God Does Not Explain

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God Does Not Explain

Postby Carleas » Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:17 pm

There seems to be the continued misconception that the God Hypothesis explains anything. Because of this, and because of recent and accurate criticisms that the arguments about god are too broad in scope, I'd like to focus on this. This thread is not about whether or not god exists, but rather about whether that really explains anything or answers any of our questions.

My basic argument is simple, and can be summed up in one sentence: God cannot explain what god is. If god is conscious, god cannot be used to explain consciousness. If god is loving, god cannot be used to explain love. And if god exists, god cannot be used to explain existence. My statement is a rejection of begging the question, limited to the specific case of god.
God is unique as a hypothesis, because it is intended as an ultimate origin, rather than a proximate origin. As an example, take a table that has been painted red. Someone asks "why is this table red?", and another answers "because the paint on the brush was red". This is a proximate explanation for the redness of the table. But if the question were "why is the paint on this table red?", the same answer is not sufficient. It is tantamount to saying "because the paint that was on the table ten seconds ago was red".
Similarly, if we ask "Where does consciousness come from", and we are answered "god (i.e. a conscious being)", we have just been told that the present day was painted by a brush with conscious paint, but not where the conscious paint came from. It is merely to push the explanation further back in time, or further removed from our context, without moving further back in understanding.
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Re: God Does Not Explain

Postby felix dakat » Wed Apr 18, 2007 3:00 pm

Carleas wrote:There seems to be the continued misconception that the God Hypothesis explains anything. Because of this, and because of recent and accurate criticisms that the arguments about god are too broad in scope, I'd like to focus on this. This thread is not about whether or not god exists, but rather about whether that really explains anything or answers any of our questions.

My basic argument is simple, and can be summed up in one sentence: God cannot explain what god is. If god is conscious, god cannot be used to explain consciousness. If god is loving, god cannot be used to explain love. And if god exists, god cannot be used to explain existence. My statement is a rejection of begging the question, limited to the specific case of god.
God is unique as a hypothesis, because it is intended as an ultimate origin, rather than a proximate origin. As an example, take a table that has been painted red. Someone asks "why is this table red?", and another answers "because the paint on the brush was red". This is a proximate explanation for the redness of the table. But if the question were "why is the paint on this table red?", the same answer is not sufficient. It is tantamount to saying "because the paint that was on the table ten seconds ago was red".
Similarly, if we ask "Where does consciousness come from", and we are answered "god (i.e. a conscious being)", we have just been told that the present day was painted by a brush with conscious paint, but not where the conscious paint came from. It is merely to push the explanation further back in time, or further removed from our context, without moving further back in understanding.


God is an ontological symbol. Religion is not science. Religion looks for a human connection with ultimate meaning. God is symbolized as the source and goal of all human concerns. God is not a hypothesis for scientific explanatory or predictive purposes.

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Postby Carleas » Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:16 pm

That may be true for your beliefs, but god is often presented as an explanation and treated as a scientific conjecture. The fact that the teleological argument exists for god is evidence that people attempt to use god to explain the origins of things. In fact, many arguments attempt to achieve a state where god is the only explanation left (including the unmoved-mover and uncaused-cause, which I'm sure you're familiar with).

Actually, this thread was prompted in two ways by things that Uccisore said in this thread. The first was the one I mentioned in my opening post, that there is a need for a narrower scope. The second was this, a clear claim that god is an explanation:

Uccisore wrote:To convince me that Christianity wasn't true, the skeptic would have to have a time-tested model of explaining the universe that validated most of the key elements of the human experience. It would have to do this to the exception of God- that is, explain them better than theism can do, and show that adding theism actually makes the explanation worse.
(emphasis mine)
In order to achieve that, one must establish how well theism explains. My argument is that it doesn't explain at all, and thus the addition of god complicates without elucidating, thereby making no explanation at all a better explanation than god.
However, the scope of this post is limited to god's explanitive power; further conclusions are not within our present purview.
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Postby felix dakat » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:53 pm

Carleas wrote:That may be true for your beliefs, but god is often presented as an explanation and treated as a scientific conjecture. The fact that the teleological argument exists for god is evidence that people attempt to use god to explain the origins of things. In fact, many arguments attempt to achieve a state where god is the only explanation left (including the unmoved-mover and uncaused-cause, which I'm sure you're familiar with).


When I refer to the unmoved mover or uncaused cause, I understand those term in a symbolic sense. I am pointing to the ultimate meaning of movement and cause. In terms of ultimate meaning, the end of the infinite regression of causes is in Cause Itself. This says nothing to explain how the first cause led to the second, etc. Religion is not science. The fundamentalists are making a categorical error when they intrude into science. Religion can draw upon science, philosophy and the arts as sources of sacred meaning. But religion should not substitute itself for those disciplines.

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Postby Carleas » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:02 pm

I think you are using an uncommon definition of 'religion,' and taken as such I agree with you. But I still maintain that most people who believe in god do so in order to explain things. For most, god is not a metaphor (or at least not entirely).
I also think you use an uncommon definition of god, one that does not necessitate (or perhaps even allow) personal characterization ('i]he[/i] is the creator'). Really, I don't think this post addresses your god, because your 'god' seems to be a placeholder for the acknowledged unknown. The god I address is an attempt at knowledge.
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Postby felix dakat » Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:39 pm

Carleas wrote:I think you are using an uncommon definition of 'religion,' and taken as such I agree with you. But I still maintain that most people who believe in god do so in order to explain things. For most, god is not a metaphor (or at least not entirely).
I also think you use an uncommon definition of god, one that does not necessitate (or perhaps even allow) personal characterization ('i]he[/i] is the creator'). Really, I don't think this post addresses your god, because your 'god' seems to be a placeholder for the acknowledged unknown. The god I address is an attempt at knowledge.


I don't think you would accept the definitions of science or logic of "most people" who believe in them would you? Religion involves a kind of knowledge via participation in the divine via ritual practices and sacraments. Prayer and meditation are two examples.

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Postby Carleas » Wed Apr 18, 2007 9:19 pm

It comes out sounding like the blind people and the elephant: Theists and Atheists are describing the same thing with different words. I don't think that's true, and it's certainly not functionally true (people sure act differently due to their beliefs).

But I'd like to stay on topic. If you're not asserting that god explains something, then my openning post doesn't address your concerns.
One point along those lines that I should have addressed is when you said "In terms of ultimate meaning, the end of the infinite regression of causes is in Cause Itself. This says nothing to explain how the first cause led to the second, etc." To call it 'god' also says nothing about why Cause exists, nor anything that helps us to better understand Cause. You may not have intended to give it any explanatory power, but I thought I should make that explicit.
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Postby Uccisore » Wed Apr 18, 2007 9:53 pm

I think God explains stuff, but I don't think that's the reason people believe in God, primarily. The concept of God isn't a hypothesis created to answer some questions, or if it is, it wasn't created by anybody I know, so it doesn't matter.
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Postby Carleas » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:55 pm

I don't see how who created the hypothesis affects the legitimacy of criticizing it. Most hypotheses were created by people I don't know, does that deprive me of my ability to consider their validity?
Anyway, I've laid out a case to say that god doesn't explain anything, and you seem to be unconvinced. What did I get wrong?
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God explaining himself

Postby menoncrack » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:33 pm

Does consciousness really exist? Does anything for that matter really exist? You want to test the idea of whether God (or the concept of God) explains everything...

Well, what everything are we talking about here. Firstly, prove to me that anything even exists so we can positively say that everything is. Prove to me without any assumption that consciousness even exists.

Prove to me that the belief in science is not a religion. It founds all of it's claims on assumptions, observations and ideas. Who said that an observation was proof of anything? Who is so rash as to say that if you see something then it must have been true? Who says that you are really having any thought of your own? Is a predictable reaction to a give action proof of anything? Perhaps it is as long as gravity remains constant and the air pressure is the same and the millions of conditions remain the same. Perhaps even a complicated algorithm can make a prediction 99.99999999% of the time...like a limit approaching 100%. But it is not 100% unless you decide that 100% is something other than what 100% is.

How can God explain himself to that which can not understand it? If we are capable of really understanding anything that is.

Perhaps, we are all trapped in a room we call the universe and perhaps God himself is not...how would you explain that to those who can not ever imagine anything outside the room?

Anyway, I'm sorry if I seem like I am on the attack... I am not. It is not my intention to attack anyone. I may be a bit passionate about this.

Regardless, it is a good question I think, but one that may not be answerable. It's a kin to the human mind really being aware that it is a human mind. Is it? I'm not conviced. What I am convinced of is a whole lot of illusion and people who are taking in a whole lot of illusion as it is were some kind of absolute reality (assuming we know what reality really is).

So, I suppose God does not explain everything to all people, therefore they created the word science which to others seems to justify the answers better because it (apparently) does not involve the concept of God. Personally, I see many windows in my house all looking at the same thing ---> Outside. Just with different viewing angles.

God, to me, explains just as much in a single word as the entire history of every branch of science. Perhaps it even explains more to me since the concept of God is at least conclusive within this Universe, whereas science will never be.

I am a fan of science, but I do not take pleasure in seperating it completely from the God possibility as many scientific people do. I also fail to see the conflict which exists between the two spheres of thought since I can quite harmoneously merge the two concepts. Some say this is paradoxical...yeah but so is the whole of the universe and the answers to things tend to be paradoxical. If you accept that the paradox exists then you no longer have a problem. To me it is a more natural way of thinking.

How many sides to a coin are there? One, two...perhaps three if you include the side of it (the width), may four with time thrown it, perhaps even more. The perspective is pretty important in this sort of thing.

How can there be solid ground that easily behaves like a liquid and is actually 99.99% empty space between atoms? How can there be an infinite number of smaller particles to particles that eventually will turn out to be nothing more than energy and possibly vibrations...How can there be matter when none actually exists?

You see, those who attack the God explaination in the name of science may like to remind themselves, that even though they seek the true answers to things, they also subscribe to a school of thought that changes its mind about as fast as people change underwear. That is quite paradoxical if you ask me...so we know nothing except what we collectively accept as being the truth. Everything we argue about. And since we basically argue about everything, I would put forth that we must know we little then.

If God explains everything to you...that is fine. If not then science might help you instead. If not, then try a blend of the two flavors and see if you prefer that. Otherwise you will need to invent a new way of thinking and see if you can get people on board that cult as well.
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Postby Carleas » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:55 pm

I'm not using scientific backing to make my case. I'm using logical backing. If you doubt our ability to reason, our ability to explain; if you doubt that we can productively discuss anything, I can't address that because that doubt doesn't allow itself to be changed.
If nothing explains anything, than god explains nothing, and that is exactly the conclusion I hope to defend.
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Postby Ingenium » Thu Apr 19, 2007 5:21 pm

Carleas wrote:There seems to be the continued misconception that the God Hypothesis explains anything.
God cannot explain what god is.


The God Hypothesis can explain things once one accepts it on faith as true, which is what one must do because it certainly can't explain god. Beyond that obvious problem, I'm skeptical that it's neither the only nor the best alternative explanation for things. Long before the Hebrew god was recognized, theologies were used to explain the unknown. As we advance in terms of our ability to explain how the world works, god hypotheses are weakened. They're further weakened because there are increasingly very interesting (and reasonable) theories explaining how god hypotheses came about in the first place and why people continue to maintain them. I'm referring to evolutionary explanations like human fitness and natural selection. Or group dynamics, societal cohesion and stability.
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Postby Uccisore » Thu Apr 19, 2007 5:55 pm

Carleas:

The reason who proposed the hypothesis is important, is that the posing of the hypothesis is made a part of the skeptical argument. If the skeptic says,
"It's clearly not justified to propose the existence of a Being like God to explain X, Y, Z", I do think it's important to point out that nobody criticized is doing the proposing. What they are actually doing is referring to a well-established, popularly believed explanation for X, Y, Z. For example, if I get a letter in the mail that says

"Here's 20 dollars for your birthday.
Love, Mom"

And I decide my mother sent me the letter, I am not "proposing the existence a mother in order to explain the letter", am I? Presumably I already believed in her, and that belief already served other well-established functions.
As far as what you got wrong, I think you might only be considering things likely to have naturalistic explanations to begin with. Science is a nice tool for a specific purpose, but it's a poor worldview. God explains things like why moral truths seem to be necessary truths, why the universe as a whole is asthetically (sp) pleasing, why it seems correct to place value on things, and enforce judgements that result from those values, the presence of free will, a whole assortment of every day experiences are easy to understand if God exists.
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Postby Ingenium » Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:56 pm

uccisore wrote:God explains things like why moral truths seem to be necessary truths, why the universe as a whole is asthetically (sp) pleasing, why it seems correct to place value on things, and enforce judgements that result from those values, the presence of free will.


There are alternative explanations for all of these things.

How does your anthropomorphized universe value things? By natural selection, perhaps? Is the universe actually God then?

Morality does not require a god to be explained or justified as necessary.

Why would a human being that springs from a universe not find the workings of said universe pleasing? (I'm not sure that all do, BTW, but it could be that humans evolved so that enough of us are capable of recognizing and accepting that which we can't change. Although we seem to have the potential to obliterate ourselves, so the jury is still out on that.)

Free will and God is just another futile exercise in regress.

...a whole assortment of every day experiences are easy to understand if God exists.


So God is the chosen explanation because it's the easiest?
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Postby Uccisore » Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:21 pm

Ingenium
There are alternative explanations for all of these things.


There's alternative explanations for everything. :)

How does your anthropomorphized universe value things? By natural selection, perhaps? Is the universe actually God then?


No, the Universe is in the midst of God, but it is not God. I would say that value is justified by the fact that the Universe was made by a Person, who had values and valued things in the Universe first.

Morality does not require a god to be explained or justified as necessary.


Other explanations exist, but I haven't seen a non-theistic one that works very well.


Why would a human being that springs from a universe not find the workings of said universe pleasing?


Well, my answer for why the universe seems beautiful is that it was created by Someone who intended it to be beautful, and we have things in common with that Creator, and so see it the same way to some extent. If your answer is "Well, why not?", then I'll have to say I prefer mine. It certainly seems plausible to me that the universe, big and empty as it is, could on the whole appear horrific and terrible to us.

Free will and God is just another futile exercise in regress.


Sounds like you have some sort of logical argument in mind. You going to try to stick the landing? :)

So God is the chosen explanation because it's the easiest?


What I said was, God makes it easy to understand these things. So yes, an explantion that makes difficult things easy to understand (simple) is a good explanation to choose, that's right. Don't equivocate on 'easy' on me now, and bring in psychology.
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Postby phawkins1988 » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:05 pm

Ingenium, instead of just stating that there are better explanations, or whatever, perhaps you would like to present an argument. For example, you claim that there are non-theistic theories that can explain why moral 'truths' appear to be necessary, and that they do so better than a theistic model. Incidentally, I agree with you. But, given that this is a philosophy website, it's probably best that you give some arguments.
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Postby Carleas » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:37 pm

Ingenium, I disagree that, even when accept on faith, the God Hypothesis explains anything. It may end inquiry, but it does not increase understanding. I don't say that because I believe the God Hypothesis to be false: rather, even if the God Hypothesis is correct, the questions that remain are at best isomorphic to the questions that preceded it.

Uccisore, I think that your first point is also answered by what I said in my response to Ingenium: I'm not arguing that you can't propose it, but that whether or not you hold the God Hypothesis true, the questions that you cannot answer are at best isomorphic. I'm not criticizing anyone, I'm pointing out that the belief does not explain anything more than saying "I don't know". Which, I'm glad to note, you have argued against. to the meat!
You say that value is derived from god valuing things. In the abscence of god, value is derived from people who are not god valuing things. So, you have a parallel question for each system: How does a person's valuing something instill that thing with value. Basically, why is god valuing something more relevant than you or I valuing it?
You say that god created the universe to be beautiful. Here, the question that remains is not as similarly phrased, but is still isomorphic to the question raised in a godless universe: 'Why did god want the universe to be beautiful?' The isomporphism is revealed if we dress a godless universe in theistic garb, and rephrase the initial question so: 'Why did the universe want the universe to be beautiful?' The question is just as valid, as it similarly attributes human emotion to something that is not human, in the word 'want'.
You say that god explains why moral truths seem necessary. I assume you mean that god's creation of the moral truths makes them necesary (please expand if I'm wrong). But at least one equally problematic question still remains: Why did god create the moral laws he created? And a further question one might ask is, if punishment and reward are the only reasons to do good, is there actually a necessary morality involved? I can choose to suffer pain, even eternal pain, to do something I deem right and god deems wrong.

More generally, I don't see that a cosmic personality can explain anything. It puts all the individual questions (why do I have free will?) into a single, huge, and isomorphic question (why does god have free will?), but this transfer does not legitimately explain anything.

(By the by, can we not side-track this topic with a free-will debate? I think this is important water to tread, and I don't want it to get lost in such a sea.)
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Postby Uccisore » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:29 pm

Carleas
You say that value is derived from god valuing things. In the abscence of god, value is derived from people who are not god valuing things. So, you have a parallel question for each system: How does a person's valuing something instill that thing with value. Basically, why is god valuing something more relevant than you or I valuing it?


Well, the trick there is to remember that God is not 'one of us'. That is to say, part of the experience of value (I hope you agree) is that values are bigger than us. That is, if I decide a mountain or a baby or a painting is valuable, I am saying something more than "I think it's cool". To the extent that we sense* value exists beyond people pointing it out, we need something beyond a person to account for this, which would be God. We may ask why God values this and not that, I suppose, but it does answer the question of values having a 'beyondness' in our experience- and we have no reason to believe that God has that experience of beyondness, so we don't have to account for it in Him.

You say that god created the universe to be beautiful. Here, the question that remains is not as similarly phrased, but is still isomorphic to the question raised in a godless universe: 'Why did god want the universe to be beautiful?'


Again, it comes to the issue of beyondness, which is not isomorphic at all. I may have phrased my opening post badly. If we sense that beauty is more than you and I stating that something is beautiful, we need a reference beyond ourselves, which is somehow still capable of registering beauty. The question of why God finds this or that to be beautiful would be something else.

The isomporphism is revealed if we dress a godless universe in theistic garb, and rephrase the initial question so: 'Why did the universe want the universe to be beautiful?'


Here I disagree pretty strongly- it is precisely that God is a Person capable of conceptualizing Beauty that makes the theistic response a good one, and different than saying the universe wants to be beautiful in itself.
You say that god explains why moral truths seem necessary. I assume you mean that god's creation of the moral truths makes them necesary (please expand if I'm wrong).


The moral issue Re: God is a complicated and I hope I don't have to get into it, it might derail your thread. But I will say this, it mirrors the above arguments. Many philosophers (and most regular people) have the sense that if everybody on earth decided that killing children for fun was morally right, it would not make the act right, rather it would just mean that everybody on earth was wrong. God explains very well how moral truths can overrule what anyone or everyone thinks about morals. It is that sense of morals overruling us that I mean when I say they are necessary.

But at least one equally problematic question still remains: Why did god create the moral laws he created?


I don't think He created moral laws, exactly. Like I said, I think I can answer this kind of question very well, but it's quite a detour.

*- You'll see me referring to what we 'sense' quite often, as opposed to what is true. The reason is this- materialism can account for these senses, and further, it accounts for them by saying they are mistaken. A key point of my argument is that a system that justifies as many universal intuitions as possible is simpler and preferable to a system that we are all subject to many inescapable illusions.
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Postby Ingenium » Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:03 pm

Carleas wrote:Ingenium, I disagree that, even when accept on faith, the God Hypothesis explains anything. It may end inquiry, but it does not increase understanding.

I agree with you. I meant that it explains things to the faithful. Of course it doesn't increase understanding. When people believed that the gods were responsible for the weather, it was an explanation, even though it had nothing to do with why it rains. IMO, as science has come up with explanations for things formerly in the realm of the gods, we've just modified what we believe about the gods or just flat out denied science.

phawkins1988 wrote:Ingenium, instead of just stating that there are better explanations, or whatever, perhaps you would like to present an argument. For example, you claim that there are non-theistic theories that can explain why moral 'truths' appear to be necessary, and that they do so better than a theistic model. Incidentally, I agree with you. But, given that this is a philosophy website, it's probably best that you give some arguments.

I was responding to Uccisore, with whom I shared some explanations on another thread, but I can take it further. There appear to be universal moral norms, including social responsibility, obedience to authority, solidarity and reciprocity, all arising from our grouping behavior and social strucures. Some of the reasons for certain behaviors are hierarchical/peer relationships or reward/punishment or gaining resources or fostering fitness-enhancing relationships (increasing the chances of surviving, reproducing and propagating one's genes). With a few notable exceptions, humans somehow collectively renounce their chaotic impulses in order to coexist. We collectively make rules to enhance cooperation and further stability; we penalize members of the group who violate the rules. We indoctrinate our children with these rules and introduce to them a reward/punishment model similar to that of society. "Moral" behavior such as mutual trust allows us to function and get resources, there arise conventions that regulate our dealings with each other and we depend upon each other to abide by them.

Evolutionary theorists offer up that 'survival of the fittest' doesn't always explain certain altruistic behaviors, such as risking oneself to save another from danger. Our brains are shaped by environmental experience so biology could very well set us up to be moral in fundamental ways. Like the way we protect our young. Altruistic behaviors have been observed in animals, not just humans. It may be that there is a biological basis for such 'morality' as taking a risk to save somebody, if it's perceived that there's a benefit (and even if an animal doesn't know that) in that the savior is preserving the chances that his saving behavior will be reciprocated at some point in the future. Humans have developed social learning mechanisms that are adaptions which allow us to infer the reactions of others to our behaviors. Darwin offered the "love of praise and dread of blame" as a basis for the evolution of morality. As well, there's the theory that the ability to make and share moral judgments induces other to behave in ways that foster our own interests.

Dawkins posits that "memes" (ideas and groups of related ideas) behave like genes, replicating across human brains the way genes do across bodies. Perhaps cultural or behavioral memes satisfy human needs, such as the need to value life, without a biologically pre-determined basis.
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Postby Uccisore » Fri Apr 20, 2007 11:52 pm

Carleas,

Ingenium's description of what materialism has to do to morality is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.
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Re: God Does Not Explain

Postby my real name » Sat Apr 21, 2007 1:59 am

Carleas wrote:There seems to be the continued misconception that the God Hypothesis explains anything. Because of this, and because of recent and accurate criticisms that the arguments about god are too broad in scope, I'd like to focus on this. This thread is not about whether or not god exists, but rather about whether that really explains anything or answers any of our questions.

My basic argument is simple, and can be summed up in one sentence: God cannot explain what god is. If god is conscious, god cannot be used to explain consciousness. If god is loving, god cannot be used to explain love. And if god exists, god cannot be used to explain existence. My statement is a rejection of begging the question, limited to the specific case of god.
God is unique as a hypothesis, because it is intended as an ultimate origin, rather than a proximate origin. As an example, take a table that has been painted red. Someone asks "why is this table red?", and another answers "because the paint on the brush was red". This is a proximate explanation for the redness of the table. But if the question were "why is the paint on this table red?", the same answer is not sufficient. It is tantamount to saying "because the paint that was on the table ten seconds ago was red".
Similarly, if we ask "Where does consciousness come from", and we are answered "god (i.e. a conscious being)", we have just been told that the present day was painted by a brush with conscious paint, but not where the conscious paint came from. It is merely to push the explanation further back in time, or further removed from our context, without moving further back in understanding.


Actually, the God hypothesis takes us away from created, contingent being and asks us to think of things as having a source which has those things in a higher way. He is not just conscious, but the source of consciousness. Not just loving, but love itself. This is interesting further because if you could define what these things are, it seems to me you could learn more about God.

In your paint example, he created the paint and is the painter. Here I leave the metaphor, since God is not physically red -- but then redness is physical wavelengths, and he can create the wavelengths. In a way like this the redness does come from Him too. But as a spirit, I think spiritual qualities could/would come from Him more directly.

Any more questions?
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Postby felix dakat » Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:55 pm

Carleas wrote:It comes out sounding like the blind people and the elephant: Theists and Atheists are describing the same thing with different words. I don't think that's true, and it's certainly not functionally true (people sure act differently due to their beliefs).

But I'd like to stay on topic. If you're not asserting that god explains something, then my openning post doesn't address your concerns.
One point along those lines that I should have addressed is when you said "In terms of ultimate meaning, the end of the infinite regression of causes is in Cause Itself. This says nothing to explain how the first cause led to the second, etc." To call it 'god' also says nothing about why Cause exists, nor anything that helps us to better understand Cause. You may not have intended to give it any explanatory power, but I thought I should make that explicit.


Isn’t communicative discourse always like the blind men and the elephant? How can it be otherwise when we each bring our subjectivity to the object of discourse? I agree that people act differently based on their beliefs. Isn’t that a reflection of our subjectivity acted out in the world? Neither science nor logic explain our subjective personhood.

Subjectivity enters discourse explicitly in "I " statements like "I'd like to stay on the topic" or "I thought..." But it is implicit in every word. If science or logic explain anything, nevertheless they do not explain how the "First Cause" leads to the second. But inter-subjective discourse provides a clue. I understanding that there is a person behind the words I see posted beside the name “Carleas.” Using a similar inferential method, I understand that there is “a person” behind the universe. That understanding opens up a the possibility of what Buber called "an I-thou relationship", an intersubjective relationship with the creator. This personal connection with the ultimate source of meaning satisfies a human need that is widely if not universally felt.

I don't think the ancients were unaware that they did not understand the mechanism of the First Cause . What they bring to the discussion is a means of "understanding" through analogy to the human creative act. How does subjectivity ever become object? Only through the creative act. How do we know that any subjectivity but our own exists? Only by inference. Does subjectivity add anything to our understanding of the world? Without a doubt, since it makes understanding the world possible. Does recognition of the subjective creator in her creative works add to the explanation of the works themselves? Undoubtably.

If I understand that the Mona Lisa is the out-working of the subjective vision of Leonardo DaVinci I have a much better understanding than if I see it only as so much paint applied to a canvass. Without intersubjectivity, the portrait is meaningless. The analogy of our creative act to the "first" creative act provides understanding in a way that science and logic have not. Through this kind of understanding I can maintain an inner dialogue with the being of beings.

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Postby Leda » Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:47 am

Felix, is that really *understanding* or is it a desire to find meaning? You seem to be saying things are richer and more meaningful if there is a creator behind them...this may well work for you, however, it doesn't make it True. The Mona lisa is amazing, we know it had a creator and my understanding of the painting is enriched by that...the world is amazing therefore I'll infer the world had a creator as my understanding will be enriched...??

That's not to say there isn't a creator, just that we cant know if there is, or what or who that creator might be should there be one. By what right should we assign God to human analogy? I cant see how positing a creative artist and calling it God can really enrich our understanding, I think it's rather an illusion of understanding.

I completely agree with Carleas that God cant explain anything...giving God attributes like 'love' and 'goodness' is a human imposition and if we use him as a *placeholder for the unknown*[I like that!], we are still left with the universal mysteries.
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Postby felix dakat » Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:16 am

Leda wrote:Felix, is that really *understanding* or is it a desire to find meaning? You seem to be saying things are richer and more meaningful if there is a creator behind them...this may well work for you, however, it doesn't make it True. The Mona lisa is amazing, we know it had a creator and my understanding of the painting is enriched by that...the world is amazing therefore I'll infer the world had a creator as my understanding will be enriched...??

That's not to say there isn't a creator, just that we cant know if there is, or what or who that creator might be should there be one. By what right should we assign God to human analogy? I cant see how positing a creative artist and calling it God can really enrich our understanding, I think it's rather an illusion of understanding.

I completely agree with Carleas that God cant explain anything...giving God attributes like 'love' and 'goodness' is a human imposition and if we use him as a *placeholder for the unknown*[I like that!], we are still left with the universal mysteries.


My conversation with you is richer and , more meaningful if I understand that behind the words printed next to "Leda" is a person, i.e. a subjective centered world different than but not totally unlike the subjective world that is my reality. Neither science nor logic explain to me what subjectivity is or how it is possible. Intersubjectivity has been described as an I-You relationship. The I-You dialogue adds another dimension of understanding to the world. Science describes the I-It relationship but not the I-You relationship. Through religion, a believer enters into an I-You relationship with life.

Stated a different way, all human experience is shaped, and constituted by cultural and linguistic systems. Science is one cultural-linguistic system, religion is another. Neither system is necessarily superior to the other. They just satisfy different human needs.
Last edited by felix dakat on Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Uccisore » Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:25 am

Leda
Felix, is that really *understanding* or is it a desire to find meaning? You seem to be saying things are richer and more meaningful if there is a creator behind them...this may well work for you, however, it doesn't make it True.



To the contrary. If there are things in this life we find to be rich and meaningful, an explanation that justifies and positively explains that experience is simpler than an explanation that passes it off as an illusion. If we naturally believe "the universe is meaningful", then an explanation of the universe that explains that meaning is simpler than an explanation of the universe that denies that meaning, and has to in turn propose a mechanism for the illusion.

I completely agree with Carleas that God cant explain anything...giving God attributes like 'love' and 'goodness' is a human imposition and if we use him as a *placeholder for the unknown*[I like that!], we are still left with the universal mysteries.


The is the proper position of the believer prior to the advent of Christ. Sometimes I think mystics are still back there.
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