Re: help with "proof" for non-existence of God

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 11 Mar 1997 17:15:26 +0100 (MET)

On Mon, 10 Mar 1997, Geoff Smith wrote:

> On Mon, 10 Mar 1997, Dan Hook wrote:
> > I am aware that this might be a little off subject but it is one of my
> > hobby's to argue with theists. I am aware that I do not have a chance of
> > changing their views. Right now my current goal is having someone say,
> > "That's a good argument, but I still believe."
> I think the problem with your argument is that even though we define the
> universe as everything, I find theists generally consider god to somehow
> be "outside" of the universe. I don't think you're going to change their
> opinion on this.

No, although the retort "So you mean God exists outside of the set of
things that exist?" at least is fun to say.

> However, one argument I see theists constantly using is that of teleology.
> They will point out that if anything is complex, it must be made by
> someone.

Yes, this is a very common argument. I like to explain to tell them about
the regular hexagonal pattern of Rayleigh-Bernard convection, and how it
appears as patterns of stones on the tundra, the shells of some species
of snails and in many other places in physics. It is complex and ordered,
who created it? Generally, theists often do not realize how prevalent
self-organization is in the universe; even if you ascribe it to the will
of God it is obvious that the will must act on the mathematical level
(since otherwise formal alife simulations would be provably interfered
with by God) and not on the physical level. Unfortunately most theists
just assimilate this argument, by conveniantly ignoring its implications.

> I disagree with Johnny Carwash's statement that some are too pious
> to be swayed from their faith in god, or that faith and science can
> coexist(although I think he actually said faith and nanotechnology)

Well, it is (almost) unprovable whether person A can not be swayed. One
might consider something like the "purgatorium" idea in Tipler's _Physics
of Immortality_, where an omega-being tries to convince an evil person
without directly changing his brain. This is a finite game, since after a
certain, very long, time the person due to his finite brain will start to
repeat himself, so the number of "game positions" (mental states) is
finite. Tipler asks the question if there are winning strategies in this
game, and one might ask the same for the "swaying game". But it is rather
theoretical, in practice most people can be influenced given enough work
but some are very stubborn.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y