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Thread: Belief in God is rational

  1. #1
    Vetruvius

    Belief in God is rational

    The question of Gods existence or non-existence is perhaps the most critical question in the list of all existentially central questions.
    Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go, if anywhere, when we die? What is the purpose of life? Does existence have any meaning? Do we have a dualism of nature (body and soul) or are we just atoms in some particular order?
    All of the existentially central questions would have different answers depending on whether or not there is a God. I think the existence or non-existence of God is key to having proper answers to all the other important existential questions.
    It seems that persons on both sides of the aisle get very passionate about their beliefs and arguments devolve into quarrels over this question.
    One particular accusation I have seen and heard again and again is that someone who believes in God is irrational or just plain wacko. There can be no logical or rational acceptance of the existence of God. The notion that believing in the existence of God is not logical is pure philosophical bunk. Let me outline one rational argument for the existence of God keeping the "magic sky pixie" religiousity out of the equation. This is not my hypothesis, but I cannot find a hole in it, maybe someone else can. Note it does not prove the existence of God, it merely points out the rationality of the belief in God.
      1. God is the one and only, greatest possible being. (by definition)
      2. A greatest possible being has the greatest form of existence possible, which is necessary existence, or existence in all possible circumstances. (by definition)
      3. It is at least possible that there is a God. (there is a God in some possible set of circumstances, whether they are actual circumstances, or fictional, yet possible, ones)
      4. A God who exists in any possible circumstances, must exist in all possible circumstances (from premise 2)
      5. Therefore God must exist in the actual world (the circumstances in which we actually find ourselves)
    - Tom Morris, Ph. D. Philosophy and
    Religious Studies, Yale
    Univerisity

    When you reach the conclusion of God, there is no further conclusion to be drawn. God is by nature, necessarily existent there is no Super-God and Super-Duper-God ad infinitum.

    "If therefore that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone, then this thing than which nothing greater can be conceived is something than which a greater can be conceived. And this is clearly impossible. Therefore, there can be no doubt at all that something than which a greater cannot be conceived exists in both the understanding and in reality."
    Saint Anselm (1033 1109 Proslogion)

  2. #2
    nonsqtr

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by Vetruvius View Post
    The question of Gods existence or non-existence is perhaps the most critical question in the list of all existentially central questions.
    Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go, if anywhere, when we die? What is the purpose of life? Does existence have any meaning? Do we have a dualism of nature (body and soul) or are we just atoms in some particular order?
    All of the existentially central questions would have different answers depending on whether or not there is a God. I think the existence or non-existence of God is key to having proper answers to all the other important existential questions.
    It seems that persons on both sides of the aisle get very passionate about their beliefs and arguments devolve into quarrels over this question.
    One particular accusation I have seen and heard again and again is that someone who believes in God is irrational or just plain wacko. There can be no logical or rational acceptance of the existence of God. The notion that believing in the existence of God is not logical is pure philosophical bunk. Let me outline one rational argument for the existence of God keeping the "magic sky pixie" religiousity out of the equation. This is not my hypothesis, but I cannot find a hole in it, maybe someone else can. Note it does not prove the existence of God, it merely points out the rationality of the belief in God.
      1. God is the one and only, greatest possible being. (by definition)
      2. A greatest possible being has the greatest form of existence possible, which is necessary existence, or existence in all possible circumstances. (by definition)
      3. It is at least possible that there is a God. (there is a God in some possible set of circumstances, whether they are actual circumstances, or fictional, yet possible, ones)
      4. A God who exists in any possible circumstances, must exist in all possible circumstances (from premise 2)
      5. Therefore God must exist in the actual world (the circumstances in which we actually find ourselves)
    - Tom Morris, Ph. D. Philosophy and

    Religious Studies, Yale
    Univerisity

    When you reach the conclusion of God, there is no further conclusion to be drawn. God is by nature, necessarily existent there is no Super-God and Super-Duper-God ad infinitum.

    "If therefore that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone, then this thing than which nothing greater can be conceived is something than which a greater can be conceived. And this is clearly impossible. Therefore, there can be no doubt at all that something than which a greater cannot be conceived exists in both the understanding and in reality."
    Saint Anselm (1033 1109 Proslogion)


    Nice try. Your premise is incorrect though. Belief in God is not "rational". The existence or non-existence of God can not be "proven", logically.

    Instead, "belief" in God, is a personal statement of faith. It is, roughly the same thing, as what the mathematicians call a "lemma". We "stipulate that this is true", kinda thing. In philosophy, the terminology most often used, is a "fundamental assumption". That is one which can not be "traced" any higher up on the tree of belief. "God exists", for example, would be a "fundamental assumption".

    This collection of "assumptions", then rolls out into a "tree of belief", according to "logic". So, if your logic is correct, and there is no inherent contradiction in your set of fundamental assumptions, then, your belief tree should end up being internally self-consistent. If it's not, if you get leaf nodes that clash or are contradictory, then, that tells you that either your "logic" or your "assumptions" are inconsistent somewhere.

    So, basically, what "philosophy" brings to the table, is a set of "models". These "models", are all internally self-consistent, when they are considered as closed systems. However, when they're opened up to the outside world, and additional constraints are imposed that way, some of those constraints, may end up affecting both the logic and the underlying assumptions. So, what happens in practice, is that placing your models into a "larger context", will either validate them or invalidate them, so what you're left with after that, will be a set of more robust models. That doesn't mean they're "correct", it just means they're "useful".

    So, if you want to start from an assumption that says "God exists", it's almost like putting on a certain color of glasses (you know how they talk about "rosy colored glasses", right? well, it's the same concept, you're "looking out at the world through a lens"). So, that "belief model", that begins with "God exists", it brings certain "perceptual filters" into play, and those in turn, affect how you will [U}interpret[/U] your perceptions. The prototypical example of a "perceptual filter" is the optical illusiobn with the black and white spots, where, when you stare at it long enough you begin to see the outlines of a Dalmatian dog - but then after that, once your brain has "acquired the model of the dog", there is a tremendous amount of inertia, and you'll never ever see black-and-white spots again, unless you force your brain to turn off the model of the dog when you're looking at the picture.

    And, if on the other hand, you begin with an assumption that says, "God doesn't exist", then, you'll just be lookin' at the world through different lenses, is all. Nothing else changes, right? Only your "belief" - but that, in turn, affects your "interpretation" of everything you experience. It "changes your world", in that way, perhaps.

    And so, the kind of "light bulb moment" that might be asociated with a religious experience, could also be considered in this light. Once having acquired the "model", it is very difficult to take off those lenses once your eyes get used to seeing the world in that way.

    Hmm.... so, I'm just suggesting all this, as being perhaps a more "useful" framework, within which to understand "belief". If there's one thing I know about human belief, it's that "most of the time", it's anything but rational!!!

  3. #3
    chu chu rocket

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by Vetruvius View Post
      1. God is the one and only, greatest possible being. (by definition)
      2. A greatest possible being has the greatest form of existence possible, which is necessary existence, or existence in all possible circumstances. (by definition)
      3. It is at least possible that there is a God. (there is a God in some possible set of circumstances, whether they are actual circumstances, or fictional, yet possible, ones)
      4. A God who exists in any possible circumstances, must exist in all possible circumstances (from premise 2)
      5. Therefore God must exist in the actual world (the circumstances in which we actually find ourselves)
    - Tom Morris, Ph. D. Philosophy and
    Religious Studies, Yale
    Univerisity
    Yale, huh? Jeeeesus, these academics can't express themselves in plain English. I'll make it more clear

    1.First, we say there is a being that is the greatest in the way that nobody can divide oceans quite like that guy, and burn cities faster than the ultimate arsonist.
    2.No matter what the circumstances are, whether he only exists in your mind or in a comic book, or whether he is actually out there, giving poor black kids in south africa AIDS, he must exist in all these circumstances. Don't ask me why, but if he doesn't exist in a comic book, he can't exist. According to this Yale dude, at least.
    3. It is probable that there is a God in some possible set of circumstances, i.e the circumstances could be that you like the idea of an authoritarian bitch making all previous big brother comparisons pale, and eating chips while he watches on sky news (preferred channel in heaven) how kids are abducted and raped all over the world. Under certain circumstances, there might be a God, although these circumstances might be fictional. And if he exists in some circumstances, like in your fantasy, he must be present in all circumstances, like the sky, because that is premise 2 and the Yale-dude came up with premise 2. And he is like, from Yale, so he must be like, uh, smart.
    4. Therefore because of premise 2 (which is a bullshit premise, but don't say it out loud) there must be a God.

    But some say he looks like the flying spaghetti monster...

  4. #4
    Vetruvius

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by chu chu rocket View Post
    Yale, huh? Jeeeesus, these academics can't express themselves in plain English. I'll make it more clear

    1.First, we say there is a being that is the greatest in the way that nobody can divide oceans quite like that guy, and burn cities faster than the ultimate arsonist.
    2.No matter what the circumstances are, whether he only exists in your mind or in a comic book, or whether he is actually out there, giving poor black kids in south africa AIDS, he must exist in all these circumstances. Don't ask me why, but if he doesn't exist in a comic book, he can't exist. According to this Yale dude, at least.
    3. It is probable that there is a God in some possible set of circumstances, i.e the circumstances could be that you like the idea of an authoritarian bitch making all previous big brother comparisons pale, and eating chips while he watches on sky news (preferred channel in heaven) how kids are abducted and raped all over the world. Under certain circumstances, there might be a God, although these circumstances might be fictional. And if he exists in some circumstances, like in your fantasy, he must be present in all circumstances, like the sky, because that is premise 2 and the Yale-dude came up with premise 2. And he is like, from Yale, so he must be like, uh, smart.
    4. Therefore because of premise 2 (which is a bullshit premise, but don't say it out loud) there must be a God.

    But some say he looks like the flying spaghetti monster...
    Chu Chu.... don't mince words, just say what you mean.

  5. #5
    Vetruvius

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsqtr View Post


    Nice try. Your premise is incorrect though. Belief in God is not "rational". The existence or non-existence of God can not be "proven", logically.

    Instead, "belief" in God, is a personal statement of faith. It is, roughly the same thing, as what the mathematicians call a "lemma". We "stipulate that this is true", kinda thing. In philosophy, the terminology most often used, is a "fundamental assumption". That is one which can not be "traced" any higher up on the tree of belief. "God exists", for example, would be a "fundamental assumption".

    This collection of "assumptions", then rolls out into a "tree of belief", according to "logic". So, if your logic is correct, and there is no inherent contradiction in your set of fundamental assumptions, then, your belief tree should end up being internally self-consistent. If it's not, if you get leaf nodes that clash or are contradictory, then, that tells you that either your "logic" or your "assumptions" are inconsistent somewhere.

    So, basically, what "philosophy" brings to the table, is a set of "models". These "models", are all internally self-consistent, when they are considered as closed systems. However, when they're opened up to the outside world, and additional constraints are imposed that way, some of those constraints, may end up affecting both the logic and the underlying assumptions. So, what happens in practice, is that placing your models into a "larger context", will either validate them or invalidate them, so what you're left with after that, will be a set of more robust models. That doesn't mean they're "correct", it just means they're "useful".

    So, if you want to start from an assumption that says "God exists", it's almost like putting on a certain color of glasses (you know how they talk about "rosy colored glasses", right? well, it's the same concept, you're "looking out at the world through a lens"). So, that "belief model", that begins with "God exists", it brings certain "perceptual filters" into play, and those in turn, affect how you will [U}interpret[/u] your perceptions. The prototypical example of a "perceptual filter" is the optical illusiobn with the black and white spots, where, when you stare at it long enough you begin to see the outlines of a Dalmatian dog - but then after that, once your brain has "acquired the model of the dog", there is a tremendous amount of inertia, and you'll never ever see black-and-white spots again, unless you force your brain to turn off the model of the dog when you're looking at the picture.

    And, if on the other hand, you begin with an assumption that says, "God doesn't exist", then, you'll just be lookin' at the world through different lenses, is all. Nothing else changes, right? Only your "belief" - but that, in turn, affects your "interpretation" of everything you experience. It "changes your world", in that way, perhaps.

    And so, the kind of "light bulb moment" that might be asociated with a religious experience, could also be considered in this light. Once having acquired the "model", it is very difficult to take off those lenses once your eyes get used to seeing the world in that way.

    Hmm.... so, I'm just suggesting all this, as being perhaps a more "useful" framework, within which to understand "belief". If there's one thing I know about human belief, it's that "most of the time", it's anything but rational!!!
    Love it! Thanks!
    But I believe the existence of God can be logically demonstrated. Proven?.... As in "reproduce in the laboratory" kind of proof? No! But logically, reasonably and coherently articulated (I will venture to provide that arguement shortly) so as to put the nail in the coffin of those who scream....
    Magic, sky pixie, spaghetti monster, farting hippo, farcical, pipe dream, pie in the sky, hallucinogenic, wacko, nazi, thought police, douche bags!!!!!
    Pssst... are you sure of your own rationality? And on what premise do you stake your own destiny?
    Dispense with the "you want to impose your beliefs on me" attitude and think. THINK DAMMIT!
    Anyway, thanks for the reasoned response. I don't believe that the existence of God can be "proven", I just think it is a rational belief. I'll elucidate later when the wine induced haze wears off.

  6. #6
    caffeine

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by Vetruvius View Post
    Love it! Thanks!
    But I believe the existence of God can be logically demonstrated. Proven?.... As in "reproduce in the laboratory" kind of proof? No! But logically, reasonably and coherently articulated (I will venture to provide that arguement shortly) so as to put the nail in the coffin of those who scream....
    Magic, sky pixie, spaghetti monster, farting hippo, farcical, pipe dream, pie in the sky, hallucinogenic, wacko, nazi, thought police, douche bags!!!!!
    How? The example you gave clearly fails to do so.

    1. Dave is the greatest of all possible salamanders.
    2. A really existing Salamander is greater than an imaginary salamander.
    3. Dave exists in my imagination.
    4. Therefore, Dave must exist in reality!

    Dave, however, clearly doesn't exist; demonstrating that this exercise in logical masturbation establishes nothing.

    It's not possible to demonstrate anything by pure logic - you need some starting premises which ultimately have to be derived alogically; which is where empirical evidence comes in. Attempts to make God true by definition work by inventing a definition of God which doesn't necessarily apply to anything which actually exists.

  7. #7
    Vetruvius

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by caffeine View Post
    How? The example you gave clearly fails to do so.

    1. Dave is the greatest of all possible salamanders.
    2. A really existing Salamander is greater than an imaginary salamander.
    3. Dave exists in my imagination.
    4. Therefore, Dave must exist in reality!

    Dave, however, clearly doesn't exist; demonstrating that this exercise in logical masturbation establishes nothing.

    It's not possible to demonstrate anything by pure logic - you need some starting premises which ultimately have to be derived alogically; which is where empirical evidence comes in. Attempts to make God true by definition work by inventing a definition of God which doesn't necessarily apply to anything which actually exists.
    Fallacious.

    Logic is sound reasoning, or valid reasoning which properly used supports the hypothesis. Does it prove it? No, but using accepted definitions (accepted by sound, reasonable people) for God, existence, etc... the logic holds

    Dave is a salamander, what's the correlation?

  8. #8
    Vetruvius

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsqtr View Post


    Nice try. Your premise is incorrect though. Belief in God is not "rational". The existence or non-existence of God can not be "proven", logically.

    Instead, "belief" in God, is a personal statement of faith.
    So.... is non-belief in God, or the belief in the non-existence of God, rational?

  9. #9
    Common Sense Craig

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by Vetruvius View Post
    So.... is non-belief in God, or the belief in the non-existence of God, rational?

    Why wouldn't it be?

    To not believe in something that doesn't exist is rational. To believe in something that doesn't exist is not NOT rational on the surface, it's what people do with that non-existence thing that is irrational: stealing money from people as in forced tithes; these charlatans who make millions of tax-free dollars that afford them to live in great luxury while those that they preach to live in near poverty.

    Well, I guess if people are stupid enough to agree to a tithe and throwing their money away to make the rich get richer, those people aren't rational either.

  10. #10
    Vetruvius

    Re: Belief in God is rational

    Quote Originally Posted by Common Sense Craig View Post
    Why wouldn't it be?

    To not believe in something that doesn't exist is rational. To believe in something that doesn't exist is not NOT rational on the surface, it's what people do with that non-existence thing that is irrational: stealing money from people as in forced tithes; these charlatans who make millions of tax-free dollars that afford them to live in great luxury while those that they preach to live in near poverty.

    Well, I guess if people are stupid enough to agree to a tithe and throwing their money away to make the rich get richer, those people aren't rational either.
    I agree, however, to judge the existence or non-existence of god based on the criminal-like actions of a relative minority of those who profess belief in that same god is not rational. The actions of a portion of those who profess belief, has nothing to do with the reality (or non-reality) of the object of that belief, or the rationality of the belief.

    As an example, if you have 1000 people who express the "golden rule" as their life guiding principal, and out of that 1000 people you can demonstrate a dozen who consistently act in a manner contradictory to the principal espoused by the "golden rule", do the actions of that minority in any way discredit the moral rightness of the rule? or do those actions simply demonstrate the deceitfulness of the persons who break the rule?

    The question of gods existence cannot be demonstrated by the actions of those who profess a belief in that existence.

    Time and again, I see arguements which contain the same type statement to the effect; "that's just your belief". Yes, it is a belief, just as the opinion that god does not exist is a belief. Our lives are the functions of our beliefs. Atheist/Naturalist, Dualist, Deist, Pantheist, Agnostic etc...., all have beliefs. Those beliefs, rational or otherwise, are all based on that particular persons assimilation of information, experience and whatever else. So, let's just agree that belief in god, or non-belief in god are both only beliefs.

    As to the rationality of those beliefs, will you stand on the actions of some few people holding a particular belief as a determining factor for whether that belief is rational or not?

    Perhaps if all those who believe in the existence of god could be certified as lunatics, or if even the majority of those believers acted criminally, then it might lend credence to your arguement, but that isn't the case.

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