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

Post by Eduk » January 18th, 2019, 11:27 am

Sure, but in real life, pretty much every relativist is an absolutist
I still think I am maybe somehow misunderstanding your definition of those words because I come to the opposite conclusion. It is like you are saying boiling hot water is freezing cold, I begin to wonder if hot and cold have the same meaning to you as to me.
Does @Karpel Tunnel make sense to anyone else, or is it just me? Can anyone else have a stab at explaining what they think @Karpel Tunnel means?
Let me give my interpretation so you know where I am coming from. I don't have access to any objective or absolute knowledge. No human does. When a human says they have objective knowledge of something then they are using the term normatively (as in minimally subjective) or they are mistaken.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Belindi » January 18th, 2019, 11:28 am

Right you are eduk! (Except for mystics). i

I think that 'objective' does not mean the same as 'absolute'. 'Objective' is usually to do with statistical significance.

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

Post by Eduk » January 18th, 2019, 11:35 am

I think that 'objective' does not mean the same as 'absolute'. 'Objective' is usually to do with statistical significance.
Yes maybe this is part of my misunderstanding? I see the terms used interchangeably. They often can mean the same thing. The difference would come down to context (funnily enough a relative concept) and would need to be carefully explained if you hoped for others to understand you.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Fooloso4 » January 18th, 2019, 11:57 am

Karpel Tunnel:

I can see saying that you, personally, enjoy it, but good`? (a relativist can't say it's good or bad)
The claim that x is good or bad is entirely consistent with a coherent relativism. It is an evaluative claim that lacks an absolute foundations, that is to say, it is not a claim whose truth is invariant, infallible, or apodictic.

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

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 18th, 2019, 12:14 pm

Belindi wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 11:28 am
Right you are eduk! (Except for mystics). i

I think that 'objective' does not mean the same as 'absolute'. 'Objective' is usually to do with statistical significance.
Explain to me how a relativist can say that an absolutist is bad for thinking they know for sure that X is good or bad. The relativist can think that the absolutist is in error, but not bad. In error in thinking he knows that X is good or bad.
From Stanfords philosophy dictionary....
Relativism, roughly put, is the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them. More precisely, “relativism” covers views which maintain that—at a high level of abstraction—at least some class of things have the properties they have (e.g., beautiful, morally good, epistemically justified) not simpliciter, but only relative to a given framework of assessment (e.g., local cultural norms, individual standards), and correspondingly, that the truth of claims attributing these properties holds only once the relevant framework of assessment is specified or supplied. Relativists characteristically insist, furthermore, that if something is only relatively so, then there can be no framework-independent vantage point from which the matter of whether the thing in question is so can be established.
Since the relativist and the absolutist do not share the same culture, to the specific extent around morals, it makes no sense to judge the absolutist's moral judgments as bad or good.

If the relativist is arguing against deontology. IOW that 'it depends on the context'. They are saying that the absolutist is wrong to rule out certain actions without evaluating the context, a new set of problems arises for the relativist. Since the relativist thinks that there is no actual access to knowing what is good or bad, since these are culturally dependent and no objective, by what standards does he evaluate the objectivists absolutism, in general or around a specific issue, as bad or good.

I come across two chess players playing losing chess - a game where you have to take if you can and where the object is to get the other player to take all of your pieces. The King is simply another piece. I can tell them they are playing incorrectly. But once they tell me they are playing losing chess, I cannot tell them they are playing immorally. Now I know they have different conventions. The relativist by definition must look at all morals and all moral choices as just like various options for playing chess - and there are more versions of chess so we can have a real muliticultural metaphor here.

So again, a relativist can point out contradictions. The relativist can say that the absolutists epistemology is unconvincing. But the relativist cannot judge the absolutist, his acts or his judgments as bad.

Many critiques of absolutism are based on a principle of tolerance. The problem for the relativist is that this becomes deontological itself, or it is really not an effective counter. Why should the absolutist put this commandment above his own?

It seems like some people are conflating

consequentialism
with
relativism

IOW absolutists do not take in the context, so they are bad.

But relativism is not, or not simply, consequentialism.

If the abolutist is wrong for judging homosexual behavior, say, because they should be more tolerant. This is not relativism. It is working from a value that however nuanced it may be applied and however much consequences are evaluated, it is making an absolute judgment that tolerance should be prioritized.

And one can, also, due to the same value, be intolerant of certain absolutists.

If we want to argue that relativists will not do what absolutists have done to homosexuals, we still have the problem that this is not relativism. Because again we have implicit at least moral values taken as absolutes.

And of course you are judging one culture as better than another. Most of the people calling themselves relativists judge fundamentalist culture as bad. Unless they are focused on the oppresssion, say, of Muslims, when they may feel that they should not be judged. Since often relativists are on the left, looking at power dynamics, and seeing Muslims in the West as oppressed and Christian fundamentalists are trying to use, for example, legislation or a community to oppress. So they find themselved judging one set of fundamentalists and not the other, at least in certain contexts.

And this isn't even bringing in the relativism around truth.

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

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 18th, 2019, 12:26 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 11:57 am
Karpel Tunnel:

I can see saying that you, personally, enjoy it, but good`? (a relativist can't say it's good or bad)
The claim that x is good or bad is entirely consistent with a coherent relativism. It is an evaluative claim that lacks an absolute foundations, that is to say, it is not a claim whose truth is invariant, infallible, or apodictic.
Again. That could work within a group that has decided on its morals. But once you are a relativist, now anyway, you look out at a mass of cultures. You have no grounds to judge someone from another culture, which would include absolutists. It is just one of many types of conventional systems.
o

If you cannot judge the merits of the values of Confucism vs. Fundamental Christianity and judge the latter or both for judging the other, you are engaging in the same kind of activity. If your judgment is not invariant, infallible, apodictic, it is a taste issue.

Morals are not like science. We can have best explanation so far in science and the explanation with the most evidence in science. We can reach always potentially revisable conclusions in science. We can separate these inductive claims from absolute ones. We can work with probabilities instead of certainty. Great.

But that cannot possibly transfer to morals. Not for relativists. Because there are not probabilities, there are just conventions.

There is no way for a relativist to revise in any epistemologically based enterprise. They could see new consequences and revise specfics. They could change their tastes and desires. But no evidence will come in that we should care for people, for example. With emphasis on that should.

To say that there is a probability that killing someone else's baby for no reason is bad makes no sense

unless

you are I agree on values, values which cannot be judged on probablistic grounds.

At root it is empathy or some other non moral faculty. Their is no moral induction.

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

Post by Fooloso4 » January 18th, 2019, 1:31 pm

Karpel Tunnel:
Since the relativist and the absolutist do not share the same culture, to the specific extent around morals, it makes no sense to judge the absolutist's moral judgments as bad or good.
Cultural relativism is one form of relativism, not all relativists are cultural relativists. They may recognize the influence of culture but do not claim that culture is morality determined. They may be critical of both other cultures and their own.
Since the relativist thinks that there is no actual access to knowing what is good or bad, since these are culturally dependent and no objective, by what standards does he evaluate the objectivists absolutism, in general or around a specific issue, as bad or good.
It is not that the relativist does not know what is good or bad, that is, is not able to make these distinctions, but that this knowledge lacks absolute foundations. There will not be universal agreement and no way to permanently settle the matter.
But the relativist cannot judge the absolutist, his acts or his judgments as bad.
Of course she can, but she is aware that there will be no way to settle the matter once and for all in a way that will be accepted universally.
But once you are a relativist, now anyway, you look out at a mass of cultures. You have no grounds to judge someone from another culture, which would include absolutists. It is just one of many types of conventional systems.
You can judge them by the standards that you hold to be best, proper, or most acceptable given that all such standards fall short of some imagined absolute authoritative measure.
If your judgment is not invariant, infallible, apodictic, it is a taste issue.
What seems to be best based on reasoned deliberation is not a "taste issue", although we should not discount preferences for what does not cause or causes less pain, harm, and suffering.
But that cannot possibly transfer to morals. Not for relativists. Because there are not probabilities, there are just conventions.
Again, you are conflating relativism and cultural relativism.
There is no way for a relativist to revise in any epistemologically based enterprise.
You have got this backwards. It is the absolutists who refuses to revise because they believe the truth is known to them. The relativists position is tentative and subject to change in the face of compelling argument or evidence.
But no evidence will come in that we should care for people, for example. With emphasis on that should.
We do not care because we are told we should care. If I do not care for people then I do not care that people tell me I should care. It is because we care that we heed what we are told we should do.
To say that there is a probability that killing someone else's baby for no reason is bad makes no sense
Of course! It is not a matter of probability. If you cannot identify universally agreed upon absolute moral standards then some form of relativism is inescapable.
At root it is empathy …
I think that this is part of it, but it is a condition for rather than the result of moral judgments.

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

Post by Dark Matter » January 18th, 2019, 2:00 pm

Greta wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 7:16 am
DM, do you have any examples of absolute good or absolute beauty that cannot easily be reduced to relativities?
You haven’t been paying attention.

Socrates did’t know what absolute good or absolute good is, either, but he knew they exist. That’s what made him wise — his ignorance had a Godward direction: he had a solid foundation.

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

Post by Fanman » January 18th, 2019, 2:57 pm

Eduk wrote:
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?
I couldn't really say “yes” or “no” conclusively. I think that, effectively, do unto others and the golden rule are the same, it would be silly to say that they're different functionally. But because do unto others is a religious maxim, and the golden rule is not, there's a different epistemology behind them. In the sense that, a moral absolutist may believe that do unto others is not only an ultimate truth, but also a direct command from God, whereas a moral relativist may see the golden rule as simply an advantageous way of living. So whilst both may believe that the golden rule is good, there may be completely different motivations for following it.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Eduk » January 18th, 2019, 3:00 pm

Yes @Greta you haven't been paying attention. If I make a statement which counters logic and you ask me to better explain myself then it should be pretty obvious that I would be totally unable to fulfill your request. So any insults I head your way are actually your fault.
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Eduk » January 18th, 2019, 3:04 pm

@Fanman good point.
I was looking at it from the point of where does the golden rule come from. In both instances it's man made. And I would argue comes from the same place.
But yes the claims as to why follow the rule are radically different. One has nothing to do with morality and the other does.
I think in practice it's almost exactly the same. But sure there is a difference
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Re: Why Believe in a God when It is Impossible to Prove?

Post by Belindi » January 18th, 2019, 3:22 pm

Where the Golden Rule comes from.

The Golden Rule
The idea that we should treat others as we would like them to treat us, known as the Golden Rule, is an ethic that emerged almost universally during the Axial Age. For example, Confucius said: "What I do not wish others to do to me, that also I wish not to do to them" (Analects, 5.11) while Zoroaster (628-551 B.C.E.) said, "That which is good for all and any one, for whomsoever—that is good for me...what I hold good for self, I should for all. Only Law Universal is true Law" (Gathas, 43.1). The book of Leviticus says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19: 18).

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

Post by Belindi » January 18th, 2019, 3:25 pm

Origins of the Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule
The idea that we should treat others as we would like them to treat us, known as the Golden Rule, is an ethic that emerged almost universally during the Axial Age. For example, Confucius said: "What I do not wish others to do to me, that also I wish not to do to them" (Analects, 5.11) while Zoroaster (628-551 B.C.E.) said, "That which is good for all and any one, for whomsoever—that is good for me...what I hold good for self, I should for all. Only Law Universal is true Law" (Gathas, 43.1). The book of Leviticus says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19: 18).

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

Post by Fooloso4 » January 18th, 2019, 4:25 pm

DM:
Socrates did’t know what absolute good or absolute good is, either, but he knew they exist. That’s what made him wise — his ignorance had a Godward direction: he had a solid foundation.
He did not know they exist. He he did not know what they are he could not know that they were absolute.

The first thing we need to consider is that Socrates spoke differently to different people depending on what he thought was most salutary for them to believe.

The second is that we should not assume that whatever he might have meant by the divine is how we might conceive of God. Socrates ironic response to the accusation of atheism should not be overlooked - at his trial he asks his accusers if he was guilty of innovation regarding the gods or not believing in gods. It is ironic because not only does he not deny the charges, he raises questions as to whether a reconception of the gods is a rejection of belief in the gods. Consider, for example, the accusations of atheism against Spinoza, and more recently theologians like Tillich. In what sense is a reconfigured God God? This is particularly pertinent in light of the unchanging Platonic Forms.

Third, Socrates orientation was not “Godward” but toward the Good. Neoplatonism conflates them, Plato does not. Socrates was a zetetic skeptic. He knew he did not know. This was what made him wise, not the pretense of ignorance obfuscating a claim of knowledge of the existence of the divine. A key point in understanding this is Socrates’ “second sailing” (Phaedo), his shift from attempting to see the things themselves - the Good itself, Beauty itself, to an inquiry in speech - dialogue, dialogic, dialectic. When the wind fails the sailor must take the oars. In the absence of knowledge of the Good itself or Beauty itself we can never know that what we have arrived at in speech is true. We cannot even know that there is a Good itself or Beauty itself.

If one is interested in Christian apologetics then Peter Kreeft may be your man, but if you are interested in Plato then there are far superior resources.

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

Post by Greta » January 18th, 2019, 6:43 pm

Dark Matter wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 2:00 pm
Greta wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 7:16 am
DM, do you have any examples of absolute good or absolute beauty that cannot easily be reduced to relativities?
You haven’t been paying attention.

Socrates did’t know what absolute good or absolute good is, either, but he knew they exist. That’s what made him wise — his ignorance had a Godward direction: he had a solid foundation.
This points to a universal POV, where there is no external competition. So, shareholders will have definite views about the right and wrong of some actions by executives and other staff. For instance, sabotage or theft harms the overall corporation so it's treated as a harm rather than relativistically, which might wonder if the theft of public money by tax evasion by corporations causes far more harm than a little pilfering or vandalism.

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