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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Is God, strictly speaking, necessary?
mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
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This blog post got me thinking, but so far my thinking hasn't gone anywhere definitive. An excerpt:

quote:
Most arguments for the existence of God are a search for ... necessity. Arguments that win and become persuasive are generally grounded in some form of necessity. The argument for God’s existence is not only that He does exist, but that He must exist. Of course if there is no necessity in God, if we cannot say, “God must,” then believers can find themselves deeply unsettled, thinking that if we cannot say “God must,” then perhaps we can say, “God isn’t.”
Please read the blog post; it's fairly short (642 words). Then here are my questions: Is God's existence necessary? If not, can we "prove" it at all? If God is not "necessary" does that mean She is contingent? And if so, upon what?

[ 05. January 2015, 01:31: Message edited by: Kelly Alves ]

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Socratic-enigma
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.
I think C.S.Lewis would argue that God is necessary in order for the Universe to have meaning.

quote:
…God does not need to exist – there is no necessity in God – His existence is pure freedom.

…

To use the word “unnecessary” with regard to God is not to say that we can exist without Him. It is to say that to exist with Him, in the fullness of life to which we are called, is to live beyond necessity and to embrace God in freedom and love.

So…it is not necessary to believe in God, but in order to achieve true freedom – one must believe in him?
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
If God is not "necessary" does that mean She is contingent? And if so, upon what?

Upon our believing in Her?

S-E

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"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
If God is not "necessary" does that mean She is contingent? And if so, upon what?

Upon our believing in Her?
This reminds me of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. The needs and desires of people brought the ancient gods into existence, but they remain in existence long after people have stopped believing in them. They live out their long, dull years in various conditions; one is an old man at a retirement home for instance; another is destitute.

The book gave me a very strong feeling of sadness and pity.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Please read the blog post; it's fairly short (642 words). Then here are my questions: Is God's existence necessary?

I'm afraid I didn't really understand the blog.

But I can think of at least one reason God's existence is necessary.

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Socratic-enigma
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quote:
"Thor - " said Kate.
"And I'm going to put right all the things you made happen
so I'd be afraid of getting angry. The poor girl at the airline
check-in desk that got turned into a drink machine. Woof! Wham!
She's back! The jet fighter that tried to shoot me down when I
was flying to Norway! Woof! Wham! It's back! See, I'm back in
control of myself!"
"What jet fighter?" asked Kate. "You haven't told me about
a jet fighter."
"It tried to shoot me down over the North Sea. We had a
scrap and in the heat of the moment I, well, I turned it into
an eagle, and it's been bothering me ever since.

I was sitting in the middle of a crowded train and laughed so hard I nearly fell off my seat...

.


Perhaps you're right; a world without the capacity to believe in something more, something greater than ourselves - something better.

I don't know

A rather unsatisfactory answer.


S-E

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"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Boogie

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The blog post doesn't fit with what I believe - as I don't think anything would exist without God - as S/he holds the whole caboodle together.

I could be wrong - and if I were then God would not be necessary at all.

It certainly makes you think.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Please read the blog post; it's fairly short (642 words). Then here are my questions: Is God's existence necessary? If not, can we "prove" it at all? If God is not "necessary" does that mean She is contingent? And if so, upon what?

Your last question is the important one, which proves the blogger wrong. If god is not necessary, then god is contingent on something. Whatever that is, it is (logically if not temporally) prior, hence makes god be, and thus has itself a greater claim to the label "God". The only possible stopping point of an inquiry into being is some Being, which is relying in its Being only on Itself, and not on anything else. Either there is One such Being, God, or being itself (rather than how beings interact) has no reasonable causal explanation ("brute fact" atheism).

The blogger says: "It is also correct to say that God does not need to exist – there is no necessity in God – His existence is pure freedom." That sounds great, but makes no particular sense. Clearly, if God does not exist yet, He cannot decide to exist. In order to decide, one must already exist. The only possible sense I can make of this is that God is free to commit suicide somehow, i.e., free to end His existence. Whether that is true or not, it does not change that God cannot possibly have any freedom concerning the beginning of His existence.

The one justification he provides from scripture for all this (2 Cor 3:17) is on one hand badly ripped out of context. Actually, St Paul is going on about how one has to be Christian in order to read the OT correctly, i.e., the Spirit of the Lord frees the mind to understand scripture. On the other hand, even ripped out of context and considered on its own, this just does not say that God's existence is pure freedom. It says that where God is there is freedom. The order of causation is the other way around. If at all, this can be a radical challenge to our usual concept of freedom today, which would rather say that where choice (not God) is there is freedom.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Is God's existence necessary?

It depends on what you mean by that. The question of whether God was necessary in order for the universe to come into being in the first place is one that can never really be answered - it's a matter for belief.

But the question of whether the universe needed a Creator aside, no I don't think god is necessary. Once everything has got going it's perfectly capable of sustaining itself. The laws of physics operate whether there's a God or not. And so do we.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
I think C.S.Lewis would argue that God is necessary in order for the Universe to have meaning.

That assumes that the universe having meaning is a necessary thing. It's not. And if meaning is not necessary, then it cannot be used as an argument for God being necessary.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Is God's existence necessary?

Necessary in what sense? God is necessary for us to explain the universe, where existence means caused. God is the Uncaused Cause of existence.

God simply as God is not necessary; God just is. But there's no "being" involved in God. That would imply some existence or activity within "is", which would make "is" contingent.

[cross-posted]

[ 12. July 2011, 09:39: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]

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Jamat
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Necessity as used in the article is only in a logical sense of dependency. Necessity is set against God's will and pleasure. I guess if we connect the two then what ever is his will and pleasure is necessary. However, The writer seems to be really saying that any necessity exists only in God himself and, as IngoB has said, the endlessness of such logic is only arrived at when one posits such a being that has no first cause because it doesn't need one.

Are we not back at the ontological argument?

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Jamat ..in utmost longditude, where Heaven
with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise. (Milton Paradise Lost Bk iv)

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:

But the question of whether the universe needed a Creator aside, no I don't think god is necessary. Once everything has got going it's perfectly capable of sustaining itself. The laws of physics operate whether there's a God or not. And so do we.

Being a non cartesianist, I don't see God separate from the world. It is God that animates. Does science give sufficient reason for animation? For life?

*shrug*. Doesn't really matter. Just a point on the science I've always been curious about.

Essentially, what animates? Can our science explain that yet? I don't think so.

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a theological scrapbook

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irish_lord99
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I agree that the definition of "necessary" is important for the discussion. I don't think he was talking about how God holds the entire universe in it's course; but rather more inspecting our personal necessity of him in this life. Of course I could just be projecting...

I recall one time in college a friend trying to write a paper about why she believed that God existed, her answer came down to (essentially): God must exist because I need Him. The fault I find in this logic is that God existed before the creation of time and the universe, a long time before he was needed by anybody.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that what Father Stephen was getting at was that God exists outside of the realm of our logic and our necessity. Many people have lived life without any connection to God, God did not cease to exist because they did not rely on Him. I also think that his post was meant to be instructive for those already in the faith... not his treatise for proving the existence of God. This really stuck me:

quote:
All of this sets us in a place that can feel very insecure. We frequently prefer necessity to freedom and compulsion to love.
I don't think God wants us to be devoted to Him because we "need" him (though we certainly do) but more because we love Him and desire His love in return.

Just my 2 cents...

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Essentially, what animates? Can our science explain that yet? I don't think so.

Put simply, it's a bunch of proteins, amino acids, nucleic acids and other organic molecules reacting with each other.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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RadicalWhig
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I didn't think much of the linked article, but I am in the "God is necessary" camp. There probably isn't as much logical consistency in this argument as I'd like to think, but for me it runs something like this:

God is Nature. Nature evidently exists. It is in the nature of Nature to exist, because without existence there could be no Nature. Therefore God/Nature exists - and must, by its very nature, exist.

Of course, that only accounts for the "God of Nature", an essentially pantheistic, or possibly deistic, concept of God. I don't see anything in Nature that makes the existence of a personal, trinitarian, book-dictating, wafer-appearing God necessary (or likely).

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Radical Whiggery for Beginners: "Trampling on the Common Prayer Book, talking against the Scriptures, commending Commonwealths, justifying the murder of King Charles I, railing against priests in general." (Sir Arthur Charlett on John Toland, 1695)

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Essentially, what animates? Can our science explain that yet? I don't think so.

Put simply, it's a bunch of proteins, amino acids, nucleic acids and other organic molecules reacting with each other.
Doesn't explain the animating force tho does it? It explains the mechanism in which the animating force resides.

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a theological scrapbook

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
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Okay, here my limitations come out and I'm going to ask the naive questions. Necessity--that means something needs something else (to exist), right? So does it make any sense at all to say that something needs God to exist, if God is before all things and in fact the very cause of their existence? Seems like cart before horse time.

I mean, here I am. And yes, I need God. But I don't "need him to exist"--my personal needs don't come into the question, because I'm a contingent being. If God, then (maybe) me. But not the other way around. God's existence is logically prior to my existence and therefore also to my needing. And that would be true of any created-and-therefore-contingent being.

Which leaves us with only one person who could "need" God to exist, and that is God himself. As the only non-contingent and always-existant being, he is the only one who could be in an eternal state of "needing" something to exist, simply because there is no "before God" or "without God" time.

But then we hit another logic mess, because we have God's "need-for-God" causing Godself, which is like one of those Escher pictures. It just goes round and round in a circle of illogic.

I don't think we can say that ANYTHING, truly, exists by necessity. Not God, because there is no one else to cause his necessity, and having him "need" himself is just freaky. Not us, because God has no need of us, but made us because he loves us and chose to make us freely.

Okay, have fun poking holes in my tangled mess of thoughts. [Devil]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Essentially, what animates? Can our science explain that yet? I don't think so.

Put simply, it's a bunch of proteins, amino acids, nucleic acids and other organic molecules reacting with each other.
Doesn't explain the animating force tho does it? It explains the mechanism in which the animating force resides.
Science has no business with your ‘animating force’ or faeries.

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این نیز بگذرد

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Essentially, what animates? Can our science explain that yet? I don't think so.

Put simply, it's a bunch of proteins, amino acids, nucleic acids and other organic molecules reacting with each other.
Doesn't explain the animating force tho does it? It explains the mechanism in which the animating force resides.
Science has no business with your ‘animating force’ or faeries.
Yes it does.

Last time I checked, it was about explaining the physical universe.

And as I believe God is in the physical universe, I was curious as to an explanation.

[ 12. July 2011, 12:03: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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a theological scrapbook

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Chorister

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If you believe that the universe is within God, then he is necessary in order for any of it to exist.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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IconiumBound
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I believe that god began when sentient beings, interested in their survival as the primary (and only) motivation realized that some "vegetables" were out of their reach and must belong to someone else. Thus, worship began in order to manipulate those others who controlled the untouchable vegetables. Sacrifice, animal and human, followed along with all the canons. So, was a god necessary in this scenario?
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Yorick

Infinite Jester
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Yes it does.

Um, no, I think you’re mistaken (and I’d say your position on this seems a trifle arrogant, if you’ll forgive my bluntness). Science is under no obligation to explain anything just because you assert it should, because you happen to believe it’s real and are curious about it. Indeed, if you want science to explain faeries, the onus is squarely on you firstly to prove to science that they in fact exist. Similarly, your ‘animating force’.

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این نیز بگذرد

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Once everything has got going it's perfectly capable of sustaining itself. The laws of physics operate whether there's a God or not. And so do we.

Actually, no, this is not the case. Or at least, Christianity claims that this is not the case. In fact, declaring God to be the "First Cause" in a traditional Christian sense rejects exactly this claim - and is not at all concerned with the question whether God caused the Big Bang. If the universe was eternal, without beginning or end, then the Christian God would still be its "First Cause". Because the "First" there is not meant in a temporal sense. What it rather means is that nothing can sustain itself or operate without God. Not the laws of physics, not we, nothing. It is in this sense that we ask "Why is there anything rather than nothing?", not in the sense "How did you get nothingness to quantum fluctuate into an inflationary universe," or whatever is the latest hypothesis in cosmology.

To explain, consider the screen you sit in front of as we speak. What is causing the image to appear that you are looking at right now? Electric currents adjusting liquid crystals on one hand and powering a back light on the other hand (or some other screen tech). What is causing this electric current to flow into the screen? A complicated setup of transmission cables, transformers etc. But what is causing this electricity to flow into the cables? Some turbine turning in a power plant, presumably. Let's say we track causation back further to steam production and ultimately the burning of coal, and then we call it a day. Please note that all this happens concurrently. (*) That we say the burning of coal comes before the image on your screen is not meant as saying that you first burn the coal, and then some seconds later you get the image. It is meant as saying that without the burning of coal, no image, rather than without the image, no burning of coal. There is a logical order of causation we see in this, rather than a temporal one. Note however that we just decided arbitrarily to put a stop at the burning of coal. We could have gone further and further with this, e.g., down to the quantum level, but concurrently. The question is: must this stop eventually? The answer is: yes, it must stop. We can, perhaps, imagine an infinite chain of temporal causation extending into eternity. But we cannot do this here. At this very point in time there is only an image on your screen because there's electricity flowing into liquid crystals and the back light, which is only there because it is flowing through the transmission cables, etc. If we never end this chain of logical causation, then there is no ultimate reason for you seeing an image. But you do see an image. So there must be an ultimate reason why this entire logical causation chain is present in its entirety, here and now. And the only way that can work is if there is Something that does not need to be caused in order to cause. A stopping point, and uncaused cause, the First Cause. A beginning of the immense logical chain of causation that ends in an image on your screen, and indeed everything else. And that is God, the Ultimate Causer of all that is, seen or unseen.

Perhaps to put it differently: if we compare the universe plus God to a mechanical watch, then you are unduly impressed by the mechanism apparently ticking along happily all by itself. The real question behind all the whirring and clicking is however, what is happening with the Mainspring? And this question is particularly vexing, because there is no "outside" here, there is just the watch. The Mainspring somehow must wind itself up! That is God.

(*) Yes, I am aware that there are minute conduction delays between electricity being generated and delivered to the screen, etc. That's really not the point, it's just the price to be paid for rendering this argument into objects of everyday human technology. More abstract "physics based" chains of concurrent logical causation can be build up easily, where all this formally holds.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Doesn't explain the animating force tho does it?

What "animating force"?

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
That is God.

I sense your keenness to get your point over, but ISTM you’re saying nothing more exciting than this: that, although science requires no First Cause in its explanation of the origins of everything, you religiously believe there is one, and it’s your God.

Have I missed something?

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این نیز بگذرد

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
What it rather means is that nothing can sustain itself or operate without God.

I realise that this is your belief, and I'm not going to argue against it on that basis. All I'm going to do is question whether one can start from a belief and thereby assert that the object of said belief is somehow necessary to everything that ever was, is or will be.

Fine, you believe that without God everything would simply stop working. I'm not so sure. I think we'd do just fine without God.

--------------------
Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
...although science requires no First Cause in its explanation of the origins of everything...

Ah, but is such an explanation of the origins of everything even needed? It might be nice, or even desirable, but if the world would keep running without it then it's quite simply not necessary.

And, as the world would indeed keep working even without an explanation of its ultimate first cause, that explanation (and thus God) is not necessary.

--------------------
Hail Gallaxhar

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Yorick

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
And, as the world would indeed keep working even without an explanation of its ultimate first cause, that explanation (and thus God) is not necessary.

Quite.

The only thing I need to keep me working right now is a cup of coffee.

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این نیز بگذرد

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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I think we'd do just fine without God.

It depends what you mean by God. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood God as creator and sustainer, ie. the first cause. Those functions may have been relegated to the Father/Holy Spirit when the Trinity was formulated, but that means they are still an essential feature of God.

[cross-posted]

[ 12. July 2011, 14:26: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]

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Jessie Phillips
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Interesting questions.

A related issue is what we call an "existential crisis".

I think I need to believe that I am necessary - to someone or something, or for some purpose. Okay, you could argue with me on that, in that I don't need to believe that I am necessary in the sense that I need to eat my next meal. But when I don't think that I am necessary for something or other - I'd call that an "existential crisis".

So I guess that when people talk about other people or organisations having "existential crises", it means the same thing.

Sometimes, it's possible for me to conceive of a purpose for myself, without God existing. And when I can, the question of whether God exists or not doesn't bother me.

However, if I can't conceive of a purpose for myself, then I may look to God to shore up belief in my own purpose. But God is only able to shore up my belief in my own purpose, when I think that God him or herself also has a purpose.

To put it another way, if God does not have a purpose, and if I need God to exist in order to have a purpose myself, then I do not have a purpose either. But if I don't need God to exist in order to have a purpose, then the question of whether God has a purpose or not, or whether God exists or not, becomes irrelevant.

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Necessary in what sense? God is necessary for us to explain the universe, where existence means caused. God is the Uncaused Cause of existence.

Indeed.

But the next question is - is it necessary to explain the universe?

If it is not necessary to explain the universe - then God becomes unnecessary again.

I don't know about others - but I for one generally don't lie awake at night that often, wondering whether the universe can be explained or not. [Biased]

quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Essentially, what animates? Can our science explain that yet? I don't think so.

Indeed. But does science need to explain it? Is it necessary for science to explain what animates?

Again - no.

Come to think of it - is it necessary for science to do anything at all? Is it necessary for science to exist? And if it was not necessary for science to exist - would that mean that science would cease to exist?

Personally, I think there are reasons why it is necessary for science to exist - however, science itself is not able to explain those reasons. Science is necessary for the purposes of improving our knowledge about how to ensure security of food supply, and improving our knowledge about how to defend ourselves against predators and natural threats. These two purposes in turn are necessary for the purpose of maintaining and developing civilisation, which itself is necessary for the purpose of ....

... ah, you could easily go round in circles on this one. But in practice, I think most of these things are argued back from some kind of idealism or utopianism or other.

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
I sense your keenness to get your point over, but ISTM you’re saying nothing more exciting than this: that, although science requires no First Cause in its explanation of the origins of everything, you religiously believe there is one, and it’s your God. Have I missed something?

Yes, indeed. The entire argument. The explanations of science are largely irrelevant here. To what extent they may explain the origins of everything is besides the point (though I'm quietly confident that you vastly overrate science's current and future scope in this regard). In the watch analogy, science is about how the cog wheels fit together, what the escape mechanism is doing, etc. Those are relevant and interesting questions of course. I do this sort of questioning for a living. But they are not the sort of question we are asking here. This is not physics, this is metaphysics. We are not asking how this cogwheel acts on that one, we are asking how come that there can be cogwheels acting on each other? We stop bending over the watch with a monocular in our eye, poking at this or that with a tiny screw driver, sit back and look at the whole thing and ask "Why is this ticking in the first place?"

Or consider the burning coal to image on screen narrative. The point of the narrative was neither the burning coal, nor the image on the screen, not anything in between. All that is basically arbitrary illustration. We care not about what does what there, as science does. We care not how for example electric currents change liquid crystals. We care that something does something. In a completely alien universe, maybe oeigh cause sddgh, which causes aagoh, and then follows alpoitu, upon which we see sdaklryg happening. That's all very interesting to the gagkhj, who need lots of sdaklryg, and anyway are curious about even the tiniest sddgh. But for us that's all what the fuck ever, it's their physics not ours. But we may still wonder about this: Does the alien universe buck stop at oeigh? Metaphysics is never alien, because it is about understanding the world abstracted from its concrete manifestation at a level of principle.

Let me boil down a bit more for you. Physics asks: Why "A->B"? Metaphysics asks: Why "A" perhaps, why "B" maybe - but in particular, why "->"? Theism is not about claiming "A=God: God->B". Theism is about claiming "God: A" perhaps, "God: B" maybe - but in particular, "God: ->".

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Fine, you believe that without God everything would simply stop working. I'm not so sure. I think we'd do just fine without God.

Where did anything in my argument require belief? I did not exactly quote a creed at you, did I now? The argument I've given can be attacked, but frankly that requires some subtlety. To the claim "it is just belief" it is completely impervious. No, it is not just belief. Actually, it is about as little belief as humanly possible.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

Posts: 12010 | From: Gone fishing | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Let me boil down a bit more for you. Physics asks: Why "A->B"? Metaphysics asks: Why "A" perhaps, why "B" maybe - but in particular, why "->"? Theism is not about claiming "A=God: God->B". Theism is about claiming "God: A" perhaps, "God: B" maybe - but in particular, "God: ->".

I think you've explained that very well.

Doesn't answer the question of "why God?", though. But you could just as easily ask, "why why?"

Why do things need to have reasons? Do things need to have reasons? If not, then why do people think things need to have reasons? Do people think things need to have reasons? If not, then why do we think that people think that things need to have reasons? Do we think that people think that things need to have reasons? If not ... and so on ad infinitum.

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
I think you've explained that very well.

Thank you.

quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
Doesn't answer the question of "why God?", though. But you could just as easily ask, "why why?" Why do things need to have reasons? Do things need to have reasons? If not, then why do people think things need to have reasons? Do people think things need to have reasons? If not, then why do we think that people think that things need to have reasons? Do we think that people think that things need to have reasons? If not ... and so on ad infinitum.

Ah, bravo! [Overused] To quote myself "The argument I've given can be attacked, but frankly that requires some subtlety." Got it in one, you did.

This is exactly the reason why I say that "brute fact atheism" can be a viable alternative, but only as a non-rational one. It requires denying the human "rational instinct" of seeking reasons one single, but crucial, step earlier than theism. One must say "this is not a proper question" to what very much looks like a proper question to the human intellect: What is the ultimate cause? One must cut the intellect's search short before it finds a reason-able resting point. Then, and only then, can one have no God.

That's why I find it so ironic that New Atheists bang on about the irrationality of religion. Whether miracles and angles and whatever else really are irrational can be debated. However, even if they were, this would merely amount to some kind of failure in getting one's fact straight. We make those errors all the time, no big deal really. However, the big question is what smart atheists like Russel were concerned with, namely the limits of reason. And there it is atheism, not theism, which must be pessimistic about reason and must limit its scope.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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shamwari
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Is oxygen necessary for life?

And is not God the oxygen of all life?

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Pyx_e

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I would believe in God, even if He did not exist.

All the best, Pyx_e

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It is better to be Kind than right.

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I'm not so sure. I think we'd do just fine without God.

That's what 'Adam' and 'Eve' thought too....

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
In the watch analogy, science is about how the cog wheels fit together, what the escape mechanism is doing, etc. Those are relevant and interesting questions of course. I do this sort of questioning for a living. But they are not the sort of question we are asking here. This is not physics, this is metaphysics. We are not asking how this cogwheel acts on that one, we are asking how come that there can be cogwheels acting on each other? We stop bending over the watch with a monocular in our eye, poking at this or that with a tiny screw driver, sit back and look at the whole thing and ask "Why is this ticking in the first place?"

{SNIP}

Let me boil down a bit more for you. Physics asks: Why "A->B"? Metaphysics asks: Why "A" perhaps, why "B" maybe - but in particular, why "->"? Theism is not about claiming "A=God: God->B". Theism is about claiming "God: A" perhaps, "God: B" maybe - but in particular, "God: ->".

You're a bloody legend when you're not an arrogant asshole IngoB. [Overused] [Overused]

I think that's what I meant by "animating force". But perhaps the term was too poncy.


quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Yes it does.

Um, no, I think you’re mistaken (and I’d say your position on this seems a trifle arrogant, if you’ll forgive my bluntness). Science is under no obligation to explain anything just because you assert it should, because you happen to believe it’s real and are curious about it. Indeed, if you want science to explain faeries, the onus is squarely on you firstly to prove to science that they in fact exist. Similarly, your ‘animating force’.
Life exists Yorick.

I'm just asking a different scientific question to you.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I'm not so sure. I think we'd do just fine without God.

That's what 'Adam' and 'Eve' thought too....
No they didn't!!!...

(please lord, don't let me get started on this again)

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a theological scrapbook

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
That is God.

I sense your keenness to get your point over, but ISTM you’re saying nothing more exciting than this: that, although science requires no First Cause in its explanation of the origins of everything,
Science requires no first cause in it's explanation of the origins of everything?

I wasn't aware science had an explanation for the origins of everything.

Care to share this bombshell? What explanation is that?

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a theological scrapbook

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Fine, you believe that without God everything would simply stop working. I'm not so sure. I think we'd do just fine without God.

Where did anything in my argument require belief? I did not exactly quote a creed at you, did I now? The argument I've given can be attacked, but frankly that requires some subtlety. To the claim "it is just belief" it is completely impervious. No, it is not just belief. Actually, it is about as little belief as humanly possible.
OK then, if you don't like the word "belief" I'll call it your unproven hypothesis. You cannot demonstrate the need for there to be a reason why everything does what it does, nor can you offer any evidence that without any such reason nothing would work, so that's all it is.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
And there it is atheism, not theism, which must be pessimistic about reason and must limit its scope.

Only to the extent that saying "we'll never know the answer to that question" is limiting the scope of reason.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by shamwari:
Is oxygen necessary for life?

No, actually.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
And there it is atheism, not theism, which must be pessimistic about reason and must limit its scope.

Only to the extent that saying "we'll never know the answer to that question" is limiting the scope of reason.
Christians do that.

But apparently Dawkins and Hawkins think the Universe can be explained by reason alone.

Didn't pay much attention to the Enlightenment.

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Sir Pellinore
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There are indeed people who feel that it is unnecessary for them to believe in what I suspect is an intellectual construct of 'God' to make sense of the universe and everything in it.

'God' to me is not primarily an intellectual concept which you can argue either for or against.

The late Archbishop Anthony Bloom was an atheist, growing up as a refugee in a poor and rough suburb of Paris, who felt that life was a bitter struggle to survive, until he had an experience that there was something more to life, that love and compassion mattered. That, to him, was the beginning of faith.

I do not have a problem with people not believing in 'God' because I think they are often responding to a false version of 'God' presented to them in their youth.

Sometimes I think atheists and agnostics show supposedly 'Christian' people up for their lack of real faith and practice.

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Well...

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Patdys
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyx_e:
I would believe in God, even if He did not exist.

All the best, Pyx_e

I think that is what atheists say about all Christians Pyx_e.

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Marathon run. Next Dream. Australian this time.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Pyx_e:
I would believe in God, even if He did not exist.

OK, I have to ask.

Why?

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
But apparently Dawkins and Hawkins think the Universe can be explained by reason alone.

I'd say the necessary stuff - the stuff that actually affects our lives, right here, right now - can be. It's only when you get to the silly questions like "why is there something instead of nothing" that there aren't any answers, and in terms of what's necessary the answer "there just is" suffices as well as any other.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
But apparently Dawkins and Hawkins think the Universe can be explained by reason alone.

I'd say the necessary stuff - the stuff that actually affects our lives, right here, right now - can be.
Well, yes. And more I think. In whatever sense it it possible to explain the universe it has to be possible to do it by reason because an account of the universe, or anything else, that is not reasonable is not in fact an explanation.

The opposite of logical thought is not a different way of thingking. It is the absence of thought, it is broken thought. "Reasonable" and "rational" and "logical" are words we use to describe thoughts and arguments that are working properly. We can't know everything. Maybe we can hardly know anything at all. But whatever we do know we have to know rationally because that's what we mean by "know". We can be mistaken of course, but it is possible to be rationally mistaken - you can be deluded or ignorant or unaware or kept in the dark about something without being irrational.

If God exists as described in traditional Jewish/Christian/Muslim teachings, i.e the eternal creator of the universe but not part of the universe, then it isn't possible to find evidence of God within the universe unless God has put it there, we can't experiment on God or observe God,so we must depend on revelation for knowledge of God. but that's not the opposite of reason, that's using reason. If there is a God to know and if it is possible to know God then our knowledge of God must be by means of reason, that's what knowledge is.

As for the OP, I think I agree that if God exists (as described etc. etc) then it must be neccessary that God exists. And obviously if there is no God it can't be neccessary that God exists. So if the question means anything at all (maybe it doesn't...) it has to mean "do you believe in God?"

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
But apparently Dawkins and Hawkins think the Universe can be explained by reason alone.

Do Dawkins and Hawkins really think that? Hmm. Why do we think that that's what they think?

I'd suspect that Hawkins is more likely to think that than Dawkins.

I think part of the problem is that there's not quite as strong a consensus on the meaning of "God" as there is on the meaning of "Teapot". For that reason, the Russell's Teapot analogy of the non-existence of God doesn't really apply. Some of the things that atheists describe as their own view of the origin of life and the universe, are in fact not that far away from what some people think is the definition of the word "God".

We're also similarly stuck in discussion of the necessity of God.

It seems to me that the more narrowly you define something, the less necessary that thing will appear to be. And I don't think that God is any exception to that.

quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
The late Archbishop Anthony Bloom was an atheist, growing up as a refugee in a poor and rough suburb of Paris, who felt that life was a bitter struggle to survive, until he had an experience that there was something more to life, that love and compassion mattered. That, to him, was the beginning of faith.

I think there's something more to life as well. However, I find that a narrowly dogmatic view of God doesn't help to explain and articulate that "something". Indeed, I think it's easier to explain the "something more to life" without any reference to God at all, than by being dogmatic about who or what God is.
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Pyx_e

Quixotic Tilter
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyx_e:
I would believe in God, even if He did not exist.

OK, I have to ask.

Why?

Because even if it is all made up nonsense I am nothing without the hope of Him.

All the best, Pyx_e.

--------------------
It is better to be Kind than right.

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