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mez1
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« on: November 16, 2005, 02:31:07 AM »

I’ve spent some time on a skeptic board. I visited this site while I was still a so-called charismatic protestant ready to preach and teach the skeptics a thing or two. It turned out, that it was my faith that was tested, and I realized some of my arrogance and some of my ignorance. My opinions and world view have been altered here, and I have without knowing some of these people personally, developed a sort of friendship or mutual respect.

I don’t like labels very much, but I have thought that ‘agnosticism’ (with some measure of Christian tendencies and attraction) probably best fits me.

I realize that orthodoxy doesn’t support the idea that man can come to God by the unaided intellect, but what can we do and how far can we go? Where can objective, rational, or logical thinking take us? Must the faithful fear entering into dialog with such peoples? Are there any words capable of defending the faith to the shame and or correction of the skeptics and the faithless?

Sorry we don't post other discussion sites here.  SS99

Forgive me if I am out of place in speaking of these things and sharing my thoughts here. If corrected in this, I will not do it again.

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« Last Edit: November 16, 2005, 04:08:03 PM by SouthSerb99 » Logged
ozgeorge
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2005, 08:08:40 AM »

Where can objective, rational, or logical thinking take us? Must the faithful fear entering into dialog with such peoples? Are there any words capable of defending the faith to the shame and or correction of the skeptics and the faithless?

I have to wonder how anyone can be "objective, rational or logical" about metaphysical matters.
Orthodox Christianity begins with a Virgin who concieves and gives birth to a Man who is God......
Its not a matter of fearing dialogue with Atheists, Agnostics and skeptics, it's just that we don't "speak the same language".
The only way we can possibly know anything about God is if God reveals it to us; we cannot "deduce" anything about God (even though many non-Orthodox Christians try to). We cannot approach the metaphysical in the same way as we approach the empirical. For this reason, I think, dialogue is not possible between Orthodoxy and atheism.

If you ask me if there is a God, I'll tell you to look at a sunset, play with your dog or cat, look at a leaf, observe a spider spin it's web, attempt to count the stars, fall in love, eat a mango, watch a cloud form and float by, examine the mandelbrot set and then tell me if you are still sure that there isn't a God.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2005, 08:09:13 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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icxn
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2005, 10:51:32 AM »

... We cannot approach the metaphysical in the same way as we approach the empirical...
Though not in the same way still we can in a similar way:

See Instruments, Observation, Concepts, and Language by Fr. John S. Romanides

Of course most Atheists are such not because it is impossible to know God, but because they don't want that there is a God and therefore are free to do whatever they want. Also the experiment is not an easy one to perform: believe->be baptized->struggle (prayer, fasting, charity, etc)->vision of God.

icxn
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2005, 10:56:53 AM »

I found some interesting essays by a professor of geology the other day.  From his writing he seems to be a Christian, though I haven't found any exact data.  Here are some of the ones on religion:

The Dumbest Statements About Religion
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/10DumRel.htm

Why Intellectuals Don't Take Religious Believers Seriously
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/WhyIntNoRB.HTM

Why Religious Believers Don't Take Intellectuals Seriously
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/WhyRBNoInt.HTM

Ebor
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mez1
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2005, 09:02:39 PM »

Quote
  If you ask me if there is a God, I'll tell you to look at a sunset, play with your dog or cat, look at a leaf, observe a spider spin it's web, attempt to count the stars, fall in love, eat a mango, watch a cloud form and float by, examine the mandelbrot set and then tell me if you are still sure that there isn't a God. 

Yes all these things are truly amazing and I can see the position of a Deist resting on such examination of the world and the visible universe, but the God of the Deist is still impersonal.
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2005, 09:36:27 PM »

What about the hundreds of accounts of miracles in the Church (not to mention OUTSIDE the Church, but let's save that for another thread)?  These cannot be ruled out a priori (as many of our "enlightened" atheists/agnostics do/have done).
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2005, 10:12:22 PM »

The Dumbest Statements About Religion
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/10DumRel.htm

Good article (I like this guy already)... of course, I didn't read the other two, so maybe it's just a passing fad for me.
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mez1
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2005, 12:16:46 AM »

Quote
What about the hundreds of accounts of miracles in the Church (not to mention OUTSIDE the Church, but let's save that for another thread)?  These cannot be ruled out a priori (as many of our "enlightened" atheists/agnostics do/have done).

Miracles in the Church or out (is there such a thing as canonical miracles), we read about them in books, stories are told and passed on to the next generation and still I’m left to ponder what of these things are real and what is embellishment? Even if I were to accept the possibility of supernatural events (i do), or to think of moments like the birth of my children as being miraculous (i do)…where can this lead and what can it teach me specifically?

An atheist when confronted by certain evangelistic endeavors or reports of supernatural occurrence might say something like “your claim is extraordinary and the burden of proof is on the person or persons making the extraordinary claim”

What is wrong with taking such a position in a world where everybody has a fantastic story to tell?
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mez1
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2005, 01:04:48 AM »

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The Dumbest Statements About Religion
http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/10DumRel.htm
For the first one who had the dumbest statement, Blaise Pascal and his so-called wager, or his critic? Neither makes any sense to me.
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2005, 06:05:59 AM »

For the first one who had the dumbest statement, Blaise Pascal and his so-called wager, or his critic? Neither makes any sense to me.

I think he's claiming that the arguments against Paschal's wager are dumb, and he attempts to demonstrate why they are.  His premise is this: that one argument against Paschal's wager (which was used as a support to Christianity) is that IF the speaker (whatever kind of skeptic s/he is) were in fact God him/herself, then they would take delight in condemning someone who believed in them only because of the wager.

He responds to this attack of the wager by stating that, ahem, since you're not God, nor will you be in the near future, no one cares what you would do!
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2005, 08:28:14 AM »

“your claim is extraordinary and the burden of proof is on the person or persons making the extraordinary claim”

What is wrong with taking such a position in a world where everybody has a fantastic story to tell?


What exactly is "extraordinary"? And what exactly is "fantastic"?  To decide prima facie that "miracles", whatever they may be, are "extraordinary" or "fantastic" is an a priori decision, made from an already biased philosophical standpoint.  I could, with equal arbitrariness, decide that a universe without miracles is "extraordinary" or "fantastic".  Indeed, every event in the universe is a direct expression of God's immanence, sustained by His will....so there's no need to imagine that "miracles" are some sort of violation on an ordained "order".  I do not have the time to go into every miracle reported by the Church.  Perhaps a perusal of the book "Father Arseny" would suffice.  But to deny, out of hand, the validity of every miracle story is undeniably founded upon a pre-established philosophical bias, ....which first must be proven.
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mez1
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2005, 12:44:09 AM »

Merriam Webster defines “extraordinary” in part as going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary, but I fail to see how the arbitrariness by which these things are measured equates, for the atheist or skeptic, to a pre-established denial of every miracle story.

I can’t speak for all atheists, but I would imagine that their philosophical position is not always biased to pre-denial but rather some attempt to be neutral and willing to be persuaded one way or the other by objective evidences.
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mez1
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2005, 12:57:41 AM »

Quote
I think he's claiming that the arguments against Paschal's wager are dumb 
Yes I can see this much, however and obviously I cannot say for sure, but I would venture to say that the wager in and of itself is also quite unorthodox.
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mez1
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2005, 01:26:15 AM »

I would just like to say thanks for the John S. Romanides link that was provided.
There is a lot of information there, most of which is completely above my head…but a good source for learning I think.
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2005, 06:41:56 PM »

Sorry I took a while to respond to your post, but I was not able to get in here for a while due to "cookie" problems," whatever that is. 

Did you ever read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity?  I would imagine as a former charismatic you have read it.  I read it a long time ago and I seem to recall that the first part of the book was Lewis' argument on why there is a God.  It was an intellectual argument, which made him go from atheism to Christianity.  Unfortunately, I gave away my copy some time ago, so I can't quote from it.

If you have read this book before, you may want to read it again.  If you haven't read it, you really should.

I'm still praying for you.
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