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Arguments for the existence of God

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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philbo
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#61 Post by philbo » September 14th, 2010, 3:03 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Mickey, I put to you that you cannot think of an "absolute being", because you don't actually know what one is. Your imagination simply isn't up to conjuring up something so complete - all you're doing is fooling yourself into thinking that you've thought of it, therefore it exists. Which is about as fucking stupid as any argument I have ever heard. Ever.

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#62 Post by Matthew » September 14th, 2010, 4:19 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi Matthew,

Re. the MA: If the first syllogism proves the existence of God then we're done, God exists. That's what proof means. You cannot then have another syllogism which disproves God's existence. There is no tertium quid, existence and non-existence are contraries. Therefore the second syllogism must involve epistemological and/or formal and/or factual errors, and/or psychological prejudice.
I agree that, given P1 (which is highly disputed of course!) only one of the two syllogisms can be sound. The question is - which one? You are right that it comes down to a question of epistemology. But that is why we call these things arguments and not proofs. Our certainty about our conclusion depends on our weighing of the evidence, which is subjective. This phenomenon runs all the way through to our arguments about epistemology as well, so to claim absolute certainty about a conclusion is to have absolute certainty about your epistemology - and that runs into circular reasoning. Are you certain that your epistemology is correct? If you are, how do you avoid circular reasoning? If not, how can you claim to be certain about the conclusions of arguments (if you are not certain of how certain you are!)?

Also, from a theistic perspective, isn't absolute certainty the kind of epistemic status that only God should have as the only objective knower? Interested in your thoughts.

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#63 Post by mickeyd » September 14th, 2010, 5:46 pm

Hi Matthew,
The question is - which one?
So one of them is sound (compelling). But then you can't argue that no arguments can be sound by the nature of arguments, since in that case neither of the arguments could be sound. With respect Matthew, I think there is a contradiction in your position here.

Your proposition of a circularity in the nature of argumentation is really asking where does knowledge begin - what is the starting point for knowing anything. We reject pure rationalism and pure empiricism for obvious reasons; the former because it makes reason the measure of truth, but then founders on the well known problem of establishing inductive certainty; the latter because without a priori intuitions, categories, abilities to combine, relate and abstract, and so forth, sense can never progress to perception. Do we then start with God? No we must start with logic because "God" has no meaning unless it excludes its opposite "not God". If we would think meaningfully we must think logically. But then are we not rationalists? No, because our acceptance of logic is a common sense necessity that finds its ultimate validation in God. Having been led by logic to God, we then find the source of logic, an infinite being.

I agree that, given P1 (which is highly disputed of course!)
But we must expect atheists to be highly disputatious. Their prejudice against God is unresolved. This must not in the least deter us from explaining to them, respectfully, why their rejection of the theistic proofs is unsound, stemming not from rationality but from irrational prejudice.

Your P1 is self-evidently true, since ethics has no meaning except in relation to significant beings. But materialism states that all being, processes and phenomena are results or manifestations of matter. If, on this premise, it cannot be shown that matter is significant (and how can it?) then it cannot be shown that human beings are significant.


Regards,
Mickey

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#64 Post by Matthew » September 14th, 2010, 6:20 pm

mickeyd wrote:So one of them is sound (compelling). But then you can't argue that no arguments can be sound by the nature of arguments, since in that case neither of the arguments could be sound. With respect Matthew, I think there is a contradiction in your position here.
I don't think I've ever stated that no argument can be sound. I have claimed that no argument demonstrates its conclusion with absolute certainty, because of the subjective nature of finite knowers.
Your proposition of a circularity in the nature of argumentation is really asking where does knowledge begin - what is the starting point for knowing anything.
There is circularity in the notion of absolute certainty, not argumentation in general.
Their prejudice against God is unresolved. This must not in the least deter us from explaining to them, respectfully, why their rejection of the theistic proofs is unsound, stemming not from rationality but from irrational prejudice.
The obvious response, for the atheist, though, is that theists have an irrational prejudice towards favouring the soundness of theistic arguments.
Your P1 is self-evidently true, since ethics has no meaning except in relation to significant beings.
It is this kind of use of language that is making interpretation of your arguments extremely difficult.

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#65 Post by mickeyd » September 14th, 2010, 9:44 pm

Hi Matthew,

"no argument demonstrates its conclusion with absolute certainty"
What if every counter argument is illogical? I quote from my last posting: "our acceptance of logic is a common sense necessity that finds its ultimate validation in God."

The obvious response, for the atheist, though, is that theists have an irrational prejudice towards favouring the soundness of theistic arguments.
Which is why they will only be persuaded, if they will be persuaded at all, by the conviction that our arguments constitute rational proof. Atheists reject any accusation that they are irrational, but in so doing they place the stepping stone of rationality in front of us by which we advance into their camp and demonstrate the falsity of their position - but again, with full respect for them; apologetics is not a game it’s a matter of eternal life and death.

Regards,
Mickey

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#66 Post by Matthew » September 15th, 2010, 12:37 am

mickeyd wrote:What if every counter argument is illogical? I quote from my last posting: "our acceptance of logic is a common sense necessity that finds its ultimate validation in God."
This isn't really a response to what I said. And, by the way, there is more than one "logic": for example, Plantinga's ontological argument relies on S5 modal logic, which is not universally accepted. It seems to me like you've been reading a bit too much Schaeffer and Van Til and you need to do a bit more groundwork on your general philosophy.
mickeyd wrote:Which is why they will only be persuaded, if they will be persuaded at all, by the conviction that our arguments constitute rational proof. Atheists reject any accusation that they are irrational, but in so doing they place the stepping stone of rationality in front of us by which we advance into their camp and demonstrate the falsity of their position - but again, with full respect for them; apologetics is not a game it’s a matter of eternal life and death.
I'm sure your sweeping generalisations of atheists will really help you persuade them, Mickey.

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Alan H
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#67 Post by Alan H » September 15th, 2010, 1:12 am

:popcorn:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#68 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 10:38 am

Hi Matthew,
no argument demonstrates its conclusion with absolute certainty
Are you certain of this?

Mick

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#69 Post by Matthew » September 15th, 2010, 4:14 pm

mickeyd wrote:
Are you certain of this?

Mick
Not absolutely certain, because it's logically possible that I could be wrong. But "absolutely" is the key qualifier. One can be certain (convinced based on assessment of reasons and evidence) without being absolutely certain. For example, I'm not absolutely certain that I'm not a Brain in a Vat (BIV), but I am certain that I'm not.

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#70 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 5:03 pm

Hi Matthew,
One can be certain (convinced based on assessment of reasons and evidence) without being absolutely certain.
Certainty is certainty, your qualifier "absolute" is irrelevant.

So I ask again, are you certain of your conclusion that no conclusion can be certain?

Mick

Nirvanam
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#71 Post by Nirvanam » September 15th, 2010, 5:18 pm

Mickeyd,

A simple question to you... if what a human being does in say 100 years of his life on Earth becomes a reason for him to spend the rest of his soul's existence as in eternity in either hell or heaven...how fair is that according to you?

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#72 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 5:58 pm

Hi Nirvanam,

You raise a profound question, and I preface my remarks below by observing that the origin of evil is nowhere finally explained in the Christian faith. If God created human beings with an inclination only to evil then God would be evil, but God is good. Alternatively, if God created us with an inclination only to good, then why did we (and do we) do evil? Then again, if God created us with no inclination either way, how did we choose anything (either good or evil)?

However, I don't reject what I do know because of what I don't, and so I offer the remarks below, but grant that they are in no way a final explanation.

1. For evil to go unpunished would be unjust; justice requires retribution.

2. There seems to be no necessary reason why, if we can accept the justice of punishment for evil, that the duration of punishment should not exceed the duration of doing evil. For example, people are sent to prison for a longer duration of time than that in which they committed their crime(s).

3. To regard eternal punishment as unfair assumes that we know the true magnitude of the crime that has called forth the eternal punishment. Do any of us, can any of us, know how heinous it actually is to deliberately rebel against our infinite righteous Creator? Enmity towards God, and the pursuit of autonomy, robs God of his honour; and since God is infinite, we should suppose that such conduct is infinitely evil.

4. If God punishes forever those who hate him, it is equally true that they punish themselves forever. God is giving such people what they want; they don't want God, they want autonomy. Hell is eternal separation from God, the source of all good. In rejecting the Good they lose good, because God gives them over, finally and forever, to their own evil. Even if people in hell were to be offered the possibility of reconciliation with God, they would still reject it.

5. The Bible could not be clearer that all people have a cognitive awareness of God but repress it (Romans Chapter 1 and elsewhere). There is no excuse of ignorance. People deliberately, irrationally and perversely reject their Creator.


None of these points fully satisfy me, I admit it. Like everyone else, I want there to be a happy ending to the story but it's very difficult not to conclude that God has created a world in which a tragic element will be forever. But I also recognize that my perspective could, and no doubt will, change when I leave this world. I see only through the eyes of this time, this age, in which I am called to love my fellow human beings, whether they love or reject God; and as a redeemed sinner, but still a sinner, I emphathize with their plight; indeed, I am no better or different than them. But for the grace of God there go I.

Regards,
Mickey

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#73 Post by Matthew » September 15th, 2010, 6:18 pm

mickeyd wrote:
Certainty is certainty, your qualifier "absolute" is irrelevant.

So I ask again, are you certain of your conclusion that no conclusion can be certain?
Then perhaps this is our fundamental disagreement. I am certain that no conclusion can be absolutely certain. The natural meaning of 'certain' is 'confident', 'convinced', 'sure', 'free from reasonable doubt'. People qualify certainty all the time, saying "quite certain", "relatively certain", "absolutely certain", etc.

[We also need to be careful here with using 'certain' to refer to how strongly someone feels convinced and to refer to how well established a conclusion is - but I think that when we say "proposition P is certain" that's really shorthand for saying "I am certain that P is true".]

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#74 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 6:57 pm

Hi Matthew,

Are you absolutely certain that you exist? If not, then who is writing your posts?

Mick

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#75 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 7:11 pm

Hi Matthew,

When people say "quite certain" or "absolutely certain" the qualifier is merely for rhetorical emphasis, they don't mean anyone to understand that they think certainty is somehow less than certain. Indeed, it is precisely the absolute nature of certainty that creates the possibility of the rhetorical emphasis.

Further, by saying "relatively certain" people mean "probably", greater than 50% likelihood but not 100%. Again, it is precisely the 100% meaning of certainty that allows "relative certainty" to be defined as "probably" or "likely". The qualified phrase derives its meaning only from the unqualified root word.

Mick

Nirvanam
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#76 Post by Nirvanam » September 15th, 2010, 7:56 pm

Mickeyd, thanks for responding...I can already feel that you will at least provide reasons to why you believe what you believe whether they are logical or not for others...unlike Nick and Alan C.
mickeyd wrote:You raise a profound question, and I preface my remarks below by observing that the origin of evil is nowhere finally explained in the Christian faith.
Whose evil? Is what Nick calls evil, actually evil? Is what you call evil, actually evil? Is what I call evil, actually evil?
mickeyd wrote:Then again, if God created us with no inclination either way, how did we choose anything (either good or evil)?
Assuming this christian god created us, how did we choose anything?
mickeyd wrote:However, I don't reject what I do know because of what I don't, and so I offer the remarks below, but grant that they are in no way a final explanation.
Fair
mickeyd wrote:1. For evil to go unpunished would be unjust; justice requires retribution.
Who says so? Alan C? You? I? TH forum?
mickeyd wrote:2. There seems to be no necessary reason why, if we can accept the justice of punishment for evil, that the duration of punishment should not exceed the duration of doing evil. For example, people are sent to prison for a longer duration of time than that in which they committed their crime(s).
Because we do not understand the reason why, does it mean that we accept it? Ex - Humans (I am sorry European humans) did not know that Elephants had an ability to hear much more than us...they were able to hear sounds and react based on those sounds that humans were unable to hear. The indigenous populations accepted the Elephants had betetr ability and got on with life. The Europeans categorized it as trash until some scientists poked fun at them and told them, "you idiots, it is not bullshit it is because elephants have a hearing range of up to 20,000 hertz".
Moral of the story - because we do not why or how things happen, does not mean we cannot know in the future. Also, the duration of punishment and the duration of evil are not necessarily to be taken together. For ex, if the Brits were seriously interested to punish themselves or rid themselves of evil they would have done more than what they actually did in order to rid themselves of the guilt of the 300 year old systematic rape and loot of other geographies. Its a totally different story that their conscience was pricked only because the Nazi's gave them a hint of what it feels to be to be the victim of such systematic rape. Again, the reaction to Nazi holocaust and a systematic 300 yr old satanic (if u believe in satan), unHumanist, power-craving rape by the Brits are different. As our wise one, Alan C remarks, the victors decide how events are to be recorded.
Because a murder happens in 10 seconds does not mean punishment should be 10 seconds long. Because cultural-holocaust happens for 300 years it is very much the norm today that the punishment is to withdraw your forces from the land you mutilated for 300 yrs.
mickeyd wrote:3. To regard eternal punishment as unfair assumes that we know the true magnitude of the crime that has called forth the eternal punishment. Do any of us, can any of us, know how heinous it actually is to deliberately rebel against our infinite righteous Creator? Enmity towards God, and the pursuit of autonomy, robs God of his honour; and since God is infinite, we should suppose that such conduct is infinitely evil.
If God is infinite, as you say, then crime is a part of God? How can it not be part of God? Nothing exists outside infinity, does it? So why are u assuming that murder is criminal as per god? If god is the creator of this universe, then it also is responsible for creating everything within it including crime, innit?
mickeyd wrote:4. If God punishes forever those who hate him, it is equally true that they punish themselves forever. God is giving such people what they want; they don't want God, they want autonomy. Hell is eternal separation from God, the source of all good. In rejecting the Good they lose good, because God gives them over, finally and forever, to their own evil. Even if people in hell were to be offered the possibility of reconciliation with God, they would still reject it.
Wrong...god is not giving them what they want. You see they want autonomy...they don't want being burned in fire or fried in boiling oil. They wan't autonomy as you yourself said. Equating autonomy to hell is wrong
mickeyd wrote:5. The Bible could not be clearer that all people have a cognitive awareness of God but repress it (Romans Chapter 1 and elsewhere). There is no excuse of ignorance. People deliberately, irrationally and perversely reject their Creator.
Alright now in my country more than 95% of the population knows about Jesus. But they don't accept the bible. So according to you, my country, India, is evil?

mickeyd wrote:None of these points fully satisfy me, I admit it. Like everyone else, I want there to be a happy ending to the story but it's very difficult not to conclude that God has created a world in which a tragic element will be forever. But I also recognize that my perspective could, and no doubt will, change when I leave this world. I see only through the eyes of this time, this age, in which I am called to love my fellow human beings, whether they love or reject God; and as a redeemed sinner, but still a sinner, I emphathize with their plight; indeed, I am no better or different than them. But for the grace of God there go I.
then why not just be tolerant to these pathetic Humanists and me, just in case you aren't?

Another question to you. I had this friend of mine...she was a Pentacostle or something like that telling me about the Lord's word. And she came to this concept of "saving". I asked her if ppl were saved by JC then what about ppl before JC. She was smart she said, it was based on their moral values and what they did. I then asked her, if I go around of murdering people, do all sorts of evil deeds but I go to church then would I go to heaven. Her smartness was apparent...she said "no, going to church will not change it, accepting JC as the Lord and asking for forgiveness in his name will do". So, now I have a dilemma. Let me play this out for you -

If Hitler, Bush, The Brits of the 18th and 19th centuries who raped the world, the Americans of the 20th and 21st century who did the same, the Indians of the ages who were prejudiced against Sudras, all of them a few moments before they died (or for that matter even during their life, turned to JC and with their heart of hearts, from deep inside, no treachery nothing, plain true feelings, genuinely asked JC for forgiveness, will they go to heaven?

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#77 Post by Matthew » September 15th, 2010, 9:03 pm

mickeyd wrote:Are you absolutely certain that you exist? If not, then who is writing your posts?
I am as certain as one can be that the referent of 'I' in this sentence exists. But it is logically possible that the referent of 'I' in the previous sentence does not exist. Circular reasoning abounds in the world of cogito ergo sum, so beware.
mickeyd wrote:When people say "quite certain" or "absolutely certain" the qualifier is merely for rhetorical emphasis, they don't mean anyone to understand that they think certainty is somehow less than certain. Indeed, it is precisely the absolute nature of certainty that creates the possibility of the rhetorical emphasis.

Further, by saying "relatively certain" people mean "probably", greater than 50% likelihood but not 100%. Again, it is precisely the 100% meaning of certainty that allows "relative certainty" to be defined as "probably" or "likely". The qualified phrase derives its meaning only from the unqualified root word.
'Quite' and 'Absolutely' can be used for rhetorical emphasis, but there are regularly-used non-rhetorical uses as well. It seems to me that we use 'certain' in a similar way to the way we commonly use 'good'. To say that something is good, in common parlance, is not to say that it is perfect. So we can say something is 'very good' or 'quite good' or 'fairly good' or 'perfectly good'. This usage doesn't necessitate the word 'good' meaning perfect, and by analogy this usage doesn't necessitate the word 'certain' meaning 'absolutely certain'.

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#78 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 9:27 pm

Hi Matthew,

Forgive me, but you haven't answered my question. Are you 'absolutely certain' (your phrase) that you exist? Yes or no?

I'll answer the question for you by quoting your answer:
I am as certain as one can be that the referent of 'I' in this sentence exists.
On your own premises, "certain as one can be" does not equate to 'absolute certainty'. So you must think it possible that you do not exist. But your non-existence is impossible, because in that case you would not exist to think it possible. But you clearly do think it possible ("certain as one can be"). Therefore you exist - with 'absolute certainty'.

Mick

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#79 Post by mickeyd » September 15th, 2010, 9:41 pm

Hi Nirvanam,

You raise many questions, it will take time to answer them. Replying in the order you raise them:
Whose evil? Is what Nick calls evil, actually evil? Is what you call evil, actually evil? Is what I call evil, actually evil?
Does this mean that you don't believe in the reality of evil? If yes, then what is your view on, for example, torturing babies?

Regards,
Mickey

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#80 Post by Matthew » September 15th, 2010, 9:45 pm

mickeyd wrote:On your own premises, "certain as one can be" does not equate to 'absolute certainty'. So you must think it possible that you do not exist. But your non-existence is impossible, because in that case you would not exist to think it possible. But you clearly do think it possible ("certain as one can be"). Therefore you exist - with 'absolute certainty'.
To clarify, no, I am not absolutely certain that I exist. There exists a possible world in which I do not exist, and therefore it is logically possible that I don't exist.

Let P be a proposition that contains the first person pronoun "I".
Let B be the belief that P is true.

What is your argument from the existence of B to the existence of the referent of "I"?
(And of course, the non-existence of B is possible...)

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Alan C.
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#81 Post by Alan C. » September 15th, 2010, 10:17 pm

mickeyd
So you must think it possible that you do not exist. But your non-existence is impossible, because in that case you would not exist to think it possible. But you clearly do think it possible ("certain as one can be"). Therefore you exist - with 'absolute certainty'.
I think you need to up your medication mickey, :smile:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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