|Tue 12th Dec '06 1:52PM
|24th Dec '04
Malcolm was bold enough to comment:
So while it's true that people will differ on whether they agree with the god/verification/truth sentence above, it's not the case that their agreement or disagreement with it is a fundamental unalterable. It depends on their thoughts on other issues - and as such is still worth debating, rather than assuming there can be no discussion between the two points.
I'm not sure I follow. If I have a different concept of truth to you, how can we argue about who's truth is correct? Say we're the only two people in existence floating in the ether with only an apple for company. I say the apple is red, you say it is green. How can we have a meaningful debate over the actual colour of the apple as our truths are different?
For all physical things I fully agree, we can rely on empircal evidence. But god is not a physical entity, he is metaphysical and you'll need a different "truth" to accept that. If you don't accept metaphysical things can exist, that's fine I'd think it kind of kills the debate. What allows someone to accept the metaphysical as truth? Belief, and I know this is wholly unsatisfactory an explanation to someone who doesn't have that belief, but by its very nature that's what belief is.
I can see two problems with this - firstly, the fact that we don't have prior experience of a god is, I'd say, a perfectly reasonable basis for concluding (or at least considering the idea) that one doesn't appear to exist. (Of course, there are many people who consider all sorts of things to be examples of their experiencing a god, but that's a different issue.)
Yes it is, if you don't have belief that god exists despite us not having prior experience of god. You reject the premise on empirical grounds, another accepts it without empirical grounds. This is why I'm not sure a debate is entirely feasible.
the way organisms evolve, develop, die, decay and then have their molecules converted into other organisms
god is not an organism like we have experienced so the compairson isn't strictly fair. Ok you can say an organism we haven't experienced is illogical and I can appeal to belief again.
the way that objects, substances and entities in the world move, behave and react - predictably, and according to the physical forces applied to them
almost like there's a pattern governing them... but anyway again god is not an object, substance, or entity of this world and isn't therefore logically obliged to follow those patterns.
the properties of substances, and whether or matter can suddenly be caused to exist
there's theories about this, but there isn't definitive proof - big bang theory at least that's what I gathered from the wiki, irrespective though as the matter that makes up god, assuming there is matter that makes up god does not have to logically comply with physical matter.
the enormous variety of spiritualist beliefs that exist and have existed across the world, most of which are mutually incompatible in some way
but if a spiritual belief excludes other spiritual beliefs as existing, other spiritual beliefs can't be used as a refuting argument.
the inherent contradiction between omniscience (knowing everything that is, and everything that will be in the future, without exception) and omnipotence (having the power to do anything) (if the future is known, then it is already true, so it can't be possible to change it, unless that future wasn't definitely true in the first place - in which case you didn't definitely know it)
on a linear concept of the future yes. God has omniscience, knowledge of all possible futures that result from all possible actions. God therefore has the power to enact any action as any possible future that results from that action is still known to him.
and thousands of other things which I don't have the brain power to express at the moment. All of these are prior knowledge of the way things are, and they militate against the reasonableness of believing that a supernatural entity is responsible for creating everything, when nothing existed before except itself (so therefore it didn't create itself anyway, so we're stuck in a paradox, but I digress), and is simultaneously in all places, knows everything and can affect anything in any way, at will. So no, not absolute proof that there aren't any gods, but a case for concluding that there aren't that is just as convincing as the case for concluding that there isn't a celestial teapot floating around the world.
agreed, if you accept that god is a physical entity, not a metaphysical entity.
But this isn't (or shouldn't be used as) evidence that there isn't a god. All it is is a demonstration that the claim that a god "precludes empirical evicence" is logically insupportable.
logically insupportable using concepts that require empircal evidence.
You could only use this reasoning if both 1 and 2 were accepted premises. Since I reject both, the conclusion is irrelevant to me.
Well yes, if you don't accept the premises then yes the conclusion doesn't follow. The argument is a counter argument to the problem of evil, if you're not accepting god or evil then there's no need for the counter-arguement as your not positing the problem of evil as an argument. This however does not reject the argument as an argument, it just rejects it as an argument for you. It only works if you're rejecting god on the grounds of evil alone (and therefore are accepting the existing of god, i.e. premise 1).
The same response applies. This only works if you accept all the premises. Statement 1 on its own has 3 inescapable presuppositions
What makes people accept the presuppositions? Belief. A leap of faith, call it what you will it is something that does not apply to the truth as you outlined at the start of your post (1). For person A the notion of accepting something on faith is anathema, for person B its valid and acceptable.
When it comes down to dictating negative behaviour for other people, e.g. causing harm to others, you bring in a whole host of issues that make debating this truth very necessary, but if someone chooses to believe something so they can live their life according to a system of morals that promotes the acting of positive ways to other people, why should they be forced to account for it with systems that cannot account for it by definition? If I prefer the colour orange to yellow why do I need to prove orange is better than yellow for you to accept it as a truth to me?
Let's look at moral absolutism - let's agree murder is wrong. By definition it is a wrongful killing. What evidential truth does it appeal to? It cannot be verified with empircal evidence, therefore it cannot accept it as true if truth relies on empirical evidence. Why then can we say murder is wrong? Why can anyone be offended if I start mudering people? Is it the act of taking something away from someone? Fine then, what is it that gives them the right to have that thing I'm taking away? The concept of ownership? Fine then, show me "ownership". Is it that everyone has a right to life? Then show me with empircal evidence the object "right".
Moral absolutism is no more supernatural than belief in god, and yet people who don't believe in god don't go around butchering each other, though hold that because there's no empirical evidence for something it isn't true. What empirical object are we then referring to when we say murder is wrong?
Of course they don't have to accept moral absolutism, maths could be used as a truth - arguably 0 of something is worse than 1 of something. 0 life is worse than 1 life. But then, 0 pain is better than 1 pain. 0 knives in my chest is better than 10 knives in my chest.
Sorry got a little side-tracked there.
If you're trying to prove that a god exists, you can't use the notion that a god exists as a part of your evidence.
Ok, it was a clunky half-remembered version of the Ontological argument. Here is Plantinga's
1. There is a possible world containing a being with maximal greatness
2. Any being with maximal greatness has the property of maximal excellence in every possible world
3. Any being with maximal excellence is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect in every world
4. Therefore in our world there is a being who has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection.
And yes you can argue against the concept of possible worlds, but our world is a possible world, as such it is a world in which a being with maximal greatness can exist. If A actually exists, then it is possible for A to exist, we can argue that as our world exists it is a possible world.
One of the main things about this, and its something General asked right at the start, is about needing belief. It's not going to be possible to prove the existence of god with empircal evidence. If you want to reject the existence of god on those grounds then fine, go ahead. If you have belief though, you accept the existence of god without the need for empircal evidence.
However, just because you don't hold the belief, doesn't mean a believer has to reject said belief on your grounds and vice versa the believer can't make you accept the belief that god exists on his grounds. For me, what makes people accept a belief is for them to decide for themselves.