Saturday, June 13, 2009

God's necessary existence.

Many believers think of God as a necesary being. By this they mean not that it is epistemologically certain that God exists, but rather, that reality could not have fail to have God in it. God's existence, on their view, isn't the sort of thing that could either be true or not, because God by definition does not depend on anything other than Himself for his own existence.

35 comments:

Steven Carr said...

Was Jesus of Nazareth a contingent being or was he fully God?

Steve said...

Never sure about the wisdom of answering Mr Carr, but here goes.

The Second Person of the Trinity exists necessarily. The incarnation of the Second Person is contingent.

Steve Lovell

Steven Carr said...

So a necessary being has contigent properties?

Isn't this like saying that the number 2 exists necessarily but it can have the value 3 as the properties of the number 2 are contingent?

Steven Carr said...

Is there some philosophical argument that the Second Person of Trinity exists necessarily, or is that as much dogma as Muslim dogma that God cannot have a Son?

I would be interested in any philosophical argument that shows that the Second Person of the Trinity exists necessarily.

Or else I will just dismiss it as totally lacking foundation.

Steven Carr said...

And if the Second Person of the Trinity exists necessarily, what is all this about Jesus dying?

How can a necessary being die?

Is Christianity supposed to make sense?

Mark Frank said...

Whenever I see statements about something being "necessarily" true I have to ask - "what kind of necessity?". The kind of necessity is defined by the rules that would be broken if the necessary event did not happen. There is always an implied or explicit "unless" cause.

Take some kind of sporting event. Someone says "team A will necessarily win". This could be because:

* They have the best and most experience players (unless they do not play as well as they usually do)

* They are so far ahead the opposition would have to run at 30 mph to catch them (unless the laws of biology change)

* They have scored so many points it is impossible for any other team to overtake them (unless the rules are changed or the game is cancelled)

And so on ....

What is the relevant "unless" in this case? What rules would be broken if God did not exist?

unkle e said...

"So a necessary being has contigent properties?"

I don't see why not. I think most philosophers would argue that God, if he exists, necessarily exists, but that his creation of the universe was contingent. So the necessary God had the contingent quality of deciding to create.

"Is there some philosophical argument that the Second Person of Trinity exists necessarily"

Why does this matter? If God is triune, then the second person of the trinity necessarily exists. But is God triune necessarily or contingently? How would I know? What does it matter?

"And if the Second Person of the Trinity exists necessarily, what is all this about Jesus dying?

How can a necessary being die?"


God lives outside of time, most people think. That is a mystery. The eternal God, outside of time, cannot die. But as Steve said, the incarnation of God, living within time and space, can and did die.

"Is Christianity supposed to make sense?"

To those who have ears to hear.

Steve said...

Of course a necessary being can have contingent properties. That is evidently part of Christian doctrine. God didn't need to create the world. That he did so is contingent.

God is not alone in this. The number two contingently has the property of being the subject of this sentence.

Obviously, you were attacking a Christian doctrine, and I was defending it. The burden of proof
is on you here, so I don't need to offer arguments at this point.

Obviously Jesus death isn't the same thing as the second person ceasing to exist.

Is Mr Carr supposed to make sense?
I might just dismiss his comments as totally lacking foundation! ;-)

Steve Lovell

J said...

Whenever I see statements about something being "necessarily" true I have to ask - "what kind of necessity?".

It's used in various ways by theological businessmen, but generally means something like "You better believe, heathen, or else...."

Seriously, they seem to equivocate on logical necessity, and the older sense of necessity from aristotelian physics, i.e the Deity who, by necessity, set the marbles rolling.

Contingency is also used in a vague sense, to imply dependency (like dependent on the favors of the King-God for your livelihood)--and also seems to imply substance, methinx. Behind yosemite valley, and that waterfall--merely contingent! --lurks some Being who brought it into existence, who it depends upon, etc. He could turn off the spigot any second.

As Laplace said, we have no need of that hypothesis. What's more, if something cannot really be disproven (like the existence of an invisible God-substance), it's probably dogma, and by definition beyond argument or science.

Matthew said...

What's more, if something cannot really be disproven (like the existence of an invisible God-substance), it's probably dogma, and by definition beyond argument or science.

Made my day.

Joshua said...

@Steve - Right on. There is the funny thing about people who challenge God, saying "I will assert that God has no dominion over me, until he proves unequivocally to my suiting, otherwise". The funny thing is that, the more their demands for evidence are met, the less capable they become of repenting.

Revelation 9:6 and 8:20-21 are scary verses, specifically because you can see reflections of something deep about human nature which is operative even today.

J said...

Revelation 9:6 and 8:20-21 are scary verses

Yess, bruthherr. The whole book's scary, like Clive Barker scary, as are the zombies who take it literally. Jefferson referred to the Book of Revelation as the "ravings of a maniac" (thus showing what the founders of America thought of so-called biblical infallibility). Really, I think it's a 3rd century war prayer meant for the John Hagees of the time.

Ilíon said...

Joshua: "... The funny thing is that, the more their demands for evidence are met, the less capable they become of repenting."

I was aware of that phenomenon, I've experienced it in dealing with 'atheists,' and yet I'd never actually thought about it in quite this way.

Anonymous said...

I really think J is just Perezoso.

J said...

Fundies lose an argument (Doc Reppert in fact suggests he can't prove God, now), and the insults fly. Hagee-style theology business.

legodesi said...

J,
What is it to prove something?

Ilíon said...

Right you are, Anonymous.

SE said...

It's so funny to see 'theists' referring to atheists as 'atheists'.

Anonymous said...

J/Perezoso's not even an atheist. He just believes in a - shall we say - more esoteric deity/"power" than Christians.

But oh well, here he is crapping up yet another blog.

Ilíon said...

SE: "It's so funny to see 'theists' referring to atheists as 'atheists'."

Poor SE: so easily amused; so deficient in understanding ... even though it has been explained multiple times.

"Theists" refer to so-called atheists as 'atheists' precisely because the so-called atheists give no indication of actually understanding or accepting the logical implications of atheism; but rather, almost all persons said to be atheists actively resist understanding, or at any rate publically admitting, what atheism means.

And this Chistian refers to so-called theists as "theists" precisely because the "theism" of most religious belief/practice has far more in common, including the starting-point, with atheism than with Biblical religion.

This Christian objects to the (apparently genetic) habit of the pretend-atheists pretending that in laughing about Zeus -- against whom they can't even begin to present an argument which is consistent with atheism -- they have said something meaningful about "I AM." So, he puts quote-marks around the word "theist."

J said...

Making mierda up again, eh, Anny. I actually attend church--Anglican--at times, like Xmas time. Conservative Baptists, calvinists, even catholics have no monopoly on religious thinking.

This is about reason. At one point VR claimed, or seemed to claim that G*d could be proven. Now he suggests reason cannot justify the existence of G*d--which is correct, but a concession that weakens his/theist's position.

Anyone who values the calvinist hysteria of a Hagee, or Falwell, Robertson, etc--or Opus Dei altar boys, jihadists, torahthumpers--over the secular principles of the Founding Fathers, or logic and scientific thinking itself should not be taken seriously.

Ilíon said...

In the spirit of being amused ... is it not vastly amusing how the very persons who falsely (and knowingly so) condemn me for being such a “meenie” evince not a peep of objection toward someone who does behave as they falsely accuse me?

J said...

laughing about Zeus -- against whom they can't even begin to present an argument which is consistent with atheism --

So you're a Zeustian as well, Idion the macho man?


Really, let's agree with Reppert. We cannot conclusively prove or disprove God's existence (that sounds a bit like Pascal). Yet both non-believers, and believers (or some of them) value Justice, reason, logic, and scientific thinking.


When assessing a person (in terms of sanity, character, skills, etc) religion should not be the sole criteria. That Maria takes Mass does not mean she is good, or smart, or better than someone who doesn't. Obvious. There's no Elect , catholic, or protestant, or non-believer. Your faith (or lack of faith) has no bearing on your skill at chess, for instance. When you're playing an expert chess player, prayers of little avail. Strategic and tactical skills are.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Reppert:

I have enjoyed reading your posts over the last two weeks or so. I stumbled upon your board from another blog site. I have found the dialogue on your board (responsive comments) very thought provoking. Regretfully, I will likely be the least educated, and least intellectual, of your commentators. Hopefully, this will not prevent my thoughts from being accepted and considered amidst the weightier opinions provided. My name is Nathaniel.

Ilíon said...

Well, Nathaniel, intellectualism is a trap for fools. What matters is to be wise, and rational, and reasonable, and honest. I can assure you that I, for one, will never reject you thoughts simply because they're not someone's idea of "intellectual." And I'm pretty sure that Mr Reppert will not either, he's a great guy.

J said...

Golly gee, Fonzion. Wise and reasonable. Reason involves, like, arguments. Arguments involve evidence, or tautologies: except, like, when you make them Fonzion.

btw, I don't necessarily disagree with the message of the New Testament. Consider the lilies of the valley, brutthrrr! Do unto others quickly, like or else they will do unto thee, or somethin.'

We should disagree, however, with biblethumping knuckleheads who mistake that message as like support for their own right-wing agenda. Himmler's not a model for the pious

Shackleman said...

Me: Dad, whenever I do the smallest thing wrong, you discipline me. But my brother, who is messing up all the time, you let off the hook unless he does something major! It's not fair!

My Dad: Son, it's pointless to smack a Mutt who will just look at you stupid, having no idea what it did wrong, and will learn nothing from the whooping. Better to smack the German Shepperd (who should have known better in the first place), and will understand why it's getting disciplined and try not to do it again.

{{true story}}

legodesi said...

"secular principles of the Founding Fathers"

The principles of the founding fathers in organizing the constitution included human rights, rooted in natural law, which certainly is not secular.

J said...

Locke's writing on the state of nature (in response to Hobbes' Leviathan, really) doesn't seem that religious, except in some vague sense. More or less X thinks he has a right to the well, or fields, and Y thinks he has a right; so you should respect each others' rights (whatever those are)--they are equal in terms of rights--at least theoretically. Locke had no problem justifying the seizure of native lands by colonists. Some are more equal than others. In Hobbesian terms Locke's natural law seems rather sentimental, if not utopian--with some hints of like Sermon on the Mount, perhaps. At times Jefferson sounds a bit Lockean, but I think he's a bit more of a realist: "Nature's God" isn't exactly JHVH.

Ilíon said...

The Founding Fathers were not secularists ... they created a non-sectarian regime, which is something very different from a secularist regime.

At the same time, "the Founding Fathers" are not *merely* those few men who met in Philadelphia in 1787 -- which number, by the by, does not include Jefferson. "The Founding Fathers" are all the American people of that generation.

unkle e said...

Ilion said: "In the spirit of being amused ... is it not vastly amusing how the very persons who falsely (and knowingly so) condemn me for being such a “meenie” evince not a peep of objection toward someone who does behave as they falsely accuse me?"

I am one such "very person" and I don't think I falsely accuse you, only suggest your behaviour on this blog does not conform to that required by Jesus and his apostles. I asked you about your interpretation of three specific passages from the Bible, and you haven't answered.

I don't question people who DON'T profess to believe in Jesus why they don't follow those standards, only those who do.

My aim in this is not to be contentious, but to challenge and encourage you to follow Jesus more closely, and cease being such a negative witness on his behalf. I would prefer to do this more subtly and personally, but this medium does not allow that.

Ilíon said...

Don't bother me with your foolishness: you already know that I don't give a damn about your opinions and your hypocrisies which you imagine you can impose upon me.

unkle e said...

Ilion said: "Don't bother me with your foolishness: you already know that I don't give a damn about your opinions and your hypocrisies which you imagine you can impose upon me."

I know you don't, and I don't expect you to. But I do expect a follower of Jesus to "give a damn" about what Jesus and the apostles say. I will repeat the passages:

Jesus in Matthew 5:44: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.". Peter in 1 Peter 3:15-16: "Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you. But do it with gentleness and respect." and Paul's encouragement in Ephesians 4:15 about "speaking the truth in love".

So I ask you again, how do you justify rudeness and lack of respect in the face of those teachings?

Ilíon said...

You quote the words off paper; you clearly don't know the tune.

unkle e said...

Ilion said: "You quote the words off paper; you clearly don't know the tune."

Does this mean:

(1) yes, you do believe you should follow the teachings of Jesus and his apostles on this matter, or

(2) you believe you need not, or

(3) you wish to avoid the question, or

(4) you have a new interpretation of the teachings that you have not shared with us yet, or

(5) something else?