Observations

 In the most basic form, all a belief in God requires is a skepticism that either materialism or naturalism is sufficient to explain the existence of reality. Being a Christian requires something more of course but at the foundation, that God exists merely requires one to believe His absence isn’t credible in one way or another.

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10 Responses to Observations

  1. Mike D says:

    This is wrong, for several reasons.

    1. It’s based on the false assumption that the natural world had to have come from something else. There is nothing in the laws of physics to indicate that this is the case. The universe can simply be, in which case it does not require an explanation for its existence. [more]

    But even if we (baselessly) assume the universe requires an explanation for its existence, you’re still not out of the woods because:

    2. It’s an argument from ignorance. Just because a natural explanation for something is either unknown, not fully understood, or not immediately apparent does not make a supernatural explanation valid by default.

    3. It’s a false dichotomy. Even if it were true that, in principle, the existence of the natural world that cannot be explained naturally, that doesn’t mean the default alternative must be God – much less any particular kind of god (theistic, deistic, pantheistic, etc. etc.). We can posit an infinite number of supernatural entities that may have some qualities you ascribe to God, without actually being God.

  2. Tristan Vick says:

    “In the most basic form, all a belief in God requires is a skepticism that either materialism or naturalism is sufficient to explain the existence of reality. Being a Christian requires something more of course but at the foundation, that God exists merely requires one to believe His absence isn’t credible in one way or another.” –Jack

    No offense, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    Do you mean the most basic form of belief, or the most basic concept or idea? These technically are different things.

    Skepticism in something doesn’t by default mean it is false. It merely means there are necessary reasons for being skeptical. I’m skeptical of the God hypothesis. If I am wrong, I’d like to be proved so, so that I may correct my erroneous beliefs.

    The thing is though, when you hold up the God hypothesis to scrutiny–including scientific, philosophical, logical, etc. it begins to falter.

    Scrutiny of materialism and naturalism is more strained because, let’s face it, there is just piles of evidence to show we live in a universe made up of material things by which natural laws apply.

    So although there may be criticisms of the -ism of these things, it doesn’t seem to me the inference of a materialistic or naturalistic universe is wrong–at least not by much.

    Whereas we are still in want of any “basic” component which could aid to support the God hypothesis.

    But God’s absence, it seems, would be credible to a naturalistic worldview. That is, if naturalism turns out to be true, the absence of God is what we’d expect to find.

    And well, not having the capability to simply point out God is strong evidence of his absence, and thus (most likely) his non-existence.

    But assuming there are valid objections to naturalism, and I haven’t encountered any (yet) that could pull their own weight, but assuming naturalism and the God hypothesis are equally wrong… what alternatives could you, as a theist, propose?

    I don’t see that there are any… unless you are willing to retreat into the realm of metaphysical-naturalism, or realism, or so forth. It seems to me that *theism is too much of a crutch, and that all your arguments rests upon it, knock it out from underneath and your arguments collapse and fall apart.

    It would, as a recessionary measure, be wise to at least consider the objections and say, what if I am right about naturalism being incorrect but wrong theism? Then what?

  3. Tristan Vick says:

    Not recessionary… precautionary. Although there may be a amusing pun in the recessionary measure of trying to safeguard God from disproof. An accidental God of the gaps, slip of the tongue?

  4. jackhudson says:

    1. It’s based on the false assumption that the natural world had to have come from something else. There is nothing in the laws of physics to indicate that this is the case. The universe can simply be, in which case it does not require an explanation for its existence.

    This would still be naturalism or materialism – as I said, simply being skeptical of such claims is sufficient to engender a belief in God.

    2. It’s an argument from ignorance. Just because a natural explanation for something is either unknown, not fully understood, or not immediately apparent does not make a supernatural explanation valid by default.

    It’s not an argument – it’s skepticism about the claims of naturalism and materialism. It is up to the naturalist or materialist to overcome that skepticism.

    3. It’s a false dichotomy. Even if it were true that, in principle, the existence of the natural world that cannot be explained naturally, that doesn’t mean the default alternative must be God – much less any particular kind of god (theistic, deistic, pantheistic, etc. etc.). We can posit an infinite number of supernatural entities that may have some qualities you ascribe to God, without actually being God.

    A supernatural entity that has the qualities of God that is not God? Such as?

  5. Harry says:

    “Being a Christian requires something more of course but at the foundation, that God exists merely requires one to believe His absence isn’t credible.”

    You’re not making an argument for the belief in God here?

    “This would still be naturalism or materialism – as I said, simply being skeptical of such claims is sufficient to engender a belief in God.”

    So, your simply being skeptical of looking at the world in one way warrants the belief that it functions in another?

  6. jackhudson says:

    “Being a Christian requires something more of course but at the foundation, that God exists merely requires one to believe His absence isn’t credible.”

    You’re not making an argument for the belief in God here?

    No, just differentiating between mere theism and Christianity.

    So, your simply being skeptical of looking at the world in one way warrants the belief that it functions in another?

    Sure – just as being skeptical that God exists would warrant that the world merely operates via natural processes.

  7. jackhudson says:

    No offense, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    Why would I be offended by your lack of understanding?

    Do you mean the most basic form of belief, or the most basic concept or idea? These technically are different things.

    How do you think they are different?

    Skepticism in something doesn’t by default mean it is false. It merely means there are necessary reasons for being skeptical. I’m skeptical of the God hypothesis. If I am wrong, I’d like to be proved so, so that I may correct my erroneous beliefs.

    Sure.

    The thing is though, when you hold up the God hypothesis to scrutiny–including scientific, philosophical, logical, etc. it begins to falter.

    I would say this is true of naturalism and materialism. I am not sure why you think the ‘God hypothesis’ suffers accordingly.

    Scrutiny of materialism and naturalism is more strained because, let’s face it, there is just piles of evidence to show we live in a universe made up of material things by which natural laws apply.

    Naturalism and materialism say that either nature or material is all that is necessary to explain existence. Not much evidence of that.

    So although there may be criticisms of the -ism of these things, it doesn’t seem to me the inference of a materialistic or naturalistic universe is wrong–at least not by much.

    I think the fact that neither naturalism nor materialism can explain the existence of nature or material is problematic. I think that they can’t explain the origin of the universe and it’s specific parameters allowing for the existence of life is problematic. I think it’s inability to explain the unique aspects of earth, the origin of life, human nature, consciousness, self-awareness, morality, spirituality or a sense of the self is problematic. Given all these problems, there is lots of room for skepticism.

    Whereas we are still in want of any “basic” component which could aid to support the God hypothesis.

    The God hypothesis provides a ready explanation of the above phenomena – a consistent one as well.

    But God’s absence, it seems, would be credible to a naturalistic worldview. That is, if naturalism turns out to be true, the absence of God is what we’d expect to find.

    Obviously. If naturalism is true, then it’s a given God doesn’t exist – but you are begging the question here.

    And well, not having the capability to simply point out God is strong evidence of his absence, and thus (most likely) his non-existence.

    You can’t simply point to most phenomena we except as existing, even if naturalism is true. That isn’t evidence of it’s absence at all, particularly given the fact that the existence of God provides a ready explanation for a multitude of other phenomena.

    But assuming there are valid objections to naturalism, and I haven’t encountered any (yet) that could pull their own weight, but assuming naturalism and the God hypothesis are equally wrong… what alternatives could you, as a theist, propose?

    I pointed to a number of objections to naturalism above – as I said, if naturalism and materialism are wrong, that is excellent warrant for believing God to exist. I don’t think there are alternatives.

    I don’t see that there are any… unless you are willing to retreat into the realm of metaphysical-naturalism, or realism, or so forth. It seems to me that *theism is too much of a crutch, and that all your arguments rests upon it, knock it out from underneath and your arguments collapse and fall apart.

    It seems you are agreeing with my basic thesis here.

    It would, as a recessionary measure, be wise to at least consider the objections and say, what if I am right about naturalism being incorrect but wrong theism? Then what?

    You seem to be contradicting yourself here. As you yourself said, you don’t see there are any alternatives to either naturalism or theism. If naturalism fails, theism is the logical alternative.

  8. Mike D says:

    This would still be naturalism or materialism – as I said, simply being skeptical of such claims is sufficient to engender a belief in God.

    Your entire assertion is based upon the notion that reality (the universe) requires an explanation for its existence. Why? Why does the universe require an explanation for its existence?

    Does a creator God require an explanation for his existence? No? Why not? Is it because God exists…. uncaused? Well guess what?

    One sometimes hears the claim that the Big Bang was the beginning of both time and space; that to ask about spacetime “before the Big Bang” is like asking about land “north of the North Pole.” This may turn out to be true, but it is not an established understanding. The singularity at the Big Bang doesn’t indicate a beginning to the universe, only an end to our theoretical comprehension. It may be that this moment does indeed correspond to a beginning, and a complete theory of quantum gravity will eventually explain how the universe started at approximately this time. But it is equally plausible that what we think of as the Big Bang is merely a phase in the history of the universe, which stretches long before that time – perhaps infinitely far in the past. The present state of the art is simply insufficient to decide between these alternatives; to do so, we will need to formulate and test a working theory of quantum gravity. – Sean Carroll

    So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? -Stephen Hawking

    tl;dr version:

    There is no rational basis to assume that the universe requires a cause. So if God does not need an explanation because he exists uncaused, we can save ourselves the regress and simply say the universe itself exists uncaused, and thus does not need an explanation for its existence.

    It’s not an argument – it’s skepticism about the claims of naturalism and materialism.

    It most certainly is an argument in the sense that you are trying to justify the epistemological grounds for your beliefs, and you’ve had to root them in baseless assumption and incredulity.

    Naturalism/materialism do not claim that God does not exist. They demonstrate that any God-hypothesis is epistemologically useless, and thus if God does exist, he might as well not exist because there is no way to demonstrate that he played or plays any role in reality whatsoever.

    A supernatural entity that has the qualities of God that is not God? Such as?

    Really? Use your imagination dude.
    – A creator that is neither all-powerful nor omniscient.
    – A creator that is the umpteenth descendent of other, more powerful creators
    – A creator that destroyed himself in the process of creation by transferring all his power into creation itself
    – A pantheon of creators, each of whom plays only a small role and are mortal.
    etc.etc.etc.

  9. jackhudson says:

    Your entire assertion is based upon the notion that reality (the universe) requires an explanation for its existence. Why? Why does the universe require an explanation for its existence?

    Why do you require an explanation for your existence? Answer this, and you will have the answer.

    Does a creator God require an explanation for his existence? No? Why not? Is it because God exists…. uncaused? Well guess what?

    At the very least, we know the universe has changed considerably over time. We know the universe as it is now is not what it once was. Part of the reason we say God is uncaused is because He is outside of time and is unchanging.

    So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? -Stephen Hawking

    There is no rational basis to assume that the universe requires a cause. So if God does not need an explanation because he exists uncaused, we can save ourselves the regress and simply say the universe itself exists uncaused, and thus does not need an explanation for its existence.

    The universe is a set of things. As a set of things, it is by definition not actually infinite. As far as our observation of this set of things there are properties, forces, and changes over time. In short a measurable and finite object, not an unchanging boundless infinity. A greater universe may exist, or a number of other universes may exist, but such speculation hasn’t been observed, and may never be. Believing the universe has no beginning and no cause may blunt skepticisms of naturalism and materialism if one is willing to accept such a belief by faith, but this is not the only reason to be skeptical of naturalism and materialism. In fact I don’t even think it is the biggest reason.

    It most certainly is an argument in the sense that you are trying to justify the epistemological grounds for your beliefs, and you’ve had to root them in baseless assumption and incredulity.

    No, I am calling into question the veracity of naturalism and materialism as sufficient explanations for the whole of reality. It is up to the naturalist and materialist to alleviate such skepticism – your answer has been to just have faith that the universe just is and always will be, Amen.
    That is hardly an empirical argument for accepting naturalism and materialism.

    Really? Use your imagination dude.
    – A creator that is neither all-powerful nor omniscient.
    – A creator that is the umpteenth descendent of other, more powerful creators
    – A creator that destroyed himself in the process of creation by transferring all his power into creation itself
    – A pantheon of creators, each of whom plays only a small role and are mortal.
    etc.etc.etc.

    Possibly, though I would say the very aspects of naturalism and materialism that would cause one to be skeptical would reside in the above described ‘creators’. Nonetheless, it doesn’t change my original thesis, as belief in such entities would still constitute theism.

  10. Justin says:

    Your entire assertion is based upon the notion that reality (the universe) requires an explanation for its existence. Why? Why does the universe require an explanation for its existence?

    Does a creator God require an explanation for his existence? No? Why not? Is it because God exists…. uncaused? Well guess what?

    Matter (that which materialists say only exists) is part actual and part potentiality. It’s funny, but from Aristotle to Aquinas, skip a couple thousand years, and back to quantum mechanics, this philosophical point seems to have been verified. Looks like the old guys were right after all. Something that is a mix of actual and potential are only brought to their potential by something actual, but an infinite regress of per se causes is illogical, so there must be some entity that is pure actuality, an unmoved mover. Since all matter is a mix of potential and actual, the unmoved mover would therefore be immaterial. There’s no need (i.e. it is illogical) to ask for an explanation for this entity’s existence.

    Asserting that the existence of the universe needs no explanation is simply hand waving rhetoric.

    This may turn out to be true, but it is not an established understanding. The singularity at the Big Bang doesn’t indicate a beginning to the universe, only an end to our theoretical comprehension. It may be that this moment does indeed correspond to a beginning, and a complete theory of quantum gravity will eventually explain how the universe started at approximately this time.

    Ultimately, beginning or no beginning doesn’t matter. Material things, mixes of actual and potential, even if eternal, still requires an unmoved mover. Aquinas didn’t think it was possible to show that the universe wasn’t eternal. We think now it isn’t eternal, but that’s actually beside the point, though it would be interesting to hear how this claim squares with the BGV theorem.

    Oh, and while we’re going, the “theory of everything” looks like it will have to wait – for eternity. Godel proved that mathematically. But keep in mind, even gravity is contingent.

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