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How Far Can We Go with Absurdity?

Debate Information

If we are going to behave like robots and be politically correct we would have to say that nothing is 100% impossible. But how absurd are some people prepared to be?

For example: to state that goblins exist is absurd because there is not one piece of evidence proving so, despite the occasional ridiculous colourful anecdotal accounts or stories in fairy tale books.

And, even though strictly speaking it is not 100% impossible that such a thing exists it would still be absurd to maintain such an absurd notion.
We are therefore entitled to reasonably state goblins do not exist. It is not being arrogant but is simply common sense. The same applies to any other absurd notion that anyone could dream up.

Another example: to state that a God exists is absurd because there is not one piece of evidence proving so, despite the occasional ridiculous colourful anecdotal accounts or stories in fairy tale books.

And, even though strictly speaking it is not 100% impossible that such a thing exists it would still be absurd to maintain such an absurd notion.
We are therefore entitled to reasonably state a God does not exist. It is not being arrogant but is simply common sense.



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  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4244 Pts   -  
    In mathematics, everything that is not outlawed from existing exists. There are, in fact, even objects that cannot be constructed/described explicitly, so they would not "exist" in the conventional sense - yet they do exist as abstract objects that can even be used to prove some theorems.

    However, in mathematics everything exists in a purely conceptual sense. When we say that the function f(x) = x^2 exists, we do not mean that it is something we can touch or interact with; we mean that it is an abstract object that has certain properties and abides by certain rules, and we can play logical games with those properties and rules to derive sophisticated logical consequences of them. But none of this has any applications to reality, unless it can be demonstrated that certain properties of reality itself match those of this function. In fact, it is possible that our reality's space is intrinsically discrete, in which case continuous functions such as f(x)=x^2, at best, roughly approximate what happens in reality, and at worst, have nothing to do with reality.

    I suppose, goblins exist in the same sense: as abstract objects in abstract spaces with abstract properties. Even if they are outlawed somehow in this reality (for example, perhaps something in the properties of goblins contradicts the known laws of biology), they are not outlawed in the Forgotten Realms universe that abides by different laws than this reality. So, as a valid concept, they do exist, if not as actual sentient creatures in the known Universe.
    Maybe, it is this sense in which theists should say that god exists?
    ZeusAres42
  • SwolliwSwolliw 1328 Pts   -  
    @MayCaesar
    Maybe, it is this sense in which theists should say that god exists?

    Of course, technically you have a valid point. However, give theists an inch and they will take a light year. No matter what, they have made their minds up that God exists and finding a foot to fit the shoe is just a means to an end for them. The problem is that, given they assert there is a God, they will make up the rules and even the words that God has spoken. So, can we rule out the possibility that God spoke the words and committed the deeds as portrayed in, say, the Bible or Quran? Can we rule out that a monkey has typed the complete works of Shakespeare on a Remington?

  • ZeusAres42ZeusAres42 Emerald Premium Member 2144 Pts   -   edited January 11
    Swolliw said:
    @MayCaesar
    Maybe, it is this sense in which theists should say that god exists?

    Of course, technically you have a valid point. However, give theists an inch and they will take a light year. No matter what, they have made their minds up that God exists and finding a foot to fit the shoe is just a means to an end for them. The problem is that, given they assert there is a God, they will make up the rules and even the words that God has spoken. So, can we rule out the possibility that God spoke the words and committed the deeds as portrayed in, say, the Bible or Quran? Can we rule out that a monkey has typed the complete works of Shakespeare on a Remington?


    Can we rule out black swans exist after having observed multiple white swans and not observing any black ones @Swolliw?



  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4244 Pts   -  
    Swolliw said:

    Of course, technically you have a valid point. However, give theists an inch and they will take a light year. No matter what, they have made their minds up that God exists and finding a foot to fit the shoe is just a means to an end for them. The problem is that, given they assert there is a God, they will make up the rules and even the words that God has spoken. So, can we rule out the possibility that God spoke the words and committed the deeds as portrayed in, say, the Bible or Quran? Can we rule out that a monkey has typed the complete works of Shakespeare on a Remington?
    I really do not think that the validity of an argument should be evaluated with how this argument can be misapplied in mind. If a theist uses a correct argument to come to incorrect conclusions, then it is on them, not on the one making the original argument.

    Again, what we can or cannot rule out depends on the domain of applicability of the given claim. Can we rule out that Force from Star Wars exists? In this reality, at this point, pretty confidently so. But George Lucas never intended for Star Wars to be an accurate depiction of this reality: the Force absolutely exists as a concept, as a part of an abstract model, a fantasy world.

    In my experience, the word "exist" is used very differently by different people; even among non-theists there are various interpretations of this word. In my view, for example, something that does not have an observable effect on reality should not be considered as existing within that reality - but one of my friends strongly disagrees and claims that something not affecting the observable reality does not imply that it does not exist in that reality (that is invisible massless unicorns may exist).
    So, when someone says that god exists, a reasonable thing to say is to ask them to clarify what exactly they mean by this. Deists claim that god exists, but does not do anything; in essence, he set up the rules of the Universe before its beginning and then departed, becoming a passive observer. If that is the sense in which one uses the word "exist", then the claim makes sense, even though even in this case no evidence has been presented in favor of this claim.
  • @Swolliw
    And, even though strictly speaking it is not 100% impossible that such a thing exists it would still be absurd to maintain such an absurd notion.
    We are therefore entitled to reasonably state goblins do not exist. It is not being arrogant but is simply common sense. The same applies to any other absurd notion that anyone could dream up.

    The problem is goblins did exist and it is the witness account that is inaccurate about their creation. Goblins had been part of a practice of human experimentation early on in history as a form of warfare between competitive towns, cities, and kingdoms. The principal had been people who for one reason or another had been tortured and disfigured because of crimes or just from people looking to create problems in a Kindom. Sometimes people with emotional issues that were of great risk to public safety had been turned loose on battlefields to emotionally affect those who are fighting. We are debating over the basic idea of the cost of record-keeping for some forms of religions was sometimes at the disadvantage in the process of documenting official investigations into claims of the possessed and supernatural versus emotional illnesses.

    Imagine John Wayne Gacy do killer clowns exist?

  • dallased25dallased25 113 Pts   -   edited January 14
    MayCaesar said:
    In mathematics, everything that is not outlawed from existing exists. There are, in fact, even objects that cannot be constructed/described explicitly, so they would not "exist" in the conventional sense - yet they do exist as abstract objects that can even be used to prove some theorems.

    However, in mathematics everything exists in a purely conceptual sense. When we say that the function f(x) = x^2 exists, we do not mean that it is something we can touch or interact with; we mean that it is an abstract object that has certain properties and abides by certain rules, and we can play logical games with those properties and rules to derive sophisticated logical consequences of them. But none of this has any applications to reality, unless it can be demonstrated that certain properties of reality itself match those of this function. In fact, it is possible that our reality's space is intrinsically discrete, in which case continuous functions such as f(x)=x^2, at best, roughly approximate what happens in reality, and at worst, have nothing to do with reality.

    I suppose, goblins exist in the same sense: as abstract objects in abstract spaces with abstract properties. Even if they are outlawed somehow in this reality (for example, perhaps something in the properties of goblins contradicts the known laws of biology), they are not outlawed in the Forgotten Realms universe that abides by different laws than this reality. So, as a valid concept, they do exist, if not as actual sentient creatures in the known Universe.
    Maybe, it is this sense in which theists should say that god exists?
    Here's the problem with that type of argument. In mathematics, you include things that are mathetmatically possible. In other words, things that you could quantify somehow in some way. For example the Higgs Boson Particle. I won't go into the very complicated specifics, but in summary, it was quantum field theory that predicted the particle, based upon mathematical models. At that point the particle was simply a concept in the sense that it had not yet been proven to exist. It took many years and a very powerful particle accelerator to finally prove that it exists, which proved out the math making it more than just an abstract. Herein lies the problem for theists...at the base of the Higgs particle, there was underlying math and a model that predicted it. With "god", what model do you have and what math could you apply? We have generalized descriptions from religions and theists, but those are based upon written traditions and unverified claims. This being is claimed most times to "exist beyond nature", but still be able to interact with nature through things like prayer or natural disasters for example. The only attempt I've seen to quantify something like this was the 3 year long prayer study done by the Templeton Foundation on the effect of prayer on heart patients, yet it yielded nothing more than random chance and showed no affect at all. So if you can't demonstrate a gods affect...or influence on the natural world, yet exists beyond the natural world, then that means there's absolutely no way to apply mathematics to it, even in an abstract sense. The abstract models in math are all based upon something natural, even if it is yet to be proven, like the Higgs Boson was. This is why faith is entirely necessary and why theists don't actually have any scientific theories, or mathematical models to prove their god. The only other attempt I've seen using math was calculating the chances the universe came about by chance...but the math was quickly dismissed as without logic, because we have no universes to compare this one to, so calculating the odds of a universe by random chance vs one made by god is impossible to calculate without assuming all the numbers to begin with. So theists shouldn't even appeal to science or math at all until they come up with some of their own models that actually work. Instead all they seem to do is try to poke holes in current existing models and say "this is insufficient to explain everything, therefore god is the only answer", which of course is a logical fallacy of argument from ignorance. 
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4244 Pts   -  
    @dallased25

    I would challenge the claim that, because the Higgs boson was predicted by a scientific model before its signature being observed in an actual experiment, it exists in a real sense. Any physics model is just one of the possible models; it is quite possible that there exists an infinity of possible physical models that give accurate experimental predictions. In some of these theories, perhaps, there is no Higgs boson, but there is some other effect that is incompatible with the predominant model of physics, and that model may explain the signature found at the LHC from a very different perspective not involving the concept of "elementary particles" at all.
    We say that Higgs boson exists because its existence accords with our model and its predictions, while its non-existence does not - but, as you can see, its existence itself is predicated upon the acceptance of the model. So we get a predicament in which anything that exists is derived from the model, while the model itself is not objective and can have valid - and yet incredibly different - alternatives.

    As an analogy, our human mathematics is fundamentally build from the idea of a "set", which is essentially a collection of objects. From that, we jump onto the idea of a "group", which is a set in combination with certain relations between its objects. Everything is built up from here.
    It is not unfathomable for there to be an alien civilization somewhere that constructed its mathematics in a very different way. They could, for example, start with the concept of a wave that has some vibrations, different vibrations corresponding to different objects. They could derive effectively the same theorems as humans did, yet these theorems would make absolutely no sense to us, because they use a completely different formalization. Fermat theorem in human mathematics might not even have a counterpart in the alien mathematics, while both mathematics being perfectly applicable to other scientific fields.

    Granted, all of the above still implies that any valid model must give accurate predictions in the real world. Obviously, the idea of the Biblical god does not: at best it gives no predictions at all, and at worst its predictions directly contradict evidence. But, coming back to the idea of different modes of existence, one could say that the Biblical god exists as a concept that does have some utility as an entry to a specific moral ruleset (which I personally find reprehensible, but that is a subjective judgement). It may exist in the same sense as number "2" exists: it is used to describe something that really exists, but it in itself is just a concept. What the god is supposed to describe that really exists, I do not know - but, again, in principle, god is not supposed to describe some specific being: it could describe a concept that, in turn, is derived from some real observations.

    All of this is pretty muddy, but I think that there is something to it.
  • SwolliwSwolliw 1328 Pts   -  
    @ZeusAres42
    Can we rule out black swans exist after having observed multiple white swans and not observing any black ones @Swolliw?

    No, because to say that black swans exist is a reasonable assertion.

    We can rule out Goblins, Fairies and God because the existence of such are totally absurd assertions.

    It comes down to common sense and anyone believing such phenomena lack common sense.

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