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Thread: NTs and God

  1. #381
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    God cannot be disproved or proved. I have no reason to argue for or against it until I hear logic that persuades me. I am leaning towards no god though, since there is more convincing logical evidence of that suggestion. However, I cannot completely disregard anything that is not 100% disproved. So technically you can tell me that there are pink elephants in space and I'd be skeptical, but I'd keep it in mind. =-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by WithoutaFace View Post
    God cannot be disproved or proved. I have no reason to argue for or against it until I hear logic that persuades me. I am leaning towards no god though, since there is more convincing logical evidence of that suggestion. However, I cannot completely disregard anything that is not 100% disproved. So technically you can tell me that there are pink elephants in space and I'd be skeptical, but I'd keep it in mind. =-)
    You can disprove the Judeo/Christian/Muslim god though. Follow the roots of history. You can easily catch the starting point and the massive alterations of these religions as time progressed
    If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool. -Carl Gustav Jung *I-74* *N-53* *T-95* *J-89*

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    Quote Originally Posted by silverchris9 View Post
    1) Isn't that an untestable epistemological hypothesis? If your position is "when determining the truth of a proposition, one must consider only the proposition and evidence for the proposition," what evidence is there for that position?

    2) It's impossible to consider anything in a vacuum; there must always be evidence for the evidence and evidence again for that, and so on and so forth.

    3) The veracity of the Big Bang is not in question. The question the Kalam Cosmological Argument asks is: "Can the universe have caused itself?" If the universe cannot have caused itself, and there's no alternative, it must be God. That is evidence. I find that your formulation essentially denies the possibility of disjunctive arguments, in the form "Either A or B, not A, therefore B." Yet these arguments have been considered valid throughout history and are still used today. I consider this an argument from consensus; the fact that centuries of philosophical doubt have not unseated this concept is evidence suggesting that it is likely that the concept is true.

    4) The statement "there is a cause for the universe which transcends time and space" is evidence for God. If the Cosmological Argument proves this statement, then how is it anything but evidence for God?



    True. I'll abandon self-sustaining. One point though: if you're going to rely on these theories as part of your argument, aren't you obligated to provide proof for theories that are highly contested throughout the scientific community? This seems to contradict your idea that no choice is better than an uncertain (or arbitrarily unlikely) choice. Just take self-creating. Provide me with an example of anything that is its own efficient, material, and final cause.



    1) This does not address the Ockham's Razor argument. Are these theories any simpler or any likelier than the theory that God exists?

    2) The first premise of the argument anticipates the objection "the universe is self existent". "Everything that begins to exist has a cause." In fact, let me update this for clarity: "Everything that begins to exist has an external cause; that is, a cause that is not itself". The argument stands until one disproves either this principle or the Big Bang. It would be logically inconsistent to affirm "everything that begins to exist has an external cause," "the universe began at the Big Bang," and "the universe is self-existent." One may maintain any two of the three and remain logically coherent, but to affirm all three is logically impossible.




    Sorry. You encapsulated my argument pretty well. I provided a (hopefully) more coherent objection above.



    Hey, when you lose one, you lose one, right?



    It does not assume that a perfect being exists. It assumes that a perfect being can be conceived of, which you conceded.

    No, it assumes that existence is a perfection. The premise is not "existence = perfection," it's "to exist is better (more perfect) than to not exist". In my book, one is free to dispute that claim, although it requires one to disregard the majority of both internal and external evidence one accumulates throughout one's life.

    And regarding the conclusion, just replace the word "possible" with the word "imaginary". It's the same argument. Or better yet, remove the word possible altogether.
    I'm not even going to bother reading through this whole debate so forgive me if i just give you a selection of reasons to not believe in a god that may or may not have been said before.
    I will presume to talk about the standard judeo-christian god unless stated otherwise.

    Everything we make is simpler than ourself is it not? Even the most complex computer is not as complex as the human body. I think its safe therefor to presume that any creator similar to ourselfs ie a conscience beings, is more complex than anything they create. Therefor i would argue that we can safely assume God is more complex than his creation, the universe.

    Therefor the question "What made god?" is logically more complex than "What made the universe?"

    The god theory also comes with the questions "Why did god make the universe?","How did god make the universe?" and "When did god make the universe?"

    So "What made god?"

    Well you could say:

    God has always existed or something similar.

    The Big Bang.

    I don't know.

    Well my questions would be:

    Why can't the universe have always existed but god can? Why complicate the question "What made the universe?" into the more complex "What made god?" and the questions that come with it when actually in the end you do not really answer the question of how the universe came to be.

    Why complicate the big bang theory with god? You have a good scientific theory with some evidence for it. Why then go add a conscience being into it when all it does is complicates the theory as well as there being no scientific proof for god.

    Then why not just say you don't know what made the universe rather than make the question more complicated?

    Whoa! didn't realise how much i had wrote. I'll put up more later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Costrin View Post
    If you want to argue about arguing, then fine.
    Yes, I want to argue about arguing--how can you avoid it? If the two debators are coming out of completely different frameworks, then you're never going to reach consensus. And my theory is that certain aspects of your framework for argument preclude certain things that are crucial to my argument (I could be wrong here). Consequently, my only option is to question said framework.

    Note that I said "away from competing theories", of course you need evidence for the evidence, but that's assumed.
    Nevermind. I was questioning the statement "in a vacuum," by attempting to show that it's impossible to deal with anything in a vacuum, because knowledge is a recursive formula: you must have evidence for the evidence, and evidence for that evidence, and evidence for the evidence for the evidence, until you reach something that's self-evident. But that's not a direction I want to go in, as it's rather unpalatable to me.

    Anyway, I think that I'm not completely understanding what you mean about testing ideas in a vacuum with just the evidence and the theory, doing battle (which, by the way, is a very nice image). Can you state it differently or explain it more?

    Can God have caused itself? If God cannot have caused itself, and there's no alternative, then it must be something greater than God. Either A or B is a false dichotomy, there are many many theories as to how life and the universe began, and such arguments are never valid, unless of course there really is only two positions, and that one of them must be true.
    But that's the argument! God did not begin to exist, and therefore does not need a cause.

    Let me know if I'm wrong here: we agree on the premise "The universe began to exist at the Big Bang" or at least we are conceding it for the sake of the argument, and can busy ourselves with proving or disproving it later. If we agree on that, then the universe requires a cause, per premise 1 of the Cosmological Argument. This makes our dichotomy "Either the universe is created by itself, or the universe is created by something other than itself." Now, let's briefly grant it as a possibility that the universe is self-creating, rather than being created by an external cause (remember that this external cause must be without time or matter, since those both began at the big bang). When we test this theory against evidence, it doesn't hold water, because nothing else is self-created, so it's incredibly unlikely (in the absence of some other overwhelming evidence) that the universe is self-created. God, on the other hand, is self-existent, but not self-created, because He was never created, because he (again, by definition) never began to exist. That is the meaning of "eternal" or "atemporal".

    To state it another way, something has to be eternal, or you have infinite regress (y was caused by x, which was caused by w, which was caused by v, which was caused by u, literally ad infinitum, because each of them, not being eternal, began to exist). Now, by Ockham's Razor, it is simpler for there to be one eternal thing and one non-eternal thing than for there to be a chain of non-eternal things that caused each other, and then one eternal thing. Consequently, the simplest possible arrangement is for there to be one eternal, atemporal Cause, which then caused the universe.

    Now, just hypothetically, the one "eternal thing" could be a "ray" rather than a "line"; that is, it could extend back infinitely far, but have stopped at a given point, which would give you a deistic universe, in which a Cause (I won't call it God) created the universe and then ceased to exist. But that's completely irrelevant to our debate.

    That statement doesn't prove anything, it just states a position with no support.
    The support for the position is difficult to word, but yes, excuses aside, stated is it was, it is merely an assertion, sans evidence.

    I am not relying on these theories as my argument. If I recall, you are the one who brought them up in the first place, while I continually asserted their irrelevance to the question of God.
    Point taken (again).

    If the universe has always existed, then there is no need to prove a cause for it, as one would not exist. This is identical to your argument for God, except that here I "cut out the middleman" so to speak.
    But the point of premise one is that there is not a possibility that the universe has always existed. If you affirm "everything that begins to exist has a cause" and "the universe began to exist at a given point," you cannot also hold that the universe has always existed. All the argument is saying is that a cause for the universe must exist. Now, it's implications edge us closer to the Christian God, but all the argument is seeking to refute is the thing you just said (stated declaratively, rather than subjunctively): the universe has always existed, therefore it does not have a cause. The Cosmological argument proves that the universe does have a cause, because it began to exist, and everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    See above, there is a possibility that the universe has always existed. Then of course you are left in the same position as theistic theories of having no evidence. However, I again stress that just because one theory does not prove another.
    See above.

    Heh. I enjoy debating with you. You are willing to admit when you're wrong, and provide some counter arguments that I have not encountered much before.
    Gracias, and likewise. You're really making me refine my statements, which I'm always grateful for (or rather, for which I'm always grateful)! Glad I can bring something new into your thoughts; that's always nice.

    I see, it's all clicking together now. I did not fully understand this argument until now. The misunderstanding especially arose in a different definition of 'conceive'. When I conceive a perfect a being, I don't imagine anything really, it's like a book telling me "a perfect being exists in this story", but does offer any explanation as to it's properties. Basically, it's like when I accept a premise given by an opponent in a debate as true for the sake of argument. In that capacity, I can conceive of a perfect being. However, if such a being actually existed, it would have no form, no properties, would not effect the world. Clearly, this is not what this argument is trying to achieve.

    Let's take a hypothetical situation. I am imagining a pile of 1 million dollars, right next to me. This pile is the perfect pile of 1 million dollars, and that includes the property of being existent. However, I do not see a pile of 1 million dollars beside me. Hopefully this should illuminate the faultiness of this argument.

    Also, what evidence internal and external evidence do you refer to?
    [irrational feeling-based rant]Oh, that was me being airy and faux-poetic, and not entirely rational. The idea was that one is constantly bombarded with evidence that it's better to be alive than to be not alive, from which one extrapolates the idea that to exist is better than to not exist. The evidence that being alive is better than not being alive, well, it's not rational, it's merely perceived and understood. You know, it's... enjoying life! Or, inductively, the fact that the majority of people don't commit suicide, and the fact that everything in nature is constantly fighting to survive, to continue "being"[/irrational feeling-based rant]

    The traditional response to your objection (that I've heard) is that the pile of 1 million dollar bills does not have every perfection, and so does not meet the terms of the argument, e.g., the 1 million dollar bills are not perfectly knowledgeable, because inanimate objects can't know things, at least not in the rational sense of the word. So it is impossible to have a "perfect pile of 1 million dollar bills."

    This is all in the definition of the word "perfect". In your objection, the word perfect (probably) means something close to "ideal relative to other objects in its category," what Plato might call (somewhat awkwardly), "the form of a pile of 1 million dollar bills". But in the argument, the word perfect means "ideal relative to all of reality," what Plato would (and does) call the "Form of the Good". Per the objection, the object possess every perfection that it is possible for that particular object to have; per the argument, the being possesses every perfection that it is possible for anything to have, including existence. You'll grant that certain objects can't have certain perfections,

    I get what you mean about the different definitions of "conceive". See what I mean about refining my language/defining my terms? By the way, this whole "definition of terms" bit is part of the reason that Mr. Hart rejects the idea of arguments for God's existence: language itself is an imperfect means of communication, and we can't communicate an argument perfectly. Thus we are forced to rely on beauty as evidence, because beauty works outside of language. Language can be a vessel for beauty, but beauty is something other than language, analogous to the way in which sheet music for a given song is a vessel for the song, but the song itself is something other than sheet music. This is horribly off-topic. Sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJ99 View Post
    Why can't the universe have always existed but god can? Why complicate the question "What made the universe?" into the more complex "What made god?" and the questions that come with it when actually in the end you do not really answer the question of how the universe came to be.

    Why complicate the big bang theory with god? You have a good scientific theory with some evidence for it. Why then go add a conscience being into it when all it does is complicates the theory as well as there being no scientific proof for god.
    Sorry for the double post.

    To answer your questions, the answer to the question "why can't the universe have always existed" is "The Big Bang Theory". Now, there's an occasional misunderstanding (both by theists and nonthesists) wherein people believe that the Big Bang caused the universe. This is untrue. The Big Bang Theory merely describes the process of its expansion from an infinitely hot and infinitely dense condition, before which space-time did not exist, to the universe as we know it today.

    Now, as to "why complicate the Big Bang theory with God?" My answer is that the Big Bang Theory and the proposition "God created the universe" answer totally different questions. The Big Bang Theory tells me that the universe was once infinitely hot and infinitely dense, and has been expanding and cooling ever since. If you're satisfied with knowing that, then great! But most scientists would find it confusing that this pocket of infinite heat and infinite density containing all of what we know as the universe today randomly and spontaneously popped into existence, and that it just decided to begin expanding. Consequently, it is more logical to believe that something caused the pocket of infinitely hot and dense matter to begin existing and expanding than to believe that this occurred on its own. So then, my belief is that yes, the existence of God does complicate matters. But surely science prioritizes completeness over simplicity! Otherwise, we would have said "well, the data shows that matter must be composed of something, but determining what matter is composed of would complicate matters, so let's just leave it at that" and molecules and atoms never would have been discovered or described. I would much rather have the complicated truth than an easy incomplete theory.

    If I may editorialize for a moment, it's really depressing that people don't believe that there's any logical evidence for the existence of God. Both from a pedagogical standpoint (who failed to teach all of these people about Aquinas and Augustine, and for that matter, important stands of Plato and Aristotle?) and from the church's perspective (why do we emphasize screaming, hollering, and giving money, but never the fact that there are good, sound reasons for believing what we believe), I find it disheartening that no one bothers to express all of the brilliant thinkers who have provided compelling arguments for God's existence. Now, if you examine the evidence and come to the conclusion that it's wrong, then fine. But the fact that no one knows that there's evidence at all is just sad. If you would, do me a favor and look up Thomas Aquinas, David Bentley Hart, Alvin Plantinga, J.P. Moreland, Karl Barth, even William Lane Craig. You'll find logical arguments for God (note that "logical" does not mean "scientific," and I'd be more than glad to have that date on a different topic), if you'll just look for them, I promise.

  6. #386
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    Quote Originally Posted by silverchris9 View Post
    Yes, I want to argue about arguing--how can you avoid it? If the two debators are coming out of completely different frameworks, then you're never going to reach consensus. And my theory is that certain aspects of your framework for argument preclude certain things that are crucial to my argument (I could be wrong here). Consequently, my only option is to question said framework.
    Seems you didn't see my edit. How long were you typing this response? Anyway, you cannot prove that. It's impossible. But you also can't prove that 2+2=4. But in both cases, they just make sense. If a put a pile of two and a pile of two together, I get a pile of four. Similarly, it just makes sense that evidence for one theory does not constitute negative evidence for another theory.


    Nevermind. I was questioning the statement "in a vacuum," by attempting to show that it's impossible to deal with anything in a vacuum, because knowledge is a recursive formula: you must have evidence for the evidence, and evidence for that evidence, and evidence for the evidence for the evidence, until you reach something that's self-evident. But that's not a direction I want to go in, as it's rather unpalatable to me.

    Anyway, I think that I'm not completely understanding what you mean about testing ideas in a vacuum with just the evidence and the theory, doing battle (which, by the way, is a very nice image). Can you state it differently or explain it more?
    Imagine a race. All possible explanations for a phenomena are at the starting line. Scientists then go around finding evidence. All theories that the evidence supports move up, all other theories stay at the starting line. The theories are not directly competing, like in a boxing match, but they are competing indirectly, to be the theory that agrees fully with all the evidence, like an olympic runner does not compete directly with the other runners, but with the track, and with his body.


    But that's the argument! God did not begin to exist, and therefore does not need a cause.

    Let me know if I'm wrong here: we agree on the premise "The universe began to exist at the Big Bang" or at least we are conceding it for the sake of the argument, and can busy ourselves with proving or disproving it later.
    We do not agree. Truly my position is, "I don't know" about how the universe started. Big Bang theory has many problems, but so do all theories. There are many many theories in which the universe does not have a cause, including several varieties of Big Bang theory. If the universe has a cause, then there is a possibility that it is God (of course, depending on the definition of God in use, greater than the universe automatically means God), however even if for the sake of argument I accept that God caused the universe, that doesn't really mean anything. God, for all we know just set the initial parameters and then never interfered again, and may never, or is possibly incapable of it. While some would be satisfied with that *coughDeistscough*, I don't think this is the image of God that you wish to portray (or at least not the one that many believers wish to). As what is the difference between this and jan unfeeling, uncaring universe, for practical purposes?

    If we agree on that, then the universe requires a cause, per premise 1 of the Cosmological Argument. This makes our dichotomy "Either the universe is created by itself, or the universe is created by something other than itself." Now, let's briefly grant it as a possibility that the universe is self-creating, rather than being created by an external cause (remember that this external cause must be without time or matter, since those both began at the big bang). When we test this theory against evidence, it doesn't hold water, because nothing else is self-created, so it's incredibly unlikely (in the absence of some other overwhelming evidence) that the universe is self-created. God, on the other hand, is self-existent, but not self-created, because He was never created, because he (again, by definition) never began to exist. That is the meaning of "eternal" or "atemporal".

    To state it another way, something has to be eternal, or you have infinite regress (y was caused by x, which was caused by w, which was caused by v, which was caused by u, literally ad infinitum, because each of them, not being eternal, began to exist). Now, by Ockham's Razor, it is simpler for there to be one eternal thing and one non-eternal thing than for there to be a chain of non-eternal things that caused each other, and then one eternal thing. Consequently, the simplest possible arrangement is for there to be one eternal, atemporal Cause, which then caused the universe.

    Now, just hypothetically, the one "eternal thing" could be a "ray" rather than a "line"; that is, it could extend back infinitely far, but have stopped at a given point, which would give you a deistic universe, in which a Cause (I won't call it God) created the universe and then ceased to exist. But that's completely irrelevant to our debate.
    I'll grant that this would be true, if you assume the starting principles are true, however, see my objections above.

    But the point of premise one is that there is not a possibility that the universe has always existed. If you affirm "everything that begins to exist has a cause" and "the universe began to exist at a given point," you cannot also hold that the universe has always existed. All the argument is saying is that a cause for the universe must exist. Now, it's implications edge us closer to the Christian God, but all the argument is seeking to refute is the thing you just said (stated declaratively, rather than subjunctively): the universe has always existed, therefore it does not have a cause. The Cosmological argument proves that the universe does have a cause, because it began to exist, and everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    By the italicizing, do you mean to say that there is no possibility that the universe has always existed? If so, then I would ask you to prove that position, which is of course, logically impossible. I assume you don't mean that though, so see above.

    Gracias, and likewise. You're really making me refine my statements, which I'm always grateful for (or rather, for which I'm always grateful)! Glad I can bring something new into your thoughts; that's always nice.
    Weee.


    [irrational feeling-based rant]Oh, that was me being airy and faux-poetic, and not entirely rational. The idea was that one is constantly bombarded with evidence that it's better to be alive than to be not alive, from which one extrapolates the idea that to exist is better than to not exist. The evidence that being alive is better than not being alive, well, it's not rational, it's merely perceived and understood. You know, it's... enjoying life! Or, inductively, the fact that the majority of people don't commit suicide, and the fact that everything in nature is constantly fighting to survive, to continue "being"[/irrational feeling-based rant]
    I know it's an irrational feeling-based rant, but I feel compelled to answer it anyway, and you can't stop me! Organisms fight to survive, because to do anything else, would be impossible (or rather, if they didn't then they would die out, and wouldn't stick around to continue not fighting to survive). There is nothing inherently superior about survival, just that only the things which survive exist to be observed. For all we know, the dead organisms are enjoying a nice relaxing vacation at the beach in HeavenLand (tm).

    The traditional response to your objection (that I've heard) is that the pile of 1 million dollar bills does not have every perfection, and so does not meet the terms of the argument, e.g., the 1 million dollar bills are not perfectly knowledgeable, because inanimate objects can't know things, at least not in the rational sense of the word. So it is impossible to have a "perfect pile of 1 million dollar bills."

    This is all in the definition of the word "perfect". In your objection, the word perfect (probably) means something close to "ideal relative to other objects in its category," what Plato might call (somewhat awkwardly), "the form of a pile of 1 million dollar bills". But in the argument, the word perfect means "ideal relative to all of reality," what Plato would (and does) call the "Form of the Good". Per the objection, the object possess every perfection that it is possible for that particular object to have; per the argument, the being possesses every perfection that it is possible for anything to have, including existence. You'll grant that certain objects can't have certain perfections,
    So, if it posses, every quality possible to have, then wouldn't it contain contradictory qualities? Such as existance and non-existance, weightlessness and the weight of the universe, blindness and the ability to see all spectrums. Along with the traditional "omni paradoxes", such as "Can God create a boulder so heavy he can not lift it?", and the omniscience vs free will paradox, etc. But even more than that, I argue that perfection doesn't exist, not in any objective fashion, at least. It's all entirely subjective, depending on what qualities one likes and dislikes. There is nothing inherent about any property of anything that is perfect, or non-perfect, it just is.

    I get what you mean about the different definitions of "conceive". See what I mean about refining my language/defining my terms? By the way, this whole "definition of terms" bit is part of the reason that Mr. Hart rejects the idea of arguments for God's existence: language itself is an imperfect means of communication, and we can't communicate an argument perfectly. Thus we are forced to rely on beauty as evidence, because beauty works outside of language. Language can be a vessel for beauty, but beauty is something other than language, analogous to the way in which sheet music for a given song is a vessel for the song, but the song itself is something other than sheet music. This is horribly off-topic. Sorry.
    It wouldn't be a debate without semantic arguments.

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    Imagine a race. All possible explanations for a phenomena are at the starting line. Scientists then go around finding evidence. All theories that the evidence supports move up, all other theories stay at the starting line. The theories are not directly competing, like in a boxing match, but they are competing indirectly, to be the theory that agrees fully with all the evidence, like an olympic runner does not compete directly with the other runners, but with the track, and with his body.
    I have been reading these posts thoughtfully and I still don't see what the fault or problem is with this explanation for atheism or agnosticism.

    We do not agree. Truly my position is, "I don't know" about how the universe started. Big Bang theory has many problems, but so do all theories. There are many many theories in which the universe does not have a cause, including several varieties of Big Bang theory. If the universe has a cause, then there is a possibility that it is God (of course, depending on the definition of God in use, greater than the universe automatically means God), however even if for the sake of argument I accept that God caused the universe, that doesn't really mean anything. God, for all we know just set the initial parameters and then never interfered again, and may never, or is possibly incapable of it. While some would be satisfied with that *coughDeistscough*, I don't think this is the image of God that you wish to portray (or at least not the one that many believers wish to). As what is the difference between this and jan unfeeling, uncaring universe, for practical purposes?
    My position is also "I don't know" and so my other position is agnosticism. The word "if" is what gets me in this discussion. It's IF the universe has a cause. We can back and forth with theoretical positions and different arguments proposed by historical figures (I have studied Aquinas and Augustine, but in the context of literature/history) but no one posting here can *know* whether or not the universe has a 'cause'.*

    Is changing form a 'cause'? Could one conceive of the Big Bang merely as a changing of form? And, what followed it?

    before which space-time did not exist
    Is this accepted, generally, in the scientific community? (I'm asking because I don't know)

    I don't know, call me pigheaded but when it comes to questions like this (and this might be the classic one) - does God exist? - there's such a disconnect between the concrete discussion, and the more abstract theoretical one. In no way, believe me, am I pooping on theoretical discussion but the fairly simple fact remains, for me, that I need proof. I can grant all sorts of possibilities, but in order to *believe* something, I need some kind of concrete proof. And that's why I don't believe, at this time.

    If I may editorialize for a moment, it's really depressing that people don't believe that there's any logical evidence for the existence of God. Both from a pedagogical standpoint (who failed to teach all of these people about Aquinas and Augustine, and for that matter, important stands of Plato and Aristotle?) and from the church's perspective (why do we emphasize screaming, hollering, and giving money, but never the fact that there are good, sound reasons for believing what we believe), I find it disheartening that no one bothers to express all of the brilliant thinkers who have provided compelling arguments for God's existence. Now, if you examine the evidence and come to the conclusion that it's wrong, then fine. But the fact that no one knows that there's evidence at all is just sad.
    This bugs me a bit. Why does anyone have to have 'failed' to teach people? How do you know a person is unaware of these positions? One might simply disagree that they offer proof (I do). Earlier in this thread I posted a couple of times that I respect religious people - some of them, anyway - and have always been envious of their certainty, and their seriousness (again, some of them) - I personally am not interested in portraying all believers as wild-eyed simpletons with a penchant for speaking in tongues. As for expressing the ideas of these brilliant thinkers - wouldn't that be the job of the believers, technically? I am not arguing for belief, so it's not my job, in terms of the argument, to find and state arguments... for belief. Of course, it's possible you were addressing this to the believers.

    To be honest, I would be really happy to have proof of God. I'd like there to be a benevolent God.

    *I quoted Costrin, but am mainly replying to Silverchris9, if that wasn't clear.
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    This bugs me a bit. Why does anyone have to have 'failed' to teach people? How do you know a person is unaware of these positions? One might simply disagree that they offer proof (I do). Earlier in this thread I posted a couple of times that I respect religious people - some of them, anyway - and have always been envious of their certainty, and their seriousness (again, some of them) - I personally am not interested in portraying all believers as wild-eyed simpletons with a penchant for speaking in tongues. As for expressing the ideas of these brilliant thinkers - wouldn't that be the job of the believers, technically? I am not arguing for belief, so it's not my job, in terms of the argument, to find and state arguments... for belief. Of course, it's possible you were addressing this to the believers.
    Yeah, failed was harsh language, but it wasn't intended to apply to you. It was intended to apply to people who make the specific statement, "there is no evidence for God". There is a difference between saying, as you do, "I have looked at evidence and I'm not convinced" or even "there may be evidence, but I am not interested in reading it," and making the wholly unfounded statement "there is no evidence for God". Even a theory that the scientific community discards has some evidence for it, or it would have been impossible to even bother to write about. If you're aware of the existence of a work like Summa Theologica, how can you say there's no evidence for the existence of God? Also, regarding your statement that expressing the arguments of brilliant thinkers is the job of believers, weren't the brilliant thinkers believers? Why is it a requirement that some hypothetical brigade of believers recite arguments, when the arguments in their best form are available, say, on the internet? In an argument, yes, it would be the believers responsibility to present the arguments for belief (that was good, btw). But my point is, when you make a minor decision, you look for evidence for and against. When you're making a decision as to whether or not God exists, which changes one's entire metaphysical understanding (and possibly, one's entire life), I would probably make at least a cursory glance at the evidence for and against. And my belief is that it's a part of good teaching, good scholarship, to at least acknowledge the existence of alternative views, and to not dismiss them as unfounded without at least being aware of them.

    Now, I can't say that I've made enough study of evidence against God, but that's what this discussion is for, right? So I'm really not attacking you, Kangirl, because I really respect people like you who are at least passingly familiar with the fact that some very smart people have argued that God exists, even if you're not convinced by them. My belief is that you are incorrect, but as far as I'm concerned, my respect increases by several orders of magnitude when I find considered statements like yours and Costrin's than when I encounter statements that clearly have no basis in fact, i.e., "there is no evidence for God", unless the statement is qualified I believe in God, but I would never make such an obviously false statement as "there is no evidence for atheism" or "there is no evidence for Darwinism" or "there is no evidence for pantheism," because one trip to the library proves that such statements are demonstrably false.

    I did a fairly quick wikipedia look-over, and I believe that "before which space-time did not exist" is a conclusion taken from the "Hartle-Hawking state," which holds that space-time is finite. It may or may not be universally accepted, but I believe that it is fairly popular. I'm fairly certain that steady-state theory is discredited, but apparently there are theories that argue that the Big Bang does not inherently preclude an eternal universe, but these are (I think) tied up in highly speculative things like string theory.

    I was addressing believers and nonbelievers. I wish that believers emphasized this stuff more, and I wish nonbelievers didn't dismiss it out of hand, or not know that it even existed.

    What is "concrete proof" to you? Is it scientific evidence based on observable phenomena, and if not, how much broader is it than this?


    Costrin, I started my response early in the day, and then I added and subtracted at various times in the day until I posted it.

    Okay, so I understand your position better now, I think. What I don't understand is how it follows that this position precludes the Cosmological argument. Perhaps if I rephrased it as such:

    If the universe began to exist, then it has a cause
    The universe began to exist
    Therefore it has a cause.

    The evidence for "if the universe began to exist, then it has a cause" is the inductive argument "everything that I have seen that begins to exist has a cause." The evidence for "the universe began to exist" is the Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang Theory in this case is merely evidence for the evidence, and is in no way in any sort of "direct competition" with "God exists". I don't think it violates your principle.

    Evidence 1) Anything that begins to exist has a cause
    -Support: everything that I have seen that begins to exist has a cause.
    Evidence 2) The universe began to exist
    -Support: The Big Bang Theory (every time I type this, I keep thinking about the TV show. Okay, sorry, just wanted to say that.)

    God, for all we know just set the initial parameters and then never interfered again, and may never, or is possibly incapable of it. While some would be satisfied with that *coughDeistscough*, I don't think this is the image of God that you wish to portray (or at least not the one that many believers wish to). As what is the difference between this and jan unfeeling, uncaring universe, for practical purposes?
    I agree. This is the limitation of the cosmological argument. It really only gets us as far as Deism, but hey, historically (since Descartes, anyway), thinkers progressed from theism to deism to naturalism, so I don't see why we theists can't just inch it in the other direction! And if we establish a deistic universe, then we can proceed to rule out lots and lots of other theories of the universe. Coming to a more accurate understanding of how the universe works is just better, because it can lead to a more accurate understanding of several other things which do have more practical applications. Practically, there is no distinction. But surely factual distinctions matter, even if the practical applications haven't been worked out, or even don't exist. Of course, that principle rests on the idea that truth is inherently better than non-truth, which is sort of undermined by the position you take later on:

    So, if it posses, every quality possible to have, then wouldn't it contain contradictory qualities? Such as existance and non-existance, weightlessness and the weight of the universe, blindness and the ability to see all spectrums. Along with the traditional "omni paradoxes", such as "Can God create a boulder so heavy he can not lift it?", and the omniscience vs free will paradox, etc. But even more than that, I argue that perfection doesn't exist, not in any objective fashion, at least. It's all entirely subjective, depending on what qualities one likes and dislikes. There is nothing inherent about any property of anything that is perfect, or non-perfect, it just is.
    Well, of course, you'll note that the argument says "perfection" rather than "quality". Evilness is (arguably) a "quality" but certainly not a "perfection". Ignorance is a "quality" but not a "perfection". But you don't agree that it is possible to have a perfection. So you're going to make me defend the concept of perfections? Really? Really, really? Okay, I don't quite know how to do this, but I'll try.

    To me, this returns to your 2+2=4 thing. How can one defend the proposition "x is better than y." It is just inherently better. Knowledge is inherently better than ignorance. Order is inherently better than chaos. Being is inherently better than non-being. Truth is inherently better than non-truth. If you don't affirm at least some actual, inherent superiorities, then how is Martin Luther King Jr. better than Hitler? If knowledge is better than ignorance, then it is a perfection to have all knowledge and no ignorance. If justice is better than injustice, then it is a perfection to have all justice and no injustice. This is, in my opinion, just properly basic.

    Also, the omni-paradoxes were solved, for me anyway, by the argument that "God cannot defy His own nature." Thus when Christians say "God can do anything," we really mean "God can do anything but contradict Himself." God cannot create a square circle, because to do so would be logically incoherent (disorderly) and He is a God of order. God cannot create an immovable object, because He can't violate Himself. That's probably an insufficient way of stating it; I don't know if it would stand up to scrutiny, but it makes sense to me. I should probably find a better defense of it.

    I know it's an irrational feeling-based rant, but I feel compelled to answer it anyway, and you can't stop me! Organisms fight to survive, because to do anything else, would be impossible (or rather, if they didn't then they would die out, and wouldn't stick around to continue not fighting to survive). There is nothing inherently superior about survival, just that only the things which survive exist to be observed. For all we know, the dead organisms are enjoying a nice relaxing vacation at the beach in HeavenLand (tm).
    Meh. My principle is that physical facts imply metaphysical realities. But I suppose I can't really use facts gleaned in this manner in defense of God, because the only logical justification I have for that principle is the idea of the "General Revelation" of God, the way in which God's creation reveals itself. That, and romantic poetry/Walt Whitman, which would go back to that whole "beauty-as-evidence" bit. But, yes, you're right. In the absence of God, there is no reason to believe that the fact that all organisms attempt to survive implies that being is better than nonbeing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by silverchris9 View Post
    If you're aware of the existence of a work like Summa Theologica, how can you say there's no evidence for the existence of God?
    Philosophies are not evidence.
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

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    I seriously believe that humans' final destiny is a putrefying corpse, and we have nothing to look forward to after that. For some, belief in God is an edifying experience that aids in growth, maturity, and intelligence. However for me, I can never permit myself to believe in such a thing so long as I am alive, even the possibility of a god does exist. Why? Because I would become complacent, and not live life to its fullest. I would never use my brain to its maximum capacity, since I know that I will be rewarded with "salvation" as long as I behave and believe faithfully. The possibility that God doesn't exist invigorates me, and motivates me to do my best and live life like there is no tomorrow (most of the time).

    What if God doesn't exist, or doesn't even like us? Then you must take advantage of every living moment of your physical life. That's just the way I see things, no offense intended.

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