God is an invisible Dragon in my garage

garage-mostly-done.jpg (153 KB)

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”

Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle—but no dragon.

“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”

Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

“Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.” And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you’ve really learned from my insistence that there’s a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You’d wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I’ve seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don’t outright reject the notion that there’s a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you’re prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it’s unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative—merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of “not proved.”

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons—to say nothing about invisible ones—you must now acknowledge that there’s something here, and that in a preliminary way it’s consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it’s not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you’re pretty sure don’t know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages—but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we’re disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I’d rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren’t myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they’re never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon’s fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such “evidence”—no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it—is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

By
“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”

Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle—but no dragon.

“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”

Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

“Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.” And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you’ve really learned from my insistence that there’s a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You’d wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I’ve seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don’t outright reject the notion that there’s a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you’re prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it’s unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative—merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of “not proved.”

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons—to say nothing about invisible ones—you must now acknowledge that there’s something here, and that in a preliminary way it’s consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it’s not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you’re pretty sure don’t know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages—but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we’re disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I’d rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren’t myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they’re never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon’s fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such “evidence”—no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it—is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

By Carl Sagan


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    saraAutymn D. C. (@alysdexia)8===========>------- your facesleepyjoe256HoChunk Recent comment authors
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    #makecasemdsgreatagain
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    TL;DR

    Cy85
    Member

    Too Long; Did Read. Much as I like Carl Sagan, I get tired of allegories and analogies discussing the problem of trying to make the ineffable “effable.” First of all, if there’s not thermodynamic exchange, I don’t want people saying “fire.” If there’s no fire, it ain’t fucking fire being breathed. Second of all, we’re not talking about an unobservable phenomenon that many people say they’ve experienced, we’re talking about a phenomenon that people attribute a nature, a will, a sentience too, that they must not only interact with, but give authoritative influence to. He’s saying, “treat it like any… Read more »

    Korinthian
    Member

    The fire is a metaphor for love.

    Also: stop taking shit out of context.

    Cy85
    Member

    I had an Ethics & Morals class where an Evangelical literally could not conceive that there was more than one definition for a given word (“bliss”) than what his pastor had explained it to him as. He was actually disrupting the lecture because he wanted everyone to understand his definition of the concept as right, and the philosophy we were discussing as wrongly using HIS word in a different context. I don’t like how narrow the focus of the thought experiment is, because I’m an advocate for inter-faith dialogue. This is just another atheist taking a high-brow, elitist stance that… Read more »

    Korinthian
    Member

    You seem to think this thought experiment is more compassing than it is. It’s merely an illustration of what an outlandish belief without evidence looks to a person outside the religion. I’m all for interfaith dialogue, but in the end all the faiths have the same bad argument in favor of their god’s existence. All theists basically have to start with the conclusion that that *other* kind of theist is deluded, or at best that they have mislabeled the entity they worship. “we just have to wait for evidence to prove to them away” This is just bad thinking. We… Read more »

    Cy85
    Member

    “You seem to think this thought experiment is more compassing than it is. It’s merely an illustration of what an outlandish belief without evidence looks to a person outside the religion.” –>I give you that, but right at the end he tacks on something beyond his experiential anecdote about what religious looks like to an outsider, prescribing behavior to be used around these individuals. That’s where I take issue. “This is just bad thinking. We have no need to wait for something like that; disbelief is the obvious response. You don’t believe (or take seriously) any fancy fantastical and magical… Read more »

    Korinthian
    Member

    “prescribing behavior to be used around these individuals. That’s where I take issue.” What? His mild suggestion to be skeptical? I don’t see a problem here at all. Perhaps Sagan is being a dick, but for the life of me I can’t see it. “Just saying “they’re crazy, forget them” is lazy thinking for anyone following the scientific method.” I don’t see where you’re getting this from. I’m sure there are several scientific endeavours concerning magical thinking, religious experiences, etc. Also, it’s hard to just forget a deluded majority that tries to align policy with their holy book. “I’m not… Read more »

    Cy85
    Member

    I think at this point we’re just reading the same text and drawing different readings (irony!). “I’m just trying to understand if you think there’s a difference between established religion and homemade (but earnestly believed) home-cooked religions, especially concerning the amount of evidence that support them.” –>Well, in the philosophical sense, no, the same psychological underpinnings are present across belief systems, and there’s always a difficulty in “proving” where the supernatural elements come into play. In the cultural/anthropological sense, there are differing reasons behind certain denominations flourishing versus others that dwindled (and very often they were seeking different things). Each… Read more »

    TrAyVon'S GhOSt, nuCca
    Member

    cy85…just a FYI…you’re arguing with a retarded person.

    no
    Guest
    no

    Pretty sure a picture of an organized room and analogies of dragons is a direct correlation to Feng shui.

    Puulaahi
    Member

    A dragon would burn that shit down.

    sara
    Guest
    sara

    not if the dragon did not breath fire like frost dragons they breath something like frostbite when they exhale.

    bstaples
    Member

    “Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so”
    Why doesn’t this apply to the magical creature that is supposed to link primordial fish to mammalian primate?

    Although he would’ve existed for millions of years, we have no real proof to show you of him. But fuck it, believe us anyway. We’re pretty sure we got the rest of it right.

    Korinthian
    Member

    Good call, change subject to evolution when the lack of evidence for biblical hogwash is in question. Your god forbid that you should look these things up before you comment (I’m actually starting to suspect that is a commandment). Why are there no signs of a global flood? Why are there no extra-biblical writings of the mass resurrection around the time of Jesus’ death? Why is it so obvious that the tower of Babel story is a fabrication? How come the most powerful being in the universe also is the most invisible? Why are Christians so starved for proof that… Read more »

    Autymn D. C. (@alysdexia)
    Guest

    There is no such creature; you made that up.

    HoChunk
    Member

    In summation:

    [imgcomment image[/img]

    sleepyjoe256
    Member
    sleepyjoe256

    Very nicely kempt garage.

    TrAyVon'S GhOSt, nuCca
    Member

    Best excuse for not being able to afford a car I’ve seen in ages.

    sara
    Guest
    sara

    okkkkk if people do not like dragons so much consider this ok? You are stuck in a weird place and no one is around but you find a map,Coincidence right? NOT! it was magic and only those who believe it are the ones who actually are affected by it.I believe that somewhere out there there is a few dragons hiding themselves away where no humans can find them and destroy them.There may also be other ‘mythical’ creatures who are hiding to evade man’s destructive nature.



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