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  #101  
Old 05-22-2018, 03:24 PM
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It's because you selectively alter your God story to try to fit it in the gaps.
Changing one's viewpoint based on evidence is a good thing and should be applauded, not criticized.
  #102  
Old 05-22-2018, 03:30 PM
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Theists claim without evidence that God exists. Atheists claim without evidence that God doesn't exist. Both are making claims without evidence.

And for anyone who wants to argue that atheists don't claim that God doesn't exist, I refer you to posts 72, 78, 80, 85, and 96 in this very thread, all of which contain that very claim.

Why is it reasonable for begbert2, Voyager, and DavidwithanR to claim that God doesn't exist, but not reasonable for theists to claim that he does?
  #103  
Old 05-22-2018, 03:33 PM
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Changing one's viewpoint based on evidence is a good thing and should be applauded, not criticized.
If the viewpoint actually changes, sure.

Suppose, for a second, that science and history knocks the pillars out from under, oh, let's say every single story that describes God creating the world. And the chosen response to this is to say that all the creation stories are just stories - meaningless parables, similes, morality tales, whatever. Things that have no factual significance whatsoever.

Does the person then stop claiming that God created the universe? Do they stop referencing Adam and Eve like real people? Moses?

Nope. They move the goalpost to 'mythical' long enough to evade being crushed in argument, and then move it right back long enough to keep balancing their beliefs on top of them.

People who actually start thinking of God as a fictional character become atheists, at least regarding that God.
  #104  
Old 05-22-2018, 03:40 PM
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Theists claim without evidence that God exists. Atheists claim without evidence that God doesn't exist. Both are making claims without evidence.

And for anyone who wants to argue that atheists don't claim that God doesn't exist, I refer you to posts 72, 78, 80, 85, and 96 in this very thread, all of which contain that very claim.

Why is it reasonable for begbert2, Voyager, and DavidwithanR to claim that God doesn't exist, but not reasonable for theists to claim that he does?
I can't speak for anyone else, but I can confidently say that God (that is, the christian god Yahweh/El) doesn't exist because he's fictional. Literally everything I've ever seen or heard in my entire life supports the idea that he's fictional. Everything I've ever seen or heard suggests that humans don't have a pipeline to some extraphysical source of information - they think they do, but they're wrong. And because they're wrong, I can be absolutely confident that the nifty fairy tales they've invented are not based in fact - they're based in the foibles of human imagination, psychology, and/or duplicity. But either way in humans, and only in humans.

Now, does that mean that there are no gods anywhere, hiding in corners away from the light or floating around outside some plane of reality? Nope! I have no idea what's outside of human observation and experience. There might even be a deity out there that superficially resembles the christian god. But if there is any resemblance is coincidental, because humans can't detect it. It's not in their power. Regardless of their oft-recorded tendency toward wishful thinking.
  #105  
Old 05-22-2018, 03:53 PM
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I think that what is happening is that you're placing your preconceptions on the text rather than actually taking time to do comparative analysis of the text. The New Testament doesn't read anything at all like mythic literature. It just doesn't. As an example, the opening of the Aeneid which was written close to the New Testament using John Dryden's translation which was written shortly after the King James Version begins thusly:

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore.
Long labours, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town;
His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.
O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate;


Compare this to Mark:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

These are obviously extremely different types of texts. They're not even close to each other. I think instead if we compare Josephus's 'War of the Jews' we get a much more comparable type of text.

At the same time that Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, had a quarrel with the sixth Ptolemy about his right to the whole country of Syria, a great sedition fell among the men of power in Judea, and they had a contention about obtaining the government; while each of those that were of dignity could not endure to be subject to their equals. However, Onias, one of the high priests, got the better, and cast the sons of Tobias out of the city; who fled to Antiochus, and besought him to make use of them for his leaders, and to make an expedition into Judea. The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.

The text of the New Testament does not read like a mythology of the time period at all. It reads very similarly to a history of the era. Yes, exaggerations exist and authors using opinion as fact, but that is normal for histories written at the time. Your problem is that you find that particular history to be unbelievable and therefore you say it is mythology. That's OK. Someone might find the exploits of Alexander the Great to be unbelievable and that the nearest sources written about him are second hand and 100 years after his death, but that isn't evidence of his nonexistence. Nor does it confine Alexander the Great to the realm of mythology. The texts regarding Alexander are clearly meant to be taken as histories and don't compare in style or substance to contemporary mythological works.
  #106  
Old 05-22-2018, 03:53 PM
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If the viewpoint actually changes, sure.

Suppose, for a second, that science and history knocks the pillars out from under, oh, let's say every single story that describes God creating the world. And the chosen response to this is to say that all the creation stories are just stories - meaningless parables, similes, morality tales, whatever. Things that have no factual significance whatsoever.

Does the person then stop claiming that God created the universe? Do they stop referencing Adam and Eve like real people? Moses?

Nope. They move the goalpost to 'mythical' long enough to evade being crushed in argument, and then move it right back long enough to keep balancing their beliefs on top of them.

People who actually start thinking of God as a fictional character become atheists, at least regarding that God.
You seem to be operating under the belief that Christian belief in God is based solely on a literalist interpretation of the Bible. While there may be some sects that do so, most do not. For example, United Methodists' faith is based on "Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason". I'm sure other denominations are similar, with differences in the importance of various details. And scripture is definitely not interpreted literally. So evidence that some part of the Bible is not literally correct is met with shrugs, because you're agreeing with what is already understood.

Also, I find it strange that you consider "just stories - meaningless parables, similes, morality tales" to be unimportant. For me, stories are extremely important--it's the stories that humans tell each other that makes us human.
  #107  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:02 PM
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You seem to be operating under the belief that Christian belief in God is based solely on a literalist interpretation of the Bible. While there may be some sects that do so, most do not. For example, United Methodists' faith is based on "Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason". I'm sure other denominations are similar, with differences in the importance of various details. And scripture is definitely not interpreted literally. So evidence that some part of the Bible is not literally correct is met with shrugs, because you're agreeing with what is already understood.
I'm of the opinion that the vast, vast, vast majority of belief in the christian god (presuming you could distill it, filter it by source, and measure the buckets) comes from people being told it's true and then put in psychologically appealing environments, with "being told its true" without the psychologically appealing environments taking second place.

Which, as you'll note, isn't really objective evidence of anything.

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Also, I find it strange that you consider "just stories - meaningless parables, similes, morality tales" to be unimportant. For me, stories are extremely important--it's the stories that humans tell each other that makes us human.
Humans telling stories is nifty, but it doesn't make Sauron real. Or Frodo, or Twilight Sparkle, or Hodor...


ETA: Oh, and "it's not in the same style as epic poetry, thus it must be factually true!" is not compelling argument. As least not to me.

Last edited by begbert2; 05-22-2018 at 04:04 PM. Reason: fixed quote tag, and added ETA
  #108  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:09 PM
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This would be an example of creating a straw man argument.

I made no claim that a fundy atheist would call for making religious belief illegal. I only noted that such a person would wish to impose their views on the world. The law is hardly the only way in which to do that. (See, for example, post 80 following your response to me.) I also made no claim that fundy atheism was prevalent or widespread, only that it existed. I specifically noted that it was not a common belief.
Well, anyone who votes or writes an oped column or a letter to an editor is in some sense trying to impose their views on the world. Since you brought up this imposition as a bad thing, I assumed you were talking about something stronger than an opinion or sending a kid to Sunday school.
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Taking a materialist view of the world and arguing against the existence of a being for which there is no physical evidence is one legitimate expression of atheism. It is probably the most prevalent sort. Claiming that there is no possibility of a non-physical entity or that all religion is created for the sole purpose of fleecing naive believers or (particularly) that all religious belief has a malevolent aspect in which all believers are deliberately choosing to express a lie for the purpose of subjecting others to their will, (all ideas that have been expressed on this board at one time or another), parallels the expressions of fundy religious types that anyone who does not share a particular religious belief is willfully choosing to "disobey God."
I don't recall anyone claiming to know the motivations of religion inventors from thousands of years ago. More recent religions do seem to be based on some demonstrable lies. But since the very first priest probably didn't really talk to the volcano god, it might be true under our current understanding of what a lie is, but it might not be a lie from their understanding.
As for being 100% certain that there is no god, we'd have to wait until some evidence comes in that convincingly demonstrates the existence of a god. If God started writing today's NY Times headline in the stars I know some people said they'd still doubt it, and they have every right to be skeptical, but I suspect they might come around once it passes something like a Randi test.
Fundamentalism means many things, but one seems to be believing in writings despite the lack of evidence for them or evidence against them. No one calls a Christian a fundamentalist because he believes Jerusalem existed at the time of Jesus. Or that Jesus existed. Adam and Eve and the Flood, different story. By that token, I don't get how atheists are fundamentalists. Strident, forceful, loud yes.
  #109  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Theists claim without evidence that God exists. Atheists claim without evidence that God doesn't exist. Both are making claims without evidence.

And for anyone who wants to argue that atheists don't claim that God doesn't exist, I refer you to posts 72, 78, 80, 85, and 96 in this very thread, all of which contain that very claim.

Why is it reasonable for begbert2, Voyager, and DavidwithanR to claim that God doesn't exist, but not reasonable for theists to claim that he does?
Which god? I admit to making a claim that some gods don't exist, but not a claim that no gods exist. I may believe that, but I do not claim that I know it to be true.
  #110  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:22 PM
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The text of the New Testament does not read like a mythology of the time period at all. It reads very similarly to a history of the era. Yes, exaggerations exist and authors using opinion as fact, but that is normal for histories written at the time. Your problem is that you find that particular history to be unbelievable and therefore you say it is mythology. That's OK. Someone might find the exploits of Alexander the Great to be unbelievable and that the nearest sources written about him are second hand and 100 years after his death, but that isn't evidence of his nonexistence. Nor does it confine Alexander the Great to the realm of mythology. The texts regarding Alexander are clearly meant to be taken as histories and don't compare in style or substance to contemporary mythological works.
Yeah the NT (and even the Tanakh, does not sound like epic poetry. And it is written to be convincing, unlike the Iliad and Aeneid which was written for people believing in the existence of the gods. That does not make it not mythology. Would you consider American Gods mythology?
Alexander the Great was convinced that he was descended from gods, and some of the contemporary histories of him had fabulist elements. So even for secular historical figures you need to filter out some myths. One might be able to rewrite the story of Jesus without the miracles. Some miracles could be dropped without disturbing many Christians. I don't think the Vatican would tremble if we proved that the walking on water episode was made up, after all. That is an indication that what we have now is to some extent myth.
  #111  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:29 PM
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Yeah the NT (and even the Tanakh, does not sound like epic poetry. And it is written to be convincing, unlike the Iliad and Aeneid which was written for people believing in the existence of the gods. That does not make it not mythology. Would you consider American Gods mythology?
Alexander the Great was convinced that he was descended from gods, and some of the contemporary histories of him had fabulist elements. So even for secular historical figures you need to filter out some myths. One might be able to rewrite the story of Jesus without the miracles. Some miracles could be dropped without disturbing many Christians. I don't think the Vatican would tremble if we proved that the walking on water episode was made up, after all. That is an indication that what we have now is to some extent myth.
What definition of "myth(ology)" are you using?
  #112  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:34 PM
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Which god? I admit to making a claim that some gods don't exist, but not a claim that no gods exist. I may believe that, but I do not claim that I know it to be true.
After some consideration I decided that whenever the term is given as a capitalized proper noun, like a name, I would assume that the person is referring to some variant of Yahweh/El unless there's evidence otherwise.

This may come of living in America, but it seems reasonably safe.
  #113  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:34 PM
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Why is it reasonable for begbert2, Voyager, and DavidwithanR to claim that God doesn't exist, but not reasonable for theists to claim that he does?

Maybe they, like me, are polyatheists. There's a whole cornucopia of gods we just won't believe in.


More seriously though, false equivalence. The claim that any god exists is way more extraordinary than the inverse ; and as such requires much more support. No, the book isn't support.



The Universe as understood and described by science requires fuck all supernatural or extraordinary claims (inasmuch as "you are made of star stuff !" isn't in and of itself quite extraordinary, but I'm being all poetic and shit) and is 100% internally coherent as long as you don't look at the weird micro margins because subatomic particles are weird.
In comparison, "God did it by waving his hand" requires massive suspension of disbelief and special argumentation and raises a million further questions. I'm absolutely willing to respect religion as Bronze Age's temp solution to mankind's overactive pattern recognition meatware, be it "Yeah so God just poofed the planet into existence, go back to farming asshole" or "Thor's a massive Anvil fan, that's why lightning". But if you want me to actually put faith and credence into your BC myths that have been historically debunked and comparatively analyzed w/ other similar myths (wot you don't subscribe to because c'mon, who believes in Osiris ? #falsegod, amirite ?) you're going to have to work at it to say the least.
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  #114  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:39 PM
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That's not evidence against the existence of God, but rather the existence of the Exodus which are two completely different things (of course, you're also confusing archaeological and historical evidence and you're also making a logical mistake that 'absence of evidence equals evidence of absence.')
It does mean that if we should be able to see the evidence. Say someone claims that a flying saucer landed in AT&T Park in the middle of a Giant's game. I don't see what evidence would disprove it, but the absence of evidence in the sense of the appearance of the saucer on the TV coverage and lack of statements about the saucer from witnesses would be evidence of absence.
Closer to Christianity, supposedly saints rose from their graves and there was an Earthquake during the crucifixion or resurrection. However there is no evidence that anyone noted these interesting events. Do you accept that this is evidence for their absence?
Any such thing is only going to be evidence against certain types of gods. The Flood is evidence against the Fundamentalist class of god, not the Catholic class.
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To get back to our Julius Caesar example, Plutarch paints Brutus and Cassius as the leaders of the plot to kill Caesar. In popular culture, thanks to Shakespeare, we have largely followed that lead. Other historical evidence particularly from Nicolaus of Damascus and letters between Decimus and Cicero suggest that it was actually Decimus that led the plot to kill Caesar. All this is simply to say just because the historical evidence falls against Plutarch's specific account, it does not then provide evidence that Caesar didn't exist or that Plutarch is completely untrustworthy in regards to most of what he wrote.
First order, they all support the existence of Caesar. Second order, the details of his life and death have to be extracted from existing writing, compared, and the various sources examined for credibility. That is what historians do. If the writers didn't agree on the most fundamental parts of Caesar's life, we'd wonder. One might say he was fat, one thin. One might say he conquered Gaul, the other Germany. That no one agrees on even the basics of a god is good evidence, I think, that all the gods were generated locally. In the Christian view God created the entire universe but couldn't show up in the Americas until Columbus did.
Or as Captain Kirk might say, "why does God need a sailing ship?"
Judaism has this settled. The reason God didn't show up to anyone else is because he only wants to talk to us.
Or because he likes seeing us suffer.
  #115  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:40 PM
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Maybe they, like me, are polyatheists. There's a whole cornucopia of gods we just won't believe in.
Oh, there are whole scores of gods I don't believe in. Just like you can line up thousands of fictional characters in front of me and I'll perform the amazing feat of thinking they're all fictional at once! (I should sell tickets!)


(As an atheist I did seriously shoot myself in the foot once by looking at a styrofoam cup sitting on my desk and declaring that it was a god. In that instant I technically stopped being an atheist, because damn it all I still can't honestly say the cup didn't exist. That lingering fact continues to make me lingeringly uncomfortable about declaring my atheism to this very day.)

(Oh, and I've also declared that I'm a god, apropos of nothing and completely without evidence, but I can work about that by entertaining an inverse-solipsistic theory: Other things exist but I don't. But that cup, man. I just can't deny the cup.)
  #116  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:42 PM
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What definition of "myth(ology)" are you using?
Anything having to do with gods or godlike beings. I could add made up gods but since I think they are all made up I don't need to.
But a Fundamentalist Christian thinks the Flood in Gilgamesh is mythology but the similar Flood in Genesis is history.
  #117  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:45 PM
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Alexander the Great was convinced that he was descended from gods

Oversimplification. Yes, he (along with a great many Ancient political figures) publicly traced his lineage back to this or that god and his public PR strategy hinged in part on that. That's a far cry from claiming he believed his own bullshit. When he conquered Egypt and naturally faced local opposition, he made a special trip to the oasis of Siwa (which happened to be sacred to the locals), had a closed doors session with the priests and came out with a confirmation from the Oracle herself that he was the son of Amun - an Egyptian, rather than Macedonian, god. You don't have to be particularly cynical to grok that this was all socio-political theater rather than genuine belief.

Before that he'd made a point to paint himself as an Achilean figure when landing in Turkey, going out of his way to behave according to the Iliad and gathering "godly" artefacts like the Aegis (in real life version, some votive shield left in the local temple of Athena which nobody was allowed to take away. He did, wasn't smitten by the gods on the spot, there you go, anointed one !).


Religion has *always* been the opium of the masses. Also brain spiders.
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  #118  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:46 PM
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More seriously though, false equivalence. The claim that any god exists is way more extraordinary than the inverse ; and as such requires much more support. No, the book isn't support.
You don't even need to include extraordinary. The null hypothesis is the nonexistence of any god, since there is no reason to choose among the many possible ones. (That your parents believe in one is not a reason.) So we need good evidence that some god hypothesis is true - and it had better not be evidence that also supports many other god hypotheses. That the universe is not eternal fails in that respect.
It is pretty easy to think of some evidence that would do. Stuff clearly written in a Holy Book about the nature of the universe that would be impossible for the people who wrote it to know would be one. (Not proof - aliens might have dictated it - but evidence.)
We don't got any.
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Old 05-22-2018, 04:51 PM
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Oversimplification. Yes, he (along with a great many Ancient political figures) publicly traced his lineage back to this or that god and his public PR strategy hinged in part on that. That's a far cry from claiming he believed his own bullshit. When he conquered Egypt and naturally faced local opposition, he made a special trip to the oasis of Siwa (which happened to be sacred to the locals), had a closed doors session with the priests and came out with a confirmation from the Oracle herself that he was the son of Amun - an Egyptian, rather than Macedonian, god. You don't have to be particularly cynical to grok that this was all socio-political theater rather than genuine belief.

Before that he'd made a point to paint himself as an Achilean figure when landing in Turkey, going out of his way to behave according to the Iliad and gathering "godly" artefacts like the Aegis (in real life version, some votive shield left in the local temple of Athena which nobody was allowed to take away. He did, wasn't smitten by the gods on the spot, there you go, anointed one !).


Religion has *always* been the opium of the masses. Also brain spiders.
I've seen some writing saying that he did believe it, which does not in any way say that he wouldn't do the stuff you mention. He also married a Persian princess in a ceremony based around her religion. he might have done it believing that all sets of gods existed or only out of political expediency. A lot more pluralism back then.
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Old 05-22-2018, 04:55 PM
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I've seen some writing saying that he did believe it, which does not in any way say that he wouldn't do the stuff you mention. He also married a Persian princess in a ceremony based around her religion. he might have done it believing that all sets of gods existed or only out of political expediency. A lot more pluralism back then.

Which reminds me, I still have to read Did the Greek believe in their myths ? by Veyne. On the other hand, I also still have *so many* Civilization V achievements to earn...
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  #121  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:55 PM
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Theists claim without evidence that God exists. Atheists claim without evidence that God doesn't exist. Both are making claims without evidence.

And for anyone who wants to argue that atheists don't claim that God doesn't exist, I refer you to posts 72, 78, 80, 85, and 96 in this very thread, all of which contain that very claim.
An atheist may make a claim that gods don't exist but to profess to be an atheist is not, de facto, to make such a claim.
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  #122  
Old 05-22-2018, 05:42 PM
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Which, as you'll note, isn't really objective evidence of anything.
Don’t move the goalposts—who here is claiming to have objective evidence?

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Humans telling stories is nifty, but it doesn't make Sauron real. Or Frodo, or Twilight Sparkle, or Hodor...
I did mention that few Christians base their faith on only the Bible.
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Old 05-22-2018, 05:58 PM
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Don’t move the goalposts—who here is claiming to have objective evidence?
Well, senoy has been making some bizarre arguments regarding how the semantic structure of the bible means it's not fictional, or something, which seems pretty incoherent but to the degree the argument actually exists as an argument, it is based on objectively observable things: the texts in question.

Also, I'll just tell you straight up, if you want to claim that there's evidence for God existing then objective evidence is the way to go. Subjective evidence tends not to fly with the atheist crowd.

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I did mention that few Christians base their faith on only the Bible.
And I mentioned that most of them base their faith on unsupported assertions and feel-good experiences. This undermines their ability to convince skeptics of anything, because feel-good experiences are not reliably transferable to other people and because unsupported assertions are unsupported assertions.


We seem to be talking about whether the two groups: theists (christians, really) and atheists (hard atheists, really) are able to defend their positions, and to a lesser degree whether they should have to. My position on these subjects:

-Christians absolutely suck at defending their position.
-Atheists are pretty decent at defending their position, proportionally to how good the christians are at defining their own deities.

-Christians only have to defend their position when they make implausible assertions like "God exists."
-Atheists only have to defend their position when they make implausible assertions like "God exists."
  #124  
Old 05-22-2018, 06:21 PM
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I think senoy is arguing that some of the Bible is not myth, and not taking a stance on whether it’s factual or fictional. It’s about the category of literature.

Otherwise I tend to agree with everything in your post. Seeking objective evidence of God is unproductive, since having it could lead to belief without faith. (For example, one doesn’t have faith in gravity.)

It’s reasonable for someone to be unconvinced by another’s subjective experiences. It’s reasonable to reject an unfalsifiable assertion.

As a final note: whether a statement is actually true or false is independent of the qualities of the one asserting it. Bayesians may disagree.
  #125  
Old 05-22-2018, 06:28 PM
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Seeking objective evidence of God is unproductive, since having it could lead to belief without faith.
It's pretty useful to have on hand if one wants to get the atheists to stop being all critical and annoying at you, though.
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Old 05-22-2018, 07:36 PM
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It's pretty useful to have on hand if one wants to get the atheists to stop being all critical and annoying at you, though.
The world would be better if more theists understood that faith is not about proof. And also if more atheists understood that as well.
  #127  
Old 05-22-2018, 08:11 PM
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The world would be better if more theists understood that faith is not about proof. And also if more atheists understood that as well.
I think most atheists do understand that faith isn't about proof - we're just scornful of it. Faith, which many atheists define as "unjustified belief" often seems to lead to bad decisions with bad outcomes - faith healers being an example thereof.

To a theist who likes faith, it's a grandfatherly and utterly reliable god reaching out his hand and saying, "Trust in me" - an act which will never fail to be rewarded.

To a more skeptical atheist, it's more like a greased up car salesman waggling a cigar and slyly saying, "It's good - trust me!"
  #128  
Old 05-22-2018, 09:15 PM
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I can totally understand skepticism of faith. It’s not easy or rational to trust without certainty. I don’t expect anyone to be convinced to have faith; it has to be an internal revelation.

I’m very much in favor of calling out those who make bad decisions and do bad things in the name of faith. Too many Christians forget the part of the greatest commandment to use one’s “whole mind”. Often while disobeying the second greatest commandment “love your neighbor”.

Implicit scorn while not change anyone’s mind. And the applies to everyone.
  #129  
Old 05-22-2018, 11:15 PM
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Implicit scorn while not change anyone’s mind. And the applies to everyone.
I don't actually expect to change anyone's mind - I've known too many intractable theists to think that a single one of them will be persuaded by something as crude and non-enlightened as reason or evidence. Plus it ain't like atheism promises a pony or a cake or something as reward for adopting it - it more it trying to get people to recognize and calmly accept that religion's cake is a lie.

So why do I argue about it? Well, losing battle aside, some things religion pushes for are abhorrent and deserve opposition, even doomed opposition. Plus I just like to debate. What? It's in the forum title.
  #130  
Old 05-23-2018, 10:59 AM
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Theists claim without evidence that God exists. Atheists claim without evidence that God doesn't exist. Both are making claims without evidence.
This is why I term myself as a strong agnostic and not an atheist. I don't know Russell's teapot does not exist but I find no evidence for it and really do not care to expend much in the way of resources looking for any. If you, on the other hand assert that it does exist, I feel perfectly comfortable in asking for your evidence and considering, "I just know," as insufficient.
  #131  
Old 05-23-2018, 11:51 AM
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This is why I term myself as a strong agnostic and not an atheist.
If you don't have a belief in god then you are an atheist, you can also be a strong agnostic at the same time. It isn't an either/or.
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  #132  
Old 05-23-2018, 11:58 AM
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And, here we go. It's an ironclad rule of the SDMB: eventually, every thread with any relation to religion will eventually devolve into a debate over the definition of "atheist."
  #133  
Old 05-23-2018, 01:30 PM
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I don't actually expect to change anyone's mind - I've known too many intractable theists to think that a single one of them will be persuaded by something as crude and non-enlightened as reason or evidence. .

Whereas every atheist is entirely tractable, and always ready to be swayed by reason and evidence.
  #134  
Old 05-23-2018, 01:36 PM
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Whereas every atheist is entirely tractable, and always ready to be swayed by reason and evidence.
No, but only due to the fact that "every" and "entirely" are absolutes.
  #135  
Old 05-23-2018, 02:38 PM
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And, here we go. It's an ironclad rule of the SDMB: eventually, every thread with any relation to religion will eventually devolve into a debate over the definition of "atheist."
Well, the reason for that is right there in the banner, under the name of the site.
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  #136  
Old 05-23-2018, 02:50 PM
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Whereas every atheist is entirely tractable, and always ready to be swayed by reason and evidence.
Atheists keep saying over and over and over and over and over again that if they were to see some actual convincing evidence, like for example god coming down to earth and doing actual god-level miracles in controlled conditions, or if they die and wake up in an afterlife, they would promptly start believing just as soon as the reason and evidence compels them to. This is something atheists actually say quite frequently.

Nobody believes them.

If people did believe them, then that would be like admitting that the current objective evidence in favor of god X is garbage, which would be an uncomfortable thing to admit.

Last edited by begbert2; 05-23-2018 at 02:51 PM. Reason: typos
  #137  
Old 05-23-2018, 04:59 PM
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I can totally understand skepticism of faith. It’s not easy or rational to trust without certainty. I don’t expect anyone to be convinced to have faith; it has to be an internal revelation.
We're not talking about trust without certainty. We're talking about faith and trust in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Faith in a loving God who allows hundreds of thousands to die in natural disasters. Faith in the one God of the entire universe who couldn't get to Peru.

The guy at the racetrack says he has information, and even lets you look at the cover of a book. Yet his picks come in at a rate easily explainable by chance. But he has a story explaining each bad choice. Do you keep the faith, or do you walk away since it is clear that despite this guy hanging around the track for years he knows no more than you do.
Atheists walk away.
  #138  
Old 06-01-2018, 09:02 PM
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Don’t make the mistake of equating the gospels with the New Testament. Spend some quality time with the book of revelations and then let’s have a chat about mythology.

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I think that what is happening is that you're placing your preconceptions on the text rather than actually taking time to do comparative analysis of the text. The New Testament doesn't read anything at all like mythic literature. It just doesn't. As an example, the opening of the Aeneid which was written close to the New Testament using John Dryden's translation which was written shortly after the King James Version begins thusly:

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore.
Long labours, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town;
His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.
O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate;


Compare this to Mark:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

These are obviously extremely different types of texts. They're not even close to each other. I think instead if we compare Josephus's 'War of the Jews' we get a much more comparable type of text.

At the same time that Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, had a quarrel with the sixth Ptolemy about his right to the whole country of Syria, a great sedition fell among the men of power in Judea, and they had a contention about obtaining the government; while each of those that were of dignity could not endure to be subject to their equals. However, Onias, one of the high priests, got the better, and cast the sons of Tobias out of the city; who fled to Antiochus, and besought him to make use of them for his leaders, and to make an expedition into Judea. The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.

The text of the New Testament does not read like a mythology of the time period at all. It reads very similarly to a history of the era. Yes, exaggerations exist and authors using opinion as fact, but that is normal for histories written at the time. Your problem is that you find that particular history to be unbelievable and therefore you say it is mythology. That's OK. Someone might find the exploits of Alexander the Great to be unbelievable and that the nearest sources written about him are second hand and 100 years after his death, but that isn't evidence of his nonexistence. Nor does it confine Alexander the Great to the realm of mythology. The texts regarding Alexander are clearly meant to be taken as histories and don't compare in style or substance to contemporary mythological works.
  #139  
Old 06-01-2018, 09:11 PM
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Don’t make the mistake of equating the gospels with the New Testament. Spend some quality time with the book of revelations and then let’s have a chat about mythology.
Revelations is Apocalyptic literature, a common genre of the time. It was specific to post-Exilic Judaism and was adopted by Millenialist Christians in the first and second centuries. It doesn't read like mythology.
  #140  
Old 06-01-2018, 10:15 PM
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Revelations is Apocalyptic literature, a common genre of the time. It was specific to post-Exilic Judaism and was adopted by Millenialist Christians in the first and second centuries. It doesn't read like mythology.


Why do you say it doesn't read like mythology?
  #141  
Old 06-02-2018, 01:29 AM
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Theists claim without evidence that God exists. Atheists claim without evidence that God doesn't exist. Both are making claims without evidence.

And for anyone who wants to argue that atheists don't claim that God doesn't exist, I refer you to posts 72, 78, 80, 85, and 96 in this very thread, all of which contain that very claim.

Why is it reasonable for begbert2, Voyager, and DavidwithanR to claim that God doesn't exist, but not reasonable for theists to claim that he does?
Because if there's no reason to believe something exists, there's no reason to state that it does. If you heard that every day I went out expecting to find a dragon guarding my driveway, and you asked why I expected a dragon and I said "Because I know it's there"...

Wouldn't you ask WHY I know it's there, considering I've never seen the dragon and neither has anyone else?


Lots of things don't exist. Lots of things are not happening. Is it suddenly necessary to provide proof to you every hour that my shoes are still not on fire? Should I demand proof that you don't have a macaque in your pocket?
  #142  
Old 06-02-2018, 01:41 AM
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I can totally understand skepticism of faith. It’s not easy or rational to trust without certainty. I don’t expect anyone to be convinced to have faith; it has to be an internal revelation.

I’m very much in favor of calling out those who make bad decisions and do bad things in the name of faith. Too many Christians forget the part of the greatest commandment to use one’s “whole mind”. Often while disobeying the second greatest commandment “love your neighbor”.

Implicit scorn while not change anyone’s mind. And the applies to everyone.
In the context you're describing, "not rational" equals "not valid". It is not valid to believe that something exists when there is absolutely no indication that it might. There is not the slightest indication anywhere that a god might exist, other than a collection of stories fabricated just for the purpose of convincing you. Using your "whole mind" entails rejecting false reports. You cannot be using your "whole mind" and at the same time believe that a god exists.

I'm an atheist Christian and I believe God is a positive and good figment of my imagination.

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  #143  
Old 06-02-2018, 01:53 AM
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In the context you're describing, "not rational" equals "not valid". It is not valid to believe that something exists when there is absolutely no indication that it might. There is not the slightest indication anywhere that a god might exist, other than a collection of stories fabricated just for the purpose of convincing you. Using your "whole mind" entails rejecting false reports. You cannot be using your "whole mind" and at the same time believe that a god exists.

I'm an atheist Christian and I believe God is a positive and good figment of my imagination.


An atheist Christian? I don't believe I've ever encountered one of those before.
  #144  
Old 06-02-2018, 01:53 AM
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Why do you say it doesn't read like mythology?
Well, for one thing, it's presented as a prediction, a prophecy. For another, it contains obvious references to the current day, just in somewhat coded form.

What it doesn't read like is a bunch of traditional stories from the past explaining how the world works.

The gospels, on the other hand, do somewhat read like a mythology, since Jesus was in the past by the time all of them were written--albeit, no the long past. Especially when one looks at the early history of Jesus before his ministry. Those sound like myths.
  #145  
Old 06-02-2018, 02:10 AM
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An atheist Christian? I don't believe I've ever encountered one of those before.
Well, I guess you can be glad you got it over with, or something.
  #146  
Old 06-02-2018, 05:39 AM
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I think that what is happening is that you're placing your preconceptions on the text rather than actually taking time to do comparative analysis of the text. The New Testament doesn't read anything at all like mythic literature. It just doesn't.
You appear to confusing mythic with epic. There is nothing about myth that requires a specific form of presentation. Myths are stories that express and reinforce the the beliefs of a people as True. Poetic presentation or descriptions of past events are not in any way required of myth. Epics may be used to express myth, but they are only one method of presenting myth.
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