Saturday, July 04, 2009

How Do We Know?

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you don't know what this is do you?
But it does exist.*



sometimes atheists ask things like "how do you know God is good?" I also feel they are not asking sincerely they think they are being cleaver but they are really walking right into it. Here is a recent example from CARM that I feel serves as well as any as a "typical" example this sort of line.this is by "Crystal Star."


Hi, I've asked this in other threads but haven't gotten an answer. I was thinking hypothetically if the a God existed, would it be possible for it to actually prove itself to us so we can believe, with our limited human minds and technology? (from its perspective) I can't think of a way for it to give us undeniable evidence since we are talking about a being that has the intelligence well beyond our own and has the ability to create the universe (what I've seen Christians usually describe it as).


She(?) thinks she is making a devastating point against belief. But in fact she's actually laying the ground work for one of my best God arguments. I agree that there is no such ting as evidence that is "undeniable." She this person construes that as a a reason not to believe it actually just points up the folly of demanding such proof. If it is impossible to have "undeniable proof' why expect it? But this is no reason to assume we can't know, and it's reason to assume we can't community with God. We don't have to have exhaustive knowledge of God to be aware of God. We can sense God's presence and experience God's power in our lives without knowing exhaustive and exactly what God is.

The biggest reason why walked into a trap is because what she says here, the dilemma that she sets up is exactly the position I need to be in to spring my argument from Epistemic judgment (aka "the Thomas Reid Argument").

Argument:



(1) No empirical evidence can prove the existence of the external world, other minds, or the reality of history, or other such basic things.

(2) We do not find this epistemological dilemma debilitating on a daily basis because we assume that if our experiences are consistent and regular than we can navigate in "reality" whether it is ultimately illusory of not.

(3) Consistency and regularity of personal experience is the key.

(4) religious experience can also be regular and consistent, perhaps not to the same degree, but in the same way.

(5) Inersubjective

RE of this type has a commonality shared by believers all over the world, in different times and different places, just as the external world seems to be perceived the same by everyone.

(6) Real and Lasting effects.


(7) therefore, we have as much justification for assuming religious belief based upon experience as for assuming the reality of the external world or the existence of other minds.



See note on the Thomas Reid project and Reid himself end page 2

*We assume reality by means of a Jugement

*we make such judgments based upon certain criteria

*Because RE fits the same criteria we are justified in making the same assumption; ie that these experiences are indicative of a reality.


VIII. The Thomas Reid Argument.

A. How do we Know the external world exists?

Philosophers have often expressed skepticism about the external world, the existence of other minds, and even one's own existence. Rene Descartes went so far as to build an elaborate system of rationalism to demonstrate the existence of the external world, beginning with his famous cogito, "I think, therefore, I am." Of course, he didn't really doubt his own existence. The point was to show the method of rationalism at work. Nevertheless, this basic point, that of epistemology (how we know what we know) has always plagued philosophy. It seems no one has ever really given an adequate account. But the important point here is not so much what philosophers have said but what most people do. The way we approach life on a daily basis the assumptions we make about the external world. Skeptics are fond of saying that it is irrational to believe things without proof. I would argue that they, an all of us, believe the most crucial and most basic things without any proof whosoever, and we live based upon those assumptions which are gleaned with no proof of their veracity at all! (me, from the God argument list on Doxa--see the full argument)
In other words the atheist can't answer that argument any better. There's no advantage there in being an atheist, but that's no reason to assume we are debilitated in finding God. We have to make an epistemic judgment anyway, so since Religious experience meets the criteria by which we do that, that is in itself reason enough to believe in God.

How do we know this is not just a very powerful being who is trying to do something evil and is tricking us into thinking its a good God? A very powerful being would be very much capable of doing that. So asking us to believe in it and worship it when its not proving this to us doesn't make any sense and is irrational for it to demand that we believe and worship it when we don't have a way of knowing this.

I originally answered this by demonstrating that God is not "a being" but being itself. That rules out a "very powerful being deriving us." Why? Because it's not a question of a powerful being but one of being itself, which cannot device unless we want to think that deceptions is the basis of all being, if that is the case then there's no standard of truth to compare it to. But I don't think she understands the argument because I don't think she, or even HRG understand what's being said when I say God is not a being but the ground of being. For those who wish to explore this concept further see my (several) pages on Doxa.

I have another couple of arguemnts as to how we can know we are not being decieved by God.

(1) Love and a life time of "knowing" God

(2) The ontological nature of the Good.


(1) Love and the life time of knowing God

We can have experience of God over a life time. In my 30+ years of being a Christian I have never know the presence, the sense of love, the numinous that I think of as "God" to be deceiving. There have been times when I thought it might be that, but it always turns out not to be. Sometimes it seems God knows best and I don't have a clue so it could be deceptions, but it doesn't work out that way. There's no reason to think it will. As Kierkegaard said "If the lover is asked 'why this one and not some other beloved?' the only real answer a lover can offer is 'there is no other.'" In other words "this is the one."


(2) The ontological nature of the good.

The ontological nature of the good is such that it can't be the derivative. Good cannot be second. Good must be the act of an eternal creator since God can't the immitation. This is so because Good proceed from the same impulse that being shears with love; the impulse to give. But the nature of evil is such that it can only be a mockery of the good. Evil is about power, evil is about tearing down. Evil is about power but the kind of power that comes from being creator its about the kind power that one takes and hangs on to ruthlessly. Because the nature of the good is such that it proceeds from the basis of being and form love. That is the character we understand to be divine based upon the experience of all mystics the world over, and upon our basic human concept of good. Thus the original, eternal, ground of being cannot be evil and thus cannot be deceptive.

think about what we are saying when we speak of deception. Deceptions means to distort the truth. That means there's a truth to disport. Therefore, if we link evil with deception, evil must be the copy as deception is a derivation from what is. Thus what is is true and what distorts and derives from it to trick and device is by itself nature a copy. Thus evil can't be the origin, it can't be the original state of things, it can only be the undermining of what already is. Thus the original creator would be good and would establish truth, and the pretender would be the deceiver.




What it comes down to is we are talking about a being that goes beyond the human minds understanding. So we can't know its full nature, thus we can't know its real place in the universe and its relation with it, thus we can't know if what its doing is right or if what someone describes about it is correct and so its not possible for us to truthfully believe or worship it.

Yes but going to the Thomas Reid argument, we can't know anything anyway. you are as much in the dark theists. Atheist have no edge there. We could be all brains in vasts. We could all be a figment of my imagination. She has no way of discerining this. She has no magic data that assures her this is not the case. She merely decides that it's not and moves on. The criteria we use to decide reality religous expeirnce fits. So therefore, religious experience is as trustworthy as that used by atheists. In fact I would say it's more so because it answers questions that atheists have to pretend don't matter or don't exist.



Further, punishing us because we don't believe would be like punishing a disabled person wheel chair because they can't run a marathon, or punishing a dog because it doesn't know rocket science.


that's just a matter of theological venue.

*just a building at the Texas State Fair grounds.

9 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I think most people get lost when one says God is "being itself." It might sound like Pantheism of Panentheism to them.


Crystal Star's question sounds like an honest one, and doesn't seem like she's making an argument, but then I don't know here and due t the glitch can't view carm, and don't care enough to email them to fix it.

J.L. Hinman said...

Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I think most people get lost when one says God is "being itself." It might sound like Pantheism of Panentheism to them.


that's what we need theologians for. Its' not pantheism.

Crystal Star's question sounds like an honest one, and doesn't seem like she's making an argument, but then I don't know here and due t the glitch can't view carm, and don't care enough to email them to fix it.

It's an honest question I give it that. She's definately arguing.

Loren said...

I think that Mike aka MonolithTMA is correct about how a "god" that is "being itself" is essentially a pantheist god.

That's more-or-less what Baruch/Benedict Spinoza had believed, but the orthodox back then claimed that that "God" is no God at all.

J.L. Hinman said...

I think that Mike aka MonolithTMA is correct about how a "god" that is "being itself" is essentially a pantheist god.

It's esier to bash. so it's just your straw man argument. You need to hate the big sky daddy don't you? have to keep that sky daddy in there because you can't hate an abstract ideas that's over your head.

there's nothing about it that is pantheistic. It's not identifying the beings with being.




That's more-or-less what Baruch/Benedict Spinoza had believed, but the orthodox back then claimed that that "God" is no God at all.

NO it's very different from Spinoza. That's so sloppy. you need to learn to deal with abstractions and distinctions between abstract ideas.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

So, because someone mistakes "ground of being" for pantheism, it's their fault? It's not a straw man argument if someone says "ground of being" is indistinguishable to them from pantheism.

That's like saying it's a straw man argument if someone can't differentiate between red and green.

J.L. Hinman said...

Mike, I meant Loren was doing the straw man not you. I can see how one would honestly make that mistake if he/she had not read my pages on the topic. I've written so much about it on the blog I thought Loren should know better by now.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Oh I know you didn't think I was presenting a straw man. I was always partial to the tin man, myself.

J.L. Hinman said...

Mike, I'm glad to see you are still out there reading my blog. I thought you gave up on it. I am also glad to see Loren too. Hi Loren!

Glad you two are still hanging around.;-)

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I still read. I don't always have something to say, but I do still read.