Bad God Proofs: the Islamic Version

I’ve been sent Yet Another Proof of God. This one goes to rather a lot of trouble
to appear to be mathematical. I thought that it would be fun to rip it apart. For a change, this one is from an Islamic moron, rather than the usual Christian moron.
Alas, it’s pretty much as stupid and shallowly wrong as the usual christian one.

Our genius prover starts off with a bunch of definitions. They’re a classical example of what I call “obfuscatory mathematics”; that is, mathematical notations and definitions that are created for the purposes of obstruction, not clarification. Obfuscatory math is one of the best signs that what follows is going to be bullshit.
Before I get to that, allow me to rant for a moment.

As you know, I love math. I wish I were better at it. I like to think that I’m
pretty good at interpreting other peoples work, and writing about it in a style that
makes it approachable. I’m pretty good at understanding it, and seeing the beauty in
it. But I’m not a mathematician: I’m a computer scientist, or a software engineer if
you prefer. I’m nowhere near good enough to be a real mathematician, producing new
mathematical results. My talents are in the applied realm, and no matter how I might
wish to be, I could never be a great mathematician. But I have a profound appreciation
for math: I think it’s beautiful and wonderful and fascinating. A big part of the
beauty of it is the way that you can take complex phenomena, and use mathematics as a
tool to wrap those phenomena up and make them comprehensible – to find a simple handle
on the complex. Notation is an example of that. The point of using mathematical
notation isn’t that it looks cool. The point of it is that it’s clear. Try to
say something like x=(-b +/- (b2-4ac)1/2)/2a without using notation, and you’ll get a good idea of just what it can save – and that’s a simple
example, made a bit obfuscated by the limitations of HTML rendering. Mathematical notation is a clear, compact, unambiguous way of writing complex things. That’s its point.

Obfuscatory math betrays this goal. The point of it isn’t to be a compact, clear,
and unambiguous notation. The point of it to look scary. It’s to obscure things behind notation, so that the fact that you’re spouting bullshit is disguised by the fact
that you’ve hidden beneath layers of symbols.

So, our moron starts with his definitions:

Definitions

E = Existence (Every thing that really exist)

U = Universe

X = a deity outside the Universe

C(a) = Creator of object a

G = God (an Intelligent Creator)

f(t) = function of time (State), at a specific time t

Y [Fn]→Z, means using Fact n, Y leads to Z

What is the point of defining the symbol “E” to mean existence, without
defining what existence means? “X” as “a deity outside of the Universe”, when
you haven’t defined what it means to be outside the universe? The point is to hide
the weakness of your argument under the obfuscation of symbols. What’s the point of
introducing this new notation “Y[Fn]→Z”, instead of the more standard “Y ∧ Fn ⇒Z”? Same thing. Nonstandard notation is more confusing to a reader. And obfuscatory math is all about confusion.

The definitions as shown above are, pretty clearly, gibberish. You can’t build
any kind of meaningful proof out of rubbish like that. But our buddy isn’t going to let that stop him. So he moves on to a stack of “facts”, by which he means what we’d generally call “premises” – the fundamental, unproven statements that are the basis of logic. Here are his facts:

F1- There is nothing beyond logic, illogical is impossible (Paradoxes do not exist).
F2- Facts never contradict
F3- A fact is true by itself and true with any other fact
F4- Nothing comes from nothing (Cause & effect)
F5- Natural laws are independent from each other.
F6- Σb=N ∩ N<∞ where b∈U Number of elements (or objects) in the universe is finite
F7- U(T) ≠ U(T+t) where t≈0 for all T, t Universe is not static, state of U at any time T, does not equal its state after a small time t.

Already, he’s run off of the rails of his own notation. Above, he defined “U” as the universe, an object; in his facts, he treats U as a function. Even if we accept his notational sloppiness (which we shouldn’t, since he’s abusing for the alleged purpose of rigor), he’s asserting that U, as a function, has an important property, which he hasn’t proven, but which is far from being an obviously clear, atomic axiom.

But let’s be methodical. F1 is false. Logic isn’t a single thing; and for any given logic, per Gödel, there are things beyond its reach. You can argue about the interpretation of Gödel, but whatever your interpretation, there are statements that cannot be proven true or false. (The classic interpretation is that there are true statements that cannot be proven true within the system; many people are uncomfortable with that version, because “truth” is a property of the logic. But in any case, you can formulate a statement for which you cannot construct a valid proof of its truth or its falsehood.) So with F1, he’s already lost his argument.

F2 and F3 I won’t quibble with.

F4 is another big problem. “Nothing comes from nothing” is not a mathematical statement. And worse, it contradicts the statement that he wants to prove. He wants to prove that God exists and created everything. But if nothing comes from nothing, then where did God come from? The usual answer
to this is some variation of “God isn’t part of the Universe”, or “God is outside of the parameters of the proof”. But if that’s the case, the proof can’t reason about God. So he’s going to be stuck: if God could come into existence without a creator,
then the universe could come into existence without a creator. Either way, you need an exception to this fact.

F5 is another totally bogus statement. What’s a “natural law”? What does it mean for natural laws to be “independent”? He’s not defining those mathematically, while alleging that he can use them in a mathematical proof. Sorry, not allowed.

F6 is, ostensibly, the statement that the universe is finite. Sorry, no.
If your proof is going to rely on the finiteness of the universe, you’re going
to need to prove it. And the statement itself is a classic of obfuscation. Near
as I can tell, it’s ill-formed. Given that he invents his own notations, maybe
he’s got something in mind by this, but I can’t make head nor tails out if it. It’s nonsensical.

F7 is, basically a statement that there is no recurrence of states of the universe after a short period of time. Again, it’s something that needs to be proven. There are, demonstrably, ways of showing state recurrences given a sufficiently long
period of time. But there’s no reason, a priori, to assume that you can’t have a short-period recurrence. This is not an acceptable premise.

So, we’re off to a roaringly bad start, and we haven’t gotten past the premises. Let’s get to his proof. He divides it into parts: part one is “Proving the creator”,
two is “defining the creator”.

For part one, he states the goal of his proof as “E=U+X (X≥φ)”, or “Existence = Universe + Possible X”. What does this mean? Nothing, near as I can tell. Once again, he’s using undefined notations that look good, and waving his hands to claim that it makes sense: “see, it must be math, it’s got greek symbols!”

Step one of this proof is “If we have two options, if one of them is impossible, the other is proved”. Well, that’s a pretty sloppy way of saying it. In math, we’d say something more like “For any statement S, S∨¬S” is true. Except that that doesn’t appear to be what he means. It’s something more like “(A∨B) ∧¬B ⇒A” – that if we know that the disjuction of two statements is true, and we know one of them is false, then the other must be true. The catch, of course, is if B is difference from ¬A, then we need to prove (A∨B) is true.

Naturally, he doesn’t do that. He just throws out one of his ill-formed statements: “If U(t)=0 [F1,F4] → X>0∩X=C(U)”. He translates this as “If at any point in time, U did not exist, then a deity existed and created U.” I’m really not at all sure where the hell this came from. It’s nonsensical gibberish and non-sequitur. Looking at the notation, my translation is still confused, but it’s something like “If the state of the universe at time t is 0, then given facts F1 (Nothing is beyond logic) and F4 (nothing comes from nothing), then God is greater than 0 and God created the universe.” You could replace 0 with “the empty set”, which makes a bit more sense… But it’s still nonsensical rubbish. F4 says nothing comes from nothing. So where’d X come from? In a logical proof, symbols don’t appear from nowhere.

Really, he’s working from two hidden premises: One is a totally new thing in this proof: “for all entities E, if there exists a time when E didn’t exist, then E must have a creator”. The other is a bit of a variation of one of his “facts”. That is, his facts state that God is outside of the Universe – but what he means is “God is the only thing outside of the Universe”. So if the Universe has a creator, and the only thing outside the Universe is God, then God must be the creator. If you add those in, then this statement sort of makes sense: if everything needs a creator, and there’s only one possible creator, then you’ve identified who the creator might be. Of course, once you flesh it out like that, it’s not nearly so impressive as a proof. The premises include the idea that God exists outside of the universe. Which is exactly what we’re allegedly proving. So it’s a good old variation on “If we assume that God exists, then God exists”; A ⇒ A.

But he’s not quite done yet. Because according to his proof, that’s only true if there was a time when the Universe didn’t exist. The alternative is his statement two: “If X=0 → E=U [F1,F5] → E=U(t) for every T ∩ U(t1) ∉ U(t2)”. He claims that this translates as “If a creator does not exist, the Universe is Eternal, and it is all existence at any time. It’s states are random.” I’m
not sure what that translation is supposed to mean, but whatever, it doesn’t seem
to fit the notation at all. The notation looks to say something like “If God is the empty set, then existence equals the Universe, and combined with F1 (nothing beyond logic) and F5 (natural laws are independent) that means that existence = U(t) at every time T (huh?) and the state of the universe at time T1 isn’t a subset of the state of the universe at time T2”. He claims that this also implies that “Invidual events based on natural laws are not random, but independent events are random if there is no god”. This, obviously, doesn’t follow from anything else that he said. et another that that he pulls out of nowhere.

Looking at that mess, some things are obvious. Once again, he’s switching between universe as object and universe as function, which makes the logic pretty much ridiculous; you can’t switch things like that. One thing that we know going back to the days of Cantor and his contemporaries is that you need to be very careful about distinguishing first order objects from second-order objects, or your logic collapses
into contradiction and paradox.

But even ignoring that, this is a wretched muddle. The statement about U(t1)∉U(t2) is also another crazy thing that he just pulls out of his ass for no reason whatsoever. It has no relation to anything that he’s said before, and in no way has any logical relation to anything. His statement makes
no sense, doesn’t say what he thinks it says (even giving him lots of latitude for the definition of his non-standard statement syntax); and his conclusions don’t follow logically at all.

But he doesn’t stop there. He claims further, from that t1/t2 rubbish that combined with F6 (the universe is finite) and F7 (states in the universe don’t repeat)
that the universe is cyclic. Why? Well, if you assume that the universe contains a finite set of objects, and that it is eternally unchanging in size, then
the state of the universe must eventually repeat. So we’ve got another
problematic unstated premise: the size of the universe is fixed. Without that,
you can’t conclude that the states are cyclic. But even his proof of cyclicity is
wrong! Because one of the fundamental assumptions of it (as you’ll se in a moment) is that events are necessarily random – and random events don’t follow, deterministically one from the other – because determinism is non-random. So if events are random, then a single state that repeats is not necessarily followed by the same subsequent state.

But what comes next is the silliest of all of this; overall one of the silliest piles of pseudo-mathematical rubbish that I’ve seen so far. He says
if the universe is cyclic, then it can’t be random, and since it’s random if there
is no God, then it can’t by cyclic, because cyclic is non-random. And since
no God means randomness, and cyclic means non-random, then the entire idea of
a universe without God is contradictory, and so you can therefore assume that the universe must have been created, and requires a God. He states this conclusion as “X=φ ∩ X=C(U)”, which at least enlightens me as to what “φ” means – to him, “X=φ” means X is random.

Euch. Part two, where he allegedly proves a bunch of properties of God, including
the ultimate correctness of Islam as contrasted against other religions, is even
worse
. I can’t take any more of it, so I’ll just stop here. You can go look
yourself if you want to see the rest of his train-wreck. Just goes to show you: the
morons aren’t limited to Christianity and Judaism: Islam has morons just like the
other religions. Now, anyone know of a nice Hindu mathematical proof of the existence
of supernatural beings I can dismantle?

0 thoughts on “Bad God Proofs: the Islamic Version

  1. Zeno

    You clearly tried to read the proof through the eyes of logic rather than the eyes of faith. It takes a lot of faith to believe an argument like that!
    In my family, the preferred proof for the existence of God is my father’s argument from gob-smacked wonder: “Just look around! How could you doubt God’s existence?” That’s it. The whole argument. Still, it’s better than the pseudomathematical mush you refuted in this post. You must have a lot of patience.

    Reply
  2. JuliaL

    I’m not sure that given the assumptions here that F4 is necessarily flawed in the particular way you mention.
    I would assume that in F4, God is believed not to come from anywhere ever, but to have been always in existence. I think the idea may be that as God, rather than Nothing, is the underlying and eternal default whatever-there-is, then Everything either is God, or comes from God, or both, and so does not come from Nothing.
    But Nothing also does not come out of Nothing. Any Nothing that might be lying around comes from God just as Everything comes from God.
    So we must assume the existence of God in order for the premise to be true.
    Anyway, that what I’m guessing he means.

    Reply
  3. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    F2 and F3 I won’t quibble with.

    Neither would I – if it were empirical facts. Alas, religions presumably discuss Truth, which in my experience turns out to be falsehoods. In any case, as long as “facts” aren’t clearly defined, it doesn’t mean anything.

    … if you assume that the universe contains a finite set of objects, and that it is eternally unchanging in size, then the state of the universe must eventually repeat.

    As the universe is observably expanding, that is no mean feat.
    Now, there are never the less proposals for cyclic cosmologies. But I believe their status are currently waning – there seems to be a recent result that a big bang universe such as ours can’t quite repeat itself, and the string versions of cyclic universes are AFAIK nearly excluded by observations, one of the few possible cosmologies to be so.
    Btw, Max Tegmark points out that even an expanding universe will have repeatable volumes if it is large enough, IIRC due to the finite character of entropy. But I doubt it is even in principle observable, and so interesting. There is a no cloning theorem for quantum systems, and if we can’t clone them fully how can we in a gedanken experiment hope to observe similarity?
    Oh yes, and Tegmark’s cyclicity would be true regardless of QM being inherently stochastic or not, it is only dependent on a finite number of states in an observable Hubble volume. So that is another aspect that the alleged proof fails in.

    Reply
  4. QrazyQat

    Let me explain:
    X=okay
    Y=sure about that?
    E=everybody knows that
    So X over E plus Y = I’m right!
    That was easy, wasn’t it.

    Reply
  5. Mgccl

    Oh yeah, this is exactly what the world has become…
    Evil dudes who only knows a little more than a normal person tries to use the fancy stuff(in this case, math) to do something and expect people to assume it’s right because all the fancy notation and extremely complex logical(illogical) statements blow up the normal people’s mind and people will think he knows what he is talking about…

    Reply
  6. Thony C.

    The classic interpretation is that there are true statements that cannot be proven true within the system; many people are uncomfortable with that version, because “truth” is a property of the logic.

    Tarski’s truth theorem states that for a given formal system it is impossible to define truth within that system. Smullyan proved that Tarski’s truth theorem and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem are logically equivalent.

    Reply
  7. Ahruman

    Torbjörn Larsson:

    Now, there are never the less proposals for cyclic cosmologies. But I believe their status are currently waning

    But they shall wax again! Then once again to wane, only so they may subsequently once more wax.
    Aha. Ahahahaha.

    Reply
  8. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Torbjön:
    You don’t even need consider the nature of entropy to get to the fact that you can have local recurrences – that is, different volumes of space that have identical states at different times. It’s an inevitable fact of statistics.
    Consider a finite volume of space – say, a cubic mile. Fill it with an average number of particles in that volume of interstellar, intragalactic space. Look at how many possible
    configurations of particles there are within that volume of space. Then look at how many regions of space that size there are with that particle density. Just given the observed part of the universe, you wind up finding that the number of regions of space of that sort are larger than the number of configurations – which means that there are duplicates.
    That doesn’t affect the bozo’s argument: his argument, even if it worked, requires universal recurrence. Local recurrences don’t make the grade.

    Reply
  9. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Thony:
    You’re basically saying another version of what I tried to say in the post about the interpretations of Gödel.
    You can say that “true = provable” in a logic; that’s one possible definition of truth. In that case, then the Gödel statement “This statement is not provable”
    is not “true”. Since it’s pretty clear that the statement is true in the intuitive sense of true – there is no proof of the statement – the logical definition of true is clearly incomplete.
    But if you just come out and say that Gödel proved
    that there are true statements that aren’t provable, then a lot of people get upset and complain. I’ve found that no matter what I say about Gödel, someone will complain. If I say that incompleteness creates paradoxical statements (which is one interpretation), then one group of people complains. If I say that incompleteness generates true statements that can’t be proven, then a different group of people complain. If I say that incompleteness shows that “truth” within a logical system is beyond the reach of that logical system, then a third group of people will complain. I can’t win 🙂

    Reply
  10. Flavin

    F1- There is nothing beyond logic, illogical is impossible (Paradoxes do not exist)

    This may be a restatement of incompleteness, but it’s more intuitive to me.
    He’s confusing ontology and epistemology, or in short, what is True for what we can know to be true. The universe we see is ordered and logical, but that doesn’t mean anything, philosophically. There is no justification that the ultimate nature of the universe is logical a priori.

    Reply
  11. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    If I say that incompleteness shows that “truth” within a logical system is beyond the reach of that logical system, then a third group of people will complain.

    I had no idea that the concept of truth was so iffy already at the philosophical level. Makes you wonder if it is such a useful concept outside formal theories, or if it even qualifies as “knowledge”.
    Make me glad that I have been satisfied with getting to observable facts and testable theories for a long time now.
    @ Ahruman:

    But they shall wax again! Then once again to wane,

    When did this turn into a Karate Kid movie? “Wax on, wax off, wax on, …”
    Will somebody pass me the pop corn?
    @ Mark:

    Look at how many possible configurations of particles there are within that volume of space.

    Possibly Tegmark uses a cutoff at particles. But if we are interested in an exact duplicate we should consider the underlying fundamental theory’s states, whether M/string theory or others.
    As I remember it entropy arguments are used to establish that there are at most one or two layers of more fundamental theories before we hit rock bottom. So I was simply trying to encompass the larger sense of “duplicate”.
    Not that it is essential for either the analyzed argument (as you point out) nor mine (as I’m not entirely convinced that “a duplicate” is physically meaningful).

    Reply
  12. Thony C.

    If I say that incompleteness shows that “truth” within a logical system is beyond the reach of that logical system, then a third group of people will complain. I can’t win 🙂

    When I first started learning and, more important, understanding meta-logic I found Gödel’s theorems quite literally mind warping, however the older I get, and although I have known for years that they are logically equivalent, I find more and more that Tarski’s truth theorem is the real show stopper. I find it quite simply unbelievable that when we construct a formal language we are “formally” unable to define the meaning of truth within that language, it is a fact that I find to be totally counterintuitive.

    Reply
  13. Alex Besogonov

    Correction: “Logic isn’t a single thing; and for any given logic, per Gödel, there are things beyond its reach” – this is not true for first-order logics. They are fully self-contained and every statement in these logics is provable.
    Yes, and Tarski’s theorem about inexpressibility of truth is a real mind-wrapper. Even more than Godel’s theorems.

    Reply
  14. Jonathan Vos Post

    I categorize this as Bad Theomathematics combined with Bad Theophysics.
    Shouldn’t this Bad Math wizard be trying to convert Tegmark to Islam? The Islamic world, and the Persian world with which is engaged in academic dialogue, was the center of Mathematics for centuries.
    Google the origins of “algebra” or “algorithm” as words.
    The Islamic world was the center of Physics, as well.
    For example: “ABU ALI HASAN IBN AL-HAITHAM (ALHAZEN) (965 – 1040 AD) Al-Haitham, known in the West as Alhazen, is considered as the father of modern optics. Ibn al-Haitham was born in 965 C.E. in Basrah (present Iraq), and received his education in Basrah and Baghdad. He traveled to Egypt and Spain. He spent most of his life in Spain, where conducted research in optics, mathematics, physics, medicine and development of scientific methods.”
    “Al-Haitham conducted experiments on the propagation of light and colors, optic illusions and reflections. He examined the refraction of light rays through transparent medium (air, water) and documented the laws of refraction. He also carried out the first experiments on the dispersion of light into colors. In detailing his experiment with spherical segments (glass vessels filled with water), he came very close to discovering the theory of magnifying lenses which was developed in Italy three centuries later. It took another three centuries before the law of sines was proposed by Snell and Descartes.”
    The discussion of math and science between the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian World dealt with the connection between math and physics and theology in ways that created the medieval world view. For example, very nuanced discussions are recounted on whether or not the universe is finite or infinite in time.
    Please do not allow the incoherent and dishonest lunacy of one moron to blemish the shining glory of Islamic math and science.
    How very far his society has fallen, perhaps from 3 waves of take-over by violent fundamentalist anti-science monsters.
    And, selfishly speaking, how sad that the United States of America has also slid into violent fundamentalist anti-science, as indicated by the Ayatollah in the White House. And by the many Republican candidates for President who deny Evolution (originally an Islamic theory), including Iowa caucus winner Huckabee and, most recently, the otherwise rather logical Ron Paul.

    Reply
  15. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Alex:
    I think your correction isn’t really a correction.
    Gödel shows that no logic is complete. First order predicate logic is exactly what Gödel was talking about. Propositional logic isn’t strong enough to fall into the Gödel trap – but that’s just another way of saying that it’s incomplete: there are true statements that are just not expressible via proof in simple propositional logic.
    Incompleteness says every logic is incomplete: either because it’s too weak to be complete, or because it’s strong enough to express non-provable statements.

    Reply
  16. Alex Besogonov

    Mark:
    Well, there are quite interesting complete theories. For example, theory of real numbers is complete (it can’t express integers 🙂 ). Every statement in that theory is provable, even quite complex ones (like Galois’ theorem about solvable quintic equations, AFAIR).
    In general, I agree with you. I just don’t like the word ‘incomplete’ because it’s so much linked with Godel’s incompleteness.

    Reply
  17. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    So, we’re off to a roaringly bad start, and we haven’t gotten past the premises. Let’s get to his proof. He divides it into parts: part one is “Proving the creator”, two is “defining the creator”.

    He plans to prove something before he defines it? I Am Not A Mathematician, but that doesn’t sound right to me.

    Reply
  18. Jon

    Maybe he thinks he can use U as both object and function due to facts 2 and 3? By assuming that there are no contradictions or paradoxes possible, he can claim to have assumed away problems logic degenerating into paradox/contradictions.
    Of course, that’s if he realizes the problems with his “logic” in the first place, which is far from certain.

    Reply
  19. Marcus Ranum

    I enjoyed reading this. What’s most striking to me about these kinds of things is that people actually think that bogo-math is going to impress someone.
    Usually when I encounter bogo-math I ask them to explain it to me in the form of a simple argument in English. Anyone capable of constructing a sophisticated argument or proof ought to be able to explain the gist of it in plain old words – perhaps not the details – but this is pretty clearly not a sophisticated argument; in fact it’s the same old claptrap in an ill-fitting suit someone bought at the goodwill…

    Reply
  20. L6

    Mark, I’m surprised you took as much time as you did on this “prove” of Islam. All of us at WWGHA appreciate it. 🙂

    Reply
  21. Kevin

    What a pathetic proof. I hope his good is burning his feet in a large fire.
    THe best proofs are the simplest.
    GOD is all-powerfull, right? And a God that exists is more powerfull than a god that does not exist…right?
    so… GOD exists!
    simple, easy

    Reply
  22. Kevin

    not to say that the Godel proof wasn’t on to something.
    but as you see it took many many typed words and some of them had more than one sylable. not smart.

    Reply
  23. daMage

    Hi!
    What about if the Universe object is callable?
    Then it would be object, but you could also call it similar to a function 😀

    Reply
  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    And a God that exists is more powerfull than a god that does not exist…right?

    Wasn’t it Dawkins that pointed this out as a failure of theological “logic”? A god that doesn’t exist, yet creates the universe, is obviously more powerful than an existing one. 😛

    What about if the Universe object is callable?

    But overloading the universe function, isn’t that like … theology?

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Hi Mark,
    Loved the post! One question though:
    You go through his axioms and dismiss most of them, saying “that is far from clear”, “This is not an acceptable premise” or “you need to prove that”. But can you tell us exactly what the requirements for axioms are?

    Reply
  26. Stephen Wells

    An axiom needs to be something sufficiently clear that we can all agree to use it as a basis to work from. It can be either an empirical fact (“the night sky is dark”) or a logical/mathematical definition.
    Have a look back to the posts Mark made on the guy who was complaining about the evils of set theory. That guy complained about the axiom “there exists an infinite set”. Mark pointed out that the actual axiom, as used in mathematics, is “there exists a set N, which contains the empty set 0, and which, if it contains a set S, also contains the set {0,S}.” Working through it, that constructs a set containing 0, {0}, {0,{0}},… which amounts to the infinite set of the integers from 0 upwards.

    Reply
  27. Ian

    “Now, anyone know of a nice Hindu mathematical proof of the existence of supernatural beings I can dismantle?”
    – Now you know that would be far too sublime to tackle!

    Reply
  28. Brian Donohue

    Didn’t read a word of your argument. Wanna know why? Because you introduce yourself by slinging insults at your opponent. To experienced observers of debate and even ordinary Joes like me, this means, son, that you’re either too weak or scared in your position to have a valid argument to refute your opponent with, so you resort to insults from the off. So I turn away and look for someone else who can make his case without slinging shit.
    When one of your colleagues writes a lousy algorithm, do you call him a moron? If that’s where the Big G is headed, then I’m going over to Wikia!

    Reply
  29. Drekab

    Of course, entropy is defined primarily with discrete mathematics and statistics, so you two aren’t that far apart. 🙂

    Reply
  30. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Brian:
    You’re confusing brutal honesty with ad-hominem.
    If my entire argument consisted of nothing but insults, then I’d agree with you that it’s unreasonable to post an article that does nothing but insult someone.
    But if you look, I actually do a pretty detailed analysis of his argument and what’s wrong with it. If you’re too fragile and fainthearted to deal with the fact that I call a spade a spade (or a moron a moron), then that’s your problem, not mine.
    As for “when one of my colleagues writes a lousy algorithm”… First, My colleagues are smart enough that while they may write something awful once in a while, they’re *not* stupid. I don’t call someone stupid lightly – it’s something that’s got to be earned by demonstrating profound ignorance or inability to think. There’s no one at Google that I’ve met who matches that description.
    But if one of my coworkers were to do something stupid, I’d tell them, to their face, that they did something stupid. Just like I expect them to do to me when *I* screw up. There’s no kindness in taking someone who screwed something up, and telling them that they didn’t. If you do something dumb, you deserve to be told, so that you can figure out *how* you managed to screw up so badly and fix it.
    I’ve certainly screwed up at times in the past, and I’ve never reacted badly to someone who pointed it out. I’m sure I’ll manage to screw up again in the future, and I certainly hope that my friends and colleagues will be honest with me, and tell me when I do, so that I can fix my mess.

    Reply
  31. Davis

    To experienced observers of debate and even ordinary Joes like me, this means, son, that you’re either too weak or scared in your position to have a valid argument to refute your opponent with, so you resort to insults from the off.

    “Experienced observers” do no such thing. Experienced observers know that insults have no bearing whatsoever in determining validity of an argument, and they focus instead on analyzing the actual arguments made. Clearly you failed to do so, as you didn’t even bother to read Mark’s numerous valid arguments.

    Reply
  32. eddie

    JVP in #17 ;-
    > Please do not allow the incoherent and dishonest lunacy
    > of one moron to blemish the shining glory of Islamic
    > math and science.
    Certainly Persian math and science was excellent and making great progress. Them islam came along and dogmatised it all to fuck. Same as what xians are doing to american science today.

    Reply
  33. Ali

    I can not believe it
    This Guy just said
    F1 is false. Logic isn’t a single thing
    He is right, there is only one other thing
    Insanity!

    Reply
  34. Thony C.

    eddie wrote:

    Certainly Persian math and science was excellent and making great progress. Them islam came along and dogmatised it all to fuck. Same as what xians are doing to american science today.

    This claim is historically total and utter crap! Name one significant pre-Islamic Persian scientist!

    Reply
  35. brady

    Loved it. I think the most telling statement in your evaluation of this proof is:
    {The usual answer to this is some variation of “God isn’t part of the Universe”, or “God is outside of the parameters of the proof”. But if that’s the case, the proof can’t reason about God.}
    One reason one should never use science of math to argue spiritual matters. I love to here people say things like “Science disproves god” or “God cant exist because of Science”. Two statements that are as meaningless as any “proof” that god exists.
    However there is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager which is worthy of consideration and the basis for my own willingness to believe.

    Reply
  36. Stephen Wells

    Brady, how do you know which God to pick for Pascal’s wager? Leaving aside the obvious question of whether “I’ll claim to believe, to cover my ass” counts as belief, there’s still the issue that you might Pascal your way to belief in, say, YHVH, then find that actually you should have picked Zeus. Pascal’s wager is worthy of about five minutes of consideration.

    Reply
  37. Thony C.

    Pascal’s wager is worthy of about five minutes of consideration.

    Really! And what am I supposed to consider for the remaining four minutes and fifty-five seconds?

    Reply
  38. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Brady:
    As Stephen pointed out, Pascal’s wager is pretty damned rotten as a basis for belief. It’s based on a ton of logical fallacies, and has some rather rotten moral implications as well.
    In terms of logic, it’s a classic false dichotomy. It claims that there are exactly two options: either there is one deity, and that deity is specifically the Christian god who will act in accordance with Christian beliefs about the afterlife; or there is no deity at all.
    What if there is a god, but it judges you based on your choices and actions?
    What if there is a god, and it’s a very vengeful deity, but it’s not the Christian god?
    What if there are multiple deities?
    What if there is a god, and it is a christian god, but only Jehovah’s witnesses are saved?
    If there is anything supernatural in the universe, there are more options for what that could be. There is no simple choice that can realistically hedge your bets – unless you’ve really already swallowed the kool-aid and accepted one of them. Pascal’s wager only works if you’ve already accepted that Christianity is correct, both about the nature of God, and the nature of judgement.
    On a moral basis, Pascal’s wager is worse. If religion has any purpose, or does any good in the world, it’s because it tries to show us how to be better people. If the entire decision to be religious is based solely on “I’m going to do what’s best for me”, then any moral benefit from religion has been thrown out the window before you’ve even started. It’s an amoral, selfish way of deciding how to live, and it’s the basis for the kind of petty, moronic, pig-ignorant christian belief so aptly demonstrated by the behavior of our current president.

    Reply
  39. Eisnel

    One more thing about Pascal’s wager: For the sake of argument, let’s say that there is a deity, and it’s the Christian one. Brady is convinced by Pascal’s wager, and decides that subscribing to the Christian god offers the lowest risk. If this Christian god knows everything, then he knows that Brady only accepted him as a safe bet (because it seemed safer to claim belief than to claim non-belief). But if this Christian god really wants people to wholeheartedly believe in his existence and divinity (as the Christians would have us believe), then don’t you think He would see through Brady’s ruse? Wouldn’t this god have a problem with people who only subscribe to him because they’re playing the odds?

    Reply
  40. Paul Butler

    If you scroll down on the original post, he says this:
    “Every one that become a Muslim by this proof, for all his good deeds, I’ll get the same
    It is MLM”
    Who knew god had a referral program?

    Reply
  41. Troublesome Frog

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve come to the conclusion that one should believe in the nastiest, most vengeful god out there. If he doesn’t exist, I’m on the bad side of a slightly friendlier god. If he does, I dodged a major bullet.
    I just can’t figure out which god fits the bill. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  42. Stephen Wells

    Apparently Chthulu might eat you first, if he likes you, rather than leaving you to witness the destruction of all life and sanity.

    Reply
  43. eddie

    This just from WIKI;
    —————
    Before Islam
    Little is known about science in Iran during ancient times. In the Sassanid period (226 to 652 AD), great attention was given to mathematics and astronomy. The Academy of Gondeshapur is a prominent example. The Sassanid School of Nisibis and pre-Islamic Sarouyeh Are other examples in this category.
    ————–
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_Iran makes a point of the famous teaching hospital at Gondeshapur. Contrast this with the islamic fatwa against teaching of anatomy.
    I was just reading how even the iranians are emphasising their pre-islamic culture because islam is seen as a saudi imperial thing.

    Reply
  44. Thony C.

    eddie:
    The Wikipedia article is based on a book written in 1932, Roy Porter (who up till his untimely death was the number one historian of medicine) writes in his The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: a medical history of humanity from antiquity to the present; London 1997:

    It is often held that a distinctive Arab-Islamic medicine dates from the time of the Prophet and stems from a hospital (bimaristan: Persian for house of the sick) and academy at Jundishapur, near Susa in southern Persia. Jundishapur was certainly a meeting-place for Arab, Greek, Syriac and Jewish intellectuals, but there is no evidence that any medical academy existed there. Only in the ninth century did Arab-Islamic medicine take shape.

    eddie wrote: I was just reading how even the iranians are emphasising their pre-islamic culture because islam is seen as a saudi imperial thing.
    And that is the problem, the stuff that you are quoting is not well founded history of science but national rhetoric written for political reasons. Unfortunately such nationalist mythology is all too common in the history of science. I repeat that there is no reliable evidence for a significant level of science or medicine in Persia in the pre-Islamic period. During the flowering of the Islamic scientific period from the 8th to the 14th centuries many of the leading scholars were indeed Persians but that there were great Persian medics in the period between the 2nd and the 7th centuries is, I’m afraid, a myth.

    Reply
  45. John

    Comment 47: “…there’s still the issue that you might Pascal your way to belief in, say, YHVH, then find that actually you should have picked Zeus.”
    The Roman name for Zeus was Jupiter (which may be an Indo-European cognate for Zeus). An alternate name of Jupiter was Jove. The correct Latin pronunciation of Jove is Yo-Way. Compare with Yahweh or YHVH.

    Reply
  46. Stephen Wells

    I think there’s supposed to be a cognate between Jupiter and Zeus Pater, but I don’t know how well-founded that is. The nominative is Iuppiter; other cases come from the genitive, Iovis, so the vocative is Iove.
    Trivia point: on meeting Germanic peoples, the Romans identified Zeus not with Wotan but with Thor, on account of the thunderbolt thing.

    Reply
  47. Niall

    It does not show any particular cleverness or originality on your part to simply tear holes someones work the way you do. Why not try something more creative and interesting, like constructing your own proof of whether god exists or not, and then highlighting its limitations?
    This might provide a deeper and more insightful experience for your readers instead of what is, basically, nothing more than smartass derision. I expected better.

    Reply
  48. Tyler DiPietro

    Oh well Niall, some people are annoyed by abuses of mathematics and pseudo-proofs of dubious concepts. If that’s not your cup of tea, then I would suggest reading blogs more to your liking.

    Reply
  49. L. Zoel

    While I agree that there’s no reason to assume F1, lots of people still do it. People like to think that the universe is logical, and if they did, it would seem at least as valid as any of his other claims to use this in a proof of God.
    Also, I don’t think you can really use Godel against F1 because Godel’s incompleteness really only applies to finite logical systems. An infinite series of meta-logics is immune to Godel’s specific proof at the very least.
    Of course, a non-finite logical system sort of contradicts the claim that the universe itself is finite, but that’s where the theist has the option of summoning God. In fact, I think it makes a better (or at least) proof for the existence of God.
    1)The universe is finite
    2)There is a consistent and complete logical system
    By Godel, 2) cannot be found in 1)
    Hence, there is an infinite, logical system which transcends the universe (ie. God)
    Granted, both of the premises are a bit sketchy and the “ie. God” part, but at least the conclusion more or less follows from the premises.

    Reply
  50. Rao

    Reference posting #39, one famous journalist in India was asked whether he would call a spade a spade. “Yes”, he said,”I would also call a rape a rape, and not coition without consent#

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Torbjörn Larsson, OM Cancel reply