Author Topic: Kcrady - old school  (Read 45329 times)

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Offline screwtape

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Kcrady - old school
« on: April 25, 2011, 09:31:55 AM »
I wanted to repost some of kcrady's posts from the old forum so that the new members not familiar with his awesomeness can get a taste.  I will be posting them in chronological order.  Enjoy.

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2011, 09:39:02 AM »
Why Does God Need Us

This is a very interesting and important question, and it is the key to revealing God's true nature.  First of all, it should be obvious that an extradimensional, beyond-the-Universe omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient superduperbeing would have no need of our worship any more than we require the worship of ants or bacteria.  If we saw someone 'revealing his wrath from above' on some anthill, stomping on it because the ants refused to heed his commandments, we'd either laugh, or call for the fellows in the white coats, whether we're Christian or not.

It is obvious then, that a vastly superior being has no need for the worship or obediance of vastly inferior beings, by definition.  And yet, God very clearly demands human worship and obediance.  Furthermore, when confronted with disobediance, unbelief, or belief in rival gods/goddesses, he reacts (and persuades his followers to react) with as much fury and force as he (and they) can muster.  In other words, God acts like a cornered animal whose very survival is at stake.

And so, we have a paradox.  We have claims in the Bible of God's fantastic powers, unlimited knowledge, and inherent indestructibility, but he doesn't act like an omnipotent, infinitely-intelligent, or inherently indestructible and self-sufficient 'Necessary Being.'  What he acts like is a king, an absolutist monarch in the mold of the human rulers who were ubiquitous in Biblical times.  The Bible even refers to God as a capital-K King ("King of Kings and Lord of Lords") repeatedly. 

Once we see God as a king, both the superlative claims of stupendous power made on his behalf, and his "needy" behaviors make perfect sense.  Consider for a moment the Ramesseum, the large temple built by Pharaoh Ramesses II, which was moved to keep it from being inundated by the reservoir created by the Aswan High Dam.  This temple features gigantic statues of Pharaoh Ramesses II, which were obviously the work of highly-skilled artisans.

Now, there is no doubt that this temple was built when Ramesses was alive.  If it were a biblical manuscript, it would be an "original autograph," i.e. like the actual letters Paul wrote with his own hand.  These artisans, or at least their overseers, would have seen Ramesses II in the flesh.  Most likely he even sat for them while they carved a small mock-up to base the larger versions on.  Now, if we interpreted the Ramesseum the way fundamentalist Christians interpret Biblical manuscripts, we would have to claim that the Ramesseum represents archaeological evidence that Pharaoh Ramesses II was a giant who stood over a hundred feet tall.

However, the actual mummy of Ramesses II in the Cairo Museum clearly refutes this.  So how is it that artisans who were eyewitnesses to the life of Ramesses II, who were clearly very skilled at their jobs, could have made a mistake of such proportions when it came to making physical representations of him?  The answer, of course, is that the artisans were not attempting to create "literal," scientifically-accurate representations of Ramesses II.  They had other purposes in mind.

First of all, before it was moved, the Ramesseum stood on the historical border between Egypt and Ethiopia (Kush), a powerful rival kingdom in Ramesses' time.  Any diplomat or merchant from Ethiopia coming to visit Egypt would see it as he entered Egypt.  Obviously, the statues served a propagandistic purpose, demonstrating the might of the Pharaoh and his kingdom.  But that is not all.  The ancient Egyptians believed that portraying something in artwork imbued that something with magical power (heka).  Portraying something larger-than-life imbued it with great power, while portraying something being conquered, or in miniature, magically deprived it of power.  This is why you can go to Karnak and see images of a gigantic Pharaoh spearing a hippopatamus (symbol of the chaos-god Seth) that is, relative to Pharaoh, about the size of a kitten.  The Egyptians believed that these art works served the practical purpose of strengthening the forces of Order (as represented by the king) and crushing the forces of chaos. 

Thus, to the Egyptians, the Ramesseum was an installation of national defense that projected a field of heka south toward Ethiopia to keep that nation submissive and keep the tribute flowing.  And it worked.  Even today, we members of a global techno-civilization the Pharaohs and their priests could not have imagined, stare in awe at the works of the mighty Pharaohs.  Millions of us believe that the Egyptians "must" have had help from extraterrestrials or Atlanteans, wielded magic power-crystals, had an inside-track to the Mysteries, etc..  In other words, thousands of years after the last Pharaoh perished, millions of people still believe exactly what the creators of the Ramesseum wanted the Ethiopians to believe: that the Egyptian civilization (as embodied by the Pharaoh) was more powerful, wiser, and superior to their own.   

Far from being some ultimate, grandiose folly, the monuments of the Pharaohs were, and are, practical constructs that function as effectively (if not more so) today as they did when they were created. 

The Bible is a literary equivalent of the Ramesseum, and like the Ramesseum it is supremely practical (scrolls are much easier to create than giant statues!) and effective for its true purpose.  Its writers never intended to provide an accurate, literal description of God's nature.  This didn't even occur to them until after Judeo-Christianity assimilated Greek philosophy.  We see no real attempts to resolve theological dilemnas in the Bible.  Theologians write intricate treatises on theodicy ("How can a good God allow evil, disasters, etc.?"), laboring over thousands of words to solve the problem.

The Bible writers were utterly indifferent to the issue.  They gave us the Book of Job.  Bad things happen to good people because God has friendly wagers with Satan about how much misery they can tolerate and still believe--and if you don't like it, too bad, because God is lots bigger and more powerful than you are.  Or they just come right out and declare that God is not subject to morality (e.g. the verses where God "forms the light and creates darkness," where he brings "weal and woe", where evil does not befall a city except that "the LORD has done it," Paul's assertion in Romans 9 that God creates some "vessels," i.e. people so he can destroy them, and who are you, O man to object, etc.).

Likewise, you will never find a single verse in the Bible examining whether the "omnipotent" God can create a rock too heavy for him to lift, whether his omniscience (he knows the future perfectly) rules out his free will (he knows in advance everything he will do, and cannot therefore change his mind, and this in turn contradicts his omnipotence), etc.  Systematic Theologies (books intended to explain and spell out Biblical doctrine, coherently describe God's nature, etc.) exist because the Bible isn't one. 

The grandiose descriptions of God's power and might, his wisdom and intelligence exist to serve the practical purpose of gaining human submission, just as the Ramesseum existed to induce the submission of the Ethiopians.  The Bible writers never intended for their writings to be examined in a literal, Greek/rationalistic fashion (and thus to be taken as exact, specific descriptions of God's nature) than the Egyptian artisans intended for anyone to believe that Ramesses II was actually 100 feet tall.

Just as the Egyptians believed that physical representations empowered the persons/beings who were represented in them, so did the Hebrews believe that written or spoken words held power.  God is shown creating the universe by speaking.  Again and again, God makes authoritative announcements with the preface, "thus saith the LORD," and uses the coda, "for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."  The Gospel of John opens by saying, "and the Word was God."

In short: the Bible writers do not describe God's power like naturalists describing an insect--they create God's power by writing it into being, by speaking of it ("praising the LORD"), teaching it to their children, etc.

To answer the question, why does God need worshippers, we need only ask, why does a king need subjects?  A king without subjects is not a king at all.  But with subjects who obey him, a king has enormous, and genuine power.  He can speak a command, and an army marches.  A temple or a palace springs into being.  At the king's word, his enemies can be slaughtered, and an entire nation of people can act as one.

But what sort of a king is God?  After all, a king must exist in some form, in order to reign.  We can point to a Ramesses or a Napoleon, and say, "there he is."  As a human being, he has real needs and wants that his subjects provide.  Furthermore, rebellion, or even indifference is a genuine threat to his power, and he will act to crush both, in exactly the same manner that God acts.  The whole point of having subjects is that they, collectively, have power the king, in himself, does not have.  By himself, he could not raise a palace or a pyramid, or conquer a neighboring nation.

In other words, by proclaiming himself to be a King, God not only confesses that he is not "omnipotent," he admits that humans have power that he lacks.  Everything God commands people to do, from waging wars, to passing collection plates in church, to banning gay marriage is ironclad, demonstrable proof-in-action that God cannot do these things in and for himself.

So we can see that, as a king, God is dependant on the obediance of his subjects.  But we still cannot point at someone sitting on a throne somewhere and say, "there he is, there is God, our King."  Or can we?  The first verse of John's gospel tips God's hand and tells us exactly what sort of entity he is.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  In the movie "The Matrix," we see people in ragged clothes on dismal-looking ships plug interface jacks into their heads, and manifest themselves in an artificial world wearing uber-cool black leather and dark shades.  They fight other entities ("Agents") who do not even have their sort of external existence, but are "made" entirely of software code.

The characters in "The Matrix" upload their consciousnesses into the computer system that contains the software meta-program 'world' of that name.  Thinkers such as Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil and others argue that in the relatively near future we will be able to do this for real, that it will be possible to convert a human consciousness to software (or create a genuinely-intelligent software-being from code) and "upload" it into virtual worlds like the Matrix, or even physical (most likely robotic or cyborg) bodies out here in the "real" world.

But what if software intelligences already exist?  Consider for a moment, a person with Multiple Personality Disorder.  This person is capable of 'running' more than one 'person' on their brain-hardware, storing inactive ones for later activation.  Now, imagine that one of these 'alternate personas' discovered a method of transmitting itself to other people's minds, so that an entire community of people could 'run' this persona in addition to their own normal personalities.

This secondary persona would gain a kind of immortality, passing himself down to succeeding generations of people.  If he could get his hosts to act in concert, he would gain power beyond that of any individual, even a king.  Kings die, they can be assassinated, but a persona living in an entire community of hosts is much harder to kill.

He would gain parallel processing ability that mere individual humans do not possess.  What should he do if a foreign enemy threatens him?  Fight, or submit?  An individual must choose one or the other.  The persona could do both, as one group of his hosts tries organizing a resistance, while another group tries pacifism.  If his army prevails, he wins.  If his army is exterminated, he still has a chance to win over the conquerors via moral persuasion if his pacifist hosts can face death as courageously in the name of nonviolence as his soldiers would in battle.  All he needs is a way for his hosts to spread him to the minds of his conquerors, and their victorious armies are his to command.

Such a being would also be "non-local" or "omnipresent," since a community of hosts in one city could experience his presence while hosts in another city far away could do so at the same time.  Inter-communication between his hosts (i.e. massively-parallel processing carried out by the continual re-integration of all of his copies) enables him to access all of the sense data and thoughts of his entire community of hosts.  As new conditions presented themselves, the persona could adapt and evolve, think and choose, by temporarily taking over the brain hardware of his hosts.

It should be apparent now that this persona would possess the attributes of a god: invisible, immortal, omnipresent, powerful, but with human-like thoughts, feelings, and needs--a disembodied "pure consciousness."

How could such a persona copy itself to multiple minds this way?  Just as a large software download needs to be compressed for transmission, so would a 'god' persona.  Its answer: archetypes.  The earliest gods and goddesses possessed simple personalities centered on basic archetypes: the Mother Goddess, the Father/King, the Warrior God, the Angry God of Chaos/Storms, the Trickster, the Seductress/Goddess of Love, etc.  The simple expedient of defining a god as "a king" compressed an entire slew of behaviors and personality traits into a single word.

Kings are warlike, make great bombastic pronouncements, make laws/institute justice, are jealous of their power ("thou shalt have no kings before me")--but a good king also loves his subjects like a Father (a closely-related archetype) and seeks to bring prosperity to his realm.  Likewise, a Mother loves and nurtures and brings forth life, a Sexy Young Woman stirs desire and offers the promise of pleasure, a Warrior fights, and so on.

These gods and goddesses could compress their 'software' into simple myths, and representative images (the Mother Goddes with her ample breasts, the Fertility/Pleasure goddess with her lissome body and beautiful face, the Warrior with his bulging muscles, spear and shield, the Father/King with his flowing beard and crowned head).  However, their range of adaptability and level of consciousness were limited.  They were cardboard characters trapped in their roles--what does Mars do duing peacetime, or Aphrodite when she's not "in the mood?"

The god of the ancient Hebrews solved this problem in two ways: he eschewed "graven images" in favor of the written Word as his storage medium, and he consolidated into himself most of the functions of the pantheon.  The written Word inscribed on scrolls (instead of stone walls or clay tablets) is denser storage medium (more information per unit of mass), and more portable than statuary.  It has greater fidelity of transmission than oral myths or symbols (the meaning of which can change or be lost over time).  It can be added to when necessary, but can also be 'write-protected' (by 'thou shalt not add unto this Book' commands) so its fidelity is not compromised unless absolutely necessary/advantageous for the god/persona's survival.

By absorbing those functions of the Pantheon compatible with his core nature as King/Father (e.g. Warrior, Sage, Protector, Bringer of Justice, Husband, Creator, Source of Fertility, Lord of the Dead, etc.) and smashing those completely incompatible (Sex-Goddess, the feminine-as-Divine per se), he became as multifaceted as a real person.  And so he is perfect Love and furious wrath (as any parent who spanks their child is on a smaller scale).  He is the gentle Husband and the fierce Warrior.

When his hosts are faced with overwhelming military supremacy of a rival god's followers, as they were in Jesus' day, he calls upon them to be gentle, loving, and peaceful.  When his hosts have the upper hand (as they did after Constantine handed him the Roman Legions) he can be warlike and violent, exterminating the hosts of other gods and their transmission media (temples, statues, books).  Should his armies face defeat, he blames his hosts' wickedness and failure to obey him completely, and his wrath is manifest upon them.  Should his armies prevail, then his might is demonstrated.  Victory or defeat, both are manifestations of his power, so he wins either way.

Since his Word contains commands to surrender to overwhelming enemy force (e.g. the Book of Jeremiah, Jesus' instructions to 'turn the other cheek') and crush them underfoot (e.g. the Book of Joshua, and the Book of Revelation), both options are always available to him, just as they are to an individual faced with the prospect of conflict.

The Bible's contradictory portrayals of his character are not flaws--they are the secrets of his success.  A Christian's "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet is a basic set of sofware instructions:

1. Run 'Jesus Program' (i.e. turn over your brain hardware to his persona)
2. Let him decide what you ought to do in the present circumstance.
3. Act in accordance with his decision.

In other words, the Bible contains stories, commands, monologues, and commentaries sufficient to encode a full-blown, humanlike intelligence that can be 'copied' into human brains by 'reading the Word of God,' 'meditating on it day and night,' 'teaching it to your children and to your children's children,' 'preaching the Gospel,' etc.  The 'code' contains instructions to worship and obey the persona, so that the persona is dominant rather than the host, as well as instructions to 'infect' others with the 'code.'

It also contains a complete set of 'firewalls' to prevent contamination of controlled hosts with hostile god/goddess-personas or incompatible memes.  In his various manifestations, the God of Abraham is arguably the most highly-evolved, adaptable--even intelligent--meme on Earth. 

Why does God need us?  Because without us, he would die.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2011, 09:49:19 AM »
To moshydog, on science

Moshydog wrote:

"Your definition of science is good, but science cannot be used to prove or disprove the existence of God. on the other hand, I haven't heard anyone say with knowledge that science points to the non-existence of god with a solid foundation. Since science deals with the natural, and not the supernatural, science by definition has no qualification to exclusively suggest that there is or isnt a god."

All of this depends on what you mean by "god."  If your definition of "god" is some sort of extradimensional entity that can and does suspend the operational principles of physics at will, that promises people they can do astounding things like make mountains fly into the air and drop into the sea, walk on water, feed crowds out of a lunchbox, part seas, call down fire and brimstone from the sky, etc. etc., then yes, science can demonstrate that such an entity does not exist.

Physics models the behavior of Universe using equations that accurately describe the behavior of infinitesimally-tiny entities (quantum 'particles') down to several decimal places of accuracy.  A "god" defined as you seem to define it would be an elephant in the room.  It would not be possible to create working models of physical behavior (as physics does) without introducing variables to account for his manifest presence and activity.

The only way it could be otherwise is if your "god" pretends he doesn't exist by manifesting absolutely no detectable effects in Universe.  We have scientific instrumentation that can detect neutrinos, particles so diaphenous they can shoot through the planet Earth at light speed as if it wasn't even there.  Now, either "god" (or other undefined entities such as "spirit") can affect entities in Universe, or he cannot.  If he can, he is interfaced with this reality and is, in principle, detectable by scientific instrumentation.  If he cannot, then there is no way to distinguish between his existence and his non-existence, even in principle.

Now, if (as you implicitly confess) there is no way to compare the statements "God exists" and "God does not exist" and find some definite difference we would observe if one was true and the other untrue (as we can with the statements "Electrons exist" and "Electrons do not exist"), then for all practical intents and purposes there is no difference.

In other words, if I say, "Blarks exist, but everything about Universe would be exactly the same if they didn't and you can't prove it either way," then there is no reason for anyone else to accept the existence of blarks.  Why?  Because, A) the burden of proof rests with the person making a positive assertion, B) Occam's Razor eliminates blarks as unnecessary, and C) the hypothesis "blarks exist" does not differ from the hypothesis "blarks do not exist."

"Faith" is not required for disbelief.  A person who has never heard of Jesus Christ--such as a newborn infant--does not need to have faith that he doesn't exist.  How can you have faith in the nonexistence of something you've never heard of?  But he or she still does not believe in Jesus.  How can you have faith in the existence of something you've never heard of?

"Faith" is only necessary if you intend to maintain belief in something in the face of insufficient, non-existent, or contradictory evidence.  As the writer of Hebrews put it, 'Faith is the substance of things not seen.'  Once something is seen (i.e. there's sufficient evidence for it), faith is unnecessary.

Regarding the existence of "god" (as you define the term), it is possible to falsify the claim experimentally, as is demonstrated on the godisimaginary website.  Take those verses where Jesus explicitly spelled out that he definitely answers prayers in miraculous ways.  Add in the narratives of his (alleged) appearances to hundreds of people after his resurrection (it is OK for Jesus to appear to people).  Stir.  Then pray, asking Jesus to appear.  Note the results.

The claims that Jesus answers prayer, that Jesus works miracles, that Jesus can appear to people are all quite testable scientifically.  The experiment can be repeated as often as necessary, with no expensive scientific instruments or facilities needed.  All that's needed is a Christian (OK, maybe "two or more gathered in his name") and a prayer.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2011, 09:54:33 AM »
What does wwgha mean

For you Christians posting here, I would like you to take a moment to consider exactly what it is you're doing with the arguments you're offering, i.e. what, exactly those arguments are designed to do.

They are all answers to one question: Why is it that Universe looks so much like one in which my all-powerful, prayer-answering, miracle-working God doesn't exist?  A Universe in which amputees were magically healed as a result of prayer would look very different from one in which they're not.  We all agree that they're not healed as a result of prayer.  We've got that in common.

We agree that we live in a Universe that is, for all practical intents and purposes, miracle-free.  We all agree that Christian property developers can't ask God to lift mountains out of their way.  People who make earth-moving equipment are in no danger of losing their jobs.  We agree that doctors, the makers of prosthetic limbs, etc. all have job security that no Christian or group of Christians will ever threaten to render obsolete with the power of faith.  Period. 

We agree that even the most devout Christians, if they want to feed starving children in Africa, have to get on TV and raise money, instead of just handing out the loaves and fishes.  Period.  We both agree that even the most devout Christian, if he or she wants to pay the bills or the taxes, has to get a job, send in checks, fill out 1040's, etc.  You can't expect to go catch a fish and have a gold coin fall out of its mouth.  Period.

We agree that Christians and Atheists (as well as Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) are all subject to the same generalized operational principles of physics.  In your day-to-day life, out here in gritty ol' reality, you have to live exactly the same way we do.  Period.

The only difference between us is that you profess to believe in the existence of an entity that can and will suspend those generalized operational principles of physics in response to prayer...but he never ever does (for many perfectly good reasons, of course) except in the legendary past.

In other words, the Universe you live in is every bit as atheistic as ours is.  You just have to go to a great deal of theological rationalization, Bible interpretation, and so forth, to explain why the world we live in is so completely misleading that it looks exactly as it would if your God did not exist.  If it were otherwise, "faith" would be unnecessary. 

An atheist doesn't have to learn the kind of linguistic and scientific Matrix-dodging you have to master to be a Christian.  We can just accept Universe as it is.  If we want to restore amputated limbs, then it's up to us to develop robotic prosthesis technology or the ability to clone, grow, and attach replacements.  And that's exactly what you have to do, too.

The difference between us is that this inescapable fact fits naturally with our worldview.  To make it fit with yours, you have to go to great pains to explain why and how Jesus didn't mean what he said without saying he was lying.  The hypothesis of the miracle-working-God-who-never-does can be sliced away with a simple application of Occam's Razor.   


« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 02:55:02 PM by screwtape »
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2011, 10:02:01 AM »
A little further down in that same thread…wwgha and Terry Schaivo

Quote from: pony1976
nice post. Can I copy it and passs it out on Myspace?

Welcome.

Thanks. :)  Sure, just post it in full and give me attribution (my name is Kevin Crady).

Quote from: generousgeorge
Kcrady......your assumption that you say christians agree with only seems correct to logical non-delusional people. You greatly underestimate the delusion of the many christians I know here in Houston..... 95% of them would vigorously deny and argue your assumptions based on faith and inerrancy of the bible. Strange, but sadly true I'm afraid! I suspect it is the same through most of the USA.

Of course they would argue, much as the Christians on this thread would argue.  The point, however, is how they argue.  Presented with this sort of argument, they can either A) claim that demonstrable, non-ambiguous miracles do exist, or B) bob and weave giving reasons why they don't, or only exist in inaccessable places like the distant past, or "a church I heard of."

If they choose path A, they've entered the realm of facts and evidence.  Astounding miraculous power is, by definition, astounding and powerful; hence, easy to prove if it exists.  If they're explaining why Jesus didn't really mean it when he said "greater works than these (his miracles) will you do in my name," or why having a big TV ministry is a "greater work" than resurrecting a guy who's been dead for four days or feeding a stadium crowd out of a lunchbox, then they're taking path B, and agreeing with my argument as presented.

If they choose path A and tout some great Charismatic faith-healer, you can demolish that by going to his "healing ministry" bringing in an amputee or a kid with leukemia.  At this point, they (and/or their faith-healer) will inevitably dodge into path B like guerillas retreating into the jungle.  "Maybe it's not in God's plan."  "The disease has caused the child to be closer to God, or made it necessary for the family to support each other in love," etc., etc.  They're explaining why there's no operational difference in this case between "There is an all-powerful miracle-working God" and "There is no all-powerful miracle-working God."

When they do this, you can say:

"Alright, what about Terry Schaivo?  Here is a woman that all of you Christians fervently believed ought to be saved.  You, and your political backers all loudly and vocally took up her cause, sure that she ought to be kept alive in a permanent vegetative state rather than be allowed to go to Heaven.  Saving her must have been God's will, unless all of you were disobeying God.  You all argued that letting Terry die would create a "culture of death," that it would cause profound spiritual damage to the moral fiber of our nation.

"Terry was in the center of a vast, global media circus, with the eyes of the world on her.  Imagine...just imagine what an astounding witness for God it would have been, if you, your favorite faith-healer, any Christian anywhere on Planet Earth, or all of you put together, had prayed, not that Terry would get to keep her feeding tube, but that she would sit up in bed on national television and say, 'Thank you, Jesus!  You are the Son of God with power and glory forever, amen and halleluiah!'

"Just imagine it.  Imagine, what a powerful witness she would have for Jesus as she returned to her healthy life, after all those liberals and faithless rationalistic doctors had assured the planet that she was brain-dead and could never live a normal life.  Imagine the effect that she would have had on the whole "culture of death" thing you are all so worried about!  Would anyone dare remove a feeding tube from someone in her situation, ever again?  Imagine the church attendance the next Sunday, the baptisms, the souls saved from eternal damnation!

"So...why would God forego all that good, all those saved souls and heartfelt praises he would have received (and you know how much he likes his ego-strokes), a resounding victory for the 'culture of life' you're fighting for on his behalf...why would he give all that up, just to be coy and make atheism seem credible?  Free will?  Come on.  God is going to torture me forever if I die without repenting, right?  How, exactly, does that respect my free will?  Besides, I'm sure you've read the verse in the Bible that says 'Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.'  Right?  Where's the free will there?  Or in Romans 9?  What about all those times in the Old Testament where God says, 'And they shall know that I am the LORD!'  That's all we ask: that he act, demonstrably and non-ambiguously as the great, miracle-working God he claims to be, so we can know that he is the LORD.

"Why does Jehovah God Almighty not act, well, Almighty?  Is he shy?"  Etc.

No matter what their answer is, it will consist of one thing: an attempt to explain why, in the case of Terry Schaivo, everything happened exactly as it would have if there were no omnipotent, miracle-working God who wanted to keep Terry alive.  By the very act of arguing about her feeding tube in the courts and in Congress, the entire Religious Right blatantly disavowed the existence of an all-powerful miracle-working God as a reality with practical consequences.  Period.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2011, 10:05:52 AM »
On Job

The most fascinating thing to me about the Book of Job is how blatantly revealing it is.  "Satan" [1] gets in line with the other angels, [2] and he and God have a chat. 

Paraphrase:

God: So, Satan, what brings you here?

Satan: Nothing much, just been cruising around on the Earth.

God: Yeah?  Did you check out my servant Job?  He, like, totally obeys me and everything!  He even does tricks!

Satan:  Meh.  He's a mercenary.  He only obeys you and praises you all the time 'cause you take such good care of him and put your shield of protection around his house.  Why, I bet you 10,000 Quatloons that if you started being a ruthless, cold-hearted, unfair, capricious and just plain sadistic asshat, why, he'd tell you to eat slimy cow-poodoo and die!

God: You're on!  Go ahead and cream his family and everything he owns.  Just don't kill him though.  Dead people can't give me any burnt offerings, and I just love those.

/Paraphrase

Now, the interesting thing about this is that Satan isn't tempting Job--he's tempting God, and God goes for it like a drunken sailor in a whorehouse.  What happened to all that stuff about "how righteous are Thy judgements, O Lord"?  If God was concerned with justice in the slightest (much less Perfectly Good In All He Does), the outcome would have been entirely different:

Satan:  Meh.  He's a mercenary.  He only obeys you and praises you all the time 'cause you take such good care of him.  Why, I bet you 10,000 Quatloons that if you started being a ruthless, cold-hearted, unfair, capricious and just plain sadistic asshat, why, he'd tell you to eat slimy cow-poodoo and die!

God: You're damn right!  He serves me well, and I protect and reward him, as I promised in my Word.  He praises me because I take such good care of him, and rightly so.  For I am a good God, righteous and just, and he has put his trust in me!  Far be it from me to betray him just to see if he'll still worship me when I don't deserve it!   
If I did as you suggest, he should tell me to eat slimy cow poodoo and die!  Get behind me, Satan!

What Satan is baiting God with is the prospect of receiving unearned worship and adulation.  You see, if God is good, and people worship him for being good, then his ego-strokes only come because he's living up to his end of the bargain.  But Satan tempted God with the chance to receive Job's adulation and praise regardless of his actions.  God wanted to be able to throw all morality to the winds and be literally demonic in the cruelty of his deeds, and still be worshiipped as the 'perfect, just God'.  He doesn't merely want unearned praise--he wants his worshippers to be so mindless, so utterly servile they will praise him to the skies even as he tortures them.  Or, as Job put it, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."

The Book of Job makes it plainly, indisputably, blatantly clear that God cannot be trusted as a Protector, and that he has no ethics at all.  But wait, maybe God, in his vastly superior Divine Wisdom (tm) knows something we don't and all of this will somehow turn out to be consistent with the idea of a Loving, Perfectly Moral God.  Toward the end of the book, Job finally gets to talk to God, and ask, "WTF?!?!?!"

At last, Job falls silent, and we wait for the Almighty to speak.  Here is God's chance to astound us all with some nugget of vastly profound insight that will answer the question 'why do good people suffer' in a way that will dazzle us with the greatness and majesty of the Divine!  Well, OK, maybe at least we'll get the Stock Answer that always soothes the heart of the believer: "God works in mysterious ways."

Nope.  Not even that.  Instead, God goes on and on in a hugely bombastic "I am the Mighty Oz!" routine.  Justice?  Wisdom?  Divine knowledge beyond the ken of mere mortal man?  Nope.  Just plain old brute force. 

God: "I can do whatever the hell I want to you, because I'm bigger, stronger, and infinitely meaner than you will EVER be!   Now take your PS2 and shut up."

Job: "Right...shutting up!  Zzzzzip!  Nothing to say here!"

And behold, Job's (2.0) daughters were the most beautiful in all the land!  Bet he got alot for 'em on Ebay.  Happy endinig?  Yeah, right!  The poor guy must have spent the rest of his life having nightmares and waiting for the other nuke to drop.  Sorta like Isaac after that little hike to the altar with dear ol' dad.

Wow, I'm glad we have God...without him, why, we'd have no morality at all!   

NOTES:

1. In Hebrew it's "ha-satan," meaning "the adversary" or "the accuser," a title--not a name--for a prosecuting attorney; Satan is to God as Torquemada is to the Pope.

2. Satan is not a mortal enemy of God here--can you imagine Osama bin Laden joining a tour of the White House and having President Bush pull him aside for a friendly game of Texas Hold-Em?
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2011, 02:59:04 PM »
YHWH's morals

Quote from: ramez
>snip<
It is really easy to see the difference between good and evil. It is not difficult to see how cheating on your partner or passing a disease to another person is bad. Similarly it is not difficult to see how abusing a child sexually is bad.

Are you sure about that?

Are you sure there are no exceptions?

No special dispensations of God's grace when sexually abusing a child is good, or at least acceptable?

No teeny-weeny little exemptions?  No caveats?  No legalistic loopholes?

You're sure.

It wouldn't be OK to molest a child even if God really liked you.

Even if you're a famous preacher or something.

You're sure.

No wiggle room?

No "just this once?"

Certain.

Definitely easy to tell it's bad to molest a child.  Nothing difficult about it at all.  Absolutely, positively, period.  Right?

OK.  We can agree on that.

Now, turn in your Bible with me please, to Numbers 31:17 and read along with me:

"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves".

Now, if you note the context of the above passage (and we know you Christians love context), you will see that the man issuing the above command was Moses, and he really wanted to murder the little girls too.  One more thing you should note is that Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land...because he ordered genocide followed by mass child molestation?  Nope.  Because he hit a rock with a stick when God didn't want him to.

Now, I want you to take a moment to go on a little imaginary journey with me.

You are an 11-year-old Midianite girl.  You've heard about this new tribe that's passing through.  A woman from your village married one of their men some time ago, but they killed her and her husband.  You don't know why, because nobody talks to you about these things.  You're just a kid.  But you've also heard that the new tribe's leader stayed with another Midianite tribe for 40 years and married a Midianite himself, so they can't be all that bad.

But then one day there's a war!  The other tribe wins, and their army herds you, your mother, and your two little brothers, along with everyone else you know, and takes you back to your camp.  You're lost in the crowd and never catch a glimpse of the new leader, but then people start screaming, and soon you find out why.  The enemy warriors are killing everybody!

One of them cuts your mother down with a sword as she tries to shield you and the boys with her body.  Your little brothers are taken one by one and killed before your eyes.  You close your eyes in terror, waiting for the sword to hit, but it doesn't.  Instead, the man throws you down, lifts your skirt, pries open your labia and checks to make sure you're still a virgin.  His fingers are sticky with the blood of your family.

Then, he drags you to his tent to make you his...
---

So: Can you tell me whether that's bad or not?  Is it "really easy"?   

Or is child molestation only OK if you murder the chid's family first?
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2011, 03:04:23 PM »
Answers some questions on evolution

Quote from: radar410
One) Why did every Class, (Kingdom, Phylum, Class) come into being within a mere 100,000 years? Over the, what is it now, 6 1/2 billion years of Earth's existance, that is less than a tick of the clock.

I'm guessing you're talking about the so-called "Cambrian Explosion" here.  I know the CE seems to have happened quite rapidly in evolutionary time, hence the name.  However, I thought it happened over several million years (still 'a tick of the clock,' I suppose).  I'm not an expert on paleobiology, but I would be pretty surprised if it was easy to determine a period as short as 100,000 years in Precambrian/Cambrian fossil layers.  As I understand it, the CE took place so fast mainly because life reached a point where larger multicellular organisms had a chance to diversify, and all the ecological niches were open.  Since pretty major morphological changes can happen even within a few hundred or thousand years of historical time (e.g. wolf---->great dane and toy poodle) even without mutations, I don't see a problem with evolution happening relatively quickly under the unique conditions of that era.

Basically, life as a whole had a once-in-a-biosphere opportunity to spread out, diversify, "experiment" with body plans, etc..  With nothing but wide open eco-niches to spread into, the culling effect of natural selection was reduced.  So we get all those wild and crazy creatures with totally weird body types (swimming lobster-oid things with five eyes on eyestalks and little curling arm/tentacle thingos for grabbing prey, etc.).  Once the open bio-space was filled, natural selection kicked in and weeded out a lot of faiiled experiments in favor of a few successful types.  Those types became the ancestors of all the rest of us, hence the formation of the main taxonomic categories present life is assigned to.

Quote from: radar410
Two) I am awed by the fact that the more I study life from a biochemical level to a microscopic level to a macroscopic level to an ecosystem level, the more patterns and consistancies I see. Why, if there is no God to guide evolution is their so little truly original life. I know about the sulpher based bacteria, but they are a dead end. Their are even a few silicon based bases unicellular life forms at the bottom of some of the deep sea trenches. But why is there so much commonality if all is random? All life with the exceptions of those two very minor dead ends utilize ATP and the citric acid cycle. There are many, many more examples of the line of life going back to a single unicellular organism developing the ability to go unicellular. It is far easier to believe in a "God-touched" organism than, given the lack of parallel evolution, completely random evolution.

Evolution isn't "random."  Nor does it need to be "touched" by the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly appendage.  Mutation may be random, but natural selection isn't.  "Natural selection" is a code phrase for "what works in reality."  Since reality consists of entities and combinations of entities with specific nature, some things work better than others.  Eyes work much better if they're sited on a head near the brain (shorter nerve path to the data processing center, hence trivial lag-time) than on the ass.  Legs that work well are better than clumsy leg-fin things, but clumsy leg-fin things are better than no appendages at all, as long as nobody else has a faster way to get around on land.

Now, before you can posit "God" as an answer to any question of science and be taken seriously, you have to meet at least two requirements: 1) Your "God" hypothesis cannot be vulnerable to the very conundrum it is supposed to solve.  2) In order to be considered as a legitimately possible causal mechanism, "God" must be clearly defined and his properties described in scientific terms, so that he can be compared with other proposed solutions.  For example, if a physicist proposes a new particle as the answer to some question (e.g. "WIMPS" as a candidate for "dark matter"), s/he must provide a sufficient theoretical definition of the particle so that other physicists can look for it, and know whether they've detected it or not.  What is its mass?  Charge?  Spin?  Half-life (if unstable)?  Energy level in eV?  What sort of experiment might be necessary to detect it?

Theists usually consider "God" to be some sort of trans-cosmic entity exsiting in whole or in part in some sort of "other realm" they call "Heaven" or "the spirit-world," etc.  What sort of "other realm" is this?  How is it coupled to ours?  What are its physical laws (e.g. cosmological constants, etc.)?  Any entity as complex as a super-intelligence must have an array of component parts (try making a computer with only one type of component part if you don't believe me).  What is it made of?  How does it perceive (our) reality?  What, exactly, is its method of interfacing with and manipulating matter?  Would its perceptual and manipulatory apparatus be sufficient to wield the control of matter necessary for it to manipulate genes and so forth so it can "touch" evolution?  If the nature of God's native realm differs significantly from our own (and theists usually claim that it does, though they're very short on specifics), how is he able to understand our reality well enough to try to "intelligently design" entire ecosystems?

For example, "God" is supposed to be able to do things like design complex proteins, DNA molecules, etc.  But how, if there are no molecules where he's from, and the phsycis-equivalent he's native to is incompatible with ours?  Imagine trying to design a life form for another universe with entirely different generalized operating principles ("laws of physics"), entirely foreign basic component parts ("particles"), etc.!  "God just does it" is no different from "it's magic" when it comes to explaining anything.

Getting back to your question, your "God" "explanation" fails on both points.  "Why, if there is no God to guide evolution is their so little truly original life."  Well, f there was a "God," why couldn't he come up with multiple, "original" designs for bio-systems?  The "God" hypothesis is just as vulnerable to this question as the no-"God" hypothesis.  Failure at criterion #1.  Since you have not even begun to explain "God's" nature enough for us to evaluate his merit as a causal mechanism, you also fail at criterion #2.

So, why aren't there multiple differing biochemistries, etc.?  Simple: the first organisms to evolve a biochemisty (or body-form, etc.) that limps along, and then refine it a little so that it works pretty good, will easily outcompete any late-comers "trying" a different biochemisty (or body-form, etc.) who are still at the "limping along" stage.  The first with the most wins.  Imagine that a mutant species of octopus emerged with air-bladders that would enable them to wriggle up on land for a little while and squirm around some.  Now, given a few tens of millions of years of evolution to refine themselves into true amphibians, then land-dwellers, their descendants might well be superior to anything currently living on land.  After all, they're pretty smart already, and they've got eight limbs to work with.

But what would happen to those first air-bladder-equipped octopi as they try to venture onto the land?  They'd get munched by the first cat or dog that happened along.  Since the octopi would still be at an early "transitional" stage (like Ichthiostega) between sea-octopi and potential future land-octopoids, they would still be at the "barely getting around stage"--but their mammalian rivals can already support their weight, run, jump, and see, hear, smell, breathe, and fight effectively on land.  The octopi wouldn't stand a chance.  In the same way, our earliest mammalian ancestors lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs for tens of millions of years as tiny little mouse/shrew-like critters, because all the other niches were filled by fast, powerful, toothy dinosaurs who were already fully-adapted to them.  Johnny-come-lately mammals couldn't outcompete the velociraptors long enough to take over a predator slot.  We're here now because an asteroid came along and gave our ancestors their big show-biz break.

The same principle applies to the biochemistry of the microorganisms you're talking about.  ATP-wielders evolved first.  Perhaps some other basic biochemistry might provide more energy, but ATP-use turned out to be the low-hanging fruit.  The ATP-wielders evolved, then climbed a step or two up the ladder, so they were able to easily outcompete any new early-stage proto-organisms, even if those organisms were trying out a biochemistry that would have ended up being superior.  We've got a similar problem technologically, in the automotive "niche."  Hydrogen fuel cell cars are obviously better than gas engines in terms of energy-efficiency and environmental impact.  But the gasoline internal combustion engine was the low-hanging fruit (Ford could build a simple, but fairly powerful ICE in 1910, but he couldn't make a proton-exchange membrane for a fuel cell).  So now we have an entire infrastructure "ecosystem" built around gasoline engines (gas stations, a parts-and-repair industry, etc.), while other options like H2-fueled cars and electrics are hard-pressed to break in.  And this on a planet packed with Intelligent Designers.

In the same way, the ATP microorganism ecosystem kept other biochemistries from starting.  Say you're an upstart silicon-based bacterial plant-eater who's just evolved.  If all the algae are incompatible with your silicon-based chemistry, you can't eat them, but your ATP rivals can.  Meanwhile, they already own most of the available sunlight, so they keep the silicon-based photosynthesizers you rely on from getting much of a foothold, especially since they got started first and their photosynthesis is a little better than your silicon-based photosynthesizers can manage so far.  So your ATP-based rivals also get more energy from eating them than you get from eating your silicon-based plants.  Since the ATP-based plants and their grazers are both more common (they've been at this for a million years, and your kind is just getting started), they can bootstrap each other much better than your kind can.  Say, the ATP plants decompose the micro-corpses of the grazers that feed on them.  Since there are more of both ATP types, their plants have a much richer supply of corpses than your plants have.  Most likely, they're getting inundated with poisonous ATP-based grazer corpses instead of members of your kind, and dying out...  Which leaves you in a bad spot when it comes to finding lunch.

Quote from: radar410
Three) Hominids, man-like humanoids have existed for a long time, it keeps getting longer, I'm a simple landscaper, not and anthropologist. It may be 4-5 million years by now. The point is that man only began living in cities 6-10,000 years ago. Why? Could it be that God touched a man, "Adam" and imparted a soul to a hominid? Is that why city building spread so quickly? Or is it more likely that all over the world in an evolutionary line stretching back for several million years, city building, ( the capacity to live together in groups larger than 40-50 suddenly spring up all over the world in such disparate places as the Yellow River, the Nile, and the Mesopotamian Valley?

Again, your "God" hypothesis is subject to the same question: if humans capable of building cities existed for 200,000 years, why did "God" wait soooooooo long to "touch" somebody and get people into the city-building business?  Failure, criterion #1.  And still, nothing about how "God" "touching" somebody (with what?) imparts a "soul" (what's that?  How does it work?) and thereby makes people start building cities.  Instead of answering questions, it conjures more: So, does that mean people who don't build cities have no souls?  Failure, criterion #2.

Furthermore, the complaint that it took too long after the evolution of fully-intelligent humans for "civilization" to get started actually militates against Intelligent Design.  An Intelligent Designer could presumably be expected to work more smoothly and efficiently than "random" evolution, so we should expect city-building to start right away.  After all, in the Bible, Cain goes off and builds a city when there's only one family of "touched" humans on the whole planet!

So, why did it take so long?  I'm not sure, ask an anthropologist.  Lots of possible reasons though.  Perhaps, with Ice Ages coming and going, the climate wasn't stable enough for people to stay in one place for centuries and build an agriculture-fed city.  Maybe people had to follow the herds back and forth as the liveable climate zones moved in response to advancing, then retreating ice sheets.  Or, perhaps agriculture was unnecessary as long as there were plenty of great big walking slabs of meat for the taking (the Pliestocene megafauna, which, as I recall, were driven to extinction right about the time people started tinkering with agriculture).  Or maybe those big slabs of meat made prototype mud-brick cities impractical.  Imagine the terror of looking out from your primitive little stockade to see a herd of 10,000 14-foot-tall wooly mammoths bearing down on your little fertile valley and its crops.  I'm basing that scenario on the accounts of vast bison herds that once covered the Great Plains from horizon to horizon.

Another factor to consider is that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle works pretty damn well.  There are still hunter-gatherers today, in pockets where nature is bountiful but not suitable for conventional agriculture, or where it's too barren, but survivable for hunter-gatherers with the know-how (the Amazon basin, the Kalahari, the Australian Outback, etc.).  It's quite likely that the average hunter-gatherer had a much more enjoyable and healthy lifestyle than the average agriculturist peasant.  Hunter-gatherers have quite a bit of leisure time compared to peasants, no back-breaking labor to do, etc.  From this, it's not surprising IMO, that agriculture would be a long time coming.

Another possibility is that there are cities built in earlier eras that we haven't found yet.  Even today, most of humanity (and our cities) are in coastal areas, or next to rivers.  During the Ice Age, water levels were significantly lower than they are now.  And, the continental interiors were filled with hazards like wooly mammoths, saber-tooth cats, gigantic ice sheets, etc, while the low-lying coasts offered access to the sea for fishing and for sea trade with other cities.  Thus, it could be that there are ancient cities hidden beneath the waves.  Since diving to search for an investigate sunken sites is difficult (the weather has to be just right, you have to know what you're looking for and where to find it, etc.) it wouldn't be surprising if we "missed" a number of archaeological sites buried under sand and silt, especially when our archaeological theories convince us there's nothing out there to look for.

In any case, I see no need to appeal to any radical external causes ("God," extraterrestrials, etc.) to explain the Agricultural Revolution.  Unless you can conclusively demonstrate that what we find in the historical record is virtually impossible without some sort of external intervention, Occam's Razor renders any quest for external interveners moot.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2011, 03:07:56 PM »
On healing as proof



Quote from: Delta55345

If God started healing amputees, tons of people would start running towards Christianity just to get healed, and not for the love of God.

I take it that is supposed to be a bad thing, for some reason.  If this argument is valid (and you must think it is), could you please explain what we see in the Gospels then?  Again and again we see Jesus' miracles winning him converts.  On a number of occasions, Jesus points to his miracles as authenticators of his ministry and his claims regarding himself.  For example, when John the Baptist is in prison and he starts feeling a little shaky about the whole Jesus-is-the-Messiah thing, he sends a couple of his disciples to go ask Jesus if he's really the Messiah.  Jesus points to his miracles as proof and sends them on their way.

After Jesus, the Apostles are portrayed doing the same thing, on a somewhat smaller scale.  From this it is safe to say that Christianity is founded on the premise that grand-scale miraculous healing is both a legitimate activity in its own right, and a valid way of establishing the truth of Christianity.

Now, either miracle-working is a legitimate means of authenticating the truth of Jesus' claims, or it isn't.  If it is, then Marshall (the owner of this site) and the rest of us are just doing what John the Baptist's disciples did--asking for unambiguous miraclulous validation of Jesus' ministry and claims.

If it is not legitimate for whatever reason (it would only bring in thrill-seekers, people looking to save on hospital bills, compromise the need for faith, etc.) then Jesus' ministry was not legitimate.  Likewise, your own claim to having been miraculously healed is illegitimate, even if true.

"God healed my kyphosis"

"Really?  Wow, I have back pain...  What church do you go to?  I bet one of those faith-healing services is cheaper than my chiropractor!  And way cheaper than back surgery!  I'm gonna get me some old-time religion!"

Obviously, the purpose of miracles isn't ordinary compassion for the suffering, otherwise God would just heal everybody except those he was smiting.  And you've ruled out the idea that they're done as a "sign" (i.e. proof/evidence) of God's existence.  So what about the idea that God does miracles for the people he likes better, and you're just special?

Well, Christians commonly rebut that idea whenever they're confronted with folks who don't get miracles:

"Why doesn't God heal amputees?"
"God just has a Special Plantm for them.  Losing their limbs has made them come closer to God, and enabled those around them to manifest love and caring by helping them through their suffering."

Or how 'bout this one:

"I was in a plane crash.  I was the only one to survive, and I was completely unhurt!  God saved me!  Halleluiah!"
"OK, but what about all those other poor bastards that died?  What about their grieving wives, husbands, children, parents?"
"God just loved them so much He wanted to take them home.  Ask the grieving relatives.  They'll all tell you that."
"Then...aren't you jealous or something?"

Haven't you ever considered how much easier it would be if you weren't constantly trapped between trying to argue that miracles are real ('cause the Bible tells us so) and at the same time having to explain why they aren't ('cause if God worked miracles, people would go to church to get healed, and they wouldn't love God or learn the virtue of blind faith)?

Talk about a case of Schrodinger's Mind.  Is that the mark of a TrueChristiantm?  The ability to believe in something and deny it at the same time?  No wonder we're atheists.  Too damn logical and consistent.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2011, 03:10:40 PM »
One of my personal, all time favorites…

The Devil in Eden

There are quite a few misconceptions floating around the Genesis story, especially regarding the Devil.  You Christians tell us the Devil began his career of evil in the Garden of Eden.

"The Devil was a liar and a murderer from the beginning" you say.  Fair enough.  Let's go to Genesis and see who's the liar and the murderer.

The very first death threat uttered in the Bible was given by God.  "In the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which is in the midst of the Garden, you shall surely die."  That's God's claim.  OK, perhaps God isn't threatening them with death.  Maybe the Fruit of Knowledge really is poisonous, and he's just warning them of the danger.  We'll find out as we proceed.

What's the Serpent's claim?  "You shall not surely die!  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."  To the Serpent, the Fruit isn't poisonous, but astoundingly beneficial, and God is hiding this truth from Adam and Eve because he's afraid "their eyes will be opened."

Two contradictory claims.  Shouldn't be too hard to tell which of the two is telling the truth. 

Adam and Eve eat the fruit.  Suddenly, they become aware of their nakedness.  Think about that.  Adam and Eve had no more self-awareness than animals, until after they eat the Fruit.  And here's something else interesting:  The Serpent is described as more "clever" or "subtle" (i.e. intelligent) than the other creatures God created.  The Hebrew word for ‘subtle’ is awroom (Strong’s Concordance #6175).  It is derived from awram (6191) "to be (or make) bare, used in the derivative sense (perhaps through the idea of smoothness), be crafty, prudent, deal subtly."  (Underlined text is from Strong's Concordance)

The word ‘naked’ (6174) is also derived from this root.  This is the word used of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  ‘They did not know they were naked.’  Using the other meaning, it could also say ‘They did not know they were clever’.  They did not know they could use their minds to survive and flourish.  They did not know they were sapient beings.  When the Serpent gave them the Fruit of Knowledge, they became aware of both their minds (cleverness/intelligence) and their bodies (sexuality).

Linking back to the Ayn Rand quote, we see that in mythic terms, God created obediant automatons, but it is the Serpent that truly made them human.

The word for ‘serpent’ in Genesis is ‘nawkhawsh’ (5175).  It is derived from the root word ‘nawkhash’ meaning ‘to hiss’ , i.e. "whisper a magic spell, prognosticate, certainly, divine (verb--see Gen. 44:5, Joseph’s divination) enchanter, (use) enchantment, learn by experience, diligently observe."  (Underlined text from Strong's Concordance)  Now, we atheist skeptic types usually have a rather low opinion of 'magic,' but for the moment, consider the contrasts between Magicians and Clergy, within the context of knowledge people possessed at the time the Genesis account was written.

The practice of "magic" assumed that there were certain spiritual operating principles, and that if a Magician learned what those principles were, he or she could use them to gain knowledge and/or affect reality.  Do certain things, and certain results follow.  As Heinlein put it, "One man's magic is another man's engineering."  In other words, "magic" as practiced in ancient times was an attempt to develop a science and technology for dealing with the "spiritual" realm.  We can say that it didn't work, but at least they were on the right track.  Our sciences are descended from ancient magical practices.  Alchemy---->Chemistry.  Herbology----->Botany and medicine.  Asrology----->Astronomy.  Sacred Geometry, Numerology, etc.------>Mathematics.  The Magician was also able to deal with spiritual reality on his or her own, through the use of his or her own intelligence.

Contrast the way of the Magician with the way of Clergy.  The Clergy claim that the way to get things done is to seek to appease a Deity and the Deity's power will do what needs doing.  Humans are fundamentally dependent on the will of the Deity.  Clergy have an inside track to communicating with the Deity, knowing what is required to appease it, relaying its messages back to the people, etc.  For Clergy, power-politics is the predominant cosmological principle.  The way to "make it" in reality is to know who is Lord, and do their bidding.  Obey, and you have good harvests, healthy children, etc.  Disobey, and here come the locusts.

It is no wonder that Clergy loathe Magicians and, if given the chance, will have them burned at the stake.

God (and his priest Adam) represent the Clergy model.  Right from the start, you have "Obey my orders and you'll get to munch free fruit.  Disobey me, and you die!" 

The Serpent (and his priestess Eve) represent the Magician model.  He begins by asking Eve a question.  "Did God say you could eat of every tree of the Garden?"  He's employing the Socratic method to get her to see the bars of God's cage for herself.  Then, instead of commands and threats, the Serpent offers a testable hypothesis: "You will not die, but when you eat the fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will be as gods."  He never even asks Eve to eat the fruit.  He just tells her the truth about it and lets her decide for herself.  He does not threaten to bite her if she doesn't eat it.  Instead, he offers her value.

Once Eve takes a closer look at the fruit, she realizes that it is pleasant to the eyes (beauty), desirable to make one wise (knowledge) and good for food (physical nourishment and pleasure).  In other words, the Fruit is symbolic of all the elements of the good life.  Notice further that the Serpent isn't trying to "rule the world."  He never issues any commands, asks for worship and praise.  Never has a crusade or jihad ever been waged in his name.  In fact, he treats Eve respectfully, as an equal.

So Eve eats the Fruit, and sure enough, she doesn't die "in the day" she does so.  Neither does Adam.  Later in the narrative, he (women don't count in the Bible) is attributed an astounding life-span of nearly a thousand years.  Given that "day" in Genesis is supposed to really mean "day" (as any fundamentalist Creationist will assure you), we have no choice but to accept that God's claim--that knowledge is poison--was falsified.  In fact, God himself acknowledges the truth of the Serpent's claim:

"Behold the man (women don't count) is become as one of us, (and here I thought there was only one god) to know good and evil: and now, lest he put out his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden...and he placed at the east of the garden Cherubims (a type of spirit being) and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

So, rather than bringing humanity's death, eating the Fruit made Adam and Eve "like gods" just as the Serpent said, and not only that, it opened the way to immortality for them.  And so, to prevent humans from completing their ascent to divinity (it was a Rise in the Garden, not a Fall), God responds with what would soon become his old stand-by: violence.

"But Adam and Eve died spiritually the day they ate the Fruit!" you say.

Where in Genesis does it say anything about a "spiritual" death?  God just told Adam he would die "in the day" he ate the fruit.  He didn't say anything about "spiritual" death, or expulsion from the Garden, or any other punishment.  He would die, period.  You claim to revere the Bible, but you twist the plain meaning of the text to prop up your theological "interpretation" rather than adjusting your theology to conform to the Bible.  Furthermore, you Christians are always fond of tying morality and spirituality together.  "If there is no God," you say, "then there's no morality either!  There will be blood in the streets!"  But, you see, it is self-evident in Genesis that God intended for humanity not to be morally good, but obediant.  He wanted creatures that would obey his commands without regard to whether they were good or evil, because they couldn't tell the difference.  There is no morality with God.

If you don't believe me, just look at all the moral excuse-making you have to do on God's behalf.  "But it's OK for God to perform abortion (cause a miscarriage)."  "It's OK for God to kill people for disobeying him."  "It's OK for God to torture people forever."  "It's OK for God to sanction mass child molestation (Num. 31:17-18)."  It's OK for God to sire an illegitimate child with another guy's fiance.'"  Etc.  Then, look at all the atrocities you commit on his behalf.  No, we don't even have to go back to the Salem witch trials or the Crusades.  What's going on right now, today, in Iraq is sufficient.  Or all the needless deaths from AIDS in Africa because you think it is better for black people to suffer lingering death than to use condoms.

So, if you wish to link "spiritual life" with such things as morality, self-awareness, the faculty of conscious deliberation and choice, etc. (i.e. the things that distinguish us, for the most part, from other animals), then it is self-evident in the narrative that the Fruit gave Adam and Eve spiritual life, awakening them from the zombie-like slumber God had hoped to keep them in.

Look again at the two claims.

God: "In the day you eat the fruit, you shall surely die."
Serpent: "You shall not surely die!  For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you shall be as gods."
God himself endorses the Serpent's claim and reacts with fear and wrath not to prevent Adam and Eve from dying, but to prevent them from living forever.

"But Adam did die, because as a result of his sin, God denied him access to the Tree of Life, which he was free to eat from before."

That's quite an interesting admission.  You see, Adam did not die because he ate the Fruit of Knowledge.  It was not poisonous; nothing about the Fruit of Knowledge itself caused them to die or prevented them from living forever.  Had God just shrugged and walked away, Adam and Eve would have been immortal.  God, using violence, insured their deaths.  In other words, slow-motion murder.

So, what have we seen here?  God lied.  That is self-evident in the narrative.  Eating the Fruit of Knowledge did not kill Adam and Eve.  It had the exact effects the Serpent said it would, a fact God carefully chose to hide from Adam, and which he later did not even try to deny.  Everything the Serpent said was true.  That also is self-evident in the narrative.

Furthermore, the Serpent did not kill Adam and Eve.  He never threatened them or harmed them in the least.  He simply gave them the gift of truth about the Fruit, and about God.  And one more thing: he gave them freedom.  He did not command them to eat the Fruit, or threaten to punish them if they didn't.  As he promised, the Fruit was not poisonous or unhealthy.  To the contrary, Eve acknolwedges that it was "good for food," and her account is never contradicted. 

Who killed Adam and Eve?  Who took violent action to insure that they would die?  God.  Again, this is self-evident in the narrative.

Remember that bit about the Devil being "A liar and a murderer from the beginning?"

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God.” 

--Thomas Paine Age of Reason, Part I, pp. 18-19

It all starts to make sense now, doesn't it? 

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2011, 03:13:17 PM »
If kcrady were god



Hmmm... Fun question.

I'll start with a WWJD variant: What would I have done if I were Jesus (and had his powers, etc.)?

In addition to raising the dead, healing the sick and injured (including amputees), casting out demons (monstrous religious memes), and feeding the multitudes...I'd teach my disciples how to do it all too, and tell them to teach their disciples, and so on.  At the Big Feast (the feeding of the 5,000), I'd show all those people how it was done.  "Go therefore, find those that hunger, and give them sustenance.  And then, teach them the way to feed others."

I'd marry Mary Magdalene (assuming the implied mutual love relationship was really there).  In fact, she would be the first person I shared my powers with, so that from the beginning there would be a male and female Messiah acting as equal, loving partners.

I would write my own Gospel (rather than leaving it to people decades later writing under apostolic pseudonyms), but it would be primarily an instruction manual: How to Be Your Own Personal Jesus.  I'd throw in a manifesto for science, reason, free inquiry, and individual liberty while I was at it.  Using the loaves-and-fishes trick, I and my disciples could reproduce copies at will to hand out.  Of course, they would be free of copying errors, and would automatically translate themselves into the language and cultural idioms of those they were given to.

Once I had the local "Messiah infection" started, I'd use my teleporation powers to go to Rome and the other major cities of the Empire and start them there.  Then, on to Africa, and so on.  Avoiding pointless crucifixion in Judea, and any other potentially futile excercise in martyrdom, Mary and I could probably abolish poverty, tyranny, hunger, disease and suffering, etc. within our lifetimes.

Then, when we died, and when each person who'd learned the "secrets of the Messiah" and taught them to others (as long as there were non-Messiahs left to teach), each of us would discover to our happy surprise, that 3 days later we resurrected back to life as immortals, and were then free to ascend into Heaven and begin exploring, perhaps even colonizing the Universe.  Take that, Fermi's Paradox!
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2011, 03:18:46 PM »
On the genocide of Midianites

Quote from: radar410

kcrady, you may not believe that the ethics of the world has changed significantly in 3,000 years, but it has.

I am well aware of the fact that humanity's moral development has advanced considerably in the last 3,000 years.  Which is why we shouldn't look for moral guidance in a book written by barbarians in a barbaric age.  Furthermore, this is a decisive refutation of the doctrine of "original sin," that humanity is inherently corrupt and cannot improve him/herself.
Quote from: radar410

Trying to reason with a two year old requires different methods than reasoning with a twenty year old. I spank my two year.

So immaturity is a justification for child molestation?  Wow...  Should someone call Child Protective Services on behalf of your poor 2 year-old?  Murdering people and molesting their children is not a way of "reasoning" with them in any age.
Quote from: radar410

It is the only logic he understands.

Very well.  Do the assignment then.  Write the story from the point of view of an 11-year-old Midianite girl, showing how she understood the logic of her family's murder and her subsequent rape.  Show us how this represents the will of an all-wise, all-benevolent God, and how this raises the level of human ethics.

Since you believe child molestation was the proper, moral thing to do in that situation, I can only surmise that, if you were sent back in time as a soldier in Moses' army, that you would have picked yourself a little girl to rape.  Very well.  Write a short story from the point of view of an Israelite soldier, showing how, as you rip the clothes off a terrified 11-year old girl whose family you killed in before her eyes, and prepare to rape her, you feel the presence and approval of an all-benevolent, all wise, all-loving God, and how you are advancing the level of human ethics as she screams in pain and terror beneath you.   
Quote from: radar410

People a thousand years later, the Greeks, still considered mercy to be a major weakness. Was God harsh? Yes! Was He harsh enough to ensure that the Israelites would worship no other gods? No. At least, not until the Babylonians removed almost all the Jews from Palastine and only allowed them to return 70 years later. After that, the Jews never have, in mass, worshipped other gods. It really helps when studying ancient history to keep in mind that our cultures have become far more gentle.

I see.  So, God's megalomania--his urgent need to have people grovel before him properly--justifies molesting young girls after murdering their families.  Think about that for a moment.  Think about that. 

How barbaric the Greeks may have been is irrelevant.  The Minoans (existing about the same time Moses was supposed to have lived) had a vibrant, peaceful, enlightened society in which women were apparently equal to men.  Their art consists of beautifully rendered people existing in harmony with nature.  There is not one example I know of in Minoan art of a Mighty King crushing the enemy, beheading captives, etc.  Motifs like this were common in the more warlike cultures of Egypt, Assyria, etc.  Their literary equivalents, are, of course, emblazoned all over the Bible.  So far as we can tell from the archaeological evidence, the Minoans had a civilization that was, well, civilized, and orders of magnitude above "God's Chosen People" in terms of ethics and morality.

Of course, the real issue is: how barbaric your God is.  Because you tell us your God is not an ancient historical relic, but a presently-existing being, who "is the same yesterday, today, and forever," whose ethical principles are eternal, and should serve to guide us today.  And this being considers molesting little girls after murdering their families to be an acceptable behavior, so long as it results in him getting obediant, worshipful followers.  And he brags about this openly in his "eternal Word."

Could you please somehow demonstrate to me that this creature you worship isn't the Prince of Darkness?


follow-up posts in that thread (for brevity sake):
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38062#msg38062
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38079#msg38079
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38089#msg38089
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38109#msg38109 (five stars)
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2011, 03:21:39 PM »
Rebuttal on who Satan is

Quote from: L6

Satan is the personification of false pride. That is all. Only intense, irrational, false pride (or faith ;) explains his actions. It does not, of course, explain why a perfect God would create such a being except to use as a scapegoat...but then why would be need a scapegoat? And so on.

Not so.  "Satan" is a Hebrew word for "Accuser"/"Adversary"--a judicial title equivalent to "Prosecutor," or perhaps more precisely, Inquisitor.  In the OT, he is unequivocally portrayed as an officer of God's court.  Get a concordance and look up all the instances of "Satan" and see for yourself.  In the NT there are also clear examples of "Satan" serving in this role.  There are other verses where "Satan" does seem to be portrayed as an enemy of God.  However, since "Satan" is a title, not a name, there is no reason to assume that it must always refer to the same being.  Compare with the use of the title "Pharaoh" in the Bible.  We read of Solomon marrying a daughter of "Pharaoh," but this "Pharaoh" is clearly not the same man Joseph served under, or the one Moses dealt with.

The Serpent (also the "Prince of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28) is arguably a separate being.  Now, perhaps he might rebel on the premise of false pride.  On the other hand, there are some things you need to consider:

1) He would have had direct knowledge of God's power, abilities, etc., more direct experience of him than you have.
2) The Bible is not an unbiased work.  It is written by spokesmen for God who are aiming to get people to worship and obey him.  Think, "Pravda."
3) The Serpent might have considered it possible that he could win.
4) He could have been right.

Consider: All of the New Testament writers clearly assumed that the Battle of Armageddon and God's final victory was imminent within their own time.  This is self-evident and undisputed.  Christians today read those same passages and assume that they mean exactly what they say--the end is nigh.  See raptureready.com.  What they forget is, that these passages weren't written last month or last year.  They were written by and for people living centuries ago, and their first readers would have read them the exact same way Christians read them today.

There is a school of thought within Christianity called "preterism" (google it) that argues that the events of Revelation did indeed take place, and that they were fulfilled by the destruction of Judaea in 66-70 A.D.  They make an excellent case that these things had to happen at about that time (e.g. Jesus saying to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, some now standing here will see the Son of Man coming in his glory").  The problem is, the final victory of God did not happen.  Read Revelation 21.  Does that sound like our world today?  Not to mention that all the world-wrecking displays of God's wrath never took place, nor a recognizable Battle of Armageddon.  The "futurists" (Christians who believe the "end times" prophecies are yet to happen) argue this--again, quite persuasively.  Furthermore, the Bible contains no epistle or book saying, "Now that Armageddon happened, this is what you are to do/how you should react"

And so, a paradox.

But what if the Serpent won the Battle of Armageddon--by not showing up?  Another poster on another thread (don't recall who) questioned God's strategic sense and wondered if he (God) was familiar with Sun Tzu, since he (God) is making the mistake of engaging in a protracted campaign.  But God made a much bigger mistake: he pre-conditioned his return on the premise that "Satan" (whichever one) would first incarnate himself as "the Antichrist" and set up a tyrannical global theocratic dictatorship--a precursor to the tyrannical global theocratic dictatorship Jesus will establish when he returns.

Since Satan is a being with free will (otherwise we can't blame him for everything that's wrong with the world, and God would have to take responsibility), he has an elegantly simple strategic response: refuse to play along, and leave God trapped in his own Word.

Something to think about, for those of you who believe in God and Satan...
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2011, 03:29:01 PM »
What would atheists do if jesus were real?



Quote from: unkleE

n8sense:

What would the atheists here do if someone produced overwhelming, unquestionable proof that the whole question of Jesus and his plan of salvation/religion/whatever was really true - the whole thing really isn't a myth? How would your life change?  What would you do differently?

It's a fair question. 

I suppose, as in your answer, it would depend on the nature of the proof.  If we see an angel dumping a load of incense that wipes out a couple billion people (as in the Book of revelation) the specific reaction would be considerably different than if we just saw nice Christians healing and working miracles like Jesus did.

Once the evidence was conclusive (in whichever way), I would acknowledge the validity of the "Christianity theory" unless/until more conclusive evidence for some other theory showed up.  But since we're acting on the premise that Christianity is true, such evidence would obviously not be forthcoming.

So, the Christian God is real, now what?

There are two issues to deal with in reacting to proof of his existence: his moral stature, and his level of power.

Regarding God's moral stature, that he is evil (judged by his actions rather than propagantistic statements like "God is love") has been demonstrated conclusively at least since Thomas Paine.  It is further demonstrated here in this forum (scroll to the bottom).  See also my post here.

Confronted then, with proof of the existence of an evil God, I would want to get an idea of his actual level of power.  Though theologians assert that he is "omnipotent," he is not portrayed that way in the Bible.  True, there are statements where one of his spokesmen will declare that he is mad mega-powerful.  However, as in everything else, actions speak louder than words.  We have to lend God's actions as portrayed in the Bible more weight than we do the announcements of his press secretaries.  This applies both to his moral stature and level of power.

For example, in the Tower of Babel narrative, God is shown apparently having to "come down" to see that this is going on.  First, he does not have Omniscient Foreknowledge to preempt the activity entirely ("And there was a man named Nimrod, who desired to build a tower unto Heaven, but God confounded his speech so that none could understand him").  To the contrary, it appears that Nimrod was able to organize the mass project and get it well underway before God found out and took action.

Likewise, the Flood narrative.  God doesn't discover that the antediluvian civilization is headed downhill until it has already plunged into complete chaos (or so his press secretary assures us).  This strongly implies that he was absent for a considerable period of time, long enough for Adam's, Seth's, and Cain's descedants to populate the world.  The antediluvian geneologies give us somewhere between about 1400 and a little over 2000 years between Adam and the Flood, depending on which ancient manuscripts you use.1

That a similar 'absentee' period is taking place in our time could perhaps be used to explain why there are no miracles, except for Jesus' claim that he would "never leave you nor forsake you" etc.  Though, that could have applied only to the people he told it to, i.e. his disciples.  He never made any promises to succeeding generations of Christians (it is apparent in the NT that the writers did not expect there to be succeeding generations of Christians over thousands of years).

But he's back now.  Returning to the Flood narrative, we see that he is forced to destroy all of creation to get rid of some inconvenient humans, and must rely on a wooden barge to preserve some examples of the ecosystem to avoid a wholly barren planet.  IOW, he does not have the option of a more selective WMD (such as a virus that kills only humans, or the ol' standby lighting bolt) that would not destroy all of the innocent animals and plants as well.

Jesus's experience in the Garden of Gesthemane also belies any claim of omnipotence for God.  Faced with the Crucifixion, Jesus prays, "if there be any way, let this cup pass from me."  Now, Jesus, being the Incarnate Son of God, ought to be able to expect his prayers to be answered, if anyone can!  That Jesus is crucified is therefore proof that there was no other way for God to accomplish his goal of instituting a working "plan of salvation."  However, omnipotence, by definition, cannot be confined to a single, unpleasant option.  Omnipotence, by definition, would have an unlimited supply of options to achieve its ends.2

Another example is Paul's claim that Christians, on God's behalf, wage continuous warfare against "principalities and powers in heavenly places."  Note the plural here--he is not talking about a single rival principality ruled by Satan.  We see an example of this sort of battle in the Book of Daniel, where the "Prince of Persia" is able to interrupt God's message traffic (keep an angel from reaching Daniel) for nearly a month, until reinforcements led by the Archangel Michael arrive.  The angel then tells Daniel that he must return to the battle (which is, apparently, still underway) until the "Prince of Greece" arrives, perhaps as an allied force.

This tells us a very important piece of data: that there are other "principalities and powers" (or at least were, at the time of the writing) who can withstand God's forces in drawn-out, pitched battles.  This only makes sense if the other forces have comparable military capabilities.  That these wars were still going on hundreds of years later in the Apostle Paul's time provides further proof of this.  These wars also might provide an explanation for God's long absentee periods: he is away leading his forces.  Therefore, we might have the option of contacting these other "principalities and powers" and offering an alliance. 

Perhaps these other powers were the "us" God was talking to in Genesis.  In is clear in that narrative (once you don't read any assumptions into it) that Creation (which, given the size of Universe would otherwise be a prime evidence of "omnipotence") was a team effort.  "Let us make man in our image," "now the man has become like one of us," etc.  This would remove the apparent contradiction in the idea of a single God capable of creating hundreds of billions of galaxies being so limited in his dealings here on Earth, and would also remove the "Copernican" objection.  Perhaps the other planets have their own gods ("principalities and powers in heavenly places"). 

Our recent explosion of technological advance could come as a surprise to him, since even in his predictions of the future (the Book of Revelation) he assumes that the Final Battle will take place with iron-age technology and tactics.  The "kings of the earth" massing their troops in a single valley (we just don't do that anymore in the age of artillery and air power), employing horses and so on.  He will also be employing horse cavalry, and using a 'sword that comes out of his mouth' to do battle.  He certainly does not predict that "men will mount up on birds of iron, which breath fire, and fly faster than the sound of a voice, and which hurl flaming spears that destroy from across the horizon and rarely miss" or anything similar.  For that matter, there aren't even too many "kings of the earth" anymore.

Furthermore, the urgency with which he seeks worship, and his violent reaction to anyone who doesn't give him worship, indicates that he needs worship, perhaps in the same way we need food.  Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how God constantly refers to his people as agricultural commodities?  You are the sheep of his pasture, the wheat of his field, the fruit of his vine, etc.  Have you ever even considered the possibility that he might actually mean that?

Though, again, I cannot describe a specific reaction I would have to the definitive proof of Christianity3 without being given a specific scenario (just as you cannot answer exactly how you'd react to the refutation of Christianty without knowing the specifics), my response would likely center on two facts:

1. He is evil.
2. It may be possible to defeat him.

NOTES:

1. Gerald E. Aardsma, ICR, Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 30, Dec. 1993, "letters" section, p. 129  Aardsma is a Young-Earth Creationist

2. In fairness to the "omnipotence position," it could be argued that God simply refused to grant Jesus' prayer request as a choice.  After all, as King of the Universe, Supreme Judge, etc., he could choose to just give humanity a Mulligan on the whole 'ancestor eating the fruit' thing and come up with some other method of salvation, such as having Jesus die for our sins symbolically through some kind of ceremony.  Even a mere human ruler can grant clemency on whatever terms he chooses.  However, this answer suggests that God preferred the brutal torture/murder of his own Son over the array of options his omnipotence presented him with, which supports the claim that he is evil.

3. Unless you're talking about the God of modern, Western Christian theology who is omnipotent and perfectly loving, benevolent, morally good, etc.  My reaction to this entity would be very different, since he is not the God of the Bible.  Starting from the "God is omnipotent and perfectly good" premise, we end up with something like God as portrayed in the Conversations With God books.  This God would at least be harmless, and he clearly states in the CWG books that he does not need to be worshipped and doesn't punish anyone for not doing so.  In which case, ironically, he is IMO more worthy of worship.


follow-up posts:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38518#msg38518
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38528#msg38528
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38847#msg38847

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2011, 03:32:46 PM »
Why oppose religion?

Quote from: Justthinking

Question. Is it rational to oppose that which does not exist? 

I was born into a family that sold Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm  Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oil is said to be a wonderful substance, and if you drink it, you will have peace and joy in your life, your life will have meaninng, you can know how to be a good person, and it will also make it so you can live forever.

So I grew up reading the company's Sales Manual.  There, I leanred that if you join up and sell Yeshua's Amazing Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, that you don't have to worry about your future, because Yeshua, the Compnay's CEO, will make sure you get taken care of.  So, I spent the formative years of my life learnig all about Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, the history of the Company as described in the Sales Manual, and about the wonderful future I had guaranteed, as an employee of the Company.

I tried to sell Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm as well as I could, and trusted in the life advice the CEO gave me, that I shouldn't plan for the future, since I had no control over the future anyway, but as an employee of the Company, I didn't need to anyway.  And, I knew that if I stopped drinking Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm I would suddenly find myself alone, with no meaning or purpose to my life, and, having not planned for the future, I would be up **** creek.  Furthermore, people who don't drink Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm will suffer terribly in the future.

Then, one day, I found out that Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm wasn't magical at all!  It was just colored water with some flavorings and suspicious chemicals added!  These chemicals would cause some people to become extremely violent.  In fact, people had been burned at the stake, and horrible wars launched, by people under the influence of Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm

Not only had I wasted my life and energies up to that point, there were vast numbers of people who were still trapped in the Company's lies, wasting their lives trying to sell Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm.

And that wasn't all.  You see, the company that makes Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm turned out to have an enormous amount of political influence, making legislation so that children in schools would have to say they liked Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm before class started, our money was printed with "In Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm We Trust," and our country even goes to war because the Yeshua, the CEO of the company that makes Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm is the President's favorite philosopher and chief advisor.  Acting on Yeshua's advice, my country has declared war on a billion other people who drink another company's product, Mohammed's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm which turns out to be almost exactly the same stuff as Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, but with different colorings added.

And so, I realized that Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm (as well as the other brands of Amazing Magical Snake Oil) was not merely some harmless fraud, it was a positive danger to the very survival of the human species and the biosphere of our planet.  I started to oppose Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm and try to help other people stop selling it.

Then one day, a person who still sold Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm asked me, "but if Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm isn't really magical, why do you oppose it?"
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2011, 03:36:14 PM »
Life has meaning to god

Quote from: jwojo13
AHH!! I'm addicted to talking on here already. I have to go to work!!! However, I will respond very quickly and come back later and fill in my blanks.

Life has meaning to God. People have meaning to God.

Why? He doesn't have anyone to tell him what his purpose is.  He doesn't have anyone to tell him that people matter.  For him, there is no God; that is, no Higher Power to give meaning and purpose to his life.  Why should he live?

Now, if you believe it is possible for God to have "meaning" to his life, purpose, etc. without an external Authority to give it to him, why can't we do this as well?


follow-up posts:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2826.msg38569#msg38569
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2826.msg38584#msg38584
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2011, 03:39:25 PM »
Beats the pudding out of moshydog
Quote from: moshdog

My main problem with discussing [Christmas] with [people that don't believe in Santa Claus] is that their one defining statement is "I don't believe." There is nothing to back this statement, nor is there anything else that is common in belief among [people who don't believe in Santa] other then trying to bag out [people who believe in Santa] (and [people who believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy]).

You probably get the idea by now...

Quote from: moshdog

 They often claim that science is their friend, even though science is a methodology, and has no stand on ethics, philosophy or the supernatural, and is about as able to prove there isn't a god as a horseshoe is able to find a cure for cancer.

This relies on a common Christian tactic of conflating the idea of any god with the Christian God.  True, science cannot disprove the generic idea of 'a god,' especially when the term is undefined.  Maybe 'a god' could be existing at the center of a black hole 15 billion light years away, so sure, we can't disprove that.  Or maybe 'a god' is something so tiny we'll never find it because our ability to measure is limited by Planck length.

But once you specify a particular god, and start to make claims for it having to do with our reality, then yes, science can disprove that god, by disproving the claims.  Let's say someone asserts that the mighty god Zeus lives in His palace atop Mount Olympus, and that lightning bolts are His spears.  Well, explorers and/or orbital reconnaisance can prove that there is no palace atop Olympus.  Meteorology and physics provide naturalistic explanations for lightning bolts.  Then the existence of Zeus as described by the claimant, is disproved.  The claimant may then go on to change his claims: "Oh...well, Zeus' palace is invisible, and 'Mount Olympus' doesn't really refer to the physical mountain, it's symbolic of 'a lofty place,' for Zeus is Higher Than Us."

In the case of the Biblical deity, it is possible for science to analyze, and prove or disprove any claim that involves him being or acting detectably in our universe.  If a Christian claims that God created Universe in six days, 6-10,000 years ago, that is a testable claim.  Should Universe prove to be 15+ billion years old and naturally evolving, then the existence of that god, the one that allegedly created Universe 6-10,000 years ago, is refuted.  Christians can, of course, move the goal posts and say, "well, the 'days' were long evolutionary eras'" or some such, just as they changed the view that God lived above the last of the crystalline spheres that held the planets, and "moved" God to some invisible alternate dimension.

They can only move the goal posts so far, however.  Either God can and does interact with matter1 and is thus detectable in principle, or God cannot and does not interact with matter, in which case he is, in principle, indistinguishable from non-existence.

NOTES:

1. Perhaps by working miracles, but the fact that he is coupled to our universe at all could make him detectable with sensitive instrumentation, by noting the effects of the coupling.  If God is interlaced with matter in some way, it ought to be necessary to account for his effects in the equations of physics, just as it is necessary to account for the effects of an elephant in your living room.

this is a 6 page topic.  kcrady has a few more high quality posts later on.
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg42141#msg42141
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg42534#msg42534
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg44051#msg44051
etc...
« Last Edit: May 11, 2011, 03:48:36 PM by screwtape »
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2011, 03:42:58 PM »
Morality

Quote from: VigRoco

You all have a point, but what most of you have failed to mention is that the Civil War era (and the Inquisition and Crusades) was a dark time for humanity. We are much more enlightened now and that carries over to our society. The fact is that Christianity was abused to justify slavery. It is not the nature of Christianity to condone slavery, it is in the nature of men to pervert anything that could that could bring about personal benefit for themselves, religion included.

This is a very interesting topic since the Azusa Street Revival Centennial celebration is coming up.  My church (Assemblies of God) is having a combined service with a Church of God in Christ this Sunday. This will help to break down the racial barrier seen in America's churches.

My conclusion about all of this is that: Perverted Civil War era 'Christianity' does not equal mainstream Christianity of today.


I think most of us could agree with you here.  Christians were on both sides of the Abolition issue, and on both sides of the Civil War.  Christianity has made considerable moral progress since then, or since the Crusades, Inquisition, etc.

The problem for us is that Christians, in all of these eras, claimed to have "the" ultimate morality, revealed by the Ultimate Source.  All of those atrocities we Atheists tend to harp on, including slavery (Southern side) and Sherman's March to the Sea (Union side) were done by Christians who would say that their actions were moral and sanctioned by God.

So, when Christians come to us now and say that apart from their beliefs no morality is possible, or that condoms should not be provided to help stem the spread of AIDS in Africa, or that "God hates fags," we are not impressed, because Christianity's "moral absolutes" sanctioned so many things that are absolutely immoral.

Then there's the claim that we're all inherently wretched sinners deserving eternal torment in Hell.  If you truly believe that, you may "be good" because you think God will smite you if you don't, but you will have no incentive to be good, that is, to have morality apart from commands, threats of punishments, or promises of reward.  Hence the common Christian canard, "If there's no God, why not murder little kids and make lampshades out of their skin?"

People believing in such moral premises will not try to advance the level of human moral progress because they will believe it's impossible.  They may try to convert people, so that they too will "be good" so as not to face the wrath of God, but that's different from "raising the bar" of human morality itself. 

Here you have witnessed a number of atheists who are outraged at the concept of slavery.  In ancient times, people took it as matter-of-fact, normal practice, and OK as long as it was "them" being enslaved and not "us."  Since the Bible does not contain a commandment, "Thou shalt not enslave another," but instead offers rules for the practice of slavery and the slave trade (the Old Testament) and injunctions to slaves to serve their masters willingly, as a form of service to Christ in the New Testament, it is not the Bible that changed this human attitude.

The sea change in human thought came as a result of the Enlightenment, a secular cultural development.  You are speaking now to children of the Enlightenment, who see clearly that it was our secular ethical progress, and not Biblical revelation that gives us the higher moral plane we stand on today.  Christians have fought on both sides of most of the moral struggles that got us here (abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, segregation, womens' lib, etc.). 

So yes, it would be wrong for us to blame Christianity for slavery (non-Christian cultures practiced it too), but neither will we accept the false premise that Christians have an inside-track on morality, because history shows that they don't.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2011, 03:47:50 PM »
Buckminster Fuller’s version of god

Quote from: EssGee
I was thinking about something and it really hit me. What is God? I was always told that God created everthing. It never really quite made any sense to me though. Here is thought, but is it possible that our universe can be seen as a God? Not a God, that judges, just one that was able to make us exist. Christians don't really give our universe any credit. They say that, "God created the heavens and the earth." They will tell you that God created everthing. What if our universe is like a God and created everthing. I know that I may sound like a broken record to some people here, but hear me out.

We exist because our universe exist. When we die, we get recycled back into the universe. Our universe is a mystery itself. Why complicate it more by saying that some ficticious character created the universe? Figuring out our universe, which is real, has more meaning to me than God and Jesus.

For all of you religious people in the house, you always say that people need to pick up the "Good Book" (which was written by men) and get to know God. Well, I say this. Why don't all of you Christians turn to the discovery chanel (which was created by men also) sometimes and see what is going on in our universe. Learn about galaxies and black holes. You will soon realize that there are a lot of things going on right now that may have the anwser to our existence.

Many atheist were once Christians. They have tried religion and it has not worked for them. Since Christians are so concerned that we all get to heaven and that they spread the word of the "Good Book", why not get to know those atheist and find out why they think as they do? I think that science is something that we all can relate to. Maybe it holds the key to our true destinies.

Yes, it is possible to think of it this way.  R. Buckminster Fuller defined "God" as a "great, complex integrity of omni-coordinate and inter-accommodative yet periodically unique and nonsimultaneously co-operative generalized principles, and their myriad of special case realizations, all of which we speak of as universe and may think intuitively of as God"

To unzip that (Fuller wrote with amazing informaiton density):

Great, complex integrity

"Integrity" here refers to the structural sort, the invisible property of a complex structure that makes it sound, i.e. "a triangle is self-bracing."

of omni-coordinate and inter-accommodative

Operational everywhere (across all coordinates) and operating in non-contradictory fashion as a synergy

yet periodically unique and nonsimultaneously co-operative

distinguishable from each other, operating in unique ways, yet cohering together into a non-contradictory whole (I'm a little less than clear about exactly what he was getting at here)

generalized principles

A more accurate term for what we call "laws of physics," since they're not legislation, i.e. commands given by a personal Sky-King.

and their myriad of special case realizations,

That is, all of the individual "things" in Universe.  IOW, Earth is a "special case realization" of the generalized principles of gravity, thermodynamics, emergent order, quantum mechanics, biology, neuroscience, etc.--a specific, concrete application of the generalized operating principles of Universe.

all of which we speak of as universe and may think intuitively of as God

We may think of the total complex of synergies and emergent order as God.

A "synergy" is an emergent property arising from a system that is not predictable by looking at the parts of that system.  For example, the alloy chrome-nickel-steel has a tensile strength that is significantly higher than the sum of the tensile strengths of its constituent metals.  The combination of an explosive metal (sodium) and a poison gas (chlorine) produces table salt, a chemical vital to our life processes.

Bucky's concept of "God" appears to have been to see It as a synergy of all of the generalized operating principles of Universe, and all of the specific manifestations of them, perhaps something like a Gaia Hypothesis for the whole cosmos.  It appears that whenever you get enough different interacting parts together into a system, a self-organizing emergent order arises that results in what seems like intelligent behavior.  For example, a very large cloud of hydrogen gas, consisting only of absolutely dumb hydrogen atoms, left to itself long enough, generated us.  This happened as a result of invisible, "metaphysical" generalized principles (emergent order, gravity, electromagnetism, evolution by natural selection, etc.) working in synergetic concert to produce something (us) that could not be predicted by looking at the hydrogen cloud.

Bucky liked to give demonstrations in his lectures.  One of the ones that I find most thought-provoking involved a slip-knot in a rope.  The rope he used was a hybrid, hemp braided into nylon braided into cotton, etc..  He would tie the slip knot into the rope, then move the knot down through the rope.  Is the knot made of hemp?  No, it still exists as nylon, cotton, etc.  The knot, in Bucky's parlance, is a metaphysical "pattern integrity" that is distinct from any "special case manifestation.  So a knot in a hemp rope would be one special-case manifestation, a knot in a string, another, and a knot in nylon cord another.  But the "metaphysical" "knot" is a pattern integrity that has certain properties regardless of what "special case" form it's appearing in at any given moment.  Likewisee, a triangle made of steel, one of wood, one of plastic, etc. all have the "metaphysical" property of being self-bracing.

Thus, the total "integrity" of all of these metaphysical principles and the emergent-order synergy that arises from their complex interaction represents a kind of "divine intelligence" inherent in Universe.  However, this sort of "divine intelligence" is utterly non-anthropomorphic, except in certain special-case manifestations--us.  Bucky proposed the idea that each individual mind could be considered "a department in the mind of God."

To me, pondering this sort of "cosmic integrity/intelligence," and certain "signatures" like Fibonacci spirals appearing in pine cones, sunflowers, and galaxies, fractal brancing in trees, neurons, lightning bolts, river deltas, and the mega-scale filaments made of billions of galaxies, operating across inconcievable scales of distance and spans of time, produces a greater sense of awe and majesty than the Biblical "King in the Sky" could conjure.

This approach to "the divine" could also yield a kind of one-and-many integration of poly"theism" and mono-"theism."  The ancient polytheists often conceived of their deities as personified generalized operating principles of universe (as they understood them).  So you would have a "god of storms" a "goddess of fertility," a sun god, moon god/-dess, rain god, sea god, etc., with myths created around how they interacted.  Thus, a sun god could have a storm-god as an enemy, as in the Egyptian myths of Ra vs. Apophis and Horus vs Seth.

In a modern approach, personification and mythmaking wouldn't be necessary.  However, such metaphysical operating principles as "gravity," "entropy," "self-organization" and "natural selection" could be viewed intuitively as non-anthropomorphic small-g "gods" with the big-G God representing the emergent property of the entire "pantheon." 

Either way, it could be said that "God" (concieved of in this manner) does have certain "laws" that are self-enforcing, with no need for such conceptions as "divine wrath."  Defy gravity by jumping off of a high bridge, and "punishment" is automatic.  Defy gravity by jumping off the top of a building, while obeying "laws' relating to the tensile strength of a thick, stretchable cord, and you could be "blessed" with a thrilling experience (if you like bungie-jumping).  Create a society based on synergy as "God" is based on synergy (IOW, a society organized around win-win positive-sum games) and you are "blessed," while creating a gaggle of squabbling, war-making societies playing zero-sum win-lose games, and again, "punishment" is automatic, in a general sort of form.

In this version of "God," however, there is no claim to absolute "perfect justice" or "wrath" etc., as "God" does not always operate on a human "level of resolution."  The idea is certainly debatable, but it makes more sense to me than conventional anthropomorphic theism.

Here's another approach to the idea of a God accessable to science, from Stephen Kosslyn.  A quote:
Quote
Here's an idea that many academics may find unsettling and dangerous: God exists. And here's another idea that many religious people may find unsettling and dangerous: God is not supernatural, but rather part of the natural order.

Simply stating these ideas in the same breath invites them to scrape against each other, and sparks begin to fly. To avoid such conflict, Stephen Jay Gould famously argued that we should separate religion and science, treating them as distinct "magisteria." But science leads many of us to try to understand all that we encounter with a single, grand and glorious overarching framework. In this spirit, let me try to suggest one way in which the idea of a "supreme being" can fit into a scientific worldview. I offer the following not to advocate the ideas, but rather simply to illustrate one (certainly not the only) way that the concept of God can be approached scientifically.

1.0. First, here's the specific conception of God I want to explore: God is a "supreme being" that transcends space and time, permeates our world but also stands outside of it, and can intervene in our daily lives (partly in response to prayer).

The whole article is well worth reading, and ought to produce some intersting discussion in a place like this. :)

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2011, 03:51:10 PM »
Here is a string on biblical errors.  I am not going to post the text here because the quoting function is disabled in the old forum.  That means I have to format them manually, which I have done so far.  However, these have more quotes and are a lot more work.  Sorry.

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2898.msg39002#msg39002
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2898.msg39863#msg39863
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2898.msg40233#msg40233
 
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2011, 03:53:33 PM »
Noah problems

Just a few interesting little facts about the antediluvian world that was supposed to be so "violent" that a Death Star-style planetary extermination was morally justified:

Noah was able to build a giant barge-style wooden boat.

This means he was able to have access to a large amount of lumber, nails, pitch, and whatever other fixtures and furnishings a ship of that size would require (e.g. plumbing).

This means, there was a division-of-labor economy, in which loggers logged trees, miners mined metals, smiths manufactured nails, etc., and the trade necessary to sustain such an economy.

He was able to build this boat unmolested.

He was able to preach about God's coming wrath, unmolested, for a hundred years.

He was able to travel the world, unmolested, to gather animals, or they were able to travel the world to get to him (where they got their airline tickets?  Who knows?).

He was able to gather the enormous amount of supplies necessary (feed for the herbivores, something to feed the predators, food for the humans, etc., all unmolested.

All of these things require a substantial amout of peace.  Think about the fact that these allegedly horrifically violent, savage people let Noah talk, for a hundred years, expressing beliefs they did not share.  They recognized his friggin' freedom of speech!

Let us say that someone wanted to preach the message of Buddhism in 1100 A.D. Europe.  How long would they last?  A hundred years?  I think not.

"But God miraculously protected Noah," you will say.  Then, we are to believe that whenever the roving barbarian hordes tried to attack Noah (and, being so violent, they must have, right?) they would be repeatedly repelled by forcefields, fireballs from heaven, or some other form of divine intervention...right?

Curious that the Bible does not provide even a single story of this sort of thing taking place.  After all, such an account of God's care and protection would have been inspiring, and would have re-emphasized just how evil this savage society was.

Back to the division-of-labor economy, that requires enough peace and order for people to specialize in, say, logging, knowing that someone else is going to grow your food, that food shipments will get through, that your money (or whatever you're trading) will be recognized, and likewise for clothes, shoes, and everything else you'll need.  These things simply cannot take place in a society utterly and totally consumed by violence.  Noah himself was able to create and accumulate a considerable economic surplus (beyond what he needed to survive) to finance the project.

This doesn't seem to me to imply a society even as violent as present-day Iraq.  Should we start issuing water-wings to our troops? :)
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2011, 03:24:06 PM »
Many thanks to Kcrady and you, Screwtape for making the arguments so accessible. There's a book in there.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2011, 03:54:04 PM »
Other Gods

Quote from: crossbearer777

this ain't gonna be pretty but THE BIBLE

In the Bible, Moses issues a command from his God saying, "Thou shalt have no gods before me."  Elsewhere, it is written, "For the LORD your God is a jealous God."

These verses would make no sense if other Gods did not exist. 

So if other Gods exist (and the First Commandment makes no sense if they don't), it makes perfect sense to accept that among these other Gods yours is jealous of, is the Great God Ptah.  As stated elsewhere, the existence of the Great God Ptah is richly documented in ancient Egyptian writings pre-dating yours.

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul claims that Christians help God make war upon "principalities and powers in the heavenly places."  Note the plural here.  This is not a reference to a singular rival principality ruled by Satan.  And, since they are in "heavenly places," they are not the underworld demons of Christian popular belief.  Paul defines these "principalities and powers" as "the rulers of this present age."  Who were the rulers of this present age?  Well, human rulers are already ruled out (because the war is not waged against "flesh and blood"), which leaves only one set of obvious candidates: the Gods and Goddesses of other relgions.

Therefore, far from disproving the existence of the Great God Ptah, the Bible provides further evidence for His existence.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2011, 03:57:11 PM »
Intelligent design

ID doesn't even support the idea of "a" Designer.  It could be a team, like major design projects are in reality--IOW, a pantheon.
Or we could just say that the evolutionary process itself is a form of natural "intelligence" operating in very slow motion. 

Either way, ID isn't much help in validating Christianity, even if its arguments ("irreducible complexity," etc.) were valid.  Furthermore, before you can posit a Designer or Designers as an explanatory mechanism in science, you have to be able to define them, their abilities, their methods of interacting with matter/energy, etc.  This is the same thing a particle physicist has to do if s/he wants to propose a new particle as an answer for some question in physics.  S/he must define its mass, charge, half-life (if it decays), etc. so that physicists can "know where to look" in order to try to find (or falsify) it.

To propose a "Designer" or "Designers" as the solution to how bacterial flagella originated, etc., merely opens up a whole new slew of mysteries.  What is a "Designer" made of?  How does (whatever they're made of) interact with matter?  If they exist in some alternate dimension with alternate generalized operating principles (e.g. a "spirit realm" that works differently than the Universe we know) how do they learn enough about our Universe's generalized operating principles to set about designing something to work here?  Consider for a moment the extreme difficulty of designing a complex machine to work in a Universe where the principles of physics are different from yours!

Then there's the usual, "What about the Designers?  Are they 'irreducibly complex?'  Who designed them?" etc.

ID "theory" is a kind of Stealth argument that seeks cash in on the prevalence of Christianity, while pretending that it's "neutral" and "scientific."  They hope we'll assume that "design" proves a Designer, that "everybody knows" that it is the one the pastor talks about in church on Sunday, and that we can just ignore any need to scientifically define the "Designer" or show how he could set about designing and building things in our universe.


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http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3028.msg41600#msg41600

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2011, 04:00:25 PM »
In search of gods


I also applaud you for your empathy (+1), and your fair consideration of both sides' viewpoints.  I don't know that many atheists on this forum would have problems with someone who was searching for God(-dess/s) like AIDS researchers looking for a cure.  The problem with spirituality in general is not those who seek, but the ones who claim to have already found, and who seek to impress their "cure" on everyone based on their own dogmatic and unquestioning acceptance.

In your analogy, they would be like people claiming that garlic is "the" cure for AIDS, while another religion like Islam would be people claiming that rutabagas are "the" cure for AIDS.  In this modified analogy, the atheist is like an AIDS researcher who is convinced that neither garlic nor rutabagas work as a cure for AIDS.  When the garlic research team and the rutabaga team kill each other and/or atheists ("infidels") because "their cure is the right one" despite a complete lack of proof, atheists cannot accept that sort of behavior because the garlic and rutabaga research teams say they're out to cure AIDS.

From the Christian (and, probably Muslim) point of view, we atheists (and the other research team) have AIDS ("sin") and we must take their cure (garlic/rutabagas) or perish.  Atheists don't agree that we have the disease ("Original Sin") to begin with, and hence do not need either cure.  Furthermore, consuming either garlic or rutabagas in the necessary quantities is unpalatable as well as unnecessary.

The garlic team and the rutabaga team both believe they have AIDS (sin) but that their cure, and only their cure can work.  They hold that it is important to believe in their cure regardless of any absence of proof, or evidence to the contrary.  They see us (and each other) as bringing ourselves and others the curse of death by AIDS (sin, hell).  Atheists see both as applying a "cure" that is both unnecessary and ineffective, and their squabbles with each other as exteremely dangerous, especially when either team starts edging toward the nuclear weapons.

We are at an impasse, but I think the impasse is centered on the concept of "faith," of believing in anything as a matter of choice and will rather than accepting the probable truth of a thing based on the evidence.  I think the first step toward us getting along with each other on Spaceship Earth is for the members of each religion to acknowledge that the members of the other religions have exactly the same kind of devout faith they do, just as sincerely, and for the same reasons.  For atheists, I think we ought to acknowledge that people of faith are not inherently drooling, delusional idiots, but that they have accepted memes that are supremely well-adapted to the workings of the human mind.

When a person deconverts, it suddenly seems so obvious, and we wonder what took us so long.  Then the newly-minted atheist turns around on the vast majority of his/her fellow humans and thinks, "What is WRONG with you people?!  Why can't you SEE?!"  And so we get the "believers are delusional" meme, along with Marshall Brain's mantra of "every sane, reasonable adult"--which obviously does not include believers.  I don't think this is necessarily the best approach.  There is a certain smugness associated with being in the elite 3% of the population that's not crazy (which is what this approach seems to imply), but it's not that different from the smugness that comes with being in the elite small percentage of those who have truly Seen The Light and are Saved.

IOW, it is an all too common human tendency to dehumanize people who do not believe in the same things you do.  They're either servants of Satan--or inmates who are running the asylum.  Naturally, these kinds of attitudes are not conducive to coexistence.  I suppose the best thing we can do is begin from a place of compassion and epistemological humility that acknowledges that the map is not the territory, and the picture of reality we keep in our heads is not reality itself.

Christians: It really is possible to sincerely and honestly believe in something other than Christianity (and to disbelieve).  All those people with other religions and no religion do it all the time.

Muslims: It really is possible to sincerely and honestly believe in something other than Islam (and to disbelieve).  All those people with other religions and no religion do it all the time.

Atheists: The notion that 96+ percent of the human race is insane/delusional/stupid--and that you are in the elite 3 percent of the human race that isn't barking mad--is incompatible (IMO) with natural selection.  If religion were merely some blatantly stupid "delusion," then the fact that the vast majority of humans accept it would indicate that as a species we have a terribly flawed cognitive apparatus (atheist Original Sin?); basically the mental equivalent of 96 percent of cheetahs being born with only three legs.

However, if we are willing to consider that religion itself is an evolving thing (e.g. memetics), that it has become supremely well-adapted to the workings of the human mind and human psychology, that under pre-WMD conditions it provided survival advantages to groups that outweighed its disadvantages1 then we can at least acknowledge that we're not dealing with people who believe in some wimpy little fantasy like the Tooth Fairy or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (useful as they may be as analogies in debate).  Rather, we are dealing with memes that have been evolving along with us as long as we've been human2  The religions that now exist are, essentially, the most powerful of the bunch.  We may consider religion a dangerous adversary3, but it is an adversary worthy of respect.  And thus, we should try to avoid treating believers like mental midgets, even those that do their best to act like it. 

True, they may shut off their cognitive apparatus, and do so proudly and openly in the name of faith ("God said it, I belive it, that settles it!") or harness their congnitive apparatus to the task of "defending the faith" (apologetics, Creationism, ID, etc.).  But they do this because they've internalized a highly-sophisticated meme that is very good at persuading them to do so, not because they're morons or crazy.


NOTES:

1. A religion that can convince a group of people to act in concert, and to be willing to kill and die for it will confer that group an advantage over a group that spends its time bickering, debating, and otherwise failing to cohere enough to act in concert, and whose members are not willing to kill and die "for a cause."  The anti-rationality which is a characteristic of just about every religion makes it possible for a society controlled by a given religion to "follow the leader."  All other things being equal, an Iron Age army of zealots following a "man of God" will easily crush an army of thoughtful rationalists who must decide everything by consensus after full deliberation.  Soldiers who believe death in battle is a first-class ticket to a blissful, eternal afterlife--perhaps including access to a bevy of beautiful dark-eyed virgins--will arguably be better at facing the carnage of war than soldiers who think this is their one and only life.

For these reasons, religious societies had significant advantages over non-religious societies, which probably resulted in adaptations to the architecture of the human brain that make it possible for us to have mystical experiences.  However, a society that went too far in this direction, becoming mindless drones, would be out-thought by clever enemies who could still use their reasoning apparatus.  Hence, the tension between the royal Abrahamic God and the 'subtil' (clever) Serpent, or between the cunning Ulysses and the divine and magical forces around him.  And so we humans ended up being neither perfect True Believers nor perfect Rational Thinkers.

2. Neandertal burials have been found that include grave goods (tools and weapons) and flowers ceremoniously interred with the bodies.  This is probably an indicator of belief in an afterlife where the grave-goods would be needed again.  The cave paintings of Cro Magnon man are also considered to have been used for religious initiation rites and to assist shamanic "spirit journeys," due to the often considerable difficulties in spelunking so deep into a cave and creating elaborate artwork with the primitive lighting available.

3. The military advantages conveyed by the group-think and willingness to kill and die that religion provides have become severe disadvantages in an age of WMD.  The Abrahamic warrior-religions arguably represent the greatest single threat to human survival, at least until they can adapt to an era in which war has become obsolete.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2011, 04:03:13 PM »
Jesus and John the Baptist


Quote
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

--Matthew 14:1-2

Quote
And king Herod heard [of him]; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
But when Herod heard [thereof], he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

--Mark 6:14-16

Quote
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

--Matthew 16:13-14

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And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?   They answering said, John the Baptist; but some [say], Elias; and others [say], that one of the old prophets is risen again.

--Luke 9:18-19



These illuminating passages reveal something quite astonishing.  If they can be considered accurate1, they indicate that there was a theory spreading in Jesus' own time, that he was a resurrected John the Baptist.  They also indicate that there were at least a few other "resurrection theories" that proposed that Jesus was Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other ancient Hebrew prophets raised from the dead.

These theories apparently had broad currency, since Herod the Tetrarch had heard of them, and they crop up in a discussion between Jesus and his disciples as an issue important enough to be written down later.  Of course, Peter goes on to affirm that Jesus is the Messiah, with Jesus' approval.

However, what's interesting here is that the theories existed at all.  Jesus and John the Baptist are portrayed as contemporaries, conceived at about the same time.  Both are portrayed as having popular itinerant ministries capable of drawing significant crowds and the attention of the Jewish and Roman elites. 

In other words, a theory that Jesus was John the Baptist resurrected would not seem to be the most credible belief system.  Yet, this theory was popular enough that when Jesus asked his disciples who people thought he was, it came up first.  And it wasn't even the only theory.  Jesus was also believed to be a resurrected Elijah, Jeremiah, or "one of the prophets"--which would seem to indicate a number of less widely-accepted theories.

What this shows us is that the people of Jesus' time were very extraordinarily eager to believe in resurrection theories concerning prophets and holy men.  Is it any wonder then, that tales of a resurrection of Jesus himself should take root among this same population?  When we see how many times Jesus "appears" but does not look like Jesus--either as a "man on the road," or as a "gardiner," and is only later "recognized" as Jesus, we can either assume that Jesus was a shape-changer camoflaging his appearance for some mysterious reason, or we can opt for the theory that people so eager to believe in resurrected messiah figures that they would see in Jesus a resurrected John the Baptist, might also see in a man walking along a road, or a gardiner, a resurrected Jesus.

I leave it to you to note which is the more parsimonious explanation.


NOTES:

The question of whether Jesus is a historical or mythic figure is a subject that often comes up for debate on these forums.  For the purposes of this post, it will be assumed that the Gospels are based at least on some kernel of genuine history; the degree of their accuracy is beyond the scope of this post.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2011, 04:13:24 PM »
Why faith?

Quote from: unkleE

Quote
Why did god give me free will if he is going to punish me for freely choosing not to believe in him?

As a theist, I'd like to give a different answer to the others on offer here .....

Free will or autonomous life is an amazing gift. God could have made nothing, or robots or whatever, but he made humans and gave us the ability to choose, including choosing not to believe in him as many on this forum do. Yes, there is responsibility that inevitably goes with freedom, and that means ultimately justice will be done.

Could you please explain what "justice" has to do with believing in your god, or not?  If someone chose not to believe in the sun, we might think they were silly, but I doubt you could find anyone who thought they deserved to be punished for it.  And what if the fact in question is a little less obvious.  Like the existence of flying saucers.  There's plenty of evidence--lots of photos, eyewitness testimony, and so on.  However, many people (I'm guessing most Christians included) are not convinced that aliens are traveling across the galaxy on a large scale so they can draw pretty pictures in crops and cut out cows' genitals with surgical precision.

Do you believe in flying saucers?  If not, do you think it would be "just" for the aliens to abduct you and punish you for not believing in them?

With regard to Christianity, we have had Christians fairly regularly assert the Babelfish Defense whenever we ask them for convincing evidence for their god's existence.  Basically, the argument goes, God has given us free will to choose whether to believe in him or not.  If he provided convincing evidence, the choice to believe would be automatic.  Therefore, in order to uphold "free will" he basically hides himself in order to make atheism, Hinduism, etc. look credible so we have a "choice" what to believe.

Which means: God "fudges the facts" (camoflages his existence and power, except for a few times in the ancient past when he didn't) so we have the option of getting it wrong.  And then, when we, based on the deception-by-omission he has provided, make the "wrong" choice, he punishes us for being mistaken!

Could you explain a theory of justice this is consistent with?  Preferably something other than "because God says so."  That's just a whim, not a concept of justice.

I would also like to know: why is belief in the absence of evidence so important to God?  Acknowledgement of the existence of God as a fact is not synonymous with choosing to love, worship, or serve him.  God could make his existence self-evident, and still give us choice whether to serve him or not.  He could simply offer to give those who did not want to worship him but who were still decent, caring people the afterlife of their choice.   

>snip<
Quote
Another common misunderstanding by christians and atheists alike (I believe).
  • Jesus used the word "destroy", meaning an end to life (Matthew 10:28). 
  • The term often translated "everlasting" (e.g. in Matthew chapter 25) is more correctly translated "eternal", which is not the same thing. Eternal translates the Greek word "aionios", which to a Jew of Jesus's day meant the age to come (in contrast to this present age).
  • Several words translated "hell" have various meanings, including the place or state of the dead, and a rubbish tip outside Jerusalem. Certainly not the hell of popular imagination and Gary Larson cartoons!

To me, this (and the debate between you and Giannis over Greek translation, Aramaic, etc.) is problematic to Christianity.  Here we have a fairly important issue that pertains directly to God's character.  Does he torture people forever, or just snuff them out?  If you hold (as most Christians do) to the idea that God is immune to screw-ups, why did he create and transmit his revelation in such a way that people who are experts in ancient languages as an academic specialty can disagree over what the words mean?

Put yourself in the shoes of a neutral observer, say, an intelligent Buddhist who steps into the room while you and Giannis are exchanging scholarly arguments on koine Greek and Aramaic.  How is this neutral observer supposed to take seriously the idea that they are called upon to "choose to believe" something, and if they make the wrong "choice" they will be punished, when even prominent experts in the relevent fields don't agree on the content of what the rest of us are supposed to believe? 

The same question applies, of course, in relation to the numerous different versions of Christianity.  To ask someone to believe in something without (or even in contradiction to) evidence is presumptuous enough, IMO.  How do you ask them to "believe in something" when the people who already profess to believe all disagree on exactly what that "something" is?
Quote
Put it all together and you get the following - there will be a judgment or reckoning and life will end for those who fail it (by not asking for forgiveness). In one sense they get what they want, no God and no life. So it's still a sobering and awful teaching, but not nearly what is often imagined, and certainly not everlasting torment.  BTW, I didn't come to this view just because it is preferable, but from a scholar and checking out the Greek for myself.

Hope that helps at least understand what "the other side" believes, so at least your disbelief can be better based.

Do I understand you to be saying that you believe God simply annihilates those who reject him rather than subjecting them to eternal torment?  If so, what sort of execution is it?  Does he burn them to death (hence the fiery imagery, the analogy of Gehenna, the valley where the city of Jerusalem burned its trash, etc.)?  Or is it more like, *zap* you're not there anymore?  Or does he have different execution styles depending on his assessment of the person's guilt (e.g. the nice little old lady who believes God is a girl, wears a crystal 'round her neck, and reads Tarot cards gets a more merciful execution than one of Stalin's gulag commandants)?


Follow-up
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3036.msg42506#msg42506
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2011, 02:41:11 PM »
Evidence: Roswell > jesus


Quote from: moshydog
To answer this I would say that if someone can prove that a god has revealed themself to us, objectively, then that god exists. True? Secondly, if this being claimed to be a god, and then went on to prove this by doing something impossible (for a human), this would suffice as a proof that the god exists. True?
Case in point:
Death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Can it be shown that this event did not happen? Yes (disprovable).

Would anyone like to have a go at this? Proving that god does or doesn't exist from an objective position? Is jesus just a man, a god, or doesn't he exist?

What is your answer, and what is your proof?

Since you are the one who proposes we add a new item to our inventory of facts (that your God exists, and has revealed this through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), you have the burden of proof to show that the resurrection of Jesus (and hence, the existence of the God this presumably reveals) is a fact.  What is your evidence?  Eyewitness testimony of the Gospels written down at least 40 years later?1

We have better evidence than that for a crashed flying saucer at Roswell.  In addition to eyewitness testimony of people who claim to have handled crash debris made of inexplicable materials, seen alien bodies being taken in for dissection, etc., we even have contemorary accounts--a newspaper story and radio broadcast--given within days of the events.

True, there's a debunking story that came out, but that could just be an Establishment Coveruptm.  The eyewitnesses reject the "weather balloon" story.

Now, many Christians, especially the more "fundamentalist" variety, would reject the idea of aliens from other planets visiting the Earth in spaceships because the Bible does not say anything about extraterrestrial life visiting Earth.

Do you have any evidence, other than dubious Roswell-quality eyewitness claims made decades after the alleged event, to validate the resurrection of Jesus? 

NOTES:

1. There is, of course, considerable debate that the Gospels are even "eyewitness" accounts at all, or written by the individuals they are named for.  For example, none of the Disciples were present in the courtrooms for Jesus' trials, yet words and events there are recorded.  Likewise for Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gesthemane, for which the Gospels tell us, only his "inner circle" disciples were even in the area, and they were asleep.

(4 more pages of discussion follow)
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2011, 03:19:24 PM »
It’s all hearsay

Quote from: james51
Quote from: generousgeorge
But I'm not talking about just the 10  ....I'm talking about all the guidance and 1,000s of contradictary commands God makes in the bible....you want to draw our attention only to the 10 commandments for the covenience of your argument.

Those are the specific ones brought down, the rest ? Where did they come from? Hearsay. God told me? Yeah right, well God talks to me too and He didn't tell me that. I think you heard Him wrong.

I think the "other" commandments he's talking about are the ones in the Bible.  There's 613 of them.  Tossing in Jesus' two, that makes 615.  Now, either God is responsible for all those other Biblical commandments, or he is not.  If he is not, and they're hearsay (as you imply), then what about "the ones brought down?"  How do we know if any commandments were brought down from any mountain written by God's own hand?  It's hearsay.  We're supposed to believe it because whoever wrote the Book of Exodus says so.  We don't have any confirmation of any of this from other sources.  There are no Egyptian records of a massive set of calamities followed by the loss of a large slave workforce, followed in turn by the loss of an Egyptian army with a Pharaoh at it's head.

So why should we believe in the "10 Commandments" you like?  They're just hearsay too.  And the ones Jesus issued?  Hearsay.  We only "know" he said them because other people writing decades afterwards said he did.  And we know that only because generations of other people copied, redacted, and then voted to declare some texts as "canon" while rejecting others.

It's all hearsay, pure and simple.
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