Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Arguing about the existence of a god.

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I'm kind of new to how things work on forums, so bear with me if this whole thing seems a bit disjointed.

Okay so I've always had trouble trying to convince people that when they say believing in a specific god or religion your not using reason or logic you are using faith.

Every time though I get the same answer back about how "If we exist then something must have started it all."

I always answer that with something along the lines of "Then wouldn't the next logical question be what created the thing that created us?"

After that point whoever I am arguing the point with just backs up and the whole argument keeps looping.

So what I'm asking is this even worth arguing? Is there anyway to further the argument for either side after that? In terms of logic I can't see any way to disprove them other then asking what created a god but after that it really just turns into a completely unanswerable question to me.

Edited by Dark Sheep
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your reply is perfectly logical. You've killed their argument; and they're speechless :dough:

Not sure what more you're looking for. Could you explain what leaves you unsatisfied about this?

I don't know, I guess people are just stupid and I really wish they would just see that what they are saying isn't within reason but I guess thats asking for too much from some. They are going to believe what they are going to believe I guess. That's kind of depressing to me but oh well.

My only other question would be how to argue people when they bring up Plato's Allegory of the cave as a pretense to argue for the existence of a god or "higher existence". Its really stupid but I can't really argue it.

If your not familiar with the Allegory of the Cave here is a link http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/GREECE/ALLEGORY.HTM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My only other question would be how to argue people when they bring up Plato's Allegory of the cave as a pretense to argue for the existence of a god or "higher existence". Its really stupid but I can't really argue it.

That's not an argument for anything, it's an argument against the possibility of having any knowledge at all. It's a refusal to even use reason. That's why you can't argue with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My only other question would be how to argue people when they bring up Plato's Allegory of the cave as a pretense to argue for the existence of a god or "higher existence". Its really stupid but I can't really argue it.

Here's a forum post about the allegory of the cave, I've been posting to.

Post: Plato's Cave

I've heard allot of strange interpretations of the allegory, but it's hard for me to understand how someone can use it to argue for the existence of god.

Arguments for the existence of god

There are probably about 25 so-called arguments for the existence of god and all the one's I've heard are pretty lame, based on no facts, and/or lead to infinite regress like the one you mentioned.

There is no valid way to argue for the existence of something that does not exist. Think of arugmentation like trying to prove a case of murder. One needs to gather evidence and facts to support a conclusion of "yes" or "no".

There is as much evidence for the Easter Bunny as there is for god, because the concepts are equally as baseless. This goes for trying to prove the existence of any fictional character in any book, or any other object someone makes up.

I've always had trouble trying to convince people that when they say believing in a specific god or religion your not using reason or logic you are using faith.

It sounds like you are trying "to convince" them of something they already know, i.e., they know they are using faith. The major point of religious mysticism, is to provide average people with a rationalization to not think; a rationalization for which they can use to temporarily alleviate their anxiety about their impending death.

If I were you, I'd ask myself why I feel sadness for such people. Don't keep yourself from feeling the sadness, just try to figure out what underlying, deep premises you hold which are causing this sadness in you.

Reason is man's means of survival. It is reason and the innovation and production which follow from it, which creates human progress, and which has brought us to this great age of technology & innovation. Whether you know it our not, according to history, we are living in an AMAZING age. The wonders of reason are around us every where. These are great times, regardless of the philosophical, academic, and economic trends.

There has never been a time on earth where so much is possible to so many, and if you are lucky to have been born somewhere, where freedom is maintained, there is so much for you to achieve.

Life is far too short to be worrying about people who worship death, people who make escaping their own anxiety their highest priority.

My advice to you: choose a career, i.e., choose a central productive goal for your life and get to achieving it. The people you are wasting time arguing with, have nothing to contribute to this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've heard allot of strange interpretations of the allegory, but it's hard for me to understand how someone can use it to argue for the existence of god.

Well the way an old English teacher of mine put it. The cave is the reality we all know, while the fire, the shadows and the chains are the materialistic things that are holding us back from the truth. As you know the story progresses and the one man escapes his chains, eventually becoming “enlightened” by reaching the surface which is heaven/God in his explanation. That was his thoughts on it though. Half the year we talked about Puritan morals and literature which along with being a total bore (to me at least) was filled with a bunch of BS about how about how everyone except God is shit and thus deserves nothing they have. Pretense for numerous social justice lectures, which also got really annoying.

I mean I don’t agree with it, but that’s how the argument is at least presented. As much as I heard about Plato that year I didn’t ever think that anything he taught would mesh with those who advocated logic, though I was wrong about that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question of where everything came from is a perplexing one. But remind him that just because we don't have a naturalistic explanation for where the Big Bang came from, that doesn't necessarily mean a god started it. Some scientists propose the multiverse hypothesis. Richard Dawkins says in one of his books that he believes it solves the infinite regression problem. I don't think it does because it begs the question, what created the multiverse? It's the same problem theists have when you ask them who/what created god. I don't think there are any good answers to this question right now, but that doesn't mean one will never come.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question of where everything came from is a perplexing one.
Why? It's a senseless question. You can ask where a specific thing comes from, and the answer would be some other specific thing. To presuppose that all things have to "come from" some other thing contradicts the assumption of the question -- that we are asking about the source of all things.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question of where everything came from is a perplexing one. But remind him that just because we don't have a naturalistic explanation for where the Big Bang came from

The question is perplexing because it is invalid.

Everything is everything. Everything aka the universe/reality/existence is all there is, so there is no other "place" for it to come "from" just as there's no place for it to go "to". All places are contained with in it by definition.

There is no outside the universe. E.g., if what we are calling the universe has a second part which is "outside" of it, then we have artificially limited the conception of "universe".

The universe by definition is everything. So, if something came "from" some place, it came from some place in the universe, because there is no other place for it to come "from". Again, if there is some other place we are calling "from," then it is part of the universe.

One can not step outside the universe. Nor can anything proceed the universe because whatever we say came before the universe, was also a part of the universe.

Edited by phibetakappa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why? It's a senseless question. You can ask where a specific thing comes from, and the answer would be some other specific thing. To presuppose that all things have to "come from" some other thing contradicts the assumption of the question -- that we are asking about the source of all things.

It's not a senseless question. It's essentially asking the question: is the universe eternal or was there a Big Bang? Calling it senseless is simply shutting one's mind to avoid the same problem theists have.

Edited by Zedic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not a senseless question. It's essentially asking the question: is the universe eternal or was there a Big Bang? Calling it senseless is simply shutting one's mind to avoid the same problem theists have.

DavidOdden is more than capable of defending himself, but I believe he is using a similar argument that I used in my post. I.e., the question is epistemologically improper, because it smuggles in a certain set of philosophic assumptions, which contradict O'ist principles.

For example, the question: "Who created the universe?" is improper because it assumes that there must be a creator, implying a primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

In the same way if someone asks, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Implies you have been beating your wife.

The question is "senseless" not in the sense that it is a "bad" question, or the questioner is bad for asking it, but it is "senseless" if one assumes the O'ist philosophy regarding the concept "universe," i.e., that there is nothing outside the universe, so there is no other place for the universe to come from, because that place, by definition, is part of the universe. (see my post above).

All these type of questions lead to an infinite regress.

Also, you stated,

It's essentially asking the question: is the universe eternal or was there a Big Bang?

The concept "universe" supports it's having the attribute of being "eternal", while also supporting the theory of there having been a "big bang, i.e., being eternal does not preclude there being a "big bang".

Eternal means literally "out of time." The universe is eternal because the concept of "time" only applies to relations of objects inside the universe. E.g., time for us is a measurement and/or the relation of the motion of the earth as it revolves around the sun. We use an instrument (time piece) which is calibrated to move in relation to the motion of the earth around the sun, and this is validly what "time" is. In other words, as the universe is by definition everything there is, it can not be viewed as moving in relation to some other object, thus it is "out of time," i.e., the concept of time does not apply, as the necessary context for the concept of time to hold for the object "universe," does not exist.

Conceptually "big bang" can not validly mean the creation of something (the universe) from literal nothing. If a big bang occurred, it too occurred within the universe, it did not create it. The big bang can not validly be thought of as the starting point of the universe, but rather an event which occurred within the universe, and thus the bang does not explain the "origin" of the universe.

As stated the concept of universe can not have an "origin" as the concept origin only applies to objects within the universe. E.g., if we follow the line of thought that something we are calling "the universe," has an origin, then we are arbitrarily delimiting the concept of universe. Properly, the scope of the concept of "universe" is everything, thus both the object we are calling the "universe", and what we have called "the origin," of that object are both within THE universe by definition. There is by definition, nothing outside the universe.

The concept of existence (the universe), is an axiom. It is a primary. It can not be analysed any further. All one can say is, "Existence Exists".

Regards,

Edited by phibetakappa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For example, the question: "Who created the universe?" is improper because it assumes that there must be a creator, implying a primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

I wasn't asking the question "who created the universe?" but "how did the universe begin?" I don't think the latter question assumes a creator, which is precisely what I said. I wasn't trying to start a debate or anything, just trying to offer my own refutation for the OP.

The concept of existence (the universe), is an axiom. It is a primary. It can not be analysed any further. All one can say is, "Existence Exists".

Since we're on the topic, I want to know. Does Objectivism have anything in particular to say about the "origins" of the universe? Does it simply assume that it has existed eternally because of that primary axiom? This also leads me to ask, what comes first, that axiom or what actually happened? If the Big Bang theory is indeed correct, then I hardly think the axioms of a philosopher 13 billion years ago changes anything more than what's in our heads. I understand what I'm asking are loaded words. But at the same time I think it's a valid question.

Edited by Zedic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not a senseless question. It's essentially asking the question: is the universe eternal or was there a Big Bang?
If you want to know if there was a Big Bang (whatever that means), that isn't how to ask. You have to ask about how a particular part of the universe was created -- that which exists now and has existed for some 15 billion years. The question "where did it come from" presupposes that there existed a something that was the source of the universe, and is separate from the universe. Such a something cannot exist -- that is why the question is meaningless. You might ask how one part of the universe created the other half of the universe, but there's a contradiction in assuming that something is and is not in the universe. That is what your question presupposes.

It is irrelevant that you were hoping to refute the idea of a creator, since even the idea of "creating the universe from something" is self-contradictory. As ΦΒΚ said, there is no other "place" for it to come "from" just as there's no place for it to go "to"

You've changed the question now. What does your most recent question "how did the universe begin?" mean? Begin doing what? Begin being like what?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wasn't asking the question "who created the universe?" but "how did the universe begin?" I don't think the latter question assumes a creator, which is precisely what I said. I wasn't trying to start a debate or anything, just trying to offer my own refutation for the OP.

I was using the question "Who created the universe?" as another example of the same type of invalid question.

The questions: who created the universe, or how did the universe begin, are both invalid.

The question how did the universe begin, assumes that there is something before the universe, from which it can begin. But the concepts "begin" and/or "end" only apply to objects within the universe. There is no such thing as something existing outside the universe from which it could "begin" or "end." The concept begin and the like require as specific context for them to be valid. In particular, the concept of "begin" demarcates a point in time, but as I stated the universe is eternal for all the reasons I provided in my post.

Since we're on the topic, I want to know. Does Objectivism have anything in particular to say about the "origins" of the universe? Does it simply assume that it has existed eternally because of that primary axiom?

I answered that in my post. The concept of "Existence" or "Universe" is axiomatic.

(Note: Ayn Rand seldom uses the term "universe" in this context, preferring the term "existence" when she is speaking technically about axiomatic concepts; and, there may be subtle differences between the concepts "Existence," and "Universe"; but I was intending to provide a link between my use of the term "universe," and Ayn Rand's use of "Existence," and how she formulates the point. see ITOE 241)

There is great information about this topic in the books "O'ism Philo of AR" as well as "Intro to O'ist Epist." (ITOE). E.g., in ITOE there's a chapter regarding the axiomatic concepts.

For example, here is how L. Peikoff puts the point regarding the concept of cause and the universe, OPAR pg 16:

The concept of "cause" is inapplicable to the universe; by definition, there is nothing outside the totality to act as a cause. The universe simply is; it is an irreducible primary.

The term "irreducible primary" is a technical one, but both these books provide a great deal of information about how O'ism uses concepts, and what it means by an axiom, axiomatic concept and/or "irreducible primary."

But as a rule: O'ism does not establish arbitrary axioms then make assumptions about them. Instead, an axiom is used to state a fundamental fact about the nature of the universe, a fact which all human knowledge depends because it is so basic.

To restate: the universe is "eternal" because the concept eternal has a particular definition, which does not apply to the universe, for all the reasons I provided regarding meaning of the concept of "time".

I wasn't trying to start a debate or anything, just trying to offer my own refutation for the OP.

What premise are you trying to refute?

Edited by phibetakappa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem I'm having is, an axiom is something that exists in our minds, it's a human concept. It doesn't make much sense to me to impose that on the external world. To say that the universe couldn't of had a beginning because of the axiom is essentially saying, the universe has this property because my mind accepts a particular idea as axiomatic.

What premise are you trying to refute?

The premise that since we exist, a god must of started it all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem I'm having is, an axiom is something that exists in our minds, it's a human concept. It doesn't make much sense to me to impose that on the external world. To say that the universe couldn't of had a beginning because of the axiom is essentially saying, the universe has this property because my mind accepts a particular idea as axiomatic.

Your position is self-refuting. If you will not accept axioms because they are "something that exists in our minds", then you will accept no argument whether based on logic or not. So what is the point of you even taking a position? Why post here? Why ask a question at all and expect any answer? It is all something that exists in your mind.

Edited by Lazariun
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem I'm having is, an axiom is something that exists in our minds, it's a human concept. It doesn't make much sense to me to impose that on the external world. To say that the universe couldn't of had a beginning because of the axiom is essentially saying, the universe has this property because my mind accepts a particular idea as axiomatic.

Axioms are not concepts detached from reality; they conform to the facts of reality. You begin by looking at the world and grasp them as a consequence. What you're doing is to invert this procedure, and that is why it doesn’t make sense to you. Human concepts do not pertain to your mind alone; they have a metaphysical basis. Remember that existence precedes consciousness, and since existence has primacy, it sets the terms. Facts are not changeable, and contradictions cannot be "imposed" on reality. Axiomatic concepts exist in your mind because they’re self evident and they work. A person who denies the axioms is not even worth paying attention to. Nobody can attempt to deny an axiomatic concept without reaffirming it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem I'm having is, an axiom is something that exists in our minds, it's a human concept. It doesn't make much sense to me to impose that on the external world.

*There is no such thing as a non-human concept. Concepts are all human. Concepts are the human mode of consciousness. If we, as humans, are communicating, we are doing it in concepts.

As I stated I am not trying to 'impose' a concept on the external world. This will not work. The external world is what it is, independent of any consciousness of it.

In this case, the concept of "external world," or "existence," or "the universe,” all have a certain meaning; a meaning used to describe the way we observe things in existence. E.g., the universe means, everything that exists.

If you claim the "universe" has a beginning, then the meaning you are giving to the concept of universe for you is not everything that exists, but is only everything that exists up until some arbitrary point.

What is being stated in effect is “I arbitrarily designate as the ‘beginning’: X." This does not include all the antecedent factors, which proceeded the arbitrarily chosen, arbitrarily delimited version of the concept of "universe."

So, for you the "external world" is the "external world", plus the "external-external world" on the outside of that one, which caused it. The moment you attempt this conceptually, you have the need for an "external-external-external world" on the outside of that to explain the cause of that one. In your attempt to explain the first, you need a second to explain it, and then you need a third to explain the second, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.

If any procedure is attempting to 'impose' a concept on the "external world" this procedure is. You impose your emotional need to have "beginnings," and "ends" on your "human concept" of the external world.

Furthermore, if one does not like the infinite regress this procedure produces, and they arbitrarily just substitute “nothing,” to replace antecedent factors to explain the first world, there are still inescapable problems.

Such an attempt to arbitrarily delimit the concept of ‘universe,” by inventing a ‘beginning’, destroys the concept of ‘beginning,’ making it mean a event, which is proceeded by NOTHING. It destroys the concepts of ‘cause and effect,” by inventing a new type of effect that can proceed from NOTHING.

Concepts are tools for understanding existence, not the reverse

For O'ism the concept of an axiom is not made up, and then used to arbitrarily delude ourselves into believing the universe cannot have a beginning.

No, the procedure is reversed. All concepts including axiomatic concepts are selected to describe what we, first, observe about the nature of reality.

In this case, the concept of 'universe' is used to describe everything that is.

In the case of the concept of axiom, it to is not arbitrarily invented, it is a tool to describe what we find when we observe and conceptualize existence. It is no different from observing an object which moves its self around, hops, and has long ears, then needing a concept to differentiated from all other animals, and using the concept "rabbit." So, what fact of reality does an axiom identify?

In ITOE, Ayn Rand puts the point:

"An axiomatic concept is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest" (55)

Granted this is very abstract, and difficult to understand, but an axiom is a concept designating a certain kind of fact which is first observed. When we look out into the world, we find certain phenomena, which can not, by their nature, be analyzed any further. Existence is such a concept. There is no way to analyze the concept of existence any further, because all we can relate existence to, is other existence, which doesn't help us. Therefore, we need a concept to describe this phenomena. The concept of axiom is such a concept.

The concept of universe is such a primary concept.

Again, the proper use of concepts is not the other way around. It is not, first make-up concepts, then impose them on reality. NO. It is look out at reality, and select and utilize concepts to describe what we find.

In the case of axioms, and/or axiomatic concepts: these concepts, like all other concepts are selected and applied to make sense of what we observe

AGAIN: not the other way around!

External world then concepts, NOT concepts then external world.

Existence first, consciousness next.

Not consciousness first, then the external world.

In Galt’s Speech, in “Atlas Shrugged”, Ayn Rand states the point this way,

"If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness” (933).
Edited by phibetakappa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you're doing is to invert this procedure, and that is why it doesn’t make sense to you.

No, that isn't what I am doing. I said that's what it looks like phibetakappa is doing. DavidOdden seems to be saying the same thing:

The question "where did it come from" presupposes that there existed a something that was the source of the universe, and is separate from the universe. Such a something cannot exist

(Emphasis added)

Such a something cannot exist? By whose authority? The axiom's?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, that isn't what I am doing. I said that's what it looks like phibetakappa is doing. DavidOdden seems to be saying the same thing:

(Emphasis added)

Such a something cannot exist? By whose authority? The axiom's?

The definition of "universe" as "everything that exists."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The definition of "universe" as "everything that exists."

"The Universe" used to be the Earth. Then it used to be solar system. And then it was the galaxy. We then found that there are more galaxies than just our own. Yet we can arbitrarily state that "everything that exists" can not include anything like a multiverse because....?

Sure, I can understand a reasoned argument against a multiverse. But if it needs to be explained then it's not self evident. So in that case, how can it be an axiom?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

". . . if it needs to be explained then it's not self evident. So in that case, how can it be an axiom?" There are people who need it spelled out to them how consciousness is an irrefutable, self-evident axiom. That doesn't mean consciousness is in fact not self-evident and/or an axiom. "Self-evident" is not necessarily a synonym for "obvious." Especially with centuries of bad philosophy floating around obscuring the self-evident, it isn't that uncommon for people to not just know something can't possibly be further questioned or broken down and that such an inability does not necessarily mean there is something wrong either with your thinking or that such a thing must be wrong.

As for "multiverses," I don't think the argument is that there can't be certain further expanses of space and stuff so much as that such a thing would be improper perhaps to call a "multiverse" as "universe" is meant to describe the totality of all that exists. So if we find more stuff exists, it too is just more of the universe that we are now made aware of. And even aside from if you want to argue over the name, such "multiverses" certainly still would qualify as part of existence and so aren't properly to be seen as a source for existence itself. You can discuss if these things which have been called multiverses can and do exist and even if they may be responsible for the big bang or whatever else perhaps may have gotten the vast expanse of things we are in to its current general arrangement, but that isn't the same as an argument for existence itself coming into being either still.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...