• Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    From the Belief in nothing? thread:

    I'm an atheist and I positively affirm that I believe there are no gods, and am happy to defend that.Pfhorrest

    Hi Forest!

    Just curious, how would you defend your belief system? For instance, which domain would you draw from ( logic/deductive or inductive reasoning, cosmology, phenomenology/consciousness, metaphysics, existentialism, cognitive science/psychology).

    I would be happy to debate the EOG based upon all of the above disciplines, if you want to start a thread. Up to you. I'm just wondering how an Atheist thinks, since I'm obviously not one.
    3017amen

    I don’t feel a need to start a thread of my own just to defend my own view, but I’m happy to explain myself if you want to start one to question it. I gave a brief summary of my view and some brief reasons for it at the end of the post you replied to, if you’d like to quote that in the OP of a new thread or something. I’ll quote it here again for ease of reference:Pfhorrest

    To cut a lot philosophical arguments short, my current position is that while it is possible that (a) very powerful, very knowledgeable, and very good being(s) could exist somewhere in the universe (but only in the universe, because physicalism; including in some layer of reality outside of what we falsely think is the universe if we are in something like a simulation, for instance), what you're talking about there now is basically an alien, and there is evidently (because Problem of Evil) no such being sufficiently powerful, knowledgeable, and good to fulfill the role of "God" here on Earth. So sure, I'm (weakly) agnostic about the generic existence of nice, smart super-aliens somewhere, but there is definitely no God in the usual sense around these parts.Pfhorrest

    I decided that this is actually an interesting topic and I'd like to do a post on it, so since 3017amen hasn't made a new thread yet, I'm making this one.

    I'll start off with a bit of structure and then some pre-written thoughts of mine on the subject and then I guess let 3017amen or others reply.

    So, first we need to know what we mean by "god".

    The biggest split is between non-cognitivist and cognitivist meanings. I'll do the non-cognitivists first.

    Within the cognitivist meanings, there are transcendent meanings (God as a thing beyond the universe), immanent or pantheistic meanings (God as the universe itself), and incarnate meanings (God as a thing inside the universe). I'll do those in that order.

    TL;DR spoilers:
    - Non-cognitivist "God": doesn't count as God, but definitely exists.
    - Transcendent "God": could count as God, but can't possibly exist.
    - Pantheistic "God": doesn't count as God, but definitely exists.
    - Incarnate "God": might count as God, could exist, but evidently doesn't.

    On a non-cognitivist "God":

    throughout my life, I had experienced now and then times of intense positive emotion, feelings of inspiration, of enlightenment and empowerment, understanding and acceptance, awe, of a kind of oneness and connection to the universe, where it seemed to me that the whole world was eminently reasonable, that it was all so perfectly understandable even with its yet-unanswered questions and it was all beautiful and acceptable even with its many flaws. I greatly enjoyed these states of mind, and I did find that they were also practically useful both in motivating me to get things done, even just mundane chores and tasks, and also in filling me with creative thoughts, novel ideas and new solutions to problems. But although I eventually learned that these were the kinds of mental states often called "mystical" or "religious" experiences, I never took them to be in any way magical or mysterious. I saw them as just a kind of emotional high, with both experiential and behavioral benefits. Friends who had experience with drugs like LSD would even describe my recounting of such experiences as sounding like a "really good trip", further enforcing my view that these were just biochemical states of my brain (even while some of those friends conversely took their own LSD trips and such to be of genuinely mystical significance). While in such states, some things would sometimes seem "meaningful", in the sense of "important", even when I could see no rational reason why, and I always just dismissed this as a pleasantly bizarre mental artifact of the emotional high I was on.

    [...]

    I have since dubbed [...] that experience of cosmic oneness, understanding, and acceptance, "ontophilia", Greek for the love of being [...] ontophilia generates a feeling of inherent meaningfulness. Meaning, in this sense, is like love: to ask whether "love is real" in any sense deeper than "do people feel love" is a malformed question, because there is nothing more to love that could be real or not than the feeling of it; love is just the feeling of loving or being loved. Likewise, to ask whether there is "really meaning" in any sense deeper than "do things feel meaningful to people" is also a malformed question, because there is nothing more to meaning that could be real or not than the feeling of meaningfulness, ontophilia, or meaninglessness, ontophobia. Neither feeling is rationally correct or incorrect about any actual philosophical question about meaningfulness, but ontophilia is clearly the better state of mind, both for its intrinsic experiential enjoyability, but also for the practical benefits it confers of enlightening the mind and empowering the will

    [...]

    I am of the opinion that ontophilia is the proper referent of the term "God" as used by theological noncognitivists, who are people that use religious terminology not for describing reality per se, but more for its emotional affect. Most theological noncognitivists do not identify as such and are not aware of this philosophical technicality in their use of language, but it it evident in expressions such as "God is love", whereby "believing in God" does not seem to mean so much a claim about the ontological existence of a particular being, but an expression of good will toward the world and of an expectation that the world generally reciprocates such goodness. It seems also plausibly equatable to the Buddhist concept of "nirvana", or the ancient Greek concept of "eudaimonia", which were the "meanings of life" of those respective traditions.

    [...]

    That is "the meaning of life", in the conventional sense of the question; that's what life is good for, what to live for: the enjoyment of it. Interestingly, as the ontophilic mood described above brings with it both an immensely greater enjoyment and alleviated suffering, and also, more practically, increases the power of the mind and the will and consequently aids the pursuit of both knowledge and justice, it could reasonably be said that pursuing, achieving, maintaining, and spreading that "meaning of life" feeling, ontophilia, is itself the practical meaning of life.

    [...]

    ...the way to cultivate ontophilia is to practice the very same behaviors that it in turn inspires more of. Doing good things, either for others or just for oneself, and learning or teaching new truths, both seem to generate feelings of empowerment and enlightenment, respectively, and as those ramp up in a positive feedback loop, inspiring further such practices, an ontophilic state of mind can be cultivated. In this sense, it could be poetically said that the meaning of life is to love and be loved, to learn and to teach. Learning truths about the universe, and being the recipient of its goods, shows one how everything in the universe matters, how they fit together into the big picture; and doing goods for the rest of the universe, as well as being a font of truths, makes one matter to the rest of the universe. Learning many great truths and doing many great goods places one in a crucial position in the overall function of the universe, being influenced by as much of the universe as possible through one's experience, filtering true beliefs and good intentions out of it, and then influencing as much of the universe as possible through one's resultant behavior. Approaching such a position is also, on my account, approaching what it would mean to be a god — roughly all-knowing, all-good, and all-powerful...
    The Codex Quaerentis: On Practical Action and the Meaning of Life

    TL;DR: there is a real feeling that corresponds to the non-cognitivist meaning of "God", and it is the greatest and most important thing in life, and doing the things that bring about that feeling is kinda like to "become [one with] God", but the occurrence of that feeling really isn't good ground to say "God exists", and doing so just causes unnecessary confusion with people who don't already do that, even people who are intimately familiar with that feeling.

    On a transcendent "God", I say that such a thing is not possible, because transcendent things in general are not possible:

    The most archetypical kind of transcendentalist opinion is belief in the supernatural. "Natural" in the relevant sense here is roughly equivalent to "empirical": the natural world is the world that we can observe with our senses, directly or indirectly. That "indirectly" part is important for establishing the transcendence of the supernatural. We cannot, for example, see wind directly, but we can see that leaves move in response to the wind, and so find reason to suppose that wind exists, to cause that effect. Much about the natural world posited by modern science has been discovered through increasingly sophisticated indirect observation of that sort. We cannot directly see, or hear, or touch, or otherwise observe, many subtle facets of the world that are posited by science today, but we can see the effects they have on other things that we can directly observe, including special instruments built for that purpose, and so we can indirectly observe those things.

    Anything that has any effect on the observable world is consequently indirectly observable through that very effect, and is therefore itself to be reckoned as much a part of the natural world as anything else that we can indirectly observe. For something to be truly supernatural, then, it would have to have no observable effect at all on any observable thing. Consequently, we would have no way to tell whether that supernatural thing actually existed, as the world that we experience would seem exactly the same one way or the other, so there could be no reason to suppose its existence, no test that could be done to suggest any answer to the question of its existence. And so if we held a belief in it anyway, we would have to do so only on faith; and if we reject appeals to faith, we consequently have to reject claims of the supernatural.
    The Codex Quaerentis: Against Transcendentalism

    And the reason to reject appeals to faith are:

    If we pick our initial opinions arbitrarily — which, as I have said, I think is fine, and as I elaborate elsewhere in these essays, even unavoidable — we then have a very high chance of those initial opinions just happening to be wrong. If we go on to hold those arbitrary opinions (that we just happened into for no solid reason) to be above question, which is the defining characteristic of fideism as I mean it here, then we will never change away from those wrong opinions, and will remain wrong forever. Only by rejecting fideism, and remaining always open to the possibility that there may be reasons to reject our current opinions, do we open up the possibility of our opinions becoming more correct over time. So if we ever want to have more than an arbitrary chance of our opinions being right, we must always acknowledge that there is a chance that our opinions are wrong.The Codex Quaerentis: Against Fideism

    On an immanent, pantheistic "God", I don't have any handy quotes, but I used to be a pantheist myself, until I realized that my actual views didn't differ at all from those of atheists, and just calling the universe "God" didn't really mean anything, if you're not claiming that the universe is a person. A God that isn't a person isn't really a God in the usual sense described by any holy texts, just some kind of abstract metaphysical machinery of one's philosophical framework.

    On an incarnate "God":

    The usual cornerstone of western religious belief, and the source of the hope that it brings, is belief in a god that is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, who therefore could and would right all wrongs and make everything okay; a very comforting idea that I sincerely wish was true. (I would slightly reinterpret these criteria, in the framework of my preceding philosophy, as such a god having: total awareness, or perfectly accurate experience of the universe, which "all-knowing" approximates; perfect processing of those experiences into true beliefs and good intentions to drive its subsequent behaviors, which "all-good" approximates; and total control, or perfectly effective behavior upon the universe, which "all-powerful" approximates). As my position against transcendentalism rules out the possibility of a truly supernatural god, the closest thing to that traditional idea that could possibly exist would have to be a natural being in the universe, not something beyond it, which I expect most would say would not truly count as a god: that would be, in effect, an alien. And a being in the universe could not be all-knowing or all-powerful about that universe, but they could in principle be all-good, and they could be very knowledgeable and very powerful, enough for that to still be something to hope for. There does not at present appear to be any evidence of alien life at all (though it seems statistically probable that there is some of it somewhere), much less alien life that has interacted with our world, but the existence of a very knowledgeable, very powerful, all-good alien being is strictly a possibility one could hope for. It is even strictly possible that what we think of as the universe is something like a simulation set within a larger universe, and that such an alien being resides out there in the larger universe, and is in fact all-knowing and all-powerful over the smaller part of it that we presently think is the whole thing. Such a being could even have created that smaller part that we think is the whole universe. That would be the closest thing to the traditional conception of a god that would actually be possible, and though I don't believe there really is such a being, because there is no evidence I have seen to suggest such a thing, I don't deny that it is technically possible.

    But I cannot find hope in that possibility, because such a powerful and knowledgeable being must not be all good, or else an all-good alien being must not be sufficiently knowledgeable or powerful even if it is very knowledgeable and powerful, because if there were a sufficiently knowledgeable, sufficiently powerful, and sufficiently good being, there would be no excuse for the continued presence of bad things in the world, for it would have fixed them already. If it does not know that they need fixing, that would explain why they continue to occur; likewise if it is not able to fix them, or simply is not inclined to do so. This is a very old philosophical issue called the "Problem of Evil": the existence of "evil" (taken to mean bad things generally) in the world implies that anything like a god that exists must be ignorant, impotent, or apathetic (at best, malicious at worst), because if it were not then the "evil" would have been eradicated. Various excuses, called theodicies, have been offered for why an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good being could allow "evil" to exist anyway. The most popular of them is called the free will theodicy, which argues that a god could not guarantee the elimination of all evil without eliminating free will, which would itself be evil, making it logically impossible for such a god to do any better than what we have now. But I think that that argument fails on technical grounds because it rests on an incompatibilist conception of what free will is, which I have already argued against in my essay on the will. On my conception of will, freedom of the will consists in your moral judgement being causally effective on your actions, so that when you judge that something is the right course of action, that causes you to do that, in contrast with cases where something else causes you to do something that you judge is not the best thing for you to do. On that conception of free will, if a god had created people with greater free will, that would have made them behave more morally, so there is no contradiction between creating people who would always behave morally and also have free will, making the existence of free will no excuse for the existence of "evil".
    The Codex Quaerentis: On Practical Action and the Meaning of Life

    And addressing that whole free will topic is really too long to summarize here, so here's a link to my essay On the Will and the Subjects of Morality for a full account of that.
  • StarsFromMemory
    79


    "If we pick our initial opinions arbitrarily — which, as I have said, I think is fine, and as I elaborate elsewhere in these essays, even unavoidable — we then have a very high chance of those initial opinions just happening to be wrong. If we go on to hold those arbitrary opinions (that we just happened into for no solid reason) to be above question, which is the defining characteristic of fideism as I mean it here, then we will never change away from those wrong opinions, and will remain wrong forever. Only by rejecting fideism, and remaining always open to the possibility that there may be reasons to reject our current opinions, do we open up the possibility of our opinions becoming more correct over time. So if we ever want to have more than an arbitrary chance of our opinions being right, we must always acknowledge that there is a chance that our opinions are wrong."

    I was just wondering how appeals to faith can be rejected, based on the grounds that you suggest, in the case of a trascendental god. Any opinion regarding the existence of a trascendental god is truly beyond question/reason. Ofcourse, I am not talking about the biblical god. We do have some reason to reject its existence (the problem of evil). However, any opinion you hold regarding the existence of a trascendental entity is simply a matter of faith or the lack of it.

    I think that any belief, that you intend to propagate or make universal and not merely use as a coping mechanism, should be based on reasons other than pragmatic ones. So, you can choose to believe that god exists because it explains a lot of the world for you. However, you cannot hope to establish god's existence based on those grounds (faith + pragmatic reason) unless there is some other valid reason.

    If you cannot know anything about it, you cannot talk about it let alone establish it's existence.

    I agree with everything else in the OP especially the bit about free will.
  • Pantagruel
    630
    I think that any belief, that you intend to propagate or make universal and not merely use as a coping mechanism, should be based on reasons other than pragmatic ones.StarsFromMemory

    People's reasons for believing are ultimately their own business and their own responsibility. What you do with your beliefs is the measure of their merit. So if belief in a god makes someone a better person and benefits others, who is to argue with that?
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    Thanks Forrest!

    It will take me some time to digest all of this. In the meantime, there are some good contributions already. I will probably approach it bit by bit, one concept at a time...then respond accordingly.

    Good stuff!
  • StarsFromMemory
    79
    People's reasons for believing are ultimately their own business and their own responsibility. What you do with your beliefs is the measure of their merit. So if belief in a god makes someone a better person and benefits others, who is to argue with that?Pantagruel

    Okay, I think you misunderstood me there.

    So, you can choose to believe that god exists because it explains a lot of the world for you. However, you cannot hope to establish god's existence based on those grounds (faith + pragmatic reason) unless there is some other valid reason.StarsFromMemory

    I do hold that everyone can choose their own belief system and we are no one to question that.
    My post was not directed at belittling people who have faith in god. Rather, I was trying to argue for why faith has no place in a philosophical discussion of a trascendental god because I felt that Pfhorrest's argument was a inadequate in the case of said discussion.

    I think that faith can be used to justify a belief in god but not the existence of god. If faith and thus a belief in god makes someone a better person, that belief is entirely justified. What is not justified is saying on that basis that god exists.

    I say so simply because faith is a matter of interpretation and personal experience. If someone is brought up in tough conditions, it is likely he will lack faith. Interpretation of religious text and indoctrination by society also determine the severity of faith. Hence, it has no place in a philosophical discussion because it can establish nothing objective.
  • Pantagruel
    630
    I wasn't advocating faith, per se. Merely pointing out that why someone believes something is not as important as what and how one believes (ie. enacts the belief).

    There is an obvious gap between the spiritual and the material. Purely transcendental beliefs (if there are such) are basically meaningless. It is only when a transcendental belief is translated into the practical sphere that such beliefs gain meaning. And the usual way this is done is through normative prescriptions.
  • StarsFromMemory
    79
    Merely pointing out that why someone believes something is not as important as what and how one believes (ie. enacts the belief).Pantagruel

    I would agree. However, if practicality and not reason is the primary motivation for a belief, then such a belief cannot be justified as true. If someone believes in god because it makes him a better man, then the act of believing is justified, however the belief (that god exists) itself does not become true. In other words, reason alone is not the criteria for justifying the act of believing in something, however it is the only criteria for determing the truth of that belief.
  • Pantagruel
    630
    However, if practicality and not reason is the primary motivation for a belief, then such a belief cannot be justified as true.StarsFromMemory

    "Truth" is not necessarily applicable to all types of belief. Normative beliefs don't need to be true, they just need to be effective.
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    Hi Forrest,

    Okay, first if we could get some of the definitions out of the way, that would be nice. And as such, are we saying that the classic apologetic Trilemma still applies?

    As a Christian Existentialist, I deny such attributes of God from classic theology (Anselm/Aquinas) and instead hold the Epicurean denial of same. Please note it doesn't mean I throw the baby out with the bathwater either. The efficacy and importance of their body of work of course is significant in its own right. And so I draw from those influences that more closely align with my existential view of God.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    are we saying that the classic apologetic Trilemma still applies?3017amen

    If you mean the same thing I think you mean (Lewis's trilemma of "lord, liar, or lunatic"), I'm not making any claims here about Jesus in particular, so I'm not sure how that applies. Are you maybe talking about the three "omni"-attributes usually attributed to God instead? (Omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence). Your mention of Epicurean denial sounds like maybe you do. So you're saying the kind of "God" you mean doesn't have to have those attributes? So what are the things that define your concept of "God"? Ignoring those omni-attributes, does your concept of "God" fit into the structure of different senses of the word that I laid out at the start? (Non-cognitivist, transcendent, immanent, incarnate).
  • StarsFromMemory
    79


    Yes, that is exactly what I meant when I said:
    If someone believes in god because it makes him a better man, then the act of believing is justified, however the belief (that god exists) itself does not become true. In other words, reason alone is not the criteria for justifying the act of believing in something, however it is the only criteria for determing the truth of that belief.StarsFromMemory
  • 180 Proof
    900
    So, first we need to know what we mean by "god".

    The biggest split is between non-cognitivist and cognitivist meanings.
    Pfhorrest
    This distinction concerns epistemic warrant, that is, whether warrant is possible (re: cognitive) or doesn't obtain at all (re: non-cognitive). Instead, I prefer (the broadest) theological categories: theistic and non-theistic.

    By theistic I understand a conception of divinity attributed the following predicates: (1) ultimate mystery, (2) that created existence and (3) intervenes - causes changes - in the universe. (Btw, concepts such as deism, pan-theism & pan-en-theism I understand as special cases or variations on 'theism'.)

    By non-theistic I understand a conception of divinity attributed predicates other than, and excluding, theistic predicates (mentioned above), such as those expressed via e.g. animism, pandeism, gnosticism, acosmism ...

    And though the latter tends to be either insufficiently evident (ágnôsis) or inherently undecidable (epoché), I think both theistic and non-theistic categories can be treated either cognitively or non-cognitively. So-called "god debates", however, only obtain where theological cognitivity (i.e. a 'concept of divinity' consisting of propositional statements) is assumed.
  • Frank Apisa
    1.5k
    Lots of talk about what the word "god" means...but not about what the word "believe" means. Too bad, because a lot more is obtained on the issue being discussed by determining what is meant by "believe" ...than by determining what is meant by "god."

    When the question is: What is the true nature of the REALITY of existence? (of which "Is there at least one god?" is just a part)...the word "believe" is, understandable, used as a substitute for "blind guess."

    We humans have trouble understanding what time, space, time/space means...so the full "true nature of the REALITY of existence" is so far beyond our scope of understanding, the very best we can do is to make blind guesses about it. (Yeah, we can think of our blind guesses as hypotheses, but...)

    We blindly guess that what we supposedly "know" about REALITY actually is knowledge rather than a transient hypothesis that will one day be shown as suspect...and we blindly guess that our supposed "knowledge" leads to logical conclusions.

    A "belief" in the context of the discussion happening here in this thread, folks...is nothing more than a blind guess in disguise. Given that...what difference does it really make about what we mean when we use "god?"
  • Bilge
    8
    Many authors mention the fact that humans preferred to forget about the question 'why they exist' upon failure to find a satisfactory answer. Instead, they concerned themselves with the external world or the nature, hence the science and tech craze. In time, they developed aversion to human mind, its capacity and relation to the interconnectedness of the universe. As a result, humans became the only creatures in the universe who would do anything not to be themselves. The secret of what is god / truth is hidden in the response to why we exist.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    about what the word "believe" means.Frank Apisa

    To believe something is just to think it’s true, nothing more. You could believe for no good reason (a “blind guess”), or you could believe for reasons. My entire OP is a list of reasons why I believe various things that I do. You can contest the cogency of those reasons, but to label the conclusions “blind guesses” without addressing those reasons at all is just to object to the very having of this conversation, in which case... there’s the metaphorical door.
  • Bilge
    8
    Belief is our way of giving meaning to life or any phenomena in it. It may be the pillar that keeps one erect. Right or wrong, belief represents the status or state of your consciousness. It shows where one is in the grand scheme of things, and crystallise in principles that support the endurance of one's soul, dilemmas of the psyche, plan for the next step and the reason for a stasis. In any case, they are who one is, and have to be respected. Life itself would act upon them for confirmation or critique.
  • leo
    830
    To believe something is just to think it’s true, nothing more.Pfhorrest

    Belief is much more than that, belief changes how you see the world, how you feel, how you act and react, it is more than a thought. It would rather be behaving and being as if something is true.

    Regarding the existence of God: is it laws that cause change, or will? Do laws enforce themselves, or does will enforce laws?

    Regarding the problem of Evil: is it right to assume that God is necessarily all-powerful? We might have two competing gods, a Good God and an Evil God, who are extremely powerful but not all-powerful. A loving God who is the ultimate source of love and joy and hope and everything that is good and who can transcend the laws of physics (miracles) still counts as God to me.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    Belief is much more than that, belief changes how you see the world, how you feel, how you act and react, it is more than a thought. It would rather be behaving and being as if something is true.leo

    What is it to think something is true than to be of a state of mind such that you are inclined to act like it is true?

    Regarding the existence of God: is it laws that cause change, or will? Do laws enforce themselves, or does will enforce laws?leo

    This question isn’t clear, but on my account will is a process as lawlike as any other, which is to say not completely but substantially enough. And laws of nature are not “enforced” by anything, then aren’t normative laws like those humans pass to govern each other, they are just patterns in the structure of possible ways the universe could be.

    Regarding the problem of Evil: is it right to assume that God is necessarily all-powerful? We might have two competing gods, a Good God and an Evil God, who are extremely powerful but not all-powerful. A loving God who is the ultimate source of love and joy and hope and everything that is good and who can transcend the laws of physics (miracles) still counts as God to me.leo

    Transcending the laws of physics is not possible because if they could be transcended they would not have been actual laws to begin with. We routinely transcend all kinds of things once thought to be laws of nature; that just shows that we were wrong about what the laws were before.

    But as for the problem of evil, if you want to count as God something that doesn’t meet all the regular criteria that’s fine, just a matter of semantics, but still you’re basically talking about a really powerful all-good alien who’s just not powerful enough to overcome the influence of an equally powerful evil alien, neither of whose existence we have an evidence of. That’s kinda crazy sounding and though on my account you’re free to believe it yourself if that really seems the most plausible interpretation of your experience of the world to you, you’re going to need some big evidence to back up any assertions to anyone else that that’s more likely than other, less outlandish accounts.
  • Frank Apisa
    1.5k
    Pfhorrest
    1.5k
    about what the word "believe" means.
    — Frank Apisa

    To believe something is just to think it’s true, nothing more. You could believe for no good reason (a “blind guess”), or you could believe for reasons. My entire OP is a list of reasons why I believe various things that I do. You can contest the cogency of those reasons, but to label the conclusions “blind guesses” without addressing those reasons at all is just to object to the very having of this conversation, in which case... there’s the metaphorical door.
    Pfhorrest


    What I actually wrote was:

    "When the question is: What is the true nature of the REALITY of existence? (of which "Is there at least one god?" is just a part)...the word "believe" is, understandable, used as a substitute for 'blind guess.'"

    I stand by that completely .

    If you disagree...I acknowledge that you have every right to be incorrect on this issue.
  • Pantagruel
    630
    Belief is our way of giving meaning to life or any phenomena in itBilge

    I like this characterization a lot. This sounds like a philosophy of "enaction," which I very much espouse.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    What I actually wrote was:Frank Apisa

    Lots of talk about what the word "god" means...but not about what the word "believe" means.Frank Apisa

    I did not misquote you.
  • Frank Apisa
    1.5k
    Pfhorrest
    1.5k
    What I actually wrote was:
    — Frank Apisa

    Lots of talk about what the word "god" means...but not about what the word "believe" means.
    — Frank Apisa
    Pfhorrest

    You left out the complete of what I said...and thereby changed what I actually said.

    Allow me to give you a taste of it:

    You wrote: "I did misquote you."

    See how that works?
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    That’s not how it works.
  • Wayfarer
    9.5k
    Transcending the laws of physics is not possible because if they could be transcended they would not have been actual laws to begin with.Pfhorrest

    I wonder how logical laws - the law of the excluded middle, the law of identity, and so on - fit into this template? I mean, such laws are not physically determined; they inhere solely in the relations between ideas. They are subject to logical, not physical, necessity.

    The standard physicalist presumptions simply assume that the 'laws of physics' are determinative with respect to everything that exists - that after all is the underlying 'mythos' of physicalism. This presumably includes language, logic, and everything else, which are said to supervene on the physical.

    But biosemiotics philosopher Howard Pattee observes that 'All signs, symbols, and codes, all languages including formal mathematics are embodied as material physical structures and therefore must obey all the inexorable laws of physics. At the same time, the symbol vehicles like the bases in
    DNA, voltages representing bits in a computer, the text on this page, and the neuron firings in the
    brain do not appear to be limited by, or clearly related to, the very laws they must obey. Even the
    mathematical symbols that express these inexorable physical laws seem to be entirely free of
    these same laws.'

    (From Physics and metaphysics of biosemiosis. He remarks that this is the same apparent distinction between the reality of symbolic form and matter that motivates Cartesian dualism although acknowledges that Descartes' model 'consigned the relations between them to obscurity'.)

    The usual response to the argument that 'the ability to interpret signs and symbols cannot be explained in physicalist terms', is to say that that the human intellect evolved to the point where it can generate abstractions which are but 'useful fictions' in the service of the successful replication; but that this is at root a physical process which is understood through the prism of evolutionary science and neurobiology. This is the standard neo-Darwinian-materialist model.

    But I think the argument that undercuts all such accounts is that those models themselves rely on the very logical faculties which the theories seek to explain. In other words, any kind of judgement, scientific or otherwise, implicitly relies on the fundamental operation of logic; if this, then that ... . Thought itself operates within a 'meaning-world' within which all accounts, all scientific theories, inhere. Obviously in respect of modern scientific method, the ability to validate hypotheses against observation is central, especially in the so-called 'hard sciences'. And yet at this juncture, science itself confronts many impenetrable conundrums about the nature of matter, mind and life. But physicalism has this kind of bumptious self-confidence, that even if we don't know all the details yet, we're working towards it. And I think that is what has to be called into question.

    Many authors mention the fact that humans preferred to forget about the question 'why they exist' upon failure to find a satisfactory answer....Bilge

    :up:
  • Frank Apisa
    1.5k
    Yeah...not if you want to play games instead of actually have a discussion.

    I don't feel like playing games.
  • creativesoul
    7.9k
    God and belief in God...

    There is no difference.
  • leo
    830
    What is it to think something is true than to be of a state of mind such that you are inclined to act like it is true?Pfhorrest

    Do you see the difference between thinking the Sun is going to rise tomorrow, and behaving as if the Sun is going to rise tomorrow?

    on my account will is a process as lawlike as any other, which is to say not completely but substantially enough. And laws of nature are not “enforced” by anything, then aren’t normative laws like those humans pass to govern each other, they are just patterns in the structure of possible ways the universe could be.Pfhorrest

    What is it that makes the Sun move in the sky? Is there something that moves it? Does it move all by itself? If you say it moves because the Earth rotates, is there something that makes the Earth rotate? Does it rotate all by itself?

    The Earth might suddenly stop rotating. Yet it keeps going. What makes it keep going?

    When you decide to pick a flower and you do it, what made the flower be picked? Is it just a pattern, or are you responsible for the flower being picked? Are you just a pattern?

    Transcending the laws of physics is not possible because if they could be transcended they would not have been actual laws to begin with. We routinely transcend all kinds of things once thought to be laws of nature; that just shows that we were wrong about what the laws were before.Pfhorrest

    You can break the laws that society imposes on you, does that mean they aren’t laws?

    You say the true laws of nature can’t be broken. How would you prove that such laws exist in the first place, considering that we “routinely transcend” apparent laws? If they exist, why would all things follow these laws and not some other laws?

    as for the problem of evil, if you want to count as God something that doesn’t meet all the regular criteria that’s fine, just a matter of semantics, but still you’re basically talking about a really powerful all-good alien who’s just not powerful enough to overcome the influence of an equally powerful evil alienPfhorrest

    An alien sounds like a being from some other planet being subjected to the same laws of nature as you are, whereas I’m talking about beings (forces, energies, or however you want to call them) who are the source of everything that you see and feel.

    neither of whose existence we have an evidence of. That’s kinda crazy sounding and though on my account you’re free to believe it yourself if that really seems the most plausible interpretation of your experience of the world to you, you’re going to need some big evidence to back up any assertions to anyone else that that’s more likely than other, less outlandish accounts.Pfhorrest

    Many people have evidence of them. You wouldn’t have evidence of the sky if you were blind.

    Presumably when you see a house you interpret it as evidence of other beings even if you haven’t seen them with your eyes, beings who have built that house. But you choose to not see the whole world as evidence of higher beings even if you haven’t seen them with your eyes.

    You choose to believe that laws that were there for no reason at all somehow gave rise to this world. You choose to believe that laws are responsible for what you do, that choice is an illusion. You choose to believe that love and suffering and thoughts and beauty and good and evil somehow appeared out of lifeless stuff that is none of that. That’s what sounds crazy and outlandish to me.
  • xyzmix
    40
    Is God able to move from world to world now without taking time? Does it take God time to travel?
  • xyzmix
    40
    The universe is like energy grounds, there's so much potential in Earth life.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    Do you see the difference between thinking the Sun is going to rise tomorrow, and behaving as if the Sun is going to rise tomorrow?leo

    Not really. At least, I can’t imagine a scenario where someone who thinks that doesn’t act like it’s true, unless for some contrived reason like he’s pretending to think otherwise.

    The Earth might suddenly stop rotating. Yet it keeps going. What makes it keep going?leo

    The full answer is complicated, but it boils down in the end to there not being a possibility (or there being far fewer possibilities than otherwise) for it to stop. Keeping going is just the most likely, “default” thing for it to do.

    When you decide to pick a flower and you do it, what made the flower be picked? Is it just a pattern, or are you responsible for the flower being picked? Are you just a pattern?leo

    Yes. The chain of events leading to the flower being picked was part of a pattern of possibilities like any other events, and I am part of that pattern, but there’s no “just” about that because the only alternative to being part of a pattern is being completely random and that’s not better. And part of my pattern involves examining and altering my own patterns, and that pattern is what constitutes freedom of will.

    You can break the laws that society imposes on you, does that mean they aren’t laws?leo

    Not in the same sense as physical laws, no.

    You say the true laws of nature can’t be broken. How would you prove that such laws exist in the first place, considering that we “routinely transcend” apparent laws? If they exist, why would all things follow these laws and not some other laws?leo

    Starting from a place of now knowing whether the universe behaves in a lawlike fashion or not, we can only assume one way or the other. To assume it does not behave in a lawlike fashion is just to give up all hope of understanding it at all. We may nevertheless still fail to find laws that it consistently follows even if we do assume that there are such laws, but if we act on the assumption that there are such laws by trying to figure out what they are, then we have at least a chance of understanding the universe, if such a thing is possible.

    An alien sounds like a being from some other planet being subjected to the same laws of nature as you are, whereas I’m talking about beings (forces, energies, or however you want to call them) who are the source of everything that you see and feel.leo

    If what we think is the universe is actually just some construct inside of a broader universe, then whatever being(s) exist outside of this construct in the broader universe are still basically aliens. You're basically saying "what if the universe is a simulation?" I covered this already in the OP.
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