Challenges to an Agnostic

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Challenges to an Agnostic

#1  Postby scherado » Dec 19, 2018 2:48 pm

Any self-respecting Agnostic labors in consideration of any and all the subjects for which, "I don't know," is the conclusion. Any self-respecting Agnostic will be receptive to reconsideration. It is this type of Agnostic's superior intellectual conscience that leads one to conclude that more information is needed on the several ultimate questions, one of which is the existence of a creator of the Universe and life on Earth (origins), but also myriad conceptions of god and the Earthly role of such an entity -- to use a neutral word. There are other threads in which some of these subjects have been debated: This is not another, though anyone should feel free to attack, attack, attack my assertion of the intellectual concience.

There was a time that I thought it would be a good idea to be observant for any "signs," yes, evidence of god, God, denominational or non-denominational, any god, The Big Cheese, whom I'll call God out of respect to believers. This is the sense I mean by "challenges to an Agnostic." (I'm still open to such things.)

Probably from seeing the movie Contact, I thought that any, "sign," would be Mathematical in theme; that it would be an event so improbable as to have an incomprehensibly small likelihood of occurring. I experienced such a thing. Or did I? You decide.

It was 2007. The event involves a well-used, 25-year old, 1009-page, soft-cover dictionary. I was driving home from work and heard a man on the radio use a word and I did not know it's definition and that I must look it up when I got home. I forgot about the whole thing and found myself reposed on my couch when I thought about the word. Within reach lay the dictionary on a coffee table. I thought this would be a perfect chance to contrive an opportunity for a "sign," as opposed to a passive observation of a sign.

In other words, I set the stage, defined the terms. They were: I would close my eyes and attempt to open the 1009-page dictionary to the exact page of the word's definition. I may have attempted such a thing a few dozen times over my life, but with my eyes open: all those previous occassions were simply attempts at saving time and, hence, I estimated by sight where I ought to open whatever dictionary I had. Yet, adding the eyes-closed criterion for this experiment does not accomplish much: The current subject word was a c-word so I knew that it's entry would be approximately somewhere after the first 75 pages and not in the last 2/3 of the book. How could I actually make this meaningful knowing where the word would not be found, even doing it blind? Having gone this far, I thought, "What the hell...," and did the best I could.

It's not hard to guess -- there wouldn't be a story to tell otherwise -- that I did open the dictionary to the exact page, to the bleeping word.

Oy.

Having never, ever done this successfully, I was a bit taken aback. You may think this is the punchline. but it is not.

Being exceedingly rational and of sound mind <*cough*>, I thought that there must be something about the dictionary that made it very likely that I would open to that very page. Right? Well, ...

... there was and this is the KILLER: the binding had worn over 25 years of use to that very page causing me, with eyes closed, to make a natural stop at the one-and-only split in the binding.

The implications of this made me more than a little uncomfortable. How the bleep could it have happened in just this way? How many words could the man on the radio have uttered that fell on that very page, the definitions to which I didn't know that he did know and that he would use given the narrow subject of his comments? (I think I hurt myself typing that sentence.)

Never mind all that! The damned thing wore in a single spot over 25 years! (It would be somewhat less impressive had there been multiple splits, but not much less.)

So again, how could this happen? Eleven years later, I haven't convinced myself to conclude it a "coincidence." If not that, then how could all these elements be contrived or be "made" to conspire to result in this specific outcome? In order for "conspire" to be the correct word, then the definition of the all-everything (omni-- (fill-in the blank) Christian God could make it possible. What other kind of being could make several, essential events occur in the future and all contingent upon the necessity of a single binding-wear in the past, over the 25 years I'd carried, used, but never replaced the dictionary? I must add that I had a huge, 1922 Webster's dictionary that I cherished, but sold for the need of money. I still regret parting with that dictionary and it was devoid of any binding splits when it was 85 years old. <*gak*> If I kept that dictionary ... no story to tell.

Despite this "challenge" to being Agnostic, I have not embraced the existence of God, not even a "higher power," other than, "powers greater than myself" that are Earthly. For example, the power of certain groups ...
... of the F'n police, and judges and prosecuting attorneys.

I suppose that it didn't persuade. Are you persuaded?
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#2  Postby SafeAsMilk » Dec 19, 2018 3:43 pm

scherado wrote:Any self-respecting Agnostic labors in consideration of any and all the subjects for which, "I don't know," is the conclusion.

No agnostic without too much time on their hands labors in consideration about the existence of Bigfoot, or how many angels fit on the head of a pin. Some folks have actual, legitimate concerns to occupy their intellectual energies. By your measure, I could make up literally anything and keep making up things about it, and you'd have to labor in consideration of it. If one has the time, dwelling in their parent's basement waiting for their mummy to fix them chicken tendies with honey mussy sauce, then they're welcome to do so. But I'll be pointing and laughing if they decide to lecture about "intellectual conscience".

Are you persuaded?

I'm not persuaded by your bald anecdote, no. But perhaps you'd like me to tell you about your Lord and Savior, Tildak...
"They call it the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -- George Carlin
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#3  Postby laklak » Dec 19, 2018 3:50 pm

Do do do do /twilight zone theme song
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#4  Postby scherado » Dec 19, 2018 3:58 pm

laklak wrote:Do do do do /twilight zone theme song

Do do do you identify yourself as anything, with respect to religion?
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#5  Postby TopCat » Dec 19, 2018 6:14 pm

scherado wrote:I suppose that it didn't persuade. Are you persuaded?

Persuaded of what, exactly?

It's certainly not remarkable in the least that a softback would have a single break in the binding - obviously once there's a break, it's going to open there all the time, and not stress the rest of the binding much at all.

Is it remarkable that the break happened to be where your word was? Maybe a little. But I'd bet it's not more remarkable than winning the lottery, and people do that all the time.

If you buy a lottery ticket, and say "ok God, give me a sign", and you win the lottery, is that evidence of God? Of course it isn't, as you might win the lottery anyway.

Come back when you can predict unlikely things more reliably. Predict them here, in public, in advance, preferably in posts about 50 times shorter than usual. If God's giving you signs, you're obviously a Chosen One, so it shouldn't be too hard.

:coffee:
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#6  Postby laklak » Dec 19, 2018 6:26 pm

scherado wrote:
laklak wrote:Do do do do /twilight zone theme song

Do do do you identify yourself as anything, with respect to religion?


Agnostic atheist is probably the closest.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that - Oscar Wilde
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#7  Postby Hermit » Dec 19, 2018 7:16 pm

Nobody has managed to explain to me by what criterion we can determine the point at which something becomes so unlikely that it could not possibly have occurred without the intercession of a supernatural entity. Until then an (un)likelihood, no matter how great or small the odds, will always remain just that - an (un)likelihood.

There is a name for the error one makes when thinking otherwise: Divine fallacy. It's also known, somewhat ironically, as the argument from incredulity. "X must be the result of superior, divine, alien or supernatural cause because it is unimaginable for it not to be so." Theists usually resort to it in conjunction with the fine-tuned universe.

Next.
God is the mysterious veil under which we hide our ignorance of the cause. - Léo Errera


God created the universe
God just exists
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#8  Postby laklak » Dec 19, 2018 7:17 pm

Combine the two and you get the "stupid puddle" argument.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#9  Postby SafeAsMilk » Dec 19, 2018 7:22 pm

As in, you've gotta be a drip to believe it!
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#10  Postby The_Piper » Dec 19, 2018 7:28 pm

I can use this thread to tell another story. :teef:
A few friends and I used to hold elaborate rock skipping contests at various places such as lakes, rivers, and the mighty Atlantic. This time we were on a rocky shore at the mighty Atlantic, and the game was to bounce a rock off of other rocks and create the most ricochets. My friend threw a normal-sized rock into the field and after several ricochets in various directions, he opened his throwing hand and the rock landed right back in it. Neither of us mentioned god or destiny, though I do credit him as the all-time rock skipping champion between us friends.
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#11  Postby SafeAsMilk » Dec 19, 2018 7:36 pm

That's just you ignoring the hand of God. I mean, with a miraculous occurrence so mundane, it's hard to imagine there's any message in it besides "Use this throwaway situation to prop up your belief in God!", but this is God we're talking about, so there must be. I'm reminded of a certain jug of milk...
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#12  Postby Cito di Pense » Dec 19, 2018 7:47 pm

Hermit wrote:Nobody has managed to explain to me by what criterion we can determine the point at which something becomes so unlikely that it could not possibly have occurred without the intercession of a supernatural entity. Until then an (un)likelihood, no matter how great or small the odds, will always remain just that - an (un)likelihood.

There is a name for the error one makes when thinking otherwise: Divine fallacy. It's also known, somewhat ironically, as the argument from incredulity. "X must be the result of superior, divine, alien or supernatural cause because it is unimaginable for it not to be so." Theists usually resort to it in conjunction with the fine-tuned universe.

Next.


Well, you still have all your work ahead of you to show that your invention of a supernatural entity, whether or not you have a positive belief about it, is some kind of innovation, such that we can ask the question again. We don't take the goat-roasters seriously on supernatural entities, and so all the knowledge that has accumulated since they did their thing hasn't really layered anything onto the supernatural entity that intercedes in some magical way when you can't explain what happened. But you should know better than to consider such a cockamamie scheme, one you know was invented by goat-roasters and has not appreciated in value since then. Depreciated, that's what's happened, unless you like buying bullshit at a discount.

There's only one issue here, and it seems to be that some deep thinkers aren't prepared to accept their existence as profoundly and unmistakably unintentional. What a blow to the old ego is accepting that intentionality is a goat-roaster idea. We don't have to go down that road. Not one step. People think they have intentions. Why not then a God that you can't rule out? It amounts to saying the goat-roasters were onto something. Ah, the noble savage!
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#13  Postby The_Piper » Dec 19, 2018 8:11 pm

SafeAsMilk wrote:That's just you ignoring the hand of God. I mean, with a miraculous occurrence so mundane, it's hard to imagine there's any message in it besides "Use this throwaway situation to prop up your belief in God!", but this is God we're talking about, so there must be. I'm reminded of a certain jug of milk...

A miraculous occurrence so mundane. Well it did give me an actual "cool story bro". :mrgreen:
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#14  Postby zoon » Dec 19, 2018 8:39 pm

scherado wrote:..
Probably from seeing the movie Contact, I thought that any, "sign," would be Mathematical in theme; that it would be an event so improbable as to have an incomprehensibly small likelihood of occurring. I experienced such a thing. Or did I? You decide.

It was 2007. The event involves a well-used, 25-year old, 1009-page, soft-cover dictionary. I was driving home from work and heard a man on the radio use a word and I did not know it's definition and that I must look it up when I got home. I forgot about the whole thing and found myself reposed on my couch when I thought about the word. Within reach lay the dictionary on a coffee table. I thought this would be a perfect chance to contrive an opportunity for a "sign," as opposed to a passive observation of a sign.

In other words, I set the stage, defined the terms. They were: I would close my eyes and attempt to open the 1009-page dictionary to the exact page of the word's definition. I may have attempted such a thing a few dozen times over my life, but with my eyes open: all those previous occassions were simply attempts at saving time and, hence, I estimated by sight where I ought to open whatever dictionary I had. Yet, adding the eyes-closed criterion for this experiment does not accomplish much: The current subject word was a c-word so I knew that it's entry would be approximately somewhere after the first 75 pages and not in the last 2/3 of the book. How could I actually make this meaningful knowing where the word would not be found, even doing it blind? Having gone this far, I thought, "What the hell...," and did the best I could.

It's not hard to guess -- there wouldn't be a story to tell otherwise -- that I did open the dictionary to the exact page, to the bleeping word.

Oy.

Having never, ever done this successfully, I was a bit taken aback....

You say that you have played this game "a few dozen times", and that each time you open the dictionary approximately where the word would be. I've had a go, with some googling, at calculating an approximation to the odds of getting it right at least once. Suppose that the chance of getting it right on any one occasion is 1/100: that is, that you choose somewhere in the 100 pages of the dictionary which would have the word (e.g. opening somewhere between page 60 and 160 for a word beginning with c). Suppose that you have played this game 100 times (you say "a few dozen"). The formula for tossing a die with m sides n times which my googling reached is 1-(1-1/m)^n: this formula, if I understood the helpful poster on the mathematics stack exchange correctly, gives the chance of getting a particular one of the m sides at least once in n tosses. (The link is here, the last of the 5 answers.) Putting 100 in for both m and n in this formula got me 0.63... In other words, after 100 tries your chance of getting it right at least once is better than half. So I don't see your story as an improbable one? If anything, your run of never getting the right page after a few dozen tries was starting to look like bad luck? Somebody here may well demolish my highly inexpert statistics.
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#15  Postby Fallible » Dec 19, 2018 8:43 pm

scherado wrote:Any self-respecting Agnostic



BZZZZZ. You committed a fallacy in your opening sentence fragment. Access are denied.
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#16  Postby SafeAsMilk » Dec 19, 2018 9:05 pm

The_Piper wrote:
SafeAsMilk wrote:That's just you ignoring the hand of God. I mean, with a miraculous occurrence so mundane, it's hard to imagine there's any message in it besides "Use this throwaway situation to prop up your belief in God!", but this is God we're talking about, so there must be. I'm reminded of a certain jug of milk...

A miraculous occurrence so mundane. Well it did give me an actual "cool story bro". :mrgreen:

Every "cool story bro" brings one closer to a full knowledge in Christ :pray:
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#17  Postby surreptitious57 » Dec 19, 2018 11:10 pm

scherado wrote:
Are you persuaded

One of the things that ground apes like to do is fill in the gaps
I prefer to leave them as they are until I have at least some basic understanding of what it is I am filling them with
The Universe is way too complex for our brains to understand and that is not even what it or us is actually here for
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#18  Postby TopCat » Dec 20, 2018 2:04 pm

Hermit wrote:Nobody has managed to explain to me by what criterion we can determine the point at which something becomes so unlikely that it could not possibly have occurred without the intercession of a supernatural entity. Until then an (un)likelihood, no matter how great or small the odds, will always remain just that - an (un)likelihood.

If you won the lottery, I wouldn't put it down to anything other than excellent luck.

But if you predicted the lottery numbers, and they came up, and then you showed that you could do it reliably, then we would be justified in suspecting that something non-random was going on.

Obviously if that was the case, it wouldn't follow that Goddidit, nor that you had an open psychic window into the future, and it would probably be fairly easy to sleuth out how you'd managed to knobble the lottery machine.

But if someone started reliably and instantaneously restoring amputated limbs, that would be a different matter and it would be ridiculous to just write it off as "unlikely but so what".

Clearly there would be something Going On (TM) which would warrant investigation.

Again, it wouldn't follow that Goddidit. As I've opined elsewhere I think it would be more likely (whatever that means) that it was super-advanced benevolent aliens that had just arrived on the scene, than the god of the goat-roasters, who has been singularly rubbish at regrowing limbs ever since he was invented.

But unlike the amazing ricocheting rock, I don't believe there's anyone here for whom the supreme unlikelihood of the regrowing limbs would be worthy of no more than applause.
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#19  Postby Cito di Pense » Dec 20, 2018 3:43 pm

TopCat wrote:But if someone started reliably and instantaneously restoring amputated limbs, that would be a different matter and it would be ridiculous to just write it off as "unlikely but so what".


God knows everyone is waiting for a sign just like that one. God is much cleverer than that. Only the very wise will see the signs. It's pretty much the gold standard for wisdom among those who can barely tie their shoelaces.

Why did somebody dream up the amputee example? Were they really all that wise? The fact that you're still trying to figure out what kind of sign would convince you of the existence of God is already a bad sign.

TopCat wrote:it was super-advanced benevolent aliens that had just arrived on the scene,


How is that different? It's just another fucking story dreamed up by somebody with too much time on his hands. If you can tell me the point of creating stories like this, unless it's just for entertainment, I'm all ears.

As I've said on more than one occastion, if I started raving about signs from God, I'd figure I'd gone round the bend. The problem is that I'd probably be too far-gone at that point to try to reverse course.
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Re: Challenges to an Agnostic

#20  Postby laklak » Dec 20, 2018 4:11 pm

Super advanced aliens are far more likely than Jehovah or one of his ilk. I've seen Star Trek, man, the truth is out there.
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