Arguments for a possibly deist god

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Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Sat May 04, 2013 7:53 am

Sorry if this has been addressed before, and I haven't checked to see if it's in the wiki yet - I'm new here.

When one makes an argument for a first-cause god or other similar idiocy, including cosmological arguments, ontological arguments, and so on, I invariably see it bogged down into the pedantic details of the useless discussion. While I don't bring all of the (partly wrong) baggage of the logical positivists, I do agree on their point that if you posit a factual claim about our shared reality, about things with material causal power, and you do not have a way to test it, even in principle, then you have a useless statement. I'd say it's not even a meaningful statement - it's just a circular recursion, a claim defined in terms of itself, vacuous.

It can be amusing to argue about such things, because they are wrong in their claims - they are unsubstantiated or invalid. However, I find that it's just a red herring, a diversion from the real points of contention and the things that both sides care about. While I'm sure such people exist, as rare as they are, I have never met someone who makes arguments for a first-cause god and believes only in a deist god. Instead, they think it's some sort of useful stepping stone to their claim that Jesus is magic. The proper replies to such arguments is "Ok. I grant your first-cause god argument for the sake of argument. So what?"

I've tried this a couple times, and the replies were disheartening. Even from some apparently well trained scientists, their knowledge of basic statistics goes right out the window in this discussion. The problem is that the space of gods - interfering and deist - is so amazingly huge and vast, and the subset that match the description of the god in the Bible is amazingly small in comparison. The argument I've made thus far is that the christian god must interfere on Earth, but it's unspecified if he interferes on Rigel 7. Now, there's also another god hypothesis for the god of Rigel 7, who performs miracles there, who created a bizarrely shaped alien race there in its image, and who does not interfere on Earth. He creatures the creatures of Rigel 7 specially. They are his favored creatures, and we're just some cosmic accident to the god of Rigel 7. This is just like how the christian god made us special, and the aliens of Rigel 7 (if any) are just some cosmic accident. Here we are, two god hypotheses, and barring other evidence both "equally probable". Now multiply the god of Rigel 7 by the number of stars in the observable universe. Oh - there's not a planet there? No problem. The god hypothesis can include the god creating a planet there. Oh - there's no life on the planet, because abiogenesis may be incredibly rare? Again no problem. The god hypothesis can include the god creating life there. And that's just a small start. I'm keeping it simple.

We're talking about a sample space of gods that includes at least one for every star in the observable universe, and that's a lot of stars. The christian god hypothesis is just one of those stars. While not literally infinite, the differences in sizes make it about the same in terms of probability. To the theist: Go ahead, show that there's a first cause god. Go ahead, show there's even a god that regularly does miracles somewhere in the universe. You haven't even demonstrated that the miracles occur in the observable universe, so what in the hell does your argument about first cause gods that have to do with your christian god claims?

I'm also found of using Sagan's garage dragon essay as the quintessential description of the skeptic atheist position. (Which is funny because Sagan didn't like to be called an atheist.) Some theists hit back on my argument by saying that if they show that there is a fire breathing dragon somewhere on Earth, then they've gotten a lot closer to showing that there is one in my garage. However, the problem is the looseness of the word "dragon", err I mean "god". If you come to me, and say that you have demonstrated the existence of something which may be an invisible, intangible, heatless dragon somewhere out there in the observable universe, in practice this gets you absolutely no closer to convincing me that I should expect to see anything different than the "no garage dragon" hypothesis. And that's the key, seeing something different. Coming full circle, this is what I was talking about with the logical positivists. To the theists: if you want to claim there's a god which cannot be seen (or heard, etc.), then what the hell are you talking about? I don't even know what that means, and how the hell do you even know if it exists?

PS: Asshat

It feels good to be a place where I can use language "liberally".
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby dobbie » Sat May 04, 2013 5:41 pm

Yes, if there's a first cause God--so what? Yes, that's a good position, it's one way of looking at it, because unanswered questions remain.

How does a God exist eternally? is my question.
What is the God made of?

Further, how come the God has so much power?--according to believers, the God has a whole lot of power. Moreover, how come the God doesn't "snap his fingers" and make everything all right?

And why is there no good evidence for the existence of the God? There's just the human statement that a first cause has to exist, so that cause is God--a largely undefined God.

Okay, so a mostly undefined God is the first cause--but where does that get us? That is to say, what do we do with it, where do we go from there?
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Sat May 04, 2013 10:54 pm

It's basic Pascal's Wager. They don't want to convince you that a nebulous god exists. They want to convince you that the christian god exists, and that you should worship in its name.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby dobbie » Sun May 05, 2013 12:07 am

Enlighten wrote: It's basic Pascal's Wager. They don't want to convince you that a nebulous god exists. They want to convince you that the christian god exists, and that you should worship in its name.

Well, I already know that. Each time a Christian claims a first-cause God, of course the Christian has the Bible God in mind. Ask which God the Christian has in mind as first cause, the Christian might starts out by saying "any God."

Later, the Christian says it's the Bible God! Not any God or Gods. Thus the Christian really hasn't any interest in the first cause argument--or any other argument for the existence of a God--not unless the Christian directs the discussion toward the Bible God, the Christian God.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Sun May 05, 2013 6:44 am

I just want to emphasize just how completely useless first cause god arguments are (and ontological, etc.), if you goal is to go for the christian god or some other particular god. I don't think most people who advance the argument even realize it, because they're so blinded by the logic of Pascal's Wager. They think that good evidence for a first cause god is of course evidence for the christian god, and I say no. Arguing for the existence of a possibly intangible, invisible, heatless "dragon" somewhere on the other side of the universe has absolutely no bearing on whether there is an actual dragon in my garage.

Think I could try a better writeup and post this on the wiki? And how does one get access to the wiki anyway? I'd assume there are more hoops to jump through. Loveable hoops though.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby dobbie » Sun May 05, 2013 7:59 pm

Enlighten wrote: They think that good evidence for a first cause god is of course evidence for the christian god, and I say no.

Comments: I think that, in this instance, a good example of what you're talking about is William Lane Craig and his first cause argument. After he insists that the universe has a cause, he insists that God did it.

Well, the scientific model today agrees that the known universe had a cause (a start). So WL Craig only leaves me to wonder what he's talking about and why.

Then he says that cause was a God.

Oh? I ask. It wasn't an unknown quantum sea or something else?

From there, he arrives at the proverbial statement that it was the Christian God. It's quite a leap of logic, but he doesn't mind taking the leap.

And then he tells us--he doesn't ask us--that his argument is reasonable and logical. "My argument is plausible," he'll say.

But I ask, is his conclusion a belief or is it knowledge? And I say it's the former--belief. Further, I suspect that he doesn't give a hoot or a holler for the first cause argument (the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God), if he can't claim that it points to his God. I say that the Cosmological Argument doesn't point to his God or to anything else in particular as a first cause--but WL Craig says that it does! He simply says it. He says that he believes that the first cause God has the qualities of the--you guessed it--Christian God.

Thus, I say his conclusion is a belief, not knowledge. And you can bet that he'll get around to Pascal's Wager, too! Thus All Christian arguments about first cause lead to the same three things. One) The Bible God did it. Two) The Bible says it--I believe it--that settles it. And three) Pascal's Wager!

They should just skip the mental gymnastics of the first cause argument and go straight to their three things stated above. It'd spare us a strange argument and save lots of time.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Sun May 05, 2013 9:28 pm

@dobbie
Well, the scientific model today agrees that the known universe had a cause (a start). So WL Craig only leaves me to wonder what he's talking about and why.

I'd be very careful with that phrasing around Craig's people. It is true that the big bang model is almost certainly correct for a great many details. It is true that our local big bang universe, our local timespace with the properties that we know, had a beginning around 13.7 billion years ago. However, as I try to explain to those people, this is not the same thing as saying there is a first time, which is really what's needed for Craig's cosmological argument. Maybe there was a first time. Maybe there wasn't. Big bang theory is silent on the issue.

To emphasize a point, I didn't say that Craig will later invoke Pascal's Wager, but he does with his cosmological argument, or at least that's how it's frequently presented. The argument they present goes like this: "Well, we've proved that there is something other than physics. We're going to call it god. This is very good evidence for the christian god." Ok, while not literally Pascal's Wager, it makes the same fundamental mistake. (One of the same fundamental mistakes at any rate.) It makes the mistake that the christian god is somehow more likely or more plausible than the nigh infinite other god hypotheses, like the god of Rigel 7. That's why the cosmological argument, the ontological argument, and any other argument for merely "some god" are entirely irrelevant. They're irrelevant for the same reason as one of of the reasons why Pascal's Wager is bad.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby dobbie » Mon May 06, 2013 12:42 am

Enlighten wrote: It makes the mistake that the christian god is somehow more likely or more plausible than the nigh infinite other god hypotheses, like the god of Rigel 7.

What say that, for a minute, I take the Christian perspective--from what I know of it. On behalf of Christianity, then, I'll say that God has a master plan for Earth but not for Rigel 7. Christians can use this kind of argument for a way out of the question, "What about intelligent life on Rigel 7? Aren't they save, too?"

So, they can say that just because God creates intelligent life forms, it doesn't mean that God wishes to save them all. Even according to the New Testament, most humans won't be saved! "Many are called but few are chosen to enter the kingdom."

A preacher on YouTube said that most Christians won't be saved, either! He said that most have failed to follow Jesus Christ's commands in order to enter the kingdom!

Thus the Christian can say that many won't be saved, whether or not they've heard the Gospel's message. And so, the Christian can say further, that the unsaved many could include the nice alien folks inhabiting Rigel 7.

Do you think a Christian might advance this form of argument? Well, I think the Christian would use it to say that salvation is only for Earthlings. Either that argument, or one which says that only on Earth does intelligent (human-like life) exist in the cosmos, anyway. Thus the Christian can find a way to rule out the hypothetical Rigel 7 guys.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Mon May 06, 2013 6:50 am

@dobbie
I'm very lost. I think you misunderstood me. I don't think you're addressing my points. I brought up the Rigel 7 god as a god that is just as plausible and likely as the christian god of Earth. Thus, if you demonstrate there is some god, somewhere, that maybe interacts, then you've advanced the Rigel 7 god as much as you have the christian god, and because there are so many many many different incompatible god hypotheses, at least one for each planet, then the amount you have advanced every god is miniscule.

For example:
So, they can say that just because God creates intelligent life forms, it doesn't mean that God wishes to save them all. Even according to the New Testament, most humans won't be saved.
This supports my argument. It would be troublesome if they tried to argue that the christian god is one who saves all life in the universe. (Still easily gotten around, but I would need a new example.)
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby dobbie » Mon May 06, 2013 5:08 pm

Enlighten wrote: I don't think you're addressing my points. I brought up the Rigel 7 god as a god that is just as plausible and likely as the christian god of Earth.
I know that. But since the matter addresses Christian faith, Christianity doesn't allow that there's another God. Thus Christians won't say there can be a Rigel 7 God. They won't find it plausible that there's a Rigel 7 God. They'll say there's only one God, theirs. So, they won't be very interested in the argument.

To reiterate, the Rigel 7 God scenario won't work with Christians, because they'll say there's only one God.

And if somebody asks what the Christian God has in mind for Rigel 7, the Christian can say, "Nothing."

Thus, if you demonstrate there is some god, somewhere, that maybe interacts, then you've advanced the Rigel 7 god as much as you have the christian god.
Okay, but how would anybody go about demonstrating that there's a god somewhere that interacts in the affairs of Rigel 7?

Imagine bringiing the argument to a Christian apologist, such as WL Craig (whom we know and love, ha). He is, the way I see, likely to say, "There's just one God. And as far as we know, God may have no salvation plans for those folks on Rigel 7." I wonder if a Christian apologist will say anything else.

Have I still missed your points altogether? That is, if I misunderstood and the matter doesn't address Christian faith, what is it addressing?
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby Lausten » Mon May 06, 2013 5:39 pm

EL wrote:Think I could try a better writeup and post this on the wiki? And how does one get access to the wiki anyway? I'd assume there are more hoops to jump through. Loveable hoops though.

Go to the "Main Page" and scroll to the bottom for answers to your questions. There was some spamming going on, so you can't post instantly, you have to wait a day or so for your registration to become official, but generally Kazim is very helpful.

There is an extensive page on the cosmological argument, so I think that's covered, feel free to disagree. Looking forward to seeing your input.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Mon May 06, 2013 8:41 pm

@dobbie
If they're willing to assume that the christian god is the only plausible god, and the god of Rigel 7 is not plausible, then I would ask them how they know this. If it's on faith, then the rational conversation is over. (Persuasion remains a possibility.) If the theist's goal is to prove a christian god without assuming it, then this is a move they cannot do.

The only other move I can foresee is if they had evidence that there are no aliens on Rigel 7, and evidence that there is no god who regularly does miracles there.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby sepia » Mon May 06, 2013 9:00 pm

Which possibility do you want?

Epistemic Possibility depends merely on our unability to debunk it. In this sense a deistic god is considered possible by many atheists (some claim to have evidence against it) and we could always claim, that an unknown alternative to god is possible in the same way. This is actually a possibility theist often want to argue with but due the possibility of unknown alternatives it is at best an argument for agnisticism.

Metaphysical Possibility depends on the logical coherence and is challenged by supposed paradoxes and by the lack of explanation, what enables god's mind to exist. The unability of theists to prove god's metaphysical possibility is by the way a good counterargument to any ontological argument: Defining god as existing might make god by definition impossible.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby NearlySane » Tue May 07, 2013 1:40 pm

What you're boiling down to is "What makes the existence of the Christian God more probable than the existence of any other possible God, based on the first-cause argument alone"? There simply is no answer to this, as probability is void here. This is what happens when something is posited without any constraints and/or exists outside of nature. I mean what is it that a God can't do?

As you say, the term is meaningless and non-cognitivism is the only conclusion that can be reached until such a method is proposed for falsifying God claims (a method which, unfortunately for the theist, will be presented via naturalistic means and therefore won't escape being contaminated by it).

Just to add as a side - the first-cause argument is a festering turd of an argument if used for a God with a reason for the universe, as the reason would cause the God to cause the universe. That's most mainstream theology up the swanny then.
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Re: Arguments for a possibly deist god

Postby Lausten » Tue May 07, 2013 5:57 pm

Nearly Sane wrote:There simply is no answer to this

I vaguely remember WL Craig combining first cause with the morality argument and then he piled on some historical evidence. I think it was in his debate with Harris. It went sort of, well, there must be a god because I can't understand all that physics stuff and if something is infinite or has always been there then it must also be intelligent because, well just because.

So, here we are and we can think, which means something must have told us what to think because if we just came from rocks then we'd be no smarter than rocks or at least we couldn't have any rational reason to claim that we are. And out of all the religions in the world, Christianity is doing much better, it's the one that is in charge of the "good" countries, not those nasty communist ones, and we got the 10 commandments and the golden rule and that's working out, so we must have come from the original first cause, see?

And the Bible says so.
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