Author Topic: A Coherent Defense of Christianity  (Read 15871 times)

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Offline GetMeThere

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #58 on: January 24, 2010, 03:03:03 AM »
My point is that faith, as it has been regarded throughout history, in particular by the Catholic Church, is something very different. It's not baldfaced assertions of whatever you feel like. It is knowledge based on testimony. A little historical knowledge of the use of the term would help you.

"Knowledge based on testimony" is generally considered to be something like..."adjudicated fact."

Faith is: "the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing."


Ok, I gotta be honest. I certainly expected hostility, but it seems to me that, besides a few exceptions, most people here are engaging in the very behaviors you condemn in others, and more to the point, the very kind of anti-intellectualism the essay this forum is named after is meant to combat. Many of you are religious zealots, it seems, of the "all religion is stupid" religion. I do wish there were a way to avoid that. Maybe a moderated debate would have been better.

You disparage the concept "all religion is stupid" as anti-intellectualism.

I wonder, would you disparage the idea "all new-age religions, such as astrology and crystal-healing, are silly" ??

Many here have the idea that religion itself is explicitly irrational (i.e., "stupid") because the basis for religion is faith in the unseen and undemonstrated. There are MANY intellectuals who hold the idea that "all religion is stupid" (even if they would avoid making that direct statement). You're being unrealistic to the point of infantile whining if you expect to come to an atheist forum and not meet the attitude that "all religion is stupid." Does resorting to that sort of whining mean you're feeling less confident of your arguments?

Offline d_senti

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #59 on: January 24, 2010, 03:31:03 AM »

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Jazzman: I did say all of Scripture. I should have put a qualifier on that, however, namely that belief in the New Testament by definition supersedes the Old. It states as much in the New Testament, so a belief in the whole of Scripture would by definition mean the expiration of the Old Covenant and Mosaic Law. I think that should clear upt he contradiction.
Thank you, but you've muddied the water.

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What you're saying, essentially, is that Christians can ignore Mosaic Law.  Do I read you correctly?
One need not "believe" in the whole of scripture if part of that whole has been rescinded, made obsolete by newer teachings.  That which is obsolete is no longer relevant.  If Mosaic Law has been rescinded, it is no longer relevant to Christian belief.  Is this correct?

If that's correct, then your earlier statements about Christians believing in ALL of the Bible contradict what you said here.

No, it does not contradict what I said earlier. The New Testament states, unequivocally, that Mosaic Law is rescinded. That means that if we believe EVERY individual statement in the Bible, we will accept that Mosaic Law has been rescinded. It is the Bible itself that rescinds Mosaic Law, and so it is belief in the entire Bible that causes one to believe Mosaic Law is rescinded. We STILL believe that the Mosaic Law was the Word of God, but it is no longer in force. A similar example would be the Constitutional Amendment repealing prohibition. We still believe and accept that prohibition took place and was illegal after the amendment that made it so, but in reading the Constitution we see that it is rescinded. Get what I mean, or am I being obtuse? (I mean that sincerely, not trying to be snooty.)

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I also find morally repugnant the New Testament notion that women are subservient to men, as described in Corinthians.

I do not, for one reason: the subservience is one of mere position, not of essential being. The Bible does not say that women are intrinsically of less worth than a man, only that men hold a positional superiority over them. Nature is hierarchical, and the purpose of it was twofold: to avoid dissension, and as a punishment for original sin. I find nothing repugnant about a positional superiority of one person over another; if I did, I would be morally opposed to having a boss or president.

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As for the laws I mentioned, I accept they were the laws for the Jewish people.  I accept that some of them were directed at rabbis and other religious leaders (the rabbinical Holiness Code), and some were directed at the population as a whole.  So I don't think for a moment those laws are false in the sense that they didn't exist for Jews to follow.

What I believe is false is the notion those laws came from God.  That they came from God was probably an effective inducement to obedience for a Jewish population that was largely ignorant and illiterate, especially given that they lived in a time when people took for granted the existence of deities and miracles and other such nonsense.  But those laws had the same human origin as all other laws that govern humans.

Right, that's what I meant, the second case. I assumed you believed they were a historical reality, but thought they were not from God. I certainly disagree that "deities and miracles" are nonsense, obviously, but I see nothing wrong with the idea that some, or even most, of the laws codified by God in the Old Testament were originally of human origin.

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But therein lies the problem.  You can find Christians from all denominations who assert their interpretation of the Bible is correct and all others false.  

Absolutely. But, as the essay points out, certain aspects are simply common sense. For instance: 1 Cor. 11:5 "But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. 7 The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man." This is a quote used in the essay. It's quite clear what the Bible is teaching here. Women are supposed to wear a veil. Anyone can see that.
The reality is that people can distort anything, hold distorted positions on anything, and interpret anything any way that pleases them, but the fact that they can do this doesn't make it impossible to see the original meaning. Again, a distinction between Catholics vs. Protestants is that Catholics look at the Bible in the context of history, tradition, and the interpretation of such passages by people who lived in those times and cultures. Protestants do not, and as a result they have a multitude of interpretations and tens of thousands of sects. Simply because there are ten interpretations of something doesn't mean that there isn't a correct one. Same goes for a thousand. And the correct one would be both 1. the one that is most obvious in cases that are direct and clear, and 2. the one that complies with a historical and cultural understanding of the text. Any unbiased observer can see that St. Paul, in this passage, clearly intended women to wear veils.

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Two or more people can have faith in God and not know a damn thing about the Bible.  They can have wildly differing views about what the Bible says on this thing or that, but they can all have the same amount of faith in God to answer prayers.  It's faith that Jesus taught, not knowledge of or adherence to the Bible.  When he talked about prayer moving mountains, he was talking about faith, not knowledge.  And there's no way to measure a person's faith.

If God exists and has the knowledge Christians say he has, then a person's faith in God is a matter between God and the person.  No one apart from those two entities can know whether the person has faith in God.  We certainly can't measure that by what a person believes about the Bible.

I don't disagree that a person's faith is a matter between God and the person. But we can make analyze a person's beliefs based on what they say they believe. We do it all the time. That's why there are "Marxists" or "Protestants" or any group at all - it's an assessment and categorization of people's beliefs.
Jesus said the statements in the essay, numerous times, along the lines of "if you believe nothing is impossible for you...I will grant anything asked in My name." My point is this: believe what, exactly? Jesus didn't mean "if you believe that rainbows make Skittles then I will grant your prayers." He meant something specific when He said "if you believe." He meant if you believe His teachings, as He taught them. The only sources we have of that teaching today are the Bible and Tradition (other historical testimony from people who knew the apostles, etc.). They teach the same things. Unless one posits that the teachings of Jesus have been lost, His teachings are what is contained in the Bible. So, for all practical purposes for us today, He means "whoever believes what the Bible teaches," even though He didn't say as much explicitly.
You say He emphasized faith above all. I agree. But He meant a particular kind of faith, faith in Him and what He taught, not any indiscriminate faith in anything whatsoever. I think all reasonable people can agree to that.

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I think what you've done here is establish an argument for true Christianity based on a notion that allows you to feel comfortable with your particular brand of Christian belief.  You're not the first to do so, and you won't be the last.  You're in good company.  No matter what your particular Christian beliefs are, you can find another Christian who won't waste time telling you you're apostate because your beliefs depart from true Christian doctrine.

Just the opposite, in fact. I was raised Lutheran, marginally, left that early on after seeing how shallow and ridiculous it was, and became agnostic after delving headfirst into studying various scientific fields. I concluded that science has serious gaps in its knowledge, as we all can see, and thought those gaps might be filled by an understanding of history, philosophy, and religion. I studied all three in depth, including all the world's religions, weighed them against what I could deduce from reason, and concluded that Catholicism was correct. I know that the vast majority don't do that, and so you'd generally be safe in assuming I have molded my beliefs to make myself comfortable. But I did not.

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That no human has ever regrown a lost limb is indisputably true.  It’s not exceedingly rare; it’s impossible.  Humans cannot regrow their amputated body parts.  Our biology makes that impossible.

Any story about humans regrowing their amputated body parts is self-evidently  and  undeniably false.  No amount of investigation can prove that even one human being in human history regrew an amputated body part.  Sans the proper anatomical knowledge, surgical equipment and operating conditions, no person can reattach another person’s amputated body part.  Not even Jesus.  The notion that he did such things is laughable.

It's obviously impossible according to biology. No one's disputing that. But you are merely asserting your beliefs here. You say "it can't happen, therefore anywhere where it says it did happen is false." A truly scientific mindset can't say that it's impossible, nor can a truly open-minded person. We should all have the humility to know that we don't know everything, and therefore can't say that something can't possibly ever happen unless it is inherently self-contradictory (a square circle, for instance). I don't expect you to believe that it HAS happened. Only that, under certain conditions, it could, for instance in a universe where God exists.

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Actually, we’re not talking about the teachings of the Bible as a whole.   We’re talking about the specific teachings that tell Christians that if they pray with faith that God will grant their request.  It has nothing to do with whether people believe all the other stuff in the Bible, like women wearing veils, etc.

As I said above, it has everything to do with that. It's a question of what Christ meant by believe, as I explained. He meant specific beliefs, not simply the act of believing in anything. It's not an interpretation. It's common sense. For instance, you believe in atheism (whether your belief is justified is of no importance for this example). Was Christ talking about you? Of course not. We can all see that.

You even say it yourself: "Certain passages are pretty clear that the person is to have faith that God will grant their request, not that God will grant the request if the person believes what Jesus taught."

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Atheism is not a religious affiliation.  It’s a state of non-belief in deities.

I know. That's what I was saying. The term atheism is positional.

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You’re quite wrong about that d_senti.

An atheist doesn’t believe deities exist.
A theist believes in at least one deity.
A person can be an agnostic atheist.  A person can be an agnostic theist.  A person can be a gnostic atheist.  A person can be a gnostic theist.
Agnosticism refers to knowledge, not belief.  Atheism and theism are terms that refer to beliefs.  A person is a theist or an atheist.  Both can be agnostic regarding their knowledge about deities.  Agnosticism is not a separate category from theist and atheist; it’s part of both.

Since agnosticism refers to knowledge, it is a statement whether someone "knows" (in their opinion at least) whether or not God exists. To the question "Does God exist?" you can either state "Yes," "No," or "I don't know." If you are uncertain, that's saying I don't know. So an agnostic atheist is an agnostic. If you're certain about either position, you are one of those two positions. If you're not certain, you're agnostic. The term literally means "without knowledge," aka "I don't know." Like I said.

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And you’ll note that many people here and in the world at large see as idiotic the belief the Bible is valid.  And that feeling isn’t limited to atheists.  But expressing those ideas here gets us nowhere.

You misunderstood my statement. I said that simply quoting the Bible at someone who doesn't accept the Bible is idiotic, not that not believing in the Bible is idiotic.

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Jesus never taught that women should wear veils in church.  That’s Paul’s idea, and it’s the example you offered very early in this discussion.   As a doctrinal position, that idea came well after Jesus died.  Clearly, a person can be a true Christian and reject the idiotic notion that women must be veiled in church, because Jesus didn’t teach it.

There are three possibilities when it comes to the Bible. For the sake of argument, assume Christ was really the Son of God. The question, of course, is this: "Is the New Testament the teachings of Christ?" If the answer is no, then that's the game. We don't know the teachings of Christ, so there's no reason to bother even discussing it. If the answer is yes, then one can't pick and choose what to believe from it as "Christ's teachings." I can't throw out the teachings I don't like and then say "I believe the teachings of Christ," because I don't. I reject some of them.
If the answer is "partly" or "i don't know" or any position in between the two, then we've entered a confusing mess that's impossible to navigate. There is nothing in the Bible that can be easily pointed to as false compared to the rest, or a later addition, and so on. So any in between answer is "i don't know," which leads one to the same conclusion as a no answer. Game over. There's nothing to talk about, because it's impossible to derive an accurate picture of what He taught and what is simply ascribed to Him but from someone else.
In the case of both "no" and "i don't know," the Incarnation becomes entirely pointless. And according to the Standard Model of God, as the essay calls it, He by definition can't do anything superfluous. So we end up with a clear statement:

IF Christianity is true, THEN the Bible is as well.

Cuz if it's not, or if we don't know, then we don't have any idea what Christ taught or what happened, which means it was pointless, which means God did something pointless, which means God is not God. Reductio ad absurdum.

Offline d_senti

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #60 on: January 24, 2010, 03:33:24 AM »
Odin and Getmethere: I'm tired. I'll get to you guys later. :) Gnight for now.

Offline GetMeThere

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #61 on: January 24, 2010, 05:03:15 AM »
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That no human has ever regrown a lost limb is indisputably true.  It’s not exceedingly rare; it’s impossible.  Humans cannot regrow their amputated body parts.  Our biology makes that impossible.

Any story about humans regrowing their amputated body parts is self-evidently  and  undeniably false.  No amount of investigation can prove that even one human being in human history regrew an amputated body part.  Sans the proper anatomical knowledge, surgical equipment and operating conditions, no person can reattach another person’s amputated body part.  Not even Jesus.  The notion that he did such things is laughable.

It's obviously impossible according to biology. No one's disputing that. But you are merely asserting your beliefs here. You say "it can't happen, therefore anywhere where it says it did happen is false." A truly scientific mindset can't say that it's impossible, nor can a truly open-minded person. We should all have the humility to know that we don't know everything, and therefore can't say that something can't possibly ever happen unless it is inherently self-contradictory (a square circle, for instance). I don't expect you to believe that it HAS happened. Only that, under certain conditions, it could, for instance in a universe where God exists.

The above is a good example of the sort of muddled thinking we see here all the time--and how it's necessary to muddle one's thinking in order to be religious. Watch the twist, in step-by-step fashion:

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It's obviously impossible according to biology. No one's disputing that.

A reasonable fact, stated by a reasonable person, and confirmed by the believer. We're all rational and reasonable afterall, aren't we? NO ONE'S DISPUTING THAT.

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You say "it can't happen, therefore anywhere where it says it did happen is false." A truly scientific mindset can't say that it's impossible, nor can a truly open-minded person.

The wedge goes in: No matter how REASONABLE and ORDINARY a statement is, if it's not the most PERFECT and ABSOLUTE statement ever uttered, then, well...it really doesn't mean much at all, does it? "A baseball player can't hit a homerun that flies for five miles--nothing remotely LIKE THAT has ever been seen, and our understanding of the human body suggests it would be impossible. Therefore, any report of a homerun that DID travel five miles is false."...."well, but does that mean it really CAN'T happen?" Such a response would be considered juvenile in adult conversation.

So, the wedge goes in: perfectly ordinary and reasonable assertions can be QUESTIONED. And they can be questioned at a FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL--not by the presentation of extraordinary evidence, but by saying that we can't be SURE of ANYTHING. (of course, isn't it ironic that those who continually suggest this are those very same people who are SURE of the existence of invisible and undemonstrable things)

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We should all have the humility to know that we don't know everything, and therefore can't say that something can't possibly ever happen unless it is inherently self-contradictory (a square circle, for instance).

The wedge splits: It is a CHARACTER FLAW to be reasonable! People who come to common, ordinary, reasonable, initial conclusions should be HUMBLE, and leave room (apparently PLENTY of room--given the insistence on humility) for those who wish to make SUPERNATURAL, EXTRAORDINARY, and UNREASONABLE claims.

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I don't expect you to believe that it HAS happened. Only that, under certain conditions, it could, for instance in a universe where God exists.

The mind falls into pieces: The world of the UNreasonable exists, and those who are REASONABLE must agree to that, based on their reason and fairness--but without evidence.


But here is the REALITY:

1) Certain observations can be made: we don't see limbs regrow, and we're aware of very strong biologic reasons why they can't.
2) VAGUE historical claims of ancient magic exist that some limbs HAVE regrown
3) The TRUTH can only be 1 OR 2, and not 1 AND 2.

At this point there are ONLY two options open to someone confronting the above facts:

a) Decide it is impossible to distinguish between alternative #1 and #2[1]
b) Come to a decision about the truth of #1 vs #2 by use of a method expected to be useful in determining truth.

If one chooses "A" then one must face the problem that the same question comes up in almost ALL everyday circumstances; the world is a VERY BIG PLACE, and there are ENDLESS claims being made (or have been made in the past). Once you say you can know nothing you might as well eat out of garbage bins and struggle to find a different warm place to huddle every night--KNOWING things is impossible, so why try?

If one chooses "B" then the decision is quick and easy:
1) We have very good ordinary evidence of the type used everyday (even in life saving situations, like deciding what to eat, or looking before crossing the street).
2) We KNOW there are ENDLESS reports of fantastic healings, both current and into the distant past.
3) Curiously...such miraculous reports just NEVER SEEM TO GET VERIFIED--despite the great interest of many people in verifying them. Paranormal events ABOUND, but none has been confirmed.

Given the above, the conclusion that limbs don't regrow MUST be made. Qualifications like "we can't KNOW it's impossible" and "a different universe could exist" are NOT RELEVANT to making this decision.[2] In fact, science and rationality have so far been the ONLY METHODS we've found to discover or distinguish true things--all begging and insistence that other things MIGHT be true notwithstanding.
 1. And this one is quite common among visitors here. If it's IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW what is true, then the universe they imagine, with gods and miracles is EXACTLY as plausible as an apparent rational one. In fact, believers ALL fall somewhere on this spectrum--they make a SPECIAL PLEADING for reality to be something different than it appears. They do this to JUSTIFY their beliefs in things that aren't seen to exist.
 2. Needless to say, if someone would like to SHOW US a limb regrowing we should be pleased to see it, and would modify our conclusions about the possibility. To do OTHERWISE is to embrace IGNORANCE. Nothing about being RATIONAL and making rational decisions based on available evidence eliminates the possibility of LEARNING or NEW KNOWLEDGE. On the contrary, if FAVORS just that--whereas it is religion that tends to REJECT new learning in favor of ancient, unchangeable ideas.

Offline Dragnet

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #62 on: January 24, 2010, 06:31:33 AM »
Paul never met Jesus.

It can be argued that Paul is/was the architect of the first schism within the early church, as evidenced by the rift between him and Peter and James.

I am responsible with my actions NOW so I don't HAVE to be responsible for them later.

Offline anthony_retford

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #63 on: January 24, 2010, 08:42:23 AM »
I do not, for one reason: the subservience is one of mere position, not of essential being. The Bible does not say that women are intrinsically of less worth than a man, only that men hold a positional superiority over them. Nature is hierarchical, and the purpose of it was twofold: to avoid dissension, and as a punishment for original sin. I find nothing repugnant about a positional superiority of one person over another; if I did, I would be morally opposed to having a boss or president.

I object to this paragraph. You make the claim that subservience (of a woman wearing a veil) is just positional, not having to do with the relationship. But then you further state that nature is the cause of this positional mandate but you throw in it is a punishment for 'original sin'. So you combine religion and nature now to justify your belief in having a woman wearing a veil. What has this 'original sin' got to do with nature?

Men and women are not 'positional' in their relationships. We can copulate in any position we care to. You would not fuck your boss so that is why you have a position apart from him or her. You would have women wear a veil and most likely walk behind the god-like man figure, because you see women as only a reflection of the glory of man. You really should go and live in Saudi Arabia, in Medinah, where your women can all wear clothes to completely cover themselves up and walk behind you.

A women is a human being, not of a lesser 'position' than a man. I am sorry for you if you treat the women in your life as positional objects.
People are 'erroneously confident' in their knowledge and underestimate the odds that their information or beliefs will be proved wrong. They tend to seek additional information in ways that confirm what they already believe.
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Offline Aaron123

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #64 on: January 24, 2010, 10:17:54 AM »
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No, it does not contradict what I said earlier. The New Testament states, unequivocally, that Mosaic Law is rescinded. That means that if we believe EVERY individual statement in the Bible, we will accept that Mosaic Law has been rescinded. It is the Bible itself that rescinds Mosaic Law, and so it is belief in the entire Bible that causes one to believe Mosaic Law is rescinded. We STILL believe that the Mosaic Law was the Word of God, but it is no longer in force.

So, when Isaiah 40:8 says "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.", that was wrong?

Likewise, Matthew 5:17-19 would seems to think otherwise.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Hope you're prepared to be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
Being a Christian, I've made my decision. That decision offers no compromise; therefore, I'm closed to anything else.

Offline Gimpy

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #65 on: January 24, 2010, 10:55:41 AM »
Just a note, this very basic explanation below is why religion fails. As mentioned above, each and every tenant of a religion (in this case, Catholicism, but it's key because it is through this church's organization that the New Testament, as we know it today, came about to begin with), is, indeed, man-made. It's admittedly determined by man what goes in and what stays out and what all that's in there "means." It's just they add the invisible layer of Divine Revelation (a circular argument) to validate it.

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The development of the canon of Scripture illustrates the Catholic view of the authority of the Church. During the early centuries of the Church there was wide disagreement over which books formed the canon. For instance, many considered several books not found in the New Testament today to be part of Sacred Scripture, such as Clement's Letter to the Corinthians or The Shepherd of Hermas. On the other hand, some questioned or rejected the canonicity of books ultimately included, such as Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, and Revelation. However, this issue was ultimately settled through church councils, and papal pronouncements.

Thus, for the faithful Catholic, the reason one ultimately accepts that the books found in the canon are inspired is because he trusts the Holy Spirit to guide and protect the Church's official teachings in matters of faith and morals. Whether the issue is the canon of Scripture or the proper understanding of a biblical passage, orthodox Catholics view the Church's ability to teach authoritatively as God's gift to humanity to protect His revelation for all times and peoples. The Church maintains that God instituted the three pillars of Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium (the Church's teaching authority) to uphold His revelation to humankind. "In accord with God's most wise design," they are "so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others. . . " Any consideration of the Catholic Church's relationship to the Bible must be preceded by this foundation of the Catholic view of Divine Revelation.
Source: http://www.bible-researcher.com/catholic-intro.html

So. Divine Revelation is "God's most wise design" AND "God's gift to humanity." So we wouldn't question "God's most wise design" or his "gift to humanity," IF we are faithful, right?

And don't even THINK about questioning the Magisterium, because we already told you it was inextricably linked to the other two "pillars," Scripture (which we determine the meaning of) and Tradition (which we allow or promote).

A most circular argument if I ever saw one.

In addition, one must accept that there is a god and that this god has an XO called the holy spirit that whispers in people's ears what parts of the bible are true, what parts are literal, and what parts are metaphor or allegory.

How does one come to rationally accept that there is a god that blows secrets into people's ears about the bible?

The secret messenger told the "Church."

And the foundation for the secret messenger, and god, is in the bible. . . .wait, didn't we just pass this exit?

Not all those who wander are lost; some are buried in my backyard. . .

Offline d_senti

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #66 on: January 24, 2010, 02:45:48 PM »
I'm quite certain you'll all dismiss this as a cop out, or an inability to reply to certain things that were said. I assure you that's not true, and if anyone wishes to email me to discuss or debate things further in a civil fashion, feel free to do so: d_senti@hotmail.com.
But the responses here - not all of them mind you, but many - are inherently hostile, antagonistic, and haughty. You are not the enlightened few you pretend yourselves to be. Your attitudes during this whole thing smacks of insincerity. The sheer level of hostility that seem embedded in every reply I get suggests to me that you don't so much not believe in God as hate the very idea of one, and the people who believe in one.
I came here seeking sincere debate, and I stand by that. I'm absolutely willing to continue discussing this stuff and answer any objections anyone presents, including the ones stated here that I have yet to answer. I am not perfect, I do not know everything, but I know quite a bit on these fields. But every single detail of everything I say, no matter how obviously true, is torn apart like it's the most absurd statement in the history of mankind.
For instance, I stated that a rational person understands they don't know everything, and that therefore the potential exists, however unlikely, of things occurring outside of their understanding. I'm not saying that you should believe they have. I certainly haven't presented any proofs on the scale of scientific methodology (though to dismiss any and every statement in history as superstitious magic is a great insult and disservice to far smarter men than us). I've only presented a few historical testimonies.
But what other proof could be presented in my argument? My supposition was that there are almost no Christians left in the world who follow the Bible, and therefore it certainly makes sense that prayers today show normal statistical distribution. If it is true, then the ONLY examples we even could have are historical ones, which you dismiss out of hand. But did any of you respond to, or even look into, the example of Fatima in 1917, where 70,000 people saw the same miracle? Of course not.
It's not fallacious thinking to accept that reality is far greater than we can currently understand. You cannot definitively say there is no God, or even other beings of vastly greater intelligence with the ability to do these things. Any rational person, including great men like Sagan, could accept that. As I said, there is a very big difference between believing something DID happen (I wouldn't expect that from any of you) and if it COULD happen. It is intellectually disingenuous or maddeningly egotistical to say that something outside of your current understanding could never, under any circumstances or conditions, happen. Again, this is something all reasonable people accept. We don't know everything.
You all assume that reality can only be accurately perceived through the lens of scientific inquiry. This is false. There are many things we know, and accept as true, that have not held up to those rigors. Scientific methodology is a wonderful tool for understanding all manner of things. But it doesn't replace things like history (including personal history), deduction, and philosophy. It is based on philosophy.
To be blunt, I have seen very little sincerity, genuine curiosity, or reasonableness here. As I said, anyone who wishes to engage in sincere, honest debate may email me (please no random hatemail, I'll just delete it) at d_senti@hotmail.com. This includes however many people out there may have read this stuff but just didn't comment.
I enjoy these discussions. But I have very little control in this environment, and it is already a very difficult task to debate twenty people at once, even if they are sincere and reasonable, as some of you have been. This is a community largely locked in groupthink and inherently hostile to the idea that ANY religious belief whatsoever could have a reasonable foundation, even if it is distorted by most people today. Case in point: St. Thomas Aquinas. He was a man who is of vastly greater intelligence than any of us, and supplied an extremely strong, rigorous proof of Catholicism through philosophical deduction. And he is one of thousands or millions in that category.
I honestly believed that most of you would be men like Dawkins, or the writer of the essay that inspired this forum. I joined this forum specifically because the essay was so well written and reasonable. But I have neither the time nor the inclination to debate with people who are entirely insincere in their efforts. What's the point of doing so? You are quite certain you already know everything.
So this is my last post. I fully expect the juvenile behavior of people taking shots at me or celebrating my departure on this thread after I'm gone. Just know that, as a person who came here sincerely, I am leaving profoundly unimpressed.

Offline ReasonIsOutToLunch

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #67 on: January 24, 2010, 02:52:32 PM »
Goodbye.
God, doesn't know pi.

Offline Tinyal

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #68 on: January 24, 2010, 03:00:09 PM »
I'm quite certain you'll all dismiss this as a cop out, <snip arrogant inane self-deluding strawman nonsense here>



Oh, run away with your 'just because it's never happened doesn't mean it can never happen' strawman crap ideas.  We've seen it all before - you've added nothing, nada, zip zilch to this site, other than confirm your ideas:

1.  Have nothing to do with how Christianity is practiced by the vast, vast number of people (ie - what this site is about), and
2.  Your arrogance knows no bounds.

I for one (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) am perfectly happy if I never read, see, or hear from you - or anyone like you - ever again, in whatever length of time I have left.

As for this thread (and the OP's strawman ideas?):

Pinin' for the fjords? No....

“It’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This post is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now over! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! This is an ex-post!!"
 - <hats off to Monty Python>

<edit: spelling>
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 03:04:20 PM by Tinyal »
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Offline Levan

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #69 on: January 24, 2010, 03:12:45 PM »
*sigh*

If you're looking for better debating conditions - i.e. without "inherently hostile, antagonistic, and haughty" posts, and many things to respond to at once - I suggest you start a formal debate.

Offline GetMeThere

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #70 on: January 24, 2010, 03:27:01 PM »
I'm quite certain you'll all dismiss this as a cop out

All right. I'll admit it: you've finally made an accurate assessment!

Just know that, as a person who came here sincerely, I am leaving profoundly unimpressed.

May I rephrase?  "Just know that, as a person who came here sincerely, I can't resist the temptation to thumb my nose as I leave."

Offline Gimpy

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #71 on: January 24, 2010, 03:48:57 PM »
In other words, "you guys won't let me argue circular arguments (even if men like Aquinas used circular arguments), so I'm not playing anymore."

Well.

Okay.
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Offline GetMeThere

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #72 on: January 24, 2010, 04:12:15 PM »
In other words, "you guys won't let me argue circular arguments (even if men like Aquinas used circular arguments), so I'm not playing anymore."

Watch out Gimpy. Thomas Aquinas is smarter than all of us put together, therefore, d_scenti is correct in all arguments he makes--and should be treated with special deference. It's logical that way.

Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #73 on: January 24, 2010, 04:15:40 PM »
The parthian shot is a detailed self-fulfilling prophecy. I've never seen that before! &)
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Agga

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #74 on: January 24, 2010, 04:30:56 PM »
I came here seeking sincere debate, and I stand by that.
Actually, I believe you when you say this.

Usually I'm extremely sceptical of theists but I actually believe that you had no hidden agenda like so many of our theist visitors.

Even though I don't agree with any of your religious arguments I felt that you were sincere upon your entrance to the forum.

I'm actually quite disappointed that you, the person, were treated the way you were as I don't think that you, the person, deserved that.

If you read this then I hope you reconsider and come back for another bite at the cherry in the future.


Agga


edit typos
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 04:34:55 PM by Agga »
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Offline Tinyal

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #75 on: January 24, 2010, 05:31:39 PM »
Agga, where (if I may be so bold as to ask) do you feel the OP was treated , as you say in your own words, "the person, were treated the way you  were"?

I see very little of anything the OP claims in this thread - much in the way of directly challenging (or even attacking) his/her ideas, but very little (if, indeed, any) obnoxiousness, rudeness, or similar that one would experience on a xian board (such as 'your going to hell with your wife and children', etc).

The OP (and subsequent posts by the same person) are blantant examples of the OneTrueScotsman fallacy - a textbook example.  Does the OP have any idea how long that argument has been around?  How useless it is?

And when he's told - in no uncertain terms - that both his primary argument, as well as the fact that he redefines words to suit his prior belief - well, then he gets pissed and leaves? (although he's been lurking frequently since then).

Although no one is perfect - and being face to face with irrationality often exacerbates this - I see no overwhelming problem with the way posters have replied (myself included).

Read what the OP thinks of us in his last post.  I see nothing that rises to that level anywhere else in this thread, not more than a tiny bit.

<edit typos, added a sentence)
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 05:39:33 PM by Tinyal »
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Offline GetMeThere

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #76 on: January 24, 2010, 05:52:52 PM »
Agga, where (if I may be so bold as to ask) do you feel the OP was treated , as you say in your own words, "the person, were treated the way you  were"?

It's me. I have a way of being extremely pointed and IMPLYING directly that someone's ideas are stupid. MANY new believing posters disappear after I make a few posts in their direction. I see it as something positive: maybe I've caused them to question their ideas--or maybe I've let them know early on that proselytizing in the form of "friendly argument" isn't going to work; and I think that sort of motivation is very COMMON among visitors here.

Offline anthony_retford

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #77 on: January 24, 2010, 06:06:18 PM »
I object to this paragraph. You make the claim that subservience (of a woman wearing a veil) is just positional, not having to do with the relationship. But then you further state that nature is the cause of this positional mandate but you throw in it is a punishment for 'original sin'. So you combine religion and nature now to justify your belief in having a woman wearing a veil. What has this 'original sin' got to do with nature?

Men and women are not 'positional' in their relationships. We can copulate in any position we care to. You would not f**k your boss so that is why you have a position apart from him or her. You would have women wear a veil and most likely walk behind the god-like man figure, because you see women as only a reflection of the glory of man. You really should go and live in Saudi Arabia, in Medinah, where your women can all wear clothes to completely cover themselves up and walk behind you.

A women is a human being, not of a lesser 'position' than a man. I am sorry for you if you treat the women in your life as positional objects.

What is inherently hostile, antagonistic or haughty about the above d_senti? I took just one small part of your doctrine and discussed it, waiting for your answer. I really am sorry for you if you treat women in your life as positional objects you know but maybe you have a slant on that beyond belief in a supernatural deity that would help me understand you.
People are 'erroneously confident' in their knowledge and underestimate the odds that their information or beliefs will be proved wrong. They tend to seek additional information in ways that confirm what they already believe.
Max Bazenman, Harvard University

Offline GetMeThere

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #78 on: January 24, 2010, 06:29:25 PM »
I enjoy these discussions. But I have very little control in this environment, and it is already a very difficult task to debate twenty people at once, even if they are sincere and reasonable, as some of you have been. This is a community largely locked in groupthink and inherently hostile to the idea that ANY religious belief whatsoever could have a reasonable foundation, even if it is distorted by most people today. Case in point: St. Thomas Aquinas. He was a man who is of vastly greater intelligence than any of us, and supplied an extremely strong, rigorous proof of Catholicism through philosophical deduction. And he is one of thousands or millions in that category.

Case in point of WHAT, I wonder? Let's see:

1) d_scenti says he's besieged by our "groupthink," i.e., lack of intelligence (certainly, lack of ability to think for oneself).
2) Thomas Aquinas was VASTLY more intelligent than everyone on this forum.

So what could be the "case" in which this information serves as a "point?"

It can only be that d_scenti, in HIS vastly greater intelligence (let's recall, he's ALSO smarter and more insightful than "most people today," who have distorted the true religion) is severely put upon to deal with slugs like us in his attempts to argue that OTHER slugs--the great masses of christians who lack his insights--really aren't christians. Recall that his original point of argument is that prayer doesn't work because modern christians aren't truly faithful.

Nice! Narcissists must be treated with sufficient deference or they will become angry and refuse to grace us by the presence of their superior qualities.

Offline ReasonIsOutToLunch

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #79 on: January 24, 2010, 06:35:16 PM »
I have to admit, he did come up with the best thread title I have ever seen. It still makes me laugh. I would say that I hope that my first comment wasn't considered rude, but that would be a lie. If someone is going to post the True Scotsmantmarguement and on top of that display severe megalomania, well I am going to tend to be dismissive. We lose nothing if this person never comes back.
God, doesn't know pi.

Offline Ada-B

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #80 on: January 24, 2010, 06:50:07 PM »
Coherent Defence of Christianity? Er, Mostly Harmless?  :shrug
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Offline jazzman

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #81 on: January 24, 2010, 07:27:26 PM »
It appears d_senti has strong opinions but a weak constitution.  Perhaps d_senti isn't cut out for debate.  C'est la vie.

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Offline Agga

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #82 on: January 24, 2010, 07:39:08 PM »
Agga, where (if I may be so bold as to ask) do you feel the OP was treated , as you say in your own words, "the person, were treated the way you  were"?
You may be so bold... I'm referring to some of the comments that were made towards the OP that I didn't think he deserved.  I'm merely commenting to the OP that I'm disappointed that he was treated that way since I actually believe him when he says that he came here to hold an honest debate.  Sincere theists are a rarity here, especially of late.  My post doesn't mention specifics so maybe it isn't clear to other readers what I'm referring to.  Perhaps I should have been clearer by stating "some of the comments in the thread".


Quote
I see very little of anything the OP claims in this thread - much in the way of directly challenging (or even attacking) his/her ideas, but very little (if, indeed, any) obnoxiousness, rudeness, or similar that one would experience on a xian board (such as 'your going to hell with your wife and children', etc).
Why are you comparing this 'site' to a random theist site and using it as a measure of the 'posts' in this thread?  This site has plenty of obnoxious, devious and two-faced atheist members.  I've been attacked here merely for being an agnostic.  Now that I'm an atheist I'm no longer attacked for that.  Fortunately I have no problem in telling those people directly to get fucked if they don't like it, but not everyone is like that and instead just prefer to leave.

Quote
Read what the OP thinks of us in his last post.  I see nothing that rises to that level anywhere else in this thread, not more than a tiny bit.
What makes you think I haven't already read it?  So you don't see anything in his post that you agree with?  Ok.  Don't agree with it then.  So long as in your disagreement with the OP you don't associate those views with mine and assume that I'm stating the same things in my post as he was in his, since I wasn't.

Quote
The OP (and subsequent posts by the same person) are blantant examples of the OneTrueScotsman fallacy - a textbook example.  Does the OP have any idea how long that argument has been around?  How useless it is?
+
Quote
And when he's told - in no uncertain terms - that both his primary argument, as well as the fact that he redefines words to suit his prior belief - well, then he gets pissed and leaves? (although he's been lurking frequently since then).
I don't agree with his religious arguments.  I also don't agree with him leaving with a parsian shot.  However, since there's been such a large influx of intentionally devious theists recently I found it quite refreshing to see one or two arrive who actually seem sincere.

Regardless of his religious arguments and beliefs, which I don't buy, I'd like to see this guy stick around and get the chance to talk to him since I don't detect one single ounce of intentional deviousness in his posts like I do with so many other theists who come here.  I guess I can do that over email now since he's left an addy.

Quote
Although no one is perfect - and being face to face with irrationality often exacerbates this - I see no overwhelming problem with the way posters have replied (myself included).
"Overwhelming problem" is not a term that I chose to use.




Agga, where (if I may be so bold as to ask) do you feel the OP was treated , as you say in your own words, "the person, were treated the way you  were"?
It's me.
I'm referring to you, am I?  If I was going to single you out I'd say it directly to your face.

I'm just talking to the OP in a general sense since I'd like him to stick around. 

Obviously that's not a view that anyone else seems to be sharing so far, so I guess I'll just stand alone in this case.
I've left WWGHA now, so do everyone else a favour and don't bother replying to my old posts and necromancing my threads.

Offline Gimpy

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #83 on: January 24, 2010, 07:45:13 PM »
But the responses here - not all of them mind you, but many - are inherently hostile, antagonistic, and haughty.

I thought most were pretty fair. But aside from that, I wonder if you know what the meaning of "inherently" is, especially used in this manner. And if so, I'm wondering how you could possibly support the use of that particular adjective, given you would most likely have to have a knowledge of each responder of a certain depth that I don't think is capable on an online forum. By claiming most of the (or even many or some) responses were "inherently" hostile reveals a bias on your end, in reality, and not on the part of anyone here. You clearly have an expectation of hostility, so no doubt see it whether it's really there or not.

Quote
You are not the enlightened few you pretend yourselves to be. Your attitudes during this whole thing smacks of insincerity.

I'm wondering what "attitude" would have smacked of sincerity. Deferring to unsubstantiated claims and circular reasoning, just for the sake of engaging in a discussion with someone else?

Speaking for myself, I can't think of a single moment in my life that I've ever considered myself "enlightened" and can't even imagine ever "pretending" to be so. I readily admit that there is a tremendous body of knowledge in this world of which I have no grasp, exposure or understanding. However, I will concede that I am very aware that 2 + 2 does not equal 5. Even with my math phobia, I can figger that one out.

Quote
The sheer level of hostility that seem embedded in every reply I get suggests to me that you don't so much not believe in God as hate the very idea of one, and the people who believe in one.


"embedded" in every reply? That's a lot of "embeddin'."

And the next part underlined, well, with all due respect, that's quite getting into tinfoil hat territory. So is the accusation of "groupthink," especially when churches and religions are the very 3-D definition of group think. Just because you think that the only reason people don't believe in god is because they hate the idea of one doesn't make it real. And many many people I love very much believe in a god. Why would I hate them for doing so?

I'm also curious as to why anyone would "hate" the very idea of a god. What would be the point or purpose of that mindset?

Not only would it be cool if there were a god, (I have always been intrigued with stories of the supernatural) but think of all the pain and suffering that would disappear.

But then, I think the entire realm of Middle Earth and the fantasies that grew out of that myth would have been cool if it were real, too. I also especially like the idea of fairies. I spent many wasted hours fantasizing that dragonflies are really fairies that live amongst us and I try to envision seeing the world through their eyes.


« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 07:49:35 PM by Gimpy »
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Offline Gimpy

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #84 on: January 24, 2010, 07:50:37 PM »
"Overwhelming problem" is not a term that I chose to use.

Nor is the term "inherently hostile" a term I would chose to use, either.
Not all those who wander are lost; some are buried in my backyard. . .

Offline none

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #85 on: January 24, 2010, 08:42:33 PM »
I'm quite certain you'll all dismiss this as a cop out, or an inability to reply to certain things that were said. I assure you that's not true, and if anyone wishes to email me to discuss or debate things further in a civil fashion, feel free to do so: d_senti@hotmail.com.
But the responses here - not all of them mind you, but many - are inherently hostile, antagonistic, and haughty. You are not the enlightened few you pretend yourselves to be. Your attitudes during this whole thing smacks of insincerity. The sheer level of hostility that seem embedded in every reply I get suggests to me that you don't so much not believe in God as hate the very idea of one, and the people who believe in one....
take your god and play somewhere else.

Offline Agga

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Re: A Coherent Defense of Christianity
« Reply #86 on: January 24, 2010, 08:52:55 PM »
"Overwhelming problem" is not a term that I chose to use.

Nor is the term "inherently hostile" a term I would chose to use, either.
I never said that I don't use the term.

"Chose" and "Choose" are different words.



Your point?
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