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Main Discussion Zone => General Religious Discussion => Topic started by: YRM_DM on May 20, 2014, 01:39:22 PM

Title: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: YRM_DM on May 20, 2014, 01:39:22 PM
Questions to Theists
Some questions from a former believer who asked questions himself, and eventually couldn't reconcile all the excuses I was making for god.   How do you guys find ways to rationalize the following in your heads?   If these questions make sense, and your belief is true, then why aren't there good answers for them?

1 - As you think of people with more experience that you respect (elders, leaders, relatives)... are they more patient, emotionally mature, and understanding than they were when they were younger?    If yes, then why is a god who is at least 6,000 years old, if not 18,000,000,000 years old, if not timeless, emotionally immature in the Bible?   God displays quick temper, jealousy, frustration with far lesser beings that he created, and he's turned on repeatedly by his own creations, which angers him even though if he is omnipotent he'd have known it would happen.   Why?    Why did God drown everyone else on earth during Noah's flood and even murder animals?   Why does the smell of burning animal sacrifice please the nostrils of an 18,000,000 year old giant who made galaxies?

2 - Christians refer to God as the source of all truth, light, and goodness, and refer to the Bible as all the proof they need.   Why does God, in the Bible, punish future generations for the sins of their parents?   Why does God have young virgins claimed as wives under Moses or babies dashed from walls and killed?

3 - Why would the 18,000,0000 year old being who made galaxies be a worse matchmaker than Match.com?    If God has a plan for each of us and all the days of our lives, wouldn't he do better at matching couples instead of worse than every other way possible?

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George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented: "While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages."

4 - By now, you may have mentioned that all good comes from God and we have the free will to mess it up...  if we catch a touchdown in a game, get married, or do good for a charity, all of that came from God, but, if we drop a touchdown, get divorced, or do evil, that all is our fault.

Doesn't this make God sort of like the worst manager you've ever had times 100?    By the above definition, God has all the power to guide us and help us and change anything, fails to do it, gets all the credit for our successes, and takes none of the blame for our failures...

How is the most powerful being in the universe not at all responsible for the evil in the universe?   Didn't he create Satan knowing that he'd get angry when Satan got proud?   Didn't god know he'd throw a temper tantrum, create hell, then create his son who he sacrificed to himself to save us from a place he created?

5 - If the Bible is truth, and we're fools for rejecting that truth, then why doesn't the truth stand up to obvious scientific scrutiny and debate?   Why do Christians run or shut down or follow circular logic?

"God is good because the bible tells me he's real and good... I ignore all the bad stuff that's in there... I know the bible is true because God wrote it and he is good... I know God is real and good because the bible says so... I know the bible is real because God wrote it..."

There's no outside historical record of Jesus.  There's no lasting monument to any miracle.  There's no lasting proof of any miracle.   We know for sure that the bible was re-written and edited over hundreds of years and contains awful things like stoning your own kids to death.

If any one word of the bible is false, then, how do you know which parts are true?   If no words of the bible are false, can I still buy a slave for 30 shekels of silver?   Which is it?

---

If we've come back to, "You should believe because I know god is real, I just know it!   I know his book is true, I just know it..."   Then why is that any better than a follower of Thor suggesting I should believe in Thor because they "just know it"?

Some people "just know" that a lucky horseshoe helps them win bets.   Some people "just know" that crystals help them heal.  Some people "just know" that a psychic can talk to their dead relatives.

All of those things are delusions with the same justification as "you should just believe because it's true and I gave you the truth".

Please understand that, if you've read this far, I know you may be afraid inside to really think about what I'm saying because it could 'hurt your faith'.

But if your faith is based in truth, why would any question be able to hurt it?

The earth rotates around the sun right?   Can any question "hurt" that fact?   No right?  So why can questions so easily hurt someone's true faith?

Could it be because it's not true at all?   If not, what's the explanation?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: shnozzola on May 20, 2014, 08:32:35 PM
........God has all the power to guide us and help us and change anything, fails to do it, gets all the credit for our successes, and takes none of the blame for our failures...

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/05/20/314094632/oklahomas-latino-community-prepares-for-the-next-tornado

^^^^   Here is an NPR article on the experiences of people in Oklahoma living through tornados.  Now please understand, I mean no disrespect for the things these folks have gone through, the horror of the freight train sound, but......

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Last year, Gloria Sanchez didn't have much of a plan — or a storm shelter. When she heard the roaring tornado headed for her neighborhood in Moore, Okla., she decided to seek refuge at the local hospital.
"God helped me a lot, because I made it to the hospital," she explains as tears streak her face.
Winds whipped through the shattered windows of the hospital cafeteria where Sanchez huddled on her knees until the storm passed. When she finally made it back to her home that evening, all she could see was the floor of her home and mounds of broken bricks and two-by-fours.

I understand that at times like these, people lean on society's "god" idea to get us through these things.  But why would god, who gets credit for controlling the weather, send weather that does this damage, and then we pray and thank god for getting us through it, while some don't make it, and then we claim it must be god's plan.  Come on people - we all listen to the tornado sirens, and the weatherman, and do what is necessary to save ourselves.  We don't chant and light candles  (well, most of us) and paint our faces and cast out tornado demons - we get in the basement.

   And then we thank god afterwards for getting us through.   [sigh]
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: dloubet on May 20, 2014, 10:59:43 PM
It's like a hideous mashup of Protection Racket and Stockholm Syndrome. It's the shopkeeper that's paid protection money to Al Capone forgiving Al when Al firebombs his shop anyway. WTF?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Disciple of Sagan on May 20, 2014, 11:28:56 PM
Why does God, in the Bible, punish future generations for the sins of their parents? 

This question in particular is a personal favorite of mine to pose to Christians, as there are barbaric, real world examples to draw comparisons to. Just look at North Korea, where the government imprisons three generations of a political prisoner's family for whatever "crime" he or she is alleged to have committed.

Times that by an infinity of generations and that's what the Dictator know as God considers a "just" punishment. &)
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: magicmiles on May 20, 2014, 11:40:20 PM
It's pretty simple really.

The OT reveals in sobering detail the extent to which God hates and cannot dwell alongside evil. Throughout, it points to a saviour from this wrath.

The NT introduces us to the saviour, and documents His death, which claims to take away all punishment we have accrued.

Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT. Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others. Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on discussing minor details of the story which don't quite add up to you. And chuckle over internet memes about shellfish.

I've made my choice and I won't ever be swayed from it. Goodnight.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Disciple of Sagan on May 20, 2014, 11:56:47 PM
Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT. Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others. Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on discussing minor details of the story which don't quite add up to you. And chuckle over internet memes about shellfish.

I'ts really quite simple, really.

Those that prefer to sweep underneath the rug all of the malicious, sadistic, genocidal actions of a God with apparent multiple personality disorder should maybe go and reread the OT to remind themselves just what a true vengeful bastard your "loving and forgiving" NT God was.

I know my mind is made up.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2014, 12:15:07 AM
Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT. Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others. Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on discussing minor details of the story which don't quite add up to you. And chuckle over internet memes about shellfish.

I'ts really quite simple, really.

Those that prefer to sweep underneath the rug all of the malicious, sadistic, genocidal actions of a God with apparent multiple personality disorder should maybe go and reread the OT to remind themselves just what a true vengeful bastard your "loving and forgiving" NT God was.

I know my mind is made up.

Yes. You dislike the character of God. You prefer to swallow the lie that if you do your best and don't do too much wrong, all will be OK. You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned, but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse. In short, you prefer to be your own God.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Add Homonym on May 21, 2014, 12:17:24 AM
It's pretty simple really.

The OT reveals in sobering detail the extent to which God hates and cannot dwell alongside evil. Throughout, it points to a saviour from this wrath.

The NT introduces us to the saviour, and documents His death, which claims to take away all punishment we have accrued.

Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT.

 Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment,

I did have an a-ha moment, when I realised that God's wrath amounts to nothing, because the Hebrews didn't write a religion with punishment in the afterlife.

It's not even possible, because people would not accept a religion where you had to obey all God's commands, and then went to hell.

Heaven and hell have to arrive at the same time, in the same documents.

So, you are lying for God. People could not want for a saviour, for that long, if there was nothing to save them from, besides Romans and Babylonians.

Expectations slowly transformed, during an oral period that was much closer to Christianity. Therefor the saviour expected in early documents was a different type. Had to be,
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Add Homonym on May 21, 2014, 12:18:46 AM
You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned, but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse. In short, you prefer to be your own God.

No, that's exactly what YOU expect.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Disciple of Sagan on May 21, 2014, 12:38:56 AM
Yes. You dislike the character of God. You prefer to swallow the lie that if you do your best and don't do too much wrong, all will be OK.

There is no "lie" to swallow. It doesn't matter whether I live the life of a saint or go down in history as the most prolific mass-murderer in recorded history, there is nothing but oblivion after death for me to be concerned over. I choose to be as good a person as I can humanly be without having the need of a "carrot" (heaven) dangling before me.

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You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned

Wrong again. I own up to my mistakes and willingly accept whatever punishment is appropriate, unlike those Christians who think a lifetime of breaking commandments can be absolved with a heartfelt plea to Jesus.

Care to make any more false character assumptions?

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but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse.

Which makes me different how from any other person who has been wronged?

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In short, you prefer to be your own God.
Correct. I am my own (lower case) god. So are you. So is everyone else who has ever lived. We create. We destroy. We love. We hate. We forgive. We met out retribution. I think you get the picture.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 21, 2014, 12:50:34 AM
It's pretty simple really.

The OT reveals in sobering detail the extent to which God hates and cannot dwell alongside evil. Throughout, it points to a saviour from this wrath.

The NT introduces us to the saviour, and documents His death, which claims to take away all punishment we have accrued.

Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT. Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others. Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on discussing minor details of the story which don't quite add up to you. And chuckle over internet memes about shellfish.

I've made my choice and I won't ever be swayed from it. Goodnight.

It's pretty simple, really.

The OT reveals in sobering detail the extent to which the writers were high. Throughout, it points to massive amounts of very potent drugs to having been taken.

The NT introduces us to marijuana, and documents its effects, which are clearly giddiness.

Those that obsess over the wrath of God (sic) and His (sic) clear justice should maybe think about what happens in the OT. Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others. Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on cherry-picking minor details of the story which add up to you. And chuckle over internet memes about atheists.

I've made my choice and I won't ever be swayed from it. Good morning.


Version #2:

It's pretty simple really.

Yes it is.

The OT reveals in sobering detail the extent to which God hates and cannot dwell alongside evil. Throughout, it points to a saviour from this wrath.

So hate is a good thing? Huh. Fancy that. I always thought hate (the desire to murder things) was a bad thing. Well, I guess you can't argue with sand dwellers who wanted to control everyone with their made-up religion an all-knowing and all-hating entity.

The NT introduces us to the saviour, and documents His death, which claims to take away all punishment we have accrued.

So everyone who sinned after this "saviour"'s death is fucked?

Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT.

You mean like the part about Jesus saying that the OT is still valid? Perhaps you should take your own advice.

Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others.

Perhaps you will too.

Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on discussing minor details of the story which don't quite add up to you.

Those are actually the major points. YHWH is all-loving, yet it hates just about everything. YHWH created light before there was a source for that light. YHWH made a woman out of a rib from a man made out of dust. YHWH created evil, then bitches about what that evil did. YHWH said the moon was its own source of light. YHWH is said to never lie, yet it lies throughout the Bible.

And chuckle over internet memes about shellfish.

I bet you just piss your pants in laughter whenever you see that "Atheism: The belief that there was nothing (...)" BS.

I've made my choice and I won't ever be swayed from it. Goodnight.

Such an open mind!
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 21, 2014, 12:56:02 AM
You dislike the character of God. You prefer to swallow the lie that if you do your best and don't do too much wrong, all will be OK. You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned, but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse. In short, you prefer to be your own God.

You dislike the idea of atheism. You prefer to swallow the lie that if you do whatever the fuck you want, then repent on your deathbed, all will be OK. You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned, but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse. In short, you prefer to be your own God (sic).

Version #2:

You dislike the character of God.

There's a reason for that. Read the Bible some time.
Also, like you don't dislike The Emperor (Star Wars guy).

You prefer to swallow the lie that if you do your best and don't do too much wrong, all will be OK.

Like you do, only your version ends with "repent on your deathbed" or "believe in Jesus" or some other magic spell you believe will "cleanse" your "soul" or whatever.

You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned, but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse.

Projecting much? Whose beliefs include a guy whose sacrifice "washed away" all your "sins" (whatever that means)? Whose beliefs include a god who punishes non-believers for no other reason than the fact they are non-believers? Whose beliefs include a god who will come down, kill pretty much everyone and everything, toss all those into Hell, then make the Earth "perfect" (whatever that means) for all its followers to live on?[1]

In short, you prefer to be your own God.

Like every theist in the Universe. Ever heard of SPAG?
 1. This may not be one of yours. I get confused with BS. It all smells and looks like shit to me.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Disciple of Sagan on May 21, 2014, 01:16:14 AM
One last thing before I go to sleep, MM:

One very big pet peeve of mine is hearing Christians such as yourself attempt to gloss over the horrific shit perpetuated by your God with a "stop dwelling on the OT" attitude. Sorry, I'm too busy recalling all of the first born sons of Egypt (how many infants and young children do you think that included?) that had to die in order for Him to get His point across.

Oh, and in my opinion your "Savior" got off light compared to the countless and various barbaric methods your God employed to met out justice throughout the OT.

And one last thing so as not to create a misunderstanding: I am not angry at your God, for there is no God IMO to be angry towards. I am angry at those Christians who don't even have the intellectual honesty to admit that "yeah, He did some pretty sadistic shit back then".
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: YRM_DM on May 21, 2014, 08:32:19 PM
Those that obsess over the wrath of God and His seeming injustice should maybe think more about what happens in the NT. Perhaps you'll have an "a-ha" moment, like so many others. Or perhaps you'll concentrate more on discussing minor details of the story which don't quite add up to you. And chuckle over internet memes about shellfish.

I'ts really quite simple, really.

Those that prefer to sweep underneath the rug all of the malicious, sadistic, genocidal actions of a God with apparent multiple personality disorder should maybe go and reread the OT to remind themselves just what a true vengeful bastard your "loving and forgiving" NT God was.

I know my mind is made up.

Yes. You dislike the character of God. You prefer to swallow the lie that if you do your best and don't do too much wrong, all will be OK. You expect every wrong thing you have ever done to be ignored and pardoned, but at the same time you demand justice and punishment of those whose offences you deem worse. In short, you prefer to be your own God.

Well, doesn't it say that not one word of God's ultimate truth will pass away until Jesus comes again?

I was a Christian for decades.

Anyway... we look at the NT.   It is significantly better than the OT... but isn't the whole Bible supposed to be true and perfect?

Isn't Jesus a sacrifice that God created to appease himself because us burning animals wasn't good enough?  To save us from a place that he created, where he sent an angel that he created who turned bad?

If Jesus doesn't mind standing up for humanity and truth, which, he clearly didn't right?  Then why not speak a word against slavery?

He heals a guy's slave and never says a word about it.

He never speaks up against women being second class citizens either.

He doesn't come out and call BS on the Old Testament stories of God ordering Moses to kill women and little kids except for the young virgins.

He doesn't come out and say anything that holds up in scientific practice today, things that would be able to be verified.

So to you... because we don't believe in something that has absolutely no verification except a book which you admit the first 3/4 are to be glossed over in favor of the last 1/4...   you think it's reasonable to torture people for eternity?

You don't believe in Leprachons right?   But they are also in many books...    what if you're wrong and a big green god lives at the end of a rainbow and will bury us all in a pot of gold for eternity?

Silly right?   But if 3/4 of the bible are to be glossed over, how do I know any of it is true either?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: magicmiles on May 21, 2014, 08:49:57 PM


If Jesus doesn't mind standing up for humanity and truth, which, he clearly didn't right?  Then why not speak a word against slavery?

He heals a guy's slave and never says a word about it.

He never speaks up against women being second class citizens either.

He doesn't come out and call BS on the Old Testament stories of God ordering Moses to kill women and little kids except for the young virgins.

He doesn't come out and say anything that holds up in scientific practice today, things that would be able to be verified.


Kind of surprising believers and non-believers alike spend so much time discussing Him 2000 years later, really. He should have faded into obscurity a long time ago.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: 12 Monkeys on May 21, 2014, 09:19:55 PM
MM how do you dismiss the OT explanation of Yahweh being a god and not the god?

 Yahweh did not become the god until early Christians made him the god.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Eddie Schultz on May 22, 2014, 12:06:44 AM
MM how do you dismiss the OT explanation of Yahweh being a god and not the god?

 Yahweh did not become the god until early Christians made him the god.

YRM_DM, welcome to the world of rational thinkers, and skeptics.

As for what 12 Monkeys said, this video hits on the history of god very well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg

I think to myself, when a christian watches videos like this, from ex christians, why do they just stick with their belief in the christian god as if it's something unique? Is it the fear of hell that keeps them from swaying from their belief? Care to tell us, MM, or any other believers who vow to never be swayed?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Add Homonym on May 22, 2014, 01:38:25 AM
Kind of surprising believers and non-believers alike spend so much time discussing Him 2000 years later, really. He should have faded into obscurity a long time ago.

I think he should have, too, like Mohammad. The trouble is that these modern religions have texts and "inerrancy" dogmas that are kept alive by fanatics.

The key to understanding why these beliefs survive, is education. The religions do their bit to suppress inquiry against religion, but ultimately, to dismiss religion, you have to be pretty educated. Not only smart enough to understand how the meme works, but to be totally sure about the cunning bluffs that you will encounter. But, like an arms race, when religion gets rejected, a clever person will find a way of adapting it against the questions it encounters. Where Islam did not make a mistake was in endorsing the Old Testament. By doing that, Christianity got a shot in the arm, for take-off, but it's very hard to reconcile the Old Testament with reality, if you have a post-Darwin mind. Islam has a few problems in its texts, but it's much more of a generic superstition, so it might be able to destroy Christianity, if education and wealth levels fall. However, I suppose if Islam manages to destroy wealth and education, Christianity could make a come-back.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Ron Jeremy on May 22, 2014, 02:01:54 AM
Kind of surprising believers and non-believers alike spend so much time discussing Him 2000 years later, really. He should have faded into obscurity a long time ago.

Yes, this myth should have. But if it wasn't this myth it'd be some other nonsense and we'd be on here telling you that Odin or Zeus wasn't real. If a Muslim pitches up I'll tell him that his god is nonsense, if a Hindu wants to tell us that their gods are real he'll get the same message.

It's not just your imaginary god we discuss MM, we discuss all imaginary gods.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: YRM_DM on May 22, 2014, 08:55:49 AM


If Jesus doesn't mind standing up for humanity and truth, which, he clearly didn't right?  Then why not speak a word against slavery?

He heals a guy's slave and never says a word about it.

He never speaks up against women being second class citizens either.

He doesn't come out and call BS on the Old Testament stories of God ordering Moses to kill women and little kids except for the young virgins.

He doesn't come out and say anything that holds up in scientific practice today, things that would be able to be verified.


Kind of surprising believers and non-believers alike spend so much time discussing Him 2000 years later, really. He should have faded into obscurity a long time ago.

Greek, Roman & Egyptian Gods were worshipped for thousands of years too.   The major religions that are left are the ones that ultimately won the wars and wrote the history books and burned the rest of the books.

Islam has been around for a long time and Mohammed hasn't faded into obscurity.   Many religions haven't faded into obscurity but we know that Islam isn't "real" because we know Mohammed didn't ride a winged horse to heaven and we can see the hypocrisy in those cultures and it's really obviously a delusion.

It harder to see that Christianity is a delusion because it's more progressive at this point in history than Islam is, and we live in the middle of the bubble.   But it's just as silly to think a guy walked on water or rose from the dead as rode a winged horse.

Not sure how long the human sacrifice religions of the Aztecs lasted... but it was centuries too.

If you lived in a certain period of history, you might say, "It's proof that the Egyptian gods are real, or else why would the leaders spent all this time and our effort building these pyramids?   These beliefs have been around for centuries and haven't faded so, they must be true."
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 22, 2014, 09:13:20 PM
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1 - As you think of people with more experience that you respect (elders, leaders, relatives)... are they more patient, emotionally mature, and understanding than they were when they were younger?    If yes, then why is a god who is at least 6,000 years old, if not 18,000,000,000 years old, if not timeless, emotionally immature in the Bible?   God displays quick temper, jealousy, frustration with far lesser beings that he created, and he's turned on repeatedly by his own creations, which angers him even though if he is omnipotent he'd have known it would happen.   Why?    Why did God drown everyone else on earth during Noah's flood and even murder animals?   Why does the smell of burning animal sacrifice please the nostrils of an 18,000,000 year old giant who made galaxies?

For me, these writings are an attempt by various people to explain what it is like to experience God.  The flood story, for me anyway, is a monotheistic spin on the flood myth common in many societies.  Understand, I am using the word "myth" in the older sense of being a story to explain the unexplainable.   

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2 - Christians refer to God as the source of all truth, light, and goodness, and refer to the Bible as all the proof they need.   Why does God, in the Bible, punish future generations for the sins of their parents?   Why does God have young virgins claimed as wives under Moses or babies dashed from walls and killed?

My take on the punishment of future generations goes back to what I wrote earlier about people writing of their understanding of God.  I suspect they genuinely felt this was what God intended. 

Regarding the babies dashed from walls, am I correct in thinking you are reference Psalm 137?

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3 - Why would the 18,000,0000 year old being who made galaxies be a worse matchmaker than Match.com?    If God has a plan for each of us and all the days of our lives, wouldn't he do better at matching couples instead of worse than every other way possible?

Intriguing observation.  I don't see God as the ultimate puppet master so don't know how to respond. 

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George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented: "While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages."

Very good point. 

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4 - By now, you may have mentioned that all good comes from God and we have the free will to mess it up...  if we catch a touchdown in a game, get married, or do good for a charity, all of that came from God, but, if we drop a touchdown, get divorced, or do evil, that all is our fault.

Doesn't this make God sort of like the worst manager you've ever had times 100?    By the above definition, God has all the power to guide us and help us and change anything, fails to do it, gets all the credit for our successes, and takes none of the blame for our failures...

How is the most powerful being in the universe not at all responsible for the evil in the universe?   Didn't he create Satan knowing that he'd get angry when Satan got proud?   Didn't god know he'd throw a temper tantrum, create hell, then create his son who he sacrificed to himself to save us from a place he created?

Personally, I don't believe in the existence of the Satan as described.  I tend to agree with Rabbi Harold Kushner (author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People").  Here is a link which pretty sums up his theology.  http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Theology/Suffering_and_Evil/Responses/Modern_Solutions/When_Bad_Things_Happen.shtml


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5 - If the Bible is truth, and we're fools for rejecting that truth, then why doesn't the truth stand up to obvious scientific scrutiny and debate?   Why do Christians run or shut down or follow circular logic?

"God is good because the bible tells me he's real and good... I ignore all the bad stuff that's in there... I know the bible is true because God wrote it and he is good... I know God is real and good because the bible says so... I know the bible is real because God wrote it..."

There's no outside historical record of Jesus.  There's no lasting monument to any miracle.  There's no lasting proof of any miracle.   We know for sure that the bible was re-written and edited over hundreds of years and contains awful things like stoning your own kids to death.

If any one word of the bible is false, then, how do you know which parts are true?   If no words of the bible are false, can I still buy a slave for 30 shekels of silver?   Which is it?

For me, the Bible is a book of faith.  As such, I don't see why it needs to be seen as an encyclopedia or an almanac.

It is my understanding there is some historical record of Jesus outside the New Testament writings but the sources are controversial.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus

How come understanding the Bible is an either/or?   

---

Quote
If we've come back to, "You should believe because I know god is real, I just know it!   I know his book is true, I just know it..."   Then why is that any better than a follower of Thor suggesting I should believe in Thor because they "just know it"?

Some people "just know" that a lucky horseshoe helps them win bets.   Some people "just know" that crystals help them heal.  Some people "just know" that a psychic can talk to their dead relatives.

All of those things are delusions with the same justification as "you should just believe because it's true and I gave you the truth".

Please understand that, if you've read this far, I know you may be afraid inside to really think about what I'm saying because it could 'hurt your faith'.

But if your faith is based in truth, why would any question be able to hurt it?

The earth rotates around the sun right?   Can any question "hurt" that fact?   No right?  So why can questions so easily hurt someone's true faith?

Could it be because it's not true at all?   If not, what's the explanation?

Personally, I don't think questions hurt one's faith at all.   This website has been invaluable to me in helping to realize what I believe and why. 

In all fairness, just because I believe God exists, does not mean I have a monopoly on truth or facts.  It may very well be that I am embracing a delusion.  I don't think so, but I can't totally rule out the idea. 

Wishing I had the perfect answers I remain,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Eddie Schultz on May 22, 2014, 10:19:16 PM

 In all fairness, just because I believe God exists, does not mean I have a monopoly on truth or facts.  It may very well be that I am embracing a delusion.  I don't think so, but I can't totally rule out the idea. 

Wishing I had the perfect answers I remain,

OldChurchGuy

OCG, I don't know if you've seen the video above, "A History Of God" made by an ex believer in the god you believe exists? But if you have seen it, why do you dismiss the gods that came before the god you believe exists, Jesus who you said you believe is god incarnate? Have you researched gods that came way before the god you believe exists?

What would it take for you to rule out the idea that you may very well be delusional in your belief?

Thanks for your time.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 25, 2014, 07:02:33 AM

 In all fairness, just because I believe God exists, does not mean I have a monopoly on truth or facts.  It may very well be that I am embracing a delusion.  I don't think so, but I can't totally rule out the idea. 

Wishing I had the perfect answers I remain,

OldChurchGuy

OCG, I don't know if you've seen the video above, "A History Of God" made by an ex believer in the god you believe exists? But if you have seen it, why do you dismiss the gods that came before the god you believe exists, Jesus who you said you believe is god incarnate? Have you researched gods that came way before the god you believe exists?

What would it take for you to rule out the idea that you may very well be delusional in your belief?

Thanks for your time.

FINALLY got around to watching this.  Very interesting and follows Armstrong's book very well.  Have you read the book?  I read it some years ago and found it very enlightening.

I don't dismiss the other gods so much as I believe the polytheistic societies were also trying to explain what it is like to experience God.  They simply used multiple gods to explain the experience.  Can I prove that belief?  No.  Do I need to prove that belief?  No, since I am not presenting that belief as something that others must accept as true.

I have no idea what it would take for me to conclude I am delusional as a theist.  Frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Foxy Freedom on May 27, 2014, 04:21:25 AM
I've made my choice and I won't ever be swayed from it. Goodnight.

Someone thinks he knows all the answers.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: eh! on May 27, 2014, 04:53:57 AM
Hey FF, good to see you posting again.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Eddie Schultz on May 28, 2014, 02:56:30 PM

 In all fairness, just because I believe God exists, does not mean I have a monopoly on truth or facts.  It may very well be that I am embracing a delusion.  I don't think so, but I can't totally rule out the idea. 

Wishing I had the perfect answers I remain,

OldChurchGuy



OCG, I don't know if you've seen the video above, "A History Of God" made by an ex believer in the god you believe exists? But if you have seen it, why do you dismiss the gods that came before the god you believe exists, Jesus who you said you believe is god incarnate? Have you researched gods that came way before the god you believe exists?

What would it take for you to rule out the idea that you may very well be delusional in your belief?

Thanks for your time.

FINALLY got around to watching this.  Very interesting and follows Armstrong's book very well.  Have you read the book?  I read it some years ago and found it very enlightening.

I don't dismiss the other gods so much as I believe the polytheistic societies were also trying to explain what it is like to experience God.  They simply used multiple gods to explain the experience.  Can I prove that belief?  No.  Do I need to prove that belief?  No, since I am not presenting that belief as something that others must accept as true.

I have no idea what it would take for me to conclude I am delusional as a theist.  Frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Thank you for the answer. No, I haven't read her book, but read some articles about the book.

I guess my point is that man has made up gods for quite a long time, so why hold on to the idea that your god is real? I don't care if a person wants to believe in a god, but to do it because it makes you feel good doesn't seem like a good reason.

Ancient peoples made up gods because they didn't have answers to all the things that were going on, earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc... Science has solved most things that people didn't know anything about, therefore man doesn't need to believe in gods anymore. Unless of course in your case, it makes you feel happy.

If I was a theist I would try to present my belief as irrefutable fact, if I couldn't why should I believe it?

 "In the words of Matt Dillahunty : “I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible”. That’s as good a goal as any, I think." Adam Emanon

Thanks
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 28, 2014, 06:58:27 PM
Quote

Thank you for the answer. No, I haven't read her book, but read some articles about the book.

I guess my point is that man has made up gods for quite a long time, so why hold on to the idea that your god is real? I don't care if a person wants to believe in a god, but to do it because it makes you feel good doesn't seem like a good reason.

Ancient peoples made up gods because they didn't have answers to all the things that were going on, earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc... Science has solved most things that people didn't know anything about, therefore man doesn't need to believe in gods anymore. Unless of course in your case, it makes you feel happy.

If I was a theist I would try to present my belief as irrefutable fact, if I couldn't why should I believe it?

 "In the words of Matt Dillahunty : “I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible”. That’s as good a goal as any, I think." Adam Emanon

Thanks

As shared elsewhere on this website, I've had experiences in my life which I choose to chalk up to evidence of God's existence. 

This particular website is quite willing to accept my interpretations if I can provide some proof.  Unfortunately, there is no chant, incantation, prayer or string of sounds which will consistently produce an entity which can be seen and measured and identified as God. 

So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy 
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Jag on May 28, 2014, 08:18:05 PM
So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Sigh.

OldChurchGuy, I like you, I really do. I have respect for your almost endless courtesy and think that you are an intelligent man. And with that in mind, I still have to say the paragraph quoted above is absolute nonsense.

Beliefs do not have an on/off switch - either you believe something or you don't. How do you "try" atheism? If you believe in a god of any sort, by definition you are not an atheist, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how you can "try atheism" like it's a shirt you're thinking of buying. 

I'm not saying that you are lying, but if you think that you can just shrug beliefs on and off - or worse, that WE can - then you still have no clue what we're talking about here. It's not my intention to be hurtful to you, but I'm kind of floored that you said (and presumably believe) this.

Shortest version possible - belief or lack thereof is not a choice.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: skeptic54768 on May 28, 2014, 09:22:19 PM
So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Sigh.

OldChurchGuy, I like you, I really do. I have respect for your almost endless courtesy and think that you are an intelligent man. And with that in mind, I still have to say the paragraph quoted above is absolute nonsense.

Beliefs do not have an on/off switch - either you believe something or you don't. How do you "try" atheism? If you believe in a god of any sort, by definition you are not an atheist, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how you can "try atheism" like it's a shirt you're thinking of buying. 

I'm not saying that you are lying, but if you think that you can just shrug beliefs on and off - or worse, that WE can - then you still have no clue what we're talking about here. It's not my intention to be hurtful to you, but I'm kind of floored that you said (and presumably believe) this.

Shortest version possible - belief or lack thereof is not a choice.

So if belief is not a choice, how do you expect theists to become atheists?

You walked right into that conundrum.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 28, 2014, 09:26:58 PM
So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Sigh.

OldChurchGuy, I like you, I really do. I have respect for your almost endless courtesy and think that you are an intelligent man. And with that in mind, I still have to say the paragraph quoted above is absolute nonsense.

Beliefs do not have an on/off switch - either you believe something or you don't. How do you "try" atheism? If you believe in a god of any sort, by definition you are not an atheist, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how you can "try atheism" like it's a shirt you're thinking of buying. 

I'm not saying that you are lying, but if you think that you can just shrug beliefs on and off - or worse, that WE can - then you still have no clue what we're talking about here. It's not my intention to be hurtful to you, but I'm kind of floored that you said (and presumably believe) this.

Shortest version possible - belief or lack thereof is not a choice.

Your kind words are truly appreciated.

I am not sure I understand about belief not being a choice. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on May 28, 2014, 09:30:47 PM
OCG:  Could you try disbelieving in the existence of your family for a while?  Would you be able to genuinely believe they didn't exist?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Jag on May 28, 2014, 10:17:05 PM
Azdgari gives an excellent example above, but I just thought of a way this might work to help you understand what I'm saying.

Sexual orientation is not a choice - gay people do not choose to be gay.

To me, god beliefs are similar. I promise you, many aspects of my life would be easier if I could believe at will. I didn't choose, much less decide, to shed my former god-beliefs - they evaporated over time until there was nothing left of them. Belief is not an act of will, I can no more decide to believe in a god than I can decide to believe that I'm actually a sumo wrestler disguised as a tiny white woman, or that fairies sneak into my bedroom and tangle up my hair at night while I sleep.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on May 28, 2014, 11:18:11 PM
Another way of looking at it:  Once you know something, can you choose to un-know it?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 04:53:03 AM
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 05:19:52 AM
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".
<snip>
I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Which is not what you were asked, and you know it. You were asked if you could CHANGE your beliefs. Your definition just changes "beliefs" to "feelings". Can you CHOOSE to feel something you don't? Can you CHOOSE to feel hatred for toilet paper? Can you CHOOSE to feel depressed about your theism? Can you CHOOSE to hate your children and possibly grandchildren? Can you CHOOSE to hate alpha radiation? Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

A clear and unexpected (from you) dodge, but I'll bite.
Your theism does not bother me. It is your attitude that might.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Beginning to doubt you're worth more than the average theist,

One
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 05:54:22 AM
Quote
Which is not what you were asked, and you know it. You were asked if you could CHANGE your beliefs. Your definition just changes "beliefs" to "feelings". Can you CHOOSE to feel something you don't? Can you CHOOSE to feel hatred for toilet paper? Can you CHOOSE to feel depressed about your theism? Can you CHOOSE to hate your children and possibly grandchildren? Can you CHOOSE to hate alpha radiation? Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?

Yes, I can make those choices.  I interpreted the earlier posts as belief was being equated with fact.  If I misunderstood, please forgive me. 


Quote

Your theism does not bother me. It is your attitude that might.

What is my attitude conveying to you? 

Quote
Beginning to doubt you're worth more than the average theist,

One

I am truly flattered you thought me at one time as worth more than the average theist.  If I have fallen from your favor, so be it.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 06:01:51 AM
Yes, I can make those choices.

Bull.shit. Plain and simple. You don't choose what you feel. Ever. You just do. Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender? If so, you're wrong. Period.

I interpreted the earlier posts as belief was being equated with fact.  If I misunderstood, please forgive me. 

Yeah... no.

What is my attitude conveying to you? 

I said "might". I'm talking about theists who don't stop other theists from committing atrocities or protect the ones affected by those atrocities. If you are a part of this type of theists, I would very much like to meet you and show you a few things. Afterward, if you're still with the same mindset, I'd like to put you in an asylum for being a psychopath. It's either that or I'd have to escalate to physical aggression, which I don't like to do.

I am truly flattered you thought me at one time as worth more than the average theist.  If I have fallen from your favor, so be it.

I said I was beginning to doubt my assessment. Whether doubt turns to certainty about having been wrong is up to you.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Watching Contact,

One
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 06:54:43 AM
Yes, I can make those choices.

Bull.shit. Plain and simple. You don't choose what you feel. Ever. You just do. Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender? If so, you're wrong. Period.

I interpreted the earlier posts as belief was being equated with fact.  If I misunderstood, please forgive me. 

Yeah... no.

What is my attitude conveying to you? 

I said "might". I'm talking about theists who don't stop other theists from committing atrocities or protect the ones affected by those atrocities. If you are a part of this type of theists, I would very much like to meet you and show you a few things. Afterward, if you're still with the same mindset, I'd like to put you in an asylum for being a psychopath. It's either that or I'd have to escalate to physical aggression, which I don't like to do.

I am truly flattered you thought me at one time as worth more than the average theist.  If I have fallen from your favor, so be it.

I said I was beginning to doubt my assessment. Whether doubt turns to certainty about having been wrong is up to you.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Watching Contact,

One

I am genuinely confused.  What stops me from hating toilet paper?

Are you saying none of us have any choice on anything?

Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 06:57:42 AM
I am genuinely confused.
<snip>

Answer these questions instead of dodging:
Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 07:20:38 AM
Quote
Can you CHOOSE to feel something you don't?

I honestly don't know how to respond to this question.  Would you please give me an example?

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to feel hatred for toilet paper?

Sure.  Sounds irrational, but I suppose one can hate toilet paper. 

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to feel depressed about your theism?


I believe so.  I can also choose to enjoy my theism. 

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate your children and possibly grandchildren?

I think under certain circumstances I could.  To be honest, I cannot imagine the circumstances but I cannot rule out what I see as an extremely remote possibility.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate alpha radiation?


I suppose so.  I read up on it and can't imagine why I would hate it.  On the other hand, I can't say I fully understand the article, either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_radiation

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?

I suppose so.  "Pleasant" is so subjective.  What you find pleasant I might find irritating moving toward hatred. 

Now that I have answered these questions individually rather than as a collective, I ask again: Are you saying none of us have any choice on anything?

Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 07:32:01 AM
I honestly don't know how to respond to this question.  Would you please give me an example?

Ever felt murderous rage? The impulse to hurt other people in order to please yourself? The urge to rape someone/something, living or dead? I hope the answer to all of these is "no". But can you CHOOSE to feel these things?

Sure.  Sounds irrational, but I suppose one can hate toilet paper. 

I wasn't asking about any one person. I was asking you if you could CHOOSE to hate toilet paper.

I believe so.  I can also choose to enjoy my theism. 

Then do so. Go ahead. I can wait.

I think under certain circumstances I could.  To be honest, I cannot imagine the circumstances but I cannot rule out what I see as an extremely remote possibility.

I'm not saying that they have to give you reason to. Just CHOOSE to hate them.

I suppose so.  I read up on it and can't imagine why I would hate it.  On the other hand, I can't say I fully understand the article, either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_radiation

Alpha radiation is basically the nucleus of a helium atom. It can't penetrate anything thicker than a sheet of paper (including said sheet of paper), but it has the greatest ionizing power out of alpha, beta (+ and -), and gamma radiations (which are the only ones, as far as I know). It is fairly harmless, because, as I said, you can protect yourself from it with just about anything, even skin.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?
I suppose so.  "Pleasant" is so subjective.  What you find pleasant I might find irritating moving toward hatred. 

I meant hating things you find pleasant. Things you think are without defects, such as, I presume, your god.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?
Now that I have answered these questions individually rather than as a collective, I ask again: Are you saying none of us have any choice on anything?
[/quote]

No. I didn't even imply it by any post I have made in this thread. I don't understand why you would ask this.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?
Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
[/quote]

About to shower and go to class,

One

I want to note that you didn't actually answer the questions I posted in the post prior to this one. I'll restate them for you (this is the second time I've had to restate them; any more and I'm reporting you for dodging and smiting you):
Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: junebug72 on May 29, 2014, 07:33:42 AM
So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Sigh.

OldChurchGuy, I like you, I really do. I have respect for your almost endless courtesy and think that you are an intelligent man. And with that in mind, I still have to say the paragraph quoted above is absolute nonsense.

Beliefs do not have an on/off switch - either you believe something or you don't. How do you "try" atheism? If you believe in a god of any sort, by definition you are not an atheist, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how you can "try atheism" like it's a shirt you're thinking of buying. 

I'm not saying that you are lying, but if you think that you can just shrug beliefs on and off - or worse, that WE can - then you still have no clue what we're talking about here. It's not my intention to be hurtful to you, but I'm kind of floored that you said (and presumably believe) this.

Shortest version possible - belief or lack thereof is not a choice.

I'm not trying to be argumentative.  I am really trying to understand how atheism is not a choice.  It seems to me you calculate the evidence and "decide" that there are no gods.   Are perceptions not about the choices we make?

It seems to me you think if you admit it's a choice it somehow dilutes the definition of being atheist.  I don't think that's the case.  I just don't understand the passion behind denying "choice".
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: jynnan tonnix on May 29, 2014, 07:41:14 AM

So if belief is not a choice, how do you expect theists to become atheists?

You walked right into that conundrum.

In just the same way that a child who once believed in Santa Claus starts putting two and two together and comes to the conclusion - as painful as it might be at the time - that it is all actually their parents. Even though I guess it's possible to apply the word "choice" to a process of weighing the pros and cons of such a question and coming to a conclusion, ultimately the conclusion one DOES reach is just a matter of things clicking into place, and once they do, even if you try to force them back out of your mind, they will always be there.

In Old Church Guy's case, I would guess that such is a little bit of the case. It's why he is unable to categorically state that there is a god the way many other theists might. He's honest with himself. He also finds comfort in the concept of god, though, so he allows for the possibility, then juggles with definitions enough to be able to maintain his belief, even though he has to reject much standard dogma to make it "fit".

Sorry, by the way, OCG...that's just speculation, and may be wrong, but even if your own process may differ, there are still many people out there to whom that sort of definition would apply, and it's really the root of SPAG, though, I personally wouldn't apply that epithet with quite the same attitude to someone who is honest enough with themselves to realize what they are doing as opposed to one who builds up an unshakeable image of exactly what god thinks on this matter based on their own mindsets and then cling to it, insisting it is the truth.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 07:53:08 AM
I honestly don't know how to respond to this question.  Would you please give me an example?

Quote
Ever felt murderous rage?

No.

Quote
The impulse to hurt other people in order to please yourself?

No.

Quote
The urge to rape someone/something, living or dead?

No.

[quote I hope the answer to all of these is "no". But can you CHOOSE to feel these things?

I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.  But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?



Quote
Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy?

I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

Quote
Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender?

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

P.S.  Thank you Junebug for helping clarify this discussion.  I feel like I am treading water so would appreciate insights from anyone else on this exchange. 
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 07:54:45 AM

So if belief is not a choice, how do you expect theists to become atheists?

You walked right into that conundrum.

In just the same way that a child who once believed in Santa Claus starts putting two and two together and comes to the conclusion - as painful as it might be at the time - that it is all actually their parents. Even though I guess it's possible to apply the word "choice" to a process of weighing the pros and cons of such a question and coming to a conclusion, ultimately the conclusion one DOES reach is just a matter of things clicking into place, and once they do, even if you try to force them back out of your mind, they will always be there.

In Old Church Guy's case, I would guess that such is a little bit of the case. It's why he is unable to categorically state that there is a god the way many other theists might. He's honest with himself. He also finds comfort in the concept of god, though, so he allows for the possibility, then juggles with definitions enough to be able to maintain his belief, even though he has to reject much standard dogma to make it "fit".

Sorry, by the way, OCG...that's just speculation, and may be wrong, but even if your own process may differ, there are still many people out there to whom that sort of definition would apply, and it's really the root of SPAG, though, I personally wouldn't apply that epithet with quite the same attitude to someone who is honest enough with themselves to realize what they are doing as opposed to one who builds up an unshakeable image of exactly what god thinks on this matter based on their own mindsets and then cling to it, insisting it is the truth.

No offense taken.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 08:01:50 AM
I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.

I don't understand what you mean. You said you didn't feel those things I mentioned. How would those feelings "well up inside [you]"?

But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?

Yes, you can choose how you react to most feelings. Some feelings, though, are too great to be able to do that.


I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

The answer is "no". Because psychopaths, by definition, cannot feel (they are physically incapable of feeling) empathy.

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sexuality is not fully genetic, but it is never a choice. When did you choose to be attracted to women? I know I didn't choose it. It just happened. I didn't choose to be attracted to men either. It too, just happened.
Anyway, as far as scientists can figure out, sexuality is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some of which go all the way back to the womb.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna be late,

One
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: junebug72 on May 29, 2014, 08:17:52 AM

P.S.  Thank you Junebug for helping clarify this discussion.  I feel like I am treading water so would appreciate insights from anyone else on this exchange.

You're welcome.  I don't think I did much.

I think the passion is about what other theists say about choosing to not believe in God.  Probably something out of the bible.  I wish I had a better memory but some theist here try to say atheist really believe in God but chose not to.  It's offensive to the atheist. 

I think One's frustration with you is similar to mine.  You just shrug explanation off with I'm not forcing my beliefs on you so I don't have anything to prove.  I think you're a real nice guy but it's okay to engage sometimes.  I really get frustrated when you say you don't care if you are delusional.  I care if I'm delusional.   

It's like you are afraid.  With God on your side why should you fear? 

I hope I didn't add insult to injury.

One I'm sorry if I am wrong.  I shouldn't speak for you.


Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 08:54:37 AM
I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.

I don't understand what you mean. You said you didn't feel those things I mentioned. How would those feelings "well up inside [you]"?

But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?

Yes, you can choose how you react to most feelings. Some feelings, though, are too great to be able to do that.


I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

The answer is "no". Because psychopaths, by definition, cannot feel (they are physically incapable of feeling) empathy.

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sexuality is not fully genetic, but it is never a choice. When did you choose to be attracted to women? I know I didn't choose it. It just happened. I didn't choose to be attracted to men either. It too, just happened.
Anyway, as far as scientists can figure out, sexuality is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some of which go all the way back to the womb.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna be late,

One

We seem to be on different planes and I trying to rise up to yours.  Would you give me an example of a feeling that is so great I cannot choose how I want to react to it?  Has this happened to you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on May 29, 2014, 09:53:09 AM
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Belief is a feeling, granted.  But it can come about through different causes.  One of these is through what we experience as knowledge.

Back to my example:  You know your family exists.[1]  So long as you know that your family exists, belief in their existence will naturally come from that knowledge.  We may be in denial of what we know, but denial is unstable.

Choosing to disbelieve in their existence may be possible - for a little while.  But that belief will be unstable, because you still know they exist.  To genuinely change the set of beliefs you hold on more than just the surface[2], you would have to un-know that your family exists.

How would you go about choosing to do that, OCG?  Care to give it a try - not just to feel that they don't exist, but to know it, and thus believe it afterward as a matter of course?
 1. Whether your knowledge is accurate or not, from your perspective, it's still knowledge.
 2. ie., as more than just a temporary feeling
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 29, 2014, 10:51:46 AM
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Belief is a feeling, granted.  But it can come about through different causes.  One of these is through what we experience as knowledge.

Back to my example:  You know your family exists.[1]  So long as you know that your family exists, belief in their existence will naturally come from that knowledge.  We may be in denial of what we know, but denial is unstable.

Choosing to disbelieve in their existence may be possible - for a little while.  But that belief will be unstable, because you still know they exist.  To genuinely change the set of beliefs you hold on more than just the surface[2], you would have to un-know that your family exists.

How would you go about choosing to do that, OCG?  Care to give it a try - not just to feel that they don't exist, but to know it, and thus believe it afterward as a matter of course?
 1. Whether your knowledge is accurate or not, from your perspective, it's still knowledge.
 2. ie., as more than just a temporary feeling

The only way I can see of deciding my family no longer exists is due to a severe brain trauma wiping out all memory of them or some affliction like Alzheimer's. 

Apparently, you are reading something much deeper into this than I am.  Care to enlighten me as to why the above questions are important and what kind of reaction you are anticipating or expecting?

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on May 29, 2014, 11:13:01 AM
The only way I can see of deciding my family no longer exists is due to a severe brain trauma wiping out all memory of them or some affliction like Alzheimer's.

So it's not a matter of choice, to ignore what you know?

Apparently, you are reading something much deeper into this than I am.  Care to enlighten me as to why the above questions are important and what kind of reaction you are anticipating or expecting?

As always,

OldChurchGuy

For me at least, atheism is an informed position.  Right or wrong, from my perspective it is experienced as something based on knowledge.  I cannot change that knowledge.  I may deny it, and believe otherwise for a time - but without changing that knowledge, the change in belief is superficial and unstable.

My point is that choosing to believe differently is trivial and meaningless without knowing differently.  It's just an act of denial.  Were I to choose to believe in some sort of god, I would just be in denial of what I know.

Let's take belief in the god of the creationists, for example.  I am a geologist.  I know that the Earth is more than 6k years old - it's the only position that makes sense to me.  I am not free to choose to know otherwise - I would have to be convinced otherwise in order for my state of knowledge to change.  Being able to be convinced of a new belief (changing one's state of knowledge, and being able to choose a new belief (with one's state of knowledge being the same) are categorically different.

When people (atheists, in this case) say that belief is not a choice, they are referring to the former case.  One cannot simply choose to be honestly convinced of a new belief.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: YRM_DM on May 29, 2014, 01:00:06 PM
Quote
As shared elsewhere on this website, I've had experiences in my life which I choose to chalk up to evidence of God's existence. 

This particular website is quite willing to accept my interpretations if I can provide some proof.  Unfortunately, there is no chant, incantation, prayer or string of sounds which will consistently produce an entity which can be seen and measured and identified as God. 

So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy 

OCG, I read every response to my post, point by point.   The way you carry your faith is probably the best and least offensive way that any person can carry their faith.  Your thoughtful replies are appreciated.

I too, had experiences in my life that I believed were signs from God, but, I've since learned that we can assign holy value to random events that seem to answer prayer.   For example, if you took a test to see if you had cancer, prayed, and ended up not having cancer, a person could think that they had cancer, but their prayer to God caused him to cure it.

I noticed that when I was a Christian, "god talking to me" was just feelings.   Like, if I know I can scam someone but choose not to, the thought that values the other person was "god talking".   That stuff still happens, because my brain knows it's bad to hurt other people.

(since we each just get the one life, it's best for all of us to value each other's lives and set that example out there)

The way you have faith doesn't bother me so much, but you were nice enough to have this discussion.

It sounds like you don't put a lot of weight on the Bible's description of God.

I agree with you that there 'might' be some kind of God.  The difference is that I don't think it's overly likely, and, if there is, he's probably nothing like the thing described in the Old Testament.

We agree that slavery, forcing virgins into marriage, animal sacrifice, and throwing babies off walls is bad, so clearly we agree that parts of the Old Testament are not perfect words from god, but at least a faulty interpretation from men right?   It sounds like you agree with that statement from what you wrote?

Thanks for the discussion.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: YRM_DM on May 29, 2014, 01:11:03 PM
Quote
Were I to choose to believe in some sort of god, I would just be in denial of what I know.

That's true.  Once you start to realize all the ways that Christianity is built as a house of cards, and most of the cards are lies... like, if the Old Testament is blatantly full of errors, then how do we know we needed Jesus to show up and save us from his dad who created the place that he created Jesus to save us from?

There are thousands of ways to poke holes in the Bible, and the justifications for the Bible sound a lot like psychics rationalizing their powers.   (I can't explain it but...  this would have worked but you didn't believe in it enough...  your doubt is causing the prayers not to work...)

The Bible and Churches spend all this time and energy talking about how they are the TRUTH.  (way truth light)  (word of god)  (gods word is truth)   

While nothing may be 100% provably true (we could be living inside a computer simulation), let's say that things like "the earth is round and orbits the sun" are as true as we can verify.

Almost nobody doubts that the earth is round and goes around the sun these days... because it's true and has been proven and verified.

You can't easily choose to believe that the earth is still flat.   You can't easily still believe in Santa Clause.

Just like that, I can't switch back on a belief in god because I've come to see ancient religious texts as pretty unbelievable.   Everything in them is unlikely and contradictory while they are advertised as "the truth" to the point where it's too much of a protest.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 03:33:15 PM
We seem to be on different planes and I trying to rise up to yours.

I don't know if you're trying to kiss ass or whatever, but please try to find another way to phrase that.

Would you give me an example of a feeling that is so great I cannot choose how I want to react to it?

Love. Lust. Hunger (the kind where you've been starving for days). Hate (I define hate as the desire to murder something/someone). Grief. Depression.

Has this happened to you?

It has. I once broke my second highest law when my ex-BF broke up with me. It wasn't intentional; it just didn't occur to me until after I did it. It won't happen again. That's the most recent example I can give you (about two and a half years old), and probably the only one I feel comfortable giving.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Finally back,

One
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 29, 2014, 05:21:29 PM
I think One's frustration with you is similar to mine.  You just shrug explanation off with I'm not forcing my beliefs on you so I don't have anything to prove.

You're wrong. My frustration is that he's an idiot.

One I'm sorry if I am wrong.  I shouldn't speak for you.

As long as you don't do it again, it's OK.

Tell me, OldChurchGuy, why would someone CHOOSE to be persecuted? Why would someone CHOOSE to be murdered in some of the most horrific ways humans have devised (drowning, stoning, burning, hacking, and so on)? Why would someone CHOOSE to be seen as inferior? Why would someone CHOOSE to be regarded as inhuman? Why would someone CHOOSE to be bullied? Why would someone CHOOSE to be part of a group that can't express their love for their partners in public? Why would someone CHOOSE to be part of a group where, even in private, they might not be able to express their love for each other?

The only possible answer I see for this is "they're insane", or "they're suicidal". The latter is, unfortunately, true for some, but not because of their choices. It's because of bigots who make their lives hell. The former is just plain stupid, unless you want to claim that ~10% of all humans on Earth are insane, in which case I might feel a compulsion to do some bad things to you.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Jag on May 29, 2014, 05:24:34 PM
Rather than quoting the posts junebug and OCG, I'm just going to go a little further with my original post thoughts.

First, I'm very pleased that this conversation is remaining civil. This is a challenging topic, and it can also be a very sensitive one, as junebug pointed out. I'm happy everyone is trying but I'm saddened by the depth of the division that exists, even when everyone is actually making an effort to understand the "other side".

Next, I want to pre-emptively defend myself a bit. This can be really hard to explain without saying things that can be interpreted as insulting by the theists in the conversation. The easiest comparisons (choose to believe in leprechauns, or fairies, or Santa Claus) sort of imply that theists are simple-minded or childish, and that's unproductive at best. I'm trying to avoid treating either of you like that, so please remember that as you read. I'm not trying to be rude, but we lack a "common ground" for this conversation.

There was no point in my life that I "made a choice" to "become" an atheist. Not believing in a god put me at odds with literally everything and everyone I knew. Recall the days before the internet - I had no one to talk to about any of this, for years. In fact, I knew that I didn't believe in the Christian god in high school, and by my early 30's, on some level I knew I didn't believe in any gods whatsoever. I've always allowed for the possibility of a deist-type creator, but to be perfectly frank, that's leftover from smoking a lot of pot and talking about god/life/purpose/angst-laden-whatever with my friends in my teens and 20's.

It didn't occur to me that the word atheist even applied to me. Although I didn't know the term, I was an apathist - didn't know, didn't care, didn't see it as mattering enough to me to bother with it. I had reached the conclusion that I didn't think there was a god and that was the end of it.

At least, that's how I presented the idea, even to myself. Reality was a bit different. It scared the sh!t out of me to realize that I didn't actually BELIEVE any of it. It scared the sh!t out of me to think about that, it scared me so much I just refused to do it at all. For several years, by the way.

Here's a detail I rarely share: I had to give up marijuana because if I got high, I would start to think about the consequences of there being no god. I started having panic attacks when I smoked pot and they were absolutely triggered by my lack of belief.

Brace yourselves for the next part, because this is seriously warped thinking in action: I was absolutely certain that I was going to go to hell and burn for all eternity because I couldn't make myself believe in god. That conviction lingered for years.

Go ahead and take a moment to let the echoes of crazy fade a bit.....

I blame THAT directly on Catholicism (yes junebug, organized religion is f*cking evil, I agree with you).

Now, in light of that, do you see why I insist that my lack of belief is not a choice? If ever I could have chosen to believe, that was the time. Coming to terms with my lack of belief has been the greatest gift I could have given myself, my mental health is quite a bit improved since I've made my peace with being an atheist

I say this often here - the bible had nothing to do with my loss of faith, but it had little to do with my faith when I had it either. I was raised Catholic, and while Catholics generally have a bible or 12 in their homes, we aren't known for our detailed bible knowledge - that's what priests are for. I believed in God because everyone in my life believed in God. I asked a LOT of questions, but concluded pretty young that people had messed up an otherwise fine thing. It wasn't until adulthood that it even occurred to me to question the premise - that a god existed in the first place. I didn't do detailed research, I didn't read the bible to try and make sense of it all, I just took a good hard look at my own beliefs and saw a big gaping hole where everyone else seemed to have a god shaped plug.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: junebug72 on May 30, 2014, 04:07:13 AM
Okay now I understand. 

I implore your courage to dance to the beat of your own drum.   

Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 07:42:07 AM
We seem to be on different planes and I trying to rise up to yours.

I don't know if you're trying to kiss ass or whatever, but please try to find another way to phrase that.

Would you give me an example of a feeling that is so great I cannot choose how I want to react to it?

Love. Lust. Hunger (the kind where you've been starving for days). Hate (I define hate as the desire to murder something/someone). Grief. Depression.

Has this happened to you?

It has. I once broke my second highest law when my ex-BF broke up with me. It wasn't intentional; it just didn't occur to me until after I did it. It won't happen again. That's the most recent example I can give you (about two and a half years old), and probably the only one I feel comfortable giving.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Finally back,

One

Let's try this: We seem to have different depths of understanding and I am trying to get as deep as your understanding.  Is that better?

I have experienced love and lust and grief.  The greatest grief which come to mind was when I learned of my father dying from a heart attack.  I cried a great deal that night. 

I am saddened about your break up with your ex BF.  Terminating any relationship is hard.  Am I out of line to ask what is your second highest law?  What is your first highest law?  Are there other laws? 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 07:46:54 AM
The only way I can see of deciding my family no longer exists is due to a severe brain trauma wiping out all memory of them or some affliction like Alzheimer's.

So it's not a matter of choice, to ignore what you know?

For me, no

Apparently, you are reading something much deeper into this than I am.  Care to enlighten me as to why the above questions are important and what kind of reaction you are anticipating or expecting?

As always,

OldChurchGuy

For me at least, atheism is an informed position.  Right or wrong, from my perspective it is experienced as something based on knowledge.  I cannot change that knowledge.  I may deny it, and believe otherwise for a time - but without changing that knowledge, the change in belief is superficial and unstable.

My point is that choosing to believe differently is trivial and meaningless without knowing differently.  It's just an act of denial.  Were I to choose to believe in some sort of god, I would just be in denial of what I know.

Let's take belief in the god of the creationists, for example.  I am a geologist.  I know that the Earth is more than 6k years old - it's the only position that makes sense to me.  I am not free to choose to know otherwise - I would have to be convinced otherwise in order for my state of knowledge to change.  Being able to be convinced of a new belief (changing one's state of knowledge, and being able to choose a new belief (with one's state of knowledge being the same) are categorically different.

When people (atheists, in this case) say that belief is not a choice, they are referring to the former case.  One cannot simply choose to be honestly convinced of a new belief.

I have read this repeatedly and admit confusion.  For me, there seems to be a equivalence between belief and knowledge as though the two words are interchangeable.  Presuming my interpretation is correct, I disagree. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 07:50:53 AM
Rather than quoting the posts junebug and OCG, I'm just going to go a little further with my original post thoughts.

First, I'm very pleased that this conversation is remaining civil. This is a challenging topic, and it can also be a very sensitive one, as junebug pointed out. I'm happy everyone is trying but I'm saddened by the depth of the division that exists, even when everyone is actually making an effort to understand the "other side".

Next, I want to pre-emptively defend myself a bit. This can be really hard to explain without saying things that can be interpreted as insulting by the theists in the conversation. The easiest comparisons (choose to believe in leprechauns, or fairies, or Santa Claus) sort of imply that theists are simple-minded or childish, and that's unproductive at best. I'm trying to avoid treating either of you like that, so please remember that as you read. I'm not trying to be rude, but we lack a "common ground" for this conversation.

There was no point in my life that I "made a choice" to "become" an atheist. Not believing in a god put me at odds with literally everything and everyone I knew. Recall the days before the internet - I had no one to talk to about any of this, for years. In fact, I knew that I didn't believe in the Christian god in high school, and by my early 30's, on some level I knew I didn't believe in any gods whatsoever. I've always allowed for the possibility of a deist-type creator, but to be perfectly frank, that's leftover from smoking a lot of pot and talking about god/life/purpose/angst-laden-whatever with my friends in my teens and 20's.

It didn't occur to me that the word atheist even applied to me. Although I didn't know the term, I was an apathist - didn't know, didn't care, didn't see it as mattering enough to me to bother with it. I had reached the conclusion that I didn't think there was a god and that was the end of it.

At least, that's how I presented the idea, even to myself. Reality was a bit different. It scared the sh!t out of me to realize that I didn't actually BELIEVE any of it. It scared the sh!t out of me to think about that, it scared me so much I just refused to do it at all. For several years, by the way.

Here's a detail I rarely share: I had to give up marijuana because if I got high, I would start to think about the consequences of there being no god. I started having panic attacks when I smoked pot and they were absolutely triggered by my lack of belief.

Brace yourselves for the next part, because this is seriously warped thinking in action: I was absolutely certain that I was going to go to hell and burn for all eternity because I couldn't make myself believe in god. That conviction lingered for years.

Go ahead and take a moment to let the echoes of crazy fade a bit.....

I blame THAT directly on Catholicism (yes junebug, organized religion is f*cking evil, I agree with you).

Now, in light of that, do you see why I insist that my lack of belief is not a choice? If ever I could have chosen to believe, that was the time. Coming to terms with my lack of belief has been the greatest gift I could have given myself, my mental health is quite a bit improved since I've made my peace with being an atheist

I say this often here - the bible had nothing to do with my loss of faith, but it had little to do with my faith when I had it either. I was raised Catholic, and while Catholics generally have a bible or 12 in their homes, we aren't known for our detailed bible knowledge - that's what priests are for. I believed in God because everyone in my life believed in God. I asked a LOT of questions, but concluded pretty young that people had messed up an otherwise fine thing. It wasn't until adulthood that it even occurred to me to question the premise - that a god existed in the first place. I didn't do detailed research, I didn't read the bible to try and make sense of it all, I just took a good hard look at my own beliefs and saw a big gaping hole where everyone else seemed to have a god shaped plug.

I truly admire your frank and open statements.  Well done.  Nothing that I can see to disagree with.

Admiringly,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on May 30, 2014, 08:25:47 AM
I have read this repeatedly and admit confusion.  For me, there seems to be a equivalence between belief and knowledge as though the two words are interchangeable.  Presuming my interpretation is correct, I disagree. 

They are closely related, so your confusion is understandable.  The difference is that one can be in denial of what one knows.  The state of denial is a split between one's belief and one's knowledge.

With what, specifically, do you disagree?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Jag on May 30, 2014, 11:03:16 AM
Okay now I understand. 

I implore your courage to dance to the beat of your own drum.

Thank you junebug, I appreciate that.

You too, OCG.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: junebug72 on May 30, 2014, 01:19:53 PM
You're very welcome.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 03:32:36 PM
I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.

I don't understand what you mean. You said you didn't feel those things I mentioned. How would those feelings "well up inside [you]"?

A surprise situation such as when my father died of a heart attack.  Prior to know of his death I was very happy to see my brother and his wife.  When informed of the situation, a deep sadness overcame me and I cried openly.

But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?

Yes, you can choose how you react to most feelings. Some feelings, though, are too great to be able to do that.


I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

The answer is "no". Because psychopaths, by definition, cannot feel (they are physically incapable of feeling) empathy.

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sexuality is not fully genetic, but it is never a choice. When did you choose to be attracted to women? I know I didn't choose it. It just happened. I didn't choose to be attracted to men either. It too, just happened.
Anyway, as far as scientists can figure out, sexuality is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some of which go all the way back to the womb.

I have known a couple of people who were abused as children.  In talking with them both felt they were now attracted to homosexuality due to the abuse.  Agreed there is no way to prove their conclusion is accurate.  But I am not going to downplay their conclusions either.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna be late,

One
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 03:38:56 PM
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Belief is a feeling, granted.  But it can come about through different causes.  One of these is through what we experience as knowledge.

Back to my example:  You know your family exists.[1]  So long as you know that your family exists, belief in their existence will naturally come from that knowledge.  We may be in denial of what we know, but denial is unstable.

Choosing to disbelieve in their existence may be possible - for a little while.  But that belief will be unstable, because you still know they exist.  To genuinely change the set of beliefs you hold on more than just the surface[2], you would have to un-know that your family exists.

How would you go about choosing to do that, OCG?  Care to give it a try - not just to feel that they don't exist, but to know it, and thus believe it afterward as a matter of course?
 1. Whether your knowledge is accurate or not, from your perspective, it's still knowledge.
 2. ie., as more than just a temporary feeling

As regards my family, I cannot conceive of any way of consciously choosing to "unknow" their existence. 

Confused but willing to pursue this conversation I remain,

OldChurchGuy
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 30, 2014, 04:06:17 PM
Let's try this: We seem to have different depths of understanding and I am trying to get as deep as your understanding.  Is that better?

Not really. Tweaking that phrasing, you could just say "We have different understandings, and I am trying to comprehend[1] yours.".

I have experienced love and lust and grief.  The greatest grief which come to mind was when I learned of my father dying from a heart attack.  I cried a great deal that night. 

I haven't grieved in years. Not since I figured out death, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared or feel sad about.

I am saddened about your break up with your ex BF.  Terminating any relationship is hard.  Am I out of line to ask what is your second highest law?  What is your first highest law?  Are there other laws? 

My highest law is to always tell the truth. The second is the preservation of all life (including, but not limited to, small animals, insects, and bacteria), except in the case of self-preservation (which is why I haven't starved myself to death). The third is to preserve free will (if you don't like the connotations that "free will" has, feel free to replace it with "freedom of choice"). I want to note that I do not wish to impose these laws onto anyone, as that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, I reordered them in a way I believe is fair for everyone. The first law in this case becomes to preserve free will. The second is to preserve life. The third is to not harm others. Two and three are difficult to choose from, so I guess you could say they're both laws #2.
If you're curious, I broke my second highest law by buying my ex-BF flowers. In my view, I am responsible for their deaths, especially given what happened[2]. I then placed them on his doormat and left. I haven't seen him since a short while before then, although I did hear from him, in a way. He returned something I gave him - something that was of great significance to me - about a day later. He put it in my mailbox, attached to a note saying "I'm sorry". I threw the object and the note away. One had become worthless, and the other would've made me sad(der) to have around.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna sleep for a short amount of time,

One

EDIT: OldChurchGuy, please fix the quotes in your last post to me. I can understand what you're saying, but it's difficult for me to cut out the relevant parts. If you're having trouble with responding the way most of us do, quote this very post and remove the first (the one that starts with "quote author=One Above All") and last (the one that ends with "/quote") quote tags of the entire post and figure out how it works. screwtape has links on his sig to the quoting FAQ that can help, should this self-teaching method fail. I can also assist.
 1. So as not to repeat "understand", although "comprehend" does have the connotation that it's somehow wrong when used in this context, so which word you use is up to you, as long as you indicate what you mean by it.
 2. Long story short, he didn't open the door.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 05:15:58 PM
Not really. Tweaking that phrasing, you could just say "We have different understandings, and I am trying to comprehend[1] yours.".
 1. So as not to repeat "understand", although "comprehend" does have the connotation that it's somehow wrong when used in this context, so which word you use is up to you, as long as you indicate what you mean by it.

I am fine with the phrase "we have different understandings and I am trying to comprehend yours".

Quote

I haven't grieved in years. Not since I figured out death, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared or feel sad about.

You are a better person than I.

Quote
My highest law is to always tell the truth. The second is the preservation of all life (including, but not limited to, small animals, insects, and bacteria), except in the case of self-preservation (which is why I haven't starved myself to death). The third is to preserve free will (if you don't like the connotations that "free will" has, feel free to replace it with "freedom of choice"). I want to note that I do not wish to impose these laws onto anyone, as that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, I reordered them in a way I believe is fair for everyone. The first law in this case becomes to preserve free will. The second is to preserve life. The third is to not harm others. Two and three are difficult to choose from, so I guess you could say they're both laws #2.
If you're curious, I broke my second highest law by buying my ex-BF flowers. In my view, I am responsible for their deaths, especially given what happened[2]. I then placed them on his doormat and left. I haven't seen him since a short while before then, although I did hear from him, in a way. He returned something I gave him - something that was of great significance to me - about a day later. He put it in my mailbox, attached to a note saying "I'm sorry". I threw the object and the note away. One had become worthless, and the other would've made me sad(der) to have around.
 2. Long story short, he didn't open the door.

No chance of reconciliation? 

I think you have created a great set of laws to live by.  Well done, sir; well done.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Note: This may not have been what you were asking for regarding the request to fix the quotes.  But it seems like the most expedient method. 

Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: OldChurchGuy on May 30, 2014, 05:22:48 PM
Let's try this: We seem to have different depths of understanding and I am trying to get as deep as your understanding.  Is that better?

Not really. Tweaking that phrasing, you could just say "We have different understandings, and I am trying to comprehend[1] yours.".

I have experienced love and lust and grief.  The greatest grief which come to mind was when I learned of my father dying from a heart attack.  I cried a great deal that night. 

I haven't grieved in years. Not since I figured out death, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared or feel sad about.

I am saddened about your break up with your ex BF.  Terminating any relationship is hard.  Am I out of line to ask what is your second highest law?  What is your first highest law?  Are there other laws? 

My highest law is to always tell the truth. The second is the preservation of all life (including, but not limited to, small animals, insects, and bacteria), except in the case of self-preservation (which is why I haven't starved myself to death). The third is to preserve free will (if you don't like the connotations that "free will" has, feel free to replace it with "freedom of choice"). I want to note that I do not wish to impose these laws onto anyone, as that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, I reordered them in a way I believe is fair for everyone. The first law in this case becomes to preserve free will. The second is to preserve life. The third is to not harm others. Two and three are difficult to choose from, so I guess you could say they're both laws #2.
If you're curious, I broke my second highest law by buying my ex-BF flowers. In my view, I am responsible for their deaths, especially given what happened[2]. I then placed them on his doormat and left. I haven't seen him since a short while before then, although I did hear from him, in a way. He returned something I gave him - something that was of great significance to me - about a day later. He put it in my mailbox, attached to a note saying "I'm sorry". I threw the object and the note away. One had become worthless, and the other would've made me sad(der) to have around.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna sleep for a short amount of time,

One

EDIT: OldChurchGuy, please fix the quotes in your last post to me. I can understand what you're saying, but it's difficult for me to cut out the relevant parts. If you're having trouble with responding the way most of us do, quote this very post and remove the first (the one that starts with "quote author=One Above All") and last (the one that ends with "/quote") quote tags of the entire post and figure out how it works. screwtape has links on his sig to the quoting FAQ that can help, should this self-teaching method fail. I can also assist.
 1. So as not to repeat "understand", although "comprehend" does have the connotation that it's somehow wrong when used in this context, so which word you use is up to you, as long as you indicate what you mean by it.
 2. Long story short, he didn't open the door.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: One Above All on May 30, 2014, 05:38:08 PM
You are a better person than I.

If you say so. There are those who insist I am actually scared of death and lying for some reason, or that I just haven't been close enough to death to fear it. Neither of those are true.

No chance of reconciliation? 

That's why I went to his house. Now, even if he were to offer it, I'd decline.
EDIT: Besides, I have someone else in mind at the moment.

I think you have created a great set of laws to live by.  Well done, sir; well done.

Thanks.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Eating,

One

Note: This may not have been what you were asking for regarding the request to fix the quotes.  But it seems like the most expedient method. 

Expedient to you, maybe. Not to me or anyone else who wants to read and might consider replying to you.
Also, that's not what I meant. In the post I mentioned, you replied within quotes by italicizing your text. This makes it nearly impossible to tell, specially given how italics are often used for emphasis.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on May 30, 2014, 10:52:08 PM
As regards my family, I cannot conceive of any way of consciously choosing to "unknow" their existence. 

Confused but willing to pursue this conversation I remain,

OldChurchGuy

So if you held a belief that naturally/logically arose from knowing that your family existed, would you be free to choose non-belief in that thing as well, by the same token?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 16, 2014, 05:09:40 PM
Wow, these are easy!

1.  Because the bible was written “about” God “by” men, from the perspective and experience of the people being inspired.

2.  Not all Christians say that, particularly the latter. See my answer to #1

3.  ??? Christians are people, people are complex and often have a hard time making relationships work. I don’t get the question.

4.  See my answer to #1

5.  See my answer to #1
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 16, 2014, 06:20:03 PM
1.  Because the bible was written “about” God “by” men, from the perspective and experience of the people being inspired.

The question that comes next then, I suppose, is why a god would choose not to inspire accuracy.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 16, 2014, 06:43:43 PM
1.  Because the bible was written “about” God “by” men, from the perspective and experience of the people being inspired.

The question that comes next then, I suppose, is why a god would choose not to inspire accuracy.

When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms. I cant just "explain" to my cat that the needle is for its own good and will prevent it from getting leukemia. But why? If I'm so much more intelligent than the cat, and if I can make all of these perfect assertions through language, then why do I have to pet it and make soothing noises and even hold it down when it's terrified for god's sake? (What kind of an inhuman monster would do such a thing?) Why don't I just use my higher ability to simply explain the situation to it? If I'm so much more intelligent, why is the cat so confused, and why does it freak out and do, pretty much the opposite of what I'm trying to get it to do?

The answer is that the 'cat' does not have the capacity to understand language. I can be mentally superior until I'm blue in the face but that doesn't change the fact that the cat simply doesn't have the ability to understand what I'm trying to communicate to it on 'my' terms, I have to muddle through on its terms.

This isn't to say that there is in fact a god, or that the bible is inspired. I only mean to point out that communication between higher and lower beings 'always' results in the higher being's superior intelligence and knowledge meaning absolutely dick when trying to communicate with a being that doesn't have the capacity to understand. What we end up with, even between two beings on this planet (a person and a cat) is the cat just barely getting the point and ultimately just having to trust and wait out the experience.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 16, 2014, 06:56:40 PM
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms. ...

This would mean that no understanding that humans have of any real god is any more accurate than that written in the Bible.  Because if it were, then that understanding is what would have been conveyed to humans at the time, rather than what actually was.  Assuming, of course, that it was inspired at all.

Unless you're also saying that humans today as somehow "higher beings" than those of the (very recent in evolutionary terms) past...?
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 16, 2014, 07:03:52 PM
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms. ...

This would mean that no understanding that humans have of any real god is any more accurate than that written in the Bible.  Because if it were, then that understanding is what would have been conveyed to humans at the time, rather than what actually was.  Assuming, of course, that it was inspired at all.

I think that, based on what we know about higher beings communicating (or trying to), with lower ones; that the kind of bias and allegory and injection of the culture and way of thinking of the people 'being' inspired is exactly what we would expect to see if divine inspiration occurred at all.

To put it another way, I think,  based on what we observe when higher beings communicate with lower ones, inspiration cannot mean perfect dictation from the divine through the finite.

Unless you're also saying that humans today as somehow "higher beings" than those of the (very recent in evolutionary terms) past...?

I wouldn't say that. We have better technology and a better understanding of how the world operates, but I think our problems and virtues are more or less the same.


Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 16, 2014, 08:06:16 PM
I think that, based on what we know about higher beings communicating (or trying to), with lower ones; that the kind of bias and allegory and injection of the culture and way of thinking of the people 'being' inspired is exactly what we would expect to see if divine inspiration occurred at all.

In other words, the people back then were utterly incapable of being inspired to understand anything more accurate.  My point stands.

To put it another way, I think,  based on what we observe when higher beings communicate with lower ones, inspiration cannot mean perfect dictation from the divine through the finite.

We've never observed divine inspiration for reference, though.  And I never mentioned perfection, did I?

I wouldn't say that. We have better technology and a better understanding of how the world operates, but I think our problems and virtues are more or less the same.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 16, 2014, 08:21:06 PM
In other words, the people back then were utterly incapable of being inspired to understand anything more accurate.  My point stands.

So far as I can tell, we're making the same point.

To put it another way, I think,  based on what we observe when higher beings communicate with lower ones, inspiration cannot mean perfect dictation from the divine through the finite.

We've never observed divine inspiration for reference, though.  And I never mentioned perfection, did I?


No, to be fair you didn't, I think you said something like "Why couldn't God inspire accuracy?" Which I addressed with my cat example.

I wouldn't say that. We have better technology and a better understanding of how the world operates, but I think our problems and virtues are more or less the same.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.

Yes, I think if there were such a thing as the divine and communication from it, then by definition our understanding of it is limited to our own capacity to understand it.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 16, 2014, 09:08:35 PM
So far as I can tell, we're making the same point.

Then you must think that modern humans are genetically superior, or something.  I don't think we're especially smarter or better at understanding things now than we were; there's just a larger knowledge base to work from.

No, to be fair you didn't, I think you said something like "Why couldn't God inspire accuracy?" Which I addressed with my cat example.

Your counter is that humans (at the time) were incapable of having a more correct understanding than what they had.  My counter to that, is to ask:  "What's changed about us then?"  If nothing, then any human understanding today cannot be any better than understanding in the past.  We are incapable of progress, unless we're somehow better at inspiring human understanding than God is.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.

Yes, I think if there were such a thing as the divine and communication from it, then by definition our understanding of it is limited to our own capacity to understand it.

And by extension, that the Bible is the limit of what humans can understand about the divine.  QED.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: jynnan tonnix on June 16, 2014, 10:23:14 PM
I did give you a +1 on your earlier post because I did think it made a fairly good point about the difference between the mind of an omnimax deity and that of its creation, but at the same time I can't help but find it perplexing that since we, as a species, have a fairly sophisticated method of communication which covers far, far more than anything merely needed for survival, and that the Bible also would have us believe that we were created in the "image" of this deity (which, it seems, can only be a reference to our spirits, as God does not appear to have a physical form to pass on to us, and therefore at least partially having an inherent ability to understand its motivations), that at least some of what he created us with must have been a capability to receive and understand his message. Else it all makes even less sense than just reading it as pure mythology.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 17, 2014, 12:06:33 AM
So far as I can tell, we're making the same point.

Quote from: Azdgari
Then you must think that modern humans are genetically superior, or something.  I don't think we're especially smarter or better at understanding things now than we were; there's just a larger knowledge base to work from.

I don't think that, and that wasn't a point that I was making. the only point I made was that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher being's terms.

No, to be fair you didn't, I think you said something like "Why couldn't God inspire accuracy?" Which I addressed with my cat example.

Quote from: Azdgari
Your counter is that humans (at the time) were incapable of having a more correct understanding than what they had.

I didn't put in the (at the time) part at all. If we're talking about divine revelation from a higher being to a lower one, then that revelation is necessarily going to be transmitted according to the lower being's method of communication and limited by their capacity to understand. that doesn't just apply to the ancient people that applies to anyone and everything.

Quote from: Azdgari
My counter to that, is to ask:  "What's changed about us then?"  If nothing, then any human understanding today cannot be any better than understanding in the past.  We are incapable of progress, unless we're somehow better at inspiring human understanding than God is.

Realize I'm only talking about revelation, we're quite capable of making progress when it comes to science, philosophy, law, economics, human rights, morality, society, etc. And as we gain more knowledge, we get better and better at them. Those are all rational principles. The limitation I'm talking about applies only to the supposition that there is a divine being that revealed anything to us. If that is the case, then you're absolutely right, and it's exactly what we see. What is new about religion? Nothing. What new discoveries have been made in the field of religion? None.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.

Yes, I think if there were such a thing as the divine and communication from it, then by definition our understanding of it is limited to our own capacity to understand it.

Quote from: Azdgari
And by extension, that the Bible is the limit of what humans can understand about the divine.  QED.

Well, the bible isn't the only book that claims divine inspiration, but you're more or less correct. If there were such a thing as divine inspiration, I think that the kind of hap-hazardness we see in holy writ, and the distillation down to creeds and dogmas is about the best we could ever do.



Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 17, 2014, 12:33:52 AM
I don't think that, and that wasn't a point that I was making. the only point I made was that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher being's terms.

And there are serious and problematic implications of that, in the context of real-world religions and their histories.

I didn't put in the (at the time) part at all. If we're talking about divine revelation from a higher being to a lower one, then that revelation is necessarily going to be transmitted according to the lower being's method of communication and limited by their capacity to understand. that doesn't just apply to the ancient people that applies to anyone and everything.

So, you concede the point that all religious thought since the supposed point of revelation can only either pass on or detract from that revelation?

Realize I'm only talking about revelation

Yeah, I get that.  I'm not talking about other fields of human endeavor either, and I should have made that clearer.

The limitation I'm talking about applies only to the supposition that there is a divine being that revealed anything to us. If that is the case, then you're absolutely right, and it's exactly what we see. What is new about religion? Nothing. What new discoveries have been made in the field of religion? None.

So theology has been utterly useless.  The words of some ancient folks are the best we've ever had.  The first part I'd agree with, the latter perhaps less so.

Well, the bible isn't the only book that claims divine inspiration, but you're more or less correct. If there were such a thing as divine inspiration, I think that the kind of hap-hazardness we see in holy writ, and the distillation down to creeds and dogmas is about the best we could ever do.

Distillation down to creeds and dogmas departs from "the best we have".  It is not the best we could ever do.  It is necessarily worse than a direct reading of the supposed inspirations of ancient folks, unless it too is revealed.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: screwtape on June 17, 2014, 08:53:53 AM
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms.

That only washes if the higher being is not omnipotent and omniscient and not responsible for designing and creating the lower being.  Case in point:

I cant just "explain" to my cat that the needle is for its own good...

1. Is the difference between you and god the same as the difference between your cat and you?  Based on the glowing terms people use for god, I would say no, not even close.  People's opinions of their cats not withstanding.
2. If you were omnipotent and omniscient, you could communicate that to the cat, no?
3. If you were O&O and designed cats, you could have designed them to understand you, no?

But why?

Because of the limitations inherent in you and the cat.  Your example is between differently developed, finite, imperfect creatures.  That is not the situation between man and an alleged god.  If you were O&O, those limitations would not exist.

I am surprised by how poorly thought out your reply was.  Seriously.  Very bad.

Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 17, 2014, 11:01:02 AM
I don't think that, and that wasn't a point that I was making. the only point I made was that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher being's terms.

And there are serious and problematic implications of that, in the context of real-world religions and their histories.

How so?

Quote from: Philosopher_at_large
I didn't put in the (at the time) part at all. If we're talking about divine revelation from a higher being to a lower one, then that revelation is necessarily going to be transmitted according to the lower being's method of communication and limited by their capacity to understand. that doesn't just apply to the ancient people that applies to anyone and everything.

Quote from: Azdgari
So, you concede the point that all religious thought since the supposed point of revelation can only either pass on or detract from that revelation?

Yes. We can, to a certain degree, sift through and weed out the cultural stuff, we can understand the point of an allegory, and distill it all down into creeds, but, I think that's the best we can ever do. 

Quote from: Azdgari
So theology has been utterly useless.  The words of some ancient folks are the best we've ever had.  The first part I'd agree with, the latter perhaps less so.

Going back to my example of the cat, I don't think it can be said that the cat eventually just trusting me was useless, or that my clumsy efforts to get it to do so were utterly futile. In both cases the efforts and outcomes were very slight, but I wouldn't call them useless.


Quote from: Azdgari
Distillation down to creeds and dogmas departs from "the best we have".  It is not the best we could ever do.  It is necessarily worse than a direct reading of the supposed inspirations of ancient folks, unless it too is revealed.

I don't understand what you're saying here. If we have thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of stuff, some of which is just cultural, some of which is just mundane, some of which is the product of inspiration, some of which is allegory, some of which is prose, etc. I don't understand why distilling it down and saying "Here are the main points", or "Here's what this is all driving at", would be worse than the helter skelter that those creeds and dogmas eliminate.

Just a quick word about that, we do that all the time for things that 'can' be normally understood, but are difficult or complicated. The US Constitution has a preamble which lays out the ends to be served by the constitution (and which was put in at the last minute to boot.) Companies have mission statements, scientific papers have an abstract, etc. Even if there were no god and man were a purely natural thing, we cannot do without these, and for most people, these are a lot more helpful. that is, to laymen, they are a great deal more understandable. And if we're talking about revelation  between the divine and man, man is the ultimate layman.

Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 17, 2014, 11:19:37 AM
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms.

That only washes if the higher being is not omnipotent and omniscient and not responsible for designing and creating the lower being.  Case in point:

What does that even mean? It would be too tangential to explain here, but I've never accepted the labels "omnipotent" and "omniscient" when it comes to god. Neither of those labels make any sense and neither of them are a necessary or indispensable quality of a divine being. If we were talking about a genie or a wizard, sure, but when applied to God, I think these labels and concepts arose, not out of necessity, but through Christians desire to say "My god is better than yours, my god can do ANYTHING!".

Omniscience implies that the being should know the outcome of that which is contingent, which is a logical impossibility. god does not know "everything" and can't do "everything". 

I cant just "explain" to my cat that the needle is for its own good...

Quote from: screwtape
1. Is the difference between you and god the same as the difference between your cat and you?  Based on the glowing terms people use for god, I would say no, not even close.  People's opinions of their cats not withstanding.

Forget what people say about God, the only quality of god that need be considered here is that God has a higher intelligence than Man. If that is the case then the chasm between it and man when it comes to communication gets bigger, not smaller. 

Quote from: screwtape
2. If you were omnipotent and omniscient, you could communicate that to the cat, no?

See my above opinion on those terms.

Quote from: screwtape
3. If you were O&O and designed cats, you could have designed them to understand you, no?

Then they wouldn't be cats. If I wanted to "design" a creature that could understand e, I could only design other O&O creatures, I could not "design" Dogs, Cats, People, etc.

Quote from: screwtape
Because of the limitations inherent in you and the cat.  Your example is between differently developed, finite, imperfect creatures.  That is not the situation between man and an alleged god.  If you were O&O, those limitations would not exist.

Again, O&O isn't a concept that I accept as valid, it's an impossibility and contradictory, and you make that point very well when you propose a logical impossibility as a consequence of them. IE:  A being that lacks the capacity to understand, understanding regardless.

It's like saying that of a God were O&O it would be able to add 2 + 2, have it equal 4, have 4 be an odd number and also be a 6.

Because it can do "anything" right?

Ridiculous.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 17, 2014, 11:41:53 AM
How so?

It means that all religious thought since the supposed revelation has been harmful.  All religious thought is negative.

Quote from: Azdgari
So theology has been utterly useless.  The words of some ancient folks are the best we've ever had.  The first part I'd agree with, the latter perhaps less so.

Going back to my example of the cat, I don't think it can be said that the cat eventually just trusting me was useless, or that my clumsy efforts to get it to do so were utterly futile. In both cases the efforts and outcomes were very slight, but I wouldn't call them useless.

That has nothing to do with what I said.  I was talking about theology.  Your cat is not a useful analog here.

I don't understand what you're saying here. If we have thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of stuff, some of which is just cultural, some of which is just mundane, some of which is the product of inspiration, some of which is allegory, some of which is prose, etc. I don't understand why distilling it down and saying "Here are the main points", or "Here's what this is all driving at", would be worse than the helter skelter that those creeds and dogmas eliminate.

I suppose there's the problem of how to determine divine inspiration from its absence in any particular text.  That's your problem, though, not mine.  I was working from the position that we actually had divinely inspired works - devil's advocate, in a way.  But of course that's not the world we live in.  In the world we live in, the only metric for whether a work is divinely inspired is "does it appeal to me?"

Just a quick word about that, we do that all the time for things that 'can' be normally understood, but are difficult or complicated. The US Constitution has a preamble which lays out the ends to be served by the constitution (and which was put in at the last minute to boot.) Companies have mission statements, scientific papers have an abstract, etc. Even if there were no god and man were a purely natural thing, we cannot do without these, and for most people, these are a lot more helpful. that is, to laymen, they are a great deal more understandable. And if we're talking about revelation  between the divine and man, man is the ultimate layman.

See Screwtape's post.  Man is only as much of a layman as a real deity would want us to be.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 17, 2014, 11:58:51 AM
Quote from: Azdgari
It means that all religious thought since the supposed revelation has been harmful.  All religious thought is negative.

How does an inability to comprehend short of our own terms and understanding make religious thought harmful? In what sense are you using the word negative?

Quote from: Philosopher_at_large
Going back to my example of the cat, I don't think it can be said that the cat eventually just trusting me was useless, or that my clumsy efforts to get it to do so were utterly futile. In both cases the efforts and outcomes were very slight, but I wouldn't call them useless.

Quote from: Azdgari
That has nothing to do with what I said.  I was talking about theology.  Your cat is not a useful analog here.

 If Theology is the best we can do, and my clumsy efforts with my cat are the best I can do, then I think the two efforts and outcomes are a fairly good analogy, unless you were making a separate point that I missed.

I don't understand what you're saying here. If we have thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of stuff, some of which is just cultural, some of which is just mundane, some of which is the product of inspiration, some of which is allegory, some of which is prose, etc. I don't understand why distilling it down and saying "Here are the main points", or "Here's what this is all driving at", would be worse than the helter skelter that those creeds and dogmas eliminate.

Quote from: Azdgari
I suppose there's the problem of how to determine divine inspiration from its absence in any particular text.  That's your problem, though, not mine.

Correct. You're right on both counts. 

Quote from: Azdgari
I was working from the position that we actually had divinely inspired works - devil's advocate, in a way.  But of course that's not the world we live in.  In the world we live in, the only metric for whether a work is divinely inspired is "does it appeal to me?"

I don't think that's the only metric but that's a topic for another time. If divine inspiration were a matter of appeal, I would worship the Viking Gods. (Truly, I would.)

Just a quick word about that, we do that all the time for things that 'can' be normally understood, but are difficult or complicated. The US Constitution has a preamble which lays out the ends to be served by the constitution (and which was put in at the last minute to boot.) Companies have mission statements, scientific papers have an abstract, etc. Even if there were no god and man were a purely natural thing, we cannot do without these, and for most people, these are a lot more helpful. that is, to laymen, they are a great deal more understandable. And if we're talking about revelation  between the divine and man, man is the ultimate layman.

Quote from: Azdgari
See Screwtape's post.  Man is only as much of a layman as a real deity would want us to be.

"Want" doesn't really apply, Man is what it is.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Azdgari on June 17, 2014, 12:05:41 PM
How does an inability to comprehend short of our own terms and understanding make religious thought harmful? In what sense are you using the word negative?

Harmful to our understanding of the divine, I mean.

If Theology is the best we can do, and my clumsy efforts with my cat are the best I can do, then I think the two efforts and outcomes are a fairly good analogy, unless you were making a separate point that I missed.

I had taken your cat analogy to mean that you were the deity, and the cat was receiving your message.  Now you've switched the roles, in which your efforts are analogous to theology, rather than your cat's efforts.  Perhaps we can dispense with the silly analogy and speak plainly?

I don't think that's the only metric but that's a topic for another time. If divine inspiration were a matter of appeal, I would worship the Viking Gods. (Truly, I would.)

To have any other metric, we would have to have a conclusive example of divine inspiration to compare with.  Otherwise humans would have no idea outside of their own opinions of what to look for.  In other words, I don't believe you.

"Want" doesn't really apply, Man is what it is.

If the deity is just some advanced alien that had nothing to do with us and isn't all-powerful, etc., then I agree.  But then I'd call it an alien, and not "God".  Unless it's threatening me, perhaps.
Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: screwtape on June 17, 2014, 12:18:04 PM
What does that even mean?

It means you are describing god as something that is just somewhat better than us.  Which makes no sense (as well as being a hard left turn from orthodoxy).

If we were talking about a genie or a wizard, sure, but when applied to God,

Really, what's the difference?  You are saying god is a conscious being with a mind, no?  He/it made choices and decisions to create the universe, no?  The universe was designed by him and brought into being by means far beyond us, no?  So what's the difference?

I really don't think you get to talk about how awesome sauce god is and then balk at omnipotence.  But I'll play along.  Okay, god's merely powerful.  Fine, fine.  He/ It cannot do anything we can conceive.  What's the limit?  What?  He cannot make cats understand him?  How do you even call that a god?  He cannot figure out how to communicate with us better than what is in the bible?  Seriously?  Your god is as lost and clueless as we are. 

Omniscience implies that the being should know the outcome of that which is contingent,

I have never understood the term "contingent" in the context of existential philosophy.  I find it pretentious.  Please use another term.  If your meaning is that god cannot know the future choices of free willed beings, okay, I can accept that as a limitation on omniscience.  But that's not what I'm talking about.  I am talking about simple, plain old design.  A designer makes designs with knowledge of how things work.  That's a kind of knowledge about the future, but not a free will issue.

If the problem is our brains need to be bigger, more efficiently, I can think of ways for that to work.  We're not talking about infinite concepts.  We don't need to understand everything.  We just need to understand better.  So our brains only need to be better, not infinite. 

We are talking about simple accuracy in the bible.  All the metaphorical and allegorical shit need not have been used.  Was the burning bush really necessary?  Did they really need to say Jericho was knocked down by tooting a horn?  Did their model of the universe need to describe a hard dome holding back a celestial ocean?

If we are talking about a being that is a lot smarter than us, why could it not have instructed us first?  Why do we need to be here, 2500 years after "god" allegedly started meddling in the Middle East (and why start there and why exclusively there?) only just starting to understand how the universe works?  Why is god not helping us now?


Forget what people say about God, the only quality of god that need be considered here is that God has a higher intelligence than Man. If that is the case then the chasm between it and man when it comes to communication gets bigger, not smaller. 

How much higher?  A little higher?  And no, the chasm does not get bigger.  I think people can understand cats better than, say, orangutans.  Thus that allows us to convey meaning to cats better than orangutans can.   


Then they wouldn't be cats. If I wanted to "design" a creature that could understand e, I could only design other O&O creatures, I could not "design" Dogs, Cats, People, etc.

Oh, for fucksakes.  So god did not design creatures that could understand it because either it had no clue how or it didn't want to because then it wouldn't be designing the creatures it wanted?  You are saying the design of people could not possibly have been better?  "Then we wouldn't have been people," is rejected as a retard answer.


Again, O&O isn't a concept that I accept as valid,

Then you're not talking about a god.  You might as well be talking about an advanced alien race, or the beings humans will evolve into in several million years (provided we don't wipe ourselves out first) or the AI robots we will create.

IE:  A being that lacks the capacity to understand, understanding regardless.

I do not understand this sentence.

It's like saying that of a God were O&O it would be able to add 2 + 2, have it equal 4, have 4 be an odd number and also be a 6.

No, that is not what I've been talking about.  You are getting all wound up over something I've not said.

Title: Re: My five topics for Christian believers
Post by: Philosopher_at_large on June 17, 2014, 12:49:40 PM
Quote from: Azdgari
Harmful to our understanding of the divine, I mean.

I still don't see how.

If Theology is the best we can do, and my clumsy efforts with my cat are the best I can do, then I think the two efforts and outcomes are a fairly good analogy, unless you were making a separate point that I missed.

Quote from: AzdgariI had taken your cat analogy to mean that you were the deity, and the cat was receiving your message.  Now you've switched the roles, in which [i
your[/i] efforts are analogous to theology, rather than your cat's efforts.  Perhaps we can dispense with the silly analogy and speak plainly?

The only thing that this analogy was meant to show is that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher beings terms, only the lower beings. That the information imparted by higher beings is limited by the lower beings capacity to understand, and that all of these efforts usually result in the understanding on the part of the lower beings being very slight and only barely understood.

Dispensing with the analogies, that is my point. 

I don't think that's the only metric but that's a topic for another time. If divine inspiration were a matter of appeal, I would worship the Viking Gods. (Truly, I would.)

Quote from: Azdgari
To have any other metric, we would have to have a conclusive example of divine inspiration to compare with.  Otherwise humans would have no idea outside of their own opinions of what to look for.  In other words, I don't believe you.

I am compelled to say that, based on the truths of philosophical theology, only the religions that are monotheistic and theological (not polytheistic or cosmological) might be true. By this standard (that of philosophical theology), it doesn't matter what I "want" to be true or what I "prefer" to be true, it maters what is and is not convincing to me.

I think that that is the metric by which we all proceed.

"Want" doesn't really apply, Man is what it is.

Quote from: Azdgari
If the deity is just some advanced alien that had nothing to do with us and isn't all-powerful, etc., then I agree.  But then I'd call it an alien, and not "God".  Unless it's threatening me, perhaps.

I wouldn't call that a god either but that's kind of beside the point. We're supposing that a divine being created things that were not them selves divine beings. Creatures with higher and lower levels of intelligence and ability. If what you're saying is that a divine being wouldn't do such a thing, I can olly answer that, if this hypothetical were the case, I would be glad that it did.