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  1. #31
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWing View Post
    Numbers are not direct properties of our world. They are but symbolic representations of what may exist.

    For this reason, this matter is not relevant.
    Heh, right after I posted that, I was running out the door to class and realized that you'd probably say that. Point taken.

  2. #32
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Your argument is materialistic and semantic. And even if it is seemingly logically sound, which is debatable, you should consider Pascal's Wager. Assuming that your perfect human reasoning gives you the ability of logically processing through any matter and arriving at a completely correct conclusion may result in a particularly humbling experience for you.

  3. #33
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    Your argument is materialistic and semantic. And even if it is seemingly logically sound, which is debatable, you should consider Pascal's Wager. Assuming that your perfect human reasoning gives you the ability of logically processing through any matter and arriving at a completely correct conclusion may result in a particularly humbling experience for you.
    So what, then. We shouldn't try to search for truth?

  4. #34
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    Your argument is materialistic and semantic. And even if it is seemingly logically sound, which is debatable, you should consider Pascal's Wager. Assuming that your perfect human reasoning gives you the ability of logically processing through any matter and arriving at a completely correct conclusion may result in a particularly humbling experience for you.
    Pascal's argument is as follows. What have you got to loose if you believe in the Christian God? Nothing, right? What have you got to loose if you disbelieve in the Christian God? What if he exists, than you will be eternally damned.

    Well, if I believe in the Christian God I am no less likely to be damned than if I do not. The Christian God is only as likely to exist as the God of the Jews, the God of Muslims, the rebirth into a rat of the Buddhists and the Greek Olympics Gods. Moreover, some of those other gods I've heard of, God forbid they exist, are very vindictive and are very jealous of other objects of adoration and worship I may have. They shall be angered at me even more if I choose to believe in another God than in a no God at all! (As you see that the First Commandment in the Christian book of dogma is 'though shalt not have any gods before me!', highly likely we will find a similar statement in the Koran and the Torah which is also deemed at least nearly as important.)

    Since the afterlife is such a precarious thing because we know so little about it, and if we are willing to take our chances with this matter like Pascal suggests, it is better that we take a shot in the dark and believe in no God at all, as this way we decrease our chances of being eternally damned. Though to undermine such an eschatological schema, what I would like to ask is, what reason is there to believe in the existence of any gods at all? They are altogether foundationless, their existence is only as likely as the existence of my blue rat god with 20 mile long feet and a nose of 55 meters. Why is Pascal's Wager on the table in the first place?
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  5. #35
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    What is the Judeo-Christian God? There are many different theories on that. A more sensible question might be, what are the minimum set of properties a theory must ascribe to God, for that God to be the Judeo-Christian God?

    Christians disagree about evolution. Some believe that about 6000 years ago, God created life all at once in the forms which we currently observe. Others accept the evidence which contradicts that hypothesis, and instead believe that life evolved by natural selection (perhaps with God's influence). Both ascribe different properties to God, properties which contradict one another; at least one theory must be false. However, both would seem to be theories about the Judeo-Christian God, which means that neither of these properties must be part of that minimum which I am seeking.

    Another example. Take my previous argument about the creation of the universe. Even if I am correct, and God could not have created everything, He could still have created almost everything, including many of the laws of our universe. Let us suppose that two Christians disagreee on this, with one saying that God created everything and the other arguing as I have done. Supposing that they otherwise agree about God, aren't both of their theories about the Judeo-Christian God? Is being the creator of everything one of that set of minimum properties which I am curious about?

    To refute one theory of the Judeo-Christian God does not refute them all (no more than it does for physical theories). Perhaps the concept is so amorphous that its refutation is almost impossible, in which case try and clean up the concepts involved. Identify that minimum set of properties the Judeo-Christian God must have, and see if you can refute His existence then. There are many problems with the traditional theories of God and interpretations of The Bible, and it seems very interesting to try and solve those problems from the perspective of a believer (which I am not).
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  6. #36
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    Your argument is materialistic and semantic. And even if it is seemingly logically sound, which is debatable, you should consider Pascal's Wager.
    *groan*
    Please, not again.

    Note again that Pascal wasn't even looking at it necessarily from a utilitarian perspective but simply as a reality involved in the faith journey... because knowledge is imperfect.

    He wasn't wielding it as a method of proselytizing or convincing others to believe the way he did.

    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    ... <clarification>... Identify that minimum set of properties the Judeo-Christian God must have, and see if you can refute His existence then.
    That makes sense as a means of approaching the issue. But as you say, the "Christian" definition of God might be too amorphous. I'm not even sure what my own personal minimum set of properties is right now, honestly, although perhaps it would be worth formulating it.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  7. #37
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    To refute one theory of the Judeo-Christian God does not refute them all (no more than it does for physical theories). Perhaps the concept is so amorphous that its refutation is almost impossible, in which case try and clean up the concepts involved. Identify that minimum set of properties the Judeo-Christian God must have, and see if you can refute His existence then. There are many problems with the traditional theories of God and interpretations of The Bible, and it seems far more interesting to try and solve those problems from the perspective of a believer (which I am not).
    If we read the Bible carefully we notice that he is indeed described as the creator of the Universe much like a watchmaker is a creator of a watch. This was William Paley's celebrated argument.

    Highly likely Christian thinkers very early on have realized the incoherence of this view and have attempted to interpret scripture in a different fashion. Or in other words read things into the scripture that are not there.

    What it really says (from the little of it that we can understand) is.

    God is a person who can do all things (omnipotent). God is a person who sees all things (omniscient). God is a person who is everywhere at once. God is a person who is infinite, or covers all things.

    God also has a son, which does not seem too hard to believe granted that he is a person as described above.

    On top of all this God has a place called heaven for people who have embraced the teaching of his Son, where everything is wonderful. And God also has a place called Hell for those who did not follow the teaching of his Son, where they shall suffer the direst of punishment.

    One is a Christian strictly to the extent that he subscribes to this view which is now considered obsolete and plain non-sense. Hence, highly like Christian has died out, as noone, outside of the few fundamentalist circles subscribe to this.

    The bottom line is, when we read the Bible, we ought to look at what it has said, not at what it ought to have said. Yes indeed it is very amorphous, though the above appears to be the most clear-cut explanation we can derive from the text.

    Many thinkers who have professed themselves to be Christian theologians have strayed far away from this theology, in fact their views were more akin to that of Spinoza and the Eastern mystics. That is decidedly un-Christian of them!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    *That makes sense as a means of approaching the issue. But as you say, the "Christian" definition of God might be too amorphous. I'm not even sure what my own personal minimum set of properties is right now, honestly, although perhaps it would be worth formulating it.

    I have outlined them for your convenience, now you know.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  8. #38
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWing View Post
    I have outlined them for your convenience, now you know.
    Now that's service.

    But I already see problems with your very first paragraph. ("God is a person who...") Haven't you ever heard of Open Theology yet?
    "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

  9. #39
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    So what, then. We shouldn't try to search for truth?
    People should and have tried. Many times they succeeded, many times they failed. But who's to say that "sound" or "perfect" reasoning is limited to the group of people and ideas that have succeeded in finding truth. How do you know human logic can lead to truth, or that it always does? Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWing View Post
    Pascal's argument is as follows. What have you got to loose if you believe in the Christian God? Nothing, right? What have you got to loose if you disbelieve in the Christian God? What if he exists, than you will be eternally damned.

    Well, if I believe in the Christian God I am no less likely to be damned than if I do not. The Christian God is only as likely to exist as the God of the Jews, the God of Muslims, the rebirth into a rat of the Buddhists and the Greek Olympics Gods. Moreover, some of those other gods I've heard of, God forbid they exist, are very vindictive and are very jealous of other objects of adoration and worship I may have. They shall be angered at me even more if I choose to believe in another God than in a no God at all! (As you see that the First Commandment in the Christian book of dogma is 'though shalt not have any gods before me!', highly likely we will find a similar statement in the Koran and the Torah which is also deemed at least nearly as important.)

    Since the afterlife is such a precarious thing because we know so little about it, and if we are willing to take our chances with this matter like Pascal suggests, it is better that we take a shot in the dark and believe in no God at all, as this way we decrease our chances of being eternally damned. Though to undermine such an eschatological schema, what I would like to ask is, what reason is there to believe in the existence of any gods at all? They are altogether foundationless, their existence is only as likely as the existence of my blue rat god with 20 mile long feet and a nose of 55 meters. Why is Pascal's Wager on the table in the first place?
    1. I'm assuming you meant "lose."
    2. Upon acquiring a little knowledge on the subject, you will discover that "God of Christianity" is in fact the same "God" of the Jews and of the Muslims. Furthermore, as per some relatively recent Christian discussion, the spirituality of Buddhism often is related to the spirituality of Christians (at least in the arena of Catholicism).
    3. The First Commandment in your "Christian book of dogma" is indeed highly likely to be found in the Torah unless it is missing due to some typo, as the "Christian book of dogma" actually includes the first five books of the Torah, called the Pentateuch.
    4. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity would be better understood as having separate interpretations of God rather than separate Gods. One could even argue that Buddhist morality is connected to these three also.
    5. Pascal's Wager is on the table because your thread was about, and indeed named with "God" in mind only, not the gods of any polytheists, current or ancient. It was brought up because it concerns not the question of whether to live by specifically Christian standards in this context but the question of why it is a safer bet to believe in God, which applies to numerous religions and creeds. I simply assumed foolishly that you would be more knowledgeable about the common ground between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (i.e. God) since you obviously researched the thought behind God and against God and, what's more, cared about it enough to type a rather long winded discussion topic about God. I apologize for the misunderstanding.
    7. There are reasons to believe in God, and perhaps reasons to believe in gods. There have been plenty of philosophers in favor of God after all.
    6. The point in my entering the discussion at all was to indicate that you, who claim not to believe in God or gods, are coming dangerously close to believing in logic/human reasoning as your deity.

  10. #40
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Bluewing,

    The problem of how to interpret The Bible is one which fascinates me, and there are many competing theories. One theory is that The Bible is a textbook (or how-to manual) sent from God. This seems to be the dominant theory, with a literal interpretation. This theory, however, cannot be true, since The Bible contradicts itself more than once, even on such concrete matters as how many people were in a particular place and time. Whatever it is, The Bible is not inerrent, and God does not write a textbook with mistakes in it. Therefore, the textbook (or how-to manual) theory is incorrect.

    It seems to me that The Bible was written by people, and even with divine inspiration people are fallible. It also strikes me as important when The Bible was written, particularly the Old Testament. For one thing, as recently noted in another thread, the first books of the Old Testament are implicitly polytheistic. One God was to be worshipped above every other, which seems to imply that other Gods exist and they can be worshipped. The book of Exodus (I think) even claims that the God of the Hebrews is powerful enough to overcome the Egyptian Gods, another suggestion of polytheism.

    Why would this be? I do not think that this causes any difficulties when we presume that people wrote The Bible, and would therefore write into it errors--including their own mistaken interpretation of what was occurring. For example, perhaps the Gods of the Egyptians did not exist, but only the God of the Hebrews. The writer, however, whose theories and expectations of the universe were shaped by the time and place where he lived, may have believed that the Egyptian Gods existed. Therefore, what we read is his mistaken interpretation of the facts, not the actual events which unfolded. Much of the same kind of reasoning may account for the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the New.

    Although I do not actually believe any of them, these ideas interest me, and tend to encourage in me more tolerence toward those who believe, what on the surface, often seems quite silly to me.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

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