Sunday, May 01, 2005

Faith

"I believe it because god just can not be described, understood, or defined by logic."-Nico
"God was never about logic or reason, although some people think that their belief is based on reason and logic."-Om

This paragraph will not be an argument against faith-- instead it will be a journey down a hypothetical path. Assume, hypothetically, that I am inventing a religion. I have everything I need to start a religion-- I've invented a God, I've invented a book written by my God, I've written down moral laws that I think are awesome, I have ways followers should worship God, I've designated a specific day of the week that should be devoted only to the worship of my god... the only thing I don't have is any kind of proof that my God exists. What can I possibly do? I know what I could do.... I could write it into the text of my book that followers of my God should not try to prove his existence and instead should just believe in him blindly without any evidence or proof. Wait... nobody would fall for that... unless I came up with a different, more romantic name for "believing in something blindly without any evidence or proof"... I could call it... "faith"...Problem solved.

The first problem I have with faith is this... how do you decide what to have faith in?

You could have faith in anything... a flying orange rhino, a 3 inch tall inside-out giraffe, Buddha or Jesus. How do you decide? You must use logic and reason. If you're trying to decide which religion you think is correct you are using logic and reason... but if you're using logic and reason you should see that there is no logic or reason behind believing in God. So ultimately in the search for which religion is right you are searching for the most logical of the illogical. Which I suppose is good enough for some people-- but sounds ridiculous to me.

The second problem I have with faith can be expressed in the form of this simple argument:
1) We should act in accordance to logic and reason.
2) The absence of logic and reason is in the definition of "Faith".
3) We should not have faith.

The typical counter-argument attempts to show that I, the non-believer, have faith in a lot of things in the world-- thus, for me to say that one should not have faith is to make a hypocrite out of myself. Thomas almost made this argument when he said:

"Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all."

However, he made a mistake in choosing reason...In the definition of the word reason there is nothing having to do with the relation of ideas to the real world. We can certainly use reason without needing to know anything for certain about the real world. It's really one of the few things we do know for sure... this is Descartes 101: I can doubt everything away (it is possible that we live in something like the matrix where what we sense is not real) except for two things: (1) myself as a rational, thinking being and (2) doubt. I cannot doubt my mind or doubt away because to do that would be inherently contradictory; To doubt reason is to partake in reasoning.

Had Thomas not used reason and instead used something in the real world-- he would have been using a very common theist argument... something similar to these:

How do you know that you have a brain? You've never seen it or touched it... you have no experience of it at all. Thus, if you believe that you have a brain then you must have faith that you have a brain. If you have faith in your brain why not have faith in God?

or

When you experience something you have no proof that your experience coincides with the actual world. To trust your experiences is to have faith in them. If you have faith in your experiences then why not have faith in God?

These arguments assume that I believe that I have a brain and assume that I trust my experiences... However, I do not think we can know anything about the world with certainty... therefore, I would say that I don't know that I have a brain and I don't trust my experiences. Whether or not the world I live in really exists as I experience it is something I'll never know-- but I do know that for now I am stuck experiencing the world as it is. So how do I function in the world that I can never be sure even exists? I use probability based on experience. I have seen evidence that shows how humans function and that shows that humans need a brain to function... so it is possible that the evidence I saw was bogus and humans really don't have brains-- but the number of people that would have to be involved to make that lie happen is so astronomical that the probability of me finding a brain if I cut my head open is extremely large. Granted I do not know for sure.

Many people will try to tie this to religious faith. Even if you think by acting with regard to probabilities that I am having some kind of faith it still would not give any justification to having faith in God. Faith in God is not based on experience, logic, reason or probability unlike my use of probability in regard to my brain or gravity. Some of you will say "Of course faith in God is not based on experience, logic, reason or probability... if it was based on those things it would not be faith!"-- precisely... and that is why when I base choices on the probability of me having a brain or of gravity working tomorrow I am not exhibiting anything like faith in God.

As can be seen by our hypothetical journey-- it's easy to see why creators of religions would want faith to be an integral part of their religion... there's really no way to argue against it. Faith is defined as "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence"-- so to argue that it is illogical to have faith sounds silly since the concept of illogicality is contained within the definition of faith.

"Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence"-- when read alone it sounds as though this sentence is a definition of a fallacy of argumentation... not a definition of a belief that people would want or be proud of having.

24 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

How is there "no logic or reason behind believing in God?"

Furthermore, I disagree with Nico and Om on their understandings of faith. I think that with a little revision, Nico's statement can be salvaged: "I believe it because God just cannot be [fully] described, understood, or defined by logic." - New Nico statement

And Om's statement becomes more acceptable with a bit more extensive revision: "God was never [completely] about logic or reason, [because] some [people's faith]...[begins in] reason and logic."

I think that my faith makes sense in light of reason and logic. But I will further explain this at a later time, as I am writing two posts, it is late, and I am tired. But I just wanted a question answered and for you to consider my revisions.

2:43 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I thought my last post showed why there is no logical reason to believe in God.

Perhaps my last post was a bit of a straw-man... I'm sure there are other arguments for the existence of God... I just chose the most popular ones.

I would like to hear how you can logically and reasonably justify belief in God.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Tommy T said...

I know I'm not Paul but I do have an answer. (These posts are fun and infrequent, I'm sure I have some rebuttals from my earlier posts but I haven't the time nor inclination to answer everything sent my way)

So Jeff*,
With regards to your question, see the Summa:
"Regarding the unity of the divine essence, we must first believe that God exists. This is a truth clearly known by reason. We observe that all things that move are moved by other things, the lower by the higher. The elements are moved by heavenly bodies; and amoung the elements themselves, the stronger moves the weaker; and amoung the heavenly bodies, the lower are set in motion by the higher. This process cannot be traced back into infinity. For everything that is moved by another is a sort of instrument of the first mover. Therefore, if a fist mover is lacking, all things that move will be instruments. But if the series of movers and things moved is infinite, there can be no first mover. In such a case, these infinitely many movers and things moved will all be instruments. But even the unlearned perceive how ridiculous it is to suppose that instruments are moved, unless they are set in motion by some principal agent. This would be like fancying that, when a chest or a bed is being build, the saw or the hatchet performs its functions without the carpenter. Accordingly, there must be a first mover that is above all the rest; and this being we call God."
Further even if there is no Day of Creation there must be a Creator. Looking at Being or Existence as it is now, we see a second thing about it; it LOOKS secondary and dependent. Existence exists; but it is not sufficiently self-existent; and would never become so merely by going on existing. The same primary sense which tells us it is Being, tells us that it is not perfect Being; not merely imperfect in the popular controversial sense of containing sin or sorrow; but imperfect as Being; less actual then the actuality it implies. For instance, its Being is often only Becoming; beginning to Be or ceasing to Be; it implies a more constant or complete thing of which it gives in itself no example. That is the meaning of St. Thomas' phrase, "Everything that is moving is moved by another"; which means more than the mere Deistic "somebody wound the clock" with which it is probably often confounded. Anyone who thinks deeply will see that motion has about it an essential incompleteness, which approximates to something more complete.
The actual argument is rather technical; and concerns the fact that potentiality does not explain itself; moreover, in any case, unfolding must be of something folded. Suffice it to say that the mere modern evolutionists, that would ignore the argument, do not do so because they have discovered any flaw in the argument; for they have never discovered the argument itself. They do so because they are too shallow to see the flaw in their own argument; for the weakness of their thesis is covered by fashionable phraseology, as the strength of the old thesis is covered by old-fashioned phraseology. But for those who really think, there is always something really unthinkable about the whole evolutionary cosmos, as they conceive it; because it is something coming out of nothing; an every increasing flood of water pouring out of an empty jug. Those who can simply accept that, without even seeing the difficulty, are not likely to go so deep as Aquinas and see the solution of his difficulty. In a word, the world does not explain itself, and cannot do so merely by continuing to expand itself. But anyhow, it is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing and then pretend that it is MORE thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.

A note concerning my "mistake" in choosing reason: One can most certainly use reason without knowing anything about the real world. One cannot assume that the act of reasoning isn't inherently flawed or misleading without an act of faith. To use reason to prove an argument presupposes that reason works, that it is an effective tool to finding truth. One could reason from here to eternity but it may not have any connection to reality. The quotation stands.

A point I didn't touch on earlier: your idea that the government should be viewed as "current source of a moral code. If they disagree with how the government is being run or what the government says is right or wrong then every citizen should work to change that government..." If a citizen disagreed with current law, wouldn't that be immoral based on your code? What impetus would there be for changing laws? There must be a drive that supercedes these laws to implement change. Further should these laws change (as they often do) what does that mean about our "moral system." Is morality fluid? More importantly, is Truth?
You further contend that there are corrupt religions figures and institutions. Yes. I agree whole-heartedly. I will readily admit that the church has badly failed the Gospel (and those who don't agree must be reading a different version of either history or the Bible). In fact, one of the strongest arguments in favor of Christianity is the failure of Christians, who thereby prove what the Bible teaches about the Fall and original sin. As the world goes wrong, it proves that the church is right in this basic doctrine.

Many people (esp. Christians of the brand that annoy the snot out of me) believe that faith runs counter to logic or reason. That is ridiculous! To claim that God is Truth and then further claim that the only way to Truth is faith, must then disregard science, etc. For if they cannot lead to God (Truth) then they must be false. I would pose an opposing theory. That Science and Religion or reason and faith are not in conflict but rather in misunderstanding. For example (for my Christian readers) in the matter of the inspiration of Scripture, fix first on the obvious fact; the meaning of Scripture is very far from self-evident; and that we must often interpret it in the light of other truths. If a literal interpretation is really and flatly contradicted by an obvious fact, why then we can only say that the literal interpretation must be a false interpretation. But the fact must really be an obvious fact. And, unfortunately, modern scientists are just as ready to jump to the conclusions that any guess about nature was an obvious fact, as were seventeenth-century sectarians to jump to the conclusion that any guess about Scripture was the obvious explanation. They, private theories about what the Bible ought to mean, and premature theories about what the world ought to mean, have met in loud in widely advertised controversy; and this clumsy collision of two very impatient forms of ignorance is known as the quarrel of Science and Religion.
I contend that if scientists could really prove their practical discoveries, the traditional interpretation of Scripture must give way before these discoveries. To claim that fact and Truth are at odds is foolish at best. Alternatively, Religion answers many questions which science is unable to answer in a fitting manner. It is quite rational (with the existence of God) to assume that the average man might not be able to reason all truth so some might be revealed to make the attempt easier.

In my earlier missives it might have seemed that I was attacking Reason. I was not. I was only revealing the inherent dangers in its myopic use. For what does breed insanity but reason? Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am NOT attacking logic merely stating that this danger exists in logic not imagination. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that when a poet really was morbid it was commonly because he had some weak spot of rationality on his brain. Poe, for instance, really was morbid; not because he was poetical, but because he was specially analytical. Even chess was too poetical for him; he disliked chess because it was full of knights and castles, like a poem. Me avowedly preferred the black disks of draughts, because they were more like the mere black discs of draughts, because they were more like the mere black dots on a diagram. Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was someone else. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.


*Wanna play poker soon?

4:07 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Tommy T: “Existence exists; but it is not sufficiently self-existent; and would never become so merely by going on existing”

This may be your opinion but there is no way to know whether or not existence is self-sufficient.

Tommy T: “That is the meaning of St. Thomas' phrase, "Everything that is moving is moved by another"; which means more than the mere Deistic "somebody wound the clock" with which it is probably often confounded.”

Since there is no way to support your first quote—the argument is no longer valid.

Tommy T: “But anyhow, it is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing and then pretend that it is MORE thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

I think the proper argument would be is that it is just as unthinkable for God to come from nothing as it is for the universe to come from nothing. We have no reason to believe that the universe was caused by God... because that leads naturally to the question—what caused God? If nothing caused God why couldn’t nothing have caused the universe?

And even if you could prove that something other than the universe had to start the universe you can’t prove that it was a single God, or an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God, or a competent God. And you certainly can’t prove that your religion is right.

Tommy T: “Further even if there is no Day of Creation there must be a Creator. Looking at Being or Existence as it is now, we see a second thing about it; it LOOKS secondary and dependent.”

Again this is your opinion... I don’t think it looks secondary and dependent... I don’t think that there is any way that we could tell the difference between secondary dependent existence and primary independent existence. And there is certainly no way for you to prove that existence is secondary and dependent.

Tommy T: “But for those who really think, there is always something really unthinkable about the whole evolutionary cosmos, as they conceive it; because it is something coming out of nothing; an every increasing flood of water pouring out of an empty jug.”

No matter how we look at existence whether you’re a theist, agnostic or athiest... existence is always going to contain one of two things that our mind can’t grasp—something having always existed or something popping into existence with no cause.

concise.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Tommy T said...

*Sigh*
You sound so angry*.
*Tsk, *Tsk*

Since you chose to argue, not with the Summa but with my own (am sure in no way up-to-standards) reasoning, and not with the Summa, I direct you to grab a copy of the Summa which outlines in a logical fashion that you either chose to ignore or cannot argue with, the existance, the immoblility, the everlasting existance of, the absence of succession in, the simplicity of, the unicity of, the infinity of, the infinite power of, the absense of imperfection in, the impossiblity of defining, the intellegnce of, and the volition of God amoungst other issues. Hell, I'll lend you a copy, if you have the desire. All that first section is based SOLELY on the logic that you claim cannot lead to faith. Further most of it has done before by Pagan philosophers.

Would be happy to discuss this in person, but we both are running short on time.

*Still serious about the poker.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I don't have the full essay that I originally wanted to type, but I will try to delineate my thoughts in a concise manner.

My simple reasoning is based off of a wonderful book that I highly recommend. It is called "God: The Oldest Question," by Fr. William J. O'Malley. In this book, he describes why faith is needed and then proceeds to examine each of the major and ancient faiths from atheism to the eastern religions to Judaism to Christianity and more, finally stating why he settled on Christianity. It is at least a good look into a variety of religions if nothing else.

The reasoning here is inductive and the arguments are as follows:

As far as we know, we human beings are the only species that commits suicide of its own volition. This begs a question: Why would we want to take our own lives? It must be due to a dissatisfaction with something in our lives, since we are aware of ourselves and and the state of our lives (unlike any other species that we know of). Well then, there must be something that can prevent that dissatisfaction with living, something which makes one feel "happy" (for lack of a better term) with one's life. This allows most people to continue living, even when everything else seems to suggest otherwise. Let's look at some of the things that the world claims will make us "happy," namely sex, drugs, and rock and...I mean, money, and while we're at it, we'll toss fame in there. These things all, supposedly, lead to "happiness." Well, there are a number of people who have had all of these things, and much of them. Yet some of these people have still ended up killing themselves (for example, Marilyn Monroe...I think...unfortunately, I cannot currently remember all of the examples, but I think another of them was Janis Joplin...correct me if I'm wrong, and I'll find the names later). Basically, if these people purportedly "had it all," the fame, the sex, the money, the drugs, then why did they still end up deciding that life was not worth living? I'm not saying this is always the case, or even that their cases are the best examples, but it does point to the fact that something is missing in the lives of those who oftentimes seem to have everything. There seems, then, to be something else that we are all seeking, a desire to feel complete and full (the reason everyone is looking for the "next high"), and we find different ways of varying success to satiate this longing for fulfillment. The question becomes this: if the things of this world will not fulfill me, what will bring me this fulfillment?

This does not of necessity point directly to God or any religion for that matter. I do think, however, that it becomes the logical springboard for searching for something else. Through inductive reasoning, we can see that this world doesn't seem to offer everything we want. This is the point, I would argue, where faith steps in, the point where we decide to believe in something that we cannot fully explain, but that by ruling out other possibilities we know to be there. This, again, does not mean God necessarily; it could simply mean that there is a higher form of love, a more fulfilling one than the kind that is expressed in one night stands. It could be the starting point for a hope for something better than this world. It could be any number of things; the point is that there must be something else.

At this point, even if we determine there to be some higher form of love, it would seem that even this cannot give us complete fulfillment. Arguing from Plato's world of the forms, everything in this world would be a diminished version of the perfect form. In this case, even love as we express it is not its purest, most perfect form. Then it would seem that there must be something else beyond the scope of what we readily perceive. As C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, "If I find in myself a desire which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical conclusion is that I was made for another world." (That might be a slight paraphrasing as I typed it from memory.)

The point to the argument being this: everyday we search for something that will bring us happiness, that will make us feel more alive; yet, no matter what means we use, drugs, money, power, good grades, good friends, caring relationships, a fun game, skydiving, nothing will give us a lasting happiness, regardless of how "good" or "bad" it is. But then why do we permanently have the desire for ultimate fulfillment. There must be something to which our desires are ordered. What that is cannot be determined by this line of reasoning, but we can conclude that something else does exist.

This has been what I think to be a logical basis for a belief in faith. This points to no particular faith, the discernment of which being a matter of then determining what seems to make the most sense as a faith. This argument serves only to illustrate that faith in something seems to be a logical choice.

I hope I have articulated my arguments clearly and that it was not just repetitive. Let me know what you think of this line of thought. I know it helped me make sense of the world at one point in my life, and that is why I offer it as a logical ground for the beginning of a faith.

I hope at some point to have a more thorough, better articulated disquisition on faith itself, but this will have to do for now.

3:15 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

To Thomas--

I thought I touched on all the major arguments of the summa... to be more specific i'll hit on all 5 of St. Tommy's major points:

1) There must be a first mover who is unmoved:

There is no way to prove that there must be a first mover or that there was a first movement. It's a paradox-- to say that there was a first cause is to say that something caused the first movement... but why did they cause that first movement? Something had to cause God to make that movement if he is indeed the first mover. And to say that nothing moved God to create the universe is just as likely to be true as saying that the universe had no first cause.

2) There must be a first causer in the chain of causes:

Same argument as above-- What caused the first cause? nothing? Why couldn't there be no first cause to the universe?

3) An absolutely necessary being must exist:

This is based on the contingency of everything that we know. My existence was contingent on my parents existence... and so on. So if everything is contingent there must be something necessary. Yes either existence must be necessary or God must be necessary. Again either God has always existed or the universe has always existed. A lot of people like to use the following argument to prove the neccessary existence of God:
If God = Greatest Conceivable Being
To necessarily exist > To contingently exist
┤God Necessarily exists.

This falls apart b/c the first statement is actually two separate statements-- it should be (1) If God exists (2) and god is the greatest conceivable being... thus, the only thing this argument says is that if God exists he necessarily exists. It says nothing about his actual existence.

4) an absolutely perfect being must exist:

Perfection deals with truths by definition. It does not mean that they exist outside of their definition.

To prove my point let us take a truth by definition; let's take triangularity. Triangularity is defined as 3 points not in a straight line connected by 3 straight lines and the 3 angles created will equal 180 degrees. There is nothing in the definition that requires that perfect triangles exist in the real world-- and we have no reason to believe that any actual perfect triangles exist in the world. We can look at triangles in nature and discuss why they are not perfect... and there is still no need for the actual existence of a perfect triangle.

The same goes with any sort of truth by definition... just because you can imagine a more perfect existence does not mean that perfect existence must exist.

5) there must be a rational designer:

This is basically the teleological argument... Read my arguments against the teleological argument in my post "The Long Awaited Existence of God Post" from April 27th.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Lauren Hastings said...

Hello,
I'm sure you prefer for people who are very philosophical and well read on all these debatable subjects, but I stumbled across your page and have some thoughts. You talk about the logic, or lack thereof, of faith. You talk about not being able to prove pretty much anything that has to do with religion. In my experience I have found that being able to prove something doesn't make it true or untrue. I also agree that in this life time nobody will ever be able to prove the existence of God, the Christian God or any other. I do know, however, that having something to believe in, my God, has proven to bring me through depression, has made me a happier, more pleasant person, and for the most part, more able to experience the joys that are abundant in our lives. It has been a trial and error experience, in which I have had to have blind faith in this God who is unprovable, and in doing so have experienced things that give evidence towards His existence. Whether or not this evidence should be enough to keep me a believer is still to be known. In the meantime, I choose to continue to believe, because ultimately life is more meaningful for me when doing so. I can't figure out why somebody would want to choose that there is no better place to go after we die...that this is it...a constant struggle trying to prove or disprove everything. I do appreciate the value of close examination of the things that are difficult to understand, however I think that ultimately we cannot prove or disprove anything in this lifetime because of the inherent flaw that we are human, we will die, and until that happens, the truth, or "untruth" of gods or heavenly beings cannot be fully revealed to us. And for this reason I choose to use the phrase "innocent until proven guilty," because I would rather die and find out that there is no God and that I lived a life to be proud of, serving other people and trying to make the world a better place, than to die and realize that I had been trying to disprove a God and not get to partake in the wonders that await those who did believe.

Thats all, I hope very much that you are doing well.

11:50 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

A response to Lauren--

"In my experience I have found that being able to prove something doesn't make it true or untrue."

If you have proof of something-- that would make it true... the definition of "prove" is "To establish the truth or validity of by presentation of argument or evidence."

I realize that we cannot prove whether or not God exists... that is why I do not claim to know whether or not God exists.

I do realize that good things come from religion... but these good things don't come from the truth of the belief. I could believe in a talking dinosaur that tells me to do good things and it could improve my life... but it wouldn't make belief in the dinosaur any less ridiculous.

I understand people who use Pascal's Wager-- that the benefits of believing in God outweigh the potential punishment from not believing. I understand-- but I think it's a lousy argument. I prefer believing in the truth instead of making the safest bet... and I think you would agree that people shouldn't just believe in God for fear of the possible consequences.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

'If you have proof of something-- that would make it true... the definition of "prove" is "To establish the truth or validity of by presentation of argument or evidence."'

I could love somebody, but because of my nature not be able to behave in the proper manner to be able to prove it. Similarly I could treat somebody so well that you might be able to "prove" that I love them, when in fact I don't love them at all, and just for some reason that benifits me, have decided to treat them as if I did. This is what I mean by just because you can "prove" something with "evidence" still does not mean that it is absolutely true or untrue.

'and I think you would agree that people shouldn't just believe in God for fear of the possible consequences.'

Of course I agree that people shouldn't believe in God for fear of the possible consequences. But what's the point in not believing something when it can't be proved untrue and when it brings joy and comfort to your life. I don't know what your exact stance on spirituality and whether or not you are faithful, however your entries seem to point in the other direction. But I do know that the deeper my relationship with God and His Son gets, the more joy I experience. This is similar to a romantic relationship...the deeper it gets, the more joy it brings us. So if you haven't experienced great joy through or because of God, perhaps you should try going at it from a different angle. As I stated before, trial and error is the best way to go at it....what do you have to lose?

Forgive me for refering to "love" so much, its a bad habit, I'm a girl.

1:09 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

First, I don't think that love exists as something outside of it being a word that we use to describe a feeling. It's a very unspecific word to describe a wide range of emotions and love is a very relative concept: I don't think any two persons' concepts of love will be the same. So the existence of God doesn't parallel the existence of a word we use to describe emotions.

As I said before I really don't like the argument of "what do you have to lose by believing in God?" You could say that about any sort of belief... If I wanted you to believe in an invisible Bear named Sal... I could say "What do you have to lose by believing in Sal?" So I very well can't believe in everything... so I must use reason to figure out what I know and what I don't know... and I'm sorry God just didn't make the cut.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

I am not using love as an adjective but as a noun. If there is a God, and He is a perfect being as we should assume a God to be, then whatever love is, according to anybody's definition, this God will be. And by saying according to anybody's definition, I am speaking strictly concerning the definitions already in use by people, not a hypothetical definition about something negative that you might decide to make up to try to argue with me. I prefer to use the definition in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13.

"As I said before I really don't like the argument of 'what do you have to lose by believing in God?'"

That isn't exactly what I said, I said what do you have to lose by trying, not by believing. And I apologize that you don't like that argument. However, I don't like the argument that you tried and it didn't work out the way you thought it should, so you are going to give up. When you were learning to ride a bike did you fall down and decide that that wasn't the way it was supposed to work and give up? When you started college did you decide that it was harder than you expected and quit? I'm not trying to call you a quiter, I don't know the circumstances you've been through, and if they're anything like those I've experienced it isn't easy to want to keep trying. I work at the Methodist Children's Home with kids who have been through more pain and suffering than I will ever have to know. It isn't easy for them either. Some of them haven't made it through that suffering yet and can't fathom the existence of a God. But some of them have been healed and today will boldly proclaim that they would not be alive today were it not through divine intervention, namely that of the Christian God. So I encourage you to continue to try, even if it isn't easy. That is where you have nothing to lose. Even an exploration of other faiths is worth trying, and I don't think you have anything to lose in that either. I strongly believe that if you are actively seeking the truth, that God, whomever that may be, will reveal Himself to you. A God has revealed Himself to me, to the kids at the Methodist Home, and I can't imagine that He would do it for us and not for you. And if you do all that you can, and He never does, I don't want to worship Him either...so keep me posted.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Jeff,

Just wondering if you have any responses to my post from before you replied to Thomas's arguments. I'd just like to hear what you think. Thanks.

1:29 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

To Paul--

Why do people desire some sort of ultimate fulfillment?

Because the thought of it sounds awesome. Who wouldn’t want to live a life of ultimate bliss? It seems only natural that people would want live the best life possible. Honestly... only the most shallow of people really think that sex, drugs, money and fame bring ultimate happiness.

I’d also argue that this feeling of dissatisfaction is not universal... I do, however, think it is especially prominent in our western culture that idolizes those with money and fame. I think that there are many people who are completely content with their lives... they have good family—they are content with their job—they feel no need for anything more.

You make a huge jump from saying that people desire better lives to saying “There must be something to which our desires are ordered. What that is cannot be determined by this line of reasoning, but we can conclude that something else does exist.”

No you can’t... just because people strive for a better, more happy life does not mean that there is some higher form of love or that there is a place that can give us ultimate happiness... you make a horribly illogical jump.

I think the only thing that your post proves is a point that I made in one of my first posts: The only reason people believe in God is because of fear and hope. People are fear that their miserable life is all there is and they hope that there is some place better they can go to when their dead.... but just because people can’t handle life on earth does not, in any way, mean that there is a God or heaven. I suppose your faith is logical as long as you realize you are believing because of your own self interest and your inability to cope with the way the world is... though it still is based not based on any sound logical argument about the existence of God.

When Marx said that “Religion is the opiate for the masses” he was not suggesting that that is a good reason for believing in God...

2:50 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

But is it not odd that it seems that most of the world cannot cope with the way the world is? If we were meant to be able to cope with it completely on our own, would it not be easier to do?

You said in your post, "Honestly... only the most shallow of people really think that sex, drugs, money and fame bring ultimate happiness." Are you saying there is an ultimate happiness?

I also think that our Western culture merely makes it more obvious that material objects will not satisfy us. Those in other poorer places would indeed seem happier because they don't have to deal with the temptation; they just have to be happy with what they have. But, in regards to those people you said that are perfectly happy with their lives, what happens when those things that make them happy (i.e. their family, job, etc.) are gone? What do they lean on then, because in your statement they were in fact leaning on these things for happiness? (Also, it is more often the poor who believe in religion, but then you might just say, "Of course they would; religion is the opiate of the masses." Or maybe they just see through this life because it is not clouded by all of the material embellishments that really ALL industrial nations (not just our Western nations) have.

Kansas said it best: "Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind." Everything in this life is fading away.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

One quick addendum:

The only thing that lasts is love. And by love I mean the greek word Agape, which means true sacrificial love. Not to be confused with the eros (i.e. lust) we so often substitute for true love.

2:49 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

No I don't think it is odd that people strive for better lives.

"If we were meant to be able to cope with it completely on our own, would it not be easier to do?"

There is no reason to believe that we were "meant" to do anything.

No-- I have no reason to believe that ultimate happiness exists. I misspoke. (or mistyped)

You truly are a romantic-- you like quotes and stories that have no philosophical value and implant them into philosophical conversations as if they fit somehow. How do you know the only thing that lasts is love (Agape not lust)... I thought matter always lasted.

As for your idea that perhaps "they are hopeful or fearful because somethign is true... that is basically a meaningless statement.

I was arguing that the reason people believe is because they fear death and hope for an afterlife. So yes... death is a true... so I suppose they fear death because it is true. As for hope... the unknown is implied by hope... so it'd be hard to hope for what you knew was true. Yes... their hope may come true-- God may infact save their soul and send them to heaven-- but that has nothing to do with the ultimate emotive reason they believe.

I meant to say this earlier-- Janis Joplin overdosed.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Jeff,

In a recent post, you said:

"Honestly... only the most shallow of people really think that sex, drugs, money and fame bring ultimate happiness."

And then in the last one, you said:

"No-- I have no reason to believe that ultimate happiness exists. I misspoke. (or mistyped)"

Did you really misspeak? I honestly don't think you did. Though you may not have been trying to say there is one ultimate happiness, I think you were speaking honestly when saying that most people realize some things really won't bring people happiness, whether it be ultimate or not.

So let us assume, then, that sex, drugs, money, and fame will not bring the, shall we say, most lasting happiness. Well then, what is there that will bring more happiness? Because clearly, you were admitting that these things were of lesser value by saying that "only the most shallow of people" give them any credence. So then, what is of greater value? I suppose a good family and a job that was meaningful would be more suitable for bringing happiness. And these are perhaps better than something in between the first base items and the good family, perhaps something of lesser value like eating excessively, but not quite so bad as drugs. So then we could say that there is at least at this point a line formed by three points of "valuability," with the lesser valued items at the far left and the more valued items at the far right, and the not so terrible, though still unfavorable, items in between. Could we not then reason, similarly to Aquinas's proof of the existence of God from gradation, that there exist even worse things that drugs, etc, and that there are even better things than a good family and job?

It would seem that one could extrapolate beyond those "boundaries" that we set for the sake of argument. For it would clearly be less valuable if someone derived pleasure or "happiness" from causing harm to others. This would be worse than the drugs, would it not?

I am simply speculating here. I do not claim that this is the best line of argument, but it appeared to be reasonable, as well as philosophical; though I would claim that the quotes I have put up (i.e. Kansas) are not external to the realm of philosophy despite it having been said by someone other than a philosopher. Their quote is actually quite in line with the existential thinkers, if I remember correctly.

I also apologize if this argument is inconherent.





That was an intentional spelling error.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Oh, and what did Janis Joplin overdose on?

2:47 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I do believe that certain things bring longer lasting happiness than others. That does not mean that this is a reason to believe that there is ultimate, infinite happiness. I did mistype.

It is possible that there is ultimate happiness... but it is also possible that happiness is finite.

Are you claiming because certain things bring longer lasting happiness that there must be ultimate happiness? Could we take this line of argumentation with every emotion? If there are different levels of bewilderment then there must be ultimate bewilderment. I suppose that the convenient thing for you to do would be to claim that every positive adjective or emotion would be a characteristic of God and every negative one would be a characteristic of Satan. Can you prove it?

Just because different levels of something exist does not mean that there must be an infinite level of that something.

Nietzsche described the yearning for more as a "will to power" he believed it to be a characteristic of every living thing. Why do trees continuously try to grow bigger? It seems that by your argumentation since trees continously try to grow bigger there must be ultimate treedom.

10:15 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I think she ODed on Heroine.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Coke and alcohol, most likely. That's a dangerous combination of stimulant and depressant.

Anyhow, you've defined several points on this continuum you're constructing. It is definitely possible to extrapolate and say that there are things on the continuum that bring even more lasting happiness than a family. However, here's where everything falls apart.

You suggest that the continuum may continue infinitely in either direction, but there is no reason to assume that there are real things that lie on that continuum at some arbitrarily large distance in either direction. Moreover, even if you think something exists at every point on the continuum, there is no reason to assume that it terminates. These assumptions ruin the argument, assuming you are attempting to prove... something.

I'm not sure what you are arguing for, really. Perhaps that there is an ultimate happiness bringer, and this we shall call faith. However, using your very same argument, anywhere you place faith on the continuum, it will be possible to say that there exists something even farther up. In short, this argument is misleading and can not prove anything, except that we are capable of making assumptions and extrapolating. It's an interesting thought experiment, though. What would you place at infinity in either direction? Or, is it even possible to have an object at infinity?

10:16 AM  
Anonymous tim said...

And looking around, Jeff is right about it being heroin.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Catholic Defintion of Theology: Faith seeking Understanding

Google:
Fides et Ratio

That's Latin for "Faith and Reason"

10:54 PM  

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