I wanted to put this question out there to see how strongly everyone feels on this subject. Being that most of us trust in scientific fact and reasoning, I was wondering if everyone is absolutely, undeniably, 100% sure that a god doesn't exist.  I personally take into account that there is no proof of any cosmic creator so therefore I am about 99.9999% sure that there is no god. However we all agree that science is an ever evolving field and I don't think that there will ever be any proof to support the existence of a supreme being, but I can't be 100% sure until there is concrete proof against one. I would like to know what all of your thoughts on this.  

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Thanks, Doc. Your comment sums it up really well. The gods of the various "holy" texts are just as likely to exist as Superman, because they are equally works of fiction. The probability is precisely zero. And the infinite-regression-of-creators problem alone sprays logical deicide all over the deist proposition. Modern physics provides the confirmation. There can be no such thing as gods or the supernatural. There could be powerful beings we haven't met yet, but they wouldn't be gods. There could be natural phenomena we haven't detected yet, but they wouldn't be supernatural. It's oxymoronic (and irrational) to assert that some things are real, yet undetectable by science.

God is just Santa Claus for adults.
I was with a group of elderly xtians today. They talked of church like it was xmas. I thought of your quote. I smiled.
Wait. Did they get presents? Maybe I was always just going to the wrong church.
I find reaching 100% as an atheist as pretentious as when theists claim they have reached 100% in their spectrum.

From a practical standpoint behaving in this way makes you weak, you no longer need to take the time to figure out why something is wrong, you just know that it is. Your going to be right most of the time but nature is very often counter intuitive and if you just stick with your intuition your going to get hosed.

How can you be scientifically minded and be 100%? If you are starting with the conclusion and just looking for evidence to support that conclusion does that not violate scientific method? This is the exact same trap that theists fall into when attempting to prove their theories and we have to be better than that.
Daniel, from what you are saying you are not a 100% positive atheist.
This means that you lean to some degree (even if it is very slight) towards the non-scientific supernatural as being believable instead of unacceptable---and yet a non-scientific supernatural belief necessarily implies divinity belief in some fashion with respect to some creator god.

On the other hand, I hold, as do writers like Jason Spicer and Jaume above, that the supernatural can be ruled out completely because, although science has not yet all the answers, the explanations look to be attainable using current knowledge and the application of well-tested scientific methods at the highest levels of cosmological science and mathematics.
That is a false dilemma, my argument against being 100% is based on an adherence to the scientific method and epistemology. I accept that not all of the information I use to make decisions is correct; some of the things I think are true are actually false. But, I've already provided a practical argument based on the scientific method so lets talk epistemology...

How do you know what you observe is actually real? What is the true nature of reality? If I had to prove that I was not in a computer simulation I would not be able to and yet there is no reason to think that computer simulations will not become complex enough accurately simulate another universe.

I think it is very possible that in my lifetime computer simulations will become accurate enough that I will be unable to tell the difference between reality and the computer simulation.

So if I started performing science experiments in the wrong reality then I may only be proving how the physics in the computer simulation work.
Actually, there aren't enough electrons (or photons, or quarks, etc) in the universe to completely model the universe in a simulation. Your physical senses might not be up to the task of determining that you are in a computer simulation, but scientific instruments would be. The simulation could never be of sufficient resolution to avoid pixelization up close--you'd always be able to detect the seams. Unless, of course, the entire universe was the computer running the simulation. In which case, the "simulation" would be the universe, and you're back to the deist assertion that god and the universe are equivalent. This is logically refutable as above.

The short story is that all the arguments that allow for something called a god are reducible to the deist proposition, which makes no logical sense. Since it would be impossible to distinguish between the universe and god, why posit the existence of something called a god? It explains nothing, serves no purpose. God in that case is just a synonym, and thus irrelevant.
How do you know the photons and quarks exist when your not looking at them?

Experimentation tells us that photons behave like a wave function when not being observed, this is very similar to how computer simulations behave. Why waste information on something that is not being observed?

You also assume that our universe is quite dense when in reality it appears to be quite empty. The invisible force fields that we can't measure make up most of an atom and my guess is that we will not detect the Higgs Boson and we'll have to come up with something new for the standard model.

Finally, our universe has a pixel too, it is called the planck length.

Don't get me wrong, it doesn't seem likely that we are in a computer simulation but again I can't prove that.
Daniel, it doesn't matter how dense or empty the universe is. In order to simulate something to the last bit, you need at least as many bits as the thing you're trying to simulate. If you have less than that, your simulation cannot be complete, and seams will show up close. Any computer simulation leaves out detail in order to fit the simulation into the computer.

As to your Schrodinger's Cat comment, observations may collapse wave functions you are looking at, but it's quite clear that looking at wave functions is not required to collapse them. This new age observation-makes-reality nonsense is really getting tired. If anybody really believed that, they wouldn't look before crossing the street, because not looking would ensure that there would be no traffic.
First of all, I despise you misconstruing my point for new age "What the $#%$ do we know?" or for following logic similar to the idiot Deepak Chopra. Make no mistake I am aware of this line of thinking and violently reject it. At least your joke about crossing the road does correctly highlight the segregation between macroscopic and quantum behaviors something Deepak wills himself to misunderstand. Unfortunately in doing so, you missed the point.

Second the following is simply a thought exercise I am more than less making up on the fly.

On a quantum scale is there any reason to believe the universe is not a lazy evaluator perhaps with a random number generator? I am unaware of any such observed limitation; information at this level may indeed be generated by observing it. I don't mean observing in a conscious sense like you or I look at it; I mean in in a sense that if a quantum element acts upon or is acted upon by the quantum element only then is the state evaluated by the universe.

Perhaps this is too generic as everything is being acted upon by thermodynamics, moving on...

I don't wish to digress back into the macroscopic vs quantum scale issue with this example so please be aware. This example is only being used to describe how infinite amounts of information may be reproduced in a compressed form.

If I throw a ball strait up in the air, would I have to give the simulation each coordinate to describe the path of the ball ahead of time or can I provide a compact set of initial conditions and a law to allow the simulation to calculate that information as it is needed?

In this sense every bit of information does not need to be maintained as it can be predicted and it contains initial conditions. A possible beauty with simulating the universe is that quantum behavior does not seem to necessitate an initial condition, so only macroscopic information would need to be stored.

You completely ignored that our universe does have a planck length. Why do you repeat nonsense about seams as if our universe were infinitely granular?
Daniel, I'm not sure why you would despise me for misconstruing you. It is the duty of the writer to be clear. It's hardly my fault that you sounded like Chopra.

It's true that a simulation can use equations to reduce storage requirements, and that the Planck length limits the granularity of the universe. The Planck length just means that there is a limit to how many bits of storage are required. And all equations do is allow predictions of future positions. At any moment, the position needs to be calculable, which requires resources. So you can either store a location or you can store an equation. Either way, you are limited by the resources available in the universe.

I'll assume for the sake of argument that you misspoke when you said "infinite amounts of information may be reproduced in a compressed form". If this were true, I could carry the entire internet on a thumb drive. Any information compression scheme leaves things out. Lossless compression is only possible for information that repeats or is calculable in a predictable way according to a formula or formulas. For a complete snapshot of the universe, you have to have as many elements as the universe. Anything less is missing information. And we would notice that missing information well before we got down to the Planck length. Why? Because when we look at things mid-flight, we see that they are there. Unless there is some intelligence actively putting things right where we (or an inanimate object interacting with them) expect them to be at just the right moment. But of course, in order to do that, the intelligence would need an exact replica of the universe to use as a predictive model.

Now, if you're just saying that our universe is itself a simulation that we inhabit, hosted somehow outside of our space-time in a larger universe with a smaller Planck length (or its equivalent), then sure, we could be living in a simulation. But the simulation would be precisely as big as our universe. It would be our universe. And there would be no way for us to detect the host. So it's a pointless speculation. The conclusion still has to be that there is no god and no supernatural anything in our universe. If there's something like that "outside" our universe, it's undetectable and irrelevant.

Still, I'll let Richard Feynman have the last word. See his comments at the end of the Wikipedia criticisms on this theory.
Oh, and note that if our universe is but a simulation in some broader universe, then any concept of god still suffers from the problem of infinite regress.

And to be fair, Daniel, it's probably Chopra's fault that you sounded like Chopra, since he's made a career out of blurring the lines between physics and mysticism.

In any case, it strikes me that the notion that we are in a simulation is simply a weaker form of the Ontological Argument. The Ontological Argument basically boils down to "if it can be imagined, it must exist". The idea that we should never dismiss any imagined thing out of hand would seem to boil down to "if it can be imagined, it could exist". I don't see any reason why the simple act of imagining anything should alter (or increase) its probability of existence. Zero plus "what if?" is still zero. Zero plus evidence is worth looking into.




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