The Relevance of the Concept of God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Syne, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    There is the possibility of psychological reactance, though, or something similar. Maybe some atheists feel so heavily pressured by theistic explanations of conscience that they shut down and refuse to explore those explanations even just in the abstract. Maybe they feel so much aggressiveness or hostility toward theism and/or theists in general that any exploration of theistic concepts is bound to remain superficial and imprecise. Maybe ...

    It's strange though, given that the thread was intended as a mere exercise, strictly assuming that God does not exist.

    Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, can you think of some?

    All the refutations I can think of work only with an inferior definition of "god" (ie. a demigod), and there have been plenty of those in this thread already.
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    So true. It's not surprising this thread was really just one big excuse for atheist-bashing. It was basically a heated theist's reaction to my thread on the irrelevance of God. There were two or three of those if I remember--attempts at getting back at atheists for asserting the obvious irrelevance of God in a modern secular world. Sort of proves my point really. When you can't counterargue, disparage the posters.
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  5. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    On the contrary, the moment one insists its sufficient to define the breadth of any term by whatever and whoever advocates it, one arrives at the same conclusion - namely that it can be stretched to mean and justify practically anything.

    IOW its a core ingredient of discussion (and indeed progress) that specific terms be defined accurately so that its properties can be understood. Usually such a term, when it appears to have a myriad of usages, are classified in accordance to certain individuals and groups.
    For instance its not sufficient to claim that pseudo science is science, since there are groups of people who suggest this. Rather, the term is defined by parameters of what is and isn't science ... as opposed to automatically broadening the term for the sake of including a certain group of people
    Or even in simple terms of semiotics, to be "gay" meant something completely different in 1920 than what it does now ... as opposed to suggesting that its early usage is indicative of latent homosexuality (or alternatively, homosexuality is an effective means for becoming light-hearted and carefree)

    And similarly to say that god as a term has no properties outside justification of ethics (objective or otherwise) is simply an aspect of atheistic ideas on what god essentially is (namely exists purely as a product of social complexity arising from the culture of human society) ... certainly an idea quite distinct from how theistic discussions.
    IOW theist discussions aim at removing the wheat from the chaff while atheistic discussions throw the chaff back in with the wheat for the the sake of providing so-called broad all-inclusive definitions of god, religion etc.

    But then its not really expected that atheists (or even a neophyte theists for that matter) have great intellectual powers of discrimination to analyze the subject of god since they don't have access to a sufficient fund of knowledge ..... or to say the least, their understanding are partial (at least from the view of a theist capable of discriminating on what is and isn't religion, god, etc)
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Phoenix from the ashes!
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I think having access to a sufficient fund of knowledge might not even be necessary for these discussions; but what is necessary is the ability for discernment. On principle, it is enough to be able to consistently pay attention at will, progressively, and one can discern phenomena even if one has little or no previously and formally obtained knowledge or other ideas of them.
    So, on principle, even atheists (and even tables-and-chairs kind of atheists) should be able to keep up with such discussions.

    Of course, the ability for discernment is connected with a number of other abilities, notably the ones for goodwill and generosity, and for many people this is where the problem is ...
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I guess that's kind of what it's devolved to. Maybe that's all that it really was. But my sense is that Syne originally did have an idea and started a thread in order to introduce it. But he never fully explained what his idea was and his exposition was hyperbolic and overstated. (I think he was angry when he started the thread.) Subsequent discussion (this thread is more than 400 posts long) has drifted all over the map. Many posts contradict many other posts, to the point where there's little consistency left and it isn't even clear what theses are being defended any longer.

    All that seems to remain fixed and stable is the idea that atheists lack knowledge of God (or lack the concept of 'God', or of 'god' or 'higher consciousness' or something), that they are therefore incapable of fully developing their consciences, and hence that they suck, both intellectually and personally.

    I guess that the whole thread has reached the point of being little more than noise at this point, too much attitude and too little tangible substance.

    Yeah, that seems to be be what motivated it. I have to say that I think that your assertion in that thread was hyperbolic and over-stated too. It suffered from some of the same defects that afflict this thread.

    I disagree with the idea that the concept of 'God' is always irrelevant. That's overstated. Belief in 'God' (even if God doesn't exist) can be deeply psychologically relevant for many people, their (imagined) compass in life. And I also disagree with this thread's apparent idea that possessing 'the god concept' (whatever that's supposed to be, something to do with omniscience I think) is necessary for full human development. That's overstated too. Countless people live meaningful and fully humane lives in which theistic religion's 'G/god' concepts play no discernable role.
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I often find myself kicking into hyperbolic mode when initially stating a position here. I find it provokes more responses and evokes similar polemical emotionalism. It's a technique I've picked up from several good editorial writers. I think that it is appropriate sometimes.

    Religion is a very emotional "hot button" issue for me, as is gay rights. There is value in people processing their feelings and beliefs here in a public way. A sort of catharis for various unconscious doubts we might be harboring or cognitive dissonance that underlies our thinking. It helps us sort out the psychological structures that are always, usually unbeknownst to ourselves, informing and framing what beliefs and worldviews we adhere to. Belief in religion is a very personal thing. And when I attack it I mean it to strike at the very core of why people hold onto it so dearly.

    Unfortunately as you point out, it usually just degenerates soon into a one-upmanship contest of seeing who can more indirectly insult the other without actually being banned for it. But hell, even that can be therapeutic in a way. Where else are atheists and theists going to have the much desired opportunity to tell each other off but in an online science forum about religion?
  11. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    The concept of "God" on the whole is somewhat obsolete at best.

    The reason why people stick to this concept of "God" is plain and simple weakness, do not get me wrong, i'm not saying that theists are weaker, what i am saying is that the whole concept of "God" comes from a need to be/feel special, secure, guided and so on.
    "God" is a product of the human expectations and fears (i'm talking the obvious here), and that's the only reason why it remains SOMEWHAT obsolete. By the moment WE as HUMANS dispatch ourselves of this need for a omnipotent father figure by developing our conscience of ourselves, both as individuals and society we will not need an overseer anymore.

    And that's when it will become totally obsolete. The concept of "God" has only persevered because the huge majority of people in the world are good people who want the evil of this planet purged, that's where this concept comes.
    Althought I consider it pretty childish it is a pretty important concept nevertheless. At least for some people.
  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    On the contrary, moving towards environments that are special, secure and guided is a function of intelligence and not weakness.
    IOW to reject such an environment would be a weakness since it defaults one to the position of being inferior, lost and vulnerable

    Actually you are not talking about the obvious.
    You are simply talking about atheist ideas on what god is.
    As such, any ideology is not "obvious".
    Its simply a mental idea about how power does and does not exist in the world .... an idea that tends to be at loggerheads with other conflicting ideological views.

    IOW calling an ideology "obvious" is simply a ploy to try and take a detour around discussing its particular merits and how it exists as more attractive/capable/functional than others ...

    The problem is that you haven't actually "dispatched the need" for god.
    There are literally innumerable problems intrinsic to material existence that are insurmountable to the materialistic mode of thought.
    IOW no amount of altruistic or scientific advancement or co-operation between individuals or nations can hope to deal with the problem of attachment to things that will shortly cease to exist in a world of birth, death, old age and disease

    Just as you earlier talked about religion arising from a need for psychological comfort, its actually the atheistic world view that arises out of such means.

    The notion of being eternally inferior to a greater entity is simply repulsive to materialistic thinking. It tends to arise from our experience of subservience to others more powerful than ourselves ... ie great feelings of envy coupled with the experience of being inconvenienced , taken advantage of and even degraded by having aspects of our lives controlled by others.
    Hence its natural for individuals who take this experience as the all in all to be repulsed by the concept of god - someone who is the absolute controller and who has a position of power we can never approach.

    In lieu of such needs, interests and concerns, its understandable why certain individuals require at least the appearance of a godless universe in order to function.
  13. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Yet for some reason, you will find it practically impossible to find such an atheist.

    In all my experience on this site, I only ever encountered one such person (who was studying philosophy ... he's no longer active on this site)

  14. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    Yes I get your point, but still, If you HAVE the need to FEEL special/secure/guided it doesn't exactly mean that you moved to a special/secure/guided place. In other words, religion or the concept of "God" comes exactly to make you feel it, not exactly be there. Unless you are talking about heaven, apologies if I misunderstood. Of course, moving to a special/secure place is the smartest move (by 'place' i mean state of mind, spirit, you name it), but feel like you are there and BE there, are two different things. And, the concept of "God" comes exactly as the Father who can get you there (when you are the one getting there by yourself which is not bad, just misunderstood)

    Talking about Father figure, that's what exactly the concept of "God" is, 'the man that will help us and save and keep us away from harm', as a Father he will come to our aid with our expectations and fears and 'tell us a bedtime story' (i'm not trying to offend here just to illustrate), because that's what fathers do. I think that it's just plain logics, not exactly an 'atheist misconception'. Which leads to the Father's figure (God).

    I get your point on the "Attachment to things" issue, but that's exactly one of the things we need to dispatch ourselves of in order to evolve as human beings, and as we get that piece done we will see the purposeless life that a material life is. Thus, having evolved, by that, we will no longer need a Deity of any sort to purge it out of our world.
    Besides, how did you come to this subject? I'm atheist and not even a bit materialistic. I probably misunderstood it but, are you implying that atheists are materialistics?
    I see that a materialistic someone may have some problems with subservience, and yes, a Father figure implies superiority but still, i believe that this is also another metaphor? (not the best word but anyway) to our need to comprehend that we humans need to comprehend that we need to stop thinking that we are self-sustaining when we are not even close to that. Yet again, to evolve and further dispatch ouselves of this Father figure we will need to get over this idea.

    Shit that was a long text....
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  15. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Then to advance your argument you need to show that god is not there despite the "feeling".
    This could be problematic for you on numerous fronts.
    Showing feeling doesn't falsify a claim, since we have feeling for numerous things that exist (eg feeling hungry -> food, etc etc). In fact there is even an argument that the tendency for individuals to place eternal values on temporary things (ie the pursuit of the consistent, the reliable, the effervescent, etc) in a world that cannot grant such qualities suggests that such a different world exists (since its not our experience to have qualitative feelings for similarly qualitative objects that do not exist)

    well thats the same with any topic that grants security you could care to mention.
    Its one thing to talk about the benefits of having money. Its another to actually have it and use it in such a manner.
    Its one thing to talk about being involved in a secure relationship. Its another to actually have one.

    IOW fleshing out the details and means of possessing a quality that is beneficial is simply the next step after ascertaining that the quality is beneficial.
    To say the least, you haven't effectively removed the security that money can offer by simply suggesting its a consequence of artificial need or that its difficult to acquire or whatever.

    Once again, this is not logic, its simply an atheistic requirement to support its world view.
    Having a figure or individuals who act out of a superior position for our benefit is even a requirement for mundane society ... what to speak of discussing the concept on a more cosmic level.
    To reject such a position of security (or to downplay it) is to reject a more secure environment, hence one has to look at what so-called benefits an individual has to gain by outwardly rejecting it ... which again comes back to the experiences and understandings of certain people who require an apparently godless universe in order to function.

    and exactly how do you propose to do this?
    IOW any discussion of evolution cannot take place without the bonding relationship between the senses (IOW how a living entity sees, tastes, touches, etc the world) and the sense objects (the world that offers such things to see, touch etc) being the active principle. That is to say, evolution is about the "success" of materialistic life, not the rejection of it.
    Sure, you can talk about how the senses are a network of entanglement in materialistic affairs, but I can absolutely guarantee you that this offers absolutely no buffer zone for when you come in to contact with the sense objects.
    IOW the senses always require engagement. Artificially trying to stop the activities of the senses is like trying to compress a truck spring. The more you push the harder it gets until eventually it bounces out with to an unprecedented level.
    Unless the senses find some engagement outside of the materialistic paradigm, there is not even the possibility of going beyond it.

    This is simply not possible.
    Even when asleep, the mind generates scenarios for sense engagement (ie dreaming)

    By materialistic I mean that one has no scope for activity beyond the material sphere, typified by sleeping, eating, mating and defending (IOW a comfortable material life) . So whatever is done in the name of science, philosophy, altruism or whatever by such persons finds no expression beyond these four pillars of existence. As a side point, this POI usually defaults to the notion that one's experience of individuality is only a one off and of no great merit to existence (being a consequence of chance). As such, extrapolating to the wider community or world begins from their ego : eg My body, My family, MY nation, MY people, My world, MY planet etc etc.

    An atheist, by definition, has no scope beyond this

    recognizing that we are not self sustaining is simply sanity.
    As such, it finds expression in both materialistic and transcendental world views

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  16. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    You are basically telling me that even if I feel/grasp for something that does not belong within this reality, it could mean that it could exist in another reality? If not reality, dimension, universe, life etc... You kinda lost me there.
    I can presume that the feeling is FAITH, but still, it does not apply (or be directed) to only a Father figure, I have faith myself, that one day, mankind will get out of this well of insanity and selfishness into a better individual/society relationship. But that's still faith, silly? Yes but that's me.
    Still on the subject, it's not tthe Father figure that's bringing you the benefits, it's the FAITH, it's YOU, you're getting there by yourself, "But you need faith", of course you do! But it doesn't have to be exactly on "God", it can be on an idea, "God's idea"? Maybe, but what would it be? Selflessness? Charity?
    Superheroes prey on that to sell their HQs so, "God" can easily be substituted by a better idea (or let's say 'Character')
    But the thing about the "God's concept" is that it is representing an unfailing, never-resting-watcher-of-all-things that, doesn't make a lot of sense, I'd say. And, overwhelms the individual with it's supposed 'Perfection'. The concept of "God" has it's benefits, but it's not the thing at work, FAITH is what it is. "Faith on what?", Superiority, "Why?", because we are frail, we need this psychological comfort.
    What i'm trying to say is that the "God" as we know (not specifically talking about the Christian god, but deity of superiority in general) is not necessary, as we have the tools to evolve and they can be understood as senses like of selflessness, faith, consciousness.
    May even sound bland and cliche, but that's what we need, we get those and we use them, once we do that we will start evolving as humans, and will realize that it was our work,not of a "God". And evolved as humans comprehending the world/society/individuals around us. I believe that this is not exactly materialistic as you suggest like "MY body, MY family" and so on. Unless I am misconcepting (which I think I am). Still, since we are bond to this world, we must stick to what we can do within the possibilities of this world.

    Oh and no, it's not Kindle. It's an Android AH sux Dx tiny keypad and stuff
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  17. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    To me God represents true love, and perfection. Pretty relevant stuff.
  18. Balerion Banned Banned

    That's ridiculous. The real, tangible thing people who turn to God are seeking is comfort, or safety, or guidance, or assurance, or any number of actual concepts that exist in this world. One could achieve that--and indeed does achieve that--without actually discovering God. Even you'd have to concede this point, since you believe in a form of Christianity, which posits that there is only one true God, and one truth path to him. That leaves plenty of spiritually-fulfilled folks who have never actually heard the truth or spoken to the genuine article.
  19. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    On the contrary. Those who have agreed with the OP have consistently demonstrated the ability to differentiate terms the atheists here have proven incapable of. The inability to differentiate terms has render many of the responses in this thread only obliquely on-topic, at best.
  20. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Not really strange, as even the most innocuous hint of "god" seems to illicit such a response. Interesting link on reactance though, as the perceived threat to behavioral freedoms would seem to be a factor in a relative morality.

    I would really like to play devil's advocate here, buy unfortunately I cannot think of any other way to develop conscience, as everything else seems to rely on social pressures and learned behaviors. That many in this thread claimed conscience is strictly innate, and could not be further developed, it seems that no alternative is necessary.

    Simply deny that the further development of conscience is possible, and thereby justify whatever existing conscience one may possess without challenge.
  21. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Only Yazata has made any "atheist-bashing" remarks. And it is trivially untrue that god is irrelevant when you spend so much time arguing the topic. People do not bother to argue, or even point out, the truly irrelevant.
  22. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member


    Wow, the need you guys have to help each other quell your cognitive dissonance is both humorous and sad. Yazata simply quit responding to posts which included direct answers to his questions, so he could maintain the fiction he created to justify marginalizing this thread. The projective ad hominems, strawman arguments in the attempt to poison the well, and Dunning-Kruger effect of your own lack of knowledge of the subject is both humorous and transparent.

    Hilarious to see Yazata making the only truly insulting statements about atheists in this thread, and all of his own making. Self-loathing much? "Meaningful" and "humane" were never at issue in this thread, so it seems much of this is just atheists reacting as they typically would to ANY god-related thread, regardless of actual content.

    As example, the insistent that a thread expressly assuming a god does not exist must, through some convolution of cognitive bias, be religiously motivated.

    You will always talk right past people who insist on assuming you have a personal stake in an issue that you do not.
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    On the contrary, it is YOU who has been strenuously arguing and prevaricating in a now 460 post thread a point which if indeed true shouldn't have to be argued for at all. The fact that theists spend so much time trying to reestablish the relevance of God in the world proves my point well enough I think. God is irrelevant in exact proportion to the amount of effort and bandwidth expended by his believers to make him relevant. Even if that means reducing him to a mere deistic impotent observer of human moral behavior--a spooky phantasm haunting the brains of the ethically unevolved.

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