We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, August 14. 2009
A post of the above title, by Auster. Good fun about the cosmos, first causes, the vertical dimension of existence, etc.
I never had any problem hypothesizing a Big Mysterious Something, but many times I have had problems with the idea of a personal God who would be interested in me, much less love me. Still, I know that that is intellectualizing, and that God does not reach out to us mainly on an intellectual plane.
He talks to us everywhere, inside and outside. I just need to listen more. BD taught me that.
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Convenient timing on your comment because I will be speaking on that subject in my church in a couple of weeks.
Like you, I find the Big Mysterious Something or Prime Cause seems clear and logical. Things get fuzzy as soon as I move from Prime Cause and try to get more specific. I was raised a Catholic and I attend a Methodist church but I've tried several flavors of belief.
Personally, I wouldn't find God in a miracle nearly as clearly as I would find Him in a voice in my heart, one I could really understand as such. My more spiritual friends seem to think they've heard that voice themselves, or they tell me that my heart's guide to compassion is the voice of God's love speaking to me. They may be right, but a nice clear "Hey, Geoff, yes, it's Me," would be welcome. Of course, I can also take the tack that the Universe, or a mountain lake, or a bride and groom bailing out of their car on the way to their reception to help injured people at a car accident, are really sufficient signs of God and God's love. The bride and groom really did that; wonderful image in the newspaper Billings Gazette.
I skimmed the link to Auster and found what I expected: logic aiming at, as you put it, a "something."
All of the logical arguments given in the Auster link are anciently tried and long since shown to contain the same fallacy of logic: they assume the thing they aim to prove.
When I hear about "an argument for the existence of God" I can assume what I am going to find there, just as the argument assumes where it will end up, and is thus no argument.
Kant was the most devastating in that regard because the most thorough. But then he went on to propose a variant of the most able of the "arguments for the existence of God," Anslem's ontological one: Kant's famous Moral Imperative, which fails as an argument for the same reason he gave for its ancestor: assumes what it sets out to prove.
No, the is no argument, logical or otherwise, for the existence of God, either proving it or, just as importantly, disproving it. Kant demonstrated the latter also.
The reason there is no argument for the existence of God is simple: God has no second. He does not exist. He is existence and more. What has no second has no external referent by which to be proved or disproved.
Thankfully, God speaks for Himself. Nietzsche is correct to say that God does not exist. God is not a thing, not a being among beings, not even an ultimate being. Any one of those has a second and is therefore by definition finite.
God has no definition, no accurate description and no existence. God is Being Itself (esse ipsum), and even that statement is delusional and falsifies God.
No, there is no argument for the existence of God -- or the non-existence of God. "God has no second." or "God is God" is about the best one can do in making statements about God which maximally minimize falsification of God.
God speaks for Himself, thankfully. And can take care of Himself. He has no second. :-)
Godel, BTW, demonstrated this entire phenomenon from another direction, by demonstrating that nothing can be proved. No one has falsified that demonstration and no one can, for the very reasons Godel adduced.
No theologian has ever said that God exists. Such a statement is false on its face because it makes God a being among beings, a thing, as you put it.
I don't know that the statements trying to prove God "exists" falsify God. I think your statement that God is Being Itself is correct, but as a human I have to try to make an image of God that I can understand. I know that the image I can understand of God is far less than God is, but it gives me something I can form into language and thought and expression.
As for God speaking for Himself, now we're back to the problems that the Barrister and I seem to share. I can actually believe in a God that loves me -- I do believe -- but I long for the clear knowledge that eludes me. That voice in my ear or in my heart. But then, if Moses talked to God in a bush and still had problems with faith, I suppose I can understand my own faith problems.
Geoff, an image of God is not God. When the desire to understand God, to have an image of Him, is renounced, He is present satisfactorily. However, renouncing that desire is unconjuring the devil and that chap does not let go without a fatal fight.
Intellectual struggles with faith are a waste of time.
I opened my heart to Christ many years ago, and He walked right in and made a big difference.
Still a sinner, but a Christian sinner!
Well I was an ultra-intellectual Atheist for years, and had a completely unintellectual conversion experience. Faith comes through the grace of God, not through the self-directed mind, though God may choose to speak through some through the intellect.
Still, we are obliged to try to reach ters--surely this cannot hurt.
I was a sweet Presbyterian for years and had two completely mind-blowing conversion experiences almost simultaneously. I learned what predestination meant, and I watched my friends go to confession, come out and pick up their beers and laugh about how many Hail Marys they got. Then I learned Jews are not welcome in heaven, and I decided religion wasn't for me. I chose to speak to God through my intellect, and He told me to have faith in myself first, before all else, have faith in myself. He was right. God micromanages nothing, so it's up to us, and the only way to do it right is to have faith in yourself. From there, all else falls into place.
Of course God has an interest in you. But He's not about to interfere with your right to screw up.
"Of course God has an interest in you." Who is 'you'? He doesn't have an interest in Jews. Or Muslim women. Or the innocents in Africa. Who is YOU?
If he's not about to interfere with your 'right' to screw up, why should anyone bother praying? Not all prayers are to his glory. A lot are pleas for help to keep from screwing up or to please forgive the screwing up. Or to please keep my child alive.
Your comments disconnect. If he has an interest in you, then he has an interest in seeing you safe. And if he doesn't have an interest in seeing you safe, why worship such a god?
Any chance you could quote the Bible information on what you have just declared?
Meta, your points bear on the theories of Deism and Theism (or so I see them). Deism is usually the theory of the impersonal God or Prime Cause who set everything in motion and now lets events take their courses. This God may not love us or the Universe and we do not fathom His personality or intentions at all.
The Theist God may, in fact, intervene or has ordered the Universe so that things come right unless we somehow defy Him. Not necessarily that defying Him incurs His anger, but that acting against God's will means that the ordering for good will work less effectively. My own life seems to me to bear marks of either direct intervention or the ordering for good. Yet I see all around me that many lives turn out poorly. Some do so because of choices: if you choose to neglect your family, your life and your family's lives will be poorer for that. Other lives, though, seem blighted through no choices at all: children with birth defects, individuals who lose their lives or those they love to a storm, the blow of cancer to a young mother.
I can't explain a Theistic God allowing such outcomes, let alone the Judeo-Christian God. Yet the marks of God's love still seem clear to me. Since logic fails to resolve this, I turn to faith. Since faith has been a struggle for me -- still is -- I am empathetic and respectful of those for whom it is not a sufficient answer.
Like you, I have problems with any definition of God that excludes -- well, that excludes anyone.
Thank you for the time you took to write that thoughtful comment. I like that you have curiosity and not the smugness that too many of the faithful have.
"The Theist God may, in fact, intervene or has ordered the Universe so that things come right unless we somehow defy Him."
I refuse to 'believe' out of fear. Where is the goodness in that, and why worship a god because I fear not worshiping him? It is just the way I think. If fear is all one has for obeisance, I'm not there. And if adding a caveat such as "only through Christ" - eliminating approximately 5.4 billion people on the planet..... You have to be kidding me. There is only one god. If there is one. There can BE only one god. I'm not worshiping any god that excludes 5.4 billion people.
"Secular Humanism is a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life. Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation." - Council for Secular Humanism
This resonates with the way I think. Smug intolerance disgusts me.... especially within the SAME religion.
I thought I would have trouble with the phrase about "defy His will". Like you, I despise to obey God out of fear. My meaning was that acting out of malice or foolishness will make it harder to get good outcomes: if God designed things to work well, operating in kindness and skill is more effective than operating in malice, egotism, or stupidity.
I can get along with Secular Humanists and agnostics, but some of that persuasion are as smug as any Christian, Jew or Muslim. I imagine there are even smug Buddhists.
I couldn't agree with you more about the smugness, know-it-allness of non-believers. Here's what Mark Twain had to say about religion:
Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion –- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven.
I'm somewhere on this continuum:
"The Sikh faith teaches that God is not a personal savior or a superhuman force, but is the abstract principle of truth."
Personally, this is my favorite: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
:) Nice discussion.