Joined: Jan. 2006
|Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Oct. 30 2007,01:13)|
|Quote (Louis @ Oct. 29 2007,16:12)|
I don't agree that the dichotomy being set up is valid. The fact that something exists as opposed to nothing does not neccessitate belief in a deist god. It's an appeal to ignorance...
Hi Louis -
Of course, I am here describing/defending a position that I don't actually hold.
That said, the word I used is "justify": "...that would be all the justification one would need." The standard isn't proof - so far as I can tell, there is no proof to be had either way - but rather justification; in the likely permanent absence of evidentiary proof (and almost certainly the absence of likely evidentiary proof in my lifetime, which is what counts in my case), I would say that belief in God can be "justified." Just as belief that no God exists can be "justified." In essence, this is an existential choice, and the justification of that choice: which sort of life does one wish to experience? The sort of life in which one believes in God (perhaps mistakenly), or the one in which one does not (perhaps mistakenly).
|There may yet be reasons why something rather than nothing exists which we have not uncovered. There is a huge leap to a deity implicit in that claim, one that does not follow from that simple observation...|
I think here you are bypassing the really interesting thrust of your original questions: simply, what would the consequence of concluding or discovering you are wrong about one of these important dimensions of world view? To get mired in analysis of the rationale for the shift in view distracts from the original question: as I read it, you are asking "stipulate that you came to understand/know that your view is wrong; what consequence would that have?"
|Secondly, I also don't agree that the "gee, I'd be happy to find out something new about the world" attitude is hugely unrealistic. |
Perhaps I should stay with what I know: I am guessing that would be an unrealistic portrayal of what my own reaction would likely be.
|There are a number of assumptions I would take issue with however. These assumptions rest on the nature(s) of this new found deity/deities. For a simple example what if the deity in question was novel, not one of the ones imagined by humans before? How do yu know that this deity can be communicated with by prayer/meditation etc. How do you know for example that your atheism and use of reason in debate with theists wasn't exactly what this deity wanted? My point is that, as I said before, apart from the excitement of new discovery, the other feelings and ramifications of discovery that a deity/set of deities exist(s) are very dependant on the nature of that deity/those deities. I'd feel a lot more like you describe if for example Jehovah/Allah/Yahweh or the Sikh God was the one who existed because, as you imply, there are definite details about those deities' preferences and I wouldn't have fulfilled them (if those details are accurate at least). |
Of course, you are absolutely right here. In imagining this counterfactual reality I was imagining a personal God, one that both authored all reality (whatever that means) and yet with which one can have an intimate relationship. I started from a contemporary conception of God that is, I think, extraordinarily powerful, which is why it is both widely held and often transformative. This is what I envisioned stipulating as I imagined my counterfactual world. Of course, all sorts of other demiurges are possible, however.
Wouldn't you be stunned, and rendered speechless, to come to realize that (say) the essence of your being and the author of the universe were similar in nature, capable of communing - indeed that your essence is in reality an infinitesimal droplet of that essentially infinitely oceanic author - a fact that forever liberates you from death? And would you not be dismayed to learn that you had resisted that idea all your life, now that you understood yourself to be wrong?
But the above IS counterfactual:
"Speaking for myself, I feel my level of comprehension of such things stands in relation to these facts much as an ocean going larva stands in relation to the Pacific ocean itself. Indeed, the universe being disclosed by contemporary science (and here I most emphatically include evolutionary biology) is so vastly larger and richer than any pre-modern view of any deity that I would argue that the concept of “God” is best properly viewed as an historical placeholder for these larger, vastly more rich realities, a placeholder that we could only just now have discarded. If some people are not quite ready for that, I understand completely.
What we don’t find in this contemporary view, however, is a larger agency that resembles human agency, nor refuge from death. That’s the tradeoff. I am an atheist in that sense: I don’t believe in life after death, and I don’t believe that something resembling the human capacity for intentionality and design underlie this particular shebang. I am sympathetic to those who believe that it does, but happen to believe that they are mistaken."
Oh I agree that the interesting part of the question is the "if, then" aspect you mention (hence why I'm trying to keep it that way. I might fail occsionally, I'm not perfect, who knew!? ;-) ).
I have to say that I'm not even sure I'd go as far as agreeing with "justified", even though I see the distinction you're making and have reached similar accomodations with believing friends in these discussions.
Anyway enough of that and onto the interesting stuff!
Would I be stunned etc if I came to realise that the essence of my being and the author of the universe were similar in nature and capoable of communicating? Sure! But that is, again, one type of deity. Dr GH raised an interesting point that an evolved deity might be the thing that existed, i.e. one not necessarily the creator/author/prime mover type of deity.
However, since I already think (due to an overwhelming preponderance of evidence) that my "essence" is exactly the same as that of the universe around me, and that I am an infinitesimal droplet of that "essence", an "essence" which, as far as the word "forever" means anything will continue on forever deathless, the idea of some conscious entity that fulfills this role is entirely superfluous to requirements.
Lest anyone think I'm being all woo woo mystical and spiritual, I'm not. Bog standard atoms and molecules are good enough for me. My consciousness is unlikely to persist after my death in anything like the same form (I do wonder what the demcomposition of one's brain feels like, consciousness after all arises from the chemistry of our brains. We might blink out like an extinguished lamp, we might fade away gradually, we might become someone else briefly [I.e. that which is me might change, not that I possess someone] I don't know, I've never done it and haven't figured out a way to test it yet). Is that such a terrible thing? Out of all the possible people that could have lived, i have done and am doing. That a big enough bonus for me!
On a seperate but related note, I have never understood why people are so determined to add spiritual crap to an already wonderful universe. Ok, so that's not entirely true because I do understand it! What I mean is that the reality of the universe is wonderful enough, and we uncover more of it every day, why waste time claiming that it works a way it demonstrably does not? Why not explore how it does work and celebrate that?
[Swiss Tony] As with all things, the universe is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. Tease her, query her, get her to reveal some of herself and then probe as far as you can. But if you're thinking about someone else whilst you're doing it then you've missed the point of what you're doing![/Swiss Tony]
As for resisting the idea of a deity all my life, well I simply haven't! I don't resist the idea at all, in fact just like chupacbra, UFOs, unicorns, pixies, sorcery, homeopathy, refloxology, shamanism, voodoo and supporting the England rugby team I welcome the idea. I just hold it to the same standards as any other idea. It really is that simple. Which I understand might be hard for some people (not you) to grasp. I say this a lot but I simply don't care about WHAT is known, I care about HOW we know it. If gods and demons and angels and unicorns etc exist then there's only one way to find out. I don't think a combination of appeals to mystery and ignorance, special pleading, claims of divine revelation and faux special uniqueness acheive this. If a god, or some gods, or just unicorns exist, I want to know dammit! Hell, I'd be happy with magic. I'd quite like to see the change in my spam email from "take this pill to make your dick bigger" to "cast this level 1 dick embiggening charm to make your dick bigger". It would amuse me.
That last bit is humourous. If the world worked by magic, we'd be in a horrible mess.
What you have said before, and that you quote again, I think is spot on by the way! I cannot add to it because it's already quite wonderful. So I won't!