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Old 1st-December-2016, 05:32 PM   #1
GodOfOrder
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Default Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

Now, I do not believe in any gods whatsoever, but for the purposes of this thread, let's assume God exists--discussions of God's existence are not germane to the topic.

Also, as the question is really about existentialism, I have placed this in the philosophy rather than faith section.

Kierkegaard once published a series of essays under three different pseudonyms. Each one of his characters displayed his own way of dealing with angst and the apparent meaninglessness of life. The first was a hedonist, and sought pacification through pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The second was a judge, who argued that the hedonist could not find any happiness because pleasure is fleeting, and the hedonistic life lacks any genuine connection or permanency; instead, the judge advocated the ethical life, starting a family, etc. The third and final character was a religious man. He contemplated and retold the story Abraham multiple times, from multiple angles. Finally, he concluded, that the antidote to despair was a surrender to God and his will--though ultimately, this also meant the surrender of ethics, as Abraham had to obey an order to kill his son, not knowing that God would stop him. Only God could provide the purpose and stability that mortal life lacked. This, is the answer to the existential problems of existence.

But, as with the infinite regress that occurs when we ask "who made god?" a similar issue seems to occur when we ask why God would not face despair or the problem of freedom.

If there were a supreme being, it would, by definition, be the only one of its kind--no two being could logically be all powerful or supreme if another existed.

Assuming that an immortal God would not be bound by determinism, that morality, physics, et al. were his to manipulate, would he too suffer from angst?

In this case, man would have two distinct advantages that God lacked: (1) Man was created, and (2) men can die.

God has neither luxury.

God, by definition, has always existed, and has no creator--no reason to exist. If God defines "purpose" and "meaning" then he must himself lack purpose and meaning. Like us, his essence would precede his being. God, then would either have to embrace existentialism or nihilism--to reconcile his existence with absurdity, chaos, and meaninglessness.

Further, God cannot die. The quiet stillness that is there before birth, and returns with death, can never be enjoyed by God. If he suffers angst, he is doomed to suffer it for all eternity.

If God did exist, would you pity him? Must we imagine him miserable?

Finally, if God himself suffered from angst, could our own angst really be relieved by submission to God?
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Old 1st-December-2016, 07:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

It is indeed a paradox. I guess I chose the existentialism side. I reconcile my existence not by submission to God, but to my own mortality. My signature shows this - it's based on Einstein's last words (according to something I read), "it's OK. I did what I came here to do." So came to the conclusion that we should each figure out what we came to this Earth with our unique abilities and position to do, and do it. If I manage it, I will go happily when things are complete. It may not happen, but it's something to strive for and gives life purpose.
What about a god? I have no answer to how an eternal being would react to this. Except to say that if such a being existed, there's no evidence that it has ever broken it's own laws of physics substantially. And if there is one certainty, it is that everything has an end. By those laws, all matter in the universe will eventually no longer exist whatever else happens as protons have an exceedingly long half life, but decay eventually. So one day, he will have to live in a completely empty universe. Perhaps even this being has an inevitable end that is beyond our understanding of time and simply had a job to complete itself.

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Old 2nd-December-2016, 07:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

No, because he always has things to do, and would probably tell you that's a very silly thing to think about.

Existential dread, nihilism, though an abstractly feasible position, has no correspondence in reality, seeing as we're creatures always in motion, always in action.

God is only known through his relation to his creation, not by relation unto himself. That aspect of God probably doesn't exist, or if it does, is probably a type of sin rather than God. In other words, if the relation doesn't exist, God does not exist to you, thus whether he feels a certain way or the other would be non-applicable.

The gospels do have written records of Jesus feeling angst however, before he took up the cross.

This question is basically the inside out of the paradox of 'does God have faith?'; to which the answer is also the same.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 03:10 AM   #4
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

I think that if God does exist, he doesn't suffer from emotions or existential dread the same way humans do. So no, I don't think God experiences existential dread any more than animals do. It just isn't in the scope of their reality.

Of course, the opposite argument is also feasible - that God created the universe because he thought that without creation and living beings to observe it, his existence was meaningless.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 03:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

Existentialism is in a way a petty attempt to rationalize our own mortality. Since God is in no way mortal, I don't think it likely that he deals with a mortal's problem. For all that goes with that, God is prolly devoid of even needing to theorize anything. To God, it just is. It "just is" to God in such an extreme that he knows everything, in fact, if God is real and he created everything, then the very meaning of that being is in fact purpose, which is the opposite of what you are suggesting.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 05:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuickTwist View Post
Existentialism is in a way a petty attempt to rationalize our own mortality. Since God is in no way mortal, I don't think it likely that he deals with a mortal's problem. For all that goes with that, God is prolly devoid of even needing to theorize anything. To God, it just is. It "just is" to God in such an extreme that he knows everything, in fact, if God is real and he created everything, then the very meaning of that being is in fact purpose, which is the opposite of what you are suggesting.
I agree with the first bit of what you said. But i would go further and say that the idea of "God" is the same; a petty attempt to rationalize our own mortality, and hence a projection of all our vanities and insecurities (that is why i made the argument).

But it seems like "just is" is the definition of purposelessness--no reason for anything.

Yet you might be right--perhaps he wouldn't have the capacity to care.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 07:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

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Originally Posted by GodOfOrder View Post
I agree with the first bit of what you said. But i would go further and say that the idea of "God" is the same; a petty attempt to rationalize our own mortality, and hence a projection of all our vanities and insecurities (that is why i made the argument).

But it seems like "just is" is the definition of purposelessness--no reason for anything.

Yet you might be right--perhaps he wouldn't have the capacity to care.
I agree with you that in many ways the idea of God is just another attempt to bring order and purpose to our mortality where there is likely none. Both Existentialism and the idea that there is a God ruling everything are mostly vain attempts to rationalize our lives in one ideology or another. This isn't to say that there is no merit in pursuing the knowledge that these ideas provide though.

I think you are wearing pessimistic tinted glasses, my friend. The idea that just because something "just is" does not mean that that is inherently a cause for no reason for anything. My point was that if God functions in any way shape or form similarly to us, then the idea that things "just are" allows for a great deal of acceptance for those things that "just are". IMO, acceptance is more often a liberating and freeing experience more so than something to be depressed about. Ofc it depends on what it is that is being accepted, but by and large acceptance is a means for peace and not turmoil. One only has to look at someone who is facing a death sentence to see that for the most part, when someone accepts something, there is little internal conflict to be had in the form of an outward manifestation of violence to some degree.

I also don't think the idea of knowing something "just is" is cause for complacency, at least, not necessarily. One can just as easily be overjoyed to know they are having a baby as much as they could feel dread about it.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 08:08 AM   #8
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

For arguments sake (or lack thereof) I am basing my assumptions on the God of the New Testament as opposed to the Old Testament, because there is pretty much nothing redeeming about the God of the Old Testament.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 10:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

The question falls into a sort of antinomic category (as usual with the concept of a god) when you account for the fact that if this god created the universe, he created space-time, i.e. he created the time dimension. The question then is: how can someone go through various states and make decisions when the concept of chain-of-events is not even possible for him?

Random additional thought: if chain-of-events were indeed a part of his reality, the events are either bound by specific rules (like physics), or they are without rules. In the first case, this god is not omnipotent – in fact he doesn't even have free will. In the latter case, anything can happen at any point, everything is just chaos, and this god cannot have any sort of consistent behavior.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 10:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

Because he's God, duh.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 11:13 AM   #11
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

Why do we feel anything?
What distinguishes a person from an inanimate object?
Corpses are human, yet inanimate and thus they feel nothing.

In my opinion people are self-sustaining metabolically powered self-replicating biological machines and our instinctual "software" (the result of millions if not billions of years of selective pressure) is in line with that; we experience these instincts as emotions.

A happy human being doesn't ponder their existence, they're too busy gratifying their instincts, following the program so to speak, but of course that's not always possible and when a person is unhappy but there's nothing they can (or wish to) immediately do the mind wanders.

Existentialism is like being lucid in a dream you have no power over, you know you're in a dream but because it's not your dream there's nothing you can do about it. This would not be true for a god, an entity who by its nature is able to reshape reality at its will wouldn't feel trapped in another person's dream but rather trapped in its own and unable to wake up.

Anyone that's done modding knows that absolute godly power gets boring really fast and it's not that being wildly OP isn't gratifying, it's very gratifying, but the easy victories feel cheap and meaningless.

However this god needs to "wake up" before it will experience any existential dread, if it has instincts (why would a god have instincts?) it could spend an eternity being simply happy and never question the meaning of its existence.
Blissfully ignorant.

Or it has no instincts in which case I doubt it would have a psyche any more nuanced than that of a calculator.
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 12:31 PM   #12
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

It doesn't really explain consciousness though, does it Cognisant? If I am merely a biological robot, as evidenced suggest, why do I have self awareness? For that matter, why this perspective of this body? Why not yours? Why not that girl over there? Why not that cat or even that spider in the corner? For that matter, why now? Why in 800 million years of complex life am I alive now?

Which of course, your correct that surely no all creating all powerful good could feel because purpose is clear. But would that not make anyone feel trapped for all eternity? Is it any better than Atlas doomed to hold up the sky for all eternity?

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Old 3rd-December-2016, 12:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

Quote:
If I am merely a biological robot, as evidenced suggest, why do I have self awareness?
My theory is that it's a sort of error correction mechanism, if we acted purely by instinct and emotion we would be impulsive and unable to think/act in abstract ways. For example seeking employment to do a job, receive payment for that work and then exchange that payment for goods and services is a very abstract process, you need to be consciously aware of what you're doing and why.

That awareness isn't so immediate as seeing something in front of you or feeling hungry, it necessitates a sort of mental backseat driver, like a fighter jet's copilot. While the subconscious mind deals with actually doing things the conscious mind thinks abstractly about what its doing, why its doing it and how the things it does will result in a beneficial outcome.

If you're hungry and serving food in a restaurant you don't snatch food off people's plates as you walk by because you consciously understand the context of your situation, you know in a short while you can go take a break and eat something without endangering yourself, your job or you other long term goals that depend upon saving money.

There's nothing magical about being able to think rationally.

Quote:
For that matter, why this perspective of this body? Why not yours? Why not that girl over there? Why not that cat or even that spider in the corner? For that matter, why now? Why in 800 million years of complex life am I alive now?
“This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt


To answer your question, why not?
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Old 3rd-December-2016, 01:29 PM   #14
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Default Re: Would God Suffer from Existential Dread?

I think the line between what is conscious and what is instinct is not so well defined.
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