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Offline kcrady

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Christianity falsified
« on: January 10, 2013, 03:38:09 AM »
Our Scripture passage for today is Romans 1:18-20:

Quote
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;

--Revised Standard Version, emphasis added

The first thing to note here is that this passage is not myth, allegory, esoteric mystical symbolism, parable, or any other sort of exotic genre of literature not meant to be taken literally.  It's a straight-up claim about the nature of directly-perceptible reality.  It makes no appeal to the spiritual experiences of holy sages, or sacred Mysteries revealed only to chosen Initiates, or revelations vouchsafed only to the faithful, the humble, or the credulous.  To the contrary, it asserts, in no uncertain terms, that the proof of Paul's hypothesis should be plain and clearly perceived.  Obvious to the point of self-evident, such that skeptics are "without excuse."  Paul has left absolutely no wiggle room for any of the usual dodges Christians employ.  "Free will?"  No excuse.  "Yahweh is hiding himself?"  No excuse.  "Gotta have faith?"  No excuse.  "It only works if you pray really, really, really hard asking Yahweh to reveal himself to you?"  No excuse.  "Yahweh only reveals himself to the Chosen?"  No excuse. 

The second thing to note is that Paul never bothers to specify any of this allegedly obvious proof.  Maybe we're supposed to look up at the night sky and say, "Ooooh!  Preeetty!  Therefore, [Paul's] god!"  Since he veers straight off into a spittle-flecked rant about the "wickedness" of everybody who doesn't believe as he does instead of actually developing his argument, we'll never know.

The third thing to note is that this testable claim applies not only to the level of knowledge Paul could have had access to, but to everything we have discovered since.  If it is so that Yahweh revealed "his invisible nature" in the natural world, we could anticipate that as people started exploring the world, cataloging life forms, digging up fossils and geological formations, discovering the equations that modeled the workings of physics, building space telescopes and launching probes across the solar system and beyond, that we would have found ever larger volumes of proof for the existence and nature of the Christian deity.  If it was so obvious to Paul, who was not even a naturalist on a par with Aristotle, then given the orders-of-magnitude increase in knowledge about Universe humanity has gained since his time, the evidence for the existence of Paul's god ought to be utterly, anviliciously,[1] inescapable.  "Christian apologist" should be the very easiest job in the whole world.  Given the nature of Paul's claim, it shouldn't be hard for Christians to find natural "demonstrations" of Christian doctrines, like the Trinity (an important aspect of Yahweh's "invisible nature," surely), and the basic tenets of Christian morality.  Without excuse, remember. 

So what have we found?  Does the corpus of scientific discovery support Paul's claim?   The answer to this is precisely as self-evident and inescapable as Paul asserts--in the negative.  Christians know this and don't even try to dispute it.  "But of course God can't be proven with science or logic!" they say with one voice, then turn to attacking science, logic, and the very idea of validating anything at all.  In terms of both space (size) and time (age), the Cosmos is self-evidently not "all about the humans" in any sense.  Human history is less than an eyeblink of the 14 billion years of Cosmic history, our whole world a sub-microscopic speck lost in one of at least a hundred billion galaxies.  No one exposed only to what science has shown us about the Cosmos and humanity would conclude, "All of this was made in order to secure the obedience and praises of the humans on that one itty bitty planet in that tiny little galaxy over there."

Even when we get closer to home, Paul finds no help.  He spends the next several verses raging about "wicked" sexual practices.  Though Paul doesn't specify, given the importance of sexual rules to Paul and Christianity in general, it seems that his "no excuse" claim ought to extend to revelation of those rules.  If it is true that the natural world was created by an entity for whom there is One Proper Sort of Sexual Relationship, with all others representing execrable "wickedness," surely this "plain" and "clearly seen" revelation of Yahweh's "invisible nature" ought to include, or at the very least, be consistent with, his moral predilections.  The One, True Sexual Relationship according to most Christians is: lifelong heterosexual marriage between a single man and a single woman, with the man dominant.  Does the natural world provide us, over and over again, the moral lesson that this is the only way that mating ought to take place?  To the contrary, we get a dizzying array of reproductive options, from sexless division, to transgenderism (certain fish and amphibians that change their sex from male to female or vice versa), random spraying of gametes with no "relationship" whatsoever (e.g. oysters), mating via other species (plants pollinating one another through the agency of bees and butterflies), hermaphrodites (e.g. earthworms), pairings so matriarchal that the female eats her husband on their honeymoon (mantises, Black Widow spiders)...  On, and on, and on it goes: Yahweh's precious "rules" brutally squashed wherever we look. 

So, it's all very straightforward.  Paul, putative author of more than half of the New Testament and for all practical intents and purposes the real founder of Christianity, makes a plainly-stated claim of anticipated consequences: if Christianity is true, the ordinary, visible, tangible things of "the created order" ought to plainly, obviously, inescapably reveal and provide conclusive evidence for Yahweh's existence and (at the very least) the key attributes of his invisible nature, and do this so clearly that nobody has any excuse to believe in any other deity or no deity.  In order for the "no excuse" part to hold up, this demonstration of invisible attributes has to be specific enough to exclude similar but outside-the-pale versions of "God," such as the "God" of Greek philosophy and the "God" of Islam.  There's just no way out of this claim.  Paul leaves...well...no excuse.  That reality fails to match Paul's claim is every bit as "plain," as "clearly seen," as self-evident as he expected its truth to be.  For any "Bible-believing" Christian, there is no excuse.  Christianity is false, period.  No excuse.

That leaves the non-"Bible-believing" Christians, the ones who can say, "Well, sure, Paul said that, but so what?  He was mistaken.  He was just a man, as fallible as anybody else, and so are his writings."  We never seem to get that sort of Christian around here, but if one does show up, I'd love to ask them, "Well, OK, then what truth-claims do you make for your Christianity?  If you don't have the Bible, or Church authority (as in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions) as a basis or 'source-code' for your beliefs, then what do you have?"  If Protestant fundamentalists saw off the limb they're sitting on by cutting themselves off from the authority of the Catholic/Orthodox Church (which is what created "the Bible" and decreed it to be "canon") the liberals saw it off a little closer to their bums by rejecting both Church tradition and the "Scripture" it created.

Edit: to fix a quote mark.
 1. Anvilicious: like having an anvil dropped on your head.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 03:41:16 AM by kcrady »
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Offline kcrady

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 03:42:55 AM »
Oh yeah, one more thing: The "wrath of God" that Paul speaks of isn't exactly revealed, now, is it?
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

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Offline penfold

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 06:32:38 AM »
[...] if Christianity is true, the ordinary, visible, tangible things of "the created order" ought to plainly, obviously, inescapably reveal and provide conclusive evidence for Yahweh's existence and (at the very least) the key attributes of his invisible nature, and do this so clearly that nobody has any excuse to believe in any other deity or no deity.  In order for the "no excuse" part to hold up, this demonstration of invisible attributes has to be specific enough to exclude similar but outside-the-pale versions of "God," such as the "God" of Greek philosophy and the "God" of Islam.  There's just no way out of this claim.  Paul leaves...well...no excuse.  That reality fails to match Paul's claim is every bit as "plain," as "clearly seen," as self-evident as he expected its truth to be.  For any "Bible-believing" Christian, there is no excuse.  Christianity is false, period.  No excuse.

Well just to play devils advocate.

You are absolutely correct that the natural world, if attended to properly is clearly not anthropocentric (centered around humans); which you've interpreted to be the basis of Paul's claim.

However many of the more liberal and intelligent theologians would agree; they would, however, point out that the universe is anthropogenic (gives rise to humans). They would formulate this in terms of the Goldilocks principle, that were certain physical values (see http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Constants/index.html for a comprehensive list) any different human life would be impossible. Science, as it stands can only measure these values, no scientific theory as yet can explain why these values are set as they are. Not a proof, but possibly an excuse.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 07:25:26 AM »
The third thing to note is that this testable claim applies not only to the level of knowledge Paul could have had access to, but to everything we have discovered since.  If it is so that Yahweh revealed "his invisible nature" in the natural world, we could anticipate ....that we would have found ever larger volumes of proof for the existence and nature of the Christian deity. 

Not entirely sure that follows.  Might be more reasonable to suggest that nothing would be discovered that would detract from the evidence previously available. 

Or possibly it would be reasonable to say that what Paul was saying was correct at that point in time - that his god were obvious then, but who knows what tomorrow may bring?  Even if that much reduced argument were true, though, we should expect to see 100% of the world's population being Christian at that point in time, if it WERE so obvious.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 07:45:07 AM »
[...] if Christianity is true, the ordinary, visible, tangible things of "the created order" ought to plainly, obviously, inescapably reveal and provide conclusive evidence for Yahweh's existence and (at the very least) the key attributes of his invisible nature, and do this so clearly that nobody has any excuse to believe in any other deity or no deity.  In order for the "no excuse" part to hold up, this demonstration of invisible attributes has to be specific enough to exclude similar but outside-the-pale versions of "God," such as the "God" of Greek philosophy and the "God" of Islam.  There's just no way out of this claim.  Paul leaves...well...no excuse.  That reality fails to match Paul's claim is every bit as "plain," as "clearly seen," as self-evident as he expected its truth to be.  For any "Bible-believing" Christian, there is no excuse.  Christianity is false, period.  No excuse.

Well just to play devils advocate.

You are absolutely correct that the natural world, if attended to properly is clearly not anthropocentric (centered around humans); which you've interpreted to be the basis of Paul's claim.

However many of the more liberal and intelligent theologians would agree; they would, however, point out that the universe is anthropogenic (gives rise to humans). They would formulate this in terms of the Goldilocks principle, that were certain physical values (see http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Constants/index.html for a comprehensive list) any different human life would be impossible. Science, as it stands can only measure these values, no scientific theory as yet can explain why these values are set as they are. Not a proof, but possibly an excuse.
BUT... it gave rise to more than human life, as well as life before humans. Plus we dont know about life on other planets, or life that has died out on other planets even in our own solar system, let alone elsewhere.

Offline kcrady

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 08:52:47 AM »
Well just to play devils advocate.

You are absolutely correct that the natural world, if attended to properly is clearly not anthropocentric (centered around humans); which you've interpreted to be the basis of Paul's claim.

However many of the more liberal and intelligent theologians would agree; they would, however, point out that the universe is anthropogenic (gives rise to humans). They would formulate this in terms of the Goldilocks principle, that were certain physical values (see http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Constants/index.html for a comprehensive list) any different human life would be impossible. Science, as it stands can only measure these values, no scientific theory as yet can explain why these values are set as they are. Not a proof, but possibly an excuse.

This approach is beset by a number of fatal flaws.  That apologists (especially Evangelical/Fundamentalist types like William Lane Craig) are willing to reach for this is an indicator of their extreme desperation for any validation, whatsoever.

1. The Specificity of Paul's Claim:

Paul did not assert that, upon observing the Cosmos we might discover some vague possibility that it might possibly have been kindasorta designed or arranged by some sort of intelligent agency or other, klaatu, barada, *coughcoughcough.*  He boldly asserted that people have no excuse to believe in anything but his specific brand of theism.  We shouldn't be left scratching our heads wondering if the Cosmos was made by Christian!Yahweh, Jewish!Yahweh, Allah, Brahman, the Hellenistic Prime Mover, the Heliopolitan Ennead, Arthur C. Clarke's Monolith Builders, or nobody at all.

2. A "Cosmological Constant Arranger" is Bound by Natural Law:

If we want to posit a "Creator" or "Creative Agency" (like a Pantheon or a species of highly-advanced aliens) who want to create a Cosmos suitable for carbon-based life-forms, but who are limited to the methodology of dialing up a set of cosmological constants, pressing the button on their Big Bang-O-Matic and waiting for 14 billion years for something to evolve, then we are not talking about an omnipotent supernatural big-G "God."  The latter could have its human-inhabited Cosmos done in 7 days, or 7 nanoseconds.  The core premise of "cosmological fine-tuning" is that there's one, precise set of values for cosmological constants that could allow for the existence of complex life: the ones that define our Cosmos.  This means that whatever's pressing the button on the Big Bang-O-Matic also has to live in a Cosmos like this one, with the same set of "fine-tuned" constants.  If it were otherwise--i.e., if there's at least one other kind of place, "supernatural" or otherwise, where complex life can exist, then the "fine-tuning" argument falls apart.  The whole point of "fine tuning" is that there aren't multiple possibilities for a life-bearing Cosmos.  In addition, if the purported "fine-tuner" is supposed to be omnipotent then, once again, the "fine-tuning" argument falls apart.  An omnipotent supernatural being would not be bound by physics and thus forced to use a Big Bang and one specific set of cosmological constants as its creative mechanism.  Thus, a "fine-tuned" Cosmos (if it is such) provides compelling evidence against Christianity.

3. Form Follows Function:

The more intelligent and capable a designing agency or entity is, the more perfectly and elegantly it is able to suit form to function.  The Cosmos we inhabit would be stupendously wasteful in both space and time, if it was designed to be a habitat for carbon-based life forms like ourselves.  This would mean either: A) it's designed for some other function, and we are just "along for the ride," like bacteria living on a doorknob in the Large Hadron Collider.[1]  Or; B) The designing agency is limited by physics to an extremely wasteful, slow, and inefficient process for creating a Cosmos for something like humans, and this is the best it can do.  Either way, the Cosmos does not point toward Yahweh as its designer at all.  Furthermore, even if carbon-based life-forms are necessary for the purpose of the Cosmos, that doesn't mean they're its actual purpose.  The Cosmos could have been designed as a habitat for the intelligent machines creatures like us could eventually create and seed out into space, provided that we're able to create technological civilizations.  Given that the function of the Cosmos could wait at least 14 billion years to come to fruition, waiting a few decades to a few centuries for the sapient, post-Singularity machines to come along is nothing.

4. Incompatibility With the Bible:

Even if you want to follow St. Augustine in treating Genesis as non-literal, the Bible is quite clear in asserting that Yahweh intended to create humans specifically (i.e., "created in his image," etc.), with his "moral commandments" set on particulars like prohibiting the consumption of bacon, the wearing of blended fibers, a specific set of sexual behaviors and so on.  Would he have had to come up with completely different rules and a completely different Plan of Salvation if he'd ended up with sapient cuttlefish, or hive-mind creatures?
 1. "Hey!  The conditions here are just right for us to live!  This whole place must have been designed and fine-tuned by the Great Bacterium just for us!"
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Offline kcrady

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 10:04:01 AM »
Not entirely sure that follows.  Might be more reasonable to suggest that nothing would be discovered that would detract from the evidence previously available.

Paul doesn't draw any limits to his claim.  He treats it as a general principle that "that which has been made" provides ironclad proof for [his brand of] Christianity specifically.  The argument could perhaps be made that we would not necessarily expect to find new information about Yahweh and his doctrines as we discovered new things about our world.  So, maybe we would not expect to, say, discover cosmic proof that proper baptism is by immersion only and that Jesus isn't present in the Eucharist after discovering the telescope,[1] but we should still expect the principle that "his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse" would still apply to new discoveries. 

Or possibly it would be reasonable to say that what Paul was saying was correct at that point in time - that his god were obvious then, but who knows what tomorrow may bring?

In that case, Paul's claim would be wrong.  The fact that it seemed valid in his time would be only an accident of history and limited knowledge.  Here's the big problem for the believer: most of the time, ambiguity helps them.  If they can spew enough theological octopus-ink around a claim being scrutinized (such as historical validity of Biblical accounts, the assertion of Yahweh's omnibenevolence and perfect morality, claims about the power of prayer and so on), they get a cloud of murk they can move goalposts around in.  In this case though, ambiguity = excuse.  The whole point of Paul's argument here is that we don't have anywhere to move goalposts.  The truth of [his brand of] Christianity is so inescapable that anybody who doesn't believe it deserves to be punished.  If the passage is transmuted into something like "Well, things sorta looked like Christianity was true in Paul's time, but now we're not so sure, and who knows what tomorrow will bring?" that translates to "It looked like nobody had an excuse for disbelief in Paul's time, but now people kinda do, and we might have even better excuses in the future."

Adding wiggle-room doesn't make Paul's claim of Christianity's "obvious" validity seem stronger or more plausible.  It makes his corollary--that unbelief can only come from obstinate wickedness that deserves to be punished--weaker.

Even if that much reduced argument were true, though, we should expect to see 100% of the world's population being Christian at that point in time, if it WERE so obvious.

Well, Paul's answer to that conundrum is that people profess to disbelieve because they're wicked and depraved, not because there's any possibility that they could be honestly mistaken.
 1. Unless adherence to those doctrines is essential to salvation, in which case they should have been obvious in Paul's time.  His claim is that people have no excuse not to believe the right things, so that Yahweh is justified in punishing them for believing anything else.  So, if we deserve to be punished for not believing in a doctrine, that belief has to be included, otherwise the "no excuse clause" doesn't apply.
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Offline kin hell

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 11:22:09 AM »
Our Scripture passage for today is Romans 1:18-20:

Quote
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
....clearly the creation of god, whole cloth, from Paul's feelings.  And yes, Paul removes all wriggle room because his belief/faith/feelings are so self evident (to him) that the ungodly and wicked who suppress the truth, must be doing so deliberately because Paul's evidence (feelings) are absolutely obvious and incontrovertible (to him).

Thou Art. The Great Fractal Genius as necessary creator.

Paul no doubt perceived (without tools of rational analysis) the great fractal underpinnings, but a life of epiphanies/visions does not necessarily enable accuracies. What it did do was create the perception (and how banal in the predictability) that he "has the key, and it's obvious those who don't see it are wilfully blind ungodly and wicked."
 

"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline penfold

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Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 12:00:39 PM »
This approach is beset by a number of fatal flaws.  That apologists (especially Evangelical/Fundamentalist types like William Lane Craig) are willing to reach for this is an indicator of their extreme desperation for any validation, whatsoever.

1. The Specificity of Paul's Claim:

[...]

2. A "Cosmological Constant Arranger" is Bound by Natural Law:

[...]

3. Form Follows Function:

[...]

4. Incompatibility With the Bible:

[...]

Of course I agree with your analysis. However the god-of-the-gaps theory is tenacious and as things stand there is just enough room to move from the anthropogenic observation to the notion of a creator without engaging in a clear cut fallacy or denial of fact.

I think you did hit the nail on the head by pointing out that even if we were to accept this argument, it would prove a pretty disinterested deity.

One further thought. If as current cosmology suggests the universe is moving towards an open ended 'heat death'; then the period of time when life is possible is an infinitesimal. For every second life is possible there are infinite seconds where it will not be! If this is the plan its a pretty shoddy one.

 :)
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Offline shnozzola

Re: Christianity falsified
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 06:22:24 PM »
Quote
.....who by their wickedness suppress the truth.


   Since becoming an atheist, this partial sentence  would be the type of writing in the bible that I have come to detest.  It shows the narrow-minded view of ancient minds in the quest of truth.  The narrow-minded view of modern minds in the view of people.   The debate of what truth is throughout history - with all the religions, philosophies, etc. - occupy so much of mankind's time.  It is any individual religion that suppresses truth, not the searching and questioning and redefining that history goes through in pursuit of truth.

This passage does condemn Paul's beliefs and writing (he had a few nice words about love).  People need to think through what type of thoughts suppress truth, and what type of thoughts seek it.  How can one think the questioning mind suppresses truth?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 06:25:05 PM by shnozzola »
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