Greatest Proof of a Lack of a Deity?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by pseudonymous, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    pain & suffering is a universal at least once in any sentient's life, and a deity responsible for the gazillions of past, present, and future experiencers should be ashamed of itself...especially if it were a judgmental deity on top of that. it remains the single greatest argument against a conscious creator.

    what are other obvious arguments against the existence of a deity that you ascribe to?

    dcv-
     
  2. BlueCanary

    BlueCanary Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    The problem of evil and suffering is one of the oldest, and most formidable arguments against the existence of a deity. Or at least an all-good, omnipotent deity. If you don't believe that your deity is necessarily completely good, this wouldn't present a challenge to your belief system. Also it doesn't preclude the existence of an all-good, but not omnipotent deity/being who is simply helpless to stop the suffering.

    But it is an effective criticism of many of the monotheistic religions which believe in an all-powerful, all-good god. My response to this argument would be twofold:
    1) some suffering is necessary for moral development/goodness (charity, compassion, mercy, etc. would be meaningless if suffering was not possible)
    2) some of the greatest causes of suffering are human-caused. I believe that God has given us free will, because people acting goodly/accepting God of their own free will is inherently better than them being compelled to do so, and that if it were not possible for people's actions to have negative consequences (such as suffering) free will would be meaningless.

    but those are just my arguments. Each religion deals with the problem of why suffering exists in their own ways, many of which seem quite plausible.
     
  3. Chronicles

    Chronicles Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    One of the problems with the notion that "God wouldn't allow suffering" is that it entirely demands that God has a culturally agreeable and very human perception of morality.

    The universe is a dynamic place - life requires cycles of birth/rebirth in order to exist. Without death life here would be nothing more than a stagnant soup of cells that has continued unchanged for 4 billion years on earth. With death comes the allowance for change - for growth.

    The dynamics that life is built upon can be judged in different ways - Kalahari bushmen would think nothing of spearing and skinning a lizard to eat. To them it is necessary sustanence in a harsh environment. However, some Brits would be horrified and call it "cruel". Which is the morally superior view of nature?

    What I'm trying to say is that you simply cannot make moral judgements about life, because they are simply inapplicable - not least because morality itself is a cultural phenomenon and has no objective basis of reality.

    And death itself - ah, the great king of fear! Death is nothing more than change - if there's any truth in spiritual principles then death is simply a return to the Source - to the bosom of all love itself, manifest on a magnificent scale beyond comprehension - or else simply a return to reality. In short, death is not to be feared.

    As for suffering - which is worse: a universe where suffering has real and potential expression; or a world where a minority of human beings demand that others experience suffering for the minority benefit? Often humanity both seeks to defeat suffering, yet elsewhere seeks to promote it because it is financially rewarding. Are we to blame God for these actions, or blame our fellow human beings for not attending to injustices when they are so easily remedied?

    Alas - I am not able to make a succinct and coherent argument here. Perhaps I should quote some writing of my own - in small portions - where I have tried to explain the matter better?

    To finish this post - that there is suffering in the world I do not accept as an argument against the existence of God, so much as an illustration of the limits of reasoning of the questor.

    (Not intended as an insult - to care is a sign of compassion - but perhaps misguided in this instance?)
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    45
    Namaste,

    here i am thinking that if one believes in a deity, there are no obvious arguments (to them) of the non-existence of said deity.

    perhaps i'm missing the question here?
     
  5. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    whether it was intended not to be an insult or not, brian, it is a very insulting thing to say to someone...if you weren't limited in the way you reason, you would be able to see it clearly like brian does?

    it is a considerable amount of contemplation and reasoning which returns me to the original post. i notice everyone tends to answer human-centrically, as if we were here since the first single celled organism decided to dine on its neighbor. pain and suffering, existing perhaps for billions of years, in countless experiences, exposes a not so nice deity...which of course might be the case. but to say that any conscious being would allow such a billions of year stretch so that humans could come along and learn from it seems arrogant in the least.

    it isn't death that the question was reflecting...death after all is the remedy to pain & suffering. the question was raised to see if it were possible to go beyond the usual human-centric viewpoint of material forms to see the direction evolution may be headed. i don't personally believe in a deity behind form, but i do think evolution of consciousness (passive & active principles forming an occilation of relationship from natural phenomena) has likely created pain & suffering, as an effect of the awakening process.

    when dealing in conjecture (which we all are after all) , judging someone's reasoning ability is folly since the 10 year old girl down the street may be the one holding the closest view of ultimate reality.

    dcv-
     
  6. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    Vajradhara


    the question was raised primarily for the agnostics & atheists in the forum...which i assume there are more than a few. it is also a way to dialogue between believers and non-believers their perceptions.

    topics topics topics

    dcv-
     
  7. emong

    emong Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is no God 'cause you're suffering?!?? The suffering is what WE are supposed to eliviate, NOT God. WE have caused it, not Him!
    That we are concerned about the human suffering that WE have caused, is PROOF there is a God. Not the contrary. If we were unconcerned, THAT might be your argument that there is no God. But we are!

    On another note:
    Why do atheists attempt to debunk the believers? Do we pose some sort of threat? Either you believe, or you don't. And there is nothing wrong with either. Is there an atheist mandate to get our heads out of the clouds? Do you receive points if you get someone to say "Oh my gosh, you're right, there is no God. How could I have been so misled?"
     
  8. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    45
    Namaste dcv,

    hmm... ok... perhaps i'm just terribly confused. you said this, in the OP:

    "what are other obvious arguments against the existence of a deity that you ascribe to?"

    which is a non-sensical question. if one ascribed to a deity belief, they would not have other, obvious arguments that their deity belief was not correct. they would not have any argument, let alone "other" arguments against the existence of their deity.

    in a very general way, i can be considered agnostic, however, that should be clearly understood through the paradigm of my spiritual tradition.

    after re-reading the thread, i seem to get from it that an argument is being made along the lines of "since suffering and pain exists, there is no God." is that correct?

    if so, that would not be a correct assessment of the situation, at least from my point of view. i'll leave aside, as much as possible, my own religious views on this issue and just deal with the logic.

    it does not follow that suffering/pain = no God. it may, perhaps, establish some criteria for God.. such as non-interference or the like, though i do not believe that it can be extended much futher and still be supportable.

    pain and suffering are the flip side of bliss and contentment, however, you cannot have one without the other as the essential definition, the information of the event, is lost without a frame of reference.
     
  9. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    emong, i'm not sure how many ways i can repeat the same thing over and over unless i learn some other languages. how have we created pain & suffering if it pre-existed humanity by billions of years? if there were a deity, which i have no proof either way, it set something in motion that included an unfathomable amount of horrific suffering and pain throughout matters existence as sentient form...that is the crux of my observations regarding this deity. the observation should manifest discussion as to omniscience, omnipotence, etc.

    our concern does not presuppose a deity. it does reflect awareness however beyond our sense of self preservation. it does reflect a species that has evolved past an animal state in some regards. it may reflect a deity, but it does not prove one. our species evolution, off of the heals of mammalian characteristics of family and herd, seems a bit more evidencial as a unidirectional expansion of consciousness.
    i would hope by now that anyone who has read my writings and responses would know i am not interested in debunking anyone. i am far less interested in what a person thinks than how they think. the very fact that billions of years of suffering not at the hands of humanity, pre-exists us, and is contemporary to us, led me to question the dusty dogma of religious doctrine regarding the very existence of pain & suffering...i am sharing my contemplation with others, who i expect not to be threatened by it, just as i am not threatened by their perceptions. we have a dialogue to see what others have observed in order to expand our limited experiences.

    i think the "atheist mandate" you see has little to do with altruistic efforts to "save" others, and has a lot to do with defending their sense of control over their environment and ideas...so that their reality can become somewhat stableized (sp?). i think it is the same for any ontological system be it religious or non-religious.


    i would hope in this forum that i have found so engaging that folks here haven't lost their sense of exploration in exchange, for the defence of intellectual & emotional turf. that is not my idea of evolution, or finding value in other's experiences. i don't think folks realize just how much i do respect their beliefs. if i have come across in a disrespectful manner, you have my naked and shameful apology.

    dcv-
     
  10. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    Vajradhara,

    the question was not directed to a believer, but to the non-believers who i assume do as a minority populate this forum. the responses however are an opening for the believers to have a discussion. isn't this clear?


    the contemplation is that there is likely not a conscious creator based upon the existence of pain and suffering over billions of years by all sentient forms. there may likely be a deity, but a conscious deity that set this bloodlust orgy into motion is unacceptable in my view only, and was offered as a topic for dicussion to be inclusive of other's views too.


    yes, thank you...my point exactly.


    this is exactly what my contemplations over the past several months have been about. is the duality the cause, or is it an effect of evolution of awareness? is there a deity behind the duality, or it is a natural and inherent manifestation of sentient life? evolution has, whether by design or not, led us to experiencially know (for some) that consciousness exists beyond the physical body's demise...that the body is but a vehicle for consciousness, and not consciousness itself.

    from this, a being would come to know that physical reality is becoming obsolete, as it is a vehicle for consciousness. this would mean it would eventually not be limited by a preset form that it was incarnated into (death & birth), but that it could create consciously whatever form best suited its needs, and thus be able to embrace its immortal true state of being. this is of course all speculation on my part, but is also as likely as all other speculation, and based upon several years in the least of exploration into phenomena and original contemplative thought...and for me anyways, a fascinating area for contemplation of the potential direction that evolution may be taking.

    dcv-
     
  11. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    10
    Apologies - this was not my intention. It is merely the limitations of the medium we are communicating in that you could not read my light tone.

    On the one hand, it is nothing more than a reverse of the exact same postulation you made - you cannot understand why people hold a certain view, essentially because it seems illogical.

    On the other hand, it is a very real issue - that people who make moral judgements of how the mechanics of the universe are run I feel have completely misunderstood a very real and essential part of the mechanics.

    A big problem with the question, as posed by Agnostics and Atheists (and I remember vehemently posing it myself) is that it almost inevitably presumes a very mainstream Christian view of reality - that there is a loving God who cares for every little thing and wishes no harm on anything.

    And, of course, mainstream Christianity answers the question with reference to Hashatan - the opposer of God that we call the Devil.

    But what Agnostics and Atheists do is strip Satan from the equation, which renders the necessary mainstream Christian answer to that questions nonsensical. That renders the question nonsensical as well.

    My recommendation is to step away from the Christian-centric view if you are going to seriously try and answer that question in a non-Christian manner.

    That is not intended to sound insulting - but living in a Christian-centric Western culture often trying to view reality in a non-Christian-centric manner can be a suprisingly difficult thing to do. IMO, that is why you cannot understand what you ask - because you are still asking with the Christian view of reality and God in mind.
     
  12. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    Brian,

    actually, i knew better than to think that you would suddenly take a 180 degree turn to become insulting to anyone...just wanted you to know it could easily be perceived as such in the way it was stated.


    this is an assumption that i am unable to understand why someone holds the "belief" view that they do. i understand fully well why they do, from eastern to western perspectives...i was trying to introduce yet another speculative view, which has been met with assumptions of my motives &/or ability to reason.


    the original question was posed not from any western perspective, but from the idea of whether the deity is a conscious deity, or not. it has very little to do whether it is a loving deity. i was aiming for logical and not emotional.


    i have no doubt that this is true of anyone debating the sky god version of a deity. my dialogue begins with the idea of whether a conscious deity would have set the blood & life fluid orgy of the past billions of years into motion. the endgame is to figure out whether logically (and deity level being may have little logic involved admittedly) a conscious (as in aware creator) would have done it in a "the ends justify the means" kind of motivation, or whether it was an unconscious creation (even fallible perhaps). if it most reasonably appeared to be an unconscious creation, then it also begs the contemplation if natural phenomena and principles are being labelled as "God". if this were the case, then the title could perhaps be obsolete in favor of something more evolutionary. the duality present (God & Satan) is integral to the whole discussion, although the terminology would not be my language of choice.


    i don't see anything even slightly resembling a christian-centric view. you must have me confused with an atheist :cool:...(that was funny). i am not your run of the mill atheist...i am even beginning to loathe the label itself, but am not sure what to call myself. what does a person who does not believe in a deity, but likewise does not subscribe to the atheist's present day infatuation with christianity do?

    Brian, do i come across as so daft that i cannot understand what i ask? i am contemplating from a space right up the middle between eastern & western perspectives. is it perhaps yourself that has the fixation with christianity? i asked in the original post from a place of absolute neutrality as to whether which particular dusty discipline the responses were to come from. again, does the suffering & pain of billion of years reflect the possibility of a conscious creator? the person responding would flavor their answer depending on their perceptions. i cannot see a conscious creator setting the evolution that our 3 dimensions have experienced...but i am able to entertain an unconscious creator, as well as an evolving unconscious creator within creation. the opposite duality (the satan side as you have labelled it) in my perception appears to be an effect, and not a cause of creation.

    dcv-
     
  13. emong

    emong Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh! :) I see now ....I can also entertain the notion of an unconscious creator......so let's get this whole "atheist" label off you. You do not fit the term comfortably...as you said. My hackles rise at the mention of the word....so PLEASE, call yourself something else....or better yet, don't label yourself at all! :)
    Since you are taking an evolutionary approach to an unconscious creator,
    I'm not sure "suffering" can be applied until man arrived....since it's man that defines what suffering is.
     
  14. okieinexile

    okieinexile Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2003
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    0
    First a minuscule point. Pain is not evidence against God. Without pain I would burn my foot off in the campfire.

    Suffering, being interpreted as prolonged, unquenchable pain without purpose, then is the argument. One counter-argument might be that it is perhaps impossible to design a universe with free will in which such situations can be avoided. The question then would be, "Is the price of existence really worth it?" As a Christian, I say, "Yes, and those innocents who suffer share their suffering with Jesus Christ."

    There are those who bear more of a burden than the rest of us. That is reality whatever the truth about the existence of God. Without God, the suffering remains without the balm in Gilead.
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    45
    namaste,

    thank you for the post

    oh... i wasn't entirely clear on that :) it's clear now though ;)


    are you famaliar with the Blind Clockwinder? this is, it would seem, a position that you are converstant with as it would essentially posit a deity that created and set things in motion and then just left it alone to run as it will.

    i'm not sure if this would qualify as an "unconcious" deity... though it would qualify as one that didn't interfere in the universe.


    it "inter-is" the cause is present in the effect and the effect is present in the cause. from the Madyamika point of view, we'd say that "this is because that is and that is because this is." things 'inter-are' and are not able to be defined as discrete objects.

    modern physics is also coming to this conclusion... H.P. Stapp says it like this:

    an elementary particle is not an indepedently existing, unanalyzble entity. It is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach outward to other things.

    Robert Oppenheimer says it like this:

    If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say "no"; if we ask whether the electrons position changes with time, we must say "no"; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say "no"; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say "no".

    one of the Madyamika founders (Nagarjuna) would say it like this:

    Things derive their being and nature by mutal dependence and are nothing in themselves.

    hmm... well... that is the case for it now, at least from our point of view. :) it is not limited to this lifespan nor is it limited to this physical form in any real sense. our habits and conditioned nature impute the self and project it as a ontological truth into reality. this is not the case, from our perspective. there is nothing that can be identified as an independently existing, permenant self.

    in our tradition Bodhisattvas are perfections of aspects of Enlightenment and as such, they can choose a rebirth for themselves in which ever form is most appropriate to their mission. it may be a human or a bird or an insect... in our tradition this is commonly known as "skillful means" and it is what allows them to address a teaching to a people in a manner in which the audience can grasp what is being communicated. remember... in Buddhism we draw little to no distinction between humans and other sentient beings. all are equal in wanting happiness and not wanting to suffer.
     
  16. Clive Staples

    Clive Staples Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    A few things, if I can remember them all.

    1. Even with the reason that has been endowed by us by this conscious creator, in this example, it is 99% likely that we could never possibly comprehend what the creator intended to do and why he intended to do it. So, in this unlabeled non-Christian "generic" argument, searching for a reason of why the creator touched the snowball of suffering down the mountain of creation is virtually a futile endeavor. To cross-reference this idea, see Job.

    2. A much clearer definition of "suffering" is necessary for this argument. You speak of suffering that has been going on for millions of years; I think of suffering as only perceivable by self-conscious beings. Of course, dinosaurs were eaten by other dinosaurs, and mastodons froze, and trees died...but in my mind, if un-self-conscious beings do in fact suffer (which is in itself debatable), they suffer on a profoundly less substantial level than humans do.

    3. This third point is a bit iffy...more of a question. Do you think it's reasonable for at least the illustrative quality of the argument to dream up some other existence that doesn't have suffering? I, personally, am at a loss for imagining a word barren of suffering.
     
  17. littlemissattitude

    littlemissattitude Creative Thinker

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    0
    If there is a deity or deities (and I tend to believe there is, which may disqualify me from this discussion, as I seem to recall it being said that this thread was generally for athiests and agnostics. I step in where I probably shouldn't tread, anyway. Bad habit of mine.:))...

    If there is a deity or deities, I think the greatest favor he/she/it/they have done for us mortals is to put us in a situation where there really is no objective way to prove conclusively that he/she/it/they exist/s. This attitude comes from my belief that finding God/the gods is not the point of the whole exercise - what is the point, is the journey we each take on the way to the discovery. The things we learn - about ourselves, about others, about the world and the universe that surround us - are just as important as coming to know deity, or not.

    Now, I am not saying that it is impossible for an individual to come to a personal and subjective understanding that deity/deities exist, or that they do not. I am just saying that, as things stand, that understanding is necessarily personal and subjective, and that one person's understanding - either way, that there is a God or gods or that there is not - should not be imposed on anyone else. I'm really uncomfortable with the attitude that belief (on non-belief) in a God or gods makes an individual inherently kinder, better, or smarter (not that I'm saying that has been going on in this thread; however, I have seen it happen in the course of other such discussions). Disucssions/arguments over the possibilities are interesting, but in and of themselves never really prove anything and should not become contentious. One individual's proof might well mean nothing to another individual.

    For example, I am fond of saying that the existence of strawberries, oranges, beautiful sunsets, and really good books are proofs of God's existence. That's fine for me, but do not and should not have anything to do with another's analysis of the question.
     
  18. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    emong,

    i would state that it is nerve endings that define suffering and/or pain. there seems ample evidence that pain and suffering are a universal of all sentient forms that have a nervous system.

    dcv-
     
  19. pseudonymous

    pseudonymous Obtuse Kineticist

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    0
    clive,

    welcome to the discussion and community if i hadn't already. i am a newbie myself.

    i think that the whole idea of a world without suffering is very likely in my concept that evolution is finding the physical body obsolete. if consciousness were awakening in the physical realm and believed itself to be the body - as most lesser evolved species would likely think - then arrived at a knowing that the "what" (witness) that it was was not the vehicle it was housed in, and that it could survive physical death (enter mediumship and clairsentience etc) then it would be able to do a simple equation:

    the physical body is the vehicle that has me suffering and in pain because of its nervous system and appetites

    the physical body is not what i am, but is what leads me to be who i am

    the discarding of a preset form as dictated by physical evolution is obsolete should evolution enter a way to house my consciousness in a conscious way. one body, not base physical requiring consumption and the birth/death cycle. it would mean i could continue to evolve without forgetting what i was each death/birth cycle. there would be no need for a physical birth/death cycle, although the spiritual concept of birth/death would likely still be applicable.

    i think the problem most see is that there has to be a duality for consciousness to evolve. in my case, i have found that central place between the active & passive principles affords me neither distraction - high or lows - but what is presently necessary to take a step forward.

    the tides have only been necessary because we have identification with a masculine and feminine duality...in balance, there are no tides...only progression in a natural flow rather that jumps and stops.

    dcv-
     
  20. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    10
    LOL! to pseudonymous - I think I'm just parroting an argument I made against myself some years ago. Thank goodness others are able to make much more perceptive comments. :)
     

Share This Page