On Design in the Universe

The idea that there is design in the universe, and that this design is evidence of a designer, is an argument often put forward by believers.  The argument from design is one that is easy to draw the listener into, and can be quite compelling to those that look only on the surface.  When asked to ‘prove it’ the arguer need only wave his arm around pointing to their environment, or to the wider universe, and say ‘there is my proof’.  Many non-believers have heard the statement ‘the proof is all around you’ when asking the believer for proof of God, and this argument is implicitly alluded to in that statement.  It is not the only thing alluded to in that statement of course, and the main point of the ‘proof is all around you’ statement is the fact that there is existence at all.  However, deeper examination of the statement will lead to the argument from design.  Here we will look at various versions of the argument from design, as well as some of the counters to the argument, drawing mainly on criticisms of the argument from David Hume.  By doing so we will ask questions about how compelling the argument from design is, as well as how compelling the criticisms of the argument from design are. So, what is the argument from design?

The argument from design

Most people will be familiar with the argument from design, also referred to as ‘the teleological argument’, however, for the sake of clarity we will explore the argument before moving on to the counterarguments.  The argument from design, of course, is the argument that there appears to be design in the universe, from the smallest of things to the universe itself, and where we find something that was designed, we also find a designer.  Design is also indication of some level of intelligence.  So, bearing this in mind, the universe, being designed, must also have an intelligent designer.  This designer, according to theistic arguments, is God.  That of course is a very rough breakdown of the argument, but gives some basic idea to the fundamental idea underlying it.  The argument is used by many contemporary theists, and is the basis for Paley’s Watchmaker argument, and is also the argument that can be found in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

A teleological argument syllogism

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To break it down in a more formal manner, the argument goes somewhat like this:

P1) The universe is a highly organised and complex system, and one that is perfectly suited to causing particular effects.
P2) Some human made objects are highly organised and complex systems, and are systems that are perfectly suited to causing particular effects.
C1) Therefore there are similarities between the universe and human made objects.
P3) Where two things resemble each other, so too do their causes.
C2) Therefore the cause of nature resembles the cause of human creations.
P4) Human creations are caused to exist by intelligent designers.
C3) Therefore the natural world was caused by an intelligent designer.

Paley’s Watchmaker

This is the underlying argument in Paley’s Watchmaker argument, but Paley gives us a way to visualise the idea somewhat (Himma, 1995).  Paley’s argument asks us to imagine ourselves coming across a pocket watch in the desert.  Upon coming in contact with this pocket watch we immediately know that there is a watchmaker that created it.  Its design, its intricacies, the many parts that work together to keep the time and move the hands in a particular way, all point towards it having a designer and a watchmaker.  More about Paley’s watchmaker argument can be found in Artificial Agent’s excellent article ‘Dismantling the Watchmaker’ here at AiR. As stated though, the underlying argument behind it somewhat resembles the above formal argument.  Close enough to the above formal argument, at least, for many of the following counterarguments to be useful for Paley’s Watchmaker argument, as well as the many other forms of the teleological argument.  So, what are some of the counterarguments for the teleological argument?

A brief look at Hume’s counterarguments

The above formal argument somewhat represents the first argument put forward by Cleanthes to Philo in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Hume in Cottingham, 2008).  To this argument Hume responds with an argument not unlike his argument concerning the problem of induction. The simplest explanation is to say that even when we have seen something a thousand times, we have no good reason to assume that it will always be the case.  It may make something more probable, but it does not necessarily make it the case.  For example, we may have seen a thousand white swans in the past, and this would give us reason to believe that it is probable that all swans are white.  It does not, however, give us reason to declare that all swans are white.    So, just as with the discovery of black swans, we might discover some things do not need an intelligent designer.  However, while this gives us reason to insert doubt into the claim that the appearance of design implies a designer, it is not a compelling enough argument to dispel the idea all together.  It simply criticises the reasoning behind inferring a designer for the universe from other designed things.

Though it does bring us to a criticism based along similar lines.  An argument often used, and one that is a shorthand form of Paley’s watchmaker argument, goes something along the lines of ‘when we see a painting, we know there is a painter’.  Hume covers this somewhat in his dialogues when he states ‘that a stone will fall, that fire will burn, that the earth has solidity, we have observed a thousand times and a thousand times more’ (Hume in Cottingham, 2008, p366).  There is something intuitive to the claim that when we see a painting, we know there is a painter; and it is for reasons similar to what Hume states.  We know that there is a painter involved because it is something that we have observed ‘a thousand times and a thousand times more’ (Hume in Cottingham, 2008, p366).  Consider that when we come across a car, we do not automatically infer that it is a sculpture created by an artist, and it is because of our experience with how cars are made that we do not infer that it is a sculpture created by an artist.  This means that in order to make the same kind of inference with a universe we would had to have come across the creation of a universe ‘a thousand times and a thousand times more’ in order for the inference to be the same as that of a painter or a watch.  However, to argue that the argument from design is simply based on the inference made by arguments like ‘when we see a watch we know there is a watchmaker’ and ‘when we see a painting we know there is a painter’ would be to argue from a faulty position.  For it is not simply the like effects equal like causes arguments that the argument is based on, there is also the argument from intricacy.

Paley’s watchmaker involves the argument from intricacy by making an analogy to the gears of a watch, all working in a complex and interconnected manner to bring about a particular end, with that end being the moving of the watch hands to show us the correct time (Himma, 1995).  Hume includes this kind of analogy in his dialogue using the example of a house and an architect.  In the dialogue Cleanthes argues that the interconnectedness and complexity of the structure gives us cause to infer that there was an intelligent designer behind the structure.  In Hume’s dialogue Cleanthes goes on to relate this interconnectedness and complexity of the structure to the structure found in the universe.  Again, there is a certain intuition that this claim brings to the fore.  When we look at the universe, or even just the human body, we see complexity, and we see the body function in a certain way where certain ends are brought about by that complexity.  This intuition can be used to drive further intuitions that agreement with arguments like Paley’s watchmaker argument. 

In response to this Hume brings up here is similar point to the one made previously about having no good reason to believe that simply because we have come across something before, it does not mean it will necessarily be the case the next time.  Think back to the swan example in the previous paragraph.  A simple example here is natural interconnected networks of caves, these give an appearance that they have been designed this way; with tunnels looking as though they have been purposefully and mindfully carved out in order to allow access between caves.  However, there was no mindfulness or purpose involved in the creation of the tunnels between caves.  Natural processes have created them, not intelligence.  However, following the logic of the argument from complexity, we would have to conclude that these networks of caves had an intelligent designer, an architect that designed and built the caves and their connecting tunnels.  So, as Hume states, just because we have seen something before, and something else resembles it, it does not mean we have reason to infer like causes.  Of course, as with previously, this is not a compelling enough argument to outright dismiss the argument from design.  The argument simply gives us cause to doubt the claim that appearance of design automatically infers a designer.

Hume brings up several other points regarding the argument from architecture, such as whether we can learn information about the origin of something, or how it came to be, simply from examining a small part of that something.  However, as with the previous arguments, none of Hume’s arguments are compelling enough to allow us to dispel the argument from design outright.  Instead they give us good reason to doubt that the appearance of design infers an intelligent designer.  Hume does bring up an excellent point later in the dialogue, ‘for aught we can know a priori, matter may contain the source or spring of order originally within itself’ (Hume in Cottingham, 2008, p367).  Considering that Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species was nearly a century away from being published, this is somewhat of a prophetic statement.  For since Hume’s argument we have come to learn the theory of evolution, and the theory of evolution has enabled us to learn and understand how matter can indeed arrange itself, and contain the ‘source or spring of order originally within itself’ (Hume in Cottingham, 2008, p367).  Further investigation into genetic encoding, DNA, mutations, natural selection, and more, has enabled us to see how the appearance of design can come about naturally, and without the hand of an intelligent designer.

As with the other arguments though, while evolution and natural selection does give us a method of understanding how the appearance of design can come about through completely natural processes, it is not a compelling enough argument to outright dismiss or shut down the idea of intelligent design.  This is because there are still gaps in our knowledge, and these gaps allow the proponent of intelligent design to further reduce the conversation.  These further reductions allow the proponent to argue for why intelligence is needed, and offer further examples of design.  One such proponent is Stephen Meyer, a scientist that promotes intelligent design.  Meyer gives us an example of how a gap in knowledge can be used to offer an argument for design.  One argument that Meyer offers us is ‘the argument for design from biological information’, with this argument being based upon the idea that ‘RNA, DNA, and similar ingredients of biological cells are, apparently, not products of evolution, but preconditions’ (Chappell, 2011, p94).  These preconditions, and the inability to fully explain their origins, allows an argument to be made that design was necessary in order for these to come about.  These gaps in knowledge allow inferences and questions to be raised.  While those who reject the idea of intelligent design may not find these arguments compelling, those that hold to the idea of intelligent design do.

Like many other mysterious gaps that were once filled using a ‘divine hand’, we may discover that there are purely natural forces at work.  Just as with evolution, we may discover that the ‘laws’ of the universe function in such a way that allow these things to happen.  These ‘laws’ may work in such a way that enables an appearance of design at the deepest levels of the structure of the universe.  Though herein lies another problem with any argument against design, the proponent of intelligent design can simply reduce the argument even further by asking ‘well where did these laws come from?’ or ‘who designed these laws?’, as well as other similar questions.  Many who argue with proponents of the argument from design will have come across this question, or the claim that ‘laws imply a law maker’.  The ‘god of the gaps’ thinking is considered fallacious of course, but fallacious or not it is in these gaps that we find the proponents for intelligent design.  The intuitions brought about by the appearance of design in the universe, at both the small and large scale, allow these ‘god of the gaps’ arguments to be more convincing to certain people than they ought to be.

It is also these gaps that stop us from being able to create a truly compelling argument against the argument from design, and the idea of intelligent design.  As those who wish to argue for it, or wish to be convinced by it, can at this time find some gap in which their argument can be inserted.  However, it is also these gaps in knowledge, along with the above arguments, such as the self-arranging nature of various parts of the universe, that allow us to cast doubt on these arguments.  So, while arguments like Hume’s raise excellent points, and allow us to cast doubt on the argument from design, they are not truly compelling.  There is nothing in them that allows us to show that there is no design in the universe, and no intelligence behind any of the perceived design, or that it needs at least some level of intelligent design.  Those already convinced of the faultiness of the intelligent design argument will find these arguments convincing of course, however, they are not compelling enough to completely convince those who are already convinced by the intelligent design argument.  Though this does not mean that it will always be the case, for we still have much discovering to do, and much discovery to come.  As those gaps get smaller and smaller, the arguments against design will become more and more compelling, and the arguments for design less and less convincing.

References
Chappell, T. (2011) The Philosophy of Religion. Milton Keynes, The Open University,

Himma, K. E. (1995) Design Arguments for the Existence of God [Online] The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) (ISSN 2161-0002), Available at https://www.iep.utm.edu/design/#SH1c (Accessed 3 August 2019).

Hume, D. ‘The Argument From Design’ (2008 [1777]) in Cottingham, J. Western Philosophy:An Anthology, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 365-370.

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About Dave Rowlands

Hi there! I'm Dave, as my username suggests. I am a life long atheist, having never developed a belief in God. That is not to say that I do not enjoy a good discussion about God, and discussions involving the philosophy of religion; I just do not believe in God. I have an undergrad degree in Philosophy and Psychology, though my heart lies more in Philosophy than it does Psychology. Which is why I am currently doing a masters degree in Philosophy, which I (hopefully) should finish next year. It is also part of the reason I enjoy discussions involving God and the philosophy of religion, so long as those discussions are curteous and two way. The question of whether God exists is a large one, and impacts our foundational beliefs, and much of what we believe is impacted by whether or not we believe God exists. However, my interests go much further than simply philosophy of religion of course, and I enjoy discussing a wide range of philosophical topics. With some of my favourite topics being things the self, philosophy of mind, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics. I spend much of my time studying, but I also enjoy reading philosophy outside of my studies too. I also enjoy reading horror and scifi. I am also a big fan of films, with my favourite genres being horror and scifi there too. There are also lots of TV shows and video games that I enjoy too. While I don't do quite as much of it these days, I also like writing my thoughts, with the best of those writings being published here on AiR. I would also be happy to discuss any topics with any of our readers, so long as those discussions were courteous, two way, and with the intention of exploring topics, rather than simply talking at me. For those that have taken the time to read my work, I thank you, and am very grateful that you have given me a slice of your time.

14 Responses to On Design in the Universe

  1. jakefelasco says:

    Imagine that your friend the theist wants to engage you in a debate about Bible verses. Sensing that this could be a very long conversation, you raise your hand and say, “Wait, stop, before we dive in to the many Bible verses, could you please first prove that the Bible is a credible authority on the subjects you wish to address, such as the most fundamental nature of everything everywhere?”

    When your theist friend admits they can provide no such proof, you shrug and walk away. Instead of diving in to a debate about a thousand different Bible verses, you’ve efficiently gone up a level and challenged the credentials of the Bible itself, the authority all the Bible verses are based upon.

    Such a sweeping dismissal of Bible verses may be an uncomfortable experience for your theist friend because they’ve spent years learning about Bible verses and may even have an advanced theology degree which has established them as an expert and provided them with social authority and status etc. They really want to play the game on the Bible verse level, because that’s what they’re good at. But you gently reply, so sorry friend, but this can’t be helped. No proof equals no belief in the relevance of Bible verses.

    This little story can be flipped around and applied to atheism too. We can observe that atheist literature typically doesn’t prove the qualifications of human reason to address the very largest of questions, and rarely even asserts such qualifications, but instead merely assumes them.

    Atheists will typically state that reason is the best tool we have, a reasonable claim, which regrettably proves nothing about reason’s qualifications for addressing the very largest of questions, such as whether everything everywhere was designed or not. Consider a twelve year old and a four year old in a classroom. The twelve year old is indisputably better at math, but this hardly proves she is qualified to do particle physics.

    The limits of human reason can be clearly seen in the debate about design. Both sides of the debate assume without questioning that intelligence is relevant to a discussion about the most fundamental nature of everything everywhere. One side says reality arises from intelligence and is thus designed, while the other side doubts this is true, or claims it is not.

    Typically neither side to this debate ever makes it’s way to the common sense realization that the concept we have of intelligence is built entirely from observations on one tiny little planet in one of billions of galaxies. This concept can be very useful at human scale, such as when we compare donkeys to humans, but that says nothing about whether such a concept as intelligence is at all relevant to the very largest of questions concerning everything everywhere, a realm we can’t define in even the most basic manner.

    What we can observe in the design debate is that many participants on all sides are very intelligent, and that they all share a very human desire to have an answer, or at least some method of making one’s way towards an answer. This desire is very understandable, because as humans we make our living by knowing things, and so naturally we want to know this too.

    But wanting to know things is not automatically the same as knowing. Wanting to have a methodology which can lead one to knowings is not automatically the same as having such a methodology.

    What if we don’t know the answer to questions the scale of the design debate, and have no way of knowing? What if our true position on such topics is one of an empty void, a vast realm of nothingness?

    And what if such a position just happens to align with the vast majority of observable reality quite well?

    • [What if we don’t know the answer to questions the scale of the design debate, and have no way of knowing? What if our true position on such topics is one of an empty void, a vast realm of nothingness?

      And what if such a position just happens to align with the vast majority of observable reality quite well?]

      Hi Jake! Thank you for your comments! Which also reminds me that I never came back to our previous discussion, for which I apologise profusely. I had so much going on at the time that I completely forgot about it. I’m normally pretty good for remembering stuff like that, but life got away from me for a few weeks and everything got pushed to the back of my mind! So, many apologies!

      One of the problems with a discussion like this is that we start about 2/3 of the way through a conversation. We start with preformed definitions, and positions we hold, and sometimes those positions and definitions can be interpreted differently by the person we’re having a conversation with. This leads to us talking past each other or, even worse, talking at each other. So, like I said last time we talked, I’m going to reset the conversation back to the beginning. This will enable me to make sure that I understand how you’re defining things, what your position is, what your argument is, and that kind of thing. It will mean you answering a lot of questions about your position and your criticism, but hopefully you won’t mind!

      So, I feel like the best place to begin is with something called ‘The Paradox of Inquiry’. I would be interested in your responses to the argument it makes. It goes something like this:

      P1) If we already know about something then it is useless to inquire about it, as we already know about it.
      P2) If we do not know about something then we can not begin to inquire about it, so it is useless to inquire about it.
      C1) Therefore inquiry is pointless.

      PS. I’m having some problems posting comments at the mo. Whenever I hit Post Comment it just disappears into the ether of the web. So trying a new method to see if it works.

  2. jakefelasco says:

    Dave’s bio says…

    “The question of whether God exists is a large one, and impacts our foundational beliefs, and much of what we believe is impacted by whether or not we believe God exists. ”

    Ok, not directly on topic, apologies for that. But sorta somewhat briefly, here is another excellent example of the limits of human reason (relevant if one is going to use reason to analyze design vs. non-design).

    Please observe how pretty much everyone, typically including the most prominent philosophers and theologians, assumes without questioning that “exists” or “doesn’t exist” are the only two possible answers to the God question.

    Observe how the debate built upon that assumption goes on for centuries, led by some of the greatest minds among us on all sides, in spite of the fact that the overwhelming vast majority of reality, space, does not fit neatly in to either the “exists” or “doesn’t exist” categories.

    Observe how we, theists and atheists, leap from a concept of existence which is entirely sensible in our everyday lives at human scale, to a typically blind assumption that such a simplistic concept of existence is therefore also automatically binding on everything everywhere.

    If it was just uneducated simpletons making this error we could explain it away as being a function of ignorance. But, whoops, pretty much all of us make this error, including the most widely recognized theological and philosophical “experts”. The near universality of the error suggests the problem is arising from something deeper than this or that person, or this or that perspective.

  3. ScottY242 says:

    Dave, you write, “Like many other mysterious gaps that were once filled using a ‘divine hand’, we may discover that there are purely natural forces at work.”

    But this is the same category confusion which absolutely permeates atheist thought. The following two statements commit the same category error because they confuse different levels of causation:

    “Living things are not caused by God, but rather, by natural processes.”

    “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather, by manufacturing processes.”

    Science only deals with material causes, such as natural forces. But to suggest that material causation is the only level of causation does not follow (non-sequitur).

    Next, you write, “Just as with evolution, we may discover that the ‘laws’ of the universe function in such a way that allow these things to happen.”

    But we already know that laws are not capable of producing life from non-living chemicals. Natural laws only produce regular and repeating patterns:

    If you drop a pencil, it falls. If you hold a piece of paper to a flame, it burns. If you pour salt in water, it dissolves. Simple, regular, repeating. This is why the scientific method demands that experiments be repeatable.

    A natural law can only produce a simple, regular, and repeating pattern with low information content, such as the following:

    ABCABCABCABCABCABCABC

    But information science declares that an irregular, non-repeating sequence such as the following is necessary in order to have the high information bearing capacity necessary to store a set of genetic instructions in the genetic code:

    “Christopher Columbus sailed across the ocean in 1492.”

    In the primary text on the application of algorithmic information theory to the origin of life, titled “Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life,” physicist and information scientist Hubert Yockey points out that it is mathematically impossible for natural laws to produce a DNA sequence because their information content is far too low:

    “The laws of physics and chemistry are much like the rules of a game such as football. The referees see to it that these laws are obeyed but that does not predict the winner of the Super Bowl. There is not enough information in the rules of the game to make that prediction. That is why we play the game. [Mathematician Gregory] Chaitin (1985, 1987a) has examined the laws of physics by actually programming them. He finds the information content amazingly small.”

    “The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.”

    And in a 2002 article for The Guardian titled “How We Could Create Life,” physicist Paul Davies makes a similar point to Yockey:

    “Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce [Microsoft] Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.”

    Further, the genetic code uses symbolic representation in a very similar manner to a human language or a computer language. And symbolic representation is BY NECESSITY the product of an intelligent agent because what a symbol serves to represent is entirely arbitrary. For example, the letters C-A-T serve as a symbolic representation of a furry animal that purrs and meows only because the intelligent agents who created the English language arbitrarily assigned this meaning to this set of symbols. There is no physical or chemical relationship between these symbols and what they serve to represent, only a MENTAL relationship.

    In “Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life,” Yockey explains how many of the principles of human language are also applicable to the genetic code, the language of life:

    “Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.”

    At this point, one can almost hear atheists shouting, “Suggesting that the genetic code is a language is only a metaphor, or a figure of speech! It is not literally true!” But, an entire school of thought in biology called biosemiotics considers language to be a primary lens through which living things must be understood, as Perry Marshall points out in his book “Evolution 2.0.” Marshall elaborates on the scientific reasons why the genetic code is a language in the most literal, not metaphorical, sense:

    Rutgers University professor Sungchul Ji’s excellent paper “The Linguistics of DNA: Words, Sentences, Grammar, Phonetics, and Semantics” starts off,

    “Biologic systems and processes cannot be fully accounted for in terms of the principles and laws of physics and chemistry alone, but they require in addition the principles of semiotics— the science of symbols and signs, including linguistics.”

    https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1999.tb08916.x

    Ji identifies 13 characteristics of human language. DNA shares 10 of them. Cells edit DNA. They also communicate with each other and literally speak a language he called “cellese,” described as “a self-organizing system of molecules, some of which encode, act as signs for, or trigger, gene-directed cell processes.”

    This comparison between cell language and human language is not a loosey-goosey analogy; it’s formal and literal. Human language and cell language both employ multilayered symbols. Dr. Ji explains this similarity in his paper:

    “Bacterial chemical conversations also include assignment of contextual meaning to words and sentences (semantic) and conduction of dialogue (pragmatic)— the fundamental aspects of linguistic communication.”

    This is true of genetic material. Signals between cells do this as well.

    Even the world’s most outspoken atheist, Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, concedes that the genetic code is a language in the most literal (not metaphorical or figurative) sense. In his book “River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life,” Dawkins writes:

    “…The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.”

    In an article for The Times (UK), Dawkins writes:

    “What has happened is that genetics has become a branch of information technology. The genetic code is truly digital, in exactly the same sense as computer codes. This is not some vague analogy, it is the literal truth.”

    So what meta-scientific conclusion does Dawkins draw from the symbolic representation of the genetic code? In an interview, which one can view by clicking on the link below, Dawkins hypothesizes that life was created by aliens from outer space and brought to Earth in their spaceship.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoncJBrrdQ8

    The hypothesis that life on earth originated when it was brought here by space aliens is known as “directed panspermia,” and has been endorsed by highly prominent atheists such as Dawkins, the biologist Francis Crick (who is famous as the co-discoverer of the DNA double helix) and the British chemist Leslie Orgel. Click below to read an article regarding Crick’s support of this hypothesis in his book “Life Itself.”

    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/life-04zzz.html

    So, like a game of whack-a-mole, intelligent agency re-emerges as the source for life in the minds of those most determined to deny the role of intelligent agency. This is what Sigmund Freud was referring to when he spoke of “the return of the repressed.”

  4. jakefelasco says:

    Hi Dave,

    First, no need to apologize, we aren’t on a schedule and there is no obligation.

    //P1) If we already know about something then it is useless to inquire about it, as we already know about it.
    P2) If we do not know about something then we can not begin to inquire about it, so it is useless to inquire about it.
    C1) Therefore inquiry is pointless.//

    Well, let’s see. I don’t agree inquiry is pointless, or I guess I wouldn’t be here. Even if inquiry accomplishes nothing beyond entertainment, that’s still a value which can be appreciated.

    That said, my own inquiry has led me to the perspective that we shouldn’t automatically assume that the acquisition of knowledge is always the highest value. This seems particularly true in those cases where there is no evidence that the acquisition of knowledge is possible. It also seems true in those cases where we might acquire more knowledge than we can successfully manage.

    I would decline a simplistic binary assumption such as:

    knowledge=good
    ignorance=bad

    Instead, I’d see knowledge and ignorance as being parts of a single holistic system, much like night/day, up/down, left/right etc.

    What makes life magical as a child? Ignorance. What makes scientific discovery exciting? Ignorance. What takes the joy out of many marriages leading to their collapse? Not enough ignorance, leading to not enough magic etc.

    Not sure how responsive this is to your question, so I’ll stop here for now and await further guidance.

    • [Well, let’s see. I don’t agree inquiry is pointless, or I guess I wouldn’t be here. Even if inquiry accomplishes nothing beyond entertainment, that’s still a value which can be appreciated.]

      It’s an answer, but one that does not really get at the heart of the problem of the Paradox of Inquiry. I completely and wholeheartedly agree that inquiry is not pointless. Like you say, you obviously do not either or you would not be here. However, the Paradox of Inquiry is an argument for why attempting to gain knowledge is pointless. It first proposes that when we know something, we don’t have to inquire about it because we already have that knowledge. It then proposes that when we do not know something, then we cannot begin to inquire about it because we have no knowledge about it, and therefore have no way of beginning an inquiry into it.

      Here is how I would sum up the problems with the Paradox of Inquiry, let me know what what you think. The problem with the Paradox of Inquiry is that it treats knowledge as an all or nothing thing. It treats knowledge about something as if you either know all there is to know about something, or you know absolutely nothing about something. However, that is not how knowledge actually works. We can know a little bit about something, and still have a lot to learn about that thing. Or we can only know the smallest amount about something, and that can then drive us to learn more about that.

      So, I have now introduced you to the Paradox of Inquiry, something that you probably had never heard of before, well unless you were a reader of Plato or a student of philosophy. You could then use that little bit of information to learn where the Paradox of Inquiry started (with Gorgias in Plato’s Meno), and then you could then use that information to go on and see what Socrates said about the paradox, and then use that to go on and find out what other philosophers have said about the paradox.

      This means that knowledge is not an all or nothing situation, knowledge can be gained bit by bit and built up into a larger body. Knowledge can also be discussed, examined, questioned, and even discarded when shown that what we didn’t have was knowledge but instead was just opinion. Do you agree with this summation of the paradox?

      [That said, my own inquiry has led me to the perspective that we shouldn’t automatically assume that the acquisition of knowledge is always the highest value. This seems particularly true in those cases where there is no evidence that the acquisition of knowledge is possible. It also seems true in those cases where we might acquire more knowledge than we can successfully manage.

      I would decline a simplistic binary assumption such as:

      knowledge=good
      ignorance=bad

      Instead, I’d see knowledge and ignorance as being parts of a single holistic system, much like night/day, up/down, left/right etc.

      What makes life magical as a child? Ignorance. What makes scientific discovery exciting? Ignorance. What takes the joy out of many marriages leading to their collapse? Not enough ignorance, leading to not enough magic etc.

      Not sure how responsive this is to your question, so I’ll stop here for now and await further guidance.]

      Remember what I said in the last comment about how during discussions like this on the internet we often start 2/3 of the way into a discussion, forgetting to lay the groundwork? This is an example of that. You have gone from an answer to a foundational question to a conclusion that is not necessarily led to by that answer, without going through all of the thinking and arguments necessary to reach that conclusion. So from now how about rather than jumping to conclusions, we focus on what’s being discussed at the time, we can get to things like this when it gets there, rather than trying to jump directly to these conclusions?

  5. jakefelasco says:

    Hi Dave,

    //You could then use that little bit of information to learn where the Paradox of Inquiry started (with Gorgias in Plato’s Meno), and then you could then use that information to go on and see what Socrates said about the paradox, and then use that to go on and find out what other philosophers have said about the paradox.//

    FYI, reading what dead strangers may have said about something isn’t really part of my method, but to each their own of course, not passing judgment on what others may find useful.

    //This means that knowledge is not an all or nothing situation, knowledge can be gained bit by bit and built up into a larger body. Knowledge can also be discussed, examined, questioned, and even discarded when shown that what we didn’t have was knowledge but instead was just opinion. Do you agree with this summation of the paradox?//

    Yes, and I would add this. The pursuit of knowledge can be discarded in those cases when an inquiry reveals that it isn’t as useful as the lack of knowledge it is attempting to replace.

    As example, I spend a LOT of time in a very convenient state park 4 miles up the road. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and so know the park very well. If I could discard my knowledge of the park I could experience the joy of discovery again.

    As example, one of the perils of aging is that one has seen all the petty human ego melodramas unfold a million times, and whereas they once seemed quite interesting, they can now be profoundly boring, just as you are likely bored with children’s toys. That is, sometimes we geezers sometimes suffer from too much knowledge.

    More to the point, it seems helpful to reflect that knowledge is just a pile of symbols in our brain. It’s not the “real world” the symbols point to, just as your photo on Facebook is not the real living breathing you, but merely a symbol which points to the real Dave.

    This is a big subject, an important one, I won’t try to type it all right now as this is a comment, and not a book. 🙂

    // So from now how about rather than jumping to conclusions, we focus on what’s being discussed at the time, we can get to things like this when it gets there, rather than trying to jump directly to these conclusions?//

    I’m agreeable to trying to accommodate your interests if you will allow me to gently remark that I appear to be somewhere between two to three times your age, and so will sometimes leap over things which I left behind decades ago. That said, tell me what you wish to discuss and I’ll try to engage you there.

    In related news, I’m curious if you are familiar with this site. https://blog.apaonline.org/ Many professional philosophers, most around your age.

    • [FYI, reading what dead strangers may have said about something isn’t really part of my method, but to each their own of course, not passing judgment on what others may find useful.]

      This irrelevant to the point being made, because whether or not you actually do these suggested things, these suggested things are ways of going from zero knowledge, to a little bit of knowledge, to a lot of knowledge. On another note, disregarding ‘what dead strangers may have said about something’ is a terrible method.

      [Yes, and I would add this. The pursuit of knowledge can be discarded in those cases when an inquiry reveals that it isn’t as useful as the lack of knowledge it is attempting to replace.]

      ‘Isn’t as useful’ is a very fuzzy term, and you would need to make an argument to support this. Once again you are stating a conclusion from an argument that does not lead to that conclusion. However, it is also irrelevant to the discussion that we are having, which is about the acquisition of knowledge. One of your many criticisms, including on this piece, is that we may not have the ability to acquire knowledge about certain things. You keep asking for ‘justification that reason can answer the bigger questions’, yet here we are having a conversation about such justification and you keep trying to avert the conversation to other places. So, if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to continue with the discussion about the acquisition of knowledge, and justification of the acquisition of knowledge, especially with pertaining to answering bigger questions. This is the point you keep making, and this is the point that I am attempting to discuss.

      [More to the point, it seems helpful to reflect that knowledge is just a pile of symbols in our brain. It’s not the “real world” the symbols point to, just as your photo on Facebook is not the real living breathing you, but merely a symbol which points to the real Dave.]

      Why do you think this is pertinent to the current conversation?

      [I’m agreeable to trying to accommodate your interests if you will allow me to gently remark that I appear to be somewhere between two to three times your age, and so will sometimes leap over things which I left behind decades ago. That said, tell me what you wish to discuss and I’ll try to engage you there.]

      I highly doubt that you are two to three times my age, but thank you for agreeing to stick to the topic at hand. When I feel you are moving the discussion away from what is relevant I will mention it.

      In related news, I’m curious if you are familiar with this site. https://blog.apaonline.org/ Many professional philosophers, most around your age.

  6. jakefelasco says:

    //On another note, disregarding ‘what dead strangers may have said about something’ is a terrible method.//

    Write an article about this and we can discuss it. Until then, what any of us say about reality is second hand information.

    //Isn’t as useful’ is a very fuzzy term, and you would need to make an argument to support this.//

    I did make an argument. You ignored it. 🙂 No problem, just sayin, that’s all.

    //Once again you are stating a conclusion from an argument that does not lead to that conclusion. However, it is also irrelevant to the discussion that we are having, which is about the acquisition of knowledge. //

    Are you going to lecture me a lot? If you are, could you please state your age for the record? Thanks. 🙂

    //One of your many criticisms, including on this piece, is that we may not have the ability to acquire knowledge about certain things. //

    Yes, that’s what the God debate demonstrates. At least 500 years of very earnest investigation and debate led by some of the brightest minds among us, and we’re still right where we started. Rather than actually listen to the evidence developed by this experiment, we keep trying to do the same thing that has already repeatedly failed, while expecting different results, thus meeting Einstein’s definition of stupidity.

    ///You keep asking for ‘justification that reason can answer the bigger questions’, yet here we are having a conversation about such justification and you keep trying to avert the conversation to other places. //

    Um, the article was about design, a topic BOTH of us seem to have abandoned. Not complaining, just saying…

    //So, if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to continue with the discussion about the acquisition of knowledge, and justification of the acquisition of knowledge, especially with pertaining to answering bigger questions. This is the point you keep making, and this is the point that I am attempting to discuss.//

    Ok, sounds good, please continue.

    //Why do you think this is pertinent to the current conversation?//

    If it is knowledge you wish to discuss, it seems useful to keep in mind that your Facebook photo (symbolic) and the living breathing Dave (reality) are two very different things. Focusing on our thoughts about reality (knowledge) and focusing on reality itself, two very different things.

    //I highly doubt that you are two to three times my age, but thank you for agreeing to stick to the topic at hand. ///

    Well, ok, this is easily settled. I’m 67. And you are….?

    • [I did make an argument. You ignored it. 🙂 No problem, just sayin, that’s all.]

      The argument you made was that you wish you could forget all the things you learned about a park over the last 15 years so that it would become exciting again. That does not show that unlearning things, or forgetting knowledge, would be ‘more useful’. At best it shows that we might gain some enjoyment from forgetting some knowledge. It also, as I said, is irrelevant to the question of whether or not we can gain knowledge.

      [Are you going to lecture me a lot? If you are, could you please state your age for the record? Thanks. 🙂]

      I’m not lecturing you, I am stating that it is irrelevant to the discussion about the acquisitions of knowledge. Going down routes that are irrelevant to the discussion means that we will move away from what the discussion is actually about, which would be pointless.

      [Yes, that’s what the God debate demonstrates. At least 500 years of very earnest investigation and debate led by some of the brightest minds among us, and we’re still right where we started. Rather than actually listen to the evidence developed by this experiment, we keep trying to do the same thing that has already repeatedly failed, while expecting different results, thus meeting Einstein’s definition of stupidity.]

      Ok, it doesn’t really demonstrate that we cannot gain knowledge about the bigger questions though. It demonstrates that there are those that do not agree on what is said, or that perhaps we do not have all of the information yet. Neither of those things demonstrate that we cannot know. We have people that argue that evolution is false, and people that argue that evolution is true. Does this disagreement that has gone on for over century show that we cannot gain knowledge about evolution? Or, for example, imagine if one person had knowledge about something, like say my name. Imagine if the only people that actually knew my name was yourself and myself. Now imagine if everyone else in the world believed that my name was Robert, and no amount of evidence or argument would convince them otherwise. Would that mean that knowledge cannot be gained about my name, or would it simply mean that people refuse to accept the knowledge of what my name is? Consider now too the resurgence of the flat-Earth theory. Does the fact that we are once again arguing over the shape of the Earth mean that we cannot determine the shape of the Earth? Or that we can never gain knowledge about the shape of the Earth?

      One could argue here that we have means of physically verifying the shape of the Earth, like photographs from satellites, or rockets. However, we have those, and yet flat-Earthers refuse to accept those as evidence, and come up with reasons for not accepting that they are evidence. We even have those that solved the problem using human reason, which helps further support the visual evidence. Yet, flat-Earthers refuse that as evidence as well, instead claiming that they are the smarter ones, and they are the ones that have the answer. Does this debate give us evidence that we cannot gain knowledge about the shape of the Earth? Or does it simply mean that one side is wrong, and rejects evidence based on reasons that are less than rational?

      There could be a whole host of psychological, or psychosocial, reasons that people refuse to accept certain information and knowledge. Even in the cases where we have solid evidence that one side is right, we see a wrong side arguing vehemently that the side that is right is actually wrong. This disagreement says nothing about the knowledge of the side that is right, and says nothing about our ability to gain knowledge. It speaks volumes about psychological and psychosocial makeups of humans, and speaks volumes about our ability to accept knowledge, but says nothing about our ability to gain knowledge. This is why I am attempting to go through the argument step by step, rather than simply arguing conclusions. Arguing conclusions does little except having people argue that their conclusion is the right conclusion, whereas if we show the thinking behind each step that leads to the conclusion then more understanding of a position can be gained. We can also see where and why we disagree, or even agree, on each of these steps.

      [Um, the article was about design, a topic BOTH of us seem to have abandoned. Not complaining, just saying…]

      Yes, the article was about design, but your criticisms, which I am attempting to address, are about the acquisition of knowledge, especially with pertaining to answering bigger questions.

      [Ok, sounds good, please continue.]

      Thank you.

      [If it is knowledge you wish to discuss, it seems useful to keep in mind that your Facebook photo (symbolic) and the living breathing Dave (reality) are two very different things. Focusing on our thoughts about reality (knowledge) and focusing on reality itself, two very different things.]

      Ok, but why is it pertinent to this discussion about the acquisition of knowledge? In what way does this make a difference to this discussion?

      [Well, ok, this is easily settled. I’m 67. And you are….?]

      I’m 48, so no, you are not ‘two to three times’ my age. You are not even 20 years older than me. It is also irrelavent to the discussion, unless you are going to argue that your age trumps my arguments, and that I should accept your arguments based solely on your age.

  7. jakefelasco says:

    First, my apologies, I thought I’d read that you were still in school, but clearly I’m confused. Maybe I’m too old! 🙂 My bad there.

    But yes, age matters, in some cases, unless we are to presume that people don’t learn things with the passage of time. But no, age is not determinative in every instance, agree there.

    //The argument you made was that you wish you could forget all the things you learned about a park over the last 15 years so that it would become exciting again. That does not show that unlearning things, or forgetting knowledge, would be ‘more useful’.///

    So making the park new, fresh and exciting again is not useful?

    //I’m not lecturing you, I am stating that it is irrelevant to the discussion about the acquisitions of knowledge. //

    To be more precise, you’re telling me that the discussion MUST follow the trail you wish to be on, or you’re going to yell at me and demand compliance with your interests. I’m not allowed to wander off whatever topic you wish to be on. Not complaining, just returning the little lecture…. 🙂

    //Ok, it doesn’t really demonstrate that we cannot gain knowledge about the bigger questions though. It demonstrates that there are those that do not agree on what is said, or that perhaps we do not have all of the information yet. Neither of those things demonstrate that we cannot know. //

    The God debate is delivering useful information, which we don’t like, and so we ignore what the evidence reveals.

    First, it’s clearly true that SO FAR nobody on any side can prove anything, for at least 500 years.

    Second, what this suggests is that MAYBE this is because we’re asking a bad question.

    Note how everybody on all sides assumes without questioning that the point of the inquiry should be to develop knowledge. The evidence shows that SO FAR this has been a failed methodology. Thus, it seems rational to at least examine and explore the question being asked, before we continue with a pattern of competing answers which has accomplished nothing over 500 years.

    To me, this is an interesting line of inquiry, but of course nobody is required to explore it.

    //There could be a whole host of psychological, or psychosocial, reasons that people refuse to accept certain information and knowledge.///

    Agreed. But in the case of the God debate, the primary reason you don’t believe theists and they don’t believe you is that nobody can prove anything.

    //This is why I am attempting to go through the argument step by step, rather than simply arguing conclusions. //

    I’m not objecting, but merely honestly reporting, there are some arguments I became bored with years ago, which explains in part why I sometimes skip over them. You know, been there, done that. However, I’m not refusing anything, and will attempt to meet you on whatever ground you prefer to explore.

    ///whereas if we show the thinking behind each step that leads to the conclusion then more understanding of a position can be gained. ///

    Ok then, no problem, so please proceed with the steps you wish to take.

    //Yes, the article was about design, but your criticisms, which I am attempting to address, are about the acquisition of knowledge, especially with pertaining to answering bigger questions.//

    Ok, sounds good. Please proceed, but also please understand you’ve only seen a tiny fraction of my perspective so far.

    //Ok, but why is it pertinent to this discussion about the acquisition of knowledge? In what way does this make a difference to this discussion?//

    All knowledge, whether right or wrong or other, is all second hand experience, just as a Facebook photo, however beautiful, is a second hand experience of you or me.

    Thus, as you focus on the acquisition of knowledge in your remarks, perhaps you can remain open to the possibility that acquisition of knowledge may not be the best methodology in all circumstances, just as a hammer is not the best tool for every job.

    Ok, now that we’ve established that we’re both geezers, let us blow wind together. 🙂

    • Sorry for taking so long to reply, Jake! Was a very long and busy week!

      [First, my apologies, I thought I’d read that you were still in school, but clearly I’m confused. Maybe I’m too old! My bad there.]

      No need to apologise, you had read that I am still in school! I’m doing a masters degree in philosophy at the moment, and have not long finished an undergrad degree in Philosophy and Psychology. There are plenty of older people that go back to university in order to expand and update their knowledge, keep their mind active, and that kind of thing. I’d highly recommend it to anyone!

      [So making the park new, fresh and exciting again is not useful?]

      Again, it depends on how you define ‘useful’. I’m not sure I would call it useful for me to forget everything I’ve learned about the quarry across the road from me, because part of what makes it so exciting is the history of the quarry, and the memories I have made in it.

      [To be more precise, you’re telling me that the discussion MUST follow the trail you wish to be on, or you’re going to yell at me and demand compliance with your interests. I’m not allowed to wander off whatever topic you wish to be on. Not complaining, just returning the little lecture….]

      I have not once yelled out you. However, yes, I am telling you that the discussion must follow the main point, which is whether or not we can gain knowledge, and whether or not we can gain knowledge about the bigger questions, and whether human reason can answer those questions. This is the criticism that you keep bringing up under almost every post, and this is the criticism you bring up under this post, so this is the criticism that I am trying to address. If we constantly chase things that take us away from the discussion of this criticism then this criticism will not be addressed. Which is pointless considering that it is this very criticism that I am trying to address and interested in addressing. If you do not wish to discuss your claims that human reason may not be good enough to acquire knowledge about bigger questions then that’s fine, I’ll leave the discussion and allow you to take your points up with other people.

      [First, it’s clearly true that SO FAR nobody on any side can prove anything, for at least 500 years.]

      Well no, that’s not the case at all. The fact that people disagree is not evidence that one side has not proven something. As I said with the flat earthers, it is proven that the Earth is a globe, yet we have an entire industry dedicated towards arguing that the Earth is not a globe, and arguing that the Earth is actually flat. Evolution has been proven to be accurate, our knowledge may not be complete of course, but it is accurate to say that evolution is true. However, again, we have an entire industry dedicated to arguing that evolution is false, and we have people that reject evolution based on other ideological factors. The fact that people reject something does not necessarily mean that something has not been proven. As stated previously, there are psychological and ideological reasons that groups of people might reject a conclusion, even if that conclusion is accurate.

      [Second, what this suggests is that MAYBE this is because we’re asking a bad question.]

      Well know, asking what the number three smells like to the average human being is a bad question. Asking whether or not God exists is an important question, because it has a number of foundational effects on beliefs. Belief in God also has an impact on society, sometimes in detrimental ways as well, so it is both worth and important to examine the question. Especially when it comes to societies like Saudi Arabia and Iran, and even the current United States to some degree, where religion and belief in God is used to oppress, and sometimes even kill, people.

      [Note how everybody on all sides assumes without questioning that the point of the inquiry should be to develop knowledge. The evidence shows that SO FAR this has been a failed methodology. Thus, it seems rational to at least examine and explore the question being asked, before we continue with a pattern of competing answers which has accomplished nothing over 500 years.]

      Again, the fact that people disagree is not evidence that it is a failed methodology. That is over-simplifying it. I completely agree that it is rational to examine and explore the question being asked, which is exactly what I am trying to do here. However, you keep re-asserting this without actually doing said exploration. I am offering you the opportunity to explore this claim and assertion that you keep making, but you continually change the subject when I try to explore it, and then reassert the same claim later on. Which is it you prefer, the assertion, or the exploration?

      [To me, this is an interesting line of inquiry, but of course nobody is required to explore it.]

      I agree it’s an interesting line of inquiry, which is why I am trying to explore it with you right now. The problem is that you keep changing the topic away from said exploration, and complain that I am ‘lecturing’ you when I try to keep the topic on said line of inquiry.

      [Agreed. But in the case of the God debate, the primary reason you don’t believe theists and they don’t believe you is that nobody can prove anything.]

      That is not the primary reason that I do not believe theists.

      [I’m not objecting, but merely honestly reporting, there are some arguments I became bored with years ago, which explains in part why I sometimes skip over them. You know, been there, done that. However, I’m not refusing anything, and will attempt to meet you on whatever ground you prefer to explore.]

      You do not seem to be bored with the argument, because you assert the conclusion at pretty much every opportunity. It is also the conclusion you use the most to criticise the arguments made here. Yet, as soon as someone attempts to explore your arguments for that conclusion you continually try to change the subject, but at the same time continue to assert your conclusion. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to explore the arguments for whether or not it is possible to use human reason to answer questions about God. If you became bored with the arguments years ago then why do you continue to bring it up?

      [Ok then, no problem, so please proceed with the steps you wish to take.]

      I keep trying. Think about this now, we have had several exchanges so far, and so far we have not even been able to begin exploring it because you change the subject, jump to other irrelevant conclusions, complain that I am lecturing at you when I try to keep the discussion on topic, and more. You have put more effort into avoiding the discussion than you have actually having the discussion, we could already be far into the discussion if you were not doing these things. You keep telling me to proceed, then complaining when I try to proceed.

      [Ok, sounds good. Please proceed, but also please understand you’ve only seen a tiny fraction of my perspective so far.]

      And you have seen none of mine so far. You will be able expand on your perspective as we go on, but we need to actually be able to begin the conversation before that can happen.

      [All knowledge, whether right or wrong or other, is all second hand experience, just as a Facebook photo, however beautiful, is a second hand experience of you or me.]

      I agree, but I am still wondering why you think this is relevant to the question of whether or not we can actually gain knowledge about bigger topics.

      [Thus, as you focus on the acquisition of knowledge in your remarks, perhaps you can remain open to the possibility that acquisition of knowledge may not be the best methodology in all circumstances, just as a hammer is not the best tool for every job.]

      I am open to that, but I would respond with something similar. Have you ever considered that you have closed your mind to the idea that it is possible to gain knowledge about these topics, because your conclusion is more important than the actual arguments for your conclusion?

  8. jakefelasco says:

    ///Sorry for taking so long to reply, Jake! Was a very long and busy week!//

    Well, ok Dave, but because you were so late in returning they’ve made me deduct two angels, a gospel, fifty pounds of rosary beads, and some prayer candles from your account. Oh, also, that meeting you had scheduled with the Holy Ghost has been canceled. Sorry, but you know how anal he is about schedules!

    Ok, most of your post is more lecturing, but ok, no problem. I’m skipping over that to get on with what we both want to do.

    To quickly review, my request is simple. I’m asking, as one person of reason to another, that you apply the very same test you reasonably apply to the chosen authority of theists (typically a holy book) to your own chosen authority, human reason. Reason requires us to apply the same burden to all claims in an even handed detached manner, otherwise we are talking about mere ideology.

    So, please prove that human reason is qualified to make credible statements about the most fundamental nature of everything everywhere, the scope of God claims. As you would correctly say to a theist, this is your burden, not mine, not the theists.

    What I’m proposing is that there is an unwarranted leap in the case of both theism and atheism.

    The theist sees that holy books have provided comfort and meaning to billions of people over thousands of years, a remarkable accomplishment, and then makes an unwarranted leap from that fact to wild speculation that therefore the holy book is qualified to answer the very biggest of questions.

    Atheists are doing the same thing in regards to their chosen authority. They see the fact that reason has proven itself very useful in too many instances to count, and then leap from that fact to wild speculation that therefore human reason is a useful methodology on every issue, no matter how large.

    I’m not in a position to claim that either holy books or human reason are not qualified, as that would require me to be a god, which according to my lovely wife, is not true. (Who knew???)

    However, I am in a position to claim that neither theists or atheists have proven that their chosen authority is qualified. And so, by the reasonable rules declared by atheists, I decline belief in either of your positions. You are an atheist to a position within the God debate, I am an atheist to the God debate itself.

    As quick evidence, the God debate is built upon the assumption that a God could only exist, or not, yes or no, one or the other. Please observe how such an assumption completely ignores the vast majority of reality, space, which does not fit neatly in to either the exists or doesn’t exist categories. Please observe also how nobody cares about this at all, and instead just keeps chanting their respective memorized dogmas.

    However, I do declare the God debate useful, IF we are willing to face and accept the evidence of ignorance that’s been produced by this huge investigation. I contend this is a useful discovery which has the potential to uncover a meeting ground between theism and atheism. This is a longer perspective which I’ll leave for another day.

    So, for starters, prove that your chosen authority can deliver credible statements about the very largest of questions. Explain to me how one single half insane semi-suicidal species on one little planet in one of billions of galaxies, with thousands of hydrogen bombs aimed down it’s own throat, is supposed to be smart enough to know what does or doesn’t form the most fundamental nature of all reality, a realm it can’t define in even the most basic manner.

    Thank you! And don’t be late again or I’ll have to take away your ticket to the Pearly Gates renovation re-opening ceremony!

  9. jakefelasco says:

    PS: If you haven’t seen it already, check out the following site, very relevant to yours. Lots of dialog!

    https://strangenotions.com/