"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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Location: Australia

I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.


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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Belief Puzzle

There is a difference is claiming that all the gods do not exist and stating non-belief in their existence. I can't prove that all the gods that have ever been worshipped do not exist and you cannot prove that the god YOU worship does exist. I accept that. I don't claim that the gods don't exist, as I can't positively know that. In the same way that you can't positively claim that only one god exists either. You can't positively prove that. But you can BELIEVE that.

What you have is a belief that at least one god exists and that the god you believe exists, is the god of the bible. What I have is the opposite position. I don't believe that the god that you believe in, exists nor do I believe that any of the gods exist except as religious concepts. This is not a statement that your god does not exist, it is a statement that I don't believe that it exists.
The key word in this is "believe."

Basically, you believe that the god of the bible exists because you believe that the bible is the inerrant word of this particular god. All your supposed information revolves around this belief. That is: - The belief that the bible is the word of this god, and that this book is inerrant BECAUSE it is the word of this god. I don't believe that the bible is the word of a god because the claims within it, do not ring true to me and why they ring true to you or anyone else is very perplexing. Ditto with the quran. The bible, as far as I can see, as numerous religious texts before it and after it, is evidence of belief. It is not evidence of the existence of the god itself. It is not evidence of a god UNLESS you BELIEVE that there is a being capable of performing the claims which are made in either the bible or the quran.

I have read the bible and I do not believe the claims that are made in it. But this isn't the most important factor of the discussion at all. The most important factor of the discussion is why do YOU believe the claims in it? Seriously, why DO you believe the supernatural claims that are made in the bible or the quran? What makes these claims believable to you?
By the way, the word puzzle's answer is a proverb. Click here if you want to see what it says. (And, yes, I was crazy or bored enough to do the puzzle in order to find out the answer.)

Listen to Sam Harris speaking about belief.

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Blogger Leena said...

Nice post. I wonder why you use proper capitalization for every word in your blog and posts except for "god" "bible" and "quran" - I'm assuming it's some slight disrespect toward them, as they are generally capitalized. It doesn't bother me, but just something to think about in your approach.

This debate of belief has been going on and will go on forever. But you can't rightly ask people who you think are completely misled to describe to you their reasons for believing in supernatural claims. If they already have one hugely wacky belief, why would it matter why they believe in heaven or hell or angels or faeries or whatever?

7/1/07 5:33 pm  
Blogger L>T said...

hey beep beep! I just listened to the sam harris video it was awesome! thanks.

7/1/07 5:55 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: leena

Capitalization and the use of it -

I don't usually use capitalization for the words, "god, jesus, krishna, baal, allah, muslim, christian, bible, koran or quran" - never have. Even when I considered myself to be a believer.

God, of course, could refer to any god. And then I would have to write it G_d, to keep the orthodox jews happy, so I just use lower class for all of them.

As far as the rules of capitialization go, to stay within the rules I probably should use a capital for proper names such as jesus, allah, krishna, brahma, moses, etc - but frankly, I couldn't be bothered.

Even my own nickname on here doesn't have a capital. ;)

7/1/07 6:10 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE lt

You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

7/1/07 6:11 pm  
Blogger AVERY ARCHER said...

Hello beepbeep,
Very interesting blog you have here. I noticed you left a comment in response to my post at the Web of Belief, but I'm not sure how it relates to the question I've asked.

BTW, are you a philosophy student at ANU?

7/1/07 10:19 pm  
Blogger L>T said...

In reference to leena's comment about capitalization; I capitalize God when refering to The god of Moses, Jesus & muslims. Mostly as clarifacation. This is how it's done in the Bible, "god" refers to so called lesser gods. This is left over from my Christian days.

As far as blogging & capitalization; I, like beepbeep, can't be bothered. since our own monikers are not usually proper, as far as punctuation, etc...I've never thought of not capitalizing as disrespectful in blogging.

I also think the debate of belief is very important. For one thing we don't know for sure how other people are feeling about their own beliefs. When I was struggling with mine, i was thankful for people like beepbeep & Sam Harris to help me confirm my own ideas. We fortunately live in a time & a society where we can use & make up our own minds. As a Humanist myself, I can only think debating belief to be benefitual to mankind.

8/1/07 6:55 am  
Anonymous karen said...

Hi beepbeep,

Just dropped in to check out the post-good one-but since I'm not a believer, I can't really contribute as to why beliefs are such as they are. I can only say that when I was one, it was because I was brought up from infancy to think that way.

A lack of answers to my questions gabe me a clue that I was on a road to somewhere I didn't want to go.

8/1/07 7:03 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE karen

Thanks for dropping by anyway, and ty for your imput.

8/1/07 10:44 am  
Blogger Daniel said...

I guess, as a pragmatist, I have great difficulty with the notion that because one can't 'prove' that god doesn't exist that the only position possible is that you 'believe' that god doesn't exist.

Surely there exists in the scientific world sufficient hard evidence to demonstrate that god does not exist. I know that god doesn't exist just the same as I know that fairies don't exist.

It this question no more that a circular, academic/philosophical exercise in sematics?

Just asking!

9/1/07 9:25 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE daniel

I don't believe in the existence of many things, but I wouldn't be able to prove their non-existence.

Also, I don't think that people can know of the existence of a god or gods - they can read about them and their supposed exploits - but I don't consider this "knowing".

They can believe that their god exists, but I am perplexed as to how they can claim to "know" of its existence. Basically, I think they just play a semantic game with themselves and others, and perhaps they are not even aware of it.

"Holy books" are not evidence or proof of the existence of gods either. I consider them evidence of BELIEF in a god or gods.

In the same way that a book about fairies is not evidence of the existence of fairies, it may be evidence that some people BELIEVE in the existence of fairies.

How could anyone, for example - prove or disprove the existence of an invisible, incorporeal being who lives everywhere? Religion IS the concept that survives through sheer semantics.

9/1/07 6:44 pm  
Blogger Daniel said...

Good point, Beep.

I've just been down the bottom of my garden checking things out. And I may say a prayer tonight just in case, perhaps burn a candle or two. Can't be too careful in this world of suddenly increasing uncertainty!

For example, I felt certain that the sun would rise tomorrow but, given the logic of the argument, I can't actually prove that the sun will rise tomorrow (there may be an evil black hole lurking in outer space which swallows it) so therefore I can only believe it will rise.

Don't think I'll go to bed tonight! I feel too anxious! In case it doesn't rise in the morning let me say it's been really nice knowing you, Beep!

9/1/07 8:18 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE daniel

I agree that it is about probabilities. It is highly probable based on what we know of the sun, its properties, behaviours and habits that the sun will be in the sky tomorrow.

It is highly improbable that it will, according to The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy's "improbability drive", morph into a bowl of petunias.

The probability is so high, based on evidence and the knowledge of the sun, that the majority of us are confident, based on justified knowledge, enough to state that the sun is going to be visible to us tomorrow.

It isn't going to rise though, as the earth rotates on its axis while revolving around the sun, the sun will become visible to the inhabitants of earth from east to west.

So, the sun won't be rising tomorrow, but it will, appear or seem to rise in the east and set in the west.

The probability that fairies are at the bottom of the garden are about as probable as the sun morphing into a bowl of petunias.

9/1/07 8:59 pm  

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