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Author Topic: Anyone up for a "Prove God's Existence" debate?  (Read 1353 times) Average Rating: 0
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David
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« on: April 15, 2003, 05:02:32 PM »

I thought with the dying down at TBWSNBN(The Board Which Shall Not Be Named) some of you may be hungering for a debate.

As a film buff, I like to visit www.dvdtalk.com to discuss films.  In the Other(offtopic) forum, there is a thread where someone listed the five arguments for God's existence by Thomas Aquinas.  Since the majority of people there are very secular, the response has not been positive, most of whom saying that Aquinas knew nothing about how the world works and that none of these arguments are convincing.  Never being Catholic I am not very familiar with the writings of Aquinas, and I do not do well in debates where someone wants proof of the existence of God.  So I thought a few of you may like to enter the fray. Here is the thread in question:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=286223

Keep in mind that there are many atheists and agnostics here who don't feel that religion should be respected.  It's very much on the verge of casting pearls, but some of you may want to attempt enlightenment.
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Keble
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2003, 05:44:01 PM »

I've spent twenty years in the newsgroups arguing this point. You think they would concede defeat by now.  Grin Grin Grin

Actually, trying to defend the Thomist proofs isn't going to get very far in a world where nobody accepts Aristotlean epistemology.
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Seraphim Reeves
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2003, 02:25:59 PM »

I agree with Keble, that using Thomism is usually not a good approach.  I'm not saying the arguments of Thomas Aquinas are unworthy, simply that they require all sorts of assumptions to be taken for granted (and they are not taken for granted by most modern people.)

Modern westerners are an extremely cynical (not simply skeptical) and (perhaps most significantly) subjectivist bunch.  Thus, like it or not, some attempt has to be made at meeting people on their own turf.

Another important consideration, is to not have false expectations of what apologetics are supposed to do.  There is no such thing as a man convincing another man, intellectually, into becoming a Christian.  Conversion is always something ultimatly between God and the individual.  Apologetics should always be viewed as a means of breaking down obsticals which sin and the devil have devised to prevent people from opening their hearts.  I am convinced that even if a hard core atheist is not entirely convinced argumentatively, it is still possible for them to be transformed, simply by their opening their heart for a moment (then, with time, everything else will sort itself out.)

In short, apologetics should shake an atheist out of their smugness for long enough that they may consider humility, and allow Christ to step through the door of their heart; for He is the light which the darkness cannot overcome, and I have no doubt that if they let Him put a foot through the door, He will do things to and for them that we are simply not capable of (and it is arrogant for us to think otherwise.)

As for which arguments to take, I think a good starting point is to have an atheist/agnostic to try to come to some understanding of just who he is as a human being.  I'm particularly fond of Descartes arguments, which demonstrate quite clearly that we as individuals are not simply flesh robots, and if anything, the spiritual is far more immediate (and demonstrably real) than many of the things we take for granted.  In short, from a subjectivistic p.o.v., I can have far more certainty that I exist (and that this existance is not purely material) than I can have that anything I experience via the senses exists (which completely undermines materialist assumptions about the world and the nature of our existance.)

Another fruitful argument along the same vein, is the one put forward by the Anglican bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) who attacked materialism by undermining it's central dogma - the whole notion of their being actual material or physical objects.  This argument does not mean that we do not believe in creation - only that the certainty of it is far, far less, than certainty regarding our own existance as spiritual beings.

Both Descartes' and Berkeley's arguments are very strong, and the counter-arguments against them are very weak (and can easily be routed).

Once faith in materialism has been shaken, and the objective existance of the soul (at least that of the atheist himself) has been affirmed, then a whole world of new possibilities is open for the cynic.  Once again, arguments are not ends in themselves; but they can be important in shaking a secularist's confidence in the dogmas of his own godless faith (and there is most certainly a great deal of faith involved in materialist assumptions.)

Seraphim
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2003, 10:47:04 AM »

For the Western mind, I still think the best source is "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. :reading:

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Lavis Knight
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2003, 11:08:14 PM »

This is very interesting, i would think that it would be much easier to persuade one of God's existance then proving the Nature of that God, that i suppose can only be shown in a relationship.. as i could tell you all about a friend of mine and how he is but one would have no idea of how he really is until one met him..

I have not read any of the arguments.. nor am i sure how good they are, does anyone have any examples of good arguments for God's existance?
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If the best thing one can do is point out what they believe darkness be... then how will anyone find light?

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2003, 10:40:12 AM »

Lavis,

I've read existence of God info from everyone like Hans Kung and John Hick, to the most conservative fundamentalists you could imagine. I've yet to see a single proof (ie. evidence) that would, by themselves on a solely intellectual level, convince an atheist, or even an agnostic, of the existence of God. When God touches someone's heart, that is when arguments such as C.S. Lewis' moral argument have some benefit. As long as people insist on science, then there will never be a way of proving it. Science is too inadequate to prove the existence of God as science deals with the natural, while God is supernatural.

The biggest mistake, IMO, is when Christians try to meet Atheists/Agnostics on the "scientific" ground, as though it's possible to demonstrate God's existence in that manner. Don't get me wrong, it is perhaps possible to provide evidence using science, and so Christians should battle in this arena to a degree. However, such evidence would not be persuasive to anyone other than the person who had already had their heart touched by God, and were seeking God (not just asking about him). Basically, we shouldn't think that we can convict atheists and agnostics, that's God's job. And we should be careful about sticking around too long in such conversations, unless we are very holy.  My 2 cents..

Justin
« Last Edit: April 25, 2003, 10:41:01 AM by Paradosis » Logged
Lavis Knight
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2003, 11:02:04 AM »

I can understand, Science will be Agnostic on the existance of God, as it deals with natural repeatable, testable phenomena.. metaphysical causes cannot by seen by physical instruments like the eyes.. only their results can be seen..

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If the best thing one can do is point out what they believe darkness be... then how will anyone find light?

The strongest and purest statement of faith i have ever heard was simply: "I love you God"
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