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Author Topic: Do You Believe In God?  (Read 6689 times)

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Offline mia h

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #200 on: July 07, 2014, 06:24:12 PM »
Secular morality is undoubtedly superior .....
So as a secularist you think you're morally superior to anyone who follows Faith based morality? Yeah, that doesn't come off as being even a tiny bit arrogant.
Passion wants to set believers on fire.
And Tainted thinks anyone who believes in religious "jibberish" is "crazy","gullible" and will listen to any old "bullshit"

For people who think that science, reason & logic are some sort of er... Holy Grail, reason & logic don't seem to be your strong suits.

Offline Passion and Desire

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #201 on: July 07, 2014, 06:32:42 PM »
Passion wants to set believers on fire.
Selective reading much?

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #202 on: July 07, 2014, 06:36:42 PM »
She does seem to be deliberately misreading, doesn't she? I never said that I was superior. I stated that secular morality is superior to the morality present in the bible, and if you go back and read all of my replies rather than quote mining, I explicitly said that most people are actually far more moral than their holy books; that people deliberately pick and choose the good bits and ignore the bad bits because they have a moral system that is superior to their bible and they on some level know that. And you know what? If you can find me somebody who follows every moral pronouncement - even the hideously evil ones like slavery is ok and unbelievers should be killed - in the bible because of the threat of Hell rather than some desire to be a good person, then yes. I am morally superior to that person, because I know that slavery and genocide and rape-victim-punishing is wrong. It isn't arrogant to point at something and say "Anybody who thinks that is moral and just is an immoral person." Explain to me, please, how it's arrogant to say that anybody who follows the morality of the Old Testament based on no evidence is immoral?

Tainted is entitled to that opinion, just as a lot of people would label people who believe in astrology as somewhat gullible. Tainted was being a tad hyperbolic, perhaps, but why is his view suddenly illogical? If you believe something without evidence, that is illogical. It's that simple.

Also, we think that science and logic are the best ways to explain the natural reality in which we live, so please refrain from ad hominem attacks, and please don't attempt to strawman us. It is the height of dishonesty. Please and thank you.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 06:46:56 PM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Dhi

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #203 on: July 07, 2014, 06:49:03 PM »
The NPO I work with receives its most generous donations from religious institutions, mostly mosques.

This money goes to providing the crucial resource of clean water to several million people, and current projects will probably put us over the 10 million mark. Although this is only a drop in the bucket for the nearly 1 billion people in the world who need clean water, the impact on human life goes beyond those 10 million people, to preventing wars which are often fought over water.

The way that NPOs operate, and the way money goes through charities, mean that religious institutions are a crucial component for this kind of work. No matter how many billions of dollars something like the Gates Foundation sets aside for charity, the real money is routinely 50% to 80% driven by private donors. According to Giving USA, 73% of charity money in the US comes from individuals (which include churches).

Religious institutions also provide local benefit through smaller works of charity, social justice, care for the infirm, and providing a safety net for its most in need. Religion organizes people into significant good which is not easily replaced, and there is no reason to believe a new, secular system would be better than faith-based systems. Eliminating religion strikes me as an extreme and overly simplistic solution, like napalming a forest because there are ticks in it.

Could we make this thread less about bashing religion? IIRC the intention was to give everyone a supportive place to express their views, and this is surely not it.

Offline Blythe

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #204 on: July 07, 2014, 06:53:05 PM »
Things need to calm down. This thread will be locked for 24 hours.



Topic re-opened, as it has been 24 hours.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 08:57:56 PM by Blythe »

Offline Assassini

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #205 on: July 08, 2014, 09:59:06 PM »
I would just like to throw my two cents in to this discussion, as it's an area that me and my mates often like to debate (or at least rant about as most of us share the same points of view). The short answer to the original question of the topic, of whether or not I believe in God, is pretty definitively "no". I come from a background of a scientific and intelligent family and am a lover of all things science, I mean my area of study at University is Molecular Genetics (which I understand is actually an area of science which is particularly incompatible with religion). I also am a bit of an anti-theist (a word I saw in another thread earlier today which seems to sum up my feelings, or at least is close enough to doing so), in a way. That is not particularly relevant to the question though, so I'll leave that there.

There is one area though in which I do have an element of uncertainty, simply because it is also an area where science has no viable answers or theories, and that is the question of what came before the Big Bang. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is no God/s who actively influence the Universe and exist along with it, but I will admit that I am a little more open to the idea of some unquantifiable and unknown "thing" from existing prior to the Big Bang, something which set the wheels of the Universe in motion. I would not describe myself as an agnostic, as such, in that I don't really think that there was a divine being (or whatever you want to call it) before the Big Bang. It simply does not make sense in my mind, and the notion that this being somehow planned ahead for absolutely everything and set everything in motion for our own existence, that's just ludicrous. However, science has absolutely no real explanation for what existed prior to the Big Bang and so it's an area where there is a little more wiggle room for, I suppose, faith and belief. It was an area which genuinely had me a little confused for a while, as in I genuinely struggled to reason to myself why it did not make sense for a "God" to have existed prior to the Universe. I did not believe it was a possibility, but I also had no scientific basis for believing that (because there was no other explanation).

I would like to share a theory from a friend of mine, which did actually help me put to words my own thoughts (I'm going to try and explain it basically, as it is a little mathematical so I apologise if I come across as condescending). Essentially, one has to know that everything in the Universe tends towards disorder and chaos. This is called Entropy. So essentially the eventual aim of every particle in the Universe is to go from being close together to being as spread out as possible. So the Universe is always moving from a more simple, compact form to a more complex and spread-out form. Everything starts off with a simple forumla and then becomes more and more complex as the Universe expanded outwards (or at least that is how my friend described it in basic terms, I'm not really familiar with the maths and physics he used). So if one starts with something very simple, i.e. the Big Bang, which can only lead to something more complicated, then it follows that what was precursor to the Big Bang was an even simpler "explanation" than the Big Bang itself. And the idea of a "God" starting off the Big Bang, is not a simpler explanation but indeed a more complex one and so does not fit the pattern of events since. It's a rather neat little explanation which I personally quite liked, enough so that I'm repeating it to a bunch of strangers on the internet!

Anyway, that's my thoughts on the matter...

Things need to calm down. This thread will be locked for 24 hours.



Topic re-opened, as it has been 24 hours.

Also. This amused me. Seems to be common occurrence for religious "discussion".

Offline Dice

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #206 on: July 09, 2014, 12:18:06 AM »
Religious groups seem to have proven the existence of God to their own satisfaction and defined the entity or entities for their own needs and purposes.
This I think is the only comment so far I have found myself wanting to comment on. Religious groups have NOT proved God exists, that's the very bases of Religion. One must Believe, not know or the whole Dogma ceases to work. Faith, not knowledge is the foundation of the system and proving God exists would single-handedly be the worst thing that could happen to a Religious institution. Because at that point, people would begin to ask why the systems in place are needed now that proof has been acquired. Why seek the blessing of a man filling in the place for God, when now you know you can just go to the source without them.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 12:19:39 AM by Dice »

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #207 on: July 09, 2014, 03:06:26 AM »
I stated that secular morality is superior to the morality present in the bible

and please don't attempt to strawman us. It is the height of dishonesty. Please and thank you.

I believe the actual quotes were:

Quote
It is actually demonstrable that secular morality is superior to the morality found in many religious texts

Quote
Secular morality is undoubtedly superior because it focuses on harm vs benefit and the value of a human life rather than a pronouncement from a vindictive, vengeful deity.

Which aren't quite what you say above.

Now, the first statement is basically meaningless... considering the sheer number of religious texts out there (to give a simple example there are thousands of Hadiths) saying "many" doesn't really mean anything; it's such a qualified phrase that it loses all impact or meaning.

The second is actually debatable... and really debatable. Objectivism is undoubtedly a secular system of ethics... but one could really disagree that it focus on harm vs benefit and the value of human life. Likewise one could look to Buddhist or Jainist morality... both distinctly non-secular... which have little to no connection to a vindictive, vengeful diety and in fact share many similarities with positions generally seen as secular such as Kantian or Aristotelian ethics.

Even with the theistic religions there is actually a bit more wiggle room than one suggests. To take a simple comparison, Aristotelian ethics (generally seen as a secular ethical system) are basically based around the idea that an ethical life is a life lived well and living well and fulfilled is the good that one should strive for. If one leads a non-ethical life, one will not be living well regardless of everything else. So the consequences of not following his ethics are, in essence, to live a bad, unhappy, unfulfilled life.

Now, obviously that's rather different to the idea in Christian ethics that not following it is to be cast in the literal fiery pits of hell to suffer for all eternity. But what if we take a non-literal view? The Catholic Church for example has generally been careful to note state whether Hell is a place or a state of being and has nearly always kept the idea that the single largest punishment (and some suggest the only punishment) is to be separated from God and thus true happiness. To quote Pope John Paul II on Hell (emphasis mine):

Quote
The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.

Isn't that in many ways similar to Aristotle's view? Aristotle suggests the consequences of a non-ethical life is live an unfulfilled, unhappy life. Pope Joh  Paul II suggests the consequences of a non-ethical life are to be separated from the source of all joy. While their methods of getting there (Aristotle by applying reason, John Paul by reference to God) are different, the end results are the same; being non-ethical means not being happy. The difference therefore is in the methods of deciding what is moral, not in the consequences of not living up to those moral standards. And that touches on some wider questions, notably whether moral realism is correct and natural law ethics vs virtue ethics.

And moreover... and to only briefly dive into this topic... there is a pretty wide ranging school of Christian ethical philosophy that holds that God didn't make up or invent moral values, they are instead an intrinsic part of his nature and character; as God is supposedly the ultimate expression of moral values (kindness, love etc etc) and the universe is a expression of himself, those moral values thus apply to the world and it is/was up to humans to discover them. Following such a view would put those who seek to follow Christian ethics in the same position as a natural law moral realist; there are moral facts out there (the expressions of God's nature to follow the argument above) and from these facts moral standards to govern human behavior can be derived. That puts Christian Ethics in the same position as Aquinas (unsurprisingly), Hobbe, Locke and perhaps more surprisingly G. E. Moore and to an extent even Kant.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #208 on: July 09, 2014, 04:52:55 AM »
@Dhi:

Not saying that religious organisations can't do good, just that they also do great evil in the name of their religion, and none of these organisations require religion to do good. Nothing good that can be done by religious institutions cannot also be done by secular means...and in fact there ARE secular organisations that do huge amounts of good (Amnesty International, Oxfam, Water Aid, Fairtrade, Dignity in Dying, The Red Cross, etc etc). The flipside is that there are lots of things that religion takes away and does wrong that wouldn't be done by a secular organisation. For example, preaching against condoms in Africa (an AIDS-ridden country), that whole Catholic paedophile thing, recently using the Supreme Court to exploit a loophole meaning that American companies don't have to cover contraception of any kind under their healthcare (which is effectively forcing their beliefs onto others), along with many religious organisations help coming with huge strings attached. Perhaps one of the worst examples is the AA (alcoholics anonymous, not the insurance company), which teaches you that you are completely helpless to solve your own problems and have to submit to the sky-bully for help (effectively; some AA circles are worse/better than others). The only reason most of your donations come from religious organisations is that there are more of them because the religious institutions help propagate nasty and spiteful stereotypes about unbelievers, so people are more worried about coming out as atheists.

I didn't state that we should get rid of all religion, just that in a lot of ways we would be better off without it. Without religion, secular organisations would take their place because these people wouldn't stop wanting to do good just because their religion was gone, would they? Secular organisations would come with all the good but very little of the bad that religious organisations too often bring.

However, I do agree that we should probably stop this debate right here. It was not the initial point of the thread, so I agree that we should stop this argument/debate/thing here.

@Assassini:

I agree, to an extent....though we don't even know if "Before the big bang" is even a valid statement, since if time started with the big bang, "before" isn't actually possible in the strictest sense of the word. But I do agree that God raises more questions than it solves. The correct answer to what was around Pre-Big Bang (if that's a valid statement) is simply "We Don't Know." Not "We don't know, therefore God." Also, if you were to label yourself as Agnostic, that still wouldn't make any comment on whether you believed the statement or not; see the page 8 for my explanation of the difference between agnosticism and atheism. :P :P

@Dhice:

Exactly...which is why quite a few of the religious texts (like Christianity and Islam) specifically state that reason and logic are the enemies of faith.

@Consortium:

I was generalising of course, but in general, secular morality is better than faith-based morality, partly because a faith based morality relies on a lot of assumptions and the acknowledgement that if the sky-bully tells you to do something, regardless of whether you think it's right or not, you have to do it because it's moral and he's wiser than you. As for "God Is Love," well, no. First, religion has yet to demonstrate that God exists in the first place, and secondly, the God of the bible at least said that he created evil as well...so is he good or evil? The OT would heavily lean towards the latter IMHO. You also run into the sticky problem of this simple question:
Is it moral because God said so, or is God merely pointing out what is moral for us? In the former, you're bound to whatever he says, which isn't a moral system it's moral subservience, and in the latter....why do we need God, since he's obviously not the source. And you know, objective morality may well exist - there are some things that are always objectively wrong, even if simple true/false statements like "Stealing is wrong" are fundamentally flawed - but you still have to demonstrate the link between that and God. It's surprisingly easy to attribute extra things to something that you can just say exists without evidence, isn't it? How about we demonstrate that God exists, and then figure out what he actually is afterwards? It's all very well saying "God is the source of morality...." but you still have to prove it.

And by generalising, I meant the biggest ones that have the most influence. For the record, Jainism and Buddhism in their purest forms - which are also the most common - are technically philosophies rather than religions. Buddhism is a practice of contemplation and inquiry that doesn't rely on anything supernatural; no god, no soul, nothing. I admit that it's difficult to classify, given some strains reliance on mysticism and the difference in culture, but in its purest form, it is essentially a philosophy.

But back on topic. The origin or morality doesn't matter, to an extent, in this discussion. Anybody who follows Christian morality must inherently use the bible as a moral guide...which is horrible. Since very few Christians actually do what the bible tells them to do in its entirety and instead cherry pick from the bible, they must be using a different moral system to the one taught in their holy book....so if the bible is supposedly the Word of God, and humans are using a moral system to chop up the "Word of God" into something more acceptable and moral...then the bible cannot be a good source of morality, since humans have found something better. I'll agree that there are fundamental flaws in a lot of secular morality systems, but that doesn't change the supremacy of inquiry-based morality that focuses on shades of grey rather than faith-based black and white morality. *shrug*. And the simple fact of the matter is that even if Buddhism offers a better morality (which I would argue is dubious, given the whole idea of Karma, but that's a debate for another day), the problem remains that Christianity and Islam in particular are still more widespread and influential.

Personally, I am a secular humanist, and I personally think that humanist morality is superior to most of the big, globalised religions, since it relies on inquiry, empathy, understanding, human agency and the value of human life. Secular morality is, in general, superior to religious morality. For one thing, secular morality also focuses on a sense of accountability, whereas religious morality doesn't.

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
- Steven Weinberg.

I think that quote sums it up rather nicely.

Offline mia h

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #209 on: July 09, 2014, 06:16:45 AM »
Passion,
if you'd said that you wouldn't spit on someone when they were on fire, that would be one thing. While it's not exactly the most charitable position to take, it does indicate that while you wouldn't actively wish to see someone come to harm if that person was injured you would not step in to help that person. I understand that sentiment and have had that type of non-interventionist thought about more than one person. However that is not what you said:

But people trying to remove the teaching of evolution from public schools and replace it with creationism (by linking it up with Hitler, Columbine, and whatever else they can think of) can go die in a fire. Seriously.

You want these people to die in a fire, you are actively wishing harm to come to a set of people you don't agree with. If you can't see that there is a huge difference between non-intervention and actively wishing harm then you probably need to seek help.


Vergil,
Before I go any further a couple of things to clear up:
One of the main groups behind the creation of Oxfam were the Quakers, so Oxfam is based at least in part on Quaker morals. So Oxfam's roots are far from secular.

For example, preaching against condoms in Africa (an AIDS-ridden country).
You know it's only you and Sarah Palin that think Africa is a country?

She does seem to be deliberately misreading, doesn't she?
Who's "she"? The cat's mother? Taking about someone in the third person like that is just plain rude. And no, it's not "quote mining" it's using what you say as evidence that you are extremely rude and arrogant. And if you don't like "quote mining" then I assume you'll be removing this post immediately.

I never said that I was superior.
.....
I am morally superior to that person,
I believe the term for this is being hoisted by your own petard.

A society's morals reflect the norms and standards of that society, which is why a legal codes closely resemble a society's moral code. As the standards and norms of a society change so does the moral code and then the legal code, but that takes time and reflects why the law is so often behind society.

So if there was a society whose moral and legal code was 99.9% in line with the Old Testament, that would mean that you would see yourself as being morally superior to that entire society. But go back and look at the Conquistadors or the early British colonials, who went out into the world to spread civilization, culture and religion they did it for many reasons but those reasons also included a belief they were morally superior to the barbaric, pagan peoples that they "discovered". So I can only assume that you have no problem with European nations spreading their civilization, culture and religion around the globe because they believed themselves to be morally superior or would any claim of moral superiority just be sheer arrogance?

As you claim to believe in logic, lets take an example.

Statement 1 : People with naturally purple hair can turn water into wine.
Statement 2 : I have naturally purple hair.
Conclusion    : I can turn water into wine

The above argument is both logical and valid as the if the statements are true then the conclusion must be true, but it isn't a sound argument because at least one of those statements isn't true. So lets try it again with a slightly different argument.

Statement 1      : Secular moral values are better than religious moral values.
Statement 2      : I am secular.
Sub-Conclusion  : My morals values are better than religious moral values.
Statement 3      : You have religious moral values.
Conclusion         : My moral values are better than your moral values. I am morally superior.

Again it's logical and valid but is no more sound than claims about the effects of purple hair on H2O, and it's the argument you've been making. Arrogant,rude, condescending; the evidence is there and we must believe what the evidence tells us because that's how science, reason and logic work.

So if you are looking for dishonesty, go find a mirror.
As for the height of dishonesty, a door frame, a pencil and tape measure should sort that one out for you.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #210 on: July 09, 2014, 06:28:46 AM »
Oxfam and the Quakers:
Their roots may be religious, but now they are a secular organisation. I didn't say erasing religion from history, after all.

Africa:
I know that Africa is a continent. It was a slip of the tongue, and a very trivial thing to pick at. Missing the point much?

Quote mining and rudeness:
Pot calling kettle black, Mia. I was rude because you were rude. Swings and Roundabouts. And that is not quote mining, since the entirety of the bible is "supposed" to be taken literally, and I was pointing at several quotes that supported my point. There's a difference between quote mining and citation. Please and thank you.

Morality:
Yes. I said that I never *said* that I was superior, and then said it. However, again, you've quote mined, since the important stuff was around that quote. You are deliberately taking portions of my post and putting them out of context to try and discredit me. So you're saying that you disagree that I am morally superior to somebody who would stone their child to death for talking back? Good to know.


Morality based on culture:
Wrong. Sorry, but that's subjective morality which I don't agree with. Just because lots of people say it's right, doesn't make it right. Take the Islamic countries in the middle East; they think, as a society, that beheading apostates is moral and just. They. Are. Wrong. Law and morals are two entirely different things. Just because something's illegal doesn't necessarily make it immoral.

And THAT is another strawman. You like doing that, don't you? I disagree with what the colonials and the conquistadors did as well, but then, you never bothered to ask that, did you? I think that every human has a responsibility to try and remedy injustice, but do it in a sensible and legal way. Are you saying that we shouldn't go off and try to stop the beheadings and the subjugation of women and minorities in the Islamic countries? It isn't arrogant to point at somebody doing an immoral thing and say "Right now, I am morally superior to that person."

You know what? If you think the Bible is a good basis for morality, then you're right. I think I'm morally superior to you because if God told me to kill my son (if I had one), or that owning people as property was A-OK, then I would tell him to go fuck himself.

Ah, ad hominems. How nice. I'm done talking to you, since you seem intent on insulting and strawmanning rather than actually debating in an honest and reasonable manner. You are arrogant, rude, insulting and refer to very dishonest tactics to try and discredit the person who disagrees with you rather than actually addressing the points that they are making. So...I'm going to bow out of this thread for the time being. Good day.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 06:30:30 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Dhi

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #211 on: July 09, 2014, 06:45:38 AM »
The NPOs you list do the good work but they do not provide the money that makes it all possible. Although the organization is secular, the money is coming largely from religious institutions. Up to 80% of it is coming from individuals, and that bracket is dominated by churches, which are counted as individuals (because they are not foundations). A not insignificant part of the foundation money that makes up the remaining 20% also comes from foundations that are faith-based. So although the NPO itself may be secular, as ours is, religious institutions provide the means. It would be dishonest of me to go out on the donors' dime and provide clean water and then say, I did this, this is coming from me. The credit goes to our donors, and often whole sponsorship is provided by a mosque. It is only that they lack the specific expertise to turn the money into potable water.

The fact that routinely less than 30% of NPO money comes from secular sources says to me that religious institutions are better organized, better equipped, better able to provide aid funds than secular foundations. It doesn't match up with your theory that secular aid is superior to faith-based aid. The secular sources contribute less money to charity by a large margin.

The only reason most of your donations come from religious organisations is that there are more of them because the religious institutions help propagate nasty and spiteful stereotypes about unbelievers, so people are more worried about coming out as atheists.
Demonstrated in publicly available, oft discussed studies is the embarrassing fact that, on both an individual and state-wide level, there is a direct correlation between the presence of religion and the generosity of Americans. I didn't want to bring this up, because the statistics in these studies are subject to some gross misrepresentation... especially on the side that's being made to look bad.
In this skewed analysis, for instance, a slight lead is assigned to secular contributions on the basis that church donations can't be counted as charity- when as we've just discussed, most of the charity money out there comes from the churches. This is identical to discounting secular contributions to foundations on the basis that foundations are (typically) not charities.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #212 on: July 09, 2014, 06:55:53 AM »
I didn't say that secular aid is superior necessarily, just that no good that can be done through religious means that can't also be done by secular means. I'm fully aware that most of the funding comes from religious sources, but that's because there are simply more of them...and religious organisations also do great, great evil. The thing is, these good people aren't donating because they're religious, they're donating because they're good people. The chances are that even if they weren't religious, they would go off and help and donate if somebody asked them to (and oftentimes, even if they weren't asked). My point wasn't that we should get rid of religion, just that we would probably be better off without it and that charity in particular wouldn't suffer, since these nice, good, decent, likeminded people would likely get together and help out regardless of whether they were religious or not. Obviously this is just conjecture, but I think we should be wary of giving religion the credit for good people doing good deeds.

Offline Dhi

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #213 on: July 09, 2014, 07:05:03 AM »
Definitely agreed that we should be able to celebrate good people for doing good deeds regardless of religious affiliation.

7/9/14 update for thread relevance: I am still an atheist.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #214 on: July 09, 2014, 07:10:41 AM »
Here here :D

Update: So am I. Somewhat obviously, haha. :P

Anyway, perhaps these theological and philosophical debates should be moved to a different thread, since this thread has taken a huge detour. As of now, I, at least, will be stopping my responses to the various debates in this thread to try and get it back on topic. XD

Offline mia h

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #215 on: July 09, 2014, 08:26:39 AM »
Oxfam and the Quakers:
Their roots may be religious, but now they are a secular organisation. I didn't say erasing religion from history, after all.
But to say Oxfam is a 100% secular organization is misleading, if the organization is founded on religious values and they still uphold those values they are in some respects a religious organization. Just not necessarily a proselytizing one.

Africa:
I know that Africa is a continent. It was a slip of the tongue, and a very trivial thing to pick at. Missing the point much?
It's easy to say it was a slip of the keyboard after the fact, but look at other people also thought Africa is a country and claimed it was a mistake after the fact. You're not in great company.

Quote mining and rudeness:
Pot calling kettle black, Mia. I was rude because you were rude. Swings and Roundabouts. And that is not quote mining, since the entirety of the bible is "supposed" to be taken literally, and I was pointing at several quotes that supported my point. There's a difference between quote mining and citation. Please and thank you.
Oh of course I see it now, when you quote someone then it's a citation. But when other people quote you, then it's mining. Good grief. The bit in bold, isn't that also called cherry picking, which I seem to recall you thinking of as being a bad thing. Silly me, it's only a bad thing when other people do it.

Morality:
Yes. I said that I never *said* that I was superior, and then said it. However, again, you've quote mined, since the important stuff was around that quote. You are deliberately taking portions of my post and putting them out of context to try and discredit me. So you're saying that you disagree that I am morally superior to somebody who would stone their child to death for talking back? Good to know.
Again not quote mining, that's you scoring an own goal and discrediting yourself. I fail you see how you can blame me for what you type.
And as you keep whining on about so called strawmen, one word for you: Hypocrite

Morality based on culture:
Wrong. Sorry, but that's subjective morality which I don't agree with. Just because lots of people say it's right, doesn't make it right. Take the Islamic countries in the middle East; they think, as a society, that beheading apostates is moral and just. They. Are. Wrong. Law and morals are two entirely different things. Just because something's illegal doesn't necessarily make it immoral.

As the standards and norms of a society change so does the moral code and then the legal code, but that takes time and reflects why the law is so often behind society.
Well it's nice that we agree on one thing.

And THAT is another strawman. You like doing that, don't you? I disagree with what the colonials and the conquistadors did as well, but then, you never bothered to ask that, did you? I think that every human has a responsibility to try and remedy injustice, but do it in a sensible and legal way. Are you saying that we shouldn't go off and try to stop the beheadings and the subjugation of women and minorities in the Islamic countries? It isn't arrogant to point at somebody doing an immoral thing and say "Right now, I am morally superior to that person."
The colonials, the conquistadors etc believed they were culturally and morally superior to those they were "saving from themselves", and it gave them the moral authority to change other cultures. But if it was wrong for other people to impose external cultural values on a society, then why is OK for you to want to do the same thing? You keep complaining about religious type imposing their morals and values on others but when you want to do it, it's perfectly OK. Again that word : Hypocrite

You know what? If you think the Bible is a good basis for morality, then you're right. I think I'm morally superior to you because if God told me to kill my son (if I had one), or that owning people as property was A-OK, then I would tell him to go fuck himself.
The Bible needs to read and understood in the context of the time and society it was written in as many, many people have said.

You are deliberately taking portions of my post the Bible and putting them out of context to try and discredit me religious beliefs.
And if you are going to refer to God in the third person then it should be "I would tell him to go fuck Himself." not "I would tell him to go fuck himself." But you can't beat the sound, logical, reasoned argument behind "go fuck yourself" because that one is always  a winner  ::)

Ah, ad hominems. How nice. I'm done talking to you, since you seem intent on insulting and strawmanning rather than actually debating in an honest and reasonable manner. You are arrogant, rude, insulting and refer to very dishonest tactics to try and discredit the person who disagrees with you rather than actually addressing the points that they are making.
Yeah, I know using the things people say and holding them to account for what they said is a really dirty underhand tactic  ::)
Any point you can't or don't want to answer instantly becomes and ad hominem or a strawman in your eyes, that's either very convenient or a modern miracle. Oh wait a second, if you don't believe in God or any religion then that takes miracles off the table.

So...I'm going to bow out of this thread for the time being. Good day.

That lasted what 25 minutes? At least we know how long your promises are good for.
Also it's incredibly childish, you're the kid that takes his ball home when the game isn't going they way he wants.

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #216 on: July 09, 2014, 08:32:16 AM »
If anyone has a problem with another member's posts, use the handy-dandy "report to moderator" link at the bottom.

Stop slinging insults back & forth. Do it now.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #217 on: July 09, 2014, 09:00:38 AM »
Ok. Deep breath. If I don't post this, it will bug me for ages.

First and foremost, I would like to apologise for being rude and insulting. It was unnecessary, so I'm sorry.

Now...onto the post.


Oxfam:
Just because it started as a religious organisation doesn't necessarily mean that it still upholds the Christian values, much like the way Parish Councils work nowadays in English towns. It started as a Quaker organisation, but is now completely secularised.

Africa:
Just because I mistyped doesn't make the overarching point invalid, and "guilt by association" is hardly a fair way to measure whether somebody has a point or not, is it?

Quote Mining:
Ok, fair enough, I didn't explain myself properly. When I was pointing at the bible, I was referencing the fact that a lot of Christians will use certain phrases Jesus supposedly said to justify them ignoring the bible. I lifted entire lines and verses to show that he also said to abide by the OT. It's not quote mining, since quote mining requires you to take it out of context and misrepresent what was said...I didn't do that. I just pointed at several verses and said "So if you abide by one thing Jesus said, surely you need to abide by those as well?" Whereas what I felt you were doing was extracting sections of my post and pretending they said something different. For example, the "morally superior" thing. I said in my post that I never said - past tense - that I was morally superior, and then went on in that paragraph to give an example of when I would be morally superior. You extracted the first and last lines, which made it look completely different to what was actually written. As for the supposed strawman, I meant it as a rhetorical question, but I agree that I did strawman you a little, and for that I apologise.

Imposing Morals:
I only said that their morals were skewed if they think that beheading and stoning and whatnot is morally just. I never said anything about imposing our moral norms on them...I said that we should strive to change laws worldwide to more fair and just laws through legal means; that is, debate, open protest and gradual changes in the social norms. I don't think anybody would disagree with me if I said that we should be trying to eliminate the oppression that women face in many Islamic countries. It isn't necessarily imposing our values on them, it's making sure that everybody has a fair voice in a legal and peaceful manner. I never once stated that we should invade them and impose our moral systems directly...they're conclusions that they need to come to on their own. However, if people are being killed over what they believe in these countries, I do think that we have a responsibility as fellow humans to try and stop that from happening, because it's wrong no matter what they think. "You disagree with the government, so you DIE!" is hardly a world anybody should wish to live in...that's all I'm saying. We should try and make all societies just and fair so everybody has a say in how they run it. If you're going to design a society, the only fair way of doing it is if the person designing it doesn't know who they're going to be in it. Kind of like the person you get to cut a cake always chooses their piece last to ensure fairness.

Bible being interpreted:
But Jesus specifically said that the bible wasn't open to interpretation, correct? And even if that's true (which I agree with, by the way), how can anybody use it as a basis for their morality? Surely an Omnipotent Creator could say to them "You know that stuff you're doing? Yeah, the slavery and the stoning to death and the genocide? Yeah, cut that shit out." But he didn't. In the bible, he specifically egged them on. And if it requires you to go in and carve out huge chunks of it to make sense in the modern world, well, you're not using it as the basis for your morality in the first place, are you? If it requires interpretation and alteration, then it is useless as a definitive moral guide.

The "Go Fuck Yourself" bit:
Except I'm not religious so I don't capitalise the "himself." Anyway. I don't think anybody would have to justify not wanting to kill their child, would they? And surely God, being omniscient, wouldn't need me to explain why. The simple fact that he's asking me to do that doesn't warrant a polite response in my opinion since he's asking me to go kill somebody dear to me. As far as I'm concerned, if somebody walks up to you and says "I want you to kill your children," you don't need to offer an argument as to why you're not going to do it, you just say "No, you psychopath" and walk away.

Ad Hominems:
I call things as I see them. Your comments came across as strawmanning or ad hominems, and I reserve the right not to respond to the argument you're presenting if I don't feel that they're actually addressing what I said or thought. Perhaps I was a tad overzealous in labelling them as such, but I've been feeling more irritable than usual over the past few days so I apologise for accusing you of underhanded tactics when I have, at times, not explained my positions in a clear and consistent manner. However, I would suggest that you be more careful what sections you quote, since a lot of the time it felt like you weren't actually addressing my actual argument and were picking bits out of context of the rest of the post, which is what annoyed me more than anything.

Regardless, that doesn't excuse my aggressive and insulting behaviour, so I apologise for insulting you. Regardless of how I felt, it was unnecessary. No hard feelings?

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #218 on: July 09, 2014, 04:23:03 PM »
I've seen the 'theory is just a guess' line pop up here and there in the past many times, and at least once here.  This website is able to clear up misconceptions about theories, laws, and facts.

Quote
In everyday use, theory means a guess or a hunch, something that maybe needs proof. In science, a theory is not a guess, not a hunch. It's a well-substantiated, well-supported, well-documented explanation for our observations. It ties together all the facts about something, providing an explanation that fits all the observations and can be used to make predictions. In science, theory is the ultimate goal, the explanation. It's as close to proven as anything in science can be.

Some people think that in science, you have a theory, and once it's proven, it becomes a law. That's not how it works. In science, we collect facts, or observations, we use laws to describe them, and a theory to explain them. You don't promote a theory to a law by proving it. A theory never becomes a law.

This bears repeating. A theory never becomes a law. In fact, if there was a hierarchy of science, theories would be higher than laws. There is nothing higher, or better, than a theory. Laws describe things, theories explain them. An example will help you to understand this. There's a law of gravity, which is the description of gravity. It basically says that if you let go of something it'll fall. It doesn't say why. Then there's the theory of gravity, which is an attempt to explain why. Actually, Newton's Theory of Gravity did a pretty good job, but Einstein's Theory of Relativity does a better job of explaining it. These explanations are called theories, and will always be theories. They can't be changed into laws, because laws are different things. Laws describe, and theories explain.

Just because it's called a theory of gravity, doesn't mean that it's just a guess. It's been tested. All our observations are supported by it, as well as its predictions that we've tested. Also, gravity is real! You can observe it for yourself. Just because it's real doesn't mean that the explanation is a law. The explanation, in scientific terms, is called a theory.

Evolution is the same. There's the fact of evolution. Evolution (genetic change over generations) happens, just like gravity does. Don't take my word for it. Ask your science teacher, or google it. But that's not the issue we are addressing here. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is our best explanation for the fact of evolution. It has been tested and scrutinised for over 150 years, and is supported by all the relevant observations.

I, unfortunately, when discussing evolution, get called a Darwinist on occasion, and those who debate it with me bring up Darwin and what he discovered...as if nothing else has been learned in 150 years.  This is one of the core faults of creationist thinking--keeping in the past.  It reveals a critical failure to understand what science is and what it accomplishes.  Yes, science can neither prove nor disprove a deity...science deals with the natural world, and any deity would be supernatural, and therefore beyond the realm of science.  But claims of effects by deities in the natural world can be tested and observed, because they are in the natural world.  Science can prove or disprove them, and has disproven many in the last 500 years.  This is where the god of the gaps argument comes in--many believers in a deity claim that whatever isn't known by humanity comes from that deity.  When science proves otherwise, the parts of the natural world believers can claim are unknown and therefore result from a deity shrink--god is in the gaps of our knowledge, so to speak.  As we progress in knowledge, these gaps become smaller.  At this rate, humanity will reach a point where the gaps will be so small that most humans will likely reject belief in deities as an explanation for unknown occurrences.

I know many of us here on E are not from the United States, but some quotes from the first four American Presidents reveal an astonishing tolerance of other faiths--including Christianity.  It is documented, mostly through personal letters, that they were not mostly Christian themselves, but often Deists, or even agnostics or atheists.  Professing such in those times would have been folly--just look at Thomas Paine--but suffice it to say, America's Founding Fathers were much more tolerant and accepting of different faiths, or no faiths, than many religious and non-religious people of today:

Quote
If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists.
--George Washington

Quote
God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.
--John Adams

Quote
... it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
--Thomas Jefferson

Quote
Conscience is the most sacred of all property.
--James Madison

Note that I use civil discourse as well.  I have no problem with purely spiritual beliefs, or neutral philosophies.  Jainism, Buddhists who do not believe Buddha became a deity, Wicca, Druidism--these make no claims on others, cause no harm, and are actually quite beneficial in the majority of instances.  In these cases, practitioners seek a healthy balance with nature, and human beings are considered part of nature, not apart from it.  I, as an atheist, completely agree with them, but on biological principles, not spiritual ones.

Organized religion has done both great good and great harm over the centuries, but I find the comparison with science false when claiming science has done so as well.  Science is not a faith, it is a discipline.  No real scientist will ever tell you anything is for certain--the exact opposite of most religions, which claim absolutism on many topics.  And I've heard from some of faith that atheism is responsible for atrocities, too--Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung...but these men did not do what they did based on atheism; they did what they did based on economic and political factors.  And for all intents and purposes, a place like North Korea, which is nominally atheist, is actually not--the cult of personality which surrounds their leader is the state religion.  They literally worship the man as a deity--how is that atheism?  Much the same with Stalin and Mao, who expected the commonfolk to show a faith in them that rivaled a religion's.

And just because I am an atheist does not mean I cannot see the beauty in the world around me.  I can be moved emotionally just as much as a religious person, but by a clear night sky with countless stars, an effort by strangers to work together for the benefit of a victim, a modest waterfall in a lush forest, or the smile and coo of a newborn baby.  Regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation, we should all be able to agree that treating others with respect and empathy is the best course of action available to us as a species.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 04:52:33 PM by HannibalBarca »

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #219 on: July 09, 2014, 04:27:20 PM »
This ^ :-)

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #220 on: July 10, 2014, 03:07:18 AM »
Something people have mentioned, but that I don't want to get too deeply into (but felt moved to comment on) is the difference between "faith" and "knowledge". I've mentioned this before. I have faith God exists. Therefore I "know" God exists. I can't prove it.

Now, those familiar with the theory of knowledge will say "you can't know something that can't be proven!"

Well, scientifically, nothing can be ABSOLUTELY proven. All collected knowledge in science is stuff that has not yet been proven wrong. I'm not going to say "well evolution is just a theory", because that's moronic. Evolution is scientific FACT, because experiment after experiment have supported the theory. (Theory means something else in science. Look it up.)

HOWEVER, that's not to say that we may not find something that is wrong about it tomorrow, or the next day, and then the theory must be revised.

The theory of gravity is wrong. It works for very large objects ALMOST perfectly, but it breaks down for smaller objects, or objects moving quickly. So we break out the theory of relativity that tells us that space time is curved. But the theory of relativity is limited. It tells us about very small particles, but not the smallest in our universe. Quantum mechanics tells us that any object with mass that is in motion has a certain amount of uncertainty based on its mass and its velocity. That's why it's impossible for any human being to know both where an electron is and what its velocity is. In fact, the more you know about one, the less you can know about the other.

We "know" all these things, but they might be proven incorrect tomorrow!

So either accept that you can know something without proof, or accept that you know nothing. You can't have it both ways. :)

Offline mj2002

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #221 on: July 10, 2014, 03:23:20 AM »
Something people have mentioned, but that I don't want to get too deeply into (but felt moved to comment on) is the difference between "faith" and "knowledge". I've mentioned this before. I have faith God exists. Therefore I "know" God exists. I can't prove it.

Now, those familiar with the theory of knowledge will say "you can't know something that can't be proven!"

Well, scientifically, nothing can be ABSOLUTELY proven. All collected knowledge in science is stuff that has not yet been proven wrong. I'm not going to say "well evolution is just a theory", because that's moronic. Evolution is scientific FACT, because experiment after experiment have supported the theory. (Theory means something else in science. Look it up.)

HOWEVER, that's not to say that we may not find something that is wrong about it tomorrow, or the next day, and then the theory must be revised.

The theory of gravity is wrong. It works for very large objects ALMOST perfectly, but it breaks down for smaller objects, or objects moving quickly. So we break out the theory of relativity that tells us that space time is curved. But the theory of relativity is limited. It tells us about very small particles, but not the smallest in our universe. Quantum mechanics tells us that any object with mass that is in motion has a certain amount of uncertainty based on its mass and its velocity. That's why it's impossible for any human being to know both where an electron is and what its velocity is. In fact, the more you know about one, the less you can know about the other.

We "know" all these things, but they might be proven incorrect tomorrow!

So either accept that you can know something without proof, or accept that you know nothing. You can't have it both ways. :)
Uh, no.

There's a middle ground between accepting claims without proof, and knowing nothing. You can go with the explanation that is backed by the evidence that is available to you. It might ultimately not be true, but with the information available it is the best we have. If that means accepting that we 'know nothing', that's fine. It's better than accepting claims that can't be supported by evidence, because as I explained to you earlier, that is no better than fantasy and fiction.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #222 on: July 10, 2014, 03:32:58 AM »
It's better than accepting claims that can't be supported by evidence, because as I explained to you earlier, that is no better than fantasy and fiction.

*Shakes head* Man, you really don't understand, do you?

Just because something can't be proven doesn't mean it isn't true.

I could write pages on how simplistic the view that claims that can't be supported by evidence must be false is, but, I'll give you the abridged version.

In the 17th century, a number of free thinkers supported the idea that the stars were actually other suns, that the whole universe was full of stars. They couldn't support this with evidence. There was NO WAY to support these facts.

Did the fact that stars are other suns only begin to be true when it was possible to support it with evidence?

When I die and am accepted into the bosom of the Lord, should He in His wisdom choose to accept me (along with all believers and unbelievers alike, for His mercy is glorious and infinite) is that the only point at which the existence of God becomes real?

No, I can't prove God exists. I can't give you any evidence to suggest God exists that would be accepted by any credible scientist. But claims that can't be supported by scientific evidence are not necessarily untrue.

EDIT: Apologies, the last line, now deleted, was an unncessary inflammatory statement.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #223 on: July 10, 2014, 03:36:15 AM »
So either accept that you can know something without proof, or accept that you know nothing. You can't have it both ways. :)

I hate to be a yo-yo here. I really did intend to stay away from this discussion, but I really feel I must comment on this. I'm sure Virgil will have a similar objection, as he's demonstrated himself to be quite adept at this discussion, but I will be weighing in, and in what I hope is a more passive manner then before. I do not feel like engaging in another passive aggressive flame war, and I also don't want to be commenting as often as before.

With that out of the way... here goes. 

Mist, a binary position on whether things can be known is an entirely different thing to standards of knowledge. I don't know things without proof, I accept that some things are likely true based on my logic and reasoning and how it is applied to the world. For instance, there was a time where my understanding of the world would make the conclusion that the sea eventually goes off the edge of the world a reasonable one. Yes, I'm wrong, but at the time, what is available to me leads to that being the most likely conclusion. As my understanding of the world changes, so to do my conclusions.

This is how 'knowledge' evolves over time and our conclusions become more and more sophisticated. What you're proposing is that knowing something is an arbitrary, binary state. It isn't.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #224 on: July 10, 2014, 03:40:20 AM »
This is how 'knowledge' evolves over time and our conclusions become more and more sophisticated. What you're proposing is that knowing something is an arbitrary, binary state. It isn't.

Are you familiar with the theory of knowledge?

According to the theory of knowledge, you can only truly KNOW something that is TRUE. Since nothing can be ABSOLUTELY proven to be true, you cannot know anything.

You can accept that, or you can accept that you can "know" things that are not absolutely proven to be true.

If you accept the first, then you accept that you KNOW nothing. If you accept the second, then you accept that you can know things that can't be proven. Even things that can't be supported by evidence.

Therefore, I can know God exists without being able to prove it or provide evidence to suggest such a thing.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 03:42:02 AM by LostInTheMist »