Thanks everybody for your kind inputs and to Paden for welcoming me.
Thanks softwareNerd for the materials to start with. I know that there is a lot of theistic undercurrent going on here. This cannot be avoided in philosophical discussions, such as these.
I have encountered such terms and concepts also in my recent online discussion with Objectivist Anton Thorn and in reading Dr. David Kelley’s articles on this subject. I have learned a lot from these gentlemen, despite the fact that, in answer to y feldblum’s question, I have not read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead (you must be referring to these novels?). Incidentally, Dr. Kelley has some fundamental differences with Dr Leonard Peikoff on the methodology of this philosophy, or on whether this philosophy is a closed system or is an open system sans dogmatism, if I am not mistaken. And by the way, I am sorry Myself for not knowing that Dr Branden holds unorthodox views from the prism of Objectivism, and had a personal and professional disassociation from Rand.
Let me speak my mind out.
Given the limitations of the human intellect, and the fact that we are not omniscient, and is dependent on what is “validatable” (or “verifiable”, as in logical positivism?), it would be wrong for us to be dogmatic about certain things. Thus, Tettrabyte’s claim that there is no proof that God exists is not absolute on the basis that the absence of proof does not necessarily mean that the thing does not exist. During the time of Aristotle, it cannot be proved the way we could prove today, strictly and scientifically speaking, that our sun is at the center of our solar system, but this is not so simply because it cannot be proved at that time. At present, it has been said that we cannot claim that God is not part of existence simply because we cannot see God.
On the other hand, I would not go to the extent of favoring dark unicorn’s argument on the basis of divine revelation because that would be going out of the playing court and playing in another court that was not built for the game we are playing. I would want to stay in the philosophical playing field and stir clear of the theological field. I would rather stick with the proposition that: “God does not exist unless proved otherwise.” Or that: “God possibly or probably exists because of the contingency of material reality.” I was told that these statements are laden with “stolen concepts.” But stolen from where? Western theistic philosophy or the middle ages? When is a concept stolen?
I agree with David that there is just truth and that it is a product of the mind grasping fact. I believe that truth or being true is the value of a statement or a claim so far as it agrees with what exists/reality/facts regardless of who made that statement or whether that statement or claim was made by a man or a parrot that merely imitated what a man says. Thus, a parrot that blurts “Snow is white!” is telling the truth or makes a true statement or a statement of fact because the fact/reality is that snow is white and the fact that a parrot makes this factual statement would not change the fact/reality that snow is white. Evidence is what we show to prove that what is claimed or stated is true. The argument must be based on this evidence so that we would be able to prove the truth of our claims. Truth is not the fact itself, but the product of the mind, which makes statements about facts, grasping that fact.
The statement “Ice sinks in water” is not a contradiction in terms because a contradiction exists between two terms or sets of terms that effectively extinguish (contradict) each other, like “black white.” It is a statement that is either true or false depending on whether it agrees with reality or not. The statement “Square circles exist” is the proposition the truthfulness or falseness of which would depend on whether it agrees with reality. Clearly, it is not true since “square” and “circle’ contradict each other.
What is the concept of meaning from the Objectivist viewpoint? I think we have differing concepts here.
Your argument against God’s existence is based on the statement that God created ALL that exists. But supposing that this statement is not entirely accurate/true, but has to be qualified from the term ALL to ALL MATERIAL REALITY. Would this change the nature of the statement in favor of God’s existence? I believe that the statements we make are either true or false depending on whether they agree with reality. The statement “God exists” is no exception to this. The contradiction that is proposed here is based on the underlying assumption that the terms “God” and “exists” contradict each other on the principle or presumption that God is a being, like us, who brought that which exists into existence from nothing or by merely thinking about it, which cannot be done precisely because we cannot make things exists by merely thinking about it. However, if we say that God is not like us, will that radically change the equation? Will that tell us that God has always been? Would that be unthinkable? Unthinkable from the viewpoint that ALL that exists is what can be validated by the senses? Unthinkable from the viewpoint that man does not know everything and has yet to discover everything about existence?
That brings us to the question: What then is God? (not Who, but What, because that would make a significant shift in the discussion from philosophy to theology). Now, y feldblum says that God is a contradiction because he is everything but at the same time he is nothing—violating the Law of Identity, which says that man is man and not a tree, or a cat is a cat and not a dog, or that a square is a square and not a circle. How about God is God and not a man? Cannot be, because God lacks identity since we know him by what he is not and not by what he is? Yes, but from the viewpoint of finite material existence. How about if we say that from what he is not (from the view point of material existence) we can extract what God is? Hence, God is simple (a spirit; not a composite and therefore corruptible, contingent and temporal), immense (not finite and limited thus, his attributes, such as goodness, are limitless), omnipotent (almighty), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present).
On the other hand, why cannot God create another equally infinite God? According to theistic philosophers, this cannot be because that would limit his nature since no two Gods can be equally infinite, or else one God would be a limit to the other God. It’s like dividing an infinite pie between themselves thus, both of them would not be infinite but would have limits—one limiting the other. That would be impossible, for it would be tantamount to God contradicting himself, which cannot be possible because of the tautological Law of Identity. God cannot be God and not God at the same time. The same could be said of the impossibility of God to create a stone to heavy for him to carry or creating a square circle, which are non-entities or nothings (there is no such stone that God cannot carry and there is no such a thing as a square circle), since the infinite power of God is not measured by his ability to create nothing, but by his ability to create something.
I also cannot understand Hunter’s definition of existence as that which is limited. Is not matter, which you equate with existence itself, supposed to be unlimited or eternal from the lens of Objectivism? If God is unlimited (otherwise, he won’t be God the Creator, but a mere creature, right?) it does not follow that he does not exist. I think what the Objectivists are saying is that an infinite God cannot exists because this cannot be validated by the senses or the mind of man, which are of course finite instruments that are being proposed to be used in gauging the infinite. I think that in the lexicon of the Objectivist, existence is nothing more than what is or can be apprehend by the senses. This is why existence is equated with the finite thus, if God exists, this entity would be necessarily finite.
We cannot make the gratuitous claim that there are no arguments for the existence of God because we have now spent many sentences arguing for or against God. Now, whether our statements that make up our arguments are in consonance with reality/existence/facts or are based on the evidence or whether or not our arguments are valid constitute another matter altogether.
I agree with Kendall that we cannot prove the theory that matter itself is not eternal. Neither can we prove that it is. Theories are just theories. Correct! The expanding universe and thermodynamics are theories. They can be otherwise. The theory that everything had a beginning is highly suspect. However, this does not mean that the theory that things do not have a beginning is absolutely true! Just because we cannot prove it, does not mean that it does not exist. Right? But how should the Second Law of Thermodynamics be defined if it has been misused or abused? This law posits the dispersal of energy or entropy whereby things tend to lapse into a state of disintegration and disorder, which we would be at this point if the universe were infinite as the theory goes. Energy is recycled and therefore can be used up from one form to another. Unless we have better theories to explain physical reality we would have to stick to these theories. However, theories are not absolute.
On the other hand, my observation of things, whether atoms or stars, are contingent come from my observation. As to matter itself? I go back to what I said about theories. Unless we could prove in a laboratory or in an observatory in a strict and scientific manner that matter is eternal, then we stick with what be know—that it is contingent. And contingency is the key to the possibility or probability of the existence of the entity we call God. This is the essence of what I posited in my first post.
I believe that we come to know about reality/existence through the apprehension of our senses and/or through the comprehension of our mind. We come to know the existence of a tree, for example, by first seeing a tree. Then, we come to know about the essence of a tree by seeing the tree and understanding the tree. Aristotle was right. Nothing comes to the mind unless it first passes through the senses. The reality (material thing) about the tree that we see with our eyes enables us to understand more realities (immaterial essence) about the tree that we could only do with our minds. Hence, we see here two levels of knowing (the concrete and the abstract) and two kinds of realities that exist (the concrete/material and the abstract/immaterial). The process of knowing starts from the concrete and progresses into the abstract. It is in abstracting the nature of things from the things themselves that come to comprehend the possibility or probability of the existence of an entity called God from the contingency of material reality.
I am afraid that if I would become an Objectivist, I would have to disabuse my mind of all these thoughts and, should I say, unlearn what I have learned? I have not been dogmatic and an absolutist in matters philosophical. I believe that the existence or non-existence of God cannot be absolutely proven from the viewpoint of science or philosophy.