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Main Discussion Zone => General Religious Discussion => Topic started by: median on April 25, 2013, 02:40:24 PM

Title: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on April 25, 2013, 02:40:24 PM
Many Christians accuse atheists of being closed to the idea of God. Likewise, many of us atheists argue that theists are doxastically closed to revising their beliefs. I think an effective way of spurring change is to demonstrate that which we would like to see from the other side. So what would it take in order for you to change your view? Please answer as honestly as you can.

FOR THEISTS:

What would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God? Please be as specific as you can.

FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?


It is true that some atheists are also doxastically closed, and this thread is designed (at least in part) to show just how closed each person (theist or atheist) may or may not be. So, are you open? Are you closed? Or are you somewhere in between? Let's discuss it and find out.


NOTE:  For reasons that should be obvious I am very curious to know what you theists have to contribute here. So please chime in ASAP.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: One Above All on April 25, 2013, 02:41:45 PM
BM
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: naemhni on April 25, 2013, 02:44:13 PM
What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

My thoughts on this are more or less the same as Greta Christina's.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2010/07/19/what-would-convince-this-atheist-to-believe/
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Petey on April 25, 2013, 02:45:16 PM
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

The short, short version: evidence.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Dante on April 25, 2013, 02:46:12 PM

FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

Corroborating scientific evidence. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, possibly, a personal experience of my own could get me to thinking that there could be something I've missed all these years, but I probably wouldn't use it as concrete evidence.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Nick on April 25, 2013, 02:53:27 PM
Cure an amputee.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on April 25, 2013, 03:22:41 PM
Bearing in mind that I'm a skeptic rather than an atheist...

I would expect to see evidence that the deity was actually involved in the world.  Unambiguous visitations and clearly-answered prayers, for example.  Furthermore, that the deity would back up things that he claimed or that others claimed on his behalf, and more importantly, disavow things that were falsely claimed on his behalf.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: rev45 on April 25, 2013, 04:57:33 PM
A god could come up with an infinite number of ways to make me believe, ways that I couldn't even think of.  If it wanted to, it could make me change my mind about it just by looking at a snowflake or the leaves falling off a tree.  A child's laughter or my dog snoring loudly.  If it so wanted.

Other than that I have two ways that would convince me, one that would be a personal experience or one that would be a public display of it's power. 

First, for my job I'm a rural mail carrier.  I spend a lot of my time driving out in the middle of corn fields going from house to house.  So I would want this god on a clear sunny day, to send a huge tornado made of Skittles candy careening across my path.  After the tornado has gone away I want it to audibly say which god it is.  That will keep me from still having to guess which god caused my Skittles tornado.  And yes it must, must be Skittles, no other candy allowed.  If it can't make the tornado out of Skittles then I will question it's all powerfulness.  And I've had people automatically tell me that this would never happen.  Apparently I'm the only one with enough faith to think that it can.

Or number two.  I would like to see another Elijah like battle of the gods.  A contest like Elijah had with the followers of Baal.  Only this time we gather leaders of every religion and every denomination.  The pairings will be drawn at random.  We allow each leader to call on their god to strike down the leader of the opposing god.  This would continue until one person is left standing.  Although I would seriously need to reassess my atheist position if we make it past round one.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: shnozzola on April 25, 2013, 05:16:10 PM
   My wife has worked with people that live beside a cemetery.  They say yeah, no doubt, there are ghosts that carry on there.  I said, have them invite us for a late supper.  That would be a start into proving some kind of realm.  I'd welcome  that.  Alas, never got invited.  Maybe my wife and I should just go there and camp for a week - police, jail, lost jobs, and I pretty much guarantee we  would never see or hear anything suspicious in the center of a cemetery.    Too bad, but that's reality - no gods, no dragons, nothing.  I guess we could value and take care of the real oak trees, newly developed american chestnut trees, turtles, elephants, eagles, etc.  more.  :)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: ParkingPlaces on April 25, 2013, 05:45:11 PM
My atheist view. It would require something that removes both "belief" and "faith" from the equation. Only fake religions should need those components.

I would want to know, unequivocally. If there is a god, like rev45 said, he knows how to do that.

By the way, knowing that he exists and worshipping him are two different things. Just knowing he exists does not guarantee I will become a follower. He's gonna have to earn my respect. He can't demand it. if he exists, he didn't give me the genetic ability to operate any other way.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Astreja on April 25, 2013, 05:47:52 PM
I'm quite open to the possibility of god-like beings existing, but take a strong agnostic POV when dealing with the problem of accurately identifying such a god.  Think of it this way:


As for gods, an afterlife or a spirit realm, I think I'd have to experience them in person before I felt anything resembling belief.  My mind has a really hard time getting hypothetical entities to "stick" unless they're backed up by a considerable amount of Real.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: wright on April 25, 2013, 06:35:38 PM
Good question, median.

I like Ms. Christina's standards, as kindly referenced by pianodwarf: an unambiguous message (directed not just at me but everyone worldwide simultaneously), very specific prophecies of contemporary events in holy texts, and at least one or two religious faiths whose believers are far better off (health, prosperity, overall well-being) than anyone else. A highly-advanced technology might be capable of pulling that off, but those kinds of things would be a start towards convincing me.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on April 25, 2013, 07:04:44 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGYk0nf4Ono

Just substitute the word 'money' for 'body'. (If you could substitute Tom Cruise for Sean Penn that would also be good)

Christianity lives and dies on the claimed resurrection. If there was some way of confirming that Jesus stayed in the tomb then fry me a baby and call me a heathen.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Hierophant on April 25, 2013, 07:06:07 PM
Quote
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

Nothing could make me believe in a God, an afterlife or an immaterial spiritual realm. No amount of evidence could possibly make me believe that there are such things. As I posted on the "What is your religious position" thread:

Not only am I a 7 on the Dawkins scale, but I don't see why any atheist would not be such (if not a 7, at least a 6.999... recurring). If you know there are no leprechauns, fairies or rock people (and that if we found evidence of something like them, we still wouldn't associate real-life facts with creatures of myth any more than we associate a picture of Jesus on toast with a real Jesus), and you understand gods as being mythical creatures, then you should also know there are no gods.

Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.

To use an example to illustrate what I mean, we found out that sticking needles in people can have beneficial effects. But this does not prove or even count as evidence that acupuncture as a belief system, with its own pseudo-scientific premises, structure, etc is correct. It only proves that sticking needles in people can have beneficial effects. That is the only factual conclusion. Acupuncture was made up far before these experiments and, even if you assume that the phenomenon in question was the origin of acupuncture in some way, has no relation to that data.

Likewise, if a being came down to us and could rearrange the stars to spell its name, and we confirmed that this was no illusion of any sort (except of course projecting 3D space into a 2D image), I wouldn't assume that an imaginary entity "YHWH" has somehow sprung into existence, leaping from our minds to reality, and taking the exact form that we have imagined. That's not how reality works. Imagination is contained within our minds, it does not affect reality directly, only indirectly through our actions.


Quote
It is true that some atheists are also doxastically closed, and this thread is designed (at least in part) to show just how closed each person (theist or atheist) may or may not be.

It may be relevant that I was not raised religious, and so to me religious beliefs never had any credibility.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Hierophant on April 25, 2013, 07:12:53 PM
Or number two.  I would like to see another Elijah like battle of the gods.  A contest like Elijah had with the followers of Baal.  Only this time we gather leaders of every religion and every denomination.  The pairings will be drawn at random.  We allow each leader to call on their god to strike down the leader of the opposing god.  This would continue until one person is left standing.  Although I would seriously need to reassess my atheist position if we make it past round one.

A good idea in theory, but the Subgenius would just end up gunning down all the god-botherers. Against gods, we don't play fair. We even shot our own messiah, so... :D
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: shnozzola on April 25, 2013, 07:40:10 PM
http://www.youtube.com/

Just substitute the word 'money' for 'body'. (If you could substitute Tom Cruise for Sean Penn that would also be good)

Christianity lives and dies on the claimed resurrection. If there was some way of confirming that Jesus stayed in the tomb then fry me a baby and call me a heathen.

MM, I suppose we all may feel that this reversal would never happen.   If god showed up, I believe my actions before and after would be the same.  I assume if god were shown to not exist, you would do the same?

edit - I ask because I believe some people think the reason an atheist is an atheist is to become a 24/7  orgy, drug crazed  sinning machine
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on April 25, 2013, 07:59:01 PM
http://www.youtube.com/

Just substitute the word 'money' for 'body'. (If you could substitute Tom Cruise for Sean Penn that would also be good)

Christianity lives and dies on the claimed resurrection. If there was some way of confirming that Jesus stayed in the tomb then fry me a baby and call me a heathen.

MM, I suppose we all may feel that this reversal would never happen.   If god showed up, I believe my actions before and after would be the same.  I assume if god were shown to not exist, you would do the same?

edit - I ask because I believe some people think the reason an atheist is an atheist is to become a 24/7  orgy, drug crazed  sinning machine

Mate, I'm as much of a 24/7 sinning machine as any atheist, that I can probably guarantee. Not that I'm proud of it, and not that I use my faith as some sort of get out jail free card.

You're probably right in that there wouldn't be a huge change in how I live, but I can't say for sure. Obviously I would have some extra spare time on a Sunday.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on April 25, 2013, 08:34:11 PM
The question is more difficult to answer than appears, because most atheists take the position that religious adherents are supposed to prove that their particular God exists, and that God is required to do so, when you ask him. The dogmatic way the religions are structured creates this attitude.

Christianity pretends to be a religion of proof and logic, where God will demonstrate himself by miracles, if you ask. We have many Christians coming here, who assert that God will answer, if you pray hard enough. They also rationalize their belief by the prophecies in Isaiah and Daniel, as if it's a 1-2-3 formula. Being logical, atheists then expect-back, that the Bible should be accurate, non-forged and non-contradictory.

Why should God show himself? Does God show himself to a hamster or beetle? That's ridiculous, a hamster is just required to be a hamster, with no intervention from God. The question is : are humans just required to be humans?

Being an odd species, we have no idea what being a human is really supposed to be. Does a human watch TV all day, while eating pizza? The bulk of religion focusses on proscriptive imaginings of what you are supposed to do, to please a God, who is obviously not going to reveal himself, or tell us what to do.

Intermingled with this, is the imaginary quest, that says a human is more equipped to "find" God than a hamster, and as well as being human, we also have the added pressure to "find" God, and tell others that we have found him, even though, from an evolutionary point of view, we may not have developed the faculties to do it. We have no qualms saying that a hamster is obviously not equipped to find God, but then ascribe this potential to all humans.

Thus, the question of the OP could be similar to asking a bronze age shepherd: what would it take to change your mind about Quantum Loop Gravity?

The shepherd could simply accept your word for it, or he could become a hermit, and go on a life-long quest, to explore quantum physics. This would be known as the hard path.

In summary, it's only likely that I would change my mind about God, if he direct injected some understanding into my mind, and made me believe in him. This seems to be the way that most religious fanatics work, anyway.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on April 25, 2013, 08:59:58 PM
I would need a miracle like a regenerated limb on a human, only after prayer to said entity. Then another prayer to make the limb go back to how it was. Then another prayer to bring it back. If not a regenerated limb I would need some other occurrence that we have no natural explanation and I would need it to be repeated.

to quote the prophet Andre "3000" Benjamin, "An impossible feat then I repeat, an impossible feat then I repeat, an impossible feat then I repeat"
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Samothec on April 26, 2013, 12:55:47 AM
The simultaneous restoration of every severed limb for every human and the simultaneous elimination of all cancer in every human and the simultaneous elimination of all disease in every human. Then the simultaneous transformation of every copy of all the different holy books into the one true holy book which can not be mistranslated.

It's asking a bit much but the creator of the unvierse could do it while advanced aliens (or some other powerful being) would find the task extremely difficult if they could even manage it.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Seppuku on April 26, 2013, 04:19:36 AM
Quote from: magicmiles
Obviously I would have some extra spare time on a Sunday.

Always a bonus, I mean there aren't enough days in a weekend. ;)


Quote
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

For me it boils down to evidence. If God were to appear and say, "hey, Sepp, sup?" then of course, it may suffice, though of course it would really depend, if it could be a man claiming to be God, then obviously it's not enough, but if he rides in on a chariot of lightning with a choir of angels at his side, well I might just shit myself. If other people were there to verify the experience it would also help (because it would mean I couldn't doubt the experience, individual memory can be unreliable and well, one can hallucinate). Unfortunately the existence of God is something very difficult to prove without God of course giving us that evidence. Often or not so called evidence is either psuedo-science or logic games, which isn't enough either. For anything to be considered scientific fact it is rigorously tested. If God were to reveal himself in the flesh, I think a lot of that rigorous testing would become unecessary, we might take pictures and maybe ask questions, but it's only natural for the scientifically minded to be curious. I doubt we'd go as far as dissecting him and finding out what makes him tick.

As for the afterlife and/or an immaterial spiritual realm, I would need evidence.  Even if I were to experience it, I could find other explanations, like, again, hallucinations, in a near-death experience your brain isn't getting a lot of oxygen and it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest your experience could be a hallucination, perhaps memories or perhaps your own dreams and expectations. If I were to experience it, I wouldn't rule out those possibilities, I would need evidence I could test and it would need to be more than the test in Flatliners because it wouldn't prove anything.

Unfortunately my requirements make it very difficult for me to change my view. I am not close minded, I just want to be able to verify extraordinary claims before I accept them.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Dante on April 26, 2013, 06:54:09 AM
then fry me a baby an

They're much better slow cooked on a smoker. Jus sayin.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on April 26, 2013, 07:02:17 AM
The very simple anwer that's been given before.

Evidence.  Clear, unambiguous, testable, evidence.  Simple as that.  Same criteria I use for any woo-woo claim like Bigfoot and Nessie and Ghosts and Psychokinesis and.....whatever else ya got.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on April 26, 2013, 10:20:07 AM
To the OP:

If Ghost Busters (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/?ref_=sr_1) were a documentary.

http://www.filmdetail.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/copy-2-of-ghostbusters-v-jesus.jpg
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on April 26, 2013, 10:37:56 AM
Nothing could make me believe in a God, an afterlife or an immaterial spiritual realm. No amount of evidence could possibly make me believe that there are such things. As I posted on the "What is your religious position" thread:

Not only am I a 7 on the Dawkins scale, but I don't see why any atheist would not be such (if not a 7, at least a 6.999... recurring). If you know there are no leprechauns, fairies or rock people (and that if we found evidence of something like them, we still wouldn't associate real-life facts with creatures of myth any more than we associate a picture of Jesus on toast with a real Jesus), and you understand gods as being mythical creatures, then you should also know there are no gods.
First of all, mathematically speaking, 7 = 6.9999... recurring.  But I get what you're saying.
Quote
Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.
I think this illustrates the difficulty with dealing with the imprecision of a word like 'god'.  Because I can see some interpretations of the above as a concession that you could be convinced that a 'god' entity exists and you simply reject the associated semantic baggage behind the word 'god'.  Liberal deists, for example, would say that the above entity you described is 'god' regardless of what you label it.

What you're saying is that all known, coherent definitions of 'god' are of entities that can be shown to be mythological and imaginary.  I think that's what you're saying at least.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Aaron123 on April 26, 2013, 11:07:30 AM
FOR THEISTS:

What would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God? Please be as specific as you can.

Is it ok for an ex-theist to comment on this?

For me, it was lack of evidence that made me give up the faith.  The logic disconnets were much too great.  People talk of prayers as a spiritual event, but to me, it felt like talking to the air.  The bible talks of the great and impressive things that god did, yet... god does nothing today.



Quote
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

I'll do what everyone else has done, and invoke the magic "E" word: evidence.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Hierophant on April 26, 2013, 01:18:52 PM
Quote
First of all, mathematically speaking, 7 = 6.9999... recurring.
It was a joke. Sorry... I should have added a smiley.  :D

Quote
I think this illustrates the difficulty with dealing with the imprecision of a word like 'god'.  Because I can see some interpretations of the above as a concession that you could be convinced that a 'god' entity exists
Not any more than experiments involving putting needles in people could convince me that the belief system of "acupuncture" is valid. No matter what it is we find, it's not "God." It should be given its own name., or at worse be called a "god-like entity."

Quote
What you're saying is that all known, coherent definitions of 'god' are of entities that can be shown to be mythological and imaginary.  I think that's what you're saying at least.
Yes, all gods are imaginary. They all start in the imaginary, as a solution to some philosophical or existential conundrum, and then take a "life" of their own (so to speak). Imaginary entities do not exist outside of our minds, and they are all different for each person because of the lack of observable referents (literary referents are inadequate because language can be interpreted in ways that direct observation cannot).

To say that an imaginary entity could exist is a category error. Perhaps the reason why a lot of atheists say this is because they disagree that gods are imaginary, I don't know. Yet to me that seems obviously the case.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on April 26, 2013, 01:35:26 PM
It would depend on the definition of the god in question.  If it's one of the ones that's already been conclusively disproven[1], then the question of what would convince me to believe in it becomes an awkward one, because the evidence is already in.  That evidence would have had to have been different in order for me to have been convinced, but this is all past-tense.

That said, there are effective brainwashing techniques using sleep deprivation and drugs that would, in time, make me believe anything at all.
 1. eg. the ones living on Mount Olympus, or one that created the Earth in 6 days
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Graybeard on April 26, 2013, 02:24:53 PM
As a grade 7 atheist, even the appearance of a god would not convince me. Quite simply gods cannot exist. My argument is that if a god appeared and gave me (or us) the scientific explanation of how he did apparently miraculous things, then he would no longer be a god. I liken this to seeing a bird fly when I cannot fly -> once I know how it is done, it is not that remarkable.

This stems from Clark's third law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Hierophant on April 26, 2013, 03:47:35 PM
Now that I think about it, the most likely reason people concede the possibility of gods in a way they wouldn't for other imaginary entities is probably to pacify Christians and not appear "close-minded" to them.

I personally see no reason to pacify Christians, not as long as Christianity remains the powerful force for evil in this world that it is, a fatal parasite to the human race, causing ignorance, death and misery wherever it flourishes. Christianity is on the way out and we need to keep its head down while it drowns, not prop it up.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on April 26, 2013, 04:26:09 PM
How could I distinguish a god from a really savvy shape-shifting alien-- who knew what humans like in their gods? Theists come here and say,"If Jesus himself appeared before you, you still would not believe." And in a sense they are correct.

Because a really savvy shape-shifting alien could appear looking like what we think Jesus looked like, and do some nice miracles, like cure cancer and heal amputees, and then pen us up because of you-know-what:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk01eeKMD_I
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gay Impositor on April 26, 2013, 08:15:39 PM
If I am given wealth and a charming lad to spend time with, I will believe.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on April 26, 2013, 10:55:33 PM
They want twenty-seven 8x10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence... :D
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: dloubet on April 27, 2013, 02:04:51 AM
Evidence.

If a god, afterlife, or spiritual realm, cannot muster the same level of evidence as the chair I'm sitting in, then it has not earned my conditional agreement.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on April 27, 2013, 11:10:51 AM
Now that I think about it, the most likely reason people concede the possibility of gods in a way they wouldn't for other imaginary entities is probably to pacify Christians and not appear "close-minded" to them.
Yeah I suppose a part of it is due to an over-reaching internalized 'need' to placate the theists and assure them that I am not close-minded.  I don't feel it to be a big driver, but I interact mostly with theists of some variety, and they're generally very decent and very smart people so there may be some personal biasing in there too.

It seems to me that I primarily concede the possibility of gods to placate the linguists; to allow for the notion that the definition of the word 'god' (or maybe more accurately the 'god' concept) may evolve into something that is amenable scientific inquiry.  Of course, it may be the case that the word 'god' has evolved enough that core features of the existing definition that make it principally unknowable are static (or very unlikely to change).  But that doesn't seem to be the case; the word 'god' entails a large span in variation with plenty of room to change.  I confess it is a largely intuitive notion I have for believing that the word 'god' can evolve in such a way; refer to the above 'personal biasing' disclaimer.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on April 27, 2013, 11:23:37 AM
Youre leaving, JB, because you refuse to actually engage us. You are more interested in asserting your beliefs than investigating them. Many people have stated here that they are more than willing to accept truths when they are based upon evidence, evidence that you have failed to provide. Why you expect us to just accept your claims all the while rejecting Fred Phelps claims is beyond me. You have to show why your claims are more credible than Fred Phelps. Because in reality it appears his are more valid and at least supported by the book you both get your information from (no matter how many times you want to deny the book, its clear you base your personal religion off the bible).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on April 29, 2013, 07:12:37 AM
Evidence.

Not to single out dloubet, because a lot of people have said this.  I think the crux of the question is what would you say would be valid evidence?  A hippy looking guy with long hair and a beard, nail holes in his hands, wearing a crown of thorns and radiating light?  A dream where a disembodied voice tells you its god and it will bless you and make you prosper if you follow it's weird and arbitrary rules?  Or how about if you were unexpectedly and spontaneously cured of some ailment after being prayed for?

What specifically would the evidence have to be?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on April 29, 2013, 08:15:09 AM
What specifically would the evidence have to be?

The trouble is, a lot of it depends on the particular god-claim being advanced.  Gods variously claim power, love, omniscience, this that and the other.  Some gods claim the lot, some gods claim just a handful - Loki, for example, would not claim love for all lesser beings.....well, he WOULD, but he wouldn't mean it!

So its hard to quantify without a specific.  As Brando said...."whaddaya got?"

If it was a demonstration of godship, it's not going to be a simple thing - though it would be easy for an omnipotent being - because whatever it is they would be doing to demonstrate would have to be something so clearly godlike!  As you say, "guy in beard saying he loves me" won't cut it!

As I've said elesewhere though - whatever evidence it was, would have to be evidence that ONLY points to that god, and that god alone.  Anything the slightest bit generic (though it might  sway me towards gods in general) would not point me at a specific god. 

Indeed, once there is evidence for A god, why not LOADSA gods? 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on April 29, 2013, 01:54:58 PM
What specifically would the evidence have to be?

I would think that a being who could demonstrate the supernatural would at least convince me of the existence of the supernatural.  Someone who could read thoughts, or levitate, or miraculously heal the sick and change the weather and feed the world and make the world's nuclear stockpile turn into soap bubbles.  Proof of being an honest-to-goodness deity might follow from that, as well.

The problem I see with the question, and this follows from Greta Christina's response on her blog (linked by pianodwarf earlier in this topic) is that often it implies that there might be something that would convince me that the god of the Bible, or of any of our major religious movements, is real.  But those gods, as envisioned, make little or no sense and the way they are described makes me terrified at the thought that they would ever be real.  I don't WANT for Yahweh to present himself to us and tell us that he's real.  He's a miserable and angry and bitter person with a penchant for capricious decisions to massacre people wholesale.  He can't possibly exist, and I don't want him to.

I could imagine a god who created the universe and then went on to some other reality in order to create a universe there.  And maybe he stops by to see how we're getting along, and he manifests as something truly godlike in stature and capabilities, and he gives us a guidebook that is so amazing that it doesn't take long for us to cure AIDS and cancer and stop fighting wars.  And then he apologizes for waiting so long to check up on us, and he tips his cap and moves on to the next reality.  That's a god that I can stomach.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Samothec on April 29, 2013, 02:38:12 PM
I could imagine a god who created the universe and then went on to some other reality in order to create a universe there.  And maybe he stops by to see how we're getting along, and he manifests as something truly godlike in stature and capabilities, and he gives us a guidebook that is so amazing that it doesn't take long for us to cure AIDS and cancer and stop fighting wars.  And then he apologizes for waiting so long to check up on us, and he tips his cap and moves on to the next reality.  That's a god that I can stomach.

Indeed. I took several years trying to find/figure out god and reached the conclusion that all the gods anyone worships (all that I've heard of and nearly(?) all that I haven't) are no more than powerful aliens if they exist at all. Not that I think any of them are at all real. In our current day science fiction we have beings equal to or greater than any god worshiped on Earth. Why would a powerful fictional alien be better than a god? It wouldn't.

I came to the conclusion there might be a Creator (which I have since become agnostic about) but it bears no resemblance to the tiny pathetic "gods" people worship. Thus my rather significant requirements in my earlier post in this thread.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on April 29, 2013, 04:21:41 PM
Yes to the previous two posts.

At best, any god I want around would just be a benevolent, very advanced alien who did a few big miracles (cures all disease, gives us an unlimited non-polluting energy source and leaves us with world peace) and then left us alone for another few millenia. We can figure out where to put our genitalia, which animals to eat and what to wear on our own, thank you very much.

And it would be nice if he/she was smokin' hot as well. Thor springs to mind for some reason. Is the next movie out this summer? Please, please, please?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Jag on April 29, 2013, 07:55:17 PM
Is it seriously too much to ask that a God worthy of worshiping, or even paying attention to, be ... oh, I don't know,...useful?

Soap merited a mention in the good book, don't you think?

Considering what people are willing to do to themselves, and to other people (hell, even the ones that agree with them!), just doing something useful once in a while doesn't seem like such an outrageous request. Just give us a godly boost every now and then. If we'd been getting the occasional obviously deistic assistance collectively, how much better off would the whole planet be? And this is out of the question, why?

Unambiguously please, so we know which one it is.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on April 29, 2013, 10:08:19 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708702/

This ep of Star Trek is a goodie.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

In this case, her magic is probably less advanced than what the Enterprise can do.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Mrjason on April 30, 2013, 10:33:32 AM
If, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, god is waiting for me outside the pearly gates I'd still be skeptical.
I'd want him to prove
A) He's not an alien,
B) I'm not an alien,
and
C) I'm not god and have created him.
 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Strawman on May 01, 2013, 01:32:10 PM
People say they want evidence, but evidence of what!? No one has ever defined what god is, so how can we have evidence for him? We don't know what we're looking for. The whole concept of god is a tangled mess of double-negatives and contradictions. Give me a solid explanation of what god is that can be tested and then we can talk about evidence. But then god is invisible and metaphysical and outside of everything yet somehow inside of everything and controlling everything yet giving the clear impression that he is doing sod all and doesn't exist. If God exists at all he clearly wishes to reside exclusively in the imagination.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Truth OT on May 01, 2013, 03:56:27 PM
Many Christians accuse atheists of being closed to the idea of God. Likewise, many of us atheists argue that theists are doxastically closed to revising their beliefs. I think an effective way of spurring change is to demonstrate that which we would like to see from the other side. So what would it take in order for you to change your view? Please answer as honestly as you can.

FOR THEISTS:

What would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God? Please be as specific as you can.

What is in my opinion most necessary in order to begin a trek down the road of unbelief is to first establish some specifics pertaining to what it is a believer actually believes in. The theist's "God Model" must be solid and based on certain fundementals that can either be confirmed, disproven, or at the very least able to be held under the microscope for inspection. If the model does not possess any tangibles or specifics, there is real no use in trying to disprove what the belief is based on.

So, to disprove my belief in God, I must first have convictions that give me a clear and concrete definition of my god and its qualities, will, abilities, and history. After these are established and I commit myself to not moving the goal posts, those that wish to procecute my faith would of course need to focus their attention on disproving the validity of my god-definition.

If it can be proven that my God did not do somethings attributed to it, did/does not posses the qualities attributed to it, and violated its own supposed will; I become doubtful. This doubt would not necessarily cause me to immediately drop my god-belief. What it would cause me to do is initially re-examine my beliefs and understanding of god. This may result in me redefining god into somethin more abstract and personal that couldn't be brought under scrutiny or it may result in me redefine god based on a renewed understanding that like my initial conviction, can be challenged by similar means.

If I create an abstract god, IGNORE THE HELL OUT OF ME for I cannot be reasoned with logically. But if I'm an honest thinker, continue the process of logically breaking down what my faith has built up until there is literally nothing left for me to build my faith on. At that point, I will have no choice but to pull a Julia Sweeney.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: madame_zora on May 02, 2013, 03:59:52 PM
Any alien could easily present itself as a god. I wouldn't worship said alien unless he threatened my well-being- which very well might be the case.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 03, 2013, 04:33:01 PM
     My mom, in the popular parlance, “led my to the Lord” when I was five years old.  She came into my room one evening to tuck me in and read me the four spiritual laws booklet.  I can remember saying a prayer and experiencing an authentic feeling of joy like that which Christians often talk about.  My purpose here is not to justify to you that my experience was real or to convince you that I was correct to see this experience as authentic, because it was personal – incommunicable as it were, just as anything that we subjectively experience is incommunicable.  I guess the point I am getting at is that my mother didn’t throw the cosmological, teleological, or ontological arguments at me; she didn’t attempt to convince me based on the appearance of design in the universe; she didn’t attempt to present a case for the historicity of the gospels; and she didn’t try to read of a laundry list of answered prayers that she had experienced (unlike our rather vitriolic friend Andrew (-: ).  All she did was ask me, “would you like to meet someone who has meant a lot to me”.  So my answer to the question “what would it take for you to become an atheist” is that I would have to lose my experience with Christ first.  I could conceivably give up every single one of the theist arguments and so long as I still was experiencing Christ it wouldn’t matter. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 03, 2013, 04:47:45 PM
If your mother had introduced you to Allah or Ganesha or Buddha or Shango, at the age of five, you would be now attesting to your relationship with one of those instead of Christ.

Agreed?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on May 03, 2013, 05:53:17 PM
When I was young, I had extremely vivid imaginings (frankly, I never stopped having a vivid imagination, I just learned how to not let it run away with me).  Vivid enough that they seemed "more than real", and the emotions I got from them were, in fact, real emotions I felt, but they were because of experiences that only existed in my mind.

As a thirty-something adult, I can still have powerfully vivid imaginings, that inspire or empower strong emotions.  However, I know that they aren't based on anything that really happened.  And that's why I don't accept "I get these really strong feelings because of visions I see, so my religious beliefs are valid" as an argument.  Because I know that they come from within me, and have for a long time.

That doesn't mean those imaginings don't help shape the person I am, or that I ignore the feelings I get from them.  I just don't let myself fall into the trap of believing that my imagination accurately represents reality.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 04, 2013, 02:23:52 AM
If your mother had introduced you to Allah or Ganesha or Buddha or Shango, at the age of five, you would be now attesting to your relationship with one of those instead of Christ.

Agreed?

Agreed.  If my mother had introduced my to Allah when I was five it is highly likely that I would be a follower of Allah today; however, I think that when judging the truthfulness of a belief one should look at the content of the belief not the origin. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: dloubet on May 04, 2013, 03:02:55 AM
screwtape wrote:
Quote
Not to single out dloubet, because a lot of people have said this.  I think the crux of the question is what would you say would be valid evidence?

Well, I did offer the following line: If a god, afterlife, or spiritual realm, cannot muster the same level of evidence as the chair I'm sitting in, then it has not earned my conditional agreement.

There are numerous lines of evidence all leading to the nearly inescapable conclusion that I'm sitting in a chair. Do I really have to cite one in particular? Ok, how about: My knees are bent, and I'm in a completely unbalanced position and should fall backwards, but for some reason my ass isn't on the floor. Or: I can clearly feel a soft surface underneath my ass that's holding me up off the floor. Or: I can clearly feel, see, hear, and if I so choose, smell or even taste the chair that I claim I'm sitting on.

But I say "nearly inescapable" and "conditional agreement" because I could be a brain in a box, and the chair and everything else I experience could be mere illusions. But I figure the odds of that are slim. So the things I experience daily: 99.9999... percent certain they exist.

Now, if I was presented unambiguous evidence of a god, I could never get near 99 percent because I would have to be omniscient to determine if the thing was omniscient, omnipotent, or omnibenevolent. I would be able to agree that its a powerful thing, but there's no way I could reliably identify it without being omniscient myself.

Throw in evidence for a "Father of Lies" creature, and all bets are off. Because if a supernatural being with unknown powers of persuasion existed, the very concept of knowledge itself would die a horrible death. Hell, the evidence of a god would cause the same thing. A being that can invisibly interfere with each and every observation ever made? Knowledge would be dead.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on May 04, 2013, 03:55:07 AM
If your mother had introduced you to Allah or Ganesha or Buddha or Shango, at the age of five, you would be now attesting to your relationship with one of those instead of Christ.

Agreed?

Agreed.  If my mother had introduced my to Allah when I was five it is highly likely that I would be a follower of Allah today; however, I think that when judging the truthfulness of a belief one should look at the content of the belief not the origin.
So, if you likely would be a follower of allah today had your mom indoctrinated you that way, it clearly suggests that you would not know that you believed in something false. Is it far fetched to assume that this is also true for any other set of beliefs unsubstantiated by reality?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 04, 2013, 10:04:35 AM
Agreed.  If my mother had introduced my to Allah when I was five it is highly likely that I would be a follower of Allah today; however, I think that when judging the truthfulness of a belief one should look at the content of the belief not the origin.

And yet, that is not what you did when you adopted your belief, nor what your mother attempted to justify when she conveyed it to you.  Why is that?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 05, 2013, 02:48:36 AM
     My mom, in the popular parlance, “led my to the Lord” when I was five years old.  She came into my room one evening to tuck me in and read me the four spiritual laws booklet.  I can remember saying a prayer and experiencing an authentic feeling of joy like that which Christians often talk about.  My purpose here is not to justify to you that my experience was real or to convince you that I was correct to see this experience as authentic, because it was personal – incommunicable as it were, just as anything that we subjectively experience is incommunicable.  I guess the point I am getting at is that my mother didn’t throw the cosmological, teleological, or ontological arguments at me; she didn’t attempt to convince me based on the appearance of design in the universe; she didn’t attempt to present a case for the historicity of the gospels; and she didn’t try to read of a laundry list of answered prayers that she had experienced (unlike our rather vitriolic friend Andrew (-: ).  All she did was ask me, “would you like to meet someone who has meant a lot to me”.  So my answer to the question “what would it take for you to become an atheist” is that I would have to lose my experience with Christ first.  I could conceivably give up every single one of the theist arguments and so long as I still was experiencing Christ it wouldn’t matter.

How do you know your experience was "with Christ"? Isn't this just making a big assumption (just like Muslims or Hindus do with their alleged subjective experiences)? Wouldn't it be better to say that if you were convinced that your experience was not actually with "Christ", but was actually just you having a misapprehension of what you thought you were experiencing (based on what you were already preconditioned to believe in your family/culture) that you might change your mind?

Your answer here does not display that you are actually open to the possibility that you are mistaken in your interpretation of your experiences (which is really what this OP is all about). In a round about way, it sounds like you just came here to say, "No, I could never be convinced that I'm mistaken." Well sir, that is called being CLOSED-MINDED.

So then the question is, do you truly care whether or not your beliefs are actually true?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 05, 2013, 04:43:15 AM


Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.

I missed this earlier.

Are you saying that if the universe had a creator, and therefore a designer, that this creator would be what you, the designed and created person, say it would be? Really?


Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 05, 2013, 05:36:18 AM
Youre leaving, JB, because you refuse to actually engage us. You are more interested in asserting your beliefs than investigating them. Many people have stated here that they are more than willing to accept truths when they are based upon evidence, evidence that you have failed to provide. Why you expect us to just accept your claims all the while rejecting Fred Phelps claims is beyond me. You have to show why your claims are more credible than Fred Phelps. Because in reality it appears his are more valid and at least supported by the book you both get your information from (no matter how many times you want to deny the book, its clear you base your personal religion off the bible).

I think you put this in the wrong thread.  I am going to tell you again I have no desire to change your mind. You believe whatever you like as far as that goes. I used to think atheism wasn't hurting anybody but that was before I came in here, but if that's what you like go ahead feel free, it's not for me to decide one little bit what you do with your life. 

What beliefs of mine are you referring to?

Do I know the Bible, yes I do, doesn't make me guilty and I'm really tired of people not getting it. You wrap belief up into a box of Christians, Islam and Judaism.  I don't know if you're living sheltered lives or what because there are a lot of people out there like myself, a lot.  We just don't go around knocking on doors and shouting on street corners.  Maybe if you look up God on wikipedia you will broaden your horizon.  Until you do I guess I'll just have to put up with your lack of insight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 05, 2013, 05:39:35 AM


Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.

I missed this earlier.

Are you saying that if the universe had a creator, and therefore a designer, that this creator would be what you, the designed and created person, say it would be? Really?

VERY, VERY GOOD POINT!!!  Please don't dodge this question. I can't wait to hear the answer. WOW!!! GREAT QUESTION!!!
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 05, 2013, 05:49:04 AM
When I was young, I had extremely vivid imaginings (frankly, I never stopped having a vivid imagination, I just learned how to not let it run away with me).  Vivid enough that they seemed "more than real", and the emotions I got from them were, in fact, real emotions I felt, but they were because of experiences that only existed in my mind.

As a thirty-something adult, I can still have powerfully vivid imaginings, that inspire or empower strong emotions.  However, I know that they aren't based on anything that really happened.  And that's why I don't accept "I get these really strong feelings because of visions I see, so my religious beliefs are valid" as an argument.  Because I know that they come from within me, and have for a long time.

That doesn't mean those imaginings don't help shape the person I am, or that I ignore the feelings I get from them.  I just don't let myself fall into the trap of believing that my imagination accurately represents reality.

Why do you think we have imaginations?  When you say they come from within you, what part of you is that?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 05, 2013, 06:06:44 AM
Let's see, what would make me change my mind?  It's difficult to articulate but I'll try. I'm having a real hard time coming up with anything.  It's not that I'm not willing, I'm very open minded, I just can't put what I feel into words. I define God as the way in which we came from nothing. Something "magical" happened and life began. Right now I have nothing else that fills that massive void. The big bang explains earth and life forms but it does not explain where or how space began. I'm sure there are some theories but w/o the ability to see a universe born I see no possible way to ever know for sure.  With that kind of unexplainable power in existence, I would like to think it is controlled by WISDOM AND LOVE in a form that I refer to as God.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Graybeard on May 05, 2013, 06:13:25 AM
Why do you think we have imaginations?  When you say they come from within you, what part of you is that?

It's the brain. The brain stores information. You make your brain put pieces of information together and this creates a picture. That picture has no real existence, although it seems real to you. "To imagine" = to create an image in your mind. You can imagine a dog with a fish's head or you can imagine what you did yesterday. Sometimes these things are funny, sometimes, they are sad. Sometimes things go wrong, and you cannot stop yourself imagining things. This is known as schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Sometimes the information in your brain is wrong, so you put things that are right with things that are wrong, and you get a wrong answer.

That's how it works. But you must not forget, "Just because we can imagine something, does not mean that it is real."

Let's see, what would make me change my mind?  It's difficult to articulate but I'll try. I'm having a real hard time coming up with anything.  It's not that I'm not willing, I'm very open minded, I just can't put what I feel into words. I define God as the way in which we came from nothing. Something "magical" happened and life began.

But if you did understand that, it would not be "magical", right?"
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on May 05, 2013, 07:50:11 AM
Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.
I missed this earlier.

Are you saying that if the universe had a creator, and therefore a designer, that this creator would be what you, the designed and created person, say it would be? Really?
VERY, VERY GOOD POINT!!!  Please don't dodge this question. I can't wait to hear the answer. WOW!!! GREAT QUESTION!!!
Both of you (junebug and magicmiles) need to look at what he said a little more closely (assuming that this wasn't a disingenuous attempt to play 'gotcha!' with an atheist).  He said that this hypothetical creator would have its own properties, rather than the ones humans say it has based on myth and legend.  Which is certainly true.  We have similar myths and legends about other entities, including people who presumably actually lived, which claim for them powers and abilities beyond human ken.  Thus, we have evidence that ancient peoples were clearly capable of making up stuff about their heroes and leaders that didn't accurately reflect those people[1].  If people did that with larger-than-life figures who actually lived, then there is no reason to assume that they did not do it with their gods as well (especially if those gods were imaginary to begin with).
 1. Frankly, we see that today with tabloids and gossip.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 05, 2013, 11:26:13 AM
Let's see, what would make me change my mind?  It's difficult to articulate but I'll try. I'm having a real hard time coming up with anything.  It's not that I'm not willing, I'm very open minded, I just can't put what I feel into words. I define God as the way in which we came from nothing. Something "magical" happened and life began. Right now I have nothing else that fills that massive void. The big bang explains earth and life forms but it does not explain where or how space began. I'm sure there are some theories but w/o the ability to see a universe born I see no possible way to ever know for sure.  With that kind of unexplainable power in existence, I would like to think it is controlled by WISDOM AND LOVE in a form that I refer to as God.

So basically, your belief (i.e. - "faith") is in wishful thinking - an "I would like this to be true. So I believe it." Can you see why this is making it difficult (indeed likely impossible) for you to imagine a scenario where you would change your mind?

Your argument regarding what "God" is (i.e. - "the way in which we came from nothing") is based upon this same wishful thinking. How do you know we came from "nothing"? Big Bang cosmology does not claim this. Wouldn't you be more honest in admitting that you simply don't know how we got here exactly, and that you should withhold judgment until further evidence comes in? Why jump to conclusions that aren't supported by evidence while holding a conclusion which you started with from the beginning (aka - one which you can think of no possible falsification method)? This seems like dishonest discourse.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 05, 2013, 05:11:24 PM
Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.
I missed this earlier.

Are you saying that if the universe had a creator, and therefore a designer, that this creator would be what you, the designed and created person, say it would be? Really?
VERY, VERY GOOD POINT!!!  Please don't dodge this question. I can't wait to hear the answer. WOW!!! GREAT QUESTION!!!
Both of you (junebug and magicmiles) need to look at what he said a little more closely (assuming that this wasn't a disingenuous attempt to play 'gotcha!' with an atheist). 

No, just an honest question, based on my understanding of his POV.


He said that this hypothetical creator would have its own properties, rather than the ones humans say it has based on myth and legend.  Which is certainly true. 

But what if God shows up and clearly demonstrates that He is the God as revealed in the bible? The POV expressed seems to eliminate that possibility - that seems an incredible position to take, and it's what I'm questioning.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 05, 2013, 05:59:31 PM
Magicmiles, even if that were the case, would our understanding of this god already be perfect?  Or would it, as Hierophant says, have its own properties that we did not predict?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 05, 2013, 06:17:34 PM
Magicmiles, even if that were the case, would our understanding of this god already be perfect?  Or would it, as Hierophant says, have its own properties that we did not predict?

I'm sure our understanding is far from perfect. What Hierophant seems to suggest (and I am willing to be corrected) is that God will be totally different from any perception we have of Him.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 06, 2013, 12:59:16 AM
When I was young, I had extremely vivid imaginings (frankly, I never stopped having a vivid imagination, I just learned how to not let it run away with me).  Vivid enough that they seemed "more than real", and the emotions I got from them were, in fact, real emotions I felt, but they were because of experiences that only existed in my mind.

      I am assuming that you are sincere in your beliefs, and as such I don’t really blame you for looking at my claim to have experienced a relationship with Christ with a great degree of suspicion.  When I talked about what I thought I could give up before becoming an atheist I wasn’t necessarily trying to say that you should become a theist based on my claimed experience.   All I was saying was that for me, my experience constitutes a type of positive evidence for God’s existence that would remain regardless of the fate of other theist arguments.  It would be a different story, however, if you could present me with evidence that shows that God does not exist – I would then have to balance it against my experience and come to a conclusion at that time. 
      I would say that my relationship  with Christ has caused me to experience a spectrum of emotions that is very similar to the emotional response that one would experience in a relationship with a best friend.  So you say that my emotional experience is just the result of something that I have imagined – let’s try a thought experiment.  You told me that you have a ‘vivid imagination’ that can make imaginary things seem ‘more than real’ – let’s see if you can imagine one of the best kinds of friends, a significant other.  If you are not single, then imagine that you are (it shouldn’t be too hard, we’ve all been there before).  Now imagine the significant other of your dreams - have you imagined that person so that he or she seems ‘more than real’? Now for the crucial part: imagine having a relationship with that realistic figment of your imagination so that you experience the emotional fulfillment that ideally goes along with finding that someone who ‘completes you’. 
     Assuming that you don’t plan on having children and you already have other friends to do things with, do you have any need to go out and search for a real mate?   Keep in mind all that advantages of an imaginary significant other: no arguments, no need to buy real flowers, no need to remember birthdates or anniversaries, no need to worry about splitting up or getting divorced, etc.  It’s really odd that despite our amazing powers of imagination and the large numbers of people who have real relationship issues that more singles haven’t figured this trick out – isn’t it?  It seems to me that some emotional experiences are unlikely to have been generated by way of imagination.  I therefore submit to you that my relational experience initiated in response to my acceptance of Christ constitutes legitimate non-communicable evidence. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 06, 2013, 01:02:26 AM
So, if you likely would be a follower of allah today had your mom indoctrinated you that way, it clearly suggests that you would not know that you believed in something false. Is it far fetched to assume that this is also true for any other set of beliefs unsubstantiated by reality?

      I think it is definitely possible to believe something false and not know it, but I do question whether it is possible to believe something false and not have any way of knowing about it in principle.  I said in my original post: “I could conceivably give up every single one of the theist arguments and so long as I still was experiencing Christ it wouldn’t matter.”  I did not say anything about possible evidence against God’s existence; I only described a hypothetical lack of evidence for God’s existence.  If all other arguments for God’s existence were to be taken out of the picture except personal experience, I still think that personal experience would constitute a type of valid evidence.  If I was presented with evidence against God’s existence then I would have to weigh the strengths of that evidence against the strength of my experiential evidence.  I apologize for neglecting to mention the role of possible negative evidence against God’s existence in my original post.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 06, 2013, 01:04:16 AM
Agreed.  If my mother had introduced my to Allah when I was five it is highly likely that I would be a follower of Allah today; however, I think that when judging the truthfulness of a belief one should look at the content of the belief not the origin.

And yet, that is not what you did when you adopted your belief, nor what your mother attempted to justify when she conveyed it to you.  Why is that?

     I would say that as a child I did not critically question my mother’s beliefs when she asked me if I wanted to put my faith in Christ because I had good reasons to trust her.  I don’t think that a child can be faulted for adopting the beliefs of a good parent – if in my experience my mother had lied to me repeatedly then I probably would not have been so inclined to follow her lead in putting my faith in Christ.  At any rate, the fact that I didn’t critically examine my beliefs as a child doesn’t mean that I haven’t done so since then or that I am not in the process of doing so right now (hence my presence on this forum). 
     As for my mother’s failure to provide me with apologetic justification for her beliefs, what would you have had her do?  Should she have read her five year old son the chapter discussing the kalam cosmological argument from William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith before asking if I wanted to accept Christ?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 06, 2013, 01:33:55 AM
Please don't dodge this question. I can't wait to hear the answer.

QFT.  Junebug hates dodging, and always answer the questions that are asked of her.  No excuses, she just answers them, immediately, fully, and clearly.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 06, 2013, 01:36:35 AM
screwtape wrote:
      If a god, afterlife, or spiritual realm, cannot muster the same level of evidence as the chair I'm sitting in, then it has not earned my conditional agreement.
      Now, if I was presented unambiguous evidence of a god, I could never get near 99 percent because I would have to be omniscient to determine if the thing was omniscient, omnipotent, or omnibenevolent. I would be able to agree that its a powerful thing, but there's no way I could reliably identify it without being omniscient myself.
      Throw in evidence for a "Father of Lies" creature, and all bets are off. Because if a supernatural being with unknown powers of persuasion existed, the very concept of knowledge itself would die a horrible death. Hell, the evidence of a god would cause the same thing. A being that can invisibly interfere with each and every observation ever made? Knowledge would be dead.

      Just had a few thoughts.  First, how do we determine if our certainty in a spiritual realm approaches or certainty that a chair will hold us? When determining the sturdiness of a chair one appeals to inductive evidence; when examining the possibility of an afterlife one is usually dealing with logical syllogisms - how do you compare certainty gained by the two methods?
      If it is not possible to determine that a being is omniscient without also being omniscient, then wouldn't the same difficulty arise if I were comparing my knowledge to Albert Einstein's?  I always thought it a fair assertion that Albert Einstein knew more about quantum physics than did I, but how can I actually know that unless I know as much as that he does?
      If an omnipotent God can interfere invisibly with every observation ever made, then it would be impossible to know anything for sure.  Would knowledge also be dead if it was theoretically possible for there to exist a super intelligent alien being who could also interfere invisibly with every observation?  Is this type of alien being in fact possible? If so, then don't we have to look at what we 'know' as if the alien being is in fact actual?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 06, 2013, 02:39:24 AM
  Is this type of alien being in fact possible? If so, then don't we have to look at what we 'know' as if the alien being is in fact actual?

Yes, it's possible. We could be in a simulation, which just pays special attention to details, when it needs to fool us. You get into this kind of problem real fast, when believers take consciousness altering drugs, such as DMT and LSD. People believe what they see on the trip is true, and that consciousness comes from the plane above us, because it could not exist inside our brains. If what they saw on the trips was true, then the world is set up to fool us, because there is no way for our brains to evolve, such that they can come in contact with this consciousness outside our apparent physical self. (It would have no use to evolution, and if it did, then lots of processing power could be offloaded onto the spiritual plane above us.)

It's like a computer game character slicing his head open, and finding nothing inside; he has to come to the conclusion that something outside his brain is doing all the real thinking, and creating his self. However, in a simulation which is set up to fool us, some slushy stuff would be put inside our heads, to give us something plausible that does the thinking. When we developed super MRI machines that could analyse the function of the slushy stuff, and find out how fake it was, then the simulation would have to either finish, or get more complicated.

Being totally fake, a simulation would detect that you were about to smoke DMT, and give you a fake experience. Unfortunately, once you start down the fake rabbit hole, then everything could be fake; and the only thing that made us think there was a rabbit hole, was something fake. In this case, the fakeness of it all, is an indication that it's all fake, but gives no clues to what isn't fake.

If you can think of a way for our brains to evolve, to connect with another spiritual plane, which does all our consciousness, then you can make a model where it's not all fake. Too many permutations.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Samothec on May 07, 2013, 12:24:46 AM
... because there is no way for our brains to evolve, such that they can come in contact with this consciousness outside our apparent physical self. (It would have no use to evolution, and if it did, then lots of processing power could be offloaded onto the spiritual plane above us.)

I think this is the important part. Evolution/natural selection is regulated by energy needs. More speed or endurance, larger teeth or claws, thicker fur, etc all require more energy. But each animal has a limit on how much energy it can acquire. So the economics of biology regulates evolution/natural selection.[1] This means that if the brain is not needed for thought – if the seat of consciousness is the soul – then the body does not need to spend the energy in creating and maintaining a brain. If there were a soul that connected to our bodies and was the seat of consciousness then the only structure that would develop would be the attachment point within the body.

But no such structure exists where damage to it and only it makes clear that it is the organ connected to our consciousness, our soul. Damage to portions of the brain create impairments but none totally sever the connection to our consciousness/soul without killing us. But even then, we have determined why those damages kill us and they have nothing to do with some mystical connection; there is a biological reason for death.

The only way a soul can exist is if it is not a driving force in our thoughts/emotions/imaginations. And that describes a mystical life-force concept that is just wishful thinking.
 1. This is why the analogy between biological economics (evolution) and financial economics breaks down: there are no built-in regulations that are always there within each business – most regulations are imposed externally and they can be changed and even eliminated by society. For economics to be "Darwinian", uniform regulations are required.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 07, 2013, 01:18:29 AM
      How do you know your experience was "with Christ"? Isn't this just making a big assumption (just like Muslims or Hindus do with their alleged subjective experiences)? Wouldn't it be better to say that if you were convinced that your experience was not actually with "Christ", but was actually just you having a misapprehension of what you thought you were experiencing (based on what you were already preconditioned to believe in your family/culture) that you might change your mind?

Thanks for your response.  I will try to be concise in my answer, but I do have a lot of thoughts in response to your post so please bear with me.  You asked me: “how do you know your experience was ‘with Christ’”.  I would say that there are a couple of reasons:
      First, while all religions claim some kind of an experience (heck, I have even talked to an atheist who told me about the extreme sense of happiness he felt while deconverting from Christianity) they most certainly do not claim the same kind of experience.  I have told Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons about my deeply felt personal relationship with Christ and they look at me with a bewildered look like they haven’t got a clue what I am talking about.  Now they are certainly eager to pray with me so that I can experience the same ‘burning in the bossom’ that they experience, but I have never had one say, “Oh, you have already had a religious experience; did you know you are actually experiencing the Mormon God rather than Christ?”
     Second, while I have sometimes mistakenly answered when another person was calling for someone else (some names like Randy and Andy sound alike), I have never forgotten my own name and answered to another name because I couldn’t remember my own.  Do you honestly think that if God exists he doesn’t even know his own name?  Imagine that a Muslim comes over to my house, and after we have a long discussion and find out that we disagree on practically everything except that there is an ‘uncaused cause’ he says to me, “you called out to Christ and had a religious experience so maybe Allah decided to answer you even though you prayed in Jesus’ name; therefore , I see no need to attempt to change any of your beliefs or behavior”.  Does this sound like something a devoted Muslim would say? If you have read the Qur’an, does it sound like something Allah would do?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 07, 2013, 01:26:13 AM
      Your answer here does not display that you are actually open to the possibility that you are mistaken in your interpretation of your experiences (which is really what this OP is all about). In a round about way, it sounds like you just came here to say, "No, I could never be convinced that I'm mistaken." Well sir, that is called being CLOSED-MINDED.

      You called me CLOSED-MINDED (bolding and capitals were in your original so I thought I would reproduce it here).  If you look again at my original post you will see that I said that in order to lose my faith in Christ “I would have to lose my experience with Christ first”.  I did not say that I could never lose my experience with Christ or that I thought it impossible in principle to be presented with evidence that would outweigh the evidential impact of my experience.  Now I certainly think it is highly unlikely that I could be presented with evidence that could overrule my experience with Christ, but that kind of sentiment is common to any person who believes something passionately.  I mean, I’m sure you would say that if you were given sufficient evidence you would convert to theism, but do you honestly think the chances of that are any better than vanishingly improbable? 
     Even if I was closed minded (and I don’t think that I am any more closed minded than anyone else on this forum – there are lots of passionate and sincere people who participate) I never said I was joining to find a conversion experience (check my intro).  In addition, I saw no caveat at the entrance to the forum proclaiming: “wavering theists only allowed”.  In fact, this forum makes no overt statement to the effect that converting theists is its primary goal; therefore I have to think that there are other purposes for its existence (e.g. so you can learn more about atheism and become better at defending it).  If this is the case then a “closed-minded” theist might be just the person you are looking for; after all, if you want to learn how to defend atheism against theists, you don’t want a theist who is going to fold like a house of cards in response to the first tough question you throw at him – do you?  If all you want is an “open-minded” theist with no conviction then that would make you closed-minded too.  Your accusation, sir, is therefore completely irrelevant and without warrant. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on May 07, 2013, 06:50:36 AM
But what if God shows up and clearly demonstrates that He is the God as revealed in the bible? The POV expressed seems to eliminate that possibility - that seems an incredible position to take, and it's what I'm questioning.
I would be extremely suspicious if something showed up, claiming to be YHWH, exactly as described in the Bible, specifically because the Bible is more than a little contradictory on the nature of YHWH.  It would come across more as something that was slavishly copying the description of YHWH rather than the genuine article, at least to me.  And remember what I said about how people made up stuff about historical figures who actually lived?  That would hold true for a god as well, even a real one.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 07, 2013, 07:43:28 AM
Second, while I have sometimes mistakenly answered when another person was calling for someone else (some names like Randy and Andy sound alike), I have never forgotten my own name and answered to another name because I couldn’t remember my own.  Do you honestly think that if God exists he doesn’t even know his own name?  Imagine that a Muslim comes over to my house, and after we have a long discussion and find out that we disagree on practically everything except that there is an ‘uncaused cause’ he says to me, “you called out to Christ and had a religious experience so maybe Allah decided to answer you even though you prayed in Jesus’ name; therefore , I see no need to attempt to change any of your beliefs or behavior”.  Does this sound like something a devoted Muslim would say? If you have read the Qur’an, does it sound like something Allah would do?

Trouble is, if you follow that line of thinking, you must argue that NO Muslim has EVER had any religious experiences.  Ever.

If there was a god that only answers when addressed correctly, we should see a huge statistical clustering around that god's religion.  No other religion - even other subsets within that religion - would ever have experienced any contact with god at all.

But they claim they do.  So either they are all lying, or it is entirely possible that a person can have what feels like a religious experience without any god being involved at all.  (Actually that IS possible - Derren Brown showed quite conclusively that a religious experience could be instilled in only a quarter hour or so). 

And if you've conceded that a religious experience IS possible without god, then by what token can you be 100% positive that the experience you had was real?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 07, 2013, 08:16:20 AM
      You called me CLOSED-MINDED (bolding and capitals were in your original so I thought I would reproduce it here).  If you look again at my original post you will see that I said that in order to lose my faith in Christ “I would have to lose my experience with Christ first”.  I did not say that I could never lose my experience with Christ or that I thought it impossible in principle to be presented with evidence that would outweigh the evidential impact of my experience.  Now I certainly think it is highly unlikely that I could be presented with evidence that could overrule my experience with Christ, but that kind of sentiment is common to any person who believes something passionately.  I mean, I’m sure you would say that if you were given sufficient evidence you would convert to theism, but do you honestly think the chances of that are any better than vanishingly improbable? 
     Even if I was closed minded (and I don’t think that I am any more closed minded than anyone else on this forum – there are lots of passionate and sincere people who participate) I never said I was joining to find a conversion experience (check my intro).  In addition, I saw no caveat at the entrance to the forum proclaiming: “wavering theists only allowed”.  In fact, this forum makes no overt statement to the effect that converting theists is its primary goal; therefore I have to think that there are other purposes for its existence (e.g. so you can learn more about atheism and become better at defending it).  If this is the case then a “closed-minded” theist might be just the person you are looking for; after all, if you want to learn how to defend atheism against theists, you don’t want a theist who is going to fold like a house of cards in response to the first tough question you throw at him – do you?  If all you want is an “open-minded” theist with no conviction then that would make you closed-minded too.  Your accusation, sir, is therefore completely irrelevant and without warrant.

Yes; re-iterating what Anfauglir just said, because it can be the only response. It's difficult for an atheist to know what to say to someone who claims some kind of personal experience, because their particular personal experience might be the only true one, and all the others are fake.

One thing we do know, is that this experience yields no information, otherwise there would have been a consistent religion developed in the last 3000 years, by all the mystics who have meditated on "God".

In other words, there may be two Christians who have a personal experience on Christ; one believes in hell, the other not. One believes he should fight for King and Country, the other, that he should be a pacifist. One says we should follow Jewish law, the other, not.

To which enlightened person do we go to, for information?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 07, 2013, 08:24:22 AM
Let's see, what would make me change my mind?  It's difficult to articulate but I'll try.


I don't know if you realize it, but you didn't actually address the question.  You stated the question and then went on to talk about what you believe.  Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive, but you did not link them together in any way.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 07, 2013, 09:51:50 AM
My mom, in the popular parlance, “led my to the Lord” when I was five years old.  She came into my room one evening to tuck me in and read me the four spiritual laws booklet.  I can remember saying a prayer and experiencing an authentic feeling of joy like that which Christians often talk about.

What you are describing sounds like an epiphany, (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany) a term that originally referred to the manifestation of a divine being (eg: Paul on the road to Damascus) but now usually refers to a moment of sudden realization, which need not be divine in nature.  This can be accompanied by an emotional (and likely chemical) rush that may be overwhelming and which we read far more into than is really there.

It can certainly move us to action and leave a very deep impression on our minds, but by its nature can be deceptive.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 07, 2013, 03:53:40 PM
When people describe the personal relationship they have with Jesus, it sounds way too much like a crush on a movie star who sends out form letters in reponse to fervent emails.

Nobody who crushes on Katy Perry (or whoever) will get a personal visit or even a personal letter or phone call. It will be a member of her staff sending out standard form letters, but it might seem like a real relationship to the chrusher. And the chrusher will cherish the form letter as if it really came from the crushee. Even though the beloved object will never really respond personally to the fan. 

Like with prayers that are always answered yes, no, not yet. And some prayers are never answered yes, like growing amputated limbs back.....
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 07, 2013, 08:24:18 PM
But what if God shows up and clearly demonstrates that He is the God as revealed in the bible? The POV expressed seems to eliminate that possibility - that seems an incredible position to take, and it's what I'm questioning.
I would be extremely suspicious if something showed up, claiming to be YHWH, exactly as described in the Bible, specifically because the Bible is more than a little contradictory on the nature of YHWH.  It would come across more as something that was slavishly copying the description of YHWH rather than the genuine article, at least to me.  And remember what I said about how people made up stuff about historical figures who actually lived?  That would hold true for a god as well, even a real one.

It will actually be pretty easy to know when Jesus returns to earth. If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 07, 2013, 09:55:35 PM
^^^Same thing with Allah, Vishnu or Shango. If you have to ask, it's not them.

But you still have to account for the really savvy, powerful shape-shifting alien who can appear in any form. Maybe even put thoughts in our heads in any language: "I am Christ the lord, I have returned my children." A few bible quotes, a few nifty miracle healings and blammo. Christians will fall for it, hook line and sinker.

If that ever happens, you know who will save your butt from the alien hordes? Atheists, that's who. :D
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 07, 2013, 10:00:14 PM
For sure.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 07, 2013, 10:34:06 PM
If you look again at my original post you will see that I said that in order to lose my faith in Christ “I would have to lose my experience with Christ first”.  I did not say that I could never lose my experience with Christ or that I thought it impossible in principle to be presented with evidence that would outweigh the evidential impact of my experience.  Now I certainly think it is highly unlikely that I could be presented with evidence that could overrule my experience with Christ, but that kind of sentiment is common to any person who believes something passionately.
You have gotten to the heart of the difficulties inherent in belief, G&W. Your "experience with Christ" is completely internal, and it is fueled by the enormous passion of your belief. Being internal to you, it is also impossible to falsify. There is nothing anyone can say that will invalidate the internal emotional response you experience from your passionate belief. I'm not saying this makes you closed-minded, per se, but please be aware that the one thing that convinces you that your belief is correct is something that cannot be logically challenged.

Also, FWIW, I don't think it is even possible to "passionately believe" in atheism. I am an atheist only because there are too many logical inconsistencies within religious belief. That's it. I want to believe that my dad and grandma will be waiting for me with open arms in the afterlife, but unfortunately an afterlife just doesn't make a lick of logical sense to me. Period. And I don't think it would to anyone who fully considered all it's ramifications, either. As far I'm concerned[1], the very notion that a singular consciousness can (or should) exist forever is simply absurd. This is only one example.
 1. as well as many others here
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 08, 2013, 07:35:33 AM
It will actually be pretty easy to know when Jesus returns to earth. If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.

Don't be so sure.  The jews thought it would be a slam dunk to know when the messiah showed up.  Yet, they are pretty sure he hasn't. On the other hand, you think he has, he just wasn't what they were expecting.   So I would say given that 100% of the the hebrew messiahs to show up thus far have not met their peoples' expectations, it's pretty good odds the next one won't either.

For all you know the second coming already came and went. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on May 08, 2013, 07:51:10 AM
It will actually be pretty easy to know when Jesus returns to earth. If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.
Exactly.  Someone, probably lots of someones, will ask if it's really Jesus.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 08, 2013, 08:02:40 AM
If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.

Have you thought that this would also be an excellent tool for a fake to use to discourage anyone asking too many questions?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 08, 2013, 11:23:19 AM
Thanks for your response.  I will try to be concise in my answer, but I do have a lot of thoughts in response to your post so please bear with me.  You asked me: “how do you know your experience was ‘with Christ’”.  I would say that there are a couple of reasons:
      First, while all religions claim some kind of an experience (heck, I have even talked to an atheist who told me about the extreme sense of happiness he felt while deconverting from Christianity) they most certainly do not claim the same kind of experience.  I have told Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons about my deeply felt personal relationship with Christ and they look at me with a bewildered look like they haven’t got a clue what I am talking about.  Now they are certainly eager to pray with me so that I can experience the same ‘burning in the bossom’ that they experience, but I have never had one say, “Oh, you have already had a religious experience; did you know you are actually experiencing the Mormon God rather than Christ?”
     Second, while I have sometimes mistakenly answered when another person was calling for someone else (some names like Randy and Andy sound alike), I have never forgotten my own name and answered to another name because I couldn’t remember my own.  Do you honestly think that if God exists he doesn’t even know his own name?  Imagine that a Muslim comes over to my house, and after we have a long discussion and find out that we disagree on practically everything except that there is an ‘uncaused cause’ he says to me, “you called out to Christ and had a religious experience so maybe Allah decided to answer you even though you prayed in Jesus’ name; therefore , I see no need to attempt to change any of your beliefs or behavior”.  Does this sound like something a devoted Muslim would say? If you have read the Qur’an, does it sound like something Allah would do?

But this is missing my point almost entirely, and it doesn't really deal with the fact that many of us here (myself included) used to say the exact same thing you are claiming. "Oh I had an experience with Christ and I could never deny it." How do you know you had an experience with Christ? [You didn't answer the question] Did you see this "thing" with your physical eyes? Did you hear an audible, recordable, voice? Did you "feel" anything demonstrable to others? Your claim is no different (whatever) from those who claim to have "experienced" Krishna (or any number of other alleged deities of the past). It would be a good idea to do your homework on this because these claims to "personal experience" of the alleged "God" are not new. They predate both Christianity AND Judaism by thousands of years. Which is more likely, that you have misinterpreted an emotional response you had (falsely attributing it to a God, like so many in the past have done), or that you actually experienced the supernatural?

But notice how your response alludes to emotion. You claim this "deeply felt" thing. But that isn't any different (at all) from that of many other religions! Just claiming a different kind of "experience" doesn't give you any more credibility (especially when your claims cannot be demonstrated to anyone else). Now, doesn't that sound familiar?? You have a belief (not knowledge or demonstration) that you have a "personal relationship with Jesus". But lots of religions claim to have personal relationships (in some form or another) with their gods. How is this any different from just being gullible and believing superstition? My guess, though, is that if we pressed you on this alleged "relationship" you think you have with Jesus your claims would break down - just like that of your competitors. We could ask you to demonstrate (bring forth) this "Jesus", to which we might hear a reply that sounds very much like the Hindu gurus in India who claim to be able to do miracles on call but then refuse - so as not to be falsified. "Oh, we worship him in 'spirit'." What a perfect way to make your belief system immune from evidence!

Finally, let me just say this. The only "personal relationships" we have to base our knowledge upon are those we find with other physical living beings (mammals, etc) and that is because they are the only ones that have been demonstrated consistently (claims and demonstrations are quite different you know). Without using your bible as an emergency "get out of jail free card", can you demonstrate this "person" of whom you claim to have a "personal relationship"?? If you can't, then is it any wonder why we are going to think you are falsely believing in this subjective emotional feeling and calling it "Jesus"?

median

p.s. - Remember, I used to think I had a "personal relationship" with Jesus too (and sounded very similar to you for nearly 20 years) but later realized it was simply a false attribution of emotional response to what I had already been pre-conditioned (by our Judeo-Christian society etc) to believe. But starting with a conclusion is backwards. In nearly all other endeavors in life (regarding things that directly effect our well being) we start with a hypothesis and skepticism (such as if a fast talking salesman comes to the door). Why should this be any different for any alleged "experience" claim of the supposed supernatural? I maintain that it should not.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 08, 2013, 11:54:27 AM
When I was young, I had extremely vivid imaginings (frankly, I never stopped having a vivid imagination, I just learned how to not let it run away with me).  Vivid enough that they seemed "more than real", and the emotions I got from them were, in fact, real emotions I felt, but they were because of experiences that only existed in my mind.

      I am assuming that you are sincere in your beliefs, and as such I don’t really blame you for looking at my claim to have experienced a relationship with Christ with a great degree of suspicion.  When I talked about what I thought I could give up before becoming an atheist I wasn’t necessarily trying to say that you should become a theist based on my claimed experience.   All I was saying was that for me, my experience constitutes a type of positive evidence for God’s existence that would remain regardless of the fate of other theist arguments.  It would be a different story, however, if you could present me with evidence that shows that God does not exist – I would then have to balance it against my experience and come to a conclusion at that time. 
      I would say that my relationship  with Christ has caused me to experience a spectrum of emotions that is very similar to the emotional response that one would experience in a relationship with a best friend.  So you say that my emotional experience is just the result of something that I have imagined – let’s try a thought experiment.  You told me that you have a ‘vivid imagination’ that can make imaginary things seem ‘more than real’ – let’s see if you can imagine one of the best kinds of friends, a significant other.  If you are not single, then imagine that you are (it shouldn’t be too hard, we’ve all been there before).  Now imagine the significant other of your dreams - have you imagined that person so that he or she seems ‘more than real’? Now for the crucial part: imagine having a relationship with that realistic figment of your imagination so that you experience the emotional fulfillment that ideally goes along with finding that someone who ‘completes you’. 
     Assuming that you don’t plan on having children and you already have other friends to do things with, do you have any need to go out and search for a real mate?   Keep in mind all that advantages of an imaginary significant other: no arguments, no need to buy real flowers, no need to remember birthdates or anniversaries, no need to worry about splitting up or getting divorced, etc.  It’s really odd that despite our amazing powers of imagination and the large numbers of people who have real relationship issues that more singles haven’t figured this trick out – isn’t it?  It seems to me that some emotional experiences are unlikely to have been generated by way of imagination.  I therefore submit to you that my relational experience initiated in response to my acceptance of Christ constitutes legitimate non-communicable evidence.

Can you see how credulous and contradictory this is? You've admitted that all you have is a "spectrum of emotions" (to a non-demonstrable thing - which is therefore no different from a childhood imaginary friend) and that you've had a "relational experience" in "non-communicable evidence". How is this any different from superstition and credulity? Have you even thought to critically examine these alleged experiences? Have you not considered that our interpretations of our cognitive faculties can often be very misleading? Not to be rude, but why is your standard of evidence so low? Personal experience alone is not sufficient to justify belief in the miraculous. And it certainly doesn't assist you in honestly discussing what it might take to change your view! Indeed, it makes your view look indistinguishable from one that is unfalsifiable.

median

p.s. - Notice how earlier in your post you demonstrated the fallacy of Shifting the Burden of Proof? You said, "It would be a different story, however, if you could present me with evidence that shows that God does not exist" How backwards! So you started with your conclusion ("This must have been Jesus I felt") and now your taking the William Lane Craig approach of an unfalsifiable assumption? How absurd, hypocritical, and dishonest! So you came to my OP knowing that your belief system is FIXED (i.e. - that you are absolutely closed-minded to the possibility that you are mistaken) and that you never really intended to actively/honestly participate in this discussion. Wow.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on May 08, 2013, 12:51:40 PM
Greenandwhite[1]:

Here's the problem with your approach to this.  You had a powerful experience when you were five years old, an age at which children are not known for being especially rational thinkers.  I'm not going to tell you how you should interpret an experience like that, but you really shouldn't set your mind in stone that it was caused by God or Jesus simply because that's the conclusion you first reached.

You said, "I can remember saying a prayer and experiencing an authentic feeling of joy like that which Christians often talk about."  Well, fair enough.  But can you be sure that you didn't have this feeling of joy simply because you expected to have it, based on what your mother had been reading to you?  What we expect to happen because of something often causes us to interpret what actually happens in a way that confirms our prior expectations.
 1. Is it okay to call you Green, or would you prefer something else?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 08, 2013, 02:44:46 PM
Greenandwhite,
What you are describing sounds no different from what the Mormons claim. "I read the Book of Mormon and just knew it was true. It gave me a wonderful feeling of joy" etc. But feelings alone are not always correctly identified or placed. And, unfortunately, we live a world that breeds gullibility and superstitiousness. So this isn't really a good reason for thinking that Jesus or "The Holy Spirit" are real things.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 08, 2013, 03:00:57 PM
If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.

Have you thought that this would also be an excellent tool for a fake to use to discourage anyone asking too many questions?

There won't be questions. That's my point.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 08, 2013, 03:02:20 PM
It will actually be pretty easy to know when Jesus returns to earth. If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.

Don't be so sure.  The jews thought it would be a slam dunk to know when the messiah showed up.  Yet, they are pretty sure he hasn't. On the other hand, you think he has, he just wasn't what they were expecting.   So I would say given that 100% of the the hebrew messiahs to show up thus far have not met their peoples' expectations, it's pretty good odds the next one won't either.

For all you know the second coming already came and went.

The difference is that Jesus came first at a man. That isn't how He'll return.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 08, 2013, 03:05:04 PM
Don't be so sure.  The jews thought it would be a slam dunk to know when the messiah showed up.  Yet, they are pretty sure he hasn't. On the other hand, you think he has, he just wasn't what they were expecting.   So I would say given that 100% of the the hebrew messiahs to show up thus far have not met their peoples' expectations, it's pretty good odds the next one won't either.

For all you know the second coming already came and went.

The difference is that Jesus came first at a man. That isn't how He'll return.

you lost me.  I have no idea what you are trying to say nor how it makes any kind of a point.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 08, 2013, 03:08:16 PM
I'm just making the point that Jesus return won't be even slightly ambiguous. According to the NT.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 08, 2013, 03:18:36 PM
I'm just making the point that Jesus return won't be even slightly ambiguous. According to the NT.

Ah.  Well.  That's what the jews thought the first time around. 

How is it that you completely missed my point?  Are you not reading my posts?  Or is my conclusion too unpallatable to concede I have a valid point?  Is this sort of a willful-pouty thing you're doing?  Stamping your foot and insisting you'll know when jesus H returns to kill everyone?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jaimehlers on May 08, 2013, 03:22:12 PM
There won't be questions. That's my point.
There most certainly will be, and not just from nonbelievers.

And that assumes the depiction of the second coming in the New Testament is accurate and true.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 08, 2013, 03:34:23 PM
I'm just making the point that Jesus return won't be even slightly ambiguous. According to the NT.
If that is the case, then it means that the 1st coming of Jesus did not have to be even slightly ambiguous.  Or rather it at least brings up the question of why did the 1st coming have to be at least slightly ambiguous.

If unquestionable knowledge can be bestowed upon us by the divine then why is there any ambiguity with the god concept?  If it's a 'free will' issue, well, this unquestionably unambiguous second coming seems to strictly violate that, so I don't see how it can be a free will issue.  If it's all part of some kind of 'spiritual training exercise' as some believers seem to claim Earthly life is, of what benefit is the obfuscating of the rules if knowledge of the rules can be unquestionably known (knowledge of them unquestionably bestowed upon the all humanity)?

If, instead, what you mean by:
There won't be questions. That's my point.
is that the 2nd coming will be just so damn impressive that no one would question it...well, I assure you there will be someone to question it.  At the very least I'll be asking if it actually is Jesus or just Mister Mxyzptlk screwing with me.  Or possibly Satan screwing with me.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 08, 2013, 03:55:49 PM
I'm just making the point that Jesus return won't be even slightly ambiguous. According to the NT.

Ah.  Well.  That's what the jews thought the first time around. 

I know that. No argument.



How is it that you completely missed my point?  Are you not reading my posts?  Or is my conclusion too unpallatable to concede I have a valid point?  Is this sort of a willful-pouty thing you're doing?  Stamping your foot and insisting you'll know when jesus H returns to kill everyone?

I get your point, but it doesn't change the fact that I believe the NT depiction of Jesus return. I don't expect you or any skeptic to believe the same, but so what? It's discussion, right?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 08, 2013, 04:00:20 PM
Are you not personally responsible for your decision to believe it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 08, 2013, 04:08:10 PM
Are you not personally responsible for your decision to believe it?

Good question.

I'm responsible for my decision to accept something I have no choice in believing.

Would you say you have any say in what you do and don't believe? (about anything)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 08, 2013, 04:32:55 PM
It depends on whether I'm being convinced, or compelled.  If I am convinced, then it is the strength of the reasoning I'm being given that makes me believe - that is an outside force.  If I am compelled, then it is my own decision to adhere or not.  Religious beliefs fall into the latter category, in my experience.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: kcrady on May 08, 2013, 11:23:11 PM


Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.

I missed this earlier.

Are you saying that if the universe had a creator, and therefore a designer, that this creator would be what you, the designed and created person, say it would be? Really?

I think you just rephrased Hierophant's point. :)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 09, 2013, 02:28:29 AM
If you have to ask if that's really Jesus, then it isn't.

Have you thought that this would also be an excellent tool for a fake to use to discourage anyone asking too many questions?

There won't be questions. That's my point.

As you've said, your assumption is that when Christ returns he will have burning eyes and feet, carrying stars, and with a two-headed sword coming from his mouth, then yeah - I guess that WOULD be pretty hard to question.

(Side note: why a 2-headed sword?  Sounds horribly like a forked serpent's tongue to me.  And burning feet?  Frankly, John's revelation of Christ sounds far more like the stereotypical Satan to me, but I digress.)

So yeah.  Given that, it would be pretty hard (though not impossible) to dispute.  I was thinking about a guy popping up and saying "I'm Jesus - no question.  Anyone who has questions is clearly a heretic and instrument of Satan, stone them!"

But going back to the depiction in Revelation.....is Christ going to appear to everyone, everywhere, at once?  Because if he just appears in one country, and I am only seeing it on the TV....well, I've seen Cloverfield and that all looked pretty real.  I also saw Bigfoot on video - yet I have questions there.  So I'm wondering how exactly it will be able to tell, absolutely and without any possibility of faking, that Christ has actually returned.

Minor sub-point.  Isn't his return supposed to be unheralded and without warning?  So by the time we are going "oh - that's Jesus!" won't it already be too late?  In other words, by the time I've got the evidence I NEED to believe Christ exists, I will already be screwed?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 09, 2013, 08:20:22 AM
I get your point, but it doesn't change the fact that I believe the NT depiction of Jesus return.

I doubt you do get my point.  You can believe it and still not understand what it really means.  All the jews believed in the coming of a messiah (and continue to do so).  According you to, as you have acknowledged, his coming was not quite what they expected.  But they still believed the OT depiction of the messiah's coming. 

Similarly, while I do not doubt you believe the NT depiction, you may not understand what god has in mind.  You have an interpretation, an image in your head, of what the NT says the second coming is.  But it is your interpretation and there is room for other interpretations. 

For example, take the line about jesus H having a sword coming out of his mouth.  That has to be interpreted.  You can interpret it literally - a guy with a 2 foot long steel blade sticking straight out of his mouth.  But even literally you can take it several different ways.  Is it a double edged sword or a single edge?  Is it straight or curved?  Is it short, like a dagger, or is it a two meter long Scottish claymore?  Is the point sticking out or the pommel?  Is it steel or is it another metal?  Is it a real sword or is it "spiritual"?  All these options and we've not even started on the interpretations of it as metaphor.

It's like if I were to say I am sitting in a chair.  You imagine some generic chair and think you know what I'm talking about.  But really, there are a zillion kinds of chairs and the likelihood that you are imagining the exact kind of chair I am sitting in is extremely low.

So your idea of what the second coming will be is just one of hundreds or thousands of ideas.  The odds are against you being right.  Your claim that it will be unmistakable in the light of this strikes me as rather arrogant, petulant and stubborn.  Sure, you can say "I think it will be unmistakable", but if you are being honest, you also have to admit you are probably wrong.  Just like you think the jews were.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: madame_zora on May 09, 2013, 11:31:08 AM
Religion is an indoctrination of how to handle emotion. We're not going to reason very many people out of religion, because they didn't reason their way in. Believing in bedtime stories at 5 years old because you love your mother is not a reasoned decision. It seems justified, especially at that age, but it's not reason.

Having a powerful emotional experience with one's own subconscious mind is overwhelming. Philosophers spend their whole lives sometimes to achieve this without the artifacts of "faith". Some eastern religions/philosophies encourage the use of avatars to convey one to the depths of one's own mind, at least for a while, to protect the self-image that we rely upon so heavily in order to maintain continuity. Can you imagine the full weight of self-realisation coming upon a person without a firm grasp of who they are, and where they might fit into the cosmic scheme?

Religion is a simplification. I'm not defending it, I'm just acknowledging that most people are not going to break down their self-constructed images of what their life is all about- mostly because they can't. Gods and images change and evolve along with one's self-image. You'll never pin it down, people will squirm around as if their very life depends on it. In many respects, it does.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 09, 2013, 11:35:13 AM
Religion is an indoctrination of how to handle emotion. We're not going to reason very many people out of religion, because they didn't reason their way in. Believing in bedtime stories at 5 years old because you love your mother is not a reasoned decision. It seems justified, especially at that age, but it's not reason.

Having a powerful emotional experience with one's own subconscious mind is overwhelming. Philosophers spend their whole lives sometimes to achieve this without the artifacts of "faith". Some eastern religions/philosophies encourage the use of avatars to convey one to the depths of one's own mind, at least for a while, to protect the self-image that we rely upon so heavily in order to maintain continuity. Can you imagine the full weight of self-realisation coming upon a person without a firm grasp of who they are, and where they might fit into the cosmic scheme?

Religion is a simplification. I'm not defending it, I'm just acknowledging that most people are not going to break down their self-constructed images of what their life is all about- mostly because they can't. Gods and images change and evolve along with one's self-image. You'll never pin it down, people will squirm around as if their very life depends on it. In many respects, it does.

I am a direct counter-example to this argument. And there are many others.

median

p.s. - "The old shit" does in fact count according to Jesus' alleged words (never pass away) and other passages, etc. This is why we ex-believers argue that the bible is self-contradictory and shouldn't be taken as an authority on these subjects.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 09, 2013, 03:00:29 PM
I reasoned my way out as an adult, after being taught the JW religion since birth. I studied up on different religions and gradually realized they were all made up by people. There was enough critical information about every religion from other religions to conclude that they were all full of holes.

None of them have produced any information not available to the people of the era; none of them have any evidence for their magical miracles; and none even have the basic morality stuff right (like women's equality, and no slavery). None of them are clear and unambiguous as to what their god is all about.

All are bogus and contradictory. All are geographically limited. All depend on word games and emotional appeals. And, most telling, all expect me to shut off my brain and accept some nonsense that would never fly in any area of life other than religion.

Any religion that shows up without these major flaws? Maybe we can talk.  &)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 01:38:49 AM
     Trouble is, if you follow that line of thinking, you must argue that NO Muslim has EVER had any religious experiences.  Ever....So either they are all lying, or it is entirely possible that a person can have what feels like a religious experience without any god being involved at all.  (Actually that IS possible - Derren Brown showed quite conclusively that a religious experience could be instilled in only a quarter hour or so).  And if you've conceded that a religious experience IS possible without god, then by what token can you be 100% positive that the experience you had was real?

     In post #74 I argued that the experiences that the various religions claim are qualitatively different.  As far as I know,(you can correct me if I am mistaken) the Christian claim to have a personal relationship with Christ is a unique claim.  I have no problem conceding that it is possible to have a 'religious' experience that is not attached to a real God, and I would like to give my complements to Derren Brown for demonstrating this (it was very entertaining viewing material while I rode my exercise bike the other night).  In my opinion, however, there are two false assumptions that Mr. Brown makes:
     -first, he assumes that 5 minutes of hysterical emotion accurately approximates the ongoing relational experience that a Christian feels (he might have closely approximated a conversion experience but I am wondering where the 'daily walk' was represented in his act)
     -second, he assumes that if he demonstrates that it is possible for a 'religious experience' to be detached from any divine entity that he has proven that all are so detached (this would be like saying to someone who is in an online relationship, "Did you see what happened to Manti Te'o? The same thing is necessarily happening to you too.")
     You ask me how I can be 100% certain that my relationship with Christ is authentic.  I don't think I have claimed absolute certainty; if I have, please point to the relevant post.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 01:53:03 AM
     One thing we do know, is that this experience yields no information, otherwise there would have been a consistent religion developed in the last 3000 years, by all the mystics who have meditated on "God".  In other words, there may be two Christians who have a personal experience on Christ; one believes in hell, the other not. One believes he should fight for King and Country, the other, that he should be a pacifist. One says we should follow Jewish law, the other, not.  To which enlightened person do we go to, for information?

     I had no idea that the production of doctrinal material was supposed to be the criteria for measuring the authenticity of someone's alleged relationship with Christ.  It seems to me that the philosophers and theologians are doing a fine job of filling the libraries.  If you happen to be in a seminary library and come across a theology textbook  :) take a gander to the back of the book and check out the sources - if you happen to find an entry labeled "my experience with Christ" then let me know.  Incidentally, divergence of opinion is often the result of multiple recipients and not due to a confused sender or an ambiguous situation.  Take the goal that Mika Zibanejad scored a couple of nights ago against the Montreal Canadiens.  Millions of people saw it, we can play back the tape over and over, we can slow down the footage as much as we like and yet there are a million people in Montreal who think the goal should have been disallowed and an equal number in Ottawa who think the opposite.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 01:59:35 AM
     What you are describing sounds like an epiphany, (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany) a term that originally referred to the manifestation of a divine being (eg: Paul on the road to Damascus) but now usually refers to a moment of sudden realization, which need not be divine in nature.  This can be accompanied by an emotional (and likely chemical) rush that may be overwhelming and which we read far more into than is really there.  It can certainly move us to action and leave a very deep impression on our minds, but by its nature can be deceptive.

     I'm familiar with epiphanies, I experience them all the time...like when I suddenly realize that I think I know the answer to a question that has been posted on this blog (usually a premature celebration  :)  I get all excited and likely feel some kind of a chemical rush which probably explains why I sometimes suddenly wake up at 6:30AM and jump out of bed to write something down before I forget it.  So far I haven't mistaken this euphoric feeling for my relationship with Christ; but who knows, maybe with some more time spent on this forum...
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 02:08:24 AM
     When people describe the personal relationship they have with Jesus, it sounds way too much like a crush on a movie star who sends out form letters in reponse to fervent emails. Nobody who crushes on Katy Perry (or whoever) will get a personal visit or even a personal letter or phone call. It will be a member of her staff sending out standard form letters, but it might seem like a real relationship to the chrusher. And the chrusher will cherish the form letter as if it really came from the crushee. Even though the beloved object will never really respond personally to the fan.  Like with prayers that are always answered yes, no, not yet. And some prayers are never answered yes, like growing amputated limbs back.....

     I think I can do you one better than a form letter sent out from a movie star; you see, in Saskatchewan we have this religious sect called 'Rider Pride'.  Now perhaps I should have stated up front in my intro that I am a member of a fanatical religious sect, so I will do my best to come clean now.  In Rider Nation we exhibit all the qualities that new atheists ascribe to religion: we inculcate our children in the ways of the green and white from an early age, we travel throughout the country attempting to convert people to our cause, we make more 'donations' than all the followers of all the other 'religions' combined, and we endure great hardship to watch our beloved team play (which usually results in more hardship :)).  As you can imagine, the most exhilarating thing that can happen to a 'Rider Prider' is to actually meet one of the Riders and get one's jersey signed.  I know, its hard to believe, but I have met my favorite Rider, I have a signed jersey, and shockingly my relational experience with Christ is still distinctly intact. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 02:12:33 AM
Hi Azdgari and median.  I see you are both watching; I hate to disappoint you both but it is 1:12 here in Saskatchewan and I have to go to work tomorrow.  Hope you don't mind if I finish my responses tomorrow  :)
     Have a good night
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 10, 2013, 02:14:21 AM
     Trouble is, if you follow that line of thinking, you must argue that NO Muslim has EVER had any religious experiences.  Ever....So either they are all lying, or it is entirely possible that a person can have what feels like a religious experience without any god being involved at all.  (Actually that IS possible - Derren Brown showed quite conclusively that a religious experience could be instilled in only a quarter hour or so).  And if you've conceded that a religious experience IS possible without god, then by what token can you be 100% positive that the experience you had was real?

     In post #74 I argued that the experiences that the various religions claim are qualitatively different.  As far as I know,(you can correct me if I am mistaken) the Christian claim to have a personal relationship with Christ is a unique claim.  I have no problem conceding that it is possible to have a 'religious' experience that is not attached to a real God, and I would like to give my complements to Derren Brown for demonstrating this (it was very entertaining viewing material while I rode my exercise bike the other night).  In my opinion, however, there are two false assumptions that Mr. Brown makes:
     -first, he assumes that 5 minutes of hysterical emotion accurately approximates the ongoing relational experience that a Christian feels (he might have closely approximated a conversion experience but I am wondering where the 'daily walk' was represented in his act)
     -second, he assumes that if he demonstrates that it is possible for a 'religious experience' to be detached from any divine entity that he has proven that all are so detached (this would be like saying to someone who is in an online relationship, "Did you see what happened to Manti Te'o? The same thing is necessarily happening to you too.")
     You ask me how I can be 100% certain that my relationship with Christ is authentic.  I don't think I have claimed absolute certainty; if I have, please point to the relevant post.

So basically, you're practicing credulity. You're willing to believe that your alleged religious experience is "Jesus", in the face of the fact that you have been both raised in a Judeo Christian culture and were likely prepared to accept it's assumptions (and emotional motivations), and quite uncritically. You can't demonstrate this alleged "Jesus" thing which you claim to have an "ongoing personal relationship" with and your story sounds fundamentally indistinguishable from a 4th grader who says he has an invisible friend named Fred. To this point as well, children will often vehemently defend their assertions to this "friend"! But how is this in any way different from pure superstition? "Oh, I have this ongoing relational experience with aliens. I can't demonstrate it but it is actually real." Why is your standard of evidence so low when it comes to your religious belief? Did you not know that the, "This experience just can't be rightly explained any other way" argument is faulty?

It seems that your mechanism for separating fact from fiction is not firing on all cylinders (and is indeed being hindered by a "faith" - a dressed up gullibility). In a different light, how is your claim different in truth value than those at the mental hospital who make similar claims?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 10, 2013, 03:55:09 AM
     I had no idea that the production of doctrinal material was supposed to be the criteria for measuring the authenticity of someone's alleged relationship with Christ.
Well, you do now.
Quote
  It seems to me that the philosophers and theologians are doing a fine job of filling the libraries.
That is to be expected, if they have no relationship with Christ, and are doing what Christians just about always do: argue from doctrine and personal preference.
Quote
Take the goal that Mika Zibanejad scored a couple of nights ago against the Montreal Canadiens.  Millions of people saw it, we can play back the tape over and over, we can slow down the footage as much as we like and yet there are a million people in Montreal who think the goal should have been disallowed and an equal number in Ottawa who think the opposite.
At least we have the tape.

In the case of the Apostle Paul, he laid down a large amount of text, that Christians take seriously, and as you say, could just be one incredibly biased chap's interpretation of something completely different. Jesus may have been up there, saying, "Paul, you have to follow Jewish law", and Paul could be saying, "Yeah, we should follow the bits that make sense!". And Jesus could be, like, "No, Paul, ALL of it." And Paul could be like, "All the bits that make sense, right". And Jesus could be like, "No, it all makes sense." And then Paul could say, "What? Did you see that grasshopper?"

What I'm saying, is that Christian interpretation of information from Jesus, is about as reliable as the Canadiens who think the goal shouldn't have been allowed. (Here, I make the grand assumption that there is any information from Jesus, at all. If there were none, it would explain the complete disarray on doctrinal issues.)

Though, we do have a general consensus on how we should spell Jesus' name, because iesu would be mad if we got it wrong, and worshipped the incorrect Joshua, or Yehashua, or whatever. Jesus would have taken the time to tell us his real name, right? You can't ask Jesus for a relationship, if you don't know his name. Maybe that's half the trouble.

Personally, I think his name is FROG. Do you have any objection with that? Every night, I pray to FROG, and ask him to make me successful in battle, and for penis extension. FROG has two parents, named the WHOLY FROG, and FRILLY FROG SPIRIT.

You can see, I have got it basically right? Can you ask you Jesus to clear up some facts for me, about life in 30AD. There is some stuff we'd like to know. More especially, we'd like to know what the hell Paul was talking about in Galatians.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 10, 2013, 04:31:21 AM

As you've said, your assumption is that when Christ returns he will have burning eyes and feet, carrying stars, and with a two-headed sword coming from his mouth, then yeah - I guess that WOULD be pretty hard to question.

I don't necessarily believe it will be exactly as John describes it in revelation, but, yeah...Christ will return as a very obvious King of this world.


But going back to the depiction in Revelation.....is Christ going to appear to everyone, everywhere, at once? 

That is certainly my understanding, and I think, the understanding of most Christians.


Minor sub-point.  Isn't his return supposed to be unheralded and without warning?  So by the time we are going "oh - that's Jesus!" won't it already be too late? 

Yes. It will be too late then.


In other words, by the time I've got the evidence I NEED to believe Christ exists, I will already be screwed?

Only you and God can know for sure whether the charge that you set your heart against God will be justified.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 10, 2013, 04:44:08 AM

You can believe it and still not understand what it really means.  All the jews believed in the coming of a messiah (and continue to do so).  According you to, as you have acknowledged, his coming was not quite what they expected.  But they still believed the OT depiction of the messiah's coming. 

Once more, we have no disagreement there.


Similarly, while I do not doubt you believe the NT depiction, you may not understand what god has in mind.  You have an interpretation, an image in your head, of what the NT says the second coming is.  But it is your interpretation and there is room for other interpretations. 

I agree that I cannot and do not know the specifics, but I disagree that the NT is vague or ambiguous in teaching that Christ will return as king and that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess it.


For example, take the line about jesus H having a sword coming out of his mouth.  That has to be interpreted.  You can interpret it literally - a guy with a 2 foot long steel blade sticking straight out of his mouth.  But even literally you can take it several different ways.  Is it a double edged sword or a single edge?  Is it straight or curved?  Is it short, like a dagger, or is it a two meter long Scottish claymore?  Is the point sticking out or the pommel?  Is it steel or is it another metal?  Is it a real sword or is it "spiritual"?  All these options and we've not even started on the interpretations of it as metaphor.

Sure. Do you read it, though, and think to yourself that Jesus will creep back into the world via a manger in Israel, or similar?


It's like if I were to say I am sitting in a chair.  You imagine some generic chair and think you know what I'm talking about.  But really, there are a zillion kinds of chairs and the likelihood that you are imagining the exact kind of chair I am sitting in is extremely low.

I get it. For the record, I'm guessing high backed leather swivel chair.


So your idea of what the second coming will be is just one of hundreds or thousands of ideas.  The odds are against you being right.  Your claim that it will be unmistakable in the light of this strikes me as rather arrogant, petulant and stubborn.  Sure, you can say "I think it will be unmistakable", but if you are being honest, you also have to admit you are probably wrong.  Just like you think the jews were.

Covered above.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on May 10, 2013, 04:47:57 AM
So, if you likely would be a follower of allah today had your mom indoctrinated you that way, it clearly suggests that you would not know that you believed in something false. Is it far fetched to assume that this is also true for any other set of beliefs unsubstantiated by reality?

      I think it is definitely possible to believe something false and not know it, but I do question whether it is possible to believe something false and not have any way of knowing about it in principle.  I said in my original post: “I could conceivably give up every single one of the theist arguments and so long as I still was experiencing Christ it wouldn’t matter.”  I did not say anything about possible evidence against God’s existence; I only described a hypothetical lack of evidence for God’s existence.  If all other arguments for God’s existence were to be taken out of the picture except personal experience, I still think that personal experience would constitute a type of valid evidence.  If I was presented with evidence against God’s existence then I would have to weigh the strengths of that evidence against the strength of my experiential evidence.  I apologize for neglecting to mention the role of possible negative evidence against God’s existence in my original post.
You contradicted yourself in the first two sentences. You actually have a way of knowing though, because we at WWGHA are telling you that you are believing in something wrong. Furthermore, unlike the set of beliefs we are not simply asking you to believe us on faith, we want you to actually look at the evidence. There is a fatal flaw at every step of the way beginning with your mom putting this on you as an impressionable 5 year old.

You claim to be experiencing christ, but you cannot demonstrate this, not even slightly. Nor can you differentiate your experience from the experience of someone of any other religion that we both agree is incorrect. In other posts you seem to be arguing that your experience though similar to those of other faiths is also different. By definition of that argument, they can make the exact same claim you can, "yeah his belief in Jesus is similar to mine, but it aint the same as Krishna!" and then they can conclude that your belief is in a false god.

You say you would have to weigh the evidence against your god and compare it to the "evidence" of your personal experience. I would like to do so as well, so if you can present us with that evidence I will also go about weighing against the fact that everything Ive read in the bible seems to be false. Everything. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 10, 2013, 08:29:13 AM
I agree that I cannot and do not know the specifics, but I disagree that the NT is vague or ambiguous in teaching that Christ will return as king and that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess it.

Can you tell me what the jewish messianic prophesies are?


Do you read it, though, and think to yourself that Jesus will creep back into the world via a manger in Israel, or similar?

Who the hell knows?  Revelation reads like a bad acid trip.  So much of it is allegory and metaphor I think it is impossible to say what is supposed to be literal and what is not.

For the record, I'm guessing high backed leather swivel chair.

It is a high throne of iron and glass, with jets of fire and arcing electricity.  Dry ice behind the throne makes a fog effect around me.  I alternately play heavy metal or Bach pipe organ music for mood.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 10, 2013, 08:57:52 AM
It is a high throne of iron and glass, with jets of fire and arcing electricity.  Dry ice behind the throne makes a fog effect around me.  I alternately play heavy metal or Bach pipe organ music for mood.

Oh, well, there you go. It's no wonder the second coming has taken so long. We needed Bach to write the score, and probably we needed computers to do the laser show.

I'm just thinking that we may need quantum computers to calculate who has existed in the past, so we can resurrect them. Also, we need an AI to simulate Jesus. This can all be in the game by Apple.

PSSST. Does Miles really believe all this shit?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 10, 2013, 09:05:06 AM
Does Miles really believe all this shit?

He does.  But he also believes the radio works because there are tiny people inside it.[1]
 1. Woody Allen said this of Diane Keaton
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 10, 2013, 09:12:28 AM

As you've said, your assumption is that when Christ returns he will have burning eyes and feet, carrying stars, and with a two-headed sword coming from his mouth, then yeah - I guess that WOULD be pretty hard to question.

I don't necessarily believe it will be exactly as John describes it in revelation, but, yeah...Christ will return as a very obvious King of this world.

Confused.  The detail of his vision may be wrong but you're sure that the underlying event will happen?  Why?

If someone said to me "I dreamed that you won the lottery and you spent all the money on an elephant that you rode around town", I would NOT be thinking "excellent! Clearly I will win the lottery - but I'll buy myself a porsche!"
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 09:31:43 AM
^^^Same thing with Allah, Vishnu or Shango. If you have to ask, it's not them. But you still have to account for the really savvy, powerful shape-shifting alien who can appear in any form. Maybe even put thoughts in our heads in any language: "I am Christ the lord, I have returned my children." A few bible quotes, a few nifty miracle healings and blammo. Christians will fall for it, hook line and sinker. If that ever happens, you know who will save your butt from the alien hordes? Atheists, that's who. :D

     You know, after reading your post I realized that I have a bit of a problem.  I just realized that after 5 years of marriage it is possible that aliens abducted my wife 4 years ago and replaced her with a 'savvy, powerful shape-shifting alien who can appear in any form'; can you 'save' me? In addition, if you believe that this alien being is a possibility then it seems you have undermined your foundation for knowledge as well as mine - who's going to rescue you? Also, you can correct me if I am wrong, but I was not under the impression that Allah, Vishnu, or Shango had ever made any claims to make a physical return to earth. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 09:44:34 AM
     You have gotten to the heart of the difficulties inherent in belief, G&W. Your "experience with Christ" is completely internal, and it is fueled by the enormous passion of your belief. Being internal to you, it is also impossible to falsify. There is nothing anyone can say that will invalidate the internal emotional response you experience from your passionate belief. I'm not saying this makes you closed-minded, per se, but please be aware that the one thing that convinces you that your belief is correct is something that cannot be logically challenged.

     I have described my experience with Christ as providing me with evidence that is 'non-communicable'.  That fact doesn't mean that my belief is unfalsifiable because you have to remember that communication goes both ways: me to you and you to me.  I cannot communicate to you the full evidential impact that my experience has on me but that doesn't mean that you cannot communicate to me evidence that would act as an undercutting defeater to my belief.  For instance, let's say that I say to you that I have this experience that has led me to believe that I am really interacting with Christ; you, being the suspicious sort :), do some digging around and find that my wife has been putting mind altering drugs into my food for the last five years because she is worried that I am going to become an atheist.  Presenting me with evidence like that would give me pause to consider the origin of my belief.  Now if you look back through the posts you will find that lots of people have suggested potential falsifying evidence to me (e.g. imagination, an epiphany, a crush on a celebrity, psychological manipulation, etc...).  I think that those are legitimate concerns that provide potential falsifying evidence; however, I think I have good reason (which I have stated) to believe that those possibilities do not provide the true explanation of my experience.  The fact that I do not consider those possibilities to be accurate descriptions of my belief just means that my belief is, as of yet, unfalsified not unfalsifiable. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 10, 2013, 09:56:20 AM
     It would be a good idea to do your homework on this because these claims to "personal experience" of the alleged "God" are not new. They predate both Christianity AND Judaism by thousands of years...
     But lots of religions claim to have personal relationships (in some form or another) with their gods.

     If I can have a relationship with Christ today without seeing his physical body then I don't see any conceptual difficulty with someone 1,000 years before the time of Christ doing the same - unless you think that Christians only think that Christ came into existence at the incarnation?
     I have claimed that the Christian experience of a personal relationship with Christ is a unique one; you certainly have a great opportunity here to score some rhetorical points by backing up your assertion that other religions also claim to have personal relationships with their gods (which religions are you referring to and can you point me to a web address where other religions give testimony to this experience?)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 10, 2013, 11:29:48 AM
     If I can have a relationship with Christ today without seeing his physical body ...

     I have claimed that the Christian experience of a personal relationship with Christ is a unique one;

Please define this relationship. 

You see, when I hear the word "relationship", certain things come to mind.  None of those things involve an invisible, intangible, non-present being.  When I have asked this of xians in the past, none of what they describe matches any description of the word "relationship" or they have to resort to metaphors and defining word in brand new ways to shoehorn it in. 

So please pardon me if I am skeptical.  Your clarification will be useful.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 10, 2013, 11:53:15 AM
     You have gotten to the heart of the difficulties inherent in belief, G&W. Your "experience with Christ" is completely internal, and it is fueled by the enormous passion of your belief. Being internal to you, it is also impossible to falsify. There is nothing anyone can say that will invalidate the internal emotional response you experience from your passionate belief. I'm not saying this makes you closed-minded, per se, but please be aware that the one thing that convinces you that your belief is correct is something that cannot be logically challenged.

     I have described my experience with Christ as providing me with evidence that is 'non-communicable'.  That fact doesn't mean that my belief is unfalsifiable because you have to remember that communication goes both ways: me to you and you to me.  I cannot communicate to you the full evidential impact that my experience has on me but that doesn't mean that you cannot communicate to me evidence that would act as an undercutting defeater to my belief.  For instance, let's say that I say to you that I have this experience that has led me to believe that I am really interacting with Christ; you, being the suspicious sort :), do some digging around and find that my wife has been putting mind altering drugs into my food for the last five years because she is worried that I am going to become an atheist.  Presenting me with evidence like that would give me pause to consider the origin of my belief.  Now if you look back through the posts you will find that lots of people have suggested potential falsifying evidence to me (e.g. imagination, an epiphany, a crush on a celebrity, psychological manipulation, etc...).  I think that those are legitimate concerns that provide potential falsifying evidence; however, I think I have good reason (which I have stated) to believe that those possibilities do not provide the true explanation of my experience.  The fact that I do not consider those possibilities to be accurate descriptions of my belief just means that my belief is, as of yet, unfalsified not unfalsifiable.

What you have just described here is fundamentally indistinguishable from a belief that is unfalsifiable. The description is an open door for any manner of spin, rationalizing, or internal shape shifting. Why have you made this conclusion (indeed why have you trusted your own interpretation?) when this 'thing' you claim to have experienced is 'non-communicable'? You seem like a pretty intelligent guy. Can you not see this vicious circularity?

A fast talking salesman comes to your door, making claims about a magic solution which he says will cure all illness and decease on contact. He claims that this potion cured his whole family but that it's 'non-communicable'. He then starts spinning and rationalizing away any counter examples to his claims. What a perfect scapegoat! And yet, what a devious way to make your position immune from having to give evidence and/or demonstration. How is this any different from superstition? "I have these experiences with 'Christ', and they are falsifiable, but now I'm not going to allow any interpretation in that would falsify them." WOW. Could you be any more non-critical (and indeed anymore dishonest)?

This assertion that your experiences are 'non-communicable' (although you are communicating them, at least in part, right now) is no different from the claims of my Hindu friends who make similar claims regarding their "felt" experience with their version of God. "Oh you can't talk about it my friend. It is ineffable but rest assured it is therrre." And yet if anyone else tried this tactic on you, you would likely reject it. Can you see the hypocrisy?

Of course, we haven't yet even gotten into the fact that your bible flatly contradicts this idea that the alleged experience of Jesus/Yahweh is non-communicable - quite the opposite in fact (more on this later, if need be). Can you see why your claim looks absolutely identical to someone who simply doesn't have squat and is utterly credulous and gullible?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 10, 2013, 12:11:35 PM
     I have claimed that the Christian experience of a personal relationship with Christ is a unique one; you certainly have a great opportunity here to score some rhetorical points by backing up your assertion that other religions also claim to have personal relationships with their gods (which religions are you referring to and can you point me to a web address where other religions give testimony to this experience?)

"Oh, these are very personal experiences of others. They are 'non-communicable' in the other religions too. So, I really don't need to give web addresses. My other religious friends, from other faiths, know their experiences are the true ones too."

WOW. Can you say credulity? Can you not see how you started with your theological conclusion - accepted it's assertion in advance - and then interpreted your alleged 'non-communicable' experience in a light that is favorable to what you were already psychologically prepared in advance to accept? This is exactly the same as the other religions! The Mormons do it. The JWs do it. My Hindu friends do it. And so do my New-Ager buddies. It's superstition!

Now, your claim to some "unique experience" is of no consequence. Every religion claims their experience is "unique". "Oh those other religions are wrong [at least in part]. Ours is different." So what! Unique doesn't equal true. We already knew that fundamentalist Christianity claims exclusivity (as does Islam, Mormonism, and countless other religions of the past). Again, it's of no consequence. Saying it is so doesn't make it so. You need to demonstrate these extraordinary claims. Otherwise it is reasonable to conclude that you are practicing being gullible.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 11, 2013, 02:22:32 AM
I cannot communicate to you the full evidential impact that my experience has on me but that doesn't mean that you cannot communicate to me evidence that would act as an undercutting defeater to my belief.  For instance, let's say that I say to you that I have this experience that has led me to believe that I am really interacting with Christ; you, being the suspicious sort :), do some digging around and find that my wife has been putting mind altering drugs into my food for the last five years because she is worried that I am going to become an atheist.  Presenting me with evidence like that would give me pause to consider the origin of my belief.
I don't know if such a machine even exists, but if it were possible to demonstrate to you the increase in endorphins your brain receives whenever you think about how much Jesus loves you, would you consider that evidence enough? Because that is the how an emotional response to positive stimuli works. Its almost like the mind-altering drugs in your food example you gave above.

In another thread, I used the example of a schoolboy receiving a note saying "I love you and want to be your girlfriend" from a beautiful classmate on whom he has an enormous crush. His passionate emotional response would certainly be a wonderful sense of euphoria which would be very real to him, so long as he remains unaware that the note (and the girl's affection) was intended for the boy seated at the desk behind him.

I would never dispute that the emotions you experience as a result of your beliefs are certainly real. I'm simply saying that one's emotions can be easily manipulated by something one really wants to be true, even when that thing is anything but.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 11, 2013, 03:33:24 AM

In another thread, I used the example of a schoolboy receiving a note saying "I love you and want to be your girlfriend" from a beautiful classmate on whom he has an enormous crush. His passionate emotional response would certainly be a wonderful sense of euphoria which would be very real to him, so long as he remains unaware that the note (and the girl's affection) was intended for the boy seated at the desk behind him.



If she's so careless that she allows that to happen he's dodged a bullet.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 11, 2013, 03:51:58 AM
^^ Funny you should say that.  If a god is so careless that it allows its message to suffer a similar fate, or worse, then do those who fail to receive it also "dodge a bullet"?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 11, 2013, 04:02:04 AM
It's Saturday night and I'm onto my 4th beer. Don't ask me any serious questions till Monday.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 11, 2013, 09:53:43 AM
It's Saturday night and I'm onto my 4th beer. Don't ask me any serious questions till Monday.

Fair 'nuff.

Who is coolest?  Han Solo or Zaphod Beeblebrox?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 11, 2013, 11:03:53 AM
It's Saturday night and I'm onto my 4th beer. Don't ask me any serious questions till Monday.


Galatians 5:21 - Drunkenness ... and such like ... they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Jag on May 11, 2013, 11:05:13 AM
It's Saturday night and I'm onto my 4th beer. Don't ask me any serious questions till Monday.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 11, 2013, 02:37:06 PM
If she's so careless that she allows that to happen he's dodged a bullet.
Be that as it may, the obvious point stands: People can experience real feelings as a result of something that is unreal, untrue, and/or completely imaginary. A genuine emotional response in no way validates its source as genuine.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: tapdancingcow on May 11, 2013, 09:44:02 PM
What would it take for me to believe??

I'm with a few other atheists and refer to Greta Christina's blog.  God would have to speak in all the languages that cover the Earth in a clear message is understood everywhere.  Even in Antarctica where the science lab is.

All the stuff in the New Testament written decades after Jesus died  and then copied hundreds of times with added passages by non professional  scribes doesn't cut it.

The so called miracles of Jesus curing leprosy sounds like a silly parlor game.  If he supposedly is a powerful God why not cure everyone with leprosy.  Why let someone go through a painful death just so you could raise them from the dead.   

There is no evidence of Moses wondering the desert with 600,000 able bodied men.  And this doesn't count the women and children.  It would be one thing if archeologists didn't know where to look but the Bible lays it out.  There have been nomadic encampments found from hundreds of years earlier but nothing pointing to Moses.  Zip.  Nada.  Zilch.

It's all silly stuff and I don't believe one word of it. 

Tap
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Samothec on May 12, 2013, 02:42:37 AM
Who is coolest?  Han Solo or Zaphod Beeblebrox?
Zaphod is coolest, hands down (all three) - he's a really hoopy frood.
Han is cool but scruffy.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Nam on May 12, 2013, 03:57:06 AM
Han's not scruffy he's a nerf-herder.

-Nam
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Graybeard on May 12, 2013, 04:44:34 AM
I agree that I cannot and do not know the specifics, but I disagree that the NT is vague or ambiguous in teaching that Christ will return as king and that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess it.


For example, take the line about jesus H having a sword coming out of his mouth.  […]Is it a real sword or is it "spiritual"? 

Sure. Do you read it, though, and think to yourself that Jesus will creep back into the world via a manger in Israel, or similar?

I strill don’t know if the sword is real or spiritual… but then I don’t know what anyone means by “spiritual”; it usually means, “A figment of my imagination.”

Quote
For the record, I'm guessing [you are sitting in a] high backed leather swivel chair.

This is quite telling. You could have said, “A throne of skulls encrusted with jewels.” But you keep your imagination to the real world and this makes it perceptive and insightful. Whereas, deities on white horses (why not a Hummer?) with a real sword in his mouth are straight out of a bad fantasy novel… yet you accept this equally happily.

     I have described my experience with Christ as providing me with evidence that is 'non-communicable'.

How does this differ from my saying that "Bill O’Reilly is talking to me in my head and telling me to drown kittens and that I know this is true but I can’t explain to you why I think it is true - but it just is."?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 09:03:52 PM
It's Saturday night and I'm onto my 4th beer. Don't ask me any serious questions till Monday.


Galatians 5:21 - Drunkenness ... and such like ... they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Pfft. 4 Beers?

I'm no 2 pot screamer.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 09:05:06 PM
If she's so careless that she allows that to happen he's dodged a bullet.
Be that as it may, the obvious point stands: People can experience real feelings as a result of something that is unreal, untrue, and/or completely imaginary. A genuine emotional response in no way validates its source as genuine.

Of course that's true. Speaking personally, emotional response encompasses about 1% of my faith in God.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 09:06:00 PM
It's Saturday night and I'm onto my 4th beer. Don't ask me any serious questions till Monday.

Fair 'nuff.

Who is coolest?  Han Solo or Zaphod Beeblebrox?

I don't know what/who the second one is sorry. (that probably makes me 'uncool')
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 09:08:55 PM
^^ Funny you should say that.  If a god is so careless that it allows its message to suffer a similar fate, or worse, then do those who fail to receive it also "dodge a bullet"?

Well, you already know my position on whether God is to blame for His message not being accepted by all.

A dodged bullet? i certainly don't think so.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 09:15:01 PM
I agree that I cannot and do not know the specifics, but I disagree that the NT is vague or ambiguous in teaching that Christ will return as king and that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess it.

Can you tell me what the jewish messianic prophesies are?

All of them? Only by linking to a list, and really what's the point? I know Jesus apparently did not fulfill them all. Time of peace, re-build temple etc etc.

Do you read it, though, and think to yourself that Jesus will creep back into the world via a manger in Israel, or similar?

Who the hell knows?  Revelation reads like a bad acid trip.  So much of it is allegory and metaphor I think it is impossible to say what is supposed to be literal and what is not.

Yes, yes, yes, acid trip, metaphor and ambiguity. Right.

You're clever enough to read it and understand that, however the exact circumstances play out, Revelation foretells an impossible to miss return of Jesus.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 12, 2013, 09:15:15 PM
A double standard, then.  The flawed human is to blame when her message fails to reach its target, but the perfect god is blameless when its message fails to reach its target.  And keep in mind, I'm not really talking about people like me.  I'm talking about people like the aboriginals of your home nation, or mine, before Europeans invaded.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 09:24:27 PM
And keep in mind, I'm not really talking about people like me.  I'm talking about people like the aboriginals of your home nation, or mine, before Europeans invaded.

What are you wanting here...for me to bring up the verse in Romans again? Piss everybody off again? You know where I stand on this.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 12, 2013, 10:09:42 PM
They are without excuse, yeah.  You believe that everyone who lived here pre-Europeans was, and is, morally deserving of being tortured in the worst way for all of eternity.

I find that level of hatred for people you don't know to be hard to fathom.  How do you manage it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 10:56:51 PM
It has nothing to do with any hatred I feel to any person.

Watch this, if you want, as it attempts to answer the question of how a God of love could condemn anyone to hell. It was a sermon at our church recently.

http://vimeo.com/60046173
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 12, 2013, 11:17:22 PM
I am not talking about a god's feelings, magicmiles.  I am talking about yours, and yours alone.

Do you, or do you not, believe that those people - supposedly in hell - morally deserve their eternal torture?

If you think it's right, then you must either hate them, or not have thought about it yet.

If you don't think it's right, then you disagree with your own god's justice.

Take your pick.  It's all about the personal responsibility, and owning up to your own proclaimed hatred for these people (rather than, in the same breath, denying it).  You can only feel that someone deserves eternal torture if you also hate them.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 12, 2013, 11:59:07 PM

If you think it's right, then you must either hate them, or not have thought about it yet.


It's hard to have a conversation about this if you insist on telling me what my options are. That's why I think it would be helpful if you watched the video, as my pastor does a much better job than I ever could of explaining why the options you provide aren't the only ones.

But, if you really don't want to, let me know and I'll give it my best shot.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 13, 2013, 12:56:47 AM

If you think it's right, then you must either hate them, or not have thought about it yet.


It's hard to have a conversation about this if you insist on telling me what my options are.

That's true enough.  You may well have other reasons than the two Azd proposes.  But still, there ARE only two answers to the actual question - which you didn't seem to answer? It DOES seem to be a question that believers never seem to want to answer straight out clearly first time round, for some reason.

Do you, or do you not, believe that those people - supposedly in hell - morally deserve their eternal torture?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 13, 2013, 01:06:56 AM
As Anfauglir says, first things first.  I am not interested in your pastor's opinions, but in yours.  I have had no dealings with your pastor.  If your answer is the same as his, then by all means give it.  I tend not to watch videos.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 13, 2013, 01:12:19 AM
@ Anfauglir - When Azdgari asked the question of me the hatred was assumed. The actual question, originally, was how do I manage that sort of hatred. That's such a loaded question anyone with half a brain would try to unload it a little first. (and I think i have at least half a brain).

I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes. I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. I believe I will fully understand it one day. In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem.

PS, did you watch the FA final? I tipped the upset. Genius ;D
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 13, 2013, 01:39:40 AM
@ Anfauglir - When Azdgari asked the question of me the hatred was assumed. The actual question, originally, was how do I manage that sort of hatred. That's such a loaded question anyone with half a brain would try to unload it a little first. (and I think i have at least half a brain).

I did offer an alternative - that you simply hadn't thought about it enough.  If you have a third option, let me hear it.  I've offered the only ones I know about.  I'm not trying to trap you into one or the other - I genuinely can't see a third option.

I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes.

Then that is your judgment.  It's your god's as well, of course, but it is your judgment that your god's judgment is correct.  You've taken it upon yourself to agree that those people deserve to be tortured.  What feelings led you to judge them in that way, such that your judgments align with your god's?  Or, what reasoning process did you apply to your god's judgment of torture in order to wholeheartedly agree with it?

Put this in real-life terms for a second.  You see a little girl being beaten and raped.  You recall that she has denied the Holy Spirit - an unforgivable offence.  She deserves eternal torture, according to your god.  Do you feel, as your god does, that she deserves torture?  If so, then there's little reason to step in or call the cops - at least, not to arrive until after the men are done.  Or, do you disagree with your god, and feel that her torture is unjust?  Then you might try to help her.

The first of those two reactions is one of hatred toward the person.  It is also the one that aligns with the morality you claim to espouse.  I for one do not believe that you truly hold to it.

I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. I believe I will fully understand it one day.

So, you agree with your god's judgments but don't understand them?  That's not very responsible.  If you don't understand a judgment, then it would be responsible to withhold judgment of your own rather than agreeing.

In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem.

What do you mean by "set the level of justice"?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 13, 2013, 02:53:45 AM
I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes.

Thank you.  Now I need to understand why you believe that.

I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. .....In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem

I'm concerned here, because what you seem to be saying is that - in the absence of god - you would NOT have judged those people worthy of hell (or at least not all of them).  You admit that your standard, and your god's standard, are two different things:
"God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own"
"It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem"

So would it be correct then to say that you do not feel that they should (all) be in hell (based on your own morality and sense of justice), but that you nevertheless defer to your god's judgement - even though you do not understand it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 13, 2013, 10:15:34 AM
I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes. I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. I believe I will fully understand it one day.

How is this any different from being gullible?

It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem.

That's your claim: that's it a "problem". But you haven't shown that it's a problem. The only "level of justice setters" that have been demonstrated, anywhere, are humans! So, to say this is a problem is merely to ASSUME your interpretation of your bible in advance. But that is backwards. You can't assume your position. You need to demonstrate your position as being the correct one (while avoiding confirmation bias - which it seems Christians clearly cannot do). Otherwise, there is good reason for thinking that all you have in credulity.

This is one of the reasons I started this OP - to demonstrate that Christians are closed-minded and unwilling to truly consider the possibility that they are mistaken (i.e. - practicing confirmation bias is a regularity).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:19:35 AM
...many of us here (myself included) used to say the exact same thing you are claiming. "Oh I had an experience with Christ and I could never deny it."
p.s. - Remember, I used to think I had a "personal relationship" with Jesus too (and sounded very similar to you for nearly 20 years)

     It seems to me that if you are sincere in what you say here, your claim that I hold an unfalsifiable view about my experience with Christ would have been demonstrated to be false in your own experience. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:25:50 AM
Have you even thought to critically examine these alleged experiences?

          Yes, I have, and that is why I think that it is a misplaced criticism to characterize my faith experience as nothing more than the ‘dubious’ decision of a five year old.  I am certainly not afraid to debate the validity of the truth claims of Christianity (when we are done this discussion perhaps), but until then I think that my willingness to subject my interpretation of my experience with Christ to forum criticism qualifies as an attempt to examine my ‘alleged experiences’. 
     Despite the fact that I cannot communicate the evidential merit of my experience to you, I have made an effort to respond to the external criticisms mounted against my interpretation of my experience.  If you look back in previous posts you will see that I have given reasons why I don’t think my experience can be seen as being explained by an appeal to imagination (#67), cultural expectation, an epiphany (#112), delirious excitement (#113), or mental illness/drugs.  I think my responses to these constitute inductive evidence (e.g. a process of elimination) that my experience is genuine and connected to the person of Christ. 
     If you have watched the movie Zero Dark Thirty you will know that this is the exact kind of reasoning that the CIA used in their decision to launch a special ops mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.  They found a well guarded compound in Pakistan and over a period of several months used a process of elimination to reach a rationally justified conclusion that the main occupant was their sought after quarry.  The president asked them, “bring forth a picture of Osama Bin Laden”; but they could not – it was not that they were afraid of having their views falsified or that they felt themselves to be immune from good evidence, but because they were confident in the less than 100% certain conclusions that they held. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 13, 2013, 11:27:41 AM
Miles' statement that anybody whom God sends to hell deserves to be there is circular, since we cannot know who God will send to hell, or what hell actually is. Anyone whom God sends to Belgium may deserve to be there, too.

Christians have not established what makes a person go to hell. They are torn between a browny points and saviour system, but don't know how much Jesus will forgive, or how to verify that they are saved. There is also no sense of how long hell will last, given that it actually says "Aeonian", and one verse says that hell consumes the body and soul. Revelation then says something different, anyway: that you get consumed in the lake of fire, and have a second death. Most Christians seem to believe in Revelation, even though it is clearly a bit of crap.

JWs and Adventists don't believe in hell. I dunno how they can contort that far, given that they believe in Genesis. I think they take Revelation seriously. Revelation trumps the miscellaneous and confusing statements about hell and sheol.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:30:47 AM
     You're willing to believe that your alleged religious experience is "Jesus", in the face of the fact that you have been both raised in a Judeo Christian culture and were likely prepared to accept it's assumptions (and emotional motivations), and quite uncritically.

     Saying that I accepted my parent’s beliefs because of a desire to please them or because of a desire to avoid negative social consequences doesn’t explain why I am still a Christian.  If my conversion was just the convenient thing to do at the time I could have easily reversed my decision when I went away to university.  In addition, as an adult I am usually not inclined to agree with people just to avoid negative consequences (e.g. why would I be on this forum promoting a view that the vast majority will disagree with); I hold views that are not socially popular at our church (e.g. on evolution and the rapture); and I have a network of friends who would not care if I converted to atheism. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 13, 2013, 11:31:24 AM
     If you have watched the movie Zero Dark Thirty you will know that this is the exact kind of reasoning that the CIA used in their decision to launch a special ops mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.  They found a well guarded compound in Pakistan and over a period of several months used a process of elimination to reach a rationally justified conclusion that the main occupant was their sought after quarry.  The president asked them, “bring forth a picture of Osama Bin Laden”; but they could not – it was not that they were afraid of having their views falsified or that they felt themselves to be immune from good evidence, but because they were confident in the less than 100% certain conclusions that they held.

Selection bias. How many times did they get it wrong, and not mention it to the public?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:32:38 AM
     In a different light, how is your claim different in truth value than those at the mental hospital who make similar claims?

     Easy, I’m not residing in a mental hospital nor am I on any mind altering drugs.  If you think that all the things that I have written so far on this forum are qualitatively no different from what you would expect someone in a mental hospital to write, then I don’t know if that judgement reflects worse on you or on me. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:37:55 AM
     That is to be expected, if they have no relationship with Christ, and are doing what Christians just about always do: argue from doctrine and personal preference.
     
     What I'm saying, is that Christian interpretation of information from Jesus, is about as reliable as the Canadiens who think the goal shouldn't have been allowed. (Here, I make the grand assumption that there is any information from Jesus, at all. If there were none, it would explain the complete disarray on doctrinal issues.)

     You can't ask Jesus for a relationship, if you don't know his name. Personally, I think his name is FROG. Do you have any objection with that? Every night, I pray to FROG, and ask him to make me successful in battle, and for penis extension. FROG has two parents, named the WHOLY FROG, and FRILLY FROG SPIRIT.

     You wrote in your post that you make the ‘grand assumption that there is any information [to be had] from Jesus at all’.  As I said in my last post to you, I agree that this is a ‘grand assumption’ and a vacuous one at that.  If you read Rev3:20 it says “if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I [Jesus] will come in and eat with him, and he with me”; it does not say “I [Jesus] will come in and impart great doctrinal truths to you so that you may go out and write a theology textbook”. Christians claim a personal relationship with Christ, but when there is a doctrinal dispute they don’t appeal to their relationship with Christ, they appeal to the Scriptures.  Incidentally, you stated categorically that Christians do not have a relationship with Christ, so I was wondering what you attribute their doctrinal differences to – is it to possible ambiguity in Scripture; is it explained by what I said, ‘divergence of opinion indicates multiple receivers’; or is it a combination of both?
     You said that “you can’t ask Jesus for a relationship if you don’t know his name”.  There is a difference between knowing the correct spelling of a person’s name and knowing the identity of the person to whom you are referring.  At any rate, if you think that the spelling of Jesus’ name is such a big deal then you just answered the central question that this forum asks – WWGHA.  The answer: it’s not that God doesn’t exist; Christians just don’t know how to spell his name. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:40:06 AM
     You say you would have to weigh the evidence against your god and compare it to the "evidence" of your personal experience. I would like to do so as well, so if you can present us with that evidence I will also go about weighing against the fact that everything Ive read in the bible seems to be false. Everything.

     That sounds ok to me.  Perhaps at some point we can debate some of the specific truth claims of Christianity (e.g. God exists, Christ rose from the dead, etc…). 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:41:57 AM
     Please define this relationship.  You see, when I hear the word "relationship", certain things come to mind.  None of those things involve an invisible, intangible, non-present being.  When I have asked this of xians in the past, none of what they describe matches any description of the word "relationship" or they have to resort to metaphors and defining word in brand new ways to shoehorn it in.  So please pardon me if I am skeptical.  Your clarification will be useful.

     I am not totally sure what you are getting at here…if you just want a definition relevant to the discussion at hand it would be: “an ongoing interaction between two personal beings”.  If you want a description of this interaction in terms of emotions I would just list things like emotional fulfillment, a sense of commitment, a sense of appreciation for what the other person has done, etc…  If you are looking to entice me into a discussion of the merits of various views like physicalism, non-reductive physicalism, and dualism then I would question if we aren’t getting a bit off topic (that is, if we are looking at my argument in isolation before admitting it or barring it from a general body of evidence).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:44:53 AM
Can you not see this vicious circularity?

     If my argument is: (1) I have a relational experience with Christ; (2) I have good reasons to believe that it is based in reality; therefore, (3) my relational experience with Christ constitutes evidence for the Christian God – then I do not believe that it is circular.  If my argument is circular then I would just give you premise (1) and stop; however, premise (1) is conditional and depends on introspective analysis in premise (2) in order to arrive at the conclusion.  I could just eliminate the phrase ‘with Christ’ from premise (1) however I thought it was important since it was Christ whom I called on.  At any rate, any argument formulated in a deductive manner necessarily contains the conclusion in one of its premises, so if I am guilty of circularity, then all deductive arguments are circular. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:47:35 AM
     A fast talking salesman comes to your door, making claims about a magic solution which he says will cure all illness and decease on contact.

     As I see it, my argument consists of two premises and a conclusion: (1) I have a relational experience that began when I called on Christ’s name; (2) I have reason to believe that the experience is not self-produced; therefore (3) my experience acts as personal affirmative evidence for God’s existence.  If the argument is valid, then I am rational to continue believing in God in the absence of de facto objections to my faith.  There is a difference between knowing that one’s faith is true and showing others that it is true – hence the non-communicability aspect.  Your reference to some kind of a swift talking door to door salesman is completely irrelevant because I am not trying to ‘sell’ you anything.  The question that you asked in your OP was, “what would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God?” It was not “what do you think it would take for you to convince an atheist to believe in Jesus and/or God”.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:49:45 AM
     "Oh, these are very personal experiences of others. They are 'non-communicable' in the other religions too. So, I really don't need to give web addresses. My other religious friends, from other faiths, know their experiences are the true ones too."

     We already knew that fundamentalist Christianity claims exclusivity (as does Islam, Mormonism, and countless other religions of the past). Again, it's of no consequence.

     First of all, median, I am going to drop my request for you to list religions that claim the same kind of experience as Christians as it seems immaterial to my case.  As you correctly point out, uniqueness does not confer validity; I think I misunderstood your question in post #55 which was, ‘how do you know that your experience was with Christ?’ I thought that you were assuming for the sake of argument that my experience was real but were questioning my attribution of the origin of my experience – sorry. 
     I am also wondering if, when you accuse me of hypocrisy, you were claiming that I am not granting other religions the same quarter that I demand for myself.  I did not intend to say that since my experience is somehow unique to all other religions it is therefore objectively more veridical; I think that the experiences of other religions would be non-communicable as well.  As an example, you keep bringing up the Mormons; I have debated with the Mormons on several occasions and never once have I attempted to convince them that their experience is not valid evidence for their beliefs (as you are trying to do to me right now).  I always try to criticize the specific claims of the Moron faith in the hopes that if these can be shown to be untrue the negative evidence will outweigh their confidence in their experience.
     I think that if your objective is to convince me to become an atheist then you would have to criticize the specific truth claims of Christianity (e.g. the resurrection of Jesus) in the hopes that you could outweigh, though not necessarily destroy, the evidential merit of my experience with Christ.  What I am trying to argue right now is that I am rationally justified in ascribing evidential merit to my experience with Christ. 
     I guess if I could grant you one more concession it would be that the evidential merit is only mostly non-communicable.  Here is an illustration to describe what I mean by non-communicable evidence.  I am hitchhiking to Saskatoon and am picked up by a stranger who begins asking me questions.  Before long he finds out that I claim to be married, but he wants proof.  He asks: do I have a wedding ring (I forgot it when I left home), do I have a marriage certificate (I don’t normally carry it with me), do I have any pictures of me and my wife (I lost my wallet).  He then states: you have not given me any evidence that you are married therefore I do not believe you.  He would be justified in his conclusion; however he would not be justified to demand that I stop believing that I am married because I have non-communicable evidence in the form of experiences with my wife that are stored in my memory.  I suppose that in some ways the evidential value of my marriage is communicable (e.g. if I could show him my wedding ring or a picture) but for the most part I just cannot communicate to him the evidence that I fall back on to maintain my belief. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:51:12 AM
     I don't know if such a machine even exists, but if it were possible to demonstrate to you the increase in endorphins your brain receives whenever you think about how much Jesus loves you, would you consider that evidence enough?

          The observation that endorphin levels would increase if I were to meditate on how much Jesus loves me does not constitute falsifying evidence for the experience because that increase in endorphins takes place in the context of normal physiological processes in the brain.  A mind altering drug, in contrast, alters the normal physiological processes of the brain and therefore would cast doubt on my perception of my experiences.  As an example, let’s say I am called to testify in court but upon arriving the judge finds out that I have just ingested 1,000mg of paroxetine.  I think under that circumstance the judge would be justified in refusing to hear my testimony as it might not be accurate given the enormous levels of serotonin that would be present in my brain.  If I had not taken any paroxetine before my arrival, the judge would not be justified in refusing my testimony simply because she observes that fluctuations in serotonin levels would likely occur if I were under the stress of cross examination.  Those fluctuations would be part of normal brain processes while the huge spike in levels in response to the drug would not be normal. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 13, 2013, 11:52:32 AM
     In another thread, I used the example of a schoolboy receiving a note saying "I love you and want to be your girlfriend" from a beautiful classmate on whom he has an enormous crush. His passionate emotional response would certainly be a wonderful sense of euphoria which would be very real to him, so long as he remains unaware that the note (and the girl's affection) was intended for the boy seated at the desk behind him.  I would never dispute that the emotions you experience as a result of your beliefs are certainly real. I'm simply saying that one's emotions can be easily manipulated by something one really wants to be true, even when that thing is anything but.

     One important thing to note about your illustration is that it is the note the boy received and not the boy’s subsequent emotional state that is analogous to my relational experience with Christ.  In my argument I have said that I have a relational experience and I interpret this experience as providing me with evidence that the Christian God exists – in the illustration, the boy received a note and interpreted the note to mean that the girl was in love with him (it was his interpretation that then resulted in his emotional state).  In my case, my emotional state already exists and based on my judgement of its reality I interpret it as providing me with evidence that the Christian God exists. 
     I would like to offer you a second illustration: keep everything in the original illustration the same (the note, the beautiful girl, the boy’s crush, and the peripheral circumstances), but this time assume that the note is actually meant for the boy.  The question I have for you would be: in the second illustration does the boy have any more justification for concluding that the girl is in love with him? I would say no.  The note has the exact same evidential value in the first illustration as it does in the second; whether his conclusion about the girl’s love for him is true or not is irrelevant to the determination of the evidential value of the note.  This is what I am trying to say about my relational experience – whether or not it is based on a real Christian God is irrelevant to the determination of its evidential value. 
     If my judgement is incorrect then in my opinion I am in possession of a legitimate piece of evidence that supports a false conclusion.  There is nothing contradictory about having legitimate evidence for a false conclusion – its happens all the time in court.  I’m sure all of us can think of court cases (e.g. Dustin Paxton, O.J. Simpson, Oscar Pistorius) where it seems pretty certain even with superficial knowledge of the case that the person is guilty, but that doesn’t mean that the court cannot admit evidence that can support the person’s innocence.  It just means that at the end of the day the evidence supporting the accused guilt will likely outweigh the evidence for his innocence. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 13, 2013, 12:03:40 PM
then you just answered the central question that this forum asks – WWGHA.  The answer: it’s not that God doesn’t exist; Christians just don’t know how to spell his name.

Could be, but the style of atheism in here, is largely denying that any particular religious adherent has got any facts right, since their personal experience of their deity seems not to impart any facts/information. Some seem convinced that if they pray, someone gets better, but the WWGHA question asks why gods can't heal certain things, rather than deal with whether god healed lesser things, since this is too hard to analyze - being in the realm of the anecdotal, which is where you are determined to lurk. Larger studies (than anecdotal) have found questionable effects.

Quote
     You wrote in your post that you make the ‘grand assumption that there is any information [to be had] from Jesus at all’.  As I said in my last post to you, I agree that this is a ‘grand assumption’ and a vacuous one at that.  If you read Rev3:20 it says “if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I [Jesus] will come in and eat with him, and he with me”; it does not say “I [Jesus] will come in and impart great doctrinal truths

I never said "great" information needed to be transmitted. Simple facts, involving the correct spelling of his name; whether hell exists, and all sorts of trivia of doctrine could be resolved, if only the personal relationship with gods transmitted any information besides a general feel-good situation.

In any case, you assume that the writer of Revelation was not a fraud. The end of Mark says that Christians should be able to heal, hold serpents and drink strong poison. Sounds reasonable to me, given the way the disciples behaved.

Quote
Incidentally, you stated categorically that Christians do not have a relationship with Christ, so I was wondering what you attribute their doctrinal differences to – is it to possible ambiguity in Scripture; is it explained by what I said, ‘divergence of opinion indicates multiple receivers’; or is it a combination of both?

Well, there was this guy called Joseph Smith, who lied about some metal plates in a hat. Now a million people believe that their personal relationship with Christ will enable them to rule a planet after they die.

There are a few categories of "receiver" : (1) liars and manipulators (2) genuine souls, who invent God in their image (3) people who hear nothing, and interpret scripture the way they want to (4) people who interpret scripture the way they feel they have to, given their study of fraudulent books (5)... blah

There may be someone who actually gets a direct transmission from God, but we can have no idea who that is.

Quote
     You said that “you can’t ask Jesus for a relationship if you don’t know his name”.  There is a difference between knowing the correct spelling of a person’s name and knowing the identity of the person to whom you are referring.

I really don't know the identity of Jesus. Paul paints a different picture to Matthew. Paul strikes me as an attention seeker, who made stuff up. This is reflected by Matt 5:19, that says Paul is going to hell.

Jesus may have been just a man who tried to make people follow "Love thy neighbour" as the most important rule, to help evolve a new religion, as per gospel of Thomas.

Maybe the Gnostics had it right, and Yahweh is a demiurge. How can you have a relationship with that? The Gnostic idea makes more sense than most religions.

How am I supposed to have a personal relationship with a dead man? I don't really know anything about Jesus' identity, unless I accept the particular books that the Catholic church cobbled together around 200AD. They could be as reliable as Joseph Smith.

Will Jesus tell you if he is a gnostic Jesus, or a trinity Jesus? Will he tell you if he is really dead?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 13, 2013, 01:02:18 PM
     In a different light, how is your claim different in truth value than those at the mental hospital who make similar claims?

     Easy, I’m not residing in a mental hospital nor am I on any mind altering drugs. 

I think you have misunderstood his question.  You have made a claim. The truth value of that claim as we understand it is not something that can be determined by us.  Similarly, mentally ill people also make claims, the truth of which cannot be determined by us, but are also equally far fetched as your claims.  The question is not "are you on drugs or a mental patient?"  The question is why should we believe you when we dismiss the mentally ill out of hand?  While you are not currently in a mental hospital, that does not mean you do not belong in one.




I am not totally sure what you are getting at here…if you just want a definition relevant to the discussion at hand it would be: “an ongoing interaction between two personal beings”.

That's a start.  I'd like to know about some specifics of these interactions.  You see, in the relationship I have with Mrs Screwtape, for example, we buy groceries together, cook and eat meals together, discuss our opinions of the wine of the evening, we watch movies and talk about them.  Those are some of our interactions.  What make up your interactions with jesus H?

If you want a description of this interaction in terms of emotions

No.  Emotions are unreliable. It is possible for people to feel things strongly based on their own imaginations.  People who get all worked up over, say, Lord Krishna, would be such an example.  Kids whipping themselves into a frenzy for Santa would be another example.  I am looking for something concrete.  Actual interaction.

Do you and jesus have picnics together?  Does he bring potato salad?  Do you throw the frisbee around?  Do you two go to ballroom dancing classes together?  Did he help you move into your current apartment?  Do you share a mutual appreciation for vintage pinball machines?  That sort of thing. 

I would just list things like emotional fulfillment, a sense of commitment, a sense of appreciation for what the other person has done, etc…

I would not count that as actual evidence of anything other than your own feelings.  You can honestly feel those things but be mistaken about the source.   

If you are looking to entice me into a discussion...

I'm just following up on this alleged relationship you claim to have.  I suspect there is no relationship, just like with every other xian who has wandered through here claiming a relationship where none exists.  I suspect it is just you attributing self-generated feelings and thoughts to an external source. 

But I wanted to hear what you had to say before jumping to that conclusion.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: JeffPT on May 13, 2013, 01:24:28 PM
     I guess if I could grant you one more concession it would be that the evidential merit is only mostly non-communicable.  Here is an illustration to describe what I mean by non-communicable evidence.  I am hitchhiking to Saskatoon and am picked up by a stranger who begins asking me questions.  Before long he finds out that I claim to be married, but he wants proof.  He asks: do I have a wedding ring (I forgot it when I left home), do I have a marriage certificate (I don’t normally carry it with me), do I have any pictures of me and my wife (I lost my wallet).  He then states: you have not given me any evidence that you are married therefore I do not believe you.  He would be justified in his conclusion; however he would not be justified to demand that I stop believing that I am married because I have non-communicable evidence in the form of experiences with my wife that are stored in my memory.  I suppose that in some ways the evidential value of my marriage is communicable (e.g. if I could show him my wedding ring or a picture) but for the most part I just cannot communicate to him the evidence that I fall back on to maintain my belief.

It would be a better illustration if you were trying to communicate with him that you have a personal relationship with Elvis Presley. 

Proving that you are married is easy.  In that car ride it might be difficult, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't require a huge amount of evidence because it's not an extraordinary claim.  I mean, lots of people are married.  The man in the car knows what being married is and he understands what the difference is between being married and not being married.  A wedding ring, a picture, a meeting with your wife, etc would be enough evidence for just about anyone, don't you think?  If push came to shove, however, and he really, REALLY wanted to know whether or not you were married, you could provide him with that necessary (communicable) evidence. 

But what if push did come to shove and you weren't married but you really believed you were, and for some reason the man kept looking very seriously over the span of many years for evidence that you were married and found literally nothing to make him think that you were?  No wife at your house, no wedding ring, no marriage certificate, no kids, no joint tax forms, no pictures of a woman in your house... nothing.  Would he be justified in his conclusion that you weren't, even though you thought you were?  If you told him that you had non-communicable evidence that you were married, would he be justified in thinking you're simply wrong about it?  This is where we are.  Really, that's where we are in terms of all religious positions, not just Christians. 

If someone said to you that they had a relationship with Elvis Presley, what would you think of them?  Why do you think you saying 'I have a relationship with Jesus' is somehow different?  Because it's more socially acceptable?  Do you have more evidence that you have a personal relationship with Jesus than someone who says they have a relationship with Elvis Presley?  What would you say if they told you they have non-communicable evidence of their relationship with Elvis? 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 13, 2013, 02:30:08 PM
Before long he finds out that I claim to be married, but he wants proof.

The fundamental question is, are you actually married to an actual person in this example?  Being married and having a relationship leaves evidence.  If you were married, there would be actual evidence somewhere, whether it is readily accessible or not.  You are not talking about being married to a spirit wife, who does not exist in the "material realm".  You are talking about being married to an actual flesh and blood person.  Your claims about a relationship with jesus are not the same. 

He asks: do I have a wedding ring (I forgot it when I left home)

But you do actually have a ring, somewhere?  Not a metaphorical ring, not a spiritual ring, an actual ring, made of a metal? 

do I have a marriage certificate (I don’t normally carry it with me)

But there is a certificate at your home, and records elsewhere?   
 
do I have any pictures of me and my wife (I lost my wallet).

But photos and witnesses do exist somewhere? 

All these amount to objective evidence.  You being married is not rooted in purely personal experiences.  Similarly, other relationships are not rooted in purely personal expriences either.  You've not answered me about you relationship with jesus yet.  But I'd bet you do not have photos of you and the J-man together, nor his signature in your year book. 
 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 13, 2013, 05:21:45 PM

Then that is your judgment.  It's your god's as well, of course, but it is your judgment that your god's judgment is correct. 

To call it my judgement gives a wrong impression. It is God's judgement. And I believe that God has the authority to make that judgement.


You've taken it upon yourself to agree that those people deserve to be tortured.

The only reason anyone will be tortured is because they are removed from the presence of God. Goodness and love come only from God. We weren't created to live apart from God. The suffering we have in the world right now is because we tried to live apart from God from the first, and continue to do so. The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world.  When God does do that, and He will, he will bring those of us who have accepted His gift of reconciliation back to live with Him and those who have rejected that gift will be kept apart from God. So in that sense, yes I agree that is fair. God will be honouring the wish of all those who knew God but decided to live without Him.

What feelings led you to judge them in that way

I don't judge. I warn.


Put this in real-life terms for a second.  You see a little girl being beaten and raped.  You recall that she has denied the Holy Spirit - an unforgivable offence.
She deserves eternal torture, according to your god.  Do you feel, as your god does, that she deserves torture?  If so, then there's little reason to step in or call the cops - at least, not to arrive until after the men are done.  Or, do you disagree with your god, and feel that her torture is unjust?  Then you might try to help her.

The first of those two reactions is one of hatred toward the person.  It is also the one that aligns with the morality you claim to espouse.  I for one do not believe that you truly hold to it.

Yes, ignoring her certainly would be an act of hatred. And you are looking at the idea of 'torture' and 'hell' wrongly.

Clearly, you can't reconcile the idea of a loving God and the suffering that will result in rejecting Him. Maybe you think the punishment doesn't fit the crime. Maybe you see no crime. If so, its because you've been fooled into believing that we are the ones who get to set the standard of right and wrong, of what is and isn't acceptable.

From the video: Hypothetically, who should God allow to live with Him? Should He allow everybody to escape this world unpunished? Maybe He should only punish the truly wicked? Who are they?


So, you agree with your god's judgments but don't understand them?  That's not very responsible.  If you don't understand a judgment, then it would be responsible to withhold judgment of your own rather than agreeing.

I am convinced God exists and has every right to judge His creation. I'm as sinful as anyone else, and so yes I wonder why God can't ease up, I want Him to do what i think would be best in the world. But I recognise I'm a fool, and my thinking is flawed. I'm willing to have faith that the things which seem strange to me now will one day be made clear.



What do you mean by "set the level of justice"?

I mean that as humans we like to be the ones to decide what is right and wrong, we like to point the finger at others.

In the video, my pastor makes the very interesting observation that in prison, if you ask a muderer what it's like, the response can be something like "it's awful. There are terrible people in here. There are pedophiles in here."
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 13, 2013, 05:23:05 PM
I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes.

Thank you.  Now I need to understand why you believe that.

I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. .....In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem

I'm concerned here, because what you seem to be saying is that - in the absence of god - you would NOT have judged those people worthy of hell (or at least not all of them).  You admit that your standard, and your god's standard, are two different things:
"God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own"
"It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem"

So would it be correct then to say that you do not feel that they should (all) be in hell (based on your own morality and sense of justice), but that you nevertheless defer to your god's judgement - even though you do not understand it?

I think I've covered your questions in my post to Azdgari above.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 13, 2013, 05:32:29 PM
I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes. I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. I believe I will fully understand it one day.

How is this any different from being gullible?

For $1000.00, I promise to tell you.

A gullible perosn's gullibility is eventually laid bare for all to see, often even the gullibled.[1]. Nothing I experience tells me I am wrong. I often am wrong, and recognise it. You may well consider me gullible, but of course I consider you equally gullible, and in fact totally deceived.
 1. if Parking Places is allowed to invent words, so am I
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 13, 2013, 06:23:28 PM
To call it my judgement gives a wrong impression. It is God's judgement. And I believe that God has the authority to make that judgement.

That's just another way of saying that you judge all of God's judgments to be correct.  You judge him to have the authority to make those judgments.  That is your own decision, your own proclamation.  All I am asking you to do is to own it.

If your god judging a child, who never heard of Jesus in life. to deserve a worse form of eternal torture than we could ever imagine, does not make you reconsider the position that "God's moral judgments are always correct" then what you've done, right then and there, is to judge the torture to be morally right.  You could either judge it to be wrong (and in the process judge your god to be wrong).  Or you could judge that it's not so wrong for it to negate your belief about your god's moral authority.  Given what that moral authority says, option #2 means you judge it to be morally right.  It's still your call.  Why all the hoops to avoid responsibility for your own morality?

You've taken it upon yourself to agree that those people deserve to be tortured.

The only reason anyone will be tortured is because they are removed from the presence of God. Goodness and love come only from God. We weren't created to live apart from God. The suffering we have in the world right now is because we tried to live apart from God from the first, and continue to do so. The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world.  When God does do that, and He will, he will bring those of us who have accepted His gift of reconciliation back to live with Him and those who have rejected that gift will be kept apart from God. So in that sense, yes I agree that is fair. God will be honouring the wish of all those who knew God but decided to live without Him.

So you believe that the 4-year-old aboriginal girl who lived in what we now call Australia in 400 AD has deliberately chosen what she knows is an eternity of torture.  What a fool.  No wonder she deserves your hatred.  &)[1]

I don't judge. I warn.
You do both, as you just stated above.  It's the part I bolded.

Yes, ignoring her certainly would be an act of hatred. And you are looking at the idea of 'torture' and 'hell' wrongly.


I was only demonstrating that genuinely feeling that someone deserves torture, especially eternal torture, requires that you hate them.  The two are practically synonyms.

Clearly, you can't reconcile the idea of a loving God and the suffering that will result in rejecting Him. Maybe you think the punishment doesn't fit the crime. Maybe you see no crime. If so, its because you've been fooled into believing that we are the ones who get to set the standard of right and wrong, of what is and isn't acceptable.

This has nothing to do with belief in a loving god.  I've at no point brought up problem-of-evil issues.  I've been focusing on your own hateful morality, and your refusal to take responsibility for it.

A god can certainly hate people.  That's its right.  It's your right, too.  Agreeing with your god's hatred of people is your own prerogative.  I'm only asking that you be honest about that hatred.

From the video: Hypothetically, who should God allow to live with Him? Should He allow everybody to escape this world unpunished? Maybe He should only punish the truly wicked? Who are they?

If you're judging ignorant children to deserve eternal torture from the outset, then there aren't many ways to answer those questions, are there?  That Romans verse, which you've also taken it upon yourself to agree with (how'd you decide whether it was right or wrong, btw?) doesn't leave you any wiggle room.  All of humanity who doesn't repent, deserves your hatred.  Or rather, deserves your god's hatred, with which you've agreed and thus have adopted.

I am convinced God exists and has every right to judge His creation. I'm as sinful as anyone else, and so yes I wonder why God can't ease up, I want Him to do what i think would be best in the world. But I recognise I'm a fool, and my thinking is flawed. I'm willing to have faith that the things which seem strange to me now will one day be made clear.

I don't get how adopting more hatred would make you more divinely moral.  I guess that's just my feeble human empathy speaking, though.  Too bad we humans didn't gain moral knowledge or anything in the Bible's stories, right?

I mean that as humans we like to be the ones to decide what is right and wrong, we like to point the finger at others.

In the video, my pastor makes the very interesting observation that in prison, if you ask a muderer what it's like, the response can be something like "it's awful. There are terrible people in here. There are pedophiles in here."

We should be amoral, then.


edit: fixed quote
 1. Whether you've given your position enough thought to actually hate her or not, she does - under your belief system - deserve your hatred.  Follow it through rationally, if you're going to be honest.  Hate her and hold your beliefs, or don't and abandon your beliefs.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Samothec on May 14, 2013, 01:18:10 AM
I don't know what/who the second one is sorry. (that probably makes me 'uncool')

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a character from Douglas Adams' "trilogy" of 5 novels that started with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Among other things, Zaphod got a second head and a third arm grafted onto himself, had some memories removed, and got elected Galactic President so he could steal the Heart of Gold (a unique starship).

I was at a convention Douglas Adams was guest at and during a speech by him he told us that a fan had told him that the possible "Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" which was presented in the second book as "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?" is actually correct in base 13. Meaning 6*9 = 4213 (4213 = 4*13 + 2)

I've wondered if the Answer (42) was the number of really hoopy parties Zaphod would attend in his life and the Question would be Zaphod's Jeopardy-style response to the Answer of 42. Since I think the universe would be destroyed and replaced by something even stranger if Zaphod thought he'd be attending 42 (in either base 10 or 13) really hoopy parties in his life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Adams
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

Miles, I provided the links so you could try to understand what I'm saying without me creating a wall of text. You might enjoy them but I must do a spoiler and warn you that in one of the novels God manages to disprove himself and vanishes in a puff of logic. Althought the man who caused that then gets killed in the next zebra crossing.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 14, 2013, 03:14:57 AM
The only reason anyone will be tortured is because they are removed from the presence of God. Goodness and love come only from God. We weren't created to live apart from God. The suffering we have in the world right now is because we tried to live apart from God from the first, and continue to do so. The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world.  When God does do that, and He will, he will bring those of us who have accepted His gift of reconciliation back to live with Him and those who have rejected that gift will be kept apart from God. So in that sense, yes I agree that is fair. God will be honouring the wish of all those who knew God but decided to live without Him.

This sounds like text-book conservative/fundy babbling. I thought you believed in evolution.

A more appropriate modern understanding, is that we are evolving to find God. The idea that there was a created ideal state does not work too well. Chimps for example, may live in harmony with nature, but the idea that they are living in harmony with God, is a tad far fetched. There are examples of humans living natively, and they seem to suffer like anyone else.

Quote
we tried to live apart from God from the first

First what? Neanderthal? Chimp? Rat?

Quote
The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world.

A lot of Christians seem to think that consciousness springs from God, since they can't explain it any other way. Therefore, if God withdrew himself from the world, there would be no consciousness, and no way for us to suffer.

Quote
Goodness and love come only from God

And yet, goodness is necessary for animals to survive. A parent (of any species) can't bring up a child without love and sacrifice. There is no way to take love out of animal reproduction.

Quote
the wish of all those who knew God but decided to live without Him.

I didn't decide to live without God. I decided to reject lies. I may not be actively seeking God, but I'm ruling out lies.

====

A lot of what you have said up there is not derived from the Bible. It's derived from 3rd-4th century philosophy.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 14, 2013, 03:25:22 AM
I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. .....In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem

I'm concerned here, because what you seem to be saying is that - in the absence of god - you would NOT have judged those people worthy of hell (or at least not all of them).  You admit that your standard, and your god's standard, are two different things:
"God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own"
"It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem"

So would it be correct then to say that you do not feel that they should (all) be in hell (based on your own morality and sense of justice), but that you nevertheless defer to your god's judgement - even though you do not understand it?

I think I've covered your questions in my post to Azdgari above.

I presume you mean this section?

I am convinced God exists and has every right to judge His creation. I'm as sinful as anyone else, and so yes I wonder why God can't ease up, I want Him to do what i think would be best in the world. But I recognise I'm a fool, and my thinking is flawed. I'm willing to have faith that the things which seem strange to me now will one day be made clear.

My question was:  So would it be correct then to say that you do not feel that they should (all) be in hell (based on your own morality and sense of justice), but that you nevertheless defer to your god's judgement - even though you do not understand it?

...and it appears that your answer is "Yes - that is correct".  So to summarise:
1) Your own morality and opinion is that hell is wrong.
2) You do not understand the reasons why god feels hell is morally right.
3) You choose to follow god's decision.

So you choose to follow a morality that you don't understand, even when it runs counter to what you feel it should be?

If that's the case then I really don't know where else we can go, because I simply can't get my head around that way of thinking.  If I understood the reasons for an alternative morality, then my morality would (perhaps) change.  I would at least be able to make an informed decision.

But what you seem to be saying is "I will support something that I believe is wrong, and just trust that someday I will understand why someone else says it is right" - which I regard as an extremely dangerous way of thinking. 

But quite apart from that.....you've said that, one day, you will be able to understand.  Might it not be a far, far better thing for the world if that understanding was available to all, now?  Is it the case that understanding is currently possible for us, but withheld, or is it that understanding is simply impossible for us (while on this earth, I presume)?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on May 14, 2013, 06:55:54 AM
Goodness only comes from "god"? 

where do they get this stuff? I'm going to literally start requiring believers to quote what scripture theyre getting this stuff from before I respond. I wouldnt be surprised if its in there, but I bet this would cut down on a lot of assertions either way.

But anyways, I am separated from this god of which mm speaks, and feel great. Best Ive ever been. Not just bearable, but the absolute best I have ever been. Once I rejected the lies given to me from a young age my life became better and in some observable and quantifiable ways. Not just feeling better about myself, although thats a great part of getting rid of a superstition that teaches you that you deserve to be tortured forever.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 14, 2013, 08:01:18 AM
To call it my judgement gives a wrong impression. It is God's judgement. And I believe that God has the authority to make that judgement.

That's just another way of saying that you judge all of God's judgments to be correct.  You judge him to have the authority to make those judgments.  That is your own decision, your own proclamation.  All I am asking you to do is to own it.

Or it is a complete abdication of moral judgment.  He's saying that despite having the ability to tell what is morally acceptable (Gen 3:22) he refuses and instead leaves it up to someone else, a "higher" authority. 

This was C.S. Lewis' concept of what hell must have been like.  In the Screwtape Letters, he imagined a vast, infernal bureaucracy full of agents who were without moral judgment and whose wills were subsumed - devoured - by that of Satan.  He saw that as ultimate totalitarian tyranny.  This is where his pal, JRR Tolkein, got his idea for the Nazgul.  They were portrayed similarly - empty vessles who existed only to carry out the will of Sauron.

So given all that, it is clear xians agree that Miles' approach is not just wrong, but evil.  He is throwing away Eve's gift and sacrifice and the one thing that makes him like the gods.

Do you get that miles?   Your attitude leads to evil.  Your morals lead to evil.  Historically, this is demonstrated by the often repeated "I was just following orders" plea.  It was not accepted at Nurenburg and if there is a god, I cannot imagine it would be accepted by him either. The path you are on leads to hell.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 14, 2013, 08:14:28 AM
Goodness and love come only from God.

What about your mom?[1]  When you were little, didn't you feel goodness and love from her?  Are you saying it wasn't really from her?   And what about you now?  Do you not have kids?  And do you not give them goodness and love?  Are you saying that the love you feel for them does not really come from you?  Does the love and goodness you feel from them not really come from them, but from god? 

If so, then what's the point of anything?  If we cannot do good and love on our own, then what are we?  Are we are just meat puppets?  Robots?  This means your god created us to be entirely helpless, useless and dependent.  I have to say, Miles, I find your theology to be completely nihilistic and emotionally crippling.

We weren't created to live apart from God...

There is a lot wrong with the rest of that.  I do not have the time or inclination to go through it.  Suffice it to say, your moral compass is completely fucked as is your ability to reason.  I do not entirely blame you.  Social conditioning is a powerful thing.

 1. tempting though it is, it is not a joke about your mom.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 14, 2013, 10:52:15 AM
...many of us here (myself included) used to say the exact same thing you are claiming. "Oh I had an experience with Christ and I could never deny it."
p.s. - Remember, I used to think I had a "personal relationship" with Jesus too (and sounded very similar to you for nearly 20 years)

     It seems to me that if you are sincere in what you say here, your claim that I hold an unfalsifiable view about my experience with Christ would have been demonstrated to be false in your own experience.

It is unfalsifiable by you, because you won't allow it to be falsified (though there is good reason to think your interpretation of said experience is misplaced). You are practicing bias, and unwilling to allow any other interpretation of the alleged facts in. In fact, you are taking the most unlikely interpretation - based upon your presupposition. That is called confirmation bias and it is what makes your view unfalsifiable (just like the staunch astrologists who refuse to admit astrology is nonsense).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 14, 2013, 11:08:27 AM
Have you even thought to critically examine these alleged experiences?

          Yes, I have, and that is why I think that it is a misplaced criticism to characterize my faith experience as nothing more than the ‘dubious’ decision of a five year old.  I am certainly not afraid to debate the validity of the truth claims of Christianity (when we are done this discussion perhaps), but until then I think that my willingness to subject my interpretation of my experience with Christ to forum criticism qualifies as an attempt to examine my ‘alleged experiences’. 
     Despite the fact that I cannot communicate the evidential merit of my experience to you, I have made an effort to respond to the external criticisms mounted against my interpretation of my experience.  If you look back in previous posts you will see that I have given reasons why I don’t think my experience can be seen as being explained by an appeal to imagination (#67), cultural expectation, an epiphany (#112), delirious excitement (#113), or mental illness/drugs.  I think my responses to these constitute inductive evidence (e.g. a process of elimination) that my experience is genuine and connected to the person of Christ. 
     If you have watched the movie Zero Dark Thirty you will know that this is the exact kind of reasoning that the CIA used in their decision to launch a special ops mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.  They found a well guarded compound in Pakistan and over a period of several months used a process of elimination to reach a rationally justified conclusion that the main occupant was their sought after quarry.  The president asked them, “bring forth a picture of Osama Bin Laden”; but they could not – it was not that they were afraid of having their views falsified or that they felt themselves to be immune from good evidence, but because they were confident in the less than 100% certain conclusions that they held.

Your analogy breaks down big time dude. The things in this story of Osama Bin Laden are DEMONSTRABLE! Your 'non-communicable' alleged deity is not. Regarding your previous posts, #112 doesn't answer anything regarding culturally induced bias. Regarding posts #67, you say

Quote
"If all other arguments for God’s existence were to be taken out of the picture except personal experience, I still think that personal experience would constitute a type of valid evidence.  If I was presented with evidence against God’s existence then I would have to weigh the strengths of that evidence against the strength of my experiential evidence."

It's surprising that you can't see the fallacy here (and the fact that you didn't deal with the objections raised). You are starting backwards - interpreting and alleged "experience with Christ", as such, based upon your presumption regarding the bible's authority. You assumed the bible was "the word of God" and then went about interpreting your experience as coinciding with it. How absurd! Muslims and Mormons do the same thing! It laughable that you can't see this.

The second part of your quote from #67 is just plain credulous. Do you always start with your conclusion and try to work backwards - attempting to CONFIRM what you already accepted?? This is, I think the very crux of why "faith" (believing things without good reason) fails. And you seem to be pretty dishonest about it as well b/c you keep claiming this thing is "non-communicable" and then you keep communicating about it. What you're trying to do here looks fundamentally no different from moving the goal post (all over the place) to protect your precious presuppositions from refutation.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 14, 2013, 11:13:36 AM
I do believe that anybody who God sends to hell deserves to be there, yes. I further recognise that I'm poorly placed to understand why God's standard of judgement is so much higher than my own. I believe I will fully understand it one day.

How is this any different from being gullible?

For $1000.00, I promise to tell you.

A gullible perosn's gullibility is eventually laid bare for all to see, often even the gullibled.[1]. Nothing I experience tells me I am wrong. I often am wrong, and recognise it. You may well consider me gullible, but of course I consider you equally gullible, and in fact totally deceived.
 1. if Parking Places is allowed to invent words, so am I

HA! WOW, really? I'm gullible? Please tell me what I'm gullible about b/c so far I haven't presented any position regarding the world. The answer "I don't know" isn't a gullible position.

Of course, I can understand why you say I'm deceived (seeing as how you've accepted the bible as your authority in advance). I used to say the same thing to non-believers when I was trying to defend the faith. Who is more deceived, the one who admits when he doesn't know something (me) or the one who started with his conclusion (you)?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 14, 2013, 11:32:12 AM
     A fast talking salesman comes to your door, making claims about a magic solution which he says will cure all illness and decease on contact.

     As I see it, my argument consists of two premises and a conclusion: (1) I have a relational experience that began when I called on Christ’s name; (2) I have reason to believe that the experience is not self-produced; therefore (3) my experience acts as personal affirmative evidence for God’s existence.  If the argument is valid, then I am rational to continue believing in God in the absence of de facto objections to my faith.  There is a difference between knowing that one’s faith is true and showing others that it is true – hence the non-communicability aspect.  Your reference to some kind of a swift talking door to door salesman is completely irrelevant because I am not trying to ‘sell’ you anything.  The question that you asked in your OP was, “what would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God?” It was not “what do you think it would take for you to convince an atheist to believe in Jesus and/or God”.

And you've completely missed my point, once again. The fast talking salesman at the door is YOU - convincing yourself! There is another part of that analogy, where the salespeople are the ones who first influenced you (appealed to your emotions etc - prepped you) and convinced you that the bible is the word of God, but the analogy stands. I know because I used to use your same arguments for nearly 20 years. They are simply credulous and nothing more. You have an alleged experience that you are choosing to interpret as being "from Christ" based upon what you had already been pre-prepped to accept.

Now, regarding your syllogism both premises are inherently problematic. For P1, how do you know you had a "relational experience" and not a misapprehension? What do you mean by this term? You seem to be using it very vaguely to represent something that you cannot even point to or relate to anything demonstrable. So, this premise is question begging and it shows that you have a very low standard of evidence when it comes to this religion you grew up around. Two, your second premise fails as well. Even if you had good reason for thinking this alleged experience was not "self-produced" this wouldn't get you to your conclusion. In fact, I'm willing to accept that your alleged experience wasn't fully self produced (i.e. - b/c you were psychologically prepared/influenced for it and you had an expectation of it based upon prior experiences/sales tactics). So this argument isn't sound (not even in the slightest).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 14, 2013, 11:44:47 AM
     I guess if I could grant you one more concession it would be that the evidential merit is only mostly non-communicable.  Here is an illustration to describe what I mean by non-communicable evidence.  I am hitchhiking to Saskatoon and am picked up by a stranger who begins asking me questions.  Before long he finds out that I claim to be married, but he wants proof.  He asks: do I have a wedding ring (I forgot it when I left home), do I have a marriage certificate (I don’t normally carry it with me), do I have any pictures of me and my wife (I lost my wallet).  He then states: you have not given me any evidence that you are married therefore I do not believe you.  He would be justified in his conclusion; however he would not be justified to demand that I stop believing that I am married because I have non-communicable evidence in the form of experiences with my wife that are stored in my memory.  I suppose that in some ways the evidential value of my marriage is communicable (e.g. if I could show him my wedding ring or a picture) but for the most part I just cannot communicate to him the evidence that I fall back on to maintain my belief.

You know, so far I really think you are an intelligent guy - which is why I am so confused as to why you would use such a massively FALSE ANALOGY for which to compare your alleged 'non-communicable' experience with. Weddings are DEMONSTRABLE! They are NOT extraordinary (i.e. - they are demonstrated and confirmed every-single-day). Furthermore, your story breaks down a second way as well. The driver could easily confirm all of this evidence of marriage by mere driving to your house and/or nearest government office in order to view those sufficient evidences. Your alleged experience is absolutely nothing like this! Can you demonstrate Jesus to us right now? [Btw, your bible (Mark 16/John 14) says you should be able to.]

Do you see how this analogy fails? Your standard of evidence for your alleged religious experiences (and indeed the entirety of your religion itself) does not line up with your standard in daily life.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: One Above All on May 14, 2013, 11:54:22 AM
To answer the thread:
It would take brainwashing and/or a redefining of what a god is (to me) to get me to believe again.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: BibleStudent on May 14, 2013, 01:06:48 PM
If someone said to you that they had a relationship with Elvis Presley, what would you think of them?  Why do you think you saying 'I have a relationship with Jesus' is somehow different?  Because it's more socially acceptable?  Do you have more evidence that you have a personal relationship with Jesus than someone who says they have a relationship with Elvis Presley?  What would you say if they told you they have non-communicable evidence of their relationship with Elvis?

The above questions from JeffPT were not directed to me but I would like to chime in since the relationship us Christians claim to have with God is so often challenged....as are the "experiences" some of us claim to have.

Personally, I can say that, along with the scientific evidence that I have examined and the satisfactory proof that the Bible is the basis for all Truth, it is an ”awareness” that cements it all. The Bible refers to it as the spiritual connection between God and man but the result of that connection is an “awareness” of His being. People here often refer to it simply as a ‘hunch’ or a ‘nebulous feeling’ however “awareness” is a real conscious function and cannot be discarded solely because it is unidentifiable under a microscope. There are some good arguments for this and while I do not subscribe to any particular one, there are some that teeter on getting to the crux of what I am attempting to explain here. Following is a link to a Wiki post that sets forth a decent basis behind an argument for “awareness.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexive_Self-Consciousness

Again, I do not subscribe to any particular person’s assertions but I do firmly believe that everyone possesses an “awareness.” I would encourage you to do some research on this topic…..if, for nothing else, just to examine the assertions and see if you think they hold up.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 14, 2013, 01:43:29 PM
BibleStudent: And where does this awareness sit in regard to the subjective.

It cant be anything other subjective itself.

As this is the case you've done nothing in your explanation to explain what a relationship or experience of Jesus is. Your entire post is moot!
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: ParkingPlaces on May 14, 2013, 02:06:25 PM
Again, I do not subscribe to any particular person’s assertions but I do firmly believe that everyone possesses an “awareness.” I would encourage you to do some research on this topic…..if, for nothing else, just to examine the assertions and see if you think they hold up.

BibleStudent

While I have no doubt that you believe that "subjective experience" is pretty special, that is an idea that may be subject to human imagination, just as many other ideas are. They sound good, so they must be true. I have an otherwise rational friend who includes in her "subjective experience" the knowledge that UFO's are absolutely real, beyond any shadow of a doubt. To her, our mind and our awareness arose out of visits to earth millions of years ago by aliens who implanted the ability to evolve intelligence into our ape ancestors, and the rest, as far as she is concerned, is history. And she feels that this is true with exactly the same sense of "rightness" that most believers feel about their specific religions.

In other words, subjective experiences are, um, subjective. And open to personal interpretation. And are containers for self-fulfilling prophecies. And easily distorted (example: the many thousands of versions of christianity).

Feelings are nice. I have them every once in a while and enjoy them immensely. But I learned long ago that my feelings do not necessarily have a nice, tidy connection with reality. And that they are useful only when as they are able to amplify reality rather than distort it.

If your main source of religious belief is feelings rather than information, don't be too surprised if some of us look at you askance. There are those of us, less subject to hormones or something, that require more than wishful thinking to back up our POV.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 14, 2013, 02:12:43 PM
The above questions from JeffPT were not directed to me but I would like to chime in since the relationship us Christians claim to have with God is so often challenged....as are the "experiences" some of us claim to have.

Personally, I can say that, along with the scientific evidence that I have examined and the satisfactory proof that the Bible is the basis for all Truth, it is an ”awareness” that cements it all. The Bible refers to it as the spiritual connection between God and man but the result of that connection is an “awareness” of His being. People here often refer to it simply as a ‘hunch’ or a ‘nebulous feeling’ however “awareness” is a real conscious function and cannot be discarded solely because it is unidentifiable under a microscope. There are some good arguments for this and while I do not subscribe to any particular one, there are some that teeter on getting to the crux of what I am attempting to explain here. Following is a link to a Wiki post that sets forth a decent basis behind an argument for “awareness.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexive_Self-Consciousness
I confess a lot of this sounds rather...Buddhist to me.  But that's just a gleaning from the Wikipedia article, so take with grains of salt.
I'm not sure if this really jives with a conception of the biblical god though.  There doesn't really seem to be any sort of exigent 'will' associated with this 'ultimate sentience', not to mention any need for concepts such as 'salvation' or 'sin'.  Or anything to suggest that this 'ultimate sentience' has anything at all to do with the bible.
Quote
Again, I do not subscribe to any particular person’s assertions but I do firmly believe that everyone possesses an “awareness.” I would encourage you to do some research on this topic…..if, for nothing else, just to examine the assertions and see if you think they hold up.
I do not possess this "awareness" that you speak of.  At least, I don't think I do.  How would I go about figuring out if I have this awareness or not?  Is it possible to have an "awareness" that I'm not "aware" of?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Iamrational on May 14, 2013, 02:14:56 PM
satisfactory proof that the Bible is the basis for all Truth

Biblestudent, which part of the bible is true (meaning of course not false)? How can you tell?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Astreja on May 14, 2013, 03:03:28 PM
The Bible refers to it as the spiritual connection between God and man but the result of that connection is an “awareness” of His being. People here often refer to it simply as a ‘hunch’ or a ‘nebulous feeling’ however “awareness” is a real conscious function and cannot be discarded solely because it is unidentifiable under a microscope.

Well, the "awareness" is a legitimate neurological phenomenon and IMO doesn't need to be discarded; but neither does it get a free pass to be "The Truth."

Alas, I've seen the human brain pull one stunt too many and no longer trust its ability to accurately and consistently represent reality.  I think the best we can manage is a crude approximation of the real world, limited by our senses and our biases, much as a CD is a crude approximation of the sound of a real violin.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 07:47:44 PM
To call it my judgement gives a wrong impression. It is God's judgement. And I believe that God has the authority to make that judgement.

That's just another way of saying that you judge all of God's judgments to be correct.  You judge him to have the authority to make those judgments.  That is your own decision, your own proclamation.  All I am asking you to do is to own it.

No. I disagree with you. There is a difference between making a judgement and accepting that God has the authority to make a judgement. I do not judge God or his actions, or his judgements. That's what you, and most atheists I know, do. (hypothetically, of course). That isn't to say that I question them. Of course I do. I hate seeing suffering as much as you or anyone else. I hate the idea that not everybody will choose to worship God, and that God will withdraw from those people for eternity. And probably biggest of all: I am damned if I know why God created the world at all, knowing what would result.

But: For whatever, impossible to describe to you reason, I have become more and more convinced that God did create the world, that the bible is God's word, and that God created the world for good reasons that will one day be made clear to me. The suffering will make sense to me, God's judgement will make sense to me. I know you think it strange that I would have faith in something I don't fully understand, but the things I am certain about are enough to convince me that my knowledge gaps are no reason to not worship God or to ask for His mercy.


You may think my judgement/belief distinction is semantics or some weak attempt to worm my way out of something uncomfortable, but as far as I'm concerned it's a legitimate and important distinction. After all, do I have a history on this forum of sugarcoating what I beleive? I hardly think so.

In fact, I often feel that what I say on certain topics gets re-worded and I am told that I actually believe something, or am saying something, that I am not. A lot of the time I don't have the energy to argue the point further.


If your god judging a child, who never heard of Jesus in life. to deserve a worse form of eternal torture than we could ever imagine, does not make you reconsider the position that "God's moral judgments are always correct" then what you've done, right then and there, is to judge the torture to be morally right.  You could either judge it to be wrong (and in the process judge your god to be wrong).  Or you could judge that it's not so wrong for it to negate your belief about your god's moral authority.  Given what that moral authority says, option #2 means you judge it to be morally right.  It's still your call.  Why all the hoops to avoid responsibility for your own morality?

This is relevant to the distinction I made above. For a start, I do not pretend to know the eternal resting place of those who die very young. I don't know how the passage in Romans fits in with those situations. I tend to think, and certainly hope, that those who genuinely never had an opportunity to know God and reject Him will not be judged in the way those who did know and rejected God will be. The important point is, I am willing to accept that God has ultimate authority and I am comforted by the fact that God sent Jesus to live on earth and die for sin. To me, that shows God wants to save souls, not condemn then. Well might you ask, why can't He just save all souls? And I again ask, would that be justice? Do we all deserve to live with God? Where is the line drawn? Unlike us, God cannot overlook sin. It is just who God is.



So you believe that the 4-year-old aboriginal girl who lived in what we now call Australia in 400 AD has deliberately chosen what she knows is an eternity of torture.  What a fool.  No wonder she deserves your hatred.

Here you go again, telling me what I believe and how I feel hatred. No, I do not believe that. I simply do not know how God deals with those who genuinely did not know Him.


Yes, ignoring her certainly would be an act of hatred. And you are looking at the idea of 'torture' and 'hell' wrongly.


I was only demonstrating that genuinely feeling that someone deserves torture, especially eternal torture, requires that you hate them.  The two are practically synonyms.

Does telling someone that if they reject God He will honour that decision equate in any way to hatred? The consequences are what they are - I didn't create them or wish them upon anybody. I personally don't wish anybody to experience separation from God, as tempting as that may be in some cases. How do you go on that score, by the way? Hypothetically, would you hope that certain horrible people are sent to hell?


I've been focusing on your own hateful morality, and your refusal to take responsibility for it.

Repeatedly stating something doesn't make it true. I don't hate.


A god can certainly hate people.  That's its right.  It's your right, too.  Agreeing with your god's hatred of people is your own prerogative.  I'm only asking that you be honest about that hatred.

Telling me that if I disagree with your view of things I'm not being honest. Arrogant.



I don't get how adopting more hatred would make you more divinely moral.  I guess that's just my feeble human empathy speaking, though.  Too bad we humans didn't gain moral knowledge or anything in the Bible's stories, right?

The only hatred on display is the hatred you must have for the horse you've flogged to death in trying to convince me I feel hatred or have to feel hatred to accept that God exists and has authority over us.


I mean that as humans we like to be the ones to decide what is right and wrong, we like to point the finger at others.

In the video, my pastor makes the very interesting observation that in prison, if you ask a muderer what it's like, the response can be something like "it's awful. There are terrible people in here. There are pedophiles in here."

We should be amoral, then.


Please clarify.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 07:48:40 PM
I don't know what/who the second one is sorry. (that probably makes me 'uncool')

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a character from Douglas Adams' "trilogy" of 5 novels that started with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Thanks for clueing me in.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 14, 2013, 08:02:50 PM
Your faith that what God is doing is right and just, albeit beyond your understanding, is identical to agreement with what God is doing.

No, I don't think you're trying to worm your way out of something with me, or anyone else you're talking to on here.  I know you're not afraid to state your views, no matter how unpopular they might be.  It's a quality about you that I do respect, despite how I've often reacted to such statements.

Here though, it sounds to me more like you're worming out of it with yourself.  Having faith that Hell is a good thing, versus feeling/believing that it is a good thing...could you explain the difference?


EDIT:  You specifically asked me to clarify something, and I didn't.  What I mean by "we should be amoral, then" is that what I read in your last comment of that post was you saying that humans like to be the ones to "point fingers" (ie. make moral judgments) and should not.  This interpretation is reinforced by your reliance, in the rest of the post, on the idea that human moral judgments of the universe, are foolish/unjustified.  Should that person be in hell?  No moral judgment, just leave it to God!  Should that person be in jail?  No moral judgment, just leave it to God!  Err...that's amoral.  It's also reinforced by the Bible, given what YHWH, in the Garden of Eden story, wanted from humans.  He didn't want humans to be moral agents.  Adam and Eve became ones anyway, an unforgivable crime for which we are supposedly still paying.  Morality is a sin.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 08:09:53 PM
The only reason anyone will be tortured is because they are removed from the presence of God. Goodness and love come only from God. We weren't created to live apart from God. The suffering we have in the world right now is because we tried to live apart from God from the first, and continue to do so. The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world.  When God does do that, and He will, he will bring those of us who have accepted His gift of reconciliation back to live with Him and those who have rejected that gift will be kept apart from God. So in that sense, yes I agree that is fair. God will be honouring the wish of all those who knew God but decided to live without Him.

This sounds like text-book conservative/fundy babbling. I thought you believed in evolution.

I'm open minded in respect of how creation occurred.


A more appropriate modern understanding, is that we are evolving to find God. The idea that there was a created ideal state does not work too well. Chimps for example, may live in harmony with nature, but the idea that they are living in harmony with God, is a tad far fetched. There are examples of humans living natively, and they seem to suffer like anyone else.

None of what you just said is even slightly compelling as an argument against God creating people to live perfectly with Him. Animals weren't created to live in harmony with God.


Quote
we tried to live apart from God from the first

First what? Neanderthal? Chimp? Rat?

First people who rebelled.

Quote
The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world.

A lot of Christians seem to think that consciousness springs from God, since they can't explain it any other way. Therefore, if God withdrew himself from the world, there would be no consciousness, and no way for us to suffer. [/quote]

God will still exist. This is just poor logic.


Quote
Goodness and love come only from God

And yet, goodness is necessary for animals to survive. A parent (of any species) can't bring up a child without love and sacrifice. There is no way to take love out of animal reproduction.

Love and sacrifice. Indeed. You're on the right track.


Quote
the wish of all those who knew God but decided to live without Him.

I didn't decide to live without God. I decided to reject lies.

If that is absolutely true, you're as sound as a pound.


A lot of what you have said up there is not derived from the Bible. It's derived from 3rd-4th century philosophy.

No, it's from the bible. I'm quite sure.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 08:21:22 PM


Here though, it sounds to me more like you're worming out of it with yourself.  Having faith that Hell is a good thing, versus feeling/believing that it is a good thing...could you explain the difference?

No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.


 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Samothec on May 14, 2013, 08:29:27 PM
No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. ...
I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.
But that's the point some of us make: why would a benevolent god create hell? The only logic answer is that a benevolent god would NOT create hell. So either god is malevolent or does not exist. Any other answer requires huge amounts of bullshit and mental gymnastics, if not delusions.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 14, 2013, 08:35:54 PM


Here though, it sounds to me more like you're worming out of it with yourself.  Having faith that Hell is a good thing, versus feeling/believing that it is a good thing...could you explain the difference?

No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

I mean the existence of Hell being good in the Grand Design, not the prospect of actually going there being good from our perspective.  Clearly, God wills its existence, from a Christian perspective.  And from a Christian perspective, that makes it good, even if we don't understand why with our feeble human intellects and morals.

EDIT:  I made an edit on the last post.  Does my comment on amorality make more sense now, even if you disagree?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 08:38:50 PM
[
Or it is a complete abdication of moral judgment.  He's saying that despite having the ability to tell what is morally acceptable (Gen 3:22) he refuses and instead leaves it up to someone else, a "higher" authority. 

This was C.S. Lewis' concept of what hell must have been like.  In the Screwtape Letters, he imagined a vast, infernal bureaucracy full of agents who were without moral judgment and whose wills were subsumed - devoured - by that of Satan.  He saw that as ultimate totalitarian tyranny.  This is where his pal, JRR Tolkein, got his idea for the Nazgul.  They were portrayed similarly - empty vessles who existed only to carry out the will of Sauron.

So given all that, it is clear xians agree that Miles' approach is not just wrong, but evil.  He is throwing away Eve's gift and sacrifice and the one thing that makes him like the gods.

Not at all. I believe that my sense of justice, right and wrong exist because I was created in God's image. But an image is just that, it isn't a perfect replica. It's why I do the wrong thing even when I know its wrong. Same as you, same as everyone.

I don't ignore justice in this lifetime and hope God will sort it out. But I do accept that it is God who will bring ultimate justice. We disagree on what that will be, but, hey...that's unavoidable when you don't believe in ultimate justice at all.


Do you get that miles? 

Your incorrect assessment of me? Sure.


Your attitude leads to evil.  Your morals lead to evil.  Historically, this is demonstrated by the often repeated "I was just following orders" plea.  It was not accepted at Nurenburg and if there is a god, I cannot imagine it would be accepted by him either. The path you are on leads to hell.

The path I am on is not what you consider it to be.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 08:51:30 PM
Goodness and love come only from God.

What about your mom?[1]  When you were little, didn't you feel goodness and love from her?  Are you saying it wasn't really from her?   And what about you now?  Do you not have kids?  And do you not give them goodness and love?  Are you saying that the love you feel for them does not really come from you?  Does the love and goodness you feel from them not really come from them, but from god? 
 1. tempting though it is, it is not a joke about your mom.

Goodness and love originate with God. That is indeed what I believe. Those things exist. Because they do, my parents were able to be good and loving. I am able to be good and loving, but only because those things exist.  You, presumably, believe those qualities evolved as a necessary part of human development. So i guess I could ask, does the love you feel for Mrs Screwtape come from you, or from the first sentinent being that for some reason felt love?


If so, then what's the point of anything?  If we cannot do good and love on our own, then what are we?  Are we are just meat puppets?  Robots?  This means your god created us to be entirely helpless, useless and dependent.  I have to say, Miles, I find your theology to be completely nihilistic and emotionally crippling.

That's because, as is so often the case, you believe it to be something it isn't.


Suffice it to say, your moral compass is completely fucked as is your ability to reason. 

I can reason perfectly well. Heaven forbid my reasoning result in a difference of opinion.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 14, 2013, 08:54:03 PM
Time out. Will try to pick up the thread in a day or three.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 14, 2013, 09:05:49 PM
Not at all. I believe that my sense of justice, right and wrong exist because I was created in God's image.  ...

That is not what the Bible says.  It says we were created ignorant of right and wrong, good and evil.  That knowledge is what we gained (in the story) when Eve and Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil).  That's kind of the point of the story, no?

Clearly, you don't believe everything in the Bible to be truth.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: JeffPT on May 14, 2013, 10:08:04 PM
Personally, I can say that, along with the scientific evidence that I have examined and the satisfactory proof that the Bible is the basis for all Truth, it is an ”awareness” that cements it all. The Bible refers to it as the spiritual connection between God and man but the result of that connection is an “awareness” of His being. People here often refer to it simply as a ‘hunch’ or a ‘nebulous feeling’ however “awareness” is a real conscious function and cannot be discarded solely because it is unidentifiable under a microscope.

Personally, I can say that the total lack of scientific evidence pointing to God, and the unbelievably low amount of proof that the bible is 'the basis of all truth', are reasons enough to discard the belief in the Christian God.  There is plenty more to go on, but those are enough for me. 

But who's discarding the awareness you speak of? I'm certainly not.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say that feeling some sort of awareness might be hard wired in.  But I'm not accepting the first explanation that comes along, nor am I accepting what I was raised to believe (but never did).  I'm just looking at all the possible explanations for it. And I don't find the 'god is real and he is the awareness' explanation to be valid for many reasons but I do find the following theory explains all the facts surrounding religious belief quite well.       

The awareness you are talking about is nothing more than the many years of Christian indoctrination you've received functioning inside a brain that looks for causative agents in every corner of it's existence.  All of our brains look for causative agents, but those that are told that there really is an agent out there are playing with a brain that is already hard wired to accept such a thing.  Why do you think it's so easy to get kids to believe in Santa Claus?  The Easter bunny?  The Tooth Fairy?  God?  They look for causative agents and they believe what parents tell them. 

Why do you think there are so many religions out there that have been believed in just as seriously as yours for just as long, if not longer than yours?  Because it happens all over the world from culture to culture.  Muslims are humans that look for causative agents, and Islam plays to it.  Hindu's are humans that look for causative agents and Hinduism plays to it.  Christianity is EXACTLY the same.  And they play to it early and often because if they introduce the god concept after a child has the capability to reason through it and question it, it won't take hold as easily.  How many religions out there do you hear saying 'lets not push this idea on kids... let's wait until they're old enough to make their own decision and reason it through'?  Zero.   

If all you have is a 'feeling' or an 'awareness', then that's not enough.  It's just not.  If person X swears up and down that they have an 'awareness' of Jesus, and person Y swears up and down that they have an 'awareness' of Mohammed, a reasonable explanation for this discrepancy is that they're both wrong, and that they are both experiencing the exact sort of thing I talked about above, is it not?  Especially since this 'awareness' is the only thing we really have to go on.  And even if there really IS something to be 'aware' of; neither of them, nor any other religious person for that matter, has any sort of proof advantage over the other. So claiming to know what it is, is the effect of the indoctrination into whatever religion they believe in. 

The awareness you feel has been nurtured, trained and practiced for years in the church, and just like anything else, you've become good at it.  Like the person who becomes good at meditation after practicing it for years.  You're brain has a hard time seeing it any other way now. 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 14, 2013, 10:37:04 PM
          The observation that endorphin levels would increase if I were to meditate on how much Jesus loves me does not constitute falsifying evidence for the experience because that increase in endorphins takes place in the context of normal physiological processes in the brain.
My point is that the positive emotional response you attribute to a "relationship with god" is likely due to completely internal, natural occurrences within your own brain. You basically admit the same with your statement above.

     One important thing to note about your illustration is that it is the note the boy received and not the boy’s subsequent emotional state that is analogous to my relational experience with Christ.  In my argument I have said that I have a relational experience and I interpret this experience as providing me with evidence that the Christian God exists – in the illustration, the boy received a note and interpreted the note to mean that the girl was in love with him (it was his interpretation that then resulted in his emotional state).  In my case, my emotional state already exists and based on my judgement of its reality I interpret it as providing me with evidence that the Christian God exists.
It seems you are merely arguing semantics. If your emotional state already existed prior to your faith (which would be extremely difficult to establish considering you acquired your faith at age 5), then how can you use your emotional state as evidence for god? In other words, if you were already blissful and then began a "relationship with god" while remaining blissful, what is it which you attribute to god? Was not your mother's testimony to you as a boy essentially the equivalent of receiving a note (per my example) that god loves you, and the emotions you've felt since a result of your interpretation of it?

Quote
     I would like to offer you a second illustration: keep everything in the original illustration the same (the note, the beautiful girl, the boy’s crush, and the peripheral circumstances), but this time assume that the note is actually meant for the boy.  The question I have for you would be: in the second illustration does the boy have any more justification for concluding that the girl is in love with him? I would say no.  The note has the exact same evidential value in the first illustration as it does in the second; whether his conclusion about the girl’s love for him is true or not is irrelevant to the determination of the evidential value of the note.  This is what I am trying to say about my relational experience – whether or not it is based on a real Christian God is irrelevant to the determination of its evidential value.
Perhaps he is no more justified in his conclusion in either example upon first receiving the note, but the one thing the boy has in his favor is that he can easily achieve confirmation (positive or negative) by speaking directly with the girl and hearing her direct response. You, unfortunately, do not have such convenience in determining the legitimacy of your good feelings for god.
But let's say he is unable to confirm it by getting a direct response from her[1]. This is more in line with a believer's situation with god. The boy would go to his grave believing the girl loved him, and would experience whatever emotions would accompany such a belief. The biggest difference is that, at the very least, the boy holds a proclamation of love written by the girl's own hand. You hold, essentially, a metaphorical note written by your mother that god loves you.

Quote
     If my judgement is incorrect then in my opinion I am in possession of a legitimate piece of evidence that supports a false conclusion.  There is nothing contradictory about having legitimate evidence for a false conclusion – its happens all the time in court.  I’m sure all of us can think of court cases (e.g. Dustin Paxton, O.J. Simpson, Oscar Pistorius) where it seems pretty certain even with superficial knowledge of the case that the person is guilty, but that doesn’t mean that the court cannot admit evidence that can support the person’s innocence.  It just means that at the end of the day the evidence supporting the accused guilt will likely outweigh the evidence for his innocence.
It is the legitimacy of your evidence that is in question here. How can you (per your example, in a court of law) establish that it is legitimate?
 1. maybe she moved away to Alaska immediately after passing him the note, and he has no means by which to contact her
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 15, 2013, 12:25:38 AM
     While you are not currently in a mental hospital, that does not mean you do not belong in one.

     Just a couple of peripheral issues: first, I have been puzzling over your use of the word 'xian' (when I googled it I found that it refers either to a city in China or a 'basic unit of local government in China').  I was going to ask you about it, but I mentioned it to my wife first and she said, "silly, it's an abbreviation for 'Christian' just like 'xmas' is an abbreviation for Christmas" - maybe I do belong in a mental hospital  ;D).  Second, if someone makes a good point or says something I find funny am I allowed to give out + karma points?  If so, how do I do it?

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 15, 2013, 02:30:27 AM
Second, if someone makes a good point or says something I find funny am I allowed to give out + karma points?  If so, how do I do it?

You have the power. Use it wisely, my son. You'll see a green and red icon under the avatar's. (need to be logged in)

Probably best you try a practice + karma. Possibly on someone who has recently been helpful to you.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 15, 2013, 03:49:28 AM
No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

Oh, I contemplate it.  But I have no understanding at all of why it WOULD be a reality, assuming that your god is both loving, and desiring that we are saved.

Because a place of eternal punsihment and torment that is as terrible as you describe is entirely disproportionate to any crime or sin that may be committed in a finite earthly life.  Some punishment?  Maybe.  Depends on the crime.  But unremitting torment for ever?  No sir - no loving god could ever create such a place or deem it necessary or appropriate.

Especially when you examine the criteria for going there, which in the broad is "not accepting Christ". 

I would have no problem in accepting Christ.  He sounds like a generally OK dude, telling people to be nice to one another and not be so mean.  I can get behind that, sure.  But not because Christ said it, but because I think its a good way to be.  The problem is that I can't accept Christ because I simply don't believe he exists, don't believe your god exists. 

In most threads, the belief eventually comes down to "I had a personal experience, and so I believed" - making the belief something out of the control of the person experiencing it.  And that's the problem I have with hell - that because I was not given this personal experience, I will be tormented forever for something out of my control.....and there is NO way I can square that with a necessary and terrible hell.

Further, those personal experiences fly in the face of any kind of "belief without proof", of any kind of faith.  For true faith to exist, you would have to have that faith, keep that faith, in a life entirely bereft of any feeling of connection, any feeling of relationship, any "awareness" of that god.  Because although I wouldn't accept your personal experience as evidence for ME to believe, I accept that it is evidence for YOU.  Sufficient evidence for you to be convinced of the actuality of your god.

And therein lies the problem.  Some people HAVE enough evidence for their god.....but many others don't.  Yet when I ask "why not?", when I ask why god doesn't simply reveal himself to everyone and make it clear that he exists, the response is invariably "because then you wouldn't have faith, you would KNOW".  Well, so far as I can see, all the experiences you have had mean that you DO "know".  You have long gone past faith without any evidence, and are operating from a position of knowledge: knowledge that you cannot share with anyone else, sure, but nonetheless you are certain there is a god.  You don't believe, you know....and hence remove any validity for that god not granting that knowledge to every human on the planet, and hence removing the possibility of hell for unbelief.

So no - I cannot conceive of any reason why a loving god who wants us to be saved would ever have the need to create and eternal, terrible, necessary hell.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 15, 2013, 10:40:27 AM
The problem is that I can't accept Christ because I simply don't believe he exists, don't believe your god exists. ...

Just a quick correction, which may impact the rest - according to magicmiles, you aren't telling the truth here.  He knows, and you don't, that deep down you really do believe magicmiles' god exists and are just denying it for some reason.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 15, 2013, 10:45:46 AM
To call it my judgement gives a wrong impression. It is God's judgement. And I believe that God has the authority to make that judgement.

Why, because you assumed your bible was the 'inspired word of God' from the outset? Yeah. As has been said already - backwards.

The only reason anyone will be tortured is because they are removed from the presence of God. Goodness and love come only from God. We weren't created to live apart from God. The suffering we have in the world right now is because we tried to live apart from God from the first, and continue to do so. The only reason its bearable, and even enjoyable for some, is because God has not yet removed Himself from the world. 

But of course, all of this ASSUMES your theology (aka - assumes your interpretation of the bible - which you accepted "on faith" in the first place). Who "removes" these people from the presence of God (and throws them into the "lake of fire")? Isn't it (supposedly) the same guy who created it all - and knew from the beginning exactly what would take place? So then, he planned it (and wanted it to happen that way) and for some credulous reason, you bought it.

Yet all of this theological mumbo jumbo is a red herring to this discussion. And what more is there to talk about if you aren't even willing to admit that you could be wrong regarding this assumed interpretation you have made?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 15, 2013, 10:47:23 AM
Nobody on earth deserves eternal punishment. Not a single person. Not Atilla the Hun, not Genghis Khan, not Hitler, not Stalin, not Pol Pot, not Idi Amin, not Osama bin Laden, not Benny Hill. Not even George Bush.

Because nobody can deserve to suffer eternally for something they did during a finite lifetime. That would be worse than anything they did while they were alive. If I could send people who have done horrible things to hell for a day, or a month, or a year, I would. But not forever. How could that possibly be just?

And to send people to eternal damnation (along with the Stalins and the Maos and the Osamas) just for picking the wrong team-- or not picking a team at all-- in the grand religion tournament? Absurd. Completely bollocks,[1] and nothing that a god-being worth worshipping would ever do. If I can figure that out, why can't so many religious folks?
 1. for you MM ;)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 15, 2013, 10:54:54 AM
Benny Hill???  Why is he lumped with them??   :o 
Now I can't get that song out of my head.  Baad nogodsforme.  >:(
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 15, 2013, 10:56:52 AM
- maybe I do belong in a mental hospital

possibly, but not for that reason.

Second, if someone makes a good point or says something I find funny am I allowed to give out + karma points?  If so, how do I do it?

You may once you have reached a threshold number of posts.  It is currently set at 50.  The reason for that is we have had idiots come in, make one or two highly inflamatory posts, dole out a whole lot of negative points and then vanish.  We want to make sure you are part of the community before you can sling the Darwins.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 15, 2013, 10:57:10 AM
The problem is that I can't accept Christ because I simply don't believe he exists, don't believe your god exists. ...

Just a quick correction, which may impact the rest - according to magicmiles, you aren't telling the truth here.  He knows, and you don't, that deep down you really do believe he exists and are just denying it for some reason.

This is actually a very funny position for Christians (and/or apologists) to take - but it is one which I used to take myself. How does the Christian know that God is 'known to all' but that some reject it? He assumes the bible! Specifically, he assumes Paul's writings in Romans chapter 1 are "God's Word" (as well as the rest of his interpretation of those writings).

But this doesn't take the conversation very far at all - and in fact it really demonstrates quite clearly what I set out to show from the beginning on this OP - namely that Christians are completely closed-minded. They are absolutely unwilling to entertain the possibility (or any scenario) where their belief system could be falsified. And so, when they enter this discussion and begin to discuss the topic, they quickly move away from the topic because their intention is quite dishonest. They have no intention of revealing a clear method of falsification for their alleged "faith", and this is because they don't really care whether or not their beliefs are actually true. They just want to believe what they want to believe because they want to believe.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 15, 2013, 11:08:50 AM



But this doesn't take the conversation very far at all - and in fact it really demonstrates quite clearly what I set out to show from the beginning on this OP - namely that Christians are completely closed-minded. They are absolutely unwilling to entertain the possibility (or any scenario) where their belief system could be falsified. And so, when they enter this discussion and begin to discuss the topic, they quickly move away from the topic because their intention is quite dishonest. They have no intention of revealing a clear method of falsification for their alleged "faith", and this is because they don't really care whether or not their beliefs are actually true. They just want to believe what they want to believe because they want to believe.



This does not apply to me.  I suspect many writings were made up or deliberately "colored" in translation for political reasons and to sustain patriarchy and domination of their culture. I  think the men who picked what is included in the bible were politically motivated.  I do not debate it because I cannot prove it.  I do not discuss reasoning behind my faith because I recognize it is not rational.  But my
mind is far from closed.  I just stay out of the crossfire of debates that I don't have the chops for.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 15, 2013, 11:14:23 AM
I'm curious, and have asked before, what magicmiles' reasoning process was in determining that that part of Romans 1 is 100% true, without question.  Just because it was included in Biblical canon?

If so, then what could have ever conceivably been put in there that he wouldn't have believed?  Let's say it said that humanity's population is bound never to exceed 100 million.  Would he be bound, today, to keep believing that because it is in Biblical canon?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 15, 2013, 11:26:11 AM
Not at all. I believe that my sense of justice, right and wrong exist because I was created in God's image

That is completely non-scriptural.  You, my funny accented friend, are a heretic[1] and possibly a blasphemer[2].  According to scripture, your sense of morality comes from Eve taking the initiative and eating the magical fruit from the magical Tree of Moral Knowledge and then feeding it to her slow witted mate.  It gave them moral knowledge equal to that of the gods.

You get an F in bible studies for today.

It's why I do the wrong thing even when I know its wrong. Same as you, same as everyone.

This is also not scriptural.  You are a sinner because the original sin of A&E altered the universe.

I'd give you something lower than an F, if I could.



Goodness and love originate with God.

I don't know what that means.  God was the first to experience g&L?  god made g&l like the chinese make conterfeit Gucci bags?  g&l are created within god like honey in a beehive and somehow it is piped in to us, like the public water system?  Please explain.

Those things exist.

Where?  In what way?  This relates to the previous question.  Please define your model of how this all works.  Are g&L  things?  Is there a Lake of Goodness, a warehouse with boxes of Love?  If so, where?  Does that mean we need god to create Anger and Badness too (because they must also exist)? 

Please explain this, because right now I am completely baffled as to how you think this works.

Because they do, my parents were able to be good and loving.

See above.

So i guess I could ask, does the love you feel for Mrs Screwtape come from you, or from the first sentinent being that for some reason felt love?

Me.  I have no idea how it could come from a primodial ancestor. 

Does the pain you feel from smashing your thumb with a hammer come from you or god? 
Does the embarrassment you feel from having your pant's seams ripped come from you or god?
Does the hurt from a loved one dying come from you or from god?

That's because, as is so often the case, you believe it to be something it isn't.

That does not clear it up for me.  I will hold off until you more completely explain your position.  But as it stands, I don't see how I'm wrong.   

 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy)
 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 15, 2013, 12:13:07 PM

This does not apply to me.  I suspect many writings were made up or deliberately "colored" in translation for political reasons and to sustain patriarchy and domination of their culture. I  think the men who picked what is included in the bible were politically motivated.  I do not debate it because I cannot prove it.  I do not discuss reasoning behind my faith because I recognize it is not rational.  But my
mind is far from closed.  I just stay out of the crossfire of debates that I don't have the chops for.

So you're basing your entire life on a belief that is 'not rational'?? I appreciate your honesty here, but why on earth would you ever do this (especially with such an important question)?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 15, 2013, 01:19:30 PM
In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem.

But is that true?  Is your heart really "very, very dark?"  You don't strike me as a bad person.  You don't seem mean, you don't seem cruel, you don't appear to be a malicious person.  You come across as someone who tries to do well by others and give a good accounting of himself.  Perhaps you see yourself as lacking in worth when compared to god, but the god you describe as loving and just seems to me to fall pretty far short of the example you set by trying to be a good person.

I find god to be the one with a very dark heart; he offers a very black-and-white reward system even though an extremely small number of people can ever be described as wholly evil or wholly good.  I wonder where the cut-off is for making it into heaven, sometimes.  For the JWs, it doesn't matter how good a person you are or how moral a life you lead.  If you reject their teachings, you die and cease to exist forever, while they (even the obnoxious ones) enjoy a life of peace and joy forever.  This is one of the things about religion that I couldn't make sense of, the extremes of reward and punishment for a population that almost never acts in extremes.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 15, 2013, 02:56:01 PM
Benny Hill???  Why is he lumped with them??   :o 
Now I can't get that song out of my head.  Baad nogodsforme.  >:(
I realize I left off Queen Bee-yatch Margaret Thatcher, too. She's right up there with Benny Hill and Pol Pot. :D
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 15, 2013, 05:32:59 PM

This does not apply to me.  I suspect many writings were made up or deliberately "colored" in translation for political reasons and to sustain patriarchy and domination of their culture. I  think the men who picked what is included in the bible were politically motivated.  I do not debate it because I cannot prove it.  I do not discuss reasoning behind my faith because I recognize it is not rational.  But my
mind is far from closed.  I just stay out of the crossfire of debates that I don't have the chops for.

So you're basing your entire life on a belief that is 'not rational'?? I appreciate your honesty here, but why on earth would you ever do this (especially with such an important question)?

Because I don't base my entire life on it.  I'm not a very good Christian in that respect.  I'm into the serving others and doing unto others as you would yourself part.  There is a lot of wisdom even if it is made up.  There is also made up wisdom in Shakespeare and Harry Potter and other fiction.  But the hellfire and condemnation not so much.  I know my arguments don't stand up.  This is why I don't argue. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 15, 2013, 06:43:55 PM
^^ What's the Mark Twain quote?  "Faith is believing something you know isn't true"?

(Star Stuff, you're the quote guy, help me out here)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 15, 2013, 08:04:24 PM
“It ain’t supposed to make sense; it’s faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe.” - Archie Bunker
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 16, 2013, 01:39:55 AM
Quote from: LoriPinkAngel
I'm into the serving others and doing unto others as you would yourself part.  There is a lot of wisdom even if it is made up.
Yet it never came from Christianity. So your belief in a god is moot. You and I and the rest of humanity are social animals, the ethics of reciprocity (golden rule) is innate in us all. If it wasn't we would have died out as species long ago. You don't need a belief in god to be human. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 16, 2013, 02:00:16 AM
“It ain’t supposed to make sense; it’s faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe.” - Archie Bunker

And this is why geocentrism is okay.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 16, 2013, 07:49:29 AM
I realize I left off Queen Bee-yatch Margaret Thatcher, too. She's right up there with Benny Hill and Pol Pot. :D

Do you mean Benny Hinn?  He's a vile con-man and a fraud who pretends to be a xian faith healer who should be imprisoned.

(http://godinanutshell.com/images/tv-pastors/benny_hinn011.jpg)

Benny Hill was a chubby, politically incorrect british comedian who appeared late nights on PBS and ran around in fast-motion to a soundtrack of Yackety Sax.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Hill

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c1/Benny_Hill.JPG/275px-Benny_Hill.JPG)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 16, 2013, 09:14:20 AM
Because I don't base my entire life on it.  I'm not a very good Christian in that respect.
Does being a "good Christian" matter to you at all?

Quote
I know my arguments don't stand up.  This is why I don't argue.
This seems like a...weird position to take.

Do you ever argue with yourself?  I know I do.
Have you had this argument (e.g. does god exist) with yourself?
The implication seems to be that your view/belief is not of sufficient consequence as to warrant consideration for the truth-value of said view/belief.

Am I stretching here?


------------------
Also, nogodsforme, please tell us that screwtape is correct and you meant Benny Hinn.  I would hate to think of you as a Benny-Hill-Hater...
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 16, 2013, 09:19:36 AM
I think I went through a phase like that during my deconversion.  I was in one of those places where I did not want to abandon my beliefs, but I could not justify or rationalize them.  I was at the point of no return, but I think I wanted some sort of option to return.  It's only when I decided that I couldn't return that I finally got past that hurdle.  It wasn't much longer before I realized that I didn't want to return.  The process of letting go was not an easy one, but once I did let go things went pretty smoothly.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 16, 2013, 11:04:03 AM
Because I don't base my entire life on it.  I'm not a very good Christian in that respect.  I'm into the serving others and doing unto others as you would yourself part.  There is a lot of wisdom even if it is made up.  There is also made up wisdom in Shakespeare and Harry Potter and other fiction.  But the hellfire and condemnation not so much.  I know my arguments don't stand up.  This is why I don't argue.

What need of these 'arguments' (and the beliefs that stand behind them) do you have at all (even if not displayed)? Your statements quite clearly show that you're not a Christian (i.e. - a follower of Christ in any traditional sense). So why even bother? Picking and choosing bits and pieces from 'over here' and 'over there', from what makes you "feel" good isn't a reliable way to find truth. It shows intellectual laziness. So why not just chuck out the bible (as you seem to have already done in part), stop calling yourself a Christian (if even not a 'good' one), and develop your own thoughts based upon sound reasoning and evidence? 

median

p.s. - Faith is not a pathway to truth. It is just gullibility in a mask. It plays out as pretending to know something you don't know.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 16, 2013, 03:14:10 PM
Because I don't base my entire life on it.  I'm not a very good Christian in that respect.
Does being a "good Christian" matter to you at all?
If your definition of one is someone who is kind to and considerate of other people, yes;  if it means following the Bible as if it is inerrant, no.

Quote
I know my arguments don't stand up.  This is why I don't argue.
Quote
This seems like a...weird position to take.

I take a lot of weird positions.  ;)
Quote
Do you ever argue with yourself?  I know I do.
Have you had this argument (e.g. does god exist) with yourself?
I do argue with myself.  I don't argue with other people.
Quote
The implication seems to be that your view/belief is not of sufficient consequence as to warrant consideration for the truth-value of said view/belief.
I think my actions and behavior toward others is more significant than which Bible quotations I do or don't question.
Quote
Am I stretching here?
No, very legitimate questions.  I, unlike some people try not to freak out when my beliefs or views are questioned, especially when they are clearly questionable.

------------------
Quote
Also, nogodsforme, please tell us that screwtape is correct and you meant Benny Hinn.  I would hate to think of you as a Benny-Hill-Hater...
Arrrgh, that song again.....
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 16, 2013, 03:30:29 PM
Because I don't base my entire life on it.  I'm not a very good Christian in that respect.  I'm into the serving others and doing unto others as you would yourself part.  There is a lot of wisdom even if it is made up.  There is also made up wisdom in Shakespeare and Harry Potter and other fiction.  But the hellfire and condemnation not so much.  I know my arguments don't stand up.  This is why I don't argue.

What need of these 'arguments' (and the beliefs that stand behind them) do you have at all (even if not displayed)? Your statements quite clearly show that you're not a Christian (i.e. - a follower of Christ in any traditional sense). So why even bother? Picking and choosing bits and pieces from 'over here' and 'over there', from what makes you "feel" good isn't a reliable way to find truth. It shows intellectual laziness. So why not just chuck out the bible (as you seem to have already done in part), stop calling yourself a Christian (if even not a 'good' one), and develop your own thoughts based upon sound reasoning and evidence? 

median

p.s. - Faith is not a pathway to truth. It is just gullibility in a mask. It plays out as pretending to know something you don't know.

Perhaps I am guilty of intellectual laziness.  Or maybe I am overwhelmed with other issues in my life at this point that putting my faith under a microscope is not a major priority.   I don't think it is unsound to treat others with kindness and charity.  My only current outlet right now for the only part of me that isn't badly damaged (my singing voice) happens to be the church choir.  There are secular groups but they are more demanding of time than I am able to handle.  My only way to serve my community is through my church because I lack the energy to become involved with other groups.  Who knows, some day if I get healthier I can be more introspective on this but this is definitely not the right time for me.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 16, 2013, 03:43:19 PM
Does being a "good Christian" matter to you at all?
If your definition of one is someone who is kind to and considerate of other people, yes;  if it means following the Bible as if it is inerrant, no.

So, when you say you're "not a very good Christian"...you're saying you're not kind and considerate of other people?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 16, 2013, 04:19:36 PM
Does being a "good Christian" matter to you at all?
If your definition of one is someone who is kind to and considerate of other people, yes;  if it means following the Bible as if it is inerrant, no.

So, when you say you're "not a very good Christian"...you're saying you're not kind and considerate of other people?

That specific quote was in respect to those who consider a good Christian one who bases their whole life around religion, putting God first, etc.  I try to be kind and considerate but I'm not perfect.  I was on the subway today & a guy got on with a cane and a neck collar, I asked him if he wanted to sit and he said "that's OK, mami, thank you." Then a quite large young woman with skin tight pants, tattoos, bopping to an ipod  said "I'll sit" and plopped her very generous behind right next to me. I rolled my eyes, (lucky I had shades on) but I felt a little guilty about my reaction.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 16, 2013, 05:15:54 PM
I guess I just get a little irked when people label behavior that most everyone would think of as "good", as "good Christian" behavior.  It's not "good human" behavior, then - it's specifically Christian.

Where does that leave the rest of us?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 16, 2013, 05:25:03 PM
I rolled my eyes, (lucky I had shades on) but I felt a little guilty about my reaction.

Yeah, I'm not sure if I can even talk to you again now that I know that.

 ;)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 16, 2013, 05:26:56 PM
I guess I just get a little irked when people label behavior that most everyone would think of as "good", as "good Christian" behavior.  It's not "good human" behavior, then - it's specifically Christian.

Where does that leave the rest of us?

Irked? Speak up, man! It must royally piss you off! It pisses me off too.

btw, I'll try to find some time for substantial follow ups sometime on the weekend.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 16, 2013, 05:39:00 PM
I guess I just get a little irked when people label behavior that most everyone would think of as "good", as "good Christian" behavior.  It's not "good human" behavior, then - it's specifically Christian.

Where does that leave the rest of us?

I absolutely do not think good behavior is specifically Christian.  I like that Penn Jillette quote someone has as their signature about how he murders & rapes as much as he wants and that is none.  I'm not sure even we as humans can patent "good" behavior.  There are examples of heroic acts by animals.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 16, 2013, 05:43:48 PM
So then, what does being a "good Christian" mean to you?  You've used the phrase several times.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 16, 2013, 05:47:17 PM
I rolled my eyes, (lucky I had shades on) but I felt a little guilty about my reaction.

Yeah, I'm not sure if I can even talk to you again now that I know that.

 ;)

Well some pretty rude internal commentary went along with that eyeroll...
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 16, 2013, 05:54:20 PM
So then, what does being a "good Christian" mean to you?  You've used the phrase several times.

I did not realize I used that term so much.  As guess when it comes right down to it a "good Christian" to me is a really good person who happens to be a Christian.  Sometimes in some contexts I may use the term sarcastically to refer to the Bible thumper types.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 16, 2013, 06:05:30 PM
Ahh, you  might have been using it sarcastically.  And you don't use it much, I just saw it recently.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 16, 2013, 11:16:58 PM
     You know, so far I really think you are an intelligent guy - which is why I am so confused as to why you would use such a massively FALSE ANALOGY for which to compare your alleged 'non-communicable' experience with. Weddings are DEMONSTRABLE! They are NOT extraordinary (i.e. - they are demonstrated and confirmed every-single-day). Furthermore, your story breaks down a second way as well. The driver could easily confirm all of this evidence of marriage by mere driving to your house and/or nearest government office in order to view those sufficient evidences. Your alleged experience is absolutely nothing like this! Can you demonstrate Jesus to us right now? [Btw, your bible (Mark 16/John 14) says you should be able to.]

median,
     Thanks for all the discussion - I think I will drop this argument for now.  Just a couple of comments: I don't think that an analogy has to perfectly parallel the situation that it is describing; if it did, there wouldn't be much point in using the analogy.  The point I was trying to get at was that even though in the marriage example I could take the stranger home and introduce him to my wife, I wouldn't be required to give up my belief that I am married during the 30 minute trip home - at the same time, the stranger wouldn't be rationally required to believe me during that time either.  In terms of the comparison between my relationship with my wife and my relationship with Christ, I consider both to belong to the class of personal agents.  I think that this is where we lack any common ground, and without coming to an agreement on whether a physical body is a necessary requirement for a personal agent to exist, I suppose there is not much point in continuing this argument.  I really appreciated all the time you took to reply to my posts.
             G&W
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 16, 2013, 11:24:29 PM
     That's a start.  I'd like to know about some specifics of these interactions.  You see, in the relationship I have with Mrs Screwtape, for example, we buy groceries together, cook and eat meals together, discuss our opinions of the wine of the evening, we watch movies and talk about them.  Those are some of our interactions.  What make up your interactions with jesus H?

     Emotions are unreliable. It is possible for people to feel things strongly based on their own imaginations.  People who get all worked up over, say, Lord Krishna, would be such an example.  Kids whipping themselves into a frenzy for Santa would be another example.  I am looking for something concrete.  Actual interaction.

     Don't you think that emotions add anything to your relationship with your wife beyond what can be described in terms of physical proximity?



Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 16, 2013, 11:27:37 PM
If all he had was emotions, there would be no relationship, because they would not, in practice, relate.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 16, 2013, 11:35:58 PM
     Proving that you are married is easy.  In that car ride it might be difficult, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't require a huge amount of evidence because it's not an extraordinary claim.
Quote

     How much evidence does it take to induce belief in an extraordinary claim?

Quote
But what if push did come to shove and you weren't married but you really believed you were, and for some reason the man kept looking very seriously over the span of many years for evidence that you were married and found literally nothing to make him think that you were?  No wife at your house, no wedding ring, no marriage certificate, no kids, no joint tax forms, no pictures of a woman in your house... nothing.  Would he be justified in his conclusion that you weren't, even though you thought you were? 

     Yes, I never said that the function of non-communicable evidence was to convince another person to believe. 
     
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 16, 2013, 11:37:23 PM
If all he had was emotions, there would be no relationship, because they would not, in practice, relate.

     You mean 'relate' in a physical sense? Is that the only meaningful kind of relation?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 17, 2013, 12:00:18 AM
No, if they were interacting telepathically, then that would allow them to relate as well.  The key is to have actual interaction.

If we define "relating" in such a way that interaction is not necessary for it, then the word "relationship" becomes so weak as to be useless.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Astreja on May 17, 2013, 12:33:42 AM
You mean 'relate' in a physical sense? Is that the only meaningful kind of relation?

I think one could make a case for a non-physical relationship if it had some sort of continuity and consistency.  Somehow you would have to demonstrate that there was a second party involved, rather than just a single-person thought experiment.  If the incorporeal party was able to supply information that the corporeal party could not access, you might have a case.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 17, 2013, 08:57:17 AM
I think I went through a phase like that during my deconversion.  I was in one of those places where I did not want to abandon my beliefs, but I could not justify or rationalize them.  I was at the point of no return, but I think I wanted some sort of option to return.  It's only when I decided that I couldn't return that I finally got past that hurdle.  It wasn't much longer before I realized that I didn't want to return.  The process of letting go was not an easy one, but once I did let go things went pretty smoothly.

That's the same thing that happened to me when I decided to give up atheism and return to belief.  Instead of letting bad religious practices dictate my belief I have been defining God on my own terms and it has worked so much better for me.  I understand how all of us believe what we believe.  I think if God is truly defined as Loving and followers displayed that Love it wouldn't be so hard for people to believe w/o seeing God in person.  It is a contradiction to say God Loves You but if you don't believe I'm going to fry you in a fiery hell for eternity.  I just don't believe God is so unrelenting.  If you go by the Bible, Jesus teaches us that God's love for us is more perfect than the human form of love.  By that definition God would not condemn non believers to hell, because I wouldn't and God's love is way bigger than mine.  I believe there are consequences but I believe them to be perfectly fair because they come from a source of perfect wisdom.

I believe in God not religion. 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 17, 2013, 09:16:33 AM
Instead of letting bad religious practices dictate my belief I have been defining God on my own terms and it has worked so much better for me.

I guess in a way, I also defined god on my own terms.  Those terms just happened to be "oh hey, he's not there." :)

Quote from: junebug72
I believe in God not religion.

I do see a number of people taking that approach.  I think it's a good thing.  Organizing people around religion gives the people at the top political power, and when political power is based on "pastor smith says so, and he has a direct line to god" it is very dangerous IMO.  I think that the approach that "I will find god on my own terms" is good.  I see it as a step on the path to people deciding not to find god at all, and maybe we can find more solid things to build social and political groups around.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 17, 2013, 10:54:59 AM
Does being a "good Christian" matter to you at all?
If your definition of one is someone who is kind to and considerate of other people, yes;  if it means following the Bible as if it is inerrant, no.
I don't personally really have a definition of 'good Christian' beyond 'good person that happens to be Christian'.  Appears that you share the same view from your other responses.  Just wanted clarity there; and from what I can gather, the answer is basically 'no, being a good Christian' in some sense beyond being a 'good person' isn't relevant to you.

Quote
Quote
The implication seems to be that your view/belief is not of sufficient consequence as to warrant consideration for the truth-value of said view/belief.

I think my actions and behavior toward others is more significant than which Bible quotations I do or don't question.
But I'm extending that beyond bible quotations.  I'm really talking about the actual existence of an entity called 'god'.  It seems to me that you do not establish any level of importance (at least not sufficient importance to warrant examination of the truth-value) to the claim of the objective existence of that entity or said entities particular characteristics.  God-belief, to you, is more of a philosophical position that isn't necessarily dependent on objective reality.

Your belief in the existence of god is basically some internal feeling that is strong enough such that, when presented with the question "Does god exist" your answer is 'yes', but not much more beyond that.  From the OP standpoint, then, it sounds like logical argumentation or empirical analysis of any kind would change your view.  Is it fair to say, then, that your view would change really only through some as-yet-to-be-defined collective of life experiences that change your intuition?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 17, 2013, 11:05:39 AM

Is it fair to say, then, that your view would change really only through some as-yet-to-be-defined collective of life experiences that change your intuition?

I would say that the collective crap-bag of life experiences I am going through right now is keeping me from putting my views under close scrutiny in my own head.  I am doing all I can to convince myself to survive.  Sorry for the melodrama.  I usually try to stay on the lighter side of things.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 17, 2013, 11:12:56 AM
Perhaps I am guilty of intellectual laziness.  Or maybe I am overwhelmed with other issues in my life at this point that putting my faith under a microscope is not a major priority.   I don't think it is unsound to treat others with kindness and charity.  My only current outlet right now for the only part of me that isn't badly damaged (my singing voice) happens to be the church choir.  There are secular groups but they are more demanding of time than I am able to handle.  My only way to serve my community is through my church because I lack the energy to become involved with other groups.  Who knows, some day if I get healthier I can be more introspective on this but this is definitely not the right time for me.

Lori, once again I appreciate your honesty in this regard but why would you want to hang out with a bunch of people who don't support your views (namely regarding the bible, etc) - unless of course you are engaged in debate with them. Are you? Obviously, there is nothing wrong with singing in a choir but there are many choirs. Have you tried Meetups.com? Networking with friends to put together your own choir? Myspace? Bandmix.com?

Now, regarding being kind to people, you don't need religion for that! Nor do you need the bible or any other man concocted 'holy-book' (of which you already alluded to). As one of my favorite authors once said,

"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it." Christopher Hitchens
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 17, 2013, 11:22:28 AM
Instead of letting bad religious practices dictate my belief I have been defining God on my own terms and it has worked so much better for me. 

Yep.  It all becomes a LOT easier when you make it up as you go along.

Isn't it always funny how those people who go seeking their own god always find out that god neatly mirrors their own feelings and morality?  You seldom hear of anyone say "so I went seeking the REAL god and found that it wants all these things that I think are terrible - I'm really unhappy now because I've discovered god, and it's SO not what I think is right."
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 17, 2013, 11:34:30 AM
Perhaps I am guilty of intellectual laziness.  Or maybe I am overwhelmed with other issues in my life at this point that putting my faith under a microscope is not a major priority.   I don't think it is unsound to treat others with kindness and charity.  My only current outlet right now for the only part of me that isn't badly damaged (my singing voice) happens to be the church choir.  There are secular groups but they are more demanding of time than I am able to handle.  My only way to serve my community is through my church because I lack the energy to become involved with other groups.  Who knows, some day if I get healthier I can be more introspective on this but this is definitely not the right time for me.

Lori, once again I appreciate your honesty in this regard but why would you want to hang out with a bunch of people who don't support your views (namely regarding the bible, etc) - unless of course you are engaged in debate with them. Are you? Obviously, there is nothing wrong with singing in a choir but there are many choirs. Have you tried Meetups.com? Networking with friends to put together your own choir? Myspace? Bandmix.com?

Now, regarding being kind to people, you don't need religion for that! Nor do you need the bible or any other man concocted 'holy-book' (of which you already alluded to). As one of my favorite authors once said,

"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it." Christopher Hitchens
I am trying to avoid going into detail about my personal issues but I am not able to deal with networking, meeting new people, anything which requires a lot of effort or energy right now. The choirs in my area that are not affiliated with churches are more intense than I have stamina for.  I don't hang on this forum for support on religious views obviously.  But as for as secular views I seem to have a lot more in common people on this forum.  I tried Christian forums but the ones I found were too lovey-dovey for my taste.  I never meant to imply religion is needed to be kind to people.  My life has basically fallen apart recently.  To leave my church would be to leave the only human contact I get (except my son & long distance bf)  other than my uncaring medical professionals and bill collectors.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 17, 2013, 11:41:05 AM
median,
     Thanks for all the discussion - I think I will drop this argument for now.  Just a couple of comments: I don't think that an analogy has to perfectly parallel the situation that it is describing; if it did, there wouldn't be much point in using the analogy.  The point I was trying to get at was that even though in the marriage example I could take the stranger home and introduce him to my wife, I wouldn't be required to give up my belief that I am married during the 30 minute trip home - at the same time, the stranger wouldn't be rationally required to believe me during that time either.  In terms of the comparison between my relationship with my wife and my relationship with Christ, I consider both to belong to the class of personal agents.  I think that this is where we lack any common ground, and without coming to an agreement on whether a physical body is a necessary requirement for a personal agent to exist, I suppose there is not much point in continuing this argument.  I really appreciated all the time you took to reply to my posts.
             G&W

Likewise, but I'm still curious why you would believe that your comparison is valid, when all of the available evidence for 'relationships' is physical. If you have something which you claim is "a non-communicable relationship" (and thus non-demonstrable) what makes you think it's real? Record yourself making this argument and play it back. It sounds fundamentally no different (whatsoever) from a child/kid who claims to have an invisible friend.

As pertaining to your comment regarding personal agency, all of our available evidence displays that minds are the properties of physical brains. Put simply, when changes to the physical brain are made, changes to the person are made concurrently. Why would you think otherwise? Dualistic arguments have continually failed to show any necessity (or even a coherent definition) of "non-physical persons", and they ultimately boil down the argument from ignorance fallacy. "I can't understand X phenomena. Therefore, it must be 'non-physical.'" Yes, I've read J.P. Moreland's Body & Soul, his Scaling the Secular City, and many others on these topics but none of them is convincing. It always boils down to, "Well, this argument sounds intuitive. So I'll just go with that b/c I want to keep believing what the bible says." That's not convincing to me, and I really don't see why it would be convincing to anyone. So why are you convinced that there is anything "spiritual" or "immaterial" at all?

Btw, just in case your wondering, no, I don't think numbers, mathematical constants, or the logical absolutes exist as "things" in themselves.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Jag on May 17, 2013, 11:43:30 AM
That's the same thing that happened to me when I decided to give up atheism and return to belief. 
Belief doesn't work that way - if you "gave up atheism and returned to belief" you always believed anyway. You just didn't like what you were being told to believe.

Quote
Instead of letting bad religious practices dictate my belief I have been defining God on my own terms and it has worked so much better for me. 
Well, if you think about that statement for a minute, you'll see why - you're making choices about what you want to follow and rejecting what you don't. Provided you aren't harming others, there's not much wrong with this approach. If you choose to assign your belief in your own strengths and abilities to an external ambiguous entity, the only person being shortchanged is you, and I still contend that's the only real harm being done by your beliefs. I think you are shortchanging yourself.

Quote
I understand how all of us believe what we believe. 
There's a lot of evidence that this statement isn't true...

Quote
I think if God is truly defined as Loving and followers displayed that Love it wouldn't be so hard for people to believe w/o seeing God in person.  It is a contradiction to say God Loves You but if you don't believe I'm going to fry you in a fiery hell for eternity. 

The bolded part is certainly true.

Quote
I just don't believe God is so unrelenting. 
Good for you. There's lots of evidence that you are wrong, but go ahead and make it up as you go along. The belief system (since you get so bent about it being called a religion) you appear to be creating seems mostly harmless.

Quote
If you go by the Bible, Jesus teaches us that God's love for us is more perfect than the human form of love.  By that definition God would not condemn non believers to hell, because I wouldn't and God's love is way bigger than mine.  I believe there are consequences but I believe them to be perfectly fair because they come from a source of perfect wisdom.

I'd like a copy of the bible you read that led you to this conclusion.

Quote
I believe in God not religion.

Doesn't make it any less SPAG.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Jag on May 17, 2013, 11:47:40 AM
LoriPinkAngel, I'm sorry to hear that you are having a tough time. Let us know if there's anything we can do to help.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: LoriPinkAngel on May 17, 2013, 11:49:14 AM

Doesn't make it any less SPAG.
When it comes right down to it I guess my beliefs are really just SPAG.  But right now with my mental and physical health so fragile I have to deal with them before trashing my whole belief system.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: One Above All on May 17, 2013, 11:53:44 AM
That's the same thing that happened to me when I decided to give up atheism and return to belief. 
Belief doesn't work that way - if you "gave up atheism and returned to belief" you always believed anyway. You just didn't like what you were being told to believe.

While I agree that belief does not work that way (in the sense that one can't "decide" to give up on a belief or lack thereof), I don't think just because you went back to belief that you were never really an atheist. That's like saying that, because you're an atheist, you were never really a theist.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 17, 2013, 12:01:19 PM
How much evidence does it take to induce belief in an extraordinary claim?

That would depend entirely on the claim.

Yes, I never said that the function of non-communicable evidence was to convince another person to believe. 

And now we discover, quite precisely, where you have faltered. There is no such thing as 'non-communicable evidence'. That is a contradiction in terms. Evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others. So, someone claiming to have "personal evidence" of being abducted by aliens (or in your case having a "non-communicable relationship with an invisible deity") isn't speaking correctly. They don't have evidence (just like you don't). They have a CLAIM! That is all. And until that claim is backed up with some evidence, there is no reason to take the claim seriously.

"I saw Santa Claus, but I can't communicate it to you!" Sorry, I call bullshit. This is the same tactic that I hear nearly every religion on the planet trying (in different forms) - be it friends of mine or acquaintances etc. It's the whole, "Oh, I can't explain Krishna [or whatever deity] to you. You just have to experience it for yourself. You can 'feel' it." Can you say "Mormon!" This is just credulity. Plain and simple. It's the feeble attempt to hide away, and protect, your "faith" from any and all scrutinization and/or falsification.

What hubris!
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 17, 2013, 12:17:09 PM
That's the same thing that happened to me when I decided to give up atheism and return to belief. 

So did you 'give up' not believing in Santa Claus too then? Atheism is not a belief. It is a LACK OF BELIEF. So basically, what you just admitted was that you decided to jump to a conclusion that tickled your ears because you couldn't stand not knowing. Put simply, you engaged in credulity.

Instead of letting bad religious practices dictate my belief I have been defining God on my own terms and it has worked so much better for me. 

Of course! This is what every religious person does. Make up your own version of your assumed religion so that it conforms to your life preferences and not the other way around. This is why there isn't just one Christianity. There are only Christianies (pl.). You people are just making it up as you go along - picking and choosing which parts to take literally, which parts to consider figurative, and which parts to ignore.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 17, 2013, 01:06:45 PM
Belief doesn't work that way - if you "gave up atheism and returned to belief" you always believed anyway. You just didn't like what you were being told to believe.

While I agree that belief does not work that way (in the sense that one can't "decide" to give up on a belief or lack thereof), I don't think just because you went back to belief that you were never really an atheist. That's like saying that, because you're an atheist, you were never really a theist.
I agree with One Above All on this; it seems incorrect to claim that it is not possible to go from a state of lack of belief to a state of belief.  At least that's the way I'm reading Jag's statement.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 17, 2013, 03:27:53 PM

Doesn't make it any less SPAG.
When it comes right down to it I guess my beliefs are really just SPAG.  But right now with my mental and physical health so fragile I have to deal with them before trashing my whole belief system.

It upsets me to hear that you are having such troubles. And it reminds me that we need to keep fighting for universal health care. You would not be worrying about medical bills (on top of being sick) if you lived in Canada or Germany. >:(
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 18, 2013, 12:26:06 AM
Atheism is not a belief. It is a LACK OF BELIEF.

As far as I know my parent's cat has a 'lack of belief' in God - does that make him an atheist?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 18, 2013, 12:31:43 AM
How much evidence does it take to induce belief in an extraordinary claim?

That would depend entirely on the claim.

Do you just need a certain amount of ordinary evidence to establish belief in an extraordinary claim or do you need a piece of 'extraordinary' evidence?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 18, 2013, 12:38:44 AM
There is no such thing as 'non-communicable evidence'. That is a contradiction in terms. Evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others.

I have a couple of questions:
1. Are you considering 'non-communicable evidence' to be synonymous with personal experience?
2. You made a statement about the 'nature and definition' of evidence - were you thinking of any particular definition in an online dictionary or philosophy glossary? If so, could you point me to it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 18, 2013, 12:47:10 AM

As far as I know my parent's cat has a 'lack of belief' in God - does that make him an atheist?

Is this their cat?

(http://i363.photobucket.com/albums/oo79/penno73/acat_zps1b1d1b9d.jpg)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 18, 2013, 02:25:33 AM
Atheism is not a belief. It is a LACK OF BELIEF.

As far as I know my parent's cat has a 'lack of belief' in God - does that make him an atheist?

Just like the lack of evidence for your alleged deity, there is also a lack of evidence that cats (or any other lower mammal for that manner) have "beliefs". Thus, your question is nonsense.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 18, 2013, 02:27:57 AM
How much evidence does it take to induce belief in an extraordinary claim?

That would depend entirely on the claim.

Do you just need a certain amount of ordinary evidence to establish belief in an extraordinary claim or do you need a piece of 'extraordinary' evidence?

Again, it depends upon the claim. You apologists seem to have a very low standard of evidence when it comes to the one particular religion you were raised to accept, but a high standard for all other claims to the supernatural. Why is that?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 18, 2013, 03:01:25 AM
There is no such thing as 'non-communicable evidence'. That is a contradiction in terms. Evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others.

I have a couple of questions:
1. Are you considering 'non-communicable evidence' to be synonymous with personal experience?
2. You made a statement about the 'nature and definition' of evidence - were you thinking of any particular definition in an online dictionary or philosophy glossary? If so, could you point me to it?

1. I'm not considering/"assuming" anything. I'm merely pointing out that your assertion regarding "non-communicable evidence" is self-contradictory (and specifically the way in which you are using that term). Call it personal experience or whatever you want to. It still isn't evidence. "Hey! I have non-communicable evidence of my invisible friend Fred! He is real! Do you believe me?"

It doesn't seem you are being very critical of your assertion and/or interpretation of said "experience".

2. No actually, I wasn't. But I suppose it doesn't really matter b/c if I presented a definition of evidence, and then you attempted to spin that definition (so as to make it fit in with your assumption of 'non-communicable evidence') I simply wouldn't buy the BS. For one, b/c that kind of spin tactic is inconsistent with daily life (and what we would accept as evidence with, say, a salesman at the door - i.e. ordinary requirement), and two b/c the tactic is dishonest. It stems from the derivative primary of the fallacy of moving the goal post (and at that, playing word games). And no amount of definition shifting is going to do the job.

Besides that, we haven't been given any good reason for thinking that you actually have "evidence" that, as it just so happens, you just can't communicate to anyone else. All we have is your saying so. But that doesn't make it so.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 18, 2013, 03:07:09 AM
Your faith that what God is doing is right and just, albeit beyond your understanding, is identical to agreement with what God is doing.

I don't see that it is, or certainly not in every situation. I don’t think it’s worth debating, though – bottom line is that I do believe that God is just, and is loving. Our concept of love and justice is flawed.


Here though, it sounds to me more like you're worming out of it with yourself.  Having faith that Hell is a good thing, versus feeling/believing that it is a good thing...could you explain the difference?

As I've already stated, hell is in no way a good thing. The struggle you correctly sense is to do with the need for it's existence - my inability to understand God's perfect nature, and God's inability to allow any wrong-doing go unpunished, how Jesus' death makes it possible for us to avoid that punishment. I don't pretend to fully understand these things. But - I am willing to accept those things are true because I do understand them on a certain level, and my faith that it is God who created mankind is very strong.


EDIT:  You specifically asked me to clarify something, and I didn't.  What I mean by "we should be amoral, then" is that what I read in your last comment of that post was you saying that humans like to be the ones to "point fingers" (ie. make moral judgments) and should not. 

We do like to point out wrongdoing, and injustice, and we do have a tendency to overlook our own wrongdoing in the process. It doesn't mean we shouldn't seek out try to deal with wrong-doing, but we don't always do it very well.


This interpretation is reinforced by your reliance, in the rest of the post, on the idea that human moral judgments of the universe, are
foolish/unjustified. 

You must have mis-understood me or I didn't express myself clearly, because I don't think that. See above. Moral judgements on God, on the other hand, are certainly foolish and unjustified. But...understandable.


Should that person be in hell?  No moral judgment, just leave it to God! 

How would you decide? Hypothetically? If you had that power?



Should that person be in jail?  No moral judgment, just leave it to God!


I don't believe that.


 Err...that's amoral.  It's also reinforced by the Bible, given what YHWH, in the Garden of Eden story, wanted from humans.  He didn't want humans to be moral agents.  Adam and Eve became ones anyway, an unforgivable crime for which we are supposedly still paying.  Morality is a sin.

Morality isn't a sin. It's true we are born with a sinful nature, and it's nigh on impossible for us to understand why we suffer for something we're born into. But we also can't deny that we have free will[1], and that we choose to do wrong.

I'll be honest...the garden of eden story is a real mind-bender for me. I'll discuss it more when I respond to Screwtape (but that won't be for a while, probably)
 1. once we step outside the philosophy classroom and into the real world
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 18, 2013, 03:28:39 AM
But we also can't deny that we have free will[1], and that we choose to do wrong.
 1. once we step outside the philosophy classroom and into the real world

I do.  I deny it based on causality and physical laws, and hence any salvation/punishment based on free will is automatically unjust from my perspective.  But I don't want to get into that here - there's plenty of threads where I have already bored people quite enough on that subject!   ;D   Just wanted to point out that "free will" is NOT an automatic - I'm certainly not alone in thinking it does not exist.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 18, 2013, 03:34:59 AM
1. Are you considering 'non-communicable evidence' to be synonymous with personal experience?

1. I'm not considering/"assuming" anything. I'm merely pointing out that your assertion regarding "non-communicable evidence" is self-contradictory (and specifically the way in which you are using that term). Call it personal experience or whatever you want to. It still isn't evidence. "Hey! I have non-communicable evidence of my invisible friend Fred! He is real! Do you believe me?"

It doesn't seem you are being very critical of your assertion and/or interpretation of said "experience".

I'm sort of with G&W that it is acceptable as evidence - but ONLY to the person experiencing it.  It adds to their understanding of the world, so it counts as evidence to them.  If I was the only person in the world to see that for two seconds it stopped raining in a crescent shape in my garden, I still have that uncommunicable experience to add to my picture of the world.

What the problem of course is, is that if that evidence is uncommunicable except from my say-so, then it has no relevance as evidence to anyone else.  As Median says, those who accept personal experience are extremely uncritical of those experiences.  They also seem usually unable to accept that if their experience has no evidential value to anyone else, then any other non-evidential experience can be judged no more and no less relevant to a third party than theirs is: there is simply no way for the third party to differentiate between the two claims, and so must either accept both, or (more usually, since they tend to be mutually exclusive) to reject both.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on May 18, 2013, 04:38:49 AM
I'm sort of with G&W that it is acceptable as evidence - but ONLY to the person experiencing it.  It adds to their understanding of the world, so it counts as evidence to them.  If I was the only person in the world to see that for two seconds it stopped raining in a crescent shape in my garden, I still have that uncommunicable experience to add to my picture of the world.

<snip>
If you saw the rain stop raining in a crescent shape, it would also be recordable by a camcorder of sorts and demonstrated to others.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 18, 2013, 04:43:54 AM

As far as I know my parent's cat has a 'lack of belief' in God - does that make him an atheist?

Is this their cat? <snip>
 
Shouldn't that be.
(http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/68/acatzps1b1d1b9d.jpg)
The cat is an Acanis cat.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: naemhni on May 18, 2013, 06:01:36 AM
As far as I know my parent's cat has a 'lack of belief' in God - does that make him an atheist?

Atheism is "lack of belief" in deities, so strictly speaking, yes, your parents' cat is an atheist.  However, to apply a belief-based term to an entity not capable of beliefs is rather silly, and it's definitely not useful in any way.  It's rather like pointing out that rocks and chairs have no opinions either way about same-sex marriage.  True, strictly speaking, but also a ridiculous and pointless observation.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 18, 2013, 07:27:13 AM
Instead of letting bad religious practices dictate my belief I have been defining God on my own terms and it has worked so much better for me. 

Yep.  It all becomes a LOT easier when you make it up as you go along.

Isn't it always funny how those people who go seeking their own god always find out that god neatly mirrors their own feelings and morality?  You seldom hear of anyone say "so I went seeking the REAL god and found that it wants all these things that I think are terrible - I'm really unhappy now because I've discovered god, and it's SO not what I think is right."

So it's either don't believe or be a Christian or something with a title.

Thanks Tonus for being insightful.

I appreciate you making me think here Anf.  I can only speak for myself here.  I haven't in a literal way found God.  I found belief in God.  I feel God's Love.  That's why I define God as Loving, so I try to be Loving as well. 

I know you want to know how I feel loved by God.  It's because I am so thankful for my life even the bad stuff.  It's like the good stuff makes it worth all the effort.  I don't look at my challenges as God is picking on me.  I used too; was so angry at God.  It wasn't until I learned to trust that I was able to feel His love.  The reason I trust God is because I believe God is Loving.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on May 18, 2013, 07:50:11 AM
So it's either don't believe or be a Christian or something with a title.

Thanks Tonus for being insightful.

I appreciate you making me think here Anf.  I can only speak for myself here.  I haven't in a literal way found God.  I found belief in God.  I feel God's Love.  That's why I define God as Loving, so I try to be Loving as well. 

I know you want to know how I feel loved by God.  It's because I am so thankful for my life even the bad stuff.  It's like the good stuff makes it worth all the effort.  I don't look at my challenges as God is picking on me.  I used too; was so angry at God.  It wasn't until I learned to trust that I was able to feel His love.  The reason I trust God is because I believe God is Loving.
You stated in your post that you made it up (or in your own words "defining god on my own terms"). I dont know how many times I have pointed this out to you. The rest of the post I am having difficulty following. If you havent "literally" found god then your belief is in something that literally doesnt exist. If youre simply trying to describe "love" we have a word for that, its called "love". How you being thankful for existence suggests "love" is a god is nonsensical. And how could you be angry at "love"?

Why did you make god a man in your religion?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: neopagan on May 18, 2013, 08:18:54 AM
as one having recently been in the theist camp for many, many years, I can say i used to believe/say nothing would ever ever make me change my mind or convnnce me god wasn't the everything I needed.

What i know now is I held that belief only because I had never looked outside my narrowly constructed box of religious thought and curiosity. Testing the scriptures meant reading more of them, more commentaries, and more apologetics or criticisms of "false" religions. It was a giant circle jerk. Any doubts I had were either dismissed or covered over with "thats just gods way" nonsense.

Now... to move me back, I would have to see direct, unambiguous proof of a deity intervening - maybe showing up for all to see and doing something impossible.  Would that cause me to worship that thing? No, why would it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 18, 2013, 08:20:15 AM
[quote auth or=Jag link=topic=24803.msg554603#msg554603 date=1368809010]

Doesn't make it any less SPAG.
Quote
When it comes right down to it I guess my beliefs are really just SPAG.  But right now with my mental and physical health so fragile I have to deal with them before trashing my whole belief system.

Yea that's what they call it.  Catchy don't ya think?   ;D 

If God was a projection of me we'd be in trouble.  ;)

Hope you feel better.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 18, 2013, 08:55:52 AM
Quote from: junebug72
If God was a projection of me we'd be in trouble.  ;)
As nobody here believes in your version of god, then the only person in trouble would be you.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 18, 2013, 10:23:19 AM

I'm sort of with G&W that it is acceptable as evidence - but ONLY to the person experiencing it.  It adds to their understanding of the world, so it counts as evidence to them.  If I was the only person in the world to see that for two seconds it stopped raining in a crescent shape in my garden, I still have that uncommunicable experience to add to my picture of the world.

What the problem of course is, is that if that evidence is uncommunicable except from my say-so, then it has no relevance as evidence to anyone else.  As Median says, those who accept personal experience are extremely uncritical of those experiences.  They also seem usually unable to accept that if their experience has no evidential value to anyone else, then any other non-evidential experience can be judged no more and no less relevant to a third party than theirs is: there is simply no way for the third party to differentiate between the two claims, and so must either accept both, or (more usually, since they tend to be mutually exclusive) to reject both.

This depiction of "evidence" (which attempts to widen the circle) creates exactly the kind of problem I alluded to in previous posts. It opens the door for any quack lunatic to call his personal experience "evidence". I reject that line of thinking. Evidence does not include wholly personal events and cannot. "It's evidence to me!" is not evidence. Evidence is demonstrable. Plain and simple. If someone claims to have witnessed an extraordinary event (in their garden, etc), but they were the only one around (i.e. - no confirmation), then they don't have evidence. They have a claim. And that claim needs to be backed by that which is demonstrable (i.e. - Did the UFO leave notable marks in the garden? Did they get a picture of the alien craft?).

Even if there were numerous people at a particular claimed event (i.e. - an alleged 'faith healing', etc), if none of those people can demonstrate their claim (in some demonstrable form), then they don't have evidence. Again, they just have a claim. If a patient at a hospital claims to have an extraordinary medical condition that is supposedly "non-communicable", would we accept his assertion by claim alone? Should HE accept his own assertion without having critically investigated the situation (i.e. - via others who may disagree, etc)? This whole "non-communicable" evidence mumbo-jumbo is just a sham. It's just a way to open the door for quackery, exaggerated internal misapprehension, self-deception, and lying.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 18, 2013, 10:28:07 AM

Belief doesn't work that way - if you "gave up atheism and returned to belief" you always believed anyway. You just didn't like what you were being told to believe.

You certainly have the right to your opinion.

Quote
Well, if you think about that statement for a minute, you'll see why - you're making choices about what you want to follow and rejecting what you don't. Provided you aren't harming others, there's not much wrong with this approach. If you choose to assign your belief in your own strengths and abilities to an external ambiguous entity, the only person being shortchanged is you, and I still contend that's the only real harm being done by your beliefs. I think you are shortchanging yourself.

I know Jag you've told me before.


Quote
I think if God is truly defined as Loving and followers displayed that Love it wouldn't be so hard for people to believe w/o seeing God in person.  It is a contradiction to say God Loves You but if you don't believe I'm going to fry you in a fiery hell for eternity. 

The bolded part is certainly true.

Quote
Good for you. There's lots of evidence that you are wrong, but go ahead and make it up as you go along. The belief system (since you get so bent about it being called a religion) you appear to be creating seems mostly harmless.

Thank you.

Quote
I'd like a copy of the bible you read that led you to this conclusion.

KJV, Scofield Edition 1982, Luke 11:11-13, the conclusion is my interpretation of what I read.  That is the point that I actually started to believe God Loves me despite my homosexuality, because my father did.

Happy belated Mother's Day to all the Mom's on the forum.



Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: junebug72 on May 18, 2013, 10:45:08 AM
Quote from: junebug72
If God was a projection of me we'd be in trouble.  ;)
As nobody here believes in your version of god, then the only person in trouble would be you.

I was just trying to make PinkAngel smile.  Hopefully your joke does as well. ;D 

That's deep when you think about it.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: neopagan on May 18, 2013, 11:06:58 AM
I think we are always happiest with the gods we create ourselves - they are so much like us and follow all our rules - we can always twist them into pretzels to serve our theology/soteriology/eschatology, etc. 

I can appreciate believers for their ability to follow such a god(s) - I mean I did for years too.  I don't think that necessarily makes it rational, but the brand of theists I hung around (fundamentalists) generally cared little about rationalizing anything - it was just jeezus and me when it all came down to it.  I just realized the circle jerk mentality got me nowhere...



Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 19, 2013, 02:16:36 AM
     Dualistic arguments have continually failed to show any necessity (or even a coherent definition) of "non-physical persons", and they ultimately boil down the argument from ignorance fallacy. "I can't understand X phenomena. Therefore, it must be 'non-physical.'" Yes, I've read J.P. Moreland's Body & Soul, his Scaling the Secular City, and many others on these topics but none of them is convincing. It always boils down to, "Well, this argument sounds intuitive. So I'll just go with that b/c I want to keep believing what the bible says." That's not convincing to me, and I really don't see why it would be convincing to anyone. So why are you convinced that there is anything "spiritual" or "immaterial" at all?

          I have not actually read any of J.P. Moreland’s books, so perhaps you could summarize one of his arguments instead of just summarizing your generic rationale for rejecting all of his arguments.  At any rate, your statement that all dualistic arguments boil down to “I can’t understand X phenomena; therefore, it must be ‘non-physical’” seems false.  How does that kind of rationale apply to dualistic arguments based on Leibniz’s Law of Identity?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 19, 2013, 02:19:20 AM
Atheism is not a belief. It is a LACK OF BELIEF.

As far as I know my parent's cat has a 'lack of belief' in God - does that make him an atheist?

Just like the lack of evidence for your alleged deity, there is also a lack of evidence that cats (or any other lower mammal for that manner) have "beliefs". Thus, your question is nonsense.

     I don’t think my question is any more nonsensical than is your characterization of atheists.  The atheists that I know personally don’t exhibit a ‘lack of belief’, and I certainly don’t think that the members of this forum whom I have been in contact with exhibit a ‘lack of belief’ either.  Are you going to tell me that you ‘lack belief’ about the potential truthfulness of the following statement: “the Christian God does not exist”?  You make a positive assertion when you say that ‘God does not exist’ – an assertion I am presuming you believe to be true.  Consider the following characterizations of ‘atheism’:
1. http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/ - (1. What is Atheism) “It has come to be widely accepted that to be an atheist is to affirm the non-existence of God.”
2. http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/a9.htm#athe – Atheism: “Belief that god does not exist. Unlike the agnostic, who merely criticizes traditional arguments for the existence of a deity”
3. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism - “Unlike AGNOSTICISM, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial”

     I find it interesting that belief has such a bad rap on this forum because it doesn’t seem to me that it is belief per se that atheist’s object to – it is belief without adequate justification that is objected to.  In my brief time here I don’t get the sense that I am being criticized for ‘believing’; but rather, I am being criticized for believing something that you feel doesn’t have any supporting evidence.  As such there shouldn’t be any shame in holding a belief in something for which you feel you have adequate supporting evidence; as a matter of fact, unless we are dealing with a field such as mathematics, belief will be an inevitable consequence when forming a world view. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 19, 2013, 02:20:56 AM
     Again, it depends upon the claim. You apologists seem to have a very low standard of evidence when it comes to the one particular religion you were raised to accept, but a high standard for all other claims to the supernatural. Why is that?

     I don’t hold other religions to a higher standard of evidence than my own.  My attempted defense of religious experience as a sort of ‘non-communicable’ evidence was not meant to be used to convert members of other religions – I was attempting to use it as personal justification to believe if I were at a point of evidential indifference (that is why I said in my original post “if I had to give up all the normal theistic arguments…”; I was trying to isolate personal experience to see what kind of introspective evidential merit it has).  If I was to debate a Muslim, for instance, I would grant him his personal experiential evidence in addition to the evidential merit of the various generic theistic arguments. I would attempt to persuade him to become a Christian by examining the life, ministry, and claims of Christ – e.g. which book paints the correct picture of the person of Christ - the Bible or the Qur’an? In the context of such a debate I don’t see how I am requiring him to meet higher evidential standards than I demand of myself – we would both attempt to appeal to similar kinds of evidence.
     I am wondering what exactly you mean by a ‘low standard of evidence’ – either something is evidence for the question at hand or it isn’t.  The admissibility criteria for evidence says nothing of the potential weight that some piece of evidence might have – for instance, one could have a legitimate piece of evidence that only provides 1% evidential merit over indifference.  One must then transfer the evidential merit of a piece of legitimate evidence into degrees of belief, but this is a process that governed by a person’s background assumptions and experience.  As an example, I could show two people an accurate statistic that gives them a 99% chance of surviving a sky diving episode; the first person might ‘jump’ at the opportunity to skydive whereas the second person would never be caught dead getting into the plane – the exact same piece of evidence; two very different degrees of belief.  The difference in their actions is a result of personality, personal experiences, and background assumptions, not their standards for admitting and weighing evidence. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 19, 2013, 02:23:37 AM
     I'm merely pointing out that your assertion regarding "non-communicable evidence" is self-contradictory (and specifically the way in which you are using that term). Call it personal experience or whatever you want to. It still isn't evidence.

     I said that I would drop my ‘personal experience as evidence for God’s existence argument’ – for now; however, I find it objectionable that you have now used my retreat as an opportunity to state that there is no such thing as ‘non-communicable’ evidence – that I certainly did not acquiesce to.  You said in post #267: “there is no such thing as 'non-communicable evidence'. That is a contradiction in terms. Evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others”.  I asked you in post #273 if you were thinking of any particular definition in an online dictionary or philosophy glossary and you have now responded with: “no actually, I wasn’t”.  Essentially you are admitting that this is just your own opinion, which is ironic given your repeated statements that I have no evidence for what I believe.  Now when I ask you to back up one of your assertions you refuse to? 
     If you check out this article on introspection at http://www.iep.utm.edu/evidence/ you will find anything but a categorical denial of the admissibility of personal experience as evidence.  Personal experience (e.g. non-communicable evidence) may have its detractors, but there certainly are many philosophers who support its use as evidence.  Consider the case of a patient who goes to a doctor and states that the searing pain in his lower back constitutes evidence that pain killers are required.  How exactly is the patient to communicate his subjective pain experience to the physician?  The patient can certainly communicate about his experience: he can say where he feels it, how much it hurts, when it started, and how it is affecting his quality of life.  The doctor could even do an MRI and find that a certain part of his brain is more active than normal, but this certainly is not the same thing as actually communicating the experience.  To do that the patient would have to transmit his subjective experience to the doctor’s consciousness.  As Amy Kind writes in her article on introspection: “it makes no sense to demand evidence for an experience. Indeed, how can I give evidence for a pain in my lower back?”
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: naemhni on May 19, 2013, 08:11:44 AM
     I don’t think my question is any more nonsensical than is your characterization of atheists.  The atheists that I know personally don’t exhibit a ‘lack of belief’, and I certainly don’t think that the members of this forum whom I have been in contact with exhibit a ‘lack of belief’ either.  Are you going to tell me that you ‘lack belief’ about the potential truthfulness of the following statement: “the Christian God does not exist”?  You make a positive assertion when you say that ‘God does not exist’ – an assertion I am presuming you believe to be true.

This is a very common misconception, one that atheists have been having to work very hard to correct.  Part of the problem is that believers are highly resistant to being enlightened regarding this matter.  Very often, if you try to tell a believer that you're an atheist, and you try to explain your views, the believer will insist, sometimes vehemently, that you are not actually an atheist.  It's infuriating.

Most atheists do not, in fact, say that god does not exist.

Quote
Consider the following characterizations of ‘atheism’:
1. http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/ - (1. What is Atheism) “It has come to be widely accepted that to be an atheist is to affirm the non-existence of God.”
2. http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/a9.htm#athe – Atheism: “Belief that god does not exist. Unlike the agnostic, who merely criticizes traditional arguments for the existence of a deity”
3. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism - “Unlike AGNOSTICISM, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial”

You need to be careful about using dictionary definitions, especially when it comes to contention areas such as this one.  It wasn't so long ago, for example, that if you looked up "atheist" in a dictionary, one of the definitions you would find is "an evil person".  This has only been corrected very recently; I remember seeing current-edition dictionaries listing this definition as recently as the mid to late 80s or so.  That definition is still listed in Merriam-Webster, in fact, although they do have it listed as "archaic".  (By the way, Merriam-Webster is owned and published by the Christian Science church.  For some enlightenment in this area, try looking up their definitions of words such as "God" and "Christ".)

Relatedly, two of the three definitions you give above attempt to make a differentiation between "atheism" and "agnosticism", when the two actually have nothing to do with each other.  Atheism is about belief, agnosticism is about knowledge.  Most atheists, in fact, self-identify as agnostics -- specifically, agnostic atheists.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: JeffPT on May 19, 2013, 10:49:09 AM
The atheists that I know personally don’t exhibit a ‘lack of belief’, and I certainly don’t think that the members of this forum whom I have been in contact with exhibit a ‘lack of belief’ either.  Are you going to tell me that you ‘lack belief’ about the potential truthfulness of the following statement: “the Christian God does not exist”?  You make a positive assertion when you say that ‘God does not exist’ – an assertion I am presuming you believe to be true. 
You can't assert that something doesn't exist until someone asserts that it does.  We don't have words to label the people that assert that things for which nobody asserts exist, don't exist.  If Christians weren't going around saying God exists, we wouldn't have to spend so much time adamantly telling them how wrong they are. 

I don't believe in any gods at this time.  That includes the Christian God, Zeus, Thor, Odin, and all of them.  What is your personal position on Zeus?  Do you lack belief in Zeus?  Are you going to assert that "Zeus does not exist"... an assertion I am going to presume you believe to be true?  If you were living in a country where people were worshiping Zeus freely, and there were Zeus churches on every corner, and where believing in Zeus was the norm, how would you approach them when they asserted to you that Zeus was real?  The reason you can safely just sit in your house and 'lack belief' in Zeus is because nobody is pushing that nonsense on you. If nobody was pushing Christian nonsense onto everyone, we could do the same thing. 

When you understand that we feel the same way about the Christian God that you probably do about Zeus, and you couple that with just how much Christianity affects our everyday life, you'll understand how we are forced to approach the situation G&W. 

 
I find it interesting that belief has such a bad rap on this forum because it doesn’t seem to me that it is belief per se that atheist’s object to – it is belief without adequate justification that is objected to. 
Many of us think belief in God is a bad thing and have a good reasons to think that way.  Belief without adequate justification just happens to be the actual situation. 

In my brief time here I don’t get the sense that I am being criticized for ‘believing’; but rather, I am being criticized for believing something that you feel doesn’t have any supporting evidence. 

Know why? Because you appear to be articulate and knowledgeable.  Which means you might... just might be susceptible to reasonable and logical arguments.  Your position doesn't have any real supporting evidence, and showing that to someone who seems capable of reasoning through it may be a successful tactic in freeing them from the delusion of religion. 

As such there shouldn’t be any shame in holding a belief in something for which you feel you have adequate supporting evidence; as a matter of fact, unless we are dealing with a field such as mathematics, belief will be an inevitable consequence when forming a world view.
If you have adequate supporting evidence, you should be able to present it to everyone.  If not, then you must consider that you don't actually have it, and that it's all in your head.  Once you've reached the position of neutrality on the subject, and you're now asking 'Is God real' instead of saying 'God is real', then you can freely look at the supporting evidence seriously. 

It is also important to look at what you consider adequate supporting evidence, and whether or not the evidence you consider adequate in terms of God belief would pass the test with any other position you might be weighing. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 19, 2013, 12:45:50 PM
     Dualistic arguments have continually failed to show any necessity (or even a coherent definition) of "non-physical persons", and they ultimately boil down the argument from ignorance fallacy. "I can't understand X phenomena. Therefore, it must be 'non-physical.'" Yes, I've read J.P. Moreland's Body & Soul, his Scaling the Secular City, and many others on these topics but none of them is convincing. It always boils down to, "Well, this argument sounds intuitive. So I'll just go with that b/c I want to keep believing what the bible says." That's not convincing to me, and I really don't see why it would be convincing to anyone. So why are you convinced that there is anything "spiritual" or "immaterial" at all?

          I have not actually read any of J.P. Moreland’s books, so perhaps you could summarize one of his arguments instead of just summarizing your generic rationale for rejecting all of his arguments.  At any rate, your statement that all dualistic arguments boil down to “I can’t understand X phenomena; therefore, it must be ‘non-physical’” seems false.  How does that kind of rationale apply to dualistic arguments based on Leibniz’s Law of Identity?

Why does it seem false? What about the indiscernability of identicals (as it may pertain to the ontological assertions of dualism) makes the fallacy of the argument from ignorance any less fallacious? Merely pointing to a difference between what we call brain and what we call mind doesn't justify any true ontological difference. It just demonstrates the perpetual credulous jumping-to-conclusion that is so often the case when one doesn't yet understand something (aka - "It doesn't seem any other way to me. Therefore, it must be a non-physical spirit/mind"). How unwarranted!

Regarding Moreland, he doesn't give any specifically new arguments for dualism. He just attempts to lengthen/expand them (and present sophisticated arguments from ignorance - aka "X is just impossible to me. So it must be non-physical mind"). It is just more credulity in a lab coat.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 19, 2013, 01:47:43 PM

     I don’t think my question is any more nonsensical than is your characterization of atheists.  The atheists that I know personally don’t exhibit a ‘lack of belief’, and I certainly don’t think that the members of this forum whom I have been in contact with exhibit a ‘lack of belief’ either.  Are you going to tell me that you ‘lack belief’ about the potential truthfulness of the following statement: “the Christian God does not exist”?  You make a positive assertion when you say that ‘God does not exist’ – an assertion I am presuming you believe to be true.  Consider the following characterizations of ‘atheism’:
1. http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/ (http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/) - (1. What is Atheism) “It has come to be widely accepted that to be an atheist is to affirm the non-existence of God.”
2. http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/a9.htm#athe (http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/a9.htm#athe) – Atheism: “Belief that god does not exist. Unlike the agnostic, who merely criticizes traditional arguments for the existence of a deity”
3. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism) - “Unlike AGNOSTICISM, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial”

You have presumed wrong, and are grievously mistaken once again - trying to tell me what my position is (instead of allowing me to tell you what it is). Would you like it if I did that to you? I DO NOT SAY - and have not said - "There is no god", for I could not know this. Thus, I have made no positive claim. Secondly, the statement, "There is no Christian God" is something entirely different, sir (and that it is indeed a position I hold) - but it does not speak to atheism! Far from it. So, your links to alleged definitions of what you think I SHOULD hold (an attempt to make your job easier and more palatable) are miserable failures. Sorry to disappoint you, but we are NOT on equal (positive claim) ground. Your claim is the positive one which bears the burden of proof.

     I find it interesting that belief has such a bad rap on this forum because it doesn’t seem to me that it is belief per se that atheist’s object to – it is belief without adequate justification that is objected to.  In my brief time here I don’t get the sense that I am being criticized for ‘believing’; but rather, I am being criticized for believing something that you feel doesn’t have any supporting evidence.  As such there shouldn’t be any shame in holding a belief in something for which you feel you have adequate supporting evidence; as a matter of fact, unless we are dealing with a field such as mathematics, belief will be an inevitable consequence when forming a world view.

Yet you've made another grievous error. There is no "I don't know" worldview. It is the utter desperation of the credulous to "form a worldview" out of the instinctual desire to have immediate answers to impending philosophical questions which often plague the mind. No, we do not "need to know" and the often wishful thinking that derives from the strong wanting to know is responsible for all kinds of disgusting actions which have their derivation in metaphysical leaps toward the mystical and superstitious.

To your first point, I cannot speak for others here but my thought is this. "Belief" (aka - faith) is both unnecessary and closely antonymous with a rational expectation based on evidence (for which we often have no other choice, and can be easily changed or altered when counter evidence is presented). Yes, I do think your faith in Christianity is unwarranted and I would say the same to a Muslim, regarding his religion, or a Mormon regarding his. As far as I'm concerned, neither of you have any better evidence than the other (and certainly nowhere near sufficient for accepting the atrocious claims of your respective religious texts). Why is your bar set so low, so as to accept your personal interpretation of your alleged non-communicable experience (which so easily can be misinterpreted via confirmation bias) without any additional strong supporting evidence? Wouldn't you require more than just this, not less?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 19, 2013, 11:26:09 PM
     Again, it depends upon the claim. You apologists seem to have a very low standard of evidence when it comes to the one particular religion you were raised to accept, but a high standard for all other claims to the supernatural. Why is that?

     I don’t hold other religions to a higher standard of evidence than my own.  My attempted defense of religious experience as a sort of ‘non-communicable’ evidence was not meant to be used to convert members of other religions – I was attempting to use it as personal justification to believe if I were at a point of evidential indifference (that is why I said in my original post “if I had to give up all the normal theistic arguments…”; I was trying to isolate personal experience to see what kind of introspective evidential merit it has).  If I was to debate a Muslim, for instance, I would grant him his personal experiential evidence in addition to the evidential merit of the various generic theistic arguments. I would attempt to persuade him to become a Christian by examining the life, ministry, and claims of Christ – e.g. which book paints the correct picture of the person of Christ - the Bible or the Qur’an? In the context of such a debate I don’t see how I am requiring him to meet higher evidential standards than I demand of myself – we would both attempt to appeal to similar kinds of evidence.
     I am wondering what exactly you mean by a ‘low standard of evidence’ – either something is evidence for the question at hand or it isn’t.  The admissibility criteria for evidence says nothing of the potential weight that some piece of evidence might have – for instance, one could have a legitimate piece of evidence that only provides 1% evidential merit over indifference.  One must then transfer the evidential merit of a piece of legitimate evidence into degrees of belief, but this is a process that governed by a person’s background assumptions and experience.  As an example, I could show two people an accurate statistic that gives them a 99% chance of surviving a sky diving episode; the first person might ‘jump’ at the opportunity to skydive whereas the second person would never be caught dead getting into the plane – the exact same piece of evidence; two very different degrees of belief.  The difference in their actions is a result of personality, personal experiences, and background assumptions, not their standards for admitting and weighing evidence.

If mere personal preference were the only standard by which one should judge a claim true or not (whether in regard to potential harm in skydiving or some alleged 'supernatural' experience) I might agree with you. But it's not. The analogy fails on multiple fronts. For one, because we actually have evidence (statistical, etc) for skydiving safety rates. We do NOT, however, have evidence for your alleged claim to some 'non-communicable' experience with a supernatural deity. In fact, we DO have multiple examples throughout history of lying men making up these claims in an effort to deceive people for their own ends - and to that effect we have ample examples of human frailty, misapprehension, credulity, mis-interpretation, and self deception/delusion when it comes to claims to the supernatural. Thus, we have a landfill of evidence against your claim to an alleged supernatural experience and no reason to think your attestation is a correct one (let alone different from any other).

Now, regarding this "introspective evidential merit" of which you speak - pertaining to personal experience of the alleged supernatural - I say you have a low standard of evidence pertaining to it (aka - you aren't being critical enough), especially when it comes to such an extraordinary claim as speaking/conversing/communicating with an alleged deity figure. Why do I say this? Well, the first reason I have already mentioned, as well as the second. We have ample evidence of men creating false religions and influencing people to be gullible, and we also have ample demonstrations of human credulity, misapprehension, pattern seeking, confirmation bias, and the like. What we DO NOT have is a demonstration of your extraordinary claims to supernatural communication. It's all smoke and mirrors! "Oh, I have this experience but I just can't talk to you about it." Do you even hear yourself? It's absurd, and quite looney sounding (which I know you must understand if you believe Paul in 2 Cor 4 but that begs the question).

However, there is another telling thing you mentioned here - namely that people's beliefs are influenced by background assumptions. Amen! And since you know this, what have you done about it? What critical precautions have you taken to ensure that you are not falling prey to self-deception and/or confirmation bias? Why are you not requiring MORE evidence than mere personal experience (which you interpret as supernatural)? Again, why is your standard of evidence this low - where you are simply going off of ONE all too often frail and mistaken avenue of fact finding? These are the signs of someone who doesn't really care whether or not his/her beliefs are actually true.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 19, 2013, 11:59:24 PM
     I said that I would drop my ‘personal experience as evidence for God’s existence argument’ – for now; however, I find it objectionable that you have now used my retreat as an opportunity to state that there is no such thing as ‘non-communicable’ evidence – that I certainly did not acquiesce to.  You said in post #267: “there is no such thing as 'non-communicable evidence'. That is a contradiction in terms. Evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others”.  I asked you in post #273 if you were thinking of any particular definition in an online dictionary or philosophy glossary and you have now responded with: “no actually, I wasn’t”.  Essentially you are admitting that this is just your own opinion, which is ironic given your repeated statements that I have no evidence for what I believe.  Now when I ask you to back up one of your assertions you refuse to? 

WOW. You completely missed what I wrote. Incredible. Please go back and read it again. You asked if I was thinking of any particular definition of evidence "in an online dictionary or philosophy glossary", and I said...NOPE. This does not, in any way, mean that I wasn't thinking of any definition, period! It's quite absurd that you would try to draw that conclusion but I can understand why you would. Do you think of dictionary/textbook definitions of every term you decide to use in a discussion?? I don't admit to anything except for the fact that you are practicing uncritical credulity when it comes to some alleged experience you think you had/are having (which is claimed by nearly all religions of the world). How is this any different from superstition?

Personally, I don't care if you have now retracted the personal experience argument and no longer intend to use it as evidence for the Yahweh brand deity. I want to know (and I'm sure many others here are curious) why you are buying this interpretation and 'non-communicable' argument when so much is at stake.


     If you check out this article on introspection at http://www.iep.utm.edu/evidence/ (http://www.iep.utm.edu/evidence/) you will find anything but a categorical denial of the admissibility of personal experience as evidence.  Personal experience (e.g. non-communicable evidence) may have its detractors, but there certainly are many philosophers who support its use as evidence.  Consider the case of a patient who goes to a doctor and states that the searing pain in his lower back constitutes evidence that pain killers are required.  How exactly is the patient to communicate his subjective pain experience to the physician?  The patient can certainly communicate about his experience: he can say where he feels it, how much it hurts, when it started, and how it is affecting his quality of life.  The doctor could even do an MRI and find that a certain part of his brain is more active than normal, but this certainly is not the same thing as actually communicating the experience.  To do that the patient would have to transmit his subjective experience to the doctor’s consciousness.  As Amy Kind writes in her article on introspection: “it makes no sense to demand evidence for an experience. Indeed, how can I give evidence for a pain in my lower back?”

Just b/c you post an article, doesn't mean I'm going to agree with it. And your motivation for doing so (in this regard) makes me question your willingness and ability to critically investigate facts pertaining to your alleged supernatural 'experience' in as disinterested a manor as possible.

As pertaining to your example of a patient, trying to communicate his pain to a doctor, this analogy fails ones again. Pain is demonstrable. Levels of pain are measurable (not to mention quite common and unextraordinary). This alleged supernatural non-communicable experience you are claiming as "evidence" is not like that at all - and really, if we applied it (straightway) to your analogy, using your methodology, we would have a pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming "pain" (without evidence) and asking for drugs (and getting them!). We have physical evidence of pain. We have clear causal links between injury and pain. But we DO NOT have anything like that when it comes to this thing you are trying to call "evidence". The patient who has pain is nothing like your alleged 'non-communicable' experience of some Yahweh thing. So the two are not parallel.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 20, 2013, 02:15:46 AM
     WOW. You completely missed what I wrote. Incredible. Please go back and read it again. You asked if I was thinking of any particular definition of evidence "in an online dictionary or philosophy glossary", and I said...NOPE. This does not, in any way, mean that I wasn't thinking of any definition, period!

     That's fine if you don't want to refer to the types of online sources that I suggested - there are other places to find reputable information on the nature and definition of 'evidence' though I don't think it is fair to expect me to give an exhaustive list in my question.  So I will ask you a THIRD time: find me a reputable source that backs up your claim that "evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others". 

Just b/c you post an article, doesn't mean I'm going to agree with it. And your motivation for doing so (in this regard) makes me question your willingness and ability to critically investigate facts pertaining to your alleged supernatural 'experience' in as disinterested a manor as possible.

     I wasn't posting a link to an article with the expectation that you would agree with it; I was posting it in an attempt to provide source material for the claims that I have made about the possibility that personal experience can be considered to be evidence. 

     
     As pertaining to your example of a patient, trying to communicate his pain to a doctor, this analogy fails ones again. Pain is demonstrable. Levels of pain are measurable (not to mention quite common and unextraordinary).

     In some cases there is demonstrable evidence of pain (e.g. swelling, redness, loss of function, etc...), but the actual subjective experience of pain is not demonstrable let alone communicable.  This 'analogy' does not fail because it is not an analogy.  As I told you in my last post, I am not currently arguing that my personal experience constitutes evidence for God's existence; rather, I am arguing that personal experiences can indeed constitute evidence.  Perhaps you should read my post over again.

     This alleged supernatural non-communicable experience you are claiming as "evidence" is not like that at all - and really, if we applied it (straightway) to your analogy, using your methodology, we would have a pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming "pain" (without evidence) and asking for drugs (and getting them!).

     You don't know much about the medical field do you?  The fact of the matter is that we do have a "pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming 'pain' and asking for drugs (and getting them!)". That, in case you are wondering, is how a good portion of street traded oxycontin gets into circulation.  Patients go to their doctors complaining of pain (e.g. nerve related back pain) and because the doctors, contrary to what you have said, have no way of objectively measuring or ruling out a pain state, drugs often are given out. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 20, 2013, 02:25:31 AM
I don't think "evidence" by itself means much. However, when coupled with the qualifier "repeatable", it means that the evidence can be produced, with much lower chances of wrongness and fakery, and can become the backbone of some field of knowledge.

An artifact may be evidence of Atlantis, but it may have been faked. If the finder can point to a site, where lots of artifacts can be found, in places which would be hard to fake, then the evidence becomes repeatable, and the basis for some serious theorising.

Having a sudden experience of God is "evidence", but could be just about anything. If it can be made to repeat in the same person, or others, then it becomes much more something that can be studied.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 20, 2013, 04:02:23 AM
.....find me a reputable source that backs up your claim that "evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others". 

Can I ask - what is the value, to me, of evidence that you are unable to demonstrate to me?  And for what reason should I value one person's undemonstrable testimony over another's?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 20, 2013, 10:02:23 AM
     This alleged supernatural non-communicable experience you are claiming as "evidence" is not like that at all - and really, if we applied it (straightway) to your analogy, using your methodology, we would have a pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming "pain" (without evidence) and asking for drugs (and getting them!).

     You don't know much about the medical field do you?  The fact of the matter is that we do have a "pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming 'pain' and asking for drugs (and getting them!)". That, in case you are wondering, is how a good portion of street traded oxycontin gets into circulation.  Patients go to their doctors complaining of pain (e.g. nerve related back pain) and because the doctors, contrary to what you have said, have no way of objectively measuring or ruling out a pain state, drugs often are given out.
What does that have to say then regarding the reliability of 'non-communicable evidence', and how much weight you should ascribe to it when evaluating the truth-value of the associated claim?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 20, 2013, 02:59:44 PM
     That's fine if you don't want to refer to the types of online sources that I suggested - there are other places to find reputable information on the nature and definition of 'evidence' though I don't think it is fair to expect me to give an exhaustive list in my question.  So I will ask you a THIRD time: find me a reputable source that backs up your claim that "evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others".

This question/demand of yours is, once again, misplaced (as well as irrational) and it demonstrates how committed you are to 'authority' figures by which to use language and separate fact from fiction. You are giving much weight to a feeling, a hunch, an alleged "experience", and indeed basing your entire life upon it (and likely the presumptions upon which you accepted prior to interpreting it as such - namely those regarding the bible as some "word of God", etc). Of this I am aware, because I used to attempt your same argument for years. Well, this argument fails miserably as any kind of good standard for the deciphering of what is true from what is false. It opens the door for any kind of false interpretation of claimed "experience" as fact, and attempts (which it seems you are doing deliberately) to blur the lines between what is mere subjective - internal - opinion and what is true.

No sir, unlike you I do not require some authority figure defining for me what is evidence and what is not. I simply need a healthy amount of skepticism - the same kind which would save me from a futile "purchase" of the Mormon religion, and the internal "feelings" they (like you) claim to confirm their faith.

     I wasn't posting a link to an article with the expectation that you would agree with it; I was posting it in an attempt to provide source material for the claims that I have made about the possibility that personal experience can be considered to be evidence.

And I've already demonstrated at least two of the reasons I disagree with this claim. 

     In some cases there is demonstrable evidence of pain (e.g. swelling, redness, loss of function, etc...), but the actual subjective experience of pain is not demonstrable let alone communicable.  This 'analogy' does not fail because it is not an analogy.  As I told you in my last post, I am not currently arguing that my personal experience constitutes evidence for God's existence; rather, I am arguing that personal experiences can indeed constitute evidence.  Perhaps you should read my post over again.

Even if I (for the sake of argument) were to agree with your assertion (which I do not), this speaks absolutely nothing to the OP. Indeed, you've already demonstrated that this thing you call 'evidence' is something for which you are unwilling to alter the interpretation. Are you just a troll here then, poking and prodding to find the "weakness" in those of us to reject your "Yahweh" belief while refusing to admit that your "faith" is unfalsifiable? It certainly seems that way.


     You don't know much about the medical field do you?  The fact of the matter is that we do have a "pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming 'pain' and asking for drugs (and getting them!)". That, in case you are wondering, is how a good portion of street traded oxycontin gets into circulation.  Patients go to their doctors complaining of pain (e.g. nerve related back pain) and because the doctors, contrary to what you have said, have no way of objectively measuring or ruling out a pain state, drugs often are given out.

I obviously do know more than you, since somehow you are confused as to what the term pandemic means. Your example is NOT a pandemic. It is an EXCEPTION to what regularly occurs and, on the contrary, when a doctor notices an alleged patient demonstrating signs of addiction, dependency, and/or deceit such drugs are NOT given out. This is why I reject your definition of evidence. A mere claim doesn't cut it and neither does a self-diagnosed/self interpreted "experience" to the alleged supernatural. But if your assertion is correct,  are you willing to admit, then, that you are like those liars - lying/having self-delusion about pain (aka Yahweh) or thinking it's real when it's not?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2013, 09:41:45 AM


Here though, it sounds to me more like you're worming out of it with yourself.  Having faith that Hell is a good thing, versus feeling/believing that it is a good thing...could you explain the difference?

No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

I mean the existence of Hell being good in the Grand Design, not the prospect of actually going there being good from our perspective.  Clearly, God wills its existence, from a Christian perspective.  And from a Christian perspective, that makes it good, even if we don't understand why with our feeble human intellects and morals.


I disagree. I don't think God takes any pleasure in His anger or in human rebellion. Why would you think He does?

If hell was good in any way at all, why would God go to such lengths to provide a way for us to avoid it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 21, 2013, 09:52:33 AM
If hell is a truly terrible place, and god agonizes over the thought of any of his creation suffering there, it is within his power to change that.  The only restraints on god are those which he imposes upon himself.  If hell exists and is an awful place where people are tormented and this is objectionable even to god, he's the only one with the power to change that.  Trying to place the responsibility for that on the shoulders of people who did not create it or write the rules is backwards.  The only reason to take that point of view is to try and harmonize the existence of such a place with a being who personifies love and compassion.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2013, 09:57:24 AM
Not at all. I believe that my sense of justice, right and wrong exist because I was created in God's image.  ...

That is not what the Bible says.  It says we were created ignorant of right and wrong, good and evil.  That knowledge is what we gained (in the story) when Eve and Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil).  That's kind of the point of the story, no?

Clearly, you don't believe everything in the Bible to be truth.

The bible clearly teaches we were created in God's image. Truth be told, its always confused me somewhat why the tree was called by God the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. I have no answer to that. However, it seems pretty clear to me that however you take the strory, literally or not, the clear teaching is that mankind failed its first test of obedience and this caaused death to enter the world.  Seems harsh. True.

That doesn't alter the fact that my sense of good, evil and justice is a reflection of ultimate versions of those things.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2013, 09:59:47 AM
No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

Oh, I contemplate it.  But I have no understanding at all of why it WOULD be a reality, assuming that your god is both loving, and desiring that we are saved.

Justice. God can't let sin go unpunished. Hard to grasp, impossible if you are of the no free will mindset.

[/quote]
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2013, 10:01:57 AM

Yet all of this theological mumbo jumbo is a red herring to this discussion. And what more is there to talk about if you aren't even willing to admit that you could be wrong regarding this assumed interpretation you have made?

Read my first post in the thread. I addressed the OP. The conversation just went on from there, as it does.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 21, 2013, 10:09:10 AM
its always confused me somewhat why the tree was called by God the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. I have no answer to that.

I have an answer. The idiot who wrote it had writer's block, and couldn't think of anything mediocrely dumb to say, so he said something stupider than normal. I'm sure it would please him that his uninterpretable whim confused Jewish people for 2600 years.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2013, 10:21:00 AM
Not at all. I believe that my sense of justice, right and wrong exist because I was created in God's image

That is completely non-scriptural.  You, my funny accented friend, are a heretic[1] and possibly a blasphemer[2].  According to scripture, your sense of morality comes from Eve taking the initiative and eating the magical fruit from the magical Tree of Moral Knowledge and then feeding it to her slow witted mate.  It gave them moral knowledge equal to that of the gods.

You get an F in bible studies for today.
 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy)
 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy)

Whether my morality was only possible after the fall or not, it is certainly a reflection of God's essence.


It's why I do the wrong thing even when I know its wrong. Same as you, same as everyone.

This is also not scriptural.  You are a sinner because the original sin of A&E altered the universe.

I'd give you something lower than an F, if I could.

I'd ask for a re-mark if it was important, because my statement as it stands is absolutely correct. A and E ensured I was born with sin, and most definitely I am unable to avoid it. But I freely commit my sins just the same. I know myself pretty well.


Goodness and love originate with God.

I don't know what that means.  God was the first to experience g&L?  god made g&l like the chinese make conterfeit Gucci bags?  g&l are created within god like honey in a beehive and somehow it is piped in to us, like the public water system?  Please explain.

I really can't, beyond recognising goodness and love and believing that God created the world 'good'. I believe Jesus death was the worlds greatest act of love. I also know that's so much nonsense to all who don't believe it was needed.


Those things exist.

Where?  In what way?  This relates to the previous question.  Please define your model of how this all works.  Are g&L  things?  Is there a Lake of Goodness, a warehouse with boxes of Love?  If so, where?  Does that mean we need god to create Anger and Badness too (because they must also exist)? 

Please explain this, because right now I am completely baffled as to how you think this works.

I'm afraid I'll have to leave you baffled. I might see goodness and love entirely different to you. Of course, I could list 100 or more acts I consider demonstarte an innate goodness, but my understanding is that you don't see the goodness as being anything larger than the act itself. I see it as being a quality of God that we can experience and use.



That does not clear it up for me.  I will hold off until you more completely explain your position.  But as it stands, I don't see how I'm wrong.

It probably still hasn't, but it won't get any better now. It's 1.25am here.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2013, 10:23:21 AM
In the meantime, what I know of God and what I know of my own very, very dark heart is enough to tell me God is a God of love first and foremost, but is also a God of justice. It's our desire to set the level of the justice that is the problem.

But is that true?  Is your heart really "very, very dark?"  You don't strike me as a bad person.  You don't seem mean, you don't seem cruel, you don't appear to be a malicious person.  You come across as someone who tries to do well by others and give a good accounting of himself. 

My bad qualities outweigh my good easily.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 21, 2013, 10:29:07 AM
No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

Oh, I contemplate it.  But I have no understanding at all of why it WOULD be a reality, assuming that your god is both loving, and desiring that we are saved.

Justice. God can't let sin go unpunished. Hard to grasp, impossible if you are of the no free will mindset.

What is this means of justice exactly?  Is it an 'eye for an eye' kind of thing?  I disagree with that as a notion of justice.  It is especially disagreeable when the form of punishment does not allow, by design, any means for the suffering sentient entity to be rehabilitated.

If it isn't an 'eye for an eye' thing, is it a 'learning from your mistakes'/'learning empathy' thing?

Within your view, magicmiles, I can think of at least one entity that has free will, knowledge of right and wrong, freely chooses to not do wrong, and did not arrive at that state through some manner of punishing 'sinful' behavior.  This entity didn't need any form of corrective action applied to him/her/it.  Why is such a reality not possible for god to manifest within humanity?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 21, 2013, 10:46:32 AM

That doesn't alter the fact that my sense of good, evil and justice is a reflection of ultimate versions of those things.

Merely claiming that your sense of right/wrong are "a reflection of 'ultimate versions' of those things" doesn't make it so. This is mere assuming what you need to prove.

Btw, you didn't answer the question in #311.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 21, 2013, 11:38:32 AM
I disagree. I don't think God takes any pleasure in His anger or in human rebellion. Why would you think He does?

I think this is a fundamentally incoherent idea - God having pleasure or anger.  Pleasure and anger are small, mortal emotions and unbefitting the omnipotent creator of all being.  However, it does reflect the small-time and arbitrarily petty god that grew to become God - yhwh.  yhwh was pissed off at everything, but mainly idolatry.  Murder didn't bother him much - he often ordered it - and slavery was fine as long as you were a hebrew and followed a few rules.  This little god from a middle eastern backwater was a god of many emotions, but mainly jealousy.

I'll not get into the idea of "taking pleasure from his anger".  Suffice it to say it reflects a kind of ignorance of the English language

If hell was good in any way at all, why would God go to such lengths to provide a way for us to avoid it?

Such lengths?  Seriously?  You make it sound like god had to jump through all sorts of hoops and rig up a Rube Goldberg machine to keep us from going to hell.  All he did was wear a human suit for a little while.  Big whoop.  And let's not pretend that was even necessary.  He's God, allegedly.  All he really had to do was make up his mind to forgive people who actually intended the best and actually felt bad for the rotten things they did.  No theatrics.  No rituals. No bullshit.

You also conveniently forget that god made hell the default setting for all of us.  We are the ones who have to go through lengths to avoid it.  All the responsibility is on us.  God just sits around on his fat ass not helping people and ignoring real suffering. 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: screwtape on May 21, 2013, 11:49:28 AM
Whether my morality was only possible after the fall or not, it is certainly a reflection of God's essence.

No, it's not.  It is a reflection of the essence of the fruit of the Tree of Moral Knowledge.  Does your heresy know no bounds?

I'd ask for a re-mark if it was important, because my statement as it stands is absolutely correct. A and E ensured I was born with sin, and most definitely I am unable to avoid it. But I freely commit my sins just the same. I know myself pretty well.

Still wrong, Miles.  You said:
I believe that my sense of justice, right and wrong exist because I was created in God's image. But an image is just that, it isn't a perfect replica.

But that is to imply that Adam, who was also created in yhwh's image, was also created imperfectly, and the whole sordid affair with the fruit was completely ancilliary to the Fall and moral knowledge.  All that is completely unscriptural.  You may believe it, but it makes you a heretic.

You cannot say these things and say the bible is your guide.  These ideas of your are explicity contradictory to the biblical story.

I also know that's so much nonsense to all who don't believe it was needed.

Then if you know it will be interpreted as nonsense, and you know you cannot articulate what you mean, kindly stop baiting people with this kind of post. 


I'm afraid I'll have to leave you baffled. I might see goodness and love entirely different to you. Of course, I could list 100 or more acts I consider demonstarte an innate goodness, but my understanding is that you don't see the goodness as being anything larger than the act itself. I see it as being a quality of God that we can experience and use.

Then stop trolling us.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 21, 2013, 11:49:59 AM
The bible clearly teaches we were created in God's image.Truth be told, its always confused me somewhat why the tree was called by God the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. I have no answer to that.

"In God's image" is ambiguous; it can mean whatever you want it to mean.  It could mean we have the same hair colour.  It could mean we have the same reputation.  One's moral values are a little deeper than "image".  It could mean what you need it to mean, but that's a result of your decision, not the Bible's.

Truth be told, its always confused me somewhat why the tree was called by God the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. I have no answer to that.

I gave you a pretty clear and coherent interpretation of it:  It teaches that obedience to the Lord is the only moral value that matters.  Our own moral sense is a result of sin, something the Lord intended us never to have.

This interpretation synchronizes very nicely with the other themes in the Old Testament, whereby the Jews are rewarded or punished based on their obedience to the Lord rather than following their own morality.  The story of Abraham's almost-sacrifice of his son is a perfect example:  The Lord wanted obedience from Abraham (killing his son), not an act of conscience (objecting).

Here you find it in yourself to question/disbelieve the teachings of your own Bible when it comes to this story.  Yet, you find no such fortitude when it comes to Romans 1.  Nobody forced you to make that choice.  It's all on you.

However, it seems pretty clear to me that however you take the strory, literally or not, the clear teaching is that mankind failed its first test of obedience and this caaused death to enter the world.  Seems harsh. True.

Yes, according to the story we disobeyed by obtaining a sense of morality.  This has implications for what human morality is, if we're to take the story seriously.  What's the problem, for you, with taking the story seriously?  I mean, I have reasons not to, but then I'm not a Christian.

That doesn't alter the fact that my sense of good, evil and justice is a reflection of ultimate versions of those things.

According to Genesis, you have the same capacity for moral sense as the god(s).  If you cannot use that moral knowledge to judge God, then you're saying that God can't use that same knowledge to judge himself.  The knowledge is the same in both cases.  Or so, supposedly, said God.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 09:18:12 PM
     No sir, unlike you I do not require some authority figure defining for me what is evidence and what is not. I simply need a healthy amount of skepticism...I obviously do know more than you, since somehow you are confused as to what the term pandemic means.

     All I asked you for (repeatedly) was a reference source to back up your claim that personal experience cannot constitute evidence; I do wish, however, that I had thought of your latest excuse when I was in university.  Instead of actually going to the library and getting sources for my research papers I could have just written on the last page "source: healthy dose of skepticism".  I wonder what my English prof would have said to that?  Also, clearly I could not in this case know what the definition of 'pandemic' is since to have such knowledge I would have to be able to read your mind - after all I shouldn't expect you to submit to the authoritarian tyranny of the dictionary should I?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 09:27:20 PM
     You don't know much about the medical field do you?  The fact of the matter is that we do have a "pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming 'pain' and asking for drugs (and getting them!)". That, in case you are wondering, is how a good portion of street traded oxycontin gets into circulation.  Patients go to their doctors complaining of pain (e.g. nerve related back pain) and because the doctors, contrary to what you have said, have no way of objectively measuring or ruling out a pain state, drugs often are given out.
What does that have to say then regarding the reliability of 'non-communicable evidence', and how much weight you should ascribe to it when evaluating the truth-value of the associated claim?

     The issue of the whether personal experience can constitute evidence is different from the issue of determining the reliability of the person claiming to have such evidence.  From the first person point of view one would include personal experience as evidence, although the same cannot be said of a third person observer - if you want to read about why some philosophers feel that personal experience can constitute evidence, the article on 'evidence' on the internet encyclopedia of philosophy provides a good overview. 
     
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 09:33:50 PM
.....find me a reputable source that backs up your claim that "evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others". 

Can I ask - what is the value, to me, of evidence that you are unable to demonstrate to me?  And for what reason should I value one person's undemonstrable testimony over another's?

     I wouldn't say it is of much value to you at all, nor would I say that you should necessarily value one person's personal experience over another.  The original question that I attempted to answer was 'what would it take me to give up my personal beliefs' not 'what do I think it would take to convince you to acquiesce to my beliefs'.  I have also said in previous posts that if I were debating a Muslim or a Mormon I would not question the evidential merit of their personal experience; but rather, I would attempt to question the specific truth claims of their religion. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 09:36:21 PM
I don't think "evidence" by itself means much. However, when coupled with the qualifier "repeatable", it means that the evidence can be produced, with much lower chances of wrongness and fakery, and can become the backbone of some field of knowledge.

An artifact may be evidence of Atlantis, but it may have been faked. If the finder can point to a site, where lots of artifacts can be found, in places which would be hard to fake, then the evidence becomes repeatable, and the basis for some serious theorising.

Having a sudden experience of God is "evidence", but could be just about anything. If it can be made to repeat in the same person, or others, then it becomes much more something that can be studied.

     If personal experience can qualify as evidence then the qualifier 'repeatable' doesn't apply since personal experience presents from a 'first person' point of view.  The qualifier 'repeatable' refers to evidence that presents from a 'third person' point of view.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 10:05:28 PM
Most atheists do not, in fact, say that god does not exist...You need to be careful about using dictionary definitions, especially when it comes to contention areas such as this one.  It wasn't so long ago, for example, that if you looked up "atheist" in a dictionary, one of the definitions you would find is "an evil person".  This has only been corrected very recently; I remember seeing current-edition dictionaries listing this definition as recently as the mid to late 80s or so.  That definition is still listed in Merriam-Webster, in fact, although they do have it listed as "archaic".  (By the way, Merriam-Webster is owned and published by the Christian Science church.  For some enlightenment in this area, try looking up their definitions of words such as "God" and "Christ".)

     Thanks for the heads up; however, in my defense the post that I was responding to said "atheism is not a belief; it is a lack of belief".  I would think that given the contentious nature of this issue the person who made the original post should have taken care to use a more precise term (e.g. maybe 'negative atheism' or 'agnostic atheism').  From what I understand, the term 'atheist' includes a subset of people (gnostic atheists) who actually do make a positive claim that 'god does not exist' so the definitions I gave wouldn't be entirely misplaced. 
     I visited the following web site http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=6487 where there is a list of 17 different subcategories of atheism.  Also, at the end of chapter 5 of the WWGHA book there is the following quote: "We have all of this evidence to show that God is imaginary. If we were in a court of law looking at this question, the judge would quickly rule that God is imaginary. There is no concrete evidence that God is real and lots of evidence that he is imaginary."  This seems to be a positive assertion to me; it does not seem to convey a simple suspension of belief.  If a person were to accept this conclusion, how many of the 17 categories of atheism are available to her? Moreover, assuming that most of the atheist members of this forum agree with the chapter 5 conclusion: how far off were the definitions that I cited?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 10:42:31 PM
     By the way, Merriam-Webster is owned and published by the Christian Science church.  For some enlightenment in this area, try looking up their definitions of words such as "God" and "Christ".

     This is just a minor point, but I was wondering where you found the information that Merriam-Webster is owned by the Christian Science church.  Corporate structure and ownership is very convoluted so a may have missed something, but as far as I can tell Merriam-Webster is a subsidiary of Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Encyclopaedia Britannica is in turn apparently owned by a gentleman named Jacob E Safra who, from what I gather, is Jewish (at least the other members of his family are).  http://corporate.britannica.com/board-of-directors-2/
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 21, 2013, 10:51:21 PM
My bad qualities outweigh my good easily.

This statement has truly given me pause, MM. I agree with Tonus (and I'm certain the majority here would concur) that your posts on WWGHA largely present you as quite a pleasant and likeable fellow. Granted, the internet is not real life and we do not know you personally, so I suppose you could actually be a rotten SOB out in the world. Would you say that is the case? Or are these "bad qualities" to which you refer actually just your internal wishes to do "bad" things?

If the latter, I can assure you that if I actually did choke the hell out of every person I felt deserved it I would be on the FBI's 10 most wanted list for sure, and if I shagged every woman I ever lusted after I would have bastards in every corner of the globe by now.
And there's plenty more where that came from.

I'm always amazed at how many xtians view themselves as hopeless, wretched sinners that deserve an eternity in flames. As far as I'm concerned, it is not the absence of "bad" urges but the ability to resist such urges that makes one a good person. Is that not the way you see it?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 21, 2013, 11:02:59 PM
     If personal experience can qualify as evidence then the qualifier 'repeatable' doesn't apply since personal experience presents from a 'first person' point of view.  The qualifier 'repeatable' refers to evidence that presents from a 'third person' point of view.

Repeatability still applies, because repetition can allow the experiencer to figure out what really happened.

Say I take a psychotropic drug, and I go off into a dreamworld, where I meet an alien who says he is God, and I see the birthplace of all souls, and see reincarnation happening before my eyes.

This is all very well, and may confirm my biases of an Eastern-type reincarnation religion. However, can I do it again, to find out some real details that I can confirm on the outside?

Say I see a boy being born, called Brappi Happi. Can I find him in the real world, and if I can, then can I go to the place again, and see another boy being reincarnated? Also, can I find him in the real world, and document my findings?

Or, if I take the drug again, do I simply see my cat as a fractal icosahedron which permeates time-space, and never end up in the same soul place again, because it was all crap, that my mind invented.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 21, 2013, 11:12:43 PM
     If personal experience can qualify as evidence then the qualifier 'repeatable' doesn't apply since personal experience presents from a 'first person' point of view.  The qualifier 'repeatable' refers to evidence that presents from a 'third person' point of view.

Repeatability still applies, because repetition can allow the experiencer to figure out what really happened.

Say I take a psychotropic drug, and I go off into a dreamworld, where I meet an alien who says he is God, and I see the birthplace of all souls, and see reincarnation happening before my eyes.

This is all very well, and may confirm my biases of an Eastern-type reincarnation religion. However, can I do it again, to find out some real details that I can confirm on the outside?

Say I see a boy being born, called Brappi Happi. Can I find him in the real world, and if I can, then can I go to the place again, and see another boy being reincarnated? Also, can I find him in the real world, and document my findings?

Or, if I take the drug again, do I simply see my cat as a fractal icosahedron which permeates time-space, and never end up in the same soul place again, because it was all crap, that my mind invented.

     What if one day I wake up with neuropathic back pain.  It bothers me all day until finally at bedtime I take a Tylenol and manage to fall asleep.  When I wake up the next morning the pain presents itself again - wouldn't that be a personal experience that was repeated?  Additionally, if I awoke the next morning and the pain did not recur do you think that would cause me to doubt the reality of my pain the previous day?
     
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Add Homonym on May 22, 2013, 12:43:25 AM

     What if one day I wake up with neuropathic back pain.  It bothers me all day until finally at bedtime I take a Tylenol and manage to fall asleep.  When I wake up the next morning the pain presents itself again - wouldn't that be a personal experience that was repeated?  Additionally, if I awoke the next morning and the pain did not recur do you think that would cause me to doubt the reality of my pain the previous day?
   

The pain may be real, but it has an unknown cause. The fact that the pain disappears, only means that you could not successfully recreate the cause of it. No doubt because you were not motivated to cause yourself pain. With pain, people are more concerned with figuring out how to eliminate it reproducibly.

With Schizophrenia, the delusional symptoms that occur are real, but have no external (spiritual) cause that anyone can find. Realness is not the issue, because anything that occurs is real.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 22, 2013, 02:14:36 AM
.....find me a reputable source that backs up your claim that "evidence is, by it's nature and definition, DEMONSTRABLE to others". 

Can I ask - what is the value, to me, of evidence that you are unable to demonstrate to me?  And for what reason should I value one person's undemonstrable testimony over another's?

     I wouldn't say it is of much value to you at all, nor would I say that you should necessarily value one person's personal experience over another. 

Fine.  So I can ignore all personal testimony then, since there is no way I can establish whose experience is correct?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 22, 2013, 02:23:23 AM
No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

Oh, I contemplate it.  But I have no understanding at all of why it WOULD be a reality, assuming that your god is both loving, and desiring that we are saved.

Justice. God can't let sin go unpunished. Hard to grasp, impossible if you are of the no free will mindset.

I'd hoped for better from you, MM.  I gave a lengthy post about why an eternal terrible hell made no sense, all of which you appear to have skipped.  Having just re-read it to check, it says nothing about a non-free will basis, and indeed is written from the assumption that we can choose.

I can see why you would be loath to address the points I actually made - like I said though, I expected better of you.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 22, 2013, 02:27:24 AM
No No No No! Hell is a fucking terrible thing. How could you possibly not get that, from all I've said? Why did Jesus come and suffer it in our place, if not for the fact it's terrible?

I believe it's a reality. That doesn't make it a good, desirable or pleasant reality. What you're clearly not willing to contemplate is why it should even be a reality.

Oh, I contemplate it.  But I have no understanding at all of why it WOULD be a reality, assuming that your god is both loving, and desiring that we are saved.

Justice. God can't let sin go unpunished. Hard to grasp, impossible if you are of the no free will mindset.

I'd hoped for better from you, MM.  I gave a lengthy post about why an eternal terrible hell made no sense, all of which you appear to have skipped.  Having just re-read it to check, it says nothing about a non-free will basis, and indeed is written from the assumption that we can choose.

I can see why you would be loath to address the points I actually made - like I said though, I expected better of you.

I was tired. Forgive me.

I'll try and look at it better when I'm fresh and have less work pressure - maybe in a few days.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 22, 2013, 06:42:46 AM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
The issue of the whether personal experience can constitute evidence is different from the issue of determining the reliability of the person claiming to have such evidence.
How so! Personal experience can only be illustrative. The problem for personal experience deemed as evidence, is that it is usually not repeatable.  We are after all only talking about a single case, and as such someone’s belief/feeling. It is clear that a belief/feeling can prove nothing!
Quote from: Greenandwhite
if you want to read about why some philosophers feel that personal experience can constitute evidence, the article on 'evidence' on the internet encyclopedia of philosophy provides a good overview.
It would be pointless as you could only ever gage another opinion. And whether it is their opinion that personal experience can constitute evidence makes it a moot point. You’re simply using one opinion to justify another opinion! Which is merely an appeal to authority, a huge fail.

Personal experiences cannot be counted as evidence unless they can be or were able to be observed by others. "feelings" aren't evidence. To say that an anecdote or a series of cases or personal experiences may constitute evidence for something, is not necessarily the same as to say it constitutes conclusive proof. It is ok to hear it, but not ok to take it as verbatim.

That’s not evidence, its delusion. And I mean no offense when I say that.  Humanity's capacity for self-delusion is limitless. There is often a huge gap between what we "think" or "feel" and what IS.

It’s extremely important to separate anecdotal evidence/personal experience from concrete proof, is the truism that “correlation does not always equal causation.” What this means is that if you take action “A,” and then “B” happens, it’s not necessarily true that “A” caused “B” to happen.

For example, let’s say that you have spots on your skin. Someone tells you to rub soap on to help. You follow those instruction and the spots vanish the next day, you might come to the conclusion that the soap does work. But if you had gone to the doctor, you might have learned that you had one days spots that cleared up on their own. So the soap did nothing to help the spots.

From wikipedia"The expression anecdotal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes. Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases.[1][2] Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a claim; it is accepted only in lieu of more solid evidence. This is true regardless of the veracity of individual claims"Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence

Here is one reason why personal experience isn't evidence. http://gawker.com/5963405/not-even-kidding-hidden-camera-show-pulls-scariest-elevator-prank-ever

And also ‘Quirkology’ by Richard Wiseman is another way of explaining why personal experience fails.

From Quirkology "20 people were asked to persuade a relative to participate in a study about childhood memories. The recruiters were asked to supply a photograph of the person as a child, and three other photographs of the person as a child participating in events. The first photograph was manipulated to produce a false photograph of a trip in a hot air balloon. The participants were then shown the three real photographs and one false one and asked to describe the events in the photos. About one third “remembered” the event in the hot air balloon. By the third interview, half of the participants were able to “remember” and describe in great detail their trip in the hot air balloon. Because the people thought they should remember the event, their brains helpfully supplied them with a vivid and detailed memory. "

http://www.quirkology.com/USA/index.shtml
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: naemhni on May 22, 2013, 08:00:34 AM
     By the way, Merriam-Webster is owned and published by the Christian Science church.  For some enlightenment in this area, try looking up their definitions of words such as "God" and "Christ".

     This is just a minor point, but I was wondering where you found the information that Merriam-Webster is owned by the Christian Science church.

I honestly don't recall.  It was a while ago.  It looks like that may be incorrect, as you point out.  Nevertheless, the M-W dictionary does privilege Christian Science definitions for certain terms.  Have a look:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jesus
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heaven
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hell

Note that each of those entries has a separate definition for the how term is used in Christian Science, and not for any other denominations of Christianity.  I am not aware of any other dictionary that does this, for Christian Science or any other denomination.  Itt's not indicative of impartiality on Merriam-Webster's part, especially considering that the Christian Science Church is a very small denomination (only about 85,000 members worldwide).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 22, 2013, 08:05:21 AM
     You don't know much about the medical field do you?  The fact of the matter is that we do have a "pandemic of liars and fakes, all claiming 'pain' and asking for drugs (and getting them!)". That, in case you are wondering, is how a good portion of street traded oxycontin gets into circulation.  Patients go to their doctors complaining of pain (e.g. nerve related back pain) and because the doctors, contrary to what you have said, have no way of objectively measuring or ruling out a pain state, drugs often are given out.
What does that have to say then regarding the reliability of 'non-communicable evidence', and how much weight you should ascribe to it when evaluating the truth-value of the associated claim?

     The issue of the whether personal experience can constitute evidence is different from the issue of determining the reliability of the person claiming to have such evidence.  From the first person point of view one would include personal experience as evidence, although the same cannot be said of a third person observer - if you want to read about why some philosophers feel that personal experience can constitute evidence, the article on 'evidence' on the internet encyclopedia of philosophy provides a good overview. 
   
I'm going to need your guidance as to what I should be looking for in the evidence article on Wikipedia[1].  I could not necessarily find what you think I should be finding necessary there.  The link to personal experience[2] doesn't tend to lend any credence in any direction to this particular discussion either.

Insofar as I can tell, personal experience as evidence still suffers from all of the exact same problems with determining the reliability of both the person claiming the personal experience and of the observation associated with those experiences.  That same problem will still exist regardless of whether it is your own personal experience or another person's experience being relayed to you.
 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence
 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_experience
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 22, 2013, 12:01:16 PM
You also conveniently forget that god made hell the default setting for all of us.  We are the ones who have to go through lengths to avoid it.  All the responsibility is on us.  God just sits around on his fat ass not helping people and ignoring real suffering.

Actually, (interestingly enough) according to much Christian theology (the Romans ch 9 crowd etc) Yahweh not only set us up to fail (predestination) he also designed most of us to go to hell ("prepared [us] for destruction")! So basically, this "god" designed (and planned for) most of us to be punished for all eternity (something for which we did not choose - he created us this way, etc) and for some odd reason decided to "save" some of us (via divine election) so we can sing his praises and bow down worshiping him for ever and ever. How pompous and narcissistic!

This of course does not sound like a God at all, but rather an insecure, immature, childlike bronze-age middle-eastern goat herder who needs adoration for his low self-esteem.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 22, 2013, 12:06:00 PM
Actually, (interestingly enough) according to much Christian theology (the Romans ch 9 crowd etc) Yahweh not only set us up to fail (predestination) he also designed most of us to go to hell ("prepared [us] for destruction")!

Even Jesus gets in on the act:

Quote
Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

I see some Christians claim that all you need to do is "A/S/K" and you will experience Christ.  But this would be the same Christ who expects few to be saved.  So either god has done a terrible job of helping humanity be saved, or (as the above texts infer) he deliberately set most of us up to fail.  Because he's a just and loving and kind and generous and good and righteous god.  &)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 22, 2013, 12:17:18 PM
     No sir, unlike you I do not require some authority figure defining for me what is evidence and what is not. I simply need a healthy amount of skepticism...I obviously do know more than you, since somehow you are confused as to what the term pandemic means.

     All I asked you for (repeatedly) was a reference source to back up your claim that personal experience cannot constitute evidence; I do wish, however, that I had thought of your latest excuse when I was in university.  Instead of actually going to the library and getting sources for my research papers I could have just written on the last page "source: healthy dose of skepticism".  I wonder what my English prof would have said to that?  Also, clearly I could not in this case know what the definition of 'pandemic' is since to have such knowledge I would have to be able to read your mind - after all I shouldn't expect you to submit to the authoritarian tyranny of the dictionary should I?

Dictionaries are after the fact, sir. We are discussing the very nature of that definition (as philosophers so often do). You seem to have missed the part where we have been passed the "my source vs yours" BS. It could be that you are struggling with this because you have no formal philosophical training. I really don't know, but you need to catchup with the discussion here. This "reference source" you are looking for stems from the logical fallacy called Argumentum Ad Verecundiam.

Your English professor is not going to help you in this manor because we are discussing (once again b/c you missed it) the very nature of what constitutes the necessary and sufficient conditions (the defining bounds) by which to consider something "evidence". To put it another way, this discussion is PRIOR to name dropping. Ever read Socrates or Plato? WOW.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jtk73 on May 22, 2013, 01:12:55 PM
God can't let sin go unpunished.

Can't or won't? Can't implies that he is not 'all powerful'. Won't implies that he is an asshole.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 22, 2013, 02:41:37 PM
It also implies that humans are more powerful than god, because, despite god's best efforts (and god will never do less than his best, right?) we brought sin into the world. Now god has to do all this clean up work, like sending Jesus and resurrecting him. Otherwise, he has to punish absolutely everyone who has ever lived. Even though he does not want to. And didn't god know all this would happen in the first place?

No matter how you look at it, this great plan of god's (at least the part of the plan he lets us know about) is all fulla holes. Is this a god, or Microsoft having to design a patch to fix a software bug? :P
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: epidemic on May 22, 2013, 02:42:12 PM
What I would need to believe, corroberating evidence sounds good.

Here are some options, if XYZ religion:

Lot in life being better  (statistically less murder, less suffering, longer life, peaceful death) not to say a perfect life just perceivably better for their faithful adherence

Magic healings (Probably including amputations but I could see others as possibly sufficient.  for the faithful of a given sect)

A really good one would be an unalterable bible universally understood by every human.  Gods words should not be able to be miscommunicated.

An idea a bit more on the fringes would be, a bible penned during christ's days on earth along with some secular non christian corroberating evidence.  Egyptians bitching about plague of frogs and the dang jews bringing it down on them.  Hell it might even be intersting after a couple of centuries of being slave labor that the jews put their mark on something in israel.

any form of real magic only able to be performed by the faithful.  You know a mustard seed worth of faith making a mountain move.



Commit a sin turn blue, comitt anotehr sin and sprout horns... Then beg forgiveness and turn back to normal again.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 22, 2013, 02:46:35 PM
Yeah, pretty much any of that would be helpful in at least establishing that some of this religious stuff is real. But no. &)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 22, 2013, 06:35:02 PM
     By the way, Merriam-Webster is owned and published by the Christian Science church.  For some enlightenment in this area, try looking up their definitions of words such as "God" and "Christ".

     This is just a minor point, but I was wondering where you found the information that Merriam-Webster is owned by the Christian Science church.

I honestly don't recall.  It was a while ago.  It looks like that may be incorrect, as you point out.  Nevertheless, the M-W dictionary does privilege Christian Science definitions for certain terms.  Have a look:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jesus
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heaven
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hell

Note that each of those entries has a separate definition for the how term is used in Christian Science, and not for any other denominations of Christianity.  I am not aware of any other dictionary that does this, for Christian Science or any other denomination.  Itt's not indicative of impartiality on Merriam-Webster's part, especially considering that the Christian Science Church is a very small denomination (only about 85,000 members worldwide).

     Fair enough - I don't usually use Merriam-Webster so I had never seen the separate entries giving the Christian Science spin on certain terms.  It is hard to explain the inclusion of such entries except by reference to ownership by the Christian Science church...if it was about money one would think that the Mormons would have some entries as well. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 22, 2013, 06:50:30 PM
     I'm going to need your guidance as to what I should be looking for in the evidence article on Wikipedia[1].  I could not necessarily find what you think I should be finding necessary there.  The link to personal experience[2] doesn't tend to lend any credence in any direction to this particular discussion either.

Insofar as I can tell, personal experience as evidence still suffers from all of the exact same problems with determining the reliability of both the person claiming the personal experience and of the observation associated with those experiences.  That same problem will still exist regardless of whether it is your own personal experience or another person's experience being relayed to you.
 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence
 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_experience

     I was actually referring to the internet encyclopedia of philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/evidence/ and not to Wikipedia - not that one cannot find helpful information on Wikipedia, I just take what I read there with a grain of salt.  Section 1b on the IEP gives an overview of some of the arguments for and against personal experience constituting evidence - I don't think that a person reading it would feel required to accept personal experience as evidence; I just think that it demonstrates that the issue isn't closed. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 on May 22, 2013, 07:02:42 PM
     I was actually referring to the internet encyclopedia of philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/evidence/ and not to Wikipedia - not that one cannot find helpful information on Wikipedia, I just take what I read there with a grain of salt.  Section 1b on the IEP gives an overview of some of the arguments for and against personal experience constituting evidence - I don't think that a person reading it would feel required to accept personal experience as evidence; I just think that it demonstrates that the issue isn't closed.
Thanks for the link - I'll check it out; however, from what you're saying, it still sounds like the associated problem with personal experience is the non-communicable part.  It is inherently, in principle, unverifiable by entities that do not experience it.  And if that kind of personal experience somehow leads you to believe some kind of transcendent "truth" of some kind or what have you (e.g. a presence of "connectedness" with all things), well, okay, fine I suppose.  I haven't had those personal experiences so ultimately I have no say in the judgment of their apparent effect to your worldview.  I don't have any kind of issue with that.

But as soon as this "truth discovered only through personal experience" somehow, in any way, makes contact with the shared objective reality that we're all a part of, then for me problems arise.  These are claims that pierce through the veil of a personal space and lead to objective consequences - god causes/prevents natural disasters for example.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 22, 2013, 07:25:45 PM
What I would need to believe...
1. Lot in life being better  (statistically less murder, less suffering, longer life, peaceful death) not to say a perfect life just perceivably better for their faithful adherence

     Then being a follower of Christ definitely isn't for you: see Mt8:20 and I Peter 4:12

2. Magic healings (Probably including amputations but I could see others as possibly sufficient.  for the faithful of a given sect)

     Again, following Christ isn't for you - it seems to me that in the gospels when a miracle of Jesus is described with more than just a passing remark, the person's faith precedes the event and not visa versa - miracles were done in response to faith (Mt8:2, Mt9:28) and not to generate faith.  If Jesus performed his miracles to induce a faith response then what do you make of Mt13:58 and 16:4?   

3. A really good one would be an unalterable bible universally understood by every human.  Gods words should not be able to be miscommunicated.

     You know, every once in a while I argue with my dad over the truth value of evolutionary claims.  My dad likes to say: "show me some clear and unmistakeable evidence; show me a monkey turning into a man; show me...". The answer, as I have pointed out is that sometimes if you want to discover the truth you have to do a little work - sucks doesn't it?  Incidentally, do you really think that if the evidence was "clear", we as humans would be unable to find something to disagree about? 






Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 22, 2013, 07:38:40 PM
     Fine.  So I can ignore all personal testimony then, since there is no way I can establish whose experience is correct?

     Sure, if you were trying to decide between Christianity and Mormonism you could disregard both of our claims to personal experience and go straight to textual analysis or whatever else you see fit. Personal experience deals with belief formation and not with the evaluation of the objective value of a religion's truth claims, although if I as a Christian never had any personal experience, that would be a bit of a problem.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 22, 2013, 07:54:49 PM

Because a place of eternal punsihment and torment that is as terrible as you describe is entirely disproportionate to any crime or sin that may be committed in a finite earthly life.  Some punishment?  Maybe.  Depends on the crime.  But unremitting torment for ever?  No sir - no loving god could ever create such a place or deem it necessary or appropriate.

You can certainly hold that opinion, and it's one I can sympathise with because I, like you, am only able to understand crime and punishment within the context of this world.

I am certain that the problem lies with our inability to understand God and His absolute right to judge His creation.

And as always, God's salvation is ignored. Hell awaits all who have refused God's salvation.

Imagine standing at the edge of an abyss, with the ground around you giving way. You need to cross that abyss. There is only one way, a very narrow bridge. Why this stupid narrow bridge?, you think. Why isn't there a gold plated travelator? Why does this abyss even exist? Stuff it. I'd rather go into the abyss, content in my own superior reasoning.

You might have a whole list of reasons why you think God is wrong and you are right, but you won't get much comfort from them. In fact, I believe you'll get no comfort from them, because when the time comes you'll know you were wrong.

Bottom line: you firmly believe that the things you do which you know are wrong do not need to be accounted for. You have been told, repeatedly, that they do need to be accounted for, and will be. With Jesus, they have been. You reject that. That is your choice. It's my choice to heed that, because I know in my heart that God exists, and He has the right to punish wrongdoing as He pleases. Non-communicable, yes. (my belief). But I've said that over and over.


Especially when you examine the criteria for going there, which in the broad is "not accepting Christ". 

A typical abdication of responsibility, and a dismissal of the idea that it is your wrongdoing and rebellion against God that made Christ's death necessary. Mocking Christ, denying Christ even existed.


I would have no problem in accepting Christ.  He sounds like a generally OK dude, telling people to be nice to one another and not be so mean.  I can get behind that, sure.  But not because Christ said it, but because I think its a good way to be.  The problem is that I can't accept Christ because I simply don't believe he exists, don't believe your god exists. 

Well, it comes down to the truth of that, really. If you truly never believed God or turned against Him, you have nothing to worry about.


In most threads, the belief eventually comes down to "I had a personal experience, and so I believed" - making the belief something out of the control of the person experiencing it.  And that's the problem I have with hell - that because I was not given this personal experience, I will be tormented forever for something out of my control.....and there is NO way I can square that with a necessary and terrible hell.

As per above.


Further, those personal experiences fly in the face of any kind of "belief without proof", of any kind of faith.  For true faith to exist, you would have to have that faith, keep that faith, in a life entirely bereft of any feeling of connection, any feeling of relationship, any "awareness" of that god.  Because although I wouldn't accept your personal experience as evidence for ME to believe, I accept that it is evidence for YOU.  Sufficient evidence for you to be convinced of the actuality of your god.

And therein lies the problem.  Some people HAVE enough evidence for their god.....but many others don't.  Yet when I ask "why not?", when I ask why god doesn't simply reveal himself to everyone and make it clear that he exists, the response is invariably "because then you wouldn't have faith, you would KNOW".  Well, so far as I can see, all the experiences you have had mean that you DO "know".  You have long gone past faith without any evidence, and are operating from a position of knowledge: knowledge that you cannot share with anyone else, sure, but nonetheless you are certain there is a god.  You don't believe, you know....and hence remove any validity for that god not granting that knowledge to every human on the planet, and hence removing the possibility of hell for unbelief.

So no - I cannot conceive of any reason why a loving god who wants us to be saved would ever have the need to create and eternal, terrible, necessary hell.

Same response again. Only you can know what you truly know. And God.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: HAL on May 22, 2013, 07:58:51 PM
Magicmiles - sounds like you've been reading too much of Junebug's ramblings.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 22, 2013, 08:05:19 PM
Yep, anyone reading my posts will see a massive shift in perspective since she has been a member. &)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 22, 2013, 08:11:54 PM
If I don't believe in any gods because the evidence is so lame, how is that "turning my back on god"? I used to believe in god because I had never really examined the evidence. I just believed what I was taught. Once I started thinking about what I was taught, the belief fell apart like a meat pie under a fork.

I could not make myself believe in the supernatural now anymore than I could believe that Australia is kept from sinking into the sea by tiny pink striped elephants. Without any evidence that tiny pink striped elephants even exist, would anyone buy such a silly idea?

MM, why have you turned away from the tiny pink striped elephants that are responsible for your very survival? You realize that the TPSE will not be well pleased to discover your disbelieving ways.... &)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 22, 2013, 08:18:49 PM
I am confident that the elephants you speak of are imaginary. Like, really confident. I doubt I'll ever give them another thought, not even if Tasmania suddenly sunk with a mysterious trumpeting sound.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jynnan tonnix on May 22, 2013, 08:52:53 PM
I am confident that the elephants you speak of are imaginary. Like, really confident. I doubt I'll ever give them another thought, not even if Tasmania suddenly sunk with a mysterious trumpeting sound.

You see, though, MM, that's precisely the point. Imagine having been brought up to believe in those elephants. Imagine your parents, your friends, the majority of people in your circle as devout believers.

Then one day, you look around yourself and realize it just doesn't add up.

Can you will yourself to regain the belief?

And if these elephants do, in fact, exist, is it really the only possible just response for them to cast you into eternal torment for coming to the conclusion you did?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 22, 2013, 09:18:28 PM
It's the constant two-step rebuttal that I find compelling - " I don't beleieve, but if God did exists he would/should/ wouldn't/shouldn't etc etc.

If the focus and passion of this forum was solely, or even pre-dominately on God's existence rather than the implications of His existence, I'd probably be far less active.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 22, 2013, 09:32:04 PM
The implications of something's hypothetical existence are how you can tell whether or not it exists.  That's what "evidence" is.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: JeffPT on May 22, 2013, 10:06:15 PM
It's the constant two-step rebuttal that I find compelling - " I don't beleieve, but if God did exists he would/should/ wouldn't/shouldn't etc etc.

If the focus and passion of this forum was solely, or even pre-dominately on God's existence rather than the implications of His existence, I'd probably be far less active.
If all we ever did was say, "No MM, stop being a moron. God isn't real," to everything you said, the conversation would be at an end in just a few posts. We are forced to step into the belief in order to show you how stupid it is from the inside.  Why do you think we are so knowledgeable about the bible and religion?  You have to know what you're arguing against.

Your religion is simply a theological position that you find compelling because it's what you were brainwashed to believe. But that position has effectively turned off your reasoning capacity when it comes to questioning it.  How do I know that?  Because you treat the evidence against Gods goodness very differently than you treat the evidence against the goodness of everything else. Need an example? 

Everyone you know says Bill is the greatest guy they have ever met. You meet Bill and the first thing he does is punch you in the balls.  Is Bill the greatest guy?

Everyone you know says God is the greatest being ever. You see children dying in a cancer ward. Is God the greatest being ever?

If you rationalize it away for God and not Bill, then you prove my point. God can opt not to give children cancer, in much the same way that Bill can opt to not punch you in the balls.  Yet we have cancer in kids. Any reasoning you can come up with to explain that in a universe with a benevolent, omnipotent, being fails miserably against the alternative; that there is simply no benevolent, omnipotent being. 

For you, God is good nobody can tell you otherwise. If he exists (again, forced to qualify that), then He metaphorically punches millions of people in the balls every day. Yet you still say he's good.

The Christian God is not real.  Happy now?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 23, 2013, 01:09:03 AM
It's the constant two-step rebuttal that I find compelling - " I don't beleieve, but if God did exists he would/should/ wouldn't/shouldn't etc etc.

If the focus and passion of this forum was solely, or even pre-dominately on God's existence rather than the implications of His existence, I'd probably be far less active.
If all we ever did was say, "No MM, stop being a moron. God isn't real," to everything you said, the conversation would be at an end in just a few posts. We are forced to step into the belief in order to show you how stupid it is from the inside.  Why do you think we are so knowledgeable about the bible and religion?  You have to know what you're arguing against.

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. 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?

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.

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


Your religion is simply a theological position that you find compelling because it's what you were brainwashed to believe. But that position has effectively turned off your reasoning capacity when it comes to questioning it.

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.


 How do I know that?  Because you treat the evidence against Gods goodness very differently than you treat the evidence against the goodness of everything else. Need an example? 

Everyone you know says Bill is the greatest guy they have ever met. You meet Bill and the first thing he does is punch you in the balls.  Is Bill the greatest guy?

Everyone you know says God is the greatest being ever. You see children dying in a cancer ward. Is God the greatest being ever?

If you rationalize it away for God and not Bill, then you prove my point. God can opt not to give children cancer, in much the same way that Bill can opt to not punch you in the balls.  Yet we have cancer in kids. Any reasoning you can come up with to explain that in a universe with a benevolent, omnipotent, being fails miserably against the alternative; that there is simply no benevolent, omnipotent being.

Yeah, see my point above. You want freedom, but not if it has negative consequences. This reasoning essentially translates to a stubborn belief that, if you can't see a purpose for something, a purpose cannot exist. It's the partial God problem, again and again. God has power, he can stop the pain. That you get on baord with, to make a point. God knows more than you, and there is a reason for this pain. What? Know more than me? Preposterous!

I don't want to use pain as a tool of debate. I grieve right along with you at the pain in the world. But no way is it's existence evidence against God'd existence.

There are other arguments against God. But they are barely ever discussed. 


Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 23, 2013, 02:24:22 AM
Magicmiles, JeffPT said we're forced to do X in order to accomplish Y.  He did not say that we're just outright forced to do X.  The latter strawman is what you chose to so vigorously denounce.  Why'd you do that?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 23, 2013, 02:48:50 AM
Thanks MM.


Because a place of eternal punsihment and torment that is as terrible as you describe is entirely disproportionate to any crime or sin that may be committed in a finite earthly life.  Some punishment?  Maybe.  Depends on the crime.  But unremitting torment for ever?  No sir - no loving god could ever create such a place or deem it necessary or appropriate.

You can certainly hold that opinion, and it's one I can sympathise with because I, like you, am only able to understand crime and punishment within the context of this world.

I am certain that the problem lies with our inability to understand God and His absolute right to judge His creation.

See, that's my problem: being unable to understand this "god", and holding to a system of values entirely different to his, means that I am simply unable to support him.  To accept god's value system, it means I must not only discard my own values, but must accept as right a system that I oppose and do not understand.

You might have a whole list of reasons why you think God is wrong and you are right, but you won't get much comfort from them. In fact, I believe you'll get no comfort from them, because when the time comes you'll know you were wrong.

And there's the rub - the implication here is that "when the time comes", I WILL understand, and all my objections will vanish because I suddenly grok what its all about.  But you also suggest that the point at which the truth is revealed to me will be too late - so I must accept something I oppose and do not understand in the hopes that it will be proved right.....despite the fact that currently I think it is all wrong.

Now, that's not to say that, in reality, god does NOT have all the right answers.....but to me it is a major stumbling block for a "good" god that he chooses to ONLY reveal the "why" when it is too late to make a decision based on it.  I cannot sqaure that with "loving".

Bottom line: you firmly believe that the things you do which you know are wrong do not need to be accounted for.

Sorry, when did I say that?  What do I "know is wrong" that I still do?  I do the things I believe to be RIGHT.  If I did the things you tell me god wants me to do, I would be supporting a system I believe to be wrong.  So I don't understand this sentence at all, sorry.


Especially when you examine the criteria for going there, which in the broad is "not accepting Christ". 

A typical abdication of responsibility, and a dismissal of the idea that it is your wrongdoing and rebellion against God that made Christ's death necessary. Mocking Christ, denying Christ even existed.

Muslims all tell me different.  So do Hindus. 

The problem with a believer is that they have the "inside track" on their faith - they are positive it is correct, and cannot understand why someone would not believe.  But to me, from the outside of them all, that last sentence of yours means no more to me NOW than the Muslim telling me that by not making the 5 salaat I am mocking and denying Allah.

If you truly never believed God or turned against Him, you have nothing to worry about.

Splendid news!

So no - I cannot conceive of any reason why a loving god who wants us to be saved would ever have the need to create and eternal, terrible, necessary hell.

Same response again. Only you can know what you truly know. And God.

Indeed.  Same response as I made.  And, it seems, nor can YOU square that circle for me, because your response has not to be "well, it's right because ....." and detail in full all the reasons I am wrong.  Rather, your response was that we cannot understand, but just hope we've picked right.  The only justification for hell I have picked out is "god id god, and might is right" rather than to fully explain the ethical system by which a loving god maintains an eternal hell for (apparently) trivial crimes.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 23, 2013, 02:57:22 AM
Magicmiles, JeffPT said we're forced to do X in order to accomplish Y.  He did not say that we're just outright forced to do X.  The latter strawman is what you chose to so vigorously denounce.  Why'd you do that?

I thought it was clear I was disputing the need for Y.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 23, 2013, 03:00:38 AM
So in other words, you don't dispute what he actually said in the quote you were replying to.

Glad we agree you were making a strawman.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 23, 2013, 03:08:12 AM
Isn't telling someone "in other words" a kind of strawman of it's own?

No, not in other words. In my words. My words dispute Jeff's assertion.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 23, 2013, 03:10:33 AM
Isn't telling someone "in other words" a kind of strawman of it's own?

Not if, as in this case, it's true.

No, not in other words. In my words. My words dispute Jeff's assertion.

Now you're just lying.  Your response had nothing to do with what Jeff was even talking about.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 23, 2013, 03:11:31 AM
Hang on: do you mean I don't dispute the literal words he used? If so, then of course not. But I don't see any strawman in my reply.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 23, 2013, 03:15:55 AM
Well, of course you dispute what he didn't actually say in the text you were responding to.  That's what a strawman is.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 23, 2013, 03:20:41 AM

No, not in other words. In my words. My words dispute Jeff's assertion.

Now you're just lying.  Your response had nothing to do with what Jeff was even talking about.

Yes it did. Perhaps you just can't see it. I'll wait and see what Jeff thinks, in any event.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 23, 2013, 04:56:46 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?

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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Ron Jeremy on May 23, 2013, 07:04:41 AM
As an add on to Anfauglir's post and point about freedom in heaven, what if a theist arrived there and after a few thousand years found they hated it; could they leave?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Tonus on May 23, 2013, 09:42:23 AM
Again, following Christ isn't for you - it seems to me that in the gospels when a miracle of Jesus is described with more than just a passing remark, the person's faith precedes the event and not visa versa - miracles were done in response to faith (Mt8:2, Mt9:28) and not to generate faith.  If Jesus performed his miracles to induce a faith response then what do you make of Mt13:58 and 16:4?

There are many examples of people putting faith in Jesus before he performs miracles, but there are many examples of the opposite, as well.

In Matthew 8:23-27 Jesus calms a stormy sea because the disciples lacked faith, for which he admonishes them.  In Matthew 9:2-8 he heals a paralytic in response to the lack of faith of the pharisees, and the crowd praises god after he performs the miracle.  He then raises a girl from the dead.  The girl's father had faith that Jesus could do this, but the crowds that mourned the girl mocked Jesus until he performed the miracle.

In Matthew 11 he performs many miracles in response to John the Baptist's curious question ("are you the one who is to come, or should we expect another?").  In Matthew 14, Jesus grants Peter the ability to walk on water in response to his doubt that it is Jesus who approaches them in the same manner.  Yet the miracle isn't enough to bolster Peter's faith, and he begins to sink.  He again calms a stormy sea and the disciples marvel at this.

There are many similar events in the other gospels, and they are interspersed with events where people showed faith in Jesus before he performed miracles.  Thus, faith does not seem to have been a requirement, and Jesus was willing to perform miracles both to give people faith and in response to their faith.  That may or may not conflict with Matthew 13:58 and 16:4, though (I don't think it necessarily does).
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jtk73 on May 23, 2013, 10:32:08 AM
You know, every once in a while I argue with my dad over the truth value of evolutionary claims.  My dad likes to say: "show me some clear and unmistakeable evidence; show me a monkey turning into a man; show me...". The answer, as I have pointed out is that sometimes if you want to discover the truth you have to do a little work - sucks doesn't it?  Incidentally, do you really think that if the evidence was "clear", we as humans would be unable to find something to disagree about?

Not really a fair comparison. Evolution has a plethora of evidence. Items that you can actually see and touch. Gods have....books (or rather a collection of books and letters). The truth is if someone wanted to research evolution to decide if they could accept it there is a multitude of data that they could examine. If someone wants to research a god to decide if they could accept it, there is ...... a book.

When you say a little work...what exactly do you mean? What is the cut-off? When is it okay to say "Well, I have looked into this and researched this and I still don't find any truths or insights."? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? My guess is that your answer would be "Just keep looking." That doesn't sound like a 'little' work.

If this god is unlimited in power and this truth is the most important truth ever, shouldn't it be easily accessible to every individual? (Just to clarify here - I don't consider having to sift through an incoherent, rambling, inconsistent collection of books in order to find the most important message to be even remotely easy.)

Another problem with your comparison - I accept evolution. If evolution is proven to be completely wrong this afternoon, I would be extremely surprised and very interested but I would go on about my day. I do not accept that there are any gods. If there is a god that wants me to acknowledge it's existence or it will torture me - that's pretty damn important to know. At the very least, I expect that god (assuming that it is the tiniest bit fair) to give me some definitive and meaningful insight into it's existence. Is that really too much to expect from an all-powerful being?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jtk73 on May 23, 2013, 11:29:28 AM
Imagine standing at the edge of an abyss, with the ground around you giving way. You need to cross that abyss. There is only one way, a very narrow bridge. Why this stupid narrow bridge?, you think. Why isn't there a gold plated travelator? Why does this abyss even exist? Stuff it. I'd rather go into the abyss, content in my own superior reasoning.

Here is the problem. Various religious texts and the religious followers of those texts keep telling everyone that there is an abyss. But the abyss appears to be invisible. We don't find any evidence for this abyss. We take a step forward and when we don't fall off into this abyss, the religious follower simply says - "You lucked out that time. You barely had enough solid ground to take that step but the next one...watch out." I don't ask "Why this stupid narrow bridge?" I ask "Where is this abyss that you keep going on about?".

Quote
You might have a whole list of reasons why you think God is wrong and you are right, but you won't get much comfort from them. In fact, I believe you'll get no comfort from them, because when the time comes you'll know you were wrong.

I expect a god to be smarter and wiser that me - at least a tiny bit. Is that really too much to ask? When the god described is no more intelligent than the peoples that it allegedly first revealed itself to...I don't really consider that worthy of recognition or acknowledgement.

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You have been told, repeatedly, that they do need to be accounted for, and will be. With Jesus, they have been.
Great. Then why are we even here discussing this? My horrible crime of a 15 second sexual fantasy this morning has been atoned for. You keep talking like you and all of us just walk around daily telling nasty lies, defecating on people's front lawns, swearing like sailors and punching babies in the face.

Here is what I did yesterday. I woke up, showered, shaved, got some juice and cereal for my son, ate some breakfast, fed the pets, drove to work, did some work with lunch and bathroom breaks in there somewhere, drove home, played with my son and talked with my wife, watched some television, ate supper and went to sleep.

Aside from not glorifying God's name every 15 seconds (plus not believing that he exists) and ogling a woman in a tight shirt at the grocery store, what "horrible" things did I do that deserve punishment, much less eternal torture?

This is what is absolutely ridiculous about Christianity. No matter how good of a life I live. Even if I began believing in and worshiping God (either truthfully or by convincing myself). It would never be good enough. Never lying (even to spare someones feelings), no bad or hurtful thoughts, etc. It would never be enough. That is the horrible lie of Christianity. "You are a horrible, disgusting, worthless piece of garbage. God is going to punish you unless you repent....for being human. P.S. God loves you."

Quote
You reject that. That is your choice.
Oh...so Jesus' sacrifice wasn't enough? He and his father? self? want recognition for it? That seems very needy (a human attribute).

Quote
It's my choice to heed that, because I know in my heart that God exists, and He has the right to punish wrongdoing as He pleases. Non-communicable, yes. (my belief). But I've said that over and over.
So the sacrifice was completely pointless? God is still going to punish for these "horrible" crimes? Then why have the sacrifice at all? *Also I noticed that you indicated that God takes pleasure in punishing.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Jag on May 23, 2013, 11:45:39 AM
According to the new pope, none of this matters anyway - we atheists get into heaven along with the christians as long as we do good works.

Whodathunkit? All this time my intention was to do good works because they need doing, but this guy says even I can get into heaven with him and his buddies. I wonder if there is a way out of it though... I'd hate to have to reconsider my education and career plans to avoid spending eternity with biblegod - he's a right bastard and I can't imagine sitting worshipfully by while he continues his neglectful behavior.

If I'm going after the federal government for their disgusting neglect of our veterans, god sure as hell isn't going to shut me up.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: JeffPT on May 23, 2013, 12:53:55 PM
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. 

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. But what sort of ass hat would I be if I based my opinions of the world we lived in without looking at how it is in other nations and in other parts of the world?  Birth geography and hard work got me to where I am now. 

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? 

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. 

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.  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. 

You are not forced to argue against the existence of God. You want to. You enjoy it.
I never said I was forced to do it.  I made it perfectly clear that the methodology required to effectively argue against the existence of God forces us to argue from the inside, not the outside. 

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. 

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.  You make it sound like school is the only place where children are taught things.  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, see my point above. You want freedom, but not if it has negative consequences. This reasoning essentially translates to a stubborn belief that, if you can't see a purpose for something, a purpose cannot exist.
I'm not saying that a purpose can't exist, MM.  I'm saying that until I am presented with said purpose, then it is reasonable to judge the events in the same way that I judge the events if I were to witness the same sort of thing in any other context.  For example: if I saw my neighbor playing with his kids in the front yard and having a good time, I might think my neighbor is a good guy.  This is how I judge those sorts of things.  But if I saw my neighbor smashing his child's head in with a baseball bat, I would think my neighbor is a pretty bad guy.  I judge that based on what I think of it.  This is reasonable, is it not?  Should I suspend judgement and think, 'he knows more than I do about his child... maybe I should just assume he has a good reason for doing it.'.  No.  Never. 

But here is the kicker with you religious people.  Every good thing that happens... you think you've got God's purpose all figured out.  Know why?  Because you've created this God character and imbued him with all that is good.  So as soon as you see something good, you use the normal reasoning process (fed through your God belief) to say, 'ah, look what God is doing there.  God is so good'.  But when something bad happens, you don't use that same reasoning process anymore.  You don't say, 'ah, look what God is doing there.  What an ass hole.'  You immediately jump away from the normal way you assess good and bad and you say stupid shit like, 'there might be a purpose we just don't know about.'  Bullshit.  You're completely biasing your judgements that way and you know it. 

Also, the implications of what you're saying are staggering...  What you're saying amounts to... 'childhood cancer might have an ultimate purpose'.  Fine, but if you really believe that, you should be celebrating it!  Cheering in the streets for cancer!  Yay Cancer!  But you don't, do you?  You think it's bad, right? 

It's the partial God problem, again and again. God has power, he can stop the pain. That you get on baord with, to make a point. God knows more than you, and there is a reason for this pain. What? Know more than me? Preposterous!
The other possibility, MM, is that you're completely fucking wrong, and good and bad things happen all the time because there is no God overseeing it. Please tell me where that goes wrong for you logically? 

I don't want to use pain as a tool of debate. I grieve right along with you at the pain in the world. But no way is it's existence evidence against God'd existence.

Only in the world of the believer, MM.  Only in the world of the believer.  That's the effects of the brainwashing. 

There are other arguments against God. But they are barely ever discussed.

You don't look at other threads too much, do you? 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 23, 2013, 03:08:09 PM
God knows that many people are worshipping the wrong gods, or not worshipping any gods at all. He also knows exactly what evidence would convince every person on the earth to believe in the correct god.

He clearly knows what it would take to convince each atheist on this board to believe in the correct god. We often have threads where we discuss among ourselves what kind of evidence we would like to see. God could log in and read. But god, for reasons not clear to anyone, chooses not to present that evidence, thus dooming many, many people to hell.

Why, lookee here! This is one of those very threads!

God acts like the parent of a group of sick children, holding the cure for their illness, but refusing to give the medicine to the kids. And never giving a reason why they were not able to give the cure. All the while claiming to love the suffering, sick children and saying that if only they were good enough, they would be able to get the medicine from somewhere. Watching as the kids search the entire house looking for the medicine. And weeping over the plight of the poor misguided kids.

If that is the behavior of a "good" being, I would hate to see what a "bad" being would do. Anytime we try to match god's supposed behavior with anything a reasonable human would expect, god comes up way short. God's morality is not human morality--except that of a few very evil psycho humans. Good thing there aren't many people who act like that god. And good thing that no god being like that really exists.

Thank our lucky stars.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles on May 23, 2013, 05:30:52 PM
I'll catch up on this thread sometime over the weekend hopefully.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 24, 2013, 10:57:27 AM
Again, following Christ isn't for you - it seems to me that in the gospels when a miracle of Jesus is described with more than just a passing remark, the person's faith precedes the event and not visa versa - miracles were done in response to faith (Mt8:2, Mt9:28) and not to generate faith. 

Not true. There are plenty of counterexamples to this - one of them being Thomas - but even if your claim about 'belief before site' were true here you've already admitted that even if you were shown that your theology was completely bunk, and/or all of your arguments for Yahweh failed, you would still believe based upon your alleged 'non-communicable' experience. Now why should we even waste our time having a discussion with you when you suffer from such closed-mindedness? You've basically been exposed as a troll here - in that there isn't anything that could change your view. Your mind is cemented-in to this supposed experience you think you've had and, clearly, no one can convince you otherwise (even in spite of all counter-examples, contrary evidence, and contradiction). How dishonest!

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 24, 2013, 11:36:18 AM
You can certainly hold that opinion, and it's one I can sympathise with because I, like you, am only able to understand crime and punishment within the context of this world.

I am certain that the problem lies with our inability to understand God and His absolute right to judge His creation.

"The problem is Santa Claus is the ultimate judge of who gets presents. You just can't understand that little Tommy." See how you sound? You haven't demonstrated any evidence (or sound reasoning) for thinking this alleged "Yahweh" is real - only that you've assumed your theology (interpretation of the bible) in advance. Yet, anyone can just assume anything (including some alleged "personal experience" which all religions ultimately fall back on when they have nothing to show). But that doesn't make it true and only demonstrates a willingness toward confirmation bias and personal credulity.

And as always, God's salvation is ignored. Hell awaits all who have refused God's salvation.

Just not in any way you can demonstrate...

Imagine standing at the edge of an abyss, with the ground around you giving way. You need to cross that abyss. There is only one way, a very narrow bridge. Why this stupid narrow bridge?, you think. Why isn't there a gold plated travelator? Why does this abyss even exist? Stuff it. I'd rather go into the abyss, content in my own superior reasoning.

Imagine only one pink unicorn that can take you to the other end of the magic invisible eternal-life rainbow, and save you from eternal torment in the bog of eternal rotten maggot marshmellow stench. Why won't you take it! The great and powerful pink flying spaghetti monster is your creator but eternal stench awaits!

Again, see how you sound?

You might have a whole list of reasons why you think God is wrong and you are right, but you won't get much comfort from them. In fact, I believe you'll get no comfort from them, because when the time comes you'll know you were wrong.

Oh no, you are totally wrong. I had a personal non-communicable experience with the god Shriva-Vishnu-Schmorgenborg and hesheit (as was directed to me) told me you are wrong and that I will live forever in bliss if I just believe in myself, follow the path of reason, and reject all religious authority. It's very sophisticated, in-depth, and intricate but there's just nothing you could say to change my mind. I know my experience was true!


Bottom line: you firmly believe that the things you do which you know are wrong do not need to be accounted for. You have been told, repeatedly, that they do need to be accounted for, and will be. With Jesus, they have been. You reject that. That is your choice. It's my choice to heed that, because I know in my heart that God exists, and He has the right to punish wrongdoing as He pleases. Non-communicable, yes. (my belief). But I've said that over and over.

You cannot "know" anything "in your heart" and the fact that you have made this claim shows that you have (in fact) ASSUMED your bible as true from the outset. The heart does no thinking. It pumps blood and often produces FEELING and EMOTION (upon which ultimately your belief is based).

You are wrong to claim that it is our "choice" to reject your claims. Accepting a proposition as true is NOT a choice. Could you accept that 2+2=5? Belief is not a choice. One must be convinced. Your claim of non-communicability (like others here) is no different from any other religion on the planet. It's a defense mechanism designed to protect your belief system from falsification. It's the ultimate backup plan. "I know my beliefs sounds irrational...but I had an experience which I can't communicate to you. I believe!!!!" How sad that you are willing to practice such credulity in such hypocrisy. Mere "personal experience" is insufficient. It isn't anywhere near extraordinary evidence and the fact that you have nothing but it as a foundation to rest your entire life upon is sufficient reason to seriously doubt that you have any idea what you're talking about.

What you are demonstrating here is fundamentally no different from plain old superstition. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 24, 2013, 12:12:02 PM
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.

Wrong. That isn't my argument at all. As it pertains to this forum's topic (WWGHA) my argument is that the fact that this alleged deity sits back with indifference as billions of people suffer and die (including billions of children before the age of 5) demonstrates that this deity is 1) NOT LOVING, and 2) (and even more importantly) MYTHICAL AND MAN-MADE!

The facts simply don't square up to your presupposition/pre-commitment.

Yeah, see my point above. You want freedom, but not if it has negative consequences. This reasoning essentially translates to a stubborn belief that, if you can't see a purpose for something, a purpose cannot exist. It's the partial God problem, again and again. God has power, he can stop the pain. That you get on baord with, to make a point. God knows more than you, and there is a reason for this pain. What? Know more than me? Preposterous!

You do realize that you sound just like a credulous 8 year old who says he has an invisible friend named Fred and will argue ad nauseum that Fred is real, right? But there is more to the alleged story than you are letting on. This Yahweh deity thing is supposed to be "all loving". But when we point out clear instances (indeed counter-examples) of how this isn't true you just start spinning/rationalizing. And this is all because you don't just have a presupposition. You have a PRE-COMMITMENT to your belief in the bible and your theology which blocks you from considering any other interpretation of the facts.

Again, merely CLAIMING "God knows more" means nothing because you haven't demonstrated that this alleged thing exists. You just keep saying it over and over (like the 8 year old). I'm sorry if this is offensive but it's exactly how you sound. You've bought into a belief system BEFORE ever doing any investigation, research, critical thinking, or analysis. And you're frustrated why we won't accept your presumed theology. Yet, in one form or another, every religion tries to do what you are doing, and it's irrational, credulous, and arrogant. You cannot assume your position is the correct one. You need to demonstrate it.


median

p.s. - I'll take my freedom with consequences from reality, not superstition. Thank you.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: epidemic on May 24, 2013, 01:56:35 PM
personally I would not reject god if i believed the xyz bible.

My rejection is not of god as a being/entity,  my rejection is not self serving, I reject religion because I simply do not believe that as described god exists.

Were god to prove his existance through global miracle or simply communicating with me directly in a way as to not make me believe I was insane and he explained to me that he created the universe, the king james bible was the book i was to follow ...

Dude I would be all in.  I would begin spreading the word myself if he asked.

I have not seen any evidence in my life of magic, spiritual guidance... everything I see leads me down the same path.  Man created religion and god, not the other way around.


Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 25, 2013, 12:37:40 AM
Again, following Christ isn't for you - it seems to me that in the gospels when a miracle of Jesus is described with more than just a passing remark, the person's faith precedes the event and not visa versa - miracles were done in response to faith (Mt8:2, Mt9:28) and not to generate faith. 

Not true. There are plenty of counterexamples to this - one of them being Thomas - but even if your claim about 'belief before site' were true here you've already admitted that even if you were shown that your theology was completely bunk, and/or all of your arguments for Yahweh failed, you would still believe based upon your alleged 'non-communicable' experience. Now why should we even waste our time having a discussion with you when you suffer from such closed-mindedness? You've basically been exposed as a troll here - in that there isn't anything that could change your view. Your mind is cemented-in to this supposed experience you think you've had and, clearly, no one can convince you otherwise (even in spite of all counter-examples, contrary evidence, and contradiction). How dishonest!

     I thought it was interesting that above you used the phrase 'belief before site' when in my original post what I actually said was that "faith precedes the event and not visa versa" - I think this is a significant change because I do not consider 'belief' and 'faith' to be synonymous.  You also claimed that "even if were shown that [my] theology was completely bunk, and/or all of [my] arguments for Yahweh failed, would still believe based upon [my] alleged 'non-communicable' experience".  If you look at my original post (#48) what I actually said was that, "I could conceivably give up every single one of the theist arguments and so long as I still was experiencing Christ it wouldn’t matter."  Theist arguments, as I also explained earlier in post #48, refer to generic arguments like the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments and not to any evaluations of specific Christian claims (e.g. the resurrection) - it would be a different story if my belief in the resurrection or the logical coherence of the Christian concept of God were challenged - those I did not say I could give up. 
     As for your claim that my actions on this forum exhibit 'trollishness', dishonesty, and closemindedness; I suggest that you report me to one of the moderators (of which you are not one), and if they object to my behavior then I would be willing to politely leave.  Incidentally, in post #75 I already responded to your accusation that I am closed minded and argued that even if I am closed minded it could actually add to the discussion we are having - you never responded.  Also, I wonder if you have even bothered to read the WWGHA website; specifically I am referring to the last entry under 'resources' labeled "are you a devoted, unwavering Christian?"  In this section you will find the following quotes: "If you are a devoted, unwavering Christian, you know that God is real because you have seen him work in your own life...Think of your testimony as a missionary activity. Let your light shine and be a fisher of men by helping others to understand what faith in God really means.  Thank you for visiting today -- We look forward to hearing from you." I'm just wondering what on earth makes you think that that statement is looking to attract 'open-minded', wavering Christians??
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 25, 2013, 01:25:59 AM
     It [reading the IEP article I suggested] would be pointless as you could only ever gage another opinion. And whether it is their opinion that personal experience can constitute evidence makes it a moot point. You’re simply using one opinion to justify another opinion! Which is merely an appeal to authority, a huge fail.  Personal experiences cannot be counted as evidence unless they can be or were able to be observed by others. "feelings" aren't evidence. To say that an anecdote or a series of cases or personal experiences may constitute evidence for something, is not necessarily the same as to say it constitutes conclusive proof. It is ok to hear it, but not ok to take it as verbatim.

     I find it interesting that you would balk at reading the article that I suggested (an article on a reputable website written by a competent author) by claiming that I am just referring you to 'another opinion' and that I am using an 'appeal to authority'.  First of all, if you think that my suggestion is an illegitimate appeal to authority then I suggest you visit the Nizkor project where under the heading 'fallacy: appeal to authority' there is a list of six criteria that must be met for an appeal to an authority to be justified - simply point out which of the six criteria my source fails to meet.  Second, I find it massively ironic that after accusing me of appealing to an authority, you yourself later in your post cite Wikipedia?? in an attempt to justify your claim that the personal experience that millions of Christians claim to have is anecdotal.  If ever there was a case of someone 'using one opinion to justify another opinion'...this is it.

Humanity's capacity for self-delusion is limitless.

     I don't know if you read it, but in post#67 I did attempt to respond to a similar objection. 

     And also ‘Quirkology’ by Richard Wiseman is another way of explaining why personal experience fails. From Quirkology "20 people were asked to persuade a relative to participate in a study about childhood memories. The recruiters were asked to supply a photograph of the person as a child, and three other photographs of the person as a child participating in events. The first photograph was manipulated to produce a false photograph of a trip in a hot air balloon. The participants were then shown the three real photographs and one false one and asked to describe the events in the photos. About one third “remembered” the event in the hot air balloon. By the third interview, half of the participants were able to “remember” and describe in great detail their trip in the hot air balloon. Because the people thought they should remember the event, their brains helpfully supplied them with a vivid and detailed memory. "

     I really do appreciate the link that you gave me here; Mr. Wiseman is very entertaining and makes some good points as well - my favorite video was "The Prediction" (I know how he does it, but I still had to participate twice).  Regarding his memory experiment, I think it is important to note that Mr. Wiseman was able to 'plant' a memory into the minds of his recruits, not an experience - at the end of the experiment his subjects 'remembered' being in a hot air balloon; they didn't think they were actually in a hot air balloon at that very moment.  An experience with Christ is about more than just remembering what you felt when you were 'converted'.  I do wonder, however, If you have completely explored his website, because anyone who has knows that most of videos (e.g. color changing card trick, the psychological card trick, the mirror, etc...) question our ability to make accurate empirical observations rather than questioning the reliability of rational introspection - don't the conclusions of his videos worry you a bit?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DVZ3 on May 25, 2013, 08:48:30 AM
This has been quite an interesting thread...  :-\

It's intereting to hear from people like the ole bloke FaithKilometers or MagicMillimeters or whatever his name is because it isn't him that I care about anymore.  All I can start to think/dream about now is this jesus fellow and everything that people like #WeDon'tAcceptRealityorRationality are saying about that magic guy, miles away in the sky.  It all sounds so intriguing I can't help but become emotional and ignore everything else...

Maybe atheists are the delusional ones.  ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bkhQLt1vbWU (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bkhQLt1vbWU)

I guess it does make sense to have a totally opposite view.  After all, the toielts flush in an entirely different rotational vortex in his neck of the woods.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 25, 2013, 03:31:21 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
     It [reading the IEP article I suggested] would be pointless as you could only ever gauge another opinion. And whether it is their opinion that personal experience can constitute evidence makes it a moot point. You’re simply using one opinion to justify another opinion! Which is merely an appeal to authority, a huge fail.  Personal experiences cannot be counted as evidence unless they can be or were able to be observed by others. "feelings" aren't evidence. To say that an anecdote or a series of cases or personal experiences may constitute evidence for something, is not necessarily the same as to say it constitutes conclusive proof. It is ok to hear it, but not ok to take it as verbatim.

I find it interesting that you would balk at reading the article that I suggested (an article on a reputable website written by a competent author) by claiming that I am just referring you to 'another opinion' and that I am using an 'appeal to authority'.
I'm not unwilling to accept an idea if it is something tangible, and not merely your opinion from a different source. All you did was supply a more authoritarian version of your opinion hence the appeal to authority. You need to understand that.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
First of all, if you think that my suggestion is an illegitimate appeal to authority then I suggest you visit the Nizkor project where under the heading 'fallacy: appeal to authority' there is a list of six criteria that must be met for an appeal to an authority to be justified - simply point out which of the six criteria my source fails to meet.
Whether it's someone, be they alleged expert or not, they can only give an opinion, (and yet you site them as a back up source), I'm sorry that is an appeal to authority. As they cannot possibly be an expert on the imaginary/supernatural, because the supernatural would have to be proven before there could be any expert on it.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Second, I find it massively ironic that after accusing me of appealing to an authority, you yourself later in your post cite Wikipedia?? in an attempt to justify your claim that the personal experience that millions of Christians claim to have is anecdotal.  If ever there was a case of someone 'using one opinion to justify another opinion'...this is it.
Lol, but was it the only source supplied, or did I supply several sources to show how personal experiences fails.
Also can you show that it is anything other than anecdotal, I would very much like to see it. It would be a first. A story is just a story until there is sufficient evidence to verify the claims in the story.

Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
Humanity's capacity for self-delusion is limitless.
I don't know if you read it, but in post#67 I did attempt to respond to a similar objection.
Not an objection a statement of fact. Four fifths of the planet are religious after all and not to mention celebrity, lunacy, etc...

Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
And also ‘Quirkology’ by Richard Wiseman is another way of explaining why personal experience fails. From Quirkology "20 people were asked to persuade a relative to participate in a study about childhood memories. The recruiters were asked to supply a photograph of the person as a child, and three other photographs of the person as a child participating in events. The first photograph was manipulated to produce a false photograph of a trip in a hot air balloon. The participants were then shown the three real photographs and one false one and asked to describe the events in the photos. About one third “remembered” the event in the hot air balloon. By the third interview, half of the participants were able to “remember” and describe in great detail their trip in the hot air balloon. Because the people thought they should remember the event, their brains helpfully supplied them with a vivid and detailed memory. "
I really do appreciate the link that you gave me here; Mr. Wiseman is very entertaining and makes some good points as well - my favorite video was "The Prediction" (I know how he does it, but I still had to participate twice).  Regarding his memory experiment, I think it is important to note that Mr. Wiseman was able to 'plant' a memory into the minds of his recruits, not an experience
And yours is different how! Where does yours interact with reality. All your experience is; Is a self-implanted memory. How do you think memories are formed? He implanted a memory that there minds accepted as an experience. If they were never told it was bogus they would still believe it happened now, and would argue till they were blue in the face, that they experienced it.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
at the end of the experiment his subjects 'remembered' being in a hot air balloon; they didn't think they were actually in a hot air balloon at that very moment.
You're clutching at straws. No they didn't, sorry you're wrong. It wasn't until they were told it was bogus, did they at all feel that they hadn't experienced it.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
  An experience with Christ is about more than just remembering what you felt when you were 'converted'.  I do wonder, however, If you have completely explored his website, because anyone who has knows that most of videos (e.g. color changing card trick, the psychological card trick, the mirror, etc...) question our ability to make accurate empirical observations rather than questioning the reliability of rational introspection - don't the conclusions of his videos worry you a bit?
No! Why would they?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 26, 2013, 01:56:50 AM
     If this god is unlimited in power and this truth is the most important truth ever, shouldn't it be easily accessible to every individual? (Just to clarify here - I don't consider having to sift through an incoherent, rambling, inconsistent collection of books in order to find the most important message to be even remotely easy.)... If there is a god that wants me to acknowledge it's existence or it will torture me - that's pretty damn important to know. At the very least, I expect that god (assuming that it is the tiniest bit fair) to give me some definitive and meaningful insight into it's existence. Is that really too much to expect from an all-powerful being?

Just wondering if you would agree that the following accurately describes your view of God, hell, and the scriptures:
1. if hell exists (a place of unspeakable, eternal torture) and:
2. if a God exists who possesses the attributes of power, love, and knowledge to a maximal degree and:
3. if humans are truly free in their actions (which would make a warning of an eternal hell relevant), then:
4. God would desire to present the clearest possible warning to us of such a place
5. We do not have a clear warning, therefore:
6. the Being described in (2) does not exist
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 26, 2013, 04:16:55 AM

Quote from: greenandwhite
Just wondering if you would agree that the following accurately describes your view of God, hell, and the scriptures:
It doesn't and it is a loaded question. This is why:
1. if hell exists (a place of unspeakable, eternal torture) and:
2. if a god exists who possesses the attributes of power, love, and knowledge to a maximal degree and:
3. if humans are truly free in their actions (which would make a warning of an eternal hell relevant) Why?, then:
4. God would desire to present the clearest possible warning to us of such a place Again why?
5.We do not have a clear warning, therefore: Doesn't apply, reasoning not forthcoming.
6. the Being described in (2) does not exist Also doesn't apply, a creature so full of love to a maximal degree would not have the propensity to do anything bad. thus would not create such a place, only a creature that isn't full of love to a maximal degree, a malevolent creature would create such a place.

And loaded because you are trying to suggest that, all humans are malevolent too. If we were, the species would have died out a long time ago.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 27, 2013, 01:19:38 AM

Quote from: greenandwhite
Just wondering if you would agree that the following accurately describes your view of God, hell, and the scriptures:
It doesn't and it is a loaded question. This is why:
1. if hell exists (a place of unspeakable, eternal torture) and:
2. if a god exists who possesses the attributes of power, love, and knowledge to a maximal degree and:
3. if humans are truly free in their actions (which would make a warning of an eternal hell relevant) Why?, then:
4. God would desire to present the clearest possible warning to us of such a place Again why?
5.We do not have a clear warning, therefore: Doesn't apply, reasoning not forthcoming.
6. the Being described in (2) does not exist Also doesn't apply, a creature so full of love to a maximal degree would not have the propensity to do anything bad. thus would not create such a place, only a creature that isn't full of love to a maximal degree, a malevolent creature would create such a place.

And loaded because you are trying to suggest that, all humans are malevolent too. If we were, the species would have died out a long time ago.

     I think that in a debate every question is a loaded question; after all, if one asks a question but does not have in mind a point to be made, then what's the point of asking the question in the first place? 
     I wrote this post in response to post #371 in which I felt that jtk73 was taking several assumptions of Christianity and arguing that accepting all of them leads to an inconsistency.  I was just trying to make sure that I was accurately recognizing the implicit and explicit assumptions that jtk73 was making.  If you don't feel that this was the best way of going about things then I can accept your opinion; how about if I phrase things differently and attempt to cut to the chase right away. 
     It seems to me that jtk73 was assuming a place of 'torture' and, for the sake of argument, an all-powerful, 'fair' being who is described in an 'incoherent, rambling, inconsistent collection of books'.  From my reading on this forum, it seems to be a common sentiment that the Bible is incoherent, rambling, and inconsistent; it has also been stated on numerous occasions that hell is a place of unspeakable, eternal torture for those who do not accept the message found in God's incoherent books about himself.  What I am wondering is how the members of this forum can categorically state that the Bible is practically bursting at its seams with contradictions and impossible to understand passages, and yet at the same time be so certain that the description of hell found within the same book is so crystal clear.  I have never seen anyone say "maybe God is loving and we have just misunderstood the significance of the descriptions of hell offered in the Bible.  That kind of an approach would seem to be much more sensible considering the paltry handful of references to hell when compared to the number of passages that talk about God's nature and person.   
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 27, 2013, 01:31:10 AM
I for one am more concerned by the judgment of my fellow human beings that I deserve to endure extreme and everlasting torture.  That kind of hatred can be hazardous.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 27, 2013, 01:48:50 AM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
     I find it interesting that you would balk at reading the article that I suggested (an article on a reputable website written by a competent author) by claiming that I am just referring you to 'another opinion' and that I am using an 'appeal to authority'.
     I'm not unwilling to accept an idea if it is something tangible, and not merely your opinion from a different source. All you did was supply a more authoritarian version of your opinion hence the appeal to authority. You need to understand that.
     I am just wondering, can you explain to me the difference between legitimate and illegitimate appeals to authority?

As they cannot possibly be an expert on the imaginary/supernatural, because the supernatural would have to be proven before there could be any expert on it.

     You know, this is an interesting concept that you have just introduced - one cannot be an expert about something until it is proven.  Albert Einstein died in 1955, but before he died he did a tremendous amount of work in the field of general relativity.  In fact, he proposed a test whereby the validity of his theory could be proven: measure the precession of the perihelion of mercury and if the measurements obtained match those predicted by his theory, general relativity would be 'proven'. The interesting thing is that as time has gone on scientists have developed more and more accurate means of making this measurement, meaning that today the theory of general relativity is proven with greater certainty than it was in 1955.  And now we see the true genius of Einstein, despite the fact that he has been dead for more than 60 years he has found a way to continue to increase his expertise even from the grave - and he has you to thank. 

Quote from: Greenandwhite

     I do wonder, however, If you have completely explored his website, because anyone who has knows that most of videos (e.g. color changing card trick, the psychological card trick, the mirror, etc...) question our ability to make accurate empirical observations rather than questioning the reliability of rational introspection - don't the conclusions of his videos worry you a bit?
No! Why would they?

     They should worry you because they directly illustrate how people can easily be mistaken in the empirical observations that they make thereby undercutting the supposed reliability of the scientific method which I am assuming you think is the only way to actually gain knowledge.  In fact, I'll bet it took less effort for Mr. Wiseman to fool his subjects in his card trick experiment than it did in his memory experiment. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 27, 2013, 02:15:17 AM
I for one am more concerned by the judgment of my fellow human beings that I deserve to endure extreme and everlasting torture.  That kind of hatred can be hazardous.

     First, I think that those Christians who characterize hell as a place of 'everlasting torture' do so in a universal sense (e.g. it is the 'place' we are all headed absent some kind of a divine intervention), so the 'hatred' would be self directed as well. 
     Second, just wondering what exactly you mean be the phrase 'that kind of hatred can be hazardous', because it seems to me that Christians who believe in hell are the ones most likely to put themselves in harms way in an effort to prevent others from going there. 
     Third, whether a person is an atheist or a Christian I would be willing to oppose them if they think that the Biblical descriptions of hell should be understood in a hyperliteral sense.  If I do not win the debate the consequences for me could be unpleasant; you see, if one interprets the Biblical descriptions of hell hyperliterally, then it would only make sense to do the same with the descriptions of heaven.  The literal descriptions of heaven found in the Bible seem absurd and even worse, boring; after a couple thousand years I might be inclined to leave heaven and join the unfortunate in hell. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 27, 2013, 10:21:13 AM
1. Assuming they don't expect to go there themselves, they must feel that their works (including belief behavior) has merited salvation from that fate.  Ie., they don't really deserve that fate anymore.  If they did, and their god didn't send them there, then their god would be violating its own sense of justice.
  Even if it is self-directed for the person in question, I don't particularly care how (s)he feels about his or her self.  A self-hating person who hates you, still hates you.

2. That sort of action only makes sense for people who don't believe that others deserve to go to hell.  "Turn or burn" is a more common attitude, in my experience.

3. Glad to hear it.  Though I doubt that such people are really drawing from the Bible for most of their hell-beliefs.  More likely they got it from their pastor or whoever.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 27, 2013, 12:50:27 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
Quote from: greenandwhite
Just wondering if you would agree that the following accurately describes your view of God, hell, and the scriptures:
It doesn't and it is a loaded question. This is why:
1. if hell exists (a place of unspeakable, eternal torture) and:
2. if a god exists who possesses the attributes of power, love, and knowledge to a maximal degree and:
3. if humans are truly free in their actions (which would make a warning of an eternal hell relevant) Why?, then:
4. God would desire to present the clearest possible warning to us of such a place Again why?
5.We do not have a clear warning, therefore: Doesn't apply, reasoning not forthcoming.
6. the Being described in (2) does not exist Also doesn't apply, a creature so full of love to a maximal degree would not have the propensity to do anything bad. thus would not create such a place, only a creature that isn't full of love to a maximal degree, a malevolent creature would create such a place.

And loaded because you are trying to suggest that, all humans are malevolent too. If we were, the species would have died out a long time ago.
I think that in a debate every question is a loaded question;
Well this one certainly has and thanks for the concession.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
after all, if one asks a question but does not have in mind a point to be made, then what's the point of asking the question in the first place?
Probably to get at the truth. 
Quote from: Greenandwhite
I wrote this post in response to post #371 in which I felt that jtk73 was taking several assumptions of Christianity and arguing that accepting all of them leads to an inconsistency.  I was just trying to make sure that I was accurately recognizing the implicit and explicit assumptions that jtk73 was making.  If you don't feel that this was the best way of going about things then I can accept your opinion; how about if I phrase things differently and attempt to cut to the chase right away. 
It seems to me that jtk73 was assuming a place of 'torture' and, for the sake of argument, an all-powerful, 'fair' being who is described in an 'incoherent, rambling, inconsistent collection of books'.  From my reading on this forum, it seems to be a common sentiment that the Bible is incoherent, rambling, and inconsistent; it has also been stated on numerous occasions that hell is a place of unspeakable, eternal torture for those who do not accept the message found in God's incoherent books about himself.  What I am wondering is how the members of this forum can categorically state that the Bible is practically bursting at its seams with contradictions and impossible to understand passages, and yet at the same time be so certain that the description of hell found within the same book is so crystal clear.  I have never seen anyone say "maybe God is loving and we have just misunderstood the significance of the descriptions of hell offered in the Bible.  That kind of an approach would seem to be much more sensible considering the paltry handful of references to hell when compared to the number of passages that talk about God's nature and person.
Well all I can state is a paraphrase of - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, The god of the bible is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Because of the way this God character is portraited in the bible, it infers to all that hell will be the most nastiest place imaginable. Also most of the scriptures in regard to hell also infer the same. I.E.
    Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
    Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”
    Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”
    Revelation 14:11 “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night”
    Revelation 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire”
    Revelation 20:15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”
To name just a few.

Oh and when you are discussing a book of fiction, (which some like you think is true) it matters not to those who consider it fiction to state on the one hand it is full of contradictions and on the other state what hell is like, it is all imaginary to them anyway. They are just trying to understand your mentality, in that regard.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 27, 2013, 01:48:19 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
Quote from: Greenandwhite
I find it interesting that you would balk at reading the article that I suggested (an article on a reputable website written by a competent author) by claiming that I am just referring you to 'another opinion' and that I am using an 'appeal to authority'.
I'm not unwilling to accept an idea if it is something tangible, and not merely your opinion from a different source. All you did was supply a more authoritarian version of your opinion hence the appeal to authority. You need to understand that.
First of all, if you think that my suggestion is an illegitimate appeal to authority then I suggest you visit the Nizkor project where under the heading 'fallacy: appeal to authority' there is a list of six criteria that must be met for an appeal to an authority to be justified - simply point out which of the six criteria my source fails to meet.
Whether it's someone, be they alleged expert or not, they can only give an opinion, (and yet you site them as a back up source), I'm sorry that is an appeal to authority.
I am just wondering, can you explain to me the difference between legitimate and illegitimate appeals to authority?
The person you choose to link too wasn't an authority as he could not possibly be as already stated in  my previous post. Thus he failed on all six of your nizkor criteria. Unless you can show how he passed that is.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
As they cannot possibly be an expert on the imaginary/supernatural, because the supernatural would have to be proven before there could be any expert on it.
You know, this is an interesting concept that you have just introduced - one cannot be an expert about something until it is proven. Albert Einstein died in 1955, but before he died he did a tremendous amount of work in the field of general relativity.  In fact, he proposed a test whereby the validity of his theory could be proven: measure the precession of the perihelion of mercury and if the measurements obtained match those predicted by his theory, general relativity would be 'proven'. The interesting thing is that as time has gone on scientists have developed more and more accurate means of making this measurement, meaning that today the theory of general relativity is proven with greater certainty than it was in 1955.  And now we see the true genius of Einstein, despite the fact that he has been dead for more than 60 years he has found a way to continue to increase his expertise even from the grave
Strawman, didn't say one cannot be an expert about something until it is proven. What I said was one cannot possibly be an expert on the imaginary/supernatural, because the supernatural would have to be proven before there could be any expert on it. Where can a person find facts about the supernatural to base a theory on? 
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
Quote from: Greenandwhite
I do wonder, however, If you have completely explored his website, because anyone who has knows that most of videos (e.g. color changing card trick, the psychological card trick, the mirror, etc...) question our ability to make accurate empirical observations rather than questioning the reliability of rational introspection - don't the conclusions of his videos worry you a bit?
No! Why would they?
They should worry you because they directly illustrate how people can easily be mistaken in the empirical observations that they make thereby undercutting the supposed reliability of the scientific method which I am assuming you think is the only way to actually gain knowledge.
No it doesn't bother me, as I and anybody who wishes to know the truth will seek several sources, and would Filch proof it, I or they would never only rely on there own perception. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/field_guide_to_critical_thinking/ You should have realized that, when you were talking about Einsteins theory.  Science is empirical, nobody can be an expert until they can empirically prove there assertions, which Einstein could.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 28, 2013, 01:06:23 AM
Because of the way this God character is portraited in the bible, it infers to all that hell will be the most nastiest place imaginable. Also most of the scriptures in regard to hell also infer the same. I.E.
    Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
    Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”
    Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”
    Revelation 14:11 “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night”
    Revelation 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire”
    Revelation 20:15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”
To name just a few.

Oh and when you are discussing a book of fiction, (which some like you think is true) it matters not to those who consider it fiction to state on the one hand it is full of contradictions and on the other state what hell is like, it is all imaginary to them anyway. They are just trying to understand your mentality, in that regard.

     My mentality would be that these verses are not meant to be literal descriptions of 'hell'.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 28, 2013, 01:18:43 AM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
     They should worry you because they directly illustrate how people can easily be mistaken in the empirical observations that they make thereby undercutting the supposed reliability of the scientific method which I am assuming you think is the only way to actually gain knowledge.
     No it doesn't bother me, as I and anybody who wishes to know the truth will seek several sources, and would Filch proof it, I or they would never only rely on there own perception. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/field_guide_to_critical_thinking/ You should have realized that, when you were talking about Einsteins theory.  Science is empirical, nobody can be an expert until they can empirically prove there assertions, which Einstein could.

     Wishing to know the truth you would seek 'several sources'...sources that would be susceptible to the same perceptual pitfalls as yourself?  I have no doubt that the 'Filch proof' method works well in assessing claims so long as it is fed reliable data - unfortunately, before you can use the Filch proof you must collect the data with your senses; senses that have been shown by Mr Wiseman to be fallible.  Now I don't believe for a minute (nor do you) that the results of Mr Wiseman's experiments cast significant doubt on what we as humans have learned through the scientific method, so is it fair to say that to render a method of acquiring knowledge unreliable one has to do more than simply point to a possible scenario where that method could produce false results?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 28, 2013, 02:10:35 AM
     I thought it was interesting that above you used the phrase 'belief before site' when in my original post what I actually said was that "faith precedes the event and not visa versa" - I think this is a significant change because I do not consider 'belief' and 'faith' to be synonymous.  You also claimed that "even if were shown that [my] theology was completely bunk, and/or all of [my] arguments for Yahweh failed,  would still believe based upon [my] alleged 'non-communicable' experience".  If you look at my original post (#48) what I actually said was that, "I could conceivably give up every single one of the theist arguments and so long as I still was experiencing Christ it wouldn’t matter."  Theist arguments, as I also explained earlier in post #48, refer to generic arguments like the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments and not to any evaluations of specific Christian claims (e.g. the resurrection) - it would be a different story if my belief in the resurrection or the logical coherence of the Christian concept of God were challenged - those I did not say I could give up. 
   

Huh? The "logical coherence"??? There is no logical coherence is this alleged Yahweh being. Had you not ASSUMED the bible was "the word of God" at the outset you would have realized that. This is why when we non-believers start pointing out how irrational the supposed traits of this deity are, you apologists start rationalizing/spinning the data to make it fit into your pre-commitment. And somehow, you'd be willing to let all the "generic" theist arguments go and still hold on to this "faith" thing, which you somehow claim is different than belief? Can you even hear yourself thinking this stuff up?

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.

Here's an even more important question: What if you didn't think that any of those supernatural claims in the bible were true? Would you still interpret that your alleged "experience" was from Yahweh?? So far, I think I can speak for many of us here when I say that there is good reason to doubt that your alleged experience with Yahweh was actual. It is far more likely that you are simply interpreting an emotional response as such based upon your pre-commitment to your interpretation of the bible. Did you ever consider that? B/c that's what this OP is all about (examining your beliefs).



 As for your claim that my actions on this forum exhibit 'trollishness', dishonesty, and closemindedness; I suggest that you report me to one of the moderators (of which you are not one), and if they object to my behavior then I would be willing to politely leave.  Incidentally, in post #75 I already responded to your accusation that I am closed minded and argued that even if I am closed minded it could actually add to the discussion we are having - you never responded.  Also, I wonder if you have even bothered to read the WWGHA website; specifically I am referring to the last entry under 'resources' labeled "are you a devoted, unwavering Christian?"  In this section you will find the following quotes: "If you are a devoted, unwavering Christian, you know that God is real because you have seen him work in your own life...Think of your testimony as a missionary activity. Let your light shine and be a fisher of men by helping others to understand what faith in God really means.  Thank you for visiting today -- We look forward to hearing from you." I'm just wondering what on earth makes you think that that statement is looking to attract 'open-minded', wavering Christians??

I never claimed the terms open-minded and "unwavering" were synonymous. That is your claim (of which I reject). So the closed-mindedness argument stands. I was an "unwavering" Christian once as well (for nearly 20 years) - attempting to defend it just as you are, but with an open mind not a closed one. I don't really give two shits if you are "unwavering". Great! Be unwavering! That still doesn't change the fact that you haven't demonstrated one single shred of openness to the possibility that your interpretation of your alleged "non-communicable" experience is wrong or in error. Lots of religions claim "personal relationship"/"personal experience" but I got news for you. MOMMY ISN'T ALWAYS RIGHT!!

What you are doing here is demonstrating that you aren't open-minded. You displayed this quite clearly in your first post by claiming some unfalsifiable non-communicable "experience" (indeed you made the ASSUMPTION that your interpretation was accurate - which is self diagnoses) which your mom psychologically prepped you for when you were at a very impressionable age. You bought it (just as most kids do all over the world) and now you're unwilling to question it's very foundation.

So you came to this thread to make a statement that only LOOKS LIKE a potentiality for falsification (i.e. - "lose my experieice with Christ") but really is not at all. What a troll! How can one "lose" an experience? It is your very interpretation of  this alleged experience that I am driving at, and putting under question. I am fully aware that nearly every Christian claims to have "an experience with Christ" (I used to make the same arguments!) but they are mistaken - and as my OP alludes to - I am asking you religionists to practice a little bit more open-mindedness (and critical thinking). So, how about trying it a second time huh? What would it REALLY take for you to change your view (i.e. - reverse it)? And please be specific.

And just because I'm feeling charitable, here's mine in three words: OVERWHELMING DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median on May 28, 2013, 02:47:16 AM
     Wishing to know the truth you would seek 'several sources'...sources that would be susceptible to the same perceptual pitfalls as yourself?  I have no doubt that the 'Filch proof' method works well in assessing claims so long as it is fed reliable data - unfortunately, before you can use the Filch proof you must collect the data with your senses; senses that have been shown by Mr Wiseman to be fallible.  Now I don't believe for a minute (nor do you) that the results of Mr Wiseman's experiments cast significant doubt on what we as humans have learned through the scientific method, so is it fair to say that to render a method of acquiring knowledge unreliable one has to do more than simply point to a possible scenario where that method could produce false results?

And somehow I get the impression that you think the bible is not subject to these "perceptual pitfalls"?? What good is an alleged holy book that anyone can choose to interpret in any fashion they please (at any time) - based upon the general theological presumptions from which their environment raised them? Who gets the final say on what interpretation is the correct one? More importantly, why are you interpreting the bible favorably (as if it's supernatural claims are facts) instead of doing critical examination while suspending judgment? Again, these claims you are making are indistinguishable from superstition.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 28, 2013, 03:23:07 AM
     Third, whether a person is an atheist or a Christian I would be willing to oppose them if they think that the Biblical descriptions of hell should be understood in a hyperliteral sense.  If I do not win the debate the consequences for me could be unpleasant; you see, if one interprets the Biblical descriptions of hell hyperliterally, then it would only make sense to do the same with the descriptions of heaven.  The literal descriptions of heaven found in the Bible seem absurd and even worse, boring; after a couple thousand years I might be inclined to leave heaven and join the unfortunate in hell.

    Revelation 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire” (etc)
.
     My mentality would be that these verses are not meant to be literal descriptions of 'hell'.

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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 28, 2013, 02:38:10 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.)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 28, 2013, 04:02:06 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
My mentality would be that these verses are not meant to be literal descriptions of 'hell'.
Then you need to define for us, which verses are literal and which are not, and also you need to show us how your definitions are the correct ones, Can you do that?

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: bertatberts on May 28, 2013, 04:03:30 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
Quote from: bertatberts
Quote from: Greenandwhite
They should worry you because they directly illustrate how people can easily be mistaken in the empirical observations that they make thereby undercutting the supposed reliability of the scientific method which I am assuming you think is the only way to actually gain knowledge.
No it doesn't bother me, as I and anybody who wishes to know the truth will seek several sources, and would Filch proof it, I or they would never only rely on there own perception. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/field_guide_to_critical_thinking/ You should have realized that, when you were talking about Einsteins theory.  Science is empirical, nobody can be an expert until they can empirically prove there assertions, which Einstein could.
Wishing to know the truth you would seek 'several sources'...sources that would be susceptible to the same perceptual pitfalls as yourself?
Are you a solopsist? The reason we test things is to avoid such problems, to bring those errors out.
Quote from: Greenandwhite
I have no doubt that the 'Filch proof' method works well in assessing claims so long as it is fed reliable data - unfortunately, before you can use the Filch proof you must collect the data with your senses; senses that have been shown by Mr Wiseman to be fallible.  Now I don't believe for a minute (nor do you) that the results of Mr Wiseman's experiments cast significant doubt on what we as humans have learned through the scientific method, so is it fair to say that to render a method of acquiring knowledge unreliable one has to do more than simply point to a possible scenario where that method could produce false results?
No! That is all the science method requires, It does not require anything more.
If a thing fails it fails, looking for more reasons to fail it, is redundant.

If we are constantly looking for reasons to fail a thing we would never move forward.

We test a thing if the thing fails, we try a different approach, or go back to the drawing board.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 28, 2013, 07:15:47 PM
     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. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 28, 2013, 07:20:17 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
I have no doubt that the 'Filch proof' method works well in assessing claims so long as it is fed reliable data - unfortunately, before you can use the Filch proof you must collect the data with your senses; senses that have been shown by Mr Wiseman to be fallible.  Now I don't believe for a minute (nor do you) that the results of Mr Wiseman's experiments cast significant doubt on what we as humans have learned through the scientific method, so is it fair to say that to render a method of acquiring knowledge unreliable one has to do more than simply point to a possible scenario where that method could produce false results?
No! That is all the science method requires, It does not require anything more.
If a thing fails it fails, looking for more reasons to fail it, is redundant.

If we are constantly looking for reasons to fail a thing we would never move forward.

We test a thing if the thing fails, we try a different approach, or go back to the drawing board.


     There is a big difference between saying that a thing fails and saying there are certain circumstances under which a thing fails.  The fact that young earth creationists regularly point to possible situations where radiometric dating would be invalid in no way casts doubt on all the dates that have been assigned through the radiometric method. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 28, 2013, 07:23:16 PM
Quote from: Greenandwhite
My mentality would be that these verses are not meant to be literal descriptions of 'hell'.
Then you need to define for us, which verses are literal and which are not, and also you need to show us how your definitions are the correct ones, Can you do that?

     I think I made a start in my last post did I not? 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 28, 2013, 07:28:29 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.

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.

Evidence of the supernatural, or evidence of something natural that we don't understand yet?  That, I think, is median's point.

Supernaturalism is itself incoherent, GaW.  For a god to exist in a definite state, it would have to be natural.  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.
 1. Lightning rods aside...
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 28, 2013, 07:36:50 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. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire 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
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median 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)
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles 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".

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Mrjason 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
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir 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>>
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: magicmiles 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: jdawg70 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: median 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme 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. :-\
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: neopagan 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
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: JeffPT 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? 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: epidemic 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. 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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.

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite 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. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 31, 2013, 12:47:45 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.

     Exactly, and in order to invalidate my point you would have to show me why my assumption regarding whom I will spend my ‘vacation’ with is wrong.  If your wife or best friend offered you a mystery vacation and you refused then I am assuming that your refusal would likely be based on some kind of lack of trust or other good reason (assuming you just don’t have the time or don’t like taking vacations in the first place).  I didn’t honestly think that I was dodging your question; because I thought that there were two possible ways of answering it.  As an example, if I am working in the pharmacy and a customer comes up to me and asks where the Cold-FX is there are two ways I could handle it – I could either show them where it is or I could explain to them why they don’t need it in the first place (whether or not the shelf is empty is irrelevant, so if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me).  I think that part of the problem is that you have had too many idiots invading this forum threatening you with fire and brimstone if you do not repent.  Personally I don’t think that the point of our lives is to try and figure out the best way we might avoid an unpleasant afterlife by buying some sort of ‘fire’ insurance, and I am certainly not interested in trying to ‘scare’ you into heaven. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on May 31, 2013, 12:54:52 AM
     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...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).

     I know that there have been more than 400 posts since you wrote your OP so perhaps you have forgotten the content of the question that you posed to the atheists on this forum (including you): “What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?  What would it REALLY take for you to change your view (i.e. - reverse it)? And please be specific.”  In post #395 you give your proposed answer: “just because I'm feeling charitable [thanks…I think], here's mine in three words: OVERWHELMING DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE.  Now, if you could turn your attention to post #414, you characterize ‘overwhelming demonstrable evidence’ as follows: “overwhelming demonstrable evidence wouldn’t be a miracle!  It would be a commonly known, uncontested, non-controversial (indeed quite trivial) fact. 
     You know, for once I think that I actually agree with you; if there is evidence for the supernatural it will be of the same nature as the evidence that we might use to establish any natural claim.  For instance, if the gospel accounts are correct then none of the disciples actually saw the resurrection.  For the most part they came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead from “commonly known, uncontested, noncontroversial facts”.  There is nothing extraordinary about a human being standing in front of you who just happens to be alive, nor is there anything perplexing about an empty tomb.  The empty tomb would have been common knowledge which is why the soldiers were apparently paid to make up a story.
     At any rate, the point here isn’t to convince you that the gospel accounts are correct thereby constituting ‘demonstrable evidence’, but to examine the conditional statement that you introduced in your OP.  I realize that you don’t think that there is any demonstrable evidence available, but you asked the question ‘what if’ which is a conditional statement proposing that you examine how your perception of reality would have to be different for you to believe in an immaterial spiritual realm.  Here’s what I think: your demand for “overwhelming demonstrable evidence” is nothing more than a fancy way of saying that you wouldn’t believe in a spiritual realm no matter what the evidence was.  If you actually saw a man dead three days come to life or saw a leg ‘magically regrow’ you would find some way to explain it away – maybe you were hallucinating or maybe you could appeal to your ‘argument from ignorance’; after all, why assume the supernatural when we maybe just haven’t discovered a natural explanation yet?  I suggest that you give me a description of what your belief inducing “overwhelming demonstrable evidence” would look like or admit that you can’t.   
     By the way, all your caps lock typing and name calling (e.g. hypocritical, gullible, credulous, closed-minded, etc…) is really quite pathetic.  If your arguments can’t stand on their own without being augmented with a plethora of immature name calling then let me know when you are interested in actually having an intelligent discussion. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 31, 2013, 02:22:49 AM
     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. 
I would suggest that if you had an eternity in which to practice, an ageless and injury-free form, and the requisite desire and determination you absolutely would be able to develop your hockey skills to NHL levels, but I'm pretty sure there's no NHL in heaven[1], so it is a moot point.

More likely, what you are saying is that in this world Sidney Crosby possesses physical gifts and natural skills (read: powers) that you could not duplicate, no matter how hard you may try. So essentially your point is that we could never be as powerful as god because, well, he's god and we're not, right? But is god powerful because he's 6'3" and weighs 225 lbs., or because he controls all the forces of the universe? I would contend that if you've got eternity to do so you could also learn how to wield these forces. I suspect the big guy wouldn't let it get far enough to be a threat to him, though. Remember what happened the last time there was a revolution in heaven?

Quote
     
In my opinion it is absurd to think that “on an endless timeline everything that can happen will happen”
That you find a logically inescapable conclusion absurd means you have not given it enough consideration. IMO, the notion that a singular human consciousness will exist forever is what is absurd. Can you please explain what you think you'll be doing for eternity?

Quote
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.
The mere fact that, in this scenario, I find myself existing eternally would obviously give me reason to reconsider my present position, but the rest of this paragraph is incomprehensible to me. I fail to see how my status as a "Christian" has any bearing on the previously referenced logically indisputable conclusion.

It is virtually impossible for our human minds to truly understand the implications of eternity. We can scarcely even grasp the vastness of hundreds of thousands of years, let alone millions and billions, which is the biggest reason so many people question evolution, IMO. But that's a different topic that will surely be revisited in many threads to come.
 1. wait, wouldn't this be hell to a Canadian?!!
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 31, 2013, 03:00:28 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?

.....if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me.....

Only point?  Nope.  That's just the basics.  But thank you for admitting that there is nothing specific you can tell me about the afterlife.

Given that admission, why should I give the faintest toss about any claim you make about that afterlife, or (by extension) your god?  If all you can do is shrug and say "well, I hope it's like this, but really I have no idea" then it becomes entirely pointless me making any decision.  If there is no way I can know that action A will lead to effect Y or effect Z, then there is no reason - other that how it affects me NOW - why I should take action A or not.

You're saying "press this button - I have no idea what happens if you do, or do not - just some hopes of what might happen".  Why on earth should I press the button?  Or not press it?

Or bother with the button at all?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Graybeard on May 31, 2013, 06:58:59 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.

An interesting argument but unsustainable. (i) Unpredictability as an argument against the supernatural on a macro level where object obey known laws is not valid. (ii) at the micro-level the variance in levels of predictability can be averaged to give remarkably reliable figures. This variance does not vary, hence (i).

A supernatural being would be able alter the eternal laws of the universe to suit one person who prayed, thus, on the macro- and micro-level we would see numerous diversions from the predicted: we do not.  In fact, we would have two distinct patterns, one where current laws were obeyed and another where clear evidence of the supernatural could be seen. We do not see the latter.

Nature's predictability is inherent from what "nature" is. Nature is a collection of atoms, molecules, etc, that obey laws. Imagine a wind. We cannot say what each molecule of the wind is doing but, given the wind-speed and humidity, we can say, with high accuracy, how a wind will, for example press upon a wall. The force of the wind is, in fact a massive summation of individual molecules and is remarkably accurate, more accurate than we actually need.

Your next fallacy is "there is nothing logically inconsistent about a rock falling up," (i) this would entail the creation of energy within a closed system. (ii) Naturally you do not say what would cause the rock to "fall up" nor what you mean by "fall" nor do you say how "up" has been determined. I mention this as Christians tend to rely on "the uncaused cause" A rock "falling up" would be in this category.[1]

The conclusion of the following statement is so deceptive as to be false: " 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[nb]for the sake of the record, I would ask you to define your term "metaphysical necessity" in the light of the Higgs Boson."

Once a law has been established, variance from it is not possible. If there is an exception then it is incumbent upon use to find out why, rather than introduce the infinitely more complicated "supernatural". Once the exception is shown, then the law is amended. This is distinct from the infantile explanation "God did it."

Humans have seen that, throughout history, the acceptance of the supernatural is the acceptance of willful ignorance. You only need refer to mentions of "thunderbolts sent by the gods, to realise the truth in this.

Your whole argument rests upon, "We can never know," The truth is that over the past 300 years we have known; we have found that the supernatural has become unacceptable as an explanation of anything. As each "fact" has been uncovered, gods and superstition (the same thing) have retreated - you will be aware of "the God of the Gaps".

Your argument also boils down to (i) "We don't know some things therefore God did it." (ii) "Who is to say what might happen?[2]

The worship of gods is the worship of ignorance. The asinine adherence to the creed of "God did it" is what holds back societies.

Edit to include image:

(https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/424638_10200461415231812_1355448042_n.jpg)

 1. You may be able to escape from this inevitable conclusion by explaining how a rock could fall upwards.
 2. This carries the implication of "only gods can save us from the unknown." Which is a bit stupid, as it actually means, "Only gods can save us from what gods do."
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 31, 2013, 07:40:24 AM
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

Cute, but you've ignored what you've actually quoted here.  If you are not going to read my post before replying, then why should I bother to write replies?

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?

The ones that don't reject science wholesale.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on May 31, 2013, 08:51:36 AM
.....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.

True.  But aren't you an imperfect and fallible human?  And isn't god supposed to be perfection, the ultimate in everything?

People react on a sliding scale.  If you swore, we wouldn't say "GW does not exist", we would say "that was out of character".  And the more a non-sweary person you had been established to me, the more freaky and weird we would think it if you DID swear.

I'm sure you would agree that the less one does something, the less likely it is that someone will do that something.  The person who swears in every sentence, does not cause a surprise when they do - the surprise comes when they do not.  Its all about acting within the parameters of character.

So when it comes to an ultimate being - a being who sits on the very, very furthest point of the curve - unpredictability all of a sudden can NOT be an issue.  That being would have to react the same every time - because if it didn't, we would rightly say "well, clearly its not the ultimate then".

An ultimate god's behaviour should be absolutely, 100% predictable.  If it is not, then either that being is not truly god; or we are ascribing wrong characteristics to that being (i.e. it is not really good); or that being does not exist. 

For god to exist, be perfect, AND be unpredictable, is not a logically tenable position.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 31, 2013, 02:58:37 PM
It seems to me that Greenandwhite is trying to make a logical argument that a god exists. (Correct me if I am misunderstanding.) He says that the universe as we observe it is somehow enough evidence for the presence of a god who is controlling and running it.

If the universe is under a god's control, it would have to be the best possible universe.  Or else, it should be under a better god's control, which would be logically impossible, according to G&W. Because the one true god is the greatest thing there is.

Here is where I see some problems. If this is the best of all possible universes, what is heaven? (An even better best of all possible universes?)

And if this is indeed the best of all possible universes, why does it seem to be so screwed up? Humans get a few decades struggling to survive on the dry bits of one planet. We spend most of the past couple thousand years of existence beseeching supernatural beings, trying not to starve or be eaten or dying of something horrible. We only start seeing improvements when we ignore religion and use science. Then after all that, we get judged on our behavior for all eternity--by the same supernatural being that never helped before?

This is the best a god can do? Please. Religious explanations seem more and more like a desperate ret-con attempt at rationalizing why things suck so much for so many people than anything truly profound and illuminating. I can imagine a hundred better setups, and I am just one silly a$$ atheist.

And religious people tell us that we atheists are either making things too complicated or too simple....
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 31, 2013, 03:00:33 PM
The question that always comes to my mind is:  What would a universe that no god created, look like, that's different from this one?

If one cannot answer that question, then one is admitting a lack of any means of telling one from the other.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: epidemic on May 31, 2013, 03:18:40 PM
Well,  I believe the answer you will get will be simple.  it is the reason I am not willing to say I am an atheist.

Lets start,

We have nothing and after a while we still have nothing ;D

But after a really really long time we have nothing.

It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

I push the I believe button on the universe creating itself.  I tend to believe there is a natural answer to it butttttt
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: One Above All on May 31, 2013, 03:46:51 PM
<snip>
It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

Ever heard of a strawman?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: nogodsforme on May 31, 2013, 03:56:13 PM
Well,  I believe the answer you will get will be simple.  it is the reason I am not willing to say I am an atheist.

Lets start,

We have nothing and after a while we still have nothing ;D

But after a really really long time we have nothing.

It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

I push the I believe button on the universe creating itself.  I tend to believe there is a natural answer to it butttttt

Maybe we have to start with a something, instead of a nothing. Then we get another something. And so on. The earlier something does not have to be a god. Just whatever there was before the big bang.....

Anyway, that does not address the question of why this universe sucks so much for people if it was created by a perfect being--who supposedly made it all for people.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on May 31, 2013, 04:38:19 PM
I second nogodsforme's response.  Epidemic, given that something preceded our universe, what makes you think it was something like you?  Ie., a conscious, personal entity?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on May 31, 2013, 07:40:31 PM
Well,  I believe the answer you will get will be simple.  it is the reason I am not willing to say I am an atheist.

Lets start,

We have nothing and after a while we still have nothing ;D

But after a really really long time we have nothing.

It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

I push the I believe button on the universe creating itself.  I tend to believe there is a natural answer to it butttttt

What is "nothing"?

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, nothing doesnt exist?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Nam on May 31, 2013, 09:37:40 PM
I believe nothing exists. But at the same time nothing is something.

-Nam
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on May 31, 2013, 10:27:07 PM
It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the universe cannot be self-created and/or eternal but be perfectly satisfied with thinking a singular being can be.

Epidemic, do you not see how inserting a god into the equation only pushes the question of causation back one level? Why do you accept a god as the most plausible explanation when it doesn't get you any closer to really knowing the origin of all that is? Do you understand that any being with the power to create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe? How can such a monumentally complex being exist eternally but a less complex universe cannot?

I ask these questions sincerely, as I truly wish to understand your position.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 01:04:28 AM
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

Cute, but you've ignored what you've actually quoted here.  If you are not going to read my post before replying, then why should I bother to write replies?

     My focus should have been on responding to the second sentence rather than on giving a sarcastic reply to the first - I will have to work on my tendencies for sarcasm. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on June 02, 2013, 08:23:29 AM
The problem wasn't the sarcasm (which at least was obvious sarcasm, unlike some peoples' posts), it was the fact that you didn't even read past the first word.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on June 02, 2013, 09:09:46 AM
I believe nothing exists. But at the same time nothing is something.

-Nam
then nothing, doesnt exist nah mean?

It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the universe cannot be self-created and/or eternal but be perfectly satisfied with thinking a singular being can be.

Epidemic, do you not see how inserting a god into the equation only pushes the question of causation back one level? Why do you accept a god as the most plausible explanation when it doesn't get you any closer to really knowing the origin of all that is? Do you understand that any being with the power to create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe? How can such a monumentally complex being exist eternally but a less complex universe cannot?

I ask these questions sincerely, as I truly wish to understand your position.

I dont think science addresses this issue enough. Ive heard it a few times in passing only when I had come to the conclusion myself and started to see if it was an argument that had already been made. We simply have no example of "nothing" therefore it is a pretty large assumption that everything came from nothing when we only have evidence of there being something. And with that I agree with theists, something cant come from nothing. However, they jump to the wrong conclusion based on that thinking (whether the thinking is right or wrong). Instead of inserting a "something from nothing creator" they ought to think that perhaps this "nothing" they talk about never existed in the 1st place. Literally all the evidence supports that there is something.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 03:04:46 PM
     I dont think science addresses this issue enough. Ive heard it a few times in passing only when I had come to the conclusion myself and started to see if it was an argument that had already been made. We simply have no example of "nothing" therefore it is a pretty large assumption that everything came from nothing when we only have evidence of there being something. And with that I agree with theists, something cant come from nothing. However, they jump to the wrong conclusion based on that thinking (whether the thinking is right or wrong). Instead of inserting a "something from nothing creator" they ought to think that perhaps this "nothing" they talk about never existed in the 1st place. Literally all the evidence supports that there is something.

     If 'nothing' existed at some time logically prior to the Big Bang then what kind of evidence would you expect to see?  Why should the absence of evidence for 'nothingness' necessarily imply that there has never been an actual state of 'nothingness'?  In a roundabout way don't you think that you are just restating Carl Sagan's view that the physical universe possesses the quality of metaphysical necessity (e.g. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be")?  If the universe is a metaphysically necessary entity then actual 'nothingness' would be a metaphysical impossibility - would it not?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 03:36:52 PM
     It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the universe cannot be self-created and/or eternal but be perfectly satisfied with thinking a singular being can be.

     Epidemic, do you not see how inserting a god into the equation only pushes the question of causation back one level? Why do you accept a god as the most plausible explanation when it doesn't get you any closer to really knowing the origin of all that is? Do you understand that any being with the power to create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe? How can such a monumentally complex being exist eternally but a less complex universe cannot?  I ask these questions sincerely, as I truly wish to understand your position.

     I hope I am responding to this question in the same spirit in which it was asked (e.g. helping you to understand the theist rationale without being argumentative).  You listed two possible alternatives - self-creation and eternal existence.  I suppose theists would say that they just don't find the concept of 'self-causation' to be a plausible notion.  This doesn't mean that all theists consider it to be a proposition unworthy of debate since there are intelligent philosophers who defend it (e.g. Quentin Smith).  In terms of 'eternal existence', I think that theists, and indeed many atheists, would reject that notion when it comes to our physical universe because of the scientific evidence that points to an absolute beginning of the universe (if one holds to the standard Big Bang model). 
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).

     You said that a being that could create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe - why?  Do you think that it is impossible in principle for a creator to create some kind of creation more complex than itself?  It seems to me that in the movie The Matrix humans succeeded in doing just that; obviously, I realize that the movie is fictional, but I have never watched The Matrix and thought that the story line is logically impossible.  Wouldn't the same principle apply to any creator?
     At any rate, I didn't think that the possession of metaphysical necessity is a matter of probability - it seems to me that an entity either does or does not possess it, making any consideration of complexity irrelevant. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 03:43:08 PM
It seems to me that Greenandwhite is trying to make a logical argument that a god exists. (Correct me if I am misunderstanding.) He says that the universe as we observe it is somehow enough evidence for the presence of a god who is controlling and running it.

     I was not trying to make a logical argument that God exists.  If I understood Azdgari correctly, he was questioning the proposition that a supernatural being can be understood in a logically coherent way - that is what I was trying to answer. 

Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on June 02, 2013, 03:51:02 PM
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).

What I don't get is how this ground of all being ends up being someone that is not only like the theist (ie. a conscious, personal, often male entity), but that also agrees with the theist's personal biases and morals.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: The Gawd on June 02, 2013, 04:08:20 PM
     If 'nothing' existed at some time logically prior to the Big Bang then what kind of evidence would you expect to see?  Why should the absence of evidence for 'nothingness' necessarily imply that there has never been an actual state of 'nothingness'?  In a roundabout way don't you think that you are just restating Carl Sagan's view that the physical universe possesses the quality of metaphysical necessity (e.g. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be")?  If the universe is a metaphysically necessary entity then actual 'nothingness' would be a metaphysical impossibility - would it not?
If? There is nowhere where you can find evidence of nothing. As far as we know, "nothing" is a concept with no basis in reality. I wouldnt expect to find "nothing" because the only evidence I have is of something. I am asserting that something exists, my evidence is existence itself. If you are positing "nothing" exists somewhere then I would be more than willing to consider the evidence.

The big bang talks about the expansion of time/space. There would be no time before the big bang relative to the current universe. Dont know what metaphysics is, Ive never bothered to look it up. But if what your are saying is, "the particles that make up this universe have always been" then I agree.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 05:37:05 PM
     If 'nothing' existed at some time logically prior to the Big Bang then what kind of evidence would you expect to see?  Why should the absence of evidence for 'nothingness' necessarily imply that there has never been an actual state of 'nothingness'?  In a roundabout way don't you think that you are just restating Carl Sagan's view that the physical universe possesses the quality of metaphysical necessity (e.g. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be")?  If the universe is a metaphysically necessary entity then actual 'nothingness' would be a metaphysical impossibility - would it not?
     If? There is nowhere where you can find evidence of nothing. As far as we know, "nothing" is a concept with no basis in reality. I wouldnt expect to find "nothing" because the only evidence I have is of something. I am asserting that something exists, my evidence is existence itself. If you are positing "nothing" exists somewhere then I would be more than willing to consider the evidence.  The big bang talks about the expansion of time/space. There would be no time before the big bang relative to the current universe.

     I am not positing that 'nothing' exists somewhere, since 'somewhere' implies temporal location.  If we have temporal location then we also have space which means that something exists.  I agree that 'nothingness' would not be a descriptor that would apply to a state of affairs temporally prior to the Big Bang, but it would apply to a state of affairs actualized absent the Big Bang. 

     Dont know what metaphysics is, Ive never bothered to look it up. But if what your are saying is, "the particles that make up this universe have always been" then I agree.

     I think that when someone claims that something is metaphysically necessary she is saying that not only has this universe always been, but also this universe must of necessity always have been - if something is not metaphysically necessary then it is contingent; if the physical universe is contingent then it does not have to exist.  For example, you and I are contingent beings; we happen to exist but it is possible that had history taken a different course we might not exist.  If the universe is a necessary entity then it is impossible that it could not have always existed. 
     
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 05:46:51 PM
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).

What I don't get is how this ground of all being ends up being someone that is not only like the theist (ie. a conscious, personal, often male entity), but that also agrees with the theist's personal biases and morals.

     If the universe had a cause then the three qualities that you listed above also follow.  An impersonal force that is adequate to cause an effect (e.g. the universe) cannot exist for an indefinite amount of time without its effect.  If from eternity past sufficient conditions exist to freeze water, then any water that also exists would of necessity also be frozen from eternity past.  That is why if the universe itself is not a necessary entity nor a self caused one, its cause would be personal.  A personal cause can exist for a certain amount of time (or exist timelessly) before deciding to actualize a certain effect. If the cause is personal then it would also be conscious and we would refer to that cause using personal pronouns (he, she, they).  If you want to use 'she' to refer to a personal ground of all being then you are welcome to do so. 
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Azdgari on June 02, 2013, 07:01:25 PM
You've asserted that the pre-cosmos being personal solves these problems.  Yet, you've given no reason to believe what you've said.  We humans are personal and conscious, and yet we obey physics.  Consciousness does not in any way appear to be a special, game-breaking quality here.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 07:12:14 PM
     .....if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me.....

     Given that admission, why should I give the faintest toss about any claim you make about that afterlife, or (by extension) your god?  If all you can do is shrug and say "well, I hope it's like this, but really I have no idea" then it becomes entirely pointless me making any decision.  If there is no way I can know that action A will lead to effect Y or effect Z, then there is no reason - other that how it affects me NOW - why I should take action A or not.

     You don't have to worry about any specific claims I make about the afterlife because I haven't given you any except for whom I think I will be spending it with.  I think that one thing we are disagreeing on here is the purpose of a relationship with Christ.  It seems to me that you are treating it as some sort of an instrumental good - the means by which we might gain access into some kind of a pleasant afterlife.  I guess I, on the other hand, am looking at a relationship with Christ as having intrinsic value in its own right - valuable apart from considerations of what happens after death. 
     On the other hand, you ask, "why should I give the faintest toss about... your god"?  If you see fit to give a 'faint toss' about my 'god', then I think it should be based on evidence that is traditionally given for God's existence and not on descriptions of the afterlife.  After all, if I could give you a detailed description of heaven or hell that wouldn't make any difference to the question 'does God exist' - you would then only have a detailed description of a place you don't believe exists.  It would be nice to have a description of heaven; I just don't think it is necessary and so I suppose this is just one of many things we will have to disagree on. 

     
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 07:26:51 PM
You've asserted that the pre-cosmos being personal solves these problems.  Yet, you've given no reason to believe what you've said.  We humans are personal and conscious, and yet we obey physics.  Consciousness does not in any way appear to be a special, game-breaking quality here.

     I think I was trying to give my rationale for a personal cause using the supposition that an impersonal cause sufficient to actualize an effect would necessarily always exist with its effect (hence the frozen water example).  A personal cause, on the other hand, could decide when to actualize a given effect. 
     I realize that humans are personal and conscious while obeying the laws of physics; I just don't think that this observation necessitates that consciousness is always attached to something physical.  At the same time, it doesn't seem to me that if a being lacks consciousness he/she can make a decision to actualize an effect that previously was not present - wouldn't an unconscious personal being be indistinguishable from an impersonal cause?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Greenandwhite on June 02, 2013, 08:02:36 PM
     But aren't you an imperfect and fallible human?  And isn't god supposed to be perfection, the ultimate in everything?...Its all about acting within the parameters of character.
     So when it comes to an ultimate being - a being who sits on the very, very furthest point of the curve - unpredictability all of a sudden can NOT be an issue.  That being would have to react the same every time - because if it didn't, we would rightly say "well, clearly its not the ultimate then".  An ultimate god's behaviour should be absolutely, 100% predictable.  If it is not, then either that being is not truly god; or we are ascribing wrong characteristics to that being (i.e. it is not really good); or that being does not exist.  For god to exist, be perfect, AND be unpredictable, is not a logically tenable position.

     For a couple of reasons I do not agree that a perfect being must be 100% predictable:

First, perceived unpredictability does not necessarily indicate actual unpredictability.  A predictable being is one who acts in similar ways in similar situations - all other things being equal.  I am just wondering how, if you see unpredictable behaviour, you know that all other things actually are equal.  In other words, unpredictable behaviour seems to say more about the person perceiving it rather than the person demonstrating it - how much more so with a supernatural being?

Second, in my case I don't think that unpredictability is necessarily what makes me imperfect.  If I wear a red shirt on Monday and a white shirt on Tuesday, that doesn’t seem to indicate any imperfection in my character – why would I be more perfect if I wore a white shirt both days?  In the case of a perfectly good, supernatural being it sounds to me like you are focusing more on questions of justice (e.g. a perfectly just being would be completely predictable in rendering judgements – at least to an observer who also has a grasp of perfect justice).  This seems to be rather far removed from the original criticism that a miracle would demonstrate unpredictability on God’s part – why should a being perfectly predictable on matters of justice have to be perfectly predictable on matters of communication?
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: DumpsterFire on June 03, 2013, 01:51:26 AM
     I hope I am responding to this question in the same spirit in which it was asked (e.g. helping you to understand the theist rationale without being argumentative).  You listed two possible alternatives - self-creation and eternal existence.  I suppose theists would say that they just don't find the concept of 'self-causation' to be a plausible notion.
I had hoped (and am still hopeful) for a response from Epidemic, but I appreciate your input, G&W. Please explain exactly why theists would consider a self-caused universe implausible but a self-caused creator god plausible.

Quote
In terms of 'eternal existence', I think that theists, and indeed many atheists, would reject that notion when it comes to our physical universe because of the scientific evidence that points to an absolute beginning of the universe (if one holds to the standard Big Bang model). 
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.
The evidence does indeed point to a beginning of the universe, going from a singularity to what it is now, but we have no way of knowing if that beginning is absolute. As I see it, the most plausible explanation is that all the elements that comprise the universe have always existed in various forms. I think the most logical theory is that of a cyclical universe, one which is presently expanding but will eventually contract back into another singularity, at which point another expansion will follow.  In this scenario, as The Gawd said, "nothing" was never an option.

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  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).
Occam's razor would reject pushing the causative explanation back even one level.

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     You said that a being that could create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe - why?  Do you think that it is impossible in principle for a creator to create some kind of creation more complex than itself?  It seems to me that in the movie The Matrix humans succeeded in doing just that
Can you give any nonfictional examples of a creation exceeding the complexity of its creator?

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At any rate, I didn't think that the possession of metaphysical necessity is a matter of probability - it seems to me that an entity either does or does not possess it, making any consideration of complexity irrelevant.
I would contend that it is impossible for us to determine what constitutes a metaphysical necessity as it relates to the existence of our universe, particularly when the proposed necessity is an "entity".
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: Anfauglir on June 03, 2013, 03:58:29 AM
     .....if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me.....

     Given that admission, why should I give the faintest toss about any claim you make about that afterlife, or (by extension) your god?  If all you can do is shrug and say "well, I hope it's like this, but really I have no idea" then it becomes entirely pointless me making any decision.  If there is no way I can know that action A will lead to effect Y or effect Z, then there is no reason - other that how it affects me NOW - why I should take action A or not.

     You don't have to worry about any specific claims I make about the afterlife because I haven't given you any except for whom I think I will be spending it with.  I think that one thing we are disagreeing on here is the purpose of a relationship with Christ.  It seems to me that you are treating it as some sort of an instrumental good - the means by which we might gain access into some kind of a pleasant afterlife. 

Yeah, I suppose its super - but given the length of an eternal life, its as relevant as the music you hear when they put you on hold for 30 seconds when you're booking a restaurant for a major party.  Nice enough for the brief blink of existence, but not really relevant in the grand scheme of things.

You seem to be looking at things on a very small scale, GW - this life is no more than a blip in the eternal life that you claim we have, of course I am far more concerned with the other 99,999,999,999,930 years of existence than I am with the 70 I will have here.  What I honestly don't understand is why you aren't - why you are so keen to just take "pot luck" with 99.9999% of your existence?

After all, if I could give you a detailed description of heaven or hell that wouldn't make any difference to the question 'does God exist' - you would then only have a detailed description of a place you don't believe exists.   

Tell you what matey - a possible 99.9999% of my existence is worth my consideration.  Give me some referenced proofs of what the afterlife options are and I'll consider it.  Heck, given the timescales we're talking about, if there is an afterlife I like then I'd be prepared to change my behaviours, even if I still don't have the belief.  I may not believe Hank exists, but if I can get to the good afterlife by spending 5 minutes a day saying "hail Hank", then I may well do it.  Trade 5 minutes a day for an eternity I like?  Hell yeah.

Trouble is, by your repeated (refusal?  inability?) to give me any clue as to what afterlifes there ARE, you give no incentive whatsoever for belief, or even to seek belief.  Like I said - this existence is the tiniest, tiniest fraction of existence, so any benefits I may get here are quite irrelevant.

Point being: worship of your god might lead me to what is - for me - a worse alternative for eternity.  To use my analogy - I'd get nicer hold music, but end up booking a dump.  For 99.9999% of existence, I need to know what the alternatives are.

What I find quite ironic is that I - the ungodly - seem to care more about the afterlife, while you - the believer - seem overly fixated on what happens to you here on this momentary material plane.  Weird.
Title: Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
Post by: epidemic on June 03, 2013, 08:41:51 AM
It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the univers