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

Post by Dark Matter » January 22nd, 2018, 2:23 pm

Spectrum"
The most credible explanation of how the idea of God arise within human consciousness is the psychological reason related to the existential crisis.
Opinion based on philosophical speculation.

I
have provided some evidences to support this point.
Nothing empirical, therefore nothing relevant in your own estimation.
Some Eastern religion has recognized this same psychological basis and dealt with the same issue psychologically.
Ways of dealing with life's woes is one thing; acknowledging the underpinning reality of the Whole is quite another.
If you are to insist 'God' plays a part in triggering the bliss circuit, you will need to prove God exists in the empirical mode.
Why do insist on commenting on things that were never said or implied?

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

Post by Judaka » January 22nd, 2018, 7:17 pm

That's the point.
Okay, that's a fair point then.

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

Post by Spectrum » January 22nd, 2018, 10:12 pm

Fanman wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 11:52 am
Spectrum:
I am surprised you are not aware of this principle. It is a basic principle of Science that empirical evidence and proof is necessary for Scientific Knowledge.

I don't think that what you stated “The principle is whatever has inherent empirical elements is empirically possible.”

Translates to “In science, empirical evidence is required for a hypothesis to gain acceptance in the scientific community.”

The former is a statement of your belief/justification for believing that unicorns and tea pots that orbit in space possibly exist. The latter statement (from your excerpt) is a description of the scientific method. There is no correlation between the two statements (IMO).
The principle itself is self-explanatory in a logical sense, i.e.
  • 'Whatever has inherent empirical elements is empirically possible'
    'Whatever do not have inherent empirical elements is empirically impossible'
I was trying to search for a reference to justify the above within Science which is basically empirical supported logic, mathematics and empirical evidence.

In the above example I gave,
Empirical evidence is required for the hypothesis, the starting point of Science as an empirical possibility and it must followed through empirically to its scientific conclusion.
Applying the principle, if the hypothesis is not empirically based, then it is an empirical impossibility.
If you think otherwise, show me how can a hypothesis that is based on the non-empirical [in this case the supernatural'] follow through to an empirical conclusion?


Never? Your personal subjective claim is not credible at all.
That's interesting. BTW, I wasn't making a claim that all theists believe that God is not empirical. What I stated was my experience of theists. Why do you think my experience is not credible? Isn't it within the context of our discussion?
I thought this is very obvious. ALL personal assertions are at worst opinions or at best, beliefs [not knowledge] with various degrees personal confidence levels.
Your personal assertions will only have credibility if they are supported by sufficient justifications to be justified true beliefs.
In this case you have not given any sufficient justifications of any reasonable confidence level for me to accept.
If you define a perfect God is "that than which nothing greater can be exist/thought" I have no issue with that.
However in the absence of any qualification, I will use the term for God as 'an absolutely perfect God' to avoid any question of relative perfection which exists in the empirical world.

If that is the case, why are you making a distinction between a perfect God and an “absolutely perfect" God? If it is acceptable that a definition of a perfect God is “ "that than which nothing greater can be thought", why are you reasoning as though there is an epistemic difference?
Note there are no immutable God's Laws dictating rules on the creation of definitions and meanings. There are many others who use the term 'absolute perfection' in relation to God and I have explained my basis for the term.

Reason?? I have already given the reason above, i.e.
"to avoid any question of relative perfection which exists in the empirical world."

As I had stated the term 'perfect' is too loose and for God exclusively we need to specify the specific nature of 'perfection' attributable to God.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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

Post by Spectrum » January 22nd, 2018, 10:27 pm

Dark Matter wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 2:23 pm
Spectrum"
The most credible explanation of how the idea of God arise within human consciousness is the psychological reason related to the existential crisis.
Opinion based on philosophical speculation.
I have provided some evidences to support this point.
Nothing empirical, therefore nothing relevant in your own estimation.
I have provided a reasonable amount of evidences of probabilities, e.g.
and many other links and references.
Some Eastern religion has recognized this same psychological basis and dealt with the same issue psychologically.
Ways of dealing with life's woes is one thing; acknowledging the underpinning reality of the Whole is quite another.
Point is you are [perhaps totally] ignorant of the Philosophies of the relevant Eastern religions to be able to say anything credible on this matter.

There are loads of very deep and wide philosophical arguments form non-theistic religions on why the belief in the idea of God is illusory and psychologically very limited.
These non-theistic religions then argued with philosophical justifications how their own non-theistic philosophies are more credible and practical in resolving the generic fundamental issues and better still without the malignant evils elements inherent in SOME theistic beliefs.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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

Post by Spectrum » January 22nd, 2018, 10:36 pm

Addition to the above;

Here is one view from non-theistic Buddhism on the idea of God.
This is quite a rough view from some Theravadian Buddhists.
There are more sophisticated philosophical views from the Mahayana and Vajrayana.
Do Buddhists believe in a god?

Answer:
No, we do not. There are several reasons for this. The Buddha, like modern sociologists and psychologists, believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origins in fear. The Buddha says:
  • Gripped by fear people go to sacred mountains, sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines.
    Dp. 188
Primitive humans found selves in a dangerous and hostile world, the fear of wild animals, of not being able to find enough food, of injury or disease, and of natural phenomena like thunder, lightning and volcanoes were constantly with them.

Finding no security, they created the idea of gods in order to give them comfort in good times, courage in times of danger and consolation when things went wrong.

To this day, you will notice that people become more religious at times of crises, you will hear them say that the belief in a god or gods gives them the strength they need to deal with life. You will hear them explain that they believe in a particular god because they prayed in time of need and their prayer was answered.

All this seems to support the Buddha's teaching that the god-idea is a response to fear and frustration.
The Buddha taught us to try to understand our fears, to lessen our desires and to calmly and courageously accept the things we cannot change. He replaced fear, not with irrational belief but with rational understanding.

https://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda03.htm
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 23rd, 2018, 12:02 am

Spectrum wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:27 pm
Dark Matter wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 2:23 pm
Spectrum"
Opinion based on philosophical speculation.

Nothing empirical, therefore nothing relevant in your own estimation.
I have provided a reasonable amount of evidences...
No, you haven't. Everything you've provided is biased interpretation.
Point is you are [perhaps totally] ignorant of the Philosophies of the relevant Eastern religions to be able to say anything credible on this matter.
If you say so. :roll: But Buddhism isn't what you think.
There are loads of very deep and wide philosophical arguments form non-theistic religions on why the belief in the idea of God is illusory and psychologically very limited.


BS

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

Post by Spectrum » January 23rd, 2018, 1:14 am

Dark Matter wrote:
January 23rd, 2018, 12:02 am
Spectrum wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:27 pm
I have provided a reasonable amount of evidences...
No, you haven't. Everything you've provided is biased interpretation.
As usual, you are always making statements without any explanations and support. Such a practice is bad philosophy.

There many people who claim they have experiences of God and they can be classified into two main categories;
  • 1. Theists
    Based on such personal experiences many claim their experiences are proofs for the existence of a God. But these theists cannot provide any objective proofs to justify their God exist empirically or otherwise.

    2. Effects of neural and Psychological activities
    There are loads of research done to proof that many of the experiences of god are due to mental illnesses, brain damage, drugs, hallucinogen, meditations, electronic wave stimulations, etc.
    When the patients with mental illness or brain damage are cured with the right medical treatments, their experiences of God disappear.
    It is the same with drugs and hallucinogens, when drug takers stop taking drugs they do not have those experience of God.
    With so much evidences, the correlation between God experiences and the reasons listed above is very close.
Where theists claim God exists merely based on their personal experiences, there are no empirical proofs at all to justify God actually exists as real. It is basically due to psychological desperation they have to blurt out something to deflect their perceived threat.

On the other hand, the counter-argument of God experiences from the various listed reasons are empirically proven, i.e.

X are the reasons I have listed above in 2.
  • if X, then experiences of God
    if no X, then no experiences of God,
    therefore experiences of God arise from X
I am not claiming the above is conclusive but at least there are some justifications. Humanity will be able to produce more convincing proofs of the psychological basis when the advance knowledge of the mapping of the brain has reached a certain critical milestone.
Note: http://www.humanconnectomeproject.org/
Point is you are [perhaps totally] ignorant of the Philosophies of the relevant Eastern religions to be able to say anything credible on this matter.
If you say so. :roll: But Buddhism isn't what you think.
There are loads of very deep and wide philosophical arguments form non-theistic religions on why the belief in the idea of God is illusory and psychologically very limited.

BS
Give me your arguments or references to support your point.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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

Post by Fanman » January 23rd, 2018, 11:39 am

Spectrum:
The principle itself is self-explanatory in a logical sense, i.e.
'Whatever has inherent empirical elements is empirically possible'
'Whatever do not have inherent empirical elements is empirically impossible'
I was trying to search for a reference to justify the above within Science which is basically empirical supported logic, mathematics and empirical evidence.
As I stated, I don't think that what you've stated is a principle, rather a statement of your belief. Perhaps you can't find a reference for your claim/belief, because it isn't something that science specifically claims.
I thought this is very obvious. ALL personal assertions are at worst opinions or at best, beliefs [not knowledge] with various degrees personal confidence levels.
Your personal assertions will only have credibility if they are supported by sufficient justifications to be justified true beliefs.
In this case you have not given any sufficient justifications of any reasonable confidence level for me to accept.
I didn't make any assertions. I said that I haven't experienced a theist who claims that God is empirical. Where do you perceive an assertion?
Reason?? I have already given the reason above, i.e. 
"to avoid any question of relative perfection which exists in the empirical world."
That doesn't make any sense. The distinction you're making is not necessary. If you say “God is perfect” or that “God is absolutely perfect” it means the same thing. By saying “absolutely perfect”, you're only adding emphasis not meaning.
As I had stated the term 'perfect' is too loose and for God exclusively we need to specify the specific nature of 'perfection' attributable to God.
No, we don't. The term “perfect” is sufficient to describe perfection. That you think otherwise is relative to your understanding.
Once a theist, now agnostic.

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

Post by Dark Matter » January 23rd, 2018, 3:49 pm

The notion of "experience" introduces the false notion of duality between "experiencer" and "experienced," whereas the essence of "religious experience" is the realization of the “non-duality” of observer and observed. “Pure experience” does not exist; all experience is mediated by intellectual and cognitive activity. If the filtering and processing of sensory input are interfered with by injury, drugs or artificial means, the natural barriers between “self” and the totality of Reality would break down and manifest as an overwhelming chaos of sensory input without coherence.

The specific teachings and practices of a specific tradition may determine what “religious experience” someone has, which means that this "experience" is not the proof of the teaching, but a result of the teaching. Western and Eastern religious traditions each have their advantages and disadvantages.

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

Post by Dark Matter » January 23rd, 2018, 8:10 pm

Spectrum wrote:
January 23rd, 2018, 1:14 am
Dark Matter wrote:
January 23rd, 2018, 12:02 am

No, you haven't. Everything you've provided is biased interpretation.
As usual, you are always making statements without any explanations and support. Such a practice is bad philosophy.

There many people who claim they have experiences of God and they can be classified into two main categories;
  • 1. Theists
    Based on such personal experiences many claim their experiences are proofs for the existence of a God. But these theists cannot provide any objective proofs to justify their God exist empirically or otherwise.

    2. Effects of neural and Psychological activities
    There are loads of research done to proof that many of the experiences of god are due to mental illnesses, brain damage, drugs, hallucinogen, meditations, electronic wave stimulations, etc.
    When the patients with mental illness or brain damage are cured with the right medical treatments, their experiences of God disappear.
    It is the same with drugs and hallucinogens, when drug takers stop taking drugs they do not have those experience of God.
    With so much evidences, the correlation between God experiences and the reasons listed above is very close.
Where theists claim God exists merely based on their personal experiences, there are no empirical proofs at all to justify God actually exists as real. It is basically due to psychological desperation they have to blurt out something to deflect their perceived threat.

On the other hand, the counter-argument of God experiences from the various listed reasons are empirically proven, i.e.

X are the reasons I have listed above in 2.
  • if X, then experiences of God
    if no X, then no experiences of God,
    therefore experiences of God arise from X
I am not claiming the above is conclusive but at least there are some justifications. Humanity will be able to produce more convincing proofs of the psychological basis when the advance knowledge of the mapping of the brain has reached a certain critical milestone.
Note: http://www.humanconnectomeproject.org/
You did it again: more biased interpretation without considering the other arguments. That's called "preaching."
If you say so. :roll: But Buddhism isn't what you think.
Given your "expertise" in Buddhism, you should have recognized the double meaning of "Buddhism is Not What You Think"

(For those who might be interested, the link takes you to a PDF book written by Steve Hagan, founder and head teacher of the Dharma Field Zen Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
BS
Give me your arguments or references to support your point.
I don't have to. You made the claim.

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

Post by Spectrum » January 23rd, 2018, 11:06 pm

Dark Matter wrote:
January 23rd, 2018, 8:10 pm

If you say so. :roll: But Buddhism isn't what you think.

Given your "expertise" in Buddhism, you should have recognized the double meaning of "Buddhism is Not What You Think"

(For those who might be interested, the link takes you to a PDF book written by Steve Hagan, founder and head teacher of the Dharma Field Zen Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
The book you linked is applicable more likely to you, i.e. Buddhism is not what you think it is.
Note from page xii of the book you linked;

  • The Buddha was not interested in theology or cosmology.
    He didn’t speak on these subjects and in fact would not answer
    questions on them. His primary concerns were psychological,
    moral, and highly practical ones:
    • How can we see the world as it comes to be in each
    moment rather than as what we think, hope, or fear
    it is?
    • How can we base our actions on Reality rather than
    on the longing and loathing of our hearts and minds?
    • How can we live lives that are wise, compassionate,
    and in tune with Reality?
    • What is the experience of being awake?



What is the main difference re the above with what I linked earlier, i.e.

  • Do Buddhist believe in god?

    No, we do not. There are several reasons for this. The Buddha, like modern sociologists and psychologists, believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origin in fear. The Buddha says:
    "Gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains,
    sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines".

    Dp 188
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 24th, 2018, 1:25 am

Let's say religious ideas have their origin solely in fear (an opinion not shared by all psychologists, by the way). So what? The Buddha himself refused to comment on the subject of God.

Here’s a version of the Buddha's parable of the poisoned arrow famous Zen monk from Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh (author of Living Buddha, Living Christ):
The Buddha always told his disciples not to waste their time and energy in metaphysical speculation. Whenever he was asked a metaphysical question, he remained silent. Instead, he directed his disciples toward practical efforts. Questioned one day about the problem of the infinity of the world, the Buddha said, “Whether the world is finite or infinite, limited or unlimited, the problem of your liberation remains the same.” Another time he said, “Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first.” Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.
How many times have I said that religion is not about beliefs? I don't know, but I do know that you are too busy preaching your own dogma, promulgating hate, fear, and suspicion of theism, to have noticed. How many times have I said that even in theistic traditions, God is above being and non-being? I don't know that, either, but I do know that you focus exclusively on what some theologians call "theistic personalism" notwithstanding the fact it's little more than a blip on the historical radar screen. How many times have I quoted The Cloud of Unknowing, a Christian classic: "By love he may be gotten and holden, by thought never"? Again, I don't know. But I do know you're bigoted comments are counter-productive.

Your preaching is all the more sad because in spite of your "expertise," have no idea what "Buddhism is not what you think" means.

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

Post by Belindi » January 24th, 2018, 4:27 am

Dark Matter, your opposition to Spectrum on Buddhism is helpful particularly as it demonstrates that some religions are religions of belief not praxis, and vice versa.
Contrary to what you claimed, I think that Christianity is in fact largely a religion of belief that's to say you can be saved only if you believe.However I bet there are Christians including priests who are much more inclined towards the sort of praxis that you quote Buddha as advocating.Christianity is in need of clearing from its basis in belief. There is a middle ground where Spectrum and you can meet.

I agree that personal gods including God are gods that rule through fear and that they are mediated through priests.
Reason, which Spectrum seems to advocate, should be applied to the praxis that Buddha recommends. I imagine that Buddhists don't want to idolise Buddha.

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

Post by Spectrum » January 24th, 2018, 5:33 am

Belindi wrote:
January 24th, 2018, 4:27 am
Dark Matter, your opposition to Spectrum on Buddhism is helpful particularly as it demonstrates that some religions are religions of belief not praxis, and vice versa.
Contrary to what you claimed, I think that Christianity is in fact largely a religion of belief that's to say you can be saved only if you believe.However I bet there are Christians including priests who are much more inclined towards the sort of praxis that you quote Buddha as advocating.Christianity is in need of clearing from its basis in belief. There is a middle ground where Spectrum and you can meet.

I agree that personal gods including God are gods that rule through fear and that they are mediated through priests.
Reason, which Spectrum seems to advocate, should be applied to the praxis that Buddha recommends. I imagine that Buddhists don't want to idolise Buddha.
I am not too sure of your points above re DM.

DM: The Buddha himself refused to comment on the subject of God.
The above do not imply the Buddha did not reject the existence of God as real.

I understand there are various discussions re the word 'God' within various sects of Buddhism. But the whole philosophy taken into context do not fit in with the existence of a real God at all.
Note this;
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... didea.html
From a study of the discourses of the Buddha preserved in the Pali canon, it will be seen that the idea of a personal deity, a creator god conceived to be eternal and omnipotent, is incompatible with the Buddha's teachings. On the other hand, conceptions of an impersonal godhead of any description, such as world-soul, etc., are excluded by the Buddha's teachings on Anatta, non-self or unsubstantiality.
DM: How many times have I said that religion is not about beliefs?
To generalize this is course nonsense. The Abrahamic religions which are nearly 4+ billion out of 6+ billion theists are based on belief in accordance to their holy texts, i.e. the Torah, Bible and Quran. Most of these theist are also practicing their religion seriously, i.e. pray to God, attend church, mosques, etc.

Philosophically there is no middle ground for a theist and non-theist to meet.
However where we can meet is - note my signature below - I believe with empathy religion is a critical necessity for the majority at present [not future].
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 Belindi » January 24th, 2018, 8:51 am

Spectrum wrote:
Philosophically there is no middle ground for a theist and non-theist to meet.
However where we can meet is - note my signature below - I believe with empathy religion is a critical necessity for the majority at present [not future].
Philosophically, I suppose not.

Sociologically , yes, can meet.

What the meeting would take is for the belief-based religion to become less and more praxis, based. And for the praxis-based religion to become more intellectual along with the praxis.

I did at one time agree with you, Spectrum, that religion is necessary at the present time. I don't think so any more . If all religions stopped immediately the world would immediately be safer and kinder. There is no way that religious institutions can be free from authority, genuine cooperatives. The Society of Friends is probably the closest you can get to authority-free.

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