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Objectivist's View on Religion

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However I am having a hard time just dumping the belief in God simply because I can't prove it absolutely with means of perception currently available.

You're asking the wrong question, or at least beginning with the wrong premise. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend you read through the entire thread; Kendall J, DavidOdden, and Jake Ellison in particular.

The starting point is not: Why should I not believe in God. The question is: Why should I believe in God (or any god, for that matter)? What evidence do you have? As has been pointed out numerous times, most (all?) theologies define their particular god as unknowable and unobservable. They exist outside of knowledge, outside of reality, and outside reason. Gods are supernatural - they are outside nature. That is their defining characteristic, their prerequisite of "god-hood." By definition no evidence is possible for any god, therefore you have no reason to believe any of them exist.

This is not a matter of, "Well, there might be some unknown dimension where all the gods live (Olympus?)." Let's hypothesize such a place actually exists. What happens when we gain knowledge of such a place? Will we find all the gods there? Of course not, because once found, once they are brought into the knowable, the observable; once they are brought into knowledge, reality, and reason they cease to be gods by definition. In fact, they could never have been gods because we did find them - they existed in reality to be found else we could not have found them.

So, ask yourself the question: Why should I believe in God? Write down a list of reasons in one column of a piece of paper. Next to that, write down a list of reasons why you should not believe in unicorns, or any other arbitrary, fantastical being you wish to concoct. The sky, quite literally, is no limit.

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Of course not, because once found, once they are brought into the knowable, the observable; once they are brought into knowledge, reality, and reason they cease to be gods by definition.

See, this is the problem. My definition of God is not someone that is not knowable. It is just someone that we don't know yet. If we were to grow to the point where our reasoning abilities and our technological abilities were advanced enough to discover this being or energy force or whatever, then it would still exist just as it does today.

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My definition of God is not someone that is not knowable.
What do you mean "your definition of God"? The concept "God" is already defined; so presumably you're talking about something completely different. Then it should have a different name. Before you start "defining" a thing, you should first determine that there is a referent for the term.

We can settle the matter pretty easily, I think. Here's an actual photograph of God. She is kinda scary, and might be hard to get to know, but there we have the photographic evidence. Do you disagree?

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See, this is the problem. My definition of God is not someone that is not knowable. It is just someone that we don't know yet. If we were to grow to the point where our reasoning abilities and our technological abilities were advanced enough to discover this being or energy force or whatever, then it would still exist just as it does today.

sangra.gifYou’re not being clear enough. Are you a deist? Evidence is something based on observation that you can integrate without contradiction into the rest of your knowledge. A greater force is a mystical concept and a denial of the basic axioms. Philosophy invalidates any scientific claim if it violates principles established philosophically. To consider God is to reject the validity of reason, the need of objectivity, the processes of conceptual knowledge, the method of logic, the law of identity, the absolutism of reality, and so on.

sangra.gifYou cannot go from “There is no evidence of the possible.” to say “Therefore it is impossible.” If there is no evidence, the answer is zero. It cannot be judged neither as true nor false, but arbitrary. An arbitrary claim has no relation to man’s means of knowledge, and therefore it is inadmissible. “Possible” and “impossible” are both concepts within the scale of evidence. If there is no evidence for God, then he is outside that scale. Any discussion, consideration or argument of the question is an error.

sangra.gifEvery argument for God leads to a contradiction. If the existence of a greater force can be somehow demonstrated in the future, then God is not beyond nature. He would be a limited and finite entity, susceptible to proof, and therefore bound to identity and causality. You would have to integrate it without contradiction into your knowledge, which means that miracles and revelations would be totally incompatible. An existent apart from its identity cannot exist.

sangra.gifI’m sorry, but the only rational answer to your question is to dismiss it out of hand.

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The reason it's such an issue for me is this: when an Objectivist looks at a railroad, they say "this railroad was built by a man."

Actually, they may well say "this railroad was in all probability built by a man" because there is a significant amount of evidence that would support such an idea. There is zero evidence to point to a creator (let alone a specific creator) of the universe. The logic holds quite well if you simply look at the overwhelmingly different amounts of evidence in each case.

Secondly, you may be assuming that all Objectivist accept the Big Bang Theory as TRUTH as opposed to accepting it as a plausible sounding THEORY. The Objectivists I know don't just accept theories as truths.

What you seem to be missing is that the mere existence of something is not necessarily evidence of the origin of that something. In some cases existence alone may suggest an origin of some specific nature and in other cases it may not.

You have to follow the right line of logic before you can claim that the line of logic is flawed. You are not following the right line of logic.

I disagree, she is most definitely a goddess :)

Summer Glau kicks..... err... yes, she is a goddess.

Do you know there isn't one, or do you choose to ignore any possibility?

What evidence do you have that it is a possibility?

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... a supreme being ...
The way you are conceiving of this entity, it can never be known nor proven, nor can its intents or wishes be known or proven. Such a conception is as useful as saying: "something caused everything", and leaving it at that. Edited by softwareNerd
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This isn't Ayn Rand but from Leonard Peikoff (her intellectual heir),

Taken from: Ayn Rand Lexicon

To me, agnosticism is, in many cases is unjustified. I can see how it is just an avoidance of the burden of proof for many dubious claims such as the existence of God, or for so-called 'supernatural' phenomenon.

Still, I wonder, how does Objectivism deal with the things that we don't know we don't know? It seems well equipped to make statements about what we know we don't know, or what we know we know, but what about that which we don't know we don't know?

Of course you can't explicitly define or identify something you don't know that you don't know, but it still must be relevant at least conceptually. Or is it nothing more than a free-floating abstraction?

Just wondering.

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To me, agnosticism is, in many cases is unjustified. I can see how it is just an avoidance of the burden of proof for many dubious claims such as the existence of God, or for so-called 'supernatural' phenomenon.

Still, I wonder, how does Objectivism deal with the things that we don't know we don't know? It seems well equipped to make statements about what we know we don't know, or what we know we know, but what about that which we don't know we don't know?

Of course you can't explicitly define or identify something you don't know that you don't know, but it still must be relevant at least conceptually. Or is it nothing more than a free-floating abstraction?

Just wondering.

sangra.gifThis is what Ayn Rand called the Reification of the Zero. You’re basically asking: “How do Objectivists deal with nothing?” The statements you mention are impossible to think about, as they’re detached from any existents. Why would anybody deal with a total blank? You cannot start from a void in order to evaluate that which is disconnected from man’s means of knowledge. Also, to say “I don’t know I don’t know” is a stupid superficiality, when “I don’t know” is all you need to say. Nothing is nothing, and it can't be discussed. Your question doesn’t mean anything, so I don’t know what kind of answer you are after.

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How about this:

1) Existence exists.

2) Conciousness is the act of perceiving existence.

3) God is the source of all existence.

I'm still reading up, I'll work on formulating this better once I have more of a footing :)

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How about this:

1) Existence exists.

2) Conciousness is the act of perceiving existence.

3) God is the source of all existence.

I'm still reading up, I'll work on formulating this better once I have more of a footing :)

sangra.gifWhat answer are you expecting to get? Do you really think that raising these points is going to make any difference? The idea of God being the source of all existence is a contradiction of every essential of a rational metaphysics. Existence exists, an only existence exists. Any form of existence beyond existence is not only a contradiction in terms, but a violation of the basic axioms of philosophy.

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What evidence do you have that it is a possibility?

My evidence is the definition of God. A supernatural being. We can't have evidence for or against it. We never will have evidence for or against it. Now you are all going to come in saying "Then why consider it?" I consider it because it interests me and brings me enjoyment. I'm not going to attempt to prove something impossible to prove, including whether or not God exists. I leave the question of "Does a God exist?" unanswered. You say no, it does not exist. Because of this, you are making a claim with no evidence backing it and that goes against reason, does it not?

And stop avoiding my damn question.

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My evidence is the definition of God. A supernatural being. We can't have evidence for or against it. We never will have evidence for or against it.

I can tell you that you aren't going to have much success convincing anyone around here of anything if you cant go four words without contradicting yourself. I think you have to start by asking yourself: Why do I believe? Since you have ruled out any evidentiary basis for your belief, there isn't much reason for any rational person to buy into it then, is there?

Edited by fletch
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My evidence is the definition of God. A supernatural being. We can't have evidence for or against it. We never will have evidence for or against it.

So you call a definition as evidence of the possibility of a God? Well, that's no evidence. Try again?

You say no, it does not exist. Because of this, you are making a claim with no evidence backing it and that goes against reason, does it not?

What goes against reason is having faith in the possibility of something for which there is no evidence to begin with. Faith denies reason. My claim is that there is evidence that goes against the existence of a god.

I say it doesn't exist because there is no evidence of its existence AND such a being would violate some known physical laws. Now, you can ponder all you like that something can exist without evidence, and you can cast aside your knowledge in of physical laws in favor of some belief that violates those physical laws all you want, but that does not create possibility just because someone came up with a definition and you enjoy pondering such things.

And stop avoiding my damn question.

First, I haven't avoided you question. Second, I can pretty much assure you that you will not participate on this forum very long if you address me or any other member like this again.

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I leave the question of "Does a God exist?" unanswered. You say no, it does not exist. Because of this, you are making a claim with no evidence backing it and that goes against reason, does it not?
The following has probably been said 20 times all over the forum, so I apologize if it repetitive: it is unreasonable for you to presume that a race of undetectable Kaetok parasites sit upon your head and are the source of all your thoughts.
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... and to hopefully bring it all home for you, JUtley, since it would be wrong (using your logic) for you to assert there is NOT a race of undetectable Kaetok parasites sitting on your head causing your thoughts, it's entirely possible (using your logic) that your thoughts - your knowledge, your reason - to be not your own, but to be the result of Kaetok parasites. Your knowledge and reason would not be your knowledge or your reason; your thoughts would not be your thoughts; your mind would not be your mind.

So, do you maintain the possibility that your mind is not your mind?

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I'm not sure I fully understand the "prove a negative" argument. I can prove there is not a parasite on my head or in my head by showing to you that everything that is on my head is X minus a parasite.

The same way I can prove there is not a fire-breathing dragon in my garage, by showing that everything that is in my garage is X minus a fire-breathing dragon. Or that I can prove that 4 is not greater than 5 by showing that 1+1+1+1=4+1=5.

Surely you can prove a negative?

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I'm not sure I fully understand the "prove a negative" argument. I can prove there is not a parasite on my head or in my head by showing to you that everything that is on my head is X minus a parasite.

Not if its an UNDETECTABLE parasite, you see? God, like the Parasite on your head, is *undetectable* - so you can't prove he doesn't exist because you can't detect it to prove it's not there!

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Surely you can prove a negative?

Of course you can in some instances. I can prove that my pocket doesn't contain coins by turning it inside out. It is a rule of logic that you are never called upon to prove a negative. Something for which there is no evidence is not connected to reality. It's arbitrary.

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It is a rule of logic that you are never called upon to prove a negative.

Sure you are. If I say "prove a negative" I am calling upon you to prove a negative. Anyone can "call upon you to prove" anything if they say it. I don't get it.

Not if its an UNDETECTABLE parasite, you see? God, like the Parasite on your head, is *undetectable* - so you can't prove he doesn't exist because you can't detect it to prove it's not there!

Yes I know there is no difference between something that is invisible, noncorporeal, has no heat signature, takes up no space, and leaves no detectable traces upon existence, and something that is nothing at all. I'm talking about the "you can't prove a negative" argument used by Ayn Rand. Why say "you can't prove a negative" if you can prove a negative?

Edited by 2046
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