Author Topic: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?  (Read 34672 times)

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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #406 on: May 28, 2013, 07:45:20 PM »
     I think at this stage then, the appropriate questions are "so what ARE heaven and hell like"?  Assuming that I will be spending eternity in one or other, I think it is the most vital question there is to answer - more so even than whether god's character is good or bad or whatever.  When I choose a holiday, I read brochures, look on the web, search pictures, ask others for their experiences....I try to get the best idea I can of where I am going.....for somewhere I will only be for two weeks.  So for eternity?  I want to know exactly what I will be getting myself into, so that I can make an informed choice.  But now you are telling me that the Bible - the single source we have on what these two places are like - does NOT give a literal depiction of either?  So what ARE they like - really?  And how do we know?

     Fair enough, I can understand wanting to know what my 'holiday' is going to be like before I pay the travel agent, but I think the more important thing for me is who I am going to be spending my holiday with.  Let's say your wife (if you are married) or your best friend who knows you very well and whom you really enjoy being with says to you, "I just booked a holiday for the two of us to enjoy together but I want it to be a surprise so I am not telling you where we are going" - would you go?  For me, I look at heaven as being a 'place' where I will be spending time with my best friend and those who share my passion for Christ - the details of the location are insignificant in comparison. 

Offline The Gawd

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #407 on: May 28, 2013, 07:47:48 PM »
What parts of the bible give us a literal or factual description? If the bible is not giving a literal or factual description of heaven or hell, should we take heaven or hell seriously? (Possible answer: we should not take that stuff seriously, but we should be wary of the people who do.)

What is the bible, then, if the most important things in it --say, descriptions of heaven or hell--are not factual? (Possible answer: the bible is a work of historical fiction, ie  set in some real places with some references to real people, not as well-written or as interesting as a Harry Potter book but much longer.)

     The verses describing hell should not be taken as literal descriptions, but that does not mean they are not to be taken seriously.  I think that the essence of hell is final and mutual separation from God whereas heaven would be the opposite.
Why does heaven sound like hell and hell sound like heaven? And since we're here on earth, separated from god (as he cant be around "sin"), what is different between "hell" and earth?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #408 on: May 28, 2013, 07:53:51 PM »
     Fair enough, I can understand wanting to know what my 'holiday' is going to be like before I pay the travel agent, but I think the more important thing for me is who I am going to be spending my holiday with. ...

Not really.  Usually we have a pretty good idea of where we're going first, and who we're going to spend it with is secondary.  You have assurance that you aren't going to be taking a vacation inside the sun - that's primary.  But that's taken for granted when taking a normal old Earthly vacation.

That sort of assumption is impossible in the case of an afterlife.  With Earthly trips, you already have a ton of reliable information, so you can automatically move on to who you're taking the vacation with.  For an afterlife, that's not the case.  If I'm going to be spending eternity in, say, a torture device, then who I'm spending it with is kind of secondary.
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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #409 on: May 28, 2013, 08:03:47 PM »
     Unlikely events happen all the time??  I guess you would know if the nature of God is incoherent because you are pretty good at making logically incoherent statements yourself.
     There is nothing wrong with his statement that unlikely events happen all the time.  They do.  The specific event is unlikely, the only likely thing is that something will happen that the odds were against.  A typical example is shuffling a deck of cards.  The specific arrangement in that deck that results from the shuffling is astronomically unlikely.  However, it happens all the time.  Another example is a lightning strike.  Any particular object getting hit by lightning[1] is very unlikely.  Yet lightning strikes happen all the time.
 1. Lightning rods aside...

     So let's say we are playing poker and I get three royal flushes in a row.  I am assuming that you would be surprised and might even accuse me of cheating, but imagine your consternation if I presumed to use the exact same argument you just presented to me above to explain my good fortune - would you buy it?  Assuming you are correct in your reasoning above, then I think it just reinforces my point that no miracle no matter what it's nature could be considered to be demonstrable evidence for God's existence - if it is just a matter of 'odds' then any miracle could be explained away the same way. 

     Anything that operates in a coherent fashion is natural.  If something truly supernatural existed, then its effects would be completely boundless and the universe as we know it would be destroyed.  If it had bounds, if it had a definite manner of operation, then it would not be supernatural.

     Your first and third sentences seem to be just presuming ontological naturalism - sure, natural things act in a coherent fashion, but how does that say anything about how something supernatural would act?  You are going to have to flesh out your reasoning in the second sentence because I am not sure how you are making the connection between the supernatural and the necessary destruction of the universe - isn't that equivalent to saying that if God did exist it would be logically impossible for him to create anything?

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #410 on: May 28, 2013, 08:07:20 PM »
     Fair enough, I can understand wanting to know what my 'holiday' is going to be like before I pay the travel agent, but I think the more important thing for me is who I am going to be spending my holiday with. ...

     If I'm going to be spending eternity in, say, a torture device, then who I'm spending it with is kind of secondary.

     Sure, but I think my position has been that you will not be spending eternity in a torture device no matter which alternative you choose - that would move your 'secondary' consideration back up into primary standing, would it not?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #411 on: May 28, 2013, 08:51:26 PM »
     So let's say we are playing poker and I get three royal flushes in a row.  I am assuming that you would be surprised and might even accuse me of cheating, but imagine your consternation if I presumed to use the exact same argument you just presented to me above to explain my good fortune - would you buy it?

I would.  The argument wouldn't mean that you weren't cheating, mind you.  But cheating isn't a supernatural occurrence.

Assuming you are correct in your reasoning above, then I think it just reinforces my point that no miracle no matter what it's nature could be considered to be demonstrable evidence for God's existence - if it is just a matter of 'odds' then any miracle could be explained away the same way.

Hardly.  A miracle[1], or collection thereof, could conceivably demonstrate the existence of a god.  For sure.  It just wouldn't demonstrate the existence of the supernatural.

     Your first and third sentences seem to be just presuming ontological naturalism - sure, natural things act in a coherent fashion, but how does that say anything about how something supernatural would act?

It says that something supernatural would act in an incoherent fashion.  Things acting in a coherent fashion is, in effect, the defining characteristic of naturalism.  This is why supernaturalism is incoherent.

You are going to have to flesh out your reasoning in the second sentence because I am not sure how you are making the connection between the supernatural and the necessary destruction of the universe - isn't that equivalent to saying that if God did exist it would be logically impossible for him to create anything?

If a god exists, and interacts with natural existence, then it is natural - not supernatural.  Because if it is supernatural, then its effects are entirely unpredictable.  Its behavior is incoherent.  A miracle that turns water into wine is either a naturalistic process, or it's one whose bounds of effect we can't define.  What boundary conditions would stop it from doing undefinable X, Y, and Z to the universe?  Absolutly nothing.  Because if it were bounded, if it were constrained to act in a coherent fashion, then it would be natural.

I am not arguing against theism.  I am arguing against supernaturalism.  There is a difference.
 1. If we're defining "miracle" as "divine intervention" or something like that.
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Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #412 on: May 29, 2013, 01:32:21 AM »
If a god exists, and interacts with natural existence, then it is natural - not supernatural.  Because if it is supernatural, then its effects are entirely unpredictable.  Its behavior is incoherent.  A miracle that turns water into wine is either a naturalistic process, or it's one whose bounds of effect we can't define.  What boundary conditions would stop it from doing undefinable X, Y, and Z to the universe?  Absolutly nothing.  Because if it were bounded, if it were constrained to act in a coherent fashion, then it would be natural.
Taking this a step further, if there is a creator then there must be a means and method by which he creates. One implication of existing for eternity in an afterlife is that eventually we would discover everything about the process of creation and, in effect, become akin to gods ourselves as we inevitably learn how to harness and utilize this power.

A logical conclusion that few seem to realize[1] is that on an endless timeline everything that can happen will happen. So any singular consciousness that exists eternally will eventually learn all the secrets of the universe, even if it takes millions or even trillions of years, 'cause eternity never ends, yo!

This one fact utterly undermines the foundation of nearly all religious belief.
 1. or simply don't care to discuss
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #413 on: May 29, 2013, 03:18:44 AM »
     I think at this stage then, the appropriate questions are "so what ARE heaven and hell like"?  .....  I want to know exactly what I will be getting myself into, so that I can make an informed choice.  But now you are telling me that the Bible - the single source we have on what these two places are like - does NOT give a literal depiction of either?  So what ARE they like - really?  And how do we know?

     Fair enough, I can understand wanting to know what my 'holiday' is going to be like before I pay the travel agent, but I think the more important thing for me is who I am going to be spending my holiday with.  Let's say your wife (if you are married) or your best friend who knows you very well and whom you really enjoy being with says to you, "I just booked a holiday for the two of us to enjoy together but I want it to be a surprise so I am not telling you where we are going" - would you go?  For me, I look at heaven as being a 'place' where I will be spending time with my best friend and those who share my passion for Christ - the details of the location are insignificant in comparison.

Good dodge - but you are assuming that in heaven you WILL be able to spend time with your best friend.  I might argue that friends are a distraction from god, and that "heaven" is, perhaps, like a vast sphere, with god on the inside in the middle, and the inside of the sphere covered with little single cells that only look out on god - so eternity is communion with god but nobody else.  On the other hand, hell may be no god whatsoever - but the chance to interact with people. 

Is that heaven?  Is that hell?  I don't know.  Which is why your dodge ultimately fails.  If you cannot tell me what heaven or hell are actually like, then your analogy is more like "I've booked you a holiday - but I can't tell you where you are going or who will be with you".

So I'll ask again, to see if you have an answer.  You have said that the Bible - the single source we have on what these two places are like - does NOT give a literal depiction of either heaven or hell.  So what ARE they like - really?  And how do we know?

Seriously, I'm not looking for anything particularly deep.  Just a list of facts about the two - and how we know that they are facts, given that you say most descriptions are not literal.
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?

Online median

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #414 on: May 29, 2013, 03:26:23 AM »
     Besides that, what does the resurrection prove? Unlikely events happen all the time! Where is your critical thinking? What method are you using in which to separate fact from fiction (especially when it pertains to your assumed religion)? We could agree the resurrection happened (but I don't) and still you'd have all of your work ahead of you b/c that wouldn't make it supernatural! Again, you are practicing credulity....And just because I'm feeling charitable, here's mine [what it would take to change my view] in three words: OVERWHELMING DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE.

     Unlikely events happen all the time??  I guess you would know if the nature of God is incoherent because you are pretty good at making logically incoherent statements yourself.  If a man rising from the dead three days after being crucified would not constitute overwhelming demonstrable evidence even if it were true, then there is no such thing as overwhelming demonstrable evidence - that sure sounds like closed-mindedness to me.

WOW! Go read your own words to yourself in the mirror. Can you hear yourself? You don't have a demonstration of a dead man rising from the grave after three days. You have a fricking bronze-age BOOK which CLAIMS this event took place (which you ASSUMED uncritically from the outset - just like all religions do with their claimed holy books) and you're trying to pretend to know something that you DO NOT KNOW! You don't have anything anywhere near overwhelming demonstrable evidence - especially since your story falls severely short of the DEMONSTRABLE part. All you have is a CLAIM - which your mother (likely amongst others) sold you - at an impressionable age - and which you bought wholesale without significant question.

It's so terrible to see such credulity in action. And yes, unlikely events happen...ALL-THE-TIME. I just came from the casino tonight and bought a few scratcher lotto tickets beforehand. Hey, guess what? I won! This must prove Yahweh! Right!? NOPE. And neither do claimed holy books which claim supernatural events. If you accept these magical claims as evidence then 1) your standard of evidence is way too damn low to be trustworthy and 2) you are gullible!

Ancient books from bronze-aged goat herders don't cut it.

So let's say we are playing poker and I get three royal flushes in a row.  I am assuming that you would be surprised and might even accuse me of cheating, but imagine your consternation if I presumed to use the exact same argument you just presented to me above to explain my good fortune - would you buy it?  Assuming you are correct in your reasoning above, then I think it just reinforces my point that no miracle no matter what it's nature could be considered to be demonstrable evidence for God's existence - if it is just a matter of 'odds' then any miracle could be explained away the same way.

But this analogy fails miserably as well. Why? Because the overwhelming demonstrable evidence wouldn't be a miracle! It would be a commonly known, uncontested, non- contraversial (indeed quite trivial) fact (like the fact of water, gravity, or that there are other people). It would be, ME: "Hey man, I'm having trouble in life" FRIEND: "Oh, don't worry here's Jesus' phone number. Let's do a conference call. I'll set it up." Your God's not checking in! In fact, your alleged deity thing is indistinguishable from a non-existent thing.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 03:45:54 AM by median »
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline magicmiles

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #415 on: May 29, 2013, 03:36:37 AM »
You have a fricking bronze-age BOOK

Ever read Socrates or Plato?

I guess the bronze age jibe is selective.
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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #416 on: May 29, 2013, 03:50:21 AM »
You have a fricking bronze-age BOOK

Ever read Socrates or Plato?

I guess the bronze age jibe is selective.

Actually, it's your quotations that are quite selective there sir. Bronze-age books making supernatural/magic claims are nothing like the philosophical writings of those in Athens, Greece, and there abouts. How sad that you didn't think that through before making this post. How embarrassing.

I will put the critical thinking skills of Socrates up against your credulous and illiterate goat herders any day.


“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” - Epicurus (refuting Christianity before it began)
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 04:01:57 AM by median »
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline magicmiles

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #417 on: May 29, 2013, 04:10:15 AM »

Actually, it's your quotations that are quite selective there sir.

Thankyou, Captain Obvious.

Bronze-age books making supernatural/magic claims are nothing like the philosophical writings of those in Athens, Greece, and there abouts. How sad that you didn't think that through before making this post. How embarrassing.

If the writings of the bible can be unfavourably compared to other ancient writings, then there's no need to point out the era in which they're written.

Calling them 'bronze age' implies that fact alone discredits them. Your fondness for Socrates and Plato shows otherwise.


illiterate goat herders any day.

Oh, they're illiterate now as well? Gracious. They did do well to write the New Testament then.

"The little illiterates that could".

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Offline Mrjason

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #418 on: May 29, 2013, 05:54:23 AM »

Actually, it's your quotations that are quite selective there sir.

Thankyou, Captain Obvious.

Bronze-age books making supernatural/magic claims are nothing like the philosophical writings of those in Athens, Greece, and there abouts. How sad that you didn't think that through before making this post. How embarrassing.

If the writings of the bible can be unfavourably compared to other ancient writings, then there's no need to point out the era in which they're written.

Calling them 'bronze age' implies that fact alone discredits them. Your fondness for Socrates and Plato shows otherwise.


illiterate goat herders any day.

Oh, they're illiterate now as well? Gracious. They did do well to write the New Testament then.

"The little illiterates that could".

I think it depends on the context in which you view ancient writings.

The Iliad and the Odyssey are an insight into an ancient peoples culture and values. This makes them an invaluable primary source for anthropologists and historians. They are taken as they are; a collection of cultural stories. This doesn't make them the ideal basis for a religion.
The bible if viewed in the same context as the greek writings is also a fascinating insight into ancient peoples beliefs and culture. However like the Iliad et al this doesn't make it an ideal basis for a religion.

edit IMO

Offline magicmiles

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #419 on: May 29, 2013, 06:33:44 AM »
Just to pick up on two bits here....

That He allows people to live as they please.

For one one-billionth of their (alleged) total existence, yes.  Are you telling me that for my eternal spiritual life I will be allowed to live as I please?  Or is it in fact the case that your god will (in the worst case) dictate what happens to me for the remaining 999,999,999-billionths of my existence?

If I went to heaven, would I be allowed to live there as I pleased?

I don't know those things. What I believe is that humans were created with the purpose of relationship with God, and that having that restored will be like finally coming home.


You are not forced to argue against the existence of God. You want to. You enjoy it.

I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy the intellectual cut-and-thrust of debate.  And I agree that nobody is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to come to this site. 

But I could be gaining just as much intellectual please from arguing about wargames, or books, or whatever.  The fact is that I choose to argue against the existence of god (on this site, and in real life) because I honestly believe it does not exist; because I honestly feel that the results of belief are often bad for the individual; and because I honestly believe that the results of belief are a net "bad" for the world as a whole.

So no - not forced - or at least no more so than any believer who comes here to argue for the other side.

Fair enough. I disagree about the results of belief being a net bad, but I really don't have the energy to get into that atm.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #420 on: May 29, 2013, 07:11:12 AM »
For one one-billionth of their (alleged) total existence, yes......If I went to heaven, would I be allowed to live there as I pleased?

I don't know those things. What I believe is that humans were created with the purpose of relationship with God, and that having that restored will be like finally coming home.

Fair nuff - but same question as to G&W, what do we know about heaven, and how do we know?  Like I say, I will (apparently) be there for the vast, vast majority of my existence, so I want to be sure I'm making the right decision (apparently once you get there, there's no changing your mind).

Quote from: magicmiles
Quote from: Anfauglir
You are not forced to argue against the existence of God. You want to. You enjoy it.

I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy the intellectual cut-and-thrust of debate.  And I agree that nobody is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to come to this site. 

So no - not forced - or at least no more so than any believer who comes here to argue for the other side.

Fair enough. I disagree about the results of belief being a net bad, but I really don't have the energy to get into that atm.

I suspected you would.....  ;D  And, no, don't want to get into that either.  I only put it in to explain why - while not being forced, it was nevertheless more than just a random decision to debate on god as opposed to puppies or tea-trays.


<<edit Fixed Quotes>>
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 08:51:54 AM by Anfauglir »
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 magicmiles

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #421 on: May 29, 2013, 07:49:21 AM »
Forced? How utterly ridiculous. You choose to participate in a forum which aims to attract Christians, who more often than not only involve themselves in a thread once it is already underway.

I said that in order to argue effectively against you, I am forced to step inside of your argument.  Not once did I say I am forced to come here.  You were mistaken. 

The implication, surely though, is that it is necessaty for you to argue against Christianity at all.

Admittedly, I did take that implication and address it rather than the specific claim you made. So I apologise, and yes Azdgari in that sense I concede you were correct to call me on it.


These threads, of course, oscillate through a very predictable cycle of pointing out the apparent horror of living in the richest land on earth and it's prevalance of religion. Then, once the thread has a Christian participating, somebody plasters images of starving African children across the screen. See any irony in that? Claiming to be victims whilst highighting just how good your lives actually are?
I never said that my life was bad.  In fact, I live a great life.  A wonderful life.  In spite of the religious fucktards that I am surrounded by in the bible belt, I've managed to carve out a pretty good existence all on my own, and as long as I remain a semi-closeted atheist (because I fear losing my job to those good, wonderful Christians who might fire me for not believing the same fairy tale as them), I'll continue to live that life.

Yes, my point was more an observation of the forum as a whole. I'm sort of curious though, what life circumstances brought you to the bible belt? New England strikes me as being a much less conservative area of the states. And when you say semi-closeted atheist, does that mean you simply avoid conversations to do with God? Are there such conversations? Surely they know you don't attend church?


Let me ask you MM... Would you judge someone to be a good person if they treated you like a king, but kicked the shit out of millions of other people for what appears to be no reason at all?  Do you have a problem with me judging that person as bad?  Would it not be the height of selfishness to judge him good? 

Hypothetically, and in order: No, no and yes.

But what person are you talking about, and how have they done those things?



The religious intolerance claim is pretty bloody thin. Some more irony: if you're not high fiving each other for being cycnical enough to paste images of starving kids on the screen, you're bitching and moaning about Christians harrassing gay people, or picketing abortion clinics, or whatever. What does that reflect? Dissatisfaction about somebody's freedom to live as they please being screwed with, right? Right? But what's a broken record argument against the existence of the Christian God on the forum? That suffering is allowed to occur. That He allows people to live as they please.

For fucks sake MM, do you even hear what you're saying?  What is the objective difference between a god that doesn't exist and one that 'allows people to live as they please'?  Let me give you a hint... there isn't one.  That's why it's a good argument against the Christian God. 

No, it isn't, because at its core is simply "I can't see God, I can't verify God the way I can verify other things". That can lead you to 'God doesn't exist' or it can lead you to 'God isn't like other things'. Which, of course, He isn't.


We bitch and moan, and rightfully so, against the Christians who harass gay people, picket abortion clinics and the like, precisely because of the reasons you said.

I don't blame anybody for bitching and moaning about that, because that behaviour is, often, reprehensible.

Would you say your compulsion to, for instance, debate at this forum would be diminished if such overt displays of intolerance were non-existent?



The reason people do that stuff is because of their 'belief' in God and their 'belief' that God wants certain things, not because God really exists. 

There are many bad behaviours exhibited by people who try to justify it with Christian beliefs. True. Just as their are many bad behaviours exhibited by people who try to justify it 1000 other ways. In all cases, the root cause of the bad behaviour is not the thing they use to justify it, but rather their own rotten hearts. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.


You are not forced to argue against the existence of God. You want to. You enjoy it.

I believe Christianity and religion are, on the whole, terrible for the world and that is why I think it's important to argue against it.  In that respect, I feel I need to argue against it.  That it's important to argue against it. 

I disagree, but its way too much to get into.


Even if that was true, it doesn't begin to explain the most committed Christians I personally know, the ones force fed atheism through school but recognising God despite it.

LOL!  I think you confuse 'force fed atheism' in schools with 'not teaching Christianity' in schools.

'Force fed atheism' might be a stretch, but I speak from personal experience and significant anecdotal evidence when I say that public school curriculums weigh very heavily towards atheism. I have a good example from my wifes university lecture recently, but it would take forever to type.


You make it sound like school is the only place where children are taught things.

Of course it isn't. They're taught next to nothing at school compared to what they learn from infancy at the hands of that great loungeroom God, the TV. Good luck hearing about God on TV in Australia. Our national broadcaster is overtly anti-Christian.


 People get God from church and being indoctrinated into it.  That's why they get to the kids as early as they can.  They don't withhold religious teaching until a child turns 18, and then hand them 5 different religious books and tell them to pick the right one.  If they did that, then nobody would 'recognize God'. 

Yeah, nobody apart from the thousands upon thousands who do come to faith in God external to that upbringing. And as I said, in my expereince they are the most committed Christians that exist.


I'll have to try and respond to the rest of your post anther time sorry.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 07:54:16 AM by magicmiles »
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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #422 on: May 29, 2013, 10:12:49 AM »
'Force fed atheism' might be a stretch, but I speak from personal experience and significant anecdotal evidence when I say that public school curriculums weigh very heavily towards atheism. I have a good example from my wifes university lecture recently, but it would take forever to type.
magicmiles, could you perhaps give the jist of that example?  I'd like further detail; I exist in the US-of-A and a heavy weighting towards explicit atheism in education is...rare...to say the least.  Would an abstract give sufficient detail or no?
"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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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #423 on: May 29, 2013, 02:29:44 PM »
If the writings of the bible can be unfavourably compared to other ancient writings, then there's no need to point out the era in which they're written.

Calling them 'bronze age' implies that fact alone discredits them. Your fondness for Socrates and Plato shows otherwise.

This is the typical literalism of Christian apologist thinking. You look at every word a person says and interpret it in a light that was not meant (along with ripping words from their sentences). First of all, I said bronze-age goat herders (which is a reference to illiterate gullible men living in pre-scientific Palestine etc). What a rabbit trail it is that you are so hung up on this phrase and have missed the point entirely. If you wish to believe the magical, mystical, supernatural claims of these men (and you're doing so quite uncritically), why not believe the claims of these same types of men living in such places now?

Your attempt to compare the writings of Socrates with that of the alleged supernatural claims of the old and new "testaments" is an epic failure. They are nothing alike! It's actually quite astonishing that you can't see this (but I can understand why you refuse to).

Oh, they're illiterate now as well? Gracious. They did do well to write the New Testament then.

"The little illiterates that could".

HA! You haven't done your homework, have you? Ever heard of scribes? The overwhelming majority of people during that time were illiterate. And more importantly, there are absolutely no contemporary historical accounts of this alleged "Jesus" doing anything miraculous - but even if there you'd still have all of your work ahead of you. It wouldn't mean these events actually happened. Anybody can write down anything hearsay that supposedly happened 50-70 years ago and claim it as fact (nearly all religions try something of this sort). Countless men throughout history have created false religions for one reason or another, and nearly all of them say (or have said) that all of their competitors were false! Again, you are practicing credulity and confirmation bias. You have suspended critical thinking regarding your supposed religion (just as nearly all religionsts do) because you have made an emotional and social investment that would be painful to give up. Can you say, motive?

You have a pre-commitment to your own interpretation of the bible (that it is "the Word of God") which is clouding your ability to make critical judgments about it and causing bias. Why not practice this same bias toward the Koran, The Book of Mormon, or the Hindu Vettas? You do know that members of these religions do that same thing you're doing, and attempt the same types of arguments, don't you?

We are applying the same skepticism (and rightly so) to all of these alleged "holy" books. Why you are unwilling to do that is quite obvious. You have a vested interest in confirmation - and henceforth spin and rationalization. I'll ask it again:

How is this any different from superstition?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 02:35:22 PM by median »
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #424 on: May 29, 2013, 02:44:47 PM »
No, it isn't, because at its core is simply "I can't see God, I can't verify God the way I can verify other things". That can lead you to 'God doesn't exist' or it can lead you to 'God isn't like other things'. Which, of course, He isn't.

Here we go:

[Place any mythical thing you want here] isn't like other things.

Santa isn't like other things.
Unicorn isn't like other things.
The Tooth Fairy isn't like other things.
Horus, Isis, Osiris, Zeus, Zoroaster, Mithra, Allah, Krishna, or Appolonius of Tyana isn't like other things. So they must be real, right! You sound like an eight year old who claims to have an invisible friend named "Fred" and says, "He's real! I know he's real no matter what you say!" In the history of religion, doesn't this sound familiar?

Yay! You've just accomplished a failed rationalization attempt. The history of superstitious SPIN has no bounds.

Do you even care whether or not your beliefs are actually true?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 02:53:50 PM by median »
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #425 on: May 29, 2013, 03:11:27 PM »
If religious belief seemed to make even a slight positive difference in the overall well-being of people, I think most of us would concede that religion served a net positive role. Even if there was no god, if people believing in a god made things better, and did not make things worse, why not?

But that is not what we see in the world. The more religious influence there is in a society or government, the worse off the people are, relatively speaking. that holds for regions of countries as well as entire countries. It also does not matter what the religion is. Strongly religious places, where people make more of their life decisions for supernatural reasons, suck way more than secular places, where people base more of their decisions on scientific facts, rationality and reason.

That is the why people post the images of starving children. Not because atheists like to look at them and laugh. Not because atheists don't do anything to help other people-- we do, and without any religious reasons.  It is because those starving children are almost always in places where people are extremely religious-- and are constantly begging supernatural beings for help. Which they never get. No starving region has ever had food and water appear magically from a supernatural source.

Where is the god that supposedly loves and cares for those children? Where is the god that supposedly protects the most vulnerable? We see no evidence of such love, care and protection-- except that provided by other human beings, no god necessary.

Religious people have to bend themselves into ridiculous semantic and logical knots to explain these facts, when they acknowledge them at all:

....god's ways are not our ways, we have to trust in god to know best, god does things on his own time schedule, it is all a part of god's big plan, those children are in heaven now, those people have the wrong religion, they did not pray correctly with the right level of sincerity, their faith was not strong enough, god's love is so profound that puny humans can't comprehend it, Satan is temporarily in charge, if god intervened directly people would not have any reason for faith, god works through human beings now, people suffer because of sin.

And so on, saying things that in any other (non-religious) context would be considered completely insane, incredibly callous or childishly naive.

None of those excuses religious people give for god's apparent inaction in the face of extreme situations accounts for a)the strange phenomena of most people in secular, godless countries not starving or suffering much at all; b) the insistence that god can do any magical thing he wants to; c) the idea that god is the source of all goodness and love; d) god used to intervene in people's lives all the time, if the holy books are true; e) animals, who presumably commit no sins, also suffer.

What can an objective observer conclude but: there is no god or god is not nice and kind like people say he is. Either god is an evil, uncaring prick who ignores or even causes earthly suffering, or no such being exists. One makes more sense, and is way less scary. :-\
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #426 on: May 29, 2013, 04:21:17 PM »
amen and hallalujah to what nogodsforme just said said above.  will be printing that off to memorize.

I hate when my fomer life sayings pop up like that (amen, etc) but damn... that was good stuff there
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #427 on: May 29, 2013, 08:40:30 PM »
The implication, surely though, is that it is necessaty for you to argue against Christianity at all.
No, it's not.  But let's drop that for now.  It's not important.  Your apology is accepted. 

Yes, my point was more an observation of the forum as a whole. I'm sort of curious though, what life circumstances brought you to the bible belt? New England strikes me as being a much less conservative area of the states. And when you say semi-closeted atheist, does that mean you simply avoid conversations to do with God? Are there such conversations? Surely they know you don't attend church?

My wife likes warmer weather and hates cold winters. 

Yes, I avoid most conversations about God, especially at work.  When people say blessings at dinner, I don't participate.  When I go to my kids school functions and they say the pledge, I don't say 'under God'.  When people talk about 'good Christian folk', I secretly roll my eyes.  When I see Facebook posts with God in them, I don't respond.  When people ask me where I go to church, I tell them that I'm not a big church goer, but I do tell them about how my wife goes quite often.  When I am forced (asked by my wife, whom I love, and would do anything for) to go to church, which is not often, I go quietly and don't pester the speakers with questions that I'm dying to ask. 

If you think my fear is irrational, let me ask you this... who runs a higher risk of having their vehicle vandalized?  The person with the Jesus bumper sticker being vandalized by an atheist, or the one with the atheist bumper sticker being vandalized by a Christian? 

Hypothetically, and in order: No, no and yes.
But what person are you talking about, and how have they done those things?
I'm talking about God.  And God has done all of those things.  I don't see how you can argue he hasn't.  If he exists, either he stands by and watches death on massive scales without lifting a finger, or he causes it.  There is no other possibility.  And either way, it doesn't look good. 

No, it isn't, because at its core is simply "I can't see God, I can't verify God the way I can verify other things". That can lead you to 'God doesn't exist' or it can lead you to 'God isn't like other things'. Which, of course, He isn't.
So if I believed that there was a single, all powerful being, who was the ultimate evil in all the universe, and the reason I gave you for all the good things that happen in the world was 'I can't verify God the way I verify other things', what would you think of my reasoning?  If an evil God exists, good isn't reasonable, is it?  I mean seriously... its just not.  He wouldn't allow good things to happen, but good things DO happen. 

If I said to you that the reason my evil God lets good things happen is because 'my evil God isn't like other things', what would you say to me?  It's a massively stupid argument.  It's just more reasonable, given that good and bad things happen with high regularity, that no good or bad god exists at all. 

I don't blame anybody for bitching and moaning about that, because that behaviour is, often, reprehensible.

Would you say your compulsion to, for instance, debate at this forum would be diminished if such overt displays of intolerance were non-existent?
I don't get mad for people holding ridiculous beliefs.  If you want to believe that Santa lives in your basement, feel free.  Just keep it to yourself.  The answer is an absolute yes... if those displays of intolerance were non-existent, I wouldn't come here. 

There are plenty of subjects out there that I disagree with people on that I don't get heated about.  The reason I don't visit their sites is because they aren't as dangerous to the rest of the world. 


There are many bad behaviours exhibited by people who try to justify it with Christian beliefs. True. Just as their are many bad behaviours exhibited by people who try to justify it 1000 other ways. In all cases, the root cause of the bad behaviour is not the thing they use to justify it, but rather their own rotten hearts. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.
Our actions are a product of our beliefs MM. If you are raised in a religion that says gays are bad, that's the sort of person you become.  Do you know of any atheists who are rabidly anti-gay?  No?  I didn't think so.  Why do you suppose that is? 
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

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #428 on: May 30, 2013, 03:00:38 PM »
Our actions are a product of our beliefs MM. If you are raised in a religion that says gays are bad, that's the sort of person you become.  Do you know of any atheists who are rabidly anti-gay?  No?  I didn't think so.  Why do you suppose that is?

That is easy, Gay = unrepentent sinner = Evil ......   Atheist = Unrepentent Sinner = Evil  of course Atheists support Gays it is all part of Satan's plan. 


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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #429 on: May 31, 2013, 12:18:13 AM »
     Why does heaven sound like hell and hell sound like heaven? And since we're here on earth, separated from god (as he cant be around "sin"), what is different between "hell" and earth?
     If a relationship with Christ means absolutely nothing to you right now, then adding or subtracting it from an 'equation' isn't going to make much difference (hence the 'sound alikeness' of heaven and hell).  Also, if you can in no way accept a disembodied existence after death or accept relational separation (beyond just a lack of physical proximity) then 'hell' and existence on earth are going to have rather blurry boundaries as well. 

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #430 on: May 31, 2013, 12:22:34 AM »
     So let's say we are playing poker and I get three royal flushes in a row.  I am assuming that you would be surprised and might even accuse me of cheating, but imagine your consternation if I presumed to use the exact same argument you just presented to me above to explain my good fortune - would you buy it?

I would.  The argument wouldn't mean that you weren't cheating, mind you.  But cheating isn't a supernatural occurrence.

     In that case, put an add in the paper for poker buddies; you will have a line up of people a mile long at your door before you know it. 

I am not arguing against theism.  I am arguing against supernaturalism.  There is a difference.

     Well then, let me be crystal clear in saying that I am arguing for supernaturalism – what Christian isn’t attempting to do the same when she presents ‘evidence’ for the existence of God?

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #431 on: May 31, 2013, 12:29:57 AM »
     Things acting in a coherent fashion is, in effect, the defining characteristic of naturalism.  This is why supernaturalism is incoherent.

     You claim that a necessary property of anything that is ‘natural’ is that it must act in a coherent manner (“acting in a coherent fashion is, in effect, the defining characteristic of naturalism”).  I am assuming that by ‘coherent’ you intend to convey notions of predictability, logical consistency, or metaphysical necessity.  I will certainly grant you that the observational experience of homo erectus has been that nature is characterized by predictable patterns, but this does not in any way imply metaphysical necessity.  For all we know, that perceived pattern could revert to an unpredictable pattern in the future; there is nothing logically inconsistent about a rock falling up, it just hasn’t happened in our experience – all things being equal of course.  So you need to explain to me why you think that nature must be predictable, which is totally different from saying that in order to learn about nature we must expect predictable patterns.  No number of observations, no matter how great, can lead to necessary predictability, only expected predictability.

     It seems to me that in the second sentence you have used the word ‘incoherent’ in a different way from the way you used the word 'coherent' in the first sentence.  When describing nature I think your intention was to say something about the predictability of nature; however, in the second sentence it seems like you are saying that if God’s behavior is unpredictable then the concept of God is logically inconsistent.  I don’t think that logical inconsistency is at all demonstrated by mere unpredictability; if it did then you would have an argument against the existence of God.  In actuality, unpredictability could not possibly be an argument against the existence of any being.  I could suddenly act in an unpredictable way on this forum (e.g. I could randomly insert a swear word into my sentence).  That would be perceived by you to be in drastic contrast to the persona that I have presented so far (e.g. unpredictable), but I don’t think that you would consider the possibility of my doing so to be logically impossible nor do I think that you would therefore infer that I don’t exist.


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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #432 on: May 31, 2013, 12:34:32 AM »
     It [a miracle] says that something supernatural would act in an incoherent fashion.

     Let’s say for the sake of argument that God did cause a miracle (e.g. turning water to wine or raising a man from the dead).  If God can act in nature in ways that do not conform to the usual pattern of nature (which is kind of the point of a miracle is it not?) then surely God could also act in nature in ways that do conform to the pattern that we normally observe.  If God did regularly act in nature (e.g. his continuing divine providence in creation) how would you know?  It certainly wouldn’t be from the ‘normal’ events themselves.   Furthermore, if God did cause a miracle in order to communicate something to us it would obviously seem ‘unpredictable’ from our vantage point, but that is kind of a necessity when communicating with someone – you have to do something that gets their attention.  If the communication wasn’t ‘different’ somehow, then we would never recognize it as communication.     

     What boundary conditions would stop it [God] from doing undefinable X, Y, and Z to the universe?  Absolutly nothing. 

     What ‘undefinable’ actions are you worried God might do to the universe and how do you know that God has not done X, Y, and Z already?  If the actions you propose are ‘undefinable’ then you have no way of detecting the consequent effects and no reason to worry about them - the question is meaningless. 

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #433 on: May 31, 2013, 12:40:42 AM »
     If a god exists, and interacts with natural existence, then it is natural - not supernatural. 

     Two separate and distinct entities can share a property in common while at the same time maintaining their distinctness, so long as the property is possessed in differing extents or so long as there are other properties that ensure distinctness.  It is logically fallacious to assume that because you identify nature as ‘anything that acts in a predictable manner’ therefore God can never act in a predictable fashion.  If two entities (e.g. God and nature) share at least one property in common then there can be interaction.  The proposition that God interacts with nature in no way indicates that God holds all identifying properties in common with nature.  I share the property of extensibility with the rock in my back yard, but I am distinct from it in the sense that I possess other properties that the rock does not have.

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #434 on: May 31, 2013, 12:43:28 AM »
     Taking this a step further, if there is a creator then there must be a means and method by which he creates. One implication of existing for eternity in an afterlife is that eventually we would discover everything about the process of creation and, in effect, become akin to gods ourselves as we inevitably learn how to harness and utilize this power.  A logical conclusion that few seem to realize[1] is that on an endless timeline everything that can happen will happen. So any singular consciousness that exists eternally will eventually learn all the secrets of the universe, even if it takes millions or even trillions of years, 'cause eternity never ends, yo!  This one fact utterly undermines the foundation of nearly all religious belief.
 1. or simply don't care to discuss

     You fail to make a crucial distinction between knowledge (the perception of certain states of affairs) and power (the ability to actualize certain states of affairs).  Even if you could learn everything there is to know about how God created the universe that fact doesn’t mean that you would have the power to do it yourself any more than my possible complete knowledge of how Sydney Crosby learned to play hockey would not enable me to actually play in the NHL.  Knowledge and power are two distinct concepts. 
     
     In my opinion it is absurd to think that “on an endless timeline everything that can happen will happen”; you see, it is a legitimate possibility that you can in fact become a Christian.  Personally I don’t think that an endless timeline guarantees this because I think that there are other factors involved rather than just ‘time’.  You are obviously not a Christian and I am assuming that this is not the case because you feel that you have good reasons not to be one – reasons that you think are grounded in reality.  But if that is the case, why would time make any difference; if you are logically convinced of something, wouldn’t eternity (the chance to review the unimpeachable logic of your conclusions an infinite number of times) just strengthen your resolve to not become a Christian?  If you still insist that shear time would actualize every possibility then you must also realize that there is nothing about your observation that says when something must be actualized, and in that case there is no reason why you shouldn’t just convert to Christianity right now – if time is the only consideration then there is no difference between converting now or 10 years from now or even 10,000 years from now.