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Featured God doesn't "exist as a concept" (and neither does anything else)

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by 9-10ths_Penguin, Aug 1, 2021.

  1. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I didn't come up with this challenge, but I really like it:

    Draw a bicycle.

    Pretty much everyone has a concept of a bicycle... so draw it in as much detail as you can manage. Draw either a specific bike that you have in mind or a "generalized" bike that you dreamed up yourself.

    Whenever you decide you're done, hit the spoiler button below.

    All right. Now that you're done, look at it critically and ask yourself a few questions:

    - would this bike actually function? Would the wheels turn? Would the pedals propel you? Would the brakes work? Would the gears shift properly?

    - (if it was a depiction of a real bike): does this drawing look like the real bike? Are there any differences between the real thing and your drawing? Did you get the scratch on the fork or the scuff on the crank correct?

    When asking yourself these questions, feel free to make reasonable allowances for your drawing ability (or lack thereof), but please be honest with yourself and don't pretend that you were conceiving of details that you really didn't.

    We think in mental models. These models are not the entirety of the things they represent; they're only the details we think are important... and even then, only the details we recognize.

    Just as your mental model of a bike isn't actually a bike "existing in your mind," your mental model of God isn't actually God existing in your mind, either. It's an action figure version of God. A Potemkin Village God.

    The idea of God "existing as a concept" is a foundational part of the Ontological Argument. It also gets used occasionally for snark thrown at atheists ("what do you mean God doesn't exist? *I* believe in God, so God at least exists as a concept"... that sort of thing).

    ... but the whole idea of God - or anything - "existing as a concept" or "existing in the mind" is nonsense.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    I think it's a case of "it's the thought that counts"
     
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  3. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I don't know. It seems to me that anyone who says that God "exists as a concept" is implying that they can fit the entirety of God in their minds. It seems pretty hubristic, IMO.

    And then some people will claim that God can "exist as a concept" (i.e. be entirely conceived in the mind) but then turn around and claim that God is "ineffable" (i.e. can't be conceived at all). It makes no sense.
     
  4. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Turned to Stone. Now I stretch daily.
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    Its either not a good argument, Pen, or not a good example; because we have all seen 3D models which are essentially concepts. Its entirely possible to make a bicycle that way. Almost anything -- maybe anything -- can be modeled.
     
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  5. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    I think for those who believe in god that believe is in the mind, that god is a figment (for want of a better word) of the mind. Their god therefore exists as thought.

    So next, fitting god in a mind. The mind is very powerful in that it can imagine just about anything imaginable. How the mind plays this trick i just don't know. I imagine that's how believers can fit a god in their mind and not be phased by the idea.
     
  6. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    - a 3D model in a computer isn't a concept in a brain.

    - the 3D model isn't complete, either. They may have got the rendering right so that the external appearance looks correct, but would the model include hidden details (e.g. the pawls in the freehub, the bearings in the bottom bracket, or the little roller bearings in the chain)?

    (Edit: and you could even go a step further: does the 3D model include the crystal structure of the alloys the frame and parts are made of? If you have the wrong structure, the bike will just break when you ride it, so for an actual bike, it's important for it to be a specific way)
     
  7. SigurdReginson

    SigurdReginson Grēne Mann
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    Interesting. What about god as a personal concept embodying ideal principles, like values and morals? What about god as a personal concept embodying ideal creativity, like music or art? What about god as a personal concept embodying ideal relationships, like love and family?

    God as a concept is more than just an idea, otherwise it would be incomplete and imperfect, as you say. Sometimes it's an ideal guiding principle, too. Sometimes it helps to personify desirable traits for people to wrap their heads around ceetain concepts in life; especially if they come from a religious background.

    All this said, though, the value inherent is purely subjective and personal.
     
    #7 SigurdReginson, Aug 1, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
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  8. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Turned to Stone. Now I stretch daily.
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    Maybe not in the brain and definitely not my brain, but 3D modeling has come a long way in a short time. I think it does not demonstrate Plato's ideal concept of bicycle, but it demonstrates to me that a particular design is a concept and can exist as a concept.

    With a desktop computer and software from the major vendors you can design a bike or a complete machine, test it and its parts in simulations and then have it fabricated. This demonstrates that a particular bicycle can exist as a concept: a particular one not the idea of all bicycles. That is a different attainment.
     
  9. Link

    Link Veteran Member
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    This is why necessary being only applies to God. Everything else can be this way or that way (different type of bikes) but necessary being has to be same in all possible worlds.
     
  10. Link

    Link Veteran Member
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    The ontological argument if properly understood shows God does not exist as an idea, but a living thing that it cannot be perceived as an idea without seeing it living and existing. The reason is because it's the necessary being. Therefore you can't have idea of God, only see the real thing.
     
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  11. Jeremiah Ames

    Jeremiah Ames Well-Known Member

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    you are correct
     
  12. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Concepts exist.
    Therefor, the concept of "God" exists.
    Therefor, "God" exists as a concept.
     
  13. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    And so does the Loch Ness Monster.
     
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  14. infrabenji

    infrabenji Active Member

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    Can you clarify for me? I think everyone gets it but me? Are you saying god is a concept? Or are you saying god is a concept and also real? I’m not sure, but I feel left out lol.
     
  15. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    This is much like Krishnamurti's "The idea is not the thing" meaning an idea may or may not represent something that exists outside the mind. But in any case having a mental conception of something is not the object or phenomenon itself.
     
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  16. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    I would ask you if you can verify if the idea of "cat" represents a set of actual animals. I suspect you will acknowledge you can, because "cat" is a category of animals that we can point to and observe existing. Can anyone verify that the idea of "god" represents anything actual? Do the concept correspond to anything real in a way that we mortals can verify?

    So does a concept describe something real, or is it created or manipulated?
     
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  17. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    So you're asserting God is imaginary.
     
  18. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    God lives? Then it can die.

    Your concept of God in this example is very anthropomorphic.
     
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  19. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I'm saying that concepts are only representations of objects; they aren't the objects themselves.
     
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  20. stvdv

    stvdv Veteran Member

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    Agreed. God existing as a concept in the mind is non-sense

    As is the mental concept that God does not exist
     
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