Author Topic: Interesting Point [#1548]  (Read 260 times)

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Offline DL

Interesting Point [#1548]
« on: July 06, 2009, 11:22:07 PM »
To whom it may concern:

I ran across your youtube clip and website.  I commend you for bringing
forth relevant questions that all should ask themselves, regardless of their
current beliefs.  Please excuse me if my email is a bit longer than the
customary "Per our conversation yada yada business jargon" email, as the
issues you have raised are worthy of a response to match them. Before I
directly respond, I will preface by saying I am a Christian, and would like
to respond with a tone of mutual respect in the spirit of intelligent
conversation.  Believe it or not, I enjoy such conversations for their
intrinsic value without hidden motives of "converting people".  I must admit
that many in my camp are mindless sheep who have, out of fear, refused to
look in the mirror and ask such hard, relevant questions.  I have asked
similiar yet different questions and always allow my faith to be
challenged.  If I am wrong, may the truth be revealed, If I am right or
close, then what do I have to be afraid of?

Per your prerequisites of the video, allow me to qualify myself with some
credentials of formal education and critical thinking skills.  I hold a BBA
in Finance from a state school in Texas.  In addition, I recently sat for
level II of the CFA exam on June 6th of this year.  In college I took an
upper level finance course covering deriveative securities such as futures
and options.  I say this becasue this class exposed me to logic 101; we used
logical arguments as the relate to the "correct price" or arbitrage free
value of a deriveative security.  It was real simple and went like this:
based on x, y, and z, the price must be xxx, because if not arbitrage
profits would be available and supply and demand forces would force the
price back to this value.  We benefited from light exposure to Modus Ponens
and other methods of logic.  I am not an expert, but I have had some
exposure and I apply the basics to things outside of Wall Street, including
the questions of religion/sprituality.

Let me respond to the questions you asked.  I have the same answer for all
of them and it is this...I don't know!!  However, I refuse to allow myself
to interject some serendipitous explanation of tragedy as a tool to dismiss
the relevant questions you have posed and then go about my day to run from
what every "religious" person fears the most...doubt.  In fact I think about
those topics all the time.  Those things you mentioned truly bother me in
their intrinsic sense and to a lesser extent the reconciliation challenges
the present to a case for God, if you will.  However, if I do discover a
truthful answer that is not some BS copout I will certainly get back to
you!!!  I am very uncomfortable dismissing every occurrence of tragedy or
suffering as acts of providence and predestination that all come together
for the greater good.  I think you are right on the money by way of
asserting that such responses are a convenient copout.  Let me take it a
step further, I call it down right cowardly.  And when I say I'll get back
to you, this was not a rhetorical statement.  I have (or used to have) a
career, hobbies, etc, but I allocate large blocks of time to the discovery
of truth.  My response of your questions leads me directly to a question
that I would have for you.

As Robert DeNiro said in Heat, "There is a flip side to that coin".  Your
(logical) argument involved the existence of a fact.  This fact (or
question) does not reconcile with a God who has the character of someone
loving or caring.  It has no tangible explanation of substance that is
satisfactory to you or me for that matter.  The only attempt is to explain
it with God's mystical will and providence.  The point being, after
dismissing explanations that are not worth the paper they are written on,
that such occurrences make more sense when viewed through the paradigm of no
existing God.

Allow me to borrow your framework to pose a couple of questions to you.  I
can only think of a couple of the top of my head, as I have just ran across
your website, but given enough time, it is possible to increase to a
matching 10.  I pose to you these questions, which, without the paradigm of
a God EXISTING, do not make much sense either:

Alcoholism and addiction.  I encourage you to research and run due diligence
on alcoholics who have successfully recovered. There have been documented
many hopeless cases who subsequently found sobriety after a petition to God
for help had been submitted.  I won't go into detail, however if you are
sincere in your inquisitive nature as I believe you to be, tangible evidence
of this phenomenom is a Google click away.
Peter, the disciple of Jesus.  Peter denied Christ 3 times out of fear of
the consequences of his association with Jesus.  Later, this same man
somehow found the courage to face martyrdom and requested to hang from the
cross upside down because he felt unworthy to be hung like Jesus.  How do
you explain a wuss who betrayed a friend spontaneously growing the balls to
face physical pain and death except when looked at though the context of him
witnessing the Resurrection of Jesus?  Without that, you would have to
suggest a rationalization, such as, "Well he felt guilty for his previous
betrayal and wanted to redeem himself etc."  Any other explanation along
these lines would be as weak as the rationalization you mentioned on your
video from the questions you posed.
I hope that you are as willing to consider my (logical) arguments as much as
I will go forth and consider yours.  In conclusion, I would like to offer a
catch all based on the legend of Constantine.  I have doubts toward the
truth of this, but let me give the cliff notes version for the purpose of
extracting and illustrating a principle I would like to propose.  Long story
short, Constantine was behind the 8 ball in battle, and, out of desperation,
knocked on the door of the God of the Christians for help to see if anyone
was home.  Legend has it after praying to a God he was not sure was there, a
sign appeared to him in the sky with a cross and the Latin equivalent of "In
this sign you will conquer".  Did this really happen.  It is indeed a
stretch.

The principle I would like to suggest is a shortcut to the debate of the
existence of God.  Ask him if He is there.  Knock on the door.  If He is
not, how can he answer?  If He is real I don't believe a loving and caring
God that myself and others proclaim would say "No, F you, I am not going to
tell you the truth about my existence."  If you have an open mind, there is
no risk to that experiment.

I believe we can both agree on this:  the pursuit of truth is something to
be valued, and those who pursue it diligently will find it.  This is where
you and I are in the same camp.  I refuse to be spoon fed myths without
stress testing them.  I encourage you to keep seeking truth as I will
continue to do the same.  I wish you the best regards and thank you for a
relevant, respectful criticism of Christianity as opposed to a mindless
insult that makes no sense.

I recently emailed a pastor at a nearby church because I disagreed with
something he mentioned on his website and asked him to pray about and
reconsider his position.  Apparently it fell on deaf ears because I have not
received a response.  I hope this will not be the case with you or your
group, as an educated, critical thinking person should welcome respectful
dialogue.

[name]

Offline DL

Re: Interesting Point [#1548]
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2009, 11:31:42 PM »
Alcoholism and addiction.  I encourage you to research and run due diligence
on alcoholics who have successfully recovered. There have been documented
many hopeless cases who subsequently found sobriety after a petition to God
for help had been submitted.  I won't go into detail, however if you are
sincere in your inquisitive nature as I believe you to be, tangible evidence
of this phenomenom is a Google click away.

I typed "religion alcoholism" into Google.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=religion+alcoholism

First result:

The impact of personality and religion on attitude towards substance use among 13–15 year olds

Quote
A sample of 11173 13–15 year old secondary school pupils completed a scale of attitude towards substance use alongside the short form of the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, measures of personal religiosity and an index of denominational identity. The data demonstrate that a negative attitude toward substance use is associated with tendermindedness, introversion, stability and social conformity. Personal religiosity and membership of Protestant sects are also positively correlated with rejection of substance use, even after controlling for individual differences in personality.


Offline none

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Re: Interesting Point [#1548]
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2009, 11:39:02 PM »
Quote
A sample of 11173 13–15 year old secondary school pupils completed a scale of attitude towards substance use alongside the short form of the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, measures of personal religiosity and an index of denominational identity. The data demonstrate that a negative attitude toward substance use is associated with tendermindedness, introversion, stability and social conformity. Personal religiosity and membership of Protestant sects are also positively correlated with rejection of substance use, even after controlling for individual differences in personality.
followers make better subjects.

Offline Kntrabssi

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Re: Interesting Point [#1548]
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2009, 12:11:17 AM »
I want to start out by saying this is a much more refreshing mail bag post than some of the other ones we get around here.  Good for you for keeping an open mind  :)
Alcoholism and addiction.  I encourage you to research and run due diligence
on alcoholics who have successfully recovered. There have been documented
many hopeless cases who subsequently found sobriety after a petition to God
for help had been submitted.  I won't go into detail, however if you are
sincere in your inquisitive nature as I believe you to be, tangible evidence
of this phenomenom is a Google click away.
This really stuck out to me, because I used to be an alcoholic.  By that I mean I drank every day, multiple times a day, and was stone-faced drunk probably 4 times per week.  I'm not saying I was the worst alcoholic in the world, but two days without a beer was akin to 2 days without a cigarette to a pack a day smoker (something I also have experience with).  I have since given up alcohol altogether, without turning to a god.  Could I be the exception to the rule?  Possibly.  But is it more likely that people turn to God for the same reason people turn to their friends and family?  For support?  Alcoholics Anonymous is a religious organization, as well as being the foremost group for recovering alcoholics.  If you asked me, I would surmise that the reason so many people find God when kicking booze is because they are required to accept a higher power as part of their recovery.  In fact, step 2 of the 12 step programs you hear so much about is "[we] Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."  It seems to me that effective groups that use 12 step programs could acheive the same or similar results without the inclusion of this step.  But I could be wrong...

Quote
Peter, the disciple of Jesus.  Peter denied Christ 3 times out of fear of
the consequences of his association with Jesus.  Later, this same man
somehow found the courage to face martyrdom and requested to hang from the
cross upside down because he felt unworthy to be hung like Jesus.  How do
you explain a wuss who betrayed a friend spontaneously growing the balls to
face physical pain and death except when looked at though the context of him
witnessing the Resurrection of Jesus?  Without that, you would have to
suggest a rationalization, such as, "Well he felt guilty for his previous
betrayal and wanted to redeem himself etc."  Any other explanation along
these lines would be as weak as the rationalization you mentioned on your
video from the questions you posed.

I think a more fair argument would be that the incident you point out may well have never happened.  The gospels which account the life of Christ were written many decades after the fact.  It is entirely possible that these gospels were either fabricated or "misremembered" (as Roger Clemens would put it). 

Secondly, people have died for many causes which they believe in.  Many other religions demanded human sacrifice to appease angry gods, and those sacrificed considered it an honor.  Does that make their god any more credible than the god of the Bible?  If Peter really did die at the cross with Jesus (I personally have a hard time believing most all of this story), what's to say he was brainwashed in the same way Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or any similar leaders brainwashed their people? 

Quote
I hope that you are as willing to consider my (logical) arguments as much as
I will go forth and consider yours.  In conclusion, I would like to offer a
catch all based on the legend of Constantine.  I have doubts toward the
truth of this, but let me give the cliff notes version for the purpose of
extracting and illustrating a principle I would like to propose.  Long story
short, Constantine was behind the 8 ball in battle, and, out of desperation,
knocked on the door of the God of the Christians for help to see if anyone
was home.  Legend has it after praying to a God he was not sure was there, a
sign appeared to him in the sky with a cross and the Latin equivalent of "In
this sign you will conquer".  Did this really happen.  It is indeed a
stretch.

I would respond with the same argument I presented above: It's more likely that this never happened.  As far as I know, there is only one, less than reputable source for these stories.  It would be equally valid for me to ask if Aslan being resurrected in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe suggests that armoirs can transport us to mysterious lands.

Quote
The principle I would like to suggest is a shortcut to the debate of the
existence of God.  Ask him if He is there.  Knock on the door.  If He is
not, how can he answer?  If He is real I don't believe a loving and caring
God that myself and others proclaim would say "No, F you, I am not going to
tell you the truth about my existence."  If you have an open mind, there is
no risk to that experiment.

I think you'll find that many of us here, as well as many atheists in general, are actually "deconverted" Christians or believers or other religions (myself included).  We've tried asking if God was there, and for some of us, we believe he answered.  It was only later, after taking a long, hard look at the mythology we were being taught, and doing a lot of research on the important questions that we realized we were only talking to ourselves.

Quote
I believe we can both agree on this:  the pursuit of truth is something to
be valued, and those who pursue it diligently will find it.
  This is where
you and I are in the same camp.  I refuse to be spoon fed myths without
stress testing them.  I encourage you to keep seeking truth as I will
continue to do the same.  I wish you the best regards and thank you for a
relevant, respectful criticism of Christianity as opposed to a mindless
insult that makes no sense.
I could not agree more with you here.  In fact, I would take it a step further to say that the pursuit of truth is the most important thing we can do with our lives.  When we are on our deathbeds, it won't matter how far we got in our jobs, how much money we made or how big our houses are.  What will matter is our outlook on and understanding of life.

Quote
I recently emailed a pastor at a nearby church because I disagreed with
something he mentioned on his website and asked him to pray about and
reconsider his position.  Apparently it fell on deaf ears because I have not
received a response.  I hope this will not be the case with you or your
group, as an educated, critical thinking person should welcome respectful
dialogue.

Unlike many of those in the Church, we prefer to face our detractors  :)

I very much appreciate your message, and hope to see you around here often.  I think you are heading down the same path that myself and many others here have headed down.  Confronting the things that don't make sense about religion is the first step.  Who knows, maybe you'll find the answers make more sense without God than they do with him.  Happy hunting! 
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
-Carl Sagan

Offline kin hell

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Re: Interesting Point [#1548]
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2009, 09:47:00 AM »

Quote
The principle I would like to suggest is a shortcut to the debate of the
existence of God.  Ask him if He is there.  Knock on the door.  If He is
not, how can he answer?

To shortcut the debate, you did get an answer? Is that what you are saying?

Could you offer any proof beyond personal "feelings"?

Religion is an inherited framework, an artefact of god-invention.

Please do not misread my short post/query as disinterest, but no matter your reasoned polite interest and thoughts, you have not brought any further credible proof of a god.

And truthfully, your inability to answer any of the questions that brought you here (with anything other than an "I don't know") seems to be a very good starting point for you to question whether your god exists at all. 

I have seen christians choosing which part of their god myth to believe, and which parts are repugnant or unacceptable, described as cafeteria christians here. It is not necessarily a rude attack, but is a slightly dismissive term for the self projection as god, many erudite and educated christians choose to practise.

I hope you join this forum, it is always a welcome bonus to have a thinking christian to converse with.

I live in hope that your intellectual honesty might bring you freedom somewhere down the road.

 kh
"...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