God: a failed hypothesis or something more?


(GJDS) #221

I draw the straw after the system intervened :laughing:

My view is that throughout history there have been human beings of great intellect that considered many questions that engage us today, and reason shows many such people may have dealt with these with greater clarity and depth. Science however, has given us tools that previous generations lacked, and we have the capacity to test things and examine matters of nature through experimentation.[quote=“marvin, post:220, topic:37310”]
credit those primitive goat herders with intellect
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I take this to refer to Israel - if so, these had a great advantage over others, in that a few displayed faith in God and sought to live a righteous life before God - this enhanced their reasoning capacity and enables insights into matters that are inaccessible to science.


(Marvin Adams) #222

I would question that tools have been given to us by science, as science can’t give us tools. They have been given to us by people with imagination using logic thinking and knowledge. Human ingenuity is not a product of science but of biology, e.g. the logic that governs life.

The declaration of calling the Israelites primitive goat herders is the hallmark of being a “primitive intellectual”. I am actually amazed by their ability to grasp the metaphysical point of God as of being a creating god that predates material existence compared to the other gods that were generated by precursors to them.
The other thing was to exclude the human tradition of materialising their image of God, thus to describe God in his presence in the box that contained the torah, even when the torah was taken out. From a modern perspective you would say this to be almost like the quantum vacuum described by modern physicists who struggle with the concept of nonmaterial existence.


(Steve Schaffner) #223

I think that’s all correct, but as you note, the quantum vacuum is a peculiar kind of “nothing” – a nothingness with distinct properties, activity and rules. I think we’re better off considering it a “quantum vacuum” rather than nothing.


#224

That is where the burden of proof comes in. An unreasonable belief is one where there is no positive evidence for the belief, and it is merely believed because no one has disproven it. That’s the entire point of the essay.[quote=“marvin, post:219, topic:37310”]
To claim the existence of something that has no explanatory power for any observed effect is childish, thus appropriate for children, but then for anyone claiming to be a scientist this is a declaration of intellectual bankruptcy.
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That is why atheists don’t believe in deities.


#225

Thanks for the fact checking!

I would completely agree with you. Those are the reasons why I mentioned how these discussions can get bogged down in definitions and semantics.

The best policy, IMHO, is to acknowledge that we don’t know what preceded the Big Bang. We may know one day, or we may not, but it doesn’t seem prudent to cite our ignorance as evidence for something we want to be true. On the flip side, I have no problem with people believing that God was involved in the creation of the universe as an article of faith, but when our ignorance of the origin of the universe is cited as evidence for a Creator, that probably goes beyond what most would consider a proper logical argument.


(Marvin Adams) #226

the evidence for the belief in God is the observed universe and our existence that from our observed reality suggests a creative agency like anything that begins to exist, so the hypothesis of a creating God serves as an explanation for our existence. In this respect the teapot and the dragons clearly fail to have any explanatory power for any observed effect particularly that would require them to have the properties of a teapot or a dragon, thus failing the criteria of being reasonable and coherent.

The reason most atheists do not believe in deities appears to be their misconception that they confuse deities with the concept of Santa clause, e.g.not a logical causal agent of existence but a childish projection of a wish fulfilling Santa that ought to deliver their wishes for reality upon prayer. Failure to get ones wishes for reality fulfilled by a God modelled on Santa’s big brother is not really an intellectual excuse for believing in the absence of God , but a reason to question ones God hypothesis. To conclude that there is no God because there is no God fulfilling ones wishes for reality is just a demonstration of lack of critical thinking towards ones own image of God.


(John Dalton) #227

I hardly think so. Most atheists don’t believe in God because they are not convinced by the suggested evidence for his existence.

I feel like Sagan went a bit too far with this analogy. The imagery is bound to be counter-productive. It was 1995 though, a bit ahead of his time and I imagine full of vim and vigor. More problematically though, he comes across as trying to be the final arbiter of what is and isn’t evidence for something and excluding evidence he doesn’t accept from discussion. It is a pretty applicable analogy IMO in situations where deities are suggested to have a substantial effect in reality, yet not leave any traces in reality. But he didn’t quite state it that way in his book.


(Marvin Adams) #228

suggests that you do not understand that hypothesis of the abrahamic God that is not created but the origin of creation, unlike the created Gods of antiquity. To suggest a God that an eternal God that created time/space requires a beginning is a sign if lack of comprehension of the concept of time, thus not a credit to someones intellectual capacity.

The evidence atheist seek is the occurence of irrational events per se or ideally in response to prayer and they regularly declare this. To search for God who is the logos, e.g. the source of order in trying to find the absence of such order in miracles that defy that order is a clear sign of intellectual failure. It should lead oneself to start to apply critical thinking to ones own God hypothesis and ask oneself why one looks for an irrational God. Whilst we are supposed to be made in our Gods image, the flaws in the image should not make us conclude that the original is equally flawed, e.g. that us occasionally looking like idiots would require God to be an idiot as well. The miracles you should look for are the things that do work, e.g. like the birth of a healthy baby, not the things that don’t.

Lets take an example of the problematic of miracles. If people confuse miracles with magic such as conjuring up wine at a wedding party, it only shows their lack of common sense. People who follow magicians in the hope to gain enlightenment only have themselves to blame. If however they understand the message of this story that instead of bemoaning the lack of wine at a wedding celebration they are made to realise that the very pure water of ritual purification, the water that is born to become wine as the master of ceremony calls it, is the most valuable fluid one can ever receive, they will find enlightenment. If they believe Jesus would make someone declare the fine wine to be more valuable than the water of spiritual cleansing and that makes them want to follow him they might as well follow Santa as they are lost to materialism and a complete lack of understanding of Jesus.

Thus carry on lookingfor materialistic magic


(John Dalton) #229

No, I do understand. Let’s put it this way. What’s your evidence that our reality is a thing that began to exist? Are you certain that it is not eternal or required a beginning? By the way, do you think you can answer that without resorting to insults? If not, I’ll just give it a pass.

You seem to be suggesting that atheists demand some kind of miracle. You’ve turned things around there I’d say. Sometimes believers claim that their deity can perform miracles. If there were convincing evidence of that, well that would be something. If not, there could still be many other kinds of evidence. What I am saying is that most atheists are not convinced by the total picture of evidence. I’m not sure why you’ve fixated on miracles here. Do you have an example of the kind of declaration you mean in your quote above?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #230

I think atheists (right along with all of us) are obliged to accept an “absolute ground state” of reality that will itself defy explanation or any evidential status. Theists call it God; others can call it whatever they want once they manage to stop being in denial about it. An infinite regress through time doesn’t rescue you from this imposed empirical humility any more than a Christian’s appeal to God rescues them. All are obliged to say that there is at the last an “unexplainable something” even if you shuffle it off over some distant intellectual or temporal horizon and tell yourself “well – I can’t see anything within my intellectual horizons that does not yield itself to empirical validation, so I conclude that those horizons stretch away forever into infinite regress.” But that infinity, even if it existed as such, would still then be the unexplainable appeal – the thing which itself has no cause. I know we’ve been around about this before, and so some of this might be repeat. So while I don’t want to echo any insulting tones, I do think Marvin has a point. Many denials of God these days do sound more like denials of Santa Claus’ big brother. And as such, it does show a failure to even reach the Christian understanding, much less marshal any argument against it.

Edit to add an afterthought: I’ll back off on the “obliged to accept” phrase. None of us are really obliged to accept any such thing, of course, especially when it is by definition outside the reach of empirical verification. Perhaps the way I should have phrased this would be, we are “obliged” to either accept that such an ultimate “ground of all existence” is there, or on the other hand, we just can’t know about any such thing and we’ll just stick with what we can see and perhaps know something about here and now. This latter is (I suspect) where you solidly end up; but as such it also prevents you from having any compelling argument you can make against those who do accept it. All you can do is shuffle off the burden of proof to them and declare that you’ll withhold judgment until they produce it; which only circles you back into your own lack of understanding of what they were talking about in the first place.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #231

@T_aquaticus,

You completely ignore the point. You do not deny that there is Something or Some One that preceded or created the Big Bang. That Source of the universe is what I would call God. Now if that Source is evil or has three heads or is otherwise different from the way I think of God, that would not mean that the Source is not God. God Is That God Is.

From another view I would say that to claim that there is no God means that there is no Source of the Big Bang. That would mean that Nothing is the Source of Reality. Is that what you mean?

To say that we do not fully understand the Source of the Big Bang is true, just as it is true that we do not really understand dark matter and other mysteries of the universe. Still, that does not mean that we cannot say that dark matter does not exist or that any and every crackpot theory about dark matter may be true, because we do not know that final truth.

What we are celled to do as scientists and theologians is to try to come as close to the truth as determined by the evidence while still being aware that our truth is not final.


(John Dalton) #232

I think that that is certainly true currently, and I believe it always will be. I call it “not having a full understanding of reality” or “the existence of forces beyond our understanding”. I don’t know that the terminology “absolute ground state” fits. I don’t know that it would be absolute or a ground or even a state. I mean “beyond our understanding” in the most literal sense.

Maybe it would have no cause. But I don’t know. The very problem we seek to address seems to be that we do not understand the cause of our universe and greater reality. Suggesting that there is something without a cause behind it takes us no closer to understanding. I no more understand how there could be a God or other forces without a cause than I can understand how there could be a universe or reality without a cause.

So while I don’t want to echo any insulting tones, I do think Marvin has a point.

No one has a problem with having a point, I hope. But insulting people’s intellect is insulting.

Many denials of God these days do sound more like denials of Santa Claus’ big brother.

I can’t say I’ve noticed. Do you have any examples?

And as such, it does show a failure to even reach the Christian understanding, much less marshal any argument against it.

I don’t think I misunderstand the Christian understanding, or even totally reject the possibility. It just seems to me that it does not have any explanatory power with regards to the existence of reality or the universe.

we are “obliged” to either accept that such an ultimate “ground of all existence” is there, or on the other hand, we just can’t know about any such thing and we’ll just stick with what we can see and perhaps know something about here and now. This latter is (I suspect) where you solidly end up

I’d say so. We don’t know. We can try to understand it by various means, but my belief is that it is beyond our understanding–which is to say, no one understands it better than I do–and likely always will be. Our frame of reference on reality is infinitesimal, and we have no idea how infinitesimal. Science has made amazing strides in increasing our understanding, but I don’t see that we’re even scratching the surface of the ultimate underpinnings of our reality.

but as such it also prevents you from having any compelling argument you can make against those who do accept it. All you can do is shuffle off the burden of proof to them and declare that you’ll withhold judgment until they produce it; which only circles you back into your own lack of understanding of what they were talking about in the first place.

I guess my argument is simply as I lay out above. It seems to me that one may have beliefs about such matters (as I have outlined my own beliefs above) which should ideally be supported by various types of evidence and reasoning, in some way. I think that’s fine, as long as people recognize the limits of their concrete knowledge. I don’t think I substantially lack understanding about such beliefs in general, but I’m always willing to listen and potentially be proven wrong about that. As far as the burden of proof, this really only comes into play when you’re making an assertion (that I should believe your beliefs, or that your beliefs qualify as knowledge, for example.)


#233

How does it suggest any such thing?[quote=“marvin, post:226, topic:37310”]
The reason most atheists do not believe in deities appears to be their misconception that they confuse deities with the concept of Santa clause, e.g.not a logical causal agent of existence but a childish projection of a wish fulfilling Santa that ought to deliver their wishes for reality upon prayer.
[/quote]

How is God a logical causal agent of existence?


#234

You would call a non-sentient, unconscious, naturally occurring quantum field “God”? That doesn’t seem to fit the description that most people have for God.


#235

Theists say the “absolute ground state” is a supernatural deity. That is the claim that atheists don’t believe.

Are there things about the origin of the universe that atheists don’t know and don’t understand? ABSOLUTELY!!! However, atheists don’t see how you can go from ignorance to God, at least not without faith. It is the leap from “I don’t know” to “it must be God” that atheists fail to make.[quote=“Mervin_Bitikofer, post:230, topic:37310”]
So while I don’t want to echo any insulting tones, I do think Marvin has a point. Many denials of God these days do sound more like denials of Santa Claus’ big brother. And as such, it does show a failure to even reach the Christian understanding, much less marshal any argument against it.
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Has no one heard of Christians claiming that they have been healed after asking God to heal them? People in my own family have told stories of praying to God for help in their lives, and then getting that help, such as money for their mortgage payments during hard times. You could argue that maybe Christians shouldn’t be making these arguments, and I won’t argue against that. However, I think it is a bit naïve to think that atheists are inventing the idea that people ask God for things.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #236

To be sure; Christian assertions get much more specific about what and who God must be like. My earlier musings were at the more general philosophical level which by themselves don’t get anybody to Christianity. I agree there. So yes, I do agree with you that Christians specifically do make claims that are observable and testable, though not always obviously or easily. And given that many Christians are guilty of “prosperity gospel” understandings, you are also correct that atheists and many others could be forgiven for sharing in the same perception of a vending machine god that many Christians themselves have promoted.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #237

Yeah — agreed about the inadequacies about my various tried phrases. It’s not the kind of thing (not a “thing” at all actually) that comes up in ordinary conversation.


(John Dalton) #238

No definitely not :slight_smile: Usually, I’m more likely to talk about the Rangers game or something :slight_smile:


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #239

Yes, I would call the quantum field “God” if there were clear evidence that the quantum field was able and did create from nothing the rational, and good universe that we live in. Right now there is not, but there is much evidence to show that YHWH did.

People say that a sentient, conscious, eternal God created the universe because that description best fits the evidence. There is no evidence that random order creates rational order. That being the case if a quantum field created the orderly universe, it must be rational and conscious and thus fit that description of a Personal God.


#240

Molecules in a collection of gas move and ram into each other randomly, yet we are able to infer rational gas laws from that random order. I don’t think you have supported the claim that rational order can not come from random order.