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Thread: The Nature of God

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    Psychic/Ghost Type Nunki's Avatar
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    Default The Nature of God

    The main purpose of this thread is to discuss what you think the nature of God is or would be; e.g. is he omniscient, good, evil, simple, complex, etc. To foster discussion, here's a little test whose purpose is to detect certain inconsistencies in your beliefs regarding God. It was a fun test, albeit one that is flawed in some respects. Here are my results, followed by a little commentary from yours truly:

    https://www.philosophyexperiments.com/god/Default.aspx


    You navigated the battlefield suffering 1 hit and biting 2 bullets, which represents an overall performance at the 56th percentile (i.e., 56% of scores are worse than yours). The tables on the right show how your performance compares to the other 106290 people who have completed Battleground God.

    You can find a list of questions here (page will open in a new tab).
    Recap of your Direct Hit

    Direct Hit 1

    You answered "True" to Question 8 and "False" to Question 16, which generated the following response:

    Earlier you said that even in the absence of independent evidence, it is justified to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner-conviction. But now you do not accept that the serial murderer Peter Sutcliffe was justified in doing just that. The example of the killer has exposed that you do not in fact think that a belief is justified just because one is convinced of its truth. So you need to revise your opinion here. The intellectual sniper has scored a bull's-eye!

    Recap of your Bitten Bullets

    Bitten Bullet 1

    You answered "False" to Question 11 and "True" to Question 15, which generated the following response:

    You say that if there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, then atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality. Therefore, it seems you do not think that the mere absence of evidence for the existence of God is enough to justify believing that She does not exist. This view is also suggested by your earlier claim that it is not rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not exist even if, despite years of trying, no evidence has been presented to suggest that it does exist.

    There is no logical inconsistency in your answers. But by denying that absence of evidence, even where it has been sought, is enough to justify belief in the non-existence of things, you are required to countenance possibilities that most people would find bizarre. For example, do you really want to claim that it is not rationally justified to believe that intelligent aliens do not live on Mars?

    Bitten Bullet 2

    You answered "True" to Question 17, which generated the following response:

    In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically impossible (such as creating square circles), you are saying that any discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious convictions, including your own religious convictions, are beyond any debate or rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet.
    My main problem with my results is that I disagree with the premise that someone could really be fully convinced that it's right to kill an innocent human being. I think that the serial killer was either dishonest or failing to remember his motivations correctly. So that "hit" isn't really a hit. I also disagree with the claim that I have to countenance bizarre possibilities just because I don't believe that absence of evidence is by itself a sound basis for disbelieving something. What I believe, to be exact, is that whether something exists or not is ultimately determined by reason, which, in many cases, precludes outlandish conclusions, and is always assisted (but not determined) by evidence. Lastly, I don't believe in logical impossibilities to begin with. If something seems logically impossible, it is only because you aren't thinking about it in a sufficiently deep fashion. Moreover, I disagree with the test maker's tacit assumption that rationality consists of dismissing some possibilities while affirming others. In reality, rationality means applying logical structure to one's thoughts and beliefs--in other words, placing them inside an orderly system--as well as seeing things in their full context. This means that, yes, I can talk about God in a rational fashion even though I don't believe anything is logically impossible for him. Also, there's a difference between saying that everything is logically possible for God and saying that everything is possible in a general sense. For example, it is logically possible for God to perform an act of evil--nothing prevents him from doing it. But for him to perform an act of evil would be an act of self-annihilation, which would amount to an annihilation, once and for all, of everything that exists. Since the universe exists, it is impossible that God has ever acted or ever will act in an evil fashion. In short, there are things we can determine about God, using a mix of reason and evidence, even though everything is logically possible for him.

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    I recently read the wiki on Martin Buber: "Buber rejected the label of "philosopher" or "theologian", claiming he was not interested in ideas, only personal experience, and could not discuss God, but only relationships to God."

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    Ксеркс, царь царей xerxe's Avatar
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    I'm more interested in the idea that an advanced humanity could create Christianity. Picture uploading your digitized mind to a literal heaven or hell; sensors that track your innermost thoughts and determine their goodness and sincerity; AI demons (or perhaps Jinn, if we opt for Islam) and angels that can be summoned using prayer; artificial souls, however that works.

    The universe is still very young (only 13 billion years old) whereas the era of star formation is expected to last for another 100 trillion years. The overwhelming majority of extraterrestrial life has yet to evolve. Think about that..... trillions upon trillions of extraterrestrial civilizations could come into contact with missionary Von Neumann probes carrying the programme of some first century Roman cult.
    Last edited by xerxe; 01-05-2021 at 05:21 AM.

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    Enlightened Hedonist Subteigh's Avatar
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    God exists.
    False. (Although I dislike that it doesn’t even bother to define “God” – but I’ll answer based on this definition: “The philosophy of religion recognizes the following as essential attributes of God:
    • Omnipotence (limitless power)
    • Omniscience (limitless knowledge)
    • Eternity (God is not bound by time)
    • Goodness (God is wholly benevolent)
    • Unity (God cannot be divided)
    • Simplicity (God is not composite)
    • Incorporeality (God is not material)
    • Immutability (God is not subject to change)
    • Impassability (God is not affected)”

    God is a logical possibility (i.e., there is nothing contradictory about the very idea of God).
    False.

    If God does not exist then there is no basis for morality.
    False.

    Any entity that it is right to call God must be free to do anything.
    True, at least based on the definition I’m using.

    Any entity that it is right to call God must want there to be as little suffering in the world as is possible.
    True, at least based on the definition I’m using.

    Any entity that it is right to call God must have the power to do anything.
    True, at least based on the definition I’m using.

    While there might be argument over the details, evolution by natural selection is the correct explanation for the origin of species.
    True, based on my interpretation of the evidence.

    It is justified to base one's belief about the external world - i.e., the world outside one's head - on a firm inner conviction, even in the absence of any independent evidence for the truth of this conviction.
    False.

    Any entity that it is right to call God must know everything there is to know.
    True, at least based on the definition I’m using.

    Torturing innocent people is morally wrong.
    True, based on my standard.

    If, despite years of trying, no strong evidence or argument has been presented to show that there is a Loch Ness monster, it is rational to believe that such a monster does not exist.
    True.

    People who die of horrible, painful diseases need to die in such a way for some higher purpose.
    False.

    If God exists She can make it so that everything now considered sinful becomes morally acceptable and everything that is now considered morally good becomes sinful.
    True, at least based on the definition I’m using.

    It is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that God exists.
    True – it’s foolish to believe in a being that has properties that cannot be disproved.
    You may have taken a direct hit!

    You claimed earlier that evolution by natural selection is the correct explanation for the origin of species. However, you have now stated that it is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that She exists. The problem is that there is no certain proof that evolutionary theory is true - even though there is overwhelming evidence that it is true. So it seems that you require certain, irrevocable proof for God's existence, but accept evolutionary theory without certain proof. So you've got a choice (please select):
    - I'll bite the bullet that a higher standard of proof is required for belief in God than for belief in evolution.

    As long as there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality.
    False.

    The serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe, had a firm, inner conviction that God wanted him to kill prostitutes. He was, therefore, justified in believing that he was carrying out God's will in murdering his victims.
    False. It isn’t rational to believe in a being that has properties that cannot be disproved.

    If God exists, She can create square circles and make 1 + 1 = 72.
    True, at least based on the definition I’m using.

    You've just bitten a bullet!

    In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically impossible (such as creating square circles), you are saying that any discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious convictions, including your own religious convictions, are beyond any debate or rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet.
    I disagree. That’s only true if God exists.

    It is justified to believe in God if one has a firm, inner conviction that God exists, even if there is no independent evidence that God exists.
    False.

    Battleground God - Analysis
    You navigated the battlefield suffering 0 hits and biting 2 bullets, which represents an overall performance at the 86th percentile (i.e., 86% of scores are worse than yours). The tables on the right show how your performance compares to the other 106345 people who have completed Battleground God.

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    Here are some statements I consider to be true of God:

    - God exists.

    - God is perfect in every regard.

    - Existence taken as a whole is God.

    - God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

    - God is self-aware, more so than any lesser being, and his self is all there is to be aware of. He is like someone peering into a mirror that reflects a completely true and faithful image of the one who gazes into it. What he sees in the mirror is the mirror gazing into the mirror gazing into the mirror.

    - God, being perfection itself, is the standard by which morals are determined. To be like God is to be good.

    - God is, in Sartrean terms, a pure for-itself, which, in the end analysis, is the same as a pure in-itself. This is in contrast to finite beings such as ordinary humans, who are not completely in-itself or for-itself.

    - God is aware of suffering in the same way a reader is aware of the suffering of characters in a good book. He isn't burdened by it but rather sees it as an aspect of good literature.

    - God's will is that the universe should be exactly as it is. Since a lack of conflict between what one wills and what is actually the case is indistinguishable from and equivalent to one's will sustaining the reality that is willed, it is accurate to say that the universe is sustained by the will of God.

    - God is eternal, unchanging, and perceives all of history, which goes on forever in both directions--toward the past and toward the future--in one moment, as one would a finished painting.

    - God's total perfection is consistent with, and necessarily entails, partial, incomplete perfections--in other words, finite beings, such as ordinary humans. This is because perfection is infinitely complex, and infinite complexity, like all complexity, entails the combination of separate parts, which, taken by themselves are incomplete or, in other words, imperfect relative to the whole into which they're subsumed.

    - Suffering means separation from God, which is equivalent to existing as a finite being as described above. It is predicated, like all things, on unity with God. Absolute suffering and separation from God--or residing in hell, as some religions call it--is therefore impossible. Hell is an empty nonexistence in which no one resides. Heaven, or unity with God, is, on the other hand, the most real thing of all.

    - There is only one God. For there to be another God separate from God would mean the existence of something outside of God, something that, being outside him, would limit his scope and mar the perfection and completeness which is intrinsic to him.

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