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Thread: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

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    Default Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    http://philpapers.org/archive/MIZSIK.pdf

    Abstract: In this paper, I sketch an argument for the view that we cannot know (or have good reasons to believe) that God exists. Some call this view "strong agnosticism" but I prefer the term "skeptheism" in order to clearly distinguish between two distinct epistemic attitudes with respect to the existence of God, namely, agnosticism and skepticism. For the skeptheist, we cannot know (or have good reasons to believe) that God exists, since there can be neither conceptual (a priori) nor empirical (a posteriori) evidence for the existence of God.

    Keywords: agnosticism; atheism; skeptheism; theism
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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    Interesting, but need to eat before reading. Will leave this: if God is all powerful and all-knowing, then knowledge of God would come down to whether She wanted us to know of Her. Assuming she did, we would all know. Assuming she didn't, none of us would.

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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    Hi Workmx.
    Iíve spent the past seven years looking at the question of what we can know (including existence of phenomena such as ďgodsĒ).
    My views are as follows. Your proposed argument looks as though it is an epistemological one. However, the subject area appears to have been ďdone to deathĒ. As I see it, the active branch of epistemology that is supportive of religion has religious roots. It will tend to produce work that has different inferences to that done by epistemologists with a secular background.
    Moreover, I think that ďproofsĒ of the existence of gods raise a Gettier ďtypeĒ problem, in that what might seem to be a definite sign of the existence of a God to the religious, might indicate something entirely different to a person with no religious inclinations.
    Iíve found some of the recent writings on epistemology to be overly verbose and at times grossly pretentious exercises in semantics. Of all the writings Iíve encountered to date, the views of Bertrand Russell seem to me to provide answers most suited to our post-modern era (at least to the part of it that has actually arrived). Russell views ďknowledgeĒ on a scale: there is ďknowledgeĒ that is highly probable, that which is less probable, and ďknowledgeĒ that is highly improbable. Of course, at this juncture, we could debate the appropriateness of the word ďknowledgeĒ. To me, Russellís view conjures up propositions being portrayed on a Likert scale. Arguments proposing the sun rising tomorrow have weight greater than nine, but I only place a one against the strength of the argument for gods.
    The problem is that a very large section of the population appears to crave certainty: but (except for simple or general things) there is none. Our post-modern era recognises this and is a sceptical one. I think there are more worthy projects for philosophical endeavour than ďproofĒ of the existence of Gods.
    These are my personal opinions. However, due to pressing issues, I may not be able to continue debate (people can always PM me to convey comments). However, I will join in future philosophical discussion when I can. I highly recommend Bertand Russellís Human Knowledge and Basic Writings (both published by Routledge) .
    Ernie
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - from Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    I forgot to say that a priori knowledge is (I think) a Kantian proposition. However, even contributions from the religious good ol' US (gardís chosen folk) admit the concept lacks empirical support.

    Ernie
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - from Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    It all depends on how you define this "God" concept.
    The meaning of your life, is what you choose to make it.

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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    Bruce 1937

    Iíll try a definition of god. A human construct (possibly in reaction to the fear of death) used by promoters to gain control over the gullible. For the past twelve hundred years various versions of religious superstition (especially christianity) have been used as instruments of control over the masses (for instance, through the alleged divine right of kings). Religious superstitions are now in decline (possibly as a result of rising levels of education and the despicable actions of the religious).
    Ernie
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - from Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    I'll put out my views and then come back after reading the article.

    In short, I have always been a bit perplexed by suggestions that knowledge of is impossible, for relevant and interesting gods, anyway. The deist god who created everything and buggered off: sure, can't know about that(*). But the god of Abrahamic religions could easily demonstrate it's existence. If one considers the gods of some religions that are sort of a bit magical but otherwise more or less super-humans - like the Norse gods - again, knowledge of them would be perfectly straightforward. No-one in the Marvel universe seems to have an essential epistemic problem with Thor. Ditto gods in between.

    I can't help feeling that efforts to derive atheism from meanings of words, or quibbles about epistemology, are just the flip side of efforts in the same vein by theists. And the response to the atheist effort has to be the same as to the theists when they try to derive god from definitions, or a priori principles, or some point about epistemology: but what's your evidence?

    I perhaps should declare here that I am a strong atheist.

    Now to the article ...

    (*) I was going to include the elder gods as well, but of course as H.P. Lovecraft points out, they didn't leave without a trace, like the deist creator.
    Last edited by wearestardust; 13th March 2016 at 02:11 PM.
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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    Quote Ernie said View Post
    I forgot to say that a priori knowledge is (I think) a Kantian proposition.

    Ernie
    Kant did think there is such a thing as a priori knowledge - more importantly, a priori synthetic knowledge, not just analytic knowledge that is true by definition or rules.

    But Plato thought so too, of course.
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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    Knowledge is a registration in the mind/brain, a construct which equates with reality or some aspect of reality.

    Ultimately, empirical and quantifiable knowledge and logical proofs are all we can affirm as substantive knowledge, which can be shared, since we can allow that we all share the same senses, faculties for communication and cognizance of space and time.

    There is no empirical evidence for God or the spiritual. Claims for God cannot be demonstrably equated with reality.
    Wars begin in the minds of men.
    The UNESCO motto, in Enlightenment Now, the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress, Steven Pinker, 2018.

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    Default Re: Skeptheism: Is Knowledge of Godís Existence Possible?

    There is nothing to say about gods philosophically. Concrete descriptions with identifiable attributes cannot be found. All other gods are incoherent dreams or nightmares.
    "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government".
    -Thomas Jefferson

    Burden of proof is the obligation on somebody presenting a claim to provide evidence to support its truth (a warrant). Once evidence has been presented, it is up to any opposing "side" to show the evidence presented is not adequate. If claims were accepted without warrants, then every claim could simultaneously be claimed to be true.

    History isn't written by the victors. It's written by the people with the time machines.

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