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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Prof Bulani
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 9:28 am

I want to mention @creation, a participant in this forum that believes God exists, but forgoes the conventional definitions of God, defining God as a duality of the universe (which exists) and the Mind (i.e., the collective of all knowledge that exists in the universe, some of which is captured in the human experience). Since no paradox arises in demonstrating that God, per this definition, actually exists, this may be an exception to the phenomenon this thread is addressing. Of course, this isn't in any way close to the popular definitions of God. But it's a definition nonetheless, and as such I'll work with it. Not personally, mind you, but as a counterexample to other proofs that God exists.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 16th, 2020, 9:36 am

Sculptor1 wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 6:07 am
There is no sarcasm, neither is there any ad hominems in Bulani's post.
By contrast - that is all that yours actually contains.
If we discuss matters by treating each other with mutual courtesy and respect, we might get somewhere. So let's take @Sculptor1's lead and run with it. πŸ™‚πŸ‘
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 16th, 2020, 9:44 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
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. ... πŸ€” ... 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?
There is no evidence - none at all - of God's existence, and no prospect of ever obtaining any. Without evidence there can be no analysis, or serious consideration of the matter, and therefore no conclusions can logically be drawn. So does God exist? This question can be answered only with (logically unfounded) belief, faith and/or opinion. Beyond this, no conclusion can be reached. The logical conclusion must be that the answer to the question is indeterminate; if there is an 'objective' answer, we cannot - and do not, and will never - know it.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 9:51 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
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.
With Aristotle, I'm not just taking your word for it that he initially posited a benevolent, etc. God and then later said that God isn't benevolent, etc. I'm not saying it's impossible for him to have said both things, but I don't recall that and you'd need to give me quotations or citations for both sides (God is benevolent/God is not benevolent, and so on)

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 9:57 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
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.
This is a side issue, but many theists would say that logic only exists insofar as God created it, and its exact nature is determined by, and could be altered by, God.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Sculptor1 » January 16th, 2020, 10:00 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
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.
All agreed. But I think you will find that Spinoza basically answered all these questions. However, he clearly offered his readers a version of God that few wanted to accept. One reason he was excommunicated by his own Jewish community.
Spinoza's god answers all the problems you outline, but necessarily defines god as a thing that has no care, nor, desire, cannot have a plan for you, love you or give any kind of damn about you since this all points to a weakness.
This is pretty much the reason why, despite him "proving" god's existence, is widely regarded as an atheist writing sub rosa (to appease others to preserve his own life).

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Sculptor1 » January 16th, 2020, 10:05 am

Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 9:57 am
This is a side issue, but many theists would say that logic only exists insofar as God created it, and its exact nature is determined by, and could be altered by, God.
So why would any god sustain a system of logic that acts to refute god's existence?

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 10:15 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
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.
So first, properties like omnipotence and omniscience aren't always defined in the same way.

Omniscience, for example, is often defined as God knowing everything that it's either possible to know or that it makes sense to know (so that, say, we're not committing a category error with respect to what knowledge is).

Other options include that God doesn't not exist temporally in anything like the manner that we do. So for the free will issue, for example, it's not that you're unable to make a choice, it's that God's relationship to time is different: God knows "all times" at once. It's not that he knows what you'll choose "before" you choose it. "Before" doesn't make sense for God.

With your comment about omnipotence, that someone is capable of doing something doesn't imply that they do that thing (unfortunately in many cases, including me doing chores). So there's nothing contradictory there. At least not without God taking the action he doesn't take.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 10:17 am

Sculptor1 wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 10:05 am
Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 9:57 am
This is a side issue, but many theists would say that logic only exists insofar as God created it, and its exact nature is determined by, and could be altered by, God.
So why would any god sustain a system of logic that acts to refute god's existence?
No religious believer would say that logic does this. They'd say that people who think it does either don't understand something about God, or something about logic, or they're making errors, etc.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 10:19 am

Oh, and I forgot in the second to last post above re omniscience that obviously some religious sects deny free will.

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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 10:46 am

Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 9:57 am
Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 9:16 am

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.
This is a side issue, but many theists would say that logic only exists insofar as God created it, and its exact nature is determined by, and could be altered by, God.
Considering that you're versed in the subject of logic and philosophy, I'm sure you would agree that this view of logic is not how logic works.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 10:49 am

Sculptor1 wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 10:00 am
All agreed. But I think you will find that Spinoza basically answered all these questions. However, he clearly offered his readers a version of God that few wanted to accept. One reason he was excommunicated by his own Jewish community.
Spinoza's god answers all the problems you outline, but necessarily defines god as a thing that has no care, nor, desire, cannot have a plan for you, love you or give any kind of damn about you since this all points to a weakness.
This is pretty much the reason why, despite him "proving" god's existence, is widely regarded as an atheist writing sub rosa (to appease others to preserve his own life).
You're doing my homework for me. Like Aristotle, this is another example of proving that God exists makes it necessary to abandon the definition of God that theists prefer in favor of a definition that make the existence of God possible.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 16th, 2020, 10:56 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 10:49 am
...this is another example of proving that God exists makes it necessary to abandon the definition of God that theists prefer...
And how do you, as an atheist (I presume) know what theists think or prefer? Surely it would be better to write what you know best: your own position. As an atheist, you can hardly be expected to present the theist's case sympathetically, can you? πŸ˜‰
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Prof Bulani » January 16th, 2020, 10:56 am

Pattern-chaser wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 9:44 am
There is no evidence - none at all - of God's existence, and no prospect of ever obtaining any. Without evidence there can be no analysis, or serious consideration of the matter, and therefore no conclusions can logically be drawn. So does God exist? This question can be answered only with (logically unfounded) belief, faith and/or opinion. Beyond this, no conclusion can be reached. The logical conclusion must be that the answer to the question is indeterminate; if there is an 'objective' answer, we cannot - and do not, and will never - know it.
Indeterminate means "it is not known". Do not interchange this with "it cannot be known". Your assertion that something cannot be known requires you to know all things, including future things. You don't. Your other assertions "no conclusions can be made", "will never know", etc, are likewise dismissed.
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Re: The "God exists" paradox

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 10:58 am

Prof Bulani wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 10:46 am
Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 9:57 am

This is a side issue, but many theists would say that logic only exists insofar as God created it, and its exact nature is determined by, and could be altered by, God.
Considering that you're versed in the subject of logic and philosophy, I'm sure you would agree that this view of logic is not how logic works.
Again, I'm an atheist, so I'm obviously not going to think that some god created logic.

But this is about what particular theists would believe.

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