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  1. #76
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Well I never saw myself being born from my mother but I believe that I was. I have never actually seen the earth rotate around the sun but I believe it does. I have never seen an atom but I believe that they are there. I have never seen my own heart but I'm pretty sure it's there.

    There are other examples but all the evidence for these things are no stronger than the evidence that I have for the existence of God.

    And I'm not trying to be smarmy, I just needed really basic ideas because I didn't want to write that much and I knew you would figure out what I ws getting at.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    We get up in the morning and believe that we are alive. But we have good reason to believe that. We believe that the sun will rise each morning. It may not, but we believe it will. We have good reason to believe it will. We believe that if we pierce our heart with a sharp instrument and bleed profusely that we will most likely die, and we have good reason to believe that. But then many believe that God is watching over them, and the reasons to believe become quite different in nature. Many believe that they will burn in hell if they violate the principles of the bible, and the reasons for that belief again are very different in nature from the others that I spoke of. Have you met anyone who burned in hell recently? Have you met anyone credible who spoke with God recently and received an answer? Science and religion both require belief, but it's simply a word. What supports one does not adequately support the other, and vice/versa.

  2. #77
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zsinj
    No offense to your dad, Miri, but I think he's a bit out in left field with his explanation of mental illness being from demon posession. I have a mental illness and I am certainly not demon possessed! Obviously your dad has no clue about psychology and the workings of the brain. Again, no offense meant, I just get kind of pissed off when people say things like that. You see, I've seen several mentally ill people discriminated against by fundamentalist Christians, and frankly, it makes me sick!
    LOL, no offense taken regarding my dad. I have come to accept that he is a very simple-minded individual. I used to argue with him about various philosophical and religious issues but eventually gave up because he was so stubborn in his views that he automatically disregarded anything that contradicted them. He wasn't willing to really discuss an issue with me, only reveal the "truth" to me, which was always something he either read in the Bible or in a book written by a fundamentalist preacher. For example the matter of mental illness being caused by demon possession: I tried to explain to him that such illnesses can often be controlled by drugs, which is a physical treatment not spiritual, therefore there must be a physical basis for the illness. He just shook his head and said, "trust me, I know, demons are behind all those things." You're right, he knows nothing about psychology, and doesn't want to know--because that's a science and science is "of the world," not "of God." Therefore false, and to be disregarded.

    I've had even more exasperating arguments regarding evolution--I can't even tell you how ignorant he is on what the theory of evolution actually postulates but yet he'll argue to the death that it's all hogwash and that all scientists are egomaniacs who make stuff up to make themselves look smart.

    I'm not writing all this just to bash my father. I'm mentioning it because I think it's relevant to the conversation. It ties into what Scott was saying about people confusing faith with knowledge--some people, like my dad, believe with all certainty that the things they have come to believe through their religious faith, things which are not based on empirical evidence, are in fact rock-solid truth which has somehow been proven. In other words, it's not a matter of opinion. And they'll even explain to you how their beliefs have been proven--my dad loves to talk about how the theory of evolution has supposedly been proven utterly false, and how creation has been proven true. Of course, anyone with even a knowledge of highschool science could see the gaping holes in his arguements, but he doesn't see them. Because he doesn't want to see them or because he's not smart enough, I don't know. But my point is that for many people there is no difference between faith and knowledge. There are only things that they know to be true, no matter what anyone else says...naturally not all Christians are so narrow-minded but plenty of them are. Although they would call it having strong faith and see it as a good thing. (I don't agree, I think dangerous things can happen when people stop thinking for themselves...)

    I guess I should stop here before I say anything offensive, if I haven't already...I admit I don't feel very friendly to the religion that was forced upon me so strongly when I was a child.

  3. #78
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    If you think that the evidence for both is equally credible, then there is not much more to discuss. Yes, there is an element of belief in all that we do and see. An element. But if there was no way to evaluate the veracity of one claim and the falsity of another, we could not function. Those methods are simply suspended when it comes to scripture and religion in general. My question is why? Why suspend them in one instance and insist upon them in another? Why does the fantastic, shrouded in religious clothing that promises holiness and salvation and hellfire, cause us to suspend reason and believe, when LOTR simply provides us with enjoyment? Is it simply because it is not demanding that we believe?

  4. #79
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Damn good question.

    For me its beacause I have prayed (also read meditate, reasearch its all the same to me) on it (and don't picture me kneeling at my bed or in a yoga position, I'd rather do it while shopping or working or whenever) and I can see that some of it is the truth. How much of it is truth and how much is interpretation slowly unravels and still hasn't finished doing so. But the same can be said for a scientific hypothesis. They get new evidence every day that creates a new understanding.

    As for fantasy I'm pretty sure that none of the authors or the text itself is saying this actuality is a universal truth so I don't bother to look for the truth of it. But the message or theme of the book can be one of those truths but in that case setting and plot can be changed the message of LOTR can be found in Babylon 5 and I'm sure there are other examples of this. So it's not important that say Gandalf is an Angel but what is important is that IF he was and his actions and words were truth what does that tell us? What can we learn from that?

  5. #80
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    People need to believe in something. To believe that there is nothing is still a belief. I understand people worshiping a God because their parents did. I understand people worshiping a man (the Pope) because their parents, friends, everyone they knew did. I get that.

    What I don't get is someone claiming "Hey, I talked to God the other day. He said we need a new religion." i.e. L. Ron Hubbard as well as Mormons.

    I don't get it. Jesus said he was the last. How did these two create such strong religions? Is the need to believe so strong that it transcends common sense? Are certain people so complacent that they fail to look beyond a single book for truth?

    I read the book of Mormon. I read the Bible. I read the Buddhist works. I read the Jehovah Witnesses' version of the Bible. I was on a quest for truth. Where did my path lead me? That all these books are VERY similar in that they tell stories of right and wrong and show you that the outcome of good is always better than the outcome of bad.

    Hrmph.

    So where does that leave me? I still search. I still read. But I fail to grasp why people cling so desperately to God once they 'claim' to have found him. I fail to understand why sports figures thank 'God' when they win. God doesn't care, does he? If God is busy making sure that home run gets hit, or that last second shot gets made, is he too busy to help those premature babies? Why doesn't he help the starving masses around the world? I'm a cynic, I know.

    There's a lot of discussion here, but I doubt, after people doing thousands of years of theological research, we'll ever find proof of God. Yes, a story or two or three may be proven as true in the Bible, but that doesn't mean that there was a 'God' present. It just means that war happened or that city existed.

    Here's my BIG question for the day.

    Polytheism existed two thousand years before monotheism. Why were/are polytheists wrong and monotheists right?

  6. #81
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Wrong and right in whose eyes? In mine, they are both a bit odd.

  7. #82
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    Wrong in the eyes of monotheists.

    I fail to understand the whole 'my God(s) is(are) better than your God(s) mentality. Why were the Egyptians wrong and the Jews right? Why weren't the Greeks right? Why does 'God' have so many traits of all other Gods yet Christians, Catholics, Jews, etc, deny that he/she does?

    Certain stories in the bible have striking similarities to many other mythological stories, yet the Bible is taken as fact and all others dismissed at 'myth'. The most obvious is the flood story. Every major civilization/religion has a 'flood' story that is similar to the one in the Bible. So what makes the Bible more right (in the eyes of one who thinks the Bible is the authority)? What is it that makes 'God' and not Gods right?

  8. #83
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    Gotta love a lively debate!

    The good thing about conversations is the opportunity to see how you are coming across to the other side. To discover that I am guilty of preempting the validity of scientific claims is rather startling. Evidently, referring to modern science as a belief system somehow indicates the truths they hold so dear are something I seem to flatly reject. I assume that's what preempting their validity means.
    Do you really think that's my argument, HE? Obviously we're arguing at cross purposes, which means we should take a step back and reappraise. Here's what I see happening...

    If you were simply saying 'science is a belief system' then I would have no problem. In fact, what you're saying is 'science is a belief system no different than any other,' with the conclusion, which you explicitly state, that its claims are no better than any other. My reply simply was, 'but it's far different, both in terms of structure and results.'

    It just so happens that claims like 'science is a belief system no different than any other' have a long history of being used to vouchsafe religious belief systems against the critical implications of science. This strategy, I think, is flawed in that it completely dismisses what distinguishes science - what in fact has allowed it completely transform the world we live in.

    The fact that you seemed, and still seem, so reluctant to engage the question of how science differs (which you have to in order to make the claim 'science is a belief system no different than any other' stick), led me to assume that you in fact hold religious beliefs that you wish to vouchsafe from the critical implications of scientific claims. If this assumption is wrong, I apologize.

    But you have to admit, you've never actually engaged the issue of why science differs so dramatically in both process and product. And until you do, you've yet to defend your conclusion. You can give lists of how whales resemble fish, but that does not make a whale 'essentially a fish.' It's the differences you need to account for if you hope to make your case. You need to show how those differences have no impact on the comparative veracity of the claims at issue.

    Instead you turned to a philosophical claim: that the veracity of all claims is merely a function of their context. This is a preemptive claim. You suspend the comparative veracity of scientific claims by making a philosophical claim regarding the nature of all claims. Since I think the unreliability of philosophical claims is obvious, I simply questioned the rationality of making one the basis of suspending what I take to be the obvious reliability of scientific claims. Like I say, convicting the Pope on Ted Bundy's testimony.

    Is this not what's happened so far?

  9. #84
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maus99
    What I don't get is someone claiming "Hey, I talked to God the other day. He said we need a new religion." i.e. L. Ron Hubbard as well as Mormons.

    I don't get it. Jesus said he was the last. How did these two create such strong religions? Is the need to believe so strong that it transcends common sense? Are certain people so complacent that they fail to look beyond a single book for truth?
    Well I present the idea that God reveals himself culturally to make the pill a little easier to swallow.

    Quote Originally Posted by maus99
    I read the book of Mormon. I read the Bible. I read the Buddhist works. I read the Jehovah Witnesses' version of the Bible. I was on a quest for truth. Where did my path lead me? That all these books are VERY similar in that they tell stories of right and wrong and show you that the outcome of good is always better than the outcome of bad.
    And I see this as evidence. Every religeon has the golden rule. They all are the same when you take them in their most basic form. Hence the reason while I am Catholic I can accept someone else's faith as truth but see no need to convert. The Pope showed this when he went to the middle east and said that Jews and Muslims were not going to hell, that they just needed to be good Jews and Muslims.

    Quote Originally Posted by maus99
    But I fail to grasp why people cling so desperately to God once they 'claim' to have found him. I fail to understand why sports figures thank 'God' when they win. God doesn't care, does he? If God is busy making sure that home run gets hit, or that last second shot gets made, is he too busy to help those premature babies? Why doesn't he help the starving masses around the world? I'm a cynic, I know.
    Well the pact that God made with man, or maybe the rule he made for man was that we get to have free will and that we give up that free will for each other and for faith as the ultimate act of free will. As I see God as omnipotent I don't see how busy would come into the equation. I could see how helping a quarterback win a game would not be interfering in Human affairs where as doing everything important for us would. But I don't think it works that way. We ask God to help us, to give us the strength to do something. We give up our will to that and we are given the strength to achieve. Maybe the problem is that not enough people are asking for his help with the starving babies. I'm not saying that the people who ARE helping said babies are doing something wrong, I'm saying that the people who sit by and do nothing and don't care about it are not doing what they should be doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by maus99
    Polytheism existed two thousand years before monotheism. Why were/are polytheists wrong and monotheists right?
    I don't think all the polythiests were wrong. Again Hindu is polytheistic as is Shinto and Confucianism and I see them as also another face of God.

    Also technically christianity is now Polythiestic:

    It started when Abraham wrestled God and mistook him for one of the Sumerian gods. The Jews still accpeted the existence of other Pantheons until Babylon where they decided that God was the only one. Then Christianity came along and Jesus enforced this. But then he said: "No one speaks to God except through me." setting up a chain of command even though they were technically the same entity, and also I think this statement was misinterpreted. And then people decided that the big J was to important for them but that maybe his human mother could intervene on their behalf. And then that gulf widened and people started preying to the saints and then you suddenly found that saints and angels had MO's like patron saint of this and that. My mom still tells me to pray to Anthony if I need to find anything that I have lost. So now Christians have a Pantheon. I myself am guilty of it sometimes because I really like the prayer to Saint Michael the Christian Angel of War.

  10. #85
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Kongming, I respect your right to believe whatever you choose. But, I would like very much to understand why you choose to believe in this particular fantasy as opposed to another? What about Christianity appeals to you? What solace does it provide? Is it the solace that makes it so compelling? What if someone wrote a more credible fantasy that incorporated similar ideals? Would you consider changing your allegiances?

  11. #86
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bakker
    If you were simply saying 'science is a belief system' then I would have no problem. In fact, what you're saying is 'science is a belief system no different than any other,' with the conclusion, which you explicitly state, that its claims are no better than any other. My reply simply was, 'but it's far different, both in terms of structure and results.'
    Yes you are right in the way that all belief systems are different. But the basics are the same: find a way to explain our reason for being here. As for if it's better, then that's your opinion. You are right that it's better had comming up with handy new tools for humans to play with and its really good at comming up with tools that humans can use to destroy each other. But religeon was never meant to address those issues except to make the point that peace is better. Religeon is simply about explaining our place in the universe and defining the perametres of meaning. Science can do this too, but so far has not gotten any further. What will be great is when the two are combined and we can actually use both systems as symbiotic sensors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bakker
    It just so happens that claims like 'science is a belief system no different than any other' have a long history of being used to vouchsafe religious belief systems against the critical implications of science. This strategy, I think, is flawed in that it completely dismisses what distinguishes science - what in fact has allowed it completely transform the world we live in.
    I don't think anyone really cares if science turns it's eye at religeon. In fact I think most would welcome it. But it will take centuries for it to PROVE anything conclusive. But it will be good when it helps faith out a little as it has stagnated a little, philosophy is still going, but there's only so much it can do. But I think you miss that those who hawk science as the only system that has answers are doing them same thing to faith and philosophy that you say is being done to science. I don't see why it can't be said that they are equals and that their pervue for the most part are not in the same realm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bakker
    The fact that you seemed, and still seem, so reluctant to engage the question of how science differs (which you have to in order to make the claim 'science is a belief system no different than any other' stick), led me to assume that you in fact hold religious beliefs that you wish to vouchsafe from the critical implications of scientific claims. If this assumption is wrong, I apologize.
    I think the faithful would love it if science could prove or disprove the existence of God although that would be the end of that kind of faith. And as you said that science has scepticism built into it. Why then can't it take scepticism from another source. I don't think that science really works that way in practice. It's a popularity contest like any other. If you can get enough scientists to like you and your previous theories then they are likely to support your new ones and then the rest of us meager humans get a message that could be wrong. And don't tell me that people look the other way when someone comes up with a new theory that is flawed. I don't want to have to find past cases where this has happened. Also I know you are going to say that faith does this too, and I'm not disputing that. I'm not argueing that faith is better than science, they are both necessary.

  12. #87
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    To what purpose faith, Kongming? Does it make us better? Does it make us more peaceful? Does it perhaps make us more warlike? Why do we to believe in something? Is it our need that makes us want to believe?

  13. #88
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Well because I feel God all around me, I hear her/his voice especially when things are not right, especially when I am obviously wrong. S/He is in the very air we breath and the gravitational pull of the sun and oil we burn that has cost us so much human life. And since I know s/he's there I can't do anything other than believe it. I mean I guess I could run away and try to deny it as many others have done, but that can end badly. As for the son of God I can feel the absolute paradoxical truth of that, as well as my contention that all religeons are worshiping the Universe or at least trying to explain its principles. So even if you came up with a really compelling one and it was in fact another manifestation I would see no point in saying other than: "Yes that is true, tell me more." But I am happy where I am.

    Although if you've read slaughterhouse 5 by Vonnegut the Tralfamadorian version of the bible would work better. If anyone has no idea what I'm talking about you can ask me to clarify that.

    I just want to get a little closer to the truth like everyone else. You do it your way, and I do it mine. The other way seems much harder and almost illogical to me. And I don't mean to insult anyone I just like the easy road. I mean lets say I'm wrong and there's no afterlife, well no harm done at least I tried to be a good person and help others while I was alive. But if the reverse is true then someone who believes that there is no afterlife is in for a shock even if they did do good and help others. And of course I am not suggestiong this person goes to hell, I think like us all this person will be given the opportunity to see what was required.

    Anyway my point was that I will not be shocked either way. But those who don't believe will be shocked at least if they are wrong.

    And what about Christianity DOESN'T appeal to me? You got the vengeful crush your enemies God at first. And then he starts phase two and sends the Panultimate man of peace who lets people torture and kill him because he has a point to prove. Then you've got the first Pope as a craven coward and the Women as the only admirable characters. It's got love and betrayal and vengeful pride and it is even feminist to boot! I couldn't resist that if I tried!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    Kongming, I respect your right to believe whatever you choose. But, I would like very much to understand why you choose to believe in this particular fantasy as opposed to another? What about Christianity appeals to you? What solace does it provide? Is it the solace that makes it so compelling? What if someone wrote a more credible fantasy that incorporated similar ideals? Would you consider changing your allegiances?

  14. #89
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    I hope that it makes us more peaceful and happy.

    I would really be sad if it's purpose was to make us conquerors.

    I hope all the tools we have, Faith, Philosophy, Science etc would help us become better people. We may never be perfect, but we can always be better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    To what purpose faith, Kongming? Does it make us better? Does it make us more peaceful? Does it perhaps make us more warlike? Why do we to believe in something? Is it our need that makes us want to believe?

  15. #90
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    It sounds to me as if you are simply in wonder of the universe. To feel and see God in everything is to feel and see God in nothing, in a way, though it's a pleasant perspective. If you are hedging your bets by believing, I won't fault you. But there has to be another justification, doesn't there?

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