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Passions in Poetry

Does God Exist, Pt. 2

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jbouder
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0 posted 05-14-2000 04:14 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad requested that I post Part 2 to this thread because of the length of the other.  Remember, because religion can be a very touchy subject, I would suggest that your replies be as civil and tactful as possible.

If you want to read over some of the previous responses just hit: http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000080.html

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.

Jim

Cypher
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1 posted 05-15-2000 07:36 PM       View Profile for Cypher   Email Cypher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Cypher

Jim,

I haven't read Moreland's Scaling The Secular City yet.  It's on my summer reading list.  I'm a big fan of W.L. Craig though, and his book Reasonable Faith is excellent.  

I also wanted to say to everyone else, that I grew up in a Christian home.  My parents became believers when they were in their twenties and their lives were turned around 180 degrees.  Like I said, I grew up with a Biblical world view and made my decision to accept Christ as a young boy.  However, peer pressure in high school, and the temptations of living away from home during college led me off the path I was on and I began to doubt my salvation or even the validity of the Bible.
I began to doubt if my parents had it right, and I feel God was leading me to discover Him on my own.  Certain things happened in my life and I began to search and research the validity of the Gospel accounts.  All I can say is that the information is there for you to discover on your own.  Don't let sweeping statements about the unreliability of what the Bible says deter you from searching for yourself.  It's not only Christian literature that backs up Christian theology and claims. I'm sure someone in this thread has tried to disprove the Gospel accounts by stating inconsistencies in the four accounts.  Look at those "inconsistencies" and ask yourself if any of them detract from the "big picture".  Also ask yourself how much you'd rely on the truth of four different books written by four different authors, if every account was written exactly the same.  Different perspectives or points of view leading to slight variations of details, which don't detract from the main message, add validity and reliability in my mind.  And certainly gives no good grounds for dismissal.  I kind of got off on a tangent there, I know this is supposed to just be a debate on if God exists.  There's not one iota of doubt in my mind anymore.  The strongest evidence I can give are the answered prayers in my life.  I'm sure some will just dismiss that as positive thinking which brought about desired results, but I assure you that's impossible in many cases.  I've said enough for now.  May God bless your journeys.

-Cypher
jbouder
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2 posted 05-15-2000 09:35 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Cypher:

"Scaling the Secular City" will BE your summer reading list. lol.  Moreland also wrote "Christianity and the Nature of Science" ... excellent but slllloooooowwwww reading.

I agree with much of what you said, btw, and see no reason for you to apologize for your tangent.  

Jim
brian madden
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3 posted 05-16-2000 06:20 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

This is a question that always fascinates me, in fact it is a dangerous question to ask me as I can go on forever. I will try not to bore you only put forward my ideas in a concise manner.

First off I was brought up a Catholic, religion was a large part of my life. I believed most of what was told to me until I became a teenager and started doubting the teachings I had conflicting emotions. I have since stopped going to church, it did little for me. I think that people often confuse religion and spirituality. Religion seems too much like a club with a series of rules, you go to church to feel holy. It is almost an obligation. Some people find spirituality in mass and in religion. Personally I don't.

I was in limbo for awhile, after all being brought up in a faith/ an organised religion then leaving it and having nothing to cling to. There so many questions that the church had once answered. I connected with the one thing that seemed pure and beautiful, nature. I think that God is a life force, I have a theory that we are essentially energy and when we die that energy is freed and becomes part of all the other energy that is in the universe (by the way I am not a hippie). Living in a rural area I am surrounded by fields and trees, there is a certain peacefulness and tranquillity that you could associate with a spiritual religion.  
I believe God exists, not in biblical terms.

The biggest problem I have with the bible is the concept of original sin, that man is born a sinner, tainted on birth. I feel that there is a hint of fascism in the bible. I don't mean to offend anyone. This is just my personal opinion.

I also don't believe that there is GOOD and BAD. I think the line is a bit vaguer than that, anyone who is just good or bad is a fanatic. We all make conscience decisions on what path to follow. No one is lead astray by the devil. Also the image of the Devil is taken from Greek mythology, the nature god Pan. The church condemned white witches as devil worshippers. It is impossible to take the bible at face value. Still it has one important core message that is not focused on enough LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS YOU WOULD YOURSELF.

I know the bible and religion offers a lot hopes to people but misinterruptions of its message have caused destruction. I think religion can be an important part of people's lives, it gives them faith in dark times but the other side of this is Christian groups.  I found a website on the Internet, the content reminded me of wartime propaganda. The site claimed that AIDS was Gods disease for punishing man because he had become unclean, there were also the usual homophobic arguments, Read Leviticus, especially 20:13. It is an eye opener. I think that the church should focus more on the spiritual side, adopt some of the ways of eastern religions. I recently read about TAOISM, I found its teachings quite interesting. It asks man to live in harmony with his surrounds and himself. To be at one with himself.

I think that organised religion for the most part is based on a way to explain our purpose on this earth. Dinosaur Fossils and evolution contradict genesis.
Though on the larger scale I believe God exists, the proof is our existence if all this is just random an accident, if the human race just happened then it would be the greatest irony ever. I think that must have faith because God is something incomprehensible to the human mind.  By the way I mean to offend no body with my views, I probably stepped on a few toes but it anyone has different views I would be delighted to discuss them.  
Moon Dust
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4 posted 05-16-2000 07:09 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

I had a friend who did theolgy and put a question to me why do people belive in a riligion. I cant answer that and I don't think anyone can. But I can answer why I belive in rilgion and that is because what would we do when we die do we just dissapper and forget we ever existed. I don't belive we can so there must be place to go and a god to put us there.

 We are all poets, its just some people dont know it yet.
Robin Goodfellow
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5 posted 05-17-2000 03:34 PM       View Profile for Robin Goodfellow   Email Robin Goodfellow   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Robin Goodfellow

Why _must_ there be an after life? Why are we so special that we desereve an eternity of bliss or torture? Is there even a good side of that deal? What human mind could tolerate such a thing? By nature we are destructive and constantly show signs that we will never let go of our primitve natures. So Heaven is as equally torturous as Hell it just has a different set of tunes playing over the intercom.

You guys are all sighting books to expand your mind on the subject of religion but they are technical and scientific. I have a few to add that are great books. They aren't backed by proof other then the attractiveness of the concept. And the same could be said of the Bible.
1. The Dune Series by Frank Herbert.
   It expands your view on science, religion, politics, and how they are all intertwined together.
2. Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
   This is mostly for fun. But it does make you think about how strange the galaxy could be and how inconsequential Earth could be to it.
3. The Dragon and the Unicorn by A. A. Anttanasio
   This deals specificly with the rise of christianity in England, the people it effected, and the religions it struggled with. It also goes into origins of existence and the realities of the universe.
4. The Eagle and the Sword
   See #3
5. The Wolf and the Crown
   See #3
6. The Serpent and the Graal
   See #3

All of them are amazing books. With beautiful settings and fascinating characters. Well maybe not 2 but they are all highly recommended


 "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
epoet
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6 posted 05-18-2000 10:20 AM       View Profile for epoet   Email epoet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for epoet

First off, let me say that I too was brought up as a Catholic.  I fell from the faith when I joined the military and saw men who were married or engaged cheating with women half their age.  This made me question my beliegs as a Catholic and as a human being.
Secondly, as far as right and wrong go there can only be one answer to that and the answer was Gods'greatest gift to mankind, our free will.  While we all should know the difference between right and wrong, it's up to us as human beings to decide which path we will chose.
Next, I do believe that there is a God, and that sometimes he is silent and sometimes he is not.  We all are instruments for him to speak through. However, I also believe in the creatures of fantasy that most people don't tend to believe in.  Dragons, fairies, pixies, elves, dwarves etc.  all could possibly exist.  We can only hope that someday whoever and whatever our supreme beings name and identity is will be revealed to us.


 
Alain DeLaCendres
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7 posted 06-01-2000 12:54 AM       View Profile for Alain DeLaCendres   Email Alain DeLaCendres   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alain DeLaCendres

"What were the advantages of the Christian moral hypothesis?

1.) It granted man an absolute value, as opposed to his smallness and accidental occurence in the flux of becoming and passing away.

2.) It served the advocates of God insofar as it conceded to the world, in spite of suffering and evil, the character of perfection - including "freedom" : evil appeared full of meaning.

3.) It posited that man had a knowledge of absolute values and thus adequate knowledge precisely regarding what is most important.

4.) It prevented man from despising himself as man, from taking sides against life; from despairing of knowledge: it was a means of prevention.

In sum: morality was the great antidote against practical and theoretical nihilism."

"The end of Christianity - at the hands of its own morality (which cannot be replaced), which turns against the Christian God (the sense of truthfulness, developed highly by Christianity, is nauseated by the falseness and mendaciousness of all Christian interpretations of the world and of history; rebound from "God is truth" to the fanatical faith "All is false"; ....Residues of Christian value judgments are found everywhere in socialistic and positivistic systems. A critique of Christian morality is still lacking."

from - The Will To Power; by Friedrich Nietzsche

Okay, now... 1.  Does God exist? --- God is simply a name we have given a concept we do not understand in an attempt to gain control of that which is beyond our finite minds. I do not believe in the conventional "God," no. I DO believe there is some force greater than us at work somewhere; it is something beyond us that we will never completely understand and comprehend. Therein lies the whole axis of this debate. NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE if God turly exists. We know what we believe, but who, honestly, can show hard evidence that God does or does not exist?

2.  Is theism* rational? --- Partially. Religion has become so much less important in society today that many go through their daily lives without giving it so much as a cursory thought. Thiesm is not so rational as it may have been several hundred years ago, but I suppose every religious belief has its own place.

3.  Is it necessary that arguments for theism be rational/objective or can there be valid arguments made from subjective, personal experience? --- Religion itself is mostly "subjective," and though while many personal experiences are discreditted by "church authorities," we are all human and will believe as we want to. Besides, "God" has not exactly put his foot down on the subject, has He? Everyone believes something different. Subjective theories, therefore, in my mind, deserve just as much of a chance as "objective" theories.

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)? --- Morals. We are all taught right from wrong in our upbringing, and we can make due with these parental teachings. If we were never intorduced to the concept of "God" or religion, woudl there be any such thing as morals? Religion sets so many standards that we do not realize. But, if a person believe in God and belives He is silent, then they usually mold their morals around the things they come to believe made God silent; the wrong-doings of humanity. With these morals, they live just like everyone else.

5.  If "theist" best describes you, why and how are you certain that your ethical standards are valid? --- Well, theist does not best describe me, so I guess I'll skip this one. But then neither does deist or antheist... I guess I am mostly a "Hard Agnostic."




 Tout s'en va, tout passe, l'eau coule, et le couer oublie.
snuffy
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8 posted 06-04-2000 01:14 PM       View Profile for snuffy   Email snuffy   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for snuffy

U know, religion is so powerful....
It is so scary to know that people KILL for God, and people hate, in the name of God.  If anything, religion teaches to be tolerant of others, and not to dismiss them just cause they do not belong to the faith you belong to.  There are too many uncertainties when it comes to belief in one God, yet so many people believe, and believe strongly in something so doubtful, and commit atrocities (looking at the extreme end of the scale) in the name of a supposedly all loving God.  In the middle of the scale, which is were most people are (I HOPE!!!), they would just stay away from nonbelievers, and think of them as souless people, going straight to hell...

Too many contradictions for my little brain to accept.  I am a much happier person, and much more at ease, ever since I got the courage to say that I dont believe in God, and that I wont be going to hell because of that!  The concept of a heaven and hell, altogether, in my opinion, is so mythical, and that is were it only exists....in myths...as for God, I dont know, and I just hope that one day all these uncertainties (if ever) will unfold and become known ...
Peace.....
JP
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9 posted 06-08-2000 03:03 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

I find it interesting that this discussion thus far has not really breached the subject of paganism.  

The idea that the world, indeed, the universe is a sentient power comprised of all living things is not a new one.  In fact, paganism, and its many permutations has existed long before any organized religious school of thought.

The concept of one GOD is relatively new in historical respects so it causes me pause to see a discussion in this vein so narrowly limited in its scope....

 Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

jbouder
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10 posted 06-08-2000 06:17 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

JP:

"The concept of one GOD is relatively new in historical respects so it causes me pause to see a discussion in this vein so narrowly limited in its scope...."

Actually, there is fairly convincing evidence that suggests the opposite ... that polytheism/pantheism/panentheism followed monotheistic religious practice on the historical timeline.

All the time I have at the moment.  I'll be back later.

Jim
JP
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11 posted 06-09-2000 02:56 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

I am anxiously waiting to hear more...
jbouder
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12 posted 06-26-2000 01:38 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

JP:

Sorry it took me so long to get back here (I've been incredibly busy for the last three weeks).

Basicly, the anthopocentered idea that religious practiced evolved from a primitive form of animism, to pantheism, to polytheism, to monotheism became very popular in the 19th century.  

The turn of the 19th century to the 20th brought with it some great advances in archaeology.  Archaeologists found evidence of monotheistic worship in Egypt (Aton) and Babylon (a early Marduk) that dated far earlier than the theorists of the preceding century predicted, throwing off their theories a bit (if not demolishing them all together).

In short, archaeology does not support the evolutionary religion model but, rather, oftentimes is in opposition to it.  

Just a few thoughts.  Sorry for the delay.

Jim
JP
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13 posted 06-26-2000 04:01 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Good point, however, current archeologic thought is somewhat limited to the 'great' civilizations in terms of theological history, and the Egyptian theology from the period you referred to is merely snippet in Egyptian history.

As we all know, more evidence is uncovered daily to cast doubt on all historical belief, which leads to the question, who or what did the ancient egyptians believe in before Aton?

As I mentioned before, the historical evidence cited focuses on but a few civilizations, mainly those with some type of written word.  What about northern Europe?  Celtic beliefs, Nordic beliefs, etc?  Science cannot tell us which civilization existed first - if there was a first - from the northern areas to the mediterrainian area,  and we know that the concept of one God in the northern european area of the world was a direct result of Judeo-Christian influence.  

Since we talk about archeology/anthropology, it makes me think about linguistic anthropology and the influence religious beliefs have on language and the evolution of language.  Language is significantly influenced by the things of import to a society - how many words for snow do we have compared to the number used by the Eskimo's, for example?

The idea of a One God type of belief is only recent in the evolution of language, as evidenced by the icons and concepts passed through the generations and still presented in today's everyday speech.  

"Father Time", "Mother Nature", to name a mere couple, reflect man's inablilty to conceive of a omnipotent creator, they had envisioned the power as multiple entities. The concept of one all powerful being, is very difficult to grasp.  In fact, if one wanted to make the argument, one could say that even christianity has trouble grappling with the idea of omnipotence - hence The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.

  


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good."  E. Hemmingway


[This message has been edited by JP (edited 06-27-2000).]
jbouder
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14 posted 06-27-2000 09:29 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

JP:

"Good point, however, current archeologic thought is somewhat limited to the 'great' civilizations in terms of theological history, and the Egyptian theology from the period you referred to is merely snippet in Egyptian history."

This is true.  But even so, one is inclined to ask the question, "Is it not possible (or even probable) that monotheism preceded polytheistic theologies?"  One big problem that I see with you position is that you beg the question of an evolutionary theology (that religious beliefs evolved or became more complex as human culture developed and became more complex).  The alternative to that theory is that God, at some point (or points) in history, made Himself known to mankind and the pantheistic, polytheistic and animistic theologies to follow are perversions of the original monotheism that followed God's revelation of Himself.

"As we all know, more evidence is uncovered daily to cast doubt on all historical belief, which leads to the question, who or what did the ancient egyptians believe in before Aton?"

So is it your position then that a legal-historical case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because there may be an outside chance that convincing evidence will be contradicted?  You weren't, by any chance, an O.J. Simpson juror, were you?  

"As I mentioned before, the historical evidence cited focuses on but a few civilizations, mainly those with some type of written word."

There is also Teshup who appeared in varient forms as one great deity amongst early Syrian and Canaanite cultures.

Also, it cannot be shown that polytheistic religions naturally become less complicated, moving toward monotheism.  Greco-Roman deities, Hinduism and Shintoism are all good historical examples that contradict the evolutionary religious assertion.

"What about northern Europe?  Celtic beliefs, Nordic beliefs, etc?"

What about them?  If I am going to make a decision, I am going to make it based on the best evidence I can locate.  The northern Europeans were still plowing with sticks when the Egyptians were mastering complicated math and developing an advanced understanding of human physiology.  I think posing arguments of silence is a weak move, btw.  I know you can do better than that!

"Science cannot tell us which civilization existed first - if there was a first - from the northern areas to the mediterrainian area,  and we know that the concept of one God in the northern european area of the world was a direct result of Judeo-Christian influence."

Science does suggest that civilization arose from one of two places ... Africa or the Middle East.  And I agree ... the medieval and modern European tendency toward monotheism is a direct result of Christianity.

"The idea of a One God type of belief is only recent in the evolution of language, as evidenced by the icons and concepts passed through the generations and still presented in today's everyday speech."

Or perhaps the perversion of an original monotheism has been taking place for so long that those perversions have found their ways into today's everyday speech.    

"In fact, if one wanted to make the argument, one could say that even christianity has trouble grappling with the idea of omnipotence - hence The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost."

I am confused by what you are trying to say here.  The doctrine of the Trinity carefully and emphatically maintains that there is only one God.  What confuses people is their inability to understand (with good reason) how a singular Being can have a plural nature.  A quick analogy:

Theoretical physicists note that subatomic entities are found to have both wave properties (W), particle properties (P) and quantum properties (h).  Even though these characteristics are often incompatible (particles don't diffract, waves do, for example), physicist "explain" or "model" an electron as PWh in order to give the proper weight to all of the relevant data.

Theologians are doing much the same thing with the doctrine of the Trinity.  Theologians are not asking you to understand how something can be a singular and plural simulteniously ... they are offering an "explanation" or a "model" that gives proper weight to all of the relevant data (in the case of the Christian theologian, that relevant data being the Old and New Testament Canons).

This is a fun debate, JP.  Do me a favor and elbow the guy beside you ... he's snoring too loud ... I'm getting distracted.  

Jim  


JP
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15 posted 06-28-2000 04:16 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Jim,
"...The alternative to that theory is that God, at some point (or points) in history, made Himself known to mankind and the pantheistic, polytheistic and animistic theologies to follow are perversions of the original monotheism that followed God's revelation of Himself." It is entirely possible, yet most likely, improbable.  One is not arguing theist evolution here, but the theological influences on culture and language.  But if we were to think of the evolution of theology, does it logically follow to have polytheistic beliefs evolve from a significant monothiestic event such as God's revelation of him/herself, to humankind?  

"As we all know, more evidence is uncovered daily to cast doubt on all historical belief, which leads to the question, who or what did the ancient egyptians believe in before Aton?"

So is it your position then that a legal-historical case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because there may be an outside chance that convincing evidence will be contradicted?
  Ah, you place in stone that which is not concrete... I do believe a legal-historical case can be proven, but with the proviso that current historical thought is clearly riddled with supposition, conjecture, and the influence of current acceptable thought on the interpretation of the evidence.  

"...  If I am going to make a decision, I am going to make it based on the best evidence I can locate.  The northern Europeans were still plowing with sticks when the Egyptians were mastering complicated math and developing an advanced understanding of human physiology..."  So advancements in civilization and culture are the basis for valid religious belief? My ancestors ran across that when the colonists forced them to wear clothes and attend church... The Jesuits were masters at obliterating the 'savage' peoples and forcing them into a belief system that was acceptable to 'civilized' humans...

Okay, more later.... sleepy time now...
                  

Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
Tim Gouldthorp
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16 posted 06-28-2000 09:24 AM       View Profile for Tim Gouldthorp   Email Tim Gouldthorp   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim Gouldthorp

Jim and all,

This is the first time ive had a look in at this corner of the forums, and ive found this discussion very interesting.  A few of my thoughts:

Pascal described belief in God as a 'good bet' - little cost and the possibility of eternal reward.  So in this sense belief in God is compatible with reason.  Of course, this doesn't help us much to actually BELIEVE in God.

Science operates in a different realm to theology - by its very nature it cannot disprove the existence of God.  It is like a circle within an even bigger circle.  If Hawkings quest to discover the anticident conditions of the big bang - the mind of God - is actually reached, this still would just be a revelation, the conditions through which God chooses to reveal 'himself.'  Science can show how things can occur without a God after this moment (the beginning of the universe) or just before it.  From this moment it can be shown how humans could evolve.  This makes it harder to concieve of God but by its very nature cannot deal with evidencing either way the existence of God (even if were to be shown that the expansion of the universe reverses so as to create universes devouring themselves for all eternity the same would hold - this too is a 'revelation' or the way the universe seems to us.

in the middle ages, people could think of God as 'up there.'  More recently, God could be concieved as 'out there.'  Where can God hide now?  This is a challange to faith as God must be considered, as science progresses, in ever more sublime manifestations.  We can still believe God exists, but not in any knowable material form.  Problem here is the impossibility of us giving God any characteristics whatsoever.  As a white bearded old man, in the shape of an elephant, these are, to my mind, clearly unsatisfactory but understandable human attempts to fix the unknowable in human terms.  The problem here is, how can you believe in much less love something which in all ways is unknowable?  The only way I can see is variations on existential theology.

Which brings me to my next point - the excruciating burden of the unknowable God.  Even if we believe is the manifestation of God in knowable forms, through the Koran, through Jesus and the prophets, ephiphenistic experience etc etc, it is we individually that must assign meaning to these actually as revelations.  WE ourselves must decide they are the word of God, and not of a devil, or a hullucination, or something else.  Of course,  this does not mean that Christ is not actually the Son of God, etc etc but it does mean that whether or not this is 'correct' we have to assign it thus as correct or not.

Without God, how do you escape the abyss of nihilism, we who in our  half-halfness are between the infinitely large and the infinietly small.  In this regard i personally find atheism shocking, not that i am entirely convinced that God exists, but becuase the killing of God carries with it an appalling responsibility.  There have been some attempts out of the abyss of atheism, Nietchzes eternal recurrance and most of all the romantic idea of love so powerful that it transcends the abyss.  These attempts are always half despairing though.

Anyway, just some thoughts.  It is interesting to read the divergent approaches people are taking.

-Tim

JP
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20 posted 06-28-2000 02:29 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Tim,

You seem to be arguing that belief must be based on some type of proof - yet that runs contrary to the very idea of a belief in God, or gods.  Faith is and always has been the foundation of any belief in a diety, and to argue that belief is unreasonable because existence is unknowable is to remove the reason for existence for many, and effectively removes the possiblity of anything wonderous in our existence.

"It is dreadful to die of thirst in the sea.  Do you have to salt your truth so much that it can no longer even - quench thirst?" F. Nietzsche

I do not, however want to leave the earlier discussion - so lets try to tackle two philosophies in one....


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
Tim Gouldthorp
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since 01-03-2000
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21 posted 06-29-2000 07:10 AM       View Profile for Tim Gouldthorp   Email Tim Gouldthorp   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim Gouldthorp

JP,

what i was in fact trying to argue was the exact opposite - God is unknowable through reason, and therefore belief in God must stem soley from individual faith.  I was trying to suggest that faith is not at all incompatible with 'reason' as they are completely seperate things.  I agree with you that there is nothing 'invalid' in belief in God soley through faith.

A polytheist theology  explains how the world and how it works, something which, it may be argued, science and human knowledge can deal with and explain adaquately.  However when looking at the first cause, what made the universe before which there was nothing, implies to my mind a unity, a Godhead or essence.  It implies an entity in all ways omnipotent, something which multiple Gods could not be.  Jim's suggestion of multiple Gods or the 3 elements of the Trinity as manifestations or parts of a Godhead seems a good explaination to me, but it also seems to requires an essence greater that the seperate manifestations.  

The historical origins of mono/poly theism seem to me largely irrelevent.  Religions can be to a large degree shown to arise as a response to certain social/geographical/etc conditions.  I don't see that showing what past civilizations have believed throughs any light, either as a matter of reason or of faith, on the nature of God. Of course JP or Jim or others might show a different approach here.
-Tim
JP
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22 posted 06-29-2000 10:25 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Actually Tim, you make valid points and I apologize for mistaking your earlier remarks.

The difficulty I see is that all religious belief is originated by man - humankind.  If one were to take the biblical posit that man is imperfect, than one can only assume that religious belief is at its essence - imperfect.

How can civilizations base thier entirety on the imperfect ideas of imperfect beings and present those ideas as THE CORRECT idea?  Is it no wonder why we have 'holy' wars.  Why the simple idea of war is either to get something that is not mine, or to protect something that is mine.  Protecting religious  ideals that are of my creation, or to push those ideals upon another society... seems like a reason for war...  Ah, but I digress...



Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
jbouder
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


23 posted 06-29-2000 08:52 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

JP:

Before I begin I just want to say I am really enjoying this.  

A little bit about faith.  Faith certainly does involve the putting one's trust in something that is (at least to me) unperceivable but this is not the same thing as saying faith cannot be founded on fact (I disagree with the Barthian leap of faith).  Facts are not limited to those things we can personally perceive. The experiences and testimony of others is another way to ascertain the truth (or falsehood) of a particular event.

You say that the idea of polytheism following the True God's revelation of Himself in history is an improbable notion.  On what basis do you consider such a notion improbable?  There is certainly no archaeological evidence that disqualifies it as a possibility (or a probability, for that matter).  In fact, an increasing number of scholars (not all theists) believe that the historical record favors a monotheistic starting point for religious belief in early cultures.

What I think you are presupposing is that religious belief is a product of man's over active imagination and desire for immortality (Feuerbach and Freud were proponants of this belief, I think).  This is a great theory but, unfortunately, it was conceived while archaeology was still in its infancy.  Again, since the turn of the 19th century and the advent of some exciting archaeological breakthroughs, many of the 19th century theories lost their credibility.  Is religious belief a wish fulfillment for some?  Probably.  Does this mean that there is no God?  No.

Back to faith ... if the object of faith can be backed up with facts (whether eye-witness or archaeological) then faith can certainly be founded on fact.  It is true that eye-witness testimony can be scrutinized but I think it is important to back up an objection with some substance.  It is easy to say "An eye-witness was lying/deluded/insane."  It is another matter to demonstrate that a lie was told, that the witness was deluded or in a compromised mental state.  

In the same way one can argue "archaeological data can be interpreted in many ways".  It is another thing entirely to say that "the archaeological data is flawed and this is why it is flawed."  Simply saying that another discovery down the road is going to contradict a current discover is no real argument at all.

"I do believe a legal-historical case can be proven, but with the proviso that current historical thought is clearly riddled with supposition, conjecture, and the influence of current acceptable thought on the interpretation of the evidence."

I agree with you.  But this does not mean that the obstacles of supposition, conjecture, and pop-thought cannot be overcome to get at the truth.  It takes discipline but I think these walls can be breached.

"So advancements in civilization and culture are the basis for valid religious belief? My ancestors ran across that when the colonists forced them to wear clothes and attend church... The Jesuits were masters at obliterating the 'savage' peoples and forcing them into a belief system that was acceptable to 'civilized' humans..."

Not necessarily.  But with advancement of culture comes a deeper understanding and appreciation of complexity.  I don't see how the deplorable acts of the Conquistadors or the radical fringes of Colonial America are relevant to the debate.  There were certainly as many evil Native Americans as there were evil Western Europeans (unless you think Aztec human sacrifices were something to be proud of, and I don't believe you do).  The events you recount are certainly sad but, again, I do not see how they are relevant to the current discussion.

Tim:

I'm not ignoring you and I think you are on the right track.  

I'm having fun with this.  I hope you guys are too.  

Jim

JP
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24 posted 07-05-2000 03:24 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

The mind reels...

So much to discuss!  
                  
Faith by its very definition cannot be founded in fact.  Faith is an "unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence".  Faith founded on fact is not faith, but acceptance.  If one were to subscribe to the judeo-christian belief, one would acknowledge that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, did not believe in the Christ because of faith, but of acceptance of what they saw and experienced.  Christians of today believe in thier god out of faith, and while certain archeological/anthropological discoveries may reinforce the events presented in the bible (evidence of a flood, digs finding evidence of Sodom...) they do not provide foundation for faith, rather that, they provide support for existing faith. Any belief derived from the presentation of this physical evidence is not a belief based on faith, but a tenous acceptance of what the mind hopes will someday be proved.

Polytheism/Monotheism?  Interesting discussion thusfar.  While rereading what has been written it occured to me that we are discussing the origins of religious belief without aim.  Do we seek to find what humanity inherently believes without the benefit of humanity derived religious thought?  Are we seeking to determine what a person is born believing as an ends to discover, what?

So far we have discussed religious beliefs of societies present and past, and have discussed which belief is best support by the scientific evidence at hand.  But we haven't really talked about why we are knocking this about.  Are we seeking to determine the true belief?  To determine the validity of one's belief over another?  Are we aiming to say, for example, that since the first religious belief was a monothiestic belief system that polythiestic beliefs are not valid?

If this is indeed the goal of this discussion are we not then pre-empting the idea of faith, and all that it entails?  Are we not attempting to base faith on fact, and facts as we see them no less?  Are we not forgetting the fact that as humans we are ultimately imperfect (an idea based in all religious belief) and that any conclusion we would arrive at would consequently be flawed as well?


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
jbouder
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


25 posted 07-05-2000 10:47 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

JP:

"Faith by its very definition cannot be founded in fact.  Faith is an 'unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence'.  Faith founded on fact is not faith, but acceptance."

I think you definition of faith is either clouded by Merriam Webster or by some of the German thinkers you refer to with such fondness.     Faith, as it applies to the Judeo-Christian belief systems, certainly involves trust.  But it is committing a gross error to suggest that Judeo-Christian faith is merely a trust in something for which there is no proof.  Faith includes acceptance of what is seen and experienced first hand and by others but it is not merely this.  Judeo-Christian faith includes belief in future promises, but this faith is undergirded by the belief that God is as good as His word.  Faith also involves personal appropriation of certain truth claims but, again, this alone is not faith.  Your definition truncates a definition that survived 17 centuries before some sophisticated thinkers decided to fiddle with it.

"If one were to subscribe to the judeo-christian belief, one would acknowledge that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, did not believe in the Christ because of faith, but of acceptance of what they saw and experienced."

By your narrow definition of faith, no, I suppose they did not believe because of faith.  But your definition does not stand up to the scrutiny of the historical understanding of the word "faith".

"Any belief derived from the presentation of this physical evidence is not a belief based on faith, but a tenous acceptance of what the mind hopes will someday be proved."

The evidence availiable certainly does not make for a "tenuous acceptance".  Belief derived from the presentation of the physical evidence is not easily shaken by doubt or unpleasant circumstances and is not easily manipulated by those who are decidedly self-seeking.  Again, the historical definition of Judeo-Christian faith emphatically includes the acceptance of facts.    

"Polytheism/Monotheism?  Interesting discussion thusfar.  While rereading what has been written it occured to me that we are discussing the origins of religious belief without aim.  Do we seek to find what humanity inherently believes without the benefit of humanity derived religious thought?  Are we seeking to determine what a person is born believing as an ends to discover, what?"

I have a sneaking suspicion that you know the aim of the discussion well.  Your suggestion of an "evolving religion" presupposes the Feuerbachian notion that religious believe is contrived by man's need for there to be something that is greater than himself.  You've read Hegel, you've probably read Marx and probably Fichte and Feuerbach so I KNOW you know what I am talking about.

If religious belief was originally monotheistic, then the notion is introduced that God is not a contrived concept but, rather, is a Being who has revealed Himself to mankind in space and time.  The "evolutionary religion" theory carries with it the baggage of presupposition and, as I think I demonstrated, is not supported by recorded history.

"So far we have discussed religious beliefs of societies present and past, and have discussed which belief is best support by the scientific evidence at hand.  But we haven't really talked about why we are knocking this about.  Are we seeking to determine the true belief?  To determine the validity of one's belief over another?  Are we aiming to say, for example, that since the first religious belief was a monothiestic belief system that polythiestic beliefs are not valid?"

Sure, why not?  I think different belief systems exhibit various degrees of believability.  Some are historically verifiable and others lack verifiability.  It is up to the individual to decide whether this is important or not and, quite frankly, if we are discussing this and NOT trying to discover the true belief or measure the validity of one set of beliefs over another, then we are merely spinning our wheels.

See what you've done!  You've kept me up too late and I'll probably fall asleep at the computer keyboard at work tomorrow morning!  

Again, I think you definition of faith lacks the original understanding of the word in the Judeo-Christian tradition and this, in my opinion, undermines your argument against a faith founded on fact.  The Karl Barth "leap of faith" is a foreign notion to historical Judaism and Christianity.

Hope you're still having fun.  

Jim



[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 07-05-2000).]
JP
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Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


26 posted 07-05-2000 11:13 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Editing while I'm still reading.... shame on you.  

Validity of belief based on historical verifiability of religious doctrine?  It seems that it is a case of the blind leading the blind.  If in fact humanity is imperfect and the resulting belief systems perpetuated by humanity are imperfect, then is it not an illogical notion to assume that those belief systems are more valid than those without supported historical record?

I find it a difficult concept to accept... because a certain religion, or belief system has a recorded history - that is the correct belief?  Societies whose only historical record is verbal, consequently has invalid religious beliefs?

Perhaps this is an oversimplification of what you are saying, however, the essence remains the same, yes?

The original question was Does God Exist?, perhaps it should be Can we identify the true nature of god, if god exists?.  That then presents questions of its own, does it not?  Is there a true nature of god?  Who is able to determine that nature? Does historical record of humanity's determination of that nature make it the truth?    It just goes on....



Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


27 posted 07-05-2000 11:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Wow, I'm just amazed at how long this thread has been going.  I'll tell you this is not really my interest and that I'm way out of my league here but, what the hell, it's okay to make a fool of yourself now and then, isn't it. I just do it a lot more than now and then of course.  

JP,

You said:

The difficulty I see is that all religious belief is originated by man - humankind.  If one were to take the biblical posit that man is imperfect, than one can only assume that religious belief is at its essence - imperfect.

Didn't Descartes argue the reverse of this? That because we are imperfect and can conceive of perfection, God must exist because with our own imperfections, we could never have conceived of him. All other things, being imperfect, could be the product of our imaginations but not God.

Not saying I believe this (and if I'm not remembering this correctly, please correct me. It was a long time ago.) and in practice the idea could never be truly explained to others (imperfection and all that) but, as I recall, this was one proof of God's existence.

Aside:
I think I've already discussed the idea of the Christian trinity as something that actually explains omnipotence in an extrememly powerful way (Hegel).

Tim,
If you have the time, why not start another thread with the 'without God, how do we avoid nihilism.'  I think it's an interesting debate and might be interesting to see if those with a firm belief system could consider this 'hypothetical'.  Of course, you might be deluged with people arguing that such a hypothetical is nonsense -- and people  have done that here before but I still think it would be interesting to see what happens.

Jim,
I'm confused with the faith argument. It was my understanding that a distinction could be made between faith and belief.

Faith -- voluntary, conscious decision,
Belief -- involuntary, not conscious, overdetermined

Is this way off the mark?

I'm a little confused why nobody has brought up a rather simple definition for the origin of religion: anthropomorphism combined with a confusion between temporality and causality.

Or is that still religious philosophy 101?

Brad
  
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