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Thread: How Do We Know that God Exists?

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    How Do We Know that God Exists?

    See the title, but this is a question that I've been thinking about recently. More specifically, while Aquinas' Five Ways are very strong arguments, what necessarily makes them apply to reality?

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    Um, unless you are arguing for a steady state universe, Number Three inherently applies to material reality as we know it (arguably, so do the rest but I'd argue Five as the second strongest).

    I suspect - not a philosopher and don't play on on TV - the existence of God is where we should wind up following Plato's forms to their logical conclusion but I would not argue it as I'm not well enough read in the two.

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    Professor Cerebrum123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teallaura View Post
    Um, unless you are arguing for a steady state universe, Number Three inherently applies to material reality as we know it (arguably, so do the rest but I'd argue Five as the second strongest).

    I suspect - not a philosopher and don't play on on TV - the existence of God is where we should wind up following Plato's forms to their logical conclusion but I would not argue it as I'm not well enough read in the two.
    Unless I'm misreading them*, there are Thomists who think that the metaphysical arguments are not at all dependent on a physical understanding of the natural world. Given my understanding of the nature of the Thomistic 5 Ways, I disagree. I've been reading a translation of Summa Theologica, and I've come across several arguments he makes that only work if his physics are right. I'll have to go back and find it, but one relied on the concept of aether, and how "action at a distance" was wrong. Both of these concepts have been found to be false**. The way I see it, the arguments relying on these concepts are false because of this.

    Unlike some modern Thomists, Thomas Aquinas didn't seem to divide his physics and metaphysics in a way that made them into non-overlapping magisteria.

    *Those like Edward Feser, and our own Nick Peters. I also read one a while back claiming that even if there was no such thing as motion Thomas would still be right.

    An example of this from Edward Feser's blog.

    "Moreover, the philosophy of nature, as modern Scholastics have understood it, tells us what the natural world must be like whatever the specific laws of physics, chemistry, etc. turn out to be. And the Scholastic position is that the distinction between actuality and potentiality, the principle of causality, and other fundamental elements of the Aristotelian conception of nature are among the preconditions of any possible material world susceptible of scientific study.

    That is why no findings of empirical science can undermine the claims of metaphysics and the philosophy of nature. It is also why no findings of empirical science can undermine the Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments for the existence of God, for these are grounded in premises drawn, not from natural science, but from metaphysics and the philosophy of nature. "

    **Quantum mechanics, gravity, and light going through a vacuum are falsifications of these.

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    Perhaps you could post them for non-Thomists?
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by psstein View Post
    See the title, but this is a question that I've been thinking about recently. More specifically, while Aquinas' Five Ways are very strong arguments, what necessarily makes them apply to reality?
    We don't know God exists. When someone says they know God exists, what they really mean is "I strongly believe God exists". Conviction and proof are two different things. Of course we can claim evidence for our beliefs, but the evidence still falls significantly short of furnishing any sort of rational certainty.

    This is why we as humans all doubt at times, and this is why we continue to debate worldviews, evidences, and interpretations because at the end of the day, no one can prove with certainty that their answers to "ultimate questions" are the correct ones.
    Last edited by Scrawly; 12-04-2017 at 12:21 AM.

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    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psstein View Post
    See the title, but this is a question that I've been thinking about recently. More specifically, while Aquinas' Five Ways are very strong arguments, what necessarily makes them apply to reality?
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    We don't know God exists. When someone says they know God exists, what they really mean is "I strongly believe God exists". Conviction and proof are two different things. Of course we can claim evidence for our beliefs, but the evidence still falls significantly short of furnishing any sort of rational certainty.

    This is why we as humans all doubt at times, and this is why we continue to debate worldviews, evidences, and interpretations because at the end of the day, no one can prove with certainty that their answers to "ultimate questions" are the correct ones.
    Dogmatic statements in support of agnosticism(?). Are you truly that certain about the uncertainty of the existence of God? These are self-refuting assertions, Scrawly.
    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. … The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

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  7. Amen LostSheep amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    Dogmatic statements in support of agnosticism(?).


    No. Statements that support the limitations and realities of human reasoning and fallibility.

    Are you truly that certain about the uncertainty of the existence of God?
    I am certain about the limitations of our beliefs when attempting to produce rational certainty.

    These are self-refuting assertions, Scrawly.
    I think you are refuting a straw man.
    Last edited by Scrawly; 12-04-2017 at 12:53 AM.

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    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    We don't know God exists. When someone says they know God exists, what they really mean is "I strongly believe God exists". Conviction and proof are two different things. Of course we can claim evidence for our beliefs, but the evidence still falls significantly short of furnishing any sort of rational certainty.

    This is why we as humans all doubt at times, and this is why we continue to debate worldviews, evidences, and interpretations because at the end of the day, no one can prove with certainty that their answers to "ultimate questions" are the correct ones.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    Dogmatic statements in support of agnosticism(?).
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    No. Statements that support the limitations and realities of human reasoning and fallibility.
    And would not these purported ‘limitations and realities of human reasoning and fallibility’ be applicable to you and your reasoning as well? Are you certain that your (admittedly) fallible, limited reasoning is cogent?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    Are you truly that certain about the uncertainty of the existence of God?
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    I am certain about the limitations of our beliefs when attempting to produce rational certainty.
    Conclusion: You are certain that human beings cannot know whether God exists with ‘rational certainty’ (whatever it is you mean by that). You are certain of the limitations of human knowledge. Presumably you know with precision where human knowledge begins and ends, or are you merely guessing?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    These are self-refuting assertions, Scrawly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    I think you are refuting a straw man.
    I do not believe so. You are making faith-claims as to what human beings can and cannot know, and more or less treating the key tenet to your agnostic belief system of incertitude as indubitable fact. Do you not see the slightest hint of possible contradiction or irony here?

    Finally, I will simply say that I believe a discussion of this nature belongs on another forum (though the moderators may disagree). I doubt that I will carry on much longer, in any event.
    Last edited by The Remonstrant; 12-04-2017 at 01:26 AM.
    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. … The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

    <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>


    Farewell. (Sat., 24 Mar. 2018)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    We don't know God exists. When someone says they know God exists, what they really mean is "I strongly believe God exists". Conviction and proof are two different things. Of course we can claim evidence for our beliefs, but the evidence still falls significantly short of furnishing any sort of rational certainty.

    This is why we as humans all doubt at times, and this is why we continue to debate worldviews, evidences, and interpretations because at the end of the day, no one can prove with certainty that their answers to "ultimate questions" are the correct ones.
    Yes, I'm not in the certainty camp by any stretch of the imagination. I'm asking more of an epistemological question.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    And would not these purported ‘limitations and realities of human reasoning and fallibility’ be applicable to you and your reasoning as well? Are you certain that your (admittedly) fallible, limited reasoning is cogent?
    I am certain that we have doubts in regards to claims that do not have incontrovertible proof, yes. Our interpretations of data and our experiences as fallible human beings is limited and prone to error, including mine, yes.

    Conclusion: You are certain that human beings cannot know whether God exists with ‘rational certainty’ (whatever it is you mean by that).
    Yes. We as Christian's cannot provide rational, incontrovertible proof of God's existence to an "outsider".

    You are certain of the limitations of human knowledge.
    Yes.

    Presumably you know with precision where human knowledge begins and ends, or are you merely guessing?
    I never said that. I am speaking in terms of rational certainty/ incontrovertible proof.

    [I do not believe so. You are making faith-claims as to what human beings can and cannot know
    No I am not. I am making statements that certain beliefs go beyond the pale of what we can prove.

    and more or less treating the key tenet to your agnostic belief system of incertitude as indubitable fact.
    I don't have an agnostic belief system. I have a Christian belief system that is based on presuppositions/assumptions and conviction supported by decent evidence for some of the claims and blind faith for the other claims within the Christian worldview. I believe the Triune God of scripture exists (despite doubting), although I cannot prove that, and neither can you or anyone else, I think.

    Do you not see the slightest hint of possible contradiction or irony here?
    I still think you are attacking a straw man for the most part.

    Finally, I will simply say that I believe a discussion of this nature belongs on another forum (though the moderators may disagree). I doubt that I will carry on much longer, in any event.
    It does appear we have just about reached the point where we will have to agree to disagree and leave it at that. Good chatting with you as always!
    Last edited by Scrawly; 12-04-2017 at 02:33 AM.

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