The "God exists" paradox

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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h_k_s
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by h_k_s » January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 8:11 am
h_k_s wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 7:20 am
You keep asking for "evidence."

What if the Super-beings are just not interested in spending their time on you?

What if you don't mean anything to them?

What if you are useless to them? And so they do not bother with you? Isn't this a feasible and plausible counter-explanation?

Don't worry however, because there is quite likely and indisputably a hot house of Hell's BBQ Palace where you will be welcomed for your efforts at absurdity and futility. There you will by all indications be checked-in but you cannot check-out.
It's interesting that you seamlessly segued from hypothetical and rhetorical "what if" to "quite likely" to "indisputably". Do you see the problem here? "Quite likely" requires at least a rational basis. "Indisputably" requires evidence and proof. These aren't my qualifiers, but yours, as these are your statements. If your claims have no rational basis, they aren't "quite likely". If you provide no evidence or proof for your claim, it isn't "indisputable".
No one is trying to stop you from being atheist, not even caring.

But the hollow arguments and fallacies of the atheist argument are what is offensive to logic, especially on a Philosophy forum, which by its nature is reverent to Aristotle and his invention of both logic and of the argument for the Prime Mover.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 2:14 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 12:39 pm
I've come across the idea that God could be thought of in ways that allow that he is different than that which we can conceive.
So to clarify, whatever one thinks God is would always be different from how God actually is?
The definition would go something like this: God is the reason that everything exists, but the only things we can say about him is what he is not. In this way of thinking, God, by definition, is not a physical being. Some people acknowledge from that start that he doesn't exist- at least not like physical things and physical beings exist.
Wouldn't making the claim that God is not physical make God physical?

Giving God a non-physical definition is not so much a problem. I'm not making the declaration that it is impossible for non-physical things to exist. Any definition can work. The problem arises when people make claims about God and simultaneously argue that God has no definition. A claim implies a definition.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 2:53 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 11:22 am
A God-believer expects God to be superlatively ideal, so ideal that it exceeds realism. In other words, God is necessarily "too good to be true". The paradox arises when the God believer tries to demonstrate that this too good to be true God is true. In doing so, they must modify the definition of God down a few notches to become a God that could be true. And while doing so might allow them to successfully demonstrate that God per that definition exists, it's no longer the God they initially committed their belief to.
You believe they're positing a God "too good to be true." They don't believe that. Of course, you'd say they're wrong about this, and they'd say you're wrong.

At any rate, could you give an example of what you're claiming? A believer who winds up expressing a belief that the God they initially posited couldn't be the case in reality?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 8:40 pm

h_k_s wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
No one is trying to stop you from being atheist, not even caring.

But the hollow arguments and fallacies of the atheist argument are what is offensive to logic, especially on a Philosophy forum, which by its nature is reverent to Aristotle and his invention of both logic and of the argument for the Prime Mover.
I distinctly remember asking you from early on if you'd be willing to actually examine the arguments of the philosophers you blankly name-drop in these threads as some sort of basis of validity for your position. You never acknowledged my offer.

Do you really understand Aristotle's argument? Do you have any idea what was the definition of God Aristotle's proof led him to?

Aristotle was truly a great philosopher, as he not only was able to accurately deconstruct the arguments of others, he was also able to deconstruct his own.

He starts off with the premise that all of reality is in motion, each motion being the subsequent effect of some former motion, i.e., a cause for every effect. He posits that all motion must have had an origin, which he labels as the Prime Mover. He immediately realizes that the existence of his Prime Mover contradicts his premise, so he adjusts for this: the Prime Mover is itself immovable and unchangeable. To address the problem "how does an unchanging and immovable entity move things", Aristotle posits that this immovable unchanging entity only thinks, and ultimately is only thought, as it is also immaterial. The act of thinking somehow exerts an attractive force on physical reality, and so motion occurs as a result. (Note that Aristotle doesn't account for the Newtonian law that for every force exerted by an object, an equal opposite force is exerted on that object.) So what can an immovable unchangeable entity think about in such a way that it doesn't change? If the Prime Mover thought about the events subsequent to itself, it would be a changing entity, which, by definition, it can't be. Therefore, the Prime Mover can only be aware of itself.

This is the God that Aristotle concluded exists: an unchanging thought that is unaware of anything but itself. If this is not the definition of the God you propose exists, then Aristotle's proof doesn't support your proposal in the slightest.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 8:47 pm

Aristotle was great in the way he tried to very soberly, systemically tackle issues from a logical and a rough proto-scientific methodology--he was a huge influence on philosophy in this, but most of what he said was wrong, it was often very confused, etc.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 8:49 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 2:53 pm
Prof Bulani wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 11:22 am
A God-believer expects God to be superlatively ideal, so ideal that it exceeds realism. In other words, God is necessarily "too good to be true". The paradox arises when the God believer tries to demonstrate that this too good to be true God is true. In doing so, they must modify the definition of God down a few notches to become a God that could be true. And while doing so might allow them to successfully demonstrate that God per that definition exists, it's no longer the God they initially committed their belief to.
You believe they're positing a God "too good to be true." They don't believe that. Of course, you'd say they're wrong about this, and they'd say you're wrong.

At any rate, could you give an example of what you're claiming? A believer who winds up expressing a belief that the God they initially posited couldn't be the case in reality?
It just so happens that I just posted an example of exactly that: a believer in God who had to redefine God drastically in order to provide a logical argument for God's existence. That would be Aristotle himself. Other examples would be every single person who believed God exists and offered some form of logical argument to support their belief. h_k_s routinely produces a list of them. I don't mind going through every single one of them if you think Aristotle alone isn't a good enough example. Check out the comment above.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Consul » January 16th, 2020, 12:39 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:36 am
Consul wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 12:11 pm
To be precise, he taught us that mass and energy are equivalent.

The Equivalence of Mass and Energy > Misconceptions about E = mc2
Yes, OK, but the only thing that has mass is matter, and nothing but matter has mass, so I'm not especially confused or mistaken, am I?
No, as long as you're aware of the distinction between being mass/energy and having mass/energy.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 6:01 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 8:49 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 2:53 pm


You believe they're positing a God "too good to be true." They don't believe that. Of course, you'd say they're wrong about this, and they'd say you're wrong.

At any rate, could you give an example of what you're claiming? A believer who winds up expressing a belief that the God they initially posited couldn't be the case in reality?
It just so happens that I just posted an example of exactly that: a believer in God who had to redefine God drastically in order to provide a logical argument for God's existence. That would be Aristotle himself. Other examples would be every single person who believed God exists and offered some form of logical argument to support their belief. h_k_s routinely produces a list of them. I don't mind going through every single one of them if you think Aristotle alone isn't a good enough example. Check out the comment above.
I don't think it's at all clear that Aristotle did what you're claiming rather than employing a common rhetorical device (basically an informal version of a reductio ad absurdum) designed for agreement about what, exactly, he wants to claim.

So yeah, it would be helpful to provide clearer examples, and with hks, we can just directly ask him if he's positing a God with properties that he'd say can't exist in reality.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Sculptor1 » January 16th, 2020, 6:04 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 12th, 2020, 7:49 am
There is an interesting paradox that occurs when people who claim to believe that God exists are made to logically follow the ramifications of this claim. If the statement "God exists in reality" is true, this necessarily puts God into the category of "things that exist in reality". Being in this category imposes its own limitations, which God-believers immediately become uncomfortable with. And that's the paradox. You cannot define God as something that exists without imposing the limitations of existence upon God. Removing those limitations will automatically remove God from the category of things that exist.
Perhaps you would be so kind as to outline the specific characteristics of existence that would negate an existent God?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Sculptor1 » January 16th, 2020, 6:07 am

h_k_s wrote:
January 12th, 2020, 9:01 pm
You may want to try to approach it as such in the future. Then it will sound like you understand the topic better.

And your frail attempt at sarcasm is an ad hominem fallacy. You @Prof Bulani should stop utilizing fallacies since utilizing them exposes you as a Sophist. And according to Plato, nothing on this Earth is worse than a Sophist. Or do you want to disagree with Plato too?!

Q.E.D.
This is the weakest and most small minded response I read in a long time.
There is no sarcasm, neither is there any ad hominems in Bulani's post.
By contrast - that is all that yours actually contains.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Sculptor1 » January 16th, 2020, 6:11 am

Consul wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 2:38 am
"God does not exist. He is being-itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore, to argue that God exists is to deny him."

(Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology, Vol 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951. p. 205)

That's rubbish, and the phrase "being-itself beyond essence and existence" is nonsensical!
Just because you don't like it, does not mean that its not a fair statement

"Belief in God is not the same thing as belief that God exists, or that there is such a thing as God. To believe that God exists is simply to accept a proposition of a certain sort—a proposition affirming that there is a personal being who, let's say, has existed from eternity, is almighty, perfectly wise, perfectly just, has created the world, and loves his creatures. To believe in God, however, is quite another matter. ...Belief in God means trusting God, accepting Him, committing one's life to Him. ...So believing in God is more than accepting the proposition that God exists. Still, it is at least that much. One can't sensibly believe in God and thank Him for the mountains without believing that there is such a person to be thanked, and that He is in some way responsible for the mountains. Nor can one trust in God and commit oneself to Him without believing that he exists: 'He who would come to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him' (Heb. 11:6)."

(Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. 1974. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977. pp. 1-2)
By contrast your quote from Plantinga is meaningless, contradictory and vacuous.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 8:34 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 6:04 am
Perhaps you would be so kind as to outline the specific characteristics of existence that would negate an existent God?
A characteristic that is self contradictory is impossible to exist. A characteristic that is premised on a falsehood is impossible to exist. By extension, any entity who is defined as bearing a characteristic that is impossible to exist must also itself be impossible to exist.

If at this point you disagree with the above, let me know.

If God is defined as having the characteristic of omnipotence, i.e., the ability to do anything, then that would include the ability to disable his own abilities (e.g., the rock that is too heavy to lift). As such, omnipotence is self contradictory. If God is defined as having the characteristic of omniscience, i.e., the knowledge of all things, including future things, then God cannot choose, and free will doesn't exist even for God. Omniscience contradicts almost all other characteristics commonly ascribed to God. If God is defined as being timeless, then, by the definition of existence (persistence of being), God cannot exist, as existence requires duration.

In order to define God as a spirit, the premise that spirits are things that exist must be established to be true first. Defining God as benevolent would require God to demonstrate benevolent acts. Defining God as an intelligent designer would require evidence of intelligent designs. Defining God as the creator of the universe would require that the universe was created in the first place. Defining God as the author of objective morality would require that objective morality is a thing that actually exists. If any of these conditions are evaluated as false, God, per that definition, cannot possibly exist.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by anonymous66 » January 16th, 2020, 9:01 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 2:14 pm
anonymous66 wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 12:39 pm
I've come across the idea that God could be thought of in ways that allow that he is different than that which we can conceive.
So to clarify, whatever one thinks God is would always be different from how God actually is?
The definition would go something like this: God is the reason that everything exists, but the only things we can say about him is what he is not. In this way of thinking, God, by definition, is not a physical being. Some people acknowledge from that start that he doesn't exist- at least not like physical things and physical beings exist.
Wouldn't making the claim that God is not physical make God physical?

Giving God a non-physical definition is not so much a problem. I'm not making the declaration that it is impossible for non-physical things to exist. Any definition can work. The problem arises when people make claims about God and simultaneously argue that God has no definition. A claim implies a definition.
I read your OP as the assertion: "If God exists then many problems arise- because that means God is limited by the physical". I am merely pointing out that many believe that God is not physical- and those same people make very few claims about God. They believe that all that we can say about God is what God is not.

Not all definitions of God are paradoxical in the way you suggest.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 9:02 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 6:01 am
I don't think it's at all clear that Aristotle did what you're claiming rather than employing a common rhetorical device (basically an informal version of a reductio ad absurdum) designed for agreement about what, exactly, he wants to claim.

So yeah, it would be helpful to provide clearer examples, and with hks, we can just directly ask him if he's positing a God with properties that he'd say can't exist in reality.
Aristotle believed that God exists. The God that Aristotle initially believed in was the mainstream God defined by social convention. Not necessarily the biblical/Catholic deity, but at the very least the benevolent designer and creator of reality, morality and goodness. In his discourses, he describes God in these attributes repeatedly.

Being the astute philosopher that he was, Aristotle attempted to reconcile this belief with observation and rational induction. When Aristotle's proof was complete, the definition of God had scarce resemblance to the God he initially believed existed. The God that emerged after being distilled by logic was an unknowing, unchanging thought. It's existence and self contemplation resulted in the unintentional origin of the causal chains that produced the universe as it now is. Since God has no awareness of the universe he accidentally created, God is neither benevolent nor good, and must necessarily be indifferent to things that may or may not exist, of which he necessarily remains unaware. And since the universe and all reality is the unintentional outcome of the force exerted by God thinking about itself, God can hardly be considered a designer or creator, as no design or creation of the universe occurred. The only characteristics that God remained with at the end of the process that were there in the beginning were God being eternal and immaterial.

Examining every other classical or contemporary proof of God's existence through logical induction meets the same outcome. The God that can be proven to exist never matches the God that is initially believed to exist. I'll be happy to go over the others.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 9:16 am

anonymous66 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 9:01 am
I read your OP as the assertion: "If God exists then many problems arise- because that means God is limited by the physical". I am merely pointing out that many believe that God is not physical- and those same people make very few claims about God. They believe that all that we can say about God is what God is not.

Not all definitions of God are paradoxical in the way you suggest.
Fair enough. That was neither my assertion nor my implication. And to clarify, I explicitly stated that the problem isn't giving God a non-physical definition. That's not what the paradox is about. It is evident now that I could have been clearer in my op. The paradox doesn't exist in the case of any one single definition, but rather it is the discrepancy among the two definitions that arise when someone attempts to prove that God exists: namely the initial definition, and the logically consistent definition. For the most part, it's unnecessary to define God in a logically consistent way to merely believe that God exists. This is by large the normal way people believe in God. It's only when an individual is challenged to use some form of solid logic to argue that God actually exists, taking as objective an approach as they can, that they must abandon this idealist definition and modify it to something that actually is logically consistent. The paradox occurs within the mind of the one doing the proving, as a God that can be demonstrated with logic to exist in reality is always an unimpressive and often useless God, far removed from the definition they idealized originally.

In my last few comments I expounded on Aristotle's proof of God, and the transition his definition of God underwent. Very likely I'll go into other cases of logical proofs of God as examples of the same paradox occurring.
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