[thechat] the god game

martin.p.burns at uk.pwcglobal.com martin.p.burns at uk.pwcglobal.com
Tue Feb 19 12:28:00 CST 2002

Memo from Martin P Burns of PricewaterhouseCoopers

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Hmm - some sloppy phrasing of questions imo.

Particularly a lack of definitive qualifiers like "all" or "none",
and I find this actually inaccurate:

You say that if there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show
that God does not exist, then atheism is a matter of faith, not
rationality. Therefore, it seems that you do not think that the mere
absence of evidence for the existence of God is enough to justify believing
that she does not exist. This view is also suggested by your earlier claim
that it is not rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not
exist even if, despite years of trying, no evidence has been presented to
suggest that it does exist.

There is no logical inconsistency in your answers.

Actually, what they've just said is that there *is* consistency in my

But by denying that the absence of evidence, even where it has been sought,
is enough to justify belief in the non-existence of things, you are
required to countenance possibilities that most people would find bizarre.
For example, do you really want to claim that it is not rationally
justified to believe that intelligent aliens do not live on Mars?
Bizarre or not, it's logical, despite their schoolchild level
of debate[1]. I don't think that intelligent aliens *do* live on Mars
(*balance* of probability), but equally don't believe that it's
*impossible* that they do.

Similarly in the next section:
You are consistent in applying the principle that it is justifiable to base
one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction even
when there is no external evidence for the truth of this conviction. The
problem is that it seems you have to accept that people might be justified
in their belief that terrible things are right. You have agreed that the
rapist is justified in believing that he carries out the will of God, and
in an earlier answer you indicated that you think that God defines what is
good and what is evil. Therefore, to be consistent, you must think the
rapist is justified in believing that he acts morally when he acts on his
inner conviction. Hence, you bite the bullet and justify the rapist.
That's not actually what I said. What I said is that the rapist
self-justifies, not that I justify him.

And the one after:
In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically
impossible (like creating square circles), you are saying that any
discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic
principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about
God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is
nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to
support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on
religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious
convictions, including your religious convictions, are beyond any debate or
rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet.
By their definition, sure. But are their definitions a priori correct? They
do pre-suppose a certain prejudice...


[1] The Loch Ness Monster argument has a different
    level of probability because the conditions for life in
    Loch Ness are somewhat more in question than those on
    Mars - the two aren't comparable. But making that comparison
    and appealing to 'common sense' is the level of debate heard
    amongst 14 year olds.


rudy <rudy937 at rogers.com>@lists.evolt.org on 19/02/2002 16:26:00

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Subject:  [thechat] the god game

very popular at the moment


i bit one (1) bullet


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