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Proofs that God is imaginary

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by eastsidebagel, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. Ecofarm

    Ecofarm Chieftain

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    It doesn't say instantaneously.
     
  2. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Indeed. Also, although there are those who take the word of God literally, there's the traditional view that Jesus was fully mortal, i.e. subject to failings and mortal.
     
  3. Marla_Singer

    Marla_Singer United in diversity

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    Well, God is of course imaginary, and actually God believers generally assume this.

    The belief in God is based on faith. And faith is defined as the strong belief God is real even if He shows no sign to us. This means that God is necessarily pictured in the believer's mind despite no sign he's real. That's exactly th definition of imaginary.

    Now of course, that word is badly connotated in people's mind because something which is "imaginary" is generally assumed as wrong. But something which is imaginary is only mentally pictured, it is not necessarily untrue.
     
  4. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    Faith and science are incompatible - one requires that you be willing to accept things 'because they're true' and the other demands that you reject them all. That means that I don't think that it is easy to say that God doesn't exist by reason; it's like trying to win a bike race on foot.

    God in the minds of many people is a metaphor, like luck, so that's allowed, I suppose; in that: I think that the world has a cause, let's call that God.
     
  5. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Well, the name "Lucifer" is tied to the primarily Christian perception of Satan as a "fallen angel", so I don't believe that it draws directly on an Old Testament source. IIRC, the name is typically seen as his original, angelic name, before his fall from heaven, and is used in contrast with his demonic name, Satan.
    According to Wikipedia the Old Testament does mention the "morning star", Venus, which was also known as "Lucifer" to the Romans, falling from heaven, but the reference does not appear to refer to Satan- Isiah 14:12, describing the fall of the King of Babylon- unless you start out with the assumption that the Morning Star refers to him.
    If nothing else, there was an early Christian saint and bishop named St. Lucifer, so that implies that the association between the name and Satan was a later one.
     
  6. Millman

    Millman Mark the Magnificent

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    This very thread on the doubts about his existence and the people who don't belive he exists. If he wanted to truly be believed by everyone there would be no way to doubt him via internet forums, athiests, forgetfullness, ect.,.
     
  7. Ecofarm

    Ecofarm Chieftain

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    How does "forgetfullness" work there? Is it like, "oh yea! I forgot! I talked to him last week."

    Exactly what does one forget, thus causing god to be doubted?
     
  8. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    The argument the the religious sorts give to that is that God wanted to give us a choice (while at the same time ordering us not to eat a banana [apples weren't around then] and damning us all for it ;))
     
  9. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I'm not going to wade through all of this, having unwisely broken my usual rule and stumbled into it, except to say that the thread title and OP have got nothing to do with each other. The OP is devoted to pointing out inconsistencies or absurdities in the Bible. That doesn't prove that God is imaginary; at best it proves that God didn't write the Bible. I wonder why people have such difficulty distinguishing between issues of this kind.

    This is absolute nonsense, except on some very narrow and arbitrary definition of "faith" (and indeed of "science"). I've noticed that if there's one thing that people are more dogmatic about than religious claims, it's claims about the nature of religion itself, and this is a prime example. I'm not sure why so many lay people have such a narrow understanding of what the word "faith" - which has had a huge variety of meanings over the centuries - can mean, although I suspect it's something to do with Kierkegaard.

    [EDIT] Another point:

    Both parts of this are flawed. Logic has got nothing to do with facts. It is entirely concerned with the relationships between propositions, and in particular, which propositions are consistent with each other. Validity of arguments, for example, is entirely based upon consistency. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what propositions are actually true.

    And of course a claim that is based upon some A may be disproven by some B which was not part of A. You might have some crazy proof that this chair does not exist, based upon the fact that it disappears when you close your eyes, but I can disprove this (or at least call it into serious question) by picking it up and smacking you in the back of the head with it.
     
  10. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    I thought that faith by definition had no or negative evidence?
     
  11. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    I'm sure the amount of face palming you would need to do to get through this would cause you serious brain damage :(
     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    What can you say to biblical literalists who insist that God did write the bible in an attempt to get them to act less dogmatic?
     
  13. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    I am pleased to see that the statement that God, and religion, is not based on logic is still undisputed. Not only that, but it seems to me cold, hard fact and, seeing as Logic has got nothing to do with facts it follows that God nor religion can be disproved by logic. Indeed, since God nor religion have got nothing to do with facts nor logic, they can neither be proved or disproved period.

    (Just as an afterthought: I'm curious as to how Kierkegaard fits into all of this - doctrinary or otherwise-, as I've never read a syllable of what he has written.)
     
  14. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    "By definition"? By whose definition? The Cambridge Platonists would disagree with you:

    Let me remind you that the Catholic Church holds it as an article of faith that God's existence can be proven rationally. But the Catholic Church also holds that one should have faith in God. So the Catholic Church certainly does not hold that faith requires going against the evidence!

    The notion that faith means believing something in the absence of evidence is called "fideism". From a Catholic point of view, it is a heresy. Probably the most influential fideist, as I suggested in my previous post, was Kierkegaard, and somehow or other his understanding of what faith is has become so popular that most people appear unaware that any other exists - even many Catholics, who are supposed to hold this view to be false.

    The reason why fideism is such a shallow approach to the nature of faith is that it looks at only one dimension, namely the cognitive. The cognitive aspect of faith is what we might call "belief" in the philosophical sense, namely something that you hold to be true. Eg I believe that I'm sitting on a chair, I believe that the sky is blue, I believe that Napoleon was exiled to St Helena. Cognitive beliefs may have various kinds of properties. They may be true or false. They may be supported by the evidence or not supported by it. Now many people today think that faith is a matter of holding cognitive beliefs. Let's call this "cognitivism". And let's pass over, for the moment, why cognitivism is so widespread today; personally I think it's something to do with assuming that religion functions rather like (a bad version of) science, but that's another matter.

    So cognitivists assume that religious faith is a matter of holding cognitive beliefs. What, then, could distinguish beliefs which are the domain of faith from other beliefs? Their truth/falsity? That cannot be right: it's possible to hold a false belief without doing so out of faith. When people held the corpuscular theory of gravity, for example, they were wrong, but it wasn't a matter of faith. So cognitivists typically identify another feature of beliefs - whether or not they are supported by the evidence. A religious belief, on this view, is distinguished from other beliefs not on the basis of its truth or falsity but on the basis of whether or not it is supported by the evidence. So if you believe something to be true, but you don't have any evidence for this belief, then you are believing it on faith. And voila - cognitivism generates fideism.

    There are a number of problems with this, naturally. One is that the chain of reasoning I suggest above is that it assumes evidentialism (which is the claim that a belief cannot be held rationally if it is not supported by evidence). The more fundamental problem, of course, is that it all depends upon cognitivism, which is false. Religious "faith" does involve cognitive belief, yes, but it involves far more than just that. It is about existential attitude.

    This is why religious and non-religious people so often talk at cross-purposes. For example, consider a conversation such as this:

    A: There is no evidence for God's existence. So I don't believe God exists.
    B: You just have to have faith.
    A: So you're saying I should believe in God even though there is no evidence for him.

    When B speaks, he is using "faith" to refer to more than simple cognitive belief. He is saying that the correct attitude to take to God is not simply intellectual assent to the proposition "God exists", but an existential reliance upon God. It is, to use horrible theological jargon, a claim about praxis as well as dogma. A doesn't appreciate this, and thinks that B is making a statement merely about the conditions under which one should assent to the proposition "God exists". But of course, neither A nor B takes the time to define what they mean by words such as "faith" or "believe", and so each one considers the other to be an idiot.

    I probably wouldn't think it worth taking the time to have that conversation. But if I did, I would ask them to think, very carefully, about why they believe that - about how they first came to believe it, and under what circumstances. That seems to me a more fruitful starting point than bickering about proof texts, which is what this sort of thing invariably comes down to, and which never convinces anyone of anything.

    That doesn't follow. You might not be able to prove anything about God or religion by using logic alone - but then you can't prove or disprove much using logic alone. Logic is the study of form. It becomes meaningful, and useful, when you plug content into that form. Set logic to work upon premises which are known or agreed to be true, and you certainly can draw strong and meaningful conclusions about reality, including both God and religion.
     
  15. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    The Church seems to have made a pretty Epic Fail of proving religion by reason: first Aquinas' rubbish proofs, then persecuting Galileo whom they later pardoned, and finally censoring every new bit of thought that came about until the sixties.
     
  16. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    wat tenchar
     
  17. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    wat seconded, I must have missed the bit where the Church censored the Industrial Revolution, for one
     
  18. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    The Index of banned books - blocked Galileo, De Bauvoir and loads of other people who tried to talk sense.
     
  19. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    I have faith that God is imaginary. :smug:
     
  20. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    That would be a good point, except that (a) it's irrelevant to the point I was making (which was about the definition of faith and its relation to reason and evidence, not the success of various attempts to reason out faith), and (b) it's absolute rubbish.

    First, Aquinas' "proofs" are not necessarily intended to be proofs of theism at all. There is actually quite a lively controversy in contemporary Aquinas scholarship on this question; if you're genuinely interested in this question I suggest you look it up. Besides which, Aquinas' proofs are hardly the only supposed "proofs" of God's existence that there have been; and moreover, the endeavour to use reason in the service of faith is not limited to proofs of the existence of God anyway.

    Second, the Galileo controversy had absolutely nothing to do with reason, faith, or anything connected to it, which suggests to me that the only reason you cite it is that it's been a tired, hackneyed example of the supposed "battle between science and religion" ever since certain anti-religious historians of the nineteenth century re-invented the controversies of past centuries in the light of the then-current debate over Darwinism. Unfortunately for Internet pundits, real scholarship has moved on somewhat since the late nineteenth century; unfortunately for anyone who has actually bothered to learn anything about this subject, popular opinion has yet to catch on. To put it briefly, the Galileo affair revolved (ha) around the nature of scientific models and the nature of scientific proof. Moreover, it was not a debate between religious people on the one hand and scientific people on the other, but both were on both sides. And moreover, the particular position that Galileo was condemned for (his insistence that (a) scientific models accurately describe the universe and are not merely predictive models, and (b) that he could definitively prove heliocentrism) did, actually, turn out to be false. So that's really not a very useful illustration for whatever it was you were trying to claim.

    David Lindberg has written some very important work on this subject. [EDIT] I've quoted some of it here if you want a very authoritative potted summary of the affair and the issues that were really involved.

    I won't bother addressing the third point because it's just trolling. If you meant it seriously, I suggest you begin by finding out a little bit about what Jesuit scientists did in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

    If you want to debate seriously, I'd suggest you spell out what you're trying to argue more clearly and more explicitly. Vague assertions and lists of poorly understood Internet tropes won't convince anyone and are, at best, borderline trolling.
     

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