existence of supernatural gods: points for and against

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milo204
existence of supernatural gods: points for and against

seems there are some babblers who do believe in gods and some who don't.  I'm curious as to the reasons and logic behind these beliefs.  There's been some back and forth on this in other threads (dawkins, etc) but i think it's time for a thread that is exclusive on the topic.

To me, i can't understand why people still accept the idea of a supernatural god being a real thing.  I can see when people think some of the moral principles of the religions are worth noting, but that seems irrespective of whether or not the story is true.  

Knowing what we now know about the world, it's age, the vastness of space and the amount of similar galaxies, structures and makeup of life, age of the earth, evolution, bacteria, science in general etc. the idea of god seems a bit presumptuous and devoid of any basis in reality.

Also, knowing that religion seems to have originated with worship of the sun and evolved from there into the many stories and versions that now exist, it seems odd to me that people can readily accept that greek gods for example were simply a story concocted by the greeks and not real. but we can't look at the still existing religions/gods the same way for some reason.  

my point is that i've never heard a convincing argument for the existence of god, yet many people who are otherwise very intelligent, rational and logical still assert that there is in fact a god, and they know not only who it is, but many details about it's beliefs, morals, origins and supernatural powers.  

 

No Yards No Yards's picture

I don't believe in a "supernatural" god, but the multi-verse itself (or whatever reality ends up really consisting of) could be a "super" natural-intelligence of sorts ... not that this "intelligence" would be recognizable by humans any time soon, nor would it likely have any concern for us humans (although I suppose it is possible if it exists it could be able to observe and/or affect humanity if it wanted,) but I see no reason to "believe" that a higher level of intelligence that could not exist on a "universal/multi-verse" level of "consciousness".

Fidel

milo204 wrote:
.To me, i can't understand why people still accept the idea of a supernatural god being a real thing.  I can see when people think some of the moral principles of the religions are worth noting, but that seems irrespective of whether or not the story is true.

Scientist Arthur Clarke once said that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic as far as we are concerned. Technological advancement goes hand-ind-hand with the theory of evolution. People like Kardashev and Dyson suggested that tech advances are in mankind's future in as little as a few thousand years from whenever we attain "type I" civilized status. With tech advancement, or magic as far as we are concerned, it is only a matter of time. Evolution is a matter of time. Both are merely a matter of time. Therefore, "magic" is only a matter of time.

milo204 wrote:
Also, knowing that religion seems to have originated with worship of the sun and evolved from there into the many stories and versions that now exist, it seems odd to me that people can readily accept that greek gods for example were simply a story concocted by the greeks and not real. but we can't look at the still existing religions/gods the same way for some reason.

Everybody concocted theories of gods and the supernatural. People have always been curious as to what's out there and why we exist. People around the world have made important connection between themselves and the heavens. Scientists verify that there is a real connection between human evolution and the heavens. We are all star dust according to modern science. Stars needed to explode many billions of years ago so that we exist today.

 And when the Church said that native North Americans were savages and without spiritual values, they lied. They lied because they were ignorant of the fact that a number of indigenous cultures in North America possessed deeply spiritual beliefs and had "concocted" such an elaborate spiritual framework as to be described by modern religious scholars as having been the most advanced in the world. Mankind is always capable of ignoring and even avoiding truth at the same time.

skdadl

I think that the word "god" is the stumbling block for a lot of Western sceptics, although I'm surprised that more of them can't see around it as No Yards does above. You don't have to talk about "god" to learn a little intellectual humility and subtlety in the face of the universe.

About my personal faith, I can only tell you two things. From the time my continuous memory began (age three), I have always had a sense of immanence. You'll have to look that word up for yourselves. Something walks with me and comforts me and loves me, and that's the deeper reason I don't commit suicide. (The practical reason is that six kittehs depend on me.)

I grew up going to the United Church, with a mixed family background of Presbyterians (Dad) and RCs (Mum). I read the Bible when I was very young and was captivated by it -- I think I somehow intuited that it was my language, that it had formed the logic of things I was already saying and doing, which I now know to be historically true. I would never make any exceptionalist claims for Christianity or my version of it; I will only say that that is the language by which I express my sense of immanence, and it has never bothered me to do that. I love going to church, anybody's church, and I'll sing anybody's hymns if I can.

Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Remarkable how it helps to remember that story.

Fidel

And so far we have a candidate for author of post of the thread award. Thanks Skdadl. I think your kitties must really worship you.

6079_Smith_W

I don't think there is a god, and I strongly suspect that when all life ends on this planet in about a billion years whatever is left here will go with it. I don't honestly expect we are going anywhere.

That said, I have seen, and felt plenty of things that are not explainable. There is certainly enough evidence that there are unseen energies, and I accept that those may be part of a spiritual dimension. I have no idea how big that might be, if it means reincarnation or live after death, or something like what we call god. I certainly don't obsess about it, or seek to prove or disprove it, because it doesn't have much relevance to the real point of spirituality which is to become a better person and help others.

I think religion has been the vehicle for some of the worst slaughter and oppression in our history, but I also think it is part of the foundation of society, and that it is what many people use to purify themselves, heal themselves, and discipline themselves. Like anything that has a lot of power it can kill or it can save. But more importantly, it is a system which is hard wired into us (as a community, anyway - obviously not everyone has the bug or the spark in the same way). I think anyone who imagines we can erase religion is dreaming just as much as those who are waiting for the rapture.

Same thing with the bible and other works of scripture. Some people pick them apart as an example of how fucked up god and religion is. We're not looking at god when we look at the bible, we're looking at ourselves, good and evil. That's why those books (flawed as they are) are important - because they show us who we are.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Are these god threads the new rage because the luster has gone off of the 911 threads?

6079_Smith_W

LOL

I'll take that as an "against"

(with a multimedia presentation)

skdadl

Gee. Cueball and I used to be frendz, too. *sniffle*

milo204

It's not hard to see how religion and a belief in a god can comfort people though, it's pretty much the perfect answer you could give.  

"don't worry, when you die you'll go to a paradise, you'll be reunited with all the people you cared about and live happily ever after"

as opposed to "well, you die and that's it. who knows what happens?" but a good answer is not a good explanation in itself.

 

no matter how good it sounds, one obvious question is "how do we know that?" and i don't think there is really an answer for that other than:

"somebody at some point just decided that was how it is.  Sounded pretty good to me!"

I mean i can see how people would believe it a few thousand years ago, often under threat of death, but if someone showed up right now and claimed to be some kind of "son of god" sent here on a mission most people would rightly dismiss them.  

Fidel brought up the point of magic.  Interesting, i was thinking today that if a magician came around a few thousand years ago and did even some of the more simple stuff that someone like criss angel or someone did, people would freak out and start thinking they're some kind of supernatural being and start worshipping them.

Unionist

milo204 wrote:
Interesting, i was thinking today that if a magician came around a few thousand years ago and did even some of the more simple stuff that someone like criss angel or someone did, people would freak out and start thinking they're some kind of supernatural being and start worshipping them.

Actually, milo, I think that even "a few thousand years ago" people were capable of seeing through "explanations" of reality that were in conflict with their experience. Otherwise, homo sapiens would never have survived or evolved. People have always enjoyed a good magic show, a good singalong, a good crusade, a good crucifixion or auto-da-fe, etc. - but when it came to the other six days of the week, their activities and reflections have, by and large, been what is now quaintly called "evidence-based". And we should all thank "god" for that.

Pants-of-dog

My personal reasons for a belief in a divine aspect of reality is personal revelation.

 

After personally witnessing the divine myself, I thought about the various possible hypotheses and explanations, and came to the conclusion that the divine probably exists.

Snert Snert's picture

The best proof that God exists (and is a big giant white man with a long beard, sitting on a chair on a cloud) is the Bible.

It says right there in the Bible that it's the word of God.  QED.

Plus, I *need* there to be a God, because the complexity of our universe would terrify me otherwise, and also because I can't process the concept of a world without me in it somehow, so I need a Heaven too.  And if you try to take these things away from me and replace them with "Big Bang" theories or evolution I'll get really, really vicious about it. 

Cornered, terrified animal-style vicious.  As He would want me to get.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

 

 

Quote:

Greek Thought: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

Socrates has been described as a gadfly -- a first-class pain. The reason why this charge is somewhat justified is that he challenged his students to think for themselves – to use their minds to answer questions. He did not reveal answers. He did not reveal truth. Many of his questions were, on the surface, quite simple: what is courage? what is virtue? what is duty? But what Socrates discovered, and what he taught his students to discover, was that most people could not answer these fundamental questions to his satisfaction, yet all of them claimed to be courageous, virtuous and dutiful. So, what Socrates knew, was that he knew nothing, upon this sole fact lay the source of his wisdom. Socrates was not necessarily an intelligent man – but he was a wise man. And there is a difference between the two.

 

Maybe Socrates was listening for a voice in common folk that was indistinguishable from a voice of position, being that,  the same voice could exist in anyone,  and that voice was speaking from a "truer recognition of where it came from?"

Socrates was frustrated?

Quote:
Death of Socrates by Jacques Davidthis picture depicts the closing moments of the life of Socrates. Condemned to death or exile by the Athenian government for his teaching methods which aroused scepticism and impiety in his students, Socrates heroicly rejected exile and accepted death from hemlock.

Unfettered with the events of the day,  aware of the souls environs "that voice" always spoke the truth.

 

Quote:

 

In classical and Hellenistic philosophy

In Plato's Apology of Socrates, Socrates claimed to have a daimonion (literally, a "divine something")[6] that frequently warned him - in the form of a "voice" - against mistakes but never told him what to do

Maybe,  that is the God within us all?

Unionist

It hath been said that whosoever believeth in Him shall not die, but shall have Life Eternal.

But according to a study I read, almost all pre-20th century theists are in fact, now, dead.

Based on partial results for more recent believers, the trend unfortunately does not look promising.

Facing a possible class action suit for breach of contract, God declined comment on the study. A member of his legal team, speaking on condition of anonymity, hinted that the Respondent may invoke the "placebo effect" of faith in mitigation of any eventual damages award.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Flight or fight responses have evolved in the human species?:)

Maye one's conscience when it is listened too, is not considered to be magicked, or,  as if a "person sick with a persona speaking,"  but rather a reservoir of the potential within us to actually speak that truth? Low it is that such a demon is materialized, when wrought is sought to be more than we are capable of once we actually learn to listen?

 

It is never a easy thing do once we are embroiled in our daily lives?

skdadl

So you all grew up immodest, cocky, and aggressive, eh? Interesting case-studies ...

Slumberjack

Can't recall when it was that I became aware that the patterns established by scripture, verse and prayers sounded remarkably similar to contemporary mainstream news.  One is an earlier version.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

added to comment above:)

 

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Hopefuly to remove facets of the Inquistion, as it seems history can repeat itself under the guise of "new and modern thinking?" :)

Snert Snert's picture

There is an infinite number of things that we would all agree do not exist.  Any of us could spend out the entirety of our days rhyming them off.  Talking dandelions.  12 legged elephants.  Substances lighter than helium.  Flying spaghetti monsters.

Not believing in this infinitude of imaginary things is considered perfectly normal (to the point that believing in any of them would be considered the opposite).  Nobody will ever earn themself a special label by not believing in talking dandelions.

But not believing in an invisible, omnipotent super-being is a whole different story, evidently.  For not believing, I'm an atheist.  For talking about it, I'm "cocky".  I'll need to consult with the dandelion on this.  He'll know what to say.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

A blind man descrbing a dandelion?

 

 

The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he:
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Unionist

skdadl wrote:

So you all grew up immodest, cocky, and aggressive, eh? Interesting case-studies ...

My mother gave up on God when He looked down indifferently as her parents, siblings, and first-born child were murdered because of the way they worshipped Him.

I guess she thought that that was taking martyrdom a tad too far.

I've tried to be a little more scientific in my attitude to religion. But I've come to the same conclusion.

 

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

 

I mean,  who knew what that elephant could become?:) More then "just a dandelion" for sure.:)

 

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

See:The elephant and the event horizon 26 October 2006 by Amanda Gefter at New Scientist.

 

Yes as in magic, it can appear "spooky,"  but now we know better don't we,  and we know what we are talking about?:)That elephant was the "God issue" in a way to describe different approaches to quantum gravity?:)

Imagine, to use "a method" to describe, "God" and what was once a spooky method at that?:)

skdadl

It seems to me that the atheists need something called God more than I do. My faith doesn't need a god, but the thin rationalism (note -- not reason, but rationalism) of the atheists requires an object of mockery and scorn, so they cling to that God notion.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Imagine someone trying to describe the illusive and gaining such notoriety?

So along comes this group for removing "such evils from science" because it could become stained by such perseverance to explore the theoretical(issues beyound the standard model), so as to correct the maladies of a society of scientist gone rogue? Imagine to ask what exist before this universe. It's a mystery?:)

How did they think science would not be the ulterior motive to describe what they thought "was irrational behavior by the atheist?"  Such errant behavior to be sure ,to be cocky,  or otherwise, to somehow belong to some group of disbelievers to make the world safer for all those ignorant science people? :)

Cueball Cueball's picture

skdadl wrote:

It seems to me that the atheists need something called God more than I do. My faith doesn't need a god, but the thin rationalism (note -- not reason, but rationalism) of the atheists requires an object of mockery and scorn, so they cling to that God notion.

Indeed. six out of the seven letters that spell atheist spell theist.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Just try feel comfortable in the beliefs you have,  to know , that what you are doing is okay. That is you. However illusive it may appear in question, you try to describe that person,  that is you? You will have the last say on the condition of the opinion of your self?

Are you judgmental of others who hold life to be such a mystery? So some question the existane of what existed before this universe. "God help them" before they burn in hell as they have been taken hold by some "demon?" :)

6079_Smith_W

@ skdadl

@Cueball

Now don't tell them that.... that will just get them all riled up. I have had atheists jump all over me because they don't actually have any belief at all, so there's nothing whatsoever to challenge.

Actually (as I said before) I agree with Cueball that this is a pretty irrelevant question, because (from my persoective) it is never one that is going to be settled, and more importantly, for anyone who is spiritual it is actually completely irrelevant to the real object of spiritual belief, which is improving one's self and the world.

Of course, the fact that we continue to be fascinated by it (the atheists too) says something about the irrational nature of all people.

 

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

I do know that humanists can be atheists. That is good thing:)

Quote:
The lessons of history are clear. The more exotic, the more abstract the knowledge, the more profound will be its consequences." Leon Lederman, from an address to the Franklin Institute, 1995

Imagine be famous for creating a term like the "God Particle?"

 

Quote:
A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

Einstein, Albert (1949). The World as I See It. Philosophical Library. ISBN 0806527900.

We all know Einstein made reference to the "Old One?" Maybe, he was objectifying "a mystery?" Maybe he was defining "the limits of our knowledge" and found a convenient way in which to speak to that mystery?

Maybe, we can find something in his later years that we can now call him "irrational." That he abandon his beliefs? A unkept behavior materialize with such devotion to his research, that he didn't take the time?

Be sure to discredit this part of his belief for such objectification of what appears to you in reality? Reality?

Snert Snert's picture

I assure you that (to paraphrase Voltaire) if God had not existed, it wouldn't be the atheists who would find it necessary to invent Him.

I, and you, have an infinite number of things that we do not believe in, and no need whatsoever to catalog, discuss or even name these.

But once I bring something forward -- do you believe in talking dandelions -- then suddenly your disbelief in talking dandelions gets framed in the context of belief in talking dandelions.

But here's an experiment that I'd love to try.  Everybody, everywhere, STOP TALKING ABOUT GOD and let's see if any atheists feel any need to bring Him up.  See who really needs God.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

What does " " really mean?:) You can interject what ever you like, and I am sure "in context" you will have the last "word?":)

trippie

Here, let me settle this arguement once and for all..

 

Until proven differently; there is no God.

 

If your need to be part of a social group is found, by going to church , then so be it. But don't think it's anything other then that.

 

Just think how easy it is to be part of that group. Go to church every Sunday and believe what's writen in the bible and your in. If you're alone just think of the person called God and your not alone anymore. Instant connects to all the followers of that story.

 

If the poster calling themselves "Unionist" sounds cocky.. Get over it, that poster always sounds that way. Or at least 8x out of 10.

Caissa

Unioinist wrote: My mother gave up on God when He looked down indifferently as her parents, siblings, and first-born child were murdered because of the way they worshipped Him.

 

Caissa remebers that there have been several works written that after the Holocaust believe in G-d is impossible.

skdadl

trippie, re Unionist: lol. I love Unionist; truly, I do. But yeah, 8x out of 10. ;)

Voltaire was not an atheist. He was in fact a thumping deist, which is more than I am. He just didn't put much stock in the Son or, as he put it, "Madame his mother."

trippie

Christians really don't have to worry to much.

 

As long as they repent they will go to heaven. If the world gets to sinful, have no fear, God will save all the animals and one family, as he drowns the rest of us.

Or we'll just get roasted to death as he burns all the cities down. And of course turn us into salt if we get to run away but decide to look back.

 

Sounds like a great Guy if you ask me. Very forgiving.

Caissa

Some people have trouble recognizing myth when they read it.

skdadl

Caissa wrote:

Some people have trouble recognizing myth when they read it.

You would say that of Northrop Frye, would you? (ordained minister ...)

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Some people have trouble recognizing myth when they read it.

 

Indeed. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist_Christianity]Millions of Americans[/url] seem to have this problem. How can we help them understand these myths as myths?

Caissa

If I remember correctly, Frye understood myth.

6079_Smith_W

skdadl wrote:

trippie, re Unionist: lol. I love Unionist; truly, I do. But yeah, 8x out of 10. ;)

Voltaire was not an atheist. He was in fact a thumping deist, which is more than I am. He just didn't put much stock in the Son or, as he put it, "Madame his mother."

Haha

That reminds me of the joke about the two workers hanging up in the rafters of the church who decide to tease an old woman praying down below.

"Helloooo It's Jesus Christ calling you...."

"Shut up! I'm talking to your mother!"

skdadl

Caissa wrote:

If I remember correctly, Frye understood myth.

Frye is generally acknowledged to be one of the greatest literary theoreticians of the C20, and yes, his particular way of working from deep structure could be said to have something to do with myth as that word is popularly slung about. He was also an ordained minister in the United Church.

skdadl

Smith: lol. Presbyterians aren't really into the Marian thing all that much, but the RCs, wow.

Caissa

I should have had a winky face, Skdadl. I'm also using myth in the sense that most literary critics would not in the common parlance of make believe.

trippie

let me rant some more about the middle east religion Christianity that came from teh Jewish religion that came from... and on and on until the beginning of human thought.

 

The things that distrube me the most.

- A woman called Mary being raped by a supernatural being from outrspace. So that it's child can save the world.

- If you do not repent before death, you burn in hell for ever.

- after Adam and Eve their unnamed children having incest to populate the world.

- The only son of God being forced into exicusion.

_ God forcing Abraham to kill his son and then in what is suppose to be a relief, the God changes it's mind. How kind of this God really.

_ How about the fella Jobe? What a missery his life and his families life was.

 

Ok I'm done now.. That feels better, Thank You and God Bless America. The End.

Caissa

You're correct; that is a rant.

Pants-of-dog

trippie wrote:

Here, let me settle this arguement once and for all..

 

Until proven differently; there is no God.

Why should a belief in god be held to a higher standard than atoms?

You can not prove atoms exist. You can amass evidence for atomic theory (which we have: copious amounts), and you can show how such a theory is consistent with observed phenomena (we have done so through experiments repeatedly), but you can't prove it.

Now, if you had said that there is no scientific evidence for god, I would agree immediately, but it still does nto follow that we should therefore assume there is no god. This is because science assumes that god is not responsible for any natural or observable phenomena. Therefore, the best you could ever do in terms of providing evidence for god is to show how something that seems to be caused by god is not caused by any known natural cause. But it could still be caused by an unknown natural cause, which is what science assumes. In other words, it is impossible to find scientific evidence for god because of how science works.

Snert Snert's picture

So science and magick are incompatible.  I guess that makes sense.

One problem is that once you open up explanation of things to magick, you really can't exclude any other magick.  How can the faithful say, with any certainty, that the earth wasn't created by Zeus?  Or Satan?

It's been noted, but I'll note it again, that any atheist and the most zealous believer are going to be in complete agreement about the silliness of all religions except one.  Even as a devout Xtian will expect me to open my mind to believe that his God created me, along with everything else, over a span of six days, he's going to vehemently resist the idea that the earth could rest atop the back of a turtle.  Their interest in open mindedness is restricted solely to being "open minded" to those things they already believe.  At times and places throughout history, an "open mindedness" to anything other than a specific dusty book could get you burned to death.

skdadl

Snert, that is just not true, demonstrably not true. Huge numbers of the faithful of many different religions and denominations are long past anathematizing one another.

Y'know, some peeps here might benefit from thinking about the drawbacks of literalism. Northrop Frye can show you the way.

Snert Snert's picture

I might agree that some of the faithful are OK with other, similar faithful.  A practicing Catholic might cheerfully abide a practicing Anglican, for example.  So long as they're similar enough.  How many would give any credibility at all to Animism?  Or the Greek Gods? 

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