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  #51  
Old 08-10-2003, 05:08 PM
Beryl_Mooncalf is offline
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Hinduism
-1,500 BCE -The Veda Ė 786 million -13% -(stable)
Sorry Diogenes, but I thought for a moment reincarnation was really working.
I think we should demand a recount, Florida style.
  #52  
Old 08-10-2003, 07:11 PM
Polycarp is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beryl_Mooncalf

Hinduism
-1,500 BCE -The Veda Ė 786 million -13% -(stable)
Sorry Diogenes, but I thought for a moment reincarnation was really working.
I think we should demand a recount, Florida style.
I gotta come to Diogenes' defense, Beryl -- that's only counting the ones who reincarnated as people!
  #53  
Old 08-10-2003, 07:37 PM
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250 million unicorns And elephant Maybeee... So Diogenes really does have the power.
  #54  
Old 08-10-2003, 08:08 PM
The Ryan is offline
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I certainly don't think that all Christians are unreasonable, but it does seem to be a widely prevelant characteristic. To be fair, though, it's not confined to them. And of course, the most unreasonable Christians are the ones I notice the most, so there's a selection bias. When I said "The implication of the term 'MSP' is that belief in God is no more valid than any other superstitution. The fact that Christians take such offense at this shows the unreasonableness of Christians", what I meant is that a Christian who takes offense at the implication that there is nothing special about their religion is exhibiting unreasonableness linked to Christianity, not that all Christians are unreasonable.
  #55  
Old 08-10-2003, 08:12 PM
Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Originally posted by Soup_du_jour
I would contend that reasonability has little or nothing to do with validity. The Hindus and Muslims cited (at least a great many of them) have reasons they believe the way they do.
I wasn't commenting on the reasonability of those beliefs, I was only rebutting the argument that a large number of believers lends any inherent proof that the belief is true.
  #56  
Old 08-10-2003, 08:24 PM
Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beryl_Mooncalf

Hinduism
-1,500 BCE -The Veda Ė 786 million -13% -(stable)
Sorry Diogenes, but I thought for a moment reincarnation was really working.
I think we should demand a recount, Florida style.
I think I confused the number of Hindus with the population of India (which is now over a billion). Obviously not all Indians are Hindus, though. Thanks for the correction. I don't really think it changes my point, though. 800 million people is still a lot of people (and it will be a billion soon enough) and they're not the only people who believe in reincarnation. If I throw in Buddhists, we get well over a billion folks who believe in reincarnation. The fact that a billion people believe it doesn't prove it's true. That was my point.

We can also flip the as populum around and point out that two thirds of the world is not Christian (and the population of Christians is shrinking while Islam grows). Does it prove anything about Christianity that two and out of three people reject it? Of course not. Popular belief simply doesn't prove anything either way.
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Old 08-11-2003, 07:24 AM
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Re: Re: Re: Just a Little Opinion of Mine about Athiesm/Christianity... First Time in GD


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Originally posted by JThunder
It's a way of attacking a caricature, rather than what Christians or theists actually espouse.
I am sorry to report some bad news: your mind reading seems to be a little bit off. To make your assertion true, wouldn't we have to assume some qualitative distinction between christian belief and all of the other belief systems out there? Christianity is just one more of the seemingly endless supernatural beliefs which has failed to produce compelling evidence. Why should it be set apart from any other? The pixie remark may be evocative language, but using evocative language as a rhetorical tool hardly qualifies as a sophomoric straw man.
  #58  
Old 08-11-2003, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
Given this, do you consider that I am operating on an irrational basis? I grant some parts of it are non-rational -- interpersonal dealings often are. But I am addressing the world on the basis of Ockhamic methodology -- accepting that as accurate description which most simply explains the phenomena under consideration and does not require assumptions beyond those necessary to explain them. [/B]
With respect, I think yes, you are operating irrationally. I contend that your interpretation does indeed require a huge assumption. That is, a belief in God. To the atheist or even agnostic, none of your worthy experiences would constitute any (let alone compelling) evidence that anything supernatural has been at work. There is no Ockhamic methodology in positing that a series of events or unusual circumstances can be explained by the deliberate intervention of an unseen, discretional force, at least in my understanding of Ockham's Razor (...that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known). Your argument appears only to be valid if you assume that 'existence of God' is already known. If you were to start with the assumption that 'the MSP exists' your conclusion may have been different.

As panache45 has so eloquently illustrated, history has seen the continual erosion of belief systems based on indoctrination and superstition. The evidence is that with time, real-world experience and intellectual reason, such systems are ultimately exposed for what they are. Atheists consider that if there weren't real-world communal and personal benefits, Christianity (and religions in general) would be slated to join the growing pile of flat-Earth myths. It is generally accepted (although not proven) there is no such thing as a Magical Sky Pixie, principally because the only evidence of their kind is in fictional tales, usually designed to entertain and instruct children in some proverbial manner. Real-world evidence is so far conspicuous by its absence. Using the term MSP as a synonym for God seems somewhat appropriate to the atheist.
  #59  
Old 08-11-2003, 09:32 AM
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Somnambulist, you are distinctly entitled to your opinion, but the point of my telling my story at length was to suggest a series of events (my own story) in which the persence and existence of a personal God was in fact a reasonable inference from the data at hand.

I do not propose from it, though it does remain my personal view, that the objective reading of my account suggests anything in particular about the characteristics of the aforementioned deity.

I completly concede that my own identification of that which I experienced with the deity of Christianity is in large measure my own presuppositions. I deny categorically your inference that it is therefore merely "superstition and indoctrination." I have reported it using the terms that I myself use in attempting to grasp it -- but feel free to substitute whatever you like for the phenomenological other of my admittedly subjective experience. I am prepared to analyze it skeptically -- but I am not prepared to make the presumption that "Because there are obviously no such things as Gods or personal conversion experiences, I must have experienced a self-delusion." That is as much begging the question as the reverse would be.
  #60  
Old 08-11-2003, 10:19 AM
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Polycarp:You must realize that when you ask atheists and skeptics to evaluate your anecdote, you are asking us to do so objectively and taking into account many likely explanations for what you experienced.Many of these rational explanations you yourself will not likely consider with the same objectivity as we will.For example:I know all to well that human beings are VERY capable of convincing themselves of a patent falsehood such as Martians attacking when all that has happened was a live radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre troupe.Despite the fact that not a single alien spacecraft had entered our atmosphere, eyewitnesses reported monuments and landmarks being "disintegrated" and neighbors being killed by martian death-rays and the like.

From MY perspective, it is FAR more likely that you, as a human whose mind I cannot read, have convinced yourself of the validity of a falsehood.If you can attempt falsification of these more rational hypotheses(i.e. delusion or that pesky belief mechanism at work for example) and are finally left with "God exists and I met him!" then yes, the inference would be warranted

As things stand, you have given us just another anecdote to which we must conclude there are a mutitude of rational and quite natural explanations.Even the hypothesis that [ b]Polycarp[/b] is LYING must bge considered as more rational than "Polycarp met God"(though I do not assume you are a liar...quite the contrary actually).
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  #61  
Old 08-11-2003, 10:41 AM
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Galileo and the catholic church


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An example is Galileo's assertion that the earth revolves around the sun. He proved his assertion, based on empirical evidence and reason. The religious powers-that-were rejected his ideas, not because of incorrect facts or faulty reasoning - they knew that he was empirically right - but because it contradicted their superstitious assumptions.
panache45, though I do agree with you in principle concerning the unwillingness of any church to accept scientific proof as soon as it seems to contradict belief (or the mainstream interpretaton of it), Galilei is not the best example for your point of view. First, it wasn't "his" assertion but part of the heliocentric theory that was developed by Copernicus (1473-1543) long before Galilei was born.

Some representatives of the catholic church had even shown some interest in the Copernican theory; cardinal Robert Bellarmine - the most important figure at Galilei's time in dealing with interpretations of the "Holy Scripture" - considered it an interesting mathematical theory to calculate the position of "heavenly bodies" in a much simpler way.

Over years Galilei and others argued in favour of Copernicus. Finally, some of Galilei's grudging colleagues informed the Inquisition about his heresy but still the church continued to simply watch the dispute.

It needed the Letter to the Grand Duchess in 1616 to change that. There, Galileo stated quite clearly that the Copernican theory is not just a mathematical calculating tool but a physical reality.

And he (at least) also hinted, that every other view of the world was simply wrong.

We do know now that Galilei was correct in many ways - but not in every way. His theory had its flaws and many proofs could still be interpreted rationally in a different way (at least in his time).

Whatever, Pope Paul V ordered cardinal Bellarmine to have the Sacred Congregation of the Index decide on the Copernican theory; they condemned it and Galilei was informed that he was forbidden to teach or write about it.

As far as we know he simply accepted the decision. When Maffeo Barberini, one of Galileos admirers, was elected as Pope Urban VIII, Galilei started to publish books about the heliocentric theory again - but not without asking for permission, as I should add.

When his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World - Ptolemaic and Copernican was published in 1632 he had only received permission from Florence, not Rome.

And Rome was not amused; the inquisition banned its sale and ordered Galileo to appear in Rome before them.

An illness made it impossible for Galilei to travel, so the Inquisition waited for him to arrive before them whenever he felt well enough to do so.

He didn't do that until 1633. Then the inquisition found him guilty of having breached the conditions laid down in 1616. His sentence was lifelong imprisonment. The church was so strict about that sentence that "house arrest" was considered an appropriate punishment - and that involved Galilei travelling through Italy to visit admirers and friends.

Galilei never was a martyr for science - and the church never really persecuted him (as she did with many other less fortunate scientists - to name just one: Giordano Bruno).

And Galilei was not as right as we tend to believe. His theory had many flaws: his main argument for a moving earth in his Dialogue, for example, is based on his theory of tides. Unfortunately, that theory was totally wrong (Kepler had already found the right explanation).

Another problem (from a modern scientific perspective) was Galileis tendency to boldly state that he alone was right and whoever didn't follow his argument was wrong.

That, of course, is as inquisitionary as one man can be.
  #62  
Old 08-11-2003, 11:23 AM
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Well to enlighten the discussion... some of the definitions from Ambrose Pierce's "The Devil's Dictionary":

SCRIPTURES, n.
The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.

CHRISTIAN, n.
One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

FAITH, n.
Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

RELIGION, n.
A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

PRAY, v.
To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

To be fair...

REASON, v.i.
To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.

LOGIC, n.
The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion -- thus:

Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.

Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore --

Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.

This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.

CYNIC, n.
A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
  #63  
Old 08-11-2003, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
The point of my telling my story at length was to suggest a series of events (my own story) in which the presence and existence of a personal God was in fact a reasonable inference from the data at hand.
Well, I think that's the whole nub of the matter right there. What makes you think that the presence and existence of God was a "reasonable inference" from the data at hand? Why is it more reasonable to assume that you had communion with the creator of the universe and not, say, a telepathic alien from the planet Mongo or the aforementioned Magic Pixie in the Sky? For that matter, why is it more reasonable to assume that you had communion with the creator of the universe and not that you were simply deluded, suffering from wishful thinking, or otherwise misinterpreted the events?

I don't doubt that there are things in this life that may be difficult (perhaps even impossible) to ever fully explain. But it always seems like such a leap to me when people have to ascribe these experiences to a "supreme being." At the very least, it seems a bit presumptious of people, but it also seems to be assuming the most far-fetched explanation possible.

Regards,

Barry
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  #64  
Old 08-11-2003, 06:26 PM
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Hi, Barry.

Would it seem reasonable to suggest you change your nick to MingFromMongoZillaTemple, in that case?

In all seriousness, my attribution of the identity of the Personage encountered is, of course, up in the air, from any objective view -- with the obvious skeptical presumption being that it was indeed my own subconscious playing tricks on me. My strong impression was that it was indeed God, and further, the God of the Gospels, but I concur that that may have a lot to do with a Christian upbringing. I certainly did not have him fill out a profile questionnaire! -- "1. Did you at any time create the Universe? 2. What's the story about this Flood legend? ..."

My purposes in describing the account and its consequences are:
1. To submit the account to rational scrutiny of a skeptical nature, and
2. To document why I accept it prima facie and not the work of my subconscious -- What happened to me was not something that I wanted, going into it. And while in retrospect I am extraordinarily glad it all happened, to attribute to my subconscious the foreknowledge that I would in future encounter someone who would "unlock" me seems to me significantly less probable than a theophany. There are, after all, non-legendary accounts of people who have claimed to have had the latter, while there is no documented evidence of that kind of detailed foreknowledge.

I'm willing to try to answer questions with regard to the incident, with these caveats:
1. I personally assume the incident to be an encounter with the Christian God, for reasons I'll get into. However, for purposes of this discussion, let's make no presumptions. The entity did not claim creatorship to me; therefore, to identify it as such is inference, not direct evidence.
2. All metaphysics, including the default zero-base one, are tabled. Whether Joe Christian believes out of fear or Jonah is fable have nothing to do with this -- I dislike superstition as much as the next guy. What I want to do here is examine a faith-producing conversion experience as rationally as possible -- and your assumption that it must have been my subconscious because God is a myth is as far out of court as the classic "use the Bible to prove the Bible" argument.
3. I have noted myself doing a touch of confabulation in retelling this. I will attempt to give as accurate and objective answers as possible -- but I do note that that problem is present.
  #65  
Old 08-11-2003, 10:28 PM
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Polycarp:

I'm willing to try to answer questions with regard to the incident, with these caveats:
1. I personally assume the incident to be an encounter with the Christian God, for reasons I'll get into. However, for purposes of this discussion, let's make no presumptions. The entity did not claim creatorship to me; therefore, to identify it as such is inference, not direct evidence.
2. All metaphysics, including the default zero-base one, are tabled. Whether Joe Christian believes out of fear or Jonah is fable have nothing to do with this -- I dislike superstition as much as the next guy. What I want to do here is examine a faith-producing conversion experience as rationally as possible -- and your assumption that it must have been my subconscious because God is a myth is as far out of court as the classic "use the Bible to prove the Bible" argument.
3. I have noted myself doing a touch of confabulation in retelling this. I will attempt to give as accurate and objective answers as possible -- but I do note that that problem is present.


All right Iím game, can you start by stating which parts of your story are confabulation?

I was raised to respect the ability of the sciences to describe and interpret natural phenomena and enable us to learn new ways to do things. My parents were firm rationalists. My aunt early encouraged my enjoyment of science fiction and its ability to evoke a sense of wonder while remaining within the realm of possibility under natural law. I was baptized and raised a Methodist with the idea that God works through the world He made and the laws He laid down for its operation.

Sounds as though you were destined to be face internal conflict when science and religion give different answers.

When I was about 15, I began having doubts about the sorts of stuff I was being fed in church. So, alone in the balcony area at church, I prayed what I call the Skeptic's Prayer, essentially, "O God, if there is a God, give me some sort of sign that you're real." And I immediately got a sense of inner assurance , and within a few moments, the congregation began singing "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."

Not exactly a bolt of lightning is it? I would suggest that church perhaps isnít the best place for your ďskeptics prayerĒ as the odds of the congregation singing your song or something with words you would have attributed as equally meaningful is probably 1 in perhaps 2? If we allow for the likelihood that you made your prayer more than once, then a meaningful song following shortly after one of them becomes an almost certainty. As for the inner assurance, maybe you felt it, and it is about as meaningful as the inner assurance a compulsive gambler feels after he places a bet on a pony. Maybe you didnít even feel it but subconsously inserted it into your memory at a later date as you didnít think the song part was strong enough evidence on itís own. Would you agree that it is widely known that memories are fuzzy things and often subjective?

That satisfied my intellectual doubts. I believed -- accepted -- that God existed

That sounds way too easy for me. Donít you think that the ease of your satisfaction at least suggests a predisposition to wanting to believe in god?

I married and my wife and I, seeking a more liturgical and Eucharistically oriented expression of faith, joined the Episcopal Church. One key element in this decision was that the first time we entered the particular parish church we converted at, she had a classic deja vu experience -- the building's layout and ritual matched a dream she had had.

Again we have the subjective memory which could easily fit the dream to the church combined with the fact that many churches look alike and many services are similar; stand, sit, sing, pray, light candles, listen to sermon, etc. Visit enough churches and you will likely find one resembling the generic one your wife had in a dream.

22 years ago, she and I enrolled in Lay Theological Education by Extension, a program offered by the University of the South where parish clergy are trained as mentors and laymen enrolling receive the quivalent of 1.5 years of seminary training spread over a four year span.

You realize that the theory of cognitive dissonance suggests that the more time and effort one puts into a concept the harder it will be for them to accept that the concept may not be true and as such will reinterpret their objective conflicting experience so as to make it align with their held beliefs. Otherwise they would feel stupid for having put so much time and effort into an erroneous concept. Do you accept this?

In the course of this, in a session dealing with the bizarreries Paul addresses in his letters to the Corinthians, I encountered God in a Person-to-person way, and found my belief changed from intellectual credence that to placing one's trust in.

Well, Iíll leave alone the fact that you stated you donít really put your trust what Paul wrote in the bible. However this person-to-person encounter with god; how did he introduce himself, what did he say, what did he look like?

Sheer honesty has caused me to examine that experience skeptically. But it was certainly nothing I had expected, hoped for, or even would have desired.

Are you sure that you wouldnít have desired the above? Donít you feel at least a little special knowing that god would take time out of running the universe to have a person-to-person encounter with you? I just canít imagine that there would be no selfish component to this experience.

And that led to some serious changes in our lives, the seeking out for more vibrant faith experiences, and an awakening to the underlying message of the Bible, to which I had been quite blind.

That message being, praise me or suffer the consequences.

Seven years after that I had a heart attack and cardiac bypass surgery. And the reading that I had been scheduled to do the day I had the surgery, which my wife read aloud in my place, was Ezekiel 36:24-28: "I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. I will take away your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit within you." I was supposed to read it; instead, I experienced it.

See but this isnít really that great of a fit either though is it. Prior to the surgery did you really have a heart of stone? After all you had met person to person with god before that and had already been awakened to the underlying message to the bible right? Plus you didnít get a new heart, (perhaps if it were a transplant it would be a better fit) but rather got some additional plumbing added to it to help the circulation. The myocardial cells killed in the infarction are still dead are they not? Also my concordance of the bible has shows the word ďheartĒ listed over 800 times making the chances of reading a passage containing it less than astronomically against.

And the only accurate description of what happened between the last-named boy, the best friend, and me, is that we fell in love. In a very Platonic, non-sexual way, to be sure, but in every other way the epitome of a one-on-one need-him, movie love affair.

I fail to see how you falling in love with a boy is evidence for the existence of god?

And what we discovered as we explored what this relationship meant was that we each were given the gifts necessary to reach out and heal the hurts in the other. The hurt and anger that his broken and self-centered family had caused him, and the locking away of my emotions, were things each of us had the talent to fix in the other. And, quite literally, we grew to be able to read each other's thoughts, and I found myself equipped with the right words to say to him, without conscious thought, in a very mystical, Marcan way. And I have seen him and his love as one of God's great gifts to me.

Lots of people have friends, even really good friends and I still donít see this as evidence for the supernatural. Rather that people tend to like those who can help them with their selfish needs and if it is a mutual benefit then all the better. Richard Dawkins could explain this quite well without having to resort to the supernatural.

This in turn led to a healing of my own marriage, an ability to show and be shown love between me and my wife that had not been there before (she'd had much the same hide-your-feelings upbringing). And together we were able to help that boy and his wife through the inevitable rocky road that the first few years of marriage often bring

So then you guys are now living your lives all happily ever after? No more rocks in the road?

-- in a bit of inevitable irony, he married the sister of the boy whose homelessness had started this whole train of events -- who, in turn, first dated the boy who loved me's sister and then married their cousin.

You would suggest that a boy marrying a girl with whom he was acquainted is a miracle?

And we all see God's hand at work in causing this sequence of events, and working through the free will and personalities of the participants to everyone's greater good.

I would suggest godís hand here would interfere with free will but thatís another topic.

Now, it is quite possible to see all of the above as a series of chance events, to interpret it phenomenologically without reference to God. But I consider that He has demonstrated His existence and goodwill adequately to me to take my experiences of Him at face value, as really what they purport to be, and not as self-delusional wish-fulfillment -- particularly since insofar as I can tell, I had absolutely no desire, either consciously or subconsciously, to be drawn out of the comfortable barriacades where I dealt with the world intellectually and did not have to risk emotional bruising.

How could you know what your subconscious desires are? I donít know you personally but from what I gather from your postings is that you are on the far side of middle age, of less than ideal health, and reported having financial troubles suggesting a less than ideal retirement. Can you honestly say that accepting the scenario I listed excluding the supernatural would be less comfortable and desirable than believing that you were personally contacted by god to spread his word and that regardless of your past and future earthly troubles, eternal paradise awaits?

Given this, do you consider that I am operating on an irrational basis?

Yes. Rational behavior, IMO, would be spend your time saving a nest egg and exercising to strengthen your cardiovascular system rather than typing on the internet about pixies in the sky.

But I am addressing the world on the basis of Ockhamic methodology -- accepting that as accurate description which most simply explains the phenomena under consideration and does not require assumptions beyond those necessary to explain them.

Are you sure about that?
  #66  
Old 08-12-2003, 08:39 AM
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Polycarp: I'm not about to dissect your story and attempt to point out the possible "rational" explanations for what you experienced. Not only wasn't I there (so I can't verify that what you claimed happened is what actually happened), but we all know how subjective these sorts of experiences are.

Instead, I will once again address your statement that you are "addressing the world on the basis of Ockhamic methodology -- accepting that as accurate description which most simply explains the phenomena under consideration and does not require assumptions beyond those necessary to explain them."

The supernatural is never the "simplest explanation" for anything, since it requires a whole slew of underlying assumptions that contradict known scientific principles. In order to accept that God is the author of your experiences, you need to first accept that the universe was created by an intangible being of infinite power. You need to accept that this being has a special interest in mankind (and not simply an impersonal force who created the universe and then left it alone). You need to accept that he gave conflicting accounts to various people, and did nothing to correct those mistakes. You need to accept that the majority of the world's population does not agree with your beliefs. You need to accept that God then decided to speak to you personally, while at the same time ignoring many other people's please to be heard.

Could all that be true? Certainly. Is it the most likely explanation that simply explains the phenomena under consideration without requiring additional assumptions to explain them? In a word, no. Not even remotely. Coincidence, self-delusion and mental illness are all possibilities that do a better job of explaning the phenomena without requiring additional assumptions. Again, this does not prove that you expereinced a series of coincidences, that you are self-deluded, or that you suffer from mental illness. But all those possibilities are far more likely than the assumption that you had a personal visit from God.

What it boils down to, and this is a point I made in another thread recently, is that God's existence is simply the explanation with which you feel most comfortable.

Regards,

Barry
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  #67  
Old 08-12-2003, 08:45 AM
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  #68  
Old 08-12-2003, 08:47 AM
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Originally posted by Kalhoun
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  #69  
Old 08-12-2003, 08:56 AM
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godzilla temple, I think I think as clearly as you...I just have trouble matching your clarity of expression.

I enjoy reading your posts!
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:57 AM
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Same here. It sounds so much BETTER when YOU think it!
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:58 AM
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Aw shucks, guys! I'd post the little "embarrassed" emoticon, except that it looks too much like a yawning orange....
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Old 08-12-2003, 09:16 AM
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I recommend the 'cool' emoticon. It fits your style perfectly.

Now, before this becomes a godzillatemple-lovefest, can we return to a discussion of Polycarp's brief chats with the Divine?
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Old 08-12-2003, 09:31 AM
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Well, if nothing else, you guys have given me some quotes to stick in my sig line...

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"godzillatemple, I think I think as clearly as you...I just have trouble matching your clarity of expression." - Somnambulist

"Same here. It sounds so much BETTER when YOU think it!" - Kalhoun
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Old 08-12-2003, 09:34 AM
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All I can say is that I agree with Godzillatemple. The easiest explanation is anything BUT divine intervention. It always baffles me when people attribute the good things in their life to the supernatural, but never the bad stuff. And why wouldn't someone want to take credit for their own good fortune? You work hard, you treat people well, generally your life gets better. Sometimes not, but I don't go blaming my bad fortune on god.

Personal growth happens to everyone. There was a time when sitting around with a bunch of losers getting high was appealing. Not so anymore. It's called "growing up". Falling in love (and growing within that relationship) happens all the time. That's just part of life.
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Old 08-12-2003, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by badchad
Polycarp:

I'm willing to try to answer questions with regard to the incident, with these caveats:
1. I personally assume the incident to be an encounter with the Christian God, for reasons I'll get into. However, for purposes of this discussion, let's make no presumptions. The entity did not claim creatorship to me; therefore, to identify it as such is inference, not direct evidence.
2. All metaphysics, including the default zero-base one, are tabled. Whether Joe Christian believes out of fear or Jonah is fable have nothing to do with this -- I dislike superstition as much as the next guy. What I want to do here is examine a faith-producing conversion experience as rationally as possible -- and your assumption that it must have been my subconscious because God is a myth is as far out of court as the classic "use the Bible to prove the Bible" argument.
3. I have noted myself doing a touch of confabulation in retelling this. I will attempt to give as accurate and objective answers as possible -- but I do note that that problem is present.


All right Iím game, can you start by stating which parts of your story are confabulation?
No. I'll try to isolate them out, and of course not report them. But that was a honest warning that I recognize that confab. happens, and saw elements of it occurring -- particularly in the memories of the theophany at the LTEE class. I intend to be as ruthlessly honest with myself as possible -- but it's in the nature of confab. that memories are not always totally reliable. That's all I was saying.

Quote:
I was raised to respect the ability of the sciences to describe and interpret natural phenomena and enable us to learn new ways to do things. My parents were firm rationalists. My aunt early encouraged my enjoyment of science fiction and its ability to evoke a sense of wonder while remaining within the realm of possibility under natural law. I was baptized and raised a Methodist with the idea that God works through the world He made and the laws He laid down for its operation.

Sounds as though you were destined to be face internal conflict when science and religion give different answers.
Honestly, I don't see it that way. Because IMHO they're addressing quite separate aspects of the human experience. Stephen Jay Gould's essay on "non-overlapping magisteria" might help explain that a bit more clearly than I can.

Quote:
When I was about 15, I began having doubts about the sorts of stuff I was being fed in church. So, alone in the balcony area at church, I prayed what I call the Skeptic's Prayer, essentially, "O God, if there is a God, give me some sort of sign that you're real." And I immediately got a sense of inner assurance , and within a few moments, the congregation began singing "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."

Not exactly a bolt of lightning is it? I would suggest that church perhaps isnít the best place for your ďskeptics prayerĒ as the odds of the congregation singing your song or something with words you would have attributed as equally meaningful is probably 1 in perhaps 2? If we allow for the likelihood that you made your prayer more than once, then a meaningful song following shortly after one of them becomes an almost certainty. As for the inner assurance, maybe you felt it, and it is about as meaningful as the inner assurance a compulsive gambler feels after he places a bet on a pony. Maybe you didnít even feel it but subconsously inserted it into your memory at a later date as you didnít think the song part was strong enough evidence on itís own. Would you agree that it is widely known that memories are fuzzy things and often subjective?
It was the inner assurance, not the song, which validated the experience to me -- the song was just "reinforcement. While I agree with your final question (see first response above), and with your point that the inner assurance was hardly objective evidence -- I am, after all, reporting my own experience, not a carefully crafted objective proof of God's existence -- I do disagre with your next to last sentence, on the basis of (a) the clarity of my recollection of the event and (b) its rather subjective mundanity. It's not as though I prayed and an angel appeared bearing golden dinnerware ( -- kid prays, gets inner sense of assurance. Kind of bland as miracles go, right?

Quote:
That satisfied my intellectual doubts. I believed -- accepted -- that God existed

That sounds way too easy for me. Donít you think that the ease of your satisfaction at least suggests a predisposition to wanting to believe in god?
Yep. No argument at all -- I fully admit to a Jamesian "will to believe." Rod Stewart's song strikes a chord in me.

Quote:
I married and my wife and I, seeking a more liturgical and Eucharistically oriented expression of faith, joined the Episcopal Church. One key element in this decision was that the first time we entered the particular parish church we converted at, she had a classic deja vu experience -- the building's layout and ritual matched a dream she had had.

Again we have the subjective memory which could easily fit the dream to the church combined with the fact that many churches look alike and many services are similar; stand, sit, sing, pray, light candles, listen to sermon, etc. Visit enough churches and you will likely find one resembling the generic one your wife had in a dream.
Again no argument. I find deja vu experiences intriguing but would hesitate to hang a theory on them -- there have been threads discussing the psychology behind them, if you care to search them out. Again, I'm reporting an incident. Do Barb and I think that was a sign that God led us there? Yes. Do I expect anybody else to buy that? Not in the slightest.

Quote:
22 years ago, she and I enrolled in Lay Theological Education by Extension, a program offered by the University of the South where parish clergy are trained as mentors and laymen enrolling receive the quivalent of 1.5 years of seminary training spread over a four year span.

You realize that the theory of cognitive dissonance suggests that the more time and effort one puts into a concept the harder it will be for them to accept that the concept may not be true and as such will reinterpret their objective conflicting experience so as to make it align with their held beliefs. Otherwise they would feel stupid for having put so much time and effort into an erroneous concept. Do you accept this?
Yes. Interestingly, while I had no problem with the Biblical criticism and schools of theology covered, it was unnerving to Barb's at-that-time-naive faith. (FWIW, LTEE covers modern "higher criticism" and a wide variety of theological thought, not merely orthodoxy.)

Quote:
In the course of this, in a session dealing with the bizarreries Paul addresses in his letters to the Corinthians, I encountered God in a Person-to-person way, and found my belief changed from intellectual credence that to placing one's trust in.

Well, Iíll leave alone the fact that you stated you donít really put your trust what Paul wrote in the bible. However this person-to-person encounter with god; how did he introduce himself, what did he say, what did he look like?
It was a sense of a Presence, one of immense power and a feeling of unquestioning, unconditional love. I got the distinct sense that this was the God of Christianity, but how much of that was from Him and how much of it was me interpreting it is highly debatable (even adopting the presumption that this was "real" as opposed to merely my own delusional imaginings). There was no visual, Apparition sort of event, nor did I "hear" anything -- but I came away from it convinced that He wanted a personal relationship with me and that I was supposed to be following His will. That seemed to be impressed on me, but may well be my impressions of "what you're supposed to have happen in a conversion experience." That, in other words, may well be confabulated -- but it was a relatively immediate result.

Quote:
Sheer honesty has caused me to examine that experience skeptically. But it was certainly nothing I had expected, hoped for, or even would have desired.

Are you sure that you wouldnít have desired the above? Donít you feel at least a little special knowing that god would take time out of running the universe to have a person-to-person encounter with you? I just canít imagine that there would be no selfish component to this experience.
Traditional theology suggests that omniscience has time to notice everything -- even what's going through the minds of the folks reading this little exchange between you and me. And yeah, my ego was boosted by having a one-on-one with Him, no doubt. What I meant by that last italicized sentence, though, was that I was quite content with an intellectual, "head knowledge" belief, and to a certain extent looked down on conversion experiences as emotional, subjective stuff that was just plain not my cup of tea. Revivals and emotional "Oh, praise Jesus" stuff were distasteful to me.

Quote:
And that led to some serious changes in our lives, the seeking out for more vibrant faith experiences, and an awakening to the underlying message of the Bible, to which I had been quite blind.

That message being, praise me or suffer the consequences.
No, that's the Svt4Him take on it, and misreprsented at that. You're talking pre-nuptial agreements, and I'm talking falling in love. (This would be a good place to apologize for not yet having fulfilled my end of the bargain -- I fully intend to, but have not figured out how to address the disjunct between your conceptions of my apparent (to you) inconsistencies, and my clear grasp of what it is God expects of me as regards the issues you've challenged.)

Quote:
Seven years after that I had a heart attack and cardiac bypass surgery. And the reading that I had been scheduled to do the day I had the surgery, which my wife read aloud in my place, was Ezekiel 36:24-28: "I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. I will take away your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit within you." I was supposed to read it; instead, I experienced it.

See but this isnít really that great of a fit either though is it. Prior to the surgery did you really have a heart of stone? After all you had met person to person with god before that and had already been awakened to the underlying message to the bible right? Plus you didnít get a new heart, (perhaps if it were a transplant it would be a better fit) but rather got some additional plumbing added to it to help the circulation. The myocardial cells killed in the infarction are still dead are they not? Also my concordance of the bible has shows the word ďheartĒ listed over 800 times making the chances of reading a passage containing it less than astronomically against.
Quite true. But "one time is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action." The 95% plaque buildup will do for "heart of stone," IMHO. And the sense that it was a clear message to me was there. This one is, quite frankly, me reading into the coincidental events a sense of God's hand at work -- without the other events working out a pattern, it's one of those "you can make it read whatever you want it to read" events. The "new spirit" part gets worked out in the ensuing unlocking of my emotions.

Quote:
And the only accurate description of what happened between the last-named boy, the best friend, and me, is that we fell in love. In a very Platonic, non-sexual way, to be sure, but in every other way the epitome of a one-on-one need-him, movie love affair.

I fail to see how you falling in love with a boy is evidence for the existence of god?

And what we discovered as we explored what this relationship meant was that we each were given the gifts necessary to reach out and heal the hurts in the other. The hurt and anger that his broken and self-centered family had caused him, and the locking away of my emotions, were things each of us had the talent to fix in the other. And, quite literally, we grew to be able to read each other's thoughts, and I found myself equipped with the right words to say to him, without conscious thought, in a very mystical, Marcan way. And I have seen him and his love as one of God's great gifts to me.

Lots of people have friends, even really good friends and I still donít see this as evidence for the supernatural. Rather that people tend to like those who can help them with their selfish needs and if it is a mutual benefit then all the better. Richard Dawkins could explain this quite well without having to resort to the supernatural.
That's Richard Dawkins' problem. *I* see it as God having put me and the kid in each others' paths, having run us each through a bunch of changes, life experiences, that equipped us to minister to the other for the healing of our spirits. You're more than welcome not to.

Quote:
This in turn led to a healing of my own marriage, an ability to show and be shown love between me and my wife that had not been there before (she'd had much the same hide-your-feelings upbringing). And together we were able to help that boy and his wife through the inevitable rocky road that the first few years of marriage often bring

So then you guys are now living your lives all happily ever after? No more rocks in the road?
No, everybody has issues to work through, and we're no excptions. But for both couples there's an emotional bond there that's solid. Draw the difference between progress towards a goal and finally reaching it, if you will, that something may not quite achieve the latter doesn't mean it's not the former.

Quote:
-- in a bit of inevitable irony, he married the sister of the boy whose homelessness had started this whole train of events -- who, in turn, first dated the boy who loved me's sister and then married their cousin.

You would suggest that a boy marrying a girl with whom he was acquainted is a miracle?
Hell no -- it's an amusing set of details connected with the story.

Quote:
Now, it is quite possible to see all of the above as a series of chance events, to interpret it phenomenologically without reference to God. But I consider that He has demonstrated His existence and goodwill adequately to me to take my experiences of Him at face value, as really what they purport to be, and not as self-delusional wish-fulfillment -- particularly since insofar as I can tell, I had absolutely no desire, either consciously or subconsciously, to be drawn out of the comfortable barriacades where I dealt with the world intellectually and did not have to risk emotional bruising.

How could you know what your subconscious desires are? I donít know you personally but from what I gather from your postings is that you are on the far side of middle age, of less than ideal health, and reported having financial troubles suggesting a less than ideal retirement. Can you honestly say that accepting the scenario I listed excluding the supernatural would be less comfortable and desirable than believing that you were personally contacted by god to spread his word and that regardless of your past and future earthly troubles, eternal paradise awaits?
1. Self-examination. 2. I'm doing what all Christians are called to do. 3. Eternal paradize is not somthing I'm concerned about -- I'm doing what I believe I'm supposed to, here and now. 4. "'Twas grace hath kept us safe thus far...."

Quote:
Given this, do you consider that I am operating on an irrational basis?

Yes. Rational behavior, IMO, would be spend your time saving a nest egg and exercising to strengthen your cardiovascular system rather than typing on the internet about pixies in the sky.
If anything deserved a tu quoque...!

Quote:
But I am addressing the world on the basis of Ockhamic methodology -- accepting that as accurate description which most simply explains the phenomena under consideration and does not require assumptions beyond those necessary to explain them.

Are you sure about that?
Yes.
  #76  
Old 08-12-2003, 11:39 AM
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Polycarp, anyone who knows people with different believes will hear a story like yours from time to time - especially if they do know you don't share their view.

I know a moslem who survived a severe accident in the Alps despite having all the odds very much against him: bad weather, stuck in a crevice (so no-one could have normally seen him), some fractures including the jaw (so he was unable to shout for help) and so on - well, it won't surprise you that he is absolutely sure, it was his faith in Allah (and his prayers) that saved him (and he will never cease to tell others about it).

A Hindu business partner made a fortune despite being born as the tenth child of poor "slum dwellers" (as he calls them) - guess who made him rich? Right, not the christian god.

Other people will tell you that they actually have met their deity (and that's invariably the reason why they are now what they are: better humans, husbands, fathers, friends etc.), yet.. - that deity is only identified as the christian god if you talk to someone who knows and cares about him; if not, it might be Allah or Shiva or whatever the deity is called.

If I assume that no-one is deliberately lying to me (and I'm willing to do so, as long as I don't have evidence against that thesis), I have to conclude that not all of them can be right in their explanation for their experience.

I doubt I could ever know enough of the circumstances to be sure what the reason is behind every single experience - but that people who believe in some religion always tend to explain it in favour of their particular believe is an argument against the validity of subjective experience as a proof or even as an argument for that specific deity.

The multitude of religions and the devotion of their followers makes every single religion less believable.

And the reality of the improbable makes any experience of a weird nature insignificant as proof for anything else but the old truth that such things happen - not all the time, or it wouldn't be improbable, but sometimes.

The larger the quantity and the more time you have to observe their behaviour, the more probable the improbable gets.
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Old 08-12-2003, 11:42 AM
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Sorry, I should check my spelling.
  #78  
Old 08-12-2003, 12:00 PM
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Remember, folks: the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.

The plural of 'experience' is not 'reasoned argument'.
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Old 08-12-2003, 12:07 PM
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You're right; not all of their -- our -- explanations can be right. But I think C.S. Lewis and J.B. Phillips had the answer to this -- any God worth the name is not limited to what our comprehensions of Him describe Him as. Presuming there is a God, He is greater than all definitions of Him could ever be.
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Old 08-12-2003, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TVAA
Remember, folks: the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.

The plural of 'experience' is not 'reasoned argument'.
In fairness to polycarp, I don't think he was trying to prove anything to anybody. He was simply attempting to show why his decision to believe in God was a rational one. His attempt failed, IMO, but he wasn't trying to use his anecdotal experience as any sort of "data."

Hmmmm... I just noticed that changes to one's sig line are retroactively effective. Go figure!

Barry
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Old 08-12-2003, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
It was a sense of a Presence, one of immense power and a feeling of unquestioning, unconditional love. I got the distinct sense that this was the God of Christianity, but how much of that was from Him and how much of it was me interpreting it is highly debatable (even adopting the presumption that this was "real" as opposed to merely my own delusional imaginings). There was no visual, Apparition sort of event, nor did I "hear" anything -- but I came away from it convinced that He wanted a personal relationship with me and that I was supposed to be following His will. That seemed to be impressed on me, but may well be my impressions of "what you're supposed to have happen in a conversion experience." That, in other words, may well be confabulated -- but it was a relatively immediate result.
How is this even remotely a "person-to-person" meeting with God? You felt a presence? The only way I can see that qualifying as "person-to-person" is if you mean yourself in both instances of "person".

What were you doing when you felt this presence?
  #82  
Old 08-12-2003, 12:20 PM
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godzillatemple

Quote:
What it boils down to, and this is a point I made in another thread recently,
is that God's existence is simply the explanation with which you feel
most comfortable.
Hello godzillatemple

Sometimes a very general question is harder to answer than a focused one, but if you will I would like you to address the following question. Let me ask (in a friendly way), is this matter, regarding the thread
Just a Little Opinion of Mine about Atheist/Christianity (the OP) now dividing along these line of support.

Side A, There is a God, (because I believe there is)

Side B, There is no God,(because I find no viable evidence to, and/or scientific facts do not, support such existence).

I'm a little confused at the direction the thread has taken as it appears to be (and I know there is no disrespect intended) aimed at a particular person who is willing to express himself here.

Thanks godzillatemple for your time.
  #83  
Old 08-12-2003, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beryl_Mooncalf
Side A, There is a God, (because I believe there is)

Side B, There is no God,(because I find no viable evidence to, and/or scientific facts do not, support such existence).
I know you were asking godzillatemple for a reply, but I felt I should interject that I'm:

Side C, The existance or non-existance of God is unknowable, and of course there can be no scientific evidence thereof (and therefore I do not spend time worshipping this unknowable being).

I'd be perfectly happy to have Polycarp prove me wrong, but I find his "evidence" totally unrelated to my definition of evidence.

Feel free to pray for my soul, it's no skin off my back.
  #84  
Old 08-12-2003, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beryl_Mooncalf
Hello godzillatemple

Sometimes a very general question is harder to answer than a focused one, but if you will I would like you to address the following question. Let me ask (in a friendly way), is this matter, regarding the thread
Just a Little Opinion of Mine about Atheist/Christianity (the OP) now dividing along these line of support.

Side A, There is a God, (because I believe there is)

Side B, There is no God,(because I find no viable evidence to, and/or scientific facts do not, support such existence).

I'm a little confused at the direction the thread has taken as it appears to be (and I know there is no disrespect intended) aimed at a particular person who is willing to express himself here.

Thanks godzillatemple for your time. [/B]
Hello, Beryl_Mooncalf!

I'm afraid that I'm not sure what your question actually is. If you're simply wondering how this thread has devolved away from it's original topic and now seems to be focused on polycarp, I think it's because (a) the OP was pretty much answered back on the first page, and (b) polycarp chose to give a detailed account of the experiences that led to his conversion and invited people to comment.

Personally, I have tried very hard to be respectful of polycarp's beliefs, while at the same time stating that I do not agree with him. And I think that is in line with the OP, which asked why non-believers seem to be condenscending to those who do believe.

As for the current focus of this thread, I don't really think it's a matter of whether there is a God or not. Instead, it's whether it's rational to believe in God's existence (rather than, say, a magical pixie in the sky) as a way of explaining the phenomena that certain people have experienced.

I personally feel that there is a perfectly valid, albeit non-rational, reason to believe in the existence of God -- it can bring one great comfort in times of need and distress, and can inspire one to become a better person. But at the same time, however, I think any honest skeptic needs to admit that this is the fundamental reason they believe in God, and not try to come up with any logical justifications for that belief. They don't believe in God because of a deep feeling they had, for example; they believe in God because they choose to ascribe that feeling as coming from God instead of some other, more rational, explanation.

Regards,

Barry
  #85  
Old 08-12-2003, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by godzillatemple
In fairness to polycarp, I don't think he was trying to prove anything to anybody. He was simply attempting to show why his decision to believe in God was a rational one.
These two sentences contradict each other. Was Polycarp trying to demonstrate that his decision was rational, or wasn't he?

If he was, the first sentence is wrong. If he wasn't, the second sentence is wrong.
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Old 08-12-2003, 12:44 PM
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Hmmmm... Let me rephrase.

He wasn't trying to prove the existence of God to anybody. He was merely trying to prove that his decision to believe in God was a rational one, given his experiences.

Better?
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Old 08-12-2003, 01:25 PM
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Jharmon, YOU STOLE MY POST! Everyone always forgets about the elusive "Option C", which in my opinion is the only option that makes any sense.
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Old 08-12-2003, 02:05 PM
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Originally posted by Kalhoun
Jharmon, YOU STOLE MY POST! Everyone always forgets about the elusive "Option C", which in my opinion is the only option that makes any sense.
Precisely. And that's why my seeming hijack -- because (IMHO) my own particular, and subjective, experiences make the acceptance of a God in roughly the traditional Orthodox/Anglican understanding of Him the reasonable conclusion. Given that, say, Gaudere has not had my epxerineces (but rather a dream involving a medusa), her choice not to believ is the reasonable one for her, unless she should be convinced by authority or testimony of others that the evidence they present makes God more likely than His absence. And that still will not be "believing in" Him, but rather where I was before my conversion expriences, believing that He exists. (That word "believe" is a tricky little sucker.)
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Old 08-12-2003, 02:23 PM
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To:
godzillatemple,
Diogenes the Cynic
GodlessSkeptic
ThoM
TVAA
badchad
jharmon
Kalhoun
(and others I.m sure)
And Of course, Polycarp.

All of you have earned my respect for your respectfully, intellectually, responses to what appears to be the minority opinion here. I find it commendable that each of you are cognizant of the rights of others as evidenced by your respectful responses. I hope this becomes the norm. I have modified my previous question, at least mentally, by adding the ďoption CĒ as requested.

I have thought the better of making a point for a day or two, but I believe that there is a simple fact, one that is quite possibly fatal to the critical position of God's existence, that can be made. My problem is where to put the ďrational basisĒ argument that godzillatemple has returned. I guess I have option ďDĒ now.

Side A, There is a God, (because I believe God exists)
Modified per Polycarp's last post

Side B, There is no God,(because I find no viable evidence to, and/or scientific facts do not, support such existence).

Side C, The existence or non-existence of God is unknowable, and of course there can be no scientific evidence thereof (and therefore I do not spend time worshipping this unknowable being).
(Thank you jharmon, for the option)

and

Side D, Rational basis for belief. A relative of option C probably, but it will stand alone

If the standard of proof is universally understood here, to be clear and convincing, or such that even the most skeptical person would agree that the evidence has changes their mind. Then there is a flaw in the side of those who are critical of Godís existence.
(from the evidentiary point that is)

Proof of a negative fact, such as ďThere are no flying saucersĒ is impossible. I could bring a flying saucer before you and allow you to examine it, thereby proving they exist, but what could I bring before you to disprove they exist. Therefore, the possibility of Flying saucers existing remains until one appears, and proves, that they exist. If one never appears, it changes nothing, as the possibility still exists that one could appear somewhere, somehow.

If something exists, the possibility of proving it exists remains until it is proven.
If it does not exist, the possibility of proving it, likewise does not exist. The problem with backing a position that is against a physical item existing, is that the evidence necessary for proof is also non-existent.

This is the case with debating the existence of God. (or really, options B, C and D) Between the two sides, (A vs, B, C, D) those not believing in the existence have adopted a position has the fatal flaw in proving the matter.

The proponents have a possibility of proving that God exists. Their belief is subject to proof in the evidentiary sense, when or as soon as, that proof becomes available. There can be evidence of a existing God, whatever nature it might take, itís existence is possible.

The critical side, (B, C and D) has supported a side based on the definitions of the sides above, and if they are examined, B fails due to the need to prove a negative fact.
C fails because the possibility remains that God can be discovered and become knowable, (however, the statement re: spending time worshiping is rational in view of Side C's belief),
and D fails because it is more rational to back a point that has the possibility of success than one that does not have such a possibility.

This is not intended to prove or disprove God, but to merely examine the nature of the beliefs and the standard of proof that is required. Simply said, B, C, and D have painted themselves into a corner, in that they have lost the possibility to prove their cause, while A retains this possibility.

Lastly, given that the possibility of success is a unilateral. favoring Side A, time becomes allied with that that side. That is, the need to produce sooner than later is absent, as they are not subject to having one of the other sides produce before them.

Following this logic, One could argue that unicorns exist because you canít prove they do not exist. If such a claim were made, in the honest belief that they existed, then the proponent must be prepared to specify the nature of the unicorn, and how one could be recognized if was encountered, where one might be found, and other facts sufficient to define and identify a unicorn. Thereafter, you may look for methods to prove or disprove the unicorn.

It seems to me that the better, or more rational Ďbetí would be to back the side that has a chance of being successful, as opposed to backing a side that has no chance of successfully.
This is intended to merely look at the positions of the sides, not as supportive of any position. I do have my opinion, but, opinions are hard to prove.

Thanks for listening.
  #90  
Old 08-12-2003, 02:38 PM
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But if the possibility exists, who is to say that YOUR particular god is the one that exists and not the god Allah or whoever isn't "your" god?

Incidently, I don't think the agnostic approach was described accurately, Beryl. Unknowable doesn't mean it could become knowable. It means it is unknowable. Ever.

In my opinion, it is as arrogant to claim you know god DOESN'T exist as it is to claim you DO. Also, Polycarp, I don't see a difference between the statements "believing in" or "believing THAT". Either one indicates you believe.

I tend to refer to myself as a skeptical agnostic. It isn't knowable, but all evidence points to logic and science being the answer to the "Big Questions."
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Old 08-12-2003, 02:59 PM
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Technically, I guess I'm sort of a skeptical agnostic, as well (but I'm also skeptical of the agnostic bit). I'm not even certain that agnosticism is right, but I've never seen any evidence that God exists, and I don't expect that I ever will. I don't have "faith" that God is unknowable... but it would take a heck of a lot more than feeling a presence of power to convince me that what I felt must be God (not my own mind).
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Old 08-12-2003, 03:16 PM
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Two distinct meanings, and the difference is important:

To believe in someone means that you put your trust in that person. Note that it's directed towards a person. I love and trust my wife; I have confidence that what she does will be something I can ratify.

English also uses "believe" to mean a state of credence about something -- that, for exmample, you have formed the opinion that wild thylacines or ivorybill woodpeckers do or do not exist as a non-extinct species. There is no proof either way, but questionable reports of observing them.

"I believe that God exists" means you give credence to the concept that there is one. "I believe in God" means that you put your faith and trust in His goodness -- a quite different idea.
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Old 08-12-2003, 04:07 PM
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How can you put your faith and trust in God without believing that He exists?
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Old 08-12-2003, 04:16 PM
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What TVAA said. Unfortunately, I've gotta split. I'll join you again tomorrow.
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Old 08-12-2003, 05:16 PM
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Rationality is a great instrument to deal with experience, yet we already know that some of its methods - like causality - are not as useful as we are used to when describing microcosmical events (or a multispatial universe or everything that's very, very fast).

And mathematicians like Goedel already told us that we cannot describe a system totally and without contradiction - so we do know that it has its limits in dealing with complex systems as well.

With that in mind it shouldn't suprise us, that rationality is not a proper instrument to describe a construct that is totally defined by irrational characteristics (omnipotent, all-knowing, eternal etc.).

And if we can't describe it, we cannot develop rules to predict what should happen if there exists such an entity.

In principle, yet.. - christians claim to know specifics about their god that exceed totally irrational characteristics: they say he is loving, caring, forgiving, merciful, sometimes furious and so on - all features we tend to attach to us, too.

If, of course, those words actually describe anything similar to the phenomena we experience - but if not they were totally arbitrary and then christians wouldn't know a bit more about god than that he/she/it is totally indescribable.

Well, if they mean what we think they mean, we actually do have a rational basis to say something about the probability of god's existence as described by christians, moslems etc.

Because we should observe events happening in a way that would be characteristic for the actions of a loving, caring and so on god.

And that's the point where christians totally loose me.

The world as we know it is simply not a place that is governed by any being that could be described as loving and caring.

I do lead a very comfortable life and it wouldn't surprise me when many dopers could say the same.. - but we are a minority.

I had visited a cousin in hospital and his mother told me that the love of God had healed her son (and her faith, of course).

Nothing unusual, yet - I was just back from a trip to Africa and there I had seen mothers, too, and their children, some dying, some dead, some choped up. I doubt that they were not worth the love of a caring being or that they all lacked the faith to gain the right to live.

Yes, I know - the greater plan or something - yet, when we care for someone we don't care about any of our plans when there is a need for help - we help and change our plans. If we don't do that "caring" is simply the wrong word to describe us properly. A very wrong word.
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Old 08-12-2003, 06:20 PM
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[stunned silence]

Wow. That was both insightful and concise.

Welcome to the boards, ThoM.
  #97  
Old 08-12-2003, 08:00 PM
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Allow me to echo TVAA for once. That was probably the best brief statement of the Problem of Evil (AKA the Problem of Pain) I've ever seen. I don't care what side you take in debates, ThoM -- but stick around!

TVAA, I agree that confidence in something you don't hold to exist is absurd (though on this board it would not surprise me to see someone argue the position intelligently!) Rather, I was looking at the other dichotomy: it's quite possible to hold the position that God does exist without therefore putting your trust in him.
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
Allow me to echo TVAA for once.
What do you mean, "for once"? You should be radiating my reflected glory at all times.

Quote:
TVAA, I agree that confidence in something you don't hold to exist is absurd (though on this board it would not surprise me to see someone argue the position intelligently!) Rather, I was looking at the other dichotomy: it's quite possible to hold the position that God does exist without therefore putting your trust in him.
Respectfully, that's not quite the position I see you advocating, although your point is well taken. You seem to have done the latter, and that in turn implies the former.
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Old 08-12-2003, 09:42 PM
Rashak Mani is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ThoM
And if we can't describe it, we cannot develop rules to predict what should happen if there exists such an entity.

In principle, yet.. - christians claim to know specifics about their god that exceed totally irrational characteristics: they say he is loving, caring, forgiving, merciful, sometimes furious and so on - all features we tend to attach to us, too.
....

And that's the point where christians totally loose me.

The world as we know it is simply not a place that is governed by any being that could be described as loving and caring.

That doesnt prove God doesnt exist... but it does prove the need of people to beleive in something greater AND benevolent. If God is something so much greater how could we dare attach simple human based adjectives to something like HIM ? Goes to show how silly humans can be.

God for all we know might just be a cruel sadistic supernatural being having fun with our misery. Would you be grateful to a extremely abusive parent for you existence ? God seems to be playing us along... be it for good or bad.
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Old 08-12-2003, 09:43 PM
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Kalhoun
Quote:
But if the possibility exists, who is to say that YOUR particular god is the one that exists and not the god Allah or whoever isn't "your" god?
Incidently, I don't think the agnostic approach was described accurately, Beryl. Unknowable doesn't mean it could become knowable. It means it is unknowable. Ever.
Yes, in this case the ability to prove Allah exists, as a possibility, for those who believe. This has nothing to do with which, if any God is real, but only with the fact that the proponent is the only one who has a potential to successfully prove his case.
Thanks for correcting my statement. I was rushing to make a meeting and in too much of a hurry as I was cutting and pasting the post. I have learned my lesson.
BTW, from your post I would guess that you are in a scientific of possible financial field. Am I close?


jharmon
Quote:
Technically, I guess I'm sort of a skeptical agnostic, as well (but I'm also skeptical of the agnostic bit). I'm not even certain that agnosticism is right, but I've never seen any evidence that God exists, and I don't expect that I ever will. I don't have "faith" that God is unknowable... but it would take a heck of a lot more than feeling a presence of power to convince me that what I felt must be God (not my own mind).
It sounds like you have an open mind and a willing ness to look, but not willing to accept another's dogma.
I understand that position completely. I would be willing to bet that if the existence of God, or the non-existence of God can be established, it won't be lost on anyone here. (stay tuned!)


TVAA
Quote:
How can you put your faith and trust in God without believing that He exists?
The catch 22 right. No faith without belief, and no belief without faith. Resolving those issues
becomes difficult at best, especially when the logic is as sound as it is here. However, look at it this way, one of those qualities, faith or belief, must proceed the other before they can coexist.


TomM
Quote:
With that in mind it shouldn't suprise us, that rationality is not a proper instrument to describe a construct that is totally defined by irrational characteristics
And if we can't describe it, we cannot develop rules to predict what should happen if there exists such an entity.
In principle, yet.. - christians claim to know specifics about their god that exceed totally irrational characteristics: they say he is loving, caring, forgiving, merciful, sometimes furious and so on - all features we tend to attach to us, too.
Is it man who has provided these confusing label, and characteristics about God? And if so, can we allow for that in evaluating this by rejecting the strict fundamental approach? I think man has done more to set back religion than he has done to ruin our planet.

Quote:
The world as we know it is simply not a place that is governed by any being that could be described as loving and caring.
When I was young I used to look at clouds floating by and try to see shapes and whatnot in their form. I think I knew clouds pretty well then, at least well enough to recognize them from then on.
I went through flight training and had the chance to see clouds from a different view, never before did I realize that they were flat on the bottom. Working on my instrument rating I got another chance to view clouds from another position not previously available. I saw clouds differently than I had before. They were no longer white, puffy, or friendly. I learned that clouds look different from different when viewed from a different perspective.
Maybe is our view of what happens here that taints our feelings about the benevolence of God, I don't have an answer for that. I agree with your point that when we care, we are all willing to change whatever we must to be there for the ones we care for.

Thanks all.
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