Joined: Jan. 2006
|Quote (Tim Hague @ Aug. 07 2006,07:40)|
|Quote (stevestory @ July 29 2006,14:16)|
|how one views atheism vs agnosticism has to do with the philosophy of knowledge. What's the default position on a question where there's no evidence? The agnostics say, on the issue of god, that the default position should be 'I don't know'. I think their reasoning is wrong, and they're giving god an unfair break, one they would not extend to Santa Claus or Bigfoot or El Chupacabre, or any other organism whose existence is disputed.|
I think the default position on everything lacking evidence should be "we don't know". It's a big old universe out there, and we've only (partly) explored an incredibly tiny bit of it, so who's to say what might be out there? I'm not ruling out fluffy pink unicorns at this stage.
The problem - as it often is - is one of scope. We're fairly sure that Santa Claus does not live at the North Pole. But that's only because we've limited the scope of where Santa Claus could live. If the claim was that 'Santa Claus exists somewhere out there in the universe, and might be invisible/undetectable' then there really is no way to falsify that claim - the scope is simply too large.
I can say - "God in the form of an old bearded man is not currently sitting in my closet". And I can open my closet and confirm the lack of bearded old men. Small scope, confirming my hypothesis. But to say that "no God exists anywhere" is too large a scope to be realistically testable. I can't demonstrate my hypothesis, so I can't say for certain either way, just as I can't say for certain that there is no such thing as fluffy pink unicorns.
I know exactly what counts as encountering a fluffy pink unicorn or a bearded old man, but nothing at all counts for me as encountering God, so it's not possible that God exists anywhere, no matter how large or small the universe is or what is out there. It's not a matter of "scope", it's a matter of "God" being a string of letters with no coherent meaning. I can make no more sense of "God in the form of an old bearded man" than I can of "a square circle in the form of an old bearded man". For that matter, I can't make sense of "a fluffy pink unicorn in the form of an old bearded man", so I think that a sequence like "God in the form of an old bearded man", while syntactically correct, does not actually express any idea, any more than Chomsky's "green ideas dreaming furiously".