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is GOD just our imagination?


DevilSolution
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It has to matter to both religious and non-religious people whether God is just a creature of the imagination or not. For the religious, if it is an imaginative artifact, then while it may be a useful organizing principle to orient thinking about the world, it is ultimately just a hypothesis, an unproven 'what if' which provides no assurance that that orientation is valid. For the non-religious, proving to everyone that God is just a feature of the imagination is important for ensuring that society does not pass foolish laws against assisted suicide, free access to abortion, sexual freedom, etc., based on the superstitions associated with the supposed reality of a being whose bare existence settles arguments about social policy.

I don't think mindless dogmatism is the only obstacle to legalizing/validating the practices you mention. Utopians too often assume that if a certain cultural obstacle to their goals was removed, nothing else would take its place. It may be that many people are clinging to "God's existence" because they haven't yet found a better basis for pursuing the policies and culture they favor. Reasonable discussion doesn't work so well directly in matters that are naturally resistant to value-freedom such as those involving sex, death, etc.

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It's just the false people who make up their false observations, false representations, and false rationalizations. Economics does a pretty good job of upholding order in a (somewhat) enlightened world. Thankfully, at least some are better at it than others. What is the need for religion other than as a meeting place for like-minded individuals and establishing order, which our laws AND SOCIETY are independently fairly capability of upholding. There is a planet underneath me. It has much more potential energy than I could ever dream of having. It gives life and can take it, though probably not on purpose. In that sense, I believe in some sort of higher power, as our laws are really man-made, the ones that matter. If a thundercloud showed up and subliminally instructed a smarter than average animal how to act civilized, then that is somewhat within the realm of reason, but definitely not proven and doesn't really give license to kill every other clan in it's path. Since moses' director doesn't really show up anywhere else in the Bible, as explained, then all of the other 'instructions' can really only be chalked up to assumptions based on an assumed divine right, which brings us back to the killing of families called heathens, but whatever. I'm kind of digressing. I believe in this planet under me, and I believe in our laws designed and approved by us, and I believe in our culture which pretty much dictates acceptable behavior when our law doesn't, as those who don't are typically shunned from the majority of society. So basically the conclusion is that what is religion or even God really necessary for (for all those law-abiding, morally centered, socially contracted atheists out there), in light of all these human-approved designs we have in place? Yes, I acknowledge that the media has its ability to promote television shows about the inner workings and "normalcy" of splinter group relationships, but I really don't see the overwhelming majority of the masses being affected by it, other than the mistreated females with a chip on their shoulders, et al.

Edited by Realitycheck
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Morality need not be tied to religion. There are moral atheists. There are immoral clergy.

 

How morality and democracy can possibly depend on "understanding the laws of nature" eludes me. Were the ancient Greeks uniformly immoral and was Athens not a democracy ?

 

I am certainly glad to hear that either God will conform to the laws of nature or else (and that you can handle the "or else" part). You had better get to work on "the miracle of the five loaves and two fish". Let us know how you work that out with the Vatican and all Protestant religions.

 

Your stance in dictating acceptable behavior for God rather reminds me of the local religious leaders who stated that God was only allowed to speak directly to their named prophet (and presumably He must first fill out the proper forms in triplicate and have them approved by the apostles). If you are a believer is this not a rather contradictory position ? [Einstein: "God does not roll dice." Bohr: "Einstein, don't tell God what to do."]

 

Tying religion to politics is far more dangerous than tying it to science. I seem to recall that pursuit of freedom of religion resulted in the founding of a nation. We have fought wars to make sure that your philosophy would not be implemented.

The Constitution of the U.S. was written to prevent just such an event.

 

 

Who is tying morality to religion? Not me. I believe the God of Abraham is mythology that prevents us from knowing truth, and prevents us from understanding democracy.

 

How morality and democracy can possibly depend on "understanding the laws of nature" eludes me. Were the ancient Greeks uniformly immoral and was Athens not a democracy ?

 

This is an excellent question and one I would love to answer, however, your next statement appears to be an impertinent statement that causes me to doubt your sincerity.

 

I am certainly glad to hear that either God will conform to the laws of nature or else (and that you can handle the "or else" part). You had better get to work on "the miracle of the five loaves and two fish". Let us know how you work that out with the Vatican and all Protestant religions.

 

Do not badger me with insincere arguments. It is a waste of my time to respond to those who are not sincere and leads to bad things, like mods stepping in and using their power to the enforce rules.

 

It has to matter to both religious and non-religious people whether God is just a creature of the imagination or not. For the religious, if it is an imaginative artifact, then while it may be a useful organizing principle to orient thinking about the world, it is ultimately just a hypothesis, an unproven 'what if' which provides no assurance that that orientation is valid. For the non-religious, proving to everyone that God is just a feature of the imagination is important for ensuring that society does not pass foolish laws against assisted suicide, free access to abortion, sexual freedom, etc., based on the superstitions associated with the supposed reality of a being whose bare existence settles arguments about social policy.

 

I love your reply! :wub: Especially this phrase "useful organizing principle to orient thinking about the world". The rest of your sentence, "it is ultimately just a hypothesis, an unproven 'what if' which provides no assurance that that orientation is valid." Is a good statement, and I guess I am lucky that I am okay with not being sure. I am okay with believing as soon as we think we know God, we know God not, but only what we think we know. To know God we must be okay with what we do not know. This is more a matter of feeling than intellect, isn't it?

 

The holy books say God is beyond our comprehension and unknowable, and we should not be too sure about what we think we know. Christianity didn't give people the sense of assurance that they would have immortality in the good place, because most people feared going to hell! I guess they feared even more what humans would do without this fear? When all they had to read was the bible, and few had any schooling other than bible school, they could not know better, but then came literacy in Greek and Roman classics, and our Statue of Liberty holds a book for literacy and a torch for the enlightenment that results from being literate. We came to know ourselves and God without the mythology of the bible. Oh yeah, that is a good thing. :D

 

What does proving there is or isn't a God have to do with laws about assisted suicide? That is something between the individual and God and government should stay out of it! This is a matter of a question of authority, and the most important reason for us to agree there is a God. Our liberty depends to a large degree, on believing in a higher authority, and being passionate about this, and therefore passionate about keeping government out of our private lives.

 

Remember what happened to Germany. This is what I fear most. The horrors Germany committed in the past, are possible when people believe man is the highest authority. The Germans had become overly obedient to authority, and I fear in the US we are repeating this mistake, because we adopted the German model of education, and praise efficiency and worship the God of technology. On all levels we have become reliant on the experts, and have given up our sense of authority, to submit to the authority of another. The biggest problem I seem to have in these discussions is the lack of literacy in Greek and Roman classics, and I have notice at the college level German philosophy has replaced classical philosophy. What we do not know can hurt us. Now every discussion of morals is assumed to be a religious discussion, and every mention of God is assumed to be about the God of Abraham. You all have done better than people in other forums, but still I find the lack of literacy a barrier to discussion, and this frightens me. Kudos to the moderators here for not banning me for speaking of God as though God exist. They appear to have a better understanding of the importance of freedom of speech. Now if we can just work on what God has to do with the rest of our freedoms, I will be very happy.

 

Cicero explained we are compelled to do the right thing. From many sources around the world, we are told man is a reasonable creature, and it is because of our capacity of reason that we are compelled to do the right thing. Our democracy was doing great, until we get to Freud and destroy the notion that we are reasonable creatures. When we did this, religion raised its ugly head, and shook a threatening figure at us, saying, "see I told you you are sinners", and education for technology dropped education for good moral judgement and left that to the church. We are in a real mess right now. My point is, we need literacy in the classics to discuss the human condition and God in a different way, and this is urgently important to our liberty and the future of democracy.

Edited by Athena
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While believing that God endows people with certain liberties could be used as a mythological argument to oppose the oppression of individuals in a state which relied on majority opinion as the justification for its tyranny, God seems to be an ultimately weak support for individual freedom, since it is itself an opaque, metaphysical concept which can be filled with a variety of notions justifying tyranny. Thus in the Islamic world, adulterers can be stoned to death because the mysterious notion of God, presupposed to be endowed with all power and justice whatever predicates might be packed into its opacity, can be cited to authorize this abuse.

 

But in contrast, if we oppose government tyranny not by attempting to sustain human autonomy by reference to God endorsing it, but instead insist that human autonomy is in itself already a foundational value requiring no further external or mythological support to validate it, then we have a more secure basis for liberty, since our foundation is only in liberty -- a transparent concept that can be rationally explicated -- rather than in God, an mythological concept which might turn out to contain unexpected contents like a justification for Sharia law.

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While believing that God endows people with certain liberties could be used as a mythological argument to oppose the oppression of individuals in a state which relied on majority opinion as the justification for its tyranny, God seems to be an ultimately weak support for individual freedom, since it is itself an opaque, metaphysical concept which can be filled with a variety of notions justifying tyranny. Thus in the Islamic world, adulterers can be stoned to death because the mysterious notion of God, presupposed to be endowed with all power and justice whatever predicates might be packed into its opacity, can be cited to authorize this abuse.

 

But in contrast, if we oppose government tyranny not by attempting to sustain human autonomy by reference to God endorsing it, but instead insist that human autonomy is in itself already a foundational value requiring no further external or mythological support to validate it, then we have a more secure basis for liberty, since our foundation is only in liberty -- a transparent concept that can be rationally explicated -- rather than in God, an mythological concept which might turn out to contain unexpected contents like a justification for Sharia law.

 

I love argumentation with you. I use this fancy word because awhile back someone assumed a negative meaning of the word "argument". I want to make a make point, that arguing is how we stimulate thinking, and it causes us to think about what we think, and the process improves our ability to think, our knowledge and hopefully, our decision making. And all this leads into my reply.

 

For the sake of argument, I will say God is the creative and controlling force of the universe. This God is not a He, it is not a personality, it is not a Father, and it is not like a human. I am sure this is the concept of God many used when arguing for human autonomy. Is the God of Abraham the same God? I think not. There is a huge and important difference between the unknown God assumed to be creative and controlling force of the universe and the God of Abraham.

 

How do we learn of the creative and controlling force of the universe? How do we come to understand cause and effect and make moral decisions? How do we learn of the God of Abraham and Shari Law?

Edited by Athena
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I love argumentation with you.

 

For the sake of argument, I will say God is the creative and controlling force of the universe.

 

how many idiots can we find on a science forum too argue that 0 = 1? /me looks around

 

You dont have to disagree with an opinion for it to effect your thinking, infact its quite the opposite i think your trying to impose an opinion on someone who doesnt accept it by arguing, this is why arguing is bad. We as humans are curious by nature so no-one really needs anything forcing on them (this usually causes the opposed intention btw)..if there is some truth out there we will all unltimately find out our own form of it and we must accept that we do this everyday in our lives, we all accept some fundamental truth be it good or bad.

 

also theres a difference between understanding something and agreeing.... XD

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I assume that it is trivially true that there is a 'creative and controlling force of the universe,' which physicists might describe as the equilibrium point between entropy and enthalpy, or as some implication the conservation of energy, or as a consequence of the Big Bang, etc. It you define the universe as the totality of everything physical, then obviously its creative and controlling force is also something physically present in it as an aspect of it, there to be identified by natural science.

 

The God hypothesis, in contrast, seems to require that this creative and controlling force be something outside of nature, having a different character from it, and somehow acting on it from without. This seems to be how Aristotle, who spoke of a kind of God qua demiurge, as the first uncaused cause of everything, seemed to conceive it. Often, as part of the God hypothesis, that creative and controlling force is also said to be aware of itself.

 

But I can't think of any evidence for moving from the 'creative and controlling force of the universe' described in the first paragraph, which is non-controversially real, to the supra-natural, external, possibly self-aware 'creative and controlling force of the universe' discussed in the second paragraph.

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I assume that it is trivially true that there is a 'creative and controlling force of the universe,' which physicists might describe as the equilibrium point between entropy and enthalpy, or as some implication the conservation of energy, or as a consequence of the Big Bang, etc. It you define the universe as the totality of everything physical, then obviously its creative and controlling force is also something physically present in it as an aspect of it, there to be identified by natural science.

 

The God hypothesis, in contrast, seems to require that this creative and controlling force be something outside of nature, having a different character from it, and somehow acting on it from without. This seems to be how Aristotle, who spoke of a kind of God qua demiurge, as the first uncaused cause of everything, seemed to conceive it. Often, as part of the God hypothesis, that creative and controlling force is also said to be aware of itself.

 

But I can't think of any evidence for moving from the 'creative and controlling force of the universe' described in the first paragraph, which is non-controversially real, to the supra-natural, external, possibly self-aware 'creative and controlling force of the universe' discussed in the second paragraph.

 

Okay, I think greater awareness of Greek and Roman philosophy would help. Christianity is very much the result of mixed religious concepts and Greek philosophy, but the church, including Islam swing back and forth on this, using Greek philosophy and science to support their religious arguments, and then turning on both as pagan and the lies of Satan.

 

I continually come back to this point because it is essential to democracy and liberty. A moral is a matter of cause and effect. We choose the right thing, when we know enough, because we know that is the only way to good results. Choosing the wrong thing leads to trouble, although it may take 3 generations for the trouble to be realized. This is so, because that is how the universe works. When we have open discuss of God and morals we realize this. Insisting there is no God, prevents the discussion of how things work that we need to have, and this is as harmful to our consciousness, as the church preventing freedom of speech. It makes democracy quite impossible. Democracy is rule by reason, not the rule of some over others, but we need literacy in the classics to understand this.

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I think the essence of our disagreement is in your statement that "insisting there is no God prevents the discussion of how things work that we need to have." To me it seems that resorting to the God-hypothesis where the data that we can generally agree exist don't strictly require it is where our confusions begin. If the organization of our experience forces us to posit the existence of some hypothetical structure, such as energy conservation, the interplanetary aether, the fact that nothing happens without a cause, etc., -- by logic and by the strict rule that we posit nothing more than we are absolutely required to posit in order to represent the implications of our empirical data -- then we can be sure that we do not introduce into our thinking any unjustified inferences which may later lead us down the wrong path.

 

The problem with the God-hypothesis is that it seems to go way beyond the available and neutrally agreed upon empirical data available to support it. So once we start admitting things which are not strictly required by the non-controversial data we have, we open an endless regress in our thinking which allows us to posit that in addition to the electrical current explaining how flicking on a switch turns on the light, we can also assert that the electricity fairy is required to carry the electrons, even though we have no specific empirical evidence, and no inference from the empirical evidence requires, that we posit the electricity fairy. Once we say that, why not then add that the electricity fairy has to be carried by the invisible fairy-carrying hare, and so on ... ?

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  • 1 month later...

I think the essence of our disagreement is in your statement that "insisting there is no God prevents the discussion of how things work that we need to have." To me it seems that resorting to the God-hypothesis where the data that we can generally agree exist don't strictly require it is where our confusions begin. If the organization of our experience forces us to posit the existence of some hypothetical structure, such as energy conservation, the interplanetary aether, the fact that nothing happens without a cause, etc., -- by logic and by the strict rule that we posit nothing more than we are absolutely required to posit in order to represent the implications of our empirical data -- then we can be sure that we do not introduce into our thinking any unjustified inferences which may later lead us down the wrong path.

 

The problem with the God-hypothesis is that it seems to go way beyond the available and neutrally agreed upon empirical data available to support it. So once we start admitting things which are not strictly required by the non-controversial data we have, we open an endless regress in our thinking which allows us to posit that in addition to the electrical current explaining how flicking on a switch turns on the light, we can also assert that the electricity fairy is required to carry the electrons, even though we have no specific empirical evidence, and no inference from the empirical evidence requires, that we posit the electricity fairy. Once we say that, why not then add that the electricity fairy has to be carried by the invisible fairy-carrying hare, and so on ... ?

 

is this empirically correct..... god is everything...the good the bad and the ugly, yet we have some form of release from whatever we define as the "bad" by using our imagination to create something "good", could we create scientific data for this hypothesis and create a god from science?, is it possible to surpass the dogma surrounding all forms of religion by simply defining god in scientific terms as everything and then go on to say we use our imaginations to manipulate this everything? could we even go on to say that by defining god as everything in empirical terms everything is just another way of saying "everything we have learned as a combined species " , this way we dont get god confused with the unknown however we can use our imagination (generally speaking) to expand upon god....... XD

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When Spinoza identified God with all that exists, he was accused of atheism for not affirming the separate existence of God.

 

I think that everyone agrees with the utterly trivial point that all the power, all the knowability, all the potential future states, all the good, and all the evil of the universe 'exists' as the universe. The essential point of the theists, however, is that all of this exists apart from the universe with the 'evil' subtracted out of it and left either in the physical world or in human nature or both. I don't know how anyone could ascend to a sufficiently universal perspective to be able to know that a sorting out of these features on such a vast scale was real so that he could reasonably affirm belief in a 'God' as the separate and distinct embodiment just of the power, knowledge, prevision, and goodness everywhere throughout the universe.

 

But if God can't be affirmed as this, and he is identified with the physical universe or merely instantiated as something in our imagination, then 'God' seems just to be a rather empty, pointless nickname we give to the universe, certain positive aspects of it, or a kind of imagining we have now and then.

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A coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of god can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, then the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless.

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doG - neither of those assertions are unchallengable.

 

We have no coherent definition of dark energy - yet we have a meaningful discussion about that; ditto love, beauty ...

 

The notion of falsifiablity only has traction in purely scientific realms - your argument would apply to all philosophies and much else.

 

It is no more possible to prove (or disprove) the existence of God scientifically than it is to prove the world is round musically. (orig Laurie Taylor I think)

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A coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of god can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, then the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless.

 

so god must be dogma or meaningless? why cant "god" be the intermediate between what we know as far as science is concerned aswell as using our imagination to build upon it?

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so god must be dogma or meaningless? why cant "god" be the intermediate between what we know as far as science is concerned aswell as using our imagination to build upon it?

No, what I'm saying is that god must be a coherently defined term in order to argue about it. What is the point in 2 people arguing about the existence of god when they each have their own definition of god? If you're going to argue about the existence of something, anything, then you first need to agree on what that something is or the argument of existence is meaningless.

 

doG - neither of those assertions are unchallengable.

 

We have no coherent definition of dark energy - yet we have a meaningful discussion about that; ditto love, beauty ...

 

The notion of falsifiablity only has traction in purely scientific realms - your argument would apply to all philosophies and much else.

 

It is no more possible to prove (or disprove) the existence of God scientifically than it is to prove the world is round musically. (orig Laurie Taylor I think)

Strawman, not the same at all. We know that there exists some matter that is inferred to exist from gravitational effects on visible matter and gravitational lensing of background radiation and we lump it into a container term as dark matter for the purpose of discussing what it is. We do know that it exists.

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Strawman, not the same at all. We know that there exists some matter that is inferred to exist from gravitational effects on visible matter and gravitational lensing of background radiation and we lump it into a container term as dark matter for the purpose of discussing what it is. We do know that it exists.

Nice of you to highlight your own strawman in advance. I did not mention dark matter :)

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Nice of you to highlight your own strawman in advance. I did not mention dark matter :)

Oh, now you're claiming dark matter has nothing to do with dark energy. You need to try arguing that point over in the physics forum.

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Oh, now you're claiming dark matter has nothing to do with dark energy.

No he didn't. And even if he did, there isn't anything to suggest dark energy and dark matter have anything to do with each other. Don't dig yourself deeper just because you're wrong.

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No he didn't. And even if he did, there isn't anything to suggest dark energy and dark matter have anything to do with each other. Don't dig yourself deeper just because you're wrong.

Wrong about what? That you need to define what you're arguing about before arguing about it?

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doG

 

The person who needs to check up on his physics and his logic is you. Dark matter is an inferred form of matter that is dark, which we know/suspect exists due to its gravitational effects - speed of rotation of galaxies etc; we are progressing quite well in identifying it. Dark energy is a cute name for a phenomenom that we have no fixed idea about - the universe is speeding up in its expansion and something is driving that acceleration. The only connection is in the name and the lack of knowledge. I recommend wikipedia a/o hyperphysics.

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Dark energy is a cute name for a phenomenom that we have no fixed idea about - the universe is speeding up in its expansion and something is driving that acceleration.

And there's the very point you're missing about the god argument. Dark energy is a container name for a phenomenon that we KNOW exists. We don't know what it is but we know it exists. It may not be dark energy at all but then again that is just a label for a known phenomenon and that phenomenon has a set of properties the discussion participants agree on.

 

Conversely god arguments involve a term that does not have a consistent definition with any consistent properties. You could replace any "does god exist" argument with any "what is god" argument and until you decide "what" it is your arguing about there's not any point in arguing about its existence. Just consider the range of theists. There are monothesists, pantheists, polytheists, deists, autothesists. With these groups you find more division. Monotheists encompass Christians, Jews, Muslims and some Buddhists and Hindu. There are Pantheists and Panentheists with a division in the belief of the supernatural. How can all these different theists have any meaningful debate on any existence of god(s) when they can't even agree on what the term means? What the term means to each of them if different so while one is arguing about the existence of apples another is arguing about the existence of bricks. It's a pointless and meaningless debate.

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doG - two posts ago you were claiming dark energy was related to dark matter, and now you are claiming that we are certain of its existence; many physicists will argue with your latter point (and all will refute your first). The fact that you personally cannot entertain the possibility of an argument with flexible/floating parameters does not invalidate that debate. The supernatural is quintessentially unconstrained by physical and objective reality - to claim that it must be definable and certain misses a vital part of the proposition. By the very nature of your argument you would render any debate on the existence of any non-corporeal phenomenon invalid; in an existential oppositional discussion one party denies the reality that the other party propounds, this would be futile if an agreed definition was a prerequisite.

 

Denying the existence of god or any supernatural entity is a starting point - it is one I agree with, I am a proud member of the oldest rationalist/humanist society in the UK - but claiming that any debate positing the existence of god is meaningless is incorrect, illogical, and counter-productive.

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doG - two posts ago you were claiming dark energy was related to dark matter, and now you are claiming that we are certain of its existence; many physicists will argue with your latter point (and all will refute your first).

 

No, I said we know the phenomenon exists. Dark energy is a container term we use to discuss what may be the cause of that phenomenon but just because we use the term that way does not mean that dark energy actually exists. There could be some other force causing it and we just happen to call it dark energy.

 

The fact that you personally cannot entertain the possibility of an argument with flexible/floating parameters does not invalidate that debate.

Flexible/floating parameters are really not a good analogy here. The Pantheist will argue that god exists because god is nature, god is everything while the Deist argues that god was simply a supernatural creator and Christians argue that it is an all powerful entity that listens to and answers prayers. These are all different things. The term god itself has become overly broad and vague, rendered meaningless as a descriptive term of anything concise. If god means apple to you and bricks to me then what is the point in you arguing that an apple exists and me countering that bricks exist? If we're to be productive then shouldn't we agree first to debate the existence of apples, or bricks or whatever else?

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No, I said we know the phenomenon exists. Dark energy is a container term we use to discuss what may be the cause of that phenomenon but just because we use the term that way does not mean that dark energy actually exists. There could be some other force causing it and we just happen to call it dark energy.

 

 

This argument can only hold if you pre-define what dark energy is. Since you yourself have admitted we don't know what it is, simply that it exists, this entire paragraph is moot.

 

 

 

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doG - two posts ago you were claiming dark energy was related to dark matter' date='

[/quote']

 

No, I said we know the phenomenon exists.

 

No. You didn't:

 

Oh, now you're claiming dark matter has nothing to do with dark energy. You need to try arguing that point over in the physics forum.

Edited by A Tripolation
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