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Author Topic: Should we *want* God to exist?  (Read 2267 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 06, 2011, 01:37:34 PM »

by Guy Kahane
Abstract. Whether God exists is a metaphysical question. But there is also a neglected evaluative question about God’s existence: Should we want God to exist? Very many, including many atheists and agnostics, appear to think we should. Theists claim that if God didn’t exist things would be far worse, and many atheists agree; they regret God’s inexistence. Some remarks by Thomas Nagel suggest an opposing view: that we should want God not to exist. I call this view anti-theism. I explain how such view can be coherent, and why it might be correct. Anti-theism must be distinguished from the argument from evil or the denial of God goodness; it is a claim about the goodness of God’s existence. Anti-theists must claim that it’s a logical consequence of God’s existence that things are worse in certain respects. The problem is that God’s existence would also make things better in many ways. Given that God’s existence is likely to be impersonally better overall, anti-theists face a challenge similar to that facing nonconsequentialists. I explore two ways of meeting this challenge.
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2011, 03:34:17 PM »

I've come to the conclusion most often that reality is what we make of it.
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2011, 08:58:27 PM »

Heh,

I don't know if it would matter if I wanted God to exist or not.  Because he does, our wants don't matter.  At least that's the way I see it.
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2011, 10:02:38 PM »

I don't know if we should want to, and I don't really think it matters whether we want him to exist, nor whether he exists. If he exists, he'll do as he likes anyway. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2011, 05:26:09 AM »

FREUD'S CRITIQUE OF RELIGION/ GOD AND OTHER CHRISTMAS WISHES
The thesis of God as a “father-wish” originated with the publication of Sigmund Freud’s main critique of religion, The Future of an Illusion (1927). This thesis has been widely discussed and analyzed; only some highlights will be reproduced here.

1. It is impossible to deny that “wishing for God” is not a perennially recurrent phenomenon; even atheist Friedrich Nietzsche displayed this tendency: “I hold up before myself the images of Dante and Spinoza, who were better at accepting the lot of solitude… [and] all those who somehow still had a “God” for company… My life now consists in the wish that it might be otherwise… and that somebody might make my “truths” appear incredible to me” (Kaufmann, trans., The Portable Nietzsche, p. 441).

2. Hans Kung raises a question which pertains equally to any projection, illusion, or opiate theory of religion: “…is a faith bad and its truth dubious simply because –like psychoanalysis itself– it also involves all possible instinctual inclinations, lustful inclinations, psychodynamic mechanisms, conscious and unconscious wishes? …Perhaps this being of our longing and dreams does actually exist… the psychological interpretation of belief in God is possible and also legitimate. But is the psychic aspect itself the whole of religion? It should be observed that Freud has not in fact destroyed or refuted religious ideas in principle, and neither atheists nor theologians should ever have read this into his critique of religion. For, by its very nature, psychological interpretation alone cannot penetrate to the absolutely final or first reality: on this point it must remain neutral in principle. From the psychological standpoint, then, the question of the existence of God –and even the positive force of the argument must not be exaggerated- must remain open” (Hans Kung, Does God Exist, p. 302). The deductive argument for atheism from Freudian Illusion Theory may be pronounced effectively dead, reduced in current thought to an instance of the genetic fallacy (the claim something is false merely by virtue of its ostensible origin). Something is not ipso facto illusory merely because it is wished for, but only if it is a mere wish.

3. Not only the existence of God, but also the rejection of God, or the rejection of a particular kind of God, can have a psychological origin in wishes. Mircea Eliade brilliantly articulated the nature of Freudian ideology as a cultural fashion: “…a cultural fashion is immensely significant, no matter what its objective value may be; the success of certain ideas or ideologies reveals to us the spiritual and existential situation of all those for whom these ideas or ideologies constitute a kind of soteriology” Paine’s opposition to the ancien regime in France undoubtedly gave additional impetus to his desire to assault the Christian faith so virulently . Cf. also documentation by Paul Vitz of New York University of socio-psychological correlates to affirmation of atheism (Vitz, The Faith of the Fatherless).

4. God in the Bible is as much an ANTI-WISH as he is a wish. Frequently God is precisely what no one wanted, or would be likely to want; he frequently demanded, and does demand, precisely the opposite of what any sane person would have placed on their wish list. It is not hard to imagine Abraham saying “You want me to cut off what part of my body?!” “You want me to kill my son Isaac?! The one you promised to bless the whole world through?! Jeremiah had absolutely no desire to preach. Jeremiah’s audience had absolutely no desire to hear. God was not what anyone wanted; he was what everyone didn’t want. If Dietrich Bonhoeffer was correct in saying “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship), that is precisely what no one wants unreservedly. C. S. Lewis was mortified when he became a Christian; it was the last thing he ever wanted to be; he describes himself as having entered the kingdom of God “kicking and screaming.” This was also my experience; the last thing I ever wanted was to become a Christian. Yet I found it to be a pearl of great price...

Fr. Andrew Angiorus has absolutely nailed the Christian view of this whole question IMO: "'Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts' (Rom 1:24). Generally, atheists and agnostics are talking about themselves when they talk about the absence of God. They simply express their personal subjective truth (that their souls are empty) in an objective way and try to generalize their experience. In other words, there is no theology, or even philosophy here, it is just their own ill or deficient psychology, which is what atheism is... In the Scriptures Christ says clearly that only the pure in heart will see God. In other words, intellectuals, examiners and professors will never understand God, if their minds are not pure... How do we know if someone has a pure heart? The pure heart is evidenced by the way we live. As Peter says, a person devoted to the Lord “does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2); "Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior" (Ps 24:3-5)." -Fr Andrew Anglorus
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2011, 03:47:57 PM »

I think the fact that a philosopher actually has a job (and at Oxford, at that) is more than enough to prove that God's existence is not only real, but better than His hypothesized non-existence by philosophers, as per the paper.
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2011, 04:10:53 PM »

I think the fact that a philosopher actually has a job (and at Oxford, at that) is more than enough to prove that God's existence is not only real, but better than His hypothesized non-existence by philosophers, as per the paper.

I have no clue what you're saying...
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2011, 05:23:37 PM »

Should we want God to exist?

Yes.  Next paper, please. Wink
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2011, 06:14:57 PM »

That's an odd question.  If you close your eyes does the world disappear?  God exists whether you want him to or not.
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2011, 06:16:25 PM »

That's an odd question.

Not really Smiley

Quote
If you close your eyes does the world disappear?

Are you actually asking this with the intention of discussing it, or are you throwing it out there as though everyone assumes the same answer you do? Smiley

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God exists whether you want him to or not.

That's not the point. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2011, 06:35:59 PM »

Well, then what is the point, Pastariktos? Because I apparently missed it in making fun of philosophers for being such useless navel-gazers as to even ask this question that reduces God's existence to a matter of what they/we would like or dislike. This sort of utilitarianism does seem to be rather pointless. People of various persuasions disagree or agree, and then...? Sure, Mr. Kahane gets another paper on his CV, but beyond that I'm not seeing the point.

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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2011, 09:57:26 PM »

Well, then what is the point, Pastariktos?

I dunno, knowing thyself. Or something. I think.

May his sauce be upon you.



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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2011, 10:02:49 PM »

 Undecided

And pasta with your spirit.
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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2011, 07:43:12 AM »


Quote
Should we *want* God to exist?

I don't think there is a "should" one way or the other. There are obvious disadvantages to not wanting God to exist: because it may lead us to deny the evidence given to us, or spurn God's grace for the sake of our desire. On the other hand there can be disadvantages in wanting God to exist, because in our eagerness we can be swept away by false gods and religions, or anything else with a veneer of spirituality.

Nevertheless, for a seeker, I suppose the latter is preferable to the former, as long as his desire is met with the revelation of Jesus Christ, the only thing that will truly satisfy the yearning for God.
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« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2011, 08:12:06 AM »

Bakunin said, "If God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him" which I always thought was quintessentially romantic
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2011, 08:36:54 AM »

The "we" in "Should we want God to exist" might seem to refer only to atheists: some atheists, though rejecting God's existence, are not all that emotionally happy with that fact. But it could likewise refer to theists: some theists, though accepting God's existence, are not all that emotionally happy with that fact, either.
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« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2013, 08:45:16 PM »

by Guy Kahane
Abstract. Whether God exists is a metaphysical question. But there is also a neglected evaluative question about God’s existence: Should we want God to exist? Very many, including many atheists and agnostics, appear to think we should. Theists claim that if God didn’t exist things would be far worse, and many atheists agree; they regret God’s inexistence. Some remarks by Thomas Nagel suggest an opposing view: that we should want God not to exist. I call this view anti-theism. I explain how such view can be coherent, and why it might be correct. Anti-theism must be distinguished from the argument from evil or the denial of God goodness; it is a claim about the goodness of God’s existence. Anti-theists must claim that it’s a logical consequence of God’s existence that things are worse in certain respects. The problem is that God’s existence would also make things better in many ways. Given that God’s existence is likely to be impersonally better overall, anti-theists face a challenge similar to that facing nonconsequentialists. I explore two ways of meeting this challenge.


Theists claim that if God didn’t exist things would be far worse, and many atheists agree;
 lol!!! so now even atheists believe that God exists? then why are they still atheists?
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« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2013, 08:50:47 PM »

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« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2013, 08:55:03 PM »

I've come to the conclusion most often that reality is what we make of it.

Indeed. This however will never prove or disprove the existence of God.
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2013, 08:57:49 PM »



what is this picture supposed to mean asteriktos?
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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2013, 09:13:41 PM »

It means you're digging up old threads for no apparent reason Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2013, 02:33:19 AM »

Doesn't matter, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) exists whether we want Him to or not.

Due to who God is, I say yes, everyone should want The Father, The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit to exist.
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« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2013, 03:14:47 AM »

What's the working definition of "God" here?
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« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2013, 03:16:48 AM »

Doesn't matter, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) exists whether we want Him to or not.

Due to who God is, I say yes, everyone should want The Father, The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit to exist.

Jupiter exists whether you want him to or not.

See how that logic works?
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2013, 03:28:06 AM »

Doesn't matter, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) exists whether we want Him to or not.

Due to who God is, I say yes, everyone should want The Father, The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit to exist.

Jupiter exists whether you want him to or not.

See how that logic works?

Yep because like God's existence, it's a factual statement, I don't want suffering to exist, but it has to. there are Objective Realities, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) is one of them.
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« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2013, 03:32:14 AM »

Doesn't matter, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) exists whether we want Him to or not.

Due to who God is, I say yes, everyone should want The Father, The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit to exist.

Jupiter exists whether you want him to or not.

See how that logic works?

Yep because like God's existence, it's a factual statement, I don't want suffering to exist, but it has to. there are Objective Realities, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) is one of them.

Facts are things which are provided with evidence. Evidence is something that we can see, taste, touch, hear, or smell and most importantly have the potential to test it.    God and the Trinity are Mysteries, simple as that, but certainly His existence is not factual nor objective.  Even the experiences of the saints when perceiving the "Uncreated Light" can be easily rode off as the "brain doing weird stuff", the way it does "weird stuff" in a Near Death Experience.
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« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2013, 03:34:28 AM »

Doesn't matter, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) exists whether we want Him to or not.

Due to who God is, I say yes, everyone should want The Father, The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit to exist.

Jupiter exists whether you want him to or not.

See how that logic works?

Yep because like God's existence, it's a factual statement, I don't want suffering to exist, but it has to. there are Objective Realities, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) is one of them.

Facts are things which are provided with evidence. Evidence is something that we can see, taste, touch, hear, or smell and most importantly have the potential to test it.    God and the Trinity are Mysteries, simple as that, but certainly His existence is not factual nor objective.  Even the experiences of the saints when perceiving the "Uncreated Light" can be easily rode off as the "brain doing weird stuff", the way it does "weird stuff" in a Near Death Experience.

Then according to you I am not a fact, as my mind is not my brain but is immaterial.

I ask you, if the mind is the brain, why do I feel my hand?
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« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2013, 03:40:59 AM »

I ask you, if the mind is the brain, why do I feel my hand?

 Cheesy
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« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2013, 03:41:55 AM »

I ask you, if the mind is the brain, why do I feel my hand?

 Cheesy

Actually answer the question, if the mind is the brain, how does someone feel their hand?
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« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2013, 03:42:45 AM »

Doesn't matter, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) exists whether we want Him to or not.

Due to who God is, I say yes, everyone should want The Father, The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit to exist.

Jupiter exists whether you want him to or not.

See how that logic works?

Yep because like God's existence, it's a factual statement, I don't want suffering to exist, but it has to. there are Objective Realities, God(The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) is one of them.

Facts are things which are provided with evidence. Evidence is something that we can see, taste, touch, hear, or smell and most importantly have the potential to test it.    God and the Trinity are Mysteries, simple as that, but certainly His existence is not factual nor objective.  Even the experiences of the saints when perceiving the "Uncreated Light" can be easily rode off as the "brain doing weird stuff", the way it does "weird stuff" in a Near Death Experience.

Then according to you I am not a fact, as my mind is not my brain but is immaterial.

I ask you, if the mind is the brain, why do I feel my hand?

LOL, but your existence is factual because we can witness it and observe it and test your response to certain stimulus. We cannot do so with "God".   You feel your hand due to nerve centers which provide signals that go back up to your brain telling you "This is my hand, it's in pain" or "This is my hand and it's still okay".  All that we think and are is completely natural, and very physical according to what we know.
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« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2013, 04:07:47 AM »

But something I can taste, touch, here or measure may also just be the brain doing something weird. So the only way I can know them if something exists is if other people routinely agree with me, no?
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« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2013, 04:14:16 AM »

"the only way I can know then if something exists is if other people routinely agree with me, no?" 

It's not a matter of people agreeing with you.  The whole world could believe something to be true, and they could all be wrong.  It's a matter of if what you have observed can be tested and re-tested, to confirm its existence.
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« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2013, 04:18:19 AM »

LOL, but your existence is factual because we can witness it and observe it and test your response to certain stimulus.
Quote


Nope, you can observe, test , etc my material body, but how can you observe my immaterial Spirit(Mind)?

We cannot do so with "God".

Yes you can, look at your conscience, that ain't no abstract object influencing you, it's personal, it's The Holy Spirit(God of The Bible).

You feel your hand due to nerve centers which provide signals that go back up to your brain telling you "This is my hand, it's in pain" or "This is my hand and it's still okay".

Nope, why do I feel the pain IN my hand? I'm not my hand, how can if I'm my brain feel my hand when I'm not my hand or my nerves?

1, if energy signals from the hand hit the brain indicating pain, then I should feel the pain IN my brain, not my hand. I feel the pain in my hand.

2, if energy signals go from the brain to the hand that is false, as I am not my hand, that is fact, anyone could easily cut off their hand and never feel it or the nerves in it again,

so how again I ask, how if the mind is the brain, could one feel their hand?

All that we think and are is completely natural, and very physical according to what we know.

Ok then, I thought about a giant pink gorilla, cut open my head, where is it physically? Thoughts are not physical, nor is color.

Also, the sentence above, what is physical about it?

Also, every cell in our bodies die and regenerate with new cells, that by every 7 years we are completely new material bodies, now I am the same person I was say, in 1998, how then am I the same person when I've had 2 different material bodies? there is therefore Factually an Immaterial property, which is my mind, aka The Spirit.
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« Reply #33 on: January 06, 2013, 04:23:14 AM »

Irrefutable Facts,

we are not are hands, we could cut off our hands and never feel the hand or the nerves in them again.

we could cut off our hands and still exist.

Therefore these are Facts

1, If energy signals from the brain hit the hand cause pain, then I cannot feel it as I am Factually not my hand. therefore brain signals hitting the hand are not the cause of pain.

2, if energy signals from the hand hit the brain causing pain, then if I was my brain I would Factually feel it in my brain, not my hand, as I am not my hand, there is no part of me in my hand.

Therefore this is an Absolute Fact, I could feel my hand, therefore there is an Immaterial Property of me that feels it, which means The Spirit exists, and Immaterial exist.
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« Reply #34 on: January 06, 2013, 04:24:23 AM »

But something I can taste, touch, here or measure may also just be the brain doing something weird. So the only way I can know them if something exists is if other people routinely agree with me, no?

Think about it, when you taste you feel the taste in your mouth, but obviously you aren't your mouth.

when you touch something you feel it in your hand, but you aren't your hand.

The Mind cannot be the brain, but is Immaterial.
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« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2013, 06:06:18 AM »

"the only way I can know then if something exists is if other people routinely agree with me, no?" 

It's not a matter of people agreeing with you.  The whole world could believe something to be true, and they could all be wrong.  It's a matter of if what you have observed can be tested and re-tested, to confirm its existence.

Yes but I still don't get it, if I tested something over and over again and the same thing happened but absolutely no other person agreed with me about my test, how the would I know my observation was accurate, surely other people with common obsevation tools must come into play somewhere? Maybe?
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« Reply #36 on: January 06, 2013, 06:15:29 AM »

Right well that is the point isn't it? Someone else also has to arrive at your conclusion as well. It can't be because a majority of people arrive at some consensus because "they said it, and that's the way it is" -- it must that the evidence points in that direction.  @ Ashman..
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« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2013, 06:20:06 AM »



Did I say that your you can see or touch your thoughts?  That's certainly not what I meant to imply.   Perhaps "natural" would be a better term, as opposed to supernatural. The images on a computer are produced from signals that travel through wires, and there's nothing out of the ordinary about this. Just like the ink that you use when writing with a pen is also completely natural and material, even if it's not necessarily "physical" in the way my body or an animal is physical.  

You are the same person because your brain has grown and developed over time, without losing the memory of what happened in the past.  We are constantly reconfirmed in who we are by those around us, and the memories we hold -- which are also stored in our brains.   Therefore you have reasoned your way out of nothing.
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« Reply #38 on: January 06, 2013, 06:24:50 AM »

Irrefutable Facts,

we are not are hands, we could cut off our hands and never feel the hand or the nerves in them again.

we could cut off our hands and still exist.

Therefore these are Facts

1, If energy signals from the brain hit the hand cause pain, then I cannot feel it as I am Factually not my hand. therefore brain signals hitting the hand are not the cause of pain.

2, if energy signals from the hand hit the brain causing pain, then if I was my brain I would Factually feel it in my brain, not my hand, as I am not my hand, there is no part of me in my hand.

Therefore this is an Absolute Fact, I could feel my hand, therefore there is an Immaterial Property of me that feels it, which means The Spirit exists, and Immaterial exist.

We can cut off our hands and still exist, yes -- only because we didn't lose a sufficient amount of blood to threaten our life.  The totality of who we are is not our hands yes, but our hands are very much a part of ourselves.  The fact that we lose a ligament does not thereby mean that there is some immaterial property to our nature that can be "proven" as you claim.

"If I was my brain I would factually feel it in my brain" -- false, that's not how the nervous system works.  You should really go and learn some anatomy more..  and your point #1 made no absolute sense what so ever.   I am having a difficult time following your logic, if it can be called "logic" at all...
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« Reply #39 on: January 06, 2013, 08:29:18 AM »

I can tell if my hand exists. I could poke you in the eye.
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« Reply #40 on: January 06, 2013, 05:15:23 PM »

You may want angels to dance on pinheads, but then what if you're in trouble and need an angel and he's busy dancing on a pinhead?
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« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2013, 05:22:51 PM »

How do we know if God exists or not if we cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear Him? I am totally unaware of any other way to examine, experience or learn about something outside of the senses and empirical reasoning.
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« Reply #42 on: January 06, 2013, 05:27:44 PM »

How do we know if God exists or not if we cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear Him? I am totally unaware of any other way to examine, experience or learn about something outside of the senses and empirical reasoning.

How advanced are you in mathematics?
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« Reply #43 on: January 06, 2013, 05:28:17 PM »

How do we know if God exists or not if we cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear Him? I am totally unaware of any other way to examine, experience or learn about something outside of the senses and empirical reasoning.

Don't you do all of those when you recieve at the divine liturgy? Don't you confess that you truely believe you recieve Christ Son of the living God Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: January 06, 2013, 05:33:59 PM »

How do we know if God exists or not if we cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear Him?
Can you taste, touch, smell, see or hear your awareness?
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