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Old 07-11-2003, 11:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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"Rationalistic Theism"

These boards quite hotly debate religion vs. atheism. I am firmly of the belief that religious beliefs are simply irrational. Yet many people refute this claim, and try to turn scientific claims against science and thus scientifically "prove" that God exists. These people do not have blind faith, like those of creationists. They accept all of the tenants of science, but claim to know that God exists.

One thing I would say is that, if some part of scientific theory is incorrect, it does not prove the existence of God.
If things occur to which science has no explanation, it does not prove the existence of God.
If there are questions to which we do not as of yet know the answers to, it does not prove the existence of God.
If there are questions to which we can NEVER know the answers to, it does not prove the existence of God.
Just because we cannot objectively disprove the existence of God, does not prove the existence of God.

I would ask that people try their best to avoid using anti-logic in thier already unfounded arguments for the existence of God.

The most extensive example of a rational "proof" for the existence of God is the question: Where did we come from?

Science has so far traced this back to The Big Bang. Most rational people accept that this is what happened, and that after billions of years life evolved on earth to produce us. But that begs the question...
"where did this Big Bang come from? Science claims that all energy and matter must come from other energy and matter. This minute, incredibly dense particle, how did it come into existence?"
Well, to be honest we don't know.
"Ah-ha! you don't know! Therefore God exists! That settles it! End of Story"
Now wait a minute! Just because we don't know where it comes from, doesn't mean that a reasonable explanation doesn't exist! It is very difficult to make any observations, or calculations given the immense time and distance. It is conceivable that a theory could be formulated about what caused it.
"Ah! You said what caused it! Well ultimately something else must have caused that something to happen. Something external of our reality/universe"
That's fair enough, I can accept that line of reasoning.
"Gotcha! An intangible wholly-other force external of our existence. i.e. God"
Now wait a minute... I will admit to the existence of something outside of our own sphere of existence. something which would be completely unintelligible to us, due to the nature of our being, but why do you say that it is God?
"Well, that is what we are DEFINING as God"
Fair enough, you can call it a God, I will call it an unintelligible force.
"So we are in agreement then?
Not quite. I have a number of questions.

How do you know that this force is a creative force.?
We have seen how chaos can arise from simplicity, and how complexity can arise from chaos. A singularity could not be considered "complex" why the need for it to be specifically created

How do you even know that this force is a conscious force, never mind even creativity, why would it even be conscious?

How do you know this force is omnipotent?
Apart from the very beginning, there is no evidence that this omnipotent being has intervened in the workings of the universe in the slightest. what makes you so sure that he could, even if he wanted to?

How is this force all knowing?

How do you know this force loves you? Why would this omnipotent being care for an insignificant arrangement of fundamental particles?

How does the existence of this force, imply that you have been bestowed with a spirit/soul or anything else?

How the hell does the existence of this external force guarantee you to eternal life? How does the existence of an external "physical" force imply an afterlife?

How does this force provide ethical guidance?



And whatever you do, please don't reply with "it says so in the bible”[/i].

And if you are going to make some claim, or statement, please provide some proof, or explaination to back up what you say.
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Old 07-12-2003, 07:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, the argument you're running (and refuting) has a long history, and is a bit more complicated than you make it out to be. The classical version, advanced by Thomas Aquinas (and coming from Aristotle) argues the following:

1. There are events.
2. All events have a cause.
3. But an infinite series of events would be absurd.
4. Therefore there must have been a first cause (1-3)
5. But the first cause must be self-caused (2,4)
6. Only an omnipotent being can be its own cause
7. Therefore, the first cause must be God.

It's long been one problem with this argument that it only proves some omnipotent being, rather than the Christian God (though that would only require one or two more assumptions). The other problem is that it's not clear why an infinite chain of events is absurd. The response to the second problem is that even if there is an infinite chain of events, the fact that this chain exists needs to be explained, and the only possible explanation is God, etc.

In the end, however, rational argument will never be able to prove to someone the existence of God. The flaw is not so much in the arguments (while I'm suspicious of the cosmological argument, I'm a fan of the ontological), but just in human nature. There are always reasons both for and against a belief, so we rarely find ourselves forced to believe something. And, just as there are psychological reasons why people can find it more comfortable to believe in God, there are such reasons why people find it more comfortable not to believe in God.
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It's a problem with two concepts of "God". One, more common among the, uh, common people, is that god is an all knowing entity that's floating around somewhere in the sky, has a beard and generally makes life great and miserable for humans. This belief would come from the same people that take the Bible literally. Now, the second concept of God, coming from the more thinking (not a swipe at anyone) ministers and philosophers is that it's some kind of force and, all in all, it doesn’t necessarily have to be conscious. The second concept is split between scientists and/or atheists, who tend to explain things in terms of scientific events, even if they are incomprehensible and between the more religious type of people who tend to analyze their own faith. It's an ongoing conflict between the three sides. Can it be solved? I don't think so.

Quote:
1. There are events.
2. All events have a cause.
3. But an infinite series of events would be absurd.
4. Therefore there must have been a first cause (1-3)
5. But the first cause must be self-caused (2,4)
6. Only an omnipotent being can be its own cause
7. Therefore, the first cause must be God.
I'm confident this was said by a single philosopher, but I can't remeber who... It's driving me nuts. .
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Old 07-12-2003, 05:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I am finding myself to be in FULL agreement with SCflims point of view these days! Sorry my post cannot contribute further.
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Old 07-13-2003, 11:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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From my agnostic view I see "God" as everywhere, everything, is onipontent, universal. No one god truer than another. Humans can make up religions to try to explain "God" but we can't comprehend "God" period.
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Old 07-13-2003, 05:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jesus Pimp
From my agnostic view I see "God" as everywhere, everything, is onipontent, universal. No one god truer than another. Humans can make up religions to try to explain "God" but we can't comprehend "God" period.
This gives you more in common with Monism and Pantheism than Agnosticism...
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Old 07-13-2003, 05:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
don't ignore this-->
 
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this thread title is an oxymoron if i ever saw one... good thing it's in quotes
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Old 07-13-2003, 08:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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As a man of science, who also has his faith.
I personally define "God" as the soul of the universe,
the essence of it, if you would have it.
But that's just me, I don't push my beliefs on others.

I would like you to do the reverse.
"Prove" to me that there is NOT something that connects it all.
That there is NOT an overlying purpose or being to the universe.

Because I see it everyday.
And my knowledge of science enhances this.
The complexity, the scale, the dance, the balance
in and of itself is astounding.

Science defines "how" something happens.
Belief defines "why" something happens.

I tell you what...you tell me "why" in ultimate terms and "prove" it.
and then I'll considerate it.

In the meantime, I'll go back to my science, and work on the "how".

Last edited by rogue49; 07-13-2003 at 08:22 PM..
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Old 07-14-2003, 01:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There was an interesting experiment on tv I saw one time . . . . . . . . 10 university professors sat in a row and were asked a series of simple questions. They were asked to raise their hands if the answer was A or B. Now 9 of the professors were planted there by the tv people and the 10th professor did not know this. The idea was that the 9 professors would all answer correctly but then they would all deliberately answer a queston wrong . . . the 10th professor would invariably follow their lead despite KNOWING he was in the wrong. Peer group pressure is a powerful force.
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Old 07-14-2003, 02:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by duckznutz
The idea was that the 9 professors would all answer correctly but then they would all deliberately answer a queston wrong . . . the 10th professor would invariably follow their lead despite KNOWING he was in the wrong. Peer group pressure is a powerful force.
It's one of the basic experiments of social sciences, the first person to do this was Solomon Asch, I think...

http://www.psych.upenn.edu/sacsec/about/solomon.htm --> CONFORMITY.
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Old 07-15-2003, 09:08 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by duckznutz
There was an interesting experiment on tv I saw one time . . . . . . . . 10 university professors sat in a row and were asked a series of simple questions. They were asked to raise their hands if the answer was A or B. Now 9 of the professors were planted there by the tv people and the 10th professor did not know this. The idea was that the 9 professors would all answer correctly but then they would all deliberately answer a queston wrong . . . the 10th professor would invariably follow their lead despite KNOWING he was in the wrong. Peer group pressure is a powerful force.
What point are you trying to make? That people will be religious in order to fit in? Yeah, I'd buy that.
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Old 07-15-2003, 01:30 PM   #12 (permalink)
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lol. People will be atheists to fit in also. It always goes both ways.

Instead of simply believing what they believe, each side has the hardheaded mentality of George W. Bush: "Agree with me or you're wrong." I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Not that I hate Bush. Or love him. Just an example.
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Old 07-15-2003, 01:57 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by CSflim
What point are you trying to make? That people will be religious in order to fit in? Yeah, I'd buy that.
Well we are pack animals . . . . . . . . Jesus would be the original alpha-male.
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Old 07-15-2003, 03:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by rogue49
I would like you to do the reverse.
"Prove" to me that there is NOT something that connects it all.
That there is NOT an overlying purpose or being to the universe.
Rogue, you must know it is impossible to prove a negative; that's the reason civilised systems of law assume innocence and the burden rests with the prosecution to prove guilt.

If we follow the argument suggested by asaris, then every event has a cause. We also know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, my question for those who have faith is: given your belief in a god do you also believe in an anti-god?

I am an athiest, it suits my life and intuitively feels right; although it is probably as much a product of my education and upbringing as any rationale decision process (can anyone say "bounded rationality"). That said, I have tried for many years to understand the attraction of faith and largely failed. I would be interested to know of anything you think I should study to help me see the alternative view - except the bible, obviously, I have enough good fiction on my bookshelves already.

Last edited by rogue49; 07-15-2003 at 09:16 PM..
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Old 07-15-2003, 09:15 PM   #15 (permalink)
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That's silly; scientists prove negatives all the time.
Law does not equate to science or logic.
Besides, it depends on the court system and how it's set up.

This is like a pregnancy test; if she's pregnant, it's positive
if she's not pregnant, it's negative.
Now it doesn't matter how you ask the question,
if is not positive, then it has to be negative (and that's more likely)
you've proven the negative; it's the positive that's always in doubt.
that's why they give further tests after the initial, just to make sure.

Now, as far as your definition goes with my definition of "God",
yes, there would be an "anti-god"...it would be the Void. (non-existance)
Please remember my definition is not others, and not some being in "control",
mine is defined as the essence or the "soul" of the Universe.

I was not brought up with any religion whatsoever.
However, being me...I study everything, science, history, philosophy, etc.
and yes religions and other faiths.
My faith has grown & developed with my knowledge, experience and interaction with the world.
And believe me, I question & analyze everything.
However, you don't become as in tune or empathic as I am
without realizing everything is connected.
In scientific terms, you might define this as "chaos theory"
In philosophical terms, you might define this as "the Gaea concept"
This is my faith; however I extend it to Universal scale.
There isn't control, there only connection
growth & experience...like yourself...a great experiment.
There's good & bad about you & your body, and hopefully it gets better.
Same thing about your environment, your world
your universe.

So then prove to me you, aren't you.
Prove to your environment is not connected.
Prove to me the world isn't one unto itself, there is a balance it keeps.
Prove to me that the Universe isn't One & Individual (the Ultimate Duality)

It seems absurd to try to prove this, doesn't it? (especially on that scale)
So for you to ask me to "prove" it to you seems unfair.
For me to do all the work,
when I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe.
Gee, it kind of sounds like a "faith"
Except your "faith" is atheism.
so be it, and I leave you to your explanation
and you leave me to mine
until either one of us can prove it either way.
This kind of sounds like an Agnostic....another faith.
hmm...

Like I said, let's use our science to prove the "how".
And we'll let our faith (or philosophies) support the "why".

Last edited by rogue49; 07-15-2003 at 09:25 PM..
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:25 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Schwan
It's a problem with two concepts of "God". One, more common among the, uh, common people, is that god is an all knowing entity that's floating around somewhere in the sky, has a beard and generally makes life great and miserable for humans. This belief would come from the same people that take the Bible literally. Now, the second concept of God, coming from the more thinking (not a swipe at anyone) ministers and philosophers
You imply that one of these options is MORE rational than the other. Your missing the fact that the two concepts presented here are to extremes on a spectrum. It is possible to be rational about your faith and still take the Bible literally.

I see God as an all knowing entity. I don't think God is an old breaded man on a cloud, BUT I do take most of the Bible literally. Before you jump on the word "most" (which commonly happens to me), you have to remember that the Bible is not a single book or single work. It is a collection of writings with a collection of writing styles (historical, poetic, allegory). For example, where Jesus' parables literal stories that actually happened or were they scenerios to illustrate a point? I believe you miss the purpose if you bother asking the question.

My point: I can not speak for other religions, but it is possible to be a rational thinker and have faith in Christianity.
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:49 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by GrumpyCoder
You imply that one of these options is MORE rational than the other. Your missing the fact that the two concepts presented here are to extremes on a spectrum. It is possible to be rational about your faith and still take the Bible literally.

I see God as an all knowing entity. I don't think God is an old breaded man on a cloud, BUT I do take most of the Bible literally. Before you jump on the word "most" (which commonly happens to me), you have to remember that the Bible is not a single book or single work. It is a collection of writings with a collection of writing styles (historical, poetic, allegory). For example, where Jesus' parables literal stories that actually happened or were they scenerios to illustrate a point? I believe you miss the purpose if you bother asking the question.

My point: I can not speak for other religions, but it is possible to be a rational thinker and have faith in Christianity.
I think for most people, "taking the bible literally" is really a euphamism for believing in a six day creation, a man who fed a croud of hundreds with a couple of fish and a handfull of loaves, a man who turned lead into gold...eh, I mean water into wine. etc.

Obviously parables like The Good Samaratin and The Prodigal son etc. are only meant to be pure fiction.

And yes, there are degrees of rationality. At one end of the spectrum lies absolutely rational: atheism and agnostisim, slightly beyond that lies the belief in an undefined supreme being, beyond that lies the christian who realises that the stories in the bible are pure myth, but do carry a genuine message, and at the furthest end of the spectrum lies "pure" christianity, who believe the bible word for word, and believe it to be infallable.
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Old 07-17-2003, 11:12 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by rogue49
That's silly; scientists prove negatives all the time.
Law does not equate to science or logic.
Besides, it depends on the court system and how it's set up.
The point is, that scientists prove fallsifiable things wrong all the time. There is a big difference.

Quote:
This is like a pregnancy test; if she's pregnant, it's positive
if she's not pregnant, it's negative.
Now it doesn't matter how you ask the question,
if is not positive, then it has to be negative (and that's more likely)
you've proven the negative; it's the positive that's always in doubt.
that's why they give further tests after the initial, just to make sure.
The pregnancy test searches for the tell tale signs of a pregnancy. In the absence of these signs it turns up negative.
Imagine a woman recieves a negative result. She then turns to you and says, no the test is incorrect, I am pregnant. The test just cannot detect my special pregnancy. What can you say to that?

Quote:
Now, as far as your definition goes with my definition of "God",
yes, there would be an "anti-god"...it would be the Void. (non-existance)
Please remember my definition is not others, and not some being in "control",
mine is defined as the essence or the "soul" of the Universe.

I was not brought up with any religion whatsoever.
However, being me...I study everything, science, history, philosophy, etc.
and yes religions and other faiths.
My faith has grown & developed with my knowledge, experience and interaction with the world.
And believe me, I question & analyze everything.
However, you don't become as in tune or empathic as I am
without realizing everything is connected.
In scientific terms, you might define this as "chaos theory"
In philosophical terms, you might define this as "the Gaea concept"
This is my faith; however I extend it to Universal scale.
There isn't control, there only connection
growth & experience...like yourself...a great experiment.
There's good & bad about you & your body, and hopefully it gets better.
Same thing about your environment, your world
your universe.

So then prove to me you, aren't you.
Prove to your environment is not connected.
Prove to me the world isn't one unto itself, there is a balance it keeps.
Prove to me that the Universe isn't One & Individual (the Ultimate Duality)
No. I won't prove to you that you are incorrect. You claims are completely unfalsifiable. I can "prove" you incorrect by pointing out that there is absolutely no evidence to point towards this conclusion.

Quote:
It seems absurd to try to prove this, doesn't it? (especially on that scale)
So for you to ask me to "prove" it to you seems unfair.
At lest put forward some evidence to show why you believe what you do. Even if you lack a formal proof.

Quote:
For me to do all the work,
when I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe.
Gee, it kind of sounds like a "faith"[
Except your "faith" is atheism.
so be it, and I leave you to your explanation
and you leave me to mine
until either one of us can prove it either way.
This kind of sounds like an Agnostic....another faith.
hmm...
Atheism is not a faith. Atehism is the rejection of any faith. I don't believe in anything. I don't have a theory to replace "God" with. In other words, I am fully admitting that I don't know where the universe came from. That being said, I don't see how anyone else can claim to know. I am rejecting the "theories" of religion, on the basis that they are not founded in fact. The reason I cannot prove my "theory" is because I have nothing to prove! YOU are the one putting forward a theory, it is YOU who must prove it. If your theory is beyond proof (even in the loosest sense of the word) then the simple fact of the matter is that it is irrational to belive such.

Quote:
Like I said, let's use our science to prove the "how".
And we'll let our faith (or philosophies) support the "why".
Maybe you could even prove that there IS a "why"?
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