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Author Topic: Wouldn't it be Great if there really was a God?
pickled shuttlecock
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Nothing dirty about that word. It's got five letters.
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winkey151
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KE... for some reason my heart has gone out to you ever since I first started posting here. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Not that my prayers are any better than anyone else's but God has placed you on my heart for some reason.

Why else would someone who doesn't know you, care about a crotchety old guy like you. [Eek!]

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Tom Curtis
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Hobsen, Mariner, I accept that I was misinformed about current Catholic thinking. I think my point in responce to Mormegil still stands. For all those who offer the comfit of eternal bliss for children who die young, and horribly, there are those who offer the prospect of eternal suffering, or eternal boredom (limbo) instead. Absent compelling reason to believe any of them, then none of them are much comfort (or cause for distress).

Dagonee, the idea that unbaptised children, though not saved will not suffer either is (or was) controversial within the Catholic Church. I guess that is better than for the Protestants, for whom there is only two options; and some Protestants (most before the 20th century) definitely plumped for the idea of damnation.

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winkey151
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MattP.... I guess we just disagree.
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Colin JM0397
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I'll stick to the Homer Simpson way of looking at it:
quote:
I'm not a bad guy. I work hard and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I'm going to hell?...
So I figure I should try to live right and worship you in my own way."


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kenmeer livermaile
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So you worship The Donut?
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philnotfil
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The Monkey's Paw
By WW Jacobs

http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/mnkyspaw.htm

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Mormegil
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Tom Curtis, I don't agree that the catholic church teaches infant damnation, however, if they did, I would be fine with calling it a false religion. (Of course, I call it a false religion for other reasons anyway.) Your problem is defining the catholic church as "christianity."

Your argument went like this:

Premise (Mormegil): any religion teaching infant damnation is false.

Premise (Tom Curtis): christianity teaches infant damnation.

Conclusion: christianity is a false religion.

Your syllogism is valid but unsound, because your premise is false (however, I stand by mine). Even if you could show that there is some religion calling itself christianity that teaches infant damnation, you still have to prove that it *is* christianity.

Since I use the Bible to define what christianity is, any religion that teaches contrary to the Bible is, by definition, not christianity.

To convince me, you'd have to show that the Bible itself teaches infant damnation.

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MattP
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quote:
Since I use the Bible to define what christianity is, any religion that teaches contrary to the Bible is, by definition, not christianity.
...insofar as it has been translated correctly and you have interpreted it correctly.
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John Brown
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Let me suggest that all of you, both the pro and anti God-exists camps, are making one assumption that might not be correct.

It is that "God" is "omnipotent", in that he can, willy nilly, do whatever he desires. This one premise leads us, inescapably, to conclude that because he allows massive, and I mean MASSIVE, amounts of suffering, that he's either apathetic or sadistic. The conclusion is inexorable.

But perhaps the premise of omnipotence is flat out wrong.

Consider this, all you folks arguing freewill. I can see that removing options to choose or removing consequences of various choices removes freewill. If I cannot strike you, or my child (who is most innocent), or my punches don't hurt, then this option has effectively been removed from me as a choice. Do this for every possibility and suddenly I cannot choose evil, which in my book, is hurting others unjustly. I am forced to choose good continually. Not by desire, but because of the constraints.

The premise that God is omnipotent leads us to conclude that God could offer unlimited freewill AND no consequences. Perhaps that cannot happen. Perhaps for us to have that promised final end, it simply must be. A constraint, however seemingly awful it is. Perhaps God had to make a choice between freewill and suffering. And the results of said wickedness makes him weep.

This means that benevolence paired with the freewill agrument undermine the "doctrine" of omnipotence.

But what about all of the "natural" suffering--KE's son (what a heart-rending story), the Asian Tsunami, disease, mechanical failures, etc.? Couldn't God just remove all of that and leave us with the suffering caused by freewill?

Again, perhaps, given the nature of things, it's impossible. He's not omnipotent. He's got to obey natural laws.

If I want to fly, I've got to follow X set of principles. If God wants to benefit us, perhaps he has to do the same, and such a system carries with it this package of suffering.

So it's important to note that one of the questions religion has NOT answered satisfactorily and in detail, since its inception, is why all this suffering. It has offered a part, the freewill idea, but it comes nowhere near answering it in full.

So what are we left to do?

We can accept the omnipotence premise and reject the doctrine of a benevolent God--because he cannot be benevolent and omnipotent and allow all this suffering.

Or we can reject the omnipotence premise and accept benevolence. In this instance what we do is rely on faith, saying, I trust there is a God and he's looking out for my interests, but that he's constrained in helping me. By freewill, but also by other things not explained to me. I don't understand everything about this system I'm in or why there must be suffering, but I trust him.

In the first instance many are likely to feel a fury against God or the very notion of a benevolent God.

In the second instance God's given a break and we're only frustrated by the lack of insight as to a knowledge of the underlying laws.

I'm most definitely Christian, but please, fellow Christians, don't quote scriptures to me. I know them thorougly and know what the Christian texts say about omniscience and God. To me the record shows metaphyscial knowledge has never come all at once. It comes in pieces just like natural knowledge. So perhaps this is one thing the many ages of Christians have simply got wrong and it's time to get a revelation and update the model. Newton, I'm sure, would not begrudge Einstein his insights. I do not think it makes Christianity "wrong" to recognize that metaphysical knowledge by work and Divine insight also grows.

[ September 20, 2006, 01:04 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"a) Since I use the Bible to define what christianity is, any religion that teaches contrary to the Bible is, by definition, not christianity.

b) ...insofar as it has been translated correctly and you have interpreted it correctly."

Imagine, back in the first Nicean, they thought they'd resolved this problem. They even celebrated their accomplishment with a reign of terror in which COnstantine declared:

Understand by this present statute, Novations, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulinians... with what a tissue of lies and vanities, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inextricably woven! We give you warning.... Let none of you presume, from this time forward, to meet in congregations. To prevent this, we command that you be deprived of all the houses in which you have been accustomed to meet... and that these should be handed over immediately to the catholic church.

All right, y'all. Drop them Bibles and put your hands UP!!!

Now reach... reach for the sky...

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John Brown
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Oh, and the argument that God allows the little girl to be raped repeatedly, or the boy to be stolen and made into a tortured slave, or the girl to be famished so that they can learn something, well, I don't buy it.

I know they CAN learn from suffering. I have. I trust that God can help me turn any situation into something positive. The Diary of Anne Frank shows how that can work. But the idea that little children MUST suffer these things to learn? I don't buy it.

For me it's a nature-of-the-system thing. And I'm looking forward to the promised day when this batch has all gone through this necessary (I'm clearly trusting that's the case) world and the system gets upgraded.

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kenmeer livermaile
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If one believes/invests in the idea of God, one tends to interpret positively the suffering under God's purview.

If one doesn't, one tends to despise suffering as such.

Ironically, it is the presence of suffering that provides the greatest impulse to seek out and believe in God, and it is exposure to the same suffering that so often causes the formerly devout to renounce their belief in God.

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Richard Dey
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What was it you said about year or two ago, Morm, about the nature of god? It was startling. We were all arguing (much these same points) about how god had let things go to wrack and ruin.

My thought at that time came down to this. We are only believing in god to the point where we want to believe that the right thing was done (we being made in the image of god, and, thus, in his own mind, ergo of his own mind). Thus whether we believe in god or not is ultimately irrelevant and, thus, irrelevant to god.

Winkey says she prayed to god to save a foetus twice (was it?) and got her prayer answered once. The prayer in fact had nothing to do with it. A mother can pray for a spontaneous abortion and get twins.

And, as for John Brown learning from suffering, I retort that there is nobility in poverty, no great enlightment to gained by pain, and a great deal of money to be made in laziness.

The religous response of humans is to aspire to be gods; but the results are nowise so godly as they are when humans aspire to be devils. If all that is attributed to god by judeo-christians is true, god is satan.

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MattP
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quote:
Ironically, it is the presence of suffering that provides the greatest impulse to seek out and believe in God, and it is exposure to the same suffering that so often causes the formerly devout to renounce their belief in God.
Or the "This isn't working out for me so I'll try something else" syndrome.

[ September 20, 2006, 01:02 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Richard Dey
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Sorry, I hold that there is no nobility in poverty or in suffering.

And yes, Matt, freedom of religion (which is strictly limited by law today, means not only freedom of and from religion, but the right to switch products -- to create one's own for the market.

OTOH, Adam Smith warned us with beating drums that monopoly spelt the death of a free economy -- and, in religion, of free thought.

Ecumencism is yet another serious religious threat to the free world.

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John Brown
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>>no great enlightment to gained by pain

Not true. One very important insight is that which leads to sympathy.

And if you look at a sampling of the richest non-inheriting people in the world, you will see that it came by being prepared to take advantage of an opportunity, a bit of thinking, and work. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett--smart and hard-working.

[ September 20, 2006, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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Richard Dey
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JB:

I disagree! A toothache becomes the center of one's universe -- lit only by flashes of pain. It is not enlightening.

The problem with creating an all-powerful god is that he must be held responsible for everything. The Judeo-Christian god invented pain and suffering. He invented torture, or what else was Job put to?

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kenmeer livermaile
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He warn't torturing Job, he were testing his faith. Jest like with Abraham.

The distinction between testing faith and testing gullibility is a fine one.

(hoarse Mafia don accent with underlying Yiddish accent) "Trust me," said Jehovah.

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Richard Dey
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NB: Gates and Buffet are diplomatic agnostics, for heaven's sake: atheists. God rewarding his own?
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winkey151
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Richard Dey says: "Winkey says she prayed to god to save a foetus twice (was it?) and got her prayer answered once. The prayer in fact had nothing to do with it. A mother can pray for a spontaneous abortion and get twins."

There have only been two times that I have felt the presence of God so strongly in my life. Once was the day God touched my baby and I and the other was when God delivered me of drug abuse after using drugs from the age of 13 to the age of 26.

I had prayed many times before to have the strength to quit doing drugs but that day God actually took all desire for altering my mind in any way, away from me instantaneously.

You believe what you want. I know what happened to me.

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Mormegil
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quote:
...insofar as it has been translated correctly and you have interpreted it correctly.
Well, obviously.

quote:
What was it you said about year or two ago, Morm, about the nature of god?
I don't know, what did I say?
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rightleft22
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quote:
“I retort that there is [no] nobility in poverty, no great enlightenment to [be] gained by pain,”
True poverty doesn’t make one noble just as pain doesn’t make one enlightened - yet IMO for each individual how we deal with, come to terms with, our pain and poverty will create character. What we learn about ourselves may indeed lead to a more ‘enlightened’ self and how we respond may indeed be judge noble by others.

Heraclitus –“character is our destiny” - “our daemons becomes are destiny” or something like that. It appears to me that pleasure does not define one as much as our response to pain does.

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hobsen
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What Winkey151 recounts is the original definition of a miracle, an experience which convinces someone that God has acted. Historically it long preceded the idea of natural laws being violated, which is not a helpful way to think of the matter.

Anyway Richard Adams provided a fine analogy in his fantasy novel Shardik.

Speaking of horses, the protagonist says, "If music were played in their hearing and in ours, I suppose their ears would catch all the actual sounds that yours and mine would catch. Yet for all that, it's little they'd understand. You and I might weep; they wouldn't. The truth - those who hear it are in no doubt. Yet there are always others who know for a fact that nothing out of the ordinary took place."

Personally I am very much opposed to any who deny the reality of religious experience; that is sheer ignorance and insulting to those who testify to it. But skeptics are quite right to say the reality of religious experience does not prove the existence of God.

[ September 20, 2006, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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Colin JM0397
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No doughnuts, Mojo the helper monkey.

Of course, according to the relig-ometer thing from a few weeks ago, I'm apparently a neo-pagan, so worshiping Mojo works just fine.

JB, welcome, you're wrong.

[ September 20, 2006, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: jm0397 ]

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Richard Dey
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Morm:

We were discussing the (preposterous) idea that "god is love" or "god is good" or some such, and you flatly denied that such were definitions of god.

(I'm a newbie, so I don't know how to search the archives on this, but it revealed a 'new you' to me which surprised me enough to remember it [Wink] ).

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MattP
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quote:
Personally I am very much opposed to any who deny the reality of religious experience; that is sheer ignorance and insulting to those who testify to it.
I don't deny it, but I question it. That I question it is absolutely a matter of ignorance, as I have not had such an experience myself and don't understand it. I would hope that such questioning doesn't insult.

This is a big issue for me. The vast majority of claimed religious experiences involve sensory or behavioral responses or perceptions of improbability or coincidence.

All of the following have been given to me, at one time or another, as evidence of divinity:
* Warm feeling
* Tingling all over
* Being compelled to cry
* Hearing a voice
* Hearing a song
* Sick person became better
* Terminally ill person lived longer than predicted
* Terminally ill person died quickly
* Couldn't find car keys, prayed, found car keys
* Prayed for job, got job
* Found "right man" and got married (this marriage later ended because the "right man" decided he liked guys more than girls and left)

I don't trust my mind on matters that go beyond the known and reasonably proven aspects of mortal life. It's a big electro-chemical soup of thoughts and ideas, input and outputs, and countless processes that we still do not understand. I don't see how I could recognize any experience as divine when I don't even know that my recognition "algorithm" is accurate.

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Richard Dey
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Herakleitos of Epheseus also said [I]Panta rei[/I'], which the French contradict by say, the more things change the more they remain the same. But Herakleitos was a Calvinist (vv); destiny was predetermined. I thought predetermination was kind of a dead cow outside Hindooism.
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Richard Dey
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Matt!

Ignorance never stopt anybody from believing anything! Knowledge has; indeed knowledge is the best cure to belief there is. Belief is no good cure for knowledge.

My point on the dangerousness of religion is that belief requires no knowlege at all, and, indeed, mitigates against it. Belief and knowledge are as compatible as god and satan.

7/11 of the godly experiences you've cited above women have in orgasm.

The only 'religion' compatible with 'nature' is natural religion, i.e., attributing mystical powers to nature. This suggests that nature has intent.

What characterizes our patriarchal religions, so-called, is interpretation of natural events; these religions are ipso facto artificial, man-made explications of natural events.

Religiosity is characterized by an attempt to explain god's intensions when in fact, natura est; nature, including pata rei, constant change (chaos theory?) just is.

A believe in gods presumes too much, as if somebody without advanced degrees in astrophysics and biochemistry can presume to know god, i.e., the intensions of nature, the material world. Religion, even as we know it, is animism on an organizational scale which, notwithstanding, cannot effect nature on any grand material level.

The best instance of this is a cathedral built in Europe "at God's command" which collapsed after several piers sank -- whose congregants than praised the collapse, on a baptism ceremony, as a disapproval of the marriage which had created the infant.

In post-bicameralism, anyway, comprehending 'the divine' or 'satanism' are signs of mental illness -- for good reason.

Every time I hear the phrase, "It's a blessing!" I am personally offended. It will be no blessing if I die suddenly, it will be no learning experience if I die long and painfully. The only blessing that will be rendered is that those who perceive it as such won't have to put up with me anymore [Big Grin] .

My favorite is an Italo-American woman explaining to her cousin from Jersey City why the Constitution is paraded every July 4th. The native, who should have known the real reasons, explained that the naval parade was to take the ship out to the Archbishop to be blessed. In fact, it is paraded out for the tourist trade -- to return her reversed (so she will weather evenly). When I interrupted to note that the Constitution had paraded every year for a century before she ever got blessed at all (without so much as a 'god bless those who sail in her'), the woman explained to me that, without the annual blessing, she would sink to the bottom of the harbor [Roll Eyes] . These women had come to believe that something that they did in prayer sufficed for the millions of dollars and thousands of manhours we sink into this wooden tub!

Prayer is symbollic power. It gives the helpless the idea that they can control nature, destiny, and change the mind of god. It is gross hubris.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Personally I am very much opposed to any who deny the reality of religious experience; that is sheer ignorance and insulting to those who testify to it."

Thew crucial word here is "personally". Another can't experience your personal experience. They can deny it all they wish, although with no authority to you, and you can claim it all you wish, but with no authority to them.

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hobsen
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When I was about twelve I had a bad scare going fishing with my cousin Johnny. The route lay along a beach with a nesting colony of terns; and they would dive at intruders, although they never touched anyone. So I always just ran past them through the shallow water so as not to disturb any nests.

What I did not know was that Johnny had never seen them. And he was terrified, ducking away from them when they attacked. But I encouraged him to follow, so we passed them all right. The problem was that, when we were 500 feet away, Johnny was still ducking down to escape attacking terns who were not there. Since I had never heard of hallucinations, I had no idea how to get him out of that state, or whether he would stay that way forever. Happily he came out of it after a bad minute or two, and we continued with our fishing, but I made a very long and awkward detour on the way home rather than pass those terns again.

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John Brown
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>>JB, welcome, you're wrong.

Oh, such a brilliantly stated argument. Alas, I'm too fuggy to follow its labyrinthine logic.

>>belief requires no knowlege at all, and, indeed, mitigates against it

This is not true. All of science is based on belief, faith if you will. It's the very foundation of it. We trust our measurements, trust the data, trust our conclusions, and, most importantly trust that it's quite possible that our theories will change when we get new data. There is no absolute knowledge in science, only faith in current models that may well turn out to be false.

As for scientific proof that there is no evidence for metaphysical claims, I give you my Blind Science Creed.

"We believe in all things science has revealed, all it now does reveal, and that it will reveal many great and important things about the nature of existence."

"We believe that we should only believe what can be measured and perceived. And that fact that it seems we cannot perceive and measure many things should not bother us. Nor should the fact that there are so many modern-day eye-witnesses and evidences that seem to suggest there might indeed be something metaphysical going on bother us, for these all are, well, too hard to test empirically at the moment, and because they are so untidy they must simply be excluded. Besides, it's most assuredly some ecclesiastical placebo effect or mild derangement. In any event, it can be explained by saying: while we don't know everything about how the chemicals in the brain work, well, there's a lot we think we know, okay, we know very little, but it must be them chemicals. It's them chemicals, not anything metaphysical."

"Furthermore, there are a lot of kooks out there. You've got to be wary of kooks as a general principle. And we've seen those kooks in religions, so..." <wink, wink>

"We believe our theories to be true unless, of course, some future scientist actually turns the current theories on their heads, at which time, we shall condemn both scientist and theory as 'enlightened for their time' but alas, still wrong. Forget we thought they were right."

"Nevertheless, despite the fact that we claim we don't know, at least not permanently, at no time should we ever be tentative about our metaphysical claims because the scientists, like the old-fashioned wizards who couldn't help their times, have studied in their schools and performed their tests. And we accept it on faith that they know, and what they don't know probably can't be known, but if it could, it certainly wouldn't include some god person or anything like unto it. This, in our knowing unknowing, we do know. Amen."

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John Brown
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hobsen, that's a hilarious little snippet. I want to steal it for my writing.
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Richard Dey
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JB:

Welcome -- and you are wrong, really, really, really wrong! The Baconian scientific method is the determinant of is so because it is predictably so. Freeze a puddle and you can walk on it -- every single time. Melt a puddle and you will splash in it -- every single time. Believe you can walk on water and can't swim, you will drown it over and over again.

You may have faith in another, better universe in the hereafter, but in the one and now there is knowledge attainable which requires no trust. Cut off somebody else. He will die 10 out of 10 times. You can predict it, you can test it, you can beheaded for it.

You interject the term "absolute knowledge" for no purpose. This is a religious intervention which science does not require for a definition of knowledge.

As to electro-chemical brain function, we know that we can modify brain function chemically and electrically. Nobody is claiming to know how this affects the brain beyond knowledge that alcohol causes brain cells to die or that opiates produce euphoric states. Are you not claiming for science knowledge which it does not pretend to have?

Science does not claim to have proof that there are no metaphysical events; what it has asked for is evidence that metaphysical events occur which can be tested and proven or disproven. All a scientist has to work on is somebody's contention that they exist. Science cannot analyze something which isn't there.

Does god exist? There is no evidence that a metaphysical or a supernatural god exists. All science has to work with is nature -- yet believers in god insist that god is notnature, that god is beyond nature, that god is supernature. That marked a big change momgod worship, where the goddes and nature were one, to dadgod worship where the deity became cosmic, ephemeral, and, eventually, invisible and undetectable by all known, provable, demonstrable senses.

And confusing wizards and witches and scientists is a dangerous recipe. For one thing, we have made gold -- and we have made diamonds.

Religions claim that gods made everything. Science doesn't event claim to have made anything, merely to have changed its form. Science claims that energy/matter cannot be made or unmade. It just is. Religion not only claims that it can be made and unmade but offers interpretations as to why it is made and unmade.

It is gross hubris! God should strike every Jew, Christian, and Muslim dead for presumption. I don't why he lets them live and carry on so! [Wink] .

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KTB
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I'm a sensitive newbie, so be nice! [Smile]

The beauty of a relationship with God is that it IS personal! No amount of human reasoning or personal anecdotes could ever explain how or why God works the way he does, or that he even exists. Therefore, I'm not going to tell you all of my stories! [Smile] God's existance is not dependant upon our belief in it.

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin. It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

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Kent
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Richard,

John Brown is obviously a Mormon, and so would reject your claim that God is outside of nature, or that matter can be made or unmade. Mormons believe that god is more like Q on Star Trek, albeit with greater powers and integrity. God may not be what people say he is (and I don't believe in the ex nihilo God either), but for you to say that there is no evidence that a supernatural god exists, in order to see all the evidence you would have to be a god have sifted through it to know that. Gross hubris. Let's just leave it that you can't know, and then accuse the believers of not being able to know either. [Wink]

[ September 20, 2006, 05:38 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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MattP
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KTB,

Welcome to Ornery. You are wrong

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KTB
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Thanks, MattP.
All of it?

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Kent
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Standard greeting to all new comers. Some of us try to thin the herds by scaring them into jumping off a cliff (not me though, I'm one of the good guys). [Big Grin]

[ September 20, 2006, 05:41 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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MattP
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It's the traditional greeting here. I actually hadn't read it yet, but I was dying to do the official hello. [Smile]

I don't disagree that many concepts of God are indeed beautiful and that religious experiences feel profound, but I am unconvinced that they are not mental constructs.

Many of the mechanisms by which we may come to believe in things that are not actually true, such as the primacy effect and confirmation bias, are well understood. Certainly religious beliefs are not exempt from these mechanisms, so how do we determine, for instance, if a given event is an answer to prayer rather than something that only appears to be an answer to prayer because of our desire to have an answer?

[ September 20, 2006, 05:49 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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