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Switch to Forum Live View The 'existence' of gods
4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 4:18AM #1
Kwinters
Posts: 22,843

In another thread, one of the subthemes is the existence of gods.


I will admit that the ontological status of gods, based upon theists' accounts, utterly baffles me.


Now, one way we can think of existence that is quite simple and intuitive is materialism - ' that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance.' (wiki)


That is an account that I am perfectly happy with in terms of describing our physical existence.  Matter is what constitutes all the physical properties we observe and theorise in our universe.


 


However, as a social scientist I am also open to reconceptualising 'ontology' not only as 'what exists' but also an investigation into how things can exist.  Therefore I am intersted in the ontological status of 'social facts'.


For instance, does democracy 'exist'?  Surely democracy does not exist in the same way in which rock or human brain activity exist.  We can't go out and get some 'democracy' and put it under a microscope to analyse it's properties.


And yet, for human beings, the 'existence' of a functioning democracy in their place of residence has a profound impact upon their lives: compare living in Europe with North Korea.  Clearly the observation that in democracies political legitimacy lies with the people is a social fact.


How, then, does democracy 'exist'?  To be fair, I don't want to spend too much time discussing difference conceptualisations of the ontological status of social facts.  My purpose is rather to point to the fact that we can have flexibility in our approach to the concept of 'existence'.


Thus I do have sympathy with Don Cuputt's idea of non-realism as a way god can exist: more specifically that god(s) can 'exist' in the same way that democracy 'exists' - as the collective idea of human minds which provides them with a specific comportment toward how they should live their lives (nigelwarburton.typepad.com/philosophy_bi... )



So perhaps we can find some common ground with theists?


I think theists and atheists can both agree that gods do not exist as material beings.  I think atheists and theists can both agree that gods 'exist' as social facts in the socially-constructed lives of many people.


However, I don't see any alternative form of 'existence' for gods that this leaves open.



How else would theists characterise the ontological status of gods?

Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 6:09AM #2
ctcss
Posts: 688

Jul 7, 2010 -- 4:18AM, Kwinters wrote:


So perhaps we can find some common ground with theists?




OK, who are you and what have you done with KW?! Wink

(And don't try any funny stuff. I've got a keyboard here with the safety off!)

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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 6:44AM #3
Kwinters
Posts: 22,843

Tongue out


 

Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 7:41AM #4
natureboy_the0
Posts: 1,741

Kwinters,


Beginning by comparing a belief in democracy and god as existences:


Democracy is defined as "an agreed on form of man governing man living in a social setting where the governing people are chosen [drafter] and elected from and by the masses to oversee the orderly functioning of the social body, with the people being able to dictate to their overseers, via voting, what they will and will not accept" when god has no such exact definition, leaving it an abstract. 


Even when god is defined as "the creator and mind in control of everything", based on what is seen around us, it doesn't hold true because the living entities are reproduced by several different means not requiring a maker.  Everything man makes has to be continually made or eventually it ceases to exist, as will democracy, but the things in existence does not go into extinction except another living being over impose itself upon them, not because it was unable to reproduce itself. 


Accordingly, Existence's beginning can't be determined, but supposedly Democracy began with the United States' becoming an independent nation after writing a Constitution showing the above definition to be the governing laws [although, it has never governed accordingly which is why the nation has been sucked into the cesspool of corruption]. 


Since man can see the supposed product of democracy in action, we can say it does exist.  Because man can't see the supposed actions of god under any circumstances, except in what is termed miracles which are far and few between, it is safe to say god does not exist. 

Are you questioning your beliefs, ask I AM THAT I AM to clarify them!
Elijah Alfred "NatureBoy" Alexander, Jr. presenting SEEDS OF LIFE
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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 8:08AM #5
Kwinters
Posts: 22,843

Jul 7, 2010 -- 7:41AM, natureboy_the0 wrote:


Kwinters,


Beginning by comparing a belief in democracy and god as existences:


Democracy is defined as "an agreed on form of man governing man living in a social setting where the governing people are chosen [drafter] and elected from and by the masses to oversee the orderly functioning of the social body, with the people being able to dictate to their overseers, via voting, what they will and will not accept" when god has no such exact definition, leaving it an abstract. 


Even when god is defined as "the creator and mind in control of everything", based on what is seen around us, it doesn't hold true because the living entities are reproduced by several different means not requiring a maker.  Everything man makes has to be continually made or eventually it ceases to exist, as will democracy, but the things in existence does not go into extinction except another living being over impose itself upon them, not because it was unable to reproduce itself. 


Accordingly, Existence's beginning can't be determined, but supposedly Democracy began with the United States' becoming an independent nation after writing a Constitution showing the above definition to be the governing laws [although, it has never governed accordingly which is why the nation has been sucked into the cesspool of corruption]. 


Since man can see the supposed product of democracy in action, we can say it does exist.  Because man can't see the supposed actions of god under any circumstances, except in what is termed miracles which are far and few between, it is safe to say god does not exist. 






I would say that for individuals for whom gods are a 'fact' - in that the assume gods exist and are at work in the world, they interpret events in their lives as revealing their gods' will on a daily basis.


What Is God's WIll?


www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n7ip-VzrtY


 


Or, more extreme...


 'Hitler Was Fulfilling God's Will For Israel'


www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct4_ze_FjNo&feat...


 


So, to use Searle's terms, gods may be ontologically subjective  - in other words gods' mode of existence depends upon being felt or regarded by human subjects.

Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 10:10AM #6
Kodiacman
Posts: 2,541

Jul 7, 2010 -- 4:18AM, Kwinters wrote:


 However, as a social scientist I am also open to reconceptualising 'ontology' not only as 'what exists' but also an investigation into how things can exist.  Therefore I am intersted in the ontological status of 'social facts'.


For instance, does democracy 'exist'?  Surely democracy does not exist in the same way in which rock or human brain activity exist.  We can't go out and get some 'democracy' and put it under a microscope to analyse it's properties.


And yet, for human beings, the 'existence' of a functioning democracy in their place of residence has a profound impact upon their lives: compare living in Europe with North Korea.  Clearly the observation that in democracies political legitimacy lies with the people is a social fact.


How, then, does democracy 'exist'?  To be fair, I don't want to spend too much time discussing difference conceptualisations of the ontological status of social facts.  My purpose is rather to point to the fact that we can have flexibility in our approach to the concept of 'existence'.


Thus I do have sympathy with Don Cuputt's idea of non-realism as a way god can exist: more specifically that god(s) can 'exist' in the same way that democracy 'exists' - as the collective idea of human minds which provides them with a specific comportment toward how they should live their lives (nigelwarburton.typepad.com/philosophy_bi... )


So perhaps we can find some common ground with theists?


I think theists and atheists can both agree that gods do not exist as material beings.  I think atheists and theists can both agree that gods 'exist' as social facts in the socially-constructed lives of many people.


However, I don't see any alternative form of 'existence' for gods that this leaves open.


How else would theists characterise the ontological status of gods?





kwinters,


I do agree that there is no human means possible to 'prove' that a God(s) exists in a physical and material manner from a purely scientific basis. Does this mean that the God(s) don't exist? That remains to be seen, and that is why we are discussing this issue. I do think that this discussion is a step in the right direction towards grappling with the potentiality of a God(s) existence.  


There is much about what constitutes the existence of God that the theist does know. How is it known that there is a God who looks like Aphrodite, Zeus, Vishna, Buddha, or even the Christian's God-man Jesus Christ? The list can go on and on....The "realities" of these God(s) is not known, this is true. To me each one of these concepts/renderings of a Deity require a certain amount of beleif to be engaged in to "understand" them.


I am most familiar with the Christian view of God. I have studied some other religions and how they conceptualize God so I can talk about them as well. I do, however, find the Christian view of God to be the 'best fit' for me so that is why I am Christian. Knowing that my concept of God, Jehovah, is as ontologically dependent as the concept of the Buddha is I must allow for the Buddha to exist in the Buddhists concept of "reality" as as well.


There are many Christians who cannot grasp this, and demand that there is only one "reality" of God. I find that to be rather bigoted and narrow, to be honest with you. If you allow for one, you must allow for others...this is only logical. Is it not? As a Christian my argument is allow the other faiths teachings and thier concepts of God(s) to be compared to Christainity and see which one is the best. Which one better addresses the needs of the individual and more closely relates to "reality" rather than being a non-factor in the real world. Given that these are conceptual ideas which concept is the most logical and rational in its explanations? This to me is how I "god shop" to choose the best God(s) that fit for me.


**********


I evaluate my ontological view of God the same way I evaluate my views of other abstract concepts. I reject the idea of a "hard deterministic" view of the world as it does not conform well to the demands of logic and reason and seems to be incompatible with the other conceptual idea of "free will." For me personally evaluate God(s) and thier teachings in the same manner. If there is too much dissonance I will tend to seek answers elsewhere and reject that set of teachings and thier concepts of God(s). Having said that, I have yet to find a perfect religion. There is dissonance in every one of them. Christianity is the one I feel has the least, and so it best conforms to "reality" as I understand it.


Given that some ideas better conform and explain the "realities" of the world we will say some ideas are not just abstract concepts, but we will actually say that those ideas are "true." Democracy is such a concept that we can, upon looking at how its implimentation affects the peoples, be deemed to be more of a "true" concept rather than a "false" concept. (BTW, great illustration Kwinters) Does the statement that the concept of democracy is a "truth" allow for it being proved scientifically? No, it still cannot be analyzed in a test tube and tested in a lab. Still we say it is true.....why? We say it is true as it accurately explains and can predict human behaviors in thier "reality" when it, as a concept, is implemented.


I see the concepts of God(s) being similar to those concepts of 'democracy' or a 'dozen.' It is true that there is no physical "proof" of these God's existences, and that is why Teilhard refers to the constant mantra that "proofs" are good for maths and whiskey, but "Proofs" do fail to adequately address the concepts of a God(s) existence. God is an experience as much as he/she/they are a concept that defines reality.


In conclusion I would agree that there is no means whereby we as humans can "prove" that a God(s) will exist outside of a conceptual realm. We can experience God and this can lead us to conclude that our experience is outside of the conceptual realm, but lacking any "proof" that the experience can be quanitified and verified we must allow for that "real experience" to be individually ascertained. It really comes down to what criteria one will allow to be accepted in their definition of what 'reality' is to them. There may be a bit of "fuzziness" as one's personal experiences can be deemed to be a kind of "proof" for God. I do not like this idea of 'fuzziness,' but I do not know of any better manner to explain the phenomena...


This post is rather conceptual, and somewhat philosophical. I do love the thread and I do think that OP does a great job in laying out the argument about the "existence" of God(s)....well done, Kwinters. (We might actually agree on some things here Wink, but I suspect you already had anticipated that...)


blessings

If someone wants to doubt the existence of Jesus, my experience is that no evidence or argument will change his mind. Such is the nature of skepticism.~Editor fourth R
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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 10:59AM #7
teilhard
Posts: 52,183

GREAT Topic and Discussion, Sister ... !!!


Indeed, when "Ontological" Shove-comes-to-Push, The Particle-Material-"Stuff" of Existence dissolves AWAY into "Energy" and "Time" and Primordial "Space" ...


It turns out that "Existence" is MORE about "Events" and "Relationships" than about "Stuff" ...


Jul 7, 2010 -- 4:18AM, Kwinters wrote:


In another thread, one of the subthemes is the existence of gods.


I will admit that the ontological status of gods, based upon theists' accounts, utterly baffles me.


Now, one way we can think of existence that is quite simple and intuitive is materialism - ' that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance.' (wiki)


That is an account that I am perfectly happy with in terms of describing our physical existence.  Matter is what constitutes all the physical properties we observe and theorise in our universe.


 


However, as a social scientist I am also open to reconceptualising 'ontology' not only as 'what exists' but also an investigation into how things can exist.  Therefore I am intersted in the ontological status of 'social facts'.


For instance, does democracy 'exist'?  Surely democracy does not exist in the same way in which rock or human brain activity exist.  We can't go out and get some 'democracy' and put it under a microscope to analyse it's properties.


And yet, for human beings, the 'existence' of a functioning democracy in their place of residence has a profound impact upon their lives: compare living in Europe with North Korea.  Clearly the observation that in democracies political legitimacy lies with the people is a social fact.


How, then, does democracy 'exist'?  To be fair, I don't want to spend too much time discussing difference conceptualisations of the ontological status of social facts.  My purpose is rather to point to the fact that we can have flexibility in our approach to the concept of 'existence'.


Thus I do have sympathy with Don Cuputt's idea of non-realism as a way god can exist: more specifically that god(s) can 'exist' in the same way that democracy 'exists' - as the collective idea of human minds which provides them with a specific comportment toward how they should live their lives (nigelwarburton.typepad.com/philosophy_bi... )



So perhaps we can find some common ground with theists?


I think theists and atheists can both agree that gods do not exist as material beings.  I think atheists and theists can both agree that gods 'exist' as social facts in the socially-constructed lives of many people.


However, I don't see any alternative form of 'existence' for gods that this leaves open.



How else would theists characterise the ontological status of gods?





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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 11:57AM #8
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Jul 7, 2010 -- 10:10AM, Kodiacman wrote:

Given that some ideas better conform and explain the "realities" of the world we will say some ideas are not just abstract concepts, but we will actually say that those ideas are "true." Democracy is such a concept that we can, upon looking at how its implimentation affects the peoples, be deemed to be more of a "true" concept rather than a "false" concept. (BTW, great illustration Kwinters) Does the statement that the concept of democracy is a "truth" allow for it being proved scientifically? No, it still cannot be analyzed in a test tube and tested in a lab. Still we say it is true.....why? We say it is true as it accurately explains and can predict human behaviors in thier "reality" when it, as a concept, is implemented.


It would never occur to me to say that democracy is either true or false. Truth and falsehood pertain exclusively to propositions, and while one can certainly make propositions about democracy, democracy is not in itself a proposition.

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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 12:10PM #9
Eudaimonist
Posts: 2,036

Jul 7, 2010 -- 11:57AM, Ken wrote:

Truth and falsehood pertain exclusively to propositions, and while one can certainly make propositions about democracy, democracy is not in itself a proposition.



What would you call the statement: "I live in a democracy"?


eudaimonia,


Mark

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4 years ago  ::  Jul 07, 2010 - 12:31PM #10
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Jul 7, 2010 -- 12:10PM, Eudaimonist wrote:


Jul 7, 2010 -- 11:57AM, Ken wrote:

Truth and falsehood pertain exclusively to propositions, and while one can certainly make propositions about democracy, democracy is not in itself a proposition.



What would you call the statement: "I live in a democracy"?



It isn't a proposition about democracy. It's a proposition about where you live. It may or not be true.

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