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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Pattern-chaser
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 14th, 2020, 9:54 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:44 am
I think that the very idea of any sort of nonphysical existent is incoherent.
And Einstein taught us, with e = mc2, that matter (physically existent) and energy (physically nonexistent) are equivalent. So A-bombs are a way of making existing matter nonexistent? That doesn't sit well with the Conservation of This, That and the Other....

So this is what cognitive dissonance is. 🤔


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Pattern-chaser

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 10:33 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:54 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:44 am
I think that the very idea of any sort of nonphysical existent is incoherent.
And Einstein taught us, with e = mc2, that matter (physically existent) and energy (physically nonexistent) are equivalent. So A-bombs are a way of making existing matter nonexistent? That doesn't sit well with the Conservation of This, That and the Other....

So this is what cognitive dissonance is. 🤔


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So you'd say that a major part of physics is nonphysical?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Steve3007 » January 14th, 2020, 10:36 am

That doesn't sit well with the Conservation of This, That and the Other....
Depends what you mean by "This, That and the Other". If you mean mass-energy it fits well.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 10:49 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:54 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:44 am
I think that the very idea of any sort of nonphysical existent is incoherent.
And Einstein taught us, with e = mc2, that matter (physically existent) and energy (physically nonexistent) are equivalent. So A-bombs are a way of making existing matter nonexistent? That doesn't sit well with the Conservation of This, That and the Other....

So this is what cognitive dissonance is. 🤔


🤣🤣🤣
In other words (since I'm guessing you're just going to remain silent on my sarcastic question to you above), I think you might be misreading "physical" as something like the naive usage of "matter" or "object" (where that's thought of as a static "chunk," isolated from other static "chunks" etc.), and maybe even you're thinking of it as limited to medium-sized-dry-goods, tangible, static, isolated "chunks." That's not what "physical" denotes though, and it's obviously not what physics, in its study of the physical world, amounts to.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by chewybrian » January 14th, 2020, 11:08 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:44 am
For example, I think that the very idea of any sort of nonphysical existent is incoherent. But that doesn't allow me to say that folks who believe there are some nonphysical existents ALSO think that there can't be nonphysical existents in reality (just because I think the idea is incoherent). Obviously the person who believes there can be nonphysical existents doesn't think that the notion of them is incoherent.
I believe ideas and consciousness exist and have no physical reality. I think the belief is coherent because all material items can be verified: light is shining through the window, a rock came through the window and broke it, a squirrel is looking at me through the window. These things are objects, and as a subject, I can (or could) verify their existence in some way. But, my idea "that is a window" or my awareness of things in general, is not verifiable in this same way. Yet, ideas and consciousness have real impacts, so they seem real enough. Maybe I am dead wrong, but not wildly inconsistent. I understand that many other people think consciousness is material; I don't think they can prove it.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 11:12 am

chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 11:08 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:44 am
For example, I think that the very idea of any sort of nonphysical existent is incoherent. But that doesn't allow me to say that folks who believe there are some nonphysical existents ALSO think that there can't be nonphysical existents in reality (just because I think the idea is incoherent). Obviously the person who believes there can be nonphysical existents doesn't think that the notion of them is incoherent.
I believe ideas and consciousness exist and have no physical reality. I think the belief is coherent because all material items can be verified: light is shining through the window, a rock came through the window and broke it, a squirrel is looking at me through the window. These things are objects, and as a subject, I can (or could) verify their existence in some way. But, my idea "that is a window" or my awareness of things in general, is not verifiable in this same way. Yet, ideas and consciousness have real impacts, so they seem real enough. Maybe I am dead wrong, but not wildly inconsistent. I understand that many other people think consciousness is material; I don't think they can prove it.
Skipping over whether "All material items can be verified" is something we have any reason to believe for a moment, it's not even clear to me what you're saying, exactly, by "verifying" material items. How would you define "verification" as you're thinking of it?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Consul » January 14th, 2020, 12:11 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:54 am
And Einstein taught us, with e = mc2, that matter (physically existent) and energy (physically nonexistent) are equivalent.
To be precise, he taught us that mass and energy are equivalent.

The Equivalence of Mass and Energy > Misconceptions about E = mc2
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by chewybrian » January 14th, 2020, 12:20 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 11:12 am
Skipping over whether "All material items can be verified" is something we have any reason to believe for a moment, it's not even clear to me what you're saying, exactly, by "verifying" material items. How would you define "verification" as you're thinking of it?
Sure. I can predict how a light wave will bounce off a surface. I can tell you ahead of time the speed at which a radio signal will travel. I can weigh out a block of cheese. I can see the desk in front of me. Do any of these aspects apply to a thought or a human consciousness? If not, then we might say these things are not material, yet we might also say they are real.

And, no I do not take 'brain waves', electrical signals or firings in the brain to represent actual consciousness, any more than the imprint of my backside on the couch represents my actual bottom. These things are not 'me', any more than these words on my keyboard or this site are 'me'.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 12:45 pm

chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 12:20 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 11:12 am
Skipping over whether "All material items can be verified" is something we have any reason to believe for a moment, it's not even clear to me what you're saying, exactly, by "verifying" material items. How would you define "verification" as you're thinking of it?
Sure. I can predict how a light wave will bounce off a surface. I can tell you ahead of time the speed at which a radio signal will travel. I can weigh out a block of cheese. I can see the desk in front of me. Do any of these aspects apply to a thought or a human consciousness? If not, then we might say these things are not material, yet we might also say they are real.

And, no I do not take 'brain waves', electrical signals or firings in the brain to represent actual consciousness, any more than the imprint of my backside on the couch represents my actual bottom. These things are not 'me', any more than these words on my keyboard or this site are 'me'.
Okay, so predictions and direct observations?

So you'd say that radioactive decay of a particular atom, for example, isn't a physical phenomenon based on that? We can't predict decay of a particular atom and we don't directly observe it, either.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 14th, 2020, 2:05 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:04 am
Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 5:08 am
If God exists in a special category, why are we using the word "exists" for that category?
Because we reuse words for any and all similar usages. So we use "exists" to refer to God, and to Donald Trump, knowing that we mean something just a little bit different in each case. It's just how we use words, and language.
The problem here is that no theist argues that the categories that humans fall into are "a little bit different" than the category God falls into. The difference is always vast, sometimes infinitely so. This is not a case of "similar usage". The special category required for God to fit into would not resemble "exists" by any means, if we are going on the distinctions being made by the claimants.
Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 5:08 am
Either God exists or God doesn't exist.
True but useless, and therefore pointless to state. You haven't clarified what existence means when applied to God (and maybe you can't, because maybe it's not possible? Maybe we are just too vague about who and what God is to ask such things?).
Regardless of what existence means, it is necessarily true that either x exists or x doesn't exist. The law p or not p holds true regardless of what we substitute p with.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 14th, 2020, 3:08 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 9:44 am
If we are making the argument that reality allows for the existence of omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent beings, then cool, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent beings can possibly exist. It would be irrational to argue that reality makes such a provision for beings that exist, but only does so in a single special case.
"It would be irrational . . . " is just a repeat of the claim that you're making. Again, you're not supporting that claim. Support the claim that properties that can occur can't (rationally) occur for only one being, or in only one instance. You can't just say that it can't be the case and leave it at that. Argue why it can't be the case.

As I said I'm an atheist, but I'm also a nominalist, and as a nominalist, I think that ALL properties that occur occur in only one case, because no two properties are actually identical.
If one of the premises for God's existence is that reality is such that the properties that God possesses do occur (in reality), then let's stick to that. The attributes ascribed to God can possibly occur in existing beings in reality. My assertion isn't that it is irrational for such attributes to occur only once. My argument is that it is irrational to argue that it isn't possible for these attributes to occur more than once. It may very well be that, under these circumstances, God exists. However, the assertion that such attributes can only occur once and never again in reality contradicts the argument that such attributes are in the category of things that exist as a whole, and moves to a single special case.
But whether it's logically coherent to you or I is irrelevant to the claim that THEY say the properties in question can't exist in reality.
The claims that are made by God believers about God are actually logically incoherent to the claimants themselves. The logical coherence of a statement isn't a matter of subjectivity. That's not how logic works.
For example, I think that the very idea of any sort of nonphysical existent is incoherent. But that doesn't allow me to say that folks who believe there are some nonphysical existents ALSO think that there can't be nonphysical existents in reality (just because I think the idea is incoherent). Obviously the person who believes there can be nonphysical existents doesn't think that the notion of them is incoherent.
Again, I disagree. A person who believes a logically inconsistent claim does not believe that their claim is coherent. They wouldn't be able to coherently deconstruct the claim of they tried. They believe their claim in spite of their claim being logically inconsistent. People don't believe logically inconsistent claims because to them it's logical, as logic isn't subjective. They believe those claims because they evade examining whether the claim is logically consistent.
The whole notion of that is stupid to even bother with in the first place, from both sides. It's not a problem that they can't prove something. Empirical claims are not provable PERIOD, and logical proofs hinge on the particular species and system of logic being used--they're only relevant to something we construct, insofar as we construct it. So a proof is a category error on the one hand and something that has some degree of arbitrariness to it on the other hand. It's not something to worry about when we're wondering what's the case ontologically.
When I speak of proving that God exists, I'm speaking in logical terms. We can test constructs logically to see if they can be possibly true or not. Things that can be possibly true are not necessarily true, and still require evidence (which we can argue isn't really proof, as human limitations yada yada ya). Things that cannot possibly be true are necessarily false, and no empirical evidence is necessary. Demonstrating logically that something cannot possibly be true is proof that it is false.

I trust that you're not arguing that logic is arbitrary (even though you seemed to imply earlier that logic is subjective, which it is not).
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 3:35 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 3:08 pm

If one of the premises for God's existence is that reality is such that the properties that God possesses do occur (in reality), then let's stick to that. The attributes ascribed to God can possibly occur in existing beings in reality. My assertion isn't that it is irrational for such attributes to occur only once. My argument is that it is irrational to argue that it isn't possible for these attributes to occur more than once. It may very well be that, under these circumstances, God exists. However, the assertion that such attributes can only occur once and never again in reality contradicts the argument that such attributes are in the category of things that exist as a whole, and moves to a single special case.
You've got me pulling my hair out. You're simply restating things you've already said before, and your argument that P above is P. Your argument for P can't be that P.
The claims that are made by God believers about God are actually logically incoherent to the claimants themselves. The logical coherence of a statement isn't a matter of subjectivity. That's not how logic works.
I'm not a realist on logic, so yeah, on my view that's how it works. At any rate, there are two senses of "incoherent" we can be talking about. One sense, which is what you might be thinking of, is that something results in a logical contradiction. In that case you need to show that it actually results in a contradiction, and then you have to hope that your opponent isn't endorsing some species of paraconsistent logic. ;-)

The other sense is the notion that something can't be made heads or tails of--it amounts to semantic gobbledygook, it's literally inconceivable, etc. That sense is obviously subjective, even if one is a realist on logic.
Again, I disagree. A person who believes a logically inconsistent claim does not believe that their claim is coherent.
They're either not going to agree that it's logically inconsistent or they'll say that logical inconsistency isn't a problem, perhaps because they're endorsing some species of paraconsistent logic.
When I speak of proving that God exists, I'm speaking in logical terms.
Which I address in what you're quoting: "logical proofs hinge on the particular species and system of logic being used--they're only relevant to something we construct, insofar as we construct it . . it has a degree of arbitrariness to it"
I trust that you're not arguing that logic is arbitrary (even though you seemed to imply earlier that logic is subjective, which it is not).
It's not arbitrary in the sense of being completely random, but yes, it's subjective. It's how an individual happens to reason about implicational relations.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 3:36 pm

In my view, by the way, belief in realism (objectivity) for logic/mathematics, or any belief in real (objective) abstracts has similarities to and as ridiculous as belief in gods.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 3:37 pm

typo correction: . . . has similarities to and IS as ridiculous as . . .

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by chewybrian » January 14th, 2020, 4:44 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 12:45 pm
chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 12:20 pm


Sure. I can predict how a light wave will bounce off a surface. I can tell you ahead of time the speed at which a radio signal will travel. I can weigh out a block of cheese. I can see the desk in front of me. Do any of these aspects apply to a thought or a human consciousness? If not, then we might say these things are not material, yet we might also say they are real.

And, no I do not take 'brain waves', electrical signals or firings in the brain to represent actual consciousness, any more than the imprint of my backside on the couch represents my actual bottom. These things are not 'me', any more than these words on my keyboard or this site are 'me'.
Okay, so predictions and direct observations?

So you'd say that radioactive decay of a particular atom, for example, isn't a physical phenomenon based on that? We can't predict decay of a particular atom and we don't directly observe it, either.
I'm not sure if I am following you. If I have an idea "I would like to build a cabin", I say the idea is a real thing that can impact the world. So, I spend a year building a cabin, and the cabin is real enough.

Now, you seem to be asking, is "I am a year older" a real thing? It would be a true fact, yes, but it is an observation, not a thing that impacts the world (I think).
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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