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mtraven comments on Excluding the Supernatural - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 September 2008 12:12AM

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Comment author: mtraven 12 September 2008 05:03:32PM 3 points [-]

@poke (i think you posted in the wrong thread) -- if you did a survey, limited to scientists, and asked questions like "is general relativity largely correct?', or 'Does DNA encode genes?', you would get near-100% agreement. If you asked 'is atheism true?', you would get a much lower number. Therefore, whatever opinions or arguments might seem convincing to you personally, atheism is not the strongest modern scientific result.

As ought to be obvious, statements about god are not scientific statements. You will not find peer-reviewed scientific literature proving or disproving the existence of god. God is a topic of endless of fascination on the fringes of science, which include philosophy, blogs like this one and popular books written by scientists, but is largely absent from the literature of actual science, for good reason.

If god is not a natural being, then science does not have the means to say whether it exists or not. It is not even clear what "exists" means for such entities. You can say that it makes no sense to talk about non-natural, non-material entities in any way, but as I pointed out before, we do it all the time for mathematical entities and I assume nobody here has a problem with that.

I find atheist fundamentalists amusing, because they are so certain that they know what "god" means, just like religious fundamentalists. Most sane and intelligent people with religious tendencies (and there are many, although they don't seem to get much press) understand that if "god" means anything, it is a pointer towards something unknown and perhaps unknowable, and arguing about whether it exists in the physical sense is missing the point completely.

Comment author: AndyCossyleon 06 August 2010 09:03:44PM 2 points [-]

Good post. For a question to receive a specific answer, it must be itself specific. "Does God exist?" is not a specific question and can therefore not receive a specific yes/no/dunno answer. "Does Yahweh exist?" on the other hand, is quite specific and requires the equally specific answer of "No."

Comment author: orthonormal 06 August 2010 09:11:44PM 2 points [-]

There are some perfectly well-defined generalizations, for instance "Was our portion of this universe designed in detail by an intelligent mind?"

(Of course, I take the Simulation Hypothesis seriously enough to answer either "Maybe" or "Yes and No", though further well-defined questions do distinguish between that hypothesis and more traditionally theist ones.)