God: Does He/She/It exist

Normally I would not be suggesting this as a topic Religion and politics are the two areas to avoid if we want to avoid discomfort,

However, we have already ignored the politics rule so I’m prepared to discuss religion.

I have also raised the subject in passing and at least two of our community appear to to want to explore it further.

Remember that the site rules “Do not be a dick”

As a moderator I will close this discussion if anybody is being offencive and I am sure @sil, @jonobacon and @joe would too. But I am not looking for a blanket approval of my views. Show respect, tell me why I am an idiot, or why I am right and the rest of the world is wrong,

I would be vary wary about suggesting this on most forums as this can easily become a reason for a flame war but I feel we can handle it with the respect it deserves.

Thoughts?

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Normally I would not be suggesting this as a topic Religion and politics are the two areas to avoid if we want to avoid discomfort

I think these are considered sensitive topics exactly because we avoid the discussions in the first place. The more you open up to a topic, the more comfortable you become with what you know or don’t know/believe, and the less shocking it is to hear why you are “wrong”.

To the original question, does God (or do gods) exist, my answer is: only in people’s imagination. To me God(s) exist as much as Santa Clause, Superman or any other fictional characters. Why “fictional”? Because nothing in our modern world points to the existence of an omnipotent supernatural being. What can’t be proven today through empirical evidence or peer-reviewed scientific theories, serve as quests for scientists of tomorrow.

Yet, the church provides a powerful machine for maintaining the belief in God – IMO for quite obvious, and earthly, reasons. Before AI overlords take over, as long as there are human beings at the helm, money and power will be the driving forces, even for a holier than holy church. Population/mind control (conspiracy gasp!) is easier when many of the yet-resolved questions of life’s fuckery on Earth can be brushed off with “God works in mysterious ways.”

If you grow up in religious surroundings, there are few triggers to truly question anything in your belief system. Just based on our biology, for good reasons, it takes a quite a long time just to question our own parents, let alone an ordained authority claiming direct connection to God. Unless there is a disruption in your life – a move to a completely new location with new people and new mindsets, a significant life event (illness/death…) etc etc. – our nature in general is to maintain a status quo. I do not claim, however, this belief to be irrelevant or insignificant (after all Santa gives me presents and Superman is just a badass dude :slight_smile: ), but I do see belief in an imaginary being dangerous. When said belief leads to passing laws, following of certain “morals” etc., you arbitrarily isolate segments of the (global) population who do not share your belief, thus making the world as a whole a more miserable place to live for all of its occupants.

Representing as per Matthew 10:33 …but I’m pretty shit at being a Christian so that’s the bare minimum effort for ya. There you go.

Lots of atheists are pretty terrible at being atheists, so I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself :slight_smile: See this book “How to be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough”: https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Atheist-Skeptics-Skeptical-Enough-x/dp/1433542986/ref=sr_1_1

Gerv

Sounds a decent read, thank-you.

Saw this recently and realized that the g_word was the hardest button to button.

perhaps you’ll sew buttons ?

I do want to express my firm conviction that a person does have a right to believe what he wants to. Too many forces in this world wants to change that, and that brings nothing but harm.

How did I come to the conclusion that there is a creator? There are many aspects to that conclusion, but I’ll just focus on one… Science. Yes, science helped me tremendously to come to that conclusion.

First, being in the science classes way back in the school days, it was taught that life came about, from non-living material, solely by natural forces. It is a fact. The pages of the text made it clear. So, I thought, that should be a slam dunk, eh? But, being one who loves science, I started looking for data. It should be there in abundance since the texts I was reading made it so clear. I learned that there has been experimentation on that very matter. Tests being done for decades now. What has been the result? There isn’t any empirical data to show that a living organism can come into being though natural forces. None. That explains why there are so many opinions as to how it all happened. So, I came to the conclusion that this “fact” is actually a belief.

Then, I came to notice that many aspects of our universe seems to be ‘fine tuned’ for life. Natural forces, such as the electromagnetic force, strong and weak atomic forces, for example, are ‘just right.’ If these forces were just the tiniest fraction of a percent stronger or weaker, life would be impossible. Even atoms would be impossible. That is just one example and I’m not going to bore you with more. There are a growing number of professionals in the fields of biology, micro-biology, physics, chemistry, astro-physics that are looking at their work and concluding that there is no way that it could have just happened.

Science is not a democracy. The point I’m making is that I realized that the origin of life comes down to beliefs. And if a person wants to believe that life came about only from natural forces, I will vigorously defend the right of that person to believe that. I also realize that it cannot be both ways. Either life, the universe and everything, yes, even the number 42, was created, or it came about solely by natural forces.

There is much, much more to my belief in a creator. I’d be happy to discuss it more, but am afraid I’ve either bored you enough or maybe made your blood pressure rise markedly! And I’m old enough to have become quite settled with myself, so if your opinion is that I’m an idiot, you might find that I just might agree and am fine with it! :smile:

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Firstly I want to make it clear that I do not think you are an idiot and as long as people have a faith because they thought about it for themselves and come to that conclusion I have no problem with that. I do have some issues however when people blindly follow teachings without question. Here I am not just talking religion but any such teachings such as politics.

I’ll start by admitting that I can’t prove the non-existence of God just as You can’t prove God exists, nobody can. My argument then goes along the lines of:

Can a universe exist if there is no God? If it can then does it make more sense for there to be a God than not? Do we believe that the universe is deterministic in the sense that things always follow clear laws, even if we don’t understand fully what those laws are yet, if it his what do we need a god for now?

It is true that we have not been able to create life in the laboratory or see it spontaneously appear. It may be that we actually have but failed to recognize it. We a pretty sure that, on earth at least, this as only happened once based on our understanding of biology and that all the forms of life we know about are related.

It is possible that life has started more than once but be totally destroyed so there is no evidence in the fossil record or that there is life around today that we don’t recognise because its too different from our concept of life. This total speculation on my part there is no evidence to suggest life appearing more than once.

We do know however that life has been on this planet almost from the beginning though we can’t be sure it started here and its perfectly possible that it came from outer space. We also know that it is relatively easy to create some of the basic building blocks of life.

Now I fully understand that creating life is hard but it only needed to happen once and we have plenty of evidence to understand how life can diversify and evolve.

Your argument here is similar to Aristotle’s argument from first cause by arguing that life is too complicated to have just happened so God must have done it. The problem here is of course if life needed a creator god must have needed on too which ends up for me a circular and unsatisfactory argument.

The best model we have is that we don’t have a single universe but a multi-verse. This is very difficult for us to test directly but the mathematical model of string theory make some testable predictions that only work in a universe with a lot more than 3 dimensions of space and one of time. It may be that these freeze out into an infinite number of universes. Most of these will have natural forces that are just right so life can never form and it may even be impossible for atoms to form. It only takes one with the just right conditions for life to form however. It is only because or universe is just right that we are here to see it and so we shouldn’t be surprised its tuned to suit us.

I could easily go on further here but this post is already quite long. I am happy to expand on these arguments if anybody wants me to.

I was just relating why I believe in a creator. I’m not very comfortable as to trying to prove someone else is wrong. If my reasoning causes someone to think on their own position, then fine. Philosophy is too much for me and my puny head! But the point that I still insist on is that life appearing only by means natural forces is a belief. And so is the multi-universe. Both lack observable data, but yet are insisted as to be reality. One can do very cool and interesting things with mathematics, but, for me, it’s not a reality until observed. I could go on as to my theories as to why these beliefs appeared, but that would really waste our time and could be potentially insulting, something else I’m not comfortable with.

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I am not arguing that spontaneous creation of life is anything other than a belief since we have not seen it happen.

For me though this does not instantly require us to invoke God.

I had to point out the gaps in your argument because I want to encourage critical thinking so we each make our own minds up

If you don’t find my argument convincing I’m fine with that. I am not telling anyone not to believe. I may be wrong here and for you a creator god makes more sense I am fine with that too.

I certainly don’t want us to reach the point where we start insulting each other. I value you far to much for that.

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Gaps? Or chasms? I tend to do that you know.

To continue my thoughts. I’m needing to research to see if I am the source of ‘fuzzy logic’, for my logic does get so fuzzy at times. But, since what has been actually observed is that life comes from life, my thoughts go to what is probably, to many, a tired out illustration. To say that Steve Jobs was walking by a hill that had some very intense electrical activity and found, on a pile of various elements, a Macbook Pro complete with OSX, an office suite, Safari, etc. etc. and that is how the Macbook was introduced. What a bunch of malarkey, right? However, I’m to swallow that a living organism, which complexity would make that laptop look like a chunk of rock, is suppose to happen spontaneously? I fail to see the logic there.

I’m not concerned about intentional insults, but rather that some conclusions or even conjectures I’ve come up with might be insulting. An example is that I was reading, years ago so I cannot give references, of a man that was saying something to the effect that life just had to evolve because he was not comfortable with the alternative. That would bring me to a thought process of motivations. And, when it comes to trying to assign motivations, or sharing my wanderings about motivations, I’m getting out of my comfort zone.

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And to continue.

There have been decades of research into attempts, by mutations, to make a species turn into a different species. (sorry, I’m brain dead tonight and my wording seems worse than usual) This being an attempt to bring empirical data about mutations. Now, what actual data is shown that this can happen? None. Yes mutations would occur, but, in the end, it would still be the same species. And then, when introduced to specimens that were not mutated, the mutations would then disappear in a matter of several generations. DNA does seem to be very stable. So, again, that one species can mutate, evolve, into another is a belief. One may point to the fossil record, but there, really, isn’t that a matter of interpretation?

Now, does life have the ability to adapt? Amazingly so. I find it fascinating. But there isn’t any actual data to show that a species adapts into an entirely different one.

Again, I’m, just showing my thought processes as to why I’m being very skeptical of evolution and finding that a creator does fit the circumstances nicely.

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Tee hee, I have a feeling that book may end up being a guilty pleasure for me :wink:

Actually, I try my best not to engage glib or ‘for sport’ atheists anyhow. I just let them do their thing (and a lot of people would argue that’s not what I should be doing as a Christian in these times, thus I say I’m pretty shit at it ).

At the end of the day though, Jesus said he wants to be accepted in our hearts. Honestly pondering things is a good first step towards acceptance. Blind obedience for no reason other than you’ve been told to is not true acceptance. I think a lot of people, and some churches too, miss that point. Once one (on either side of ‘the debate’) gets bored of simply regurgitating … they ponder :slight_smile:

Y’know what’s a real trip? Read The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. The whole time I read it I was thinking to myself “Gee…, this sounds familiar!”

If empirical evidence is all you will accept, then clearly you will not find any evidence of a supernatural being, because a supernatural being, by definition, is “super-natural” - that is to say, can do things which do not conform to the normal rules. If all such things are ruled out of court before you start, then your conclusions are obviously going to reflect your premises, but you haven’t proved anything.

But also, thinking about things this way puts you and God in the wrong places. Let’s postulate for a moment he does exist. Saying “God, I need you to provide evidence to prove to me you exist” is putting you in the judge’s seat and God in the dock. If he truly is omnipotent, omniscient, the all-powerful and all-good creator of you and everything else, that is an act of staggering presumption. So again, this way of thinking of things biases you to come to the conclusion that he doesn’t exist, because if he does, you’re in trouble.

Instead, why not read one of the gospels and humbly ask God to reveal himself to you? Jesus said: “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

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Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to not just limit the readings to gospels, and instead read all material that is to be claimed holy, or the “truth”, and not just the Bible? This way, in the search of supernatural ruler(s), be it a god, many gods, or something else, I increase the odds of finding it/one/them?

I must admit, I haven’t read the Bible cover to cover, but I am somewhat familiar with it. I grew up in Finland, where religion, including Christianity is taught in school, as one of the world’s religions. I’ve had many a discussion with friends and coworkers of their various religious beliefs. I’ve read articles and seen documentaries regarding how the Bible and other holy books came to existence. While I do find it thoroughly impressive that a book – well, more the story – like the Bible has survived millenia, nothing in it jumps out as being a source for any answers of life, universe or our existence I may have. If you look at the state of affairs on planet Earth, climate change, wars, famine, child abuse, molestation, rape, murder etc etc, you think there’d be plenty of opportunities for a supernatural being to prove its existence, without me ever opening any of the holy books. You may call this presumptuous; if God existed, I’d call it a dick move.

I do however find many things readers/followers take from the Bible, and other books claiming to tell the truth, or more specifically the practical application of the message, somewhat disturbing. Considering what we know today about ourselves, and the complex world we live in, I find it troubling that the majority of the population on Earth subscribe to some belief system that assumes the supernatural, putting one’s religion-based worldview, and more importantly, your fellow human beings at odds in almost every turn. As a good Christian, even if you wouldn’t truly accept other religious beliefs (how could you?), or lack thereof, you certainly wouldn’t wage war because of it. But in the end, you’d still insist you have exclusive rights to a gated place, based on your belief. Everyone could get that pass though, as long as they join the same club.

One very compelling statement is:

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.–Supposedly said by Benjamin Franklin

:smile:

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I have found the Bible answers everything for me, but then, I am pretty simple. Would you like to give an example of a question, or would you consider that a waste of your time and mine? Please keep in mind, I really am not looking for a debate. I’m just willing to share what I have learned.

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Sure.

Why don’t more people “shop around” for a religion? In every religion there are a few who’ve swapped sides (how can this be, there’s only one “true” one?), but in general, you experience your religion and faith at home from birth and don’t really have an option. But once you are older (wiser?) why not study, even try out perhaps, all of the options before locking in one particular, why isn’t this the standard process for most? If the purpose is to guarantee peace of mind for tomorrow and access to pleasant everlasting afterlife, surely one should play the field so to speak?

And trying to keep this as lighthearted as possible as well; and no waste of time at all, it’s 9 am here and you don’t see me working!

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I completely understand that you would have such questions being that, as an atheist, then what’s the difference anyway? However, if one does believe that there is a creator, a God, then would logic say he, God, would change his views, his thinking, to conform to the conflicting views among his creation? Say a man has three children. What kind of father would tell one child that he hates blue, don’t ever get him any clothing with blue, the next child gives him a blue shirt and he goes on about how blue is his favorite color and just loves that shirt, then to the next child he expresses how he wishes he didn’t have to wear clothes at all? Would that make sense, or even be loving considering the dissension that could come between his children?

So, it comes to finding the signal in all the noise. And the most I can do for you is to share the results of the research I’ve done.

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kerneloops: your proposed method of choosing assumes there is a “neutral ground” on which you can stand while you assess all the possibilities in a disinterested fashion, and then jumping to the one which you find most appealing. But in truth, there is no such thing as neutral ground. If Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, there is not one square inch of the entire cosmos at which he cannot point and say “mine!”. You cannot be neutral about his Lordship - either you start by assuming it or you start by not assuming it, and your conclusions will reflect your premises.

The Bible teaches in Romans 1 that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” People are not neutral when it comes to God; by default and by nature they suppress the truth about him which is clearly seen in creation. So your “neutral shopper” is not neutral at all and, without the help of the Holy Spirit, cannot choose what is right. They will choose whatever option appeals most to them - and it won’t be the sacrificial service of the Christian life.

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