Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How about using your senses?

Rod Dreher has a post at his new blog on the novel ""36 Arguments for the Existence of God", which is more complicated and interesting than the title might suggest. Rod expands upon the book, the author, and his own views. Of interest is this that he wrote:
The title made me reflect on how I've never been able to take arguments for God's existence seriously. As an undergraduate philosophy minor, I ought to have mastered at least the basic arguments enough to know why I didn't believe in them. What happened to me was that I read Kierkegaard, who convinced me that trying to demonstrate God's existence logically was pointless. Even if you could construct an airtight logical proof of His existence, if someone was determined not to believe, he could always find a way out of it.
Okay then.

But why are so many people interested in "logically" demonstrating God's existence? Perhaps it allows for the following argument:
  • It'd be nice to logically demonstrate God's existence.
  • But it can't be done (either due to our mental limitations or logic's dependence on language, which is inadequate to the task).
  • So leave me alone with my belief.
Kant noodled in these waters:
Kant argues that the concept of God is in any case not the concept of one particular object of sense among others but rather an "object of pure thought", of something that by definition exists outside the field of experience and of nature. With regard to unicorns, we can specify how we could determine that unicorns exist, i.e., what spatio-temporal experience of them would look like. With regard to the concept of God, there is no way for us to know it as existing in the only legitimate and meaningful way we know other objects as existing. We cannot even determine "the possibility of any existence beyond that known in and through experience"
Wait a minute. For unicorns, we know what spatio-temporal experience of them would look like.

Similarly, for God, we know what a spatio-temporal experience would look like. It's even present in the Hebrew Bible, where Elijah sets up an empirical test on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18).

Why not walk away from the sterile notions of logical proof and say that proof of God's existence could be established by, say, having someone pray over a glass of water and if it freezes, then you've got a data point in your favor? The failure of those who believe to accept the protocols of science to establish a significant fact about the universe is puzzling.


Any sufficiently advanced science would look like magic to us. If someone's prayers could freeze water, then we should obviously look for the underlying mechanism, that's all.

Unless you define the thing, it's rather pointless to talk about it. Except, of course, as a manifestation of the human psychology from which it springs.

By Anonymous eb, at 1/06/2010 9:08 AM  

This is another way of looking at the problem of Supernaturalism:

I do not believe at all in the supernatural. This universe did not come into being, it does not continue to be, except by the operation of natural and immutable laws. And I mean immutable, gentlemen. Everything that has ever happened, that is happening now, or that ever is to happen was, is, and will statistically connected with its predecessor event and with its successor event. If I did not believe that implicitly, I would lose all faith in the scientific method. For if one single 'supernatural' event or thing had ever occured or existed it would have constituted an entirely unpredictable even and would have initiated a series--a succession--of such events; a state of things no scientist will or can believe possible in an orderly universe

First Lensman, By E.E. Smith

By Anonymous The Dark Avenger, at 1/06/2010 9:38 AM  

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