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athiest comments on Semantic Stopsigns - Less Wrong

46 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 24 August 2007 07:29PM

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Comment author: athiest 22 November 2007 07:37:02AM 0 points [-]

This is a disingenuous (though not uncommon among modern theists) interpretation of the first cause argument. The justification for stopping with God is that, supposedly, his existence is necessary. If a creative God had to exist, then this explains why there is so much stuff about when seemingly, there might not have been.

This is a defence that does not rest easily in the theists hands though, for it relies upon there being an argument that gods existence is necessary, and it is difficult enough to make out what that claim amoutns to let alone what reason, if any, there is for believing it true.

Comment author: bigjeff5 29 January 2011 05:02:40AM 7 points [-]

It's still a semantic stop sign, because it attempts to stop you from asking the next question, which you mentioned:

Why is God necessary?

The point is to never stop asking. You might be stuck at "I don't know", but that just means you need to find more information.

A "stop sign" is any answer that automatically causes you to stop asking the next question. It can be "God", but it can just as easily be "the big bang" or "evolution". If your intent in making the statement is to prevent further questions, it's a stop sign statement in that case.

If you believe there must be a God, there isn't really anything wrong with that as long as you aren't using the idea of God to keep you from asking the next question. I find the belief ridiculously hard to maintain though.

By the way, Eliezer, I think I have to officially recognize my atheism. I've been clinging to the last vestiges of my monotheistic upbringing up until now, but this post hits the nail on the head, so to speak.

Comment author: pnrjulius 19 May 2012 04:54:52AM 0 points [-]

We do have a pretty good understanding of some necessary claims, like "It is necessarily true that 2+2=4." Asking "why is that necessary?" has a fairly good answer: "Because it's what the symbols mean, and if you deny it you soon find yourself in incoherence."

Whereas, one does not seem to fall into incoherence when asserting "There is no such thing as an omniscient, omnipotent being whose son died by crucifixion." (I dare say one teeters upon that chasm when asserting the opposite!)