• Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    I am hoping that this question is not seen as mere repetition of many threads on this site. I am not coming from a particular religious perspective, and seek to take on board the many varied worldviews of religious thinking and science. However, I do see a rift between ideas of 'God' and 'science' in philosophical thinking. I am not wishing to see this in black and white, concrete understanding, but do see it as an important area as a basis of philosophy.

    So, I am asking to what extent does the existence of 'God', or lack of existence have upon philosophical thinking. Inevitably, my question may involve what does the idea of 'God' signify in itself? The whole area of theism and atheism may hinge on the notion of what the idea of God may signify. Ideas for and against God, which involve philosophy and theology, are a starting point for thinking about the nature of 'reality' and as a basis for moral thinking.

    In writing this thread, I am trying to step outside of any definitive position, as I am not coming from any position of God's existence, or non-existence. I am simply trying to frame the difference between idea of theism and atheism as a basis for understanding of 'life' and the 'nature of reality'. Any thoughts on this complex area of philosophy and; how it may be approached subjectively or objectively?

  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    I am not sure if the debate between theism and atheism stands, especially in the debate between materialism and idealism. In many respects, physicalism is the accepted norm of philosophical thinking. This is an area for discussion in itself. However, in this thread discussion, what I am asking is about materialism as being compatible with atheism, or idealism with a belief in some kind of 'spiritual reality'?

    I am not sure to what extent are these ideas in the human mind, or something beyond? I also wonder about the idea of non-dualism, as a way of going beyond materialism and idealism. This area of debate may range from the ideas of ancient philosophers to the present perspectives of neuroscience. So, if my thread question is seen as having any philosophical significance, it is about how human consciousness may be seen, with or without any form of ''God', gods or goddesses, and how may this be understood?

    Does the stripping back of ideas, and ideals, especially in terms of the philosophy of realism lead to the most objective understanding of the existential conundrums of human existence? Where does materialism, idealism or philosophies of non dualism lead in the search to put such ideas together in the most synthetic and meaningful ways?
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Interesting, thanks. :up: I imagine that I know what you are getting at here in the OP, in general.

    It seems that the divide you mention is growing like rust, which never sleeps. (Only occasional small cat naps).
    And since the divide is approximately the size of the Grand Canyon, any discussion between two opposing parties has to be shouted, which is not the best starting point unfortunately.

    The discussion (and the idea of the Cosmos itself) usually seems to boil down to: My God vs your God. My Gods vs your naughty atheism. Or my logical atheism vs your incredibly gullible superstitious religion, etc ad nauseum…

    As for my speculations on this general topic, I’m still trying to find some kind of middle ground, something ‘both sides’ could agree on. Or at least keep their guns in their holsters for a moment lol.

    A few years ago, I started a thread here called ‘What is spirit?’ in the attempt to bridge that gap.
    I perhaps naïvely or optimistically thought that many here would be ok with the general word ‘spirit’, which admittedly is vague. Or at least ok with the term as a general starting point…
    To be fair, several posters were up for playfully entertaining the idea.

    Truly in that interesting thread I tried to define my terms the best I could, but the intended subject matter is notoriously difficult to nail down in words.
    Subatomic particules seems easier to describe, as few doubt their mere existence.

    It wasn’t some idea of an eternal Soul (with an afterlife, heaven, deities, etc) that was the subject of my thread either.
    I thought then (and still think) that ‘spirit’ or ‘psyche’ are descriptive and valid concepts, which could be
    included in a theory of consciousness / mind.
    The school of thought called The Perennial Philosophy is quite fascinating to me, though it seems to be out of fashion.

    And here’s perhaps a key point to be discussed… that a spiritual aspect of humans can be said ‘to exist’ without being supernatural .
    Because anything labeled ‘supernatural’ is liable to be pelted with rotten tomatoes (either fairly or unfairly lol).

    (As an aside, I tend to think of the terms ‘supernatural’ and ‘metaphysical’ as potentially having something in common. But this may be risking a tomato bath… :yum: ).
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    Thanks for your reply and I am not sure what I am generating. The idea of 'what is spirit' may be important here, especially in the question as to whether 'spirit' is 'real' at all. The concept of spirit may be seen as vague, but it may also go beyond some restrictive ideas, especially of human consciousness and its dismissal as being an illusion in itself, such as the idea of consciousness as an illusion in the thinking of Daniel Dennett.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    Having written this thread, thinking about theism.and atheism, I am also left wondering about the differences in terms of mortality and immortality. It is complex, however, because some ideas of atheism are compatible in atheistic reductionism, especially the idea of life after death as being meaningful nonsense.

    However, that in itself is open to question, especially how the experiences of a person fit into the larger aspects of eternity. So, I would ask how does an underlying assumption of theism ot atheism result in an underlying philosophy viewpoint for living, including ethics, and a wider understanding of the purpose and ends of human life?



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  • Jack CumminsAccepted Answer
    5.1k
    I wonder to what extent if God does not exist, if as Dosteovosky asks, whether everything is permitted? So, I am left wondering about the limits and freedoms arising from both theism and atheism. How do you see both perspectives in thinking?
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    The one aspect which I wonder about so much is going beyond the idea of theism and atheism, and how this may stand in perspectives of reality. I came across this idea In the thinking of philosophy of thinking, and its freedom to thinking. There may be various ideas and ways of thinking, especially in terms of negative and positive ways of thinking..

    So, in terms of this thread question, I am looking at both the ideas of optimisation and practical aspects of life.So much my comd down to adversity, and this battle against adversity and conflict may e so strong. It may come down to the nature of battling onwards. philosophically and down to.the basis of philosophical thinking.

    Genarally, I see the area if you ideas of philosophy of hops and despair as an ongoing area of thinking.'about life and its dilemmas. I am.unsure but open to ideas which may go beyond the basic ideas and ideals of such possibilities. Its logistics how such ideas may be played out I'm the scenarios of life.


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  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    They're fundamentally the same starting point one's a pushing away from, and the other one's a feeling of attraction towards.Vaskane

    It looks to me like you are happily making up stories about figments of your imagination. That doesn't sound like something, which anyone with the experience to know what they are talking about, would say.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    You just don't like being associated with God. But atheism always highlights your association so does theism. Both titles are easily forgettable and one doesn't have to wear any of the titles at all if they choose not to. It's like the concept of free will, best to just erase the concept from your mind all together.Vaskane

    Nah, it's just that I've dealt with a lot of bullshit artists before, and you are declaring yourself to be one.
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    So, I am asking to what extent does the existence of 'God', or lack of existence have upon philosophical thinking. Inevitably, my question may involve what does the idea of 'God' signify in itself? The whole area of theism and atheism may hinge on the notion of what the idea of God may signify. Ideas for and against God, which involve philosophy and theology, are a starting point for thinking about the nature of 'reality' and as a basis for moral thinking.Jack Cummins

    The first article that drew me to philosophy forums was a scathing review, by Terry Eagleton, of Richard Dawkin's book The God Delusion, way back in about 2008 or so. Some background. Terry Eagleton, whom I hadn't heard of prior, is an English leftist literary critic and academic. I've subsequently read a few of his other books, which are often very erudite and betoken a huge range of reading.

    Anyway his critique of Dawkins was called Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching, and speaking of punches, he didn't pull any.

    Dawkins speaks scoffingly of a personal God, as though it were entirely obvious exactly what this might mean. He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms. For Judeo-Christianity, God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects. — Terry Eagleton

    (Notice the out-dated references, places it quite well. I subsequently joined the Richard Dawkins forum, long since inactive, which was exactly as you would expect, manned and moderated by the most vociferous of Dawkinsian atheists, against which hapless evangelicals would dash their arguments to pieces against their massed polemical barbs. It was after that, that I found another forum, and then the precessor forum to this one. It's remained an interest.)

    Anyway, I was interested, in particular, in Eagleton saying that 'it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist.' 'Ah', you might say. 'But isn't that just atheism?'

    Well, no. And the reasoning is given by a Bishop (of all people) in a newspaper opinion piece called (tantalisingly) God does Not Exist:

    If God does exist, then that is not God. All existing things are relative to one another in various degrees. It is actually impossible to imagine a universe in which there is, say, only one hydrogen atom. That unique thing has to have someone else imagining it. Existence requires existing among other existents, a fundamental dependency of relation. If God also exists, then God would be just another fact of the universe, relative to other existents and included in that fundamental dependency of relation. — Bishop Pierre Whalon

    Read the article for further elaboration. But that theme is something central to what is inelegantly described as apophatic theology, the theology of negation: you can't say anything about what God is, because God is beyond all description. ('You don't say!')

    Finally, one of the better books on the topic, notwithstanding its frequent polemical passages, is David Bentley Hart's The Experience of God. He 'gets' this understanding of the meaning of 'beyond existence' in ways that most do not.

    Now there are sophisticated atheists that do understand what it is they are seeking to deny. But a lot atheism speaks of God as a poor empirical hypothesis ('Where's the evidence?') or seems to envisage him as a kind of cosmic film director or CEO ('why are so many people suffering around here?? Who's in charge? :rage: )

    That's some background and references. It's also worth mentioning that Paul Tillich, in particular, was a modern theologian who put great emphasis on negative theology and the God beyond existence.

    An atheist that rages against God objectively all the time obviously gives "God" a lot of attention.Vaskane

    'Atheists are those who still feel the weight of their chains' ~ Albert Einstein (bona fide).
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    what's the etymology of atheism?Vaskane

    That's not an interesting topic and besides the point.
  • Tom Storm
    8.4k
    So, I am asking to what extent does the existence of 'God', or lack of existence have upon philosophical thinking.Jack Cummins

    The problem is how this might play out cannot be separated from how such beliefs may be held. It depends entirely upon what kind of theist or what kind of atheist one is. Many people in either camp are completely ill-equipped for any kind of critical refection, let alone a philosophical discussion. The critical issue associated with any position is how it is applied.

    Problem is people focus on Dawkins etc, which distracts us. Remember atheism may just be a lack of belief in gods, but embrace any manner of 'supernatural' positions such as idealism, reincarnation and astrology. I've known many such atheists. And there are theists whose notion of god is so removed from anything personal and knowable that they are virtually atheists and are skeptical of any supernatural ideas.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    No it's not. Philology and Etymology are Nietzsche's methodology for a reason.Vaskane

    That doesn't mean that it's not a silly basis for thinking oneself to have insight, into the perspectives of diverse people, by comparison with making a lot of observations of diverse people.

    I'm just not interested in any mental masturbation you might want to do, regarding the etymology is atheism.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    How much money did Dawkins make off of God?Vaskane

    Feel free to explain why any sort of answer would be of any relevance, to your lack of insight into the thinking of theists and atheists. Better yet, just think about it, and see if you can figure out on your why your question is irrelevant.
  • Paine
    2k

    Your options do not give any space for agnostics.

    Aristotle, for example, presumed a divine order to establish there was something to learn beyond the arbitrary differences between Homeric gods.

    Concluding there is nothing worth studying was the crowd he was working against.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    Your argument against my thoughts on atheism and theism are merely rhetorical hyperbole based off an emotional reaction you had, you dont even understand my position, let alone know it. Feel free to explain why you think you're a fucking authority on the matter yet can only resort to weak ad hominem, and is pathetically afraid of delving the etymology of atheism and theism because you know you blundered and are trying hard to cover your tracks.Vaskane

    You just jump to conclusions right and left without really knowing what you are talking about.

    One of the reasons I am much more of an authority than you are on the subjects is the observations of people (and getting to know them) involved in making 17k posts since 2008 on another forum.

    With that kind of background your pretense to psychological insight is obvious.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k


    Okay, so Nietzsche asserts silly things, and you believe him? Why do you think this argument from authority might be interesting?

    I suggest it would be more valuable for you, to reflect on your tendency to react defensively when exposed as not knowing what you are talking about, and recognize the opportunity to admit to yourself that you really don't know what you are talking about.
  • Gregory
    4.6k


    Why ould anybody act/will themselves to be a tiny piece of dust before an almighty and all happy God? Isn't the normal response to ask why you yourself are not that being
  • Leontiskos
    1.3k
    Any thoughts on this complex area of philosophy and; how it may be approached subjectively or objectively?Jack Cummins

    I think this idea is best addressed historically, as someone like the historian Tom Holland addresses it. In the West what is usually meant by theism is Christianity, and what is usually meant by atheism is some form of opposition to Christianity. The historical hinges where Christianity has been opposed by secularly oriented movements thus form the basis for Western atheism.

    First, in a softer form, one must consider general movements such as the Enlightenment (and its counterpart, Romanticism). Secondly, one must consider the more aggressive forms, in terms of individuals. Start, say, with Auguste Comte, Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche. In my opinion (western) atheism is a product of thinkers such as these four, and it also has more subtle influences in the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Looking at these factors will yield thick, interesting differences of philosophy and ethics. Looking at Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et al., will not.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    you're the dick head who asserted my idea had no philosophical basis...Vaskane

    See, this is just you making stuff up again. I didn't say anything about the philosophical basis of your comment. I pointed out that your lack of experiential basis for knowing what you are talking about:

    It looks to me like you are happily making up stories about figments of your imagination. That doesn't sound like something, which anyone with the experience to know what they are talking about, would say.wonderer1
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    How different is the starting point of atheism and theism then.Vaskane

    I don't know what you mean by "the starting point". Sounds grossly simplistic.

    Anyway, I realize you are stuck in monkey minded face saving mode, despite my attempts to show you off ramps, so I'll leave you to it.
  • Janus
    15.5k
    Ethics do not depend upon a transcendent lawgiver but are based on the pragmatic need to live harmoniously with others.

    On the other hand, you may live your live differently if you believe in an afterlife; indeed, you may accord it more importance than this life, and even devalue this life.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k


    We [monkeys] are in need of our monkey trainers.Fooloso4

    Just doing my part. :wink:
  • jkop
    677
    So, I am asking to what extent does the existence of 'God', or lack of existence have upon philosophical thinking.Jack Cummins

    Well, the existence of god would obviously settle the question whether god exists. So, it would no longer be a philosophical question, and that's one effect it would have on philosophical thinking.

    Another effect might be that if god is omniscient, then philosophy would disappear. The explanatory power of arguments would be replaced by the authority of god's omniscience. Eventually we would forget how to think.

    If god doesn't exist, then it's business as usual. Philosophical thinking thrives on argument.
  • 180 Proof
    14.1k
    If god doesn't exist, then it's business as usual. Philosophical thinking thrives on argument.jkop
    :up: :up:

    Ethics do not depend upon a transcendent lawgiver but are based on the pragmatic need to live harmoniously with others.Janus
    :100:

    , I am asking to what extent does the existence of 'God', or lack of existence have upon philosophical thinking.Jack Cummins
    As an axiom, or first principle, ~G/G is definitive; however, as a conclusion, ~G/G is merely suppositional.

    ... what does the idea of 'God' signify in itself?
    Absolute power in every way.

    However, in this thread discussion, what I am asking is about materialism as being compatible with atheism, or idealism with a belief in some kind of 'spiritual reality'?Jack Cummins
    Atheism is compatible with either materialism or idealism as well as with "a belief in spiritual reality".

    Does the stripping back of ideas, and ideals, especially in terms of the philosophy of realism lead to the most objective understanding of the existential conundrums of human existence?
    Maybe. I don't know. I suspect "ideas and ideals" are (mostly) degrees of "understanding" "existential conundrums".

    Where does materialism, idealism or philosophies of non dualism lead in the search to put such ideas together in the most synthetic and meaningful ways?
    I don't think any of these disparate "ideas" are attempts to unify, or synthesize, them with each other (or all other "ideas").

    So, I would ask how does an underlying assumption of theism [or] atheism result in an underlying philosoph[ical] viewpoint for living, including ethics, and a wider understanding of the purpose and ends of human life?Jack Cummins
    It seems that theism is consistent with a teleological, or essentialist, conception of life that is, in part, derived from 'divine command theory' which atheism rejects.

    I wonder to what extent if God does not exist, if as Dosteovosky asks, whether everything is permitted?Jack Cummins
    IIRC, Camus supposes, however, "this does not mean that nothing is forbidden."

    *

    Posts from an old thread of yours Jack "What Does It Mean, Philosophically, to Argue God Does or Does Not Exist?"

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/734883

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/734817

    Another post from your older thread "Are science and religion compatible, or oppositional philosophical approaches?"

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/541625
  • LuckyR
    380


    To my mind the biggest philosophical impact of theism vs atheism would be that theists would tend to believe that morality is objective (that is likely based on religious scriptures, teachings or dogma). Whereas atheists would be more likely to appreciate that individuals whose moral code differs from a particular religious dogma are just as likely to behave morally as another whose moral code is identical to that of a particular religion's teachings, from the perspective of an agnostic third person observer.
  • 180 Proof
    14.1k
    Ideas for and against God, which involve philosophy and theology, are a starting point for thinking about the nature of 'reality' and as a basis for moral thinking.Jack Cummins
    In my case, the 'g/G-question' affects my 'philosophical thinking' as follows: p-naturalism² (i.e. anti-supernaturalism, anti-antirealism, anti-immaterialism) follows from my atheism¹; and then following from p-naturalism² is my existential commitment to moral naturalism³ in the form of aretaic disutilitarianism⁴ (i.e. virtues –'habits – developed daily by anticipating, preventing & reducing suffering (i.e. personal harms, social injustices)).

    addendum to:
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/875881
  • Pantagruel
    3.3k
    So, I am asking to what extent does the existence of 'God', or lack of existence have upon philosophical thinking. Inevitably, my question may involve what does the idea of 'God' signify in itself?Jack Cummins

    I think this is the key question. Whether or not there is a singular being that is god or multiple beings that are gods is relevant insofar as we further assign purposes to such beings. Then the question becomes whether or not human purposes are likely to be relevant to them (i.e. would they even be interested in us). Conversely, if such beings do exist and are in some sense comparable to us (i.e. are typical or paradigmatic of consciousness) then their purposes would be of interest to us, insofar as they might represent a future course of evolution of human consciousness.

    For me, this is the area of potential understanding that atheists forgo. The history of religious dogmatism is a vile thing. But dispensing with the idea of god (the ultimate consciousness) because of the failings of a few fallible humans is throwing out one big baby with some very dirty bathwater.
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