Does God Exist?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:19 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:A similar approach is taken by science. I suppose if most people don't believe in my definition of faith, then I'll have to stop using the term "leap of faith". But you guys are right. There is no evidence of previous inconsistency in the nature of the universe. However, we put our....trust?....in the repeatable and consistent nature of the universe. Just because something has been doesn't mean it always will be, although of course it seems pretty damn reliable because it has proven to be.
No, see, the problem is you're conflating the 'accuracy' of religion with anything in science. There is no proof, none, for religious beliefs. Trying to say they have any legitimacy at all next to scientific evidence is just trying to draw a false equivalence between them.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Azrael » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:47 am UTC

a_toddler wrote: But you guys are right. There is no evidence of previous inconsistency in the nature of the universe. However, we put our....trust?....in the repeatable and consistent nature of the universe.

You can, if you wish. But neither science nor logic require you to exhibit that trust. You could use them (via statistics, for instance) to estimate a confidence level in what will happen tomorrow, but neither prognosticate. Both processes have mechanisms for incorporating that new data you might find tomorrow.

Just because something has been doesn't mean it always will be, although of course it seems pretty damn reliable because it has proven to be.

And that's exactly what science and logic tell us.

The need for predictability is a human psychological or sociological reflex. It's not an aspect of science.

Without presupposing the 'authority' of God, you're on your own. Some people have developed tools to help. But tools have no authority. The quality of my chisel set helps me fashion better dovetail joints, but they don't craft the furniture for me.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:26 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:Ok, here is a number sequence:

1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1...?

What is the next number? The answer is of course 1. That's because the entire sequence is of 1s. HOWEVER, if I told you that the next number was 2, technically the sequence could have been nine 1s followed by nine 2s, etc.

What you did was you saw the pattern in the numbers and hypothesised according to the noticeable pattern. There was no evidence that the series of 1s would change, but then again I was the one dictating the pattern of numbers, so the pattern could have been the alternate one described above.
The benefit of science is that it doesn't claim any sort absolute truth - it's perfectly acceptable to see that sequence of numbers, propose a model, hypothesize that the next number will be a 1, and then when it's discovered that the next number is actually a 2, the hypothesis is rejected and another replaces it. This can continue for as long as you please, with each increment providing new information to improve the model.

You act as if not being able to predict the future or have perfect knowledge is a fault of science, when it's the exact opposite - science and rationality are what allow us to have productive lives and expand our understanding of the universe despite a lack of perfect knowledge of anything at all. Old science is replaced by new science all the time, and that's not some hint that science doesn't work very well, that is science working.

On the other hand (and this is what you continue to glaze over), religion and superstition do no better to provide you with perfect knowledge nor reveal the future, and most of the time they do a worse job of it than even the most feeble of scientific principles. The very best you can do is continue to shift pieces of your text from the "literal" interpretation to the "metaphorical" one, just to maintain the illusions a little longer.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby a_toddler » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:47 am UTC

unvilengr, you've taken my example and drawn a completely different idea to the one I was using it to describe.

uncivlengr wrote:You act as if not being able to predict the future or have perfect knowledge is a fault of science,


that has never been my stance. Every else in that paragraph is also something that I completely agree with, and I have never been arguing against it. Please don't take me as being anti-science. I myself and am (studying to be) an engineer, and that would be a ridiculous stance from someone who applies science all the time.
uncivlengr wrote:
On the other hand (and this is what you continue to glaze over), religion and superstition do no better to provide you with perfect knowledge nor reveal the future, and most of the time they do a worse job of it than even the most feeble of scientific principles. The very best you can do is continue to shift pieces of your text from the "literal" interpretation to the "metaphorical" one, just to maintain the illusions a little longer.


again, I have never said, "Religion > Science" in providing me with perfect knowledge or revealing the future. In regards to the whole "literal" vs "metaphorical" interpretations of the bible, please remember that the bible is 66 books in one. Which means that different authors in different time periods for different purposes and contexts have contributed to what is collectively known as the bible. It's not like it's some arbitrary slab of uniform text which claims ludicrous things and theologians are sitting over it saying, "Hmm, this part here doesn't make sense...better make it metaphorical instead.". This seems to be the view of some in the thread, which is a little annoying, because it's similarly annoying to a physicist when one make wild pre-supposed claims on gravity yet everyone knows not to do that... :(

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:23 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:Please don't take me as being anti-science.
Then stop diminishing science to the level of religion and superstition - this entire issue stems from the fact that you want to place them both at the same level in terms of their ability to reveal "truth", and there's absolutely no reason you should do this if you understood the principles of science, and how they don't apply to religion whatsoever.

a_toddler wrote:In regards to the whole "literal" vs "metaphorical" interpretations of the bible, please remember that the bible is 66 books in one. Which means that different authors in different time periods for different purposes and contexts have contributed to what is collectively known as the bible.
Are you trying to suggest that there isn't any disagreement on whether particular portions of the bible should be taken literally or metaphorically? This is evident in the present, never mind the the changes in interpretations throughout history.

Where is the indication from the authors of particular books that some portions of the book are literal, while others are metaphorical? Is there a list somewhere?
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:34 am UTC

Toddler, all you are doing is attacking the basis of empiricism, science, and logic, not building a case for religion. Even if I accept that there is no reason to use, say, science (which isn't what you are trying to say, but all your points could actually accomplish), I still wouldn't accept religion. I could be a metaphysical nihilist, after all.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby a_toddler » Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:54 am UTC

Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.

Asking for empirical evidence for God, creator of the universe seems a little...out of place? It's almost like http://xkcd.com/638/, although I know its a different context.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Mapar » Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:43 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.

Asking for empirical evidence for God, creator of the universe seems a little...out of place? It's almost like http://xkcd.com/638/, although I know its a different context.



I actually have yet to hear a piece of hypothetical evidence that would show God to exist. To paraphrase PZ Myers: "If a 900-foot tall Jesus would crush cities shooting laser beams from his eyes, I would be the first to try and take a blood sample".

I don't really see what you're trying to say in the first sentence. Are you referring to Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA)?
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uma » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:00 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.

Asking for empirical evidence for God, creator of the universe seems a little...out of place? It's almost like http://xkcd.com/638/, although I know its a different context.


If asking for empirical evidence for God seems out of place, it seems equally out of place to get uppity when your belief in God is characterised as largely baseless (in comparison to beliefs stemming from science). You can't have it both ways.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:10 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.

Lets forget science exists for a second. Let's forget there are other religions. Suppose the only question is whether or not your God exists. Why should I believe he does?

Asking for empirical evidence for God, creator of the universe seems a little...out of place? It's almost like http://xkcd.com/638/, although I know its a different context.

I'm asking for any evidence at all. If you can't provide a reason to believe in God, you are conceding he probably doesn't exist, but stating you believe in him anyways just because.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Jimmigee » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:15 am UTC

Choboman wrote:I don't believe that the Euthyphro dilemma is as much of a cut-and-dry issue as some here are suggesting.

Just as a hypothetical exercise, let's imagine that I'm watching my toddler son play in my back yard, an I see him start to play with an ant hill. I think to myself "Hmmm, if he keeps this up, he'll probably get bit." I could rush out there and stop him. I could get some ant-killing poison and eradicate all the ants in my yard just in case. Or I could say "It's ok - an ant bite is only a mild transitory problem and he might learn a valuable lesson from this." I don't think any of those responses makes me inherantly evil, or even necessarily a bad parent.


The discussion may have moved on, but I feel it's important to note that, analogously, you also put the anthill there, and all the ants for which the lesson is of any future importance.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:39 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.

That's because one of them actually works, and "inhabits" a world that isn't indistinguishable from fantasy.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Azrael » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:44 pm UTC

a_toddler wrote:Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.

And yet, you've been rather adamant that they both require the same fundamental appeal to authority to be used. Desperately trying to jam them together, even.

How do you reconcile those two opposing views? HINT: Don't try. Give up on the "science = authority that requires trust" bit. Stick to the realization they are two entirely separate structures that are not diametrically opposed -- you can have both, or none. One does not flow out of, or require, a rejection of the other.

a_toddler wrote:Asking for empirical evidence for God, creator of the universe seems a little...out of place? impossible to provide, regardless of whether he exists or not.
A philosophical point that has been raised and discussed at great length in the thread. You're not doing it much justice, but are certainly indicating you haven't been reading.

uma wrote:If asking for empirical evidence for God seems out of place, it seems equally out of place to get uppity when your belief in God is characterised as largely baseless (in comparison to beliefs stemming from science).

This. A thousand times this.

Two separate spheres. If only people would keep religion out of science (i.e. intelligent design). Incidentally, this is why no one ever tries to apply science to moral questions -- it doesn't work.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Mahou » Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:10 pm UTC

Choboman wrote:I don't believe that the Euthyphro dilemma is as much of a cut-and-dry issue as some here are suggesting.

Just as a hypothetical exercise, let's imagine that I'm watching my toddler son play in my back yard, an I see him start to play with an ant hill. I think to myself "Hmmm, if he keeps this up, he'll probably get bit." I could rush out there and stop him. I could get some ant-killing poison and eradicate all the ants in my yard just in case. Or I could say "It's ok - an ant bite is only a mild transitory problem and he might learn a valuable lesson from this." I don't think any of those responses makes me inherantly evil, or even necessarily a bad parent.


The problem here is how innocuous your example is. An ant bite isn't going to cause any real harm. Try telling the people hit by tsunamis, or hurricanes, or people were were brutally tortured and murdered, that it's just an ant bite meant as a learning experience.

A better example would be if your kid was playing with bees and you knew he was allergic, but don't stop him because it's a learning experience. He gets stung and as a result is paralyzed from the neck down. Is that not an evil decision, even if it derives from stupidity?

a_toddler wrote:Science and Christianity inhabit separate worlds, yet ppl are so willing to favour one over the other so highly and to have one involve the other.


No, they don't. They both inhabit the same world. This one. And as such, both need to be tested by the same principles and held to the same standard. You can fault us for wanting to test your claims to the same level we test everyone else's. Why should your assertions be immune from criticism and testing?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:05 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:Stick to the realization they are two entirely separate structures that are not diametrically opposed -- you can have both, or none. One does not flow out of, or require, a rejection of the other.


This is technically correct. However, so is this:

Mahou wrote:They both inhabit the same world. This one.


If, ultimately, you believe that there exists a reality independent of yourself, then God either exists or he does not. Again, forgetting religion, forgetting science, the question still remains, does he exist? There may be more than one process by which you can reach an answer, but at some point, you should reach a single answer.

At that point, it is not at all unreasonable to discuss the efficacy and accuracy of various models or methods for determining the answer.


Azrael wrote:Incidentally, this is why no one ever tries to apply science to moral questions -- it doesn't work.

Sam Harris would certainly disagree with you here.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:12 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Sam Harris would certainly disagree with you here.
Subtle distinction: I don't think Sam Harris would disagree that the impetus toward morality is something that cannot be scientifically justified; rather, Sam Harris would tell us that once we know what direction to go as moral creatures, science is the best tool to get us there.

Important distinction, because it highlights the difference between religion and science: Religion provides moral structures and a framework of values meant to incorporate the majority of your life ("God, family, friends"). Science puts value on a few very specific things for measuring the universe ("Evidence, falsifiability") and leaves the rest up to you.

Edit: Consider: A mass-murderer is, by necessity, a bad Christian. But are they also, by necessity, a bad scientist? Certainly not. Why not? Because science does not give us moral direction; religion does.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby a_toddler » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:And yet, you've been rather adamant that they both require the same fundamental appeal to authority to be used. Desperately trying to jam them together, even.

How do you reconcile those two opposing views? HINT: Don't try. Give up on the "science = authority that requires trust" bit. Stick to the realization they are two entirely separate structures that are not diametrically opposed -- you can have both, or none. One does not flow out of, or require, a rejection of the other.


My point is that they are both claims to knowledge and/or truth. As such, I was saying that any claim to knowledge must appeal to some sort of authority. So in my view, they are in the same set of "knowledge".

Within this set I'm saying that science and religion are distinct. Everything else in the paragraph I agree with.

EDIT: I think that reconciles both sides of (science and religion are in the same world, yet are distinct).

Azrael wrote:A philosophical point that has been raised and discussed at great length in the thread. You're not doing it much justice, but are certainly indicating you haven't been reading.


Aw c'mon...thats hardly fair! How can I reply to everyone yet NOT be reading :(

uma wrote:If asking for empirical evidence for God seems out of place, it seems equally out of place to get uppity when your belief in God is characterised as largely baseless (in comparison to beliefs stemming from science). You can't have it both ways.


Me or christians in general? I've said that the basis of my belief is the bible. Everyone has replied that this belief has no basis. I'm saying that if I claim it to be my ultimate authority, it IS my basis. But I'm going to lean away from it for a sec to answer:

Eebster the Great wrote:Lets forget science exists for a second. Let's forget there are other religions. Suppose the only question is whether or not your God exists. Why should I believe he does?

and
Eebster the Great wrote:I'm asking for any evidence at all. If you can't provide a reason to believe in God, you are conceding he probably doesn't exist, but stating you believe in him anyways just because.


Erm ok here are a couple, but these are pretty well-trodden and I'm sure you've heard them before. Disclaimer: none of these are proofs, they are simply evidence. Don't be like, "hah! That can be explained by some other means! K God doesnt exist."

1) Everything in the universe has a cause -> The universe should have a cause -> Something(one?) caused the universe.

Common arguments:
* Something(one) doesn't have to be God. (Like I said, evidence ! proof)
* Who caused God? (Answer: no-one. God is not a subject of the universe of the universe itself.)


2) God is a being of power beyond imagination -> He should exist, as existing is more powerful than not existing.

PS. logical operator (->) is used to mean if...then... as in discrete mathematics. Kinda used loosely in (1), but...meh :p

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:21 pm UTC

a_toddler wrote: * Who caused God? (Answer: no-one. God is not a subject of the universe of the universe itself.)
That's cheating; who's to say the universe is subject to causation? If you're exempting God, we can certainly exempt the universe. Both are entities we have no significant knowledge about (we've observed a fraction of the universe so infinitesimally small that if I tried to type it out, I'd probably wear out my 'zero' key).
a_toddler wrote:2) God is a being of power beyond imagination -> He should exist, as existing is more powerful than not existing.
That's also cheating. I can imagine any number of beings more powerful beyond imagination; should they all exist as well? Maybe we should all be polytheists.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Mahou » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:34 pm UTC

a_toddler wrote:
Mahou wrote:No, they don't. They both inhabit the same world. This one. And as such, both need to be tested by the same principles and held to the same standard. You can fault us for wanting to test your claims to the same level we test everyone else's. Why should your assertions be immune from criticism and testing?




Have fun explaining that to everyone else as well.


Don't think you can just edit this out and get away with it. :)

Why are your claims that a god exists immune from examination? It seems to me that these things would be the most important claims to consider. It's also important to be willing to admit you're wrong if the claims don't hold up to scrutiny.

a_toddler wrote:1) Everything in the universe has a cause -> The universe should have a cause -> Something(one?) caused the universe.

Common arguments:
* Something(one) doesn't have to be God. (Like I said, evidence ! proof)
* Who caused God? (Answer: no-one. God is not a subject of the universe of the universe itself.)


2) God is a being of power beyond imagination -> He should exist, as existing is more powerful than not existing.


Really? You used the Cosmological argument and the Ontological argument?
1) As Carl Sagan so eloquently put it, "If we say that God has always been, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always been?"

2) You cannot just define things into existence. If I conceive of a giant purple hairy tentacle who lives on Everest and exists, that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to exist because I define it as such. Besides, what if existence leaves you open to criticism and corruption, and thus is inherently an imperfection? By that logic, doesn't that mean that because god is perfect, he must not exist?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:01 am UTC

Hey, I can play this game, too!

- I can conceive of an all-powerful god.
- To be the most powerful entity imaginable, one must have no obstacles in their path.
- The need to exist would be an obstacle to an all-powerful god.
- Therefore, god does not need to exist.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:29 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Hey, I can play this game, too!

- I can conceive of an all-powerful god.
- To be the most powerful entity imaginable, one must have no obstacles in their path.
- The need to exist would be an obstacle to an all-powerful god.
- Therefore, god does not need to exist.


My personal favorite

-Assume there is an all powerful being
-if a being is all powerful there is nothing it cannot do
therefore god can copy himself

if god copied himself there are two beings that can do anything

if a being can do anything then god could destroy a copy of himself

however, an all powerful being can preserve himself from destruction

therefore the existence of god implies that both an unstoppable for and an immovable object can both exist

contradiction, therefore there is no all powerful being.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby a_toddler » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:48 am UTC

Mahou wrote:Don't think you can just edit this out and get away with it. :)


lol I only did it cos someone beat me to it - two posts were made in the time it took for me to post mine, so that's why i left it out.

I see now that I've left the second half of your question unanswered - to this I say, "Well of course I'm willing to have my claims examined." If not, I wouldn't be here. What I'm claiming though, is that we can't exactly use science (which relies on repetition of an event for verification) to test God (who is the First Cause of all events).

Mahou wrote:As Carl Sagan so eloquently put it, "If we say that God has always been, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always been?"


Not everyone believes the universe always has been.

Mahou wrote:You cannot just define things into existence.


I agree, I also don't like the Ontological argument, but someone asked for anything, so I obliged.

@uncivlengr & mmmcannibalism: Way to take someone's hypothetical and stretch them so that it become ridiculous. The "need to exist" seems more like a trait to God than an obstacle, and just because God can doesnt' mean God will.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:20 am UTC

@uncivlengr & mmmcannibalism: Way to take someone's hypothetical and stretch them so that it become ridiculous. The "need to exist" seems more like a trait to God than an obstacle, and just because God can doesnt' mean God will.


I claimed an all powerful being is impossible because it is self contradicting.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:41 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:@uncivlengr & mmmcannibalism: Way to take someone's hypothetical and stretch them so that it become ridiculous.
The ontalogical argument is already ridiculous - you can't just think about something to make it exist.

I can conceive of a unicorn such that if it didn't exist, my computer would catch on fire right now.
My computer 's not on fire, therefore the unicorn exists! taadaa!
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uma » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:13 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:What I'm claiming though, is that we can't exactly use science (which relies on repetition of an event for verification) to test God (who is the First Cause of all events).


So what do you suggest we use to 'test God'? If the answer is that we have no verifiable way to 'test God', that's the point some people have been trying to get across.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Mahou » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:14 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:
Mahou wrote:Don't think you can just edit this out and get away with it. :)


lol I only did it cos someone beat me to it - two posts were made in the time it took for me to post mine, so that's why i left it out.

I see now that I've left the second half of your question unanswered - to this I say, "Well of course I'm willing to have my claims examined." If not, I wouldn't be here. What I'm claiming though, is that we can't exactly use science (which relies on repetition of an event for verification) to test God (who is the First Cause of all events).


Why not? What better method do you propose we use? If God is part of reality, than he is subject to the scientific process. If he's not, than he's irrelevant.

a_toddler wrote:
Mahou wrote:As Carl Sagan so eloquently put it, "If we say that God has always been, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always been?"


Not everyone believes the universe always has been.


And not everyone believes it hasn't. Your point? You not believing it doesn't make it any less likely or your proposal that God has always been any more likely.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:47 am UTC

@uncivlengr & mmmcannibalism: Way to take someone's hypothetical and stretch them so that it become ridiculous. The "need to exist" seems more like a trait to God than an obstacle, and just because God can doesnt' mean God will.

The "need to exist" for a religious person maybe.

As for the hypothetical, I don't know what else you were expecting considering you used the greatest island argument.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby a_toddler » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:42 am UTC

a_toddler wrote: agree, I also don't like the Ontological argument, but someone asked for anything, so I obliged.


just thought i'd highlight that. Just a note on the ontological/greatest-island argument - it doesn't say "I envision, therefore it exists". It's more trying to say that "if God is supposedly so awesome, then He must exist". The thing about imagining the greatest island is that any island by nature is limited, while God is supposed to be unlimited in any way.

Keep in mind these aren't proofs for God, they are simply common arguments (or evidences?) for, and I have cited them by request.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Czhorat » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:12 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:
a_toddler wrote: agree, I also don't like the Ontological argument, but someone asked for anything, so I obliged.


just thought i'd highlight that. Just a note on the ontological/greatest-island argument - it doesn't say "I envision, therefore it exists". It's more trying to say that "if God is supposedly so awesome, then He must exist". The thing about imagining the greatest island is that any island by nature is limited, while God is supposed to be unlimited in any way.

Keep in mind these aren't proofs for God, they are simply common arguments (or evidences?) for, and I have cited them by request.


Protip: if someone asks for an argument supporting your position independent of attacks on other positions, he or she usually wants a good argument, or at least one that shows some basic understanding of logical principles. The problem with the ontological argument is that the existence of God as an all-powerful being is part of the proof of God's existence. This is circular logic of the worst and most obvious kind. I know it's been done in this thread already, but:

Optimus Prime is the most awesome fighting alien robot.
A fighting robot that exists is more awesome than one that doesn't exist.
Ergo, Optimus Prime exists.

The problem is that the idea of God (or Optimus Prime, or the flying spaghetti monster, or pink unicorns) doesn't prove their existence.

The cosmological proof is another proof by assertion. You start by asserting that everything must have a cause, take a crazy logical leap that that cause is "God", then assert that God is somehow immune to your rule about everything needing a cause.

What I'm claiming though, is that we can't exactly use science (which relies on repetition of an event for verification) to test God (who is the First Cause of all events).


Now this discussion has come full-circle, back to the point where I dropped out. I'll repeat my way, WAY earlier question:

If God exists in a state which it is impossible for us to measure or evaluate, how is this different than God not existing?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:19 am UTC

My favourite is the ultimate athiest argument.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:26 am UTC

What the ontological argument proves is that if a being with every perfection exists, it must exist.

What the cosmological argument proves is that if everything must have a cause except one particular thing, that thing must have caused everything else, directly or indirectly.

These are not powerful arguments.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:08 pm UTC

a_toddler wrote:
a_toddler wrote: agree, I also don't like the Ontological argument, but someone asked for anything, so I obliged.


just thought i'd highlight that. Just a note on the ontological/greatest-island argument - it doesn't say "I envision, therefore it exists". It's more trying to say that "if God is supposedly so awesome, then He must exist". The thing about imagining the greatest island is that any island by nature is limited, while God is supposed to be unlimited in any way.
The thing is, those arguments are proofs - they're just really bad ones.

A bunch of really bad proofs don't add up as "evidence" - any one of them should prove their own claims on their own. When you come across a proof that fails, you throw it away, because it's garbage.

...and really, to pull those gems out you must have just googled "proof of god", because they certainly aren't what you or anyone else bases their faith in gods on. In the end, you know you just choose believe in it for reasons that were never really justified, and aren't religious people supposed to be proud of that?
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Cres » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:40 pm UTC

There are ontological arguments and ontological arguments. Descartes' is badly broken, Plantinga's modal version of Anselm's is a lot better, and doesn't fall to simple 'greatest island' counterexamples:

'Maximal excellence’ entails omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection. ‘Maximal greatness’ is the property of having maximal excellence in every possible world.

(1) Possibly maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(2) If maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(3) If P is possible and P implies Q, Q is possible. [modal rule]
(4) If possibly maximal greatness is instantiated and (if maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated), then possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(3), instantiation]
(5) Possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(1), (2), (4)]
(6) For all P, if possibly necessarily P, then necessarily P. [S5 axiom]
(7) If possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated, then necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [6, instantiation]
(8) Necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(5), (7)]
(9) Maximal greatness is instantiated. [(8), modal rule]
(10) Maximal excellence is instantiated in the actual world [(9)]
(11) God exists in the actual world. [(10)]

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:53 pm UTC

Cres wrote:(1) Possibly maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(2) If maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
Do you think wrapping the argument up in logical jargon makes these premises any less unsubstantiated or begging the question? Define "maximal greatness" as the unicorn with the shiniest mane you get a proof of that, too.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:34 pm UTC

Cres wrote:There are ontological arguments and ontological arguments. Descartes' is badly broken, Plantinga's modal version of Anselm's is a lot better, and doesn't fall to simple 'greatest island' counterexamples:

'Maximal excellence’ entails omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection. ‘Maximal greatness’ is the property of having maximal excellence in every possible world.

(1) Possibly maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(2) If maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(3) If P is possible and P implies Q, Q is possible. [modal rule]
(4) If possibly maximal greatness is instantiated and (if maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated), then possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(3), instantiation]
(5) Possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(1), (2), (4)]
(6) For all P, if possibly necessarily P, then necessarily P. [S5 axiom]
(7) If possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated, then necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [6, instantiation]
(8) Necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(5), (7)]
(9) Maximal greatness is instantiated. [(8), modal rule]
(10) Maximal excellence is instantiated in the actual world [(9)]
(11) God exists in the actual world. [(10)]

did you mean to use maximal greatness in every instance there? or was maximal excellence supposed to show up once or twice as well?

doesn't that whole thing boil down to the exact same argument? you're still starting from an assertion and ending with the same assertion.

if "god" has maximal excellence (i.e. omnipotence) then wouldn't the whole "an all powerful god can copy himself, but can't destroy that copy because it's all powerful too, so he's not all powerful" still apply?
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Greyarcher » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:02 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
Cres wrote:(1) Possibly maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(2) If maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
Do you think wrapping the argument up in logical jargon makes these premises any less unsubstantiated or begging the question? Define "maximal greatness" as the unicorn with the shiniest mane you get a proof of that, too.
Agreed, it's still a farce.

Really, trying to claim the existence of things from the definitions of words is ridiculous in the first place. We say things exist because they have a clear, observable presence or effect in the world. Not because we took a certain meaning of "perfection" or "greatness" and then played logic games.

Plantinga's argument doesn't avoid the essential absurdity that other "Greatest Whatever" parodies reveal.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:12 pm UTC

I propose an entity that exists that has all the power of the christian god, PLUS he can unmake or make that god, and can't be affected by him. Thus my diety is maximally great and must exist.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:52 pm UTC

I propose a deity that has every perfection except spelling. He is really bad at spelling. Still, existence is a perfection unrelated to spelling, so he must exist.

God is dyslexic.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby philoctetes » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:24 pm UTC

Still, existence is a perfection unrelated to spelling


I bug to duffer, sir!

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Azrael » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:46 pm UTC

Cres wrote:There are ontological arguments and ontological arguments. Descartes' is badly broken, Plantinga's modal version of Anselm's is a lot better, and doesn't fall to simple 'greatest island' counterexamples:

'Maximal excellence’ entails omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection. ‘Maximal greatness’ is the property of having maximal excellence in every possible world.

Spoiler:
(1) Possibly maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(2) If maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [premise]
(3) If P is possible and P implies Q, Q is possible. [modal rule]
(4) If possibly maximal greatness is instantiated and (if maximal greatness is instantiated, necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated), then possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(3), instantiation]
(5) Possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(1), (2), (4)]
(6) For all P, if possibly necessarily P, then necessarily P. [S5 axiom]
(7) If possibly necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated, then necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [6, instantiation]
(8) Necessarily maximal greatness is instantiated. [(5), (7)]
(9) Maximal greatness is instantiated. [(8), modal rule]
(10) Maximal excellence is instantiated in the actual world [(9)]
(11) God exists in the actual world. [(10)]

You do realize that even Plantinga himself supposed that his modal form proof only had a 50/50 probability, right? That's not much of a proof. It turns out he wasn't even sure regarding the possibility premise.

Anyhow, the ontological argument has been beaten on by philosophers over and over again. Besides the obvious cognitive dissonance of "because we can conceive it, it must be true", even early defenders (Glenn) sought to limit Anselm's statement in light of things like Gaunilo's Island by suggesting it could only apply to the supreme most being -- an idea that comes so close to presupposing such a being exists that plenty of philosophers rejected the defense outright.

Trying to act like ontological argument actually proves anything is, at this point, pretty ... arrogant? Sure, it's a great way to cull a crowd at a party into "believes in God no matter what" and "knows who Kant was" teams for Pictionary, but that's about it.


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