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Argument for the existence of God

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"Explain the problem with it. If you're going to argue that the circle needs a cause then you also have to argue that god needs a cause."

I have to? Really? Gee, somehow I'm not seeing it....

A circle is a geometric shape. It's an abstract concept in one's mind, unless, of course, it happens to be an attribute of an actual existent (a marble, a basketball, etc. -- which are all existents with causes).

The universe is not a circle (actually, it's sort of saddle-shaped). So just wtf does a geometric abstraction have to do with the cause of the universe?

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"Explain the problem with it. If you're going to argue that the circle needs a cause then you also have to argue that god needs a cause."

I have to? Really? Gee, somehow I'm not seeing it....

A circle is a geometric shape. It's an abstract concept in one's mind, unless, of course, it happens to be an attribute of an actual existent (a marble, a basketball, etc. -- which are all existents with causes).

The universe is not a circle (actually, it's sort of saddle-shaped). So just wtf does a geometric abstraction have to do with the cause of the universe?

Aside from how you have chosen to grasp avila's law of causality (i.e. because man-made entities have man-made causes, the super, natural entities must have supernatural causes), you totally missed the analogy presented.

Is the nice thing about floating abstractions the fog they produce obscuring the capacity to understand with a mirage of that which can be imagined?

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I never presented that as my "law of causality".

Not explicitly.

And requires a watchmaker...

Oh yeah, that's right. It is not what you said, it is what your professor had said.

Of course, when I was putting the bid in on my house, my real estate agent told me that the purchase agreement should contain a few weasal clauses, just in case.

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Meaning infinite regress of causes.....Again, you have real problems, then, with the laws of thermodynamics (such as entropy).

I would simply point out that physical laws are observed patterns of how the universe works. They are not "laws" in the sense of enforcing how the universe works in all contexts and at all times past/present/future. While it is definitely a goal of science to explain the universe through "laws" that are valid in all contexts and at all times, you cannot presume that we have reached that goal.

There may certainly have been a big bang 14 billion years ago, but it doesn't mean it was the "beginning of existence". It is simply another event to be explained; and if/when it is explained, that explanation will necessarily involve the interaction of existents to produce the observed effect.

Edited by brian0918
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"I would simply point out that physical laws are observed patterns of how the universe works. They are not "laws" in the sense of enforcing how the universe works in all contexts and at all times past/present/future."

Agreed. However, this then negates your later statement that "if/when it is explained, that explanation will necessarily involve the interaction of existents to produce the observed effect" -- "necessarily"? How do you know that, when you've just said that physical laws may not be a factor in "all contexts and at all times past/present/future"?

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"necessarily"? How do you know that

Because a valid explanation necessarily references existents. To explain something is to identify and describe its underlying nature. That description must necessarily reference existents - it must place new knowledge in the context of prior knowledge. Saying "God did it" is not a valid explanation, as "God" is a floating abstraction, not connected in any way to prior knowledge.

Edited by brian0918
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Proof of the contradictions that exist within the concept of "god"

A is A.

Which means a "thing" is.

Which means a "thing" is something.

Which means a "thing" has an essence - a nature unique to its identity.

Man is Man.

Which means Man is.

Which means Man is (exists) something (Man)

Which means Man has an essence - a nature unique to his identity

I am. (I exist)

I am myself (I have a unique identity)

I am myself- and I know it (I possess consciousness)

Every "thing" I know exists according to its nature, whether I know that nature or not.

Every "thing" has a unique identity. An apple is an apple. It cannot be an orange at the same time that it is an apple.

Every "thing" is an existent- it exists in accordance to the Law of Identity (A is A).

Identity is defined by the nature of the existent. (What it is is what it is)

Every existent has limitations. (An apple cannot be an orange simultaneously)

Every existent's limitations or- every existent's definition or- every existent- exists within reality (is metaphysical)

Reality constitutes everything that exists. If something is it is within a context.

Every existent has an identity- which means has limitations.

Every limitation is dictated by reality, the context in which it exists.

Every existent is of a certain quantity (matter)

All apples weigh something according to a quantitative measurement (a standard; ie. ounces)

All trees can be measured based on the three dimensions: height, width, depth.

Because all existents are made up of a certain quantity, all existents are finite.

Apples cannot be 6 ounces AND 100 ounces. Either-Or. Never a contradiction.

Apples with regards to any descriptive measurement (height, weight, color, texture, taste) are finite- meaning they have a specific identity.

All Existents are finite by definition.

No Existents can be infinite.

Infinity does not exist within reality- within existence

Existence, the context for all existents is finite.

Infinity = non existent- non metaphysical- or literally not within reality

Infinite = impossible to exist within a finite (the universe)

An infinite being- god- cannot exist.

An infinite being breaks the law of identity.

God cannot be infinite and yet be some thing.

Any thing has an identity- which means limitations- which means is finite.

If he is only 6' tall he is not infinite (in a metaphysical sense)

If he is only 3' wide he is not infinite (in a metaphysical sense)

God is infinite = God is (not within reality) = God does not exist.

God does not exist metaphysically- which means he does not exist within reality.

Any attempt to prove God requires one to discard reality and to presume a supernatural realm.

Supernatural realm = "above nature" = outside of reality = outside of knowledge = outside of existence = non existence.

A God cannot create existence.

A consciousness cannot exist without a context- without reality- without existence.

God cannot exist within nothing.

A consciousness cannot create except through a finite identity (ie: a body - that exists within a reality) by obeying reality (natural laws; ie: gravity)

A consciousness cannot create anything except through reshaping the pre-existing existents (matter)

A consciousness cannot know unless there is some thing (an existent within reality) to know

A consciousness cannot exist outside of context.

God cannot be the source of existence- he cannot be the source of the universe.

Therefore god cannot be omnipotent. God cannot choose to create a boulder that he himself cannot lift. Therefore god is limited. contradiction.

An existent without limitations to its identity does not exist.

Edited by Jonny Glat
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  • 1 month later...

Therefore god cannot be omnipotent. God cannot choose to create a boulder that he himself cannot lift. Therefore god is limited. contradiction.

An existent without limitations to its identity does not exist.

I agree with everything you have said however humans are the creator of what you view as God. Perhaps God is limited, maybe he is finite. How would one know?

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There are some problems with a few of your premises. I'll list a few:

"Every existent has limitations. (An apple cannot be an orange simultaneously)".

I'm nit-picking on this one, as I know (and agree) with what you're trying to say, but I think "limitations" is the wrong word to use here.

"Every existent is of a certain quantity (matter)"

Not true. My thoughts as I type this certainly exist, but they have no matter. The difference between a corpse and a living man is not a question of weights or measurements, but the absence of the soul (understood here to mean "animating principle"). Emotions exist, are real, but are not of matter. Likewise honor or virtue.

"Because all existents are made up of a certain quantity, all existents are finite."

"All Existents are finite by definition.

No Existents can be infinite.

Infinity does not exist within reality- within existence

Existence, the context for all existents is finite."

Because of the problems just noted, this chain of premises is false. Also, many Objectivists posit that the universe ("all that is") is infinite.

"An infinite being- god- cannot exist.

An infinite being breaks the law of identity.

God cannot be infinite and yet be some thing."

Again, you should read some of the threads here that go into the idea that existence is infinite. If the Objectivist position is that existence is infinite (and I'm not saying that it is, only that some Objectivists here seem to think it is), then this argument fails.

"Any attempt to prove God requires one to discard reality and to presume a supernatural realm."

I would suggest you read Aquinas' "ways" regarding the existence of God. He does not start out with the assumption of a supernatural being, he starts with observable data (causation, etc.) and reaches his conclusions from there.

I have to run, so I can't address the rest. But anyway, I hope you see that your argument has some problems.

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I was always dead-set against theism because I found it to be the antithesis of a reasonable view of reality.

That being said, I have recently become friends with a woman who is very intelligent, but a theist!?!?!? Joking aside, we have discussed this very issue on countless occasions. I do not wish to marginalize her viewpoint, but she did make many compelling arguments. Most of our discussion was related to the faith/reason dichotomy...terms which she holds to not be mutually exclusive. In terms of Rand's arguments, my friend analyzed the three axioms which Rand used to begin her philosophy: existence, identity, consciousness.

The fact that Rand holds existence as a primary/self-evident is the reason she rejects faith/mysticism/God. She holds that existence exists; that it always was and will always be. This does not necessarily say anything about God, only that existence is. Rand rejects God because He is considered to be the first cause i.e. the cause of existence. Rand's metaphysics discounts this possibility...remember, existence has always been and always will be (This is very Aristotle, though he posited that there was an unmoved mover who was the first cause of motion...this conception is quite different than the modern notion of God. The unmoved mover isn't a bodily thing, it is a 'thought which thinks itself'. It is not quite the modern conception of God because the unmoved mover does only one thing, thinks, concerning one object, itself). But, notice that Rand's axioms do nothing to disprove the existence or God...in essence, she doesn't even comment on the possibility.

Rand rejects faith as the antithesis of reason, but my friend makes the argument that Rand's adherence to reason does not necessarily preclude faith. Consider that, in a way, Rand has a certain 'faith' in reason...one cannot know what results reason will bring; one cannot always predict the course that reason will lead or the ends that reason may achieve. In a way, we trust that reason, for better or for worse, will take us forward...even when we are uncertain of where it will go and how far it will take us. This isn't a 'blind-faith', if you'll grant me such a term...we do have some reasons to believe that Reason will perform in such-and-such way. But, in the end, we put a certain kind of faith in the human mind even though we know that human cognition has limits. We trust, sometimes without real knowledge, that reason is more right than wrong and more good than evil.

Perhaps most objectivists will disagree with this interpretation, but I find it to be compelling--if only in part. My friend could say much more about it and it really is an interesting perspective to think over

Edited by RuleofLaw
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Man has a strong tendency to anthropomorphize concepts. The fact that man has done so to the concept "God" does not mean God has human characteristics. It does not mean that God is a consciousness, as we understand that concept. Nor does the fact that the imaginary, anthropomorphized entity does not metaphysically exist, mean that God does not exist.

There is a power in the universe that caused the formation of life, and that causes life forms to behave and evolve with the result that they survive. Prey species develop speed, agility and the ability to evade detection. Predator species develop similar abilities. Each member of a species develops these abilities in itself in order to survive. When man developed the ability to reason, he was no longer guided solely by instinct and programming, and was able to override his instincts in order to survive, protect his family's or species' survival, or optimize the quality of his life. Men soon learned that with the ability to determine good from evil many could be aided by guidance and rules of thumb in matters that did not lend themselves easily to reason. Religions use the concept of God to incentivize people to follow doctrine, the primary purpose of which is to protect the individual, the tribe and the species. God, in religion, is the "thing" which will punish men if they commit "sins." Metaphysically, a man may not be punished for any given commission of a sin, but morally, the knowledge that certain behaviors increase risk to a man, to his tribe, or to his species guides men to rationally impose a surrogate punishment for those sins, even when the metaphysical consequences are nil or hidden. In this view, God is not a consciousness, but it is infinite and omnipotent. It guides man's survival through seemingly random consequences to irrational behavior. That randomness is mistaken by men for real randomness, which implies a consciousness "deciding" when to punish and when to show mercy. Prayer is rationally justifiable in this paradigm, both to ask for mercy (i.e. the random nil consequence to a known irrational act) or to ask for guidance, which is really a focusing of the mind on a specific problem and the freeing of the mind to consider possible solutions. Prayer, when it provides an answer to a problem, is the act of reasoning through a problem, the possible actions, and best action to take to solve that problem in the context of one's life.

God is the sum of all physical forces and matter in the universe, and also that ability of reason in man which allows him to volitionally manipulate those forces and matter. God exists. It is real. It is a metaphysical characteristic of reality, like time, mass and distance. It is not a man with a beard sitting on a cloud, or a spaghetti-shaped creature hiding behind an asteroid.

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There is a power in the universe that caused the formation of life

That is called abiogenesis.

and that causes life forms to behave and evolve with the result that they survive

That is called natural selection, or put another way: those who don't die get to reproduce, and it just so happens that those who are most able to survive (in a given environment) usually don't die.

God is the sum of all physical forces and matter in the universe

That is the universe itself - i.e. existence.

and also that ability of reason in man which allows him to volitionally manipulate those forces and matter

That is reason and volition.

It is a metaphysical characteristic of reality, like time, mass and distance.

Those are all abstract concepts existing in the minds of individuals.

God exists. It is real.

And, apparently, it can mean a lot of different things simultaneously, and so is an invalid concept.

Edited by brian0918
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She holds that existence exists; that it always was and will always be.

No, you misunderstand what an axiom such as "existence exists" is. It is not an assertion - a view that one "holds" -, but an assumption that everyone makes when making a statement, or holding a belief. You cannot make a statement, or hold a belief, without implicitly presuming that existence exists.

This does not necessarily say anything about God, only that existence is.

Depending on which of the myriad definitions you assert for "God", it could certainly say a lot about the possibility of God's existence.

Rand rejects God because He is considered to be the first cause i.e. the cause of existence.

Rightly so, given that such a definition relies on a contradiction, i.e. "an existent that creates existence".

But, notice that Rand's axioms do nothing to disprove the existence or God

You've completely misunderstood what an axiom is - see above.

But, in the end, we put a certain kind of faith in the human mind even though we know that human cognition has limits. We trust, sometimes without real knowledge, that reason is more right than wrong and more good than evil.

Perhaps most objectivists will disagree with this interpretation, but I find it to be compelling--if only in part. My friend could say much more about it and it really is an interesting perspective to think over

It only seems compelling because it sets impossible requirements for the capabilities of the senses and of reason. We reason based on the facts that we know, and our knowledge is finite, not infinite. Our senses are likewise finite, not infinite. That does not imply that our senses, or our ability to reason effectively, are in doubt. A person who reasons correctly from his prior knowledge, but arrives at a conclusion that does not agree with reality, is not wrong - he simply needs to expand his knowledge-base, and form new concepts to explain the apparent contradiction.

Your friend throws up FUD regarding the senses and rational faculty, and implicitly asserts that "faith" always exists unless one's knowledge is unlimited (i.e., infinite). Since that's impossible, every action is taken "on faith". Thus, "faith" - as your friend wants to define it - is an invalid concept.

Edited by brian0918
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Would this validity test fail due to "meaning a lot of different things simultaneiously", or a contradiction arising within the simultanity of the different things it tried to mean?

It's simply the fact that these variety of things that "God" is supposed to simultaneously mean have no direct connection to eachother.

It is basically like saying "God is all those things that we haven't yet fully explained." Concepts are created out of necessity, but nothing necessitates the creation of such a concept.

Edited by brian0918
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That is called abiogenesis.

I know what it's called. It happened. It was caused by something. If it is caused by the totality of physical laws conspiring with just the right random mixture of physical reality ("conspiring" meant as an anthropomorphic turn of phrase for a physical process), then those laws and that condition of physical objects caused the formation of life. That it was not the result of a conscious intent to create life does not change the fact that it happened and was caused - by something. In that absence of any intent, a "good" thing happened. (my assertion)

That is called natural selection, or put another way: those who don't die get to reproduce, and it just so happens that those who are most able to survive (in a given environment) usually don't die.

That, indeed, is the term we use for it. It is, again, the "conspiracy" between natural laws and living beings, and their interaction that creates the effect that we call evolution. It is a "good" thing that living beings evolved to enhance their survival.

That is the universe itself - i.e. existence.

I'm wrong the attempt to say that God is the sum of all...(etc). That was like saying that "Energy" is the sum of all physical laws and matter. You're right, it's meaningless.

That is reason and volition.

That is action based on understanding of the concepts good and evil. There is a rational, objective standard for morality, for the identification of "good."

Those are all abstract concepts existing in the minds of individuals.

Yes, but they identify actual characteristics of reality. There is a metaphysical basis for the concepts time, mass and distance. If we disagree on that then we disagree on the nature of reality.

And, apparently, it can mean a lot of different things simultaneously, and so is an invalid concept.

Replace the word "God" with the word "good." Would you argue that "good" is an invalid concept?

Edited by agrippa1
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Replace the word "God" with the word "good." Would you argue that "good" is an invalid concept?

No, because "good" doesn't *mean* a lot of different things simultaneously. The concept has one meaning - one definition - one essential characteristic that unites all of the referents of the concept.

In that absence of any intent, a "good" thing happened. (my assertion)

The event was neither good nor bad - it was amoral. Value, and the moral evaluation of actions, requires life, but there was no prior life for which one could evaluate such actions.

It is, again, the "conspiracy" between natural laws and living beings, and their interaction that creates the effect that we call evolution.

You are misusing words. "Conspiracy" involves conscious entities (as you yourself state). Natural/physical laws are observed patterns constructed in the minds of men. Nature doesn't "follow laws" - rather, men observe nature and deduce patterns, which we call "laws".

It is a "good" thing that living beings evolved to enhance their survival.

Again, this is amoral. "Survival of the fittest" is simply death of the unfittest. The unfit are the ones who happened to have a slight genetic disadvantage at birth to adapt to the environment at hand. Whether or not some action or circumstance is good/bad depends on the values of the entity. Those least capable of surviving in an environment were at greater risk of death, which was certainly bad for them.

There is a rational, objective standard for morality, for the identification of "good."

Correct, but "good" and value in general are only valid relative to a given agent - what is good for one person may not be for another.

Edited by brian0918
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" The concept has one meaning - one definition - one essential characteristic that unites all of the referents of the concept."

But where does that "one meaning -one definition - one essential characteristic" derive from? What is your source?

The problem I have with a non-directed, non-purposed abiogenesis is a logical problem: OK, a chance lightning strike hits a mass of a primordial soup of amino acids, and, voila, "life" occurs. But unless that odd bit of "life" has within itself the purpose to reproduce itself(a beautifully complex dance, with the purpose of reproduction in mind), it simply lives its life and dies out. The next lightning bolt that hits could just as easily kill whatever "life" exists at that time. If there is no "bias" or purpose for life, there is no survival, let alone natural selection. Natural selection, by its nature, depends upon a concept of "good" -- survival -- that doesn't explain itself: Is the good that which enables an entity to survive at the least cost to itself? Is the good that which enables a person to violate the "rights" of others? What is the "good"?

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