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Does God have the right qualifications?

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If God qualifies as God by being supernatural, how does that work? There are two different meanings that can be given to the word supernatural, but both of them self-destruct when you investigate them properly. The first is akin to magic (of the Harry Potter variety as opposed to mere conjuring tricks) - this leads to the problem that God cannot run on magic powers which he doesn't understand, and if he understands the full mechanisms behind them, they are no longer magic, and as soon as the magic has gone, God's certification goes up in flames. The second meaning of supernatural is a higher level of reality of some kind in which God can understand everything such that it is all "natural" to him, but not to us. This idea also falls apart, because it's simply a different level of the same nature as the one in which we reside, so there is no "super" about that kind of "supernatural" because the word itself is an incoherent concept.

If God isn't supernatural, how is he anything more special than a powerful, natural alien being? He would have been created through some natural process and is in his position of most powerful being in existence through nothing more than luck. Is that something anyone should worship?

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I'm no expert, but it seems to me that God is the "uncreated" being (according to Christian theology). He's supernatural because he transcends nature, which He created. He always existed.

I'll grant that this is a difficult concept, but I don't think it's incoherent.

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I'm no expert, but it seems to me that God is the "uncreated" being (according to Christian theology). He's supernatural because he transcends nature, which He created. He always existed.

I'll grant that this is a difficult concept, but I don't think it's incoherent.

Well, there are a number of problems there. If he always existed, he didn't create the powers by which he functions. If he created nature out of nothing, he would have had to do so by using magic powers, because it isn't possible to make anything out of nothing (the nothing out of which the universe was made was not nothing, but rather something described by zeros in the language of mathematics). There's also the issue of how this God could have total knowledge of everything without ever having less than that total knowledge or less processing capacity - this God that religious people propose is not an evolved natural creature, but a highly complex machine which was never less than perfect in its design (which would be necessary for it to be fully intelligent). Such a being would have to be thoroughly supernatural in the magic sense in that it's an extremely advanced information system which was never created, an extremely advanced system of representation which never had to be set up. There is no rational way for such a thing to exist without being built piece by piece through a process of some kind such as evolution.

How did he create nature? Out of nothing? How can he react with something which is of a different nature from his own? If two things can interact, they are necessarily of the same nature because they would be incapable of interacting otherwise, so anything God creates will have to exist within the same nature as God. If I created a virtual world with artificial intelligences in it, they might have no way of detecting my existence and might determine from the evidence they see through their virtual eyes that their world must have been created by a god, but they would be wrong - I can't turn myself into a god by creating a new kind of nature, and the reality is in any case that it isn't a new kind of nature at all as it's the self-same nature that I exist in. God is in exactly the same position, and he can't use magic as a get-out clause: any use of magic would require that magic to be beyond his understanding, and if there's anything beyond his understanding, he can't be God.

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How did he create nature? Out of nothing? How can he react with something which is of a different nature from his own?

Why are you so sure god is completely of different form our universe? Just because he is supernatural does not exclude the possibility of being partly material/ natural. Christian Theology supports this assumption with the statement that man was created after god (and man definitely is part of nature).

... and the reality is in any case that it isn't a new kind of nature at all as it's the self-same nature that I exist in. God is in exactly the same position, and he can't use magic as a get-out clause: any use of magic would require that magic to be beyond his understanding, and if there's anything beyond his understanding, he can't be God.

I'm glad I read this part twice. Suppose I set up a terrarium for my snakes. Even though it is part of our universe I created it and the snakes (if I close the lid) cannot escape it and can experience only little from the world outside. So in a first approximation of their world they would experience only their terrarium. In a second approximation they might consider myself as a mighty being, because I bring food and water from time to time. Only after hard considerations they might come up with the model that the whole world is also outside their terrarium, but to what scientific justification?

If God isn't supernatural, how is he anything more special than a powerful, natural alien being? He would have been created through some natural process and is in his position of most powerful being in existence through nothing more than luck. Is that something anyone should worship?

Let me remind you of South America in the 1950ies with its ambitions to develop independently from Northern America. I am not saying that everything changed due to the CIA, but it definitely had its tentacles in there. What I want to say is that an existing mighty being in your neighborhood could be a definite reason to be on "good terms" with it, where the definition of "good terms" will mainly depend on the fantasy of the mighty being, for example the 10 commandments of Christian mythology, sorry religion.

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I'll grant that this is a difficult concept, but I don't think it's incoherent.

I meant to comment on this: it's the word "supernatural" that's incoherent (if we take it to mean "above nature" rather than referring to magic). If it's above nature, then it isn't nature, and if it isn't nature it can't interact with nature. Nature can't just begin at some arbitrary division between different levels of reality if those two levels interact with each other: their relationship shows that they are clearly both of the same nature, with one being a subset of the other but contained entirely within it. Even if there is another kind of reality altogether which is incapable of interacting with the one we are part of, it still won't be supernatural, but rather othernatural. There may be many othernaturals, but all of them are subsets of natural. Our subset may contain a number of levels, so there could be a higher level with a creator in it, but that creator can only be an alien being and not a god.

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That depends on how we define "natural". God is supposedly "supernatural" because He created the natural world of which we are a part, and of which we are aware, but is not a part of that world or bound by its laws. I don't see the contradiction. Of course if we define "natural" as "everything that exists" then God can't both exist and be "othernatural".

As far as whether it "isn't possible to create something out of nothing" -- how do you know? It isn't possible give the known laws of nature, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible supernaturally.

Of course I'll grant that in general the word "supernatural" means "something we don't understand in terms of the natural world." I'm not sure what we mean be "natural", though. In my dictionary one definition is, "conforming to the usual or expected course of nature (as in a "natural death")". "Super natural" simply means (in general usage) "occurring through some agency beyond the known forces of nature." So a powerful alien qualifies -- until we learn more about him, at which point he fits into the "known" forces of nature.

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Why are you so sure god is completely of different form our universe? Just because he is supernatural does not exclude the possibility of being partly material/ natural. Christian Theology supports this assumption with the statement that man was created after god (and man definitely is part of nature).

I'm not trying to push God into being made of anything particular, but rather to work out what limitations there are on what he could be and to see if there are any implications that result which may impact on his status as a god. If he is supernatural (meaning magic), he cannot understand the magic that he runs on and he is therefore disqualified from being God. If he is supernatural (meaning "above nature"), then he is deluded because that kind of supernatural is an incoherent concept. If he is othernatural, he is stuck in a subcategory of the natural which cannot interact with any other subcategory of the natural, not even through a go-between because such a go-between would immediately render the whole idea of othernatural as ridiculous - it only works if the only link to the whole class of natural things (the outernatural) is mere existence. If God resides in a higher level of the natural and decides to call it supernatural, then he's fust playing word games - he is in the same nature as we are, but by luck of position has access to controls which we cannot reach: he is a powerful alien, and he fancies himself if he thinks that makes him superior to the point that he can call himself a god.

Suppose I set up a terrarium for my snakes. Even though it is part of our universe I created it and the snakes (if I close the lid) cannot escape it and can experience only little from the world outside. So in a first approximation of their world they would experience only their terrarium. In a second approximation they might consider myself as a mighty being, because I bring food and water from time to time. Only after hard considerations they might come up with the model that the whole world is also outside their terrarium, but to what scientific justification?

If they know that you're interacting with them, they have more evidence to go on than we have about God, so it's easy for them to determine that there is something outside their box. It's also easy for you to work out that you are not a god, but merely a zoo keeper. If the snakes were intelligent, you wouldn't ask them to pray to you and worship you as a god, but you'd just tell them that you're a zoo keeper and their friend, and they would thank you for all the dead rodents and ask you questions about the outer world.

If God isn't supernatural, how is he anything more special than a powerful, natural alien being? He would have been created through some natural process and is in his position of most powerful being in existence through nothing more than luck. Is that something anyone should worship?

Let me remind you of South America in the 1950ies with its ambitions to develop independently from Northern America. I am not saying that everything changed due to the CIA, but it definitely had its tentacles in there. What I want to say is that an existing mighty being in your neighborhood could be a definite reason to be on "good terms" with it, where the definition of "good terms" will mainly depend on the fantasy of the mighty being, for example the 10 commandments of Christian mythology, sorry religion.

It would be hard not to blame the CIA - their job was to destroy and prevent democracy all round the world wherever they could get away with it. There could be a psychopathic, powerful alien being up there who may be mentally ill and who therefore demands that we should follow one of a large number of daft religions and go through the motions to keep him on side, but clearly that isn't a god.

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Posted (edited)

That depends on how we define "natural". God is supposedly "supernatural" because He created the natural world of which we are a part, and of which we are aware, but is not a part of that world or bound by its laws. I don't see the contradiction. Of course if we define "natural" as "everything that exists" then God can't both exist and be "othernatural".

People tend to get stuck on definitions, so it's important to understand that the idea of God creating nature is not the right way to define the word. Science is the study of nature (think about the names of the big science journals: Science, and Nature), so imagine what would happen if God appeared in a lab and chained himself to a desk. Would the scientists study him and try to work out what he is and how he works, or would they just declare that because he's supernatural he goes beyond their remit and walk out of the room? Science will study anything that it can detect, and anything that can be detected is automatically part of nature. I go back to the issue of the virtual world that I could create in the memory of a computer. The artificial intelligences in that virtual world might call the virtual world natural and they might speculate about the existence of a creator in a supernatural realm outside, but that creator is me, and I'm within nature too - they are just within a subset of nature, or within a subset of the subset of nature that I am in, but we're all inside nature. It would be no different for a "god".

As far as whether it "isn't possible to create something out of nothing" -- how do you know? It isn't possible give the known laws of nature, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible supernaturally.

Anything that's made 100% out of nothing quite simply cannot exist, so all God can do is make stuff out of stuff that already exists. The alternative would be to use magic, but he's not allowed to do that as it disqualifies himself. Just supposing at his level of nature the laws are so weird that he can make something out of nothing, what he would be doing in creating us would be completely natural and unexciting in his realm, so he would just be a bog-ordinary builder, no doubt displaying a couple of inches of ass crack like any other builder.

Of course I'll grant that in general the word "supernatural" means "something we don't understand in terms of the natural world." I'm not sure what we mean be "natural", though. In my dictionary one definition is, "conforming to the usual or expected course of nature (as in a "natural death")". "Super natural" simply means (in general usage) "occurring through some agency beyond the known forces of nature." So a powerful alien qualifies -- until we learn more about him, at which point he fits into the "known" forces of nature.

Exactly: as soon as he understands any process, it automatically becomes natural and his qualifications are shown to be false. It's also important to recognise that dictionary definitions of words merely reflect the ways in which words are used - lexicographers are not expert philosophers or logicians, and it is not their place to determine whether contorversial concepts are coherent.

Edited by David Cooper

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Imaginary things are created out of nothing (or at least no physical substance), yet they "exist" (in a sense, at least). At least, they're not incoherent. We can talk sensibly about Hamlet. Of course, the way you are using "supernatural" you are correct that God's existance must be natural TO HIM (or from His perspective). However, it can still be supernatural to us -- just as "metaphysics" is "super-physical". It's beyond the realm of physics as we know it, and cannot be studied by physicists using their normal methods and means. Of course God IS studied by scientists using different methods and means -- they're called "theologians".

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Posted

Imaginary things are created out of nothing (or at least no physical substance), yet they "exist" (in a sense, at least). At least, they're not incoherent. We can talk sensibly about Hamlet. Of course, the way you are using "supernatural" you are correct that God's existance must be natural TO HIM (or from His perspective). However, it can still be supernatural to us -- just as "metaphysics" is "super-physical". It's beyond the realm of physics as we know it, and cannot be studied by physicists using their normal methods and means. Of course God IS studied by scientists using different methods and means -- they're called "theologians".

The data describing imaginary things does exist, but the unicorns and fairies themselves do not. Hamlet is data. To say that God is natural to himself and supernatural to us is not good enough - if he's natural to himself, he isn't a god to himself, and that isn't affected by our misperception of him as a god or our failure to recognise that the supernatural as actually just a higher level of the natural (or in computer speak, a lower level as in more fundamental). If God appeared and interacted with us, we could study the interactions: does air go through him or bounce off him, does he emit sound waves, does he emit or reflect photons, etc. He could be studied. He also promises in most religions to take us into his own realm to live with him some day, if we conform to certain rules, so we'll be able to study him scientifically then. He is already able to study himself scientifically and has to do so to understand himself: he must study his own nature, and that is part of the same nature that our universe would need to reside in if he was to have any connection with it.

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The data describing imaginary things does exist, but the unicorns and fairies themselves do not.

Clap your hands, everyone! Be quick about it!

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It looks like you're applying attributes to God in order to suit your argument. I'm confused as to how the laws of nature must imply to the supernatural and/or to an entity that is above and beyond the universe (nature, time, space, physics, etc).

Your initial question seems to be based on a straw-man, as I know of no religion that says God is God because He is supernatural. Now, being supernatural is one of the attributes of God (although I think a discussion on what it means to be supernatural is necessary before we go much further with this), but it is also an attribute of werewolves, fairies, trolls, etc. In short, it is not simply the supernatural aspect of God that makes Him God.

There are assumptions in this thread that I've not heard from any theist or theologian. For example, the idea that God is just a guy in another realm with a host of other Gods with him building houses, paying taxes, eating burgers, etc. with the God who made the universe being somebody who can wolf-whistle and show off his crack is a concept I doubt I'll find outside this thread. I am also somewhat bemused how the thread started with talk about God in the monotheistic sense, but then it moved onto god in the sense I described above.

If God is not a God to himself, but is a God to us, so what? If his powers are astounding to us but don't surprise him, well, why not call him God? I wouldn't expect an omnipotent, omniscient being to be astounded or surprised by his ability to create a universe out of nothing.

Finally, your last post talks about how, if God came and interacted with us, he would have to be able to interact with the natural world in some way, and to do that he would have to be (at least partially) naturally. To this, I ask why can something that is supernatural not interact with the natural?

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The data describing imaginary things does exist, but the unicorns and fairies themselves do not.

I'd e more cautious there.You have no evidence that unicorn and fairies do not exist, that does not mean (under open world assumption)

that they dont exist, rather that you havent seen the evidence for it. LOL

I am not even tempted a bit to reply to this (deliberately provocative?) thread, since the ignorance of humans of divine affairs is there for a reason.

:nerd::fencing:

meditate more deeply to see more clearly #haiku

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It looks like you're applying attributes to God in order to suit your argument. I'm confused as to how the laws of nature must imply to the supernatural and/or to an entity that is above and beyond the universe (nature, time, space, physics, etc).

I'm simply trying to find out if anyone can provide God with any qualifications which would justify him giving himself such a grand title, because it looks to me as if he can be nothing more exciting than a powerful alien. Where is the evidence that he is special to the point that we should accept his claim that he is a god?

Your initial question seems to be based on a straw-man, as I know of no religion that says God is God because He is supernatural. Now, being supernatural is one of the attributes of God (although I think a discussion on what it means to be supernatural is necessary before we go much further with this), but it is also an attribute of werewolves, fairies, trolls, etc. In short, it is not simply the supernatural aspect of God that makes Him God.

Imagine that I am a being which happens to exist and that I happen to have available to me the means to create universes and to populate them with living things. Does that make me God? No, it just makes me a powerful being who has that power by luck, and from the point of view of all the living things in those universes which I create, I am just a powerful alien creature outside their universe. I would not be stupid enough to consider that my luck of position made me superior to all the living things that I create or so vain as to pronounce myself "God". God needs to be more than just a powerful alien creature to qualify as God, so what is that special qualification which he needs? He isn't just an alien being, but he's supernatural - that's the normal answer. If you have an alternative suggestion as to how he can qualify as God, I'd love to hear it. As for the supernatural, there are two ways of interpreting the word, as I have already pointed out, the first being that it equates to magic (which doesn't work as a qualification because it can only be magic so long as it is not understood, and God has to understand everything if he is to qualify as God), and the second being the incoherent concept of "above nature".

There are assumptions in this thread that I've not heard from any theist or theologian. For example, the idea that God is just a guy in another realm with a host of other Gods with him building houses, paying taxes, eating burgers, etc. with the God who made the universe being somebody who can wolf-whistle and show off his crack is a concept I doubt I'll find outside this thread. I am also somewhat bemused how the thread started with talk about God in the monotheistic sense, but then it moved onto god in the sense I described above.

You seem to have brought the other gods along yourself, because so far I haven't discussed the issue of there being more than one powerful being in the top level of nature. Perhaps you could quote the bit where I gave him all these friends?

If God is not a God to himself, but is a God to us, so what? If his powers are astounding to us but don't surprise him, well, why not call him God? I wouldn't expect an omnipotent, omniscient being to be astounded or surprised by his ability to create a universe out of nothing.

In which case, what's his silly title worth: we can all qualify as gods on the same basis by being stronger and cleverer than dumb animals, or artificial intelligences in a virtual world which we could create. It's just luck of position that gives certain beings more power or intelligence, so is a cheetah a god by dint of the fact it can outrun us? Are birds gods because they can out-fly us? Are we gods because we can outthink all the other species on our planet? Perhaps it only applies if you isolate them from yourself and contain them in such a way that you can play silly tricks on them which they'll never be able to work out, but it's just that: silly tricks. It's not a qualification for being God.

Finally, your last post talks about how, if God came and interacted with us, he would have to be able to interact with the natural world in some way, and to do that he would have to be (at least partially) naturally. To this, I ask why can something that is supernatural not interact with the natural?

Again it comes down to the supernatural being an incoherent concept. If you can interact with something, it is automatically part of the same system, and that system is nature. Two things of a totally different nature (not actually possible, but I have to discuss it as if it is to show that it is invalid) can have no mechanisms for interacting. Dark matter, if we just assume for the minute that it exists, is clearly part of the same nature as us because it interacts with us gravitationally. If it didn't and there was no other way of detecting it, it would be impossible for us to know that it existed, and yet it could still exist. If it existed inside the universe, then it would have to be interacting with the universe in order to occupy part of the universe, so it would necessarily be part of the same nature as the universe itself and everything else in the universe. If it was not interacting with the universe in any way, then it could not be in the universe - it would lack the means to have a location within space and time. Even so, it would still be part of nature just by existing, but it would be in a different subset of nature separate from ours. You can argue amongst yourself whether it could be seen as a totally separate nature or if the very fact of existing automatically puts everything that exists into the same nature, but that is unimportant to the discussion of God. All that matters in this argument about God is that if he can interact with our universe, he is automatically part of the same nature. If I create a virtual world within the memory of a computer, the artificial intelligences within it have no way of detecting the external reality, but they are actually interacting with the external realm, and indeed all their functionality depends one hundred percent upon it. What they do and think is all visible to me, so they are interacting with me, and I can pick all this up because I and the virtual world both reside within nature - they are not separate. It doesn't matter how separate the virtual world might feel from inside it, the whole thing is an illusion. From the outside, the truth is obvious, and it's exactly the same for "God": he has created our universe within the nature in which he resides, and he's done it by methods which any intelligent alien in the same position could have done. The only way for the nature we inhabit to be separate from the one "God" inhabits would be for there to be no means of communication in either direction between the two and no causal relationship either, which is incompatible with the idea of "God" creating it in the first place (and even then you have to argue that the two things can both exist without any connection being put in place by the fact of them both existing).

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The data describing imaginary things does exist, but the unicorns and fairies themselves do not.

I'd e more cautious there.You have no evidence that unicorn and fairies do not exist, that does not mean (under open world assumption)

that they dont exist, rather that you havent seen the evidence for it. LOL

Yes, I did make an assumption there - while God can't exist, it isn't certain that unicorns and fairies don't, but the point is that if we define a zax as being anything with wings that doesn't exist, we then have a real word, which is real data, that represents things that do not exist. Having a name for something and defined qualities of that thing do not make it exist in any way, but the data describing this imaginary thing is absolutely real.

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If I understand David correctly, God cannot exist. However, a practically all-powerful and almost all-knowing alien who calls himself God, whom we call God, and who created the known universe can exist.

It's a distinction without a difference.

I also think you're overthinking the "supernatural" incoherence. The word simply sugggests "beyond the known rules of nature and natural order" -- and once it does, it becomes perfectly coherent.

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In which case, what's his silly title worth: we can all qualify as gods on the same basis by being stronger and cleverer than dumb animals, or artificial intelligences in a virtual world which we could create. It's just luck of position that gives certain beings more power or intelligence, so is a cheetah a god by dint of the fact it can outrun us? Are birds gods because they can out-fly us? Are we gods because we can outthink all the other species on our planet? Perhaps it only applies if you isolate them from yourself and contain them in such a way that you can play silly tricks on them which they'll never be able to work out, but it's just that: silly tricks. It's not a qualification for being God.

The significant words in my last post were "omniscient" and "omnipotent."

Anyway, here's how my dictionary defines god.

god n. 1 A supernatural being, who is worshipped as the controller of some part of the universe or some aspect of life in the world or is the personification of some force. 2 An image, idol, or symbolic representation of such a deity. 3 Any person or thing to which excessive attention is given: money was his god 4 A man who has qualities regarded as making him superior to other men. 5 (pl) The gallery of a theatre. [OE god

And supernatural

Supernatural adj. 1 Of or relating to things that cannot be explained according to natural laws. 2 Of or caused as if by a god; miraculous. 3 Of or involving occult beings. 4 Exceeding the ordinary; abnormal. ~n

Considering the first definition of supernatural, I wonder if attempts to argue about the nature of God, or to prove or disprove his existence using logic and a demonstration of the natural laws is ultimately futile.

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If I understand David correctly, God cannot exist. However, a practically all-powerful and almost all-knowing alien who calls himself God, whom we call God, and who created the known universe can exist.

It's a distinction without a difference.

Yes, but a big rock that we mistake for a god is not actually a god. A creator who cannot be detected from within his creation cannot turn himself into a god by making that creation, so his ability to build things is not a valid qualification for being God. A powerful alien is just a powerful alien. A being that knows everything is just a being that knows everything, and he could theoretically pass his knowledge on to another being. A being that is all powerful could put all his power in the hands of another being. The fact remains that this alien being at the top is in that position purely by luck - it is not to his credit that he is there and that he has all that knowledge and power. He needs more than that to qualify as God, because otherwise he's just a powerful alien. He may be powerful enough to restore life to the dead and reconstruct their appearance and memory within his own level of nature, but that's just a powerful alien doing powerful things. We should call a spade a spade and not declare it to be divine unless we can spell out what the supposed difference is. Why should I admire this being and consider it to be superior? Should I also look at a handicapped person and consider myself superior on the basis that he is less functional than I am?

I also think you're overthinking the "supernatural" incoherence. The word simply sugggests "beyond the known rules of nature and natural order" -- and once it does, it becomes perfectly coherent.

But it is not beyond the known rules of nature and natural order from the point of view of "God", so in absolute terms the word "supernatural" is not beyond anything of the kind. The concept self-destructs, and it does so no matter how you try to define it. If we define two things as being different from each other on the basis that one of them is behind the other, we then find that our definition doesn't work when we look from the other side. You have to be very careful when you use these kinds of words in definitions because what is behind from one position is not behind from another. If you take nature as being everything that exists, and that should be the real definition of the word, then you have "God" within that set (if he isn't in that set, he doesn't exist), and then you can have subsets within that set such as universes. We are in a subset of nature, but because the subset is in nature, we are in nature too. "God" is not in our subset, but he is still within nature. Religious people, along with philosophers influenced by them, have decided to restrict the meaning of the word "nature" to the subset of nature that is our universe, and they've misnamed the outer set as supernatural. We should not be blinded by the badly-formed words made up by the ancients and to make logical errors as a result. You need to throw away the primitive dictionaries and adress the argument using rational descriptions, because if we don't, as soon as I create a virtual world and populate it with artificial intelligences, lo and behold they make the same mistake as you and declare the virtual world as they see it to be "nature" and promote the outer world which they cannot detect to being "supernatural". That's why the word fails: things are supernatural from one perspective and natural from another, just as a thing can be behind something from one perspective and not behind it from another.

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The significant words in my last post were "omniscient" and "omnipotent."

Well, it isn't to his credit that he is either of those things - they could have been properties of me instead, and if they had, that wouldn't be to my credit either, so I wouldn't be posing as a god.

Anyway, here's how my dictionary defines god.

What faith you have in lexicographers!

god n. 1 A supernatural being, who is worshipped as the controller of some part of the universe or some aspect of life in the world or is the personification of some force.

The computer I'm typing into is the controller of some part of the universe. Should I consider it to be a god if some mad person comes along and starts to worship it as the contoller of some part of the universe? Ditto for the aspect of life stuff. Electricity is a sparky chap - I've just turned it into a god!

2 An image, idol, or symbolic representation of such a deity.

The madman picks up a stone and decides that it represents his deity, therefore the stone becomes a god.

3 Any person or thing to which excessive attention is given: money was his god

This meaning of god is metaphorical.

4 A man who has qualities regarded as making him superior to other men.

Metaphorical again, unless you think that any kind of superiority makes something more divine.

5 (pl) The gallery of a theatre. [OE god

I think everyone can see that this one's irrelevant.

And supernatural

Supernatural adj. 1 Of or relating to things that cannot be explained according to natural laws.

This comes out of a false division of the true natural into "natural" and "supernatural".

2 Of or caused as if by a god; miraculous.

Which depends on god's existing, but logic rules that out. Maybe logic's false, but then you have to declare that you are irrational, and by being irrational you can declare youself to be rational as well, because even though you aren't, you are!

3 Of or involving occult beings. 4 Exceeding the ordinary; abnormal. ~n

All based on not understanding things or believing in things that don't exist.

Considering the first definition of supernatural, I wonder if attempts to argue about the nature of God, or to prove or disprove his existence using logic and a demonstration of the natural laws is ultimately futile.

No, because you have to justify that definition and show that the division of true natural into "natural" and "supernatural" makes sense, but it clearly doesn't, as I've pointed out in my previous post. Dictionary definitions, as Hugo points out in his philosophy course, do not have the final say on philosophical arguments. You have to work with the words as they are defined within the argument or show that those definitions are wrong and that the dictionary ones are right (which you won't be able to do).

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The significant words in my last post were "omniscient" and "omnipotent."

Well, it isn't to his credit that he is either of those things - they could have been properties of me instead, and if they had, that wouldn't be to my credit either, so I wouldn't be posing as a god.

Pardon? How would being all-knowing and all-powerful not be to anybody's credit? As to the rest of the above, it's just a what-if speculation.

As to the dictionary definitions, I was just providing some alternatives from a dictionary on my shelf -I have more with different definitions- because I think you are being too hasty (and over-confident) with your definitions of god and the supernatural. I should probably mention now that I find the term "abnormal" to be somewhat meaningless. I also think you were too hasty with your rejection of the first definition of supernatural, which is one I have no problem with (and I'm sure there will be many others who don't, but I don't wish to hold myself to such a suggestion without evidence). As regards your answer to the first definition of god, your computer is not supernatural.

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I'll grant that IF we define nature as everything that exists, then nothing can "exist" that is not part of nature. But so what? It is you, not the rest of us, who is obsessing over defintions. An all powerful alien, you claim, cannot be God. Why not? Can Zeus be a God? He isn't even very powerful, by deified standards, and he didn't create the universe. All you are doing is saying that IF we define God in a particular way, and IF we define Supernatural in a particular way, then God cannot exist. So what? What if nobody defines them in those particular ways?

Also, I don't see why it matters whether something is "natural" TO God. When we talk about supernatural occurences, were are suggesting they seem supernatural to us -- nobody, generally, suggests that there is NO explanation for them in examining everything that exists (which is how you define nature). Was Zeus "supernatural"? I don't know -- he certainly wasn't VERY supernatural, I mean, those lightening bolts he kept chucking about did exist, didn't they?

By the way, I'd suggest that a big rock that we mistake for God, and that created the universe and is all-knowing, IS God. At least, the term "God" seems at least as informative and descriptive as the term "big rock".

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Well, it isn't to his credit that he is either of those things - they could have been properties of me instead, and if they had, that wouldn't be to my credit either, so I wouldn't be posing as a god.

Pardon? How would being all-knowing and all-powerful not be to anybody's credit?

Are you to blame if you're born without legs? Is it to you're credit if you're born with a fantastic mind? You can call this either way and I don't mind, but I'm not going to regard anything as divine until that word has a worthwhile meaning. The only meaning I can find for it is that it means supernatural, and that concept is incoherent.

As to the rest of the above, it's just a what-if speculation.

It's called a reasoned argument which comes out of my AI work. You don't appear to have read it carefully, as shown by that weird bit you came out with about multiple gods living in the top realm which I had never mentioned.

As to the dictionary definitions, I was just providing some alternatives from a dictionary on my shelf -I have more with different definitions- because I think you are being too hasty (and over-confident) with your definitions of god and the supernatural. I should probably mention now that I find the term "abnormal" to be somewhat meaningless.

I haven't used the word "abnormal" either in this thread until this sentence. My definitions come out of my linguistics work where arguments have to be based on coherent concepts instead of the incoherent piles of pants found in ordinary dictionaries. You are making the classic mistake of limiting your thinking by boxing it in with incoherent terms backed by dictionary definitions. To discuss an issue properly you have to get beyond the limitations of natural language and look at the actual meanings. You can then build a correct technical vocabulary to discuss the subject properly.

I also think you were too hasty with your rejection of the first definition of supernatural, which is one I have no problem with (and I'm sure there will be many others who don't, but I don't wish to hold myself to such a suggestion without evidence). As regards your answer to the first definition of god, your computer is not supernatural.

Indeed the computer is not supernatural, and that's the point - it shows the definition to be ridiculous because it can qualify as a god on the basis of that definition. If you have no problem with that definition, you should not be telling me that my computer is not supernatural, unless you're doing so on the basis that no one has yet worshiped it as a god, but believe me that can be arranged.

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I'll grant that IF we define nature as everything that exists, then nothing can "exist" that is not part of nature. But so what? It is you, not the rest of us, who is obsessing over defintions.

If the definitions are done correctly, the argument works. If the definitions are wrong, nothing useful is generated from them: just religions. It is important to get the definitions right because if they aren't right, they're wrong. When I say a definition has to be right, it doesn't qualify as being right on the basis that the argument works when the definition is formed in a particular way. It is determined as being right when it is shown to be right independent of the argument that is then based partly upon it. In the case of "supernatural" and "natural", the dictionary definitions fall apart. My definitions do not because they have been thought out properly.

An all powerful alien, you claim, cannot be God. Why not?

Because it's just a powerful alien - if the title "God" doesn't add anything useful to that, why's the title so damned important to religious people?

Can Zeus be a God? He isn't even very powerful, by deified standards, and he didn't create the universe.

Describe Zeus and tell me what makes him a god.

All you are doing is saying that IF we define God in a particular way, and IF we define Supernatural in a particular way, then God cannot exist. So what? What if nobody defines them in those particular ways?

If you want to define them in incoherent ways and then argue that they can exist, that's fine - you'll just be wrong and not understand that you're wrong. For those who seek understanding, it's important to take a step beyond that and to try to eliminate incoherent concepts from the foundations of the ideas they then base upon them. What I have done is show that supernatural is an incoherent concept which therefore cannot be validly used as one of God's qualifications. That is why examining definitions is vital if you are to escape from the mire of the sloppy thinking which has given philosophy such a bad name. Real philosophy is a rigorous science.

Also, I don't see why it matters whether something is "natural" TO God.

That in itself shows up the artificial constraints which people put on the word "nature" when they count it as just the things created by God: we can talk about God's nature, but he shouldn't have one if you artificially restrict the use of the word. That means you have to discuss his "supernature" instead, but all you do by following that route is tie yourself up in knots where you have to use different words to describe exactly the same thing at a multitude of possible levels of reality.

When we talk about supernatural occurences, were are suggesting they seem supernatural to us -- nobody, generally, suggests that there is NO explanation for them in examining everything that exists (which is how you define nature).

I can perform "supernatural" acts within the virtual world which I control in my computer, but are they genuinely supernatural? If tthey aren't supernatural at my level or reality, I am not a supernatural being. If I then tell the artificial intelligences how I performed all my tricks, they will suddenly realise that I am not supernatural and that the things I did which appeared to break the laws of nature didn't break the laws of nature at all. They'll also realise that the real laws of nature are the ones at a higher level (though now that the spell has been broken they will no longer see it as a higher level) and they'll see that the virtual laws of nature which they thought were the only laws of nature are actually just a whole lot of silly rules I made up and put into my program code to control the virtual world.

Was Zeus "supernatural"? I don't know -- he certainly wasn't VERY supernatural, I mean, those lightening bolts he kept chucking about did exist, didn't they?

Cheap tricks - I can play Zeus in my virtual world.

By the way, I'd suggest that a big rock that we mistake for God, and that created the universe and is all-knowing, IS God. At least, the term "God" seems at least as informative and descriptive as the term "big rock".

If it's just a big rock, calling it God adds nothing to that meaning. If it's a rock that created the universe and is all-knowing, then it's a much more complex thing: it's an all-knowing rock that created a subset of nature by closing it in in such a way that the inhabitants of that universe couldn't see out. What does adding the "god" title add to that? It's a powerful creature made of rock that happens to be in a position from which it can know everything and control everything. That isn't something I'm going to bother worshiping, and nor is it something that would care to be worshiped - it is just another natural creature like any one of us. Yes, it's a powerful, and that's awesome, just as a cheetah is awesome or Gary Kasparov is awesome, but it isn't a jot more divine than any gnat.

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You're reading more into the meaning of "God" than religious people do. If a super-powerful Alien who created the world is called "God", it is because we puny humans deem him worthy of worship, respect, and awe. Zeus wasn't intrinsically different from a powerful alien (he was powerful and immortal, but that's about it, as far as his claim to Godhood) -- he was a "God" because Greeks revered and worshipped him. "Divinity" is not intrinsic to the God, it accrues to those who are worshipped.

Your virtual worlds lack Gods, because their inhabitants lack the capacity for worship, awe, and delusion. If they had those capacities, you too could aspire to divine status.

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You're reading more into the meaning of "God" than religious people do. If a super-powerful Alien who created the world is called "God", it is because we puny humans deem him worthy of worship, respect, and awe.

If they just thought it was just a super-powerful alien, they'd be happy to call it that and wouldn't need to back it with all the supernatural stuff. Why hide the real origin of this alien in magic instead of allowing it to evolve in a rational way? Why turn good and evil into supernatural forces when totality of morality can be calculated from a simple formula? Why all the nonsense about qualifying for heaven by being good when there is no such thing as free will?

Zeus wasn't intrinsically different from a powerful alien (he was powerful and immortal, but that's about it, as far as his claim to Godhood) -- he was a "God" because Greeks revered and worshipped him. "Divinity" is not intrinsic to the God, it accrues to those who are worshipped.

That means a person can become a god too, so the leader of North Korea really is a god.

Your virtual worlds lack Gods, because their inhabitants lack the capacity for worship, awe, and delusion. If they had those capacities, you too could aspire to divine status.

I'm sure that could all be programmed into them, if we can find a way to replicate consciousness. If we can't, then a way round that would be to wire people into the machine such that all the inputs to and outputs from their brains go into the machine - they would believe themselves to be inhabitants of what we know is just a virtual world and many of them would worship the person on the outside who plays tricks on them, thereby turning me into a god.

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