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. swarm Registered Senior Member

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  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    LG, I no longer have any wish to explain, yet again, the logic behind the arguments that you continually fail to follow - not through the logic being faulty but through your apparent inability to follow it.
    I can only assume from the evidence of your posts that either you really are unable to follow the rather simple flow of argument or that you are deliberately acting as such. It no longer bothers me which is the case.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The 'norm'? Set as the 'norm' by whom or what?

    You seem to think that 'knowledge of nature' is not problematic in itself.

    Your line of reasoning works, of course, but only under the condition if we accept that we know or can know 'nature', and posit that 'nature' is necessarily different from God and unrelated to God. But is that justified?
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    The norm as in the objective workings of the universe.

    Not at all. I think that it is possible that understanding and knowing nature, as in the objective workings, is impossible.
    But this does not alter the logic of the argument... that to be detectable something must be differentiated from everything else. And in relation to God, surely that "everything else" is the objective workings of the universe.

    I am merely outlining the requirements, as I see them, to know God.
    My line of reasoning is that IF those conditions (of the interaction) are met then we could know God.
    Whether it is possible for us to ever identify something that meets those conditions is another question entirely.

    If God IS nature... and I addressed this earlier in this thread... then you are left with God being knowable purely through definition of being "nature... in which case we already have a word for it: "nature" - so why introduce another. Further, all we can learn about this God is what we can learn about nature... calling it God does not enable us to garner any additional information, and in fact just complicates the issue.

    I could define God as the chair on which I sit, and thus by definition know it.
    But it would be, as you would most likely agree, a pointless and meaningless exercise.

    If God is more than nature then it comes back to the original question: how would it be possible for us to know God (at least that element of God that is different to nature) without his dictate?

    I say, again, that we can't, that it would require his dictate. Do you disagree with this?
    I have also indicated what I see to be the conditions that the dictate must hold for us to be able to identify it and know it as such.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for this information.
    I've searched further - CC Antya 20 seems to be the source?

    Yes ...

    Except that 'elsewhere', they mostly don't care about my plight or ridicule it, and here, SkinWalker is breathing down my neck.
    What a predicament to be in!

    I suppose so.
    I have always had great problems with issues of forgiveness and holding grudges, but just recently I realized it seems this has been mostly due to my inability to be really sure whether something that was done to me was really wrong or not, right or not. Even to the point of such absurd situations where if someone would hit me, I would be confused and devoured by the contemplation of whether it was wrong or not - I just couldn't decide and ruminated on it, for years even. I have always been perplexed by seeing how sure other people seem to be about what they think right and wrong.

    So yes, this inability of mine to be sure about right and wrong definitely calls for re-establishing the value system that determines my values.
    And yes, it looks like it is not going to be easy.
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    That is the hook then.

    If we don't allow for the possibility of ever knowing the objective workings of the universe, then we are stuck in agnosticism forever.
    And as such, it is pointless to explore, test, research or discuss anything.


    Why?? I don't understand this condition at all? Where are we humans in all this? Or are we summed up in 'objective workings of the universe'?
    I would imagine there are at least three kinds of phenomena: God, living entities, nature. God being different both from nature as well as from living beings; living beings being different both from nature and from God; nature being different both from God and living entities. So in order to know God, we'd have to look into all three kinds of phenomena (or perhaps even more kinds).

    You are arguing from the position of agnosticism, I see.
    I think that at this point of the discussion, agnosticism would need to be re-examined, whether it is justified - and not so much matters of God.

    I think that first of all, by allowing for the possibility that agnosticism is not a position favorable to acquring any knowledge.

    I agree, to know God requires some kind of God's dictate. But it also requires, on our part, to allow for the possibility that God's dictate would get through to us - and this means at least theoretically giving up agnosticism and allowing for the possibility of knowledge.
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    We can allow for the possibility but we can't know that we will ever achieve it until we do.
    There is an inherent rational assumption in science that it is achievable, and science has generally progressed in that direction - so the assumption has not yet been invalidated.

    Then we differ in our understanding / use of what is natural.
    Humans are natural products of the universe. We have been formed, as far as can be told thus far, as part of the natural processes of the Universe.
    Everything you do, everything you are, is natural.
    Or would you really call people "super-natural"?

    You affect other objects in accordance with the laws of the universe.
    Other objects affect you in accordance with those same laws.
    You are entirely bound by the laws of the universe.

    Why? You suggest it need be re-examined but you don't state why. Because you don't like where it leads?

    Agnosticism is not an absolute position. It is a position on a certain thing - e.g. God.
    Absolute agnosticism (in that nothing can be known) is... an odd position, I would have thought - as you can know things through definition (1+1=2, etc). But it is not a position I have considered at depth.
    So if it is this form of agnosticism you refer to then you have gone of a tangent, I fear.

    I do allow for the possibility. I have stated the criteria that would make it possible.
    You have not countered those criteria as being invalid but rather appear to have skirted around it.

    If you allow for the possibility that God's dictate gets through to us, and does not meet the criteria I have set out, then you need to explain or provide examples of:
    1) The form of the dictate;
    2) How you would know it was God's dictate rather than, say, delusion or hallucination etc.

    That God's dictate may be in a form consistent with the objective workings of the universe is a possibility - but it would be insufficient for us to identify it as such.
  11. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    I'll admit that the Abrahamic religions have set themselves up for this with their fascistic split between nature and transcendent stuff, but a person could be convinced by an experience and not make some such distintinction. Your saying they could not know is a guess, not having had the experience yourself.

    From other experiences, sure. Unique, but not necessarily, unnatural. The experience could include a pattern recognition that those not having the experience are not aware of, not having had the experience. And again, I want to keep a clear distinction between their making a claim that some non-experiencer should accept, or simply speaking for themselves. Or simply believing and not even mentioning it, since your blanket denial of the possibility that it could be rational reaches even those who never utter a word, even to other believers.
    I know I haven't convinced you you cannot know. I think, in general, it is hubris to think we know what experiences we have not have will have as impacts.

    Sure, of course it would be different, but that does not mean it has to break laws. It could be a natural phenomenon, but one that is not - our own consciences, a fantasy, a hallucination, a dream, etc. Just as we can separate out an encounter with someone from a hallucination, a dream, a fantasy, so could a theist. It would be a natural phenomenon from another category than the ones you are used to.

    It is not as if we are without faith even as non-theists, that was part of the point.
  12. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    This seems key. Of course it is not generally possible to simply decide to have a new position and there you are. But one can extend the periods of time one does not attack phenomena with all of one's habitual epistemological nagging.
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    The person could say what they want. In this thread I am only concerned with the nature of the interaction - i.e. what it must be to be identifiable.

    Just being unique doesn't cut it. Every experience is unique.
    It has to display characteristics that set it aside from any and every other possible experience of the universe - otherwise it can not be identified from the rest.

    The question of whether one can then persuade others they have had such an experience is where your "other minds" issue comes in.
    But it does not invalidate the basic point that the experience has to be one that is outside the objective workings of the universe.
    If the experience is merely unique but within the natural workings then anyone who claims knowledge of God as a result is being irrational.

    I feel this issue to be irrelevant to the core point. For the purpose of this thread I am not really concerned with whether one person can convince another, or doesn't and keeps quiet. Or even if a person rationally assesses the supposed interaction with God or not. If someone wants to claim knowledge, that is up to them. All I am doing is illustrating the nature of such an interaction if it is to be recognised as God.
    As said earlier, there has to be an interaction that is different to the objective workings, and there also has to be a recognition of that interaction for what it is.

    The matter of "well, prove it" is an entirely different question - due to your "other minds" issue and others. But it does not invalidate the logic of the overriding need for the interaction between God and person to be differentiable from the normal / objective workings of the universe.
    It is then up to that person to decide for themself whether they are being rational or not in arriving at the conclusion of "God"... but again, another matter entirely.

    I have no objection to the notion that I can not know what another person experiences. But I do not see its relevance to this thread. Another thread, perhaps?

    Then how would you be able to distinguish God's use of this natural phenomenon from... let's say... the same phenomenon occurring naturally (i.e. without God)?

    It's like saying that tossing a coin Heads ten times in a row is an unusual natural phenomenon... and thus must be a sign from God.
    Or winning the lottery is.

    If the interaction is a natural phenomenon, no matter how unusual or unlikely, it is still indistinguishable.

    Imagine the universe is a game of chess... the universe plays all the moves by itself.
    Every piece is played according to the rules.
    After the game you're asked to identify which move was made by God?
    How can you know? Answer: you can't.
    But if one move was made not according to the rules, then it is possibly identifiable. (Whether we do recognise it and then interpret it correctly is another matter).

    However, and as is the case of humanity at present... what happens if you do not know all the rules? You might have a reasonable idea what those rules are, but you haven't got them down to the objective level - or at least you don't know if you have or not.
    So - how do you identify which move was made by God?

    You identify a move which doesn't fit your understanding of the rules that you currently have. Was this God? It might be. But can you know it is God?

    So, 2 questions:
    1. If you did understand all the rules, objectively, what would it take to identify a move made by God?
    2. If you didn't yet understand all the rules and you identified the same thing as above... could you still say you "know" it was a move by God?

    If you want to discuss whether everyone has faith, and what type of faith that might be, that's for another thread.
  14. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    I realize this. I also acknowledge what they say matter little to you who has not had the experience.

    This does not mean it is breaking natural laws. This experience would be a natural one, one that is possible in this universe.
    You cannot know this. Why does God have to be unnatural?

    But why must it be so? You state it. But I do not see the support.

    The other minds issue is that you are sure you can eliminate all possible experience from being compelling in this way. I cannot see justification for it. I find it a decent rule not to assume I understand the rational consequences/conclusions are of experiences I have not had.

    Because your judgment is that it cannot be compelling, whatever this experience is. You make up a rule that this experience can only be compelling if it breaks objective laws of the universe but this criterion seems only axiomatic.

    1) we are all faced with that problem, especially as technology improves, but not restricted to it. Replace God with consciousness in animals and you have in the 20th century a historical transition point where science accepted animals having consciousness. Before that the scientist could and did say 'couldn't the same phenomenon occur with the animals as complex machines. In fact this latter was the ruling assumption for a long time. So one response is that a non-theist must do a pretty careful inventory to see if they hold their own interpretations to the same standard.2) I addressed this in relation to our ability to differentiate between hallucination, dream, etc. and waking reality. How do you know this online conversation we are having is not just part of a dream? When you wake up and look back you will realize it was sketchy and disoroganized but now you are not aware of this.

    So the God communicating has qualities that the experiencer notes differ from all other possiblities. It is this natural phenomenon and not one of those.

    Of course some people may be in error and poor at judging between these states.

    But a wide range of beliefs are subject to that problem. Only radical skeptics avoid this - not really, but that is complex and other issue.

    This seems pretty straw man, and to me shows the problem of your position. You think you know what this experience must be like and thus can dismiss it. I still think this is hubris.

    From other natural phenomena? Then we are all in trouble. Dreams are a natural phenomena. Therefore I cannot distinguish them from other natural phenomena. Talking to Peter is a natural phenomena so I cannot tell the difference between that and gazing into a horse's eyes and sensing the presence of that horse's consciousness. If you want to say we have clear 'features' that distinguish these, it seems implicit that you know there are not clear features in the religious person's experience. How would you know this?

    Perhaps your experience is really rather limited so when you imagine the kind of religious experiences that are possible, you imagine using experiences that you understand and reassure yourself that these could not and should not convince me.

    The blind person convincing himself that another person standing near an airstrip while an airplane is landing cannot tell from which direction they are being approached by a third person.

    I get your position better here. Your position is God can only be recognized as the rule breaker. I see no reason to assume this.

    It's a relevent issue. To speak of not possibly being able to know God implicitly separates out this experience from others. We can know things, but this one we cannot. If the criteria are not held for other kinds of knowing then the issue should be generalized. To keep it specific would be strange.

    I think deduction is a poor tool when dealing with things of this nature, especially when making blanket claims about what is not possible. It is either a particle or a wave, so therefore these test results must be false. Light travels at C so therefore checking the spin of this particle cannot affect that particle over there instantaneously. Elephants can only communicate via their voices and body language, so therefore they cannot be communicating over a mile. I think this kind of deducing from what we know may be useful if one must act and choose now to do something, but fairly useless when making blanket claims about what is not possible.

    But I will give it a rest here, at least for a while. I have a sense we are starting to go in circles. You see your deduction as obvious and necessary. I do not.
    Last edited: May 2, 2009
  15. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I take it you don't feel confident to embark on issues of "qualitative" and quantitative" that deconstruct the basis of your claim.

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  16. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Mahaprabhu influenced many of his peers during his era, so there are a variety of sources - basically his only written contribution are those eight verses, but they have been discussed/unpacked in a philosophical narrative (CC by krishna das kaviraj) in a pastime narrative (CB by vrindavan das thakur) and a host of philosophical treatises by others (most notably rupa and sanatana gosvami)

    If you're aware of the ten offenses, it pays to be mindful of number 9 here!

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    welcome to the party!
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    Then there is no point to discuss matters of God, and we can just go to spending our lives wondering about which taste of ketchup is the best.

    It leads to a dead-end. Anyone interested in inquiry will not satisfy himself with sticking to dead-ends.

    Agnosticism concerns issues of knowledge in general.

    To quote you:

    The things is: It seems that you expect that if we are to know God's dictate, we are to know it at first try. That if we are to 'get it' at all, we have to 'get it right' the first time around. Hence your questions about the specifics of that dictate.

    Why not allow for the possibility that knowledge of God might change and improve with effort and time, and that this depends also on our particular development?
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I am painfully aware of this.

    However, I am actually here to discuss my own questions - because 'elsewhere' it seems more or less impossible to do so.

    This is not to say that I am free from the desire to make others 'see the light', though.

    Not sure whether I should smile or cry.

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  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Wise acre, I hope you don't mind but I'm whittling the posts down to what I see as the core points. Feel free to tell me not to

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    I fully accept that I can not know what the experience must be like, but you can logically determine what the interaction must entail in order to be distinguishable from a possible, albeit uncommon, natural experience.

    Strawman - one is able to distinguish between different types of natural phenomena, of course - but they are all still natural - i.e. according to the laws of the universe.
    For example - let us say God interacts using phenomenon X which is an entirely natural phenomenon (i.e. not breaking the laws of the universe).
    Bob comes across phenomenon X.
    Is it God?
    If you think so - how do you know?

    There must be a clear distinguishing feature that marks the experience as God - the way we can distinguish one phenomenon from another.
    So the question is what is it such that we can know God?
    If it is not unique then it is not sufficient for us to know God through it.
    So it must be unique to God's interaction with us - and thus MUST be outside the objective workings of the universe.
    Simple logic.

    Then how would you identify God's movement of a chess piece to another?

    Simply put it MUST be via something that God can do that noone else can - i.e. a breaking of the laws by which we would otherwise run our lives (i.e. the objective laws of the universe).

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