Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash
Hello again everyone.
"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.
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).
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.
"If I rest, I rust." - Martin Luther