I need some feedback on the assertion that Pantheists have proof of their god because their god is nature. This was brought up by someone on a forum after my response to a Creationist when I said that there is no proof for any gods (and alluded specifically to Abrahamic gods). The poster said that there is no proof for ANTHROPOMORPHIC gods - but then suggests that Pantheists have proof of their god because nature is god to them and nature exists.

Thoughts? Counter-arguments?

Tags: argument, evidence, existence, god, nature, pantheism, pantheists, proof

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I pointed out that as far as science can prove (that the universe created itself) is exactly what happened, and you abandoned that line of argument to take up another.

What are these characteristics of nature revealed through science that share many of the characteristics we associate with gods?

I doubt if many reputable scientists maintain that "the universe created itself." Why? Self-creation is a contradiction in terms. For example, if I created myself, then I existed before I created myself.

What are the "huge implications for humanity" to which you referred?What makes nature sacred other than a pre-existing religion? It doesn't start out sacred! Sacredness is a subjective human concept, not an objective fact.

I've said about 3 times that sacredness is a subjective human concept, and yet you seem to be presenting that idea here as if it is countering some argument of mine. Could you clarify because I find this confusing.

You're confusing me, then, for if nature is sacred merely subjectively, then the supposed sacredness of nature is an opinion and not a fact. There are far more opinions about nature than facts about nature, but only facts about nature qualify as knowledge.

As I said earlier, because any idea of divinity or sacredness is something that humans made up, considering or not considering nature sacred has implications solely in terms of humanity's relationship to nature. To consider nature sacred means one will treat it as sacred, not as resources to be exploited - these two orientations result in profoundly different ways of going about the world. Treating nature as resources to be exploited results in pollution, mass extinctions and climate change. Treating nature as sacred could potentially result in a world much friendlier to many more species, including our own since we are in danger of altering our environment to the point of creating much misery for large swaths of humanity.

So, it's your position that what you believe is based not on research or tests or proofs, but merely upon the benefits to be derived from beliefs, even if they are false beliefs?

You can't look at things "as they really are" without the intellectual tools we've developed over time. Logic. The various sciences. The unpredictable part of the universe you refer to is not the world in which we live. There are no quantum refrigerators who cease to exist here and pop into existence somewhere near alpha centauri. What expert can you refer me to who has evidence evolution proceeds in a way based on chaos theory, quantum indeterminacy, and so on? That's a new one on me. Evolution has to be linear if only because traits are passed down from parent to progeny. That's the way DNA works..

Perhaps at this point I should mention that I have a degree in molecular genetics.

Consider it mentioned. I have an MA in philosophy and have taught logic and comparative religions. We're in my neighborhood here. 

As for experts who describe how evolution explores a landscape of possible forms, check out Stuart Kaufmann's work (he's written several books) d here are a few others:

I have no idea if your little bibliography actually supports your position or if it's just a tactic to make me give up and go away. A few salient quotes to discuss, perhaps? I'm not going to have time to read all of your references any more than you'd read a reading list I might send your way. This isn't the only thread I'm participating in and I do have a life outside TA.

I don't see anything testable in any of your hypotheses.

I haven't presented any hypotheses - I distinguished between scientific knowledge and subjective human concepts. Sacredness and considering nature sacred are subjective human choices. There is no way to prove anything is sacred because "sacred" is not a scientific concept. You may choose to believe that you dismiss all aspects of human thought which are not scientific - more power to you on that one, sir.

I do dismiss an "proof" that isn't testable or verifiable.

 I would tell him he wins. You believe in Nature.

The Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English term god is a broad one. The Bible mentions many gods. Moses, the Judges of Israel, Jesus, Satan, Angels, Jehovah, Dagon, Molech, Baal, Ashtoreth, Tammuz the Sumerian King. The word simply means anything or anyone who is attributed might in as much as the might is greater than that of the beholder; or anyone or thing that is venerated. Thus, Eric Clapton is a god. Frodo is a god. Clapton is real, Frodo is fictional but they are both considered gods. Clapton, Jesus, and the Judges of Israel were all anthropomorphic gods, which makes the argument for the existence of gods lame at best. It's pointless and only reveals an ignorance of the simple definition of gods.

Do Naturalistic Pantheists believe God is self aware? If not, then they don't actually believe any different than atheists,they just choose to call reality God.

It's true that it can be hard to distinguish pantheists from atheists, given that pantheists explicitly deny any anthropomorphism to their concept of the sacred. But it's not exactly right to say that pantheists simply "call" reality god.  Whatever one's definition of god, it implies something that inspires awe, wonder, and is a greater reality than oneself deserving of a humble and worshipful attitude.  Not all atheists feel that way about nature so there is a difference.

As for the issue of self-awareness - I would say requiring that of god is anthropomorphic because the concept of self-awareness is entirely human. Is nature self-aware the way a human is self-aware? I doubt it, but then I think the human conception of self-awareness is largely an illusion produced by the way our brains function. See leading neuroscientist Antonio  Damsio's "The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness" and "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain".


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