Topic: Is there a God and why?

Since the aborted God debate on the Rosemary's Baby thread, I thought why not have a fun discussion. Although they say you should never discuss God, sex, or politics at the dinner table if you want things to remain civil.
But (a) we're not at the dinner table, and (b) why can't things remain civil anyway? The regulars on this forum have demonstrated remarkable politeness and personal flaming is like the Black Speech of Mordor in this realm.

So anyway, I'll start...

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

(Moderators - if you feel this thread might offend too many, or is beyond the remit of Friends in Your Head, then Delete by all means).

not long to go now...

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Go get her, Ray!


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Re: Is there a God and why?

You have to define "God" before you can even start down that road. I was amused by George Smith's 'Atheism: the Case Against God', which spends the first part saying none of the definitions are consistent or useful, so there was nothing to argue against. He then went on to do so anyway for the rest of the book smile Any REAL discussion on this has to look at every culture's idea of God, and not focus on any particular one. There are evil Gods. Gods with limited power. Gods who are born and die. Gods who are just nature, who can not be influenced by humans.

It is far, far easier to point at one particular set of human ideas and say, "THAT probably doesn't exist", than to go farther and say, "therefore nothing else exists."

I write stories! With words!
http://www.asstr.org/~Invid_Fan/

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Re: Is there a God and why?

It largely depends on how you define God.  The traditional monotheistic interpretation of God is as a singular, masculine consciousness.  The Judeo-Christian-Islamic notion of God is one that those questions should be addressed to.

Yet, this construct of God is limiting.  There are other interpretations of God.  Some bend towards the Polytheistic (Hindu, most notably) that explain the somewhat conflicting ideas of life by stating there are many Gods and they're a pretty dramatic bunch, always stirring up shit.  There's also the view I have, which is God is not the creator of the universe, God IS the universe.  Meaning that we are all smaller moving parts of a grander whole, which is labeled as God.  When you here some philosophers say "You have God inside you," this is the idea they're building towards.

I've made no secret that I'm a Zen Buddhist who leans pretty Soto-ish.  Compassion and empathy for a living things is a cornerstone of my beliefs, and it's rooted in this idea that we are all interconnected, all interdependent on each other, because we are all part of a grander whole.  As such we are simultaneously divine, and inconsequential.  These are not conflicting ideas.  If you've ever surfed, you've probably seen a wave that you'll never forget.  Giant, majestic, and wholly unique.  And after it crashes...it's gone forever.  There will never be another like it.  But...it's also just water.  Water part of the same sea that churns in on itself ad nauseum until the end of the earth.  It's unique, but not.  Special, but not.  Beautiful, yet ordinary.  Such is the way (in my opinion) with all of existence.

So when asking your question, know that there are three ideas of God (basically, they all can be reduced to three opnions).  One God, All God, No God.  Your notion of the divine manifests as one of those three.  For me, the "All God," approach engenders compassion, understanding, and patience.  Those are the virtues I value above all others.  Even when I get indignant about stuff (i.e. The People vs George Lucas, Twilight) it comes from a place of frustration, rooted in compassion.  Because I recognize there is no divine origin for the evil, malevolence, and selfishness that exists inside of me and every other living thing.  It's just a byproduct of living.  As sentient beings, however, we have a choice.  We can't choose to be rid of hate or indifference, but we can choose to not act that way more times than not.  When you reframe the questions that way, you may find yourself not needing to look to the sky to for an answer.

Eddie Doty

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Re: Is there a God and why?

In relation to classical Judeo/Christian monotheism, no, I do not believe there is a God. Realizing this was a long and painful process, but I eventually couldn't deny that:

1. If God existed and were as evil as He is in the Old Testament, many more sinners would be falling down dead right now.

2. There is no evidence that the Bible is anything other than a poorly edited collection of texts written by desert nomads (who were for a long time polytheistic—it was actually the Raiders WAYDM that brought this to my attention), and later by deceived believers.

3. "Creation science" does not stand up at all to Darwinian evolution, which removes the need for a Creator entirely.

4. The soul, in all probability, does not exist.

5. None of the Bible's prophecies regarding eschatological matters have come to pass.

Even if the God of the Bible did exist, I wouldn't worship Him because of His morality—this video expands on that nicely.

As for other religions, I'm not really an expert, so I can't present any really definitive positions, but I'm an atheist in that I believe that a deity of any kind is highly unlikely and most likely does not exist.

I will say that listening to Eddie on several WAYDMs has gotten me rather interested in Buddhism.

Last edited by Abbie (2013-11-12 21:26:36)

Re: Is there a God and why?

Is there a God? Probably not. Not the omnipotent being that most religions talk about, at least. But if your belief gets you through the day, then more power to you. As long as you aren't using religion to hurt people, I have absolutely zero problem with it.

"The Doctor is Submarining through our brains." --Teague

Twitter | Tumblr, for links to all my writing.

Re: Is there a God and why?

Bam! What Doc Sub said smile

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Why would there be a god or gods at all? I'd argue that the notion of the divine, powerful being is an entirely human construct.

In recent years (like the last couple hundred years) a new concept has arisen of "god as the universe" (pantheism), but I've long felt that this was a somewhat arbitary way of describing things, since a nonpersonal and nonanthropomorphic god isn't really a being so much as an idea, and that calling it god was really some way of saying to theists 'hey, I'm not all bad'. Most are essentially atheists by another name.

Considering that the atoms in our bodies were formed in the core of stars, and that when we die, our atoms return to a part of the cosmos, the universe is our creator and our afterlife. I find that to be a beautiful thing, and spiritual I guess, but I wouldn't call it god in any traditional sense.

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. - Carl Sagan

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Re: Is there a God and why?

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Re: Is there a God and why?

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Re: Is there a God and why?

PorridgeGun wrote:

That's always my answer.

"Life is about movies; anything else is a bonus!"- Me   cool

Re: Is there a God and why?

I agree that a definition of God must be offered before it can be meaningfully discussed. If someone wants to point to their toaster and call it God, well, their toaster clearly exists so I guess their definition of God exists, although I don't find the label "God" particularly useful as it doesn't give me any information about the thing that the label "toaster" did not.

This is the same view I have toward defining "God" as "the universe."

In a nutshell, I find conventional definitions of "God" to be improbable and without merit, and unconventional definitions to be nebulous and without value.

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Re: Is there a God and why?

No, but there probably should be.

(UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Dorkman wrote:

In a nutshell, I find conventional definitions of "God" to be improbable and without merit, and unconventional definitions to be nebulous and without value.

Hence, as we evolve as a species, and our understanding of our world changes, so to should our language evolve.

Eddie Doty

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Re: Is there a God and why?

I don't know if it's a fault of the language when there's no useful concept to be described by it. Generally when language "evolves," we stop using words we have no use for. But the word "God" clings on because people feel like it's important to keep it around, even when they say they "don't know" what they mean by it -- i.e., even when it is literally meaningless.

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Re: Is there a God and why?

I think there is a need for a singular word that describes a persons understanding for the entirety of existence, and their relative place in it.  "Universe," is limiting, because it's a specific celestial territory, and as many people theorize, there may in fact be several Universes either sequential or simultaneous.  "God," is limiting in that it is generally a singular consciousness that created all or part of existence, but it says little about our place relative to existence.  I seek a word that describes all of everything, especially when I am trying to understand my place in all of everything.  God, in some ways makes a sense, as does Universe.  But I would agree that neither is fully sufficient.

Eddie Doty

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Boy, I got to work and look what happens... wink

Well, to answer the OP, yes I believe there is a god in the monotheistic sense. I do not find evolutionary arguments compelling enough to believe that the universe happened without a cause. I am often reminded of St. Thomas Aquinas' arguments for his own belief, calling the "First Cause" God, i.e. that God was the originator of the Universe, and exists outside of it.

Secondly, I choose to believe in the Judeo-Christian God due to archeological, textual and other evidence that I find lacking in other religions. To me, the God of the Bible is far more personal than many other deities presented. I won't give my full research and reasons as that is incredibly long. Hit me with a PM if that, for whatever reason, strikes your fancy.

Finally, I have a very interesting view that has developed through several courses of psychology, theology and philosophy but I don't have a good name for it. Freud described an experience with God (in whatever form) as an immediate experience. In other words, my experience of the divine is limited to THAT one moment. Another viewpoint (can't remember the philosopher who described it) calls divine experiences transcendent, in that can cover many moments of one's life, but you could not point to one single moment as "divine."

I prefer the idea that while God exists outside the created universe that He engages creation in a way that is both immediate, and transcends space and time. I think that transcendence can be realized in creation and enjoying the Universe and moving past the immediate now. Like I said, it's an odd thing to describe and even those in Christian circles don't have a term for it. at least, not a sufficient one wink

God loves you!

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Long post... I apologize in advance.

I am a Christian. I never talk about this stuff on here because I know it probably won't really make a difference anyway, and I believe there's value in living peaceably with all. And I mean that especially here because I love you guys and I've learned so much from the FIYH podcasts and this forum.


But given the topic of this thread, I'll leave some stuff here for anyone who might be interested.

"I choose to believe the Bible because it's a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies, and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin."
- Voddie Baucham

A frustration that I have is that people try to turn the God (Judeo-Christian) argument into a scientific one, when it really isn't. You can have an endless discussion about whether or not the idea of God is scientifically viable; but at the end of the day, you can neither prove nor disprove His existence empirically. When you get down to it, the Christian conclusion is that God exists independent of the universe He created, independent of space and time. The real argument is more historical than scientific. The matter is whether or not you believe the history. The video goes into detail about that, I won't go on about it myself. Another interesting thing to look into is Mark Driscoll's “Vintage Jesus” sermon series (Full disclosure, I've only listened through about half of the series to this point. And no, this is not the only research on which I base my beliefs. Just a couple sources I've found useful.).

http://marshill.com/media/vintagejesus


Now, on the morality of the God of the Bible (***ASSUMING HE DOES EXIST***):
       
Francis Chan: Erasing Hell

This is a video geared toward Christians, but he raises some interesting points. Main takeaway for me:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9


Remember, all of what I’m saying now PRESUPPOSES the existence of the biblical God. If you don't want to entertain that thought you may want to just skip the rest of this.


We can form conclusions and opinions using our own human logic and reason, but it is important to remember that God’s ability to reason and his sense of justice far exceed those of any human. We may think God is evil because he did this or that, but as humans, our sense of reason is fundamentally flawed. It sounds like a cop out, but if you accept the existence of the God of the Bible, you have to accept that too. And it makes sense, because there’s obviously no way we imperfect humans can fully understand everything. But of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t raise any decent points, especially with the help of scripture…

People like to make the argument that the God of the Bible is evil based upon his wrath displayed in the Old Testament. But the Bible asserts that we are the wretched and sinful ones, and we deserve any punishment that God brings upon us. The God of the Bible is not only loving, but He is just. If we live a life of rebellion toward God, we get what we deserve. And we have all inherited a heart of rebellion as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve.

A common question is raised: "Why would a loving God allow such horrible things to happen to good people?"
The proper question is this: "Why would a just God allow such good things to happen to sinful people?"

Answer: Because He loves us, and that's where Jesus comes in. He is a just God, and He can't let us all off the hook for no reason. We can't become righteous and worthy on our own, so he sent his own son to live a perfect and worthy life, and sacrifice it in place of our sinful lives so that we might become that righteousness through him. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21)

People also argue that God is an egomaniac; that he's after our attention and praise like some sort of suppressive dictator. The thing is, He is the only one in history who actually deserves it; and we are better off when we are living for His glory. We are to delight in Him for His glory and our joy.

“Self-forgetfulness in the presence of greatness is the capstone of joy.”
- John Piper

"There can't be a more solid foundation for our salvation than to know it's not based on my value but on God's infinite value.”
- John Piper

“My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”
- C.S. Lewis


That was really long and veered somewhat off topic. Sorry about that.
TL;DR If the biblical God exists, he’s totally worthy of love and praise.

Last edited by Sam F (2013-11-13 07:38:56)

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Re: Is there a God and why?

I don't believe in any of it, but as a fictional character, I'm pretty chuffed by Mr. Satan.

Let me expand this beyond a potentially inflammatory sentence. In terms of philosophy, I'm not opposed to Zen (as in the atheistic Mahayana school of thought), but do prefer action to zazen. I see the character of satan as an example of proactive attainment of knowledge and awareness of human nature. In my experience I find a focused approach, an open mind, and an acceptance of peoples drives works better than a more passive, optimistic frame of mind. I am not a satanist, nor a buddhist, and have trouble accepting the concept of a structured belief system in any form.

However, if you believe in god, that belief doesn't drive you to hate minorities, and it gives you comfort, then more power to you. I'd prefer to spend time with a Christian, Muslim, or Wiccan, than a -phobe.

Last edited by Dave (2013-11-13 08:22:48)

Re: Is there a God and why?

Sam F wrote:

I choose to believe the Bible because it's a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses.

None of which is true. Or at least none of which is supported by the extrabiblical historical record.

Sam F wrote:

When you get down to it, the Christian conclusion is that God exists independent of the universe He created, independent of space and time.

That's fine -- well, grantable for the sake of argument anyway -- but there's still a notion that this God interacts with space and time in demonstrable ways, yes? And that becomes a potentially scientific question.

Sam F wrote:

TL;DR If the biblical God exists, he’s totally worthy of love and praise.

I've said this on the show before, but I prefer the Gnostic view, at least from a purely "fantasy worldbuilding" aspect. The idea that material existence is a prison created by the evil Demiurge -- with another god who loves us, but isn't powerful enough to overthrow the Demiurge, interceding on our behalf and helping us beat the system -- is much more appealing and elegant than a single god prone to genocidal mood swings.

Also, presupposing the God of the Bible exists and is the one who wrote the Bible -- well, that's hardly an unbiased source, is it? It's more than a little plausible it's loaded up with more than a little pro-Yahweh propaganda, don'tcha think? I mean, you say God's wrath is justified because we're wicked, but if God's the one who wrote that -- well, he would say that, wouldn't he? That's how abusers and oppressors always justify themselves.

Last edited by Dorkman (2013-11-13 08:04:49)

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Dorkman wrote:
Sam F wrote:

I choose to believe the Bible because it's a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses.

None of which is true. Or at least none of which is supported by the extrabiblical historical record.

Well, the extrabiblical, and biblical evidence, is more compelling and complete, and within a shorter frame of time than many other historical documents. Specifically, the New Testament has had document copies found within 90 years of the events described.

Also, many archeological finds support stories found in the biblical record, even among ancient Jewish villages. For me, the archeological and textual evidence is what I find compelling and keeps me researching smile

God loves you!

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Re: Is there a God and why?

fireproof78 wrote:

Well, the extrabiblical, and biblical evidence, is more compelling and complete, and within a shorter frame of time than many other historical documents. Specifically, the New Testament has had document copies found within 90 years of the events described.

There's like a billion copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows around and those events took place in 1998. Is this evidence of their factual nature?

(And 90 years later is a long damn time to have been written by eyewitnesses who would've been in their 20s or 30s at the time of the events!)

fireproof78 wrote:

Also, many archeological finds support stories found in the biblical record, even among ancient Jewish villages.

There are archaeological finds indicating that a number of ancient cities named in the stories really did exist. That's not the same as supporting the stories. Going back to my Potter analogy, that would be equivalent to saying as London and King's Cross Station are known to exist, so therefore do/did Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore.

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Dorkman wrote:

Also, presupposing the God of the Bible exists and is the one who wrote the Bible -- well, that's hardly an unbiased source, is it? It's more than a little plausible it's loaded up with more than a little pro-Yahweh propaganda, don'tcha think? I mean, you say God's wrath is justified because we're wicked, but if God's the one who wrote that -- well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

If you don't accept His existence upfront then any argument about whether or not He is a good God is irrelevant. An argument like that always assumes the truth of the Bible, no matter which side of it you're on.

My point was that if you believe the Bible is true you have every reason to praise God. If not, then the argument is pointless. If you say you believe the Bible is true but also think God is evil, you don't really believe the Bible.

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Sam F wrote:
Dorkman wrote:

Also, presupposing the God of the Bible exists and is the one who wrote the Bible -- well, that's hardly an unbiased source, is it? It's more than a little plausible it's loaded up with more than a little pro-Yahweh propaganda, don'tcha think? I mean, you say God's wrath is justified because we're wicked, but if God's the one who wrote that -- well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

If you don't accept His existence upfront then any argument about whether or not He is a good God is irrelevant. An argument like that always assumes the truth of the Bible, no matter which side of it you're on.

It doesn't, really. I just made an argument which accepts that particular God exists without assuming the Bible is true. They aren't mutually necessary points of order.

You're correct that if I don't accept the Bible's word that this God exists I have no reason at all to do so, but I was granting the point for the sake of argument.

Sam F wrote:

My point was that if you believe the Bible is true you have every reason to praise God.

I know that was your point. My point is I don't agree. It is, after all, possible to believe some parts of the Bible and not others, as even Christians do. I don't see it as any different to accept the events but not God's self-serving justifications for them.

This is all academic, of course, as I obviously don't believe the Bible is truer than any other fantasy story.

Last edited by Dorkman (2013-11-13 08:42:18)

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Re: Is there a God and why?

Dorkman wrote:
fireproof78 wrote:

Well, the extrabiblical, and biblical evidence, is more compelling and complete, and within a shorter frame of time than many other historical documents. Specifically, the New Testament has had document copies found within 90 years of the events described.

There's like a billion copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows around and those events took place in 1998. Is this evidence of their factual nature?

(And 90 years later is a long damn time to have been written by eyewitnesses who would've been in their 20s or 30s at the time of the events!)

fireproof78 wrote:

Also, many archeological finds support stories found in the biblical record, even among ancient Jewish villages.

There are archaeological finds indicating that a number of ancient cities named in the stories really did exist. That's not the same as supporting the stories. Going back to my Potter analogy, that would be equivalent to saying as London and King's Cross Station are known to exist, so therefore do/did Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore.

Given the fact that we have printing presses now, versus the ability to copy texts back then, the fact that there is many, many copies of books now does not carry the same weight as textual critics do to ancient manuscripts. So, with respect, your analogy is incomplete and inaccurate.

Textual criticism is one of the ways that archeologists analyze ancient texts and whether or not they can be considered accurate, or they were written the same as the text we have today. The basic questions of textual critics are "How many manuscripts?" and "How old are they?"

Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars has only 10 surviving copies, dating nearly a thousand years after the events. Similarly, Josepheus, a Jewish historian from the 1st century C.E. has only 9 complete manuscripts, dating 4 centuries later.

So, it may be unremarkable that 90 years seems so long a time, but in the scope of textual criticism, that is rather short, and, as Sam F said, would still have other eyewitness (theoretically) still alive.

God loves you!

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