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Posted: 11 January 2005 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Wow, must've touched a nerve there. I don't believe that I intentionally insulted anyone or their intelligence in my posting. I'm sorry that most of you chose to go that route instead of engaging in discussion.
If hatred and venemous words stem from faith, religion and belief I wonder where your words came from.
Life is much more than we can see, feel, taste, and hear. We are not, in sum, biological organisms. We are much more. I am sorry that you cannot feel what I feel in my heart but my intention was not to convert you via a blog posting - rather I would have liked to engage you in debate.
It's very strange, I seem - based on your responses - to be the one whose mind is closed. I only ask that you consider the possibility that yours may be.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

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Posted: 12 January 2005 01:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I cannot, of course, speak for anyone but myself on this forum, and many of the others are far more articulate than I.

To me, debating religion is just the same as debating astrology, or any other superstition.  Very difficult to debate without at least some common ground. 

Closed mind?  I have come full circle, my friend, from belief in some sort of general diety to belief in the non-existance of same.  I arrived here after 55 years of searching and comparing.  I am not a scientist, but have done a fairly good job of self-education, even if I do say so myself.

My primary area of study for the last few years has been researching the origins and history of the christian bible.  I have read literally scores of books, some of them real tomes, and every published paper I could get my hands on, from every conceivable source.  This is a closed mind?

My investigations have reached two conclusions:

1.  The foundations of christianity are crumbling before the onslaught of modern biblical scholarship, and,

2.  The foundations of evolution, and science in general are getting stronger.

I am not going to debate this with you, until and unless you do some of your OWN research!  I have been to all your web sites, and I have seen all of the cookbook answers.  I have read all of your apoligist authors, and heard all of the lines.

Most of us here are here because we have reached our conclusions seperatly and sometimes for different reasons.  There is no “answersingenesis” for us, only places like this where we can swap views to better understand each other.

Close-minded, I dont think so.

Pete

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Posted: 12 January 2005 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“Jesus Freak”]It’s very strange, I seem - based on your responses - to be the one whose mind is closed. I only ask that you consider the possibility that yours may be.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

I agree the reaction was a bit on the strong side, but you pretty clearly don’t want to engage in genuine discussion—you want to evangelize. I understand that’s not intended as on offense at all, but it’s patronizing and, quite frankly, your method is insulting to this target audience’s intelligence.

It’s clear that you give faith and the tenets of your chosen religion a “free pass” on scrutiny, in turn making what you say pretty meaningless to those of us who aren’t so prone to compromise our intellectual responsibilities. I strongly suspect just about everyone on this forum is familiar with the articles of faith you’re preaching. Only presumption allows you to think that somehow, this time we hear “The Message(tm)” we won’t see it as nonsense (because we don’t give it a free pass but rather treat it as we do all ideas, more or less).

That may sound like another harsh reply to you, but I hope if it does you understand why (it’s not meant personally at all—many believers have a hard time distinguishing criticism of their beliefs from a personal attack). I’m dealing with the ideas, and the ones you’re presenting don’t do so well when equitable standards of reason are applied (rather than giving them the standard free pass—i.e. protecting them from genuine analysis).

Realize that the ideas you present in here will be dealt with as any other. They won’t be put into a separate category so a different standard of analysis that will allow them to pass muster can be applied. If you present articles of faith in a way that makes it clear you’ve done this yourself, it’s going to be interpreted as very offensive—you’ve failed to take even the most basic level of responsibility to screen the ideas you’re promoting (as the basis of how we understand the world, no less). In fact your basic suggestion is that we remove the screen as you have (but of course only for the religious franchise you’re advertising). That’s pretty radically irresponsible—understandably, those who recognize this irresponsibility feel/are insulted.

So that’s what’s going on here. But you’re right—some responses were a bit on the strong side. Many of us are rather tired of being constanty patronized by evangelists (and American voters) in a highly offensive manner, so we can be a bit quick to turn and snap.

Byron

[ Edited: 12 January 2005 02:57 AM by ]
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Posted: 12 January 2005 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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If you would like to discuss why you Feel what you Feel, I will do that with you.  I have a very strong faith in humanity.

If you want to talk about a moral compass for society, I will do that with you too, we can discuss each one of the 10 commandments and the abbrievated version Jesus emphasized in the NT.

But yes your post wasn’t about reason, it was about Feelings.

Reason tells me if almost every religion developed similar moral codes, throughout history, then most likely morality is a by-product of social instincts and self-awareness.

I will tell you that on a feeling level, I have some serious problems with Christianity.

Leave out the history, the bible scholars, all of that, and let’s talk about the core.

Christianity teaches:

1. Adam and Eve sinned by eating the from the Tree of Knowledge

2. Christ died as a blood sacrafice to redeem those that believed in him from that sin.

3. Since we are all born of man, we are all sinners, since we are produced by sex, and need Grace to be saved.

4. Being Saved means that we will either get caught up in the Rapture, before the Tribulations, or we will be resurrected in Christ and join in the New Heaven and Earth that gets created after this one is destroyed.

5. Not being saved means you will be resurrected to Judgement day, and if your name isnt in the book of life, you will die for real!!

Now, where is your moral compass in this?  It is all about behaving in this life for a personal reward in the next?  It is all about YOU?

I think even Christ himself had a better vision of man than this teaching.

PS. I know different christian demoniations have different views.

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Posted: 12 January 2005 03:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Well said Pete and Byron - thoughtful, respectful critiques of Freak’s plaintiff cry to be heard.

If I could add my two cents worth by way of feedback, and dare I say it, advice to Mr. Freak. I would very much welcome a religious contributor to this forum who is prepared to debate religion and faith on a rational, logical level. I have spent my life trying to find someone with whom to have this debate, but I have never found a religious person who is capable of staying within the boundaries of rational, logical thought and discussion.

What this means in practice is very simple. You have to be able to make a case for what you believe in without falling into the usual rhetorical traps of the religious mind. Specifically:

1. You are not allowed to say that God exists simply because science has not yet proven every conceivable fact about the nature of the universe. Science will probably never get to this point, because every discovery will lead to more questions. This is not a logical proof of the existence of God. If you don’t understand why not, then you really do have issues. You cannot apply one standard of proof to science and then completely ignore that standard to make your own case. Science may not have all the answers, but no answer is better than a wrong answer.

2. You are not allowed to use self-referential arguments. Saying that god exists because Jesus says so just doesn’t wash with rational people. There needs to be independent evidence or at a minimum a rational argument for why god’s existence is likely.

3. You are not allowed to say that you just know ‘in your heart’ that God exists. I would argue that your perception of god is a neurological phenomenon. So that fact that you just ‘know’ it to be true simply confirms to me that you are acting under the influence of this pervasive phenomenon. I might say that I just ‘know’ that the Mets are going to win the World Series, and I might believe that to the core of my being, but it doesn’t make it a true fact.

4. Most importantly, you are not allowed to quote scripture to help your argument. Surely you understand that non-religious people switch off as soon as the see the scripture quote coming up? If we don’t believe in god in the first place, we are unlikely to be persuaded by some ancient text written under the mistaken belief that he exists. So, do youself a favour - leave out the scripture.

My dear Freak, if you can adhere to these simple rhetorical rules, then I for one welcome your contribution with open arms and an open mind. If you start getting all religious on me, then I will switch off, because you are not respecting the ground rules of rhetorical engagement. If you want a serious, searching debate that may challenge your most dearly-held belief, and you can play by the rules, then you have come to the right place.

Bring it on…

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Posted: 12 January 2005 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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(excellent post, ScepticX)

Dear Mr. Freak,

In the following, please utilize the following range of meaning for the term “objective.”

a)Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices: an objective critic. See Synonyms at fair.

b)Based on observable phenomena; presented factually: an objective appraisal.  Courtesy Dictionary.com


Yes, Mr. Freak,  We apologize for offending you.  Please disregard the emotions and respond to the substance. 

For instance, would you please address the objections raised against your post.  Specifically, exactly how do you objectively determine your faith claim is true?  How do you objectively assess whether any Biblical character (i.e. Moses, or Elijah, or Isaiah, or Paul, etc.) REALLY had an encounter with God?  How do you objectively solve the question of inspiration?  What part of your text is legitimately and precisely as God intended, and which parts are socially constructed versions of what the people of that time thought God was like or would have wanted?  Beyond that, how do you objectively arrive at a judgment that rules out the possibility if not the probability that the texts in question have not simply emerged over the past two millennia in some sort of neutral market of ideas, but have rather been exalted by forces at work within the culture, and are accordingly not disinterested writings? 

Again, how do you objectively judge when to interpret your text literally and when to seek prayerful guidance, etc.  It’s not always evident from the text, you know, as evidenced by the multiplicity of interpretations within your ranks.  For example, I would not recognize many of the so-called messianic prophecies unless someone pointed them out to me. 

Finally, how do you objectively judge that the Muslim’s “feeling” about Allah is incorrect compared to your “feeling” about Y’shuah? 

I would suggest that you don’t resolve these and many other faith issues in an objective matter; in fact, Christianity is all about subjectivity: it is about a personal encounter with a risen Savior, and a personal regeneration.  If you have this experience, no amount of reason will convince you that you are not experiencing it, and I cannot assail your position.  As ScepticX alluded to above, we must, however, note that other religions also appeal to a subjective experience, and in a spirit of fairness allow them same latitude as you expect the Christian claim deserves.  And since you and I cannot rule out the possibility of delusion for the Muslim or the Christian, we must back off our absolute truth claims—we must admit our fallibility and strive to bring more harmony to the world rather than division, as religion perpetually does; a division that is dishonestly maintained once you realize the limits to your ability to claim absolute truth.  If you are concerned with bearing true witness, you may say “I believe,” or “In my experience,” or “I really think this is true,” but you should not be so audacious and irresponsible as to say “it IS.” 

Once you leave the realm of subjectivity, you will undoubtedly wish to examine the claims of other faiths with a skeptical and rational methodology, which is fine, but please note that you leave faith when it suits you, employ reason, then cry foul when the same is done to your claims.  In short, you want it both ways.  This is known as Special Pleading, and is a dishonest and irresponsible posture in today’s global village (and also un-Christian, I’d warrant).

Mr. Freak, I hope this response finds you in good spirits and you understand that our objections to your faith claims are largely not personal.  I hope that you see that we are not merely obstinate.  I hope you seek to understand our desire to play fair and end the privileging of texts and institutions.

[ Edited: 17 January 2005 10:54 AM by ]
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Posted: 12 January 2005 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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hampsteadpete

Most of us here are here because we have reached our conclusions separately and sometimes for different reasons.

SkepticX

Many of us are rather tired of being constantly patronized by evangelists

Iisbliss

Reason tells me if almost every religion developed similar moral codes, throughout history, then most likely morality is a by-product of social instincts and self-awareness.

Nietzsche

adhere to these simple rhetorical rules

child

you will undoubtedly wish to examine the claims of other faiths with a skeptical and rational methodology

Otherwise we would not even bother

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Posted: 12 January 2005 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“Jesus Freak”]
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

How can you seriously quote that bit from the bible? How can you say, “do not depend on your own understanding,” when understanding is the fundmental aim of reasoning and rational thought?  If you get rid of the understanding, what have you got?  To “trust in the Lord with all your heart,” is just another way of declaring that blind faith is enough to justify your claims to knowledge.  That is frightening!  No wonder you can say things like (in your previous post), “God is love” - “God is truth” - “God is peace” - “God is pure” - “God is light” - you can say all of these meaningless phrases because when asked to tell us what you actually understand them to mean - the fact is that you don’t know what they mean.  And what’s worse, according to your epistemology, you don’t need to know.  But that, Jesus Freak, is the great problem, your ways of reasoning are without any substance or logic.  As SkepticX put it so well, “your method is insulting to our intelligence” - and I might add, to your’s as well.

Can you imagine where we’d be if Galileo did not depend on his understanding but put his trust in God?  We’d still believe that the sun revolved around the earth!  Can you imagine if the understanding gained from reason did not play a role in human affairs - we’d still believe in a flat earth, we wouldn’t have developed any proper medicine, science, technology, etc..  Why we’d probably still be stuck in the darkness of the Middle Ages some 1500 years ago, burning the knowledge of the Greeks and the Egyptians!

I realize that you FEEL a sort of euphoria when you blindly put your trust in God, but that is a euphoria that is pathological.  Archimedes had a euphoria, but it was a product of understanding. Galileo had a euphoria, but it was a product of understanding.  Darwin had a euphoria, but it was a product of understanding.  To me, those are the real euphorias that lift the human species out of ignorance!  Your euphoric feeling comes from deliberately wallowing in ignorance and like Socrates said about a pig being happy lying in the mud, that kind of happiness doesn’t compare to the kind one gets from using reason to gain the wisdom of understanding.

One thing you did provoke on this second effort at attempted debate(?) is some amazingly well thought out responses from those you have engaged in response. Thanks for that Jesus Freak - you are just too utterly freaky!

Bob

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Posted: 12 January 2005 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“Jesus Freak”]
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

How can you seriously quote that bit from the bible? How can you say, “do not depend on your own understanding,” when understanding is the fundmental aim of reasoning and rational thought?  If you get rid of the understanding, what have you got?  To “trust in the Lord with all your heart,” is just another way of declaring that blind faith is enough to justify your claims to knowledge.  That is frightening!  No wonder you can say things like (in your previous post), “God is love” - “God is truth” - “God is peace” - “God is pure” - “God is light” - you can say all of these meaningless phrases because when asked to tell us what you actually understand them to mean - the fact is that you don’t know what they mean.  And what’s worse, according to your epistemology, you don’t need to know.  But that, Jesus Freak, is the great problem, your ways of reasoning are without any substance or logic.  As SkepticX put it so well, “your method is insulting to our intelligence” - and I might add, to your’s as well.

Can you imagine where we’d be if Galileo did not depend on his understanding but put his trust in God?  We’d still believe that the sun revolved around the earth!  Can you imagine if the understanding gained from reason did not play a role in human affairs - we’d still believe in a flat earth, we wouldn’t have developed any proper medicine, science, technology, etc..  Why we’d probably still be stuck in the darkness of the Middle Ages some 1500 years ago, burning the knowledge of the Greeks and the Egyptians!

I realize that you FEEL a sort of euphoria when you blindly put your trust in God, but that is a euphoria that is pathological.  Archimedes had a euphoria, but it was a product of understanding. Galileo had a euphoria, but it was a product of understanding.  Darwin had a euphoria, but it was a product of understanding.  To me, those are the real euphorias that lift the human species out of ignorance!  Your euphoric feeling comes from deliberately wallowing in ignorance and like Socrates said about a pig being happy lying in the mud, that kind of happiness doesn’t compare to the kind one gets from using reason to gain the wisdom of understanding.

One thing you did provoke on this second effort at attempted debate(?) is some amazingly well thought out responses from those you have engaged in response. Thanks for that Jesus Freak - you are just too utterly freaky!

Bob

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Posted: 17 January 2005 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Nietzsche said:

There needs to be independent evidence or at a minimum a rational argument for why god’s existence is likely.

3. You are not allowed to say that you just know ‘in your heart’ that God exists. I would argue that your perception of god is a neurological phenomenon. So that fact that you just ‘know’ it to be true simply confirms to me that you are acting under the influence of this pervasive phenomenon. I might say that I just ‘know’ that the Mets are going to win the World Series, and I might believe that to the core of my being, but it doesn’t make it a true fact.


I would suggest that this is an over-simplification of the issue. First of all, there are equally irrational arguements for the existence and non-existence of gods. The arguement that gods do not exist also can not be proven. The atheist arguement seems also rooted in the thought that the heart (or brain) indicates that gods do not exist - the same rational that is used to support the existence.
The view that gods are benevolent characters who intervene in our daily lives seems irrational in view of history and world events. The power of the human phyche to discover truth is not to be underestimated and the power of the human intellect is not to be overestimated. Life would seem to be a quest for truth and understanding. When you think (your intellect)  that you have discovered all the answers,  is when you are in error.

Wotansson

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Posted: 17 January 2005 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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That “eureka” moment when supposition turns to truth in the eyes of the seeker. We all look for shelter in the shade of an answer.

If we judge those who think differently then we risk ignorance ourselves. My concern with religious thought is not with the ideas they accept as true but the reason that the ideas are accepted as true.

A hypnotist has no trouble at all convincing a willing participant but will have no luck hypnotizing someone against their will. People who have a strong motivation for belief (of any kind) will have a very difficult time being subjective. Ask yourself what you believe to be true then ask yourself what it would take to change your mind.

People have limitations. It is quite possible that majority mankind is not yet ready to expose itself to the full light of truth.

I apologize if my thoughts are not clear.

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Posted: 18 January 2005 02:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“Wotansson”]I would suggest that this is an over-simplification of the issue. First of all, there are equally irrational arguements for the existence and non-existence of gods. The arguement that gods do not exist also can not be proven. The atheist arguement seems also rooted in the thought that the heart (or brain) indicates that gods do not exist - the same rational that is used to support the existence.

While I technically agree, it’s worth noting that in virtually all other cases (the Boogey Man, Santa, etc) we accept the lack of evidence as sufficient for the conclusion that they don’t exist. For some reason people apply a different standard to gods (I make the same, purely technical reservation, personally).

Also, it’s obvious the lack of disproof is insufficient motivation (much less justification) for belief in other cases (non-religious beliefs). People don’t find it reasonable to believe extraordinary things in general if they haven’t been disproven. Again, religion/faith is given a special free pass.

Byron

[ Edited: 18 January 2005 04:03 AM by ]
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Posted: 18 January 2005 03:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Wotansson,

Under the clever disguise of a reasoned argument, you make a few entirely irrational comments. Atheists do not simply believe ‘in their hearts’ that god does not exist and it is unfair of you to paint them with the same faith-based brush that we reserve for our evangelical friends. Atheists (or more accurately, people who do not believe in god) simply say that since there is no proof of god’s existence, we must not run our lives (and of course other peoples’ lives) based on the faith -based assumption that he does exist. Rather keep an open mind on the topic.

Voltaire said ’ I love the man who seeks the truth, but I hate the man who claims to have found it’. Precisely my point, more elegantly put.

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Posted: 18 January 2005 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“Paul Hindle”]That “eureka” moment when supposition turns to truth in the eyes of the seeker. We all look for shelter in the shade of an answer.

If we judge those who think differently then we risk ignorance ourselves. My concern with religious thought is not with the ideas they accept as true but the reason that the ideas are accepted as true.

Right on brother! I love you!

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Posted: 23 January 2005 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Nietzsche said:

Wotansson,

Under the clever disguise of a reasoned argument, you make a few entirely irrational comments. Atheists do not simply believe ‘in their hearts’ that god does not exist and it is unfair of you to paint them with the same faith-based brush that we reserve for our evangelical friends. Atheists (or more accurately, people who do not believe in god) simply say that since there is no proof of god’s existence, we must not run our lives (and of course other peoples’ lives) based on the faith -based assumption that he does exist. Rather keep an open mind on the topic.

Voltaire said ’ I love the man who seeks the truth, but I hate the man who claims to have found it’. Precisely my point, more elegantly put.

Dear Friederich
I made no attempt at a cleaver disguise and my mind is fully open on the topic. I find myself equally offended by the evangilistic atheist who states that you cannot prove it as I am by the theist, who says the same.  It is not required that either run their lives and interfere with lives of others based on these conclusions - I don’t but I am neither. The difficult I have with the agressive atheist is that he assumes his intellect is the supreme authority which in turn assumes that has all the answers - exactly what Voltaire distains. Voltaire also said: “Civilzation will not achieve it’s true perfection untill the last brick, from the last church, fall on the last priest”
Do you subscribe to this also? Personally I like it but it implies some level of violence to me.

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Posted: 25 January 2005 12:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Wotansson,

I like your Voltaire quote. I guess he meant the brick to fall in the metaphorical sense, so I can therefore support it. Nothing wrong with a bit of metaphorical violence every now and then.

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