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Thread: Perspective from athiests/agnostics

  1. #101
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkansas Paul View Post
    I don't think so, but obviously can't prove that.
    Just because we don't understand something right now, doesn't mean that it is unknowable. It just means we may not have the capability to test it and figure it out at this moment.
    No. I do not mean that some things are unknowable, period. I am asking whether you believe that all knowledge comes through science?

  2. #102
    Bible lawyers.

    I hear ya. We call 'em Biblethumpers and they can be obnoxious. But if 1 billion Christians are not Bible lawyers, why do you dismiss Christianity based on the portion that are Bible lawyers? Maybe the Bible lawyer version of Christianity is false, and the true version still exists?

    OT as fairy tales.
    As for the OT being merely a collection of fairy tales: how do you account for the existence of the Jewish people today? There might be more to those fairy tales when a people can retain their national identity in spite of being enslaved numerous times. That is unique through history.

    God as cruel.

    You claim you don't believe in a God who permits suffering, but then you claim the nearest thing you come to worshipping would be the truth. The truth isn't exactly all nicey-nice. So why do you worship truth? (Or come close to worshipping)

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post
    No. I do not mean that some things are unknowable, period. I am asking whether you believe that all knowledge comes through science?

    Not in a formal sense.
    Not all knowledge comes from men in white coats in labs testing a hypothesis.
    For example, some knowledge comes through simple observation.
    Life is a series of bullseyes and backstraps - Ted Nugent

  4. #104
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkansas Paul View Post
    Not in a formal sense.
    Not all knowledge comes from men in white coats in labs testing a hypothesis.
    For example, some knowledge comes through simple observation.
    And history?
    And philosophy?

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post
    And history?
    And philosophy?
    No, I do not believe that knowledge comes through history and philosophy.
    History may contain some knowledge, but knowledge does not come through it.
    History is written by the victors, and not everything contained in historical writings are true. Many things are written to make the victors look like the good guys. Even our own American History is no different.
    Thus, historical writings must be looked at critically before simply believing whatever you read.

    Philosophy can help us look at something logically to help us to identify truth and therefore gain knowledge, but is not a source of it within itself.
    Life is a series of bullseyes and backstraps - Ted Nugent

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arkansas Paul View Post
    For example, some knowledge comes through simple observation.
    Such as "The Earth is flat and the Sun goes around it." sort of simple observation?

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKShootist View Post
    Such as "The Earth is flat and the Sun goes around it." sort of simple observation?
    More like, "Fire is hot because I touched it and know." lol
    Life is a series of bullseyes and backstraps - Ted Nugent

  8. #108
    Ugh. So on the one extreme, we have Bible Lawyers who peddle Sola Scriptura. And on the other extreme we have Science lawyers who peddle Sola Sciencia.

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post
    Bible lawyers.

    I hear ya. We call 'em Biblethumpers and they can be obnoxious. But if 1 billion Christians are not Bible lawyers, why do you dismiss Christianity based on the portion that are Bible lawyers? Maybe the Bible lawyer version of Christianity is false, and the true version still exists?
    Understood and to some extent agreed with on the last sentence. I don't dismiss Christianity, I merely doubt the details. There may well be a 'true version' but where? All of them think theirs is the true version. All I can do is make the best use of the brain either God or natural selection gave me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post
    OT as fairy tales.
    As for the OT being merely a collection of fairy tales: how do you account for the existence of the Jewish people today? There might be more to those fairy tales when a people can retain their national identity in spite of being enslaved numerous times. That is unique through history.
    The Jewish people merely got a head start. Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology all had a fairly good run but were comparatively easy to dismiss. Some tales are better than others and easier to follow. Nothing encourages the spread of a religion so much as a good bit of persecution.

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post
    God as cruel.

    You claim you don't believe in a God who permits suffering, but then you claim the nearest thing you come to worshipping would be the truth. The truth isn't exactly all nicey-nice. So why do you worship truth? (Or come close to worshipping)
    That paragraphs contains a few assumptions that are inaccurate. I doubt the existence of a God but who knows? I can easily understand a God who permits suffering. It's a little like without the night there would be no recognition of the day (only a little). My nearest thing to worshiping is not the same as worshiping. Anyone who does not seek the truth throughout life, even if that truth turns out to prove their closely held beliefs to be false, is a fool. I seek to acknowledge the truth by doing my best to find it. If that truth is unpleasant then so be it. If I am proved wrong, so be it. None of which guarantees the truth will be found. Nice is irrelevant. Try this as a probably not very good example. Consider people going for a medical test that may reveal their fate is a horrible disease and a lingering painful death. Some of those people will steadfastly decline being informed of the test results, others will insist on hearing bad news at once. I'm the 'bad news at one' type.

    When you feel you have discovered a truth the first thing to be done is to challenge it to the limits of your ability and to continue doing so. This is called 'science' unless it is to do with matters of faith, in which case it is called heresy.

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKShootist View Post
    When you feel you have discovered a truth the first thing to be done is to challenge it to the limits of your ability and to continue doing so. This is called 'science' unless it is to do with matters of faith, in which case it is called heresy.
    Or history. Or philosophy. You've expanded the definition of science too far. And setting and debating definitions is not science but rather philosophy.

    This is the failure of scientism. And is part of why fundamentalists and the new atheists fight so hard: they are far closer to each other than they realize. They have both seized onto one thing as true and try to hang an entire worldview on that one pin.
    "There are no solutions there are only tradeoffs" ~ Thomas Sowell

  11. #111
    Quote Originally Posted by PerpetualStudent View Post
    Or history. Or philosophy. You've expanded the definition of science too far. And setting and debating definitions is not science but rather philosophy.
    Well put.

    That paragraphs contains a few assumptions that are inaccurate. I doubt the existence of a God but who knows? I can easily understand a God who permits suffering. It's a little like without the night there would be no recognition of the day (only a little). My nearest thing to worshiping is not the same as worshiping. Anyone who does not seek the truth throughout life, even if that truth turns out to prove their closely held beliefs to be false, is a fool. I seek to acknowledge the truth by doing my best to find it. If that truth is unpleasant then so be it. If I am proved wrong, so be it. None of which guarantees the truth will be found. Nice is irrelevant. Try this as a probably not very good example. Consider people going for a medical test that may reveal their fate is a horrible disease and a lingering painful death. Some of those people will steadfastly decline being informed of the test results, others will insist on hearing bad news at once. I'm the 'bad news at one' type.
    What you describe here is exactly how I defined the term "worship" for the purposes of this thread. It appears accurate that you worship truth. Carry on my friend, and may we meet in the end.

    When you feel you have discovered a truth the first thing to be done is to challenge it to the limits of your ability and to continue doing so. This is called 'science' unless it is to do with matters of faith, in which case it is called heresy.
    Again, here you ascribe something that may be held by a portion of Christians to all Christianity. That is not an accurate definition of heresy at all. Heresy is presenting a false version of the faith as if it were the true faith. It is truly unfortunate that you've encountered so much of this. For example, the very notion that the Bible stands alone as its own authority and to prove that it is infallible you just need to read it - is a heresy. And heresies are bad because they lead people away from the truth, which is God.

    I'll offer a challenge - feel free to ask any challenging questions and my challenge will be to answer without getting obnoxious. (Which may be a big challenge for me because my sense of humor can be a bit caustic).

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post

    I'll offer a challenge - feel free to ask any challenging questions and my challenge will be to answer without getting obnoxious. (Which may be a big challenge for me because my sense of humor can be a bit caustic).
    I realize the offer was not directed at me but I’m asking anyway:

    What observable evidence makes you believe in any god, and why do you believe in your God?

  13. #113
    What observable evidence makes you believe in any god, and why do you believe in your God?
    You would have to go for the jugular right away wouldn't you?

    I will get to this later - just don't want to give the impression I'm ignoring this.

  14. #114
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    Good deal. A quick answer to my question would likely be inadequate, given the awkwardness of communication via internet forum. To me this thread is “deep” theological discussion.

  15. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by T_McD View Post
    Good deal. A quick answer to my question would likely be inadequate, given the awkwardness of communication via internet forum. To me this thread is “deep” theological discussion.
    Actually, and with due respect, the questions of this thread are those of a secular philosopher, not those of a theologian. Theology is, by definition, a study of God's word, i.e. the Bible, not man's hypothetical questions of His existence.

  16. #116
    what/who do you worship? seems pretty theological to me. It is commonly understood that the object of one's worship is a god (with a small g).

  17. #117
    To answer the question on observable evidence.

    Evidence for the existence of god is a bit like tracking a wild beast. You see the marks left behind, but you can't see the proof. To the tracker it can be a bit of splash mud, bent leaves, or a lack of dew on the grass. The city-slicker looks at the same evidence and is not convinced that this scant evidence can only be explained by the passage of our quarry.

    So I am conceding that a reasonable and intelligent man could see the evidence and dismiss it as the result of something else.

    The evidence is the existence of order in the universe. The set of natural laws are so intricate and elegant that it strains imagination. The amount of wisdom in the universe is so vast that Socrates correctly noted that the wiser a man becomes he sees more accutely how little he knows.

    The existence of sacrificial love. If you contemplate how cold and disinterested the universe is but at the same time contemplate your parent's love. To exist in a cold world where your life doesn't mean squat in the grand scheme of things, but also matter immensely to someone else.

    And I will mention also the hair raising stories of demonic possession. I don't like to read much of that stuff, but it seems that the witnesses are credible. It isn't exactly evidence that there is a god, but evidence that there is a supernatural.

  18. #118
    Now for why I believe in my God.

    I will start with an analogy to explain how I understand the relationship between faith and belief. Belief is just the intellectual assent to something as probably true. Faith is placing a bet on that belief. I may know lots of people who have flown, I may have seen planes fly with my own eyes, I may even understand the physics behind flight, so it is easy to say I believe that particular airplane can fly. But I can't say I have faith in its ability to fly until I board the plane. After the plane lands at the destination, and I walk off unharmed, I can then say I know the plane can fly.

    So I first began an intellectual inquiry. I decided long ago, on sound advice, that to compare belief systems I would not have a default belief system. I would scrutinize them all. In other words I wasn't going to examine 9 belief systems, then having found disatisfaction with all 9 conclude that I must belong in the 10th belief system without subjecting that one to scrutiny.

    I am sure most who read my posts have already noticed that my intelligence is limited. I accepted that handicap. So I knew going into the venture that the truth was going to exceed my comprehension - there were going to be aspects that didn't make sense to me. In fact if one system made total sense to me it was likely a sign it was a false belief system.

    I began with the notion that "you can fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." So the truth probably was in a religion that has been around for millennia and had lots of believers. That quickly ruled out a lot of religions, Jehovas, Mormons, and the various other small and new creeds.

    So that left me with a few big ones. I grew up Catholic, and from the legends that I heard from protestants about Catholicism I already was suspicious of much of the protestant world. I knew Catholics didn't worship Mary because I was taught as a Catholic not to worship Mary for instance.

    Islam was pretty easy to rule out.

    And I began to focus on Catholicism, and started to grill a priest at my university. I told him up front that if faith meant checking my intellect at the door, I was out. I asked him all the questions: how do we know there is a god, how do we know the bible isn't just made up, how do we know Catholicism is the right version of Christianity etc.

    To my surprise he had rational and reasonable answers. For example: after the last Apostles died that was the end of public revelation. What that means is that we are not obliged to heed the dreams or visions of another person. The only such vision that would be accepted would be Saint Paul's because it happened at the time when he could explain it in detail to the 12 Apostles and they could verify, "yep, that sounds like the Jesus we knew". After that, anyone who tells you that they had a vision of Jesus who said you need to pay them cash - well Catholics are not bound by that. However, the church does automatically dismiss visions as false, if you personally have a vision, and it does not go contrary to church teaching (I.e. the vision does not instruct you to shoot up a school) you personally may be bound to heed it.

    The more I dug into it the more I found satisfaction. But after I graduated I was exposed to other priests and Catholic authors. I began to notice that two priests could have wildly different views on something that was supposedly a moral evil. That really put a strain on me. But as I began digging into this I slowly realized that the Curch provides a means to sort this confusion out. You can go up the hierarchical ladder, and you can also go back in time. So if two priests had a different opinion on a matter you could check to see which one agreed with the bishop or pope to get the "official" Catholic stance. I thought that was cool because it wasn't wishy-washy. There was an official Catholic stance on many things (not all things) and I could decide to take it or leave it.

    Thats a glimpse into the intellectual inquiry part of the analogy. I could see people who flew in that plane, I could investigate its inner workings and it seemed reasonable that it could fly. I had to get in and test my faith.

    I will have to pause for now...

  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque Janaviac View Post

    The evidence is the existence of order in the universe. The set of natural laws are so intricate and elegant that it strains imagination. The amount of wisdom in the universe is so vast that Socrates correctly noted that the wiser a man becomes he sees more accutely how little he knows.
    I can agree with this. It seems arrogant and egotistical to believe I am the pinnacle of intelligence in the Universe.

  20. #120
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkansas Paul View Post
    I don't think so.
    I think we use the word "narcissist" a little too loosely.

    Narcissism is more than just caring only about yourself.

    To be considered a narcissist, one must exhibit at least 5 of the following traits (this is from the DSM).

    (1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

    (2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

    (3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

    (4) requires excessive admiration

    (5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

    (6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

    (7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

    (8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

    (9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    Simply caring more about your family than the family across the street isn't narcissism.
    I guess you could call it selfish and be somewhat accurate, but I think most of us fall into that category to some degree.
    What Bigslug stated wouldn't rise to a diagnosis of narcissism - which is probably why I called it the seed of narcissism. I agree with your last statement - it is not narcissism to take care of your own family above strangers. But that isn't the way I understood Bigslug's post. He said,
    My own freedom & happiness, which depends on / extends to the well being of a small handful of people.
    The "which depends on/extends to" phrasing I understood to mean that because his freedom & happiness depends on the well being of some other people he will put their freedom & happiness up there - but only so long as his happiness depends on them.

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