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  1. #1
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    List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Basic Definitions of Key Terms in The Great Debate

    1. Agnosticism - without knowledge or neutral about the truth of a matter, especially in relation to the question of the existence of God.
    2. Atheism - without belief in god(s) OR the assertion god(s) do not exist.
    3. Christian - any person seeking to live according to the example set by Jesus in his life and in conformity to the teachings of Jesus either as a contemporary of him, or the Apostles or Apostolic teachings or as revealed in the Gospels and the NT that, in their context have application to all humans.
    4. Empirical - based upon or verifiable by experience or observation.
    5. Epistemology – theories of knowledge (how we know what we think we know is true).
    7. Energy - the ability or capacity to do work. (?)
    8. Evidence - the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid (OED)
    7. Evolution (biological) - the change in allele frequencies within a population over time.
    9. Fact - a proposition confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent to its truth. (talkorigins.com)
    10. Faith - confident trust in a person, thing, or idea OR belief in the absence of, or contrary to the evidence (blind faith).
    11. God - (minimal definition) The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it.
    12. Intelligent Design - the scientific hypothesis that certain features of the Universe and of living systems are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than by mindless natural processes
    13. Knowledge - justified true belief.
    14. Material - composed of particles. (?)
    15. Metaphysical – beyond the physical.
    16. Methodological naturalism - a methodological principle within the context of scientific inquiry; i.e., all hypotheses and events are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events
    17. Miracle - a temporary exception to the laws of nature to show that God is working.
    18. Natural - of a non-sentient universe, with all its properties and behavioral principles.
    19. Nothing - the complete absence of any something or complete non-existence (in science more and more becoming used for empty space).
    20. Objective - things true or false independent of the opinions of sentient beings
    21. Ontology – the study of what is, that which is reality.
    22. Philosophical Materialism - the belief and assertion that all that exists is the material world.
    23. Philosophical Naturalism - the belief and assertion that all that exists is the natural world and natural explanations in that world.
    24. Physical - non-abstract things that can, at least in principle, be mathematically described (?)
    25. Scientific Hypothesis - an educated guess, based on observation.
    26. Scientific Theory - summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it.
    27. Scientific Law - A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them.
    28. Supernatural - anything involving sentient beings and powers beyond nature, or anything purely mental or derivative from the purely mental
    29. Theism - belief in, or assertion of the existence of God or gods.
    30. Theological Non-Cognitivism - the belief that the word 'God' and other theological terms do not express coherent, understandable meanings. (Ignostic)
    31. Truth - correspondence or conformity to reality.
    32. Universe - the whole of contiguous physical reality or the entire connected space time region.

    Corrections, amendments and additions welcomed.
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  2. #2
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    One correction:

    God: Believed by some to be the personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it.

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    One correction:

    God: Believed by some to be the personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it.
    No, we are talking about the definition of the term, not whether the term applies to an actualized entity. Thus the believed by is irrelevant. The fact that some believe in His existence is not a property of God, it is the property of an argument.

    ---------- Post added at 05:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:39 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    2. Atheism - without belief in god(s) OR the assertion god(s) do not exist.
    I would stick with the latter half of this definition to create a distinction between this and agnosticism, as well as to more accurately fit the historical and contemporary usage of the term.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    3. Christian - any person seeking to live according to the example set by Jesus in his life and in conformity to the teachings of Jesus either as a contemporary of him, or the Apostles or Apostolic teachings or as revealed in the Gospels and the NT that, in their context have application to all humans.
    This seems a bit lacking, imo. This definition would allow someone who thinks Jesus to be a good moral teacher, but not divine to be a Christian, which seems a bit off the mark. I would point back to C.S. Lewis' discussion of the term in Mere Christianity: http://glenn.typepad.com/news/2003/0...is_on_the.html


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    17. Miracle - a temporary exception to the laws of nature to show that God is working.
    Would a miracle necessarily need to be an exception to the laws of nature? Wouldn't the congruence of an unlikely set of natural events to attain a fortuitous outcome fit into a miracle as well? The exception part of this definition seems to include an unwarranted requirement. To my knowledge there isn't a requirement in theological schools that a miracle necessarily occur as a violation of natural law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    19. Nothing - the complete absence of any something or complete non-existence (in science more and more becoming used for empty space).
    This would need to be hashed out as well, since empty space isn't really "nothing."
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  5. #4
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    No, we are talking about the definition of the term, not whether the term applies to an actualized entity. Thus the believed by is irrelevant. The fact that some believe in His existence is not a property of God, it is the property of an argument.
    Of course having believers is a direct property of God - he is the one that is believed to have made the people that believe in him and worship him.

    In fact this definition is also wrong because it fails to take into account other deities, some who didn't create the universe at all.

    I forward a more accurate definition:

    God: The deity that is the focus of worship of a particular religion. Also believed to have created the universe.

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    Of course having believers is a direct property of God - he is the one that is believed to have made the people that believe in him and worship him.
    But their belief is irrelevant to the concept being forwarded.

    Definitions are a set of characteristics that set an idea apart from other ideas and give them some kind of identifiable criteria.

    None of the characteristics that set God apart from anything else are related to peoples' belief or unbelief in God.

    Their belief only relates to their relationship to the item defined. IE do they think God exists or not. It doesn't change the underlying object.

    Let's take Phlogiston (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/...974/phlogiston). Phlogiston is defined as the combustible part of any object. For a long time people believed it existed. We now don't believe it exists. Nothing about our belief changes that definition. The definition is related to the object itself, not to people's perception of it.

    The same is true for God. None of the characteristics of God change in relation to people's belief in His existence.




    Quote Originally Posted by JJ
    God: The deity that is the focus of worship of a particular religion. Also believed to have created the universe.
    This is a passive definition as opposed to Scott's more active definition. It also suffers from being less clear. You are now invoking multiple possible elements from the sub-group of deities, rather than the higher level, more defined term God. It would be like defining the term car by referencing the list of manufacturers rather than the categorical definition they all fit into.
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  7. #6
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    But their belief is irrelevant to the concept being forwarded.

    Definitions are a set of characteristics that set an idea apart from other ideas and give them some kind of identifiable criteria.

    None of the characteristics that set God apart from anything else are related to peoples' belief or unbelief in God.
    By definition though a God has to have a religion and therefore believers associated with them. Otherwise, they would be merely some other supernatural character.

    Their belief only relates to their relationship to the item defined. IE do they think God exists or not. It doesn't change the underlying object.
    True, normally for ideas such as Communism, you don't really need that qualifier. But for God, the situation is different because God created the believers that believe in that definition.

    It is insufficient to say merely God created the universe. What if we find some alien created the universe? That alien wouldn't be called God then would it? So "God" isn't any entity that created the universe - it is a very specific one.

    Let's take Phlogiston (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/...974/phlogiston). Phlogiston is defined as the combustible part of any object. For a long time people believed it existed. We now don't believe it exists. Nothing about our belief changes that definition. The definition is related to the object itself, not to people's perception of it.

    The same is true for God. None of the characteristics of God change in relation to people's belief in His existence.
    Firstly, it is a different situation because the defining characteristic of God is that there people that he made - those are the believers that believe He made them.

    This is a passive definition as opposed to Scott's more active definition. It also suffers from being less clear. You are now invoking multiple possible elements from the sub-group of deities, rather than the higher level, more defined term God. It would be like defining the term car by referencing the list of manufacturers rather than the categorical definition they all fit into.
    Ah. But then we are taking about a very specific deity, a specific person that some people claim to exist. It's not any old God who calls himself God; it is the Judeo-Islamic-Christian deity. In which case, the definition needs to reflect that.

    The definition should be:


    God: The Judeo-Islamic-Christian deity that created the universe.

  8. #7
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Not sure on 18. Humans are sentient and I would call them natural.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    Basic Definitions of Key Terms in The Great Debate

    1. Agnosticism - without knowledge or neutral about the truth of a matter, especially in relation to the question of the existence of God.
    This reads more like what it means to be agnostic. But the word you're proposing here ends with "ism", which usually refers to the practice or process of doing something. For example, occultism is not the same thing as an occultist.

    So with that in mind, I would suggest that "Agnosticism" is the view that the truth value of certain types of claims are unknown and/or unknowable, particularly metaphysical and/or religious claims regarding deities, the supernatural, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    2. Atheism - without belief in god(s) OR the assertion god(s) do not exist.
    As above, this is more a definition of atheist rather than atheism.

    "Atheism" is the view that the truth value of certain types of claims are false, particularly metaphysical and/or religious claims regarding deities, the supernatural, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    9. Fact - a proposition confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent to its truth. (talkorigins.com)
    Good definition, but as a matter of integrity it's probably worth pointing out that talkorigins.com got their working definition from Stephen J. Gould:

    Confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    11. God - (minimal definition) The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it.
    I think this cannot be a minimal definition because it sort of declares that this thing is in fact 'the sentient creator', and it injects the idea of God being personal (deists, for example, don't believe in a personal God, but they do believe in a god), etc.

    Consider that if we were looking for a working definition of "the force", we wouldn't accept "a binding ubiquitous power in the universe; "the all-pervading vital energy of the universe". Obviously there would need to be some language relating to the fact that the force is a part of Star Wars lore and so on. So I think there needs to be some qualifiers here.

    God: In deism and theism, the sufficient cause of all of existence

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    14. Material - composed of particles.
    Composed of matter

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    15. Metaphysical – beyond the physical.
    I have no idea what this means. What does it mean to be "beyond" matter? What does it mean for a thing to BE if it is "beyond matter"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    17. Miracle - a temporary exception to the laws of nature to show that God is working.
    What does this mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    18. Natural - of a non-sentient universe, with all its properties and behavioral principles.
    1) I'm not sure what the sentience or non-sentience of the universe has to do with this definition and 2) what does it mean for a natural thing to have "all its properties and behavioral principles"? For example, a rock is a natural object, but it doesn't have the properties of a plasma.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    19. Nothing - the complete absence of any something or complete non-existence (in science more and more becoming used for empty space).
    This isn't accurate, especially as it relates to science. Empty space is still space; empty space is still something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    24. Physical - non-abstract things that can, at least in principle, be mathematically described (?)
    I'm not sure what mathematical descriptions have to do with whether or not a thing is physical. I would think that a physical thing would have to be something that can be detected, or something that is detectable, in nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotsmanmatt View Post
    28. Supernatural - anything involving sentient beings and powers beyond nature, or anything purely mental or derivative from the purely mental
    1) I don't know how you could ever connect a thing or an event to a being or power that is "beyond nature", and 2) if we accept the second part, that would mean that String Theory is "supernatural".

  10. #9
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Is this thread's main purpose about a discussion regarding definition of terms, or is there a premise being forwarded here?
    Last edited by eye4magic; May 18th, 2015 at 08:00 PM.
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Not sure on 18. Humans are sentient and I would call them natural.
    I think he means "arising from a non-sentient universe" when he says "of a..." Hence humans could be natural if they arise from the properties of a non-sentient universe."
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    By definition though a God has to have a religion and therefore believers associated with them. Otherwise, they would be merely some other supernatural character.
    I'm not sure why this would need to be true. If there is a God, His characteristics would be independent of the existence of a religion worshiping him. This would be necessarily true in order to avoid some circular logic. God creates universe -> universe spawns man -> Man creates religion -> religion necessary for God.

    Clearly that logical dependency chain doesn't work out.

    Think about it this way. We don't really have a good understanding of what gravity actually is. Objectively, we do know that it is something, we're just not quite sure what. There have been numerous different theories of what it is over time, with adherents and supporters of those theories.

    But the change in those theories, and for that matter, their non-existence before human beings, doesn't mean that gravity changed its definition. Nor does gravity require those theories to exist in order to be a coherent concept.



    Quote Originally Posted by JJ
    But for God, the situation is different because God created the believers that believe in that definition.
    The same would be true of natural selection right? Or any physical principle? Clearly neither of those require that believers exist, or exist as part of their definition. So why would the creation of believers materially change the definition of an object?


    Quote Originally Posted by JJ
    It is insufficient to say merely God created the universe. What if we find some alien created the universe? That alien wouldn't be called God then would it? So "God" isn't any entity that created the universe - it is a very specific one.
    This is a shade of the flying spaghetti monster fallacy. What are the properties of this "alien?" I bet if we fully define out that creator alien, the properties will be identical to God. Hence you are simply redefining a commonly accepted term, a form of sophistry.

    Nor does this point really get you anywhere. What if this alien has worshipers? Now he fits your definition of God as well. That is why the presence of believers is independent of the underlying conceptual definition.

    It also makes the definition a form of appeal to popularity fallacy. An object does not cease being an object simply because we all vote that it isn't an object. Definitions are meant to apply objectively for a discussion, not be at the beck and call of fashion.


    Quote Originally Posted by JJ
    Firstly, it is a different situation because the defining characteristic of God is that there people that he made - those are the believers that believe He made them.
    Begging the question fallacy. You are saying we have to have believers in the definition because the definition says he has believers.

    If we look at the professional philosophic discussions of this topic we'll also find no hint of what you are talking about (except perhaps as an indirect reference by rejecting it via God's necessary existence, he can't be a necessary entity if he needs people). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/god-necessary-being/


    Rather, the definition of God revolves around the maximal possible entity or maximal conceivable entity. IE that he displays the maximal traits for his characteristics.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/concepts-god/


    I just don't see either a reason that we would need to appeal to believers in order to define God and a whole host of circular reference problems if we do.


    Quote Originally Posted by JJ
    Ah. But then we are taking about a very specific deity,
    I think that that is an assumption on your part. Remember that Scott called this the minimal definition, meaning it is the definition that covers the most territory. Given the structure of the definition and his other definitions he definitely appears to be defining a Theist God, rather than any specific religion.

    Your point is more an objection to a possible conclusion.

    If Scott were to use this definition as part of some argument, and his conclusion was "Thus Yahweh exists" you would have a logical objection that the argument does not follow, because this term isn't defining Yahweh specifically.
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    I'm not sure why this would need to be true. If there is a God, His characteristics would be independent of the existence of a religion worshiping him. This would be necessarily true in order to avoid some circular logic. God creates universe -> universe spawns man -> Man creates religion -> religion necessary for God.

    Clearly that logical dependency chain doesn't work out.

    Think about it this way. We don't really have a good understanding of what gravity actually is. Objectively, we do know that it is something, we're just not quite sure what. There have been numerous different theories of what it is over time, with adherents and supporters of those theories.

    But the change in those theories, and for that matter, their non-existence before human beings, doesn't mean that gravity changed its definition. Nor does gravity require those theories to exist in order to be a coherent concept.
    But Gravity is a human theory to describe a cause and effect that can be verified. God, as defined in the OP, asserts a truth that cannot be verified.

    My point about requiring a believer is that the existence of gravity is not under dispute whereas God is.

    The same would be true of natural selection right? Or any physical principle? Clearly neither of those require that believers exist, or exist as part of their definition. So why would the creation of believers materially change the definition of an object?
    Because without reference to some set of believers. Eg further down where we specify the religion, it is unclear what we are talking about.

    This is a shade of the flying spaghetti monster fallacy. What are the properties of this "alien?" I bet if we fully define out that creator alien, the properties will be identical to God. Hence you are simply redefining a commonly accepted term, a form of sophistry.
    By alien I mean a material entity vs a "supernatural" (whatever that means) entity. Also, this entity isn't necessarily one that has weird rules about genitalia. Or one that demands worship.


    Nor does this point really get you anywhere. What if this alien has worshipers? Now he fits your definition of God as well. That is why the presence of believers is independent of the underlying conceptual definition.
    See above - no worshipers or people of faith would be needed for my intelligent creator, if such a being existed.

    It also makes the definition a form of appeal to popularity fallacy. An object does not cease being an object simply because we all vote that it isn't an object. Definitions are meant to apply objectively for a discussion, not be at the beck and call of fashion.
    Except that deities fall exactly into such a class of object. Who believes that Thor really existed any more - the same with most ancient Gods. So God is very much dependent upon a specific belief system; especially since Jesus, also supposedly God, is under dispute by all religions.

    Begging the question fallacy. You are saying we have to have believers in the definition because the definition says he has believers.
    The definition of God includes the people created - those people have to worship and believe in him. Other people will feel different so for them, God actually having created the universe is insufficient. It is more accurate to say that "it is believed" to be so rather than state it as a fact.

    [Quote]

    If we look at the professional philosophic discussions of this topic we'll also find no hint of what you are talking about (except perhaps as an indirect reference by rejecting it via God's necessary existence, he can't be a necessary entity if he needs people). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/god-necessary-being/
    [Quote]
    That's an appeal to authority and a little irrelevant - besides, what is Plato's definition of God?


    Rather, the definition of God revolves around the maximal possible entity or maximal conceivable entity. IE that he displays the maximal traits for his characteristics.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/concepts-god/
    Again, you have to be specific? Which God? Which religious tradition?



    I just don't see either a reason that we would need to appeal to believers in order to define God and a whole host of circular reference problems if we do.
    Because without reference to the universe of discourse, the bare term God is meaningless.

    I think that that is an assumption on your part. Remember that Scott called this the minimal definition, meaning it is the definition that covers the most territory. Given the structure of the definition and his other definitions he definitely appears to be defining a Theist God, rather than any specific religion.
    OK. Good we've narrowed the set of believers to be Theists. This is exactly what I'm talking about.


    Your point is more an objection to a possible conclusion.

    If Scott were to use this definition as part of some argument, and his conclusion was "Thus Yahweh exists" you would have a logical objection that the argument does not follow, because this term isn't defining Yahweh specifically.
    My point is that the bare term God is too meaningless and broad to really mean anything.

    Perhaps the universe of discourse is implied by the OP regarding the Great Debate. If so, that we are talking about the Christian universe of discourse, then my objection is moot.

    But it does seem to be broader than that so the definition of God needs to be correspondingly specific and talk about which religions he's really covering with the term. Or more importantly, those with no religions, should be included somewhere. The fact that he's using God and not deity seems to point to a specific deity though so the definition should reflect that.

    I think:

    God: the deity that JCM's believe created the universe

    Might be the best definition and what Scott is really alluding to.

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    I just don't see either a reason that we would need to appeal to believers in order to define God and a whole host of circular reference problems if we do.
    My understanding is that we're trying to provide terms and definition for "The Great Debate", and since this is in the 'Religion' forum, I assume we're talking about debates concerning God, up to and including whether or not God exists.

    I would submit that the proposed definition i.e. "The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it" might be partly correct, but it is imprecise because it lacks context (and it imports the idea of God being "personal" which is not held by all believers) and is thus wholly inadequate for the purpose of debate.

    Consider:

    If we forward that "The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it" is what God is by definition, it sort of puts an end to debates relating to certain questions. For example, suppose the debate question is "What is the cause of all of existence?" If we accept that the proposed definition is correct, someone can just say "God" and refer to the definition to settle the debate. Suppose that we said the definition of "Master Yoda" is "The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it". In that context, of course saying "Master Yoda" would answer the question and provide no room for debate.

    So I think such a definition absolutely must refer to believers, at least broadly, in order provide enough context in order to facilitate debate. Otherwise the definition is making a statement of fact as it is a settled matter, which it isn't.

    That is why I proposed:

    God: In deism and theism, the sufficient cause of all of existence

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    My understanding is that we're trying to provide terms and definition for "The Great Debate"
    What is the premise of "The Great Debate"?
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    My understanding is that we're trying to provide terms and definition for "The Great Debate", and since this is in the 'Religion' forum, I assume we're talking about debates concerning God, up to and including whether or not God exists.

    I would submit that the proposed definition i.e. "The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it" might be partly correct, but it is imprecise because it lacks context (and it imports the idea of God being "personal" which is not held by all believers) and is thus wholly inadequate for the purpose of debate.

    Consider:

    If we forward that "The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it" is what God is by definition, it sort of puts an end to debates relating to certain questions. For example, suppose the debate question is "What is the cause of all of existence?" If we accept that the proposed definition is correct, someone can just say "God" and refer to the definition to settle the debate. Suppose that we said the definition of "Master Yoda" is "The personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it". In that context, of course saying "Master Yoda" would answer the question and provide no room for debate.

    So I think such a definition absolutely must refer to believers, at least broadly, in order provide enough context in order to facilitate debate. Otherwise the definition is making a statement of fact as it is a settled matter, which it isn't.

    That is why I proposed:

    God: In deism and theism, the sufficient cause of all of existence
    But the concept itself is a settled matter. Whether or not it is a true proposition is what we debate, however in the typical universe of discourse we understand that that is the concept being referred to.

    Master Yoda is a great example, by the way. We can both agree that there is no such thing as a Jedi named Yoda who lived on the planet Dagobah, yet that has zero to do with us defining him the same. In fact we can agree on a whole host of things about him without saying he is real or not, like how he trained Luke Skywalker, was a friend of Chewbacca's uncle, how he was one of the first to suspect Senator Palpatine's true nature, or how he was a critic of the Outbound Flight Project. That is all stuff that is either in the movies or the Expanded Universe literature, so we have ample room to agree on quite a number of things about Yoda without the slightest shred of belief in him.
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    But their belief is irrelevant to the concept being forwarded.

    Definitions are a set of characteristics that set an idea apart from other ideas and give them some kind of identifiable criteria.

    None of the characteristics that set God apart from anything else are related to peoples' belief or unbelief in God.

    Their belief only relates to their relationship to the item defined. IE do they think God exists or not. It doesn't change the underlying object.

    Let's take Phlogiston (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/...974/phlogiston). Phlogiston is defined as the combustible part of any object. For a long time people believed it existed. We now don't believe it exists. Nothing about our belief changes that definition. The definition is related to the object itself, not to people's perception of it.

    The same is true for God. None of the characteristics of God change in relation to people's belief in His existence.






    This is a passive definition as opposed to Scott's more active definition. It also suffers from being less clear. You are now invoking multiple possible elements from the sub-group of deities, rather than the higher level, more defined term God. It would be like defining the term car by referencing the list of manufacturers rather than the categorical definition they all fit into.
    To further this point if I may: Car: a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.

    Whether one owns a car, has ever seen a car, or even believes a car actually exists is not relevant in defining the properties of a car. We can make the same argument regarding God/god. I would have separate definitions for God and god. Upper-case God is a reference to a specific god belong to one of the monotheistic religions. Lower-case god is the generic reference of a personal or sentient creator of the universe and life within it. God is a god. One may choose to believe in god but not God. I think you get the point.
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    But the concept itself is a settled matter. Whether or not it is a true proposition is what we debate, however in the typical universe of discourse we understand that that is the concept being referred to.

    Master Yoda is a great example, by the way. We can both agree that there is no such thing as a Jedi named Yoda who lived on the planet Dagobah, yet that has zero to do with us defining him the same. In fact we can agree on a whole host of things about him without saying he is real or not, like how he trained Luke Skywalker, was a friend of Chewbacca's uncle, how he was one of the first to suspect Senator Palpatine's true nature, or how he was a critic of the Outbound Flight Project. That is all stuff that is either in the movies or the Expanded Universe literature, so we have ample room to agree on quite a number of things about Yoda without the slightest shred of belief in him.
    Right, so is the question of God in a similar universe of discourse - of human created supernatural characters?

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    But the concept itself is a settled matter.
    No, it isn't. As I already pointed out, the problem with the proposed definition is that it posits that God is "personal". There is a constituency of people who believe in God (deists) who do not believe that God is a personal god. However, theists and deists do tend to have the shared believe that God, personal or no, is the sufficient cause of the universe.

    ---------- Post added at 04:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:06 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    What is the premise of "The Great Debate"?
    Well, I already said what I assume to be the case. It's the rest of the statement you quoted:

    "I assume we're talking about debates concerning God, up to and including whether or not God exists."

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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    No, it isn't. As I already pointed out, the problem with the proposed definition is that it posits that God is "personal". There is a constituency of people who believe in God (deists) who do not believe that God is a personal god. However, theists and deists do tend to have the shared believe that God, personal or no, is the sufficient cause of the universe.
    I wasn't terribly clear about what exact concept I said was "a settled matter", was I? What I meant was that we can have a concept of God without predicating it on there being believers, not that a personal God is the settled definition. I would rather we subscribe to the more amenable definition that "God is an intelligent agent that created the cosmos".

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones
    Right, so is the question of God in a similar universe of discourse - of human created supernatural characters?
    Every concept, natural or supernatural, is human created; however, I prefer the terms physical and metaphysical because supernatural doesn't necessarily describe metaphysical ideas at all, this is a false dilemma and paradigm forwarded by naturalists that other empiricists are not instantly required to accept. It is we humans, so far as we know, who are doing the thinking after all. For us to predicate every concept of ours on ourselves would be nonsensical. Abstract ideas, in principle, have their own independent existence.

    Now of course one can forward an argument that God is a concept because of humans. But each universe of discourse is predicated on definitions and axiomatic propositions, not arguments. Definitions are not arguments. One is not required to believe in Yoda or even entertain the idea that a single person believes in Yoda to have a discussion about Yoda. So if someone did believe in Yoda would the rest of us have to predicate Yoda on that belief? That's a no.

    Being real or not isn't even part of the definition of Yoda so some person's belief about that does not affect the concept itself. When God is defined we don't use statements like "a real intelligent agent", or "an imaginary intelligent agent", because it is not necessary to make a statement about beliefs or the nature of reality in order to evaluate the characteristics of a concept. The concept, such as God, is real enough inasmuch as it is something that we think about. I don't believe in Yoda, yet I can agree with someone who believes in Yoda that he lived the remainder of his life on the planet Dagobah. This is a characteristic of Yoda that we can establish without any discussion of his reality.
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    Re: List of Suggested Key Terms on the Great Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I wasn't terribly clear about what exact concept I said was "a settled matter", was I? What I meant was that we can have a concept of God without predicating it on there being believers, not that a personal God is the settled definition. I would rather we subscribe to the more amenable definition that "God is an intelligent agent that created the cosmos".
    Well, I don't view it as predicating it on believers. I see it as providing appropriate context. "Theism" and "deism" are religiously neutral terms, and saying that "In theism and deism, 'God' is the sufficient cause that created all of existence" provides a clear context without invoking any particular religion, where simply saying "God is an intelligent agent that created the cosmos" fails to provide such context. The statement is effectively no different than saying "Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer in New York who fights crime in a red devil costume at night". Yes, the definition is correct, but it's imprecise. That's why it would be useful to say "In comic books, Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer in New York who fights crime in a red devil costume at night".

 

 
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