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Does God Exist?

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Posted

What are the arguments against the existence of God?

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Posted

I have a rock here I named "God". Therefore, god exists.

In other words, what do you mean by god? I'd have to know before I can tell whether or not I think god exists.

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Posted

I have a rock here I named "God". Therefore, god exists.

In other words, what do you mean by god? I'd have to know before I can tell whether or not I think god exists.

POL, just to further this line of enquiry - is the rock name an intrinsic property of the rock ( written all over it) or, is the name given to the rock following an external conceptual representaation of someone or some kind of association (say someone named the rock like that)

either way, would the name necessarily reflect the nature of a thing

I man, I can call my dog 'Apple' , but that would not mean it exhibits the same properties of an apple

And calling my dog 'god' would surely get me to hell rather quickly, probably (or maybe not?)

so, while I agree with you that we need to define something before we can discuss its existence, in order to do so for the purpose of the 'does god exist discussion' defining means o identify the properties that characterize god, not just the label/name

not sure I made my argument clear

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Posted

Actually, PGalaxy, I like your questions, but only if you substitute idea for name. So, let me ask these questions:

We all suppose we know what "god" means, which is to say that we have an idea or concept of god. So, lets inquire into this idea. What makes this idea an idea of god?

Does our idea of god have something in common with god? Or in other words, is our idea of god and placed there by god himself?

Or is our idea of god a sort of reference or indexical in that it points to god, but the idea itself isn't like god? It could be, for example, that every reference we follow, starting from our idea of god, leads only to another reference, so we never reach god in himself, but all of these references approach god.

Or is god a traditional idea, an idea that is conveyed from parent to child, or from leader to follower? Does the idea of god spring from the Bible's description of such a being? Is it based on stories about what kind of being god is?

So, given that, as PGalaxy has just said, that calling a rock "god" doesn't endow that rock with god's properties; does calling an idea "god" endow that idea with any of god's properties? And if it doesn't, how do we know the properties of our idea of god are analogous to god himself? If our idea of god says god is good, why would we think that god himself is good?

:thumright:

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Posted

I just had a funny thought. What if part of the theist's idea of god is that god is true; but part of the atheist's idea of god is that god is false. Then, is there really any disagreement between them, given that they are really talking about different ideas? Wouldn't that make all of these heated internet discussions really a parody of language? :lol:

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Posted

In other words, what do you mean by god?

God can be viewed as the primal support, primal ground, transpersonal, and ultimate goal of all reality (to use Kung's words).

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Posted

I am pleased you have referenced Hans Kung, Xymox, and I noticed your thread title is the same as his book "Does God Exist?" (1978). I obtained the Xpress Reprints (SCM Press Ltd 1996) paperback copy from a friend here in Barbados, who attempted a diploma in theology at Codrington College in his retirement, but which became too much for him so he passed this book to me, recommended to him by his course tutors. Interestingly, Codrington College is Anglican, Hans Kung is a Roman Catholic priest - a bit of a radical though, his earlier companion book "On Being a Christian" upset the Magisterium. I too have referenced Hans Kung here:

http://academy.galilean-library.org/showthread.php?t=6693&page=2

At the time of receiving the book I had no doubts about the existence of God, as I believe I am one of those fortunate people who have had a revelatory experience. However, realising that many people are not so fortunate, yet they still believe that God does exist, and all those who believe that he doesn't, the book arrived at the beginning of my retirement and I have studied it quite intensely since.

His most telling argument is, I think, that since we can neither prove the existence of God, but neither can atheists prove his non-existence, then for all of us we are involved in a decision. In the light of the atheists he considers (Feuerbach, Marx and Freud) and then Nietzsche, all of us must accept the possibility of the uncertainty of reality, and then decide, yes or no (there is no sitting on the fence here, he says) between a fundamental trust or a fundamental mistrust of this uncertain reality. His considerations of all possibilities are thorough, in depth and comprehensive, and then through a process of "explication" and "concretion" he argues strongly (and convincingly, I think!), even by first hypothesizing the existence of God, for his real existence. It's an 800 plus page book, and ten years later I am still studying it and referring to it! Of course, one does not HAVE to read the whole book! In his preface he says:

"Does God exist? We are putting all our cards on the table here. The answer will be: Yes, God exists."!

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Posted

Hans Kung's Does God Exist is, at least in my eyes, arguably the finest theistic apologetic work ever penned; I spent about seven months reading it (that was about 2 years ago), and like you, I find myself using it as a reference all the time; it truly is a masterpiece of depth and philosophic understanding.

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Posted

Yet another SpamBot bites the dust. :roll:

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Posted

you mean, we managed to have full conversations with a spambot?

i am resurrecting questions that i did no see, but I am not sure

I can respond to them

We all suppose we know what "god" means, which is to say that we have an idea or concept of god.

Let me question your first assumption. I think that we do not have a common notion of what god is in the first place, therefore our arguments will always be mutually missing the point

i think starting from a commonl agreed definition would be essential for any enquiry to make sense...

So, lets inquire into this idea. What makes this idea an idea of god?

are we talking about the idea about the thing or about the thing? that depends how many facts you can enumerate. what facts do we have? (that would bring us into another discussion that is: what is a fact?)

I am interested in Mathsteach revelatory experience, please relate....

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Posted

I love this topic :)

I would like to put an alternative spin on this question though, for those who would argue that a god(as defined by christianity, hindu, judaism etc) does indeed exist.

Consider this. Science tells us that there is mathematical probability of alternate and/or parallel dimensions. If we accept this as truth, then what does this mean for our 'god' figure?

Does, in the case of a mono-theist religion, this god preside over all of the dimensions, or just this one? if it is the latter then he is not omnipotent - other gods exist that are at least of equal power. If he does preside over all of them, then we have another problem - there are now infinite worlds out there that we are accepting A GOD presides, however, there are now infinite alternative religions, in which case, statistically at least, one is better off not believing in this figure, after all, a only a figure so close to zero as to make no difference will actually be worshipping the 'correct' god.

Consider this also. Christian God is all seeing and all powerful. except this is not possible - if he is all seeing, he can see all that was, is or ever will be. but if this is the case, then he is powerless to change what will be. this god cannot be all seeing and all powerful, only one or the other.

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Posted

Consider this also. Christian God is all seeing and all powerful. except this is not possible - if he is all seeing, he can see all that was, is or ever will be. but if this is the case, then he is powerless to change what will be. this god cannot be all seeing and all powerful, only one or the other.

Hah. It strikes me Daves ideas about eternalism and free will should apply to that old chestnut to boot.

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Posted

I too love this topic, Scrier!

I am still working on my answers (for what they are worth!) to davidm's questions in the Hans Kung thread. I will also try to elaborate here on my experience of God. Please be patient, folks!

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Posted

In reply to Pgalaxy's request, I humbly submit the following. It is an amended version of part of an essay I wrote for my MEd in 1993, hence the references, rather than links in this day and age!

"My understanding of the nature of the observations in science at the beginning of my teaching career had been derived from the naive empiricism which I had acquired during my scientific training leading to my first degree (BSc). Naive empiricism, or rather the naive inductivism well described by Chalmers (1) had never been challenged either by myself or my teachers at school or university, and I went into science teaching believing that science was moving us inexorably towards a greater and greater understanding of reality and that ultimately all the problems, at least of natural science, would be solved. A single experiment conducted by a student in my school laboratory would prove the law and we could move on to the next experiment and the next law and prove that too. Although this understanding was challenged to some extent by the curriculum innovations in science teaching in the UK during the 1960s (2), even then the empiricist's acceptance of theory-laden observations was never questioned. As far as I was concerned the empiricism of Locke, with children's minds as a tabula rasa, motivated all of my science teaching, and that all I had to do was to provide my pupils with as many experiences as possible in the time available. The children would learn from those experiences, and if I stage-managed their 'discoveries' they would learn what they were required to learn.

"The even more extreme empiricism of logical positivism underpinned much of the science of the UK National Curriculum and continued to fuel debate, such as Swatton (3) when writing in 1993 about the assessment of students where the process of observation by the students plays such an integral part. However I began to notice, as with babies and very young children, my students, child or adult, would come to my lessons innocently and naively and only build up that picture of the world which I already held.

"Before I give my account of the observational experience which began my conversion from this naive empiricism, I will refer to Paul Feyerabend for the purpose of introducing two questions which I want us to consider. In a paragraph in his Philosophical Papers (4) he began with a premise to adhere to "the pragmatic theory of observation", and I take it that he was referring to the pragmatics described by Jary and Jary for instance, as that "subdivision of linguistics concerned with the use of language in context" (5), for Feyerabend went on to say "we must carefully distinguish between the causes ....... and the meaning of an (observational) sentence ......". The two questions I want us to consider are firstly what caused my observations, and secondly to what meaning should they be attached, and to do this I will now describe, in "observational sentences" what I believe was a spiritual experience. Such experiences have been described by graduate students in research conducted by David Hay (6) and I believe my similar experience moved me in a fundamental way from my naive empiricism to the acceptance of theory-neutral observations in science. It was also a humbling experience. Later on, on my own, I broke down and cried. Twenty years later I read "Surprised by Joy" C. S. Lewis, and was fascinated by some small parallel with his personal account of his conversion.

"The occasion was during my teaching career when I had taken on the responsibility for 40 schoolchildren aged 12 to 13 on a week's excursion to Holland, accompanied by three other members of staff. It was Easter, 1972, and I was 30 years old. One of the arranged visits during the week was to Brugge, the 'Venice of the North'. I was finding the privilages afforded to me as organiser of the trip and teacher-in-charge of the party somewhat exhilarating, but as I leaned on the balcony wall at the top of the tower of a church in Brugge and talked to one or two of the children, I had an overwhelming experience of not only myself in charge of the trip, but myself, extending from that point in time and space both into the infinite past, the infinite future, the infinite distance and also the infinite world of sub-atomic particles. I saw the town beneath me, ordered and running like a machine. Everything appeared to become extremely clear, myself, my life, my work and my politics, things which were important to me at that time. I was not then married. I became more aware, far more clearly than ever I had noticed before, how society was structured and coerced into conformity. Some words of the deputy head teacher of the school came to me, when he had described me as a non-conformist, but also the most genuine, honest and unhypocritical Christian that he had ever met!

"I did not become a confirmed Christian for another ten years, and even now the dogma of much of Christian theology gives me great cause for concern. Also my difficulty at the time was to provide for myself, and others to whom I related the experience, an explanation for my observations, and I could not. This was an experience out of the blue, without foundation and with no theoretical backing to it which might have been built from earlier observations. It did not therefore move me to an acceptance of the theory-ladeness of observations, nor to the more recent development concerning the constructivist theory of knowledge such as that described by Driver and Oldham (7). I continued to teach science as I had always done, but it did make me far more aware of the possibility that children might not, perhaps never, observe what I was observing and wanted them to observe. It was a clear example to me of an observation that was not, and could not have been, theory-laden.

"Without any recourse to hallucinatory drugs or devotional prayer something beyond myself and yet part of me, had communicated to me that although I was only a tiny part of what might possibly be an infinite time and space, my place in it was central to its existence. If I go, it goes, and if it goes, I go, and since I believe that when I die it remains, (an observation supported by my seeing that it remains when others die), I therefore remain even when I die."

References.

(1) Chalmers P. (1976), What Is This Thing Called Science?, OUP.

(2) The Nuffield Foundation (1966), Nuffield Physics, Longmans.

(3) Swatton P. (1993), "What does it mean to be a scientist and how should we assess it?", The Curriculum Journal, Vol. 4, No.1.

(4) Feyerabend P. (1981), Realism, Rationalism, and Scientific Method; Philosophical Papers Volume Two, CUP.

(5) Jary D. & Jary J. (1991), Collins Dictionary of Sociology, Harper Collins.

(6) Hay D. (1987), Exploring Inner Space: Scientists and Religious Experience, Mowbrays Press.

(7) Driver R. & Oldham V. (1986), "A constructivist approach to curriculum development", Studies in Science Education, Vol. 13, pgs. 105-121.

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Posted

Interesting questions Scrier

Consider this. Science tells us that there is mathematical probability of alternate and/or parallel dimensions.

reference?

If we accept this as truth, then what does this mean for our 'god' figure?

that still depends on how you define the figure in the first place, which we still have not done very well

Does, in the case of a mono-theist religion, this god preside over all of the dimensions, or just this one? if it is the latter then he is not omnipotent - other gods exist that are at least of equal power. If he does preside over all of them, then we have another problem - there are now infinite worlds out there that we are accepting A GOD presides, however, there are now infinite alternative religions, in which case, statistically at least, one is better off not believing in this figure, after all, a only a figure so close to zero as to make no difference will actually be worshipping the 'correct' god.

consider this alternative: that there is only one [thing that we call] god, but appears as infinitely multiple, and different each time, due to the nature of this world, and psycho-physical constraints of the average human apparatus

this god cannot be all seeing and all powerful, only one or the other.

why?

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Posted

In reply to Pgalaxy's request, I humbly submit the following. It is an amended version of part of an essay I wrote for my MEd in 1993, hence the references, rather than links in this day and age!

thans a lot for sharing, with references, it must be a very personal thing.

Twenty years later I read "Surprised by Joy" C. S. Lewis, and was fascinated by some small parallel with his personal account of his conversion.

will look it up thanks

as I leaned on the balcony wall at the top of the tower of a church in Brugge and talked to one or two of the children, I had an overwhelming experience of not only myself in charge of the trip, but myself, extending from that point in time and space both into the infinite past, the infinite future, the infinite distance and also the infinite world of sub-atomic particles. I saw the town beneath me, ordered and running like a machine. Everything appeared to become extremely clear, myself, my life, my work and my politics, things which were important to me at that time.

Its amazing to see how revelatory experiences are different from each one, and one day I hope others may share theirs too

however, to the eye of the ratio-skeptic, your getting an emotional experience of pervasiveness and fulfilment cannot be taken for proof that god exist.

I wonder what made you associate that experience with god in the first place

i wonder what in that experience made you become christian, as opposed to buddhist, musli or hindu, for example. probably when being touched by the sensation of being part of something greater, you associated it to the nearest thing that your culture suggested

as a scientist today, i would be prone to give you a thorough check and a complete blood test, and see what chemical alteration took place,

as a psychologist I would be interested in understanding the emotional triggers that set off such an experience

(possibly to resell them as an alternative to LSD)

what worries me the most is that there are people who associate such psychic alterations to pathologies, and say that all people who beleive in god, or who thin they have witnessed god, are indeed affected by some pathology

i remember distinctively reading some journal article about this a few years ago, and found that very worrying

In eastern mysticism they would call such an experience a momentary samadhi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam%C4%81dhi

please note that most literature about samadhi is incomplete, there is lot more to it than what is publicly available

so are we saying that god, whatever is or is not, can only be perceived through subjective experience?

so are all the religious people in the world just mad?

or are the non religious ones just mad?

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Posted

spinning off the thread a bit

I have a great fascination for survival stories

people who were an inch from death, but have been spared

http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/ffincident.html

I remember reading an article when Charles Williams fell, that described how at the moment he realised he was going to fall, he abandoned himself and his last thoughts to God, and he said he felt like something was catching him. The roof he landed on was not on his expected trajectory, according to early reports. It would be good if someone could track him down and get him to talk about his experience with God during freefall.

And then again, why some survive and some dont?

Charles Williams, October 25, 2004

Irish Guard Lt. Charlie Williams fell 3,500 feet headfirst with his feet caught in the cords of his tangled parachute. He was unable to pull his reserve. He thought he was going to die but was saved when he plunged through the corrugated roof of a well-placed hut. His injuries: three cracked vertebrae and a dislocated finger. The incident happened in Malindi, Kenya.

Dragan Curcic, October 29, 2002

Dragan Curcic, a Yugoslav Army paratrooper, survived a 3,000-foot fall when his main and spare parachute malfunctioned during an exercise. He fell through the roof of an army building and survived with only minor cuts and bruises. He jumped again two days later. The incident happened in Nis, Serbia-Montenegro.

Glenn Hood, June 25, 2002

While jumping near Jarvis Lake in Western Alberta, the parachute of Corporal Glenn Hood, a Canadian forces member, became entangled with that of a colleague, Shawn Harrison. Harrison was able to break free and use his reserve. Hood, unfortunately, was all tangled up and rode his streaming parachute to the ground where his fall was broken by some "springy shrubs". Hood attributes his survival to divine intervention. See some thoughts on that topic.

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Posted

I trust readers here do not think that my last post was intended to convince anyone that God exists! As Pgalaxy correctly points out, there are several interpretations and explanations of my experience which do not involve God at all, all of which I am challenged to consider and accommodate into what I see as my continually developing spiritual self. The most obvious and most persistent one is the suggestion that I underwent some sort of psychological trauma, which nicely links with the suggestion that anyone who is religious must be mad, at least slightly!

I must thank Pgalaxy for the Wiki link to samadhi in eastern mysticism, and when reading the entry the most fascinating piece for me was the bit about "analogous concepts". I must quote:

"States of consciousness with some of the features of Samadhi are experienced by individuals with no religious or spiritual preparation or disposition. Such episodes occur spontaneously and appear to be triggered by physically or emotionally charged peak experiences such as in runner's high or orgasmic ecstasy, however even mundane activities such as reveling in a sunset, dancing or a hard day's work have, in rare instances, induced the entire range of Samadhi from Laja to Nirvikalpa."

Now I do not think that this is in any way going to get me to give up my faith in Jesus! I am not going to experience some sort of 'deconversion" as is being talked about here in TGL in another thread. It has been said that Antony Flew was on a "sojourn" from his atheism to his deism which lasted twenty years. As I mentioned, my sojourn from this experience which convinced me that there is a God, to accepting Jesus as God and as my Saviour, took ten years, and even after my confirmation into the Anglican Church, I am still developing my spirituality and building up my faith. I am trying to present this more intellectual approach in some small way in the threads about Hans Kung. Interestingly again, C. S. Lewis did not immediately accept Jesus after his emotional breakdown which brought him to accept God. He says the move to his Christian faith was more of an intellectual one.

There has been a suggestion in this thread that before we can discuss whether or not God exists, we need some sort of agreed definition of God. Therein, however, surely lies the problem? Those of us who do believe there is a God (monotheism) have very varied ideas about who or what this entity might be. Roy Varghese, who worked with Antony Flew on the book which describes Flew's conversion, had previously edited a collection of essays entitled "The Intellectuals Speak Out About God"! This book is regarded as of primary importance for students of Christian theology (that is pointed out in the book's subtitle) but it appears also that it has much to bear upon the non-Christian religions too. As one reviewer at Amazon puts it:

"I was stunned to read the thoughts of truly brilliant minds about life, death, and the infinite beyond earth".

I will give a further reference from my MEd essay. My post above gives only one small portion of it, its pretentious title was "Theory-laden observation in the learning and teaching of science: implications for individual spirituality"! In it I said that I was reading some of the work of Gordon Kaufman. The following link is to a more recent commentary on him, and it gives some interesting ideas about what we might mean when we use the term God.

"Kaufman says:

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Posted

Now I do not think that this is in any way going to get me to give up my faith in Jesus!

of course not, but there is no need to. according to some belief, Jesus is indeed a manifestation of God, but there are also others, that bring a similar message, in other religions. I dont think that J said that nobody can have direct experience of God, quite the contrary

thanks a lot of all the interesting references to literature

"Kaufman says:

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Posted

Interesting questions Scrier

Consider this. Science tells us that there is mathematical probability of alternate and/or parallel dimensions.

reference?

Take your pick - einstein general theory of relativity, george sparling of pittsburgh university has some interesting mathmatical theory pertaining to this, Henry Tye, a physicist at Cornell University, Kaku, Michio's Introduction to Superstring and M-Theory (2nd edition ed), stepehen hawkins talks about this idea in many of his bookes regarding superstring theory.

I
f we accept this as truth, then what does this mean for our 'god' figure?

that still depends on how you define the figure in the first place, which we still have not done very well

as i stated earlier in my post, i refer to the idea of a christian god, as defined within the religion and the bible. the readily accepted definition of a 'god' figure. i dont wish to get tangled up in semantics and definitions, i know the heideggerarian concepts, and all they do is confuse and go round in circles!

consider this alternative: that there is only one [thing that we call] god, but appears as infinitely multiple, and different each time, due to the nature of this world, and psycho-physical constraints of the average human apparatus

unfortunately, the 'nature of this world' is exactly what would be in question with this concept; we are considering this world as but one in an infinite number of possibilities.

this god cannot be all seeing and all powerful, only one or the other.

why?

again, as stated in my post,

if he is all seeing, he can see all that was, is or ever will be. but if this is the case, then he is powerless to change what will be

if you can see the future (assuming we are considering a linear concept of the timeline which is most readily accepted, though personally i refute), then one cannot change it - the future is as seen. ergo, one cannot change it, one is not 'all powerful'

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Posted

Pgalaxy asks:

"Well, just thinking of the question in the subject line of this thread - can it be answered? Is it tractable in any way?"

I am attracted to this site (TGL) because, I think, we all need to agree as to what it is we are talking about! In the title of this thread, "Does God Exist?" there are two immediate questions. One is already being addressed in this thread, that is, what do we mean by God? The other is, what do we mean by existence? In an attempt to address this second question, I have involved myself in two threads here concerning the theology of Hans Kung, so I will not elaborate, merely to say that I perceive reality (existence?) as uncertain.

Scrier does not want to get involved in semantics and definitions, but this is a philosophy site and I do not think we can talk about anything unless we are agreed, to some extent, what it is that we are talking about, as Pgalaxy has already pointed out. There well may be a need in this thread to agree to a very generalised concept of god (or gods?), or to agree to talk about a particular God. Naturally I am more familiar with the Christian God, but even Hans Kung does his best to distinguish between the "God of the philosophers" and the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" and any god concept in the non-Christian religions, with which I am much less familiar - well, to be honest, probably totally ignorant. Also even within Christianity, both historically and up to the present day, the Deity of Jesus has always been, and is, up for debate! For instance, I have had interesting and sometimes heated exchanges with both Protestants (especially that most conservative, even fundamentalist sect known as the Seventh Day Adventists) and Roman Catholics over whether or not Jesus could have sinned? The SDA and RC are hardly bed-fellows, so where does that leave me!?

This thread was started by someone who is now banned, but I do think, if we stuck to the thread title it is the Christian God to whom we should be referring. I pointed this out since the title of the thread is the same as the title of one of Kung's books. However, the OP has now gone, so it will be interesting to see if we can agree to which god (or gods?) we should be talking about. For me, whatever science comes up with, and I quite like the idea of multiple universes, I will not be shaken from my faith in Jesus, well, not in this universe anyway! A problem I may have to deal with, and I look forward to it with great anticipation, is if, just in this world, we come across extra-terrestrial beings with at least equal intelligence, and a belief in souls, spirits and an after-life. Because at the moment, since I believe we alone were created in God's image, there would appear to be no such others!

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Posted

Ok Scrier and all

lets see if we can progress from here

(I think god is a Koan)

as i stated earlier in my post, i refer to the idea of a christian god, as defined within the religion and the bible. the readily accepted definition of a 'god' figure.

would you be able to point me to what passage in the Bible says what god is?

i think personally that the Bible is not very clear about God at all

there is a big mixup about Judaism and Christianity too

for me god is not' christian', but christianity provides an account of what god is, and suggests some means of how unity with god is to be found

it would be a mistake to mix God with ireligions and beliefs about God, two very separate thing, as the latter is only a means of coming to term with the former, which requires a bit of effort good will and possibly good karma to be in communion with

how do we reconcile the difference beetween what you, scrier, refer to as God (as you say you follow one belief ) with what others, say non christians (that counts many many many others from muslims to hindus to buddhist to various other faiths)?

do you acknowledge that christianity provides a partial version of what God is,

consider this alternative: that there is only one [thing that we call] god, but appears as infinitely multiple, and different each time, due to the nature of this world, and psycho-physical constraints of the average human apparatus

if he is all seeing, he can see all that was, is or ever will be. but if this is the case, then he is powerless to change what will be

if you can see the future (assuming we are considering a linear concept of the timeline which is most readily accepted, though personally i refute), then one cannot change it - the future is as seen. ergo, one cannot change it, one is not 'all powerful'

i think you spot the caveat yourself, to make your assertion above 'true' you would have to ignore the fact that time is relative, and non linear and the lot

I personally think that your problem in understanding God lies with the fact that (correct me if wrong)

a) you are associating the notion of God to some partial account of what God is, and therefore you see the inconsistencies and conclude that its nonsense

B) since you havent worked out what God is, since its possibly beyond our ability to conceptualise any such thing, and since you dont seem to benefit from proper spiritual guidance, er,, then you dont know what to make ot if

I am not quite clear whether you think god exists or not

I suspect I may have to drop this conversation again

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Posted

Pgalaxy,

You'll have to excuse me, I'm rather new here, but not new at all on the questions of the existence of God.

You wrote:

it would be a mistake to mix God with ireligions and beliefs about God, two very separate thing, as the latter is only a means of coming to term with the former, which requires a bit of effort good will and possibly good karma to be in communion with

The problem with this line of thinking is that without religions and beliefs about God, there is no evidence for God's existence. Nothing can be scientifically adduced about God as a natural phenomenon. Therefore we have to rely on "religious experiences" and "beliefs" to get us to reach that conclusion. (Some say logic, but I've yet to find anything that was remotely logical in supporting God, though perhaps I will be corrected on this at some point in the future.)

That the God debate is a non-topic in scientific discussion (i.e. it can only be deduced through reasoning with ourselves and each other and not by measuring it) already places the burden of proof on those who posit the God hypothesis. Therefore the reason that God does not exist is that no evidence has come forth to make us logically think that God would exist.

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That the God debate is a non-topic in scientific discussion (i.e. it can only be deduced through reasoning with ourselves and each other and not by measuring it) already places the burden of proof on those who posit the God hypothesis. Therefore the reason that God does not exist is that no evidence has come forth to make us logically think that God would exist.

We believe much of what we believe because people we trust tell us that it is true. Historical accounts (which, I assume, you and I both "believe") or eye witness testimony are not so very different from the Gospels or the Old Testament. Why does one constitute "evidence", and the other constitute "no evidence"? Should we exclude eye witness testimony from courts of law?

Also, you have made a logical error. We cannot assume that God does not exist because there is no evidence that He does exist. Even if we accept the premise that there is no evidence for God's existance, we could not logically conclude from that premise that God does not exist. "Evidence" affects our beliefs, but it does not affect reality. It is possible for something for which we have no evidence to be true.

In the case of God, however, there is plenty of evidence, including, but not limited to: first person accounts, written records of miracles, personal accounts of revelation, etc., etc. The evidence may not be persuasive TO US, but it certainly exists.

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Hello, BDS.

We believe much of what we believe because people we trust tell us that it is true. Historical accounts (which, I assume, you and I both "believe") or eye witness testimony are not so very different from the Gospels or the Old Testament. Why does one constitute "evidence", and the other constitute "no evidence"? Should we exclude eye witness testimony from courts of law?

I believe you have created a strawman here. To begin, I do not "believe" all historical accounts (which is what you implied). For example, I do not believe that Vespasian cured a man's blindness with spit, nor do I believe Josephus' Antiquitates Iudaicae is accurate either. Texts from Sumer and Akkad describing the thousand-year-long reigns of their Kings and the account of Romulus and his divine capture into the heavens are likewise equally incredible to me.

So no - I do not "believe" all historical accounts. Rather, what is best is to deconstruct texts and subject them to scrutiny to see what we can get from them and how reliable that is. Part of that deconstruction is determining things like genre or authorial intent, for example. The Iliad is an epic poem, and we should not take the events which happened therein to be historical, even if they were based on history. Likewise, The Revelation of John is part of apocalyptic literature, and is likewise not actually predicting what is supposed to happen 2000+ years later.

The gospels are iffy - they are not part of ancient historical literature, but there is some debate. I've read and found unconvincing Burridge's What Are the Gospels, and sympathise with John Vine's placement of Mark in Jewish narrative literature.

If anything, the way Matthew and Luke use (or abuse if going by modern standards) his source, Mark, should be telling that this is not historical eyewitness accounts (the debunking of Richard Baukham's book Jesus and the Eyewitness by many reviewers and a panel at SBL 2007 is indicative of such) .

Also, you have made a logical error. We cannot assume that God does not exist because there is no evidence that He does exist.

Here I think you're wrong. We should assume that God does not exist if there is no evidence for its existence. This does not mean that in reality God does not exist, but it would be illogical for us to assume that he does. I personally think that a statement of agnosticism is sheer diplomacy rather than an actual intellectual position. Being agnostic on God with no evidence for its existence is equivalent to being agnostic on unicorns, giant bunny rabbits on Mars, an invisible dragon under your bed, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They may exist, but, like God, they likely do not.

Even if we accept the premise that there is no evidence for God's existance, we could not logically conclude from that premise that God does not exist. "Evidence" affects our beliefs, but it does not affect reality. It is possible for something for which we have no evidence to be true.

See above.

In the case of God, however, there is plenty of evidence, including, but not limited to: first person accounts, written records of miracles, personal accounts of revelation, etc., etc. The evidence may not be persuasive TO US, but it certainly exists.

By evidence I meant scientific evidence.

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