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You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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thundril
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#41 Post by thundril » February 11th, 2014, 12:45 am

Latest post of the previous page:

standfast wrote:But can it be proved that God does exist?
If he existed, I'm sure he could prove it. Nuff said?

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Dave B
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#42 Post by Dave B » February 11th, 2014, 9:22 am

thundril wrote:
standfast wrote:But can it be proved that God does exist?
If he existed, I'm sure he could prove it. Nuff said?
Unless, of course, the deists are right . . .
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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animist
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#43 Post by animist » February 11th, 2014, 11:06 am

Dave B wrote:
thundril wrote:
standfast wrote:But can it be proved that God does exist?
If he existed, I'm sure he could prove it. Nuff said?
Unless, of course, the deists are right . . .
if God is a deist-type one then maybe he just forgot about us - sad

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Dave B
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#44 Post by Dave B » February 11th, 2014, 11:13 am

if God is a deist then maybe he just forgot about us - sad
But that opens another can of spaghetti! If he forgot us then how could we (as in humanity) know of him? Unless, of course, he told the ancients, "Right, that's me finished here, I'm going to piss off and do something elsewhere. I won't bother coming back so if you want to build a mythic story round me I don't give a damn, you're on your own from now on."

Or, of course, he could just be a construct by a bunch of blokes who wanted to cower the people and get power over them.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Cam
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#45 Post by Cam » February 14th, 2014, 1:01 pm

I think that belief is not a choice but something that we are compelled to do, so bearing that in mind, I am absolutely fascinated by what compels the theists into their belief. I have yet to hear a coherent (and convincing) answer to that one. I have asked the question a few times to believers and sometimes I get 'I have never really thought of that' - which is encouraging! But other times, just muddled answers based on scripture.

The probabilistic way of looking at it is, for me, is the right approach. If you cannot prove or disprove with certainty, then surely you have to use probabilities weighted by as much actual evidence as possible.

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Dave B
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#46 Post by Dave B » February 14th, 2014, 1:59 pm

Cam wrote:I think that belief is not a choice but something that we are compelled to do, [...]
I think you are going to have to be more specific as to what "belief" is there, Cam! Do I have a belief in the sense of the use of that word as attached to religion? No, I don't think that I do.

Hmm, I suppose I do believe that (accepting the vagaries of human nature) this world would be better if all people were Humanists but that is not the same as the kind of belief that religionistas have - more of a dream that I realise will not happen unless something very fundamental happens.
Cam wrote:The probabilistic way of looking at it is, for me, is the right approach. If you cannot prove or disprove with certainty, then surely you have to use probabilities weighted by as much actual evidence as possible.
A belief balanced by what appears to be reality is the rational course I think. That does seem to exclude religion if what I understand "reality" to mean if correct!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Cam
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#47 Post by Cam » February 17th, 2014, 3:03 pm

Dave B wrote:I think you are going to have to be more specific as to what "belief" is there, Cam! Do I have a belief in the sense of the use of that word as attached to religion? No, I don't think that I do.
Absolutely. I don't have beliefs in the same sense of the use of that word as attached to religion, but I have beliefs nonetheless which I am compelled into. I cannot arbitrarily choose what to genuinely believe. For example I believe that there is probably life elsewhere in the universe. I can't prove or disprove it, but I believe it is probably true. I guess the difference is that I don't have 'blind faith' that it is true and I am quite willing to modify by beliefs based on new evidence. But that is the core of what I'm getting at. If I am faced with compelling evidence, then my beliefs will automatically alter in the same way that they did when I started questioning my religious beliefs many years ago. Anyone who says that their beliefs are not altered in the face of compelling evidence (which they believe of course) is being totally dishonest and is setting up an internal conflict.
A belief balanced by what appears to be reality is the rational course I think. That does seem to exclude religion if what I understand "reality" to mean if correct!
Yes, I'd agree there.

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Dave B
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#48 Post by Dave B » February 17th, 2014, 3:50 pm

I guess the difference is that I don't have 'blind faith' that it is true and I am quite willing to modify by beliefs based on new evidence.
With you there, Cam!

Someone once asked me if I had faith in human nature, "Yes, I have faith in the fact that human nature is as variable and as fickle as the humans that have it." That did not seem to satisfy her, she was of the "All People Are Really Nice At Heart" brigade. Not a view I subscribe to . . .
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Cam
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#49 Post by Cam » February 18th, 2014, 9:02 am

No, me neither! We are just human. Flawed and have many limitations. One thing I have learned recently is to accept our limitations and try to be happy about them as part of who we are. Some are frustrating but being realistic about things is far more healthy than constantly beating yourself up about failures. That's not to say we should not try to improve things, but be realistic about the possible outcomes. We do fail, we are not nor ever will be perfect. We are Human! :D

Incidentally, going back to the original title of this thread, what about: A negative can't be proved.

Surely the need not to try to do so is implied.

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animist
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#50 Post by animist » February 18th, 2014, 1:55 pm

Cam wrote: Incidentally, going back to the original title of this thread, what about: A negative can't be proved.

Surely the need not to try to do so is implied.
implied by what? And many negatives can be proved - it is universal negatives which are tricky. Even when the Iraq Survey Team had disproved - by most standards - Tony Blair's claim that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had WMD, TB (a disease) just said something to the effect that the weapons had not been found and might never be found, implying that they were indeed there but difficult to find; for all I know, he still thinks that there were WMD

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Dave B
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#51 Post by Dave B » February 18th, 2014, 5:23 pm

animist wrote:
Cam wrote: Incidentally, going back to the original title of this thread, what about: A negative can't be proved.

Surely the need not to try to do so is implied.
implied by what? And many negatives can be proved - it is universal negatives which are tricky. Even when the Iraq Survey Team had disproved - by most standards - Tony Blair's claim that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had WMD, TB (a disease) just said something to the effect that the weapons had not been found and might never be found, implying that they were indeed there but difficult to find; for all I know, he still thinks that there were WMD
And I still think he is a total wanker.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Altfish
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#52 Post by Altfish » February 18th, 2014, 5:43 pm

Dave B wrote:
animist wrote:
Cam wrote: Incidentally, going back to the original title of this thread, what about: A negative can't be proved.

Surely the need not to try to do so is implied.
implied by what? And many negatives can be proved - it is universal negatives which are tricky. Even when the Iraq Survey Team had disproved - by most standards - Tony Blair's claim that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had WMD, TB (a disease) just said something to the effect that the weapons had not been found and might never be found, implying that they were indeed there but difficult to find; for all I know, he still thinks that there were WMD
And I still think he is a total wanker.
God told him that there were weapons of mass destruction.

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Dave B
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#53 Post by Dave B » February 18th, 2014, 5:47 pm

Dave B wrote:
animist wrote:
Cam wrote: for all I know, he still thinks that there were WMD
And I still think he is a total wanker.
God told him that there were weapons of mass destruction.
My point is made . . .
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Cam
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Re: You can't prove a negative, and you don't need to do so

#54 Post by Cam » February 18th, 2014, 7:17 pm

Cam wrote: Incidentally, going back to the original title of this thread, what about: A negative can't be proved.

Surely the need not to try to do so is implied.
animist wrote:implied by what? And many negatives can be proved - it is universal negatives which are tricky. Even when the Iraq Survey Team had disproved - by most standards - Tony Blair's claim that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had WMD, TB (a disease) just said something to the effect that the weapons had not been found and might never be found, implying that they were indeed there but difficult to find; for all I know, he still thinks that there were WMD
Sorry Animist, I should have been clearer there. I was just thinking that if the first part of the statement is true "you can't prove a negative" then you don't need the second part "and you don't need to do so" as you can't possibly do so as the first part says you can't, so I thought the need not to do so (or try) is implied by the statement "you CAN'T prove a negative". Well, I tried to be clearer but not sure I have succeeded! :hilarity:
Dave B wrote:And I still think he is a total wanker.
:pointlaugh: Very very well put!

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