Re: Does the use of Logic and Reason still support the belief in gods?
I have been reading the forum for a few days, and this is my first post.
"It seems that living a life of virtue in accordance with human and universal nature does not require or support supernatural beliefs."
I agree with your use of the word "require", but disagree with the "or support" part. If it is true that there are no concrete logical arguments which prove or disprove the existence of supernatural beings, which is the case AFAIK, then an individual with a rational basis for their opinions would not be able to completely discount the possibility that supernatural beings exist.
Can an individual's faith (either in gods or their absence) ever be completely based on reason?
- Hello John,
All that science can do is show that things happen a certain way. That's it. Even doing this rests on the absolutely huge assumption that the universe is strictly regular, and that things that happen will happen the same way again. You cannot prove with science this one massive assumption that science rests on. As an example of faith, it must be the biggest ever entertained in the history of human culture. And don't forget that science can never prove anything. It can only ever disprove -- and that's if the Big Assumption is true.
The jump from showing that to showing how or why is a very big one that is almost always ignored. Perhaps, by some, the distinction isn't even understood. So someone believes in atoms and electrons, and negative charge, and such? But what has really happened? They have set up some stuff, wired in some batteries, seen some lights come on, or a dial move. Not an atom or an electron anywhere. The fabric of the universe is deduced from lights and dials. Maybe the deduction is good, but you can never prove you've made the right deduction, let alone that yours is correct and all rivals wrong.
>>>Would you say it is logical to choose to believe in god(s) even if god's existence is forever beyond the scientific method to prove or disprove?<<<
For myself, I think it is logical to believe in God because I think (as many here will be all too familiar) that the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God is sound. (Look in the Files section of the forum for the file I posted ages ago.)
Might I ask you whether you think that other people beside yourself have self-conscious experiences (for example)? I contend that this truth (if it is) cannot be established by any scientific experiments that you might undertake. Yet I'm sure you believe it.
When you make judgements of value, how do you know your judgements have any merit if they cannot be verified by science? Similarly, science cannot help you to decide or prove questions of morality. Would it be wrong of me to steal all your stuff? Science cannot show that it is...
This is, of course, the Age of Science. The tragedy is that too few people appreciate how limited science is for dealing with questions that really matter, and too many people have a ridiculously over-inflated confidence that science can do all sorts of things that in fact it cannot.
>>>One of the basic rules of logic is - extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that, what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.<<<
What makes a claim extraordinary? What makes appropriate evidence? For instance, far more people claim to have seen a ghost than claim to have been the planet Neptune. Yet I would imagine that you doubt the existence of ghosts and accept to the point of certainly the existence of Neptune? Why is some eye-witness evidence bad, but other eye-witness evidence good?
Logic concerns valid deduction and the detection of sound arguments. Logic in itself has nothing to say about which claims are more extraordinary than other claims. Logic can assess an argument about what makes evidence good evidence, but cannot by itself decide the question. As far as I can see, anyway.
I am very pleased to hear that you have found my book helpful.
It's an honor to have you weigh in on this topic. I thoroughly enjoyed your Stoic Serenity book and continue to review it every few weeks to reinforce my practice of Stoic philosophy.
I respect your knowledge of Stoic philosophy and would value your opinion on this topic, even if we disagree in the end.
You stated: "As for God, science does not pretend to be able to say anything about God. The existence of God is beyond scientific method to prove or disprove. There are no observations to be made, no hypotheses to test, no experiments to undertake whose outcomes can make any difference either way to the question of God's existence."
For arguments sake, let's say I completely agree with you on this statement. Would you say it is logical to choose to believe in god(s) even if god's existence is forever beyond the scientific method to prove or disprove? How would this fit with the stoic sense of reason? Is this any different now than in ancient times?
One of the basic rules of logic is - extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that, what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. With this in mind I would say it is illogical to believe in things without evidence, especially things that are as extraordinary as gods (or pixies). For example, I could make up an endless list of claims that nobody could disprove but I don't think it would be reasonable to believe me just because you couldn't disprove my claims.
I don't think anyone on the forum really wants to have an endless debate about the existence of gods, but I do think it is worthwhile to debate whether or not it is logical and reasonable to hold beliefs without proof.
Looking forward to your response,
--- In email@example.com, Keith Seddon <K.H.S@...> wrote:
> Hello John,
> At the risk of talking beside the point, because I have not been
> attending to the thread as closely as I might, I have some observations:
> >>>It seems that people who choose to believe in supernatural beings do
> so on faith and do not follow the modern science of logic to reach their
> Do you mean by supernatural beings God? Or other entities, such as
> pixies, ghosts, fairies, and suchlike? Or God PLUS the others?
> Science really has nothing to say on this topic, either way. It might be
> odd, or even astonishing, that there is no evidence for pixies if in
> fact pixies exist. But lack of evidence for pixies is not proof of lack
> of pixies.
> As for God, science does not pretend to be able to say anything about
> God. The existence of God is beyond scientific method to prove or
> disprove. There are no observations to me made, no hypotheses to test,
> no experiments to undertake whose outcomes can make any difference
> either way to the question of God's existence.
> On the other hand, the discovery of a fairy skeleton complete with DNA
> would be pretty cool...