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Author Topic:   The Case Against the Existence of God
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 285 of 301 (302611)
04-09-2006 12:01 PM
Reply to: Message 283 by lfen
04-09-2006 12:15 AM


Re: The Western concept of God
If you assert that classical logic is sufficient then your argument will satisfy you and my argument will be meaningless

Ifen, there's isn't any such thing as "classical logic" as opposed to some other kind of logic. There's only one Logic, and we know what it is and use it all the time. Your author is using logic just like everyone else.

If we engage on a Platonic or Aristotelian quest to discover how an apple is a thing, we might end up in nominalist/realist debate. Korzybski did something else. He observed that an apple isn't a thing at all. It's a process, a verb. Now concepts like number might be accurately represented by a noun (there are ways that doesn't quite fit but that would be a digression) but when we examine the objects of our environment we discover they are all transforming constantly at different rates

One could think of it that way. I am not the exact identical person I was last night. I have a new set of memories (last night's), I've probably forgotten some things I knew last night, I have some new cells, maybe gained a pound or lost a pound and so forth. So yes, in that sense everything is constantly changing. On the other hand, isn't there a lot about me that is exactly the same? Doesn't that count? Our sense of identity is based on memories--memories of ourselves last night, last year, 30 years ago. Those memories shift in the sense that some are forgotten and new ones are added all the time, but what about the ones that are not forgotten, that are always there? I have this memory from a very young age (I was 3) of a night when our house burned down. The memory is identical to what it's always been. These stable memories provide our identity, let us know who we are.

In other words, there is change but there is also stability. The Earth keeps changing but it's still the Earth--been that way for 6 billion years. For all the changes it has gone through, much of the Earth is exactly as it was billions of years ago.

At any rate, your author is not using some other type of "logic." He's using induction and deduction as we all do; there isn't any other way to think. He just has a different way of thinking about "things."

All things are in a constant process of change.

Apples are things.

Therefore, apples are in a constant process of change.

Deduction.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 283 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 12:15 AM lfen has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 286 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 5:19 PM robinrohan has responded

lfen
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 286 of 301 (302674)
04-09-2006 5:19 PM
Reply to: Message 285 by robinrohan
04-09-2006 12:01 PM


Re: The Western concept of God
I am not the exact identical person I was last night. I have a new set of memories (last night's), I've probably forgotten some things I knew last night, I have some new cells, maybe gained a pound or lost a pound and so forth. So yes, in that sense everything is constantly changing. On the other hand, isn't there a lot about me that is exactly the same? Doesn't that count?

This is an example of Korzbyski's dictum that a thing is not identical to itself. And this insight goes back to at least Heraclitus (late 6th century BCE)"You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you."

As an aside the discussions here on EvC can be consider as yet another example of the thousands or years tension in western culture between Greek rationalism and Judaic, I don't know what to call it, revealed religious something or other. With the Renaissance began the rise of Greek rationalism that developed into science and finally set off the current backlash by religous fundamentalists. The evolutionists on this forum are heirs of the Greek rational traditions and the creationist heirs of the Judaic revealed religous tradition.

On the other hand, isn't there a lot about me that is exactly the same? Doesn't that count?

Exactly the same? What? and how would we know. There is continuity which provides a stability. I'm not sure what you want this to count for?

Our sense of identity is based on memories--memories of ourselves last night, last year, 30 years ago. Those memories shift in the sense that some are forgotten and new ones are added all the time, but what about the ones that are not forgotten, that are always there? I have this memory from a very young age (I was 3) of a night when our house burned down. The memory is identical to what it's always been. These stable memories provide our identity, let us know who we are.

Our conscious sense of identity is based on memories. There is a lot of studies done on memories and I think they show that though there is stability it's not precise. There is memory drift so I think it's rare to unlikely that a "memory is identical to what it's always been." I think it's more likely to be similiar to what it was but it would take some sort of formal testing to demonstrate this. I don't have access to them at the moment but I know quite a few studies have been done in this area.

For the sake of argument let us assume that there are "stable memories". How do they tell us what we are? And further What are We?

"All things are in a constant process of change." I'll accept this for the time being with a note of reservation that I think this definition contains a redundancy. The question I have is how does a budding cherry become a blooming cherry become a ripening cherry become a rotting cherry become a sprouting cherry become a cherry tree with buds. Is this one thing or many things? And if many how do we distinguish them? Would you hold that some things change into other things?

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 285 by robinrohan, posted 04-09-2006 12:01 PM robinrohan has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by Faith, posted 04-09-2006 5:47 PM lfen has responded
 Message 288 by robinrohan, posted 04-09-2006 6:08 PM lfen has responded

Faith
Inactive Member


Message 287 of 301 (302685)
04-09-2006 5:47 PM
Reply to: Message 286 by lfen
04-09-2006 5:19 PM


Re: The Western concept of God
I am having a hard time grasping your point, or grasping why you think it important, so for that reason I don't want to waste the thread on my reaction to it, but thought I'd venture one post. When I get what you are talking about it seems obvious and trivial. The fact that things change in no way negates the thingness of things. All things are transitory, but they are still things for whatever time they are those things and even when they change form they never lose a certain something that identifies them.

The one unchanging thing in the universe is God. And in fact I think it's interesting and maybe apropos that the ceaseless round of change in the Creation inspired a monk, Brother Lawrence, to give himself to God. It was simply the observation of the changing seasons that suddenly caused him to see the greatness of God. I never really understood what it was about this observation that caused him to see God in such glory, but it does bring home, I think, a recognition of the immutability of God outside and above all temporal change.

Brother Lawrence.

He told me that God had done him a singular favour, in his conversion at the age of eighteen.  That in the winter, seeing a tree stripped of its leaves, and considering that within a little time, the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear, he received a high view of the Providence and Power of God, which has never since been effaced from his soul. 

This message has been edited by Faith, 04-09-2006 05:49 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 286 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 5:19 PM lfen has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 290 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 6:53 PM Faith has responded

robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 288 of 301 (302687)
04-09-2006 6:08 PM
Reply to: Message 286 by lfen
04-09-2006 5:19 PM


: The Western concept of God
There is continuity which provides a stability. I'm not sure what you want this to count for?

To count toward the idea that there are such entities as things and beings.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 286 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 5:19 PM lfen has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 289 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 6:37 PM robinrohan has not yet responded

lfen
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 289 of 301 (302694)
04-09-2006 6:37 PM
Reply to: Message 288 by robinrohan
04-09-2006 6:08 PM


Re: : The Western concept of God
I see the continuity as giving rise to the impression that there are things and beings. It could be compared to the frames of a movie or cartoon viewed rapidly giving rise to the impression of movement.

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 288 by robinrohan, posted 04-09-2006 6:08 PM robinrohan has not yet responded

lfen
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 290 of 301 (302698)
04-09-2006 6:53 PM
Reply to: Message 287 by Faith
04-09-2006 5:47 PM


Re: The Western concept of God
I am having a hard time grasping your point, or grasping why you think it important, so for that reason I don't want to waste the thread on my reaction to it, but thought I'd venture one post. When I get what you are talking about it seems obvious and trivial. The fact that things change in no way negates the thingness of things. All things are transitory, but they are still things for whatever time they are those things and even when they change form they never lose a certain something that identifies them.

One important function for me posting here is the extremely difficult challenge of seeing if I can find succinct clear ways of expressing concepts that are unfamiliar to most people reared in Western traditions. I suspect that this effort is never going to be successful yet at the same time helpful in improving even slightly my ability to communicate about these issues.

In regards to this thread and many of my discussions with Robin I keep trying to demonstrate a third alternative to the dichotomy he seems to feel is the only choice; nihilism or the absolute deity of the Judeo/Christian/Islam etc. tradition.

Robin has limited this thread to the Western tradition which makes my job a little harder though it is good for me to source this from strictly Western traditions. The Western tradition is mostly externally oriented. Some one has an experience of God or angels. There are hints in the Gospels of an inner tradition but aside from the Catholic contemplative tradition it seems largely ignored.

As I have thus far understood it, the core issues for Robin and for you is your sense of self and how it is grounded and what will happen to it, it is meaningless and ephemeral or has in an objective value for eternity. I'm trying to demonstrate something that is very difficult to express as it mostly has to come from personal experience but that the problem is the self as it is experienced by the ego. What exists after the ego is understood is what is "real" and is the solution to the insecurities of the ego.

I think Robin's nihilistic position is that the ego arises accidently and then disappears. The Christian position might be that the ego is essentially a soul created by God and if saved will spend eternity in heaven with God. My position is that the ego is an idea that is deeply rooted in the brain and obscures the reality of being. When the ego idea drops away the state of being revealed more than compesates for egoic existence.

Bernadette Roberts in this passage uses the word life where I would say consciousness:

"Life is not in anything; rather, all things are in life. ... Particulars dissolve into the One, and individual objects give way to reveal that which is the same throughtout all variety and mulitplicity. To see the new dimension of life is the gift of amazing glasses through which God is not only seen everywhere, but AS Everywhere. Truly, God is all that exists--all, of course, but the self."

I think this is a good explication of the meaning of "the Kingdom of Heaven is within"

lfen

edited typo: live changed to life

This message has been edited by lfen, 04-09-2006 03:55 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 287 by Faith, posted 04-09-2006 5:47 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by Faith, posted 04-09-2006 7:33 PM lfen has responded

Faith
Inactive Member


Message 291 of 301 (302701)
04-09-2006 7:33 PM
Reply to: Message 290 by lfen
04-09-2006 6:53 PM


Not western, universal
It really is too bad this thread is so close to the end and we are discussing what is only a peripheral topic, and arguments against the existence of God are being ignored.

This time I have to question that what you are opposing is the "Western tradition." While one Eastern religion may have made much of the observation of endless change, there is nothing about other cultures in general that denies the same kind of logic that is being used by Robin on this thread. That is, there is nothing particularly "western" about the recognition of the reality of things and beings. It's universally human.

You are merely focusing on one particular strand of thought which is rather esoteric and obscure. And it is no less western in its esotericism than eastern. You mention Heraclitus as one who made much of this observation of ceaseless change, and he is a Western thinker. Buddha is an Eastern mystic. They are both outside their cultural traditions as far as how the culture thinks about reality. I also looked up Korzybski and found him among the cadre of Western oddballs as I think of them as Buckminster Fuller and Heinlein.

The idea of the Western concept of God has nothing to do with any of that. It simply refers to the fact that for whatever reason Christianity took root more deeply in Europe than in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire where it was also planted.

I read quite a bit in the Catholic contemplatives, by the way, and I did find some parallels between John of the Cross and certain buddhist meditative practices I'd run across, but none of it as I recall has anything to do with the dissolution of the ego as Buddhism seems to present the idea. There is the sense of being ravished by love of God, love being often a way the self feels itself dissolved --but being dissolved in love, dissolved in the Object in THAT sense, not the same thing as being dissolved as a drop in the ocean of bliss or whatever. Different meanings of "dissolve" perhaps.

In any case this has nothing to do with the topic of this thread after all.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 290 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 6:53 PM lfen has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 292 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 8:05 PM Faith has not yet responded

lfen
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 292 of 301 (302708)
04-09-2006 8:05 PM
Reply to: Message 291 by Faith
04-09-2006 7:33 PM


Re: Not western, universal
The argument I was going to make and I didn't imagine it would be definitive was that by demonstrating that no sentient beings exists and that everything in the universe depends on everything else then there is no need for a Creator/ruler deity of the Judaic model. It would be a circumstantial argument and weak but it's the only one I know of. Unless we can find a falsifiable assertion about something it's very difficult to impossible to prove nonexistence.

We can't prove or disprove there is life on other planets for example.
A statement that there is no life on other planets is falsifable by finding life on one other planet. But to disprove that there is life on other planets is at this point impossible given the vastness of the universe. I suppose there might one day exist some technology to examine the entire universe but I've no idea what that would consist of.

I've not thought of a falsifiable criterion of the deity Robin posits. The universe exists and stuff happens. More and more stuff like lightening and disease is explained by science but like searching every planet in the universe for life it's equally impossible to explain everything to demonstrate that no creator is necessary.

I'm not lettered enough to be able to give Wittgenstein's proof but it consists in showing that the word God doesn't refer to anything and so is meaningless, not quite the same thing as non existent. I was sort of trying to do that but to demonstrate that the semantics is empty of meaning is something that took Wittgenstein an entire book to do.

The topic is probably not well fitted to a discussion forum.

"I also looked up Korzybski and found him among the cadre of Western oddballs as I think of them as Buckminster Fuller and Heinlein." It's statements like this that make you the perfect foil for my repetition compulsion to engage the forces of small town small mindedness that I grew up fighting, like the neighbor who thought I was crazy because as a boy in the 50's I believed men would go to the moon. Well, men have gone to the moon and Christ still hasn't returned. But yeah I'm oddball, crazy, and prefer it to living in the dark ages.

Btw, Robert Heinlein was a science fiction author. Buckminister Fuller an engineer as was Korzybski though his book is about how semantics effects human psychology and interaction.

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by Faith, posted 04-09-2006 7:33 PM Faith has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 299 by robinrohan, posted 04-09-2006 10:26 PM lfen has not yet responded

lfen
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 293 of 301 (302718)
04-09-2006 8:49 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by robinrohan
04-05-2006 8:19 AM


Wittgenstein's treatment of God
Well I found this essay on the net that discusses Wittgenstein's view. This excerpt gives some insight into it. How does this approach sit with you?

The reason Wittgenstein refrains from criticizing the believer is because he realizes that any statement against nonsensical utterances can only generate more nonsense (TLP 5.61). Rather than compounding nonsense upon nonsense—as with the positivist critique of metaphysics—Wittgenstein advises us to point out to the believer that the utterance "God" fails to connect to an object that would give it meaning (TLP 6.53).[4] Metaphysical utterances about God are nonsensical propositions masquerading as meaningful propositions. On the Tractarian view, meaningful propositions must be either true or false; they are what can be said. What cannot be said will be clearly seen by identifying the set of propositions that can be said (TLP 4.115). All that can be said is the totality of facts, which is all that is the case.

{snip }

Yet, nothing in the world can satiate the desire to know why we are here. Since the solution cannot lie within the world, and language mirrors the world, the solution must lie beyond the limits of language. Thus, the solution to the believer's question cannot be put into words, but can only make itself manifest (TLP 6.522). Further, since the question cannot be put into words, there can be no meaningful answer. If there can be no meaningful question or answer, neither can there have been a problem in the first place. Absent meaningful questions or answers, the nonsensical problem is exposed for what it is and dissolved at its source. Wittgenstein advises us to point out to someone who insists on framing meaningless propositions of metaphysics that he or she has "failed to give a meaning to certain signs in his propositions" (TLP 6.53). Ideally, to avoid philosophical problems we should say nothing except what can be said and pass over in silence all other nonsensical utterances (TLP 6.53; 7). Wittgenstein realizes that such an answer will be deeply unsatisfying to the person who strives to communicate religious utterances. Who wishes to remain silent on issues of theology and ethics? We cannot keep silent and so continue to push against the boundaries of language; yet, "this running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless"
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james_still/w_why.html

Wittgenstein offers a modern western philosophical and cutting edge logical analysis of the problem. The existence of God can't be disproved because it is not a meaningful proposition and lacking sense can not be subject to proof or disproof. Can anyone find any thing better than Wittgenstein? His Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is perhaps the most important work of philosophy in the 20th Century.

lfen

edited typo: better the changed to better than

This message has been edited by lfen, 04-09-2006 05:51 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by robinrohan, posted 04-05-2006 8:19 AM robinrohan has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 294 by Brad McFall, posted 04-09-2006 9:06 PM lfen has responded

Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 3107 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 294 of 301 (302723)
04-09-2006 9:06 PM
Reply to: Message 293 by lfen
04-09-2006 8:49 PM


Re: Wittgenstein's treatment of God
RAVI Zacharis said on the radio this morn
http://www.rzim.org/
said that we are no longer communicating by propositions but by a common image. Indeed Wittgenstein was one of the greatest wits of the propositional pre-post modernism but today when doubt need not deconstruct hate vs something else right or wrong i think that WITTGENSTEIN's REMARKS only marked the time when image communication was but the plaything of all shadowed conversation. That said, I think your point is excellent.

If we can only learn to "speak" all over again with our new toys...

This message has been edited by Brad McFall, 04-09-2006 09:07 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 293 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 8:49 PM lfen has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 295 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 9:44 PM Brad McFall has responded

  
lfen
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 295 of 301 (302730)
04-09-2006 9:44 PM
Reply to: Message 294 by Brad McFall
04-09-2006 9:06 PM


Re: Wittgenstein's treatment of God
Brad,

I checked the webpage but wasn't sure how to access the specific content you addressed. I only have dial up so streaming doesn't render anything intelligible for me. Have you a specific URL to a transcription of the topic by any chance?

As to your statement:

If we can only learn to "speak" all over again with our new toys...

I think of the pre eminence that Ramana gave to silence.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Language is only a medium for communicating one’s thoughts to another. It is called in only after thoughts arise. Other thoughts arise after the "I"-thought rises and so the "I"-thought is the root of all conversation. When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.

Silence is ever speaking. It is a perennial flow of language, which is interrupted by speaking. These words I am speaking obstruct that mute language. For example, there is electricity flowing in a wire. With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as a fan. In the wire it remains as electric energy. Similarly also, silence is the eternal flow of language, obstructed by words.

What one fails to know by conversation extending to several years can be known instantly in silence, or in front of silence.
http://www.hinduism.co.za/silent.htm

And then there is Ramana's statement of the deepest truth of nonduality:

There is neither creation nor destruction, neither destiny nor free will, neither a way nor awakening. That is the final truth.

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 294 by Brad McFall, posted 04-09-2006 9:06 PM Brad McFall has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 296 by Brad McFall, posted 04-09-2006 10:06 PM lfen has not yet responded

Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 3107 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 296 of 301 (302733)
04-09-2006 10:06 PM
Reply to: Message 295 by lfen
04-09-2006 9:44 PM


Re: Wittgenstein's treatment of God
The web page was only to give you an idea, if you did not already have one, of who RAVI is. I heard the comment on a local radios station so I do not know if that content was specifically available at the web site.

You are correct, as far as I hear it, one is NECESSARILY lead to "silence", but I do not think this plays out later any better for science or religion and puts the burden on anyone concurrently to move from this DERIVED silence to a new discourse. It certianly helps the non-believer in ways that did not exist a 100 yrs ago.

This message has been edited by Brad McFall, 04-09-2006 10:10 PM


This message is a reply to:
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igor_the_hero
Inactive Member


Message 297 of 301 (302735)
04-09-2006 10:10 PM


Sorry
I am indeed sorry for my butting into this argument but I feel that I must respond. When you all say that you can't see God or hear God or what ever argument you use, you are putting your own restrictions upon Him. If there is a God why should He have to listen to us? If He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good then what makes us think we have any right to decide how He should show Himself. If you created the whole universe then why should you be forced to obey your creation? You look after it, take care of it, but you never really have to listen to its silly demands. This whole argument is really a null and void type because nobody can disprove the existence of God nor prove it. Only God can. We just have to wait until death. I am sorry for interrupting like I have but I couldn't at least not try.
Replies to this message:
 Message 300 by robinrohan, posted 04-09-2006 10:27 PM igor_the_hero has not yet responded

1.61803
Member
Posts: 2817
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 298 of 301 (302739)
04-09-2006 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 268 by Faith
04-08-2006 12:25 PM


Re: Oh but it is based on fact
Ok Faith. Believing witnesses is all well and good. But the text in question had numerous redactions, copies, translations...the gospels all written decades after the events by non eyewitnesses. Are you aware of this?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 268 by Faith, posted 04-08-2006 12:25 PM Faith has not yet responded

robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 299 of 301 (302740)
04-09-2006 10:26 PM
Reply to: Message 292 by lfen
04-09-2006 8:05 PM


Re: Not western, universal
The argument I was going to make and I didn't imagine it would be definitive was that by demonstrating that no sentient beings exists and that everything in the universe depends on everything else then there is no need for a Creator/ruler deity of the Judaic model.

I'm a sentient being, and I exist. There's no question about it.


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 Message 292 by lfen, posted 04-09-2006 8:05 PM lfen has not yet responded

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