How a god can both exist and not exist?

Does God Exist

Does “God” exist”?  Well, it depends how you define your word “God”.

The classic theist way is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving invisible being that intervenes in the world and after death.

Well, we have absolutely no evidence of an invisible being intervening in the world.  The problem of Theodicy (see Wiki) has made this clear for millennium.

Now, if a person’s definition of “God” means: “that invisible being who causes me to have peace and happiness (or awe or dread or whatever emotion the believer weighs strongly)”, and offers no way to test such a thing, then we could say, ‘Sure, if you want to call that feeling “God”, and since I am willing to assume you indeed are having that feeling, then, using your specialized vocabulary, I am OK saying “your God exists”.  But I am not saying that the theist god exists, of course.

So sure, a believer may believe a god like Krishna or Yahweh or Jesus or Allah moves their hearts and fills their life with meaning and I would be happy enough for them.  Yeah, I don’t think any of those people/gods exist in reality but in those person’s minds, that is the word they use to label their experiences and feelings.  So sure, as long as they don’t push their god on me, on my politics, on my children, on my science, they can have their god.  I am glad they have a word for what makes them happy.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

12 responses to “How a god can both exist and not exist?

  1. Earnest

    The fewer the powers are that we grant the god that rules our lives, the harder that god’s existence is to disprove. But a god without powers is a non-useful god.

  2. Indeed Earnest. Well said.

  3. The believers are conflating their “idea of a god” that they carry around in their head with an actual being that they claim exists in the real world. There’s even a name for this fallacy of confusing an concept of a thing for the thing itself: “reification”. Daniel Dennett calls it a “use-mention error.” I wrote a blog post on this idea a while back:

  4. Gavin Rumney

    Interesting. A pedantic quibble though re. ‘wroughting’; wrought is past tense, so is ‘wroughting’ even possible?

  5. I would invite further discussion at where I would be happy to clarify what was meant with what Sabio is talking of in a “spirit of brotherhood ” and the conversation can be viewed in context.

  6. No, Adam. You can have the conversation here. Here, as on NP, I ignore when you scream “disrespect” when I put a small “g” on your god. Here I will also ignore your “poor me” rants. You can discuss it here. I’m done with you over at NP.

    “Brotherhood” to you means, play by my rules. [Oh, here is where you quote British law — I care less about British law].

  7. @ Gavin:
    Glad you enjoyed. And you were not “pedantic” at all. Love it. I looked it up.

    Apparently, “wrought” is the archaic (Middle English) past tense of “to work” — as in “to work a miracle” and I heard it from the King James Bible — the Bible I learned from in Baptist Circles. And sure enough, there, it is past tense dozens of times:

    “because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house” Deuteronomy 22:21

    “the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel” 1 Samuel 19:5

    “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul” Acts 19:11

    But alas, no “wroughted” — should I keep it or change it. Alas? Is the mistake humorous in itself?

    And you will noted a steady decline in “wrought” — see ngram.

    Now how is that for pedantic ! 😉

  8. @ ubi
    Thanks for the link to your post.
    I loved the video on knowing god.

    I look at reification as taking an abstraction and making it real. I don’t think there has to be a real thing you are confusing. Tell me if I am wrong.

    BTW, I wrote a post on that in the past too — Reification: Packaging Abstractions

  9. Lol Sabio you are playing the “poor me rants” card this time. Ok it’s your blog, have it your way. I suppose him saying you were hostile and insulting to him was a “rant” too then. Of course you comment to me here wasn’t a rant or being oversensitive.

    Thanks for the offer of a dialogue here but I’ll pass. I’ll leave you to comment as you see fit about that choice. Don’t hold back!

  10. Here’s my question: Can a person believe, simultaneously, that god (or gods) exists and that god does not exist? I think, yes. Depending on how they use the concept of god. Sometimes they forget that god exists when they have to do something against “his will”, and other times they talk to him.

    Of course, from the point of view of god, he can simultaneously exist and not exist. After all, being omnipotent, he can render contradictions possible.

  11. @ Takis,
    I agree. Most people do not understand the human mind. Many people think we hold a certain set of beliefs, but instead, with our multiple selves, we can simultaneously hold contrary beliefs. See my post “The Theist in the Atheist.

  12. You ask: ‘”Does “God” exist”? Well, it depends how you define your word “God”.’

    Yes, an objective God doesn’t seem to exist. Whereas, depending on the attributes one gives to such concept of “God”, that kind of abstract concept of “God” ought to be acknowledged.

    Atheists may argue that no “God” exists, period, regardless of concept attribution given as “God”.

    In his book, “Everybody Is Wrong About God”, James A LIndsay writes that “‘God’ is an abstract mental construction that people employ to help them meet or ignore various psychological and social needs”, p. 21. Millions of people appear to give the “God” to abstract concepts related to death or its denial (afterlife beliefs), virtues, morals, and feelings of spiritual transcendence.

    Your post is clearly and concisely illustrated and written. Well done.

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