Aquinas definition of god

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Aquinas definition of god

Aquinas used the definition of god "a being of which no greater can be conceived". Why is this not a positive definition of god? It does not require omni attributes nor a supernatural nature. It is defined in terms of other things that do exist (other beings). So what makes this definition incoherent?


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wavefreak wrote: Aquinas

wavefreak wrote:

Aquinas used the definition of god "a being of which no greater can be conceived". Why is this not a positive definition of god? It does not require omni attributes nor a supernatural nature. It is defined in terms of other things that do exist (other beings). So what makes this definition incoherent?

It is not being defined in terms of other things that exist but simply as a relation to things that exist. No meaningful information is conveyed. How many steps are in the longest staircase that can be conceived of? What is the temperature of the hottest fire that can be conceived of?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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  J.R.R. Tolkien conceived

 

J.R.R. Tolkien conceived of a being that was a giant, burning, glowing, and semi-omniscient eye that lived at the top of a tower and could speak to people across great distances even though it didn't have the physical tools for speech.

 

I'd say he conceived of a pretty great being... but what does this say about its reality?

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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Vessel wrote: wavefreak

Vessel wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

Aquinas used the definition of god "a being of which no greater can be conceived". Why is this not a positive definition of god? It does not require omni attributes nor a supernatural nature. It is defined in terms of other things that do exist (other beings). So what makes this definition incoherent?

It is not being defined in terms of other things that exist but simply as a relation to things that exist. No meaningful information is conveyed. How many steps are in the longest staircase that can be conceived of? What is the temperature of the hottest fire that can be conceived of?

How is there no meaningful information conveyed? If the conception includes "being" it implies life and intelligence. These are positive porperties. The issue here is magnitude. Just because we cannot state the magnitude of something does not divest it of properties. 


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Archeopteryx

Archeopteryx wrote:

 

J.R.R. Tolkien conceived of a being that was a giant, burning, glowing, and semi-omniscient eye that lived at the top of a tower and could speak to people across great distances even though it didn't have the physical tools for speech.

 

I'd say he conceived of a pretty great being... but what does this say about its reality?

I think the assumption here is that the conceptualization of the being must allow for the potential for actual existence. Thus, a conceptualization of god the includes omniscient and omnipotent invokes an entity full of logical contradictions and so it is in invalid conceptualization.


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Wave, this definition is

Wave, this definition is flawed on at least two levels:

1) For any being with quality X, we can always conceive (even if only in the abstract) of a being with quality X+1. To say that there is a being of which there can be no greater is just words. There's no concept behind it.

2) It is still committing the error of supernatural, i.e. no universe of discourse. There are only two choices for an attribute. Either it is a finite attribute, or not. If it is not finite, it is supernatural, since all natural "things" have limits -- identity is a limit. If it is natural, saying "no greater X can be imagined" is simply saying that something is the most X possible within its definition.  That's not god.  It's just word play.

You've seen all the hubbub about infinite, especially in some of CptPineapple's threads, right? It's errant logic to apply the abstract concepts of mathematical infinity to the concept of real "things." If a thing exists, it has identity. Identity is a limit. If there is a limit, then there is a concept "X+1" which exists for that limit. The number one here is technically a variable which stands for some quantity of whatever attribute we're talking about. It's not strictly talking about one in the mathematical sense, of course.

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Wave, if you haven't heard

Wave, if you haven't heard it, there's a brilliant proof that god does not exist.  It's a spoof of Aquinas' proof of god's existance, and doesn't actually disprove god, but it does illustrate the error of Aquinas' definition.

If god is a being of which no greater can be imagined, then we can imagine a god who could create the universe, rule over it, and have complete power over everything.

This is all good, except that I can conceive of a greater being than that!  This god is limited by the fact of his own existence.  A more powerful being would be one who could do all of that without existing.  Since there is nothing more non-existent than non-existence, a non-existent deity who could do all of that would be the most powerful being of which I can conceive.  Therefore, god does not exist.

 

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wavefreak wrote:Vessel

wavefreak wrote:
Vessel wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

Aquinas used the definition of god "a being of which no greater can be conceived". Why is this not a positive definition of god? It does not require omni attributes nor a supernatural nature. It is defined in terms of other things that do exist (other beings). So what makes this definition incoherent?

It is not being defined in terms of other things that exist but simply as a relation to things that exist. No meaningful information is conveyed. How many steps are in the longest staircase that can be conceived of? What is the temperature of the hottest fire that can be conceived of?

How is there no meaningful information conveyed? If the conception includes "being" it implies life and intelligence. These are positive porperties. The issue here is magnitude. Just because we cannot state the magnitude of something does not divest it of properties. 

So, in your conception, being implies life and intelligence. Now what is the greatest life and intelligence of which you can conceive, infinite life and infinite intelligence? If not infinite then what quantity? Einsteinian intelligence? Mephistophelean life? What about X + 1 intelligence? If infinite, can you actually conceive of these or can you just extrapolate your conception of life and intelligence a little further and a little further never to actually reach a concept of the greatest?

Life and intelligence are properties that exist within finite bounds in the natural world. These are the only conceptions of life and intelligence we have. When we try to talk of eternal life and perfect intelligence then we are using the terms in ways that are contrary to the way in which these concepts exist, the ways in which they are concepts. If we are not talking about eternal life and perfect intelligence then why are we using the term god? Maybe Steven Hawking is god by this definition?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Hambydammit wrote: Wave,

Hambydammit wrote:

Wave, this definition is flawed on at least two levels:

1) For any being with quality X, we can always conceive (even if only in the abstract) of a being with quality X+1. To say that there is a being of which there can be no greater is just words. There's no concept behind it.

A being has the quality of being red. What is red+1? I suppose you must mean qualities that have magnitude? Then there are such things as velocity. Nothing has velocity greater than the speed of light in vacuum. There is no speed of light + 1.

 

Quote:

 

2) It is still committing the error of supernatural, i.e. no universe of discourse. There are only two choices for an attribute. Either it is a finite attribute, or not. If it is not finite, it is supernatural, since all natural "things" have limits -- identity is a limit. If it is natural, saying "no greater X can be imagined" is simply saying that something is the most X possible within its definition. That's not god. It's just word play.

Where does this definition require a being of infinite extent? I think the weakness in the defintion is the word conceive. I can conceive of pink ponie shooting lasers from their eyes. But the plausability of such an entity's existence renders discussion of it as worthless. But it is plausible, even within the realm of science, to conceive of entities of greater sentience than human. So applied to the realm of the plausible, why is "god is a being of which no greater can be conceived" inadequate? But "THAT"S NOT GOD" is what I expect to hear.

Quote:

You've seen all the hubbub about infinite, especially in some of CptPineapple's threads, right? It's errant logic to apply the abstract concepts of mathematical infinity to the concept of real "things." If a thing exists, it has identity. Identity is a limit. If there is a limit, then there is a concept "X+1" which exists for that limit. The number one here is technically a variable which stands for some quantity of whatever attribute we're talking about. It's not strictly talking about one in the mathematical sense, of course.

Where does this concept of identity and finiteness fit in with cosmologies that allow for multiple universes?


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Vessel wrote: So, in your

Vessel wrote:

So, in your conception, being implies life and intelligence. Now what is the greatest life and intelligence of which you can conceive, infinite life and infinite intelligence? If not infinite then what quantity? Einsteinian intelligence? Mephistophelean life? What about X + 1 intelligence? If infinite, can you actually conceive of these or can you just extrapolate your conception of life and intelligence a little further and a little further never to actually reach a concept of the greatest?

Life and intelligence are properties that exist within finite bounds in the natural world. These are the only conceptions of life and intelligence we have. When we try to talk of eternal life and perfect intelligence then we are using the terms in ways that are contrary to the way in which these concepts exist, the ways in which they are concepts. If we are not talking about eternal life and perfect intelligence then why are we using the term god? Maybe Steven Hawking is god by this definition?

What is the limit of 1/x^2 as x approaches infinity? Without every getting to infinity, we can confidently say zero. What justifies the idea that intelligence increases in a manner that it has no limit? Just as we can say that the limit of 1/x^2 at infinity is zero, why can we not say that the limit of intelligence at infinity is god? All that is necessary is some limiting factor (number of neurons, amount of energy required, whatever). If we double the size of our brains does it double our intelligence? Are there substrates other than neurins that produce sentience? Why not? I don't need the supernatural to define a super-sentient being. 

 

What is interesting about this definition of god is that is has actually allowed for a domain of discourse. If not, then how can you suggest that Steven Hawkings is god? Perhaps he is. This defintion does not dissallow that. So the fact is that this definition indeed gives us something to argue about. 


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wavefreak wrote:

wavefreak wrote:

Aquinas used the definition of god "a being of which no greater can be conceived". Why is this not a positive definition of god? It does not require omni attributes nor a supernatural nature. It is defined in terms of other things that do exist (other beings). So what makes this definition incoherent?

This is the Ontoligical Argument for God. The original formulation of the argument comes from Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), who wrote in his Proslogium that God must necessarily exist, that it is in fact self-contradictory to state that he does not. Since self-contradiction is one of the fatal flaws in any proposition, we must take this challenge seriously.

He begins with the defination of god as "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived." In order to have a debate, the Theist and the Atheist, he claims, must have this conception. But where does this conception come from? There are only two possibilities: either from the mind or understanding itself (i.e.-subjectivity) or from eternal reality (i.e.-objectivity). Something that exists only subjectively (in the mind) is less great than something that exists in reality, because it lacks one quality - existence. Therefore, in order to be the greatest conceivable being, a god would have to exist. If true, then God's nonexistence is by defination inconceivable and self-contradictory; Atheism is not only wrong but absurd and literally unthinkable and therefore "dull and a fool."

The problem with this argument is that it begs the defination begs its conclusion, for if we define god otherwise than 'that which nothing greater can exist,' the implication of existence vanishes. For example, if we define god as an all-good, all-loving being, then it is quite conceivable to presume that such being does not exist. In other words, if you build existence into the defination of something, then existence would appear to be one of its qualities. If we define spaghetti as the food than which no greater food can be conceived, then by Anslem's reasoning, it would have to exist.

Anslem's logic assumes that a conception must have some correspondence in reality, yet we know that ideas can exist independent from reality. I can imagine a world with no religion, but it does not exist (well, not yet, anyway).

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. - Seneca


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wavefreak wrote: Vessel

wavefreak wrote:
Vessel wrote:

So, in your conception, being implies life and intelligence. Now what is the greatest life and intelligence of which you can conceive, infinite life and infinite intelligence? If not infinite then what quantity? Einsteinian intelligence? Mephistophelean life? What about X + 1 intelligence? If infinite, can you actually conceive of these or can you just extrapolate your conception of life and intelligence a little further and a little further never to actually reach a concept of the greatest?

Life and intelligence are properties that exist within finite bounds in the natural world. These are the only conceptions of life and intelligence we have. When we try to talk of eternal life and perfect intelligence then we are using the terms in ways that are contrary to the way in which these concepts exist, the ways in which they are concepts. If we are not talking about eternal life and perfect intelligence then why are we using the term god? Maybe Steven Hawking is god by this definition?

What is the limit of 1/x^2 as x approaches infinity? Without every getting to infinity, we can confidently say zero. What justifies the idea that intelligence increases in a manner that it has no limit? Just as we can say that the limit of 1/x^2 at infinity is zero, why can we not say that the limit of intelligence at infinity is god?

We could but that tells us nothing as god is not a quantity. We have now defined god as a being of maximum intelligence, and maximum intelligence as the intelligence of god. We have conveyed no useful information. We still don't know what maximum intelligence is and therefor we have god as a being of X intelligence. I guess we could also say he is a being of X life. So far the useful information amounts to he is a being.

 

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All that is necessary is some limiting factor (number of neurons, amount of energy required, whatever). If we double the size of our brains does it double our intelligence? Are there substrates other than neurins that produce sentience? Why not? I don't need the supernatural to define a super-sentient being.

Super sentient in the manner that Superman is a superior man not super sentient in the manner of above sentient. These are interesting topics as they pertain to theoretical capabilities but not the basis for any claims of actual existants. We can discuss spacemen with superior intelligence and define them as god, or a future super computer could be god. It is simply the basis for wild imaginative speculation and not any criteria by which we can really consider any actual existence within any specific limits.  

Quote:
What is interesting about this definition of god is that is has actually allowed for a domain of discourse. If not, then how can you suggest that Steven Hawkings is god?

But it is only because you have defined the term god so that a human being could qualify. This would not make Stephen Hawking anything but the man he currently is, it would just mean we tacked the useless term god onto the man. 

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 So the fact is that this definition indeed gives us something to argue about.

And we can argue about what constitutes the perfect shoe as well, but it would be missing the point of why most atheists debate the existence of god. 

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Then the Christian God is

Then the Christian God is not God since I can concieve of a being that can create a perfect universe without suffering without having to infringe on any being's free will.  However, being that the world is not perfect, it suggests that God cannot possibly exist.  Therefore, this being many people call "God" must be an imposter if this being does in fact exist since this being was unable to create a perfect universe without infringing on a being's free will, thus, perferred to let the universe and his creations squalor in ignorance and suffering.

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Quote: A being has the

Quote:
A being has the quality of being red. What is red+1? I suppose you must mean qualities that have magnitude?

False analogy. In Aquinas definition, he used the word greater. Therefore, he is referring only to things that have degrees. Yes, there is a range of colors that we call "red" but in reality, each "red" that we see is a fixed and unalterable wavelength.

Quote:
Then there are such things as velocity. Nothing has velocity greater than the speed of light in vacuum. There is no speed of light + 1.

In his definition, he said imagine (or conceive... whatever). Star Trek defeats this argument.

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I can conceive of pink ponie shooting lasers from their eyes. But the plausability of such an entity's existence renders discussion of it as worthless.

So, are you modifying Aquinas, or just giving us your own theories now?

You asked what was wrong with Aquinas, not what was wrong with your argument.

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So applied to the realm of the plausible, why is "god is a being of which no greater can be conceived" inadequate?

Because of our ability to conceptualize anything that has degrees of magnitude with the representation of X+1. I already explained this to you.

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But "THAT"S NOT GOD" is what I expect to hear.

Sorry to disappoint.

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Where does this concept of identity and finiteness fit in with cosmologies that allow for multiple universes?

Whoops. You missed the point completely. Anything that exists has a limit, whether it's a multiverse or the concept of infinity. Identity IS a limit. If a thing has a limit and the capacity for degree, it can be conceived of as X+1.

If a thing is not capable of being expressed as a degree of magnitude, then the whole concept of "greater" is incoherent, and Aquinas definition fails.

 

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illeatyourdog wrote: Then

illeatyourdog wrote:
Then the Christian God is not God since I can concieve of a being that can create a perfect universe without suffering without having to infringe on any being's free will. However, being that the world is not perfect, it suggests that God cannot possibly exist. Therefore, this being many people call "God" must be an imposter if this being does in fact exist since this being was unable to create a perfect universe without infringing on a being's free will, thus, perferred to let the universe and his creations squalor in ignorance and suffering.

 

I already stated that conceiving something is not sufficient. Any conceptulization needs to be qualified to something that is at a minimum plausible. I can conceive of an entity that is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent and immediately give rise to lots of contradictory aspests of such a being that make its existence logically impossible.

It is not impossible to conceive of an entity of such stature that it is for all practical purposes god even if iwe limit ourselves to materialism.  Insisting that any god must have omni properties can be a strawman used to avoid other possibilities. The traditional god has been logically invalidated ad nauseum. But this only means that that conceptualization of god is incorrect. It does not follow that because a god defined as supernatural, omni everything can't exist that there is no entity that is, releative to humanity, god. 


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wavefreak wrote: It does

wavefreak wrote:

It does not follow that because a god defined as supernatural, omni everything can't exist that there is no entity that is, releative to humanity, god.

Such as a member of a sufficiently advanced species? 

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wavefreak

wavefreak wrote:

illeatyourdog wrote:
Then the Christian God is not God since I can concieve of a being that can create a perfect universe without suffering without having to infringe on any being's free will. However, being that the world is not perfect, it suggests that God cannot possibly exist. Therefore, this being many people call "God" must be an imposter if this being does in fact exist since this being was unable to create a perfect universe without infringing on a being's free will, thus, perferred to let the universe and his creations squalor in ignorance and suffering.

 

I already stated that conceiving something is not sufficient. Any conceptulization needs to be qualified to something that is at a minimum plausible. I can conceive of an entity that is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent and immediately give rise to lots of contradictory aspests of such a being that make its existence logically impossible.

It is not impossible to conceive of an entity of such stature that it is for all practical purposes god even if iwe limit ourselves to materialism. Insisting that any god must have omni properties can be a strawman used to avoid other possibilities. The traditional god has been logically invalidated ad nauseum. But this only means that that conceptualization of god is incorrect. It does not follow that because a god defined as supernatural, omni everything can't exist that there is no entity that is, releative to humanity, god.

 

I'm going to have to agree with randalllord who said that the argument fails since the supposed conclusion (god exists) is built into the premises.

I also agree that it fails since there is no real limit to how many times we can apply the word "greater". No matter what great being is proposed, we can ALWAYS say, "well what's greater than that?" It doesn't mean we have to know the exact answer, but it does mean that we have the capacity to one-up any great being that we imagine.

And even if the argument worked, it still wouldn't say which god.

 

 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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Just to clarify, the

Just to clarify, the original question didn't deal with whether or not the ontological argument was sound.  It only asked why the particular definition of god was incoherent.

Wave, I don't mean to speak for you.  I'm just relating that so that you see why I didn't delve into the ontological argument itself.  I was merely interested in showing why that particular definition fails to provide anything useful from which to begin an argument.

 

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wavefreak wrote:

wavefreak wrote:

Aquinas used the definition of god "a being of which no greater can be conceived". Why is this not a positive definition of god?

Apparently it would be positive, if one could actually conceive of a being of which no greater can be conceived.

But is this actually possible?

(Hint: can there be a greatest possible number? If not, do you see that perhaps there is a hidden internal contradiction making the claim incoherent?) 

Quote:

It does not require omni attributes nor a supernatural nature. It is defined in terms of other things that do exist (other beings). So what makes this definition incoherent?

Two problems arise

1) Can you actually perform the task outlined in the statement?

2) If you can, don't you end up with a being, i.e. something natural, materialistic?

Both roads of the fork lead to refutation... my sense is that point 1 is actually impossible.

 

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wavefreak wrote:

wavefreak wrote:

What is interesting about this definition of god is that is has actually allowed for a domain of discourse.

Does it?

Can you actually conceive of a being of which none can be greater?

 

Is it possible that the phrase "greatest conceivable" is actually problematic? 

Why not actually try to peform this injunction, and see if you can accomplish it.

See if you run into a problem.

(Also note: your terms STILL steal from naturalism, so even if you were able to accomplish the feat, what are you doing other than coming up with the 'greatest' natural, physical entity?)

 

Two fatal problems are here, but I am interested in seeing if you yourself can concede the real problem in part 1: Can you actually conceive of a 'greatest being" or is this challenge actually hiding a secret impossibility?

Think hard, because there is an answer here, and it's been sitting in philosophy books for centuries... and, as you might guess, it's not good for your side...

 Hint: Consider a visit to Gaunilo's Island.

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Hambydammit wrote: Just to

Hambydammit wrote:

Just to clarify, the original question didn't deal with whether or not the ontological argument was sound. It only asked why the particular definition of god was incoherent.

Wave, I don't mean to speak for you. I'm just relating that so that you see why I didn't delve into the ontological argument itself. I was merely interested in showing why that particular definition fails to provide anything useful from which to begin an argument.

 

Correct. I am curious about the definition itself. The onotlogical proof offered by Aquinas has many well documented objections. 


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todangst wrote: Does

todangst wrote:

Does it?

Can you actually conceive of a being of which none can be greater?

 

 

Maybe. Let's limit it to a single property, intelligence. Assume that any intelligence must have some substrate to operate within, such as a brain. Assume further that intelligence is tied to the mass of the substrate by a relation that is defined by the eqation Intelligence = summation of an infinite series such that there is a strict upper bound to the sum. This would allow for a substrate of infinite mass but finite intelligence. Because of the limiting nature of the sum, no entity could exist with intelligence grater that as conceived.

 

Clearly this is an arbitrary example, but the mathematics of limits allows for finite bounds to properties even in infinite series.

 

Quote:

Is it possible that the phrase "greatest conceivable" is actually problematic?

 

I already mentioned this problem above.

 

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Also note: your terms STILL steal from naturalism,

How does this steal from naturalism when I accept a materialism? I assume god is part of what is natural.

Quote:

so even if you were able to accomplish the feat, what are you doing other than coming up with the 'greatest' natural, physical entity?

And why is this a problem? Why must I limit my concept of god to a non-natural or supernatural entity?

 

Quote:

Two fatal problems are here, but I am interested in seeing if you yourself can concede the real problem in part 1: Can you actually conceive of a 'greatest being" or is this challenge actually hiding a secret impossibility?

See my hypothetical above.


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zarathustra

zarathustra wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

It does not follow that because a god defined as supernatural, omni everything can't exist that there is no entity that is, releative to humanity, god.

Such as a member of a sufficiently advanced species?

Or Stephen Hawkings. The important attribute is the relation to humanity. 


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wavefreak wrote: todangst

wavefreak wrote:
todangst wrote:

Does it?

Can you actually conceive of a being of which none can be greater?

 

 

Maybe. Let's limit it to a single property, intelligence. Assume that any intelligence must have some substrate to operate within, such as a brain. Assume further that intelligence is tied to the mass of the substrate by a relation that is defined by the eqation Intelligence = summation of an infinite series such that there is a strict upper bound to the sum. This would allow for a substrate of infinite mass but finite intelligence. Because of the limiting nature of the sum, no entity could exist with intelligence grater that as conceived.

Clearly this is an arbitrary example, but the mathematics of limits allows for finite bounds to properties even in infinite series.

Things get difficult when you recognize that your very assumptions might be problematic. It seems natural to assume that the 'greatest' being would be the most intelligent, but intelligence itself points to limitation - the need to represent the world in some finite package - a brain. Perhaps something that is the 'greatest' would be beyond intelligence, in that it wouldn't need to represent the outer world, or ponder possibilities or abstractions in the first place. 

This is precisely why the 'greatest possible being' argument can't even get off the ground... it requires us to define what perfection is, and that's impossible.

 

 

Quote:

Is it possible that the phrase "greatest conceivable" is actually problematic?

 

Quote:
 

I already mentioned this problem above.

Glad to hear it. 

 

Quote:
 

How does this steal from naturalism when I accept a materialism? I assume god is part of what is natural.

Then you're not a theist? If god=nature then you've entered pantheism.

In addition, if 'god = nature' then I don't quite see how you solve typical 'theist problems' such as:

who created existence, (i.e. nature)

who created the laws of nature

and so on... 

Saying "god is natural' to me is closeted atheism. 

No offense. 

 

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wavrefreak wrote: Maybe.

wavrefreak wrote:
Maybe. Let's limit it to a single property, intelligence. Assume that any intelligence must have some substrate to operate within, such as a brain.

 

So a jellyfish isn't intelligent?

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topher wrote: I already

topher wrote:
I already stated that conceiving something is not sufficient. Any conceptulization needs to be qualified to something that is at a minimum plausible.

 

So pretty much any conception of God is not sufficient since any conception is either not plausible or not the greatest the can be concieved. 

 

Quote:
It does not follow that because a god defined as supernatural, omni everything can't exist that there is no entity that is, releative to humanity, god. 

 

I did not use my arguement as way to disrpove the existence of the Christian God, rather, to show how this Christian God must be an imposter since i can concieve of a greater God than the one portrayed in the Bible (of course the Christian Conception wouldnt even fit your conditions which are, at best, unclear).  Now, if you want to hold that you weren't referring to the Christian conception, thats fine, but then don't quote aquinas since that was the God he was referring to when he made his definition.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


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Quote: Apparently it would

Quote:
Apparently it would be positive, if one could actually conceive of a being of which no greater can be conceived.

But is this actually possible?

(Hint: can there be a greatest possible number? If not, do you see that perhaps there is a hidden internal contradiction making the claim incoherent?)

Hmmm...

It's as if my words had no effect whatsoever...

Hambydammit wrote:
1) For any being with quality X, we can always conceive (even if only in the abstract) of a being with quality X+1. To say that there is a being of which there can be no greater is just words. There's no concept behind it.

 

Quote:
2) If you can, don't you end up with a being, i.e. something natural, materialistic?

And again...

Hambydammit wrote:
2) It is still committing the error of supernatural, i.e. no universe of discourse. There are only two choices for an attribute. Either it is a finite attribute, or not. If it is not finite, it is supernatural, since all natural "things" have limits -- identity is a limit. If it is natural, saying "no greater X can be imagined" is simply saying that something is the most X possible within its definition.  That's not god.  It's just word play.

It's almost as if wavefreak is glossing over this point, continuing on with speculations about this definition, even when the answer has been presented to him multiple times...

Wave... dude... You're a smart fellow.  Let your brain work, and admit to yourself that you simply can't gloss over these points.  There is no rebuttal possible.  Therefore, the definition is incoherent.

Also, please admit to yourself that adding your own caveats to Aquinas' definition is dishonest.  He wrote volumes about this.  Don't you think he'd have mentioned it if he meant it?  He was nothing if not thorough.

When you're done admitting that, you could also admit that your caveats still don't help the definition, because X+1 is plausible for anything that can have a quantity or a degree of magnitude.

 

Quote:
It is not impossible to conceive of an entity of such stature that it is for all practical purposes god even if iwe limit ourselves to materialism.

Why are you hung up on some kind of super-alien who you can call god?

It's a serious question, and not rhetorical.  You've spent months on this site trying to justify belief that some super duper aliens somewhere are smart and powerful enough to justify your label of god.  You've been running around the scientific method and philosophy trying to find any little hole into which this superhero alien could fit, just because you can't explain something quirky that went on in your brain a couple of times, even though science offers perfectly good explanations for all kinds of hallucinations and all kinds of coincidental things that could be called miraculous.

Seriously, why do you need to believe a superhero alien did it?

 

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todangst wrote: This is

todangst wrote:

This is precisely why the 'greatest possible being' argument can't even get off the ground... it requires us to define what perfection is, and that's impossible.

 

 

Greatest is not the same as perfection. Where did I invoke perfection? 

Quote:
 

Then you're not a theist? If god=nature then you've entered pantheism.

 

    I have over 1000 posts to this site andyou just realized this? Well at least I'm on your radar now.

Quote:
 

In addition, if 'god = nature' then I don't quite see how you solve typical 'theist problems' such as:

who created existence, (i.e. nature)

who created the laws of nature

and so on...

I can't move on to these until I have an adequate definition of god, now can I? 


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Hambydammit wrote: Why are

Hambydammit wrote:

Why are you hung up on some kind of super-alien who you can call god?

How is ANY conceptualization of god not alien? Dropping all logic, if god was indeed supernatural omni everything, that is about as frickin alien as you can get. Why does it matter whether this alien is supernatural or material? It is still alien. 


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Quote: How is ANY

Quote:
How is ANY conceptualization of god not alien? Dropping all logic, if god was indeed supernatural omni everything, that is about as frickin alien as you can get. Why does it matter whether this alien is supernatural or material? It is still alien.

It's a fair point.  I withdraw the question.

 

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wavefreak

wavefreak wrote:
Hambydammit wrote:

Why are you hung up on some kind of super-alien who you can call god?

How is ANY conceptualization of god not alien? Dropping all logic, if god was indeed supernatural omni everything, that is about as frickin alien as you can get. Why does it matter whether this alien is supernatural or material? It is still alien. 

Well lets look at how your definition fits the natural, material alien. We can just use a big headed gray dude since that is a common conception of an alien entity.

Your definition uses the concept of greatest possible living material intelligence, correct?

Well, we have a pretty darn good understanding of the nature of life. Life self replicates and adapts (non-intentionally) and diverges. We have no good reason to think any life would not function in this same manner as it seems a pretty simple conclusion that that which exists in an environment must either adapt to changes in the environment or cease to exist. So if there is life, it must adapt to change. Self replication seems to be the natural way this occurs (you may want to try and define a stagnant eternal life but there are problems with this we can discuss if need be) and divergence seems to be a natural extention of self replication and adaptation.

So if we are going to consider an alien life form it seems only reasonable that we would be, to a very high degree of probability, considering an alien population.

So should we consider the smartest and healthiest of these aliens our god, by your definition? Or would there be an entire race of gods in this case?

 

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Vessel wrote: wavefreak

Vessel wrote:
wavefreak wrote:
Hambydammit wrote:

Why are you hung up on some kind of super-alien who you can call god?

How is ANY conceptualization of god not alien? Dropping all logic, if god was indeed supernatural omni everything, that is about as frickin alien as you can get. Why does it matter whether this alien is supernatural or material? It is still alien.

Well lets look at how your definition fits the natural, material alien. We can just use a big headed gray dude since that is a common conception of an alien entity.

Your definition uses the concept of greatest possible living material intelligence, correct?

Well, we have a pretty darn good understanding of the nature of life. Life self replicates and adapts (non-intentionally) and diverges. We have no good reason to think any life would not function in this same manner as it seems a pretty simple conclusion that that which exists in an environment must either adapt to changes in the environment or cease to exist. So if there is life, it must adapt to change. Self replication seems to be the natural way this occurs (you may want to try and define a stagnant eternal life but there are problems with this we can discuss if need be) and divergence seems to be a natural extention of self replication and adaptation.

So if we are going to consider an alien life form it seems only reasonable that we would be, to a very high degree of probability, considering an alien population.

So should we consider the smartest and healthiest of these aliens our god, by your definition? Or would there be an entire race of gods in this case?

 

These are all fair questions but they are running ahead of anything I am thinking about. I'm looking at definitions offered in the past, such as what Aquinas used, and learning what the objections to those defintions are.  Sometimes the objections force me to change my conceptualization of reality. Dropping supernatural, for instance, was a no-brainer. If something exists it exists as something. There is no need for some "other" thing. Other objections take considerable effort on my part for me to integrate them into my view of reality.


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My last post doesn't

My last post doesn't really require a response. It is just attempting to show that when we try and take concepts which are part of a web of interlinked concepts that we know as reality we can't divorce them from their context by extracting the strand from the web and attemtping to allow it to exist on its own. We cannot really divorce life or intelligence from our understandings of life and intelligence as we know them to exist. So we end up with life andintelligence in the context we understand them which is in a population of natural material entities. 

When we boil down what you are attempting to do in this thread it comes down to the fact that you are attempting to define some unknown entity. Thats great. Sci-Fi writers make a living out of doing it. But when they do it they make up new words to label the entity. If we discovered a new entity that actually existed we would name it by constructing a new term we with which to refer to it. Trying to take a term 'god' and invent a definition for it makes absolutely no sense. This is a useless pursuit as any definition could be used without creating a contradiction if the term is currently without a referrent. The way this normally would work is one would find an existing thing and then apply a term.  

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
I can conceive of pink ponie shooting lasers from their eyes. But the plausability of such an entity's existence renders discussion of it as worthless.

So, are you modifying Aquinas, or just giving us your own theories now?

You asked what was wrong with Aquinas, not what was wrong with your argument.

 

I missed this comment. I guess I might be modifying it. I see problems in the definition so I suppose I am tweaking it on the fly. That's probably not a good approach. I need more practice at sticking to the specifics of my own questions.


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Vessel wrote: My last post

Vessel wrote:

My last post doesn't really require a response. It is just attempting to show that when we try and take concepts which are part of a web of interlinked concepts that we know as reality we can't divorce them from their context by extracting the strand from the web and attemtping to allow it to exist on its own. We cannot really divorce life or intelligence from our understandings of life and intelligence as we know them to exist. So we end up with life andintelligence in the context we understand them which is in a population of natural material entities.

When we boil down what you are attempting to do in this thread it comes down to the fact that you are attempting to define some unknown entity. Thats great. Sci-Fi writers make a living out of doing it. But when they do it they make up new words to label the entity. If we discovered a new entity that actually existed we would name it by constructing a new term we with which to refer to it. Trying to take a term 'god' and invent a definition for it makes absolutely no sense. This is a useless pursuit as any definition could be used without creating a contradiction if the term is currently without a referrent. The way this normally would work is one would find an existing thing and then apply a term.

 

The referrent in this case is my experience of reality. Unfortunately, I cannot give you that experience. My hope is that at some point in the future I will have resolved my own interenal cognitive dissonance and hence be able to adequately communicate these experiences. 


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wavefreak wrote:   The

wavefreak wrote:

 

The referrent in this case is my experience of reality. Unfortunately, I cannot give you that experience. My hope is that at some point in the future I will have resolved my own interenal cognitive dissonance and hence be able to adequately communicate these experiences. 

 

I can understand that if you have had an inexplicable experience you would desire to find an explanation. But, the way to go about doing so in not through attempting to imagine some existence to which to credit the experience. You have no reason to think that the imagined, or invented, entity/existence is anything remotely resembling whatever it is that is actually responsible for your experience. The only reliable method for defining any natural material existence is through empirical observation. If that is not possible then it  might be best to just live with the fact that you are not able to explain your experience.

Either way, to try and steal the term god from its regular context is not at all helpful. Why not just say that you think you could have experienced alien intelligence? The word god is taken and even if it isn't presently being used to denote a coherent concept it is being used in a broad, but fairly specific, manner.

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Vessel wrote: wavefreak

Vessel wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

 

The referrent in this case is my experience of reality. Unfortunately, I cannot give you that experience. My hope is that at some point in the future I will have resolved my own interenal cognitive dissonance and hence be able to adequately communicate these experiences.

 

I can understand that if you have had an inexplicable experience you would desire to find an explanation. But, the way to go about doing so in not through attempting to imagine some existence to which to credit the experience. You have no reason to think that the imagined, or invented, entity/existence is anything remotely resembling whatever it is that is actually responsible for your experience. The only reliable method for defining any natural material existence is through empirical observation. If that is not possible then it might be best to just live with the fact that you are not able to explain your experience.

Either way, to try and steal the term god from its regular context is not at all helpful. Why not just say that you think you could have experienced alien intelligence? The word god is taken and even if it isn't presently being used to denote a coherent concept it is being used in a broad, but fairly specific, manner.

 

What term would you like me to use. The big alien in the sky? Flarb? Mr. X? What does not using the term god gain us?


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wavefreak wrote: What term

wavefreak wrote:

What term would you like me to use. The big alien in the sky? Flarb? Mr. X? What does not using the term god gain us?

It has nothing to do with what term I would like you to use. It has to do with what term is doesn't make any sense to use. If you are going to use a term that is already being used to denote something different why not use tomato, or John Updike, or farfegnugen?

But the main point is, why use any term until you actually have an actual idea of the existence you are referring to? Not saying this is so, but what if the reason behind your experience was a brain tumor? Would it be correct to label the brain tumor god since it would be the cause of the phenomenon you are looking for? No. There is no sense in attempting to assign a name to, and thereby give a value to, an unknown. That is why variables are often used. Are you using the term god as a variable?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Quote: What term would you

Quote:
What term would you like me to use. The big alien in the sky? Flarb? Mr. X? What does not using the term god gain us?

Vessel already answered this question for you.  "God" means some sort of super-duper non-natural being that lives in a magical place and has magic powers and tells people what to do.

What you're talking about is not god.  If it's from earth, it's a terrestrial life form.  If it's not, it's an alien life form.

Seriously, wave, how many choices do you have here?  It's not supernatural, so if it's alive, it's a lifeform.  If you believe it lives on earth, then it's some undiscovered super-thingy, but it's still got to have some effect on the world that can be observed.  If it's an alien, it's exactly the same thing, except we call it an alien.

You're looking for a natural lifeform that causes brain hallucinations, as far as I can tell.

Seems pretty nutty, but I'm not here to judge... just to try to keep the facts straight.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: You're

Hambydammit wrote:

You're looking for a natural lifeform that causes brain hallucinations, as far as I can tell.

Seems pretty nutty, but I'm not here to judge... just to try to keep the facts straight.

 

 

Hallucinations imply at minimum a distorted perceptual event. At worst, it is an event with no external referent. You are implying that I am not always in full posession of my faculties. No?


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Quote: Hallucinations imply

Quote:
Hallucinations imply at minimum a distorted perceptual event. At worst, it is an event with no external referent. You are implying that I am not always in full posession of my faculties. No?

Well, you and I have talked about this before, and you said you had an experience that defied reality. That's a hallucination by all credible accounts.

Perception of reality, as you know, is a tenuous matter. You know how a slight injury to a particular part of the brain can cause massive personality change, paranoia, and even persistent hallucinations.

I've had hallucinations before. No, I'm not talking about chemically induced. I mean sober, awake, and seeing and/or hearing something that wasn't really there. Mine were nothing special, and I could easily recognize them as a hallucination, but it does happen.

The point is, you had some sort of as yet unspecified experience that you feel defied reality. The most logical answer is that your perception was not accurate. The question of your faculties... well, I think it's a little wacky to think a mystical experience means there are aliens making weird shit happen to humans, but all in all, you seem like a pretty together guy.

I don't know how else to say it.

 

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Perhaps we should modify the

Perhaps we should modify the ontological argument to "That greater than which cannot be hallucinated".

There are no theists on operating tables.

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zarathustra wrote: Perhaps

zarathustra wrote:
Perhaps we should modify the ontological argument to "That greater than which cannot be hallucinated".

 

That won't work. Just would need better and better drugs.