If God is real, how would you know?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Jan Ardena, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    (continued...)

    You should read Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker, which addresses your misconception at book length. (But you won't.)

    You are correct when you're talking about the kinds of watches we are familiar with. Those watches can't reproduce themselves. They are not subject to natural variation. There is no process by which they undergo natural selection (although, interestingly, there is an "artificial selection" mechanism at play in the "evolution" of watches, which you could potentially learn something from if you were willing to think about it at all, which of course you aren't).

    It doesn't matter. We have no direct "experience" of atoms, but they are fundamental to physics and chemistry. We have no direct "experience" of plate tectonics, but it is fundamental in the earth sciences. We have no direct experience of DNA, but it is fundamental in our understanding of genetics. We have no direct experience of time periods longer than a hundred or so years, but we can still study history.

    Are you about to come out as not only a Creationist, but a Young Earth Creationist, too?

    There you go again, making unwarranted assumptions. You'll never make any intellectual progress unless you can stop doing that.

    I know you don't like it. You like to think that your personal religion is a sort of broad tent that houses all the rest of the world's religions, even though they would tend to deny it. To even start to make your idea plausible, you have to turn your God into a sort of featureless nothing, which basically has no function other than to start the cosmic ball rolling. Yours is a small-target God - I suspect you deliberately construct it that way.

    Most religious people believe in a bigger God than you do: a God who acts in the world, a God who is a person with goals and plans, a God who often cares about the morality of human beings, a God who responds to prayer, a God who requires worship. Your God, as you describe it, is a cipher. It's a barely fleshed-out concept. I'm not about to go along with your pretense that all the theists who are able to describe their gods in detail are really worshipping your God without knowing it.

    You're not better than other theists, Jan. You don't have a perspective that is any wider than theirs. If anything, your belief system is much more limited than the belief systems of the major religions. You don't really allow your God to do much of anything.

    I have asked you, time and again over the years, how it is that you gain this knowledge you claim to have. The answer you give always boils down to avoidance or inexplicable magic (even if you don't like having it expressed that way). It is a pity that you never think to ask yourself how it is that you know all about your God. If you did, you might gain some insight.

    I guess we can discuss that after you have established that "some type of agency" brought "everything" into existence.

    Transcendental (a.): existing outside of or not in accordance with nature.

    You're saying your God is supernatural. Your God is the supernatural cause of everything. The problem is: nothing has ever been shown to have a supernatural cause. Is this the one exception to the rule, then?

    Is your God everlasting? Or did he somehow manage to bring himself in?

    Yes! They rely on their faith. That is, like you, they pretend to know stuff they don't know, to aid their belief.

    They have not managed to show any so far.

    No. I'm quite happy to run with your definition of God as the "transcendental cause of everything", when conversing with you. It would be a bit obtuse of me to start a thread asking for definitions of God if I didn't think it was possible to define the word.

    Exactly. Makes sense to settle on a definition and stick to it, then, doesn't it?

    It doesn't have to be that. That just happens to be your preferred definition, for now.

    See the "Definition of God" thread for other definitions. You might like to have some discussions with your fellow theists about what is the most appropriate definition. You might even convince some of them that yours is a good one.

    Strange thing to say. For example:

    God (n.) The object of worship in monotheistic religions.

    How's that? I'd say it's accurate, though not particularly helpful in suggesting a research programme to find out if God is real. I guess we can start by asking the religionists why they believe it's real...

    Please set out your Occam's razor argument. Show me your logic.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Logically? If there's a concept A, then it seems to me that there's nothing illogical about the concept of not-A. In logic, not-A would be the negation of A. It's one of the most basic concepts in logic, as I understand it. So, what are you talking about?

    It is quite telling that, instead of attempting to answer my question - one I have asked you many times before with similar results - you just re-assert your belief.

    One day, maybe you'll be honest enough to attempt to answer the question, perhaps. The first step is to start being honest with yourself, then you can work on extending that to your interactions with other people.

    Another example of a thing that is somehow supposed to stand apart from "everything". Is faith transcendental, too?

    Your example describes a different meaning of the word "faith". Your faith in God is belief without evidence. Faith that the son in the example will do well is a form of trust in a brilliant student's ability to apply himself in an exam situation - an evidence-based kind of "faith", in other words. Presumably, the son has a past history of doing well academically (or else he wouldn't be referred to as a "brilliant student"). The expectation would be that he will do so again unless something goes wrong. For a parent, there would also likely be the emotion of hope that nothing goes wrong for him, which is not a form of faith, unless it involves another kind of evidence-based trust in the institution and/or people administering the exam. A parent would also wish him well, wanting him to receive a just reward for the hard work they know he put in; again, no faith is involved, just a desire.

    Superstition. Very much related to god (or God) worship. Mistaking hope for trust in supernatural help is superstitious. In the context, relying on a lucky rabbit's foot is no different from relying on a god to bring good fortune.
     
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Tiassa:

    I get the impression that you don't actually read enough of the threads involving Jan to be in a position to make a good judgment on what is going on in them.

    Jan is no cause for panic. A crisis is typically short-lived and then over. I just checked out of interest and, believe it or not, Jan signed up here in 2001.

    Jan is not a particularly unusual religionist. His brand of unwarranted self-confidence, dogmatic repetition and refusal to deal with uncomfortable facts is seen all over the internet. He is more articulate than a lot of fundamentalists, but when he gets out of his depth he tends to parrot the arguments made by a handful of the more prominent creationists. Jan's unwillingness to think certain matters through, or even to face them square on, is fairly typical of the kind of internet warrior theists who like to pick arguments with atheists. His misconceptions are predictable given the sources he relies on for his limited understanding of scientific issues, in particular. His tendency to engage in magical thinking is typical of theists who reject rationality because they are scared of the threat it poses to their comforting faith-based beliefs.

    Jan is useful as a reality check in a forum where there are a lot of atheists. There's a practically infinite supply of my-way-or-the-highway religionists out in the world who are just like Jan. They stumble around in an intellectual fog most of the time, rarely stepping outside the communities in which they interact almost exclusively with co-religionists who validate and promote their worldviews. There's a feedback loop built into those communities that protects against curiosity and questioning of the religion by means of regular (often ritual) innoculation with dogma. Atheists need to know what these people think and how they think, because atheist lives tend to be affected by the power that these people exert en masse on governments and institutions.

    You ought to pay attention to who's who, maybe. Atheists in general aren't faring poorly in discussions with Jan. A lot of them (us) are running intellectual rings around Jan, who - let's face it - spends a lot of his time hiding from most of his beliefs and a lot of the rest of the time repeating a few mantras that he likes to preach as often as possible. There are certainly a couple of atheists here who too often let themselves get sucked in by Jan's bait and switch tactics; they can end up flustered when they play to Jan's script. The better approach is to focus on those aspects of discussions that Jan desperately wants to avoid. It takes a little effort. You need to pay attention to what Jan ignores in replies, especially when he acts like entire posts were never posted. But holding him to account exposes his games.

    Besides, you ought to bear in mind that nobody is expecting to convert Jan to atheism. If he eventually wakes up, it will be because something relevant to him changes in his life. But there are other people who will read through the discussions with an open mind.

    That's your answer, I suppose. You're on the money about it being Jan's answer, too. I asked him directly. He can't say how he knows his God is real. He "just knows". Which means, of course, that he wouldn't know.

    As for me, I gave my answer early in the thread.
     
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    It's bulldust! Time is the avenger.
     
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    I for one am actually getting sick of "debating" this with Jan, because essentially, as mentioned somewhere by another, his attitude is "Its my way or the Highway"
    My position on belief in god is as I've stated many times. I see the wonders in the universe, time and space, abiogenesis, and the evolution of life, as reasonably and in some cases, superbly described and evidenced by science. And before anyone jumps down my neck re abiogenesis, yes I do understand we don't know the exact methodology, but by the same token, when talking about the 13.83 billion years existence of the observable universe, at one time there was no life: Then there was.
    I see science as a far more logical, reasonable explanation for the way things are.
    I see the invoking of God as a comfort, warm feel good reason, rather then accepting the finality of death. Anyone here ever been under anesthetic? I mean one minute you are wide awake, then suddenly a whole period of your life just disappears...like it never existed.That's death.

    I certainly don't accept Jan trying to ram down my throat his own beliefs which despite his convoluted rhetorical excuses, is totally unevidenced.
    I certainly don't accept Jan attempting to rewrite science, disprove scientific facts like Darwinism and the theory of evolution, and I certainly don't accept his general dishonesty in how he acts and conveys whatever the message is he is trying to convey.
    But I do accept what he believes is his business.

    With regards to the thread title, I reckon it would be quite obvious for any god to show me he or her is real, if he was real that is. Jan mentioned somewhere about having an Apple materialise in my hand...I prefer something more dramatic like parting the Pacific Ocean, or some voice booming out of the sky, and probably a million other ways.

    My advice to Jan is try and be more honest. That would help tremendously.
     
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Evidence, evidence, evidence...not some half smart one liner nonsensical attempt at preaching.
     
  10. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    The problem for good folk like kx000 is I suspect that having no evidence and swimming in a sea of myth and fantasy they can only offer one liners which they try to make sound profound, and they probably sound profound to them, but to anyone seeking a rational reply they just come over as daft and you conclude you are working with a nut job.

    You know what would be nice.. someone to be what I would expect to be honest...you know when asked about this or that if they could just say something like ...I don't really know if half the stories in my holy book are true, in fact I have not read much of it at all but I like to think there is a god and that he wants me to be decent but really I don't know if there is a god or not.

    I had a mate who fancied himself as a Guru always sprouting crap that he constructed to make himself seem mystical and wise...but I think one guy at the pub summed him up when his name came up..."that guy is dingbat he wouldn't know if his leg was on fire"...and of course this fool thinks everyone thinks he is wise whereas the reality is they just shut up in the hope he will go annoy someone else.

    Alex
     
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Its importance is that it takes your claim of something from being just an unsubstantiated claim that can be ignored, to a supported claim that needs to be taken more seriously.
    So basically you just make shit up, post it, get called on it, and are unable to support it. Got it! Thanks.
     
  12. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

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    Revelatory experiences are the most overt, though other kinds of personal experiences are common among the deliberately religious.
     
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    1) "If the rules of the game were changed so that Jan and Paddoboy were forced to be out of here ..." — What?

    2) "... those same rules would result in your being out of here as well." — I suppose that depends on the construction of whatever rules you're imagining.

    3) "You being a moderator here makes just as much sense as having Jan as a moderator." — Strangely, I was elected, once upon a time. Meanwhile, the weird thing about reminding that your opinion is an opinion is how your own regard for history° undermines your reliability in making such assessments.

    †​

    Here's an American story, Seattle: It used to be that certain people, within a political empowerment majority, could behave in certain ways, and the people they antagonized and harmed just had to live with it as best they could, provided they were allowed to live through it. During my lifetime, it is true that, as the saying goes, things have changed. And we can see in the last forty years, or so, an emerging traditionalist ethic, which appears to have come to some sort of flowering or fruition, that wants both to inflict harm and be shielded from criticism. In my lifetime, the argument has gone from the unfortunate harms of necessary evils to bawling about how dare those delicate snowflakes hurt someone else's tough-assed feelings by calling it harm. It really is stupid.

    It's also worth noting, such as these threads go, that religion and pretenses of what God wants play on both sides of that historical dualism. While we often complain, in our indictments of religion, about such perversions of Scripture that empower harm, it is also true that aspiring unto the wisdom of divine mercy is not removed from psychohistorical relevance to the idea and prospect of justice; and, often, psychohistorical legitimacy—i.e., historical, epistemological, and ontological contiguity and consistency—bears out this better inclination.

    †​

    Toward that consideration of history, there are reasons to seek such meaning. If the record shows one was guilty, that one confessed, then it is true, right? That is, the record is not a forgery, therefore, one is guilty. What, though, is the behavioral economy of torture? If there is no difference, as some would suggest, between history and its meaning, then the confession would be conclusive, and questions of coercion illegitimate because one can at least argue there is no established connection between the torture and confession.

    Meanwhile, what counts as torture? There was a video, a couple years ago, and it was quite revealing because an unruly white man, in the first place, physically resisted police intervention against the disturbance he was causing, and when he fell while trying to push away, started bawling about brutality. As officers worked to cuff him while he continued to resist, the infuriated white man bawled, "You're treating me like a fucking black person!"°° We might beg leave to doubt the comparison. And we might also find ourselves wondering at the behavioral economy of making excuses the next day.

    †​

    At any rate, the question and answer are as straightforward as I have suggested: "If God is real, how would you know?" You wouldn't.

    From there, I might reiterate my remarks at #117↑, regarding the need of divinity and holiness:

    • This is a problem of the gods humans invent, and the processes by which they do. One way to look at it is that reality simply is, while people need reality to mean something that has to do with them because that need to be needed or significant or affecting, or otherwise not utterly powerless and ignored and insignificant, drives the focus on what "God" has to do with oneself.​

    Human iterations of God reflect human priorities; look at James R's analysis in re definitions of God↗, which chooses to focus on aspects selected for his own priority. To wit, his disdain for a pantheistic or panentheistic definition—

    It's not a very useful definition because it does not separate God from anything else. We can't meaningfully discuss what such a God would want, whether the God is conscious, what the God can do, or whatever, because the boring answers are: everything, yes and no, and whatever all things can do.

    —describes both his own boundaries, and the priorities thereof.

    But here we have an example; while you're familiar with your own outlook↗, I used a Sufi model, in this thread, to illustrate: There is an idea, and then there are accretions; or, there is something, and the rest, those accretions, are what become religion; there is God, and the balance of the rest is religion. The fact, in and of itself, that such accretions exist does not tell us what they do or how they work. If, for instance, frail humanity responds individually and collectively in ways that set ritualistic hooks with affecting superstitious, and thereby neurotic, influence, here we find the earthsick accretions to an otherwise sublimated idea of perfection compared to the frailty we witness, endure, inflict, and fret over.

    By the time we get to chuckling at the phrasing, "whatever all things can do", the inherent frailty of human priority ought to be apparent.

    Thus: "If God is real, how would you know?" You wouldn't, and from there, everything else is whatever people bring to It, which in turn is dynamic, systemic, complex frailty.

    †​

    There is a difference between seeking to understand the meaning of history, to the one, and imposing definitions of necessary convenience, to the other.

    Honestly, if it was the rabbi being told what he believes because that was the only kind of Jew the evangelical Christian advocate could comprehend°°°, yes, we would laugh and roll our eyes, and say, "Of course!" The historical record is what it is; some would describe what it says rather quite differently.

    †​

    Aldous Huxley nearly a century ago, wrote that oppressors in history are "most healthily unaware of their history", which is why much of what history tells is distorted. Historian James Loewen, about twenty-five years ago, addressed some of these distortions in Lies My Teachers Told Me, and ten years later (Jetty) went on to describe an example of the impacts: "What they had learned was being taught by black teachers in all-black schools. But it was white supremacist history because their teachers were just blindly teaching what was in the textbooks." The difference between history and its meaning, as such, is illustraetd in Loewen's statement that, "Seeing the outcome made me aware that history can be a weapon and that it can be used against you, just as it had been against my black students." Inasmuch as we might postulate that the phrase, psychoanalytic meaning of history, is unnecessary for being redundant the prospect of Lone Star Editions of history texts, satisfying superstitious, supremacist alt-history for Texas conservatives, or even Loewen's own lawsuit against Mississippi's refusal to adopt a history textbook he helped write; the case is actually called Loewen v. Turnipseed, and he later explained, "Our book just wasn't racist enough, so the state refused to adopt it." And we might as well recall°°°°, here, that I sometimes↗ tell a story about↗ the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and while the differences 'twixt translations themselves makes certain differences in how we understand or apply what the Bible says, the reasons why, the communal priorities of the historical record—including the ongoing Christianist obsession with virginity—also tell us a great deal.

    Do you get it, yet? If Joyce Carol Oates↱, in considering the prominence of Moby Dick in American literature, notes, "what Lawrence called the 'scrimmage of things' which prose fiction can provide--the fascinating, dense specifics of life", do you understand? If Jane Kamensky (qtd. in Carp↱) answers an inquiry, "I don't think fiction is more true than history, but I don't think the novel is fake," are we really so confused? "I think it is differently true," she continues. "It is like asking whether a poem is more true than a wall." But as her co-author, Jill Lepore, explains, what is "organic to the period" can be "lost to us" if historical and other nonfiction writing, as Carp susses out, "proceeds without many of the qualities readers recognize as essential to experience". Per Lepore, "Humor and art, and passion, and love, and tenderness, and sex", but also, "fear, and terror, and the sublime, and cruelty". It is easy to accept that these less tangible yet influential aspects, as Lepore explained, "looked like a liability", to historians.

    That scrimmage of things, the dense specifics of life organic to the period yet so easily lost to us because it looks to historians like a liability, is part of understanding the why of things. Without it, your assessment of history, i.e., your opinion of what makes sense, is unreliable.
     
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Notes on #270↑ above

    ° ca. August, 2018: "You don't need the phrase 'a psychoanalytic meaning of [history]'," because, "It's too wordy and is implied anyway". See "The one theology book all atheists should read", #24↗, 112↗. We might consider that, historically, at least, it would be inappropriate to use latter-day oppositional political argumentation to define an antiquated English translation of an ancient Syriac rendering of centuries-old Hebrew, especially if the purpose of doing so would be to pretend confusion about the meaning that was clear enough until the oppositional pretense of confusion. And we can see such elements in the historical record. Similarly, it is problematic in some aspects to assess primary sources according to modern oppositional political definitions. If it is hard to explain what might boil down to factional real estate fights in Trier (Inquisition) or Salem (Witch Trials) according to the various behavioral factors of those people in that time, creating the records we have, it would be even harder to do so if we start with a modern oppositional politic pretending to explain the behavior. The record says what the record says. What it means is a different question. Glossing over the difference easily distorts history. To wit, no modern, atheistic cynic insisting on self-satisfying presuppositions and definitions, viewing the Inquisition in such simplistic terms as the discourse does when recounting the sins of religion, can possibly comprehend the behavioral economy of, say, being a Jew hiding in plain sight amid a roomful of Catholic Inquisitors. Nor can the critic whose first purpose is moral condemnation and disqualification of an author from the historical discourse possibly explain the behavioral economy of, say, Rubashov, who in turn is a sympathetic and speculative introspection on Bukharin. And, to be certain there is plenty of reason to be cautious about how we handle Koestler, say, in a classroom, but even that gets woven into the psychoanalytic meaning of, Darkness at Noon, and the history it purports to consider.

    °° Funny joke: He's a Florida man. Funnier joke: His explanation, afterward, was that he carried drugs and started an incident in an airport on purpose. Funnier joke: Florida man who lived through physical altercation with law enforcement after instigating incident in airport happens to be named a Trump supporter named Jeffrey Epstein↱, and apparently, he did it all on purpose, on behalf of black people.

    °°° Yes, really. It was even promoted by the organization, that their evangelical Christian advocate "destroys radical leftist rabbi"↱.

    °°°° See also, ca. 2005↗, and recalled in 2009↗

    @ashleyfeinberg. "This video is incredible". Twitter. 22 April 2020. Twitter.com. 23 April 2020. https://bit.ly/3awTxoB

    @JoyceCarolOates. "absolutely. "Moby Dick" is the greatest of American novels in its vision, execution, language, & what Lawrence called the "scrimmage of things" which prose fiction can provide--the fascinating, dense specifics of life." Twitter. 22 April 2020. Twitter.com. 25 April 2020. https://bit.ly/2yIoyJ6

    Huxley, Aldous. Jesting Pilate. (1926). New York: Paragon, 1991.

    Jetty, Mike. "History Through Red Eyes: A Conversation With James Loewen". Phi Delta Kappan, v. 88, n. 3. November, 2006.

    Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong New York: Touchstone, 1995.

    WESH. "'I did it on purpose': Man arrested after causing disturbance at OIA". 16 August 2018. WESH.com. 23 April 2020. https://bit.ly/2Y1Ej8q
     
  15. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

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    Is there consciousnesses and intelligence in the Universe?
     
  16. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    In some places that ''consciousnesses and intelligence'' gave rise to the idea of gods.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
  17. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    You mean like just floating around in empty space? Living on another planet? Other beings with brains?
     
  18. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

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    If consciousness is a universal constant, what are its limits?
     
  19. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

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    You are proof that the Universe is conscious and intelligent. Are you the highest expression of such?
     
  20. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    Highest expression?? Has Nature a purpose in mind?
    Limits ?? Whatever Nature (via the laws of physics) does with it.
     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, there is consciousness and intelligence in the universe. Odds are that we are not the smartest organisms in the universe, so no, no one here is.
     
  22. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

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    Has God a purpose in mind? I believe the whole point is Life itself. There is no better reason needed.
     
  23. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    Occam's razor. Nature just is. You bowser can believe anything you like.
     

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