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Faith, Reason and Truth


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So I guess your arguing that it could just be a statistic probability that this occurs to someone. Admittedly it could. But I think in certain situations things work out too good to be a coincidence. And people will argue oh well that's statistics too; but it's a matter of interpretation I think. It could just be a massive coincidence that I get what they pray in good faith for but personally I don't think so. This is where the 'faith' comes into play I suppose.

And this is the important thing:

The outcome counts, not the way you get there.

 

Basically, all major religions AND (humanist) atheists want in practice exactly the same thing:

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

 

So why arguing about the individual subjective reasons when it's the exact same thing we all want ?

Some FEEL a divine intervention and responsibility, others FEEL it is not so. What unifies us is that we want quite the same thing:

A certain set of ethics, morals, a certain way of living.

And while there is sometimes (small) disagreement how good morals look like, there is quite instant universal agreement what bad morals look like (it's not always easy to decide what's good or bad exactly ; but practically all humans notice really bad or unjust behavior/conditions on the spot when they see them).

 

So, if people want to have magic/religion/mystics I have no problem with it - after all, our very existence is still (and by all science) exactly that: mystic.

 

I suppose many atheists have a so big problem with religion because in the name of religion many horrendous things happened - and are happening. Many religions are just ripoffs, like Scientology.

So, lot's of people identify to be religion as a threat to mankind, and an especially sneaky one - and react with contempt for anything religious.

But science is also used for bad things, and Nazi ideology had some roots in humanism (weird twisted ones of course; but most religions have been and are literally raped to fit an ideology to do bad things like crusades, suicide bombings, witch burnings and all that).

 

So, as long religion - "as advertised" - is used to help people it's just fine and only a matter of personal choice, absolutely acceptable.

But when it's forced on people, and used for bad things, it is something to be defiant against.

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"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly while bad people will find a way around the laws." - Plato

"When outmatched... cheat."— Batman

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When good coincidences happen is because god heard your prayers, and if a bad coincidence happen, well, god works in mysterious ways. This is the usual line of thought of religious people.

 

Well, it may look childish naive to some; but such a view is not hurting anyone, as long it doesn't changes behavior negatively (like instead of looking for food, praying for food ->starving->dying).

 

We don't know about reality; science is the best philosophic tool we have, but it is not solving any of the big questions.

 

If tomorrow the holy pyramidal unicorn of the one god, which happens to be a blue tomato, actually descends from the sky and brings paradise and immortality to us all you would have to accept it as reality - even if it looked silly before.

 

 

Guys, we all have to better the world, and should not waste arguing WHY EXACTLY we should do so.

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly while bad people will find a way around the laws." - Plato

"When outmatched... cheat."— Batman

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I was just providing a philosophical argument to how it would be reasonable to combine the two since the Bible doesn't say how the Earth was made and it doesn't, as some have ascertained here, say how old the Earth is either. The creationism theory is inferred from the text.

 

Thanks for the clarification.

 

I think I understand part of the contention.

 

We start with:

 

"In spite of textual appearance, the Bible accurately describes the reality we have discovered thus far by Science."

 

...which leads to:

 

"How did people thousands of years ago know about and document accurate Scientific data?"

 

...which leads to:

 

"God told them"

 

...which leads to:

 

"How do know that God was the deity (?) that told them?"

 

And this is where the "leap-of-faith" come into play. There are an infinite number of speculations about why or why not people thousands of years ago may (or may not) have documented accurate Scientific observations.

 

You could chose Time Traveler, Alien, Psychic abilities, Atlantis (or other advanced yet vanished civilizations), etc... but you choose God.

 

And that choice has nothing to do with any evidence that rules out the other thousands of possibilities. So this is the circular line of questioning that keeps coming back around. What makes God a better choice to explain this than anything else. And this is where perhaps a gut-feeling an instinct or leap fo faith says "Sure, anything's possible but God makes the most sense to me personally." And that is about the same thing as a parent telling a child "Because I said so.", there is no further understanding or explanation to dwell on. So we arrive at what is technically (philosophically) an irrational belief. You cant pick it apart an show any further underlying explanation.

 

But don't feel bad because you may be in the same boat as most people (probably everyone) who simply have limits where they say I believe something or like something "just because" without any further ability to define why. Including Scientific types who would be absolutely crushed if, for example, it turned out that gravity changes according to the time of day and mood we're in. The Scientists have Faith in Objective Reality in spite of the PR stance that they will sway to the results of their experiments. If the results show an unwieldy random Universe that cant be correctly tested by their methods they will throw them out and try again. The whole Scientific endeavor is to prove that the same results apply always for everyone who tries them. I myself have a faith in this concept as most sane people do but this is the place where the Scientists of the world personally wont reason further. This is their "Because I said so" area (and probably rightly so).

 

I will imagine that most of the denizens of this forum would say that the Scientist's "Because I said so" area is better than the Religious version but I will offer that this is a personal choice and that the real daring folk have no "Because I said so" area and would willingly accept a reality that can instantly change the wave-length of visible light and plop a bowl of cereal on their kitchen table from the aether.

 

I have at least the faith in science and objective reality.

 

I am agnostic but leaning towards the existence of God.

 

These are my "Because I said so" limits and they are BOTH technically irrational.

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And that choice has nothing to do with any evidence that rules out the other thousands of possibilities. So this is the circular line of questioning that keeps coming back around. What makes God a better choice to explain this than anything else. And this is where perhaps a gut-feeling an instinct or leap fo faith says "Sure, anything's possible but God makes the most sense to me personally." And that is about the same thing as a parent telling a child "Because I said so.", there is no further understanding or explanation to dwell on. So we arrive at what is technically (philosophically) an irrational belief. You cant pick it apart an show any further underlying explanation.

 

Well for Christianity there's the widely accepted fact that some guy named Jesus taught some stuff to people about the Bible. For the other religions the question is not whether he existed or not but if he was a messiah; but I think most scholars would agree he did exist (Yes there's always those who don't as well so lets not argue about it). I personally trust human nature and therefore I trust accounts of the apostles and use their detailed written accounts as evidence for, not only his existence, but the extent of his divine nature. I also believe that he fulfilled the hundreds of prophesies which were in the Old Testament to prove his divine nature which could not of been purely coincidental. Not only did his followers die, or risk death for their claims, they fought to defend them as well, against a Roman government who at first wanted to kill the religion off. So to me, I feel it's obvious that early Christians including the apostles believed in what they saw and learned under the guidance of Jesus and I believe that what they saw was true divinity at work. As for the idea that maybe the apostles didn't exist, there's new evidence everyday such as parts of their original scriptures which help backup the claim that YES they existed. So I think one can safely say they existed but if one believes the claims made by them is entirely different, but I choose too. And because I believe that yes Jesus was the Lord and Savior then Yes I believe in a God as well since Jesus' existence was evidence of it itself.

 

This is much different than believing a hillbilly in a shack that he saw a UFO that had aliens in it and had a stick stuck up his ass.

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Well I'd say that the intrinsic self-consistency of the accounts adds more weight to your belief but does not technically move you into the realm of (philosophical) rational thought.

 

There are a number of reasons we could promote as to why the accounts are written as they are.

 

In fact, we have to live with Constantine's Curse which means that much of what Jesus was railing against was Helenistic Society yet Constantine was trying to preserve his Helenistic world. So we will never know how deeply anti-Helenistic Jesus may have been because Constantine was the final word about what was "allowed" into the Bible.

 

There are many scholars who say that Jesus was attributed with divinity because nothing less than a divine being could be (in Constantine's eyes) the figure which endow's Constantine with the right to rule Rome. Then we have that whole Pontious Pilate deal in the Bible which practically absolves Rome (the biggest enemy up till then) and shifts all the blame to the Jews.

 

Who was the common enemy of Jesus and the Jewish people?

Who went to war with Rome when another "Messiah" told them they had the strength to do so?

Who was hunting down Christians and feeding them to lions?

 

Why are we listening to a Bible that was revised by the ENEMY of it's author. If anything is against the word of God it is the Poly-thiestic, Poly-Cultural, Hedonist, Capitalists, the HELENIST. Rome is almost identical to the hated "Philistines" which were likely an off-shoot of Mycenaean culture (Greeks the founders of Helenism). And because of Constantine's revisions we now live in a Helenistic society as well. He rebuilt the Bible to serve his needs plain and simple opportunism. Easy to tell because he threatened the life of the Pope at one point with no care for the immortal consequences (quite a "Holy" fellow that Constantine...).

 

That is just one interpretation that has been posited and it's very convincing to me.

 

But again the interpretation you choose will start with a process but at the end there will be no further logic to it. You will hit your "Because I say so" barrier (just as anyone else would).

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What we don't have explanations for is how many things in one's life just fall into a neatly organized convenient place all the time for some and not others.

 

The answer is right there in the question: "for some and not others". Ergo, it's just random chance.

 

If things neatly fell into place for everybody (or everybody who prayed to a certain god), that would suggest something more is going on.

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Hahah, this is awesome - Do other mods always have religious debates pop up? Or is it because the "factions" in our game tend to incite this sort of discussion?

 

Unfortunately I can't tell from the first post cause it was obviously broken off from another thread. I'd really like to know how this started :) and who made the "Obviously you've never read the bible" comment...

 

 

JoHo's....

 

You know, I think if every religion in the world was replaced with Jehova's Witnesses, things would be probably okay. Say what you want about them, but it seems that they are so fucking passive, they would never cause a problem at all. They say the first part of the Bible is the Mosaic Law, and so you shouldn't obey the 10 commandments or the examples of stoning etc. they say the last half, with the return of Jesus, just says there are only 2 commanments for the future - Love God, and then love everyone else like you would yourself. Kinda harmless. Of course loving god means accepting the bible as truth (except for the mosaic first half) so they dont' belive in gays, blood transfusions, abortions, and sex before marriage, but they don't force this on anyone.

 

You see I've been letting the same 2 Jehova's Witnesses come over to my house to educate me on the Bible every Saturday morning, just because they are so polite, and so convinced that they have the answers and that they can convince me. And I LOVE debating... and this promises to be the best debate ever. It can't end in a squabble, because they are polite and reasonable and (relatively) well thought out. And it can't end in them ignoring me, or a live-and-let-live "ah you should just try accepting God for yourself and see what it's like, I don't have all the answers", because they are so convinced they are right, they intend to stick with me to the very end until I'm convinced. And So unlike the religious debates I've taken part in on forums, this HAS to go somewhere interesting!

 

At the moment they've given me a very entertaining handbook called "LIFE - How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?"

Ho man... if you could read this. What I was hoping to actually be the epitome of what they represent - a well thought out, logical, religious argument (oxymoron), turns out to be just like every other religious argument, once you scratch the surface. They love all the "quotes" from "scientists" in this book. Firstly, they quote real scientists OUT OF CONTEXT, EVERY TIME - including the famous Darwin "The eye seems too complex to be explained by evolution" - basically wherever there is a hyperbolic opening statement, they quote that, and omit the actual following text that answers the proposed problem!!

And then, the rest of the scientists they quote, turn out to be the fringe types that are known to be wrong, and are also into "Dowsing" and other magical stuff...

 

And then of course there's the emotional aspect that you always see in this stuff - where it talks about the supposed disagreements upon how evolution occoured, we see illustrations of men arguing (not photos mind you), and then when it gets to the creationist section - suddenly the pages are filled with pictures of sunsets, and birds...

 

I can't even begin to describe the audacity of this book - it may seem very convincing to a lay person, but not if they have Google handy...

Here is a page that points out almost all the flaws in this handbook - and ironically, it's written by a Jehova's Witness!!

http://www.dimaggio.org/Heretic/critical.htm

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When we get into things like this it's pretty much just conspiracy theory.

 

Ha! :laugh:

 

Yeah, you got me there a bit. :)

 

( Not that I ascribe to the Dan Brown version but I still can't shake the feeling that something has been watered down. Especially since Jesus took the word "Hypocrite" which used to mean "Actor" and turned it into a major insult. If Constantine didn't revise things I suspect that the early Christian's did because a full-blown tirade against Roman culture probably wouldn't win many converts. ;) )

 

I was just trying to illustrate the type of things that can be imagined about the authenticity of the texts.

I know we have to factor in things like Midrash, the Documentary Hypothesis, and the Telephone Game effect.

 

I guess it comes down to "Is any 2nd hand (probably more than 3rd hand) account of an event reliable enough?" and if not "Is the compelling nature of this account enough to overcome the first question?". At some point you cease to work out a logical reason for what you believe and simply hold the belief as an immutable part of reality.

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I really like what Outlooker said at the top of the page.

 

Speaking of Irrationality which was mentioned earlier, I think it Irrational to bash religion of all kind when it was religion that stopped us acting like animals*. when you waste your energy hating someone's beliefs, what is it that makes you care? would you ever think about it unless someone came up to you and asked you what you thought to test whether you were cool enough to be part of their world? or if some extremist came up to you and shoved it down your throat? Believe it or not, not everyone religious is extremist. I think the question that most heavy duty atheist aught to be asking themselves is, "why is it that christians, jews, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus etc annoy me so much? is it just because i think they're wrong or is there something more to it" Perhaps you'll be surprised to relief yourself of your anger when you can appreciate the what good it does.

 

Just think about those things prevented that would otherwise rip apart the fabric of society if it weren't for people like one long haired dude who MAY or MAY NOT have been the son of God who in turn may or may not have excised:

 

-Murder

-Injustice

-adultery

-Lying/cheating (at least worldly things like currency and matters of universal acknowledgement)

-taking what's not yours to take (for the most part :rolleyes:)

 

Because in the end, there will always be religion, so what's the point in a never ending battle?

 

So is it rational for some people to believe in religion? why not? if no one believed in religion, what a dark world we'd be in, would it still exist? This world we live in (and I must stress 'live' in) is a world full of religion and consequently people who have past down the tradition of loving each other and all of that have shared it with the world. Logically we might have advanced but probably not before we'd killed each other. Progression should be measured in interaction with each other as well as in technology and science.

 

*Baring people who kill people in the name of their god, and....Scientology :)

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You see I've been letting the same 2 Jehova's Witnesses come over to my house to educate me on the Bible every Saturday morning, just because they are so polite, and so convinced that they have the answers and that they can convince me. And I LOVE debating... and this promises to be the best debate ever. It can't end in a squabble, because they are polite and reasonable and (relatively) well thought out. And it can't end in them ignoring me, or a live-and-let-live "ah you should just try accepting God for yourself and see what it's like, I don't have all the answers", because they are so convinced they are right, they intend to stick with me to the very end until I'm convinced. And so unlike the religious debates I've taken part in on forums, this HAS to go somewhere interesting!

 

On man I did the very same! I called them my Jehovah's Witness Stalkers, and they came round every Saturday for weeks on end. Each week I reiterated that I'm a staunch atheist and that they had absolutely no hope of converting me, but that I loved a debate, and secretly thought it might be mice to introduce just a little doubt in their minds. And each week they would come over and shoot the breeze with me on my doorstep. We'd have a lovely debate that unfortunately never went anywhere though, because after every 'profound' point they made about How science couldn't possibly explain X, Y or Z, I'd inevitably answer with "yes, I agree, but I'm happy with that situation" or with "yes but I'm quite content to accept that it was all a massive coincidence".

 

Anyway, a word of warning. My wife was getting unhappy about these folk coming round uninvited. It had been 2 months, I had grown tired of the circular debates, the copies of "The Watchtower" were piling up (unread) and they had started to drop hints that they'd like to come into the house. I'd also got a bit annoyed at their narrow-mindedness. They just couldn't accept that my beliefs were as firmly held as theirs and that I was happy with those beliefs. It felt a little intolerant. The problem was that they were just so darned nice. How was I supposed to turn them away? It would be like punching Santa.

 

She told me that I need to stand firm and tell them to bugger off, and then she sat on the stairs next time they came over and just glared at me until I'd sent them packing. I did so, and yet they still came round next week. Now here's where it gets a little creepy. I wasn't in, and so my wife answered the door. "He's not in," she said. They didn't believe her. An argument ensued (a very placid, Christian argument), and my wife clearly said she wasn't interested. As she started to shut the door, one of them put his foot in the way to hold the door open. My wife (who's not to be trifled with) was fuming at this and told them very clearly what she thought of them and slammed the door in her face. They never returned, but the missus was (rightly) a little shaken up by the experience. Since then, I limit my theological discussions to online forums and friends.

"We were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign — and no memories" - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

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Just think about those things prevented that would otherwise rip apart the fabric of society if it weren't for people like one long haired dude who MAY or MAY NOT have been the son of God who in turn may or may not have excised:

 

-Murder

-Injustice

-adultery

-Lying/cheating (at least worldly things like currency and matters of universal acknowledgement)

-taking what's not yours to take (for the most part :rolleyes:)

Still staying mostly out of this, but a correction here: actually, crime rates are higher among the religious than the non-religious, and this includes divorce rates. You can find statistics online for verification.

 

if no one believed in religion, what a dark world we'd be in, would it still exist?

Who knows, we could be praising Sol System President Gene Roddenberry by now.

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Wow, a lot to catch up on! :)

 

@ Bambini

All this would "prove" is the existence of a benevolent/meddlesome God and that the Bible was written by men and wasn't the direct Word of God. I never made suggestions otherwise.

 

I didn't say it would "prove" anything. I said it would be interesting, circumstantial evidence that a God is real. You said we can't prove gods exist; I essentially agreed with you but said we could build up circumstantial evidence (if it existed) that might point towards the existence of a god. None of that circumstantial evidence exists, however.

 

I never made suggestions otherwise. I also never suggested that the Bible was a literal text or anything of the sort.

 

And I never claimed that you did, so I'm not sure what you're referring to. I think we actually agree more than we disagree.

 

I agree, but we aren't talking about plucking answers out of thin air here, we are talking about people using available information and coming to their own conclusions about matters that are unavoidably beyond human limits of understanding.

 

I'm not quite sure where to start with this one. First of all, how do you know that these "matters" (by that I assume you mean the existence of gods) are "unavoidably beyond human limits of understanding"?

 

What if the jar is covered up, so we can't ever "see" the answer. All we know is that the jar is a certain size and has jellybeans in it. Just because we disagree on the number of jellybeans, doesn't make either of us wrong.

... Other people might believe the jar is empty, and they could well be right too.

 

If the jar "has jellybeans in it" then claiming it is empty CANNOT be right.

 

I can't tell exactly what point you're trying to make. On the one hand, you've agreed with me that not all beliefs are equally likely to be true; you've agreed that some beliefs are far less likely to be true than others, yet seem to be fighting against labeling ideas as "wrong". Would it make it any better if I said that "wrong" is basically linguistic shorthand for "highly unlikely to be true"?

 

Another guy could use their date of birth to pick a number, and you're right, the chances are they're way off, but they too could be right

 

Yes, the could be right, just like nearly anything could be true. However, they have picked a clearly inferior way of getting close to the right number, and the odds of them being right are astronomically low. That means we can still judge their guess as "highly unlikely to be true" and less worthy of respect than a reasonable estimate.

 

And in this reality, the holocaust actually did happen and I don't owe anyone a million dollars. We could argue that this is all subjective (sort of a Matrix-esque take on things) and start to question the nature of reality, but since we can't escape reality it is irrelevant and silly

 

You're right, that would be irrelevant and silly. However, if we're assuming that we live in a reality that can be "trusted" (as opposed to something Matrix-esque), then you CAN say certain beliefs about reality are "wrong" and others are correct.

 

And yes, I am saying that since we can't rule it out is remains plausible.

 

So we've gone full circle, it seems. You seem to be saying that belief in God is in some special category that operates by different rules, because we can never rule it out 100%. I've already acknowledged there is always uncertainty. We can never rule out with 100% certainty that Spiderman exists. That does NOT make the existence of Spiderman "plausible" in any meaningful way, and I don't see why a god would be any different.

 

The existence of something is only "plausible" if there is some valid reasons to believe it might be true. What valid reasons are there to support belief in a god?

 

@Outlooker:

 

(to quote Dostoevsky :"If God does not exist, everything is permitted")

Think about it - if one would be 100% sure there is no god to "punish" ones "sins" in the unknown after death , this person could do ANYTHING - any atrocity on any scale, you just had to make sure not to get caught or rise to absolute power).

 

I prefer the opposite quote: "If God is on our side, everything is permitted".

 

There are multiple ways to contradict the idea that people are moral only because they fear some retribution in the afterlife, I'll just pick one that I've already mentioned: countries with higher rates of religious believers have more violent crime than countries with higher rates of nonbelievers. Obviously fear of God is not keeping religious people from committing violent crimes.

 

@Jdude:

your arguing that it could just be a statistic probability that this occurs to someone. Admittedly it could. ... It could just be a massive coincidence that I get what they pray in good faith for but personally I don't think so. This is where the 'faith' comes into play I suppose.

 

Yes, it does. Faith always has to come into play when the evidence is not sufficient.

That was the idea that started the thread in the first place.

 

Study after study has shown that prayer fails to work, but it doesn't matter. People have very selective memories. We tend to forget the prayers that don't get answered, and the bad days when everything seems to be working against us, and instead remember the one time we prayed for something and it came true.

 

I find it half amusing and half disturbing how some people think God answers their prayers to "get to work on time" or "win the football game" or "pass this test", but that he ignores the prayers of hundreds of thousands of Christian parents in third world countries who watch their children die.

 

I personally trust human nature and therefore I trust accounts of the apostles and use their detailed written accounts as evidence for, not only his existence, but the extent of his divine nature

 

You trust the Gospels because you "trust human nature"? I'm sure you know, first of all, that the Gospels weren't actually written by the apostles, or by any other eyewitness to Jesus, right?

 

Although there's some small evidence to suggest that Jesus might have been a historical figure, there is absolutely no clear historical record of anything he said or did. The earliest Gospels were not written for decades after his death, and we only have copies of copies of those to go on. Even if the originals were written by someone who was of the utmost character and honesty, how accurate could you expect them to be after thirty years of nothing but people telling oral stories? How accurate would they be after centuries of copying, translating, and recopying? If you want to talk about "human nature", it's human nature to exaggerate, to misremember, and to lose things in translation.

 

As for the Old Testament prophecies, you do know that the writers of the New Testament had read the OT, right? Of course they would make sure that their messiah fulfilled the important prophecies (although he doesn't fill a lot of them...why do you think there are still Jews in the world?). The entire Bethlehem story is an obvious fabrication, probably to make sure the prophecy in Micah 5:2 was fulfilled.

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if no one believed in religion, what a dark world we'd be in, would it still exist? This world we live in (and I must stress 'live' in) is a world full of religion and consequently people who have past down the tradition of loving each other and all of that have shared it with the world. Logically we might have advanced but probably not before we'd killed each other. Progression should be measured in interaction with each other as well as in technology and science.

 

I agree with your general sentiment of not needlessly bashing people's beliefs, however your argument that religion is somehow responsible for the taming mankind and eradicating crime is laughable when you look at the evidence (Crusades anyone? Salem witch hunts?).

 

By that argument, you should be perfectly willing to move to Iran which being a religious country must be a haven of peace and love, unlike for example France which as a secular nation is ruled by crime and anarchy.

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Ooh, burn! biggrin.gif

 

Really, arguing that religion prevents us from living in a dark world is laughable. Imagine how terrifying it must have been to be living during the Inquisition (Mortem Desino, help me out). You didn't even have to be non Christian to feel the wrath of the almighty unquestionable Church, look at Galileo and any number of other examples.

 

In the past, when we knew so little about the natural world, religion with one hand tried to shed light on the darkness that surrounded us, and with the other sought to take advantage of people's fears of the unknown and in many cases capitalised on this fear by creating ever more terrifying evils that could be used to convince people to turn to the Church.

 

I think that religion has done some good, and what's more I think that religion has been a natural and very necessary cultural phenomenon during our evolution into scientific 'enlightenment'. I just don't think that it should have a place in our future if we're ever to progress beyond being frightened creatures who need mythical stories to cling onto for moral guidance or a sense of purpose. On that point, I used to think that there must be a 'meaning' to life, but I've come to understand that not everything has to have a purpose, some things just 'are'. Shit happens, deal with it. tongue.gif

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Yes, it does. Faith always has to come into play when the evidence is not sufficient.

That was the idea that started the thread in the first place.

 

Study after study has shown that prayer fails to work, but it doesn't matter. People have very selective memories. We tend to forget the prayers that don't get answered, and the bad days when everything seems to be working against us, and instead remember the one time we prayed for something and it came true.

 

I find it half amusing and half disturbing how some people think God answers their prayers to "get to work on time" or "win the football game" or "pass this test", but that he ignores the prayers of hundreds of thousands of Christian parents in third world countries who watch their children die.

I find your just using language to back up your arguments spring. Correlation is evidence even if it doesn't imply causation.

Then you mention study after study. What study, where? Are they legitimate, how can you possibly measure the degree to which the subjects are true Christian, how can you measure that they've prayed for the right thing, how can you set a specific time to rule out that prayer doesn't work when it can take years for it to pass?

Then you mention football, passing tests, getting to work on time. Notice I said prayer in good faith. These are not things in good faith these are things that are for personal gain.

 

 

You trust the Gospels because you "trust human nature"? I'm sure you know, first of all, that the Gospels weren't actually written by the apostles, or by any other eyewitness to Jesus, right?

 

Although there's some small evidence to suggest that Jesus might have been a historical figure, there is absolutely no clear historical record of anything he said or did. The earliest Gospels were not written for decades after his death, and we only have copies of copies of those to go on. Even if the originals were written by someone who was of the utmost character and honesty, how accurate could you expect them to be after thirty years of nothing but people telling oral stories? How accurate would they be after centuries of copying, translating, and recopying? If you want to talk about "human nature", it's human nature to exaggerate, to misremember, and to lose things in translation.

 

As for the Old Testament prophecies, you do know that the writers of the New Testament had read the OT, right? Of course they would make sure that their messiah fulfilled the important prophecies (although he doesn't fill a lot of them...why do you think there are still Jews in the world?).

After just 30 years? I'd think pretty accurate still. I don't think you'd accidentally make up seeing someone arise from the dead. And after years of translation and recopying? How would recopying affect the legitimacy of a book, and when you translate something do you translate a translation or go to the most original copy of the text? I'm aware of all the arguments you present and I still believe that their accurate representations of what Jesus did and was like. There's Jews because they interpret the Torah differently just like everyone interprets everything differently which is why we have so many different sub religions. Their mere existence doesn't rule out Jesus' purpose as you'd infer. Do I believe what my father tells me about my grandpa even though it's more than 30 years old and isn't written? Yes. We could argue about human nature all day tho and I don't wanna.

 

I agree with your general sentiment of not needlessly bashing people's beliefs, however your argument that religion is somehow responsible for the taming mankind and eradicating crime is laughable when you look at the evidence (Crusades anyone? Salem witch hunts?).

The Knights Templar weren't even endorsed by the Christian Church until there was money to be made, so I'd think religion wasn't the driving factor behind them considering they were doing what they were doing before any real endorsement. (I often think of religion in an abstract sense so it's use and what it is are different imo) And even with the endorsement they were still considered by most people as a sham since they didn't actually follow the teachings of the New Testament and there we see the first a corruption of organized religion in Christian Churches imo. Then you have Genghis Khan who didn't even want to push a religion but was massacring the Asian lands and actually endorsed religious freedoms. TBH I think religion had a small role as being used as propaganda to recruiter and to justify wars in an attempt to get power and land. Religion isn't the only thing that is used like this though and it shouldn't be banished because of people's manipulation of it.

 

As for Salem witch hunts, I don't think it's fair to take a group of fundamentalists who misinterpret the Bible and lay that overlay on all history and areas of religion. For example, look at how the Islamic people have to defend themselves now because of a couple fundamentalists who took our the WTCs. Normal Islamists make it quite clear that they don't endorse the WTC attacks. Because a couple people have done something unjustly seemingly in the name of something else, doesn't mean Islam is dangerous, nor is any labeling of Christianity for what happened in one brief year by a couple of fundamentalist rejects.

 

Edit:

And Midnight is why I refer to Athiesm as a belief system. Because he holds his beliefs of there being no supernatural entity and believes that there no possible way religion can hold to be substantial, he advocates that religion should not exist in the future and belittles it and it's followers. I consider that imposing your beliefs on others. I don't care if he is Atheist, I think it's only common sense to exercise respect for others beliefs.

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Really, arguing that religion prevents us from living in a dark world is laughable. Imagine how terrifying it must have been to be living during the Inquisition (Mortem Desino, help me out). You didn't even have to be non Christian to feel the wrath of the almighty unquestionable Church, look at Galileo and any number of other examples.

No, thank you, I have enough Latin homework to do, without translating more firsthand accounts circa 1200-1500.

 

Now let's not let any inflated egos get in the way and keep moving on with the discussion. I'd rather not have anyone remain silent from discussion because this thread has made them afraid of causing some offense. I stepped back from discussion for a while just to observe, and I'm a bit unimpressed that this got in the way.

 

Not saying I agree or believe this, but a Lutheran friend of mine described his beliefs like this:

 

Atheists and Christians can both look at the world with disgust. Humans have done some pretty nasty things. Religious and atheistic have both commited terrible atrocities that truly can't be reconciled or rationalized under any paradigm. This is the problem of evil. The Agnostic looks at the world and whether by intuition or rational thinking, recognizes that we need help in solving these problems, and there must be a much higher power or being in existence to orchestrate meaning and purpose for everything. Then, the Christian goes the next step from that by saying that he/she believes that the higher being does not remain silent, but wants to reveal himself—in the Bible.

 

And this God, as creator of all things, is empathetic toward his creation of humanity, who have fallen and forgotten their created purpose. So, he had to come to earth as Jesus to sacrifice himself to restore balance and forgiveness between himself, the supreme being, and his lost and confused masterpiece: humanity. Most other religions recognize the evils of humanity, and create laws for man to follow in order justify himself to God or gods. Christianity, when it emphasizes God's love and sacrifice for mankind, not man's sacrificing oneself for God, is unique in that way. God comes to man.

 

I kind of like this construction. But I would like to hear other people's thoughts.

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I agree with you about ending the discussion. All I want to get out of this is that people here will respect each others beliefs and not feel that by the mere the mention of one's beliefs is an excuse to push your own doctrine upon them, attack their beliefs, or label them. When this occurs all that happens is suppression of each other. Respect for each others beliefs is all I want here (religious freedom) which is why I've been trying to defend people's beliefs including my own. And tbh I'm sick of posting here and I think it's ironic how after this thread started my 'reputation' dropped 4 points.

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And Midnight is why I refer to Athiesm as a belief system. Because he holds his beliefs of there being no supernatural entity and believes that there no possible way religion can hold to be substantial, he advocates that religion should not exist in the future and belittles it and it's followers. I consider that imposing your beliefs on others. I don't care if he is Atheist, I think it's only common sense to exercise respect for others beliefs.

I'm sorry that you felt I was belittling you and others who share your belief, that wasn't my intention and I apologise for how I came across in my post. My comment about the need to believe in myth is a result of my own perspective on the history of religion (which is often termed myth in retrospect) and the purpose it has served in defining how we see the world.

 

For a long time I held the belief (yes, belief) that there is no proof of God therefore there is no God. Period. My previous remark didn't exactly give the impression that I might hold a different view, so please allow me this opportunity to clarify my position.

 

Belief implies that you are holding to a view that has no factual basis and, for various reasons, I've tried over the past few years to refrain from believing in anything, as this opens the door for emotion and bias to shape your views. As hard as I might try though, belief in certain things is difficult to avoid sometimes. So... picture a staunch Athiest, certain that there is no God, no good and evil, and that belief without proof is the only real sin left in the world.

 

Now, one night I happened to look up at the stars on a clear night and staring into the centre of our galaxy I was struck by the immenseness of the Universe, and rather than take this as proof that we are insignificant beings as I normally would, I had a sense that maybe there was an intelligent force that exists in those depths of space, and in every atom in our bodies. I realised that we might simply not be capable of detecting the kind of intelligence I had imagined, and that I had to allow for that possibility (irrespective of probability). I guess you could say I changed my belief that night, and now allow in my mind for there to be a God-like intelligence in the Universe, even one that is concerned about us and possibly even able to affect us in some way. So no, I no longer consider myself an Athiest. This new viewpoint is of course quite different from being ready to accept a literal interpretation of religious text, but I'll leave that discussion for another time.

 

The comment about religion having no place in our future is a little harder to excuse. I have religious friends, and a family member who is into 'new age' healing and spirituality, and what frustrates me is the ease with which they will believe things without questioning them, from evolution being a hoax to end of world prophecies and other demonstrably false claims. My comment about religion was borne of frustration with belief in general, but that's my problem, not yours.

 

@MD: I apologise for drawing you into this discussion if that was not your wish. I'm all for people being able to express their viewpoints, I hope I didn't give the impression that any opinions should be shut out.

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Well Mortem I think that's a fine perspective.

 

I think jdude is trying to convey how easily you can interpret the Biblical text to match our Scientific world-view while Springheel finds those machinations to be a silly and inconsistent exercise.

 

I think both sides of that coin could have some merit:

 

We can easily look at the words in the Bible as figurative for almost anything so why not attribute some interpretation as matching Science?

 

Conversely, Religion is magic. Why bother trying to append a framework that objects to magic by it's very methods to the most magical thing in the universe?

 

I think most Atheists and Agnostics are much happier when religious people leave their beliefs in the world of magic. When the religious try to include Scientific physical evidence for their beliefs this is considered an affront to all the work that was done to find a "magic-free" explanation of things.

 

But I do think jdude's complex concept of God interwoven into the forces of nature is a profound way to view the hand of God. Left for it's own merits it's neat to think of the consequences for predetermination verses free-will in a universe where God has set all the Dominoes and is acting through their fall-patterns.

 

I think Springheel is particularly perturbed about the idea that the Bible would help someone "think things through" or "understand things". And I have to agree that we should measure what we decide to do in this world by what we can know through Science. But if we want to know what God is asking of us then the Bible is a valid reference. To many this is a dangerous idea because God has been credited for some of the craziest behaviors. And there is no good rebuttal to this danger as God asked Abraham to kill his own son. So blind obedience to what we perceive as the voice-of-God appears to be a requirement. I suppose you could say that Jesus came along and let you "get away" with failing that test but this means that we are relying on Jesus to absolve our inherent lack of Faith and Obedience. And that leaves you with the uncertain condition of "If I know it's a Sin yet do it anyway because I know I will be forgiven will I still be in trouble somehow???"

 

Tangent:

 

This is why I personally feel I will probably burn in hell.

 

If I get to the pearly gates and find out that God expects that people live up to the same kind of faith tests that Abraham passed then I will resent him. I find it to be a major injustice that he expects humanity to believe in him when he does not plainly show himself. Writing in a fancy book is all fine and dandy but how about walking around the earth in some gigantic form (omnipotence anyone?).

 

And to top it off he is also credited with controlling evil as well as good for the "all important" task of giving people free-will. Take away my free will, I would rather it be gone than BURN FOREVER in a lake of fire. In fact, if you know that the fire thing could happen why not just spare humans from existing in the first place?

 

My only hope is either:

 

A) There is no God (phew).

B) God is really fighting against Evil rather than controlling Evil

C) Extend life forever as a Cyborg?

 

Choice B clears up so many logical conundrums in religion that it's not funny. So I prefer to believe that silly theologians cooked up the idea that God controls evil in some unfounded fear that they would anger God by implying he was not omnipotent. When in fact he might've agreed that he is not omnipotent and needs as much help as he can get.

 

Sorry for the dark thoughts...

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What a mess :( nobody intends to fold, and several forums members have become a lot less respected by either side. Common guys, I think this topic is a little too sensitive too continue with, I don't like to think of how bad it could get. Too many more topics of this nature are going to leave us bitter for each other.

 

Nobody will win, because nothing has changed, and we've both been given the shit end of the stick.

Religion is not just someone's way of life, it is their world, their life ambitions, their reason to live, they're not going to give it up for anything.

 

Please everyone put their pride aside like I have for the sake of rationality.

 

I really think this thread has run it's life.

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@ Midnight

I think that religion has done some good, and what's more I think that religion has been a natural and very necessary cultural phenomenon during our evolution into scientific 'enlightenment'. I just don't think that it should have a place in our future if we're ever to progress beyond being frightened creatures who need mythical stories to cling onto for moral guidance or a sense of purpose. On that point, I used to think that there must be a 'meaning' to life, but I've come to understand that not everything has to have a purpose, some things just 'are'.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.

 

@jdude

 

I find your just using language to back up your arguments spring.

 

What else would you like me to use in an internet discussion?

 

Correlation is evidence even if it doesn't imply causation

 

That statement makes no sense. If you're not implying that the action "prayer" causes the result "getting through a tough time", then how is it evidence of anything other than randomness?

 

Then you mention study after study. What study, where? Are they legitimate, how can you possibly measure the degree to which the subjects are true Christian, how can you measure that they've prayed for the right thing, how can you set a specific time to rule out that prayer doesn't work when it can take years for it to pass?

 

It's amusing that you ask to see the study, as if you would be open to listening to it, but then immediately provide a list of qualifiers that would allow you to dismiss any study I provide. For the record, here's the largest and most recent study:

 

http://web.med.harvard.edu/sites/RELEASES/html/3_31STEP.html

 

Of course, I can't verify that the participants were "true Christians" as such a thing is impossible to define, and generally changes to suit the discussion at hand (see the "no True Scotsman" fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman). Are you going to argue that prayer only works for "True Christians"? How then do you explain all the Jews, Muslims and Hindus that claim that their prayers have been answered?

 

Then you mention football, passing tests, getting to work on time. Notice I said prayer in good faith. These are not things in good faith these are things that are for personal gain.

 

You completely missed my point. I was saying that it is ridiculously arrogant for someone to pray to God to help them "not be late for work" and then believe God answered their prayer when they make it on time, while at the same time, hundreds of thousands of children die every day in the third world. Do these people think God cares about them getting to work on time, but doesn't care about the prayers of people whose child is dying of hunger? Do they think the religious parents in these religious countries are not offering the most sincere, desperate prayers possible?

 

 

And Midnight is why I refer to Athiesm as a belief system. Because he holds his beliefs of there being no supernatural entity and believes that there no possible way religion can hold to be substantial, he advocates that religion should not exist in the future and belittles it and it's followers.

 

I've already gone over this, but atheism is simply the rejection of the claim that "gods exist". It says nothing about how one feels about religion, or anything else, for that matter. You might as well say not believing in astrology is a "belief system".

 

 

After just 30 years? I'd think pretty accurate still. ... Do I believe what my father tells me about my grandpa even though it's more than 30 years old and isn't written?

 

Your father is a rather intimate eyewitness to your Grandfather, I assume, while we have no evidence the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses.

 

Even if they were eyewitnesses, humans are notoriously bad at recalling things. Do a little reading about the psychology of memory--people frequently misremember things that they witnessed a week ago, let alone thirty years.

 

Thirty years is a long time, especially in an age when the average lifespan was about 40. Imagine stories that circulated, without being written down, for thirty years. Haven't you ever played broken telephone? Do you honestly think stories can circulate for 30 years and not become embellished?

 

I'm aware of all the arguments you present and I still believe that their accurate representations of what Jesus did and was like

 

So even though all we've got to go on are copies of copies of translations, all written decades after the events they supposedly record, with no original material, with no evidence who the authors are, with no evidence that they were written by eyewitnesses...you're still willing to believe they're completely accurate. Would this be another example of faith stepping in when the evidence is completely lacking?

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