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Author Topic: I just don't like religion
Dr Strangelove
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quote:
But even to mention the possibility that a belief in gods ought to be founded on some sort of evidence is considered disrespectful!
I think this is where we agree. I think religion, specifically Christianity, is not scrutinized nearly enough by the majority of "Christians" in Western society today. As someone involved in ministry (not professionally, but I do spend a lot of time focused on it), it's remarkable how often all it takes is for someone to be encouraged to examine their belief systems and their faith and they come to some startling realizations about themselves and reality.

quote:
Much less pointing out that the said evidence does not exist.
Obviously, this is where we differ, first because this is not encouraging people to examine their belief systems or their faith, second because the vast majority of those startling realizations I mentioned are not of the "Wow! God doesn't exist!", though to be fair that does happen.


Edit: Woot! ToPP! [Party]

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King of Men
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The next time someone suggests any evidence for their faith that doesn't depend on internal mental states will be the first. Real evidence doesn't require you to be in a receptive mood to accept it; real evidence hits you over the head and forces you to accept it. That's why I can convince people of the existence of chocolate, but you can't convince anyone of the existence of your god unless they accept the evidence already, or you cheat by getting them young.
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Dagonee
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quote:
That's why I can convince people of the existence of chocolate, but you can't convince anyone of the existence of your god unless they accept the evidence already, or you cheat by getting them young.
There are millions of counterexamples to this statement (assuming the general "you").
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King of Men
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Examples?
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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
The next time someone suggests any evidence for their faith that doesn't depend on internal mental states will be the first. Real evidence doesn't require you to be in a receptive mood to accept it; real evidence hits you over the head and forces you to accept it. That's why I can convince people of the existence of chocolate, but you can't convince anyone of the existence of your god unless they accept the evidence already, or you cheat by getting them young.

what's the need to believe in something that already has been proven?

What's the need to proof something you already believe in?

Proof and believe have nothing to do with each other.

Internal mental states is all that religion is about.

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King of Men
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quote:
Proof and believe have nothing to do with each other.
Do you believe that minimum wages cause unemployment? Why or why not, bearing in mind that proof and belief have nothing to do with each other?
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Dagonee
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quote:
Examples?
People who didn't believe in God and converted as adults.
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MattP
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I think that was addressed by this part:

quote:
Real evidence doesn't require you to be in a receptive mood to accept it;
If someone comes to me and says "chocolate doesn't exist", indeed if they are violently against the idea for some reason, I can still prove to them that they are wrong.

There is no analogue for religious belief. I don't believe God exists. Show me that I'm wrong.

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King of Men
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You may be able to find

a) People who were 'angry with God', like CS Lewis
b) People who had lapsed from their church through indifference
c) People who had a vaguely theist belief through cultural osmosis, but had not joined any particular church
d) People of different (including non-Abrahamic) faiths

who joined some church and now believe in that church's god. I defy you to find anyone who had thought about the issue and reached the conclusion "there is no god", who were nevertheless converted as adults. Please note, angry teenage rebellion does not count as thinking about the issue.

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katharina
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You need to get out more.

There is at least one here at Hatrack.

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MattP
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quote:
You may be able to find...
I'd like to amend this challenge a bit. It's not hard to find a Christian that claims to have once been an atheist. Atheists of this sort are generally, to borrow and mangle a phrase, "Sunday atheists", who check "none of the above" or "atheist" on the census form, but who have not necessarily put much thought into their position.

I'd like to see evidence of the conversion, including thoughtful descriptions of their state of mind from both before and after the conversion process indicating that the individual truly understood and embraced the skeptical arguments against religion prior to their conversion and how they reconciled those arguments with their new reality.

There are multiple examples going the other way - virtually every atheist I know was once religious and can clearly explain why they believed in their religion and why they eventually came to disbelieve.

[ July 01, 2008, 04:39 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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bootjes
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answer to King of men:

Okay, here we go:

There is the physical world:
the world you perceive with your 5 sense.
True in this world means definable with those senses. (and than all the agreements about what we see as evidence.) Science is about this.

Then there is the non-physical world. If you only want to use your 5 senses, this world doesn’t exist for you. Not real here means not definable by the 5 senses.
If you use your feeling and “open up” whatever that is, and there are many ways to reach this. (including drugs), then you perceive the non-physical. Which can add wonderful things to your life. It has in mine.

But there is no need to examine the non-physical. I know al lot of people who are quite happy without it. My wife for one. Religion is for people who have had a hint of this non-physical, and want to make it a part of their life. Different people, different religions (or none). One way of life is not better than the other! I do not like to force my religion unpin others. That’s why I hadn’t responded before in this thread.

Why I said that they have nothing to do with each other is that it’s useless to want to define the one world with the instruments of the other. That is: to try to proof (5 senses) the world beyond those senses.

About your statement:

“The opposite of a small truth is a lie, the opposite of a great truth is another great truth”

Your argument is in the realm of the small truths. So there you are right. Believe and proof do have something to do with each other. My point was hinting at a greater truth. In that truth they don’t.

(. . . or they do, and that will be the other great truth, I like to hear that)

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TomDavidson
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quote:
So do you think the only reason a gay person isn't fulfilled in a straight marriage would be because they have chosen not to be fulfilled by a member of the opposite sex?
Yes. They have said, in addition to other things, "I will only be fulfilled if I am married to someone to whom I am sexually attracted." They do not have to define fulfillment in this way; in fact, many people insist they should not.
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King of Men
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MattP's objection is also very good; I had not thought of it quite like that before.
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King of Men
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quote:
Then there is the non-physical world.
Where? Point to it, please; or to its effects. If it has no effect, how can you say it exists? If it has effects, how is it nonphysical?
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0Megabyte
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bootjes:

Based upon what evidence do you hold that the feelings you feel are in fact some sixth sense about the non-physical world, and not, instead, those very real, very physical things called feelings and symbols and ideas, which are things that physically exist, recorded and occurring in your mind, but aren't indicative of anything more?

How do you tell the difference, then, between the fantasy worlds of fiction, the false worlds of people who are, in fact, in error, and this real, nonphysical world?

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bootjes
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O, by the way I was not religious.
I was raise in an environment where it frowned upon te be religious. " the church has done more bad than good sort of thing."

My mother was religious but didn’t want to influence as a kid. Especially not in the sixties. As a student I grew up in the seventies en eighties. Seventies: secularisation God is nonsense. Eightys: the ego period, also not about God.

Then I had an experience that made me curious about spiritual and religions. I read books about all sorts of religions, new age etc. Then I found that all were about the same thing. The next decision was that I wanted to make this a serious part of my life and not some “feel-good-shopping-around-without-the-consequences” thing. So I went to the church of my mother (there are my western roots: in Christianity, if I was Turkish it would have been Allah). Thankfully this church is kind of liberal. I could write my own vows. We read the bible not to find out the small truths (did Jezus walk on water?) But to find out the great truths: What does the story mean to me. To me this particular story means that if you have faith you can do wonderful things. If you doubt than you get wet feet. (Petrus). This helps me now, when I am trying to find work. (and trying to have a go at my business plan, see other thread).

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MattP
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quote:
Where? Point to it, please; or to its effects. If it has no effect, how can you say it exists? If it has effects, how is it nonphysical?
It's only apparent interface is in areas too complex or too small to currently (or perhaps ever)measure - as the causal force behind perceived coincidence and as stimulus for individual thoughts or patterns of thoughts.

I don't mean for this to be facetious or dismissive. This is what most evidence for religious belief, as I understand it, boils down to. I can neither prove nor disprove the assertion. I'm just... skeptical.

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King of Men
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quote:
To me this particular story means that if you have faith you can do wonderful things.
This is interesting if true, but it is not outside the realm of the five senses. We can test if people with faith are more likely to get jobs, get married, get rich, be happy - whatever your particular wonderful thing is, we can see whether faithful people have more of it. Have you done so?

What is more, if your faith is nothing more than an average pep talk - "You must have faith in yourself or you can never accomplish anything" - then what does it have to do with the existence of gods? Presumably your faith is more than this, but you have not given any indication of that.

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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by 0Megabyte:
bootjes:

Based upon what evidence do you hold that the feelings you feel are in fact some sixth sense about the non-physical world, and not, instead, those very real, very physical things called feelings and symbols and ideas, which are things that physically exist, recorded and occurring in your mind, but aren't indicative of anything more?

How do you tell the difference, then, between the fantasy worlds of fiction, the false worlds of people who are, in fact, in error, and this real, nonphysical world?

Ah but how true is the physical world?
We have only our senses. And we know they are not reliable. We filter eveything (if we don't we would become crazy. That is something that happens in some forms of autism)

It doesn't really matter if it is true or not. true only means: being able to be percieved by the 5 senses. What does matter is that it makes my life richer. I don't say that I am a better person because of my religion. i could have the same values without it.

Paul McCartney wrote this in a song:

"We don't need anybody else to tell us what is real. Inside each one of us is love, and we know how it feels."

I can not exxplain it better. Remember: this is about the great truths. For small truths I rely on science. So I do believe in Darwins theory. I don't believe the world was made in 6 days. There is some greater truth in that six days to be found. (but so there in reading wonderfull books.)
I am greatly moved by the idea of a speaker for the dead.

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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
To me this particular story means that if you have faith you can do wonderful things.
This is interesting if true, but it is not outside the realm of the five senses. We can test if people with faith are more likely to get jobs, get married, get rich, be happy - whatever your particular wonderful thing is, we can see whether faithful people have more of it. Have you done so?

What is more, if your faith is nothing more than an average pep talk - "You must have faith in yourself or you can never accomplish anything" - then what does it have to do with the existence of gods? Presumably your faith is more than this, but you have not given any indication of that.

Yes there is more:
But the "more" is in the feeling that i can not explain. That feeling I can share with others in my church. It lifts me up. Like good music can. Like nature can, not better, but different.

Sorry: for me this can only be personal. I don't have to proof that people with faith can achieve more than people without faith. All I know is that it works for me. I am not an evangelist. I don't need to convert people to my belief.

If you don't liek religion: that is fine with me. But I thought there was a question behind your (this)thread. This is my answer.

if my answer doens't get you anywhere: no harm done.

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King of Men
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quote:
It doesn't really matter if it is true or not.
So you don't object, then, if someone reasons thusly:

1. God has told me to kill bootjes.
2. Therefore, I should kill bootjes.
3. It doesn't matter if 1 is true or not; what matters is the greater truth, which is that bootjes must die.

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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
It doesn't really matter if it is true or not.
So you don't object, then, if someone reasons thusly:

1. God has told me to kill bootjes.
2. Therefore, I should kill bootjes.
3. It doesn't matter if 1 is true or not; what matters is the greater truth, which is that bootjes must die.

Il like to answer this. But first:

are you trying to get answers?
or are you arguing for arguments sake?

Both are fine with me. But the latter will begin to bore me eventually whereas the fist will not.

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King of Men
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I am quite interested in what you think on this subject.
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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
I am quite interested in what you think on this subject.

(not exactly an answer but good enough for now)

If your question is about: "can religion be dangerous?"

Yes it can. I don't have to remind you Americans of David Koresh. But Christianity, Islam and most all other religions have their share of misuse.
But to throw away religion is to throw away the child while throwing away the water out of the bath. (Dutch saying)

That is why I am hesitant to say “religion is good, and all people should be religious”.
It just brings me (and many others) much.
I don’t use my religion to justify my actions. I am perfectly happy to account for my actions within society’s rules.

What would I do if someone would like to kill me because of his beliefs? Then I am glad to live in an society where state and religion are separate. I have protection against this person.

Now you would like to know what if my beliefs (deeply felt from within) are opposed to those of society? Fortunately my beliefs from within are live and let live. I wouldn’t hurt anyone for a greater goal. I could commit some lesser crime, but so could you if you had strong convictions. I would gladly pay the price.

Not so very different from you isn’t it? Except that non-physical stuff that for you doesn’t exist, and for me means the world.

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bootjes
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not a very good comparison but still:

The difference between with and without religion:

with: the first three star war films (well maybe only the first two), where the force is something quite . . . well something anyway.

without: the latter prequels, where the force is explained away by medichloridians (or whatever). Poef!! there goes the magic!

I like the world with magic.

May the force be with you.

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MattP
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quote:
I like the world with magic.
That people believe in the magic is not so much a problem. That people believe that the magic wants them to restrict the legal recognition of certain types of contracts...
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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I like the world with magic.
That people believe in the magic is not so much a problem. That people believe that the magic wants them to restrict the legal recognition of certain types of contracts...
I don't exactly know what contract you mean, but I do believe in seperation of state and religion. Religion interfering with state afairs can be a problem.

If I would want to go into local politics, I would not choose a religious party to do so. I don't expect people to take my magic in stead of an argument.

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bootjes
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o wait ! it's the gay marriage thing?

My church was the first to marry a gay couple in the Netherlands. Thankfully my church agrees with me on these matters. (or I wouldn't be part of it)

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King of Men
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Let me see if I can pin down your beliefs a bit more precisely. Do you believe that

a) Jesus had useful things to say on human morality?
b) Jesus rose from the dead after three days, and performed other miracles during his lifetime?
c) There exists a god?
d) ...who sometimes answers prayers, or otherwise intervenes in the physical world?

As for preferring to live in a world with magic, pff. The world is just as magical without fairies.

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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Let me see if I can pin down your beliefs a bit more precisely. Do you believe that

a) Jesus had useful things to say on human morality?
b) Jesus rose from the dead after three days, and performed other miracles during his lifetime?
c) There exists a god?
d) ...who sometimes answers prayers, or otherwise intervenes in the physical world?

As for preferring to live in a world with magic, pff. The world is just as magical without fairies.

a Yes
b no, not as such
c Yes , but he is not the guy on the cloud.
d prayers: Yes, but most often not in the way people think they are
Interventions: I think not: free will, remember?

then you get all the discussions about : "does coincidence exist?" I am a bit agnostic about this. I do have some great theory from someone about this.

Some other time.


I am going to sleep now. (almost 12 here)

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Tresopax
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quote:
The next time someone suggests any evidence for their faith that doesn't depend on internal mental states will be the first.
The Bible

quote:
Real evidence doesn't require you to be in a receptive mood to accept it; real evidence hits you over the head and forces you to accept it.
If that were actually true, most people would have no evidence for almost anything they believe in. If that were actually true, you certainly would have no evidence for anything you've said in this thread (otherwise you'd give that evidence, it would hit all of us over the head, and we'd all say "KOM is right!").

But it isn't true. Evidence is anything, whether it be powefully convincing or flimsy, that suggests a given belief is more likely to be true than alternative beliefs. Throwing out any of that evidence is irrational; it is akin to intentionally blinding yourself to something that could very well tip the scales of your belief. If you are acting rationally, conflicting evidence should be weighed against eachother, with powerful evidence trumping flimsy evidence, but flimsy evidence trumping no evidence at all.

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King of Men
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quote:
The Bible
Is contradicted by the Elder Edda. Which one are you going to believe and why?

quote:
a Yes
b no, not as such

Ok, fine, this part has nothing to do with religion.

quote:
c Yes , but he is not the guy on the cloud.
Never mind the second clause. I don't care what you don't believe. Just what do you believe is the nature of this god, and why?

quote:
d prayers: Yes, but most often not in the way people think they are
Ah! A testable assertion! How then do you account for the fact that no study, ever, has has shown any effect from prayer above that of chance?
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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
The Bible
Is contradicted by the Elder Edda. Which one are you going to believe and why?

quote:
a Yes
b no, not as such

Ok, fine, this part has nothing to do with religion.

quote:
c Yes , but he is not the guy on the cloud.
Never mind the second clause. I don't care what you don't believe. Just what do you believe is the nature of this god, and why?

quote:
d prayers: Yes, but most often not in the way people think they are
Ah! A testable assertion! How then do you account for the fact that no study, ever, has has shown any effect from prayer above that of chance?

this is where I get bored.


again my question:

is this argument for arguments sake?
or do you want answers?

Your questions lead me to believe the first.
I am not interested in making a case.
Therefore I don't have to prove anything.
Therefore I am not interested in testable things.
That discussion takes too much energy for me do in English at this moment. Others on this board do that a lot better than I. I keep on reading it because it's fun, but I will not post along those lines.

I do want to tell you about what religion means to me. (have already done a lot of it)

If you do want answers then make your questions more personal:
Why do you want to know about religion?

I don't see how the questions you ask are helpfull in any other way than just arguing. And that is not my intention. I posted here to give information, not to argue. This is my truth, let everybody be happy with theirs. By sharing we can let our thruths mature and grow.

You are not yet sharing. You are hanging on to the small truth. (not meaning to belittle you: small meaning in the sense of my previous post: the physical realm of true and not true) Small truths is what we base our day to day things on. Fine! That's why it is good to have seperation of state and religion. state affairs is also about small truths.

I wouldn't want a judge to ask god what verdict he should give. I do want a judge who asks god to give him wisdom and strength to give as good a verdict as he can based upon reason. I am also fine with a judge who doens't ask God anything as long he is out there to give a wise verdict.

PS
I dont know older Edda. The Bible is fine because in the storys lies much wisdom. But in other books as well. I am not saying that the bible holds the only truth.


So tell me, what do you really want with the questions? (and make your answer personal please)

[ July 02, 2008, 03:42 AM: Message edited by: bootjes ]

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bootjes
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One extra thing.

I just found out that God has given me things.

One of these things is that I have the patience to post answers to you. I used to want to proof my point. Now I just want to share. So I don't get upset as easily anymore with discussions.

Is this something I could have achieved without God? Yes I could. I just gave the process in which these and ohter things happend a name. That name is God because I grew up in a christian society. I found a church that helps me with this process, and that doens't do the questionable things that some other churches do. (like opposing gay marriage, and more in general: telling other people what is and what is not Gods will)

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Starsnuffer
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Firstly, KoM, I'm duly impressed with the vigor you have brought to this thread,and the rigor of your questioning.(heh... couldn't help but rhyme it..)Also, MattP, Megabyte, Tres, Bootjes, C3PO, and others, thanks for being interesting enough to keep me more than hour up later than I intended to.

I just read this whole thread and I think a recurring issue is confusing what is a purely theoretical argument (usually posed by KoM)and questioning of a stance on a position, in this case, the existence and significance of god, with an attack on the person who holds those specific beliefs.

I understood where KoM was coming from as he made extremely derisive comments about belief in what appear to be unfounded beliefs and waited eagerly to hear those comments smashed by a new argument. This new argument didn't come, though and the conversation morphed into a version of "hey, why are you being so mean to me?" Despite the fact that this was not at all what KoM intended(though he realized it could be an unfortunate side-affect.

here are a couple examples of this sort of dynamic occurring to get a sense of what I'm talking about: "'But even to mention the possibility that a belief in gods ought to be founded on some sort of evidence is considered disrespectful!'

'If you believe that this is what is being objected to when people say that you are rude and dismissive and offensive when discussing religion, then you do not have sufficient self-awareness of your behavior concerning this topic.'"


KoM(referring to an assertion made by bootjes that he believed in prayer): "'d prayers: Yes, but most often not in the way people think they are'

Ah! A testable assertion! How then do you account for the fact that no study, ever, has has shown any effect from prayer above that of chance??

Bootjes(in response):again my question: is this argument for arguments sake?
or do you want answers?

Your questions lead me to believe the first.
I am not interested in making a case.


If the questions were read as they were written, and responded to in the way I believe KoM intended(which is honestly desiring an answer, as I did), KoM might have been more satisfied, as I know I would be. However, the focus was placed on the underlying attitude of relentless pursuit and persecution that KoM exuded throughout this thread, and which people begin to feel as hostility toward them, and not on the question at hand. I hope this demonstration of what has been going on is at least slightly helpful in understanding why KoM seems so gosh-darned mean a lot of the time.

He, and I, for that matter... are focusing on the stance we have a qualm with, for example, that prayer has an influence on life, and so any questions regarding it will not be phrased with an endless list of qualifiers that say "Remember to not be offended that I am asking verification of something you hold so dearly" He is simply looking for that truth that he assumes you must have to base your embrace of prayer on, and that, in his mind, has no bearing on your feelings, only on your reasoning. On your same kind of reasoning that would go into supporting any other personal or communal activity.

Thank you for your time, and I hope I have expressed KoM's rationale through some of those seemingly irreverent times(this argument applied in the chocolate analogy also..). Feel free to dissociate this post from you if you feel mis-represented by it.

P.S. The sun is now rising here, as i was startled to realize by the now-blue sky. Crap. haha. Sleeping in.. sorta, at least.

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bootjes
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Thanks starsnuffer (you do your name honour by becoming nocturnal)

An elegant way of bringing things together.

I do not think that KoM is hostile. I do think that he is seriuos. I wouldn't have posted in this thread otherwise.

I cannot give KoM the logical answers he seeks. I can give personal answers. I think that seeking the kind of logic KoM and you are seeking in a discussion about religion is fine but without purpose. Not irrelevant!!!! Because by discussing it you can come to the heart of some things. But I think you will never get to the heart of religion by logic.

I refrain from the logical discussion because it's to abstract and difficult for me in English. I miss the words that I need to say precisely what I mean. Boredom comes from me being not that interested that I want to sit by the computer flipping trough dictionarys everytime I give a reply. It is not ment to be dismissive.

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Tresopax
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quote:
quote:
The Bible
Is contradicted by the Elder Edda. Which one are you going to believe and why?
One scientific study's conclusions conflicts with the results of another study; which do you believe and why? One logical argument conflicts with the conclusions of a different logical argument; which do you believe and why? One archeological dig leads to opposite conclusions about ancient man than artifacts found at an earlier dig do; which do you believe an why? Evidence is often contradicted by other evidence - you end up believing whichever evidence you judge to be most convincing, or figuring out an alternative that can explain both.
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Corwin
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quote:
One scientific study's conclusions conflicts with the results of another study; which do you believe and why?
You repeat the tests. Chances are, one study started from the wrong conditions.

quote:
One logical argument conflicts with the conclusions of a different logical argument; which do you believe and why?
One of them isn't logical...

quote:
One archeological dig leads to opposite conclusions about ancient man than artifacts found at an earlier dig do; which do you believe an why?
If those are the only two, and you have equally plausible theories for both, you're on hold waiting for more information. If you can form a plausible theory about one that implies that the data you get is somehow falsified, and can't do the same about the other, I favor the latter, but still wait for more information.
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
You may be able to find...
I'd like to amend this challenge a bit. It's not hard to find a Christian that claims to have once been an atheist. Atheists of this sort are generally, to borrow and mangle a phrase, "Sunday atheists", who check "none of the above" or "atheist" on the census form, but who have not necessarily put much thought into their position.

I'd like to see evidence of the conversion, including thoughtful descriptions of their state of mind from both before and after the conversion process indicating that the individual truly understood and embraced the skeptical arguments against religion prior to their conversion and how they reconciled those arguments with their new reality.

There are multiple examples going the other way - virtually every atheist I know was once religious and can clearly explain why they believed in their religion and why they eventually came to disbelieve.

Now you see, you've become the judge of "truly understood and embraced". I could offer my Grandmother as an example of what you're looking for, but you could then say she wasn't really taking atheism seriously, rigorously analyzing the facts and coming hastily to Christianity because she didn't know any alternative. And I could say your atheist friends were never truly Christians, having "believed" only because that's what everyone else did, and eventually decided to give up.

You consider your atheist convert friends able to clearly explain themselves in the "before" and "after" pictures, but you'll have a much harder time with an atheist converting to Christianity, or any other religion, because you'll question their arguments, attack their beliefs, and eventually, since the convert's analysis doesn't agree with yours, decide that he's being irrational.

I, as a believer, could cite my protestant Christian friends (who make up a significant minority of the local demographic). Some of them were once self-proclaimed atheists, a couple were Jews, and a few were both. I could say they lay out clearly reasoned arguments for what they've experienced and considered to have been led to the conclusion that Christianity is the real deal. But if someone "falls away from grace", to quote the Apostle Paul, of course I'm going to question what he believed in the first place. Were basically at a standstill, put one in judge of how smart someone was when they began to disagree with him, and he'll of course condemn him.

OR, we could stop making silly generalizations about who REALLY believes or disbelieves, and accept that most people really do believe what they say they believe.

My observation with atheism is that it's more often a gradual process, with fanatical Christians turning to Sunday Christians one generation, to "spiritual but not religious" the next, to Sunday atheists the next, and then finally to what you may consider true atheism. Most people I know who have foregone this process are at the third or fourth stage, but there are enough examples of the pattern continuing the way I predict that I can conclude that this pattern is one of the chief paths to atheism. I'm not saying that there aren't exceptions, but this is what I have seen as the norm, in contrast to what you said about almost all your atheist friends being fresh converts.

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MattP
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quote:
Now you see, you've become the judge of "truly understood and embraced".
No, I just want to see some indication that the position of atheism was a meaningful one rather than a convenient one. I would be a poor example in the other direction - I was baptized Catholic and attended several Protestant and Catholic churches while growing up and professed belief, but never really believed. I just emulated the people around me.

My conversion to atheism was from a position of more-or-less neutrality rather than from Christianity. It was result of my general embrace of skepticism and empiricism and a bit of inquiry into how cognitive biases color our perceptions rather than my disillusion with any particular sect or doctrine.

quote:
My observation with atheism is that it's more often a gradual process, with fanatical Christians turning to Sunday Christians one generation, to "spiritual but not religious" the next, to Sunday atheists the next, and then finally to what you may consider true atheism.
I don't think I said anything about abrupt transformations being the norm. What I said is that the atheists I know, for the most part, can state quite clearly how and why they believed - what their spiritual experiences were like and what they meant to them. They could also explain how these experiences were later discounted and discarded. This sort of clear narrative is very difficult to find amongst the atheist-turned-Christian convert.

Part of the problem is that "atheist" is so broad. In the sense that an atheist is merely someone who does not believe in God then surely many of these converts were atheists, but the type of individual that I (and I think KoM) have in mind is the skeptical, "rationalist" atheist - the person for whom atheism was a conclusion reached by logical deduction rather than emotional provocation or cultural conformity.

Once you've followed a path of reason that leads to the idea that God, at least as popularly imagined, is very unlikely to exist, there's a tremendous amount of work to do to untie that knot and convert to being a believer. I have never seen that knot untied.

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Tresopax
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quote:
What I said is that the atheists I know, for the most part, can state quite clearly how and why they believed - what their spiritual experiences were like and what they meant to them. They could also explain how these experiences were later discounted and discarded. This sort of clear narrative is very difficult to find amongst the atheist-turned-Christian convert.
In my experience, the opposite is true. The atheist-turned-Christians I've heard discuss the matter were able to explain their doubts and thoughts as atheists, and what experiences eventually let them to conclude God existed. It seems pretty common to go down the path of reasoning that God is very unlikely to exist, only to experience something later in life that fundamentally changes that reasoning and moves one back to religion. On the other hand, I don't think I've known any atheists in real life who have claimed to have spiritual experiences and yet later rejected those experiences. I know some exist, but I haven't found them to be common myself. Most atheists I've known who switched from Christianity seem to be folks who went along with it as children but never really saw any evidence of God, and ultimately rejected idea - often because they began to get annoyed by the behavior of fellow Christians.

Then again, it should be noted that I'm most likely to be hearing people discuss this topic while at church, where I'm more likely to hear a Christian explain what prompted them to convert than hear atheists explain how religious experiences are false.

[ July 02, 2008, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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MattP
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quote:
The atheist-turned-Christians I've heard discuss the matter were able to explain their doubts and thoughts as atheists, and what experiences eventually let them to conclude God existed.
Could you provide an example? Perhaps point to an online conversion story, or just summarize one you've been told?

quote:
Most atheists I've known who switched from Christianity seem to be folks who went along with it as children but never really saw any evidence of God, and ultimately rejected idea - often because they began to get annoyed by the behavior of fellow Christians.
Are you including the Hatrackers in this tally? There are several atheists here and I doubt *any* of them would indicate that their conversion was primarily because of annoyance with other Christians. That's a counter-logical justification that wouldn't likely turn up in the skeptical flavor of atheist that I mentioned. It's a reason to leave a congregation or quit a religion, not a reason to disbelieve in God.
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King of Men
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Tres, please explain why you believe the Bible over the elder Edda.

MattP, you do seem to be edging into a "no true atheist" argument there.

quote:
I cannot give KoM the logical answers he seeks. I can give personal answers.
You would not accept a "personal" answer in any other context. This is just privileging a particular belief because it is in the box labeled 'religion', and you have been carefully trained not to think very hard about the contents of that box. You even admit it! "I cannot give a logical answer"! Well then, if you cannot defend your belief, how can you hold it? It is as though you have two minds, one which demands evidence when it is told a fact, and another which just accepts what it is told. It is, bluntly, scary. Today your religion accepts gay marriage and doesn't bother others. What will you do tomorrow when you suddenly feel that gay marriage isn't so great after all, and those who don't believe are a danger to your society?
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MattP
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quote:
MattP, you do seem to be edging into a "no true atheist" argument there.
I realize that, though I hope that I haven't quite crossed the line. I'm getting a bit beyond academic discussion and into my personal bugaboos so its probably best that I just let it drop.

I am intensely interested and simultaneously intensely befuddled by the idea of faith over reason or the peculiar application of reason used by religious people and am probably looking for a conversion story from someone that looks more or less like me prior to the conversion to clear up some of that confusion.

I fear that I'll never find a satisfactory explanation which is all good and well for distant esoterica like the conditions that formed the universe or the first life, but which is somewhat more frustrating when it's the mechanations in the mind of the guy sitting in the next cubicle.

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TomDavidson
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You might want to talk to Jeff (aka Rakeesh). I've never discussed his conversion to Mormonism with him, but at one point he (along with aka) was a bit of an Atheist Crusader around here. I'm not sure either of them were ever particularly skeptical people, though.
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katharina
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Your doppelganger, MattB, self-identified as an atheist for a while once upon a time.
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Tresopax
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quote:
Could you provide an example? Perhaps point to an online conversion story, or just summarize one you've been told?
I actually don't think I could talk about someone else's conversion in any detail unless I knew them very well. I mean, I know of several cases where they firmly rejected the notion of God but then experienced a death or trauma and reconsidered their beliefs, deciding to convert to Christianity - but I couldn't give you the details needed to make any of those examples useful for this discussion because I don't know any of them well. They are basically people who have spoken about it at church. With close friends who I actually know well, the topic usually doesn't come up much.

quote:
Are you including the Hatrackers in this tally? There are several atheists here and I doubt *any* of them would indicate that their conversion was primarily because of annoyance with other Christians. That's a counter-logical justification that wouldn't likely turn up in the skeptical flavor of atheist that I mentioned. It's a reason to leave a congregation or quit a religion, not a reason to disbelieve in God.
I wasn't including Hatrackers.

But in truth, most atheists I know in real life who I am counting probably wouldn't say that's why they switched to atheism, but they act in a way that makes me believe that was a big part of it. I think people of all parts of the spectrum, including atheists and the religious, believe themselves to be more rational about their beliefs than they are. This was true for the examples of atheist-to-Christian conversions I alluded to above too.

quote:
Tres, please explain why you believe the Bible over the elder Edda.
I believe the Bible over the elder Edda because I don't know what the elder Edda says and I don't know anyone who considers it historically accurate, whereas the Bible seems usually consistent with the world I've observed and is widely considered accurate by people whom I trust.
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kmbboots
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I am copying one of my posts from another thread in case the wording of it is helpful to bootjes.

quote:
KoM, your being able to understand why my belief in God makes sense to me would require a fundamental shift in how you think of God. Or rather, a fundamental shift in how you think I think of God. I don't think you particularly want to make that shift and I don't feel any particular need to try and make you.
Bootjes, if you have more energy for this than I do, go for it. I have been unable to shake KoM's "superman in the sky" idea of God.
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King of Men
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You have also been completely unable to explain just what it is you actually do believe about your god and why, which may have something to do with it.

quote:
I believe the Bible over the elder Edda because I don't know what the elder Edda says
Bing! Thank you for playing. Mental states, indeed: In this particular case, the mental state of having been exposed to the Bible but not the Eddas.

The elder Edda is actually considered quite reliable by scholars of Norse history, except of course for the accounts of miracles. It is really extremely similar to the way the Bible is considered to give a reasonable account of the fall of the Israelite kingdoms, again excepting the miracles.

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