The Relevance of the Concept of God

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

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I am saying that we have no experience of need that doesn't have its related object.
    If you are trying to say that the need for the consistent, reliable, etc has no suitable object in this world, then you are running against this general principle.

    Once again, this is not an argument for god's existence. Its simply pointing out an obstacle in the argument you are presenting.

    Methods of dealing with the problem of attachment to things that will shortly cease to exist in the medium of birth, death, old age and disease may be better or may be worse than what is currently popular ... but regardless, these problems remain insurmountable to materialistic thinking.
    IOW materialistic thinking, advancement and co-operation on either an individual or global level offers no tangible solution to this problem.
    Altruism cannot save the day.

    Selflessness and charity are but two aspects of the greater category of altruism

    regarding any sort of greater power, faith is helpful at a certain level, yet it is not at all required in order to reap the benefits.
    For instance you may not have any faith in your local political power. In fact you may even be totally ignorant of them. Despite this however, you get to live in a community that has relatively clean streets, drinking water and a host of other utilities that arise from having utilities established and maintained.
    Similarly, despite having similar issues with the concept of god, you still get to live on a planet and have your needs fulfilled in various ways.
    If however one desired to enter more deeply into these topics (to understand how such powers do and do not work, what values they appreciate, etc etc) then certainly it would require a bit of faith in the said individual's position.

    We not only do not see any sort of evolution towards selflessness, we also see a complete absence of any sort of framework to suggest altruism is even theoretically capable of dealing with god's job description (unless you want to dumb down the term "god" and define it purely in secondary terms)

    what is the requirement for a more "evolved" human society if the pillars of material existence remain the same?

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  3. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Partially incorrect.
    that's merely one category ... actually one category of neophyte since its using the word "begin"

    BG 7.16 O best among the Bhāratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me — the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.

    sure, hence there is more to the concept of god than mere assurance of one's material situation

    I'm not sure what point it is you want me to concede since atm you are simply backing up statements I made as opposed to challenging them.
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  5. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    When ~80% of the world population believes in a god, it is only in special interest internet forums that the ~20% can be overrepresented (and appear significant). The fact that you are likely confronted by this ~80% in your life (especially to the point of seeking out religion forums) is sufficient to call it relevant. But your own argument works against you. Or do you think people would argue for the existence of a god would do so without any opposition? Atheism has nothing to argue unless refuting theism, whereas theism exists regardless of any opposition. And I would surmise that the bandwidth used to debate the existence of a god, when normalized to the respective percentages, would weight heavily toward atheists. Theists use more bandwidth simply discussing their shared beliefs with each other.

    That you cannot see these simple facts is just more fuel on your cognitive bias fire.
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Yes, they are very rare.

    But why is that? I don't understand. Atheists generally directly or indirectly claim to posses a superior kind of knowledge or perspective. But wouldn't someone who posseses a superior kind of knowledge or perspective be capable of superior discernment, superior goodwill and superior generosity? A mark of which would be that they would very rarely if ever commit logical fallacies. Unless, of course, we are to believe that the true nature of all existence is that it is dog-eat-dog through and through ...
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    But why? Aren't self-identified atheists superior people?

    (If we are to apply Freudian psychology here about the ego defense mechanisms, there's plenty of evidence for several of them at work in some atheists when they communicate with theists. Notably, denial, projection, projective identification.)

    Indeed, reactance doesn't occur in all people in all situations.

    But when it comes to God, it's as if many people are like dry hay, and the mere word "God" is like a spark of fire - it sets them on fire (usually with resistance)! Which actually confirms the traditional ideas about God being the most powerful, the most famous, the most influential etc.

    Among other things, that paints a very bleak picture of the universe, a dog-eat-dog scenario through and through with no hope of anything better. How can anyone be happy and find meaning in such a universe - other than perhaps through pride and a good dose of denial and ignorance?
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

    Irrelevant. The point is that people aren't looking for "God" so much as they're looking for what God represents--whether that's assurance, comfort, truth, or whatever.

    Not really. I mean, sure, the seeker or believer convinces themselves that what they're after is "spiritual," but all religious beliefs are predicated on material matters. What makes a pursuit "material" or "spiritual" is always whether the believer thinks there is any value in it. And that value is almost always determined by the arbitrary rule of the deity.

    No, I'm not.
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Bear in mind that if you hold that the need for safety and the need for guidance (ie. a recognition and acknowledgement of one's own insufficiency) are somehow primitive or a mark of weakness, you are discarding the whole traditional Buddhist enlightenment project as well, and also two of the traditional motivations for the development of science.

    IOW, if you hold that the need for safety and the need for guidance (ie. a recognition and acknowledgement of one's own insufficiency) are somehow primitive or a mark of weakness, you're up against a lot. Let's see how you handle that.

    How is that obvious??

    If you're talking about "developing our conscience of ourselves", then you're talking about something other than the OP.

    But if you mean "developing our conscience for ourselves" - then do give some suggestions for how this is to be done.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    How can the two be separate?

    When one is interested in someone or something, one is automatically interested in what one can get from said thing or person (or in what one can get the other person to accept from one).

    How could one possibly look for X without also looking for what X represents?

    Well, people see what their basic pradagim allows them to see ...
  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    As already mentioned, you are talking about neophytes approaching the subject of god.
    God represents a lot more than the four things mentioned in the previous verse ... hence the use of "begin"

    On the contrary, all atheistic conjecture is relegated to materialistic matters.
    All they are doing is extrapolating their own limited experience to situations that are beyond it.

    whether a pursuit is categorized material or spiritual has absolutely nothing to do with how valuable a living entity grades it.

    being omnimax, there is absolutely nothing arbitrary between god and the path he delineates for approaching such an awareness
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Since when does belief in something equate to it suddenly being relevant. 80% of the people may also believe in ufos, the devil, and heaven and hell. Does that make those things relevant to our secular and scientific universe? No. Are government committees therefore set up to study these issues and effect the integration of their existence into our everyday lives? Hardly. People may believe in gods, yet never has our world had anything LESS to do with such fantastical beings. And for the record, this is a science forum. The theists who post here are the ones who are out of place here and they know it. That's why they hang out here--to push their religion on the predominately atheist/agnostic members here.

    I see. So theists won't argue without opposition, and yet theism persists here in a science forum regardless of any opposition?

    No..theists spend most their time here apologetically defending their belief in God when they feel science becomes a threat to it. It doesn't even have to be an explicitly atheistic thread. It can be one about the Big Bang, or evolution, or life's meaning, or whatever. That's all it really takes to get the theists going again about how a God no one can see much less even define still has relevance in the world.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    As an abstract, general truism, this is true by definition. No objection to that.

    However, problems emerge when we are supposed to consider a particular path as proposed by men to be the path set out by God.

    If one would have first-hand personal knowledge from God as to which path is the right one, there wouldn't be a problem. But as things stand, we are left with having to trust people - at that sometimes people who sometimes express the desire to kick people in the face and piss on them.

    Perhaps you don't have a problem with trusting such people, and perhaps it is indeed a sign of higher spiritual insight and attainment to be able to trust such people. After all, maybe existence is dog-eat-dog through and through, and those of us with humanistic sensibilities are simply proud weaklings or some such.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The question is, for how long.

    Usually, the scenario goes -
    Man vs. volcano - man 0, volcano 1
    Man vs. earthquake - man 0, earthquake 1
    Man vs. cancer - man 0, cancer 1
    and so on.

    Oh, at least get that part straight. LG is no Christian, you should know this by now.
  16. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Sorry, but the OP was a train wreck from the get go, which has been pointed out to you from the get go, and you've been in denial ever since.
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I don't think it is so simple. Something that a particular person experiences as a need may actually be a mere desire, something constructed. There's also the possibility of a categorical mismatch between the need and the object.

    For example, a typical scenario between two romantic lovers is that they think or say "I need you," and so there exist indeed a felt need and an object of that need. Of course, allow for enough time to pass, and usually, people still have the need, and the object, but the object doesn't satisfy the need anymore, nor can any other object of the same kind. Another example is when a drug addict feels he needs the drug, but even taking the drug doesn't satisfy his need anymore.

    IOW, the issue is that when we feel a craving, a need for something, and it appears this something is food, other people, money, a musical piece etc. - what exactly is it that we crave or need? And what would truly be the object of that craving or need?

    One may feel one craves, say, chocolate, but in fact, crave inner peace. And for such a person, for some time, consuming chocolate may indeed bring a measure of inner peace. That doesn't mean though that the chocolate is the actual related object of that need or craving.
    Arguably, most perceived human needs and desires are such categorical mismatches.

    Are you saying there are objects in this world (!) which are consistent, reliable, etc.??

    I really want to know about this.

    Are you saying you can show us the "brightness of the world"?
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'd think that an atheist has no scope beyond their sense of "I" - in the sense that atheism has no room for acknowledging that other beings have their own will too; atheism is a view that necessarily objectifies and demotes all other beings; an athest can care about one's family, one's nation, one's planet etc. only in that one sees them as an extension of oneself (and not as entities that exist with equal existential autonomy as oneself).
  19. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    That is pure bs and only shows a "differentiation of terms", the exact thing Syne is complaining the atheists are doing. The hypocrisy is astounding.
  20. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    Ok I got you, so by your therms, the need to feel special, guided or secure is the object. "God" is a representation of the experience of need. IOW "God" is hunger, need to feel special/guided/secure is the food.
    " regarding any sort of greater power, faith is helpful at a certain level, yet it is not at all required in order to reap the benefits."
    If so, faith on a superior deity is even less necessary. I get what you mean, but what you are missing is that the police actually exists and it's the actual thing at work. Faith is what exists and is the actual thing at work on this case.
    And how altruism cannot save the day? Certainly not alone, but within the idea of helping the evolution of human conscience it can, yes, save the day. Here we are switching methods, the belief in a deity for comprehension of individual/society relationship on a more profound aspect aka altruism.
    Althought I give you that the materialistic thinking will always remain, it will, diminish nevertheless, never completely vanishing since we do not live outside our universe, and we will always be chained tight to the senses, which does not allow us to have transcendent views of our reality.
    What I am saying here is that we are taking "God's job" regarding self buildance (is that a word?) and consciousness. And altruism is one of the tools, besides the fact that the pillars of the materialistic thinking remain, what can evolve is our comprehension and 'way of dealing' with such matters in an empyrical way, rendering the concept of "God" outdated.

    I'm not exactly saying that it's a weakness, to become aware and acknowledge that you need help (read as be secure/guided and so on), is a mark of intelligence and I'd say even skeptical thinking, althought, having the constant need to feel helped is not exactly brilliantism, as I previously said to lightgigantic "feel like you are there and BE there, are two different things", having the constant need to feel special could fall into a psychological subject i'm not prone to get into discussion.
    And that relates to the Father figure again, we have this need to 'be told a bedtime story' (again, not to offend, just illustrate).
    As we make a projection of an 'invisible friend' to deal with a 'bully', we make a projection of a superior being ("God" as the invisible friend) to deal with our expectations and fears in a hostile world of hard comprehension and little to no simpathy ('bully').
    Lastly, how could we develop a conscience of ourselves for anything other than ourselves? Please explain to me.
    The how would come back to the idea of altruism, and also enlightenment. The thing I see is that theists find hard to separate these two factors from the "God" image and concept, which is obsolete and halfway to irrelevant, since we have already substituted it, we just stick to the idol. Again, i am not talking about the Christian deity, i am talking about the Superior Deity/Entity idea.
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    That raises two questions in my mind.

    First, why should anybody else believe that assertion? (You know, other people, people who might not already agree with you.) How does disbelief in God imply disbelief in other people? Presumably you aren't just equating them. What chain of reasoning do you believe connects atheism with the denial of realism and with solipsism? There seem to be a number of hidden premises in there.

    And second, in the past you've insisted that you yourself aren't a theist. But in this thread you've been firing all sorts of rather insulting shots at atheism and at atheists. So what's up with that? If the theism/atheism distinction is a binary one, then an individual would seem to have to be either one or the other. If you're not a theist, then wouldn't you be an atheist? If you aren't an atheist, wouldn't that make you a theist? Or do you believe that the distinction isn't binary and that there are other alternatives? How would you escape from this little trap that you appear to have set for yourself?
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

    It really does't, though. You can say that there are other aspirations and approaches, but they're never enumerated by the seeker/believer. "God" is always about emotional or philosophical desires, nothing more.

    That's not contrary to what I said. I never argued that there's anything more than the material to atheism. What I said was that theism is as well. In order to affect otherwise, the theist must make unsupportable claims like the one you've made here, in asserting that the atheist or unbeliever is somehow "limited."

    Of course it does. Every religious dilemma is either explicitly material or can be boiled down to primitive material fears and desires (Do you want life or death? Do you want to be enlightened or ignorant? Do you want pain or comfort? And so on). Claims to values beyond these are either without substance or themselves expressly material.

    But which one is omnimax? As I've said already, you have so many different myths, and so many myths which make claims of exclusivity, they can't all be right. And yet there are people of all walks who would lay claim to the kind of awareness you speak of.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'm glad we're on somewhat speaking terms again!

    You don't have to. And if you feel somehow pressed to believe it, then I think the real thing is to ask yourself why you feel this pressure.

    I was replying to LG, and he and I know what I'm referring to.

    Other than that, in short: To allow for the ontological possibility that other entities exist with equal existential autonomy as oneself requires some kind of existential context that allows for this. To believe that others exist with equal existential autonomy as oneself and yet not feel threatened by that requires a reference to some higher principle or entity to which both oneself and others are equally obligated. Such a higher principle or entity can, for example, be that of biological evolution (although that one with the whole struggle for survival is a rather bestial one), or God (with the many theistic doctrines, varying from bestial to lovey-dovey).

    In the struggle for survival, one cannot simply compete with or kill other entities as long as one believes they exist with the equal existential autonomy as oneself. To compete with them or to kill them, requires either a submission to a principle or entity that is deemed superior to both parties, or to objectify and demote the other into a mere means for one's survival.

    I'll elaborate more as needed.

    And I still don't consider myself a theist. I think that anyone who considers me a theist has very low standards for what it means to be a theist.

    I think it's more that you feel that way.

    But sure - I think that belief in God has the potential to put things into perspective the way nothing else does.

    I don't think it's so simple.

    People are complex - you're familiar with the idea of human life being a "mixed bag."

    In the abstract, the theism/atheism distinction is indeed a binary one, but the way things work out for actual people, is that an actual person usually has a mix of theistic and atheistic tendencies. It's rare to find a fully consequent atheist and it's rare to find a fully consequent theist.

    Often enough, one can easily enough spot atheistic tendencies in a person who claims to be a theist; and one can easily enough spot theistic tendencies in a person who claims to be an atheist.

    The black-and-white thinking that many people engage in when it comes to this topic appears to be indicative of the psychological defense mechanism of splitting.

    No trap, just realism about the human condition.

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