Knowledge, Theism and Atheism

Before i start lets establish some terms:

Our worldview consists of beliefs (“The world is round”) and judgements (“Stealing is bad”).

Our beliefs are statements about the world:

  • The world is round
  • Gravity exists
  • I am a human being

The neutral worldview is the set of all your beliefs about the world (so except judgements).

A belief is a statement that has or has not been proven or verified. There is a gray area between belief and knowledge.

  • A guess or faith is a belief that is not supported by evidence
  • An assumption is a belief that is supported by vague evidence
  • A reasonable belief is supported by a minimal amount of evidence
  • Knowledge is a belief that either has been proven or has been inferred by logical rules from existing knowledge. This means knowledge meets some high credibility standard.

This means, the bigger the support for a belief, the closer it is to knowledge.

“X believes statement S” means that S is contained in the worldview of X.

There is a difference between these two worldviews:

A: {The earth is round}

B: {}

A believes that the earth is round. B does not believe that. But he doesn’t believe that the earth is flat either, he just doesn’t know.

C: {The earth is flat, The earth is round}

C has an inconsistent worldview since he believes in two contradicting statements.

Rational Thinking

A rational thinker should follow these rules to extend his worldview:

Rule 1:

  • In order to keep a consistent worldview, the statements should not contradict each other. This rule is based on the observation that the world is not inconsistent and on the observation that once the worldview is inconsistent you can conclude anything from it based on logical rules.

Rule 2:

  • Maximize the number of true statements about the world, minimize the number of false statements about the world.

Rule 3:

  • Every logical conclusion based on knowledge is knowledge.

Theism and Atheism

I define:

  • A theist is a person who believes in one or more gods.
  • An atheist is a person who is not a theist.

This means there are at least two kinds of atheists:

  • Weak Atheist: {}
  • Strong Atheist: {There is no god}

A weak atheist is an atheist because he does not assume that there is a god. A strong atheist is an atheist because he believes that there are no gods.

A weak atheist is not an agnostic:

  • A Gnostic is a person who believes {It can be proven that a god does or doesn’t exist}
  • An Agnostic is a person who is not a gnostic

Absolute certainty and relevance

There is no such thing as absolute certainty. And absolute certainty is not required. The only belief that might be absolutely certain is “I exists”. But that is just a tautology. You call the state you are in “existing”. Mathematical/formal proofs on the other hand come close to absolute certainty (but they are not: what if all humans reading the proof make the same mistake?). Similar with trivial statements like “Australia exists”. The difference is that some statements require a higher degree of certainty while others don’t. This is due to practical relevance of the statements. The bigger the impact of a statement to your current beliefs, the more evidence is required to accept it. Especially if the statement to adopt conflicts with some current beliefs.

Consider “Australia exists”. I have never been to Australia, so i don’t really know whether it exists. But there is good evidence that supports the statement:

  • Australia is just a continent, nothing supernatural or anything else that would revolutionize my worldview
  • Australia is present in google-maps
  • Other people report that they have been to Australia
  • There are videos of and from Australia and the news have reported about it
  • There is no doubt among humans that Australia exists (it is common knowledge)
  • Reports about Australia are generally consistent, or just as inconsistent as reports about other countries
  • etc.

Therefor it is reasonable to assume that Australia exists.

Consider “A teapot is orbiting the sun”. This statement is false with a high degree of certainty (even though there is no explicit evidence that supports the opposite statement). Since there is no evidence that supports the statement, it is easy to reject it. But we can go further and believe in the opposite of the statement. The evidence being:

  • We never found an artificial object in space even though we have seen a tiny amount of space, and a teapot is an artificial object
  • We have not observed the forging of teapots by natural processes
  • A teapot close to the sun would probably melt or burn

This is not very solid evidence, but it is enough to believe in “There is no teapot orbiting the sun”.

So actually the neutral worldview is more like a fuzzy set. It contains statements but each statement has an associated degree of certainty.

Approximations and Vague Statements

There are some problematic statements. E.g. “It is raining” or “The gravitational force between two objects is $F = G \frac{mM}{r^ 2}$ . The former is true depending on time and location. The latter is not completely true, but it is a good approximation to gravity. So the exact statement should be $F = G \frac{mM}{r^ 2}$is a good approximation to the gravitational force”.

Why I am an atheist

  1. I am a strong (95% certain) atheist regarding all gods that do not interfere with the world
  2. I am a strong (99% certain) atheist regarding all gods that cannot solve the theodizee-problem
  3. I am a strong (99% certain) atheist regarding all gods that are supernatural

Ad 1.

All gods that do not interfere with the world are irrelevant to my worldview since they do not interfere with my world. Therefor I do not need strong evidence to reject them. In this case i reject those gods because of Occams Razor and because the idea of gods is man-made.

Ad 2.

All gods that cannot solve the theodizee-problem cannot exist logically. There cannot be a god that is knowing, loving and powerful who allows evil things to happen on earth.

Ad 3.

Everything we experienced so far in the world was natural. There are claims that supernatural things happen, but those claims have never been proven in any way. Quite the contrary. To say it with Tim Minchins words:

Every mystery, ever solved, has turned out to be – not magic

It seems like everything happening and existing in this universe is entirely natural. Therefor i reject supernatural beings in general (Angels, Gods, Superheroes).

The Formal Part

TODO

A simple worldview is a tuple $V_s = (B,J)$ of beliefs $B$ and judgements $J$. Beliefs are formulas of the first-order logic. $B$ is a subset of all first-order predicate formulas.

Example:

$ V_s = ( \text{{The earth is round, Australia exists}}, \ \text{{Killing is bad}} \ ) $

A certainty based worldview is a tuple $V_c = (B, J, c)$ of beliefs $B$, judgements $J$ and the certainty function $c: B \mapsto [0,1]$. The certainty function assigns certainties to each belief.

$ V_c = ( \text{{The earth is round, Australia exists}}, \text{{Killing is bad}}, {\text{{The earth is round}} \mapsto 1, \text{{Australia exists}} \mapsto 1} ) $