Does God Exist?

  1.  

    Editorial Note:

    This thread was initiated in email loop by Syed Imtiaz Bokhari after reading an article in daily New York Times.            Syed Nayyar Bokhari provided a video from Facebook providing reasons in favor of Existence of God.                                   For serious discussion, this thread has been established in TFUSA website.

    nSalik {Noor Salik}

    “Does God exist? – Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku Debate” on YouTube

    On Oct 24, 2017 11:13 AM, “Nayyar Bokhari” <> wrote:

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 10:32 AM, Bokhari Imtiaz
    Hi members, I downloaded this article from today’s NYT.
     Unknown Unknowns: Three Inquiries into Religion” philosopher Tim Crane is an atheist.
    James Ryerson reviewed this book and presented his comments in a very balanced and rational way. It is worth reading give us another perspective by an atheist philosopher on religion and its genesis.   
    Having surveyed religious traditions across the world and throughout history, he sees religion, at its core, as a set of “culturally prescribed practices” that aim to help people access “superhuman powers” in the hope of “realizing human goods” and avoiding bad things, typically “in conditions and situations they cannot control and with problems that they cannot solve.
    This seems to me is the crux of the religion, since ages people find solace in religion when confronted with problems in life to ward off calamities. To me it is a psychological remedy people looking for and it propel them to a comfort zones they created for them. It is still permeates all religions and people strongly belief in this cultural remedy, science has contrary view. Once they adhere to this philosophy their existential anxieties marginalized. 
    Worries about things like the meaning of life and the problem of evil are peripheral. “If religion could not promise the help of superhuman powers,” he concludes, “then religion would not exist.”
    With some my comments enjoy the article, expecting some feedback.
    Unknown Unknowns: Three Inquiries into Religion
    OCT. 20, 2017
    The philosopher Tim Crane is an atheist. Though educated in a Catholic environment, he has come to believe that nothing exists beyond the world of everyday experience and scientific explanation — nothing transcendent. Some people look around and think,this can’t be all there is. Crane is not one of those people. That he avows atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, does not strike him as presumptuous or arrogant. He has considered the relevant evidence and arguments as best he can and drawn the most reasonable-seeming conclusion. What more is a thinker supposed to do? He is convinced religious believers are wrong.
    But his qualm is not with them. As he explains in his lucid and thoughtful book THE MEANING OF BELIEF: Religion From an Atheist’s Point of View (Harvard University, $24.95), he is more troubled by some of his fellow atheists — specifically, those who campaign against religion as an irrational vestige of primitive thought outmoded by modern science. A notable feature of this campaign, Crane observes, has been its general failure to change the minds of religious people. Maybe those people are just foolish. Or maybe, as Crane is inclined to think, they do not recognize themselves or their beliefs in the picture of religion under attack. The atheists miss their target because they are aiming elsewhere. And because they fail to understand what religion is, they lack a suitably “realistic and feasible way to relate” to people of faith — which is to say, most people.
    In a spirit of reconciliation, Crane proposes to paint a more accurate picture of religion for his fellow unbelievers. Religion is an immense, sprawling and variegated affair. Any attempt to define it, however comprehensive, will omit some aspects and most attempts to define it, however crude, will capture something. The name of the game is what you see as central. Crane resists the notion, common to combative atheists, that the core of religion is an archaic cosmology (beliefs about things like the origin of the universe and supernatural agents) grafted onto a moral code. If you conceive of religion this way, as bad science plus arbitrary injunctions, of course you will think it should be replaced by good science and rational ethics.
    For Crane, the religious worldview is better understood as the combination of two attitudes. First: a sense of the transcendent, of an unseen moral order to the universe, often known as God. Second: an identification with a community that tries to “make sense of the world” by attempting to bring its members into alignment with this moral order through a tradition of narratives and rituals. Crane concedes there is a cosmology here; a belief in the transcendent is “a claim about the universe.” He also grants that religion, like science, is trying to explain things. But the kind of explanation and the kind of cosmology offered by religion, which does not “expect all aspects of the world to be intelligible,” are nothing like those of science, which strives to eliminate mystery.
    The atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has suggested that the idea of God is a “hypothesis” about a supernatural agent, ventured as a possible account of perplexing natural phenomena. Crane disagrees. The god of actual religious people — the source of the unseen orders that imbues everything with significance — is both vaguer and more nuanced than that. Science takes “complex or confusing things” and tries to explain them in terms of “simpler or clearer things.” God is not simple or clearReligion isn’t supposed to be a neat explanation of causal forces. It’s supposed to be a difficult explanation of the meaning of life. This explanation, Crane contends, is destined to be forever incomplete, always a struggle to fathom, not because it is missing some key facts, but because it involves “attempts to encounter” the transcendent.
    Crane himself thinks there is no transcendent reality, but he knows there can be no proof of this. Given the ineluctable enigma of existence, he believes religion can be a rational, “intelligible human reaction to the mystery of the world.”
    This picture of religion would no doubt strike the sociologist Christian Smith as “too cognitive, cerebral, intellectualist.” In his substantial, richly informed book RELIGION: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters (Princeton University, $35), Smith offers a social scientific theory that disputes the notion, advanced by titans of social thought like Clifford Geertz and Max Weber, that religion is a cultural meaning system. “Religion is not at heart a set of replies to existential questions,” Smith writes, “even if it often involves this.”
    For Smith, the paradigmatic expression of religion is something like praying to God to cure your wife’s cancer, or beseeching a cloud spirit to bring rain to your withering crops.Having surveyed religious traditions across the world and throughout history, he sees religion, at its core, as a set of “culturally prescribed practices” that aim to help people access “superhuman powers” in the hope of “realizing human goods” and avoiding bad things, typically “in conditions and situations they cannot control and with problems that they cannot solve.” Smith is quick to acknowledge that this is not all religion provides, nor the sole reason people practice religion. But he maintains it is the “central” reason. And unlike other things religion does, like providing an identity (which a profession can also do) or seeking existential meaning (which philosophy can also do), it is “unique to religion.”
    A methodological hazard of discussing religion at this level of abstraction is the need, as Crane says, “to generalize the views of billions of people.” Smith hopes to avoid this difficulty by focusing less on subjective religious belief and more on public religious practices, which are “more or less objective.” This has allowed him, he believes, to focus on what religion is.He distinguishes this from what religion can do, its “secondary outgrowths” (things like fostering identity, meaning, and community and so on). Though these derivative features are “often crucial” for the personal experience and institutional strength of religion, they do not constitute its “ultimate raison d’être.”
    Smith’s is a theoretical work, but he provides ample illustrations of his theory, including religious traditions that might at first seem like counterexamples, such as American Protestant evangelicalism, which stresses the importance of beliefs and attitudes over rituals and customs. In all cases, he finds formalized calls for heavenly assistance, often involving this-worldly concerns like financial security and family health, to be central. Worries about things like the meaning of life and the problem of evil are peripheral. “If religion could not promise the help of superhuman powers,” he concludes, “then religion would not exist.”
    At some point in the distant past, of course, religion did not exist. The story of its emergence in the universe, and the significance of this story for our understanding of the nature of religion, are the subject of THE NEW COSMIC STORY: Inside Our Awakening Universe (Yale University, $25), by the theologianJohn F. Haught. Like Crane and Smith, he takes a “generalized approach” to religion; focusing on what all such traditions have in common. Unlike Crane and Smith, he sees religion as something whose journey, like that of the rest of the universe described by modern science, is “unfinished,” and hence whose nature must be understood, in part, in terms of where it may be headed.
    Haught describes religion as the “anticipation of a rightness that is now mostly out of range.” This formulation resembles Crane’s, with its transcendent moral order both everywhere present and agonizingly beyond reach. But Haught, a man of faith, disagrees with Crane that religion’s truths will necessarily remain so remote. Ever since the Big Bang, we have seen the emergence of matter, then life, then conscious life — and then, most notably, in Haught’s estimation, the human consciousnessof “interior striving” that finds its zenith in our “spiritual adventures.”
    Who knows what advances in religion the next stage of the universe’s evolution will bring? Thanks to modern science, Haught argues, we know “the cosmic story is far from over” and can look “patiently and expectantly ahead for a possible meaning to it all.” Should such a cosmic gift come to pass, it would amount to a salvation of the physical world, not a deliverance from it — a kind of redemption perhaps even an atheist could live with.
    James Ryerson is a senior staff editor for The Times’s Op-Ed page

7 thoughts on “Does God Exist?

  1. I wrote short comment that was related to a video, sent by Nayyar Bukhari, which Noor Salik mentioned in his comment. It seems that video has been deleted from the original website. The video eloquently makes the point that this universe cannot be created out of nothing and there has to be a Creator/Designer. My comment was mostly directed at believers but it applies to non- believers also, who are trying to prove non-existence of God by tools which are inherently inferior to the Supreme concept of God.

    “It is interesting video and makes its point well, but it is same circular argument. By same argument the next question is-who created the Designer?
    I think we go on a slippery slope when we try to prove existence of God by scientific arguments. By doing that we are indirectly admitting that scientific methods are superior than God to which God has to submit to prove its existence. If we believe in God who is Superior to everything, then why we want to that?
    We go on the same slippery slope when we try to explain some of the scientific discoveries on the basis of Quranic verses.

    Belief in God is a matter of personal belief and there is nothing wrong with that. Some wants to believe only on those things which can be proven scientifically and by reason, it is a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with that either. We have great well-educated minds on both sides.”

    Fayyaz

    • Scientific arguments keep changing with our understanding of universe (Atom; lost its physical existence ,
      every discovery lead to new ,
      Believe or not to believe in supreme creator is your choice.
      I agree with Fayyaz.

      Altaf Ahmad

  2. It’s a matter of opinion and how much depth of thinking yielded that thought. Not everyone is capable of in-depth thinking.
    It would be fair to conclude, as of now, to assume that God (as described in scripture) may or may not exist, may or may not be a definitive precondition for Universe to have come into existence as a definite ‘beginning’.

    What is most definitely untrue for now is anybody’s claim that God exists AND that He ordained a human being as His regent on Earth to convey God’s commands to humans on how to conduct their lives till the so-called Day of Judgement.

    Wequar Azeem

  3. Religion and mythology are the products of human imagination. The basic theme of mythology is the imagined world which can function as a potent reality for some .
    Pioneers of religion advised the people that believing in and acting on the edicts was the only way to reach gods; a single God among the monotheists.
    In the ancient world, gods were regarded as superior, not supernatural, beings and were linked both with natural phenomenon and human behavior.
    Mythology and religion were invented to help humans to cope with their problems, and hope for a better living after death. They finally offered a God who was transcendent.
    The modern trend is to dismiss the stories of gods walking the earth, dead men emerging out of graves and seas parting to let favored tribes escape.
    But in the pre-modern world, religion was organized mythology. Sufis and followers of mysticism offered ecstatic bliss but lately fundamentalism has overwhelmed human
    thought process, so people look for it in music, poetry, dance, drugs and sex.
    Religion offers a hypothesis; rituals take on the role experiments have in science.

    Dr. Syed Ehtisham

  4. Not only does he exist, he must exist in order to perpetuate life its self. Physics has one enormous thing wrong in their theories. They believe that space and time gave rise to life. But life makes time! So really, life together with time created all the matter and space in the universe! We are all LITERALLY inside god right now! Otherwise there would be no time. The multiverse is “onion” like, not bubble like… I could go on and on.

  5. In this posting, there is a mentioning of Spinoza’s God. Einstein did not believe in Abrahamic/Monotheistic God, instead he believed in God of Spinoza.
    I did a Google search for God of Spinoza. The following is the output of that search from Vikipedia.
    It is a bit lengthy but it is worth reading. If you are interested, please read it.
    You will find out the essential differences between Monotheistic/Petsonal God and the God of Spinoza {Nature/Pantheism/Panentheism}.
    This reading can help us to understand as to why believers believe in personal God because monotheistic religions make a complex concept into a simple one.
    Out of this copy from vikipedia I will extract some parts to elaborate few points.
    nSalik

    Spinozism (also spelled Spinoza-ism or Spinozaisqm) is the monist philosophical system of Baruch Spinoza which defines “God” as a singular self-subsistent substance, with both matter and thought being attributes of such.

    In a letter to Henry Oldenburg Spinoza wrote: “as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken”.[1] For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote “Deus sive Natura” (“God or Nature”) Spinoza meant God was Natura naturans not Natura naturata, that is, “a dynamic nature in action, growing and changing, not a passive or static thing.”

    Core doctrine

    In Spinozism, the concept of a personal relationship with God comes from the position that one is a part of an infinite interdependent “organism”. Spinoza argued that everything is a derivative of God, interconnected with all of existence. Although humans only experience thought and extension, what happens to one aspect of existence will still affect others. Thus, Spinozism teaches a form of determinism and ecology and supports this as a basis for morality.[citation needed]

    Additionally, a core doctrine of Spinozism is that the universe is essentially deterministic. All that happens or will happen could not have unfolded in any other way. Spinoza claimed that the third kind of knowledge, intuition, is the highest kind attainable. More specifically, he defined this as the ability for the human intellect to intuit knowledge based upon its accumulated understanding of the world around them.

    Spinoza’s metaphysics consists of one thing, substance, and its modifications (modes). Early in The Ethics Spinoza argues that there is only one substance, which is absolutely infinite, self-caused, and eternal. From this substance, however, follow an infinite number of attributes (the intellect perceiving an abstract concept or essence) and modes (things actually existing which follow from attributes and modes). He calls this substance “God”, or “Nature”. In fact, he takes these two terms to be synonymous (in the Latin the phrase he uses is “Deus sive Natura”), but readers often disregard his neutral monism. During his time, this statement was seen as literally equating the existing world with God – which is why he was accused of atheism. For Spinoza the whole of the natural universe is made of one substance, God, or, what’s the same, Nature, and its modifications (modes).

    It cannot be overemphasized how the rest of Spinoza’s philosophy – his philosophy of mind, his epistemology, his psychology, his moral philosophy, his political philosophy, and his philosophy of religion – flows more or less directly from the metaphysical underpinnings in Part I of the Ethics.[2]

    However, one should keep in mind the neutral monist position. While the natural universe humans experience in both the realm of the mind and the realm of physical reality is part of God, it is only two modes – thought and extension – that are part of infinite modes emanating from God.

    Spinoza’s doctrine was considered radical at the time he published and he was widely seen as the most infamous atheist-heretic of Europe. His philosophy was part of the philosophic debate in Europe during the Enlightenment, along with Cartesianism. Specifically, Spinoza disagreed with Descartes on substance duality, Descartes’ views on the will and the intellect, and the subject of free will.[3]

    Spinoza defines “substance” as follows:

    By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed. (E1D3)[4]

    This means, essentially, that substance is just whatever can be thought of without relating it to any other idea or thing. For example, if one thinks of a particular object, one thinks of it as a kind of thing, e.g., x is a cat. Substance, on the other hand, is to be conceived of by itself, without understanding it as a particular kind of thing (because it isn’t a particular thing at all).

    Attributes
    Spinoza defines “attribute” as follows:

    By attribute I understand what the intellect perceives of a substance, as constituting its essence. (E1D4)[4]

    From this it can be seen that attributes are related to substance in some way. It is not clear, however, even from Spinoza’s direct definition, whether, a) attributes are really the way(s) substance is, or b) attributes are simply ways to understand substance, but not necessarily the ways it really is. Spinoza thinks that there are an infinite number of attributes, but there are two attributes for which Spinoza thinks we can have knowledge. Namely, thought and extension.[5]

    Thought
    The attribute of thought is how substance can be understood to be composed of thoughts, i.e., thinking things. When we understand a particular thing in the universe through the attribute of thought, we are understanding the mode as an idea of something (either another idea, or an object).

    Extension
    The attribute of extension is how substance can be understood to be physically extended in space. Particular things which have breadth and depth (that is, occupy space) are what is meant by extended. It follows from this that if substance and God are identical, in Spinoza’s view, and contrary to the traditional conception, God has extension as one of his attributes.

    Modes
    Modes are particular modifications of substance, i.e., particular things in the world. Spinoza gives the following definition:

    By mode I understand the affections of a substance, or that which is in another through which it is also conceived. (E1D5)[4]

    Substance monism
    The argument for there only being one substance (or, more colloquially, one kind of stuff) in the universe occurs in the first fourteen propositions of The Ethics. The following proposition expresses Spinoza’s commitment to substance monism:

    Except God, no substance can be or be conceived. (E1P14)[4]

    Spinoza takes this proposition to follow directly from everything he says prior to it. Spinoza’s monism is contrasted with Descartes’ dualism and Leibniz’s pluralism. It allows Spinoza to avoid the problem of interaction between mind and body, which troubled Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy.

    Causality and modality
    The issue of causality and modality (possibility and necessity) in Spinoza’s philosophy is contentious.[6] Spinoza’s philosophy is, in one sense, thoroughly deterministic (or necessitarian). This can be seen directly from Axiom 3 of The Ethics:

    From a given determinate cause the effect follows necessarily; and conversely, if there is no determinate cause, it is impossible for an effect to follow. (E1A3)[4]

    Yet Spinoza seems to make room for a kind of freedom, especially in the fifth and final section of The Ethics, “On the Power of the Intellect, or on Human Freedom”:

    I pass, finally, to the remaining Part of the Ethics, which concerns the means or way, leading to Freedom. Here, then, I shall treat of the power of reason, showing what it can do against the affects, and what Freedom of Mind, or blessedness, is. (E5, Preface)[4]

    So Spinoza certainly has a use for the word ‘freedom’, but he equates “Freedom of Mind” with “blessedness”, a notion which is not traditionally associated with freedom of the will at all.

    The principle of sufficient reason (PSR) Edit
    Though the PSR is most commonly associated with Gottfried Leibniz, it is arguably found in its strongest form in Spinoza’s philosophy.[7] Within the context of Spinoza’s philosophical system, the PSR can be understood to unify causation and explanation.[8] What this means is that for Spinoza, questions regarding the reason why a given phenomenon is the way it is (or exists) are always answerable, and are always answerable in terms of the relevant cause(s). This constitutes a rejection of teleological, or final causation, except possibly in a more restricted sense for human beings.[4][8] Given this, Spinoza’s views regarding causality and modality begin to make much more sense.

    Parallelism
    Spinoza’s philosophy contains as a key proposition the notion that mental and physical (thought and extension) phenomena occur in parallel, but without causal interaction between them. He expresses this proposition as follows:

    The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things. (E2P7)[4]

    His proof of this proposition is that:

    The knowledge of an effect depends on, and involves, the knowledge of its cause. (E1A4)[4]

    The reason Spinoza thinks the parallelism follows from this axiom is that since the idea we have of each thing requires knowledge of its cause, and this cause must be understood under the same attribute. Further, there is only one substance, so whenever we understand some chain of ideas of things, we understand that the way the ideas are causally related must be the same as the way the things themselves are related, since the ideas and the things are the same modes understood under different attributes.

    Pantheism controversy

    Main article: Pantheism controversy
    In 1785, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi published a condemnation of Spinoza’s pantheism, after Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was thought to have confessed on his deathbed to being a “Spinozist”, which was the equivalent in his time of being called a heretic. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza’s doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Moses Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that there is no actual difference between theism and pantheism. The entire issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time, which Immanuel Kant rejected, as he thought that attempts to conceive of transcendent reality would lead to antinomies (statements that could be proven both right and wrong) in thought.

    The attraction of Spinoza’s philosophy to late eighteenth-century Europeans was that it provided an alternative to materialism, atheism, and deism. Three of Spinoza’s ideas strongly appealed to them:

    the unity of all that exists;
    the regularity of all that happens; and
    the identity of spirit and nature.

    Spinoza’s “God or Nature” [Deus sive Natura] provided a living, natural God, in contrast to the Newtonian mechanical “First Cause” or the dead mechanism of the French “Man Machine.” Coleridge and Shelley saw in Spinoza’s philosophy a religion of nature[9] and called him the “God-intoxicated Man.”[10][11] Spinoza inspired the poet Shelley to write his essay “The Necessity of Atheism.”[10]

    Spinoza was considered to be an atheist because he used the word “God” [Deus] to signify a concept that was different from that of traditional Judeo–Christian monotheism. “Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God; he has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will; he does not act according to purpose, but everything follows necessarily from his nature, according to law….”[12] Thus, Spinoza’s cool, indifferent God [13] differs from the concept of an anthropomorphic, fatherly God who cares about humanity.

    Modern interpretations

    German philosopher Karl Jaspers believed that Spinoza, in his philosophical system, did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God’s transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God’s immanence.[14] Even God under the attributes of thought and extension cannot be identified strictly with our world. That world is of course “divisible”; it has parts. But Spinoza insists that “no attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided” (Which means that one cannot conceive an attribute in a way that leads to division of substance), and that “a substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible” (Ethics, Part I, Propositions 12 and 13).[15] Following this logic, our world should be considered as a mode under two attributes of thought and extension. Therefore, the pantheist formula “One and All” would apply to Spinoza only if the “One” preserves its transcendence and the “All” were not interpreted as the totality of finite things.[14]

    French philosopher Martial Guéroult suggested the term “panentheism”, rather than “pantheism” to describe Spinoza’s view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, “in” God. Not only do finite things have God as their cause; they cannot be conceived without God.[15] In other words, the world is a subset of God. American philosopher Charles Hartshorne, on the other hand, suggested the term “Classical Pantheism” to describe Spinoza’s philosophy.[16]

    Comparison to Eastern philosophies

    Similarities between Spinoza’s philosophy and Eastern philosophical traditions have been discussed by many authorities. The 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker was one of the early figures to notice the similarities between Spinoza’s religious conceptions and the Vedanta tradition of India, writing that Spinoza’s thought was “… a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines… We mean the philosophy of Spinoza, a man whose very life is a picture of that moral purity and intellectual indifference to the transitory charms of this world, which is the constant longing of the true Vedanta philosopher… comparing the fundamental ideas of both we should have no difficulty in proving that, had Spinoza been a Hindu, his system would in all probability mark a last phase of the Vedanta philosophy.”[17][18]

    It has been said that Spinozism is similar to the Hindu doctrines of Samkhya and Yoga. Though within the various existing Indian traditions there exist many traditions which astonishingly had such similar doctrines from ages, out of which most similar and well known are the Kashmiri Shaivism and Nath tradition, apart from already existing Samkhya and Yoga.[19]

    Max Muller, in his lectures, noted the striking similarities between Vedanta and the system of Spinoza, saying “the Brahman, as conceived in the Upanishads and defined by Sankara, is clearly the same as Spinoza’s ‘Substantia’.”[20] Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society also compared Spinoza’s religious thought to Vedanta, writing in an unfinished essay “As to Spinoza’s Deity – natura naturans – conceived in his attributes simply and alone; and the same Deity – as natura naturata or as conceived in the endless series of modifications or correlations, the direct outflowing results from the properties of these attributes, it is the Vedantic Deity pure and simple.”[21]

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