Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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cooran
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Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by cooran » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:05 pm

Hello all,

Australian Bhikkhu Sujato has written a very interesting article:

Why we can be certain that God does not exist
https://sujato.wordpress.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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SDC
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by SDC » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:59 am

Hello Chris,

Would you mind sharing what you found interesting about the article? Did Bhante take a unique approach?

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daverupa
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by daverupa » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:44 am

His point of departure seems to be the wording that Dawkins has used with respect to the question; he takes a position of surety, where Dawkins speaks of a strong likelihood. I think he wants to have the level of discourse on this question hedge-free; no hedging of bets, no wiggle-phrases.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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tiltbillings
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:38 am

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Australian Bhikkhu Sujato has written a very interesting article:

Why we can be certain that God does not exist
https://sujato.wordpress.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

With metta,
Chris
I also found this interesting and related entry on his bloggy thing.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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cooran
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by cooran » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:22 am

He has come on a different path from the one he walked as Anthony Best when playing in Martha's Vineyard:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha%27s_Vineyard_(band" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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tiltbillings
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:41 am

cooran wrote:He has come on a different path from the one he walked as Anthony Best when playing in Martha's Vineyard:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha%27s_Vineyard_(band" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

With metta,
Chris
Alas, that link does not seem to go anywhere useful.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Azramin
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Azramin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:14 am

I didn't personally find the arguments in this article compelling. There are too many instances where something formally considered impossible were found to be entirely possible once enough information was available. I can appreciate the points the author was attempting to make, but I'm not convinced by them.

I have given this matter considerable thought in the past and come up with the following paradoxs that can't easily be explained.
I would frame this by saying you need to use the points of reference the material you're refuting uses to assert it's claims to gain the attention of those making the claims.

So using the book of Genesis as a starting point, it is claimed there was nothing. Over "6 days" God set about creating the universe.

The 1st paradox here is the statement of time. 6 days. Nobody can figure out whether this is 6 earth days. 6 figurative days of indeterminate time. There was in fact nothing. Therefore time didn't exist. By what means could you realise time?

The 2nd paradox is if nothing existed, but God did exist, God doesn't consist of anything within the known universe. Take a second to think carefully about this. I've found the point is completely lost on Christians. They just don't get the implication.

The 3rd paradox is that man is said to be created in God's likeness. This again gets people unhinged and they can't agree what this statement actually means. Most texts in English state, "created man in our likeness." This only confuses things further because God is now a plural entity, not a singular. Catholics tiptoe around this by explaining this refers to the trinity.
If man is created in God's likeness, this clearly doesn't mean physical form. People interchange the term image thinking it's the same thing, but at a subtle level it's not. Nothing existed before creation, therefore God could not have had a physical form. Nothing existed to sustain or support that form so it's like a movie about time travel. You can never logically resolve the paradox it presents.
The only other meaning this "created in our likeness" could possibly have is that man has the non - physical attributes of God. Is in fact Godlike. That suggestion upsets people of faith a very great deal, but it's not an unreasonable assumption based on the "evidence" provided. IE: The statements being made.

That implies man has the ability to create material objects by thought and intent alone. This is an attribute clearly documented by Genesis. IE: A stated attribute God possesses.

As far fetched as this proposition might seem, on the basis of neuroscience and quantum theory I wouldn't go so far as to say it's impossible.

Here's a simple experiment to illustrate the point. Think of a bright yellow juicy lemon. Picture it vividly in your mind. Really visualise it clearly.
Now imagine biting into it. Taste that sourness in your mouth. What just happened?

Was the lemon real? Why did your mouth salivate if it wasn't real? You created a physical effect from thought alone! Yogis can control their physical experience the same way. Anyone can in fact.

This doesn't prove the existence of God and I'm not trying to imply that it does. What it does illustrate is impossible is a term that should be used with immense wisdom and knowledge.
I know of some other examples of this concerning white cells in blood. EG: even the thought of cutting oneself causes white cells in a blood sample in another room to react from the mere intent alone.

What this tells us is there is a universe that we haven't even begun to fathom. None of this proves the existence of God, but it does serve as a warning of how little we know about the actual nature of existence.

Applying critical thought to most religious texts is all that's required to bring their claims into question.
This is where Buddhist science stands out for me. Truth and fact don't require belief or faith. You can discern fact for yourself via a prescribed repeatable method.

MRIs provide evidence of the actual physical change that occurs in the brain of people who meditate. At a neurological level you are literally rewiring your brain when you meditate.

At a psychological level meditation brings calmness of mind. This permits you to be far more analytical with greater depths of concentration. This has nothing to do with proving or disproving God. It does have everything to do with the credibility of the Buddha's insights.

Though I could go on in depth I feel I've made the point I set out to make why I didn't feel compelled by the original article.
Truth doesn't require belief in order to be true. Only untruth relies on faith to survive.

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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by chownah » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:55 am

Everytime I see the title of this topic I smile because we are mostly very confused about our own self's existence and now we can be certain about the existence of god? :jumping:
chownah
Last edited by chownah on Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Azramin
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Azramin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:01 pm

chownah wrote:Everytime I see the title of this topic I smile because we are mostly very confused about our own selfs existence and not we can be certain about the existence of god? :jumping:
chownah
LOL that's actually a great point!
Truth doesn't require belief in order to be true. Only untruth relies on faith to survive.

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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:11 pm

chownah wrote:Everytime I see the title of this topic I smile because we are mostly very confused about our own self's existence and now we can be certain about the existence of god? :jumping:
Or indeed the non-existence of God. I've debated this question with theists quite a bit, and the bottom line is that we cannot be certain that God does not exist. Though as science progresses the gaps are surely getting smaller for the "God of the gaps".

I have converted to Ignosticism, by the way. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by meindzai » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:18 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
chownah wrote:Everytime I see the title of this topic I smile because we are mostly very confused about our own self's existence and now we can be certain about the existence of god? :jumping:
Or indeed the non-existence of God. I've debated this question with theists quite a bit, and the bottom line is that we cannot be certain that God does not exist. Though as science progresses the gaps are surely getting smaller for the "God of the gaps".

I have converted to Ignosticism, by the way. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
...and you just converted me. :woohoo:

I didn't know there was a name for my position. Whenever I try to explain it, it comes off sounding complicated. I usually end up just saying that the probability that God (of any theist accepted definition) exists seems extremely low.

It's not a wiggle position. It just means the issue being discussed does not admit logical analysis.

-Dave K

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Sam Vara
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:47 pm

There are five things, Bhāradvāja, that may turn out in two different ways here and now. What five? Faith, approval, oral tradition, reasoned cogitation, and reflective acceptance of a view. These five things may turn out in two different ways here and now. Now something may be fully accepted out of faith, yet it may be empty, hollow, and false; but something else may not be fully accepted out of faith, yet it may be factual, true, and unmistaken. Again, something may be fully approved of…well transmitted…well cogitated…well reflected upon, yet it may be empty, hollow, and false; but something else may not be well reflected upon, yet it may be factual, true, and unmistaken. Under these conditions it is not proper for a wise man who preserves truth to come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’”
http://suttacentral.net/en/mn95

Nice article, but the title reads as if it were the result of saccanubodha, or direct awakening to truth; whereas the workings out (in the text itself) point to something which should more appropriately be dealt with by means of saccanurakkhana, or the protection of the truth.
If a person approves of something…if he receives an oral tradition…if he reaches a conclusion based on reasoned cogitation…if he gains a reflective acceptance of a view, he preserves truth when he says: ‘My reflective acceptance of a view is thus’; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ In this way too, Bhāradvāja, there is the preservation of truth; in this way he preserves truth; in this way we describe the preservation of truth. But as yet there is no discovery of truth.”
I can't be certain, according to the exacting standards outlined above. I just don't have much use for the concept, as I understand it.

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Bundokji
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Bundokji » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:39 pm

Hello,

I am not sure why Sujato wasted his time writing and arguing about the non existence of God!!

In my mind, the best position that suits Buddhists in relation to this issue is Apathesim.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Peace
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Mkoll
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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Mkoll » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:43 am

Bundokji wrote:Hello,

I am not sure why Sujato wasted his time writing and arguing about the non existence of God!!
Neither am I. Different stroke, I guess.
Bundokji wrote:In my mind, the best position that suits Buddhists in relation to this issue is Apathesim.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Peace
I would go even further than apatheism as far as "God" is concerned. It's just a non-issue, no "ism" needed.

Thanks for the link, by the way: I didn't know the concept of "apatheism" existed.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Why we can be certain that God does not exist

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:14 am

Spiny Norman wrote: I have converted to Ignosticism, by the way. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Agreed, the statement "Why we can be certain that God does not exist" makes no sense unless there is first a clearly understood and agreed definition of "God".
Mkoll wrote: I didn't know the concept of "apatheism" existed.
Clearly you've already been practicing it then.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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