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Posted: 15 February 2005 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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Hi all, I had a retirement party to attend to so I was not able to respond until now. You’ve asked important questions and I would like to respond.

First of all, the arguments boil down to three themes:

1) Reason vs faith premise, are all faiths/creeds bad for a modern world?

And you intellectuals have admitted this is not the case. Good, I agree with you.

2) If not all faiths are bad, why is Christianity included in Sam’s premise?

So far, you intellectuals will not touch the issue without attacking the validity of the bible. But I ask you forget that and just concentrate on the good works generated by Christians. If indeed they be good, Christianity should be commended for them. Right?

3) Does Christianity corner the market on good works.

No, everybody does some form of good works. But in Christianity, we’re commanded to do good works. This is not to ensure salvation, but it is because of salvation. We teach salvation is a gift and not that of ourselves (so no man can boast). It is by grace we’re saved and because of this, we go out and do good works.

Further:
hampsteadpete: Indeed, we live by faith, not by works, not by man’s logic, not by that which man can prove. So some of the foundation of my argument is that which is faith and that which is proven fact. Until we man proves Christ was raised from the dead, I’ll just have to go on faith. Now that we’ve established our groundwork, it appears you are relying on that which man has “proved.” You’ll just have to have “faith” that the rest is true, based upon man’s logic and reasoning. Do you really trust man’s logic over a faith which has endured over 2000 years? A faith that was upheld by the great and the small during this time. Was this magic? How do you explain the continued intensity from generation to generation? And if you someday feel that man’s logic just isn’t enough to live by, then you should give a true critical inspection of this thing called Christianity. Oh yes, I’m sure you know some basics. Try living it for a time and see what happens (you can always say you tried it and nothing happened, but give it a real go).


CanZen: You said: Now to the core question….

Your argument plays into the paragraph above. Not just reasoning, but logic vs faith. How much of your belief system is proven fact? Does it not take a whole lot of faith to believe in evolution (there are lots of gaps that man has not figured out).

Is Sam right to include Christians in his premise? You’ve mentioned Christians murdering people in “Middle East, in Africa, in South America, Central America and SouthEast Asia.” I can only tell you that I have not heard of that and if so, those are not true Christians following Christs example and Paul’s instructions to the church. I disagree, wholeheartedly.

Something you said makes no sense. You said that Sam does “does indeed exempt certain philosophies that promote peace and harmony, tranquility and cooperation” but these are not based on faith. What harm does it to add faith in a supreme being who asks us to love our neighbor???

SkepticX: You mention: intellectual integrity.

Hey, I got you in my sights. What say you? How can you deny the concepts written above and still mantain your intellectual integrity?

I look forward to your responses. Anybody still up for the challenge of attempting Christianity on a trial basis. What harm would it cause? Just think of the joy you will give me! grin I might even shut up!

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Posted: 15 February 2005 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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First of all TheChampion, if you haven’t read ALL of Sam Harris’s book “The End Of Faith” then don’t even bother reading this post because it will be a complete waste of time.

1) When and where did “we intellectuals” (as you so patronizingly call us) admit that it is not the case that “all faiths/creeds are bad for a modern world?”  We all agree wholeheartedly with Sam that that is PRECISELY the case - they are all bad, when belief is based on faith!

(You seem to be reading our posts, but nothing is getting through! Not even the basic premises of what we are saying carries any semblance of comprehension in your realm of understanding.)

Of course good works are generated by Christians, because like the rest of us they are human beings who love other human beings, have empathy and sympathy for them, want to show appreciation and respect and to be appreciated and respected in return. But all those good works have nothing specifically to do with faith in god or any of that imaginary malarky.  Of the 6.3 billion people on this earth less than 2 billion are practising christians and about 1 billion each are practising muslims and hindus and the rest (including the billion plus buddhists) are all commanded (by their human conscience) to do good works.  So why are you always pleading for some special privilege for christians? That plea of yours is just a red herring in your attempt to get an exemption for the christians in Sams complete indictment of all faith-based believers as irrational persons.

I need no faith whatsoever to believe in evolution.  We share 98% of our genetic code with the common field mouse and 99.9% of our genetic code with the chimpanzees, if that is not enough to convince any fair minded, intelligent person then read any text on evolution there are enought facts in those expert accounts to overwhelm the slightest doubt you might have.  The “gaps” you speak of may be more in your intellectual grasp of reality than in any scientific knowledge.

You must be living under a rock!  Haven’t you heard of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq where christian Americans have been slaughtering hundreds of thousands of regular civilians? In Africa, South and Central America, Europe (remember Serbia vs Bosnia?) christians continue to kill people by the thousands every year.  Yet you say that you have not heard of that, are you serious?  Are those American soldiers who get up every morning and say a prayer to your god and then go out and murder innocent Arabs not christians?  Or are they suddenly changed into devil-worshipping christians while you maintain your true and pure (living by Jesus’ and Paul’s word) christianity?  It doesn’t matter to me if you reject the whole Old Testament or become a Jehovah’s Witness, if you live by the better words of Jesus and Paul because they urge you to love your fellow man or if you follow Mohamed, the underlying fact remains that you have faith in a god, and with that faith you can justify all myriad of works both good and bad.  But the bottom line here is that you embrace a deep and dangerous madness - theism!  Some neuro-conductor in your brain’s development has mutated and it has allowed you to lose touch with reality, so now you believe that the creator of this vast and intricate universe has taken a special interest in your particular life.  Can anything be more arrogant and self aggrandizing than to claim that you are in contact with the most powerful and intelligent “being” in the universe? (Wait, I said ‘contact’ but I meant that as another way to indicate belief, you have never claimed here that god speaks to you or touches you in that “special” way.)

I don’t know why I’m even wasting my time writing because you will misconstrue everything I say anyway?  Your last question to me is just the same thing over again. I just explained in detail why Sam rejects chrisitian belief because it is a faith-based system of knowledge, which means that you have to “make yourself believe” that knowledge in spite of the overwhelming evidence against it. (Take the “yourself” out of the above quote and see that it’s only MAKE BELIEVE!)  So you see that Sam allows for philosophies that promote peace and harmony, but then you ask, “What harm does it to add faith in a supreme being who asks us to love our neighbor?”
The harm, Champion, is that this same supreme being also asks us to kill our neighbor (even though you don’t follow that directive many of your christian and muslem brothers do).  So that’s the harm.  Ask any of the millions of people who have been killed in the name of god over the passed two millenia, “What’s the harm?”  And read Sam’s book, please.
If the openeing line of your next post is anything other than, “I just finished Sam Harris’s book” I will certainly not be answering any more of your so-called quiries.

Bob

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Posted: 15 February 2005 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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CanZen: There are many things that I would like to say to you (you always get my mind going and going).  I only have time for a few because I have to get some rest.

You said: I just explained in detail why Sam rejects chrisitian belief because it is a faith-based system of knowledge, which means that you have to “make yourself believe” that knowledge in spite of the overwhelming evidence against it.

Two things. One, creeds that require a person to do good are ok, but Christianity is bad because it is “faith-based.” When did having faith disqualify all the good works?

Two, you are wrong about overwhelming evidence against this faith-based system of ours. “Faith does not, however, mean a leap in the dark, an irrational credulity, a believing against evidences and against reason. It means believing in the light of historical facts, consistent with evidences, on the basis of witnesses. It would be impossible to believe in the resurrection of Jesus apart from the historical facts of his death, his burial, and the witness of the disciples.” George E. Ladd

More and more so, evidence is qualifying the bible, not disqualifying it. Thallus, among others, wrote around 52 A.D about an earlier happening, a massive earthquake accompanied by a period of “darkness.” Even Phlegon mentions it! Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth. These voices from the past are only a part of the historical evidence that just keeps making our cause look all the better.

What say you now?

(oh, and I say intellectual with respect, not spite. I certainly would not want to patronize anyone as others have done to me, it does not feel good)

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Posted: 16 February 2005 12:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Champion,

It seems to me that you make the classic religious-minded error of confusing ‘good’ with ‘true’.

I’m sure there are plenty of ‘good’ christians out there. That does not mean that what christianity says is true. It is perfectly possible to be a good person without believing in imaginary gods. Equally, there are plenty of ‘good’ people of other faiths, and that doesn’t make their faith any more or less true or valid than christianity.

You seem to be arguing that because christians have a duty to do good, then christianity is somehow a more valid belief system. Some criminals have a duty to do community service to atone for their crimes - does that make them as ‘good’ as you? If you only do good because of some giant heavenly bribe, then I think you are not as good as someone who does it out of their own desire to help others for no reward.

In any case, what is ‘true’ is nothing to do with what is ‘good’. The tsunami was not good, but it is a true fact that it happened. Santa Claus is good for kids, but he’s not true. Truth requires a more objective standard of evidence than that it makes people feel good ot behave well. Since there is not such evidence for any christian beliefs, we can safely say that these belies do not represent truth, regardless of how ‘good’ you might think they are.

We ‘intellectuals’ are merely people who need to understand the reasoning behind something before believing in it. In my view, belief systems that are not based on sound reasoning and evidence are bad for humanity, because they leave the door open to all kinds of manipulation of people by religious leaders (religious wars, paedophile priests, banning of condoms, genital mutilation of babies, intolerence of others - the list is a very long one).

So stop trying to be an intellectual - if you believe in fairy stories about gods, don’t try to dress these beliefs up to sound intellectual. You are making a fool of yourself.

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Posted: 16 February 2005 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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(One of my posts from Fall ‘04 on pbs.org under their ‘Question of God’ forum.) 

I’m leaning on a wise man, M. Scott Peck, who did most of his writing in the 70’s and 80’s to add some food for thought. I send here a excerpt from one of his books called “The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace” in which he describes the different stages of spiritual growth. I came upon this book during my struggle to figure out why the Church was and is failing so many people. (Copied from http://www.escapefromwatchtower.com/stages.html)

Two main thoughts came to me when I first read this book: 1. Made me wonder why so many are working so hard to remain in stage II. And 2. Made me wonder what stage of spiritual growth we North Americans would be at if when the Europeans first came over, they had embraced Native American beliefs rather than convert them to Christianity. It would seem by Peck’s analysis that their religion was the more mystical, namely their belief that everything had a spirit, yet they were forced to take two steps back down the ladder of spiritual growth. In the end, we all missed out being lead two steps forward. No wonder the native communities of North America are in such a mess! 

Also find myself thinking of GWB when reading Stage 1 ...

To Champion ...  these stages could be why your efforts to convert/re-convert us, and drag us back down the ladder into organized religion, are failing so miserably.  We’re here to progress, not regress…

Would be interested to read your thoughts on this ... here it is ...


THE STAGES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH, M. Scott Peck

STAGE I:
Chaotic, Antisocial. Frequently pretenders; they pretend they are loving and pious, covering up their lack of principles. Although they may pretend to be loving (and think of themselves that way), their relationships with their fellow human beings are all essentially manipulative and self-serving. They really don’t give a hoot about anyone else. I call the stage chaotic because these people are basically unprincipled. Being unprincipled, there is nothing that governs them except their own will. And since the will from moment to moment can go this way or that, there is a lack of integrity to their being. They often end up, therefore in jails or find themselves in another form of social difficulty. Some, however, may be quite disciplined in the services of expediency and their own ambition and so may rise in positions of considerable prestige and power, even to become presidents or influential preachers.

STAGE II:

Formal, Institutional, Fundamental. Beginning the work of submitting themselves to principle-the law, but they do not yet understand the spirit of the law, consequently they are legalistic, parochial, and dogmatic. They are threatened by anyone who thinks differently from them, as they have the “truth,” and so regard it as their responsibility to convert or save the other 90 or 99 percent of humanity who are not “true believers.” They are religious for clear cut answers, with the security of a big daddy God and organization, to escape their fear of living in the mystery of life, the mystery of uncertainty in the ever moving and expanding unknown. Instead they choose the formulations, the stagnation of prescribed methods and doctrines that spell out life and attempt to escape fear. Yet these theological reasonings simply cover over fear, hide fear and do not transcend it in spite of with acceptance in expanding movement. All those outside of Stage II are perceived to be as Stage I, as they do not understand Stage III and Stage IV. Those who do fall, reverting from Stage II to Stage I are called “backsliders.”

There is a Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, mentality (one-sided thinking - ignorance that produces hostility) in every religion, the one-sidedness, in every ideology. Christianity cannot be condemned as responsible for the fundamentalists who claim to represent such. One just has to look at Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. to see the opposite of such thinking. You can find the Falwell in Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Mohammedism and of course Christianity. That is the narrow one-sided exclusiveness that limits insight to one set of rules and one objective truth, under the literal logic or rationialism, that fails to apprehend the unseen intuitive essence of existence and ignorantly labels outsiders as misled sinners, while surrounding themselves with interior neurotic and finite walls of security and certainty. All is safe in this illusion, but all is not just, nor fair, and does not transcend prejudice that surpasses tribal identity, an identity that must be scrapped in order to bring higher consciousness of planetary cultural peace and love based on principle with intuitive insight.

There is also a Bin Laden (evil intolerance) in every religious culture and teaching, in every social, political and cultural view. Islam cannot be condemned as responsible for the extreme fundamentalists who incorporate harm and war. One just has to look at the other side within Islam, to the Sufi of compassion and peace, that of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen or Hazrat Inayat Khan. Yet the evil of extreme fundamentalism resides in all facets of society, those who would kill and destroy, torture and humiliate, all in the name of their theological and ideological views. They are of course the extreme fundamentalists, yet all forms of fundamentalism, both moderate to extreme, Stage II mentality, fails integration with non-acceptance, that of one-dimensional perception. And yet, in each of these same cultures, although the minority, there exists communal and mystical persons, Stage IV persons, those transmitting inclusiveness and compassion, who transcend all divisiveness in oneness.

STAGE III:

Skeptic, Individual, questioner, including atheists, agnostics and those scientifically minded who demand a measurable, well researched and logical explanation. Although frequently “nonbelievers,” people in Stage III are generally more spiritually developed than many content to remain in Stage II. Although individualistic, they are not the least bit antisocial. To the contrary, they are often deeply involved in and committed to social causes. They make up their own minds about things and are no more likely to believe everything they read in the papers than to believe it is necessary for someone to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior (as opposed to Buddha or Mao or Socrates) in order to be saved. They make loving, intensely dedicated parents. As skeptics they are often scientists, and as such they are again highly submitted to principle. Indeed, what we call the scientific method is a collection of conventions and procedures that have been designed to combat our extraordinary capacity to deceive ourselves in the interest of submission to something higher than our own immediate emotional or intellectual comfort—namely truth. Advanced Stage III men and women are active truth seekers.

Despite being scientifically minded, in many cases even atheists, they are on a higher spiritual level than Stage II, being a required stage of growth to enter into Stage IV. The churches age old dilemma: how to bring people from Stage II to Stage IV, without allowing them to enter Stage III.

STAGE IV:

Mystic, communal. Out of love and commitment to the whole, using their ability to transcend their backgrounds, culture and limitations with all others, reaching toward the notion of world community and the possibility of either transcending culture or—depending on which way you want to use the words—belonging to a planetary culture. They are religious, not looking for clear cut, proto type answers, but desiring to enter into the mystery of uncertainty, living in the unknown. The Christian mystic, as with all other mystics, Sufi and Zen alike, through contemplation, meditation, reflection and prayer, see the Christ, Gods indwelling Spirit or the Buddha nature, in all people, including all the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and so forth, recognizing the connectedness of all humanity with God, never separating oneself from others with doctrine and scripture, recognizing that all scripture acts as fallible pointers of inspiration, unable to capture the essence of truth outside of both human perception and the linguistic straight jacket of language and articulation, that is, the words of fallible men who experienced the nature of God, that of their inner true self, and attempted to record their experience in human words, words constrained by the era of time they were written in that became compromised the moment they were penned and are further removed from objectivity when interpreted by us, fallible men and women who read them.

It is as if the words of each had two different translations. In the Christian example: “Jesus is my savior,” Stage II often translates this into a Jesus who is a kind of fairy godmother who will rescue us whenever we get in trouble as long as we remember to call upon his name. At Stage IV, “Jesus is my savior” is translated as “Jesus, through his life and death, taught the way, not through virgin births, cosmic ascensions, walking on water and blood sacrifice of reconciliation - man with an external daddy Warbucks that lives in the sky - mythological stories interpreted as literal accounts, but rather as one loving the whole, the outcasts, overcoming prejudices, incorporating inclusiveness and unconditional love, this, with the courage to be as oneself - that is what I must follow for my salvation.” Two totally different meanings.

The Stage IV - the mystic - views the conception of “back sliding” as the movement away from the collective consciousness and true inner nature, returning to the separate self - the ego, as opposed to the Stage II - the fundamentalist, whose conception of “back sliding,” is the movement away from mapped out security to that of chaos. Two totally different views.
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Posted: 16 February 2005 01:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Interesting stuff, Rasmussen. I’ll have to ignore (or edit out) the mystical lingo and see if it resonates a bit better with me, but the underlying concepts make a lot of sense. I’m not sure if it’s correct to consider them “stages of development,” but maybe rather a sort of heirarchy of enlightenment—which I see as “making peace” with the cosmos in a total and absolute sense (for lack of better descriptive terms).

Of course it may just work for me because I’m well represented—in stark contrast to the way my “host culture” sees me.

Good stuff though—thanks!

Byron

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Posted: 16 February 2005 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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[quote author=“TheChampion”]Anybody still up for the challenge of attempting Christianity on a trial basis. What harm would it cause?


The funny thing is believers seem to think of this as a “the first one’s free” kind of deal (as in pushing an ilicit drug), the idea being that if you try it you’ll be hooked. Of course they fail to appreciate that’s precisely the kind of mechanism faith is for those sufficiently lacking in integrity to actually pull it off. Most people, however, can’t, IMO (real faith is to the mind like a drug that can’t have its full effect on a healthy immune system would be to the body), so “the first one’s free” doesn’t really work—just demonstrates the rationally corrupt nature of the faith-infected mind (in terms of Dawkins’ memetics, and to be rather blunt).

It’s pretty clear, Champ, that you’re not here to discuss anything, but rather to evangelize. I have no problem with that (knock yourself out), I’m just not interested (and I think you should be up-font/honest about it) . . . though I do enjoy observing religiously motivated thinking and behavior, and the responses and reactions it evokes (sometimes I also like to share my observations).

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 16 February 2005 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Champion’s suggestions and comments are certainly nothing out of the ordinary and an attempt to find support for ones beliefs is typically human. It is interesting to note that Champion is comfortable with faith alone but at the same time anxious to find evidence. I suspect that if evidence was abundant the whole faith thing would be downplayed. I think most religious people consider faith to be some sort of test or filter for the less commited.

If evidence was the deciding factor in whether or not to believe religious belief would not be as prevalent. Champion is obviously intelligent, educated and not atypical of religious followers. Therefore, intellectual or factual insights are probably not what is required to promote rationality.

Champion,

I invite you to stay exactly the way you are. You are certainly a loving and caring person who is taking the time to share and promote a rewarding and purposeful lifestyle.

I personally feel that such a lifestyle is attributable to what you consider to be important. With or without religious influence i think you are destined to be a good person. Truth remains, no matter what we believe.

Paul
(my namesake would probably agree)

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Posted: 16 February 2005 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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Hi all, I really appreciate your responses. You have given me much to digest and hopefully, I have done the same for you. We may never agree on the point where evidence stops and faith begins, but it is healthy to know where each other stands on the matter.

I could not possibly address all of the questions you’ve presented, or address each and every concept, but I will try to highlight some points (I can see we’re going to have some battles in the discussion topics ahead).

Paul Hindle: Thanks for the kind words. You just made the top of my prayer list (lucky you).

You said something earlier I wanted to address. You said: Love did not start nor was it invented by anyone. Love has been a basic requirement for mankind right back to our primate ancestors. Love is not a luxury for humans. Love bonds us to our children, families and community. How long would primative mankind have survived if everyone cared only for the well being of themselves?”

I just want to say that the basic love requirement on this planet, it does not impress God much. Even Jesus mentioned that a father would give good gifts to his child. The love commanded to us believers is the most difficult. Love your enemies, love your neighbor as yourself, etc.

Further, our description of true love is: “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Cor 4-8.

So combine this type of love with the good works, how can it be wrong. How can Sam include Christianity in his premise? Surely he jests?

Nietzsche: You said: So stop trying to be an intellectual - if you believe in fairy stories about gods, don’t try to dress these beliefs up to sound intellectual. You are making a fool of yourself.

I tell you, I certainly would not dress up my beliefs. I think these beliefs stand on their own merit. And what good would that do for my cause? Then by some miracle you actually get converted, you would not be converted on the unfiltered truth. I won’t be a part of that. Also, who is one that is an intellectual? Merriam-Webster says, Intellectual:

1 a : of or relating to the intellect or its use b : developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience : RATIONAL c : requiring use of the intellect
2 a : given to study, reflection, and speculation b : engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect

I think #1 applies to you, and #2 applies to me. But I would rather not be classified as an intellectual. In our world (believers), the party line is: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”  Colossians 2:8. Hence, it is a worthless term in the long run.

Rasmussen: I think Peck’s spiritual growth stages are misguided. I wonder what is the foundation for his work. It certainly does not line up with the spiritual growth in the bible (bearing fruit, etc.). You got Peck’s side, which I read and studied. Sounds plausable, but where what are his views based upon?

Now hear our side. Celebration of Discipline, a good book about spiritual growth. Synopsis from price grabber.com: This classic guide to prayer and spiritual growth espouses the belief that, through meditation, fasting, study, worship, solitude, and confession, we can shed our superficial habits and “bring the abundance of God into our lives.” 

SkepticX: I have not read your articles yet, but I plan to do so, probably this weekend. You know, I think evangelizing occurs all the time for a believer. I don’t go think much about it, I think it comes naturally. All I really wanted to do was find some common ground here. I was almost sure I could pin you folks to matt on several issues…but it seems you folks have wiggled your way out. It may just be me, but I think you did so by sacrificing your intellectual integrity. I mean, you discounted Christianity because it is faith based, as opposed to philosophies and creeds (which got a pass) that are not faith based. Somehow it seems twisted. Intellectuals have a problem with faith. But don’t you need faith for some things? And if you do have faith for those things, where do you draw the line.

Oh well, I look forward to responses, rebuttals, and rebukes.

I will pick up the book where I left off and we’ll see where Sam leads us.

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Posted: 16 February 2005 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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Champion,

Your response shows the utter pointlessness of trying to have an intellectually honest discussion with a religious zealot. You’re mystical quote from some ancient text is meaningless and self-referential twaddle. You are basically saying that a religious believer’s mantra is “don’t listen to rational, empirical argument because it might contradict the dogma that we believe in”.

Your quote was written by a man, not a god. You have been duped, you have been fooled into believing this nonsense. Religious people always take great care to tell you how old their wisdom is - it was written 2,000 years ago - as if that somehow gives it merit.  Newsflash: there is plenty of ancient knowledge that makes similarly little sense that we have now discarded, because we’ve proven it to be wrong. Just because the quotation is old, doesn’t mean it it true.

A little less speculation, and a little more evidential belief would serve you well. And don’t worry - nobody is about to classify you as an intellectual.

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Posted: 17 February 2005 02:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Nietzsche: you said, us believers “don’t listen to rational, empirical argument because it might contradict the dogma that we believe in”.

When you get concrete evidence that God does not exist, that Jesus was not resurrected (we know for sure he existed). Otherwise, all you have are “theorys.” Are you not speculating when you espouse these theories. If so, ok for me to speculate?

You said: there is plenty of ancient knowledge that makes similarly little sense that we have now discarded, because we’ve proven it to be wrong.

I so agree! Man said the earth was flat when the bible was calling it a sphere. We threw out man’s reasoning on the subject. I got plenty more examples where that came from.

Hey Nietzsche, sounds you’re getting a little soft on me. I may not have changed your mind, but you just may be thinking a little more about it than you let on.

SkepticX, where are hiding?

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Posted: 17 February 2005 03:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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Hello Champion ...

I see here that we have a fundamental difference in our thinking.  You equate your belief in God with a belief in the Church.  For me, they are two very different and incompatible beliefs.  I find it quite ironic that the Church has defined God (as a Triune God) when the very first of your Ten Commandments says it is a sin to do so. “I am the Lord your God ... Worship no God but me. Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth…” The closest God comes to defining himself is to say, “I am Who I am.” Leaves the door wide open for speculation. God warns Moses about idolatry and worshipping anything besides him, which would include the Church, as he gives no list of exceptions. I have yet to meet a Christian who is capable of separating their belief in the Church from their belief in God.  To a Christian, they are one in the same.  An atheist or agnostic sits at the more enlightened stage of spiritual growth because they are not working with a false image of God and are free to consider any explanation/possibility when it comes to the Big questions.  A Christian, or any member of an organized religion, is trapped inside one set of beliefs which, more often than not, discount new ideas, not because they go against Truth, Reason and God, but because they go against their own set of limited and false teachings.  Talk about ‘sacrifing intellectual integrity ...’ 

I would bet that you think God has sent you here to this forum to lead us (back) to the Church.  Could it be possible that just maybe you have been led here, not as the teacher you presume to be, but as the student?  Maybe the intention is not for us to be led to the Church, but for you to be led back to God. 

I too, look forward to your response ...

Susan

[ Edited: 17 February 2005 08:35 AM by ]
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“Believe those who seek the truth, doubt those who find it.”  Andre Gide

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Posted: 17 February 2005 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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Champion is working from a belief in man having sinned against God & that God sent His Son to atone for this sin.

For the rational among us, this is quite a notion to swallow!  For a supreme being (if one even exists!) to punish his own creation for seeking knowledge or for disobeying an order to not seek knowledge is the height of irrationality.  Such a supreme being, by taking such an action is immediately disqualified as a supreme being or at the very least dismissed as a nut case by his free thinking creation.

On top of this irrational behavour, this supreme being goes further and damns all future humans; babies, disabled, mentally challenged, whatever, who couldn’t possibly be held responsible for their ancestor’s mistake.

He then sends His Son to suffer horribly to somehow atone for this mistake, except this Son is born into a relatively unknown tribe in the Middle East, leaving millions of Asians, Africans, European pagans, Incas, Aztecs, etc to somehow be apprised of this atonement miracle as quickly as possible.

Let me assure Mr Champion, that anyone in the 21st century who swallows whole this fable & then attempts to promote it, will be severely challenged & if no meaningful change in thinking occurs, will be ignored.

A similar line of argument against the “supreme being” posited in the OT can be made for his “testing” of Abraham by ordering Abraham to sacrifice Isaac & then at the last minute calling off the sacrifice.  I can only imagine the mental anguish such an order must have put Abraham through, not to mention the anger felt when he realized it was only a test!

And then there’s Job where God “bets” Satan that Job will continue to praise God even if he loses everything.  Some God?, some bet?

Let’s get something straight, the Bible is religious literature!  It’s not the key to the universe!  What I think needs to happen is for King Josiah to somehow show up on Larry King live and tell everyone for once and for all how he collected up what stories he could and had them edited into a guide for his tribe.  Once that was done many others simply hopped on the bandwagon & voila we have a bible!  Except it couldn’t be edited forever, since our knowledge of the natural world eventually superseded the myths and assumptions of those who wrote the bible.  So it’s a document frozen in the 3rd century AD.


Ted

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Posted: 17 February 2005 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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Champion,

Don’t worry, I am not in any danger of being fooled by your dogma. Now, to address yet another logical fallacy in your argument:

The onus of proof lies with the one who postulates a positive argument. If you say that a god positively exists, you need to provide evidence to support that. I will remain skeptical until I hear that evidence. If I followed your logic, I could claim that the universe was created by a gigantic 8-legged goat, and since you can’t disprove that, you would have to admit that I was right. This is clearly logically fallacious.

I cannot prove the negative, that god does not exist. I can argue, however, that it is very unlikey that the dogmatic christian (or any other religion’s) version of events it true. There is no evidence of an afterlife, no proof of the existence of the specific form of god you believe in, no reason to suspect that angels, virgin births, holy ghosts, resurrection, miracles, prayer and a whole menagerie of other religious trappings have any substance in objective reality. They may have substance in your imagination, but that is your problem. The fact that many other people have been encouraged to imagine the same things does not alter the facts. It is manifest from history that lots of people can easily be fooled into believing things that are not true.

So the burden of proof lies with you. Where is your evidence?

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Posted: 17 February 2005 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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So far, nobody has given me a compelling “reason” to choose reason over faith. However, I am impressed at the depth of the questioning. Obviously, the posters in this discussion have deep ties toward reason, and a deep set belief in what they believe. But if what they believe is good for mankind, somebody tell me why.


Why Reason > Belief

1. Reason is objective, to a degree belief isn’t.  As science progresses, more and more hypothesis turn into theories and then facts.  This is a process and sometimes we are wrong, but when it is proven wrong most will agree sooner or later.  No one has gone to war to defend the “truth” of scientific theory.  It is the way we have progressed for at least 10,000 years, experimentation and observation. 

Belief on the other hand is subjective, and therefore can’t really be used to unite people, since people will bring their own psychology and experience to their beliefs.  You can clearly see the subjectivity of belief in the proliferation of different Christian doctrines, which is one religion with mutiple beliefs. 

2. Every living organism has two priorities, by the very nature of it being alive; it’s own survival and propagation.  However, several of the major world beliefs function to remove responsiblity for survival from humans, and give it to an nebulous being called “god”.  Some of them even welcome the idea of the “end of the world” or the death of all people that don’t believe like they do.  Behind the Christian lie of love, history has shown is really a love for only those that “believe” what Christians believe.
This to be fair is not isolated to Christains, most religions express this notion that if you do not believe what I believe, you are not as “exaulted, chosen, special, going to be saved” and therefore not as “valued” as a human.  This is a religion of death.

Reason tells me every single living being is basically the same as I am, and therefore just as valid and valued as I am.  Science tells me we all share the exact same relatives, and DNA.
Logic tells me the world is a finite size, and will hold only a certain amount of life.  Economics teaches me the more life there is, the less “valuable” it becomes.  Animal behaviour tells me the more crowded organisms become, the more violent they become. 

3. History and my own internal spirit and education and experience tell me that humans are glorious species, and our intellect and our capability to adapt and alot of luck make us unique.  Religion tells me that we owe someone else for our current situation, that we are flawed, and we are helpless, and a mistake of some other persona, and this persona will step in and correct things if we mess it up.

Reason tells me that although I can feel this internal spirituality, this connectedness to the world and the other humans, if I tried to define it in a dogma or a religion the spirituality of it would be lost in rules and definitions that would seperate instead of unite.

Reason tells me that no one but US is responsible for the future of our species, and because it tells me that, I take the actions of today seriously in the light of the survival of MY species tommorrow.  Religions allow people to focus on an afterlife, instead of on this life which is the important one because its the only one we REALLY KNOW exists.

There, my three reasons why reason > belief.

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