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Old 04-25-2008, 01:00 AM   #401
Achilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Also, before we continue the discussion, may we acknoledge one fact, you are my friend, more intelligent, wiser and better read than me (perhaps one of the reasons I so enjoy our discussions).
I appreciate the kind words. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
However currently I still have my world view, as such I will argue for it, while being a little out of my depth.
Feel free to question your world view at any time

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Very well, perhaps at this point it may proove helpful for me to give a brief overview of why I am a Christian.

1. My conclusion still and based on a variety of different reading (Christian, athiest, agnostic) is that from the evidence, I think Jesus rose from the dead; which begs rather large questions about him. (If you wish for a Bibliography I'm sure I can whip one up, suffice to say, that while you may be disapointed with my conclusion, I think you would be happy with the variety of my reading.
What evidence? There isn't any.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
2. The Big Bang; it at least seems to my layman understand and reading of the subject; that the Big Bang if true, presents a few problems, e.g. what caused it. As ever if you wish me to review anything I am always happy to do so. Much as your going to dislike this quote;
The big bang theory presents lots of problems to lots of people much more educated than you and I. However, this is a completely separate issue. You seem to be arguing for a false dichotomy: "if it's not A then it must be B, and if B doesn't make sense then it must be A". The reality is that A and B should be considered quite independently from one another, because the actual answer might be C, D, Q, the number 7, or the color orange.

Even if we had all the answers to the big bang, it wouldn't say anything about the existence (or non-existence) of god. So trying to shove the two ideas into the same boxing ring isn't going to accomplish a whole lot.

Saying that the unanswered question presented by modern cosmology is a good reason for being christian is like saying the cracks in the sidewalk are a good reason for being a shut-in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7's souce
Peter Vardy makes the following observation in his book ‘The Thinkers Guide to Evil’; “The Sheer improbability of the precise conditions necessary for stars and planets to form – let alone life – is so unlikely that it is much more plausible that an intelligence was responsible for the universe than it was simply a matter of chance”.
Sir, you and I have been over this before. This argument is blatant, unadulterated speculation. It's a guess, and it's not even a good one.

Change a few words around in Mr. Vardy's argument and suddenly we have the exact same argument that we have for intelligent design. "X must have been designed by Y, because X just looks like something Y would design to me".

No evidence. No proof. No logic. Just conjecture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
3. Personal expierance; from healings, to seeing the strangest down and outs, convert and turn their lives around.
So people made the decision to turn their lives around and then magically they turned their lives around.

I know some people are probably tired of me using this analogy, but this isn't even slightly different than Dumbo suddenly being able to fly after being gifted with a "magic" feather. Why did the "magic" feather suddenly allow Dumbo to be able to fly? Because he believed it could. Why does accepting jesus have such a profound impact on people's lives? Because they believe it will. No magic required.

And do you know what I find sad? These people, for the rest of their lives, will be unable to see just how truly magnificent they are and instead will praise their imaginary friends for the remarkable work that they themselves did. That breaks my heart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I'm not sure the burden of proof lies with anyone;
Wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
in truth I'm unsure if the matter will ever truly be settled; as even if Atheism is true,
For the purposes of de facto atheism, there is no "true". There is either evidence for the existence of a deity or there is not. "True" and "false" are inapplicable concepts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
it will only narrow the probability of God, but never be able to disproove his exsistance.
Indeed, however since I have already pointed out that the burden of proof lies with theists, this isn't a goal for atheism, nor it is a concern.

As much as you can narrow the probability of invisible pink unicorns, you will never be able to disprove their existence

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
What exactly have I pretended to know?
You pretend to know that god exists. You pretend to know he is male. You pretend to know that he had a son. You pretend to know that his son's name was jesus. You pretend to know that his son jesus lived here on earth. You pretend to know that his son jesus died for our sins. You pretend to know that you have a personal relationship with him. You pretend to know that you have a personal relationship with his son, jesus. And you pretend to know that pretending to know these things will have some benefit for you after you die (where you go to the afterlife that you pretend to know about).

That's the nuts and bolts, out-of-the-box christianity version. If you'd like for me to do a more thorough analysis of your specific posts and PM's...well too bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I do not have scientific evidence to support such statements; I do always try to do my best to indicate when I'm offering opinion (which is most of the time).
Your earlier argument seemed to be that since all people (including particularly educated people) offer opinions, then opinions should be considered as sufficent evidence for certain arguments. I only sought to point out that this is not true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
See the three overview points above. Though a quick question for you; has my faith ever done you any harm?
Yes, absolutely. No one exists in a vacuum. Our beliefs do have repercussions for others.

If you're asking me to speculate on what direct impact your faith has had on my life in a measurable way, I cannot. Different question though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
It would be extremley strange that these unexplainable phenomenon occured at times of prayer, and at the very least go counter to the usual scientific laws. It would at least to me seem very strange that they occured just after prayer. (While I do conceed prayer studies, (or at least the ones I have seen in the BMJ; show while prayer seems to slightly improve recovery rates, it is inter faith).
Interesting that the prayer studies that I am familiar with have either been inconclusive or have shown decreased recovery rates (I guess patients tend to presume the worst when they hear that people are praying for them).

All that aside though, I don't believe you addressed my point.

If I pray for rain and it rains, what control can I apply to my experiment to rule out the possibility that it randomly started to rain? What efforts have you made to rule out other possible explanations for your percieved "miracle healings" (i.e. can you prove that the bone that was "broken" was not merely dislocated? Can you prove that your "appendicitis" was not genuinely misdiagnosed?). I have no doubt that the experiences that you had are genuine. What I do doubt are your conclusions, because there are other possible explanations that you have made insufficient effort to rule out. And even if you did, all you would have at the end of the day is an "unexplained phenomenon", which is not exactly and air-tight case for the existence of god (even though that is the conclusion that you appear to have jumped to).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I shall examine and think over this and get back to you
Sounds good

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
At least for my part, I do constantly examine and re-evaluate my position. If I am in error, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it being 'intellectual dishonesty' on my part. Personally I always much prefer someone who is well thought out in a contrary position to my own, than someone who agrees blindy and with no real reason to do so.
That doesn't tell me why the analogy is unfair; it only tells me why you don't like it

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
So you think I'm being intellectually dishonest?
Indeed. Allow me to state this here so that there aren't any misconceptions: Anyone that engages in a belief for which there is no evidence is being intellectually dishonest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Depends what you mean by 'evidence'
Evidence is evidence. Something that furnishes proof. If you tell your kids that god exists and you have no proof to support your claim, are you lying to them (hint: whether you believe you are lying to them or not is irrelevant)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I'd assume so, I'm a 2. The point was more, no matter how 'sure' you are you leave a little room for error.
Except, as I pointed out in the section that you quoted when I respond to this, the concept of "error" does not apply to my (non)position. The evidence either exists or it does not. There is no "error" in acknowledging that no evidence exists if there isn't any.

It's like trying to apply "chance" to someone that has the nuts in a poker hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Okies, I have already briefly posted there. Talk to you soon, thanks for reading, and hope it was of interest.
Take care!

Last edited by Achilles; 04-25-2008 at 01:02 AM. Reason: changed analogy to avoid pun
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Old 04-25-2008, 01:48 AM   #402
Arcesious
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Rev7- Problem is that Infinity still is what it is... And I think I may have prsaed that one sentence a bit badly, sorry.

Maybe: "Infinity is Infinity, but it never an truly be, mathetmatically, infinite, because the concept of going on forever never ends, and infiniteness itself would never be 'truly reached'."

Quote:
Humans cannot comprehend the immensity and power of God fully, I believe.
Or can we, theoretically? We may be unable to think of all the infinite possible thinks that God theoretically could, but it looks like those scientists of ours have it down pretty well just how Infinity works on wikipedia...

Quote:
Then why is there an Infinity? NOTE--That was pretty much talking about your entire post. Read the first paragraph of the page.

Also, here is a link.
See, my other poitn now is this: Look at how well Humanity (Well, scientists in particular, as I can't take credit for their genius) understands all these things... It's pretty hard to say that we don't grasp just how powerful God might be. Although Infinite regress, Russel's paradox, and Absolute Infinity and such are things that are a little too complicated for me right now and may provide another point of view, but I'm not sure if they will or not, because they're too confusing... Could someone explain how those those things work in layman's terms?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_paradox
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_Infinite
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_regress

I am seeking to explore these areas because if I am wrong, I want to know, because if so, I will change my argument. (Even if that is a bad debating tactic) But, if not, then it will only be proven further. I simply want to make sure weather or not my argument is on fully solid ground or not.

Also that other link is only saying God is like that, not proving he is.

I also say again, it is equally possible for the universe to have formed in infinite other ways.


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 04-25-2008, 10:04 AM   #403
stoffe
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Mod note:
I prefer to believe that strongly polarizing topics like this can still be discussed without resorting to ad hominem tactics, even indirect ones finely veiled behind big words.

The meaning behind telling someone directly they are an "idiot" or telling them they are "intellectually challenged" is pretty much the same, even if the approach is less direct and blunt. It's a flame bait either way, even if it wasn't intended as such when posted.

Everyone, please try to avoid making negative personal remarks or reflections about people whose opinions you don't agree with while posting here. Making the arguments personal makes these threads less interesting to read and more likely to get out of hand and locked.

Thanks.


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Old 04-25-2008, 10:46 PM   #404
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Achilles, I am still formulating, reviewing and preparing a responce however I shall respond with something that is somewhat applicable and is at least in my opinion a very good read...

The below is not mine, it is however from a most agreeable man...

Extracted from In God We Doubt by John Humphrys published by Hodder & Stoughton its £18.99. It is available for £17.09 including postage from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on 0870 165 8585

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Humphrys
I still recall the exact times and places when the Big Questions declared themselves to my childish consciousness. The first arrived when I was in short trousers and knew even less than I know today.

I had been playing with some friends on a disused aerodrome near my home in Cardiff. We used the abandoned carcasses of old aircraft to attack the squadrons of imaginary German bombers droning above us in the darkening sky. When we had wiped them out, my friends went home for tea. I hung around. It was one of those days when my mother, a hairdresser who worked from home, was giving a perm to a neighbour and I hated the stench of the chemicals.

By now it was dark. The glory of the night sky had yet to be lost to light pollution and on cloudless nights the stars went on for ever. That was what troubled me. How could they go on for ever? And if the universe was everything, what was it all in? And how could it be in anything because that would have to be in something else and . . . and . . . and so on. And what was there before any of it existed? And how did it all come into existence? And finally – the really, really Big Question – why?

The other Big Question came to me at about the same age. I was on a bus returning from our week’s holiday in Aberyst-wyth. I hated buses. I was always sick on them. It was while I was hanging over the platform at the back that I discovered mortality. For the first time in my short life I realised that one day I would die.

Once again the question was: why? What was the point of being born if all there was to look forward to was dying? For the length of that ghastly journey and into the next day, everything seemed completely and utterly pointless. Then the normal service of childhood was resumed and it went away. But it came back. Questions like that always do.

It took me a few more years to grasp that rather a lot of people were worrying about their own versions of the Big Questions and had been for quite a long time.

The 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal described the predicament of those who do not know “. . . why I am set down here rather than elsewhere, nor why the brief period appointed for my life is assigned to me at this moment rather than another in all the eternity that has gone before and will come after me. On all sides I behold nothing but infinity, in which I am a mere atom, a mere passing shadow that returns no more. All I know is that I must die soon, but what I understand least of all is this very death which I cannot escape”.

Pascal did not come to believe in a personal God until his early thirties. I was one of the many whose questions were answered by the church right from the beginning. There was no question of my not going to church. That’s what we did in my family.

At 15 I left school to work on a local newspaper and then, two years later, left home to work for a bigger paper in the Welsh valleys. It was then that I stopped going to church. Saturday night was pub-crawl night, which meant that Sunday morning was spent recovering. But in any case I realised that going to church was a meaningless exercise. I was bored by the ritualised responses, by priests who seemed to have nothing to say, by my own failure to be genuinely moved by any of it.

Yet I continued to pray. I prayed every single night without fail for half a century. The problem was that I had absolutely no notion of the God to whom I was supposed to be praying or, for that matter, why I was praying. Did I really think my prayers would make any difference? I doubt it. So, if I was getting nothing out of it and neither were the people I was praying for, why was I bothering? Mostly, I wanted to believe. I envied friends with an apparently solid faith their certainties and the comfort their faith appeared to bring them.

My years as a reporter and foreign correspondent took their toll. I was not much more than a boy when I watched the miners of Aberfan digging for the bodies of their children after the coal tip crushed their school. A few years later I was watching weeping mothers trying to free the bodies of their children from the ruins of houses wrecked by an earthquake in Nicaragua. In various African countries I have seen children, all hope gone from their blank and staring eyes, slowly starving to death. In divided countries all over the world I have seen the bodies of young men horribly mutilated by other young men for no other reason than that they belonged to the wrong tribe or religion.

In war zones I have listened to soldiers – ordinary people like you and me, with their own children to love and care for – justify the slaughter of other entirely innocent human beings, other children.

And over and over again I was asking myself the other Big Question, one that would not have occurred to the innocent little boy on the aerodrome: where was God?

My spiritual journey – if that’s not too high-falutin’ a notion – took me from my childish Big Questions to my ultimate failure to find any corresponding Big Answers. I have ended up – so far, at any rate – as a doubter. It’s clear that I’m far from alone.

In almost half a century of journalism I have never had such a response to anything I have written or broadcast as I did to last year’s Radio 4 series Humphrys in Search of God. The letters arrived by the sackful. It felt a bit like putting my fingers on the religious pulse of the nation; and the pulse is still strong. However empty the pews may be there are plenty of people with a sincere and passionate belief. There are also plenty of people who think it’s all a load of nonsense.

What surprised me is how many think of themselves as neither believers nor atheists but doubters. They, too, are sincere. Devout sceptics, if you like. And many of them feel beleaguered. I’m with them. SINCE starting to write my book, I have fallen into the habit of asking almost everyone I meet if they believe in God. And here’s the interesting thing: it was only the atheists who seemed absolutely certain.

Of course, this proves nothing: it’s purely anecdotal and statistically worthless. But let me try to sum up the attitude of those militant atheists who seem to hold believers in contempt:

1. Believers are mostly naive or stupid. Or, at least, they’re not as clever as atheists.

2. The few clever ones are pathetic because they need a crutch to get them through life.

3.They are also pathetic because they can’t accept the finality of death.

4.They have been brainwashed into believing. There is no such thing as a “Christian child”, for instance – just a child whose parents have had her baptised.

5.They have been bullied into believing.

6. If we don’t wipe out religious belief by next Thursday week, civilisation as we know it is doomed.

7 Trust me: I’m an atheist. I make no apology if I have oversimplified their views with that little list: it’s what they do to believers all the time.

So let’s answer each of those points:

1. This is so clearly untrue it’s barely worth bothering with. Richard Dawkins, in his bestselling The God Delusion, was reduced to producing a “study” by Mensa that purported to show an inverse relationship between intelligence and belief. He also claimed that only a very few members of the Royal Society believe in a personal god. So what? Some believers are undoubtedly stupid (witness the creationists) but I’ve met one or two atheists I wouldn’t trust to change a lightbulb.

2. Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible. It doesn’t prove anything about either.

3. Maybe, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Count the number of atheists in the foxholes or the cancer wards.

4. True, and many children reject it when they get older. But many others stay with it.

5. This is also true in many cases but you can’t actually bully someone into believing – just into pretending to believe.

6. Of course the mad mullahs are dangerous and extreme Islamism is a threat to be taken seriously. But we’ve survived monotheist religion for 4,000 years or so, and I can think of one or two other things that are a greater threat to civilisation.

7. Why? For those of us who are neither believers nor atheists it can be very difficult. Doubters are left in the deeply unsatisfactory position of finding the existence of God unprovable and implausible, and the comfort of faith unachievable. But at the same time we find the reality of belief undeniable.

It’s bad enough being a failed Christian – sneered at by atheists and believers. It’s even worse being what I suppose you could call someone like me – a failed atheist. Or maybe it’s not. That’s what Giles Fraser has been calling himself for years and he happens to be an Anglican vicar.

Here’s his own description of himself when he was younger: “a bolshy kid who discovered Marx at school and gave myself over to it hook, line and sinker”. During the miners’ strike in the mid1980s he realised what a sham it all was – “a privileged public schoolboy like me playing at politics”, as he told me. His “faith” in Marx-ism collapsed but he remained an atheist.

It was his interest in atheism that made him take religion seriously. He did his PhD on Nietzsche, and theology became “a sort of hobby”. He immersed himself in the great theologians and, after years of looking into theology from the outside, he discovered that he was on the inside looking out. He realised that he believed in God. He seems genuinely puzzled by it.

There are many like him in the Anglican Church who share his scorn (if not contempt) for the more traditional approach to Christianity. He is embarrassed by “stupid” Christians thinking they know more about the nature of the universe than clever atheists like Dawkins. Ask him to prove that God exists – one of the subjects of his philosophy lectures at Oxford – and he cheerfully admits that he can’t. He goes further: “The so-called proofs of God’s existence are all rubbish.”

Ask him if the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened and he says: “Umm . . . dunno . . . can’t prove it.”

Ask him about evangelical Christians and he snorts: “Evangelicals have misunderstood the Bible. They turn it into some bloody Ikea manual.”

Ask him to sum up the state of battle between militant believers and militant atheists and he says: “Atheists have the best arguments, which makes belief such a precarious thing.”

In hours of conversation over the kitchen table I have tried hard to pick a proper argument with him about theology – he teaches it – but I have failed. That’s partly because he freely acknowledges that theology is not some sort of intellectual platform on which faith can be built. He quotes Augustine: theology is “faith seeking understanding” – which means you get your faith first and then try to make sense of it. And faith is not a belief that certain propositions about the world are true. It is not grounded in rational argument and neither is there any good line of reasoning that can persuade one to believe. Belief just isn’t like that, says Fraser. So what is it like? Why does a believer believe?

What’s interesting is that you get much the same answer to that question whether it comes from a philosopher/vicar like Giles Fraser or a theo-logian/archbishop like Rowan Williams or an old lady who has never read a book on theology in her life and wouldn’t know the difference between an ontological argument and a pork pie. Why should she? Theology, as Fraser says, is not the foundation of faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the little old lady might use a different vocabulary to try to explain why they believe, but it comes to the same thing in the end. They believe because they believe. This is not about intellect or learning: it’s more basic than that. It is both more profound and more simple.

I suspect that on the most primitive level it is not all that different from the little scrap of blanket that so many small children rely on. They need it whenever they get tired or life looks a bit threatening.

I invite you to imagine the impossibly grand figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury sitting on the steps of his cathedral with his thumb stuck in his mouth, stroking his bearded cheek with the little bit of satin at the edge of his comfort blanket.

This image may not do a great deal for the dignity of the primate’s office, but the comfort blanket is not a million miles away from what religion offers at its most simplistic. Strip from Christianity the notion of proof, evidence and historical events (or nonevents) and what drives belief has little to do with the head and a great deal to do with the heart.

Many atheists, as my list suggests, say that people believe because of the way they were brought up: children are credulous and accept what they are told. As they grow older they get rid of their comfort blankets and often the beliefs with which they were inculcated. But not everyone does that – and even those who do may return to belief, in one form or another, in later life.

There remains what the atheist philosopher AC Grayling calls “the lingering splinter in the mind . . . a sense of yearning for the absolute”. There is a profound longing for something that will stimulate and satisfy emotionally and spiritually.

Grayling and other atheists understand that longing perfectly well, but what puzzles them is why it cannot be satisfied by pottering about in the garden, a walk in the hills, watching a sunset, listening to a piece of great music. Yet that misses the point.

Believers may very well find comfort and solace in all those things but where atheists are wrong is in failing to recognise and understand that most believers want something else as well. It is hard to talk to Christians about religion without them eventually using the word “love”.

Grayling co-wrote the play On Religion in which a lead character is loosely based on Giles Fraser. One of his main scenes is taken from Fraser’s own life.

He told me about it: “The night before I got married my brother sat me down in an Indian restaurant and (too many beers) got me to make a list on a napkin of why this girl was the right person for me to marry. One side of the napkin had all the pros and the other side the cons.

“What was fascinating about the list was that nothing I could write down – kind, pretty, warm, sexy, etc – could ever add up to “I love her”. To marry and make the love commitment is the nearest thing to faith I know because it is something done with the same degree of risk.

“Would a person who needed everything fully evidenced and rationally demonstrated ever be in a position to say, ‘I love you’? Couldn’t a Dawkins-type figure make a case for love being a fiction, a function of human need, a function of biology and selfish genes? He may have many useful and persuasive things to say but there is something deeply mistaken about thinking love is simply reducible to the chemistry of the brain.

“Love, like faith, is to make more of a commitment than one can prove. But there is a truth to it that I won’t – indeed can’t – back away from. Of course, there is much to say about all of this and I can think of a dozen reasons why faith and love might look different. But the truth of both is, for me, found in the poetry, not in the science.”

Militant atheists seem to have enormous difficulty in understanding why so many people – many of them just as clever as they are – manage to live by their beliefs. Here’s what Dawkins told Laurie Taylor in New Humanist magazine: “I don’t know what it would mean to say that we live by faith in our daily life. There is, I suppose, a sense that we are sometimes too busy to reason everything out, but otherwise I don’t know what it means.”

It seems to me that he misses the point entirely. It’s not necessarily that people are too busy to reason things out. It’s more that they don’t want to. They want to believe. In spite of the terrible things that have been done in the name of God over the millennia, religious belief brings immeasurable comfort.

Personally, I do not accept the divinity of Jesus. I do not believe that his mother was made pregnant by the Holy Ghost, that he was resurrected after his death on the cross, or that he physically ascended to heaven. But that belief enriches the lives of many.

It does not make them stupid, let alone deluded. It makes them human. Their faith gives them a context into which they can fit their lives and a hope of better things to come – if not in this world, then the next. And if the next world turns out not to exist . . . well, they’ll never know, will they? I HAVE talked to many people about God – eminent theologians, historians, scientists, clerics – but let me finish with a woman called Mrs Buchanan. You’ll never have heard of her and I can’t give you her first name because I knew her in the days when children did not call adults by their first names. Even my mother called her Mrs Buchanan or Mrs B. Her life, I now realise, was sad. The one thing she and her husband wanted above everything else was children, and that was not to be. There was no IVF in the 1950s.

My own mother had five children. There was often very little money and sometimes she struggled to cope. Mrs B was always there to help. She was a stalwart of the Mothers’ Union at our local church and she regarded it as her duty. Monday was washing day, and every Monday afternoon she would turn up – her hat pinned firmly to her hair – to help with the ironing. The hat stayed on. Outside her own home I never saw her without it.

Mr and Mrs Buchanan were an unremarkable couple – quiet, honest, decent, God-fearing. They worked hard – I have his old teak toolbox beside the desk in my office to this day – and made no demands of anyone. The church was an important part of their lives, not that you would ever hear them talking about their belief. It was simply there and they were glad of it. It provided structure and, I think, some meaning to their lives.

What have the Buchanans and the millions like them to do with the militant atheists and their supercharged campaign against religion? The latter will say it is irrelevant. They will probably accuse me of viewing the world through the rose-tinted spectacles of half a century ago when society was altogether less cynical and world-weary. They will say that people like the Buchanans – if they still exist – would be better off if only they could see religion and the church for the nonsense that it is. And they’d be wrong. For them, what matters is what can be proved to be true. That’s it. But in the real world, outside the walls of their intellectual ivory towers, that’s not it.

This is not an intellectual game. Even if we know what is true – and we don’t – you cannot reduce life to a set of provable realities. Humanity is too complex for that. In the end, it comes down to whether the world would be a better place without religion; and that is a matter of judgment, not certainty.

Yes, we loathe and fear the fanaticism that leads to a man strapping a bomb to his body and blowing up other human beings. But we should also fear a world in which the predominant values are materialism and consumerism, and the greatest aspiration of too many children is to become a “celebrity”. The existence of religion can offer some balance in a society obsessed with image, which turns vacuity into virtue.

As I write these last few sentences I look out from my office onto the tennis court facing my house. It is a hot, muggy day and a group of young women are playing. They are clothed from head to toe in black, their jeans poking out from beneath the chadors. They look peculiarly ungainly and they must be stifling. As a nonMuslim it seems a bit odd and a bit alien to me, but so does a lot of other things – such as the fashionably dressed young people who get so drunk on Friday and Saturday nights you have to think twice about venturing into the town centre. We each make our own choices.

One choice is to accept the conclusion reached by Jean-Paul Sartre in The Age of Reason: “There is no purpose to existence, only nothingness.”

That is a perfectly rational conclusion if, like me, you cannot accept that we exist in order to worship God. It is very hard to see any purpose in a world where an accident of birth determines whether a child leads a long and healthy life or dies an early death in grinding poverty; a world of hunger and war and disease; a world that we may be destroying through our own greed and stupidity. But however much he may appeal to our reason, Sartre’s conclusion is too bleak for me.

Trite it may be, but most of us can see the beauty as well as the horrors of the world and, sometimes, humanity at its most noble. We sense a spiritual element in that nobility and, in the miracle of unselfish love and sacrifice, something beyond our conscious understanding. You don’t need to be an eastern mystic or a devout religious believer to feel that. We should not – we must not – be browbeaten by arrogant atheists and meekly accept their “deluded” label. They are no more capable of understanding this most profound mystery than a small child making his first awe-inspiring discoveries.

As for the fanatics – religious or secular – history suggests they succeed only to the extent that we allow ourselves to be defeated by our own irrational fear. For every fanatic there are countless ordinary, decent people who believe in their own version of a benevolent God and wish no harm to anyone. Many of them regard it as their duty to try to make the world a better place. It is too easy to blame the evils of the world on belief in God. In the end, if we make a mess of things, we shall have ourselves to blame – not religion and not God. After all, he doesn’t exist. Does he?

© John Humphrys 2007



"Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation." - Rabindranath Tagore

"Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth." - Kahlil Gibran
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:32 PM   #405
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A very good read indeed... I'll have to remember this whenever I think about putting down someone by calling them stupid...

(My mother walked in my room and asked what I was doing, and she only read part of it for a couple minutes, and before she left, she said, 'Be careful what you read. This doesn't look like something you should be reading. It's too negative and un-Christian-like.' Those were her exact words... )


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:36 PM   #406
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A very good read indeed... I'll have to remember this whenever I think about putting down someone by calling them stupid...
For the record, I am not of the opinion Achilles was launching a personal attack on me nor calling me stupid; neither would I say he is a 'militant athiest'.

I did think however it had some very interesting and applicable points to the discussion and thread in general.



"Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation." - Rabindranath Tagore

"Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth." - Kahlil Gibran
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:42 PM   #407
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Indeed you did have some good points.

(What is it about the word 'Indeed' that sounds really smart? )


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:49 PM   #408
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I'm not going to be able to address every point in Humphreys' article, but I'll try to hit the highlights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
1. Believers are mostly naive or stupid. Or, at least, they’re not as clever as atheists.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
1. This is so clearly untrue it’s barely worth bothering with. Richard Dawkins, in his bestselling The God Delusion, was reduced to producing a “study” by Mensa that purported to show an inverse relationship between intelligence and belief. He also claimed that only a very few members of the Royal Society believe in a personal god. So what? Some believers are undoubtedly stupid (witness the creationists) but I’ve met one or two atheists I wouldn’t trust to change a lightbulb.
Humphreys doesn't address the sentiment at all. He sets up a strawman by invoking Dawkins and then tries to knock it down with another strawman about "dumb atheists".

If atheists do feel that they are more clever than theists, then perhaps it would be best to find out why and then evaluate those reasons using some objective criteria. Unfortunately, Humphreys doesn't tell us anything enlightening here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
2. The few clever ones are pathetic because they need a crutch to get them through life.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
2. Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible. It doesn’t prove anything about either.
How many wars have been started over people's beliefs about their alcohol?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
3.They are also pathetic because they can’t accept the finality of death.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
3. Maybe, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Count the number of atheists in the foxholes or the cancer wards.
This argument is only persuasive if you share his assupmtion that the number would be zero. Not a very well thoughout argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
4.They have been brainwashed into believing. There is no such thing as a “Christian child”, for instance – just a child whose parents have had her baptised.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
4. True, and many children reject it when they get older. But many others stay with it.
And? This says nothing about the validity of those beliefs. How does this statement address the counterargument that the reason why others stay with it is because they cannot overcome the fear that their religious beliefs instilled in them as a child?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
5.They have been bullied into believing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
5. This is also true in many cases but you can’t actually bully someone into believing – just into pretending to believe.
I don't see how this is any different than 4, but for the sake of argument let's assume that he meant something other than what I assume he meant. How does his argument account for social/peer pressure, the power of suggestion, etc? His argument tries really hard to be logically sound, however he assumes that all people will act the way he believes they should act rather than how they actually act.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
6. If we don’t wipe out religious belief by next Thursday week, civilisation as we know it is doomed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
6. Of course the mad mullahs are dangerous and extreme Islamism is a threat to be taken seriously. But we’ve survived monotheist religion for 4,000 years or so, and I can think of one or two other things that are a greater threat to civilisation.
He seems to be conveniently forgetting that we are living in the nuclear age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Research
7 Trust me: I’m an atheist. I make no apology if I have oversimplified their views with that little list: it’s what they do to believers all the time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humphreys' Analysis
7. Why? For those of us who are neither believers nor atheists it can be very difficult. Doubters are left in the deeply unsatisfactory position of finding the existence of God unprovable and implausible, and the comfort of faith unachievable. But at the same time we find the reality of belief undeniable.
If there was a point in there, I missed it entirely

The rest of the article sounds as thought he wants to hash out some sort of negotitation between the two sides of the debate. I think the unfortunate thing here is that he tends to imagine that his audience is a little too much like himself. His arguments have zero traction with any one that was theistic but now isn't. He assumes that everyone grew up spirtually ambivalent as he claims to have done. Lots of people know very much what it is like to be a theist.

And what's more he turns around and attempt to define atheism in a very limited, unflattering, and unrealistic way. Atheism does not promote consumerism. Atheism does not encourage people to aspire to celebrity status (that's what Scientology is for). Atheism doesn't do any of the things that he seems to think that it does or will do. If anything he appears to want to attack rationalism, but he makes the mistake of portraying as some bastardized version of stoicism first. *shakes head*

Anyway, thanks for the article and I look forward to reading your response later. Take care.
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Old 04-26-2008, 04:06 PM   #409
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This is going to be a rather long post... however we are going to encompass alot of subjects across the board.

This will seem strange, however...

What is love? How do you define love?

I say this, as recurring themse often occur, so I shall subject you to one of my essays (I hope you enjoy these by the way)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me
Love; it’s the most beautiful and powerful force in the world and something I think modern western civilization is forgetting; I think all the problems that are coming to light in our society are due to a generation not knowing what love is. Indeed I think all the world problems throughout all the ages is due to a deep and massive lack of love.

Many people today are lonely, unhappy and broken. I think it is because they are not loved; I’m not even writing about romantic love, I’m writing about friendship love. I think being lonely isn’t a sign that you need a partner, more that you don’t feel loved by friends. Tragically, I think those who offer unconditional love can be viewed with suspicion, having been hurt and used many times people can cynically assess others. It is a very difficult business finding out who are true friends.

I would suggest that true friends, will always do what they can to come through for you; they will do all they can in their power to help and love you. They will be there for you in the bad times to listen and love and there for you in the good times to have a laugh.

Suggested song to set the mood; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9OGfBGOCpk

So what is love? I shall use a few definitions and thoughts from those far more learned, wise and loving than I. “Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance. In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.”*

The famous writer C.S. Lewis defined love in two ways; "Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal." And "Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."Jesus (‘That’ dude from the Bible) said; “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Finally; from the wonderful poet Rabindranath Tagore “Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom.”

I really like the above definitions of what love is, I think what many think love is has now become a shadow of its former glory, twisted and feeble compared to what it should be. Let me give you an example of what I mean…

The most easy thing to do this with is romantic love, I shall use two films too differentiate between what I think romantic love is, and what many people today think love is. My good and loving friends Toby and Alex introduced me to the film Stardust; I really like this film and would recommend it, if you haven’t seen it (despite some rather lovey-dovey moments) and think it makes some great points about love. Consider this conversation between the two main protagonists;

“Yvaine: [in the pirate ship] Tell me about Victoria.
Tristan: Well, she... she... There's nothing else to tell you.
Yvaine: The little I know about love is that it's unconditional. It's not something you can buy.
Tristan: Hang on! This wasn't about me trying to buy her love. This was to prove to her how I felt.
Yvaine: Ah... And what's she doing to prove how she feels about you?
Tristan: Well... Look, Yvaine, you'll understand when you meet her, all right? If we don't get murdered by pirates first.
Yvaine: Mmm... Murdered by pirates, heart torn out and eaten, meet Victoria... I can't quite decide which sounds more fun...”

I can’t help thinking many today are Victoria’s… That is to say, their partner has to prove their love to them, without them ever having to do anything to prove their love in return. I think love is shown by loving people when they are at their most unlovable, by coming through for them when they need you (this is true for friends as well); and that both partners doing this constitute what a relationship is meant to be. Of course Tristan is at fault here too; for he allows himself to be treated badly, because he has been blinded (in my opinion by infatuation, not love).

A chick flick I really rate is the Notebook, (thanks goes to Jen and the other Ripon St girls for my introduction to this film) I think this film is excellent in pinpointing the different aspects of romantic love, and without the over glamorization so many chick flicks fall into.

What is romantic love? Call me an idealist, but I like this quote from Allie (from the Notebook); “I did too. It's just that when I'm... when I'm with Noah, I feel like one person and when I'm with you I feel like someone totally different”. However I would also quote Noah, just before the scene I took the above quote from; “So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. And we're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that, because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day”.

So, that’s what I think love is, I think that love is what would solve the world’s problems. There are of course a few problems I shall now address.
Firstly, in friendships and relationships we will inevitable hurt and fail each other.

The German Philosopher Schopenhauer famously imagined people as a bunch of freezing porcupines: they have to huddle together for warmth, but if they get too close, they’ll hurt each other with their quills. If they stay too far apart, they’ll die of exposure. They have to find a place in between, where they are warm enough but aren’t being hurt by one another.

I have often sadly found that those who are least loved, need love the most, tend not to get it for they seek comfort in places it can’t be found. If someone is viewed as not useful such individuals will not associate with such people for they have no use. Having been treated like objects their whole lives, the treat others in the same manner; reaching such people is very difficult, and unfortunately modern society seems to be creating more of them.

The question is how do we respond when someone hurts us? I think the answer lies in the C.S. Lewis quote I used earlier; "Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal." I think forgiveness is a big thing in relationships, it is not easy, but I think responding with anger to anger, doesn’t seem at least to me to be a solution to the problem.

Indeed Wars to me, would seem to be the continued inability to let things go, to forgive, instead people get angry, seek revenge and ‘justice’.
A quote of Mother Teresa’s that I shall end with and have at least for myself found to be true is; “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. “

I hope you have enjoyed that... Peace and Blessings...

*2: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (That much maligned book… the Bible)
I ask this, as is love important or not? How do you define love?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I appreciate the kind words. Thank you.
Any time, more importantly I think them the truth


Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Feel free to question your world view at any time
Consider the following;

The above essay is one of my facebook notes, my friend Ashkan wrote after it;

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashkan
once i read somewhere "love me when i least deserve it because that is when i most need it". through experience i have reached to the point where i can believe when i step back from love fear shadows me and i find myself in constant sense of insecurity.
JON; you have a great heart and i deeply respect your passion for making a difference in this world, but many of the points you have mentioned in your article are merely theoritical models , in reality it is like the battle of very few compassionate poeple like yourself who choose to live an honorable glorious short life against those who choose to survive at any cost and live a long life of feeding their greed . throughout the whole human history having believes and ideas has been the biggest crime and been punished severely .
a very big example is political correctness in the UK .

i did enjoy reading every single line of your article immensely, it was so heart warming , you have a gift , use it to make a difference .
I shall allow my friend to offer A defence for my world view. I also defy you to tell me that even if my world view is incorrect I would be anything but a cause for 'good' in the world. If I were ever to become an athiest, I think I may feel inclinded to become an assassin and start taking out the worlds garbage (Mugabe etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
What evidence? There isn't any.
That is a debate I shall save for the other thread; however I do think it will merely end in a 'my source is better than your source'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
The big bang theory presents lots of problems to lots of people much more educated than you and I. However, this is a completely separate issue. You seem to be arguing for a false dichotomy: "if it's not A then it must be B, and if B doesn't make sense then it must be A". The reality is that A and B should be considered quite independently from one another, because the actual answer might be C, D, Q, the number 7, or the color orange.
Well, as my layman understanding goes (and here I'm greatly simplifying), nothing does not explode; neither does the current theory that the universe exsisted infinatly in small point of density to suddenly explode. From my understanding I would point to an uncaused caused.

In other words the argument for Contingency. In my version of Bertrand Russell's 'Why I am not a Christian' there is a debate between him and Father F.C. Copleston (it was my open that in the argument for contigency Copleston won: extracts at the end of the debate below taken from pg 138); also found here and I think all participants in the thread infamiliar with it would find very interesting; http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p20.htm - So you can all decide who you think 'wins'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Debate; Russell v Copleston
Copleston: Well, it seems to me that the scientist does make some such assumption. When he experiments to find out some particular truth, behind that experiment lies the assumption that the universe is not simply discontinuous. There is the possibility of finding out a truth by experiment. The experiment may be a bad one, it may lead to no result, or not to the result that he wants, but that at any rate there is the possibility, through experiment, of finding out the truth that he assumes. And that seems to me to assume an ordered and intelligible universe.

Russell: I think you're generalizing more than is necessary. Undoubtedly the scientist assumes that this sort of thing is likely to be found and will often be found. He does not assume that it will be found, and that's a very important matter in modem physics.

Copleston: Well, I think he does assume or is bound to assume it tacitly in practice. It may be that, to quote Professor Haldane, "when I Iight the gas under the kettle, some of the water molecules will fly off as vapor, and there is no way of finding out which will do so," but it doesn't follow necessarily that the idea of chance must be introduced except in relation to our knowledge.

Russell: No it doesn't -- at least if I may believe what he says. He's finding out quite a lot of things -- the scientist is finding out quite a lot of things that are happening in the world, which are, at first, beginnings of causal chains -- first causes which haven't in themselves got causes. He does not assume that everything has a cause.

Copleston: Surely that's a first cause within a certain selected field. It's a relatively first cause.

Russell: I don't think he'd say so. If there's a world in which most events, but not all, have causes, he will then be able to depict the probabilities and uncertainties by assuming that this particular event you're interested in probably has a cause. And since in any case you won't get more than probability that's good enough.

Copleston: It may be that the scientist doesn't hope to obtain more than probability, but in raising the question he assumes that the question of explanation has a meaning. But your general point then, Lord Russell, is that it's illegitimate even to ask the question of the cause of the world?

Russell: Yes, that's my position.

Copleston: If it's a question that for you has no meaning, it's of course very difficult to discuss it, isn't it?

Russell: Yes, it is very difficult. What do you say -- shall we pass on to some other issue?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Even if we had all the answers to the big bang, it wouldn't say anything about the existence (or non-existence) of god. So trying to shove the two ideas into the same boxing ring isn't going to accomplish a whole lot.
Given we don't have all the answers how do you know that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Saying that the unanswered question presented by modern cosmology is a good reason for being christian is like saying the cracks in the sidewalk are a good reason for being a shut-in.
Please extaporlate. If somethign outside space and time started off the big bang I think that would be a good reason to be a deist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Sir, you and I have been over this before. This argument is blatant, unadulterated speculation. It's a guess, and it's not even a good one.
I disagree

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Hawking
The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.
Hawking an individual who I think is a 'weak' athiest does not rule out God; at least not in the small ammount of his works I have so far read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Change a few words around in Mr. Vardy's argument and suddenly we have the exact same argument that we have for intelligent design. "X must have been designed by Y, because X just looks like something Y would design to me".
Please remind me of the last time I used an intelligent design argument?

I think it may have been in our evolution discussions; and have I not changed my position to agreeing with evolution?

I could just have easily have quoted Paul Davies;

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Davies
“For planets to exist the relevant initial conditions had to be fine tuned to a precision of one point in 10 followed by a thousand billion zeroes”
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
No evidence. No proof. No logic. Just conjecture.
In your opinion, I would say that the above who have been quoted are not to my knowledge Christians.

Also was there not enough evidence to cause Antony Flew to revise his position?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
So people made the decision to turn their lives around and then magically they turned their lives around.
Well they became Christians... then turned their lives around; they came to Church seeking help; recieved that help then turned things round.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I know some people are probably tired of me using this analogy, but this isn't even slightly different than Dumbo suddenly being able to fly after being gifted with a "magic" feather. Why did the "magic" feather suddenly allow Dumbo to be able to fly? Because he believed it could. Why does accepting jesus have such a profound impact on people's lives? Because they believe it will. No magic required.
Lets assume atheism is true, a drug addict walks into Church reveives help; has this plasibeo affect of religion and turns their life around. Would they have managed to ahve turned their life around without 'religion'? That is a question neither you or I can ultimatly answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
And do you know what I find sad? These people, for the rest of their lives, will be unable to see just how truly magnificent they are and instead will praise their imaginary friends for the remarkable work that they themselves did. That breaks my heart.
Find it sad; but I would defy you to meet these people and say that you find them sad, or think they are not of great use to scoeity despite their religious views. Even if religion is false, they would say their respective Churches have been of great help to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Indeed, however since I have already pointed out that the burden of proof lies with theists, this isn't a goal for atheism, nor it is a concern.
You have yet to tell me why the burden of proof lays with Theists; its even further shakey ground, if we personalise the 'burden of proof' for different individuals. In otherwords some poeple may require a greater burden of proof to believe something than others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
As much as you can narrow the probability of invisible pink unicorns, you will never be able to disprove their existence

You pretend to know that god exists. You pretend to know he is male. You pretend to know that he had a son. You pretend to know that his son's name was jesus. You pretend to know that his son jesus lived here on earth. You pretend to know that his son jesus died for our sins. You pretend to know that you have a personal relationship with him. You pretend to know that you have a personal relationship with his son, jesus. And you pretend to know that pretending to know these things will have some benefit for you after you die (where you go to the afterlife that you pretend to know about).
Given that I hold everything as open to a greater or less measure of doubt, in the sense you are using 'know' would seem that you are indiciaction 'know' to be absoulte 'truth'; something no human can ever be in possession of.

I shall also quote;

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wenham
"There is, then, no absolute proof that our Canon is precisely the true Canon and no absolute proof that any one word of the text is exactly as God gave it. But the quest for absolute proofs, whether historical or theological, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of history, theology and the human mind. History is at best an approximation to truth based upon incomplete induction of the facts. Theology is a fallible human attempt to co-ordinate the data of revelation. The human intellect, even when renewed by the Holy Spirit, cannot know absolute certainty. In his inmost being the Christian believer has an absolute assurance (that is, an assurance which comes from God's direct witness within him), that he has heard the voice of God and that he is a child of God. But when he puts his beliefs into his own words the absoluteness of the truth of his statements vanishes." Concluding chapter of 'Christ and the Bible' by respected Bible Scholar John Wenham
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Your earlier argument seemed to be that since all people (including particularly educated people) offer opinions, then opinions should be considered as sufficent evidence for certain arguments. I only sought to point out that this is not true.
Does that mean we should never discuss politivs then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Yes, absolutely. No one exists in a vacuum. Our beliefs do have repercussions for others.
Indeed and the fundemtalists should be countrered, and the massess of all religions should do so; but that does not make individual believers bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Interesting that the prayer studies that I am familiar with have either been inconclusive or have shown decreased recovery rates (I guess patients tend to presume the worst when they hear that people are praying for them).

All that aside though, I don't believe you addressed my point.
What was the original point? Forgive me, we are ranging over a large variety of subjects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
If I pray for rain and it rains, what control can I apply to my experiment to rule out the possibility that it randomly started to rain?
Unless you had a time machine, you would not be able to discern the results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
What efforts have you made to rule out other possible explanations for your percieved "miracle healings" (i.e. can you prove that the bone that was "broken" was not merely dislocated? Can you prove that your "appendicitis" was not genuinely misdiagnosed?). I have no doubt that the experiences that you had are genuine. What I do doubt are your conclusions, because there are other possible explanations that you have made insufficient effort to rule out. And even if you did, all you would have at the end of the day is an "unexplained phenomenon", which is not exactly and air-tight case for the existence of god (even though that is the conclusion that you appear to have jumped to).
Surely this swings both ways; have you not already ruled out it being God, so you are searching for alternative conclusions?

Please indicate to me other conclusions that are possible?

Also while I may not be a doctor, I do know a broken tibia when I see one; this in some respects is a moot point; as I can only give you my testimony, and have no further evidence to present.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I'm not going to be able to address every point in Humphreys' article, but I'll try to hit the highlights.
No worries, its a long article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Humphreys doesn't address the sentiment at all. He sets up a strawman by invoking Dawkins and then tries to knock it down with another strawman about "dumb atheists".

If atheists do feel that they are more clever than theists, then perhaps it would be best to find out why and then evaluate those reasons using some objective criteria. Unfortunately, Humphreys doesn't tell us anything enlightening here.
I consider it irrelevant; if something is true or not has nothing to do with how intelligent those who think something is true or not. There will be very bright athiests and theists, and also very stupid athiests and theists.

The MENSA study used, has much been criticised from a variety of angle, indeed if your going to accept it, I shall submit this as evidence; http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...2160058AAkBMdg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
How many wars have been started over people's beliefs about their alcohol?
Are you attributing WW1 and WW2 to religious beliefs? Atrocities at least to me seem to be commited against other 'races' a la Rwanda. And most people are sheep; herded by others; even if religion where outlawed, you'd still get wars and people acting inhumanely; just in the name of race or country, or whatever. The lust for power and money is strong in many, no matter what else you may think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
This argument is only persuasive if you share his assupmtion that the number would be zero. Not a very well thoughout argument.
My faith is not a crutch, I would not be scared of death if I believe in atheism, as after I was dead I would not be there to think anything of my death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
And? This says nothing about the validity of those beliefs. How does this statement address the counterargument that the reason why others stay with it is because they cannot overcome the fear that their religious beliefs instilled in them as a child?
If atheism is true, and existance meaningless, why does it matter if that adult believes in God or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I don't see how this is any different than 4, but for the sake of argument let's assume that he meant something other than what I assume he meant. How does his argument account for social/peer pressure, the power of suggestion, etc? His argument tries really hard to be logically sound, however he assumes that all people will act the way he believes they should act rather than how they actually act.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
He seems to be conveniently forgetting that we are living in the nuclear age.
I don't think he is 'convenient;y' forgotten anything; also I think it would only be Islamic terrorists that would Nuke anywhere, and even they you have to remember such individuals are in states where the state manipulates religion to focus its population on the 'evil' US and West, instead of them realising their own government are a bunch of asses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
The rest of the article sounds as thought he wants to hash out some sort of negotitation between the two sides of the debate. I think the unfortunate thing here is that he tends to imagine that his audience is a little too much like himself. His arguments have zero traction with any one that was theistic but now isn't. He assumes that everyone grew up spirtually ambivalent as he claims to have done. Lots of people know very much what it is like to be a theist.
He is a 'weak' atheist, it is also for a UK audience which is very different to the US.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
And what's more he turns around and attempt to define atheism in a very limited, unflattering, and unrealistic way. Atheism does not promote consumerism. Atheism does not encourage people to aspire to celebrity status (that's what Scientology is for). Atheism doesn't do any of the things that he seems to think that it does or will do. If anything he appears to want to attack rationalism, but he makes the mistake of portraying as some bastardized version of stoicism first. *shakes head*
The atheism above, was what he would call 'militant' atheism.

I think also to quote;

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean Paul Sartre
Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.
The UK is very different from the US; however society here is going down the pan, the question is why? I would put forward because materialism and consumerism have run through.

Most people would view atheism as meaning they can do whatever they want to; and in truth can atheism object to this? Example a man name Fred; he wants to have sex with as many woman as he can, and unprotected so gets them pregnant and he can't be arsed to get a job so lives off the state (through benefits). Can an athiest object to him doing so?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Anyway, thanks for the article and I look forward to reading your response later. Take care.
No worries, hope the responce is interesting. Take care too



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Old 04-27-2008, 02:47 AM   #410
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
What is love? How do you define love?
Shouldn't the topic of love be a separate thread?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I shall allow my friend to offer A defence for my world view. I also defy you to tell me that even if my world view is incorrect I would be anything but a cause for 'good' in the world.
Kind of a moot point: "correct" or "incorrect" are fuzzy. "Based on sound reasoning" or "not based on sound reasoning" are a little bit easier to define, measure, etc.

For instance, if you wanted to argue that the world was full of good people, you could very easily find a lot of good people (or even good in people) to support your view, thereby making it correct. Your arguments and my counterarguments would be largely subjective. However if we were examine the reasoning behind the argument itself, thing become a little less subjective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
If I were ever to become an athiest, I think I may feel inclinded to become an assassin and start taking out the worlds garbage (Mugabe etc).
Athiesm leads to assassinations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
That is a debate I shall save for the other thread; however I do think it will merely end in a 'my source is better than your source'.
I look foward to reading it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Well, as my layman understanding goes (and here I'm greatly simplifying), nothing does not explode; neither does the current theory that the universe exsisted infinatly in small point of density to suddenly explode. From my understanding I would point to an uncaused caused.
Nothing you've said here addresses my point, my friend

The big bang is a completely unrelated issue. "Not A" does not equal "B". Questions about the big bang are not evidence for the existence of god. They are only evidence for questions about the big bang.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
In other words the argument for Contingency.
I'm going to snip this because it's unrelated to the point. FWIW though I'm not sure how you've determined that Copleston "won"; he didn't really say anything. He makes an assumption, Russell corrects the assumption, this continues until Copleston realizes he has nothing left and then the two agree to move on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Given we don't have all the answers how do you know that?
Again, "Not A" does not equal "B". Even if we knew every last detail about how the big bang happened, there is no scientific means to rule out supernatural cause. And since we can't test for a supernatural cause, we cannot know anything about the hypothetical supernatural cause. So even though we've learned every possible detail about the big bang, we still haven't even touched the god issue. That's how I know that

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Please extaporlate. If somethign outside space and time started off the big bang I think that would be a good reason to be a deist.
Except that "Not A" does not equal "B".

What if that thing that existed outside of space and time had a natural explanation? Would that still be a good reason to accept a belief in a supernatural cause for which we cannot test because we have no evidence?

Even if the logic did lend itself toward accepting a supernatural explanation (which it does not), then you still do not have enough information to determine anything useful about the source of that supernatural explanation. Congratulations, you just spent your life worshipping "god" and now you find out that it really was the flying spaghetti monster running the show.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I disagree
Okay. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Hawking an individual who I think is a 'weak' athiest does not rule out God; at least not in the small ammount of his works I have so far read.
Well, that's fabulous for him, but that doesn't tell me anything. I don't "rule out god" either but without a shred of evidence to support the argument for his existence, I also don't pay "him" any more heed than I do the invisible pink unicorns, Zeus, and Russell's teapot. So with all due respect sir, what is your point?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Please remind me of the last time I used an intelligent design argument?
Please don't change the subject. I'm merely pointing out that Vardy's argument is almost identical to another equally silly argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I think it may have been in our evolution discussions; and have I not changed my position to agreeing with evolution?

I could just have easily have quoted Paul Davies;
<snip>
Are you willing to take his word for it? Do you know how he arrived at that number? Do equally skilled scientists have anything to say about his argument that contradicts the figure he has come up with?

Be careful sir that you don't find yourself parroting the argument of well-intentioned "experts" that simply made a mistake and did bother to catch it.

I suspect that Dr. Davies is guilty of having been taken in by some faulty math performed by Fred Hoyle. If you'd like to see for yourself why Hoyle's math (and Davies' statement) is wrong, you can find more info here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
In your opinion, I would say that the above who have been quoted are not to my knowledge Christians.
I fail to see how that's relevant, my friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Also was there not enough evidence to cause Antony Flew to revise his position?
Is Anthony Flew the standard by which all rational thought should be measured? If not, then I'm afraid I do not understand the argument. If so, I did not recieve the memo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Well they became Christians... then turned their lives around; they came to Church seeking help; recieved that help then turned things round.
I'm not sure how that changes what I said. They were willing to change and then they changed. No magic required.

When I was a kid I used to watch these pumped up muscle-heads jump around on a stage and perform amazing feats of strength "for jesus". I remember one time this one guy tore a phone book in half and told everyone in the audience that jesus had given him the power to do that. I remember thinking that his 20 inch forearms probably had something to do with it too. Then about 15 years later I saw one of my bosses do the same thing for a beer and then I lost faith in 20 inch forearms also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Lets assume atheism is true, a drug addict walks into Church reveives help; has this plasibeo affect of religion and turns their life around. Would they have managed to ahve turned their life around without 'religion'? That is a question neither you or I can ultimatly answer.
Would they have? No idea. Could they have? Absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
You have yet to tell me why the burden of proof lays with Theists
I already provided you with a link in post 401.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
...its even further shakey ground, if we personalise the 'burden of proof' for different individuals. In otherwords some poeple may require a greater burden of proof to believe something than others.
Not sure I follow. Help me understand what a "greater burden of proof" means.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Given that I hold everything as open to a greater or less measure of doubt, in the sense you are using 'know' would seem that you are indiciaction 'know' to be absoulte 'truth'; something no human can ever be in possession of.
This statement itself relies on an absolute truth (that humans can never possess absolute truth). Your argument is a paradox.

Also, you did not address my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I shall also quote;<snip>
Isn't your source assuming an absolute truth by making this statement? This is why apologists are wholey unreliable: they persume to know god's nature when it is convenient for them to do so and tell you that god's nature cannot be known when it is convenient to do so. Nothing they say is anything more than their best guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Does that mean we should never discuss politivs then?
Sir, if you have made the mistake of taking expert's analysis of political events as gospel, then there is nothing that I can do about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Indeed and the fundemtalists should be countrered, and the massess of all religions should do so; but that does not make individual believers bad.
Remember that Marcus Brigstocke clip you sent me the other day via PM? I think you need to go back and watch it again. Pay particularly close attention to the part where he talks about audiences being a power-base for ideas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
What was the original point? Forgive me, we are ranging over a large variety of subjects.
Here it is again:
Quote:
Once upon a time, the cause of apples falling from trees was an "unexplainable phenomenon". "Unexplainable phenomenon" are not evidence for the existence of god. They are evidence for questions that we do not have answers for. Pretending to have answers when we really don't is not intellectually honest.
The point being that (wait for it) "Not A" does not equal "B".

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Unless you had a time machine, you would not be able to discern the results.
No time machine necessary, but rather than quibble over the analogy rather than the argument, let's just summarize that unless you can rule out other causes for "phenomenon A" it is not intellectually rigorous to accept "hypothesis B" as being the true cause. Doing so has no benefit whatsoever other than to succeed in convicing someone that they have found the answer to a question when they really haven't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Surely this swings both ways; have you not already ruled out it being God, so you are searching for alternative conclusions?

Please indicate to me other conclusions that are possible?
Alternative conclusions to your personal situation? I listed several above. Have you ruled them out? Remember the burden of proof is yours, not mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Also while I may not be a doctor, I do know a broken tibia when I see one; this in some respects is a moot point; as I can only give you my testimony, and have no further evidence to present.
I have no doubt that you saw what you think you saw. What I question is what was really there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
The MENSA study used, has much been criticised from a variety of angle, indeed if your going to accept it, I shall submit this as evidence; http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...2160058AAkBMdg
Are you defending his strawman after declaring his over-arching point irrelevant? With a strawman of your own?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Are you attributing WW1 and WW2 to religious beliefs?
Not at all. I believe I asked a simple question. Did you have an answer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Atrocities at least to me seem to be commited against other 'races' a la Rwanda. And most people are sheep; herded by others; even if religion where outlawed, you'd still get wars and people acting inhumanely; just in the name of race or country, or whatever. The lust for power and money is strong in many, no matter what else you may think.
Indeed, but how many religious wars would you have?

His argument that religion as a crutch is as harmless as alcohol as a crutch. I simply pointed out that his argument was wrong. I figured pointing out that it was also reckless and irresponsbile would be off-topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
My faith is not a crutch, I would not be scared of death if I believe in atheism, as after I was dead I would not be there to think anything of my death.
I'm not sure how this is related to my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
If atheism is true, and existance meaningless, why does it matter if that adult believes in God or not?
First, athiesm doesn't make any statements about the meaning of life. Second, Who said life is meaningless? "Life not having inherent meaning" is not the same thing as "life not having any meaning". Third, it matters because people's beliefs do not exist in a vaccuum. What people belief can and does impact other people's lives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
I don't think he is 'convenient;y' forgotten anything; also I think it would only be Islamic terrorists that would Nuke anywhere, and even they you have to remember such individuals are in states where the state manipulates religion to focus its population on the 'evil' US and West, instead of them realising their own government are a bunch of asses.
I concede that his forgetting it may not be convenient, however he did forget it nonetheless. As for the rest of it, I think you see my point, but don't fully realize the repercussions. Needless to say, he missed the boat on this one. Entirely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
He is a 'weak' atheist, it is also for a UK audience which is very different to the US.
That may be, but I don't see how it addresses what I said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
The atheism above, was what he would call 'militant' atheism.
Well then he needs to do a better job of knowing what he's talking about. As I've already pointed out, atheism ("militant" or otherwise) has nothing to do with consumerism. And I can only hope that he's using the term "materialism" in the intended form rather than making up his own definition for it. Regardless, my point stands: he does not appear to know what he's talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
The UK is very different from the US; however society here is going down the pan, the question is why? I would put forward because materialism and consumerism have run through.
Would you care to extrapolate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Most people would view atheism as meaning they can do whatever they want to; and in truth can atheism object to this?
No moreso than christians can object to the Westboro Baptist Church or Charles Manson, I suppose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan7
Example a man name Fred; he wants to have sex with as many woman as he can, and unprotected so gets them pregnant and he can't be arsed to get a job so lives off the state (through benefits). Can an athiest object to him doing so?
No less so than a theist can.

I'm trying to understand the relevance of the above examples, but I'm going to need your help. Any clarification you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Take care
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:15 AM   #411
Jae Onasi
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I am way behind in the thread and haven't caught up from this post a few days ago, so if arguments have moved on and this is not entirely applicable, please forgive me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Devon proceeds to make conclusions, point 6 of which limits God's power, in contradiction.
It's a contradiction to you because it doesn't meet your preconcieved notion of omnipotence, which coincidentally, is a paradox (god can both make the stone *and* lift it). You want to pin the problem on Devon for the contraditions rather than see that the argument itself is flawed ("You're being asked to choose between logic and faith, and not only are you voting for faith, but you're accusing the logic of being wrong.")
Devon's conclusion based on his premises and argument was flawed. That was a very specific argument, and extrapolating that it's an argument of logic vs. faith when all he's trying to do is discuss omnipotence is making the argument into something it's not.
The God and the stone argument a. violates the law of noncontradiction and b. can be discredited in a number of ways. A freshman philosophy student can pick it apart in 2 minutes. Omnipotence has only one definition.

If I had presented this or a similar logic paradox, you would be screaming about how faulty the logic in this statement is. May I ask why you persist in presenting this particular logic paradox as if it is true? If you have based your entire non-theistic worldview on this one issue, you might need to re-examine it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Jae points this out this logical inconsistency.
Kinda sorta. You do point out that there does seem to be a problem, but you've yet to be specific about where the problem is or what's causing it (hint: it's the premise that god is all-powerful ).
I said that based on Devon's premises and argument, his conclusion was contradictory. It's Devon's premise to say God is all-powerful and you're choosing to work outside that constraint and even expand the argument into something I wasn't. Please don't accuse me of not addressing the problem when you've chosen to work outside that constraint and even the specific argument.

I've always been taught that conclusions follow from the premises and arguments, not the other way around. Does this mean that anyone here can come up with a conclusion and then re-arrange the premises to make them fit? If you have chosen to argue that way, then everyone is wasting their time here--you've already decided the existence of God is false and you're going to change your premises to fit your conclusion. If that's the case, I'll just change the title to 'Theism/Atheism Opinions' and be done with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Achilles says Jae is wrong and accuses all theists of intellectual dishonesty, despite the fact that he can't prove God _doesn't_ exist, all he can prove is that he himself doesn't believe.
Yes, but unrelated. FWIW, the burden of proof for god's existence is not mine, it's yours. As many people have pointed out, one cannot prove a negative.
The burden of proof was on Devon in the particular argument. All I have to do is prove that the existence of God is possible, in any case, and that has been done many times over by many people.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Jae brings out points that discredit this new (old) logical paradox, and points out that this does not negate the problem of the inconsistent conclusion in point 6.
Actually, you did no such thing. I already pointed out how your arguments (and the arguments of your sources) are flawed, however you haven't addressed my rebuttal. Sadly, this seems to follow the pattern of "ignore points that I don't like and repeat earlier points as though rebuttals were never offered" that you and I have problems with in the past. Repeating your arguments is not going to make them true.
If you and I have said all there is to be said on a certain point, why bring it up again? Your argument using the 'God and the rock' logic contradiction is flawed--you're choosing to ignore that, not me.

If I repeat something, it's because I think you haven't understood my point the first time around, and I'm rewording it to get my point across better. If you haven't understood my initial point, and you've made rebuttals based on a point you have misunderstood, the rebuttal is moot. Your assumption that it's a pattern of 'ignoring points I don't like' is incomplete at best and rather offensive. I'm trying to avoid giving the appearance that I'm even implying something like 'you're too stupid to understand that the rebuttal is idiotic because you didn't even understand the initial point'. I made the assumption that if you realized you misunderstood the initial point, you would automatically realize that your rebuttal made on a misunderstood point was therefore invalid. If you'd prefer I said specifically 'your rebuttal is invalid because you misunderstood the initial point', then I'll say that.

I will say that sometimes I leave because I get extremely frustrated by sarcastic tones (not necessarily by you), and I have more important things to do in life than be chewed out by anyone who thinks they know everything about God or the lack thereof.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Achilles then states that point 6 can be true because all-powerful doesn't mean 'all-powerful'.
No, Achilles points out Point 6 has to be true if one wishes to argue that god is "all-powerful". Again, we're at odds because you want god to be both all-powerful and not all-powerful at the same time (but still call it "all-powerful" anyway). FWIW, I think I know precisely where you're getting hung up. Unfortunately, I lack the skills to be able to show you how the logic is flawed in a way that you'll understand (I had hoped the rock thing would have helped).
I can see where it would fail if the rock thing was valid, fwiw.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Jae wonders what definition Achilles is using for 'all-powerful' that could be anything but all-powerful. Jae points out there is no argument in the first place without the given premise.
Indeed. All-powerful is all-powerful. If you wanted to argue that god was merely "very powerful" and that human being were "more powerful than that", then your argument for free will would hold up. But then, if we're more powerful than god, why would we need him and why can't we do the things that he can do.
Well, that would be another argument entirely, but arguing that we're more powerful than a universe-creator (assuming He/She/It exists of course) is at best unbelievably arrogant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
God being all-powerful makes a lot more sense if you also accept determinism, but the trade off is that you have to accept that there is no free will. You can't have both at the same time. It just doesn't work.
If you are working within the constraint of the rock (il)logic, then that would be a reasonable conclusion. Determinism/free-will probably deserves its own topic, however, since it requires a God.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Achilles says God isn't all-powerful, so point 6 can be true, which can only mean that God is not infinite.
No I think you might be slightly fuzzy on what I'm saying. If god is all-powerful then point 6 is true (and there is no free will). If you want to argue that god is all-powerful, you must accept that point 6 is true (and that there is no free will). However, if you want to argue that point 6 is not true, then you have to accept that god is not-all powerful. Trying to argue that god is both all-powerful and not all-powerful is a paradox. Instead of dealing with the paradox, you're accusing Devon of introducing a contradiction (except you aren't telling us why it's a contradiction).
Devon's conclusion that God is not all-powerful, when his premise is 'God is all-powerful', is self-contradictory and paradoxical. I'm not sure what more could possibly be said about it. It is what it is.

I've dealt with your paradox as have many great thinkers before me have--google 'God and the rock paradox' and you'll find 337,000 entries discussing it pro and con. Please don't accuse me of not dealing with it when you choose not to accept the conclusion. My lack of agreement with you on this particular issue is not the same at all as 'not dealing with it'.


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Old 04-27-2008, 02:06 PM   #412
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Devon's conclusion that God is not all-powerful, when his premise is 'God is all-powerful', is self-contradictory and paradoxical.
That is a common mathematical (and computer science-ical) method for proofs. A proof by contradiction. In the case of his proof, I see no intrinsic faults in his logic, each extrapolation follows quite well from the other.

The paradox is that omniscience and omnipotence are logically incompatible ideas. For example, an omniscient being knows everything that has and will happen for all of eternity, and thus god already knows these things. An omnipotent being has infinite power, which means it should be able to do something as basic as changing its mind on an issue. However, were god to change its mind and do something different it has violated its own omniscience.

You can try to circle this by saying god already knew that it was going to change its mind when it did, but that's not really changing its mind. It is following the path that it was already going to follow.



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Old 04-27-2008, 02:13 PM   #413
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ET Warrior
That is a common mathematical (and computer science-ical) method for proofs. A proof by contradiction. In the case of his proof, I see no intrinsic faults in his logic, each extrapolation follows quite well from the other.

The paradox is that omniscience and omnipotence are logically incompatible ideas. For example, an omniscient being knows everything that has and will happen for all of eternity, and thus god already knows these things. An omnipotent being has infinite power, which means it should be able to do something as basic as changing its mind on an issue. However, were god to change its mind and do something different it has violated its own omniscience.

You can try to circle this by saying god already knew that it was going to change its mind when it did, but that's not really changing its mind. It is following the path that it was already going to follow.
While I don't really want to get involved in this side of the discussion I would say that 'changing your mind' is something that is routed in being 'in-time' that is to say; you can only change your mind if you thought something previously; however if you are outside time does this apply? Given none of us have expierance of not being finite time limmited beings, I'm not sure we can answer it (hence me trying to avoid it ).

Achilles my friend, I shall edit/add a new post in reply to your above responces, some which I though were very witty



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Old 04-27-2008, 02:26 PM   #414
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Why would God want to change his mind?
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Old 04-27-2008, 03:26 PM   #415
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I am way behind in the thread and haven't caught up from this post a few days ago, so if arguments have moved on and this is not entirely applicable, please forgive me.
Welcome back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Devon's conclusion based on his premises and argument was flawed.
In order for us to understand your point, you'll have to show us where is argument was flawed.

The argument works fine if you accept predestination. If you reject predestination (assumingly to argue for free will) then, yes, the argument would appear to have problems. But now we're left with the task of finding out where the problem comes from. Is the extrapolation flawed? Is one of the premises the problem?

You appear to want to argue that the extrapolation is flawed, but you can't tell us why without introducing a paradox (which means the argument won't work). Therefore many of us are left to conclude that one of the premises (specifically the all-powerful one) is incorrect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
That was a very specific argument, and extrapolating that it's an argument of logic vs. faith when all he's trying to do is discuss omnipotence is making the argument into something it's not.
Since I don't see how, I'll need your help understanding your point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The God and the stone argument a. violates the law of noncontradiction and
Yes, by definition a paradox would tend to do that

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
b. can be discredited in a number of ways.
I'm looking forward to seeing a argument that does so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
A freshman philosophy student can pick it apart in 2 minutes.
How unfortunate that your three esteemed source were not able to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Omnipotence has only one definition.
Perhaps much if this misunderstanding is based upon not clarifying what that one definition is. Perhaps you could operationally define "omnipotence" for us?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
If I had presented this or a similar logic paradox, you would be screaming about how faulty the logic in this statement is.
Jae, the paradox only exists if we're rejecting determinism and/or creatively defining all-powerful. Otherwise the logic is fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
May I ask why you persist in presenting this particular logic paradox as if it is true?
First, no paradox exists (as the argument was presented). Second, I would never argue that the conclusions are "true" (I don't believe that god exists, remember?). I do, however, accept that Devon's logic is sound (until a sufficiently persuasive argument convinces me otherwise).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
If you have based your entire non-theistic worldview on this one issue, you might need to re-examine it again.
I haven't. I've based my entire non-theistic worldview on the lack of evidence for deities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I said that based on Devon's premises and argument, his conclusion was contradictory.
It's not contradictory though. We need your help understanding why you think that this is the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
It's Devon's premise to say God is all-powerful and you're choosing to work outside that constraint and even expand the argument into something I wasn't.
No, I'm still operating 100% within the argument. Where I might appear to be drifting is where I'm trying to understand how you're getting the conclusion that you have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Please don't accuse me of not addressing the problem when you've chosen to work outside that constraint and even the specific argument.
But you haven't, Jae. You've made it abundantly clear that you feel there is a contradiction. You have yet to present a logical argument for why a contradiction exists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I've always been taught that conclusions follow from the premises and arguments, not the other way around. Does this mean that anyone here can come up with a conclusion and then re-arrange the premises to make them fit? If you have chosen to argue that way, then everyone is wasting their time here--you've already decided the existence of God is false and you're going to change your premises to fit your conclusion. If that's the case, I'll just change the title to 'Theism/Atheism Opinions' and be done with it.
It's kinda like checking your math, Jae. If you write down 11-9=7, you can check your math by solving 7+9. Since 7+9=16, not 11, we know that the original "answer" of 11 was incorrect.

Similarly, if we have a conclusion/extrapolation that doesn't make sense (a "wrong answer"), then we need to work backwards ("check our math") to see where things broke down. Based on the comments you've made, it would seem that the premise that god is all-powerful is the culprit (specifically because the notion that god is all-powerful is a paradox). I think we're all perfectly willing to accept that it might be something else, however you'll need to show us why it's something else if we're to understand your point.

I hope that helps to clarify.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The burden of proof was on Devon in the particular argument.
Indeed if Devon is arguing for god's existence, then that would be the case. I don't think that's what Devon was doing however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
All I have to do is prove that the existence of God is possible, in any case, and that has been done many times over by many people.
No, ma'am, that's not the case at all. The flying spaghetti monster is equally possible. Invisible pink unicorns are equally possible. Russell's celestial teapot is equally possible. Something being possible does not satisfy the burden of proof one iota. In order to satisfy the burden of proof you need to furnish actual evidence, not guesswork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
If you and I have said all there is to be said on a certain point, why bring it up again? Your argument using the 'God and the rock' logic contradiction is flawed--you're choosing to ignore that, not me.
No, Jae, I'm not ignoring anything. I responded to your post. I provided you with a rebuttal. Nothing has been ignored (well, except my post). Until you can provide a response, the god vs rock paradox stands.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
If I repeat something, it's because I think you haven't understood my point the first time around, and I'm rewording it to get my point across better. If you haven't understood my initial point, and you've made rebuttals based on a point you have misunderstood, the rebuttal is moot.
I understand your point perfectly Jae. Are you sure you understand my rebuttals? I invite you at every turn to show me if I miss something. Repeating arguments that I've already shown to be faulty is not "showing me".

Please realize that you're arguing that you get to ignore anything you don't understand. If that's that case, then all you're advocating is that we talk over one another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Your assumption that it's a pattern of 'ignoring points I don't like' is incomplete at best and rather offensive.
As is your position that you get to ignore anything that you don't understand. Feel free to disabuse me of my notions at any time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I'm trying to avoid giving the appearance that I'm even implying something like 'you're too stupid to understand that the rebuttal is idiotic because you didn't even understand the initial point". I made the assumption that if you realized you misunderstood the initial point, you would automatically realize that your rebuttal made on a misunderstood point was therefore invalid.
Yes, Jae, if you could stop assuming that other people understand what you're trying to say, that would be huge (especially when they post stuff indicating that they don't).

PS: Repeating what you said the first time doesn't help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
If you'd prefer I said specifically 'your rebuttal is invalid because you misunderstood the initial point', then I'll say that.
Perfect. And then if you can go on to address which parts of my rebuttal are wrong and why, that would make things a lot easier too (again, don't just repeat the points that I've already addressed. You'll have to show how the thinking is wrong).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I will say that sometimes I leave because I get extremely frustrated by sarcastic tones (not necessarily by you), and I have more important things to do in life than be chewed out by anyone who thinks they know everything about God or the lack thereof.
Fair enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I can see where it would fail if the rock thing was valid, fwiw.
That's awesome. Since I've already offered my rebuttal on why the presented arguments should be considered valid, I think we're well on our way to reaching understanding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Well, that would be another argument entirely, but arguing that we're more powerful than a universe-creator (assuming He/She/It exists of course) is at best unbelievably arrogant.
Not if it's true

Logic doesn't get hung up on "appearing arrogant". It only deals with what makes sense and what doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
If you are working within the constraint of the rock (il)logic Achilles: I think the word you're looking for here is "paradox", then that would be a reasonable conclusion. Determinism/free-will probably deserves its own topic, however, since it requires a God.
Actually, only determinism does. You can have "free-will" without resorting to a diety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Devon's conclusion that God is not all-powerful, when his premise is 'God is all-powerful', is self-contradictory and paradoxical. I'm not sure what more could possibly be said about it. It is what it is.
But none of Devon's extrapolations conclude that god is not all-powerful.

If you're arguing that true deviations are possible, then god is not all-powerful (which would serve the added bonus of making the "all-powerful" paradox no longer a paradox). Is it possible that it is your argument which is flawed and not Devon's?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I've dealt with your paradox as have many great thinkers before me have--google 'God and the rock paradox' and you'll find 337,000 entries discussing it pro and con.
I find neither appeal to popularity nor appeal to authority arguments persuasive. If all my neighbors were jumping off a cliff, I would not follow. If all the people with Ph.Ds that I know were jumping off a cliff, I would not do so. So you'll need to actually present a logical argument if you want me to accept your point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Please don't accuse me of not dealing with it when you choose not to accept the conclusion. My lack of agreement with you on this particular issue is not the same at all as 'not dealing with it'.
No logical argument has been presented. The issue had not been dealt with. When a logical argument satisfies the paradox, then I'll be more than happy to concede that the issue has been addressed. I hope that helps.

Take care.
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Old 04-27-2008, 03:43 PM   #416
Samuel Dravis
 
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It would probably be helpful to see the argument again, so I'll quote it:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
But here's a general rehash, as it's a bit wordy and in some instances unclear:

Premise:
God is all-knowing
God is all-powerful
God created everything
Souls are the determining factor for internal decisions
Souls do not have to act consistently

Extrapolations:
1. If god created everything, god created our souls
2. If god is all-knowing, god knew our souls would determine any and all decisions we arrived at
3. If god is all-knowing, god knew all the decisions we would make prior to making our souls
4. A person cannot deviate from the make-up of their soul
5. Any contradictory decisions made a soul are part of its make-up
6. God made all souls with full knowledge of how they would act, so true deviations are impossible

Further extrapolation:
God decided how we would decide anything

Further:
God thus decided everything for us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
Saying god 'allows' a deviation contradicts the very definition of the word; something which is not supposed to happen. There is no way a being can permit that which can't be permitted.

A deviation by its very meaning is beyond the realm of expected possibility or control. If god is infallible nothing should be beyond his capacity to expect or to control.

Though as Rand said, 'Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.'

I'll rephrase.
6. God made all souls with full knowledge of how they would act, so true deviations [from god's intent of how they would act] are impossible.

If god can give his creation true freedom of choice, he is allowing a deviation from how he created it (because he knew exactly how it would act and chose for it to act that way) and is no longer infinite. Which of these would you prefer to negate his infinity with?
As for the scope of the argument:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
...It was mainly at the impossibility of free will...
It doesn't appear to have anything to do with God's existing or not. Possible conclusions are:

1: Fatalism (Theological determinism - clearly something unacceptable to anyone who believes in human responsibility)
2: Rejection of God's logical limits (suffers from some issues that I've said something about a few posts back, including rendering arguments about God largely incoherent)
3: Rejection of the idea that God is all powerful (Not sure if that fixes the problem, as long as he is aware of what he's doing he'd still be unable to avoid interfering)
4: Rejection of the idea that God is omniscient (God actually won't know what is happening or what is going to happen (depending on your conception of God being outside of time or not), which is inconsistent with commonly held beliefs)
5: Rejection of the argument on the grounds that its god is not the God of the Bible (suggested a few posts back)

[edit]
6. God didn't create everything (probably unacceptable as well)

There may be something I've missed there, but I can't think of anything else at the moment.


"Words are deeds." - Wittgenstein

Last edited by Samuel Dravis; 04-27-2008 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 04-27-2008, 04:05 PM   #417
Jvstice
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In regards to extrapolations 2 & 3, they don't necessary follow unconditionally. Both depend on the future already being something that's already created and already in existence before we experience it. A more honest appraisal in light of what we actually know for a fact might be:

2. If god is all-knowing, god knew our souls would determine any and possible all decisions we arrived at
3. If god is all-knowing, god knew all the decisions we could make prior to making our souls depending on the circumstances we would one day be thrown into.

Where this differs from Samuel Dravis' categories, is that God could then still be deciding as time unfolds and not committed to any one course of action yet until a given moment arrives because the future doesn't exist in order to be known yet. God would then know every bit of information that existed to be known, but since that information wasn't in existence yet to be known, God still knows all information.

Of course I tend to lean towards determinism, but I thought it only fair to specifically address the flaw.

Achilles: In regards to definitions of omnipotence, I've heard that it's always classically been defined as having enough power to do any imaginable task. That definition generally does rule out logical paradoxes like God having enough power to create a rock God couldn't move, and is the definition that both Judiasm and Christianity have almost universally agreed upon before the 20th century.


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Old 04-27-2008, 04:25 PM   #418
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Where this differs from Samuel Dravis' categories, is that God could then still be deciding as time unfolds and not committed to any one course of action yet until a given moment arrives because the future doesn't exist in order to be known yet. God would then know every bit of information that existed to be known, but since that information wasn't in existence yet to be known, God still knows all information.

Of course I tend to lean towards determinism, but I thought it only fair to specifically address the flaw.
Yes, I agree. I essentially said the same thing here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
4: Rejection of the idea that God is omniscient (God actually won't know what is happening or what is going to happen (depending on your conception of God being outside of time or not), which is inconsistent with commonly held beliefs)
The reason I did not attempt to distinguish it further is because I couldn't find a difference that would ultimately affect the argument (God being eternally present still means he knows exactly what he's doing).


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Old 04-27-2008, 06:54 PM   #419
SilentScope001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
Premise:
God is all-knowing
God is all-powerful
God created everything
Souls are the determining factor for internal decisions
Souls do not have to act consistently

Extrapolations:
1. If god created everything, god created our souls
2. If god is all-knowing, god knew our souls would determine any and all decisions we arrived at
3. If god is all-knowing, god knew all the decisions we would make prior to making our souls
4. A person cannot deviate from the make-up of their soul
5. Any contradictory decisions made a soul are part of its make-up
6. God made all souls with full knowledge of how they would act, so true deviations are impossible

Further extrapolation:
God decided how we would decide anything

Further:
God thus decided everything for us.
Where's your proof on that? If God is all-knowing, he already knows what is going to happen, but why would that knowledge allow him to choose what actually happens? He already knows it. He can't change fate. He can only follow it. He cannot 'decide' on anything, since fate has already decreed that the souls MUST behave in a certain way and do certain decisions.

If something is going to happen regardless, then God cannot really 'choosen' for that thing to happen. You imply that God has free will, in that he can choose, but since he knows everything, why would he even choose? It is already pre-determined. If your argument is correct that man does not have free will if there is an omipontent and ominscient God, neither can the omipontent and ominscient God.


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Old 04-27-2008, 06:59 PM   #420
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^^ That would have never occured to me.

Achilles: Also in regards to determinism being a point of view reserved to theists, that's not even remotely close to true within recent history. What about the original behaviorism of Watson, or the neobehaviorism of B. F. skinner. Also William James, the father of American Psychology. All of them argued that human behavior and animal behavior was deterministic and lawful, and therefore completely predictable if you knew all the variables.


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Old 04-27-2008, 08:45 PM   #421
Achilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Achilles: In regards to definitions of omnipotence, I've heard that it's always classically been defined as having enough power to do any imaginable task.
That's certainly one possible definition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
That definition generally does rule out logical paradoxes like God having enough power to create a rock God couldn't move, and is the definition that both Judiasm and Christianity have almost universally agreed upon before the 20th century.
Well then that would be a limitation on his power (thereby voiding omnipotence). And since being able to create a rock that he cannot lift is imaginable, then it (again) appears that the paradox is still valid. Finally, since god is so far beyond our comprehension, why would his power be limited to what we can imagine or consider to be logical?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
Achilles: Also in regards to determinism being a point of view reserved to theists, that's not even remotely close to true within recent history.
I think you're conflating the religious concept of determinism (destiny) with the behavioral psychology concept of determinism (predictable behavior determined by specific criteria). Not quite the same thing.
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Old 04-28-2008, 12:20 AM   #422
Emperor Devon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Devon's conclusion based on his premises and argument was flawed.
For the sake of simplicity, could you address which specific extrapolation(s) are wrong? (I'm assuming you're not contesting the premises, anyhow.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
That was a very specific argument, and extrapolating that it's an argument of logic vs. faith when all he's trying to do is discuss omnipotence is making the argument into something it's not.
Which is unrelated to its correctness on both counts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The God and the stone argument a. violates the law of noncontradiction
It shows god violates the law of noncontradiction, you mean. Take your pick, he's either unable to create an impossibly heavy stone, he's unable to lift it, or his existence is a contradiction and is not possible to discuss. Which is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
and b. can be discredited in a number of ways. A freshman philosophy student can pick it apart in 2 minutes.
Well, I'm waiting...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I said that based on Devon's premises and argument, his conclusion was contradictory.
And we've all been struggling to understand why you think that (it's not even arguing against god). For the conclusion to have been flawed, one of the extrapolations had to have been wrong. Again, which of them was it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Please don't accuse me of not addressing the problem when you've chosen to work outside that constraint and even the specific argument.
Achilles has used the argument to prove points not related to the original subject of discussion. As it's still in-keeping with the topic of the thread, though, I don't see what's wrong.

That's unrelated to not having addressed the argument in the first place. You've repeatedly debunked my conclusions as false, but you've yet to specify which of the extrapolations (that they were derived directly from) is wrong. Once you do that, we can start making progress in this discussion beyond 'you're wrong - well, how so? Because you're wrong - well, how so?'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I've always been taught that conclusions follow from the premises and arguments, not the other way around.
Indeed, but by disproving one of the premises or arguments you've cut the whole plant from its stem. And in this instance it would probably make the discussion go smoother than it has.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Does this mean that anyone here can come up with a conclusion and then re-arrange the premises to make them fit?
That would depend on how the premises are re-arranged. But as long as the argument is still validated there's no reason you can't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The burden of proof was on Devon in the particular argument.
I'm Batman. Prove this statement false.

(Hint: If you can show how the burden of proof is mine, you won't even need to.)

Good luck!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Devon's conclusion that God is not all-powerful, when his premise is 'God is all-powerful', is self-contradictory and paradoxical.
Achilles' rebuttal aside here, to prove that the paradox can't exist (because the conclusion is wrong), you'll have to disprove the arguments or premises that validate the conclusion in the first place:

Quote:
Premise:
God is all-knowing
God is all-powerful
God created everything
Souls are the determining factor for internal decisions
Souls do not have to act consistently

Extrapolations:
1. If god created everything, god created our souls
2. If god is all-knowing, god knew our souls would determine any and all decisions we arrived at
3. If god is all-knowing, god knew all the decisions we would make prior to making our souls
4. A person cannot deviate from the make-up of their soul
5. Any contradictory decisions made a soul are part of its make-up
6. God made all souls with full knowledge of how they would act, so true deviations are impossible
Again, I'm asking - which of these is faulty? If not only because it would be the best way to disprove my argument, doing it will ensure this discussion gets anywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I've dealt with your paradox as have many great thinkers before me have--google 'God and the rock paradox' and you'll find 337,000 entries discussing it pro and con.
In addition to what Achilles said, I'd also like to point out that it's not our responsibility to affirm your arguments (or in this instance, find an argument that supports what you've claimed) - and I'd much rather hear how you dealt with it in any case. (Sarcasm not intended, in case it appeared so.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentScope001
If God is all-knowing, he already knows what is going to happen, but why would that knowledge allow him to choose what actually happens?
My argument was geared specifically at god's direct role in creating souls. Is there a reason we should believe he does not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentScope001
fate has already decreed that the souls MUST behave in a certain way and do certain decisions.
That's looking towards the root of the issue. On a closer level, I'd say the reason souls act as they do is because of their buildup/general nature. In other words, they act as they are - or more concisely, they simply are.

Moving back, the reason these souls exist in the first place is due to god's will. Whether fate exists and willed that god acted as he did is another issue entirely. (Though judging by how we use those words, when we say 'fate' we do in a sense mean 'god'. But again, not what I'm addressing.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev7
Why yes, yes I did. It was more of a figure of speech, I guess. I don't think that He is literally in my heart having a party. Besides, that is the only thing that I really need to know proving that He is real/exists.'
lol no
How so?
First, you'll have to clarify what you mean by stating 'god is in my heart', though I'd presume it's to convey whatever positive emotion that idea (god) makes you feel.

Anyways, after we've established you mean by that statement I can move on towards disproving whatever validity you think it has.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
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Old 04-28-2008, 03:20 PM   #423
SilentScope001
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Quote:
My argument was geared specifically at god's direct role in creating souls. Is there a reason we should believe he does not?
If you wanted to state that God created souls, you could state:
1. God created everything that exist.
2. Souls are something that exist.
3. Therefore, God creates Souls.

A simple logical argument, but one that does not appear to me what you were trying to get at. You were trying to argue that God is the one that decides what the souls would do, and I disagree that you have proven that.

Quote:
That's looking towards the root of the issue. On a closer level, I'd say the reason souls act as they do is because of their buildup/general nature. In other words, they act as they are - or more concisely, they simply are.

Moving back, the reason these souls exist in the first place is due to god's will. Whether fate exists and willed that god acted as he did is another issue entirely. (Though judging by how we use those words, when we say 'fate' we do in a sense mean 'god'. But again, not what I'm addressing.)
Again, I strongly disagree (and will rephrase my argument again to see if it can be responded).

You see, according to your premise, God knows everything. As you stated in Extrapolations 2 and 3, which I'll quote:

Quote:
2. If god is all-knowing, god knew our souls would determine any and all decisions we arrived at
3. If god is all-knowing, god knew all the decisions we would make prior to making our souls
You will see that God is able to trace what we will do in the future. As he knows everything, it stands to reason that God should know the past, the present, and the future. Therefore, God should know what an regular person would do in the future.

It also stands to reason, however, that God should also know what will happen in his past, present, and future as well. In other words, God should know what he himself would do in such a situation, and that God would know exactly what souls he would make in the future.

By God knowing what will happen to God in the future, before he even made the souls, this states that Fate (past, present, and future) is independent of God. God cannot control what he would do in the future, since he himself knows what he will do in the future, and that God knows he cannot change what he will do in the future. God cannot control the composition of the souls since he himself will have to make those exact souls in future. God therefore cannot 'will' the creation of souls at all, as God has no will.

In essence, this is rather important because of your later 'extrapolations' that imply God has free will while man does not. You made an argument that man does not have free will, so why would God? I still am not convinced.


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Old 04-28-2008, 04:01 PM   #424
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
That's certainly one possible definition.

Well then that would be a limitation on his power (thereby voiding omnipotence). And since being able to create a rock that he cannot lift is imaginable, then it (again) appears that the paradox is still valid. Finally, since god is so far beyond our comprehension, why would his power be limited to what we can imagine or consider to be logical?

I think you're conflating the religious concept of determinism (destiny) with the behavioral psychology concept of determinism (predictable behavior determined by specific criteria). Not quite the same thing.
No. Emperor Devon was basing his arguement on the idea of determinism being due only to God being aware of the basis for human behavior and actions for every specific person. This idea presupposes human behavior is lawful, and God understands the laws under which each individual operates.

It's why Skinner's rejection of the higher power taught to him in the presbyterianism of his youth didn't lead to his rejection of the idea of determinism. He still believed human and animal behavior was lawful, and merely set out finding out what those laws might be.

And his success in finding those laws that guide human behavior was so complete that the understanding of the way people actually behave advanced enough that the cognitive, social, and personality psychologists of the 1960s actually were able to found whole new fields of knowledge that gave further predictions of how people's thoughts actuallly affected how they behaved. Before Skinner there was little scientific merit to considering how internal process affected actions when we had no basis for predicting what those actions might be.

Skinner put it into context by showing that the actions could be predicted, and giving a context for the debate about internal processes. Now I would argue that he went too far in saying that the internal processes weren't important, but there is value in focusing on the part of a problem you can solve and coming back to the rest of it later, perhaps with new tools and understandings once the solvable part is taken care of.

If there weren't a good bit of truth to what he argued, then the descriptions that came out of later sciences that attempted to build on his work wouldn't have had any relevance to the way people actually thought or acted. Now whether he went too far with his arguments, by saying that the mind doesn't matter is a different matter. But he was a determinist, and I'd argue that he and his followers were and are not so different from theists who believe in determinism at least on this issue.


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Old 04-28-2008, 04:12 PM   #425
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Quote:
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No.
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Originally Posted by m-w.com
1 a: a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws b: a belief in predestination
2: the quality or state of being determined
I took 1b away from his argument. You took away 1a. Not the end of the world.

Were you going to address my other points as well?

Thanks for your response.
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:28 PM   #426
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SS: Or you could simply say that God has free will because he is not being pressured by any (literally any) external conditions. Like you say, he couldn't change his mind, but that wouldn't indicate a flaw in God but rather a concept being applied where it doesn't belong. This wouldn't change the result, just the way it's described.

Or, you could answer it in your way, in which it creates a universe as "objectively" meaningless as one without a God. Either way seems like it would be unappetizing to a believer.

Jvstice: I am not very familiar with Skinner's work, but if he based it on empirical evidence then it is not the same kind of determinism as Devon's argument. Devon's is based on logical necessity while empirical determinism is "only" based on evidence - meaning it isn't logically necessary that its predictions will always be accurate.

As for the assumptions of the argument, I am curious what you think some of the consequences that God not being understanding the laws of human behavior would be. Obviously we don't want our decisions to be capricious, in to a large extent they aren't. I am having a difficult time understanding what it would mean for God to, e.g., create something when he doesn't know how it works in the first place. On the other hand, if even God can't understand what we do or why we do it, what reason would he have for punishing people?


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Old 04-28-2008, 06:56 PM   #427
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Samuel: B. F. Skinner was the father/founder of modern behaviorism. And though his hypotheses and conclusions were mostly based on evidence, some of them went a little beyond the evidence. He did say that it is not necessary to understand how the mind works in order to understand how people actually behave. That led to an almost quantum leap in our understandings of human and animal behaviors. I'd say that of most of psychology, his branch has more concrete data than most other forms, because it doesn't depend on surveys or self report, but direct observation by impartial observers only, hence the name, Behaviorism.

At times, he and his most ardent followers went a little bit further and advocated that behavior was all there was, and that the mind was irrelevant. In that claim is where I'd say he went beyond the evidence. On the minus side, you can still find a lot of behaviorists who will argue vehemently that animals do not have the capacity for thoughts or feelings because such things can't be observed, and have been responsible to a degree for other fields of science mistreating animals out of the belief that it really doesn't matter to the animals. (You might read Jane Goodall's in the Shadow of Man or Sue Savage Rumbaugh's books if you're interested in people that have been negatively affected by this attitude from large parts of the scientific community.

Politically, most behaviorists tend to be against punishment as a means of social engineering, saying that it's not effective, and governments should work on encouraging positive behaviors. Most acknowledge privately that different things can serve to reinforce positive behaviors for different people, but there are still a lot of them that advocate one size fits all reinforcement as though everyone found the same things equally pleasant or unpleasant.

From what I've seen, it's effective on an individual level as long as it's applied consistently and that you not discount that other sciences that came after have contributed to human understandings. Some of the more dogmatic behaviorists would argue to this day that what they discovered is all there is to understand about human behavior and that understanding the mind is utterly pointless because it's not something that has a real existence.

Behaviorism laid a foundation technologically in which the social sciences started in the US could exist. Social psychology puts that in a context of how an individual acts in society. Personality psychology studies how individuals differ. True, both of them use methods that are less often empirical, but both have a high degree of predictive value depending on your purpose, and some of the studies in both areas of science were emperical (the prison experiment Achilles mentioned earlier for example, or the Milgram experiment is one that shows how people respond to authority, where Bandura's studied both violence and belief using empirical methods).

Achilles: Do you have enough power to beat yourself armwrestling? It's a circular question. Ditto to the one you posed.


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Last edited by Jvstice; 04-28-2008 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:43 PM   #428
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Achilles: Do you have enough power to beat yourself armwrestling? It's a circular question. Ditto to the one you posed.
I'm aware that the question I posed presents a paradox. This is only a problem if you insist on concluding that god is all-powerful. If you remove that requirement, then you're simply left with a question that doesn't make a lot of sense. As such, I'm not sure what your point is. Would you mind clarifying?
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:45 PM   #429
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Actually no matter how you look at it, it's a question that doesn't make a lot of sense.


"If force is the game, the murderer wins over the pickpocket." Ayn Rand

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Old 04-28-2008, 08:32 PM   #430
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Indeed contradictions tend not to make a lot of sense.

If god is all-powerful then he should be able to create a rock that he cannot lift. Similarly, if god is all-powerful then he should also be able to lift the rock.

You can accuse it of being a silly question, or you can acknowledge that the argument that god is all-powerful results in contradictions (or you can read a bunch of apologetics which will attempt to distract you from the question by offering up a bunch of guesswork).
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:41 PM   #431
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How much power does it take to beat oneself at any feat of strength? I don't just accuse it of being a silly question, but state that it's a meaningless one.


"If force is the game, the murderer wins over the pickpocket." Ayn Rand

"Justice is the midpoint between being treated unjustly, and treating others unjustly." Aristotle
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Old 04-28-2008, 09:06 PM   #432
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SS: Or you could simply say that God has free will because he is not being pressured by any (literally any) external conditions. Like you say, he couldn't change his mind, but that wouldn't indicate a flaw in God but rather a concept being applied where it doesn't belong. This wouldn't change the result, just the way it's described.

Or, you could answer it in your way, in which it creates a universe as "objectively" meaningless as one without a God. Either way seems like it would be unappetizing to a believer.
Meh. Well, to be quite honest, the goal was to present a view of the universe that would be unappetizing to ED, since it does appear that he assumes that God can choose what he wants to do, or change his mind, or whatever. If I present such a universe that would be unappetizing to ED, then I can see if he would wish to reserve his arguments or beliefs, or counter them.

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Old 04-28-2008, 10:54 PM   #433
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Indeed contradictions tend not to make a lot of sense.

If god is all-powerful then he should be able to create a rock that he cannot lift. Similarly, if god is all-powerful then he should also be able to lift the rock.

You can accuse it of being a silly question, or you can acknowledge that the argument that god is all-powerful results in contradictions (or you can read a bunch of apologetics which will attempt to distract you from the question by offering up a bunch of guesswork).
Here's a theory I came up with.

A popular Christian belief is Hell. Now, Hell would constantly have to expand to hold everyone who has ever died not a Christian.

So since God created Hell, and it's constantly expanding, could God be constantly expanding? In mighty-ness and all? (I know mighty-ness is not a word )

God claims he is a jealous God, so why would he create something (Like Hell) that does something he doesn't?

God could've created the rock so he could not lift it, but grew mightier and lifted it after.

*I know this is off-the-wall, but... I'm just going to throw it out their for people to consider*
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Old 04-28-2008, 10:58 PM   #434
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Quote:
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How much power does it take to beat oneself at any feat of strength?
I'm afraid that I don't follow the analogy as the rock and god would be separate things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvstice
I don't just accuse it of being a silly question, but state that it's a meaningless one.
You're certainly entitled to your opinion. I, for one, think that god's omnipotence is key to the available arguments for his existence. If simple question poses a hindrance for this premise, then I would consider that to be pretty meaningful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpartanPride
Here's a theory I came up with.

A popular Christian belief is Hell. Now, Hell would constantly have to expand to hold everyone who has ever died not a Christian.
Except that we don't have any evidence for hell either. So first we have suspend skepticism to accept the existence of hell, then we have to suspend it again to accept the argument that it is expanding (and a third time to accept that there are people there and a fouth time to accept that all the people are the cause for expansion, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpartanPride
So since God created Hell, and it's constantly expanding, could God be constantly expanding? In mighty-ness and all? (I know mighty-ness is not a word )
Indeed that could be happening. What evidence do we have that would cause us to think that it is happening?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpartanPride
God claims he is a jealous God, so why would he create something (Like Hell) that does something he doesn't?
Good question. How would he create a rock that he couldn't lift? How would he create beings that are capable of doing things that he does not allow (and still be more powerful than them)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpartanPride
God could've created the rock so he could not lift it, but grew mightier and lifted it after.
Congratulations sir, you appear to have just surpassed Descartes, Aquinas, and Lewis in your ability to come up with something that actually looks like an answer. Unfortunately though this is subject to the same flaw as their arguments in that we're still guessing at an answer rather than knowing one.

Not to mention the fact that god would have been "not all-powerful" when he created the rock. Or that now that he is more powerful he can create a heavier rock

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpartanPride
*I know this is off-the-wall, but... I'm just going to throw it out their for people to consider*
I appreciate the response. Take care.

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Old 04-28-2008, 11:38 PM   #435
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Quote:
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How much power does it take to beat oneself at any feat of strength? I don't just accuse it of being a silly question, but state that it's a meaningless one.
Dude, my right arm would totally kick my left arm's ass.



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Old 04-28-2008, 11:42 PM   #436
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I'm ambidextrous, so someone might want to start taking odds.
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Old 04-28-2008, 11:44 PM   #437
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Except that we don't have any evidence for hell either. So first we have suspend skepticism to accept the existence of hell, then we have to suspend it again to accept the argument that it is expanding (and a third time to accept that there are people there and a fouth time to accept that all the people are the cause for expansion, etc).
Only three times actually
If Hell exists, it has to be there for a purpose, which is, unfortently to keep people there.

Truthfully, I must leave this issue for someone else as I am not educated well in this part of Christianity. Achilles, I will study this area of the Bible, and read someone elses findings, so I will argue about this later.

Quote:
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Indeed that could be happening. What evidence do we have that would cause us to think that it is happening?
If God exists as an all-powerful being, it would be impossible for something *like* this not to be happening. But like I said, this a theory I just came up with today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Good question. How would he create a rock that he couldn't lift? How would he create beings that are capable of doing things that he does not allow (and still be more powerful than them)?
Man, I'm really having a hassle understanding this (It's probably not your post not making sense, it's probably me being plain stupid ). What do you mean by creating beings that do things he doesn't allow? Do you mean he created beings that sinned?

If so, why would God want to sin in the first place?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Congratulations sir, you appear to have just surpassed Descartes, Aquinas, and Lewis in your ability to come up with something that actually looks like an answer. Unfortunately though this is subject to the same flaw as their arguments in that we're still guessing at an answer rather than knowing one.
Really, there is no way of being 100 % sure of knowing an answer until we die, and either rot in a coffin for eternity or continue on to an after life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Not to mention the fact that god would have been "not all-powerful" when he created the rock. Or that now that he is more powerful he can create a heavier rock
Or maybe he grows too fast? He could create as many rocks as he wants, and this theory would just loop itself.

Here's a paradox (I think, truth is, I barely know what "Paradox" means. The first time I heard it was in a Futurama episode )

If God is iffinity, (as has been argued), is it even possible that something could be bigger than iffinity?
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Old 04-28-2008, 11:50 PM   #438
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I'm ambidextrous, so someone might want to start taking odds.
I have a whole folder of stuff to give a bit of an edge to one arm.



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Old 04-28-2008, 11:52 PM   #439
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SpartanPride, your theory would only really work if time were a useful concept in relation to God - which, under concepts of deity usually accepted, it is not.



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Old 04-29-2008, 12:03 AM   #440
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SpartanPride, your theory would only really work if time were a useful concept in relation to God - which, under concepts of deity usually accepted, it is not.
Maybe it is a useful concept to God. It says in the Bible on the seventh day God rested, after all.
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