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Bronze Dog
Nowhere, Texas
Atheist+ and indie gamer.
Interests: Skepticism, atheism, science, programming, indie games, sci-fi, fantasy
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Just to note: The only times I can recall anyone ever using words like "necessary" and "contingent" to describe causes were when religious apologetics were involved. They were much more direct about where they were taking it, though, since they weren't interested in giving lessons on the meaning of the jargon or used to being asked questions about it. Their arguments that followed from their talk about the necessary first cause or whatever were complete non-sequiturs, so I never really had the need to look into this part of the argument. Since the dead field of religious apologetics was the only thing I knew of that used that language, I wasn't exactly motivated to learn the nuance when the rest of the package had more obvious flaws.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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If a cause NEEDS its effect to happen in order to be a cause, then something must be necessary. <= See...I can play your sophistry game too. Okay, so does this mean absolutely everything's necessary, now? If so, it kind of trivializes the use of the word. And what's sophistry about describing the nature of causality?
Toggle Commented Oct 4, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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You have to furnish me with a reason to reject it by specifically identifying where it is flawed. Now I think we're getting into burden of proof or something like it. I need an explanation of why it's impossible. The way I'm looking at it right now, a cause "needs" its effect to happen in order to be a cause, to be what it is, so a cause-effect relationship looks like a two-way contingency to me. I have already stated why in a previous post. Link, please? You can copy it from the post's timestamp.
Toggle Commented Oct 4, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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You're NOT granting me anything. Either you acknowledge that "something must be necessary because everything can't be contingent" or you don't. If you don't, then you are obligated to identify the logical flaw in my argument. Failure to do so ends this debate. That's how it works. Currently, I do not see a reason to accept your premise that everything can't be contingent. Some additional clarification on the terms "necessary" and "contingent" as you're using them would also be nice. In my experience, the specialized definitions are most typically (mis)used to distort or manufacture meaning, rather than express ideas. As for why I haven't been focusing on this point, well, why is it that important? It's the common leap from the idea of a first/necessary/whatever cause to anthropomorphic entities called "gods" that I'm most interested in. I generally don't see much point in breaking a chain of terminological nuance when I'm aware of weaker links.
Toggle Commented Oct 3, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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You want a flaw so lets start with the very first premise, that whatever begins to exist had a cause for that. I just remembered a point that I think is worth bringing up: Most things we think about in everyday life don't "begin to exist" in the way that phrase tends to imply. All that matter and energy has been around since at least the Big Bang, and it's only changed forms. We just apply labels to certain forms when they are "created," though those changes do typically involve causes. Of course, it's still highly questionable to assert that everything has a cause just because we're familiar with caused events, since, as has been mentioned, the radioactive decay of an individual atom and particle pairs that arise in a vacuum appear to be causeless events. I don't see any problem with the idea that the Big Bang was uncaused.
Toggle Commented Oct 3, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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Alastair, are you being evasive because you know we know your game and won't play along? --- Oh, and one thing that comes to mind, though I can't quite recall how it went: It's possible to think of causes and effects as dependent (contingent?) on each other, and it's our temporal bias that makes us privilege causes.
Toggle Commented Oct 3, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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Even if we granted that, so what?
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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Edit to my above comment: I mean probability, not plausibility.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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Something I feel I should note: We're not asking for "utter certainty," either. We're just asking for a reasonable level of confidence and plausibility, like we would for any science question under debate. Certainty is rarely possible outside of pure mathematics.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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don't believe I have ever employed the term "know" in this regards. Care to explain yourself and what your claims actually are, then?
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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Alastair, HOW do you know this alleged necessary uncaused cause is this thing you call a god? To me, this is like saying it's "narf," by the way. I don't exactly see a consensus on what a "god" is or demonstrable examples on which to base a definition. It's ivory tower nonsense to me. Actually, it's more like one very specific echo chamber in the ivory tower. It's really not that hard to make arguments that are logically valid and/or self-consistent. Good authors essentially do that for the sake of building fictional worlds that make sense to readers, even if they use magic or weird science that doesn't exist in real life. The author's definitions only carry weight because he's the one doing the worldbuilding. Readers will typically suspend disbelief for the sake of being entertained and accept strange premises. To keep that suspension of disbelief, the author tries to maintain a narrative with logical consequences based on those premises. The tough issue in arguing about real life is cogency. Validity means that if your premises are true, your conclusion will be true. Cogency/soundness means that your premises are true. If any one of your premises is false, your logic fails to be compelling because it's effectively changing the venue to a fictional world where those premises are true. We'd rather argue about the real world. Definitions are also a problem because the universe won't change to match our language. It's more realistic to observe the universe and sculpt our language to describe what we see. We can't discover or understand anything new by throwing around definitions as if they were inherently authoritative. Words are not magic.
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2013 on The Golden Woos #4 at Skeptico
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Testing comments with my TypePad account. Forgot I had one, since it was last used in 2009. Let me know if I get stuck in the spam filter or something.
Toggle Commented Sep 6, 2013 on Chrome Test at Kymberlie's Blog
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Perhaps you'd like to tell us what you can tell about a person with reasonable confidence with astrology, Frog. Whenever astrology's tested, many astrologers tend to leave comments about the things astrology can't predict. As for fingerprints, no one claims that a person's fingerprint influences their personality or future. Astrologers usually claim that a person's birth date and position of the planets do.
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2009 on Astrology's (lack of) Provenance at Skeptico
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