Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Refutation of existence of an all powerful being.

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Wow -- I guess this subject is a sore spot with some Objectivists, so that a reasonable discussion without sneers is apparently impossible. "Reap what you sow"?? I have already said that I'm not here to convince anyone. I found this thread interesting, and made some comments, but I didn't expect to find such vitriol. For people who claim that the subject is as irrelevant as pizza-loving pink uinicorns, your passion seems.....odd.

Nope. No sore spot, no vitriol, if I were to have put an emoticon next to my statement, it would have been the eye-roll one. :rolleyes:

If you want interesting answers you'll have to ask interesting questions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing new....the idea that the existence of God is an unnecessary hypothesis has been around for centuries.

"New" is an irrelevant concept with respect to the idea's logical soundness. The argument need not be new to be sound. Otherwise you've just invalidated Aquinas' "proofs" yourself - they are not new.

Nor does it prove that God does not exist, though you seem to think it does.

What it proves is that the concept "God" (especially in any particular specific description of his abilities and expectations of mankind) has no epistemological value. Not speaking specifically for Greebo, but the term Atheist can be used different ways. In one way, one posits G(g)od does not exist. In another way, it merely states the person is simply not a theist. It is possible for someone to say "The is no reason or evidence for me to accept the concept or idea of a G(g)od" without saying, "there is no God."

No one invests invisible, pizza-loving unicorns with the attributes of the Judeo-Christian God.

That is not relevant to the argument. It rejects the idea of ANY arbitrarily asserted being.

I've never found that particular argument very forceful, though certainly I spouted it often enough when I was an atheist.

So, are you saying you "spouted" off an argument that you have never actually accepted as valid? Why would you do that? It sounds intellectually dishonest. Aside from that, it IS a forceful argument for rejecting the arbitrary. It's a shame you stopped "spouting" it. :)

Aquinas's five ways begin with sense data and conclude that the entity known as "God" is a rational explanation of the data -- it's a rational process, though you disagree with his conclusions.

Nothing new here. Other people have come to the forum before you "spouting" Aquinas' ways thinking that his attempt to put a logical spin on the god issue might appeal to Objectivists. Oh wait... we covered the whole "nothing new" thing didn't we? :)

I haven't found any refutations of his five ways convincing, at least so far.

Not sure if you have heard this one, but if you care to you can give it a try.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ummmm...what? Does this have anything at all to do with my comments on this thread?

Such as this one?

Nothing new....the idea that the existence of God is an unnecessary hypothesis has been around for centuries. You haven't stumbled onto some new, conclusive proof.

If one were to answer the assertion that the earth is flat by pointing out that a ship’s sail becomes visible over the horizon before it’s hull does, they’d be using an old answer to an old claim. Saying that an answer is old doesn’t make it more or less valid.

This is getting boring, c'mon, roll out the good stuff, fire your best shot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For people who claim that the subject is as irrelevant as pizza-loving pink uinicorns, your passion seems.....odd.

The passion does not arise from the irrelevance of the idea. The passion arises from the impact the irrelevant idea has on the culture we have to live in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"New" is an irrelevant concept with respect to the idea's logical soundness. The argument need not be new to be sound.

Very true.

In another way, it merely states the person is simply not a theist. It is possible for someone to say "The is no reason or evidence for me to accept the concept or idea of a G(g)od" without saying, "there is no God."

I accept that.

That is not relevant to the argument. It rejects the idea of ANY arbitrarily asserted being.

I think it is relevant, at least to some degree: if the assertion of a God was, as suggested, just as arbitrary as a pizza-loving pink unicorn, I would expect that atheism would be sort of the default position for most individuals and most cultures throughout human history, but that's clearly not the case.

So, are you saying you "spouted" off an argument that you have never actually accepted as valid? Why would you do that?

I thought it was valid at the time, so no, I wasn't being intellectually dishonest. I simply hadn't questioned my atheism to any real degree. Hey, I was young and stupid....

Not sure if you have heard this one, but if you care to you can give it a try.

Thanks, I'll take a look.

But back to the original thread: I'm just trying to sort out some of the responses to Jacob, and what that tells me about the Objectivist view of existence (which I thought I understood, but some of the answers here make me question that).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is relevant, at least to some degree: if the assertion of a God was, as suggested, just as arbitrary as a pizza-loving pink unicorn, I would expect that atheism would be sort of the default position for most individuals and most cultures throughout human history, but that's clearly not the case.

But there really is no reason to expect that to be the default position when one looks at the totality of irrational beliefs people hold now and have held throughout history. Rather, I would suggest that since there is such a huge variety of religions asserting their own particular brand of a god or gods, that the invention of religion is more a cultural characteristic, with each culture perpetuating the traditions, rituals and mores that they believe are beneficial to their culture. In other words, if we do this for our particular god, he will do good things for us. You never (at least to my knowledge) hear of a religion where no matter what you do, your good is going to send you to a bad place. People don't want to die and no longer exist, they want to believe there is something better than here and they will go there instead of ceasing to exist.

That said, the particular attributes prescribed to one deity or the another are equally irrelevant if they are not tied to reality in some way and sometimes even if they are. In the case of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (for example), He has been attributed with characteristics that are very identifiable in reality (noodly appendages, meatballs for eyes, etc - he has an asserted form), but his existence is still an arbitrary assertion because his existence has not been tied to reality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But there really is no reason to expect that to be the default position when one looks at the totality of irrational beliefs people hold now and have held throughout history

If the belief in God or gods is as arbitrary as you suggest, then I would expect atheism to be the default position. In a way, you're simply repeating my point: people and cultures have consistently believed in God or gods. That is compelling -- at least to me -- as it suggests an innate desire (at least unconsciously) to believe in a transcendant being.

People don't want to die and no longer exist, they want to believe there is something better than here and they will go there instead of ceasing to exist.

Yes, the belief in God and some sort of heaven seems to be an innate desire. Innate desires correspond to real objects -- this was C.S. Lewis's assertion (an ex-atheist). This would also explain why advances in science do not necessarily do away with the belief in God (the originator of the Big Bang theory, for example, was a Catholic priest).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

people and cultures have consistently believed in God or gods. That is compelling -- at least to me -- as it suggests an innate desire (at least unconsciously) to believe in a transcendant being.

If it were found that there was such an innate idea, and it correlated perfectly with a genetic marker, a particular switch in the chromosomes that predicted belief (or lack thereof) in god(s), would you consider that evidence for the existence of god(s)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, the belief in God and some sort of heaven seems to be an innate desire.

One could make a case that doubt of the supernatural is actually the innate tendency.

Mark 9:24 I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

Koran 6:2 It is He who has created you from clay. He has decreed a term for you in this world and another in the next. Yet you are still in doubt.

Yes I know the speaker in the Mark quote has a demon cast out by Jesus in the next verse. But do you believe in demonic possession?

BTW, innate ideas are not recognized in Objectivism, I’m not sure you’re familiar enough with it to know, I’m not trying to go off on a tangent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Both sides here are talking about proof and disproof in relation to the concept of God. This is an invalid approach to the question.

The stance of Objectivism is that the concept of God is arbitrary, meaning outside the realm of proof. All definitions of supernatural entities render them impossible to be proven or disproven. There is no reason to accept the premise that there is a God because not only is there no proof, there never can be. It is definitionally impossible to prove. Arbitrary claims, such as "There is a god" or the claim about Russell's teapot are neither true nor false, because the process of proof cannot be applied to them definitionally. (see Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp 163-167 and on to p171 for more details).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is relevant, at least to some degree: if the assertion of a God was, as suggested, just as arbitrary as a pizza-loving pink unicorn, I would expect that atheism would be sort of the default position for most individuals and most cultures throughout human history, but that's clearly not the case.

Indeed, Objectivism approaches them the same: they are both equally arbitrary. The "arbitrary qua arbitrary," as Peikoff writes, "the kind of claim that cannot by its nature be related to any established fact or context." OPAR, p167

And later:

"The true is identified by reference to a body of evidence; it is pronounced 'true' because it can be integrated without contradiction into a total context. The false is identified by the same means; it is pronounced 'false' because it contradicts the evidence and/or some aspect of the wider context. The arbitrary, however, has no relation to evidence or context; neither term, therefore — 'true' or 'false' — can be applied to it." Peikoff, OPAR, p166

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the belief in God or gods is as arbitrary as you suggest, then I would expect atheism to be the default position. In a way, you're simply repeating my point: people and cultures have consistently believed in God or gods. That is compelling -- at least to me -- as it suggests an innate desire (at least unconsciously) to believe in a transcendant being.

The key to grasping something as arbitrary in the Objectivist context, is to contrast it against the non-arbitrary, established, fixed, deliberate, purposeful, thoughtful.

What establishes an idea or proposition as true or false or arbitrary?

Objectivism seeks to understand what makes a concept valid. What observed facts give rise to the necessity of the concept. Some concepts refer directly to observed objects. Other concepts build on more complex relationships of increasingly more complex concepts. The process of validating knowledge consists of discovering how it relates to what you observe.

When an idea cannot be connected back to those observations, then what established the idea? Not being able to identify the deliberate, purposeful, thoughtful connections posits it as the arbitrary. Since grasping this position requires focus and effort to acheive, then to what does a 'default position' refer?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't assume all atheists are irrational because they think, for example, that an infinite regress of causes is logically possible, or that matter can create itself out of nothing.

Please bother to spend 5 minutes learning what people in physics, cosmology, and astronomy are saying before making statements like this. This is not what they claim. Not only is it wrong, but its extremely frustrating to those of us that bother to be informed on this matter. This is a strawman.

I also don't seem to understand your claim that because it is an "innate desire" that it makes the concept valid. Could you explain in more detail?

Edited by CapitalistSwine
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objectivism seeks to understand what makes a concept valid

Yes, as do other philosophies, though with differing epistemologies and thus differing conclusions.

What observed facts give rise to the necessity of the concept

Again, hardly a unique feature of Objectivism. In the case of Aquinas' five ways (which are really essentially one way -- the "cosmological argument"), the observed facts are causality, design, etc. His is an a posteriori demonstration. Obviously you disagree with his conclusions, but it is a rational process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am, indeed.

No, reality and the material universe are not synonymous. There are theories suggesting that we are only in one universe of many - and the physical rules of those other universes may be different from ours - but they are all part of existence (if they exist), and if there were some kind of God being, it would be part of existence as well.

Existence is all that exists, and only that which exists

I think part of the problem here is that Rand attached different meanings to philosophical terms. Are you using "existence" as it is commonly understood, or in the more specialized philosophical understanding of the term (the actuality of an essence)? You say that "existence" is an entity -- does it have volition?

I'm glad that you DON'T think that "reality" and "the material universe" are synonomous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think part of the problem here is that Rand attached different meanings to philosophical terms. Are you using "existence" as it is commonly understood, or in the more specialized philosophical understanding of the term (the actuality of an essence)? You say that "existence" is an entity -- does it have volition?

I'm glad that you DON'T think that "reality" and "the material universe" are synonomous.

Misunderstanding once again. Existence is the sum of all existing things, which includes all entities. "Existence" is not an entity. No one even said so.

Also, a rock is an entity. A rock does not have volition. The connection you're trying to make there doesn't make sense.

None of us understand your insistence on pointing out that various parts of Objectivism are "nothing new" or "not unique." Why does that matter? Yeah, Ayn Rand wasn't the first atheist ever. Who cares?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Jacob86:

Your complaints about the concept "arbitrary" seem to be rooted in a fundamental ignorance of how it is used in Objectivist literature.

By "arbitrary" is meant, roughly, "characteristic of a claim which definitionally lies outside the realm of proof." This is the central reason for rejection of theism. Any claim in support of theism always contains a contradictory and/or unable-to-be-proven tenet. When it does not, we can trace the concept or entity truly being defined to something other than a "god."

Please, please, please understand a position before you attack it. It saves a lot of time. ("I think what Objectivism calls arbitrary is a stupid idea." "What does Objectivism mean by arbitrary again?")

I am very familiar with the usage of the term in Objectivist literature. I simply want to make sure that we are all reading the same literature and attaching the same meaning to the same words and concepts. I am not asking for clarification. I need none. The issue is very clear to me. I have tried to make it clear to you and to the Objectivists on this forum.

My argument is dismissed automatically for one of two reason (both of which are fallcies):

1) An unstated, assumed, and irrational epistemological standard is applied to my argument without being fully or consciously accepted and integrated into the rest of the objectivist worldview. Because it goes unstated, the objector is able to think that he has gotten away with it. I am simply asking for it to be stated, in the open, so that it can be rationally scrutinized and consistently held to.

2) My position is twisted to be something else (either by evasion or intention of the objector) and then measured against sound epistemological standards and obviously found wanting.

That is why I have asked any objector to do the following:

-State the epistemological standards I violate

-Re-state my ACTUAL argument

-Demonstrate how my actual argument violates those legitimate standards.

So far, no one has been able to do the above. They have either held a straw man to sound epistemological standards or they have held my actual position to bogus, unstated, and inconsistent epistemological standards. Some have expertly hopped back and forth between the two in a sort of annoying dance. I wish to end the dance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Avilla,

You are absolutely right that I haven't proven that God doesn't exist.

And I don't have to - any more than I have to prove that there ARE NOT little green men on mars, that there is NOT an invisible sky dragon, that there are not space aliens regularly visiting the planet and abducting cows and burning farmers (or did I get that backwards).

All of the above are arbitrary concepts. They cannot be proven true, and they cannot be proven false.

And that's why they must be dismissed. Everything that is real leaves evidence. You know what a cow or a tree or a quark or a musical note is because of the real evidence it leaves. You even know what a black hole is before they were conclusively proved because you could see what they were from the mathematical evidence derived from what we knew at the time about stellar physics.

And when something leaves evidence which proves its existence, then the absence of evidence for that thing in a specific context conclusively proves the thing is not there in that moment - no moo, no rustling in the wind, no (well I don't know how you prove a quark is present), no Bflat minor chord, no gravity elongating you to infinity. If you don't have those things, you know they aren't present but you KNOW they aren't present because you CAN know when they are.

But introduce the arbitrary - a concept that has no evidence for OR against it. Epistemologically, you cannot know anything about it - it can not be true or false - it has no evidence thus nothing to point to and say, "X is missing, therefore X isn't here". In computer terms we have a concept for a value that doesn't exist - it's called a null - and when you have a null you can do nothing with it. Null + x = null. If you ask, "Is null equal to 0?", the answer is false. If you ask "Is Null equal to true?" the answer is false. If you ask, "Is null equal to false, the answer to false." You can't do anything with null because null DOES NOT EXIST.

In philosophical terms, NULL is what you get when you cannot say "this concept is true" and you cannot say "this concept is false". The concept itself is impossible to know because it cannot be connected to reality in any manner. And the only proper response when presented with a concept of that nature in a *serious* cognitive fashion is to dismiss any such claims about the concept as false, just like a computer.

"The Easter Bunny is REAL! Yeah you never see him and you can't find his lair and no he doesn't leave those eggs, your mum did that, but he's real!!!" "Santa really does have a list he checks!" "God loves you".

All of those concepts and many many many more are equally valuable in human knowledge - they're all equally null values.

Present a solid, reality grounded argument that drops no context and assumes no arbitrary premises, and we'll talk. Otherwise, you're just convincing yourself you've got a REASON to believe, when all you have in reality is a rationalization.

Edited by Greebo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is why I have asked any objector to do the following:

-State the epistemological standards I violate

I've done that. I've demonstrated an equally viable alternative to your presumed conclusions, and you've ignored them. I've shown that your requirement that there must be a prime mover is arbitrary and that entities can act on each other without consciousness thanks to gravity, and you've stopped answering and blanked out the fact that you've just picked the one you LIKE more.

We're done until you actually address those points.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Misunderstanding once again. Existence is the sum of all existing things, which includes all entities. "Existence" is not an entity. No one even said so.

No, I did say that. So did Peikoff, as I read this - see emphasis in last |P.

This term [entity] may be used in several senses. If you speak in the primary sense, “entity” has to be defined ostensively—that is to say, by pointing. I can, however, give you three descriptive characteristics essential to the primary, philosophic use of the term, according to Objectivism. This is not a definition, because I’d have to rely ultimately on pointing to make these points clear, but it will give you certain criteria for the application of the term in the primary sense . . . .

An entity means a self-sufficient form of existence—as against a quality, an action, a relationship, etc., which are simply aspects of an entity that we separate out by specialized focus. An entity is a thing.

An entity, in the primary sense, is a solid thing with a definite boundary—as against a fluid, such as air. In the literal sense, air is not an entity. There are contexts, such as when the wind moves as one mass, when you can call it that, by analogy, but in the primary sense, fluids are not entities.

An entity is perceptual in scale, in size. In other words it is a “this” which you can point to and grasp by human perception. In an extended sense you can call molecules—or the universe as a whole—“entities,” because they are self-sufficient things. But in the primary sense when we say that entities are what is given in sense perception, we mean solid things which we can directly perceive.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/entity.html

Edited by Greebo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've done that. I've demonstrated an equally viable alternative to your presumed conclusions, and you've ignored them. I've shown that your requirement that there must be a prime mover is arbitrary and that entities can act on each other without consciousness thanks to gravity, and you've stopped answering and blanked out the fact that you've just picked the one you LIKE more.

We're done until you actually address those points.

That's a separate issue. That is an objection in which you claim that my premises do not lead to my conclusion. I will be happy to address that issue, but only when a preliminary issue is taken care of once and for all. That preliminary issue is what I've been dealing with a little bit in this thread. It keeps coming back up in any and all discussion of this topic and therefore I wish to lay it to rest. That issue is the assertion that there is some fundamental epistemological error in my premises (i.e. that they are "arbitrary"). IF this is the case, then any conversation about your above objection would be utterly pointless. IF it is not the case (if my premises are epistemologically sound), then we can have a legitimate debate about your above objection.

But I will not have that debate or any other form of debate, until the necessary preliminary points are clearly understood and committed to. I will not advance in the argument and leave open the possibility of an objector taking back what has already been agreed to. It is very annoying and unproductive.

Therefore, I am asking objectors to state openly and clearly their epistemological standards, re-state my actual position, and demonstrate how my position violates those standards.

I understand your objection and I would like to respond to it, but frankly I am tired of advancing in my argument like that and then being attacked from behind because an objector wants to go backward and negate issues which have already been established in the epistemological chain of argument.

Only when an objector does the above, will I interact with them in order to either defend or advance my position.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jacob:

You have said, repeatedly, that there must have been a volitional first cause for the first movement, that there cannot have been an involuntarily first movement.

That is a key principle on which your argument rests, and it's major epistemological problem is, it's not a proven argument. In fact, it is anything but proven - because there is an equally viable alternative based on what current theoretical physics tells us - that matter formed as energy coalesced and as soon as matter formed, gravity came into existence (energy has no mass and so has no gravity) and began motion.

You ignore that alternative, and thus you arbitrarily assert that your option is the only option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And frankly, it doesn't matter *WHERE* your argument is flawed - if any point of your argument is unsound, your entire argument is unsound, but you give the appearance that you wish to retreat to a bastion of verbosity and obfuscation to avoid that issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Existence" is not an entity. No one even said so.

Yes, Greebo did. Back on page four, I believe. The quote I have above from him -- "I am, indeed" -- was in answer to my asking if he was saying that existence was an entity.

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...