• Matias
    42
    This is not a trick question.

    Both cannot be seen or touched or smelled or detected with a microscope or any other instrument, but billions of people are firmly convinced that Canada exists. The same is true about God.
    There are thousands of books - from legal texts to history books - in which we can learn a myriad of things about Canada. The same applies to God.
    There are symbols and buildings and persons representing Canada ; again, the same can be said about God.

    Atheists like me are convinced that Canada exists 'out there' whereas God is just a fiction, it 'exists' only in the minds of religious believers.

    But what exactly is the difference? What is the ontological status of Canada and of God?
    Is there any *proof* that Canada exists besides the belief of billions of people?
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    I’ve often equated patriotism with religion. For some bizarre reason some people think it morally fitting to die for their country yet ridicule the religious people.

    I guess would could say the ambition of “religion” is a little more of a stretch than that of “nation”. Both seems to highlight to me the proclivity of humans to attach unity to as far reaching a principle as possible and then to cling to it to their dying end.
  • fishfry
    622
    God doesn't have Moosehead Ale, eh?
  • Shamshir
    425
    God is the circle of the outer perimeter, Canada is the circle of the inner perimeter and the wedge between both perimeters is the observer.

    Clearly there is something, something like a circle, and that something, like a circle, has many angles - and one just happens to be called Canada.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    It’s more like a banana fish comparison. That is the fish is in water and the banana is in a tree, yet the banana fish is in the water and not in a tree.

    Note: Or a could just be making pointless analogies?
  • Shamshir
    425
    UquK8QP.png

    Here you go Chungus. Pictures!
  • ssu
    1.4k
    But what exactly is the difference?Matias
    Canada can lose in Hockey finals 1 - 3. God can't.

    e488595ca9722d7a2cff812da98e1ec8.jpg
  • tim wood
    2.5k
    But what exactly is the difference? What is the ontological status of Canada and of God?
    Is there any *proof* that Canada exists besides the belief of billions of people?
    Matias

    Start with defining terms more consciously, explicitly, critically than you have been. There is no proof of anything except with respect to some criteria. It's your part to provide the criteria; in most cases a matter of having knowledge of what criteria to apply - that is, what other folks have already decided. And sometimes you get to provide your own. In either case it's usually good to start there. My guess is that by the time you define "God" and "Canada" you will have either answered your own question or will see that you're really asking a different question and just need make it a little clearer.
  • Baden
    7.9k


    Canada is the type of thing that can exist by virtue of it being agreed to exist. As can 'marriage', 'the office of the president' etc. It's ontological status is that of a social fact. God is posited as having an existence independent of both society and human beings. 'His' ontological status is therefore more fundamental, metaphysically. So, the question is misframed. A God that exists only by virtue of agreement (as a social fact) is not a God at all (is in fact only the atheist conception of God), but a Canada that exists only by virtue of agreement is fully the Canada we know. It has cashed out its ontology as much as necessary for it to be what we understand it to be.
  • tim wood
    2.5k
    :up: What he said.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.7k
    So, first off, one thing that "Canada" refers to is a particular range of real estate. And you can see and touch and smell and taste it--although I'd be careful with the latter. Don't go around just licking any random bit of dirt, concrete, etc.
  • hachit
    195
    the difference is Canada is a contry will God is an entity. A county is created by recognition, there for it only exist because we believe it exsits. God if real (wich I do believe it does) is an entity and therefore should leave a trace of its existence some trace of it exists in some way, shape, or form. Atheist simply denied there is a trace of its existence.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    When humans orgasm, they hardly ever (well, flat out never) moan "O Canada". But they often call out "O God!". It is probable that neither Canada nor God cares much about people's orgasms.
  • Trinity Stooge
    7
    God has Doubting Thomas, but we got Stompin' Tom.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    Canada can defeat the Warriors. God has no chance.
  • tim wood
    2.5k
    God if real (wich I do believe it does)hachit
    You believe that a real something is real? What, exactly, do you mean by "believe." It might help also if you make clear what you mean by "real."
    Your answers matter because the how makes all the difference.
  • Matias
    42
    Being an atheist myself, I do not see any fundamental difference concerning the ontological status. It is funny because a lot of fellow atheists are all too ready to agree that God is just a fictitious entity, a social "fact" so to speak, but they insist that Canada is real in some sort of way that God is not. Just look at the comment of Terrapin Station who claimed that you can lick at Canada and smell it. Of course you cannot. You can smell the air of a region that people have convened to call "Canada".
    That is the upshot of my post: that even if we do not believe in God, all of us live in a web of beliefs, dealing with fictitious entities, whether you call them "imagined orders" or "social facts" or "institutional facts"... Canada, the Dollar, laws, human rights... all "exist" because millions of people assume/believe that they exist, and this assumption/belief creates a virtual reality that we can navigate and deal with without realizing that its "existence" is as fictitious as "Zeus" or "pink unicorn on the back of the moon"
  • Matias
    42
    NO, you cannot see or smell or lick at Canada. You can visit a certain region of this Planet, and do all these things, but that is not "Canada". How could you smell an idea?
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    When I walk across a border, or fly over one, I feel nothing special. The concept of “God” and “Nation” are very similar. Most territorial claims are actually extension of some “God Given Land” too. Just because attitudes toward religious belief have changed in western society the remnants of such beliefs live on in the concept of “Nation” and “National Pride”.

    Basically we’re talking about human culture and the issues surrounding the will of the individual and the social conventions of any given time. Certain ideas of nationality and civility fall in and out of favour just as Gods do. Zeus has gone, yet principles of Zeus remain carried into the body of a new God.

    In this sense all gods and all nations are real expressions of human culture - which is a culmination of individual attitudes clashing with other attitudes and what nature is/does.
  • Baden
    7.9k


    Any atheist with any sense would only claim that Canada is as real as it's supposed to be whereas God isn't. There's nothing more to it than that.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    That is the upshot of my post: that even if we do not believe in God, all of us live in a web of beliefs, dealing with fictitious entities, whether you call them "imagined orders" or "social facts" or "institutional facts"... Canada, the Dollar, laws, human rights... all "exist" because millions of people assume/believe that they exist, and this assumption/belief creates a virtual reality that we can navigate and deal with without realizing that its "existence" is as fictitious as "Zeus" or "pink unicorn on the back of the moon"Matias

    Not ‘as fictitious’ because Canada comprises vast tracts of real estate which possess a concrete reality that unicorns and Greek gods do not.

    That said, you’re still on to something, but it has much more to do with ‘the nature of existence’ than with God per se. I think you’ve seen something akin to what Buddhists describe as ‘emptiness’ i.e. the absence of intrinsic reality.

    (Although you might be interested in this.)
  • Coben
    82
    This is not a trick question.Matias

    God exists but Canada doesn't. I've driven past those 'border signs'. Everyone speaks English, they have McDonald's and they drive the same cars. I went into several restaurants in Toronto and asked for Canadian Cuisine. I pretended to have a non-US accent, in case they were in on the whole pretense that there is a Canada. The shit they brought me I could have gotten in any diner in New Hampshire. And yeah, like Alaska would really be separated from the US by a different country...what are we cro-magnons?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    Canada comprises vast tracts of real estate...Wayfarer

    I wouldn't say "Canada comprises" real estate, because real estate is owned.

    Everyone speaks English...Coben

    Mon dieu, tabarnouche!
  • Terrapin Station
    9.7k
    NO, you cannot see or smell or lick at Canada. You can visit a certain region of this Planet, and do all these things, but that is not "Canada". How could you smell an idea?Matias

    Of course that's Canada. We're naming that ground "Canada."

    Do you think we can smell, taste, etc. "salt"? That's the same thing. "Salt" is what we're naming a particular "type" of substance. The name, the concept "salt," and even types--the notion that different "salt" is the same stuff somehow, are all ideas. That doesn't stop you from being able to taste salt. The word refers to something that's not an idea. Likewise with Canada, at least re one prominent sense of the term.
  • Shamshir
    425
    I wouldn't say "Canada comprises" real estate, because real estate is owned.Metaphysician Undercover
    Isn't Canada owned by its inhabitants? :chin:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k

    You mean the real estate? I see how inhabitants would own the real estate, but I don't see how the inhabitants would own the country. Real estate is owned, bought and sold, the country is not.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.7k
    I wasn't using "real estate" in a "technical" sense, which should have been clear by context.
  • Shamshir
    425
    Alright. But how would you constitute a country without its countrymen, its countrymen being foremost - inhabitants of the country?
  • Matias
    42
    The object "salt" (with all its features) does not vanish even if you stop believing in it, or if we give it another name. But entities like "Canada" can vanish from one second to another, or be created. Just think what happened with "Yugoslavia" .
    There was a moment in history when all those trees and mountains and rivers... existed, but "Canada" did not exist. And an hour later nothing has changed except that all those trees and hills and rivers ... were part of "Canada", which just had been created by 'fiat'. And since that moment Canada exists in the minds of all those who share this belief
    (There are about 30,000 people in Germany who are sure that the country "Federal Rep. of Germany" does NOT exist, they are called "Reichsbürger" because they believe that the German Reich never ceased but still lives on.
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