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Existence in relation to God

dee-em
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8/5/2014 7:11:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Theists and atheists argue continually in this section of the forum about the existence or otherwise of god. I think we need to take a step back and determine what we mean by the word "existence".

The dictionary definitions don't help a great deal as they tend to be circular. I submit that the common sense definition of existence we use in everyday life is something like:

- to persist for a period of time

My house exists for example. It was built in a certain year. One day it will be demolished. It will have persisted for a span of time.

Abraham Lincoln existed. He was born in a certain year, became president, was shot, and died. He persisted in time for a certain number of years.

When we come to concepts, the definition becomes a little more hairy. We can say that logic exists. It is a system of thought invented by human beings at a certain point in time. Does logic exist independently of brains which can conceive it? I don't know and I don't really want to buy into that philosophical problem, so let us restrict this discussion to living things.

Theists talk about the living god. I think it would be readily accepted that god, if he exists, is alive in some way. In what sense then does god exist? Our definition is that a living thing must persist in time in order to exist. What time does god exist within? It can't be the time of our universe since god is supposed to have created our universe. Therefore god must exist (persist in time) within some other mode of time.

However, if there is some other mode of time, call it meta-time, in which god exists, then it is independent of god. God must be subject to that meta-time in order to exist within it. Once we accept that, the 'omni' attributes commonly attributed to god come into serious doubt. What theists call god could just be an event within that realm of meta-time or it could just be a very advanced being. There is no requirement for an omni-being to explain our universe.

So, to summarise, even if theists could argue successfully for the existence of god, that very success would destroy their concept of god as the ultimate being.
Cassius
Posts: 142
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8/5/2014 7:43:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
If existence is to be defined with respect to time, then in what sense does 'time' itself exist, which seems to be immediately obvious?
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
dee-em
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8/5/2014 10:47:47 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/5/2014 7:43:34 PM, Cassius wrote:
If existence is to be defined with respect to time, then in what sense does 'time' itself exist, which seems to be immediately obvious?

Our time exists as part of the space-time universe. 'Exists' is probably the wrong word to use. We should more accurately say that it is a property of our universe

However, I would reiterate that the argument focuses on the definition of existence in relation to living things.
Cassius
Posts: 142
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8/5/2014 11:18:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/5/2014 10:47:47 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/5/2014 7:43:34 PM, Cassius wrote:
If existence is to be defined with respect to time, then in what sense does 'time' itself exist, which seems to be immediately obvious?

Our time exists as part of the space-time universe. 'Exists' is probably the wrong word to use. We should more accurately say that it is a property of our universe

However, I would reiterate that the argument focuses on the definition of existence in relation to living things.

A living thing in a broad, non-strictly-biological sense, is classically understood as something which is the principle of its own action (animation). At least, that's how the classical theists (i.e., broadly Plato, Aristotle, the Scholastics) understood "life," and it's not hard to see how this relates to God. As Aristotle says, "in living things, to live is to be," and this is because the animation which constitutes life cannot be removed from a living thing without the living thing ceasing to exist. In this way life is actually fundamentally tied to existence; and existence is irrespective of time.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
dee-em
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8/6/2014 5:04:14 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/5/2014 11:18:34 PM, Cassius wrote:

A living thing in a broad, non-strictly-biological sense, is classically understood as something which is the principle of its own action (animation). At least, that's how the classical theists (i.e., broadly Plato, Aristotle, the Scholastics) understood "life," and it's not hard to see how this relates to God. As Aristotle says, "in living things, to live is to be," and this is because the animation which constitutes life cannot be removed from a living thing without the living thing ceasing to exist. In this way life is actually fundamentally tied to existence; and existence is irrespective of time.

I'm not sure why you're going back to the classical time of the Greeks for an explanation. We're living in the 21st century. If you are talking about vitalism, that has long been discredited. There is no 'life force' which animates living things. Also, I don't see how you reached your conclusion.
dee-em
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8/6/2014 6:50:33 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Just to be clear. I'm not after some arcane definition of existence which only works for living things. I want one which is workable and useful. The definition I suggested as being what is generally understood by 'existence' works just as well for inanimate objects such as a molecule, a table or a planet.
Cassius
Posts: 142
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8/6/2014 9:37:25 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 5:04:14 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/5/2014 11:18:34 PM, Cassius wrote:

A living thing in a broad, non-strictly-biological sense, is classically understood as something which is the principle of its own action (animation). At least, that's how the classical theists (i.e., broadly Plato, Aristotle, the Scholastics) understood "life," and it's not hard to see how this relates to God. As Aristotle says, "in living things, to live is to be," and this is because the animation which constitutes life cannot be removed from a living thing without the living thing ceasing to exist. In this way life is actually fundamentally tied to existence; and existence is irrespective of time.

I'm not sure why you're going back to the classical time of the Greeks for an explanation. We're living in the 21st century. If you are talking about vitalism, that has long been discredited. There is no 'life force' which animates living things. Also, I don't see how you reached your conclusion.

I'm going back to the Greeks and the Scholastics as they are known to be prime examples of classical theism, i.e. a theistic view which treats and discusses God a specific way. I'm not sure how the twenty-first century has anything to do with this discussion, and that sounds like a rather shortsighted and dismissive appeal to chronological snobbery. But thanks anyway.

Don't know what vitalism is. Don't care. Don't know what a 'life force' is supposed to mean either. I'm talking about the metaphysics of living things -- i.e., that they are often made of the same matter as non-living things, and yet they are the principle of their own action: animation. The Greeks and Scholastics referred to this principle as their soul (Latin: animus). Because this principle exists and is whereby living things live, Aristotle said, "in living things, to live is to be," because, insofar as a living thing is existing, it is living. So, since God is alive and God exists, God lives.

In any case, I don't see how the definition of life (a definition which would apply to an immaterial God, not the inductive biological definition) requires a living thing to be understood within the context of time.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
Cassius
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8/6/2014 9:40:43 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 6:50:33 AM, dee-em wrote:
Just to be clear. I'm not after some arcane definition of existence which only works for living things. I want one which is workable and useful. The definition I suggested as being what is generally understood by 'existence' works just as well for inanimate objects such as a molecule, a table or a planet.

I just don't think existence for living things is fundamentally respective of time. That doesn't make sense to me, since the definition of life which applies to God (living = being the principle of one's own action) is irrespective of time. It would seem that temporality is incidental to living.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
DPMartin
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8/6/2014 10:02:13 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
The Living God, the One understood as Creator and Judge of all things, the God of Israel inhabits eternity. And since it seems that science and the Torah agree time has a beginning, time has nothing to do with the dwelling or existence of God. Though God can dwell and be Present in His creation any time, all the time, none of the time, anywhere it pleases Him.
dee-em
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8/6/2014 6:59:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 9:37:25 AM, Cassius wrote:

I'm going back to the Greeks and the Scholastics as they are known to be prime examples of classical theism, i.e. a theistic view which treats and discusses God a specific way. I'm not sure how the twenty-first century has anything to do with this discussion, and that sounds like a rather shortsighted and dismissive appeal to chronological snobbery. But thanks anyway.

Don't know what vitalism is. Don't care. Don't know what a 'life force' is supposed to mean either. I'm talking about the metaphysics of living things -- i.e., that they are often made of the same matter as non-living things, and yet they are the principle of their own action: animation. The Greeks and Scholastics referred to this principle as their soul (Latin: animus). Because this principle exists and is whereby living things live, Aristotle said, "in living things, to live is to be," because, insofar as a living thing is existing, it is living. So, since God is alive and God exists, God lives.

I'm not going to respond in detail to the above as it's completely unscientific. It helps not one bit in explaining what existence means. Living things do not have souls. You can call it chronological snobbery. I call it progress.

In any case, I don't see how the definition of life (a definition which would apply to an immaterial God, not the inductive biological definition) requires a living thing to be understood within the context of time.

My point has been all along that what we call existence is intrinsically linked with the passage of time. I don't see how something can be said to exist unless it persists for a span of time.
dee-em
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8/6/2014 7:04:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 9:40:43 AM, Cassius wrote:

I just don't think existence for living things is fundamentally respective of time. That doesn't make sense to me, since the definition of life which applies to God (living = being the principle of one's own action) is irrespective of time. It would seem that temporality is incidental to living.

How can a living thing perform any action without time? Without time, literally nothing happens. It's synonymous with non-existence in my view.
dee-em
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8/6/2014 7:11:21 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 10:02:13 AM, DPMartin wrote:
The Living God, the One understood as Creator and Judge of all things, the God of Israel inhabits eternity.

Isn't eternity a temporal concept?

And since it seems that science and the Torah agree time has a beginning, time has nothing to do with the dwelling or existence of God.

Agreed to a certain point. I was saying pretty much the same thing.

Though God can dwell and be Present in His creation any time, all the time, none of the time, anywhere it pleases Him.

You missed my point which is about existence and that god, whilst independent of the time of our universe, must be subject to some kind of external meta-time. You haven't addressed this.
Juan_Pablo
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8/6/2014 7:18:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
God definitely exist. I know this because I have seen the proof for myself. I encounter everyday--and it's irrefutable.

But atheist and agnostics are also correct in their view of God I have discovered. God is detached from us in a lot of ways, and it makes it appear as if he's missing in action.

Our relationship to God is in a lot of ways like our relationship to a wild animal. Wild animals exist and from a distance one can be attractive to look at or think about. But up close a wild animal can claw you, bite you, hurt you. This is the way I perceive God now. He's not really a loving father, though he can take the role of a parent (abusive, if you want to use that word) and he's not our best friend (though he can be a useful friend from time to time). God is so much more than what many holy books have depicted, and there's a lot of bad stuff about God that i'm learning about, a lot of unpleasant stuff.

I think our relationship to God is complex but not one where we can rely on him for all our answers. We're going to have to struggle for most of these answers on our own.

That's the relationship humankind has with God.
dee-em
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8/6/2014 7:40:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 7:18:12 PM, Juan_Pablo wrote:
God definitely exist. I know this because I have seen the proof for myself. I encounter everyday--and it's irrefutable.

But atheist and agnostics are also correct in their view of God I have discovered. God is detached from us in a lot of ways, and it makes it appear as if he's missing in action.

Our relationship to God is in a lot of ways like our relationship to a wild animal. Wild animals exist and from a distance one can be attractive to look at or think about. But up close a wild animal can claw you, bite you, hurt you. This is the way I perceive God now. He's not really a loving father, though he can take the role of a parent (abusive, if you want to use that word) and he's not our best friend (though he can be a useful friend from time to time). God is so much more than what many holy books have depicted, and there's a lot of bad stuff about God that i'm learning about, a lot of unpleasant stuff.

I think our relationship to God is complex but not one where we can rely on him for all our answers. We're going to have to struggle for most of these answers on our own.

That's the relationship humankind has with God.

This is completely off-topic.
Cassius
Posts: 142
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8/6/2014 7:43:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 6:59:42 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/6/2014 9:37:25 AM, Cassius wrote:

I'm going back to the Greeks and the Scholastics as they are known to be prime examples of classical theism, i.e. a theistic view which treats and discusses God a specific way. I'm not sure how the twenty-first century has anything to do with this discussion, and that sounds like a rather shortsighted and dismissive appeal to chronological snobbery. But thanks anyway.

Don't know what vitalism is. Don't care. Don't know what a 'life force' is supposed to mean either. I'm talking about the metaphysics of living things -- i.e., that they are often made of the same matter as non-living things, and yet they are the principle of their own action: animation. The Greeks and Scholastics referred to this principle as their soul (Latin: animus). Because this principle exists and is whereby living things live, Aristotle said, "in living things, to live is to be," because, insofar as a living thing is existing, it is living. So, since God is alive and God exists, God lives.

I'm not going to respond in detail to the above as it's completely unscientific. It helps not one bit in explaining what existence means. Living things do not have souls. You can call it chronological snobbery. I call it progress.

Of course it's not scientific -- because my claims aren't made within a scientific context. I'm arguing from the grounds wherefrom science derives its power -- namely, philosophy of nature and metaphysics. Whether or not a living thing has an immaterial "soul," how the "soul" acts with the body, and how the "soul" survives without the body are all questions outside the scientific domain. It's like dismissing some abstract geometric proof because it's not relevant to the field of architecture.

In any case, I don't see how the definition of life (a definition which would apply to an immaterial God, not the inductive biological definition) requires a living thing to be understood within the context of time.

My point has been all along that what we call existence is intrinsically linked with the passage of time. I don't see how something can be said to exist unless it persists for a span of time.

I simply don't see how something existing requires there be a passage of time -- that's just not a qualification that I would attach to the definition. It's perfectly reasonable to claim that something can exist without existing "in time." In what sense is time said to exist then? That's such a particular addition (time) to probably the most universal concept we know (existence), and it introduces far more contradictions (numbers existing in time?) than you could hope for.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
Cassius
Posts: 142
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8/6/2014 7:50:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 7:04:19 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/6/2014 9:40:43 AM, Cassius wrote:

I just don't think existence for living things is fundamentally respective of time. That doesn't make sense to me, since the definition of life which applies to God (living = being the principle of one's own action) is irrespective of time. It would seem that temporality is incidental to living.

How can a living thing perform any action without time? Without time, literally nothing happens. It's synonymous with non-existence in my view.

Perhaps we're not thinking of "action" on univocal grounds. Consider the intellect and will of God, and their respective actions. By His intellect, God understands, and by His will, God loves. Both understanding and loving are considered actions, but there's no reason we should suppose they cannot be eternal in God simply because they are temporal in us.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
Juan_Pablo
Posts: 2,052
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8/6/2014 7:53:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 7:40:57 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/6/2014 7:18:12 PM, Juan_Pablo wrote:
God definitely exist. I know this because I have seen the proof for myself. I encounter everyday--and it's irrefutable.

But atheist and agnostics are also correct in their view of God I have discovered. God is detached from us in a lot of ways, and it makes it appear as if he's missing in action.

Our relationship to God is in a lot of ways like our relationship to a wild animal. Wild animals exist and from a distance one can be attractive to look at or think about. But up close a wild animal can claw you, bite you, hurt you. This is the way I perceive God now. He's not really a loving father, though he can take the role of a parent (abusive, if you want to use that word) and he's not our best friend (though he can be a useful friend from time to time). God is so much more than what many holy books have depicted, and there's a lot of bad stuff about God that i'm learning about, a lot of unpleasant stuff.

I think our relationship to God is complex but not one where we can rely on him for all our answers. We're going to have to struggle for most of these answers on our own.

That's the relationship humankind has with God.

This is completely off-topic.

Yeah. I see that after reading through all of your post.

My belief is that God exist within time. I also don't believe he initiated the creation of the universe, though I suspect he was consciously responsible for some of the activity within it in the first nano-seconds.
dee-em
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8/7/2014 5:08:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 7:53:46 PM, Juan_Pablo wrote:

Yeah. I see that after reading through all of your post.

My belief is that God exist within time. I also don't believe he initiated the creation of the universe, though I suspect he was consciously responsible for some of the activity within it in the first nano-seconds.

Interesting take from a theist. Could you elaborate a little on why you hold these beliefs?
dee-em
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8/7/2014 6:46:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 7:43:11 PM, Cassius wrote:

Of course it's not scientific -- because my claims aren't made within a scientific context. I'm arguing from the grounds wherefrom science derives its power -- namely, philosophy of nature and metaphysics. Whether or not a living thing has an immaterial "soul," how the "soul" acts with the body, and how the "soul" survives without the body are all questions outside the scientific domain.

You are derailing this thread. I want this discussion confined to established science not having to deal with woo. The Greeks did the best they could with pure reason, lacking the technology and instrumentation we have today, but you have no such excuse. If modern medical research discovers some evidence for a 'soul' I'll happily discuss the subject with you. Until that day arrives you are simply wasting everyone's time.

It's like dismissing some abstract geometric proof because it's not relevant to the field of architecture.

False analogy. A geometric proof stays valid for ever. An architect can decide if he wants it in his toolkit if he finds it useful. Ancient theories regarding the workings of biological organisms have long been overtaken by modern medical science. No medical research organization is teaching or investigating the woo you have been proclaiming.

I simply don't see how something existing requires there be a passage of time -- that's just not a qualification that I would attach to the definition. It's perfectly reasonable to claim that something can exist without existing "in time."

That's strange because I have the diametrically opposite view. Name one, animate or inanimate.

In what sense is time said to exist then?

You asked this earlier and I answered it. Why raise it again?

That's such a particular addition (time) to probably the most universal concept we know (existence), and it introduces far more contradictions (numbers existing in time?) than you could hope for.

I'll reiterate. I'm concentrating primarily on what existence means in relation to living things, and god is included in that category.
dee-em
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8/7/2014 7:27:37 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/6/2014 7:50:49 PM, Cassius wrote:

Perhaps we're not thinking of "action" on univocal grounds. Consider the intellect and will of God, and their respective actions. By His intellect, God understands, and by His will, God loves. Both understanding and loving are considered actions, but there's no reason we should suppose they cannot be eternal in God simply because they are temporal in us.

I disagree (naturally). Understanding and loving are not actions if they are a permanent state within god, as you seem to imply. It would be more correct to call them attributes. You are abusing the meaning of the word 'action'.

The fact is that theists claim that their god interacts with the world. There is continual chatter about a personal god who communicates with believers. God cannot perform this function (taking actions) without time. How else do you demarcate (start and end) an action? If he listens to prayer, that is a temporal undertaking. If he responds (after hearing from a supplicant) that is a temporal undertaking.
Cassius
Posts: 142
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8/7/2014 9:09:47 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 6:46:27 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/6/2014 7:43:11 PM, Cassius wrote:

Of course it's not scientific -- because my claims aren't made within a scientific context. I'm arguing from the grounds wherefrom science derives its power -- namely, philosophy of nature and metaphysics. Whether or not a living thing has an immaterial "soul," how the "soul" acts with the body, and how the "soul" survives without the body are all questions outside the scientific domain.

You are derailing this thread. I want this discussion confined to established science not having to deal with woo. The Greeks did the best they could with pure reason, lacking the technology and instrumentation we have today, but you have no such excuse. If modern medical research discovers some evidence for a 'soul' I'll happily discuss the subject with you. Until that day arrives you are simply wasting everyone's time.

"Confined to established science." I guess we shouldn't be talking about God then, huh? Christ, you really don't understand the concept of the soul, do you? It's beyond scientific research. It's not something that can be measured, observed, or described in a scientific model. It's a concept which can be deduced from its consequences -- namely, animation -- but the consequences are simply beyond the realm of scientific research. The reductionist nature of scientific research of course will find no distinction between animate and inanimate matter, and that's why discussion of the soul is left to metaphysics, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of mind.

It's like dismissing some abstract geometric proof because it's not relevant to the field of architecture.

False analogy. A geometric proof stays valid for ever. An architect can decide if he wants it in his toolkit if he finds it useful. Ancient theories regarding the workings of biological organisms have long been overtaken by modern medical science. No medical research organization is teaching or investigating the woo you have been proclaiming.

Once again, because no matter how hard researchers look into the human body, they're not going to find some mysterious ghostly spirit called the soul, which they can then promptly extract, measure, and write a few papers on. The idea of the soul does not come from observation via the scientific method. Just like a geometric proof doesn't come about from observing some consequence of that proof -- i.e. some feature of architecture. It comes from reflecting on axioms and following them to their conclusion.

I simply don't see how something existing requires there be a passage of time -- that's just not a qualification that I would attach to the definition. It's perfectly reasonable to claim that something can exist without existing "in time."

That's strange because I have the diametrically opposite view. Name one, animate or inanimate.

How about numbers, or sets, or proofs? How about truth itself? How about existence? Does existence exist?

In what sense is time said to exist then?

You asked this earlier and I answered it. Why raise it again?

Because your answer was so inadequate, I thought I'd give you a second shot. Time is just a "property" of the universe? So properties don't exist, huh? Or was the word "property" an actual escape-route for you? If time is just a property of the universe, then the universe is conceptually prior to time: and as such can the universe be said to exist, since it doesn't exist in time?

By saying that everything which exists, exists in time, you're arguing that time is the ultimate conceptual priority for existence. But, in order to claim that time exists, you'll either need to introduce some priority to time -- at which point you're denying your original thesis -- or make a circular reference back to time. No matter what you do, you're going to be confessing to the belief that something which obviously exists in fact does not exist.

That's such a particular addition (time) to probably the most universal concept we know (existence), and it introduces far more contradictions (numbers existing in time?) than you could hope for.

I'll reiterate. I'm concentrating primarily on what existence means in relation to living things, and god is included in that category.

Your original post made a universal claim about existence, not just about existence relative to living things, and you've admitted to carrying this throughout the discussion: "My point has been all along that what we call existence is intrinsically linked with the passage of time." Once you finally admit that existence cannot be qualified by time, unless you wish to deny existence to time, we can start talking about timeless things, and then perhaps I can convey my point to you about the eternity of God.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
Cassius
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8/7/2014 9:18:41 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 7:27:37 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/6/2014 7:50:49 PM, Cassius wrote:

Perhaps we're not thinking of "action" on univocal grounds. Consider the intellect and will of God, and their respective actions. By His intellect, God understands, and by His will, God loves. Both understanding and loving are considered actions, but there's no reason we should suppose they cannot be eternal in God simply because they are temporal in us.

I disagree (naturally). Understanding and loving are not actions if they are a permanent state within god, as you seem to imply. It would be more correct to call them attributes. You are abusing the meaning of the word 'action'.

How is it more reasonable to say they're attributes ("God has understanding") then actions ("God understands")? In this case, is the attribute not just some essential quality derived from God's performance of an action? i.e., God's attribute of "understanding" derived from God act of understanding?

The fact is that theists claim that their god interacts with the world. There is continual chatter about a personal god who communicates with believers. God cannot perform this function (taking actions) without time. How else do you demarcate (start and end) an action? If he listens to prayer, that is a temporal undertaking. If he responds (after hearing from a supplicant) that is a temporal undertaking.

Imagine you're a really good story-teller, and your grandson asks you to tell him a bedtime story. Now, imagine you spontaneously conceive a narrative about kingdoms and dragons and knights which takes place over a century in fantasy-time. You are causally prior to every millisecond of action in that story, because you are the one narrating it and giving it life. However, you cause everything to happen in that story by one timeless act, with respect to the time within the fantasy story. In the same way, God wills everything which He wills by one eternal act, even if, on this side of the mirror, we view His eternal acts in a temporal way, as one after the other.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
dee-em
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8/7/2014 8:32:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 9:09:47 AM, Cassius wrote:

Because your answer was so inadequate, I thought I'd give you a second shot. Time is just a "property" of the universe? So properties don't exist, huh? Or was the word "property" an actual escape-route for you? If time is just a property of the universe, then the universe is conceptually prior to time: and as such can the universe be said to exist, since it doesn't exist in time?

By saying that everything which exists, exists in time, you're arguing that time is the ultimate conceptual priority for existence. But, in order to claim that time exists, you'll either need to introduce some priority to time -- at which point you're denying your original thesis -- or make a circular reference back to time. No matter what you do, you're going to be confessing to the belief that something which obviously exists in fact does not exist.

Neither you nor I know the true nature of time. Better minds than ours have grappled with this question. We know that it can be thought of as a fourth dimension alongside the three spatial dimensions. We also know that it is malleable - we can travel (one way) throught it faster or slower depending on gravity and acceleration. So, the question "does time exist?" in effect becomes "does the fabric of space-time exist?" or even "does the universe exist?". The answer is yes, if you are inside the universe experiencing time. It is self-referential in that you need to be immersed in time in order to be able to coherently discuss its existence.

Does that answer your question?

The more interesting question though is "does the universe exist 'outside' of the universe?". I think the answer has to be no. If you think about it, to an outside 'observer' who does not experience the time of our universe, the universe would begin, all the history of the universe would pass, and the universe would end (in whatever way), all in one timeless instant from the perspective of the 'observer'. The 'observer' would observe nothing. For him, the universe and all its history does not exist - it never happened. This is the position in which you put your god.

Your original post made a universal claim about existence, not just about existence relative to living things, and you've admitted to carrying this throughout the discussion: "My point has been all along that what we call existence is intrinsically linked with the passage of time." Once you finally admit that existence cannot be qualified by time, unless you wish to deny existence to time, we can start talking about timeless things, and then perhaps I can convey my point to you about the eternity of God.

On the contrary, my resolve that time is inherent to any definition of existence is becoming stronger.
dee-em
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8/7/2014 8:42:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 9:18:41 AM, Cassius wrote:

How is it more reasonable to say they're attributes ("God has understanding") then actions ("God understands")? In this case, is the attribute not just some essential quality derived from God's performance of an action? i.e., God's attribute of "understanding" derived from God act of understanding?

I fail to see how god can 'perform' anything without time. Perform and act are verbs, doing words. How is it meaningful to discuss god doing anything without time passing? What separates the state where the deed is not done to where it is done?

Imagine you're a really good story-teller, and your grandson asks you to tell him a bedtime story. Now, imagine you spontaneously conceive a narrative about kingdoms and dragons and knights which takes place over a century in fantasy-time. You are causally prior to every millisecond of action in that story, because you are the one narrating it and giving it life. However, you cause everything to happen in that story by one timeless act, with respect to the time within the fantasy story. In the same way, God wills everything which He wills by one eternal act, even if, on this side of the mirror, we view His eternal acts in a temporal way, as one after the other.

I'm sorry but this is another fail. Do you really believe that coming up with a bedtime story for a child happens in your brain in zero time? You need to study some neuro-science my friend.
Cassius
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8/7/2014 9:21:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 8:32:25 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/7/2014 9:09:47 AM, Cassius wrote:

Because your answer was so inadequate, I thought I'd give you a second shot. Time is just a "property" of the universe? So properties don't exist, huh? Or was the word "property" an actual escape-route for you? If time is just a property of the universe, then the universe is conceptually prior to time: and as such can the universe be said to exist, since it doesn't exist in time?

By saying that everything which exists, exists in time, you're arguing that time is the ultimate conceptual priority for existence. But, in order to claim that time exists, you'll either need to introduce some priority to time -- at which point you're denying your original thesis -- or make a circular reference back to time. No matter what you do, you're going to be confessing to the belief that something which obviously exists in fact does not exist.

Neither you nor I know the true nature of time. Better minds than ours have grappled with this question. We know that it can be thought of as a fourth dimension alongside the three spatial dimensions. We also know that it is malleable - we can travel (one way) throught it faster or slower depending on gravity and acceleration. So, the question "does time exist?" in effect becomes "does the fabric of space-time exist?" or even "does the universe exist?". The answer is yes, if you are inside the universe experiencing time. It is self-referential in that you need to be immersed in time in order to be able to coherently discuss its existence.

Does that answer your question?

No, it does not, and you literally ignored the entire point behind the contradiction implicit in your definition of existence. I don't really care how you're defining time -- the issue is that you're considering it the ultimate conceptual priority: you're qualifying existence with reference to time. If time is conceptually prior to existence, then how will you say that time exists at all without being viciously circular?

The more interesting question though is "does the universe exist 'outside' of the universe?". I think the answer has to be no. If you think about it, to an outside 'observer' who does not experience the time of our universe, the universe would begin, all the history of the universe would pass, and the universe would end (in whatever way), all in one timeless instant from the perspective of the 'observer'. The 'observer' would observe nothing. For him, the universe and all its history does not exist - it never happened. This is the position in which you put your god.

Your original post made a universal claim about existence, not just about existence relative to living things, and you've admitted to carrying this throughout the discussion: "My point has been all along that what we call existence is intrinsically linked with the passage of time." Once you finally admit that existence cannot be qualified by time, unless you wish to deny existence to time, we can start talking about timeless things, and then perhaps I can convey my point to you about the eternity of God.

On the contrary, my resolve that time is inherent to any definition of existence is becoming stronger.

... I have never seen someone have so much conviction over a definition they created which is so obviously conceptually flawed. And, yeah, you kinda ignored my point about mathematics, existence, et al. existing without time. It's repugnant to the very idea of existence that existence should be qualified by something other than itself -- truly, for anything to be considered the ultimate priority, it must first exist.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
Cassius
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8/7/2014 9:31:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 8:42:03 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/7/2014 9:18:41 AM, Cassius wrote:

How is it more reasonable to say they're attributes ("God has understanding") then actions ("God understands")? In this case, is the attribute not just some essential quality derived from God's performance of an action? i.e., God's attribute of "understanding" derived from God act of understanding?

I fail to see how god can 'perform' anything without time. Perform and act are verbs, doing words. How is it meaningful to discuss god doing anything without time passing? What separates the state where the deed is not done to where it is done?

I don't pretend to have the ability to comprehend eternity, at all. The Scholastic philosopher Boethius says this on time and eternity: "The now that flows away makes time, the now that stands still makes eternity," and I think that's a good way to at least apprehend logically what eternity is. It's a now that never passes: it's a now without a "before" and an "after." It is your conviction that an action must be preceded temporally by not-action, and I don't see how we must hold to that. Imagine this very moment, that you love your pet goldfish. Now imagine that this moment will never pass, and never has passed. (Judging by your laughably literal interpretation of my previous analogy, you don't do very well with analogies from the mundane to the celestial, or from the temporal to the eternal, but I'm hoping any readers will get something out of that.)

Imagine you're a really good story-teller, and your grandson asks you to tell him a bedtime story. Now, imagine you spontaneously conceive a narrative about kingdoms and dragons and knights which takes place over a century in fantasy-time. You are causally prior to every millisecond of action in that story, because you are the one narrating it and giving it life. However, you cause everything to happen in that story by one timeless act, with respect to the time within the fantasy story. In the same way, God wills everything which He wills by one eternal act, even if, on this side of the mirror, we view His eternal acts in a temporal way, as one after the other.

I'm sorry but this is another fail. Do you really believe that coming up with a bedtime story for a child happens in your brain in zero time? You need to study some neuro-science my friend.

...what? Do you really think that I believe people come up with stories in an instant? You missed the entire point of my thought experiment, where temporal effects don't necessitate temporal causes. But that's fine. I guess it's for the readers.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
dee-em
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8/8/2014 6:48:52 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 9:21:15 PM, Cassius wrote:

No, it does not, and you literally ignored the entire point behind the contradiction implicit in your definition of existence. I don't really care how you're defining time -- the issue is that you're considering it the ultimate conceptual priority: you're qualifying existence with reference to time. If time is conceptually prior to existence, then how will you say that time exists at all without being viciously circular?

But I'm not saying time is conceptually prior to existence. I'm saying that they are conceptually wed to each other. You can't talk meaningfully about existence without time. That's it. Now let me anticipate you. You are going to complain that I haven't got an explanation as to where time came from, which is equivalent to asking for an origin to the universe. Well, that is the million dollar question isn't it? I don't really have an answer, but do I need one? I could speculate that it was a quantum fluctuation but I'm sure that won't satisfy you.

The point is that everything I have been saying about existence and time holds regardless of the origin of the universe. You can carry on about the existence of time, but I maintain that the concept of existence has no meaning without time so that the question becomes moot. That's logically consistent.

Are we done with the existence of time, the existence of existence, the time of existence, and the time of time?

... I have never seen someone have so much conviction over a definition they created which is so obviously conceptually flawed. And, yeah, you kinda ignored my point about mathematics, existence, et al. existing without time. It's repugnant to the very idea of existence that existence should be qualified by something other than itself -- truly, for anything to be considered the ultimate priority, it must first exist.
dee-em
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8/8/2014 7:24:08 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/7/2014 9:31:43 PM, Cassius wrote:

I don't pretend to have the ability to comprehend eternity, at all. The Scholastic philosopher Boethius says this on time and eternity: "The now that flows away makes time, the now that stands still makes eternity," and I think that's a good way to at least apprehend logically what eternity is. It's a now that never passes: it's a now without a "before" and an "after." It is your conviction that an action must be preceded temporally by not-action, and I don't see how we must hold to that. Imagine this very moment, that you love your pet goldfish. Now imagine that this moment will never pass, and never has passed. (Judging by your laughably literal interpretation of my previous analogy, you don't do very well with analogies from the mundane to the celestial, or from the temporal to the eternal, but I'm hoping any readers will get something out of that.)

You can blame my inability to appreciate your highly educational analogies, but I have a couple of problems with this. Firstly, how long is this moment that you want me to imagine? If it is a zero length instant, then it doesn't exist. If it is a tiny fraction of a second, then you are still talking about elapsed time.

Secondly, you seem to be talking about stasis. If the moment (ignoring what this entails) you describe will never pass and never has passed then there is no potential for anything to happen. No action is possible in a frozen instant of time. I don't see how you hope to evade this inescapable conclusion.

Imagine you're a really good story-teller, and your grandson asks you to tell him a bedtime story. Now, imagine you spontaneously conceive a narrative about kingdoms and dragons and knights which takes place over a century in fantasy-time. You are causally prior to every millisecond of action in that story, because you are the one narrating it and giving it life. However, you cause everything to happen in that story by one timeless act, with respect to the time within the fantasy story. In the same way, God wills everything which He wills by one eternal act, even if, on this side of the mirror, we view His eternal acts in a temporal way, as one after the other.

I'm sorry but this is another fail. Do you really believe that coming up with a bedtime story for a child happens in your brain in zero time? You need to study some neuro-science my friend.

...what? Do you really think that I believe people come up with stories in an instant? You missed the entire point of my thought experiment, where temporal effects don't necessitate temporal causes. But that's fine. I guess it's for the readers.

I'm sorry if I missed something. What did you mean then by "one timeless act"? What were you referring to? The act of conceiving the story still took time irrespective of whether it is a different time to the time of the story. I think this is the very conclusion that I reached about god in the OP.
Cassius
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8/8/2014 8:47:19 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/8/2014 6:48:52 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/7/2014 9:21:15 PM, Cassius wrote:

No, it does not, and you literally ignored the entire point behind the contradiction implicit in your definition of existence. I don't really care how you're defining time -- the issue is that you're considering it the ultimate conceptual priority: you're qualifying existence with reference to time. If time is conceptually prior to existence, then how will you say that time exists at all without being viciously circular?

But I'm not saying time is conceptually prior to existence. I'm saying that they are conceptually wed to each other. You can't talk meaningfully about existence without time. That's it. Now let me anticipate you. You are going to complain that I haven't got an explanation as to where time came from, which is equivalent to asking for an origin to the universe. Well, that is the million dollar question isn't it? I don't really have an answer, but do I need one? I could speculate that it was a quantum fluctuation but I'm sure that won't satisfy you.

Whether you make it explicit or not, you are in fact claiming that time is conceptually prior to existence, because you are including time in the definition of existence. No matter what definition you find, you're always going to see an appeal to what is conceptually prior, and this could be either from species to genus, or from whole to part: for instance, if I were to define human, I would appeal to "animal," or I would appeal to "brain," etc. The fact of the matter is that you can talk of existence without time, because things exist in specific moments as well as over the passage of some amount of time. (Of course, this example is just meant to complement the truly timeless examples of numbers, shapes, truth, etc., and even existence itself). You simply don't need to qualify existence with time in order to correctly understand existence. It doesn't make any sense and defeats the most universal concept we know with something particular.

The point is that everything I have been saying about existence and time holds regardless of the origin of the universe. You can carry on about the existence of time, but I maintain that the concept of existence has no meaning without time so that the question becomes moot. That's logically consistent.

Are we done with the existence of time, the existence of existence, the time of existence, and the time of time?

No, we aren't, because you have completely failed to see where the problem in your time/existence campaign lies. I mean, I understand that you wrote this OP provoked by some inspiring thought about time and existence, and I understand that you didn't at first see how the scope of such a qualification to existence defeats itself by denying existence to the qualification, but there's no reason it should drag on like this.

... I have never seen someone have so much conviction over a definition they created which is so obviously conceptually flawed. And, yeah, you kinda ignored my point about mathematics, existence, et al. existing without time. It's repugnant to the very idea of existence that existence should be qualified by something other than itself -- truly, for anything to be considered the ultimate priority, it must first exist.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.
Cassius
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8/8/2014 9:01:35 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 8/8/2014 7:24:08 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 8/7/2014 9:31:43 PM, Cassius wrote:

I don't pretend to have the ability to comprehend eternity, at all. The Scholastic philosopher Boethius says this on time and eternity: "The now that flows away makes time, the now that stands still makes eternity," and I think that's a good way to at least apprehend logically what eternity is. It's a now that never passes: it's a now without a "before" and an "after." It is your conviction that an action must be preceded temporally by not-action, and I don't see how we must hold to that. Imagine this very moment, that you love your pet goldfish. Now imagine that this moment will never pass, and never has passed. (Judging by your laughably literal interpretation of my previous analogy, you don't do very well with analogies from the mundane to the celestial, or from the temporal to the eternal, but I'm hoping any readers will get something out of that.)

You can blame my inability to appreciate your highly educational analogies, but I have a couple of problems with this. Firstly, how long is this moment that you want me to imagine? If it is a zero length instant, then it doesn't exist. If it is a tiny fraction of a second, then you are still talking about elapsed time.

How long? Since I'm talking about moments, yes, I mean zero-length. If you need to excite yourself with "Planck frames" or anything of that nature, be my guest. I'm simply inviting you to imagine this particular instant not only never passing, but also never becoming.

Secondly, you seem to be talking about stasis. If the moment (ignoring what this entails) you describe will never pass and never has passed then there is no potential for anything to happen. No action is possible in a frozen instant of time. I don't see how you hope to evade this inescapable conclusion.

Because the action does not need to be preceded by non-action to still be regarded as an action. If I love my pet goldfish in this instant, and it doesn't take any time for that love to exist within me. Imagine that this now, this instant, was never brought into being after some other now, and will never pass conceding to another now. In this moment, it is true that I love my pet goldfish, and there is no reason my love does not exist simply because it isn't a progression from not-loving to loving.

Imagine you're a really good story-teller, and your grandson asks you to tell him a bedtime story. Now, imagine you spontaneously conceive a narrative about kingdoms and dragons and knights which takes place over a century in fantasy-time. You are causally prior to every millisecond of action in that story, because you are the one narrating it and giving it life. However, you cause everything to happen in that story by one timeless act, with respect to the time within the fantasy story. In the same way, God wills everything which He wills by one eternal act, even if, on this side of the mirror, we view His eternal acts in a temporal way, as one after the other.

I'm sorry but this is another fail. Do you really believe that coming up with a bedtime story for a child happens in your brain in zero time? You need to study some neuro-science my friend.

...what? Do you really think that I believe people come up with stories in an instant? You missed the entire point of my thought experiment, where temporal effects don't necessitate temporal causes. But that's fine. I guess it's for the readers.

I'm sorry if I missed something. What did you mean then by "one timeless act"? What were you referring to? The act of conceiving the story still took time irrespective of whether it is a different time to the time of the story. I think this is the very conclusion that I reached about god in the OP.

Well, duh, God conceived of the world from eternity in one timeless act, but I thought it was pretty clear that the analogy from me to my fantasy story isn't exactly the same. I don't think anyone since the dawn of man has regarded their intellect as nimble enough to produce a fantastic narrative in literally zero time. The point is that temporal effects -- remember that my story took place over a century in a kingdom -- do not necessitate temporal causes -- as I am taking a much shorter time to convey the narrative. In a similar way, it is by one eternal act that God wills, loves, understands, etc., which is never preceded by God not-willing, not-loving, not-understanding, a now that simply endures, but which is perceived by us, in our temporal mutable perspective, to be a now that changes.
I used to be Nur-Ab-Sal.