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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Prompted by your first post:

In focusing on ‘proof’ and its supposed objective output ‘truth’ you – and most on our side, including our intellectual leaders – are perpetuating a game with the theists that we have been unable to win for at least the past 2500 years. We don’t need to play it anymore. We have been, for at least the 75 years since publication of Karl Popper’s ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’, in a position to move for checkmate. Most simply, to back the theist’s intellectual leaders up to a clean logical knife edge with reason on one side and their theistic beliefs on the other. No person can force another to change their mind. But any person who claims the support of reason for their beliefs – as the theist’s leaders still do – can in theory be shown clearly that they don’t have it. If, after that, they still choose the beliefs, then all including themselves will understand the intellectual bankruptcy of their position. They may continue to claim justifications other than reason (as they do now, with their ‘faith’ and ‘non doxastic justification’) but it will be trivially easy for the rest of us to show them that that such justifications can be offered for any proposal whatsoever, including an infinite number that are logically exclusive, from which it follows that the justifications are not in any coherent sense functional. As I asked in my last post here, to what extent can a selection gate that we can see to be passing both X and all conceivable variants of contra-X honestly be said to be selecting?

I’ve taken the liberty of pasting another of my short essays here. It is my simple recipe for productive debate with theists. I think that it is also, as suggested in my last post, a chain saw in comparison to the axes that are still being used by most on our side (and, so far as I can determine from their comments, by all on this thread).


Crystal Blue Persuasion

The following is a simple three step guide for constructive engagement with any proselytizing theist. It is, in effect, synopsis and clarification of an 'app' from my main essay 'Truth?'. My hope is that by directing interested parties first to this short and explicitly practical essay some may then become engaged enough to try the longer and more challenging one.

1. Inform the theist that he is offering proposals that you do not believe him to be able to qualify, through any coherent procedure for knowledge selection, as knowledge. Offer to open the debate with him at that level. Specifically, to work with him to arrive first at a procedure that you will both be able to understand to be functional. Offer further that if this step can be completed then you will invite him to clearly state his theistic proposals for your mutual application of the procedure to them, and that if they then can be seen to qualify through it you will publically embrace them, on the spot. Explain politely that you do not wish to waste his time or yours on a further replay of the sterile debate that has been going on between our two sides for thousands of years. Simply, that if he is willing to match your level of commitment, in engaging within a format that you can both understand to be capable of clear and final settlement of our argument, then you are keen to talk to him. But that if he will only engage in the absence of any such format – to hold open his option for declaring a draw, through play of the 'faith' card or some related piece of hokum like 'warrant' or 'non-doxastic justification' as soon as he can see his position becoming rationally untenable – then you have other and more productive uses for your time. He can accept, or he can decline. If he chooses the latter, then it will be with pretty clear implications for both himself and those to whom he had been trying to propagate his theism.

2. [He has accepted, and you’ve mutually agreed on a functional procedure]. Invite him to state his theism's defining proposals. Specifically, those which distinguish it from the all of the others, and from science (unless, of course, he would just as soon have you embrace any of those). Write his proposals down. Get him to sign the sheet. Because once you start applying a functional knowledge selection procedure to them – and they start to melt like sandcastles in the rising tide – he will expect to be able use the standard theist's dodge of linguistically obfuscating and morphing them to avoid your selection procedure’s gates. As in: “Well, I didn’t literally mean……..” and “Of course '……..' should be understood only in a metaphorical sense”, and the rest of that ancient bag of tricks.

3. [You now have the functional procedure and the signed list]. Patiently and systematically apply the procedure to each one of his proposals. Show him how it clearly fails to qualify. Show him that any relaxation of the procedure’s tests that is sufficient to allow his proposals to qualify will also and simultaneously permit qualification of an effectively infinite number of other and logically exclusive proposals (including, and most naturally, those of science). So, and from which, he can see that his proposals simply cannot be coherently selected. That he can have them, but ultimately from precisely the same wishful-thought basis that a boy on a rooftop can have knowledge of his ability to fly like Superman after watching a Superman movie. Go ahead and put him explicitly in the position of having to publically renege on your agreement, or else renounce his theism. [Note: Our side has been in a position to do this for at least the past seventy five years; but, in general, we have not. For some thoughts on how and why that has been, and whether our reticence has indeed been justifiable, please see another of the short essays at my blogsite: 'The Cuddly Kitten'.]

Primers for Step 3:

The essay ‘Truth?’ (access via 'view my complete profile' at the blogsite).

William Clifford’s classic essay ‘The Ethics of Belief’.

George Smith’s ‘The Case Against God’.

Michael and Monier’s essay collection ‘The Impossibility of God’.

General recent writings of the ‘new atheists’ (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Victor Stenger, Daniel Dennett, Michael Shermer, Anthony Grayling, et al).

Hi Keith, how are things.

I could actually read this article. Thanks for shortening it.

One question about Step. Are you saying they can or they can't draw the faith card?

Hi again Keith, I looked at my very first post at Atheist-Nexus but I don't think that is the one you are referring to. Could you give me the first few lines of the post you are talking about?
Are all you skeptics 100% sure that you cannot know anything for sure? Or just 99.99999999999%? I'm pretty sure that makes you agnostic. About everything.




I believe agnostic is officially not taking a stand .... an atheist can take a stand based on the overwhelming evidence ...which in this case is even beyond a reasonable doubt ( people are executed on less evidence). The atrheist can say there is no god or supernatural and still allow a statistically insignificant probability for error.


I believe, if you cannot make objective definitions, then you cannot have a meaningful exchange of ideas. You believe agnosticism is officially not taking a stand. I believe this is wrong. Using only the essential qualities that give a concept its identity, I define skepticism as the self-contradictory idea that knowledge can never be certain. And I define agnosticism as the idea that humans cannot know whether or not there is a God. I'm not sure what 'Not taking a stand' means. Not fighting for their worldview? Not thinking hard enough to make a decision? Giving up? Refusing to discuss? Not giving up what one's real thoughts are? Not interfering? It's a metaphor. It can mean anything arbitrary. Thinking something is 51% likely, 75% or 99% is not having knowledge of that thing. There are certain things we can not be sure about, fine, but something that is contradictory to the most basic building blocks of cognition can be said to, for sure, not exist. This is atheism (when concerning God). Not, "I think that there is only a .000000000001% chance God exists". Things that cannot be defined, or don't have identity, or are somehow outside the realm of reality, or can perform impossible things or are metaphors have a zero % chance of existing. For this reason, I think about half of the people on this thread are not atheists.
I have no thoughts about what I would like a word to mean. I define them based on essential characteristics. That is what makes them objective. What arbitrary qualities others interject into their definitions is of less concern to me. You have not demonstrated a contradiction in the idea that to have a meaningful exchange of words, objective definitions must be used. Nor have you demonstrated how my definitions of agnosticism or skepticism are subjective. My perceptions are subjective. And my brain uses the processes of reason and logic to integrate patterns of perceptual stimuli contextually and hierarchically, without contradiction, to build an objective knowledge base of valid concepts. This entire process negates all possibilities of a God. Unless, you define God as a teacup. Then, it does exist and is in my kitchen.
Those are objective definitions. That's what definition is. The objectification of subjective patterns of perceptions into valid concepts. And you copying and pasting my words doesn't demonstrate anything but their presence repeated.
I'm not trying to be a pain here, but in fairness:

To be constructive, if you want to assert a definition that everyone can work with in a conversation, it is best to cite an online dictionary verbatim.

While cute, (and even accurate by some meanings of the word), adding "self-contradictory" to the definition of skepticism is baiting.

Not that baiting can't be entertaining, but if that's your point, own it. Otherwise, if you mean to come to agreeable terms for the point of having a conversation, cite the definition and then add your two cents.
Skepticism as the impossibility of knowledge is itself a contradiction. Unless you mean skepticism as a healthy amount of doubt about something that as yet is not conclusive or not able to be contextually integrated without contradiction. I clarified that, I believe. But these folks are using it as the former, not the latter. In a very contradictory fashion. But, I guess you are right in that it should not be included in an objective definition.
While I have a great deal of respect for those you have quoted, and many of those quotes are contextually valid, most metaphysically, but none of those quotes or anything else I've ever heard, read or seen are convincing evidence that things that are directly opposed to the most basic epistemological (and metaphysical/scientific) rules can exist. Existence, perception, conception and consciousness could not possibly exist if God exists. The whole idea is self-contradictory and therefore cannot exist. There is a limit to our knowledge, true, and exact and perfection are not really good words to describe it, but some absolutes exist and must, for the idea that there are no absolutes is, itself, a contradiction and is therefore false. Reality is an absolute. And dictates that there is no God. For sure.
Whoever espouses the idea or wherever they get it from, skepticism as a foundation of epistemology or metaphysics fails at the outset. Certain knowledge of reality is possible and God is not. Skepticism as doubt of a thing without ample evidence is proper. Skepticism as doubt of already contextually valid knowledge is irrational.


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