Where do we stand in relation to God?

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

God - do you believe, consider, or not?

Atheist
3
30%
Agnostic towards Atheism
1
10%
Agnostic
3
30%
Agnostic towards Theism
1
10%
Theist
2
20%
 
Total votes: 10

Mike Strand
Posts: 406
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Location: USA

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Mike Strand »

Regarding "truth" and "absolute truth":

In my experience and training, "true" and "false" are adjectives applied to propositions or statements or assertions and depend on assumptions (supporting assertions) and also on the definitions of the words used. Some assertions may be deduced as "true" or "false" from other assertions accepted as true (assumptions or axioms).

If "God" is a metaphor for "Love", many would say that God therefore exists -- that "God exists" is a true statement. But this conclusion would still depend on what "Love" means, and whether Love exists under that meaning.

The term "absolute" can be troublesome. If "truth" by itself is so dependent upon meanings and assumptions, then "absolute truth" may be even harder to establish. Focusing on the word "absolute": If a Being had absolute power, could that Being make an object that the Being could not destroy?

It can be argued that "truth" is a human concept that can be applied to an assertion that most "reasonable" people can test and agree upon. Shared observations, descriptions, meanings, and the application of logical principles are part of the process of establishing "truth". Logic, as a stated set of principles, is itself a creation of the human mind, although I would hesitate to say for sure that other life forms on earth don't use "logic" in some form -- or at least what would appear to me as logic.

In church A, people believe in "truths", recite creeds, etc. Other people in church B or outside church may prefer other definitions, meanings, and assumptions that make falsehoods of the beliefs of church A.

In one theory of geometry, in the plane a triangle's interior angles add up to 180 degrees, based on logic. Change a few axioms, and the theory changes, and logic shows that a triangle's interior angles add up to more than 180 degrees.

If changing a few meanings and assumptions can change the "truth" in a subject as basic as geometry, small wonder that "truth" becomes nebulous in other spheres of inquiry!
chaz wyman
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by chaz wyman »

Mike Strand wrote:Regarding "truth" and "absolute truth":

In my experience and training, "true" and "false" are adjectives applied to propositions or statements or assertions and depend on assumptions (supporting assertions) and also on the definitions of the words used. Some assertions may be deduced as "true" or "false" from other assertions accepted as true (assumptions or axioms).

If "God" is a metaphor for "Love", many would say that God therefore exists -- that "God exists" is a true statement. But this conclusion would still depend on what "Love" means, and whether Love exists under that meaning.

But saying god is love, simply begs the question what is god. So this does not help in any way.
Even if you wanted to press this case there is no absolute meaning of love, and does not exists outside a immaterial metaphysical conception, to which one can more or less agree. It does not have any independent existence outside the ability of humans to have a discourse about it. Obviously there are actions and attitudes to which we apply love, but as such it is not a natural category.


The term "absolute" can be troublesome. If "truth" by itself is so dependent upon meanings and assumptions, then "absolute truth" may be even harder to establish. Focusing on the word "absolute": If a Being had absolute power, could that Being make an object that the Being could not destroy?

It can be argued that "truth" is a human concept that can be applied to an assertion that most "reasonable" people can test and agree upon. Shared observations, descriptions, meanings, and the application of logical principles are part of the process of establishing "truth". Logic, as a stated set of principles, is itself a creation of the human mind, although I would hesitate to say for sure that other life forms on earth don't use "logic" in some form -- or at least what would appear to me as logic.

In church A, people believe in "truths", recite creeds, etc. Other people in church B or outside church may prefer other definitions, meanings, and assumptions that make falsehoods of the beliefs of church A.

In one theory of geometry, in the plane a triangle's interior angles add up to 180 degrees, based on logic. Change a few axioms, and the theory changes, and logic shows that a triangle's interior angles add up to more than 180 degrees.

It might help you to consider the difference between analytic truths and synthetic truths.


If changing a few meanings and assumptions can change the "truth" in a subject as basic as geometry, small wonder that "truth" becomes nebulous in other spheres of inquiry!
Mike Strand
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:54 am
Location: USA

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Mike Strand »

Thanks for your comments, chaz, and I think they clarify and expand on my own. Would you like to give some examples of synthetic vs. analytic truths? -- I think it would help me and help the discussions here.

It may be boringly obvious to say that responding to the poll at the head of this topic depends on how the respondent defines "God". Maybe it would be more useful to specify what is meant by "God exists."

I could specify that "God exists to the extent that human beings follow the golden rule". I need to state the golden rule and define the words involved. Next, I would ask for evidence of God's existence: Evidence of any instance of a person practicing the golden rule toward other persons. This, for me, would involve observations and accurate documentation of such instances, and even review or verification of the documents. Therefore, under this meaning of God's existence, I could demonstrate that God exists by presenting evidence of a person practicing the golden rule toward other persons!

Unfortunately, or ironically, I would guess many folks would view this concept of God as boring. As a practical matter, just because people sometimes live by the golden rule is nice, but not proof of the existence of the legendary and traditional and awe-inspiring "GOD the FATHER (or MOTHER) of us all". Many folks, I suspect, would want evidence of the existence of a more interesting Being, the "dream Being" that satisfies the optimistic and common definition: A Being who created the universe (including humanity), who loves humanity, and who has tremendous (absolute?) knowledge and power. In my view, however, this definition is easy to debunk, so if this is how "God" is supposed to be understood in the poll, you can guess my response.

Other definitions? Maybe participants in this forum or topic could come up with one many of us can agree upon. Then this group could give fresh responses to the poll (with clarified categories), based upon the consensus definition. However, I tend to think that the optimistic definition in the previous paragraph is the one that is tacitly assumed in many, if not most discussions among theists, agnostics and atheists. If so, the current poll results may be OK as a reflection of the respondent group, if these people agree on the category definitions (e.g., that "agnostic toward atheism" means "agnostic, but leaning more towards atheism".)
Last edited by Mike Strand on Fri May 25, 2012 8:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
MJA
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:35 am

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by MJA »

Mike Strand wrote:Regarding "truth" and "absolute truth":

If changing a few meanings and assumptions can change the "truth" in a subject as basic as geometry, small wonder that "truth" becomes nebulous in other spheres of inquiry!
Nebulous to some,
Absolute is me.

=
chaz wyman
Posts: 5305
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by chaz wyman »

MJA wrote:
Mike Strand wrote:Regarding "truth" and "absolute truth":

If changing a few meanings and assumptions can change the "truth" in a subject as basic as geometry, small wonder that "truth" becomes nebulous in other spheres of inquiry!
Nebulous to some,
Absolute is me.

=
Absolution = delusion
Mike Strand
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:54 am
Location: USA

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Mike Strand »

MJA said:
Nebulous to some,
Absolute is me.
In trying to interpret this, I offer the following:

Maybe the sense of ones-self is "absolute". This reminds me of, "I think, therefore I am". MJA, would you argue that a person saying, "I exist" is an example of absolute truth?
Mike Strand
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:54 am
Location: USA

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Mike Strand »

In order to get this interesting topic (in my opinion) going again, here is one of my earlier posts, which I've edited to try to make it more appealing as a basis for further discussion:

It may be boringly obvious to say that responding to the poll at the head of this topic depends on how the respondent defines "God". Maybe it would be more useful to specify what is meant by "God exists."

I could specify that "God exists to the extent that human beings follow the golden rule". I need to state the golden rule and define the words involved. Next, I would ask for evidence of God's existence: Evidence of any instance of a person practicing the golden rule toward other persons. This, for me, would involve observations and accurate documentation of such instances, and even review or verification of the documents. Therefore, under this meaning of God's existence, I could demonstrate that God exists by presenting evidence of a person practicing the golden rule toward other persons!

Unfortunately, or ironically, I would guess many folks would view this concept of God as boring. As a practical matter, just because people sometimes live by the golden rule is nice, but not proof of the existence of the legendary and traditional and awe-inspiring "GOD the FATHER (or MOTHER) of us all". Many folks, I suspect, would want evidence of the existence of a more interesting Being, the "dream Being" that satisfies the optimistic and common definition: A Being who created the universe (including humanity), who loves humanity, and who has tremendous (absolute?) knowledge and power. In my view, however, this definition is easy to debunk, so if this is how "God" is supposed to be understood in the poll, you can guess my response.

Other definitions? Maybe participants in this forum or topic could come up with one many of us can agree upon. Then this group could give fresh responses to the poll (with clarified categories), based upon the consensus definition. However, I tend to think that the optimistic definition in the previous paragraph is the one that is tacitly assumed in many, if not most discussions among theists, agnostics and atheists. If so, the current poll results may be OK as a reflection of the respondent group, if these people agree on the category definitions (e.g., that "agnostic toward atheism" means "agnostic, but leaning more towards atheism".)

Any comments? Who thinks the poll is a vote for the degree of belief in the existence of the God defined as the Being who: (1) Created the universe (including humanity), (2) loves humanity, (3) has tremendous knowledge, and (4) has tremendous power?

Who disagrees with this definition of God and would propose a different definition for us to vote on with regard to our degree of belief-in-existence?
Mike Strand
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Location: USA

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Mike Strand »

To say that I believe or hope in God -- is this the same thing as saying that I can demonstrate the existence of God? Does either question require a definition of "God"?

If the answers to these questions are not clear, how do we interpret the results of a poll like this?
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Resha Caner
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Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Resha Caner »

Mike Strand wrote:To say that I believe or hope in God -- is this the same thing as saying that I can demonstrate the existence of God?
It means one has reasons to be convinced of God's existence. It doesn't mean one has subscribed to the criteria of others. I believe I ate a pulled pork sandwich for lunch, but I can't "prove" that to you. You just have to trust me.
Mike Strand wrote:Does either question require a definition of "God"?
Sort of. I've been asked many times to define God. "Define" is a nasty thing, as it is perfectly valid for someone to ask for clarification, but it can also be used as a debater's trick. Part of the process of defining is setting the scope for the debate. So, just as it is valid for someone to ask for a definition, it is also valid for the person giving the definition to then limit the scope of the debate.

Example:
Person A - The story of God parting the Red Sea is mythic.
Person B - Define "mythic."
Person A - I meant only definition 1 from this link

Note that Person A has met B's requirement, but has now excluded the possibility that B can accuse him of meaning that the story is false (i.e. definition 5), or of contradicting himself if he later says he thinks the story has historical roots. It's all about context.
Mike Strand
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Location: USA

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by Mike Strand »

Thanks for your comments, Resha.

I agree definition of terms can be a difficult and nasty exercise. It appears to me, though, that it's neglected in a lot of discussions, which consequently get muddled.

I like your example: "Person A - The story of God parting the Red Sea is mythic.", and Person B asks for a definition of "mythic". Your link to the definition was useful. Maybe a more challenging debate ensues, though, if Person A states, "God parted the Red Sea", and Person B asks for a definition of "God". In this context, "forces of nature" may be a good response. It's a trick definition (with reference to your "debater's trick" comment), in a way, and able to satisfy atheists as well as theists. The atheist can interpret it as referring to a drought or other natural event which assisted the crossing and which, when embellished by the story-tellers, became a parting of a great sea. The theist can accept it in the sense that "God controls the forces of nature".
MJA
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Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:35 am

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by MJA »

Mike Strand wrote:MJA said:
Nebulous to some,
Absolute is me.
In trying to interpret this, I offer the following:

Maybe the sense of ones-self is "absolute". This reminds me of, "I think, therefore I am". MJA, would you argue that a person saying, "I exist" is an example of absolute truth?
I think Descartes found the truth in hinself and then sadly got lost again.
Is works perfectly for me.

Equal is as truth is, don't ya know?

=
chaz wyman
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by chaz wyman »

MJA wrote:
Mike Strand wrote:MJA said:
Nebulous to some,
Absolute is me.
In trying to interpret this, I offer the following:

Maybe the sense of ones-self is "absolute". This reminds me of, "I think, therefore I am". MJA, would you argue that a person saying, "I exist" is an example of absolute truth?
I think Descartes found the truth in hinself and then sadly got lost again.
Is works perfectly for me.

Equal is as truth is, don't ya know?

=
Sounds like you are rambling to me. Words without meaning, signifying nothing.
MJA
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:35 am

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by MJA »

The truth can be spoken chaz,
Sadly for most it cannot be heard.

=
chaz wyman
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by chaz wyman »

MJA wrote:The truth can be spoken chaz,
Sadly for most it cannot be heard.

=
Hear this!
Take the cloth out of year ears.

If the truth cannot be spoken then it does not exist to be heard.
MJA
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:35 am

Re: Where do we stand in relation to God?

Post by MJA »

Galileo had trouble with people who lacked vision too.
To light, to Truth

=
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