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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Terrapin Station
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 4:45 pm

chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 4:44 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 12:45 pm

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).
You're not going to answer the question I asked you?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by LuckyR » January 14th, 2020, 6:28 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 5:19 am
LuckyR wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 3:44 am
Here's an older definition: beings who are an order of magnitude smarter and/or stronger or more powerful than the smartest and strongest (most powerful) human. Show me the paradox, as whole societies believed in such gods for centuries.
Good. It is very much within the realm of the possible for beings who are an order of magnitude smarter and/or stronger or more powerful than the smartest and strongest (most powerful) human to exist. I would even argue that they quite likely to exist. There may be several planets throughout the universe where such beings exist. The existence of such beings, while not necessarily relevant on earth, is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. There would be no paradox in demonstrating that it is possible for such beings to exist. And since these beings, by this definition, are falsifiable, the only issue would be that of providing evidence to support the belief that they interact with earth.
Since the initial gods were not typically felt to be omniscient nor omnipotent, this fits quite nicely into an imagined meeting between stone agers and extraterrestrials. The simple fact that there is not a commonly used descriptor of a living being smarter than a human, says a lot about our inexperience with such beings.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 6:41 pm

chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 4:44 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 12:45 pm

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).
Say what? I asked you if you believe that radioactive decay of a particular atom is a physical phenomenon, because we can't predict it and we don't directly observe it. You said those were your requirements for verification, which you give as a requirement for asserting that something is a physical phenomenon.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by chewybrian » January 14th, 2020, 7:20 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 6:41 pm
chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 4:44 pm


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).
Say what? I asked you if you believe that radioactive decay of a particular atom is a physical phenomenon, because we can't predict it and we don't directly observe it. You said those were your requirements for verification, which you give as a requirement for asserting that something is a physical phenomenon.
Sorry but my mind is slipping a bit on whether the decay is a material thing or not. The atom is material, and the radiation, but I am not sure how to classify the decay. I was making an analogy to our aging. Is 'aging' a material thing, or more of an observation or something else?
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 14th, 2020, 7:56 pm

chewybrian wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 7:20 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 6:41 pm


Say what? I asked you if you believe that radioactive decay of a particular atom is a physical phenomenon, because we can't predict it and we don't directly observe it. You said those were your requirements for verification, which you give as a requirement for asserting that something is a physical phenomenon.
Sorry but my mind is slipping a bit on whether the decay is a material thing or not. The atom is material, and the radiation, but I am not sure how to classify the decay. I was making an analogy to our aging. Is 'aging' a material thing, or more of an observation or something else?
So per physics, processes are physical things. Physics mostly deals with processes, and arguably all material objects are just as much processes as anything else. Atomic decay, aging, etc. are processes (of material things). And of course they're physical. Atomic decay, however, is not predictable (for a particular atom, at least), and it's not directly observable. So it wouldn't fit your "verification" requirement. But it would be very odd to say that it's not physical.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by gad-fly » January 15th, 2020, 1:58 am

Definition of God: The very first being that creates all other beings.
Definition of Reality: What we found around us to hold true.

Imagine we are all jigsaw puzzles. We see one another already assembled, piece by piece. Who has done it? We don't know, but there must be someone. What is the reality? Every thing is a jigsaw puzzle. Hence God must also be a jigsaw puzzle, right? If so, he must be have been assembled by someone. Therefore he cannot be the first being. He is only one among us.

What if he is not a jigsaw puzzle? What if he is not that reality that we hold true?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 15th, 2020, 7:36 am

Consul wrote:
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
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? 😋😉
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 15th, 2020, 7:47 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 2:05 pm
Regardless of what existence means, it is necessarily true that either x exists or x doesn't exist.
But if the truth or falsehood of a proposition cannot be determined, as in this case, then stating that it must be true or false is unhelpful. ... 🤔 ... No, it's not just unhelpful, it's wrong and misleading. In practice - i.e. outside of theory and ivory towers - a proposition that can neither be verified nor falsified is indeterminate, and not "true" or "false". This is a helpful and meaningful summary of our case, not a theoretical and misleading (because it is theoretical) one.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 15th, 2020, 7:51 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 3:08 pm
The claims that are made by God believers about God are...
Instead of claiming that others feel and think in a particular way - something you can't know, so must necessarily guess at (straw man alert!) - why don't you tell us what you think and feel, and why?
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 10:25 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
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.
This is the crux of our disagreement. You don't see logic as a set of objective and universal laws, but rather as something that depends on cognizance of the communicators. Obviously my asserting that "that's not how logic works" would be pointless. I would urge you to review what logic means, though, so that in the future we can use the word with a common understanding. In the interim, let's take the concept of universal objective laws that form the basis of all truth evaluation and couple it to a different word, for example terracity. So the terracity of a statement isn't subject to an individual's intellectual capacity. It either is the case or isn't, objectively. I'm willing to stick to that term if logic isn't the right fit. Is that cool with you?

Or is it the concept of objectivity in and of itself that is the issue here?
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 10:48 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 10:25 am

This is the crux of our disagreement. You don't see logic as a set of objective and universal laws, but rather as something that depends on cognizance of the communicators. Obviously my asserting that "that's not how logic works" would be pointless. I would urge you to review what logic means, though,
I'm just a couple years shy of having done this stuff (philosophy, philosophical logic, etc.) for 50 years.
so that in the future we can use the word with a common understanding. In the interim, let's take the concept of universal objective laws that form the basis of all truth evaluation and couple it to a different word, for example terracity. So the terracity of a statement isn't subject to an individual's intellectual capacity. It either is the case or isn't, objectively. I'm willing to stick to that term if logic isn't the right fit. Is that cool with you?
What I'd agree with is that there are objective facts. That is, objective states of affairs.

The problem is that the way you framed this topic, it was all about what people believe, what they feel, etc.:

"people who claim to believe that God exists "

"I have never met someone who argues that God exists and is simultaneously comfortable with God being in the category of things that exists."

So that's the perspective from which I addressed this.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 11:22 am

LuckyR wrote:
January 14th, 2020, 6:28 pm
Since the initial gods were not typically felt to be omniscient nor omnipotent, this fits quite nicely into an imagined meeting between stone agers and extraterrestrials. The simple fact that there is not a commonly used descriptor of a living being smarter than a human, says a lot about our inexperience with such beings.
Fair enough. The notion that extraterrestrial visitors with advanced technology/knowledge would be defined as God/gods creates no logical paradox.

The paradox I'm describing here isn't a logical one, per se, but rather it invariably creates an internal conflict in the one attempting to demonstrate the proof, whilst also believing that the proof is true, i.e., believing that God exists. The belief that God exists carries with it a significant emotional investment. 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.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 11:33 am

gad-fly wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 1:58 am
Definition of God: The very first being that creates all other beings.
Definition of Reality: What we found around us to hold true.

Imagine we are all jigsaw puzzles. We see one another already assembled, piece by piece. Who has done it? We don't know, but there must be someone. What is the reality? Every thing is a jigsaw puzzle. Hence God must also be a jigsaw puzzle, right? If so, he must be have been assembled by someone. Therefore he cannot be the first being. He is only one among us.

What if he is not a jigsaw puzzle? What if he is not that reality that we hold true?
Is this definition of God self contradictory under initial analysis? Defining God as outside the jigsaw puzzle (which you haven't done, I'm just speculatively expanding) doesn't exactly solve the problem, it merely puts God in a separate jigsaw puzzle, in which himself and the whole puzzle (as well as the table the puzzle rests on and the room the table is in) are parts. So the question we can ask is who created that puzzle?
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 15th, 2020, 11:52 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:47 am
But if the truth or falsehood of a proposition cannot be determined, as in this case, then stating that it must be true or false is unhelpful. ... 🤔 ... No, it's not just unhelpful, it's wrong and misleading. In practice - i.e. outside of theory and ivory towers - a proposition that can neither be verified nor falsified is indeterminate, and not "true" or "false". This is a helpful and meaningful summary of our case, not a theoretical and misleading (because it is theoretical) one.
Who's making the claim that the truth or falsehood of the proposition cannot be known? You? To state that YOU don't know if the proposition is true or false is a reasonable statement to make. But to say that it cannot be known is an absolute statement that requires you to have knowledge of the future. Is this your position?
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by anonymous66 » January 15th, 2020, 12:39 pm

I've come across the idea that God could be thought of in ways that allow that God is radically different from that which we can conceive. The definition would go something like this: God is the reason that everything exists, but the only things we can say about God is what God is not. In this way of thinking, God, by definition, is not a physical being. Some people acknowledge from that start that God doesn't exist- at least not like physical things and physical beings exist.

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