The idea of god by lenaprasanna


									The idea of God
 What is the idea of God? Does it make sense?
 Can we prove the existence of God just from the idea of
 What is the origin of the idea of God? Is it God? If so,
  how did we get it from God - is it innate or discovered
  in experience? Or did we invent it? Why?
What is the idea of God?
 Augustine: to think of God is to ‘attempt to conceive
  something than which nothing more excellent or
  sublime exists’ or could exist
 God as personal: intellect and will
   Perfect intellect: omniscience
   Perfect will: omnipotence, perfect goodness
 Transcendence: beyond creation, self-sufficient, non-
 spatial, without beginning or end
   Everlasting - throughout time
   Eternal - outside time
 Immanence: closely related to creation, e.g.
Puzzles about omnipotence
 Omnipotence: ‘all-powerful’: Is logic a limitation
  on God’s power?
 God can’t change logic, not because of a lack of
  power, but because any description of a logically
  impossible state of affairs or power is not a
  description at all
 ‘The power to do whatever it is possible for a
  perfect being (or the greatest possible being) to do’
The stone paradox
 Can God create a stone so heavy that he can’t lift it?
    If yes, he can’t lift it; if no, he can’t create it
 ‘The power to create a stone an omnipotent being can’t
  lift’ is logically incoherent, so it’s not a possible power.
 Or: the stone is, by definition, impossible to lift. If God
  lacks the power to lift a stone it is logically impossible
  to lift, there is still no power God lacks.
Other puzzles
 Can God know the future?
 Can God do evil?
 In what sense is God ‘good’? Is everything that God
  wills good by definition? Or is there an independent
  standard of good that God adheres to?
 Can God be transcendent and personal?
Anselm’s argument
              By definition, God is a
               being greater than
               which cannot be
              I can conceive of such a
              It is greater to exist
               than not to exist.
              Therefore, God must
Anselm on islands and God
 Gaunilo: I can conceive of the the perfect island, greater
  than which cannot be conceived. And so such an island
  must exist, because it would be less great if it didn’t.
 Anselm: An island wouldn’t cease to be what it is – an
  island – if it wasn’t perfect. Islands aren’t perfect by
  definition or ‘essentially’.
 God wouldn’t be God if there was some being even greater
  than God. Being the greatest conceivable being is an
  essential property of God.
 God’s existence is therefore necessary, while even a perfect
  island exists only contingently.
Kant’s objection
 Kant: existence is not a
  ‘perfection’, because it is
  not a predicate at all.
    To say ‘x exists’ is not to
     describe x at all or explain
     what x is. Existence is not
     part of the concept of
    To say ‘x exists’ is to say
     that some real object
     corresponds to the concept
     of x.
The origin of ‘God’
 Descartes: Innate and God-given
   The idea of God, infinite perfection, can’t be derived
    from experience
   Hume: it can be, negatively - not-finite, not-imperfect
 Experience
   Religious experience
   Experience more generally
 ‘Human construction and projection’
   Legitimate: Inference to the best explanation
   Illegitimate: Origin in emotional or social need
Invention as explanation
 Many concepts are invented in order to explain
  experience, even concepts of things we cannot directly
  experience e.g. electron, ecosystem
 If we invented the concepts because explanations
  using them are true, the concepts refer to something
  that exists
 Are explanations invoking God true? What did we use
  the first explanations invoking God for?
 ‘God of the gaps’: the concept of God filled gaps in our
  understanding of the world
   But what about cosmological argument, religious experience,
Invention and psychology: Freud
             The origins of religion in human
              history: a response to our
              vulnerability in the face of forces of
             The origins of religion in the
              individual mind: a development
              from our childhood vulnerability
              and our relationship with our father,
              whom we both fear and love
             “Thus [man’s] longing for a father is
              a motive identical with his need for
              protection against the consequences
              of his human weakness.”
Invention and psychology
 Religion is an ‘illusion’, i.e. caused by the fulfilment of
  a wish (we want it – life, the universe – to be this way).
 This doesn’t show that God doesn’t exist - only that the
  origin of the idea of God is emotional
 But this emotional need could realistic: if we are made
  by God, our deepest longing could be relationship with
  God; Freud misidentifies the nature of the need
 The idea that God will ‘make everything alright’ is not
  the childish fantasy Freud thinks it is
Invention and sociology
 Durkheim: At the level of society, religious belief promotes
  cooperation, mutual respect, solidarity, a sense of identity,
  and the basis for a collective morality and for authority in
  the society. these features help the group to survive and
 Explaining the origins of religious practices and beliefs is
  not yet to explain the origins of GOD, because even if
  human societies work better with religious belief, this is
  not to say that the concept or belief in God must be part of
  that religious belief
 Nietzsche: the idea of God is a projection of our values, an
  illusory external confirmation
 Existence of god could not be explained in words.
 Existence of god can be felt by the sincere devotions,
  meditations, concentration towards the power that
  gives him strength, wealth, respect in the society.
 God may be in any form. It may come and help us in
  many ways directly or indirectly. The faith in god
  arrived from religious preachings and ancestors ways
  of leading life.
 Power of god can’t be scaled or measured but the
  almighty possess all the powers that no one can think
  it off.

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