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Why God Doesn't Exist - Belief
Whether God exists is not an issue to be resolved through belief or knowledge, but rather by defining the word exist. The definition of 'exist' contains no provision for faith or wisdom.
Theists, atheists, and agnostics have been debating the existence of God at least since the days of the Greeks. Have they attained consensus?
Broadly speaking, a theist is an individual who believes that God exists whereas an atheist is a person who believes the opposite. An alleged third party to these discussions, the agnostic, is a person who believes that we can never know for sure whether God exists because there is no experiment that we can run to test the hypothesis. Which of these views is correct?
Perhaps a more objective question is whether any of these views is rational. For instance, does THIS chair disappear if you refuse to acknowledge it? Does it make sense to attempt to prove the existence of a chair by sitting on it?
And what does it mean to say that you ‘believe’ that this chair exists, anyway? Doesn’t the chair exist as a standalone object on its own before its light reaches your eyes, irrespective of your faith?
It seems to me that whether this chair or God exists is a question of definitions and has little to do with the nouns chair and God. We define the strategic word ‘exist’. If the noun at the center of our inquiry meets the requirements of the definition, then it exists. Otherwise, it doesn’t.
Theist vs Mathemagician
For instance, let’s propose the following definition:
exist: physical presence
The ‘physical’ part of this definition invokes an object, a word that I will presently associate with shape: an image or contour you can point to. The ‘presence’ part invokes location. An object that has location exists pursuant to this particular definition. ‘Physical presence’ is an objective definition because it enables us to use ‘exist’ consistently (i.e., scientifically) since it contains no provisions for belief or knowledge.
For example, THIS chair is an object (i.e., has shape) as well as location. It meets both requirements of the definition and, therefore, exists. In contrast, a circle has shape, but lacks location. The definition compels us to reject its existence. Concepts such as love or justice don’t even meet the minimum ‘physical’ criterion and need not be analyzed further.
Does God meet the requirements of this definition?
The answer depends on the individuals giving the presentation. Will the presenters introduce God as an object or as a concept for the purposes of their talk? Will they point to the anthropomorphic being of Old Testament fame or will they associate God with abstract concepts such as love or intelligence? The ball is in their court.
Note that I am not arguing that you have to accept this definition of ‘exist’. I am saying that it is premature to debate the existence of God until we first settle the meaning of the word exist unambiguously. If the existence of God depended on subjective opinions, God would be vulnerable to our wildest whims.
So? What is your definition of exist?
Please fill in the blanks. That way we can understand what you mean when you argue that "God exists" or that "God doesn't exist."