"You are really convinced that you've got all the answers. You've really got yourself tricked into believing that you're 100% right. Well, let me tell you just one thing. Do you consider yourself to be compassionate of other humans? If you're right, as you say you are, and you believe that, then how can you sleep at night? When you speak with me, you are speaking with someone who you believe is walking directly into eternal damnation, into an endless onslaught of horrendous pain which your 'loving' god created, yet you stand by and do nothing.
If you believed one bit that thousands every day were falling into an eternal and unchangeable fate, you should be running the streets mad with rage at their blindness. That's equivalent to standing on a street corner and watching every person that passes you walk blindly directly into the path of a bus and die, yet you stand idly by and do nothing. You're just twiddling your thumbs, happy in the knowledge that one day that 'walk' signal will shine your way across the road.
Think about it. Imagine the horrors Hell must have in store if the Bible is true. You're just going to allow that to happen and not care about saving anyone but yourself? If you're right then you're an uncaring, unemotional and purely selfish (expletive) that has no right to talk about subjects such as love and caring."
Excerpt of a Letter to Evangelist Ray Comfort of Living Waters.
This sounds rather typical of Atheists. Personally, I'm not one to use scare tactics of the realities of Hell to convince anyone that God is a Living, Personal, Loving, Righteous and Holy God, and He desires a relationship with each one of us. But the reality of Hell is scary, and this Atheist should be terrified of the horrors that await him if he rejects his Creator. The only "loving" and "caring" way of going about this is to warn non-believers and tell them the TRUTH!
I wonder what it would take for this Atheist to believe in God?
What would it take for YOU to believe?
I could very well be wrong, but that quote sounds far more like something concocted by a fellow Evangelist and mailed in to make a point. The quote, while ostensibly critiquing Christian behaviour, clearly makes a case for a modification in behaviour among Christians of Comfort's bent rather than a criticism of the religion itself. Further, the author seems far too well spoken to not be aware of that fact.ReplyDelete
I'd put my money on this being a fake. Not to mention the fact that Left Behind in all of its incarnations and sequels really sucks.
Yeah, I cannot think of any Atheist that wants Christians to be even more preachy.ReplyDelete
I think the point is to make it seem like this person would convert if only the rest of the christians would show him the need.
But while the goal may work for some, I think it is a rather disingenuous letter.
I think Dani ended the post with a very good question for the Atheist as she asks:ReplyDelete
" wonder what it would take for this Atheist to believe in God?
What would it take for YOU to believe?"
So what would you guys as Atheists consider to be "evidence" that would necessitate a belief in God? Even more precisely what "evidence" do you demand in order to believe the authority of the Bible?
Also how has Christianity failed to meet this required "evidence" in your eyes?ReplyDelete
Any evidence will do.ReplyDelete
Perhaps you can answer these questions yourself, by asking yourself "what would I consider evidence that would necessitate a belief in Thor? What would it take for me to believe in Allah? How has the Wiccan religion failed to meet this required evidence?" Etc.
"Any evidence will do."ReplyDelete
The question was again what would you even consider to be evidence. This is the problem, I think you begin with Materialist presuppositions therefore you rule out God's existance a-priori due to a lack of "evidence" (which is defined by your materialism).
"what would I consider evidence that would necessitate a belief in Thor?"
Well I would believe in Thor is Thor's existance could give an adequate basis for morality, laws of logic and the laws of nature, all in universal senses. Also Thor's existance must account for what man is, man is personal, finite, moral It simply can not.
The personality of man is actually is a problem for pantheism and Islam. Allah simply is not a personal God. He didn't talk to Muhammed he had an angel do the talking for Him, that is how aloof He is from man. Allah is impersonal, yet man (Allah's creation) is personal. This is why Muslims never talk of their "relationship" with Allah, rather they talk of devotion and submission.
As for wicca, this generally is a form of pantheism. Or a paneverythingism. Ultimatly this fails to describe reality simply because it can not provide any moral foundation to give a distinction between right and wrong. If everything is part of one "divine" essence then what is is right. There is no basis on which to stand to be able to say "X is wrong". The problem is that nobody actually lives this way.
It really isn't that complicated Phronk. It's not like there are all these "possible" religions out there that could just as potentially be true as Christianity for the same reasons. Really when you get down to the basis of the many religions there really are only about 4 types of religions: Pantheistic, Polytheistic, Monotheistic, and Atheistic.
If there are any other catagories I'd like to know, perhaps Agnostic but people who dub themselves such generally operate upon Atheistic presuppositions.
By evidence, Phronk doesn't mean arguments from incredulity, gut feelings and emotional needs. But what sort of evidence did you have in mind, Bob?ReplyDelete
The main difference between Christianity and other religions is that Jesus Christ declares Himself to be the one and only True God. Either Jesus was a Delusional Schizophrenic or He was who He claimed to be.ReplyDelete
Further, Jesus Christ loved each one of us so much that He offered His own life as a sacrifice for our sins so we can avoid eternal suffering. What other religious figure has even come close? NONE!
Questions to Atheists:
- What is so good about not believing in God?
- Why should anyone become an Atheist?
- What hope in life does Atheism offer anyone?
This is the problem, I think you begin with Materialist presuppositions therefore you rule out God's existance a-priori due to a lack of "evidence" (which is defined by your materialism).ReplyDelete
I think this is false. The idea is to not have ANY presuppositions when forming beliefs. Beliefs form themselves, based on evidence that is encountered - whether they end up being about God or materialist depends on the evidence.
The nature of the evidence doesn't matter - it can be billiard balls bouncing off each other, or the sea parting. But if there is no evidence, then there is no basis for believing something.
And for the record, I have trouble with the world "materialist" and I would probably not describe myself as one. See this post of mine for some scattered thoughts on the issue.
Well I would believe in Thor is Thor's existance could give an adequate basis for..etc.
OK. I will make up a god. Let's call him..."Jim". I make up a whole history for him, and I put in details that perfectly explain how he created the universe, and created morality, and the laws of nature, and all that. Jim is personal, and he talks to me in my head. In short, Jim fulfills all the requirements that you have laid out, and should be satisfying to your intuitive gut feelings of what a god should be.
Do you believe in Jim now? Would anyone be justified in believing in Jim?
I doubt you'd say yes to the above questions. So why should I believe in the God you propose? And why do these properties you lay out count as evidence? There are an infinite number of made-up things which can fulfill those requirements. Thus, they cannot be sufficient for existence.
The personality of man is actually is a problem for pantheism and Islam.
Why? Because you personally prefer a god who talks to people personally? Maybe pantheists prefer impersonal forces that don't directly interact with humans. How does that bear on which gods exist and which don't? How does being personal relate to existence?
Ultimatly this [wicca] fails to describe reality simply because it can not provide any moral foundation to give a distinction between right and wrong.
It's strange that you chose morality to attack wicca on, since, from what I've seen, it is one of the clearest relgions in the area of morality. "If it harms nobody, do what you will." Simple. Much more satisfying to me than a list of arbitrary rules. This simple rule can not only distinguish between right and wrong, but a reason WHY (harm) things are right and wrong. Christianity has trouble with the latter, in my limited understanding.
But of course this is all beside the point. How does explaining morality relate to existence?
What is so good about not believing in God?
Nothing in particular. But belief has little to do with what "feels good". It might feel really nice to believe that I'm surrounded by little naked fairy women, and I know, just know in my heart, that they're there even though other people can't see them, and I know that if I ever do anything stupid that might kill me, they'll intervene and save me. So, like, if I step out into traffic, these magic fairies, they'll magically stop the car just in time.
Aww, that's such a nice thought. I think I'll choose to believe that it's 100% true.
Wait...but that makes no sense...and is actively harmful to me. Damn. I guess "what's so good about believing X" isn't really a relevant question.
Why should anyone become an Atheist?
I don't really care if anyone becomes an atheist. I'm not really an atheist myself.
But I guess the best reason to become an atheist is because no gods actually exist. And in my short life, I've found that basing one's decisions on the truth leads to more satisfying consequences.
Still, maybe some people are happier "believing" in God, whether they REALLY believe it or not, and that's fine. Just don't tell other people what they can and cannot stick their penises into.
What hope in life does Atheism offer anyone?
Again, not relevant to the state of reality (see question #1 about the fairies). But there is plenty of hope in any human life. Do you not have hopes and dreams for your family and yourself? Do you not look forward to seeing your kids grow up and have happy lives and kids of their own?
Atheists have the same hopes. (Most) just don't have the extra hope of an afterlife. But if all these hopes and dreams in this life become meaningless to you if life does not continue on after it, then that is an even bleaker worldview than even the most unemotional materialist atheist.
Things I don't beleive in, but can see how they might be fun or helpful to some:ReplyDelete
The Tooth Fairy
The Easter Bunny
Listen, I'm all for the debates here, but when people start saying Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren't real, well, there's a limit people!!ReplyDelete
"Things I don't beleive in, but can see how they might be fun or helpful to some:ReplyDelete
The Tooth Fairy
The Easter Bunny
Why do Atheists think this is a valid way of describing their reasoning behind the existance of God? It is nothing but a blatant Red Hering fallacy. I mean you guys wouldn't think it to be a decent reason for rejecting atheism if I said:
Things I don't believe in:
Smoking crack rocks
Spreading STD's for fun
I mean that is completly ridiculous and you know it. Why? Well because you can reject some of the above and others be true. So just because belief in Eugenics is primarily rooted in Darwinian thinking it simply does not follow that Atheism is false. Likewise simply because people have made up tales about gods and immaterial beings like fairies it does not follow LOGICALLY that ALL claims about immaterial beings are false...that is a hasty generalization fallacy.
Anyway back to the earlier issue I am still wondering what you Atheists would even consider to be evidence as to the existance of God, I haven't heard even an attempt at an answer yet. I think really it is because you don't know, and just like to operate upon an assumed materialism and just say things like "There is no evidence for God's existance!" By evidence (when you presuppose Materialism) you can mean nothing other than that when you look up with a telescope you don't see a giant man on a throne giving dicates to the universe. But that is simply to beg the question against the claim that God (An IMMATERIAL being) exists. Thus again what would you guys consider to be evidence to support such a claim?
What gives you the right to whine about a lack of evidence?
Your man-on-a-throne example, while a little excessive, would work, but some sort of occurrence that can have no possible natural explanation would do just fine too.
When looking to prove the supernatural, a reasonable skeptic will, quite frankly, need supernatural evidence.
In regards to Adonis' list, I agree that it doesn't provide proof of anything in particular. It's not particularly respectful either, but, let's face it, you're no stranger to the occasional insult yourself.
"I think this is false. The idea is to not have ANY presuppositions when forming beliefs. Beliefs form themselves, based on evidence that is encountered - whether they end up being about God or materialist depends on the evidence."ReplyDelete
That's a nice idea but really impossible. Because in forming our beliefs we are already operating upon many assumption for example:
1) Reason can provide answers
2)There are answers
5) The human mind is capable of reasoning properly
6) Communication of ideas is possible (hence blogs)
We all operate on presuppositions and it is GROSSLY romantic and idealistic to say otherwise Phronk. The realy question is WHICH presuppositions do we begin with.
"The nature of the evidence doesn't matter - it can be billiard balls bouncing off each other, or the sea parting. But if there is no evidence, then there is no basis for believing something."
Well then you have no right at all to complain about a LACK of evidence if the definition of evidence doesn't matter. This is ridiculous Phronk, I honestly expected more out of you.
"OK. I will make up a god. Let's call him..."Jim". I make up a whole history for him, and I put in details that perfectly explain how he created the universe, and created morality, and the laws of nature, and all that. Jim is personal, and he talks to me in my head. In short, Jim fulfills all the requirements that you have laid out, and should be satisfying to your intuitive gut feelings of what a god should be.
Do you believe in Jim now? Would anyone be justified in believing in Jim?"
Well, "Jim" needs to be able to account for the problem of evil. Why do we call things/people bad if the world is the way Jim made it? Why do people get sick, get cancer and die if Jim is good? Why do people kill, rape and do all kinds of horrible things if this "jim" who made all things is 'good'?
You can't just say "Jim's existance accounts for everything." That's a nice statement, I think your description of 'Jim' fails because it doesn't describe reality, it can't answer the problem of evil. The only thing that really can is a Biblical view of the fall of man in real time and space. Or an erasing of the catagories of good and evil altogether and just saying what is is right (the problem with that is nobody really lives like that, it fails to describe reality).
"The personality of man is actually is a problem for pantheism and Islam.
Why? Because you personally prefer a god who talks to people personally? Maybe pantheists prefer impersonal forces that don't directly interact with humans. How does that bear on which gods exist and which don't? How does being personal relate to existence?"
I already briefly explained why above. Allah is not a personal God, human beings (supposedly His creation) are personal...you don't see a problem here?
Pantheism states that all is part of God, the halmark of Patheistic philosophies is to realize that we are not individuals but One. Now I in addressing Pantheism pushed the problem of evil not personality and human identity. However, this is also a problem if you think that human beings are personal how can an impersonal force (god) give birth to personal creatures?
"Your man-on-a-throne example, while a little excessive, would work, but some sort of occurrence that can have no possible natural explanation would do just fine too.ReplyDelete
When looking to prove the supernatural, a reasonable skeptic will, quite frankly, need supernatural evidence."
Fair enough. But I just wonder why the laws of nature need to be violated in order to validate the existance of an immaterial being. I think for example Jesus' walking on water although called a miracle could be explained if He had done it in a lab repeatedly. That in no way lessens His divinity but rather display's His omniscience and Lordship over nature.
"In regards to Adonis' list, I agree that it doesn't provide proof of anything in particular. It's not particularly respectful either, but, let's face it, you're no stranger to the occasional insult yourself."
True, and I want to try and shy away from flat out insults. I am glad though Uber that you are not ignorantly stinking up for the standard Red Herring argument tactic. Most Atheists will go to the grave saying that Christian Theism is just as intellectually credible as belief in tooth fairies and gnomes and the belly button fuzz police.
I mean sure you might not believe in Christianity but it just sceams of a lack of intellectual honesty to equate it to belief in clear faity tales.
We all operate on presuppositions and it is GROSSLY romantic and idealistic to say otherwise Phronk.ReplyDelete
Oh I agree with you there. In practice, humans will always come in with presuppositions. We can still aspire to the ideal goal of having none (or at least few), though, and trying to prove that God exists by presupposing that God exists isn't even giving it a try.
Well then you have no right at all to complain about a LACK of evidence if the definition of evidence doesn't matter.
I said the nature of the evidence doesn't matter, not that the definition of evidence doesn't matter. I think you're seeing what you want to see, again, here.
There has to be evidence, and by that I mean just any reason to believe in the position it supports. The nature of it doesn't matter as long as it exists, and it supports what it claims to support.
Is a specific example what you're looking for? Ok, how about if the sea parted for no natural reason, and in the ocean's new bald spot, Jesus appears out of thin air, and says he's God, and turns a few people into toads, and creates a few mini planets out of nothing.
Then there's a hypothesis worth considering.
Why do we call things/people bad if the world is the way Jim made it?
Because I define "good" as anything that Jim made or did.
Why do people get sick, get cancer and die if Jim is good?
Because Jim allows them to happen. Therefore they must be good.
I think your description of 'Jim' fails because it doesn't describe reality
But I can alter the concept of Jim for a few hundred years until he does fit reality relatively well. When he clearly doesn't, I can just say "well, Jim works in mysterious ways", or redefine reality as I did above. Why's reality matter though? That's just materialist bullpoo.
Any problem you find with Jim can surely apply to the God you believe in as well. But to choose between Jim and God, you have to use "materialist" logical reasoning. Which leads to a rejection of both if followed through.
Allah is not a personal God, human beings (supposedly His creation) are personal...you don't see a problem here?
But wait...God is not a material being, but human beings (supposedly his creation) are material...my gosh, how ridiculous!
And I'm an intelligent being, but I once created a robot made of lego, and it wasn't intelligent. Problem?!
The things you've brought up so far are just appeals to gut feelings that don't stand up to even basic reasoning. They won't do anything to convince atheists, and they shouldn't even be appealing to theists in their right minds.
The Tooth FairyReplyDelete
The Easter Bunny
Why do Atheists think this is a valid way of describing their reasoning behind the existance of God?
I agree that this is not a valid way to argue against God's existence...which you demonstrated well.
I don't think that was Adonis's point, though (forgive me if I'm wrong Adonis). He was simply arguing AGAINST Dani's apparent argument that things that are comforting or fun to believe in must be true. These are counterexamples - they are comforting and fun, but not true.
Either Jesus was a Delusional Schizophrenic or He was who He claimed to be.ReplyDelete
There you go. Since there's no real evidence that jessie was a god, than by dani's own reasoning - he was a madman.
You've just 'proved*' your god's non-existance.
*using the same amount of proof that you often site to support your beliefs, anyways.
I didn't mean to be disrespectful.ReplyDelete
I was looking for a way to illustrate that beleif in God is no more rational than beleif in Santa Claus.
I think for example Jesus' walking on water although called a miracle could be explained if He had done it in a lab repeatedly.ReplyDelete
Indeed, that's more than likely true. However, we have very little proof outside of your bible, itself, that suggests that Jesus existed at all (he may very well have, but unless we presuppose the accuracy of your bible, there's no way to tell for sure that he did or that he behaved the same way he is alleged to have), let alone any documented evidence outside of this bible that any such behaviour is possible.
On a scientific level, we have no evidence whatsoever of any humans ever walking on water. Unless Jesus was a basilisk lizard? And even then, he'd have to be going at a run to pull that one off. Simply put, Jesus would have to violate the laws of physics as we know them to pull this off. Not only that, for it to fall into the natural realm of things, it would have to be a repeatable experiment, so other people should be able to do it under the same conditions.
Most Atheists will go to the grave saying that Christian Theism is just as intellectually credible as belief in tooth fairies and gnomes and the belly button fuzz police.
Not to be too nitpicky, but do you personally know "Most Atheists"? I suspect that "Most Atheists" is actually the select group of people that you have encountered that you think have said things like this.
"The main difference between Christianity and other religions is that Jesus Christ declares Himself to be the one and only True God. Either Jesus was a Delusional Schizophrenic or He was who He claimed to be."ReplyDelete
You know, there's this guy in India called Sai Baba who claims to be a god. People believe him. They shouldn't. It's one thing to claim to be a god, it's quite another to actually be one.
"- What is so good about not believing in God?"
It allows us to appreciate the universe as it is, without the superfluous notion of God hanging over it. The universe without God is so mind-boggling that it seems difficult to fathom why people think they're somehow entitled to more. God doesn't increase our appreciation of the universe; he trivialises it. To say that the universe was created "for" us is almost to cheapen it. It automatically places us at the centre of everything when in fact we have no such justification for doing so. It's gimmicky and arrogant. Not believing in God forces us to live this life (the only one we can all agree on) as best we can. It gives us the opportunity to deal with our problems like adults instead of appealing to a schizophrenic entity that, on the one hand, is supposed to be the embodiment of all that's (well of course, if equate good with God, then you have no choice) but who expects us to worship under punishment of eternal damnation and torture. This is bound to distort people's priorities, and a sort of holier-than-thou attitude sets it. If life is just a challenge to win the approval of a deity, then I would argue that nothing really mattered after all. Having each other is more than enough.
"- Why should anyone become an Atheist?"
Because belief in gods is to believe in something false.
"- What hope in life does Atheism offer anyone?"
It forces us to deal with our problems instead of waiting for God to intervene. Our resources will then be diverted towards fixing humanity's problems instead of trivialising human existence as a game to score points with the sky tyrant. It forces us (ideally) to see ourselves as we really are, how and why we are that way, and to work towards bettering ourselves armed with this knowledge.
“Is a specific example what you're looking for? Ok, how about if the sea parted for no natural reason, and in the ocean's new bald spot, Jesus appears out of thin air, and says he's God, and turns a few people into toads, and creates a few mini planets out of nothing.”
We all know, in our heart of hearts, that this won’t ever happen, though (if it does, I’ll eat my words and convert). That it won’t happen (but easily could if God were real) must be compensated by verbal gymnastics and obfuscation. It’s no wonder that it can’t rely on real evidence – only on emotion, appeals to human ignorance and the difficulties inherent in knowledge. Apart from that, not much.
"I don't think that was Adonis's point, though (forgive me if I'm wrong Adonis). He was simply arguing AGAINST Dani's apparent argument that things that are comforting or fun to believe in must be true. These are counterexamples - they are comforting and fun, but not true."
Indeed, to take the other extreme, cancer is one of the most un-fun things I can think of, but it is very much a reality. We can accept cancer as scientists, but deplore it as human beings, if that makes sense. It's because we deplore it as human beings that we MUST accept its reality as scientists, if we’re to deal with it. To ignore things because they go against our beliefs is to put ourselves and others in danger. Those who blindly follow dogma to the exclusion of all competing evidence are naked to the dangers present in this indifferent universe. If you oppose evolution, say, on religious grounds (which most anti-evolutionists do, despite their scientific sounding rans) then we are - selfishly - saying this: "I love my religious beliefs and if something contradicts them, I will ignore it." You're placing what you find comforting and convenient to believe above the interests of other people and of society as a whole. So when a problem that requires us to know about evolution arises, you pretend it doesn't need our attention, because to acknowledge that you automatically acknowledge that your beliefs are just that: beliefs. Of course, that is unacceptable to many people, so they bury their heads in the sand and pray for a miracle. Worse, they want to drag everyone down with them, as though simply having religious beliefs entitled them to a position of authority over the lives of others. Meanwhile, real people are being affected and harmed, largely due to the complacency of the close minded, who helped to divert resources away from the solution. The same goes for discussions of human nature and how best to address social problems.
A few typos in there:ReplyDelete
"is supposed to be the embodiment of all that's good (well of course, if you equate good with God, then you have no choice) but who expects us to worship under punishment of eternal damnation and torture."
I'm a little late diving into this thread, and I know I run the risk of being completely ignored because the participants here may have already considered this discussion over. But what the hell, I will put in my two cents worth anyway.ReplyDelete
What would make be believe that the God of the Bible is real?
The standard answer an atheist will give is if God/Jesus/Mary appeared personally to him or her. The problem with that answer though is that how could one know it really is God, Jesus or Mary? Maybe it is a hallucination or maybe an evil spirit is playing a trick.
Nope, what would get me to believe in the Bible is if it contained information about the world and the cosmos that the people of the times would not be expected to know. For instance, if one of the books mentioned a land perpetually frozen at the bottom of the world (Antarctica), that would be very impressive. If the Bible spoke of the rings around Saturn or stated definitively that the Earth revolved around the sun, that would also impress me.
When Galileo looked in a telescope at Saturn and became the first person in history to see Saturn's rings in the early 17th century, imagine how affirming that would have been of the Bible being the word of God. For all of the previous 1500 years, the Bible would have spoken of a planet in the heavens surrounded by rings and no one would have known what it meant, and then bam! Galileo solves the riddle.
The same thing when explorers in the 18th century found the frozen continent of Antarctica.
Things like that would have impressed me more than parlor trick miracles or hallucinatory visions because the truth of it would have been there in the historical record for all to see and would be incontrovertible.
But to take this further, Bob and Dani want to know what it takes for an atheist to believe in God. I can only speak for myself, not other atheists. But the kind of supreme being I would conceive of would not require our worship or obeisance, just as we do not expect insects to worship us. I have absolutely no problem believing in the possibility of a supreme being. My rational mind simply cannot accept that the God of the Bible really exists because it is just too ludicrous.
Hey Tommy – Thanks for checking in and giving me your two cents. Sometimes comments do get ignored, but I try to make an effort to respond to the comments which are worthy of an answer, and I appreciate your honest response to my question: What would make you believe that the God of the Bible is real?ReplyDelete
You said, >> “what would get me to believe in the Bible is if it contained information about the world and the cosmos that the people of the times would not be expected to know.”<<
Interestingly, Job (the oldest book in the Bible) contains extraordinary descriptions of the world and the cosmos.
Job 9:8-9 – “He alone spreads out the heavens; And treads on the waves of the sea. He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades; And the chambers of the south.”
Job 26:7-10 – “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the water in His thick clouds; Yet the clouds are not broken under it… He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters; At the boundary of light and darkness.”
Here is a fascinating clip from JOB 38:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone?...
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?...
By what way is light diffused; Or the east wind scattered over the earth? Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water; Or a path for the thunderbolt?...
Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades; Or loose the belt of Orion?
Can you bring out Constellations in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?...
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth?...
If Galileo just discovered these stars in the 1600's, how could the author of Job know about Orion and the Pleiades thousands of years ago without any telescopes? That’s pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Signs and wonders or miracles often produced unbelief and hardening of hearts all throughout the Bible. Just take a look a Pharaoh. The same would be true today – if God did appear right in front of your face, most likely you still wouldn’t believe, but even more likely it would be a hallucination or maybe an evil spirit playing a trick, just like you said. God is not in the business of doing miracles to produce believers. You are more blessed if you believe, yet have not seen Him with your own eyes.
>>“But the kind of supreme being I would conceive of would not require our worship or obeisance, just as we do not expect insects to worship us.”<<
God does not require our worship, rather He desires our worship and a loving relationship with us. Just as any father desires a relationship with his children, God desires one with us. But in order for love to mean anything it has to be freely given. God will not force anyone to love and worship Him because to do so would render His glory meaningless and robotic. Of course, it grieves God’s heart if you reject Him just as it would grieve any father’s heart, but the choice to love Him is ultimately up to you and the consequences of that rejection are eternal.
I know that your rational mind simply cannot accept that God of the Bible really exists because it is just too ludicrous, but the evidence for God's existence really is overwhelming, you just have to be open to believing in Him and you also have a little faith.
If there are any other questions you have concerning the Bible or whatever else, please let me know and I will do my best to answer. I sincerely appreciate your comments. Stay in touch!
"Just as any father desires a relationship with his children, God desires one with us. But in order for love to mean anything it has to be freely given."ReplyDelete
Even to a dead-beat dad who never shows himself? What sort of a father wants his children to believe in him but has the gall never to appear to his own children? What sort of "relationship" is that? Certainly not one to emulate. And then to banish them to hell when they - perfectly reasonably - don't believe?
"Of course, it grieves God’s heart if you reject Him just as it would grieve any father’s heart, but the choice to love Him is ultimately up to you and the consequences of that rejection are eternal."
Don't you find that last point rather grotesque? Eternal torture and misery just for not believing? This is nothing but emotional blackmail. How is love for God supposed to be freely given with THAT hanging over people's heads. Indeed, many people have left Christianity largely because of this ugly feature.
"I know that your rational mind simply cannot accept that God of the Bible really exists because it is just too ludicrous, but the evidence for God's existence really is overwhelming, you just have to be open to believing in Him and you also have a little faith."
I am open, but you've never provided any evidence. The reason that the punishment for not believing is so dire is because of the inherent implausibility of God. When wanting for credibility, just invoke fear. Religion is an emotional belief system, not a rational one. If it was rational, there wouldn't be any need for "faith".
Thank you for your response Dani.ReplyDelete
Regarding the Job excerpts, here is my understanding. The Book of Job was written sometime during the Hellenistic era, when Judaea was under the rule of either Ptolemaic Egypt or Seleucid Syria, both successor kingdom's to Alexander the Great.
Greek scientists observed the motions of the stars and the planets in the heavens. As you may know, many of the constellations in the northern hemisphere are named after characters in Greek mythology. Whomever wrote the book of Job was likely a very educated Jew who spoke Greek, so it would not surprise me that a Jew during the 2nd or 3rd century B.C. would make reference to the Pleiades and various constellations. By that time, the Greeks had already named the constellations and the planets. It should be noted that planets were distinguished from stars based on their movements. Whereas the stars remained fixed in relation to each other, the planets did not, and the word planet means "wanderer". It did not occur to the Greeks that the planets were spheres like the Earth that orbited the sun.
That is why I used as my standard the Bible containing a reference to rings around Saturn because no one before Galileo could possibly have known about their existence.
If I were to believe in a Creator at all, it would probably be as a Deist like Thomas Paine.
But in the end, what is most important to me is that all people, whether they believe in a god or not, lead virtuous lives. If there is a god that wants us to lead lives of virtue, it will be pleased whether we do it for him/her/it or whether we do it simply because it is the right thing to do. That's what I call a win/win proposition.
Lui said ->>"I am open, but you've never provided any evidence."<<ReplyDelete
Perhaps you forgot that I devoted an entire post to you back in October titled "SCIENFITIC reasons why our earth is NOT billions of years old"? But since you want more evidence (which you will undoubtedly ignore), my latest post provides over 3,000 SCIENTIFIC facts against evolution.
Tommy - It is my understanding that the Book of Job was written during the time of the Patriarchs (1950-1500 BC). Either way, while it may not speak of the rings of Saturn, the information about the cosmos in that book were not common knowledge at the time. How did the author know that "the earth hangs on nothing"?
Another interesting point is that the Bible mentions dinosaurs (which supposedly lived millions of years ago), but it records man and dinos living together which aligns with Creationism.
If the different kinds of dinosaurs survived the Flood in Noah's day, then they must have come off the Ark and lived in the post-Flood world.
In the book of Job 40:15-24 , God describes to Job (who lived after the Flood) a great beast with which Job was familiar. This great animal, called ‘behemoth,’ is described as ‘the chief of the ways of God,’ perhaps the biggest land animal God had created. Impressively, he moved his tail like a cedar tree, and his bones are like beams of bronze and ribs like bars of iron! Although some Bible commentaries say this may have been an elephant or hippopotamus, the description actually fits that of a dinosaur like Brachiosaurus. Elephants and hippos certainly do not have tails like cedar trees!
Actually, very few animals are singled out in the Bible for such a detailed description. Contrary to what many may think, what we know now as dinosaurs get more mention in the Scriptures than most animals! So dinosaurs—all the different kinds—must have lived alongside of people after the Flood.
>>"But in the end, what is most important to me is that all people, whether they believe in a god or not, lead virtuous lives. If there is a god that wants us to lead lives of virtue, it will be pleased whether we do it for him/her/it or whether we do it simply because it is the right thing to do."<<
Few questions for you, Tommy:
- How do you define what is "virtuous"?
- What standard do you go by to know the "right" thing to do?
- Is there such a thing as absolute right or wrong?
- Do you think you can be "good" enough for God so much so that He will be pleased with the way you live your life?
I will answer the last question first. And that answer is I don't know. I can't claim to know what a supreme being, if one exists, really expects of me. To be honest, I really don't worry about it. I am more concerned about whether I am good enough for my wife and my children. If I can't do right by them, then I can't do right by anyone.ReplyDelete
Is there such a thing as absolute right and wrong? In short, yes. If I am trying to take a cruise to the Bahamas and I fail to follow instructions and end up on a boat for Greenland, yes I did something absolutely wrong.
If I blow my family's entire lifesavings on a gambling binge in Las Vegas, I did something absolutely wrong.
If I see a little boy or girl wandering alone in a shopping mall and bring the child to the attention of mall security so as to reunite the child with the parent or guardian, I am doing something absolutely right.
What is my standard of knowing what the right thing to do is? The answer of course is more complex than the question. The context matters. In certain situations where we have to make a snap decision based on incomplete information, what may instinctively seem to be the right thing to do might be the wrong thing to do and vice versa.
We are always told not to pick up hitchhikers because of the risk of danger. One night I was driving home and I saw a woman hitching on the side of the road. The way she was dressed, I thought she was a diner waitress and I guessed that maybe her car had broken down and she needed a lift. Based on that brief observation, I made a decision to help her out. I pulled over a little bit ahead of her and waited for her to come to my car. As she was approaching, I thought there was something odd about the way she was walking. I opened the passenger door and when she stuck her head in I found myself facing a 30-something red headed woman who absolutely reeked of alcohol.
She asked me if I could drop her off at the Harmony Bar, which was a bar that was located just up the road about a quarter of a mile. I told her yes and she got in. When we pulled into the parking lot where the bar was, she asked me with her slurred speech if I wanted to go into the bar and party with her. I said to her, "Look, you seem like you have had a lot to drink. Why don't you let me drive you home."
I saw her contemplating it for a moment and then she said "Yeah, okay." So I asked her to give me directions along the way as we drove. After we had gone maybe a mile I stopped at a red light. While I was waiting for the light to change, the next thing I know this woman is putting her head on my lap. She had passed out.
"Oh, that's just great!" I thought to myself. I decided that maybe the best thing to do, even though it was a major inconvenience for me, was to drive to the parking lot of another nearby shopping center and let her get a power nap. Hopefully, upon waking, she would be lucid enough to guide me to where she lived.
After maybe half an hour had gone by, I woke her up. I asked her to tell me which way to go. So she starts telling me "make a left here" and "make a right there". After several minutes went by and I started going around in circles, it dawned on me that this woman did not have a fucking clue what she was talking about.
By this time, even my reservoir of patience and good will was starting to turn dry. I saw a police car driving down one of the side streets and I flagged it. The driver was a lady police officer. I started explaining to her the situation, whereupon my inebriated passenger started calling me "a fucking asshole" (pardon the language) and sobered up.
The officer asked her "Are you going to tell this man where you live?" She answered in the affirmative and within five minutes we ended up on the corner of the street where she said she lived. She got out of my car, thanked me for helping her, and said she was "going to put her ice in the head".
Now, you may ask, once I realized she was three sheets to the wind when I picked her up, why did I help her and put myself through all of that aggravation? Because, I told myself, in her intoxicated state, she was incapable of making rational decisions for herself and could have been harmed or taken advantage of by someone else. If I were a person of lesser morals, I could have easily had my way with her if I so desired. In her state she could have been assaulted, raped, robbed or all three. Chalk it up to my lancelot complex, but I like to think I potentially protected her from harm while she was in an extremely vulnerable state.
Is it absolutely wrong to pick up strangers on the road during the night? Do you think I did the right thing or the wrong thing?
The simple answer to the definition of what is virtuous is of course the "golden rule". It is in our nature to prefer pleasure to pain, safety to danger, love over hate and so forth. By respecting the rights of others as we would want to be respected ourselves, we ideally create an environment of mutually interlocking and reciprocating rights and obligations that benefits us all.
I can't of course speak for anyone else, but my philosophy begins as follows: the only person's life I can really control is my own. I can rail against the selling of child sex slaves in Cambodia for example, but there is not really much I can do about here in LI, NY. The core of my philosophy is that I can make the world a better place simply by not adding to its problems. If I were a criminal who robbed, raped and committed theft, I would be a negative for society and would add to its problems. If I was financially irresponsible and ended up having to beg for money or go on welfare, I would be a drain on society. Getting my life right is the most important thing. And since I am married and have two children, getting my life right means that they are taken care of a well. Think of it as concentric circles of responsibility emanting outward from the self, through the family, to the society at large.
I have to cut it short now (if you could call this rambling short!) but I think I have given you a big insight into what makes me tick.
Oh, and regarding the "Earth hangs on nothing", the Greeks of the Hellenistic era contemplated those very things and correctly determined that the Earth was a body in space. What they got very wrong though was the idea that the Earth was in the center of the universe and everything revolved around it. It should be noted though that some Greeks did at least contemplate the possibilty that the Earth went around the sun.ReplyDelete
At any rate, the way Job is written betrays its relatively recent authorship. I just read a book about the Israelites from the time of Abraham up to the first Roman-Jewish war, including the impact of Hellenization following the time of Alexander on the Jews. There was a sizeable Jewish community in Alexandria in Egypt, which was a hotbed of scientific inquiry during the Hellenistic era. The Ptolemaic Greek Erathosthenes came very close to calculating the true circumference of the Earth.
As for this "behemoth" I would have to look into it. But the book of Job is not the story of an actual person but is a fictional story meant to convey a moral lesson.
Tommy - You seem like a really nice fellow with decent values. Wanting to be good for your wife and kids surely is praise worthy, no doubt, and they are lucky to have you.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your answers about absolute right and wrong. You are the first atheist I have ever encountered to answer absolute questions. Most can't even admit that murder, rape and child molestation are absolutely wrong because they refuse to admit to any absolutes in fear of acknowledging God as the ultimate moral authority over all of life.
As far as picking up hitchhikers, that is not a moral absolute, risky yes, but you can use your discretion when necessary.
Your values of the "golden rule", love over hate, respecting others, ect. are all adopted from Biblical Christianity and Godly principals.
I guess I'm wondering why you don't believe in God? You seem to know right from wrong and seek to do what you perceive to be good, but what is the point if there is no ultimate standard to go by? After all, what's good for you may not be good for the next guy. One society (Nazi Germany for example) can be different from the next, so how do we know what's right? If we are all just a product of evolution and nothing more than animals, why is it absolutely wrong for criminals to rob, rape and steal from others? Who sets the standards for human morality? What sets us a part from all the other species who evolved from chance?
P.S. The book of Job was written over 1000 years before the Hellenistic era. In addition to "behemoth" you can also look up "Leviathan" which appears in the Bible several times as well as "dragon" which was a term for dinosaur. FYI - Job was really an actual person (like all biblical characters) not a fictional story.
Thanks for the dialog!
"Perhaps you forgot that I devoted an entire post to you back in October titled "SCIENFITIC reasons why our earth is NOT billions of years old"? But since you want more evidence (which you will undoubtedly ignore), my latest post provides over 3,000 SCIENTIFIC facts against evolution."ReplyDelete
Yeah, but I'm talking about real evidence, not made-up bullshit spouted by know-nothing fundies or facts cherry-picked to fit in with Biblical fiction. The problem with "scientific" objections to evolution is that they completely ignore context. Facts are taken out at random and then viewed in isolation, without the complications of other factors that would have had an effect on the thing being looked at.
Or else everyone at the life and earth sciences departments at my university are all idiots (which must be why they have years of experience working in the industries of biotechnology, geology and applied ecology).
>>"Or else everyone at the life and earth sciences departments at my university are all idiots"<<ReplyDelete
Now that's the smartest thing you've said so far, Lui. I'm sure you fit right in!
Well Dani, we will have to agree to disagree about when the book of Job was written, though I would allow a date as late as the Babylonian Captivity when learned Jews would have been exposed to the knowledge of the Mesopotamian peoples that had been accumulating since the days of Sumeria.ReplyDelete
Since I do not have a science background, I tend not to get involved in arguments about evolution, because I am not on firm footing. My strength is in history. That being said, evolution is merely a process by how we got from there to here as a species. It does not tell us how we should behave. Humans, chimps and gorillas having a common ancestor does not mean I should fling feces around when I am upset. We were all once children too, it does not mean we should continue to defecate in diapers when we are adults, unless of course you are a psychotic astronaut driving across country to kill somebody!
The thing about Nazi Germany is that regardless of whether Adolf Hitler was a Christian, an atheist, or some Neo-Teutonic pagan, the people of Germany considered themselves to be a Christian nation. Their culture was steeped in anti-semitism that had its basis in the belief that the Jews were collectively guilty of killing Jesus. (As an aside, I always found that to be odd, that the resurrection of Jesus is central to the beliefs of Christians, and yet they are angry at the Jews for having him crucified. Wasn't it supposed to be necessary to kill him in order that he be resurrected? Where's the gratitude?)
I am constantly confronted with the argument that without belief in God there is no reason to be good and just. But if you look at the history, the evidence does not support that nations collectively that considered themselves to be Christian behaved by standards today that we would consider moral. I have heard it said by some Christians that without Darwin's theory of evolution, there would be no Holocaust. But that ignores the fact, as I mentioned before, that the Jews were vilified in Christendom as killers of Christ, so one could argue No Christianity, No Holocaust as well.
The Chinese philosopher Mo Tzu, who lived several centuries before Jesus, espoused a doctrine of universal love. He taught that the answer to strife and conflict in the world was to consider the welfare of others as much as our own.
Why we should oppose tyranny and oppression was amply captured in the famous remarks of Pastor Niemoller, who wrote that when they came for the ones he despised, he said nothing because he was not one of them. And when they finally came for him, there was no one left to speak out. That encapsulates why one should oppose tyranny and injustice, because when you tolerate it, it creates a climate where it is acceptable. A more modern example is the "broken windows" theory of policing, which argues that if you ignore the broken windows in a community, it sends a message that law and order has broken down, which encourages more crime. In NYC, where the theory was implemented, the police started going after the turnstile jumpers, and consequently, crime on the subways declined, because the people who jumped the turnstiles were more likely to commit crimes on the subways than people who actually paid to ride them.
I am glad you at least concede that I am a good person, though I will be the first to admit that I have many flaws, though they are more of a nature of being lazy, procrastinating and things like that.
I think religion can be a wonderful thing when it comes to empowering people to better their lives, whether it be kicking drugs and alcohol, turning away from a life of criminality and so forth. I am a practical man at heart. If it works for you, then more power to you. Where religion turns me off is that it promotes division in one's mental outlook. People who do not share your beliefs become at worst an enemy to be defeated, and at best a potential contaminant to be avoided. While religions like Christianity and Islam espouse a universality in that its adherents want all people to embrace their doctrines, such a thing will never actually happen, so they will forever see themselves in conflict with others. My universal worldview does not require all people to worship the same god or practice the same religion, but rather to permit them the freedom of those beliefs while all work together for the betterment of all.
Why don't I believe in God? To reiterate, I think that if there is a supreme being that created this vast and amazing universe, it so advanced and intelligent beyond our comprehension that it surely is above the narcissism and pettiness displayed by the God of the Old Testament. Whatever God there might be in the universe, I find it hard to believe that it is watching me and staring at the watch on its wrist and saying, "Thomas, every minute that runs by is one minute less that you have before you die without acknowledging me and being relegated to an eternity in flames!"
I have to cut this short now because my lunch break is over. To be honest, I was about to declare a hiatus on my blog for several months before I read your comments the other day, as it is consuming much of my precious time.
When I find the time to resume my blogging activities, I hope to change direction away from religion vs. atheism towards more practical goals such as working across ideological and religious lines to solve problems.
Thanks again, Tommy for taking the time to debate with me. I guess we'll just leave it at that because I want to be considerate of your time. I too have wanted to take a break because these discussion can lead to lengthy and time consuming conversations, but your comments got me going again. I often get snared back into intensive blogging, but I must stay focused, knowing time is precious and remembering that family must come first. I'll still keep posting on occasion so please contine to check in from time to time and drop a line when you can. Take care!ReplyDelete
>>"Or else everyone at the life and earth sciences departments at my university are all idiots"<<ReplyDelete
"Now that's the smartest thing you've said so far, Lui. I'm sure you fit right in!"
You're absolutely pathetic.
I no longer believe that Dani genuinely believes what she spouts. I used to think she was simply ignorant but that she genuinely believed the rubbish she spoke. No longer. I think she is a liar who cares more about what she would LIKE to be the case than what she knows, deep down, is the case (and deep down she MUST know what I'm talking about, because every time she has debated me on science, she has fallen back on arguments that a child would find wanting). She'll sink to any level of brazen stupidity - even when it's there for everyone to see - to keep her cherished myths alive, because she hasn't learned to deal with the world like an adult. This is desperation clutching for air, people. The next time Dani lashes out, you can be sure that it's a sign of how weak she herself thinks her opinions are, because if she had anything rational to say, she'd have said it by now. Instead, she tries to intimidate people with images of Christ on a cross, and talks about how God sees atheists as "fools". Yeah, really convincing, Dani. Notice how you always come back to these threats and images, even when they have been shown to be empty? A thoroughly contemptible mentality, through and through. We’re simply left arguing with her shell.ReplyDelete