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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Facepalm. Cane, logically possible and real are not equivalent. True and real are not equivalent. Your definition of "definition" is ridiculous on its face, considering that plenty of definitions are backed by or arrived at by evidence, but noncontradiction alone does not confer existence. Where are you getting this crap? You are either trolling or seriously muddled, and since you refuse to listen to people who try to unmuddle you, I'm inclined to think you're trolling.

I cannot get any philosopher to nail down what they are talking about. I ask for a definition, I get a novel. I am trying to make it simple, but that offended you. 

From your reply, I take it you do not agree with the statement "noncontradiction of an identity makes it real". What statement would reflect the idea of "making something real and that it exists in the logical world"?

I take it Identity is logically possible, but not real (does not exist). Or sometimes Identity exists and sometimes Identity doesn't exist, but is possible. Identity (when it exists) requires evidence, but when it is only possible (when logically arrived at) it doesn't exist.

So, "Identity arrived at without evidence" is ridiculous. Can it also be defined as possible or existing?

"noncontradiction alone does not confer existence"

Again I ask for a one or two sentence statement that conveys the entire idea of "making something real and that it exists in the logical world"?


No, Cane, you cannot accept the simple assertions that we are giving you. When we expand on them, you complain that we are writing novels. Here it is one last time, as brief as I can make it. I hope it squeezes thru the aperture available.


Logical contradiction proves impossibility of existence, no evidence required. Period. How could it possibly be otherwise in a comprehensible universe?


Logical noncontradiction is necessary, but not sufficient, to prove existence. Evidence is required to prove existence. Something that is logically consistent may or may not exist, but you have no reason to believe that it does until you find evidence.


As an example, fictional characters may be logically consistent, but they are not real.


As another example, extraterrestrials certainly could exist, and given the fact that we exist, they almost certainly do, but until we find evidence of them, the jury is out.


As a further example, logically inconsistent things like gods cannot exist. It isn't surprising that there isn't any evidence for them, since they are logically impossible. If you think you've found evidence for a god, you need to look for a better explanation, because it's not possible. Of course, it just so happens that we've always found a better explanation than gods throughout human history. Again, no surprise.


Stop confusing yourself by conflating real with true, and possible with extant. And stop insisting on further explanation for things that have already been explained. And look up the definition of things, rather than relying on your own home-brewed ones. Your definition of "belief" for example is at odds with Webster and common usage. And definitely look up the definition of "necessary" and "sufficient", since your misunderstandings seem to hinge primarily on a confusion regarding those two.

Are you sure that you cannot be certain?
I like that! Can I use it?
In the context under discussion surely you cannot be sure that you cannot be certain.
For sure.
Why is it the way you say it is?
Logically, it is impossible to be sure that you cannot be sure. This is a blatant contradiction and as we all know, contradictions cannot exist or be true. If you think that you can be certain that certainty is impossible, then words have no meaning and anything goes.
By all means, please do.

oops, posted this in the wrong place.

see later

It has been argued that one can prove a negative----if the argument proceeds much like this, as given by Steven D. Hales some years ago in Skeptic December 2007.


You Can Prove a Negative

by Steven D. Hales

A PRINCIPLE OF FOLK LOGIC is that you can’t prove a negative. Skeptics and scientists routinely concede the point in debates about the possible existence of everything from Big Foot and Loch Ness to aliens and even God. In a recent television interview on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, for example, Skeptic publisher Michael Shermer admitted as much when Stephen Colbert pressed him on the point when discussing Weapons of Mass Destruction, the comedian adding that once it is admitted that scientists cannot prove the nonexistence of a thing, then belief in anything is possible. Even Richard Dawkins writes in The God Delusion that “you cannot prove God’s non-existence is accepted and trivial, if only in the sense that we can never absolutely prove the non-existence of anything.”

There is one big problem with this. Among professional logicians, guess how many think that you can’t prove a negative? That’s right, zero. Yes, Virginia, you can prove a negative, and it’s easy, too. For one thing, a real, actual law of logic is a negative, namely the law of non-contradiction. This law states that a proposition cannot be both true and not true. Nothing is both true and false. Furthermore, you can prove this law. It can be formally derived from the empty set using provably valid rules of inference. (I’ll spare you the boring details). One of the laws of logic is a provable negative. Wait … this means we’ve just proven that it is not the case that one of the laws of logic is that you can’t prove a negative. So we’ve proven yet another negative! In fact, “you can’t prove a negative” is a negative — so if you could prove it true, it wouldn’t be true! Uh-oh.

Not only that, but any claim can be expressed as a negative, thanks to the rule of double negation. This rule states that any proposition P is logically equivalent to not-not-P. So pick anything you think you can prove. Think you can prove your own existence? At least to your own satisfaction? Then, using the exact same reasoning, plus the little step of double negation, you can prove that you are not nonexistent. Congratulations, you’ve just proven a negative. The beautiful part is that you can do this trick with absolutely any proposition whatsoever. Prove P is true and you can prove that P is not false.

You can easily construct a valid deductive argument with all true premises that yields the conclusion that there are no unicorns. Here’s one, using the valid inference procedure of modus tollens (Latin for “mode that affirms by denying”):

  1. If unicorns had existed, then there is evidence in the fossil record.
  2. There is no evidence of unicorns in the fossil record.
  3. Therefore, unicorns never existed.

Someone might object that that was a bit too fast — after all, I didn’t prove that the two premises were true. I just asserted that they were true. Well, that’s right. However, it would be a grievous mistake to insist that someone prove all the premises of any argument they might give. Here’s why. The only way to prove, say, that there is no evidence of unicorns in the fossil record, is by giving an argument to that conclusion. Of course one would then have to prove the premises of that argument by giving further arguments, and then prove the premises of those further arguments, ad infinitum. Which premises we should take on credit and which need payment up front is a matter of long and involved debate among epistemologists. But one thing is certain: if proving things requires that an infinite number of premises get proved first, we’re not going to prove much of anything at all, positive or negative.

Maybe people mean that no inductive argument will conclusively, indubitably prove a negative proposition beyond all shadow of a doubt. For example, suppose someone argues that we’ve scoured the world for Bigfoot, found no credible evidence of Bigfoot’s existence, and therefore there is no Bigfoot. This is a classic inductive argument. A Sasquatch defender can always rejoin that Bigfoot is reclusive, and might just be hiding in that next stand of trees. You can’t prove he’s not! (until the search of that tree stand comes up empty too). The problem here isn’t that inductive arguments won’t give us certainty about negative claims (like the nonexistence of Bigfoot), but that inductive arguments won’t give us certainty about anything at all, positive or negative. All observed swans are white, therefore all swans are white looked like a pretty good inductive argument until black swans were discovered in Australia.

The very nature of an inductive argument is to make a conclusion probable, but not certain, given the truth of the premises. That is just what an inductive argument is. We’d better not dismiss induction because we’re not getting certainty out of it, though. Why do you think that the sun will rise tomorrow? Not because of observation (you can’t observe the future!), but because that’s what it has always done in the past. Why do you think that if you turn on the kitchen tap that water will come out instead of chocolate? Why do you think you’ll find your house where you last left it? Again, because that’s the way things have always been in the past. In other words, we use inferences — induction — from past experiences in every aspect of our lives. As Bertrand Russell once pointed out, the chicken who expects to be fed when he sees the farmer approaching, since that is what had always happened in the past, is in for a big surprise when instead of receiving dinner, he becomes dinner. But if the chicken had rejected inductive reasoning altogether, then every appearance of the farmer would be a surprise.

So why is it that people insist that you can’t prove a negative? I think it is the result of two things: (1) Disappointment that induction is not bulletproof, airtight, and infallible, and (2) A desperate desire to keep believing whatever one believes, even if all the evidence is against it. That’s why people keep believing in alien abductions, even when flying saucers always turn out to be weather balloons, stealth jets, comets, or too much alcohol. You can’t prove a negative! You can’t prove that there are no alien abductions! Meaning: your argument against aliens is inductive, therefore not incontrovertible. Since I want to believe in aliens, I’m going to dismiss the argument no matter how overwhelming the evidence against aliens, and no matter how vanishingly small the chance of extraterrestrial abduction.

If we’re going to dismiss inductive arguments because they produce conclusions that are probable but not definite, then we are in deep manure. Despite its fallibility, induction is vital in every aspect of our lives, from the mundane to the most sophisticated science. Without induction we know basically nothing about the world apart from our own immediate perceptions. So we’d better keep induction, warts and all, and use it to form negative beliefs as well as positive ones.

You can prove a negative — at least as much as you can prove anything at all.





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