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Author Topic: Atheist Penelope  (Read 155930 times)

Surgoshan

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #50 on: 19 Dec 2008, 15:01 »

No serious theologian, perhaps, but the average theist?  They very often rely on that argument.  "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" really gets thrown around far too much.
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Jackie Blue

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #51 on: 19 Dec 2008, 15:14 »

And here is where we get to the part of this endless discussion that stops everyone from learning anything: When people start saying "Oh, well, I'm talking about the average religious person".  It's anecdotal, it's ultimately meaningless, and it's hard as shit to talk about because do you mean the "average" Buddhist, or the "average" Christian, or the "average" Discordian, or the "average" Deist, or...?

Why must atheist-religious talk invariably focus on the anthropomorphised version of the Judeo-Christian God, a focus that ignores centuries of mainstream Judeo-Christian theology that refutes the concept of God-as-big-dude-in-the-sky?
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Dotes

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #52 on: 19 Dec 2008, 16:09 »

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Why must atheist-religious talk invariably focus on the anthropomorphised version of the Judeo-Christian God, a focus that ignores centuries of mainstream Judeo-Christian theology that refutes the concept of God-as-big-dude-in-the-sky?

Because then it's not the Judeo-Christian God, but rather a God that mainstream Judeo-Christians have created for themselves? The God of the bible is the big-dude in the sky. End-o-story. Of course, the average Christian in the U.S. barely reads the bible. But, I suppose I should admit, that I may have been a little rash in my defense of Penelope and her ilk, because whether I like it or not, they certainly exist. There are certainly pig-headed atheists as well as theists. Not sure about deists. Eh. I'm tired of discussing religion. It's too much work.  :laugh:
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pwhodges

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #53 on: 19 Dec 2008, 16:21 »

Why must atheist-religious talk invariably focus on the anthropomorphised version of the Judeo-Christian God

Does it? I hadn't really noticed, because I don't find it makes much difference to the arguments anyway.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #54 on: 19 Dec 2008, 17:01 »

The God of the bible is the big-dude in the sky. End-o-story.

Er, no.  The God of the Old Testament is presented as such, but not all theologians take the Bible literally.  God-as-dude is never mentioned in the New Testament, unless you count Jesus, but he was an anarchist and a political criminal who was assassinated for going against the established order more than he was a "God".  A lot of mainstream Christian theologians contend that Jesus' assertion boiled down to "I am God, you are God, we are all God"; in other words, that God is not an entity, but a part of the human experience.  To quote the Stone Roses who were paraphrasing people who explore that line of thought: "The Kingdom's all inside".

Of course, they were talking about taking LSD, but I know plenty of people who have seen God while on that drug (and just as many who lost him on it, too).
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Dotes

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #55 on: 19 Dec 2008, 19:14 »

But the problem about defining God so broadly is that he ceases to fit the definition of a "God." If God is just a part of the human experience (imagination?), then what, pray tell, are Christians worshiping? Why do they pray? Why do they continue to speak about him like a personal friend of theirs? Why do they keep telling me he loves me and wants me to go to heaven?

I really just don't get it. That's my biggest problem with the theist argument. It always ends up running around in a circle.

(Every time I try to walk away, they pull - me - back - IN!)

Edit: Ugh. I can't help myself. I shouldn't get into this discussion, but it's all anyone seems to want to do, so should I feel guilty? I dunno.
« Last Edit: 19 Dec 2008, 19:20 by Dotes »
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #56 on: 19 Dec 2008, 23:19 »

Science does not refute the idea of god. It doesn't attempt to. It doesn't want to. It just attempts to explain our world. That is it.

The idea of god is NOT irrational because of scientific evidence. Science has offered absolutely no evidence that suggests a god doesn't exist.

It's offered no evidence that the Christian God doesn't exist.

Do not assume that you are a more rational person because you are an atheist. Do not assume that rationality holds no sway in deist/theists/Christian/Jew/whatever's life.

The god that most people believe in is an overwhelmingly interventionist god.  It interacts with the universe on a minute-to-minute basis, altering things for the benefit of its believers.  It helps football players score touchdowns, it alters traffic to get believers to work on time, it opens up parking spaces, it heals the sick, it watches out for children, etc.

Anything that interacts with the world must be observable due to the fact that it's interacting with things we can observe.  Time and time again, there has been a complete lack of observation.

Try this analogy.


Anna and Kate are walking down the street when they come to an empty lot. 

"Look at that beautiful garden!" cries Anna, "It must be tended by a particularly skillful gardener!"

"What are you talking about?  It's an empty lot full of weeds!  It couldn't possibly be tended by a gardener." is Kate's reply.

"He must tend it to grow that way."

"I have never once seen a gardener there."

"You must have simply missed him.  He must come only at night, when you don't walk by here."

So Anna and Kate decide to watch the garden.  They keep watch for days, and don't spot a gardener.

Kate shrugs and says, "I guess there's no gardener."

"He must be invisible."

"... invisible?"

"Yes, that's why we couldn't see him."

So Anna and Kate build a fence.  When Anna suggests he might be able to fly, they put a net over the fence.  When Anna suggests he might be very small, they put a solid dome over the entire plot.  Then Anna suggests he might be intangible.  Kate gets fed up.

"You've got an invisible, intangible, flying gardener whose garden looks exactly like there isn't a gardener.  What's the difference between that and a gardener who doesn't exist?"



In strict, deductive logic, absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.  But in life we mostly deal with inductive logic.  Thousands of years of observation have completely failed to turn up evidence of the invisible gardener.  Absence of evidence, when one would expect evidence, is evidence of absence.  There is no gardener.

Who says that god is necessarily interventionist?

Also, typically the idea of god happens to be an idea of omnipotence. If that really is the case, then god could do whatever he pleases in any manner he pleases. Why attach human reasoning and logic to something that is inherently separated from human reasoning and logic? If anything, that's illogical.

Science has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of god. It has offered no evidence of his existence or non-existence. To say that someone is illogical or irrational for believing in a higher power/being/god is just wrong.
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #57 on: 19 Dec 2008, 23:21 »

So the idea of fairies is not irrational; Russell's teapot is fine; and there's a pig flying behind that cloud?  Oh, and there's this other world that science does not attempt to explain...

We've been there (in the Discuss forum).  Simply saying that something can't be disproved doesn't make it true, nor does it even provide a basis for believing in it.

I didn't say it makes it true. I simply said that a belief in god/gods/whatever is not irrational or illogical.

And why must belief be based on fact? I believe my fiancee won't cheat on me. There are no facts to support this. Only interpretations and assumptions that I make. Does that make me an illogical and irrational person?
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tragic_pizza

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #58 on: 19 Dec 2008, 23:29 »

Q: "Is there evidence that God exists?"

A: "Do you want to believe that God exists?"
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Spluff

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #59 on: 20 Dec 2008, 00:50 »

In strict, deductive logic, absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.  But in life we mostly deal with inductive logic.  Thousands of years of observation have completely failed to turn up evidence of the invisible gardener.  Absence of evidence, when one would expect evidence, is evidence of absence.  There is no gardener.

There are thousands of things science cannot explain, constant reports of unexplained phenomena, events occurring that were so unlikely that people didn't even acknowledge the possibility of them even happening. The whole bible was written about proofs of God.

Are these proofs fictional, the events co-incidences, and the phenomena imagined? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Some choose not to believe that just because modern science can't explain it, it can't have ever happened, and instead take these things as proof of God.

You cannot possibly attempt to examine the possibility of God if you do not even attempt to accept the opposing sides arguments, and just dismiss anything that contradicts your beliefs as 'untrue'.
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pwhodges

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #60 on: 20 Dec 2008, 01:16 »

I'm sorry, but the fact that there are reports of events which may not have been properly observed or reported, and which have not been or cannot now be investigated properly to find the explanation, simply has nothing to do with the possibility of the existence of God.
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Jeff7

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #61 on: 20 Dec 2008, 02:14 »

I didn't say it makes it true. I simply said that a belief in god/gods/whatever is not irrational or illogical.

And why must belief be based on fact? I believe my fiancee won't cheat on me. There are no facts to support this. Only interpretations and assumptions that I make. Does that make me an illogical and irrational person?
Do you not have evidence that your fiancee will not cheat on you? Evidence deduced from her behavior and signs of affection towards you?

People say that there's no way to prove that love exists. Well I don't know what kind of "proof" is sought by this, if you want an indicator light on a person's head that says "IN LOVE" when that condition is true. But there sure can be a lot of evidence, most notably the person's behavior, and how well it matches a predefined set of ideas about what constitutes the condition of "love." If you want to go further, measure various responses, such as skin resistance, perspiration rate, pupil dilation, and brain activity.

One other thing which science seeks to do is to have the ability to make predictions based on observations. I can reasonably predict where Earth will be in its orbit around the Sun 1000 years from now. If I throw something at a certain angle and velocity, I can reasonably predict where and when it will land.
No one can predict what "God" is going to do in 500 years. No one seems to really know what God wants at any point in time. Sure lots of people claim to know what God wants; none of them can seem to agree though. People can't even seem to agree on which deity to listen to. And if you've got someone saying he's hearing God talk to him, he gets stashed away in an asylum because he's deemed insane. People can't agree on whether or not to take the Bible literally or not; some say all, some say none, some pick and choose.


There are thousands of things science cannot explain, constant reports of unexplained phenomena, events occurring that were so unlikely that people didn't even acknowledge the possibility of them even happening. The whole bible was written about proofs of God.

Are these proofs fictional, the events co-incidences, and the phenomena imagined? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Some choose not to believe that just because modern science can't explain it, it can't have ever happened, and instead take these things as proof of God.

You cannot possibly attempt to examine the possibility of God if you do not even attempt to accept the opposing sides arguments, and just dismiss anything that contradicts your beliefs as 'untrue'.
At one point in time, science could not explain what the Sun was. They thought a god named Ra carried it across the sky. Lightning was once hurled to Earth by Zeus. Not so. Spirits of the Earth made it rain. Nope, the air reaches saturation due to pressure or temperature changes, and the water precipitates out. Illness was caused by "bad blood," and not microscopic pathogens, genetic anomalies, or malnutrition.
The Egyptian gods, the Greek/Roman gods, and the Native American gods and spirits are now considered "mythology" - not real. Why? Why are they any less valid than the big religions of today?
What other unexplained things will eventually find themselves out of God's jurisdiction? Why must some deity always be around to mop up the scraps things we can't explain yet? Isn't "We don't know yet" a good enough answer? Why do electrons act like both particles and waves? Is the Particle Spirit at war with the Wave Spirit, and so the electron behaves as both? I rather doubt it.



"We accepted the products of science, but we rejected its methods." - Carl Sagan
God hasn't brought us our technology, our medical research, or our libraries. We did it. Humans did it. How is information obtained? Through the scientific method. Why accept it one place without question, yet reject it entirely elsewhere? What makes it suddenly invalid when it attempts to explain our origins?
« Last Edit: 20 Dec 2008, 02:21 by Jeff7 »
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Surgoshan

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #62 on: 20 Dec 2008, 03:08 »

The God of the bible is the big-dude in the sky. End-o-story.

Er, no.  The God of the Old Testament is presented as such, but not all theologians take the Bible literally.

Again, we must point you not to the vanishingly small minority of people who are religious philosophers, but to the overwhelming majority of people who are not.  They may not have a clear conception of god as "dude in sky with beard", but there's not much difference between that and what they do believe.  Theirs is an interventionist god who manipulates events and people to his own ends and, for many of them, is an angry god who is quite full of hate for a large number of people.

Who says that god is necessarily interventionist?

Most believers.  Virtually all of them.  Basically, anyone who believes in God and calls him such.  The interventions are called "miracles" and are believed to happen on a daily, nay, hourly basis.

Quote
Also, typically the idea of god happens to be an idea of omnipotence. If that really is the case, then god could do whatever he pleases in any manner he pleases. Why attach human reasoning and logic to something that is inherently separated from human reasoning and logic? If anything, that's illogical.
So... "because".  "Because" has become the ultimate in refutation.  Why?  Because. 

As Superman has become overpowered and omnipotent over the years, most people have realized that it's led to absurdity and poor writing.  But when you change "superman" to "god", all of a sudden it's no longer absurd, it's "faith".

Quote
Science has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of god. It has offered no evidence of his existence or non-existence. To say that someone is illogical or irrational for believing in a higher power/being/god is just wrong.

Why?  Why can science say nothing about the existence or non-existence of a thing?  Religion posits that there exists an incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon that changes the world around us.  Science is all about the observation of things and events.  The larger and more powerful the thing or event, the easier it is to observe.  Far from being impossible to see, an all-powerful, all-manipulative god should be the easiest thing ever to spot.

And yet, no one has.  The best anyone comes up with is a feeling.  That ain't evidence.  And, yes, lack of evidence for something for which there should be overwhelming evidence, is evidence of the absence of the thing.

And believing in something in spite of evidence against it is irrational.

There are thousands of things science cannot explain, constant reports of unexplained phenomena, events occurring that were so unlikely that people didn't even acknowledge the possibility of them even happening.

Stuff and nonsense.  There are thousands of things which science either has not yet fully explained (gravity) or which science has explained, but which the faithful choose to ignore (alien kidnappings, spontaneous combustion, mythical ape-men).

Quote
The whole bible was written about proofs of God.

Are these proofs fictional, the events co-incidences, and the phenomena imagined? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Some choose not to believe that just because modern science can't explain it, it can't have ever happened, and instead take these things as proof of God.

You cannot possibly attempt to examine the possibility of God if you do not even attempt to accept the opposing sides arguments, and just dismiss anything that contradicts your beliefs as 'untrue'.

The bible isn't about proofs of god.  It's a collection of, in the case of the old testament, the myths and causi belli of bronze age shepherds.  In the case of the new testament it's the myths and causi belli of medieval farmers.  It's no more a proof of anything than when a child believes there are ghosts in the attic.  It's a faulty explanation of something the expositor was ill-equipped to comprehend. 

I'm not dismissing what contradicts my beliefs.  I'm dismissing what contradicts evidence.  I dismiss god as firmly as I dismiss ghosts, fairies, spontaneous combustion, and alien abductions.  The evidence is overwhelmingly against them and belief in them is, at best, delusional.
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Spluff

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #63 on: 20 Dec 2008, 04:34 »

I'm sorry, but the fact that there are reports of events which may not have been properly observed or reported, and which have not been or cannot now be investigated properly to find the explanation, simply has nothing to do with the possibility of the existence of God.

How exactly would you like a God to affect our world? Would you like him to appear in the sky in the form of a giant, glowing head a la Monty Python? I'm sure that would make these type of debates a lot easier for everybody, but it is highly unlikely.

I put to you all that because God, if he exists, has existed from the start of the universe, or at the very least, since before the human race evolved, we have grown up with his influence, and are accustomed to it. The touch of god, would, therefore not be something we take special notice of  - it would probably be something that is just part of life. If you stand around waiting for something out of the ordinary to prove God, then you will never find something, because he has been intervening ,with regularity, in the affairs of the universe since before our race developed, by very definition it is ordinary - something we take for granted, such as two people happening to meet in the same place, or something that escapes our notice completely, such as how particles interact with each other.

The fact that science can show us how most of the things we have come into contact with work (or so we assume, science is constantly being revised and what we currently believe may be completely different to what we believe 1000 years into the future) is beside the point. There is no reason God, if he exists, cannot be factored into science. If his influence is constant then we will have, no doubt, made scientific laws that include his influence in them.
« Last Edit: 20 Dec 2008, 04:56 by Spluff »
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #64 on: 20 Dec 2008, 04:48 »

The God of the bible is the big-dude in the sky. End-o-story.

Er, no.  The God of the Old Testament is presented as such, but not all theologians take the Bible literally.

Again, we must point you not to the vanishingly small minority of people who are religious philosophers, but to the overwhelming majority of people who are not.  They may not have a clear conception of god as "dude in sky with beard", but there's not much difference between that and what they do believe.  Theirs is an interventionist god who manipulates events and people to his own ends and, for many of them, is an angry god who is quite full of hate for a large number of people.

Who says that god is necessarily interventionist?

Most believers.  Virtually all of them.  Basically, anyone who believes in God and calls him such.  The interventions are called "miracles" and are believed to happen on a daily, nay, hourly basis.

Quote
Also, typically the idea of god happens to be an idea of omnipotence. If that really is the case, then god could do whatever he pleases in any manner he pleases. Why attach human reasoning and logic to something that is inherently separated from human reasoning and logic? If anything, that's illogical.
So... "because".  "Because" has become the ultimate in refutation.  Why?  Because. 

As Superman has become overpowered and omnipotent over the years, most people have realized that it's led to absurdity and poor writing.  But when you change "superman" to "god", all of a sudden it's no longer absurd, it's "faith".

Quote
Science has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of god. It has offered no evidence of his existence or non-existence. To say that someone is illogical or irrational for believing in a higher power/being/god is just wrong.

Why?  Why can science say nothing about the existence or non-existence of a thing?  Religion posits that there exists an incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon that changes the world around us.  Science is all about the observation of things and events.  The larger and more powerful the thing or event, the easier it is to observe.  Far from being impossible to see, an all-powerful, all-manipulative god should be the easiest thing ever to spot.

And yet, no one has.  The best anyone comes up with is a feeling.  That ain't evidence.  And, yes, lack of evidence for something for which there should be overwhelming evidence, is evidence of the absence of the thing.

And believing in something in spite of evidence against it is irrational.

There are thousands of things science cannot explain, constant reports of unexplained phenomena, events occurring that were so unlikely that people didn't even acknowledge the possibility of them even happening.

Stuff and nonsense.  There are thousands of things which science either has not yet fully explained (gravity) or which science has explained, but which the faithful choose to ignore (alien kidnappings, spontaneous combustion, mythical ape-men).

Quote
The whole bible was written about proofs of God.

Are these proofs fictional, the events co-incidences, and the phenomena imagined? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Some choose not to believe that just because modern science can't explain it, it can't have ever happened, and instead take these things as proof of God.

You cannot possibly attempt to examine the possibility of God if you do not even attempt to accept the opposing sides arguments, and just dismiss anything that contradicts your beliefs as 'untrue'.

The bible isn't about proofs of god.  It's a collection of, in the case of the old testament, the myths and causi belli of bronze age shepherds.  In the case of the new testament it's the myths and causi belli of medieval farmers.  It's no more a proof of anything than when a child believes there are ghosts in the attic.  It's a faulty explanation of something the expositor was ill-equipped to comprehend. 

I'm not dismissing what contradicts my beliefs.  I'm dismissing what contradicts evidence.  I dismiss god as firmly as I dismiss ghosts, fairies, spontaneous combustion, and alien abductions.  The evidence is overwhelmingly against them and belief in them is, at best, delusional.

It amuses me that you neglect the mass amount of people that completely disagree with the idea of a god that performs miracles on an hourly, daily, or even regular basis. Or should I assume that you suddenly know how every person thinks?

And belittling my argument by saying "Because..." is all it boils down to. Good way to attack me I suppose, but it does little to actually address the argument. So again,why we should attach human reasoning and logic to something that is inherently separated from our perceptions of the world and reality? You never did bother to answer this.

As for science not being able to explain the existence or non-existence of an omnipotent being...well, that should be pretty well addressed by the above. Or, you know, simple thought. As for the bit about all religion seeing god as a"n incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon that changes the world around us". I refer you to my first point. The one about you apparently tossing aside the vast amount of people(even Christians *gasp*) who don't see a god in that light at all.
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pwhodges

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #65 on: 20 Dec 2008, 10:36 »

How exactly would you like a God to affect our world?

I am content that science is taking our understanding of the world in the right direction.  When we find that there is something that needs to be explained for which the appropriate explanation would be God, then we can study that and come to a suitable conclusion.

Where we differ is in whether we think there is something of that nature now.  There is a clear division between those who think that "mind" is something that cannot be explained physically, and those who think it can even if we don't yet know enough to derive that explanation.  The first group have a space into which the idea of God can be plugged, and the second do not.  Since the two groups differ by a yes/no difference in a single matter, they can never come to any compromise or agreement except in individual cases where someone changes their mind.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #66 on: 20 Dec 2008, 16:03 »

Whilst I agree, it is probably also appropriate to point out that I am (if anything) an atheist. I just think it is pertinent to consider both sides of the argument.
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Jeff7

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #67 on: 20 Dec 2008, 17:18 »

Who says that god is necessarily interventionist?
....
Anyone who prays.


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Surgoshan

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #68 on: 20 Dec 2008, 22:23 »

It amuses me that you neglect the mass amount of people that completely disagree with the idea of a god that performs miracles on an hourly, daily, or even regular basis. Or should I assume that you suddenly know how every person thinks?

And belittling my argument by saying "Because..." is all it boils down to. Good way to attack me I suppose, but it does little to actually address the argument. So again,why we should attach human reasoning and logic to something that is inherently separated from our perceptions of the world and reality? You never did bother to answer this.

As for science not being able to explain the existence or non-existence of an omnipotent being...well, that should be pretty well addressed by the above. Or, you know, simple thought. As for the bit about all religion seeing god as a"n incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon that changes the world around us". I refer you to my first point. The one about you apparently tossing aside the vast amount of people(even Christians *gasp*) who don't see a god in that light at all.

Even those faiths that don't believe in an interventionist god believe in a supernatural order.  Buddhism has its reincarnation, and also its demons, spirits, and deities.  Shintoism has its animist spirits.  The vast majority of the world believes that there is something or some things other that influence and alter the world daily.

And I belittled your reply as "because", because that's what it is.  The common reply (espoused unfortunately by far too many scientists) is that science cannot comment on god because god is somehow beyond the ken of science.  When asked why, any who espouse the belief reply, "Because god is not something science can study."  That is to say...

Q:  Why can science not study god?
A:  Because science can't study god.

The answer may be more sophisticated (saying that god is somehow outside the universe or indelibly part of the fabric of the universe), but the answer always boils down to a stubborn "Because".  Because if there's a supernatural being of any sort (omnipotent Christian deity, spirit of a Japanese home, or German kobold), then that being is still interacting with the world and those interactions must necessarily be detectable.  Because science is the practice of making observations, cataloging them, and drawing inferences from the catalog, the effects of a supernatural being are within the bounds of science.  Therefor, however indirectly, the being itself is subject to the scrutiny of the scientist.

Medieval barber-surgeons may not have been able to observe a bone mending, yet they nevertheless knew how to properly set it so that it might heal.  And they also recognized when it was too badly broken and only amputation could prevent a deadly infection, even when they didn't know what the true cause of the infection was. 

The only remaining argument is that, interact though it may with the world, the supernatural is still somehow, ineffably different.  Why?  Because.


And as for your vast number of supposed semi-deists... look to the analogy of the gardener.  What's the difference between an undetectable completely inactive being and one that doesn't exist? 
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Dotes

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #69 on: 20 Dec 2008, 22:44 »

You know, the funny thing about the "that's not my God" argument, or the argument that many people believe in a God who isn't an "incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon," is that it seems like, as time goes on and science progresses, "God" keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Hopefully, some day he'll get so small that people realize we don't need him anymore.

I also never understood the argument that God is undefinable and beyond the scope of science, yet so many people tell you he's real. Whether religious believers like it or not, the statement that there is a supernatural being that created the universe and may or may not be omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and interventionist is a scientific hypothesis. It just happens to be one that fails on a number of levels. Falsifiability, logic, evidence, there are just so many reasons to be skeptical, it baffles me sometimes how certain people are of their beliefs.

Edit: Surgoshan makes excellent points as well.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #70 on: 20 Dec 2008, 23:22 »

Shirley Guthrie: "We live life inside the brackets."
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #71 on: 21 Dec 2008, 02:09 »

It amuses me that you neglect the mass amount of people that completely disagree with the idea of a god that performs miracles on an hourly, daily, or even regular basis. Or should I assume that you suddenly know how every person thinks?

And belittling my argument by saying "Because..." is all it boils down to. Good way to attack me I suppose, but it does little to actually address the argument. So again,why we should attach human reasoning and logic to something that is inherently separated from our perceptions of the world and reality? You never did bother to answer this.

As for science not being able to explain the existence or non-existence of an omnipotent being...well, that should be pretty well addressed by the above. Or, you know, simple thought. As for the bit about all religion seeing god as a"n incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon that changes the world around us". I refer you to my first point. The one about you apparently tossing aside the vast amount of people(even Christians *gasp*) who don't see a god in that light at all.

Even those faiths that don't believe in an interventionist god believe in a supernatural order.  Buddhism has its reincarnation, and also its demons, spirits, and deities.  Shintoism has its animist spirits.  The vast majority of the world believes that there is something or some things other that influence and alter the world daily.

And I belittled your reply as "because", because that's what it is.  The common reply (espoused unfortunately by far too many scientists) is that science cannot comment on god because god is somehow beyond the ken of science.  When asked why, any who espouse the belief reply, "Because god is not something science can study."  That is to say...

Q:  Why can science not study god?
A:  Because science can't study god.

The answer may be more sophisticated (saying that god is somehow outside the universe or indelibly part of the fabric of the universe), but the answer always boils down to a stubborn "Because".  Because if there's a supernatural being of any sort (omnipotent Christian deity, spirit of a Japanese home, or German kobold), then that being is still interacting with the world and those interactions must necessarily be detectable.  Because science is the practice of making observations, cataloging them, and drawing inferences from the catalog, the effects of a supernatural being are within the bounds of science.  Therefor, however indirectly, the being itself is subject to the scrutiny of the scientist.

Medieval barber-surgeons may not have been able to observe a bone mending, yet they nevertheless knew how to properly set it so that it might heal.  And they also recognized when it was too badly broken and only amputation could prevent a deadly infection, even when they didn't know what the true cause of the infection was. 

The only remaining argument is that, interact though it may with the world, the supernatural is still somehow, ineffably different.  Why?  Because.


And as for your vast number of supposed semi-deists... look to the analogy of the gardener.  What's the difference between an undetectable completely inactive being and one that doesn't exist? 

You don't seem to understand the concept of omnipotence. Even tossing aside an all-powerful being, the argument doesn't boil down to "because". Let me help. If a being is able to operate outside our concept of physics, time, and space...why are you so certain we could detect something that they did? See, it doesn't boil down to "because". It actually boils down to the spiritual being, well, spiritual. The very nature of the spiritual means that they operate on some plane that isn't necessarily tied down by our conceptions of reality. As science operates only in that reality, it would be reasonable to assume that science would have trouble observing the spiritual.

Now, sure, you could just say, "That's not fair! It's basically a get out of jail free card for anyone that believes in that stuff!" but that's no fun, is it?

As for the bit on praying, I think I misrepresented myself. I should clarify that I was responding to Surgoshan's assertion that basically everyone believes god interacts with the world on an hourly basis. Obviously, if a god does anything to affect our world then he would be deemed an interventionist, I was merely challenging the assertion that a god is necessarily as interventionist as Surgoshan suggested.
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #72 on: 21 Dec 2008, 02:15 »

You know, the funny thing about the "that's not my God" argument, or the argument that many people believe in a God who isn't an "incredibly large, potent, weighty phenomenon," is that it seems like, as time goes on and science progresses, "God" keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Hopefully, some day he'll get so small that people realize we don't need him anymore.

I also never understood the argument that God is undefinable and beyond the scope of science, yet so many people tell you he's real. Whether religious believers like it or not, the statement that there is a supernatural being that created the universe and may or may not be omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and interventionist is a scientific hypothesis. It just happens to be one that fails on a number of levels. Falsifiability, logic, evidence, there are just so many reasons to be skeptical, it baffles me sometimes how certain people are of their beliefs.

Edit: Surgoshan makes excellent points as well.

What makes you think people didn't reject the idea of god meddling in our fairs on an "hourly basis" 1000 years ago? And no...the idea that there might be a god isn't a scientific hypothesis. Science is the study of the physical world. It has little to do with something based entirely outside of the physical. Perhaps that's the reason many don't feel a need to find physical evidence of a higher power?
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #73 on: 21 Dec 2008, 06:05 »

Quote from: Saints
It actually boils down to the spiritual being, well, spiritual.

*cough*

Quote from: Surgoshan
The only remaining argument is that ... the supernatural is still, somehow, ineffably different.  Why?  Because.

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #74 on: 21 Dec 2008, 11:50 »

First: There is no such thing as "supernatural".  It's a buzzword to ghetto-ise a bunch of different potential sciences involving things we don't yet have an explanation for.

Remember what a famous atheist said?  "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

"God", as state-of-being, part-of-human-consciousness, "The Kingdom's all inside", etc., could not be observable by traditional science yet for the same reasons that electrons at one point were not known about or detectable.

It doesn't necessarily boil down to "the big Because".

Pratchett, in Hogfather, put it very well:

Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?

Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

Susan: So we can believe the big ones?

Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.

Susan: They're not the same at all.

Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.

Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what's the point?

Death: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?
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jtheory

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #75 on: 21 Dec 2008, 16:33 »

What makes you think people didn't reject the idea of god meddling in our affairs on an "hourly basis" 1000 years ago? And no...the idea that there might be a god isn't a scientific hypothesis. Science is the study of the physical world. It has little to do with something based entirely outside of the physical. Perhaps that's the reason many don't feel a need to find physical evidence of a higher power?

This has been said already, but the God that most people perform rituals to worship, pray to, curse and fear, is very obviously interventionist, or all of these actions would have no point.  Anyone who says "please God, let me pass this test" believes that God intervenes, that God is actively listening to the plea, and that God might *change* his mind after listening to human prayer and thoughtfully considering, however much that contradicts the "omniscient" concept.  (Variation: God had already decided, but he also already knew in advance whether you would pray or not).

I think it's important to focus these kinds of discussion on what actual people believe (you should discuss primarily what you personally believe to be true, for example, since that's what you've found most convincing -- and argue against what other profess directly, since that's what they can defend), because gesturing to "theologians" or "some people" gets murky very quickly (particularly when those people's definition of "God" varies hugely from the actual meaning under discussion).

@Jackie Blue, on Death's point: this is "reification", I think.
But there's a huge difference between doing it consciously and either doing it out of ignorance or abusing the ignorance of others to manipulate them.  We can hardly use language without reification -- our language is built up fuzzy concepts which we pretend are concrete -- but we need to be aware of that, and not be suckered in by fallacies that rely on ignorance of the nature of language.  Language should (and can) be used as a tool for communication -- not a foundation for belief -- and word definitions/boundaries/connotations should be recognized as obvious outgrowths of historical human struggles with reality (as should religious belief, I might add...).

Just because I understand that "justice" and "mercy" and "human rights" and so on and so forth are non-concrete human concepts... that doesn't mean I should ignore them.  They're references to a shared human morality (based on simply empathy, at the core of it!) which is both real and observable, so they are useful terms for communication (particularly as long as I understand that they are not supernaturally-sourced).  "Tooth fairies", by contrast, are not useful *nor* a reference to anything real.
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Dotes

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #76 on: 21 Dec 2008, 16:47 »

Quote
What makes you think people didn't reject the idea of god meddling in our fairs on an "hourly basis" 1000 years ago? And no...the idea that there might be a god isn't a scientific hypothesis. Science is the study of the physical world. It has little to do with something based entirely outside of the physical. Perhaps that's the reason many don't feel a need to find physical evidence of a higher power?

Please describe to me this world outside the physical.

Quote
First: There is no such thing as "supernatural".  It's a buzzword to ghetto-ise a bunch of different potential sciences involving things we don't yet have an explanation for.

Remember what a famous atheist said?  "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

"God", as state-of-being, part-of-human-consciousness, "The Kingdom's all inside", etc., could not be observable by traditional science yet for the same reasons that electrons at one point were not known about or detectable.

It doesn't necessarily boil down to "the big Because".

Pratchett, in Hogfather, put it very well:

Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?

Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

Susan: So we can believe the big ones?

Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.

Susan: They're not the same at all.

Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.

Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what's the point?

Death: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?

Please explain to me the purpose and nature of this "state-of-being, part-of-human-consciousness" God. If you don't completely understand, give me your best guess.
« Last Edit: 21 Dec 2008, 17:09 by Dotes »
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tragic_pizza

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #77 on: 21 Dec 2008, 17:29 »

Please describe to me this world outside the physical.
That which is outside the brackets.
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Dotes

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #78 on: 21 Dec 2008, 17:42 »

Please describe to me this world outside the physical.
That which is outside the brackets.

Hahaha, of course. I understand now. 8-)
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #79 on: 21 Dec 2008, 20:30 »

Well, it relates to an earlier post I made.
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #80 on: 21 Dec 2008, 22:57 »

Quote from: Saints
It actually boils down to the spiritual being, well, spiritual.

*cough*

Quote from: Surgoshan
The only remaining argument is that ... the supernatural is still, somehow, ineffably different.  Why?  Because.



Lawl, keep ignoring the question. It'll go away eventually I assume.
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Saints

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #81 on: 21 Dec 2008, 23:12 »

Quote
What makes you think people didn't reject the idea of god meddling in our fairs on an "hourly basis" 1000 years ago? And no...the idea that there might be a god isn't a scientific hypothesis. Science is the study of the physical world. It has little to do with something based entirely outside of the physical. Perhaps that's the reason many don't feel a need to find physical evidence of a higher power?

Please describe to me this world outside the physical.

So you want me to do something that is theoretically impossible since, being merely a human, the only way I perceive things is through the physical world?

The best I can do is to explain that if something does exist outside our ideas of things like time and space, then it's reasonable to assume that it would have other properties that we don't understand.
What makes you think people didn't reject the idea of god meddling in our affairs on an "hourly basis" 1000 years ago? And no...the idea that there might be a god isn't a scientific hypothesis. Science is the study of the physical world. It has little to do with something based entirely outside of the physical. Perhaps that's the reason many don't feel a need to find physical evidence of a higher power?

This has been said already, but the God that most people perform rituals to worship, pray to, curse and fear, is very obviously interventionist, or all of these actions would have no point.  Anyone who says "please God, let me pass this test" believes that God intervenes, that God is actively listening to the plea, and that God might *change* his mind after listening to human prayer and thoughtfully considering, however much that contradicts the "omniscient" concept.  (Variation: God had already decided, but he also already knew in advance whether you would pray or not).

I think it's important to focus these kinds of discussion on what actual people believe (you should discuss primarily what you personally believe to be true, for example, since that's what you've found most convincing -- and argue against what other profess directly, since that's what they can defend), because gesturing to "theologians" or "some people" gets murky very quickly (particularly when those people's definition of "God" varies hugely from the actual meaning under discussion).

There are many ideas about the judeo-christian god. Many that contend that he doesn't intervene nearly as often some believe. And that example doesn't contradict omniscience. Omniscience simply means that something is all-knowing.

And I'm not appealing to the beliefs of "theologians" or "some people". I'm appealing to the beliefs of a very large amount of people.
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jtheory

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #82 on: 22 Dec 2008, 01:36 »

So you want me to do something that is theoretically impossible since, being merely a human, the only way I perceive things is through the physical world?

The best I can do is to explain that if something does exist outside our ideas of things like time and space, then it's reasonable to assume that it would have other properties that we don't understand.

I think you are just a hairsbreadth away from answering his question.  As you say, we live in the physical world and that's the only way we perceive things.  If something *does* exist outside of that physical world, such that we would not have any way to sense or describe it... well, that's that.  We all agree, there may be amazing & strange things out there which we have no way to detect (yet, or possibly ever).  Where we *disagree* is the step where you point to some version of the supernatural deity described in human religious texts and say that *this* is one of those things we cannot detect or sense in any way... but nevertheless you know it is there.  Do you see why we want to know *why* you say it's there and *how* you know that?  Human beings a few thousand years ago didn't have better methods of observing the physical world than we do now (obviously).  Why argue that they had access to this inaccessible thing when we do not?

I think it's important to focus these kinds of discussion on what actual people believe (you should discuss primarily what you personally believe to be true, for example, since that's what you've found most convincing -- and argue against what other profess directly, since that's what they can defend), because gesturing to "theologians" or "some people" gets murky very quickly (particularly when those people's definition of "God" varies hugely from the actual meaning under discussion).

There are many ideas about the judeo-christian god. Many that contend that he doesn't intervene nearly as often some believe. [...] And I'm not appealing to the beliefs of "theologians" or "some people". I'm appealing to the beliefs of a very large amount of people.

I'll rephrase: put the best arguments forward.  Here you talk about "many" vs. "some" and then "large amounts of people".  If those "some" believe something that you feel is wrong for other reasons, it's not honest argument to use their beliefs to make your points.  You know these different beliefs, and you've personally chosen the most convincing.  Argue that.  I'm just arguing my own viewpoint, not "what atheists believe" -- I can't argue against your personal viewpoint, though, because you haven't given it.  It's a lot better to discuss with actual people, rather than debating what *other* people, not currently present, believe.

And that example doesn't contradict omniscience. Omniscience simply means that something is all-knowing.

Not worth a big tangent on a little point, but: if you are omniscient and you change your mind about something, you either:
* were wrong or unfair in your first decision, or
* got new information (so you weren't omniscient before)
So no, it doesn't contradict omniscience if you permit that God gets confused or angry & makes mistakes sometimes.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #83 on: 22 Dec 2008, 08:57 »

Jens, he's saying they're not really living up to the label of Orthodox Christians, which is true.
I'm an Orthodox Christian and I'm also igtheist.
« Last Edit: 22 Dec 2008, 09:09 by zmeiat_joro »
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #84 on: 22 Dec 2008, 14:55 »

Judeo-Christians who claim to *know* there is a God are missing the point entirely; doubt is a fundamental part of all forms of that branch of religion, which is why faith is inherent to the discussion.  People who say "I *know* there is a God" are just as bad as those that say "I *know* there is not a God".

I have personally never met a Christian who actually thinks about their religion that says "I *know* there is a God"; in fact, even the most mainstream sermons in such churches are constantly asking "Do you BELIEVE in the Word?" or "Do you BELIEVE in God's love?"

Now, granted, sometimes people will say "I *know* that God loves me" but that is a subset of the fact that they only *believe* in His actual existence.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #85 on: 22 Dec 2008, 16:59 »

Judeo-Christians who claim to *know* there is a God are missing the point entirely; doubt is a fundamental part of all forms of that branch of religion, which is why faith is inherent to the discussion.  People who say "I *know* there is a God" are just as bad as those that say "I *know* there is not a God".

Are you saying that doubt is encouraged?  Are you sure?

Certainly not in the bible or any church I've been in.  It's those who "overcome" doubt who are miraculously healed, who walk on water when asked by Jesus, "receive your sight; your faith has healed you," and so on.  Those who *do* dare to doubt are scolded and the supernatural "truth" is often revealed to them (in the stories... somehow this doesn't happen in real life).  Remember doubting Thomas?  He's not praised.  "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed".  It's pretty clear.

I remember hearing lots of talk about people "struggling" with doubt -- hopefully to conquer it, of course, and receive the full power of faith.  Doubt is *recognized*, but it's one of those things that "just happens", to be a bit ashamed of and strive to conquer.

If you've had a different experience -- i.e., any time that those with strong faith were urged to doubt -- I'd be curious to hear about it (though I suppose this thread is getting pretty stale by now and I apologize to the powers that be for continuing it...).  I've heard that doubt is much more encouraged in some Jewish synagogues, but that's out of my experience, so I can't say... but again, being Jewish is probably more ethnic and cultural than religious; there are plenty of Jews who don't believe in God but still consider themselves Jewish.  Christianity and Islam don't work that way in my experience.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #87 on: 22 Dec 2008, 22:21 »

And I belittled your reply as "because", because that's what it is.  The common reply (espoused unfortunately by far too many scientists) is that science cannot comment on god because god is somehow beyond the ken of science.  When asked why, any who espouse the belief reply, "Because god is not something science can study."  That is to say...

Q:  Why can science not study god?
A:  Because science can't study god.

The answer may be more sophisticated (saying that god is somehow outside the universe or indelibly part of the fabric of the universe), but the answer always boils down to a stubborn "Because".  Because if there's a supernatural being of any sort (omnipotent Christian deity, spirit of a Japanese home, or German kobold), then that being is still interacting with the world and those interactions must necessarily be detectable.  Because science is the practice of making observations, cataloging them, and drawing inferences from the catalog, the effects of a supernatural being are within the bounds of science.  Therefor, however indirectly, the being itself is subject to the scrutiny of the scientist.

The definition of science is an attempt to explain the functioning of the natural world without use of the supernatural.  So if the supernatural exists (and this isn't an attempt to say that it does or it doesn't), it would be impossible to prove because science can't go beyond the natural.  It's already very arrogent just to expect science to explain everying in the natural world in the future.  It wasn't long ago that most scientists still believed in the theory of spontanous generation.  Let's say pizza is your favorite food.  How can you prove that pizza is your favorite food?
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #88 on: 23 Dec 2008, 04:36 »

but again, being Jewish is probably more ethnic and cultural than religious; there are plenty of Jews who don't believe in God but still consider themselves Jewish.  Christianity and Islam don't work that way in my experience.
Actually that's also the case with Orthodox* Christianity in much of eastern Europe**.
* While those with a Catholic background mostly don't bother at all unless they're Polish. And the Croats where it's also mainly an ethnic thing.
It's mostly evangelicals that are really "religious" still.
** Also, I'm not so sure about what's it exactly like in Russia. Russia's Complicated.
« Last Edit: 23 Dec 2008, 04:45 by zmeiat_joro »
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jtheory

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #89 on: 23 Dec 2008, 13:59 »

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/april3/3.62.html

Here's what I said above: "Those who *do* dare to doubt are scolded and the supernatural "truth" is often revealed to them (in the stories... somehow this doesn't happen in real life)."

The article you cited doesn't scold at first, but treats doubt as a common weakness... it says Thomas' story should be instructive -- he learned the truth directly, and his faith was stronger ever after (he accepted it).
We all feel "the chill of this doubt's shadow" as your article says, and we want more evidence (so far, so good, though I don't personally feel doubt as a chill or a shadow... it's actually a pleasant feeling):
Quote
I want to believe these accounts. And yet. And yet, unless I. There is something holding back in me. There is some mental reservation, a twinge of hesitancy. There is belief, and there is doubt. Unless I see, unless I touch, I will not believe. Not entirely.
Later:
Quote
Doubt has its limits. It can be faith's tonic, a cleansing and invigorating force. But doubt can quickly turn corrosive or cancerous, burning or mutating healthy tissue. (...) Indulged too long, doubt becomes just a parlor game.
In other words, limited doubt is healthy, but it's bad if you continue it indefinitely.  There must be a time when you set it aside (whether or not your questions have been answered, apparently).

It gets more interesting.
Quote
Here lies the basic flaw of all doubt: it really can never be satisfied. No evidence is ever fully, finally enough.  Doubt wants always to consume, never to consummate. It clamors endlessly for an answer, and so drowns out any answer that might be given. It demands proof, but will doubt the proof proffered. Doubt, then, can become an appetite gone wrong; its craving increases the more we try to fill it.

The article says this is the flaw of doubt.  I say it is the *strength*, and it is the basis for all advanced human knowledge.  One you put aside doubt, you have closed that part of your mind, and you will learn nothing new.  Yes, if you continue to pick apart the "truths" in religion, you will continue to come up with more and more questions that are unanswered and answers that are contradictory.  That is not a reason to assume your doubt is corrosive somehow.  This is just the learning process.

The article also points out the benefits of doubt in that someone with no doubts in their faith is capable of committing horrific terrorist acts, because (in my words) they've abandoned their natural moral sense in favor of pure faith.  I agree.  But then the article goes back to how doubters (in the biblical stories) are shown the truth, and they believe and worship.  In the stories, Thomas is shown supernatural proof.  In real life, these miracles don't happen.

Quote
Jesus shows his wounds to Thomas, tells Thomas to see, to touch. He sees, but he doesn't touch. He knows when enough is enough. And here is the real sign that Thomas is not some poseur, some mere academic trend-chaser: his seeing gives way, not just to belief, but to worship: "My Lord and my God!"
Okay, so he dismisses modern people with ongoing doubts as "poseurs" and "academic trend-chasers", because *apparently* the proof is available.  That's the huge flaw here -- he doesn't actually say *where* to find this proof... we have to take his word for it.  He *assumes* it.

That's how all of these "lessons" function -- someone in a story doubts, but they are convinced and their faith is stronger than ever... so take heart!  It's been proven, to someone else... and you should believe it now based on that hearsay.  Because no, you can't check for yourself.  Sorry.

This is more of the same flawed logic that says some comforting things about doubt, then mocks people who keep asking the unanswered questions and gestures at other people who were miraculously shown the "truth" and says we should believe based on that.  If we are allowed to emulate Thomas, does that mean we should wait for Jesus to appear in the flesh and show us his wounds directly before we agree to believe?  Of course not (because there would be no Christians then...).  He just waves his hands, says "don't be a poseur" and hopes that is enough for us doubting types.

I hope the difference is clear between this sort of sleight-of-hand and the demand to never relinquish doubt which is the basis of scientific inquiry.
« Last Edit: 23 Dec 2008, 14:10 by jtheory »
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Jackie Blue

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #90 on: 23 Dec 2008, 14:39 »

Right.  So if science is built upon never relinquishing doubt, shouldn't all atheists actually be agnostic?
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jtheory

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #91 on: 23 Dec 2008, 14:41 »

The definition of science is an attempt to explain the functioning of the natural world without use of the supernatural.  So if the supernatural exists (and this isn't an attempt to say that it does or it doesn't), it would be impossible to prove because science can't go beyond the natural.  It's already very arrogent just to expect science to explain everying in the natural world in the future.  It wasn't long ago that most scientists still believed in the theory of spontanous generation.  Let's say pizza is your favorite food.  How can you prove that pizza is your favorite food?

I can put this in simpler terms.  If it can be sensed/perceived in any way, it is natural, and it is subject to science (not always easy to experiment on, but that's a different question).  If it cannot be sensed, where are you getting your information from?  (Note -- you have to be taught about God & the beliefs of your religion... notice how very different religious beliefs arose in different parts of the world... the major religions have spread through conquest and missionaries).

If I passed my hand over a cup of water and it became wine, that would be a natural phenomenon that had not yet been explained by science.  It would have a lot of scientists extremely excited, in fact, because it would seemingly violate a lot of previously-known natural laws, so whoever figured it out would at the very least get a solid tenured academic position somewhere, if not win some serious prizes.

There is no phenomenon where scientists would say "ah, but that's a supernatural ____, so can can't investigate or discuss that".

Nobody expects science to explain everything about the natural world in the future.  Ask any scientist.  Seriously.  No one has that expectation.  But we're doing the best we can, and spontaneous generation, to use your example, was *mostly* disproved in 1768 and finally disproved completely by in the mid-1800s.  Better experimental methods and lenses strong enough to see microscopic organisms helped a lot (as more information is available, the theories must change & improve... isn't it wonderful?).  This is the strength of science... whereas when something in a religious text is shown to be false, outdated, confused, etc., is the text corrected?  No, interpretation must be twisted around....

And are you claiming that you liking pizza is a supernatural phenomenon?  It's not, and in fact favorite foods *are* [url http://abcnews.go.com/Health/PainManagement/Story?id=5475061&page=1]subject to science and included in scientific studies[/url].  Though note that the study I link is about pain management, not your personal favorite food -- because that's pretty useless to study, funding is limited, and science doesn't "prove" things the way you imagine anyway.  There is *also* study on the relationship between conscious thought and brainwave patterns, etc., so one day we might be able to detect your favorite food without you saying it out loud....
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #92 on: 23 Dec 2008, 15:06 »

Right.  So if science is built upon never relinquishing doubt, shouldn't all atheists actually be agnostic?

You're changing the subject.
But the answer is "no, but definitions are muddy."
Neither "agnostic" or "atheist" has one single definition that everyone agrees on, so unfortunately this is a huge discussion.

Many people use atheism to mean "an absolute belief that God does not exist".  This then relies on a definition of "God", which can be hugely broad....  I don't meet that definition -- very, very few people do.  I don't meet that definition regarding the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Santa Claus, either -- the possibility for error, even logical error, must always be permitted, no matter how infinitesimally small.

Many people also use "agnostic" to imply someone who may or may not go to church, may or may not think God "probably exists", may or may not pray, but either way says they can't know for sure.  Most people who call themselves atheists do not want to be lumped into this group either.  It's completely misleading -- we don't wonder every day if maybe God is watching and listening.  We've already sorted that out and put it aside, and no new evidence has shown up that requires us to reevaluate.

What other words do we have?  "Bright"?  Ugh.

So I go with "atheist", in spite of the negative baggage, in the meaning based on "a-" (lack of) "theism" (belief in a deity).  I have no belief in a god or gods, because I've spent a lot of time reading the arguments, studying the historical basis of religious beliefs, and learning a reasoned approach to the world, and I have found utterly no hint that this deity exists.

It kind of sucks, but those are the options.  I'd rather have a few people argue with me (no, this isn't the first time I've explained this) than have them think I'm on the fence.  If someone asked you about Santa Claus, you would not say "well... I'm still an Santa Claus agnostic"; you'd say "the stories are fun, but he doesn't exist"; that's my conclusion on God.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #93 on: 24 Dec 2008, 09:28 »

You just compared God to Santa Claus.

I think we're done here.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #94 on: 24 Dec 2008, 14:51 »

You just compared God to Santa Claus.

I think we're done here.

That's always your prerogative, though I wasn't trying to offend anyone.  That's the downside of the internet: you get no facial expression to show someone's getting annoyed, so you keep on talking....  This thread's probably ready to die anyway.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #95 on: 24 Dec 2008, 15:14 »

I'm not offended.  I don't even believe in any one specific God or concept of God.  I believe a lot of things, some of which contradict each other, and I'm fine with that.

But comparing God to Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, or whatever, is missing the point entirely and also kind of ignorant.

It's everyone's prerogative to be uninterested in theology; but one should not argue for or against it if one hasn't got enough interest to thoroughly research it.  Which is why people like Dawkins give atheism such a bad name.
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jtheory

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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #96 on: 24 Dec 2008, 16:37 »

I'm not offended.  I don't even believe in any one specific God or concept of God.  I believe a lot of things, some of which contradict each other, and I'm fine with that.

But comparing God to Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, or whatever, is missing the point entirely and also kind of ignorant.

It's everyone's prerogative to be uninterested in theology; but one should not argue for or against it if one hasn't got enough interest to thoroughly research it.  Which is why people like Dawkins give atheism such a bad name.

I was trying to define "atheist" as I use it, vs. "agnostic"; I wasn't making a comment about theology at all, just word definitions.  I guess that didn't come across.
If you want to discuss further at any point, I'd be happy to, via PM... I'm feeling guilty for keeping this thread alive when we're now miles away from talking about the comic.
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #97 on: 25 Dec 2008, 10:09 »

But comparing God to Santa Claus [...] is missing the point entirely and also kind of ignorant.

Oh, I don't know; this week's Times Higher Education Supplement tells me that the fifth most cited academic paper on Santa Claus is "A child's Christmas in America: Santa Claus as deity, consumption as religion" by R W Belk (Journal of American Culture,  10(1): 87-100, 1987).
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #98 on: 25 Dec 2008, 10:12 »

pwhodges, you are perhaps aware that you are sometimes a prick for its own sake, right?
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Re: Atheist Penelope
« Reply #99 on: 25 Dec 2008, 15:26 »

while we're talking about Santa Claus and God at the same time, I just want to say that, as a non-Christian, the number of outspoken atheists who still celebrate Christmas bugs me.  They ought to be my allies in not being entirely inundated during this season, but instead they compromise their values for nostalgia, like some kind of Vegan who tosses paint on fur coats, but still eats the brand of chicken nuggets that their mother used to serve them.
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