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  1. #91
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    ...I like a good challenge. Want to hit me with your best shot?
    wow, dude... you're awesome. Glad you are in this conversation, you have such a quietly strong but good-natured way about you.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    I've heard that argument before. I have a hard time with it because I can't imagine anyone, upon learning for certain that God actually exists, choosing to be outside his presence. Who would stick it out in Hell for all eternity instead of just admitting he was wrong and coming back to God? Dying and finding out firsthand that Hell is actually there would be pretty undeniable proof of God's existence.
    Think outside your frame for a second, okay?

    To whit: What if you find an eternity Hell more palatable to you than being eternally in proximity with God?

    According to basic Christian scripture, God is like an all-consuming fire. He does not foster lies or illusion. He is merciful but also just, terrifyingly so. All of your pretenses are stripped bare in the presence of such a person. You see yourself exactly as you are, and any lies you have fabricated about yourself, to make you smarter, stronger, wiser, more loving, kinder, better than you are, will all be immediately burned away in the flames of such a bright and perfect holiness. And it's going to hurt; I am not kidding about how painfully searing it will be. I've experienced a lot of psychological growth and increasing awareness in my life and it was absolutely painful for me to confront these things in me; it was very much like getting burned.

    Can you accept being an imperfect, flawed, puny, senseless, limited, sullied human being next to a being so bright... or would it be something you would loathe and despise because you are unwilling to be honest about who you are and what you can NEVER be regardless of your petty aspirations? Knowing you are not in charge of your own fate and that your life rightfully belongs to someone other than you and you really "can't" be "your own person"?

    (note: "you" meant in the general sense, I'm making a case here...!)

    I've mentioned before that the simplest analogy I've seen occurs at the end of CS Lewis' "The Last Battle," where Narnia is destroyed. All creatures are streaming through the final door, where Aslan sits, and when the creatures look at him, one of two things happen: Either they look upon him and respond with love and longing and those creatures enter the door into paradise; the others look upon Aslan with fear and hatred because he threatens everything they are and instead run off into the dark never to be seen again.

    The answer to your question, in a nutshell, of "Who would ever think to reject heaven and embrace hell?" is "People who would see the true heaven AS Hell and the true Hell as Heaven in comparison." That's who.

    People who do not get a good sense of who they are in this life and end up finally face to face with God have a lot to process in the blink of an eye, as all of their illusions are stripped bare. if God has become the antithesis of all you are as a human being, then you're going to reject him even if you SEE him... and perhaps ESPECIALLY because you've seen him.

    If I died, went to Hell and realized I'd been wrong about God my whole life, I'd pretty quickly repent and want to come back into God's presence.
    You would, if your decision was entirely rational.
    But it's not.
    It's going to be a heart decision, not a head decision.

    Can you spend eternal proximity to God or to Hell?
    Which one will be more palatable?
    As I said, if you're not aligned with God in your heart and center of your being, Hell might easily be more palatable.

    The only reason anyone would "choose not to be in God's presence" would be due to erroneous disbelief in God--a finite sin and an honest mistake for which an eternally loving and forgiving God would surely forgive all of us misguided atheists (once we reached the afterlife and realized we'd been wrong all along.)
    If someone has trouble finding God during their human life because of an honest matter of intellectual integrity, I would expect God to be big enough to handle... and the truth is evident when they finally DO see God... much as Thomas doubted but then as soon as he got the data he needed, he knelt before Jesus and said immediately, "My lord and my God." His heart was right, so when his head caught up, his true affections were evident.

    Come to think of it, isn't belief/disbelief involuntary? I've never seen anyone successfully argued into or out of belief in God because it's an experiential thing that can't be explained in purely logical terms. In fact, if I could, I would probably choose to believe in God because I imagine it would make my life feel more purposeful.


    Now you are getting into the meat of it.

    Christianity states both -- it tries to hold people accountable for their beliefs (in terms of doling out punishment), while at the same time there are doctrines that state that without God influencing them, no one can come to him. We even see this embodied in the person of Pharaoh, who hardens his heart against Moses and God and yet whose heart God then hardens so that Pharaoh might not "wimp out later" just out of fear. Elsewhere the Scripture talks about various leaders to be "raised up" merely so that God's power could be wielded against them later; they sound like strawmen God created just to knock them down at his convenience and for his purposes.

    Martin Luther made a big deal of this end of the doctrine and it was involved in the split between Catholicism and Protestantism.

    Unfortunately, I can't do that, because God simply doesn't make coherent sense to me. If I don't even have voluntary control over whether or not I believe, how can I be morally judged for disbelief and sent to Hell?
    That's one of the arguments on the side of "I can't be God's puppet, or it wouldn't be fair for me to be damned to hell."

    That sounds like a pretty outlandish fringe argument, as far as Christian circles go. Suggesting that man is not inherently sinful and that Jesus did not, in fact, die for our sins, contradicts the most basic fabric of the Christian faith. I'd hesitate to call such a belief system "Christianity" at all.
    How immersed are you in the church and popular religious discussion? You sound like you have not been doing a basic cursory reading.

    Christianity Today has covered aspects of that ongoing debate periodically in the last ten years.

    It does sound like you comprehend what a BIG deal it is to the faith, however, if some people would push that not all men are "inherently sinful" and thus don't NEED a savior to avoid being damned.

    In any case, you know as well as I that the definition of Christianity is determined by whoever has control over the doctrines.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  3. #93
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    What about this?

    If it were maximally clear that act x is unethical, then anyone who xed would be without excuse: he'd have no rational defense for his xing.
    Except it's not maximally clear that some things (which would presumably result in eternal damnation) should be avoided. For instance, disbelief in God--if it were maximally clear that everyone should believe in God, everyone would believe in God because failure to do so would be obviously and incontrovertibly ridiculous.

    And even if this supposed person had no rational defense for x-ing, it's still impossible for x-ing to constitute infinite sin; therefore, I cannot rationalize infinite punishment. What grounds have you to declare anything "maximally clear", exactly?


    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    As I define it, faith is understanding, and nothing inconsistent is capable of being understood. This is why I asked you to take your best shot: you seem like a bright fellow; explaining how Christian doctrine is consistent in the face of critical inquiry forces me to grow in my understanding, and therefore it would increase my faith. (Or cause me to abandon it could you show that it was truly inconsistent).
    I didn't say that religion's arguments are inconsistent; I said that the premises upon which they're based require arbitrary acceptance of numerous ideas for which there's no discernible evidence. Again I'm questioning soundness, not validity. If you accept the presupposition that God exists and that we all need his forgiveness, Christianity's basic suppositions are clearly consistent--but that's not where I'm taking issue.

    My issue is with how we can arrive at those presuppositions in the first place. The only way seems to be through an arbitrary leap of faith in the total absence of any meaningful evidence, which I cannot accept because it would be equally reasonable to make an arbitrary leap of faith to accept any number of other total absurdities. (Flying spaghetti monster, dragon in my garage, etc. etc.)

    Also, do you mean to say that anyone who believes he understands anything is, by definition, being reasonable? I really can't agree with that either. Charles Manson "understood" that the Beatles had written secret messages in their music instructing him to kill people. Even if his argument for this proposition was valid, it was unsound because the Beatles did not actually write any such messages into their music; thus, at least one of his premises was false.

    Not to say that the average Christian is comparable to Manson, of course

    But when you take something on faith, you're conceding that it can't be taken on its own merits. You're implicitly admitting that there's no rational reason to believe it, but you do anyway. How am I to accept the premises upon which religion is based if I do not experience or "feel" God the way religious people claim to? I cannot arrive at any such conclusion purely through logic, and I have not had any direct experience to convince me of his presence.

    It's my contention that faith is illogical because it can't be explained adequately without said direct experience.
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  4. #94
    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post

    It's my contention that faith is illogical because it can't be explained adequately without said direct experience.
    Faith is a feeling, therefore illogical but the reason why people experience that feeling can come from using logic.

    Like faith in gravity before being able to mathematically explain it. There was still a reasoning behind it first.

  5. #95
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Think outside your frame for a second, okay?

    To whit: What if you find an eternity Hell more palatable to you than being eternally in proximity with God?

    According to basic Christian scripture, God is like an all-consuming fire. He does not foster lies or illusion. He is merciful but also just, terrifyingly so. All of your pretenses are stripped bare in the presence of such a person. You see yourself exactly as you are, and any lies you have fabricated about yourself, to make you smarter, stronger, wiser, more loving, kinder, better than you are, will all be immediately burned away in the flames of such a bright and perfect holiness. And it's going to hurt; I am not kidding about how painfully searing it will be. I've experienced a lot of psychological growth and increasing awareness in my life and it was absolutely painful for me to confront these things in me; it was very much like getting burned.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Hell was defined as the worst possible suffering imaginable. After so many years of suffering and still never approaching any sort of end (this is eternity we're talking about), you'd think everyone would eventually accept his faults and choose to be with God--since Hell, by definition, must be even worse.

    I've experienced some of this sort of thing too, and I'm sure I have a lot left to go through in the future. Funny thing about it, though, was that I didn't need to imagine a conscious entity with an arbitrary moral agenda actively governing the universe in order to look for things I can improve about myself and work on personal growth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Can you accept being an imperfect, flawed, puny, senseless, limited, sullied human being next to a being so bright... or would it be something you would loathe and despise because you are unwilling to be honest about who you are and what you can NEVER be regardless of your petty aspirations? Knowing you are not in charge of your own fate and that your life rightfully belongs to someone other than you and you really "can't" be "your own person"?
    I do accept being imperfect and flawed...but I don't accept that anyone else is in charge of my fate. If I died and found out I was wrong about this, maybe I'd spend some time in Hell being in denial about it, but since I'd have all eternity to spend there and think about it, eventually I'd have to come around and see the light.

    I could see Hell as a temporary state, but the concept of people being stuck there for eternity based on how they behave in a brief ~80 years on planet Earth is still ridiculous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    (note: "you" meant in the general sense, I'm making a case here...!)

    I've mentioned before that the simplest analogy I've seen occurs at the end of CS Lewis' "The Last Battle," where Narnia is destroyed. All creatures are streaming through the final door, where Aslan sits, and when the creatures look at him, one of two things happen: Either they look upon him and respond with love and longing and those creatures enter the door into paradise; the others look upon Aslan with fear and hatred because he threatens everything they are and instead run off into the dark never to be seen again.
    Well, if those creatures realize their errors (which they inevitably would given infinite time to figure it out while rotting away in Hell), surely an eternally forgiving God would allow them into his presence. It's just the "Hell is infinite and permanent" part that bugs me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    The answer to your question, in a nutshell, of "Who would ever think to reject heaven and embrace hell?" is "People who would see the true heaven AS Hell and the true Hell as Heaven in comparison." That's who.
    Well, then aren't those people actually in Heaven, then? If this is all up to perception and you prefer Hell to Heaven, you're not really actually in "Hell", are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    People who do not get a good sense of who they are in this life and end up finally face to face with God have a lot to process in the blink of an eye, as all of their illusions are stripped bare. if God has become the antithesis of all you are as a human being, then you're going to reject him even if you SEE him... and perhaps ESPECIALLY because you've seen him.
    Sure, you might reject him for a while, but given infinite time to burn in Hell and think about your mistakes, eventually you'll come around. Hell as a reparative place where people have to stay until they learn to accept and embrace God makes waaaaay more sense than Hell as a permanent and infinite punishment that nobody ever leaves after entering.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    You would, if your decision was entirely rational.
    But it's not.
    It's going to be a heart decision, not a head decision.

    Can you spend eternal proximity to God or to Hell?
    Which one will be more palatable?
    As I said, if you're not aligned with God in your heart and center of your being, Hell might easily be more palatable.
    Already responded to this.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    If someone has trouble finding God during their human life because of an honest matter of intellectual integrity, I would expect God to be big enough to handle... and the truth is evident when they finally DO see God... much as Thomas doubted but then as soon as he got the data he needed, he knelt before Jesus and said immediately, "My lord and my God." His heart was right, so when his head caught up, his true affections were evident.
    Right, I could see that. It's just the whole "you are permanently stuck in Hell forever if you don't accept God during your life on Earth" thing that I find absurd. The reparative Hell you describe seems much more like purgatory.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post


    Now you are getting into the meat of it.

    Christianity states both -- it tries to hold people accountable for their beliefs (in terms of doling out punishment), while at the same time there are doctrines that state that without God influencing them, no one can come to him. We even see this embodied in the person of Pharaoh, who hardens his heart against Moses and God and yet whose heart God then hardens so that Pharaoh might not "wimp out later" just out of fear. Elsewhere the Scripture talks about various leaders to be "raised up" merely so that God's power could be wielded against them later; they sound like strawmen God created just to knock them down at his convenience and for his purposes.

    Martin Luther made a big deal of this end of the doctrine and it was involved in the split between Catholicism and Protestantism.
    k

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    That's one of the arguments on the side of "I can't be God's puppet, or it wouldn't be fair for me to be damned to hell."
    Which is still an issue for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    How immersed are you in the church and popular religious discussion? You sound like you have not been doing a basic cursory reading.

    Christianity Today has covered aspects of that ongoing debate periodically in the last ten years.

    It does sound like you comprehend what a BIG deal it is to the faith, however, if some people would push that not all men are "inherently sinful" and thus don't NEED a savior to avoid being damned.

    In any case, you know as well as I that the definition of Christianity is determined by whoever has control over the doctrines.
    I was always under the impression that "Jesus is your lord and savior and he died on the cross to pay for your sins" is the most fundamental basis of Christianity. People can debate that all they want, but imho, if you don't believe that, you're not a Christian, end of story.

    I'm reminded of an earlier discussion I had about the definition of religion, where I was talking about "spiritual" people who make up whatever beliefs they feel like and then continue calling it "Christianity" no matter how heavily it differs from Christian doctrine out of fear of breaking from the tradition they were raised with.

    If I tell people I'm a Nazi, I shouldn't be surprised when they assume the worst. I could make up my own belief system called "Nazism" where we believe in free love and world peace, but that's clearly not the connotation associated with that belief system, so if I'm going make shit up and redefine the term however I feel like (as do a number of "Christians", like the ones mentioned above), it'd probably be best for me to choose a term that doesn't already near-ubiquitously mean something completely different.

    In any event, you've convinced me that Hell could work as a reparative process where people's souls are condemned until such a time as they learn to accept and embrace God.

    Unfortunately this still doesn't do anything about the problem of faith's irrationality. Why do you as a person of faith not also have faith in lots of other arbitrary ideas for which there is no evidence? I suppose this is because you've had some kind of unique personal experience that convinced you there is a God.

    But I don't see this as logical, really. If I hallucinated a dragon in my garage, I'd be more inclined to contact a psychiatrist immediately than to believe dragons actually exist. The fact is, I still can't accept God because I haven't had whatever personal direct experience seems to convince people of his existence; belief in God only occurs as a result of direct experience. If you've directly experienced God in some way, do you really even need "faith"? It would seem that this kind of experience would give you direct evidence, which negates the need for faith.

    Ergo, faith in God is illogical. That's really my only point here.
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  6. #96
    Senior Member incubustribute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    Ergo, faith in God is illogical. That's really my only point here.
    Of course it is

    As a Christian myself, I would not see any reason to debate this point any further. You mentioned Martin Luther, who argued that reason and faith are enemies to the nonbeliever. I've been reading this thread and been hesitant to offer my input (getting between two NTP's discussing religion is not my cup of tea ), but I want to offer a quick point.

    Simulated: why does this process of proving/disproving everything logically really matter in the eternal perspective? Sure, it's useful for dissecting arguments and understanding contrary belief systems and communication, etc. But at the end of your life when you are on your death bed, will you honestly be all that concerned with your arguments and your knowledge, or will you be concerned more with the people you leave behind and how you've affected them? Not trying to undermine your value system on life, I just want to offer you a new perspective that perhaps you haven't considered before. I see all this arguing about the nature of God, and I have to wonder if it's really all that important or even relevant to reduce something as infinitely complex and wonderful as God to a true/false logistical structure.

    I think might be :rolli: if he read a lot of this

  7. #97
    Senior Member incubustribute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    According to basic Christian scripture, God is like an all-consuming fire. He does not foster lies or illusion. He is merciful but also just, terrifyingly so. All of your pretenses are stripped bare in the presence of such a person. You see yourself exactly as you are, and any lies you have fabricated about yourself, to make you smarter, stronger, wiser, more loving, kinder, better than you are, will all be immediately burned away in the flames of such a bright and perfect holiness. And it's going to hurt; I am not kidding about how painfully searing it will be. I've experienced a lot of psychological growth and increasing awareness in my life and it was absolutely painful for me to confront these things in me; it was very much like getting burned.

    Can you accept being an imperfect, flawed, puny, senseless, limited, sullied human being next to a being so bright... or would it be something you would loathe and despise because you are unwilling to be honest about who you are and what you can NEVER be regardless of your petty aspirations? Knowing you are not in charge of your own fate and that your life rightfully belongs to someone other than you and you really "can't" be "your own person"?
    I love this! Another view of God that is similar to this, and yet more down to earth is in this video (which you may or may not have seen):

    YouTube - God's Chisel - The Skit Guys

  8. #98
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by incubustribute View Post
    Simulated: why does this process of proving/disproving everything logically really matter in the eternal perspective? Sure, it's useful for dissecting arguments and understanding contrary belief systems and communication, etc. But at the end of your life when you are on your death bed, will you honestly be all that concerned with your arguments and your knowledge, or will you be concerned more with the people you leave behind and how you've affected them?
    Yes, I will be much more concerned with how I've affected people. Much more concerned with that than whether or not my life has pleased an imaginary deity.

    Quote Originally Posted by incubustribute View Post
    Not trying to undermine your value system on life, I just want to offer you a new perspective that perhaps you haven't considered before. I see all this arguing about the nature of God, and I have to wonder if it's really all that important or even relevant to reduce something as infinitely complex and wonderful as God to a true/false logistical structure.

    I think might be :rolli: if he read a lot of this
    Well, the problem is that I can't consider God to be "infinitely complex and wonderful" without hearing a reasonable justification for his existence in the first place. Since I haven't had any direct experience with God convincing me he exists, I'm forced to rely on logical analysis, which leads me to believe that his existence is unlikely enough to not warrant serious consideration.

    From my perspective, the only evidence I have is people telling me to take their word for it. It's very hard to accept something like this without having a so-called "religious experience."
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  9. #99
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post

    Unfortunately this still doesn't do anything about the problem of faith's irrationality. Why do you as a person of faith not also have faith in lots of other arbitrary ideas for which there is no evidence? I suppose this is because you've had some kind of unique personal experience that convinced you there is a God.

    But I don't see this as logical, really. If I hallucinated a dragon in my garage, I'd be more inclined to contact a psychiatrist immediately than to believe dragons actually exist. The fact is, I still can't accept God because I haven't had whatever personal direct experience seems to convince people of his existence; belief in God only occurs as a result of direct experience. If you've directly experienced God in some way, do you really even need "faith"? It would seem that this kind of experience would give you direct evidence, which negates the need for faith.

    Ergo, faith in God is illogical. That's really my only point here.
    And this why my comments about epistemology, a priori synthetic statements and metaphysics are so important. Of course people barely heeded me...

    If I had an experience of my car being literally "moved" to avoid driving off the road (like a time/space bending experience mind you), it still wouldnt say *anything* about metaphysics. It would be postriori synthetic evidence (content derived from experience with a predicate induced as relating to the subject) that, "My car moved in ways that physics say it doesnt". It would provide *no comment* about a priori synthetics like "all physics defying movements are related to the christian god's intervention".

    This why personal stories, as simulatedworld pointed out, really have nothing to say about the validity of any truly metaphysical worldview (as apposed to psudo-scientific world views). Even if the car story was 100% true, it would not support an a priori synthetic. All truly metaphysical statements require a priori synthetic knowledge. This is knowledge that is not transferable because its perception dependent. Its rational and logical as long as it remains as metaphysical knowledge. The moment its purported as being prescriptively true for other people without sharing the same perception, it becomes psudoscience. Psudoscience is in some sense the attempt of proving metaphysical ideas with postriori synthetic evidence, which is impossible.

    When metaphysical beliefs are personal, not depending on experience (the car example) and are understood as non-transferable, then they are perfectly rational.

    To answer simulated worlds question, "why would people adopt rational metaphysical beliefs over other equally rational metaphysical beliefs?":
    A. Because we can and we must
    B. there is no point in anything if it does not make you happy
    C. believing in "2 + 2 = 4" would be pointless if it didnt make you happy (though a belief in math tends to bring more sound reasoning and happiness)
    D. thus people have a right (a logical and philosophical right) to believe in what is necessary for happiness
    E. we as humans question and wonder
    F. the one area of knowledge that we cannot transfer is metaphysical knowledge
    G. humans demand knowledge and answers to our questions and wonder
    H. though we could all logically have our own metaphysical answers, there is likely more happiness in the collective belief (as it will then unite many under similar codes of society and happiness)

    So the nature of God, under the most intense scrutiny of epistemology, is that the nature of God is whatever the individual needs him to be in order to be happy.

    The following poster has a perfectly logical belief in God. What underlies his particular metaphysical beliefs about god are admittedly (by him) unimportant. Whats important is that he has metaphysical beliefs that aid in his search for happiness. Because what would be the point in fulfilling a religion if it didnt ultimately make him happy?

    Quote Originally Posted by incubustribute View Post
    Of course it is

    But at the end of your life when you are on your death bed, will you honestly be all that concerned with your arguments and your knowledge, or will you be concerned more with the people you leave behind and how you've affected them? Not trying to undermine your value system on life, I just want to offer you a new perspective that perhaps you haven't considered before. I see all this arguing about the nature of God, and I have to wonder if it's really all that important or even relevant to reduce something as infinitely complex and wonderful as God to a true/false logistical structure.

    I think might be :rolli: if he read a lot of this

  10. #100
    desert pelican Owl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    Except it's not maximally clear that some things (which would presumably result in eternal damnation) should be avoided. For instance, disbelief in God--if it were maximally clear that everyone should believe in God, everyone would believe in God because failure to do so would be obviously and incontrovertibly ridiculous.
    Here you assume that people desire to conform their beliefs to that which is maximally clear. (I recognize that "maximally clear" has not here been defined. I'll expand on that below). People ought to desire this; it's intuitive that this should be so, but according to Christian theism people don't desire this. But Christians didn't get this belief out of thin air. It can be discovered by observing how people behave. What do people read? (Do they read?) Do people pursue understanding, or do they pursue pleasure, power, and money? The actions of people speak louder than their words, and the actions of the masses show that understanding is among the least of their concerns.

    And what if one's beliefs were obviously and incontrovertibly ridiculous? In order to hold to obviously and incontrovertibly ridiculous beliefs, one would have to be committed to ridiculous doxastic practices. On what grounds could such a person recognize sound doxastic practices? The degree to which they were committed to their ridiculous practices would occlude their ability to recognize the sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    And even if this supposed person had no rational defense for x-ing, it's still impossible for x-ing to constitute infinite sin; therefore, I cannot rationalize infinite punishment.
    I don't like the word "hell." (The familiar doctrine of hell is a false doctrine that perverts the justice of God). I prefer the term "spiritual death," because it doesn't have the connotations associated with "hell".

    The punishment of spiritual death is self-inflicted. In fact, it's something the spiritually dead person wants. At any moment, if the spiritually dead person wanted to repent and enter the kingdom of heaven, God would surely let him in: God is merciful, and the atonement was of infinite value. The consequences of sin are everlasting because we make it everlasting. God doesn't have a private torture chamber where he everlastingly tightens the screws on the unrepentant; we pull away from him, and he lets us go.

    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    What grounds have you to declare anything "maximally clear", exactly?
    In the ethical domain, something is maximally clear if one is without rational excuse for failing to know it. For the moment, I'll use the rough and ready definition of knowledge as justified, true belief--and the nature of the justification has to be such that it rules out the possibility of a plausible, contradictory, rational alternative to the object that is maximally clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    I didn't say that religion's arguments are inconsistent; I said that the premises upon which they're based require arbitrary acceptance of numerous ideas for which there's no discernible evidence. Again I'm questioning soundness, not validity. If you accept the presupposition that God exists and that we all need his forgiveness, Christianity's basic suppositions are clearly consistent--but that's not where I'm taking issue.
    Oh, when you said that faith made no logical sense, I thought you meant that anything taken on faith couldn't be logically consistent. (Perhaps you can forgive this mistake; it was easy enough to make in view of how I define faith).

    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    My issue is with how we can arrive at those presuppositions in the first place. The only way seems to be through an arbitrary leap of faith in the total absence of any meaningful evidence, which I cannot accept because it would be equally reasonable to make an arbitrary leap of faith to accept any number of other total absurdities. (Flying spaghetti monster, dragon in my garage, etc. etc.)
    Good. This means you're not all dead. Were you all dead, there'd be only one thing we could do: rummage through your pockets and look for loose change.

    The kind of faith you speak of above is abhorrent. If the different versions of Christianity were different persons, the forms of Christianity that incorporated this definition of faith would be persons without brains. Like I said earlier: faith is understanding, and as such it's precisely that which appeals to our cognitive functions.

    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    Also, do you mean to say that anyone who believes he understands anything is, by definition, being reasonable? I really can't agree with that either. Charles Manson "understood" that the Beatles had written secret messages in their music instructing him to kill people. Even if his argument for this proposition was valid, it was unsound because the Beatles did not actually write any such messages into their music; thus, at least one of his premises was false.

    Not to say that the average Christian is comparable to Manson, of course
    Oh, dear God. Far be it from me to ever assert such a thing. To replace true understanding with a phenomenological feeling of understanding is to reverse the order of authority. The mind should lead the feelings, not the other way around.

    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    But when you take something on faith, you're conceding that it can't be taken on its own merits. You're implicitly admitting that there's no rational reason to believe it, but you do anyway. How am I to accept the premises upon which religion is based if I do not experience or "feel" God the way religious people claim to? I cannot arrive at any such conclusion purely through logic, and I have not had any direct experience to convince me of his presence.

    It's my contention that faith is illogical because it can't be explained adequately without said direct experience.
    Natural religion is the study of what can be known of ultimate reality on the basis of general experience--that experience which is common to all men, at all times, in all places. If faith as understanding does not include the potential to know that God exists based on this common experience, then Christianity would make no sense.

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