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  #37  
Old June 28th, 2017, 11:38 PM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

Thanks for all the love, everyone!

My thoughts are pretty much in line with all of yours. Inserting God as an answer is easy but not simple. Or maybe it is more like Clausewitz' famous saying about war. Inserting God makes everything simple, but even the simplest things are difficult.

I am all in favor of teaching how to think rather than what to think. I think that one of the greatest disservices the Christian institutions have made toward Christianity in America is in NOT teaching the hard questions and exploring the answers. As the pirate said of the ship's wheel hanging from his trousers, "Arrrgh, it's drivin' me nuts!"

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  #38  
Old June 29th, 2017, 04:04 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

Oh what an interesting thread! Though as a person who believes in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and yet personal, approachable, affectionate God some of these comments are hard to read because I know how much He has legitimately interacted with me in my life. I know Christians often do a poor job of reflecting God, so I would encourage anyone to ignore the brokenness of those people and openmindedly explore His existence and true nature. He has promised that if anybody truly seeks to get to know Him "you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

An interesting thought is that it takes just as much faith to deny the existence of God as it does to believe in Him.
I have studied a decent amount on both sides of the fence scientifically and the like and have come to realize that both sides use "faith" in something to fill in the things they don't yet understand. Those who deny the existence of God have to believe that some chemicals always existed, collided, and started a chain reaction that accounts for everything: that genetic mutations "miraculously" led to new genetic information, and that morality and logic is somehow connected to far less sopisticaed animal nature. One denying the existence of God must rely on the faith that a lawless orderless accident created an ordered universe that abides by certain laws including human logic, and morality. If you were to step back and think critically, that's putting a lot of faith in something that cannot even be examined in any scientific way. Whereas, there are additional historical acknowledgements of a single Creator God even outside the Bible, and He has been and can be experienced in very real ways even today. Personally, I think a belief in God provides a much better explanation for things we see (more than simply "because God" but too much for this post) and I would encourage anybody to look into some of the information from that perspective.

But I also believe that if you can be argued into a belief in God then you can be argued out of it. Not to say that people shouldn't work through these arguments or ask hard questions, but seeking the existence and experience of God firsthand will yield much better results than hypothesizing and postulating. I know this from legitimate first hand experience. The fact is, nobody will ever be "good enough" but God knows that and is more than willing to work with us despite the fact. However He wants people to WANT Him, it is not His desire that anyone die and be separated from Him, but He gave us that choice to choose a life involved with Him or eventual death without Him. I know for me a life WITH God is far better than trying to get by without Him.

Anyways that was just my two pennies worth.

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  #39  
Old June 29th, 2017, 04:24 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

As a religious, believe in God person who also really likes science, the whole notion of using science to "prove" God bothers me. By definition there is no way to observe and measure the supernatural. The rationale in the OP is kind of nutty to me.

At the same time, the science only types who say things like "evolution, therefore no god" at least equally bother me. Some of those guys, who almost explicitly state that you have to go through the scientific method for everything, then practically use the creationist/intelligent design playbook to "disprove" God*. And they seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the irony.

* I've read at least 3 popular science books recently where in the middle of talking about something like evolution and how we got to some of the understanding we have, they pontificate on how there is no God, and religion is completely irrational. The foundation for their thesis seems to be that there is evolution, so obviously there isn't something we can't observe or measure. Even more ironic when they then talk about dark matter and dark energy.
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  #40  
Old June 29th, 2017, 08:10 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

I think people that want to, can choose to argue either case. There is no proof either way, mostly faith in their being a God, or faith in science.

I'm not on either side really. I don't claim one way or the other, because I don't know. I am not smart enough or interested enough in science to lean that way, and being raised Catholic until I went into the Marines, has turned me off to religion. Perhaps it was that religion in particular, but it made me wonder if it's purpose was more about controlling people than about teaching about God. I've also seen plenty of hypocrisy to disturb me, as well as violent clashes over the years based on religion.

So for me, I am more about a personal relationship than one that is forced through religion. I don't always have the blind faith, but I do sometimes. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's me, kind of wacky

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  #41  
Old June 29th, 2017, 08:35 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

Also raised Catholic and now jaded.
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  #42  
Old June 29th, 2017, 09:16 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Originally Posted by Hahma View Post
I think people that want to, can choose to argue either case. There is no proof either way, mostly faith in their being a God, or faith in science.

I'm not on either side really. I don't claim one way or the other, because I don't know. I am not smart enough or interested enough in science to lean that way, and being raised Catholic until I went into the Marines, has turned me off to religion. Perhaps it was that religion in particular, but it made me wonder if it's purpose was more about controlling people than about teaching about God. I've also seen plenty of hypocrisy to disturb me, as well as violent clashes over the years based on religion.

So for me, I am more about a personal relationship than one that is forced through religion. I don't always have the blind faith, but I do sometimes. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's me, kind of wacky
I couldnt agree more here with you on this note.
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  #43  
Old June 29th, 2017, 10:04 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Originally Posted by Agent Minivann View Post
As a religious, believe in God person who also really likes science, the whole notion of using science to "prove" God bothers me. By definition there is no way to observe and measure the supernatural. The rationale in the OP is kind of nutty to me.

At the same time, the science only types who say things like "evolution, therefore no god" at least equally bother me. Some of those guys, who almost explicitly state that you have to go through the scientific method for everything, then practically use the creationist/intelligent design playbook to "disprove" God*. And they seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the irony.

* I've read at least 3 popular science books recently where in the middle of talking about something like evolution and how we got to some of the understanding we have, they pontificate on how there is no God, and religion is completely irrational. The foundation for their thesis seems to be that there is evolution, so obviously there isn't something we can't observe or measure. Even more ironic when they then talk about dark matter and dark energy.
Excellent post, and I couldn't agree more. By definition, there is zero evidence for and against that which cannot be measured. Which is why, IMHO, people should not needle (/torture/ fight/ proselytize/ bully/ etc.) each other on the subject, though of course civilized conversations are welcome and encouraged.

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  #44  
Old June 29th, 2017, 11:24 AM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
Oh what an interesting thread! Though as a person who believes in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and yet personal, approachable, affectionate God some of these comments are hard to read because I know how much He has legitimately interacted with me in my life. I know Christians often do a poor job of reflecting God, so I would encourage anyone to ignore the brokenness of those people and openmindedly explore His existence and true nature. He has promised that if anybody truly seeks to get to know Him "you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

An interesting thought is that it takes just as much faith to deny the existence of God as it does to believe in Him.
I have studied a decent amount on both sides of the fence scientifically and the like and have come to realize that both sides use "faith" in something to fill in the things they don't yet understand. Those who deny the existence of God have to believe that some chemicals always existed, collided, and started a chain reaction that accounts for everything: that genetic mutations "miraculously" led to new genetic information, and that morality and logic is somehow connected to far less sopisticaed animal nature. One denying the existence of God must rely on the faith that a lawless orderless accident created an ordered universe that abides by certain laws including human logic, and morality. If you were to step back and think critically, that's putting a lot of faith in something that cannot even be examined in any scientific way. Whereas, there are additional historical acknowledgements of a single Creator God even outside the Bible, and He has been and can be experienced in very real ways even today. Personally, I think a belief in God provides a much better explanation for things we see (more than simply "because God" but too much for this post) and I would encourage anybody to look into some of the information from that perspective.

But I also believe that if you can be argued into a belief in God then you can be argued out of it. Not to say that people shouldn't work through these arguments or ask hard questions, but seeking the existence and experience of God firsthand will yield much better results than hypothesizing and postulating. I know this from legitimate first hand experience. The fact is, nobody will ever be "good enough" but God knows that and is more than willing to work with us despite the fact. However He wants people to WANT Him, it is not His desire that anyone die and be separated from Him, but He gave us that choice to choose a life involved with Him or eventual death without Him. I know for me a life WITH God is far better than trying to get by without Him.

Anyways that was just my two pennies worth.
So a few things, first I would dispute that an omniscient and omnipotent being could exist in the person of the same individual. That is to say, an omniscient being is by definition, the most impotent creature imaginable.

Think about it, if god knows everything, then he knows exactly what he will do in any given scenario, and since he knows with 100% certainty what he will do, he is unable to act otherwise. In essence, he is more or less predestined to a certain course of action. He has the most finite ability to act in the entire universe. And if he did other than what he had known himself to do, then he was in fact unaware he would do otherwise and thus not omniscient.

I would also argue that to lack belief in the existence of god does not imply one must believe in random, chemical chance that we are now alive. For instance, I can argue we are all part of some advanced computer program being run by a some higher intelligence, and the likelihood of that seems on par with the likelihood of a god.

I would further dispute that we equally accept events on the ground of faith. A theory is continually tested, observed, and peer reviewed. We research and explore, prod and observe in an effort to verify, or dispute said theory. During this research, no one is claiming to believe that said theory is necessarily and 100% true, as a matter of fact, theories change or get thrown out all together quite often. If we do accept a theory, it is usually on the grounds of some evidence(and of course, that doesn't necessarily make the claim true), and not by blind faith. The same cannot be said for the belief in a deity. Thus, a theist makes a stronger appeal to faith.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Minivann View Post
As a religious, believe in God person who also really likes science, the whole notion of using science to "prove" God bothers me. By definition there is no way to observe and measure the supernatural. The rationale in the OP is kind of nutty to me.

At the same time, the science only types who say things like "evolution, therefore no god" at least equally bother me. Some of those guys, who almost explicitly state that you have to go through the scientific method for everything, then practically use the creationist/intelligent design playbook to "disprove" God*. And they seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the irony.

* I've read at least 3 popular science books recently where in the middle of talking about something like evolution and how we got to some of the understanding we have, they pontificate on how there is no God, and religion is completely irrational. The foundation for their thesis seems to be that there is evolution, so obviously there isn't something we can't observe or measure. Even more ironic when they then talk about dark matter and dark energy.
I think it's almost ridiculous to claim that their is no god based on the theory of evolution, or most other theories for that matter. So I very much empathize with your frustration. I actually don't believe biology would have much to do with the origin of the universe; physics would likely play a larger role in that realm.

That said, I do believe we possess the reasoning to dismiss certain notions as to who that god may be, supposing said god exists.

~JS

Last edited by Joseph Sweeney; June 29th, 2017 at 12:55 PM. Reason: Wrote, "two things" and proceeded to list three
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  #45  
Old June 29th, 2017, 03:22 PM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
<<Well written post that I find very agreeable>>
I like this poster! Well met!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Sweeney View Post
So a few things, first I would dispute that an omniscient and omnipotent being could exist in the person of the same individual. That is to say, an omniscient being is by definition, the most impotent creature imaginable.

Think about it, if god knows everything, then he knows exactly what he will do in any given scenario, and since he knows with 100% certainty what he will do, he is unable to act otherwise. In essence, he is more or less predestined to a certain course of action. He has the most finite ability to act in the entire universe. And if he did other than what he had known himself to do, then he was in fact unaware he would do otherwise and thus not omniscient.
Not following you here, JS. What you are describing is controlled as opposed to uncontrolled power. A waterfall is powerful, whether the power is controlled or not. Add some turbines and a portion of the power of the waterfall is now under control. Add a dam, and in essence all the power of the waterfall is now under control. The control never negates the power, only determines how it is channeled.

An omniscient, omnipotent God is one which has all power and perfect control of all power. Saying that an all-knowing God always uses power consistently with perfect knowledge, absolute control and a pre-determined outcome in no way subtracts from that power.

Taken a step further, assume an all-knowing God created the universe. Clearly the act of creation required something we would normally call power. If we accepted your proposition that an all-knowing being is definitionally powerless, this wouldn't be possible - and yet it is clear in your argument that it is the very exercise of this power in congruence with the desires of God that make God powerless.

I see what you are trying to say, that a perfect God, all-knowing and all-powerful, is constrained to make only the choices which are perfectly in line with who He is, what He wants and what He knows and is therefore unable to do anything other than what He will do. I would argue though, that is essentially the perfect version of what we all do every day acting within the power we have and the knowledge we have to make the choices most in line with who we are. The fact that we act in accordance with our own natures, using the knowledge we have and the power we have does not make us powerless or our choices meaningless to the extent that we would not choose any other way to act based on the situation.

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  #46  
Old June 29th, 2017, 04:05 PM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Who doesn't love a good thread about God, morality and logic? Am I right?
Yessir, you are! Glad to see you, Aldin!

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Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
I think there are interesting arguments to be made about the likelihood of things.
You might have intended for some of the following questions to be rhetorical, but I'll throw out some woefully incomplete responses anyway.

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Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
Why is the universe orderly instead of chaotic?
Because matter and energy appear to follow various laws/principles/what-have-you. Why do they follow it (which is maybe what you are getting at)? "Dunno", or at least "dunno completely." However, more parts get filled in all the time and may books could and have been written about what we do know that people a few centuries ago had no clue about. Some of those things they used to attribute to God. I'm sure if we will ever have a complete picture, especially because every time we add a new rock to the picture of our understanding, we often turn it over and find new details and complexity that we can then start investigating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
How could our existing system of morality come to exist through the combined processes of evolution and social dynamics?
The fact that you phrased the question the way you did implies you already know this, but there are lots of models out there, some conflicting, most applying to just parts of the whole. I don't have enough of a handle to provide a good abstract overview, but know enough to talk to certain examples of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
How did the first life come to be anyway? Not to mention the universe itself.
Both very much open questions! But quoting your post out-of-order:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
The answers to those questions are a lot easier if God is allowed to be written into the blanks. Doesn't make it necessary though. Just a question of where we each settle our doubts and beliefs.
Exactly. How did life come about? God. How about the universe? God. How about god? God (he just is). It is easy and tempting to fill those gaps in such a way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by H.L. Mencken
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
Sometimes there are also answers that are clear, simple, and correct too! So you can sometimes accept such answers provisionally. If evidence later stacks up in favor of it, hooray, you no longer need the asterisk to appear next to it as a potential answer. For god, it can be hard to gather evidence one way or another (because of supernatural-ness and all as mentioned by others), but sometimes it can be done. (See further down for replies to @Dad_Scaper and @Agent Minivann ).

Anyway, going all the way back to the OP, I think these difficulties are sometimes why some people love to create and use logic arguments to demonstrate the existence of god.

Quote:
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If evolution is common and the Earth is nowhere special in the universe, why aren't we aware of other intelligences?
Evolution happens because it can (in Earth's organisms.) That means it is common here. What is less clear is how common abiogensis is. Many believe it to be reasonably common, but that hasn't been demonstrated. Even if it were common, what reason would you have to believe that it frequently leads to life that we could, with our present understanding, detect it from many light years away? What mechanism would we use? SETI is listening to radio waves, but the more you read, the more you understand the limits of even that. SETI is very upfront about those limits. Even if there is intelligent life similar to ours in the closest star system, Alpha Centauri, we probably couldn't detect it using SETI technology unless it were actively beaming a high power broadcast directly at us. And that's Alpha Centauri, which is very, very close to us when you're talking about cosmic scales.

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I think there are also some interesting things to be asked about determinism. If everything is math, how can we make decisions?
The tongue in cheek answer is...wait for it..."math!" It's not that bad of an answer if you think about it and are already a determinist. (And I'm pretty darn sure you're not, Aldin!)

Quote:
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Are they really just a RNG process in our heads?
I'll spend zero time defending the notion that it is an RNG because I don't believe it to be the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
Are free will and consciousness only illusory to our chemically driven reactions?
I suspect consciousness is an emergent property, and thus, I would say it is not illusory. I do think the classical, dualist notions of free will are illusory. However, I find free will as a term still very helpful. There are a variety of observable things that can be usefully described as "free will" even in a 100% determined system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
~Aldin, thinking it is fun to see one of these types of threads again
100% agree, and am so glad to see you posting in them, Aldin!

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Well, the answer to that question is "inductive reasoning," but I don't disagree with the substance of Aldin's post, in that I think it's a marvelous expression of wonder at the natural world going hand in hand with belief in a higher power.
Just curious, do you find your belief in a higher power enhances your wonder in the marvel of creation? If so, in what way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tornado View Post
What if life was created during the Big Bang? Could life as we know it survive in the early proto-verse?
Not life that needs to inhabit our squishy, fragile bodies, no.

Related--one can marvel at how the universe appears to be finely tuned to make our existence a reality. But one can also reflect on how, unless you are willing to write out a lot of decimal places, it can be said that basically 100% of the volume of the universe is completely inhospitable to us.


Quote:
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I am all in favor of teaching how to think rather than what to think.
Amen to that! Even though you and I are wide apart theologically, I always appreciate your approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
I would encourage anyone to ignore the brokenness of those people and openmindedly explore His existence and true nature. He has promised that if anybody truly seeks to get to know Him "you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul."
I hope you don't mind one of the "broken" people replying to your post. I did seek and believe in the Christian god earlier in life. I later came to believe that belief wasn't justified and thus ended up, against my will, absent a belief in hHim. But that doesn't mean I wasn't genuine in my belief before (not that you said that--I'm just framing where I came from).

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
An interesting thought is that it takes just as much faith to deny the existence of God as it does to believe in Him.
For what definition of "faith" and for what definition of "god"? I'm guessing you're referring to your particular, probably Christian notion of god, but I am really at a loss as to which definition of faith you are talking about. My mind thinks of two common uses of faith in "is there a god?" discussions, those being roughly 1) confidence in something, or 2) belief without evidence. (And to be fair, using it more generically to refer to your religion is also common in these discussions. "My faith is very important to me.")

Whatever way you intend it to be used, would you say that "it takes just as much faith to deny the existence of God as it does to believe in Him" applies only to your notion of god or to others too? Does it take just as much faith to deny the existence of Allah? How about Zeus? Why or why not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
I have studied a decent amount on both sides of the fence scientifically and the like and have come to realize that both sides use "faith" in something to fill in the things they don't yet understand.
Your usage here also demonstrates why I'm unsure what definition you're using.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
Those who deny the existence of God have to believe that some chemicals always existed, collided, and started a chain reaction that accounts for everything:
No we don't. Those aren't the only two possibilities.

However, if it helps, I am am comfortable with the general notion of the big bang and what we currently observe being a naturally occurring result. Are there any particular parts you want to talk about?

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
that genetic mutations "miraculously" led to new genetic information
Atheist or not, scientists tend to be uncomfortable with this sort of explanation for most things:



There's nothing miraculous about creating genetic information. We (referring to the collective knowledge of humanity, not specifically to atheists) know and understand some things and seek to fill in the gaps of our knowledge. The things surrounding the gaps in no wait suggest a supernatural explanation is likely to be the thing we ultimately discover that fills the gap.

Let's build up simple example of a way to create "new genetic information." Let me know which part you find unfounded:
1) We observe that mutations do occur
2) We observe that sometimes mutations are beneficial or of mixed blessing (e.g., sickle cell trait vis-a-vis malaria).
3) We observe that gene duplication occurs
Given that, is it unreasonable to think that a beneficial mutation on a duplicated gene could leave the original gene intact while still creating a new gene with a beneficial property? If that's not "new genetic information" then I would again ask about your definitions. ("Genetic information" actually feels like a difficult thing to rigorously define but I think we both have similar intuitions about it).

I actually know very little about molecular biology, but the above simple scenario feels like it would be relatively uncontroversial absent certain (minority) religious objection. And don't get me wrong, showing that you can create new genetic "information" is long way from showing that we all have a common ancestor. But that's not what you mentioned in the section quoted.

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Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
and that morality and logic is somehow connected to far less sopisticaed animal nature.
Deliberate choices we consider moral, unselfish, ethical, or just are regularly observed in animals. Do you think such things are exclusive to humans? You seem to suggest that morality *does* come from god and if my hunch that you're a bible believing Christian is correct, you've got some 'splaining to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
One denying the existence of God must rely on the faith that a lawless orderless accident created an ordered universe that abides by certain laws including human logic, and morality.
Logic is a tool we use, not a law. Morality isn't a "law" either. I'd appreciate more specificity in what you mean by a "lawless orderless accident created an ordered universe" before I comment much further. I'm really at a loss in understanding--are you suggesting no sort of physics existed at the "lawless accident"? Are you suggesting laws of physics can never make things more "orderly?" A big blob of (mostly) hydrogen can't be brought together into a more-or-less spherical star for example? And those laws can't cause this matter to suddenly start producing heat? That sort of thing? "Order" building up gradually in specific locales without denying the order of the whole system is decreasing?

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Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
If you were to step back and think critically, that's putting a lot of faith in something that cannot even be examined in any scientific way.
You build up your case from things that can be examined. It is possible to correctly can infer things you can't directly examine. It is possible to incorrectly infer things too. You do the work that reveals to you things that are more likely even if you don't know all the details. You evaluate competing theories based on which have more explanatory power. You toss out previously held conclusions when they've been shown to be wrong. Science rewrites and refines itself as it learns more. If you don't know something, it is OK to say that you don't know. It is also OK to say/show that the evidence/logic suggests X, Y, or Z, but we're not sure. It is not OK to say BECAUSE we don't know, therefore X. It is also not OK to say that I can't understand how it could be anything other than X (for example, premise 1 in the OP), therefore X, at least for disputed facts.

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Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
Whereas, there are additional historical acknowledgements of a single Creator God even outside the Bible, and He has been and can be experienced in very real ways even today. Personally, I think a belief in God provides a much better explanation for things we see (more than simply "because God" but too much for this post) and I would encourage anybody to look into some of the information from that perspective.
Saying you can explain things with god doesn't mean you have explained things. (But as you say, you were trying to keep your post short, so no worries there.) Let's go back 3,000 years. It was entirely rational to believe that the sun traveled around the Earth. To say otherwise defied common sense based on what we could readily see and observe. I don't feel the earth moving. The sun certainly appears to be moving. It feels like a better explanation. However, the devil is in the details (pun intended).

Quote:
Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
But I also believe that if you can be argued into a belief in God then you can be argued out of it. Not to say that people shouldn't work through these arguments or ask hard questions, but seeking the existence and experience of God firsthand will yield much better results than hypothesizing and postulating. I know this from legitimate first hand experience.
You can be argued out of belief you arrived at other ways too. I get what you're saying, but if I can see people "bootstrapping" a belief in god via argumentation and then strengthening it with personal experience and such as a legit strategy.

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Originally Posted by darius23__14 View Post
The fact is, nobody will ever be "good enough" but God knows that and is more than willing to work with us despite the fact. However He wants people to WANT Him, it is not His desire that anyone die and be separated from Him, but He gave us that choice to choose a life involved with Him or eventual death without Him. I know for me a life WITH God is far better than trying to get by without Him.
If god is omniscient, he knows I honestly sought him (at least at one time--religion isn't something especially top-of-mind to me anymore) and he also knows what it would take for me to believe. If he is omnipotent, he can make whatever that is (that would put me in a relationship with him) occur. If he desired it to be so, and I desired it to be so, and it is trivial for him to make that occur, I would he think he would do so. Given the potential consequence, it would seem uncaring of him to not do so. I am aware of a couple of apologetics used to try and rectify this sort of conundrum, but am curious as to what your response would be about the situation.

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Originally Posted by Dad_Scaper View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Minivann View Post
As a religious, believe in God person who also really likes science, the whole notion of using science to "prove" God bothers me. By definition there is no way to observe and measure the supernatural. The rationale in the OP is kind of nutty to me.
[snip]
Excellent post, and I couldn't agree more. By definition, there is zero evidence for and against that which cannot be measured. Which is why, IMHO, people should not needle (/torture/ fight/ proselytize/ bully/ etc.) each other on the subject, though of course civilized conversations are welcome and encouraged.
OK, god can't be measured. I hear this with some regularity. But it is only true if you accept the proposition that he doesn't interact with the natural world. Do you? (I never took you for a deist, but maybe you are, and I see no reason to try and dissuade people from deism.)

Interactions of the supernatural with the natural world should be measurable, no? (The burning bush is in principle measurable.) For example, again in principle, you would think you can measure if prayer is effective at curing cancer, right? Have two identical populations, one being sincerely prayed for by believers, one not. Are there repeatable differences in the outcomes for these sorts of studies? If not, and you believe this is in the realm of things where such prayers should work, why didn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Minivann View Post
At the same time, the science only types who say things like "evolution, therefore no god" at least equally bother me. Some of those guys, who almost explicitly state that you have to go through the scientific method for everything, then practically use the creationist/intelligent design playbook to "disprove" God*. And they seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the irony.
I agree; evolution doesn't disprove god. It does, however, undermine the notions that generations of believers have had with regards to the origins of humans. The words in Genesis, if you believe them plainly as those generations of believers did, are difficult to reconcile with evolution. If you were raised as biblical literalist, a quality introduction to evolution (assuming you go on to accept it) can be devastating to your belief system. If your belief system is more nuanced, it can accommodate evolution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Minivann View Post
I've read at least 3 popular science books recently where in the middle of talking about something like evolution and how we got to some of the understanding we have, they pontificate on how there is no God, and religion is completely irrational. The foundation for their thesis seems to be that there is evolution, so obviously there isn't something we can't observe or measure.
Right, you can't get from A to B that way. Whoever those authors are would be doing a disservice to their readers, themselves, and any notion of logic to say so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Minivann View Post
Even more ironic when they then talk about dark matter and dark energy.
Depends on the context and words used. "Dark matter" could end up being one thing or a bunch of different things. It could even be some not-yet-understood measurement problem. Lots of options. Same for "dark energy." The "dark" part of those terms is a marker loudly calling out our ignorance, not our knowledge, on the subject. They are merely placeholder terms for things we don't understand, not a thing into itself.

Contrast this to the circumstances where people insert god as an answer to large questions as an explanation and then go on to tell you about all of these other unrelated properties that that god has. Another instance where you can't use that to get from A to B.

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Originally Posted by Hahma View Post
I think people that want to, can choose to argue either case. There is no proof either way, mostly faith in their being a God, or faith in science.
I like the spirit of much of your post, Hahma, but I wanted to point out the false dichotomy there. Plenty of believers adore scientific inquiry and the scientific method. And I also wanted to quickly point out that you're possibly equivocating on the use of "faith" here. "Faith" as in "confidence" is often a result of evidence. "Faith" as in "belief without evidence" is a whole other kettle of fish.

~xorlof, who despite his actions really does understand that more frequent, shorter posts are better than one big long one. Apologies all and I salute anyone who got through the whole thing, especially if you were disagreeing with what I had to say. Hats off to your enthusiasm for exposing yourself to other ideas!

There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. --MLK
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Old June 29th, 2017, 04:07 PM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
Not following you here, JS. What you are describing is controlled as opposed to uncontrolled power. A waterfall is powerful, whether the power is controlled or not. Add some turbines and a portion of the power of the waterfall is now under control. Add a dam, and in essence all the power of the waterfall is now under control. The control never negates the power, only determines how it is channeled.

An omniscient, omnipotent God is one which has all power and perfect control of all power. Saying that an all-knowing God always uses power consistently with perfect knowledge, absolute control and a pre-determined outcome in no way subtracts from that power.

Taken a step further, assume an all-knowing God created the universe. Clearly the act of creation required something we would normally call power. If we accepted your proposition that an all-knowing being is definitionally powerless, this wouldn't be possible - and yet it is clear in your argument that it is the very exercise of this power in congruence with the desires of God that make God powerless.

I see what you are trying to say, that a perfect God, all-knowing and all-powerful, is constrained to make only the choices which are perfectly in line with who He is, what He wants and what He knows and is therefore unable to do anything other than what He will do. I would argue though, that is essentially the perfect version of what we all do every day acting within the power we have and the knowledge we have to make the choices most in line with who we are. The fact that we act in accordance with our own natures, using the knowledge we have and the power we have does not make us powerless or our choices meaningless to the extent that we would not choose any other way to act based on the situation.

~Aldin, who probably used about three times as many words as he needed to
The difference with the waterfall is it has the potential to swell, change direction, and throw it's power in other directs. Even the control you place on the water is never entirely effective as damns break and turbines rust. Waterfalls have the potential to change direction, to dry up entirely, or to swell incredibly. I understand the analogy is rough (there aren't many analogies that would be able to compare to infinity), but god entirely lacks the ability to act differently than he already knows he will act. He is, without a doubt, trapped in a linear prison of actions.

I am not disputing a perfect use of the power the god would posses, I am disputing the idea that the god is capable of fully utilizing his omniscience and omnipotence. One would have to give as they are both unable to operate simultaneously.

I am also not saying god is powerless, by impotent, I am merely asserting he is powerless in the sense that he cannot change his future that he is doomed to act upon. While he would theoretically create the universe, cast angels from heaven, flood the entire world, and send his son to save humanity (if we are going by the Christian definition of god), and all this undoubtedly requires power, he is still powerless to stop himself from committing these actions. He is impotent to his omniscience, or a prisoner of his knowledge, forced into the future that he knows of. So I repeat: he is not powerless, merely powerless to change what he already knows he will do. And since something is outside his power, by definition, he fails to be omnipotent. Regardless of whether or not it aligns with what is perfect or not is entirely irrelevant to the potency of the being.

Could a god be omnipotent? I should think yes. Could a god be omniscient? I suppose so. Can he be both at the same time? I would say no; it's paradoxical.

And lastly, I don't believe a perfect being needs to be both omnipotent and omniscient, or either or. Since a perfect being is, by definition the greatest being possible, it doesn't necessarily follow that the greatest being would need to possess these qualities. He would simply need to be the best being.

And I get what you are saying -- because god is perfect, he knows the best course of action, and so he exercises his omnipotence to follow what he knows to be the best course of action. But it still follows that he is unable to do anything but that which he knows himself to do if he is both omnipotent and omniscient.

~JS
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Old June 29th, 2017, 04:17 PM
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Re: Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

Leave me out of this, Xorlof. I laid out a couple positions as I thought they were relevant, but I didn't personally identify with any of them. I thought Aldin's post, as I said, was an elegant expression of one of those positions, but I did not adopt it as my own, nor do I intend to.

The only position I have actually attached myself to is this one:
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Originally Posted by Dad_Scaper View Post
By definition, there is zero evidence for and against that which cannot be measured. Which is why, IMHO, people should not needle (/torture/ fight/ proselytize/ bully/ etc.) each other on the subject, though of course civilized conversations are welcome and encouraged.
I live my life with a sturdy moral code, written firmly in place without any direct connection to a higher power, and if there is an indirect connection, I don't see it. That's good enough for me.

I also believe in science, and evidence, and I believe there is a knowable truth and we should look for it with the means at our disposal, even if we don't have all the answers to everything. Nor are we likely ever to *find* all the answers to everything, but that doesn't mean we should stop looking.

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