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Author Topic: An argument for God  (Read 1573 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 06, 2006, 09:02:30 AM »

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too - for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist - in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless - I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality - namely my idea of justice - was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know if it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
Lewis, C. S., (2002), "The Complete C S Lewis", (Harper; San Francisco), p30

I think that he was aware that some things exist beyond ourselves.
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2006, 05:58:00 PM »

The argument that God can be proven because we somehow know right from wrong isn't really very strong, IMO. First, it's possible that we might define certain "right" and "wrong" things based on genetics and our natural inclinations. Second, it's demonstrably true that we learn a lot about what is "right" and "wrong" during our upbringing. Third, as we become adults we can use our reason (among other things) to determine what is "right" and "wrong". That's an alternative theory to how we got our morals, and I think is just as defendable as the "God gave morals to us" position.

As for a specific example, I'll use one from my own life. I was taught (by my fairly liberal parents) that it was right to have sex if you loved some one; it was a natural manifestation of love. I was genetically programmed to have sex with girls I found attractive. Yet, I was a virgin until I got married... why? Because I based my conduct on some higher principle derived from God's morality? No, I acted the way I did for many other, fairly ordinary and worldly, reasons. Now, my few comments here do not disprove God, or an absolute morality, any more than the comments of Mr. Lewis prove them. I believe I've given the beginnings of an alternative view, however. As I'm in the middle of reading through some of Mr. Lewis and plan on posting some issues I have with him, I'll leave it at that for now. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2006, 06:00:10 PM »

The argument that God can be proven because we somehow know right from wrong isn't really very strong, IMO. First, it's possible that we might define certain "right" and "wrong" things based on genetics and our natural inclinations

There are people who even today cannot tell right from wrong, almost so strangely that you think it is a mental illness Undecided
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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2006, 07:58:13 PM »

The argument that God can be proven because we somehow know right from wrong isn't really very strong, IMO. First, it's possible that we might define certain "right" and "wrong" things based on genetics and our natural inclinations.
Then what is 'right' for you may not be right for someone else. What gives you the right then to impose your views of 'right' on another (such as through enacting laws, etc.) ?
Second, it's demonstrably true that we learn a lot about what is "right" and "wrong" during our upbringing.
Isn't this contradicting your first statement? Are you saying it's either nature, or nurture?
Third, as we become adults we can use our reason (among other things) to determine what is "right" and "wrong". That's an alternative theory to how we got our morals, and I think is just as defendable as the "God gave morals to us" position.
The very point that C S Lewis makes is that our 'reason' is not enough, we need to measure 'right' against something in order to call it 'right'.
As for a specific example, I'll use one from my own life. I was taught (by my fairly liberal parents) that it was right to have sex if you loved some one; it was a natural manifestation of love. I was genetically programmed to have sex with girls I found attractive. Yet, I was a virgin until I got married... why? Because I based my conduct on some higher principle derived from God's morality? No, I acted the way I did for many other, fairly ordinary and worldly, reasons.
Which were...? (the ordinary reasons). Even you don't live in a bubble, and your ideas about right and wrong are influenced by senses of right and wrong about you.
Now, my few comments here do not disprove God, or an absolute morality, any more than the comments of Mr. Lewis prove them. I believe I've given the beginnings of an alternative view, however. As I'm in the middle of reading through some of Mr. Lewis and plan on posting some issues I have with him, I'll leave it at that for now.
Thank you for your comments.
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2006, 10:22:26 PM »

Quote
The very point that C S Lewis makes is that our 'reason' is not enough, we need to measure 'right' against something in order to call it 'right'.

Yes, but that thing we are measuring it against doesn't have to be some absolute, God-given moral code.
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2006, 10:33:23 PM »

Perhaps this book,

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679763996/sr=8-1/qid=1146969013/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-7736665-8822462?%5Fencoding=UTF8

could shed some light on how our notions of 'right' and 'wrong' developed.
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2006, 04:42:04 AM »

Yes, but that thing we are measuring it against doesn't have to be some absolute, God-given moral code.
What is it then?
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2006, 04:43:42 AM »

Perhaps this book, could shed some light on how our notions of 'right' and 'wrong' developed.

Perhaps it could. How did a sense of 'right' evolve?
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2006, 09:09:13 AM »

Quote
What is it then?

The sources of our morality: nature, nurture, reason, desires, and needs.
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2006, 05:30:57 PM »

This one is for you GiC! ÂÂ  Wink ÂÂ Tongue

And it is actually a very good look at how the conscience is connected to humans and God. ÂÂ

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0884650464/qid=1147037402/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/002-1856327-0352030?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Or here is the book online format:

http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/journey1/
« Last Edit: May 07, 2006, 05:31:55 PM by serb1389 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2006, 07:13:10 PM »

serb,

Quote
And it is actually a very good look at how the conscience is connected to humans and God.

I've read that book a couple times (and even got the permission of the translator of one edition, Fr. George Lardas, to put it on my old website), but remember mostly just plain old good advice, like that employers shouldn't take advantage of their employees (there were some more interesting parts here and there, like the section on sins after baptism, but they were the exception... the thing read more like a praxis catechism than anything else). Maybe I'm forgetting about a section though? Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2006, 11:04:39 PM »

The sources of our morality: nature, nurture, reason, desires, and needs.

Nurture doesn't cut it, because where did the teachers learn it?

Desires doesn't cut it either, because people abstain from what they desire, and this is the same as for 'nature'. A man might lay down his life to save a stranger. He gains nothing out of it (in a naturalistic sense).
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2006, 11:33:38 PM »

montalban,

You cannot take apart what I said and then refute it piece by piece. This would be like me taking Bible quotes and saying "Peter says to be gentle, but sometimes you have to be firm. Paul says to love one another, but sometimes you have to be harsh. Jesus says if someone asks for your coat then give them your shirt to, but sometimes this is not possible if you have obligations in life (e.g., having that shirt so you can go to work and feed your family)". Using your technique, just about anyone could refute the entirety of the Bible with little effort. When I said "The sources of our morality: nature, nurture, reason, desires, and needs," I meant all of those, and probably even more sources than that.

Quote
Nurture doesn't cut it, because where did the teachers learn it?

Within the context of the other source I gave, I believe it does. You think to trap me in an infinite regression paradox, but it will not work. Your question as to where the teachers learned it is based on a false assumption: that the teachers couldn't have thought it up themselves. Maybe they learnt it partly from nature (as someone prone towards alcoholism "learns" something--a physical tendency--partly from nature). Or maybe they learnt it partly from nurture, maybe someone said or did something to them at some point which profoundly effected their beliefs. Or maybe they just came up with it partly on their own, using reason. Probably none of these sources will be the only place that they got their belief or action.

I would hope that even a Christian could agree with what I am saying in this regard: for who here believes that they are unbiased, uneffected by life, false thinking, etc.? We all are pulled this way and that. The difference is that the Christian would posit a true morality that somehow permeates our being and can keep us on the right path, normally attributing the method of delivery to nature (since most people in history have never read the Bible or heard the Gospel, morality must be given to us in at least one other way than the written or spoken Judeo-Christian message); on the other hand, I don't agree with this assessment.

Quote
Desires doesn't cut it either, because people abstain from what they desire, and this is the same as for 'nature'.

I'm not sure why you are attributing to the sources I gave a deterministic quality. When did I ever say that someone MUST follow nature, or MUST follow desire? I think quite the opposite: that we constantly live in a jumble of intellectual contradictions, and if it were not for our ability to form a collection of thoughts (schema) we'd go mad from all the conflicting data. Now, whether the schema is close to reality/truth is a different matter entirely... but it keeps us sane, at least.

Quote
A man might lay down his life to save a stranger. He gains nothing out of it (in a naturalistic sense).

While I don't really have to respond to this last bit, since I didn't actually say what you seemed to think that I said, I would just note that I'm sure naturalistscould come up with many reasons that a man might give his life for a stranger. For example, maybe he thinks the stranger has a better chance than he does of reproducing and helping humanity to prosper. Maybe he thinks the man might serve a higher calling (maybe the guy who gets saved is plainly a doctor of some type, while the life-saver is a stock boy at toys r us). Or maybe the person's own morality (learning through whatever means) dictates to him that it is better to try and save someone else's life, even if there is a chance to fail, than to stand idly by and do nothing. I'm partial to the last answer, but it could be any number of answers, besides some God-given direction.
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2006, 01:44:40 AM »

survival/procreative instinct + social animal + reason (ability to make multiple connections) = morality

Why is it wrong to kill? Because if someone in my social group can kill at random, I may be killed next, but I want to survive, therefore killing bad.

Why is adultery wrong? I have procreative instinct, If I am going to invest time and resources into raising offspring I must ensure that it is my genes being passed on, in case of adultery it may not be my genes, resources wasted to help competition, therefore adultery bad.

Essentially, morality is the victory of the weak but intelligent over the strong but independent.
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2006, 05:48:42 AM »

montalban,

You cannot take apart what I said and then refute it piece by piece.
I'm afraid I can, and did. Although you see this as a 'complete package' of all these forces acting in concert (perhaps, if I'm reading you right), there has to be a 'first lesson' for nurture, somewhere down the line someone had to have learnt it from someone/thing.

Within the context of the other source I gave, I believe it does. You think to trap me in an infinite regression paradox, but it will not work. Your question as to where the teachers learned it is based on a false assumption: that the teachers couldn't have thought it up themselves.
Then what inspired them? You are either stuck at the thought that some people just arbitrarily decided what was right and wrong (who did this? when?) or that they were taught by something else.
Maybe they learnt it partly from nature (as someone prone towards alcoholism "learns" something--a physical tendency--partly from nature). Or maybe they learnt it partly from nurture, maybe someone said or did something to them at some point which profoundly effected their beliefs. Or maybe they just came up with it partly on their own, using reason. Probably none of these sources will be the only place that they got their belief or action.
That is why I can pull apart your assertions one by one. It denies the 'complete package'. If we go back to a stage where the teachers made it up for themselves, then you've already removed 'nurture' from the 'complete package' because the teachers weren't taught it, and therefore had to come up with it from reasons other than that. You've already reasoned that nurture must not have always been one of your own 'elements' for deciding what makes morality.
And it also means that we have people at one stage who came up with the morality we have today were not brought up with that morality. So what morality did they have?
I would hope that even a Christian could agree with what I am saying in this regard: for who here believes that they are unbiased, unaffected by life, false thinking, etc.?
I agree that all people everywhere are influenced by society. God also tells us that He calls us all.
We all are pulled this way and that. The difference is that the Christian would posit a true morality that somehow permeates our being and can keep us on the right path, normally attributing the method of delivery to nature (since most people in history have never read the Bible or heard the Gospel, morality must be given to us in at least one other way than the written or spoken Judeo-Christian message); on the other hand, I don't agree with this assessment.
My contention is that God gave us what is moral. It was when His creation was 'good'. We have a fallen nature, now, but we still retain some of that pre-fallen nature, allowing us, through God's grace to be redeemed. I would see this as similar to your argument for 'nature', excepting for you, nature is a nature that is devoid of God (I presume here as well). God is always calling to us (evidenced by Paul's writings in Romans 2)
I'm not sure why you are attributing to the sources I gave a deterministic quality. When did I ever say that someone MUST follow nature, or MUST follow desire? I think quite the opposite: that we constantly live in a jumble of intellectual contradictions, and if it were not for our ability to form a collection of thoughts (schema) we'd go mad from all the conflicting data. Now, whether the schema is close to reality/truth is a different matter entirely... but it keeps us sane, at least.
Then what makes me feel revulsion for what I desire? I might desire to have sex with the woman on the train in front of me, (we're not married), but the physical attraction is not enough to compel me. And 'secular' punishment isn't either.
While I don't really have to respond to this last bit, since I didn't actually say what you seemed to think that I said, I would just note that I'm sure naturalistscould come up with many reasons that a man might give his life for a stranger. For example, maybe he thinks the stranger has a better chance than he does of reproducing and helping humanity to prosper.
Why is this a motivation for him though? Why would he want to do what is best for a group of total strangers?
Maybe he thinks the man might serve a higher calling (maybe the guy who gets saved is plainly a doctor of some type, while the life-saver is a stock boy at toys r us).
I value all life so I won't comment on this.
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« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2006, 09:08:28 AM »

serb,

I've read that book a couple times (and even got the permission of the translator of one edition, Fr. George Lardas, to put it on my old website), but remember mostly just plain old good advice, like that employers shouldn't take advantage of their employees (there were some more interesting parts here and there, like the section on sins after baptism, but they were the exception... the thing read more like a praxis catechism than anything else). Maybe I'm forgetting about a section though? Smiley

I'm pretty sure that there's a section in there where he explaines exactly how the 10 commandments are connected to our conscience, and obviously the 10 commandments were "written" by God Himself.  So our conscience is inter-connected with God.  

If I could remember exactly where it was I would tell you....if you feel like searching for it, go ahead. I have finals this week...
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