Author Topic: I will not prove God exists  (Read 19348 times)

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Offline screwtape

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #261 on: August 09, 2011, 07:24:12 AM »
the scientific method is the only best way we know to learn about the world

^I corrected that for you.  It is not the only way to know things.  But it is the best method we have found to make sure what we know is accurate, error free and not fraudulent.


I hope you'll consider the possibility that there exists another method for discovering truth and I even hope you'll consider what Christians recommend:

1. Resolve to follow God if you discover He exists
2. Read the scriptures
3. Practice following the precepts there
4. Pray to know whether God exists

If you do so, you'll feel God start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.

1. You are not a xian.  Mormons are no more xian than xians are jewish.
2. The brothers Lafferty and I just kicked the snot out of that method.  I hope you will address my previous post.


« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 08:56:08 AM by screwtape »
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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #262 on: August 09, 2011, 08:36:10 AM »
Quote
I think if you consider it a minute, you'll realize that your reliance on that axiom is every bit as dogmatic as the theist doctrines you spend your time railing against. I hope you'll consider the possibility that there exists another method for discovering truth and I even hope you'll consider what Christians recommend:

1. Resolve to follow God if you discover He exists
2. Read the scriptures
3. Practice following the precepts there
4. Pray to know whether God exists

If you do so, you'll feel God start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.

Your message addresses a concept no one really holds and, thus, it was quite ineffectual. Do better.

Preaching on your way out the door is selfish, and I would venture, a bit ignorant. Be better.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Avatar Of Belial

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #263 on: August 09, 2011, 10:09:45 AM »
4. Pray to know whether God exists

*Begins Praying*

"Oh, Great Odin, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Allah, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Zues, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Anshur, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Ahura Mazda, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Quetzalcoatl, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Bob, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Vishnu, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Kutkh, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Yahweh, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Amaterasu, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

"Oh, Great Ra, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

...Ugh, this might take a while...
"You play make-believe every day of your life, and yet you have no concept of 'imagination'."
I do not have "faith" in science. I have expectations of science. "Faith" in something is an unfounded assertion, whereas reasonable expectations require a precedent.

Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #264 on: August 09, 2011, 11:01:08 AM »
Quote
"Oh, Great Odin, do you exist?"
"No? Okay..."

yer doin it wrong.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Avatar Of Belial

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #265 on: August 09, 2011, 11:12:21 AM »
Y'know, they keep telling me that, but when I ask how its supposed to be done, I either get waffling on the subject, or I'm told to stand on my head while balancing sixty banannas and reciting Shakespere backwards.

They always seem to shy away from demonstrating that...
"You play make-believe every day of your life, and yet you have no concept of 'imagination'."
I do not have "faith" in science. I have expectations of science. "Faith" in something is an unfounded assertion, whereas reasonable expectations require a precedent.

Offline velkyn

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #266 on: August 09, 2011, 12:43:53 PM »
So, I'm going to have to start spending a lot less time on the forum. I have another project.
Funny how theists always find soemthign else they *need* to do when they get stuck. I’ve seen this excuse before and I find just as much a lie as ever. Shame that so many theists think that such a poor lie has any chance of being believed.
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I really only came here with one idea to share. And, while the discussions have been interesting, I wanted to state this very clearly. The idea is this:
The belief that the scientific method is the only way of learning about the world is a social construction. It was given us by Auguste Comte and others and is so deeply ingrained that we never question it.
Wow, more baseless claims!  How could I have expected anything less.  Again, shame how you are such a hypocrite and that you attack the scientific method when you have presented NOTHING else that can give information about the world, especially your promises how your religion does anything of the sort.
Quote
Even as we question everything else taught us by parents and teachers and pastors and CNN, we mostly cling to our faith in the following (in one form or another):
If I can't show you it's true, it's not true.
As has been said, this fails.  And again, it shows how much of a hypocrite that you are.  I question and if my questions are answered by facts, I trust that the information is true.  Science is not immune to this, and you only keep saying it is since that is your strawman to attack.  You have nothing else going for you. 
Quote
I think if you consider it a minute, you'll realize that your reliance on that axiom is every bit as dogmatic as the theist doctrines you spend your time railing against.
Since no on relies on it, considering it is rather stupid.  And we have one more attempt at a lie by a theist. 
Quote
I hope you'll consider the possibility that there exists another method for discovering truth and I even hope you'll consider what Christians recommend:
I rather doubt you just “hope”, dear.  I’m sure you are praying your little guts out.  And as soon as I see evidence that any of your claims are true, I’ll consider a lot of things.  But you’ve been asked for that evidence and not surprisingly, now you are running away never having presented any. 
Quote
1. Resolve to follow God if you discover He exists
check
Quote
2. Read the scriptures
check
Quote
3. Practice following the precepts there
check
Quote
4. Pray to know whether God exists
And double check.  Golly I did this and it failed.  Your god has failed, and you have failed.  Repeatedly.  Your magic spell for getting god’s attention has failed so why should I believe your nonsense that you’ve ever been contacted by god since this obviously doesn’t work?
Quote
If you do so, you'll feel God start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.
  Lies and more lies. No addressing why your claims fail, just repetition as if no one ever told you that.  Nice work there, Fiz.  You’ve demonstrated that yet more theists are deceitful human beings. 
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Offline jtk73

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #267 on: August 09, 2011, 01:29:36 PM »
Does everyone agree that the only kind of God is the kind that makes himself visible all the time to everyone?
Are you referring to the christian god? Isn't he supposed to be omnipotent? He wouldn't have to make himself visible. He could make his presence known in countless, definitive ways. He wouldn't need followers knocking on other peoples doors to spread his 'word'. Everyone would know exactly what they needed to do to avoid <insert negative consequences here> perfectly and instantly. Then they could decide how to proceed. But the question of whether they should even consider it would already be answered.

Offline jtk73

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #268 on: August 09, 2011, 01:43:16 PM »
I hope you'll consider the possibility that there exists another method for discovering truth and I even hope you'll consider what Christians recommend:

1. Resolve to follow God if you discover He exists
2. Read the scriptures
3. Practice following the precepts there
4. Pray to know whether God exists

If you do so, you'll feel God start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.
Uh-oh! I see a problem with your steps. This is what I see:
1. Assume that your belief is true.
2. Do things to reenforce your belief.
3. Live your life devoted to this belief.
4. Ignore negative results and go back to step 1.

Also, very important, do I do this for a specific god or all gods. If just one specific god, how do I choose?

Offline Hatter23

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #269 on: August 09, 2011, 01:45:10 PM »

1. Resolve to follow The Flying Spaghetti Monster if you discover He exists
2. Read The Gospel of The Flying Spaghetti Monster
 3. Practice following the precepts there
4. Pray to know whether The Flying Spaghetti Monsterexists

If you do so, you'll feel The Flying Spaghetti Monster start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.


This could equally be said. This proves simply the human capacity for self lying, not the value of the God concept
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline kcrady

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #270 on: August 09, 2011, 11:23:38 PM »
Hi kcrady, all,

Sorry I spent so long away. Had to handle some other things.

Thanks for your post. I think there's a difference between a god that can't be shown to another and a god that does nothing at all.

Not when it comes to anticipating how reality will behave.  A god that "can't be shown to another" (i.e., has no effect on external reality that can be objectively detected in any way, even in principle) is equivalent to the non-existence of such a god.  A god who only produces subjective experiences in the minds of devout, sincere believers is indistinguishable from non-god mental phenomena, like cognitive biases, imaginary friends, hallucinations, etc. (depending on the nature of the subjective experience).  Remember, in order to remain perfectly hidden, your god cannot provide you and those who believe what you do any tangible benefits whatsoever.  It can't answer your prayers, guide you through tough decisions, or protect you and yours from random disaster any more than it protects anyone else.     

Could you accept a god that would reveal himself only to the sincere seeker, one who expects you to take a leap of faith before revealing himself to you?

No.  Why?  Because there would be no way for me to tell, even in principle, that I'm believing in the right god.  The "sincere seeker" thing is just an invitation to engage confirmation bias. 

Believer: Goddess loves you, but she will only reveal herself to the sincere seeker.  Ask her to reveal herself to you, and perform the ritual of the Calling of the Corners every night, and she will fill your heart with warmth.

Skeptic: *tries it*  Sorry, it didn't work.

Believer: Well, that just shows that you weren't sincere enough.

In the same way and for the same reason that you do not pray "sincerely" to other gods and goddesses and watch for signs that each exists (engage confirmation bias and keep an eye out for anything you can interpret as that deity "revealing" itself to you), I will not do so for yours.

As I said in my blog post, a spiritual epistemology will embarrass you. It won't help you win any arguments and you won't be able to show Him off to your friends. It takes more effort to find God than just showing up and listening. Not many things in our world are like this.

Actually, there are a number of things in our world that are quite a bit like this.  Psychic powers, for instance.  Lots of people claim to possess paranormal abilities of various kinds.  Ask them to demonstrate their putative powers under controlled conditions set up with the help of a trained illusionist (like James Randi), and suddenly it turns out that the powers won't work because the skeptics aren't "sincere" enough.  Or we could talk about the "Law of Attraction" as taught in The Secret and other similar materials, which claims that Universe will bend to your will and "manifest" desired things for you in response to various exercises of concentration and visualization...wait for it...if you believe sincerely enough.  Not to mention all those other religions you don't believe in.

I disagree strongly that any action of God would be detectable in some statistic.

Note how you anticipate, before any possible attempt to measure the effects of divine favor on the community of his true believers, that no effects of your god's existence will be found.

What does this mean?  It means that, when it comes to how you expect reality to behave, you anticipate that it will behave exactly as it would if atheism were true.  You live in the same godless Universe we do, and you know it.  Your pragmatic expectation of a scientific-naturalist Universe sweeps aside all "spirit beings" of any sort.  It does not occur to you that the Devil, or angels, or demons, or djinn, or fairies, or any "spirit being" other than your shy god might manifest some statistically-significant effect.  Otherwise, you would have to introduce some explanation as to why Jains never have heart attacks, or why Wiccans who purchase stocks after lighting green candles and reciting a prosperity incantation make 30% more money from their stock picks than the average.

So we can see that there is a distinction between what you profess to believe, and how you actually model the anticipated behavior of reality.  You profess belief in an omnimax god who, in the literature from whence your professed believe is derived (the Bible, the Book of Mormon) does not hide, but regularly provides demonstrable manifestations of his existence to the human characters.  But you don't actually expect those stories to match your experience of reality.  You expect your experience of reality to be radically different--to match, exactly, in every possible way, the expectations of people who reject your professed beliefs, that is, athests.

To reconcile your professed belief with the observed and anticipated behavior of reality, you have to create a theological excuse to explain why the existence of your god is indistinguishable from his non-existence.  Hence, the "hidden" god.  Or in a nutshell, rather than believing in your god (actually thinking reality will behave in accordance with his existence), you believe in belief in your god. 

You think, perhaps, that belief in god makes you virtuous (and unbelief would make you wicked), or value the "spiritual" community "believing in god" makes it possible for you to join.  What matters most is the ability to wear "belief-in-god" as a mental attire, like team colors at a football game or a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker.  Perhaps "belief in god" offers you other putative benefits, like being able to convince yourself that you'll have a wonderful new life given to you after you die, that you'll get to see dead loved ones again, and so on.  But whatever its benefits, god-belief does not match the way reality actually behaves.

Your difficulty in persuading us to adopt your beliefs stems largely from the fact that all or most of us operate on the principle that our beliefs are only valid if they can "pay rent" in terms of evidential support and anticipated experiences.
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #271 on: August 10, 2011, 05:32:16 AM »
I disagree strongly that any action of God would be detectable in some statistic. Ambassador Pony and I had a brief discussion about an appropriate experiment. It's hard to tease out all the other influences both in selecting subjects and in hiding from them the purpose of the experiment.

Oh, I'm sure.  Because an omnipotent god acting in the lives of his chosen people would of course appear to yield exactly the same results as those heathens who have no divine influence in their lives.  Are you REALLY trying to say that those people in whom god works still go through life with the same amount of crud as do the unbelievers?  Sounds like a pretty useless god to me....if the omnimax creator of the world whose Will is Supreme and who acts regularly in your life and the lives of all believers is so indistinguishable from the results of those who get diddly-squat divine guidance and assistance.  What you are saying is there is no benefit from belief, is that correct?

Actually, I guess it could be that all the True Believers are in their natural state so miserable, so unlicky, so prone to violence and deceit and horror and loneliness and trouble, that only the consistent activity of the omnimax god is sufficient to raise them to the "normal" level that is enjoyed by the unbeliever.  In which case you have my sympathy, but you have at least shown that it pointless me calling on your god, as he needs all his time and energy spent on the miserable wretches that are Christians.

The personal experiment likewise suffers from a lack of objectivity.
  And yet you are positive that there is an effect in your life?  Interesting.  How can you be objective about YOUR experiences, I wonder?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #272 on: August 10, 2011, 05:55:37 AM »
.....I even hope you'll consider what Christians recommend:

1. Resolve to follow God if you discover He exists
2. Read the scriptures
3. Practice following the precepts there
4. Pray to know whether God exists

If you do so, you'll feel God start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.

Avatar of Belief touched on the very real problem with this approach - that there are, quite simply, far too many gods for it to be possible.

Kcrady noted the "sincerity" get out, but there is another one that believers tend to use when no results are forthcoming: the "god will not answer immediately, it could take months/years/decades".  And therein lies another problem - that I could spend the next 40 years praying to YOUR god, using up the time that would more profitably be spent looking for the one TRUE god out of the thousands of others that are or have been alleged to exist.

You would doubtless ridicule any Scandinavian who followed the Norse pantheon who said "pray and make sacrifice to Odin the all-father.  He may not answer you straight away, but keep trying as one day he will."  You would, I am sure, urge me to ignore his words and instead pray to YOUR god, because......well, just because, okay?  Because I say so!

That the point, FG.  While there is no piece of evidence that points to YOUR god being real, there is NO reason to make YOUR god my first port of call for the above 4 steps.  Nor even the second one I try, or the hundred and second.  I could work my way through in alphabetical order, in geographical order, or any other order there may be....and since NO religion will guarantee me an "instant" response, how long should I spend on each one?  A week?  A month?  And if I pray to Allah this week (and get nothing, and move on) and to the Christian God next week (and get nothing....), for what reason should I persist with YOUR god when I did not persist with Allah?  Why should Ganesh's week be pushed back, along with every other god on the list?

Indeed, Christianity has a very strong argument for my NOT giving extra time to your god's chance at the four steps....because you tell us that YOUR god is positively eager for a relationship, is champing at the bit for his chance to make a connection.  And why would such a god choose to hide, to delay, to hang back?  Sorry, but the way your god is described make spending even a week trying to make contact a bit of a waste, as he should surely appear in short order.

So there's the two points, FG, if you wish to address them. 

Firstly, what piece of evidence can you offer, that I can examine, that should make YOUR god first on my "prayer list"?  Remember, anything that is subjective to YOU cannot be considered, since every other believer of every other stripe will be offering the same response.

And Secondly, why does a god that loves us and is desperate for a relationship with us, desperate for us to find and come to him....why does it spend so much time hiding, concealing its existence, and remaining aloof when someone tries to open communications?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline EV

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #273 on: August 10, 2011, 03:15:00 PM »
Fiz.

tits or GTFO.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 04:00:06 PM by ElliotViolin »
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Offline fishjie

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #274 on: August 10, 2011, 03:34:45 PM »

If god were real, we wouldn't be having this conversation.  Everyone would know it.  It would be as obvious as gravity.


Hi Jeff,
  Why do you think so?

seriously bro?   

have YOU even read the scriptures?

let's look at the god of the bible.    he sent floods that wiped out all life on earth.  he sent plagues of locusts and angels of death that killed all the first born in egypt.    he raised TONS of people from the dead.    he brought down the walls of jericho.     moses had to wear a veil because he had spoken with god and his face was now glow in the dark.   

and now lets look at the OT.  jesus performed tons of miracles.    raised some people from the dead, rose himself from the dead, and healed a bunch of people.   he clearly stated that his followers would also be able to perform similar miracles.

at no point in the scriptures did god stay "behind the scenes".    he was an in your face deity that made his presence KNOWN.   nowhere in the scriptures did it say miracles would stop.   and indeed, for centuries following the advent of christianity, many saints performed similar miracles.   and yet they stopped all of a sudden.

why do you suppose this is?   could it be because people started becoming less superstitious and more critical and skeptical?   or that a god who could speak from a burning bush all of a sudden decided to remain silent, except in places where lots of uneducated superstitious people still gather (just go to any charismatic evangelical church to see people "healed" from cancer)....

Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #275 on: August 17, 2011, 12:00:50 AM »

Not when it comes to anticipating how reality will behave.  A god that "can't be shown to another" (i.e., has no effect on external reality that can be objectively detected in any way, even in principle) is equivalent to the non-existence of such a god.  A god who only produces subjective experiences in the minds of devout, sincere believers is indistinguishable from non-god mental phenomena, like cognitive biases, imaginary friends, hallucinations, etc. (depending on the nature of the subjective experience).  Remember, in order to remain perfectly hidden, your god cannot provide you and those who believe what you do any tangible benefits whatsoever.  It can't answer your prayers, guide you through tough decisions, or protect you and yours from random disaster any more than it protects anyone else. 
Oh no. That's not true. God has answered a lot of my prayers and quite visibly. You can expect the same. But it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God. It's as hard as science.
Quote
   

Could you accept a god that would reveal himself only to the sincere seeker, one who expects you to take a leap of faith before revealing himself to you?

No.  Why?  Because there would be no way for me to tell, even in principle, that I'm believing in the right god.  The "sincere seeker" thing is just an invitation to engage confirmation bias. 
So, completely impossible then?


Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #276 on: August 17, 2011, 12:04:21 AM »

Avatar of Belief touched on the very real problem with this approach - that there are, quite simply, far too many gods for it to be possible.


Don't sweat that. Pray to God without a name. There's a lot of truth out there. Not all of it in my faith. The point is to seek out God as He is.



Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #277 on: August 17, 2011, 12:08:41 AM »

If god were real, we wouldn't be having this conversation.  Everyone would know it.  It would be as obvious as gravity.


Hi Jeff,
  Why do you think so?

seriously bro?   

have YOU even read the scriptures?

let's look at the god of the bible.    he sent floods that wiped out all life on earth.  he sent plagues of locusts and angels of death that killed all the first born in egypt.    he raised TONS of people from the dead.    he brought down the walls of jericho.     moses had to wear a veil because he had spoken with god and his face was now glow in the dark.   

and now lets look at the OT.  jesus performed tons of miracles.    raised some people from the dead, rose himself from the dead, and healed a bunch of people.   he clearly stated that his followers would also be able to perform similar miracles.

at no point in the scriptures did god stay "behind the scenes".    he was an in your face deity that made his presence KNOWN.   nowhere in the scriptures did it say miracles would stop.   and indeed, for centuries following the advent of christianity, many saints performed similar miracles.   and yet they stopped all of a sudden.


Thanks for joining, fishjie. So that's maybe a thousand mega-miracles in 6000 years of history. The Bible is a record of the exceptional.

Miracles have not ceased, but they were never a daily occurance.


Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #278 on: August 17, 2011, 12:27:40 AM »
GO BACK IN THE 6th CENTURY CAVE YOU CRAWLED OUT OF
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #279 on: August 17, 2011, 01:23:15 AM »
Are you REALLY trying to say that those people in whom god works still go through life with the same amount of crud as do the unbelievers?  Sounds like a pretty useless god to me....if the omnimax creator of the world whose Will is Supreme and who acts regularly in your life and the lives of all believers is so indistinguishable from the results of those who get diddly-squat divine guidance and assistance.  What you are saying is there is no benefit from belief, is that correct?

No. I just think things get awfully muddled as in all non-controlled experiments. For example, Christians tend to be less educated than atheists (kudos to you). This can skew results. Many people come to God after experiencing some hardship, which also skews things. The religious have more children thus spreading resources a little thinner (and socio-economic class is related to so many of the things you'd want to measure).

There are false effects that can bias results in the other direction. For example, Mormons, with a lay clergy, get additional opportunities to speak and lead. We send our kids on missions where they often learn a second language and a little about the world. We fast, which provides health benefits. Even independent of God, prayer looks a lot like meditation, which has positive effects. Belonging to a community is healthy, etc.

In my view, the really remarkable result would be if all of these factors exactly cancelled one another to show no statistical difference between believers and non-believers. That would be something worth publishing. But, our tools just aren't that good. For heaven's sake, how could you expect to draw some conclusions about the inner, potentially meta-physical workings of the human mind when we can't even decide on a food guide pyramid!?

One other point. It would be a mistake to think that religious principles are primarily for helping us live carefree, easy lives here and now. "Take up thy cross," said Jesus. "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," etc. Religious principles are primarily revelations about how to live more consistent with who you are spiritually--teaching men to "come to themselves." Sometimes that means taking one for the team in the here-and-now.

Offline kcrady

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #280 on: August 17, 2011, 03:38:42 AM »
Oh no. That's not true. God has answered a lot of my prayers and quite visibly. You can expect the same. But it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God. It's as hard as science.

So if your god answers your prayers more often than, say, a jug of milk can (i.e., chance), and he would do the same for me (or presumably anyone and everyone else who believed in him the right way), then the results should be, as you say, "quite visible," statistically.  This conflicts with your initial claim that the existence of your god cannot be "shown to another," i.e., demonstrated through the statistical effects of his activity on behalf of his True Followers.

Could you accept a god that would reveal himself only to the sincere seeker, one who expects you to take a leap of faith before revealing himself to you?

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No.  Why?  Because there would be no way for me to tell, even in principle, that I'm believing in the right god.  The "sincere seeker" thing is just an invitation to engage confirmation bias. 

So, completely impossible then?

Isn't that what you've been telling us?  If it's not completely impossible, then your proposed methodology of "leap of faith + confirmation bias" would not be necessary.  We would be able to sort out which god/s (if any) is/are the real one(s) by observing the effects of their existence, which would make reality differ from the anticipated consequences of a naturalistic model with no supernatural activity.

If it is completely impossible, and you can offer no observable anticipated consequences of your god's existence that differ from the anticipated consequences of the naturalistic model, then you're back to living in the same godless Universe we do, and we have no reason not to trim your god away with Occam's Razor.

So which is it?

No. I just think things get awfully muddled as in all non-controlled experiments. For example, Christians tend to be less educated than atheists (kudos to you). This can skew results. Many people come to God after experiencing some hardship, which also skews things. The religious have more children thus spreading resources a little thinner (and socio-economic class is related to so many of the things you'd want to measure).

There are false effects that can bias results in the other direction. For example, Mormons, with a lay clergy, get additional opportunities to speak and lead. We send our kids on missions where they often learn a second language and a little about the world. We fast, which provides health benefits. Even independent of God, prayer looks a lot like meditation, which has positive effects. Belonging to a community is healthy, etc.

Then you set up your study to account for such variables, the same way it's done when testing to see if taking aspirin reduces heart attacks.  Your god is a more powerful phenomenon than aspirin, isn't he?  The main thing here is that you're offering an explanation of why things look exactly the way they would if your god does not exist.  There is no reason to assume at the outset that a Universe governed and manipulated by Invisible Magic Persons of whatever sort (gods, goddesses, angels, demons, djinn, sprites, whatever) would behave the same as an atheistic or deistic Universe governed solely by natural regularities. 

Imagine a person who wakes up from a coma suffering total amnesia.  This person doesn't know anything about Universe or how it works.  This person is given a Bible and/or a Book of Mormon and told that Universe works like what may be seen in the pages of the Book.  Apart from knowledge that Universe in fact works differently, this person would expect to find all sorts of miracles and magic.  Even if Yahweh decides to play hide and seek with people, that wouldn't stop Egyptian sorcerers from turning their staffs into serpents or water into blood.  It wouldn't stop a statue of Ganesh from sipping milk from spoons, or the Blessed Virgin Mary from weeping tears of blood, or the Fair Folk from crossing over through the local barrow and abducting people to their mystic kingdom.  People always and everywhere have believed in all sorts of supernatural manifestations--until they discovered tools that made it possible to discover, objectively, how reality actually works.

Then, all of a sudden, every IMP in Universe developed an urge to play hide and seek.  Suspicious, no?

For heaven's sake, how could you expect to draw some conclusions about the inner, potentially meta-physical workings of the human mind when we can't even decide on a food guide pyramid!?

Because, oh, I dunno, wouldn't an omnipotent god, or a sorta-nearly-omnipotent Devil, or whole pantheons of mighty gods and goddesses be a bit more powerful than the distinction between one portion of vegetables a week and two portions of vegetables a week?  You're anticipating that your god's activity (and that of all of his minions and enemies put together) is so weak that it would vanish into statistical noise and error bars.  Which is to say, you're anticipating, before any such study can be designed or attempted, that the results would validate atheistic naturalism.  You live in the same godless Universe we do, and you know it.

One other point. It would be a mistake to think that religious principles are primarily for helping us live carefree, easy lives here and now. "Take up thy cross," said Jesus. "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," etc. Religious principles are primarily revelations about how to live more consistent with who you are spiritually--teaching men to "come to themselves." Sometimes that means taking one for the team in the here-and-now.

And once again, we have another "explanation" of why your god's existence just happens to be exactly equivalent to your god's non-existence.  The straw man argument about religious principles being primarily for helping people live carefree lives is irrelevant.  The effects of IMP existence would be just as apparent if the True Believers tended to have more difficult, harrowing lives than everyone else.  If Mormons could be shown to have higher rates of random tragedy (car accidents not their fault, fires, animal attacks, disease, whatever) due to Satanic attack or "testing" from god, were more likely to be driven to shuddering insanity by meeping tentacled Things from the Abyss when they foolishly let their Spiritual Warfare Prayer Shieldstm down in a moment of carelessness, or in any other way were genuinely more harrowed by supernaturally-caused calamity than non-Mormons, this would show.

Instead, you appear to be claiming that all of this supernatural activity (your god's actions, those of his holy angels, and whatever Satan, his demons, and any other IMPs you believe in are doing independently and/or in opposition to your god) just happens to exactly balance out in a way that is perfectly indistinguishable from no supernatural activity at all!  How...convenient!  Seriously, would you give any credence at all to someone who believed the Wizarding World of the Harry Potter stories exists, if they gave the excuse that, "Of course there's no evidence for magic or wizards!  The wizards use more magic to hide magic and dragons and trolls and Dementors and all the rest from us Muggles!  They cooperate to do this perfectly, even when they're massacring each other in all-out wars!  It says so right there in the Books!"
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #281 on: August 17, 2011, 03:49:36 AM »
Avatar of Belief touched on the very real problem with this approach - that there are, quite simply, far too many gods for it to be possible.

Don't sweat that. Pray to God without a name. There's a lot of truth out there. Not all of it in my faith. The point is to seek out God as He is.

Except - my word! - what a lot of Judaeo-Christian assumptions you pack into that!

"Pray....." whoops!  Straight away, that word, with the implications of supplication and humility.  Why would I assume that a god would require "Praying", as opposed to "drinking", or "building cupboards"?  The assumption that whatever god is out there requires us to initiate contact.  Take an honest look at what you are saying, and consider how much of it is tied down to the specifically Christian god.

You also assume that whatever god there may be will be accomodating to a bland generic prayer.  Whoops again!  VERY few gods have ever been described as being happy to respond in that way.  Pray to Yahweh WITHOUT accepting JEsus as saviour?  Pray to Zeus without first sacrificing a ram?  Pray to Slaanesh without first engaging in licensious behaviour?  Sorry FG, but 99% of all alleged gods will not only ignore such a generic prayer, but it will in fact negatively influence them against me.

Added to which, in your reply to Kcrady you said that "...it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God".  How MUCH practice?  How LONG to continue along one particular fruitless path before giving up and trying the next? 

Basically, you have ignored the whole thrust of my question - "for what reason whould I take YOUR word on what-to-do over the next guy's" - and effetively just said "it worked for me, so you should do it to".  EXACTLY what every other believer says.  And as kcrady has pointed out, you are constantly retreating from giving any actual evidence that your way will work for anyone else. 

Sorry FG, but you have given me precisely no reason to even consider taking your advice to "pray to god without a name".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline velkyn

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #282 on: August 17, 2011, 08:01:29 AM »
Oh no. That's not true. God has answered a lot of my prayers and quite visibly. You can expect the same. But it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God. It's as hard as science.
   

No, it isn't.  As I have demosntrated, your claims of this happening to anyone who follows your magic spell fail and fail repeatedly. All your above claim serves to do is to use the old "you aren't doing it "right"" excuse that all Christians revert to when it becomes more than obvious that their claims are false.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #283 on: August 17, 2011, 12:35:35 PM »
fiz, ya punk, you owe me an explanation.  People here might get the idea you are some kind of wuss or something, not responding.
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Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #284 on: August 22, 2011, 01:29:23 PM »
Oh no. That's not true. God has answered a lot of my prayers and quite visibly. You can expect the same. But it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God. It's as hard as science.
   

No, it isn't.  As I have demosntrated, your claims of this happening to anyone who follows your magic spell fail and fail repeatedly. All your above claim serves to do is to use the old "you aren't doing it "right"" excuse that all Christians revert to when it becomes more than obvious that their claims are false.

I have never and will never say, "You aren't doing it right." or anything similar. Please don't make me responsible for the statements of all theists and I promise not to hold you to account for everything an atheist ever said.

Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #285 on: August 22, 2011, 01:37:31 PM »
Isn't one epistemology (the scientific method) good enough? That's not something I have the answer to. I have noticed that the truth revealed by the Holy Ghost comes with power to follow it. Maybe that's it. Our actions and our ability to follow what we know to be true is more important than the knowledge itself.

So the answer is "I dunno".  That is not encouraging.  That gives a non-believer like myself no confidence, no inkling to follow your advice.
I gave you one speculative answer. You're more likely to follow knowledge you had to work for a little. I'm sorry I don't have more to say here. As with most things worth thinking about, exploration generates as many new questions as answers.
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And how can "following what we know to be true" be more important than knowing? 


But of course actions are more important than knowledge. Someone with a degree in nutrition who eats Chocodiles for breakfast is a lot worse off than someone who only knows one fact: "Leafy vegatables are good for you," but follows it.

So, if knowledge gained through the Holy Spirit is more often followed than knowledge gained through signs, that might be a good reason for God to require faith. Does that make sense?

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Nope.  Please do not take it personally, but I have a policy on that.  It is similar to my policy on videos - I won't watch them.  You can write it in your own words here and I will read it.  But I'm not trapsing around the intertubes to carry on a conversation here. 


Well, it's there if you get interested.

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As I see it, there is one kind of truth - just the truth.  It describes how reality is.  If reality has a god in it, then it is just the truth. 

I fully agree. I'm asking you to open your mind to some additional tools for finding out about the world. Just because you have 20 volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica doesn't mean there's nothing good on wikipedia.

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You clearly understand that "religious truth" is not founded on actual evidence, otherwise you would not have to give me so many Idunnos.  You have to try to at least make your religious beliefs look logical and reasonable, so you carve out an exception.  It does not and cannot have the same standards for evidence.  Woo oho!  Get out of jail free!

Again, I find that unpersuasive.  I also find it intellectually dishonest.

My point is, you are up shit creek with you alternate epistemology.  You and the Laffertys[1] have no tie breakers when you disagree.  You prayed and sort of heard a voice.  They prayed and sort of heard a voice.  They came to crushingly different conclusions than you using the same methodology as you.  You have no basis to dismiss their claim because you have put forth an "epistemology" that is an unverifiable pile of ass.

 1. and every other crank who thinks he is conversant with a god

As with the pursuit of any knowledge by any means, folks are allowed to disagree. Some of us think Joseph Smith saw God, others don't. Disagreement over religion doesn't imply the Holy Spirit is unreliable any more than disagreement among biologists implies that biology is invalid.

Let me be clear. The Holy Ghost speaks truth which can be verified. He will predict events, help you make generalization which you later recognize to be true and lead you places that directly answer your prayers. Let's talk about a concrete example. One evening before bed, I had the thought, "I wonder how Aaron is. I should call him." (Aaron is a friend of mine.) At the same time, I felt the feelings I've come to recognize as the Holy Ghost. In this case, I didn't call him and learned the next day that he had lost his job.

Now, what would you think if that happened to you? You might think nothing. You might think, "Hm. What a coincidence." You certainly wouldn't immediately think, "There *is* a God. Hallelujah!" You'd come up with a thousand reasons why that was just your own thought and you might be right. "You probably sensed some discontent the last time you talked to Aaron," etc. But, you might remember that feeling. Especially if you were seeking to know whether God exists. After several such events, you might start to notice the pattern. Your confidence in recognizing that "voice" would grow. It would probably take dozens of such events to come to the conclusion that someone is guiding your life through those feelings.

But, once you learn to recognize the Holy Spirit, you can absolutely count on the things he tells you. The first steps are humility, sincerity and curiosity. Could there be something greater than you? If there were, would you follow him? Are you ready to put forth some effort to find out whether god exists?

Offline velkyn

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #286 on: August 22, 2011, 01:40:56 PM »
I have never and will never say, "You aren't doing it right." or anything similar. Please don't make me responsible for the statements of all theists and I promise not to hold you to account for everything an atheist ever said.
I’m not holding you responsible for what other theists have said.  I am holding you responsible for what *you* have said.  You have said we’ve done things wrong.  Shall I show you?  Oh why not:

You have given us these directions on how to “discover truth”
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I hope you'll consider the possibility that there exists another method for discovering truth and I even hope you'll consider what Christians recommend:
1. Resolve to follow God if you discover He exists
2. Read the scriptures
3. Practice following the precepts there
4. Pray to know whether God exists
If you do so, you'll feel God start to guide your life and, increasingly, you'll be sure He exists.
I said I did this and got nothing.  Then of course, you have to say the following:
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Could you accept a god that would reveal himself only to the sincere seeker, one who expects you to take a leap of faith before revealing himself to you?
 

Then you come up with more excuses
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Oh no. That's not true. God has answered a lot of my prayers and quite visibly. You can expect the same. But it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God. It's as hard as science.
  This was in response to people pointing out that your methods still don’t work.

So we see that you say this will work.  It doesn’t. Then you qualify it by claiming that one must be “sincere” or that it takes a mysterious amount of “time” so you can get around the problem of your god not answering to the method you insist works.  Right here, you are claiming that we aren’t doing it right since we aren’t “sincere” enough or we haven’t waited long enough.   

So are we doing it “right”, Fiz or does your god not exist?  Or do you want to come up with more reasons no one is doing it right but your god really truly honestly is there? &)
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Offline fizixgeek

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #287 on: August 22, 2011, 01:56:07 PM »

You also assume that whatever god there may be will be accomodating to a bland generic prayer.  Whoops again!  VERY few gods have ever been described as being happy to respond in that way.  Pray to Yahweh WITHOUT accepting JEsus as saviour?  Pray to Zeus without first sacrificing a ram?  Pray to Slaanesh without first engaging in licensious behaviour?  Sorry FG, but 99% of all alleged gods will not only ignore such a generic prayer, but it will in fact negatively influence them against me.


Well, then you heard it here first. Whatever prayer you're sincere about is the prayer God will answer. The outward manifestations of prayer are worlds less important than the inward sincerity. Let me be clear. You should pray to god without first accepting Jesus as Savior. Faith is the result of sincere prayer, not a prerequisite.

Quote

Added to which, in your reply to Kcrady you said that "...it doesn't happen that way suddenly. It takes some practice to hear the voice of God".  How MUCH practice?  How LONG to continue along one particular fruitless path before giving up and trying the next? 


I said in an earlier post that 3 sincere weeks is plenty.

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Basically, you have ignored the whole thrust of my question - "for what reason whould I take YOUR word on what-to-do over the next guy's" - and effetively just said "it worked for me, so you should do it to".


I don't mean this to frustrate you, but it might. You really don't have to take my word for it. I just want the information available for anyone here who does want to know whether there is a god. There are, unfortunately, a lot of muddle-headed theists out there confusing the issue by adding additional requirements and claiming to have proof of the existence of God.

Offline Avatar Of Belial

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #288 on: August 22, 2011, 02:16:50 PM »
Disagreement over religion doesn't imply the Holy Spirit is unreliable any more than disagreement among biologists implies that biology is invalid.

There is, however, a noticeable difference between the two, which in the end, does not bode well for religion.

Religion has itself a base, like Judaism (which probably has its own predecessor, but I'm just using it as an easy example), and as time goes on, we see it splinter into multiple groups, like Christianity and Islam. Then these groups splinter, and then these groups splinter.... and the original group(s), while it(they) changes its stance over time, still sticks around. Worse, all of these groups claim to have everything right and range from minor squabbles to completely incompatible to outright hostile towards the other interpretations.

Every disagreement over the "Perfect Truths" call into question those so-called truths, because you can't both be right, and yet these groups rarely (if ever) recombine/resolve a difference. And this is just taking into account only the groups that originate from the same source.

Science (including Biology) has a different approach. While disagreements pop up regularly, the group works together to resolve the issue and almost always attempts to come back together by finding the correct answer. Two biologists who disagree each know that they could be wrong, they never claim "Perfect Truth" (and certainly not "Ultimate Truth"). The central body of knowledge remains consistently together with a few fringe ideas popping out here and there that;
A. Die off
B. Get reabsorbed back into the main group as more evidence shows up to clarify the situation, or
C. Goes too far away from standards to even be called "Science" anymore (poorly done trials and dogmatic adherence to the original idea gave us a small splinter group that quickly stopped being science, and started being the Anti-Vax movement with the help of the Wakefield studies, for example. You will find very few actual scientists in relevant fields who hold this position).

So, in summary, Science Converges, while Religion Diverges, and this does little to help Religion's case.
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: I will not prove God exists
« Reply #289 on: August 22, 2011, 02:21:20 PM »

You also assume that whatever god there may be will be accomodating to a bland generic prayer.  Whoops again!  VERY few gods have ever been described as being happy to respond in that way.  Pray to Yahweh WITHOUT accepting JEsus as saviour?  Pray to Zeus without first sacrificing a ram?  Pray to Slaanesh without first engaging in licensious behaviour?  Sorry FG, but 99% of all alleged gods will not only ignore such a generic prayer, but it will in fact negatively influence them against me.


Well, then you heard it here first. Whatever prayer you're sincere about is the prayer God will answer. The outward manifestations of prayer are worlds less important than the inward sincerity. Let me be clear. You should pray to god without first accepting Jesus as Savior. Faith is the result of sincere prayer, not a prerequisite.



How do we define "sincereity?" How is it measurable?

Are you saying the prayers of soldiers dying on the battlefeild, some of which died, some of which lived,;to live to another day weren't all sincere? Every time an airliner goes down(which takes several minutes), or a ships sinks(whixh also takes several minutes), you are therefore stating there wasn't even one single sincere prayer for the tradgedy not to come to its fatal conclusion.

Furthermore you don't think a single amputee in the past 2 1/2 centuries has never "sincerely" prayed to be whole again.

You don't think my prayer, after facing the loss of  a loved one, for your God just to flip over a penny in front of my eyes, just so I'd know he was there and death wasn't it, wasn't sincere? It was.

Your "sincereity" clause does not match with what is observable or all of my life's experience..

« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 02:35:11 PM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.