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

Post by Belindi » January 17th, 2019, 8:26 am

I think that the original question should be reviewed.

The word 'believe' changes its meaning according to the context or frame.
The original question has 'Believe' and 'Prove ' in the same sentence so it looks as if the origianal poster presumes that God is the sort of thing that if it can't be proved to exist , might not exist.

'Existence' is another vague word which is given meaning by its context.

If the question were to be 'Why Trust in God when it's impossible to prove?' ' there are several sufficient reasons for trusting in God.

I myself prefer the question 'Why have faith in God when it's impossible to prove?'

Trust in God is too unquestioningly docile. I imagine that even God does not want unquestioning docility. Faith is what keeps a person going even when his life is in tatters and he is sure of no moral certainties, but keeps on seeking the Good whatever that may be.

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

Post by Eduk » January 17th, 2019, 9:26 am

it looks as if the origianal poster presumes that God is the sort of thing that if it can't be proved to exist , might not exist.
I'm possibly misunderstanding your meaning here. If we take something which can't be proven to exist how do we then show that it absolutely does or doesn't? Saying something might not exist if it can't be proven to exist seems like a minimal amount of presumption to me.
I guess you could argue that the OP is presuming logical laws such as non-contradiction and A equalling A, stuff like that. But it's not clear they are presuming this.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Fanman » January 17th, 2019, 2:03 pm

Steve3007,
On the subject of absolute morality versus relativist morality, my own view is that there is essentially no difference between the two. A moral absolutist tells you some actions that he/she believes to be morally right or wrong. So does a moral relativist. They're both giving you their opinion. In both cases nobody else's opinion is there's to give.
I think that's correct. A moral relativist may have, say, a code of conduct, so does a moral absolutist. Both believe in a way of living and both have principles that they adhere to. A moral absolutist may adhere to Jesus' famous “do unto others, as you would do unto yourself” maxim, whereas a moral relativist, not being religious, may adhere to the “golden rule” maxim, which is effectively the same thing. DM sees a strong distinction between the two, and epistemologically there may be, but effectively there isn't as they're both adhering to standards of morality, albeit not from the same perspectives.
Nevertheless, Dark Matter's assertion is a commonly made one by moral absolutists. It is the assertion that people choose to be moral relativists because it frees them from the notion that they cannot simply do as they choose; that they cannot simply follow their own personal preferences. In other words, it is the assertion that moral relativism is about selfishness. Conversely, a moral relativist might level a similar accusation of selfishness against an absolutist by suggesting that they are setting themselves up as the arbiter of morality by claiming personal access to objective moral truths.
I agree. I think that moral absolutists will think negatively of anyone who doesn't conform to their understanding of principles; hence DM's comment in reply to me “I cannot imagine a better example of moral cowardice.” I haven't thought about it enough to feel sure, but I think that a moral relativist would be more accepting of another person's principles, even if they personally reject them, because they don't view things in absolute terms. I think that the problem with any form of absolutism, is that anyone who disagrees becomes the enemy, which (if he will excuse me) leads to a siege, mentality like DM seems to display.

---

Eduk,
I guess you could argue that the OP is presuming logical laws such as non-contradiction and A equalling A, stuff like that. But it's not clear they are presuming this.
I don't mean this as a personal criticism of Spectrum, but I find that he presumes things more than anyone I've encountered. You can be sure he's presuming something, even if it's not entirely clear what he is presuming.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by LuckyR » January 18th, 2019, 3:38 am

Belindi wrote:
January 17th, 2019, 8:26 am
I think that the original question should be reviewed.

The word 'believe' changes its meaning according to the context or frame.
The original question has 'Believe' and 'Prove ' in the same sentence so it looks as if the origianal poster presumes that God is the sort of thing that if it can't be proved to exist , might not exist.

'Existence' is another vague word which is given meaning by its context.

If the question were to be 'Why Trust in God when it's impossible to prove?' ' there are several sufficient reasons for trusting in God.

I myself prefer the question 'Why have faith in God when it's impossible to prove?'

Trust in God is too unquestioningly docile. I imagine that even God does not want unquestioning docility. Faith is what keeps a person going even when his life is in tatters and he is sure of no moral certainties, but keeps on seeking the Good whatever that may be.
Very logical and insightful post. Though your red question does not follow, because the purpose of faith is specifically to address the unprovable. That is, if something is provable then you don't need faith, you can just accept the proof.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Dark Matter » January 18th, 2019, 4:01 am

On the subject of absolute morality versus relativist morality, my own view is that there is essentially no difference between the two.
That's just plain silly. I'd expect something like that from Spectrum, but not Steve. The moral absolutist has feet planted firmly planted on thin air; his or her opinions are arbitrary by definition. The moral absolutist envisions an Absolute against which his opinions are measured though, it does not imply certainty. The claims of a moral absolutist who denies an Absolute is irrational and arbitrary.

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

Post by Eduk » January 18th, 2019, 4:27 am

@Fanman is there a difference epistemologically between do unto others as you would have them do unto you and the golden rule?
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Dark Matter » January 18th, 2019, 4:48 am

Dark Matter wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 4:01 am
On the subject of absolute morality versus relativist morality, my own view is that there is essentially no difference between the two.
That's just plain silly. I'd expect something like that from Spectrum, but not Steve. The moral absolutist has feet planted firmly planted on thin air; his or her opinions are arbitrary by definition. The moral absolutist envisions an Absolute against which his opinions are measured, though it does not imply certainty. The claims of a moral absolutist who denies an Absolute is irrational and arbitrary.
Truth, goodness and beauty are meaningless concepts without their respective Absolutes. This realization, by itself, answers the question: it gives us something to aim for instead of engaging in pointless debates and hysterically waving our arms in the hope that we can get everyone to agree.

This brings us back to the question of relativism: are all ideas created equally? Are all beliefs equivalent? I think Steve's statement answers those questions regarding his own worldview.

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

Post by Dark Matter » January 18th, 2019, 5:01 am

Correction in red
Dark Matter wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 4:48 am
Dark Matter wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 4:01 am


That's just plain silly. I'd expect something like that from Spectrum, but not Steve. The moral relativist has feet planted firmly planted on thin air; his or her opinions are arbitrary by definition. The moral absolutist envisions an Absolute against which his opinions are measured, though it does not imply certainty. The claims of a moral absolutist who denies an Absolute is irrational and arbitrary.
Truth, goodness and beauty are meaningless concepts without their respective Absolutes. This realization, by itself, answers the question: it gives us something to aim for instead of engaging in pointless debates and hysterically waving our arms in the hope that we can get everyone to agree.

This brings us back to the question of relativism: are all ideas created equally? Are all beliefs equivalent? I think Steve's statement answers those questions regarding his own worldview.

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

Post by Eduk » January 18th, 2019, 5:24 am

Also up is down.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Greta » January 18th, 2019, 7:16 am

Dark Matter wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 4:48 am
Dark Matter wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 4:01 am


That's just plain silly. I'd expect something like that from Spectrum, but not Steve. The moral absolutist has feet planted firmly planted on thin air; his or her opinions are arbitrary by definition. The moral absolutist envisions an Absolute against which his opinions are measured, though it does not imply certainty. The claims of a moral absolutist who denies an Absolute is irrational and arbitrary.
Truth, goodness and beauty are meaningless concepts without their respective Absolutes. This realization, by itself, answers the question: it gives us something to aim for instead of engaging in pointless debates and hysterically waving our arms in the hope that we can get everyone to agree.

This brings us back to the question of relativism: are all ideas created equally? Are all beliefs equivalent? I think Steve's statement answers those questions regarding his own worldview.
This appears to be a solipsist view, as if positing, "What is true, good and beautiful to me is true, good and beautiful per se".

A cow may have a different view of the beautiful veal you eat, and whether it is good when her heifer is taken away for slaughter. The absolutist idea of "Thou shalt not kill" is, of course, completely relative. Thou shalt not kill humans - do what you like with everything else, apparently. I am yet to see absolutists advocate on behalf of the voiceless in this world, whom they objectify as surely and cruelly as they themselves were objectified in their early days of victimisation.

Yet showing mercy to other species dependent on our goodwill is not a universal either. If I am an northern Indian villager being terrorised by tigers, then interactions with nature are a matter of survival, not morality.

DM, do you have any examples of absolute good or absolute beauty that cannot easily be reduced to relativities?

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

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 18th, 2019, 8:53 am

Fanman wrote:
January 17th, 2019, 2:03 pm
I think that's correct. A moral relativist may have, say, a code of conduct, so does a moral absolutist. Both believe in a way of living and both have principles that they adhere to. A moral absolutist may adhere to Jesus' famous “do unto others, as you would do unto yourself” maxim, whereas a moral relativist, not being religious, may adhere to the “golden rule” maxim, which is effectively the same thing. DM sees a strong distinction between the two, and epistemologically there may be, but effectively there isn't as they're both adhering to standards of morality, albeit not from the same perspectives.
Though the relativist could not think of what they are doing as good, nor can they criticize others for their behavior. Perhaps, they can accuse someone of being a hypocrite, but then they are trying to engage the other person's morality against them. They can certainly care about others, but there is no need for a maxim, either their desire pulls them to do this or not. It would be strange for them to try to live up to or follow a maxim. Why? one has no way of knowing if it is better than any other maxim, according to their own beliefs. They can say, Oh, I hate Trump. I don't like what is happening, but they cannot mount a moral case against him, or more important in any discussion of morals. At a meeting at work they can say 'I'd like us to....X' But they cannot say that Joe who doesn't want to recycle is wrong. They are out of the game of convincing others of the better way to live. Unless, in a Machievellian sense they pretend to have morals to make the world how they want it to be. Which, actually, is fine, or at least consistant, if in a sense hypocritical but not bad.
I agree. I think that moral absolutists will think negatively of anyone who doesn't conform to their understanding of principles; hence DM's comment in reply to me “I cannot imagine a better example of moral cowardice.” I haven't thought about it enough to feel sure, but I think that a moral relativist would be more accepting of another person's principles, even if they personally reject them, because they don't view things in absolute terms. I think that the problem with any form of absolutism, is that anyone who disagrees becomes the enemy, which (if he will excuse me) leads to a siege, mentality like DM seems to display.

Though I think he is, perhaps not clearly, responding to people who are also absolutists but call themselves or try to appear as relativists. IOW they dislike religious people for have a set of deontological rules. But you'll notice that they also condemn as evil fundamentalists or homophobes or republicans or the Tea party. It's a cake and eat it too position. And one that I think has actually gotten out of hand.

There are so many cultural, habitual, corporate cultural, habit based things that do not matter to me. I am a relativist regarding those. But I do have something quite similar to absolute stands.

You like some of the absolutists will have stuff you just think is wrong and will fight just as hard against. YOu may make some epistemological caveats, but IRL we will see angry, condemning, judgmental behavior based on moral positions. I think both sides work under this illusion that many people are relativists. I don't believe it.

So if you imagine his anger aimed at people claiming to be relativists who in the next sentence will condemn him on moral grounds, you might understand his rage. (DM may not agree with me in my analysis, he may think they really are relativists, but his descriptions include moral condemnations from their side, so I don't buy it. But hereäs the key thing: these faux relativists may well think they are not moral judgers, that they always see two sides or more, that they are acccepting and more loving. I am sure there are some people like this, but there are very few of them.)

Even a moral absolutist can deal with those they disagree with in nuanced non-agressive not binary ways. A Martin Luther King, say.

Most of us are not open to seeing pedophilia involving, especially, our own children, in relative terms. Like, no, I see the possible truth in both sides and I can't decide which is right.

And at war demonstrations and counterdemonstrations, we do not have relativists vs. absolutists, we have a clash of morals. Likewise at abortion pro and con demonstrations. Likewise around Trump.

It's this weird and I think sick collusion between both sides to think, generally, the left are relativists. They both feed this illusion, and both have strong psychological reasons for doing this. The absolutists don't like getting down in the epistemology of their morals (how they know they are right) and the lefties are still trying to disidentify with various churches. These day it should be clear that everybody has their index finger out and think that finger is empowered but THE TRUTH.

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

Post by Fooloso4 » January 18th, 2019, 10:35 am

The moral relativist points to the various competing claims made by absolutists. They cannot all be right and each claims that his version alone is.

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

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 18th, 2019, 10:45 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 10:35 am
The moral relativist points to the various competing claims made by absolutists. They cannot all be right and each claims that his version alone is.
Sure, but in real life, pretty much every relativist is an absolutist. And once an relativist has pointed out what you say above, that's really all he or she can do. I mean, he or she can't say it's bad to be sure when your epistemology seems weak.

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

Post by Belindi » January 18th, 2019, 10:55 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 10:45 am
Fooloso4 wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 10:35 am
The moral relativist points to the various competing claims made by absolutists. They cannot all be right and each claims that his version alone is.
Sure, but in real life, pretty much every relativist is an absolutist. And once an relativist has pointed out what you say above, that's really all he or she can do. I mean, he or she can't say it's bad to be sure when your epistemology seems weak.

On the contrary it's good to be able forever to not know, and to know that you will never know. This is a positive ability.

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

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 18th, 2019, 11:17 am

Belindi wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 10:55 am
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 10:45 am

Sure, but in real life, pretty much every relativist is an absolutist. And once an relativist has pointed out what you say above, that's really all he or she can do. I mean, he or she can't say it's bad to be sure when your epistemology seems weak.

On the contrary it's good to be able forever to not know, and to know that you will never know. This is a positive ability.
I didn't say anything about it being good or bad. And then, how can a relativist say it is good? I can see saying that you, personally, enjoy it, but good`? (a relativist can't say it's good or bad)

But perhaps the grammar of my last sentence was not clear. In my last quoted sentence above, I mean that the relativist can say that the absolutists certainty is bad.

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