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Old 01-12-2018, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post
There is a very important distinction here that seems to get overlooked a lot of the time, especially during heated debates.

An argument in favor of the adoption of theism or a particular doctrine such as Christianity does not need to depend on the actual existence of God.

Let me explain that a bit. Let's say that you believe the following claim: "Atheism is bad because atheists have no moral compass. Therefore, people should believe in God."

That argument is agnostic toward the actual condition of God. Which is to say, the argument does not change if we assume that God does not exist.

That's because it is a purely normative argument. The argument says that belief itself is beneficial. If God does not exist - but people believe anyway - the argument has the same effect.

The problem comes when people confuse these purely normative arguments with arguments that would actually support the existence of God.

Those arguments are quite different.

Imagine a world where God exists, but people who believe in God are overtaken by madness and mayhem and murder.

In such a world, the negative social effects of belief are still irrelevant when it comes to the fact of God's actual existence. Just as positive benefits would be irrelevant. God either exists or does not exist. That would not change due to normative social factors.

I know this thought has been pointed out before by other posters, but I'd like to rehash it in my own words. I just see a lot of confusion that keeps popping up here when it comes to this particular distinction.
Not sure whether this is a new thread or an old one, (Lots of old names...long gone... ) but an interesting subject and one that doesn't often get picked up - the difference between Theism on Faith and theism on weight of evidence.

Let's see how it goes. No, I'll stay out of this one.

Comments aside.

Originally Posted by HonuMan View Post
An example of this is that study done a few years ago claiming that people who are religious and who believe in God tend to be happier and to live longer, healthier lives than people who aren't religious. If true, that's an argument showing that theism has benefits, yet it doesn't prove the existence of God.

Being conscious of our own mortality and having the ability to reflect on our past and extrapolate into our future, as opposed to living completely in the present, is something that separates us from other animals (as far as we know), but it has its drawbacks. I can see how believing that we have a purpose handed down by a God who created us, and that we have an eternal afterlife, are conducive to happiness, which in turn is conducive to good health and longer life. Realizing that there may be no God, no external purpose to life, no externally imposed justice or fairness, and no eternal afterlife is a shock, and some people never get over their existential despair. It takes another shift in consciousness to find happiness in the now, to create one's own sense of purpose, and to accept the universe as it is, despite its lack of fairness.

On the other hand, religion makes many people miserable, especially those brought up in "sin and guilt" versions of theism.
Yes. Essentially, the 'Religion is good for you' argument (aside from debating that claim) does nothing to prove (1) that it is true.

Originally Posted by jonesg View Post
If you reserve knowing only for the objectively provable then you'll be in the dark for the most important issues in your life.

I sought God to save my soul and learned my rear end is connected to my soul.
If you reserve 'knowing' for Faith -bathed religious beliefs, then you won't be able to find the rear ends of the most important events in you life with both hands. You will be able to march around yelling "I'm right and I know I'm right on Faith!" But you won't make that look very attractive to me, nor make your finger -wagging advice on Thinking look very persuasive..

(1) and by prove, I mean provide persuasive valid evidence for it. We are all familiar with the rather odd "Yes, you may have a lot of independently originating and mutually supportive hard evidence for your position, but you can't PROVE it!"

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 01-12-2018 at 05:45 PM..
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