## Can someone critique my reasoning here?

I have been debating with an atheist about the possible existence of a god. I wrote this as an explanation but I don’t know if it's a very reasonable explanation. Perhaps someone could read it over and give me some comments.

 The question for everyone to ask is, why is there anything? What engendered the existence of the known Universe? Science has yet to provide any kind of answer to this question. Therefore, you must give every possibility an equal probability. An equal probability for every single explanation that has been thought of and for everyone that has not been thought of. As such, the probability that someone stuck their hand in the universal hat full of all possible explanations and pulled out the correct is answer very close to impossible. Interestingly enough, your hypothesis that there is no god, is not an explanation but part of many possible explanations. In the same way, the hypothesis that there is a god is not an explanation but part of many possible explanations. Therefore, while it is not correct to limit ourselves to a binary choice we can explore this possibility. So the binary options are all the explanations that have a god and all those explanations that do not have a god. I contend that for every explanation you can come up that has no god, I can come up with one that has a god. Therefore, it might seem reasonable to believe that cardinality of the two sets, are equal. If that is the case then each of the binary choices gets a probability of .5. In other words, they would be equally likely. How can we know if the two sets have the same number of elements? If we can make a one-to-one correspondence then we will have shown this to be true. I contend that for every possible explanation that can be given that has no god, I can simply include a god and therefore make an explanation with a god. And the reverse is also true….. Therefore, we have a function which effectively maps from one set to another set and we also have that the inverse of the function is also a function. Therefore, the function is one-to-one and thus the two sets have an equal cardinality. Thus, if we look at the conditional probability of whether or not there is a god given that there are no other possibilities but those two then we have that this probability is .5. So flip a fair coin and call it in the air cause that’s as good as it is going to get.

 The question for everyone to ask is, why is there anything? What engendered the existence of the known Universe?
Moving the "first cause" to an earlier level ("what created us?" will lead you to ultimately ask "what created God?") gets you nowhere. Don't start that road at all. You need, at some point, to say "I am incapable of comprehending this." You can do that with human existence; invoking God does not ultimately solve the problem of understanding all the "is-ness" in existence.

 Science has yet to provide any kind of answer to this question.
Science doesn't ask the question. Science measures the physical universe. Faith is a separate thing and not subject to scientifc inquiry. Scientists recognize this.

 Therefore, you must give every possibility an equal probability.
Not scientifically. Scientifically, you don't invoke a "God of the gaps." Scientifically, you describe what you can in the physical usniverse, and admit that everything else lies in "I don't know" land. You don't attempt to describe a matter of faith, with science.

 An equal probability for every single explanation that has been thought of and for everyone that has not been thought of.
"Equal probabilities" is also flawed. An opinion is not the same thing as evidence. The pope has no evidence of God. He has an opinion and a life's worth of indoctrination. That is not "equal" in terms of weight, for discussing whether there is reason or not to believe in God.

 As such, the probability that someone stuck their hand in the universal hat full of all possible explanations and pulled out the correct is answer very close to impossible.
Thus, the above is a straw man.

 Interestingly enough, your hypothesis that there is no god, is not an explanation but part of many possible explanations. In the same way, the hypothesis that there is a god is not an explanation but part of many possible explanations.
I agree, but not on a scientific basis. Ditch the scientific approach.

 Therefore, while it is not correct to limit ourselves to a binary choice we can explore this possibility. So the binary options are all the explanations that have a god and all those explanations that do not have a god. I contend that for every explanation you can come up that has no god, I can come up with one that has a god. Therefore, it might seem reasonable to believe that cardinality of the two sets, are equal. If that is the case then each of the binary choices gets a probability of .5. In other words, they would be equally likely.
Wrong. There is no *reason* to invoke a God. Only faith. All your argument does, does is move the need for the "creator" of "God," one step further back.

 How can we know if the two sets have the same number of elements? If we can make a one-to-one correspondence then we will have shown this to be true. I contend that for every possible explanation that can be given that has no god, I can simply include a god and therefore make an explanation with a god. And the reverse is also true…..
You're re-iterating yourself, but the premise is still wrong..... And the rest of the post sort of goes off into speculation based on the previous stuff.

I agree with you, that we do not understand why we are here. There may be a God, or there may not be. But, there is nothing to be gained by trying to prove that there is - as that simply moves the argument back one step. Also, if God is not "physical" then he will not be subject to physical measurements - a mainstay of science.

The desire of the christian fundamentalists to introduce creationism into the science classroom is close to my heart. I am a scietist, and a teacher, and my *training* in science and my wrestling with the "meaning of life" have shown me in very conclusive ways, that to try to pigenohole "God" into a logical argument will not work.

Religion is based on Faith. There is nothing wrong with Faith. It is arguably more important than science. If God exists, I expect he is "big" enough to be outside the limits of science. I suggest you shift your argument to a more philosophical stance, rather than one based on coin flips and probabilities and reason.

 Quote by pattylou Religion is based on Faith. There is nothing wrong with Faith. It is arguably more important than science. If God exists, I expect he is "big" enough to be outside the limits of science. I suggest you shift your argument to a more philosophical stance, rather than one based on coin flips and probabilities and reason.
Thanks....I guess I was looking to find something that would just make it harder for him to argue with me.

Regards,

## Can someone critique my reasoning here?

Sorry if I let my button get pushed. The creationists want me to teach Genesis in science. It ain't science.

He can't argue your position, if it's a position of faith. Any good atheist knows that.

 Quote by pattylou Sorry if I let my button get pushed. The creationists want me to teach Genesis in science. It ain't science. He can't argue your position, if it's a position of faith. Any good atheist knows that.

Oh....perhaps I need to clarify a bit...I don't have faith at all...I am totally agnostic. I don't know what to believe. He is contending that there is no god. I am only trying to convince him that the chances of there being a god are about as good as there being no god. We cannot know anything for sure.

Either way...the errors in my argument make it invalid.

But thanks for taking the time to respond and help me see that.

Regards,
 Most died-in-the-wool atheists I have spoken with (a handful), seem to believe "There is no God worthy of worship." These particular atheists recognize you can't prove the non-existence of God. I tend to agree, that if there is a God, events on Earth would indicate that he isn't really worth worshiping. There's too much chaos, pain, etc. I also believe that you can't *prove* it one way or the toher. The clause in bold, above, makes a world of difference in what a person means by "atheist" to my way of thinking. Maybe your atheist friend has beliefs more similar to your own, than you realize. Or maybe not.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus This is a really touchy area so please stick to the logic and science only. Religious discussions are not allowed.

 Quote by Ivan Seeking This is a really touchy area so please stick to the logic and science only. Religious discussions are not allowed.
Sorry...I just wanted some other opinions....

 Quote by pattylou I agree, but not on a scientific basis. Ditch the scientific approach. Religion is based on Faith. There is nothing wrong with Faith. It is arguably more important than science. If God exists, I expect he is "big" enough to be outside the limits of science. I suggest you shift your argument to a more philosophical stance, rather than one based on coin flips and probabilities and reason.
I think your reasoning is very sound, and your critique was very much on the mark.

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I agree fully.

 The creationists want me to teach Genesis in science. It ain't science.
I wish you good luck. That's very touchy.

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 Quote by Andre I wish you good luck. That's very touchy.
Fortunately, the courts recognize the difference between science and religion. Unfortunately, many politicians and school boards do not.
 Reasoning about the natural world will not lead to sucessful arguments for or against the existence of God. For example, [as pattylou points out] the prime mover argument you started with will be turned against you and the origins of God will be questioned. When you reply that he is without cause, you will have used your own argument against yourself. Evolution vs creation is a dead end as well. God may have created everything through evolution or not. We don't know enough and probably can't know enough. Future technological advances won't clarify it either. Maybe God created the first life personally- but that doesn't mean that it couldn't have come about on it's own. The whole debate is pointless. You either choose to execise faith or you don't. That's the way it will always be. I was an Atheist myself until personal experiences showed me that this was untenable. I am not lucky enough to have come to this conclusion through faith. Would that I were. But my days as an Atheist taught me not to look for God under a quark or in a tensor or a fossil. He ain't in there. Edit: Pattylou is right about something else too- as long as people try to justify their faith via science, they are doomed to fail and have only emperilied their faith. Because science is always expanding it's realm of description. If you relegate God to the gaps in this description you are doing both him and yourself a HUGE disservice.

 Quote by pattylou Sorry if I let my button get pushed. The creationists want me to teach Genesis in science. It ain't science. He can't argue your position, if it's a position of faith. Any good atheist knows that.
Genesis isn't creationism. Genesis states: "God said let the earth bring forth...and the earth brought forth..." Creationists claim that God specifically made everything fully developed which isn't the same thing. I'm not sure where they get the idea but it isn't consistent with Genesis which indicated that God only initiated the process to produce life.
 I see this as a debate that pretty much won't really go anywhere as each person is gonna refute claims and try to prove otherwise but as alluded to, there isn't enough scientific methods to get down to the nuts and bolts and probably will never be. I believe that alot of the questions asked are kinda beyond human understanding as well. Scientifically, from your standpoint I guess I'd use biogenesis and abiogenesis in your claims and we all know the main arguing points to evolution as the fossil record if that's the road you want to take. If the angle is to prove the Bible correct or what not, I guess you can use historical proof, detailed prophesies that have come true and things in the Bible that have been found like Noah's ark on the Mountains or Ararat in Turkey. But again, this kinda would get off topic because you're going straight to the Biblical God and not just a God. and with prophesies one can always say that eventually they would have to be fulfilled or what not and there isn't a way to make a certain probability for them. I guess the best way is to gather all the scientific evidence available and then going from there but you know that if it becomes an evolution thing, that the common rebuttal on most scientific evidence supporting a God is gonna be that we just haven't found it yet, like the missing links or what not. Anyway, good luck on your quest and let us know how it goes.
 I do have to disagree with Pattylou that science is not a good way to support the existence of a God. From my personal experience, which still is probably not as expansive as most of the people here, I have come to the conclusion that science actually does better proving the existence of a God than proving no God. I also don't think its like a science vs. God issue but that science should be used in conjunction with the debate, not as an opponent. Like Pattylou said though, Faith is more of a deciding factor though. It really is a touchy subject though and are gonna be many different opinions on sciences role in the debate and most likely all can prove themselves right and all can prove the opponents view is wrong and both are right and wrong at the same time.
 That reminds me of a story I heard. A physicist and a priest seat side by side in a party. The physicist says: 'I have been educated in the scientific method. Can you prove me scientifically that God exists?' The priest answers: 'I have been educated in the theological method. Can you prove me theologically that the atom exists?'

 Quote by SGT That reminds me of a story I heard. A physicist and a priest seat side by side in a party.
The story is obvious fiction: neither physicists nor priests get invited to parties.