Can there be Omniscence?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by JBeukema, Jun 9, 2009.

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  1. JBeukema
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    Can the Mods move the appropriate posts here from 'Do Atheists believe in Logic', please?

    I contend that omniscience at first appears impossible because the 'knower' could always have an infinite regress of the epistemological nature- basically, always asking the self 'How do I know that I am omniscient? How do i know that there is nothing more to know?' and so on...

    However, it also seem that would you must have absolute knowledge to know absolutely that something is absolutely impossible. Thus, to 'know' that omniscience is impossible if self-contradictory, since such gnosticism would require omniscience.

    Thus, while it appears impossible, a gnostic claim of such seems fallacious.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2009
  2. We Are They
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    You're wrong.....AGAIN! :D
     
  3. JBeukema
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    Why don't you just kill yourself, instead of taking your self-loathing out on those better than you? Clearly, you're not smart enough to address philosophical matters; getting angry about that won't change it.
     
  4. We Are They
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    Dude, I looked up the word "omniscence" in a brand new oxford dictionary and.... it wasn't there!! :D
     
  5. JW Frogen
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    Oxford is old hat.
     
  6. Polaris
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    Yeah, JB, I had picked up on your principled agnosticism... I understand the motive of wanting to have "an above the fray" stance, calling out the excesses and incoherencies of both the theist and militant atheist parties; In the end, though, the ideological agnostic position strikes me as one that takes neither faith nor reason seriously enough.

    Now, in a certain sense, "agnosticism" is not just a legitimate viewpoint, but is really the only legitimate viewpoint, when we are confronted with the one single most fundamental question of all: "Why is there Cosmos, instead of Nothing/the purum nihil?" This is the one question for which there in principle exists no answer; it is a right and true Mystery. A formal attitude of "we don't know; we can't know" the answer to this one, is I think the only intellectually honest response...

    But it is a mistake, and one ideological agnostics frequently make, to derive from this most existential kind of unknowingness, other sorts of essential uncertainty in the face of other, fundamental, nonempirical questions (chief among which of course being: Is there a God?/what are God's attributes?).

    There are a number of different logical critiques that can be made about the possibility of God's existence. Now, JB, you are missing the point of such critiques, and in general misunderstanding the standard canons of proof, when you insist that, in order to definitively rule out the possibility of a thing's existence, we have to provide positive evidence that it doesn't exist. This is known as "proving a negative" - and it cannot be done.

    Logical critiques, on the other hand, proceed straightforwardly by premise and inference; and simply ask if what is inferred, follows from the premises (or ask, indeed, if what is inferred, contradicts the premises...) The argument you have been repeatedly making, viz.,

    - demands of empirical evidence what empirical evidence can never provide - the demonstration, the proof of absence. A logical critique, however, can show that the proposed phenomenon is so ill-defined, that its existence can be ruled out on account of its lack of intelligibility; "round squares," "furiously sleeping green ideas," as well as an "all-knowing" "mind" all fall into this category.

    So, when it comes to "disproving" the existence of something, the closest you can come to doing this is through a reductio ad absurdum argument. There are a variety of these arguments that can be deployed against monotheism. Even if taken individually none of these arguments is knock-down, taken together they have a cumulative force which ineluctably points to the falsity of theism.

    Just the logical evidence, alone, against belief is too great to remain on the fence about it, JB. Maybe you think by your agnosticism you're hedging your bets; but you should know that if you accept Pascal's wager you need to embrace faith, not merely withold assent from atheism.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  7. JBeukema
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    How do you figure?

    I'm not sure that's even a valid question, as it assumes (A) that there is an 'option' as to whether or not there should be anything and (B) that there is a 'purpose' (purpose is clearly implied in the question, rather as 'cause' would simply regress the question one step)


    How so? As positivist thought makes clear, we can never know what is actually rel- we can only know whether a given model aptly describes the observable universe as we (subjectively) experience it, and determine for ourselves which model seems most probable. That is why all knowledge (save, perhaps, for one's own for existence in some form) must be tempered with a certain amount of agnosticism and a realization of the limits of one's knowledge

    Save by proving a mutually exclusive positive- but there is no positive that is inherently mutually exclusive with the existence of deity (mutually exclusive with the teachings of a particular faith or dogma yes, but not with deity itself)



    Hence a certain level of agnosticism

    'round squares' is impossible by definition because of what we say the words mean- and they might be possible under some bizarre mathematical conditions like parabolic geometry or something. However, those are things 'within' the physical universe, and we ourselves have defined them. Deity, if existent, would inherently fall 'outside' of the physical universe itself, and our attempts to describe such a thing would be expected to be hazy at best, because we have nothing to compare it to.
    Again, disproving any one religion is simple. Demonstrating absence of any deity (for instance, of the sort deists believe in) is impossible. You can state that it is highly unlikely or even that a deity with certain traits (omniscience) appears impossible (assuming that the same reasoning is also valid 'outside' of the universe as we know it
    Who is 'on the fence'? theism/atheism and gnosticism/agnosticism don't even address the same question

    Pascal was an idiot who failed- He forgot that if he bet on the wrong god, he's fucked :lol:

    I'm disappointed in you- atheism and agnosticism don't even address the same question
     
  8. JBeukema
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    wow, a typo :rolleyes:
     
  9. We Are They
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    As if! You would have said that the first time.:lol:
     
  10. Polaris
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    How do I figure, that agnosticism takes neither faith nor reason seriously enough? Well, faith (as actually you've implied with some of the remarks you've made here) ultimately involves an arational, purely voluntaristic sort of assent. "I believe it because it is absurd!" as the Church Father Tertullian said. Ideological agnosticism doesn't need to lend faith the legitimacy of reason; ultimately, true faith doesn't care about reason - it only cares about obedience. And ideological agnosticism seems always more willing to retreat to god-of-the-gaps type arguments ("How do we know, there's really no god, until we search out every last nook and cranny of the universe, until we run down any and every notionally imaginable scenario?"), rather than just give over and acknowledge what is beyond a reasonable doubt - that there is no personal god there to be found.


    You think that's a meaningless question? You don't understand what the question is asking for? Well, we'll just have to disagree on that one. I will say this - the 'Why' of Why is there Something (a Cosmos) rather than Nothing" is not a purposive-why; it is a why of origins.




    Well, okay. That's a standard bit of epistemic humility, and I get that. But the personal gods of theism aren't concerned much with 'epistemic humility' - in the model in which they appear, and the model which their followers ascribe to, they demand unconditional commitment. When our choice, so far as we can tell, is between that model, and one of straightforward logical reflection, logical reflection prevails. It prevails because it can exhibit the very premises of the existence of an omniscient being, to be incoherent. Again, the faithful don't care about this - logic is no concern of theirs (God created logic, after all, so for them he's not bound by it). But for someone who wants to think it through to a reasoned judgement, a stance of perpetually witheld assent either to God's existence or to God's non-existence, is not the most reasonable one. The logical, ethical, metaphysical, and aesthetic arguments are too compelling, leading us to the conclusion that, at the least, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that there are no gods. That is the main point, in the end: not whether a god can be absolutely "demonstrated" to exist or not, but whether it is reasonable to say that a rational approach cannot find evidence in favor of one or another side of the question.

    Again, we are in basic disagreement here. The non-existence of an alleged phenomenon can be demonstrated, logically (as opposed to some absolute positive proof), by a reductio argument. To escape the force of such arguments, you have to resort to god-of-the-gaps style argument, positing some model, some domain which is somehow more fundamental than the one in which you and I are conversing, where the model of logic doesn't apply. I guess you can do that, if you want to (certainly theists, when they're in a discussion like this, often will); but it cannot count as a reasoned argument against my position. I mean, sure, it's open to you to say, "well, how do you know, absolutely, that omniscience isn't a coherent, uncontradictory notion somewhere in a realm beyond our imagining?" But it's simply not reasonable to withold assent on the question of theism, merely on the basis of such pure speculative fancy.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
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