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Family Religious Background of Objectivists

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What is your "religious" background?? (my curiosity centers around family religious background)  

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  1. 1. What is your "religious" background?? (my curiosity centers around family religious background)

    • Catholic
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    • Protestant
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    • Muslim
      5
    • Agnostic
      31
    • Animistt
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    • Atheist
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    • Mormon
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    • Jewish
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    • other/combined
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The claim that God exists is arbitrary. It is neither false nor true. It invalidates itself.

Actually, it is false (under most definitions of "God"); it violates one or more axioms. There are several threads on this.

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I voted atheist for background since my dad is an atheist.. although im pretty sure my mom is not, I really have no idea what she believes, I've never asked her.

I am not sure if I can claim being raised as an atheist though. Neither of my parents ever sat me down and told me there is a God, or this is no God. They never even mentioned the concept as I was growing up. But I do remember when I first learned the concept God, I was 6 or 7 after hearing one of my friends talk about it. I asked my older brother what it was, he (sort of) explained it with a very negative spin of course.. I just laughed and that was that.

But I guess my brother was responsible for a large part of my upbringing, so maybe I can claim to be raised as atheist. Even if he was only 4 years older than me.

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Actually, it is false (under most definitions of "God"); it violates one or more axioms. There are several threads on this.
Good point. However, you did say under most definitions. So, I went a step further to cover all of them.

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I have a friend who was brought up atheist and became a fundamentalist Christian about 2 years ago...strange how those things work.

Strange but not unique. Same thing happened to my youngest brother when he was 16. And not only were we raised atheist, but it even goes back to my grandparents, at least on my mother's side.

Within the family we get some interesting three-corner debates between myself (atheist with mostly Objectivist political beliefs) my Christian brother (political beliefs similar to mine) and another brother who's atheist and politically leftist.

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Good point. However, you did say under most definitions. So, I went a step further to cover all of them.

Actually, any arbitrary assertion (such as "god exists") is neither true nor false, but simply arbitrary. True or false are judgements made in the context of at least some positive evidence and fall along a possible, probable, certainty epistemological axis. Any assertion made without positive evidence is simply an arbitrary utterance that falls out of the context of any epistemological consideration.

This is not to mean, however, that a refutation of the existence of god should not be made given the proper time, situation and context, but you should keep very clear in your own mind the distinction between statements that have no epistemological status (the arbitrary) and judgements (such as true or false) that pertain only to positive evidence.

So what would be positive evidence?

Positive evidence means evidence that has as its foundation concretes that can be pointed to in reality and can be perceived via the senses. Any statement without perceptual evidence as its foundation is simply arbitrary and can be dismissed.

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@ RichardParker:

It is true that God-claim would be an arbitrary statement.

However, the point there was that if some definition of God is wrong according to the existing body of knowledge, then the claim is false by definition.

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@ RichardParker:

It is true that God-claim would be an arbitrary statement.

However, the point there was that if some definition of God is wrong according to the existing body of knowledge, then the claim is false by definition.

Can you give a right definition of God, based on the existing body of knowledge?

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Can you give a right definition of God, based on the existing body of knowledge?
Olex may freely disagree. However, the abstract concept "god" refers to a being (a far as I know, unique, but I'm not sure that's that is a necessary property) who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, infallible, eternal and who created all that exists. This, AFAIK, holds of the three major gods God, Yahweh and Allah, I think it's true of Hindu versions of god (however that may better describe a particular philosophical version of Hinduism, Mimamsa philosophy, rather than "man on the street" Hinduism), and I think it's also a reasonable statement of Bahai god (who doesn't seem to have a name).

Then the question would be, is there evidence that no such being exists. I would say that all evidence about anything converges at the conclusion that god actually does not exist. So this is not just an arbitrary claim (that god exists), it is an actively false one.

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Olex may freely disagree. However, the abstract concept "god" refers to a being (a far as I know, unique, but I'm not sure that's that is a necessary property) who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, infallible, eternal and who created all that exists. This, AFAIK, holds of the three major gods God, Yahweh and Allah, I think it's true of Hindu versions of god (however that may better describe a particular philosophical version of Hinduism, Mimamsa philosophy, rather than "man on the street" Hinduism), and I think it's also a reasonable statement of Bahai god (who doesn't seem to have a name).

Then the question would be, is there evidence that no such being exists. I would say that all evidence about anything converges at the conclusion that god actually does not exist. So this is not just an arbitrary claim (that god exists), it is an actively false one.

The mere utterance of a claim to existence by appeal to omniscience, etc. does not elevate the claim along the epistemological axis from the arbitrary to the possible, probable, certain so long as the claim is not grounded in evidence gathered by the senses and integrated by perceptual-conceptual means into a valid concept. The thing referred to as god is not a valid concept because there is nothing you can point to in reality to ground its existence.

If I make the claim that there are green gremlins on Mars and cannot substantiate this claim by pointing to something in reality to ground it to existence, then my claim does not become a valid concept whose truth or falsehoond can be proven or denied because the claim is accompanied by another arbitrary utterance claiming that these green gremlins are also omnipotent, omniscient etc.

Truth and falsehood pertain to an evaluation of evidence gathered by sensory-perceptual means. In the absence of any evidence gathered by sensory-perceptual means, any utterance of a claim to existence of a thing, god or otherwise, is and can only be arbitrary.

Edited by RichardParker

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The thing referred to as God is not a valid concept because there is nothing you can point to in reality to ground its existence.
God has the same validity as any other mythical / abstract concept such as unicorns, gremlins, and numbers. It's a fairly high-level concept, but that fact does not mean that the concept itself does not exist. I've mentioned the names of a number of examples of the god-concept and it's obviously open-ended. Please note that being "grounded in perception" is a requirement for a concept, and that requirement is satisfied -- notions such as time, space, existence, ability etc. are all ultimately reduced to the axiomatic. So the concept is not invalid: but a particular claim about god is false.

Were you thinking that all valid concepts have to refer to directly tangible, mass-having objects. That's not true of a number of high-order concepts.

Truth and falsehood pertain to an evaluation of evidence gathered by sensory-perceptual means. In the absence of any evidence gathered by sensory-perceptual means, any utterance of a claim to existence of a thing, God or otherwise, is and can only be arbitrary.
That's just false. The reason is that there is ample sensory evidence that shows that god does not exist.

Look at it this way: suppose we're standing in a room and I point in a direction and say "Nice horse". But there's no horse there. My claim that there is a horse there isn't just arbitrary, it is false. God is that horse.

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Look at it this way: suppose we're standing in a room and I point in a direction and say "Nice horse". But there's no horse there. My claim that there is a horse there isn't just arbitrary, it is false. God is that horse.

If I turn my head in the direction in which you are pointing and there is nothing but a blank wall, your claim is false, but remember that you are refering to something that actually can possibly be in the room. What I mean here is that I actually know, by virtue of evidence gathered by my senses that such things as horses exist, so there is the possibility that there might be a horse in the room. If I point in a direction and say "look, there is a green gremlin in the corner," then this claim is arbitrary because there has never been any evidence gathered by sensory-perceptual means to raise even the possibility that such a thing as greem gremlins exist that could be sitting in a corner in the room.

God is not a valid concept because there is nothing in reality that you can point to to even raise the possibility of his existence, other than another arbitrary claim.

You might try thinking of it this way: is there anything but another arbitrary claim that you can point to, to provide evidence for the existence of god?

Edited by RichardParker

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God is not a valid concept because there is nothing in reality that you can point to to even raise the possibility of his existence, other than another arbitrary claim.
Am I correct in concluding that you deny the validity of higher-order concepts which do not refer to perceptual facts, for example complex numbers, irrational numbers, and transfinite sets?
You might try thinking of it this way: is there anything but another arbitrary claim that you can point to, to provide evidence for the existence of god?
Clearly not, since it is utterly false that god exists and therefore no fact can indicate such a contradiction. If I wanted to argue that you could, maybe, argue for the existence of god, then I'd be in trouble. I am only arguing that the claim that god exists is a known falsehood. It is true that I only know that god does not exist because I know certain things about the nature of existents. It is like knowing that there does not exist a cow that can jump over the moon. Such a claim is not merely arbitrary, it is false.

However, I think I see a possible source of the disagreement. Do you hold that all universal statements ("All men are mortals; all fish are animals" etc.) are arbitrary?

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Am I correct in concluding that you deny the validity of higher-order concepts which do not refer to perceptual facts, for example complex numbers, irrational numbers, and transfinite sets?Clearly not, since it is utterly false that god exists and therefore no fact can indicate such a contradiction. If I wanted to argue that you could, maybe, argue for the existence of god, then I'd be in trouble. I am only arguing that the claim that god exists is a known falsehood. It is true that I only know that god does not exist because I know certain things about the nature of existents. It is like knowing that there does not exist a cow that can jump over the moon. Such a claim is not merely arbitrary, it is false.

However, I think I see a possible source of the disagreement. Do you hold that all universal statements ("All men are mortals; all fish are animals" etc.) are arbitrary?

No, of course not. But the issue that was raised was the distinction between valid and invalid concepts as well as the distinction between false and arbitrary statements.

Any higher level concept that cannot be ultimately reduced to perceptual concreates (such as god) is invalid.

The distinction between false and arbitrary is that the former pertains to the judgement of evidence gathered by the senses and which can ultimately be reduced to perceptual concretes, while the latter pertains to an utterance that cannot be reduced to sensory-perceptual concretes. Since there is no perceptual-sensory evidence for the existence of god, any utterance to that effect is arbitrary. Since there is sensory-perceptual evidence for the existence of horses, any statement in regards to these pertains to truth and falsehood.

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Olex may freely disagree. ... Then the question would be, is there evidence that no such being exists. I would say that all evidence about anything converges at the conclusion that god actually does not exist. So this is not just an arbitrary claim (that god exists), it is an actively false one.
This was my point, indeed. I do agree that most Gods are what you described as.

And my point, just as yours, was that these definitions are wrong, b/c they violate certain facts and principles, thus they are false. Those definitions that do not violate anything (something like "no laws or principles apply to God", etc.) are arbitrary.

@Richard: do you agree that if a definition violates a fact or a principle within existing body of knowledge, then the claim of such being is false?

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This was my point, indeed. I do agree that most Gods are what you described as.

And my point, just as yours, was that these definitions are wrong, b/c they violate certain facts and principles, thus they are false. Those definitions that do not violate anything (something like "no laws or principles apply to God", etc.) are arbitrary.

@Richard: do you agree that if a definition violates a fact or a principle within existing body of knowledge, then the claim of such being is false?

Yes, but god is an invalid definition. One form of definition is genus and species. What is the genus of god? What is the species of god?

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I am waiting for god to release a movie. Really. He released a book! Its about time he put something else out here to force us into worship. I wonder if the movie would be better than the book. :thumbsup:

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I am waiting for god to release a movie. Really. He released a book! Its about time he put something else out here to force us into worship. I wonder if the movie would be better than the book. :thumbsup:

Actually, he didn't really write a book: he's too famous. He got a bunch of ghostwriters to write if for him.

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Actually, he didn't really write a book: he's too famous. He got a bunch of ghostwriters to write if for him.

What are God's previous accomplishments that have made him famous, then? Sure, he may have created everything that exists nowadays, but you can't like keep living off the interest from one such thing forever.

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In my case, the situation is a bit weirder: according to my grandmother, there is not a single “believer” in my family, (with possible exception of my mom’s new-age tendencies) and my parents are perfectly happy with my avowed atheism – yet they both maintain the (essentially racist) attitude that I had better marry a Jew.

LOL! that is wierd!! <_< I find the Jews to be extremely funny people! lol! :lol:

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I was raised in a very Christian home... in a weird way. My mom never talked too much about it unless asked while my dad would always want me to pray with him and always talked about how Jesus was the answer to everything, etc, etc. When it came to going to church, we all went as a family religiously (pun intended) until I was about 13-14. My parents said there just wasn't a good church around when we moved to Texas. We moved back to Colorado, but my family didn't start going to church like I assumed they would. I did. At that time, I had so many questions that I knew didn't have answers in Christianity, but I thought I'd drown them out with the soothing voice of a fat, old pastor who took my offerings to God and bought himself three vehicles in one year. If it's not apparent by the last sentence, I grew bitter. The church became more and more obvious in its holy ignorance to my eyes. I then started (quite frantically) searching for a different moral base. Ideas were forming in the back of my head (the front of it was reluctant because they seemed to be... selfish) as to what my life should be and, more importantly, whose it should be. I picked up one thing after another from Buddhism to Existentialism and whatever else until I found The Fountainhead :thumbsup:

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As I said in another topic a while ago, I'm proud to be a born and raised Atheist. I have never been affiliated with any church or cult like religious organization in anyway shape or form.

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As I said in another topic a while ago, I'm proud to be a born and raised Atheist. I have never been affiliated with any church or cult like religious organization in anyway shape or form.

My father's family is Catholic mostly (some Protestant as well), and my mother's family is Jewish. Neither of my parents are particularly religious and we never went to church. I was allowed to be exposed to religion and pretty much permitted to choose my beliefs in the supernatural, or not. The God thing never did anything much for me. I decided not only that there was probably no God at all, and that even if there was, He and I wouldn't get along. ;)

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I was raised in a Protestant household. My mom is Protestant, and my dad doesn't take a position to my knowledge. I rarely had to go to church since I didn't like it and my dad didn't go either. I was never religious, but didn't become explicitly atheist until I was around 13. It didn't happen through reading any moving text, but happened after about 30 seconds of pondering on the issue (a lot of great things are discovered that way). Most of my family doesn't approve of my atheism. My mom cried when I told her I was atheist, and my grandpa told me that not believing in god is worse than murdering an infinite amount of people (he claimed that since the "believe in god" commandment was higher upon on the list than the "thou shall not kill" commandment, believing in god is infinitely more important than not killing). Rand and Objectivism didn't have much of an influence on my decision to be atheist, although it did provide me with a more fundamental set of arguments against god (specifically, the law of identity).

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