# Thread: Atheists Who Claim There is a God

1. Originally Posted by reason
Okay, a quick summary of the argument (without special characters that evidently do not show up for everyone):

The degree to which a hypothesis is probabilistically supported by evidence is equal to the probability of the hypothesis given the evidence minus the probability of the hypothesis alone. Let "ps" be probabilistic support:

ps(h|e) = p(h|e) - p(h)

The degree to which a hypothesis is inductively supported by the evidence is equal to the probability of the material conditional, where the evidence is the antecedent and the hypothesis is the consequent, minus the probability of the same material conditional given the evidence. Let "is" be inductive support:

is(h|e) = p(e -> h|e) - p(e -> h)

Here's the deal: for any evidence which probabilistically supports some hypothesis, that same evidence will also inductively counter-support that same hypothesis. In other words, probabilistic and inductive support for the hypothesis move in opposite directions given the same evidence.

Another way to say this is that as the conclusion of an inductive argument becomes more probable given new evidence, the logical inference from the premises to the conclusion becomes weaker. That is, the evidence actually supports the conclusion less and less even while its probability keeps rising. Whatever is responsible for the increasing probabilistic support, it is not anything resembling an inductive or partially deductive inference.

This creates a dilemma for atheists (most are empiricists/Bayesianists): every time they observe something that is not God, the (subjective) probabilistic support for God not existing increases, but, logically, the same evidence inductively supports the conclusion that God does exist.
I'm still not seeing why this is a new dilemma, just seems to be worded differently and maybe goes into more detail than the usual "can't prove god doesn't exists, induction, neener neener" arguments that most atheists encounter at some point.

2. Originally Posted by Rasofy
I guess scientologists shouldn't be playing with math.
I guess not.

Originally Posted by Jessica
There is no probability of god's existence in my mind.
A (subjective) Bayesianist would say the only place a probability could be is in your mind. Then it would only depend on whether we decide to include 0 and 1 as probabilities.

Anyway, it is customary among such philosophies to only assign the probability of 1 or 0 in the cases of, respectively, tautologies and contradictions. Anything else is something like (notwithstanding Quine) a synthetic proposition (i.e. a proposition that cannot be proved true or false by purely logical reasoning) and should only be assigned a probability between 0 and 1. Perhaps some theories of God are contradictory, but I don't think all have to be.

Of course, these kind of philosophies often have difficulties with synthetic propositions that do not predict anything in particular about what can be observed, i.e. metaphysics. Normally these philosophies just refuse to deal with such statements, branding them "meaningless" or "irrelevant." They normally get themselves into a host of logical quandaries for that reason.

3. Originally Posted by reason
This creates a dilemma for atheists (most seem to be empiricists/Bayesianists): every time they observe something that is not God, the (subjective) probabilistic support for God not existing increases, but, logically, the same evidence inductively supports (defined as partial deducibility) the conclusion that God does exist.
I repeat: What qualifies as evidence? Without that, your equations are meaningless.

4. [YOUTUBE="_w5JqQLqqTc"]The Absence of Evidence is not the Evidence of Absence[/YOUTUBE]

5. Originally Posted by LEGERdeMAIN
I'm still not seeing why this is a new dilemma, just seems to be worded differently and maybe goes into more detail than the usual "can't prove god doesn't exists, induction, neener neener" arguments that most atheists encounter at some point.
The problem is that, logically, the evidence does not support the most probable conclusion. This brings into question what it means for the evidence to support a hypothesis. It also challenges the use of probability to overcome the traditional problem of induction, i.e. how can evidence of past events imply anything about future events? If probabilistic support has nothing like the character of inductive (or partial deductive) support, then what does the probability of a hypothesis have to do with the probability of any of its future predictions?

More to the point, why do atheists, who normally purport to support only that which is supported by the evidence, not believe that God is more likely to exist every time they observe a chicken?

6. Originally Posted by Nerd Girl
I think I follow you. I think we're both saying that the OP left out the important part about what qualifies as a "God thing" (aka, Gx - proof of God's existence), other than being represented by Ga, Gb, Gc, etc. As in, what qualifies as Gx? Splitting a molecule with water??
Yes. Since not a single property of "G" is referenced throughout the argument, it could be anything you want and work the same. "e" becomes any evidence towards "h" which is any hypothesis. You don't even need the whole first section about god, only the second half has the actual reasoning in it. Follow the trick logic and empty premises, and you get "proof" that the more evidence you gather for something's lack of existence, the more likely it is to exist.

7. This is lovely mutual exchange.

Originally Posted by erm
Yes. Since not a single property of "G" is referenced throughout the argument, it could be anything you want and work the same. "e" becomes any evidence towards "h" which is any hypothesis. You don't even need the whole first section about god, only the second half has the actual reasoning in it. Follow the trick logic and empty premises, and you get "proof" that the more evidence you gather for something's lack of existence, the more likely it is to exist.
Thanks for the reply. Makes sense.

8. Originally Posted by Nerd Girl
I repeat: What qualifies as evidence? Without that, your equations are meaningless.
Whatever you want: it hardly matters because the argument is mostly formal. That's why I used meaningless symbols to begin with. The argument can then have general application regardless of what "qualifies as evidence."

No need to be so concrete. What are you, an SJ?

9. Originally Posted by reason
More to the point, why do atheists, who normally purport to support only that which is supported by the evidence, not believe that God is more likely to exist every time they observe a chicken?
Is this like some version of the clock argument, the one where we find a clock on the beach and wonder how it got there?

ETA: This is starting to sound like the ontological argument for god

10. Originally Posted by tinker683
Is this like some version of the clock argument, the one where we find a clock on the beach and wonder how it got there?

ETA: This is starting to sound like the ontological argument for god
No, it's not like that. I am not really arguing that God exists. I am arguing that atheists should, by their own standards (normally those of empiricism/Bayesianism), consider the existence of God as more supported by the evidence every time they observe something new that is not God. It's really an argument about epistemology.

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