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I recently responded to the "I'm Not a Christian Anymore" thread. As a philosophical Christian Theist, I hate to see people reject Christ due to misconceptions. I offered some thoughts.
I was challenged on God's existence and nature so I'll offer some thoughts for anyone who would like to discuss. I find it's always necessary to dispel straw men and define terms first.
Motivation. I am interested in civil dialogue on what I think is the most important issue of all time. I think there are more distractions keeping people from the knowledge of God than at any time in history. Yet, I think there are more reasons to believe Theism is true than at any time! It's too important to just view these discussions as a contest - to win the debate at all costs.
No matter how one feels about the "Religious Right", an obnoxiously religious family member, or atrocities done in the name of God, etc. Theism just may be true.
Humility is required in the quest for truth. Respect is required for those on the quest. I hope to offer both.
Worldview. It all comes down to which worldview best explains the data of the universe. If Naturalism is true, then atheism follows. If Theism is true, I think Christianity is the best theistic option.
Classical (or Christian) Theism. Something is ontologically ultimate and therefore eternal and necessary. It is either something of the order of matter, or something of the order of mind. Theism holds to the latter and a conceptual analysis leads to God who is the personal Creator, is powerful, transcendent, and distinct from "his" creation yet active in it.
Christianity. The view that God revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ's claims concerning himself are true and he is authoritative in everything he taught or affirmed.
Faith. Broadly, faith is the assent, or trust, or affirmation that a proposition is true. It has been defined on a scale from "blind faith" (fideism) to reasonable (or informed, supported) faith. I hold to the latter.
Faith is not a way of "knowing something", it is the application of what you know (or think you know). Some form of faith is a component of virtually everything in life - from the scientific method to personal relationships. But faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. All the faith in the world will not make something true.
One ought to place one's faith where the evidence points, even if one cannot prove the proposition 100% or does not have exhaustive data.
Proof. While it is difficult to prove something 100%, one can nevertheless offer and consider proofs (reasons or evidence). 100% certainty is not necessary for a view to be justified or considered knowledge. I offer proofs for Christian Theism not "100% proof".
A cumulative case is also often necessary. I think various arguments combine to show Theism is true.
Burden of Proof. When debating a question, (e.g. does God exist?) anyone offering answers to the question bears the burden of proof. All views make truth claims. All truth claims bear the burden of proof. Whether one defends Naturalism or Theism one ought to offer reasons why.
God of the Gaps. Theists need not argue from what we don't know. Arguments for God can be based on what we do know from science or philosophy.
Further, God can employ Secondary Causation, wherein initial conditions or systems produce perpetual effects (e.g. weather systems produce lightning).
God and Science. An eternal, transcendent Creator does not preclude us from rigorously exploring the universe and discovering how it works.
(You may be interested that I reject "Young Earth Creationism". I don't think it's the best biblical explanation and it certainly is at odds with known science. "Yom" in Genesis can denote long periods of time).
Thank you for reading this far. If anyone is interested I can sketch out some arguments for God for discussion.
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Is Zeus impossible? Or Odin? How about zombies? Or vampires?
Actually, zombies ARE theoretically possible. Should I be worried?
Or how about we just stick with the living religions? Do you think the Hindus' pantheon is possible? Shiva? Brahma? Vishnu? Sacred cows and elephant gods? What about Allah? Do you think the moon was sliced in half? Or Mormonism? Do you believe in magical underwear? Is all that possible? If they're not "im"possible? Does that make them probable?
And it's a good distinction between possible and probable. If something is impossible (contradictory, logically absurd, etc.) then there is no need to look for evidence for it.
If something is actually improbable we can discount it initially yet be open to any evidence.
The question I'm asking is, why is the existence of God either impossible or improbable? Comparisons to Pink Unicorns and Flying Spaghetti Monsters is "village atheism" at it's worst! Those entities would be finite, contingent, localized, limited, etc. That's not what we're considering.
Theism fails in about every way an explanation can fail. "God did it" is (1) untestable, (2)
violates Occam's Razor, (3) provides no mechanism, (4) makes no
predictions, (5) has no explanatory virtue (6) is ontologically
uneconomical, and (7) has a terrible track record of explaining
Well, all of that is what I'm here to discuss! I've presented no argument so how can we apply any of it yet?
logical fallacy alert that is a false dichotomy. neuroscience posits a third option that minds
are, like all other functions of livings things, physical and
determined. This means that the concept of a non-physically embodied
mind doesn't even seem meaningful. Since the minds we know of desire as
a consequent of their physical environment are fully natural, the idea
of one acting outside with a radically different concept of desire
(since it doesn't need anything) seems silly and weighs heavily against
the probability of god being an intelligible concept.
I'm giving a basic definition of Theism in that paragraph, not a defense of it. And
it sounds like you're saying "there is nothing beyond the human mind",
or "nothing outside the perception of the human mind is meaningful". One
would have to go beyond the human mind to know that, so it is
There is no independent data outside the Bible which confirms that life of
Jesus. This means that all references that "prove" Jesus are in the
Bible, and as a result, you are committing the logical fallacy of begging the question.
What you are describing is philosophically appalling. If something is more
likely, then you do not need faith because the more cogent answer is
statistically more likely. This means it is supported by reason, not
You cannot prove that proposition you just offered 100%. There is an element of trust or assent in what is "more
likely". That's what I'm saying. Faith does not necessarily support the truth of
something, it is the application of what is supported by reason, etc.
What we do know from science is that theistic explanations have a long history of being displaced and miserably failing.
What we do know from philosophy is that the concept of God seams
meaningless and the hypothesis of indifference fits with the cosmos
That assertion remains to be seen.
Because of this, I am interested in how these things that have been
increasingly more hostile to "god did it" for about the last 150 years
could do anything but smash deities. Also, the second type of causation
you mentioned committs the logical fallacy of ad-hoc and violates Occam's razor.
I do not place much validity on prayer studies. They are too problematic.
"NO. I am not saying the universe is only physical. I am saying that theistic doctrine's conception of god seems to be completely incoherent and not appear to be capable of making sense. Theologians have tried for thousands of years to make the idea of a bodyless mind acting on the world make sense and have failed every time'".
Wow! So because something cannot be fully explained means it's not true?
"If you understand deduction, you will get that this does not involve any faith or unwarranted trust. It sounds like you are making another logical fallacy by equivocating the word faith to mean confidence".
But both of those terms are aspects of faith, i.e. "confidence", and "warranted trust". Don't you think any trust should be warranted? It is you who are equivocating by implying that faith is UNwarranted trust!
If the premises are true the conclusion follows logically. However, we need warrant and trust in the premises.
"...all these are massive concessions made by religion due to the sciences. I could go on and on."
Great! Science and philosophy/theology can certainly work together!
There is nothing paradoxical about an unembodied mind nor it acting on the physical realm. Many philosophers hold to Substance Dualism. And we know partially that an embodied (limited, finite) mind can act on the world by having ideas which then result in various actions.
I could accuse you of equivocation to fit your naturalist agenda. It gets us nowhere. The premises in an argument require warranted trust as more likely true than not or at least more likely than their negations.