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Tonix777
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Gods exist: We invented them!

The Gods have been there since the obscure beginnings of the humanity, when we finally emerged from the darkness, slowly finishing being monkeys and beginning being men.

Try for a second to imagine yourself in the shoes of these primitive creatures with a brain complex enough for beginning to think, but too simple to understand reality as most of we can do now. What could be then the answers to so many questions suddenly appeared?: Gods!

And we should probably be grateful to religions because they were the primitive (and probably irreplaceable) substitutes for philosophy in the first stages of man's evolution.

On the other hand Ayn Rand explicitly agreed from a metaphysical point of view, with the classic concept attributed to ancient Chinese culture: "Be brave enough to change what can be changed, humble enough to leave what can't be changed and wise enough to recognize the difference".

Gods have by definition all that we lack and men invented Gods because we are not Gods, i.e. we are not omnipotent nor omniscient and most people needed (still need) someone to take care of which they can't.

I see (at least) three basic dangers in misunderstanding the concept of Gods who supposedly are the ones in charge of the things we really can't change:

1-Believing in Gods as entities with existence outside man's mind and thus believing they are some kind of external, "real" beings with power on their own.

2-Leaving Gods the job that we are supposed to do: The job to change what we can change: adapt our environment to us, develop our own means to survive, use and improve our mind, fight for what we desire.

3-Finally giving to some priests or witch-doctors the supposed ability to communicate with the Gods and then say what should or shouldn't be done.

Conclusions:

Gods have been always there, but they are not responsible for the misuse we make of them.

Never again I will say to a religious person that his or her God doesn't exist, it is a lie because all Gods exist, as literature, mathematical equations or music exist, since for good or worse we invented all of them.

Edited by Tonix777
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That is not existence; it is fantasy. By your logic John galt exists; he doesn't, he is merely fantasy. The same goes for gods. Besides, we have no need for gods, especially with modern science (with noted exceptions that are more mysticism than science) explains a lot about how things work.

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Gods exist: We invented them!
Can I presume that this is the resolution that you would like to debate? Or is it this:
The Gods have been there since the obscure beginnings of the humanity, when we finally emerged from the darkness, slowly finishing being monkeys and beginning being men.
The first statement, that there is a concept of "god", is not likely to get serious takers in a debate, since it's obviously true. The latter, in the other hand, does has prospects. I might be willing to oppose your second claim.
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Gods exist: We invented them!

... ...

Never again I will say to a religious person that his or her God doesn't exist,... ...

In these two statements, you are equivocating on the term "exists". What the religious person means by it is different from what you mean by it. Equivocation can be used to falsely "prove" all sorts of things. For instance:

Suppose something goes downward.

Person X says it goes upward.

You say to him, "your up is my down" so it goes upward and/or downward!

When you say to the religious person that God exists in the sense that man invented the idea of God, you are not agreeing with the substance of the claim made by the religious person: i.e. that God exists in the sense of being "some kind of external, 'real' beings with power on their own".

The sense you are using exists is so broad that (as David pointed out) it is too obviously true and does not merit debate. The idea of God exists inside the minds of some men.... who would doubt that or argue against that?

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DragonMaci:

I would not take so lightly the "fantasy" of men, it is after all one of the most powerful driving forces that took humanity up to here. Fantasy reflects the exercise of one wonderful quality of man: imagination. As every tool of the mind it can be used for good (projecting things for the future for example) or for evil (denying reality for example).

On the other hand John Galt exists (the character, not the "real" person obviously) and his influence would probably not have been necessarily more powerful or important if he was a "flesh and bone" person...

If religious people can't distinguish between reality and fantasy is their problem and beside that I usually don't argue with worshipers of any religion, it is pointless because they can't prove the existence of whatever their God happens to be and I can't prove otherwise.

More important: Religious people believe in Gods because they desperately need to, their minds and/or souls are not strong enough to stand existence and death or to have their own values, so it is good to have some compassion for those people, I used to be one of them after all...

Finally I don't think being an Objectivist necessarily means having a mind so "practice" that is incapable of distinguishing the shades of gray even and specially in the minds of adversaries. Reality (including man of course) is complex, so our mind have to be complex enough to properly understand it.

An oversimplified discourse is useful for a forum where all people agree with you, but trying to "reach" other people with distinct mental structures is a different challenge.

You talk about how things work, but you are forgetting one of the most wonderful "things" on Earth: Man's mind. And the alleged existence of Gods explains a lot about how human mind works, but this would be surely a subject for another post.

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softwareNerd and DavidOdden:

The whole point of my post is giving a somewhat interesting fresh point of view over a so old discussion as God existence or not that goes so far as to the beginning of humanity... Just saying "God doesn't exists" is not worthy of a coffee's discussion, less of a post in a forum.

Of course most religious people believe (or say that believe) that God is a real entity that governs the Universe and/or our lives, but as I said to DragonMaci I don't want to discuss with this kind of people in their own terrain or under their own rules about what "existence" means in this case. I never knew about a case in which some atheist convinced a believer about the non existence of God in a single discussion. Do you?

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I'd dearly love to live in a world with more John Galt's and fewer gods. :D

Having said that I'm no more in the habit of arguing with the religiously devout than I am in arguing with my dog.

When you think about it, to argue with a religious person is to enter into an argument where logic and reason are worthless. For anything you say can be wished away by miracle, divine intervention or some such magical nonsense. In an argument where the laws of physics, and all other scientific knowledge are rendered moot by some imaginary superman shouting "Abracadabra!" from a mountaintop you might as well resort to an "Oh yeah? Because I said so... That's why!" line of rebuttal yourself.

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I don't want to discuss with this kind of people in their own terrain or under their own rules about what "existence" means in this case. I never knew about a case in which some atheist convinced a believer about the non existence of God in a single discussion.
Then what do you want to debate, if not your claim about the beginnings of humanity?
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Then what do you want to debate, if not your claim about the beginnings of humanity?

Dear DavidOdden:

My original post was in a somewhat literary-provocative format, which I prefer because it triggers more open discussions. But I will put in the following points the topic in a more concrete manner, where the debate statements are under "For debate" and other background points are juts my support-observations which of course are open to discussion too

Background:

1-Atheists to believers spectrum:

a-Full believer: Honesty believes in miracles and in the God pictured in the Bible by example (or any other similar religion), he is convinced that people can fly, walk over water and create matter from nothing, or revive long dead bodies, contradicting all the known scientific and/or natural rules.

b-Half believer: Believe that there are some "divine" entities outside our current human-limited sphere of understanding, but don't believe in magic miracles or in priests from any particular religion. Probably considers the Bible as a metaphoric story

c-Agnostic: With a more scientific approach he is sure that the "magic" God pictured in the Bible by example (or any other similar religion) doesn't exist outside man's mind

But he is not sure if other Gods (superior "divine" entities) exist or not outside man's mind, because he doesn't care or because he has no scientific proof for either position

d-Atheist: Is absolutely convinced that no Gods exist at all outside man's mind, either the God pictured in the Bible by example (or any other similar religion) nor any superior "divine" entities of any kind.

He only believes in what he can "touch and see" or what current science can proof.

For debate:

I affirm that the man pictured in the option c-Agnostic is the more Objectivist of all, since the other possible candidate, the option d-Atheist is also a believer by faith in two things:

1-That outside man's mind don't exists any kind of superior "divine" entities which could be unreachable by our current sphere of understanding i.e. by our current level of mind's evolution.

He can't scientifically proof that.

2-He also believe (with concrete rational fundaments of course) in science, but forcefully he has to put also some degree of "faith" in some science's results, specially about complex scientific maters or everyday's new discoveries since he is not able to check every research, every premise, every theorem, etc. of the whole human knowledge, ever growing, ever changing.

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I affirm that the man pictured in the option c-Agnostic is the more Objectivist of all, since the other possible candidate, the option d-Atheist is also a believer by faith in two things:

1-That outside man's mind don't exists any kind of superior "divine" entities which could be unreachable by our current sphere of understanding i.e. by our current level of mind's evolution.

He can't scientifically proof that.

I disagree, and welcome to the board, and thanks for placing this in a less literary format.

God violates the axioms of Objectivism. Since they are first knowledge from which all other knowledge is proven, axioms aren't proven. Proof is based on antecedant knowledge and there is nothing antecedant to the axioms. Instead, they are validated perceptually. Everything that is validates the axioms and one simply needs look around to see that God is impossible.

Omnicience and Omnipotence are anti-identity. They are anti-causality. They cannot exist and there is no evidence anywhere in reality that they do exist. Therefore any religious concept of God, cannot exist. Atheism is the proper Objectivist position. Agnosticism is epistemological cowardice.

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For debate:

I affirm that the man pictured in the option c-Agnostic is the more Objectivist of all,

This is incorrect and not up for debate since it is contrary to Miss Rand's own ideas of what an Objectivist is.

since the other possible candidate, the option d-Atheist is also a believer by faith
false, atheism by definition is a lack of belief or "faiths".

in two things:

1-That outside man's mind don't exists any kind of superior "divine" entities which could be unreachable by our current sphere of understanding i.e. by our current level of mind's evolution.

He can't scientifically proof that.

"He" doesn't need to since it's an arbitrary assertion.

2-He also believe (with concrete rational fundaments of course) in science, but forcefully he has to put also some degree of "faith" in some science's results, specially about complex scientific maters or everyday's new discoveries since he is not able to check every research, every premise, every theorem, etc. of the whole human knowledge, ever growing, ever changing.

None, of this matters since belief in god(s) is completely arbitrary with no rational basis.

So, to paraphrase David, what is it that you want to debate here?

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2-He also believe (with concrete rational fundaments of course) in science, but forcefully he has to put also some degree of "faith" in some science's results, specially about complex scientific maters or everyday's new discoveries since he is not able to check every research, every premise, every theorem, etc. of the whole human knowledge, ever growing, ever changing.

So you put omniscient as the standard of true knowledge? Faith is belief without any supporting reason or evidence whatsoever, and trusting the testimony of a 50-year science and not that of a 15-year Christian is not faith.

Besides, one is admitting that no knowledge is possible is faith is necessary.

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So you put omniscient as the standard of true knowledge?

Besides, one is admitting that no knowledge is possible is faith is necessary.

That's exactly the point. This position basically says, because one cannot know everything one cannot know for sure. I am quite sure that everything that is, including everyting I have yet to encounter is something (i.e. has identity) and operates according to cause and effect therefore I am quite sure that God (as any religious person needs him to exist) is an absolute impossibility.

Edited by KendallJ
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2-He also believe (with concrete rational fundaments of course) in science, but forcefully he has to put also some degree of "faith" in some science's results, specially about complex scientific maters or everyday's new discoveries since he is not able to check every research, every premise, every theorem, etc. of the whole human knowledge, ever growing, ever changing.

This 2nd is a different issue than God, which is anti-axiomatic. This 2nd statement deals with knowledge and the fact that it is contextual, and goes to the Objectivist ideas on certainty. If one is careful to carefully delimit the context of ones conclusion, then tomorrows new discoveries do not overturn today's truths, and thus no faith is required. But in order for that to be the case, one has to carefully understand the context for which today's truth has been shown to be true.

Relativity did not overturn classical mechanics. Classical mechanics is still true for all the contexts in which it was originally discovered. Relativity just augmented it and extended it for new contexts.

The fact that we know that the world is round does not change the fact that up to that time, all of the parts of the world we measured were pretty flat.

This aspect however does not apply to God, since the axioms are true for ALL contexts. There is no new situation that we ever come across that will make God true.

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So you put omniscient as the standard of true knowledge? Faith is belief without any supporting reason or evidence whatsoever, and trusting the testimony of a 50-year science and not that of a 15-year Christian is not faith.

Besides, one is admitting that no knowledge is possible is faith is necessary.

I believe in reason and science is the best tool for it. Science is my "religion".

But I never lost perspective and I always am aware that science is perfectible, always evolving. So I am very careful when it comes to make absolute affirmations.

By example the 1913 Bohr's model for the atom was oversimplified and in some ways wrong and now obsolete. And anyone who in 1913 blindly believed in Bohr's model was wrong according with our current atom model which in turn will probably also be obsolete in the future.

(The definition of faith that I am using related to science is the one found in in the Oxford American Dictionary "Faith: A strongly held belief or theory")

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I disagree, and welcome to the board, and thanks for placing this in a less literary format.

Omnicience and Omnipotence are anti-identity. They are anti-causality. They cannot exist and there is no evidence anywhere in reality that they do exist. Therefore any religious concept of God, cannot exist. Atheism is the proper Objectivist position. Agnosticism is epistemological cowardice.

Thanks for the welcome

I never spoke about "Omnicience and Omnipotence" this is your idea of God (the Christian God probably). I just spoke about some superior beings that by definition can't be known in our current evolution's state. I am assuming here that the man's mind evolution will continue and in a couple million years more our mind will be as incomprehensible for us as ours would be for the Neanderthal cave-man. What will our mind be able to understand in the distant future? We don't know! Carl Sagan once said referring to the old question about Universe's origin: Why don't you stop trying to answer with God the question and just say "I don't know" (yet)

The Christian God is not the only God in history and is far from being a beautiful or creative story. Gods can be very different in shapes and abilities, take for example the Gods of the Mythology of the Ancient Greek Pantheon, isn't it a beautiful representation of man's virtues and evils, truth and lie, passion, struggle, life, death, fate, chance? Even when it is a fantasy?

Aristotle himself said something I totally agree with: "Happiness (Eudaimonia) thus understood is not a mood or temporary state, but a state achieved through a lifetime of virtuous action, accompanied by some measure of good fortune"

Well... Even when agnostic I sometimes "pray" in my own way to the Gods of "good fortune", this act (not any supernatural entity) contributes well to my own psycho-epistemology of reality helping me to remember that there are things that I definitely can't control (the frightening possibility of a serious decease of my 4 months baby, a car accident, an earthquake). It helps me to avoid excessive presumptuousness in front of fate.

I recommend here the Ayn Rand's Essay: "The Metaphysical versus the Man-made" from "Philosophy: Who Needs It"

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I just spoke about some superior beings that by definition can't be known in our current evolution's state.

Welcome to the forum.

Objectivism's version of Atheism is a denial of the existence of all the beings asserted arbitrarily in mysticism (supernaturalism), regardless of the religion's specific characterization of God or other supernatural beings. Therefore Objectivists are, as Dr. Peikoff put it,

a-thesist, as well as a-devilist, a-demonist, a-gremlinist. (Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 32)

But your claim is slightly different here, in that you're not explicitly saying that your being is supernatural; it is natural, but our current biological abilities (like perception) are not equipped to apprehend such beings.

Even still, the Objectivist view of knowledge is that it is contextual. In your first post you spoke of "Gods" existing, and in this post you give your definition of what such a God is. In order to substantiate your claim, in order to regard it as knowledge, you have to identify the context which brought you to that conclusion.

Unfortunately, by your own definition, we cannot know the existence of such beings, which includes you. Since you can present no context (by your own statements) which validates your claim of such superior beings existing, the rational response from the readers here is to throw out your claim as arbitrary, and no longer worth discussion.

I don't think that the Atheist position must rule out the existence of superior beings; like beings with faster cognitive processes or something like that. Hypothetically, if we ever did have conclusive evidence for the existence for such beings, then the Atheist could not rationally deny their existence; this would be contrary to the facts, and therefore irrational. The Atheist position, at least within Objectivism, rules out any supernatural aberration or dimension which is alleged to transcend existence, not natural facts (or future natural facts).

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I affirm that the man pictured in the option c-Agnostic is the more Objectivist of all, since the other possible candidate, the option d-Atheist is also a believer by faith in two things:

1-That outside man's mind don't exists any kind of superior "divine" entities which could be unreachable by our current sphere of understanding i.e. by our current level of mind's evolution.

He can't scientifically proof that.

2-He also believe (with concrete rational fundaments of course) in science, but forcefully he has to put also some degree of "faith" in some science's results, specially about complex scientific maters or everyday's new discoveries since he is not able to check every research, every premise, every theorem, etc. of the whole human knowledge, ever growing, ever changing.

Just to focus the discussion, your contention is that a proper application of Objectivist philosophical principles leads to agnosticism and not to atheism; I will argue the contrary. You've suggested a line of reasoning that you'll follow in making that case, and I understand what you're claiming well enough to agree that this is a debatable thesis, as long as you state clearly what you think "agnosticism" and "atheism" refers to (this is important just to be sure that you don't have a peculiar definition of "atheism" in mind). So please, go for the gusto and make your case.
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Thanks for the welcome

I never spoke about "Omnicience and Omnipotence" this is your idea of God (the Christian God probably). I just spoke about some superior beings that by definition can't be known in our current evolution's state. I am assuming here that the man's mind evolution will continue and in a couple million years more our mind will be as incomprehensible for us as ours would be for the Neanderthal cave-man. What will our mind be able to understand in the distant future? We don't know! Carl Sagan once said referring to the old question about Universe's origin: Why don't you stop trying to answer with God the question and just say "I don't know" (yet)

The Christian God is not the only God in history and is far from being a beautiful or creative story. Gods can be very different in shapes and abilities, take for example the Gods of the Mythology of the Ancient Greek Pantheon, isn't it a beautiful representation of man's virtues and evils, truth and lie, passion, struggle, life, death, fate, chance? Even when it is a fantasy?

Aristotle himself said something I totally agree with: "Happiness (Eudaimonia) thus understood is not a mood or temporary state, but a state achieved through a lifetime of virtuous action, accompanied by some measure of good fortune"

Well... Even when agnostic I sometimes "pray" in my own way to the Gods of "good fortune", this act (not any supernatural entity) contributes well to my own psycho-epistemology of reality helping me to remember that there are things that I definitely can't control (the frightening possibility of a serious decease of my 4 months baby, a car accident, an earthquake). It helps me to avoid excessive presumptuousness in front of fate.

I recommend here the Ayn Rand's Essay: "The Metaphysical versus the Man-made" from "Philosophy: Who Needs It"

This still all keeps the literary vein of your original post. My question to you, is what good does this particular line of thinking get you? It is conceptually very muddy. Why confuse the idea of an omnipotent God (the Christian, Jewish, Muslim god) who the vast majority of the worlds population would characterize as the God, with an super alien race? Why redefine agnosticism and atheism in such a way as to tip you hat to the Christians, Jews, and Muslims and then have to explain to them that you don't really mean God the way they do. Why "pray" to a God of "good fortune" to remind yourself that you are not omnipotent, when the fact that you are not omnipotent will suffice to remind you that you are not omnipotent. It may be literarily romantic, but I think it is conceptually confusing and while you certainly might not claim that it causes any damage (which I would dispute), it certainly ADDS NO VALUE to take the extra trouble to do it.

What this really does is blur the distinction between the possible and arbitrary which is crucial within Objectivism. If agnosticism is now redefined as being belief in the arbitrary existence of alternate complex life in the universe, well then this is a silly definition. As the arbitrary has no basis and should be given no credence until such time as there is evidence for it, and only then does it become a possibility.

Edited by KendallJ
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Even if we were confronted with an advanced being capable of manipulating mater or energy in ways incomprehensible to us we would not jump to the conclusion that the being was a god, even if, perhaps especially if that being claimed to be our creator.

I for one will not readily bow down to our alien overlords. ;)

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Just to focus the discussion, your contention is that a proper application of Objectivist philosophical principles leads to agnosticism and not to atheism; I will argue the contrary. You've suggested a line of reasoning that you'll follow in making that case, and I understand what you're claiming well enough to agree that this is a debatable thesis, as long as you state clearly what you think "agnosticism" and "atheism" refers to (this is important just to be sure that you don't have a peculiar definition of "atheism" in mind). So please, go for the gusto and make your case.

OK, good idea

Introduction:

First than nothing the definition given by EC: "atheism is a lack of belief or faiths"

is not correct according to my Oxford American Dictionary which says:

Atheism: The theory or belief that God does not exist

And the same dictionary also says:

Agnostic: A person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God

God: In certain other religions than Christianity, a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes

Lets now imagine that a "superhuman being" could be in relation to us something like we are in relation to ants. Ants cannot understand or perhaps even perceive us as beings since their senses and brains are so small and limited that we practically are "fate" for them in e.g. the case that we kill a dozen with our foot. We are "superants beings" for them "having power over nature and over ant's fortune".

And the extreme simplicity of their brains makes absolutely impossible to understand our life, our mind our goals, motives, science, etc.

My point:

If we define God only as the Christian or other monotheist Gods preached by several western religions an Objectivist has to be atheist

But if we take other expanded definitions of Gods like the one given above, an Objectivist has to be agnostic unless he has scientific proof that Gods don't exist

Because in this last case there is a huge conceptual difference between the two following sentences:

1-I don' believe in Gods (a personal choice that says nothing about the real existence of these Gods)

2-I affirm that Gods doesn't exist (an assertion that would require some proof of the Gods' non existence, specially if arguing with someone who believes in Gods)

PS: I am amazed with the intellectual level and commitment of this forum. Congratulations.

Even when I am newbie and this was my first post, I am proud and happy to be here.

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Even if we were confronted with an advanced being capable of manipulating mater or energy in ways incomprehensible to us we would not jump to the conclusion that the being was a god, even if, perhaps especially if that being claimed to be our creator.

I for one will not readily bow down to our alien overlords. ;)

Again: Please note that "Creator" "Omniscient" "Omnipotent" "Overlord" are attributes of the Christian God pictured on the Bible. Other literally thousands of Gods along the human history and cultures have completely different characteristics...

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