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Discussion 2 to Meditation 832
Unknowable is not a statement of belief

by: Christian Bieck

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Thanks for your answer. It actually did provide some additional clarification as to the assumptions the UCTAA articles seem to be using.

I do agree that agnosticism is a valid end point in religious belief. In fact, I think it is the only reasonable endpoint - only not as defined here... ;-)

Why not? Simply because the term "the existence of x is unknowable" is not a statement of belief, but of logic. It means "there is no possible evidence that any thinking being at any time anywhere can accept as proof that x exists." Even if you substitute "any thinking being" with the unspoken assumption "humans", then the statement still does not make logical sense. Are you really saying that if a SB came to you, struck you with the blinding light of understanding and said "here I am, what more do you want?" that there was no way you would acknowledge (sic) its existence? You would say "sorry, you are unknowable, I must be hallucinating"? We want evidence, pure and simple, and are willing to accept evidence of existence, right? At least that is what we ask of believers: just show us some evidence. Even if we go with Hume that we need extraordinary evidence for the claim, we still have to accept the evidence when it come along, and not state a priori that evidence is impossible.

The logical conundrum comes about (IMO) because of the matter of non-existence of the SB, since you can never know for certain something does not exist. (Well, you can if its existence is logically impossible, but theists managed to rule that one effectively out.)

If the basic assumption is "x does not exist" or, in our (my) case "it is highly unlikely that a SB exists" then the next step is asking yourself "will I or anybody else ever know with certainty that it does not exist?" The answer to that is "no". In quasi-mathematical terms: "it is not possible to push the probability of an SB's existence to 0".

But that is not equivalent to the SB being unknowable. Unknowable also rules out pushing the probability to 100%. "Any and all supernatural beings" have uncountable ways imaginable of making themselves unambigously known to you and to me - that is not faith, but logic. We are only tempted to use the term "unknowable" because the probability is so close to zero, and we discount the possibility of moving it up to 1.

So again: give me unequivocal evidence of SB existence and I will accept it. By Article 1 you are saying "it is even in theory impossible that the unequivocal evidence for existence can be provided". Right? For theists, then, what would be the point in even entering discussion?

[NB: why do I then say I am an agnostic? Because existence is extremely unlikely and non-existence is unprovable.]

I still think you (i.e. the first article) are confusing "knowable" with "provable without any information extrinsic to what humans can gather on their own". (Which does make the article sound unwieldy ;-) )

[NB2: the God Hypothesis by Dawkins as quoted in italics in your post was not modified by me, that is the original from p.52 of the Black Swan edition. It is just one possible definition, of course - but also one that would make the SB knowable, because it could simply tell us and give us proof on its own.]