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Author Topic: Do You Believe In God?  (Read 6663 times)

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Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #250 on: July 11, 2014, 12:51:07 PM »
Sorry I didn't get to this last night. Things came up, RL happens, etc. etc.

One thing to preface this. I'm not trying to convince anyone to believe what I believe. I'm merely trying to explain what I believe and WHY I beleive what I believe.

It's interesting that it's those who DON'T believe in God who are getting all preachy. *Smiles*

Also, quick disclaimer (so I guess, two things to preface this). When I write in bold, I'm not shouting.

Okay, let's begin.

On the note of the correlation between religiosity and generosity:
Correlation doesn't always equal causation, and I would be tempted to say that that is more down to the traditions of the society and the belief that you should always strive to help...which arguably doesn't come from religion. It comes from the knowledge that by actively helping society, you are in a way helping yourself and the society you live in get along. Without religion, you would still have good people doing good things.

I tend to agree with this. Also, I think a number of people equate the offeratory to generosity, giving to charity, etc., and the offeratory is a part of the tradition of the church.

Someone said secular morality was superior to religious morality at some point in here. I tend to disagree with that, except inasmuch as there are certain religious moralities that run contrary to the messages espoused in the Bible. I don't think anyone would have a problem with "Thou shalt not murder", but there is a sect of Christianity that believes that wealth gives you the right to rule. Because Jesus totally taught us that, I guess? I dunno. They're insane. The problem is when religious morality starts to become a dogma that must be imposed on all society for the "good" of society. This is where I have a problem.

On the note of the AA:
Oh, I know that. I was more using it as an example of an organisation that has a lot of strings attached to it that could, in the end, be very harmful to its participants...and there's also the fact that if you relapse, you're not classed as "completing" the program, and telling an addict that he has no power over it is oftentimes counterproductive to their self esteem and wellbeing, but that's a matter for another day. I was more using it as an example than anything else, haha. It's entirely possible that it helps people recover, but I think that the organisation is dishonest, predatory - it preys on peoples weaknesses to try and foist religion on them - and its methods are inherently harmful in the long run to a lot of people.

I'm a member of AA. I've been sober now two years and some months. I have relapsed (after about nine months of sobriety in that case), but that was me, not anything to do with the program. And I am powerless over my addiction. Thankfully God, and the group as a whole have been there for me, and they accepted me back, even after my relapse. And you wouldn't think it was harmful if you had been to my meetings. There are people there who have been sober for 10, 20, 30 years, some of whom, perhaps most of whom, would be dead now if it weren't for the program. And it's not like it was the first thing they tried. Many were dragged kicking and screaming to the program, or tried it as a "last thing before I die, so at least people will remember that I was trying to get better". You don't HAVE to believe in God, simply in a higher power. Most come to believe it is "god" however they define Him, but there are still a number of members of my group who see the higher power as sort of the "soul of the group" or something along those lines.

On the "Stalin was an Atheist" thing:
True, but as was mentioned, he didn't do anything in the name of Atheism. Atheism isn't a cause, it's simply a lack of belief...he was, quite frankly, a megalomaniac who wanted to be the "ultimate authority" in Russia, and the Cults of Personality are in themselves religion. But you know what? If there was a country that was an "atheist country," and forced its atheism on its citizens, most atheists would be opposed to that, since most atheists believe that the government has no business telling people what to believe and what not to believe when it comes to religion. Everybody has the right to hold their own religion, so long as it doesn't infringe on other peoples rights. Also, Hitler was raised a Roman Catholic. Whilst whether or not he stayed as a Roman Catholic is debatable, but he was at the least religious in some way (he made several mentions of "a higher power" and "Providence" in his speeches and Mein Kampf, and actively worked to "stamp out" atheism. He also blamed the Jews for a lot of things, but that was more a product of the times anti-Semitism than any specific religious views). And you know what? It doesn't bloody matter. Guilt by association is probably the worst way to determine whether somebody is correct or not. There are some situations, of course, when it's relevant but when saying "X also thought this and look at what HE did!" is perhaps the worst argument for or against either side in a religious debate, and when somebody pulls out "Mao/Hitler/Kim Jong Il "was an atheist," you know that they're just grasping at straws. Guess what? Martin Luther was originally Catholic, then Protestant, and with his book "The Jews And Their Lies" and his Anti-Semitic preaching arguably indirectly caused the Holocaust. So....kids in glass houses.

There are some people who have athiesm as a cause. ( http://ffrf.org/ )

And yeah. I'm not particularly proud of Martin Luther's anti-semetic stuff. (I'm a Lutheran. ELCA, not Missouri Synod) We teach that he was anti-semetic, but we don't teach anti-semetism. (The Missouri Synod might.... I dunno. They're the ultra-conservative branch of the Lutheran church in America. They cast out a bishop for attending an interfaith service after September 11th, though that had more to do with internal church politics than any genuine belief that interfaith services are evil.)

Knowledge. Ooh boy.

Ok. I think that we need to make a distinction here. Belief is a dichotomy; you either believe or you don't. There's no middle ground, and I assume that everybody here would agree with that. One is either a theist or an atheist, since that only makes a comment on whether you believe or not. Knowledge is also a dichotomy; you either know something or you do not know something. Again, there is no official "middle ground." Honestly, I think people are talking past each other here; what Lost In The Mist is saying is that you either know or you don't, and what I think everybody else is talking about is certainty. There are degrees of certainty that are attained with more and more conclusive evidence, which is the big difference between a scientific theory and a religious conjecture. Gravity, Evolution, Relativity, etc etc all explain all available evidence, are contradicted by none and make testable and - most importantly - falsifiable predictions and claims. So, we can be 99% Certain that every single time we drop a pen, it will fall since objects with mass attract. The general rule of thumb is "the less the mass, the less powerful the attraction." There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, of course (EG, Magnets), but that's because other forces are at play. That last 1% is reserved for any factor that we may not be aware of tampering with gravities workings.

I'm just gonna point out that while gravity is generally accurate for large objects, the smaller you get, the less accurate it gets. Relativity improves upon gravity, but as you get to areas of high gravity (like near a black hole, where density is infinite and gravity is so intense that it bends sunlight in such that it can't escape) even relativity breaks down.

Now. "Knowledge" only comes with a certain amount of certainty. That percentage varies from person to person, but the biggest thing here is that sometimes, science can be wrong, but science then changes its mind and figures out why it was wrong.

*Nods* And it does depend on how you define knowledge. Some people define knowledge as absolute certainty, in which case nothing can be truly "known", but I have serious problems with that particular definition.

[Side note: I think I saw mentioned that in the middle ages, people thought the world was flat. That's actually a common misconception; the Greeks knew the world was a sphere in the 3rd century BCE (though the concept had been around since the 6th), and Eratosthenes actually accurately calculated its size by using the lengths of shadows in two different locations to figure out its curvature; the measurement he used is not exactly known in modern figures, but it is estimated that his measurement was only wrong by a error margin of 5-15%. He was a smart cookie.]

Much of this knowledge was lost during the middle ages, and I truly believe that if you asked the average uneducated peasant (who had toiled on the same soil for the entirity of his pointless life) whether the world was flat, he'd say it was. I can't tell you what educated people thought. Some of them probably still thought the world was flat, since the Bible says it is, and a lot of "education" during the Dark Ages was based on religion. Anyone who rejected what the Bible said was a heretic, and was, at best, excommunicated. A lot were just executed.

Religion has done a lot of bad stuff. I'm not gonna deny it.

The difference between scientific knowledge and religious knowledge, Mist, is that scientific knowledge is demonstrable and testable. Religious knowledge is not. If you cannot test something, how can you be certain that it exists? Personal experiences have a hundred and one different explanations; there are stories of people waking up with demons in their rooms, being unable to move, from the middle ages....and yet nowadays we know that it is a common phenomenon known as "Sleep Paralysis," which is caused when a sleeper awakens in the middle of their REM cycle and their brain is slow in waking the body up and is still half asleep. Just an example, of course, but you get my point. But if you claim to know that a God exists, the burden of proof is on you. HOW do you know this God exists? Can we test it? Can we demonstrate it? Can we falsify it? If not, how can you actually claim to know, since there's no way of finding out if you're wrong? And why should anybody else believe you if you can't prove what you're claiming? Yes, people can believe incorrect things based on evidence, but that doesn't give people licence to just "Make Shit Up." You're only justified in believing something when you have evidence, and it isn't - as I think you're suggesting - up to other people to prove you wrong.

What I mean by "know" is different from what you know. But let's take what you said just above, your last sentence.

You're only justified in believing something when you have evidence, and it isn't - as I think you're suggesting - up to other people to prove you wrong.

To believe, is defined as: "to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so".

So I'm justified to believe in whatever the hell I want, and nobody can tell me otherwise. I don't have to justify my belief, and no, it's not up to you, or anyone else to "prove" me wrong. Especially since faith lies outside of science. You can no more prove the existence of God than you can prove His non-existence. It is not a matter of science. It is a matter of faith. I don't give half a penny that it can't be backed up, or that there is no evidence to suggest the existence of God. Lack of evidence doesn't mean lack of existence. The higgs-boson? Up until a few years ago, there was no evidence at all to suggest it existed. Except now scientists have seen evidence to suggest that it does exist. Other planets in other solar systems? Up to a few years ago, there was no evidence to suggest it existed. Yet they clearly exist. There's a lot that exists now that we can only detect with recent advances in science. Did it only spring into being when the ability to detect it came to be? Somehow I doubt it.

Okay, so maybe I confused people by using the word "know" to substitute "know" for "believe". They don't have the same meaning. There is no scientific evidence to suggest God exists.* This is the truth. God exists. This is my belief. This is my faith (see below.) The only way to prove this is to die and see if there really is something beyond. Unfortunately, that test cannot be performed and then reported on. Once you die, you've passed beyond. Whether into another life, an ether, an afterlife, or simply into nothingness, nobody can say.

* (There's plenty of philosophical evidence, I believe, but let's not even get into that debate, please?)

Tell you what.

I know that there's a teapot orbiting Jupiter. Nobodies ever seen it because it's invisible, and doesn't want us to be able to prove it, but I know because I've felt it in my life. By your logic, I wouldn't have to prove that. You'd have to disprove it, but it is by its very nature unfalsifiable.

Bingo. God is unfalsifiable. I don't need you to believe in God, but I do need you to accept that I have the right to believe in God's existence, even if you think it is foolish. Even if you reject it because there's no evidence. I have faith. Faith requres no scientific proof.

(Faith is defined as: "Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.")

I wonder whether you particular statement up there is intended to mock me? I'm really not certain whether to be offended that you compared God to an invisible teapot orbiting Jupiter. It's kinda a funny image really. FYI, I don't believe that God is an invisible teapot orbiting Jupiter. But with detailed enough measurements, you could prove or disprove whether there really was an inviisble teapot orbiting Jupiter, whereas you can't prove or disprove the existence of God, so the comparison eventually falls apart.

You can claim to know something, but that doesn't change the fact that without evidence, nobody has to take you seriously. Do you believe me when I say that there's a celestial teapot orbiting Jupiter? No? Well, why not? You believe that there's a deity out there somewhere who meddles in peoples lives, and you're expecting us to just take your word for it, so why is my word any different?

It isn't any different. I don't have to believe that there's a teapot orbiting Jupiter, but it's no skin off my nose if you believe. So why are you so threatened by my belief in God? I'm not going to force you to accept him. I'm honestly in this debate simply for fun. I don't honestly think I'm going to change anyone's mind. I just stated that I beleive in God at the start of this thread.

There's a quote that I think is applicable here:

"That which can be presented without evidence can be discarded without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens.

This simultaneously discards the God conjecture and solipsism, since there's no way to prove it but there's no way to disprove it, so until a way to test it comes about, there's no point worrying about it. You are right in that there is no way to test anything 100%, but there are still percentages. We can test and demonstrate gravity and evolution and relativity to 99.99% recurring, but we can't test God AT ALL. God is still on 0.01%, and that percentage will only rise as new evidence comes up.

Matters of faith rely on things other than science. Science can not (and should not) be used to test matters of faith. Matters of faith can not (and should not) be used (or stated) as science. I'll admit that some of my "associates" fired the opening salvo, trying to reject science because of religious doctrine. I am ashamed that those people can also be called Christians.

It's not faith vs. science.

It's not faith OR science.

It's faith AND science. (Picture a Venn Diagram. Now seperate the two circles so there is no overlap. Now label one circle "faith", and one circle "science". There you go. That's how much the two should overlap.)

To answer your question of why your statement is considered invalid: We can test evolution. We can test gravity. We CANNOT test God other than his supposed influences on reality (all of such tests having turned up negative, BTW), so saying that God definitely or at least probably exists requires evidence and justification on your part, which you have not offered. You can claim that you've felt God in your life, and that may be enough for YOU, but A) you could be wrong, and all we know of reality right now suggests that the likelihood is that you are, and B) we have no way of determining if you are telling the truth, if there's another explanation or if the cause of that experience was in fact a deity. You have NO evidence. And whilst your personal experience may be enough for you, personal experience - as unverifiable and untestable as it is - is not sufficient evidence for everybody else because there are 1001 different alternatives to the one you are proposing, and there's almost no way of figuring out for certain which one it is. So to answer your question: There are degrees of certainty and standards of evidence, and you claiming that you had a personal experience isn't even a blip on the graph unless you can prove that A) you had it and B) that it came from the deity you are claiming it came from....which, and I'm taking a wild stab in the dark here, I'm guessing you can't.

Nope. I can't prove it. But it's enough for me. As for your statement that "what we know of reality suggests that you are [wrong]".... Again, you're trying to use our knowledge of the world around us [universe, reality, whatever] to suggest that God doesn't exist. Unfortunately, there are simply some things science cannot test. This is one of those things. Science is not the end-all and be-all of multi-planar reality. Science can't test whether or not there are other universes. Science can't test whether or not there is a god. But as I mentioned above, just because there is no evidence that something exists doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Unless you are going to suggest that things only spring into existence once there is evidence of their existence, and until then, they did not exist. But I don't think you're going to make that claim, now are you? (And no, FYI, I am not making that claim either.)

Your entire position here is based on a fallacy, I'm sorry to say. You claimed in your first post last page that "faith" is the same as "knowledge." It isn't. Knowledge is believing something based on evidence. Faith - as used in religious context, so please don't try to play word games with the different meanings of "faith" - means "belief without evidence." You cannot have faith with evidence, since evidence removes the need for faith. You had a personal experience and are now believing on faith that this experiences cause was a deity of some kind. Now you have to prove it. I know I'm harping on about this, but if you want to convince others "your word" that you had a personal experience therefore God requires more justification than just your word if we're going to believe you. Going back to my teapot example....is my word enough for you? No. Of course it isn't. So why is your certainty any different from mine? Why should I accept your word, if you aren't willing to accept mine?

Heh. You misunderstood me. I was not equating faith with knowledge, but I was using MY definition of "know" to present my faith as certainty. I shouldn't have done that. I apologize for the confusion. Now EVIDENCE does not invalidate faith. PROOF invalidates faith.

But let's get one things straight:
I'm not asking you to believe me. I'm telling you what I believe.

You're telling me why I'm wrong.


You're the one here telling me what to believe.

If you believe something and want others to believe you that this thing is real, you better have proof other than "I felt it." That's like me saying "I know it because I feel it in my balls," or "I have a gut feeling." It's meaningless, because it's unfalsifiable and has been presented without evidence. If you went around believing everything without evidence, you would believe every idiotic and conflicting claim you came across. So how do you figure out which ones are justifiably believable and which aren't? By examining the available evidence and deciding whether or not it's probable - given the evidence available - whether it's true or not. Yeah, you could be wrong. But at least your conclusion was justified based on the information you were provided. Saying "Well, we can't know anything for sure" doesn't mean that all claims are equal. Knowledge and truth may be binary, but certainty is a tiered system, and there are things you are less certain of than others. And how do you gain certainty? Evidence and investigation. THAT is why your "knowledge" of God is not equal to our "knowledge" of gravity or evolution. We can test and demonstrate our knowledge and gain certainty, and show those results to other people. More, they can go off and do their own tests using a similar methodology and come up with the same conclusions. We cannot test your experience, and we cannot even verify that it actually happened. So how would the two claims be equal? In the court of existence, I find your deity not guilty of existing based on insufficient evidence to convict. I am NOT saying he doesn't exist...just that the evidence provided to me so far is inconclusive. You may appeal, but you must have better evidence than "I feel it in my heart" since that is inherently untestable and therefore meaningless when used to try and convince others of the validity of your belief. I am NOT saying your experience is meaningless full stop. Just that when you are trying to convince others that your position is correct, it means nothing because for all we know, you could be lying through your teeth and there is no way of verifying that you aren't.

But I'm not trying to convince others. I'm only trying to explain why I believe the way I do. Full stop. You (and a lot of others) are telling me I'm wrong and telling me why I'm wrong.

Again:
You (and a lot of others) are the one(s) telling me how to believe. Not the other way around.

Yes, you may claim to "know" a God exists, but HOW do you know? And how can we find out whether you are right or not? Humans are, after all, fallible. You could be wrong about your personal experience, and you could be wrong about a deity existing. How do we go about finding out? The only justifiable time to believe something is when you have evidence. A claim that is supported by evidence is not equal to one without evidence, especially when you're making a claim as extraordinary as an omnipotent, omniscient deity who cares about my personal sexual life and wants me to bow down and worship him or else I'll burn forever in the fires of hell (this bit is hyperbole; I'm not saying that that's what you believe). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and you seem to be trying to say that you don't need to present any evidence because you feel it in your heart. Well, that's not good enough to convince anybody else.

It's not my fault if it is enough to convince someone else. You mean it's not good enough to convince you. That's perfectly fine, especially since I am NOT trying to convince you. I am merely trying to state my beliefs.

So: Short version.

Belief is a dichotomy - you either believe or you don't.
Knowledge is a binary position - you either know or you don't.
Certainty is a ratchet system - you have degrees of certainty, which at some point turns into knowledge (for example, 80% is knowing and 79.9% is still not knowing for some people on some positions. It depends on the person.)
If you claim to know something, you better be ready to justify that "knowledge" with evidence, or people will not believe you.
Knowledge can be claimed, but isn't always justified. Believing something and claiming to "know" that it's true is unjustified because you have no way of knowing, or demonstrating it.

In fact, I would ask how you're so certain that you know that God exists, when you have no way of testing, demonstrating or falsifying that belief, when you could simply be wrong? A belief in God is not equal to people believing the Theory of Evolution, since the latter has mountains of evidence and the formers evidence is dubious, circumstantial and untestable at best.

So I think the real question isn't "DO you know?" It's "HOW do you know, and can we test it?"

Am I making any sense here?

You're making perfect sense. Do I know? By your definition of "know", then no. Do I believe? Yes. Why do I believe? Faith. Can you test it? No.

Am I trying to convince you I am right? No.

Are you trying to convince me I am wrong? Yes.

Is it going to work? No.

Why not? Because faith and science are two entirely seperate ways to look at the world.

Note, I beleive in evolution. I know evolution is the right way to look at the universe. I believe in gravity. Gravity is a good (albeit somewhat limited/inaccurate) way to look at the universe. I believe in relativity. Relativity is another good (albeit also limited/somewhat inaccurate) way to look at the universe.

I believe in God. God is a good (albeit totally non-scientific) way to look at the universe. (For me. Not necessarily for anyone else.)

Also, please know this. I am not trying to convince anyone I am right. In fact, that runs entirely contrary to my personal beliefs to do so. I don't go out and preach. I don't try to convince people to believe in God, or to "convert the heathens" or whatever. I think it's good if people have a spiritual portion of their lives, but if you're perfectly happy without spirituality (whatever form it may take) I think that's great.

Thanks for reading.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #251 on: July 11, 2014, 02:24:01 PM »
The "non believers getting preachy" bit:
Except...not really. We're trying to explain to you why your personal experience isn't good enough for us to believe as you believe. That isn't being preachy, and I - personally - am not trying to convince you to abandon your belief in God. I'm just trying to explain where I think the flaws in the arguments you're presenting are.

Secular Morality vs Religious Morality:
I don't want to get into this debate again - I've had it a lot recently - so I'll leave it at this:
Religious morality does not give you a system. It gives you a set of pronouncements that must be obeyed without question, and doesn't inform you of any process through which to evaluate your actions. Let's take your example. "Thou shalt not kill." Not "Thou Shalt Not Murder," the actual quote is "Kill." There IS a difference. That is a black and white code being applied to a grey world. I can think of several scenarios in which taking a life would be the right thing to do, if there were no other option. If somebody broke into your house and pointed a gun at you, and you had one pointed back at them, for example; what do you do? Hesitate and let him kill you? Lower the gun and let him rob you blind and then maybe kill you? Or shoot him in defence of you and your family? The problem with Christian Morality in particular is that it doesn't take into account the shades of grey in the world. Whilst I disagree with subjective or relative morality, I do believe in Situational Morality; that every situation changes what is morally good or bad. Religious morality does not reflect that or even take it into consideration. Furthermore, religious morality is oftentimes contradictory. "Thou Shalt Not Kill....unless God tells you to." So...if God told you to do something, you would have to do it, regardless of what it was or whether you thought it was right or wrong. And if you follow the Ten Commandments (Old Testament), you should also follow the other three hundred which involve stoning naughty children to death, killing the unbeliever and not wearing clothes of a different textile (I shit you not, that is in there).

Religious morality relies on faith and obedience to a higher power who could - for all you know - turn around and say that rape is A-OK and you would have to accept that, or reject that Gods morality. Religious morality focuses on black and white, outdated laws in a world that has long evolved past that text and is full of shades of grey. I agree that some secular moral systems are severely lacking as well, which is why I personally have settled on the Secular Humanist moral system. Hell, even the New Testaments "Do unto others" is flawed; that would be imposing your preferences and whatnot onto other people. The golden rule should actually be "Do unto others as THEY would like done unto them." In short...I reject religious morality because I do not think that faith and unquestioning obedience to a higher power is a good basis for morality, especially when it's obedience to a set of outdated black and white laws. I prefer to base my morality on what is harmful and helpful to other people, and on building the kind of society I would like to live in...and that, in my mind, is a far better way of doing things than referring to an outdated, contradictory, oftentimes barbaric 2000 year old book. It was, after all, religious morality that led to the Witch Burnings, the Crusades, the Holocaust and the current social injustices in Afghanistan. But that's just my opinion. Religious people can do good, but that is not because of religious morality. In fact, many of them are more moral than their holy book, simply because they make the effort to try and reason away the bad bits of the bible that they know are horrible. So how are they reasoning what bits are good and what bits are bad? Because the system they are using obviously doesn't come from the bible if it is being used on the bible.

The AA:
I didn't say that it didn't help people, but the fact of the matter is that its organisation is dishonest - it claims success rates that are dubious at best to try and entice people in - and tells people to submit to a higher power, which inherently means that it's trying to prey on peoples weakened, desperate states. As far as I'm concerned, an addict should be given power, not have it taken away. It's completely ass-backwards. Yeah, it helps some people but I know some people who were more harmed than helped by the AA, and haven't fully recovered. Some AA groups will be better than others, of course, but I find the whole idea morally reprehensible.

Atheism as a cause:
And they're wrong. Atheism is simply a lack of a belief, nothing more, nothing less. You can't do something in the name of a lack of a belief, can you? It just so happens that a lot of atheists agree on certain things and get together to promote those goals, but atheism itself is not a cause or a goal or an ambition. It is just a position on a single question.

Knowledge and absolute certainty:
As do I, but I included the qualifier that what people consider "knowledge" is inherently subjective to that person. People will be convinced of different things at different levels of certainty, regardless of what other people think of their methods.

Dark Age education and excommunication:
An example of their religious morality. But I've already covered that.

"To believe, is defined as: to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so."
I disagree whole-heartedly. To believe something is to simply accept it as true. Whether you are justified in that belief is a whole different matter. Even if you had absolute, irrefutable proof of something, you would still have to believe it since you can't know something and not believe it. Knowledge is a subset of belief, and you can't have knowledge without believing it; to believe something is to accept it as true, and doesn't make any comment on whether or not that belief is justified or not.

"So I'm justified to believe in whatever the hell I want" and "Lack of evidence doesn't mean lack of existence."
I'm sorry, but in my view you're not. You're right in that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, which is why I'm not a "Hard" Atheist, but not knowing doesn't give you the freedom to just make shit up. The only time to believe something is when enough evidence is presented to justifiably make that conclusion. The default position is always "I do not believe unless given evidence," not "I'm gonna believe this until it's proven wrong." That's shifting the burden of proof no matter which way you slice it, which is the wrong way to go about things. If there's no evidence either way of anything, the default position is always to disbelieve it until evidence presents is discovered. Do you believe in bigfoot? The Yeti? The Loch Ness Monster? El Chupekabra? The Jersey Devil? Bloody Mary? Slender Man? There's no conclusive evidence either way for them being real or fictional, so why not believe in them as well until they're proven false? Why is a deity any different?

Philosophical evidence:
Philosophy isn't evidence any more than Quantum Mechanics are. Something can make logical sense or even be quantum mechanically possible, but that doesn't make any comment on its likelihood. Something can be logically and philosophically sound and still be wrong or make no sense, as somebody on a previous page so aptly demonstrated. Philosophy =/= proof.

"Faith requires no scientific proof."
And that's exactly my problem with it; believing something without proof is, in my eyes, unreasonable since you have no reason to believe in it whatsoever. You say you need faith, but why do you have faith? What convinced you to have faith in the first place?

The Teapot:
That remark wasn't meant to mock you, it was a ridiculous example to illustrate a point. I could have used the Flying Spaghetti Monster as well, since both serve the same purpose.

"But with detailed enough measurements, you could prove or disprove whether there really was an inviisble teapot orbiting Jupiter, whereas you can't prove or disprove the existence of God, so the comparison eventually falls apart."
It really doesn't. Do you have a test that would determine whether or not there is an invisible sentient teapot in orbit around Jupiter? What would the proper measurements be? How would we go about testing? We have no way of finding out either way....yet. But one day, we may well have a way to see. Why can't the same be true of your deity? Why are the two different? Just because we don't have a way of testing it now doesn't mean we'll never have a way. The analogy stands strong, but in hindsight I should probably have gone with the FSM.

On the matter of God being outside science:



What I think you're talking about is the "Twin Magesterium," which is complete crap. Excuse my language - I'm not trying to be aggressive or rude here - but I've heard that a lot, and it annoys me no end for three major reasons:

1) A universe with a creator - particularly one who actively takes part in its internal workings (EG, answering prayer, punishing the bad and rewarding the good, etc etc) - would look and work vastly differently to one without. For one, if this universe does indeed have a creator, that's a huge answer as to the beginning of existence (if that's even a valid statement), and science is extremely interested in finding that out. So God himself is not outside the purview of science if s/he was indeed the creative force that most religious people claim s/he is.

2) As long as religious organisations and healers are preaching that they can fix problems more effectively than scientific methods, then science has an active interest in seeing whether these claims hold water. As you note, religion "fired the first salvo," but don't expect science to quietly slink away while Religion gets to hold a protective shield that defends it from all criticism.

3) You can be damn sure that if evidence surfaced tomorrow that suggested a divine being or creator, that "two spheres" nonsense would be dropped pretty bloody quickly by the religious as they scrambled to cry from the rooftops "Science proved us right!"

No way to test God:
That we know of. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, since whether or not there is a deity of some kind is surely one of the biggest questions in the universe, and is a fundamental question that we need to answer in order to fully understand our reality. And I am afraid that it is indeed "Faith or science." Science does not rely on faith. Science relies on testable evidence, and if you follow the scientific method correctly, you cannot take anything on faith.

"As for your statement that "what we know of reality suggests that you are [wrong]".... Again, you're trying to use our knowledge of the world around us [universe, reality, whatever] to suggest that God doesn't exist...."
That's not what I said. I said that what we know of reality suggests that your "personal experience" could be wrong. We know that the brain can misfire and hallucinate, or people can see things that aren't actually there or misinterpret or even remember dreams and swear blind that they happened. Occhams Razor cuts pretty nicely here; the simplest solution is usually the best. Which is simpler? That there is an omnipotent supernatural entity out there somewhere that decided to touch you personally, or that you're just mistaken as to the nature of your personal experience? All that aside was supposed to mean was that what we know of our reality at the moment would suggest to an external observer, at least, that you are simply mistaken.

"Science is not the end-all and be-all of multi-planar reality. Science can't test whether or not there are other universes. Science can't test whether or not there is a god."
Actually, I think you misunderstand science. Just because we don't know how to test that fact yet doesn't mean that it's impossible to test, and science always chases those answers regardless of whether or not we'll ever actually get them. But I ask again...why believe anything without evidence that it is actually true? You're right in that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but that does not make an unsubstantiated position justifiable. You may be right or wrong, but why did you choose the Yahweh over Allah, or Buddah (since he was deified in some Buddhist cults) or Krishnu or Zeus or Odin or Ra or Melqart or even Julius Caesar since he was deified after his death? Surely all of those gods don't have evidence against them either, so why did you choose the Christian God over all the rest of them?

"You're telling me why I'm wrong."
No, I'm not. I never said that you were wrong about God existing. I have been careful to avoid claiming that no gods exist. I am simply explaining to you why the non-believers in this thread don't believe you. There's a difference between explaining why we remain unconvinced by your reasoning and telling you that you're wrong. I am telling you where I think certain bits of your reasoning are wrong (for example, that whole "Twin Magesterium" business) but I have never once said that you are wrong that a deity exists...just why I personally don't believe you. Once again, saying "I don't believe you" isn't the same as saying "I think you're wrong."

"Are you trying to convince me that I'm wrong?"
No. I'm explaining why I don't believe/disagree with you. Just like you're doing with me.

Faith and science are different outlooks on the world:
Whilst I would agree with that, it does not mean that they do - or even should - stick to their own little corners. They are mutually exclusive, which inherently means that they cannot easily coexist, if at all.

Spirituality:
But why is it a good thing? I've gotten through most of my life without any sort of spirituality and I'm no worse for wear. What do you even mean by "spirituality," since it's such a vague term that it's utterly meaningless unless given some clarification.


I do want to clarify again; I am NOT saying that you are wrong in your belief in God, just that I do not believe you and I am trying to explain why. I do think that certain positions you hold are wrong, but that's the nature of holding conflicting opinions. However, I do want to point out that if you say that you "know" God exists, people are within their rights to ask "why," and point out why your reasons may or may not be insufficient for them to agree with you. Once again; saying that they don't believe you is not the same as saying that you're wrong, and saying that they think that you're wrong about certain things is not exactly something to take offence over.

Also: If any of this comes across as aggressive or condescending or anything like that, I apologise. It is not my intention.

Thank you for reading.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 02:31:45 PM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #252 on: July 11, 2014, 03:59:31 PM »
I just... Man. Long post. And yes, quite a bit of it comes off as condescending, so I accept your apology. You'll forgive me if I skip the quoting and just go in relatively chronological order, and only hit on the salient points. I gotta be quick.

And there are two translations. One is "thou shalt not kill", and the other (actually the more correct one) is "thou shalt not murder". Killing is okay; the Bible definitely makes that perfectly clear. Just killing without a reason (presumably justified by God) is not.

As for the definition of belief, that's a definition, not an interpretation. That's an EXACT definition from Dictionary.com.

I absolutely am justified to believe whatever I want. I'm not harming you with what I believe, am I? So long as it's my own belief and I don't go and declare a Crusade to force you to accept my beliefs (or whatever the modern day equivalent is) I'm not harming you by believing what I believe.

"Philosophical" was just a word I used for "non-scientific". But since I can tell you're a firm believer that there is nothing beyond science, I'm not going to bother trying to define it for you.

I don't recall saying that I/we/anyone NEEDS faith. I think it's nice to have faith. But that's me, not you. Obviously you're doing just fine without it.

The invisible sentient teapot would have a gravitational field. You'd need an incredibly super-accurate tool for measurement, but you could measure its effects. Or you could surround jupiter with a hemispherical shell to determine just what is orbiting it. Yes, you'd destroy all of Jupiter's moons and it would cost a ridiculous amount, but it's a brute force method. Look, all I'm saying is that there IS a way to determine that your teapot is orbiting Jupiter or not.

On the "Twin Magesterium", or the "Non-overlapping Magisteria", I think you're a Dawkins, and I'm a Gould. I'm gonna put down arguments, all of which you will reject as invalid, because they are faith and philosophy-based statements, but I may as well put them down.

1) Graham Greene said "You canít conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God." Unless you know how God thinks or acts (which neither you, nor I do) you may not recognize his hand in the world around you.

2) Every organization has its crazies. I'm not one of the faith healer types, and I support all scientific efforts to discredit these whackos who do far more harm than good in our society. God doesn't act through any sort of human vessel. They're trying to make themselves more important than they are. They are not "true believers".

3) Evidence won't surface tomorrow, or the next day, or ever that can prove the existence of God, so this statement is meaningless.

Again, there never will be a way to test God. You come up with a way to test God, and find funding for it, and I'll participate in your study. Hell, I'll even co-author a paper with you, whatever the result comes up as.

YHWH (or as you spell it, Yahweh) is the same God as Allah. For all I know, all these Gods are the same person or entity in a different manifestation, something more suited for the various cultures to which He appeared. I don't know that, but I like to think it.

Faith and Science are not mutually exclusive. It is extremely narrow-minded to think that you have to choose one or the other. I tell you that I have faith in the existence of God. That's faith. But I use scientific reasoning to explain the physical world around me. Evolution, the laws of gravity and relativity, the scientific method to test my ideas. Those ideas that can be tested by science, that is. My Dad is a microbiologist, he has a PhD from UCLA, and he believes in God. My Mom has a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, and she believes in God. So you're looking there at two scientists, both of whom taught me a world of reason and investigation, and both of whom believe in God, as do I.

Let me try to explain it as simply as I can. And keep in mind that this is just what I believe to be true. I know I can't prove it, and I know that you'll reject it. The world is a duality.... There's the physical world we can perceive around us, the people, the plants, the air, the interactions of matter and energy. This world, the "real world" as most would call it, is the realm of science. Then there's a second world, a world of spiritual energies, of faith, and belief, and power greater than any of us can imagine. This world cannot be perceived, or tested, but it's there all the same. God bridges the divide between these two worlds.

In "The Republic" Plato describes Socrates speaking of the world of the cave and the world beyond the cave. This is KIND OF a similar thing, mostly in terms of the belief that the world we perceive is not the only world there is.

By spirituality, I mean some being, entity, or power greater than yourself. But when I say being, I don't mean your mother or any human being, or whale, or whatever. I mean a deity of some sort. And I mean the same thing by power. And like I said, I think it's good to have spirituality, and it helps me, but plenty of people get through life just fine without spirituality.

The difficulty here is that I believe, and so arguments of spirituality and faith have a place, and are reasonable arguments. Whereas you do not believe, so to you, the arguments that I can present are completely invalid.

But the main thing is that you reject the idea that faith and science can co-exist, whereas I think they can co-exist, since they do co-exist in my life and in my family's life. Either we're more creative than you, or, from your point of view, we're able to entertain cognitive dissonance more easily. So your scientific points are considered, evaluated, and quite reasonable, though they have no bearing on faith or the spiritual world. Meanwhile my arguments are dismissed because, like I said, you have no faith, and you do not believe faith and science can co-exist. Which means that I'm certainly not getting anywhere, and you're certainly not getting anywhere.

And there we go, less than 60 seconds to spare. I'll catch you later on.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 04:29:10 PM by LostInTheMist »

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #253 on: July 11, 2014, 04:03:19 PM »
I have to point out that many atheists are formerly of faith.  I am just such a one.  I grew up in the Catholic church, eventually became protestant, then non-denominational, then basically Deist, before finally giving it all up completely.  I had what are called spiritual experiences in my lifetime--I now accept them as the normal workings of my brain when in certain emotional situations.  Then again, people sometimes convert from atheism to faith--C.S. Lewis is an example of that.  We go on our judgement, and everyone has different experiences.

I read a poll that showed the average atheist knew more about the Bible than the average Christian.  This is, I believe they conjectured, because many atheists were formerly of faith and had read their Bibles from cover to cover, and what they read therein was enough to stop their faith cold.  It did so for me.  I couldn't rectify the misogyny, genocide, jealousy, slavery, and rape that was condoned simply because God said so to his chosen people.  I tried to ignore the Old Testament, but Jesus said every bit of the law had to be obeyed--other than what he said he changed.

I know there are much more liberal branches of Christianity.  For several years I was actually on the church council of a United Church of Christ branch.  A nearby pastor of the same branch was transgendered--you don't get much more liberal than that.  But at the core was still the precepts of a religion...a set of rules and beliefs in the real world, nominally based on things that happened in the past--or at least what people who lived in the past taught.

And that is what I, personally, fail now to accept.  God can not be proven or disproven, but religions can.  I have studied the major religions of the world--Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Sikhism.  Each one makes claims; not all are exclusive of one another.  Hindus believe there are many paths to the mountain of enlightenment, so they accept other religions; in fact, many Hindus believe that both Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha were avatars of a god, much like the avatars in their own religion.  Some Buddhists--the more strict ones--still follow Buddha's belief that there are no gods...yes, Buddha himself was an atheist.  Theravada Buddhists believe he became a deity, and it is the most widely practiced form of Buddhism...but what I am trying to point out here is that some of these religions get along fine with other religions.  Then there are the ones who don't.  At this point in my personal search for questions about a deity, I had been of the mind that all religions are simply facets of worship of the same singular deity.  Even Hindus, with their pantheism, still believe all their 500,000 gods are simply aspects of Brahmin, the overarching spirit of everything.  But I found that there are some religions that simply don't mesh with one another.  Therefore, not all religions can be true.

The question my mind formulated next was, naturally--'If some religions are false...can all of them be false?'  Then, next--'How can I prove which ones are false?'  The answer is the scientific method...at least, inquiry, as used in courtrooms and policework.  Weeding out the testable and verifiably false claims that religions make.

This is where my belief in most religions faltered completely.  I found so many inconsistencies, falsehoods, and errors in not only the Bible, but the Koran, the Baghavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching...all books written in the Bronze Age by men who knew nothing of modern science.  They attempted to explain the reasons for the world around them, and their hope for a better future, as best they could with the means available to them.  Their claims were not all made in the supernatural realm, but in the realm of nature, which is what science studies.  And if some of these books could be wrong, could all of their writings be wrong?

Once I stripped away what was verifiably false, what was left was largely philosophy.  Thomas Jefferson did this with the Bible, by the way--he claimed he took out all the mythology and fables, and made it a much more streamlined book.  With my ability to check into the major religions, I saw that they all were fairly simplistic and similar...treat others with respect, take care of yourself, always try to improve yourself...fairly commonsensical concepts for modern humanity--but perhaps they weren't so commonsensical in the Bronze Age.  They served their purpose to act as a sort of glue to adhere civilization then.  But as the drafters of the Declaration of Independence said in the Age of Reason--We hold these truths to be seelf-evident--these tenets basic to all religions are so basic not because of any particular religion, but basic human nature.

Now, with religions stripped away, what was I to do about my belief in God?  Religion itself had been my rationalization and explanation of God, and without them, why believe in a god in the first place?  For my purposes, everything observable was rationally explained by modern understanding, and I didn't need Bronze Age sensibilities to form my opinions on anything.  So I ceased believing in deities altogether.

I agree that there are rather vacuous examples of some religions...the Westboro Baptist Church being a good one.  But when all religions claim just as vehemently as the next that their faith is true, even diametrically opposed ones, how does one know which is true?  My conclusion is that none were true.  All based their beliefs on feelings; emotions.

I think that most atheists discussing and debating here are of a similar mind when it comes to all religions of the world.  There may or may not be a deity or deities, but what religion provides us with is unconvincing of their claims.  What strikes me as unfortunate is that, for the religious, they cannot have that sensible skepticism that is the foundation of science.  Faith precludes skepticism.  It does not allow you to doubt or question; it demands you believe without proof, or the entire enterprise is moot.  This is the core reason for so much lack of understanding between those of faith and those without.  There can be no rectifying it--this, if anything, is a binary decision, a venn diagram where there is no common ground.  Not the question of there being a god, but the question of following a religion or faith.  The ancient ones are disprovable, and the more modern ones, like Mormonism or Scientology, are transparently fictitious.  For me, there is no need to disprove a deity--the moorings of a deity are religion, and for me and many atheists, when the moorings are removed, there is no need to expect the existence of one.

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #254 on: July 11, 2014, 04:21:38 PM »
Religious morality does not give you a system. It gives you a set of pronouncements that must be obeyed without question, and doesn't inform you of any process through which to evaluate your actions. Let's take your example. "Thou shalt not kill." Not "Thou Shalt Not Murder," the actual quote is "Kill." There IS a difference. That is a black and white code being applied to a grey world. I can think of several scenarios in which taking a life would be the right thing to do, if there were no other option. If somebody broke into your house and pointed a gun at you, and you had one pointed back at them, for example; what do you do? Hesitate and let him kill you? Lower the gun and let him rob you blind and then maybe kill you? Or shoot him in defence of you and your family?

You've got that the wrong way round I'm afraid. The Hebrew verb in question (unfortunately I can't seem to type it without breaking E's formatting, but it's generally transliterated as retzach) can be translated to a lot of different things but it's primary translation is "murder". When killing which isn't murder is mentioned a different verb is used (n-k-h).

Throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, Torah, Hebrew Bible and pretty much all materials relating to them it's repeatedly made clear that not all killing is a sin. The change to "thou shall not kill" is a relatively modern development.

The problem with Christian Morality in particular is that it doesn't take into account the shades of grey in the world. Whilst I disagree with subjective or relative morality, I do believe in Situational Morality; that every situation changes what is morally good or bad. Religious morality does not reflect that or even take it into consideration.

I touched on this in my previous post about morality, but there's nothing exclusive about Christian or Religious morality in putting forward moral absolutism. To give the most obvious example, Kant... arguably the most powerful and influential secular ethicist... based his entire system around the fact that moral duties could be universalised. Thus his infamous view that because it was always wrong to lie, one should tell a murderer the location of his next (presumed) victim. There are a great many schools of philosophical thought that hold that there are absolute moral rights and wrongs regardless of circumstances.

Offline Mathim

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #255 on: July 11, 2014, 04:39:36 PM »
You've got that the wrong way round I'm afraid. The Hebrew verb in question (unfortunately I can't seem to type it without breaking E's formatting, but it's generally transliterated as retzach) can be translated to a lot of different things but it's primary translation is "murder". When killing which isn't murder is mentioned a different verb is used (n-k-h).

Throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, Torah, Hebrew Bible and pretty much all materials relating to them it's repeatedly made clear that not all killing is a sin. The change to "thou shall not kill" is a relatively modern development.

I touched on this in my previous post about morality, but there's nothing exclusive about Christian or Religious morality in putting forward moral absolutism. To give the most obvious example, Kant... arguably the most powerful and influential secular ethicist... based his entire system around the fact that moral duties could be universalised. Thus his infamous view that because it was always wrong to lie, one should tell a murderer the location of his next (presumed) victim. There are a great many schools of philosophical thought that hold that there are absolute moral rights and wrongs regardless of circumstances.

I think there's enough of an overarching snafu of translations and whatnot to render the entire argument about that and other things (such as the translation of 'alma' meaning 'young maiden' rather than 'virgin' when it refers to Mary), that this all should just be disregarded as a waste of time. Translations, interpretations...the fact that there are so many discrepancies should render the entire mythos of a holy book entirely moot because it's impossible to be objective about it, it can only be looked at subjectively and therein lies the entire conflict.

Offline Hurricane

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #256 on: July 11, 2014, 04:56:23 PM »
The "non believers getting preachy" bit:
Except...not really. We're trying to explain to you why your personal experience isn't good enough for us to believe as you believe. That isn't being preachy, and I - personally - am not trying to convince you to abandon your belief in God. I'm just trying to explain where I think the flaws in the arguments you're presenting are.

Also: If any of this comes across as aggressive or condescending or anything like that, I apologise. It is not my intention.

I think I'm going to have to call BS on that Verge ol' buddy...

The entire tone of your posts make it clear that you're convinced that you're "right" and that any other position needs to be ridiculed and torn down. Have enough respect for other people to understand that they don't have to believe the same things that you believe, and that doesn't make their beliefs invalid.

I strongly suspect that you're the kind of person who would argue vehemently for Gay marriage, even though gay sexual relationships are just a tiny minority percentage of the sexual pairings in society. Should Gay marriage be denied by society simply because there are less long-term benefits to society by accepting such a union?

I believe in God. I have personally lived through some moments in my life when I'm sure that God was present. Some of those moments were my darkest, and my faith (habitually the very last tool I reach for in my coping toolkit) was a surprising source of comfort and strength. I don't care if you don't believe in God, but I do take genuine offense at your tone which seems to be stridently suggesting that belief in God or religion is somehow not "up to snuff" with scientific belief or intelligent thought.

For the record, the Judeo-Christian religious tradition is the basis for all of western society. You would dismiss those traditions in favor  of a kind of system of "moral relativism". Under your rules anybody could conceivably be justified in doing literally anything at all, given the right circumstances. Out of money? Steal. Sexually frustrated? Rape. Annoyed by somebody you don't like? Murder.

The core of the Third Reich was a new and unique religion based around Teutonic myth and weird, mis-guided social and pseudo-scientific beliefs and new age mysticism. And that's a lesson to be acutely aware of: religious precepts based on "mortal" foundations have no social staying power. That's why the power of religious tenets is so important - they don't change based on current context. And to me, "moral relativism" is even worse. Today's political headlines are rife with politicians and governments doing whatever they want to serve their own self-interests, regardless of moral constraints. Russia in the Ukrane - Obama using the IRS to attack conservative groups...

And before it gets said again, I've heard all the diatribes about the Crusades and the Inquisition before. Those happened a long time ago. To truly be fair in such a comparison, one should stack up the countless good/kind/beneficial deeds that are accomplished by those with religious faith every day against the bad examples and there's no question in my mind that the good massively outweighs the bad.

Here's something to think about - the Old Testament of the Bible gave us 10 Commandments. The New Testament gave us only 1 - love each other.

Not a bad rule, huh?

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The AA:
I didn't say that it didn't help people, but the fact of the matter is that its organisation is dishonest - it claims success rates that are dubious at best to try and entice people in - and tells people to submit to a higher power, which inherently means that it's trying to prey on peoples weakened, desperate states. As far as I'm concerned, an addict should be given power, not have it taken away. It's completely ass-backwards. Yeah, it helps some people but I know some people who were more harmed than helped by the AA, and haven't fully recovered. Some AA groups will be better than others, of course, but I find the whole idea morally reprehensible.

This is really upsetting to me. You should get to know some addicts. I mean it - actually get to know them before you write stuff like this. Especially when the person that you're discussing it with tells you that they are an alcoholic and that the program works for them.

You seem to be the worst sort of bigot in that you simply cannot allow other people to hold beliefs or values that don't somehow align with yours. Seriously - try to learn some respect for others.

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Atheism as a cause:
And they're wrong. Atheism is simply a lack of a belief, nothing more, nothing less. You can't do something in the name of a lack of a belief, can you? It just so happens that a lot of atheists agree on certain things and get together to promote those goals, but atheism itself is not a cause or a goal or an ambition. It is just a position on a single question.

Then why attack those of us with faith by claiming that the positions are untenable? Who are you trying to convince? Be more honest with yourself - Atheism is a cause. If a person chooses not to eat pickles, nobody rails against them because of that choice. But if religion has a place in your life, jerks come pouring out of the woodwork to tells people of faith that "God can't be proven blah blah blah." I repeat my previous point - how about just having some respect for other people?

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"So I'm justified to believe in whatever the hell I want" and "Lack of evidence doesn't mean lack of existence."
I'm sorry, but in my view you're not. You're right in that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, which is why I'm not a "Hard" Atheist, but not knowing doesn't give you the freedom to just make shit up. The only time to believe something is when enough evidence is presented to justifiably make that conclusion. The default position is always "I do not believe unless given evidence," not "I'm gonna believe this until it's proven wrong." That's shifting the burden of proof no matter which way you slice it, which is the wrong way to go about things. If there's no evidence either way of anything, the default position is always to disbelieve it until evidence presents is discovered. Do you believe in bigfoot? The Yeti? The Loch Ness Monster? El Chupekabra? The Jersey Devil? Bloody Mary? Slender Man? There's no conclusive evidence either way for them being real or fictional, so why not believe in them as well until they're proven false? Why is a deity any different?

I'll say it again - have some respect for other people as sovereign individuals. Some people are gay but the vast majority are straight. There's no scientific way to "prove" that they are gay, so should their sexual orientation be ignored or denied? Isn't it enough that they simply say "this is what I am, or what I believe?"

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Philosophical evidence:
Philosophy isn't evidence any more than Quantum Mechanics are. Something can make logical sense or even be quantum mechanically possible, but that doesn't make any comment on its likelihood. Something can be logically and philosophically sound and still be wrong or make no sense, as somebody on a previous page so aptly demonstrated. Philosophy =/= proof.

Except that we have centuries of social tradition that shows the validity of the Judeo-Christian social traditions, which are religious traditions. Western civilization (and most especially America) would not exist without our particular religious history. To be ignorant of that fact, or to reject the religious history is, in my opinion to put ourselves in danger of losing touch with some of the truly unique characteristics of our country and it's place in human society. 

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"Faith requires no scientific proof."
And that's exactly my problem with it; believing something without proof is, in my eyes, unreasonable since you have no reason to believe in it whatsoever. You say you need faith, but why do you have faith? What convinced you to have faith in the first place?

I was first aware of the presence of God when I got married. The day was powerfully moving and touching in a way that I can't really define any other way. My faith re-asserted itself with the birth of my first child. It was a troubled pregnancy, and the labor was risky. I was almost overwhelmed by the stress, and in a moment of need I found my way to the small chapel in the hospital. I sat in the pews and prayed for a little bit and found a reserve of strength and calm that I have rarely felt before or since. I did the same thing on 9/11 - faced with something so overwhelming and personally overpowering I asked for help from a higher power, and than help was (I feel) granted.

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The Teapot:
That remark wasn't meant to mock you, it was a ridiculous example to illustrate a point. I could have used the Flying Spaghetti Monster as well, since both serve the same purpose.

"But with detailed enough measurements, you could prove or disprove whether there really was an inviisble teapot orbiting Jupiter, whereas you can't prove or disprove the existence of God, so the comparison eventually falls apart."
It really doesn't. Do you have a test that would determine whether or not there is an invisible sentient teapot in orbit around Jupiter? What would the proper measurements be? How would we go about testing? We have no way of finding out either way....yet. But one day, we may well have a way to see. Why can't the same be true of your deity? Why are the two different? Just because we don't have a way of testing it now doesn't mean we'll never have a way. The analogy stands strong, but in hindsight I should probably have gone with the FSM.

Sorry, but if you really think that you weren't trying to be insulting then perhaps you should take a long look at your own communication style. I feel that you were trying to be deliberately insulting. We have telescopes that can look at Jupiter. I don't know of any telescope that can look at God, unless perhaps they are all looking at God, and our perceptions are simply too limited to perceive God's presence.

On the matter of God being outside science:

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What I think you're talking about is the "Twin Magesterium," which is complete crap. Excuse my language - I'm not trying to be aggressive or rude here - but I've heard that a lot, and it annoys me no end for three major reasons:

Once again: yes, you are trying to be both aggressive and rude. Check yourself bro...

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1) A universe with a creator - particularly one who actively takes part in its internal workings (EG, answering prayer, punishing the bad and rewarding the good, etc etc) - would look and work vastly differently to one without. For one, if this universe does indeed have a creator, that's a huge answer as to the beginning of existence (if that's even a valid statement), and science is extremely interested in finding that out. So God himself is not outside the purview of science if s/he was indeed the creative force that most religious people claim s/he is.

I guess I'd be interested in hearing what form you think the "active participation" takes. There is no explanation for the Big Bang, is there. How do you suppose that happened? What was the state of the universe before the Big Bang? And how about the formation of life on Earth? The spontaneous formation of the protein sequences needed to form life without some sort of external intervention would be as likely as the same person willing the mega-millions lottery hundreds of times in a row. Think about that. Not just once. Not twice, but hundreds of times. Wouldn't the formation of such proteins be something of a miracle?

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2) As long as religious organisations and healers are preaching that they can fix problems more effectively than scientific methods, then science has an active interest in seeing whether these claims hold water. As you note, religion "fired the first salvo," but don't expect science to quietly slink away while Religion gets to hold a protective shield that defends it from all criticism.

Aren't there an equal number of charlatans on the "science" side of this argument? I've heard hucksters speaking in the name of "science" claim any number of things that would either cure all my ills or else lead all of society to impending disaster. *cough*climate change*cough*

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No way to test God:
That we know of. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, since whether or not there is a deity of some kind is surely one of the biggest questions in the universe, and is a fundamental question that we need to answer in order to fully understand our reality. And I am afraid that it is indeed "Faith or science." Science does not rely on faith. Science relies on testable evidence, and if you follow the scientific method correctly, you cannot take anything on faith.

Sorry, but I think that's oversimplistic. You could say "I prefer not to take anything on faith." But once again, it's entirely possible for a person who pursues science to believe in God. This is yet another example of you crossing over the boundary and aggressively asserting that people have to agree with your views. We don't.

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"As for your statement that "what we know of reality suggests that you are [wrong]".... Again, you're trying to use our knowledge of the world around us [universe, reality, whatever] to suggest that God doesn't exist...."
That's not what I said. I said that what we know of reality suggests that your "personal experience" could be wrong. We know that the brain can misfire and hallucinate, or people can see things that aren't actually there or misinterpret or even remember dreams and swear blind that they happened. Occhams Razor cuts pretty nicely here; the simplest solution is usually the best. Which is simpler? That there is an omnipotent supernatural entity out there somewhere that decided to touch you personally, or that you're just mistaken as to the nature of your personal experience? All that aside was supposed to mean was that what we know of our reality at the moment would suggest to an external observer, at least, that you are simply mistaken.

Do your parents love you? Do you love them? Can you prove it? Maybe it's just a hormonal imbalance, or a misfiring neuron or a persistent hallucination...

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"Science is not the end-all and be-all of multi-planar reality. Science can't test whether or not there are other universes. Science can't test whether or not there is a god."
Actually, I think you misunderstand science. Just because we don't know how to test that fact yet doesn't mean that it's impossible to test, and science always chases those answers regardless of whether or not we'll ever actually get them. But I ask again...why believe anything without evidence that it is actually true? You're right in that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but that does not make an unsubstantiated position justifiable. You may be right or wrong, but why did you choose the Yahweh over Allah, or Buddah (since he was deified in some Buddhist cults) or Krishnu or Zeus or Odin or Ra or Melqart or even Julius Caesar since he was deified after his death? Surely all of those gods don't have evidence against them either, so why did you choose the Christian God over all the rest of them?

See my previous comments regarding your dismissive attitude towards others. And then re-ask yourself the question: do you love your parents? Do they love you? Can you prove it?

As to "why Christianity", I have discussed the fact that western civilization is based on the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. Isn't the persistence and growth of Christianity a kind of "social evolution"? The tenets of the faith have persisted for thousands of years. They predate real scientific pursuit. And even today, in the face of rapidly advancing scientific discovery they still exist. Why? I'd argue that they are highly evolved social tenets upon which Humans have recognized they can base organized societies that are safe and mutually beneficial.

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"You're telling me why I'm wrong."
No, I'm not. I never said that you were wrong about God existing. I have been careful to avoid claiming that no gods exist. I am simply explaining to you why the non-believers in this thread don't believe you. There's a difference between explaining why we remain unconvinced by your reasoning and telling you that you're wrong. I am telling you where I think certain bits of your reasoning are wrong (for example, that whole "Twin Magesterium" business) but I have never once said that you are wrong that a deity exists...just why I personally don't believe you. Once again, saying "I don't believe you" isn't the same as saying "I think you're wrong."

"Are you trying to convince me that I'm wrong?"
No. I'm explaining why I don't believe/disagree with you. Just like you're doing with me.

Please see the my numerous previous quotes pointing out that your tone is combative and insulting.

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Faith and science are different outlooks on the world:
Whilst I would agree with that, it does not mean that they do - or even should - stick to their own little corners. They are mutually exclusive, which inherently means that they cannot easily coexist, if at all.

This is an absurd suggestion, and points to the idea that only science or religion can exist. That hasn't been the case for thousands of years. Only recently is there a strange new "only one can survive" idea surfacing in popular thought, and that notion is (I believe) where you're coming from. And it is what people like me and others react to violently. You can be a person of faith, and a scientist. In fact, if we cannot hold to the foundational principles of our civilization, we may well slip into moral relativism or worse - simple, self-serving convenience. That's an incredibly dangerous path, in my humble opinion.

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Spirituality:
But why is it a good thing? I've gotten through most of my life without any sort of spirituality and I'm no worse for wear. What do you even mean by "spirituality," since it's such a vague term that it's utterly meaningless unless given some clarification.

Unless you're from the middle east, then you live in a society based on Judeo-Christian social traditions. You may not realize it, but they are the basis for our code of laws and jurisprudence. They are the basis for our Bill of Rights, our Constitution and our laws regarding property, inheritance, banking and intellectual rights. While you may not be a particularly religious person, so say that you've lived your entire life "without any sort of spirituality" affecting you is ignorant in the extreme. However, please see my previous points for ways in which religion has had a profound effect on me at key points in my life. You may find some inspiration there.

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I do want to clarify again; I am NOT saying that you are wrong in your belief in God, just that I do not believe you and I am trying to explain why. I do think that certain positions you hold are wrong, but that's the nature of holding conflicting opinions. However, I do want to point out that if you say that you "know" God exists, people are within their rights to ask "why," and point out why your reasons may or may not be insufficient for them to agree with you. Once again; saying that they don't believe you is not the same as saying that you're wrong, and saying that they think that you're wrong about certain things is not exactly something to take offence over.

Last time, I promise. BS. You were deliberately aggressive and dismissive. I honestly hope you can find a way to have a slightly more open perspective on the beliefs of other people.

It'll serve you better in your life.

- Hurricane

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #257 on: July 11, 2014, 07:58:59 PM »
Apologies in advance for the ultra long post. There was a lot to reply to >.<


@LostInTheMist:

"And there are two translations. One is "thou shalt not kill", and the other (actually the more correct one) is "thou shalt not murder". Killing is okay; the Bible definitely makes that perfectly clear. Just killing without a reason (presumably justified by God) is not."
As somebody else noted, there are numerous translations, so I'll concede that point. However, it doesn't detract from my point that the bible presents a set of pronouncements rather than a system, and if you go through and start picking and choosing, you're obviously not using the system from the bible because you're using it to pick and choose from the bible itself.

I absolutely am justified to believe whatever I want. I'm not harming you with what I believe, am I? So long as it's my own belief and I don't go and declare a Crusade to force you to accept my beliefs (or whatever the modern day equivalent is) I'm not harming you by believing what I believe.
And I'm not trying to say that you're not allowed to hold those beliefs; I'm only trying to say that by my personal standards, the belief isn't justified because there isn't enough evidence. As I said, I'm not trying to tell you to relinquish your beliefs or tell you that you're wrong, but I appreciate that sometimes I can word things a little bit brashly, so if I gave the impression that I was trying to suggest that you were stupid or foolish, then I apologise.

"Philosophical" was just a word I used for "non-scientific". But since I can tell you're a firm believer that there is nothing beyond science, I'm not going to bother trying to define it for you.
Don't get me wrong, philosophical discourse is invaluable to understanding the shades of grey within human interaction, but philosophical arguments can't be used as evidence per say because all they prove is that the statement itself makes logical sense. That makes no statement on whether the conclusion of said argument is actually true. I enjoy philosophical debate, but I'm also of the opinion that when trying to figure out the nature of the reality we live in, unless it is supported by evidence, logical arguments are just words.

The invisible sentient teapot would have a gravitational field. You'd need an incredibly super-accurate tool for measurement, but you could measure its effects. Or you could surround jupiter with a hemispherical shell to determine just what is orbiting it. Yes, you'd destroy all of Jupiter's moons and it would cost a ridiculous amount, but it's a brute force method. Look, all I'm saying is that there IS a way to determine that your teapot is orbiting Jupiter or not.
I didn't say how big the teapot was; it's the size of a teapot, so doesn't necessarily have a gravitational pull strong enough to be detected. :P :P My point was, such a belief isn't justified because I have no evidence of it, not the other way around.

On the "Twin Magesterium", or the "Non-overlapping Magisteria", I think you're a Dawkins, and I'm a Gould. I'm gonna put down arguments, all of which you will reject as invalid, because they are faith and philosophy-based statements, but I may as well put them down. (this section; I won't quote all of it)"

1) That presupposes God actually exists. If you claim that he works on the world and then claim that we can't understand how, how can you attribute anything to God because you yourself have just stated that he's ineffable.

2) The "No True Christian" argument? Well...they would claim that you're No True Christian. How do we go about determining who's right?

3) How do you know? Point 1 just stated that God is ineffable, so he could decide that he wanted to prove himself tomorrow...are you saying you can predict what God is going to do now?

YHWH (or as you spell it, Yahweh) is the same God as Allah. For all I know, all these Gods are the same person or entity in a different manifestation, something more suited for the various cultures to which He appeared. I don't know that, but I like to think it.
TBH, I used to think a similar way. Not trying to imply something, just thought I'd note that I believed that before I became an atheist. :-)

Faith and Science are not mutually exclusive. It is extremely narrow-minded to think that you have to choose one or the other. I tell you that I have faith in the existence of God. That's faith.
You're right, that was overly simplistic of me. What I should have said is that faith in anything precludes investigation or inquiry into that something, so by having faith you are instantly cutting off the only way you could have to actually try and understand this thing. But you're right; I spoke in haste, and I concede that faith does not mean that one cannot follow the scientific method; it only means that you can't follow the scientific method in regards to what you have faith in.

Let me try to explain it as simply as I can. And keep in mind that this is just what I believe to be true. I know I can't prove it, and I know that you'll reject it. The world is a duality.... There's the physical world we can perceive around us, the people, the plants, the air, the interactions of matter and energy. This world, the "real world" as most would call it, is the realm of science. Then there's a second world, a world of spiritual energies, of faith, and belief, and power greater than any of us can imagine. This world cannot be perceived, or tested, but it's there all the same. God bridges the divide between these two worlds.
Fair enough, but I doubt you would be surprised if I said that I don't believe in that because of the lack of evidence. There may well be a duality, but for me, the time to start believing that is when there is evidence to support it and not before. But that's just me.

By spirituality, I mean some being, entity, or power greater than yourself. But when I say being, I don't mean your mother or any human being, or whale, or whatever. I mean a deity of some sort. And I mean the same thing by power. And like I said, I think it's good to have spirituality, and it helps me, but plenty of people get through life just fine without spirituality.
Ah. Well, I don't have that spirituality. If evidence surfaced that proved God, I would believe (whether I would worship him/her is another matter entirely), and if I die and go and see him/her, I'll say "Welp, I was wrong. Sorry 'bout that." But until then...I don't see a reason to believe. *shrug*

The difficulty here is that I believe, and so arguments of spirituality and faith have a place, and are reasonable arguments. Whereas you do not believe, so to you, the arguments that I can present are completely invalid.
That's pretty much the long and short of it. But as I said, I'm not here to deconvert, I just enjoy having these discussions, haha. If I come across as aggressive, then I apologise, since that's not what I intend. :-)

But the main thing is that you reject the idea that faith and science can co-exist, whereas I think they can co-exist, since they do co-exist in my life and in my family's life. Either we're more creative than you, or, from your point of view, we're able to entertain cognitive dissonance more easily. So your scientific points are considered, evaluated, and quite reasonable, though they have no bearing on faith or the spiritual world. Meanwhile my arguments are dismissed because, like I said, you have no faith, and you do not believe faith and science can co-exist. Which means that I'm certainly not getting anywhere, and you're certainly not getting anywhere.
As I noted up there ^ , perhaps I was a little brash to say that faith and scepticism cannot coexist...what I should have said is that you cannot have faith in something and then be sceptical about the thing that you have faith in, which I suppose I would class as cognitive dissonance, being sceptical of some things and not others. You have a right to have faith, of course, I'm just trying to explain why I personally don't.

@HannibalBarca:
I pretty much agree on most (if not all) points. I went through a very similar progression: Christianity ---> Deism ----> Atheism.

@Consortium:
I gave a simplified view of my moral system, so that's on me. No, what you're talking about is moral relativism; humanist morals focus on the welfare and value of human lives balanced with what the current situation demands, and holds that there are some choices which are always bad (for example, if you have a choice between deliberately killing and just incapacitating, you should always aim to incapacitate, but if you fail...well, at least you tried; better to fail doing the right thing than succeed doing the wrong). Whilst I agree that there are many philosophies in regards to morality, I tend to reject most mainstream religions due to their proscriptive nature and inflexibility in a world full of grey. Oftentimes there will be no "right" answer, just "less wrong." It's distasteful, but there you go. However, there are always objective wrongs; for example, you would be hard pressed to give me an example in which rape was acceptable, and it would be a pretty damn exceptional one. Obviously the morals would flip depending on who you asked, but that's the whole point of a moral dilemma; it's not an easy question. But in general, my morals focus on the good vs the bad achieved by my actions, and the relative wellbeing of everybody involved. Religious morality very rarely has that flexibility, at least if you're going by the holy books themselves.

@Hurricane:

The entire tone of your posts make it clear that you're convinced that you're "right" and that any other position needs to be ridiculed and torn down. Have enough respect for other people to understand that they don't have to believe the same things that you believe, and that doesn't make their beliefs invalid.
Well, the whole point of having an opinion is that you think it's right. But moving on from that, you can call BS all you want, but I've apologised for my tone because that isn't how I meant it, and you can either believe that it's sincere or not. Either way, I've apologised and will try to monitor my tone in future, and that's all I can do.

I strongly suspect that you're the kind of person who would argue vehemently for Gay marriage
Yes. Your point? Is that a bad thing?

gay sexual relationships are just a tiny minority percentage of the sexual pairings in society.
Again, relevance? Just because they're a minority doesn't mean that their desires or rights should be swept aside dispassionately. So what are you getting at here?

Should Gay marriage be denied by society simply because there are less long-term benefits to society by accepting such a union?
No. Who the fuck cares? People should be able to marry whoever the hell they want, and anyway, can you prove that society gets less long term benefits from such a union? Homosexual couples can have children (albeit with a little help), and actually help offer more stable homes. Why should somebodies sex or gender dictate who they are allowed to love? But again, what is the relevance of this comment?

I don't care if you don't believe in God, but I do take genuine offense at your tone which seems to be stridently suggesting that belief in God or religion is somehow not "up to snuff" with scientific belief or intelligent thought.
Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I stand by my opinion that believing that - for example - evolution is a fact is not in the same league as believing something on faith, and I'm not about to believe something "because it feels good." I'm happy that your faith was enough for you and that it helped you through some dark times, but if you're going to get offended when I say that that's not enough for me and that religion has not - for me - given a good enough justification in believing its claims, then I'm sorry, but I don't know what else to say. It's my opinion. I'm not begrudging you yours, I'm just explaining why I disagree and don't hold the same belief. If that offends you...I don't know what to say.

For the record, the Judeo-Christian religious tradition is the basis for all of western society.
No, it isn't. It was back in the Dark Ages, but since then the laws have evolved and changed to be more inclusive, and more secular. Many of the laws in place in Western Society actively go against many of the rules in the bible.

You would dismiss those traditions in favor  of a kind of system of "moral relativism". Under your rules anybody could conceivably be justified in doing literally anything at all, given the right circumstances. Out of money? Steal. Sexually frustrated? Rape. Annoyed by somebody you don't like? Murder.
No. That's a strawman. I advocate humanist morals and reasonable situational morality. I explained this in more detail earlier in this post and earlier in this thread. You know what does advocate killing people who disagree? The bible. Rape? The bible. The rape victim marrying her rapist? The bible. Stoning children to death for speaking back? The bible. Please don't strawman me, and please know more about the rules presented in your holy book before claiming that western laws are modelled on the bible when they aren't. They were, once upon a time, but they have since evolved and changed into rules that are more inclusive and fair to almost everybody. We're still working out the kinks, but we're getting there.

The core of the Third Reich was a new and unique religion based around Teutonic myth and weird, mis-guided social and pseudo-scientific beliefs and new age mysticism. And that's a lesson to be acutely aware of: religious precepts based on "mortal" foundations have no social staying power.
Hitler was a Roman Catholic and actively worked with the Catholic Church to promote Catholicism in schools.

That's why the power of religious tenets is so important - they don't change based on current context.
Which is why they suck and why the law actively forbids some of the things in the bible. Slavery, for example.

And to me, "moral relativism" is even worse.
I don't agree with moral relativism. Look up the difference between relativism and situationalism. There IS a difference.

nd before it gets said again, I've heard all the diatribes about the Crusades and the Inquisition before. Those happened a long time ago. To truly be fair in such a comparison, one should stack up the countless good/kind/beneficial deeds that are accomplished by those with religious faith every day against the bad examples and there's no question in my mind that the good massively outweighs the bad.
Spreading AIDS in Africa. Oppressing homosexuals and atheists. Indoctrinating kids with the fear that if they doubt and question, they'll burn for eternity in hell. Trying to shove creationism into schools to replace evolution. Abusing young children and then actively working against the authorities to cover it up. Religion has done a LOT of bad extremely recently. Nothing good that can be done by religion can't also be done by secular means, but much of the bad that has been done by religion could never be carried out by a secular organisation motivated only by the welfare of society and its members.

Here's something to think about - the Old Testament of the Bible gave us 10 Commandments. The New Testament gave us only 1 - love each other.
The Hebrew Bible gave us 300 commandments. The New Testament gave us several new ones, and also stated that the Hebrew Bible was still to be obeyed (slavery, genocide, sexism and child-execution and all).

This is really upsetting to me. You should get to know some addicts. I mean it - actually get to know them before you write stuff like this. Especially when the person that you're discussing it with tells you that they are an alcoholic and that the program works for them.
In this, you are correct. I chose my words poorly. What I meant was that whilst I am happy that it worked for him, I know several addicts who think that they were harmed by the AA's practices...which I said. I know that the AA helps people, and that's good. However, I find the idea of telling an Addict that they are powerless is a very dangerous thing to be doing. I also disagree with its practices in terms of fudging the statistics and disguising its internal workings from governmental oversight. It can help people, and I'm glad it does...I just think that there are better ways of doing it.

You seem to be the worst sort of bigot in that you simply cannot allow other people to hold beliefs or values that don't somehow align with yours. Seriously - try to learn some respect for others.
What part of "I'm not telling you you're wrong, I'm just explaining why I disagree" don't you understand? I'm not demanding that anybody deconvert or renounce their faith. I'm explaining my position just as everybody else is explaining there's and putting forwards their opinion. I agree that sometimes my tone can come across as more aggressive or condescending than I intend, but I have apologised and that is something that I am actively trying to work on.

Then why attack those of us with faith by claiming that the positions are untenable?
Not attacking. Debating. There's a difference.

Be more honest with yourself - Atheism is a cause.
No it isn't. It's a lack of belief. Nothing more, nothing less.

But if religion has a place in your life, jerks come pouring out of the woodwork to tells people of faith that "God can't be proven blah blah blah."
If you voice your belief in a public forum, people have the right to present conflicting opinions. That's how free speech works.

I repeat my previous point - how about just having some respect for other people?
I have respect for them. The few times I have been openly insulting or accidentally condescending, I have backed down and apologised. How about you stop trying to make ad hominem attacks?

Some people are gay but the vast majority are straight. There's no scientific way to "prove" that they are gay, so should their sexual orientation be ignored or denied? Isn't it enough that they simply say "this is what I am, or what I believe?"
That's a false equivocation. I'm not asking them to prove that they believe something, I'm asking them to prove that what they believe is true. If somebody says "I'm gay," that's a fairly innocuous claim that I can accept on face value. They could be lying, but why would they? And it's common enough that it could be true, since I know that people can be gay. Saying "I believe in a big invisible sky-daddy" is a bit different. Yes, they believe that - and I have no reason to disbelieve that they believe that - but I don't have to believe that the Sky Daddy exists as well. I can believe that somebody is gay without being gay myself. So...that analogy doesn't work on a fundamental level.

Except that we have centuries of social tradition that shows the validity of the Judeo-Christian social traditions, which are religious traditions. Western civilization (and most especially America) would not exist without our particular religious history. To be ignorant of that fact, or to reject the religious history is, in my opinion to put ourselves in danger of losing touch with some of the truly unique characteristics of our country and it's place in human society.
Religion should be studied for its contributions to our history, but longevity makes no comment whatsoever on whether or not the belief is actually true. If you were going with that, the Egyptian religion was around for 6000 years - at least - before Christianity came around, so by your logic the Egyptian mythology is more valid than the Christian mythology. Also, as explained above, the laws have not stayed static for 800 years. They have constantly evolved and changed, which means that they cannot be based on biblical laws, since you yourself have said that the bible has not changed. The laws we live by now are pretty much entirely secular due to their constant evolution throughout human history. In fact, our current code of laws (particularly court-law) has more in common with The Code of Hammurabi - a Babylonian code from about 1772 BCE - than anything in the bible.

I was first aware of the presence of God when I got married. The day was powerfully moving and touching in a way that I can't really define any other way. My faith re-asserted itself with the birth of my first child. It was a troubled pregnancy, and the labor was risky. I was almost overwhelmed by the stress, and in a moment of need I found my way to the small chapel in the hospital. I sat in the pews and prayed for a little bit and found a reserve of strength and calm that I have rarely felt before or since. I did the same thing on 9/11 - faced with something so overwhelming and personally overpowering I asked for help from a higher power, and than help was (I feel) granted.
Fair enough. I'm glad that faith got you through those difficult and happy times. It does nothing to convince me of the validity of what you have faith in, but I'm genuinely glad that it gave you some comfort.

Sorry, but if you really think that you weren't trying to be insulting then perhaps you should take a long look at your own communication style. I feel that you were trying to be deliberately insulting.
Except I wasn't, so your feeling is wrong. You can take offence all you like, but I stated that I wasn't trying to be insulting, I was trying to make a point through ridiculousness and hyperbole, and you either take my word for it or not. It makes no difference to me. I've already apologised for possibly coming across as insulting and stated that it wasn't my intention. You can call bull all you want, it doesn't make you right.

Once again: yes, you are trying to be both aggressive and rude. Check yourself bro...
Once again, I wasn't.

There is no explanation for the Big Bang, is there. How do you suppose that happened? What was the state of the universe before the Big Bang? And how about the formation of life on Earth?
sigh. We don't know. What you are getting at is the "Argument From Ignorance" fallacy, as well as the "God Of The Gaps" argument. Just because we don't know doesn't mean you get to insert God. There are a few competing hypotheses, and as for the latter - life on Earth originating - we have demonstrated that it is at least possible for living matter to come from non-living matter, though nothing has been conclusively demonstrated. That does not mean that you get to step in and claim that God Did It, since you have no evidence to support that conclusion. As for "miracle," well, define "miracle" for me. Because if you're classifying it as "something really really really unlikely," well, really really really unlikely things happen a lot. But quite frankly, just because we don't know doesn't mean you get to substitute God. Take the Big Bang; we don't know what happened before, or even if "Before the Big Bang" is even a valid statement (since if time started at the beginning, "before" is impossible), but how does God answer it? Where did God come from? How do you answer something complex with something even more complex? You haven't answered anything, you've just shifted it back a step.

Aren't there an equal number of charlatans on the "science" side of this argument? I've heard hucksters speaking in the name of "science" claim any number of things that would either cure all my ills or else lead all of society to impending disaster.
And your point is? Yeah, there are charlatans on both sides. That's where scepticism comes in.

Sorry, but I think that's oversimplistic. You could say "I prefer not to take anything on faith." But once again, it's entirely possible for a person who pursues science to believe in God.
Already addressed this above.

Do your parents love you? Do you love them? Can you prove it? Maybe it's just a hormonal imbalance, or a misfiring neuron or a persistent hallucination...
Again, not asking him to prove that he feels this way. See above. Not retyping it.

As to "why Christianity", I have discussed the fact that western civilization is based on the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. Isn't the persistence and growth of Christianity a kind of "social evolution"? The tenets of the faith have persisted for thousands of years. They predate real scientific pursuit.
Again, longevity doesn't equal validity. You know what they also believed for thousands of years? That drilling a hole in your head would cure a headache because it released evil spirits. How long something has been around doesn't make any impact on whether it's actually valid or not, particularly if those tenets - like faith - were so strictly guarded and any protest or argument against them was silenced with execution. It's very hard to dislodge an ideology that has inserted itself at the very top.

I'd argue that they are highly evolved social tenets upon which Humans have recognized they can base organized societies that are safe and mutually beneficial.
As touched on above, I'd argue it's because it managed to get into a position of power and silence all opposition, much like Stalin and Mao.

Please see the my numerous previous quotes pointing out that your tone is combative and insulting.
Please see my numerous responses where I have apologised and acknowledged that I was more combative than I intended.

This is an absurd suggestion, and points to the idea that only science or religion can exist. That hasn't been the case for thousands of years. Only recently is there a strange new "only one can survive" idea surfacing in popular thought, and that notion is (I believe) where you're coming from. And it is what people like me and others react to violently. You can be a person of faith, and a scientist. In fact, if we cannot hold to the foundational principles of our civilization, we may well slip into moral relativism or worse - simple, self-serving convenience. That's an incredibly dangerous path, in my humble opinion.
This, I agree on. I clarified this earlier on in this post.

They are the basis for our Bill of Rights, our Constitution and our laws regarding property, inheritance, banking and intellectual rights.
Soooo....."America is a Christian Nation?" No it's not. Most of your founding fathers were deist or even out and out atheists, and the constitution was written purely on a secular basis, with the idea of freedom of and freedom from religion being very important in that document. Go look into the bill of rights and the constitution. America was NOT founded on Christian ideals. Quite the opposite; the founding fathers saw what religion did to Europe, and actively tried to avoid a similar situation. So...no. The USA was deliberately created as a secular nation from the outset, NOT based on religious ideals.

Last time, I promise. BS. You were deliberately aggressive and dismissive.
No I wasn't, as I've explained numerous times. Either believe me or don't. At this point, I really don't care.

I honestly hope you can find a way to have a slightly more open perspective on the beliefs of other people.
I have an open mind regarding peoples beliefs, but that doesn't mean I'm going to just believe them or let them go past without challenging things I disagree with. If your idea of an open mind is just nodding and agreeing with everything people say, even if they don't have evidence that can convince me, then I'm afraid I can't do that.


If any of this message came across as condescending or aggressive, I am sincerely sorry; it was not how it was intended. It was written in a rush, and it's late. So...yeah. Sorry for any offence caused.

Vergil.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 08:00:55 PM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #258 on: July 11, 2014, 08:37:35 PM »
It's interesting that it's those who DON'T believe in God who are getting all preachy. *Smiles*


Okay, don't do that. You made a claim, now people are entitled to respond with a counter claim. You can't go "All knowledge is arbitrary" and then call people 'preachy' when they respond with a counter argument. You are not just telling us why you believe, as you claim, you have made outright truth claims as to the nature of reality. Sniping people who contest these claims as 'preachy Atheists' is not just bad debating, it's incredibly unfair, and frankly, very annoying.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 08:44:52 PM by Sabby »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #259 on: July 11, 2014, 08:42:06 PM »
Huh. I didn't pick up on that at first, but now you mention it, I can see where you're coming from. Good spot, Sabby, I didn't think of that.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #260 on: July 11, 2014, 09:13:49 PM »
Gonna just go for the short and sweet here. I hope you don't mind. :)

As I noted up there ^ , perhaps I was a little brash to say that faith and scepticism cannot coexist...what I should have said is that you cannot have faith in something and then be sceptical about the thing that you have faith in, which I suppose I would class as cognitive dissonance, being sceptical of some things and not others. You have a right to have faith, of course, I'm just trying to explain why I personally don't.

If I weren't skeptical of the thing I had faith in, I wouldn't have any faith in it.* I have had my doubts. I have been skeptical. There have been times when I have despaired of the whole thing and very nearly walked away. But I haven't. Not because I was afraid of anything.... My brother walked away from the church years ago. My sister still goes while she's in town, but that's getting more and more towards the direction of "very rarely". However, I had a deeply spiritual experience just under eight months ago that convinced me of the truth for the final time. Maybe it was just random electrical impulses firing in my brain. Maybe it was just a half-asleep waking dream. But it was a feeling of love and forgiveness so deep and so absolute, no strings attached....

People had talked about feeling the presence of God, and I'd always inwardly kinda snorted and said "yeah, right". Until that moment.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 09:20:53 PM by LostInTheMist »

Online SweetSerenade

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #261 on: July 11, 2014, 09:18:11 PM »
Gonna just go for the short and sweet here. I hope you don't mind. :)

If I weren't skeptical of the thing I had faith in, I wouldn't have any faith in it. I have had my doubts. I have been skeptical. There have been times when I have despaired of the whole thing and very nearly walked away. But I haven't. Not because I was afraid of anything.... My brother walked away from the church years ago. My sister still goes while she's in town, but that's getting more and more towards the direction of "very rarely". However, I had a deeply spiritual experience just under eight months ago that convinced me of the truth for the final time. Maybe it was just random electrical impulses firing in my brain. Maybe it was just a half-asleep waking dream. But it was a feeling of love and forgiveness so deep and so absolute, no strings attached....

People had talked about feeling the presence of God, and I'd always inwardly kinda snorted and said "yeah, right". Until that moment.

Anyway, just saying that even now I'm still somewhat skeptical, I still question, but the one thing that I remain firmly convinced of is the existence of a higher power.

As for the "preachy" remark, it was ill-considered and is cheerfully withdrawn.

I think I may be starting to see some of the things Vergil is saying. You may have believed you have had a very spiritual situation with your God - but how can you know that is your God and not something within your own mind?

I could state the same thing, that I review monthly visitations from my Gods and on Beltaine I am filled with the presence of Cerrunos. I cannot prove that, all I can say is that I feel that. Without proof, we cannot say it truly completely exists. We should always hold some form of disbelief in our own faith, because when we stop questioning is when our minds stop truly growing.

Nothing in the entire world should be without scrutiny.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #262 on: July 11, 2014, 09:21:25 PM »
Clarification of my above post: I've always held to the opinion that you should question EVERYTHING. So I have examined my beliefs, considered the things the Bible has said carefully, particularly the things we now know to be wrong, and I've also noted that Jesus established a new covenant with us. So much of what people find objectionable comes from the Old Testament, and much of what is established in the Old Testament is out of date.

You might find it unbelievable that I can examine the central tenets of my faith and come to the conclusion that (even before my experience) I still believed in God. But I did. Maybe that means my investigation was flawed. Maybe that means that I didn't truly examine it. Maybe I weighed different things than you did. Maybe I weighed different things differently, or maybe my brain is just wired a different way. Regardless of what it is, I questioned, I examined, and I accepted.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #263 on: July 11, 2014, 09:22:43 PM »
I think I may be starting to see some of the things Vergil is saying. You may have believed you have had a very spiritual situation with your God - but how can you know that is your God and not something within your own mind?

I could state the same thing, that I review monthly visitations from my Gods and on Beltaine I am filled with the presence of Cerrunos. I cannot prove that, all I can say is that I feel that. Without proof, we cannot say it truly completely exists. We should always hold some form of disbelief in our own faith, because when we stop questioning is when our minds stop truly growing.

Nothing in the entire world should be without scrutiny.

In the simplest possible terms. I just know.

You can believe whatever you want.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #264 on: July 11, 2014, 09:26:48 PM »
In the simplest possible terms. I just know.

You can believe whatever you want.

So you just know that all knowledge is arbitrary and binary? That's a broken statement. You can't assert that no one can know things and then claim to know things.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 09:29:14 PM by Sabby »

Online SweetSerenade

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #265 on: July 11, 2014, 09:32:31 PM »
In the simplest possible terms. I just know.

You can believe whatever you want.

As I Just Know that my Gods and Goddesses are my true followings. That they guide everything I do, and that they help me find what I need to learn in life.

By the tennants of your Faith I would be seen as a sinner, simply because I did not believe that same.

Also a notation that was made before in this thread, Jesus did not tell them to abolish the things from the Old Testament he actually clearly stated that he was not there to change the things that they had been laid out to follow as laws - he was just there to build upon that and teach them the three new things he wanted them to learn. Can you tell me what the three things Jesus preached? I can tell you, and I am not even part of that faith anymore. I left that faith a long time ago.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #266 on: July 11, 2014, 09:36:31 PM »
You assume that everything I say has to do with your comments. I was responding to the "how do you know it was God you felt and not something within your own mind?"

I just know.

@Sweet Serenade: I'm not gonna debate which God/Gods/Goddesses are the "right" God/Gods/Goddesses.

I'm gonna take a step back from this topic now, for at least a couple of days, because the degree to which it's starting to upset me is getting toxic. Especially the comments about AA from people who are not addicts themselves and who don't understand the program.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #267 on: July 11, 2014, 09:38:54 PM »
I've seen a few very conflicted discussions on that Serenade. I'm not too well versed on it myself, but the main counter argument I hear is that by 'fulfill the law', Jesus does mean end it, as fulfilling it would end the usefulness of those old laws.

Yay language gaps and translations :P whether or not fulfilling the law means to end it is irrelevant to me as the New Testament is just as barbaric as the Old one.


Online SweetSerenade

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #268 on: July 11, 2014, 09:43:08 PM »
I've seen a few very conflicted discussions on that Serenade. I'm not too well versed on it myself, but the main counter argument I hear is that by 'fulfill the law', Jesus does mean end it, as fulfilling it would end the usefulness of those old laws.

Yay language gaps and translations :P whether or not fulfilling the law means to end it is irrelevant to me as the New Testament is just as barbaric as the Old one.

Exactly what I believe, if you hand me the original bible (if I could actually read it mind you) without ANYTHING removed, I might actually be interested in researching what was really said in completion. But because most of those books are locked away in the Vatican, or so it is believed, we will never know the full truth. It has been held truthful that for thousands of years Kings and leaders have changed the bible to suit the whims of which they themselves wanted changed. The bible is not what it was, and it is not something that should be followed as complete law.

Even then - I believe it is a religion that needs a huge overhaul and a remodification to fit into a new world.

Most of the Faiths, there is a difference between Faiths and Religions, are ones that can meld and change with the times. They gather new information and contnue to grow and change in their views of their reality.

But I digress, this discussion is something else for another time.

To be completely honest, I am surprised to find that I have so much in common with Atheists. In the past I was attacked by them just as much as I was attacked by follows of the "One God"... It is a little startling for me.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #269 on: July 11, 2014, 09:48:28 PM »
Yeah, intolerance is universal. Tolerating something doesn't mean liking it, however. You can despise particular teachings of a Religion and still hold a civil and productive conversation on it. Anyone who can't, well, their behavior is on them.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 10:11:19 PM by Sabby »

Offline Dice

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #270 on: July 11, 2014, 11:22:08 PM »
In the simplest possible terms. I just know.

You can believe whatever you want.

No, you don't. You believe. Which is btw, fine by me. But the idea of religion is that you can never KNOW, that is why you are as a collective known as "The Faithful". You do not know anything about God at all. No one does. You Believe what you are taught, I am going to assume you also do not believe the same things as your descendants (Like it's fine to give out brutal punishments for working on a Saturday) or even some of your contemporaries (godhatesfags.com .... yea going to bet your not like those morons). 

The point is that you have faith, but you lack knowledge. That is the test of religion, that you can have faith and hold it throughout your life. That even in your dying moments you seek absolution still not knowing if your right or wrong.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #271 on: July 12, 2014, 12:29:44 AM »

For those who were confused about the allegory of the kettle out in space, the point of that analogy is to demonstrate that:

   A. Its very easy to make a bogus claim that nobody can disprove or prove.
   B. When one makes a claim, they have the burden of substantiating that claim - otherwise, its as worthless as any other unsupported claim.
   C. You cannot prove the existence of a god any more than you can prove the existence of the alleged "tea pot" that is drifting somewhere in space.

Some folks will argue that they are entitled to believe in anything they want. I agree with you, you are free to choose what you believe however, what you believe in has consequences and affects the rest of society to some degree.

To better understand this, think about how racism can lead to acts of discrimination or unfairness, how a lack of education can lead to foolish actions, or how knowledge of a common language can lead to good communication and advancement of mankind. For these reasons, the things that people believe in DO matter to the rest of us and they DO affect us. I can give real world examples of how people's beliefs have affected the rest of the world pro and con, but I don't think that is necessary.


Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #272 on: July 12, 2014, 12:33:09 AM »
To better understand this, think about how racism can lead to acts of discrimination or unfairness, how a lack of education can lead to foolish actions, or how knowledge of a common language can lead to good communication and advancement of mankind. For these reasons, the things that people believe in DO matter to the rest of us and they DO affect us. I can give real world examples of how people's beliefs have affected the rest of the world pro and con, but I don't think that is necessary.

Couldn't have said it better myself. We're a social species, after all.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #273 on: July 12, 2014, 06:26:20 AM »
@LostInTheMist:

Gonna just go for the short and sweet here. I hope you don't mind.
So can I consider the points you aren't responding to conceded? :P

If I weren't skeptical of the thing I had faith in, I wouldn't have any faith in it.
Well...no. I'm sorry, but if you have faith in something you are by definition not being sceptical about that thing. Being sceptical is not accepting without sufficient evidence to justify that belief, and your entire position is "there's no evidence against it, so I'm going to believe it." That's the wrong way round. Faith is belief without evidence, which flies directly in the face of scepticism. You can be a sceptical individual, but if you have faith, you are obviously not applying that scepticism to the belief you have faith in.

However, I had a deeply spiritual experience just under eight months ago that convinced me of the truth for the final time. Maybe it was just random electrical impulses firing in my brain. Maybe it was just a half-asleep waking dream. But it was a feeling of love and forgiveness so deep and so absolute, no strings attached.
I'm just going to repeat: How do you know it came from a deity? How do you know it wasn't the alternatives you suggested? You seem to be flip-flopping back and forth between claims here. First you claim to "know" and now you claim that you don't? Which is it?

"As for the "preachy" remark, it was ill-considered and is cheerfully withdrawn."
Why did you go back and edit out your apology? Seems like a bit of a strange thing to do.

I've also noted that Jesus established a new covenant with us. So much of what people find objectionable comes from the Old Testament, and much of what is established in the Old Testament is out of date.
Except it isn't. As I pointed out earlier in the thread, Jesus specifically said that the old laws still had to be obeyed. But even assuming that you are correct...Jesus still decreed plenty of horrible things, like executing children who disrespected their parents. I think that such children should be punished, sure, but executed? That's a bit of an overreaction. And what about Jesus saying that slavery was all well and dandy? Or that you should give away everything that you own, forsake your friends and family and put them to death should they try to say that they don't think you should be believing everything that he's saying?

" I just know."
But you also stated that you can't know anything. So how does that work? And if you "know" without testable evidence, you can't be being very sceptical in regards to that belief.

"how do you know it was God you felt and not something within your own mind?" I just know."
How? And if you can't know anything for certain, how can you claim to know it for certain?

"The level to which it is upsetting me"
Well, I'm sorry if any of my opinions upset you, but I won't apologise for holding them.

Especially the comments about AA from people who are not addicts themselves and who don't understand the program.
I do understand the program. As I stated, I know people who were addicts themselves who feel like the program did more harm than good, and I've been with them to a few of the meetings myself. I'm sorry that my opinion of the AA upsets you, but what makes their experience any less valid than your own? As I stated above, the quality and type of service provided will vary depending on which group you go to - some are better than others - but nothing is above criticism, and the AA certainly does a lot of questionable things. So again....what makes your experience any more valid than those of the people that I know and have spoken to about this subject?

@SweetSerenade:

"I think I may be starting to see some of the things Vergil is saying. You may have believed you have had a very spiritual situation with your God - but how can you know that is your God and not something within your own mind?"
Exactly my point. :-) I'm not saying he's necessarily wrong, just asking how he came to the conclusion that it was a deity and not just something in his own head. :-)

"Jesus did not tell them to abolish the things from the Old Testament he actually clearly stated that he was not there to change the things that they had been laid out to follow as laws - he was just there to build upon that and teach them the three new things he wanted them to learn. Can you tell me what the three things Jesus preached? I can tell you, and I am not even part of that faith anymore."
Exactamundo! ...a word I have never used before and hopefully never will again. Anyway. See a few pages back for my quotes of Jesus for that. I'm the same; I used to be a Christian like you, then I took a read of the bible. It also helps that I have Sceptics Annotated Bible on bookmark and a bible on the shelf in front of me with various post-it notes in there for quick reference. :P

"But because most of those books are locked away in the Vatican, or so it is believed, we will never know the full truth. It has been held truthful that for thousands of years Kings and leaders have changed the bible to suit the whims of which they themselves wanted changed. The bible is not what it was."
Exactly. Even if we were to accept that the original Bible was the word of God, what we have now is nowhere near to that version. It's gone through so many translations and edits by councils, it is not what it started out as.

I believe it is a religion that needs a huge overhaul and a remodification to fit into a new world.
I agree whole heartedly. I have no problem with the religious (well, most of them anyway). I have a problem with the harm that is enabled by religion, and I have a problem with it when it is used to oppress human knowledge and human rights.

"I am surprised to find that I have so much in common with Atheists. In the past I was attacked by them just as much as I was attacked by follows of the "One God"... It is a little startling for me."
Well, you get militant atheists just as much as you get militant religious people. It's a human thing, not a belief thing...I personally try to not attack anybody personally and just question and challenge their beliefs if they are presented as truth claims. Don't give up on us atheists yet; most of us are reasonable people. :P I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that atheists more than most others have to defend their lack of belief quite enthusiastically, so sometimes that can leak through into frustration and aggression without them realising it. At least, that's the case for me, haha. I can't speak for anybody else. :P

@Sabby:

"So you just know that all knowledge is arbitrary and binary? That's a broken statement. You can't assert that no one can know things and then claim to know things."
Agreed.

"main counter argument I hear is that by 'fulfil the law', Jesus does mean end it, as fulfilling it would end the usefulness of those old laws."
What he meant was, I believe, he came to fulfil the Sacrificial Law. Of course, he also claimed the Second Coming would come about in his followers lifetime, and we all know how that turned out (hint: It didn't).

"the New Testament is just as barbaric as the Old one"
Agreed! :D

"Yeah, intolerance is universal. Tolerating something doesn't mean liking it, however. You can despise particular teachings of a Religion and still hold a civil and productive conversation on it. Anyone who can't, well, their behavior is on them."
Exactly. And often the aggression on the atheist side is down to intolerance and aggression on many religious peoples ends. The one that gets my goat is threatening me with Hell (which nobody here has done yet, thankfully). I don't believe in hell, but the fact that they are fine with worshipping the guy that they think will be sending me there is....well. It pisses me off, haha.

"We're a social species"
Exactly. :-)

@Dice

The point is that you have faith, but you lack knowledge. That is the test of religion, that you can have faith and hold it throughout your life. That even in your dying moments you seek absolution still not knowing if your right or wrong.
Agreed. You can't "know" something with faith. Faith is belief without evidence, and knowledge requires evidence.

@TaintedAndDelish

For those who were confused about the allegory of the kettle out in space, the point of that analogy is to demonstrate that:

   A. Its very easy to make a bogus claim that nobody can disprove or prove.
   B. When one makes a claim, they have the burden of substantiating that claim - otherwise, its as worthless as any other unsupported claim.
   C. You cannot prove the existence of a god any more than you can prove the existence of the alleged "tea pot" that is drifting somewhere in space.


Exactly. Thank you for clearing that up :-)

Some folks will argue that they are entitled to believe in anything they want. I agree with you, you are free to choose what you believe however, what you believe in has consequences and affects the rest of society to some degree.
Agreed. Believe what you want, but don't expect others who disagree to not challenge your beliefs, especially when they are being used to oppress and discriminate.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 06:28:15 AM by Vergil Tanner »

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #274 on: July 12, 2014, 06:46:18 AM »
Quote
I think I may be starting to see some of the things Vergil is saying. You may have believed you have had a very spiritual situation with your God - but how can you know that is your God and not something within your own mind?

I could state the same thing, that I review monthly visitations from my Gods and on Beltaine I am filled with the presence of Cerrunos. I cannot prove that, all I can say is that I feel that. Without proof, we cannot say it truly completely exists. We should always hold some form of disbelief in our own faith, because when we stop questioning is when our minds stop truly growing.

Nothing in the entire world should be without scrutiny.

It is refreshing to hear such a statement from one of faith.  It is also not the same as examining your faith, then accepting it, and never questioning it again.  To accept something and never again examine it, for me, goes against all tenets of logic.  I wouldn't check my car once, then assume for years after that it would always be the same.  Conditions could change.

By the way, SweetSerenade, is your Druidism related to the ancient Celtic faith?  Dagda the DozenKing, The Master of the Wild Hunt, and such?  It is a very rich mythos, much like the Norse tradition, or the Irish.  I've always enjoyed reading about Dierdre, Cu Chulain, Frey, and Balder, among others.  There is a lot of connection between those beliefs in a cultural way.  I can't remember any of the other Celtic deities at the moment; I'd have to get out my mythology encyclopedia.  One of the things, I think I remember, is the importance of...either holly or mistletoe as a significant part of Druidism.

Quote
The invisible sentient teapot would have a gravitational field. You'd need an incredibly super-accurate tool for measurement, but you could measure its effects. Or you could surround jupiter with a hemispherical shell to determine just what is orbiting it. Yes, you'd destroy all of Jupiter's moons and it would cost a ridiculous amount, but it's a brute force method. Look, all I'm saying is that there IS a way to determine that your teapot is orbiting Jupiter or not.
I didn't say how big the teapot was; it's the size of a teapot, so doesn't necessarily have a gravitational pull strong enough to be detected. :P :P My point was, such a belief isn't justified because I have no evidence of it, not the other way around.

The metaphor of an invisible teapot, or the flying spaghetti monster, is there to provide a parallel to the belief in an invisible, undetectable deity that purposely leaves no way to prove their existence in order to test faith.  It is a common metaphor used in debates by non-believers with believers, and I have heard it used many times in such.  Carl Sagan used the invisible dragon in his garage.  "Can I hear it?"  No, it is silent...and has no scent, either.  "Can I touch it?"  No, it is intangible.  "Does it breathe fire?"  Yes, but you can't feel that, either.  "Does it react or affect the world around it in any way?"  No, it doesn't.  "They how do you know it is real?"  I just know it.

Surely the same thing has been said since time immemorial...by the followers of Ra, Horus, and Isis (Egyptian), Zeus, Athena, and Apollo (Greek), Odin, Thor, and Loki (Germanic/Norse), Quetzlcuatl (Aztec), Coyote and Raven and the God of the Corn (Native American), Amaterasu Omikami (Japanese), The Divine Beaurocraracy (Chinese)...the list goes on and on.  No one claims anymore that these are viable gods, as they have been replaced by newer ones, or contemporary ones.  No Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu has any problem being an atheist when it comes to these gods, or the gods of the other major religions other than their own.  No, even religious people are atheists when it comes to gods of other religions...how many people actually have faith in ALL gods in all religions?  None.  Most are mutually exclusive, especially monotheistic religions.  And yet, in their day and age, just as today, the followers of these gods were jsut as devout, just as committed, just as faithful, as those who are religious today.  What if the Aztecs were right, and the gods will return from beyond the stars to make judgement on humanity?  What if Ragnarok is just around the corner?  What if the Greek pantheon has just been biding their time?  For that matter, to Christians:  what if Jesus was just a prophet, as Muslims claim?  What if the Messiah has not yet come, as Jews claim? 

Hindus have a parable--a bird passes over a great mountain but once every fifty thousand years.  As it passes, a lone feather falls from it.  That feather brushes the mountain.  When that mountain, in the passage of time and infinitesimal wear of that single every-fifty-thousand-year feather, is worn flat...then the end of the world will have come.  Hindus take this on faith, and there is no reason to be ethnocentric or exclusive...what if they are right?  Their belief is just as strong as any others...enough to, as so many times has happened, to die for it.  From my perspective as an outsider now to religion, I see all of these faiths, so similarly secure in the infallibility of their own belief...and I know they cannot all be right.  So many of them spend inordinate amounts of time trying to disprove one another, so as to win converts to their own faith.  Christians will claim all others are false but theirs.  Muslims will claim all others are false but theirs.  My point of view is:  If you can be skeptical of every other faith in the world, the logical question would be to ask, Well...maybe I should be skeptical of mine as well?   As Richard Dawkins says, he is as skeptical as any Jew, Muslim, or Christian...he just goes one god further.

Quote
For the record, the Judeo-Christian religious tradition is the basis for all of western society.
No, it isn't. It was back in the Dark Ages, but since then the laws have evolved and changed to be more inclusive, and more secular. Many of the laws in place in Western Society actively go against many of the rules in the bible.

The democratic, industrialized nations of the western world are not based on any specific religion today.  The democratic system of government as practiced by most nations today finds its beginning in the United States and the UK.  To be accurate (I am a historian, and have focuses on Colonial American/Civil War and WW2 eras), the American Constitution is based on English common-law and the democratic principles found in both the Greek and Roman forms of Republic, and England derives its system of Parliament from the common law that was there before Christianity came to the British Isles, and the pact known as the Magna Charta which was the first step in removing the powers of absolute monarchy from England.  There is a reason we named the Senate after the Roman version...though we use President rather than Consul for our chief executive.  The belief in not murdering, or stealing, or lying, are universally found in almost every human culture on Earth...of course, many of them seem to apply only to one's own culture, not those who are different or foreigners.

Quote
The core of the Third Reich was a new and unique religion based around Teutonic myth and weird, mis-guided social and pseudo-scientific beliefs and new age mysticism. And that's a lesson to be acutely aware of: religious precepts based on "mortal" foundations have no social staying power.
Hitler was a Roman Catholic and actively worked with the Catholic Church to promote Catholicism in schools.

Hitler was a Cult of Personality, and obeyed the Pope no more than any other person on Earth.  He sent nuns and priests to concentration camps as well as protestant ministers who stood up to his horrors.  He basically made his own religion with himself as the deity, much like Stalin, or the North Koreans.  Not much different than the god-kings of the Assyrians or Babylonians, actually, which is definitely a way to tell that your civilization has taken a massive step backwards...

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Be more honest with yourself - Atheism is a cause.
No it isn't. It's a lack of belief. Nothing more, nothing less.

To be completely clear, there are those militant atheists that champion atheism as their cause, but most atheists are content to simply be left alone to not practice their non-belief.

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Aren't there an equal number of charlatans on the "science" side of this argument? I've heard hucksters speaking in the name of "science" claim any number of things that would either cure all my ills or else lead all of society to impending disaster.
And your point is? Yeah, there are charlatans on both sides. That's where scepticism comes in.

Both of you are right, but both are arguing from angles that don't see the other side clearly.  Yes, there are charlatans in science, like the South Korean scientist who claimed to have cloned a human being.  The point is, however, that he was debunked.  The very basis of science is finding truth through rigorous testing and verification, by sharing discoveries and evidence with other scientists.  Scientists go out of their way with a vengeance to disprove the work of other scientists--and they should and are gratefully welcomed to do so by the scientists whose work is being questioned.  There is nothing like your hypothesis being rigorously examined--and found to be watertight and testably verified.  If it is found wanting, often not all of it is wrong--so you go back and form a new hypothesis, throw out the wrong, keep the right, and continue on.  I find that this is a concept that fundamentalist religious people have a difficult time accepting...likely because of their severely binary, black/white thinking.  Less strict Christians seem to have no problem with it, however.  The problem is, however, that there is no debunking in religion--there is no self-correcting mechanism that says, "Oops--we're wrong...let's go back and re-write that in our holy books."  In fact, when that actually does happen--as in when Mormons excised polygamy, or allowed blacks to be elders--it doesn't make the religion look more water-tight...it makes it look less.  That is because it is a faith-based system, not an evidence-based one.  Corrections to a faith-based system collapse that system more often than not, because it is typically an all-or-nothing affair.  Science isn't an all-or-nothing affair.  It is supposed to correct itself as new evidence becomes available.  Just because it is wrong at some point doesn't invalidate science as a whole.  Eventually it self-corrects.  That is a amazing part about it.  As time goes by, it only get better and more accurate in its information about the universe we live in.  I think this is why evangelicals have such a hard time accepting evolution--they constantly mention Darwin and darwinism, as if what Darwin discovered is still the science of the day.  Science has evolved (pun intended) past Darwin's knowledge by 150 years.  When I see an evangelical attacking Darwin's information, I feel like asking them if by attacking Washington's slave ownership, does that invalidate the Constitution of the United States?

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Here's something to think about - the Old Testament of the Bible gave us 10 Commandments. The New Testament gave us only 1 - love each other.
The Hebrew Bible gave us 300 commandments. The New Testament gave us several new ones, and also stated that the Hebrew Bible was still to be obeyed (slavery, genocide, sexism and child-execution and all).

The Hebrew Talmud does not distinguish between the first ten rules of Moses (what Christians call the Ten Commandments) and all the rest (no shellfish, no wearing mixed cloth, no women wearing pants, menstruating women hiding for a week, not mixing dairy and meat products--no cheeseburgers, gays and rude children are an abomination, rape victims must marry their rapists, etc.)  The commandments are just the first ten of them, but for some reason a large number of the rest are ignored by most Christians...like no bacon.

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They are the basis for our Bill of Rights, our Constitution and our laws regarding property, inheritance, banking and intellectual rights.
Soooo....."America is a Christian Nation?" No it's not. Most of your founding fathers were deist or even out and out atheists, and the constitution was written purely on a secular basis, with the idea of freedom of and freedom from religion being very important in that document. Go look into the bill of rights and the constitution. America was NOT founded on Christian ideals. Quite the opposite; the founding fathers saw what religion did to Europe, and actively tried to avoid a similar situation. So...no. The USA was deliberately created as a secular nation from the outset, NOT based on religious ideals.

In a less combative tone...no, America was not founded, in the Constitution, as a Christian nation.  Christianity, Jesus, and God are not mentioned once in the Constitution.  'Creator'--not God or Jesus--is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence...but that was a letter to the King of England, not a binding law of the United States of America.  The USA as a nation did not exist until the Constitution was ratified.  And not all of the Founding Fathers were Deists or atheists...but a significant portion were.  Quotes of such:

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"I have diligently perused every line that Washington ever gave to the public, and I do not find one expression in which he pledges, himself as a believer in Christianity. I think anyone who will candidly do as I have done, will come to the conclusion that he was a Deist and nothing more."
-- The Reverend Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in an interview with Mr. Robert Dale Owen written on November 13, 1831, which was publlshed in New York two weeks later, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, pp. 27

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Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, what could be invented to debase the ancient Christianism which Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christian factions, above all the Catholics, have not fraudulently imposed upon the public? Miracles after miracles have rolled down in torrents.
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, December 3, 1813, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

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Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., April 1, 1774, quoted from Edwin S Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation (1987) p. 37, quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"

And one from Lincoln:

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My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J S Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death (Willie died in 1862), quoted by Joseph Lewis in "Lincoln the Freethinker," also appearing in Remsburg's "Six Historic Americans"

Most Americans were Christians at the founding of the nation...but its intellectuals and leaders were not.  In fact, I would state that if not for these less-than-religious men, we would not have the nation we have today.

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You would dismiss those traditions in favor  of a kind of system of "moral relativism". Under your rules anybody could conceivably be justified in doing literally anything at all, given the right circumstances. Out of money? Steal. Sexually frustrated? Rape. Annoyed by somebody you don't like? Murder.
No. That's a strawman. I advocate humanist morals and reasonable situational morality. I explained this in more detail earlier in this post and earlier in this thread. You know what does advocate killing people who disagree? The bible. Rape? The bible. The rape victim marrying her rapist? The bible. Stoning children to death for speaking back? The bible. Please don't strawman me, and please know more about the rules presented in your holy book before claiming that western laws are modelled on the bible when they aren't. They were, once upon a time, but they have since evolved and changed into rules that are more inclusive and fair to almost everybody. We're still working out the kinks, but we're getting there.

I have found so many Christians ask me how I can live with such an empty life, without God--including my own family.  They seem utterly incapable of empathizing; of thinking from a different point of view than their own.  If they cannot live without their precepts--or, more accurately, with their deity enforcing those precepts--then that is their choice.  I need no threat to be a decent human being--being decent makes logical sense.  Of course I can be moral without God--my own behavior should prove it.  Again, our nation is built on laws that do not proclaim in any way, shape, or form any deity.  Am I to believe that most Christians think that anyone who is not a Christian--religious or otherwise--is a feckless, wicked barbarian?  I hold honor and personal responsibility at the highest level.  And while I do not take offense at so many of Christian ideology relegating me and my life to a worthless and bleak existence, ending in hellfire...I do not expect any reward when I die, but neither do I need to be threatened by eternal damnation to be a compassionate and considerate person.  I choose, and alone choose, to do good deeds--not because I am ordered to, but because I want to.

Something I do want to note, however--most problems atheists have with Christians stem from fundamentalist evangelicals.  When I am considered on a national poll here in the US to be lower than pedophile priests and Islamic terrorists simply because I choose not to believe in a deity, I have to call foul.  I'm afraid that poll is true--google it if you wish, it's sad but true.  Some Christians see atheists as a dire threat...simply because they raise questions the black/white crowd don't want to think about.  That's right--they don't want to think.  It was the Tree of Knowledge, after all, that ruined Adam and Eve, wasn't it?  That parable made it very clear not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, as far as I'm concerned.  Don't question, just follow and obey.  You're born ruined--you're bad to start.  Only I can fix you, and I alone.  Trust me, I know what's best.  And if you dare even think of something wrong--I'll know what's going on in your head and you'll be punished for it.  That concept of the Christian God is an abomination to me.  Christopher Hitchens called it 'The Celestial Dictatorship'.  Evangelical Christianity is as much a cult as any other, and far more dangerous.  Moderate Christians--like Catholics, who have no problem with evolution, had a pope who forgave Galileo for just pointing out the heavens change, and accept much of the bible as figurative--they are the much more rational ones.  Liberal Christians--they don't denounce me or hate me for who I am, and that seems more Christ-like than anyone else.  I believe just like most Christians that The Beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount are a beautiful treatise on how to treat and view other people...but evangelicals seem much more focused on Old Testament brimstone and hellfire than the forgiveness and meekness of much of Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 07:06:47 AM by HannibalBarca »