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Do you believe in God?


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Do you believe in God?  

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  1. 1. Do you believe in God?

    • Yes - I believe in God.
      17
    • No - I don't believe in God.
      31
    • Agnostic - I cannot have knowledge of God's existence.
      12


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I'd like to engage you on your points, abskebabs, but that would breach a) this forums rules, b) the express requests posted in this thread by moderators and others who help maintain this site, and c) this otherwise calm and honest thread about peoples own opinions on the topic.

 

"Countering above semantic points" is exactly what makes these types of discussions heated. I've rolled around in this particular mud enough times to know that despite the sincerity and authenticy of the question, people get too worked up to remain civil. In the meantime, maybe you can review these:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism#Types_of_agnosticism

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/a/atheism.htm

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abskebabs, I think what people are saying is that theist and atheist are mutually exclusive. Now a theist believes that there is one or more gods, and an atheist does not. But an atheist does not necessarily believe that there is no god. If he does, he would be a strong atheist, but if he simply does not believe there is a god but also does not believe otherwise, then he is a weak atheist -- but atheist nonetheless.

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To Glider

Going from God-like to God is easy, due to the limitations of our human perspective. However, from a practical stand point, God-like becomes God if that is included in the definition, and my post was about the definition. In other words, we must define 'what is a god?'

Going by the majority definition of Gods that have gone before, 'creator of the world' and/or 'creator of mankind' would have to be included in the definition. As these two processes are pretty much understood, it would make the leap from God-like to God quite difficult for many.
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Going by the majority definition of Gods that have gone before, 'creator of the world' and/or 'creator of mankind' would have to be included in the definition. As these two processes are pretty much understood, it would make the leap from God-like to God quite difficult for many.

 

What of the Greek and Roman gods? They're not even completely immortal, are they?

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I have to apoogise on 2 grounds. As already noted, I understand I should perhaps be careful of turning this into some sort of heated debate, and I apologise if I gave this impression, as this was certainly not my intention.

 

Also, in my hastiness, I frankly misrepresented my own position, indeed strangely this was something I thought of when I struggled to get to bed last night, among other things...:embarass:

 

I've decided to quote myself to highlight my error.

Suppose you have a coin I cannot see, flip it and ask me whether it lands on heads or tails. If you ask me whether I believe it is heads, and I say no, it doesn't mean I believe it's tails, it could well be I just don't know, and don't care to believe in an outcome.

 

What I should have said is that just because when you ask me if believe the coin is heads, and I say no, I do not equate this to being the same as saying "I don't believe the coin lands on heads.", hence I am inserting an assertion I make about the conclusion.

 

I guess it boils down to a quibble over semantics. To me, to be agnostic about an outcome should be simply that you just don't know. An atheist to me should be someone who disbelieves in god, as I view that as an active, rather than passive verb. I guess my conception doesn't abide with colloquially alluded definitions of both atheism and agnosticism, though it does seem more consistent to me.

 

I also concede the points earlier posters made about the possibillity of having both a) and c) as a position, as well as b) and c).

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That's hardly the "majority definition" though. Not a lot of folks going to church every Sunday to pray to Thor and Apollo.

 

Just because people don't pray to them doesn't mean that they aren't considered gods. Most people in the US don't pray to Allah, but they still consider him a god. I'm pretty sure most people consider Thor and Apollo gods.

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Mr Skeptic is correct. There are numerous gods that are not considered creators of the universe. There are many that are worshipped today, such as those in the Hindu pantheon. I do not know of any clear definition of god or goddess, except to say that they are beings with powers far greater than human. Even wisdom is not necessary, since many minor gods have been portrayed as foolish.

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Firstly, believing is not the same as knowing. As well, knowing can can be grounded upon a belief system. These are complex and philosophical issues, subject to endless debate. Further, any definition of God is categorically distinct from that which constitutes human understanding. Otherwise, we would not be engaged in this discussion. Why is God unknowable? Why is God an unthinkable thought? To think anything, one must have a frame of reference. A point of reference, grounded in reality. Otherwise thought are speculative and philosophical. Perhaps God does exist, yet God cannot exist as a belief, only a fact of self-evident knowledge. As with belief, one must question the nature and condition of knowledge. There is an inherent difficult in accessing ultimate knowledge and understanding. It seem clear in order to approach and understanding such questions, one must acknowledge the degree that conditioning has influenced, if not determined the results. If God does exist and is subject human understanding, this necessitates, not "ordinary" knowledge, but direct knowledge. Direct knowledge is transcendental; not subject to conditional understanding or reflection. Why would we assume that establishing a connection with the ultimate fact lies within out thought processes? Clearly, it is our thought processes that create only speculative and debatable concepts of God. Direct perception is a paradigm shift, and requires freedom from conditional thinking. Opinion and tradition are a block to direct perception. God is not God, in term of our present ideation. One cannot hope to experience God in terms of thoughts and definitions. Again, we are attempting to access the unknown with the know. Is that not a categorical error. A different approach is necessary. I cannot offer a well defined method, short of transcending conditioned thoughts and habits. This requires absolute sincerity, and a compelling need to change. Unfortunately, conditioned thinking is well established, and the most difficult process to transcend. Acknowledging that one is conditioned, and therefore limited is the beginning of genuine understanding. In a real sense, we must institute a self-conscious discipline in order to monitor and understand the nature and origin of our thought processes, and arrest reflective thinking and responses. There is an understandable resistances to this method. One will think and act differently to most of their friends, neighbors, and family. Yet, eventually what is achieved is a quality of mindfulness that will lead to true self-knowledge, and the very conditions that allow for a direct perception of God. Not the God, as defined in any particular religion. But the God that accords with your innate understanding; a truly personal God. Not an entity, but a principle that connects you with the world and the universe. God consciousness is the acquire ability to experience your place in the universe, and the undefinable oneness of all things. In a real way it is like coming home, but in an ultimate sense. Of course, words cannot necessary persuade or inform this truth.

Edited by johnbrandy
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Just because people don't pray to them doesn't mean that they aren't considered gods. Most people in the US don't pray to Allah, but they still consider him a god.
I'm fairly confident most Americans don't consider Allah a God in the same way they consider 'God' a god.
I'm pretty sure most people consider Thor and Apollo gods.
I think you are equivocating on the word 'God'. Most people in the US have fairly firm beliefs concerning God (and his role in the origin of the Universe). Whilst I am sure they are aware of Thor and Apollo et al., I think it's more likely that they consider them characters from Norse/Greek mythology. I seriously doubt they consider them 'Gods' in any real sense of the word. Otherwise, it would be more like ancient Rome, where the population recognised and acknowledged a whole range of gods, but built family shrines to their favourites.

 

Having said that, it's very hard to be certain, as even the Judeo-Christian God acknowledged other gods. Otherwise the commandment 'Thou shalt hold no other Gods before me.' would have been unnecessary.

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I'm fairly confident most Americans don't consider Allah a God in the same way they consider 'God' a god.

 

I'm pretty sure that most people consider Hobbits and Elves to be people, but not in the same way that they consider humans to be people. IE, people would consider Thor, Apollo, Allah, etc, non-existent rather than non-god. Allah in particular is almost the same as Yahweh as far as I know, but may have some different personality traits and chose a different lineage (Arabs rather than Jews) to carry his blessing.

 

To put it another way, Yahweh, Allah, Thor, Apollo, etc., are all gods in the way an atheist considers them to be gods.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged
Having said that, it's very hard to be certain, as even the Judeo-Christian God acknowledged other gods. Otherwise the commandment 'Thou shalt hold no other Gods before me.' would have been unnecessary.

 

Yep, they were called false gods even by Yahweh himself.

Edited by Mr Skeptic
Consecutive posts merged.
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I guess I'm missing your point here. I accept the notion that we are discussing an ambiguiously defined three letter word in this thread, but I if were to pop up a poll, I'm relatively confident that more than 97% of respondants in this thread are referring to a creator god based on monotheistic and/or Abrahamic religions. In other words, Mr Skeptic, I'm pretty sure that YOU are the ONLY one here bringing up Greco-Roman mythology to make some point, and I agree with Glider that you are equivocating and conflating the term, ultimatley distracting everyone from the root of the discussion and nothing more.

 

I will happily concede my position and retract my above comments if you can answer my opening question satisfactorily. What is your point? When a person asks "Do you believe in God," we know damn well what they mean, and there is no need to stop to ask "which god?"

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I will happily concede my position and retract my above comments if you can answer my opening question satisfactorily. What is your point? When a person asks "Do you believe in God," we know damn well what they mean, and there is no need to stop to ask "which god?"

 

Well, yes and no. Presumably the person asking has something in mind, and that's almost always some version of the Abrahamic God, but even that means all sorts of things to different people. And so even though questioner and questionee might have something in mind and usually each assume it's the same thing, it very often either isn't the same thing, or one or both have something vague in mind that it's a meaningless question.

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I do not think that reference to any non-Abrahamic god is at all sneaky. Most human cultures over the past few thousand years have believed in non Abrahamic gods. The natives of my land believed in Rangi (sky god), Papa (Earth goddess), Tane (god of the forest), Tangaroa (god of the sea) and so on. The Hindus currently believe in a pantheon of various gods, with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva at the top. If we are talking about human belief in god, we cannot ignore the very real belief in a range of gods and goddesses held by numerous human cultures. Otherwise we are indulging in religious chauvinism.

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i believe in some form of god. i definitely beleive in some form of karma.

who knows, maybe with the creation of life on earth through eveloution and the right ingrediants came another "being" thats just not on our radar somehow, and just happens to be everywhere, so [{he/she} dont want to say it}] is kind of "all knowing".

anyways, i am a scientific person and i think that through the evidence of just my experinces have close to proven that theres some form of karma for me at least. im not getting all spiritual or hippi either.

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I guess I'm missing your point here. I accept the notion that we are discussing an ambiguiously defined three letter word in this thread, but I if were to pop up a poll, I'm relatively confident that more than 97% of respondants in this thread are referring to a creator god based on monotheistic and/or Abrahamic religions.

 

Your wish is my command, let the forum members speak.

 

Which of these are gods?

 

I'd also mention what Wikipedia has to say about whether Apollo and Thor are gods, but I'll just leave it as a link here so as not to bias the results of the poll.

 

In other words, Mr Skeptic, I'm pretty sure that YOU are the ONLY one here bringing up Greco-Roman mythology to make some point, and I agree with Glider that you are equivocating and conflating the term, ultimatley distracting everyone from the root of the discussion and nothing more.

 

My intention is only to clarify, not to confuse. I submit that it is the question "What is a god" that is confusing.

 

I will happily concede my position and retract my above comments if you can answer my opening question satisfactorily. What is your point?

 

My point is that the meaning of "god" is ambiguous making the poll somewhat ambiguous (and also in regard to SkepticLance's questions concerning "godlike" aliens -- I'm guessing most people would like their definition of a god to not include advanced alien species). My other point is that an atheist is not necessarily a Strong Atheist, so that an agnostic atheist would fit two of the categories in the poll.

 

When a person asks "Do you believe in God," we know damn well what they mean, and there is no need to stop to ask "which god?"

 

Only because "God" is taken to mean Yahweh here in the states. The question would have different meaning depending on who asked it, or even be meaningless in a culture where there are several gods or which believes in pantheism by default. Let me counter with a different question: Can someone who believes in Thor and that Thor is something more than a human, be called an atheist?

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Your wish is my command, let the forum members speak.

 

Which of these are gods?

 

I'd also mention what Wikipedia has to say about whether Apollo and Thor are gods, but I'll just leave it as a link here so as not to bias the results of the poll.

 

 

 

My intention is only to clarify, not to confuse. I submit that it is the question "What is a god" that is confusing.

 

 

 

My point is that the meaning of "god" is ambiguous making the poll somewhat ambiguous (and also in regard to SkepticLance's questions concerning "godlike" aliens -- I'm guessing most people would like their definition of a god to not include advanced alien species). My other point is that an atheist is not necessarily a Strong Atheist, so that an agnostic atheist would fit two of the categories in the poll.

 

 

 

Only because "God" is taken to mean Yahweh here in the states. The question would have different meaning depending on who asked it, or even be meaningless in a culture where there are several gods or which believes in pantheism by default. Let me counter with a different question: Can someone who believes in Thor and that Thor is something more than a human, be called an atheist?

 

Pretty much nothing you've said was relevant to my point. I was NOT asking for people to select which mythologies represented gods, nor was I asking if people outside of the US and in more tribal regions believe in non-Abrahamic gods.

 

No. I was doing none of that.

 

I was asking what people thought here on SFN, in this very thread, was being referred to when asked to vote on the question, "Do you believe in god?"

 

The idea I am looking into is how voters here were defining the term, not how people in non-technological societies would define the term, nor to determine if the countless conceits laying dead in the graveyard of human mythology could be classified as gods.

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I'm pretty sure that most people consider Hobbits and Elves to be people, but not in the same way that they consider humans to be people.
Really? Are you sure? I think you are still equivocating. This time between belief in the existence of a character in a story and belief in the actual existence of that character (e.g. the difference between the lead in a fictional novel and the subject of a biography).

 

IE, people would consider Thor, Apollo, Allah, etc, non-existent rather than non-god. Allah in particular is almost the same as Yahweh as far as I know, but may have some different personality traits and chose a different lineage (Arabs rather than Jews) to carry his blessing.
I think the thing that is troubling me here (as before) is your use of the idea of God (a character in a book) Vs God (an actual creative force in the Universe).

 

The sentence "people would consider Thor, Apollo, Allah, etc, non-existent rather than non-god" is the tricky one because if true, then it requires those people to hold to the argument 'X does not exist, but X is a God'. This argument only makes sense if the original question was 'Do you believe in the existance of God characters in ancient cultural mythology?'. If that was the original question, then my answer is yes. I do not believe that Ammon Ra, Horus, Anubis, et al. exist, but I believe they were Gods, in the same way as I do not believe Long John Silver exists (or existed), but I believe he was a pirate.

 

However, that was not the original question. The original question was 'Do you believe in God?' (with the addendum 'use any common definition you like'). In this case we are being asked not about the existence of a character in a myth, but (by most common definitions), the existence of a creative and intelligent force in the Universe that has a direct interest in human affairs. In those terms, the agrument 'I don't believe X exists, but X is a God' makes absolutely no sense.

 

I certainly belive the character in the books exists (as a character in the books), and as such is a God. However, I do not believe a Universal creative intelligence with an interest in human affairs exists and so the question of whether or not that force is a God is as pointless as the question 'Do you believe Bertrand Russel's celestial tea pot actually contains tea?'

 

To put it another way, Yahweh, Allah, Thor, Apollo, etc., are all gods in the way an atheist considers them to be gods.
Yes, they are all characters in stories and exist as such. But that was not the original question.

 

 

Yep, they were called false gods even by Yahweh himself.
In this, Yaweh (the character) and I agree. Even though all three Abrahamic religions acknowledge certain commonalities, each of them considers the other two to be fundamentally false. I agree with all three of them. Edited by Glider
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The sentence "people would consider Thor, Apollo, Allah, etc, non-existent rather than non-god" is the tricky one because if true, then it requires those people to hold to the argument 'X does not exist, but X is a God'.

 

Well, I got news for you... it is true. Look at how Wikipedia (or any source that talks about them) classifies Thor and company, or my poll. In any case, why does it confuse you that something can belong in a category and yet not exist? Will you also insist that a magenta swan is not an animal (rather than that magenta swans don't exist)?

 

This argument only makes sense if the original question was 'Do you believe in the existance of God characters in ancient cultural mythology?'.

 

The argument is that an individual's belief in the existence of any one of multiple different things would be sufficient for him to answer "yes". One of the things being, for example, the universe (see pantheism). I am guessing that you believe in the universe's existence, but why did you answer "no" on the poll? Someone who believes the universe is God will wonder why there are so many people who don't believe the universe exists.

 

If you think I don't make sense, odds are you aren't understanding what I am saying.

 

I must admit however, that I missed the capitalization of God. Since some people are taught to always capitalize "god", I translated that to god, because God usually refers to a specific god, but the OP said to use any common definition, which could include various deities, and as such would not make sense if it really meant "God". However, the capitalization, if intentional, would exclude all, or all but the strongest, in a pantheon of gods. Thor and Apollo may be gods, but I've never heard anyone refer to them as God. I'll go ahead and ask the OP whether he meant God or god.

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Well, I got news for you... it is true. Look at how Wikipedia (or any source that talks about them) classifies Thor and company, or my poll.
It should be noted that the header from your link in post #68 reads; “List of Greek mythological figures”. The word ‘mythological’ is the operative. In any event, Wikipedia also classifies Long John Silver as a pirate, Biggles as a WWI fighter pilot and states that “Commander Sir James Bond, (KCMG, RNVR) is an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) (more commonly, MI6)”. My question is, what would you have me say about my beliefs concerning these characters?

 

As I have indicated, I am quite happy to accept that these characters exist as characters in literature. I would not be happy for that to be taken as a statement regarding my beliefs concerning reality (i.e. that I believe they exist(ed) as people or deities). This is where your equivocation becomes an issue. Which question are you asking?

 

In any case, why does it confuse you that something can belong in a category and yet not exist? Will you also insist that a magenta swan is not an animal (rather than that magenta swans don't exist)?
It doesn’t confuse me at all. I’m just happier when people don’t try to blur the line between fiction and reality.

 

In reality, the statement ‘A magenta swan is an animal’ is predicated on the existence of a magenta swan. If a magenta swan does not exist, then it cannot be an animal. This is a fairly simple concept. However, if a magenta swan appears as a character in some fictional tale, then I am more than happy to accept the idea of that fictional swan being magenta, or that it speaks, or that it is magic, or that it was Zeus in disguise when he raped Leda, in the same way that I am happy to accept the idea that Long John Silver was a pirate. Fictional characters can belong to whatever categories and possess whatever characteristics their authors wish. The whole thing only gets confusing when you equivocate between reality and fiction.

 

The original question “Do you believe in God?” seems to me to be asking people to state their belief concerning the current state of reality, and not whether they believe there is a whole pantheon of God characters in literature. I may be wrong. In any case, if it will make you happy, my answers to these entirely different questions are no and yes, respectively.

 

The argument is that an individual's belief in the existence of any one of multiple different things would be sufficient for him to answer "yes". One of the things being, for example, the universe (see pantheism).
What?

 

I am guessing that you believe in the universe's existence, but why did you answer "no" on the poll? Someone who believes the universe is God will wonder why there are so many people who don't believe the universe exists.
I accept the Universe exists (belief has little to do with it). However, I would not be prepared to respond to any poll in which a positive response to one category equates to a positive response to all categories. Further, I would not be willing to have my positive response to the question ‘Do you believe the Universe exists’ misinterpreted by the logic; ‘He believes the Universe exists; the Universe is God; therefore he believes God exists’. If you want clear, unequivocal and unambiguous answers, you must ask clear, unequivocal and unambiguous questions.

 

If you think I don't make sense, odds are you aren't understanding what I am saying.
Or possibly that you are not making yourself clear. You are the author of your own argument. The onus is on you to make it clear to the reader, not on the reader to divine your meaning from ambiguous or equivocal statements.
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I like how the non-theistic posters in this thread have to discuss exactly what is meant by the poll, whereas the theistic ones can just say "yes."

 

Does it really have to be this complicated?

 

The theist should know what they believe, right?

 

As for the atheists, it's a bit harder because there's too many definitions and none were explicitly stated.

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