Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level?

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Skeeve
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by Skeeve »

DanishDynamite wrote: There is nothing wrong with holding a position which is not contradicted by evidence.
There is something wrong with holding a view which is either known to be undecideable
or for which there is no smidgin of reason to believe is true.
Please tell me, kind sir, which of those positions that you hold. The first is exactly the kind of religious belief I'm talking about. The second is, as well. The third begs the meaning of the word reason, as in what constitutions a reason to believe in this case again, believe something that is in no conflict with any known evidence.

I can not quite understand your position, it appears to be at least potentially contradictory.

Now, regarding your teapot, well, that's stated inside of physics, and "massless" means just that, it's not something that exists, except perhaps if we want to make it of cold, dark matter, or one of those cosmological developments. I'm not going to comment on that, I have no idea if you can make teapots of it, whatever it is.

The idea of a deity that is not contradictory with all known evidence puts us outside of what Hammegk calls "interactive dualism", the person holding the belief is stipulating that it has no effect whatsoever on the material world. I certainly agree that there is no reason to argue for any such thing, but I also must point out there is no reason to argue against it.

In this case, I think applying Occam's principle is, while suggestive, not definitive.
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livius drusus
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by livius drusus »

Pardon my intrusion, but I've been reading this thread as a guest and now that I'm activated I can't help but post. :)
Cool Hand wrote:A skeptic should not accept that any given proposition has a truth value when that proposition is unfalsifiable. If it cannot be tested, then one should not accept it as a true proposition, not even provisionally.
Falsification is a bit of a tricky standard even in science, nevermind in theology or morality. Einstein kept believing in the ToR even after it was repeatedly falsified; the entire history of science is rife with such examples.

Why, therefore, should I apply a scientific methodology - one which is not even a particularly good EKG of science's heartbeat - to a metaphysical claim? It seems to me far more effective to utilize a variety of methodological approaches depending on the nature of the claim.

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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by Huntsman »

livius drusus wrote:Einstein kept believing in the ToR even after it was repeatedly falsified; the entire history of science is rife with such examples.
Wait, ToR? You mean the Theory of Relativity?

If so, would you care to explain "repeatedly falsified"?

Thanks.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by livius drusus »

Huntsman wrote:
livius drusus wrote:Einstein kept believing in the ToR even after it was repeatedly falsified; the entire history of science is rife with such examples.
Wait, ToR? You mean the Theory of Relativity?
Yes indeed.
If so, would you care to explain "repeatedly falsified"?
Certainly.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was experimentally falsified by both Kaufman and Miller shortly after its publication. Einstein called such falsifications "verification of little effects" and maintained the correctness of his theory. He was right; it was the experiments that were wrong.

The point is not that falsification or empiricism is useless and should be discarded and mocked without mercy, but rather that it, like any other single metholodological tool is functionally limited: by itself it can't even describe the reality of scientific processes, nevermind determine metaphysical truths.
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My pleasure.
Last edited by livius drusus on Tue Jun 29, 2004 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Huntsman »

Well, I wouldn't consider experiments run by a single group to be repeatedly falsified, but I do not know of the experiment in question, so can't really offer an opinion on this matter.

However, it was my understanding that the first real tests came with observations of stellar positions during solar eclipse, which supported one of the major aspects of the theory (gravity bends light). Can you provide a link to the experiment or data on same? Thanks.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by Cool Hand »

livius drusus wrote:Pardon my intrusion, but I've been reading this thread as a guest and now that I'm activated I can't help but post. :)
Cool Hand wrote:A skeptic should not accept that any given proposition has a truth value when that proposition is unfalsifiable. If it cannot be tested, then one should not accept it as a true proposition, not even provisionally.
Falsification is a bit of a tricky standard even in science, nevermind in theology or morality. Einstein kept believing in the ToR even after it was repeatedly falsified; the entire history of science is rife with such examples.
The General Theory of Relativity is indeed falsifiable. That simply means it can be tested. Whether or not it had been proven to be consistent with relevant data gathered using sound experiments to test it is irrelevant. Falisifiable simply means subject to being tested experimentally.

Of course, as Huntsman notes above, Einstein's GTR was indeed later empirically tested and found to be consistent with all known data. Very massive objects do indeed bend light to a measurable degree using sound methods of testing. Even if the GTR had never been empirically verified, it remains falsifiable.

Examing the theory that a creator of the universe exists or ever existed, as in one similar to the Christian God (not some nebulous notion of a prime mover, which could apply even to Alan Guth's inflationary theory), is not falsifiable, even in principle. That is to say that no empirical test can ever be designed and practiced which could provide reliable data relevant to the theory.

If you disagree, I'd love to hear of your idea for such an empirical test.
Why, therefore, should I apply a scientific methodology - one which is not even a particularly good EKG of science's heartbeat - to a metaphysical claim? It seems to me far more effective to utilize a variety of methodological approaches depending on the nature of the claim.
You shouldn't. Metaphysical claims are by definition outside the realm of scientific study or examination. Scientists don't concern themselves with them in laboratories. They might speculate on or ponder them as armchair amateur philosophers, but they know that it is merely that---speculation not subject to testing, and therefore, unanswerable.

I don't know why skeptics should try to assign truth values to metaphysical claims. Metaphysics is nothing but speculation as to the nature of reality. The most practical metaphysical worldview is naturalism or a brand of materialism, if you prefer, as it allows us to carry on our daily activities without going mad. Furthermore, without it as axiomatic, science wouldn't make much sense. I do recognize that defining that worldview, or any other for that matter, is indeed making it an axiom. That's fine. There has to be some given starting point upon which to construct a logical, internally consistent worldview. I simply find all others to be either impracticable, not internally consistent, or not consistent with relevant data gathered using scientific principles.
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Good to see you too.

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Post by livius drusus »

Huntsman wrote:Well, I wouldn't consider experiments run by a single group to be repeatedly falsified, but I do not know of the experiment in question, so can't really offer an opinion on this matter.

However, it was my understanding that the first real tests came with observations of stellar positions during solar eclipse, which supported one of the major aspects of the theory (gravity bends light). Can you provide a link to the experiment or data on same? Thanks.
Kaufman and Miller weren't working together. Kaufman's results, published the same year (1907) as Lorentz/Einstein's paper on Relativity, actually convinced Lorentz that they must have been wrong. Einstein wasn't buying it nomatter how much sense it made because he believed the theoretical underpinnings of Kaufman's results were flawed and because he quite simply believed that he was right.

You can find a brief but handy rundown of the Kaufman, Lorentz, events here. From the article:
When, in 1907, when Kaufman published electron mass results that disagreed with the observationally indistinguishable theories of Lorentz and Einstein, Lorentz was unable to continue modifying his theory to match the results; He had reached the end of his “latin” and conceded that he would not be able to make an electron based theory work. By working in the classical fashion of constructing a theory that explained one experiment then extending it to further experiments little by little, Lorentz’s position was weaker than Einstein’s.

Einstein’s unique approach to his research into relativity extended beyond the rejection of all world pictures. By beginning with just two axioms of broad scope and unassailable foundation, Einstein had built his theory in the reverse fashion. As his theory encompassed the entire universe from the start, Einstein considered it impossible for him to be fundamentally incorrect on any specific result derived from his theory. Thus Einstein knew (and stated) Kaufman’s results were incorrect.
Miller's experiments took place in 1925-26; his results were published in 1933 (The Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth) and not fully accounted for until 1955. Even now Miller's data is used in Process Physics to disprove Einsteinian relativity. There's a great description of that on page 14 of this paper by Prof. Reginald Cahill which I think captures the somewhat chaotic nature of science as it is actually practiced:
So from his 1925-1926 observations Miller had completely confirmed the true validity of the Michaelson-Morley observations and was able to conclude, contrary to their published conclusions, that the 1887 experiment had in fact detected absolute motion. But it was too late. By then the physicists had incorrectly come to believe that absolute motion was inconsistent with various 'relativistic effects' that had by then been observed. This was because the Einstein formalism had been 'derived' from the assumption that absolute motion was without meaning and so unobservable in principle. Of course the earlier interpretation of relativistic effects by Lorentz had by then lost out to the Einstein interpretation.
Anyway, I think I may be derailing this thread a little, but it seemed to germane to the question of whether Deism and skepticism are compatible.
Last edited by livius drusus on Tue Jun 29, 2004 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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livius drusus wrote:Pardon my intrusion, but I've been reading this thread as a guest and now that I'm activated I can't help but post. :)
Good heavens, no apology is needed!
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by DanishDynamite »

Skeeve wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote: There is nothing wrong with holding a position which is not contradicted by evidence.
There is something wrong with holding a view which is either known to be undecideable
or for which there is no smidgin of reason to believe is true.
Please tell me, kind sir, which of those positions that you hold. The first is exactly the kind of religious belief I'm talking about. The second is, as well. The third begs the meaning of the word reason, as in what constitutions a reason to believe in this case again, believe something that is in no conflict with any known evidence.

I can not quite understand your position, it appears to be at least potentially contradictory.
I hold all three positions as any competent scientist would.

The first statement is true of every scientific theory currently accepted. If is wasn't, i.e. if there was reliable evidence which contradicted the theory, into the abyss it would disappear.

The second statement is a direct deduction based on the definition of "undecidable".

The third statement reflects that there must be some evidence or some logical deduction from other accepted theories that a theory is "true".
Now, regarding your teapot, well, that's stated inside of physics, and "massless" means just that, it's not something that exists, except perhaps if we want to make it of cold, dark matter, or one of those cosmological developments. I'm not going to comment on that, I have no idea if you can make teapots of it, whatever it is.
That something is massless does not mean it doesn't exist. Light, for example, is massless (or if you want to be pedantic, has a restmass of 0).
The idea of a deity that is not contradictory with all known evidence puts us outside of what Hammegk calls "interactive dualism", the person holding the belief is stipulating that it has no effect whatsoever on the material world. I certainly agree that there is no reason to argue for any such thing, but I also must point out there is no reason to argue against it.
If something has no effect whatsoever on the material world, in what sense can it be said to exist?
In this case, I think applying Occam's principle is, while suggestive, not definitive.
Once again, it is my understanding that the Deity of Deism is defined in such a manner that it could not, even in principle, be detected.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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DanishDynamite wrote: ...
If something has no effect whatsoever on the material world, in what sense can it be said to exist?
In this case, I think applying Occam's principle is, while suggestive, not definitive.
Once again, it is my understanding that the Deity of Deism is defined in such a manner that it could not, even in principle, be detected.
I leave you, for now, in Livius Drusis' hands. You appear blind to some of the assumptions that you take axiomatically, and my life is too useful to spend debating when an expert is in the house.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by DanishDynamite »

livius drusus wrote:Pardon my intrusion, but I've been reading this thread as a guest and now that I'm activated I can't help but post. :)
Intrusion by opponents, especially thoughtful opponents, is always welcome.
Falsification is a bit of a tricky standard even in science, nevermind in theology or morality. Einstein kept believing in the ToR even after it was repeatedly falsified; the entire history of science is rife with such examples.
As Cool Hand has already pointed out, the important bit is whether a theory is falsifiable in principle. Is Deism falsifiable?
Why, therefore, should I apply a scientific methodology - one which is not even a particularly good EKG of science's heartbeat - to a metaphysical claim? It seems to me far more effective to utilize a variety of methodological approaches depending on the nature of the claim.
If the claim cannot be tested, you can use whatever methodology you like to discuss it, as it will be of no relevance. We can all invent untestable theories.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by DanishDynamite »

Skeeve wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote: ...
If something has no effect whatsoever on the material world, in what sense can it be said to exist?
In this case, I think applying Occam's principle is, while suggestive, not definitive.
Once again, it is my understanding that the Deity of Deism is defined in such a manner that it could not, even in principle, be detected.
I leave you, for now, in Livius Drusis' hands. You appear blind to some of the assumptions that you take axiomatically, and my life is too useful to spend debating when an expert is in the house.
OK. I've enjoyed our debate and hope to see you back at some point.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by livius drusus »

Cool Hand wrote:The General Theory of Relativity is indeed falsifiable. That simply means it can be tested. Whether or not it had been proven to be consistent with relevant data gathered using sound experiments to test it is irrelevant. Falisible simply means subject to being tested experimentally.
Does it? I rather think it means subject to being conclusively disproven experimentally, which is distinctly different from simple testability. Many more things that can be tested than can be shown to be false.
Of course, as Huntsman notes above, Einstein's GTR was indeed later empirically tested and found to be consistent with all known data.
All known data? I don't think so. There are plenty of anomalies that Einsteinian interpretations do not explain while Lorentzian or Millerian ones do. See Miller's interferometer experiments and Cahill's application of their results to quantum foam theory.
Very massive objects do indeed bend light to a measurable degree using sound methods of testing.
Sure, but that's only a small part of Relativity. I wouldn't call that datum confirmation of Einsteinian relativity as a whole.
Even if the GTR had never been empirically verified, it remains falsifiable.
If you mean falsifiable in the sense of testable or disprovable here?
Examing the theory that a creator of the universe exists or ever existed, as in one similar to the Christian God (not some nebulous notion of a prime mover, which could apply even to Alan Guth's inflationary theory), is not falsifiable, even in principle. That is to say that no empirical test can ever be designed and practiced which could provide reliable data relevant to the theory.

If you disagree, I'd love to hear of your idea for such an empirical test.
I don't disagree in the least; I just don't really care. Empiricism is simply not a methodology that I would apply to theological claims unless said claims were scientific in nature (ie, Young Earth Creationism).
You shouldn't. Metaphysical claims are by definition outside the realm of scientific study or examination.
Okay. Then why use falsifiability as a standard to determine the acceptability of a metaphysical claim if metaphyics is outside the real of empirical examination?
Scientists don't concern themselves with them in laboratories. They might speculate on or ponder them as armchair amateur philosophers, but they know that it is merely that---speculation not subject to testing, and therefore, unanswerable.
I'm not sure I understand you here. There are plenty of scientists with strongly held beliefs outside the purview of their fields. Just because a given claim is not falsifiable doesn't mean it's not answerable.
I don't know why skeptics should try to assign truth values to metaphysical claims.
They do, though, or else every skeptic would be agnostic on all non-material claims. Martin Gardner leaps to instantly to mind.
Furthermore, without it as axiomatic, science wouldn't make much sense. I do recognize that defining that worldview, or any other for that matter, is indeed making it an axiom. That's fine. There has to be some given starting point upon which to construct a logical, internally consistent worldview.
Sure, but that means you do not apply falsifiability to your foundational beliefs which from what I can see, is the same thing theists do.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by livius drusus »

DanishDynamite wrote:Intrusion by opponents, especially thoughtful opponents, is always welcome.
You are too kind, sir.
As Cool Hand has already pointed out, the important bit is whether a theory is falsifiable in principle. Is Deism falsifiable?
I don't see why it should have to be. Do you apply falsifiability to, for instance, morality issues?
If the claim cannot be tested, you can use whatever methodology you like to discuss it, as it will be of no relevance. We can all invent untestable theories.
I love my ferrets. That is a claim. Is it empirically falsifiable? I can't think how it might be tested and falsified/confirmed. I know it is true not because I can prove it but because I feel it. Falsifiability is simply not a standard that can be applied to all claims. In those instances, it's falsifiability that is of no relevance.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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livius drusus wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:As Cool Hand has already pointed out, the important bit is whether a theory is falsifiable in principle. Is Deism falsifiable?
I don't see why it should have to be. Do you apply falsifiability to, for instance, morality issues?
Is there a theory of morality which makes a claim? If so, certainly I would first ask whether it was falsifiable.
I love my ferrets. That is a claim. Is it empirically falsifiable?
With a sufficiently well defined version of the word "love", I don't see why not, at least in principle.
I can't think how it might be tested and falsified/confirmed. I know it is true not because I can prove it but because I feel it.
So tell me how you feel exactly. What are the bounderies of this love? Could this love disappear? Under what circumstances might it disappear? Are there graduations of this love or is one simply either in love or not in love? At what point does one know that one is now in love? Etc, etc.
Falsifiability is simply not a standard that can be applied to all claims. In those instances, it's falsifiability that is of no relevance.
Convince me.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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DanishDynamite wrote:
So tell me how you feel exactly. What are the bounderies of this love? Could this love disappear? Under what circumstances might it disappear? Are there graduations of this love or is one simply either in love or not in love? At what point does one know that one is now in love? Etc, etc.
Is this not mistaken? Love, feelings, preferences, opinions are all internal states that can not be directly examined, and what's more, they can be changed by external examination, or even by pure internal reflection.

A love of ferrets need not be rational, it need not be consistant, and it need not be anything but a love for ferrets.

How can you verify something if it need not be stable over time, if it need not be constant, consistant, or unchangable?

How would you verify such a thing, and what would a verification mean after you finished it?
Falsifiability is simply not a standard that can be applied to all claims. In those instances, it's falsifiability that is of no relevance.
Convince me.
How can falsifiability have any meaning to something that can be changed on a whim, or by randomness?

I think the cat is a good example, is it dead, is it alive, or does the idea have meaning before you open the box. How can you falsify something that is purely an internal state before you observe it, and potentially change its state by doing so?
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

Post by DanishDynamite »

Skeeve wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
So tell me how you feel exactly. What are the bounderies of this love? Could this love disappear? Under what circumstances might it disappear? Are there graduations of this love or is one simply either in love or not in love? At what point does one know that one is now in love? Etc, etc.
Is this not mistaken? Love, feelings, preferences, opinions are all internal states that can not be directly examined, and what's more, they can be changed by external examination, or even by pure internal reflection.

A love of ferrets need not be rational, it need not be consistant, and it need not be anything but a love for ferrets.

How can you verify something if it need not be stable over time, if it need not be constant, consistant, or unchangable?

How would you verify such a thing, and what would a verification mean after you finished it?
All feelings are states of mind and there is no reason to suppose that the mind is anything more than a brain process. Hence, if one can define exactly the boundaries whithin which one can be said to be in love, it is in principle possible to test whether that brain-state is currently active.
How can falsifiability have any meaning to something that can be changed on a whim, or by randomness?
Well, if it can change randomly from moment to moment, what exactly does it mean to be in love? That, by the way, was the very question I asked at the start.
I think the cat is a good example, is it dead, is it alive, or does the idea have meaning before you open the box. How can you falsify something that is purely an internal state before you observe it, and potentially change its state by doing so?
Let's not get into the subleties of quantum physics unless we have to. Just be assured that everything we know about quantum physics has been arrived at by having falsifiable theories.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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DanishDynamite wrote:All feelings are states of mind and there is no reason to suppose that the mind is anything more than a brain process. Hence, if one can define exactly the boundaries whithin which one can be said to be in love, it is in principle possible to test whether that brain-state is currently active.
A feeling is a fickle thing. How can you be sure you haven't changed it while you were testing it?
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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Skeeve wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:All feelings are states of mind and there is no reason to suppose that the mind is anything more than a brain process. Hence, if one can define exactly the boundaries whithin which one can be said to be in love, it is in principle possible to test whether that brain-state is currently active.
A feeling is a fickle thing. How can you be sure you haven't changed it while you were testing it?
By doing the math.
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Re: Skepticism and Deism - Are they compatable at some level

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DanishDynamite wrote:
Skeeve wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:All feelings are states of mind and there is no reason to suppose that the mind is anything more than a brain process. Hence, if one can define exactly the boundaries whithin which one can be said to be in love, it is in principle possible to test whether that brain-state is currently active.
A feeling is a fickle thing. How can you be sure you haven't changed it while you were testing it?
By doing the math.
Demonstrate, please.
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