I am responding to this post, by a person I consider to be a friend, William.
William, I’m going to respond to you here on my blog, because I have addressed other concepts of god besides a personal one, and I want this to be shown.
Any argument attempting to prove or disprove the existence of a personal God inherently presents a false dichotomy. God is a subjective concept and therefore cannot be reified, rendering the use of logic insufficient as a means to resolve this argument
If we are talking about existence, then we are talking about something quantifiable. Something is either real, or it is not. And we disprove personal gods all the time.
In any case, efforts to actually personify God are, in essence, clear examples of anthropomorphic fallacy.
See, you just made a weak case against any personal gods. But the anthropomorphic fallacy doesn’t apply unless you prove that god is inanimate. So, what does the evidence say about personal gods? There is none in favor of them. So why should we believe in any of them? We shouldn’t. Does that mean that we can universally disprove them? No, we do not have infinite knowledge. But we can disprove specific god claims.
The ongoing debate between atheists and non-pagan theists is an exercise in futility, a complete and utter waste of time in my opinion. Both sides rely upon argumentum ad ignorantiam, meaning an argument based upon ignorance, a practice which violates the laws of logic. Most atheists would disagree with this assessment as they maintain the burden of proof resides upon the claimant; they purport to make no claim and therefore shift the burden of proof to the theist but this practice is itself a fallacy. By the act of engaging in debate and demanding proof, the vocal atheist is effectively claiming that the theist’s belief is lacking evidence and is therefore false. The non-pagan theist in comparison will always find themselves claiming that God must exist simply because the existence of God hasn’t been successfully proven false.
Actually, we have and do prove specific god claims false. For instance, the problem of unnecessary suffering with an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god. I can give more. When we ask for proof, we are asking for proof of any claims made. By showing that their arguments do not provide evidence, we are proving those specific arguments false, and returning to the null hypothesis. We have no reason to believe in any gods.
I do not pretend to understand atheists who challenge any public statement of religious belief with incredulity and generally seem obsessed with the need to castigate those who possess such beliefs. Albert Einstein once characterized such individuals as “slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot bear the music of the spheres.”
I’ll give you three of my reasons.
1. Self-defense. People love to try to convince me that their god exists. They won’t just let me not believe, they feel a duty to save my soul. The only way to silence them is to show them that their arguments are bunk.
2. Beliefs have consequences. Rarely does the belief in gods come without baggage attached, whether it is the Christians discriminating against me for being bisexual, the gender essentialism so common in Dianic Wicca, or the classism in certain forms of hinduism.
3. We have an ethical duty to reason. Without it, we cannot possibly tell the consequences of our actions. Religion is based on claiming something, without showing that it is real. It encourages belief on faith instead of reason. You can have all the faith you want that if someone cuts your hand off, it will grow back, but that does not change reality, no matter how comforting the thought is. If you wish to prove me wrong, I suggest we do an experiment.
If you wish to hold a valid debate on God’s existence you must provide a basic definition for God. As previously inferred atheists and non-pagan theists usually attempt to personify God in their arguments and therefore encounter a logic block before they even begin.
1. look up ignostic atheism.
2. Atheist argue against the claims made. If someone defines god as a person, then we argue against their conception of god, and return to the null hypothesis when their claims fail the burden of proof, or we disprove specific claims.
3. The reason we more often argue against a personal god is because people with this conception are usually the ones causing the most problems.
Contemporary Pagan philosophy posits that God is immanent in the universe and equivalent to all that exists. Our definition by itself provides the proof to our claim
And if you stopped there, we wouldn’t have a problem. At that point the term god is nothing more than a poetic way of describing the universe, but most of the time, pagans don’t stop there, and make additional claims about the nature of god.
We know beyond any possible doubt that God exists and indeed that consciousness itself continues after the death of the physical body although we do not claim to know in what form it continues.
See, another claim about reality. Evidence of this please. The existence of the universe doesn’t show that consciousness continues after death.
Conscious thought must be energetic for all that exists is fundamentally comprised of energy in one form or another.
Yes, the physical, chemical and electric reactions in the nervous system. How does this show a soul?
One of the basic scientific laws maintains that energy cannot in fact be destroyed, it may only be changed in some way.
Yes. Energy is always being changed from one form to another, most of which escapes as non-usable heat. All of this occurs in the physical realm.
I have said before that in order for religion to be relevant in this modern age, it must mark its beginning where science ends while remaining in agreement with everything science has previously determined to be true.
And you claim that atheists are making an argument from ignorance?
I forgot who said this but:
“First god was on the mountain, then we climbed the mountain, and god was not there. Then god was a god of the sky, then we built airplanes and god was not there. Then god was above the sky, now we have gone into space, and god was not there.”
Yes I realize that this is not your conception of god. But the point remains: every single time we have postulated a god instead of looking at the evidence, when the science improved, the god was shown to be non-existent. Why do you think our current ignorance is any different?
I would like to conclude by returning to the words of Professor Einstein, who believed that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Our desires do not change reality. If you wish to argue otherwise, allow me to cut off one of your fingers and see if your desire for it to be there will cause it to regrow without any medical intervention.
A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value.
And once again, someone gives religion the credit for something people achieve. Applied empathy and ethics do not equal Religiously enlightened.
It seems to me that what is important is the force of this super-personal content … regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities
Religion is irrelevant to these values. Unless you wish to argue that someone like me who has no religion is incapable of empathy and applying empathy ethically. Religion carries all sorts of beliefs, and most of them are not benevolent. Sexism, homophobia, Transphobia, racism, classism, just to name a few that are prevalent in modern day religions. And yes, I know you will just say that these people are not religiously enlightened. But if the modern religions propagate this filth along with what you consider benevolent values, how can you ignore that it is part of the religion?
Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation
You want a rational foundation? How about, “What kind of world do I want to live in?” Work outwards from there.
For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.
Yes, but science is not the only tool. Logic. Reason. Empathy. All are needed.