[This is mostly complete, but will probably get updated repeatedly. Significant updates will be have an separate update announcement made for them.]
Ideas aren't real.
By default, they can't be discerned as true or false.
My view of ideas ∞
I view ideas in two ways
False until demonstrated to be true.
Taken on faith based on the expertise of the speaker
- and the number of others of reasonable intelligence who believe
- and the importance of the truth of the item.
To understand the complexity of that second point, I came up with the Australia argument.
The Australia argument ∞
(People from Australia can feel free to substitute Bruges or some other place.)
I don't believe in Australia. I don't believe it is real.
- I've met some people who say they're from Australia.
I've met some people who say they've gone to Australia.
.. but I've never been to Australia.
Moreover, even if I've been to Australia, I still could not say it is real.
Someone else would have brought me there. I'm back to having to trust that person and all the so-called-Australians.
So what would I have to do to have verified evidence of Australia?
- I don't have the boat or plane to get to Australia.
- I probably don't have the skills to use a boat or plane.
- I don't have the navigation skills to get to Australia.
I don't have the cartography skills to map Australia and its relation to other places.
Since those things aren't likely to happen, and there are many other places, things and ideas which similarly cannot be examined, I'm left with faith.
Faith in Australia ∞
I have faith that Australia exists.
What I call faith here isn't anywhere near what religious people call faith.
Faith is belief in the absence of evidence. By the way, belief in the face of counter-evidence is insanity. Let's get that out of the way. Nobody gets to choose their own reality.
Argumentum ad populum ∞
I said I cannot (or will not) examine evidence for Australia or many other things and that I must have faith. This faith is instead on the bulk of people who have faith in Australia.
This ought to be a show-stopper, but it's not.
"Faith" in expertise ∞
Perhaps some day I'll find or make a word to replace this sort of "faith". It's belief without personally having examined evidence.
Instead, it's faith that there is evidence which has been examined by a body of experts who are in agreement.
There must be evidence. There is no such thing as expertise without it.
On expertise ∞
Having "faith" in expertise is only possible under a number of conditions
Numerous. One expert alone cannot be trusted.
Open. Processes, knowledge and evidence must be reasonably accessible to other experts.
- It's often a difficult prospect to open evidence to the examination of non-experts. Consider material costs, equipment, time, and much more.
General agreement among experts.
Supported by a significant number of people. By "people" I especially mean other bodies of experts.
Limitations of consequence ∞
It's easy to have faith in expertise when the consequences are negligible.
I have faith in Australia because it's reasonable to have faith in the expertise and the consequences of being wrong are negligible.
There are a great deal of things we have this expertise-faith in. The brakes on your car, your stove, your lights. Any piece of high technology.
However, the consequence of our having faith is actually quite limited.
Since many others also have expertise-faith in any number of high technologies, and bodies of experts in many fields are in agreement about all parts of those technologies it's reasonable to hold expertise-faith.
The chain of trust ∞
This has an obvious tie-in to The Chain of Trust concept.
Intellectual honesty would say that if there were a gap in any part of the chain then the idea cannot be verified to be true.
False by default ∞
If an idea fails the chain of trust, I consider them false.
Let's go over just some things which aren't real.
- Leprechauns aren't real.
- Unicorns aren't real.
- Aliens aren't real.
Gods aren't real.
God isn't real ∞
It's quite easy to make a positive assertion of the non-existence of any number of things. By default, stories are made up and people are full of shit.
How hard is it to say that leprechauns aren't real. Yes of course you can't "prove" they aren't real, but there's no need for proof. Since any evidence presented has been examined without validating the claim.. the default remains. They aren't real.
Replace leprechaun with unicorn, alien or god. Or God.
The chain of trust for gods ∞
Even before we examine actual evidence, there is a complete failure of the chain of trust.
- Personal revelation (private evidence)
- Closed expertise
- Questionable expertise
- Lack of expert consensus
Lack of evidence
The "chain" only has one link -- argumentum ad populum. It's not possible to consider the masses of believers to be experts who deserve expertise-faith
The consequence of having mere "regular faith" is not negligible.
Examining arguments and evidence ∞
Any argument for an individual god can be trivially dismissed if it's possible to replace the mention of that one god with any other god. It is especially hilarious to bring comparative religion to bear.
The same thing goes for any evidence. Even without examination, any evidence presented for personal god #1 which cannot be demonstrated to only apply to personal god #1 does not work. Such things might apply to a deist god.
No slight-of-hand can convert a deist god to a personal god.
While it's possible to discuss the existence of a deist god, it will never be possible to declare a deist god as real without evidence.
Using words for evidence is pretty ridiculous. Words are only ideas. Not. Real. The same thing goes for logic. Logic can only be used to examine actual evidence. Using it only on words doesn't give a workable answer. At best, logic can end with "yes, it's possible". Possibilities aren't real. The default is still false.
Citing books as evidence is ridiculous.
Citing any evidence for a god which could be explained in any other way invalidates it as evidence for the argument of a god.
Actual examples ∞
I'll start a running log of various arguments I examine.
There are so many nice videos on YouTube which examine claims and arguments. I doubt I could keep track of them all, and I doubt I could list all the claims and arguments religious people bring up.
The Christian Bible ∞
- Which Christian Bible?
Written by whom?
- Written by many.
- Only one author claims to have ever seen Jesus. That claim cannot be verified.
- All significant (and perhaps all) authors are anonymous.
- Authors cannot have a claim to expertise.
- After the fact. Far after the fact.
- Examining the time line of documents shows a interesting additions by later authors.
Are the stories internally consistent?
- Nope! The most basic and important stories like Jesus' crucification and resurrection don't even match up.
- Claims made in one part are demonstrated to be false in another part.
- God is unchanging, later changes. Never lies, later admits to lying. Sees all, doesn't see something. Claims to be all good, directs others to and personally massacres innocents.