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RemieV
14th March 2007, 02:52 PM
I haven't been in this section of the forum for very long, so I thought I'd take a risk and start a thread.

I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God. I am not a part of any religion or denomination.

I'm hoping for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true. Hopefully it will be more philosophy and less science, since I am more educated in one than the other, though I'm willing to follow any links provided.

Why can't there be a God with his fingers in the pie?

I don't have any deeply-held belief structures or anything. I have simply not heard any argument against a nameless theistic God.

The discussion might come down to, "Why WOULD you believe something like that?" but I hope it doesn't. I want to become more educated on other ideas.

And that's the only purpose of the thread.

Thanks, and I can't wait to read any responses anyone feels like sharing.

-- Remie

ohp
14th March 2007, 02:57 PM
surely you're asking people to prove a negative..

Lonewulf
14th March 2007, 02:58 PM
Arguing that there can't be a God is impossible. Of course there can be. But there's a difference than admitting to a possibility, and proclaiming faith.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 02:59 PM
Oh, I'm not asking for proof of anything. I'm just asking about philosophical conclusions.

Maybe I should rephrase, and make it, "Why does a theistic God not make sense to you as a basis for personal belief?"

Not to say that it should. I'm just trying to round out the philosophy aspect of my education.

Upchurch
14th March 2007, 02:59 PM
I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God. I am not a part of any religion or denomination.

I'm hoping for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true.
No can do.

I could probably give you reason after reason why various phenomena in the universe do not require a god, but I cannot honestly argue that there is no possibility of a god existing somewhere.

Upchurch
14th March 2007, 03:01 PM
"Why does a theistic God not make sense to you as a basis for personal belief?"
Occam's Razor, for short.

Beerina
14th March 2007, 03:02 PM
Not just proving a negative -- proving that something doesn't exist has infinite abilities and the desire to hide from proof.

It is unique in posessing both these properties.

Now if you are truly arguing a non-denominational god, then it would not have the one property of desiring to hide. But if it's not trying to hide, we are seeing very scant evidence of it.

And a "start the universe running then hands off" god is indistinguishible from no god at all, as far as we can tell. And I would argue that type of god is not particularly moral for creating the universe, knowing torture could happen, and certainly for not stopping the situation after seeing it actually happen.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 03:14 PM
Really, honestly, I'm asking because I'm not that smart. Rather, I find that there are a great number of people around this place who are much smarter than I am. So I'm just asking questions...

And I understand that a deist God is indistinguishable from no God, but isn't that also true for a theist God? Why would the amount of evidence in support of or in opposition a deist and theist God be different?

Miss Anthrope
14th March 2007, 03:25 PM
I haven't been in this section of the forum for very long, so I thought I'd take a risk and start a thread.

I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God. I am not a part of any religion or denomination.

I'm hoping for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true. Hopefully it will be more philosophy and less science, since I am more educated in one than the other, though I'm willing to follow any links provided.

Why can't there be a God with his fingers in the pie?

I don't have any deeply-held belief structures or anything. I have simply not heard any argument against a nameless theistic God.

The discussion might come down to, "Why WOULD you believe something like that?" but I hope it doesn't. I want to become more educated on other ideas.

And that's the only purpose of the thread.

Thanks, and I can't wait to read any responses anyone feels like sharing.

-- Remie

Hi Remie,

I see this as a very sincere post so I'll give it a shot.

The cold, plain truth is that the idea of ceasing to exist is terrifying. The idea, when you lose someone, that all that is left is their offspring and those who remember them is equally terrifying. This is enough to not just make people believe in a god or an afterlife...some people NEED this, desperately, because they cannot stand the other possibility.

The human ego is another issue. It seems that it is human nature to not want to believe that a person can simply come to an end.

I think, ultimately, it is narcissistic to imagine a god that would be bothered with my day to day life. Why am I so important? Why is anyone, really? I understand the desire to feel important that way, but I think, when you break it down, that it is childish. Or child-like, perhaps.

Let me tell you...I grew up a woo. I then turned to the church. So I've been on this journey of "looking for answers". Before I studied in earnest the subjects of philosophy, sociology, anthropology and evolutionary psychology...I simply took a look at basic human behavior and it was easy to conclude there is no god. People can be stupid, hurtful, cruel, murderous, wonderful, giving, caring, the whole gamut. I knew, from common sense, that these behaviors came from the environment they grew up in, brain chemistry, basic biology and personal choice. It was only confirmed by science. We're part of the animal kingdom, not apart from it.

As a site (http://www.losingmyreligion.org) that I like to read states, "26,000 children will die of starvation today. Why should god answer YOUR prayers?" A god with his hands in the pie does not make sense on a philosophical level when you look at the world today...or yesterday.

I understand why people want and need to believe. But I think it's like burying one's head in the sand. In my own journey, I believe overcoming the fear and facing life with crystal clarity is worth it.

roger
14th March 2007, 03:27 PM
Remie, to expand on the Occam's razor argument.

We atheists posit a world.
You theists posit a world, and a God powerful enough to construct that world.

Underneath the atheist position is another assumption, that the world can be created on it's own, without outside influence.

Underneath the theist position is the assumption that either

1) the world cannot be created on it's own, but that there exists a God complex enough to create that world, but that itself was created (or always) existed on it's own;

or 2) that the world could have come into existance on it's own, but as it happens it was done by God

or 3) the world was created on it's own, but oh yeah, there's this infinitely powerful being as well.

All three of those are more complicated than the atheists position. Occams razor says the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.

Now, that is not the death knell for the theist position. For admittedly the atheist's position is still an assumption, not a full explanation. There's a lot of hand waving involved. Occam's razor can only be applied with rigor only when there's actually evidence for your position.

For example:

I report seeing the following: a man and woman fighting, and the man storms out of the room.

We can posit that 1) they were having a fight, or 2) they were acting in a movie.

Occams razor says 1 is most likely, since a lot more fights occur than movie's being filmed. But if I supply one more piece of information: after the fight, a woman in a director's chair yelled "cut".

Now I can spin a story that 1) is still the correct explanation, but it is going to be pretty far fetched. As I add more pieces of data (there were movie cameras pointing at the couple, etc), 1) becomes less likely, and 2) becomes more likely.

So, if we apply Occam's razor with only the first piece of information (a couple fighting), we will on average be right in deciding they were having a fight, not filming a movie, but we also could be wrong. A preponderance of evidence could convince us they were just filming a movie (a script with the words they said would do wonders, as would an eventual DVD of the movie with the scene in it).

Right now we don't have that evidence re theism. So, we atheists could be wrong in our use of Occam's razor. But, it's the best we have. Why believe in something that we have no evidence for, an idea that we know that people people entertain because they find it comforting, when to the best of our knowledge the materialist position is sufficient to explain the universe?

The real arguments are more subtlely argued than this, but I think the above is reasonable for a throw away post on a bulletin board.

Phil
14th March 2007, 03:37 PM
The default position is "there is no god". Unless evidence is presented in support of another position, the discussion on a scientific level ends.

But we are emotional creatures, and we don't like the discussion to end there. The subject of our reliance on emotions may be a better place to start your discussion. Miss Anthrope has contributed to it nicely.

But the amount of evidence in support of or in opposition to a deist god, a theist god, or any god (pink unicorn, garage dragon, celestial tea kettle, etc.) is exactly the same.

The Atheist
14th March 2007, 03:47 PM
Can I suggest that asking scpetics is possibly not a great plan, to start with.

I advise, if you're thinking seriously about it, to go a sensible christian place first - e.g. Ship of Fools (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/) - where you will get honest opinions as to why those people believe in their gods and are able to provide you with personal anecdotal experience of those gods.

Once you've done that, come back here for the other side of the social construct which is religion, then you'll be in a position to decide which path you should follow.

That, and PM Darth Rotor and Myriad - they're the smartest christian posters here. Whatever you do, do it because it's right for you. Personally, I hope you realise that it's all a crock, but as long as you're happy with your findings, what does it matter what others think?

RemieV
14th March 2007, 03:55 PM
Okay, I'm aware that this argument works just as well for fairies, Bigfoot, and any other number of things. I just want to know whether or not I'm missing something.

Let's say I'm a monkey in the forest. For some reason, the idea of a human being comes to me. I think there are humans.

If I spend my entire life looking for humans, and never find one, does that mean they don't exist?

It seems like in order to believe something like that I'd have to be working off all the data. I'd have to travel the entire world.

And then, even if I did, it still wouldn't work because humans are sentient, and they're not holding still for me to find them.

I understand that in order to suppose that there is a God, it would be very likely that should he happen to have his finger in the pie, there would be evidence to that effect.

I think about Flatland often in terms of gods.

If a God was affecting things right in front of me, would I see it for what it was, or would I try to make it fit in my perspective of the way the world worked?

It's nearly impossible to see outside of your own perspective. And then, if you tried to explain it, it would just be an anecdote because anything involving a sentient creature wouldn't be repeatable unless you knew exactly how it operated.

I agree that much of religion is wishful thinking. I do not see a reason that a superior being would want to be involved in day-to-day human life. That doesn't mean there isn't one. I can imagine instances that would go well with either side.

By the way, I'd like to again point out that I am just thinking aloud, and asking for opinions of people who are smarter and have thought this through better than I have. I am not a theist, a deist, or an atheist. I simply haven't gotten the information required to say that I am anything.

Thanks, everyone, for your responses so far. They are interesting, and I'm thinking about them.

Miss Anthrope
14th March 2007, 04:00 PM
Let's say you are a an ancient human, and to explain an earthquake, with your limited knowledge, you decide there must be a god causing the rumbling. You look your entire life without finding one, but you see plenty of "signs from god" in natural disasters. While I have never seen a tectonic plate under the earth, I knew as I was thrown out of bed by the Northridge quake that it was the tectonic plate, not god, that made the earthquake.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 04:03 PM
Can I suggest that asking scpetics is possibly not a great plan, to start with.

I advise, if you're thinking seriously about it, to go a sensible christian place first - e.g. Ship of Fools (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/) - where you will get honest opinions as to why those people believe in their gods and are able to provide you with personal anecdotal experience of those gods.

Once you've done that, come back here for the other side of the social construct which is religion, then you'll be in a position to decide which path you should follow.

That, and PM Darth Rotor and Myriad - they're the smartest christian posters here. Whatever you do, do it because it's right for you. Personally, I hope you realise that it's all a crock, but as long as you're happy with your findings, what does it matter what others think?

I am asking here because I am looking for intelligent opinions on the subject, and felt like starting a pondering thread ;) . It is skeptical opinions that I wanted. I am checking to see if I'm missing anything, that's all. And if I was, it would be more likely that I'd be missing it from the skeptical side.

In my life, I've been a member of the following churches: Lutheran, Southern Baptist, Catholic, Disciples of Christ. My father is a Jehovah's Witness.

I am pretty well steeped in religion.

But it's not a religious perspective I was looking for.

When I was about thirteen, I asked the youth minister of the Southern Baptist church how there could be free will as well as God's plan. I thought that I was just missing something then, too.

He didn't have an answer. Rather, he tried and failed. What he said didn't make any sense.

Since then, I discovered answers that sort of jived elsewhere. That doesn't mean they're right. But the perspective is nice.

As for Christianity - I am not a Christian. I don't particularly want to be a Christian.

Piscivore
14th March 2007, 04:04 PM
If Piggy's still around ask him too. He had a brilliant set of posts on the subject that I cannot immediately locate.

CFLarsen
14th March 2007, 04:05 PM
Big Question. Sure is.

There is a possibility of there being a theistic God. Of course there is. Just as there is a possibility of there being a Tinkerbell. And if Tinkerbell comes in the shape of Julia Roberts, who am I to lament?

But I digress.

Is there a theistic God?

Well, there is absolutely no evidence that there is such a God. Or any kind of God. So, with all the might and weight of science, we can say that there is no such God.

Does it make sense if there is such a God?

Well....that depends on what you (or I, since I posed the question!) mean by "sense". Does it make you feel good, and that's that? Fine by me, as long as you don't try to impose your beliefs on others. Apparently, 1 in 5 men go to sleep with their teddy bears (http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=29&art_id=iol1173863973856M541), so who am I to point fingers (considering that I got cats to cuddle with, which are so much better)?

If, however, you don't feel that the natural laws explain the universe well enough, and you need some intervening God to explain what you don't understand, your ass is grass and I'm a lawn mower.

Because if you want a God merely because you can't fathom - or accept - that you are but a speck on a small planet in some distant parts of a run-of-the-mill galaxy, but instead insist on a God which, despite all the worlds in the Universe, you want to focus on you and your needs... I think you get m'drift.

Yeah, we will all die. So what? We are here for now, and that's just...great. Really: Isn't it? Don't you just love being alive? Just being alive?

But - would you like to stay alive forever? Be trapped either in an ever-decaying body (ewwl....), or be trapped in the same body, at whatever age you would prefer? Which age would that be, by the way? You want to be a toddler forever? You're going to fill up the planet with used diapers! You want to be a 7-year old girl? ....nah. You want to be a teenager? Forever? Filled with hormones and little else? For the sake of world peace, girl, don't! You want to be 29 forever? (OK, like so many of your sisters, you may try, but it...gets...old...). You want to be 85? You want to go from 85 to 15 to 55?

No, we can't stay alive forever, and we don't want to, anyway. Not only would this planet be kinda over-crowded in no time flat, it would also be intolerable. Not just to other people, but to yourself.

You live, you die. Why worry so much about what happens after you die, if you don't worry one bit about what happened before you were born?

Life. It's a great ride. But it's a ride nonetheless. And what happens after that? If there is a Heaven, you got it all made. If there isn't, and it's all...nothingness? Well...why do you care? You won't experience it anyway.

You could aspire to becoming fertilizer for daffodils, though. Or an oak tree, which will stand 10 times longer than you ever did.

Not a bad way to "exist".....is it?

Go out tonight, and look at the stars. They are indifferent to you, sure. But you have the privilege to enjoy them. So, do it.

Piscivore
14th March 2007, 04:08 PM
No, we can't stay alive forever, and we don't want to, anyway.
Speak for yourself. The sooner I can get my brain implanted into a nigh-immortal cyborg body shell the better.

Not only would this planet be kinda over-crowded in no time flat, it would also be intolerable. Not just to other people, but to yourself.
That's what the sterilisation virus is for.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 04:10 PM
Let's say you are a an ancient human, and to explain an earthquake, with your limited knowledge, you decide there must be a god causing the rumbling. You look your entire life without finding one, but you see plenty of "signs from god" in natural disasters. While I have never seen a tectonic plate under the earth, I knew as I was thrown out of bed by the Northridge quake that it was the tectonic plate, not god, that made the earthquake.

And I absolutely agree that when seeking answers for something that you haven't the knowledge to understand, the easiest place with the most simple answers is the supernatural.

However, many great thinkers have concluded that there is a god, and I would like to believe that it wasn't just because they were unaware of tectonic plates.

Many great thinkers have also concluded that there isn't. I'm interested in finding the path that leads to both conclusions.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 04:21 PM
Big Question. Sure is.

There is a possibility of there being a theistic God. Of course there is. Just as there is a possibility of there being a Tinkerbell. And if Tinkerbell comes in the shape of Julia Roberts, who am I to lament?

But I digress.

Is there a theistic God?

Well, there is absolutely no evidence that there is such a God. Or any kind of God. So, with all the might and weight of science, we can say that there is no such God.

Does it make sense if there is such a God?

Well....that depends on what you (or I, since I posed the question!) mean by "sense". Does it make you feel good, and that's that? Fine by me, as long as you don't try to impose your beliefs on others. Apparently, 1 in 5 men go to sleep with their teddy bears (http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=29&art_id=iol1173863973856M541), so who am I to point fingers (considering that I got cats to cuddle with, which are so much better)?

If, however, you don't feel that the natural laws explain the universe well enough, and you need some intervening God to explain what you don't understand, your ass is grass and I'm a lawn mower.

Because if you want a God merely because you can't fathom - or accept - that you are but a speck on a small planet in some distant parts of a run-of-the-mill galaxy, but instead insist on a God which, despite all the worlds in the Universe, you want to focus on you and your needs... I think you get m'drift.

Yeah, we will all die. So what? We are here for now, and that's just...great. Really: Isn't it? Don't you just love being alive? Just being alive?

But - would you like to stay alive forever? Be trapped either in an ever-decaying body (ewwl....), or be trapped in the same body, at whatever age you would prefer? Which age would that be, by the way? You want to be a toddler forever? You're going to fill up the planet with used diapers! You want to be a 7-year old girl? ....nah. You want to be a teenager? Forever? Filled with hormones and little else? For the sake of world peace, girl, don't! You want to be 29 forever? (OK, like so many of your sisters, you may try, but it...gets...old...). You want to be 85? You want to go from 85 to 15 to 55?

No, we can't stay alive forever, and we don't want to, anyway. Not only would this planet be kinda over-crowded in no time flat, it would also be intolerable. Not just to other people, but to yourself.

You live, you die. Why worry so much about what happens after you die, if you don't worry one bit about what happened before you were born?

Life. It's a great ride. But it's a ride nonetheless. And what happens after that? If there is a Heaven, you got it all made. If there isn't, and it's all...nothingness? Well...why do you care? You won't experience it anyway.

You could aspire to becoming fertilizer for daffodils, though. Or an oak tree, which will stand 10 times longer than you ever did.

Not a bad way to "exist".....is it?

Go out tonight, and look at the stars. They are indifferent to you, sure. But you have the privilege to enjoy them. So, do it.

Claus, darling, I was wondering when you'd come ;)

I have no problem with ceasing to exist, and if I was going to make up a God it wouldn't be for living forever. If I was inclined to make one up, it would be to create someone who cares about me even though my life is trivial and will probably never have a great accomplishment in it.

But I'm not making up Gods. I'm just wondering aloud what brings people to conclusions.

And yours, Claus, my dear, are mostly guided by absolute evidence, and even the evidence presented is well up for attack. Even if God and all his angels floated down to you on golden clouds and jammed the horn of Gabriel up your nostril you'd still say to yourself, "Aha, but he didn't show me his passport." ;)Okay, not that extreme. Let's just say you're one hell of a skeptic.

To me, it seems unlikely that every person on the planet only holds beliefs for which they have indisputable evidence. Even skeptics. Because the amount of time it would take to gather such evidence would be longer than a lifetime. Some things you take for granted.

Now, do I believe in the possibility because I simply want to? Sure, why not. I also find some philosophy compelling because it makes sense with what I know of the universe. Philosophy is different from fact, I'm well aware, and since it depends largely upon my perspective, it is largely inapplicable.

But what, in my world, does not depend upon my perspective? What, in yours, does not depend on yours?

CapelDodger
14th March 2007, 04:46 PM
Oh, I'm not asking for proof of anything. I'm just asking about philosophical conclusions.

Philosophy doesn't do conclusions. Philosophy is a process whereby a comfortable living is extracted from the productive branch of society.

Maybe I should rephrase, and make it, "Why does a theistic God not make sense to you as a basis for personal belief?"
"Personal" in what sense? Just joshin' with ya, I'm not really a Philosopher :) . I see no basis for a personal belief at all, let alone care about the style and colour, so I guess I'll just bug out now ...

Not to say that it should. I'm just trying to round out the philosophy aspect of my education.

... right after advising you to root out the philosophy aspect and use the space for something useful.

Solus
14th March 2007, 05:07 PM
And I absolutely agree that when seeking answers for something that you haven't the knowledge to understand, the easiest place with the most simple answers is the supernatural.

However, many great thinkers have concluded that there is a god, and I would like to believe that it wasn't just because they were unaware of tectonic plates.

Many great thinkers have also concluded that there isn't. I'm interested in finding the path that leads to both conclusions.

Upchurch and the posters above his have explained why I don't believe in any gods or invisible dargons in my garage (although I do have one).;)

Why do you care what "great thinkers" have concluded? Make your own conclusions. It shouldn't matter what the founding fathers of the US thought for example. Belief is up to you ultimately. As to my understanding, many philosophers and others concluded there had to be a some kind of deity because at the time they could think of no better explanation. It's the same today.

I chose not to believe in something has a .000000001 to the power of 1000000 chance (not sure what the real chance is) of being true. Some peoples' definition of "god" is so broad you could just call it nature but some prefer to call it god.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 05:13 PM
Upchurch and the posters above his have explained why I don't believe in any gods or invisible dargons in my garage (although I do have one).;)

Why do you care what "great thinkers" have concluded? Make your own conclusions. It shouldn't matter what the founding fathers of the US thought for example. Belief is up to you ultimately. As to my understanding, many philosophers and others concluded there had to be a some kind of deity because at the time they could think of no better explanation. It's the same today.

I chose not to believe in something has a .000000001 to the power of 1000000 chance (not sure what the real chance is) of being true. Some peoples' definition of "god" is so broad you could just call it nature but some prefer to call it god.

Well, I consider the thoughts of great thinkers because I accept the possibility that they're smarter than I am, have thought about it harder, and come to conclusions that save me the time of pondering my whole life to reach the same one...

Every philosopher stands on the shoulders of the one before, after all.

When it comes to actual belief of some kind, of course I'll handle that part on my own. But I do like hearing what other people have said, and I also like hearing the opinions of people on the forum ;)

Even recent philosophers have justified a belief in God. I mean, there are philosophers out there right now, and they have access to all sorts of information :)

Jon.
14th March 2007, 05:15 PM
I haven't been in this section of the forum for very long, so I thought I'd take a risk and start a thread.

I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God. I am not a part of any religion or denomination.

I'm hoping for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true. Hopefully it will be more philosophy and less science, since I am more educated in one than the other, though I'm willing to follow any links provided.

Why can't there be a God with his fingers in the pie?

I don't have any deeply-held belief structures or anything. I have simply not heard any argument against a nameless theistic God.

The discussion might come down to, "Why WOULD you believe something like that?" but I hope it doesn't. I want to become more educated on other ideas.

And that's the only purpose of the thread.

Thanks, and I can't wait to read any responses anyone feels like sharing.

-- Remie

I think before I could intelligently discuss why I don't believe in a "nameless theistic God" I would have to ask you some questions about this proposed deity. What are its characteristics? Where does it exist? How does it interfere on Earth? Is it eternal? Did it have a beginning; will it have an end?

Y'see, I often get challenged to explain why I don't believe in God. Several of the arguments I advance are answered with "Well, what if God were..." followed by a quick shifting of the goalposts. So I've made it a policy not to debate the existence of God with anyone who won't tell me what kind of God we're debating in advance.

I find that this policy can have the happy side effect of forcing theists to examine their own beliefs so closely that end up atheists. Actually, that has never happened, but I fantasize about it a lot.

CapelDodger
14th March 2007, 05:15 PM
However, many great thinkers have concluded that there is a god ...

I think they've mostly not concluded that there isn't. How many of these thinkers were first presented with the idea of a god in their adulthood? In all cases they were deciding not to shed a belief they were brought up with. Mostly they saw no reason to. Science, for instance, has no problem with religion. Believing scientists are unlikely to be Biblical literalists in the first place, and religion can't contaminate a test-tube.

Many great thinkers have also concluded that there isn't. I'm interested in finding the path that leads to both conclusions.
Concluding that there isn't is far more active.

If you had been brought up in a non-believing society, where the concept of a god was arcane history at best, would you be persuaded of one by any conceivable argument? It would surely require some event or observation that made the scientific view of reality untenable. That's any scientific view in principle, not just some current Standard Model that could be fixed or replaced. A very tall order.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
14th March 2007, 05:29 PM
Remie, could you define god for us? I'm betting your definition will be incoherent, which goes a long way toward making me skeptical of his existence. For example, is he omniscient? Is he supernatural?


Y'see, I often get challenged to explain why I don't believe in God. Several of the arguments I advance are answered with "Well, what if God were..." followed by a quick shifting of the goalposts. So I've made it a policy not to debate the existence of God with anyone who won't tell me what kind of God we're debating in advance.
Like that.

~~ Paul

Rasmus
14th March 2007, 05:34 PM
Even recent philosophers have justified a belief in God.

Name two.

Chances are, I will not agree that they managed to justify their believes.

Zygar
14th March 2007, 05:41 PM
Remie, to expand on the Occam's razor argument.

We atheists posit a world.
You theists posit a world, and a God powerful enough to construct that world.

Underneath the atheist position is another assumption, that the world can be created on it's own, without outside influence.

Underneath the theist position is the assumption that either

1) the world cannot be created on it's own, but that there exists a God complex enough to create that world, but that itself was created (or always) existed on it's own;

or 2) that the world could have come into existance on it's own, but as it happens it was done by God

or 3) the world was created on it's own, but oh yeah, there's this infinitely powerful being as well.

All three of those are more complicated than the atheists position. Occams razor says the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.

Firstly, Occam's Razor postulates. It does not dictate.

Secondly, I disagree with the manner in which atheists apply Occam's razor to god. In what way is it more complicated that a being created the universe, than that it just formed itself on it's own? There is no simple explanation for the formation of the universe. Infact, the entire scientific community will readily admit that we have utterly no clue what happened within the first Planck time of the universe since the Big Bang. Also, what happened prior to the Big Bang?

Basically, what I am saying is that you are going off of faith in the universe's ability to just sorta happen. Occam's razor does not give us a solution to "goddidit" vs. "itjustsortahappened".

I don't genuinely have a strong viewpoint on the existence of a god of any sort. The skeptic in me is just as skeptical of the atheists as of the world's religions.

Zygar
14th March 2007, 05:48 PM
Remie, could you define god for us? I'm betting your definition will be incoherent, which goes a long way toward making me skeptical of his existence. For example, is he omniscient? Is he supernatural?

She did:

I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God.

Basically, a theistic god is a god which does interact with the world. As opposed to a deistic god is one that does not interact with the world.

I think her question does not require any further definition of a god.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
14th March 2007, 05:49 PM
Secondly, I disagree with the manner in which atheists apply Occam's razor to god. In what way is it more complicated that a being created the universe, than that it just formed itself on it's own?
We use Occam when we have two competing theories that both accurately explain the facts at hand. As far as the original formation of the universe is concerned, the two theories have the same explanation: poof! This is not a particularly compelling situation in which to invoke Occam, since there is no explanation at all. If we're patient, physics might improve its explanation. I'm not convinced religion will.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
14th March 2007, 05:51 PM
I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God.

Basically, a theistic god is a god which does interact with the world. As opposed to a deistic god is one that does not interact with the world.

I think her question does not require any further definition of a god.
I completely disagree. My hamster fulfills that simplistic definition of god. You have left oodles of assumptions unstated.

~~ Paul

gnome
14th March 2007, 06:15 PM
I have a take that seems different from what has been posted already...

The question was asked, "Why does a theistic God not make sense to you as a basis for personal belief?"...

I can break it down in a few ways...

If you're talking about a Creator god, that made the universe and about which we know nothing... that is not any more interesting or useful to me than the idea of not having a god... it's just throwing in a concept that I will never experience except to explain the existence of reality. If it has no other effect on the universe, it isn't necessary to think about it any further.

If it does have an effect on the universe... is it, for example, omnipotent? Here's where I have an issue that is more interesting... I don't exactly see the point of holding faith in an omnipotent god... or at least in supposing such a god would want something from me... or if the concept of an omnipoent being "wanting" something is meaningful at all. Being omnipotent, I don't see how its will does not become reality immediately. What need would it have of my faith in it? Or, indeed, for anything else to exist at all? Whatever satisfaction it might get from making something, can it not generate that satisfaction directly in its own mind?

If the god is less than omnipotent, it is a finite being and like any other finite being I will not hold an opinion until I have experience of it.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
14th March 2007, 06:20 PM
If it does have an effect on the universe... is it, for example, omnipotent? Here's where I have an issue that is more interesting... I don't exactly see the point of holding faith in an omnipotent god... or at least in supposing such a god would want something from me... or if the concept of an omnipoent being "wanting" something is meaningful at all. Being omnipotent, I don't see how its will does not become reality immediately. What need would it have of my faith in it?
As Mercutio has so cleverly pointed out in another thread, where do we get this omnipotent thing from anyway? Just because this purported god made the universe does not mean he is omnipotent. How could we possibly tell if he was?

If he is truly omnipotent, can he destroy himself?

~~ Paul

RationalReverend
14th March 2007, 06:34 PM
Occam's Razor, for short.

Occam was a Christian Monk...

CapelDodger
14th March 2007, 06:37 PM
Every philosopher stands on the shoulders of the one before, after all.

No, they stand in a line, "taught" by the one before, and "teaching" the next one. Science builds on accumulated knowledge, Philosophy can stick to discussing what "knowledge" is. There can be no accumulation in the time-less, formless environment that Philosophy inhabits.

CapelDodger
14th March 2007, 06:38 PM
Occam was a Christian Monk...
Hey, a man's gotta make a living ...

Hokulele
14th March 2007, 06:46 PM
Occam was a Christian Monk...

Although he did do his share of cage-rattling. Enough so to bring about the displeasure of the Pope.

CapelDodger
14th March 2007, 06:55 PM
If he is truly omnipotent, can he destroy himself?l

This conjures up an image of a Shane moment, "My job here is done ..." and riding off into the sunset and extinction. For all we know it's already done it, whatever the job was.

This omnipotency would have to be a one-shot thing, the god would not only have to destroy itself but also leave no chance of another omnipotent entity arising.

Zygar
14th March 2007, 07:56 PM
We use Occam when we have two competing theories that both accurately explain the facts at hand. As far as the original formation of the universe is concerned, the two theories have the same explanation: poof! This is not a particularly compelling situation in which to invoke Occam, since there is no explanation at all. If we're patient, physics might improve its explanation. I'm not convinced religion will.

~~ Paul

So you agree with me that Occam's razor should not have been invoked in the post to which I was responding. Thank you.

Zygar
14th March 2007, 08:07 PM
I completely disagree. My hamster fulfills that simplistic definition of god. You have left oodles of assumptions unstated.

~~ Paul

I suppose that I shouldn't rule out the possibility that god took the form of a hamster so he could run on a wheel for a while in a cage in your home. Everyone needs a vacation once in a while. ;)

But seriously, look up Theism and you will see that it is simply a version of god that sits somewhere between the Judeo-Christian God and the Deist god that just kicked off the universe and went on vacation. I was somehow assuming that the definition of Theist God was pretty obvious.

strathmeyer
14th March 2007, 08:10 PM
I'm hoping for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true. Hopefully it will be more philosophy and less science, since I am more educated in one than the other, though I'm willing to follow any links provided.

Uh.... what does philosophy have to do with what is possible and what isn't? Am I missing something?

The Atheist
14th March 2007, 09:36 PM
As for Christianity - I am not a Christian. I don't particularly want to be a Christian.

Ok, I wasn't aware you'd been through that mill - you need Ryokan and have a look at Buddhism.

Kopji
14th March 2007, 10:25 PM
I haven't been in this section of the forum for very long, so I thought I'd take a risk and start a thread.

I believe in the possibility that there is a theistic God. I am not a part of any religion or denomination.

I'm hoping for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true. Hopefully it will be more philosophy and less science, since I am more educated in one than the other, though I'm willing to follow any links provided.

Why can't there be a God with his fingers in the pie?

I don't have any deeply-held belief structures or anything. I have simply not heard any argument against a nameless theistic God.

The discussion might come down to, "Why WOULD you believe something like that?" but I hope it doesn't. I want to become more educated on other ideas.

And that's the only purpose of the thread.

Thanks, and I can't wait to read any responses anyone feels like sharing.

-- Remie

Hi Remie,
First, a lot of people would say I'm wrong, but this might give you a new direction to consider.

If the universe were like a book, then God must be something like an author. We, being part of God's 'story' could only understand what it was to exist within the book. We could only imagine what the author was like by examining the story we were part of. The metaphor of the various blind people examining an elephant and then coming up with quite different descriptions seemed very apt for how I thought God really must be. Sort of a truth that we could only understand partly. The true nature of God was a mystery, and I was satisfied with this.

If we could only remove ourselves from our story, take a place outside our universe-book we might see God editing his book and changing the story from time to time. But for us to visualize that, we would need to be an observer of God, who was in turn, an observer of his book. And so I accepted that if there was a God, God was beyond our understanding and forever a mystery.

Early computer scientists ran into a very similar problem with their 'computer universe' being like a finite book. How would they stop computers from doing something like forever calculating the square root of 2, or the value of pi? Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing's philosophies describe the foundation of how to solve these problems, when you are a 'universe creator'.

It turns out that the 'computer universe' doing the calculations would need to be monitored and controlled a larger computer universe that it ran inside of.

Now, they never called their solutions a mystery, but what they needed to do in the creation of a computing universe was create a 'mystery'. Of course they never called it that, but it is precisely the same thing, and for the same reasons.

It was not that I ever thought I understood God, but there was a growing realization that the 'idea of God' would be required even if there is no God at all. If I understood why the mystery was needed, God seemed much less mysterious.

I have probably oversimplified this, but if you want to look further into the philosophy of why there is an idea of God, I would begin with Gödel and Turing. To understand why in the creation of a new universe of computing they found it necessary to create something that was 'godlike'.

Here is a nice computer-mathematical-philosophical statement to think on:

"If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within itself, then it is... inconsistent."

RemieV
14th March 2007, 11:24 PM
I think before I could intelligently discuss why I don't believe in a "nameless theistic God" I would have to ask you some questions about this proposed deity. What are its characteristics? Where does it exist? How does it interfere on Earth? Is it eternal? Did it have a beginning; will it have an end?

Y'see, I often get challenged to explain why I don't believe in God. Several of the arguments I advance are answered with "Well, what if God were..." followed by a quick shifting of the goalposts. So I've made it a policy not to debate the existence of God with anyone who won't tell me what kind of God we're debating in advance.

I find that this policy can have the happy side effect of forcing theists to examine their own beliefs so closely that end up atheists. Actually, that has never happened, but I fantasize about it a lot.

But I am not a theist. And something tells me even if I was, I wouldn't be privy to what god does and does not do, or is and is not.

RemieV
14th March 2007, 11:31 PM
No, they stand in a line, "taught" by the one before, and "teaching" the next one. Science builds on accumulated knowledge, Philosophy can stick to discussing what "knowledge" is. There can be no accumulation in the time-less, formless environment that Philosophy inhabits.

I understand your point. What I don't understand is why you are directing the information at me. If I said the words that you've put in quotes, I probably didn't do it with the intention of really saying philosophers know anything. My point was only that I was asking a philosophical question, not a scientific question.

I understand the difference between the two.

What I said was that philosophers stand on one another's shoulders - this is true. Many take the time to look back on the last great philosopher and deconstruct their argument, or add to it, depending.

Sorry, it's taking me a while to reply to all the posts that came up in my absence... I'm just going to run straight down the line...

RemieV
14th March 2007, 11:39 PM
I have a take that seems different from what has been posted already...

The question was asked, "Why does a theistic God not make sense to you as a basis for personal belief?"...

I can break it down in a few ways...

If you're talking about a Creator god, that made the universe and about which we know nothing... that is not any more interesting or useful to me than the idea of not having a god... it's just throwing in a concept that I will never experience except to explain the existence of reality. If it has no other effect on the universe, it isn't necessary to think about it any further.

If it does have an effect on the universe... is it, for example, omnipotent? Here's where I have an issue that is more interesting... I don't exactly see the point of holding faith in an omnipotent god... or at least in supposing such a god would want something from me... or if the concept of an omnipoent being "wanting" something is meaningful at all. Being omnipotent, I don't see how its will does not become reality immediately. What need would it have of my faith in it? Or, indeed, for anything else to exist at all? Whatever satisfaction it might get from making something, can it not generate that satisfaction directly in its own mind?

If the god is less than omnipotent, it is a finite being and like any other finite being I will not hold an opinion until I have experience of it.

I am definitely not suggesting that anyone should have a belief in a theistic God. I think I said this, but I don't remember anymore... it struck me as odd that deists are usually treated as though they have a better (though not necessarily accurate) idea of what the world is really like, and that theists for the most part are treated like idiots. Maybe it's because most theists have subscribed to a major religion.

This is the religion and philosophy section of the forum, so I was asking a philosophical question about an unnamed theistic god. I'm not saying I believe in such a thing, or that I know what it's composed of or how it influences the world, or even that it's possible it exists. I'm pondering ;) Really.

CFLarsen
15th March 2007, 03:29 AM
Claus, darling, I was wondering when you'd come ;)

I'd better be quiet here...

I have no problem with ceasing to exist, and if I was going to make up a God it wouldn't be for living forever. If I was inclined to make one up, it would be to create someone who cares about me even though my life is trivial and will probably never have a great accomplishment in it.

But I'm not making up Gods. I'm just wondering aloud what brings people to conclusions.

And yours, Claus, my dear, are mostly guided by absolute evidence, and even the evidence presented is well up for attack. Even if God and all his angels floated down to you on golden clouds and jammed the horn of Gabriel up your nostril you'd still say to yourself, "Aha, but he didn't show me his passport." ;)Okay, not that extreme. Let's just say you're one hell of a skeptic.

Thank you! :)

You are right, though, that I would require a lot more evidence that what I see others accept. I am perpetually astounded by the poor evidence that will convince people. It seems that any charlatan can waltz by, make the most ludicrous claim, and some will believe him. The more wackier, the easier it is to believe!

The odd thing is, that even though they claim that their beliefs make them happier, they don't seem happier. When you challenge their beliefs, they get all huffy in no time flat. I sure don't get the impression that they are particularly "enlightened" by their beliefs.

To me, it seems unlikely that every person on the planet only holds beliefs for which they have indisputable evidence. Even skeptics. Because the amount of time it would take to gather such evidence would be longer than a lifetime. Some things you take for granted.

Well, yes and no. I've never been to Antarctica, and neither have most people. Yet, I know that it exists. There is evidence, and plenty of it. So my "belief" that Antarctica exists is very well founded.

But evidence is never indisputable. Think of the progression in atomic models. I am not mistaken if I say that you were taught the Rutherford's Solar System model in school, am I? I was. That's just one of the models which has evolved, depending on new experimental data.

What do you take for granted?

Now, do I believe in the possibility because I simply want to? Sure, why not. I also find some philosophy compelling because it makes sense with what I know of the universe. Philosophy is different from fact, I'm well aware, and since it depends largely upon my perspective, it is largely inapplicable.

But what, in my world, does not depend upon my perspective? What, in yours, does not depend on yours?

Evidence. :)

I know, I know: Next, you'll ask "What about love?" You tell me what you think "love" is.

...well, you were the one wanting to be all philosophical... ;)

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
15th March 2007, 04:29 AM
So you agree with me that Occam's razor should not have been invoked in the post to which I was responding. Thank you.
Yes, but not because because the god postulate is no more complicated. Universe + god is clearly more complicated than universe alone. Occam can't be applied because neither theory offers much of an explanation (yet). If it turns out that the universe just popped into existence for no reason whatsoever, then that explanation is going to win over the god postulate.


But seriously, look up TheismWP and you will see that it is simply a version of god that sits somewhere between the Judeo-Christian God and the Deist god that just kicked off the universe and went on vacation. I was somehow assuming that the definition of Theist God was pretty obvious.
I asked for a definition of god, not merely a selection from among a menu of possible god-ideas. You talk as if saying "theism" defines god, yet, of course, that's nothing but a circular argument. People who talk about god often seem to have nothing but a fuzzy feeling about what god is.

I want a clean-slate, from-scratch, whole-cloth definition of god. If it's a coherent definition, then we can discuss whether it's believable or not.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
15th March 2007, 04:33 AM
This is the religion and philosophy section of the forum, so I was asking a philosophical question about an unnamed theistic god.
But you have not defined what you mean by "unnamed theistic god." If you don't, how can we engage your "[hope] for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true"? The best we can do is discuss the possibility of a fuzzy, vague concept of a god, which will go nowhere toward convincing you one way or the other. At best it might shed light on the concept, but not on the actual thing.

~~ Paul

IllegalArgument
15th March 2007, 04:39 AM
Hi Remie.

Another position is that god, whatever the definition, is unknowable.

This would imply that you couldn't understand it and what it wanted. Any attempt to understand it, is just a person projecting their desires onto it.

So, why concern yourself with it. Live your life and if there is a god, you'll have a nice conversation with it when you die.

slingblade
15th March 2007, 04:49 AM
Or it will cast you into a pit of fire for all eternity.

But one way or the other, you'll know. :D

IllegalArgument
15th March 2007, 04:55 AM
Or it will cast you into a pit of fire for all eternity.

But one way or the other, you'll know. :D

Then you know it's an evil b*st*rd and it would have been a waste of time praying to it in the first place. :)

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
15th March 2007, 05:17 AM
Or it will cast you into a pit of fire for all eternity.

But one way or the other, you'll know.
Or, when you die you're just dead, and you won't ever know that you didn't get to find out.

~~ Paul

IllegalArgument
15th March 2007, 05:37 AM
Or, when you die you're just dead, and you won't ever know that you didn't get to find out.

~~ Paul

That's my point, it's unknowable. Why worry about it. Live!

chriswl
15th March 2007, 05:46 AM
I disagree with the manner in which atheists apply Occam's razor to god. In what way is it more complicated that a being created the universe, than that it just formed itself on it's own?
The word "being" is the problem here. Perhaps the story of our universe did not start at some Big Bang singularity. There may be proceses and things prior to anything we can directly observe that generated our universe.

But "being" implies some kind of sentience. This is a completely unwarranted (and actually rather bizarre) assumption. As best we can observe, sentience is a quality posessed by physical creatures that have been accidentally created by the specific process of biological evolution within this universe. What are we proposing when we start imagining such a thing existing outside of and prior to the universe?

Of course the answer to this question is that we are not proposing anything coherent at all. We are just continuing a pre-scientific tradition of embracing anthropomorphic answers to difficult questions.

Zygar
15th March 2007, 10:56 AM
The word "being" is the problem here. Perhaps the story of our universe did not start at some Big Bang singularity. There may be proceses and things prior to anything we can directly observe that generated our universe.

Indeed. We have no idea what happened. So all theories are equally valid until we have some sort of evidence.

But "being" implies some kind of sentience. This is a completely unwarranted (and actually rather bizarre) assumption. As best we can observe, sentience is a quality posessed by physical creatures that have been accidentally created by the specific process of biological evolution within this universe. What are we proposing when we start imagining such a thing existing outside of and prior to the universe?

You are supposing that sentience is a wholly biological quality. I do not disagree with this supposition, but I assert that you are supposing it, and not relying on any concrete evidence to support it. The issue here is that we are speaking in scientific terms about a philosophical question. The nature of a sentient being is very much a philosophical question. Once you bring science into the equation, you are presupposing that sentience is wholly connected to physical beings.

Of course the answer to this question is that we are not proposing anything coherent at all. We are just continuing a pre-scientific tradition of embracing anthropomorphic answers to difficult questions.

Perhaps. I just do not know how "itjustsortahappened" is any more coherent.

Let me put it this way. Physics is built around the simple principle of cause and effect. What was the initial cause of the Big Bang? It didn't just happen with no cause. There was a cause. Until we have a fact-based theory as to the cause, we are both shooting in the dark. For all I know, the FSM was the cause. I have no idea. I fail to see how we can presuppose that the cause was wholly unrelated to the actions of a sentient being until we have some sort of clue about what happened.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
15th March 2007, 11:18 AM
What was the initial cause of the Big Bang? It didn't just happen with no cause. There was a cause.
Why do you think a cause is required? I don't know, I'm just asking.

~~ Paul

Jon.
15th March 2007, 11:22 AM
But I am not a theist. And something tells me even if I was, I wouldn't be privy to what god does and does not do, or is and is not.

You may not be a theist, but you are asking us why we don't believe in a theistic god, so you might as well be taking the theistic position in the discussion. My questions stand. And if the answer is that you don't know anything about this god, my response would be that you don't really believe in it either, so why should I?

Steven Howard
15th March 2007, 11:26 AM
This is the religion and philosophy section of the forum, so I was asking a philosophical question about an unnamed theistic god. I'm not saying I believe in such a thing, or that I know what it's composed of or how it influences the world, or even that it's possible it exists. I'm pondering ;) Really.

The problem with the "unnamed theistic god" is that there's no there there. Theists tend to give their gods names, and to be very specific about their characteristics.

Even so, since we're discussing a belief in an "unnamed theistic god" as specifically distinct from Deism, it seems to me that we should be able to distinguish between a world with an interventionist god and one without. If this god intervenes in the physical world, then by definition, we should be able to observe and measure the physical results of this intervention, even if the god itself is undetectable.

Or, on reflection, we should be able to tell whether our world fits into one of the following two cases. Case 1: There is at least one god that sometimes intervenes in the physical world. Case 2: Either there are no gods that ever intervene in the physical world, or there is at least one god that always intervenes in the physical world, and always does so in predictable and repeatable ways.

The fact that we've been able to work out a set of physical rules that explain and predict our observations of the world without recourse to any whimsical or capricious supernatural causes means we're not in the Case 1 world. And I don't think either of the gods in Case 2 is distinguishable from the Deists' god.

Wowbagger
15th March 2007, 11:44 AM
As long as you're not hurting anyone, nor making claims of "fact" that can be demonstrated false, I'm good. I won't talk you out of it.

But, I find living life without God to be quite liberating. I am in control of my destiny, and I don't need to ask a "higher authority" for any help!

If I start to wonder how the Universe and life came into existence, in the first place, I can entertain any number of philosophical possabilities I want (as long as I admit they are philosophies, and not anything like science).

But, that's just me. You can shove whatever explanation for the existence of stuff in the Universe you want, into your head.

Phil
15th March 2007, 01:02 PM
Indeed. We have no idea what happened. . . .

Not exactly true. We have many working ideas about what happened. They have been discussed by the more physics-minded people on these boards quite a bit. There is nothing yet that has surfaced as the most probable scenario, but it's not like we're just totally clueless.

. . . Let me put it this way. Physics is built around the simple principle of cause and effect. What was the initial cause of the Big Bang? It didn't just happen with no cause. There was a cause. Until we have a fact-based theory as to the cause, we are both shooting in the dark. For all I know, the FSM was the cause. I have no idea. I fail to see how we can presuppose that the cause was wholly unrelated to the actions of a sentient being until we have some sort of clue about what happened.

Look into some of the QM theories for some very interesting ideas about effects with no cause. Some physicists think something like the strange quantum fluctuations that can be indirectly observed may have played a part in starting this universe and possibly infinite numbers of others just like it.

Very cool stuff.

jimlintott
15th March 2007, 01:18 PM
Oh, I'm not asking for proof of anything. I'm just asking about philosophical conclusions.

Maybe I should rephrase, and make it, "Why does a theistic God not make sense to you as a basis for personal belief?"

Not to say that it should. I'm just trying to round out the philosophy aspect of my education.

Simple answer for me is that a theistic god does not make sense because I tend to think scientifically rather than philosophically.

Until you can move a philosophical proof to an empirical proof you have nothing but an idea.

CapelDodger
15th March 2007, 04:32 PM
I understand your point. What I don't understand is why you are directing the information at me.
I proselytise for the anti-Philosophy cause. It's my calling, or possibly a syndrome.

If I said the words that you've put in quotes ...

That wasn't my intention, I meant to suggest the philosophical tendency towards infinite regression : what do we mean by "know" or "teach", what do we mean by "mean". All the practical, useful philosophy was completed a century and more ago.

RemieV
15th March 2007, 04:43 PM
I proselytise for the anti-Philosophy cause. It's my calling, or possibly a syndrome.



That wasn't my intention, I meant to suggest the philosophical tendency towards infinite regression : what do we mean by "know" or "teach", what do we mean by "mean". All the practical, useful philosophy was completed a century and more ago.

I have the feeling that would piss off the Heidegerrians. ;)

RemieV
15th March 2007, 04:47 PM
I'd better be quiet here...


I know, I know: Next, you'll ask "What about love?" You tell me what you think "love" is.

...well, you were the one wanting to be all philosophical... ;)

Claus, O glorious monster of a skeptic, :D

I would never say "love". I do not watch "Contact" enough to feel compelled to use that argument ;)

Plus Plato already covered the idea of what, exactly, love is in the Symposium...

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html

Evidence, to me, also depends upon perspective because it can always be challenged and always be found to be lacking. After all, Antarctica might be a conspiracy of cartographers.

Eventually, you must make a choice on whose word you consider to be reliable. I could make a decent argument that love doesn't exist. I could make a decent argument that God does.

But I'm really asking for what was the final nail in the coffin... What argument made you say, "Huh, that's right, there is no God," because as someone else pointed out within this thread, most were brought up in religious households...

RemieV
15th March 2007, 04:50 PM
But you have not defined what you mean by "unnamed theistic god." If you don't, how can we engage your "[hope] for a discussion of why this possibility cannot be true"? The best we can do is discuss the possibility of a fuzzy, vague concept of a god, which will go nowhere toward convincing you one way or the other. At best it might shed light on the concept, but not on the actual thing.

~~ Paul

Well, I could potentially give a vague fuzzy concept of a God, and it might go nowhere... But that's what philsophizing is... It's starting out with an assumption and seeing if it applies to the world. I've tried very hard to keep anyone from the misguided notion that I either have evidence of such a God's existence, believe in one, or know what one would be composed of.

I'm just asking if the idea is philosophically valid.

So... I guess for that vague fuzzy concept, we could start with "Creator of the universe, who occasionally messes about in what's happening now."

Best I can do so far.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
15th March 2007, 04:55 PM
So... I guess for that vague fuzzy concept, we could start with "Creator of the universe, who occasionally messes about in what's happening now."

Best I can do so far.
Then all I can say is that the question of whether god is a reasonable possibility cannot be addressed until a coherent definition is presented. Until then, I would maintain the default position that an undefined entity does not exist.

~~ Paul

Jekyll
15th March 2007, 05:11 PM
But I'm really asking for what was the final nail in the coffin... What argument made you say, "Huh, that's right, there is no God," because as someone else pointed out within this thread, most were brought up in religious households...

Well talking about god as the finger in the pie, it was the growing realisation that there didn't seem to be any finger; that anything that has ever been pointed to as being possibly finger has turned out to be utterly indistinguishable from pie. Sure there are gaps still left in our understanding but I don't see any reason to think they'll turn out to be finger when everything else has been just pie.

RemieV
15th March 2007, 05:17 PM
Hi Remie.

Another position is that god, whatever the definition, is unknowable.

This would imply that you couldn't understand it and what it wanted. Any attempt to understand it, is just a person projecting their desires onto it.

So, why concern yourself with it. Live your life and if there is a god, you'll have a nice conversation with it when you die.

Well, I try not to only consider ideas that affect me personally. And I agree that if indeed God exists, and if he is unknowable, then it would be incredibly hard to understand what he wanted. If he wanted anything at all.

That doesn't mean that making suppositions about whether or not one exists in the first place is a pointless endeavor. I may never understand the mind of a cockroach, but I can still be concerned about whether or not they're in my kitchen.

RemieV
15th March 2007, 05:19 PM
You may not be a theist, but you are asking us why we don't believe in a theistic god, so you might as well be taking the theistic position in the discussion. My questions stand. And if the answer is that you don't know anything about this god, my response would be that you don't really believe in it either, so why should I?

I don't think that you should believe in it... I'm asking for information :)

Again, I'm not really all that smart. I haven't had all the years of education that I would've preferred to. I am wondering if there is an argument for atheism that trumps the idea of theism. That's all.

Kopji
15th March 2007, 05:45 PM
To a theist, there are an infinite number of deities that might exist. If you assert your belief is true, it seems only fair to ask about the status of the rest.

An atheist only asks for evidence of any deity at all.

Ichneumonwasp
15th March 2007, 07:07 PM
Kopji,

I really enjoyed your post (#43). Do you have any easy references so I can read more about it? I mean, references that don't involve an intimate knowledge of Godel level math or the intracies of computer archaelogy. That is a seriously interesting topic.

Mercutio
15th March 2007, 07:11 PM
There is a god. It's me.


Mind you, my PR people have exaggerated a bit.

Kopji
15th March 2007, 08:24 PM
Kopji,

I really enjoyed your post (#43). Do you have any easy references so I can read more about it? I mean, references that don't involve an intimate knowledge of Godel level math or the intricacies of computer archaelogy. That is a seriously interesting topic.

Hey thank you. It takes me a little while to put ideas to words. :)
I have some key ideas that I work on over the years, I try write them from scratch each time, it forces me to rethink and clarify. The example of the 'liar's paradox' described by Gödel, and his basic insanity attracted my attention back in the mid 90's. Darn if I remember the books though, but it involved sitting in a library way back then. :)

I tried a search for the actual text of Godel's Ontological Argument. It mirrors what Anselem wrote, but associates it with the liar's paradox. When I first read it I thought it was a humorous parody of Anselem, and made a case for unbelief. The actual words are hard to find now, in fact I did not find his actual formulation of Anselm's words on the internet.

IMHO what is contained on the internet about Gödel has actually gotten worse over the years. His ideas seem to have been adopted by people who think he proves God or mysticism in some way. It is almost as if believers sense something darkly dangerous and destructive in his ideas, and so try to bring him into their own mystical camp. Just My Humble Opinion but he would probably have liked that.

At least one 'popular science' author has written a couple of recent books that seem to mirror my own ideas on this, her name is Janna Levin. It was somewhat startling to see her comments during an interview. I have not read these yet, so it might be weird to recommend them. (I must remember that just because someone agrees with me does not make us right...) :D

Books:

How the Universe Got Its Spots
Janna Levin
Nonfiction

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
Written by Janna Levin

Fiction Hardcover
August 2006
978-1-4000-4030-8 (1-4000-4030-2)

From an interview:

http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400040308&view=qa

Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing never actually met. Why write about those two?

Alan Turing is most famous for breaking the German Enigma code during World War II. But among scientists, he's best known for pure mathematical discoveries inspired by Kurt Gödel's greatest work. Taken together their work proves that there are fundamental limits to what we can ever know. In the wake of this massive blow to knowledge, Turing invents the computer. So here they converge on some phenomenal truth about numbers but then diverge completely in their worldviews–Turing becomes an atheist who believes we are no more than soulless biological machines and Gödel believes in reincarnation of a soul. And then their suicides are bleakly complementary–Gödel starves himself to death in a paranoid delusion that his food is poisoned and Turing intentionally eats poisoned food, an apple, straight out of Snow White. I said you can't make this stuff up...

...The reasons are different for the two books. How the Universe Got Its Spots was literally me talking about my research on the question of whether the universe is infinite or finite. It seemed only right to use a personal voice. For A MADMAN DREAMS OF TURING MACHINES, the reasons are subtler. The book is structured around the ancient Liar's Paradox–The liar says, "This is a lie." Oddly enough, this self-referential tangle deeply influenced Gödel's and Turing's mathematical discoveries. I needed to be in the book to tell the lies that lead to the true story, the fiction that's fact.


These are now on my short list though.

Zygar
15th March 2007, 08:26 PM
Why do you think a cause is required? I don't know, I'm just asking.

~~ Paul

I like that you ask this after arguing for a scientific understanding of the world. Science relies upon cause and effect. Without it, science is useless. I believe in cause and effect far more than I believe in the possibility of a deity. For many reasons. Because of my daily experiences, my background in science and computers, and because we are wired to understand the nature of cause and effect.

Is there any reason not to believe that there is a cause?

Zygar
15th March 2007, 08:37 PM
Not exactly true. We have many working ideas about what happened. They have been discussed by the more physics-minded people on these boards quite a bit. There is nothing yet that has surfaced as the most probable scenario, but it's not like we're just totally clueless.

Nothing has surfaced as anything more than pure speculation. They are unfounded guesses, just like the guess that some god caused it. Every theory I am aware of has absolutely no substance to support it. My personal favorite is the one from M-theory, but I also think that it actually makes the question of a deity even harder to answer.

Look into some of the QM theories for some very interesting ideas about effects with no cause. Some physicists think something like the strange quantum fluctuations that can be indirectly observed may have played a part in starting this universe and possibly infinite numbers of others just like it.

Very cool stuff.

In the world of QM it may seem like cause and effect do not exist, but it is clearly there in the statistics. Anyone who understands it even vaguely well will tell you that cause and effect are still present, but the effect is not knowable.

Science relies upon cause and effect. It was the primary reason for the strong rejection of Hawking's original theory about Hawking Radiation. If there is no cause and effect, then science will not work, and our understanding of the universe is built entirely upon a house of cards.

Anyway, all of you who are this willing to reject cause and effect, why do you not believe in a deity? I personally think Jesus walking on water is far more likely than cause and effect being meaningless. There is nothing in the world more supernatural than cause and effect being eliminated.

bruto
15th March 2007, 09:44 PM
This conjures up an image of a Shane moment, "My job here is done ..." and riding off into the sunset and extinction. For all we know it's already done it, whatever the job was.

This omnipotency would have to be a one-shot thing, the god would not only have to destroy itself but also leave no chance of another omnipotent entity arising.

You mean like a big bang, perhaps?

Jon the Geek
15th March 2007, 10:33 PM
But I'm really asking for what was the final nail in the coffin... What argument made you say, "Huh, that's right, there is no God," because as someone else pointed out within this thread, most were brought up in religious households...
There wasn't a final nail in the coffin. I don't believe in any deity because I have not been convinced that any deity exists.

That's really all it is for me. I think a deity is possible, but a lot of things are possible. Without a reason to believe, I can't believe. It doesn't always have to be a great reason to believe, but I haven't seen anything at all compelling about any deity yet. And since the existence or lack thereof of a deity doesn't seem to have any bearing on my life, I'm not going to waste time trying to convince myself that one exists.

CFLarsen
16th March 2007, 01:06 AM
Claus, O glorious monster of a skeptic, :D

I'll take that as a compliment. :)

I would never say "love". I do not watch "Contact" enough to feel compelled to use that argument ;)

Plus Plato already covered the idea of what, exactly, love is in the Symposium...

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html

Evidence, to me, also depends upon perspective because it can always be challenged and always be found to be lacking. After all, Antarctica might be a conspiracy of cartographers.

Yeah, but then, we could go to see for ourselves. We also have satellite photos, physical evidence, nature programmes, scientific expeditions, weather stations....that's one hell of a conspiracy!

Eventually, you must make a choice on whose word you consider to be reliable. I could make a decent argument that love doesn't exist. I could make a decent argument that God does.

Okie doke.

Make a decent argument that love doesn't exist.

Make a decent argument that God exists.

But I'm really asking for what was the final nail in the coffin... What argument made you say, "Huh, that's right, there is no God," because as someone else pointed out within this thread, most were brought up in religious households...

Based on the evidence, there is no God. The argument is Evidence. The Big E.

So... I guess for that vague fuzzy concept, we could start with "Creator of the universe, who occasionally messes about in what's happening now."

Best I can do so far.

How do you determine when he is messing?

Well talking about god as the finger in the pie

....as long as it's a finger... (Yes, I've seen "American Pie")

Well, I try not to only consider ideas that affect me personally. And I agree that if indeed God exists, and if he is unknowable, then it would be incredibly hard to understand what he wanted. If he wanted anything at all.

It wouldn't just be incredibly hard to understand, it would be impossible. How can you understand the unknowable? (There's a philosophical question for you)

That doesn't mean that making suppositions about whether or not one exists in the first place is a pointless endeavor. I may never understand the mind of a cockroach, but I can still be concerned about whether or not they're in my kitchen.

Ah, but the difference is that the cockroach exists. And you should definitely be concerned about whether or not they're in your kitchen.

chriswl
16th March 2007, 04:21 AM
You are supposing that sentience is a wholly biological quality. I do not disagree with this supposition, but I assert that you are supposing it, and not relying on any concrete evidence to support it. The issue here is that we are speaking in scientific terms about a philosophical question. The nature of a sentient being is very much a philosophical question. Once you bring science into the equation, you are presupposing that sentience is wholly connected to physical beings.
I'm just assuming physicalism, on the grounds that dualism doesn't make sense. I think ideas of an incorporeal creator rely on a dualistic view of the world and we should reject this, philosophically speaking.

Let me put it this way. Physics is built around the simple principle of cause and effect. What was the initial cause of the Big Bang? It didn't just happen with no cause. There was a cause.
There is a very simple philosophical answer to this. Cause and effect are things that exist within the universe. It makes no sense to speak of a cause of the universe. Such a cause would have to be outside of the universe and thus outside of time and space. But we can't conceive of causes without time and space in which to take place.

Until we have a fact-based theory as to the cause, we are both shooting in the dark. For all I know, the FSM was the cause. I have no idea. I fail to see how we can presuppose that the cause was wholly unrelated to the actions of a sentient being until we have some sort of clue about what happened.
But it's important to remember that any such "cause" can itself be questioned (what caused that?). We have to start with something uncaused to avoid an infinite regress.

So none of these causes are logically necesary. Therefore Occams razor applies - we should eliminate then unless we have evidence for their existence.

IllegalArgument
16th March 2007, 04:34 AM
Well, I try not to only consider ideas that affect me personally. And I agree that if indeed God exists, and if he is unknowable, then it would be incredibly hard to understand what he wanted. If he wanted anything at all.

That doesn't mean that making suppositions about whether or not one exists in the first place is a pointless endeavor. I may never understand the mind of a cockroach, but I can still be concerned about whether or not they're in my kitchen.

As chriswl said, there is evidence for cockroaches, there isn't any evidence for a god(s).

Why worry about the eye color of an invisible pink unicorn, if the unicorn decides to reveal itself to you, then you will know what color they are.

How tall is a Kebbler elf? Is the FSM made of Ramen noodles? What color is god's hair?

These questions all assume the creature exists, maybe they do, but at this point there is an equal amount of evidence, none.

Ichneumonwasp
16th March 2007, 05:16 AM
Kopji,

Thanks, man. Sounds like it's time for a run to the bookstore.

Jon.
16th March 2007, 10:58 AM
I don't think that you should believe in it... I'm asking for information :)[/quote]

It is somewhat disingenuous to ask us why we don't believe in something, then avoid all the questions about the characteristics of that thing that would help to pin down why we don't believe in it.

Again, I'm not really all that smart. I haven't had all the years of education that I would've preferred to. I am wondering if there is an argument for atheism that trumps the idea of theism. That's all.

If there were a simple argument to "trump" the idea of theism, don't you think theism would be much rarer than it is?

Addressing arguments about theism generally is like smoothing wallpaper - you get one bump smoothed out, and another one pops up somewhere else. This is what I was talking about in my first post in this thread. Every time I advance an argument about what I think my opponent is arguing for, s/he moves the goalposts.

In the end, though, it all comes down to the big "E", as Claus said. There is simply no good evidence for the existence of any beings more powerful or intelligent than homo sapiens in the universe. On a lot of days, I consider that to be a bad thing.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
17th March 2007, 09:31 AM
I like that you ask this after arguing for a scientific understanding of the world. Science relies upon cause and effect. Without it, science is useless. I believe in cause and effect far more than I believe in the possibility of a deity. For many reasons. Because of my daily experiences, my background in science and computers, and because we are wired to understand the nature of cause and effect.

Is there any reason not to believe that there is a cause?
It's like asking the ultimate question: Why is there something rather than nothing? First you have to ask if there is a reason why there is something rather than nothing and obtain a positive response. Only then does the ultimate question make any sense.

Everything can't be cause and effect, because then it's turtles all the way down.

~~ Paul

CapelDodger
17th March 2007, 04:52 PM
I have the feeling that would piss off the Heidegerrians. ;)
There's something to be said for Wittgenstein, but it could mean anything :) .

Pissed-off Philosophers are not the stuff of my nightmares. Bring 'em on, I say. All together or one at a time, it makes no odds to me. I've been on the case for forty years, man and boy, and I'm not done for yet.

CFLarsen
18th March 2007, 12:25 AM
I............mmanuel Kant
was a real piss-ant
who was very rarely stable.

Heidegger, Heidegger
was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table.

David Hume
could out-consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

And Wittgenstein
was a beery swine
who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche
couldn't teach 'ya
'bout the raising of the wrist.

Socrates, himself,
was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill,
of his own free will,
after half a pint of shandy
was particularly ill.

Plato, they say,
could stick it away,
half a crate of whiskey every day!

Aristotle, Aristotle
was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his Dram

And René Descartes
was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself
is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker,
but a bugger when he's pissed.

(Monty Python)