• Corvus
    7
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists? Was it after some theoretical or logical proofs on God 's existence or some personal religious experience? Or via some other routes?

    2. Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?
  • Bylaw
    4
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists? Was it after some theoretical or logical proofs on God 's existence or some personal religious experience? Or via some other routes?Corvus
    Not through theoretical proofs. Via experiences. Via working with a tradition and finding that much of what I have been told is the case, and things not obvious, have turned out to at least seem to be true. Of course my belief goes up and down and there are times of doubt.
    2. Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?Corvus
    Me, I wouldn't.

    I think a non-believer, were they to move to being a believer, would likely need to have experiences. To participate in a theist belief system and see what happens. They might come to, over a longer period of time, find themselves believing, or not. Much like one learns many things, via practice and experience and sometimes guidance from people with more experience. I find it a very Abrahamic idea that it is faith vs. science or reason. You gotta do stuff. You gotta experience stuff. It takes time. If you grew up in a religion or theist belief system, well, that's another thing, but even there many non-abrahamic religions emphasize experiential approaches, with practices and rituals and develop skills and change the self over time.
  • javi2541997
    1
    Via experiencesBylaw

    I respect your beliefs and opinions but how you can experience something that you never seen or heard or even touched before as "God"?
    I guess this is why sometimes you can have these periods of doubt.
  • tim wood
    8
    Via experiences. Via working with a tradition and finding that much of what I have been told is the case, and things not obvious, have turned out to at least seem to be true.Bylaw

    I take your word for it that you believe something. Axiomatic with me is that within some obvious and broad limits people should be free to believe what they like. You have also written, "...is the case," and "seems to be true." Being and truth are pretty serious words when applied to the supernatural. Which leaves the ancient question, do you believe because it's true? Or true (for you) because you believe? It's my bias that it ultimately has to be one or the other.
  • Corvus
    7
    You gotta experience stuff. It takes time.Bylaw

    There supposed to be what the Psychologists call "Religious Experiences" which happen to some people in their lives such as hearing God's voice, seeing apparitions of divine images and witnessing inexplicable phenomena and feeling holy energies around them etc. But private and subjective experiences like these are challenging to be proved and explained objectively in scientific ways.

    I have an old book by William James called "Various Religious Experiences" somewhere in the room to start reading in the near future.

    Would logical and rational discussions and the process of proving God's Existence strengthen theists' beliefs in God and faith, or would it be just pure academic practice?
  • T Clark
    28


    I think this is the best response I've read anywhere from a believer responding to skepticism. It's clear, reasonable, and intellectually satisfying, at least to me.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    I was brought up by a devoutly Catholic mother, educated in a working class mostly immigrant Catholic grammar school and then an elite Catholic high school, served mass as an altarboy from 2nd through 12th grades, and lastly considered the priesthood as a religious studies honors student. When I was a believer I'd sincerely believed I'd believed.

    However, I gave up "God" for Lent during 11th grade after acknowledging that the Bible was unbelievable (both "too good" and "too bad" to be true), that the history of its making and ecclesiastical uses were largely dishonest, corrupting, overtly political, and finally recognizing that I'd never "truly believed" after all but only that I had merely conformed. I'd discovered that I could no long defend the indefensible on the basis of believing the unbelievable. That was 41 years ago, and I've been a freethinker ever since.

    NB: The classical arguments in defense of (mono)theism are among the best arguments against 'theism as such' and the few theists who are also cogent, careful, thinkers whom I've ever encountered are uncomfortably aware of this. At the end of the day, they (must) lean heavily on "faith" to "justify" their fact-free beliefs (superstitions).
  • javi2541997
    1


    Interesting point of view and life experience. It would sound weird but I was raised in an atheist home... My parents never taught me any kind of religion and I went only to secular schools. Nevertheless, they never imposed me atheism at all because they said I was free to believe if I wanted to.
    Anyhow, despite my grow experience, I never been interested in religion for myself... But yes probably my parents were important in this path of being free thinker.
  • Bartricks
    1
    Arrived at knowledge of God via reasoned argument alone. Born and raised an atheist. Atheist until mid thirties. Then I became a cautious theist after I discovered, more by accident than design, an argument that appears to prove God. After a year or so I became confident in its conclusion after it resisted my best attempts to refute it and those of others.

    So, no religious experiences. No religious background. No interest in religion. No self interest. Just an argument that I can't refute, despite years of trying. Far from it, It just gets stronger.

    Let me tell you something: most contemporary philosophers would describe themselves as atheists. But they don't defend atheism. Not most of them (there are exceptions, there always are). They just assume it. They think atheism is true based on arguments that convinced them (if they needed convincing) as undergraduates. And then they never revisited them. They just assume the truth of a broadly naturalistic worldview and then set about the task of showing how this or that important concept- morality, free will, the mind, perception, truth - can either still be said to have something answering to it on that worldview, or not. And then they write papers and books disagreeing with one another about that.

    They don't argue for atheism. This is what many here don't understand. They think the 80+% atheist beliefs of contemporary philosophers is borne of reasoned argument - but it isn't. Theism isn't taken seriously. Most don't debate it at all. For instance, I have an introductory book on metaethics on my desk. It doesn't even mention divine command theory. It's not even in the index! Yet it's not just highly plausible, it's demonstrably true. Theism has not been refuted, it's just ignored.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    Not even Communist regimes e.g. PRC & USSR were ever able to "impose" atheism, only (totalitarian aka "religious") statism. Your parents were wise not to drive you towards religion by prohibiting you exploring religion on your own. Model freethinking it seems to me.
  • MikeListeral
    2
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists?

    2. Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?
    Corvus

    1- social and emotional reasons

    2- to reduce embarrassment
  • SteveMinjares
    2
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists? Was it after some theoretical or logical proofs on God 's existence or some personal religious experience? Or via some other routes?

    2. Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?
    Corvus

    Here is a question I been dying to ask a non-believer...

    Why is it okay to believe in the theory of a higher-dimensional being but not God? Aren’t we describing the the same concept?


    What it Would Look Like if Higher Dimensional Beings Tried to Communicate with Us.
    By: Erik Ruof
    https://medium.com/illumination/what-it-would-look-like-if-higher-dimensional-beings-tried-to-communicate-with-us-ecdbf166d307
  • Bitter Crank
    56
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists? Was it after some theoretical or logical proofs on God 's existence or some personal religious experience? Or via some other routes?Corvus

    Surely, only a philosopher would think that many (any?) arrived at belief in God through theoretical or logical proof.

    The much more probable routes are:

    1. Being taught, as a child, that God(s) exists.
    2. Being persuaded by a teacher [missionary] as an adolescent or adult that God(s) exist.

    The experience of being taught, persuaded, comforted [or threatened] is the critical part for most people. Some may arrive at belief through their own private efforts.

    I think a non-believer, were they to move to being a believer, would likely need to have experiences.Bylaw

    Absolutely. And believers also need to have experiences to maintain belief. That is what the community of believers does -- provides validating experiences. Lukewarm believers (millions and millions) gradually drift into actual or functional disbelief by (usually self-selected) isolation from an effective community of believers (any religion). Showing up at a random congregation periodically probably won't maintain belief. It needs to be a friendly, welcoming, all-around good experience. And it should be noted that plenty of congregations -- any belief system -- manage to be fairly unpleasant, one way or another.

    Good preaching / good teaching is another aspect of continued belief.
  • Bitter Crank
    56
    Why is it okay to believe in the theory of a higher-dimensional being but not God? Aren’t we describing the the same concept?SteveMinjares

    I have found that a lot of people who believe in various crock-of-shit theories think that religion is beneath contempt, when -- unbeknownst to them -- it's all pretty much the same faith-based kind of thinking.
  • Tom Storm
    10
    Here is a question I been dying to ask a non-believer...

    Why is it okay to believe in the theory of a higher-dimensional being but not God? Aren’t we describing the the same concept?
    SteveMinjares

    Not sure how they are the same concept. But I have no good reason to accept the existence of either. The time to believe is when there is evidence.

    Note also that atheism is simply the lack of belief in God. Some atheists believe in astrology and UFO abduction. It's the secular humanists who are likely to be the skeptics.

    Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?Corvus

    Not all believers try to prove God. Some scorn those who do. But there are many believers who want to help convince as many others that their belief is true. Proselytizing has a long tradition in some religions. These guys need arguments, without them being an apologist would not be possible.
  • Bylaw
    4
    There supposed to be what the Psychologists call "Religious Experiences" which happen to some people in their lives such as hearing God's voice, seeing apparitions of divine images and witnessing inexplicable phenomena and feeling holy energies around them etc. But private and subjective experiences like these are challenging to be proved and explained objectively in scientific ways.Corvus

    Sure, but that's a different issue. And most people, heck I'll stick my neck out and say all people, make decisions based on subjective experiences and certainly based on interpretations/conclusions that would be impossible to prove to others, decisions that lead to real world consequences for people near one and even in wider society. But my point is that dicussions in philosophy forums, often given posts by people on the main opposed sides, can make it seem like the experiential aspects and not important or central. That theists are drawing poor conclusions and the issue is one related to logical and illogical analysis. And then, just to repeat that point - that non-theists, even some of them - don't make decisions or have beliefs based on things that cannot be demonstrated in some kind of repeatable empirical format to others.
  • Bylaw
    4
    I take your word for it that you believe something. Axiomatic with me is that within some obvious and broad limits people should be free to believe what they like. You have also written, "...is the case," and "seems to be true." Being and truth are pretty serious words when applied to the supernatural.tim wood
    I think the word supernatural is nonsensical. Of course that can be due to my ontology. But if it is the case, it is not supernatural, it is natural. If it is not the case then it is not real.
    There were people who believed elephants could communicate over extemely long distances. They were poo pooed, until it was later understood how. It could have been dismissed as a claim the elephants had supernatural powers, but actually it was a claim that they had some kind of natural power. To me if there is a God, it is then natural or real.
    Which leaves the ancient question, do you believe because it's true? Or true (for you) because you believe? It's my bias that it ultimately has to be one or the other.tim wood
    I think I agree. But we all are in that situation. If you focus on the word supernatural, ti can seem like those people over there operate with an epistemology I do not. If we black box that, then we can look at how we actually decide things are true. As far as I can tell everyone is eclectic epistemologically. They all have a diverse set of ways of deciding something is true AND (importantly) make decisions that affect themselve and other people based on conclusions arrived at via a variety of epistemologies. Assessments of other people, beliefs about the presence or lack of certain qualities (or the belief there are not differences) related to the sex of a person, ideas about how to be successful socially, political beliefs, beliefs about when to use intuition and when to use rational analysis (on what issues, how much in relation to each other and more), how to raise a child and a great deal more. I see theists and non-theists alike (and both are obviously very diverse groups) making real world decisions that affect people using intuition and others with more rational analysis (and a variety of mixtures of these) and also both following tradition in many cases about some or many of these issues. I think in philosophy forums it becomes very binary, as if non-theists use, for any important decision, some kind of empirical research and theists use gut feeling and habit. Then the theists pretend often, that actually they have reasoned their way to certain beliefs based on deduction. While implicitly the other team presents themselves as having one consistant epistemology. They conclude things only via X. But I think both groups are misrepresenting themselves (not all of each group, but many in each group).
  • Bylaw
    4
    I respect your beliefs and opinions but how you can experience something that you never seen or heard or even touched before as "God"?
    I guess this is why sometimes you can have these periods of doubt.
    javi2541997
    As far as I can tell I have at least as much doubt about my conclusions as non-theists do about their intuitive conclusions about all sorts of things. Beliefs they have that lead to real world decisions, beliefs and actioins that affect other people.
    I don't want to go too far into how my experiences lead to my beliefs because it can so easily be immediately taken as NOW I am trying to convince others they should believe.
    People can and often do base beliefs on things that work for them. They have, while they may not admit it, a pragmatic epistemology. I see this as happening with non-theists as well. They have beliefs that cannot be demonstrated to be true to others, beliefs that lead to real world actions that affect other people. In my posts above I go into this in a bit more detail. But my basic position is everyone is more eclectic epistemologically than it would seem if one looked at arguments between theists and non-theists in philosophy forums.
  • James Riley
    10
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists? Was it after some theoretical or logical proofs on God 's existence or some personal religious experience? Or via some other routes?Corvus

    All four.

    2. Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?Corvus

    Generally, I don't.
  • T Clark
    28
    Why is it okay to believe in the theory of a higher-dimensional being but not God? Aren’t we describing the the same concept?SteveMinjares

    No serious scientist has suggested the existence of "higher-dimensional beings," as a serious proposal.
  • T Clark
    28
    Not all believers try to prove God. Some scorn those who do. But there are many believers who want to help convince as many others that their belief is true. Proselytizing has a long tradition in some religions. These guys need arguments, without them being an apologist would not be possible.Tom Storm

    To be fair, in the Catholic Church at least, intellectual arguments for the existence of God have been pursued formally for at least 800 years. Hindus have been doing it much longer. For them, I think it was about their search for truth. I find the intellectual approach unconvincing, but then, I am not a theist. I don't think many Christians take an intellectual approach to their understanding of God.

    As I said in my response to their post, above, I thought @Bylaw's response on the first page was the most convincing.
  • Bylaw
    4
    To be fair, in the Catholic Church at least, intellectual arguments for the existence of God have been pursued formally for at least 800 years. Hindus have been doing it much longer. For them, I think it was about their search for truth. I find the intellectual approach unconvincing, but then, I am not a theist. I don't think many Christians take an intellectual approach to their understanding of God.T Clark
    I'm no expert on Catholicism (bit one one on one part of Hinduism though I am not an adherant) but both those traditions include a great deal of rituals and practices. I am not sure the goal of the theological arguments is to, on its own, demonstrate the existence of God, say. But perhaps to serve as some kind of support to belief. In many parts of Hinduism the idea is to come closer to God, generally one specific god: Shiva, Vishnu, etc., via practices. You go to an ashram to become a better Hindu, you are working on experiences and skills. You are learning how to medidate, how to chant, how to serve with focus on the deity. You are training yourself, with expert advice, on how to experience God more and end your suffering etc. And beliefs form after experience, at the very least, also.
  • Wayfarer
    21
    1. How have you arrived at your belief that God exists?Corvus

    When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I realised that there were people who didn't believe in God. I found this shocking, for some reason. How I arrived at that, I can't tell, because my family wasn't religious. IN fact around the same time, I was asked at school what denomination I belonged to, and I didn't know. (Turned out to be C of E.)

    2. Why do you try to prove God in a theoretical / logical way, when already believing in God's existence?Corvus

    I don't, but I have always felt that scientific materialism is a defective philosophy, and that as a consequence, many of the assumptions that people carry about about life, the universe and everything, are deeply mistaken. They mistake physics and evolutionary theory for a philosophy, which they aren't.

    My philosophy is not particularly centered around the Bible. When a younger man, it was centred around the quest for spiritual experience - the enlightenment that I associated with popular Eastern spiritual teachers, like Krishnamurti. However as life went on, I realised that there are convergences between many of the 'higher religions' - the ones that most interested me were Christian Platonism, Advaita Vedanta, and Mahayana Buddhism. I have learned to respect Christianity a lot more, although I think that Eastern Orthodoxy and some aspects of philosophical Catholicism appeal.

    My view now is that the kind of God that a lot of people believe in, and a lot of atheists doubt, is indeed a projection of belief, but I'm still not atheist.

    You go to an ashram to become a better Hindu, you are working on experiences and skills. You are learning how to medidate, how to chant, how to serve with focus on the deity. You are training yourself, with expert advice, on how to experience God more and end your suffering etc.Bylaw

    :up: :100:

    Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge. Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice. Religious doctrines are a product of ritual and ethical observance, and make no sense unless they are accompanied by such spiritual exercises as yoga, prayer, liturgy and a consistently compassionate lifestyle. Skilled practice in these disciplines can lead to intimations of the transcendence we call God, Nirvana, Brahman or Dao. Without such dedicated practice, these concepts remain incoherent, incredible and even absurd. — Karen Armstrong
  • Bylaw
    4
    Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge. Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice. Religious doctrines are a product of ritual and ethical observance, and make no sense unless they are accompanied by such spiritual exercises as yoga, prayer, liturgy and a consistently compassionate lifestyle. Skilled practice in these disciplines can lead to intimations of the transcendence we call God, Nirvana, Brahman or Dao. Without such dedicated practice, these concepts remain incoherent, incredible and even absurd. — Karen Armstrong
    Yes.
    And here is a tricky point in these discussions. If you talk about it this way, anti-theists (as opposed to non-theists) will jump to the epistemological issues. Hey, that's all subjective, you shouldn't conclude...etc. But that is a different issue and one that can be addressed, but first it would be good if it was acknowledged that there is a vast experiential aspect to coming to, reinforcing, maintaining religious beliefs. It is as if someone heard a poor argument for God's existence and just believed it. Then from there one can say that given the experiential aspects people may have extremely good grounds to continue to participate in a religion that seems to the best of their knowledge to be working for them.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    @180 Proof

    I've been mulling over this a bit. There seem to multiple ideas concerning epistemology itself over and above knowledge of God. Some of them being:

    1. Faith: Some have argued that faith isn't blind faith (belief sans evidence of any kind) but look at the following:

    29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed. — Wikipedia

    2. Skepticism (Doubting Thomas). Related to points 1 and 3.

    3. Miracles (evidence). Related to points 1 and 2.

    Evidence for God seems to take the following form: First a miracle (Jesus' resurrection) and then evidence for that miracle (Doubting Thomas poking Jesus' wounds).

    A miracle is by definition something that's gonna be tough to believe - we're all in skeptic mode. Ergo, it's in need of strong evidence and that's provided - the skeptic is silenced.

    Jesus Christ was fully in the know about skeptics - they were his true adversaries and my hunch is all the miracles he performed were aimed at them (doubting Toms). The idea was to convince the doubtful lot, everything else would fall into place after that.

    However, the quote above indicates that faith - blind faith - was deemed a notch above justification/evidence. This takes us to the very heart of Christianity and religions as an ethical system and the possibility of belief in God sans faith being indubitable evidence that a person is good at heart and is, for that reason, faerself worthy of our faith. To have faith (to not be concerned with evidence) is, for certain, foolish, setting oneself up for a fall but that's not the side of faith Jesus was interested in.

    What Christ was moved by was the trusting nature of those with faith - it was/is an umistakable sign of a person's goodness. Second guessing Jesus, faith implied trusting nature which itself was the hallmark of goodness. Faithful people, though not too bright or didn't care, were good people, exactly the demographic the divine message of love and morality was aimed at. Jesus was in his elements walking among the faithful. A paradox makes its presence felt: The faithful believe minus proof. A leap of faith is proof of the goodness of the faithful. Thus to accept God without proof (faith) is proof that those who accept God without proof are good people.
  • Wayfarer
    21
    Karen Armstrong is pretty good on that. She started out as a nun in a very strict Catholic order, but basically had a breakdown and couldn't deal with it. She wrote a book about that, which turned out to be a best-seller, and then went on to become a well-known writer on religion but very much from a comparative religion perspective, rather than an 'apologetics' perspective. (I've never liked that word, 'apologetics'.)

    Anyway, her book The Case for God, which came out about the time of that article, was an historical analysis of modern western (WEIRD - White, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic) cultures.

    Both atheists and fundamentalists take God to be an essentially human sort of figure, a giant Father in the sky who watches over us, punishes the guilty, intervenes directly in our affairs and is entirely comprehensible to our minds. "We regularly ask God to bless our nation, save our queen, cure our sickness or give us a fine day for a picnic." Fundamentalists commit, in Armstrong's view, the grave error of presuming to know God's mind and also of enlisting God on their side against their enemies. Unsurprisingly, militant atheists observe this reductive vision of God and in turn slam religion as a child-like description of the world that cannot compare with the subtlety and practical powers of science.

    Armstrong's new book is shaped as a response to these two distortions. She wishes to remind us of the mystery of God. Her sympathy is with the great Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians who have denied that any human attempt to put the divine into words will be accurate. We are simply too limited to be able to know God; our apprehension must hence be suffused with an awareness of our provisional and potentially faulty natures. She writes: "He is not good, divine, powerful or intelligent in any way that we can understand. We could not even say that God 'exists', because our concept of existence is too limited.
    Alain de Bouton, Review of Case for God
  • 180 Proof
    41
    "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." ~Freddy Zarathustra

    I think "faith" only suggests that "the faithful" are gullible, placebo-junkies.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." ~Freddy Zarathustra

    ↪TheMadFool I think "faith" only suggests that "the faithful" are gullible, placebo-junkies
    180 Proof

    [The faithful are] Gullible, yes, but also good and Jesus was interested in the latter.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    Nothing about "faith" entails moral character or quality. Remember Kierkegaard's "teleological suspension of the ethical"?
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Nothing about "faith" entails moral character or quality. Remember Kierkegaard's "teleological suspension of the ethical"?180 Proof

    Perhaps I'm relying too much on folk "wisdom". In my defense, someone who believes with no or little regard to, as they say, hard evidence must've been part of a group that values truth and therefore, either don't lie or do so only rarely. Ergonomically speaking, it would be a waste of energy to be skeptical living in a community that values truth and so, over time living in one would eventually turn off the skeptic inside us. Valuing truth, as per philosophy, is good. It follows then faith is a good way to do a background check on people - those who have faith are generally good or more accurately better than those who don't.
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