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Argument for the existence of God

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It's only a logical problem if you fail to consider that your use of the term "purpose" presupposes design (and hence a designer) to begin with. If the proverbial lightning strikes the proverbial ooze and results in life, there is no reason to assume that that event cannot also have resulted in the "purpose" of reproduction as well, without the need to presume design. It all boils down to the idea that complexity necessitates a design and a designer. That is an assumption based on complex human inventions which do not necessarily translate to natural existents that are not human created.

The result of following your logic to the man of today is that the "purpose" of sex is to reproduce. Despite that, many people have no desire or urge to reproduce and use sex for other "purposes" besides reproduction.

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The result of following your logic to the man of today is that the "purpose" of sex is to reproduce. Despite that, many people have no desire or urge to reproduce and use sex for other "purposes" besides reproduction.

That's OK because we have religion to tell us all those other purposes are evil and wrong. /sarcasm

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

Your question is not clear, but the fundamental sources of information for any concept are its referents - in this case, the referents are past examples of situations or actions that supported or promoted your values. From those examples, you form the concept "good". Your rational faculty determines the essential, defining characteristic that sets the referents apart from other examples - and that essential characteristic becomes the definition or meaning of the term. This is Objectivist Concept-Formation 101.

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.

Who said that's how life started? Nobody knows yet how life can come into existence. You're arguing from a straw man.

Even if it were that simple, you have to keep in mind that such a basic lifeform - as with other non-human life forms - acts automatically in accordance with its values (if any). Those that didn't act to gain energy (i.e. "food") didn't sustain their existence for long. Those that didn't act to reproduce didn't leave any off-spring. So we don't see examples of them today.

All living things that exist today are the off-spring of entities that were capable of gaining energy and reproducing, and automatically acted to gain energy and reproduce.

Edited by brian0918
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"If the proverbial lightning strikes the proverbial ooze and results in life, there is no reason to assume that that event cannot also have resulted in the "purpose" of reproduction as well, without the need to presume design."

It seems just as reasonable and rational to ascribe reproduction as a purposed process. It's an arbitrary bias to rule out design.

"The result of following your logic to the man of today is that the "purpose" of sex is to reproduce. Despite that, many people have no desire or urge to reproduce and use sex for other "purposes" besides reproduction."

Yes, I find it quite rational to state that one of the primary "purposes" of sex is reproduction. Other purposes, such as pair bonding, also contribute to the upbringing of offspring. That many people have no desire to reproduce is interesting, but without external technology (birth control), or methods such as withdrawal, the act will produce offspring (assuming the fertility of the couple).

"Who said that's how life started? Nobody knows yet how life can come into existence. You're arguing from a straw man."

I'm simply using one of the theories proposed for the purposes of the discussion. I'm not asserting anything -- it doesn't change my basic point, which is that reproduction appears to be a purposed act. A purposed act, or process such as natural selection, presumes a universal "good", by which we understand that "existence" is a good.

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it doesn't change my basic point, which is that reproduction appears to be a purposed act. A purposed act, or process such as natural selection, presumes a universal "good", by which we understand that "existence" is a good.

See my reply immediately following the line you quoted.

Reproduction in living things is certainly purposeful. Non-human lifeforms automatically act in accordance with their values. But the abstract concept of natural selection is not purposeful, as purpose requires value, value is agent-relative, and no agent underlies the process of natural selection.

Edited by brian0918
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It seems just as reasonable and rational to ascribe reproduction as a purposed process. It's an arbitrary bias to rule out design.

The difference between what I said and what you say here is that you are willing to assume something lacking the evidence to support that assumption and I am not. My larger point was that you are using terms that involve presupposition to begin with and as such do not provide a good basis for an objective argument. You haven't justified why you can presuppose a designer. If you are arguing in favor of a creator, you can't take his/her existence as a given in the argument.

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"Non-human lifeforms automatically act in accordance with their values."

"Values"?? Values are human constructs, not non-human constructs. It would be more accurate to say that non-human lifeforms act in accordance with their natures.

"The difference between what I said and what you say here is that you are willing to assume something lacking the evidence to support that assumption and I am not.

Actually, I don't see any evidence to support your assumption that there is no design (and thus no designer). You can theorize, but you can't provide conclusive proof. This is not a scientific question, and so you -and I simply aren't able to. You have simply come up with a different possibility than a theist does.

"My larger point was that you are using terms that involve presupposition to begin with and as such do not provide a good basis for an objective argument."

Earlier in this thread (quite some time ago) I pointed out that Aquinas's arguments do NOT start with presupposition. I find his arguments are rational, and thus I don't think that "presupposition" is any more a hallmark of what I have said on this thread anymore than what you have said. I'll say it again: you have come up with a different philosophical conclusion than a theist would, but with no more evidence than a theist.

"If you are arguing in favor of a creator, you can't take his/her existence as a given in the argument."

I agree, and I don't. Neither should you give a creator's non-existence as a given.

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"Values"?? Values are human constructs, not non-human constructs. It would be more accurate to say that non-human lifeforms act in accordance with their natures.

You must be using the word differently. A value is that which one acts to gain or keep. Plants and animals act to gain food and water - food and water are of value to plants and animals.

Edited by brian0918
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Actually, I don't see any evidence to support your assumption that there is no design (and thus no designer).

Except that the lack of evidence of "something" is more supportive of nothing than it is of "something". And I'm not concerned with what you wrote about Aquinas' argument earlier in the thread, I'm talking about the presupposition that exists in your argument here and now, whether you see it or not. You refer to the "purpose" of sex, which as I said before implies design and a designer. This is similar to saying the purpose of "2+2" is to equal 4. Looking at a result doesn't necessarily reveal a purpose. "Purpose" is determined by a goal-directed acting entity or entities. Yes, biologically sex (under your aforementioned conditions) RESULTS in babies. That doesn't mean that is the "purpose" of sex independent of goal-directed entities.

Now, that said, if you are simply discussing this issue rather than actually trying to put forth an objective argument, then you can presuppose all you want. But if you want to put forth an argument, it would behoove to recognize when you are making assumptions.

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"You must be using the word differently. A value is that which one acts to gain or keep. Plants and animals act to gain food and water - food and water are of value to plants and animals."

Yes, I am using the term as it is generally used: "Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be." -- Wikipedia

Plants and animals act according to their natures, not their preferences. However, you're using the Objectivist definiton, so I don't think we're in disagreement.

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"Except that the lack of evidence of "something" is more supportive of nothing than it is of "something".

But that is hardly an accurate assessment of Aquinas' arguments. He looks at observable data (causality, design, etc. -- those are "something") and draws his conclusions based on the data. You don't have to agree with the conclusions, but the point is that you have simply come to a different conclusion based on the same data.

"This is similar to saying the purpose of "2+2" is to equal 4."

That is not a useful analogy: the "purpose" of a mathematical equation is to assert the equality of two expressions, understood abstractly. It is not a physical "act" or entity, which can have purpose.

""Purpose" is determined by a goal-directed acting entity or entities."

I think we agree here: the primary purpose of eating is to satisfy hunger and nourish the body, though it can also give pleasure. (If it were not pleasurable, we might not eat enough to sustain our existence).

Likewise, the primary purpose of sex is procreative. It also serves to facilitate pair-bonding (thus ensuring the optimum environment for nurturing offspring). It also gives pleasure -- if it were not, we might not reproduce ourselves.

"That doesn't mean that is the "purpose" of sex independent of goal-directed entities."

We'll just have to disagree here -- reproduction is one of the purposes of sex, and it seems to be a matter of common sense to recognize that.

"But if you want to put forth an argument, it would behoove to recognize when you are making assumptions."

It would behoove you to do likewise.

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That is not a useful analogy: the "purpose" of a mathematical equation is to assert the equality of two expressions, understood abstractly.

My example is not about the purpose of equations generally, though equations do require goal-directed entities using them for them to have purpose. When I can find a better way to explain it I will, but the analogy holds exactly to my meaning.

We'll just have to disagree here -- reproduction is one of the purposes of sex, and it seems to be a matter of common sense to recognize that.

Yes we will. That is because when stated objectively, reproduction is the possible RESULT of sex, with "result" requiring no presupposition of design on the part of the one making the assertion.

But that is hardly an accurate assessment of Aquinas' arguments.

On the contrary, he's using mere existence as evidence of how that existence came to be when that existence only provides evidence that it exists, not of how it came to exist. As such, he's creating a creator where no evidence exists of such creator. On the other hand, I'm NOT asserting how existence came to be, I'm simply asserting a lack of evidence to demonstrate one of the specifically asserted explanations. Unlike your charge that I'm assuming also, that assertion requires no assumption on my part, it requires a lack of assumption from the start.

Edited by RationalBiker
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"That is because when stated objectively, reproduction is the possible RESULT of sex, with "result" requiring no presupposition of design on the part of the one making the assertion."

I simply do not see the "presupposition" involved. And looking at results certainly gives us valuable data as to the purpose of an act or entity: if I see copies of a document coming out of an office machine, this tells me something about the purpose of that machine. If a person stops eating and starves to death, it is rational to conclude that one purpose of eating is to sustain life.

"On the contrary, he's using mere existence as evidence of how that existence came to be when that existence only provides evidence that it exists, not of how it came to exist."

I don't think your assessment of Aquinas's arguments is accurate. He's using observed processes -- causality, for one -- and employing reason to determine that, using causality as an example, that there is an "uncaused cause" (otherwise you are stuck with an infinite regress of causes). That does not involve a presupposition.

"On the other hand, I'm NOT asserting how existence came to be, I'm simply asserting a lack of evidence to demonstrate one of the specifically asserted explanations."

I'm not asserting it either. My contention here on this thread is that the theist and atheist arrive at differing philosophical interpretations of observable data. This is to counter the idea, so prevalent here, that all theists are irrational idiots. It might make you feel better personally, but it is not honest.

One of the aspects of Aquinas that I most admire is that he stated opposing ideas and assertions very accurately, probably better than most of them could do themselves. He then systematically -- and honestly -- addressed those assertions. This is not something that Rand was able to do, though I admire her ability to preceive flaws in our economic system.

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I simply do not see the "presupposition" involved.

Well, I've tried to point it out to you. And to clarify, I did not say one can never deduce purpose by looking at the results, I said one cannot necessarily deduce purpose from the results.

I don't think your assessment of Aquinas's arguments is accurate.

Yes, you keep saying that; I think my assessment is spot on.

He's using observed processes -- causality, for one -- and employing reason to determine that, using causality as an example, that there is an "uncaused cause" (otherwise you are stuck with an infinite regress of causes).

I.e., existence. But he doesn't stop at an uncaused cause, he assumes volition on the part of that uncaused cause because he assumes "order" just cannot happen. He also refers back to the watch requiring a watchmaker. This assumes that because man-made things require a man-maker, that non-man made things must also require some intelligent maker. This is a leap for which he makes no justification.

Also, saying one is stuck with an infinite regress of causes (which I assume is considered troubling), it is equally troubling to assert the contradiction of an uncaused cause.

This is to counter the idea, so prevalent here, that all theists are irrational idiots. It might make you feel better personally, but it is not honest.

Non-sequitur to my comments. I'm not challenging Aquinas' effort to be honest or attempt to use a rational process (though of most theists today I've met, I haven't met many, if any, that attempt to use Aquinas' rational processes - the good book or what their parents told them is enough for them) I'm asserting the assumption that lies behind his "proofs".

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" And to clarify, I did not say one can never deduce purpose by looking at the results, I said one cannot necessarily deduce purpose from the results."

I would agree with that.

"I.e., existence."

So you're stating that a process, such as causality, is synonymous with existence?

"But he doesn't stop at an uncaused cause, he assumes volition on the part of that uncaused cause because he assumes "order" just cannot happen."

That's a gross over-simplification of his argument.

"He also refers back to the watch requiring a watchmaker."

No, Aquinas does not. You have the wrong philosopher. It would help if you were actually familiar with his arguments.

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"I.e., existence."

So you're stating that a process, such as causality, is synonymous with existence?

Not exactly. I'm saying processes exist, not as existents, but as part of the whole of existence (what you keep referring to as "observable data").

That's a gross over-simplification of his argument.

Please continue.... Simplifying something does not necessarily make the simplification untrue.

No, Aquinas does not. You have the wrong philosopher. It would help if you were actually familiar with his arguments.

A mistake on my part, not of the wrong philosopher, but of perhaps the wrong reference to a summary of his proofs.

Edited by RationalBiker
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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.

We'll just let that assertion sink in while we think of all the things that good does, and does not, simultaneously, refer to. You're using your definition of God, which is really not a definition at all, but a laundry list of others' definitions. I asserted that "god" refers to the tendency of the universe to cause the creation and to cause the evolution of life.

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.

I have a hard time saying that the event was not good, given that my existence depends on that thing happening. From my objective evaluation, but maybe not yours, the emergence of life was a good thing.

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".

Yes, I'm misusing the word, which is why I described that usage as "an anthropomorphic turn of phrase" not meant to convey an act of a conscious mind.

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.

It was good that evolution resulted in the emergence of a conscious, volitional animal, man. By your view point, rain is amoral. By mine (assuming it meets my needs for water and food) it is a good thing. "Good" relates to the value of a thing or event to someone, and does not imply that that thing was intended or planned or caused by a conscious act.

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.

And evolution was not "good" for neanderthals. But since I'm a product of evolution, evolution has been a good thing.

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By your view point, rain is amoral. By mine (assuming it meets my needs for water and food) it is a good thing.

That's the thing, when you say rain is good, you are saying so within a context; "assuming it meets my needs". Rain is amoral when no context is given. As an example, rain is bad when it is so abundant that it drowns the farmer's crops. So is rain good or bad?

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You're using your definition of God, which is really not a definition at all, but a laundry list of others' definitions.

Others??? Yours! You say that God is all those various things that have no connection to eachother, including abiogenesis, natural selection, the totality of matter, reason and volition, and a metaphysical characteristic of the universe.

I have a hard time saying that the event was not good, given that my existence depends on that thing happening. From my objective evaluation, but maybe not yours, the emergence of life was a good thing.

You've completely evaded my response, and just blindly re-asserted your original claim. Tossing in the word "objective" does not validate your claim if you are unable to provide rationale for your conclusion. You have not provided an objective measure of "good", just the assertion that something was good.

Yes, I'm misusing the word, which is why I described that usage as "an anthropomorphic turn of phrase" not meant to convey an act of a conscious mind.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. You use anthropomorphic words in order to inject "purpose" into physical processes and "good" into amoral circumstances. If you ditch the anthropomorphic words, then you must also ditch "purpose" and "good", which depend on living entities with value systems. All the referents for "good" are examples of circumstances that promoted the values of a living entity. All the referents for "purpose" are examples of goals or actions taken to achieve a goal. So there is no basis for your usage of those terms apart from living entities.

It was good that evolution resulted in the emergence of a conscious, volitional animal, man.

That is your assertion to prove.

By your view point, rain is amoral.

No, it is not (depending on context), and by offering that as an example, you reveal that you have not understood what I am saying at all. Rain has benefits for my life. I can also judge that a torrential downpour that leads to flooding is probably bad (depending on circumstances). On the other hand, the rain that occurs on a lifeless planet is amoral. As RationalBiker states, without any context, rain is neither good nor bad.

"Good" relates to the value of a thing or event to someone

But that thing or event must actually have impacted you directly as a living entity. It was neither good nor bad that the universe formed with just the right characteristics to allow for the possibility of life.

And evolution was not "good" for neanderthals. But since I'm a product of evolution, evolution has been a good thing.

Neanderthals were also a product of evolution - so by your logic evolution was a good thing for them. It can't be simultaneously good and bad for them. Evolution is neither good nor bad for anyone. What is good or bad are specific circumstances or situations that are beneficial or detrimental to a specific individual's existence.

Edited by brian0918
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You've completely evaded my response, and just blindly re-asserted your original claim. Tossing in the word "objective" does not validate your claim if you are unable to provide rationale for your conclusion. You have not provided an objective measure of "good", just the assertion that something was good.

By that argument there is no such concept as "good" because any attempt to pin that concept on a given referent is a subjective assertion, and unprovable. I can't even get a nod that rain is "good," apparently because in certain extreme cases it can threaten property and life. In a very limited context of, say, "rain is good today because it is just what I need to water my corn field," the consequences of that particular rain, or even of the corn field growing are unknown, so even that assertion is questionable. Once you go down that road you lose the ability to claim rationally that there is an objective standard of morality. After all, any moral act might have unintended consequences that cause more harm than good. "Capitalism is not moral because in extreme cases a man acting without government regulation might create a product that harms people." etc. Therefore the claim that capitalism, or individual freedom, is good is just an assertion. Providing a "rationale" for that assertion does not prove that it is true, it simply explains why you believe it to be true.

I believe that rain is good because, in the context of my life, it purifies water and delivers it to my home, far from any other water source.

I believe evolution is good because it caused me to come into existence, and in the context of my life, to be able to live consciously and rationally.

I believe abiogenesis is good because it caused the spark that led, eventually, to the current context of my life. Etc., etc., etc.

Those are my "rationales" that these things are all "good," in the context of my life. And yet none of these were created by a conscious mind, so in your mind they're not "good" or "bad." Did I misstate that?

But I guess we should stipulate that "good" does not mean the same as "moral." Good is entirely context-driven, while morality is based on general principles followed in action by a conscious mind. There can be conflicts between the good and the moral. So I retract my assertions that non-conscious actions and causes are "moral," but not that they're "good."

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"Not exactly. I'm saying processes exist, not as existents, but as part of the whole of existence (what you keep referring to as "observable data")."

I don't think we're on the same page here: Earlier, in response to me using the term "processes", you seemed to indicate that "existence" and "processes" were rather synonomous. Now you seem to be refuting or at least backing off from that statement, and I have no idea what your logical premise is for any relationship of "reality" and your personal perception. I never conflated "process" with "existence", so I'm left wondering what your point is.

A friend of mine stopped by the other day, a Mathematics professor (if that's the right word -- I think his particular studies have to do with probablities) and we got talking about the mathematical perspective on the origins of life. Interesting stuff....He is of the opinion that the ordered universe we experience is, mathematically speaking, so improbable that the positing of a Creator is no more implausible than the modern preferences of the current flavor of the day (Dawkins, Hawking), and of cour4e to extraterristials). I think it's fair top say

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A friend of mine stopped by the other day, a Mathematics professor (if that's the right word -- I think his particular studies have to do with probablities) and we got talking about the mathematical perspective on the origins of life. Interesting stuff....He is of the opinion that the ordered universe we experience is, mathematically speaking, so improbable that the positing of a Creator is no more implausible than the modern preferences of the current flavor of the day (Dawkins, Hawking), and of cour4e to extraterristials). I think it's fair top say

This is just a desperate Christian attempt to throw science out as favorable to the concept of God. There is no "order" in the universe, there is only "ordered" understanding of its many interacting elements.
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"There is no "order" in the universe, there is only "ordered" understanding of its many interacting elements."

This is so subjective -- are you saying that the order that we see in the universe is merely a product of our minds, that ithe order wouldn't exist if we weren't there to see it?

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