Textkit Logo

Is there just one god for our world??!!

Philosophers and rhetoricians, Welcome!

Postby annis » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:50 pm

calvinist wrote:
annis wrote:The question is whether or not you have some special access to other people's thoughts and motivations. You do not. No person does, even if you imagine your god does.

In this statement you are saying that you know what other people can and can't know in their own minds (in this instance me), which is exactly what you are rejecting anyone can do.


Ahhh. Perhaps you should change your login name to 'sophist'.

What I'm saying is that no human has the magical power to read minds accurately.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
annis
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3397
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:55 pm
Location: Madison, WI, USA

Postby calvinist » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:12 am

annis wrote:
calvinist wrote:
annis wrote:The question is whether or not you have some special access to other people's thoughts and motivations. You do not. No person does, even if you imagine your god does.

In this statement you are saying that you know what other people can and can't know in their own minds (in this instance me), which is exactly what you are rejecting anyone can do.


Ahhh. Perhaps you should change your login name to 'sophist'.

What I'm saying is that no human has the magical power to read minds accurately.

yes, i understand what you're saying, but you are then implying that you know what other people know, which again is what you reject anyone can do.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby annis » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:33 am

calvinist wrote:yes, i understand what you're saying, but you are then implying that you know what other people know, which again is what you reject anyone can do.


I don't think you do understand what I'm saying, but perhaps I've been too laconic.

Mind-reading isn't a motivation or a thought in our heads, but a manner by which thoughts and motivations might be plucked from someone else's brain. You don't have that ability, nor does anyone else. That's not a statement about what you know or intend, but about magic powers — not the same thing at all.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
annis
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3397
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:55 pm
Location: Madison, WI, USA

Postby mingshey » Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:10 am

This thread now reminds me of the debate of Zhuangzi and Huizi from the last story of 秋水("The Floods of Autumn") :P
User avatar
mingshey
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1325
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2003 6:38 am
Location: Seoul

Postby loqu » Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:42 am

calvinist wrote:It's just a question of how large the chain of circularity is... an argument with a small circle can be unacceptable, for instance: "the car is blue because the car is blue." there is only one element in that argument so it's not very strong. "the car is blue because i painted it blue" is much better but it's still circular, no matter what 'blue' means as long as it means the same thing in both instances the argument will be valid as long as painted still means to apply the 'blue' characteristic.


I'd say that is not circular at all. The car is blue because the colour of its surface reflects the light on some wavelength and absorbs the light on other wavelengths.
loqu
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 10:24 am
Location: Hispalis Insulaque Gaditana, Baetica

Postby annis » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:37 pm

mingshey wrote:This thread now reminds me of the debate of Zhuangzi and Huizi from the last story of 秋水("The Floods of Autumn")


Haha! I can see why.

--
wm, who almost never dips into the Outer Chapters.
annis
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3397
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:55 pm
Location: Madison, WI, USA

Postby quendidil » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:10 pm

Is this the debate you're referring to?
Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, "See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That's what fish really enjoy!"
Huizi said, "You're not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?"
Zhuangzi said, "You're not I, so how do you know I don't know what fish enjoy?"
Huizi said, "I'm not you, so I certainly don't know what you know. On the other hand, you're certainly not a fish — so that still proves you don't know what fish enjoy!"
Zhuangzi said, "Let's go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy — so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao."
quendidil
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:39 am

Postby calvinist » Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:02 pm

quendidil wrote:Is this the debate you're referring to?
Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, "See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That's what fish really enjoy!"
Huizi said, "You're not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?"
Zhuangzi said, "You're not I, so how do you know I don't know what fish enjoy?"
Huizi said, "I'm not you, so I certainly don't know what you know. On the other hand, you're certainly not a fish — so that still proves you don't know what fish enjoy!"
Zhuangzi said, "Let's go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy — so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao."

I love it! :lol:
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Lex » Sun Oct 12, 2008 5:18 pm

calvinist wrote:you have to admit that it is not impossible for people to deceive themselves about what they know to be true about reality, especially when admitting to the truth has such enormous consequences for everything.


Of course it is possible for people to deceive themselves. It is also possible for one to claim that others are deceiving themselves when those others disagree with oneself. Marxists call it "false consciousness" when a prole does not buy into the Marxist philosophy, for instance. It's a way that holders of ideologies "innoculate" themselves against heretical views.

calvinist wrote:I'm not saying I know this of my own, I'm saying that this is what God says... and you must admit that if the God of the Bible does exist, he would know that.


"[I]f the God of the Bible does exist", yes, but that's a big "if".

calvinist wrote:If my worldview is offensive to you, well I can't apologize for it, it's not the intention.


The only part of your worldview that has offended me so far is the part where you think you know what I know "deep inside" better than I do. Sorry, but I think it's downright rude to tell me that I don't know what I really believe, and more than a little risible to say that you know this because a book, that was written by people dead thousands of years before I was born, told you so.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Lex » Sun Oct 12, 2008 5:37 pm

IreneY wrote:If however I, for example, am convinced that I cannot trust my logic, my mind, to reach the right conclusions even after a lot of discussions, introspection etc, how can I possibly trust it to decide one way or another on such a weighty matter?


Ahh, but according to calvinist and those likeminded, you should not trust logic, even if your rational powers are infallible. You should simply turn off your rational and critical powers and have faith. :roll:
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby calvinist » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:50 am

Lex wrote:
IreneY wrote:If however I, for example, am convinced that I cannot trust my logic, my mind, to reach the right conclusions even after a lot of discussions, introspection etc, how can I possibly trust it to decide one way or another on such a weighty matter?


Ahh, but according to calvinist and those likeminded, you should not trust logic, even if your rational powers are infallible. You should simply turn off your rational and critical powers and have faith. :roll:

When did I ever say you should not use logic? Atheists don't own the rights to logic... all of my arguments assume the principles of logic such as the LNC. I don't believe in the dichotomy of "faith" and "reason" though. They are not mutually exclusive entities. Actually, each assumes the other. All discussion and debating uses a good deal of "faith" and "reason". Show me the fundamental principle which proves itself without referring to any other principles (otherwise it is not fundamental) and from which all other aspects of your world view are derived, and I will then agree that you do not use faith in your reasoning.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Twpsyn » Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:13 am

Why do I have to derive all the aspects of my world-view from one fundamental principle? I don't think much about logic, except when I'm being philosophical; I mostly derive my world-view from the world, as I have observed it in my few years on earth. The sky, the earth, cats, babies, Latin, these four walls, my teacher in third grade who was allergic to chocolate, ... this (in other words, all my brain's accumulated sensory stimuli) is the basis of my world-view. I don't see a fundamental philosophic principle in all that, but I don't seem to need one to go about my daily business, learning languages and buying groceries and reading the newspaper and typing words like these. All I need is the (passive, subconscious, automatic) trust that all of this world around me actually exists ... oh hey, maybe that's what you were looking for. There's not much of a god in it, is there?* Of course, I can only speak for myself when I say that. Both of which were my original points, which sparked this whole debate in the first place.

* I predict that your answer to this will be, 'but of course there is!' And I will proceed to say 'not from where I'm standing!' Which takes us back to where we started.
Twpsyn
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:30 am
Location: Head: in the clouds

Postby calvinist » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:44 pm

Twpsyn wrote:Why do I have to derive all the aspects of my world-view from one fundamental principle?

you don't, none of us do, that's my point. all reasoning is circular, and relies heavily on faith in things we can't necessarily prove in a traditional sense. for reasoning to not be circular we would have to have a linear derivation of each thing we "know" from more fundamental principles until we reached the most fundamental one, but our reasoning doesn't work that way. so, we agree. each thing we believe is supported by other things, which is supported by other things, etc. until finally you come back to the beginning. it doesn't reach back in a straight line to a starting point. i was merely trying to point out that "faith" and "reason" are not opposites, in fact they need and support each other.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Lex » Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:35 am

calvinist wrote:
Twpsyn wrote:Why do I have to derive all the aspects of my world-view from one fundamental principle?

you don't, none of us do, that's my point. all reasoning is circular, and relies heavily on faith in things we can't necessarily prove in a traditional sense.


Yes and no. All reasoning about the world relies eventually in faith in something, but that doesn't make it circular. Circular reasoning is where you assume x, prove y using x, then prove x using y. Axiomatic reasoning assumes x, uses x to prove y, and then stops. It doesn't assume that x can be proven using itself as an assumption, because that assumes that which is to be proven, which is cheating. In fact, axiomatic reasoning assumes that you can't prove x!
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Lex » Tue Oct 21, 2008 1:17 am

calvinist wrote:When did I ever say you should not use logic? Atheists don't own the rights to logic... all of my arguments assume the principles of logic such as the LNC.


Really?

Let's posit that I can reason my way to the conclusion that God exists. Let's also posit that all reasoning is circular. Following your idea about all reasoning being circular, I somewhere assumed that God exists, else my reasoning wouldn't have been a circular argument. But if I assumed that God exists from the start, that means that I didn't reason my way to that conclusion; I took it for granted from the start. This contradicts the initial assumption that I did reason my way to the conclusion that God exists. Therefore, your circular logic violates the law of non-contradiction.

Or how about this? The law of the excluded middle says I either took God for granted, or I didn't. If I did take God for granted, then I didn't reason my way to the conclusion that God exists. If I didn't take God for granted, I couldn't have reasoned my way to the conclusion that God exists, or it wouldn't be a circular argument. Therefore I didn't reason my way to the conclusion that God exists. This contradicts the initial assumption that I did reason my way to the conclusion that God exists. Therefore, your circular logic violates the law of non-contradiction.

:P
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Essorant » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:05 pm

As I mentioned earlier, everything exists, but it does not always exist in the same shape or exactly as people say it does. For if we have a word for something, then we have something for the word. And since "god" is a word, likewise, we have something for that word, a thing or being. But since our references to god(s) are all usually more spiritual, they suffer more from being confused and altered by interference of other spiritual influences, obviously our artistic imagination. If both god(s) and our imagination are greatly spiritual, how do we distinguish one spiritual from the other? How do we distinguish one spiritual as directly being a god, another spiritual as being a correct representation of god, and another spiritual as being an incorrect representation of the god, and many and various things in between? I don't think we may. All we may say is that gods exist. Existance is the only thing we may be sure of. For even if they don't exist in one manner (beyond human creation), they still exist in another manner (within human creation) just as much existance as the ground under our feet. Imagination is no less existance compared to unimagination, anymore than air is compared to earth. It is just a different kind of existance. Many a time the existance of something does not turn out to be what man expected it to be, therefore, he falsely says it does not exist. But instead of not existing, it just exists in a different way. Existance does not need to live up to man's expectations in order to exist. Existance is there whether you like it or not.

<pre></pre>
Essorant
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:35 pm
Location: Regina, SK; Canada

Postby megas_yiannakis » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:26 am

My 2 cents;

How can one establish the existance or non-existance of God through mere conversation? It needs to be something real, from one's own experience...

A christian will never be able to convince an atheist that God exists, nor an atheist convince a christian God doesnt.

We just need to accept that others have different beliefs and get on with life.

Giannis.
megas_yiannakis
 

Postby calvinist » Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:01 am

megas_yiannakis wrote:My 2 cents;

How can one establish the existance or non-existance of God through mere conversation? It needs to be something real, from one's own experience...

A christian will never be able to convince an atheist that God exists, nor an atheist convince a christian God doesnt.

We just need to accept that others have different beliefs and get on with life.

Giannis.

I'm pretty sure that everyone on this forum knows that they aren't going to convince anyone else of their beliefs... but you're missing the point. This forum is here for people to engage each other mentally, arguing is an exercise of the mind... it helps us to think critically about our own beliefs and lets us understand how others with different views think about things... that's the point. And maybe, sometimes, we realize our thinking is faulty and change our views, but that isn't the main point. Again, it's a place where we can all lay out our beliefs nakedly and let others critique them and see how they stand up. My beliefs have been strengthened by debating with people, by either them unwillingly proving something I already assumed to be true, or just because it forced me to face difficult questions and work through them.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Kasper » Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:06 am

megas_yiannakis wrote:My 2 cents;

How can one establish the existance or non-existance of God through mere conversation? It needs to be something real, from one's own experience...



is there nothing in the common human experience that could point to the existence of (a) God(s)?




megas_yiannakis wrote:A christian will never be able to convince an atheist that God exists, nor an atheist convince a christian God doesnt.

Giannis.


well... it seems that history would prove you wrong, afterall, millions people have been converted by various religions.


On a side note: I wonder whether the atheists on this forum would propose that there is no such thing as a spirit or soul, or for that matter a spiritual experience? To me the existence of spiritual experiences would at least be indicative of the existence of 'something' beyond that which we can rationally proof, and something that could be associated with the existence of (a) 'divine' being(s).
Kasper
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 799
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:01 am
Location: Melbourne

Postby Essorant » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:48 am

I try to get people away from questioning if a god exists because I think it avoids the truth behind it. Existance is already a given! No matter how one sets it, we refer to someone or something that exists,accepting or denying therein, because there is someone or something to refer to and accept or deny in the first place. Once you accept that as a given, you see that it is actually about whether the existance lives up to someone's particular expectations whereby they are willing to call this existant being or thing "existant", a prerequisite for directly acknowledging what they already indirectly acknowledge by referring to it in the first place. Atheists indirectly acknowledge that gods exist because they refer to gods, but then they directly deny that existance because it doesn't please and live up to their expectations of how they think the evidence ought to be. Since gods are not bodily enough, nor along some line of modern Science, nor beyond the imagination enough, nor unmythical enough, nor beyond religion enough et cetera, for them, they directly deny what they indirectly acknowledge. The mistake therein is saying there is an absence of existance only because the presence does not live up to their expectations.<pre> </pre>
Essorant
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:35 pm
Location: Regina, SK; Canada

Postby IreneY » Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:31 pm

So if I got it right, vampires, fairies, Santa Claus, unicorns, minotaurs, trolls, common sense and whathaveyou exist because I sometimes go into the trouble of denying their existence? Or is it because quite a few people used to really believe they existed?
User avatar
IreneY
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:27 am
Location: U.S.A (not American though)

Postby Lex » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:52 pm

Kasper wrote:I wonder whether the atheists on this forum would propose that there is no such thing as a spirit or soul, or for that matter a spiritual experience? To me the existence of spiritual experiences would at least be indicative of the existence of 'something' beyond that which we can rationally proof, and something that could be associated with the existence of (a) 'divine' being(s).


Well, obviously, I'm an atheist, so I'll bite...

1) I won't go so far as to say that there is no such thing as a soul or spirit, in the metaphysical sense, because I can't prove a negative. I will say that I don't believe in souls or spirits.

2) To me a "spiritual" experience is just a poetic way of saying an emotionally powerful experience. I believe those exist. I don't believe that they are created by some sort of direct contact with spiritual beings. So, no, I don't think they are necessarily indicative of a divine being.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Lex » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:03 pm

Essorant wrote:I try to get people away from questioning if a god exists because I think it avoids the truth behind it. Existance is already a given! No matter how one sets it, we refer to someone or something that exists,accepting or denying therein, because there is someone or something to refer to and accept or deny in the first place.


You must be taking logic lessons from calvinist! :wink:

You are assuming that which is to be proved. Just because I talk about God, that doesn't mean that he exists. The concept of God exists. That allows us to talk about him, whether he really exists or not. We could talk about unicorns or the Flying Spaghetti Monster just as easily, but that doesn't mean they exist, either. Or are you an honest-to-God Platonist, who believes that ideal forms or concepts do exist in some Platonic realm?
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Lex » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:08 pm

Kasper wrote:is there nothing in the common human experience that could point to the existence of (a) God(s)?


Not unambiguously, in my opinion. Some people look at a butterfly and see the hand of God. I see evolution. Some look at the stars in the sky and see the hand of God. I see the remnants of the Big Bang. It's all a matter of interpretation.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby calvinist » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:38 pm

Lex wrote:
Essorant wrote:I try to get people away from questioning if a god exists because I think it avoids the truth behind it. Existance is already a given! No matter how one sets it, we refer to someone or something that exists,accepting or denying therein, because there is someone or something to refer to and accept or deny in the first place.


You must be taking logic lessons from calvinist! :wink:

You are assuming that which is to be proved. Just because I talk about God, that doesn't mean that he exists. The concept of God exists. That allows us to talk about him, whether he really exists or not. We could talk about unicorns or the Flying Spaghetti Monster just as easily, but that doesn't mean they exist, either. Or are you an honest-to-God Platonist, who believes that ideal forms or concepts do exist in some Platonic realm?

I agree with you totally Lex. I can differentiate between the idea of something and the actual thing itself... I don't really know where Essorant is going with that.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby calvinist » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:48 pm

Lex wrote:
Kasper wrote:is there nothing in the common human experience that could point to the existence of (a) God(s)?


Not unambiguously, in my opinion. Some people look at a butterfly and see the hand of God. I see evolution. Some look at the stars in the sky and see the hand of God. I see the remnants of the Big Bang. It's all a matter of interpretation.

I wanted to point out your statement that "It's all a matter of interpretation." I agree with you on this and would say that that extends to all of our knowledge... whether mathematics, language, feelings, anything. Knowledge always has an object and a subject... so there's always a subjective part to it. That is why I argue that all reasoning (or knowledge) is circular.. In the end it's up to our interpretation of the data: it's relevance, determination of whether it's "orderly" as in "science" or "chaotic" as in "chance". These are subjective judgements, even though they may be widely accepted. Our interpretation of anything is dependent upon our preexisting beliefs and understanding of things which is why it is all circular... I don't mean a small circular argument like "There is a God, therefore, God exists." The circle is much larger and contains many elements which support other elements within the circle, but fundamentally it is circular... not linear.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Lex » Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:38 pm

calvinist wrote:I agree with you totally Lex. I can differentiate between the idea of something and the actual thing itself... I don't really know where Essorant is going with that.


Thank you. And I totally agree with this post of yours below.

calvinist wrote:This forum is here for people to engage each other mentally, arguing is an exercise of the mind... it helps us to think critically about our own beliefs and lets us understand how others with different views think about things... that's the point. And maybe, sometimes, we realize our thinking is faulty and change our views, but that isn't the main point. Again, it's a place where we can all lay out our beliefs nakedly and let others critique them and see how they stand up. My beliefs have been strengthened by debating with people, by either them unwillingly proving something I already assumed to be true, or just because it forced me to face difficult questions and work through them.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Lex » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:33 pm

calvinist wrote:I wanted to point out your statement that "It's all a matter of interpretation." I agree with you on this and would say that that extends to all of our knowledge... whether mathematics, language, feelings, anything. Knowledge always has an object and a subject... so there's always a subjective part to it. That is why I argue that all reasoning (or knowledge) is circular.. In the end it's up to our interpretation of the data: it's relevance, determination of whether it's "orderly" as in "science" or "chaotic" as in "chance". These are subjective judgements, even though they may be widely accepted. Our interpretation of anything is dependent upon our preexisting beliefs and understanding of things which is why it is all circular... I don't mean a small circular argument like "There is a God, therefore, God exists." The circle is much larger and contains many elements which support other elements within the circle, but fundamentally it is circular... not linear.


OK. I think I understand more where you're coming from now. I think you're conflating two different senses of the word "reasoning".

One typical use of the word "reasoning" is logical deduction. In logical deduction, circularity is a no-no, no matter how large the circle is. Even in pure fields of thought like logic or math, you don't assume the statement you're trying to prove. You might assume that the statement isn't true, in order to prove that that results in a contradiction, but that's different. And you might say that the results of a proof are implicitly contained in the initial axioms, which is true. That's what math and logic do; they explore the implicit consequences of given assumptions. But still, they don't explicitly assume that a statement to be proved is true from the get-go.

The other use of "reasoning" is more an empirical or "scientific" sort of reasoning about a worldview, which is where I think you're coming from (although I don't know for sure). In this type of reasoning, yes, you do make assumptions. In science, they're called "theories". You test a theory against evidence, and also test it for logical self-contradictions. The theory has to be internally self-consistent as well as not being falsified by evidence. The only problem with metaphysical theories is that they aren't falsifiable like scientific theories are, so you're only left with the self-consistency check. And a good metaphysical theory is like a good conspiracy theory; it's formulated so that it's impossible to find inconsistencies in it. My materialist worldview is no better than yours in that respect, as far as I can tell.

That being said, in standard Christianity, there are good arguments that there are inconsistencies. For instance, the standard Christian conception of God is that he's all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. IMO, this logically clashes with the existence of evil in the world. Either you have to throw out one of the three supposed properties of God, or you have to throw out the idea of evil and claim that evil doesn't really exist (which is not terribly convincing). Other attempts to explain away this problem haven't been convincing either, at least to me.

And in materialism, the whopper is free will. If I am only a bunch of particles driven by physical laws (deterministic or probabilistic really makes no difference), then how can I have free will? Either I have to throw out the concept of free will, or I have to add another ingredient into my worldview to explain it. Or I can try to resolve the conundrum like philosopher Daniel Dennett does with a long convoluted argument that claims to prove that you can have your free will and be a materialist, too. I don't find his argument any more convincing than I do the theodicy arguments of theologians. So, I just choose not to believe in free will. :wink: Then I try not to think about that when thinking about ethics, because that makes my head hurt.

But if you're a Calvinist, do you believe in free will?
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Essorant » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:57 am

Lex

You are assuming that which is to be proved. Just because I talk about God, that doesn't mean that he exists. The concept of God exists. That allows us to talk about him, whether he really exists or not. We could talk about unicorns or the Flying Spaghetti Monster just as easily, but that doesn't mean they exist, either. Or are you an honest-to-God Platonist, who believes that ideal forms or concepts do exist in some Platonic realm?


No. But I will point out that the concept <i>is</i> a proof, not a disproof, whether direct or indirect. It is direct proof if it is part of god and it is indirect proof if it refers to a god. What we know for sure though is that it exists. And if that is all that a god is, then a god nevertheless at least exists as that much. There is great difference, not an absence, of existance. Whatever level you take it to, there will always be that much: existance. God will exist in one way or another. Concept or not, he exists.

The reason we can make distinctions between differences, describing what is "natural" "artistic", etc. is because the object in question already exists. You can't know and judge something that isn't there in the first place to be known and judged. And that is the same for god, no matter how much he is a "concept" or not.

If you accept existance as a given already, then the more important question comes in: is this existant god <i>just</i> a concept, or something more? Now that, now that takes a wise man to answer.

But"nonexistant" is just a "cop out" (to use a modern phrase).

<pre> </pre>
Essorant
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:35 pm
Location: Regina, SK; Canada

Postby Lex » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:40 am

Essorant wrote:... I will point out that the concept <i>is</i> a proof, not a disproof, whether direct or indirect. It is direct proof if it is part of god and it is indirect proof if it refers to a god.


But what if it refers to something that doesn't exist (other than as a concept)? What if the concept is a circular reference, that only refers to itself? What is that a proof of? That we have a concept of God? We already knew that.

Essorant wrote:What we know for sure though is that it exists. And if that is all that a god is, then a god nevertheless at least exists as that much. There is great difference, not an absence, of existance. Whatever level you take it to, there will always be that much: existance. God will exist in one way or another. Concept or not, he exists.


So you're saying that God exists as a concept, whether or not he exists as an actual entity? If so, I guess I agree, but that's a sort of slippery way of talking about existence, IMHO. Especially the existence of God. I think that people, when they talk about the existence of God, implicitly agree that God exists as a concept, or they wouldn't be able to argue about him. It's whether he exists as an entity outside of our minds that is the bone of contention, and hence the interesting question.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby calvinist » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:14 am

Essorant wrote:God will exist in one way or another. Concept or not, he exists.

I really don't get how this advances anything. God and the concept of God are not the same thing.... either one can exist alone. You say "he" exists, but "he" is not the correct pronoun for a concept... "it" is. You yourself show that you understand they are separate entities because in your own post you switch between "he" and "it". Any word when standing by itself unmodified stands for the thing itself: car, boat, John..... "picture of car" is not the same as "car", neither is "concept of car" the same as "car". If you think so, I will make you a great deal... I will sell you a "picture of a Ferrari" or perhaps a "concept of a Ferrari" for a mere $50,000. Much cheaper than a "Ferrari" and when you look in your garage and you don't see the car just remember.... "concept or not, it exists."
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby calvinist » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:43 am

Lex wrote:
calvinist wrote:I wanted to point out your statement that "It's all a matter of interpretation." I agree with you on this and would say that that extends to all of our knowledge... whether mathematics, language, feelings, anything. Knowledge always has an object and a subject... so there's always a subjective part to it. That is why I argue that all reasoning (or knowledge) is circular.. In the end it's up to our interpretation of the data: it's relevance, determination of whether it's "orderly" as in "science" or "chaotic" as in "chance". These are subjective judgements, even though they may be widely accepted. Our interpretation of anything is dependent upon our preexisting beliefs and understanding of things which is why it is all circular... I don't mean a small circular argument like "There is a God, therefore, God exists." The circle is much larger and contains many elements which support other elements within the circle, but fundamentally it is circular... not linear.


OK. I think I understand more where you're coming from now. I think you're conflating two different senses of the word "reasoning".

One typical use of the word "reasoning" is logical deduction. In logical deduction, circularity is a no-no, no matter how large the circle is. Even in pure fields of thought like logic or math, you don't assume the statement you're trying to prove. You might assume that the statement isn't true, in order to prove that that results in a contradiction, but that's different. And you might say that the results of a proof are implicitly contained in the initial axioms, which is true. That's what math and logic do; they explore the implicit consequences of given assumptions. But still, they don't explicitly assume that a statement to be proved is true from the get-go.

The other use of "reasoning" is more an empirical or "scientific" sort of reasoning about a worldview, which is where I think you're coming from (although I don't know for sure). In this type of reasoning, yes, you do make assumptions. In science, they're called "theories". You test a theory against evidence, and also test it for logical self-contradictions. The theory has to be internally self-consistent as well as not being falsified by evidence. The only problem with metaphysical theories is that they aren't falsifiable like scientific theories are, so you're only left with the self-consistency check. And a good metaphysical theory is like a good conspiracy theory; it's formulated so that it's impossible to find inconsistencies in it. My materialist worldview is no better than yours in that respect, as far as I can tell.

That being said, in standard Christianity, there are good arguments that there are inconsistencies. For instance, the standard Christian conception of God is that he's all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. IMO, this logically clashes with the existence of evil in the world. Either you have to throw out one of the three supposed properties of God, or you have to throw out the idea of evil and claim that evil doesn't really exist (which is not terribly convincing). Other attempts to explain away this problem haven't been convincing either, at least to me.

And in materialism, the whopper is free will. If I am only a bunch of particles driven by physical laws (deterministic or probabilistic really makes no difference), then how can I have free will? Either I have to throw out the concept of free will, or I have to add another ingredient into my worldview to explain it. Or I can try to resolve the conundrum like philosopher Daniel Dennett does with a long convoluted argument that claims to prove that you can have your free will and be a materialist, too. I don't find his argument any more convincing than I do the theodicy arguments of theologians. So, I just choose not to believe in free will. :wink: Then I try not to think about that when thinking about ethics, because that makes my head hurt.

But if you're a Calvinist, do you believe in free will?

Whoa!.... large quote! :shock:
Anyway, yes.. I agree with everything you said above. I would argue, obviously, that Christianity is self-consistent though. The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good argument is a very dense topic... and I won't pretend I have a perfect answer for it, but I have thought through that topic much before. Suffice to say, in the Christian view God will bring an end to evil eventually, and "good" in the Christian definition is that which brings glory to God... I believe God allowed evil into the world so he could give his own life to save us from it which ultimately brings glory to him..... so in that view the temporary existence of evil is an ultimate "good". that's a dense topic itself but I'd rather not dive into that. As far as free will is concerned, you hit that pretty much on the head too. I don't believe in free will when it is taken to mean "your actions are not determined by any thing at all"... that means we're totally chaotic, random robots which doesn't seem to be verified by experience.... Our actions are not forced upon us though, except by our own desires.... which is ultimately what we are slaves to. That's where you tie in sin and the spiritual side... but we see things very similarly... we just explain it all by very different assumptions.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Essorant » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:15 am

Lex


But what if it refers to something that doesn't exist (other than as a concept)? What if the concept is a circular reference, that only refers to itself? What is that a proof of? That we have a concept of God? We already knew that.



The imagination, and a concept therein, is just as much in conjunction with the rest of the universe as anything else you may refer to It is not in a void. It does not live off itself. It depends on the rest of the universe as well. The concept of god does not originally come from the concept of god, nor continue without being in conjunction and connected to what is beyond and outside it as well. The concept itself exists. And whatever it came from exists. It is about "god" because there is something to call a "god" and to be a concept about in the first place. In this way we have great proof that whoever/whatever "god" refers to certainly exists.


So you're saying that God exists as a concept, whether or not he exists as an actual entity? If so, I guess I agree, but that's a sort of slippery way of talking about existence, IMHO. Especially the existence of God. I think that people, when they talk about the existence of God, implicitly agree that God exists as a concept, or they wouldn't be able to argue about him. It's whether he exists as an entity outside of our minds that is the bone of contention, and hence the interesting question.


I don't know if god is a concept. But a concept exists. Therefore if when we say "god" we refer to a concept, then certainly "god" exists, for the concept exists. But as I said earlier, a concept does not just refer to itself, therefore, we are talking about more. We have a whole universe out there. Are you going to go through every other possibility and question its existance too, if by chance it is what "god" may refer to, or by some secret "circular reference"? Or will you wisely yield to the fact that whoever/whatever this being or thing is that we refer to with "god", must needs exist?



Calvinist,

I hope my comment to lex helps clarify what I meant between "god" and "concept".

<pre> </pre>
Last edited by Essorant on Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Essorant
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:35 pm
Location: Regina, SK; Canada

Postby Kasper » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:52 am

i'm always rather prone to follow alternative perceptions of existence, but this I find very hard to follow.

Essorant wrote:The imagination, and a concept therein, is just as much in conjunction with the rest of the universe as anything else you may refer to It is not in a void. It does not live off itself. It wholly depends on the rest of the universe.


So what does a concept lives off? You seem to answer: "the rest of the universe".

Why?
How?

does not a concept not exist merely the imagination of those perceive it? what else is there in the universe that supports a concept? I would really like an answer that is more concrete than 'everything'?


The concept of god didn't come from the concept of god, but it came from something outside itself. Something or things else that exist.



Yes, but did the concept not come from those people who perceived the concept? If yes, then is it not so that when those people start to disregard the concept, the concept ceases to be?

The concept itself exists. And whatever it came from exists. Therefore whatever or whoever "god" originally is, we may be sure that entity exists.


non sequor. why does it follow that because a concept exists, the entity that is envisioned in the concept must also exist, beyond being a mere concept?

and does this mean that when the concept of god ceases to be envisioned, God himself ceases to be?

The concept is about "god" because there is something to call a "god" and to be a concept about in the first place. In this way we have great proof that whoever/whatever "god" refers to certainly exists.


iterum non sequor. it seems to me that we still have no more than a concept...

you now also seem to assert that God existed prior the concept of god, since the entity is needed to form a concept about it. So does the concept come before hte entity, or the entity before the concept?



I don't know if god is a concept. But a concept exists. Therefore if when we say "god" we refer to a concept, then certainly "god" exists, for the concept exists.



so...
1) the existence of the entity as a concept is uncertain;
2) however the concept is certain;
3) therefore the entity envisioned in the concept is certain;
4) for the concept is certain.

...what??


seriously, i am not trying to take the mickey out of you. i am interested in this perception of existence, but i just find it really hard to follow.

Cheers,
K
Kasper
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 799
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:01 am
Location: Melbourne

Postby Lex » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:27 am

calvinist wrote:Anyway, yes.. I agree with everything you said above. I would argue, obviously, that Christianity is self-consistent though. The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good argument is a very dense topic... and I won't pretend I have a perfect answer for it, but I have thought through that topic much before. Suffice to say, in the Christian view God will bring an end to evil eventually, and "good" in the Christian definition is that which brings glory to God... I believe God allowed evil into the world so he could give his own life to save us from it which ultimately brings glory to him..... so in that view the temporary existence of evil is an ultimate "good".


OK. Conceivable, but still begs the question why he let some people suffer from evil. Not to mention that his making a world with evil in it, so he can father himself, and then suffer and die on the cross, seems a roundabout way of going about things, when he could have just made a world without evil in the first place and skipped all that nasty crucifixtion and crown-of-thorns business. But the Lord works in mysterious ways...

calvinist wrote:that's a dense topic itself but I'd rather not dive into that. As far as free will is concerned, you hit that pretty much on the head too. I don't believe in free will when it is taken to mean "your actions are not determined by any thing at all"... that means we're totally chaotic, random robots which doesn't seem to be verified by experience.... Our actions are not forced upon us though, except by our own desires.... which is ultimately what we are slaves to. That's where you tie in sin and the spiritual side... but we see things very similarly... we just explain it all by very different assumptions.


Hmmm, I dunno if we see things similarly or not. Free will to me means that we're in control, not forces outside of us. It doesn't necessarily mean we're chaotic or random at all, really, although it does mean we're potentially very unpredictable. And if "[o]ur actions are not forced upon us", that would mean that we do have free will, wouldn't it? Or if we are controlled "by our own desires", that would mean we don't have free will? I'm confused. I'm interpreting this to mean that you don't believe in free will, because no matter how much we want to be good, we are destined to sin? And so it's all up to God's grace to choose whether we get to go up or down, because without it we'd all go down?

Anyway, the reason I ask about Calvinism and free will... Most Christians think that materialism is an evil philosophy because it does not allow free will, and lack of free will does not allow any meaningful sort of ethical choice. A person who believes that he has no free will could believe he is not responsible for his actions. A person could use this philosophy as a rationalization for doing anything, however horrible. It would be a sort of secular "the devil made me do it" philosophy. True Calvinism, although Christian, suffers from a similar problem as materialism in the eyes of many Christians. A person could, if convinced that he is one of the pre-ordained saved, convince himself that he can do anything without suffering the consequences of damnation. Do you believe in pre-ordination, or do you believe that God's thumbs-up/thumbs-down regarding your soul is dependent on your actions?

Have you ever read The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, by James Hogg? You might find it interesting, I dunno.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby Lex » Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:04 am

Ummm... wow.

Essorant wrote:The concept [of God] itself exists. And whatever it came from exists. It is about "god" because there is something to call a "god" and to be a concept about in the first place. In this way we have great proof that whoever/whatever "god" refers to certainly exists.


Uhhh, no, we don't. The fact that the concept "God" exists does not prove that there is a God, anymore that the fact that concept "unicorn" exists proves that there are unicorns.

Essorant wrote:Or will you wisely yield to the fact that whoever/whatever this being or thing is that we refer to with "god", must needs exist?


I guess I'm not that wise.

Here's a visual aid:

"moon" --------> my_head('moon') ---------> moon
"moon" --------> your_head('moon') ---------> moon

Here, the word "moon" points to or refers to the concept 'moon' in our heads, which in turn refers to a real thing out there in the sky.

"smurf" --------> my_head('smurf') --------->
"smurf" --------> your_head('smurf') --------->

Here, the word "smurf" refers to the concept 'smurf' in our heads, which in turn refers to.... nothing, since smurfs don't really exist.

According to your argument, since I am talking about smurfs, and thus have the concept of smurfs in my head, the little blue creatures really do exist.
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Postby calvinist » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:11 am

Lex wrote:Anyway, the reason I ask about Calvinism and free will... Most Christians think that materialism is an evil philosophy because it does not allow free will, and lack of free will does not allow any meaningful sort of ethical choice. A person who believes that he has no free will could believe he is not responsible for his actions. A person could use this philosophy as a rationalization for doing anything, however horrible. It would be a sort of secular "the devil made me do it" philosophy. True Calvinism, although Christian, suffers from a similar problem as materialism in the eyes of many Christians. A person could, if convinced that he is one of the pre-ordained saved, convince himself that he can do anything without suffering the consequences of damnation. Do you believe in pre-ordination, or do you believe that God's thumbs-up/thumbs-down regarding your soul is dependent on your actions?

Well this is where it gets really deep.... I do believe in pre-destination, not only in the limited sense of salvation but of everything.... I believe every speck of dust in the corner of my closet is exactly where God is intending it to be. Now, I know what you all are thinking.... but I don't believe this makes us robots or machines, or necessarily destroys "free will". We are slaves to our desires, and our deepest desires are really in a way what defines who we are and so we're slaves to.... ourselves. Sounds strange but we've all experienced the "contrary wills" within us. Now I believe we are all born in sin, which is to say that our hearts are self-centered and we want to glorify ourselves. We are in a sense magnets charged to be attracted to evil.... and so we sin... because we want to... but we can't not sin... because we will never want to not sin. there is nothing stopping us... other than our own wills. it's like if your favorite color is blue and then you decide you'll make it orange... you can just change it... your desires, your likes and dislikes, what could be called your will, must be changed..... you can't change your own will because it would be your will that would change it. So God changes the will and the person is "reborn" with a will that desires God above all else. In the end we are all still looking to please ourselves... but the Christian finds his greatest pleasure in God. i'll just say..... it's complicated :wink: so no, salvation is not dependent upon actions because that would mean your actions are the cause of salvation.... however, one who has been saved by God will act in accordance with God's law because he will want to... his desires have been changed... if his actions are otherwise, that shows his desires are otherwise, which means he hasn't had his heart changed by God. i know... it's a lot to swallow.
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Essorant » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:34 am

Kasper,

So what does a concept lives off? You seem to answer: "the rest of the universe".

Why?
How?

does not a concept not exist merely the imagination of those perceive it? what else is there in the universe that supports a concept? I would really like an answer that is more concrete than 'everything'?



Well think of a seed. It needs the support of the soil, water, warmth, etc, and everything else that allows it to grow. In like wise the imagination grows. It is "watered" by the rest of the universe. Without it cannot even grow. It can't be in a "void" and feed on itself, , because it needs to feed off the order of the rest of the universe to be itself in the first place.



Yes, but did the concept not come from those people who perceived the concept? If yes, then is it not so that when those people start to disregard the concept, the concept ceases to be?



No. It came from having a world to perceive and have concepts about in the first place. Without that they would have nothing even to perceive, let alone even begin to begin to have a concept about anything.



why does it follow that because a concept exists, the entity that is envisioned in the concept must also exist, beyond being a mere concept?



The same way a mirror needs light and an object in order to reflect something. If there is nothing to reflect, then it does not reflect. Likewise if nothing is there to have a concept about then you don't have a concept either. But we do have a concept, because there is an existant entity to have an existant concept about. :)


and does this mean that when the concept of god ceases to be envisioned, God himself ceases to be?


No, I don't think that at all.


you now also seem to assert that God existed prior the concept of god, since the entity is needed to form a concept about it. So does the concept come before hte entity, or the entity before the concept?


The entity comes before. All our ideas come from things that already exist, including our ideas of a god.


1) the existence of the entity as a concept is uncertain;
2) however the concept is certain;
3) therefore the entity envisioned in the concept is certain;
4) for the concept is certain.

...what??



Let me amend that with my own words, if you don't mind:

1) existance of an entity/entities is certain
2) existance of a concept/concepts is certain
3) The correspondence between the entities and concepts is uncertain.



Do you see what I am trying to say?

<pre> </pre>
Essorant
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:35 pm
Location: Regina, SK; Canada

Postby Essorant » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:30 am

Lex,

Uhhh, no, we don't. The fact that the concept "God" exists does not prove that there is a God, anymore that the fact that concept "unicorn" exists proves that there are unicorns.



The concepts prove the existance of entities and much more in. They prove not only that there are entities, but that entities may be portrayed in artistic ways. That horses may be portrayed with horns on their heads. That powerful beings or forces may be interpreted in this way or that way. And they prove a signature of man, that he uses a great and artful touch of imagination. Nothing above is nonexistant. Especially not the result of using our imagination.


Here, the word "smurf" refers to the concept 'smurf' in our heads, which in turn refers to.... nothing, since smurfs don't really exist.


That is not true. Smurfs do refer to living beings, but in an imaginative way. They are meant to. That is part of what art is about. It would be no different if I looked at you, and then artistically painted you blue and put a smurf hat on you. Nothing is nonexistant for that to happen. You exist just as much whether I paint you or not as a smurf. And when I paint you as a smurf, it still is an artistic representation of you, an existant being.

<pre></pre>
Essorant
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:35 pm
Location: Regina, SK; Canada

Postby quendidil » Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:38 pm

So what you're saying in the end is that they exist within our brains?
quendidil
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:39 am

PreviousNext

Return to The Academy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests