• Qurious
    23
    Hi. I'm Qurious.

    If God exists, does God have a purpose for existing?

    The question seems a bit bizarre, but I entertained this thought earlier and had as many trip-ups as I did successes in my lines of reasoning.
    The question seems to be either completely incoherent or completely coherent depending on how you look at it.

    I'd like to say I'm by no means highly educated in this area of philosophy so I just thought I'd throw some ideas about & watch what yields.

    Let's look at the question where God is defined as the wholly simple and necessary First Cause who caused reality and encoded order, morality and purpose into creation.
    If we take an Aristotelian view on the matter, causation is a perpetual chain which spans the entirety of, well, causality, until we arrive at the Uncaused Cause.
    So whatever exists as a result of causality is, according to Aristotle at least, a result of this Uncaused Cause. That includes the creation of us, too.
    If God gave purpose to all creation, what is that purpose?

    Aquinas has his take on 'eudaimonia' which he equated as being union with God (as opposed to Aristotle's conception of it being happiness).
    Aquinas also had an analogy where God is seen as the archer and the process of causality the arrow.
    The accuracy of the analogy can be brought into question, as, what would be the target the Archer was shooting at?
    If eudaimonia really is union with God, and the analogy of the arrow and archer describes the causality of our existence, then would this not mean God was aiming for himself?
    If that is the case, one might ponder as to what is the point in God or our existence, if it is simply a cycle from God to God?

    Would this deem God, the First Cause, purposeless?
    And so purpose is drawn into question.

    Is purpose only derived from the effect upon having been caused, or is purpose necessary by the cause simply existing in and of itself?
    In other words, does the cause have to produce the effect in order for purpose to even be contemplated, since without the effect the cause would be purposeless?
    If God is purposeless, and we are an effect of the cause, then is creation the purpose for God's existence? If this is the case, God would become contingent upon our existence to exist purposefully.
    But this doesn't follow seeing as God is defined as the wholly simple and necessary First Cause.

    Does purpose imply becoming rather than being, or does purpose imply being without becoming?
    If we look at the definition of God as the wholly-simple and unchanging "Supreme Being" -- being instead of becoming -- then is existence what is becoming of God?
    Seeing as we are an effect of the First Cause, are we what defines God's purpose, or at least make attempts in doing?
    Seeing as God exists necessarily, it makes you think that purpose is something intrinsic in the cause that is reflected in the effect, rather than something only obtained as a result of the effect.
    Does God give himself purpose or is purpose something only conceivable as part of the effect?

    What do you guys think?

    (I'd like to add I'm not religious and am just entertaining this as a postulate of reasoning)
  • tim wood
    323
    Let's look at the question where God is defined as the wholly simple and necessary First Cause who caused reality and encoded order, morality and purpose into creation.
    If we take an Aristotelian view on the matter, causation is a perpetual chain which spans the entirety of, well, causality, until we arrive at the Uncaused Cause.
    Qurious

    There's a big problem with the notion of first cause, and with the invocation of Aristotle as if we understood his usage. We, heirs of the enlightenment and the scientific revolution, have got used to thinking about cause in a special, modern way. In particular, that to be a cause, the cause(r) must exist. The ancient Greeks imposed no such restriction. Their "cause," aitia, is more like explanation or reason. For example, Aristotle's four causes, efficient, material, formal, and final.

    For them, an idea could be a cause, and because their idea of existence was connected to efficacy, and ideas can certainly be efficacious, then that which were (effective) ideas were said to exist. You can see where the confusion comes in. A modern example of this is with number (among lots of other things, like justice). Numbers don't exist, yet they're efficacious, leading some people to claim and argue that they exist. Kurt Godel seems to be one who embraced this error. In fact in this he was a Platonist. He believed that numbers were ideals, and like any good Platonist, he attributed existence to ideals - but not in this world, only in the world that ideals inhabit. I call that world the world of ideas. This tension goes all the way back to its originators, Plato and Aristotle.

    Attributing brute existence to a "first" cause, then, is an error of understanding. Or deliberate nonsense. And in my opinion, this error is what feeds and keeps alive organized religion that claims that god exists, in the brute sense.
  • Qurious
    23

    Attributing brute existence to a "first" cause, then, is an error of understanding. Or deliberate nonsense. And in my opinion, this error is what feeds and keeps alive organized religion that claims that god exists, in the brute sense.tim wood

    Yes I see where you're coming from.
    However, the point to entertain was if potential may hold purpose (reason) without coming into actuality.
    Take the First Cause out of the equation altogether.
    If the potential is in essence the cause to the effect, then in the Aristotelian sense this would mean the purpose of something was it's explanation or reason for happening -- which is what science aims to establish. Rather than attacking the notion of a First Cause, I was following as to whether it gives that thing (or process) it's properties. If this view of the Cause suggests it is an idea, explanation or reason, is it defined only within it's relation to the Effect or is it a 'reason' in and of itself?

    My aim was to outline the difference between potential and actuality.
    The problem being that potential is only conceived upon having become actual, otherwise it doesn't make any sense.
    The explanation for something seems to be conceived only when an effect has been caused, and so, if there was a 'First Cause', which you have reasoned the brute existence of implausible, then it would not have purpose in and of itself, but only in relation to the effect...

    I'd like to ask, however, in what respect don't ideas exist?
    If you mean exist as in tangible physical things then I'd agree, but surely they are something?
    The potential to actuality? We share ideas, and we bring our ideas into action; to me this suggests ideas must be something, even if they don't 'exist' in the conventionally understood definition of the word.

    Are neuronal transmissions a cause or effect of thought?
    If a cause, what is the cause of neuronal transmissions?
    In an effect, what is the cause of thought?
    Consciousness? Potential energy? I sure don't know.
  • DPMartin
    12


    "If God exists, does God have a purpose for existing?"

    existence or more accurately in this case the universe or creation exists to accommodate the presence of life therein.
  • javra
    377
    If God exists, does God have a purpose for existing?Qurious

    I’m assuming that this will not be a novel idea. The referent to the term “God” is not singular among those who use the term—irrespective to these being theists or atheistic, and most especially across different cultures and different times.

    If God is deemed to be a deity (something endowed with any form of psyche), then its/his/her drive toward some outcome will logically hold presence, and, hence, God will be purpose-driven. If, however, God is deemed to not be a deity, then there is no logical requirement that God, in and of itself, be purpose-driven.

    One can find the same roundabout conundrum in the question of “if God is omnipotent can he create a rock too heavy for him to lift?” If one presumes the referent to “God” to be a psyche, the answer becomes irrational regardless of what it might be—this though the question remains cogent. However, if—as one example—one presumes a pantheistic God—such as that of Spinoza’s—the very question itself becomes an irrational strawman—hence, one for which, naturally, no answer could ever be derived.

    Current mentality commonly associates, first-ness, to that which is an ultimate precedent. In this contemplation, first cause has—to my current understanding—nothing to do with Aristotle’s final cause (final telos) as the unmoved mover. If, however, one associates first-ness with preeminence, then Aristotle’s final cause can be consistent with also being termed the first cause.

    So, to my best current understanding, were one to assume an Aristotelian final cause as the first cause in the sense of preeminence, and further equate this notion with the label of “God”, then God is that which endows purpose without itself being purpose-driven. As to why some might ascribe the term God to this Aristotelian final cause, a) it would be present/real in manners that evade the principle of sufficient reason, b) it would be the final state of being (the Omega), and c) it would be a prerequisite for all that manifests (the Alpha). Notice how there would then logically be no imperative for worship or prayer, no “talking to God who talks back to chosen ones” … well, it’s a long list, I’m thinking.

    Nowadays, any such view of God—much as was the case for Spinoza and his conceptualization (though his was a different system than that of Aristotle’s)—will in all likelihood be deemed theism by atheists and atheism by theists. So I’m thinking it would be a bit of no man’s land.

    I don’t have anything to prove here. But this is my current understanding of the main issue which the OP addresses: It’s not only an issue of if God is real, but of what one is referencing by the term, specifically either a psyche as other relative to all of us or, to be less theistic in terminology, an ultimate limit on everything which can be which pervades everything, including ourselves.

    Interesting questions on causation, btw. I’ve here only wanted to address the issue of God being or not being purpose-driven, hopefully from the vantage of a relatively non-dogmatic logic.
  • Qurious
    23


    I like your ideas. Interesting that you reached the conclusion this conundrum was in some way similar to the omnipotence/rock question, as I thought the same thing when contemplating the idea.
    Personally, I like to understand natural causality somewhat under the principle of the Tao as portrayed by the Tao te Ching, as a universal quality of all things which manifests in form & structure and thus gives rise to function, without really having to be a deity altogether. In this sense, the Tao could be equal to the cause(r) in the causal chain as it is to Nature, the effect.

    We define the process of nature under a system of sciences, and we use number to interpret the findings of such sciences and predict future outcomes. But if the process of nature is equivalent to the Tao, then all we're establishing in science is a human perception-based empirical angle at what is essentially perceptually ineffable. What I really like about the Tao te Ching is the fact that it was written approximately ~2600 years ago and yet it manages to capture a philosophy which hadn't been properly conceived in the West until the 17th century.

    The whole principle of the Tao is that it expresses itself in the most simple of ways, perhaps it just so happens that when we conceive of many simple things working together, it all seems very complex.
    However, the underlying simplicity of natural processes is what gives nature/Tao it's thorough effectiveness in causing an effect, like rolling a ball down a hill. It's very simple, but in order to translate concept into symbol, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so the more simple processes are involved. Reminds me of the saying "A picture tells a thousand words", well perhaps a process tells ten-thousand.

    Just experimenting with thought, though I have to admit this point of view is of particular interest to myself.
  • Rich
    2.5k
    If God exists, does God have a purpose for existing?Qurious

    To create.
  • Qurious
    23

    Would you say that is unique of God, or does that purpose extend to his creation, since we also have the ability to create, albeit not quite as impressively?
  • Rich
    2.5k
    Would you say that is unique of God, or does that purpose extend to his creation, since we also have the ability to create, albeit not quite as impressively?Qurious

    In this regard we can posit that we are all "gods" if this is the nomenclature that one wishes to use.
  • JustSomeGuy
    281


    Purpose isn't real. It's a human creation. Nothing has inherent purpose.

    Of course if you believe in God you won't agree with this, so I suppose this is a somewhat pointless post.
  • Cavacava
    2k
    If God exists, does God have a purpose for existing?

    Of course if you believe in God you won't agree with this, so I suppose this is a somewhat pointless post.

    Yes, perhaps the pointless point is the big bang. And, when science saw the misogynistic god implied by the postulation of the bang, and by the theologians who had suddenly became very scientific and very supportive of their efforts, these scared cosmologists ran for the hills of the unseen multiverses to try to hide.

    X-)
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