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If we knew that God existed, we wouldn't need to believe in him - Kierkegaard


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Showing 1-25 of 88 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Feb 2014, 01:51:54 GMT
Henry James says:
Discuss.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 02:09:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 02:14:05 GMT
If we knew that God existed, we wouldn't need Global floods, Genocide, Diasporas, Crucifixions, Jihads, Crusades, Inquisitions,Reformations, Ethnic cleansing, Holocausts and Sectarian violence.

Every Synagogue/Church/Mosque could then be converted to a Wetherspoons. One big happy family!

Posted on 26 Feb 2014, 09:39:35 GMT
Roma says:
Hi Henry

Discuss. You make me feel I'm back in a Philosophy tutorial at Uni. Are you a teacher by any chance? What's to discuss? No one can prove or disprove God's existence therefore we either choose to believe in Him or not. What is interesting to me is how many atheists seem to obsess about the existence of someone in whom they don't believe and spend so much time discussing his supposed attributes. Strange indeed!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 09:58:07 GMT
Anita says:
My apologies for an auto-quote from another thread, and I'm not sure how much of Kierkegaard is behind that, but I honestly think so:

"It is surely the matter of faith and nothing else. If you had evidence, if you had proof, it would be fact, not religion. You would *know*, you would not have to *believe*. The very point is to believe without proof."

As for what is there to discuss, I don't know either

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 10:19:16 GMT
Kleist says:
I think an important question is what kind of need he is referring to.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 10:43:52 GMT
Drew Jones says:
"What is interesting to me is how many atheists seem to obsess about the existence of someone in whom they don't believe and spend so much time discussing his supposed attributes. Strange indeed!"
I'm 'obsessed' with how someone can use "No one can prove or disprove God's existence" as a premise and take it as logical permission that "therefore we either choose to believe in Him or not.". It's rationale I just don't get.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 11:03:13 GMT
Anita says:
Drew - it's not a rationale. Not everything is exactly rational, or at least not for everybody. It doesn't mean stupid though.

Some people just have different sets of mind. Sometimes (quite often, actually) you may get a feel that while talking with someone you talk in different languages. It doesn't mean one or another is better. I think. It's just... some people have very little common ground.

It's actually a huge luck to meet someone with who you can reach a deep level of understanding. Normally the "understanding" waters are rather shallow. Sometimes there's no understanding at all, no matter how hard you try.

Sorry, that's way off topic

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 12:52:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 12:54:36 GMT
Kleist says:
Hi Drew,

Perhaps it's like falling in love or being overcome with beauty or in awe at someone or something. Not a rational process at all. In many ways this is how Kierkegaard conceives faith.

Where this becomes confusing is in the use of the term 'belief' which we can't help connecting with evidence, reason and justification. But the point I suppose is that in this case it is more like 'belief in' than 'belief that.'

So for example one may believe in one's wife or doctor. This doesn't mean that one does not have some kind of reason to trust or have faith in them, but that the trust extends beyond what the reasons permit one logically and rationally to believe. Yet one may still put one's life or the life if a loved one in their hands.

I know that there are important disanalogies too.

Posted on 26 Feb 2014, 13:28:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 13:29:46 GMT
Stu says:
IF and it is a big if you knew god existed, it would still be your choice wether to believe or not in him. I mean you know man utd exist,but you do not all support them do you?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 13:31:23 GMT
Anita says:
I thought it was about believing, not supporting?

I don't think I believe ManU exist. I think I know they do. I could even watch their match yesterday on TV even being abroad. And no, I don't support them :)

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 13:31:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 13:32:35 GMT
Drew Jones says:
"Perhaps it's like falling in love or being overcome with beauty or in awe at someone or something."
It's not. It's about existence and existence isn't a subjective quality that allows for our own personal estimations. Dressing things up as beyond reason or evidence" is self-deceptive too, 'beyond' in this context is a euphemism for 'without'.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 13:38:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 13:41:03 GMT
Stu says:
THERE SUPPORTERS BELIEVE in them Anita, they believe they are gods.and if you know they do by watching them play,then you believe inthem.

Posted on 26 Feb 2014, 14:00:47 GMT
Stu says:
Put another way Anita love,do you exist? do you believe in what you can and cannot do? then you believe in yourself as I believe in myself.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 14:24:31 GMT
Roma says:
Hi Stu
I'm glad they do exist, otherwise my husband and sons were deluded last night when they thought they were watching them on the tele.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 14:29:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 14:48:40 GMT
I think I see what you mean stu, that simply making everyone unequivocally aware of god's existence wouldn't negate our choice as to whether we worshipped it or not, a claim often made by some theists, that our "free will" can only be preserved if there is doubt about god's existence.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 14:51:59 GMT
Stu says:
Hi Roma love,glad to hear it, that means my argument is true then, and your husband and sons believe they will win every game, belief has so many meanings does it not. hope they enjoyed the game and you are well love.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 14:57:31 GMT
Stu says:
Exactly Sheldon,we still would not have to worship at all,and it hasn't said which god in the op has it?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 16:26:45 GMT
yes, does 'believe in' mean believe in the existence of god as in either a generic god concept or a specific god as depicted through scripture. and if a specific god then does it mean to believe in what this god has inspired or dictated to chosen people to produce the holy scriptures. to believe in god might be very different to believing that god cares, punishes or wishes us to live by his commandments!

i could believe that god the creator of the universe exists but that god has never contacted our species nor cares for their existence. to 'believe in' tends to be used by religion to express belief in a set of holy scriptures as divinely inspired and hence offering guidance as to personality/wishes of that god and what it means to us. as in to believe that god cares and watches over us wishing us to live our life in a particular way.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 20:17:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 20:40:29 GMT
Kleist says:
'Drew Jones says:

"Perhaps it's like falling in love or being overcome with beauty or in awe at someone or something."
It's not. It's about existence'

What? Faith is?

I would have said that Kierkegaard was aware that as far as reason and empirical evidence were concerned the question of the existence or non-existence of God could not be determined. Indeed he knew that the evidence and reason were against it. That is why it required very strong faith. But faith was not about existence in the sense that it made some objective claim (if by objective one means determinable by empirical evidence and reason). Rather it was about one's attitude to existence.

This attitude was not that of asking epistemological questions about what I can know, which he considered largely irrelevant to life's major decisions, but about existential questions about what significance my life has. These are indeed subjective. But they involve things like affectivity and not just neutral beliefs. Such affectivity as love is one of his favourite analogies because it involves beliefs that are not simply based on evidence but indeed go beyond the evidence.

Drew Jones: 'and existence isn't a subjective quality that allows for our own personal estimations.'

One's own existence is certainly subjective and very personal.

But if you mean, as I suspect you must, that the existence or non-existence of things or beings is not a function of our desires, feelings or beliefs about them then I know, and Kierkegaard also knew. The question in relation to belief vis-à-vis existence is what I OUGHT to believe.

This in turn brings in the notion of what makes a belief worth holding. For you, it would seem, a belief is worth holding ONLY if there is good reason or evidence for that belief being true. OK, Kierkegaard would agree up to a point. These are good reasons for belief, but they are not the ONLY, and not the most important reasons WHY one does believe, and they are not even the only reasons why one ought to believe in his view.

The analogies I gave: being in love, trusting a doctor etc. are an attempt to illustrate this. There may be good 'reasons' why you ought to believe that she will always love you, that he will take good care of him, that things will turn out alright, that this time you will do it, that if you run into that burning building to save that child you won't both be burnt to death, that this time next year Rodney... and so on, and these 'reasons' not be that you have evidence for the truth of these beliefs. Or, as I tried to make the point, the 'reason' you have goes beyond the evidence.

Drew Jones: 'Dressing things up as beyond reason or evidence" is self-deceptive too, 'beyond' in this context is a euphemism for 'without'.'

If you want to say that this is a euphemism for 'without evidence' that is fine, but the point is rather that the seeking of evidence is hardly appropriate or even possible. That is why it requires faith. I see no self-deception here. I see a clear sense of what in our lives lies beyond the call for evidence. I see the idea that we are not fundamentally epistemological beings but are located in a world which we endow with various layers of significance, and their importance to us does not lie in their strong evidential base.

Kierkegaard believes that organised Christians have not properly understood that faith is of this latter type and that it is often and falsely mistaken for an epistemic commitment. It isn't, it is an existential commitment. It is about our attitude. Religious faith is a hyperbolic form of this kind of 'belief in...' It is hard and paradoxical, not something that is only for Sundays. It is about changing your life.

That said he was also aware that it was almost inevitable that it be so mistaken. How are we to try to communicate this kind of understanding? (I know I have failed). Kierkegaard thought that it could not be communicated directly bit via allegory, fiction, poetry, music and biblical fable. He called it 'indirect communication.' You come to see things a certain way on the basis of hints and vague implications. But you either get it or you don't, more like a joke than a thesis. And you know what happens to jokes when they are explained in literal terms.

I know that this is not your thing at all. I personally have a lot of problems with Kierkegaard, but he would not particularly care about that. Look at some of his titles: Kierkegaard's Writings, II: The Concept of Irony, with Continual Reference to Socrates/Notes of Schelling's Berlin Lectures: Concept of Irony, with ... of Schelling's Berlin Lectures v. 2, Kierkegaard's Writings, XII: Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Volume I: Concluding Unscientific Postscript to "Philosophical Fragments" v. 12, Pt. 1 and Fear and Trembling: Dialectical Lyric by Johannes De Silentio (Classics)

Edit: Placed in the third quote from Drew to make it clearer what I was responding to.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 20:56:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 20:58:30 GMT
Drew Jones says:
My response was made to Roma commenting on atheists chipping in on something they don't believe exists. It didn't address Kierkegaard's position even though that was the title subject.

If I was to address Kierkegaard's it would be swift rejection, it's the sort of sophistry and sleight of hand that passes for intellectualism I have no time for. I find the sophisticated theists very smart but therefore the most deluded as they have to work harder, and have the ability to make their nonsense work.

"But faith was not about existence in the sense that it made some objective claim (if by objective one means determinable by empirical evidence and reason). Rather it was about one's attitude to existence."
I wouldn't call that existence but a belief about existence, which shouldn't be confused and you shouldn't let someone switch around so they can appeal to their feelings as if they were evidencing an objective existence.

"One's own existence is certainly subjective and very personal."
No it's not. The life I lead is subjective and very personal, my existence is not.

"The analogies I gave: being in love, trusting a doctor etc. are an attempt to illustrate this. There may be good 'reasons' why you ought to believe that she will always love you, that he will take good care of him, that things will turn out alright, that this time you will do it, that if you run into that burning building to save that child you won't both be burnt to death, that this time next year Rodney... and so on, and these 'reasons' not be that you have evidence for the truth of these beliefs. Or, as I tried to make the point, the 'reason' you have goes beyond the evidence. "
This is trust based on experience informing the decision. You're past wondering whether or not there is a doctor, partner to love or whether flames can burn so you're past any analogy you could make for a theistical dilemma of worshipping a god that May or may not be there.

"If you want to say that this is a euphemism for 'without evidence' that is fine, but the point is rather that the seeking of evidence is hardly appropriate or even possible."
That is nonsense when it comes to common theistic claims.

"That is why it requires faith. I see no self-deception here. I see a clear sense of what in our lives lies beyond the call for evidence. I see the idea that we are not fundamentally epistemological beings but are located in a world which we endow with various layers of significance, and their importance to us does not lie in their strong evidential base. "
You may not realise it but there are all sorts of evidence you'll base a decision to fall in love on or credit a person for their medical claims over others. This argument that things are done on faith without evidence is just not true, it's a miss understanding of knowledge and that we attribute likelihoods not absolute certainty to everything, even when we feel certain about something.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 21:37:03 GMT
Kleist says:
Drew Jones:
"But faith was not about existence in the sense that it made some objective claim (if by objective one means determinable by empirical evidence and reason). Rather it was about one's attitude to existence."
I wouldn't call that existence but a belief about existence, which shouldn't be confused and you shouldn't let someone switch around so they can appeal to their feelings as if they were evidencing an objective existence.'

You might well call it that, but Kierkegaard would not. Not every attitude we have toward existence is a belief about it. We have pro or contra attitudes to most things, we have hopes, desires, anxieties, feelings of dread, we adopt an ironic or a serious attitude, we care or are indifferent and the list goes on. These are certainly our feelings, in a broad sense, but without such attitudes we wouldn't even find anything worth believing.

He is not shifting to feelings and claiming that it evidences anything. Indeed that is exactly the contrary of what I said. I said he isn't making an objective claim at all, if by objective you mean based on evidence and reason.

Drew Jones: '
"One's own existence is certainly subjective and very personal."
No it's not. The life I lead is subjective and very personal, my existence is not.'

There may be an unintentional confusion here: When an existentialist talks about our existence he means our life-as-lived-by-us. He is not specifying some ontologically neutral objective fact about the world. No one's existence is a matter of indifference to them, this is their point. So they do mean the life one leads. I am not really sure how one may not have some subjective or personal relation to one 's own existence. I would have thought that it is the one thing that one simply cannot share and that is very dear to one (unless one has ceased caring or is depressed or in despair. Kierkegaard wrote a lot about despair).

Drew Jones: '"The analogies I gave: being in love, trusting a doctor etc. are an attempt to illustrate this. There may be good 'reasons' why you ought to believe that she will always love you, that he will take good care of him, that things will turn out alright, that this time you will do it, that if you run into that burning building to save that child you won't both be burnt to death, that this time next year Rodney... and so on, and these 'reasons' not be that you have evidence for the truth of these beliefs. Or, as I tried to make the point, the 'reason' you have goes beyond the evidence. "
This is trust based on experience informing the decision. You're past wondering whether or not there is a doctor, partner to love or whether flames can burn so you're past any analogy you could make for a theistical dilemma of worshipping a god that May or may not be there.'

Nobody doubts that ALL attitudes are in some sense BASED on experience, or even that experience informs our attitudes. But they are invested with a significance which is beyond possible experience. My examples weren't examples of inductive inference at all. One does not fall in love on the basis of inductive inference, or trust on the basis of induction, or believe that things will go well this time when every other time they went bad, for obvious reasons. But some people do believe on no evidential basis, and it might well be good to do so.

Drew Jones: '"If you want to say that this is a euphemism for 'without evidence' that is fine, but the point is rather that the seeking of evidence is hardly appropriate or even possible."
That is nonsense when it comes to common theistic claims.'

It might well be. I am not making a 'common theistic claim.' I am talking about having faith without evidence and since Kierkegaard thought that theistic belief was faith without evidence, indeed where evidence is inappropriate and not possible, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean.

Drew Jones: '"That is why it requires faith. I see no self-deception here. I see a clear sense of what in our lives lies beyond the call for evidence. I see the idea that we are not fundamentally epistemological beings but are located in a world which we endow with various layers of significance, and their importance to us does not lie in their strong evidential base. "
You may not realise it but there are all sorts of evidence you'll base a decision to fall in love on or credit a person for their medical claims over others. This argument that things are done on faith without evidence is just not true, it's a miss understanding of knowledge and that we attribute likelihoods not absolute certainty to everything, even when we feel certain about something.'

We decide to fall in love?

Of course we have evidence for certain claims over others. Nobody even so much as began to question that. But when we trust we go beyond that evidence, otherwise there would be no need for trust.

Posted on 26 Feb 2014, 21:49:04 GMT
Spin says:
"truth is subjectivity" (Kierkegaard) His most famous argument, akin to Descartes and Sartre. If truth is subjectivity, and God represents the truth, then God is subjectivity; not the subjective itself,, but ones being subjective...Read Kierkegaard and one reads the personal diary of a man caught between religion and materialism.

Posted on 26 Feb 2014, 22:01:22 GMT
Spin says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 22:35:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014, 22:36:18 GMT
Drew Jones says:
"I said he isn't making an objective claim at all, if by objective you mean based on evidence and reason."
I mean claim about something pertaining to a fact or model of reality independent of him. If Kierkegaard doesn't claim or think this he's more than deluded but useless as a theologian.

"It might well be. I am not making a 'common theistic claim.' I am talking about having faith without evidence and since Kierkegaard thought that theistic belief was faith without evidence, indeed where evidence is inappropriate and not possible, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean."
What it means is Kierkegaard is just wrong. Theism relies on faith because it doesn't have reason or evidence. It excuses faith from reason and evidence with the excuse that it is inappropriate and not possible but in reality it is totally appropriate and possible but just not happening for them.

"We decide to fall in love?"
I think falling in love, or at least becoming attracted to someone is unconscious. But pursuing a relationship, that is a conscious decision.

"Of course we have evidence for certain claims over others. Nobody even so much as began to question that. But when we trust we go beyond that evidence, otherwise there would be no need for trust."
Trust is the word I introduced and I introduced it to replace 'faith' for a reason: so the two wouldn't be conflated and then used to suggest religious devotion to an unevidenced being excused from reason couldn't be conflated to measured gambles on future outcomes with existent people.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014, 22:54:10 GMT
Henry James says:
Interesting Points Roma, my beloved.
I think many of us atheists are interested in how our fellow humans can beleive in God, and in which ways they do. Especially given that we don't.
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Discussion in:  religion discussion forum
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Initial post:  26 Feb 2014
Latest post:  7 Mar 2014

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