User talk:Egregious

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Philosophy Discussion

By accident, this page became the home of a philosophical discussion. Feel free to contribute.--Egregious 11:59, 15 August 2006 (CEST)

Kant, Human Progress, Ethics

With all due respect, does it matter what Kant would say? He was a great thinker, but if our personal philosophies are derivitive from great thinkers and dont consist of our own personal exegesis and thought, then they arent that much. Its easy to develop an amazing command of language and go read the great thinkers and take their ideas. What is amazing is taking the great thinkers, and building on their shoulders. lol, sry, for the rant, but its rare I find another person interested in this sort of thing. My friends just give me weird looks when I get on my rants. ;) Vellos 17:28, 10 August 2006 (CEST)

I personally find it difficult to believe that personal philosophy can be anything but derivative (ex nihilo nihil fit); the best that can be managed is to avoid becoming so dependant on one particular thinker that we adopt his or her mistakes entirely [with some exceptions: for example, if the Nicene claims about Jesus' identity are correct then Christians are justified in becoming entirely dependant on his thought - although not in ignoring all other ideas].

Besides, Kant's name carries more weight than mine.

It doesn't really matter what Kant would say about Vatticus' cult. Many things matter a great deal more; one of the myriad of possible examples would be this: or even this: --Egregious 17:56, 10 August 2006 (CEST)

lol, ya know, I'm really starting to like you. You're right that all philosophies are at least somewhat derivitive. Even if the Christian claims are true(which, for the record, I believe they are), Christ's theology was somewhat derivitive. He often agreed with his contemporary Jewish teachers(such as Gamiliel, sp?) on various matters, though he always had something to add. My point was that, instead of, say, taking the ideas of all the philosophers and sticking them together, we should stand on the shoulders of the giants, reaching new heights. If modern philosophy consist of nothing more than recycled past ideas, its an awfully weak thing. If past ideas and traditions are all we have, we have very little. Does that mean past ideas are less true? No, they may well be true. But knowing what we do about them, we can surely surpass them, growing more towards the point they expressed. To effectively stand on the shoulders of another person, even a giant, one must form a human pyramid, and all pyramids come to a point. ;) And now my love of Chesterton has revealed itself! lol Vellos 21:51, 11 August 2006 (CEST)

[Have you read The Man Who Was Thursday? It's the only Chesterton I've read properly ('though I've heard Orthodoxy is pretty good) - and I read it because of Deus Ex - the one time my gaming has helped my reading - but I did think it was rather good. So many books, so little time . . .]

I suppose I'm sceptical about the idea of philosophical progress for four reasons:

  • I'm sceptical about most things because I've been infected because I studied Hume for a year. (One of my Philosophy teachers was a Catholic Humean - now that's paradigm theft!)
  • I'm British, and middle class.
  • My choice in music runs towards The Jam and The Clash, both of whom impart a somewhat jaded view of the world (I first felt a fist, and then a kick/I could now smell their breath/They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs/And too many right wing meetings)
  • I do not consider myself a child of the Enlightenment (despite studying Hume, and liking Kant), but rather a child of the Augustan age (primarily, in order of importance, Christ, Virgil,and Horace). As such I do not subscribe to Enlightenment ideas about human progress, but rather Ancient/Miltonic ideas about human regress. (I fear there even may be a touch of Calvin in there somewhere.)

So I suppose my instinct is to say that, yes, modern philosophy is an awfully weak thing. Which is perhaps a little harsh. I do not wish to denigrate the efforts of modern minds, or indeed my own small efforts (and they are small), but I see human thought not as a pyramid (kind of a Foundationalist structure) but as a web (Coherentism ftw!). A web in which it is easy to become too deeply entangled, especially as I do not see philosophy as my first calling.

Ultimately it's easier to make a blase mame-dropping comment about Kant than to offer some constructive analysis.--Egregious 22:43, 11 August 2006 (CEST)

I'm often skeptical about philosophical progress, because I believe in absolute truth; which requires an eternal baseline that isnt deviated from. But, I believe in every era and culture, that absolute must be interpreted in relevant ways to combat false or flawed philosophies and lifestyles, and using old writings will help, but not complete, that job. Just as the shift to Aristotle's philosophy required Aquinas, so must every major shift require an interpreter. Though, because I believe humanity is fatally and basely flawed, all of our interpretations of the absolute truths will probably have some kind of flaw, though the absolutes themselves dont. Thus we must have continuation of new philosophical thought, because the interpretations we have now are flawed. Maybe, like you, I'm a bit jaded, but I cant accept where any philosophy sets itself right now. There are flaws everywhere which must be perfected, to try and achieve that top of the pyramid which, because we are flawed, we can never reach but, also because of those flaws, we must try to reach. And I'm well aware that was very much a run-on sentence. ;) A human triangle is a bad analogy. Lets say a human pyramid for real: 3-d. Life is 3-d, why shouldnt allegory be? Yes, philosophy is a tangled mess. But it comes to a single focal point, and has an order. Unfortunately, there is only one possible construction which will truly hold it all together. We have the box cover of the puzzle, and all the pieces. Now we just have to put it together. All the old writers tried, and maybe got the outline, or pieces here and there, but I dont believe we have it all figured out, or ever will.

I've read some Chesterton, not as much as I'd like to though. The Man Who Was Thursday is actually one of my favorites(favorite being Orthodoxy, then probably Napoleon of Notting Hill). He's... interesting. Definitely a fun one to read, lol.

Philosophy isnt my calling either, but I do have a passing interest in it. I enjoy it, but I couldnt handle being immersed in it on a really regular and frequent basis. Vellos 00:30, 12 August 2006 (CEST)

Normally, I wouldn't do this, but when I saw that Vellos was here... well, let's just say that we can't stay away from each other.
I have very little philosophy training or exprience, however, I can say without a doubt, (but based on one Introduction to Philosophy class) that I have very little patience for Plato, and that I prefer Aristotle. (We didn't get very far... mostly the Big Three of the ancient world: Soophocles, Plato, and Aristotle :) ) So, to say that we can't do something, or that some inherent flaws make the whole structure impossible is rather... disturbing to me. Besides, how else will you expose the flaws besides actually using/exercising things? (Sorry if I burst into your discussion uninvited) ~ Marc J. 02:50, 12 August 2006 (CEST)

I'm not saying we cant know the truth, but seeing as we live in a world which we can all agree, I think, is pretty bad, clearly no philosophy works. Now, I believe there is a true one, but its difficult to interpret. Seeing as its thousands of years old, written in three different languages, and even once fully translated is difficult to understand. But thats just my personal beliefs. ;) But the simple fact of the matter is that I dont even believe we'll ever get the perfect interpretation of even that abolsute truth I believe in, because we are flawed. We may get pieces right, but I dont think a full and complete true philosophy is gonna happen.

lol, yeah, we do seem to hang around each other, Marc. So, whoi's the stalker and who's the stalkee? lolVellos 03:50, 12 August 2006 (CEST)

Given our innate flaws (I swear there's a hint of Calvin there) expecting perfection would be expecting a miracle . . .

Even so, I suppose that should not stop people trying. In this life we're doomed to be imperfect, yet that is not meant to stop us desiring and trying to be as little flawed as possible. I try not to lie, even though I know I probably will. Kinda bizarre, but I suppose that's where 'by grace alone' comes into it.

Heh, I always used to think that if there were sins of omission (not doing the right thing) and commission (actively doing the wrong thing), there should be virtues of omission and commission as well . . . not being a cannibal would be a good example of a virtue of omission that most people possess.--Egregious 11:57, 12 August 2006 (CEST)

This discussion is very interesting. Wouldn't usually expect a philosophy discussion on the BM wiki, but still.
If you don't mind me throwing my opinion in for what it's worth, isn't the whole of philosophy based upon the opinions of different people on what should be done and what shouldn't? As no-one can even prove their own existence (a different argument that I always found intruiging), defining the world's imperfections is a futile task. Everyone will work towards their own goals, ascending to their perception of what the world should be like (in the worlds perfect form). Many will have different degrees of success.
Your point about lying is a good one. I tried that, it inevitably needed to be refined to a different view, such as don't lie to certain people. It does, however, have knock on effects, making me come to the conclusion that the right thing to do is not always, well, the right thing.
Sorry, I think I've rambled. Does that make any sense? --The1exile 17:52, 12 August 2006 (CEST)
It makes lots of sense. A great deal of philosophy is based upon opinions about what should and should not be done - Ethics. There are some areas which are perhaps completely separate from Ethics, but there's usually a connection. Philosophy of Mind, for example, might seem to be entirely separate from rights and wrongs, but if the claims of Machine-State Functionalism about the mind are correct (the mind is nothing more or less than a very complicated set of automatic machine tables) then that raises some serious questions about humans acting according to right and wrong. Similarly, Epistemology (roughly speaking, the study of what we know and how - if - we know it) might seem distant from ethics, but when we consider applying Meaning Empiricism (roughly speaking, the idea that a concept only has real meaning if it can be linked in some way to actual sense experience) to a concept like 'good' it turns out to be rather relevant to what should and should not be done after all.
'As no-one can even prove their own existence (a different argument that I always found intruiging), defining the world's imperfections is a futile task.' Trouble is, I suspect that sometimes it is necessary to attempt a futile task. I remember reading, I think it was in a letter C. S. Lewis wrote to Tolkein, a comment about that, along the lines of 'If you and I were Norsemen, were at Ragnarok, and perceived that the good side would lose, what would we say? "That's it then, the trolls and giants win. Let us die with Father Odin"'. Granted, everyone might work towards their own goals, but simply because we cannot prove that there are over-reaching goals for everyone in the universe, does not prove the opposite, that there are none. There may be nigh-on seven billion (at least) perceptions of what the world is like, but I happen to believe that some perceptions are closer to the truth than others, even though I do not know that that truth exists.
'It does, however, have knock on effects, making me come to the conclusion that the right thing to do is not always, well, the right thing.' That sounds like a consequentialist approach to ethics, which is, roughly speaking, the idea that actions are made right or wrong by their consequences (usually wieghed up in terms of human happiness or pain in the most common form of consequentialism, Utilitarianism). Therefore, in certain circumstances, an action usually considered abhorrent might be 'the right thing to do' - to kill one man in saving ten, for example.
Opposed to consequentialism are various 'Deontological' theories (strangely not linked to the word 'ontology', but actually to the Greek for 'duty'). Deontological ethical systems usually argue that certain actions are right, and we have a duty to do them whatever the consequences (for a variety of reasons). In an oft-quoted example, if a mad axeman knocked on your door and asked, with a murderous glint in his eye, whether your neighbour was in, it would be (according to a hard-line deontologist) quite wrong to lie ('That guy? He sold the house and moved away last month, without telling me where he was going . . .').
While I sympathise more with (and am more interested in) deontology, I've never been terribly attracted to either system. I might also point out that they are perhaps not as opposed as it might at first seem. A Utilitarian still has a 'duty' to do what's right, according to his or her calculations of happiness and pain. And if you ask a deontologist why we have a duty to do certain things, more often than not it will come round to their consequences . . .
[Also, thankyou to Marc J. and The1exile for teaching me what colons do on talk pages]--Egregious 20:56, 12 August 2006 (CEST)
I cant stand deontology, in its extreme forms, or utilitarianism, in its extreme forms. But, on an earlier point, The1Exile, you mentioned the not being able to prove one's own existence. Well, there must be something. We know there is SOMETHING, because we, well, use your eyes, boy! BUT, we might be, say, the dream of the butterfly on a lotus flower. We cannot prove our personal existence as a person, but we can prove the existence of some kind of thing.
On the other hand, there are certain things that, if we do not accept them based on just a sort of unreasonable faith, we wont get very far with anything, and will be generally unfulfilled. Among those things I would count existence; the validity of logic and math; the truthfullness of empirical evidence... etc. If we, for example, do not accept that BM is real, we will find ourselves slipping into a state where we no longer enjoy BM, and that would SUCK. If we do not believe BM exists, why play BM? Why enjoy BM? How can one enjoy nonexistence? Well, one cannot, hence one cannot enjoy BM.
As such, I'd rather like to state that having a solely rational life rather sucks. And, as CS Lewis illustrates in his fiction story "The Silver Chair", even if I am living in an imaginary world, I vastly prefer it to the real one, and its definately far superior in every way I can think of.
I'm not saying I like deluding myself. I'm just saying that i refuse to accept the type of philosophy which defeats proving any kind of valid point, because that is, as GK Chesterton says, "The eternal serpentine circle of self destructiveness" or "The suicide of thought".
"We know there is SOMETHING, because we, well, use your eyes, boy!". This does by no means prove your existence. Every sense you have, could theoretically be a part of the illusion (going with the idea that everything we do is predetermined) that you do in fact exist. Non-existing is not something we have ever tried therefore we cannot say wheteher it is better or worse, etc...
You know wwehat, it's too late for me to have an argument about an obscure topic. Mauybe tomorrow i will make my point betetr. --The1exile 00:24, 13 August 2006 (CEST)

Unless we orginize this a bit better, we'll all get lost, fast. (Opinion, of course... but a valid one.)

One suggestion would be for all of us to put "----" at the beginning of each comment.

[Also, thankyou to Marc J. and The1exile for teaching me what colons do on talk pages]

Vellos should have used colons sooner... but he's forgiven. :)

On the other hand, there are certain things that, if we do not accept them based on just a sort of unreasonable faith, we wont get very far with anything, and will be generally unfulfilled. Among those things I would count existence; the validity of logic and math; the truthfullness of empirical evidence... etc. If we, for example, do not accept that BM is real, we will find ourselves slipping into a state where we no longer enjoy BM, and that would SUCK. If we do not believe BM exists, why play BM? Why enjoy BM? How can one enjoy nonexistence? Well, one cannot, hence one cannot enjoy BM.

A better example would be the following;

If I can not trust my senses, then there is no Battlemaster. If there is no Battlemaster, then the whole thing is my personal delusion. And, while I have been accused of being self-centered, I refuse to believe that I have either the mental capacity or the patience to create this whole world with all it's complexities.

So, if I didn't create it, there must be something else alive or here. (And Vellos, before you start with Creationism, that's not where I'm going! :P)

I try not to lie, even though I know I probably will. Kinda bizarre, but I suppose that's where 'by grace alone' comes into it.

Personally, I look at it as a ripple in a pond. Sure, I'm not a perfect person, but the more I try, the more my attempt to "be good" will rub off on another person, (usually my children) and the easier it'll be for them to "be better". A classic domino effect of goodness, perfection, and all it'll take is me, and several thousand generations. ;) ~ Marc J. 02:53, 13 August 2006 (CEST)

I should indeed have used colons, but didnt bother, lol. If by Creationism you mean, 7 days, blah blah blah, dont worry, my views regarding all that usually get me nearly stoned and burnt as a heretic. ;)
The1Exile, for there to be an illusion, there must be an illusionist creating it(or an illusion machine, or something, lol). Maybe that something is an illusion too. But, the idea is that if we are a dream, or a dream of a dream or a dream of a dream of a dream, there must always be a DREAMER. As Thomas Aquinas put it, when reconciling Aristotle to Christianity I believe, he compared God to the Unmoved Mover(or, in the current metaphor, the Undreamed Dreamer: the real thing). And, while I do not believe we are an illusion, the idea that existence doesnt exist just doesnt hold up. Even an illusion is something. There is no way the color red can be nothing at all, even if we all disagree as to what it is. There is no way the feeling you get on a roller coaster is nothing at all, even if it is merely an illusion. The absence of everything is an impossibility in and of itself.
Oh, one last thing. Not sure this will hold up to examination, but didnt Pascale say, "I think, therefore I am"? Vellos 03:03, 13 August 2006 (CEST)
No. That was Descartes? You make some good points though. --The1exile 10:17, 13 August 2006 (CEST)
That was Descartes (the other Philosopher I studied for a year). Traditionally in the form 'cogito ergo sum', although this was only in his Discourse, not in his masterpiece, the Meditations; confusingly, the term 'the cogito' is used to refer to his actual statement in the Meditations where he says (after a long attempt to test the limits of his knowledge with doubt) 'I must finally conclude that the proposition, "I am, I exist," is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.' Whether he's correct or not is a contentious issue. A lot of people argue that the argument is circular, or relies on something outside of it's one stated premise (the thinking), and is thus inductive rather than deductive . . . sadly the AS-Level Examiners did not bring the cogito up that year.--Egregious 13:14, 13 August 2006 (CEST)
Isnt all logical arguement circular, in the end? Logic, in some form or fashion, requires cause and effect. Essentially: contengency. X is contingent upon Y is contingent upon... so on and so forth. There are two choices: To have something eventually come full circle and be dependent on X, or to be dependent upon something which has no cause. Again, Aquinas, in reconciling Aristotle and Christianity, declares that the Christian God is the Uncaused Causer. The originator of all things. Pure logic or reason doesnt work(I've never actually read Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", but I've heard of it, not totally familiar with Kant as much as I am with Aquinas though). It can be used in isolation, or as a tool, but not as the sole tool.
Descartes, right. I knew it was one of those dudes... lol. Vellos 18:18, 13 August 2006 (CEST)

[if I use any more colons the width is going to become ridiculous]

[The fact is, I'm only interested in Kant, not an expert in his thought. I know more about Hume.]

There is a strand of thought within the empiricist tradition which posits that purely logical, rational statements are simultaneously indubitably true or indubitably false, and useless.

Consider '2 + 2 = 4'. This statement (probably, leaving aside the more far-fetched theories about Mathematics) requires nothing outside of itself to be true. '4' is contained in '2 + 2'. Similarly the ideas of 'three sides', 'three vertices', '2D shape' et cetera are contained in the term 'triangle'. If no triangles ever existed in the 'real world' (incidentally, no perfect triangles do exist, because of atomic variation - the lines are always wiggly at a level below vision, and so all we have are representations of trianles, but anyway) that would remain true. [Whether God has to obey these rules or can break them (or could break them but chooses to obey) is a matter for theological debate]

Similarly, the statement 'All bachelors are unmarried men'. Well, of course they are. It's a tautology, a tautologous statement, telling us nothing new about bachelors. If you were starting from scratch, and didn't know what married men or bachelors were, it would be no help at all. But, if no bachelors ever existed, this statement would be true (so the argument goes).

Tautologous statements are linked to a priori knowledge, knowledge known before or without experience (precious to the rationalist tradition).

Now the statement 'All bachelors are red-haired' is not tautologous; 'bachelor' does not include in its inherent meaning 'red-haired'. The truth of this statement can only be known a posteriori, after experience - going and checking that all bachelors are red-haired. The level of truth is also different. If I sit alone in a room without any (other) bachelors around, for example, I can't be sure that they are still all red-haired, even though I can be sure that they are still unmarried men.

Kant (who was neither an empiricist, nor a rationalist) covered the distinction between tautologous and non-tautologous in the terms 'analytic' and 'synthetic'. (Because a tautologous statement, when analysed, supports itself, whereas a synthetic statement requires support from outside the statement ('synthesis')).

[Hume drew a similarish distinction between 'Relations of Ideas' (tautology, a priori) and 'Matters of Fact' (not tautology, a posteriori)]

Said empiricist tradition maintains that deductive logic is entirely analytic a priori. Therefore all deductive arguments could be considered circular. Inductive logic, which is not analytic, will always rely on support from elsewhere, which, as you point out, means either an infinite regress (which means the death of the logician from thirst), a bigger circle, or reliance on an uncaused cause/unmoved mover (however paradoxical that may be - but Kierkegaard says we are allowed religious paradoxes).

Kant argued that there were in fact some things which were synthetic a priori. These were a priori because they are conditions required for us to have the experience which we indubitably have, and therefore cannot be known after experience. Or something.

For example, 'time exists, and for humans it flows in one, linear direction' is not tautologous, but it is necessarily true (so Kant argued), because if it were false we would lack any experience at all.

. . . I think, but as I said, I'm no expert. I probably got some of that wrong, and so it may be a little more involved and watertight than that.

But yes, a lot of philosophers have agreed that logic is either impotent (if it's deductive) or reliant on something else (inductive). Descartes relied on God as a guarantuor for the truth of his cogito, but he also seems to have relied on the cogito to prove the truth of his arguments for God's existence, giving rise the celebrated 'Cartesian Circle'. (Which has nothing to do with geometry, unlike the equally celebrated Cartesian Co-Ordinates. Bit of a polymath, our Descartes.)--Egregious 19:54, 13 August 2006 (CEST)

In his usual witty, profound, and evocative way, GK Chesterton uses very rational and logical arguements to prove that rationalism and logic, in and of themselves, cannot be relied upon. They may be a crutch, but not the skeletal system. The book "Orthodoxy" has at least one, maybe more than one, chapter about rationalism.
And I cant think of anything else to add for now, lol. Vellos 20:30, 13 August 2006 (CEST)
Same here. Time for sleep.--Egregious 23:31, 13 August 2006 (CEST)

God; Existence or Illusion?

[Hope you don't mind me putting headings in]

Well, now that we've dicussed the basics of philosophy, let's jump right into a controversy! [Plus, I'm curious...]

Egregious and The1exile, do you believe that God exists, doesn't exist, exists as some kind of quasi-illusion that doesn't really do anything, or something else?

I personally am of the opinion that "God" (the concept; use whatever name you want for it/him/her/whatever) is not around any longer, or if he is he is apathetic to the movements of the universe, or at least our small part of it. This is due to my personal cynicism, and many arguments such as the omnipotence paradox (yes I know the omnipotent being could tell us to go screw ourselves and make the problem disappear, but he hasn't) and the Problem of Evil (which is not so much a problem for the omnipotence, but as it is God...).
God as the concept for me is the cause of the beginning of existence in the current universe (which is similarly restricted to randiom events and predictable actions that I understand; anything I am not aware of currently doesn't exist currently, at least not in my universe).
So, to wrap things up, God is a being that had the power to make the universe then with what he did let it do whatever he wanted.
Your thoughts? --The1exile 19:04, 14 August 2006 (CEST)
Firstly, there's a problem with your statement. Omnipotence/problem of evil is only relevant to a GOOD God. If there were, say, an omnipotent god of chaos(LOL. QYRVAGG!), the constant struggle of humans between good and evil, and, in the opinion of cynics, the victory of evil, would be exactly what he/she/it would use its omnipotence to bring about. Hence, the problem of evil cannot be used to argue against the concept of GOD, merely against the concept of a GOOD God, such as the Christian God.
Now, for my opinions. I believe God created the universe, and all that is in it, though I believe the early chapters of Genesis are metaphorical, not literally seven days or what have you. I believe God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. I believe he is fully real and existent, and created human beings out of the desire to have things made in His image to worship Him, freely of their own choice(free will choosing goodness being the image of God).
This 3 distinct problems. The omnipotence paradox(Problem of Evil), the omnisciency paradox(Calvinism vs. Arminianism), and the omnipresience paradox(God being everywhere). I shallg ive my beliefs.... on all three... as quickly as possible. ;)
Problem of Evil: Two words- The Fall. When mankind willfully sinned, we flawed all of nature, from atomic structure up to the highest forms of thought. God created us in his image(NOT physical image, but psychological. We feel the emotions of God, on vastly lesser scales. We have Free Will, to do as we please. I'll explain God's free will in a moment), with free will. Humanity CHOSE evil(eating the apple metaphor of Genesis). Now then, God created us so that we could worship Him. That is our SOLE PURPOSE, in my philosophy at least. Worship is a free gift. I give God my praises not because He does nice things, but because He is God. If God uses his omnipotence to remove all evil from the world, leaving only that which is good, he has removed free will, and, thus, removed worship. See, I do believe in total depravity: we are all equally flawed, and equally condemned, and all of nature is condemned with us. After the Fall, the universe because habitually and irrevocably evil. Wherever there is good, there is God(good being a loose term open to definition, mind you). God does not end evil, because to do so is to end worship. Even in the afterlife, when all those who have been saved are in Heaven, there is still evil.... but its trapped up in Hell forever. More correctly, evil is wherever God is not. Could God be everywhere? Theoretically, yes. Would he? No, because to do so is to force people to accept him.
Calvinism vs. Arminianism: I believe we have complete free will and that God already knows what we're going to choose to do, because he is the ultimate psychologist and probability calculator on a level entirely incomprehensible to humans. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and he knows the rest of the world better than it knows itself. He knows all the variables involved, and he is so amazingly smart(being God makes ya smart. ;) ) that he can take all the variables, and, for lack of a better word, calculate what everyone will do, thus he is omniscient. I believe God has a PURPOSE for my life, but not necessarily a PLAN.
This one is the simplest. Many people say God cant be everywhere, because God cannot be in evil, and, where evil is, God cannot be. Well, thats true, because evil is the absence of God's presence. But, evil can be on one side of the room, and God can be on the other, looking at it, see? No, God isnt, like, sitting inside every electron. The dirt at shrines isnt, like, 18% God or something. But everything is within God's view, within talking range of him. He is always at our side, even when we will not let him be in us. The only time God ever turned away was when Christ was on the cross and he cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", for all the sins of all time of all believers were there, in the person of Christ, being crucified and destroyed for all time.
I believe God is a real and active person, or triperson. I believe he is Father, Spirit, and Son. Sorry if I sound like I'm preaching, lol, but, well, thats what I believe.

By all means put in headings - kind of a bringing order out of chaos thing going on, perhaps . . . do remember to sign your comments though. A response to the question posed is in the works.--Egregious 21:02, 14 August 2006 (CEST)
The Problem of Evil is not the same as the omnipotence paradox. My point with the problem of evil is that you referred to God, and I take that as the christian god (being a catholic myself) who is by definition omnibenevolent. --The1exile 22:21, 14 August 2006 (CEST)
There is no problem of evil if God is not omnipotent, though. You could be a very good person, yet be unable to right wrong. Maybe God IS trying, just not succeeding. For there to be a problem of evil, there must be both omnipotence and, as you say, omnibenevolence as attributes of God.
Oh, btw, I forgot to sign my last comment. sry. ;) Vellos 22:26, 14 August 2006 (CEST)
So you think that god is not omnipotent? How do you define god then? You said "I believe God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient." And yet you have just said that the easiest way out is to believe that God is not omnipotent (I agree, most of my thoughts are based around the concept of Occam's razor). --The1exile 22:31, 14 August 2006 (CEST)
No, I believe God IS omnipotent. I do not believe the easiest way out is always the truth. Sometimes, maybe. But I do not believe it always is. I was stating the relation between God being omnipotent and the Problem of Evil. You said they were not the same, I say they are one and the same problem. But, really, I dont at all believe the easiest way out is always the correct way. In fact, I believe it is, very, very frequently, the exact wrong way out. Altogether, I do not rely on how easy of a way out it is to judge one way or another. Vellos 23:52, 14 August 2006 (CEST)
Do you know what the Omnipotence Paradox is? I don't think you've answerted it. It's not the problem of Evil.
Answer this: Could god, being able to do anything, make something He could not do? (Or from the simpsons, could Jesus microwave a microwavable burrito so hot even He could not eat it, if you prefer that). If he can do anything, then he is able to not do that thing (microwave the burrito thaty hot). If however, he does do it, then he can't do that task which he has created to be not possible (cannot eat the burrito as it's too hot).
The problem of Evil is that if he was omnibenevolent he would not allow evil to exist s allowing evil to exist is not benevolent. While I appreciate that this robs us of this level of free will, allowing free will could be argued as not being benevolent. Whats wrong with not having the power to discuss this, if we don't know that we ever could? Ignorance is bliss. --The1exile 03:08, 15 August 2006 (CEST)

Interesting, very interesting... I happen to believe in the easiest explanation possible: there is no God. (At lest, not in the prophet-sending, sinner-smiting, everyday garden variety)

Put simply, humanity used our intellect to explain the world around us. And, because the world is only just now being "tamed", (in a sense) it was impossible for ancient man to... understand human physcology or phisology, for example. So, they explained by saying that demons where possesing a person, or the gods killed someone.

Just as I intensely dislike Plato's Forms, I intensely dislike the Christian thought patterns. I feel almost like screaming "It's the humans, stupid!" at them. ~ Marc J. 06:33, 15 August 2006 (CEST)

To answer the original question: do you believe that God exists, doesn't exist, exists as some kind of quasi-illusion that doesn't really do anything, or something else?

The short answer is yes, I believe that God exists. Furthermore, I believe that God exists in the monotheistic, Judeo-Christian sense; I believe that He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and all-loving ('omnibenevolent' always seemed too clumsy); I believe that He exists both as a single entity and as three, Father, Spirit and Son (however paradoxical that might sound).

More developed thoughts on the various issues raised in the above comments will be forthcoming, but I have to work quite hard today, so it might be a little while.

I will briefly comment that the Paradox of Omnipotence and the Problem of Evil are two separate things, but that omnipotence is involved in the Problem, as well as God's all-loving nature, when it is properly set.

The Problem is commonly set as: If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God where almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness or power, or both.

Or more succinctly, as the claim that the following three statements cannot all be true:

  • 'God is omnipotent.'
  • 'God is all-loving.'
  • 'Evil exists.'

--Egregious 10:19, 15 August 2006 (CEST)

Well, I am of the opinion all three can be true, from a certain point of view. Firstly, evil does not exist. Evil is not an entity in and of itself; its merely the absence of good. Thus, while it does exist, it does not exist independetly, unlike good, which I believe is transcendant and does exist independently of evil, and maybe even God.
Secondly, about the omnipotence paradox, yes, God could make a rock so big he cant move it. Then he would move it. But, sidenote, God isnt truly omnipotent. He cant sin, at least not in his usual form. While Christ was incarnate in man, sin was possible for God. But, for the most part, sin is entirely impossible for God. God cannot sin, thus he is not omnipotent. But he's very close to omnipotent. But, about the gigantic rock, God's omnipotence is not a matter of, "so strong he can do anything", its a matter of that, "he can do anything". Yes, he can make a rock so big he cant move it. Once such a rock(such a cosmic force) exists, he can now, because he is omnipotent, movie it, or smash it, or urinate on it, or what have you. Vellos 14:13, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
A different formulation uses the word 'suffering' instead of 'evil'.
As far as the omnipotence paradox goes . . . I have read one interesting solution, which is to bring in the concepts of 'normal' impossibility and 'intrinsic' impossibility. Normally when we say 'such and such is impossible' a clause beginning with 'unless' can be tacked on the end ('It is impossible for me to see behind my head unless I use a mirror, or there is a fundamental re-arrangement of my physical shape').
However, some things cannot possibly be done: for example, 'It is impossible to draw a four-sided triangle' (which really means 'it is impossible to draw a four-sided three-sided shape'). It is intrinsically impossible to draw a four-sided triangle because the impossibility of the action is contained in the action itself. It is impossible to see behind my head because of some physical state of affairs - the lack of a mirror, or the placement of my eyes - and so the impossibility of seeing behind my head is not intrinsic in the action itself.
Now, an intrinsically impossible action is not something you cannot do, because it is not a thing - nothing. Fragments of meaning such as 'draw a four-sided triangle' belong together with fragments of meaning such as 'the green grass is blue' and 'one of your legs is both the same'. Intrinsically impossible actions - nothings - are impossible even for an omnipotent God; God can't do nothing; nothing is impossible for God.
Is 'God creating a rock which he cannot lift' an intrinsic impossibility? Well yes, it is, because God is omnipotent; there are no rocks he cannot lift. Similarly God cannot create a four-sided triangle.
If this was an argument to prove that God was omnipotent, then opponents would be justified in claiming circularity here, but this is an argument to prove that an omnipotent God is not a paradox. It doesn't prove that God exists, or is omnipotent; it is merely intended to explain that omnipotence doesn't give rise to a paradox. Whether God is omnipotent or not is still a matter of faith. I think.
More to come.--Egregious 15:50, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
You have been using the idea "Could god make a rock so big he couldn't lift it". Your arguments for that, are fine. However, could God make a rock do big/heavy/dense/radioactive/whatever that he could never lift it? The answer, if he can do anything including make the size of the universe or force of gravity a different value, is no, so obviously he cannot do everything. This is one of the things I hold as reasons for my views; you can say "sure he could make it so he could never move it, and then he'd move it" but if you don't see the logical fallacy in that, then you have problems, because one has to be false.
I personally like what Marc J asserts, he makes a very good point about humans "taming" the world, but you keep going further and further back into time without fully understanding what has happened, and for as long as we do not understand that, there will be arguments for the existence of god. Just as it was said that we will likly never be perfect but we can come as close as possible to doing it, I find the same applies to understanding the concept of God (as the unknown), we will come very close to understanding it, but never quite get there.
Just because an action is intrinsically impossible, should not mean that God is unable to do it. For example, God coul;d easily make a 4 sided traingle; he would simply rewrite the definiton of triangle to be "4 sided shape". --The1exile 16:28, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
God coul;d easily make a 4 sided traingle; he would simply rewrite the definiton of triangle to be "4 sided shape" . . . but then it would no longer be intrinsically impossible, because the task would be 'draw a four-sided four-sided shape'. Anyone can do that. God could only make a four-sided three-sided shape by changing the task to making a four-sided four-sided shape. Intrinsic impossibilities are impossible, unless they cease to be impossible because someone decides to change the task to something different, in which case it's not the intrinsically impossible task under discussion any more.--Egregious 16:31, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
So God should make it no longer impossible? --The1exile 16:54, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
OK Task A: 'make a four-sided three-sided shape'. Task B: 'make a four-sided four-sided shape'. Task A is intrinsically impossible and will remain so forever. If you make a semantic change so that you actually ask for task B, the original task A is still intrinsically impossible. Task B is possible. God can't do A. God can do B. If God wants to change the definition, then he's doing B. Incidentally, we would not know, because our own definitions are in our own minds. Remember to sign your comments.--Egregious 16:37, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
we will come very close to understanding it, but never quite get there If you keep counting till you reach infinity, you are still the same distance away from infinity when you reach 9,999,999,999,999,999 as when you were at 1. An exponential curve never quite becomes vertical, and the difference will still be there, messing things up.--Egregious 16:39, 15 August 2006 (CEST)

Sorry I forgot to sign my comment. Are you saying that God changing the universe, just in order to make task A the same as Task B is nmot a valid task? I appreciatye that it isn't the same ask, but God has changed the definition of Task A.

Even so, this does prove that not even omnipotence can do a intrinsically impossible tsask; therefore omn[otence does not exist as it's truest form. There can be "near-omnipotence" (that Vellos said he believed God was) but never true omnipotence. --The1exile 16:54, 15 August 2006 (CEST)

There could be true omnipotence - the power to do everything. Intrinsically impossible tasks, as I proposed above, are nothingnesses. They are not part of everything because they do not even make sense. Intrinsically impossible actions - nothings - are impossible even for an omnipotent God; God can't do nothing; nothing is impossible for God.--Egregious 17:59, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
I missed alot while I was at school... and, sadly, I was probably educated less. ;)
I believe Egregious makes a good point, and I've never thought of it that way. There will never be a four sided triangle. If it is four sided, then it is not a triangle. So no, God isnt omnipotent in that he is unable to do intrinsic impossibilities but, firstly, that doesnt matter very much in the larger scale of things and, secondly, the reason he cant do them is not lack of ability, but because they are absolutely nothing. They are self-contradicting statements.
Also, the Bible never uses the word omnipotence, and it never exactly defines what is meant by the all powerfullness of God. Maybe the Biblical authors just assumed we'd have the common sense to realize that self-contradicting statements, intrinsic impossibilities, are, naturally, not going to be possible. I'm a big fan of authorial intent. Vellos 22:34, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
No offence to your beliefs, but the bible is one of the most contradictive works I have seen. Particularly the image of god; in the old testment, he is very vengeful, unforgiving, quick to anger (see Ezekiel for some prime examples, that guy has the best quotes) compared to the letters of Paul.
It comes down to your definition of God. While I would define him as the cause of the current universe (God as the cause of the big bang, for example, althoguh I have my doubts on that theory also), I don't belivee he's done much more. Like Marc J says, everything that religions once explained, can now be explained by science and actions of man; insanity, lightning, earthquakes, famines, all of them were once attributed to the powers that be but were explained.
That said, the bible is a good work. Look at the ten commandments and you see why. The concepts behind it is good but they aren't made in rational thinking.
So, the original point; God as an ilusion or a reality, all come down to your point of view. Vellos, you seem to believe God is your bog-standard christian faith version; I believe that "God" is a being long since disappeared/destroyed/whatever other way of describing his lack of prescence but did do one thing; he made the universe, and then let it do whatever it liked (free will). --The1exile 23:02, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
lol, no offense taken. I'm not one of the up-tight-in-your-face-maniac-Christians who screams and flails when people disagree with them. ;) But, I am obligated to reply. ;) The Old Testament displays one side of God's "personality", and the NT another part. The OT is, as Romans 8 says, a time when there was a law of sin and death. A system to redeem sins which was run by sinful people, based on flawed sacrifices, and reliant on insufficient works. To make up the difference, some punishment was necessary. But, when the time was right, Christian theology states that a savior came, and became the final and perfect sacrifice, thus fulfilling the old law of sin and death, and qualifying all believers, by grace. Its not a contradiction; its a paradox. Male and female are as much a contradiction as justice and mercy. Day and night are as much a contradiction. Yet, without one, its hard to have fulfillment with the other. They are beautiful opposites, which create an even more beautiful paradox that, when put together right, creates a very beautiful existence.
Also, the Judeo-Christian heratige is close to unique in that it does NOT try and explain nature. the Bible never tries to explain rain, or lightning, or earthquakes. Yes, at times people may pray for God to send them rain or whatever, but there is never an attempt, when properly interpreted, to make God the ultimate explanation of lightning. Even if we found a perfectly good reason for the creation of the universe, and left no "room" for God, I'd still believe.
Also, I believe God is still active in the unievrse, from personal experience. Maybe my life is an extraordinary set of coincidences, but I've noticed a remarkable trend that, when I pray for something, it quite often comes true. And I have to go cook supper... Vellos 23:36, 15 August 2006 (CEST)
Also, the Judeo-Christian heratige is close to unique in that it does NOT try and explain nature.
In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth.
Vellos, (and to a lesser extent, exile) there is nothing that religion offers that can't be offered by something else. Why, you ask? Because there's an underlying factor that has only recently been tapped -- humans built all of this. We are the deciderors, (to quote a president >_>) and we do the decidering.
Even if we found a perfectly good reason for the creation of the universe, and left no "room" for God, I'd still believe.
What would there be left to believe in? This is the challenge to modern Christianity, (and other religions as well) if you set your god up as "perfect" and all-powerful, then the slightest weakness, or crack in their foundations, means that the whole thing comes tumbling down. (i.e. if god can't make a burrito so hot that not even he can eat it, then how can he be everywhere at once? If he can't be everywhere at once, then how can he be an all-caring god? et certera...) ~ Marc J. 02:33, 16 August 2006 (CEST)
there's an underlying factor that has only recently been tapped -- humans built all of this. My view is what is still unexplained, and is likely to remain unexplained; the creation of the universe, and the beings in it. With the lack of anything else to believe, I think there is a force there (call it "God" if you like) that made it, long before humans. No-one can really say that humans made the universe, at least not as we know it; they couldn't make themselves. But humans explain the universe around them, and as they solve more and more things that were mysteries, there is less that is attributed to "God". --The1exile 02:41, 16 August 2006 (CEST)

Okay, Marc, ya got me. Christianity does claim to explain creation. But very little, if anything else, in nature. Origins, yes. Other things? Not that I know of. Plus, Christianity doesnt attempt to explain things like why lightning strikes a certain place, or why earthquakes happen(yes, they used to try to do that, but we're past that now).

See, even if there is nothing for God to explain left in the universe about nature, there are still a few important things to remember(two for non Christians, three for Christians): 1. We're never going to fully understand the human psyche, so there's always room for God to work and to have full understanding there 2. Even if there is no space in the room, God can stand outside and scream through the door, and still have an effect on what goes on in the room. 3. For Christians- God is, and thats enough.

I have to go to school now.... Vellos 14:22, 16 August 2006 (CEST)

this is the challenge to modern [my emphasis] Christianity, (and other religions as well) if you set your god up as "perfect" and all-powerful, then the slightest weakness, or crack in their foundations, means that the whole thing comes tumbling down. (i.e. if god can't make a burrito so hot that not even he can eat it, then how can he be everywhere at once? If he can't be everywhere at once, then how can he be an all-caring god? et cetera...)
I'm not so sure that we live in an age so unlike any other. The limits of Christian (and other) faith have been tested throughout history: the Problem of Evil/Suffering, for example, can be found in the Psalms. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake (followed by a tsunami and massive firestorm - 60,000 to 100,000 died, Lisbon was wiped off the map) the Problem of Evil was discussed more than it is today, and massive strides were made in theodicy (although that's hardly compensation for death on a massive scale, one might add). Similarly the Viking raids on the Northumbrian monasteries prompted mass discussion.
Certainly as an explanation, religious paradigms do not offer a strikingly superior solution; however, today's atmosphere of relativism has uncovered the serious point that there is no surefire way of choosing one explanation over another. Occam's Razor? Perhaps, but in my own experience the simplest solution is not always the best - and how do we judge simplicity? Perhaps it is simpler to simply shout 'God' at the end of every infinite regress of investigation ('why-chain') . . .
The application of some healthy antecedent philosophical scepticism has been known to convince people that God's existence is on the same epistemic level as the existence of the keyboard I am typing on.
And I don't think religion offers anything that can't be had elsewhere, in fact. God offers things which can't be had elsewhere, but that's a matter of faith. [indeed, there is a school of theological thought (not one I subscribe to) that would rather dispense with religion entirely]
Can science explain everything? One half of my family are all scientists (some theists, some not), and I'll believe an explanation of everything when I see it - and I don't yet see it. This is like the problem with 'Eliminative Materialism', a Philosophy of Mind which relies on the existence of a completed neuroscience; this weakness means that all other philosophers to tell Eliminative Materialists to go away and wait until a completed neuroscience is forthcoming.--Egregious 18:52, 16 August 2006 (CEST)

About the example you provided, Marc. God can be all-caring without being omnipresent. I care about what happens to my mom, even when I'm not with her. I care about what happens to my girlfriend, even when I'm not with her. So, thats a side-tangent, but I do that, lol.

Also, I believe Egregious is right; there is no way we can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the validity of one faith or another, or the presence of an active God. Which is why, in todays' world, faith is even more important, to me at least.

I'll stop before I get tooo preachy. ;) Vellos 02:35, 17 August 2006 (CEST)

I'll be going away soon [to the Edinburgh Fringe - I am so visiting Hume's tomb], so don't expect replies from me for a while. Feel free to carry on discussing stuff, mind.--Egregious 12:21, 19 August 2006 (CEST)

Sorry, people, it just occured to me.

Going with the burrito idea... could God make a burrito so hot only he could never eat it?

I didn't completely understand what Marc J. meant either... I just assume if it sounds good and I don't understand it and it comes from the ever reputable Marc J, it must be profound enough for me not to grasp it. Or maybe I'm thick. <shrugs> I dunno. --The1exile 23:09, 19 August 2006 (CEST)

Still around?

Are you still around in BM? --The1exile 23:49, 25 January 2007 (CET)

Yes and no. I'm still around, but my account lapsed because I had to take a longer break in RL than I anticipated. I will be returning to BM but not till August at least, because I'm out of the country for June & July (busy being all cultural). --Egregious 19:26, 2 April 2007 (CEST)
Ah. Well, good to know you'll be back! I'll keep an eye out. --The1exile 19:46, 2 April 2007 (CEST)