If God existed, how would it be possible for us to know God?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Jan Ardena, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    well yeah

    square pegs and round holes
    And reading the OP you thought
    "Gee this is a deistic notion of god down to a T", eh?

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    Once again, its not clear how discussing one person who lies outside of the cycle of our personal cycle of cause and effect shares a parallel with an entity credited as being the ontological foundation of everything.


    Conditioned life and unconditioned life are pretty much diametrically opposed paradigms.


    and the big difference between our current understandings of laws and an objective analysis of them being?

    The difference certainly couldn't be empirical now, eh?

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    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
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  3. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    however there may be issues aside from physical extension that enable comprehension of existence.
    oh really?

    So if the president of america was behind 5 doors on the third level of a building 4 city blocks away, he is just as accessible to anyone who can walk 4 city blocks, catch an elevator to the third floor and open 5 doors?

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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Interesting question!

    Intuitively, I would answer that if the object of perception has a consciousness greater than ourselves, then this does bring something new to the standard issues that surround investigation: namely, some kind of understanding that our attempts to perceive that object (of perception that has a consciousness greater than ourselves) are dependent on that object.

    Because: If we presume about something that it has a consciousness lesser than ourselves (like a worm or a rock), we presume ourselves to be quite capable of understanding the true nature of it - after all, we presume it has a consciousness lesser than ours, and a greater consciousness should be capable to understand a lesser one.
    IOW, we think that the worm or the rock don't need to do anything in particular for us to understand their true nature.

    Which is what our usual experience and standard of investigation is anyway - we tend to think our powers of investigation ultimately suffice to learn the truth about something.

    And consequently, when we investigate something, including God, we tend to presume that our objects of investigation have a lesser consciousness than we do - and this presumption seems to be born out of the way we usually go about investigating things (ie. the way of empiricism that has major metaphysical issues which empiricists conveniently ignore).

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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I just don't jump to assumptions, and make my arguments to cover as many possible interpretations.

    It really is quite simple, though.
    Anything that exists outside of our "personal cycle of cause and effect" is logically consistent with something that does not exist, whether it actually exists or not.

    Therefore for God to be consistent with something that DOES exist it must be within our "personal cycle of cause and effect".

    If God IS within our personal cycle then we can only identify/know it if it acts outside the laws of the universe - i.e. is not merely part of the natural. This is how we would "know" it is God.
    If God is indistinguishable from the natural then we can not know this God.
    This answers the OP's question for the God that interacts with us, and is also root for the "God of the Gaps".

    The only remaining vestige is the God that is defined as "the cause of all" etc... but no longer interacts (deistic God). And this is a God that is based on the unproven assumption that everything was caused... the God that conveniently is deemed uncaused, yet causes everything else.
    Since we can not prove or disprove this assumption, we can not "know" this God, we can merely make assumption.

    I admire your confidence, for that is all you appear to have.

    London is the capital of England. :shrug:
    Your point being?
    Life obeys the natural laws of the Universe, whether conditioned or not. Perhaps your scope of what is "natural" or not with regard to the Universe requires revision.

    I wouldn't know... no-one knows. That's why it is a difference.

    The point, though, is whether or not one can firstly identify something that falls outside our current understanding of the laws... and we'll start from there as to whether it also goes against the objective laws, or whether that example just pushes our understanding more toward the objective.

    If one stops after the first part without questioning the second part then you create a nice warm Gap for your God to dwell in. And I'm sure you'll both be happy together.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Leaving aside all other philosophical issues that would ideally need to be addressed in your post -

    Is it so bad to make assumptions (' ') about God (such as that God is the cause of all causes, the Summum Bonum)?

    If you think it is - why?

    Life is short, we fall ill, suffer and die so fast, we are so dissatisfied, so easily confused - and there is an old teaching about God that has been handed down through generations that neatly solves all sorts of heavy philosophical problems. Provided you accept it, that is.

    Is it better to reject that teaching and try to find the truth all by oneself and live a life of fear and misery -
    or is better to accept it and act accordingly, and live a relatively happy life?

    I guess for all practical purposes, it comes down to how unhappy you are, how much you value your happiness, and how much the (possibly dissenting) opinions of some people mean to you.
  9. swarm Registered Senior Member

    You do realize that's entirely irrelevant?

    Are you really trying to imply that simply because some one whose existence has been shown is temperarily unavailable, that he no longer exists?

    Most people grow out of the inablility to grasp persistence of objects at infancy.
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It depends on the question being asked and the extent to which you let that assumption dictate your life, I guess.

    If the question is about "knowing" then it is irrational to make a claim of knowledge based on nothing more than an initial assumption (that there was an initial cause etc)

    If the question is whether the holding of a belief based on an assumption can lead one to a fuller, happier life... that is up to the individual. I know too many people who are strengthened through their belief, through what their religion can offer, to negate that side of it.

    But what religions can offer in terms of psychological and physical benefit does not prove, or negate, the tenets of their belief.

    The teachings of a religion can be valid even if one does not believe in God... e.g. the moral compass it might provide. The Bible is full of Humanist notions as well as theistic ones: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" etc). So don't assume that atheists reject all that is taught by religion. A thing worth learning is always worth learning.

    Secondly, in my experience religion / theistic belief (or lack of) has little bearing on one's happiness or whether one lives a "life of fear and misery". So it is not a choice of "believe and be happy or don't believe and be miserable". It is a choice of believing or not. And a separate choice of whether to be happy or not.

    This is rather simplistic, and not actually something I agree with.
    That people can grow up happy as atheist or theist shows that it is not really about "happiness" at all.
    It's probably a mix of psychological need, intellectual laziness (influenced by happiness among other things), and logical fallacies that lead most to hold their belief. But that's just my guess. You can eliminate two (logical fallacies and intellectual laziness) but probably not the third so easily.
    Meh, mere waffle.

    Anyhoo - bit off-topic, no?
  11. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    On the contrary, it indicates an aspect to "knowing a claim" that many atheists conveniently leave out of the investigation


    The president is only temporarily unavailable to your direct inspection?

    Not sure what you are talking about.

    How does the persistence of an object relate to your ability to navigate a city block and open a few doors?
  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    the problem with being locked in to an empirical paradigm is that one's "self" becomes the investigative centre of the the universe.

    This effectively rules out the entrance of any other entity that is greater. ("oh look its something just like me ... except perhaps a little bigger").

    Sometimes it is known as "Kamsa syndrome"

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  13. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Or alternatively, you have poor literacy skills that help determine the context in which statements are made.
    hence the suggestion that being the ontological foundation of everything does have very pertinent issues of cause and effect to our personal selves
    There is the minor question of whether we are ever in the position to have a complete grasp of the laws of the nature (... you know, with empiricism being metonymic even under the most flattering of spotlights).

    If even a newly discovered law has the ability to act outside of our (current) body of knowledge, its not clear why you expect that god should not.
    or alternatively, the methodology we use to examine the "natural" (aka empiricism) will not be helpful in this regard.

    Our ideas on what is "natural" are very much tied to our ability to effect change on our surroundings.

    Since at the onset, the abilities of god and man are broadly distinct, its not so effective to tailor a god to such a limited scope.

    The problem at the moment is that your argument is resting heavily on the vagueness of the word "natural" as a sufficient means to distinguish the real from the unreal.
    Its clear you are entertaining an impossible dream if you think its reasonable to tie the words "proof" (in the sense of being provable to ourselves) and "cause of all causes".

    If we insist on the validity of your argument we could also discredit the idea that you spent time in your mothers womb (unless we want to accept an appeal to the authority of your mother)

    Why talk of god?

    It doesn't appear you have sufficient evidence on hand to prove that you took birth from the womb of your mother.

    The short and curlies of it is that if you accept an empiricism as the final cause of truth (as opposed to a convenient tool in particular circumstances) you have a remarkably narrow and shallow existence.
    hence the suggestion that there is a difference of scope for what is deemed "natural" according to whether one is un/conditioned.
    On the contrary, perhaps now would be a good time for you to sit down and revisit your understanding on what you exactly mean by the word "natural"

    (bonus points if you can establish the validity of your understanding with empiricism .... IOW as much as you loathe metaphysics, its at the foundation of your philosophical claims.)


    Its an "empiricism of the gaps" now, eh?

    as if investigating with the senses ever has the hope to reveal something that transcends the senses.
    If you insist on using "naturalistic empiricism" your endeavors of investigation are forever limited to your (conditioned) potency.

    What you are neglecting to question is the point where empiricism ceases to be effective.

    You don't have to introduce god to exhibit such a limit.

    If you don't believe me ask your mother.
  14. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

    God would either have to be here or not. The only two choices if He exists at all.

    If God exists and He is beyond our comprehension then He might as well not be here. What can we know about anything beyond our understanding? Fact is if God is beyond our comprehension then we wouldn't even know that much.

    If God exists and He is here physically in our reality then He is not recognizable. Again, we couldn't possibly know if we were staring Him in the face.

    If God exists then He is entirely unknown.

    This means that there is only one way for God to be known. And that is up to Him. God has to make Himself known to us in a method where we'd all understand, no exceptions. No atheists, theists or agnostics would be left standing. All religion would be one. Until then, no religion is believable until God makes His move.

    Since He has not then we can only conclude God is not here or He is here but cannot be detected. Since we have those two choices then either one is speculation thus rendering the knowing of God as an impossibility at this time.
  15. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    If you didn't witness yourself during conception, how do you know who is your father?

    (or are atheists so infatuated with empiricism that they don't send a father's day card until the dna results come back?)

    You began by talking about a god that cannot be known as non-existent and then you make an assertion that god is unknown.

    Being unable to know something in full is quite distinct from having incomplete knowledge capable of some practical result
    aka : normative descriptions in scripture
    You don't think being an atheist or agnostic would affect one's ability to practically apply normative descriptions in scripture?
    I'm not sure I follow.

    Perhaps you can indicate one field of investigation that is "all one".
    (at the very least, 6 year olds get a different curriculum from PhD's)
    once again, feel free to indicate some field of discipline or knowledge becomes approachable when it makes it move.
    or alternatively, those who make such claims aren't using the right means (or, more likely, have a vested interest in god remaining "undetected")

    Actually the main reason for people not acting in such a way to understand god is because they are suspicious (for a variety of reasons) of persons who do.

    IOW its not so much an issue about "knowing" what to do, but having the impetus to do so.
  16. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member


    Even if an entity gave us that understandin an all religions becam 1... ect... how coud we be certan that this "Gods" dictate wasnt jus that of a very clever imposter.???
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Sure, this is a perfectly legitimate concern. Which is probably why prospective theists and theists are instructed to be on their guard and watch out for impostors. And then, when they suspect they have found such an impostor, investigate whether it's merely their own jealousy that makes them to perceive the true God as an impostor, or whether they are really dealing with an impostor (impostors usually can't do the things God is said to be able to do).

    It is wrong to think that blieving in God is a matter of 'Oh, now I have found the true God, now I can just sit down, lean back and relax and never do anything else in relation to God again.'
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    There could be good uses in letting 'assumptions about God' dictate your life.

    Enter issues of epistemology - which, as far as Western science and philosophy go, are far from being definitively resolved.

    When theists say they 'know (about) God' - How can we say that they don't actually know (about) God, that they are merely assuming?

    How can anyone know whether they have knowledge of God, or not?

    Why not?

    But why is something 'worth learning' - if not because it in some way corresponds to how things truly are?

    That has not been my experience at all.

    It depends on what is meant by 'happiness', no?

    'Intellectual laziness' and 'eliminating intellectual laziness' - according to what standards of 'intellectual laziness' and 'elimination'?

    Not at all, I just approached the topic from a different angle.
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    If it makes you feel better believing that, just add it to your list.

    What exactly are you failing to grasp?
    (1) "Initial cause"/"ontological foundation of everything" is an assumption... and thus irrelevant in matters of knowledge.
    (2) Assuming there was an "initial cause" then either there is continuing interaction (theistic God) or there is not (deistic variety).
    (3) The Deistic God - because it does not interact, even though it was the "cause of all" - can NOT be known for reasons already indicated - and which you brushed over due to your assumption that we are referring to the theistic God only.
    (4) The Theistic God must therefore continue to interact with us AFTER the initial cause.

    Therefore the matter of God being "the initial cause" or "ontological foundation of everything" is IRRELEVANT to this thread.


    So you concede this argument? Afterall, if we can not fully grasp something, how then are we to know if something falls outside them or not.
    So why bother continuing to argue?

    Eh? I fully expect a God to be able to act outside our (current) body of knowledge. If it doesn't it is unidentifiable as God (hence we wouldn't know it was God).

    Odd statement. Surely if empiricism is so limited, it should not be hard for you to find something that acts outside it, i.e. in the realm of God?

    Lol! Then please ignore the word and just concentrate on "Laws of the Universe". The word "natural" is actually irrelevant to my argument and I should not have used it.
    In no way was the term meant to relate to a distinction between real and unreal.
    So please ignore "natural" and concentrate just on God having to act outside the laws of the universe.

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    The argument was made to show the very futility of it!
    I am glad you realise it, yet you fail to see how "proof" and "knowledge" go hand in hand?

    If you can raise the dead, you can try that appeal.
    However, you can observe other births for yourself - and this should give you sufficient evidence to create a theory, and to test the theory, and then to realise that your above comment is ludicrous.

    Maybe I was born in a test-tube: are you discriminating against such births?

    "Cause of truth"? Luckily I hold to no such idea.
    The short and curlies of it is if you murder someone and get caught you will probably go to prison.
    See how irrelevant it is when the condition has no bearing on what has been said previously.

    Empiricism has existing gaps in what it can help provide knowledge on, sure. Many just happen to squeeze their God into those gaps.
    Some have even found a way to keep their God in the realm of the unfalsifiable, and seem to think belief in it is somehow rational. Hey ho.

    That ol' chestnut.
    I'm sure the senses are useless in revealing such.
    The onus is merely on you to show that such exists.
    Oh - darn - back to high-school dropouts we go.

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  20. swarm Registered Senior Member

    No its simply irrelevant.

    No doubt you say that a lot.
  21. swarm Registered Senior Member

    Luckily true religious people never ask this question, which is why they currently worship satan.

    Its a catch-22 ... if you are gullible enough to believe in god with no evidence, you are easily decieved by evil.
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Sure - I don't deny it. But that is for another thread - not one regarding the question of knowledge.

    Isn't that the question being asked in the thread??

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    Because to date there has been no proven link between the two. There might be a link, there might not.

    Sure - but if the message worth learning is about how people should interact - how does this relate to the price of eggs? i.e. one must be careful in not assuming that because there are some things of benefit that ALL is of benefit.

    Then we differ in that.
    You know of no happy atheists? And no miserable theists?

    If one's understanding of "happiness" is specific to a theistic viewpoint and not one that can be held by an atheist, I guess no atheist will be happy.

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    Meh - bad choice of words on my part - open to interpretation etc.
    I view "intellectual laziness" to be the unwillingness to challenge something intellectually because of an existing comfort of ignorance.
    Elimination of this would be to challenge one's position.

    Most people on this forum are challenging their positions, although it is then a question of whether their arguments are sound, their logic valid etc - and in this the disagreements abound aplenty.

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    But at least there is the challenge to oneself.
  23. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Define "a consciousness greater than ourselves"

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