Author Topic: Theists, forget everything you know.  (Read 4561 times)

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Offline dloubet

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Theists, forget everything you know.
« on: August 31, 2014, 08:55:47 PM »
Suppose you knew nothing of the bible, no one told you anything about any god. What if, further, there were no other religions, and no concept of gods at all.

Just from what you see around you, what would you conclude about the universe?

If you concluded that "every painting required a painter", and applied that principle to the universe, what qualities would you assign to the painter by looking around you? Would you see it as competent or incompetent? Benevolent or malevolent?

Would you re-invent religion from scratch?
Denis Loubet

Offline Nam

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2014, 09:45:05 PM »
Suppose you knew nothing of the bible, no one told you anything about any god. What if, further, there were no other religions, and no concept of gods at all.

Just from what you see around you, what would you conclude about the universe?

If you concluded that "every painting required a painter", and applied that principle to the universe, what qualities would you assign to the painter by looking around you? Would you see it as competent or incompetent? Benevolent or malevolent?

Would you re-invent religion from scratch?

How do you think religion came  into existence?

-Nam
"presumptions are the bitch of all assumptions" -- me

Offline dloubet

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2014, 01:38:33 AM »
I suspect not through entirely honest means. But I don't expect a theist to agree. I'm interested to see what they'll come up with.
Denis Loubet

Offline Nam

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2014, 02:11:28 AM »
I suspect not through entirely honest means. But I don't expect a theist to agree. I'm interested to see what they'll come up with.

Ever seen the movie "The Invention of Lying"? If not, you should check it out.

-Nam
"presumptions are the bitch of all assumptions" -- me

Offline natlegend

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2014, 02:42:14 AM »
Good question dloubet, but I do not believe you will get any answers. And I can guarantee if you do, then they won't be honest. Unless Old Church Guy answers. Luk, Skep, june, jst and all the rest will lie through their teeth.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2014, 04:18:44 AM »
Good question dloubet, but I do not believe you will get any answers. And I can guarantee if you do, then they won't be honest. Unless Old Church Guy answers. Luk, Skep, june, jst and all the rest will lie through their teeth.

I am flattered.  Your kind words are appreciated. 

To be fair, I don't believe my fellow theists will lie through their teeth.  I honestly believe that, if they respond to this, they will present a genuine belief.

Getting to the question at hand, I have no idea what I would conclude.  Like all of us, I am the sum of my experiences and don't see any way to disassociate myself from those experiences in a theoretical exercise.  If that is a cop out, so be it.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2014, 09:07:55 AM »
Suppose you knew nothing of the bible, no one told you anything about any god. What if, further, there were no other religions, and no concept of gods at all.

Just from what you see around you, what would you conclude about the universe?

If you concluded that "every painting required a painter", and applied that principle to the universe, what qualities would you assign to the painter by looking around you? Would you see it as competent or incompetent? Benevolent or malevolent?

Would you re-invent religion from scratch?

As a former believer... If we had the science we do now, I'd conclude that there was no god, or if there was, he'd set things in motion and doesn't care to get involved at all.

But if I was alive during the bronze ages or earlier?   Lets say my first wife died in childbirth.  Let's say my second wife died in a fire when lightning struck our ungrounded house.   Let's say 3 of my 10 kids died under the age of five.  Let's say I was horribly scarred from smallpox.  Let's say I'd survived 10 front line charges into battle as a youth.

Might I start inventing reasons why I was still alive, yet had gone through so much suffering?   Might I try to put a positive spin on it that made the pain of all that a little less?

Or let's say I was alive back then and realized it was all bullcrap... I might realize I can make a good living as a wise man or leader of men by inspiring others to do things that otherwise aren't good for their well being.  Maybe I can get them to donate more to my organization.  Maybe I can get them to not steal even if they could get away with it.  Maybe I can get them to charge the enemy and not worry about death because they'll be in heaven.  Maybe I can get them to treat me with honor and come to me with all their problems so I can intercede with "god" for them.  Maybe I find a way to have this position and still play the field.  (frankly I can't live like this... I don't want to get ahead at the expense of others if I can help it... but a lot of church leaders HAVE done this)

Maybe it's some combination of the two things... genuinely trying to believe but struggling with doubt so getting away with things along the way.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline Nam

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 11:25:23 AM »
Good question dloubet, but I do not believe you will get any answers. And I can guarantee if you do, then they won't be honest. Unless Old Church Guy answers. Luk, Skep, june, jst and all the rest will lie through their teeth.

I am flattered.  Your kind words are appreciated. 

To be fair, I don't believe my fellow theists will lie through their teeth.  I honestly believe that, if they respond to this, they will present a genuine belief.

Getting to the question at hand, I have no idea what I would conclude.  Like all of us, I am the sum of my experiences and don't see any way to disassociate myself from those experiences in a theoretical exercise.  If that is a cop out, so be it.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

We're on the same website, right? We're on the same internet, right? We're on the same planet, right?

;)

-Nam
"presumptions are the bitch of all assumptions" -- me

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2014, 01:42:14 PM »
We're on the same planet, right?

If your new avatar is indicative of what planet you're posting from, I think the answer is 'no, the two of you are not on the same planet'.

You should go back to the stick figure headdesking himself into a pile of mush.  I miss the stick figure headdesking.  BRING BACK THE HEADDESKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Nam

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2014, 06:27:54 PM »
We're on the same planet, right?

If your new avatar is indicative of what planet you're posting from, I think the answer is 'no, the two of you are not on the same planet'.

You should go back to the stick figure headdesking himself into a pile of mush.  I miss the stick figure headdesking.  BRING BACK THE HEADDESKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't find the exact one I had but perhaps this is close enough.

-Nam
"presumptions are the bitch of all assumptions" -- me

Offline eh!

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2014, 06:53:36 PM »
Suppose you knew nothing of the bible, no one told you anything about any god. What if, further, there were no other religions, and no concept of gods at all.

Just from what you see around you, what would you conclude about the universe?

If you concluded that "every painting required a painter", and applied that principle to the universe, what qualities would you assign to the painter by looking around you? Would you see it as competent or incompetent? Benevolent or malevolent?

Would you re-invent religion from scratch?


obviously people from every corner of the earth would spontaneously start chanting YAWEH
some skepisms,
1. "I have not seen God. I have felt the invisible presence"
2. What if there is a rock in the middle of a road, a blind person is speeding towards it, ...they say that they can't see it.   Would you recommend him to keep speeding?

Offline Timo

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2014, 07:01:34 PM »
How do you think religion came  into existence?

Yeah, basically.

I think that we're hardwired in some sense for detecting agency and for dualism. Therefore, I think the notion that we can some how root out religion through science education is quixotic.  There will always be people that see the intricacies of the universe revealed to us through modern science as evidence for the unfathomable brilliance of the creator. I'd imagine if religion were to be invented again from scratch, its stories would be more explicitly allegorical and reflecting of modern values.
Nah son...

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2014, 07:28:59 PM »
Quote

How do you think religion came  into existence?

-Nam

Depends on who you talk to.  There are those who say that people were created with an innate understanding of God.  There are those who say it is part of our evolution.  Part of that evolution is the ability to see patterns and to explain the world around us.  Thus, religion came about as a way to explain the unexplainable (unexplainable for the time). 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Nam

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2014, 07:55:00 PM »
Quote

How do you think religion came  into existence?

-Nam

Depends on who you talk to.  There are those who say that people were created with an innate understanding of God.  There are those who say it is part of our evolution.  Part of that evolution is the ability to see patterns and to explain the world around us.  Thus, religion came about as a way to explain the unexplainable (unexplainable for the time). 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

The point of my comment is: people made things up to explain things they didn't understand (like children do), and over time only their answers became the correct answers and thus was born religion.

-Nam
"presumptions are the bitch of all assumptions" -- me

Offline dloubet

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2014, 03:25:53 PM »
The thing is, Christians say the proof of god is all around us. If that is so, then they should be able to re-create from scratch a description of their god just by looking around. I suspect they can't.

My opinion is that gods came from the same place that "lucky shirts" come from. It's a small step from, "when I wear this shirt, my team wins!" to "Something is keeping track of what I do, and that affects my team." If something good happens, the gods are smiling on you. If something bad happens, the gods are fucking with you.
Denis Loubet

Offline kcrady

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2014, 01:21:44 AM »
Suppose you knew nothing of the bible, no one told you anything about any god. What if, further, there were no other religions, and no concept of gods at all.

Just from what you see around you, what would you conclude about the universe?

If you concluded that "every painting required a painter", and applied that principle to the universe, what qualities would you assign to the painter by looking around you? Would you see it as competent or incompetent? Benevolent or malevolent?

Would you re-invent religion from scratch?

Terrific question.  One of the curious things about many versions of theism is the way they accept the following two tenets: 1) The Divine [however that's defined in the religion] is utterly mysterious, inexplicable, beyond human ken and understanding; 2) Our sect knows everything worth knowing about it, and you should believe everything we say without question. 

So what if [certain collection of domesticated primates claiming to have a complete, infallible knowledge of Divinity] didn't already know it all?  What would a theology that actually tried to be a systematic study of the things people call "gods" (i.e., in the same way that "biology" is a discipline whose practitioners actually go around, study life, compare observations, etc.) rather than a Propaganda Ministry for a particular religion (e.g. "Christian theology," "Muslim theology," and so on) be like?

Of course the complete absence of religions and god-concepts you propose in the question would mean we were living in a very different world.  Not only is there an absence of religious indoctrination, your scenario implies that people do not have religious experiences in that world the way they do in ours.  Perhaps they do not have the overpowered "agency detectors" we ended up with, no notable reactions to things like psilocybin and DMT, and so on.  On the one hand, no religious dogmas programmed in childhood, no imposed social consensus in favor of religion.  On the other hand, in the absence of those things there would probably be a lot less skepticism and suspicion toward a newly-invented god-concept or something along those lines.  Critical thinkers would not have had to develop "epistemic antibodies" against painting/painter arguments and the like.

In that world, I can think of four routes alternate-me might take:

1) Simply accept the Cosmos revealed by science.  Atheism, but without the "theism," so perhaps more like "Ah."

2) If there were "paranormal experiences" in that world (alleged Fortean events, UFO abductions, "fairy," "elf," and "djinn" type beliefs historically and in the present, i.e., claimed experiences of, and belief in, "spirit beings" of various sorts that are not considered "gods" or "goddesses" along with alleged phenomena that, if real, would contradict Standard Model naturalism), it could be plausible to construct a "religion" of sorts centered on these alleged beings.

3) It might also be plausible to adopt a quasi-scientific religion of transhumanist singularitarianism:



In such a religion, we would not be God's children, but rather hir embryos; or perhaps we and other intelligences like ourselves are the imaginal cells of the Cosmos, whose place in the evolutionary epic is to transform a lifeless Cosmos into a manifestation of maximal intelligence and capability that we might as well call "God." 

4) The Cosmos may well be "fine-tuned," but it is most clearly not "fine-tuned" for us.  After all, we can only live on a relatively small fraction of the surface of one infinitesimally small planet.  All the rest of the Cosmos is lethal to us, and far out of reach to boot.  While we might be able to find what seem to be signs of an "underlying order" that we could interpret as the product of intelligence (a specific set of cosmological constants, geometric/mathematical universals like Fibonacci spirals, fractals, and the like), the Cosmos is probably "for" something utterly incomprehensible to us.  We could be like bacteria on a doorknob in the Large Hadron Collider saying to each other "Hey!  The temperature range, atmosphere, and the Great Pressing Shadow[1] that deposits the oils we live on is proof that all of this was designed and fine-tuned for us!  All hail the Great Bacterium, our Creator and Benefactor!"
 1. A hand using the doorknob.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2014, 01:23:56 AM by kcrady »
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Offline dloubet

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2014, 02:59:27 PM »
Yes, the world would be a very different place!  ;)  My thought experiment here assumed a much smaller scope: Since theists say proof of god is all around, I was challenging them to re-construct their god from scratch using this proof they're talking about, and to show their work. But I like how you're dragging my question into larger contexts! :)

I don't doubt that after a hypothetical reset, religion would immediately spring up again, but the challenge for the theist would be to re-construct their specific god, and not just create a new one. By looking around, the guy who is completely amnesiac about his previous Christianity should be able to re-construct it from this supposed omnipresent proof all around us, right?

My question is actually shallower and snarkier that you gave it credit for!
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2014, 03:29:03 PM »
One of the common denominators for most cultures was propitiation; the act of appeasing a god or spirit. Funny how every god claimed was consistent with the culture that worshipped it. And how doing things culturally considered good or ideal was the thing that appeased their god. If I had a god, I'd be offering him/her/it burnt flesh all the time, due to my cooking and all, but it is strange that gods are consistent with cultures, not reality.

So when dloubet asks for a description of god based on reality, he is asking for way too much. Because gods have been based on a description of cultures. Which exist as human responses to environmental, social and other realities. But cultures are not reality. Hence, the impossibility of the task as outlined in the OP.

I'd love to see someone try though. But it would have to go something like this: "Yea, I see that historically there have been billions of premature deaths due to everything from disease to natural disaster, from individual cruelty to war. That clearly means that god loves us!"
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2014, 05:27:47 PM »
Not only does god love us, but he has A PLAN.TM

The most perfect, wonderful plan ever made, put in place at the beginning of time. A plan that includes not only every human being who has ever lived, but every plant, animal, insect, rock, bacteria, virus, grain of sand, atom of oxygen and drop of rain.

God has a plan for every speck, every sperm, every sparrow and every sparkling snowflake.

It is so beautiful, it makes you want to cry-- or run out and buy a copy of The Purpose Driven Life.[1]

Here is where is really gets wonky. Nothing that happens can be unaccounted for in god's perfect plan. Therefore god's plan, by definition, includes everything that happens, good, evil and mediocre. A pack of ugly hyenas hunt down and kill a lovely graceful gazelle--just part of god's wonderful plan, ya see.

Smallpox, WWII, the KKK, cockroaches, reality tv, republicans, tooth decay, serial rapists, crop failures, animal extinctions, nuclear missiles, Ghengis Khan, meteor strikes, volcanoes, babies that die in hot cars, land mines, earthquakes, rabies, plane crashes, hurricanes, food poisoning and North Korea--also part of god's wonderful loving plan.

Cue the weaseling about how evil is because of human beings (greed, ignorance, cruelty, etc.)  It's our own damn fault there are so many bad things. Uh, human beings cause rabies, meteor strikes, and volcanic eruptions? People cause ugly hyenas to kill lovely gazelles for food?

And besides, remember god's incredible wonderful plan? Either human screw ups are also part of the plan--and were from the beginning of time, or the plan is itself a crapper. Or there are no gods, there is no plan and things just are how they are. :-\
 1. And then cry anyway, because you will never get that two hours of your life, or the $13.99 back.
When all of Cinderella's finery changed back at midnight, why didn't the shoes disappear? What's up with that?

Offline Nam

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2014, 08:38:11 PM »
That deuce I had this morning: part of God's plan.

:)

-Nam
"presumptions are the bitch of all assumptions" -- me

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2014, 11:48:37 PM »
^^^Of course it was. Otherwise you would explode. Bless his hole-y name.  :angel:
When all of Cinderella's finery changed back at midnight, why didn't the shoes disappear? What's up with that?

Offline Defiance

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2014, 06:45:55 PM »
Old Church Guy, quick series of questions, if you don't mind :)

1) If you had no knowledge of your god, nor any other, what would your initial reaction be to your curiosity? Using the world around you, analysing it and applying the obervations to things you dont know,  or say magic?

2) What would you tell your fellow ponderers?
Q: Why are quantum physicists bad lovers? A: Because when they find the position, they can't find the momentum, and when they have the momentum, they can't find the position.

source: http://www.jokes4us.com/miscellaneousjokes/schooljokes/physicsjokes.html

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2014, 08:28:52 PM »
Old Church Guy, quick series of questions, if you don't mind :)

1) If you had no knowledge of your god, nor any other, what would your initial reaction be to your curiosity? Using the world around you, analysing it and applying the obervations to things you dont know,  or say magic?

2) What would you tell your fellow ponderers?

1) I have no idea.  I am not any good at putting myself in a totally unknown theoretical situation.  I am a strong believer that we are the sum of our experiences. 

2) I have no idea.  See #1 above.

Regretting I may come across as evasive,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline dloubet

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2014, 08:07:37 PM »
No one is required to answer!  ;-) 

Especially if the person does not claim that "The proof for god is all around us!"
Denis Loubet

Offline kcrady

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2014, 08:46:33 PM »
Yes, the world would be a very different place!  ;)  My thought experiment here assumed a much smaller scope: Since theists say proof of god is all around, I was challenging them to re-construct their god from scratch using this proof they're talking about, and to show their work. But I like how you're dragging my question into larger contexts! :)

I don't doubt that after a hypothetical reset, religion would immediately spring up again, but the challenge for the theist would be to re-construct their specific god, and not just create a new one. By looking around, the guy who is completely amnesiac about his previous Christianity should be able to re-construct it from this supposed omnipresent proof all around us, right?

Yes, at least if the Apostle Paul's word counts for anything:

Quote
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.  So they are without excuse...

--Romans 1:18-20 (bold emphasis added)

Notice how Paul does not try to claim that Yahweh is hidden from all but the eye of devout faith, or revealed only to certain special snowflakes through mystical experience or the workings of Irresistible Grace or anything along those lines.  Nor does he limit himself to claiming that people ought to be able to look around, see the beauty and order of the "created" world and get the idea that, yeah, some kind of divine agency (Intelligent Designer(s), First Cause(s), Unmoved Mover(s), etc.) must be involved somehow.

No, he goes much further than that.  He claims that his specific god, its particular divine nature and intentions for human behavior are self-evident if one does not actively set out to "suppress the truth."  So, not only should Christians be able to meet your challenge and show their work, it ought to be easy for them.  They should be able to bombard us with fact after fact after self-evident fact from observable reality demonstrating that their particular sect of Christianity is so obviously correct that nobody has any excuse not to believe it.

And Christians, if you can't do this, then Your.  Religion.  Is.  False.  Period.

My question is actually shallower and snarkier that you gave it credit for!

LOL!
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2014, 05:22:35 AM »
Suppose you knew nothing of the bible, no one told you anything about any god. What if, further, there were no other religions, and no concept of gods at all.
[...]

Would you re-invent religion from scratch?
Your question has already been answered:

“If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”

Penn Jillette, "God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales"


Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline dloubet

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Re: Theists, forget everything you know.
« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2014, 06:29:48 PM »
^^^Good Point!  :)

Yes, science can be re-created. There will of course be false starts and backtracking, but science self-corrects, and zeros in on single answers. If there's a fracture or controversy, one side will eventually LOSE, and be proven wrong. That doesn't happen in religion.

And thank you, kcrady, that was informative!  :)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2014, 06:31:22 PM by dloubet »
Denis Loubet