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Old 03-10-2007, 06:04 PM   #76
Avptallarita
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Good luck with Kant, Nicato. I've been reading the critique recently and while I had to stop after 200 pages (for matters of time, not of patience) I too felt that it outruled rather than encouraged theological conclusions (i.e. conclusions transcending reason). Very difficult, very rewarding text. (if the beginning seems tame, wait till you get beyond the transcendental aesthetic).
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Old 03-11-2007, 01:33 PM   #77
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Nic, a couple pages back I linked to some stuff that talks in more depth about Kant's philosophy from a theistic perspective. No, Kant wasn't opposing the process of logic. But, Kant was a professed theist. He believed like I do that God's existence is unprovable through the use of pure reason, but 'knowable' through interpretive understanding of reality.


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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
The simple fact is that no one can know anything which they cannot, in some way, perceive.
Of course. But I've repeatedly repeated that my statement of faith isn't a naturalistic fact claim. I don't have a problem with any atheist stating the obvious: that God's existence is totally unprovable. Not too many people of faith, aside from a very vocal minority of fundamentalists, would dispute that claim. However, what I have a problem with is taking it a step further and saying that faith and belief in God is in it itself absurd, superstitious, etc. Faith is of course believing naturalistically unknowable things. But that doesn't mean that faith itself is without logical foundation. We base our faith on what we know, and what we don't and can't know.

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If we are complete products of the natural world, as the theory of evolution states, then it follows that we are subjected to all laws which govern said natural world. That we have the capacity to interpret our world as we please is beside the point, as our interpretations do not make it necessarily so.
The theory of evolution does not prove that we are "complete" products of the natural world, nor does it give any insight into what our true origins may be, or how the "natural" world came into being in the first place.

You seem to hold the belief, and I could be wrong here, that all that exists should be completely knowable through naturalistic observation. In other words, nothing can exists outside of our existential bubble and science will ultimately be able to explain everything. You scoff at the notion of transcendence, because you assume that science can ultimately figure it out. That may be true, but you fail to acknowledge that your own naturalistic perspective is merely interpretive and assumed.

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But you're missing my point, which is that "logical inference" by itself is only slightly more useful than thoughts made at random.
The question here is what do we base our faith on, and where do we separate faith from fact claims. Faith is not a fact claim, but it's based on interpretations of known facts, as well as what we do not and cannot know.

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If anything, Mike, that is a common thread. I've stated many times that your god may or may not exist, and by doing so yielding my claim to absolution.
If neither of us are making claims of absolution, what's the problem?

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The difference is that I have higher standards for belief.
No you don't. You just believe that anything that exists must be ultimately material and observable. You've made an assumption about the limitations of naturalism. If you can't objectively know something, you just say, "We don't know yet" -- assuming that it *can* be known, even if such an assumption flies in the face of all known laws of the universe.


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We both look at what caused the big bang, I chose to say "I don't know" and you say "God did it!" Sometimes, it's the very fact of choosing to interpret where the problem lies. There is little if any value in interpretation which can't produce justifiably unique ideas.
No, I choose to say, "I don't know how it happened, but I based on what I can know, I believe that there are signs of creation, purpose and meaning in our existence. Thus I believe in God. I don't claim to know what God is, how God created the universe, or any of that... but I can see the limitations of my material understanding and believe there is something beyond this world."

"Justifiably unique" is a non sequitor. It's an arbitrary concept defined by you alone, based purely upon your assumptions on the limitations (or lack thereof) of naturalism.

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Wrong. Science can exist without theology. But modern theology needs science like a fiend needs a fix.
No, you're wrong. The process of scientific inquiry does not need theology, but its implications sure do. If they didn't, folks like Dawkins wouldn't be writing books about them.

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Further, science, unlike theology, does not need to change it's fundamental claims every time there is a grand theological breakthrough.
Nor does theology. The fundamental concepts that run through all religions are the same now as they were thousands of years ago.

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Yeah, my point was that your understanding of your god exists only because your understanding of natural world, particularly the genuine mysteries concerning the birth of our universe. If those mysteries are ever found to have natural causes, then your god will be "that which caused that which caused."
You've often stated that "God is the perpetual Z", but that's not true. The question is, what would be required to find that the universe had a naturalistic cause? The answer is that we would have to completely rewrite the laws of physics. But more on that in a minute.

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But in the meanwhile, wouldn't it be prudent to have no opinion on the matter?
Faith is not a fact claim about the precise process by which we came into existence, it's belief in purpose and meaning in our world that lies beyond the material self.

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If the soul existed independent from the body, then it should not matter if you fell or your head because you couldn't cause psychical damage to an immaterial entity. Yet modern neurology has demonstrated brain damage can result in a person becoming fundamentally different in their behavior.
Well duh. But that doesn't change the concept of the soul. Again, you are not the nervous system. You are the user. The nervous system may become unusable, but you are still you. Your spirit remains without an worldly avatar. This seemingly amazing information you're presenting isn't anything spectacular. When you keel over dead, you can't use your nervous system. We can see that when someone dies, they stop acting like they used to. Soul is belief that the self transcends its material vessel, and the advances in cognitive neurology haven't done anything to undermine that concept.

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Again, with the circular argument. You're just arbitrary stating that their has to be a transcendent when that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.
I'm not stating it arbitrarily. I'm stating it based on the known laws of physics. You're basically telling me that we may someday totally rewrite the laws of physics and find that the universe can indeed be infinite, self-causing, and self-perpetuating -- things that are all completely at odds with our current knowledge. Remember that naturalism is by definition that which is within our universe. So if we found a naturalistic cause, we would be showing that the universe is indeed self-causing. If it is self-causing, it is also infinite. If it is infinite, it is self-perpetuating. Finding a naturalistic origin to the universe means demonstrating that the universe is infinitely perpetuated by its own self-contained laws. All of these things are completely impossible based upon our modern understanding of physics. In other words, if you don't believe in transcendent reality, you have to believe in things that completely contradict everything we know about the universe.

So, yes, if the laws of science are rewritten, Einstein's work is tossed out the window and our universe is indeed shown to be capable of things that physicists now believe are impossible, then yeah belief in God will become totally meaningless and unnecessary. Until that happens though, your belief in unlimited bounds of naturalism will continue to be every bit as faith-based as my belief in God.
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Old 03-18-2007, 05:45 PM   #78
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
Of course. But I've repeatedly repeated that my statement of faith isn't a naturalistic fact claim.
But you have said, and continue to say, that your claim is "reasonable." Well, if so, then it follows that yours are claims based upon reason and can be scrutinized as such. (More on that below.)

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However, what I have a problem with is taking it a step further and saying that faith and belief in God is in it itself absurd, superstitious, etc. Faith is of course believing materialistically unknowable things. But that doesn't mean that faith itself is without logical foundation. We base our faith on what we know, and what we don't and can't know.
(Continued from above.)

You want it both ways. If you based you beliefs on things unknowable or unproven then you are by definition being superstitious. There are not two ways about it, either something is logical or it is illogical. There is no middle ground.

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I don't have a problem with any atheist stating the obvious: that God's existence is totally unprovable. Not too many people of faith, aside from a very vocal minority of fundamentalists, would dispute that claim.
See, that's the problem with you new-aged liberal theist types, y'all are always playing down the reality of fundamentalism. The US is a very religious country, and no small chunk of our country believe that God is real simply because the Bible says so (sadly, the only minority relevant to this discussion is the one which believes that evolution was a completely natural process). Understand that books like The Purpose Driven Life and the Left Behind series have sold tens of millions of copies and complete nutjobs like Pat Robertson have followers by the millions.

I know you still have a slight affection (if not nostalgia) for religion, but please do not make the mistake of marginalizing the threat of fundamentalism. The rise of mega-churches and fundamentalist universities show no indication of the "not too many people of faith" you speak of.

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The theory of evolution does not prove that we are "complete" products of the natural world...
Even by your worldview, I don't see the opposition to my saying we are complete products of the natural world. Even if it was an intelligent designer which gave birth to said natural world, there is pretty much no denying that we exist only because of a long, if aimless, sequence of events which occurred inside of it.

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...nor does it give any insight into what our true origins may be...
But it did give us the implication of what the origins may not be (as you yourself will affirm later in the post with your Dawkins remark). The theory of evolution by natural selection was huge precisely because it refuted the long-standing belief that "god did it." It made it possible for even the most lasting ponders not to have a theological basis. Darwin himself realized the implications of this.

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...or how the "natural" world came into being in the first place.
I didn't say it did.

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You seem to hold the belief, and I could be wrong here, that all that exists should be completely knowable through naturalistic observation. In other words, nothing can exists outside of our existential bubble and science will ultimately be able to explain everything. You scoff at the notion of transcendence, because you assume that science can ultimately figure it out. That may be true, but you fail to acknowledge that your own naturalistic perspective is merely interpretive and assumed.
Once again, that is not my belief, rather a straw-man which you continue to erect for whatever reason. I do not believe that all that exists "should" be completely knowable or even partly knowable, but I do believe that unknowable things are not worth defending or believing, and certainly make for unproductive discussion. I do not scoff at the idea of transcendence, rather your adoption of a transcendence to explain what you don't (or indeed can't) know. It is, in my opinion, intellectual sloppiness.

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The question here is what do we base our faith on, and where do we separate faith from fact claims. Faith is not a fact claim, but it's based on interpretations of known facts, as well as what we do not and cannot know.
Again, there does exist a scale to measure your "interpretations" so you're continued appeal to that effect is irrelevant. All interpretations are not created equal. Yours, in particular, are gratuitous at best. Mine are based upon reason and logic and are therefore better--yes, better--than yours. This would be true if we were talking about anything else, yet here you demand exception only to put a superficial mask on otherwise unreasonable claims. It is not simply a matter of "you have your interpretation and I have mine." I'm sorry, but it's not. Rather a matter of whose interpretation is more reasonable (or even reasonable it all).

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If neither of us are making claims of absolution, what's the problem?
The problem is that you played the dreaded "dogma" card, as your kind often do.

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No you don't. You just believe that anything that exists must be ultimately material and observable. You've made an assumption about the limitations of naturalism. If you can't objectively know something, you just say, "We don't know yet" -- assuming that it *can* be known, even if such an assumption flies in the face of all known laws of the universe.
Yes, Mike, and that does nothing to refute my claim that I have a higher standard of belief. You yourself agreed that nothing can be known which cannot be perceived. Thus, if it ain't observable, it ain't knowable; and if it ain't knowable, then I would consider my reluctance to believe a virtue rather than a vice.
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Old 03-18-2007, 05:58 PM   #79
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

[CONTINUED FROM ABOVE]

I'm just sorry, buddy, but we are just as bound to the "limitations" of the natural world as anything else, given the fact that we are complete products of it. It's probably all any of can ever know, so this continued appeal to it's "limitations" is irrelevant.

Finally, yes, I do say "I don't know" (sans the "yet") because it's an honest answer. I don't know--and neither do you. You have people who are way smarter than you or I working day and night on the problem and they don't know. Yet you and your kind continue to bypass (perhaps even insult) the process which the astrophysicists take and use superficial rhetoric and circular arguments to posit beings which need not be posited. Say what you will, but yours is a process which is lazy by comparison.

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No, I choose to say, "I don't know how it happened, but I based on what I can know, I believe that there are signs of creation, purpose and meaning in our existence. Thus I believe in God. I don't claim to know what God is, how God created the universe, or any of that... but I can see the limitations of my material understanding and believe there is something beyond this world."
Or in otherwords, you're saying "God did it." Nothing was taken out of context here. That is what you are saying.

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"Justifiably unique" is a non sequitor. It's an arbitrary concept defined by you alone, based purely upon your assumptions on the limitations (or lack thereof) of naturalism.
Though the term itself is unique to me, it is justifiable. It certainly isn't a non sequitor or arbitrary. It is just another way of saying yours is a argument which has problems with infinite regression and equal plausibility. And it does.

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No, you're wrong. The process of scientific inquiry does not need theology, but its implications sure do. If they didn't, folks like Dawkins wouldn't be writing books about them.
Man, have you even read The God Delusion?

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Nor does theology. The fundamental concepts that run through all religions are the same now as they were thousands of years ago.
It's clear that since The Enlightenment (and consequence Age of Science) and the rise of secular governments that nearly every supplemental aspect (and some fundamental claims) of modern theology has changed. And those which have not (with respect to the theory of evolution), you or I would call it unfortunate. Nevertheless, it is evident that science has produced many conflicts which have directly come in conflict with theology--and here is the kicker, science was always right.

Again, this is what you newfangled liberal types do. Just pretend that your vague conception of god wasn't essentially a hijacked albeit more modern version of a god that was once was and still is for most people; a god which actively actively kept tabs or your earthly affairs, listened to prayers, and rewarded goodness in the hereafter--that is the god in which historic Westerners believed. They also believed, as a fundamental concept, that they were created by god in his image. The theory of Evolution flat refuted that claim, and that's why up to this day there are folks who still attack it, that's why in our religious country, far too many people do not believe in the theory it all. Creationism is a fundamental concept of Christianity and science has directly spat in it's face.

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Faith is not a fact claim about the precise process by which we came into existence, it's belief in purpose and meaning in our world that lies beyond the material self.
However you (re)define faith, it's irrelevant. The question of whether not a belief is justifiable is the question at hand, and the position of faith alone does not a justifiable belief make.

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Well duh. But that doesn't change the concept of the soul. Again, you are not the nervous system. You are the user. The nervous system may become unusable, but you are still you. Your spirit remains without an worldly avatar. This seemingly amazing information you're presenting isn't anything spectacular. When you keel over dead, you can't use your nervous system. We can see that when someone dies, they stop acting like they used to. Soul is belief that the self transcends its material vessel, and the advances in cognitive neurology haven't done anything to undermine that concept.
Mike, you have to realize that whatever caused you to say "duh" is part of the problem. The soul which you define is only obvious because of the age which we live. The traditional soul, like the traditional god, was a lot less metaphorical and a lot more material than any one would believe today. Again, only because of the rise of science do conceptions of god and the soul become smaller and more distant.

Further, your self that transcends self is on it's face absurd. You are the very much space you occupy. (Of course, you could be speaking metaphorically, in which case, I rest my case.)

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So if we found a naturalistic cause, we would be showing that the universe is indeed self-causing. If it is self-causing, it is also infinite. If it is infinite, it is self-perpetuating.
You propose no solution to this fallacy because your god is also self-causing, infinite, and self-perpetuating. The only difference is that you've rhterorically exempted it from it because "hey, man, it's God." Now you know why they call your argument circular.

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Until that happens though, your belief in unlimited bounds of naturalism will continue to be every bit as faith-based as my belief in God.
No. My belief (not in the "unlimited bounds of naturalism" as I've say many, many times before) is better--yes, better--than yours because I base mine on evidence, not simply faith. Better.
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Old 03-27-2007, 04:46 AM   #80
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Author Sam Harris and Blogger Andrew Sullivan have a debate about faith here. Sullivan uses many of the arguments and rationale that Mike used; Harris uses many of the arguments and rationale that I use--though both are substantially more eloquent, perhaps due to the format.

Read the reader comments too.
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Old 03-27-2007, 11:12 AM   #81
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
There are not two ways about it, either something is logical or it is illogical. There is no middle ground.
Indeed. And faith is quite logical, if you actually accept what we know about the universe.

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See, that's the problem with you new-aged liberal theist types, y'all are always playing down the reality of fundamentalism.
You're just exaggerating the impact of fundamentalism to create a straw man. You're even stretching the definition of fundamentalism to include most things that you just don't like about religion, even if they have nothing to do with fundamentalism. Faith is big, evangelicalism is big, and in America there are plenty of fundamentalists who think science is a secular religion. But they are not in the majority even in this country, much less the world.


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Even if it was an intelligent designer which gave birth to said natural world, there is pretty much no denying that we exist only because of a long, if aimless, sequence of events which occurred inside of it.
I can agree with that, save for the "aimless" part.

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Once again, that is not my belief, rather a straw-man which you continue to erect for whatever reason.
Okay, stop right there. This is needless hostility. I explicitly stated "I could be wrong" and clarified that I was explaining my understanding of your position. There is no straw man here.

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I do not believe that all that exists "should" be completely knowable or even partly knowable, but I do believe that unknowable things are not worth defending or believing, and certainly make for unproductive discussion. I do not scoff at the idea of transcendence, rather your adoption of a transcendence to explain what you don't (or indeed can't) know. It is, in my opinion, intellectual sloppiness.
In that case, I don't think I really mischaracterized your position. You maintain that there could be transcendent things, but unless you can quantify them according to natural law within your universe (in which case they would cease to be transcendent), for all intents and purposes it might as well not exist.

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All interpretations are not created equal. Yours, in particular, are gratuitous at best. Mine are based upon reason and logic and are therefore better--yes, better--than yours.
Yours are based upon a blind assumption that naturalism is the apogee of human knowledge and existence, and that naturalistic claims are the only valid means of understanding the meaning and purpose in our existence. Your argument only works within its own pre-determined boundaries, and its circularity is painfully obvious.

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The problem is that you played the dreaded "dogma" card, as your kind often do.
Your statement did absolutely nothing to address my question. You're simply trying to avoid acknowledging the clear circular limitations of your own claims.

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Yes, Mike, and that does nothing to refute my claim that I have a higher standard of belief.
You have no standard of belief. The only thing that you would accept as a "refutation" of your "claim" would have to conform to its own assumptions, making this "claim" both circular and absurd.

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It's probably all any of can ever know, so this continued appeal to it's "limitations" is irrelevant.
It's not irrelevant, because the limitations of our natural world are self-evident and indeed substantiated by scientific inquiry.

Let's take the tired old atheist argument against the first cause as an example. The atheist says that there didn't have to be a "first cause"; that instead, we exist in a chain of infinite and self-perpetuating causality. That'd be great if not for the fact that it defies the laws of physics as well as the commonly accepted understanding of the origin of the universe.

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Yet you and your kind continue to bypass (perhaps even insult) the process which the astrophysicists take and use superficial rhetoric and circular arguments to posit beings which need not be posited. Say what you will, but yours is a process which is lazy by comparison.
The problem here is that you see faith as a barrier to scientific inquiry, whereas I see them as companions. Where have I suggested that biologists and astro-physicists shouldn't be asking tough questions and diligently working to find answers? At no point have I suggested that scientific inquiry should be usurped by faith. Indeed, my positions of faith are substantiated by scientific inquiry, as I've already explained repeatedly and in detail, and which you have yet to refute.

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Or in otherwords, you're saying "God did it." Nothing was taken out of context here. That is what you are saying.
No, this is a statement of faith based upon our knowledge of the universe, not a naturalistic fact claim. I'm not really sure how many times I need to bash you over the head with that before it sinks in.

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It is just another way of saying yours is a argument which has problems with infinite regression and equal plausibility. And it does.
If it does, you sure as hell haven't demonstrated it.

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Nevertheless, it is evident that science has produced many conflicts which have directly come in conflict with theology--and here is the kicker, science was always right.
Right... so, when religion attempts to replace science, science is right. Wow, that's quite a revelation there Nic. You should write a book.

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They also believed, as a fundamental concept, that they were created by god in his image. The theory of Evolution flat refuted that claim, and that's why up to this day there are folks who still attack it, that's why in our religious country, far too many people do not believe in the theory it all. Creationism is a fundamental concept of Christianity and science has directly spat in it's face.
This is astoundingly ignorant. First of all, science demonstrated that God didn't created the world in six days, not that God didn't create the world. Since most religions hold their creation stories as allegory (including the overwhelming majority of Christianity), there is no conflict here. Science explains how, not why or from what.

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However you (re)define faith, it's irrelevant. The question of whether not a belief is justifiable is the question at hand, and the position of faith alone does not a justifiable belief make.
I agree.

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The soul which you define is only obvious because of the age which we live. The traditional soul, like the traditional god, was a lot less metaphorical and a lot more material than any one would believe today.
As I defined it, which is a definition that will fit virtually any and all religions, the concept of the soul has not fundamentally changed.

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Further, your self that transcends self is on it's face absurd. You are the very much space you occupy. (Of course, you could be speaking metaphorically, in which case, I rest my case.)
You're speaking in purely naturalistic terms and making an assumption that this is the limitation of all existence.

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You propose no solution to this fallacy because your god is also self-causing, infinite, and self-perpetuating. The only difference is that you've rhterorically exempted it from it because "hey, man, it's God." Now you know why they call your argument circular.
You can't seem to swallow the fact that for all your posturing, the very tenant of your argument against First Cause defies the very laws you claim to champion. God need not be bound by the laws of this universe. That's why he's God. Our universe, however, does need to be bound by its own laws. Thus trying to refute my argument by saying that God is infinite too is ridiculous. The point is that our universe cannot be infinite and self-perpetuating. Saying that God would have to be infinite too doesn't magically make our universe infinite. Transcendent = not within this world and not bound by its laws.

Stephen Hawking says something interesting in A Brief History of Time. He says that if we could show that the universe is totally enclosed and infinite, there might be no need for a Creator. He may be right. Only problem is, there hasn't been a theory put forth that makes such a claim without contradicting known physical law. Such a theory would likely also refute the Big Bang, which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community as a fact. So don't give me this nonsense about how your view is more "rational" than mine when you are being selective about when to accept current scientific knowledge.


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No. My belief (not in the "unlimited bounds of naturalism" as I've say many, many times before) is better--yes, better--than yours because I base mine on evidence, not simply faith. Better.
You base your belief on an assumption, nothing more. You even toss out the laws of physics when it suits you. I base my belief on both scientific inquiry and on faith. For me, faith doesn't take the place of scientific inquiry; there is room for both, and indeed scientific inquiry strengthens my faith.

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you new-aged liberal theist types
you newfangled liberal types
as your kind often do
you and your kind
For the record, I enjoy discussing theology. I enjoy having my views challenged. I don't enjoy petty hostility. I'm finding this whole discussion to be thoroughly unpleasant -- not because it's not interesting, not because you don't have some good ideas -- but because these kinds of spiteful, prejudiced, and self-aggrandizing comments only serve to insult and antagonize, and your pettiness and egoism are getting damn old.
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Old 03-27-2007, 07:32 PM   #82
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

You claim that my position is based upon "blind assumptions" and that I "have no standard of belief." I find this too much of a hindrance to our debate to go on, so I hope to clear this matter up once in for all.

First of all, I have made it abundantly clear that I think that an active belief in anything unknowable is unjustifiable. I should go no further than this because that alone proves that I have at least some standard for belief. You may not agree with it, but to say that I lack any is false and you should take it back. Seriously.

Secondly, and hopefully for the last time, there is nothing "blind" about observable premises. I am, however, humored by your terminology, given that I am very much appealing to things which we can, in fact, "see." It is your "supernatural"--which you must admit we have no means of observing in any critical sense--which is infinitely times more "blind" then the natural world we are bound too, seeing as we can't, in any sense, "see" it.


----

With that out of the way, I can't help but to comment on your continued invocation of the limits of the the natural world:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
Yours are based upon a blind assumption that naturalism is the apogee of human knowledge and existence, and that naturalistic claims are the only valid means of understanding the meaning and purpose in our existence. Your argument only works within its own pre-determined boundaries, and its circularity is painfully obvious.
Your particularly use of the "boundaries" of the natural world is misleading since you ultimately cannot (and perhaps in principle are unable to) demonstrate that there is anything beyond its "city limits." Even going back to the big bang does nothing to positively (key word) affirm this. (And if it does, one has to wonder what one means by "anything" in a point where our understanding of space and time might not apply.)

As to my alleged question begging, I chuckle. There is, of course, nothing remotely circular about an argument which assumes as its premise that the world we are living in now--the natural world--is the only world worth basing a premise on. Surely it would seem silly for me to seriously consider the Nosgothic Realm of Soul Revear or the universe of Harry Potter.

It isn't enough for you to simply say that there are "limitations" to the natural world and therefore we should critically consider other worlds, since its limitations ultimately say nothing as to it's singularity or plurality. You could solve it in an instance, though, by demonstrating what exactly I am missing before appealing to it. But you, of course, cannot present any positive evidence for a supernatural, can you? (The answer is no.) Well, lucky for you, that I am more than willing to concede that your lack of positive evidence ultimately says nothing as to the objective existence of a supernatural. I just wish you would concede that your appealing to the so-called "boundaries" of the natural world does not, by itself, mean there is anything else worth considering, lest we consider the Nosgothic Realm (equal plausibility).


---

To sum it up:

(A) My premise of a fully natural world (and only a natural world) may ultimately turn out to be false, but it is in no sense of the word "blind." If anything, it is the most evident philosophy available. [1] Further, I submit that your "supernatural" is the real blind argument, given the fact that it is in no way observable.

(B) It isn't enough, for the purposes of this debate, to assert that there are limitations to the natural world. It being finite and all (in time if not space), that fact is patently obvious. But the invocation of a boundary means little, if anything, if you cannot positively demonstrate that there is anything specific on the other side of the fence.

Please address these two points directly because I fear that disparity between what you are arguing against and what is actually is are becoming too great in distance to be reconciled in another point-by-point reply. Where, exactly, is your beef?

[1] Note that to the extent that my premise is not fully exhaustive is addressed by my willingness to concede that it may be false. I am in no sense being dogmatic or fundamentalist in this respect, rather recognizing the intrinsic limitations of knowledge.

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Old 03-29-2007, 12:08 PM   #83
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
You claim that my position is based upon "blind assumptions" and that I "have no standard of belief." I find this too much of a hindrance to our debate to go on, so I hope to clear this matter up once in for all.
It's a question of semantics. You're defining belief in a way that frankly has nothing to do with belief. You do not need to "believe" in anything that is scientifically provable. You don't have to have faith that the chair you're sitting in can hold you up (well... unless you have a really crappy chair ). I'm defining belief as a question of faith. Faith means believing with conviction that which cannot be truly known.

As I've stated before, I have no qualms with stating that God's existence is unprovable. Where I disagree is with the notion that faith is in itself arbitrary and unreasonable, and with the notion that the existence of God -- a being or consciousness that is by definition supernatural -- must be falsifiable according to natural law. The nonsensicality of that idea should be readily apparent.

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First of all, I have made it abundantly clear that I think that an active belief in anything unknowable is unjustifiable.
I know you have. I just think you're wrong.

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I should go no further than this because that alone proves that I have at least some standard for belief. You may not agree with it, but to say that I lack any is false and you should take it back. Seriously.
Again it just goes back to what "belief" actually is. The dictionary defines "belief" thusly:

Confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.

Going by that definition, which I think is safe to say is a pretty ubiquitous definition of the word, you do indeed lack belief.

Quote:
Secondly, and hopefully for the last time, there is nothing "blind" about observable premises.
Of course not. What is "blind" is the assumption that this is the ultimate truth. Although you have frequently insisted that you don't deny the possibility of the supernatural or transcendent, it's clear that naturalism is your ultimate truth simply because you would never acknowledge the existence or logical necessity of the supernatural unless you could quantify these phenomena via natural law. That is what is so clearly circular.

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It is your "supernatural"--which you must admit we have no means of observing in any critical sense--which is infinitely times more "blind" then the natural world we are bound too, seeing as we can't, in any sense, "see" it.
Certainly we can't "see" it. The very idea is absurd. But based on what physicists have discovered about the universe over the last few hundred years, we can infer its existence as a logical necessity. If as Hawking said we can ever prove that the universe is self-contained and infinite, then there would be no moment of creation or "birth" of the universe, thus no need for a creator or a supernatural cause for our existence.

I find it very interesting though that even though scientists have been discussing such concepts for over 100 years and even attempted to quantify them with theories such as the Oscillatory Universe, what we have learned about the universe has not supported such ideas. Indeed our universe is finite, and spacetime began its expansion from a singular point.


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I just wish you would concede that your appealing to the so-called "boundaries" of the natural world does not, by itself, mean there is anything else worth considering, lest we consider the Nosgothic Realm (equal plausibility).
You say "so-called 'boundaries'" as though I'm making it up, when it's an established tenant of modern physics. If the universe is not infinite and cannot perpetuate its existence by its own self-contained laws, then a supernatural cause is not a possibility, but a necessity. Now, perhaps we are, as some string theorists have postured, just one of an infinite number of universes in an infinite multiverse filled with universes that spawn other universes -- though most people would not find that to be much less of a stretch of the imagination than faith in God. There are any number of other possible supernatural causes, and we have no way of knowing what actually caused and constructed our universe since we can only quantitatively measure that which is within our universe...

...Which brings me back to the first point I made. It's this unknowable truth that serves as a foundation for faith, and it's why faith in God is not subject to the scrutiny of the scientific method. Ultimately, we can see that some 15 billion years ago, our universe popped into existence and began "expanding". All matter and energy came out of nothing, as did spacetime itself and all physical laws that have governed the universe in such a way as to allow for our miraculous world's existence. That may not be "proof" that God exists, but for billions of people including myself, it is such a profound thought that we simply cannot fathom that our existence is without intrinsic design, purpose, and meaning. Certainly the notion that such an amazing and complex universe popped into existence merely out of some supernatural "chance" is no less a stretch of the imagination than any belief in God.
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Old 03-29-2007, 02:30 PM   #84
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Sorry for the short reply but you've essentially only made three points, so I'll address them outright and move on.

Your points:

(A) Your god is not demonstrable according to natural law, yet it is necessary and logical.

(B) Belief entails no immediate proof, yet it isn't arbitrary or unreasonable.

(C) I hold to an ultimate truth.

Addressing (A): Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that your god need not be falsifiable by natural law--it still needs to be such from a logical standpoint, since you are claiming it to be logical. So if can't be demonstrated scientifically (despite your use of scientific data to back it up), demonstrate it logically, in the abstract.

Addressing (B): Faith--in and of itself; for the sake of faith; according to your selected definition---is arbitrary. Indeed, one can have faith an anything for any (or no) reason, can they not? (It isn't necessarily unreasonable, just oblivious to reason.)

Addressing (C): It is, of course, important to note that I have left room for the possibility of a supernatural--because if one did, it would become pretty obvious pretty quickly that I do not endorse an "ultimate truth." I simply do not. A supernatural may, in fact exist, I simply lack belief in it (justifiable even by your definition). And please, do note that my lack of belief says nothing as to its ultimate existence. Moving on...

---

I am anxious to get to your argument for your god, but you'll forgive me if I tie up a few loose ends concerning faith at home and aboard, as I really do think that your liberal theistic stance is causing you to deluded yourself.

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You're even stretching the definition of fundamentalism to include most things that you just don't like about religion, even if they have nothing to do with fundamentalism.
Excuse me, Mike, but I am stretching nothing when I include, as evidence of rising fundamentalism, media such as the Left Behind book series and the rise of mega-churches and fundamentalist universities in the United States. You, as a liberal theist, should be just as (if not more) concerned about this phenomena, given that you see it as a bastardization of what it what the purpose of faith supposedly is. It is an undeniably fact that George W. Bush's America has done damage to the wall between church and state, if only for the growing consensus that secularism has "gone too far." You have rising abstinence-only education, a state redefining science, and billions of government money spent on "faith-based initiatives."--these should all send a chills down your spine, yet you marginalize it. Why?

But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Such is the case for a lot of religious liberals, providing cover for the idea of faith all the while oblivious to those who would use it to scheme a theocracy. Fundamentalism may (at the current time) be a minority, but it has the vast majority of the country as its sympathizers.

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This is astoundingly ignorant. First of all, science demonstrated that God didn't created the world in six days, not that God didn't create the world. Since most religions hold their creation stories as allegory (including the overwhelming majority of Christianity), there is no conflict here. Science explains how, not why or from what.
First of all, science has demonstrated a secular theory for the evolution of the Earth itself. I've seen the computer model of it; you should look it up. Your assertion that "science demonstrated that God didn't created the world in six days, not that God didn't create the world" is specious. God simply isn't in the equation it all.

Secondly, where is the evidence that the Bible's account of Creationism was taken as anything but literal truth for most of Western history? Why don't you tell me, Mike, if it was just an allegory all along, what was the secular leading theory of life which most historical Christians believed? Surely no one was punished for heresy for suggesting secular theories.

Finally, you've invoked the famed (or perhaps infamous) liberal theistic/liberal atheist NOMA argument, conceived by the late, great Stephen J. Gould: that science explains the how and theism/religion the why--probably the single greatest example of political correctness gone awry. There are so many problems with that line of reasoning that it is deserving of it's own thread, but for the purposes of this discussion, I'll simply cite a passage from Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation:

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Consider the recent deliberations of the Roman Catholic Church on the doctrine of Limbo. Thirty top theologians from around the world recently met at the Vatican to discuss the question of what happens to babies who die without having undergone the sacred rite of Baptism. Since the Middle Ages,Catholics have believed that such babies go to Limbo, where they enjoy what St. Thomas Aquinas termed "natural happiness" forever. This was in contrast to the opinion of St. Augustine, who believed that these unlucky infant souls would spend eternity in hell.

Though Limbo had no real foundation in scripture, and was never official Church Doctrine, it has been a major part of the Catholic tradition for centuries. ... Now the great minds of the Church have convened to reconsider the matter.

Can we even conceive of a project more intellectually forlorn than this? Just imagine what the deliberations must be like. ... When one considers the fact that this is the very institution that has produced and sheltered an elite army of child-molesters, the whole enterprise begins to exude a truly diabolical aura of misspent human energy.
What you have just read was how theology goes about ascertaining the "why" so untouchable by science. This is to say nothing of the religious parsing the claims of science to find those which are compatible with their beliefs, the obvious fact that religions do actively assert objective "how" claims, and the growing fields of science which are beginning to explore "why" questions. My friend, NOMA just don't wash. It sounds great and all (like all political correctness) but it ultimately has no basis in reality (like all political correctness).

Anyway, I should at least be grateful, I suppose, that you didn't play the "a day for god is different than a day for us" card.

To sum it up:

(A) Fundamentalism is a rising problem in the US and indeed the world. Just as religious liberals in Europe are bending over backwards to appease Muslim fundamentalists and their backwards beliefs, religious liberals in the US are just as asleep when it comes their eroding separation between church and state, and oblivious to the rise of fundamentalist culture in terms of media and institutions. Seriously dude, watch Jesus Camp.

(B) Science is in conflict with The Bible because the Good Book makes many, many claims which are incompatible with the nature of the universe--far too many of which cannot to be dismissed as allegories. Whatever allegories can be drawn from when God turns a woman into a pillar of salt for look back on a city He destroyed, or when God kills a man for ejaculating outside of his dead brother's wife (to go no further than the book of Genesis) certainly aren't particularly useful ones. This biblical hopscotch is not only dishonest, but evidence of an underlying dogmatism of theistic liberalism in general--one which says that no holy book can ever say anything that is ever flat wrong, and that everything which appears to be so was never to be taken literally anyway. The fervor with which may statements have to be "astoundingly ignorant" as opposed to simply misguided is evidence of this.

---

EDIT:
Quote:
You say "so-called 'boundaries'" as though I'm making it up, when it's an established tenant of modern physics.
See, I don't mind you calling me names (as if "you and your kind" was the worst insult ever) but I do give a damn when you distort my position. I do not an any way suggest that you are making it up, only that your use of the word is "misleading." Hell, I even concede that limitations do exist: "It isn't enough, for the purposes of this debate, to assert that there are limitations to the natural world. It being finite and all (in time if not space), that fact is patently obvious."

And nevermind the fact that you completely ignored the point, which is that said limitations ultimately say nothing as to the plurality or singularity of the universe.

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Old 03-29-2007, 02:48 PM   #85
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

[CONTINUE FROM ABOVE]

Finally, we can get down to the nitty-gritty.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicato
There are not two ways about it, either something is logical or it is illogical. There is no middle ground.
Indeed. And faith is quite logical, if you actually accept what we know about the universe.
If something is either logical or illogical, then if your god is logical, a lack thereof is not. In other words, according to you, I am being illogical. This is very important, because it comes into conflicts with your previous notion that there are two separate but equal ways of understanding. Either something is logical or it isn't; finally, we can start having an honest debate.

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You can't seem to swallow the fact that for all your posturing, the very tenant of your argument against First Cause defies the very laws you claim to champion.
If the Big Bang marked the beginning of space and time, what does it mean to say that there was something "before" the Big Bang if we have no sense of time with which to assert a "before" and no space for that something to occupy? The answer is that it should mean little if anything, and as a consequence of that realization, no first-cause is required. Swallow that.

Of course, we ultimately do not know (and perhaps cannot know) if similar rules of space and time applied "before" the universe was birthed--but that is exactly the point: we don't know. There is no more reason to reject or accept that hypothesis as there is yours [1]. You are right to assert that your god hypothesis is no more absurd than a chance hypothesis--they are in fact equally absurd and thus equally plausible (though NOT equally probable). This is why we are simply in no position to make any definitive claims as to the birth of the universe. Simply put, any leaning toward one non-exhaustive conclusion over another cannot be considered logical, by any measure, only arbitrary favoritism.

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God need not be bound by the laws of this universe. That's why he's God.
You've noticed that I referred to your god as "your god" but did you ever think about why? It is, in part, because your god is distinct from all other gods; and because there is mutual incompatibility between most gods, not every one can logically exist. Now, by what process do we go about filtering out all impossible gods? What ever the answer is, we certain can't rely on the vacant claims of their adherents. That your god "need not be bound by the laws of this universe" is no more convincing than the god which need not reveal itself lest we all be incinerated. You are relying on rhetoric, rather than positive evidence, to defend your belief and this is a fallacious circle of reason.

Here is your argument in the abstract:

1. X is not bound the the laws of Y.
2. The laws of Y dictate that everything--except that which caused Y--has a cause.
3. Therefore, X caused Y.

The problems here should be apparent. Your premise (1) has not been demonstrated (because it is in principle indemonstrable) and (3) doesn't necessarily follow from (2). I would go further by pointing out that the exception in (2) hasn't been demonstrated and that by your own admission, there is no positive evidence for the existence of X, but I'll keep it to the previous two problems for fear of misrepresentation of the the specifics of your argument. And please, if you think I've misrepresented you argument in this example, feel free to outline the correct schema for me, specifics included.

In the meantime, ask yourself why you don't find the following arguments convincing:

1. Ghosts are invisible.
2. I can't see ghosts.
3. Therefore, ghosts exist.

EDITED TO ADD:

1. God is love.
2. Love exists.
3. Therefore, God exists.

----

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicato
Even if it was an intelligent designer which gave birth to said natural world, there is pretty much no denying that we exist only because of a long, if aimless, sequence of events which occurred inside of it.
I can agree with that, save for the "aimless" part.
Yeah, you're going to have to elaborate.

(1) God created the universe specifically with the existence of humans in mind.
(2) God created the universe for the purposes of life in general (not specifically our species).
(3) God created the universe with the intent to be as it is now.
(4) God created the universe, created the laws which governed it, and went on about its business.

If (1) then what up with the dinosaurs? I mean, what was the purpose of that little exercise if the real purpose of the universe was for our benefit? Indeed, why should we have evolve it all?

If (2) then how do you account for the gratuitous amount of stuff in the universe? If the existence of life was in mind, then why did it take billions of years to come to fruition? Why are their billions upon billions of planets which (presumably) lack the conditions for life? You don't even have to think of it in terms of planets when you have light-years upon lightyears of space. Just empty space, sitting around doing nothing. If your creator had life as its objective, then the model currently running is terribly inefficient.

If (3) then where, in the cosmological history of the universe, is there evidence of planning? Asteroids randomly collide with planets, galaxies randomly collide with galaxies, entire solar systems are swallowed by black holes, and ultimately the whole thing is going to expand so far as to make the exercise pointless.

If (4) then the long sequence of events were, in fact, aimless.


----

[1] And let's get real, when you are making an objective claim about the universe, you are positing a scientific hypothesis (even according to NOMA doctrine)--especially if you use scientific knowledge to back up your claim. If you are found to be right, then God's existence would naturally become a part of the foundation of the sciences, ipso facto.

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Old 04-01-2007, 05:41 PM   #86
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

AND ONE MORE THING:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle
Again it just goes back to what "belief" actually is. The dictionary defines "belief" thusly:

Confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.

Going by that definition, which I think is safe to say is a pretty ubiquitous definition of the word, you do indeed lack belief.
Once again, Mike, you are wrong. That definition is not ubiquitous by any measure. In fact, your definition seems more fitting for faith:

Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

--American Heritage

Faith is a belief, trust, or confidence, not based merely on logic, reason, or empirical data, but based fundamentally on volition often associated with a transpersonal relationship with God, a higher power, a person, elements of nature, and/or a perception of the human race as a whole.

--Wikipedia


In summation: I do have a standard for belief and you need to take back your previous remark that I don't.
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:46 AM   #87
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
Your points:

(A) Your god is not demonstrable according to natural law, yet it is necessary and logical.
That's not what I said. I said that a supernatural cause is required. It may or may not be God.

Quote:
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that your god need not be falsifiable by natural law--it still needs to be such from a logical standpoint, since you are claiming it to be logical.
No, I'm claiming belief to be logical.

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Indeed, one can have faith an anything for any (or no) reason, can they not?
Sure, but faith in God is based on how we interpret what we know an observe. It's not an arbitrary construct.

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Addressing (C): It is, of course, important to note that I have left room for the possibility of a supernatural--because if one did, it would become pretty obvious pretty quickly that I do not endorse an "ultimate truth."
Yes, but your "room for the supernatural" only allows the supernatural to be believable if you could verify its existence via natural law, reducing your position to a non sequitur.

---


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These should all send a chills down your spine, yet you marginalize it.
Oh, they do. I'm not "marginalizing" it. I'm pointing out that fundamentalism is neither the majority of believers in this country nor in this world. Additionally, the fact that someone reads "The Purpose Driven Life" or attends a mega-church does not make them a fundamentalist. The number of people hell-bent on putting Christian prayer in schools and booting evolution, while not insignificant, should not be taken as a representation of all or a majority of believers on this planet.


Quote:
First of all, science has demonstrated a secular theory for the evolution of the Earth itself. I've seen the computer model of it; you should look it up. Your assertion that "science demonstrated that God didn't created the world in six days, not that God didn't create the world" is specious. God simply isn't in the equation it all.
So why did you assert that science disproved God as a creator?

Quote:
Secondly, where is the evidence that the Bible's account of Creationism was taken as anything but literal truth for most of Western history?
When a culture has no other means of understanding their world, myth may be substituted for inquiry. However, many cultures -- the ancient Greeks for example -- rejected mythology as absolute truth.

Quote:
What you have just read was how theology goes about ascertaining the "why" so untouchable by science. This is to say nothing of the religious parsing the claims of science to find those which are compatible with their beliefs, the obvious fact that religions do actively assert objective "how" claims, and the growing fields of science which are beginning to explore "why" questions.
The two aren't mutually exclusive, but "why" as a purely scientific question is meaningless. As a secular humanist, "why" you exist is a nonsensical question. You know yourself only as a product of a chain of events which you hold as purposeless.



Quote:
Science is in conflict with The Bible because the Good Book makes many, many claims which are incompatible with the nature of the universe--far too many of which cannot to be dismissed as allegories.
I'm not sure why you're going off on some tangent about the Bible, but it has nothing to do with anything I'm talking about.

---

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but I do give a damn when you distort my position.
To clarify, I did not distort your position. I clearly stated how your position sounded to me. If there was misunderstanding, you can simply clarify and spare the hostility.

Quote:
I do not an any way suggest that you are making it up, only that your use of the word is "misleading." Hell, I even concede that limitations do exist: "It isn't enough, for the purposes of this debate, to assert that there are limitations to the natural world. It being finite and all (in time if not space), that fact is patently obvious."
The problem again goes back to your agonizingly circular reasoning: You do not deny the possibility of a supernatural, but you would never "positively" (as you say) profess knowledge of such a thing without being able to affirm it within the natural.

Also, your statement is somewhat incorrect. There is, by definition, limitations in space, not time alone. Space and time are inseperable, which is why they are modernly referred to as "the space-time continuum" or "spacetime". Think of spacetime as a continually expanding balloon. It may be expanding infinitely, but our universe itself has definite boundaries. Wiki the "shape of the universe".

Perhaps you should check out Deepak Chopra's flick "How to Know God" which deals with quantum physics and their representation of divine consciousness.

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And nevermind the fact that you completely ignored the point, which is that said limitations ultimately say nothing as to the plurality or singularity of the universe.
I didn't ignore the point, you just didn't go anywhere with it. I agree with this. So... ???

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If something is either logical or illogical, then if your god is logical, a lack thereof is not.
Throughout this discussion, you continually distort my words. "Logic" is a tenant of naturalism. God is transcendent of naturalism and his existence from a logical perspective is impossible to define. The question is whether faith itself has some basis in logic, or whether it's an arbitrary construct.


Quote:
If the Big Bang marked the beginning of space and time, what does it mean to say that there was something "before" the Big Bang if we have no sense of time with which to assert a "before" and no space for that something to occupy? The answer is that it should mean little if anything, and as a consequence of that realization, no first-cause is required. Swallow that.
Because our universe exists in a finite continuum of spacetime, there was necessarily a "before" or perhaps more aptly a "beyond" since it had a finite beginning. Beyond the finite universe of space and time is infinity. First Cause is still required because of our universe's own natural laws by which it is defined and bound. Nice try though.

Quote:
Of course, we ultimately do not know (and perhaps cannot know) if similar rules of space and time applied "before" the universe was birthed--but that is exactly the point: we don't know. There is no more reason to reject or accept that hypothesis as there is yours [1]. You are right to assert that your god hypothesis is no more absurd than a chance hypothesis--they are in fact equally absurd and thus equally plausible (though NOT equally probable). This is why we are simply in no position to make any definitive claims as to the birth of the universe.
Indeed, I fully agree. Good thing that at no point did I make "definitive" claims, and in fact spent numerous posts explaining in detail that I was not making such claims.


Quote:
Simply put, any leaning toward one non-exhaustive conclusion over another cannot be considered logical, by any measure, only arbitrary favoritism.
On the contrary, belief in God is founded on not only the logical necessity of a supernatural, but on the organization, design, and cohesiveness of the universe. I'm a fan of the truth of the gravitational constant: that if it were off by a millionth of a degree, nothing as we know it could exist. I suppose you could call it an argument from incredulity, but I'm astounded at how anyone can observe the construction of the universe and all its physical laws and not believe in God. The only other alternative, regardless of supernatural this or that, is that it was simply an accident. Poof! Here it is, a perfect universe out of nothing.
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:52 AM   #88
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Quote:
You've noticed that I referred to your god as "your god" but did you ever think about why? It is, in part, because your god is distinct from all other gods; and because there is mutual incompatibility between most gods, not every one can logically exist.
In what way do you find my God to be incompatible with or distinct from all other gods?

Quote:
Now, by what process do we go about filtering out all impossible gods?
I addressed this earlier in the discussion. Theology is not static and absolute but, much like science, changes as our knowledge grows. It's not necessary to "filter" out any "impossible" gods, but as our understanding of the world grows, our understanding of God must grow with it. While religion serves many valuable functions, our understanding of God must not be restrained by its narrow boundaries.

Quote:
Here is your argument in the abstract:

1. X is not bound the the laws of Y.
2. The laws of Y dictate that everything--except that which caused Y--has a cause.
3. Therefore, X caused Y.

1. Yes
2. Everything within the universe must have a cause. No reaction happens without an action. "X", the action that brought our universe to be, cannot be contained within this universe because if it were, it would have to have its own cause, in which case the universe would have to be infinite, which it is not.
3. No. I simply asserted that the cause of the universe must be supernatural because the universe cannot be self-causing or self-perpetuating. I made no assertion that this proves the existence of God. You seem to be desperately grasping at straws here, hoping that I will try to posture some naturalistic proof of God that you can shoot down. On the contrary my whole point is entirely different: that, unlike your old pal Dawkins asserts, the existence of God is not a scientific claim (it is a statement of faith) and thus is not subject to scrutiny under the scientific method.



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Yeah, you're going to have to elaborate.
The process is not aimless, because of the very physical foundations of the universe that have allowed evolution to take place. The universe is immaculately organized and permeated by divine intelligence. Being the obvious Dawkins fan you are, you of all people should know that evolution, even from a secular perspective, is not aimless and random but, in fact, predictable.

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If (1)
If (2)
Like most cynics, you make the mistake of assuming that the human consciousness is the pinnacle of all understanding, and that if God has a consciousness he must be thinking just like a human would. The fact that humans have a unique place in this universe and a unique capacity to understand it does not make our existence the sole purpose of God's will.

Even if you are a believer who believes that God performs miracles and intervenes in the affairs of man, it would be misguided to assume that God created the entire universe just for us. Clearly there is much beyond our understanding.


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If (3) then where, in the cosmological history of the universe, is there evidence of planning? Asteroids randomly collide with planets, galaxies randomly collide with galaxies, entire solar systems are swallowed by black holes, and ultimately the whole thing is going to expand so far as to make the exercise pointless.
By what measure do you consider any event to be "random", when the laws of the universe dictated its inevitability?

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If (4) then the long sequence of events were, in fact, aimless.
You'll have to ask a Deist.

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And let's get real, when you are making an objective claim about the universe
I am losing count of how many times I have corrected this nonsense. If you're just going to put words in my mouth, go blog about this stuff instead of wasting my time.


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Once again, Mike, you are wrong. That definition is not ubiquitous by any measure. In fact, your definition seems more fitting for faith
"My" definition was pulled straight from the dictionary. True, "belief" is semantically distinct from "faith", but the two are closely related and often used interchangeably. What you have is not a system of belief, but a system of acknowledgment and affirmation. Feel free though to use whatever definition of "belief" you want for the sake of your self-affirmation needs. I won't be recanting, though.

What's needed here is a clarification. You've often used the phrase "active belief". I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that. I can think of a couple of possibilities based on your use of the term:

1. A statement of qualitative fact
2. A statement of faith

Yes, asserting God's existence as the former is misguided. As I've stated repeatedly throughout this thread, I've no problem with an atheist saying that God's existence is "unprovable". Big shocker! What I have a problem with is the notion that faith is "delusional". I'm not trying to prove that God exists. I've spent plenty of time explaining why that is futile and illogical anyway. My focus is on demonstrating that belief in God is intrinsically tied to our perceptions of the physical universe, and is not arbitrary and certainly not delusional. From my perspective, the biggest obstacle to your own understanding is that you cannot seem to reconcile the fact that (2) is not (1), as you frequently use the concepts interchangeably. Moreover, you seem to have difficulty with the idea that faith uses reason as a tool, but is not reducible to it since reason itself points us to that which is beyond reason.
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Last edited by Mike Doolittle; 04-03-2007 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:08 PM   #89
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
That's not what I said. I said that a supernatural cause is required. It may or may not be God.
I don't see how I got your position wrong, here. I said, specifically, that you said that "your god is not demonstrable according to natural law, yet it is necessary and logical." Let's take the last three words--"necessary and logical"--you said your god was a "locally necessity." Add to that the implicit infrence that your "supernatural" need not adhere to my "natural law" and I've summed up your argument quite fairly.

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No, I'm claiming belief to be logical.
You did say your god was logical, did you not?

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Sure, but faith in God is based on how we interpret what we know an observe.
Not necessarily (or even mostly). Yours is, but I would hasten to say that most people only have"faith in God" because they were indoctrinated by their parents.

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Yes, but your "room for the supernatural" only allows the supernatural to be believable if you could verify its existence via natural law, reducing your position to a non sequitur.
Actually, I'd be satisfied if you could verify your claims in the abstract, using pure logic. You could, in fact, use completely non-naturalistic Xs and Ys to demonstrate your conclusion. There is no non-sequitur or circular logic on my part--only a lack of evidence or demonstration on yours (as well as a circular argument).

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Oh, they do. I'm not "marginalizing" it. I'm pointing out that fundamentalism is neither the majority of believers in this country nor in this world. Additionally, the fact that someone reads "The Purpose Driven Life" or attends a mega-church does not make them a fundamentalist. The number of people hell-bent on putting Christian prayer in schools and booting evolution, while not insignificant, should not be taken as a representation of all or a majority of believers on this planet.
The majority of the adult population of the US denies a secular theory for Evolution and thinks that Creationism or ID should be taught along side Darwin's theory. It's like I said, the majority of the country sympathizes with the position of fundies.

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So why did you assert that science disproved God as a creator?
I didn't.

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The two aren't mutually exclusive, but "why" as a purely scientific question is meaningless. As a secular humanist, "why" you exist is a nonsensical question. You know yourself only as a product of a chain of events which you hold as purposeless.
I am saying that your pure "why" is in principle meaningless, no matter if science or religion or philosophy is examining it.

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I'm not sure why you're going off on some tangent about the Bible, but it has nothing to do with anything I'm talking about.
You did say that its account of Creationism was an allegory. Sorry, but that just gets me going.

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The problem again goes back to your agonizingly circular reasoning: You do not deny the possibility of a supernatural, but you would never "positively" (as you say) profess knowledge of such a thing without being able to affirm it within the natural.
Well, as I've said in the previous response, you are free to demonstrate your position in the abstract using only pure logic. It doesn't necessarily have to be affirmed with naturalistic evidence (even though you are clearly relying on naturalistic evidence to draw your conclusion).

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Also, your statement is somewhat incorrect. There is, by definition, limitations in space, not time alone. Space and time are inseperable, which is why they are modernly referred to as "the space-time continuum" or "spacetime". Think of spacetime as a continually expanding balloon. It may be expanding infinitely, but our universe itself has definite boundaries. Wiki the "shape of the universe".
Yeah, you've completely misunderstood what I said. I've never denied that space and time aren't interdependent or indeed one in the same, only made an aside to the effect of "if not X then Y" as if to say if not one than the other. If you accept both, as I do, then the condition shouldn't apply. Just covering bases.

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I didn't ignore the point, you just didn't go anywhere with it. I agree with this. So... ???
So declaring the limitations of our universe does nothing to help (or hinder) your cause.

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Throughout this discussion, you continually distort my words. "Logic" is a tenant of naturalism. God is transcendent of naturalism and his existence from a logical perspective is impossible to define. The question is whether faith itself has some basis in logic, or whether it's an arbitrary construct.
First of all, I like the "do as I say not as I do" vibe. If I were to say you've distorted my position, then I'm being hostile or antagonistic.

Secondly, logic exists separate from naturalism.

Thirdly, if your god is not affirmed by logic, then he is by definition illogical. As you've said, either something is logical or it isn't.

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Indeed, I fully agree. Good thing that at no point did I make "definitive" claims, and in fact spent numerous posts explaining in detail that I was not making such claims.
But you did draw conclusions.

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On the contrary, belief in God is founded on not only the logical necessity of a supernatural, but on the organization, design, and cohesiveness of the universe. I'm a fan of the truth of the gravitational constant: that if it were off by a millionth of a degree, nothing as we know it could exist. I suppose you could call it an argument from incredulity, but in this case I'll proclaim it gladly. I'm astounded at how anyone can observe the construction of the universe and all its physical laws and not believe in God. The only other alternative, regardless of supernatural this or that, is that it was simply an accident. Poof! Here it is, a perfect universe out of nothing.
I'm a fan of the butterfly effect: that if a twig hadn't snapped a billion years ago, it would be a very different planet. Why is it so hard to apply that logic on a cosmic scale?

Further, you're making (yet another) logical fallacy in your false dichotomy--there are conceivable secular alternatives to the cause of the universe. It isn't just your god or the highway.

Finally, what in your mind makes you think this universe is perfect?

EDIT: I'll get to your second post later today.

Last edited by Nicato; 04-03-2007 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:32 PM   #90
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

[CONTINUED FROM ABOVE]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
In what way do you find my God to be incompatible with or distinct from all other gods?
Mike, we've been down this road before. Most monotheists believe in a god which answers prayers, keeps tabs on our earthly affairs, yada, yada, yada.

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Because our universe exists in a finite continuum of spacetime, there was necessarily a "before" or a "beyond" since it had a finite beginning. First Cause is still required because of our universe's own natural laws by which it is defined and bound. Or perhaps you can explain how the universe popped into existence out of oblivion entirely on its own accord. First Cause is a necessity of physics.
Sorry, but physics (unlike logic) is very much a part of the natural world, and so whatever necessity it demands is irrelevant to whatever "occurred" (right) before our universe--this is why the multiverse people hypothesize that each universe has different laws of physics. Your appeal to physics doesn't wash; the paradox remains.


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I addressed this earlier in the discussion. Theology is not static and absolute but, much like science, changes as our knowledge grows. It's not necessary to "filter" out any "impossible" gods, but as our understanding of the world grows, our understanding of God must grow with it. While religion serves many valuable functions, our understanding of God must not be restrained by its narrow boundaries.
I was, of course, being rhetorical with that question, but since you brought it up....

First, it is completely necessary to filter out impossible gods. The omniscient, omnipotent, morally perfect god is impossible (please spare me the yin and yang) but your intelligent designer isn't. It's better than the alternative, but the problem is that it's just one in an infinite number of possibilities (which, of course, begs the question of filtering from the infinity). The fact that you've reached an semi-exhaustive conclusion demonstrates that your "understanding" of your god came about from examining evidence through logic and science. Why you now say that your conclusions cannot be examined scientifically and logically is beyond me.

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The process is not aimless, because of the very physical foundations of the universe that have allowed evolution to take place.
I can't help but to extrapolate from that that you subscribe to option 2, that the purpose of the universe was to produce life. Unfortunately for you, Creationism is a more defensive stance for backing that claim seeing as life on Earth only appeared some 4 billion years ago, while the universe was here for three or four times longer. If evolution on earth is evidence of purpose, aren't their conceivably more efficient means of ascertaining that goal?

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The universe is immaculately organized and permeated by divine intelligence.
I would argue that our universe more like a screensaver than a program on a supercomputer, given just how haphazard events occur. Here, you are jumping to option 3, that the universe was made to be as it was right now.

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Being the obvious Dawkins fan you are, you of all people should know that evolution, even from a secular perspective, is not aimless and random but, in fact, predictable
It is in principle predictable, but not necessarily in practice. Of course, Dawkins also advocates a blind watchmaker, which of course is in conflict with your advocation of purpose. (It should be said, I suppose, that Evolution has little to do with my original point.)

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Like most cynics, you make the mistake of assuming that the human consciousness is the pinnacle of all understanding...
Sorry, but you took the cake in that department with your "perfect" universe remark.

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...and that if God has a consciousness he must be thinking just like a human would.
Not it all. Any intelligent, conscious being which supposedly made the universe for the specific purpose of life could be criticized for the inefficient model we got going on now. It isn't a matter of "if I were designing a universe, I'd do this and that," rather a matter of "if this was the purpose of the universe, it could have been done better." And it could have. (Read the chapter about all the ways the universe is trying to kill us in Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Death by Black Hole.)

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The fact that humans have a unique place in this universe and a unique capacity to understand it does not make our existence the sole purpose of God's will.
(Hence options 2 - 4.) It does beg the question, however: if not us than what? Be specific, Mike, what was the purpose?

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Even if you are a believer who believes that God performs miracles and intervenes in the affairs of man, it would be misguided to assume that God created the entire universe just for us. Clearly there is much beyond our understanding.
Well, you're going to have to clear up two things then: your "perfect" remark and your appeal to Evolution as purpose ("The process is not aimless, because of the very physical foundations of the universe that have allowed evolution to take place").

And if ultimately you're going to argue that God's purpose is beyond our understanding, then you're essentially making the same mistake you did in appealing to our universe's limitations. There is no more evidence that God's purpose is beyond our understanding than there is evidence for purpose it all--both are, in and of themselves, equally plausible (though the latter is more probable).

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By what measure do you consider any event to be "random", when the laws of the universe dictated its inevitability?
For the sake of argument, let's assume that the laws themself are a constant. That fact alone doesn't dictate the inevitability of any one event (unless you're prepared to argue for destiny). The same laws could exist and be a still different universe (butterfly effect).

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I am losing count of how many times I have corrected this nonsense.
It is not nonsense. You are making a claim about the universe and if were ever found to be true, it would have to be written in science books. (Hell, it would be the greatest discovery of all.)

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Feel free though to use whatever definition of "belief" you want for the sake of your self-affirmation needs.
Ironic, given that that is exactly what you are doing. I however, at least name and cite my dictionaries.

Again, I dig the hypocrisy. Had I said something to that effect, then it would have been antagonistic.

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What's needed here is a clarification. You've often used the phrase "active belief". I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that. I can think of a couple of possibilities based on your use of the term:

1. A statement of qualitative fact
2. A statement of faith

Yes, asserting God's existence as the former is misguided. As I've stated repeatedly throughout this thread, I've no problem with an atheist saying that God's existence is "unprovable". Big shocker! What I have a problem with is the notion that faith is "delusional". I'm not trying to prove that God exists. I've spent plenty of time explaining why that is futile and illogical anyway. My focus is on demonstrating that belief in God is intrinsically tied to our perceptions of the physical universe, and is not arbitrary and certainly not delusional. From my perspective, the biggest obstacle to your own understanding is that you cannot seem to reconcile the fact that (2) is not (1), as you frequently use the concepts interchangeably. Moreover, you seem to have difficulty with the idea that faith uses reason as a tool, but is not reducible to it since reason itself points us to that which is beyond reason.
Mike, you want it both ways. If your god is in principle unprovable, then it is illogical; if faith is not reducible to reason, then it is unreasonable. I honestly don't get how you reconcile these issues. The only explanation I can come up with is that you think that "illogical" and "unreasonable" are necessarily pejorative terms. Some say that their god is beyond logic. I say fine, but don't scoff at people who honestly interpret that as another way of saying that the god in question is illogical. Either something is logical or it's not; if not A, then B.

Now, if the basis of your belief was faith, then fine, but as soon as you started talking like a grown-up, invoking the laws of nature and such to verify your belief, then you've opened yourself up to logical scrutiny. You can't call "base" as soon as someone starts examining your claims. (And if you're going to offended by my rhetoric here, then your set-up for a hasty exit by offense is would become all to evident. I was being metaphorical.)

I really don't get it. How are you saying that belief in your god is logical, but you're god is not? I mean, excuse me, but in what case is belief in something illogical considered logical? I'm not trying to be sarcastic here--you really aren't making any sense.
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