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    26 Jul '16 16:33
    There are various arguments that aim to show that God is necessary for [enter here something of high existential importance]. God is requisite, so it goes, for the existence of moral facts, or for value and meaning in life, etc. Others might claim that theistic belief is necessary or otherwise particularly conducive to our living well, or some such. These are not arguments that purport to show the existence of God, per se, but they may be inferentially related to such an aim. For example, if you have reason to think, say, God's existence is necessary for the existence of moral facts; and if you have prior commitments to the existence of moral facts; then, you thereby have some inferential activity that is God-indicating. That aside, though, these arguments are more aimed directly at showing that God's existence, or just belief in God's existence, is somehow of fundamental bearing on existential commitments that we all take seriously.

    Such arguments across the board are bad to the point of insulting the intellect. They have next to nothing to recommend them in terms of logical and evidential assessment. And yet they are trotted out time and time again with feverish passion. I would tend to argue that it is easier to understand the sticktoitiveness behind the proffering of such arguments in reference to escapism from "The Absurd".

    Some of you will be familiar with absurdism as it is referenced to the works of Camus (in particular The Myth of Sisyphus ), the works of Kierkegaard, and similar elements running throughout the works of the Existentialists, etc. For what's it is worth, I prefer the characterization of Thomas Nagel. See for instance his short but outstanding essay The Absurd (The Journal of Philosophy 68(20) 1971) . Here are some salient elements of his characterization.

    First, absurdity in this context is marked by the introspective feeling that life is meaningless sub specie aeternitatis (that is, in the grand scheme of things, or more literally, taken from the perspective of eternity). At the same time, rational arguments designed to support that feeling invariably fail to do so:

    "Most people feel on occasion that life is absurd, and some feel it vividly and continually. Yet the reasons usually offered in defense of this conviction are patently inadequate….Yet I believe they attempt to express something that is difficult to state, but fundamentally correct."


    Fleeting feelings of absurdity may be idiosyncratically realized, but Nagel focuses his attention on a philosophical conception of the absurd that is more general:

    "If there is a philosophical sense of absurdity, however, it must arise from the perception of something universal – some respect in which pretension and reality inevitably clash for us all. This condition is supplied, I shall argue, by the collision between the seriousness with which we take our lives and the perpetual possibility of regarding everything about which we are serious as arbitrary, or open to doubt.

    We cannot live human lives without energy and attention, nor without making choices which show that we take some things more seriously than others. Yet we have always available a point of view outside the particular form of our lives, from which the seriousness appears gratuitous. These two inescapable viewpoints collide in us, and that is what makes life absurd. It is absurd because we ignore the doubts that we know cannot be settled, continuing to live with nearly undiminished seriousness in spite of them.

    This analysis requires defense in two respects: first as regards the unavoidability of seriousness; second as regards the inescapability of doubt.'


    Nagel then goes on to work toward a defense in both respects. A particular aspect specific to beings like us who possess self-awareness is the capacity to introspect on our own lives and commitments:

    "Yet humans have the special capacity to step back and survey themselves, and the lives to which they are committed, with that detached amazement which comes from watching an ant struggle up a heap of sand. Without developing the illusion that they are able to escape from their highly specific and idiosyncratic position, they can view it sub specie aeternitatis – and the view is at once sobering and comical.

    The things we do or want without reasons, and without requiring reasons – the things that define what is a reason for us and what is not – are the starting points of our skepticism. We see ourselves from outside, and all the contingency and specificity of our aims and pursuits become clear. Yet when we take this view and recognize what we do as arbitrary, it does not disengage us from life, and there lies our absurdity: not in the fact that such an external view can be taken of us, but in the fact that we ourselves can take it, without ceasing to be the persons whose ultimate concerns are so coolly regarded."


    So, in short, the absurdity lies in focused introspective skepticism sub specie aeternitatis on our most fundamental commitments and yet simultaneous retainment of all our normal existential seriousness that issues from the very object of that skepticism. In particular, everyone to the extent that he or she acts at all will have normative "bedrock" underlying the commitments that attend the seriousness marking their lives. That goes for all agents. On top of which, the point of bedrock is that it does the underlying: there is nothing underlying it, nor could there be. At the same time, however, there is no immunity from taking a view of skepticism toward one's own bedrock when one takes up the detached view sub specie aeternitatis . So the main inner confrontation here is that one can be introspectively skeptical toward articles that are simply foundational and inveterate to one's own evaluative commitments, articles that could only be defended circularly or self-referentially.

    I suppose at this point, the motivation of theistic escapism is to dissolve this conflict by taking that bedrock and purporting to place it in something external to us and our world, such as God or something equally as mysterious, where the bedrock here concerns moral grounding or value and meaning, etc. Somehow, so the story goes, without God or whatever we are left with this debilitating skepticism towards these matters of high existential seriousness; whereas with God we find our solid footing again. This seems just a way of projecting agency onto the view sub specie aeternitatis , since that just is the view of God in a sense. Clearly enough, though, this sort of escapism does not work. I mean, it may work on some psychological level, the mental equivalent of how sweeping dust under the nearest rug "works" at cleaning the floor. But, I mean, come on: there's still the same dust on the floor. See the balance of the Nagel essay for a clear reading of why escapism fails on a philosophical level:

    https://philosophy.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/The%20Absurd%20-%20Thomas%20Nagel.pdf

    At any rate, I think such a characterization of "The Absurd" can help us make some sense of cases where one is confronted with argumentative hysterics to the effect that in the absence of God all of our normative and evaluative bedrock crumbles under feet; and then one is subsequently confronted with the most bizarre ramblings when pressing for some rational explication as to why that would be the case.
  2. Joined
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    26 Jul '16 16:37
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    There are various arguments that aim to show that God is necessary for [enter here something of high existential importance]. God is requisite, so it goes, for the existence of moral facts, or for value and meaning in life, etc. Others might claim that theistic belief is necessary or otherwise particularly conducive to our living well, or some such. Th ...[text shortened]... bizarre ramblings when pressing for some rational explication as to why that would be the case.
    You find God unnecessary and do not need him for meaning and is unimportant?

    Just like your post? 😛
  3. Standard memberDeepThought
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    26 Jul '16 18:10
    Originally posted by whodey
    You find God unnecessary and do not need him for meaning and is unimportant?

    Just like your post? 😛
    I think you've missed the point. Either God exists or does not, but either way arguments that the concept of God is necessary for life to have any point fall into this trap of theistic escapism. Take the State Opening of Parliament in the UK. On the one hand it is a ceremony that underlines the constitutional nature of my countries' governance and, if one takes a step back, a collection of arcane and absurd rituals. Wishing for a written constitution or the abolition of the monarchy in an attempt to escape this will not stop government being inherently absurd. Similarly attempting to invoke God to escape the absurdity of life simply fails. As I'm afraid does your post, you might want to think about what people are saying before bashing on the keyboard.
  4. SubscriberGhost of a Duke
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    26 Jul '16 18:28
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I think you've missed the point. Either God exists or does not, but either way arguments that the concept of God is necessary for life to have any point fall into this trap of theistic escapism. Take the State Opening of Parliament in the UK. On the one hand it is a ceremony that underlines the constitutional nature of my countries' governance ...[text shortened]... your post, you might want to think about what people are saying before bashing on the keyboard.
    For a long time I misunderstood Voltaire's 'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.' (Thought he was being ironic). The following verse however makes his position clearer:
    '
    My lodging is filled with lizards and rats;
    But the architect exists, and anyone who denies it
    Is touched with madness under the guise of wisdom.
    Consult Zoroaster, and Minos, and Solon,
    And the martyr Socrates, and the great Cicero:
    They all adored a master, a judge, a father.
    This sublime system is necessary to man.
    It is the sacred tie that binds society,
    The first foundation of holy equity,
    The bridle to the wicked, the hope of the just.'
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    26 Jul '16 18:42
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I think you've missed the point. Either God exists or does not, but either way arguments that the concept of God is necessary for life to have any point fall into this trap of theistic escapism. Take the State Opening of Parliament in the UK. On the one hand it is a ceremony that underlines the constitutional nature of my countries' governance ...[text shortened]... your post, you might want to think about what people are saying before bashing on the keyboard.
    But I like bashing on a keyboard 😠
  6. Standard memberFetchmyjunk
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    26 Jul '16 19:07
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    There are various arguments that aim to show that God is necessary for [enter here something of high existential importance]. God is requisite, so it goes, for the existence of moral facts, or for value and meaning in life, etc. Others might claim that theistic belief is necessary or otherwise particularly conducive to our living well, or some such. Th ...[text shortened]... bizarre ramblings when pressing for some rational explication as to why that would be the case.
    Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?
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    26 Jul '16 19:241 edit
    Originally posted by Fetchmyjunk
    Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?
    That is a trick question.

    If he says absolutely, he will be admitting there is a God.

    Don't fall for it man! 😲

    Hang tough! Make sure you clinch that fist tight and raise it high as you raise it to the heavens on your death bed.
  8. Standard memberDeepThought
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    26 Jul '16 20:02
    Originally posted by Fetchmyjunk
    Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?
    I think that those who believe in Natural Rights but are atheists would disagree. Further, I don't think that the existence of a God necessarily entails that there is a canonical morality. For one thing God may be amoral. You'd have to demonstrate that God's morality is "absolute" in some way and I don't think that is a trivial task. Also I still have the same problem I did in the other thread with your use of the word "absolute". It's not clear to me what you mean by it.
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    26 Jul '16 22:41
    Originally posted by Fetchmyjunk
    Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?
    "Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?"

    If there are moral absolutes, they cannot be contingent on the existence of a god, no matter what name is applied.

    quote:

    Moral Absolutism is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act.
    Moral Absolutism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy
    www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_absolutism.html

    unquote

    The context doesn't matter. The context includes whether or not there is a god.
  10. SubscriberSuzianne
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    27 Jul '16 04:43
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    There are various arguments that aim to show that God is necessary for [enter here something of high existential importance]. God is requisite, so it goes, for the existence of moral facts, or for value and meaning in life, etc. Others might claim that theistic belief is necessary or otherwise particularly conducive to our living well, or some such. Th ...[text shortened]... bizarre ramblings when pressing for some rational explication as to why that would be the case.
    Well, your argument is half right.

    Is it absurd? Absolutely.

    Is it escapism? Not so much.
  11. Subscribersonhouse
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    27 Jul '16 14:05
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Well, your argument is half right.

    Is it absurd? Absolutely.

    Is it escapism? Not so much.
    I think it safe to say your god has never come to you personally and said thou shalt not kill and so forth.

    And safe to say it never said that to anyone else either.

    Safe to say there is no absolute morality, for one thing, you don't know the morality of your god, you can see there is a serious issue there or it would not have let 200 million die by the hands of despots in WW1 and 2 and a lot of those deaths by torture, killing babies by cold bloodedly shooting them in the head. No god came down and said a word about that multi-million number of killings even though it is written 'thou shalt not kill'.

    So there is at LEAST ambiguous morality going on with your god.

    And of course you already know my position on that.
  12. Standard memberapathist
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    27 Jul '16 23:22
    Originally posted by Fetchmyjunk
    Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?
    God is irrelevant to that question, in both directions! There can be moral absolutes even if there are no gods, and the commands of the gods can be relative.
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    29 Jul '16 20:151 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    You find God unnecessary and do not need him for meaning and is unimportant?

    Just like your post? 😛
    No, I find arguments to the effect that God is necessary for [enter here something of existential importance to us humans] to be intellectually vapid. As such, I'm thinking that in trying to understand the psychological factors involved in their recurrence, we probably need to look deeper than just logical and evidential appeal.
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    29 Jul '16 20:181 edit
    Originally posted by Fetchmyjunk
    Do you agree that without God there are no moral absolutes?
    No. Do you have some argument in favor of this claim?

    As I have been saying, pretty much all the arguments I have ever seen for claims of this nature are grossly inadequate. Perhaps you are privy to a good argument for it that I have not considered before?
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    29 Jul '16 22:591 edit
    Originally posted by Ghost of a Duke
    For a long time I misunderstood Voltaire's 'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.' (Thought he was being ironic). The following verse however makes his position clearer:
    '
    My lodging is filled with lizards and rats;
    But the architect exists, and anyone who denies it
    Is touched with madness under the guise of wisdom.
    Consu ...[text shortened]... ciety,
    The first foundation of holy equity,
    The bridle to the wicked, the hope of the just.'
    I think Voltaire was thinking along these lines:

    "Machiavelli unequivocally criticizes the Church but equivocally
    praises the political utility of religion in general, of the pagan religion,
    of the religion of Moses and David (as he interprets them), and of the
    Christian religion (or a patriotic interpretation of it). His praise of the
    Christian religion provides cover for his criticism of the Church; his
    praise of a patriotic Christian religion provides cover for his criticism
    of actually existing Christianity; and his praises of Moses and David, of
    pagan religion, and of religion in general further provide cover for his
    criticism of the Christian religion and conceal his critique of religion
    in general and his praise of radical human self-reliance.
    The manifold character of Machiavelli’s treatment of religion is
    not, however, merely a matter of rhetorical devices but has a profound
    practical import as well. He reminds us of religion’s political power
    and danger, its ability to motivate men to kill and die or to accept
    tyranny, and of the necessarily redemptive and spiritual aspects of
    transformative political leadership, lessons we have relearned recent-
    ly."

    http://political-science.uchicago.edu/faculty-articles/Tarcov---Machiavellis%20Critique%20of%20Religion.pdf
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