God as a necessary versus contingent being

The problem here is that by equating the God of the 3 monotheistic faiths with your list of characters, you are making a category error for the latter are contingent beings whereas the former is the necessary being that is the source of all being. IOW, you are comparing oranges with apple.

Given what I said above, the truth is that it is certainly not defensible to talk about « faith » in the context of disbelief in contingent gods, but it is entirely accurate in the context of God conceived as the necessary being.

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But that’s just an assertion.

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No, saying that the 3 monotheistic faiths conceive God as the necessary being is not an assertion, not at all. It is the reality, pure and simple. On the other hand, I grant you that saying that God conceived as the necessary being exists may be considered as an assertion.


Saying that God is a necessary being is just an assertion, yes. That is something you believe on faith. Nothing supports it.


Let’s start with the new and old testament. Calling this nothing is a little bit of a stretch. You have matched what you believe is an assertion with a false assertion.

It is the privilege of the believers of the 3 monotheistic faiths to define God as they understand him. And it is a matter of fact, and not belief, that they conceive God as the necessary being. Now, non believers are of course free to deny the existence of God conceived as the necessary being. But when they express this view, they should be aware that they are doing so based on faith, not fact.

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The opposite of fact is not faith. The opposite of faith is not fact.

Throughout scripture, from Eden forward, the opposite of faith in God is expressed as doubt, not some alternative faith.


I disagree that the opposite of faith is doubt for you can have faith and still have doubt.

Now are you challenging the fact that the atheist position is a faith-based position?

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If it was a fact, I would not be challenging it.

Of course, you are free to personally consider any given presupposition to be a faith. Discussions over definitions of broadly used words are unresolvable. You can call it faith that you presuppose with your next step you will not fall through the ground to the center of the earth and then get squished - but then the word is trivialized.

I do not really have more to add to my comments earlier in this thread, please refer to them. I think that defining atheism as a faith just muddles the language and is driven by the posturing of false equivalencies. Worldviews deal with such axiomatic presuppositions and is a perfectly appropriate word to cover both atheism and theism. Theism, in and of itself, is a worldview or a philosophy, but not a faith in the sense that Christianity is. Akin to this, atheism is also a worldview and not a faith, and certainly not a religion.


Agreed. And, by the way, wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that someone was taking pains to explain that “faith” is more like “trust” than it is like “belief,” and that this is just the sort of sophisticated-theology thing that atheists never understand?

It seems to me that when people are conscious of the problematic nature of religious faith, they seek to make the false equivalence; and when they are feeling proud and exhibitionistic about their religious faith, they let us all know that those of us who don’t share it have no idea what it even really is. I wish sometimes that people would make up their minds. If they’re a bit embarrassed about having “faith” and want to drag others into the same position so that they can claim we’re all in the same boat, then they should explicitly and clearly disparage faith (in this “everybody has faith” sense) and get on with it. If they’re proud to believe in Loki and want everyone to know that those who lack faith lack wisdom as well, then they should explicitly and clearly praise faith and express how central faith (in this “only we true believers have faith” sense) is to wisdom. But dithering back and forth between these positions, and having radically different definitions for every occasion, is just confusing and a bit sad.


And still no love for the Morrígan. Alas! When will I find my people, those of the true faith?!

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Clearly, I need to know more about the Morrigan!

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By “understand”, you really just mean define and then believe for no reason. They are defining and then believing on faith that God is a necessary being. You can make up whatever definition you want, but you haven’t by that mere act shown that something is necessary.

You can’t define something into existence. You can’t say God exists because God is by definition necessary and then pretend you’ve shown that God exists. What you’ve done is stated two faith positions. 1) That a God exists, and 2) that it exists because it is necessary.

Making up the definition in 2) that God is necessary, does not actually demonstrate the truth of 1).

Yes, it is a fact that they believe on faith that there is a God, and it is a fact that they believe on faith that this God is a necessary being.

No, all that an atheist have to do is to point out that they have not been given any reasons to share in this faith position that theists have that there is a God, and that it is a necessary being. So the atheist can then simply abstain from having this faith position.

To not share in a faith position is not itself a faith position. Not being convinced that the accused is guilty, is not to be convinced that the accused is not guilty. If you refrain from believing that A, is not to believe that not-A. You can be undecided on that question because you do not find any arguments or evidence for or against to be compelling enough to take a position.


Yes, that’s a common shell game. Declare that some god has some attributes that means he must exist, then announce that he exists - eliding the highly relevant detail that the god must exist only if it exists. If the god doesn’t actually exist, then it doesn’t have to exist.


Theists are not “defining God into existence”. Rather, what theists argue is that a necessary being exists (using arguments such as the cosmological argument), and that being is that which we normally call “God”.

If you want to disavow God’s existence, then you should argue against the proposition that “a necessary being exists.” I don’t necessarily share @Giltil’s view that doing so is a form of “faith”. But I think what he is getting at is that arguing that Loki, Thor, or Nessie doesn’t exist is irrelevant to the matter under discussion. It is like arguing that magnetic monopoles, tachyons, or the King of France doesn’t exist. The existence or non-existence of these entities matter little for the truth of theism.


It seems to me that what you are describing here is the agnostic, not the atheist position. Indeed, it is the agnostic that can abstain from having a faith position. The atheist, on the other hand, asserts that God doesn’t exist. And given that it is impossible to demonstrate that this assertion is true, it follows that the position of the atheist corresponds to a belief. In this sense, he is in the same situation as the theist.

This is false. It is also inappropriate in the forum. You are making claims–false claims in this case–about what other people believe. The moderators won’t notice, but I do.

This is a textbook non sequitur and has been explained numerous times on this thread.


Well that of course depends on how those terms are defined. Sure enough it used to be defined in the way that theism, atheism, and agnosticism described three different positions on that question, but that usage really has grown out of favor among many contemporary atheists.

Today many atheists(in this post defined merely as those who do not believe that a God exists) make a distinction between knowledge and belief. Here the words theism and a-theism refer to what one believes or not, and gnosticism refers to what one claims to know or not.

In this way, theism describes the person who has a belief that God(s) exist. And a-theism(which could be called not-theism) describes one who is not a theist. That is to say, one who does not have the belief that God(s) exist.

This is to distinguish it from gnostic and a-gnostic. The gnostic is the one who claims to know something, and the a-gnostic is one who does not claim to know something.

So that gives four options:
Gnostic theist (one who claims to know that God(s) exist, and believes that God(s) exist).
Agnostic theist (one who does not claim to know that God(s) exist, but still believes that God(s) exist).
Gnostic atheist (one who claims to know that God does not exist, and believes that God does not exist).
Agnostic atheist (one who does not claim to know that God(s) exist, but does not believe that God(s) exist).

If I don’t believe that a God exists(for whatever reason, in this case that none of the arguments are convincing to me), but I do not claim to know that no God exists, then I am an agnostic atheist.


Why? It’s much easier to reject the unsupported assertion that a necessary being is in any way related to the theistic idea of God.

Anyway, no-one wants to disavow your god’s existence. If your god actually existed, I’d admit it, and I’m sure most other atheists would too. But it doesn’t, so we don’t.


It happens that my definition of atheism here is the one that is generally accepted in philosophy.