Author Topic: Do Gods exist?  (Read 5220 times)

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Offline Kobuk

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Do Gods exist?
« on: September 06, 2012, 09:44:22 am »
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This topic isn't just about one God, but rather to ask the following: Do Gods or godlike beings/entities exist? If so, Who are they? What are they? Where did they come from? Why do we have and worship them? What purpose do they serve? Do they really have some sort of supreme or unlimited powers? Why are a lot of Gods animals or animal like beings?

For centuries, mankind has worshipped all kinds of Gods and godlike beings.
Egyptian Gods
Mayan Gods
Greek Gods
Norse Gods
Oriental Gods
........etc., etc.

But do such godlike beings, entities, figures, people, or whatever you want to call them, actually exist in some way or some form?
Or are the Gods that humanity has worshipped for centuries just figments of our imagination? Maybe they are just a made up character to give people a "rallying point" (for lack of a better word) to focus on? Or could the Gods that humanity has worshipped over centuries just be regular people that have made an impact in the lives of various cultures through their knowledge/wisdom, fighting skills, generosity, kindness, etc., etc.?
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Offline Yip

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2012, 01:59:57 pm »
In order to answer this question, I think it's important to first understand a few things:

1) When dealing of any claim of existence, we could purpose an infinite number of possible things to exist, many of which are contradictory. Therefore if we care about separating truth from non-truth, we are forced to take a default position of rejecting the claim until there is sufficient evidence to support it. This is the basis for what is commonly called "burden of proof".

2) In order to be able to objectively tell if a claim is true, the claim must be falsifiable. This means it must be possible to construct an experiment such that if the claim is false, the experiment will show it.

3) Something which exists but does not manifest in reality is indistinguishable from something that does not exist. Thus, we can know nothing about it. Therefore any claims made about it's attributes should be rejected.


------

Now, taking the above into consideration with regards to god claims, there have to my knowledge never been any claims of a god or gods that has met it's burden of proof. Therefore, lacking sufficient evidence, I remain in the default position of rejecting such claims.

Further, over time, god claims have gotten more and more unfalsifiable as our ability to test these claims has grown. For example, people used to think that lightning was from a Zeus hurling down bolts. We can now test this claim and find it to be false. The same trend is true for every other claim that has ever been made about a god or gods: they either remain untestable, or have been shown to be false.

We also have a fairly good understanding of how human perception works, and more to the point, how it fails. Therefore, I find it far more likely that god claims came about due to things such as pareidolia than from there being actual gods.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2012, 12:50:20 am by Vararam »

Offline Avan

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2012, 07:06:13 pm »
I actually wrote out a huge snarky spiel filled with formal logic on how the notion of defining 'what a god is' is silly, but I think that this sums it up in fewer and simpler words: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignostic

And you can't have an existence debate without something to debate the existence of. (Kobuk's extremely vague definitions of 'gods' and 'exist' are too vague to be useful. I could prove the existence of gods in the form of literature, ideas, religions and artworks using those if I wanted to (and in fact I did in my old spiel).
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Offline Kobuk

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2012, 07:24:50 pm »
Quote
I could prove the existence of gods in the form of literature, ideas, religions and artworks using those if I wanted to

To prove the existence of a God, I think one would have to have "physical proof". What you mentioned above would not work.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2012, 07:28:14 pm »
No no, that is not what I meant.

Say there is a historical god X.

You definition for existence says that a god exists if it exists in any way shape or form. Well, a picture can count as a 'way' and a 'shape/form'; same for literature, and more.

Basically, I "proved" (Restated rather) the existence of a bunch of ancient artworks and myths. Nothing new there.

I was pointing out the vagueness of your definitions, not that I had anything directly pertinent to prove.

And yes, I know its not in the 'spirit' of the question, but you're going to need to have much more specific definitions if you want to get consistent useful answers out of your questions. Otherwise you'll have people saying 'ASDF' and meaning all sorts of different things.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 07:31:17 pm by Avan »
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2012, 10:51:19 pm »
The question "Do gods exist?" is not falsifiable, and therefore cannot be meaningfully answered, as it is always possible that a god or gods exist who choose not to cause any kind of special influence on our lives (or afterlives), even though they could if they wanted to. Though it's a moot point anyway, since such gods would also not respond in any way to worship or blaspheme, so any religious activity involving such gods would be meaningless.

The question that should really be asked is "Do gods exist who directly influence human behaviour or manipulate the universe in ways inconsistent with the laws of physics, and who use these powers to reward worshippers and punish blasphemers?", and the answer, based on currently available evidence, is no.

Certain specific gods (not mentioning any names) can be proven to not exist by a priori arguments alone. For example, an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent god would, by those respective properties, simultaneously know about evil, be capable of eradicating evil, and desire to eradicate evil; and therefore any universe in which evil exists is, by definition, a universe in which that god does not inhabit. Any argument that such a god allows evil to exist must concede that this god is either ignorant of evil, incapable of eradicating evil, or (worst of all from a moral standpoint) is malevolent and actually wants evil to exist.
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Offline Avor

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2012, 06:25:13 am »
Had  to edit it, I had stoke half way through.

When asked, do god/gods exist,, the best the answer I give is "It diesn't matter, becahse if there is a god, he doesn't speak or act. For all that the world is, we only have ourselves"

Just to note, the problem with debating the existane of god is that people pick a side like they have to, and defend it, stating "If you can't prove me wrong, then I'm right.". The only true way to reach a conclusion is with objectivity and reason, and if people did that they would all get the same anser, "I don't know".

« Last Edit: September 09, 2012, 04:42:09 am by Avor »

Offline Kobuk

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2012, 08:11:19 am »
"Ray, When someone asks if you are a God, you say....YES!


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Offline McMajik

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2012, 05:08:22 pm »
Ooh, you're just itching for controversy lately, aren't you ;D



As far as I am concerned, unless it can be proven that there is something, the most logical assumption/likely situation is that there is nothing. I have seen no evidence that there is something, so I think there is nothing.

Offline Avor

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 04:24:02 am »
if there is a god, he doesn't speak or act.

Should have found this sooner.


Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

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Offline Blackrose13

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 10:07:47 pm »
As far as I am concerned, unless it can be proven that there is something, the most logical assumption/likely situation is that there is nothing. I have seen no evidence that there is something, so I think there is nothing.
Contariwise, unless it can be proven that there is nothing, it is equally logical to assume that there is something. I honestly dont understand how our universe could be formed without a higher power. I beleive that all the different gods, have existed, perhaps as one pantheon, or even one being, who merely changes how it represents itself to us mortals. I dont think that without a higher power, be it zeus, god, satan, gaia, Ra, Amaterasu, or whomever. Even according to the big bang theory, the universe expanded from a pinpoint of superdense matter. Okay, cool...where did the matter come from. So in my opinon, yes, gods/goddesses, exist.
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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 11:06:19 pm »
Contariwise, unless it can be proven that there is nothing, it is equally logical to assume that there is something.
No, it is not logical to assume some thing exists when you have no evidence.  I suppose you also believe in unicorns, fairies, leprechauns and all manner of other things like that. You don't have evidence of their existence either, but you also don't have evidence that they do not exist. Do you see the problem now?

The number of possible things that -could- exist is infinite, but the number of things that actually -do- exist is finite. Plus, for most of the non-existant things, it isn't possible to show that they don't exist. Therefore, the only reliable approach is to reject things until you have sufficient evidence to accept them. Otherwise you'll end up believing in an awful lot of rubbish.

Quote
I honestly dont understand how our universe could be formed without a higher power.  ...  Even according to the big bang theory, the universe expanded from a pinpoint of superdense matter. Okay, cool...where did the matter come from.
Why does this "higher power" get a free pass? The next logical question you should be asking is: "where did this higher power come from?" You haven't gotten yourself anywhere closer to an actual answer for where everything came from. All you've done is provide a pacifier to make yourself feel better about not knowing.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 11:38:15 pm by Vararam »

Offline Blackrose13

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 11:29:02 pm »
Think of it this way, the number of possible things that -could- exist is infinite, but the number of things that actually -do- exist is finite. Therefore the only reliable approach is to reject things until you have sufficient evidence. Otherwise you'll end up believing in an awful lot of rubbish.
Why does this "higher power" get a free pass? The next logical question you should be asking is: "where did this higher power come from?" You haven't gotten yourself anywhere closer to an actual answer for where everything came from. All you've done is provide a pacifier to make yourself feel better about not knowing.
[/quote]
I am not saying that all these beings do exist, but the point is that you cannot PROVE their inexistance. So, there is just as much chance of them existing. And besides, if a being has all the powers we attribute to our deitys, then how can we know that the god/s just dont want us to know they exist. And also, I didnt say that I knew where the being would come from, but there cannot be something from nothing, and therefor SOMETHING must have been here first, and I dont think it was a tiny pinpoint of matter. Think about it. Why would their be space for the universes expansion, if there wasnt already soemthing there?
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Offline Yip

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2013, 12:41:32 am »
I am not saying that all these beings do exist, but the point is that you cannot PROVE their inexistance. So, there is just as much chance of them existing. And besides, if a being has all the powers we attribute to our deitys, then how can we know that the god/s just dont want us to know they exist.
No, there is not just as much chance just because it can't be proven. It can't be proven that there is not an undetectable ninja right behind you ready to destroy you at any moment. You can't prove it's not true because it's undetectable. So does that mean there is an equal likelihood that it is true? Or course not.

Quote
And also, I didnt say that I knew where the being would come from, but there cannot be something from nothing...
There are a couple problems with this. First, how do you know that there cannot be something from nothing? I've heard that things on a quantum level pop in and out of existence all the time. Of course I'm not saying that the universe as a singularity just popped into existence. My point is that you are going on what just intuitively seems right, but don't have any actual backing for that. And therefore that assumption may very well be wrong.

Furthermore, you say you can't accept the possibility that a singularity popped into existence, so how does it make more sense to say that a super powerful being just popped into existence? Thats ludicrous.  And if you claim that it just always existed, then why can the universe have just always existed (just not in it's current form)

BTW, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the big bang. The universe did not expend into empty space from a singularity. The empty space was ALSO from the singularity. I know it may be hard to wrap your head around, so I'll try to use an analogy:  Imagine the 2 dimensional surface of a balloon as it inflates. Every point on the surface of that balloon is getting farther away from every other point. The 2 dimensional surface is expanding, but there is no greater 2 dimensional surface that it's expanding into. The expansion of the universe is kind of like that, only in 3 dimensions. It's quite possible that this expanding is not expending into anything because it's space itself that it expanding.

Similarly, it is entirely possible that time is also another dimension expanding from the big bang. Thus talking about what came before the big bang may be meaningless. You can't talk about "before time" because "before" requires time to exist in order to have meaning.


At any rate, the correct approach when you come to a question you do not have the answer to is: "I don't know".

Offline Mylo

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2013, 01:39:10 am »
At any rate, the correct approach when you come to a question you do not have the answer to is: "I don't know".

This.

It is foolish to believe in something absolutely and it is also foolish to strike down something like a divine being as false and nonexistent. How are we to know that, for example, we are all part of a computer program, and that a "god" made this universe? How are we to know that, for example, this universe has only existed for 150 years and that all the history and science we were taught was a result of the initial conditions of a computer program?

Half of the scares in movies are so-called "cat scares;" before the scare, we are afraid of what the scary music is leading up to, the knock on the door as the main character asks "Who is there?" We have reason to be scared because there is a ghost about, and with any strange thing that happens, the main character (and audience) blames it on the ghost. But when the music gets loud all of the sudden, when the main character opens the door, we discover that it was a cat scare as we see some branch making sounds or a cat scratching at the door. But then, as we watch the main character go fetch the cat or close the door, the audience sees the ghost (unbeknownst to the main character). The point is, 1700's lightning was a cat scare, but that doesn't mean there isn't an actual ghost or a divine being. It just means that we don't know what it could be and instead apply an explanation which is generally understood.

It is foolish to believe in something and act based upon it when there is no physical or understandable proof. It is equally foolish to believe that humans are capable of understanding what is above their universe, or even deciding whether it exists or not; that is simply arrogance. In the second paragraph, I used the term "computer program" to describe what our universe could be. I used that term because that is the closest term I can think of to describe it...much like people of the past would describe natural unknown phenomena with things that they resembled.

Also, using the phrase "Do gods exist?" is misleading as the word "exist" implies that we can know whether they exist or not. It would have been better to use the phrase "Do you believe in god(s)?" as this question asks for an opinion, which is the only way to answer a question with which you cannot know the answer to, aside from "I don't know." But then again, that wouldn't be a debate.

Offline Yip

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 03:37:46 am »
...and it is also foolish to strike down something like a divine being as false and nonexistent.
That depends on the specifics of the divine being in question. If it's defined well enough that it's falsifiable, and if it fails when put to the test, then it's not at all foolish to proclaim it false. However, if it's something left vague and unfalsifiable, whether it exists of not is moot.

Besides, there is an abundance of evidence of people making up crazy ideas to explain what they don't understand. Like thinking that sacrificing someone to the volcano will keep it from erupting. We know enough about how volcanos work now to know that this is bunk. Plus there are tens of thousands of different god concepts throughout human history, and many of them contradict one another. Therefore they can't possibly all be true. Thus at the very least, a great deal of them must be false. And while this doesn't show that they are all wrong, it does demonstrate as I said: that people will make up crazy ideas to explain what they don't understand.  So when someone steps forward with a claim of some divine being, and that person is unable of unwilling to provide the evidence to back up their claim, then it's not unreasonable for others to disregard it.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
― Christopher Hitchens


Quote
Also, using the phrase "Do gods exist?" is misleading as the word "exist" implies that we can know whether they exist or not.
I disagree. We don't need to be able to know things absolutely in order to have a meaningful discussion about it.

Offline Kobuk

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 08:59:34 am »
"The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, It's stranger than we CAN imagine."
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Offline Drake Fireborne

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2013, 04:26:31 pm »
In answer to the original question, I do believe that God exists. To me, it has come in the form of several things I couldn't stock up to coincidence. Perhaps I am wrong, I admit that's a possibility, but I think that God has proven himself enough for me to believe. Do I believe that there is proof that God exists? Well, yes and no, I suppose. Yes, I believe He will prove Himself, but only if someone has made themselves ready to see the proof. Of course, then you might say that you are putting yourself at a point where anything could be proof, whether or not it is. Well, that is often countered by "You also might put aside obvious proof because you don't want to believe."

It could certainly go either way. Again, I found enough proof for myself that /I/ believe without a doubt, but that may not be enough for others. It does bring to mind one story, or, analogy. Lets see if I can do the quote thing right XD

Quote
A man went to a barber shop to have his hair and his beard cut as always. He started to have a good conversation with the barber who attended him. They talked about so many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched the subject of God. The barber said: "Look man, I don't believe that God exists as you say."

"Why do you say that?" asked the client.

"Well, it's so easy, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. Oh, tell me, if God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be no suffering nor pain. I can't think of loving a God who permits all of these things."

The client stopped for a moment thinking, but he didn't want to respond as to cause an argument. The barber finished his job and the client went out of the shop. Just after he left the barber shop he saw a man in the street with a long hair and beard (it seems that it had been a long time since he had his cut and he looked so untidy).

Then the client again entered the barber shop and he said to the barber, "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say they don't exist?" asked the barber. "Well I am here and I am a barber."

"No!" the client exclaimed. "They don't exist because if they did there would be no people with long hair and a beard like that man who walks in the street."

"Ah, barbers do exist, what happens is that people do not come to me."

"Exactly!"- affirmed the client. "That's the point. God does exist, what happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Amen!
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Offline Yip

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2013, 02:08:51 am »
Quote
..."Exactly!"- affirmed the client. "That's the point. God does exist, what happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."
I've heard this before. Stories like this one will not convince anyone that doesn't already believe, all it does it allow those that are already convinced to feel better about themselves. The claim made by this story is easily testable, and it fails. Believers suffer the same afflictions in life as everyone else.

Offline Aakosir

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2013, 09:06:04 am »
Yes. They do exist. They exist in a person's mind. Perhaps not physically, but the Christian god does exist in the minds and hearts of his followers. My gods exist in my mind and heart and in those who also worship the same gods as I do. Allah, in the Muslims'. The people who follow their teachings and pray to them are the ones who have made them exist in cultures. Some have more presence than others, but they all exist in one way or another.

And actually, I personally believe that all gods exist physically, or however you'd like to say it. They are not tangible beings that we can touch. I believe they are astral beings. Spirits. We can see them and they can influence our lives, if they so choose. I think of it just like the Greek and Roman pantheon (and several others like Norse, Egyptian and Incan). There are lesser gods and there are the "supreme beings", although I would not say the Christian god is a supreme being considering his lack of influence or false claims made by people.

All the animals that have gone extinct still exist in our history books and our minds. As long as we still know about them they will not die. I have the same feeling with gods.

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Offline Drake Fireborne

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2013, 03:35:02 pm »
Quote
..."Exactly!"- affirmed the client. "That's the point. God does exist, what happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."
I've heard this before. Stories like this one will not convince anyone that doesn't already believe, all it does it allow those that are already convinced to feel better about themselves. The claim made by this story is easily testable, and it fails. Believers suffer the same afflictions in life as everyone else.

Ah, this does seem to be the case most of the time. Personally, even if not for any of the other 'proof' that's I've received, I'd rather believe and be wrong, then not believe and be right. Perhaps it simply helps my attitude. I may be wrong, but it sometimes seems to me that attitude has a lot of effect on someones happiness. God might just be an excuse to have a better attitude.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2013, 12:32:39 am »
Your goodness should come from who you are. Its not really goodness if you're just doing it because you're told to, out of fear of punishment.
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Offline Jacoby Quinn

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2013, 02:07:55 am »
in my personal beliefs gods do exist.
as a concept.
most of these concepts exist in order for people to justify the unfairness that exists everywhere, our ideas of how life should be, and how people should behave.
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Offline Drake Fireborne

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2013, 01:03:50 am »
Your goodness should come from who you are. Its not really goodness if you're just doing it because you're told to, out of fear of punishment.

Certainly. For me, I don't think it's fear of punishment. It gives me a reason to see the good in everyone. That would be getting a bit more complicated, and might derail the thread a bit,  but suffice to say that if God exists, it gives me reason to believe that everyone can achieve great things. Even without Him, I'd believe this to be true, at this point, at least, but, again, maybe it's just an excuse....
Don't mess in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and go well with chocolate. - source unknown

Offline Acton

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Re: Do Gods exist?
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2013, 05:01:40 pm »
Or to rephrase you question does polytheism (multiple gods exist) or Pantheism and or Animism exist.
My answer as a Christian is no and I do not.

Isaiah 44:6-8 (English Standard Version)


6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
    and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
    besides me there is no god.
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
    Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
    Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”