U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Religion and Spirituality > Atheism and Agnosticism
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 04-22-2014, 02:10 AM
 
39,206 posts, read 10,887,543 times
Reputation: 5096

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by yakfish View Post
I am a doubting christian. I have been doing a lot of reading, research and study trying to find some sort of tangible proof of whatever the truth is. This post has made more sense to me than most of what I have read lately.
Thanks you. It's nice to know that what I post is comprehensible and even credible-I sometimes wonder!

As for yourself, being a Christian is ok. There is after all, a lot going for it in a social way. But it's ok to have doubts too. Once you have seen through the 'Oh God will be so teed off with you if you don't let the Church tell you what to do and think.' swindle, you will realize that being a Christian does not mean taking the Church as your state within a society. It is a way of being a decent person- and a way that is not unlike being a decent atheist. Which is why the irreligious theist is really not against us.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 04-22-2014, 06:30 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
5,846 posts, read 3,359,734 times
Reputation: 4056
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerZ View Post
And on a more OT note, thanks for hitting the nail on the head with that one possibility. I couldn't believe it when I read that, I wouldn't have believed anybody else would have thought of it. Great minds indeed.
Wow to both you and Cruithne.

Not to sound like a bandwagon follower here, but I've been saying that very same thing for quite some time.

After all, why would God ...

a) Create a vast universe filled with so many mysteries
b) Create human beings with an insatiable curiosity
c) Create these things knowing that, as knowledge increases, the need for God decreases

To my mind, it would seem as if God deliberately designed the universe - and us - in the way that he did so that technological and knowledge advancements could be used as guideposts in determining whether humanity is ready to stand on its own two feet.

It's normal for parents to want their children to eventually grow up, become self-sufficient, and blaze their own individual trails. Only weirdos want their children to remain completely dependent upon their money, their roof, and their good graces even into adulthood.

The same should be said about humanity and God - that only a weirdo God would want humans to be clinging to his proverbial apron strings long after humanity has "grown up."

Now we are finally tackling those age old questions like how did life begin or where did the universe come from. Moreover, we are tackling those questions with the technology and knowledge to actually answer them instead of merely appealing to some magical etiology.

No, Satan didn't design the universe to tempt us away from God nor did Satan gallivant around the world placing misleading fossils. That kind of crap is just ... well, crap. Thus one must assume that everything that is happening, including the discovery of evolution and the theorizing of the Big Bang was part of God's plan, a plan that envisions humanity groiwng up and moving on. Why else would God hide, to avoid contact with or intervening in humanity's lives?

The time has come to move past Bronze Age primitivism and realize that anything we discover about our natural world was MEANT to be discovered. None of this means one must give up their belief in God, but we should start seeing God from a different, more enlightened perspective. Blind worship, eternal punishments, original sin, saviors - those are all primitive concepts from the past.

Time to let go of "mommy's apron" and make our own way.

P.S. I can't cook worth diddly squat. The microwave is my friend.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-22-2014, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Westminster, London
878 posts, read 1,166,943 times
Reputation: 705
Though I'm a former atheist turned believer-in-Christ, rather than the converse, maybe you might be able to find some direction from what I experienced.


I come from an extensive scientific background, a loving, stable family that put me through the best possible education. Though a church-going family that advocated basic Christian morals, it was never a particularly religious home environment. As a child, I was spoon-fed, and to some extent believed, that God existed, but I was never particularly religious. By the start of my undergraduate years, with the hubris of youth, liberal education, an incompetent religious education tutor and some entry-level scientific knowledge, I began to abandon my Christian foundations to the extent that I became anti-theistic. And to be frank, I didn't really care.

Around the turn of the millennium, I developed overwhelming moral concerns about the state of the world and social problems in my community. Very early on, I found the moral anti-realism of the secular world view explanatorily inadequate, and I began to study other moral systems, including ancient eastern mysticism, the New Age and Islam. Throughout this period I felt a great deal of resistance to the notion of my return to Christian belief.

The Bible, at that point, read to me as unapproachably stuffy, irrelevant and outdated Bronze Age mythology full of errors and contradictions. It was only until the very end, after I had been down a multitude of different moral ontological pathways, that I give Christianity a chance. The result was quite spectacular, and completely unexpected:


1. I discovered several extraordinary properties of Christian scripture that I did not find in other mystical texts, such as typologies, parallelism, heptadic structures, elaborate thematic cross-referencing from Old Testament to New. These are properties that I believe serve as a fingerprint of the transcendental. All the complications, inconsistences and problems in attempting to interpret Scripture up until that point seemed to unravel like the solution to a puzzle box of vast complexity.

2. During my conversion experience, I was inspired with ideas that I only later recognised to be well-established concepts in philosophy; such as parsimony, Occamian priority, classical foundationalism and a diversity of profound ideas that expose the weaknesses of the naturalistic world view. This is despite the fact that I had no formal academic input to establish these ideas.

3. I took on board a system of moral beliefs and tendencies that shared unexplainable commonality with those of other biblical Christians. This is despite the fact that I had little to no formal theological input to guide my moral principles to be this way, and I had no social exposure to biblical Christians, given that I lived in a largely atheist community.

4. For the first time, I had personal experience of Jesus Christ in my life, which cannot be explained as episodes of natural coincidence or formal thought disorder. This is something I would have been familiar with, given that part of my background involved basic psychiatry and the neurobiology of behaviour. As someone who once used to mock and pour vitriolic scorn upon believers who professed the same experiences, feeling the Spirit making extraordinary changes in your life, far beyond the realm of mere chance, has been a humbling experience.

5. The Christian world view helped to put many inexplicable geopolitical phenomena in perspective: the primacy of Israel in geopolitics disproportionate to the strategic relevance of the territory; the ubiquitousness of anti-semitism disproportionate to misdemeanour; the extraordinary military events associated with the state of Israel.


Due to point 2 above, I had no problems reconciling my extensive scientific background with Christian belief. I developed a fascination in epistemology (which covers critical reasoning, justification theory, truth values - in essence the very foundations of science) and the philosophy of science. Both of these have become compelling hobbies to this day.

To put a complicated idea simply, science relies upon a system of first principles that amount to little more than basic assumptions or rules of thumb. By definition, these are not scientific ideas - they cannot be verified or falsified using physical evidence. Examples of these include metaphysical ideas such as the doctrine of Uniformitarianism and the Copernican Rule, as well as a panoply of non-metaphysical assumptions. When it comes to proving that science disconfirms Christian supernaturalism or Special Creation, one must first put up an adequate metaphysical defense of these basic assumptions using substantive philosophical arguments. To date, clear, cogent arguments to that effect do not exist.


That said, though something you'll probably never get to read about if you're a layman, there is currently increasingly fractious discourse in the evolutionary biology community. If you're attentive you may pick up various clues or snippets from unofficial sources that not all is well. I'm afraid Susan Mazur's portrayal of evolutionary biology as a theory in crisis - though a little sensationalist - is a somewhat more accurate portrayal of the truth than the status quo desperately being jaw-boned by the atheist blogosphere.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-22-2014, 04:02 PM
 
40,109 posts, read 26,772,494 times
Reputation: 6050
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Amen! Pascal's wager is an absurdity predicated on a barbaric notion of God.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel A. Pettinicchio View Post
It is a leap of faith in the end. Consider what good Christians have to lose if they are wrong and what an atheist has to lose if he/she is wrong!
Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Thanks for bringing that up. It's what I was going to mention once we could look at this 'God told me to look it up' claim.
Christians cannot be sure just what being a 'good Christian' is. Or even whether it is the right religion. Given that many have doubts about Hell-threat and either try to minimise it to a 'separation' or some kind of purgatorial process, never mind just rejecting the idea of hell altogether, it seems pretty likely that the carrot is doubtful and how to get it equally doubtful.
Atheists therefore have nothing to gain and everything that we know we have to lose-or waste - if we sideline it in favour of relying on faith.
My line on this -and it is relevant to the OP's question - is that no god that is credible as a just an merciful god is going to inflict hell on people because they couldn't believe an unbelievable claim. I don't think an afterlife likely, but if there is, it is something we all get as naturally as we all get birth or death.
At any rate, there is no one god handing out entry tickets. Therefore fear of retribution for not believing something or other - what a silly qualification for getting an afterlife! can be set aside as nonsense and the weight of fear of upsetting God by asking too many questions can be shrugged off. It is just a method of frightening people into church.
The atheist afterlife is a more pleasant prospect. If there is one, you can take it as guaranteed so really there is no deed to worry about it or be frightened to doubt or question,which is what hellthreat is there to do.
It is Pascal's wager in reverse: you have nothing you can count on gaining if you are a Christian - or any other religion - or losing if you are not; so it is better to live this life as though it is the only one you got, because that may very likely be the case.
Excellent refutation of the silly Pascal's wager, Arq . . . even though we disagree on the response to it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-23-2014, 05:28 AM
 
39,206 posts, read 10,887,543 times
Reputation: 5096
Thanks for the endorsement of my rational processes, Mystic - so long as they don't conflict with yours.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-23-2014, 05:52 AM
 
39,206 posts, read 10,887,543 times
Reputation: 5096
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
Though I'm a former atheist turned believer-in-Christ, rather than the converse, maybe you might be able to find some direction from what I experienced.

...(snipped with respect, purely to save space)
A very revealing story of a return to Faith from an informed atheist position. I have to say that it does make me rethink my previous view that an atheist could only become a theist if they had not actually known the arguments. Thus being open to one or more of the evangelical packages.

It seems increasing clear to me that even someone who has though about it and been an atheist can still find that inadequate and turn to theism again.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-09-2014, 12:40 PM
 
675 posts, read 442,297 times
Reputation: 134
I don't really see how people can dismiss Pascal's Wager.

The main rebuttal I see is the "false belief".

For which I present this scenario,

John having never been exposed to Christianity decides to believe in God due to Pascal's Wager. On the onset his belief is faulty in that it lacks true conviction. However, over time, his once faulty belief molds into true belief due to reading the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, conviction through the Holy Spirit, etc.

What am I missing here?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-09-2014, 03:18 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,094,403 times
Reputation: 6081
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
Though I'm a former atheist turned believer-in-Christ, rather than the converse, maybe you might be able to find some direction from what I experienced.
My guess is that you are not a particularly literalist / fundamentalist Christian. Correct?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
Around the turn of the millennium, I developed overwhelming moral concerns about the state of the world and social problems in my community. Very early on, I found the moral anti-realism of the secular world view explanatorily inadequate, and I began to study other moral systems...
I am not sure that you were objecting to anything useful. Anti-realism, simplistically, is the rejection of the existence any sort of mind-independent, or if you will, absolute morality. But many have pointed out that it is difficult to define realism, and neither realism nor anti-realism fare any better than each other as an explanation for anything.

At the end of the day, morality simply is what it is, not what we wish it to be. It either exists or doesn't, and is either objectively established external to the individual and collective human mind, or not.

I contend that morality is simply an emergent property of society whereby we are enabled to cooperate. I don't see why it needs to be any more complicated than that, and I utterly fail to see how an externally predetermined and given morality would be superior to that. The basic fallacy here is that there is a "magic" morality that solves the human condition. If such a morality existed, it would not be necessary to be concerned about human suffering in the first place. At the end of the day I regard morality as helpful (very helpful) but not curative of what ails mankind. And after at least two thousand years of opportunity to demonstrate its effectiveness, it certainly doesn't appear that Christianity has the cure either. If it did, it might be a start, but they'd still have to explain all the human suffering that preceded the cure.

I am also an empath and am disturbed by human suffering, but I do not see that the answer to that is a static moral code laid down in the bronze age. A dynamic and responsive code that can actually hope to engage with real world issues seems like it'd be far better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
1. I discovered several extraordinary properties of Christian scripture that I did not find in other mystical texts, such as typologies, parallelism, heptadic structures, elaborate thematic cross-referencing from Old Testament to New. These are properties that I believe serve as a fingerprint of the transcendental. All the complications, inconsistences and problems in attempting to interpret Scripture up until that point seemed to unravel like the solution to a puzzle box of vast complexity.
There are many systems of scriptural interpretation that, if they don't run afoul of your particular ways of compartmentalizing and sensitivities to cognitive dissonance, and if they comport themselves with the things you really want to be true -- can make it seem so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
2. During my conversion experience, I was inspired with ideas that I only later recognised to be well-established concepts in philosophy; such as parsimony, Occamian priority, classical foundationalism and a diversity of profound ideas that expose the weaknesses of the naturalistic world view. This is despite the fact that I had no formal academic input to establish these ideas.
I haven't noted parsimony or Occamian priority to be prominent in Christian thinking or argument. You would be a first in that regard.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
3. I took on board a system of moral beliefs and tendencies that shared unexplainable commonality with those of other biblical Christians. This is despite the fact that I had little to no formal theological input to guide my moral principles to be this way, and I had no social exposure to biblical Christians, given that I lived in a largely atheist community.
Christians largely follow the same morality everyone including atheists follow to begin with. It is even less remarkable that you would become more conformed to Christian norms as you progressively accepted Christian premises. To take this as "unexplainable" is a reach at best.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
4. For the first time, I had personal experience of Jesus Christ in my life, which cannot be explained as episodes of natural coincidence or formal thought disorder. This is something I would have been familiar with, given that part of my background involved basic psychiatry and the neurobiology of behaviour. As someone who once used to mock and pour vitriolic scorn upon believers who professed the same experiences, feeling the Spirit making extraordinary changes in your life, far beyond the realm of mere chance, has been a humbling experience.
Impossible to comment on this without specifics, but it is a claim I would have made once upon a time myself. Confirmation bias and agency inference are not formal thought disorders, though. They are just evolutionary tendencies that one either compensates for, or not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
5. The Christian world view helped to put many inexplicable geopolitical phenomena in perspective: the primacy of Israel in geopolitics disproportionate to the strategic relevance of the territory; the ubiquitousness of anti-semitism disproportionate to misdemeanour; the extraordinary military events associated with the state of Israel.
Israel is disproportionately on the world stage because it's at the center of a swirl of religious ideation that puts it there by assigning undue importance to it. Surely the Christian world view must explicate geopolitical phenomena that do NOT involve Israel??
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
Due to point 2 above, I had no problems reconciling my extensive scientific background with Christian belief. I developed a fascination in epistemology (which covers critical reasoning, justification theory, truth values - in essence the very foundations of science) and the philosophy of science. Both of these have become compelling hobbies to this day.
Are you, then, a theistic evolutionist?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
To put a complicated idea simply, science relies upon a system of first principles that amount to little more than basic assumptions or rules of thumb. By definition, these are not scientific ideas - they cannot be verified or falsified using physical evidence. Examples of these include metaphysical ideas such as the doctrine of Uniformitarianism and the Copernican Rule, as well as a panoply of non-metaphysical assumptions. When it comes to proving that science disconfirms Christian supernaturalism or Special Creation, one must first put up an adequate metaphysical defense of these basic assumptions using substantive philosophical arguments. To date, clear, cogent arguments to that effect do not exist.
Science is based on a rather parsimonious set of first principles. No secular or religious system can fail to start with first principles. The question is, which system has a track record of success? Has religion ever invalidated anything science has devised, or has it tended to be the inverse?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionIMPOSSIBRU View Post
That said, though something you'll probably never get to read about if you're a layman, there is currently increasingly fractious discourse in the evolutionary biology community. If you're attentive you may pick up various clues or snippets from unofficial sources that not all is well. I'm afraid Susan Mazur's portrayal of evolutionary biology as a theory in crisis - though a little sensationalist - is a somewhat more accurate portrayal of the truth than the status quo desperately being jaw-boned by the atheist blogosphere.
Desperation does not strike me as a feature of evolutionary biology. It is a simple fact that if the science isn't there, the theory will collapse. But for that to happen, there has to be not simply people trying to poke holes in the theory, there has to be a COMPETING theory. Are you aware of anything on offer by way of a scientific theory that competes effectively with evolutionary theory? Or perhaps at least a testable hypothesis?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-09-2014, 03:55 PM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,252,936 times
Reputation: 1317
Quote:
Originally Posted by medellinheel View Post
I don't really see how people can dismiss Pascal's Wager.

The main rebuttal I see is the "false belief".

For which I present this scenario,

John having never been exposed to Christianity decides to believe in God due to Pascal's Wager. On the onset his belief is faulty in that it lacks true conviction. However, over time, his once faulty belief molds into true belief due to reading the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, conviction through the Holy Spirit, etc.

What am I missing here?
What if the the god that exists is not the God of Christianity? What if it is instead Allah? Then reading your Bible and worshipping Jesus won't cut it... What if the "real" gods are closer to Lovecraft's Great Old Ones? Then no amount of worship and love will help. Pascals wager must take into account every definition of god, and every possible permutation of afterlife beliefs, and even then you still run into the "false belief" issue.

Pascal's wager is a very simplified misuse of the formula for Expectation (or x * p(x)). In this case the value of x or value of correct belief is set infinitely high, so no matter how infinitesimal the chance that you are right, the expected value is still maximized for belief x. This totally falls apart if x is not binary, or if you cannot accurately measure the value of a given proposition of x. We have no way of objectively characterizing the rewards or punishments of various religions, we have no way of realistically assigning probabilities to those religions, and we cannot discount that each set of beliefs may have differing and contradictory criteria for 'correct belief'

-NoCapo
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-09-2014, 04:05 PM
 
675 posts, read 442,297 times
Reputation: 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
What if the the god that exists is not the God of Christianity? What if it is instead Allah? Then reading your Bible and worshipping Jesus won't cut it... What if the "real" gods are closer to Lovecraft's Great Old Ones? Then no amount of worship and love will help. Pascals wager must take into account every definition of god, and every possible permutation of afterlife beliefs, and even then you still run into the "false belief" issue.

Pascal's wager is a very simplified misuse of the formula for Expectation (or x * p(x)). In this case the value of x or value of correct belief is set infinitely high, so no matter how infinitesimal the chance that you are right, the expected value is still maximized for belief x. This totally falls apart if x is not binary, or if you cannot accurately measure the value of a given proposition of x. We have no way of objectively characterizing the rewards or punishments of various religions, we have no way of realistically assigning probabilities to those religions, and we cannot discount that each set of beliefs may have differing and contradictory criteria for 'correct belief'

-NoCapo
That is another topic altogether.

We are just talking about the possible validity of Pascals Wager, not which God is the true God.

Assuming we are talking about the Christian God, the example I gave was clear that yes indeed that could work.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Religion and Spirituality > Atheism and Agnosticism
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top