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Author Topic: Losing My Religion  (Read 5978 times) Average Rating: 0
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Dnarmist
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« on: April 02, 2011, 04:02:00 PM »

Lenghty post, apologies, I have come to accept that I no longer am Orthodox but an atheist. I have various reasons, some scientific and some philosophical. In my experience that whole god thing really just comes down to intellectual consistency. If you say your one god is real, how can you reject the other ones without being epistemelogically inconsistent? Hell, how can you reject any unfalsifiable or unverifiable assertion, including anything anyone makes up ever? This is why even agnosticism is silly; intellectual consistency would necessitate saying "i dunno" to all unverifiable assertions, including things like "your name is really Steve but maybe everyone has been lying to your whole life and calling you Jeff. So when you introduce yourself, you have to say 'I think my name is Jeff but I can't be sure.'"

Belief in any sort of supernatural phenomenon requires the acceptance of all others to be consistent. This leads to mutually-exclusive beliefs.

The only way to be consistent is to reject them all.
However this belief in a god make it consistent in a way that creates holy wars. The logic of it is all laid out in the Old Testament.

1. Yahweh is the one true God. Single.
2. We are Yahweh's chosen people, and we are therefore enlightened.
3. Yahweh has filled the Earth with both challenges for us(earthquakes, disease), and things that are of great benefit(things to eat).
4. One of the challenges Yahweh has filled the Earth with is other "religions."
5. As these religions are not built on Yahweh, they are mere fiction.
6. Because the followers of these religions are not of the chosen people, they are therefore lesser than.
7. This gives us permission to kill them.
8. We are obligated to kill them in order for the chosen people to take over the Earth.

Christianity stacks these next statements on top of those:

9. Jesus is the earthly manifestation of Yahweh.
10. Jesus says that it's no longer important for the tribe to be genetically pure.
11. Thus we can now convert people instead of just killing them.

It's all completely insane, but that's how it is justified. It doesn't require a whole lot of logical leaps except for the one at the outset where you first agree that Yahweh is the one true god. Everything else flows from that. That's why people use the resurrection of Jesus as evidence of a God. People don't care about being intellectually consistent, and don't want people to take up Islam. They want to be correct in their statement that there is evidence for God, and that it is the God of the team they roots for: Christians.

I'm not sure how other religions go about doing this, but I'm sure there's some similar mechanism by which they create an air of exceptionalism around their belief structure. Does water skiing need to serve a purpose to be enjoyable? Do I need God to tell me that I should make stuff for other people to enjoy, or do I just do it because I like the idea of people enjoying my work?

At worst, it's hedonistic, but I don't think there really is a need to justify things that I flat-out enjoy doing.

Additionally, while I do argue that "faith and science are quite compatible" it's partly because my definition of science is "a formal systematic group project of empiricism." Mechanistically speaking science can't touch the concept of God when theologians hide Him in some metaphysical void. Another part of it is because there are two problems for me: the first and most dire is Creationism, and I'd be willing to throw Creationists a theological bone if only to make them more receptive to evolutionary biology. The second is religion in general, and that's a more abstract issue.

I do feel that faith and reason in general are incompatible, in the sense that philosophy either disproves God's existence, renders it unnecessary, or delegitimizes the processes by which one may prove God's existence. But philosophy isn't science. It simply digs deeper into more abstract matters.
I'll discuss more in that Evolution thread with research that I've discovered, but I can no longer hold faith with my reasons.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 04:03:59 PM by Dnarmist » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 04:25:45 PM »

Oh. From my perspective, I'm sorry to hear that.

Were you religious from your youth?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 04:25:53 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2011, 04:58:39 PM »

Lenghty post, apologies, I have come to accept that I no longer am Orthodox but an atheist. I have various reasons, some scientific and some philosophical. In my experience that whole god thing really just comes down to intellectual consistency. If you say your one god is real, how can you reject the other ones without being epistemelogically inconsistent? Hell, how can you reject any unfalsifiable or unverifiable assertion, including anything anyone makes up ever? This is why even agnosticism is silly; intellectual consistency would necessitate saying "i dunno" to all unverifiable assertions, including things like "your name is really Steve but maybe everyone has been lying to your whole life and calling you Jeff. So when you introduce yourself, you have to say 'I think my name is Jeff but I can't be sure.'"
What you describe here is called "possitivism", the idea that an idea which cannot be positively proven should be rejected. The problem is the assertion that there is no God does not seem to get this applied to it. Agnosticism is, in my opinion, the only intellectually honest position of someone without faith (I cannot prove there is a God, but I cannot prove there is not...). Your example of names does not work, a name is what someone is known by, and what they respond to. So if my birth certificate says "Steve", and I respond to "Fred", both are factually my name (one de facto, one de jure).

Going further we look at the creation of the world, there are two possible explanations, there was a first cause (something formed the catylist for the big bang), or the universe expands and collapses over and over under its own power - the problem with this second one, which many Atheists support, is that it assumes the universe is a perpetual motion machine, which is completely unproven and we have no reason to believe exists, other than we want it to exist. Now the first explanation doesn't require Christianity, but it does require belief in something higher, something eternal which existed before time (since time is a function of the universe).

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Belief in any sort of supernatural phenomenon requires the acceptance of all others to be consistent. This leads to mutually-exclusive beliefs.
While the Orthodox faith does hold that everything has its origin with God, it also believes in preternatural entities which can act in ways that appear supernatural, finally there is also the belief in "consequence", not everything strange that happens has a supernatural or preternatural cause.
Quote
However this belief in a god make it consistent in a way that creates holy wars. The logic of it is all laid out in the Old Testament.

1. Yahweh is the one true God. Single.
2. We are Yahweh's chosen people, and we are therefore enlightened.
3. Yahweh has filled the Earth with both challenges for us(earthquakes, disease), and things that are of great benefit(things to eat).
4. One of the challenges Yahweh has filled the Earth with is other "religions."
5. As these religions are not built on Yahweh, they are mere fiction.
6. Because the followers of these religions are not of the chosen people, they are therefore lesser than.
7. This gives us permission to kill them.
8. We are obligated to kill them in order for the chosen people to take over the Earth.
Have you ever read the OT or are you just taking that from what others have said? Because that isn't what the OT says at all.

Quote
Christianity stacks these next statements on top of those:

9. Jesus is the earthly manifestation of Yahweh.
10. Jesus says that it's no longer important for the tribe to be genetically pure.
11. Thus we can now convert people instead of just killing them.
There was never any concept of genetic purity in the OT, there was the idea of religious purity, and that most certainly is still a requirement, and converts were always accepted in the Ancient Israelite religion. There were a few occasions in the OT when the Israelites were commanded to destroy a people, but the target was the religion, not the ethnicity.
Quote
It's all completely insane, but that's how it is justified. It doesn't require a whole lot of logical leaps except for the one at the outset where you first agree that Yahweh is the one true god. Everything else flows from that. That's why people use the resurrection of Jesus as evidence of a God. People don't care about being intellectually consistent, and don't want people to take up Islam. They want to be correct in their statement that there is evidence for God, and that it is the God of the team they roots for: Christians.
Every logical position requires a belief  "at the outset". In Rhetoric (and by that I mean the practice of speech-making, and not the negative way it is often used in politics) it is called "the warrant". For example in this post you have demonstrated the warrant that everything must be accepted as supernatural or not, although I expect your true warrant goes a bit deeper.

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At worst, it's hedonistic, but I don't think there really is a need to justify things that I flat-out enjoy doing.
Not at worst, that is the definition. Doing what you feel like without concern for anything else.
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Additionally, while I do argue that "faith and science are quite compatible" it's partly because my definition of science is "a formal systematic group project of empiricism." Mechanistically speaking science can't touch the concept of God when theologians hide Him in some metaphysical void. Another part of it is because there are two problems for me: the first and most dire is Creationism, and I'd be willing to throw Creationists a theological bone if only to make them more receptive to evolutionary biology. The second is religion in general, and that's a more abstract issue.
By definition God must be metaphysical (Gr. "Beyond nature"). If he weren't metaphysical he would have to be part of his own creation (which is what Christ was). I'm not sure why the beliefs of others are an issue for you, why should the fact that some people believe in creationism create issues? The Church does not speak on the methods by which God willed humanity into existence.
Quote
I do feel that faith and reason in general are incompatible, in the sense that philosophy either disproves God's existence, renders it unnecessary, or delegitimizes the processes by which one may prove God's existence. But philosophy isn't science. It simply digs deeper into more abstract matters.
I'll discuss more in that Evolution thread with research that I've discovered, but I can no longer hold faith with my reasons.
Philosophy doesn't prove or disprove anything, philosophy (a misnomer in this modern day, I'd call it philology) deals with the metaphysical, the exact same thing you accuse theologians of using to hide God. If you believe faith and reason are truly incompatible, then I'd love to hear a reasonable argument that shows that - I'll admit all I've ever heard from Atheists are pathotic arguments, which in my mind tends to show an incompatibility between faithlessness and reason.

I'm sorry to hear you've lost your faith, but if it truly is an issue of the use of reason, then I urge you to re-examine the question purely using reason, without allowing either pathos or ethos to enter into the picture.

God Bless.
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2011, 05:35:22 PM »

Well... what can I say? I've been there...  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2011, 06:09:22 PM »

Yes, as Kasatin says, Agnosticism is the only intellectually honest position: one does not know and can not prove either God's existence or non-existence.

"The only way to be consistent is to reject them all."

Nonsense. The only way to be consistent is to be an Agnostic--'Who knows?' No one--no one--knows.

"'I think my name is Jeff but I can't be sure.'" You're saying that's it's impossible to know whether the light to cross the street is red or green. Descartes had the same problem. It ruined his social life. in fact, it's ruined the lives of millions.

"6. Because the followers of these religions are not of the chosen people, they are therefore lesser than.
7. This gives us permission to kill them.
8. We are obligated to kill them in order for the chosen people to take over the Earth."

Where in the world did you get those ideas? Not from an Orthodox Church.

"I can no longer hold faith with my reasons."

I wouldn't be able to, either. They're fallacious.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 06:09:34 PM by sainthieu » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2011, 06:10:35 PM »

"O give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth forever.  Alleluia"
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2011, 06:54:22 PM »

Lenghty post, apologies, I have come to accept that I no longer am Orthodox but an atheist. ............ but I can no longer hold faith with my reasons.
Just curious, but is there any other area of your life you demand this kind of consistency from, like the music you like or the politicians you might support?
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2011, 07:03:36 PM »

What you describe here is called "possitivism", the idea that an idea which cannot be positively proven should be rejected. The problem is the assertion that there is no God does not seem to get this applied to it. Agnosticism is, in my opinion, the only intellectually honest position of someone without faith (I cannot prove there is a God, but I cannot prove there is not...). Your example of names does not work, a name is what someone is known by, and what they respond to. So if my birth certificate says "Steve", and I respond to "Fred", both are factually my name (one de facto, one de jure).
Your birth certificate is fake. It's a massive conspiracy. You can't even be sure about your own name. You can't disprove me. I made it up.

And no this isn't positivism. Positivism refers to the late 19th and 20th century epistemic schools of thought that were attempting to formalize science and placed more importance and emphasis on empiricism than a priori reasoning (because they felt that a priori reasoning was all tautological). They also did away with a lot of metaphysics, a result of the post-Kantian era of philosophy. Positivism does have a great deal of historical importance and it does get a lot of shit in the science/religion debate, but not for the reasons you're claiming.

Additionally, agnosticism isn't a branch that is distinct from Atheism or Theism. Agnosticism and Gnosticism are epistemic positions, whereas Atheism and Theism are metaphysical ones. Interestingly enough agnosticism wasn't really formalized as an independent philosophical stance until the 19th century, and even then it wasn't so much a product of reasoning as it was about politics. Thomas Henry Huxley first coined the term because in defending Darwin's theory of evolution he didn't want to be branded an atheist, so he hid any sense of apostasy under the term "agnostic" instead.
I mean a lot of people say "I'm agnostic" about God since it's impossible to prove His existence, but how consistent is this really? It's essentially the problem addressed by Russell's teapot: if I can define an entity such that it's impossible to investigate its existence (a teapot orbiting earth half the distance from the moon, which is too infintesimally small to observe), do we straddle the fence on this? Of course not. If we did we'd have to grant the same level of consideration to any damn thing that was defined as uninvestigable. "Pure agnosticism" is essentially done away with by the Burden of Proof and the Principle of Parsimony.

Of course agnosticism is still an important concept in certain discussions of theology, but it works alongside arguments for atheism or theism, not independent to them.

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Not at worst, that is the definition. Doing what you feel like without concern for anything else.
I enjoy helping others, while inflicting suffering on others kind of bothers me. This is also not the same as saying that you or anyone else is obliged to tolerate my enjoyment interfering with theirs.

This is also not the same at all as establishing policies, which is what morality does. I don't like to pay taxes, for instance, but I think the policy of levying taxes is a worthwhile tradeoff for the results.

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By definition God must be metaphysical (Gr. "Beyond nature"). If he weren't metaphysical he would have to be part of his own creation (which is what Christ was). I'm not sure why the beliefs of others are an issue for you, why should the fact that some people believe in creationism create issues? The Church does not speak on the methods by which God willed humanity into existence.
First, please be careful about the use of the term "metaphysics." Its casual conflation with the term "supernatural" like you're doing here tends to create a lot of annoying confusion in philosophy. Generally speaking metaphysics simply refers to the philosophical study of reality, and it traditionally included discussion of plenty of natural entities like matter and causality.

Also, I think your definition of Creationism is very different from most people's. For the most part it is used in contradistinction to evolution, and has been best described as "evolution denial" by Massimo Pigliucci. Creationism is a huge issue because it incubates and encourages a lot of irrational distrust towards scientists and reason, and erodes at a lot of scientific education by selectively ignoring scientific processes, methodologies, and conclusions. It's a major contributing factor into why so many Americans reject other scientific ideas like global warming or psychology.

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Philosophy doesn't prove or disprove anything, philosophy (a misnomer in this modern day, I'd call it philology) deals with the metaphysical, the exact same thing you accuse theologians of using to hide God. If you believe faith and reason are truly incompatible, then I'd love to hear a reasonable argument that shows that - I'll admit all I've ever heard from Atheists are pathotic arguments, which in my mind tends to show an incompatibility between faithlessness and reason.
Um... philosophy has had some pretty big impacts on reality in what it has proved and disproved. Some philosophy does deal with "metaphysics" but again I don't think you have a clear understanding of that term. Philosophical ideas on metaphysics aren't floating out in the void nestled next to Cthulu (or at least they weren't up to the 1700s) but attempted to deal with pretty solid natural ideas like causality, matter, space, time, etc.

Philosophy is primarily a project of abstract reasoning and the quest for ultimate consistency and analysis of meaning. Of course it can prove and disprove ideas.

Also what's with all the typos? "logoi," "possitivism," "pathotic?"

I have an essay on the Reason VS Faith thing somewhere here actually. I'll see if I can dig it up later.
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If you believe faith and reason are truly incompatible, then I'd love to hear a reasonable argument that shows that
Because if someone wrote a book about God filled with misinformation, faith would make a virtue out of refusing to question it while reason would make a virtue out of questioning it.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 07:05:57 PM by Dnarmist » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2011, 07:55:14 PM »

Your birth certificate is fake. It's a massive conspiracy. You can't even be sure about your own name. You can't disprove me. I made it up.
What my birth certificate says is what the government records my name as. However, properly speaking, a name is what one is known as, so while it is quite possible that while for some reason my parents, along with some massive government conspiracy, has chosen to hide from me the name I was given at birth, and registered with initially, my name is whatever I call myself, and respond to. Should I decide to change it without consulting the government, my name has de facto changed.
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And no this isn't positivism. Positivism refers to the late 19th and 20th century epistemic schools of thought that were attempting to formalize science and placed more importance and emphasis on empiricism than a priori reasoning (because they felt that a priori reasoning was all tautological). They also did away with a lot of metaphysics, a result of the post-Kantian era of philosophy. Positivism does have a great deal of historical importance and it does get a lot of shit in the science/religion debate, but not for the reasons you're claiming.
This seems to be what you're doing.
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Additionally, agnosticism isn't a branch that is distinct from Atheism or Theism. Agnosticism and Gnosticism are epistemic positions, whereas Atheism and Theism are metaphysical ones. Interestingly enough agnosticism wasn't really formalized as an independent philosophical stance until the 19th century, and even then it wasn't so much a product of reasoning as it was about politics. Thomas Henry Huxley first coined the term because in defending Darwin's theory of evolution he didn't want to be branded an atheist, so he hid any sense of apostasy under the term "agnostic" instead.
I mean a lot of people say "I'm agnostic" about God since it's impossible to prove His existence, but how consistent is this really? It's essentially the problem addressed by Russell's teapot: if I can define an entity such that it's impossible to investigate its existence (a teapot orbiting earth half the distance from the moon, which is too infintesimally small to observe), do we straddle the fence on this? Of course not. If we did we'd have to grant the same level of consideration to any damn thing that was defined as uninvestigable. "Pure agnosticism" is essentially done away with by the Burden of Proof and the Principle of Parsimony.
I never said agnosticism is a branch distinct from Atheism/Theism. It is a claim toward knowledge, technically a theist can be agnostic, and in a significant number of areas the Orthodox Church tends toward this ("We cannot know"). If one claims to "not know" what they have no way of knowing, that is certainly consistant. I'm not sure how it isn't. Some things are knowable, others aren't. They are being honest.


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First, please be careful about the use of the term "metaphysics." Its casual conflation with the term "supernatural" like you're doing here tends to create a lot of annoying confusion in philosophy. Generally speaking metaphysics simply refers to the philosophical study of reality, and it traditionally included discussion of plenty of natural entities like matter and causality.
Looking at the supernatural one likewise enters the realm of the natural quite commonly. That it is a discussion of something outside perceived to be outside the understood material world is the common point.
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Also, I think your definition of Creationism is very different from most people's. For the most part it is used in contradistinction to evolution, and has been best described as "evolution denial" by Massimo Pigliucci. Creationism is a huge issue because it incubates and encourages a lot of irrational distrust towards scientists and reason, and erodes at a lot of scientific education by selectively ignoring scientific processes, methodologies, and conclusions. It's a major contributing factor into why so many Americans reject other scientific ideas like global warming or psychology.
I never defined creationism, its definition is irrelevent. My question to you was what difference does it make to you? The methods of creation do not enter into the teachings of the Church.

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Um... philosophy has had some pretty big impacts on reality in what it has proved and disproved. Some philosophy does deal with "metaphysics" but again I don't think you have a clear understanding of that term. Philosophical ideas on metaphysics aren't floating out in the void nestled next to Cthulu (or at least they weren't up to the 1700s) but attempted to deal with pretty solid natural ideas like causality, matter, space, time, etc.
It certainly has a major impact in how reality is perceived. Nonetheless the bulk of it deals with abstract notions and the metaphysical.

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Also what's with all the typos? "logoi," "possitivism," "pathotic?"

What's with the pointing out minor typing errors as though it is an actual argument? Nonetheless, I didn't mean logoi, I meant λογος (which means much more than just "word"), then  I latinized it the same way σοφος was to create the word "philosophy", as is the popular way of doing things. Pathotic, a usage I've seen a few other places for something relating to Pathos. While this was certainly the root of "pathetic", which I think is what you think I meant, which has negative connotations and generally means one who is beneath everyone else. Possitivism, now there you have an actual typo. I noticed it after I made it, which can be easily deduced by the use of the word "positive" with correct spelling. So you're left with two options, either I left it there to see if the person speaking to me would stoop so low as to point out minor spelling mistakes, or I just didn't care. Pick one, I don't particularly mind which.

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I have an essay on the Reason VS Faith thing somewhere here actually. I'll see if I can dig it up later.
To clarify, when I say reason I mean logic. There are many popular books out their claiming to show how religion is against reason, but all that I've seen don't have much reason, just pathos, and occasionally ethos. I would love to see something that truly tries to apply logic to the argument though.

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Because if someone wrote a book about God filled with misinformation, faith would make a virtue out of refusing to question it while reason would make a virtue out of questioning it.
Why do you say that? Do you think that is what has happened? Certainly as I've been taught questioning the things of faith is a virtue, how else do you learn and grow in it? The Fathers of the Church constantly talk about the need to struggle in the faith, rather than sitting back and just accepting it. If you believe that you are not to question your faith it is no wonder you have given up on God, your faith had nothing to feed it.
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2011, 08:30:00 PM »

Lenghty post, apologies, I have come to accept that I no longer am Orthodox but an atheist. I have various reasons, some scientific and some philosophical. In my experience that whole god thing really just comes down to intellectual consistency. If you say your one god is real, how can you reject the other ones without being epistemelogically inconsistent? Hell, how can you reject any unfalsifiable or unverifiable assertion, including anything anyone makes up ever? This is why even agnosticism is silly; intellectual consistency would necessitate saying "i dunno" to all unverifiable assertions, including things like "your name is really Steve but maybe everyone has been lying to your whole life and calling you Jeff. So when you introduce yourself, you have to say 'I think my name is Jeff but I can't be sure.'"

Belief in any sort of supernatural phenomenon requires the acceptance of all others to be consistent. This leads to mutually-exclusive beliefs.

The only way to be consistent is to reject them all.
However this belief in a god make it consistent in a way that creates holy wars. The logic of it is all laid out in the Old Testament.

1. Yahweh is the one true God. Single.
2. We are Yahweh's chosen people, and we are therefore enlightened.
3. Yahweh has filled the Earth with both challenges for us(earthquakes, disease), and things that are of great benefit(things to eat).
4. One of the challenges Yahweh has filled the Earth with is other "religions."
5. As these religions are not built on Yahweh, they are mere fiction.
6. Because the followers of these religions are not of the chosen people, they are therefore lesser than.
7. This gives us permission to kill them.
8. We are obligated to kill them in order for the chosen people to take over the Earth.

Christianity stacks these next statements on top of those:

9. Jesus is the earthly manifestation of Yahweh.
10. Jesus says that it's no longer important for the tribe to be genetically pure.
11. Thus we can now convert people instead of just killing them.

It's all completely insane, but that's how it is justified. It doesn't require a whole lot of logical leaps except for the one at the outset where you first agree that Yahweh is the one true god. Everything else flows from that. That's why people use the resurrection of Jesus as evidence of a God. People don't care about being intellectually consistent, and don't want people to take up Islam. They want to be correct in their statement that there is evidence for God, and that it is the God of the team they roots for: Christians.

I'm not sure how other religions go about doing this, but I'm sure there's some similar mechanism by which they create an air of exceptionalism around their belief structure. Does water skiing need to serve a purpose to be enjoyable? Do I need God to tell me that I should make stuff for other people to enjoy, or do I just do it because I like the idea of people enjoying my work?

At worst, it's hedonistic, but I don't think there really is a need to justify things that I flat-out enjoy doing.

Additionally, while I do argue that "faith and science are quite compatible" it's partly because my definition of science is "a formal systematic group project of empiricism." Mechanistically speaking science can't touch the concept of God when theologians hide Him in some metaphysical void. Another part of it is because there are two problems for me: the first and most dire is Creationism, and I'd be willing to throw Creationists a theological bone if only to make them more receptive to evolutionary biology. The second is religion in general, and that's a more abstract issue.

I do feel that faith and reason in general are incompatible, in the sense that philosophy either disproves God's existence, renders it unnecessary, or delegitimizes the processes by which one may prove God's existence. But philosophy isn't science. It simply digs deeper into more abstract matters.
I'll discuss more in that Evolution thread with research that I've discovered, but I can no longer hold faith with my reasons.


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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2011, 08:50:32 PM »

Judging by the OP, Dnarmist seems to reject caricaturized Dispensationalist Protestantism.

So do I; we are in agreement.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 08:51:08 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2011, 09:11:16 PM »

What my birth certificate says is what the government records my name as. However, properly speaking, a name is what one is known as, so while it is quite possible that while for some reason my parents, along with some massive government conspiracy, has chosen to hide from me the name I was given at birth, and registered with initially, my name is whatever I call myself, and respond to. Should I decide to change it without consulting the government, my name has de facto changed.
Also, you have a vagina on your forehead that is completely undetectable by any physical means. You cannot disprove this.

If someone asks you if you have an undetectable vagina on your forehead, do you say "yes," "no," or "I suppose I can't rule it out so maybe!"

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This seems to be what you're doing.
What exactly am I doing now and how exactly does it have bearing on the discussion at hand? Huh

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I never said agnosticism is a branch distinct from Atheism/Theism. It is a claim toward knowledge, technically a theist can be agnostic, and in a significant number of areas the Orthodox Church tends toward this ("We cannot know"). If one claims to "not know" what they have no way of knowing, that is certainly consistant. I'm not sure how it isn't. Some things are knowable, others aren't. They are being honest.
More often than not the term "agnostic" only serves to confuse the meaning of knowledge more than anything in a discussion on religion. This is partly because "the inability to know" can have particular consequences. For example, I am agnostic on Russell's Teapot, and by virtue of the fact that it can't be proven I don't believe in it. I am agnostic on some particular definitions of God. But by virtue of the fact that God can't be proven, I am an atheist. The same goes for Cthulu, an Invisible Pink Unicorn, a transcendent free will, etc.

Depending on how that agnosticism is applied (if it can be legitimately applied given the particular definition of God you're dealing with), agnosticism can essentially entail atheism since it maintains that God by definition cannot fulfill the Burden of Proof (and hence is removed from consideration by the Principle of Parsimony). This is why saying "Agnosticism is, in my opinion, the only intellectually honest position of someone without faith (I cannot prove there is a God, but I cannot prove there is not...)" is an oversimplification, and hardly the whole picture.

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I never defined creationism, its definition is irrelevent. My question to you was what difference does it make to you? The methods of creation do not enter into the teachings of the Church.
Theistic evolutionism doesn't have a direct impact on me. Creationism as pushed ever since the Scopes trial, however, does. I've already outlined how it results in pretty awful public scientific literacy, which is pretty horrible when that public goes out to vote.

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What's with the pointing out minor typing errors as though it is an actual argument? Nonetheless, I didn't mean logoi, I meant λογος (which means much more than just "word"), then  I latinized it the same way σοφος was to create the word "philosophy", as is the popular way of doing things. Pathotic, a usage I've seen a few other places for something relating to Pathos. While this was certainly the root of "pathetic", which I think is what you think I meant, which has negative connotations and generally means one who is beneath everyone else. Possitivism, now there you have an actual typo. I noticed it after I made it, which can be easily deduced by the use of the word "positive" with correct spelling. So you're left with two options, either I left it there to see if the person speaking to me would stoop so low as to point out minor spelling mistakes, or I just didn't care. Pick one, I don't particularly mind which.
Honestly it wasn't a criticism. I was just a bit confused and wondering if English was your second language.
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2011, 09:19:15 PM »


More often than not the term "agnostic" only serves to confuse the meaning of knowledge more than anything in a discussion on religion. This is partly because "the inability to know" can have particular consequences. For example, I am agnostic on Russell's Teapot, and by virtue of the fact that it can't be proven I don't believe in it. I am agnostic on some particular definitions of God. But by virtue of the fact that God can't be proven, I am an atheist. The same goes for Cthulu, an Invisible Pink Unicorn, a transcendent free will, etc.

See, that's just silly.  By very virtue of being invisible the unicorn can't possibly be pink.  As for Cthulu it's really simple: When you read the Necronomicon do you go insane or experience an overwhelming desire to wake the Old Gods from their Slumber beneath the Waves?  If yes, then a belief in Cthulu does not seem quite so silly. 
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2011, 10:12:17 PM »

I enjoyed reading "The Dog Delusion" by Archbishop Chrysostomos (who has a PhD in Psychology from Princeton).

http://www.ctosonline.org/contemp/DD.html

He takes on Dawkins and specifically what he calls naive empiricism. I suggest you get the book and read that essay.
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2011, 10:44:14 PM »

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Theistic evolutionism doesn't have a direct impact on me. Creationism as pushed ever since the Scopes trial, however, does. I've already outlined how it results in pretty awful public scientific literacy, which is pretty horrible when that public goes out to vote.

I agree with you.  However, if you're going to complain about scientific literacy, you need to consider religious literacy also in the mind of many of those who believe in God.  For me, an atheist who says compares God to unicorns shows a level of literacy on the religious level that is comparable to the scientific literacy creationists have when they compare theory to a guess.

The unicorn argument is used to stop people from saying "you can't disprove God," not as a valid argument to disprove God.  In fact, with the way atheists seem to be adopting the infinite multiverse idea, it seems that there does exist a unicorn under atheistic standards.  As I think more about the multiverse theory, it sounds like a God of the gaps, only in materialistic terms.
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2011, 10:44:47 PM »

I do feel that faith and reason in general are incompatible
Faith in the Logos is Logical.
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2011, 10:58:19 PM »

Dear Lord:

Please forgive me for once again falling into argument with a secularist troll who believes that there is an empirical argument for the existence of God. If he had actually ever been Orthodox, he would never have made any of the arguments he made.

I was tired. I have no other excuse. Mea culpa.
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2011, 11:03:53 PM »

Dear Lord:

Please forgive me for once again falling into argument with a secularist troll who believes that there is an empirical argument for the existence of God. If he had actually ever been Orthodox, he would never have made any of the arguments he made.

I was tired. I have no other excuse. Mea culpa.

I don't think he's trolling.  I think he's suffering from understanding and wants to hear how we can help him.  Trolling would be if he was demeaning in any way with his arguments.
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2011, 11:06:43 PM »

And if I use "prayer" to judge and condemn others, I am worse than an atheist.
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2011, 11:20:54 PM »

In fact, with the way atheists seem to be adopting the infinite multiverse idea, it seems that there does exist a unicorn under atheistic standards.  As I think more about the multiverse theory, it sounds like a God of the gaps, only in materialistic terms.
That may be the case, if the multiverse hypothesis were not testable; but there is evidence that it might be testable.
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« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2011, 11:24:23 PM »

Forgive me for not following up on everyone, I'll get to your replies. But one thing I forgot to mention:

Why do you say that? Do you think that is what has happened?
I'm sure you think Joseph Smith and Muhammad did exactly that, and Mormons and Muslims both think it's wonderful that they've found a way to dig in and refuse to give up their misconceptions. Or perhaps more accurately, that they constantly find ways to make absolutely everything in line with what they believed in the first place.

The simple matter is that regardless of what you believe, just out of the contradictions in the claims, it is a definite fact that billions of people are dead wrong about God. That alone refutes the idea that the truth is incorruptible, or that God wouldn't allow the truth to be morphed into misinformation that billions would believe, so I think it's really an obligation for anyone seriously pursuing the truth about God to step back and ask if the religion they happened to have heard first is really the one whose claims about God actually hold merit, or if something else holds merit, or maybe that everybody's wrong and the real truth is out there for you to discover.

Faith is absolutely counter to that pursuit. Reason can discover the truth and discard misinformation (an essential step to discovering the truth) by examining the merit of every claim at its disposal, keeping what makes sense and discarding the junk. None of that requires faith. Saying "look man, please don't be rude by asking questions about that thing, just TRUST ME!", on the other hand, is the unmistakable mark of a liar burying the truth.

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The Fathers of the Church constantly talk about the need to struggle in the faith, rather than sitting back and just accepting it.
The struggle of faith is essentially essentially to square reality with things that must be true. The idea that anything must be true or unquestionable is itself counter to reason and counter to any objective search for the truth about God or anything else.

Also absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, that can be. What's important is whether or not what you're looking for should have left evidence. Like I'm pretty sure a bomb didn't go off in my apartment last night because bombs tend to leave evidence that they were there, things that would be different if they didn't go off.

To say it wouldn't leave evidence is saying quite a lot though: If it's not leaving evidence, if there's nothing you can point to that would have been different if it wasn't a figment of your imagination, what does that say about its actual effect on the world?
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2011, 11:29:20 PM »

In fact, with the way atheists seem to be adopting the infinite multiverse idea, it seems that there does exist a unicorn under atheistic standards.  As I think more about the multiverse theory, it sounds like a God of the gaps, only in materialistic terms.
That may be the case, if the multiverse hypothesis were not testable; but there is evidence that it might be testable.

I don't disagree (or agree for that matter) with a multiverse idea.  But I question how an infinite number of universes can really be "testable." Stephen Hawking boasts the end of all science with this idea.  An amazingly bold statement!
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2011, 11:41:02 PM »

"And if I use "prayer" to judge and condemn others, I am worse than an atheist."

If you don't understand satire, get over yourself.
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2011, 11:42:13 PM »

Also, you have a vagina on your forehead that is completely undetectable by any physical means. You cannot disprove this.
No, I can't disprove it if we change the definition of "vagina". But when we're talking about the existence or non existence of God we all know what it is we're talking about. How exactly God is defined may change within religions, but in the context of theism/atheism, we're talking about a demiurge as first principle.
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If someone asks you if you have an undetectable vagina on your forehead, do you say "yes," "no," or "I suppose I can't rule it out so maybe!"
I can rule it out because the word has a specific meaning. The vagarities of language and semiotics do not change this.

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What exactly am I doing now and how exactly does it have bearing on the discussion at hand? Huh
Positivism.

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More often than not the term "agnostic" only serves to confuse the meaning of knowledge more than anything in a discussion on religion. This is partly because "the inability to know" can have particular consequences. For example, I am agnostic on Russell's Teapot, and by virtue of the fact that it can't be proven I don't believe in it. I am agnostic on some particular definitions of God. But by virtue of the fact that God can't be proven, I am an atheist. The same goes for Cthulu, an Invisible Pink Unicorn, a transcendent free will, etc.

Depending on how that agnosticism is applied (if it can be legitimately applied given the particular definition of God you're dealing with), agnosticism can essentially entail atheism since it maintains that God by definition cannot fulfill the Burden of Proof (and hence is removed from consideration by the Principle of Parsimony). This is why saying "Agnosticism is, in my opinion, the only intellectually honest position of someone without faith (I cannot prove there is a God, but I cannot prove there is not...)" is an oversimplification, and hardly the whole picture.
An interesting position to take considering you're the one who brought up Agnosticism, defined it simply as someone who does claims to not know either way (which is correct), and then said the position is inconsistant with itself because apparently one has to question every aspect of reality if one is going to question the existence or non-existence of God.



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Theistic evolutionism doesn't have a direct impact on me. Creationism as pushed ever since the Scopes trial, however, does. I've already outlined how it results in pretty awful public scientific literacy, which is pretty horrible when that public goes out to vote.
That's all well and good but given that your OP was making a case against the ability of faith and reason to coexist, scientific illiteracy (among those who I'd suggest also tend toward religious illiteracy) doesn't argue this either way.

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Honestly it wasn't a criticism. I was just a bit confused and wondering if English was your second language.
Right, that's why the first error you pointed out was a Greek word (as was the third, although I certainly understand how "pathotic" can be misunderstood to be "pathetic"). Wink
Especially since native language doesn't play a role in this thread, and that if you've ever read much from someone for whom the language they are writing isn't a native language you tend to find impeccable spelling, but syntax errors galore.
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2011, 11:53:08 PM »

See, that's just silly.  By very virtue of being invisible the unicorn can't possibly be pink.  As for Cthulu it's really simple: When you read the Necronomicon do you go insane or experience an overwhelming desire to wake the Old Gods from their Slumber beneath the Waves?  If yes, then a belief in Cthulu does not seem quite so silly.  
"Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn

It's hardly contradictory for something to be pink yet invisible.

That, and why should disproving so-and-so aspects of the Necronomicon easily debunk a belief in Cthulu? It certainly doesn't work for Christianity and the Bible. The rebuttals here are kinda weak.

EDIT: To add:

Atheist: See, that's just silly. By very virtue of being invisible the unicorn can't possibly be pink.
Christian: See, that's just silly. By very virtue of being The Father God can't possibly be The Son.

Atheist: As for Cthulu it's really simple: When you read the Necronomicon do you go insane or experience an overwhelming desire to wake the Old Gods from their Slumber beneath the Waves? If yes, then a belief in Cthulu does not seem quite so silly.
Christian:  As for God it's really simple: When you have faith the size of a mustard seed are you able to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20)? If yes, then a belief in God does not seem quite so silly.

I agree with you.  However, if you're going to complain about scientific literacy, you need to consider religious literacy also in the mind of many of those who believe in God.  For me, an atheist who says compares God to unicorns shows a level of literacy on the religious level that is comparable to the scientific literacy creationists have when they compare theory to a guess.

The unicorn argument is used to stop people from saying "you can't disprove God," not as a valid argument to disprove God.  In fact, with the way atheists seem to be adopting the infinite multiverse idea, it seems that there does exist a unicorn under atheistic standards.  As I think more about the multiverse theory, it sounds like a God of the gaps, only in materialistic terms.
The unicorn argument isn't meant to be a disproof of God. It's simply to frame the discussion in a broader context of how rational inquiry works in general. We have so-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so ideas of how rational inquiry works, but ever since the 1800s theologians have been trying to say that God doesn't fall under these standards of evidence. If they had a good reason as to why the idea of God is exempt from rational standards, that'd be fine (and indeed this is the goal of some theologians with Transcendental Arguments and whatnot).

However, if they don't, they're basically establishing a precedent that allows for a whole crapload of absurdities (be they Russell's Teapot, the IPU, the FSM) to exist in some metaphysical void such that we must remain "agnostic" and undecided about their existence. The objections you just made just now can be resolved simply by redefining or appending more properties to these concepts so that they remain too nebulous or otherworldly to critique, which is the exact method that many contemporary theists use.

Frankly, it's simply much more parsimonious to discount the infinite number of entities that could be shoved outside of natural existence instead of sitting on the fence for every one of them.

Massimo Pigliucci mentioned this very problem with certain takes on modern Christianity: in order to shield themselves from rational inquiry Fundamentalists have had to reframe Christianity in more postmodernist/subjectivist terms. However, to establish a core principle of morals (among other things) a postmodernist slant is self-defeating for Fundamentalist religion.

Also multiple universes? Frankly that line of argumentation only pops up if you're a teenager who's been watching too much Star Trek. It's too speculative and opens up a huge bag of worms.

Overall I think you're mistaking the IPU and the FSM as appeals to ridicule rather than the reductio ad absurdums they're meant to be.
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« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2011, 11:54:33 PM »

"And if I use "prayer" to judge and condemn others, I am worse than an atheist."

If you don't understand satire, get over yourself.
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« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2011, 11:55:12 PM »

Reason can discover the truth and discard misinformation (an essential step to discovering the truth) by examining the merit of every claim at its disposal, keeping what makes sense and discarding the junk. None of that requires faith. Saying "look man, please don't be rude by asking questions about that thing, just TRUST ME!", on the other hand, is the unmistakable mark of a liar burying the truth.

I'm curious if you consider your position in regards to reason to be one of faith? What I find interesting is that when it comes to the mental and cognitive realm, we somehow assume that human beings are without bounds. We cling to the idea that we are "fully rational" beings, and that, like mental Supermen, we can figure out anything. Why are we so readily willing to admit to our physical limitations but are unwilling to take our cognitive limitations into account?

Or, perhaps you do and you'd rather place your trust in your own cognitive abilities, rather than God. I can understand that impulse.

I was, at one point, exactly where you are. I rejected God and, with my wife, became an atheist. It's a tough road to take and, if your faith meant as much to you as it did to me, I don't envy you.

But I do hope you find peace, wherever you end up. And I hope you stick around on the boards and continue to share your thoughts with everyone.
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« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2011, 12:05:32 AM »

Forgive me for not following up on everyone, I'll get to your replies. But one thing I forgot to mention:

Why do you say that? Do you think that is what has happened?
I'm sure you think Joseph Smith and Muhammad did exactly that, and Mormons and Muslims both think it's wonderful that they've found a way to dig in and refuse to give up their misconceptions. Or perhaps more accurately, that they constantly find ways to make absolutely everything in line with what they believed in the first place.
That's fine but I'm unaware of any Muslim or Mormon members who can discuss this. Just because two individuals, or two religions discourage asking questions, what does that have to do with the existence or non-existence of God?

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The simple matter is that regardless of what you believe, just out of the contradictions in the claims, it is a definite fact that billions of people are dead wrong about God. That alone refutes the idea that the truth is incorruptible, or that God wouldn't allow the truth to be morphed into misinformation that billions would believe, so I think it's really an obligation for anyone seriously pursuing the truth about God to step back and ask if the religion they happened to have heard first is really the one whose claims about God actually hold merit, or if something else holds merit, or maybe that everybody's wrong and the real truth is out there for you to discover.
Who is it that believes truth can never be corrupted? Certainly we, as Orthodox Christians, believe we have the truth uncorrupted, but that does not mean it cannot be corrupted, additionally why do you project what God would or would not do in certain situations? How do you know God (whom since you don't believe in I must assume you mean to say if he did exist he must fullfill these conditions) would keep the truth intact wherever it went? Isn't that contrary to the idea of free will? One of my religious studies profs made the same sort of comment, an overt Atheist he stated "If God existed then this and this and this wouldn't happen". If God existed, why would he exist in your image?

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Faith is absolutely counter to that pursuit. Reason can discover the truth and discard misinformation (an essential step to discovering the truth) by examining the merit of every claim at its disposal, keeping what makes sense and discarding the junk. None of that requires faith. Saying "look man, please don't be rude by asking questions about that thing, just TRUST ME!", on the other hand, is the unmistakable mark of a liar burying the truth.
I already answered the idea of questioning faith, you seem to have avoided it. You're responding to me as if I said the faith should never be questioned, but that is quite the opposite of what I wrote. I agree that without questions one can not grow in faith - and by extension the "truth". Of course the fact of the matter is that empirical knowledge is searching for something quite different than religious knowledge.

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The struggle of faith is essentially essentially to square reality with things that must be true. The idea that anything must be true or unquestionable is itself counter to reason and counter to any objective search for the truth about God or anything else.

Also absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, that can be. What's important is whether or not what you're looking for should have left evidence. Like I'm pretty sure a bomb didn't go off in my apartment last night because bombs tend to leave evidence that they were there, things that would be different if they didn't go off.

To say it wouldn't leave evidence is saying quite a lot though: If it's not leaving evidence, if there's nothing you can point to that would have been different if it wasn't a figment of your imagination, what does that say about its actual effect on the world?
I do disagree with your idea that the struggle of faith is to square it with what must be true, however the bomb analogy is interesting. Certainly we do have evidence of the "bomb", existence itself. In the case of a bomb of course, it is taken for granted that someone set it off, even if they left no evidence as to their identity. And yet with the bomb of creation we are suddenly to believe that because we haven't found any evidence beyond the idea that it is reasonable that someone had to do it, that we must discard that notion? As any scientist will admit we're only at the very beginning of understanding that "bomb". As it is we can only reconstruct up until just after it blew up. We'd need to figure out what things were like before it went off to have any hope of figuring it out.
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« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2011, 12:08:12 AM »

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« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2011, 12:14:37 AM »

No, I can't disprove it if we change the definition of "vagina". But when we're talking about the existence or non existence of God we all know what it is we're talking about. How exactly God is defined may change within religions, but in the context of theism/atheism, we're talking about a demiurge as first principle.
It's all made up.

Don't believe in made-up things. Don't even think about them. A floating eternal space intelligence is just as idiotic as any sort of undetectable forehead genitals (the forehead vagina is an actually by-the-book vagina btw, you just can't detect it.) Reject any god the same way you reject any other made-up thing. There's no difference.
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Positivism.
Uh, nowhere here did I posit a belief in positivism. Huh
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An interesting position to take considering you're the one who brought up Agnosticism, defined it simply as someone who does claims to not know either way (which is correct), and then said the position is inconsistant with itself because apparently one has to question every aspect of reality if one is going to question the existence or non-existence of God.
No, this is basically my argument, and it's a reductio ad absurdum:

1. Assume that "Pure Agnosticism" (a belief that we must remain undecided on the existence of things that cannot possibly be proven, or that beliefs for or against such things are equally legitimate) is a legitimate belief system, separate from Theism or Atheism.
2. Example: "Pure Agnostics" maintain that God (a definition of God that is untouchable through rational inquiry) cannot be proven, thus we must remain undecided on His existence, or that beliefs for or against God are equally legitimate.
3. By extension, Agnostics must also remain undecided on the IPU, the FSM, Russell's Teapot, (ad infinitum) or maintain that beliefs for or against these things are equally legitimate.
4a. Supposing the Agnostic does maintain that IPU/FSM/Russell's Teapot/(ad infinitum) are things to be undecided about or that beliefs for or against these things are equally legitimate. (knowledge has been rendered arbitrary - absurdity)
4b. Supposing the Agnostic doesn't maintain that IPU/FSM/Russell's Teapot/(ad infinitum) are things to be undecided about or that beliefs for or against these things are equally legitimate. (premise 4b contradicts premise 1 - absurdity)
5. Therefore, "Pure Agnosticism" is not a legitimate belief system: reductio ad absurdum.

Overall self-described Agnostics in this vein either have no conception of objective knowledge whatsoever, or they don't consistently extend their reasoning to anything else because they only encapsulate that reasoning on one particular pet entity they prefer.
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« Reply #30 on: April 03, 2011, 12:17:26 AM »

See, that's just silly.  By very virtue of being invisible the unicorn can't possibly be pink.  As for Cthulu it's really simple: When you read the Necronomicon do you go insane or experience an overwhelming desire to wake the Old Gods from their Slumber beneath the Waves?  If yes, then a belief in Cthulu does not seem quite so silly. 
"Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn

It's hardly contradictory for something to be pink yet invisible.

That, and why should disproving so-and-so aspects of the Necronomicon easily debunk a belief in Cthulu? It certainly doesn't work for Christianity and the Bible. The rebuttals here are kinda weak.

EDIT: To add:

Atheist: See, that's just silly. By very virtue of being invisible the unicorn can't possibly be pink.
Christian: See, that's just silly. By very virtue of being The Father God can't possibly be The Son.

Atheist: As for Cthulu it's really simple: When you read the Necronomicon do you go insane or experience an overwhelming desire to wake the Old Gods from their Slumber beneath the Waves? If yes, then a belief in Cthulu does not seem quite so silly.
Christian:  As for God it's really simple: When you have faith the size of a mustard seed are you able to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20)? If yes, then a belief in God does not seem quite so silly.

I agree with you.  However, if you're going to complain about scientific literacy, you need to consider religious literacy also in the mind of many of those who believe in God.  For me, an atheist who says compares God to unicorns shows a level of literacy on the religious level that is comparable to the scientific literacy creationists have when they compare theory to a guess.

The unicorn argument is used to stop people from saying "you can't disprove God," not as a valid argument to disprove God.  In fact, with the way atheists seem to be adopting the infinite multiverse idea, it seems that there does exist a unicorn under atheistic standards.  As I think more about the multiverse theory, it sounds like a God of the gaps, only in materialistic terms.
The unicorn argument isn't meant to be a disproof of God. It's simply to frame the discussion in a broader context of how rational inquiry works in general. We have so-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so ideas of how rational inquiry works, but ever since the 1800s theologians have been trying to say that God doesn't fall under these standards of evidence. If they had a good reason as to why the idea of God is exempt from rational standards, that'd be fine (and indeed this is the goal of some theologians with Transcendental Arguments and whatnot).

However, if they don't, they're basically establishing a precedent that allows for a whole crapload of absurdities (be they Russell's Teapot, the IPU, the FSM) to exist in some metaphysical void such that we must remain "agnostic" and undecided about their existence. The objections you just made just now can be resolved simply by redefining or appending more properties to these concepts so that they remain too nebulous or otherworldly to critique, which is the exact method that many contemporary theists use.

Frankly, it's simply much more parsimonious to discount the infinite number of entities that could be shoved outside of natural existence instead of sitting on the fence for every one of them.

Massimo Pigliucci mentioned this very problem with certain takes on modern Christianity: in order to shield themselves from rational inquiry Fundamentalists have had to reframe Christianity in more postmodernist/subjectivist terms. However, to establish a core principle of morals (among other things) a postmodernist slant is self-defeating for Fundamentalist religion.

Also multiple universes? Frankly that line of argumentation only pops up if you're a teenager who's been watching too much Star Trek. It's too speculative and opens up a huge bag of worms.

Overall I think you're mistaking the IPU and the FSM as appeals to ridicule rather than the reductio ad absurdums they're meant to be.

You speak about "modern Christianity" as if these arguments have never been brought about before.  These arguments are the same old tired crap from ancient times down today.  The only difference is today, the new atheists use science to "prove" their beliefs.  Christians have never said anything different than they did before.

Second of all, the essence of God is precisely a transcendental definition, which has been used before.  St. Dionysius the Aeropagite, a follower of St. Paul himself, taught that God was beyond infinite.  Modern Christianity, perhaps Western Protestants would have you talk about God as infinite.  But as early as the Apostles, the essence of God was understood to be beyond of what we can comprehend, which requires God condescending to us to help in belief in Him.  The use of "pink unicorn" simply paints a picture of a horse with wings and a horn, and the color pink, and then puts that outside the "bubble" of the cosmos.  The use of "God" is a use where painting a picture is impossible, and where anthropomorphic concepts is inevitable as long as the acknowledgement of the transcendental character of the Godhead is understood.  "Pink unicornness" is not a transcendental character, or an anthropomorphic understanding of the characteristics of God as He makes Himself known to us, but (deliberately or not deliberately) an offensive caricature (albeit an attempt) and a gross mis-understanding of God. (Unless of course, we can poetically compare God to the unicorn, with the horn of protection from our enemies, the wings of transcendance and of comforting love, and the horse of guidance to the path of eternal salvation).

Finally, multiverse:  Where have you been the past couple of years?  Dawkins even hailed the idea as the final nail on the coffin of theism via "The Grand Design."  What you ridicule as a Star Trek idea has been put forward as the bulwark of atheistic proof.
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« Reply #31 on: April 03, 2011, 02:34:25 AM »

I could see where you are coming from if faith/religion was only a question of rationality and belief systems, that is to say that whatever religion is, it is at its foundations mere intellection…perhaps erroneous, but intellection nonetheless…just a way of thinking about the world, right or wrong.

However, I have two problems with your line of reasoning. The first is a rejection of God based perceived absence of "proof", especially "proof" that can be weighed, measured, calculated, etc. It doesn't seem to seriously consider the Orthodox truth claim than mankind in his normative existence is broken, the part of him that is capable of perceiving God is largely dysfunctional unless healed.  In a village where everyone is blind and none have experienced sight…the stranger who can see is first a curiosity and then a threat and then a casualty…and in a generation or two all the stranger's surviving stories are just children's tales…fantasies, fictions not realty…sight…what a silly concept…no evidence for it whatsoever.

Orthodox theology teaches that our senses at best can lead us to conjecture the rational possibility of the existence of God, but that is just a speculation, not evidence. But it also teaches that those who have been healed in this faculty do perceive a number of things consistent with, and to them entirely evidentiary of the existence of God.  They are witnesses to what cannot be shared with those who lack their perceptual captivity. We can believe they are just making stuff up, self-deluders, perhaps hallucinators, if not cheats and charlatans…or we can believe, based on the other more easily observable aspects of their lives that they are telling the truth.

Granted it is easy to dismiss the tales of Saints from hundreds of years ago as pious legend, but it is less easy to do when such souls are our contemporaries, people who are personally known to other people with, we must assume, some modicum of personal integrity.  The events related in The Young Man the Guru, and Elder Paisios are not explicable by modern science apart from God, and we must rationally regard them as either fabrications, or at least indirect evidence of a world beyond our 5 senses, a world outside our conventional boundaries of rationality.  The same is true for the life of Elder Porphyrios…who did amazing things like seeing through the eyes of another while old and blind himself, bending space and time so that a five hour road trip took only 15 minutes…and that would be fantastic and difficult to believe enough it it weren't that he is not alone is doing such things that lie beyond our known world of the senses.  Mother Gavriela could freshen dead flowers with a word…indeed dead flowers and are renewed to life on a feast day of St. John on a certain island in Greece, and on another island they freshen of a feast day of the Theotokos, while on yet another on a feast day for the Theotokos snakes not seen at any other time of the year come to church, and have done so for the last 300 years.  Then there is the holy fire in Jerusalem, the turning of the flow of the River Jordan at Theophany, and the yearly cloud that covers Mt. Tabor of the feast day of the Holy Ascension every year for recorded history since Christ was transfigured there 2000 years ago.  Then there are weeping, myrrh dripping icons, self restoring icons, the beautiful fragrance of the holy dead…so much for so long that is so far outside the bound of scientific explanation…unless they want avoid serious inquiry by lumping it all up as fraud on a colossal scale that stretches across continents and centuries…so cleverly done the most famous "tricks" have yet to be discovered.  Now that does stretch credibility…at least for me.  

Of course my point is this…these miraculous things that are perceptible to our senses tithes phenomena that lie far outside any rational explanation that discounts God, or a realm of existence that both impinges on our own must have explanation…and to me the most rational thing is that they point to the limitations of 5 sense based gnosiology.  So while these things do not absolutely prove the existence of God, though that certainly move a long way in that direction…what they do is indicate the limits of what we know and what we are capable of knowing/learning by mere intellection and material experimentation. There is world out there, a realm, close to use, but utterly imperceptible to us  unless it wishes to be made known, and when it does so it doesn't involve speculative invisible body parts affixed to anyone's forehead.

And as a parting shot in the for what it is worth department…have you ever noticed in Genesis God is never said to have created life on earth, per se, rather it says He spoke to the earth and to the water and told them to bring forth different types of life respectively….essentially saying that He made the substance of earth life generating…it is later in the creation account He gets personally involved with the nature of man."  Just food for thought.
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« Reply #32 on: April 03, 2011, 04:10:02 AM »

Dnarmist
I'm sorry to hear that and May God gives you real faith. But you were never an Orthodox to start with. Bible says he who has will gain more but he who has less will loose. If you had enough faith you would not loose it. For an Othodox man not just enough faith but only faith is needed.

Orthodox teaching considers rationalization and logic a sin that can only make a man fall. Why did the Lord say to Apostle Thomas "you believe in my resurrection because you saw me, but blessed is he who believes in it without seeing"? (I don't have Bible with me to quote it exactly but this is approximately right). Faith must not require any logic. If something is based on logic and facts it's not Faith any more. I pray and ask God Almighty to take away everything from me (me eyes, my hands, my legs, my intellect) but Faith in Him, His Son and His Holy Spirit. I have not ever felt in my life God's presence and His Grace the way Holy people have felt and the way many Christians or even non-Christians felt it. In spite I do not want to lose this Faith. God, Glory to Thee, save me from loosing this Faith; I will live if you did not show your Holy Face to me in this life, but please, do not take my Faith away; I do not want to die.

Unfortunately, you lost (if you had it actually) The Faith that is life giving and you gained a faith that is deadly. Materialism and scientism is a faith, deadly one, one of those many faiths that has no meaning but somehow people do not doubt it. You are pretending that consistency is important for you but at the same time you are inconsistent and deny your own logic of necessity being consistent. Münchhausen Trilemma makes this point clear. So, however nice logic we think we have, quoting philosopher William James:
Quote
The philosopher’s logical tranquillity is thus in essence no other than the boor’s. They differ only as to the point at which each refuses to let further considerations upset the absoluteness of the data he assumes.
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« Reply #33 on: April 03, 2011, 04:21:49 AM »

I'm sorry to hear that and May God gives you real faith. But you were never an Orthodox to start with. Bible says he who has will gain more but he who has less will loose. If you had enough faith you would not loose it.

Sounds like the eternal security heresy.
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« Reply #34 on: April 03, 2011, 04:27:30 AM »

Why are you saying "losing my religion" as if it's in the process? I might be able to say that about myself, but this seems very much a past tense matter for you.
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« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2011, 12:01:53 PM »

Faith is absolutely counter to that pursuit. Reason can discover the truth and discard misinformation (an essential step to discovering the truth) by examining the merit of every claim at its disposal, keeping what makes sense and discarding the junk. None of that requires faith. Saying "look man, please don't be rude by asking questions about that thing, just TRUST ME!", on the other hand, is the unmistakable mark of a liar burying the truth.
BS. "Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." - Chesterton
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« Reply #36 on: April 03, 2011, 02:44:59 PM »

I'm curious if you consider your position in regards to reason to be one of faith? What I find interesting is that when it comes to the mental and cognitive realm, we somehow assume that human beings are without bounds. We cling to the idea that we are "fully rational" beings, and that, like mental Supermen, we can figure out anything. Why are we so readily willing to admit to our physical limitations but are unwilling to take our cognitive limitations into account?

Or, perhaps you do and you'd rather place your trust in your own cognitive abilities, rather than God. I can understand that impulse.
You have it completely backwards. It is precisely because we are not mental supermen that we need reasoning. Reasoning and epistemology are tools we use to help our fallible minds separate justified and unjustified beliefs. On the contrary, it is the person who advocates faith who assumes the ultimate reliability of their ability to separate truth and falsehood. Faith supposes that we can obtain the truth without all the bother of attempting to justify it.

what does that have to do with the existence or non-existence of God?
It has to do with whether faith is a virtue or not. That is, can you apply it universally, and if not, then what are its limits? If it only applies when it's faith in your original convictions, that doesn't seem very virtuous.


Quote
Who is it that believes truth can never be corrupted? Certainly we, as Orthodox Christians, believe we have the truth uncorrupted, but that does not mean it cannot be corrupted,
Well, like I said, I think it's important that everyone takes a step back and says "hang on, is what I believe really more plausible and better-founded than this other stuff?" To say that a book has survived with the uncorrupted truth when it's been demonstrably edited (sometimes heavily) from the original manuscripts, wasn't based on first-hand account to begin with, and was ultimately about a Messiah-type figure when many accounts of such figures existed at the time seems a stretch.

To say it was allowed to flourish because it was the truth is useless because conflicting claims like Islam were also allowed to flourish.

Now, this doesn't mean that God needs to operate the way I think he does, what it does mean though is that God has not created a universal barrier to being fooled. The demand to follow the truth necessitates not being fooled, and the demand of faith to constantly reinforce your existing convictions is in direct conflict with that.

Quote
Isn't that contrary to the idea of free will?
It's contrary to the demand to worship the one true God and follow his teachings when the teachings and descriptions of God can not be verified to be accurate.

Quote
If God existed, why would he exist in your image?
I don't think he would, but I'm not the one claiming to have an idea of what God is like, religions are. They claim he has certain traits, which frequently seem to be in conflict with reality or in conflict with their own teachings. All of them are suspiciously anthropomorphic and often (as in the case of faith) apparently self-serving. At stake isn't the nature of God as much as whether any religion's claims to know the nature of God are actually credible.

To say that every religion is clueless about God is to say quite a lot about God's existence though, since there isn't really anything outside of those religions that continues to point to the existence of a god.

Quote
You're responding to me as if I said the faith should never be questioned, but that is quite the opposite of what I wrote.
What would you describe faith as?

Striving to reconcile anything toward a fixed explanation seems to me to be refusing to question whether that original explanation is itself accurate.

Quote
And yet with the bomb of creation we are suddenly to believe that because we haven't found any evidence beyond the idea that it is reasonable that someone had to do it, that we must discard that notion?
It's not so much that it's false as that it has no explanatory value. You can only really say one of two things:
- Something would be different if it were true compared to if it were false. If this is the case, then that's a testable claim and we can work on it, but we have had no claims of that sort where natural explanations don't seem to be much more consistent.

- Nothing would be different if it were true compared to if it were false. If that's the case, then it doesn't actually explain anything. Like maybe a bug flew into my apartment and flew out and I never noticed it, that's fine, but it doesn't explain why my kitchen's a mess.



You speak about "modern Christianity" as if these arguments have never been brought about before.  These arguments are the same old tired crap from ancient times down today.  The only difference is today, the new atheists use science to "prove" their beliefs.  Christians have never said anything different than they did before.
While Christians long maintained the ineffability of God, they also tried to get around the problem of ineffability to make God provable through things like Via Affirmativa and Via Negativa (John Scotus Erigena, mid-9th century). A God that cannot be described is also a God that cannot be interpreted and understood, which is rather troublesome for theology. As I pointed out before through a good hunk of the Church's history theology very much incorporated reason into its attempts to prove God.

Quote
Second of all, the essence of God is precisely a transcendental definition, which has been used before.  St. Dionysius the Aeropagite, a follower of St. Paul himself, taught that God was beyond infinite.  Modern Christianity, perhaps Western Protestants would have you talk about God as infinite.  But as early as the Apostles, the essence of God was understood to be beyond of what we can comprehend, which requires God condescending to us to help in belief in Him.
If this is a response to my use of the term "Transcendental Argument," you're mistaking that for transcendental qualities in general. The Transcendental Argument for God is a pretty contemporary construct and is essentially an attempt to take Kant's methodology behind his "Transcendental Idealism" and apply it to the Bible ("God cannot be proved, rather he is the standard OF proof"). It has nothing to do with transcendetal qualities.

If you are talking about transcendental/ineffable qualities however, see the above. God being transcendental or ineffable didn't stop theology from trying to prove His existence through reason and logic for a thousand years, in part because they included God's ineffable/transcendental nature into their logical proofs and explanations. One such theologian was St. Augustine of Hippo who used God's ineffable, transcendent timelessness as a way to get around the Problem of Evil.

I understand that you're very used to the idea that, as you put it, "I honestly think it's silly to rationalize and prove the existence of God on logic and arguments," but this is ignoring the vast context of historical theology and the developments thereof.

Quote
The use of "pink unicorn" simply paints a picture of a horse with wings and a horn, and the color pink, and then puts that outside the "bubble" of the cosmos.  The use of "God" is a use where painting a picture is impossible, and where anthropomorphic concepts is inevitable as long as the acknowledgement of the transcendental character of the Godhead is understood.  "Pink unicornness" is not a transcendental character, or an anthropomorphic understanding of the characteristics of God as He makes Himself known to us, but (deliberately or not deliberately) an offensive caricature (albeit an attempt) and a gross mis-understanding of God. (Unless of course, we can poetically compare God to the unicorn, with the horn of protection from our enemies, the wings of transcendance and of comforting love, and the horse of guidance to the path of eternal salvation).

Finally, multiverse:  Where have you been the past couple of years?  Dawkins even hailed the idea as the final nail on the coffin of theism via "The Grand Design."  What you ridicule as a Star Trek idea has been put forward as the bulwark of atheistic proof.
Sounds kinda dogmatic there. You're misinterpreting the transcendental nature of the entities I'm referring to. Undecided

The use of "Invisible Pink Unicorn" is a use where painting a picture is impossible, and where equinethropic concepts are inevitable as long as the acknowledgement of the transcendental character of the Unicornness is understood.

The use of "Cthulu" is a use where painting a picture is impossible, and where squidthropic concepts are inevitable as long as the acknowledgement of the transcendental character of the Cthuloid nature is understood.

I mean even if God has a qualitative difference from the IPU/Cthulu/FSM... so what? How exactly does this transcendent nature and ineffability of the concept of God make Agnosticism a proper stance to take? How does it make both atheism and theism equally justified? The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms" setting is just as transcendental... doesn't make Ao any less fictional. The Q Continuum is just as transcendental. Doesn't make the Q any less fictional. The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology is just as transcendental. Doesn't make the Far Realm any less fictional.

Overall the point is that defining a thing so that it is uninvestigable doesn't make it any more rational. It is possible to do this with any concept and write metaphysical barriers around it. It's not mocking God. Rather, it's pointing out the inherent arbitrariness of the methodology by which God is insulated from inquiry yet still given serious consideration.
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« Reply #37 on: April 03, 2011, 02:48:35 PM »

To approach the subject from a fresh angle I think it needs to be asked: what exactly is it about a transcendent nature that would exempt any entity from the Burden of Proof? To get down to brass tacks, let's just stick it in a syllogism:

1. Entity X is transcendent/supernatural.
2. (?? ??)
3. Therefore, the belief or nonbelief in entity X are equally justified/entity X is exempt from the Burden of Proof.

It's your classic non sequitur. Nowhere in the concept of "transcendent/supernatural" is there some property that allows us to deductively reach the intended conclusion. It simply does not follow.
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« Reply #38 on: April 03, 2011, 04:30:13 PM »

1. Yahweh is the one true God. Single.

2. We are Yahweh's chosen people, and we are therefore enlightened.
Enlightenment has various connotations. When put that way, it comes off as snobbish. Yahweh's people may be snobs for it, but they have no right to be such. A patient who refuses his medicine is no reflection on the value of the medicine.

3. Yahweh has filled the Earth with both challenges for us(earthquakes, disease), and things that are of great benefit(things to eat).
No, those challenges are a result of the fall. God allows them for our salvation, but it is not as you have written above.

4. One of the challenges Yahweh has filled the Earth with is other "religions."
No, other religions are the result of the human urge to worship the one true God, Yahweh, but not having the ability to do so in spirit and in truth. But some of these false religions come closer to others. But no, God does not create other religions to challenge us.

5. As these religions are not built on Yahweh, they are mere fiction.
Not quite. Some Christians may say this, but Orthodox Christians acknowledge that man is capable of deriving some level of truth without being reborn in water and the Spirit.

6. Because the followers of these religions are not of the chosen people, they are therefore lesser than.
Um, no. Where do you get this idea?

7. This gives us permission to kill them.
Um, no.

Don't say you got this from the Old Testament, because that would be your interpretation of the Old Testament, not the Church's interpretation. And inside the Church, the Church's interpretation is the only one that matters. It's fun for people to take superficial messages from the Old Testament, but that isn't Orthodox. The Old Testament is not permission for Christians to be proud and slaughter people.

8. We are obligated to kill them in order for the chosen people to take over the Earth.
Roll Eyes

I'm pretty sure that Orthodox Christians are often the ones being killed. And yes, we want everyone to be Orthodox Christians, and someday every knee will bow to Christ, but this isn't Islam and the Mahdi. "When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" Doesn't sound like a religion that is holding the planet hostage until they convert.

And that's not how we interpret the OT either. Everything that occurred was to the ends of bringing the Messiah, who would inaugurate the Church. Those two things apparently could not have occurred if the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt.

9. Jesus is the earthly manifestation of Yahweh.
Not precisely.

If you used to be Orthodox, then you know the nuances of the Trinity—as well as the interpretation of the OT. That you have to build up this caricature to discredit Christianity tells me you are reacting emotionally, irrationally, and you are probably repeating things you've read, with very little personal reflection or deeper meditation about these things.

I think perhaps you should study Orthodoxy more deeply before you higgledy-piggledy decide to become an atheist. Most atheist critiques of Christianity I've seen are so utterly simplistic that you can see right through them—into a person who is simply angry/bitter and irrationally blast everything that moves.
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« Reply #39 on: April 03, 2011, 05:19:28 PM »

God is not coercive, coming to christ through free will is believing without asking for proof.

If the lord popped up every year just to keep providng proof that would be coercive subjugation not free will.
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« Reply #40 on: April 03, 2011, 10:42:43 PM »


If you used to be Orthodox, then you know the nuances of the Trinity—as well as the interpretation of the OT. That you have to build up this caricature to discredit Christianity tells me you are reacting emotionally, irrationally, and you are probably repeating things you've read, with very little personal reflection or deeper meditation about these things.
I agree, this is really a caricature. And some literature is indeed being paraphrased.

Try to keep your posts short and address Orthodox claims specifically, if you don't mind. No one here is making the enlightenment-era deistic proof statements you're attempting to refute, OP.
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« Reply #41 on: April 04, 2011, 10:51:38 AM »

I mean even if God has a qualitative difference from the IPU/Cthulu/FSM... so what? How exactly does this transcendent nature and ineffability of the concept of God make Agnosticism a proper stance to take? How does it make both atheism and theism equally justified? The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms" setting is just as transcendental... doesn't make Ao any less fictional. The Q Continuum is just as transcendental. Doesn't make the Q any less fictional. The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology is just as transcendental. Doesn't make the Far Realm any less fictional.

Agnosticism is a natural human idea, that all humans, theist or atheist, possess.  The first acknowledgement of one own's true humanness is the humbling notion of "I don't know."  In fact, I'll take this even further.  As our scientific knowledge reveals how minuscule we are compared to just the known universe alone, and how mathematics of theoretical physics reveals a calculation of "infinity" somewhere that is interpreted as "there are infinite universes, which is why our universe is possible for the formation of human life and intelligence," it shows essentially, we are "nothing."  If we are indeed nothing, then how much more do we long to be "something?"  The cosmos alone does not do this for me.  It is just an affirmation of how much more nothing I'm becoming.

But God, who is something, and who changes lives around in this world, and who through humans goes against natural expectations at times, is the faith I live by so that my nothingness does not overwhelm me.  He who makes an infinite cosmos nothing to Him made me with a capacity to understand His cosmos and Him.  A horse or a squid can care less about the origins of the world as long as they survive.
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« Reply #42 on: April 04, 2011, 01:55:27 PM »


But God, who is something, and who changes lives around in this world, and who through humans goes against natural expectations at times, is the faith I live by so that my nothingness does not overwhelm me.  He who makes an infinite cosmos nothing to Him made me with a capacity to understand His cosmos and Him.  A horse or a squid can care less about the origins of the world as long as they survive.

And that is the essence of the problem. It seems to me that, for whatever reason, our OP will soon descend to the level of a squid. What a sad and bleak existence! Lord have mercy on him and bring him back, even if he is now rebelling and raging against against Him. Is it not tragic that those who do so in the name of Humanity, end up losing their humanity?
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« Reply #43 on: April 04, 2011, 06:06:40 PM »

No one here is making the enlightenment-era deistic proof statements you're attempting to refute, OP.
Actually my study of philosophy, though far from complete, spans from a little bit of ancient Greek philosophy to the modernist period. I don't know much past Kant, though I'm working through some Popper and Kuhn for my own purposes.

Most of the theistic arguments I'm acquainted with actually aren't enlightenment-era. They popped up in the medieval period though some had been inherited from more classical scholars.

I wouldn't write off the more classical/medieval philosophy either. A lot of theists I encounter try to cobble together their own arguments from scraps of what they know or conceived of. While it can be quite intellectually fulfilling, a lot of what they come up with turn out to be cruder versions of arguments that are hundreds of years old. They want to do theology, but don't care to acquire the knowledge or tools to help put that theology into context by learning from the flaws and dead ends of the past.

In a way a lot of budding young armchair theologians are akin to neonates attempting to reinvent a computer, but don't care to learn anything about basic physics, mathematical logic, electricity, engineering, materials science, circuitry, or any other discoveries or developments that came before that would help them towards this goal.

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To get back down to basics, one of the first things that needs to be addressed before any theology can take place is what exactly someone means by God. For example, suppose two individuals have the following argument.

Person 1: "A blictri exists."
Person 2: "Prove it"
Person 1: "It is raining outside, therefore a blictri exists."

This is hardly intellectually satisfying. If we do not have some basic understanding of what a "blictri" is or what it means to be a "blictri," how can we possibly prove its existence or demonstrate its relationship or relevance to the human condition? (note that the term "blictri" is an intentionally undefined nonsense word used to demonstrate just this point. As one philosopher stated: "Could that person justly value himself upon his knowledge who, having infallible assurance that something called a Blictri had a being in nature, in the meantime knew not what this Blictri was?")

So before anyone can go about proving the existence of God, it is critical to define, as precisely as possible, what God is exactly.

This is, exactly what theologian John Scotus tried to do in the 9th century. He wanted to maintain the ineffability of God, but at the same time attribute some qualities to him so that theologians would have some bit to work with to demonstrate His existence.
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« Reply #44 on: April 04, 2011, 09:09:31 PM »

Quote
Person 1: "A blictri exists."
Person 2: "Prove it"
Person 1: "It is raining outside, therefore a blictri exists."

If you are looking for something intellectually satisfying, then science, philosophy, music, etc. are all great.  But there's nothing intellectually we can do to satisfy proving God.  We prove God not by our intellect, but by our actions.

The poor homeless man in the street can care less about all these human comforts.  Such people who find that they truly have nothing have been quite open to God helping them.  We take for granted our comforts at home, and all we care about is how we can intellectually satisfy our minds.  But we haven't prayed, we haven't fasted, and we certainly haven't been helping the poor.  We enjoy political discussions, and participate in voting (for the lesser evil mind you).  We have great feasts at home with family and friends.  But what about the defenseless, the ones without families, the ones without homes?

What's the point of this?  The point is I am capitalizing on how we really are nothing.  I've intellectually showed you how we are nothing.  Now look at practically how vain most of us live life.  We truly are nothing.  But when you serve among the poor in this country, you find how much more richer they are than you.

Belief in God is not an intellectual endeavor.  It's a way of life.  Science is an intellectual endeavor.  Music is an intellectual endeavor.  History is an intellectual endeavor.  All things in nature, all things in the cosmos that can be understood in intellectual endeavors.  But God is not in nature.  He is not in the cosmos.  He is outside nature.  Our intellect does nothing.  But practice, our spiritual life and our charitable lives proves Him.  Why do you still seek a definition of the undefinable?  Why do you seek the "I am" among "nothingness"?  Why do you seek the living among the dead (all of us will cease to exist one day)?  It's because we haven't freed our minds from materialism.

I can intellectually satisfy you elsewhere.  But when it comes to God, John Scotus will not help much.  I can intellectually refute atheist claims against my beliefs.  But that's as far as I can intellectually satisfy you.  Refute an anti-belief, but to prove my beliefs, I have to live it in front of you.  "God became man so that man might become God."  I have to become God for you to believe in Him.  If man couldn't become God unless God became man, how much harder would it be for me to prove to you intellectually the existence of God without directing your attention to the man-God Christ?

If I were a Hindu, I can say, "God is within you and is you."  If I were a Buddhist, I can say, "You don't need God.  Enlightenment is within you."  If I were a Muslim, I can say, "Read the Koran in Arabic, and you'll see the proof."  If I were a Jew, I can say, "God is the great I AM, and our limited existence cannot fully comprehend ever-existence."  If I were an atheist, I can say, "Who cares?  Just live your life because tomorrow we die."  But as a Christian, I say, "The great I AM made Himself known to us through Christ."  To me, it's about Christ, the incarnate God, and following His spiritual direction that says it for me.  I can't prove it to you any further, but can try my best to live it for you to see for yourself.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 09:10:51 PM by minasoliman » Logged

Vain existence can never exist, for \\\"unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.\\\" (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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