Descart started with another false premise, that there was an evil genius who planted the idea of a god. Those who planted the delusion in his head actually believed that god existed, thus they were not evil geniuses.
I find this assertion of yours remarkable—that Descartes postulated an evil genius “who planted the idea of a god.” Because it is a flat assertion, and it is flatly untrue; as anyone who has read Descartes would know. It is not even a plausible misreading.
What does that say? 1. You have not read Descartes. 2. You are prepared to state as fact things about which you have no idea, and know you have no idea. Which is to say, you are prepared to dissemble in order to appear to have made a point in this argument.
Why would you do this? It seems folly. Particularly since you had every reason to believe I had myself read Descartes, and would know if you had guessed wrong in your claim.
You might want to explain why you did this; to me, it smacks of whistling past the graveyard. I assume you actually care about the subject of the argument, and are not just in this for ego. Yet you are more concerned with seeking to make me or a reader believe the given assertion, than with whether or not that assertion is actually true. It is as if you yourself felt that the point that God existed was already lost or probably lost; and your strategy was only to avoid the general realization of this for as long as possible.
Still completely irrational, of course, since if there is a God, there is no way to hide from him. But common human behaviour. It’s just as given in the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, knowing God directly, must have known there was no chance of hiding from him. Yet, knowing they have done wrong, they nevertheless jump behind the bushes.
Those who seek to contest religion like to claim that belief in God and an afterlife could be simply “wish fulfillment.”
But this makes no sense at all. Granted that there are some people who indeed wish for the existence of a God and an afterlife—those, roughly, who “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Those enumerated in the Beatitudes. But, in the natural run of things, there will be far more people who must hope it is not so.
After all, consider the alternatives. If there is no God, we can believe we are called to no more than seeking our personal comfort and our personal wants. We are free to do whatever we choose. If there is a God, we must submit our will to his. We have a boss, even in our most intimate moments. Not something most people would naturally wish for.
Similarly, if there is no afterlife, all that happens when we die is that our consciousness ceases. Hardly a frightening concept. If there is an afterlife, there is every possibility that it could be worse than the present state—we might be born again as a carbuncle, or end up in hell, in fact.
If we have done wrong, and there is no God, we can hope to get away with it. If there is a God, we know we will eventually be punished. Obvious incentive for anyone who has ever sinned to avoid belief in God—and all of us have surely sinned.
If we have some advantage over our neighbour—in looks, in wealth, in intelligence, in the circumstances of our birth—and there is a God, we must expect to eventually lose this advantage, knowing we have not earned it. But if there is no God, we can hope to keep it.
And, ultimately, if there is a God, he is the centre of the universe—and we are not. He is God—and we are not.
All this is hard to accept. Even the devout speak of passing through a “dark night of the soul” in order to grapple with and accept it. Or of “dying to self,” or of having to be “born again.” Accepting it, in other words, is as difficult as dying.
Fear of these implications of belief, I suspect, is behind most if not all atheism. It explains why atheists tend to be militant about it, whereas in all logic, if God does not exist, it should not be of any consequence if the next person believes otherwise. Indeed, nothing at all ought to be of much consequence.
Among other things, this means that the psychological, if not the logical, onus is rather on those who deny God’s existence to prove their point. Because, psychologically, the case seems clear that wish fulfillment is more likely on their side. What is remarkable is that, despite all the emotional incentives not to believe, almost all mankind has believed in principle, up to the present time. That in itself is a sort of proof.
People had the idea the Earth was flat because the bible states there are angels at the four corners of our planet.
Jeff, you really should study myth and metaphor to understand it, rather than dismissing it as merely something “untrue.” Aristotle says that the ability to understand myth and to use metaphor properly are the marks of genius. That being so—and for now I simply assert it is so—most of the best and finest thoughts of mankind are expressed in myth and metaphor. Miss these, and you are dining only on the intellectual world’s table scraps.
Let’s look at the image of the four cornered world, for example.
The four-cornered world, familiar in Greek and Chinese thought, and probably other cultures as well, is not a spatial description of the earth. It is a temporal description, expressed in spatial terms; a metaphor. The four corners are the two solstices and the two equinoxes, in the first instance; though this in turn is only a paradigm of the necessary progression between two contraries. The “winds” which come from these four corners are the winds of change: the four seasons, in the first instance.
This has absolutely no bearing on the question of whether the earth, as a spatial entity, is round or flat. If proof were needed, note that it is a Greek concept, and, as previously noted, the Greeks were perfectly aware that the earth was round. So was Shakespeare, who uses the image several times; as many poets have since.
Guess you don't know the story of Colubus if you think only farmers believed his ship would fall off the world.
You are taken in yet again by an urban legend, Jeff. As I told you before, you have to go back, when possible, to primary sources. The legend that Columbus alone in his day supposed the earth was round can be dated back to a historical novel by Washington Irving in the nineteenth century. A historical novel: a product, like, ironically, much of what we "know" about Santa Claus, of Washington Irving’s imagination. It just made a better story. Like the Da Vinci Code today, too many credulous people took it and take it as fact.
From their surviving writings, it is actually clear that Clement, Origen, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Isodore, Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas—essentially all the early doctors of the church-- took it as proven that the Earth was a sphere. Note this in regard to the “four cornered earth” of the Book of Revelations as well: this was never taken by the Church as a physical description.
An Italian philosopher, Giordano Bruno, was burned to death by the Catholic church because his idea of an infinite universe disputed the Church's dogma that we were at the center.
That, possibly, and/or the fact that he held that Christ was not God, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, not of God, that the Devil will be saved, and so forth. And/or possibly the charges of personal misconduct, and/or, according to Frances Yates, because he was believed to be, and may have been, a spy for the Queen of England and the Protestants.
We will never know. We don’t know what he was convicted for; the court files were lost long ago.
One thing we can be certain he was not convicted for was for saying that the sun, and not the earth, was at the centre of the universe. That was not against Church doctrine.
Re your post: First there's an obvious contradiction of natural vs. a God, which is supernatural, therefore, unnatural. Thus, in essence you and Aquinas are arguing that natural phenomena is unnatural.
Remember, “supernatural” is your word, not mine. You choose to define God as “supernatural,” and then insist because of this choice of word that he can by definition have nothing to do with nature. That's tautological.
But even though you’ve chosen the playing field, this still does not work. For it must follow, then, that a superpower can have no influence on mere powers. That a supermarket can have no influence on a market. That a superstructure can have no influence on a structure.
You are working from a false definition—of your own chosen term. “Super” means “above,” “greater than,” or indeed “in control of,” not “wholly apart from.”
We exist because there is inevitablity in randomness. If you played Lotto 649 a million times, it would not be a question of IF you would win, but how many times.
Side note: you’re wrong, there, strictly speaking. The chances of winning the main prize at Lotto 649 are surely less than one in a million.]
Because matter is ever-changing in an infinite universe, it's inevitable the physical stuff that makes us who we are will reoccur.
Now, here's a shocking argument you might not have heard: WITHOUT the random interactions of the elements, we would not exist. If there was some set, interlocking pattern to the universe, the necessary conditions for our existence could become occluded, locked out. Because an infinity of time has preceded us, our existence proves no such occulsion is possible (otherwise it would have happened already, because it has had forever to do so, the forever that existed before us).
Jeff, you have just proved the opposite of what you think you have. As you say, if time is infinite, and all possibilities occur at random, it is inevitable that, at some time or another before the present (given an infinity of time), a situation must have occurred that would lock out, as you say, the future possibility of our existence. Hence, we would not exist.
Yet we do. Hence, the fact that we do proves either that time is not infinite, or events are not random, or both.
Indeed, it rather tends to the conclusion that events are not random, but directed towards our existence.