Do we know God is there and/or there is an afterlife?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
Yes, I believe, and can bring to the table many arguements in favor of my position? But in the end am I sure of my knowledge? Must I concede that I may be wrong?
Can my 'know' simply be on a level, like, "This is as close to know as I can possibly be" or "To know more would mean I am God". Or must it be an objective 'know' for me to claim I know that God exists and there is an afterlife waiting for my soul.
-- Jacob R. (email@example.com), August 19, 2004
-- The Questioner (PlzAnswer@me.com), August 19, 2004.
At the end of knowledge begins faith. Science says we can not objectively know that God exists since God is a subjective experience. We do not kneed to know since full and complete knowledge would leave no room for faith. When we get to the end of knowledge and reason it is our faith that shows the way. Otherwise when we went through desert experiences we would say 'since I no longer feel God, He does not exist'. Faith not knowledge is the key to belief.
-- Anglican Christian (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 20, 2004.
God is an objective reality, not a subjective experience. I'm not going to choose a path for my life based on nothing more than "subjective experience", especially after I see the ruined lives of those who do live that way. But I will take direction from a person who has authority over me. God is the ultimate objective reality, and ignorance of that reality makes our understanding of any other reality less complete. Faith is the means by which we access objective knowledge about the supernatural realm, just as science is the means by which we access objective knowledge about the natural realm. Faith would not be valid unless we could be certain that what "believe" is actually true. God has given us ample evidence of the truth of His teaching. Therefore we know it is true. Therefore we believe it. If we do not know it is true, we do not truly believe it.
-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), August 20, 2004.
"Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
"God has given us ample evidence of the truth."
Paul M, perhaps you could help Jacob by enlightening him on the evidence. I feel you will probably do this better than I would.
-- Kin Juh (email@example.com), August 20, 2004.
Yes there are scroles and stuff that we've found, but in the end it all comes down to, "do you have FAITH that there is a God?" or "do you beleave?", so I'm asking you that question, do you?
-- Jo somebody (Boysfarm@aol.com), September 24, 2004.
Yes, we can come to know with certainty that God exists and that the human soul is immortal but this requires the following: logic and the ability to accept as true what is not perceptual but conceptual. That is to say, the ability to THINK about rather than try to IMAGINE the object of what we're talking about.
The 5 (classic) proofs for the existence of God all hing not on revelation but on the principle of cause/effect: an effect can never be greater than its cause. It is either less than or equal to it, but never greater.
None of the proofs have to do with the Bible or faith per se, they have to do with reason - the mind's ability to know the truth about something.
It also depends on defining terms.
So let's begin. First of all, we have to start with the human soul - as that's what we all know without a doubt to exist as an immaterial constituent or power of our personal existence.
How so? Well, physically we are mammals - we have bodies. Bodies are composed of parts. The brain is an organ composed of parts. But the consciousness and the mind - what you are using to read this email - is NOT made of parts because its effect isn't material (i.e. parts). KNOWING the MEANING of words is conceptual knowledge - you see images on the monitor with your eyes *(percepts) but you READ meanings interiorly, mentally, immaterially.
Now if the effect is immaterial (not material, not spacial) then the cause of this effect can't be the organ called the brain! The brain allows perceptions (5 senses) to be accessible to the mind and allows the mind to have influence on the body, but the brain is not the mind!
Now we know that death is the decay of the body - the breaking down of the unity of the individual body into its parts and the breaking down of these parts into more parts...all is as it should be since the body is material. But the mind as we see from the effect of knowing and language isn't made of parts - so it can't break down. It can't be material at all! So what is it? SPIRITUAL.
Thus we have always implicitly known that our minds were immaterial, spiritual souls without being directly aware of it (analogously like we are aware of the existence of our tongue without being conscious of it - or of blinking or breathing..)
So human beings have souls that allow us to think conceptually - and sicne these souls have no parts, they can't come "apart" - thus, are not kill-able...they are immortal.
But wait, we are generally aware of not existing before our conconception - and indeed, a soul couldn't exist before its body did...so where did the soul come from given the principle of cause and effect whereby the effect is never greater than the cause?
If we are individual, rational, souls which incarnate a body, then whatever created us must also be at least individual, intelligent and spiritual too - and this is how we approach the idea that God can exist - as a necessary conclusion to the known fact that we exist and we are beings with spiritual souls!
I should add that the whole argument above was worked out by the Greeks several centuries before Christ and also is reflected in some lines from the Jewish book of Wisdom.
The Church teaches that by the powers of our own reason the human mind can come to know with certainty the existence of God and the spirituality of the soul - so we have it both on the authority of reason and revelation that we can know such things and in fact, DO know them.
-- Joe (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 2004.
I should add that the whole argument above was worked out by the Greeks several centuries before Christ...
...thereby proving the existence of Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Athena... :)
-- DC (email@example.com), September 24, 2004.
Actually Plato thought their was one God who was creator, the other gods merely shadows within the God of creation, and the Greeks did not atribute their gods to creation, rather they emerged from creation.'
But why study it...your a truth seeker, why let facts getin the way...
-- ZAROVE (ZAROFF3@JUNO.COM), September 24, 2004.
I think Plato has to tip his hat to Zarathustra/Zoroastor who was preaching the idea of monotheism before Plato was able to explain the how evil worked.
Granted--- Zarathustra recognised "Satan" (named later) before anyone. I think he incorrectly regarded him as an "equal" opponant, but correctly as one who would be defeated in the end.
Could it be that God has been involved in "revelation" before "we" as Christians generally--- usually think? I wouldn't put it past God to be speaking to us throughout history. I'm not ready, or armed for any major theological battle about this but --- what do you all think?
-- Jim (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 2004.
I woidl tend to agre, I think God revelaed himself throughout world hisotry to many cultures.
-- ZAROVE (ZAROFF3@JUNO.COM), September 24, 2004.
12:57 AM east coast USA:
Its good to see someone's still up and thinking about all this. I'm happy to see some agreement here.
I think there may be some who disagree. Just getting ready...
-- Jim Furst (email@example.com), September 24, 2004.
I think we may be getting it bit by bit. I will follow the Catholic view because the bits are few and far between.
-- Jim (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 2004.
hahaha, funny thing is, i just finished writing an essay on why no one can make an absolute arguement for the existance of God (although one can make a compelling and succesful arguement). fundamentally, the nature of God is beyond human reason, and that which human reasoning cannot contain, cannot be logically proven in such a way that one must naturally arrive at the conclusion from the premises and know that the premises are true. but it is this very fact which makes God greater than all that is within human experience. anyway, here is the essay:
Many great thinkers throughout the history of man have pondered over the idea of a rational argument for the existence of God. All sorts of theories have been put forth based on a priori arguments such as that of Anselm, to the a posteriori positions like the causality or design arguments. While valid and possibly even sufficient arguments for the existence of God, the question still remains: are these arguments rational in the sense that any logical person should necessarily arrive at the conclusion based on the presuppositions? While many might argue that the existence of God can be known by finite effects or concepts in the physical world based on our understanding, evidence shows that there exists a human inability to understand the philosophical nature of the universe and its characteristics which prevents the establishment of an undeniable argument for God’s existence. This is because of a failure to understand the nature of that which is outside the human experience, an innate inability for the human mind to understand the concept of infinite and nothing, and a weak comprehension of the difference between the how of causality and the fundamental why which lies beyond the grasp of scientific method.
Being creatures of a physical world with constraints placed on us by the character of physical law, we cannot understand that which is drastically outside our realm of experience. For example, while we can synthesize an understanding of a creature which is based on certain components of our prior knowledge, we cannot understand a concept of which we have no prior knowledge. Taking a unicorn as our case, we have knowledge of what a horse is, and we have knowledge of what a horn is. By the description “a horse with a single horn” we can create in our mind a complete image of the object described. However, if someone were to describe a creature such that “it is composed of parts which no one has ever seen or thought of before,” we would have neither the ability to comprehend such a creature, nor to arrive at a common understanding. In the same way, we expand this idea to the concept of the existence of God. If one describes God as infinite, in such a way that God possesses traits which make Him “greater than any thing else which can be conceived” we must realize that these traits are certainly not the characteristics of a pre-existent concept in our minds. This would mean that in order to conceive of a greater God, we must only enlarge the existing concepts in our mind towards an infinite scale (which I will discuss later as beyond the realm of human conception). Thus in order to be a maximum good, God must be composed of certain traits which the human has no preconception of and therefore cannot understand. Without an understanding of the essence of the subject beyond that which is based on our prior knowledge, we cannot make an undeniable argument that those aspects we cannot understand either extend to infinite much less exist.
Furthermore, our realm of human understanding is limited to that which is both finite and quantifiable. That is to say, as humans we lack an understanding of the nature of both the concept of infinity and nothing. To illustrate this point one must look to another example. In this case one considers a bowl filled with sand. After pouring out all of the sand, one would consider that there is nothing in the bowl. However, this is incorrect, as air obviously still exists inside the bowl. So to solve this problem, we consider the bowl to be in outer space, where no air is present. Again, however, we find that the bowl has more than nothing inside of it: the bowl still contains such things as time, width, height, breadth, gravity, and other physical characteristics of the human existence. Removing these things from the example, however, ends the discussion. After all, how can one discuss a bowl which has no dimensions or time? The same applies to the concept of the infinite. Take, for example, a circle. Now try to conceive of that circle as the radius expands to infinite. While we can think of a segment of that circle as the radius goes to infinite (this is the definition of a straight line), we cannot possibly conceive of the total product. Applying this concept to the idea of the argument for God’s existence shows how we cannot synthesize an undefeatable position in favor. That is to say, if we must state that God of necessity exists beyond the realm of the physical universe, this mandates that we must conceive of God as existing in a realm of nothing. This concept, however, is impossible for man to understand or accept. Further, God’s existence is necessarily that of an infinite being. Thus we cannot even understand the nature of God’s existence. So if we must consider a cause for the universe, it is outside our understanding to say that God must have caused it, therefore any other explanation is easily as plausible. For example, if we must admit that there is a beginning to this universe, and we know that something caused the big bang which created the universe, it is as easy to presuppose that a finite cause, such as the collapse of the previous universe, was the cause as it is to suggest that there must have necessarily been an infinite cause.
Finally, one must examine the failure of scientific method to move beyond the how of causality into understanding the fundamental why of existence itself. In this case for understanding, one looks to the simple concept of touch. Scientific method tells us that touch is caused by the contact of two subjects of matter. Thus we say that the how of touch is accomplished by the contact of two substances. This extends then to the proximity of two atoms which repel because of the electromagnetic fields surrounding them. And the how of that system is that the electrons which orbit the nuclei create an electromagnetic field around themselves. One arrives, then, at one final how, which is to say that the electrons have this electromagnetic field because of their nature of being. However, there is no other how behind this scientific observation. Thus one comes to the fundamental why, which is to say why does the nature of existence of an electron cause an electric field to exist? This fundamental why exists behind every system in the human universe, and is utterly beyond the realm of science to answer. As such, there can be no logical position which absolutely determines the cause behind these phenomenons. This can be seen even in the atheistic arguments based on the creation and destruction of quantum particles. That is, if we observe a collection of quantum particles creating themselves from apparent nothing and living for microseconds before destroying themselves, it is beyond the realm of human understanding to discover the fundamental why behind their creation and destruction (although a more principle how may be discovered). Therefore, again, it becomes as easy to argue that any other reason for their existence is as feasible as the argument that God caused them. Even the idea of random creation and destruction is wholly as valid when we discuss that which is beyond the realm of scientific understanding. Applying this principle to the universe, while we can discover the principle how behind its creation, we cannot possibly discover the fundamental why of its cause and therefore we again can as easily argue any other cause as validly as we can argue for creation by God.
Thus one sees that the nature of God is beyond the understanding of the finite mind of man, and as such no undeniable rational argument can be made. In fact, the very nature of God demands that He exists beyond the realm of human understanding, and that inability of man to conceive of the nature of God is what makes religion and the discussion of God so complex and powerful. However, it must be understood that this does not necessitate that God does not exist, nor that a compelling argument cannot be formed. In this manner, God’s existence and religion itself becomes a mystery to be pondered by the: the very essence which makes a rational argument for God impossible lends itself to the divine nature and beauty of God.
-- paul h (dontSendMeMail@notAnAddress.com), September 25, 2004.
Nice post paul,
Also remember what a major achievement the mathmatical understanding of zero was. Aparently we had no previous comprehnesion of it until (within the scope of our time here)---fairly recent history.
-- Jim (email@example.com), September 25, 2004.