Author Topic: In order to believe in God.  (Read 23720 times)

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Offline kcrady

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #522 on: December 13, 2011, 08:56:40 PM »
I see evidence all around me.   It all depends on where you look.   If one limits their idea of reality only to the physical, then of course they will never find any evidence of God.  The idea of God is something which transcends anything physical, or anything which man knows, or thinks he knows.

The bolded part above is an interesting assertion.  You are anticipating, before any inquiry can even be undertaken, that no physical evidence for "God" or of "God's" interaction with physical reality will ever be found.  When it comes to anticipating how reality will behave, you are as much of a naturalistic atheist as anyone here.  So far as I can tell, your theology is crafted precisely so that it can avoid "paying freight" in anticipated experiences.  Not only are there no testable claims relating to physical reality (e.g. evidence for "intelligent design," encoding of a divine message in the digits of pi, miracles or magic, an underlying Sacred Geometric Order arising from the interaction of vibratory energies, whatever), there are no testable claims relating to mystical or abstract levels of reality either (no expectation that mystic experiencers from different cultures and times will agree with one another despite having no communication, providing support for the idea that they're all experiencing the same Thing).

Another thing, any distinctions between "the physical" and any sort of "non-physical" levels of reality have become rather blurry after the last hundred years or so of modern physics.  A neutrino can race through the entire planet Earth at light speed (or perhaps...faster) as if there's no big, heavy physical object in its way.  It's more ghostly than a ghost.[1]  Are neutrinos "physical?"  Dark matter interacts with gravity, but apparently nothing else (it's invisible, physically intangible, etc.).  Is it "physical?"  Virtual particles appear and disappear at random on a scale of exponentially tiny fractions of a second, but their presence produces measurable results, like the Casimir Effect.  Are they "physical?"

As "weird"[2] and evanescent as reality on the quantum level seems, the models and equations can all be tested experimentally to extreme levels of precision, and have been.  And they pass with flying colors.  To put it another way, there really doesn't seem to be a lot of room for anything as big and important as any entity worthy of being called a capital-G "God" to hide without being detectible in some way or another.

I'm very much in favor of rigorous, systematic, scientific investigation of mystical experience.  Since such experiences can be generated at will using various substances (ayahuasca, LSD, DMT, etc.) and devices (Lilly tanks, Persinger helmets), there is no reason a genuine scientific investigation could not be undertaken.[3]  Even if we don't discover proof of "non-physical beings" and the like, I think we would be very likely to discover some interesting things about how human consciousness works.
 1. Ghosts may be able to walk through walls, but for some reason floors and stairs hold them up. :)
 2. Quantum mechanical reality isn't actually weird in itself.  It's the norm.  The perceived "weirdness" is a statement about our own minds, the limits and biases of our perception.  Universe isn't "weird," we are. :)
 3. Well, except for draconian drug laws that exist because widespread mystical experience on demand scared Nixon's Christian voter base, but even that obstacle is starting to give way a little.  See the work of Rick Strassman.
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Offline fishjie

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #523 on: December 13, 2011, 08:59:21 PM »
God already manifested himself in physical ways.   talking to people.   setting stuff on fire.   drowning the world.   plagues of locusts.   raising people from the dead.   so on and so forth.   so stating that if you limit to the purely physical will fail is admitting that all the stories in the bible are made up.

cool good job bro

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #524 on: December 13, 2011, 09:11:37 PM »
Yeah, that's my understanding.    God, shows himself, or itself, if that's how one wants to approach it, in various ways.   So some people may see it as an Old man in a beard, others Brahman, such as the Hindu, or whatever.   It is simply the acknowledgement, of that which is beyond the physical, and of course time is a physical description, so also something which is eternal. 

Welcome Gill

What is your explanation for those of us who have found or seen none of those apparitions, or had none of those feelings. What sort of god, in any form, would want a bunch of his children running around not knowing he was their holy father (or whatever).

If the common thread in all religions is an actual god, I of course don't see it. To me, there are a multitude of religions because historically there were a multitude of explanations about the mystery of life, made necessary by the lack of knowledge in various areas. Now that we have science, and it is explaining more and more every day, it seems that religion should go away.

Does that mean that there is a god who is holding on by his fingernails as we chip away at the mystery of it all, or is it the people who are holding on by their fingernails as the illusion of god is chipped away?

And I guess I could run around in my head thinking about all sorts of non-physical things and coming up with plausible story lines that would give me an assortment of explanations regarding the unknowable and mysterious, but I'm no so curious as to make stuff up for my own benefit.

The non-physical doesn't exist for me. Coincidence? I don't think so.
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Offline Gill

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #525 on: December 13, 2011, 09:32:52 PM »
I see evidence all around me.   It all depends on where you look.   If one limits their idea of reality only to the physical, then of course they will never find any evidence of God.  The idea of God is something which transcends anything physical, or anything which man knows, or thinks he knows.

The bolded part above is an interesting assertion.  You are anticipating, before any inquiry can even be undertaken, that no physical evidence for "God" or of "God's" interaction with physical reality will ever be found....

Some very good points you make.  I will just say that I do not think absolutely no physical evidence can be found, but to find a purely physical description, yes that would not be possible.

Offline Gill

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #526 on: December 13, 2011, 09:42:41 PM »
Yeah, that's my understanding.    God, shows himself, or itself, if that's how one wants to approach it, in various ways.   So some people may see it as an Old man in a beard, others Brahman, such as the Hindu, or whatever.   It is simply the acknowledgement, of that which is beyond the physical, and of course time is a physical description, so also something which is eternal. 

Welcome Gill

What is your explanation for those of us who have found or seen none of those apparitions, or had none of those feelings. What sort of god, in any form, would want a bunch of his children running around not knowing he was their holy father (or whatever).

If the common thread in all religions is an actual god, I of course don't see it. To me, there are a multitude of religions because historically there were a multitude of explanations about the mystery of life, made necessary by the lack of knowledge in various areas. Now that we have science, and it is explaining more and more every day, it seems that religion should go away. ..


Hello, thanks for your welcome. 

My explanation   to your first question is this.   First, I don't consider myself special to perceive God.  Some on here may* think I'm just crazy, hehe.   That's fine.  My point is that I believe each one, being a unique and spiritual being, can find what they perceive as God in their own way.  Usually, that perception turns out to have similarities, so this is not just a way to explore imagination, but more of a sense of a real experience or connection. 

For many years I didn't really believe in much at all, so I wasn't raised this way,  it's simply what came to be, and as I said, I'm not saying I'm special, so I don't think my experience is limited to those who are.

And lastly you say that science is explaining more and more and religion should go away.  Well, I studied science in college, and I don't believe it can ever offer a spiritual truth because it is inherently self-limiting.   It is limiting to physical and objective descriptions.   Why limit one's understanding to this realm?  We all can admit right now that we have more to experience than this, and what is this more we experience, and this is where religion comes in.  And yes, I will agree that many old beliefs can be out-dated and even sound silly now, but a total abandonment sounds just about as silly to me....
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 09:46:03 PM by Gill »

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #527 on: December 13, 2011, 10:25:50 PM »

Hello, thanks for your welcome. 

My explanation   to your first question is this.   First, I don't consider myself special to perceive God.  Some on here may* think I'm just crazy, hehe.   That's fine.  My point is that I believe each one, being a unique and spiritual being, can find what they perceive as God in their own way.  Usually, that perception turns out to have similarities, so this is not just a way to explore imagination, but more of a sense of a real experience or connection. 

For many years I didn't really believe in much at all, so I wasn't raised this way,  it's simply what came to be, and as I said, I'm not saying I'm special, so I don't think my experience is limited to those who are.

And lastly you say that science is explaining more and more and religion should go away.  Well, I studied science in college, and I don't believe it can ever offer a spiritual truth because it is inherently self-limiting.   It is limiting to physical and objective descriptions.   Why limit one's understanding to this realm?  We all can admit right now that we have more to experience than this, and what is this more we experience, and this is where religion comes in.  And yes, I will agree that many old beliefs can be out-dated and even sound silly now, but a total abandonment sounds just about as silly to me....

You're welcome for your welcome ;D

Obviously we don't agree in these two areas. I haven't found god in my own way because I have no reason to think there is one. If there is one out there, however or whoever or whatever it may be, it hasn't done anything to attract my attention. If there isn't, that explains everything.

And needless to say, I'm not to big on the spiritual. I'm fine with feeling a connection to nature or whatever, because presumably I actually have one. At least biologically. But whether it is prayer or the pyramids/stonehenge or crystals or drum circles or holy hot tubs, I have no interest. My spiritual friends seem to be dying off faster than my religious friends, and my religious friends are dying off faster than me. And they are none to happy about it. So I can't see any advantage in it.

Call me silly, but I sort of have to have a reason before I'm going to let some baseless thought into my head. Whether it is hindu gods with lots of arms or extraterrestrials kidnapping my neighbors or the guy I know who heard from a friends who knows somebody that jet contrails are full of brain scanning nano-particles, I'm going to diss such claims until something a bit more convincing than my hopes confirms their story.

I've been doing this atheist thing a long time and have never had a sense that I'm missing anything or felt that there were gaps in my reality that need to be filled by the spiritual or gods. If either is real, they are doing a piss poor job of providing me with hints.

Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline kcrady

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #528 on: December 13, 2011, 10:30:25 PM »
Some very good points you make.  I will just say that I do not think absolutely no physical evidence can be found,

OK, what sort of physical evidence do you think we can anticipate finding that would validate your God-hypothesis and falsify a purely naturalistic (no-God) model of reality?  This is the beauty and wonder of the scientific method.  It means we don't actually have to argue and debate about this and end up getting nowhere.  Instead, what we can do, is specify in advance what our respective models of reality anticipate that we would find, or not find.  We can work out a mutually-agreed upon stipulation of the ways reality would be different if your model, or ours was accurate, with emphasis on what each model could not explain if it were found (or not found), that the other model could.  Once we can each specify what would show our model to be bunk and provide support for the other model, we can go have a look, and see what verdict reality has for us.

Take, for example, the theory of biological evolution.  There are all kinds of things the ToE could not explain, if they were found, things that would falsify the theory.  Fossil bunnies in the Cambrian.  Unique and unrelated genetic codes for each distinct species or "kind" (whatever term is preferred).  A dinosaur fossil with a saddle and a human rider.  Find a genuine example of any one of these things, and the theory of evolution is blown to tiny pieces.  Full stop.  The End. 

There are things we should expect to find if the ToE is accurate, the absence of which would falsify the theory.  A general order to the fossil record, with the simplest life forms appearing first, followed gradually by more complex and diverse life forms.  A discernible pattern of homology between different species indicating descent from common ancestors.  A corresponding pattern of genetic inheritance, e.g., humans will have squid genes, but many more chimpanzee genes, and humans and chimpanzees will have most or all of the same squid genes in common.[1] 

And that's what makes the ToE so awesome: it pays its freight in anticipated experiences, super-abundantly, and "dares" to be highly vulnerable to falsification.  Most religious or "spiritual" viewpoints are crafted in an opposite manner.  They systematically avoid paying freight in anticipated experiences, are designed to "explain" any possible experience,[2] and offer no possible avenue for falsification.


but to find a purely physical description, yes that would not be possible.

How do you know this?  What, specifically is it about God that would make a physical description of It impossible?  Let's say that somehow we discovered God.  If God is orderly and logically coherent (i.e., God isn't a circular square that hatches invisible purple flying elephants or some such), how do you know It could not be accurately described by some amazingly beautiful and sublimely elegant mathematical equation?

Edit: Grammar and capitalization.
 1. Genes mutate, get scrambled, or dropped, so the correspondence wouldn't necessarily be exact.  Nonetheless, if the ToE is true, we should expect the sets of squid genes found in humans and chimps to be consistent with both species inheriting them from a common ancestor.
 2. If a plane crashes and one person survives: It's a miracle!  Halleluiah!  All those other poor bastards who died: God "took them home."  God has a plan.  God works in mysterious ways.  Halleluiah!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 10:33:38 PM by kcrady »
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Offline Gill

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #529 on: December 13, 2011, 10:45:38 PM »
Some very good points you make.  I will just say that I do not think absolutely no physical evidence can be found,

OK, what sort of physical evidence do you think we can anticipate finding that would validate your God-hypothesis and falsify a purely naturalistic (no-God) model of reality?  This is the beauty and wonder of the scientific method.  It means we don't actually have to argue and debate about this and end up getting nowhere.  Instead, what we can do, is specify in advance what our respective models of reality anticipate that we would find, or not find.  We can work out a mutually-agreed upon stipulation of the ways reality would be different if your model, or ours was accurate, with emphasis on what each model could not explain if it were found (or not found), that the other model could.  Once we can each specify what would show our model to be bunk and provide support for the other model, we can go have a look, and see what verdict reality has for us.

Take, for example, the theory of biological evolution.  There are all kinds of things the ToE could not explain, if they were found, things that would falsify the theory.  Fossil bunnies in the Cambrian.  Unique and unrelated genetic codes for each distinct species or "kind" (whatever term is preferred).  A dinosaur fossil with a saddle and a human rider.  Find a genuine example of any one of these things, and the theory of evolution is blown to tiny pieces.  Full stop.  The End. 

There are things we should expect to find if the ToE is accurate, the absence of which would falsify the theory.  A general order to the fossil record, with the simplest life forms appearing first, followed gradually by more complex and diverse life forms.  A discernible pattern of homology between different species indicating descent from common ancestors.  A corresponding pattern of genetic inheritance, e.g., humans will have squid genes, but many more chimpanzee genes, and humans and chimpanzees will have most or all of the same squid genes in common.[1] 

And that's what makes the ToE so awesome: it pays its freight in anticipated experiences, super-abundantly, and "dares" to be highly vulnerable to falsification.  Most religious or "spiritual" viewpoints are crafted in an opposite manner.  They systematically avoid paying freight in anticipated experiences, are designed to "explain" any possible experience,[2] and offer no possible avenue for falsification.


but to find a purely physical description, yes that would not be possible.

How do you know this?  What, specifically is it about God that would make a physical description of It impossible?  Let's say that somehow we discovered God.  If God is orderly and logically coherent (i.e., God isn't a circular square that hatches invisible purple flying elephants or some such), how do you know It could not be accurately described by some amazingly beautiful and sublimely elegant mathematical equation?

Edit: Grammar and capitalization.
 1. Genes mutate, get scrambled, or dropped, so the correspondence wouldn't necessarily be exact.  Nonetheless, if the ToE is true, we should expect the sets of squid genes found in humans and chimps to be consistent with both species inheriting them from a common ancestor.
 2. If a plane crashes and one person survives: It's a miracle!  Halleluiah!  All those other poor bastards who died: God "took them home."  God has a plan.  God works in mysterious ways.  Halleluiah!

Because God is infinite, and infinities don't work in math equations.

And as far as ToE, since it is scientific, inherently it will be self-limiting for knowledge, although I admit is a valuable tool. 

One could make the claim that man's ancestors were primates, and I think this is a very scientific statement, and objectively true.  But, the mechanism proposed, natural selection, is not something which can be proven, in objective terms.

For instance, the basic idea that gene's determine one's survival, well then, how could anyone take any self responsibility for their action?  I could just say, my genes did it.  This mechanism does not address free-will and consciousness.

Anyways, you make some good points, I would like to expand further, but can't now.  Like they say though, this site can be addictive, hehe, hopefully in a good way...

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #530 on: December 13, 2011, 10:48:56 PM »
As per kcrady, science makes predictions and if those predictions can be confirmed, then there is a possibility that they are right. Or at least right enough to be informative.

The only thing the religious seem to be able to predict is that their god is undetectable. So far, so good, but it doesn't prove much.
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Offline JeffPT

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #531 on: December 13, 2011, 11:09:03 PM »
So then, there are levels of knowledge that go beyond what can simply be described logically, or objectively.....the experience itself, and all that goes with it contains knowledge on many levels, some beyond what we can describe.  And this I would say, that which is contained in my experiences,including emotions, are part of what leads me to a greater confidence in my belief, and I don't see why such avenues of knowledge are any less valid than simply objective alone.

I can give you several reasons why emotions are less valid than objective avenues alone. 

1.  Emotions are poor truth detectors.  I 'felt' it in my bones that the Patriots would win the Superbowl against the Giants.  In game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, I 'knew' the Red Sox had no chance to come back and beat the Yankees 4 straight.  This type of feeling is just as often wrong as it is right.  I'm sure you can point to dozens of instances in your own life where this is true. 

2.  Lots of people feel different things about their gods.  And most often, they are incompatible feelings (E.G. some people just 'know' God hates homosexuality). 

3.  Emotions are products of chemical reactions in the brain, and are capable of being elicited by simple chemical changes or electrochemical manipulation. 

Confidence in your belief has nothing to do with whether or not it's true.  Lots of people are confident in their beliefs.  In fact, I would venture to guess that most people are quite confident in what they believe.  I am quite confident in what I believe, yet I think the total opposite of you in this case.  If that is true, how do you determine who is right? 

When it comes to what is TRUE or NOT TRUE, confidence should always take a back seat to reason, evidence and logic.  At no point should your emotional attachment to your beliefs trump those 3 things.  If they do, then you aren't looking for truth anymore... you're just looking to verify what you already think.  While I am emotionally attached to the idea that organized religion is terrible for the world,  I am not emotionally attached to my belief that there is no god.  I don't care either way, I just want to know the truth.  Until evidence is provided, there is no reason to think that a god exists.  That's just the simple truth of it. 

Because God is infinite, and infinities don't work in math equations.

Is this just your belief, or can you present verifiable facts that god is 'infinite'? 

For instance, the basic idea that gene's determine one's survival, well then, how could anyone take any self responsibility for their action?  I could just say, my genes did it.  This mechanism does not address free-will and consciousness.

Free will is an illusion.  Your brain is chemicals and electrical signals.  The fact that you can not predict future events, nor can you anticipate the events that effect other people makes it seem as though you have free will, but you don't.  In many ways, you COULD say your genes did it, but the fact is, your genes are not separate from you... they ARE you.  This would represent a MAJOR side track for you now though, so I would just avoid the topic of free will if I were you.  It's messy and you just started here.  Give yourself some time to warm up first.  Do some stretching so you don't pull a hammy.   

Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline jdawg70

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #532 on: December 13, 2011, 11:12:34 PM »
Yeah, that's my understanding.    God, shows himself, or itself, if that's how one wants to approach it, in various ways.   So some people may see it as an Old man in a beard, others Brahman, such as the Hindu, or whatever.   It is simply the acknowledgement, of that which is beyond the physical, and of course time is a physical description, so also something which is eternal. 

Welcome Gill

What is your explanation for those of us who have found or seen none of those apparitions, or had none of those feelings. What sort of god, in any form, would want a bunch of his children running around not knowing he was their holy father (or whatever).

If the common thread in all religions is an actual god, I of course don't see it. To me, there are a multitude of religions because historically there were a multitude of explanations about the mystery of life, made necessary by the lack of knowledge in various areas. Now that we have science, and it is explaining more and more every day, it seems that religion should go away. ..


Hello, thanks for your welcome. 

My explanation   to your first question is this.   First, I don't consider myself special to perceive God.  Some on here may* think I'm just crazy, hehe.   That's fine.  My point is that I believe each one, being a unique and spiritual being, can find what they perceive as God in their own way.  Usually, that perception turns out to have similarities, so this is not just a way to explore imagination, but more of a sense of a real experience or connection. 

For many years I didn't really believe in much at all, so I wasn't raised this way,  it's simply what came to be, and as I said, I'm not saying I'm special, so I don't think my experience is limited to those who are.

And lastly you say that science is explaining more and more and religion should go away.  Well, I studied science in college, and I don't believe it can ever offer a spiritual truth because it is inherently self-limiting.   It is limiting to physical and objective descriptions.   Why limit one's understanding to this realm?  We all can admit right now that we have more to experience than this, and what is this more we experience, and this is where religion comes in.  And yes, I will agree that many old beliefs can be out-dated and even sound silly now, but a total abandonment sounds just about as silly to me....

So far as I can tell, methods for determining 'spiritual truth' are...make something up in your head and see if it 'feels' right?  Basically, going with 'gut feeling'?  Seems like a poor way to discover truth.  How do I distinguish 'spiritual truth' from bulls**t I've made up?

"Well, you know you made it up."

Then how do I distinguish 'spiritual truth' from bulls**t someone else has made up?  How do you decide what out-dated beliefs to throw out and what to keep?  Let's ignore the whole physical/tangible/yada thing here for a moment.  How do I determine if a claim is true or false?
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Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #533 on: December 13, 2011, 11:23:55 PM »


Because God is infinite, and infinities don't work in math equations.

But if God interacts with the world, which many believers think he does, then those interactions will have measurable effects. However there is no evidence to confirm that these interactions ever actually take place.

Quote

And as far as ToE, since it is scientific, inherently it will be self-limiting for knowledge, although I admit is a valuable tool. 


Religion is even more inherently self limited as far as knowledge goes, as demonstrated by the fact that everything we actually know about the real world is because of science, and none of the actual knowledge that we have is due to religion.

Quote
One could make the claim that man's ancestors were primates, and I think this is a very scientific statement, and objectively true.  But, the mechanism proposed, natural selection, is not something which can be proven, in objective terms.

are you entirely certain about that? ever heard of bacteria strains that become resistant to anti-biotics? I'll give you one guess as to how that occurs.

Quote
For instance, the basic idea that gene's determine one's survival, well then, how could anyone take any self responsibility for their action?  I could just say, my genes did it.  This mechanism does not address free-will and consciousness.

Genes don't "determine one's survival". Rather, those individuals who possess the best adaptation to their environment are more likely to survive and procreate, passing on their genes. Therefore, the next generation will have inherited traits that tend to make them more likely to survive. Naturally, a lot of things get in the way of survival, and genetics can't account for all of them. When you say that since you believe that genes determine one's survival so there is no personal responsibility, the premise is flawed, and the conclusion is just silly.

Quote
Anyways, you make some good points, I would like to expand further, but can't now.  Like they say though, this site can be addictive, hehe, hopefully in a good way...

Welcome and hopefully you will enjoy your time here. You will notice that you will likely be challenged on a lot of things here, by people who have thought a LOT about this, so be prepared.
Seriously though... What would happen if the Great Green Arkleseizure didn't fram up the rammastam before the hermite curve achieved maximum nurdfurdle velocity? Now THAT would be something. AmIrite?

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #534 on: December 13, 2011, 11:30:34 PM »

And as far as ToE, since it is scientific, inherently it will be self-limiting for knowledge, although I admit is a valuable tool. 

One could make the claim that man's ancestors were primates, and I think this is a very scientific statement, and objectively true.  But, the mechanism proposed, natural selection, is not something which can be proven, in objective terms.


What an odd thing to say. You accept evolution but think natural selection cannot be proven objectively? Considering the rigor with which evolutionary theory has been tested, refined and confirmed, where do you think natural selection fails to be proven? And what do you propose as the alternative?
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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #535 on: December 14, 2011, 12:44:03 AM »
For others, they are wired to be more rational and need factual evidences.  People are different and different people need different ways to come to know God.

Right, then.  I happen to be Someone Who requires physical evidence for your god, in the form of a physical manifestation in My own home.  Tell your holy buddy to drop by, will you, please?

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Now He has given us the ability to create art and music, but who is the one who gives humans that ability.

(The Springy Goddess -- Who has studied and loved music for 47 of Her 54 years on this planet -- puts down Her Clarinet and reaches for the Clue-By-Four™)

*BAM BAM BAM SMASH WHACK BAM*

Songpak, I am going to say this to you once and once only.

Don't you ever fucking give your imaginary friend credit for My music again.

I want an apology from you, sincere, contrite and without qualification of any kind.
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Offline kcrady

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #536 on: December 14, 2011, 01:18:58 AM »
Dunno if Songpak's god is gonna want to show up at your place, Astreja.  He's probably afraid he'd get a shellackin' from your Clue-By-Fourtm.
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Offline Gill

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #537 on: December 14, 2011, 01:31:31 AM »
So far as I can tell, methods for determining 'spiritual truth' are...make something up in your head and see if it 'feels' right?  Basically, going with 'gut feeling'?  Seems like a poor way to discover truth.  How do I distinguish 'spiritual truth' from bulls**t I've made up?

"Well, you know you made it up."

Then how do I distinguish 'spiritual truth' from bulls**t someone else has made up?  How do you decide what out-dated beliefs to throw out and what to keep?  Let's ignore the whole physical/tangible/yada thing here for a moment.  How do I determine if a claim is true or false?

Simple. You determine for yourself.  Let me just ask this question, have you ever loved someone?  You may say yes.  Do you need to prove this to yourself using some mathematical method?  If I say, well I don't think you truly do, prove it, and you cannot, then it is not true?  Of course not, there's a part of you, beyond any logical reasoning, that knows this is true.  Therefore, my point being, truth doesn't just have to reside in the realm of the objective and physical, it is found within the self.

It doesn't matter if I can't experience exactly what you did or measure it,  that doesn't make it less true.  You could say it's not objective, fine, but spirituality isn't concerned only with the objective.

The whole eastern religious tradition is based upon 'know thyself', they start with the self, then outward.  Why limit one's understanding of truth to only physical terms?

Of course, people can do whatever they want, but it is a path of self-limitation in my experience focusing on pure physical terms.   And I'm not saying anyone here is a 'limited person' or whatever.  I'm not trying to insult.  There seems like a lot of very intelligent people posting here.   But,  it can almost become an obsession to only focus on the objective or physical, it seems, as some ultimate measure of reality here, doesn't it?

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #538 on: December 14, 2011, 02:44:21 AM »

Simple. You determine for yourself.  Let me just ask this question, have you ever loved someone?  You may say yes.  Do you need to prove this to yourself using some mathematical method?  If I say, well I don't think you truly do, prove it, and you cannot, then it is not true?  Of course not, there's a part of you, beyond any logical reasoning, that knows this is true.  Therefore, my point being, truth doesn't just have to reside in the realm of the objective and physical, it is found within the self.

The thing is, Gill, I can see the people I love. I can talk to them, touch them, see the effect my behavior has on them, and theirs on me. Other people can also see our interactions, and most witnesses wouldn't find it difficult to judge if I was on good terms with those I claimed to love.  It may not be-- strictly speaking-- scientific but it's certainly objectively verifiable.

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It doesn't matter if I can't experience exactly what you did or measure it,  that doesn't make it less true.  You could say it's not objective, fine, but spirituality isn't concerned only with the objective.

And as long as objectivity isn't crucial to understanding something, I would agree that's okay.

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Why limit one's understanding of truth to only physical terms?

Unless you can show how spiritual / religious views add something useful to that understanding, then I fail to see how understanding the world in physical terms is "limiting".

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Of course, people can do whatever they want, but it is a path of self-limitation in my experience focusing on pure physical terms.   And I'm not saying anyone here is a 'limited person' or whatever.  I'm not trying to insult.  There seems like a lot of very intelligent people posting here.   But,  it can almost become an obsession to only focus on the objective or physical, it seems, as some ultimate measure of reality here, doesn't it?

No insult assumed. And certainly any viewpoint can become obsessive, or too tightly focused. But again, I see no evidence (so far) of anything beyond the physical.

I have no objection to others saying they do, as long as they don't shove their views into my secular politics and laws. Not saying that you do such things, just clarifying what I find the most harmful and objectionable about religion.

Welcome to the forum, btw  ;)
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #539 on: December 14, 2011, 07:06:44 AM »
But,  it can almost become an obsession to only focus on the objective or physical, it seems, as some ultimate measure of reality here, doesn't it?

Why do you post here?

I'm not talking about the meta-reasons, which may be proselytising, sharing, learning, or whatever.  I'm interested as to why you physically type on a keyboard to use the power of the internet to convey your thoughts to us, and why you look at a screen to read the words that we convey to you?  Why do you use an entirely physical means of communication, when you are confident there is so much more out there beyond the objective physical?

Why, in short, are you not just sending thoughts to us and receiving them in like manner?

It may sound like I'm being facetious, but I promise I'm not.  I'm entirely serious with that question.
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 kcrady

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #540 on: December 14, 2011, 07:49:42 AM »
Simple. You determine for yourself.

The problem with this is, the individual mind is notoriously unreliable.  We have inherent cognitive biases, desires,[1] cultural norms, biases, or taboos, foibles in our perceptual faculties, etc. that often interfere with our ability to accurately perceive and integrate the facts of reality (physical or "spiritual," assuming the latter sort of facts exist).  This is why our most important "truth-pursuing" mechanisms are cooperative enterprises.  Peer review and replication of experiments/observations by multiple teams in science, the jury-trial system in criminal courts, the market system in the making of collective economic decisions,[2] the free press and the internet in the distribution of news and information, all represent instances where we do not leave the determination of what's true to a single person.

Diverse individuals and groups tend to have diverse biases, etc.,[3] and can serve to fact-check each other, especially if the "truth-pursuing" enterprise in question is deliberately set up to encourage it. 

In the case of alleged spiritual truth, it is trivially easy to point to different claimants with incompatible views.  The Apostle Paul's claims of mystically-apprehended spiritual truth are not compatible with those of Hafiz of Persia or Terrance McKenna, and vice versa.  Since individuals "determining for themselves" produce such a wide range of incompatible "results," if we want to approach knowledge of what's actually true in the realm of "spirituality," we need to develop methods of testing, validation, and falsification of "spiritual" ideas. 

Let me just ask this question, have you ever loved someone?  You may say yes.  Do you need to prove this to yourself using some mathematical method?  If I say, well I don't think you truly do, prove it, and you cannot, then it is not true?  Of course not, there's a part of you, beyond any logical reasoning, that knows this is true.  Therefore, my point being, truth doesn't just have to reside in the realm of the objective and physical, it is found within the self.

Being in love with someone whose existence is not in doubt is not at all the same thing as claiming to have experienced the presence of invisible, incorporeal beings and/or undetectable "alternate realities."

It doesn't matter if I can't experience exactly what you did or measure it,  that doesn't make it less true.  You could say it's not objective, fine, but spirituality isn't concerned only with the objective.

If someone claims to introduce you to their beloved spouse, and they show you another person, you can adopt a high-probability assessment that this person is, in fact, their beloved spouse, even if your experience of that person is different than theirs.  However, if someone claims to introduce you to their beloved spouse, and they gesture to empty air beside them, I think it's likely you would be a lot more dubious about the validity of their experience of an invisible, intangible spouse.

The whole eastern religious tradition is based upon 'know thyself', they start with the self, then outward.  Why limit one's understanding of truth to only physical terms?

That question is not legitimate until it is demonstrated that it is possible to have understanding of truth in "spiritual" or other non-physical terms.  We may be inherently limited in our understanding of truth to only physical terms by the nature of reality itself.  There is considerable evidence for this position.  The fact that "spiritual" people have, over a course of thousands of years, failed to converge on a single, coherent understanding of "spiritual truth" is one.  If we go back a few thousand years, each culture had its very own cosmology.  For some, the Earth rested on the back of four elephants, who in turn stood on the back of a gigantic turtle.  For others, it was a set of layered realities joined together by a World-Tree.  For the Biblical Hebrews, it was a flat disc surmounted by a domed firmament and immersed in water.  And so on.  Yet, through the process of scientific discovery, scientists from a wide range of cultures have set aside culture-specific cosmologies to agree on modern Big Bang cosmology.  "Spirituality" is still at the "turtles" stage of mutually incompatible culture-specific "spiritual" viewpoints. 

Of course, people can do whatever they want, but it is a path of self-limitation in my experience focusing on pure physical terms.

This presupposes that "spiritual" people are less limited or unlimited in some way, possessing something that materialists lack.  Is this a testable claim?  If "spiritual" people could levitate, or cast magic spells that worked, there would be no contention with your position.  Unfortunately, whatever advantage(s) "spiritual" people may possess are not readily apparent.  So, to put it another way, what do you have that we don't, and how can we know that you have it? 

But,  it can almost become an obsession to only focus on the objective or physical, it seems, as some ultimate measure of reality here, doesn't it?

No, it's not an "obsession."  It is just that, as far as we can tell, the human species is actually limited to the objective or physical when it comes to trying to find out what's actually true and real.  Maybe this isn't so.  But if you're a Slan, you ought to be able to demonstrate some sort of reality for your extrasensory perceptions/less-limited-than-us-ness/whatever.  BTW, I neither perceive your comment as an insult nor intend insult in return.  I have no problem with the idea that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy.  I just want to do my best to see to it that there aren't more things in my philosophy than are dreamt of in heaven and earth.  Hence, the Rationalist Art of epistemic hygiene. :)
 1. E.g., wanting something to be true (or not be true) can lead to "wannabelief" or denial that blocks our ability to examine the facts.
 2. As in, "How many, and what sorts of footwear should be produced this year?"
 3. The prosecutor is biased against the defendant, the defense attorney is biased in their favor.  Scientists promoting a theory may be biased in its favor, but scientists defending a rival theory may be biased against, and so on.
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Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #541 on: December 14, 2011, 09:06:41 AM »

Simple. You determine for yourself. 

See this in itself is a problem. You say that determining what "spiritual truth" is as easy as determining for yourself. This is inherently flawed, since each individual believer has a different concept of "spiritual truth". Spiritual truth is not universal among groups of believers, either on either a small or large scale. "Spiritual Truth" is not the same for every Catholic. It's even different between Catholics and Protestants (see: Ireland), even though both worship Christ the Savior. Then when you compare Christianity with Islam, or Buddhism, or Odinism, you will find that "Spiritual Truth" means different things yet still. If something is entirely dependent on the opinions of the individual, and individual methods to determine its nature produce different and often conflicting results, it can not be defined as truth. The truth is the same regardless of the individual experiencing it.

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Let me just ask this question, have you ever loved someone?  You may say yes.  Do you need to prove this to yourself using some mathematical method?  If I say, well I don't think you truly do, prove it, and you cannot, then it is not true?  Of course not, there's a part of you, beyond any logical reasoning, that knows this is true.  Therefore, my point being, truth doesn't just have to reside in the realm of the objective and physical, it is found within the self.

Again, and as kcrady also pointed out, one can still make observations about two individuals who are supposed to be "in love". I had a horrible marriage. Now, by default, one would assume that two people are married love each other. However, someone who observed the way my wife behaved and treated me would be very right to question whether or not love was actually a factor. It is really not difficult to tell if two people love each other. One need only observe the quality of their relationship and the interactions between them. Furthermore, studies of the brain, hormones, etc. can demonstrate differences in levels of chemicals and cerebral stimulation that occurs when individuals are attracted to someone. Love is not an unobservable phenomena.


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It doesn't matter if I can't experience exactly what you did or measure it,  that doesn't make it less true.  You could say it's not objective, fine, but spirituality isn't concerned only with the objective.

But you can measure it. You could observe someone who claims to love someone else. Do their actions and treatment of that person demonstrate a loving relationship, or not? Certainly, people hide their relationship problems in public at times, but in a situation where one could observe unnoticed, it would be possibly to examine the quality of the relationship, and determine if what we call "love" is present.

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The whole eastern religious tradition is based upon 'know thyself', they start with the self, then outward.  Why limit one's understanding of truth to only physical terms?

Because what you consider to be "physical terms" is the ONLY reliable, useful, testable, meaningful way we have of determining what is true and what is not. I would say that something that is not observable or measurable by any physical means cannot be properly defined as truth.

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Of course, people can do whatever they want, but it is a path of self-limitation in my experience focusing on pure physical terms.   And I'm not saying anyone here is a 'limited person' or whatever.  I'm not trying to insult.  There seems like a lot of very intelligent people posting here.   But,  it can almost become an obsession to only focus on the objective or physical, it seems, as some ultimate measure of reality here, doesn't it?

This really seems to me a reiteration of your point thus far. It's not an obsession, it's using what actually works. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, and give us an example of even one thing that is KNOWN to be the truth, and was determined to be so through an entirely spiritual means. Based on what you are telling us, this should be possible. If spiritual methods are reliable in determining the truth, there should be truths that were determined spiritually. I know of not even one example. Can you provide us with one?
Seriously though... What would happen if the Great Green Arkleseizure didn't fram up the rammastam before the hermite curve achieved maximum nurdfurdle velocity? Now THAT would be something. AmIrite?

Offline Historicity

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #542 on: December 14, 2011, 10:40:15 AM »
Because God is infinite, and infinities don't work in math equations.

Let me expand your vocabulary:  Calculus

Calculus is math with infinities and infinitesimals in it.  It produces exact results.  An infinite series of operations can have a finite result, BTW.

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #543 on: December 14, 2011, 10:53:53 AM »
If science worked like spirituality, there would be hundreds if not thousands of "theories"of the speed of light. There would be group claiming that the speed of light is under 300 miles per hour and that's why airplanes look like they're going so fast. Another group would claim that photosynthesis is caused by good genes while leaves falling off of trees in the autumn is caused by bad genes.

Those initially interested in science of course had many erroneous explanations about all sorts of things. But science is a filter, and over the centuries (and especially since 1900 or so), our human knowledge base of confirmable scientific theories has been doing that exponential growth thingy and we're getting pretty good at this stuff.

Of course we don't know everything and there are contentious theories there. But for the most part they exist because we don't yet have enough information on the subject. And I've no doubt that there are scientists out there that refuse to change their own theories in the face of conflicting facts because they "love" their version too much. But to expect there to be no crossover between human frailties and science would be asking a bit too much.

And "love" appears to be the result of hormones running around in our cells, just as many of our moral standards appear to be biological in nature, and only amplified by culture. So be as impressed as you want by feelings, but keep in mind, as kcrady so eloquently said, yours don't match up all that well with the various feelings of your spiritual brethren, and we scientifically-oriented types consider that a clue.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #544 on: December 14, 2011, 10:58:47 AM »
If I might jump in here, I think what they're getting at is that, if belief alone is your soul reason 'for' belief, I can believe in a different God (or gods) and have exactly the same rational as you.

I wouldn't say belief alone is my only reason.  I would include my sensory experience.  And yes, since different people have different life experiences, they may perceive different Gods, but I think ultimately it is the same God.

If the percation of this god varies per person, how is it possible to assert any characteristics of this god?
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 velkyn

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #545 on: December 14, 2011, 11:17:40 AM »
Gill,

you've attempted to claim that your version of "god" is behind all gods. Why does this god want people to kill over their various versions if it's the same thing?  Does it want this or is it unable to stop it?   Either say, not much of a god.  AS many theists have done, you've made your god so vague that it is nothing. You just want to feel special and play pretend that you know something but make it so nonsensical that no one can show you completely wrong.  Yuo depend on Russel's Teapot for your "faith". 

Second, is there or is there not physical evidence for this god of yours? 

third, you're likely heading toward the usual nonsense of solipsism with your nosnesne about determining "truth" for yourself.
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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #546 on: December 14, 2011, 01:43:34 PM »
If I might jump in here, I think what they're getting at is that, if belief alone is your soul reason 'for' belief, I can believe in a different God (or gods) and have exactly the same rational as you.

I wouldn't say belief alone is my only reason.  I would include my sensory experience.  And yes, since different people have different life experiences, they may perceive different Gods, but I think ultimately it is the same God.

If the percation of this god varies per person, how is it possible to assert any characteristics of this god?

Via Negativa
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #547 on: December 14, 2011, 02:15:42 PM »
If I might jump in here, I think what they're getting at is that, if belief alone is your soul reason 'for' belief, I can believe in a different God (or gods) and have exactly the same rational as you.

I wouldn't say belief alone is my only reason.  I would include my sensory experience.  And yes, since different people have different life experiences, they may perceive different Gods, but I think ultimately it is the same God.

If the percation of this god varies per person, how is it possible to assert any characteristics of this god?

Via Negativa

please explain further.
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 Gill

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #548 on: December 14, 2011, 02:37:01 PM »
Gill,

you've attempted to claim that your version of "god" is behind all gods. Why does this god want people to kill over their various versions if it's the same thing?  Does it want this or is it unable to stop it?   Either say, not much of a god.  AS many theists have done, you've made your god so vague that it is nothing. You just want to feel special and play pretend that you know something but make it so nonsensical that no one can show you completely wrong.  Yuo depend on Russel's Teapot for your "faith". 

Second, is there or is there not physical evidence for this god of yours? 

third, you're likely heading toward the usual nonsense of solipsism with your nosnesne about determining "truth" for yourself.

First off, I've read all the replies, and I have to say there have been a lot of thoughtful responses, and I understand a lot of them.   I'd like to answer some of the questions, but won't go into everything, since Truth OT said, I think I kind of opened a can of worms, when I made such a general statement initially.

But anyway, just a couple things, why does God want people to kill over religion? God has given us free-will, this can be used for good, or even murder.

Second, no, my intention here is not to feel special or pretend.  As I said on another post, I don't think I'm more special than anyone here.  I believe every person is a unique spiritual being, therefore, they can go about connecting to this spiritual side in different ways,  I'm just saying they are ultimately experiencing the same thing.

Third, and once again, I'm asked for physical evidence.   

Let me ask this,  what is physical evidence to you?  I hold a rock.  Is seeing the rock enough for you, to tell that the rock is real?  Of course, seeing is limiting.  If I want to talk about the mass of the rock, I'd have to measure that property.   I could measure the volume of space the rock occupies.   One might say I know more about the rock's true nature now.   But what if I were to then throw the rock against the ground, and it broke into hundreds of pieces?  What then happened to the initial, whole rock I perceived?  One might say the whole rock doesn't exist anymore.  Yet if I measure the total mass of the pieces, and volume, I get the same result as the whole rock.   So how am I to speak of the true nature of the pieces, when the true nature in terms of the mass would seem to be the same as the whole rock? Because I see the pieces differently?  If that is so then it would seem that seeing, perceiving alone, without any scientific measurement, can offer insights into knowledge and truth.

My overall point being we are not detached observers of the universe, but our consciousness playing an active role in what we call reality.   This is not solipsism, simply the acknowledgement that an objective description of reality is not the only avenue to understanding what you might call truth, or real....

How this relates to God is that, once again, if you are only concerned with such objective measurements for having any meaningful knowledge, then yes, an idea such as God, will not comply with you.

Offline velkyn

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #549 on: December 14, 2011, 02:59:34 PM »
First off, I've read all the replies, and I have to say there have been a lot of thoughtful responses, and I understand a lot of them.   I'd like to answer some of the questions, but won't go into everything, since Truth OT said, I think I kind of opened a can of worms, when I made such a general statement initially.

But anyway, just a couple things, why does God want people to kill over religion? God has given us free-will, this can be used for good, or even murder.
Give evidence supporting that.  If we are talking about the god of the bible, then we have this god repeatedly interfering in human actions, to the point of saying in the NT, that he’s already chosen who will be saved, with no choice of their own.  If God presents itself as multiple gods all of which claim to hate the other, that is not giving free will at all. That is a powerful being intentionally lying to people. 
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Second, no, my intention here is not to feel special or pretend.  As I said on another post, I don't think I'm more special than anyone here.  I believe every person is a unique spiritual being, therefore, they can go about connecting to this spiritual side in different ways,  I'm just saying they are ultimately experiencing the same thing.
Again, how so if the god that tells them things tells them contradictions?  It’s like how Christians claim that the “holy spirit” tells them what God “really means” but they all get different answers and again, hate each other over it.  If this god is omnipotent, it knows its actions will cause this and evidently it must want this discord if it could stop it and simply appear as one universal thing.
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Third, and once again, I'm asked for physical evidence.
Let me ask this,  what is physical evidence to you?  I hold a rock.  Is seeing the rock enough for you, to tell that the rock is real?  Of course, seeing is limiting.  If I want to talk about the mass of the rock, I'd have to measure that property.   I could measure the volume of space the rock occupies.   One might say I know more about the rock's true nature now.   But what if I were to then throw the rock against the ground, and it broke into hundreds of pieces?  What then happened to the initial, whole rock I perceived?  One might say the whole rock doesn't exist anymore.  Yet if I measure the total mass of the pieces, and volume, I get the same result as the whole rock.   So how am I to speak of the true nature of the pieces, when the true nature in terms of the mass would seem to be the same as the whole rock? Because I see the pieces differently?  If that is so then it would seem that seeing, perceiving alone, without any scientific measurement, can offer insights into knowledge and truth.
One might say a lot of things but they would be nonsense. Seeing can be fooled.  Measurement can be fooled though less easily if we have a common objective measurement. Most people will see a rock and know that a pile of rocks can come from a bigger one.  That’s trust in the laws of the universe.  Your religion has nothing similar.  Again, I’ll ask, is there or is there not physical evidence for your god? No trying to redefine the words or avoid the question, straight up, is there or isn’t there? 
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My overall point being we are not detached observers of the universe, but our consciousness playing an active role in what we call reality.   This is not solipsism, simply the acknowledgement that an objective description of reality is not the only avenue to understanding what you might call truth, or real....
No, it is the claim that there is something other than a objective description of reality that can be used to understand the truth or reality.  It is a baseless claim at that.  I’ve not seen one person who has claimed such a thing present this supposed great way to find out truth and not be shown to be making things up just like any theist, Christian or witch doctor.
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How this relates to God is that, once again, if you are only concerned with such objective measurements for having any meaningful knowledge, then yes, an idea such as God, will not comply with you.
Ah, so god is just an idea now.  Hmmm, Socialism is an idea, eugenics is an idea, fairies are an idea, too, and can be mangled into just about anything.  If this god is now just an idea, how can it do anything much less “comply”?  That would imply it was a existential being, that can do things like in the various holy books and those gods supposedly do comply with human requests and tests. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

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Offline Gill

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Re: In order to believe in God.
« Reply #550 on: December 14, 2011, 03:02:39 PM »
But,  it can almost become an obsession to only focus on the objective or physical, it seems, as some ultimate measure of reality here, doesn't it?

Why do you post here?

I'm not talking about the meta-reasons, which may be proselytising, sharing, learning, or whatever.  I'm interested as to why you physically type on a keyboard to use the power of the internet to convey your thoughts to us, and why you look at a screen to read the words that we convey to you?  Why do you use an entirely physical means of communication, when you are confident there is so much more out there beyond the objective physical?

Why, in short, are you not just sending thoughts to us and receiving them in like manner?

It may sound like I'm being facetious, but I promise I'm not.  I'm entirely serious with that question.

heh.  I don't see how it's possible to explain my reasoning in physical terms, or why it would even be necessary.  I've enjoyed it so far, seems like a bunch of really thought-provoking questions came up after I just posted a comment, and so, I like the discussion.   

Is an emotional reason not valid in your mind?  You know the word 'emotion', has the word 'motion' in it, it's that which moves people, so emotions seem like valid reasons to me...