Christian Morality, Dualism, and Drugs

Hambydammit
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Christian Morality, Dualism, and Drugs

I wonder if any of the Christians lurking about the site have ever considered the problem that drugs create for their religion.  This occurred to me while drinking alcohol, as it turns out, but that's apropos of nothing.

Anyway, here's the problem.  According to Christians, humans have a soul, which is a spiritual entity that transcends the human body.  While we have a brain that controls our body, the "essence" of our being is totally removed from our body.  The body is just a vessel for us to inhabit during our tenure on planet earth.

I was thinking about this concept, and a rather obvious question struck me.  If, as they say, the soul is separate from the body, and our "true self" resides not in our mind, but in our soul, then what's happening when we drink or take drugs?  The scientists say that alcohol is a psychoactive drug that has a depressant effect.  In other words, it interacts with our brains, creating a change in the way the brain works.  This change manifests in social confidence, reduced motor functions, feelings of euphoria, and reduction in reaction time, among others.  But... if changing the brain changes our personality.... then... um... what part of the personality is in the soul?  Other drugs produce more marked effects.  In fact, there are some drugs that can change a person's perceptions and thought processes so radically that they are often described as being "different people" when they're under the influence of the drugs.

But... if chemicals change our perceptions, our personality, our cognitive ability, and our emotions, and they do it by altering our brain, what's left over to be unalterable in our souls?

So, which is it?  Do changes in the brain change our minds, or do changes in the brain change our souls?  If they change our souls, then... um... doesn't that mean that our souls are physical?  If they're physical, what are they?  If they're not physical, then... um... how did something physical interact with them?

While I'm on the subject, if drugs are bad, mmmkay, then why?  A lot of Christians get their panties in a twist about marijuana.  Why?  If it doesn't change your immortal soul, then what's the harm in taking a drug that reduces anxiety and helps you relax?  For that matter, what's so wrong with cocaine?  I mean.. yeah, it can kill you if you take too much, but what's so bad about feeling jittery and talkative for six hours?  If your immortal soul is still going to heaven, what's the justification for getting so upset about changing the body, which is just a temporary vessel anyway?

I remember that when I was a Christian, I had some reason for thinking that drugs were an abomination to God, but I can't for my life remember what it was.

 

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Quote:I mean.. yeah, it can

Quote:

I mean.. yeah, it can kill you if you take too much

So what? That would be like cutting in line at Disneyland.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Christianity sees anything

Christianity sees anything that causes pleasure as bad. Remember H L Mencken's definition of Puritanism?

 

"The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy. "

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I think a point like this

I think a point like this was brought up in some random debate I observed quite a while ago.  I think the theist ended up pulling the "brain acts kind of like a tv antenna receiving the transmissions/instructions from the soul".  So yes, taking drugs, having drastic brain surgery or getting a solid knock to the head can cause apparent changes in personality or behaviour while still leaving the soul as the immaterial home of the 'true self' that the theist so desperately wants it to be.  Under this guess at what the brain does anyway.

A whole other can of worms gets opened trying to explain what the 'nothing' of the immaterial actually 'is' though, and how such a thing interacts with the standard material things we actually have evidence for.


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Hambydammit wrote:According

Hambydammit wrote:

According to Christians, humans have a soul, which is a spiritual entity that transcends the human body.  While we have a brain that controls our body, the "essence" of our being is totally removed from our body.  The body is just a vessel for us to inhabit during our tenure on planet earth.

I was thinking about this concept, and a rather obvious question struck me.  If, as they say, the soul is separate from the body, and our "true self" resides not in our mind, but in our soul, then what's happening when we drink or take drugs? 

 

 

Christians consider humans as living souls, and that the body, soul, and spirit, constitute the whole human organism.  The soul doesn't seperate from the body until death.  For now, the soul and body aspects of human being's are woven together.

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Quote:For now, the soul and

Quote:

For now, the soul and body aspects of human being's are woven together.

Woven together? Clearly, you haven't been here long. This sort of vagueness is not tolerated here. By what mechanism do you propose that this "thing" that does not have any recognizable form, constitution or properties interact with a material causal process and object? It would be no less meaningless if you had declared that the soul resided inside a person's head, which, obviously, would be a stolen concept fallacy, assigning a physical property of location to a thing that you have declared to not have physical properties.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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MattShizzle

MattShizzle wrote:

Christianity sees anything that causes pleasure as bad.

 

Not all of us.  I believe what David said, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." - Psalms 16:11

 

 
 

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deludedgod wrote:Quote:For

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

For now, the soul and body aspects of human being's are woven together.

Woven together? Clearly, you haven't been here long. This sort of vagueness is not tolerated here.  By what mechanism do you propose that this "thing" that does not have any recognizable form, constitution or properties interact with a material causal process and object? 

 

Hamby said that if the body and soul are seperate, then so on and so forth.  I said that Christians do not believe they are seperate, we believe they are woven together while we are alive.  I was trying to clarify his thought, not give a detailed summary.  

We believe that the soul interacts with tangible matter through the physical body.  

 

 

 

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Both deludedgod and I are

Both deludedgod and I are excellent readers.  We know what you said.  Apparently, you did not comprehend that deludedgod wants you to explain the mechanism by which the soul and body are"woven together."  Weaving is a physical action, and if the spirit is not physical, this is a stolen concept.

Quote:
I was trying to clarify his thought, not give a detailed summary. 

You have clarified nothing.  You've used a word which refers to the physical to explain something that is supposedly not physical.

Quote:
We believe that the soul interacts with tangible matter through the physical body. 

How?

 

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Uh... ...Why is it that

Uh...

 

...Why is it that imbibing alchohol so often tends to lead to productive trains of thought? Sticking out tongue

 

Now, theists, watch this:

Quote:
For that matter, what's so wrong with cocaine?  I mean.. yeah, it can kill you if you take too much, but what's so bad about feeling jittery and talkative for six hours?

Well, I personally do not use cocaine or intend to use cocaine because of some of the nasty physiological effects the chemical has on the body. It is toxic in high quantity, regular use can lead to paranoia and the increase in heart rate can become a life-threatening health concern with prolonged use.

Since I enjoy staying relatively healthy, and don't consider the trade-off in euphoria or alertness worthwhile, cocaine use is wrong for me.

 

Did you see that, Christians? I didn't agree with Hamby that cocaine would be an alright substance for me to use - and I didn't need to resort to a higher power to do it. Isn't that neat? Simply by recognizing that my personhood is attached to my physical body, I rejected a relatively unhealthy activity even though I'm not under threat of Hank kicking my ass Jesus throwing me into the Lake of Fire.

I hope you noticed something else: I didn't project my personal preferences into absolute standards for the world. I didn't say, 'So it's just outright wrong to do'; I said it was wrong for me. Yup, believe it or not, I can really do that - but can you? When you hold to a higher power, can you say that something is wrong for yourself but might be okay for me without being contradictory? And if you can't, do you not see how this will inevitably lead to conflict?

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"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
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Beatz wrote: Not all of

Beatz wrote:

 

Not all of us.  I believe what David said, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. " - Psalms 16:11

 

 

 

I thought masturbation was a sin? 

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Apparently, you did not comprehend that deludedgod wants you to explain the mechanism by which the soul and body are"woven together."   

That's not fair. He doesn't know the mechanism because it's not in the Bible; only God knows.  

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Dear Hamby,I don't know how

Dear Hamby,

I don't know how to use the quote function very well.  Maybe you can show.

Yours:  "Apparently, you did not comprehend that deludedgod wants you to explain the mechanism by which the soul and body are"woven together." 

Ok, if thats what he meant by "material causal process and object," then you're right, I didn't comprehend that.

So do you want me to explain how God weaves the body and soul together?  Or explain God? 

I can't do either, but I thought maybe the soul and body being together and not seperate, had some bearing on your train of thought about drugs, the body, and  the soul.

 

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First, of course, you need

First, of course, you need to demonstrate souls exist. 


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MattShizzle wrote:I thought

Matt said:  "I thought masturbation was a sin?" 

Nice.  But that was quoted from the NASB, I think the other translations render it better; "At" your right hand, et cetera.

But good one, regardless.

 

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Quote:While I'm on the

Quote:

While I'm on the subject, if drugs are bad, mmmkay, then why?

 

Oh absoloutly why wouldn't we want other people to destroy themselves? Why not let other people drive drunk and take out a few people or snort some smack and cap a few people to get another hit?

 

Most of the people in my age group can't wait for the weekend so they can get plastered and do all the stupid shit that usually follows with consumption of alcohol such as breaking shit and probably hurting themselves in the process.


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"According to Christians,

"According to Christians, humans have a soul, which is a spiritual entity that transcends the human body.  While we have a brain that controls our body, the "essence" of our being is totally removed from our body.  The body is just a vessel for us to inhabit during our tenure on planet earth." ~ Hamby

    Yeah, 'Linguistic wishing well of Babel' !  Funny words , Soul, Transcends. ??? Umm, I was dead for an eternity , now I am "alive" , in my body, to then be of the next transition "dead", the afterlife as ALL always transcends, as all is a transition of eternal movement.

Wow words , love/ hate/ prelife/afterlife , then the babel linguistics gets even worse. Words like soul, god, heaven , hell, angels, devils, material, immaterial, etc. Volumes of philosophy .... I think thermodynamics is a best gawed summary yet, and so I say "oneness" for the purpose of communication, then I get crucified over words. 

LOL RRS , Go Go Communication .... Fix "Communication Breakdown" .... drives me insane .... , me god, LOL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiL1sjGIcew

 

 


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.....

I love cheeses....


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Me too ....

Me too ....


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Quote:Oh absoloutly why

Quote:

Oh absoloutly why wouldn't we want other people to destroy themselves? Why not let other people drive drunk and take out a few people or snort some smack and cap a few people to get another hit?

 

Most of the people in my age group can't wait for the weekend so they can get plastered and do all the stupid shit that usually follows with consumption of alcohol such as breaking shit and probably hurting themselves in the process.

Cpt_Pineapple, have you ever tried just making an argument instead of making emotional and sarcastic asides?

Is there an actual answer to the question in this, or are you just bitching?

 

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An interesting discussion.

An interesting discussion. It brought to mind a question I'll have to remember to ask theists when in debate with them: Can a soul change?

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:wouldn't

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

wouldn't we want other people to destroy themselves? Why not let other people drive drunk and take out a few people or snort some smack and cap a few people to get another hit?

 

What about a guy with a wife and two kids who was just sitting on his couch smoking a joint and watching tv after work when the cops busted in?

What about the fact that drugs being illegal is what drives the exchange of them into violent cultures in the first place?

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In lieu of an actual

In lieu of an actual argument from Pineapple, (imagine that) I'm going to address an impediment to critical thinking -- namely, the hidden premise.

It's relatively easy for most people to recognize appeals to emotion, but we must consider that an appeal to emotion, in and of itself, is not necessarily wrong.  Sometimes, people use emotion to reinforce perfectly good arguments.   There's nothing inherently wrong with reinforcing logic with emotion.  Supposing that you, gentle reader, are an atheist bent on ridding the country of theist nonsense, do you often get inspired when something makes you particularly mad?  Emotion is a good motivator, and is not inherently wrong in an opinion piece.

Having said that, emotion also tends to cloud judgment.  In fact, I have made what I believe to be particularly strong arguments that emotion's main evolutionary function is exactly that -- getting humans to do things they might not otherwise do with only reasoned thought.  Bearing this in mind, we need to be vigilant when presented with any appeal to emotion, especially if we agree with the argument being presented.

Let's look at Cpt pineapple's post and see if we can find some hidden premises:

Cpt_Pineapple wrote:
Oh absoloutly why wouldn't we want other people to destroy themselves? Why not let other people drive drunk and take out a few people or snort some smack and cap a few people to get another hit?

So, what's the point here?  It seems obvious that the good Captain doesn't approve of alcohol or cocaine, right?  Well, maybe so, but let's see what these sentences actually say... or more importantly, what they don't.

First, "Why wouldn't we want other people to destroy themselves?"  This isn't a premise, but there are hidden premises in it.  It's just an appeal to emotion, and it assumes that we will accept hidden premises as true.  (Remember, a premise is a statement.  This is a question, and doesn't actually propose anything directly!)

Premise: Drugs and alcohol destroy people

Premise: Condoning drug and alcohol use is equal to wanting other people to destroy themselves

Premise: Drug and alcohol use are equivalent.

This last premise is a really sneaky one.  Notice that my OP was about alcohol and drugs.  Clearly, alcohol is also a drug, but I separated the two in the OP.  I didn't really explain why I separated the two, but isn't it interesting that the two are joined here?  The government separates alcohol and drugs.  Why?  There are unanswered questions.  Should alcohol and drugs be considered differently?  If so, why?  If they are considered separately, do the properties by which we delineate the differences lead logically to separate judgments regarding their use?

I asked a very pointed question in the OP, which, if considered objectively, leads to a lot more pointed questions.  Unfortunately, responses like the Captains only serve to reinforce the boundaries that I was questioning to begin with.  With no actual content at all, she has emotionally appealed to us to automatically assume the correctness of these three premises!  Clever readers will notice that my OP left this trap open to illustrate just how many assumptions people make when thinking about drugs and alcohol.

Quote:
Why not let other people drive drunk and take out a few people or snort some smack and cap a few people to get another hit?

Premise: Condoning alcohol = condoning drunk driving

Premise: Condoning drunk driving = allowing people to die

Premise: People who drink will necessarily drive, -or- condoning drinking will increase the prevalence of drunk driving

Premise: Taking cocaine = promoting violence

Quote:
Most of the people in my age group can't wait for the weekend so they can get plastered and do all the stupid shit that usually follows with consumption of alcohol such as breaking shit and probably hurting themselves in the process.

Premise: Teenagers drinking on weekends = breaking shit and hurting themselves

Ok... so we've unearthed lots of hidden premises.  The first thing that a good critical thinker would do at this point would be to examine each premise for validity and external truth.  Consider the premise, condoning alcohol is the same as condoning drunk driving.  All we have to do is ask ourselves if it's possible to condone drinking alcohol while simultaneously opposing driving drunk.  This is simply answered.  In fact, I'm a great example.  I love alcohol.  Unabashedly.  I also have an almost religious objection to driving drunk.  After a close call at a checkpoint nearly a decade ago, I have been adamant in my determination never to drive after drinking.  I always walk, get a designated driver, call a cab, or take a bus after drinking.  Always.  I always encourage my friends to do the same.  It's easy to tell that I am opposed to drinking and driving, and in favor of drinking.

So, this unspoken premise is clearly false.  Condoning drinking is not the same as condoning drinking and driving.

However, if I may presume to speak for the Captain, she might well object that her unspoken premise is NOT that condoning drinking is the same as condoning drinking and driving.  She might point out that regardless of how we feel about the matter, in practice, allowing drinking is condoning drinking and driving because there are people who are not opposed to drinking and driving.

If any of you have watched me argue with Cpt in the past, you'll recognize a pattern here.  She will say something with an unspoken premise, and refuse to state her exact premise.  Then, when her implied premise is refuted, she will claim that it was not, in fact, her implied premise.  (She will also not tell you exactly what her implied premise really is...)  Once this cycle has started, it can go on indefinitely.  You can refute points you think she's making for days, and you'll never score an actual debate win because there's never been a clear elucidation of premises.

Politicians are very good at this. They say things with relatively clear implications, and people who want to agree will tend to agree.  Those who oppose the implications will object, only to be chided for not understanding the "subtlety" of the argument, or some other such rebuke.  (In all fairness, I doubt that Cpt_Pineapple is trying to trick or trap anyone.  I think she just has a strong emotional feeling about this, and hasn't figured out how to put it into an argument.  There's a lesson here.  If you feel very strongly but can't explain it logically, you probably need to do some more thinking before you commit to your own viewpoint as true.  It might be just emotions, not objective truth.)

To finish up, I'm going to show you how dangerous hidden premises really are.  Not only is it possible for them to be lurking in the argument, it's possible that hidden premises have their own hidden premises!

Premise: Condoning drug and alcohol use is equal to wanting other people to destroy themselves

Remember, don't stop looking just because you've found a hidden premise.  Every premise can contain hidden premises.  Until you find something that is clearly articulated and strongly supported, keep digging.  Anyway, hidden in this premise is the premise that using drugs or alcohol is equal to destroying oneself.  Hidden in that is the premise that destroying oneself is necessarily a bad thing.  Hidden in that premise is a weak definition!  What, exactly, does it mean to destroy oneself?

So, out of this one premise, we've got a lot of unsupported assertions which we'd certainly need to hash out if we were going to consider the question objectively.  Drugs and alcohol are a really great example of how appeals to emotion work.  Most people have some kind of strong feeling about it.  After all, most everyone knows someone who was affected by a drunk driving accident, and most everyone knows someone who's had a drug or alcohol abuse problem.  When things are this close to home, we often feel like something needs to be decided now! 

A sense of urgency is one of the best tools used by salesmen around the world.  Unfortunately, it's also been the downfall of impulse shoppers everywhere.  No matter how strongly we feel that a problem is really important right now, that is no justification for accepting a conclusion based on weak argument.

Now that I've dissected Pineapple's little rant, let's make a couple more observations.  Do you see any inherent assumptions made by the Pineapple that are not explicitly stated in my OP?  Does it seem to you that Pineapple believes I am advocating condoning drugs and alcohol?  If it does seem that way to you, take a minute and reread my OP.  Clearly, I'm questioning a widely held belief about the "badness" of drugs, and I certainly used some cheeky language that indicates my amusement at the argument, but did I state a conclusion about how we ought to condone drugs and alcohol?

A careful reading of my post will demonstrate that it was not an argument.  It was a debate topic.  To adapt Monty Python, an argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.  It isn't the questioning of another person's argument.

Ok... I will own up to a little trick in debate.  I used some leading language, and my position is relatively clear from the OP.  I do think that alcohol is just fine, and I don't have any problem with marijuana, although for my life I can't figure out what is so great about it.  However, notice that I didn't use my opinion on the matter as an actual argument?  Go back and read my post one more time.  Can you see now how clear it is that I have no conclusion?  I asked questions, and implied my own beliefs.  Nothing more.  My own beliefs are not part of my questions.  They're just asides.  Even so, notice that Pineapple ran with what she "thought" my conclusion was, and tailored her response to questions I didn't ask?  Be careful not to argue against something that hasn't been proposed.  That's a neat trick in debate, actually... lead people into arguing against your personal opinion instead of your stated premises or questions.  Clever, no?

I never mentioned condoning alcohol or drugs.  I asked why they're bad.  Now, suppose Pineapple had answered my OP thusly:

BizzaroPineapple wrote:
Hamby, I do think drugs are inherently bad.  They destroy people and lead to drunk driving, which also kills people.  Condoning drugs is equivalent to condoning people destroying themselves.  Destroying yourself is bad, mmmkay?   (Sorry... couldn't resist...)  Taking cocaine is the same as promoting violence.  Teenagers that use drugs or alcohol often hurt themselves.  For these reasons, I think drugs and alcohol are bad.

Had she said this, there most certainly would be some discussion necessary.  Many of these premises are questionable and contain their own hidden premises.  However, notice how much easier it is to spot the gaps in the argument when its stated directly, and not hidden within a snarky emotional response?

That's the whole point.  Don't let yourself be distracted by the snark.  I almost let myself do that, and allowed myself to respond with my own snarky little comment that didn't add anything to the discussion.  On further reflection, I'm glad I let my intellect prevail, and took the time to expose her lack of argument for exactly what it is.  Would that more people would do this regularly.

 

 

 

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Ergh... I forgot to mention

Ergh... I forgot to mention one more hidden premise... I asked why drugs are bad.  I didn't ask anything about what the law should be, or whether drugs should be condoned.  Pineapple's response has the hidden premise that anything which is bad ought not be condoned.

That's a big, big, hidden premise.  Not only do we not have a framework for "bad," we don't have any connection to personal responsibility regarding it.

Just as an example, we can say that with regard to the average Western sense of fashion, bright silver jumpsuits with pink boas and undersized tu-tus are bad.  However, it's hard to say that we don't condone a person's wearing such an outfit if they desire, right?  There's certainly no basis inherent in the quality of "bad" that makes legislation or public censure a logical necessity.  If "Bad" doesn't necessarily equal "Ought not be condoned" then Pineapple's argument falls particularly hard!

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I often notice the same red

I often notice the same red herring from smokers when it's pointed out that public smoking bans are good because of the harm from secondhand smoke. They often say something along the lines of then alcohol should be banned due to drinking and driving. The problem is that drinking is not equivalent to drinking and driving, while smoking around nonsmokers is in and of itself harmful to nonsmokers. Someone can drink themselves to death and as long as they don't drive or do anything else that could cause harm by itself or when combined with drinking and nobody else will be harmed.

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Essentially true.There's a

Essentially true.

There's a nasty side to the argument you just made, though.  If your logic is to hold, then factories which produce harmful waste pollutants and emit them into the atmosphere ought also to be banned.  After all, everyone who lives close to such a factory is directly effected, and everyone who lives on the planet is effected by the cumulative effect of thousands of such factories.

You see, there's still a hidden premise in here:  That which is harmful to non-participants ought to be banned.

If that's true, then almost everything in the industrial world ought to be banned.  Of course... a lot of medicine is produced in factories that produce waste...

How do we weigh the benefit of having modern conveniences... like cars... against the harmful effect of making and using cars?  Ought cars to be banned because they cause so much pollution?  I'd be willing to bet that worldwide, there are more health problems attributable to long term exposure to car exhaust than second hand smoke.

Again, without a framework, arguing about alcohol, or cocaine, or medicine, or cars or cigarettes is just bickering.   Unless there is an actual premise from which we can deduce what ought to be done IF we are to attain an agreed upon goal, we aren't really accomplishing much.  If we pass legislation, we've just acted on less than complete and valid reasoning.

 

 

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I would say anything that

I would say anything that harms non-participants that doesn't have a benefit to everyone that outweighs said harm should be banned. Cigarette smoking has no benefit. Obviously cars, factories, etc do, unless you want to live like the Amish. Our society could continue with almost no noticible change if tobacco was suddenly eliminated, while eliminating industry or cars would change it to the point of unrecognizability. Of course there should still be laws limiting the ammount of polution cars/industry cause as much as feasible.

 

And, of course I was only talking about in public, not an outlawing of tobacco altogether.

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Quote:I would say anything

Quote:
I would say anything that harms non-participants that doesn't have a benefit to everyone that outweighs said harm should be banned.

People who never have a bad leg never need crutches.  Crutches don't benefit everyone.  Should they be outlawed?  After all, they're made of wood, and cutting trees produces waste and reduces the total volume of CO2 that can be converted into O2.

It's a silly example, but the point should be obvious.  Your statement is too broad to be meaningful.

Define "harm."

Define "non-participant."

Define "benefit."

Provide a scale for "outweigh."

Quote:
Cigarette smoking has no benefit.

It doesn't?  Have you never noticed that smokers feel a mild sense of euphoria and relaxation?  Smoking cigarettes makes a lot of people happy.  Is being happy not beneficial?

This is why you must define your words much more carefully.

Quote:
Obviously cars, factories, etc do, unless you want to live like the Amish.

Why shouldn't we live like the Amish?  It would cause a lot less harm to people by reducing almost all pollution.  People don't need cars or computers to live.  We survived hundreds of thousands of years without either.

Quote:
Our society could continue with almost no noticible change if tobacco was suddenly eliminated, while eliminating industry or cars would change it to the point of unrecognizability.

While this is true, I fail to see how it fits into an argument.  What conclusion do you draw from this, and what justification do you use?  You have the hidden premise that anything which causes major change is bad.  That's particularly curious, because if your own economic changes were imposed upon the U.S., the changes in the economy would be extraordinary.  By what measure do you judge "unrecognizability"?

Quote:
Of course there should still be laws limiting the ammount of polution cars/industry cause as much as feasible.

Why?

 

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I don't consider giving the

I don't consider giving the individual pleasure to be a valid reason to keep something legal if it causes harm to others - by that logic we should allow rape - yes it harms the victims, but it gives the rapist pleasure. I don't want to play word games with defining every little thing. Obviously, we can't make a mathematical formula for what should and shouldn't be allowed - that's why we have an entire system of legislatures.

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Quote:I don't want to play

Quote:
I don't want to play word games with defining every little thing.

That, I'm afraid, is the whole point.  Defining your words is not playing a word game.  NOT defining games, however, can be called a word game because it allows one to shift positions and still say the same words!

I'm not trying to say that there isn't a real difference between smoking cigarettes, driving a car, and raping someone.  Clearly the three are vastly different in significant ways.  However, the intuitively obvious differences are much harder to express in clearly defined arguments.   Even so, they can be expressed.  Most people don't bother to try to create coherent positions precisely because they take so many things for granted.  As I've illustrated, hidden premises -- while they might be true -- are by no means given.  In any good argument, you start from the beginning and justify each step.  Saying, "Well, I don't have to be precise because it's obvious" is no good.  Someone from the other side can say the same thing while arguing for an opposing viewpoint.

Quote:
Obviously, we can't make a mathematical formula for what should and shouldn't be allowed - that's why we have an entire system of legislatures.

You're missing the point.  It's true that there's no absolutely right or wrong answer, and this kind of thing isn't reducable to math.  However, accepting arguments with hidden premises is bad critical thinking.  If you're not going to hold someone to the standard of expressing their belief completely and coherently, you might as well flip a coin and make laws on that basis.

We must question the hidden premises, and we must demand yardsticks by which to measure our issues.  If drugs and rape are both bad, are they bad by the same yardstick?  If so, which is worse?  What is the justification for using the measure you prefer?

You see what I'm getting at?  These are hard questions, but we bust the balls off of theists when they take anything as a given.  Why should we allow ourselves the double standard of shirking away from hard definitions?  What justification do we have for allowing ourselves to use fuzzy logic when theists are not granted the same priviledge?  Are not the real world consequences of drug legislation just as relevant as the real world consequences of religious teaching?

 

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You're right Hamby, that was

You're right Hamby, that was an emotional response. In fact when I read your reply, I almost typed another emotional rant. And when I saw the other booze topic I wanted to go on yet another.

 

Maybe I should just stay out of the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Quote:and tailored her

Quote:

and tailored her response to questions I didn't ask?

*Snickers*

That sounds like it could come out of the Sarah Palin Handbook on Formal Debating

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Quote:Defining your words is

Quote:
Defining your words is not playing a word game.

I disagree, actually.

 

Nearly everything you say, no matter how well-defined and tip-toey your words are, is going to have subtext and 'hidden premises'. Even something as simple and well-defined as a mathematical formula contains the 'hidden premise' that math is an accurate system.

 

IMHO, this train of thought gives theists all the ammunition they could ever hope for:

 

Me: There is no evidence in the geological column for a massive global flood.

YEC: lol hidden premizez! science don work!

ME: ... *sigh*

 

Word games are abominational perversions of language. In order to communicate and explore, because we aren't telepathic or omniscient, certain degrees of reasonable assumption always have to be made. Using this natural deficiency in the human condition to accuse your opponent of fallacious reasoning rather than addressing their argument is lazy at best (I note a lot of linguists use this tactic to 'win' an argument), and defeats the whole purpose of discourse and deduction at worst.

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That's how I see it. You

That's how I see it. You should usually assume from context what the definition is or use the most common meaning. For example, if you accuse your opponent of being completely far right, you probably mean he is an extreme conservative, not that he is totally correct or unable to use his left side. Getting into definitions only matters if things truly are vague.

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Quote:So do you want me to

Quote:
So do you want me to explain how God weaves the body and soul together?  Or explain God? 

I can't do either, but I thought maybe the soul and body being together and not seperate, had some bearing on your train of thought about drugs, the body, and  the soul.

 

 

Don't believe in God? I can't fix that.

Interesting. You'll fix our lack of belief in God by not being able to explain him.


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I don't need to explain

I don't need to explain Him.

The point of the statement is that I can't fix your lack of belief in God. 

You all have read the Bible, or the buybull as you put it.  And you've passed it off as fiction, or untrue. 

If God exist, couldn't He fix your lack of belief? 

Don't believe in God? I can't fix that.

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Quote:If God exist, couldn't

Quote:
If God exist, couldn't He fix your lack of belief?

This is a terrific question, IMHO. If God existed, he certainly could fix my lack of belief. In fact, it would be rather easy for a deity of his power to do so - and, if we also assume he loves me, he'd want to do that wouldn't he? I mean, I sure wouldn't want to burn in Hell forever if such a place existed, so why wouldn't a God who knows that and loves me let me know that he's here watching?

 

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"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

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Yeah Kevin, and because the

Yeah Kevin, and because the theist god of abe is a real human invented ego manic saddistist fucker attention whore.


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Kevin R Brown wrote:Quote:If

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Quote:
If God exist, couldn't He fix your lack of belief?

This is a terrific question, IMHO. If God existed, he certainly could fix my lack of belief. In fact, it would be rather easy for a deity of his power to do so - and, if we also assume he loves me, he'd want to do that wouldn't he? I mean, I sure wouldn't want to burn in Hell forever if such a place existed, so why wouldn't a God who knows that and loves me let me know that he's here watching?

 

I agree, if God existed and IF He loved you, He would fix your unbelief.

Don't believe in God? I can't fix that.

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Kevin R Brown wrote:Quote:If

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Quote:
If God exist, couldn't He fix your lack of belief?

This is a terrific question, IMHO. If God existed, he certainly could fix my lack of belief. In fact, it would be rather easy for a deity of his power to do so - and, if we also assume he loves me, he'd want to do that wouldn't he? I mean, I sure wouldn't want to burn in Hell forever if such a place existed, so why wouldn't a God who knows that and loves me let me know that he's here watching?

 


Agreed.

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Quote:I agree, if God

Quote:
I agree, if God existed and IF He loved you, He would fix your unbelief.

Well, okay; so you're saying that he must not love me, then. Before we carry this further - the God you have put your faith into is Yahweh, the Christian deity, correct?

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
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...Nevermind. The link in

...Nevermind. The link in your sig answered the question for me:

FundyKookWebsite wrote:

There is one God, eternally existent in the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who is Creator of all things seen and unseen, infinitely perfect in love, power, and knowledge. These persons are the same in substance, equal in power and glory (Mt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). God as Father reigns with providential care over Hisuniverse, His creatures, and all of human history according to his sovereign purposes.

Beatz wrote:

I agree, if God existed and IF He loved you, He would fix your unbelief.

 

...According to the belief that you prescribe to, God is infinitely perfect in love; if he didn't love me, that would be rather petty for a supreme being, and it would falsify this premise. Now, just just agreed, if the God fitting this premise existed, he would do something to make me believe in him.

Yet, he's done nothing. Not one single thing.

 

He can't just have 'opted' to do nothing because he doesn't love me because, remember, that falsifies the premise of his all-loving quality. If such a being existed, it would necessarily demonstrate itself to me so I wouldn't be condemned to Hell for my transgressions (...which is a further contradiction, but lets leave that aside for now). So, what are we left to conclude?

That such a being does not exist, and cannot exist.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Dear Kevin,I do not know how

Dear Kevin,

I do not know how to use the quote function very well, so excuse me.

Yours:  "...According to the belief that you prescribe to, God is infinitely perfect in love; if he didn't love me, that would be rather petty for a supreme being, and it would falsify this premise."

If God does not love you, it does not falsify the premise.  I'm sure you have read the Bible, or the buybull as you guys put it.  And according to our fairy tails, God loves whom He chooses to love.  Being infinite in love does not necessarily mean it must be made manifest towards everyone.  If this were the case, that would mean He must love Lucifer, which is not the case.  However, there is debate over how God loves. 

In Reformed Theology, some Theologians opt for the position that God has selective love, or different levels of love, but nevertheless, loves everyone.  The perfect love, of course would be for Him to reveal Himself to humans, and save them from His wrath to come.  The other love (which I don't believe to be genuine love), would be that those whom God has opted to pass by, and leave in their sins, are given material provisions for their short stay on earth.  (I do understand that you believe the sun, breath, and food, are all natural amenities that are not provided to you by a creator God.) 

Yours:  "He can't just have 'opted' to do nothing because he doesn't love me because, remember, that falsifies the premise of his all-loving quality."

This is a common objection to Christianity.  "If God is all loving, how can He put people in hell," or, "If God is all loving, how come He doesn't reveal Himself to me"? 

God has not opted to do nothing, He does something with everything, and everyone.  Everyone has purpose, and whether that purpose be for God to manifest His love to you, or whether that purpose be for God to continue to blind you, and only manifest His wrath towards you, is all of His free choice.

"The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom." - Proverbs 16:4

Yours:  "If such a being existed, it would necessarily demonstrate itself to me so I wouldn't be condemned to Hell for my transgressions (...which is a further contradiction, but lets leave that aside for now)."

Yes, I understand the contradiction. 

Yours:  "So, what are we left to conclude?

That such a being does not exist, and cannot exist."

LOL.  Nice try.  But no one will ever prove that God does not exist.

Don't believe in God? I can't fix that.

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Beatz wrote:Yours:  "So,

Beatz wrote:

Yours:  "So, what are we left to conclude?

That such a being does not exist, and cannot exist."

LOL.  Nice try.  But no one will ever prove that God does not exist.

which is beside the point.

Its not about "proof", it's about the relative weight of evidence, and there is negligible positive evidence.

All the justifications for belief in God are either arguments from ignorance, AKA 'God of the Gaps", or personal response to some 'spiritual' experience. Given the wide range of versions of 'God' conceived of by different individuals, and across different cultures, this only points to the fact that people are prone to have certain sorts of emotional experiences which are classed as 'spiritual'. They are either too vague or mutually contradictory when looked at as a whole to serve as evidence for some actual entity external to the individual. That is not disproof, but it sure can't serve as halfway decent evidence for a God, either.

Given the propensities of the human mind to come to believe the most outrageous things about real-world things which can be clearly disproved, we'd need a lot more solid evidence than this to take seriously the whole 'higher power' thing. If choose to believe in God but reject UFO's, alien abductions, ghosts and fairies, you are being inconsistent and somewhat arbitrary, 'cause there is at least as much evidence and personal testimony for these and a host of totally whacko ideas as there is for any particular God.

 

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Dear Bob,Yours:  "Its not

Dear Bob,

Yours:  "Its not about "proof", it's about the relative weight of evidence, and there is negligible positive evidence."

I do agree that it's about evidence, but isn't a "relative weight of evidence" proof?   I'm sure I wont agree with what you have passed off as "negligible postive evidence."

Yours:  "All the justifications for belief in God are either arguments from ignorance, AKA 'God of the Gaps", or personal response to some 'spiritual' experience."

This statement is way to sweeping.  When I am posed with a difficult question, I will be the first to admit that I don't know.  At the same time, no one has it all figured out.  We just work with what we have.  

I do not argue for the existence of God.  The Bible never tells us to do that.  On the contrary, as you know, I believe that all humans are born with the knowledge that God exist.  For the most part, I just want atheist to have a clear conception of Christianity, and what the Bible teaches.  Whether you want to hate it, say it's not true, or rid the world of it, that is all your prerogative. 

Lastly, my belief in God is not based on some spiritual experience.  Christianity is not based on personal experience.  It's based on a body of evidence and truth.

Yours:  "Given the wide range of versions of 'God' conceived of by different individuals, and across different cultures, this only points to the fact that people are prone to have certain sorts of emotional experiences which are classed as 'spiritual'."

I beg to differ.  Given the wide range of version of 'God' is further proof that humans are inantely prone to believe there is a higher power.  There is probably not one atheist here who wasn't a Christian, Catholic, Muslim, et cetera, at one point, and changed paths somewhere along the line.  Everyone searches for purpose and meaning, because God has placed that inside everyone.

Yours:  "Given the propensities of the human mind to come to believe the most outrageous things about real-world things which can be clearly disproved, we'd need a lot more solid evidence than this to take seriously the whole 'higher power' thing."

I will grant it to you, that humans believe outrageous things.  Are you willing to exclude yourself from those who believe outrageous things? 

Concerning your last statement.  I'm sorry, but you will have to work with the same amount of evidence I have.  This is a tired debate, which is why I don't debate it.  If the things we can see are not enough for you, then I can't help you.

Yours:  "If choose to believe in God but reject UFO's, alien abductions, ghosts and fairies, you are being inconsistent and somewhat arbitrary, 'cause there is at least as much evidence and personal testimony for these and a host of totally whacko ideas as there is for any particular God."

Again, this is a very broad, and sweeping statment.  I don't reject those things in a sense, and let me explain.  If there is a spiritual realm, and if evil spirits are granted power to make humans delusional, then it would be possible for humans to have those "whacko" experiences.  Of course I don't believe in 'literal' UFO's, alien abductions, ghosts (the tv ones I think you're speaking of), and fairies, but again, if there was a spirit realm, and if evil spirits had the power to make humans conjecture those thoughts, I could understand why people think they literally experience those things.

My belief in God and rejection of those literal objects is not arbitrary.  Is your belief in science and rejection of God arbitrary?  Does science disprove the existence of a higher power?  My belief in God is based on the same evidence everyone else has to work with.  Call me irrational, but it actually does not take a behemoth amount of evidence for me to believe.   

Don't believe in God? I can't fix that.

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Apparently not, since

Apparently not, since there's NO actual evidence...


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That's fine, Matt.

That's fine, Matt.


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Beatz wrote:Dear

Beatz wrote:

Dear Bob,

Yours:  "Its not about "proof", it's about the relative weight of evidence, and there is negligible positive evidence."

I do agree that it's about evidence, but isn't a "relative weight of evidence" proof?

Definitely not - I am trying to make a very important distinction here.

Absolute proof can only apply to deductive logic and disciplines derived from it such as mathematics, where you can establish by rigorous argument whether or not some statement is consistent with a set of pre-defined axioms. Valid deductions from those axioms can be said to be true in the wider sense, to the extent that the starting assumptions or axioms accurately reflect reality. But of course since we can never be 100% confident that our ideas about the nature of the universe are accurate, even a 100% valid logical deduction does not necessarily lead to a 100% true, in the wider sense, conclusion.

People do use 'proof' in the weaker sense to apply to some proposition that seems to them very strongly supported by the evidence, but that begs the question.

Quote:

I'm sure I wont agree with what you have passed off as "negligible postive evidence."

Yours:  "All the justifications for belief in God are either arguments from ignorance, AKA 'God of the Gaps", or personal response to some 'spiritual' experience."

This statement is way to sweeping.  When I am posed with a difficult question, I will be the first to admit that I don't know.  At the same time, no one has it all figured out.  We just work with what we have.  

I do not argue for the existence of God.  The Bible never tells us to do that.

Where do the ideas of the writers of the Bible come from? Why should it be given any special weight?

Quote:

 On the contrary, as you know, I believe that all humans are born with the knowledge that God exist.

Why? I certainly do not recall ever having any thought like this. After much introspection I feel that any lurking feeling that there may be a God was only there because of the way so many adults around me treated the idea in the same way you seem to, as a virtually self-evident.

Quote:

For the most part, I just want atheist to have a clear conception of Christianity, and what the Bible teaches.  Whether you want to hate it, say it's not true, or rid the world of it, that is all your prerogative.

The bible 'teaches' many really nasty things, is full of clear contradictions, and is unequivocally not worth treating seriously as a source of unimpeachable moral or spiritual advice.
Quote:

Lastly, my belief in God is not based on some spiritual experience.  Christianity is not based on personal experience.  It's based on a body of evidence and truth.

What evidence. That you include the word 'truth' in there is a silly non-sequiter. It ain't worth treating as truth until the evidence is evaluated.

Quote:

Yours:  "Given the wide range of versions of 'God' conceived of by different individuals, and across different cultures, this only points to the fact that people are prone to have certain sorts of emotional experiences which are classed as 'spiritual'."

I beg to differ.  Given the wide range of version of 'God' is further proof that humans are inately prone to believe there is a higher power.

I agree, I think that is what I was saying at one point in my post. It does not remotely mean that the belief is objectively justified.

Quote:

There is probably not one atheist here who wasn't a Christian, Catholic, Muslim, et cetera, at one point, and changed paths somewhere along the line.

We know this is factually incorrect.

Quote:

Everyone searches for purpose and meaning, because God has placed that inside everyone.

No, we search for purpose and meaning as a side-effect of being blessed/cursed with a large conscious brain, and the urge to understand the world, which is generally helpful toward our survival, which is our particular survival strategy as a species. Actually not everyone bothers about that so much, from my observations.

Quote:
Yours:  "Given the propensities of the human mind to come to believe the most outrageous things about real-world things which can be clearly disproved, we'd need a lot more solid evidence than this to take seriously the whole 'higher power' thing."

I will grant it to you, that humans believe outrageous things.  Are you willing to exclude yourself from those who believe outrageous things?

In terms of things which can clearly be shown to be outrageous by comparing the ideas against a lot of evidence, I don't think I do. If the evidence is not clear, but fairly strongly suggestive, I try to maintain a more tentative acceptance.

Quote:

Concerning your last statement.  I'm sorry, but you will have to work with the same amount of evidence I have.  This is a tired debate, which is why I don't debate it.  If the things we can see are not enough for you, then I can't help you.

Yours:  "If choose to believe in God but reject UFO's, alien abductions, ghosts and fairies, you are being inconsistent and somewhat arbitrary, 'cause there is at least as much evidence and personal testimony for these and a host of totally whacko ideas as there is for any particular God."

Again, this is a very broad, and sweeping statment.  I don't reject those things in a sense, and let me explain.  If there is a spiritual realm, and if evil spirits are granted power to make humans delusional, then it would be possible for humans to have those "whacko" experiences.  Of course I don't believe in 'literal' UFO's, alien abductions, ghosts (the tv ones I think you're speaking of), and fairies, but again, if there was a spirit realm, and if evil spirits had the power to make humans conjecture those thoughts, I could understand why people think they literally experience those things.

We have much simpler explanations of why some people are inclined to believe those things

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This is where I slice your fingers off with Occam's Razor. Once you start such conjectures, you are actually ignoring a virtually infinite set of equally 'plausible', or I would say 'implausible' scenarios, which, freed from the constraints of being consistent with what we actually have learnt about reality thru serious investigation, can 'explain' anything. You are left with selecting the one which appeals most to your personal preconceptions.

Science has developed by adopting practices like peer review and independent replication of results, as well as a impiicit adherence to Occam's principle when faced with competing theories.

My belief in God and rejection of those literal objects is not arbitrary.  Is your belief in science and rejection of God arbitrary?

No. Actually I don't "believe in Science", I just think that ideas about the external world should be based on evidence, and ideas passed on from others should not be unquestionally accepted, regardless of their nominal authority. Not rejected, but taken on board to the extent that they make sense in the context of my existing ideas, and the amount of other independent support they have. I believe this is in accord with the way Science attempts to establish the degree to which some proposition matches ultimate reality (which we may never be able to access).

To me the methods of science are blindingly obvious common sense. Always be conscious of your own fallibility, so check your results, compare with what others find in the same area ( 'peer review' ). Repeated examples from the history of science demonstrate that no matter how 'obvious' a theory may seem when you have it just in your head, it may prove to be completely wrong when actually tested against external reality. AKA the Real World (or as close as we're ever likely to get to it).

Reality 'out there' is immeasureably more subtle and complex than what we can conjure in our minds. Quantum Theory and Relativity demonstrate this in spades.

If something is not demonstrable by consistent observation and evidence, the honest response as to it's nature is "I Don't Know", not treat it as a license to talk seriously about goblins and demons and angels and gods behind it all.

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  My belief in God is based on the same evidence everyone else has to work with.  Call me irrational, but it actually does not take a behemoth amount of evidence for me to believe.   

So it comes down to evidence. At least we agree there. For many of us here the Bible is very strong evidence against the Christian God, at least. We have had many many theists presenting what they consider strong evidence for God, and it has been uniformly pathetic.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Evidence?  Buddha laughed,

Evidence?  Buddha laughed, Jesus wept, WTF ain't G-O-D ? Enough of this god dogma shit.     Think on the "NOW" the "ONE" the  "ETERNAL" .... shezzz .... yea, finally, science,  thermodynamics. So Godly !  


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Beatz wrote:I believe that

Beatz wrote:
I believe that all humans are born with the knowledge that God exist.

Oh, really?  What God? Yahweh? Buddha? Allah? How do you know? Some kind of feeling?

I didn't even consider the possibility of a God until after I came to America and was exposed to Christianity. Even then, I was already incredibly logical, and I quickly reached the conclusion that, if the Christian God exists, then he's an asshole. I've had some ups and downs, but I still know that today.  

If I had not come to America, I probably would have never even asked the question. 

  

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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 Beatz wrote:Lastly, my

 

Beatz wrote:
Lastly, my belief in God is not based on some spiritual experience.  Christianity is not based on personal experience.  It's based on a body of evidence and truth.

......................what evidence?


 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare