If God doesn't exist then what are the foundations of logic?

Same as they are if God does exist. The idea that God (if such there be) has control over truths of math and logic is one that a few philosophers have argued for (Descartes, for instance, if I'm not mistaken) but even staunch believers in omnipotence typically understand omnipotence in a way that doesn't call for the puzzling idea that God could change the laws of logic. Briefly, the view of many theists would that God can perform any logically possible task. One reason for saying that is that logical "constraints" help us make sense of what omnipotence might mean.Why anyone would want more is hard to fathom. Suppose someone asked God to light up a set of pixels on an infintely high-resolution screen so that these pixels made a figure that was perfectly round and perfectly square. What would count? Is there actually a genuine task to be done here? If not, then it hardly seems to be a limitation on God's power (or anyone else's) that s/he can't complete the task.

I am not trained in formal logic, so I was hoping you could help me with the moral argument for the existence of God, postulated as follows: 1. If God doesn't exist, then objective moral standards don't exist. 2. Objective moral standards exist. Therefore God exists. I don't really understand why the arguer is allowed to throw in premise 2. It seems that in order to prove that objective moral standards exist, you must first prove that God exists (because the objective moral standards come from God). Since the truth of premise 2 depends on the conclusion of the argument, it seems the argument collapses into a circle. I guess what I'm really saying is that any theist I know would concede that premise 1 is actually an if and only if statement (again, because morality is inextricably linked with God). After all, if you could prove that objective moral standards exist without appealing to God, then you've demonstrated morality's independence from the existence of God and thus nullified the argument. I...

Although I think the argument is fraught with difficulties, I don't think it simply begs the question. Suppose this hypothetical theist -- call her Thalia -- is arguing with an agnostic, Agatha, who nonetheless believes that there are objective moral standards. Agatha has real-life counterparts, and some of them are even sophisticated philosophers. Suppose Thalia makes a case for premise one: that moral standards really do presuppose the existence of a divine lawgiver. At that point, Agatha has a choice: give up belief in objective moral standards, or take up theism. Depending on how convinced she is that there really are moral standards, she might well decide that she should opt for theism. Notice that from Agatha's point of view, there's no need for proof that there are objective moral standards. She already believes that. What she'd need to be convinced of is that premise 1 is true. And although I'm personally skeptical of premise 1), I do think there's more to be said here than meets the eye ...

I'm trying to wrap my mind around the Reformed Epistemology idea of the proof of God, but I am a total novice at this and I can't figure it out. As far as I can tell by the article "Without Evidence or Argument" by Kelly James Clark, the proof is 1) We should believe that God exists only with sufficient proof that God exists 2) We cannot get sufficient proof that God exists, because every argument would have to be justified by another argument infinitely Therefore, we do not need proof that God exists. I am completely baffled by this, and I'm pretty sure I'm reading it all wrong. I could really use a hand. Am I even understanding the premises at all?

Reformed epistemologists, as I understand them, are saying that we could know that God exists even if we were utterly unable to give a proof. That's because on their view, knowing something isn't a matter of being able to give reasons for believing it. Knowing something is a matter of being connected to it in the right sort of way. A little too simply, suppose there really is a God, and that the reason I believe God exists is because God reliably causes me to believe it. (And if God's causings wouldn't be reliable, then which ones would?) Reformed epistemologists would say that in that case, I know that God exists. This isn't a proof that God exists, and it isn't an argument to convince you that you should believe in God. It's a special case of a general view about knowledge: that we know things when they're true and our beliefs about them are caused in the right sort of way. And notice that this sort of view has some advantages. If there really is a computer in front of me, and if my belief...

It is a well publicized fact that voters are less likely to vote for atheists than for individuals of practically any other sort of minority. Why is this sort of discrimination generally not regarded as indicative of a really significant injustice? Why isn't the difficulty of atheists to achieve political office viewed as on par with racism, homophobia or other kinds of discrimination?

Let's flip the question around a bit. Suppose I believe that people who hold certain particular religious views are likely to favor policies I don't like and oppose policies I like. That gives me a reason to worry that if I vote for a candidate of that religious persuasion, I'd be voting for someone who wouldn't share my views on things I care about politically. And surely that's an acceptable reason not to vote for someone. It seems pretty different from racism or homophobia. People who wouldn't vote for an atheist, I'd guess, typically believe that atheists differ with them on questions that they care about. They see a person's atheism as an indicator of how the person would vote if s/he were a legislator. That still doesn't seem like racism or homophobia. Except... Experience suggests that people who wouldn't vote for an atheist sometmes have at least this in common with racists and homophobes: they haven't actually subjected their beliefs to scrutiny. It's very common to find people who...

Asked "do you believe in the faith you follow through choice?" I would expect most respondents would answer "yes", yet this is clearly not the case and is largely true only for people who have converted from one faith to another. A child growing up in Belfast with Protestant parents, Protestant grand-parents and Protestant great-grand-parents is going to be Protestant. A child growing up in Italy is 90% certain to be Catholic, a child born and raised in N.E. Thailand is 97% certain to be Buddhist etc etc. Where does the choice come in? Surely for anyone who doesn't question belief in God, the God they follow is down not to choice but to geography - does this not make a mockery of belief?

Interestingly, one of the more well-known statements of your premise -- that belief in most cases is a matter of accidents of birth and circumstance -- was offered by a well-known defender of religion, the British philosopher John Hick. But we'll get to that. Most people don't think very hard about their religious beliefs. And when we get to the level of specifics (that Jesus was God incarnate, that the Koran was delivered to Mohammed by an Angel, that the Amida Buddha built the Western Paradise...), it's guaranteed that most people are wrong, because there are no majority beliefs at this level of detail. But what to make of this is harder to say. After all, something like both of these points (beliefs held by custom and habit and no majority view in any case) may be true for political beliefs, and for views on certain controversial ethical matters. It's likely true even for certain sorts of scientific beliefs, and ceretainly for various broad background "philosophical" or "metaphysical"...

Is there any more scientific basis for the justification of a belief in Feng Shui, any more than the major religions have their belief in God? My Chinese girlfriend is a firm believer and practitioner. I'm a lapsed Christian and see no more "proof" in Feng Shui than I do in the God that Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in. Thanks.

What I know about Feng Shui could be written on a very small scroll. But that said... There's at least this interesting difference between the two cases. Feng Shui claims that certain ways of arranging stuff tend to breed various sorts of good or bad fortune. If that's true, it's the sort of thing we have a pretty good idea how to test. So Feng Shui seems amenable to scientific investigation -- whether or not it would be worth the trouble to do the studies. But the claim that God exists isn't so obviously like that. It's far harder to figure out just what we should expect to see in the world if there is -- or isn't -- a God. Some might say: all the evil in the world counts as proof that there's no God. But anyone who knows the history of this issue knows that it's not really so simple. Or someone might say: the peculiar kinds of cosmic "coincidences" science has uncovered (the "fine-tuning" of various constants that allows for the possibility of life, for example) is evidence for God's existence. But...

Hume showed that belief in induction has no rational basis, yet everyone believes it and in fact one can't help believing it. How then can one criticize religious belief, the person who says "I know my belief in God has no rational basis, but I believe it anyway"?

At least part of the answer to your question is hidden in the way you phrased it. Suppose that I'm wired so that there's really nothing I can do about the fact that I think inductively. As soon as I put my copy of Hume down, I revert straightaway and irresistibly to making inductive inferences. We usually 't think it doesn't make sense to criticize people for things they have no control over. If we can't help making inductions, then criticism is pointless. But we don't think that all non-rational beliefs are like this. On at least some matters, we're capable of slowly, gradually changing the way we think until the grip of the irrational belief weakens to the point where we can resist it. For example: someone might realize that they're prejudiced against some group. They might come to see that this prejudice is simply irrational. That might lead them to think they should try to change the way they think and react, and they might well succeed . Or to take a different example, when cognitive...

A friend argues that if a perfect God creates something different from himself, then it's necessarily imperfect, because, if perfect, it would still be God. So the universe implicitly entails evil and our universe is, if not exactly the best of all worlds, the least evil of all worlds. But then I ask: "Why did God create anything at all?" and my friend replies it's not his responsibility to answer that question and we end in deadlock. Is there any way to break the deadlock?

A further thought here: I think part of the issue has to do with the phrase "something perfect." Assuming it makes sense, to talk, for example, about a perfect piccolo (keys work flawlessly, correctly placed to produce notes that are in tune, etc...) Then I'd certainly agree with Oliver: nothing wrong with the idea that God could make such a thing. But this may not be what you're worried about, because presumably you'd agree that a perfect piccolo wouldn't be God. The point is that there could be a perfect thing of a certain sort that wasn't on that account part of God or an aspect of God, let alone identical with God. (It would certainly take an argument to show that nothing could count as a perfect piccolo unless it was God or an aspect of God, and I can't come up with a plausible one.) However, perhaps the question is whether God could create a perfect being in the sense of the phrase "perfect being" that's sometimes used, for example, in the Ontological Argument for God's existence. A perfect...

As far as I am aware most if not all religions promise the possibility of eternal happiness in the next life. However the concept of eternal happiness is impossible to understand. How could we be happy without our negative emotions - don't we enjoy our negative emotions sometimes (watching a sad or scary film)? Aren't our negative emotions a release? People who are happy for extended periods, e.g. people in-love or people suffering from mania cannot keep up being happy because it is exhausting and also people in these states become irrational. So why do we buy into the concept of eternal happiness in the next life so easily?

It's a nice question, and one that' s been discussed before in various versions. You've put particular emphasis on the idea that without negative emotions, we couldn't really be happy. Let's suppose you're right. As your own way of putting things suggests, it doesn't follow that there couldn't be such a thing as eternal happiness. The reason is that the kind of happiness that's at issue isn't best thought of as an emotion or mood but as some more global feature of our lives. In fact, your own point is that negative states can be part of, well, our happiness . We could also spend a bit of time on whether "negative states" that we enjoy (the frisson of "horror" we pay good money for at the movies, for example) really are negative states. But let that pass. I think the partisan of eternal life would probably object to being tied to the word "happiness." Some talk, for example, of "eternal bliss." But whatever state that's meant to pick out, it may not be quite the same as the one we...

There have been many arguments that are offered in support of the proposition that God exists. So far, it seems that none of them have been compelling. Do you think that any possible argument offered as establishing a conclusion like 'God exists', could be compelling. That is, could there exist an argument such that it's conclusion is 'God exists' and the argument is compelling? If no such argument could possibly be compelling, can we not just infer that no argument offered as establishing the existence of God is compelling? Or, do you think one (an argument) exists that may be compelling when learned by us?

If by "compelling" you mean something like "beyond reasonable doubt," then the answer is almost certainly no. But that hardly makes arguments about God's existence unique. The claim that God exists has at least this in common with philosophical claims in general: there's plenty of room to argue both sides. On the other hand, if the question is whether there might be arguments for believing in God that some people might find convincing without lapsing into irrationality, then the answer is almost certainly yes. But once again, that hardly makes claims about God's existence unique. Pick more or less anything that philosophers disagree about. You'll find that some sane philosophers are convinced by arguments that others don't find persuasive. Can someone reasonably find an argument persuasive even if they realize that there are unanswered objections to it? If the standard of reasonableness is one that humans can meet, the answer is also yes. One reason is that there are two ways to think of...

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