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Which is More Rational: Belief in God or Atheism?

This week's course from Prager University features philosophy professor Peter Kreeft arguing for the compatibility of religion, science, and logic. What do you think?

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April 7, 2014 - 12:15 pm

Every week day a book excerpt, video, news story or some combination thereof to provoke spirited debate on controversial subjects. Have an idea you'd like to offer up for discussion? Email PJ Lifestyle's editor Dave Swindle: DaveSwindlePJM [@] Gmail.com

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Top Rated Comments   
--whims and wishes rule,--

Well, yeah. Some people really want to believe that we exist due to a remarkable series of random events and can set our own morality. It's pretty irrational.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
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My opinion? Professor Kreeft is overreaching. There is a better line of argument for this:

Finally, let's look at the problem of purpose in life. The only way most people who deny purpose in life live happily is either by making up some purpose, which amounts to self-delusion as we saw with Sartre, or by not carrying their view to its logical conclusions. Take the problem of death, for example. According to Ernst Bloch, the only way modern man lives in the face of death is by subconsciously borrowing the belief in immortality that his forefathers held to, even though he himself has no basis for this belief, since he does not believe in God. By borrowing the remnants of a belief in immortality, writes Bloch, "modern man does not feel the chasm that unceasingly surrounds him and that will certainly engulf him at last. Through these remnants, he saves his sense of self-identity. Through them the impression arises that man is not perishing, but only that one day the world has the whim no longer to appear to him." Bloch concludes, "This quite shallow courage feasts on a borrowed credit card. It lives from earlier hopes and the support that they once had provided." Modern man no longer has any right to that support, since he rejects God. But in order to live purposefully, he makes a leap of faith to affirm a reason for living.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god#ixzz2yduM5psS
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hokay, I'll get in on this.
I am not aware of definitive proof that God does or does not exist, which could lead to Schrodinger's God but that would be a bit much.
The evidence available says the Universe we grasp had a definite beginning. What was before that beginning? If "before that" was an oscillation, whence the oscillation? Rationally, I think that even the oscillation had to have a start and that lands me at "God." But I can understand why someone would view the same data and reach the opposite conclusion: that there is no need for a Prime Cause. Either view could be embraced after careful thought or with zealotry.
Many religions teach that God intervenes in our lives and gave us laws by which to live. Many philosophers believe Prime Cause set the Universe in motion with laws that we can understand and has allowed events to follow their courses. If you believe in God at all, you can look at some events and see intervention. That's my own position. Or, if you believe in God, you may believe that God leaves things to happen according to the material laws God established, which is usually called Deism. Given the many who we might think deserve God's benign intervention and the many who seem to deserve a lightning bolt or a gang of bears from the woods to tear them apart, a rational person could land on the Deist side as well.
Like Fran, I think the answer to the question, "Is there God?", lies beyond human understanding in this life. Unlike Fran, though, I think a person can and should apply rationality as far as it seems to apply to the idea of God. I don't know why the "postulated nature of God" precludes considering God's existence as a rational question. We lack data to reach an absolute conclusion, though. That gap becomes faith for some, doubt for others, and disproof for others yet.
My own faith journey has been over a lot of territory. I'd be awfully snotty if I sneered at anyone's sincere search or the conclusion anyone reached by sincere and careful thought, perhaps including prayer.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Definition of God: A power in the Universe greater than Longrangesniper or Christopher Dawkins that preceded them and all other powers in the Universe and in fact brought the Universe into being and was and is responsible for imposing the mathematical and scientific laws which make the Universe of energy, matter, time, atoms, particles and whatever else operate the way it does. This is the Power the "mind" of which human scientists, and computers as well, have been trying to read and figure out since science was first gleaned as a human endeavor. That's the definition. Now prove the scientific endeavor does not and has not and never has existed and the search for God and his or her scientific secrets has been a useless and fruitless endeavor these last few millenia. I doubt you can prove that so the atheistic endeavor is , to my mind, useless and empty now and always based on my understanding of what the meaning, definition and search for God as I have always understood it, and how it has scientifically worked out over time as Prof. Peter Kreeft has explained it very well.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Which is more rational?" is a question that's inapplicable to the existence (or not) of God. The matter resides in the domain of faith -- i.e., the domain of non-verifiable, non-falsifiable propositions. One must accept or reject the existence of God without being able to prove one's conclusion by evidentiary or logical means.

It would be rational to believe in God if there were a way to prove His existence. It would be rational to disbelieve in God if there were a way to disprove His existence. However, the postulated nature of God excludes both those possibilities. Which is why there's no point in arguing about it with an atheist (if you're a believer) or with a theist (if you're a disbeliever).
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a good example of why philosophers should stay away from cosmology. He's correct that the current universe as we know it had a beginning ~15 billion years ago, but he then conflates that with whatever came prior to the big bang. There's no reason to say that the big bang wasn't the result of an infinite series of oscillations in higher dimension, like some versions of M theory conjecture.

Frankly, the title question is no different than asking "which is more yellow, 15 or 72?"
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
First, define "god".

Then step in a poop pile.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy LRS
I'm your friend here. As your friend, I agree with Mark that the remark is beneath you, really.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
You have impressed us with your wit and rationality.

19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have religion because we are human. The only true atheists are the animals.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
You have delusions and denial because you're human. Man, the RATIONAL animal, forgets rationality is not automatic.

No wonder humankind is so screwed up - whims and wishes rule,
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
LongrangeSniper. I'm not sure what you're attitude is towards my comment, but, FWIW, I'm an agnostic. You're perfectly welcome to interpret my comment as meaning that "religion is a human construct," if that suits you, but that fact is that the rational animal (Man) is the one who has religion. If we of the "higher consciousness" entertain the idea that there may be a God, then it is indeed possible that there IS a God.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
--whims and wishes rule,--

Well, yeah. Some people really want to believe that we exist due to a remarkable series of random events and can set our own morality. It's pretty irrational.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Bill
I think we all do set our own morality in the end.
Some moral principles are essentially self-demonstrating: to deal honestly, to respect others' safety and property, to keep faith with your spouse(s) and children.
Others are less so: how many spouse(s)? What about those who are attracted to their own sex? Is charity a demand or a gift?
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
You should look into the law of large numbers.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Jeff
You have a good point about large numbers. One rational reason for doubting a God, or perhaps for being Deist more than Theist, is how much mass we see in the Universe that does not seem to have any real purpose. The outer planets of our own solar system do not appear to support life and it's hard to imagine a purpose for God without life. We have only wild guesses, but so far it seems that only a tiny part of the Universe is capable of supporting life as we know it.
That would support (but not prove) the idea that the Universe rolled a lot of dice and our dice came up google-plex eyes.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, if they hadn't, we wouldn't be here to wonder about it.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
True enough.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
The rules of formal logic require an intelligent, self-existing creator.

The laws of mathematics (Information Science) tell us it's no more possible for random events to produce information than it's possible to create energy out of nothing.

An objective study of Darwinism and geology (and I suspect, astronomy) will reveal a lot of leaps of logic (or rather, illogic), an abundance of circular reasoning, a heavy reliance on argument from authority, and a willful refusal to consider alternative explanations, not to mention a silencing of dissent that would make any global warming proponent green with envy.

Reason is not on the side of naturalism.

19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Mark v
You're right that we have huge areas of ignorance to fill in. The three areas you mention, though, have been used very successfully to explain some things and none of them have actually been refuted.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are quite simply wrong. The science doesn't say what you think it says.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I majored in geology, before I got sick of all the non-science. Still enjoy it at a hobby level. I took the required evolutionary biology courses, too.

A great deal of what is taught as fact is simply conjecture and assumption. Another large chunk of it is simply not true.

One example of the latter: As recently as 2000, Ernest Haekel's drawings were in a brand new university-level textbook, authored mainly by a Japanese biologist. He was asked why he included them as factual evidence for Darwinism, when they had been proven fraudulent almost as soon as Haekel published them. The content was refuted by a team of researchers in the 1980s. They are pure hoax. The respected PhD's response? "I didn't know that."

I don't doubt his honesty. He really didn't know.

They are still defended as fact today in supposedly respectable Darwinist circles.

There's the state of your "science".

19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Neither of you are "right" in the absolute sense. There may or may not be a God, Higher Intelligence, or Creator, but no interpretation of science will prove or disprove that.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, I don't assert that science proves God. It cannot. The concept is beyond the reach of science.

The laws of logic do, but that is not the same as science.

Nor can logic take us to the Christian view of God. That level of detail requires miraculous revelation, which is an entirely different subject.

What true science can and does do, is:

1. Prove that Darwinism is a fairy tale, less credible than Snow White's magic mirror.
2. Demonstrate that the most reasonable explanation for our existence is an intelligent creator, that random chance has ZERO probability of creating anything. (Hints of this are seen in how many respectable Darwinists belive in pan-spermia.)


19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's not my position that science can prove or disprove God, that's why I earlier pointed out how nonsensical the title question of the video was. My objection was to Mark v's misrepresentation of Information Theory.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Check out Shannon Claude's work. Random processes CANNOT generate information.

Vast stretches of time make it seem believable that randomness can create life. The famous million monkeys with a million years typing endlessly argument.

However, it turns out that the more you repeat a random process, the more randomization you get. More time only makes it more impossible.

If you put information into a random process you destroy it. It ceases to be information. You cannot start with random inputs into a random process and get information out.



19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
By the way, ponder SETI.

What are they looking for? Information.

Why?

Information = intelligence.
19 weeks ago
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