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. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

    Each successive era or age for humanity has laid claim to knowing what God(s) are overseeing us. Usually people are an impatient lot but when it comes to waiting for their God(s) to show up there is a tendency to keep that faith while tweaking the actual entity(ies) personalities to fit.

    Are we evolving towards a day when theism is passe or just too illogical and unreasonable for intelligent creatures to endure any longer? I sure as Hell hope so but evidence for this metamorphosis isn't forthcoming as yet.
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  3. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    When i was young (8-11?)... when i herd the terms atheist Russian or democrat i perty much envisoned som non-descript monster... an even tho i went on a simi-regular basis (dew to free cookies/cool-aid an fun activities wit frinds) to Sunday school... i was alredy pickin-up on the idea that somptin wasnt quite rite about "religious" people from the hyprocracy an evasivness i witnessed... but i had no idea they was fulla stoopidstitious bologna.!!!

    Im encouraged by the fact that the mor we know the less we beleive.!!!
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  5. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    If god is a "high school" student & our "universe" is her science experiment, how would it be possible for us to know her?
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  7. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

    Or vice-versa.
  8. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    For the purposes of requiring some set of core assumptions, there is none. Once again, if you disagree, feel free to offer an example.
    The OP does however require "god" to have a "dictate"(in the sense of a "dictate of one's own") .

    You have typed paragraphs about the ins and outs of the deistic concept of god, all of which make it clear that it doesn't involve such a sense of dictate.

    If you disagree, now would be a good opportunity to explain how the deistic notion of god involves issues of "dictate".
    By abstract term I mean a word like say "environment" or "paradigm" - you can indicate something that belongs within it but you can not indicate the "object" of it (hence the word abstraction).

    While there is perhaps room for detailing the linguistic perfection behind deistic philosophy, its not really needed here. At the onset, it is clear such an "entity" as a deistic god doesn't have a dictate, so this is obviously not the thread for it.
    the argument is not so much about the knowability of god but the relevance for you bringing Deism up in this thread.
    I'm not sure I follow.

    The OP had a requirement for a god with a dictate and you saw this as a reasonable opportunity to begin discussing deism.

    Perhaps you find the deistic notion of god acceptable.

    Perhaps you find some of the deistic writers and thinkers admirable.

    Or even, perhaps you overlooked the OP's use of the word "dictate".

    If you don't think that the use of the word "dictate" exempts the deistic notion of god, perhaps now would be a good time to address that point.
    Because you relegate the idea of all causes to a chronology
    well you just requested a counter to the argument and I just offered some topics that offer an alternative for "(4) The Theistic God must therefore continue to interact with us AFTER the initial cause. " being a cause for diminished potency etc.

    If you are interested in the topic perhaps you could start a separate thread on it.
    As already reiterated a dozen times already, the OP makes a requirement for a god with a dictate.

    Clearly this is not the case with deism.

    Perhaps you have been working with an idea of god that you find more palatable , but we are actually meant to be discussing different ideas at the moment.

    But what you don't understand (and in fact won't even address) is that the OP is making a very specific request for a god with a dictate

    Interesting points I am sure, but not really relevant to this thread, since it makes a special mention at the onset to leave issues of "how/does god exist" to some other forum.

    It also makes a special mention of a god with a dictate.

    This is the actual point that you should be addressing in your discussions of deism.
    I have no objections to the deistic idea of god being "unknowable".

    What I do have objections to is the validity of bringing it up in a discussion that requires a god with a dictate.

    there are many examples.

    I assume that you don't have any (empirical) evidence to support that you spent time in your mothers womb.

    I assume you also wouldn't hesitate to explain how you know that you spent time there either.

    Atheists take particular joy in revealing how something that was dressed up as god (simply because it overwhelmed current understandings of the day) falls within the range of knowable laws.
    I thought it was quite simple.

    Current understandings of the day change with the day.

    IOW what is a mystery today can be revealed as common knowledge the next.

    As a predominantly atheist contributor to this site, surely you can see what this lends itself to.

    As for a recipe for knowing god (as an example of something "non-material" if you like) , the OP suggests one - namely the question of god's dictate or not.

    Either way, bringing in a deistic conception of god serves no purpose (since a deistic god doesn't possess a dictate, much less the ability to be known)
    The prerequisite for many father's day cards, I am sure .....
    I thought it was obvious.

    The same general principle that applies for "knowing" a monarch applies to "knowing" god (at least a god with a dictate, which is what the OP is tailored to).

    So in answer to the OP : It requires god's dictate.
    Don't have to look far.

    If you say you know who is your mother and father you have one example right before you.
    which brings us back to the point of exactly who the evidence is knowable to.

    Even if you did get genetic tests done on your parents, your claims of knowledge would still be dependent on the dictate of others.
    Which statements are you vouching for?
    1. God is only knowable by his dictate.
    2. One can know god without his dictate.
      (and as a further point since there is no god knowable by such a method ... yada yada .. deism .... yada yada ... unknowable ....etc etc)
    Can you spot the difference between "using process X a truth was established" and "using process X all truths are established"?
    yet you insist that "Y" = "all truths" .....
    Its more the case your inability to recount those flaws and instead opt down the avenue of ad homming reveals your desire to concede ....

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  9. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Much like being the president of america is a knowledge claim about Obama ...... and since we haven't seen him personally launch a nuclear IBM etc etc

    IOW certain claims of knowledge only become absurd when you insist on measuring them by standard empirical means.
  10. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Basically we have certain parts of our body that can't be substituted for other parts. For instance if I am really required to use my head, I can't substitute an elbow.
    (hence the whole social criticism of misplaced varna in the contemporary world)

    IOW if you have persons more situated to professions in tamas and rajas operating out of positions reserved for sattva, expect problems.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    LG, a quick question to get to the chase, as you appear to be both increasingly obfuscated (whether deliberately or not I can not tell) as well as hung up on the matter of mention of deism very early in the thread.

    So - do you think it is possible to know a God without its dictate?

    For the record (and please refer to my 1st post in this thread for where this was first stated) - I say no, we can't.

    I also explain in that post why I think that.

    I also further explain my position in that the dictate must take a form that goes against the objective laws of the universe in which we operate.

    Is there anything here to which you object / disagree?
    Notice: at no point do I discuss whether or not God exists.
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I don't understand how this relate to what I said ...?

    When you speak of parts of the body that can't be substituted for other parts - is this an analogy for the 'personal/mental parts' (here mentioned self-respect, common sense and the right to inquire) that also can't be substituted for other parts? For example, that mathematical talent cannot substitute self-respect?

    I think I can understand your last sentence. For example, if a person has a great desire to do good, but is ignorant of what would truly be good, then this doesn't end well - like the hunger problem in Africa, that keeps getting worse the more food is provided by world-wide charity.

    You didn't seem to answer my question about the person stuck in blind doubt. Blind doubt is a kind of insanity ...
  13. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I was suggesting that just have different parts of our body that determine our functionality to the degree that they are properly orchestrated, so does the social body.

    For instance if you walk on your hands and hold the newspaper with your toes, you will probably develop complications with your wrists and ankles.
    Similarly, if you have persons of questionable transparency representing god, complications within the congregation will develop.

    The solution for a person stuck in the position of blind doubt is much the same as a person stuck in blind faith - namely restructuring one's value system (4 suggestions in BG 7.16 that can assist catalyzing such a change)
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  14. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    It requires god's dictate
    You explain because there is no direct or indirect interaction.

    This tends to breach issues of defining how/if god exists. If you have a god that can't participate directly or indirectly in influencing the cosmic manifestation it kind of begs the question how he could be the cause of it.
    At this point, you felt obliged to introduce the deistic concept of god, which is not really valid for the thread since its discussing a god with a dictate.

    So in short, you have problems with your premise about god's inability to interact (if you are working with a god attributed as being the underlying principle of all manifestations)
    The ability to go against the objective laws requires the ability to interact with a medium that we also operate it. It seems that even you are unable to continue with this track of a god that doesn't interact directly or indirectly with us.
  15. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    To play devil's advocate...
    Let's say that there is interaction and God identifies himself as God. This God claims to be both immanent and transcendent and is experienced this way, just as we experience each other as both experiencible and as having 'facets' 'essence' 'contents' that are not accessible.

    So God seems to be both nature and something beyond that, or at least partially not directly accessible. IOW there is a problem of other minds with God also, you could say.

    This is also a problem of other minds issue. We have that trouble with each other and, for example, animals.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    BG 7.16 says
    four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me
    - piousness seems to be the factor here. Anyone can be distressed, desiring wealth, inquisitive or searching for knowledge of the Absolute, but that doesn't suffice to turn to God.

    The grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons are also distressed, desiring wealth, inquisitive or searching for knowledge of the Absolute, but they don't turn to God.

    To me, blind doubt doesn't seem analogical to blind faith. Blind faith is like insisting on one object out of a hundred, ignoring all others. Blind doubt is like insisting to take none of the hundred objects.

    A person in blind faith can become or be pious, but a person in blind doubt cannot / is not. Because piousness requires an element of recognizing oneself as pious, no? And a person in blind doubt doesn't reconigze himself as pious.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    No - I explain that IF there is direct or indirect interaction then it has to defy the objective laws of the universe in order for us to detect it and separate it as being the dictate.
    At no point, with regard the theistic God, do I state that there is no direct or indirect interaction - that is merely you misunderstanding the arguments - I merely give the scenario by which we would be able to know such a God.

    Again - this is a red-herring / strawman due to you not following the arguments as given but seemingly making up your own to counter.

    We have covered the deistic God. You accepted it. Move on.

    For the last time... follow the arguments as given, not some assumed position.
    I have not stated anywhere in this thread that the theistic God HAS NOT had direct or indirect interaction with us... I have merely stated that, under the assumption that God exists then in order for us to know him, any interaction would have to defy the laws of the universe.

    Since I have never said that God (assuming it exists) does not interact, this is a strawman fallacy - as detailed above.
    Please discontinue from such.

    Why do you continue to make unwarranted assumptions?
    Please highlight to me exactly where I have said that (assuming God exists) God does not interact with us, either directly or indirectly? I have repeatedly said that IF God interacts THEN there are criteria that those interactions must meet in order for us to identify them as God.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    You would need to expand on this analogy... can you give some examples of such "facets" etc that are not accessible? I think I know what you mean, but I'd like to be sure.

    Can you expand this "other minds" issue, please? (Apologies but I'm not sure I quite grasp what you are trying to get at.

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  19. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    OK, you are my brother. To up the analogy a notch, I am blind and we relate mostly by telephone, since we live in different cities. We share a lot. We are pretty close. You tell me about problems you have. Sometimes I hear in your voice a tremor and I sense there is something you do not want to say. At times I suspect you are gay, but are afraid to come out. Other times maybe that you want to put a better face on things. From signs like these I think there is a lot of you I am not experiencing. I know from other too, what you are supposed to look like. I can even say this description though I am not sure what the words mean. I do have my own kind of sense of '6 feet tall' but realize that the sighted experience this in a way I do not. So there is your inner life. But also perhaps the surfaces of you, my brother that I do not see. Then I know from myself that I show different parts of my personality and feelings differently to different people, even ones where I feel equally intimate as I do with you. So I know that probably there is much I do not, but perhaps could or one day will experience with you that I do not now. I also have noticed that there are secrets I have, some I have even kept from myself. I assume that you have depths that I do not come into contact with.

    Perhaps the above will give you a sense.

    I am saying basically that with other humans we have both immanent and transcendent qualities -as far as we experience these others. And yet we can come to know these others to some degree and also get the sense there is more - even incredibly much more, which I think is the case with what in philosophy is called other minds. We can get the sense this is all there, perhaps even a hint of the vastness, and yet not know much about it.

    The problem of other minds goes further and questions whether we can even now there is an inner life there at all. Perhaps they are just automatons. I think this analogy is fair game for say, a pantheist/animist, who experiences more conscious entities than 'we' do. We basically shove the problem of other minds at them. But it is not as if we are immune to this problem. The rationalist reponse is to say 'well, we are like those other humans out there, so the assumption makes sense'. But a warning shot across the bow of this argument is the way it has been used as a limit in relation to other races than whites and to animals, the latter also being seen as machines, as often the universe is.

    This does not prove anything, of course. It is meant more to push back on the proof I felt you were mounting in the other direction.
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    As far as I can tell, all these facets are explainable through material interactions - usually subconcious comparatives - either to that same person or to people in general. Some people are very good at reading body language and verbal nuances - but there is nothing odd about it.
    As a blind person, it is likely the other senses - especially hearing - would be more sensitive to very small fluctuations etc.

    I would be careful before using terms such as transcendent.
    As said, everything you have described can probably be explained through material processes, and if not yet satisfactorily, it is more rational to assume that we will than that there is anything transcendent.

    Sure - but the sense is based on an unprovable assumption (that others have a depth similar to that we perceive in ourselves). We do not, nor can not know the assumption to be true or false.

    There is no proof to mount in either direction, imo.
    Although I'm curious to know what proof you felt I was trying to mount?

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  21. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    I was not saying it was odd. I meant it as a primarily mundane example. If you mean we do not know the mechanism involved when people hear from God or have visions, this does not mean we may not find this out in the future.

    Your stance was we could not know. I am saying you cannot know this.

    I am not saying that what we cannot experience in the other person is transcendant. I am saying it is beyond our sensing. I am showing that one can have partial contact and knowledge of someone and get a sense, correctly, that there is much more. This could be the experience people have of God.

    Fine, then statements that it would not be possible to know God would be impossible to back up. I thought you made such statements. It is precisely that position I am arguing against. If I misunderstood and you were not taking the position that even if there is a God we could not know him, then I have created a wasted tangent.

    See above. Let me see if I can find a quote.

    OK. Your first post in the thread. First statement.

    in response to the thread title.

    Then you move forward through a range of possibilities. I quoted from the latter portion of that post and was trying to point out that you had not exhausted the possibilities. I am saying that your support for the statement that we cannot know God - which is a kind of proof, or...`? - has problems. It does not account for people who claim to have some experience directly with God, who thus is to some degree immanent. I moved over to human relationships to show that we have direct experience of others and also have a sense that there is much we do not come in contact with. IOW the problem of other minds is relevent to both experiences.

    I think your assertion that no one can know God cannot be backed up.

    This is quite different from my saying there is a God. Which I wouldn't as I guess technically an agnostic - cannot be known.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I'm saying we can't know unless the dictate goes against the laws of the universe.
    Yes, I stated "We can't" at the start of my first post - but clearly (at least I thought so) caveated that statement by the end of it.
    Let me find the quote:
    If, on the other hand, he does interact with us but just doesn't let us know it is him, then we can only know him once we have identified an interaction that does not fit with the rest of the workings of the universe...

    Bear in mind that the thread asks whether or not we can know God "without his dictate".
    Not just whether or not we can know God.

    We can't know it is beyond our sensing. All we have is our own subjective sense that there is more - a subjective sense based on entirely material interactions.
    We could be wrong in our sense that there is more.
    I certainly wouldn't start with the assumption that we are wrong, but we can not know absolutely that we are right.

    As explained above - you need to read the whole post and by the end you will see that the statement is caveated. Also, my post was in response to the OP, not necessarily the thread title - as the OP expands the question with the "...without his dictate".

    But the person who claims to have these experiences of God can not know it is God rather than, say, a bad case of heartburn... they can only claim to know and rely on the confidence that the experience gives them of their conviction.
    If God uses processes entirely natural to this Universe for those interactions then it is, by definition alone, indistinguishable from nature.
    If one feels that God has interacted with them in "super-natural" ways then surely one must first ask how they know it is "super-natural" rather than just wishful thinking. If you can not eliminate the possible and more rational, how can you know it is the less rational?
    Likewise, it is impossible for us to know that there is more of a person than we come in contact with. At best we can make a rational assumption that there is and work with it until it fails.
    Any similar assumption regarding God fails Occam's Razor.
    Further, and I remind again, the OP is discussing whether or not we can know a God "without his dictate".

    If I asserted that as an absolute, sure. But my statement was deliberately caveated and only addresses the case of there being no dictate from the God in question.

    Devil's Advocate indeed, then.

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  23. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I'm not sure that makes sense.

    Its not clear why direct/indirect interaction of god must defy objective laws as a means for making god knowable.

    As a parallel, one could define the president of the USA possessing potencies quite beyond the average american (the ability to orchestrate national policy etc). Yet he becomes commonly knowable through a host of avenues that do not involve him utilizing them personally to an inquirer (for instance, how many people have not witnessed the president manipulating national policy on their front door step yet can successfully name who he is?). Generally people discern who and what the president is through qualitative models as opposed to quantitative ones.

    IOW the "standard laws" are a contingent potency of the authority figure (whether it is god or the president) who can work within or without them according to their desire (and in the president's case, capacity).

    On the contrary, you tend to indicate otherwise in post 16, a reply to Saquist.

    You make it quite clear there that you have every intention of working with a god that has no direct/indirect interaction.

    On the contrary, working with a god that is not the cause of the physical manifestation indicates a clear corruption of the standard understanding of the term.
    What I don't accept however is that it is valid to bring into this thread, which specifically details a god with "dictate".

    Originally Posted by Saquist
    Sarkus is kinda wrong.

    Creation itsself is a direct contact,

    I'm kinda not.
    You merely start with a logical fallacy - an unsubstantiated assumption - one you have conveniently built into your definition of God, I'm guessing (e.g. if you define God as the cause of all causes, it makes the inherent assumption that there was an initial cause... and thus requires there to be a God - through definition.) We call that a logical fallacy.

    If, however, you can prove that the universe, that existence itself, was created / caused, then you might be on to something.

    If you wish to go down an unassumed position, then the best you can achieve is through a definition of God that is self-evident - such as "God = the Universe" or "God = existence", neither of which add anything to our understanding by renaming to "God", and thus makes "God" a redundant term given that we have adequate terms already.

    Long live deism, eh?
    ditto above
    A indicated at the beginning of this post, your new argument is just as problematic as your old one

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