Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the Existence of God

It seems to me that when one sets out to prove or disprove the existence of God, he often first attempts to define God. While this is logical protocol in most philosophical inquiries, it does not apply in this case. Most definitions cite an all-powerful, all-knowing, and possibly all good being. This is a fairly generic representation that is pretty well accepted, regardless whether it is actually believed or not.

Let us consider what such qualities entail. An all-knowing God knows how many hairs are on your head. An all-knowing God knows how and why chemicals react to each other. An all-knowing God knows how many times you have sneezed. An all-powerful God makes it rain and stop raining. An all-powerful God created life. An all-powerful God can answer any question.

Now, regardless whether there is a God or not, there is still a set and knowable amount of hairs on your head. There are properties that make chemicals react the way they do. You have sneezed a certain number of times, even though neither you nor anyone else knows how many this is. It rains and stops. There is life. There is an answer to any question, regardless if any human knows it or not.

Therefore, whether we believe in God or not, all that we attribute to him is still present. One thing we do not explicitly attribute to God (though it has perhaps wrongly been implied) is self-awareness. I propose that the question is not ‘is there a God?’ but rather, ‘does he perceive himself or not?’ All knowledge exists whether or not it is know to anybody. This is evident in math that we have not yet discovered. In the same token, nature is governed by some force.

What is the difference between God being all knowing and him being the embodiment of all knowledge? Or what is the difference between him being all-powerful and the laws that govern the universe? It seems to me that the only difference is whether or not the body of knowledge and governing force of nature acknowledges itself as God or not.

But this is foolish because there is no way that we can understand what God’s perspective is like. Personally, I highly doubt God perceives himself as God in the same sense that we perceive him.

Thus, God exists as the body of all knowledge and governing force in the universe. Any further attempts to define him (such as his perception or morality) cannot be anymore than stipulation.


  1. Are you saying that if there is a God, he doesn't see himself as such? As if he is ignorant to his own importance? Or in such a way that he doesn't realize his potentiality? Or is it that he knows that he is God, and therefore he is alknowing, but he doesn't see himself as a force that determines what will happen and when?

    Either way, I agree that an attempt to define God is as willy-nilly as it gets. It's nearly the same as saying you can define a word that's never even been discovered or created yet. On the same token (sorry to steal your phrasing), if you're going to say that defining God is impossible, you must realize that definig his absence is just as impossible.

  2. I'm saying that many of the things we attribute to God are present regardless whether there is a god or not. Knowledge, whether know or unknown exists. Natural order (such as the sun rising, etc) exist. Thus, the only difference is whether this force perceives itself as God or not. (Note: I am not limiting God to only knowledge and nature, these are just some qualities.)

    I am then saying that it foolish for us to try to imagine how God perceives himself. But how he perceives himself is really the only factor to his existence. But us trying to understand how God perceives himself is just as ignorant as trying to define him.

  3. I think that your critique may work for some kind of God, but not for the Christian One. Christianity holds that God is the Creator of the universe, existing outside it and independently of it. He is not the embodiment of natural laws, but their author.

    And you're right: we can't know God. But what if that all-powerful Being revealed Himself to us in a way we could understand (such as through the Bible or becoming a Man)? Then it would not be a matter of whether we could know facts about God, but of what facts He chose to reveal to us.

    The difference between God being all-knowing and the embodiment of knowledge, etc. is the difference between a Person who completely embodies a property or idea, and a property or idea which somehow achieves emergent selfhood.

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  5. When you raised your points on what an all knowing God actually knows it reminded me of questions that i used to ask myself and points that I would make that would sometimes only make sense in my head. My religious family would allow me to pose my ideas to them but the answers they gave would never fully explain the reason for a God or for our existence. The main theory that i had with a God that was all knowing and our existence was that our existence was unnecessary. If a God was all knowing and did indeed know the numbers of hair on our heads and, though he gave human kind free will, he would know everything that we were about to do and would do in our lifetimes. This would leave me confused as to why many Christians took the time out to live accordingly for going to heaven or living the opposite and go to hell. I felt as if a God that was all knowing would in fact already know where we would end up going in the end anyway making our existence nothing more than somewhat of a tease. Why give anything life just to take it away and send them somewhere we "the all knowing God" knew they would go in the first place?

  6. Jordan, if you have not read Aquinas' thoughts on free will, I highly suggest it. I am currently traveling with the soccer team and do not have the book I wish I could reference, but it is my understanding that Aquinas holds that although God already knows what we will choose, in the most basic we had the choice. In other words, God created the world, and a set of natural laws that govern the way the world works, but he created man in such a way that he might choose between good and evil, life and death, etc. God, in the snese in which he is all knowing, knows which chioce we will make. However, we still govern ourselves as to what choice we make. Again, I encourage you to read some of his work- this explanation surely does not do justice to his ideas.

  7. So my original post was in reference to the existence of a god, higher power, etc., not the existence of the Christian God exclusively. Granted, it would be possible to know God better if he revealed himself through scripture, Jesus, Mohammed, or even Jim Jones. However, because of the nature of this claim, it is difficult to debate and therefore I left it out.

    My claim is that doctrines aside, the only difference between a god and no god is perception. If the higher power acknowledges that it is indeed God then there is a god, if not, then no.

  8. Just to answer your question, Jordan, and realizing this is going off the original topic, in Christianity humans ARE unnecessary. God created us because He loves us, not because He needs us. And Eric has good points, too. That's my position as well.


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