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Do you believe in God, or some other supreme creator?
Yes 30%  30%  [ 6 ]
No 55%  55%  [ 11 ]
I don't know 15%  15%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 20

Abstract_Logic
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13 Jun 2010, 11:02 pm

It is just about 5 AM here in Chicago and I cannot sleep any longer. I went to sleep at around midnight, then I woke up at 4:30 to have a cigarette and I couldn't get back to sleep. So, now I am drinking coffee - if you can't beat it, you might as well join it. I spent the last 25-30 minutes drinking coffee and pacing around, during which I became entranced in a reverie about an idea I had 5 years ago as a Junior in high school. It is a theory of death, or what happens to you after you die. For the 16 years prior to having the thought, I had held the Christian belief that your soul goes to a place called heaven if you had been more or less a goodly moral person (provided that you believed in God), and it goes to hell if you had been anything contrary to that. During the time frame that I had the thought (circa early 2005), I was going through a great deal of psychological and emotional distress, so much so that I began to doubt the existence of God. So, as it were, one thought led to another and I had concluded that God does not exist. Then I began to wonder what happens after you die, and concluded that since your brain and body are not functioning when you are dead, it must be that you are in an eternal state of nothingness, a void so-to-speak, such that you have neither thoughts nor feelings. And this void-like state is similar to what you recall of reality when you were sleeping and not dreaming. There is no sense of space and no progression of time; it is everything opposite to that of what you are perceiving at this moment, either consciously or unconsciously.

I use the term formal in the title of this post, because, as in the formal disciplines of logic and mathematics, the truth is derived from unprovable assertions (or axioms) which are assumed to be necessarily true based on the human faculty of intuition. As Kant would say, they are truths derived a priori. For example, it is rational to assume that all bachelors are unmarried, because one is called a bachelor if and only if one is not married. (1) If you are a bachelor, then you are not married; and if you are married, then you are not a bachelor; (2) If you are not married, then you are a bachelor; and if you are not a bachelor, then you are married. These are truths that follow necessarily from the assertion that a bachelor is one who is not married, even though one has not met every bachelor that ever existed and ever will exist, and, therefore, cannot present it as an empirical fact. In a similar fashion, my conclusion that God does not exist is an a priori justification because it follows necessarily from intuition. Drawing from a humanistic intuition, it doesn't seem rational to believe in a supposed supreme being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. There are no natural phenomena whence you can derive the truth that a god exists. In the face of humanism, and from the perspective of science, God is nothing more nor less than a paranormal idea - an idea that is necessarily false when interpreted in the same context as scientific truths.

One might contend that the belief that God exists can be derived via intuition as well, but there is a fundamental problem with that assumption. The belief that God exists and is part of our reality is a justification based on pre-operational intuition. I borrowed the term pre-operational from Piaget's theory of cognitive development. According to Piaget, there are four stages of cognitive development: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational. During the pre-operational stage, which occurs relatively between the ages 2-7, a child begins to form ideas (theories) about objects which are not visibly present. They will become intensely curious, asking many questions which may or may not have an answer; a phenomenon called primitive reasoning. A child during this stage will learn primarily through imitation and play. A child normally begins schooling at or about age 5. This is the stage of development in which a child's conception of things is most malleable; an adult can feed any kind of knowledge into a child's mind. The child, under the pre-operative belief that the adult is an authority, will naturally believe what the adult professes without much doubt. During this stage, the child first conceives of the notion of God, or a god, via his parents or a religious authority. They are taught about the consequences of not believing in God and of disobeying God's laws. Insofar as behavior is concerned, this is a productive method of teaching and promoting ethical behavioral habits; however, as far as the truth is concerned, it is a mere fabrication intended for mental manipulation. Furthermore, there are more productive methods to instill ethical behavior in children without using religion. But children then grow up still holding firmly the belief in God, or a god, because they were taught at a young age, when their minds were fragile and malleable, that there are severe consequences for individuals who believe otherwise. The older one becomes, and the more firmly one's beliefs are held, the more difficult it is to doubt and alter those beliefs. As age increases, the mind becomes less malleable and "solidifies", so to speak, thus making belief systems more rigid and less susceptible to changes. The more highly developed mind will therefore gain a greater curiosity and never cease in questioning the consensus. This occurs somewhere between the concrete operational and formal operational stages, thus making the mind permanently susceptible to change, which is commonly known as open-mindedness. An individual who is considered open-minded will have an ever-burning curiosity, as well as a discontent with the consensus. They will always be questioning authority or challenging popular beliefs. Apparently, and unfortunately, it is a difficult transition, and only exceptional individuals will cross that barrier.

We are now in a position to equate the cognitive development of a child with that of an extremely ignorant adult, such as some of the first adult human beings that lived around the time the human race first sprouted. In that period of time, we knew almost nothing about our environment besides that which we were able to learn by experience, with the tools and resources we had back then. It took humans about 200,000 years to obtain the knowledge we have today, so one can imagine how ignorant the first homo sapiens were. Without such a well-developed knowledge source we cannot use a well-developed scientific intuition. We are therefore limited to the pre-operative, or even concrete-operative, intuition, until we have gained the knowledge that will suffice to warrant the use of formal-operational reasoning. The pre-operational intuition is precisely the intuition used to obtain the notion of God, or a god. It is a fabrication of the mind of a naive individual who lacks both the well-developed scientific knowledge, the intuition associated with that knowledge, and the formal reasoning faculty necessary to obtain more highly developed notions of reality.

Science is the most reliable method of obtaining knowledge of reality, be it mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, etc.. Essentially, it is in the benefit of human rationality that all our conclusions of the nature of reality be derived either from the empirical methods of science, or from formal reasoning with the intuition obtained from scientific knowledge. It is safe to conclude that there are no supreme creators or governors of the universe that have a real existence, and said creators/governors are merely a manifestation of human pre-operational intuition - an intuition that we have shown is insufficient for obtaining valuable, well-developed knowledge of reality. The irrational, ill-founded belief in a supreme creator of our universe is, therefore, a fabrication of the minds of naive individuals.


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Last edited by Abstract_Logic on 14 Jun 2010, 9:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

auntblabby
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14 Jun 2010, 6:52 am

count me among the legions of proudly delusional naive believers then. scientific logic is only the beginning of wisdom.



Sand
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14 Jun 2010, 7:00 am

auntblabby wrote:
count me among the legions of proudly delusional naive believers then. scientific logic is only the beginning of wisdom.


Absolutely. One must discard all nonsense and start from the beginning.



Abstract_Logic
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14 Jun 2010, 9:27 am

Sand wrote:
auntblabby wrote:
count me among the legions of proudly delusional naive believers then. scientific logic is only the beginning of wisdom.


Absolutely. One must discard all nonsense and start from the beginning.


@auntblabby - You described your group correctly.

@Sand - Yes, we must discard all childish religious nonsense and consider only that which has been proven by scientific reasoning. The beginning of scientific reasoning began with the ancient Greeks, and continues today with modern scientists and mathematicians. Scientific reasoning is much more enriched today with the knowledge we have obtained with it. Scientific reasoning is a self-organizing, self-augmented phenomenon, just like our universe. In fact, everything that has a scientific basis in reality can be described using those two words. So when one says "start from the beginning," surely one means continue with what the ancient Greeks started, or else one clearly does not know what one speaks of. In any case, contemporary scientists and mathematicians are continuing with the Greek legacy, as well as improving it.


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Awesomelyglorious
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14 Jun 2010, 11:30 am

Right, I kind of agree with the pro-science attitude. There is a lot of evidence that our minds and basic intuitions are flawed, but science, unlike our spirituality, can actually improve itself, falsify its ideas, and question and doubt things as is necessary to really improve.



Henry Armitage
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21 Jan 2015, 6:50 pm

I selected "I don't know" because I am agnostic when it comes to knowledge claims about the existence of God. What's more, I am also ignostic. When it comes to the existence of God, I could answer "yes" or "no" depending on the definition. "God is Nature".....okay count me a believer. "God is a humanoid being out there somewhere"....no I am an atheist towards that definition of God. I like to consider some pantheistic/panentheistic and deistic concepts of deity. However, ultimately I have to admit that I don't know.