• DoppyTheElv
    43
    Hi all!
    A while ago I made a post in which i made clear that i'm an extreme noob when it comes to philosophy.
    While having bought a history of philosophy book, I still have a few questions that I don't see will be answered by myself anytime soon. So to the question; What is the problem with the arguments that attempt to prove God? The kalam, The five ways, fine tuning, moral argument, ...

    The reason why I ask is because I cannot differentiate bad philosophy from good philosophy. Neither do I know all of the intricacies of the structure arguments should have. (modus ponens, valid and sound) While there are a whole lot of people pushing these arguments. And there are also a whole lot of people pushing against them. I can't help but feel that the majority of the discussions that happen about these arguments aren't well grounded. And I'm assuming that people here know a fair deal and are able to give me a clear idea of what's wrong.

    I would like to suppose that the arguments all try to deal with a deistic or theistic god.

    Let me also add a subquestion to that and ask to the atheist. If these arguments are all a failure. Is that part of the reason why you are atheist?

    Thank you!
  • Adam's Off Ox
    61
    For me to understand an argument for God, I would need a clear understanding of how the speaker intends to use the words 'God' and 'exists.' What are the implications of the author's version-of-God existing? Then, how would I come to know such a being exists? How would my experience be different if the author's version of God did not exist?

    I do get hung up on what constitutes an ontology (what we say exists) and I prefer to focus on what things do. A good argument for or against God, imo, doesn't just focus on the concept of God and whether it is non-contradictory. Instead, I look for arguments that focus on phenomena that are best explained as an effect of God's action.
  • Kenosha Kid
    679


    Hi Doppy!

    In answer to the first question, it's a case-by-case basis. Descartes' proof relied on, among other things, dubious personally testimony (I can conceive of an infinite, perfect being!). Aquinus relied on jumping to conclusions. There aren't actually that many logical proofs of God; they are mostly variants of one another. Hidden circularity is a common trait though.

    As for your second question, no. I'm an atheist because I wasn't raised to believe one way or another. My parents were theologically sloppy and wanted me to make up my own mind. Having my own mind, I found it surprising that people entertained the idea with so little apparent reason.

    Most believers are taught to believe by their believer parents. Most atheists afaik are not. There's a little movement in between which, in testimonies I've seen, are either due consideration of evidence (both ways) or vulnerability in circumstances. (There is a reason why religions favour the vulnerable. Scientology, for instance, preys heavily on alcoholics, drug addicts, and people with mental problems. In the UK, it was usual to have chaplains as counsellors in prisons.)

    Generally I don't think the Bible, theology, or philosophy of religion enter into people's theism or atheism very much.
  • 180 Proof
    1.6k
    If these arguments are all a failure. Is that part of the reason why you are atheist?DoppyTheElv
    No. At 14-15 I began thinking for myself about what I was told to believe ... which lead me at 16 to cease believing just because they - tradition - told me to believe. I "came out" as an apostate, then later as an atheist, in a Jesuit high school (after several years of bible study, church history, altar-boy service & Latin) a couple years before I would study the classical "proofs" and apologetics. All those sermons to the choir did was further ground my atheism and even weaponize my profane critiques. But that was decades ago and now I'm not that sort of atheist - much less militant, though quite a bit more radical. Still irreligious though.

    Anyway, more to the point of the OP, I find that only a small minority of the non-trivial "proofs" are valid arguments and none, even the best, are sound. None. Also, deist/theist entities are "Ultimate Mysteries", or inexplicable, "as they say", to human reason - they do not explain e.g. "g/G created it" or justify e.g. "g/G commands it" anything. "Mysteries" only beg questions, after all, not answer them. Thus, g/G - deism/theism - says nothing intelligible to metaphysics & ethics or that's explicable in physics & biology.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.9k
    Let me also add a subquestion to that and ask to the atheist. If these arguments are all a failure. Is that part of the reason why you are atheist?DoppyTheElv

    I was raised in a religious family, and so in my early childhood held unexamined and innocuous-seeming religious views. I never had a reactionary moment in my life where I strongly rebelled against those. Instead, I slowly grew out of them as I aged and learned more about the world. I was in fact surprised in my adolescence to realize that adults sincerely held those views, and didn't merely teach them as metaphorical stories for children.

    Basically to me, God was like Santa Claus. Believed as a little kid, then realized he was just a fictional character, but didn’t feel like I was lied to or something, just that I had grown up and learned the difference between fact and fiction. The surprise to me was that other adults seemingly hadn’t.

    I didn’t learn anything about actual arguments about God’s existence until I was an adult, and found them all transparently unpersuasive by then. At best, they might sometimes prove some abstract metaphysical thing that bears no resemblance to the fleshed-out character of God from any holy book.
  • Frank Apisa
    2k


    The major problem with any arguments for or against the existence of any gods is that none of them are truly logical.

    It is impossible to come to the conclusion that "there is at least one god" OR that "there are no gods"...using logic. In fact, it is impossible to come to the conclusion that "it is more likely that there is at least one god than that there are none" OR "it is more likely that there are no gods than that there is at least one"...using logic.

    The best anyone can do is to make a guess in either direction. One can do that most easily by flipping a coin.
  • TheMadFool
    6.6k
    One can do that most easily by flipping a coin.Frank Apisa

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  • TheMadFool
    6.6k
    What we mean by "god" has been changing over time.At first gods were many and all of them possessed human-like traits, from mood swings to extra-marital affairs. The transition from polytheism to monotheism wasn't just about reducing the number of gods to just one but also involved removing these human-like qualities and replacing them with the three we're familiar with as omnibenevolence, omnipotence and omniscience.

    If you ask me, the earlier god(s) were more realistic in that they didn't contradict facts like the existence of evil, explicable in terms of their caprice and personality flaws. This realism in the nature of divine beings is absent in monotheism by virtue of contradictions that inhere in its conception of what the divine is.

    Basically, polytheism, with its multitude of gods, each with its own imperfections, likes and dislikes that bring them into conflict with each other and also humans, is more believable than monotheism with its one god, straining to the breaking point under the heavy burden of having to embody qualities that are diametrically opposite - the monotheistic god must explain, with his lone self, what at one time was simply the struggle between Eirene (goddess of peace) and Ares (god of war).

    The religions that preceded the Abrahamic religions were more realistic and thus more plausible.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.1k
    My position is that the traditional proofs constitute efforts to provide a reasonable basis for a conclusion arrived at largely without a reasonable basis and already accepted to be true.
  • DoppyTheElv
    43
    Thanks Kenosha. I'm reading up on all of it because I personally want to be able to distinguish stuff more so I might..One day..Get back to this.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    Let me also add a subquestion to that and ask to the atheist. If these arguments are all a failure. Is that part of the reason why you are atheist?DoppyTheElv

    Welcome Doppy!

    It's been my observation that there are more angry/resentful atheists than there are reasonable one's. There are many reasons for this, but I have found that this usually stems from the rubrics of religion. comments are a good example of an upbringing gone wrong. As many do, he suffered, and is still suffering from those bad experiences that has contributed to his frustrations over discussions relating to concepts about God.

    Unfortunately, most atheists fall into a similar extremist camp, much like the far-right fundamentalist's do. Meaning, it has the potential to become an antagonistic or resentful or 'I've got an axe to grind' exercise or mentality (even Einstein spoke to that). Nevertheless, as it relates to Philosophy, the irony is that over 75% of Philosophical domain's invoke God, like it or not, as an axiomatic standard by which things are judged. For example:

    1. In Ethics: Christian ethics.
    2. In Metaphysics: Descartes metaphysics
    3. Epistemology: George Berkeley
    4. Contemporary philosophy: Soren Kierkegaard
    5. Logic: Kant's synthetic a priori knowledge
    6. In the philosophy of Religion: God
    7. Political philosophy: separation of church and state/In God we trust.

    Of course another way (pragmatically) to approach Philosophical discussion about God is to analogize to existential phenomenon or metaphysical phenomenon. For example, take a look at conscious existence. Consciousness is both physical and metaphysical. Personally, I have yet to find an atheist able to parse or explain the nature of our mental states from say our sensory perceptions in both a materialistic and non-materialistic way. A few examples are:

    What method best explains my will to live or die?

    What method can best explain the reason I choose to love or not love?

    What method can best explain the nature of my sense of wonder ?

    What method can best explain the nature of causation ? (Why should we believe that all events must have a cause.)

    What method can best explain the nature of my reaction to seeing the color red, and/or my reaction to music that I love?

    Why do I have the ability to perform gravitational calculations when dodging falling objects do not require those mathematical skills for survival?

    The lists are endless.

    And so some of those metaphysical questions that arise from our cognitive states of Being seem mysterious or unknown. The true nature of their existence is unknown or unknowable, as it were. Yet they somehow exist in our consciousness albeit unexplainable. And they certainly do not have biological significance or survival value as instinct would be all that's needed for same. In a way, one could say they seem to be redundant features of existence.

    One central question relative to that existence becomes, how can the atheist make any objective statements about the non-existence of a God when he/she cannot even provide adequate explanations about the nature of their own existence? Or another philosophical way of asking that is, what means or method will provide for the ability to make factual statements about the existence or non-existence of those aforementioned things-in-themselves (?).
  • tim wood
    5k
    God(s): an undefined term representing ideas - systems of thinking - the contents of which determined by the people doing the thinking. These systems tend to be regulative in purpose, with explanatory aspects for credibility. Some are good and useful - or can be. And some are atrocious. A characteristic of believers, especially those who have paid money, is the conviction that what they believe is real. There are believers, and beliefs, that do not make that mistake, that instead hold to and remind themselves that their systems are beliefs only and not real, but not the less beneficial for it, the benefits being the real.
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    What is the problem with the arguments that attempt to prove God?DoppyTheElv
    The general problem is that they depend on questionable metaphysical assumptions. Theists often don't see that these are questionable because the argument "proves" what they already "know" to be true.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    The general problem is that they depend on questionable metaphysical assumptions.Relativist

    Wrong. Synthetic a priori judgements/assumptions are used all the time to test theories in physics.
  • Echarmion
    1.5k
    Wrong. Synthetic a priori judgements/assumptions are used all the time to test theories in physics.3017amen

    Synthetic a priori judgements don't imply a god.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    Synthetic a priori judgements don't imply a god.Echarmion

    They imply causation. Hint: explain causation viz conscious existence.

    Let me know.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.9k
    As many do, he suffered, and is still suffering from those bad experiences3017amen

    What bad experiences? As I said, I never had a particularly strong break away from religion. I don’t feel angry or bitter about Santa Claus either. That and religion are both things I just casually grew out of without any hubbub.

    his frustrations over discussions relating to concepts about God.3017amen

    I don’t feel frustrated discussing concepts about God. I just feel frustrated when people engage in them the way you do, with incomprehensible non-sequiturs, irrelevant questions calling for long in-depth answers that wouldn’t advance the main topic at all but only waste a ton of time, and then bad-faith reactions to those who wise up to your game and won’t fall for any of that.
  • Outlander
    475


    Lots of people do lots of things for lots of reasons. Usually it's because they either have seen both society and culture both with and without faith. Or they want you to think or behave a certain way and view them as something elevated above this world and naturally yourself. It's probably 50/50.

    The intellectual argument is simple. People want what benefits them here and now and if there is a later, later- and want to be on the winning side. Which alone begets a society of immoral leeches. So. You change things up. Suddenly faith has value. Not being a degenerate suddenly doesn't pay out automatically. It's pretty solid. Say you have a family business and have no heirs. Who do you want to look after it? Someone who thinks it's essentially without value, who you met as a literal nobody and has no reason to believe otherwise and convinces you they truly love the business for what it is, or the first prick who responds to a crap load of dollar signs if the paperwork is in order? Common sense, really.

    There's flaws in every system. Decency can be abused and good intent turned into something of greater detriment than ill will. It's not perfect. That's why it is. Get it?
  • Echarmion
    1.5k
    They imply causation. Hint: explain causation viz conscious existence.3017amen

    I don't see how they do, nor do I understand what you mean by your question.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    I don’t feel frustrated discussing concepts about God. I just feel frustrated when people engage in them the way you do, with incomprehensible non-sequiturs, irrelevant questions calling for long in-depth answers that wouldn’t advance the main topic at all but only waste a ton of time, and then bad-faith reactions to those who wise up to your game and won’t fall for any of that.Pfhorrest

    Is that another way of saying that you don't understand metaphysics?
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    I don't see how they do, nor do I understand what you mean by your question.Echarmion

    You may want to study how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.9k
    No, that’s a way of saying YOU don’t understand metaphysics.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    No, that’s a way of saying YOU don’t understand metaphysics.Pfhorrest

    Mmmmm, nice. Then do tell, why you were unable to answer those metaphysical questions (?) I'm now wondering, is it because you can't or is it because you don't understand metaphysics?

    How about this, I challenge you to make your case for the non-existence of God!! I say you are scared and will make some sort of ad hominum excuse. Kind of like what politicians do. You know, when they are scared they attack either the process itself or the person. But that's perfectly fine, it's all part of the strategy. Actually, I tdon't think that's anything new under the sun :snicker: .

    Accordingly, much like my boxing match withTim Wood and Jorndoe, I predict I will knock you out in round 1 of our spirited debate!!!. And, may even spare you the Muhummad Ali rope-a-dope. Hahaha
  • Pfhorrest
    2.9k
    I challenge you to make your case for the non-existence of God3017amen

    I did. Because you asked before. There’s a whole thread about it still on the front page.
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    The general problem is that they depend on questionable metaphysical assumptions.
    — Relativist

    Wrong. Synthetic a priori judgements/assumptions are used all the time to test theories in physics.
    3017amen
    I don't understand your point. If you're just saying that it's reasonable to make metaphysical assumptions, that may be - but then it's equally fine to deny those assumptions. Consequently, the arguments are only deemed sound by those who already believe in God. There is no argument that proves God based solely on non-controversial premises.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    did. Because you asked before. There’s a whole thread about it still on the front page.Pfhorrest

    I'm confused. I thought you threw in the towel over there?

    That's why I'm suggesting a one-on-one title fight, just you and me?

    Let me know when you're brave enough to take the fight !
  • Pfhorrest
    2.9k
    I said everything I have to say on the topic in the OP of that other thread and you didn’t say anything in refutation, just brought up nonsensical non-sequiturs (“which I call nonsensequiturs”).

    In any case, if you think of philosophy as a fight in the first place, you’re doing it wrong. The point is not to “prove” that your preconceived conclusions were right all along and “win” over the other guy, the point is for everyone to share their reasons for thinking as they do and together brainstorm possibilities that accounts for all of those reasons at once.
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    If you're just saying that it's reasonable to make metaphysical assumptions, that may be - but then it's equally fine to deny those assumptions.Relativist

    It is not that it's a "may be" ; it's essential in discovery of novel theories about existence. Kant would basically say it's an innate feature of consciousness. And I would agree.

    Think about it a moment. If you didn't have those intellectual abilities from your conscious existence, the discoveries such as the BB would not exist. Your metaphysical sense of wonderment is part of your own consciousness. You wonder about causation.

    There is no argument that proves God based solely on non-controversial premises.Relativist

    Aren't there a multitude of controversial theories about existence? Take your own consciousness for example... ?

    So, your point is... ?
  • 3017amen
    2.2k
    first place, you’re doing it wrong. The point is not to “prove” that your preconceived conclusions were right all along and “win” over the other guy, the point is for everyone to share their reasons for thinking as they do and together brainstorm possibilities that accounts for all of those reasons at once.Pfhorrest

    If you're looking for cigar smoking ego-strokes of your own ideology you're mistaken.

    I've laid out numerous concepts and you've essentially folded under pressure. So either you haven't done the training, or you're scared that I might be right.

    How about this, you have ample opportunity to prove me wrong.
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