The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 12th, 2017, 2:24 am 

I should add that I understand that in the US the subject of religion is much more of a dangerous topic than where I grew up.

You'd be hard pressed to find a community in England where atheists were driven out of their homes and suffered abuse from theists. For me, and my background, it tends to be the reverse. The theists are the ones most openly ridiculed.

If I was in the US and found that openly stating I was an atheist would lead to me being actively isolated from the community I would likely have a more serious attitude toward religious practices and institutions (although I am very open about my opposition to religious institutions rather than actual "religiosity")

If we're merely debating the relevance of a natural proof of a supposed unnatural "object" then the question itself is at fault.

Science makes no claim of "truth" or any such thing. Logic frames certain degrees of truth set within necessarily limited parameters. One thing we are sure of is that science means to cut away the subjectivity and does a damn useful job of presenting information with which we can put to use.

Essentially we're talking about logic here. Logic has a limit that is why it works so well for us and can be applied to our experiences.

Neri -

Clearly, science has advanced human knowledge far more than phenomenological navel gazing.


Does that actually mean anything?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 12th, 2017, 4:25 am 

BadgerJelly » November 12th, 2017, 1:24 am wrote:I should add that I understand that in the US the subject of religion is much more of a dangerous topic than where I grew up.

Religiosity is not that high in the US. It is at about the middle of the world spectrum. AND that is taking your word "dangerous" as highly metaphorical. The freedom of religion (including from religion) is protected in the US. I would not say there is never any trouble at all, but such trouble is quite rare even in communities with a dominant religion.

BadgerJelly » November 12th, 2017, 1:24 am wrote:You'd be hard pressed to find a community in England where atheists were driven out of their homes and suffered abuse from theists. For me, and my background, it tends to be the reverse. The theists are the ones most openly ridiculed.

Ok, England. Yes that has a lower religiosity than the US, according to the Wikipedia map I am looking at (based on a 2008 poll). But the same you claim for England is also true of the US. You would be hard pressed to find a community in the US where atheists were driven out of their homes. An internet search didn't turn up anything I could see. There were claims that teens have been kicked out by their parents -- but I found no data on where this actually happened, no idea whether this was in the US or England. Seems to me you have even stronger Muslim presence in Britain (4 times as much per capita), and thus fertile ground for such events there too. The most you can say is that it is perhaps a little more likely that this will happen in a "Christian" family in the US -- and only a little because it is not like the people in Britain are somehow immune to Christian fanaticism. There are, for example, Christian fundamentalist schools teaching creationism in Britain.


BadgerJelly » November 12th, 2017, 1:24 am wrote:If I was in the US and found that openly stating I was an atheist would lead to me being actively isolated from the community I would likely have a more serious attitude toward religious practices and institutions (although I am very open about my opposition to religious institutions rather than actual "religiosity")

Whereas, I am be bit contrarian and have cared nothing about social isolation, so I would likely have had the opposite reaction. Of course, I have never in opposition to religion in general, though I was raised by non-believers with considerable criticism of the Christian establishment I was also taught to be respectful of the beliefs of others (with some limits, I suppose).
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 12th, 2017, 9:23 am 

Mitch -

I'll let you know what I think after I visit (although it will only be a fleeting visit.)

Pretty much everything I look at says the gap between religious attitudes in the UK and the US is quite big, and my exposure (at a distance) doesn't really do much to make me think the difference is slight.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 12th, 2017, 10:39 am 

BJ,

The “navel gazing” comment was meant to indicate that phenomenology generally concerns itself with sensory experience without regard to whether or not it corresponds to external reality.

Mitch,

You have had no experience in courts of law if you think that psychologists employ the scientific method. Because they offer pure opinions, litigants can go shopping to obtain an opinion favorable to their cause. It has been my experience that such witnesses are less reliable than the toss of a coin.

Further, psychologists employ a diagnostic manual that purports to establish whether or not a particular behavior is a mental disease by a process that can only be described as political. They take a vote at one of their meetings. This is hardly the scientific method.

A similar political approach is found with the climatologists who tell us that certain theories regarding climate are true because a certain percentage of their group believes they are true.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 12th, 2017, 10:46 am 

BJ and Mitch,

Although I think it is true to say that atheism is more fashionable in Europe than it is in the US, it is a matter of no import on the instant issue.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 12th, 2017, 11:37 am 

Neri -

The value of science does not depend on its utility or on whether I or anyone else approves of it.


Must be useless then, and of no concern to anyone.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 12th, 2017, 3:06 pm 

BJ,

The point I was making is a rather elementary one: Science reveals facts about the real world. Those facts exist whether or not anyone approves of them or finds it useful to know them.

For example, the fact that the universe is billions of years and not a few thousand years old is an inconvenient one to Christians who insist that the bible is literally true. Yet, the real age of the universe is a fact whether they approve or not. They may find it useless to believe such a thing, but nature does not care. Facts are stubborn things that do not await our approval to exist. That should be clear enough.

Indeed, there are those who see no value in knowing what is true and prefer to live in blissful ignorance. Others have a desire to know the truth for its own sake. In either case, the universe ignores them and goes its own way.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 12th, 2017, 8:29 pm 

Is it a fact that the universe is billions of years old or an interpretation of data?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 12th, 2017, 8:31 pm 

What's the difference?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 12th, 2017, 10:20 pm 

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 8:31 am wrote:What's the difference?


That depends on Neri. It seems he is pretty sure that some scientists are untrustworthy if they pick the data that supports their claims.

Climatology and psychology are "pseudo-sciences" according to him. I am just curious what it is about the theories of the origins of the universe that Neri finds more believable.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 13th, 2017, 4:27 am 

The age of the universe is founded on some pretty solid evidence. When you see something like this getting successively narrowed down to a more and more precise number over the years then you know the body of evidence is getting quite thick.

BUT if you ask physicists about other things like whether the universe is infinite or not then you have just as much opinion as you find anywhere else. And in all the sciences final conclusions are a matter of consensus. It is not the case that every physicist accepts relativity and quantum field theory any more than every biologist accepts evolution.

It is the case of EVERY science that some things are backed up by accumulated evidence and other things are no more than an educated guess -- i.e. an opinion with some reasoning to support it. We must not let Neri con you into accepting that we should believe what Hawkings says on everything just because he is a physicist rather than a psychologist.

Oh and politics (and money) screws with everything. Physicist are no more immune to that than anybody else.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 13th, 2017, 4:48 am 

What is the laws of physics is variable? Given we accept the age of universe based on assumed constants what if they are not constant?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 13th, 2017, 5:01 am 

BadgerJelly » November 13th, 2017, 3:48 am wrote:What if the laws of physics is variable? Given we accept the age of universe based on assumed constants what if they are not constant?


What if the universe was created this morning with all our memories and evidence set up as it is? We cannot prove this is not the case. But, this is a useless type of speculation. If there is no evidence then it basically means that as far as we know there is no actually impact to the living of our lives anyway, and the supposition just isn't useful or reasonable. Connecting things to the evidence connects it to the living of our lives -- it makes it real. All the evidence we have supports the idea that the laws of physics are constant rather than variable, and until there is evidence to the contrary then that kind of speculation isn't a reasonable use of our time. Unless... it is science fiction and for the purpose of entertainment.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 13th, 2017, 10:30 am 

Mitch -

I am suggesting the world began this morning. I am merely suggesting that if something like the speed of light is slightly variable then how variable would it have to be to alter the age of the universe, by say 1 billion years?

Hypothetically of course.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 13th, 2017, 10:38 am 

BJ,

It is a basic consideration in all things that we are said to have empirical knowledge of a fact if we either experience it directly or have inferred it reasonably from facts we have experienced. I will give a very simple example.

It was a bright, sunny day when I entered a theater. The theater was dark and windowless. Three hours later, when I exited the theater, I observed that the streets were wet, yet it was not raining. I noticed that people in the street were closing umbrellas. Water was running into the gutters. The bright sun was gone and it was now dark and cloudy. I walked several blocks and noticed that the conditions were the same wherever I went. When I entered a pub, I saw a man I knew who said, “terrible rain while you were in the theater.” “I gathered as much,” I said.

Now, you will notice that I never actually saw it rain. What I directly experienced were other facts and circumstances that led me to infer that it had in fact rained. This was a decidedly reasonable inference.

However, another man in the pub came forward and said, “I was in the theater as well, but I tell you it did not rain. The gods of deception wet the streets and darkened the skies. This man is a liar.” The people in the pub laughed and shouted, “He’s mad!”

A phenomenologist might say that the so-called madman had a valid point of view. As a realist, I would say that he was mad.

Similarly, although obviously no scientist actually observed the Big Bang, there is abundant empirical data from which it may reasonably be inferred that such a thing did in fact happen many billions of years ago. On the other hand, the evangelical fundamentalist would say that the scientists are wrong, because God has revealed in the bible that the universe is only a few thousand years old. I would say, in such circumstances, that the fundamentalist is unreasonable in his belief--even if under law he has the right to believe whatever he wishes, no matter how preposterous.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 13th, 2017, 12:36 pm 

Neri -

I guess you cannot answer my question then. Nice dodge :)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 13th, 2017, 12:59 pm 

BJ,

Mitch has answered your question. I tried to put the matter simply in an effort to have you more easily comprehend. Apparently, my effort was in vain.

I would say as a general matter that physicists are guided by reason, whereas psychologists and climatologists are typically guided by a social or political agenda.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 13th, 2017, 1:14 pm 

No, he has not replied and neither have you? I am just trying to offer some argumentation, it is not that I don't understand or need simplifications.

The latest sound bite from the religiously anti-science folk is that scientist now claim "the universe shouldn't exist". I am just offering a moderate approach and saying how inaccurate do the presuppositions they rely on have to be in order to shift the age of the universe. To reduce what I have said to a Biblical claim of a few thousand years old make me think my efforts are in vain.

I realise it is easier to reduce the question to absurdity rather than bridge the gap a little.

Even if the people you come up against are "stupid", "ignorant" or "mad", it doesn't mean they may not ask some interesting questions. Speaking for myself I figured out sometime ago that I am either stupid, insane or a genius and shortly after admitting this to myself I realized there is no difference between them.

One important question. When you say "ontological proof" do you really mean "physical proof"? I have a strong feeling you find it hard to distinguish between the two, or simply cannot make any distinction?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 13th, 2017, 1:25 pm 

My (amateur) understanding of our estimate of the age of the universe is that we calculated its current rate of expansion, the rate of increase in its rate of expansion, and extrapolated back, taking as many confounding factors as possible into account. I'm sure there's every chance we'll make later adjustments to our estimates, small or large. That the universe is "billions of years old" does not require any of this: we can tell that from carbon dating, sedimentary rocks, and various other things.

I don't consider psychology or climatology to be pseudoscientific, but they are in their infancy. Small-scale climate models can be developed with precision. So can simple claims. Thales figured out that agriculture depends on the seasons and the weather, and greatly improved it based on that simple, observational, irreligious thesis. That was climatology. We can now make mathematically accurate and important estimates about all sorts of things, and have greatly increased the world's food supply by doing so. Figuring out exactly when or whether we'll be totally bereft of ice caps, how close together we'll have to rebuild our cities, and what the temperature will be where, is still impossible. We can model it, but the margin of error is, well, tempestuous. As Nicolas Cage's character says in The Weatherman: it's just wind. It blows all over the place.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Sivad on November 13th, 2017, 5:01 pm 

Braininvat » November 6th, 2017, 9:24 am wrote:The short early version of the refutation of Anselm is:

This proves the perfect unicorn, too.


I don't think it does prove the perfect unicorn. This argument can only be applied to a perfect being. It's an ontological proof of a metaphysical principle that doesn't apply to just any platonic ideal. The principle is the greatest possible being must exist, not the most exemplary of a possible class of beings. One weakness of the argument is that it is rationally permissible to reject the principle, so it doesn't prove much to those who reject the metaphysics.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 13th, 2017, 5:36 pm 

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 12:25 pm wrote:My (amateur) understanding of our estimate of the age of the universe is that we calculated its current rate of expansion, the rate of increase in its rate of expansion, and extrapolated back, taking as many confounding factors as possible into account. I'm sure there's every chance we'll make later adjustments to our estimates, small or large. That the universe is "billions of years old" does not require any of this: we can tell that from carbon dating, sedimentary rocks, and various other things.

No! That is only ONE method used and the point is that we HAVE made adjustments quite a few times in the last two decades -- narrowing down to a more precise calculation. That means we have quite a body of evidence to support 13.7 billion year age of the universe now and can now be treated as fact rather than hypothesis.

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 12:25 pm wrote:I don't consider psychology or climatology to be pseudoscientific, but they are in their infancy. Small-scale climate models can be developed with precision. So can simple claims. Thales figured out that agriculture depends on the seasons and the weather, and greatly improved it based on that simple, observational, irreligious thesis. That was climatology. We can now make mathematically accurate and important estimates about all sorts of things, and have greatly increased the world's food supply by doing so. Figuring out exactly when or whether we'll be totally bereft of ice caps, how close together we'll have to rebuild our cities, and what the temperature will be where, is still impossible. We can model it, but the margin of error is, well, tempestuous. As Nicolas Cage's character says in The Weatherman: it's just wind. It blows all over the place.

I believe I have shown this stand by Neri to be unreasonable by tearing down all the justifications he has made, showing that the difference with the hard sciences like physics is merely a quantitative one. The difference is not a matter of pretense and deception here but of difficulties in the subject matter. Neither psychology nor climatology is pure rhetoric pretending to be science as is the case of creationism. There most certainly is a testing of hypotheses and a corresponding accumulation of evidence and that makes it science. How people choose to interpret the evidence for personal agendas is quite another matter and is found in ALL the science including physics with the various philosophy books published by physicists pushing their own philosophical opinions as if they were fact. We must not confuse the rhetoric of philosophers (people and hats worn by people, and that frankly includes both Neri and myself here in the philosophy section) with the actual science.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Sivad on November 13th, 2017, 5:43 pm 

mitchellmckain » November 13th, 2017, 2:36 pm wrote:That means we have quite a body of evidence to support 13.7 billion year age of the universe now and can now be treated as fact rather than hypothesis.



This isn't a leading question, I really just don't understand it, but how does relativity play into that 13.7 billion year determination? Is the age of the universe relative to reference frame? Is it the same from all perspectives or is it just 13.7 from our perspective?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 13th, 2017, 5:46 pm 

Sivad » November 13th, 2017, 4:01 pm wrote:
Braininvat » November 6th, 2017, 9:24 am wrote:The short early version of the refutation of Anselm is:

This proves the perfect unicorn, too.


I don't think it does prove the perfect unicorn. This argument can only be applied to a perfect being. It's an ontological proof of a metaphysical principle that doesn't apply to just any platonic ideal.


Oh but a unicorn IS a perfect being! The unicorn is perfect in purity and virtue, and that means it has ALL virtues including existence. After all, what good is a bunch of virtues if they are only imaginary -- not virtues at all. So in order to be perfectly virtuous, the unicorn MUST exist!

LOL
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 13th, 2017, 5:58 pm 

Sivad » November 13th, 2017, 4:43 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » November 13th, 2017, 2:36 pm wrote:That means we have quite a body of evidence to support 13.7 billion year age of the universe now and can now be treated as fact rather than hypothesis.


This isn't a leading question, I really just don't understand it, but how does relativity play into that 13.7 billion year determination? Is the age of the universe relative to reference frame? Is it the same from all perspectives or is it just 13.7 from our perspective?


That is just a matter of defining "age" correctly according to proper time. In the twin paradox, for example, we don't measure the age of one twin by the inertial frame of the other twin, but by the rest frame of that particular twin. Otherwise, how would they end up with different ages?

So to answer your second question, the answer is yes and no. The length of time experienced is not the same in all inertial frames and as you approach the speed of light or close to a black hole the temporal extent of the universe collapses and you watch its whole history pass by in an instant. But seeing that history in such a state doesn't change the history itself, or length of years in it, or the age of the stars.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 13th, 2017, 6:22 pm 

mitchellmckain » November 13th, 2017, 10:36 pm wrote:
Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 12:25 pm wrote:My (amateur) understanding of our estimate of the age of the universe is that we calculated its current rate of expansion, the rate of increase in its rate of expansion, and extrapolated back, taking as many confounding factors as possible into account. I'm sure there's every chance we'll make later adjustments to our estimates, small or large. That the universe is "billions of years old" does not require any of this: we can tell that from carbon dating, sedimentary rocks, and various other things.

No! That is only ONE method used and the point is that we HAVE made adjustments quite a few times in the last two decades -- narrowing down to a more precise calculation. That means we have quite a body of evidence to support 13.7 billion year age of the universe now and can now be treated as fact rather than hypothesis.

I'm sorry to say you may come to regret your supreme certainty. I don't know what makes you think the current adjustment was the final one. Actually, the 13.73 billion year figure contains a margin of uncertainty of 120 million years, and the Planck mission's data already suggest we are looking at something more like 13.82 billion years. I am not here to suggest that our knowledge of the age of the universe is unfounded or pseudoscientific. My aim was rather to explain to Badger what I know even from my scientifically ill-informed position - that we do have empirical methods for this kind of thing.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Sivad on November 13th, 2017, 6:39 pm 

mitchellmckain » November 13th, 2017, 2:58 pm wrote:
Sivad » November 13th, 2017, 4:43 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » November 13th, 2017, 2:36 pm wrote:That means we have quite a body of evidence to support 13.7 billion year age of the universe now and can now be treated as fact rather than hypothesis.


This isn't a leading question, I really just don't understand it, but how does relativity play into that 13.7 billion year determination? Is the age of the universe relative to reference frame? Is it the same from all perspectives or is it just 13.7 from our perspective?


That is just a matter of defining "age" correctly according to proper time. In the twin paradox, for example, we don't measure the age of one twin by the inertial frame of the other twin, but by the rest frame of that particular twin. Otherwise, how would they end up with different ages?

So to answer your second question, the answer is yes and no. The length of time experienced is not the same in all inertial frames and as you approach the speed of light or close to a black hole the temporal extent of the universe collapses and you watch its whole history pass by in an instant. But seeing that history in such a state doesn't change the history itself, or length of years in it, or the age of the stars.


Is it possible for a pocket of the universe to experience more(or less) time than the rest of the universe? Can some parts of the universe be older or younger than the rest?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 13th, 2017, 11:52 pm 

Sivad » November 13th, 2017, 5:39 pm wrote:Is it possible for a pocket of the universe to experience more(or less) time than the rest of the universe? Can some parts of the universe be older or younger than the rest?


Yes it is possible, but it is unlikely for this to be true to any great degree because of the massive energy involved. For something to travel at 86% of the speed of light (250,000 km/s), where you get a difference in time passage equal to a factor of 2 (or 1/2), takes an amount of energy equal to its mass energy (E=mc2). In other words to get a section of the universe moving at such a speed you would have to convert an equal amount of mass into pure energy and in the form of kinetic energy at that. It difficult to imagine any physical process which can accomplish such a thing. thus we see things moving around at much more sedate velocities -- such as the solar system moving at 230 km/s around the center of the galaxy or the milky way itself moving at 967 km/s away from the Virgo super cluster (but 301 km/s towards Andromeda).

Increase the factor to 3 (or 1/3), and you need twice that amount of energy. For a factor of 4 (1/4) you need three times that amount of energy... and so on.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 14th, 2017, 12:08 am 

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 5:22 pm wrote:I'm sorry to say you may come to regret your supreme certainty. I don't know what makes you think the current adjustment was the final one.

NEVER! I will never regret doing what is the most reasonable and sensible thing. BUT, I think you confuse reasonable expectation with something else -- another kind of expectation. I do not measure reality by the limits of my own experiences. I welcome the challenge of change and new information. That just makes life more interesting. But that doesn't mean that I am going to live in a dream world expecting such things when the evidence doesn't support it.

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 5:22 pm wrote:I don't know what makes you think the current adjustment was the final one.

Nothing! I expect more adjustments. But I can see the pattern. And as with the theory of evolution, I am betting on where the vast majority of the evidence is pointing -- according to which anything new which greatly differs from this is the one which is most probably wrong.

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 5:22 pm wrote: Actually, the 13.73 billion year figure contains a margin of uncertainty of 120 million years

Yep and an error less than 1% like this seems quite remarkable to me.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 14th, 2017, 2:52 am 

BTW I see that more data has been applied to this problem since I last looked as does not surprise me at all. The number looks closer to 13.8 billion now but at the same time the error has narrowed (only 21 million, <0.2%) and again more evidence is added to the accumulating pile.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 14th, 2017, 3:16 am 

I guess my question is more fitting for the Physics forum :(

If models fit the evidence and the implications lead to advances in technology and then greater depth of understanding, then we've got a good system in place. No denying that.

I am still somewhat confused about how "ontology" can be related to the subject of the age of universe if we're interested in means of understanding beyond a naïve material perspective. In ontology the item under inspection is not the material data, it is the principle of "material".
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