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  1. Default God's existence--A different approach


    Given how horribly off-railed the last thread went, I suppose it's sensible (and in line with my ulterior motive) to cast the net more widely this time.

    Objective: Discuss (construct and attack) the arguments for and against God's existence.

    We won't try to prove one position or the other, so drop your pitchforks, although you are more than welcome to try. The only criteria that has to be satisfied is the overarching topic, viz., God's existence. Beyond that, any particular topic is game: free will, soul, omnipotence, math, logic, quantum physics (though I don't think I can participate much in this realm), etc. It is, however, your responsibility to make the connection to the God topic.

    Think of it as a playing field, a special kind of room where you can talk about this topic, instead of battle grounds. There is much demand to defend this epistemological position, but I don't think it's unreasonable for everyone to entertain the possibility that "We cannot know if we and others are necessarily wrong or right; we are just giving good or bad arguments for our beliefs."

    Requirements: Since this is posted in the Rubik's Cube, I feel obligated to set some ground rules of conduct.
    • This is not an opinion poll. If you take a stance, you need to have a reason to support your decision; other people jabbing at your support (successfully or otherwise) doesn't necessarily dictate that you should change your beliefs, so you need one, however indefensible it may be.
    • Try to be rational and objective (robot-like, or should I say, Eos-like). I'm guilty of acting from emotions all the time, but let's give each other a break here.
    • Be as clear as you can and avoid the "Oh I didn't mean that" kind of cop-out.

    Definitions--not the rules by which we have to play, but how I'm conceptually thinking about the terms, just so that we're on the same page:
    • God: The idea of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being. Not Jesus Christ, not Buddha, not Allah, not any specific worshiped God. He is a necessary, incorporeal, and objective being--existing independently of human thoughts--and has those three aforementioned characteristics.
    • Omnipotence: The ability to bring about any possible state of affairs. The alternate definition that I might adopt once the previous goes south (for the sake of keeping the discussion going and shaping a more defensible picture) is the capability of maximal power, i.e., capable of bringing about more states of affairs than any other being.
    • Omniscient: Maximal knowledge. If something is true, God knows about it.
      Let p be a state of affair, g denote God, and K be the 'knowing' predicate: (∀x) [ (x=p^x=true) → Kgx ]
    • Omnibenevolence: Maximal goodness--God always does the maximum amount of good. This one is tricky, but can be narrowed down. Since we're talking about God, I think it's sensible to assume the existence of universal, objective moral values. Moreover, relativism as a moral theory is crap anyway, so I don't think I made a big leap there. In Value Theory, there is a region of study that focuses on Aesthetics, which I can agree is a different kind of "goodness". I'm not too familiar with it, so I'll just ignore it. Besides, the word benevolent doesn't exactly seem to mean "beautiful".

    If you see faults in how I view those terms (a paradox perhaps between omniscience and omnibenevolence), feel free to make the attack.

    To get things started, I'll take a comment from the last thread, @GreatOrator2:

    You seem to be implying that physical evidence is requisite to all proofs, which I suppose to be of the same manner we hear from Sherlock Holmes or science.

    Consider, then, how we can make a statement like this:

    - If it's raining outside, then we ground is wet.
    - I'm on the 31st floor of a building, I look out the window and see it raining.
    - Thus the ground must be wet some hundreds of feet down there.

    If the only admissible proof of the ground being wet is that there has to be some evidence to it being wet (a person walking in with wet shoes, for example), how did I make that inference above? Surely the rain is not the evidence of a wet ground.

    In the same manner, we might not have direct evidence to God's existence, but is it entirely impossible--if he exists--to make the inference using what we do know to be true to derive his necessary existence?

  2. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Not exactly, I was very careful in the wording of that line (though happy to see that it meant enough to be used as a starter for another topic). Using your rain metaphor, true that while being on the 31st floor would keep you from seeing the ground and knowing it was wet, there is still enough pre-requisite proof (physical) that would allow someone to make a rational, informed decision that the ground is indeed wet because of the knowledge that water does make things that way. HOWEVER, in line with my statement of not being able to preove OR disprove, even with a truckload of previous experience, it is possible the ground is indeed not wet because something could be covering it, rain does fall that far (if you lived in arizona you would know exactly what that is like), etc.


    Now to expand on this point, with the ground being wet, the inference is made because there has been on the part of whoever, a number of direct correlations to the rains effect, i.e. they have been on the ground floor when it is raining and have seen the ground get wet from rain. So, the difference here is, noone has directly seen God physically (in a manner that can be proven to others on a large scale) in front of them, performing anything, so the reference to his existence therefore would still be in question.

  3. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    So your usage of the word 'evidence' seems to not mean a causal effect of the thing in question, but rather our knowledge of the world through observation and experience. Is there any restriction on this? Perhaps, as I take to be implied by your post, only visual experience would count (No one has directly seen God physically)? Because otherwise, I can throw out something like this as an argument:

    - Everything that exists has a cause
    - The world exists (*)
    - Thus the world must have a cause (God)

    Using our experience, we can confirm (to a certain degree of confidence) that the world exists, and employing reason, we can make an inference from that fact, effectively rendering it an 'evidence'.

  4. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    First of all, I'd like to point out that generations of philosophers, theologists, and other thinkers have been raising and demolishing these arguments for hundreds of years.
    We could, of course, try to develop it all, all over again. Maybe we'll end up breaking the stalemate once and for all. Or maybe we'll have yet another crashed thread.

    I'd like to start by pointing out the contradiction between omniscience and omnipotence. (For a more entertaining discussion, see Frank Herbert's "Dune Messiah"). "Omniscience" means all-knowing. This means, for example, that God knows exactly where the next drop of rain will fall. "Omnipotence" means all-powerful. Does this mean God can make that raindrop fall elsewhere? Even half a millimeter east of where he knows it will fall?
    Well, no, because that would render his previous knowledge incorrect.
    But what kind of omnipotent being is it that can't move a drop of rain?
    So you say he knew he would change it? Fine. Can he then decide not to change it after all?
    The answer usually given is something along the lines that to God, all eternity is now. There is no time. There is no change. All that he knows is all that there is, in all four dimensions, and there is no question of "changing his mind" and "previous knowledge" because there is no "previous" and no "after all".
    This is what I meant when I said, in the other thread, that in order to resolve the contradiction you must take God out of Time and Causality, which makes it very hard to agree on a set of premises and rules of deduction from which to work "rationally".

    As for "omnibenevolence", that is an empty concept. If you define God as good, then you have a tautology but you don't have a definition. Any entity would be "omnibenevolent" if "good" were defined to be what that entity does.
    If you want to use that word to define "God", you must find a definition of "good" that is independent of "God".

  5. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    I don't think omnibenevolence was supposed to be a definitive part of God, but rather a religious attempt at self-advertising (all God does is good, therefore you must live in his example). I'm not too concerned about this myself. It's just there as part of the whole package.

    As for the contradiction mentioned above, let's look at it this way (I have to leave in 5 minutes but I think I can rephrase it so that I can work on it later):

    - God, supposing he does experience his own kind of 'time', has to ultimately make a decision about the raindrop's whereabouts.
    - Therefore he is capable of knowing where it ultimately falls.
    - The contradiction would ultimately rest in the rhetorical question: "Can God make the raindrop fall where he doesn't know it would?" which I think is nonsense. There is something structurally flawed about these questions as opposed to formal premise-conclusion arguments, but I can't quite work it out formally.

    EDIT: And yes, it is my goal here to recreate all sorts of arguments already made.

  6. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Wonderful try, but there is a structural flaw, you make the assumption that God is the cause, but nothing in the statement supports that. Knowing the little we do know about quantum mechanics the cause could have been a particle immensely minuscule that caused the "Big Bang" thus starting along the chain of events leading to our present day.

    Also, because I know that the path will go there after that statement, the particle need not have had a cause seeing as how currently our understanding of matter and energy state that nothing disappears it only changes form, meaning that ultimately there can be causes for everything which then puts us in a position that means our universe is infinitely old because everything in existence has always been there just continuously changing form.

    This then leads to the ultimate conclusion that if everything has always been and just changes form, then there could be no God, because everything has always been without regard of a higher power controlling everything.

  7. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Normally I would delve further into this, but it seems you would at least accept that God is one of the plausible causes of the world, and that is enough for our current purpose. Using the process of elimination, we now would not need any direct evidence of God other than that the world exists (and that other possible causes have been crossed out) to prove his existence, would we?

  8. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Actually I still disagree with your first premise ("- everything that exists has a cause"). There is no proof of this.
    Plus, if we do accept it, it must apply to God himself. If we allow God to be an exception, we must also be able to allow the universe as an exception: "Everything in the Universe has a cause, but the Universe itself has always existed".

  9. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Wouldn't that be the law of causality?

    I'm not following that logic at all. If the reality is a created construct, created by an entity outside of that reality, the exception of the creator would be obvious (though as noted, it's also equally obvious that some rules governing the reality that the alleged creator lives in would apply to both that creator and to our construct) but why would the reality/universe itself have an exemption since it were created within it's own ruleset?

  10. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    But how do you know that the reality is a created construct? Why can we not postulate that the framework has always been there, and it's only the contents - the matter and energy - that necessarily had a cause?

    But let's assume the universe was in fact created. Something triggered the Big Bang. Something that is clearly outside the rules. What reason have we to believe that that something is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent? What indication is there that it's even sentient?

    Calling that something "God" is a simple continuation of what humans have been doing for millenia: using "God" instead of "unknown".
    "What makes the Sun move across the sky?"
    "Apollo pulls it in his chariot."
    --- Enter science. Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc.
    "What makes the Sun move across the sky?"
    "It only appears to move because the Earth is rotating on its axis and around the sun."
    "Why does the Earth rotate?"
    "Gravity, angular momentum, yadda yadda."
    "Why is there gravity?"
    "Eh... God made it."

  11. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Because it exists. Sheer randomness can not create the sort of rigid and strictly enforced structure that is our reality.

    Cause and effect, again, too structured to be chance. An intelligence had to create such a framework. It's improbable that our entire reality is the single instance, even within itself, of such complexity just appearing naturally.

    As creator of such a complex work it's not improbable or impossible that they have absolute and complete power over it, but it's also equally probable that once created and set in motion it's fully self contained and they have limited to no ability to interact with the contents (such as us). It's also entirely possible we're an unintended side effect spun off from the true purpose of their creation. The bizarre idea that we matter and that our creator is somehow "good" or "favors" us is too egocentric for me. That omnibenevolent clause is just absurd since for it to be true there would have to be least one other force or entity responsible for everything that wasn't good and then you're not just trying to come to terms with whether or not we have a creator, but whether or not we have a dichotomy.

    God and science are not mutually exclusive, nor should "God did it" be the end all answer; The end all question should always be "how did God do that".

  12. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Complexity is relative.

  13. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    You are assuming an awful lot about whatever is outside our reality.
    In fact, you're assuming it's exactly like our universe, with causality and entropy, randomness and order, intelligence and intent... none of which is necessarily so. We have no way of knowing anything about it, except for the one relevant fact (well, more like hypthesis): something in it or about it caused our universe to come into being.

  14. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Actually I'm just assuming our reality is analogous to the one it's a subset of. It'd be a lot harder to create a reality completely separate from your own with no connection thereto. It's even harder to prevent your creation from inheriting the laws of the reality it was created in. Go build a puppet and tell it to defy gravity and see how far that get's you

    Knowing that our reality has the rules it does we know that the reality that we're a subset of has to be capable of supporting or emulating those rules.

  15. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    OK. I'm going to call that puppet "Demon Slayer", if that's alright with you?
    I'm also going to make it need no sustenance of any kind, never grow old or otherwise be affected by entropy, and able to teleport between twenty world-copies with identical scenery but varying occupancy of plants, minerals, animals, and people.
    I could go on but I think you get the point.

  16. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Point is flawed; That puppet is being created inside a virtual reality of it's own, not in "our" substrata of reality.
    And that sub-reality was programmed to have gravity and can be defied only in a limited means anyway

  17. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Your point?
    How do you know our universe is not a "virtual reality" of whatever created it?
    And, well, you told me to have the puppet defy gravity, which is kind of impossible to do where there is no gravity. I can easily create a "virtual reality" that has no gravity at all. Classic "trek" comes to mind.

  18. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Whether or not we're in a virtual reality is irrelevant, and I've already pretty much implied we are for all intents as purposes; I told you to create a puppet in our reality and control the rules, not in a virtual subset of our reality that you have control over.

    You can't do it in your native environment, you have to create a specialized environment you have control over to accomplish it.

  19. Orbital Bee Cannon
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    Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    Indeed. But once I do that, the people inside the specialized environment can't know anything about mine. Whereas you were "assuming our reality is analogous to the one it's a subset of" without proof it's a subset and not a specialized environment with arbitrarily different rules.

  20. Default Re: God's existence--A different approach


    You're wrong again, because in your example attempt the world you created was in fact a subset of your own.

    You can't create something too alien because you simply haven't got a frame of reference to begin to do so with.
    You're constrained to think of the physical laws of your own native universe as the building blocks available to you and would have to really, really try to come up with alternatives and keep it cohesive.

    Go ahead, try to define an arbitrarily different reality, rather than one that makes minor modifications like 'people can fly'.

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