At 12/30/09 08:46 AM, Evark wrote:
If God is all-knowing and ever-present, is it possible that his definition is equivalent to the that of existence itself?
That's one possible definition, sure. That view is generally referred-to as 'pantheism'. From an atheist perspective it would be more in-line with naturalistic pantheism which doesn't actually posit anything 'spiritual' about existence and only uses the terms 'god'/'gods' symbolically.
At 12/30/09 07:19 PM, aviewaskewed wrote:
Yes it is. Show me an example of "God" that exists outside of those texts, or outside what those texts define "God" to be. Because as I pointed out, when you say the name God, you are automatically referencing the monotheistic Judeo-Christian-Muslim God. You limit the concept to needing to be a single deity, and you then limit that deity to only a few points of reference. Those points of reference come solely from the holy texts and the organized religions built around those texts, and that purport those texts as the truth. What's untrue in anything I just said?
What's untrue is your idea that the term "God" automatically implies a Judeo-Christian viewpoint. Now, if the person you were replying-to had said "Adonai" or "Jehovah" or "YHVH" or "Elohim" or something along those lines, you'd be perfectly right... but, the person did not actually use those terms. It isn't so much that the person implied a particular point of reference, it's more that you assumed a particular point of reference. Even if it turns out that you assumed correctly, the implication you claim was there was not. In Judeo-Christian scriptures, nowhere does it say that "God" is God's actual name. Even "Hashem" which is also used, isn't the actual name... it's just a reference to it (literally meaning "The Name").
Also, I would disagree with both of you that 1) we should refrain from referring to those books at all, aaaaaand 2) that those books ("those" e.g. this assumption that we're talking about Judeo-Christian scriptures only) are our only available references for what God is or is-not.
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Anyway for my own contribution to the thread, I'd like to mention this idea some people have suggests "God is all in your head." To that I'd like to say "GEE, REALLY!?!?!?" aaaand "So what?"
I like to think it's fairly obvious to most people that we're the only species with any particular interest in such a topic as deity, or at the very least, any interest in expressing our thoughts and feelings regarding such a topic as deity. I also like to think it's fairly obvious that it doesn't have anything to do with our arms or our legs, but instead it has to do with what's inside our skulls (as in, our cognitive faculties vis-a-vis our brains).
[If anyone has links to any actual studies that involve asking chattering squirrels or howling dogs or sign-language monkeys what their philosophies regarding God are... well, feel free to share.]
I don't quite understand what would lead a person to say something like "I think the fact that 'God' is an entirely human concept / mental process / etc. is the best evidence against God's existence" which (although just a paraphrase here) is something I've seen suggested on at least several occasions by folks who claim to have thought "very deeply" on the subject. To me, it's kind of like saying that the sensations of seeing, hearing, and smelling are the best evidence against the existence of light, sound, and aroma. Or, perhaps more appropriately, it's like saying that logic (and the related presumptions that existence does in fact adhere to a definite set of laws, is knowable, predictable, and capable of being explained rationally) is just a human concept / mental process, and thus, is itself the best evidence against the existence of logic. It's just... silly.
I don't think the fact that "God" stems from our cognitive faculties / is an abstraction of thought is itself any real proof against "God" being an actual facet of reality. If anything I think it just lends proof to the idea that God may include aspects of -- but is beyond -- any one particular strain of religious or spiritual thought.
I remember reading a neural study on belief (here) which cited a paper (here) which concluded that "a variety of experiments suggest that children are predisposed to assume both design and intention behind natural events - leaving many psychologists and anthropologists to believe that children, left entirely to their own devices, would invent some conception of God."
So, I disagree with the view that belief in God is purely a symptom of religious indoctrination. The fact that a child may be taught the same religious beliefs does not mean that brainwashing or indoctrination is taking place, it simply means that a tradition is being passed-down to the next generation. Leaving any and all religious discussion completely alone (or at least until a child has reached a more mature age) would seem rather unlikely to result in the child never asking questions of a religious/spiritual nature or never inventing their own personal philosophy on life/existence/etc that might include design and intention.
Now it could surely be argued (successfully, at that) that children are naturally very credulous and believe all sorts of things that aren't true due to their immaturity -- but, does this facet of a child's character necessarily lead to all those things actually being untrue? People are certainly capable of changing or discarding their beliefs as they grow older, and they do it pretty often at that. Yet spiritual beliefs still persist into adulthood and old age to the point where they are still more common than completely atheistic/nihilistic beliefs.
What I wonder is, how is our cognitive faculties (which afford us the ability to even conceive of such things) anything BUT a form of evidence of these things' potential to exist in reality? For all this talk about what an universal, all-present consciousness is or isn't or could or couldn't BE... I think maybe we should be looking more inwardly, in more ways, at our own state(s) of consciousness before we go on asserting this or that about what makes up an intelligent being or what an intelligence even beyond the STATE of 'being'/'non-being' could even be defined as. The idea that we come up with such conceptions simply to "feel better" about things like death or that they are simply evolved abstractions whose primary purpose is to bind us to each other in social settings seems like a rather half-baked explanation to me.
It seems like, more than anything else, people are story-tellers. Even more than being inventors and designers. Even the most backwards, unrefined, un-technological societies have rich oral traditions to go along with them. Exponentially moreso for those societies that ARE technologically-advanced. So, maybe, God just happens to be the Ultimate Storyteller is all.
Like a Grandmaster Of Dreams or something.
Anyway. Row that boat of yours, be merry about it, life is but an et cetera et cetera.