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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.
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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!"

Quote
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

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.
Quote
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.

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

Quote
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.



Quote
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.

Quote
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?

Quote
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?

Quote
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.

Quote
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.
Quote
Positivism.
Uh, nowhere here did I posit a belief in positivism. Huh
Quote
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.

Words
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.
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« Reply #45 on: April 04, 2011, 09:21:49 PM »

If God really exists, why in heaven’s name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty?  Why does he not show his face so that at last a despairing world can have hope?  At one time or another, everyone asks such a question.  In some objectifiably verifiable and convincing way, we want God himself to demonstrate his own existence.  Deep in our hearts, I suspect that this is what all of us want, unbelievers no less than believers.  And I have wondered sometimes what would happen if God were to do just that.  What would happen if God did set about demonstrating his existence in some dramatic and irrefutable way?

Suppose, for instance, that God were to take the great, dim river of the Milky Way as we see it from down here flowing across the night sky and were to brighten it up a little and then rearrange it so that all of a sudden one night the world would step outside and look up at the heavens and see not the usual haphazard scattering of stars but, written out in letters lightyears tall, the sentence I REALLY EXIST or GOD IS.  If I were going to try to write a story or a play about such an event, I would start, of course, with the first night that this great theological headline appeared there in the stars, with suns and moons to dot the I’s and the tails of comets to cross the t’s.  And I would try to show some of the ways I can imagine people might respond to it. 

I would show some of them sinking to their knees, not because they are especially religious people but just because it might seem somehow the only natural thing to do under the circumstances.  They would perhaps do it without even thinking about it, just crumpling down on their knees there in the tall grass out behind the garage.  Some of them I would show running back into their houses in terror - guilty ones in terror of it - just GOD IS written up there in the fire of the stars - and maybe in everyone some degree of terror at just the sheer awesome vastness of the Uknown suddenly making itself known.

Several years would go by and God’s proof of himself would still be blazing away every night for all to read.  In order to convince people that the message was not just some million-to-one freak of nature, I would be tempted to have God keep on rewriting it in different languages, sometimes accompanying it with bursts of pure color or with music so celestial that finally the last hardened skeptic would be convinced that God must indeed exist after all.  Then the way that I would have it end might be this.  I would have a child look up at the sky some night, just a plain, garden-variety child with perhaps a wad of bubble gum in his cheek.  If this were to be a movie, I would have a close-up here of just the child’s eyes with the stars reflected in them, and I would have him spell out the message syllable by syllable.  Let us say that this night it happens to be in French - J’existe quand-meme. C’est moi, le bon Dieu.  And deep in the heavens there would be the usual strains of sublime music.  And then I would have the child turn to his father, or maybe, with the crazy courage of childhood, I would have him turn to God himself, and the words that I would have him speak would be words to make the angels gasp.  “So what if God exists?” he would say.  “What difference does that make?” 

And in the twinkling of an eye the message would fade away for good and the celestial music would be heard no more, or maybe they would continue for centuries to come, but it would no longer make any difference.

We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof we tend to want - scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all - would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all.  For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world.  It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God’s presence.  That is the miracle we are really after.  And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.


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« Reply #46 on: April 04, 2011, 10:17:56 PM »

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.
Good, we agree that all the evidence points to God not existing.

Quote
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.
That's a laughably rosy tint on your glasses.

And then where do you get this funny idea that god gives a crap about you? Because that seems to be the innevitable conclusion of this line of thought, that the universe  and its creator, just wouldn't give a dang because your so small and they are so big.

Quote
Belief in God is not an intellectual endeavor.
Freaking oath it isn't.

Quote
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.
He is in space. Maybe on a spaceship!

Quote
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.
If he's undefinable how are we to talk about him? Can one even speak of the unspeakable?

The idea of God as "some stuff that isnt defined" seems to ignore the fact that (A) the history of mankind is filled with definitions of god , and (B) talking about undefined stuff by keeping it undefined isn't just anti-intellectual, its babbling stupidity.

Quote
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.
Then do it! Enough with the mystical mumbo-jumbo man, give us a proof or prove us wrong. Channeling dolphin beams out your third eye just isn't doing it for me, frankly. You make claims about how poor atheist's arguments are but consistently ignore them in favor of vague mysticism.

You also repeatedly talk about what the concept of god has to offer man as if that is supposed to prove that god exists. Free energy would be pretty awesome too, that doesn't mean it's possible.

Quote
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."
entity becomes category. category becomes entity. Logic explodes in a puff of marijuana

Quote
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?
Alternative suggestion: Jesus is just a dead man-man

Quote
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.
Then we nailed him to some wood lol.

I don't get what any of this tortured logic leads to. Your trying to tell us that somehow you have to transmogrify into a space ghost to prove it. But also that seemingly we should just accept your beliefs because jesus said a thing.

The wisest man in the bible was Thomas for demanding to see the wounds.
Since just about any concept of god usually involves intelligence or at least a will of some kind, maybe we can just point out that it's completely stupid to think that intelligence can exist without like neurons and synapses and crap. It can't just be floating around all willy-nilly.
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« Reply #47 on: April 04, 2011, 10:25:52 PM »

Since just about any concept of god usually involves intelligence or at least a will of some kind, maybe we can just point out that it's completely stupid to think that intelligence can exist without like neurons and synapses and crap. It can't just be floating around all willy-nilly.

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« Reply #48 on: April 04, 2011, 10:32:56 PM »

I tried to be clear to you.  You're trying to understand how any of what I said proves God, where I'm trying to tell you that only practice and the way one lives can prove God.

In other words, to put it straight to you:  either you live like there's nothing else but the cosmos, or you live like there's more to life than just the cosmos.  Either you live with the fact that you're nothing more than ultimately nothing, or you live to seek freedom from nothingness.  That's basically what it comes down to.  Anything else is we talk about is superfluous. 

You want to talk about other things:  well, so far, you addressed the pink unicorn and "modern" Christianity, and John Scotus.  My arguments against your equinothropic arguments will always be because God is transcendental and your equinothropic idea has nothing to do with transcendence.  When we talk about God in anthropormorphic words, the idea is we take the pinnacle of creation, and not a random part of creation, and describe God only in limited terms.

What other problems do you have with Christianity?  Evolution?  Well, you're talking to an evolutionist.

What else?  You're unable to understand how I still believe?  Well, tell me how was your prayer life.  How was your fasting life.  Have you sought to help the needy?
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« Reply #49 on: April 04, 2011, 10:49:12 PM »

Since just about any concept of god usually involves intelligence or at least a will of some kind, maybe we can just point out that it's completely stupid to think that intelligence can exist without like neurons and synapses and crap. It can't just be floating around all willy-nilly.

Maybe we can just point out how arrogant it is, to think that an animal with limited knowledge at his disposal, can decide whether something he dosen't Know isn't possible, is or isn't.

HEY!!! You said the earth was flat man!!!! sorry dude, I  ASS-U-ME everything that makes sense to me logically to be right.  (Benny hill reference acknowledgment Grin)
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« Reply #50 on: April 05, 2011, 12:48:13 AM »

My arguments against your equinothropic arguments will always be because God is transcendental and your equinothropic idea has nothing to do with transcendence.  When we talk about God in anthropormorphic words, the idea is we take the pinnacle of creation, and not a random part of creation, and describe God only in limited terms.

What other problems do you have with Christianity?  Evolution?  Well, you're talking to an evolutionist.

What else?  You're unable to understand how I still believe?  Well, tell me how was your prayer life.  How was your fasting life.  Have you sought to help the needy?
This reminds me very much of Saint Anselm's reply to Gaunilo, who criticized his ontological argument by bringing up the "Perfect Island" rebuttal.


In truth, the traditional Ontological Argument is more clever than most people think, though it does have its flaws like the issue listed above. Immanuel Kant actually dealt a fatal blow to Anselm's original version of the Ontological Argument, and his answer to this riddle helped us elaborate more on what terms like "existence" and "properties" mean.

Me: "If your methodology were valid, then simply imagining a Perfect Tropical Island would logically entail the existence of that island!"
Christian:"Nuh-uh! There's nothing in the definition of a perfect tropical island that entails perfection!"

It's a pretty weak objection: either you're saying that applying the term "perfect" or "transcendent" to entities makes them so (which means we can apply these properties to anything), or you're saying that applying the term "perfect" or "transcendent" to entities doesn't make them so (which makes me wonder how in the world you can apply them to God).

Additionally, this approach doesn't address the problems like 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.

And what I said earlier:

Quote
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 #51 on: April 05, 2011, 12:59:03 AM »

Sleeper this is more a response to your quote and this is also targeted to minasoliman as well.

Faith is unfortunately a very vague and weighted term, and can mean anything from "confidence," "trust," or "a more emotive existential affirmation of belief as justification that stands outside of reason." We'll explore two broad categories of "Faith."

It first needs to be said that evidences aren't the only things that need to be justified... methodologies to acquire knowledge do too (see the historical philosophical bitchfest about the Problem of Induction). For example, if a tarot reader asserts that tarot reading is a good way to acquire knowledge about future events, we wouldn't take them at their word: we would want to see some sort of proof that this methodology does, in fact, reliably produce knowledge. The same goes for dowsing, tea leaf reading, the I Ching, etc. In this light, if Faith can't demonstrate that it is any more reliable a knowledge-determining tool than Tarot, dowsing, tea leaf reading, or the I Ching, we exclude it as a methodology.

As a response to this, theologians have tried to point out that even the most staunchly rational of individuals use a form of "Faith." For example, any atheist still has to have Faith in authorities: at some point people have to turn to an expert to supplement his own limited knowledge, and this trust is, at its core, a certain leap of Faith that is beyond conventional reason.

However, there are real authorities and there are illegitimate authorities. One can have Faith in a real scientist, or one can have Faith in a quack. One can trust a real oncologist to treat his cancer, or one can trust Kevin Trudeau's "miracle cures THEY don't want you to know about." One can trust chemotherapy and radiation treatments, or one can trust that coral calcium will get rid of your tumors. The distinction on who to trust and who not to hinges on being able to rationally determine what is real and what is not, what is legitimate and what is not, and this is rooted in evidence. In the end, this form of Faith merely reduces to another aspect of reason, and it is from the grounds of reason that one should be making their decisions and justifying their beliefs. "Faith in authority" merely reduces to become another aspect of reason.

In the end Faith faces a dilemma. If Faith can't (or won't) demonstrate itself as being reliable under the analysis of reason, it is written off as unreliable in the same way we do with any other methodology that can't demonstrate itself. If however it demonstrates itself to be in harmony with reason, it ceases to be theologically unique and separate from reason as a methodology... if so, the theologian should be arguing from evidence rather than speaking of a separate, nonrational "Faith."

Insofar as faith is possible, it is irrational. Insofar as faith is rational, it is impossible.

Here's a shortened syllogism:

1. Faith can broadly have two possible definitions: a method independent of rational standards, or a method that is dependant on rational standards. (law of excluded middle: A or not-A)
2a. If Faith is independent of rational standards ("You have to take the Bible as true on Faith before its evidences will reveal themselves to you" / "God is proven through fuzzy warm feelings" / "We know God through actions, not intellect") then this form of Faith is no more legitimate than any other faculty that doesn't (or refuses to) pass reason's test, such as the I Ching, tea leaf reading, tarot, Feng Shui, psychic powers, dowsing, etc. It is in conflict with Reason, and is excluded as nonsensical as we would all these other methods.
2b. If Faith is dependent on rational standards (Faith in Authority), then this form of Faith merely reduces to another aspect of Reason. It is not an independent faculty that works by its own methods insulated from rational critique.
3. Therefore, insofar as faith is possible, it is irrational. Insofar as faith is rational, it is impossible.
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« Reply #52 on: April 05, 2011, 02:07:41 AM »

You used three things to compare God to that I had no idea what you were talking about.  So I looked them up:

1.  The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms"--a deity of deities that rules over some land or realm
2.  The Q Continuum--an extradimensional plane of existence ruled by hyperintelligent beings
3.  The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology--an infinite vast filled with creatures of people's nightmares of unimaginable powers

1.  Deity only over a part of the whole existence does not sound like the Deity of all things that exist.
2.  An extra dimensional plane, an area of existence that theoretical physicists seem not have have trouble believing in, since mathematically, it seems we live in an 11-dimensional cosmos...whether there exists beings there, let alone hyperintelligent, is yet to be tested.
3.  Infinite vast of limited yet powerful beings of unimaginable powers, who come from their nightmares....Instead of what, beyond infinite vast of an unlimited Deity?

I don't know about you, but when you compare God to these three, then it's clear to me you and I don't agree on what "transcendent" is.  You can only imagine a transcendence comparable to what is around us, and you still paint a picture of a deity that is limited in His scope of rule, that exists in only an extra dimension of plane, or an infinite vast (of layers?) with powerful creatures.

No one is making stuff up when one thinks of a deity above all.  In fact, it's a concept that seems to unite not just Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but even some Hindus and Zoroastrians, and any derivatives of those religions.

The understand you give of anything "transcendant" is in reality part of all that exists, not above all that exists.  Anything that you can limit, even if you call that "transcendant" isn't so "transcendant."

As human knowledge grew, and as the known cosmos grew, God became much bigger over time it seems.  But at a certain point in human history, sometime before Christ, many enlightened peoples finally were able to understand that God is much more transcendant than we can even imagine.  But if one starts to imagine, we do in fact put limitations on God.

Finally, I'm going to address the issue of faith very simply for you.  In a nutshell, this is how I see it:

Atheism:  To believe that all things in the cosmos is all that is there (and when I use the word cosmos, I don't mean the universe; it could be the realm the holds the multiverse, or even bigger for all I care).
Theism:  To believe that all things in the cosmos ultimately find itself from a Creator

In other words, the question I personally ask is "What does my existence mean?  What does the existence of the cosmos mean?"

This is not a matter of believing in fanciful characters of hyperdimensions.  It's about whether all things were created or not.  That's it.  That's the extent of intellectual arguing on this.  I'm sorry this sounds disappointing to you.  But that's how I see it.

No one, as a believer in God, is reading tea leaves or palms or cards, or telling you about your future at all.  All of these are things within nature, within the cosmos.  It's like having faith in a tree.  Belief in God entails a sense of purpose in one's life.  That's it.  You may disagree, sure.  But my beliefs are confirmed through spiritual exercises, something that you don't need to have faith in to begin doing.
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« Reply #53 on: April 05, 2011, 02:17:49 AM »

A few more thoughts I wanted to add.

Quote from: minasoliman
To me, it's about Christ, the incarnate God, and following His spiritual direction that says it for me.
This is the problem though. Where do you get this spiritual direction from? Where did you hear this stuff from in the first place? It all traces back to a book claiming divine origin, and humans possibly claiming divine inspiration, but ultimately drawing from the book and the last round of humans.

If God really exists, why in heaven’s name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty?
I don't actually believe that if God existed, he'd owe us an appearance or an explanation. I'm not asking for God to prove he exists though: I'm asking that the people who claim their story about God is true provide some evidence of that. If God wants to show up and do it personally, then that'd be awesome, but I'd settle for far less than that. 

Quote
Well, tell me how was your prayer life. How was your fasting life. Have you sought to help the needy?
The problem is most religions do this. They have people that claim they've received visions, they have people who have massive transformative experiences in them, and some of them even give their lives for it. You have to be saying not only that all of those people have been fooled, but that you couldn't possibly have been fooled by the exact same phenomena.

This is why I left: If all of your reasons for believing are in common with religions whose followers have all been tricked, then you can not honestly exclude the possibility that you too have been tricked.
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« Reply #54 on: April 05, 2011, 02:25:40 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?

Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.
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« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2011, 04:40:39 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?
I find it pretty enjoyable to parody silly ideas and even more so when silly ideas are treated as the Most Serious Thing Ever. I understand this will be perceived as disrespectful, c'est la vie.

Quote
Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.
I acted the way I did when confronted with ancient and fantastic claims bundled along with the epistemic fuzziness of religious ideology - I thought critically about it and rejected the ideas which were contradictory, failed to be parsimonious, and so on.
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« Reply #56 on: April 05, 2011, 04:46:49 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?
I find it pretty enjoyable to parody silly ideas and even more so when silly ideas are treated as the Most Serious Thing Ever. I understand this will be perceived as disrespectful, c'est la vie.

Quote
Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.
I acted the way I did when confronted with ancient and fantastic claims bundled along with the epistemic fuzziness of religious ideology - I thought critically about it and rejected the ideas which were contradictory, failed to be parsimonious, and so on.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qLFJuCCMpM
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« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2011, 09:15:11 AM »

A few more thoughts I wanted to add.

Quote from: minasoliman
To me, it's about Christ, the incarnate God, and following His spiritual direction that says it for me.
This is the problem though. Where do you get this spiritual direction from? Where did you hear this stuff from in the first place? It all traces back to a book claiming divine origin, and humans possibly claiming divine inspiration, but ultimately drawing from the book and the last round of humans.

Part of it is the books.  Part of it is the heritage.  Part of it is the contribution of Christianity upon the world.  Part of it is the self-consistency of the beliefs.  Part of is the idea of God condescending to us in human form for the most intimate relationship.  Most of it is my spiritual life.

Quote
If God really exists, why in heaven’s name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty?
I don't actually believe that if God existed, he'd owe us an appearance or an explanation. I'm not asking for God to prove he exists though: I'm asking that the people who claim their story about God is true provide some evidence of that. If God wants to show up and do it personally, then that'd be awesome, but I'd settle for far less than that. 

Then start your spiritual exercises.

Quote
Quote
Well, tell me how was your prayer life. How was your fasting life. Have you sought to help the needy?
The problem is most religions do this. They have people that claim they've received visions, they have people who have massive transformative experiences in them, and some of them even give their lives for it. You have to be saying not only that all of those people have been fooled, but that you couldn't possibly have been fooled by the exact same phenomena.

This is why I left: If all of your reasons for believing are in common with religions whose followers have all been tricked, then you can not honestly exclude the possibility that you too have been tricked.

Well, if I argued for you to receive a vision, then I would.  But a vision is not the primary goal here.  I'll tell you I don't receive visions when I pray.  I do indeed speak of a transformative experience (perhaps not massively transformative, but it's different for different people).  Prayer alone can sometimes do that.  When people at least seek God in places where their notion of religion has not been challenged, I don't question their experiences. At times, I feel that the lack of Christian missions and charity in the world can be replaced by non-Christians by a loving God, and that doesn't take away from the truth of Christianity at all.  It only shows Christians who do not act upon the truth.

But there was a time when Christianity did turn the world upside down with its radical ideas and morals.  Spiritual exercises are not going to suck you in.  I would say they're going to give you another experience for you to examine yourself.  We're not a cult that tells you, if you leave the mosquitos will come and bite you.  If you don't want to give these spiritual exercises a chance, it's ultimately your own freedom to reject this form of "proof," but what does this tell you about the level of seriousness it is for your understanding of theism?
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« Reply #58 on: April 05, 2011, 09:16:04 AM »

Why are you being so rude and sarcastic?

Asterikos doesn't act like you when he's skeptical of a religious belief. I wonder why; perhaps you should too, brother.

To be quite honest, he is not nearly as rude or sarcastic as TTC was.
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« Reply #59 on: April 05, 2011, 11:02:33 AM »

10 Essential Conditions for Coming to Know God’s Truth and Finding Life. By Fr. Tom Hopko

1. The belief that the truth of things can be known, and the desire to know the truth and to do it, wherever it leads, is most essential. Indeed it is everything. When people have this desire and seek truth in order to do it, and are ready to do it whatever it takes to find it, know it and do it, God promises that they will find, and understand and live. In a sense, this desire and seeking is all that is necessary.

2. The seeking person must read the New Testament through, slowly and without judgment of details, at least two or three times, taking the time needed to do this. They should let go of what is not clear, and focus on what they can understand, what is clear to them. It would also be helpful to read a Psalm or two everyday.

3. The person must pray, as they can. If they claim to be Christian, at least somehow, they should say the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers of the Church tradition, and attend Liturgical services, without serving or singing or reading. If they are not Christians, or are unsure, they must at least pray, “to whom it may concern,” saying something like, “if you are there, teach me, lead me, guide me…”

4. The person must eat good foods in moderation. A couple of days a week (like Wed and Fri) the person should fast; eating much less than usual. During this search the person should abstain from all alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Except a minimal amount of wine with meals. If overeating or drinking, smoking or drug-taking is a problem, the seeker must get formal help, like, for example, a 12 step program.

5. The person should abstain from all sexual activity unless they are married and expressing love (and not just having sex). There should be no TV or Internet porn. If sex is an addictive problem, they must take steps to get formal help.

6. The person should sit alone and still in silence for at least a half hour each day. They should watch their thoughts, but not engage them. They should say a very short prayer while doing them, to avoid engaging their thoughts.

7. The person should give at least a couple of hours a week to charitable work, and should give away some of their money (if they can) in a sacrificial way. They should do this, as far as possible, without anyone knowing what they are doing.

8. The person should open their life fully to at least one other trustworthy person, telling absolutely everything, without editing or hiding anything: their thoughts, dreams, temptations, actions, sins, fears, anxieties, etc.

9. The person must regularly talk with someone trustworthy specifically about their family of origin: their family history going back as far as possible, their childhood, relations with their parents and grandparents and siblings, their spiritual and religious history, their sexual history, education, etc.

10. The person must find a community of friends with whom to struggle to know the truth and to find life. The search cannot be done alone. We need each other.

This is only one way to go about things, but I think it touches on something important, namely, that unless one is willing to do whatever it takes to find God, they don't really have any right to accept or reject him.

So many people say that if they can't arrive at God using only their mental faculties, then they will reject him. Might it be true that we have to come to God on his terms, and not our own? Might it not be, ironically, entirely unreasonable to conclude that God will do things my way, and that he must reveal himself the way I want him to, or that we might have to get other aspects of ourselves and our lives besides our brains involved?
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« Reply #60 on: April 05, 2011, 02:16:53 PM »

Just because you want something to be a certain way doesn't make it so. "Life would be great if God existed, therefore he does" is not a valid inference.

Personally I am glad that god doesn't exist - Christian ethics is based around making people feel guilty for being human - but I am aware that this is not a valid reason to become an atheist. My lack of belief is based on the lack of evidence for (and the unintelligibility of the concept of) god.

Christianity is pretty explicit in telling people that heaven and hell are real, and what you will attain through belief in Jesus/good works. It believes that Jesus is the son/manifestation of God on earth. It tells of a judgment day/apocalypse. It tells you that people have a soul, that zygotes have a soul, that abortion is murder, homosexuality is an abomination, etc, etc. You don't believe in some nebulous concept of God, you believe in a very specific God, and with that comes a lot of predictions and explanations that were made up whole-cloth over centuries by a bunch of dudes a couple thousand years ago.

You used three things to compare God to that I had no idea what you were talking about.  So I looked them up:

1.  The overgod Ao of the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms"--a deity of deities that rules over some land or realm
2.  The Q Continuum--an extradimensional plane of existence ruled by hyperintelligent beings
3.  The Lovecraftian "Far Realm" of D&D cosmology--an infinite vast filled with creatures of people's nightmares of unimaginable powers

1.  Deity only over a part of the whole existence does not sound like the Deity of all things that exist.
2.  An extra dimensional plane, an area of existence that theoretical physicists seem not have have trouble believing in, since mathematically, it seems we live in an 11-dimensional cosmos...whether there exists beings there, let alone hyperintelligent, is yet to be tested.
3.  Infinite vast of limited yet powerful beings of unimaginable powers, who come from their nightmares....Instead of what, beyond infinite vast of an unlimited Deity?
Ao's power and influence actually transcends to other spheres of influence, and His power seems boundless. He simply chooses to exercise it in rare cases. 11-dimensional String Theory actually isn't widely accepted as scientific, and the "dimensions" you're referring to isn't actually what the Q Continuum is. I'm not sure how your description of the Far Realms keeps it from being "transcendent." Cthuloid entities (and I suppose Ao and the Q) are by nature beyond imagining (like God), beyond time and space (like God) and their true forms can induce madness if seen by us mere mortals (like God). I'm not sure what other definition of "transcendent" you mean.

Quote
I don't know about you, but when you compare God to these three, then it's clear to me you and I don't agree on what "transcendent" is.  You can only imagine a transcendence comparable to what is around us, and you still paint a picture of a deity that is limited in His scope of rule, that exists in only an extra dimension of plane, or an infinite vast (of layers?) with powerful creatures.

No one is making stuff up when one thinks of a deity above all.  In fact, it's a concept that seems to unite not just Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but even some Hindus and Zoroastrians, and any derivatives of those religions.
It seems odd to me that you'd write off Ao, the Q, and the Cthuloid entities as fantastical and made-up but then in the next breath provide for us an example of a "real" religion that reveres a pot-bellied elephant-headed God who has broken off his own tusk as a sign of sacrifice.

Quote
The understand you give of anything "transcendant" is in reality part of all that exists, not above all that exists.  Anything that you can limit, even if you call that "transcendant" isn't so "transcendant."
If God is not in the realm of "all that exists," then doesn't that mean that God doesn't exist, by definition? I mean, I can agree with this definition and would stick square circles and Invisible Pink Unicorns in that realm too. 

The definitions of "transcendent" I'm familiar with are the ones I listed above in the first paragraph of this post rather than "above/beyond all that exists," and with good reason.

I'll address the faith issue later. I gotta start my day and don't wanna get too megapostey.
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« Reply #61 on: April 05, 2011, 02:29:26 PM »

Forgot to add this

Quote
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 vis a vis "The Grand Design." What you ridicule as a Star Trek idea has been put forward as the bulwark of atheistic proof.

I disagree with Dawkins about many things, and this is simply another one of them. The fact of the matter is, Dawkins isn't a particularly philosophical individual (he scoffs at the idea of philosophy in fact, unless it suits him like the works of Daniel Dennet). In most philosophical circles I don't see the "multiverse argument" brought up very often (usually it's meant to be a foil to the Fine Tuning Argument). This is largely because it's trying to "solve a mystery with a mystery," which is exactly what atheists find so intellectually hollow about proofs of God.

Granted the "multiverse argument" comes up occasionally, but most prefer the Strong/Weak anthropic principles. I'm not sure they hold water myself. I have other ways of dealing with the FTA.

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« Reply #62 on: April 05, 2011, 02:40:15 PM »

Quote
Personally I am glad that god doesn't exist - Christian ethics is based around making people feel guilty for being human - but I am aware that this is not a valid reason to become an atheist. My lack of belief is based on the lack of evidence for (and the unintelligibility of the concept of) god.

And yet you mention it.  Of course, if you're an atheist, and you steal from someone, you shouldn't feel guilty at all about that.  Because that would be the Christian thing to do.  Roll Eyes

I really have nothing else to say.  Now you're just being downright offensive and not engaging.  When you say things like "I'm glad God doesn't exist," then what's the point of even bothering talking to you about whether God exists or not.

You know what, open up your heart to Ao in the Q.  Pray to him and see what happens.  And then we can have a discussion on your prayer experiences.
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« Reply #63 on: April 06, 2011, 02:49:24 AM »

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.

Okay.  I leave you in God's hands. 
Try to do good in the world and try to be honest in all your dealings. 
God (whom you don't believe in, but I do) bless you.
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« Reply #64 on: April 07, 2011, 12:13:46 PM »

Greetings, OrthodoxChristianityianites!  I hail from the distant lands of SomethingAwful.com and have traveled far in search of gold and spices and a westward route to the Indies.  In trade I have brought amusing photoshops and amusingly captioned images of cats, as well as information.

In a recent thread regarding the webcasted debate between Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss and and Dr. William Lane Craig, a theological argument developed between one (apparently Christian) Alexander Nevermind and the rest of our forum goons.  After several abortive attempts on his part to make his own arguments, some of our number began to notice a pattern of schitzophrenic incoherence and doublespeak in his responses.  A little googling and time index analysis revealed that he had apparently decided to glue together some of our posts and import them here to your fine forums under the name of Dnarmist.  (The discussion starts here, plagiarism begins several posts down and continues for every single one of Alexander Nevermind's subsequent posts.)

http://i.imgur.com/PvKjW.gif

http://i.imgur.com/FfYuZ.gif

http://i.imgur.com/w15Iw.gif  (plagiarizing post)


His ultimage goal was, apparently, to import some of your replies to our forums with no concern for quality or cogency.

http://i.imgur.com/1787H.gif

http://i.imgur.com/pwkSv.gif

http://i.imgur.com/ryBbC.gif  (doubly plagiarizing post)



Additionally, another enterprising goon has also discovered that Alexander Nevermind keeps an additional sockpuppet account here, under the name of Aposphet.  Here is the relevant post made by our Wsobchak that discovered this additional instance of double-plagiarism.

Quote
Someone(apparently an atheist) on the orthodox forum posted this rant:
http://i53.tinypic.com/1dylbn.jpg

The same rant later appeared in Science, Academics and Philosophy, posted by Alexander Nevermind:
http://i53.tinypic.com/2f0evy1.jpg

A goon posted a rebuttal of the rant:
http://i52.tinypic.com/jgjyv8.jpg

Lo and behold, the same rebuttal, posted on orthodox forum:
http://i54.tinypic.com/xreko.jpg


One More Time, Baby.



With this in mind our moderator is exercising severe disciplinary action unless Alexander Nevermind makes certain restitutions.  We would recommend you do the same.  Beware: he is hidden among you wearing many faces!  However, it has been shown that he floats when dunked in water.  Please continue your investigation with this in mind.

Also, we have kidnapped your king and demand 100 stone in gold and chocolate each.  We have heard good things of such from our Spanish compatriots.
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« Reply #65 on: April 07, 2011, 12:20:24 PM »

The first thing I could think of was, "MY GOD, where do any of you get the TIME?!" 2 user names? For real? I can't access the SA forums without registering, I'll log on later perhaps.

I'm sure the mods will address it eventually....


Check for your gold in the mail, sir. Chocolate, absolutely not. It's the only thing I can enjoy right now, haha.
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« Reply #66 on: April 07, 2011, 12:22:41 PM »

Oh snap! The internet is serious business!
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« Reply #67 on: April 07, 2011, 12:50:05 PM »

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