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Stephanos
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50 posted 11-23-2002 10:24 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

you wrote, "I never said that preaching the truth is only good for the choir. What I said was that cloaking personal beliefs in the guise of logic will never convince anyone except those already in the choir. "


Are you saying that the gospel, the truth, is merely a personal belief, and not a universal one that applies to all people?  I get the feeling you will say, "no I'm not saying that".  Then are you saying that Christians should stick to traditional preaching, and not try to show that Christianity actually presents a cogent worldview epistemically?  You seem to suggest that the gospel should be preached almost in a Kirkegaardian dialectic, where it is true in one sense, but illogical in another.  It's kind of like saying, "Believe, but leave your minds at the door".  I don't buy this fragmented view of reality, nor this view of the Gospel.  Granted there are some things about the Gospel that are above man's reason, but not contrary to it.  My assertion is that believing the gospel is a reasonable thing to do.  I think this is the Biblical view as well.  There is also the biblical assertion that "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'".  This seems to suggest that not believing in God ultimately results in intellectual suicide and leads to absurdity in thought.  If this is not evident in the course of humanistic philosophy (especially modern), I don't know what is!


Ron, if you don't intend me to take what you are saying as what I describe above, then please explain.  I haven't made all my appeals to logic, or to the Bible.  I have been drawing upon both for my assertions.  In your opinion, what would a proper "preaching of the Gospel" to unbelievers entail?  By the way, I have no faith in my own feeble words.  It is the Holy Spirit that I believe will convict people deep in their hearts of the truth I speak (which is not my own).  How can I convert anyone?  How can I persuade someone adequately enough?  This is where I must depend upon something that is far greater than "li'l ol' me" to accomplish anything.  But if your criticism is that the Gospel can be better presented (and I already agree), I am willing to take some counsel from a brother on how to do it better.  Usually, by example is the best way for one to do this.  I can learn best by listening to your apologetic in action, Ron.  I am even more willing to recieve your prayers on the matter.  Either way, I think that proclaiming the Gospel, however you do it, is a matter of obedience to Christ.  Remember it was the "foolishness" of preaching that Paul said would save men.  But if what I say is foolish in your sight, you will have to show me what is better.  And I'm not saying this defiantly.  Christians do need each other in all things.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-24-2002 12:40 AM).]

Stephanos
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51 posted 11-23-2002 10:52 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Phaedrus,

It doesn't surprise me that being in a position of unbelief, you will say that biblically based argumentation is ineffective for you.  You don't really even have to make that statement for me to know that.  Your stance of atheism is enough to let me know how you feel.  


Just a couple of things however to consider.  I have not brought all of my assertions out of the bible alone.  I have spoken much from philosophy.  I have attempted to draw out the irreconcilable  presuppositional dilemmas of atheism, and to show that belief in God and it's presuppostions present a cogent view of reality where self contradiction is avoided, and knowledge is preserved.  I have attempted to show that skepticism, subjectivism, pessimism, nihilism, and a general hopelessness are the necessary fruits of atheism.  I have not done this with my own reasoning, but by referring to some of the top minds of atheism.  The most logically consistent men of atheism would agree with me.  Their gospel is to "endure the nothingness".  Their purpose is found in facing a purposeless existence, and fighting a war without victory.  Hume, Kant, Russell, Nietzche, are all prime examples.  These men are checks for the naively optimistic atheists of our day.


My assertion still is that the truth of the Bible, and the truth of God in nature, and the truth of God in the human mind, will and do speak to men who do not believe.  God will use even my pitiful attempt at explaining the truth to shake things up and get people questioning.  The truth of God will touch a place of resonance in the hearts and minds of those he created.  We are not "foreign terriroty" to the God who made us.  He has not left himself without a voice inside of  even unbelievers.  This is how he works.  He will even take something I may be wrong about and use it to demonstrate truth.  I am wrong about a lot of things.  I'm sure that you yourself have corrected me in your mind (rightly so) on different occasions.  But the assertion of Christians still stands, "God is here.  And he is not silent".  Time will tell if this proves true for you or not.  

Stephen.  


  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-23-2002 10:54 PM).]

Denise
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52 posted 11-24-2002 12:18 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Stephen,

Thank you for explaining so well what I was trying to explain, yet did so poorly, regarding the experience of persecution. I really couldn't think of a way to get across the reality of it and at the same time try to convey that it in no way had anything to do with having the mindset of a "victim" as in a "martyr" complex. I've certainly never felt victimized, nor had the mindset of an "us vs. them" perception in my day to day reality and in my relationships, and know well the difference between the suffering we bring on ourselves through sin and the suffering experienced through well doing. I'm also fully aware that anything we have suffered so far is nothing in comparison to the folks who have given their lives for the faith in past centuries, and to this day around the globe. In all things we are blessed, whether in good times or bad, whether we are respected or mocked, whether we live out our days safely to old age, or die a martyr's death. It's all in His hands and to His glory. I can't think of a better place to be.

Brad, Phaedrus, Opeth,

I agree with Stephen that there really is no proof, per se, that can be offered to convince anyone of the existence of God, just as there is no way to offer proof against it. If anyone is interested in independent, historical data that lends considerable weight as to the authenticity of the Bible and the claims of Christianity, it's out there. Search it out. I'm always fascinated by stories of those who set out to disprove the claims of Christianity and in so doing could come to no other conclusion than to embrace it as true.
Juno
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53 posted 11-24-2002 01:27 AM       View Profile for Juno   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Juno

The staring truth is pouring down with a million rays to its passion of wanting to be only observed and acknowledged and yet the human insight so gordian knotted and sandblind by excess, for all its confusion cannot give so often just leastways, benefit of the doubt and abstinence from ignorance?  None should say it has to be this way or that way, it can be a million ways, it is of a million rays--if it is is believed in it is acknowledged.  It is hope and I believe rewarded.

Juno!

[This message has been edited by Juno (11-24-2002 02:57 AM).]

Brad
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54 posted 11-24-2002 03:46 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephan,

Why only Christian brothers?

Denise,

Why aren't you interested in the stories of those who leave the Faith?

Juno,

Uh huh, wrong language game. Try writing a poem.


Ron
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55 posted 11-24-2002 04:38 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Stephen asked Then are you saying that Christians should stick to traditional preaching, and not try to show that Christianity actually presents a cogent worldview epistemically?

Either or both would be fine with me, Stephen. It's doing the former and calling it the latter that I think creates a problem. I know you think some of your statements are self-evident, but many are deeply mired in your own perspective. Here are just a few of the things you've said in this thread:

"Without an absolute governor of humanity and nature, we cannot truly account for a belief in uniformity of nature."

"The problems one runs into when placing the ultimate authority on us, autonomously, is that we lose any real basis upon which to have any valid  complaints against someone who 'breaks the rules'."

"One thing I do see clearly is that a naturalistic concept of the universe fails to provide us with any preconditions for abstract uniform concepts, such as logic, at all. The existence of God is the only foundation for knowledge of anything, really for intelligible life."

"I have attempted to show that skepticism, subjectivism, pessimism, nihilism, and a general hopelessness are the necessary fruits of atheism."

I think each one of these statements, though presented as logic and fact, represent a worldview colored by your own belief system. These statements are the RESULTS of being a Christian rather than convincing reasons to become a Christian. More, and I think much worse, they unnecessarily denigrate the belief of others with, not truth, but what I see as unreasoned fervor. I believe I can unequivocally say that each of these conclusions is wrong.

A few years ago, I was teaching a computer class and showing the students how to mix colors using the three primary colors of red, green, and blue (RGB). Wait a minute, someone said, didn't we learn way back in kindergarten that the primary colors were red, blue, and yellow? To be honest, I didn't have an answer for them at the time, nor was it easy to track one down. Turns out what we learned in grade school is called the Additive Color Theory and is based on reflected light. When you see a pure blue paint, what you are really seeing is a substance that absorbs light in the red and yellow spectrum and reflects only blue. Computer screens and photography, however, rely on the Subtractive Color Theory because we deal with emitted light rather than reflected light. Though similar, there are real differences, too. Add equal amounts of red, blue, and yellow paint and you end up with muddy black. Add red, green, and blue pixels on a computer screen and you end up with white.

Faced with two very different worldviews on mixing colors, it's easy to say that one is right and one is wrong - even when both seem to work. Only with an understanding of the difference between reflected and emitted light does it become apparent that both worldviews can be true. I think it is equally easy to look at a worldview that excludes God and call it wrong - even when it otherwise seems to work. I submit that when something works without presupposing God, there's probably an issue of reflected or emitted light that we aren't seeing. For Christianity to be right doesn't require that everything else be wholly wrong if you but accept that our understanding is less than perfect. Worse, when you call something else wholly wrong, something that seems to work, you perpetuate the myth of an either/or proposition and force people to choose, making what may be the wrong choice. For example, that line in the sand separating Evolutionists from Creationists probably exists only because we put it there. There is actually remarkable agreement between Genesis and science, and I suspect the differences arise only because we don't fully understand either.

The naturalists asks, "Why do I exist as I do?" And the question becomes its own answer. "If I didn't exist as I do, I wouldn't be here to ask the question." To return to an earlier analogy, "Why is my temperature 98.6 degrees?" Because if it was 97.6 degrees, I would be extinct. Things are the way they are because if they were even marginally different, WE wouldn't be here to question it. Did you know that water is the only substance known to science that has a lower density in its frozen state than in its liquid state? Ice floats. If it didn't, bodies of water would freeze from the bottom up, instead of being covered by insulating ice, and life could not exist. A miracle? Sure. But if it wasn't the way it is, we wouldn't be here to recognize it as one. Naturalism essentially side-steps the issue of why with a very simple, "Just because."

And it works. Naturalism is completely self-consistent. It doesn't necessarily lead to nihilism, any more than any other philosophy and much less than so than many. Why do we have an inherent reason to exist? Because if we didn't, we wouldn't exist.

How can I so unequivocally say all the statements that I cited above are wrong? I know they're wrong because they MUST be wrong. If even one of your statements could be demonstrably proven, it would provide the basis for a chain inevitably leading to a proof that God exists. If even one of your statements is right, there is no longer a need for faith.

Logic is a double-edged sword, I think. Yes, it can be used to persuade and, as I said earlier to Jim, I think there are countless ways that logic and history and science can be used to support the Bible. But when the logic is flawed and based on hidden beliefs, it cuts both ways. It dissuades. Far better, I think, to call them opinions founded on faith than to cite them as inescapable truths.

Stephen, I don't think we need to minimize naturalism or evolutionism or even atheism in order to maximize Christianity. Trivializing the beliefs of others isn't productive. You cannot logically prove that Christianity is the only answer because all the others don't work, because very obviously, for many people they do work. Instead, we should try to show Christianity as a better answer. Jesus, after all, didn't come to destroy Jewish law. He just showed us that the difference between reflective and emitting light can change our perspective of truth. He gave us a deeper understanding.

Juno
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56 posted 11-24-2002 04:52 AM       View Profile for Juno   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Juno

Brad
I have a hand would prefer you above the common class of men in offhand manners as much as you seem in philosphy already.  But I will leave you where you are for now and see if you don't prove that I don't need to.
In other word, maybe you will show a Goddess a welcome and some courtesy !

[This message has been edited by Juno (11-24-2002 04:53 AM).]

Brad
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57 posted 11-24-2002 06:22 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

On the last post (Juno's), I have no idea what that means. Like the first one, I have no idea what the meaning is?

Help!

Stephanos
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58 posted 11-24-2002 08:57 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

"Why only Christian Brothers"?

Did I suggest that I only need Christian brothers?  I was addressing a Christian at the time, right?


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-24-2002 08:57 AM).]

Brad
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59 posted 11-24-2002 08:57 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Juno,

Are you postmodern generator?
Juno
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60 posted 11-24-2002 01:26 PM       View Profile for Juno   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Juno

I am present to as much as I can be,  who can be more?
I feel words are difficult medium for the most part. people have  different abilities and ways of sayings that feel more accurate to their own experiences and imaginations.  We should be able always to be present to this diversity, and not try to say from our own personal stand--this is the way it can only be, this is the way we should talk about God(s) and experiences and truths.  People approach these in different ways and often they approach people in different ways as well.  Just a thought.

[This message has been edited by Juno (11-24-2002 01:34 PM).]

Juno
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61 posted 11-24-2002 03:33 PM       View Profile for Juno   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Juno


One who is a Christian right now would not perceive God as she does presently if she hadn't been brought up without the influences of the bible, christian enviroment and culture.  
And if brought up perhaps in very different state would have a very opposite stand based on history of origins, influences and truths and what is better...perhaps would believe in many Gods, or not even believe in Gods at all.  The same God might be present, but that God would not be perceived the same or may be perceived as just a part of nature. Different experiences, and imaginations create different ways of perceiving.  But there is no reason to call a stand  or way in any way better or worse but to your own approach and question, if it is respectful, it is respectable.  


Brad
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62 posted 11-24-2002 05:45 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Juno,

You're making sense to me now. Your first post, the best I could make of it, was an estatic revelation of the TRUTH, but it was placed in the wrong language game. I wasn't being disrespectful any more than the people who escort the man who screams, "God doesn't exist!" out of a Church.

You say that one should respect those who are respectful, but you also do a number of things in that first post:

quote:
The staring truth is pouring down with a million rays to its passion of wanting to be only observed and acknowledged


This is an assertion of Truth, a truth that you are apparently in possession of. We come to a problem immediately for:

quote:
and yet the human insight so gordian knotted and sandblind by excess,


By abstracting something into 'the human insight', you may think you avoid pointing to real people, but what you do is point to all people including yourself. You are either not human, above humanity, or subject to the same problems (provided the above statement is true). The solution, of course, is to deny that the message is from you, it is from something else. Unfortunately, that something else cannot be pointed to, it is inside you.

quote:
for all its confusion cannot give so often just leastways, benefit of the doubt and abstinence from ignorance?


We must abstain from ignorance, we must give the benefit of the doubt to what. Again, you attempt to objectify what in the end can only be your own opinion, your own viewpoint and tell me, "You should listen to me."

quote:
None should say it has to be this way or that way, it can be a million ways, it is of a million rays--if it is is believed in it is acknowledged.  It is hope and I believe rewarded.


I might agree with this except that it kind of contradicts what you said in the first sentence, but I would argue, if I understand you correctly, that it can be a million different ways/rays because it really doesn't matter what it is.

Now, later you say:

quote:
One who is a Christian right now would not perceive God as she does presently if she hadn't been brought up without the influences of the bible, christian enviroment and culture.  
And if brought up perhaps in very different state would have a very opposite stand based on history of origins, influences and truths and what is better...perhaps would believe in many Gods, or not even believe in Gods at all.


Actually, this is close but not quite what I think. You wouldn't exist is a better way of putting it.

quote:
The same God might be present, but that God would not be perceived the same or may be perceived as just a part of nature. Different experiences, and imaginations create different ways of perceiving.  But there is no reason to call a stand  or way in any way better or worse but to your own approach and question


But this doesn't mean we refrain from judgement, it means we have to judge. If things were clear there would be no need to judge at all.

Stephan,

No, you didn't say only but you did perk up to Ron's criticism rather than my criticism of your rhetorical strategy. Why? Because, quite frankly, you are more comfortable with people who are 'on your side' than with those who are not (or you didn't see what I was doing, always a possibility.). Others do this as well (In a certain way, everybody does it.), but Christians seem hell bent on denying that they do it. I see it as a sign that you need validation. That is not a bad thing even if it shows cracks in your armor of certainty.

But why deny it? I think, to a large extent, you have to because you intuitively (or consciously) realize that intersubjective validation gives more credence to my 'majority rules' argument.

I can't explain it, but hey there are other people out there who feel it too, I must be right then. But this doesn't prove you wrong, you can't be proven wrong. Unfortunately, as long as you refuse the risk of being proven wrong, you can never be proven right.

There's a reason that Denise is far more interested in people who come to believe in what she believes rather than with people who come to believe in something different than she does.

Ron said:

quote:
Why do we have an inherent reason to exist? Because if we didn't, we wouldn't exist.


This is essentialism, not Naturalism. The anthropic principle simply says that any description of the universe must include the preconditions for our existence. It says nothing about inherent reasons for existence. Naturalism gives no reason for our existence at all. We're here now, what do we do?

But I suspect that's what you mean, Ron. Personally, I like Martin Gardner's CRAP, the completely ridiculous anthropic principle.

On a different note, I sometimes think the hardest thing to understand is that, for some of us, it's precisely the impermanence (temporality), the meaninglessness, the insignificance of our lives that give our lives gravity, meaning, and significance.

Stephanos
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63 posted 11-24-2002 06:25 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

I think it's pretty natural for those who believe in the "Truth" of Christ, to seek support from others who have the same revelation.  I've never denied this.  Nor do I deny the special relationship of the Believer with God in one sense.  He says that through faith we are "adopted" into a family, a brotherhood of believers.  This does put Christians in a unique status with God.  If this were not so, what would we have to preach?  Christians actually claim that they have come into such a relationship with God, where their very sins are all forgiven!  Yet they readily admit (or certainly should) that it is not their virtue that saved them, but the virtue of Christ and what he accomplished on Calvary's cross.  I am not denying that Christians should and do recognize their privileged status.  They should however do this with much humility.  And the grace that makes them privileged should make them more willing to be servants to those who aren't there yet.


There is a reason that I took up the issue of this whole thing with Ron, rather than you ... at least the "preaching" part.  For you have expressed in the past that Ron appeared to be trying to "have it both ways" so to speak.  You yourself have never tried to lend credence to claiming the gospel on one hand, and denying that you have ultimate truth on the other.  You rather say that we should "grow up" beyond the question altogether... (still an ultimate conclusion, I will again mention).  I was talking to Ron about this because it seems peculiarly incongruous with his world view.  Whether I am right, or Ron is right is a different issue, that he and I are currently speaking of.  But the point I am trying to make is that we all approach our "own" differently.  I am more apt to say to Ron, or him to me,  "You should know better than that".  Is often a more personal, more direct approach to things, yet with a more emotional appeal.  (Not that I haven't been direct with you )     But your opinion of how we should (or should not, more accurately) live didactically, at least comports with your basic assumptions about reality.  I think Ron's may counter each other.  Then again, maybe I am misunderstanding him.  I'm sure we will hit on this some more.  My whole point, the claims of you and the claims of Ron are two different situations.  And you marvel that I relate differently to him?  This is not some kind of favoritism, or  family abuse, whichever way you percieve I am erring.  You and Ron are very different and are saying very different things, which elicit very different responses, naturally and reasonably so.  Do you agree?


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-24-2002 06:30 PM).]

Brad
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64 posted 11-24-2002 06:49 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Actually, I agree with just about everything there.

I particularly appreciate:

quote:
I am not denying that Christians should and do recognize their privileged status.  They should however do this with much humility.


The danger of humility is that you defer the responsibility of that privilege. I've at least tentatively tried to associate Russian State Socialism with religion and it's interesting that Lenin felt that members of the Communist Party should be held to a higher standard than non-members when it came to breaking the law.

He lost that battle and Communist Party members became immune to that law.

I suspect a similar tension among Christians.    
Brad
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65 posted 11-24-2002 07:23 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I was just going to add that I don't think Ron's views are inconsistent. It's certainly okay, from my point of view, to believe whatever you want about the transcendent realm. The point, like Ron's references to Hawking's black holes, is that you can believe whatever you want and no way to determine which is better unless you bring it back to the mundane world. Ron is certainly correct that something that works may be untrue, but the only way you'll convince others is to find something that works better.

I don't see Christianity working better (or worse) than anything else.

Off the subject perhaps, but something I wanted to add:

Is there a difference between saying that if you disagree with me, you are damned and if you disagree with me, you will be killed?
Essorant
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66 posted 11-24-2002 07:25 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

It is disappointing that they are getting ever smaller and more select as groups that really care about these religious things in true, and worship faithfully, and practice the customs ongoing in their lives with permanance.  Most people it seems now a day do not have much of their official religion in their daily carriage but put it in the closet and wear it only on a Sunday morning, or rare occassion that crops up and asks for religious accent.  This is long of the current the vicious trinity of moneybusiness, ignorance and hedonism and the image and attitudes that go a long circulating in media.  Time is business, populations of people are forced and forcing themselves to a point where they get so exhausted that they need the personal binges of pleasure and ignorance in order to get away, feel and keep sane, even though they know its wrong.  There is both guilt and innocence here.  The human world would be saved by ourselves in a quickness if we could slow down and behave as we most would like, but we don't have very much time in this lifestyle for the ghostly interests of morals and religion, everything must keep turning, money must keep flowing 24 hours, electricity must be everywhere at once.  
The decline of religion is not really more of any peoples concious choice than it is a forcement of their own working conditions that they didn't forsee would fall upon them in this manner.  
It is hard to know what to convert to when the world is thus.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-24-2002 08:32 PM).]

Denise
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67 posted 11-24-2002 08:22 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

quote:

Denise,

Why aren't you interested in the stories of those who leave the Faith?


Brad, I didn't say that I was not interested in anything, but that I was fascinated with the stories of skeptics who deliberately set out to disprove the Christian faith yet became convinced of the truth of it. So far I haven't read anything that has struck me as a legitimate, convincing argument against the Christian faith, either by those who have left the faith or by those who have other belief systems.

quote:
There's a reason that Denise is far more interested in people who come to believe in what she believes rather than with people who come to believe in something different than she does.


Again, Brad, I didn't say that I was far more interested in one as oppossed to the other. I've always been open to listening to differing viewpoints and reaching my own conclusions based upon the evidences presented. Perhaps that is why I am fascinated by the stories of those who are entrenched skeptics, people not really open to considering the possibility of the truth of Christianity, people who are only setting out to disprove it, because they are coming from a totally opposite mindset than I have of being a naturally open-minded type of person, and yet we've all come to the same conclusions. From my perspective as a Christian, I see the hand of God at work in that, and I think it is awesome.

What is your opinion of why I find that fascinating?


Stephanos
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68 posted 11-24-2002 10:46 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

you wrote, "The danger of humility is that you defer the responsibility of that privilege."


Wouldn't a more accurate statement be, "The danger of humility is that you might defer the responsibility of that priviledge"?

All priviledges come with inherent risks.  Jesus taught that Kingdom .responsibilites and Kingdom blessings go hand in hand.  Paul warned Christians that they would have to stand before the Judgement seat of Christ and give account for what they did and did not do in the body.  Hebrews chapter twelve also describes the discipline and chastening hand of God in a believer's life to make him holy.  There are also the affirmations that there will be bad examples among the faithful.  This is nothing new.  There are good examples too, for those with eyes to see.  

Remember how many there were who did not even laud the greatest example there ever was, Jesus himself.  They still had to have another "sign" from Heaven.  So there is a double-edged sword to your point here.  How long will you have access to examples of godliness, piety, humility, and sainthood that God has, by his grace, allowed to give us light in the world, and say that God has done nothing.  How many times did Jesus say "For those who have eyes to see".  The pathology may not always reside in the objects viewed, but in the eye itself.  If you don't see a "pearl of great price" hidden in the earthen field of humanity, then how can you believe?  But how hard are you looking?  Are your final conclusions based on an exhausted search, or an a priori belief that there just can't be such a pearl?  Do you see a "potter's field", or a field that may harbor a great treasure?  You've got your points, Brad,   many of which I agree with.  But don't exclude yourself from this critical view.  Jesus never claimed to really come for the "well adjusted" anyway did he?  He came for those who knew their illness, admitted their spiritual poverty, and so were in a position of having enough humility to recieve with meekness "the engrafted word which is able to save your souls".


"Is there a difference between saying that if you disagree with me, you are damned and if you disagree with me, you will be killed? "


What are you getting at?  Yes there is a difference between these two statements.  But neither of these are very descriptive of  what God says through the gospel.


Stephen.  
Brad
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69 posted 11-24-2002 11:13 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Oh, that's easy. Validation. The only problem I see is that my belief system and think any belief system requires validation (This is what Stephan affectionately refers to as my 'majority rules' argument.). What I don't understand is that absolute certainty, as far as I can understand it, would not seem to need this. So, why does it fascinate you so? Don't get me wrong, I'd very much like to read the story of CS Lewis's conversion, but I suspect that fervent atheists are far more easily converted than Liberal Humanists. Much is made of the shift from the Far Left to the Far Right for example (Mussolini is perhaps the most famous convert).

As far as seeing nothing that disproves Christianity, I agree, but we both also accept that there is nothing to prove it either. I believe that as long as Christian believers refuse to offer up any candidate for proof, it will remain neither provable nor disprovable.

And therefore I don't have to worry about it.

A simple thought question, close your eyes, and think, "There is a God," open and see the beauty of the world around you. Then close your eyes and think, "There is no God," open and see the beauty of the world around you.

A Christian would argue that a belief does not make God go away. I would argue that a disbelief in God doesn't make beauty go away.

Still, I think there are some ideas that Stephan brought up earlier that I haven't been able to address yet: Autonomy and love. I won't convince anyone to my position but it might help you and others why so many of the arguments for a Christian God fall flat for someone like me. Some of our most basic concepts (the self, love, thought, value etc.) are actually quite different.

The vision of a Christian world, if I took it seriously, wouldn't simply be,"Oh, now I believe in God." To see the hand of God in everything would destroy many of the things that I value today.
Stephanos
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70 posted 11-25-2002 12:11 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

"I would argue that a disbelief in God doesn't make beauty go away. "

And I would agree.  There is always a period of time after a fire has been put out, that we can enjoy the warmth.  This is what Christians call "grace".  He rains on the just and the unjust alike.  But this grace has a purpose.


Stephen.
Denise
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71 posted 11-25-2002 08:54 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

I think you are correct Brad, absolute certainty should not need validation. Inasmuch as you don't buy absolute certainty in a belief system, I think you would necessarily need some type of validation, as in a type of "majority rules" scenario. For those who do ascribe to the possibility of absolute certainty in a belief system, as I do, validation, as such, would not be necessary. The way I see it, if there are no absolutes or the possibility of absolute certainty in an absolute, what could faith ever be based upon?  Wishful thinking, hopeful wishing, never really being certain of anything?

I really don't know who would be harder to convert, an fervent atheist or a liberal humanist. I suppose the person who is the most closed to considering the reality of God and His plan of redemption would have the more difficult time of it. I suppose there are open and closed minds in either persuasion. But, I really don't know, just guessing.
 
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