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God as Hypothetical
Posted: 05 October 2006 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I got it!  Just as I signed off a while ago it occured to me what I had experienced here as objections to logical proofs of God's existence.

The problem goes deeper than logic—it's that you cannot bear the thought of God ... even as a hypothetical.

Why?

You are not like that with everything (I don't think) but you are with God.  You insist that if you cannot point and grunt at God he is not worthy even of thought, not even to test the hypothetical of his existence.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 03:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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No, it’s just as silly as the easter bunny and the tooth fairy, that’s why.  Would you like to have a logical discussion about them?  Of course not.  Why should we want to logically discuss any other possibility.  How about Thor?

On edit:  You know what?  This forum exists to discuss issues raised by EOF.  I think the nonexistance of a god is pretty much a given to most of us.  To me, discussing the possibility logically is like scraping fingernails across a blackboard.  What’s the point?

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Posted: 05 October 2006 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]No, it’s just as silly as the easter bunny and the tooth fairy, that’s why.  Would you like to have a logical discussion about them?  Of course not.  Why should we want to logically discuss any other possibility.  How about Thor?

On edit:  You know what?  This forum exists to discuss issues raised by EOF.  I think the nonexistance of a god is pretty much a given to most of us.  To me, discussing the possibility logically is like scraping fingernails across a blackboard.  What’s the point?

You make my point, Pete.

Consider the implications if God DOES exist.  It is not quite comparable to the Easter Bunny.  And no one seriously puts forth the Easter Bunny.

So your casual dismissal speaks of an emotional element, as does your language, “silly.”  It seems that you are offended by the idea of God, even as a hypothetical.

No, it’s not “silly.”  In one sense Harris is right, the existence of God or not is deadly serious.  Forget the possible eternal import.  Forget history and ideological implications.  Just take the money given to churches, mosques and synagogues—should it be tax free?  Do you realize how much religious “business” goes on with no tax liability?  As a clergyman I got tax breaks from the Feds!  I once built a house with tax free money, and other housing expenses were forwarded to me, in tax-free cash advances, furniture, utilities, cable TV!  all tax free.  I don’t agree with that policy (in fact, I’m a little ashamed of it as I sit here now) and I was still modestly remunerated but it happened.  And you know why?  Because the general populace thinks it’s good to encourage MY religious contribution, thinks it’s GOOD for society.

So, Pete, think of the money and then tell me it’s “silly.”

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Posted: 05 October 2006 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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It’s silly.

There.  I said it for him.

God is even more improbable than the tooth fairy and easter bunny combined times one thousand.  There is simply no good reason to believe in him.  It just doesn’t make sense.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s generally the faithful that aren’t going to have their opinions changed.  They can’t bear the thought of the nonexistence of God.  If good evidence for God came along, an atheist would almost definitely change his ways.  (I think many atheists would prefer a world with God.)  But if good (or even great) evidence against God came along (as it already has), it is the faithful that would turn a deaf ear.  Such is the nature of faith:  it’s simply non-thinking.  That’s why it’s so easy.  Just don’t think about it.  If you hear somebody who makes sense but disagrees with you, just don’t think about it.  Say you have faith and that that’s that.  There’s a reason the word ignorance starts with “ignore.”

I grew up a theist.  When I became old enough to start thinking for myself (read: when I wasn’t a child any more), I started thinking about the concept of God.  Before, I hadn’t really thought about the concept.  I had simply listened and smiled, nodding my head, agreeing, never thinking.  As soon as I started actually thinking about it, reason took over almost instantly.  It became, to put it in Sam’s words, “transparently obvious” that there was no God, at least in the non-einsteinian sense.

I am open to debate though (something most theists are not).  Maybe you can convince me there is a God.  Maybe you can save my soul.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]The problem goes deeper than logic—it’s that you cannot bear the thought of God ... even as a hypothetical.

You don’t know the half of it. I cannot even bear the thought of you thinking that I cannnot bear the thought of God. This has nothing to do with free expression of religion, my friend, and you know it.

In fact, I so cannot bear it that I will almost bring to bear on it an ad hominem remark. What stays my hand? A grazing mace.

[quote author=“johnpritzlaff”]God is even more improbable than the tooth fairy and easter bunny combined times one thousand.  There is simply no good reason to believe in him.  It just doesn’t make sense.

As Grand Moff Tarkin once famously said, “This bickering is pointless.”

You cannot fight fire with gasoline. You cannot cure ignorance with reason, but only with information.

[quote author=“Thomas”]Consider the implications if God DOES exist.  It is not quite comparable to the Easter Bunny.  And no one seriously puts forth the Easter Bunny.

The only distinction between the two is the seriousness of the proponents. That is why I am not now trying to counter a belief in the EB. I would rather not contemplate the implications if God does exist, but rather try to imagine how different the universe might be if he did. If that constitutes implications, so much the better. Regardless, it would bear no recognizable relationship to this one, and would be barren of joy and spontaneity. If there is no elephant in the room, there is surely a bear.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“johnpritzlaff”]It’s silly.

There.  I said it for him.

God is even more improbable than the tooth fairy and easter bunny combined times one thousand.  There is simply no good reason to believe in him.  It just doesn’t make sense.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s generally the faithful that aren’t going to have their opinions changed.  They can’t bear the thought of the nonexistence of God.  If good evidence for God came along, an atheist would almost definitely change his ways.  (I think many atheists would prefer a world with God.)  But if good (or even great) evidence against God came along (as it already has), it is the faithful that would turn a deaf ear.  Such is the nature of faith:  it’s simply non-thinking.  That’s why it’s so easy.  Just don’t think about it.  If you hear somebody who makes sense but disagrees with you, just don’t think about it.  Say you have faith and that that’s that.  There’s a reason the word ignorance starts with “ignore.”

I grew up a theist.  When I became old enough to start thinking for myself (read: when I wasn’t a child any more), I started thinking about the concept of God.  Before, I hadn’t really thought about the concept.  I had simply listened and smiled, nodding my head, agreeing, never thinking.  As soon as I started actually thinking about it, reason took over almost instantly.  It became, to put it in Sam’s words, “transparently obvious” that there was no God, at least in the non-einsteinian sense.

I am open to debate though (something most theists are not).  Maybe you can convince me there is a God.  Maybe you can save my soul.

You’ve got it all wrong, John.  Your arrogant posture of atheism toward the bulk of humanity in all his history everywhere in the world is the anomaly in the universe, the silliness.

I’m making an honest attempt to understand it and engage it because I’m naturally curious.  And yes, I suppose I care about your soul.

I came to faith on my own, for I was part of a non-devout, typically bourgeois mainline family, lying on my bed one night at the age of 17 wondering how my finiteness fit in with an apparently infinite universe.

The answer came to me in an ancient hymn that is repeated in essence in every religion everywhere, “world without end. Amen. Amen.”  It occurred to me that that was a personal revelation, that everyone that has ever thought about it comes to that kind of conclusion for himself that there is a connection between finitude and infinitude—the soul of me, my mind, which is more than a brain, my spirit, which is more than an endocrine system.  How can a man think of infinity if he has no part in it?  Is the world that cruel, to tease us with that thought and not follow through, like some celestial schoolgirl, some cosmic flirt?

What would become of me 1000 years after I’m dead?  Who would remember me?  What is my purpose, my personal significance?

You may stare into the darkness and see nothing.  I stared into it and saw a light.  What is the difference?

Whatever the difference, it is not “silly.”  My dad tried to beat it out of me.  The petty church bureaucrats tried to get me to compromise it for money.  But that light saved my life in more ways than one and probably many times.  I’m faithful to it because of IT, its virtues in itself, not because it is some test for me to prove myself worthy or any such thing as my faithfulness.  In fact, I confess that I have not always been faithful to it.

But I suppose that if you start from the bald assertion that Christians are fools to begin with, then you’d think whatever they believe in is foolish, too.  It’s a circular argument, really.  And I think you can do better.

I claim that the criterion by which I judge the truth or goodness of a thing is as valid, rational and commendable as the next guy’s.  So, “silly” does not apply.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]But I suppose that if you start from the bald assertion that Christians are fools to begin with, then you’d think whatever they believe in is foolish, too.  It’s a circular argument, really.  And I think you can do better.

[quote author=“Thomas”]I claim that the criterion by which I judge the truth or goodness of a thing is as valid, rational and commendable as the next guy’s.  So, “silly” does not apply.

Can you figure out from this why Thomas does not want to engage me?

Deep down, Thomas really appreciates “cultural relativism”. He really does. He thanks his God for it. What science tells you is that one opinion is not invariably as good as another.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“Thomas”]But I suppose that if you start from the bald assertion that Christians are fools to begin with, then you’d think whatever they believe in is foolish, too.  It’s a circular argument, really.  And I think you can do better.

[quote author=“Thomas”]I claim that the criterion by which I judge the truth or goodness of a thing is as valid, rational and commendable as the next guy’s.  So, “silly” does not apply.

Can you figure out from this why Thomas does not want to engage me?

Deep down, Thomas really appreciates “cultural relativism”. He really does. He thanks his God for it. What science tells you is that one opinion is not invariably as good as another.

Deep down I’m glad we live in a free society if that’s what you mean.  The church was never intended to be a secular power.  It became that by default, probably.  But those days are over—- yes, thank God.

I don’t want to engage you because you make no sense.  What I’ve heard in your posts is rage not reason.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]What I’ve heard in your posts is rage not reason.

Honi sois qui mal y pense. This aphorism is unforgiveable, I know. I have no rage in me. I have a brain and a backbone. Perhaps you misapprehend the nature of intelligence, and read rage for reason. You think that by forgiving an imaginary sin that one can touch the divine.

What you see is not rage. I am making sport of you, as a cat plays with a mouse. The cat is not angry with the mouse, and at first, only wants to play. The injury done to the mouse is largely because of the discrepancy in mass. And perhaps because the cat views the mouse as food. Perhaps the cat subscribes to the school of “if you break it, you buy it.”

Making sense of a person’s words is a chance, and not a necessity, just as I regard the words of your Christ. It is a choice, and you may choose to ignore me. But I will not let you misinterpret me, since, unlike Christ, I am here and now, and He is neither here nor there.

[ Edited: 05 October 2006 07:13 AM by ]
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Posted: 05 October 2006 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“Thomas”]What I’ve heard in your posts is rage not reason.

Honi sois qui mal y pense. This aphorism is unforgiveable, I know. I have no rage in me. I have a brain and a backbone. Perhaps you misapprehend the nature of intelligence, and read rage for reason. You think that by forgiving an imaginary sin that one can touch the divine.

What you see is not rage. I am making sport of you, as a cat plays with a mouse. The cat is not angry with the mouse, and at first, only wants to play. The injury done to the mouse is largely because of the discrepancy in mass. And perhaps because the cat views the mouse as food. Perhaps the cat subscribes to the school of “if you break it, you buy it.”

I suppose that a delusion of granduer is one way to house so much rage.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]I suppose that a delusion of granduer is one way to house so much rage.

As I have informed your fellow religionist, frankr, I am philosophically homeless. Any grandeur I appear to have is in the eye of the beholder. Or else is made a fact by what you yourself rightly perceive as your own incompetence.

And it’s “grandeur”, not “granduer”. Get a spell checker. And get a philosophy checker too, if you are at all able to find a coherent phrase that is something besides a creative third person ad hom in the next few hours with two hands and a flashlight.

My ad homs are direct and not as pusillanimous as that.

Making sense of a person’s words is a chance, and not a necessity, just as I regard the words of your Christ. It is a choice, and you may choose to ignore me. But I will not let you misinterpret me, since, unlike Christ, I am here and now, and He is neither here nor there.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]I got it!  Just as I signed off a while ago it occured to me what I had experienced here as objections to logical proofs of God’s existence.

The problem goes deeper than logic—it’s that you cannot bear the thought of God ... even as a hypothetical.

Why?

You are not like that with everything (I don’t think) but you are with God.  You insist that if you cannot point and grunt at God he is not worthy even of thought, not even to test the hypothetical of his existence.

Thomas, I already brought this point up in my last post on the “God is logical” thread (which you never bothered to respond to, BTW).

[quote author=“psiconoclast”]But you can’t test God. You can hypothesize him all day long, but at the end of the day, it isn’t falsifiable.

So no, you don’t have it right.  I am more than happy to entertain a hypothesis that involves a supreme being, or an intelligent prime mover, or even a Judeo Christian God.  My only demand is that such a hypothesis meet the same criteria for any other hyphothesis which I am willing to consider, namely that it is falsifiable, or has a strong likelyhood of being falsifiable with additional work (like string theory).

Also, I must object, again, to your characterization of my way of thinking as “point and grunt”.  You do yourself a great disservice to be so casually dismissive.  Quantum physics, genetics, forensic science, etc. . . .  These things are firmly rooted in the “real”, but they are hardly point and grunt.  All of them involve getting at the truth, when the truth itself is not available for direct inspection.  They each have something else in common too, none of them need be taken on faith, any one of us, given a fairly small amount of time and resources could take the steps needed to recreate core experiments proving each of them.

What core experiment can I do to test the hypothesis of God?  The only thing that you offer is religious mantras.  If I say it, and think it, over and over, it will feel good, and that is supposed to be my proof?

-Matt

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Posted: 05 October 2006 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“psiconoclast”][quote author=“Thomas”]I got it!  Just as I signed off a while ago it occured to me what I had experienced here as objections to logical proofs of God’s existence.

The problem goes deeper than logic—it’s that you cannot bear the thought of God ... even as a hypothetical.

Why?

You are not like that with everything (I don’t think) but you are with God.  You insist that if you cannot point and grunt at God he is not worthy even of thought, not even to test the hypothetical of his existence.

Thomas, I already brought this point up in my last post on the “God is logical” thread (which you never bothered to respond to, BTW).

[quote author=“psiconoclast”]But you can’t test God. You can hypothesize him all day long, but at the end of the day, it isn’t falsifiable.

So no, you don’t have it right.  I am more than happy to entertain a hypothesis that involves a supreme being, or an intelligent prime mover, or even a Judeo Christian God.  My only demand is that such a hypothesis meet the same criteria for any other hyphothesis which I am willing to consider, namely that it is falsifiable, or has a strong likelyhood of being falsifiable with additional work (like string theory).

Also, I must object, again, to your characterization of my way of thinking as “point and grunt”.  You do yourself a great disservice to be so casually dismissive.  Quantum physics, genetics, forensic science, etc. . . .  These things are firmly rooted in the “real”, but they are hardly point and grunt.  All of them involve getting at the truth, when the truth itself is not available for direct inspection.  They each have something else in common too, none of them need be taken on faith, any one of us, given a fairly small amount of time and resources could take the steps needed to recreate core experiments proving each of them.

What core experiment can I do to test the hypothesis of God?  The only thing that you offer is religious mantras.  If I say it, and think it, over and over, it will feel good, and that is supposed to be my proof?

-Matt

If you are testing for the existence of a perfect being then I doubt falsifiability would be a good method.  We are not testing phenomenon or a contingent being but ... God.

My experiential test is not a feel good thing.  In fact, it might be quite disturbing to contemplate God.  I was saying that God’s existence fits more naturally into human cognitive structure than denying him.  Like keeping water out of a boat, atheism seems futile to me, unless you take the boat out of the water.  The “alternative naturalistic explanation” for everything is taking your mind out of the ocean of human experience.

I contend that there is a test for God’s existence that has played out in history—the life and ministry of Christ.  It was there that God submitted himself to the harshest of man’s concrete operations.

And in my view it has been repeated over the years.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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So, Pete, think of the money and then tell me it’s “silly.”

You are quite correct.  When I think about all the harm religion does and has done throughout history, I agree with you, it is certainly not silly!  I thought we were talking about debating the existance of your imaginary friend, not religion per se.

Organized religion has, in my opinion, very little to do with the existance of any partidular god or gods.  It has everything to do with the things you mentioned, starting with money and power.

Why do you think Constintine chose Christianity over all the other religions that were rampant in the empire?  Surely you don’t buy the “In hoc signo vinces” thing that eusiebius made up.  Think about it. He wanted something to glue the empire back together, and Christianity alone had the authoritarian clout to do it.

After all, he was such a good christian that he murdered his wife and half his family later on.

Debating the existance of god is the sillyness.  You have no case, and you know it.  No evidence, no logical basis of argument.  Nothing.  The best arguments of your best apoligists have all been refuted time and time again by the Humes’, Harris’ and Dawkins’ of the world.

There is far more verifiable evidence for either the tooth fairy or easter bunny then there is for your guy.

That’s why it’s silly.

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Posted: 05 October 2006 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]If you are testing for the existence of a perfect being then I doubt falsifiability would be a good method.  We are not testing phenomenon or a contingent being but ... God.

Why would such a perfect being then be so careful as to not leave any potential for falsifiability around?  It seems perverse.

My experiential test is not a feel good thing.  In fact, it might be quite disturbing to contemplate God.  I was saying that God’s existence fits more naturally into human cognitive structure than denying him.  Like keeping water out of a boat, atheism seems futile to me, unless you take the boat out of the water.  The “alternative naturalistic explanation” for everything is taking your mind out of the ocean of human experience.

There are plenty of other things that fit more naturally into the human cognitive structure than reality too.

To the default configuration of the human cognitive structure:
[list]We live on a flat plane.
The sun moves, and the earth is still.
We don’t have blindspots in our visual field.
Mystery Spots are mysterious.
Stuff is solid.[/list:u]

Each of these notions, however, has fallen before honest scientific exploration.  Your argument that something is more natural to the human cognitive structure, in that light, seems pretty weak.  You could make the case that God himself designed the cognitive structure to look for him, but then you would have to explain why he designed it with all of those other flaws as well.

I contend that there is a test for God’s existence that has played out in history—the life and ministry of Christ.  It was there that God submitted himself to the harshest of man’s concrete operations.

Well, as you no doubt know, I don’t accept that the Christ described in the Bible actually existed.  His story is a curious amalgamation of myths that predate his supposed point in history.  That, coupled with the lack of independant verification (why would the Romans, notorious record takers, not have recorded the slaughter of innocents, for instance) of any of the key events, makes it perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of Jesus entirely.

And in my view it has been repeated over the years.

People of many faiths have endured hardships, even death, for what they believe.  If enduring harsh treatment for what one believes is sufficient to prove its veracity, then you had better build a whole new library for all the books you need!

-Matt

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Posted: 05 October 2006 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Thomas”]If you are testing for the existence of a perfect being then I doubt falsifiability would be a good method.  We are not testing phenomenon or a contingent being but ... God.

My experiential test is not a feel good thing. In fact, it might be quite disturbing to contemplate God. I was saying that God’s existence fits more naturally into human cognitive structure than denying him. Like keeping water out of a boat, atheism seems futile to me, unless you take the boat out of the water. The “alternative naturalistic explanation” for everything is taking your mind out of the ocean of human experience.

I contend that there is a test for God’s existence that has played out in history—the life and ministry of Christ. It was there that God submitted himself to the harshest of man’s concrete operations.

And in my view it has been repeated over the years.

Scientific theories must not only be testable, they must also be logically consistent. It doesn’t matter what the results of your test show if the underlying basis for your theory is inconsistent. Read some more posts on this board and you will find many arguments for why God is logically impossible, regardless of what your evidence indicates.

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