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The Existence of God

Is there really a God? Or did everything just poof?


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  • Jun 12 2013: ...continuing on...
    When people say "science disproves God" I never know what they mean by that. How do you define "science"? For me there's two types. One is operational science i.e. the things that are observable, repeatable, capable of sensory assessment - good observation makes good science and all that; then "origin science" where scientists take a uniform assumption that because things develop in a certain way in a certain time then it must have always been like that. Evolution and Creationism are explanatory models at best, of course. We can't observe creation nor can we observe macro-evolution happening, either. For the Christian, he has in a way a "time machine" - because he believes God created everything which has been recorded in Scripture. That is MY starting point in thinking and it allows me to interpret facts. Facts are not neutral - it's how you interpret them.

    Your starting point is the Bible is a myth. And being a myth it cannot be tested legitimately by operational science (which of course a myth can't because its fiction) therefore a God must be a myth so you cannot accept a Creationist argument. Your starting point is altogether different from mine. But is the Bible a myth? The Bible has endured for centuries, is unique, contains historical facts, etc. It's stood the test of time. It paints mankind in a state of sin - (who would write that about their own kind?) and points to salvation outside of man's reach. Hardly the work of men really.

    God is not a magic being. He is a spirit. And He revealed himself to mankind in the real life person of Jesus Christ. His existence is backed up by historical sources, not just the Bible.
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      Jun 12 2013: Thanks for the help, i was getting lonely.
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        Jun 12 2013: So now Jonathan, I have a question for you if it's not too invasive?

        Why did you feel lonely, and why do you think you needed help?
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          Jun 12 2013: Yesterday, I embarked on this debate, although it was enlightening, it was very taxing on my mind trying to retort to the more hard core opposition debaters. I think that I was the only person voicing my view on God's existence and I was releaved to see someone else on my side of the debate. Although I had the utmost faith that God gave me the answers He did, but i am only human and as such, loved the company.
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        Jun 13 2013: Hope you don't feel like we are ganging up.

        Wouldn't be much of a discussion or debate if we all thought the same thing.

        There are many other theists, deists and pantheists around, but most have seen this question many times.

        This is the sort of site where you can scroll through a conversation and see all sorts of ideas and arguments that might take ages to come across elsewhere. Great to test and refine your own or dump them and steal others if they make more sense.

        Not sure how you can tell the difference between thinking of answers yourself and god helping you. I have heard some arguments for god that took me a while to unpack. Others times totally ridiculous arguments that even theists might cringe. I guess god is busy sometimes.

        Its a bit like prayer. If what you prayed for happens then god did it. If it doesn't happen it was gods will. Cognitive bias. Agency assumption. I wonder if this belief of god being with you uses the same cognitive processes as children's imaginary friends. I note people with other beliefs sense or assume other invisible agents with them or around them, ancestor spirits, demons, nature spirits etc.
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          Jun 13 2013: Ganging up on is such a harsh way to put it, but it works. Although, i welcome it. I am not one to back down too easily when it comes to my own knowledge. On concrete ideas that i have been wrong on, i am man enough to admit when i am wrong. On matters of faith, such as this, I can only "argue" what i know to be true in my heart. God is not a child who does malicious things to his creation. He is a Good Father. What is said about Him in the bible IS something I model my life around because I am learning how to be a good father such as He Is.
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        Jun 13 2013: And I hope you and others and myself will always have the option to choose to believe and follow your chosen religion.

        Can I assume you don't believe in hell as per some Christian doctrines. Or that God flooded the planet in a global genocide etc. Otherwise I'm not sure how Jealous god = good father.

        Having said that there are some positive things in the New Testament IMO.
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          Jun 13 2013: I do believe in hell. I do believe that God flooded the planet. He flooded the planet to get rid of the wicked humans, He saved Noah, He had His reasons. He promised not to do that again. I don't see the jealousy in that, just "good housekeeping". Ha Ha Ha. Genocide does not take into account the morals of the culture trying to be wiped out, just that they are that group of people, i.e. jews, christians, ethiopians, cambodians, etc...
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          Jun 14 2013: Hi Jonathan.
          You can't say things like that to Obey; you'll set him off :) . I'm with you. There is ample evidence of the flood in the worldwide fossil bearing layers; but some folks just don't see it.
          We all die, & those in the flood just died a bit earlier. I have no problem with God deciding that to let folks live & spread their disease causes more grief than to retrieve his gift of life from them.
          If you are a Christian, you will get heavy weather, but remember "He who is in you ..........etc"

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        Jun 14 2013: Wow.

        I rarely get emotional on TED, but something about this comment made me a little upset.

        You believe your god committed mass murder of men, pregnant women and children and you called it house keeping with a laugh.

        I don't believe there is sufficient evidence for it happening,but can imagine the fear and horror of an evil act such as this.

        Surely your moral compass indicates drowning children is evil?

        What wickedness could the worst of the humans have committed that is worse than drowning nearly every man, woman and child?

        What wickedness did the babies commit? Or the animals. Surely you don't support drowning animals to punish wrong doers?

        Are you suggesting there are sometimes valid reasons for genocide? You know that includes the children.

        What mental and moral gymnastics are required to assert a supernatural being that takes sides with one tribe, destroys cities, sends plagues, accepts human sacrifices, orders witches and homosexuals and adulterers and unruly children and sabbath breakers to be killed, orders millions to be killed, commits near global genocide is remotely moral, let alone all loving.

        How is Genocide all loving?

        How is requiring obedience and worship all loving?

        Is sending people to eternal torture all loving because they were born in the wrong place or time or used their brains.

        Just by definition a jealous god can not be all loving.

        Surely your moral compass indicates torturing people is evil?

        The god described in the bible is often one of the worst monsters imagined. I challenge you to name one other human, god or goddesses that does something worse than tormenting some of its creations for eternity. That is worse than Hitler.

        I'm not anti all aspects of religion but this sort of thinking is what I object to. If god does it or says it is okay or obeying god is good no matter what the orders is okay. Basically assuming god is outside any moral boundaries.

        If you changed Yahweh to Zeus I guess you would agree with me.
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          Jun 14 2013: God etch-a-sketched existence, save for Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. He looked and could not find any other human being following His rules. And before Abraham, the rules were to be moral and just to everyone. The world of man had descended into chaos and moral corruption. They weren't tortured or using their brains. They were very "humanistic." Yes, torture is wrong. God is not the worse monster in the bible. There are many other examples of that. The Pharaoh of Egypt cast all the first born males of the Hebrews in the Nile river to be devoured by the animals there, that i call a monster. Sacrificing children to a man made god is monstrous, which God specifically talked against this practice. He is a jealous God, he does not want man to worship any other images because man perverts this practice to satisfy his own will. I ask you, what is so wrong with living your life the way Jesus commanded? Man created the Pantheon of gods, how do I know this, because all man made gods eventually became perverted, not the God of the bible. Not everyone who died in the flood went to hell.
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        Jun 15 2013: I have no issue with the golden rule, helping the poor etc.

        I have issues with the apocalyptic mindset
        I have problems with how you live you life being less important than what you believe.
        With the sexism.
        I have problems that you believe in a god that endorsed slavery, ordered killing homosexuals etc
        With the tribalism it reinforces sometimes
        I have a problem with homophobia and trying to cure it
        I have problems with how believing you know gods will exacerbates extreme behaviours and forcing your beliefs on other people without relying on evidence.
        I have problems with the assumption that the morality outlined in the bible, is absolute. That you have the answers.
        I have issues with Good news clubs indoctrinating children that they must obey an iron age god and that we are all sinners
        I have a problem with the concept of original sin. It is immoral to punish others for the crimes of their ancestors.
        I have an issue that when god does something evil or orders something evil you just accept it.
        With the divine command mentality that stops people using their brains.
        With trying to undermine the secular state and science education.
        With the roots of Christianity in an ignorant iron age barbaric tribal god.
        With believing the bible is true with no good reaso
        With a religion that uses threats of hell and fear to ensure compliance
        With Christians glossing over - The LORD is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and wrath. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and furiously destroys his enemies!

        And then claiming their god is the essence of love and arbiter of what is good.

        Other than that if people worship their gods without impacting the rights of others, no problem.

        So we agree killing children is bad. You still don't seem to accept that it is also bad when Yahweh does it.

        The excuses, the refusal to see the evil in this book and the god it describes. You god is a divine dictator. If a human did half of what he did you would call him a monster as per pharaoh
        • Jun 15 2013: This line of thinking is based on the assumption mankind is INNOCENT. Man is created, at the behest of this creator god who then, out of the blue, decides to rain fire and brimstone, orders genocide because he wants to, and basically wants to brainwash people.

          Thus: God is a cruel tyrant and horrible taskmaster who is evil and loves to play with his creatures as though they were ants.

          This is rubbish.

          The Bible teaches God created this world and universe out of nothing by the power of His Word, in the space of 6 days and all very good. It was perfect creation. No death. No suffering. Man was created in the image of God - that is to say, a living soul, in knowledge of God, righteousness, and holiness with dominion over the creatures.

          He entered into a Covenant with man forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death, as a test of probation to Man.

          Man rebelled. He disobeyed God's Covenant and violated it. The Covenant was made not just with Adam but his whole posterity. All mankind, descending from our First Parents, by ordinary generation. Therefore we're all treated as having sinned in Adam and fallen in Adam because God reckons that judgment to ALL by virtue of the Covenant he made with Adam.

          We are all rooted in Adam (we come from Adam who rebelled), so God in his righteous judgement regards mankind as EVIL... We're treated as oathbreakers; violaters.

          So... coming to the flood, mankind was full of evil. The whole world was filled with violence: "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (Genesis 6:12). "The imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" - Genesis 6:5.

          God send the flood to destroy the wickedness of man. It wasn't "housekeeping" - like some trivial bits of dust. Man was evil, so God destroyed man, save for Noah and his family.
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          Jun 16 2013: i am sorry that this is your vision of christianity. the truth is as different as day and night. Christians that say they are doing evil things in God's name are wrong and it is not doctrine. your sense of christianity comes from that. mine comes from the bible.
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        Jun 15 2013: God also ordered children killed and drowned them in the flood.

        1 Samuel 15:3 God commands the death of helpless "suckling" infants. This literally means that the children god killed were still nursing.

        Psalms 135:8 & 136:10 Here god is praised for slaughtering little babies.

        Psalms 137:9 Here god commands that infants should be “dashed upon the rocks”.

        So why is it okay when your god kills and not when others do.

        This is a huge blind spot many Christians have.

        Now on top of calling global genocide good house keeping you say God etch-a-sketched existence.

        I am dumbfounded.

        I really am.

        How easy it is to make concessions for your god and align mass murder with clearing a screen. If someone said Hitler did housekeeping on the Jews and Gypsies wouldn't you be stunned.

        I really don't understand how you can not see what is wrong with this way of thinking.

        You really can not defend this on any sound moral basis. At best you might say you don't understand. Or you don't like it but it is the way it is. But you seem to be endorsing and defending genocide and murder when God does it.

        This is similar mindset to accepting jihad and the subjugation of women and persecution of homosexuals being a virtue as it is following gods commandments.

        Religion seems to have the power to make good people accept dumb things.
        • Jun 15 2013: To refute: 1 Samuel 15:3: - The Amalekites, a nomadic people of the desert were already marked people because of their unjustified attack of on Israel in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. As a result, the Amelekites were doomed to annihiliation by God (Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19) but it would not be immediate. Here God commanded Saul to destroy them as a severe judgment on those who would destroy His own people.

          Psalm 135:8 - The Lord killed the Egyptian first born because the Egyptians, years earlier, had issued a holocaust (effectively) as a way of keeping the Jewish population down. Pharoah ordered the firstborn of the Jews to be destroyed with sword. God executed divine vengeance against the Egyptian firstborn,

          Psalm 137 - Babylon had carried the Jewish people away into slavery. Again, God was going to act for His people.

          This isnt a huge blind spot. The blind spot on your part is not knowing the context of these verses.

          Jihad is totally man made and man driven with no authority from God on high. Jihad is performed in the belief killing will result in eternal salvation.

          The Bible teaches no such thing.

          Christianity does not make people "accept dumb things" - because personally I cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects.

          Christ commanded us to love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your MIND" - Matt 22:37. When he said exercise faith, it was not a "blind faith" that causes "people to accept dumb things" but rather an "intelligent faith". Paul said, "I know whom I have believed" (2 Tim 1:12)

          Faith in Christianity is based on evidence. It is a reasonable faith. Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but never against it.

          The evidence? Consider the claims of Christ.
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      Jun 12 2013: Some more interesting comments.

      More feedback later, but science doesn't disprove all gods, it kind of makes them irrelevant or unnecessary in explaining nature once we have a decent grasp of how Something works. So no need for gods to explain floods, disease, drought, earthquakes, lightening, but Zeus may still exist. We can not disprove he is having a glass of wine in another dimension or on planet kolob.

      But again not being able to disprove a magical concept is not a good reason to believe.
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      Jun 12 2013: Actually I was a born again Christian, speaking in tongues, cast out demons, or so I thought.

      So my starting point was the bible was true, literally. Just the more I examined this, the more I realised there was no good reason to believe this just as there is no good reason to believe the Koran or other religions.

      These days I try to start with an open mind, and look for compelling evidence to back up claims. Some of my comments do reflect conclusions from looking at the evidence. Other times I'm simply not accepting supernatural claims without having sufficient evidence or drawing parallels with similar beliefs to yours that you don't believe.

      Doesn't nearly every religion and every religionist have their own rationale why their beliefs are special?

      Being an old book, mentioning some historical places, does not make the bible infallible. It takes faith to believe that. Just like faith in any supernatural type belief.

      The bible is unique, but so is the koran. There is nothing unique in the sense that sets it apart from all other religious texts, based on my examination and understanding.

      What is spirit? How did god make the universe and get around the laws of nature to perform miracles. How is it different from magic?
      • Jun 15 2013: I wonder what it was that made you think otherwise?
        I agree... being unique does not prove the Bible is true. But it is VERY UNLIKE the Koran.
        The Bible was written over a 1600 year span, over 60 generations, by 40 plus authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars etc. Written in different places (Moses in the wilderness, Paul inside prison walls, John on the isle of Patmos), at different times, different moods, written across 3 continents - Africa, Asia, Europe.
        The Bible, at first sight appears to be a collection of literature - mainly Jewish. But I can tell you... enquire further and the writers wrote in various lands, and were separated from each other by hundreds of years and miles, belonging to the most diverse walks of life. Written in 2 different languages, by people that included - as I said, kings, herdsmen, soldiers, legislators, fishermen, statesmen, courtiers, priests and prophets, a tentmaking rabbi, a physician (Luke)... For all that, the Bible is not simply an anthology - there is a unity that binds the whole together. An anthology is compiled by an anthologist, but no anthologist compiled the Bible. What is this unity? This unfolding story that progresses as the books progress? God's redemption of man.

        Take just 10 authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, one language and one controversial subject... would all the authors agree?
      • Jun 15 2013: It's unique in its survival and persecution... Take Voltaire, the noted French critic who died in 1778... he said that in 100 years from his time Christianity would be swept away from existence and passed into history. But what has happened? Voltaire has passed into history, and only 50 years after his death the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce stacks of Bibles! Ironic...

        No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinised, vilified, hated. What book on philosophy or science has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? with such scepticism and venom? and yet... the Bible is still loved by millions, studied by millions and read by millions...

        Muhammed never once pointed to any prophecies of the coming of Muhammed hundreds of years before his birth.

        If I can quote Philip Schaff (the Person of Christ)... "This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Ceasar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine that all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools he spoke such words of life never spoken before or since... He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times..."

        Think of the effect the Bible has had on secular literature... evoked a HUGE volume of literature.. my own opinion is if you are intelligent, IF you are searching for the truth, read the book that has drawn more attention than any other.

        True, doesn't prove it's THE TRUTH. But you'd seriously consider its weight and the claims its makes
    • Jun 12 2013: I am sorry Tom, but creationists don't get to divide science in a way they better like in order to dismiss the parts they don't like. There's no boundary between the sciences that we use to gather information about the cosmos and stars and planets and galaxies that we might never touch, those used to figure out the history of our own planet, and those that we use for current and nearby events. When Newton figured out gravitation and its role in shaping the orbits of the planets it was spectacular because it joined the cosmos with our everyday life. It made it possible to show that the same forces that shaped the trajectory of a cannonball were involved in the shape of the orbits of the planets. Therefore we were shown to be, no doubt, part of that very same cosmos. Everyday connected to far away. Today there's much more showing this connection, and we have no reason to doubt that those connections from here to far away are the same as those connecting today with the long past. Even better because it is not an isolated piece of evidence, but multiple sources of evidence that do either connections, today with the long past, and here to far away. So, no, it's not a simple matter of presuppositions, but a matter of wishful thinking versus acceptance that if reality includes gods, then we should not find evidence contradicting what is said to be done / have been done by such gods. That we find multiple sources of evidence that our planet is billions of years old means that it indeed is billions of years old. That we find multiple sources of evidence that evolution is real means that evolution is real. If the facts contradicts the gods, then those gods are false. No amount of presuppositions can defy reality.
    • Jun 12 2013: My experience is similar to Obey's by the way. When I started understanding science, I started doubting the first god I believed (the Christian no-evolution, 6000 year old earth, god). My version of god "evolved," until I noticed that no amount of movement would rescue this god from being imaginary. Once evidence is understandable, it becomes precarious and, frankly, silly, to keep trying to accommodate the evidence to the belief, and/or to deny the evidence as mere artifacts. The truth is that the evidence is way too convincing. That there's no tricking, and that when we try and fix it by allowing for changes in how nature worked in the past, is just feels like way too curious that all works well without those changes with such things as the age of our planet, and evolution of life, all makes sense, while changing the laws feels artificial and still does not fix the problem that the evidence won't fit the Bible anyway. The most that happens when changing the way nature worked in the past to try and accommodate the Bible is that evolution would run much faster, or isotopes decay much faster without exploding, and other weird stuff.

      I know this will not convince you. But I could not resist making the comment. The rhetoric behind the presupposition argument sounds convincing enough that some might be misguided by it and truly think that just changing one bit of what you think would truly change everything. No such luck ladies and gentlemen. Unless you prefer to think nonsensically. Then anything goes.
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        Jun 13 2013: Excellent point, because almost all atheists/agnostics are born into religion, and it is just childhood abusive that religion is implemented into minds before anything scientific. Atheists in america are rated on par just as untrustworthy as rapists. Agnosticism is okay, but atheism is just taboo to humanity so it appears. Evidence is clear and it shows that there just is no reason at all for a god, and that something really can come from nothing.

        There's an unarguable trend of atheism being related to education...
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      Jun 13 2013: Science does not make god impossible, it just makes him improbable.
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      Jun 13 2013: For me personally when I looked at what I believed and why I believed it I figured out there wasn't a really good reason. It was just a combination of weak positions.

      E.g. I believed in the resurrection because it was in the bible and the bible talked about eye witnesses. People must have believed it was real etc.

      But I believed in the bible because of the resurrection. Its kind of circular.

      If I turned water into wine and raised someone from the dead after 4 days would you believed I was a being capable of creating the universe? Even if I died and came alive again, that is not in the same league as creating a universe from nothing.

      And the feelings, the so called connection to the holy spirit when you let go of your inhibitions, sway with the music, raise your hands or pray intensely or whatever, it could just be your mind. There is no evidence this feeling is a person etc. In fact I get more amazing brain states when I meditate. People with other beliefs get similar feelings. People on drugs get even more intense feelings.

      The dodgy prophecies, which even if true don't make the whole bible true.

      Then the arguments about the uncaused cause. Totally fallacious. etc etc

      I could go on about every reason I had to believe and it was all suspect.

      Now with some distance and much better informed when I look back on Christianity or on Islam or buddhism and there are aspects that you can unpack, and the whole thing just looks so man made. It is entirely compatible with being manmade relying on so called revelations and feelings and interpretations of these feelings informed by old books. So the creator of the universe relied on books. Plain old paper and ink. No verse carved large enough to read on the moon, or a magic indestructible floating crystal that answers your questions.

      And when you read the bible it is bizarre. One minute god is walking around, later Jesus and this spirit thing.

      No real evidence or valid reason to believe, just a whole web of beliefs.
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      Jun 13 2013: I won't go on much longer.

      But frankly in some ways Islam is more reliable. One author. Less contradictory, although there are the pagan bits, or satanic verses. Although even the bible in parts hints there are other gods. Archealogical evidence points to Hebrews also worshiping fertility gods apparently. You shall have no other gods before me is one of the commandments. It doesn't say false gods or I am the only god in the commandments. It seems to imply there are other gods.

      Anyway, the koran is more coherent. 1 author. Surely it is as speculative or less to claim an angel informed the prophet then to assume magical intervention with dozens of authors over hundreds of years.

      Frankly if the old testament god is the same guy as the new testament he is almost schizophrenic,

      But Christians always come back to the resurrection. Have you heard Muslims rip apart this argument or the argument that Jesus was god. They do a better job than most atheists.

      Yes but there were witnesses and peopled died because they believed. Well there are many old miraculous claims in old texts that mention witnesses. Like writings about one of the Pharaohs killing hundreds in battle by is own hand and allowing his forces to retreat, witnessed by an entire army, And people dying for all sorts of religious beliefs or accepting persecution, including those who know the founders in person.

      I could go on about how immoral the god of the old testament is. Or how wicked it is to suggest a creator might eternally torture its creations in a lake of fire.

      If you read the bible with an open mind it is so ludicrous in places. My favourite:

      The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.

      All powerful indeed.

      Anyway at least you might accept that some of those who don't believe the bible do so for reasonable reasons. Similar to why you don't believe Islam.
      • W T 100+

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        Jun 13 2013: In all the time I have been on TED, this is the first time that I truly understand you Obey.
        Thank you for this wonderful long response.

        You make some very insightful observations.
        I, for one appreciated your forthcomingness......is that even a word?

        Anyways, thank you so much.
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          Jun 13 2013: It is a word now, but may not make it into a dictionary.

          Sorry to any offended if I come across as harsh.

          I often rush my comments and leave out the softening phrases etc

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