Thanks for your reply, I certainly appreciate you putting the time and effort to write it. It's too bad I don't have time to write too much these days, but I'm sure others can step in and pick up the conversation as the topic is certainly quite interesting. I just want to make two quick comments for the time being:
First, you haven't used the word "logic" in your post, not even once. In fact you didn't even touch the subject at all. I feel logic must play a central, authoritative role in these kinds of discussions. Your failure to realize or acknowledge the limitations imposed on our knowledge by logic is at the heart of our disagreements as much as it is at the heart of my discontentment with some aspects of science. The standard reply to that complaint of mine is, "well, who says the universe is logical". To which I can only say, "that has nothing to do with it". And we are back to square one.
The second is, as you couldn't possibly expect otherwise, related to the first:
is it possible that I was born 2 seconds ago with memories intact and that really I am a brain in a vat being supplied with perceptual data? Yes, I can be mistaken. I see that brain in a vat possibility as unlikely, but is unlikely from the data that I have to make such a judgement. If the world was entirely unimaginably different and I was a brain in a vat that was 'turned on' 2 seconds ago, then that 'unlikeliness' could have been programmed as part of my wiring, so even having this feeling of unlikeliness means absolutely nothing.
My position, and there's no way in this world anyone can convince me I'm mistaken, is that the above makes no sense at all. That is, whether you are "here" experiencing all this stuff or "in a vat" being fed memories is an entirely meaningless question as there is no difference at all between the two scenarios. If there were any difference you could know about it! The fact that you cannot know, and you have said that yourself, means the two are in fact the same thing!
The major difference between us, as it has become apparent, is that you think you know absolutely nothing for sure while I maintain that if that were the case this conversation would be impossible. The fact that we are having this conversation is proof beyond any doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that we know many things for sure. Let's build our knowledge on that!
I'll have to be absent for some time now, but I'll keep reading (reading is a lot faster than typing)
See you around like a donut