Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Spectrum
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Spectrum » January 11th, 2018, 12:20 am

Fanman wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 8:22 am
Pointing to one proximate underlying cause as Spectrum has seems presumptuous or simply wrong to me.
How does one go about proving that there's a single underlying cause for religious belief? Wouldn't that be akin to looking for a needle in a haystack? I think he's right that it is one of the causes of religious belief, but it is clearly not the only cause, and therefore may not be the proximate (root) cause, as there are other causes that could be "proximate".
I often mentioned the existential crisis as the proximate cause, but this is merely a tip of an iceberg in relation to the ultimate cause.

I suggest you have to think deeper into the human psyche.

I listed the existential crisis [salvation, psychological security] as the proximate cause I would give it a weighting of 80% of all causes. This existential crisis is expressed in the Quran, Bible and other holy texts.

There are social and cultural [i.e. tribalistic] reasons but these are reducible to the existential crisis.

The majority of so-called believers are born into the religion and this reason cannot be given high weightage. But when the existential crisis as per the Bible, Quran is triggered strongly they will be 'born again' believers and cling to the religion seriously.

Can you list down 5 main reasons and assign your respective weightings [verifiable to the holy texts] to them?
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by LuckyR » January 11th, 2018, 3:34 am

Eduk wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 5:35 am
Three paragraphs to try to weasel out of admitting that: yes, it is reasonable to use objective data that supports the existence of gods, should one be presented with some.
Weasel? Please don't accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, I thought we were having a polite conversation?
Let me try to make myself clearer.
1. Thus far there is zero direct or indirect evidence to believe in a specific God with specific attributes.
2. As soon as you attribute God with characteristics you step outside of all human expertise. For example I can say God created the universe. But what do I know about creation of a universe? Can I judge that? Do I have the expertise? I personally am agnostic to a question such as 'was the universe created'. As in I have no information one way or the other. My own personal suspicion is that the word created when applied to the universe makes no sense. But that is just my proportional belief based on the logical impossibility of existence but the apparent fact that we exist regardless.
3. If God sat down next to me then I would not be able to tell, as in there is no test I could perform that would prove it. Proving God is logically impossible for a human. If a God like being (relative to me) did his best to convince me he was God then I fail to see how I could resist (although I would be very proud of myself if I did). All I would say is that philosophically there is no absolute certainty of anything, so hopefully I would retain that much philosophy in the face of a God like being.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to "badger" you. But seriously, I agree that individuals will differ on what they consider valid proof of the genuineness of a deity. Some just need it written down in a text with archaic syntax. Others believe whatever their elders tell them.

You are, of course correct that no one has any expertise in the realm of gods. Yet numerous posters on this forum feel perfectly justified lecturing on the nuances and details of how their god operates.
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Dark Matter
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Dark Matter » January 11th, 2018, 3:42 am

Spectrum wrote:
January 11th, 2018, 12:00 am
Dark Matter wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 11:33 pm
On a more serious note, the question “why believe in a God when it is impossible to prove” obviates the whole philosophical endeavor in one fell swoop.
Your usual one-liner. What serious note?
Just present your justified arguments.
Your philosophy is something of a joke and so it is hard for me to take it seriously.

Is it the task of of philosophy to prove hypothesis or to explore their implications and ramifications? (Note: in philosophy, a hypothesis is a proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth.) If you want to learn, beware of learning THE TRUTH. Your certainty is the very antithesis of philosophy: its preaching, not “doing philosophy.” (What you do is against forum rules, but I’ve been around long enough to know there’s generally a double-standard in these matters: one for atheists and one for theists.)

Logic is about the consistency of propositions made about nature or the “real world”; it says nothing at all about it. How we focus, through which filters we grasp our reality, is the means by which we define that reality, and then this definition is our means through which we relate and shape what we perceive. And judging by your posts, your existential angst drives you to hate and fear theism like no other in this forum. So, instead of dwelling In your pit of despair, why not look at things in a more positive light? Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow is a good place to begin.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Greta » January 11th, 2018, 4:40 am

Enough. Locked.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Greta » January 14th, 2018, 2:01 am

Unlocked now on request. It's now a matter of wait and see ...

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Fanman » January 14th, 2018, 9:35 am

Spectrum:
I am claiming there is an ultimate cause that manifest in many proximate causes and many forms of diversified causes.
I understand what you're claiming, but I don't think that you're correct. For reasons that I've already stated.
I believe if you were to ask ALL theists why they believe in God, there will be a variety of reasons and there will be a few main reasons contributing to say 80% and the rest 20%.
How do you differentiate between main and non-main reasons, what's the criteria, how deeply they're embedded in the human psyche? How could you know which is more deeply embedded?
For every reasons given by theists why they believe in a God, if we dig deep into the psyche, we will get to the ultimate cause, i.e. the existential crisis. It is not what I think is the ultimate and proximate causes, obviously the reason must be justified thoroughly [ I have details but too complex to get into here].
Why do we need to dig deep into the psyche? If someone states their main or most important reason for believing in God, why not accept that as the answer? You are attempting to prove your hypothesis, but by ignoring the claim in favour of what you think the most important reason is, I think that you're in the remit of confirmation bias. What's the point of asking if you think you already know?
I believe it is empirically possible [not impossible] for a pink unicorn to exist on Earth yet to be discovered or somewhere in the Universe albeit the probability is very slim.
Based upon what evidence or hypothesis?
I have demonstrated why God is only possible as a thought supported by brain activities but God is an impossibility within an empirical-rational reality.
In my view, you only think you have.
The only reason why theists believe in God is purely psychological based on the ultimate, proximate and other psychological causes I mentioned above.


You're insisting. Your reasoning is based upon the “proof” of your own hypothesis.
You tell me, other than an empirical-rational reality and the mental world, what other mode of reality can we justify the existence of anything?


I don't think that we can justify the existence of another mode of reality, but that hasn't stopped people from believing in the possibility rightly or wrongly. I don't think that we can justify (qua knowledge) belief in non-empirical realities, but this does not mean that they cannot exist.
If there is any "more" reality to experiences of God, it must be possible to be verified with an empirical-rational reality.


You can't verify something non-empirical with empirical methods of verification. Its an issue of belief.
Can you list down 5 main reasons and assign your respective weightings [verifiable to the holy texts] to them?
I think that people may have main or most important reasons why they believe in God, but psychologically (or subconsciously), I don't think that there are main and non-main reasons for religious belief. I find that claiming an ultimate cause is far reaching, as people believe for many different reasons. Trying to isolate and categorise them seems arbitrary. How many things can we claim that existential crisis is the ultimate cause of?
Once a theist, now agnostic.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Spectrum » January 14th, 2018, 11:51 pm

Fanman wrote:
January 14th, 2018, 9:35 am
Spectrum:
I am claiming there is an ultimate cause that manifest in many proximate causes and many forms of diversified causes.
I understand what you're claiming, but I don't think that you're correct. For reasons that I've already stated.
I believe if you were to ask ALL theists why they believe in God, there will be a variety of reasons and there will be a few main reasons contributing to say 80% and the rest 20%.
How do you differentiate between main and non-main reasons, what's the criteria, how deeply they're embedded in the human psyche? How could you know which is more deeply embedded?
First I have spent years researching on this aspect, so I am not pulling these views from the air. But I agree such a statement is useless without the evidences to support it.

I believe one obvious source of evidence is from the main holy texts of the respective religions.
I am a near-expert on Buddhism and I can declare the central theme of Buddhism is to deal with the existential crisis but relying on a non-theistic approach, i.e. dealing and targeting the psychological elements.

I have done actual research in analyzing all the verses in the Quran and the main theme for Muslims to believe in God is relate to the existential angst.
I have not done detailed research into the Bible and Torah but from the much reading of these holy texts, the indication of it for the believers is the existential angst. Note the central theme of gaining eternal life in paradise and avoiding Hell.

There are other reasons like social, political, economics, cultural and others, but these are merely secondary.

How deeply embedded?
I understand the deep embeddedness of the existential crisis from Buddhism and other Eastern Religions and the depth they have to dig. From this I transposed such knowledge to the Abrahamic and other religions because they all deal with the same core issues psychologically.
For every reasons given by theists why they believe in a God, if we dig deep into the psyche, we will get to the ultimate cause, i.e. the existential crisis. It is not what I think is the ultimate and proximate causes, obviously the reason must be justified thoroughly [ I have details but too complex to get into here].
Why do we need to dig deep into the psyche? If someone states their main or most important reason for believing in God, why not accept that as the answer? You are attempting to prove your hypothesis, but by ignoring the claim in favour of what you think the most important reason is, I think that you're in the remit of confirmation bias. What's the point of asking if you think you already know?
From my knowledge of Buddhism [& other Eastern philosophy] and believers I understand the depth and the need to dig deep into the psyche from the psychological and other knowledge.
I believe it is empirically possible [not impossible] for a pink unicorn to exist on Earth yet to be discovered or somewhere in the Universe albeit the probability is very slim.
Based upon what evidence or hypothesis?
The theory is whatever has empirical elements then it is empirically possible.
The elements, pink, horn, animals are all empirical, thus it is empirical possible for an animal with one pointed horn to exists, albeit slim as human has covered most locations.
Just bring the empirical evidence for testing and verification.
I have demonstrated why God is only possible as a thought supported by brain activities but God is an impossibility within an empirical-rational reality.
In my view, you only think you have.
I have provided the argument [logic-based] why God is an impossibility [in a thread]. Prove my argument wrong.
I have given various evidence [in various post and thread] how the idea of God is linked to empirical activities within the human brain.
The only reason why theists believe in God is purely psychological based on the ultimate, proximate and other psychological causes I mentioned above.


You're insisting. Your reasoning is based upon the “proof” of your own hypothesis.
As above I have provided reasonable empirical evidence which is much credible than no evidence at all from theists.
You tell me, other than an empirical-rational reality and the mental world, what other mode of reality can we justify the existence of anything?


I don't think that we can justify the existence of another mode of reality, but that hasn't stopped people from believing in the possibility rightly or wrongly. I don't think that we can justify (qua knowledge) belief in non-empirical realities, but this does not mean that they cannot exist.
Where is that 'another mode of reality' ??
Note Wittgenstein's
"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." (Tractatus 7)
If you cannot even hypothesis and justify a mode of reality other than the one stated, it better to remain silent - a non starter.

Without empirical-rational basis, the other possibility is only the mental mode?
What else?
As I had argued, the idea of God [Kantian argument] is similar to thinking of a square-circle which is an obvious impossibility.
If there is any "more" reality to experiences of God, it must be possible to be verified with an empirical-rational reality.


You can't verify something non-empirical with empirical methods of verification. Its an issue of belief.
If it is merely belief, then one has to understand its limitation to be real. Until the belief [even empirical] is justified, it cannot be claimed to be real or knowledge.
In any case, the belief in an idea of God is nothing near anything empirical, thus it is an impossibility as proven.
Can you list down 5 main reasons and assign your respective weightings [verifiable to the holy texts] to them?
I think that people may have main or most important reasons why they believe in God, but psychologically (or subconsciously), I don't think that there are main and non-main reasons for religious belief. I find that claiming an ultimate cause is far reaching, as people believe for many different reasons. Trying to isolate and categorise them seems arbitrary. How many things can we claim that existential crisis is the ultimate cause of?
As pointed out above, we can gather the main reasons from the supposedly holy texts of the all-powerful and all-knowing God, who else is better. Since these are from the holy texts, they are more likely to be the main reasons rather than the ones believed by the believer based on their feels, whims and guesses.

On the topic of God which is very sophisticated and full of psychological elements we cannot trust theists [proper] to give an accurate answer as to the main reasons why they believe in a God.
Some may be theists who marry their theist girlfriend and there are other superficial reasons, but they are not the main reason.
The main reasons of why theism are salvation and soteriological reasons [as supported from the holy texts] which are driven by deep psychological impulses.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Dark Matter
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Dark Matter » January 15th, 2018, 1:58 am

You're still preaching, Spectrum, still disregarding forum rules. There's no difference between what you're doing and what one would expect from a creationist.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Eduk » January 15th, 2018, 3:41 am

I agree dark matter.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Belindi » January 15th, 2018, 5:44 am

Spectrum wrote:
I have not done detailed research into the Bible and Torah but from the much reading of these holy texts, the indication of it for the believers is the existential angst. Note the central theme of gaining eternal life in paradise and avoiding Hell.
That's one theme but it's not central to any of the Biblical books. Existential angst is not vis a vis terminal oblivion or terminal punishments and rewards, but is anxiety based upon our being forced to make choices from our inadequate predictive and moral powers.

True, fear of death and ceasing to be is almost universal. However the alternative to death is even worse if you care to think about it.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Eduk » January 15th, 2018, 6:16 am

What common themes are shared (and unique to religion) across all/most religions?
1. Life after death, in one way or another.
2. That we are flawed (somehow) and must overcome our flaws (normally by doing whatever the religious leaders want).
3. We are punished for not believing in the religion.
4. We can believe in the religion at any point before death (but not after then it is too late).
5. There is a purpose.
6. Knowledge is hidden to non believers and accessible only to believers (so long as the believers believe whatever those in authority tell them to)
7. We are protected, so long as we believe.

I'm probably missing lots of obvious themes...

I would say there are other themes which aren't unique to religion, such as community and the like and, for me, these themes are as significant (if not more so) then the unique religious themes.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Fanman » January 15th, 2018, 7:55 am

Spectrum:
First I have spent years researching on this aspect, so I am not pulling these views from the air. But I agree such a statement is useless without the evidences to support it.
I understand that you've put a lot of work into this. As I've said, I agree that existential angst is one of the causes of religious belief, but I don't agree that there's an ultimate cause of religious belief.
I believe one obvious source of evidence is from the main holy texts of the respective religions.
I am a near-expert on Buddhism and I can declare the central theme of Buddhism is to deal with the existential crisis but relying on a non-theistic approach, i.e. dealing and targeting the psychological elements.
Is it correct to apply Buddhist philosophy holistically? By taking the tenets of Buddhism and applying them to everyone, aren't you looking at people's beliefs and reasons for belief through the lens of Buddhism, rather than being objective?
I have done actual research in analyzing all the verses in the Quran and the main theme for Muslims to believe in God is relate to the existential angst.


I think that in part it does, but you're indication of a main theme is interpretive, not factual.
I have not done detailed research into the Bible and Torah but from the much reading of these holy texts, the indication of it for the believers is the existential angst. Note the central theme of gaining eternal life in paradise and avoiding Hell.


Religious texts have many themes, gaining eternal life is one of them, but whether or not that is the “main theme” is debatable.
There are other reasons like social, political, economics, cultural and others, but these are merely secondary.
Again, how do you define secondary?
I understand the deep embeddedness of the existential crisis from Buddhism and other Eastern Religions and the depth they have to dig. From this I transposed such knowledge to the Abrahamic and other religions because they all deal with the same core issues psychologically.
I think that most people understand existential crisis and how it affects the psyche (because we all experience it). Your understanding of Buddhism may provide you with more insight, but transferring the teachings of one religion to another may not be the best method of acquiring knowledge. Whilst different religions may share some of the same themes, their approaches to life and death are very different. People may share the same psychological issues, but individually we're very different. So different that people have many different reasons for belief. To isolate an ultimate reason seems at best an educated guess, far from a certainty.
From my knowledge of Buddhism [& other Eastern philosophy] and believers I understand the depth and the need to dig deep into the psyche from the psychological and other knowledge.
Then explain why.
The theory is whatever has empirical elements then it is empirically possible.
The elements, pink, horn, animals are all empirical, thus it is empirical possible for an animal with one pointed horn to exists, albeit slim as human has covered most locations.
Just bring the empirical evidence for testing and verification.


You're joking right?
I have provided the argument [logic-based] why God is an impossibility [in a thread]. Prove my argument wrong.
I don't think that logical arguments prove that God doesn't exist. I believe they provide (logical) reasons why God's existence is unlikely, but not impossible.
I have given various evidence [in various post and thread] how the idea of God is linked to empirical activities within the human brain.
Maybe God (or something God-like) is entirely imagined, maybe not. I don't think that we can currently know for certain.
Where is that 'another mode of reality' ??
Note Wittgenstein's
"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." (Tractatus 7)
If you cannot even hypothesis and justify a mode of reality other than the one stated, it better to remain silent - a non starter.


This is arbitrary. My inability to articulate something does not preclude it's existence. The fact that I don't know for sure doesn't mean that I cannot speculate.
As I had argued, the idea of God [Kantian argument] is similar to thinking of a square-circle which is an obvious impossibility.
That is your view, not a matter of fact.
If it is merely belief, then one has to understand its limitation to be real. Until the belief [even empirical] is justified, it cannot be claimed to be real or knowledge.
Justified by what?
In any case, the belief in an idea of God is nothing near anything empirical, thus it is an impossibility as proven.
As proven?
On the topic of God which is very sophisticated and full of psychological elements we cannot trust theists [proper] to give an accurate answer as to the main reasons why they believe in a God.


But we can trust in your hypothesis?
The main reasons of why theism are salvation and soteriological reasons [as supported from the holy texts] which are driven by deep psychological impulses.
QED :) ?
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Spectrum » January 15th, 2018, 9:09 pm

Belindi wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 5:44 am
Spectrum wrote:
I have not done detailed research into the Bible and Torah but from the much reading of these holy texts, the indication of it for the believers is the existential angst. Note the central theme of gaining eternal life in paradise and avoiding Hell.
That's one theme but it's not central to any of the Biblical books. Existential angst is not vis a vis terminal oblivion or terminal punishments and rewards, but is anxiety based upon our being forced to make choices from our inadequate predictive and moral powers.
What are the other central theme?
If you come up with any, reflect and you will note it is reducible to the existential angst.
True, fear of death and ceasing to be is almost universal. However the alternative to death is even worse if you care to think about it.
That is the point, it is the 'fear' of the alternative [unnecessary] that is more of the existential crisis, dilemma and angst. The significant of this impulse is 90% subconscious.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Spectrum » January 15th, 2018, 9:23 pm

Eduk wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 6:16 am
What common themes are shared (and unique to religion) across all/most religions?
1. Life after death, in one way or another.
2. That we are flawed (somehow) and must overcome our flaws (normally by doing whatever the religious leaders want).
3. We are punished for not believing in the religion.
4. We can believe in the religion at any point before death (but not after then it is too late).
5. There is a purpose.
6. Knowledge is hidden to non believers and accessible only to believers (so long as the believers believe whatever those in authority tell them to)
7. We are protected, so long as we believe.

I'm probably missing lots of obvious themes...

I would say there are other themes which aren't unique to religion, such as community and the like and, for me, these themes are as significant (if not more so) then the unique religious themes.
To be more effective you need to put weightage on the above.

I would put the existential factor - life after death at 90% while the rest are 10%.
The existential dilemma, crisis, and angst is not merely a fear of death, life after death, but as I has postulated it is a turbulence of existential psychological forces deep with the psychic that is analogically like a 'zombie parasite' that infected ants, etc. that control their behaviors.

Note your list,
  • 2. Why bother about flaws if not to please God to gain his favor for eternal life.
    3. Why bother about punishment if not to please God to gain his favor for eternal life, avoid Hell.
    4. For what is not to please God to gain his favor for eternal life, avoid Hell.
    5. - to please God to gain his favor for eternal life, avoid Hell
    6. What knowledge other than that to please God to gain his favor for eternal life, avoid Hell
    7. We are protected from what? current threats and future threats of going to Hell.
Most the reasons will be reducible to the existential dilemma, crisis, and angst, except those who fake theism for convenience, re politics, to marry their girl/boyfriend, peer pressured and other non-theistic reasons.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Greta » January 15th, 2018, 9:41 pm

Spectrum wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 9:23 pm
The existential dilemma, crisis, and angst is not merely a fear of death, life after death, but as I has postulated it is a turbulence of existential psychological forces deep with the psychic that is analogically like a 'zombie parasite' that infected ants, etc. that control their behaviors.
Yet how many of those insects infected by zombie-making parasites go on to lead happy, healthy and generally successful lives as do many believers?

That is as loose an analogy as the emotionally-driven notion that humans are parasites or cancers of the Earth (as opposed to simply a functional process of the biosphere).

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