God is by definition "unknowable". It would therefore be reasonable that people would wish to study something that's unquantifiable, unmeasurable, observable only if one has faith.
It would also be good if you could define "philosopher". Especially with the point that I'm going to bring up next...
I also think that you're putting the cart before the horse. Theology has been a part of philosophy for ages, and drove people to conduct supposed "scientific experiments" (before the advent of modern science in the 1600s) to explain phenomena that was previously not knowable (I'm thinking of Mendel's peas here). Theology (IMHO) is still a branch of philosophy, with a degree of overlap with epistemology, given that concepts in the modern vernacular (e.g. "truth") are so ill-defined.
Therefore, if someone has interest in Theology, is he/she not a philosopher by definition? It's a tautology.
Please forgive the crazy parantheses. It's 4:40am here.
Hmmm...I thought Nocapszy meant that he understood why people believed in religion, but that he didn't understand why people who didn't still bothered with the matter.
Oh. I guess I could answer the same thing, more or less, but... that makes more sense
I'd have to question if that is the case, outside of a social context - that is, are we talking about religion as a social issue? Because religion does influence all of us, belief or not. Is it reactionary to religious influence? Most of the atheists I know only get into the topic when it influences social policy (schools, government). I have yet to have a bunch of, even agnostics, have a round table on religion or God. It does come up plenty - my circle has a soon to be priest, a few devout muslims of various sects, etc - with the rest, though.
All persons interpret their experience. He who would increase his level of conscious awareness of what he believes and why, who would strive for a consistent and intelligible interpretation of his experience, is forced to examine the concept of God and the possibility of God's existence--if only to refute it.
I guess I didn't make this clear.
Actually I'm sure I did, but the participants of this thread refuse to make any effort to understand so I'll bludgeon you all with my inquiry as specifically as semantically possible.
I am not curious about the religious. I already get why someone who would want there to be a god would want that. I understand religion.
I'm talking about the non-religious people who still postulate over god's existence.
PT, you're not reading carefully. My target is not, and never was religion. Nor was my target god.
I have my binoculars affixed to the philosohers and their thought bubbles.
Its not a hard damn question. Why do the philosophers care if there's a god? Why are they curious about it?
What does knowing whether god exists or not attract these people?
Evolutionary reasons? Sure. Any other reason works too.
Owl clearly understood the inquiry as his response was a good one, and something I'd not considered.
I'm looking to see not only IF I've overlooked some reasons to ponder gods existence, but WHAT I've overlooked.
I am wondering. What is your conception of those who we call "philospohers?"
I believe, Orangey and pt are pointing out that quite often people are interested in things without knowing why they are.
Now we can certainly theorize on why they might be. But the reasons could be very varried from individual to individual.
Plausible reasons for being interested in knowing if God exists:
1) There is a lot of cruelty in the world. Some people say God is a benevolent, all powerful being. This seems like a contradiction, so they follow that apparent contradiction, and one natural question is "Does God exist?"
2) Some people question why it is that people exists, "for what purpose am I here?" Many say that it is "God's plan." If you were agnostic, "Does God exist?" would be among your list of questions.
3) Some people ask "who am I?" Many people say "we are reflections of God." So again, their investigations of "who am I?" will lead to "Does God Exist?"
4) Many were raised believing God exists to the point that they don't question it, and they based many of the answers to lifes questions on this belief. Then they get exposed a lot of atheists who make them doubt the existence. This could prompt "Does God exist?"
There are many more, but I don't think there is a universal reason.
But you could be asking why the "profession of philosophy" deems the question of enough interest to study. I believe, the main reason for this is that the societies the professionals are embeded in consider the question important, and professions are always beholden to the society they are in.
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future. Robot Fusion
"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
"[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
"[P]etabytes of  data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield
I can't answer as to why philosophers in general are curious about god (to attempt an answer to that is a philosophical discussion itself, I believe), but I can say why I'm interested (just to give you another sample point).
1. Where did I come from?
2. Why am I here?
3. Where am I going?
Re. 1, your fundamental question of origins. How did matter and the universe initially come to exist? You can go back to your Big Bang, but that's still contingent on the initial bunch of matter being there to begin with. The god concept tries to deal with this. You wonder about something outside the whole concept of matter and existence (and outside the concept of "something", for that matter), and you apply the name God.
Re. 2, your basic meaning of life question. I struggle a bit with existential depression. I do this because of that, and I do that because of that, etc. Where does it ultimately lead back to? The idea of a god initiating reality for a reason tries to answer some of that.
Re. 3, the what happens after death thing. I don't want to die, and it's hard to accept the finality of that. To be honest, though, that's more of a "gee, wouldn't it be nice" thing than a philosophical thing to me.
The first two questions are the kind of core things that philosophy is made of. To me, the whole "god" thing ties in with that pretty naturally. Though I think "religion" is usually the flipside of philosophy.
As they say, philosophy is questions that will never be answered, while religion is answers that will never be questioned. Though I think the latter is not true of all practicing "religious" people; I think some of them are willing to question, and are always open to re-evaluation. Unfortunately, that seems to comprise the minority of both theists and atheists.
I'm not a procrastinator. I'm a long-term planner.
Just to add a bit, not sure if it will help or hinder the conversation.
A religious person never really needs to ask those philosophical questions because if they are truly set in their beliefs, they know that there is a God, where they will go when they die, etc.
A philosopher can postulate his whole life on these existential questions without ever truly finding an acceptable answer to him/herself.
I'm not saying that either is correct in their beliefs or lack thereof, but I would tend to think that religion may lead to an ignorance is bliss state of mind whereas the philosopher will never stop searching.
/nod at Martoon's point
Last edited by SolitaryPenguin; 10-08-2008 at 03:13 PM.
Reason: I are slow
From my point of view I have to wonder about God because I know several really quite intelligent people who are religious and do believe in God and yet I don't see why. I realise their reasons aren't necessarily explainable but that doesn't stop philosophers wondering about things nor scientists so why should it me?