God is defined, not described.

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Ted Grant II, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    More to the point, it can be independently and repeatably verified, measured, and quantified by any third party who cares to test it, including skeptics. That's what makes it objective; it doesn't depend on the observer's viewpoint to get consistent results.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Also, I answer that exact question at some length just a little way up the thread, here:


    Is your memory failing you again, Jan? Why do you continually want to cover old ground? And why do you simply ignore answers and detailed explanations that are given to you? Read what I wrote about gravity earlier. You can ask follow-up questions if you require further clarification.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    I can't know that anybody makes an observation unless they can tell me how they make the observation. They could just be imagining it, or assuming it, if there's no way to confirm the observation.

    I already did, didn't I? It's right there in the paragraph you quoted before you wrote this.

    Oh, I see. God says "I am". Therefore, God must exist. And we know that God said this because it's written in the scriptures. And we know the scriptures are the word of God because they say they are. And we just know (somehow!) that what they say is true.

    I think one problem is that at this point in the conversation you have backed so far away from the usual conception of God that we're almost no longer talking about God any more - not in any ordinary sense.

    As things stand, you now seem to be saying that "existence" itself is God. Therefore, the fact that my coffee mug (or anything else) exists proves God.

    But this God is not the God who is supposed to care about human beings, answering prayers, performing miracles and so on. My coffee mug's existence does none of those things.

    By making your God more and more ineffable, you are also gradually making your God irrelevant.

    We could have an abstract philosophical debate about whether my coffee mug exists. But for the purposes of the current discussion, I'm happy to adopt the common-sense, everyday position that I know it exists. I don't think the average person on the street would be very inclined to spend time and energy trying to refute that.

    You would have it that, because my coffee mug exists, and because God is existence, then God is evidenced by my coffee mug. But, like I said, that kind of God doesn't do anything. Nothing is gained by calling it "God" rather than just sticking with the mundane word "existence".

    What you hope to gain, I think, is that you hope you can surreptitiously carry along some of the supernatural notions that usually come with the concept of "God". You want to sneak normal religion in by the back door.

    Coming back to what you do and don't know about the regular God (as opposed to this God-is-existence thing you're trying to set up here), you have been utterly unable to shed any light on how you could possibly know for sure that God exists. I have already covered all the possibilities (I think), and none of them have survived critical examination. What you're left with is simply a claim - an assumption - you can't support.

    I have addressed that statement at some length, previously.

    Objective knowledge is what people can agree on, in spite of their different perspectives. Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

    Theism and atheism are entirely matters of personal belief. There is no theism independent of people. There is no atheism independent of people. These things are also logically independent of the objective matter of whether God exists, as I have explained at length.
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Once again, you've fallen back into your confusion between subjective and objective existence. Until you overcome that, no progress will be possible.

    You failed Logic 101 again.

    My state of knowledge about a thing has no impact at all on whether something exists. My knowledge is epistemology; the thing's existence or non-existence is ontology. I explained this to you at some length previously. Why are you still stuck in your conflation of these things?

    Here are the possibilities:
    1. I don't know if God exists, and God exists; OR
    2. I don't know if God exists, and God doesn't exist.

    Your statement reads as if only option (2) is available, but option (1) is a logical possibility that you can't (honestly) ignore.

    If my state of knowledge were to improve in the future, then we'd have two new options:
    3. I know that God exists, and God exists; OR
    4. I know that God does not exist, and God does not exist.

    It is very important, given your difficulties, that you appreciate that I can't wish God into existence, and neither can you. Also, knowing something is not the same as merely thinking or believing that you know something. Knowledge requires more than mere belief.

    If you're suggesting that there's no good evidence for God, and that's why (some) atheists don't believe, then I agree with you.

    If, on the other hand, you're trying to argue some kind of essentialism in which people are destined to be atheists or theists because of some intrinsic ability or lack of ability to perceive or "accept" God, then I say you have utterly failed to demonstrate any such thing.

    God would have to exist, and atheists would have to know that God exists, in order for them to reject or deny him.

    God would have to exist, and atheists would have to know that God exists, in order for atheists not to accept (i.e. to reject) him.

    Sorry, but you can't define your God into existence by using a different word, no matter how hard you try. Existence is very much an issue you need to grapple with. Why not face it head on, rather than pretending to ignore it?

    Believing can't make God real. Reality is independent of what people believe.

    If I have used both terms, it is most likely in an effort to clear up your confusion between subjective and objective reality. You're still making statements like "God does not exist for atheists". You insist on those weasel words "for atheists", as if the objective existence of God depends on what people believe.

    If I've asked whether "God actually exists", I'm emphasising that what I'm interested in is not whether God exists for you (subjective existence), but whether God exists objectively. You know, God existing in the real world, and not just in your head. Understand yet?

    Until you can sort out the distinction between the objective (real) world and the subjective world in your head, you'll be forever stuck in this rut of relativism you've made for yourself, and you'll never understand what atheism really means.

    God might exist. Unless I were to see some evidence of God, I couldn't know it, though. God's existence or non-existence doesn't depend on what I believe. But what I know certainly depends on what information and evidence I have access to.

    I know. For you, it's an a priori assumption. When pressed to make an argument, you always have that assumption as a tacit premise, so that you inevitably end up begging the question.

    What other way is there for something to exist? One way for God, and one way for everything else? You're making a very vague special pleading for God, that's all.

    I've never seen you rise to the challenge of trying to show that God exists.

    I also understand that you're not really interested in whether your God is real. Your theism is not about that. It is about "faith" - belief in the absence of evidence.

    I understand that you gain comfort from the thought that God exists, and I also understand your reluctance to really consider the matter. Religions all take God's existence for granted, and they prefer their followers not to worry their pretty little heads about the foundations of the religion.

    You're telling me that there will never by any objective evidence for God, then?

    No. God's existence or non-existence is independent of what anybody believes. Ontology vs. epistemology.

    I said you have made no meaningful distinction, and I have explained why in detail, previously.

    As a practical matter, yes, it is fine to live your life as if the thing does not exist. After all, it can have no impact on your life. If it did, there would be evidence of such an impact.

    This is not quite the same thing as making an a priori assumption that the thing does not exist, though. The possibility remains that the thing could have some effect at some future time.

    I can try. It may require a somewhat lengthy Socratic dialogue. Do you want to start a separate thread on that?

    For starters, here are a couple of questions for you:

    1. Consider the strings "*", "**" and "***". In what ways are these different?
    2. Consider also the strings "aaa", "bbb" and "ccc". In what ways are these the same?

    First and foremost, it's your a priori assumption. You have said as much yourself. But now and then you try to invent deductive arguments that proceed from that assumption to the same conclusion - i.e. arguments that beg the question. In those arguments, "God Is" is both your premise and your conclusion.

    Yes. An assumption you make that you think requires no justification.

    It could be, for some. But it's not an assumption that atheists typically make. It's not the most common starting point for atheism.

    Listen to yourself!

    Suppose we want to discuss whether or not bananas exist. We don't have to start from "Bananas Are" or "Bananas do not exist", and typically thinking people do not start at either of those places. Instead, they start by asking questions like "Could bananas exist?" and "Do bananas exist?"

    Why is asking whether God exists off limits for you?

    No. I'd like both parties to start with open minds. I'd like them not to start with the conclusion, but with the question.

    What do you think about this:

    1. If an argument is a logical syllogism then logic exists.
    2. This argument is a logical syllogism.
    3. Therefore logic exists.

    A premise is a statement that is assumed to be true from the start. Your "God Is" is, by your own admission, a premise.

    You are hopelessly confused about the difference between subjective belief and objective existence.

    Why is any belief important? I don't understand what you're trying to get at.

    I take "God does not exist as far as you're aware" to be a statement about a person's knowledge (or rather, lack thereof). It leaves open the question of whether God exists. The former is a matter of epistemology; the latter is a question of ontology.

    I am aware, though, that my common-sense reading of the statement is very different from the meaning you want it to have. Your meaning wants to blur the distinction between subjective belief and objective existence, either because you don't understand the difference, or because it suits you to make a slippery argument in which you can freely flip-flop between two different concepts as needed.

    You didn't answer my question.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  8. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    I have been enjoying reading the dialog here, and I do not mean to interrupt, but I was just wondering something. Since Jan asserts that "God Is," I can't help but wonder which of the possible gods he thinks "Is"? Is it the god of the bible, or some all-purpose generic type of god? Would he also say that "Jesus Is", even though Jewish people do not necessarily believe Jesus was their messiah? If not for the bible or whatever other religious book, how would he even know of these supposed possibilities, or which one to say "Is"? I'm looking at my coffee cup, but it doesn't give me any answers.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    That's not why.

    That someone does not believe in your God tells you very little. You err by making assumptions and projecting unto them, and you lie by pretending you don't do that.

    It's called "bearing false witness".
  10. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    All of 'em. No kidding.
  11. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    All of them??!!?? Geez. How about demons, demigods, etc?
  12. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    No, Jan thinks that all gods are the same god, and all religions differ only in minor details. Jan is kind of a Hindu in this regard.
  13. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    Oh. Well that seems to be more like the "all-purpose generic type of god" that I speculated on in that post (#305).

    I still wonder what this implies for demons though. Would there be a line of thought such as, "Demons Are," and perhaps a new term such as "Ademonsists" could be defined as people for whom demons do not exist "as far as they are aware"? And then perhaps the definition of the term "Demonsists" would apply to people for whom "Demons Are" ??
  14. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Doesn't matter if you know it or not.

    God does NOT exist as far as any single atheist is aware, because the atheist rejects or deny God, evidences, explanations, or testament.
    So my question is; How can God ever exist for the atheist?
    Why ask for evidence knowing that you#re not going to accept it?

    You asked if I was aware of the verb ''to be''.
    Geez! Lighten up dude.

    There is nothing unusual about my concept of God. It only seems that way to you.

    That's not what I'm saying.
    I've already been through this quite a few times.

    How do you know?
    What is your point of reference?

    God cannot be any more irrelevant than ''there is no God'', so your point has precisely zero credibility.

    That's not how I would have it at all.
    The fact that anything exists, presupposes God.
    If ''God Is'', then existence is an attribute.

    Why would I want to do that?
    If I want to introduce religion, I would simply state it.

    What do you mean by ''regular God''?

    I've never said I know for sure God exists,
    I'm not concerned with whether or not God exists.
    That topic is for debate and discussions between theists and atheists.
    This thread refers to definitions and descriptions of God.
    We could make a lot more progress if you assume that God exists for the purpose of the thread.

    Still requires perspectives.

    ''Existence'' is only an issue for atheists, and this is because they reject and deny God.
    ''Theist and atheist'', are merely words that describe ones position regarding God.
    You could easily do away with them, and put new words in their place.

    But the actual positions them self?
    They are the very basis of our world view.

  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Jan, in the spirit of giving the opposing view an honest shake, try this:
    Try your arguments with an entity you do not grant as existing. See how your arguments hold up.

    I mention unicorns or Santa, not with the intent to mock, but with the intent to use an entity that - just for the sake of argument - is not granted to exist.
    But pick something you don;t grant exists, and apply your logic to it.

    A unicorn does NOT exist as far as any non-unicorn-believer is aware, because the non-unicorn-believer rejects or denies unicorn evidences, explanations, or testament.
    So the question is; How can a unicorn ever exist for the non-unicorn-believer?

    Santa Claus does NOT exist as far as any Santa-denier is aware, because the Santa-denier rejects or denies Santa evidences, explanations, or testament.
    So the question is; How can Santa ever exist for the Santa-denier?

    The answer is quite straightforward:

    Since unicorns are not granted as existent, the non-unicorn-believer has drawn the perfectly rational conclusion.
    Since Santa is not granted as existent, the Santa-denier has drawn the perfectly rational conclusion.

    Saying "my life is without unicorns" does not - in any way - imply that unicorns exist.
    Saying "my life is without Santa" does not - in any way - imply that Santa exists.
    Saying "unicorns don't exist 'from my point of view'" is a good thing - since it is, in fact, the correct point of view.
    Saying "Santa doesn't exist 'from my point of view'" is a good thing - since it is, in fact, the correct point of view.

    Try it.

    You see, your argument about God existing only holds water if he were to actually exist. Which means - as everyone has been saying - you are granting your conclusion in your premise.
    Thus, as an argument in favour of God's existence, it fails.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    What we're left with is a claim based on your purely subjective personal testimony. All we know from that is that you think you've "observed" God.

    The question of what is and isn't objectively real does matter, even if it doesn't matter to you.

    You are wrong, for reasons I explained earlier, repeatedly. You'd do better by trying to formulate a coherent response, rather than just repeating your mantra.

    Deciding in advance not to accept it would be prejudging the matter, which I do not do.

    Sure there is. For a start, you can't even bring yourself to commit to the idea that the God you claim to believe in actually exists.

    I find it very difficult to believe that you could worship a God while simultaneously thinking that it doesn't exist. But maybe we're just getting an insight into how your mind works, allowing you as a theist to simultaneously believe contradictory things. We already know your grasp of logic is poor, so maybe you don't even grasp the contradiction.

    How do I know that my coffee cup's existence won't answer prayers? Seriously?

    My point of reference in this regard is basic sanity and common sense. How about you?

    That's just your assumption, because you presuppose God.

    Does your God do anything in the world, other than enabling the existence of things like coffee mugs? I'm curious.

    I mean the God described by theists other than yourself.

    How confident would you say you are that God exists, then, on a scale from 1 to 100%, if you had to put a number on it?

    Why not? Doesn't it concern you at all that your God might not be real?

    What are we having here?

    The issue here is whether God is described (from some kind of "observation") or merely defined.

    I think you have made it clear that your God is merely defined.

    I find it astounding that you have given no consideration to the question of whether the God that you worship actually exists. In fact, I think you're most likely telling lies about that. If not, then you are a person who displays a profound lack of natural curiosity, which I can only surmise must be the result of a kind of mental blindness, the underlying cause of which is no doubt very personal to you.

    Your belief in God no doubt is central to your worldview. For atheists, typically it is not like that.

    Look at it this way: assuming you don't collect stamps, is not collecting stamps something that drives your behaviour or the way you interact in the world?

    I concede that there might well be positive correlations between being an atheist and holding certain other kinds of beliefs, but the atheism, in most cases, is not the basis for those other beliefs. In fact, I think the arrow of causation, to the extent there is any, usually goes the other way.
  17. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    I must have missed something. I asked him at least several times "Which god?" & never got an answer.

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

    To repeat:

    1. In order for somebody to reject something, or to deny something, the existence of the thing must be an established fact.

    For example, climate change deniers reject the evidence for human-induced climate change, and they deny that agreed-upon facts point to the reality of human-induced climate change. Holocaust deniers reject evidence that the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Jewish people, and they deny that there was a policy of extermination, in spite of established facts.

    Logically, the fact that God exists must be established prior to anybody being able to reject or deny God. And this has not been done.

    2. The causation is backwards in Jan's statement. Denial cannot logically come before one examines the evidence; it must come after.

    For example, climate change deniers must be first be aware that there is evidence of human-induced climate change, which they can then deny or reject. You can't deny or reject something if you're not aware that there is something to deny or reject.

    So, if atheists are to reject or deny God, then it is necessary for them first to be aware that there is evidence that God is real.

    A logically correct statement would be "The atheist rejects God because God does not exist, as far as the atheist is aware", rather than Jan's "God does not exist for the atheist because the atheist rejects God."

    Although logically correct, however, the formulation "The atheist rejects God because God does not exist, as far as the atheist is aware" still does not accurately describe atheism, because it falls foul of point 1, above.

    A more correct statement, both logically and in an explanatory sense, is "Atheists do not believe in God, because they are not aware of any good evidence for God." I have no doubt that this statement would be acceptable to many, although not all, atheists.

    Dave's example with Santa Claus substituted for God is instructive.

    People who do not believe in Santa Claus don't reject Santa, or deny Santa. They can't, because Santa's existence is not an established fact. Rather, those people simply do not believe in Santa - they do not believe that Santa exists.

    Moreover, it would be an error to say "Santa does not exist as far as the the non-Santa-believer is aware, because the non-Santa-believer rejects or denies Santa." A more logical statement would go the other way: "The non-Santa-believer rejects Santa because Santa does not exist as far as they are aware." But that would still be wrong. A better statement would be "non-Santa believers do not believe in Santa, because they are not aware of any good evidence for Santa."


    3. I should also add that, of course, belief does not determine objective reality. "God does not exist because atheists deny God" is a nonsense statement, which again has things backwards. If anything, it would be that atheists deny God because God does not exist. The point is, the existence or non-existence of God does not depend on what atheists or theists believe; objective existence is independent of belief. Ontology vs epistemology. This is a point that Jan still has not grasped, even after repeated explanations.

    To compare, nobody (well, nobody who is sane) would say "Santa does not exist because (some) people don't believe in him." And "Santa exists because (some) people believe in him" is equally wrong. Santa either exists or he doesn't, independent of what people think about him. Believing doesn't conjure Santa into existence. Nor does believing in God conjure God into existence.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan thinks that all Gods described by religions are but different manifestations of his one "super" God. Basically, as long as you believe in some kind of all-powerful supernatural Creator, Jan will be able to accommodate your belief in his own belief system. Mind you, if he decides for whatever reason that you don't believe in God in the right way, then you'll be an atheist, as far as he is concerned, no matter what you say about what you actually believe regarding God.
  20. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    But believing in the right way is 1 of the things which distinguish different gods.

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

    The "right way" for Jan seems only to require that God (whichever God, however you want to describe it) is taken for granted. One needs only to assume that God is real, and ask no further questions along those lines. Whatever else you want to believe about your God is fine, as far as I can tell.

    What this means, in practice, is that God can be all things to all people: good or evil, aloof or interfering, loving or indifferent. All that seems to matter is that there is this vaguely-defined supernatural force. Jan's God doesn't seem to do anything in the world - or, rather, God does everything. God, for Jan, is the enabler, and little more, as far as I can tell.
  22. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member


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

    Jan's theism looks like deism to me right now. But I don't think he's actually a deist. This is just how he presents, because he sees deism as the smallest possible target.

    I should also say that there's not a lot to object about with deism. The only problem is that it seems to be introducing a hypothesis for what there is no unequivocal evidence.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017

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