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Old 02-06-2020, 06:45 AM
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Would a time machine kill religion


I got to thinking about why religion is so pervasive with humans. It seems that we started developing religion pretty early on.

I donít mean to offend the believers but it seems to me that religion is born out of ignorance and fear. Not understanding the bigger mysteries of life and the fear of death, what happens to our collection of memories and love for other people after that.

These are natural thoughts. But today science provides answers to most of these in my opinion. I donít believe in Moses, historical Jesus, the great flood, parting the seas or turning water into wine.

If someone invented a time machine and anyone could go back and observe that these claimed events didnít happen as described in the Bible would the visual evidence be enough for the faithful to cast out their belief system?

I only use the above as examples, I mean this to apply to all supernatural religions not just Christianity.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:31 AM
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No. You're talking about people for whom facts and evidence are literally immaterial. You might convince a few fence-sitters, but ignorance and fear are much more powerful than science and fact. The retconning would be epic.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:36 AM
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Noop! The hope that we will be reunited with those that love us after we die along with the desire to see “true justice “ meted out (bad people get sent to hell) is stronger than rational thought.


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Old 02-06-2020, 07:41 AM
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Don't you understand what "faith" means?
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:43 AM
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If someone invented a time machine and anyone could go back and observe that these claimed events didnít happen as described in the Bible would the visual evidence be enough for the faithful to cast out their belief system?
I agree with DCnDC. Believers already believe without any evidence. Why would they change their mind if you gave them even more lack of evidence?
If you sent them back to the exact time and location of a biblical event and there was nothing going on, it would be trivial for them to explain their way out of it using anything from 'historical timeline is a bit fuzzy, maybe it happened earlier/later/elsewhere and that's why I didn't see it' all the way to the ever popular 'god works in mysterious ways' and everything in between.

I think a lot of people also wouldn't want to go and seek real proof, for fear of upsetting their belief system.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:47 AM
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I know a lot of Catholics who don’t believe any of the abundant “nutty” aspects of the religion yet they still “believe.”


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Old 02-06-2020, 07:50 AM
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Let's ask the same question about 9/11 deniers. If we could transport them back to September 11, 2001, and showed them planes crashing into buildings, do you think they would change their irrational beliefs?
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:53 AM
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Religions can be thought of as using wisdom to combat the unknown, an important skill for someone in a primitive society, and also there are satisfying answers for the person. Now science competes using knowledge to combat the unknown.

But religion goes further, as it only simulates a relationship with God. I say simulate because that's what it is. At first the person who knew God tries to explain it to others, but they, like many here on the SDMB, can't understand what that means. So instructions have to be set up for them (like many here ask), rituals etc. It's all BS except it's based on a personal interaction of God and the attempt to explain that. But that simulation does help, not only as it is a pattern to dismiss as false, it is also patterned after the relationship with God to help us learn what that means and to see how it works.

And it does work, the relationship with God is awesome, it explains the shit in one's life, giving great insight. And that's why so many people used religion, because it works.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:47 AM
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Don't you understand what "faith" means?
Sure but I understand faith, relating to religion, as belief that the teachings and events in the Bible are true. Such as God in heaven or Jesus rising from the dead. No one alive today was there so I canít *know* if they are really true or not. Were I a believer I would have to have faith they were true. But a time machine would circumvent the unknown aspect of these things.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:00 AM
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If someone invented a time machine and anyone could go back and observe that these claimed events didnít happen as described in the Bible would the visual evidence be enough for the faithful to cast out their belief system?

I only use the above as examples, I mean this to apply to all supernatural religions not just Christianity.
Sounds like your focus isn't necessarily supernatural religions but event-based religions: religions that depend on specific historical events having happened.

You would, of course, need something more than a time machine: it would also have to be a place machine. Merely being around at the same chronological time that something supposedly happened won't tell you whether it actually did.

And, of course, how do you observe something not happening? If you're looking for evidence that the Crucifixion, for example, didn't happen, how do you time-travel to where it didn't happen and say, "Yep, it didn't happen"?

And I could turn the question around and ask someone like the OP: if you could time-travel and see that certain events actually did happen, would that make you a religious person?

Of course this is all hypothetical: it assumes the existence of a time machineóand could you trust what it showed you? could it be used to change the past? and if so, would the concept of "what actually happened" even still make sense, since that could change? Are some of those religious claims you hope to disprove any harder to swallow than a time machine itself?

That said, I do think that some people would indeed rethink their beliefs if they could somehow witness the historical truth behind the events that their religion says happened.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:06 AM
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There are plenty of ignorant, evidence ignoring religious people, but certainly not all of them are. I think with access to a time machine, religion would certainly change, but it wouldn't go away. And yes, lots of followers of existing sects would continue to ignore any evidence that is contrary to their established beliefs, but for a lot of people, their beliefs will change and gain some nuance. But for the most part, it was never about factual historic accuracy in the first place.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:09 AM
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I have faith that there will never be such a thing as a time machine.

But think about it. There are no such things as miracles, because they violate the laws of science. Here is a machine that violates the laws of science, telling us that nothing violated the laws of science. Why should I believe in the one miracle, but not the other? And vice versa.

If someone said they had a time machine and it showed that the miracles of the Bible (or whatever) actually happened, would you believe it?

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Shodan
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:29 AM
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If there were a time machine that went back in time, and these events never happened, and people trusted the time machine as truth itself, then yes, religion would be debunked.


FTR, I do believe all the Biblical miracles happened. But if they didn't happen, then they didn't happen.

Last edited by Velocity; 02-06-2020 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:34 AM
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And, of course, how do you observe something not happening? If you're looking for evidence that the Crucifixion, for example, didn't happen, how do you time-travel to where it didn't happen and say, "Yep, it didn't happen"?
The deeply devoted can (and often do) spin something like that into even more evidence. How often is the 'god's plan for me' line of reasoning used, especially when it comes to some type of setback in someone's life.
For example, the time traveler could say "Seeing the crucifixion isn't part of god's plan for me. I have faith that it happened and that's all I need".
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:35 AM
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The book [I]The Light of Other Days[/I] is about the consequences of the invention of a wormhole generator. It generates only microscopic wormholes, but they can open to any place on Earth and any time in the past (including 0.01 seconds ago.) You can't transmit information to the past, but thanks to applied phlebotinium you can see and hear everything from the past. One thing that happened in the book was a project for thousands of volunteers to collectively watch every minute of Jesus's life to document everything about it.

(eta posting from Chrome for the first time and no idea why it screwed up the URL, if a mod could please fix the link and Italicize the book title.)

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Old 02-06-2020, 09:37 AM
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It's time for some artificial speciation. Those who prefer to use "belief" as the foundation of their worldview and "prayer" as their primary means of effecting change can live in one society; and those that rely more on "reason" and "action" can live in the other. Shouldn't be too long before one population or the other collapses. No need to go wreaking havoc on spacetime with a time machine.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:38 AM
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Sounds like your focus isn't necessarily supernatural religions but event-based religions: religions that depend on specific historical events having happened.
The problem is that most of the event-based tenants of religion are supernatural. Talking burning bushes, living inside of whales, rising from the dead. Events yes, but supernatural ones.

My hypothetical of a (for all practical purposes, magical) time machine supposes all of the time/place issues could be solved.

The point of the OP is not how accurate a time machine could be but would visual evidence of biblical events not happening change believers minds.

Instead of a time machine, insert a crystal ball or better yet a wormhole and a really powerful telescope if that would be more palatable to you.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:53 AM
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If there were a time machine that went back in time, and these events never happened, and people trusted the time machine as truth itself, then yes, religion would be debunked.


FTR, I do believe all the Biblical miracles happened. But if they didn't happen, then they didn't happen.
But if you were given evidence that they indeed did not happen, how would that effect your faith?
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:59 AM
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The OP seems to be going on the assumption that faith is a "backup plan" for when actual facts and knowledge are not available. To the faithful, this is not the case at all. Faith itself is a gift, an end in itself.

I don't believe there has ever been a society without religion of some sort or anther on this planet. It seems to be an innate part of human nature. Of course, much like colorblindness, there are always a few individuals who seem to lack the essential ingredients, but I don't know of any society where lack of religion has taken over the culture. If there were any, I'd love to hear about them.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:04 AM
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The problem is that most of the event-based tenants of religion are supernatural. Talking burning bushes, living inside of whales, rising from the dead. Events yes, but supernatural ones.
How is that "the problem," though? It seems to me that your question wouldn't be much changed if they weren't supernatural; but it would fall apart if they weren't events.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:09 AM
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Christians will be faced with simple dilemma: either continue to trust a number of amazing relics (such as the shroud or seamless robe) or start believing in a new contraption and the so-called evidence it provides. I don't see how the future society cannot be increasingly motivated by cultural tribalism.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:39 AM
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The OP seems to be going on the assumption that faith is a "backup plan" for when actual facts and knowledge are not available. To the faithful, this is not the case at all. Faith itself is a gift, an end in itself.

I don't believe there has ever been a society without religion of some sort or anther on this planet. It seems to be an innate part of human nature. Of course, much like colorblindness, there are always a few individuals who seem to lack the essential ingredients, but I don't know of any society where lack of religion has taken over the culture. If there were any, I'd love to hear about them.
Not being religious is a defect?
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:25 AM
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Given the large number of Christians who reject the evidence that there was no flood and that the Earth is old today, I'd guess that they would make up excuses. The time machine sent the travelers to another time line. God is hiding to make sure they have faith.

Even if everyone responded to the evidence rationally, there would still be deists.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:38 AM
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...I don't know of any society where lack of religion has taken over the culture. If there were any, I'd love to hear about them.
Isn't that one of the basic features of a communist society? Yes, there were religious sects in Soviet Russia, but I'm pretty sure that 'lack of religion' was the dominant culture.

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I don't believe there has ever been a society without religion of some sort or anther on this planet. It seems to be an innate part of human nature
I think you have it slightly off: the innate human quality is to wonder and contemplate; religion is one result of that thinking, but so is science, art, and invention.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:38 AM
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Sure but I understand faith, relating to religion, as belief that the teachings and events in the Bible are true.
In addition to the fact that are lots of people who are religious who are members of religions other than those of the People of the Book: there are plenty of people who are faithful Christians, or Jews, or Muslims, who take large portions of that Book to be allegorical.

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Noop! The hope that we will be reunited with those that love us after we die along with the desire to see “true justice “ meted out (bad people get sent to hell) is stronger than rational thought.
If I remove the snark from that: yes. It's very important for many people to believe that in some sense they, and their loved ones, aren't going to die. It's very important for many people to believe that there is some sense of justice in the universe; though not necessarily one that involves hellfire. For people who need either part of this in order to keep functioning, disproving a specific event will either have no effect, or seriously screw them up. Disbelieving in the time machine would most likely be the easiest way out of this for such people. [ETA: the ones who would otherwise be screwed up; not the ones who will just say 'that particular account must be an allegory, or have happened somewhere else, or at some other time'.]

And if believing that justice inheres in the universe, not just in social species, makes it possible for the human species to try to get closer to it: I'm not going to complain. (Except, of course, when people's religion causes them to try to work, IMO, against justice. That I will complain about.) Or if believing that there'll be a reunion with loved ones after death makes it possible for some people to get up in the morning and take care of, say, their remaining kids: sometimes you've got to do what gives you the strength to keep going.

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It's time for some artificial speciation. Those who prefer to use "belief" as the foundation of their worldview and "prayer" as their primary means of effecting change can live in one society; and those that rely more on "reason" and "action" can live in the other. Shouldn't be too long before one population or the other collapses.
I suspect the society that survives will be the one made up of the huge numbers of people somewhere in the middle; plus the people who were mostly on one end or the other, but who insisted on continuing to talk with everybody else.

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Old 02-06-2020, 11:47 AM
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Most people are pretty flexible on whether certain things from the Bible are literal or metaphorical. I don't think that would work on any religious person that didn't take the Bible 100% literally. Sure, you could maybe convince a young-earther of some stuff, but that's it.
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:41 PM
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How is that "the problem," though?
By problem I mean't from the standpoint of your either/or argument.

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It seems to me that your question wouldn't be much changed if they weren't supernatural...
I'm having trouble understanding your meaning. Taking Christianity, isn't an omnipotent (supernatural) God the driving force? Describe a what a religion would look like without a supernatural aspect (and by that I mean a religion someone would actually follow). Or better yet, point to any major religion that doesn't contain an aspect of that. Without miracles what motivation is there to believe?
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:49 PM
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I know a lot of Catholics who donít believe any of the abundant ďnuttyĒ aspects of the religion yet they still ďbelieve.Ē


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I'm a non-practicing Catholic, if there is such a thing, and I've had many a heart-to-heart where another Catholic would say things like "OK, I don't believe it's LITERALLY the body and blood of Christ" or even "OK, the virgin birth isn't likely true, but the important part is the message"
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:51 PM
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How would a time machine prove or disprove the existence of God? I knew someone who was a Deist and didn't believe in any miracles, but still believed in God. He later became a Christian, but believed in God before that.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:59 PM
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Even if you could go back all the way to the Big Bang, many religious people would say "God did that".
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:04 PM
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I'm having trouble understanding your meaning. Taking Christianity, isn't an omnipotent (supernatural) God the driving force?
But how could a time machine "kill" that? The best that your proposed time machine could do would be to establish that a particular miracle did not happen, not that miracles in general have never happened, let alone that a supernatural God doesn't exist.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:27 PM
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You also gotta remember that much of the Bible was written well after the events depicted take place. Even if you believe that Moses was a real guy, nobody thinks he personally witnessed the Adam and Eve story, the Flood, etc. So, he'd probably get some slack for getting some of the details wrong.

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Old 02-06-2020, 02:03 PM
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Most people are pretty flexible on whether certain things from the Bible are literal or metaphorical. I don't think that would work on any religious person that didn't take the Bible 100% literally. Sure, you could maybe convince a young-earther of some stuff, but that's it.
I think you're missing the point. Sure, showing that some of the stories didn't happen won't change very many minds. But most religions have critical events. Show Jesus was actually born in Nazareth. Monitor his body and show he never rose. Show Joseph Smith composing the Book of Mormon while chuckling about the suckers. That's the kind of thing which will hurt non-deistic religions.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:06 PM
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If someone invented a time machine and anyone could go back and observe that these claimed events didnít happen as described in the Bible would the visual evidence be enough for the faithful to cast out their belief system?

I only use the above as examples, I mean this to apply to all supernatural religions not just Christianity.
I'm rostered laity and a worship leader in the ELCA. As such I believe everything in the Bible and feel that two or three of the things probably happened. . In other words I'm not one of those unerring-word types.

Considering science has already showed at least a foundation for some of the things in the Bible, what could a time machine change? That the Great Flood didn't happen? I'm not real worried if it did or not and neither is our denomination. Watch Moses not part the Reed Sea? Nope -- don't bother me much at all. Prove that Jesus never existed? Going by what science and written history currently has I don't think you could do it but I have a feeling even if you did we would still have about the same number of heads in the pews Sunday morning. It could fade faster than it already is afterwards but I don't see it as a deal-breaker.

So in short I don't think it would kill religion. It would change it but people of faith will always seek a faith; no matter what name or form we give to it. And if worse comes to worse we could always become atheists; or as we like to call it "faith lite".
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:24 PM
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But if you were given evidence that they indeed did not happen, how would that effect your faith?
If it's proven they didn't happen, then, they didn't happen.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:25 PM
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You also gotta remember that much of the Bible was written well after the events depicted take place. Even if you believe that Moses was a real guy, nobody thinks he personally witnessed the Adam and Eve story, the Flood, etc. So, he'd probably get some slack for getting some of the details wrong.
But the belief is that Scripture is divinely inspired - in other words, Moses wasn't just writing it because of hearsay to hearsay to hearsay (in which case, like a game of telephone, the facts can be distorted worse and worse with each retelling) - he was writing it with specially given knowledge.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:39 PM
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I think you're missing the point. Sure, showing that some of the stories didn't happen won't change very many minds. But most religions have critical events. Show Jesus was actually born in Nazareth. Monitor his body and show he never rose. Show Joseph Smith composing the Book of Mormon while chuckling about the suckers. That's the kind of thing which will hurt non-deistic religions.
There is a mountain of evidence that Joseph Smith is a fraud; you don't need a time machine to prove that to a person with an open mind. I know, I'm one of them. The key is the open mind, not the proof.

If you aren't open to changing your mind, NO evidence to the contrary will work.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:47 PM
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But the belief is that Scripture is divinely inspired - in other words, Moses wasn't just writing it because of hearsay to hearsay to hearsay (in which case, like a game of telephone, the facts can be distorted worse and worse with each retelling) - he was writing it with specially given knowledge.
There may be people that believe that, but that's not based off anything in the actual Bible. Nowhere does it say that god dictated the 5 books to Moses or that he wrote it down from a vision or anything like that. At least, no where that I've seen.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:17 PM
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Sure but I understand faith, relating to religion, as belief that the teachings and events in the Bible are true.
So the entire basis of this thread is your misunderstanding of religion.

I think I've encountered more nonreligious biblical literalists like the OP than actual religious biblical literalists on these boards.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:20 PM
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In all honesty, if you could build and demonstrate a working time machine, the structure of established scientific theoretical concepts would take a bigger hit than those of religion.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:32 PM
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If it's proven they didn't happen, then, they didn't happen.
And that would:
1. Increase your faith
2. Not effect your faith
3. Lessen your faith
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:42 PM
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We all had a “time machine” (video tape) to revisit the Rodney King beating and to this day there isn’t a consensus on what really happened.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:47 PM
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And that would:
1. Increase your faith
2. Not effect your faith
3. Lessen your faith
Facts that are in the past are irrelevant faith-wise - if Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 (which it did), "faith" has nothing to do with it - it is fact.

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Old 02-06-2020, 04:55 PM
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Facts that are in the past are irrelevant faith-wise - if Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 (which it did), "faith" has nothing to do with it - it is fact.
I am sorry if the question confused you. Consider it withdrawn.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:55 PM
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Lots of regular churchgoers are comfortable with the idea that the Great Flood is an allegory. Adding the Sermon on the Mount to the list of allegories wouldn't necessarily cause them any problem.

On the other hand, if you went back in time, and came back with video of the Sermon on the Mount, lots of zealots would use that as a selling point. (While arguing fiercely over the proper translation from Hebrew to English, of course. )
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:39 PM
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The idea that religion's strength or value to its adherents is based on evidence is faulty. The combination of human traits that support religion (tribalism, a yearning for meaning, solipsism, etc.) are pretty impervious to evidence.

You can pretty clearly see this in modern quasi-religious belief systems that have sprung up recently, and are directly contradicted by evidence that we've had for centuries. Flat Earthers for example.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
In all honesty, if you could build and demonstrate a working time machine, the structure of established scientific theoretical concepts would take a bigger hit than those of religion.
In all the times I've seen this basic question posed over the years I never thought of it that way. But you're right!
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mbh View Post
Lots of regular churchgoers are comfortable with the idea that the Great Flood is an allegory. Adding the Sermon on the Mount to the list of allegories wouldn't necessarily cause them any problem.

On the other hand, if you went back in time, and came back with video of the Sermon on the Mount, lots of zealots would use that as a selling point. (While arguing fiercely over the proper translation from Hebrew to English, of course. )
And if Jesus was recorded as saying "blessed are the cheesemakers ..."
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:50 PM
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So the entire basis of this thread is your misunderstanding of religion.

I think I've encountered more nonreligious biblical literalists like the OP than actual religious biblical literalists on these boards.
On these boards I'm sure you're right, because actual Bible literalists don't last long. But go watch Ken Hamm sometime. There are tons of literalists out there.
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:54 PM
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There may be people that believe that, but that's not based off anything in the actual Bible. Nowhere does it say that god dictated the 5 books to Moses or that he wrote it down from a vision or anything like that. At least, no where that I've seen.
In fact, in Judges there is a lot of mention of the Ark of the Covenant, but never a mention of the Torah, and as far as I remember no one lived by it. No mention at all until it was conveniently "found" in the Temple. One of the many things that made me an atheist.
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