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  #151  
Old 09-21-2018, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by sps49sd View Post
You will be more blessed if you have faith without proof. See the story of Doubting Thomas.
So if I have blind faith in the IPU, I will be more blessed...or does that axiom only work for a specific deity?
  #152  
Old 09-21-2018, 02:08 PM
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As far as the OP is concerned, I have three very simple requests:
1. Show me how this "miracle" could have only been accomplished by supernatural means.
2. Tell me why it took god-level power to accomplish this "miracle".
3. Tell me why only the god you believe in has to be the one deity responsible for this "miracle".

edited to add: Finding a hole is not evidence for the existence of steam shovels.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 09-21-2018 at 02:09 PM.
  #153  
Old 09-21-2018, 02:10 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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LOL, so true.

I think people who already believe in the metaphysical operate in a paradigm in which miracles are not so unreasonable and may even be expected.

Whereas materialists operate in a paradigm in which any alleged miracle has to have some type of natural explanation.

Therefore, it would be nearly impossible for a "miracle" to change an atheist's worldview. The only exception I could see is if that "miracle" were pertaining to something deeply personal to that particular atheist.
I'm an atheist, and I think you're a bit mistaken about the paradigm that materialists are operating in.

Materialists operate in the paradigm where we believe in things that are real. Materialism isn't fancy, but it works - rocks are solid and are always solid; water is wet and it's always wet; our televisions work based on understandable principles and when they don't work, it's also due to understandable reasons. The materialistic world ain't simple, but it works, with a level of reliability that blows every single theological model completely out of the water. In fact we've gotten used to the idea that things that work do work, and that they work for actual reasons.

Compared to science, religion is ephemeral - it only wishes it had the stability of a wisp of smoke or a soap bubble. Prayers are unreliable. Divine intervention is unreliable. Grand claims are made about what the god will do and the reality never lives up to the hype. It's so ephemeral it's very hard to take it seriously.

Which leads us to miracles. If a materialist blows off a miracle, it's not because it's not personal to them. It's because it's a weaksauce miracle, that fails to convince us that there's not a more realistic explanation (possibly involving dishonest theists). The St. Januarius blood thing mentioned in the OP is an example of such a pathetic 'miracle'.

But (allegedly) miracles weren't always weaksause. Parting the red sea, for instance. Show me that. Part the Atlantic Ocean all Charlton Heston style, with a dry channel across the entire ocean with giant walls of water on either side held up by nothing, that will get my attention.

Which doesn't mean I'll immediately leap to the conclusion that Catholicism is correct, mind you. There is nothing about a parted sea that says Catholicism, specifically, is correct; in fact the correlation with christianity in general isn't strong enough for me to assume they did it either. It could be some amazing new technology, or perhaps an alien, or a rogue wizard. There are so many possible explanations! All of them easily as possible as the Catholic god.

So it would be help that along with a non-crappy miracle, the specific god in question claimed credit, preferably in a way that doesn't seem totally fake and pathetic. A booming voice in the clouds, for example. Heavenly choruses singing his praise. Giant angels coming down wielding flaming swords and chopping up skyscrapers with them.

I don't think I'm asking too much here - the bible has precedent for all of it and more. Heck, it promises that we actually will see one heck of a show...one of these decades.

If something like that goes down, atheists will come around pretty quick.

Last edited by begbert2; 09-21-2018 at 02:14 PM. Reason: typos
  #154  
Old 09-21-2018, 02:43 PM
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And to be fair ~150 or ~500 people are mentioned as seeing it in other books.
The number of names together were about an hundred and twenty. Acts 1:15

He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:6
Those passages are ambiguous.

The first one seems to refer to a group that Peter was addressing but does not say that 150 men saw Jesus: the timeframe appears to be post-ascension.

The second one claims that at least 500 people saw him but that some or many of them were indifferent bystanders.

Oddly, the ascension, which was arguably a very important event, is weakly attested in the gospels. Matthew ends with Jesus speaking to the remaining Disciples, with no mention of it, Mark and Luke devote a single sentence to it, and John refutes it completely, saying that Jesus went on to do lots of other stuff that could fill more books than the earth could hold. This discrepancy is more than slightly problematic.

But, in the end, technically no one witnessed the resurrection. It happened, as it were, off-camera. He was entombed, then they saw him walking around. Sounds like classic sleight of hand – even Erich Weiss could have pulled off a stunt like that.
  #155  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:19 PM
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... So it would be help that along with a non-crappy miracle, the specific god in question claimed credit, preferably in a way that doesn't seem totally fake and pathetic. A booming voice in the clouds, for example.
Have you not read the Gospel According to St. Douglas, Book I, Chapter 3, starting at paragraph 67?
Before the Earth passed away it was going to be treated to the very ultimate in sound reproduction, the greatest public address system ever built …
People of Earth, your attention please … This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.
It was not a pleasant Thursday morning in Guilford, or anywhere else on Earth. But no miracle or deity was involved (though a deity is briefly mentioned in Book I, Chapter 6 and described in excruciating detail in Book II, Chapter 29).

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If something like that goes down, atheists will come around pretty quick.
Everyone came around.
  #156  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:23 PM
EscAlaMike EscAlaMike is offline
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Materialists operate in the paradigm where we believe in things that are real.
That's quite an arrogant statement. You are straight up asserting that non-materialists believe in things that are objectively [I]fake[I].

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Compared to science, religion is ephemeral - it only wishes it had the stability of a wisp of smoke or a soap bubble. Prayers are unreliable. Divine intervention is unreliable. Grand claims are made about what the god will do and the reality never lives up to the hype. It's so ephemeral it's very hard to take it seriously.
Says who? Prayer has always been 100% reliable for me, because the purpose of prayer is not to ask a genie for a wish, but to move the pray-ers will into sync with the divine will. How do you know divine intervention is unreliable? You don't even believe in divine intervention. What is divine intervention supposed to accomplish that it has failed to do? Naturally, people make all sorts of claims in the name of 'God' that end up being false. That's why you have to use reason and common sense to weigh such claims.

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Parting the red sea, for instance. Show me that. Part the Atlantic Ocean all Charlton Heston style, with a dry channel across the entire ocean with giant walls of water on either side held up by nothing, that will get my attention.
I don't believe you. You would attribute it to natural causes.

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So it would be help that along with a non-crappy miracle, the specific god in question claimed credit, preferably in a way that doesn't seem totally fake and pathetic. A booming voice in the clouds, for example. Heavenly choruses singing his praise.
Something like this has happened, multiple times. Most people are like you and didn't care or explained it away.

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Giant angels coming down wielding flaming swords and chopping up skyscrapers with them.
Those angels would be assholes.

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If something like that goes down, atheists will come around pretty quick.
No they wouldn't.
  #157  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:26 PM
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Have you not read the Gospel According to St. Douglas, Book I, Chapter 3, starting at paragraph 67?
Before the Earth passed away it was going to be treated to the very ultimate in sound reproduction, the greatest public address system ever built …
People of Earth, your attention please … This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.
It was not a pleasant Thursday morning in Guilford, or anywhere else on Earth. But no miracle or deity was involved (though a deity is briefly mentioned in Book I, Chapter 6 and described in excruciating detail in Book II, Chapter 29).



Everyone came around.
But if memory serves me, it was retconned away later in the Holy Writ?

Last edited by Ignotus; 09-21-2018 at 03:29 PM.
  #158  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:32 PM
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Because this is great debates and you are begging the question and poorly at that, outside of Matthew's zombies I don't see where the bible even claims that large quantity of people witnessed the Resurrection.

Conveniently there is no contemporary reports outside the Bible so the whole line of argument is really begging the question.
I'm just confused by this insane obsession with the Bible. Why are the minute details of the Gospel accounts so important? Why do you all seem to think that the fact that one Gospel mentions one angel and one Gospel mentions two angels is enough to prove that Jesus never even rose from the dead?

The Catholic Church was celebrating mass and spreading Jesus' message for decades before any accounts of Jesus's life were even written down, and centuries before they were codified into Scripture.

Jesus never told anyone to write anything down. He told his disciples to go into the world and pass on the things that they were taught.
  #159  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:36 PM
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I'm just confused by this insane obsession with the Bible. Why are the minute details of the Gospel accounts so important? Why do you all seem to think that the fact that one Gospel mentions one angel and one Gospel mentions two angels is enough to prove that Jesus never even rose from the dead?

The Catholic Church was celebrating mass and spreading Jesus' message for decades before any accounts of Jesus's life were even written down, and centuries before they were codified into Scripture.

Jesus never told anyone to write anything down. He told his disciples to go into the world and pass on the things that they were taught.
Quoting the Bible, then claiming that the words don't matter when the quotes go south? This just isn't working, dude.
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Old 09-21-2018, 03:38 PM
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Quoting the Bible, then claiming that the words don't matter when the quotes go south? This just isn't working, dude.
When did I quote the Bible?

I'm not saying the words don't matter, I just think you're tending to nitpick at details that have nothing to do with the overarching facts and themes of the events in question.
  #161  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:42 PM
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When did I quote the Bible?

I'm not saying the words don't matter, I just think you're tending to nitpick at details that have nothing to do with the overarching facts and themes of the events in question.
What evidence do you have for the 'events in question' outside of the biblical record? If the biblical record does not stand up to scrutiny, then you have nothing to back up what you claim to 'have happened'.
  #162  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:43 PM
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What evidence do you have for the 'events in question' outside of the biblical record? If the biblical record does not stand up to scrutiny, then you have nothing to back up what you claim to 'have happened'.
For starters, I have 2,000 years of Church teaching and tradition.
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Old 09-21-2018, 03:43 PM
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When did I quote the Bible?

I'm not saying the words don't matter, I just think you're tending to nitpick at details that have nothing to do with the overarching facts and themes of the events in question.
Without the Bible, how do you know if what you are being told about what he said is accurate or not? In fact, what do you know about Jesus at all without the Bible to refer back to?
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Old 09-21-2018, 03:45 PM
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Without the Bible, how do you know if what you are being told about what he said is accurate or not? In fact, what do you know about Jesus at all without the Bible to refer back to?
Church teaching and tradition.
  #165  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:45 PM
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For starters, I have 2,000 years of Church teaching and tradition.
And if there are contradictions between the words of the Bible and those traditions?
  #166  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:46 PM
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And if there are contradictions between the words of the Bible and those traditions?
Then the words of the Bible are most likely being either misunderstood or misapplied.
  #167  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:48 PM
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Then the words of the Bible are most likely being either misunderstood or misapplied.
The same thing is said by other sects.
  #168  
Old 09-21-2018, 03:50 PM
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The same thing is said by other sects.
Naturally.
  #169  
Old 09-21-2018, 04:30 PM
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I'm not sure how "hard" evidence is different from just plain evidence. Jesus claimed to be God. He was executed, and then rose from the dead. His resurrected body and his ascension into heaven were witnessed by hundreds of people including his mother and his disciples. And every one of his disciples testified to his resurrection, and most were executed as martyrs.

Regular people don't rise from the dead. My conclusion: Jesus is God.

This might be complete nonsense to you, but it's credible to me.
A possible more rational line of thought:

"Regular people don't rise from the dead. My conclusion: something unusual (that I have no good explanation for) happened."

Sure, maybe this Jesus fellow is telling the truth. Or maybe he's a nutter with a bizarre superpower. Either way, I have no way of evaluating his claims. None whatsoever. So what I'm left with is simply a mysterious event I cannot explain. Claiming that the event was caused by god doesn't actually make it less mysterious.

An even more rational line of thought:

"Regular people don't rise from the dead. The amount of evidence it would take for me to believe that someone who died came back to life, then ascended into the skies today is far more than 'I read it in a book full of stories'. Therefore, the story is probably not true."

How do you feel about alien abduction, EscAlaMike? There are people you can go to who are alive today who will gladly tell you about the time they were abducted by aliens. I'm sure you could find over a thousand of them, and that most of those stories would share some non-trivial details. Would this be sufficient evidence for you to believe that aliens are abducting random yokels to perform science experiments on them? Or would you (quite rightfully) point out that mere eyewitness testimony isn't good enough to establish such a bizarre claim? How many eyewitnesses would you need for an Islamic miracle before it convinced you that the bible was false?

Of course, as others have pointed out, someone telling you that there were hundreds of witnesses is a very different thing from actually citing hundreds of witnesses. The story of Jesus Christ is far-removed from anything we can test or experience, and what it asks us to accept on the basis of such flimsy evidence is nothing short of a complete reshaping of how we view the universe, how we treat each other, and our most basic human values. It demands that we place a church above the love of our own family, that we kill brother and sister if they fail to follow certain arbitrary rules or kowtow to a grossly self-contradictory being, that we accept that those who believe differently from us will be tortured forever by a being described as all-loving. What could convince you to do that? What would it take?

I can tell you what it takes for most people - decades of indoctrination, anchoring these beliefs in fertile ground in minds that are not prepared to critically evaluate them, and hanging huge portions of a person's worldview on those beliefs so that any attempt to challenge them is met with horrifying cognitive dissonance.

Last edited by Budget Player Cadet; 09-21-2018 at 04:33 PM.
  #170  
Old 09-21-2018, 04:51 PM
EscAlaMike EscAlaMike is offline
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A possible more rational line of thought:

"Regular people don't rise from the dead. My conclusion: something unusual (that I have no good explanation for) happened."

Sure, maybe this Jesus fellow is telling the truth. Or maybe he's a nutter with a bizarre superpower. Either way, I have no way of evaluating his claims. None whatsoever. So what I'm left with is simply a mysterious event I cannot explain. Claiming that the event was caused by god doesn't actually make it less mysterious.

An even more rational line of thought:

"Regular people don't rise from the dead. The amount of evidence it would take for me to believe that someone who died came back to life, then ascended into the skies today is far more than 'I read it in a book full of stories'. Therefore, the story is probably not true."

How do you feel about alien abduction, EscAlaMike? There are people you can go to who are alive today who will gladly tell you about the time they were abducted by aliens. I'm sure you could find over a thousand of them, and that most of those stories would share some non-trivial details. Would this be sufficient evidence for you to believe that aliens are abducting random yokels to perform science experiments on them? Or would you (quite rightfully) point out that mere eyewitness testimony isn't good enough to establish such a bizarre claim? How many eyewitnesses would you need for an Islamic miracle before it convinced you that the bible was false?

Of course, as others have pointed out, someone telling you that there were hundreds of witnesses is a very different thing from actually citing hundreds of witnesses. The story of Jesus Christ is far-removed from anything we can test or experience, and what it asks us to accept on the basis of such flimsy evidence is nothing short of a complete reshaping of how we view the universe, how we treat each other, and our most basic human values. It demands that we place a church above the love of our own family, that we kill brother and sister if they fail to follow certain arbitrary rules or kowtow to a grossly self-contradictory being, that we accept that those who believe differently from us will be tortured forever by a being described as all-loving. What could convince you to do that? What would it take?

I can tell you what it takes for most people - decades of indoctrination, anchoring these beliefs in fertile ground in minds that are not prepared to critically evaluate them, and hanging huge portions of a person's worldview on those beliefs so that any attempt to challenge them is met with horrifying cognitive dissonance.
A very sensible post until you started being disingenuous about Christianity by saying that it requires killing your family.

I appreciate how much effort you went to in this post, so I apologize that my response will be much more brief.

I would just respond by saying that my beliefs don't exist in a vacuum. I am just a tiny part of the massive community that we call humanity that goes back thousands of years. I depend on the testimony and witness of others. There are people from the past and present whose insight and research I trust. I see all the ways that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (and by extension the liturgy and sacraments of the Catholic Church) fulfill and complete the Old Testament religion, and it's beautiful to me and gives me hope. I see all the amazing ways that the Catholic Church has revolutionized the world, and it gives me hope.

You're right that the teachings of Christ ask us to reshape our view of the universe, etc., and I would argue that this is a good thing.

Last edited by EscAlaMike; 09-21-2018 at 04:55 PM.
  #171  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:05 PM
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You're right that the teachings of Christ ask us to reshape our view of the universe, etc., and I would argue that this is a good thing.
Not if you are no longer capable of seeing the universe as it is.
  #172  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:06 PM
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Not if you are no longer capable of seeing the universe as it is.
There are a lot of assumptions built into that statement.
  #173  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:07 PM
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That's quite an arrogant statement. You are straight up asserting that non-materialists believe in things that are objectively [I]fake[I].
Are you saying you don't believe in your god?


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Says who? Prayer has always been 100% reliable for me, because the purpose of prayer is not to ask a genie for a wish, but to move the pray-ers will into sync with the divine will. How do you know divine intervention is unreliable? You don't even believe in divine intervention. What is divine intervention supposed to accomplish that it has failed to do? Naturally, people make all sorts of claims in the name of 'God' that end up being false. That's why you have to use reason and common sense to weigh such claims.
I do use reason and common sense. That's why I know that every single claim that every single theist makes that suggests that their god will, has, or can do something is false.

You may be (for the purpose of not promptly losing this argument) redefining prayer into something untestable, but you're not the god of words, and people pray for things to happen ALL THE TIME. You're a catholic; that bread doesn't turn to flesh on its own initiative. In fact I believe I can say with absolute confidence that, as a catholic, you must believe in the efficacy of prayer and that divine intervention has tangible effect - or be a heretic.

But the prayers don't always have effect, and god doesn't always intervene. That crap is unreliable. As I said.

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I don't believe you. You would attribute it to natural causes.
I don't appreciate being called a liar.

We are talking about PARTING THE OCEAN. Natural causes my ass!

Now, yes, I would definitely listen to the people who would promptly rush to it and look for natural causes, and if they actually found natural causes I would gleefully look forward to the introduction of physics-breaking-technology to the world. (Seriously, an invisible force that can hold back the ocean all the way to the ocean floor? Particularly if it does it Heston-style without a hard flat wall, allowing you to stick your arm into the water unimpeded? (Which would probably crush your arm instantly - that's the kind of pressures and forces we're talking about here!)

Yeah, no. As soon as it was confirmed as not being a complete hoax, I'd be looking for explanations outside of this planet. Maybe not your god - maybe somebody else's god. Or aliens. Or the aliens' god. I don't know what - but it would be so far outside human science I'd know instantly that I'd have to accept the existence of something new.

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Something like this has happened, multiple times. Most people are like you and didn't care or explained it away.
BULL. SHIT.

People in stupid fairytales like the myths that back your book did that - non-fleshed out straw people that exists only to make a point. But real human people notice world-shaking things, because they're not part of badly written crap fiction.

Hell, the fact that people in your stories shrug off such massive things should alone be rock-solid proof that the stories are fiction - unless you believe that people in the past didn't have brain cells.

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Those angels would be assholes.
Your god has done worse, as your bible happily attests.

And to be all pedantic about it, there'd be a distinct possibility that the angels would be just following orders and, off the clock, they'd be great guys to hang out and have a beer with, give or take the shed feathers getting into everything.

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No they wouldn't.
You have no idea what you're talking about.
  #174  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:16 PM
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You have no idea what you're talking about.
Maybe not, but you obviously have an ax to grind, and I'm not interested in being the stone.
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:17 PM
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Jim B:

Let me try an alternative heuristic which was first suggested to me by a friend who was trying to convince me and the rest of his former high school buddies that he had converted, he was truly reformed, and he was really scrutinizing The Bible intently:

The particular verbiage of the first commandment is suspect. By insisting Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before Me it acknowledges that there are, in fact, other Gods and Elohim/YWH/JHV/iAM/whatever is establishing right off the bat that He wants your undivided loyalty. It's not saying There Are No Other Gods; it's saying Give Me Your Exclusive Devotion.

--------------

Allow me to re-post a question from the Religious ReFFugees site, roughly 20 years ago:

Christians had been repeatedly asking on that board if atheists would acknowledge the existence of God (and somehow therefore of Jesus) if Holy relics and key events in scripture could be proven as true. They weren't asking for conversion, just acknowledgement.


So I submitted a challenge: The people of Japan trace the lineage of their emperors all the way back to Jinnu Tenno, the son of Amaterasu Omikami, the Goddess of the Sun and head of the pantheon. [I'll spare you the details, but feel free to find and enjoy the myth of Susanowo* and the eight-headed dragon.] The Imperial House of Japan retains as national treasures three symbols of their divine heritage: A sword, a jewel, and a mirror which were first given to Jinnu Tenno by his mother. Replicas of the divine relics can be seen in the National Museum in Tokyo [naturally, they would never deign to put the real artifacts where theft could occur] and the originals are locked away somewhere secret.

If Emperor Heisei were to bring the artifacts out of storage and present them for display, would you acknowledge his lineage -- would you admit Amaterasu and her pantheon are real? I'm not suggesting you change your loyalty; I'm just asking for acknowledgement of the existence of deities other than the God of Abraham.


--------------

I think I and other denizens of this forum see your question and mine in the same light: Neither is asking readers to simply concede the point. Conceding the point is the start of a slippery slope to Converting To The Faith$. But we've seen this ruse before and we haven't fallen for it in the past and we're not likely to fall for it now or in the future. The Believers believe and the others don't; a forum of skeptics and fact-seekers is the wrong venue for seeking converts to a system of blind faith.

--------------


The Rest of You:
For what it's worth, I've been very impressed by the way everyone, both believers and non-believers, tend to maintain a good level of respect and civility toward each other about 95% of the time in posts and replies. I don't always see that on other boards# and it's really one of the appealing facets of the Straight Dope that has kept me coming back for over a decade.


--G!
* Susanowo is Omikami's younger brother and God of Storms.
$ The next step is "If you acknowledge X, why aren't you worshipping X?" followed by "Why not become a devotee?" and "Why not become [my flavor]?" It's worth noting that Satanists fully believe in the God of Abraham as well as the historical veracity of Jesus the Christ and the Prophet Mohammed. There are a lot of ways to acknowledge without subscribing, and a lot of ways to just refrain from acknowledging.
# Give yourself a pat on the back!
  #176  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:17 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Maybe not, but you obviously have an ax to grind, and I'm not interested in being the stone.
My only ax to grind is with people who call me a liar in a desperate attempt to avoid admitting that I have a point.
  #177  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:21 PM
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My only ax to grind is with people who call me a liar in a desperate attempt to avoid admitting that I have a point.
I do not believe that you are being intentionally deceptive, so I do not believe that you are a liar, nor did I accuse you of being a liar. I simply made known my skepticism as to your (I believe) overly self-assured "if this then that" declarations.
  #178  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:35 PM
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Anyway, to reiterate my point - a sufficiently impressive miracle, that by its nature and details left no possibility of it being a scam, a fake, a delusion, or a mistake, would cause me (and virtually all other atheists) to readily concede that something unusual was going on. If the nature of the the miracle was such that it left no possibility of an earthly or human cause, I would become willing to accept the possibility that an unearthly or inhuman cause was responsible for the event.

But this wouldn't make me immediately convert to a specific religion - not until I learned more about the cause (assuming I ever did). It's easy for Catholicism or the Westboro Baptist Church or Scientology to claim credit for some spectacular event, but unless there's some other reason to believe them it's just talk. There could be things that would increase my likelihood of accepting Catholic responsibility - if the Pope could part oceans at will, for example. Or if a gigantic invulnerable blinding avatar of divinity came down and straight up told everyone Catholicism was true on national television while smiting anybody who backtalked him. Also dying and waking up in heaven with God shaking his head and saying "you weren't Catholic, son, so it's to the torture pits you go" - that would also be pretty convincing at a personal level, I'd say. (Though only when it actually happened; mortal yahoos saying I'll go to hell if I don't join the shriners doesn't impress me.)

The detail of importance here is that to be a true materialist, a true scientist, you have to be open to changing your worldview in the face of compelling evidence - the kind of evidence that stands up to scientific scrutiny. When science tells me that it can send sounds and images through the open air, and then sells me a television, I don't deny the existence of the television because it goes against my materialistic worldview.

So if compelling evidence tells me that there's a god, I'll believe there's a god. The thing that bugs so many theists is that they stuff they call evidence isn't compelling. (Hell, most of it is less convincing than hearsay.)

But massive crap like parting the oceans or an invading angel army or somesuch? Yeah, that stuff bears a second look.

Last edited by begbert2; 09-21-2018 at 05:36 PM. Reason: typos
  #179  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:45 PM
EscAlaMike EscAlaMike is offline
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Anyway, to reiterate my point - a sufficiently impressive miracle, that by its nature and details left no possibility of it being a scam, a fake, a delusion, or a mistake, would cause me (and virtually all other atheists) to readily concede that something unusual was going on. If the nature of the the miracle was such that it left no possibility of an earthly or human cause, I would become willing to accept the possibility that an unearthly or inhuman cause was responsible for the event.

But this wouldn't make me immediately convert to a specific religion - not until I learned more about the cause (assuming I ever did). It's easy for Catholicism or the Westboro Baptist Church or Scientology to claim credit for some spectacular event, but unless there's some other reason to believe them it's just talk. There could be things that would increase my likelihood of accepting Catholic responsibility - if the Pope could part oceans at will, for example. Or if a gigantic invulnerable blinding avatar of divinity came down and straight up told everyone Catholicism was true on national television while smiting anybody who backtalked him. Also dying and waking up in heaven with God shaking his head and saying "you weren't Catholic, son, so it's to the torture pits you go" - that would also be pretty convincing at a personal level, I'd say. (Though only when it actually happened; mortal yahoos saying I'll go to hell if I don't join the shriners doesn't impress me.)

The detail of importance here is that to be a true materialist, a true scientist, you have to be open to changing your worldview in the face of compelling evidence - the kind of evidence that stands up to scientific scrutiny. When science tells me that it can send sounds and images through the open air, and then sells me a television, I don't deny the existence of the television because it goes against my materialistic worldview.

So if compelling evidence tells me that there's a god, I'll believe there's a god. The thing that bugs so many theists is that they stuff they call evidence isn't compelling. (Hell, most of it is less convincing than hearsay.)

But massive crap like parting the oceans or an invading angel army or somesuch? Yeah, that stuff bears a second look.
What if the rational and conscious being that created all matter and is the essense of good (the one we call God) decided to make himself known to humanity.

He decided to make himself known by becoming a human himself and living among us in a particular place and at a particular time. Because he is good, he chose the woman who he wanted to be his mother, and decided to preserve her from sin. He also decided that she would remain a virgin even though she would be pregnant and give birth. This child was born and lived a life of humility and service. He taught good things, and established a perpetual institution called The Church for the purpose of dispensing salvation to all people for all time. He then suffered a criminal's death. He then unmistakably showed who he was all along by rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven.

That would just be so lame right?
  #180  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:55 PM
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What if the rational and conscious being that created all matter and is the essense of good (the one we call God) decided to make himself known to humanity.

He decided to make himself known by becoming a human himself and living among us in a particular place and at a particular time. Because he is good, he chose the woman who he wanted to be his mother, and decided to preserve her from sin. He also decided that she would remain a virgin even though she would be pregnant and give birth. This child was born and lived a life of humility and service. He taught good things, and established a perpetual institution called The Church for the purpose of dispensing salvation to all people for all time. He then suffered a criminal's death. He then unmistakably showed who he was all along by rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven.

That would just be so lame right?
What has "lame" got to do with it?
It could be the prettiest story in the world, but that fact wouldn't have any bearing at all as to its veracity.
  #181  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:58 PM
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I'm just confused by this insane obsession with the Bible. Why are the minute details of the Gospel accounts so important? Why do you all seem to think that the fact that one Gospel mentions one angel and one Gospel mentions two angels is enough to prove that Jesus never even rose from the dead?

The Catholic Church was celebrating mass and spreading Jesus' message for decades before any accounts of Jesus's life were even written down, and centuries before they were codified into Scripture.

Jesus never told anyone to write anything down. He told his disciples to go into the world and pass on the things that they were taught.
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For starters, I have 2,000 years of Church teaching and tradition.
Church teaching and tradition is not reliable historical reportage. Given human societies' proclivity to create mythologies, especially for sociopolitical ends, religious teaching and tradition is probably the least reliable source of factual history.

The question you were asked about evidence was a good one, but you just choose to evade it. Let me put it a different way.

Suppose I were to suggest that, according to the best conjectures we can make based on archeological records and other evidence, the real historical Jesus was a fervent political revolutionary whose primary goal was to free Judea from Roman domination. Pretty much a non-magical, non-miracle-working dude with a political axe to grind, who was probably charismatic and astute enough to associate his revolutionary objectives with laudatory noble goals. What if he was crucified by the Romans, not for trumped-up reasons, but because he was genuinely a threat to the Roman hegemony in the region? And what if some of his followers and the generations after them gradually embellished stories about him, as our societies and cults are wont to do, until the accounts we call the Bible started to emerge and then, with the final great inventiveness at the Council of Nicaea, the recognizable framework of modern Christianity was created.

What if I were to propose that this plausible and historically supportable scenario is what really happened -- a scenario made all the more plausible by not requiring any appeal to magic and miracles? What objective evidence do you have that it's wrong, or that your version of events is for some reason more credible?
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I would just respond by saying that my beliefs don't exist in a vacuum. I am just a tiny part of the massive community that we call humanity that goes back thousands of years. I depend on the testimony and witness of others. There are people from the past and present whose insight and research I trust. I see all the ways that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (and by extension the liturgy and sacraments of the Catholic Church) fulfill and complete the Old Testament religion, and it's beautiful to me and gives me hope. I see all the amazing ways that the Catholic Church has revolutionized the world, and it gives me hope.
Sure, but the "massive community" on which you rely for objective information has historically been notoriously unreliable and prone to manufacturing mythologies, especially over long timeframes. We all know how stories get distorted in the retelling. Now multiply that by thousands of retellers over thousands of years and add in a generous dose of motivated fabrication, and the resemblance to factual reality is pretty much zero. I understand that belief in mythology gives people hope, and there is value in certain kinds of spiritualism, but most organized religion peddles a shallow form of spiritualism and false hope.
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What if the rational and conscious being that created all matter and is the essense of good (the one we call God) decided to make himself known to humanity.

He decided to make himself known by becoming a human himself and living among us in a particular place and at a particular time. Because he is good, he chose the woman who he wanted to be his mother, and decided to preserve her from sin. He also decided that she would remain a virgin even though she would be pregnant and give birth. This child was born and lived a life of humility and service. He taught good things, and established a perpetual institution called The Church for the purpose of dispensing salvation to all people for all time. He then suffered a criminal's death. He then unmistakably showed who he was all along by rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven.

That would just be so lame right?
Pretty much, yes. Mostly just unimaginative and completely lacking in credibility.

BTW, I don't consider myself an atheist and have no interest in advocating atheism. Just not a fan of organized religion.
  #182  
Old 09-21-2018, 05:59 PM
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What has "lame" got to do with it?
It could be the prettiest story in the world, but that fact wouldn't have any bearing at all as to its veracity.
You're right, but it just doesn't make sense that we would expect a deity to give us some kind of super showy parting the Red Sea kind of miracle just so that we would believe what is already obvious.

The world is here. We're here. The universe can be studied and understood. It should be obvious that there is a source. Why do we need some voice from the heavens? Why can't God just be humble?
  #183  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:02 PM
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A very sensible post until you started being disingenuous about Christianity by saying that it requires killing your family.
If my sister is an adulterer, my father a closeted homosexual, and my mother a whore? The bible is clear on that. The church stopped meting out that punishment eventually, but the history of the Catholic Church is soaked in blood. And even in the modern day, its moral track record is drenched in the blood and tears of raped children and african AIDS victims.

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I would just respond by saying that my beliefs don't exist in a vacuum. I am just a tiny part of the massive community that we call humanity that goes back thousands of years. I depend on the testimony and witness of others. There are people from the past and present whose insight and research I trust. I see all the ways that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (and by extension the liturgy and sacraments of the Catholic Church) fulfill and complete the Old Testament religion, and it's beautiful to me and gives me hope. I see all the amazing ways that the Catholic Church has revolutionized the world, and it gives me hope.
I'm sorry, but I just can't respect that. Humanity is full of traditions spanning back generations that countless people draw inspiration from. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, other Christian sects, local cultures and traditions. Many people gain hope, beauty, inspiration, and other positive things from those institutions and traditions.

But at the core of so many of them, including Catholicism, is a demand that we reshape our worldview to accept things with poor evidence that we cannot possibly justify. That we build the core of our reality around stating that we know something we cannot and do not know. And it only gets worse from there, as these organizations demand that we adopt a morality that makes no sense (classifying harmless actions as morally wrong, expecting us to take thoughtcrimes seriously, treating eternal torture as a morally just punishment for anything, etc.), grant them our time and our money, and spread these ideas to our children in ways that we would never accept if, say, a political party was doing it rather than a religion. And that's without even getting into the shit everyone knows is wrong, like the consistent and persistent sexual abuse scandals that the catholic church keeps fucking covering up.
  #184  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:02 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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What if the rational and conscious being that created all matter and is the essense of good (the one we call God) decided to make himself known to humanity.

He decided to make himself known by becoming a human himself and living among us in a particular place and at a particular time. Because he is good, he chose the woman who he wanted to be his mother, and decided to preserve her from sin. He also decided that she would remain a virgin even though she would be pregnant and give birth. This child was born and lived a life of humility and service. He taught good things, and established a perpetual institution called The Church for the purpose of dispensing salvation to all people for all time. He then suffered a criminal's death. He then unmistakably showed who he was all along by rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven.

That would just be so lame right?
If such a deity existed and wanted to "make himself known" "unmistakably", then would hopefully be smart enough not to pull this stunt in a period that was basically prehistory out of the sight of literally anybody important. If he did do such a foolish thing there would be no way to distinguish the superstitious gossip about him from all the other superstitious gossip of the era, while all his own words and such would inevitably be lost to history because he didn't even hang out with people who could write.

Now, if this dude came down and performed a medical miracle in a modern hospital, of getting born from a woman with an intact hymen (which I assume is what you mean by "virgin")... actually I'd still assume a scam, it wouldn't take too many people colluding to swap one woman for another before making their announcement. That business with rising from the dead and walking around with open holes into his guts, mind you, that would be pretty interesting. Not that I would put it past a good magician to figure out a way to make you think you were manhandling his intestines, but it would definitely be worth a second look.

Let me know when such a dude turns up. I'm sure it will get pretty decent press coverage, so just post the links to the interviews where people are poking things through him.
  #185  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:05 PM
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What if the rational and conscious being that created all matter and is the essense of good (the one we call God) decided to make himself known to humanity.

He decided to make himself known by becoming a human himself and living among us in a particular place and at a particular time. Because he is good, he chose the woman who he wanted to be his mother, and decided to preserve her from sin. He also decided that she would remain a virgin even though she would be pregnant and give birth. This child was born and lived a life of humility and service. He taught good things, and established a perpetual institution called The Church for the purpose of dispensing salvation to all people for all time. He then suffered a criminal's death. He then unmistakably showed who he was all along by rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven.

That would just be so lame right?
That would be a great fantasy. Only the gullible would believe it. Do you know anyone like that?

Last edited by Musicat; 09-21-2018 at 06:05 PM.
  #186  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:05 PM
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You're right, but it just doesn't make sense that we would expect a deity to give us some kind of super showy parting the Red Sea kind of miracle just so that we would believe what is already obvious.

The world is here. We're here. The universe can be studied and understood. It should be obvious that there is a source. Why do we need some voice from the heavens? Why can't God just be humble?
But the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Why is your god trying to take credit for the actions of another?
  #187  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:11 PM
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The universe can be studied and understood. It should be obvious that there is a source.
Just as "obvious" as the claim that you can't create matter from nothing. As noted earlier, you were wrong about that, too.
  #188  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:35 PM
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Institutional integrity? The Catholic Church? Seriously? Ever read a newspaper? I'm in Pennsylvania, where apparently you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who's been raped by a priest.
No, no, that's modern stuff. He's referring more to the old establishment -- like the California Mission system. Or maybe older stuff like Pope Pius III, pregnant nuns, land grabs (that stuff with the Borgia family), whoever was the model for Dumas' Cardinal Richlieu....

--G!
  #189  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:55 PM
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But the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Why is your god trying to take credit for the actions of another?
Whatever you want to call him. By the very definition of "God", there can only be one.
  #190  
Old 09-21-2018, 06:57 PM
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You will be more blessed if you have faith without proof. See the story of Doubting Thomas.
If God exists and wants me to be blessed, he can use the same technique he used to harden Pharaoh's heart, to soften my head.
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  #191  
Old 09-21-2018, 07:06 PM
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Whatever you want to call him. By the very definition of "God", there can only be one.
I can't believe you said that.

You do realize you just committed heresy, right? You just announced that the Catholic church is false, because the FSM is most definitely not the deity worshiped by it. The FSM didn't send any Jesuses (Jesii?) to earth. The FSM isn't going to save anybody's souls. The FSM isn't going to send anybody to hell. All of catholicism is false. All of christianity is false.

I admit I thought it was odd to see anybody trying to pull the cosmological argument on a message board of educated people. But to see somebody not try to avoid the argument's most obvious flaw, but to slam themselves headfirst into it
  #192  
Old 09-21-2018, 07:19 PM
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By the very definition of "God", there can only be one.
Also, and I was so stunned by your faceplant into the cosmological argument I didn't notice this immediately, but where on earth are you pulling this bizarre statement from?

If you're trying to argue that capital-G God is the christian god and thus he's the only god because he's the christian god and the christian god says there's only one god...well, among other problems, we can't infer the existence of capital-G God from the cosmological argument, so capital-G God's definition is utterly irrelevant.

If you're simply trying to argue that it's impossible for there to ever be more than one god around, regardless of the religion or theology under discussion, then you have an amazingly poor grasp of history.
  #193  
Old 09-21-2018, 07:20 PM
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Whatever you want to call him. By the very definition of "God", there can only be one.
That's a fairly new idea, and false to boot. If you define "God" as the creator, well, there's no such thing as the single creator of, say, the Empire State Building!
  #194  
Old 09-21-2018, 07:26 PM
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You will be more blessed if you have faith without proof. See the story of Doubting Thomas.
The story of Doubting Thomas is one of the most bizarre, manipulative stories in the entire bible. It makes it clear that god could trivially offer any of us the evidence needed for us to change our minds... But expects us to believe despite not offering us that evidence. Blessed are those who believe without having seen - but given what's allegedly at stake, I'll settle for just being as holy as a doubtful disciple.

Look, if a used car salesman responded to you asking for proof that the car had a nice stereo with "Eh, I prefer customers who trust me," I can't imagine anyone here would have trouble seeing the problem - if what you have is the truth, then exposing it to honest investigation will not destroy it. The only thing demanding faith without evidence does is allow lies to fester.
  #195  
Old 09-21-2018, 08:32 PM
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For starters, I have 2,000 years of Church teaching and tradition.
Circular argument - in short - you have nothing.

Church 'teaching' and 'tradition' are not evidence of anything other than what the church says it is.

Last edited by simster; 09-21-2018 at 08:33 PM.
  #196  
Old 09-21-2018, 08:34 PM
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I didn't properly respond to the OP's actual question, so:

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If you are an atheist. And if something the Catholic church offers as a miracle, could at least be proven to be without immediate explanation, would that be enough to make you question your staunchly held beliefs?
This will sound a bit rude, but the first thing to realize when you're talking to an atheist is that atheism isn't a belief. Like, if I said, "How can you maintain your staunchly held belief that Santa Claus is a fictional character?", the sentence doesn't quite work. Not believing in Santa Claus is, in a technical sense, a belief but it's still weird to present it in that manner. It's a fictional character and we all know how the presents show up under the tree.

But what if we don't know how the presents show up under the tree? Is that proof of Santa?

At that point we ask ourselves, is it more likely that a fat man with a bunch of Keebler elves practices trademark infringement by crafting knock-off plastic toys modeled on those produced by large manufacturers targeting popular American cartoons and then somehow flies around the planet faster than the speed of light delivering those products to children for no obvious reason...or that someone's going to the store, buying stuff, and sticking it under the tree while no one is looking?

Minus seeing that occur, factually I don't know the answer, but I can still make a reasoned decision.

But what if 70,000 people say that they saw a fat man come flying out of the sky, in a sleigh drawn by floating reindeer, and load the toys under the tree?

Well I mean, sure, that does give one pause. But at the same time, we live in a world where several million Jews were gathered up with the help of the general populace and delivered to be murdered in a methodic, factory-like style by well-meaning folk. We live in a world where thousands of men will say that their penis is missing, because the local witch is cursing everyone, and then when a white doctor takes a look, sees their penis, and says, "I see your penis. It's right there, just stop looking away and look at yourself." And then the man looks at his own penis and cries, "I'm cured! Thank you, doctor!" You have to ask yourself, did 70,000 people see a fat man fly out of the sky, or is it just that most people are stupid and gullible? Did 70,000 people actually see it, or were there 70,000 people gathered, and 100 of them say that they saw it and the person who went around to ask everyone happened to be a Santa Believer, and he prioritized the testimony of those 100 over the testimony of the 69,900?

Let's consider that you, yourself, are an atheist. You would probably think nothing of going to watch Thor: Ragnarok. It's a work of fiction, based on ancient fictions.

But, I mean, people used to be sacrificed to Thor. Real live people would go, find someone (or 99 someones), and murder them in the name of appeasing the god Thor, because they had personal faith that everything they experienced around them was sufficient evidence of the reality of the gods.

If I go today and talk to a devout Buddhist or Hindu believer, they'll say all the same things as a devout Christian, in terms of miracles, "feeling the truth", "feeling presences", etc. There have been hundreds or thousands of religions through history and tens of thousands of gods, and it's reasonable to assume that all of the believers, jamming leaves up their noses, hanging themselves on hooks, cutting flesh off their penis, murdering people, killing nearby tribes, giving away their hard-earned cash to lazy bums, etc. all would have said the same thing through history and been every bit as certain. They would have pointed at all of the magical events and the clear "rightness" of what they were taught as infants, when their brain was still learning how to interpret the world around them.

You have decided that all of that is nonsense and fiction. Despite the full faith of billions of people over tens of thousands of years, you think that Thor is a fictional character, along with Old Man Coyote, Tengri, Nasilele, etc.

Or...maybe you believe that those are all trickster spirits and not the actual creator (as the OT describes it), but then why are there all these trickster spirits that teach values that are basically equivalent to Christian ones - be kind, don't murder folk, obey your parents, etc. - but only differ in whether they want you to slice parts off of your penis or stuff leaves up your nose? If it's a trickster deity, then the physical nonsense and rites and rituals all make sense, but that doesn't match up with the belief system. Nor do the rites and rituals make sense for a benevolent deity - and particularly not one that crafted quantum mechanics.

Let's assume that there really is a creator god, for example. Not faith, not a religious fiction, but a genuine Star Trek style alien with sufficiently advanced technology to create a universe.

Why does he create it?

Looking at humanity, the closest we've come is in using computers to model the climate. We create little mini-Earths that are abstractions of the real world - for ease of computation - in order to study the effects of climate change, predict the weather, etc.

Outside of this sort of scientific pursuit, it's not clear that there's much reason to create a full universe. When we create a world for a video game, for example, we design it like a theme park - like Disney World - because we want to be able to step right over from quest 1 to quest 2 without any downtime. The size of our smallest elements - polygons - are just small enough to seem curved according to the resolution that our eye can see at. Why bother spending the energy calculating a whole bunch of stuff too small to see?

Quarks are amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazingly tiny. The universe is amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazingly full of empty nothing. If God was playing with legos, and making a sculpture of an ant, it's like he's using 10 trillion legos just to make sure that the end of the ant's antenna is sufficiently round, and millions of trillions of legos just to build the whole sculpture. And then he's putting that ant in a gallery that's so huge that if had an elephant running around trying to find the ant sculpture, it would still need to run around for billions of years before ever, possibly, having a chance of actually spotting the sculpture off in the distance, let alone the billions of years it would take to run over to the thing once you did know which direction to run.

Why do that? If your goal is to create an ant sculpture and spend most of your focus on that ant and create a nice place for that ant to be seen, the quality of detail is just ludicrous and the setup completely moronic.

And then you give the ant life and tell it that if it doesn't obey you by chopping off part of its penis, that you'll disown it and leave it to fend for itself in the great empty gallery of nothing. And then you wait a few thousand years and tell the ant, "Okay, let's forget the penis part. Haha! Gotcha ya! Actually, I've killed a guy to take the blame for you being bad about that, so you're all clean now. What I'd really like is that you get rid of all of your possessions so long as there's no one more needful than you in the whole land and never ever get divorced. No worries, I'm sure you'll do great this time."

If we actually accept the reality of God, rather than just saying, "Spirituality, woohoo! I believe!" And then basically treat God like a fictional character that we've formed our social club around, we have to ask what the hell the motivation for all of this is.

If we ignore the book and penises and divorce, and just look at the observable universe, then the universe we see doesn't look like something that was created for the purpose of creating and analyzing life. The scale is too fine and the vacuum too large. It looks like what we would expect from someone doing something like modeling particle physics in a very large computer. And, by happenstance, that allowed for live to evolve, but that's just a side effect of wanting to observe how quantum objects interact with one another on massive scales.

Humans would both be so large compared to the objects being looked at (quarks and atoms) as to be be unrecognizable as life - just megaclumps of quarks - and at the same time so small compared to the big clumps creating suns that we would be lost in the great void.

We would expect life in all variety of forms to pop up all across the simulated universe, and for the scientists to have ethical obligations to simply ignore their existence, continue their study of quantum mechanics, and let all of the life they created disappear in a poof as soon as the simulation had produced the result they wanted and it was time to call it a day. It wouldn't make any sense for them to create all of this just so that they could make the sun shimmer in just one of the billions of galaxies they had created to give some sort of obscure sign that they're watching us. What's the point? Why not just create a flying viewer screen hovering on all sides of the planet, that everyone can see, that shows a real time video feed from inside their lab? I mean, they created the universe. They don't need to play it small and risk people being unconvinced because a bunch of people hiked out on a hot day and stared into the sun for 15 minutes while being told by a group of kids that any weird effects they see - while staring at the sun - are evidence of extra-dimensional aliens who envision a war between angel spirit and demon spirits in 50 years time. They can just get on the phone with us and be like, "Yo, we created you. Here's the straight story."

It is possible that something strange and unexplainable happened at Fatima. Atheists don't believe they know everything. Just the opposite, they're people who accept that they don't know something and are willing to let it lie there.

Back in the 60 or 70s, there was a famous mentalism act in the UK known as the Piddingtons who performed some extraordinary well-known acts for the BBC. In the story of their act, the man, Sidney, would say that he could read or send information with his wife, Lesley. She would be miles away, in an airplane, underwater, etc. with no communication devices but would be able to do things like read a line from a book that was randomly chosen by the audience back at the theater, at the exact moment that he "sent" that information by telepathy to her.

If you ask a magician how this was done, they'll say that they don't know. It's a mystery. But at the same time, they're not telling you that real magic happened. They just don't know, because there are multiple ways that the feat could be performed and they don't know which specific ones were used. Many of them could probably recreate the exact same result, but that wouldn't be evidence that that's what actually happened.

So should we say that it may have actually been real telepathy? Or should we say that skepticism should reign supreme - particularly when there are plausible explanations for the mystery? We don't say that we know what happened, we just say that we don't know, we doubt that the most outlandish explanation is correct, that less outlandish explanations are more likely, and minus further evidence that's sufficient.

A person who believes in telepahy would say that this a non-answer, unsupported by any evidence, and is simply unwillingness to accept the clear evidence presented in the BBC coverage:

https://www.thepiddingtons.com/broadcasts.html

But that's ignoring the greater evidence that, for example, other magicians - who fully admit that they're just conning people through sleight of hand and lies - have said that they can pull the same thing off. Or, in the case of God, it's ignoring that other religions profess equal miracles.

I'm currently reading a book written by the grandson of a couple who helped the Piddingtons to complete the act. Because they were willing to speak, there happens to be a factual answer that's not just speculation about how the performances were achieved.

With Fatima, we'll never know what happened. But billions of people have been convinced to believe that spirits want them to do silly things. I see no strong reason to believe that this isn't an extension of that.

If you graph the expected lifespan of mankind over history, it is quite low until the late 18th century and then suddenly rockets up from something like 40 years to 80 years, over the course of 200 years. Most of that difference comes from modern medicine and its ability to prevent the loss of about 30% of babies and infants before the age of 5.

On that graph, there is no similar shift after Jesus. If you didn't have the years listed along the bottom of the graph, you wouldn't know where Jesus fell on the graph. Not him, not Confucius, not Zoroaster, nobody.

The Bible doesn't ask people to treat women as their equals. It doesn't suggest democratic government. It doesn't say a damn thing about germs or quarantining. There's no warning to people to not go over the Atlantic and mingle with the natives in the new land until they've developed vaccines.

The world didn't become a better place nor even really a different place after Jesus showed up. His philosophy was not all that different from other philosophies suggested by other philosophers of the time, and his knowledge of God does not bear the scrutiny of archaeology. We know the history of Yahweh, in the Middle East, and it's clear that Jesus does not. If his goal was to improve the world, then why did it take 1800 years?

If something funny happened in Fatima, that's more liable to be a weird instance of ball lightning or sunstroke than bearded ancients that whisper poor philosophy into the ears of roaming mystics, playing a trick on crowds of bored people. I don't know what happened, and I can't prove that option B is the correct explanation versus options A, C, D, or E, but I don't strongly worry about the event because there are better explanations and Christianity doesn't offer anything to compel me to think that they'd have a better explanation for unexplained things than the other thousand religions. As of yet, all religions seem to fail the test of basic usefulness.

Let's consider meditation for example.

Lots of people practice meditation with the idea that it allows them to find their true self, open their mind, become better people, etc.

Well, Indians - the people who invented meditation - are the inventors of the Caste system, and the untouchables; a horrible and disgraceful practice that makes Jim Crow look pleasant.

This long supported, mystic tradition that millions of people vouch for having made them into better, stronger, more spiritual beings is, factually, unable to make people into better people.

What happened in the late 18th century was that people did the opposite of meditate - clearing their mind and trusting their instincts - instead they thought deep and hard, slaying all ideas that couldn't bear strict, ruthless scrutiny by the most skeptical bastard. And then they're write it down on paper and they'd send it to all their most skeptical and least easily convinced friends, around Europe, and have them shoot as many ideas down as stupid, wishful, and impractical as possible.

That made the world a better place. It has saved billions of lives over the last 200 years. Rabid skepticism has created gender equality, democratic government, and modern medicine. When Christianity brings something similar to the table, then we can start talking about miracles. Making the sun wobble, even if you convince me that it was achieved by some extra-dimensional spirit, still doesn't matter at the end of the day if the extra-dimensional spirit doesn't have any good ideas that are actually good for humanity.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:52 PM
EscAlaMike EscAlaMike is offline
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Also, and I was so stunned by your faceplant into the cosmological argument I didn't notice this immediately, but where on earth are you pulling this bizarre statement from?

If you're trying to argue that capital-G God is the christian god and thus he's the only god because he's the christian god and the christian god says there's only one god...well, among other problems, we can't infer the existence of capital-G God from the cosmological argument, so capital-G God's definition is utterly irrelevant.

If you're simply trying to argue that it's impossible for there to ever be more than one god around, regardless of the religion or theology under discussion, then you have an amazingly poor grasp of history.
The classical philosophical definition of God is essentially the one supreme source of all. By this argument, there could be other deities or divine beings, but only one can be supreme. This basic principle holds in all major world religions, western or eastern. That's what I meant by it.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:52 PM
Ignotus Ignotus is offline
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if what you have is the truth, then exposing it to honest investigation will not destroy it.
God vs Schrödinger! Who wins?

(Actually, more like God vs Heisenberg. But I never liked the guy. And I want a cat in my screenplay! )

Last edited by Ignotus; 09-21-2018 at 08:56 PM.
  #199  
Old 09-21-2018, 09:08 PM
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Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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You guys realize you're trying to reason him out of a position that he didn't reason himself into, right?
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  #200  
Old 09-21-2018, 11:28 PM
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eschereal eschereal is online now
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The classical philosophical definition of God is essentially the one supreme source of all. By this argument, there could be other deities or divine beings, but only one can be supreme. This basic principle holds in all major world religions, western or eastern. That's what I meant by it.
If you want to get classical classical, that seems to be inaccurate. Before monotheism, there have been several theologies that posited a pantheon.

And in fact, a pantheon might well be more philosophically sensible than a single deity, because the whole omnimax business is riddled with logical paradoxes. There is nothing to support one master-god as being more valid than a committee. And I even chatted with one christian type who asserted that the entity that created the universe was not the same entity currently managing it.
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