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Thread: Transcendental argument for the existence of God - and its anthropomorphisation

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    sane in insane places kali's Avatar
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    Red face Transcendental argument for the existence of God - and its anthropomorphisation

    The argument that moral absolutes, logical absolutes, universality, all presuppose the existence of God. In no way am I referring to the Judeochristian God, or any kind of anthropomorphised God (though that creation just might be the natural human response to this transcendental force), so get that out of your head now. (please don't look at the wikipedia page for this either, because the argument is presented SO SHITTILY no one will ever be convinced. It used to be so much better, I think some angry atheist deleted everything and put up a strawman argument.)

    I don't think I have to argue especially hard for the existence of logical absolutes, that shit proves itself.

    For the existence of moral absolutes, I will be appealing to Kantian moral philosophy, of which this argument was pretty much formulated on. For Kant, morality is weighted on the authority of autonomy of the moral agent. Complete autonomy is arrived at from free will, and for a moral agent to possess free will, she must normatively act free from extrinsic influences and manipulations. In this sense, we must see our moral actions as ends in themselves, rather than means to ends, for see things as merely means is to displace the instrinsic value of the means. That's when the categorical imperative comes in: because moral actions are weighted in instrinsic value, they can be effectively willed as universal law, for the universal law governs yet does not impede on the individual will. This is moral absolution, the alignment of moral agency and universal practical law.

    For the transcendental argument for the existence of God. This is a very a priori outlook on God, free from the empirical designations of religion, yet this argument is what ALL religions appeal to and are derived from. For to equate God to some kind of perfect standard or divine universality is to shape God with the unconditional and unwavering form of logic. Reason derived from logic, reason underpins both God and morality.

    Then God is the conceptual regulator, the form to the substance of the universe. It is the logical structure, the absence of which leads to total chaos.

    Why do we need the label "god" then? Because it is a perfect label. Language is nothing but humanity's pathetic attempt to parallel a mysterious reality with something more palpable to our senses, like symbols or sound. Every common denominator of every religion basis their idea of God off of this standard that transcends the fallibility of normal human intelligence or comprehension. God is a perfect label.

    Yet humans loathe abstractions. They need to anthropomorphise God to familiarise themselves with "him". Again, they appeal to a standard, what is the "default" human. Old white male. The bible is an anthology of fables intended to convey certain concepts in a fantastical way - that was the nature of storytelling then. To illustrate that jesus was kind, they made him heal the crippled. Whether that happened or not is irrelevant in their form of storytelling, but the message is clear: Jesus is benevolent. GOD IS CONVEYED IN THE SAME FANTASTICAL WAY. To place his residence in the clouds/heavens is to denote his transcendental nature. It is all metaphor yet the message is delivered, no matter the form of transportation.

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    I agree with the part about God. Bit where does intrinsic value come from? Are means given value by us? Or do they already exist? If they are given value by us, how can that be universal?

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    sane in insane places kali's Avatar
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    Instrinsic value = value that is free from extrinsic manipulation. So to treat things as means to an end is to displace the value of the means to the end. The means is meaningless if not for the end, that is to say (instrumental rationality). The means are meaningful if they are treated as ends in themselves: they are unconditionally valuable. Intrinsic and unconditional value naturally suggests universality.

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    Universal in the sense of "true for every outcome and situation from the perspective of one individual" or universal in the sense of "true for everyone"? If it is the latter, how can my finding something valuable make it valuable for anyone else?

    Inless the assertion is that morality demands they find it as valuable as I do, and respect that? But what if the means conflict?
    Last edited by msg_v2; 04-01-2014 at 12:38 AM.

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    Too many terms - I'm having trouble following.

    My opinions:

    • Value is completely subjective - there's no such thing as objective value; value is personal. Social agreements exist which confer value on certain objects or ideas, but those agreements can change, and those values change along with them. Gold is only valuable because people think it is. It has physical properties which are (in recent history) more and more useful in the construction of certain things, but gold's value is still a function of subjective judgments, not objective fact.
    • Morals are, thus, subjective as well.
    • There are no objective truths beyond the physical, observable universe. But we lack the capacity to perceive it accurately - so instead of perfection, we see perspectives, slivers, rounded numbers. We cannot render the perfect circle - we instead conceive of a pixelated, jagged, uneven surface made of bits and particles. The circle is an idea. The true nature of the universe is beyond us.

    For me, the fundamental questions are:

    1) Is there such a thing as "outside" the universe? (Feel free to substitute universe for multiverse or any other similar concept. The point being, the finite within the infinite. Is there such a thing as the edge?)
    2) Apply 1) to time. Consider what "before" the universe actually means
    3) If we seem to lack the capacity to answer questions 1) and 2), then the answer to those things may as well be "god", or any other placeholder for "solution to unsolvable puzzles of existence"
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

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    Limber Member floid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    The argument that moral absolutes, logical absolutes, universality, all presuppose the existence of God. In no way am I referring to the Judeochristian God, or any kind of anthropomorphised God (though that creation just might be the natural human response to this transcendental force), so get that out of your head now. (please don't look at the wikipedia page for this either, because the argument is presented SO SHITTILY no one will ever be convinced. It used to be so much better, I think some angry atheist deleted everything and put up a strawman argument.)

    I don't think I have to argue especially hard for the existence of logical absolutes, that shit proves itself.
    Logical absolutes for the sake of argument may not need to be argued for.
    And they thusly have a very limited sphere of influence.
    Useful in thought experiments only and having no value outside of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    For the existence of moral absolutes, I will be appealing to Kantian moral philosophy, of which this argument was pretty much formulated on. For Kant, morality is weighted on the authority of autonomy of the moral agent. Complete autonomy is arrived at from free will, and for a moral agent to possess free will, she must normatively act free from extrinsic influences and manipulations. In this sense, we must see our moral actions as ends in themselves, rather than means to ends, for see things as merely means is to displace the instrinsic value of the means. That's when the categorical imperative comes in: because moral actions are weighted in instrinsic value, they can be effectively willed as universal law, for the universal law governs yet does not impede on the individual will. This is moral absolution, the alignment of moral agency and universal practical law.
    Kant is still entangled in Platonic metaphysics and sees no need for an idea to be practically applicable to be useful.
    There is no absolute beyond the reach of relationality except, of course, in pure thought experiments.

    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    For the transcendental argument for the existence of God. This is a very a priori outlook on God, free from the empirical designations of religion, yet this argument is what ALL religions appeal to and are derived from. For to equate God to some kind of perfect standard or divine universality is to shape God with the unconditional and unwavering form of logic. Reason derived from logic, reason underpins both God and morality.

    Then God is the conceptual regulator, the form to the substance of the universe. It is the logical structure, the absence of which leads to total chaos.

    Why do we need the label "god" then? Because it is a perfect label. Language is nothing but humanity's pathetic attempt to parallel a mysterious reality with something more palpable to our senses, like symbols or sound. Every common denominator of every religion basis their idea of God off of this standard that transcends the fallibility of normal human intelligence or comprehension. God is a perfect label.

    Yet humans loathe abstractions. They need to anthropomorphise God to familiarise themselves with "him". Again, they appeal to a standard, what is the "default" human. Old white male. The bible is an anthology of fables intended to convey certain concepts in a fantastical way - that was the nature of storytelling then. To illustrate that jesus was kind, they made him heal the crippled. Whether that happened or not is irrelevant in their form of storytelling, but the message is clear: Jesus is benevolent. GOD IS CONVEYED IN THE SAME FANTASTICAL WAY. To place his residence in the clouds/heavens is to denote his transcendental nature. It is all metaphor yet the message is delivered, no matter the form of transportation.
    The existence of deity as an intellectual object has more to do with demystifying the fear of death (annihilation of the the individual) by conceptualizing an entity beyond it whose transcendence we hope to co-opt by intellectually understanding it. And this is the point at which religions tend to devolve into mere ways of some people having a relatively easy way of controlling large numbers of others by claiming to be able to mitigate the fear of death.

    The numinous is personal and emotional.
    Attempts to translate it outside that context have mostly failed miserably except through music and poetry.

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    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Why does the existence of a logical absolute imply or presuppose god? Logical absolutes exist because they're defined to exist. A=A is a definition.

    I don't think moral absolutes exist in any meaningful sense.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    ...humans loathe abstractions. They need to anthropomorphise God to familiarise themselves with "him"...
    In some religious traditions, God doesn't get to be anthropomorphized. I haven't seen the results to come out much different than for those traditions that encourage it, because they're all mandating a way to live.

    But any thought train that was inspired by Kant's work gets support from me. I'm a Kant fanboy.
    What's the difference? It's just soda, bro.

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    your cheapest wine Johnny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by floid View Post
    Kant is still entangled in Platonic metaphysics and sees no need for an idea to be practically applicable to be useful.
    To my understanding, Kant refused to propose or even suggest a way out of the cave for a while.

    But yeah even Kant ended up chanting "the philosopher king is dead, long live the philosopher king" at some point.
    What's the difference? It's just soda, bro.

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    sane in insane places kali's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polemarch View Post
    Too many terms - I'm having trouble following.

    My opinions:

    • Value is completely subjective - there's no such thing as objective value; value is personal. Social agreements exist which confer value on certain objects or ideas, but those agreements can change, and those values change along with them. Gold is only valuable because people think it is. It has physical properties which are (in recent history) more and more useful in the construction of certain things, but gold's value is still a function of subjective judgments, not objective fact.
    • Morals are, thus, subjective as well.
    • There are no objective truths beyond the physical, observable universe. But we lack the capacity to perceive it accurately - so instead of perfection, we see perspectives, slivers, rounded numbers. We cannot render the perfect circle - we instead conceive of a pixelated, jagged, uneven surface made of bits and particles. The circle is an idea. The true nature of the universe is beyond us.

    For me, the fundamental questions are:

    1) Is there such a thing as "outside" the universe? (Feel free to substitute universe for multiverse or any other similar concept. The point being, the finite within the infinite. Is there such a thing as the edge?)
    2) Apply 1) to time. Consider what "before" the universe actually means
    3) If we seem to lack the capacity to answer questions 1) and 2), then the answer to those things may as well be "god", or any other placeholder for "solution to unsolvable puzzles of existence"

    This is a crucial point that needs to be sorted out, yeah. Most moral theories attempt to assign a substantial basis for the weight of morality. It is not enough to say that value is completely subjective, and thus morality is completely subjective, because then any serial killer could argue for the worthlessness of agreed social contracts (like Ted Bundy with his lil treatise on moral subjectivism and how his mere delight in murdering a woman is enough basis for his normative "correctness"), and then what clear concrete basis would we have for incarcerating him? Just that he violated some flimsy arbitrary and completely socially-defined/culturally-defined rule?

    So the question is if there are intrinsic moral truths. How do we determine what is intrinsic? For this paradigm, the authority of morality lies in its freedom from external influences. If we are moral agents capable of willing freely, governed by the laws of rationality as given to us by the adequate faculty of reason, then we can be legislators of our own moral laws, and if they are substantial, of universal practical law. There are two key weights in this theory: our capability for self-determination and the logical and necessary force of reason (logic).

    Of course, this is just the ideal. We are imperfect beings of imperfect rationality. We may only approximate the standard, but that is, if we even WILL to approximate it. This is just a objective model of morality, with defined objective parameters. Whether humans conform to it is a totally different issue. (and because of Kant's deontology, might be totally irrelevant - morals exist whether or not it is action on by moral agents)




    Quote Originally Posted by floid View Post
    Kant is still entangled in Platonic metaphysics and sees no need for an idea to be practically applicable to be useful.
    There is no absolute beyond the reach of relationality except, of course, in pure thought experiments.
    I think it can be separated from platonic metaphysics. A theory that opposes consequentialist ethics is not always platonic. I think you may dream up a theory of intrinsic morality, with intrinsically normative concepts, without appealing so much to moral realism - I think although Kant does appeal to moral realism, his ideas may be reinterpretated as constructivist in many ways. We can construct our own values, and the weight of those values are not merely arbitrarily defined.




    Quote Originally Posted by floid View Post
    The existence of deity as an intellectual object has more to do with demystifying the fear of death (annihilation of the the individual) by conceptualizing an entity beyond it whose transcendence we hope to co-opt by intellectually understanding it. And this is the point at which religions tend to devolve into mere ways of some people having a relatively easy way of controlling large numbers of others by claiming to be able to mitigate the fear of death.

    The numinous is personal and emotional.
    Attempts to translate it outside that context have mostly failed miserably except through music and poetry.
    I think that's the purpose for many people, yes. But I was looking for a more basic reason for following religion.

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