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Proofs that God is imaginary

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

  1. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    So what was he doing at the time, when he said 'I can prove that God exists'?

    It's a symbol of what happens when somebody who uses outdated beliefs comes into contact with someone who does experiments and neither will budge an inch.

    Apologies; but you can't deny that they kept a list of books which it was banned to read, many of which are now considered important works of science and philosophy.
     
  2. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Although personally I'm less than interested in what the Catholic church considers heresy (it has a bad track record on what should be considered as such and certainly has no monopoly on faith, by whatever definition), I'd like to hear more about that faithful - yet rational - proof of God's existence.

    I'm glad to hear logic actually does have a relation with reality after all.;)

    It seems to me the point of the matter was more the pseudo-authority the church claimed (and still does) over matters beyond its concern:

    a) religious authorities have no business issuing statements concerning matters of science*
    b) Galileo's observations of the phases of Venus proved that Venus orbited the Sun

    After 1610, when he began supporting heliocentrism publicly, he met with bitter opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and two of the latter eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition early in 1615. Although he was cleared of any offence at that time, *the Catholic Church nevertheless condemned heliocentrism as "false and contrary to Scripture" in February 1616,[8] and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it—which he promised to do. When he later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

    From September 1610, Galileo observed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases similar to that of the Moon. The heliocentric model of the solar system developed by Nicolaus Copernicus predicted that all phases would be visible since the orbit of Venus around the Sun would cause its illuminated hemisphere to face the Earth when it was on the opposite side of the Sun and to face away from the Earth when it was on the Earth-side of the Sun. In contrast, the geocentric model of Ptolemy predicted that only crescent and new phases would be seen, since Venus was thought to remain between the Sun and Earth during its orbit around the Earth. Galileo's observations of the phases of Venus proved that it orbited the Sun and lent support to (but did not prove) the heliocentric model. However, since it refuted the Ptolemaic pure geocentric planetary model, it seems it was the crucial observation that caused the 17th century majority conversion of the scientific community to geoheliocentric and geocentric models such as the Tychonic and Capellan models, and was thereby arguably Galileo’s historically most important astronomical observation.


    Now, it's obvious there is some progress in such matters, but a papal statement such as that people in Africa should not use condoms (both a private, personal and a medical matter) is tantamount to being immoral in the light of the dangers of viral diseases.
     
  3. Bobbtjoe

    Bobbtjoe Emperor

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    I did not read the whole thread, so I do not know if this was posted already.

    For #1, If you pray for something, such as end to cancer, he doesn't give it to you. He gives you the oppurtunity to solve it.

    For #2, I'm to lazy to look those up.

    For #3, God gives man free will to do as they please. The flood killed off all the sinners of Earth. It didn't have to reach the top of Mt. Everest to do so. I do not know wheather or not God knows the future, but even if he did he would not change it. We barely scratched the surface of learning DNA.

    And to challenge evolution? How did the Atom get there the exploded out of nothing? How do bodies just change to adapt?
     
  4. Zack

    Zack 99% hot gas

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    Saying that you have proven that God is imaginary is like saying that you have proven that the Big Bang theory is correct. You can't do either.
     
  5. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    The BB and the origin of matter (atoms and such) have nothing to do with evolution. And evolution won't be noticed by looking at a single organism's body, expecting it to change/adapt. It is a process that occurs over a very long time over lots of generations. I recommend trying to understand evolution before you try to challenge it. But I guess that's what I should of expected when you said:

     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Hmmm, how did the Atom get there the exploded out of nothing?

    Good question, good question..
     
  7. civ_king

    civ_king Deus Caritas Est

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    a previous Big Crunch? everything gets sucked into black holes, they merge, into an infinisimal point and it goes boom...
     
  8. GoodGame

    GoodGame Red, White, & Blue, baby!

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    Wikipedia states that the church warned Galileo to stop simply because challenging the geocentric viewpoint was against scripture, not to mention one attempt at trying him before an inquisition for it. Shows pretty strongly that it was religion vs. science, a very gestapo-minded religious polity at that. It showed a strong lack of liberalism towards scientific inquiry by the church at the time, while it may not be a modern accusation against the modern church and science. Regardless of whether the facts were correct, it was scientific inquiry.

    EDIT: But anyways, Galileo doesn't have much to do with a proof to convince an atheist that God exists.
     
  9. Lord Emsworth

    Lord Emsworth Emperor

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    Or that you have disproven the Jabberwock. :p
     
  10. Bobbtjoe

    Bobbtjoe Emperor

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    :blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush::blush:x 999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999998

    kay fine!!! But the matter still remains, how'd the atom get there? Also, how do animals adapt after several generatins? You should try answering my questions.
     
  11. Lord Emsworth

    Lord Emsworth Emperor

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    What if those questions were answered? What then?

    Or let us just say they can't be answered. What then?

    (Leaving aside the glaring "unsciencyness" of your questions. ;))
     
  12. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Flying Pig, thank you for your reply - I notice that you haven't disagreed with the main points I was making, about the variety of religious attitudes towards faith and the (partially) non-cognitive nature religious faith, so I take it that you agree with these points, which is very gratifying. So there are only minor points to clear up.

    If you look at the actual text you'll see that the word he uses is probare, which has a similar range in meanings to "prove" in its fullest and most old-fashioned sense: ie, not simply to demonstrate, but to test. So some people have argued that what Aquinas means to do with his Five Ways is not demonstrate God's existence, but to demonstrate the reasonableness of belief in God, which is not the same thing. Support for this interpretation comes from the fact that some of his proofs do not seem to be proofs for God at all (either good or bad). The first three ways, in particular, seem to prove only that there is a first mover, a first cause, or a necessary being. If you accept his Aristotelian metaphysics, these are not very controversial conclusions (indeed some of them may be fairly uncontroversial conclusions even today). What is odd is that he ends each argument by simply asserting that the thing whose existence he has demonstrated is God. On the grounds that a philosopher as good as Aquinas would hardly make such an unwarranted leap, some scholars have argued that his intention is not to demonstrate God's existence, but to show that it is reasonable to identify the first mover etc. with God - that is, that the conclusions of philosophy/science are compatible with theism.

    However, I notice that you haven't challenged my other points on this matter - that (a) Aquinas' theistic proofs are not the only ones in existence, and (b) rational faith is hardly limited to theistic proofs anyway, but covers a whole range of endeavours. So I take it that you agree with these more important points, in which case the rather narrow and purely exegetical question of Aquinas' intention in ST I 2 3 isn't relevant to the point I was originally trying to make.

    Then you agree with me. If you think that Urban VIII was "somebody who uses outdated beilefs" (I assume it's Urban VIII you're referring to), and Galileo was "someone who does experiments", then you're agreeing with me that religious people have a very wide range of approaches to the nature of faith and reason and their interaction, which is the point I was trying to make. Because both the pope and Galileo were religious people. You can't take just one of them as representative of religion in general and ignore the religious sensibilities of the other! So your "symbol" is nicely representative of the incredible diversity of religious attitudes.

    Of course, from a historical point of view, like most "symbols" it's pure fiction. The beliefs that Urban VIII "used" (I'm not sure what you mean by "using" a belief, but we'll let that pass) weren't "outdated" in the slightest. If you'd followed the link I gave you'd know that, in the 1630s, the overwhelming body of available evidence and scientific opinion, as well as general common sense, supported geocentrism. If the ecclesiastical authorities stuck to geocentrism in favour of heliocentrism they were only following the majority scientific opinion of their day.

    Moreover, the church sought to determine the truth of the matter through the collection and examination of scientific evidence. Much of the evidence that ultimately did prove the truth of heliocentrism was collected by Jesuits, who travelled throughout the world partly with the deliberate purpose of observing astronomical phenomena from different parts of the globe in order to work out the truth of these matters. Look up names such as John Baptist Riccioli, Charles Malapert, Christoph Scheiner, Jacques Grandami (whose work Galileo plagiarised, and then had the gall to accused Grandami of plagiarising him!), and (best of all) Athanasius Kircher, who would have himself lowered on ropes into erupting volcanoes to try to discover what caused them. These figures were geocentrists, but they argued for their position on the basis of evidence, and they sought more evidence and more experiments to support it. On the basis of these experiments, most Jesuits came to believe that the traditional form of geocentrism was false, and they generally adopted some form of Tycho Brahe's hypothesis, according to which the sun revolves around the earth and everything else revolves around the sun. This hypothesis was supported by the new evidence such as the phases of Venus but still retained the basic geocentric view. There were, however, seventeenth-century Jesuits who agreed with Galileo - indeed, there were Jesuits in China teaching heliocentrism to the Chinese even while Galileo's trial was taking place. Later, Johannes Kepler found support among some Jesuit astronomers even while he was lambasted by his fellow Protestants for his heliocentrism. By the eighteenth century, of course, the evidence for heliocentrism had become overwhelming enough to make it clear that it was the correct theory. Much of that evidence had been collected by the Jesuits themselves. By then the Jesuits mostly held the theory. And the Catholic magisterium itself did, too, abandoning its opposition - admittedly rather later than most other people.

    So one could mount a pretty reasonable case that the church behaved in a reasonably scientific manner. It was sceptical about the radical new idea, sent out its researchers to conduct experiments and determine the truth of the matter, and when the evidence proved overwhelming, changed its mind and accepted the new idea. That is a reasonable way of proceeding. It's not reasonable to accept some radical new idea just because it is radical and new. Most scientists don't do that either. When some young scientist comes up with a radical new scientific theory, how do you suppose the scientific establishment normally reacts? Do you think they all embrace the new idea eagerly? Or do you think they are reluctant to abandon the established theories until they are given very good reason to do so? A genuinely scientific outlook is inherently pretty conservative, because a real scientist requires good evidence before he will accept a theory. In Galileo's case, he didn't have good evidence. Why should the magisterium have accepted his theory?

    So what does all this prove about the religious mindset? Nothing at all - which was my point. I'm not citing all these Jesuits to try to prove that religious people are rational. I'm citing them to try to show that religious people have different attitudes to these matters. In my earlier post I cited Kierkegaard and Whichcote as diametrically opposed: one thought that faith and reason have nothing to do with each other (so that faith is inherently irrational), and the other thought that faith and reason are exactly the same thing (so to have faith is simply to be rational). I'm not endorsing either of those two views or any of the myriad possibilities that lie between them. I'm pointing out that such a variety of views exists - and this is just within Christianity, not even within religion as a whole. You can't cite some particular incident, such as the Galileo affair, and suppose that it represents a universal religious modus operandi.

    The moral is that people are basically just people, and they have all kinds of different views on pretty much everything, and this is true whether they are religious or not. It would be nice and neat if all religious people had a similar outlook on these matters (and if all non-religious people had a similar outlook as well), but the real world doesn't work that way.

    Why would I want to deny it? But what does it demonstrate? That the Catholic magisterium didn't want people to read views it considered heretical? Well, dur. What can you conclude from that? That the Catholic magisterium is quite conservative? Well, again, dur. You describe the banned books as "important works of science and philosophy". But the vast majority of those books were written by Christians. For example, banned authors included figures such as Descartes, Malebranche, and Fenelon. But Descartes, Malebranche, and Fenelon were all Catholics (one was a layman, one a priest, and one a bishop). So the conclusion one might draw from this is that some Catholics were in the habit of writing important works of science and philosophy, and other Catholics were in the habit of banning said works. In other words, it's a case of some Catholics versus other Catholics, which means that you can't draw general conclusions about the attitudes of Catholics in this matter. As I said above - people are just people, whether they are religious or not. Some people are conservative and some people are not. Some people are rational and some people are not. Some people are radical and some people are not. These things are true whether we are talking about religious people or not. That is human nature.

    There are lots of (supposed) proofs of God floating around which I'm happy to discuss. We should probably do so in my Theologian thread though, if you want to ask it there.

    Of course the notion that there is a distinction between scientific matters on the one hand, and religious matters on the other, did not really exist in the 1630s, so it would be a bit unreasonable to expect the church at the time to have adhered to such a distinction. In fact the distinction really arose later in the seventeenth century, as a result of theological disagreements that were internal to the church. The Jansenists, whom the church regarded as heretical, developed the notion that the church is authorised to pronounce upon matters of faith, but not matters of fact, and they developed an account of the difference between them (ensuring that their own views were firmly on the "fact" side of the fence, meaning that the pope had no business condemning them...). This distinction was later taken up by other theorists, including many Protestants, and it developed into the modern distinction that you allude to. That's a bit of a simplification, but I think it's largely what happened. So applying that distinction to the time of the Galileo affair is rather anachronistic.

    Now the sections you quote state that Galileo's observation of the phases of Venus were inconsistent with the Ptolemaic theory. And, as a result, many Catholics did abandon that theory. As I stated above, the prevailing theory among many astronomers in the seventeenth century was that of Brahe, which was consistent with the phases of Venus. This was the favoured model of most Jesuits. The point here is that Galileo's observations didn't prove heliocentrism - at most they proved that Ptolemaism wasn't true.

    I would agree with you, but I don't think that's an example of the kind of thing we're talking about. The church's main reason for instructing people not to use condoms is not based upon some false scientific view (although of course certain church figures have appealed to false scientific views in its defence, but that is not the primary motive here), but on the view that contraception is simply immoral. Now I think that that is a daft notion that doesn't withstand scrutiny, but it is not a position on a matter of science.

    Wikipedia is not a reliable authority. It is at its least reliable in matters such as this. The Galileo affair is one of the most popularly misunderstood incidents in history. Wikipedia can be edited by absolutely anyone. Don't you think that these factors might, jointly, make it a little unreasonable to take the work of Wikipedia over that of one of the leading historians of the period, whose summary of the affair I linked to before? To put it bluntly, Wikipedia is simply wrong if it thinks that "the church warned Galileo to stop" - on the contrary, the church was happy for Galileo to publish his ideas and discuss them, as long as he did not present them as proven fact. And their rejection of heliocentrism was not "simply because challenging the geocentric viewpoint was against scripture", but because it was against the whole scientific consensus of the day. Moreover, as I have tried to explain already, there was a far more fundamental issue at stake than heliocentrism versus geocentrism. This was the very nature of scientific theories themselves. The church generally held that scientific theories are only models that are constructed to predict phenomena. To hold the geocentric theory, for example, was to hold that geocentrism was the model that most accurately predicted astronomical phenomena. It did not necessarily mean believing that the sun literally does go around the earth. This, incidentally, is what most scientists today believe. Galileo rejected this view. He said that a scientific theory is an accurate description of how things actually are. Not only did most scientists of the day think that this was a false view, they thought it was potentially blasphemous (because accurate knowledge of how things actually are is the province of God). And this was a major reason for much of the antagonism to Galileo. Many other people were quite happy to entertain the notion that heliocentrism might be true in a literal sense, but still accept geocentrism as the simplest and most accurate way of predicting phenomena. Bellarmine himself seems to have held this view. But Galileo's insistence upon his literalist interpretation of scientific theories - coupled with his insistence that he could prove the truth of heliocentrism with his theory of the tides (a false theory, as Newton proved fifty years later) - made his own position extremely unattractive philosophically as well as scientifically, and alienated most of the people whom he might otherwise have been able to win over.

    So in other words, no, it wasn't "religion vs. science".

    I'll certainly agree with that. But then, given that the very first post in this thread had nothing whatsoever to do with the title of the thread, I'm still unclear what this thread is even supposed to be about.
     
  13. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    You mean that not all religions have the same idea, and that it is partly above reason? I'll sign to that.

    They do end in the phrase 'thus God exists'

    He said: 'there are some truths that reason alone can reach, like that which God exists' - that implies to me that he wanted to show that God exists. It's a good idea, but I don't think it's right

    Considering that God existed as a fact then, he was inclined to jump around a bit: for example, that everything needs a creator. It is also likely that he thought that first causer = god, but again you may be right.

    I have not seen one which is far off them. If you have one, please show me it.

    Surely you need some grounds in reason to say that you are a rational believer? Or am I misunderstanding you?

    I would say that Fiath and Religion are different; although generally linked: faith is the belief in something, like thinking that whites are the superior race, although you cannot justify it (so, in the words of teh Declaration of Independance from teh US: we hold these truths to be self-evident) and religion is teh belif in some kind of god.

    Very good point, but see above. The problem is that faith and religion come together far to often.

    It was the scientific opinion because it was the religious opinion! Either way; when somebody comes up with an idea a fair society at least lets him speak.

    The fact that the magistratum called it heresy is the problem. To say: you are wrong is one thing, but to say: 'your error angers God and you will suffer for it' is another thing altogether.
     
  14. GoodGame

    GoodGame Red, White, & Blue, baby!

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    This is my bottom line as well with regards to Gallileo an the church. A specific scientific view---fully validated or not, investigated by inquisitions several times and deemed 'heresy' (not to mention the imprisonment).

    http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node52.html

    But regardless, the incident is a criticism of the gestapo influence of the church polity of one time period and not some sort of arguement for or against the existence of god. About the only way this plays to arguement regarding god is to an arguement that there has been a sort of a conspiracy of religious elite through the ages, to hinder free-thinking, which may play into the philosophy of some atheists. I.e. a sort of 'god doesn't exist, since god has always been a tool of the elite to hinder the masses, and here's exhibit A of such'.
     
  15. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Well, no, they don't.

    Certainly he thought that God's existence could be demonstrated; indeed pretty much everyone thought this until the eighteenth century or thereabouts. The question is whether that's what he's trying to do with the Five Ways.

    There are many arguments for God's existence that Aquinas doesn't use! The most obvious is the ontological argument, which Aquinas actively rejects (ST I 2 1, just two articles before the presentation of the Five Ways). Read the original version of this argument in Anselm's Proslogion here; obviously there have been many other formulations of it. Aquinas also does not use the Kalam cosmological argument, associated with al-Ghazali and Bonaventure. He also does not use any form of the various moral arguments such as those used by Kant or C.S. Lewis. He does not use any kind of the argument from the reality of merely possible or abstract entities, associated with Leibniz. He also doesn't use the "fine-tuning" argument that more recent scientifically-minded theologians such as Arthur Peacocke and Richard Swinburne have appealed to. Moreover, Aquinas makes no mention of the argument from religious experience (again, Swinburne is a good representative of this and actually makes it his main argument, in my view wisely since it's probably the best of a bad bunch).

    I think you must be, because I would agree with that. I was merely trying to say that theism is not the only topic where grounds in reason may be sought. This was because you cited the supposed failure of Aquinas' Five Ways as if that invalidated the whole attempt to ground religious faith in reason. My point was that there's more to that attempt than merely trying to prove the existence of God. Read Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian belief if you want a proper discussion and demonstration of this.

    Well, I've already explained why that definition of faith is inadequate. Your definition of religion is definitely inadequate. There are religions that don't believe in any kind of god - Therevada Buddhism is the most well known. Moreover, belief (whether in gods, God, no god, or anything else) is merely one element that may (or may not) be present in religion. Religion is not a system of belief - it is a sociological phenomenon that may include such a system, but needn't. To say that religion is identical with belief in some kind of god is like saying that religion is identical with singing hymns or with praying or with giving your money to the poor or with going to war with the infidel or with shaving all your hair off or with building enormous cathedrals or... you get the picture.

    No, that is not true. The reverse is true. Why do you think that most Christians believed in geocentrism to start with? Not because of the Bible - if anything, the Bible teaches that the world is flat, and no-one believed that in Galileo's day. Geocentrism was the prevailing cosmology in Galileo's day because it was the theory developed by ancient astronomers such as Ptolemy and repeated by later encyclopaedists and philosophers such as Isidore of Seville, John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas and all the rest. The theory was repeated and generally accepted because it made sense and was in accordance with all of the available evidence. That is why people, including "religious" people, believed it. There hadn't been some kind of religious-inspired suppression of alternative views - there simply weren't alternative views, for the most part. And when alternatives did arise, the church did not suppress them. When Copernicus published his views, he was not condemned as a heretic, and there was no attempt to suppress his ideas. On the contrary, he was generally praised as a genius, although few people believed he had been right (there was simply not enough evidence available at the time to convince most people).

    Here is some information on how heliocentrism was regarded in the decades before Galileo, which you can read in context here. As you can see, the main point here is that most people thought that heliocentrism was false, but they had no problem with disseminating the idea, and a few people thought it was true and didn't suffer as a result (any more than anyone suffers for holding a minority view at any time). It was not a heresy.

    As ought to be abundantly clear by now, Galileo was allowed to speak. He was specifically given permission to present his ideas, with the caveat that he presented them precisely as a theory. He chose not only to ignore this but to mock the pope and his exhortation by putting his words in the mouth of a character called "Simplicio". To repeat: Galileo was condemned (to house arrest in a comfortable villa) not for his belief in heliocentrism, nor for his presentation of the idea, but for his insistence that he could prove that idea and that everyone else was wrong. And he could probably have got away with claiming even that if he'd been a bit more diplomatic about things. The passage I quoted above about attitudes to Copernicus and heliocentrism before Galileo should make that clear.

    That's not to say I'm defending those who silenced him. Of course early seventeenth-century Italy wasn't a fair society, and of course it should have been. But I don't really see what that proves. GoodGame is quite right to say that whatever your assessment of the Galileo affair, you can't draw any general conclusions from it about the nature of religion or faith or reason or any of those other things. To attempt to do so is to make the old mistake of confusing the particular with the general.

    Maybe so. But again, I don't really see what your point is.
     
  16. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    Oh.

    Maybe; but I don't think that he would put something that he knew was wrong in his book as a proof that God exists (or what looks like one)

    I don't think that any of them work; none of them have any step which tells me for certain that God exists

    Apologies
    So democracy is a religion? So is feminism?

    That's interesting... so he actually got in trouble for taking the mickey out of the Pope?
     
  17. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I didn't say that he thought the arguments were wrong - I said that (the theory is that) the arguments are intended to do something other than prove God's existence.

    I'd entirely agree with that.

    Of course, a proof doesn't have to tell you for certain in order for it to be useful or successful. No empirical claim can be proven for certain, and that includes all scientific claims. A proof that tells you that something is more probable than not is still worthwhile; even a proof that tells you that something is more probable than you previously thought (although perhaps not more probable than not) may be worth something. I mentioned Richard Swinburne before: his whole programme of arguing for theism depends upon inductive arguments of this kind, and he argues that if you take them in conjunction, you have a case for saying that God's existence is more probable than his non-existence. Whether he's right or not is of course another matter.

    Did I say that? I said that religion is a sociological phenomenon; it doesn't follow from this that all sociological phenomena are religions (saying that pigs are animals doesn't commit you to the view that all animals are pigs). Obviously religions are sociological phenomena that have certain characteristics. However, no-one has managed to identify what those characteristics are. We've been discussing precisely this problem here.

    Basically, yes - and a pope who had been both personally and intellectually quite well disposed towards Galileo. In fact when Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII this was a big stroke of luck for Galileo, because Barberini was friendly with him and was a moderate on the matter of heliocentrism. The fact that Galileo managed to alienate hiim so successfully really says more about the personalities involved - above all Galileo's - than it does about any general principles about science and religion. The text I linked to earlier explained all this.
     
  18. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    I don't know; when shi'ite authorities issue a fatwa following a work of literature, the modus operandi may differ, but the underlying assumption in both cases is that religious authority is supreme, even beyond the religious sphere. The only other comparable case that comes to mind is the ban against Spinoza by a Jewish council.

    If you are referring to the "Godproofs" discussed there, then I think we covered that. (But I see you are discussing details of such proofs further on.)

    Hm, I wasn't applying modern standards to post-medieval times, but more thinking along the lines of Jesus' response of "Give God what is owed to God, Caesar what is owed Caesar." An affair as with Galilei (and I found your explanation most illuminating, once again) could not have happened without the development of a monotheistic state religion, I'm afraid. (That many Western scientists were indeed Catholics seems like a given for pre-Protestant Europe.)

    I am sorry, but one of the reasons to use a condom in the first place is purely medical. That the Catholic church today still assumes authority on such matters is a gotspe.

    Hm, I think we can narrow it down a bit more than that: were there many "Godprovers" before Thomas Aquinas, i.e. when did this mode of trying to prove the existence of God arise exactly? Isn't it a predominantly medieval concept? And finally, given the subject, could not equally valid arguments be developed for as against the existence of God?
     
  19. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    But are you suggesting that all religions operate like this, or that all religious people have such an attitude? Surely that's not a plausible position.

    The precisely meaning of the "render to Caesar" thing is debated, but surely it's something to do with personal piety and the need to put God at the centre of your life. Arguably it's a political statement as well. I don't really see that it's a philosophical or intellectual principle. But that's quite a nice way of interpreting it at least. At any rate, I would disagree that something like the Galileo affair requires monotheism - consider the case of Socrates.

    Not sure what a "gotspe" is, but it has a satisfying sound and I agree! But nevertheless, this isn't a scientific issue. Yes, there are obviously good medical reasons to use condomns. But the church's rationale for not using them is not, itself, medical, but ethical. They believe that there are ethical reasons not to do so, and that is something that science does not have the resources to debate. It's like the row over animal testing. Science can tell us whether doing tests on animals is an effective way to find stuff out - it can't tell us whether doing so is morally justified or not (although we may use the information that science gives us to inform our reasoning on whether it's morally justified or not). The rationale behind the Catholic proscription of contraception is that sex is an intrinsically generative act, that God intends it to be, and that "modifying" it in order to remove this characteristic is immoral. That is not an argument that one can evaluate scientifically. It is, of course, one that one can evaluate rationally, but that isn't the same thing.

    It's not predominantly medieval, and I was specifically thinking of antiquity when I said it. Pretty much everyone in antiquity (I mean classical antiquity) thought that the divine was provable as well, although there was a bit more diversity in opinion given the greater diversity in theological views. Also, they usually depended upon different arguments: the favoured arguments in the Middle Ages seem to have been versions of the ontological and cosmological arguments, whereas the favoured arguments in antiquity seem more usually to have been versions of the teleological argument. This is what you find in authors such as Cicero or the (lost) exoteric writings of Aristotle. Remember what Paul says:

    Paul says that God's existence is obvious, and that those who ignore it are therefore culpable, not because he's a religious fanatic but because most thinkers in antiquity thought this. He doesn't really give an argument although it sounds like he's thinking of some form of the teleological argument. There is a rather purple passage expanding on precisely this way of thinking in Minucius Felix (Octavius 17). The reasoning is very common for antiquity, but I think would be much less common in the Middle Ages (sorry for the archaic translation):

    Of course, there are lots of arguments against God's existence. Given the thread title I was expecting to find some in the OP and was quite disappointed not to.
     
  20. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    The argument tends to go as follows:

    • We define God as an omnipotent all-knowing being with goodwill towards humanity (accept this bit)
    • We know that people suffer, sometimes unjustly (accept this bit)
    • If God is all-powerful, then since 2 is true then he must be evil or indifferent
    • However, this does not work, so he must not be omnipotent
    • From this, we can conclude that there is no way that God, which we equate with a benovolent, all-powerful all-knowing being, can exist.
    Or:

    • We can find no evidence which atheists can belive which says that God exists
    • We can find no evidence that he does not
    • A world without God is simpler than one with him (assuming as we will that all of science is true)
    • Therefore, since we should logically take the simplest of two equally-likely mutally exclusive outcomes, we conclude that it is irrational to believe in God (not that he does not exist, but we will act as if he does not)
     

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