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Is there a God? The Cosmological Argument (Section 2)

  • Feb 26, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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In our last meet up, we introduced the subject of metaphysics. We discussed the questions such as "What is really real?", "What is ultimate reality?", "Why is there something rather than nothing?", "Where did we come from?", and Why are we here?". Of course, this naturally leads to the question of the existence of a supreme self-existent personal being. "Is there really a God?" So in this meeting, we will discuss some of the evidence for and against the idea of God.

Over the next couple months, I would like volunteers to make brief presentations making a case for God, and also volunteers willing to challenge the case for God. Let me know soon if you would like to make a presentation. In this next meet up, I would like the one making a case for the existence of God to focus on the cosmological argument.

Regarding attendance, sign up for either section 1 or section 2. Thanks!

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  • A former member
    A former member

    February 27, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Jay, Very good, no koans

      March 5, 2013

    • Jay

      My favorite koan:

      Three monks walking in courtyard, discussing waving flag:

      First Monk: "The flag is moving."

      Second Monk: No, the wind is moving."

      Huineng: "No, neither the flag nor the wind is moving. The mind is moving."

      Miaoxin, as the monks are walking toward her: It's not the flag moving, it's not the wind moving, it's not the mind moving."

      Ah, so ... Satori! Welcome to The Gate of all Marvelous Things.

      "Tao empty, but use it ... even not full." - Tao Te Ching, chapter 4, verse 1

      Have a fine day.

      March 7, 2013

  • Shriram K.

    Mark is very meticulous in his presentation. I admire that. Very good from his point of view.
    But after going through the presentation I realized that this approach that Mark is suggesting will never take us close to any realization or direct experience of either GOD or Cosmos, which is probably the ultimate aim from my point of view. We will stay equidistant from the truth as we were before, after the discussion or argument.
    I follow the approach of giving eyes to the blind man, so that he can see the elephant himself, instead of spending energy and time to explain, give proof to a blind man how a elephant exists. I believe in making the blind man independent by giving him eyes.
    But it seemed to me no one was interested in asking me how to get the eyes fixed, but more interested in imaginative discussion and arguments and belief.
    All arguments and discussion drop dead for a person with eyes.
    Overall enjoyed the discussion.

    February 27, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I forgot to add, that in Kripke's second lecture from Naming and Necessity he makes a distinction between epistemic "might" and his view of rigid designation. To ancient astronomers Hesperus might be Phosphorus (epistemically) even though it is not even possible, given rigid designation, that Hesperus does not equal Phosphorus.

      March 6, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I am a novice in these higher order logics, so I will defer to your knowledge here. Quine makes me proud to be from Ohio!

      March 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I enjoyed the discussion last week! One thing I keep finding in this discussion is that there is a lack of some unified definition of God, as if our definition of God must be inherently subjective. But I took Dr. Bird's arguments at least to give us certain definite descriptions of God. For instance, the Kalam cosmological argument concludes that God is a person who transcends the universe. Some of the other varieties of the cosmological argument imply that God is necessary and not contingent. If these arguments work, then even if you are not trying to presuppose anything about God in the beginning, don't they seem to give us material to work with in constructing a working definition of God that is not subjective?

    March 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Coherence abides by laws. Language, as far as I am aware, abide by socially evolving rules. One doesn't have to abide by these rules, but one is more likely than not to be understood correctly if one so abides. Would you agree? I am interested since you study the philosophy of language. In my Greek 2 class, we studied how natural language basically works. My professor said that one doesn't guarantee but makes it much more probable that accurate communication takes place when one follows the grammar rules of natural language. Again, I would be very interested in your thoughts along these lines.

      March 6, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Finally, I know it is controversial (at least a little) but I agree with Thomas Kelly that the epistemic relevance of peer disagreement ought not cause (I realize 'cause' is not a good term here, but I have yet to come up with a better one) us to lower our confidence in our positions. I say this merely to point out what Peter van Inwagen argues, namely, that philosophy, like politics, has able-bodied people who disagree on practically every aspect of the subject matter. However, I would like to think (perhaps it is an illusion) that philosophy and politics and the like are actually making some progress.

      March 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    As this conversation has been going since last week, I’ve enjoyed hearing the different points of views on the topic. An idea came to me, which I had not thought about before that may bridge the faith and scientific point of view. If people can agree that the laws that govern the universe are true.

    My argument is this; if God created the universe then these laws were created by God to allow the universe to be knowable. Since science is only discovering the laws of God and not creating them, people of faith should embrace this knowledge as a way of seeing how God created the universe and what laws he put in place to allow it to exist. As discoveries are made, they only give us a clearer view of Gods work.

    Albert Einstein once said he was only trying to read the mind of God.

    1 · March 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I think that your reasoning is good and suggests that ultimately science cannot be used to falsify religious belief. "[C. S.] Lewis insists that, because science confines its examination to the universe, it’s natural that science discovers nothing beyond it. The prior question of whether there is a more ultimate explanation can still be asked, and answering it requires that we be attentive to intimations of something more." Baggett, David; Walls, Jerry L. [masked]). Good God:The Theistic Foundations of Morality (pp. 10-11). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

      March 6, 2013

    • Jay

      Makes sense to me. You gotta like Lewis. Bright guy.

      1 · March 6, 2013

  • Peter L. C.

    Man can make God what they want him or her to be, or man can be what they imagine god wants them to be, or there is a true god in his own right that we do not rule over, or there is no real god in any form. Since in our short lifetimes it is unlikely that science, theology or intellect will find positively proof one way or another leaving us with a few different beliefs to choose from - that is if you are looking for an answer. I think to find contentment one should investigate, without trying to make god what one might want him to be, and then make the best choice they can and hope they did not make one that leads to bad consequences.

    March 6, 2013

  • Jay

    Krystyn,

    Thanks for your recent book review posting on the Files board:

    http://tinyurl.com/cp6fs7a

    To my mind it is extremely well written and lends a nice balance to all the Western and Christian concepts we have been lately discussing on the board here.

    March 6, 2013

  • Peter L. C.

    David, part of the conversation going on is to dispel the misconceptions on all sides in order to come to a better understanding. When I criticize science it is not the work of pure science for much of it had its start within the church.
    It is a certain philosophy, a teaching that comes from the scientific community that is in question. It seems there is an arrogant view against things that they cannot put under the microscope. They feel they must control knowledge. Saying they have all the answers when they know they do not. I believe this comes from not being able to explain away the spiritual side of our lives. These are some simple primers for the discussion.

    March 4, 2013

    • Jay

      David, I'll respectfully submit that although they do not purport to know all things, scientists do KNOW a lot.

      March 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Jay,
      I had the same reaction as you. To single out a group of people whose work has open the door to the workings of the universe as if they were sinners trying to destroy spiritualty with lies and stories. I would have hoped that we had gone beyond this. The better argument would be, I don’t believe in string theory, because it cannot be tested and who needs eleven dimensions, I only have ten fingers.

      March 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I think I wish that everyone had given a definition of what God was or was not to them. It seems that once you know what a person believes, it is easier to understand what God is to them.

    If you were to ask believers to describe God, I would guess that the range of descriptions would be different for each person.

    But I think the one description that would be in everyone’s list would be an all-powerful being that created everything and controls everything. I think this is a common belief weather you believe in one or many gods. I asked myself why humans have always had gods or God to help them. I think we need to be able to know that someone of something can help us, when we are in need; it gives reason to our lives. Knowing that someone is watching over us and has a plan, removes the uncertainty from our lives. Some days the earth opens up and a sink hole pulls you in, why?

    1 · March 3, 2013

    • Jay

      David, I still see some perhaps unnecessary nexus between "creating everything" and "controlling everything" in your writings? Or was that just a slip of the tongue? Some would base that creation is faith-based only. At least in the sense of "purposely caused" by SOME THING, i.e. an entity. Perhaps this just a language problem, but some scientists seem to adhere to the position that the (uni)verse as we know it - at least in only four dimensions - just sort of "created itself" or "happened" and that expansion and entropy are its main characteristics, etc. That is, its causal agent was "itself." Not to be confused with Aristotle's First Mover, of course. Needless to add perhaps, this can get quite complex as physicists know only too well. It is also hard for many people to accept that the universe wasn't created within space and time, that these were part of the universe's "initial happening."

      1 · March 4, 2013

  • Peter L. C.

    Bob, it seems what you are saying is a religion or an attempt to dispose of religion? I am not sure?

    March 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    As a atheist/Zen Buddhist review of the meeting on the topic of God. The meeting discussions seemed to be more about supporting the belief in God and not providing a logical open based argument.

    I know that it is hard for people of strong belief to question it. Faith is not fact, it cannot be proven, which is why it is called faith. God is a faith base belief; it is not a fact based idea that can be independently tested.

    What I heard was a faith based argument; I cannot make an argument for or against something that has not been defined.

    I would have been happier if we first define what is God. Once that is done, then we can provide logical support for our views. I still enjoyed the meeting.

    February 28, 2013

    • Mark B.

      As far as the beginning of the universe goes, we showed that there are philosophical and scientific reasons to affirm that the universe has a beginning. Of course we are talking about whether or not we believe in God, so if that's what you mean by faith-based, I understand, but I hope you weren't suggesting that a logical argument for the existence of a First Cause was not presented. That was the purpose of the meeting (along with presenting challenges to that, which I thought you did a pretty good job of doing).

      March 2, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Mark,
      Thank you for the feedback. My interest in this argument, is not to prove or disprove God, it is to understand the reason and the logic behind it. I think a large number of people of faith think scientists are trying to disprove God. I don’t think God has anything to fear from people who are trying to understand how his universe works.
      Somewhere I read something that said.
      Faith does not tell us how the heavens work; it shows us how to get to Heaven. I don’t think our views differ so much.

      1 · March 3, 2013

  • Peter L. C.

    Logic can also be a faith based assumption. I find it can be challenging in dealing with one’s believes if they are different than your own. At the meeting each person brought a different set of beliefs although some were only slightly different. There is a test for faith based beliefs - if it works first - and then if it maintains that level of truth for the rest of one’s life and beyond. If a person’s faith crumbles before that cycle is complete it tells us little. The trouble is that I know of no test so far that can measure what happens beyond our lives. So it leaves us only with our faith in it - to measure. And that can only be measured in people that have faith. What must be asked is - does it have a decided affect on a person’s life? Does it create positive change that makes life better? Since it is a potent energy it can also cause harm if incorrectly used. those measurable results most non-believers do not accept those results.

    1 · March 2, 2013

  • Shriram K.

    Today, I would like to make a case for "You Are That". I don't want to use the word GOD, as I think, it has lost the meaning.

    February 26, 2013

    • Jay

      Sorry I missed this presentation. Maybe you have a handout Mark can post ... or was that ad lib, kinda pay as you go?

      February 27, 2013

    • Shriram K.

      Jay, I don't have any presentation. It was extempore.

      February 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Work issues....next time.

    February 26, 2013

    • Jay

      And I see with others here, also. My wife and I too. Unfortunately for us meager work trumps play. "Work is the curse of the drinking class."- Socrates

      February 27, 2013

  • Jay

    Must have been an excellent meeting. You people are all fired up. Identity, Nothing, Third Eyes? Next thing we'll be talking the concept of the Seven Chakras of which that, I believe is one, of the Zhouyi (I Ching), The Great Chain of Being, Egyptian knowledge thousands of years ago ... who knows? Things of "wild and crazy guys" leisure time pursuits. Maybe we'll escape our Western Bondage. Philosophical journey? Go 4 it, good people! [Think there's a great quotation by Russell about how wonderful it will be when the East and West finally get together philosophically. Unfortunately I can't find it searching through my books here however. Maybe someone can help me?]

    Have a good discussion. Peace, all.

    1 · February 27, 2013

  • Shriram K.

    For curious minds, here is a great video in 3D, showing how changes occur in mind & consciousness of a mediator. This is inline with the eastern approach of getting our eyes back. Also called the 3rd Eye. Cheers, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_GNvUhXS0

    February 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    For anyone who has the time, I came across this video from the BBC horizon program that offers some insite into how we see the world and what is real and not. It is 50 min. long. It shows a doctor being tested and learning about what is real. Sometimes what we see and what is real can be very different.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Biv_8xjj8E

    1 · February 27, 2013

  • Mark B.

    I've posted some meeting materials under Files.

    February 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very good. Good talk with good people. This is a very hard topic to talk about.

    1 · February 27, 2013

  • Steve S.

    I apologize for the late withdrawal. I am out of town and it is now apparent I will not be back in time to make the meeting

    February 26, 2013

  • Jane

    I've had a conflict come up.

    February 26, 2013

  • Jane

    As Adam mentioned, I would like to attend to listen.

    February 23, 2013

    • Mark B.

      Sounds good, Jane. See you soon!

      February 25, 2013

  • Jay

    Have to miss meeting due to overriding situation. See you at a future meeting.

    February 25, 2013

  • Jay

    Brian,

    Yup. And, we've not yet begun to hit the later heavy hitters. There are so many bridges to cross yet for those of us entranced with our British Empiricists, for example. And the fun has just begun. Witness this tidbit on Bishop George Berkeley:

    There was a young man who said, God
    Must think it exceedingly odd
    If he finds that this tree
    Continues to be
    When there's no one about in the Quad

    Response, by the Balliol-educated Catholic theologian and Bible translator Ronald Knox, which more accurately reflects Berkeley's own beliefs:

    Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd:
    I am always about in the Quad.
    And that's why the tree
    Will continue to be,
    Since observed by, Yours faithfully, GOD.

    Proofs of God do present their fun, methinks. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves here, I suspect. Properly, I believe we're talking contingencies as regards Cosmological Arguments, perhaps.

    Cheers ...

    1 · February 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Should prove interesting

    February 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can you Attend with out a presentation? I want to watch and listen not debate.

    February 12, 2013

    • Mark B.

      Yes, definitely.

      February 12, 2013

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