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Does God Exist?

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jbouder
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0 posted 11-23-1999 12:47 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Pursuant to Brad's request I am posting this thread but, because religion can be a very touchy subject, I would suggest that your replies be as civil and tactful as possible.

To the questions (*see general definitions below):

1.  Does God exist?

2.  Is theism* rational?

3.  Is it necessary that arguments for theism be rational/objective or can there be valid arguments made from subjective, personal experience?

4.  If you are a non-theist* or deist*, how are you able to differentiate between right and wrong?  What, then, is your ethical standard (your right/wrong plumbline)?

5.  If "theist" best describes you, why and how are you certain that your ethical standards are valid?

That should be plenty to get the discussion going.  Please remember to be tactful.  Here are some general definitions to get you started:

Theist:  "God is there and He is not silent."
Deist:  "God is there and He IS silent."
Atheist:  "There is no God."
Agnostic (Hard):  "We cannot know if God exists."
Agnostic (Soft):  "I do not know if God exists."

These defined categories are not exhaustive. They are merely meant to be a general overview of the different views out there.  Also, feel free to broaden your answers beyond the scope of the question(s) if you must.

Now let's have fun.  


------------------
Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  -Martin Luther



[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 12-10-1999).]
Brad
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1 posted 11-25-1999 01:48 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim,
Don't suppose you want to talk about any other difficult topics why you're at it?

I've got to keep this short for the moment but I will say that I put myself in the hard agnostic crowd as you define it. If you look at spiritual beliefs as, in a certain way, that consciousness came before matter (broadly speaking) while the aetheist approach is matter before consciousness, I think the question moves away from superstition versus reason. To be able to prove God's existence seems to defeat the purpose -- you gotta have faith. On the other hand, I think most of us already know that it's impossible to prove that something doesn't exist. Therefore, we can never prove God's existence or lack thereof. Conversely, if you believe in God, proof is everywhere to be found.

I'd like to ask what is the importance of God's existence anyway? Believing in God may be important for some of the above reasons mentioned (I'll have to come back to discuss the other stuff) but I wonder at times if it really matters if there is a God or not. Am I making an overly subtle distinction here? How does it change things?

My problem with some aetheists and some overzealous believers is their self righteousness, not their actual belief systems. There's no room for doubt and no room for just plain being wrong.

Brad

destiny502
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2 posted 11-27-1999 01:12 PM       View Profile for destiny502   Email destiny502   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for destiny502

i cannot begin to count the times i have wondered if god exists. it gets to a point where i think its not possible for there to be a god..just because it makes no sense. one "being", or whatever god is considered to be, in control of billions of people? i've talked about this with only one of my friends and she thinks the same way..only she believes in god. I would say i am both hard and soft agnostic. sometimes i'm an atheist and a deist. it just depends on how things are going in my life. makes no sense but thats how it is.
Trevor
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3 posted 11-28-1999 03:19 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

"1. Does God exist?"

...shrugged shoulders....

"2. Is theism* rational?"

When first practised, yes, today, no, but I believe it could be if people would stop believing so diligently in books that were written thousands of years ago as an explanation to their universe. I think there is enough room for both science and religion. If there is a God then one could say science is part of the master plan and if there isn't a God, maybe science can build one

"3. Is it necessary that arguments for theism be rational/objective or can there be valid arguments made from subjective, personal experience?"

I think there is a place for both. The only problem with personal experience is that it usually remains such and attempting to "prove" a personal experience to another person can be difficult.

"4. If you are a non-theist* or deist*, how are you able to differentiate between right and wrong? What, then, is your ethical standard (your right/wrong plumbline)?"

Empathy...."do on to others as you would have done onto yourself" isn't just a quote. If one has a firm grip on shared pain and pleasure then one can have morals without a God. If a person's laughter makes you smile and their sadness makes you cry then this might be a good standard for morality....I think the majority of people are empathetic and know inheritly when they are doing good or bad....and often religions confuse much of what is truly good and what is truly bad. ie. there is nothing wrong with sex between two consenting adults who are not married yet in many religions this is a grave sin, punishable by going to hell....lets see, unwed sex and murder get the same punishment....that seems fair

For the record I'm a Soft Agnostic.

BRAD:
"I'd like to ask what is the importance of God's existence anyway? Believing in God may be important for some of the above reasons mentioned (I'll have to come back to discuss the other stuff) but I wonder at times if it really matters if there is a God or not. Am I making an overly subtle distinction here? How does it change things?"

I agree unless we all found out there was a heaven and hell...then I think a lot of people would change their behaviour. It shouldn't matter if their is a God or not and people shouldn't just do good out of fear of God....any rational mind can see that living life as a good person is a far more fruitful course of action than being a son of a bitch....I'm a firm believer in the ripple effect.

Take care everyone,
Trevor

[This message has been edited by Trevor (edited 11-29-1999).]
jbouder
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4 posted 11-29-1999 11:26 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Okay, finally, I see, some brave souls posted some replies. Now here I go:

1. Does God exist? Yes, I believe God exists.

2. Is theism rational? Theism, I believe, is rational. Theists, however, make up a good bit of my short list of some of the least rational people I have ever met. Many are even worse than Socialists!

3. Is it necessary that arguments for theism be rational/objective or can there be valid arguments made from subjective, personal experience? Rational/objective is certainly of greater value to a skeptic (such as myself)than personal experience. How can you differentiate a spiritual experience of "a burning in one's bosom" from heart-burn from too much coffee? I think theism should be put to the same tests of argumentation as any other position. If it does not survive the scrutiny, then it should be tossed away with the first draft of the Humanist Manifesto and Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" (sorry, couldn't resist. ). Relying on the validity of an unverifiable spiritual experience of another only opens the door to abuse and manipulation, if you ask me.

4. Does not apply to me (a theist).

5. If "theist" best describes you, why and how are you certain that your ethical standards are valid? I believe my standards are valid because I believe my source is reliable (Why? ... see below).

BRAD:

You make an excellent point. Why does it matter? And Trevor, I think, touched on a reason why it is. "If God exists, is He okay with me or is He really ticked off?" But more important to me than saving my own skin is finding reliable answers to the questions philosophy endoevers to answer but never quite does so: Who am I? Where am I going? What is my purpose in life? Where do I go to find the answers to these questions?

I think the next logical question is "Is my source reliable?". I have been digesting this question for a long time (long for a 30 year old anyway). And, at least for the time being, I believe I have found the most reliable source to date to be, generally, Protestant Christianity and, specifically, Reformation Lutheranism.

I mentioned once before that I believe this perspective is correct for several reasons. Lutheranism over other Christian dogmas because of its approach to the interpretation of the Bible (exegetically ... getting meaning out of ... rather than isogetically ... placing meaning in ...). Christianity over other world religions for reasons including, but not limited to, the verifiability of many of its claims by means of legal/historical reasoning (See "Testamony of the Evangelists" by 19th century Harvard Evidence scholar, Simon Greenleaf and "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis), and conformity of its historical claims to much of the archeological data recovered in the Middle East to date (see the classic The Bible as History by Werner Keller).

TREVOR:

I agree that many theists seem to get hung up on seemingly peripheral issues. I am tempted at times to become a closet theist to avoid being grouped with many popular Christian theists (just kidding). I just want you to know that we are not all without focus .

DESTINY:

You have many good questions and are in good company (Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc., etc., etc.).


------------------
Jim

"If I rest, I rust." -Martin Luther

[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 11-29-1999).]

[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 11-29-1999).]
BlOoD TiEs
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5 posted 12-05-1999 12:15 AM       View Profile for BlOoD TiEs   Email BlOoD TiEs   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit BlOoD TiEs's Home Page   View IP for BlOoD TiEs

I just had to get my quick view out in the open

Im an atheist because i beleive in Science and reason
religon is just one of the things that people didnt shake off before technology became more advanced.

i dont want to make anybody take offence or anything but i have yet to see anything that i couldnt explain with science or that i couldnt say that technology hasn't taken us there yet

------------------
Dont bet on fast horses, bet on slow rabits.
jbouder
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6 posted 12-07-1999 03:50 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

BT:

Science is not the only discipline whereby we gain knowledge.  Scientific method requires that hypotheses be tested in a controlled environment and are vindicated by the reproducability of their results.

There are certain things we know to be true dispite their not being "scientific" proofs.  Napolean losing Waterloo, for example, is a true statement but not a scientific statement.  It is, rather, a historical statement.  

If God wanted to make Himself known, it would be in time and space (that is, history).  I won't elaborate here, but anyone interested can check out the sources I mentioned above.  Anthony Flew (a prominent athiest) actually considered some of C. S. Lewis' arguments to be well reasoned.

Aquinas made some compelling arguments for God's existance by observing the natural order of the universe in his works and Aristotle's Prime Mover idea, expressing many of the same ideas, is also very good.

No offense taken, BT.  We all have our opinions.  Just remember that science does not hold a majority share in determining truth.  If it did, why are we wasting our time in this forum?  

†Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  -Martin Luther




[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 12-07-1999).]
BlOoD TiEs
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7 posted 12-08-1999 06:47 PM       View Profile for BlOoD TiEs   Email BlOoD TiEs   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit BlOoD TiEs's Home Page   View IP for BlOoD TiEs

To myslinky:
Ok people have asked me this alot of times.
The Big Bang Theary as I see it to be goes something like this. The universe evolved from a single atom floating around in vast nothingness. Nothingness is a subject not many people pick up on easily. This atom split and multiplied and mutated and all that other good chemistry stuff that I cant rememeber from last term.
It formed big hug peices of particles and tiny microscopic particles. You can try it at home! Take a medium sized rock and drop it from a building. Let the rock represent the atom. When you drop it take note that when the rock breaks up it forms many different sized peices. Think of those peices to be planets stars and other things. Also note of how all the peices move away from the impact point. Just how the galaxys are constantly moving. Another reason why I am an atheist is because if there was a God He would be have been more neat then to leave all his ingredients laying around all over the place because ever single thing in our body can be found somewhere in the universe. From the calcium in our bones to the protein in our blood to the vitamins in our stomach from the cereal we had this mornin can be found in outer space. If God created the world I would think that He would just do it in a more magical manner. Like, "Hmm I feel like making...." and before he could finish that sentence poof there we were in a brand spankin new universe and nice little blue planet to boot. Why would he create the extra stuff in space. Why would he create a world with pain, murder and destruction. The world is a ruthless and savage place where everything we do revolves around having sex, or passing on our genes. We cant help it, its in our DNA code. Its the reason we were born. Its the reason that our species has evolved into what it is today because we are constantly looking for a way to have sex. The fact that our brains are massively complex allows there to be other priorities, but who here doesnt want to grow up and get married and have children. EVERYTHING revolves around it. Not a single thing doesnt. I am going somewhere with this DNA coded sex machine stuff. We are the master species of Earth because of our traits, we evolved from lesser beings which evolved from something lesser all the way till get to that first creation of life like a gagilion years ago that was happened due to a mixture of chemicals and minerals and other stuff. God didnt create life it happened on its own.

Another thing I wanted to get out before I wrap this up is that I am a firm believer that a person is generally smart but when they come together they are pretty stupid and gullible, and believe just about everything.

I went and started rambling and probably lost sight of the original question.
I have too many ideas and my teenage mind blurs em up real good.

 Dont bet on fast horses, bet on slow rabits.
jbouder
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8 posted 12-09-1999 11:27 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hey folks!

BT:

"The Big Bang Theary as I see it to be goes something like this. The universe evolved from a single atom floating around in vast nothingness."

What the Big Bang Theory doesn't tell us is where that super-dense piece of proto-matter originated from.  There are certain scientific laws known as the Laws of Thermodynamics, one of which includes the law of conservation of matter and energy.  What this law postulates is that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form.

Did thermodynamic law not apply during the Big Bang event or was matter pre-existant or eternal?  It is this element of the Big Bang Theory that leaves room for a Prime Mover or Uncaused Cause or God, if you will.

"This atom split and multiplied and mutated and all that other good chemistry stuff that I cant rememeber from last term. It formed big huge pieces of particles and tiny microscopic particles. You can try it at home! Take a medium sized rock and drop it from a building. Let the rock represent the atom. When you drop it take note that when the rock breaks up it forms many different sized peices. Think of those peices to be planets stars and other things. Also note of how all the peices move away from the impact point. Just how the galaxys are constantly moving."

Another scientific law, the Law of Entropy, postulates that the universe is becoming less, as opposed to more, organize as the universe "cools down" or loses energy.  Are you suggesting that the Law of Entropy did not apply in the proto-universe?

"Another reason why I am an atheist is because if there was a God He would be have been more neat then to leave all his ingredients laying around all over the place because ever single thing in our body can be found somewhere in the universe. ... If God created the world I would think that He would just do it in a more magical manner."

So what you are saying is you do not believe God exists because you cannot understand why He did what He did in the way that He did it.

"Why would he create a world with pain, murder and destruction."

Would a world where we could not make any of our own choices (even bad ones) be a better world in which to live or no?

"Another thing I wanted to get out before I wrap this up is that I am a firm believer that a person is generally smart but when they come together they are pretty stupid and gullible, and believe just about everything."

This applies to everyone, BT.  General population, theologians, philosophers, and scientists alike.  Phrenology (the study of skull lumps) was once regarded as a science.  The Nebraska Man fraud was touted as good science for years.  

What makes us gullible and stupid is our unwillingness to investigate and question things.  "Don't confuse me with the facts, I've already made up my mind."  This attitude only serves to weaken us.

I will reiterate that science is not the sole means available to man to acquire knowledge.  I would add, while not minimizing its value as a tool, that science has definite limitations.

I'll be interested to see what you think.


 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." -Martin Luther

jbouder
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9 posted 12-10-1999 08:52 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

myslinky:

I do agree with you insomuch as theists are not the only irrational people.  But I qualify this by saying that too many theists are irrational when it comes to their beliefs.  Keep in mind that this is merely an observation and is also my personal opinion.

"I think that most people that have strong convictions about any given topic forget that there could be other possibilities.  They also forget that humans are not pefect: therefore, there is room for mistakes, miscalculations, and misunderstandments."

I agree with this but, again, I think both sides of any given argument are just as likely to be guilty of this (and often are).

"Explaining or defending spiritual beliefs can become difficult when there are so many different opinions.  I guess that there is no way of convincing anybody that there is a God.  Its all a matter of will and faith!"

I agree with your first statement but, personally, have to disagree with the second.  The reason why theists have difficulty explaining their positions is, quite frankly, because they themselves are not really familiar with their positions.  But delving too far into this is for another thread (or another forum), I think.

I disagree that it is all a matter of faith and will.  If that was true I would most definitely NOT be a theist.  I would more likely be a soft agnostic as I was in high school.  I think there is evidence that supports the notion of God's existence and, therefore, I believe my faith is founded on fact.  I also disagree that there is no way to convince someone that there is a God (I am one of those people who was convinced by the facts).

Thanks so much for responding to my thread.  I appreciate your input and look forward to seeing more of your "stuff" in the forum.

 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." -Martin Luther

Tara Simms
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10 posted 12-11-1999 11:30 PM       View Profile for Tara Simms   Email Tara Simms   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Tara Simms's Home Page   View IP for Tara Simms

Yes, there is a God.  I know this because I have felt His presence in my life.  When I have been at my worst, I have felt His love and comfort.  When the rest of the world seems to be out to get me, I know that He is in my corner.  

There are no accidents in the universe.  I refuse to believe that all the planets, stars, etc came to be by accident.  Everything has to be made by someone.  The watch I wear is a fairly simple creation.  However, it didn't just come together by itself.  Someone had to do it.  



 It matters not how strait the gate;
How charged with punishments the scroll;
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
--W.E. Henley


fjones
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11 posted 12-12-1999 02:58 PM       View Profile for fjones   Email fjones   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fjones

Yes God Exists. If you are just at the place of wondering about Him, you are not ready to KNOW Him;
But arguing with you about His existence will not take you a step closer to Him. When you are ready to meet Him personally He will come to you! Then you will know He not only exists but also loves you.

Guess I donít have to address any more questions you must know what my answers are.
Brad
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12 posted 12-12-1999 06:48 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, it seems we have the normal parameters in this debate more or less set up.  There are those who KNOW there is a God and those who KNOW there is no God.  Great, were back to where we started (and the major problem I see on both sides of this argument is a certain condenscension. This bothers me because I think both positions are legitimate).  

What is this about evidence, Jim?  Let's see some (this doesn't have to be a formal debate, of course, anecdotal and emotional arguments seem okay to me).

On the other hand, what Jim mentioned about science is also true: the Big Bang is a far stranger idea than one atom because, well, that atom supposedly included time and space as well -- there's nothing in that nothing and then you get into the whole idea of alternate universes and/or energy in the vacuum stuff (and you think the idea of God is strange?).  What physicists are really saying when the laws of physics break down (so much for laws if you think about it) is that they don't have the faintest idea what's going on in black holes or in the Big Bang.  And of course then there's the whole idea of quantum mechanics which actually argues that things happen probablistically which means that the moon can just disappear at some point in time for no particular reason.

I've already stated my position: both points are valid but does it really matter?  I'm interested in seeing if we can take this debate a little further.  I honestly don't know if it's possible but I've been surprised before.

Brad
Ron
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13 posted 12-12-1999 06:55 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

What is five divided by zero?
Brad
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14 posted 12-12-1999 07:28 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Uhmmmmm, Ron, IS there an answer to that question?
Tara Simms
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Why the pressing need for evidence?  As someone stated earlier, that's what faith is about.  Believing in something, for no other reason than the fact that you DO believe.  Faith is the ability to believe in that which is not seen....to accept what is not intelluctualluy known.... If there was a stack of evidence sitting around to prove that there was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a God, it wouldn't be faith to believe.  It'd be logic.

 It matters not how strait the gate;
How charged with punishments the scroll;
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
--W.E. Henley


Ron
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16 posted 12-12-1999 09:54 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Uhmmmmm, Ron, IS there an answer to that question?


Actually, Brad, there are three possible answers.

1. Talk to a typical mathematician (or a computer), and you'll be told the operation is simply illegal. Talk to a good mathematician, and he'll tell you the operation in undefined.

2. Looked at logically, the answer seems simple. Divide 5 by 1 and the answer is 5. Divide 5 by .5 and the answer is 10. Divide 5 by .0001 and the answer is 50,000. The smaller the divisor, the larger the answer. Ergo, 5 divided by 0 should equal infinity.

3. In 9th grade geometry I had my teacher convinced I had solved one of those "unsolvable" problems (can't remember which one). Took him two days to work through my proof, but eventually he showed me where I had inadvertently divided by a variable that had to equal zero. Later, using the same principles, I did a mathematical "proof" that two equaled five. And that is why any physicist will tell you that any number divided by zero - is any answer you want it to be.

All three answers, of course, are the same. Mathematics doesn't allow the operation because the answer is any of an infinite number of answers. Or, as Stephen Hawking put it in his popular science book, A Brief History of Time, "anything is possible."

Is this pertinent to a discussion about God? Consider that Einstein's equations on Special Relativity "prove" nothing with mass can ever exceed the speed of light - because to do so requires division by zero. Consider that in the case of a black hole gravity is so extreme that even light cannot escape - which is just another way of saying the rate of falling exceeds the speed of light. Consider that the Big Bang theory postulates the greatest black hole of all, the entire Universe squished by its own gravity into a non-spatial singularity. One massive division by zero error!

What if God is simply someone who knows how to successfully divide by zero?  

Okay, seriously - mathematics can't prove the existence of God. But mathematics does prove the possibility of omnipotence. The more we learn about the Universe we can see, the more we discover that science and religion aren't the adversaries we once thought them to be. If God works in mysterious ways, maybe it's just because we don't yet understand the science behind His machinations?
jbouder
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17 posted 12-13-1999 10:34 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hello again everyone.

BRAD:

"There are those who KNOW there is a God and those who KNOW there is no God.  Great, were back to where we started (and the major problem I see on both sides of this argument is a certain condenscension. This bothers me because I think both positions are legitimate)."

I agree with you that both positions are legitimate.  But I do not share your concern about the "certain condescension" you do.  I think when most people say they "KNOW" they are actually saying they "BELIEVE".  This "KNOWLEDGE" is not usually a result of induction but, rather, a personal "KNOWLEDGE" or feeling of belief.  But as we both "know", the most convincing "knowledge" to the skeptic is the "knowledge" gained by higher reasoning.  

"What is this about evidence, Jim?  Let's see some (this doesn't have to be a formal debate, of course, anecdotal and emotional arguments seem okay to me)."

Anecdotal and emotional ... you smarta**!!!  

"Knowing God" is not something I think is possible for a person to do by his or her own efforts because, as you pointed out earlier, God is transcendent.  In order to be known God has to make himself known in time and space and, most theists will agree, he does so in two ways:  Generally and specifically or specially.  "General" revelation is more or less a "fingerprint", so to speak, of God that we witness in creation.  From it we can begin to know certain basic attributes of God.  From the orderliness of the natural order we can surmise that God is a God of order.  Good thing for us that negatives and positives attract at the molecular level or else so much for reality as we know it!  Earth just happens to have all of the necessary elements necessary for the support of human life.  By the universe's vastness and complexity we can begin to know of God's omnipotense, omniscience and omnipresence.  These are some of the "evidences" I was refering to.

Ron seems to be the mathmatician of the group ... maybe we can find out from him what the probabilities are of, not only the earth becoming habitable and capable of sustaining life, but also, what the probability of amino acids forming single celled protozoa, then so on and so forth until we have mankind ALL within the timeframe of what science believes to be the age of the universe.  I think what we would find is that the possibility for the spontenious eruption of life, even under the best of circumstances, is a virtual impossibility.

While nothing about general revelation reveals any "personal" attributes of God (love, justice, etc.), it does suggest that God does exist, that He is, if not all-powerful, powerful enough to create the universe and all of the life within it and that He has adequate knowledge to do so.  I don't want to write a book here on General revelation (some of you may think I already have   ) but I can assure you that this does not even begin to scratch the surface.

"Special" revelation is God's revelation of Himself to man in space and time.  Of the two (general and special), Special revelation is the more revealing and, consequently, more controversial.  The Moslems believe Allah revealed Himself to Mohamhed through an archangel (I think) when Mohamhed wrote the Koran.  Jews and Christians believe (for the most part) that God revealed Himself and spoke through the writers (prophets, historians and POETS even!) of the Christian Old Testament and the Christians believe God "inspired" the New Testament writers (Apostles ... eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus Christ ... and companions of Apostles).  

If you are interested in putting these claims to historical tests then I have to recommend, again, the book by the German Journalist, Werner Keller, "The Bible as History".  There is also a good book called "Does God Exist?  The Great Debate" which is actually the transcripts and commentary on a debate between Kye Nielson, a Canadian athiest, and J. P. Moreland, an American Christian theist.  The material is a bit advanced but it is the only book that I know of that approaches the question from both sides, unslanted, inside the covers of one book.  

"Special" revelation becomes a touchy issue because it begins to delve into religious doctrine and dogma.  The debates become, in my opinion, more personal and less civil and, I for one, would prefer to focus on the "General" revelation issue in this thread.  It's not up to me, of course, but I would prefer that such a touchy question as that of God's existence remain as civil as possible.  I am not here to make any enemies.  

"I've already stated my position: both points are valid but does it really matter?"

I think that is a very personal question.  If you have concluded that it doesn't matter then I would ask, "Why do you think so?"  I can understand a theist concluding that it does matter and an athiest concluding that it does not, but a "soft" agnostic concluding that he does not know but has concluded that it is not important to know ... not quite following here.

RON:

I am in agreement with you in much of your reply.  I am not of the mind that theology and science are controdictory.  How many times have scientist climbed the mountain of knowledge to reach its summit, only to find the theologians waiting for them at the top?  And, on the other side of the coin, how many times has good science foiled bad religious practice?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Stephen Hawking takes a more committed stance on the question of God's existence in "A Brief History of Time" than an "anything is possible" position.  I am not suggesting you are saying this but, again, if I recall correctly, Hawking believes that there is a God moreso out of the necessity of a Prime Mover than by any religious conviction (my books are all in storage so I am going to have to rely on you for this information).

MYSLINKY:

I don't want you to think that you shouldn't say anything more on the subject.  That was never my intention and apologize if I came across that way.  I think many believers in God are taught that "it all amounts to faith" and, while I agree that there is, at some point a necessity for faith, there is plenty of good information out there to support the theist's beliefs.  Again, I am sorry if I came across as harsh ... that was not my intention.

  


 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." - Martin Luther

Rosebud1229
Senior Member
since 04-05-2000
Posts 1829
North Carolina


18 posted 05-08-2000 01:03 PM       View Profile for Rosebud1229   Email Rosebud1229   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Rosebud1229

I can say without a doubt that I believe in God. If you go back to our founding fathers you would see they also believed in God. Our nation needs to get back to God. Let's start with the ten commandments. More and more we are letting God become nonexistent what happen's if he does the same? Just a thought. Even the Atheist call on God in a crisis. Our nation is founded upon God . Ever wonder why  we are so strong because it's upon his rock we stand.

 
&dispose
Junior Member
since 01-30-2000
Posts 18


19 posted 05-08-2000 09:43 PM       View Profile for &dispose   Email &dispose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for &dispose

Ever heard of "Pascal's Wager"?

Using probablity, Pascal (a dedicated Christian) made his argument that we should believe in God using probability:
(E(x) = Expected Value)

I believe in God:

p    |  God Exists         |  Infinite Gain
1-p  |  God Does Not Exist |  Small Loss

E(x) = (p - inifinity + (1-p)(-x)) = infinity


 "I am not your savior, I am just as f****d as you."
- Stabbing Westward

&dispose
Lucius Cade
Member
since 03-23-2000
Posts 239
Saskatchewan


20 posted 05-10-2000 02:56 PM       View Profile for Lucius Cade   Email Lucius Cade   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Lucius Cade

I think for us to say if God is for real or not, we have to look into history to try to explain why we beleive or want to beleive in a God.

Lets go back to greek times, when we had zues and hates, and all that jazz. Why do you suppose they made those gods up? Because they needed an explanation for the things around them, for there lives, a reason to live.

That same reasoning hasnt changed at all today. All the religions that have come to since the greek gods have all been made with for the same reason, and christianity is no exception.

But the fact that God is REAL or not doesnt really matter. There is a need to beleive in a greater being in society and that is why people do. The fact that some people today choose not to just shows that they are confident in themselves and can live there lives without fear of death. But most people are not that strong and need a God or gods to depend on. That is my theory, I have only gone 1/100 into it, but I wanted to make my point short and simple for this forum.

If anyone else shares the same ideas as myself email me and we can discuss this.

wintonyk@sk.sympatico.ca

 Lucidity is the answer to all problems
Lucius Cade
Member
since 03-23-2000
Posts 239
Saskatchewan


21 posted 05-10-2000 02:59 PM       View Profile for Lucius Cade   Email Lucius Cade   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Lucius Cade

btw myslinky, the big bang was proven.
But the reason for it is not know



 Lucidity is the answer to all problems
Lucius Cade
Member
since 03-23-2000
Posts 239
Saskatchewan


22 posted 05-10-2000 03:14 PM       View Profile for Lucius Cade   Email Lucius Cade   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Lucius Cade

Also myslinky, the book of genesis is pretty much as good as a book about the hardy boys if you are talking about beleiving it.
Human beings made everyone book in the bible up, and the probability of them all being false is much greater then them being true in word.

Morally, the bible makes sense, but you cant take it literally because you will just get caught up in a false fantasy world after death that probably doesnt exist.

And I have to disagree when you say theists are irrational people. I think the opposite, people who beleive strongly in God totally shut out other possibilities. And in the face of difference, they just yell the word "faith" and turn the other way. I have had this happen to me so many times I have stopped counting. So when someone speaks of faith I have to think, are they using that as an excuse for there argument? or do some really think that faith in a God will take them places others dont go?

If you ponder the question of faith long enough, you may realize its true meaning is not absolute faith like many beleive should be. But sceptible faith is a smarter move on anyones part.

Sorry for rambling on.

 Lucidity is the answer to all problems
Robin Goodfellow
Junior Member
since 06-29-99
Posts 26


23 posted 05-10-2000 04:31 PM       View Profile for Robin Goodfellow   Email Robin Goodfellow   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Robin Goodfellow

Wow, I have truly learned a few new perspectives. The 5/0 equation put a lot of things in a new light. I wont go into them right now.
I am truly out of my league with you guys. =o) But I have but two points I can go into.

You make it sound as if being christian will give you the secret extra pages in the handbook of life. When in reality it tears a few pages out of your copy. It puts you in blinders and thrusts you focal point upwards then whispers bad things about what you saw before you had them on. "Whatever thoughts you made on your own were wrong, let us set you straight."
Religion is a the thing that goes bump in the night. You never know what it is, but it terrifies you. You can rationalize till dawn but you'll never know what it was because its already happened and gone. Creation was the ultimate "THUD!" where there never should have been one. And everything that was effected by it is spinning its poor head around and asking "What the heck was that?" "Where did it come from?" "What made that noise?" I don't know where it all began, I dont know why it all began. I know one thing though, Life is far to temporary to be anything more than curious about it.
I always loved Douglas Admam's version of it.
"There is a theory which states  that  if  ever  anyone  discovers exactly  what  the  Universe  is  for and why it is here, it will
instantly disappear  and  be  replaced  by  something  even  more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another  theory  which  states  that  this  has  already happened."
Makes you want to smile doesn't it?


The only other point I can make is the one on being Right or Wrong. How did it ever come about that the Church and Bible set our moral standards? It should be done as it always has been, the masses setting the standard with the upper minority setting a better example and the lower minority keeping it in balance. Now that's humanity at it's best. The thing I find rather odd is that the bible doesn't say whats right or wrong, it just lets you know what will get you into the "club" and what will get you kicked out. We just instantly made that the standard. I mean if you really think about it, we found our rules in the Bible. That's fine it encourages stagnation which in turn keeps people calm and convinces them its for their own good. But what exactly is the reliabilty of our source? God had no guiding light. He knew no repremand when he stepped out of line. What made him see what was right or wrong? He could be a sadistic lunatic, laughing down his sleeve at us as we speak. Imagine that for a moment doesnt't that make your mind spin? =o)


 "The one-eyed view of our universe says you must not look far afield for problems. Such problems may never arrive. Instead, tend to the wolf within your fences. The packs ranging outside may not even exist" ~ The Azhar Book; Shamra 1:4
Cypher
Junior Member
since 02-19-2000
Posts 17


24 posted 05-11-2000 06:41 PM       View Profile for Cypher   Email Cypher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Cypher

Okay, there is so much that has been said here I wouldn't even know how to begin.  Has anyone ever heard of the kalam cosmological argument?  It says:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

2. The universe began to exist.

   2.1 Argument based on the impossibility of
       an actual infinite.    
                                            
         2.11 An actual infinite cannot
              exist.
         2.12 An infinite temporal regress of
              events is an actual infinite.
         2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal
              regress of events cannot exist.

   2.2   Argument based on the impossibility
         of the formation of an actual      
         infinite by successive addition.
        
         2.21 A collection formed by  
              successive addition cannot be    
              actually infinite.
         2.22 The temporal series of past    
              events is a collection formed  
              by successive addition.
         2.23 Therefore, the temporal series  
              of past events cannot be
              actually infinite.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its
   existence.

Personally, I believe that cause is God.  Therefore, I believe God exists.  The above formula is not my basis of belief, however, just a mental picture for everyone here to think about.  

-Cypher
 
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