Can christianity be proved by objective evidence?

Atheistextremist
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Can christianity be proved by objective evidence?

 

I am in an argument with my brother and sister, both fundies. At present there are only 2 of them going but there are substantial reinforcements at their disposal. I contend that christianity cannot be proved by objective evidence but brother David says it can and calls on thing like the supposed eye witness accounts in the NT as part of his proof. To me the NT is a loaded document, written for a specific purpose, not as an historical account but as a religious text. Applying the normal historical method to a supernatural text is unacceptable to me.

As far as I can tell there is no other objective evidence for christianity. The other arguments like the cosmological argument and discussions about abiogenesis are unprovable and need not depend on the christian god as prime mover. The moral argument is also subjective.

What do any brain boxes out there think? Is there objective proof of christian beliefs or is the entire doctrine contrived, reliant on the spiritual and ultimately subjective?

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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If christianity were true

If christianity were true then why is the only objective proof in the NT? Why isn't there any modern proof? or proof from any other time?


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The main 'disproof' of the

The main 'disproof' of the Xian myth is a remarkable lack of evidence for even major narratives in both books of the Bible.

There appears to be little or no evidence for the Israelites in Egypt, certainly not as any vast group of slaves, or for the whole Exodus thing.

The lack of any writings directly attributable to Jesus, even in the Book, is a problem for them.

Even in the Bible, we have no direct evidence of the resurrection, just some ambiguous 'sightings' of the allegedly resurrected jesus. Today they seem not much more convincing than reported sightings of Elvis Presley.

One would seriously expect if 'God' really wanted to make sure the message could not be ignored, he certainly could have done far better than that.

 

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

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Stosis wrote:If christianity

Stosis wrote:

If christianity were true then why is the only objective proof in the NT? Why isn't there any modern proof? or proof from any other time?

That would make it too easy to believe. Then Christians wouldn't feel superior about being able to understand things we just can't.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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EXC wrote:Stosis wrote:If

EXC wrote:

Stosis wrote:

If christianity were true then why is the only objective proof in the NT? Why isn't there any modern proof? or proof from any other time?

That would make it too easy to believe. Then Christians wouldn't feel superior about being able to understand things we just can't.

I sometimes think it is plausible that all the holes and contradictions we find in the text are deliberately left in it as a sign to the more rational reader that it is all crap, and it is just meant to gather the gullible into the flock for them to to be controlled. The people in charge didn't want to have to deal with any clever people in the flock raising rational objections, so they made it so they could see thru it.

It makes more sense to me than leaving the contradictions in as 'tests of faith'.

Just sayin'....

Of course it could all be sign of confusion, copying errors, insertions, by too many people at different times with different agendas, just leaving in the confused mess we see. No-one down the track was sure how it could be fixed without raising an outcry among the faithful who had bought into the whole 'mystery' thing.

Then there is the idea of mystery, where the apparent contradictions are 'signs' that the 'real' meaning of the text is at a deeper level, requiring interpretation by qualified people, or maybe just those who had clearly drunk deeply of the Kool-Ade. This is consistent with your suggestion, EXC.

Dennett suggests that for these texts to be persist without too much change, they need some parts which don't make sense on the surface, so people don't even try to rephrase them in alternative words, and just copy them verbatim. The aspect of mystery, hidden meanings, adds to their appeal as 'sacred' texts.

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

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Thanks folks

 

Do others agree that it is wrong for christians to say they are applying objective principles of evidential testing to things that by their very nature defy even the possibility of objective testing? 

The existence of things like love, morality, ethics, a sense of justice, the alleged high-minded actions of jesus are being thrown at me as being examples of objective proofs of the existence of god.

To me, none of these prove there is a god. Instead it proves that humans feel love, and possess morality and a sense of justice that allows them to respect the righteous actions of alleged jesus.

I see this as proving the human mind shaped jesus, not the other way around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist wrote: Do

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

Do others agree that it is wrong for christians to say they are applying objective principles of evidential testing to things that by their very nature defy even the possibility of objective testing? 

The existence of things like love, morality, ethics, a sense of justice, the alleged high-minded actions of jesus are being thrown at me as being examples of objective proofs of the existence of god.

To me, none of these prove there is a god. Instead it proves that humans feel love, and possess morality and a sense of justice that allows them to respect the righteous actions of alleged jesus.

I see this as proving the human mind shaped jesus, not the other way around.

 

I agree.

They in no way prove anything like a God. That idea just reflects the giant intuitive leap they make that because the Bible claims that God is the source of such things, the existence of these things 'proves' God.

Pure circular reasoning.

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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Is it really "objective" if

Is it really "objective" if only evidence that supports Christianity is evaluated? My point being that every religion can make these claims, and that evidence would also need to be evaluated to truely make an objective decision.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. - William S. Burroughs


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I'd ask him to cite his "eye

I'd ask him to cite his "eye witness testimony" to start, since nothing in the New Testament was written while Jesus was alive, no matter if you choose the first guy or the resurrected guy. But in general when talking to someone about Jesus, I point out Mithras et al with the same story. Unfortunately, I'm aware that doesn't answer your question whatsoever, since your debate has become whether or not Christianity can be proven.


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You have a point

I am not what you would call a fundamentalist, by any means, though people who don't know me would think it ironic if I told them the name on the church building I go to.  In fact, I have tilted on the brink of unbelief (I did grow up in a family that believes) many times.  I am challenged, and hope to continue to be challenged.  I do belief that Jesus is the son of God.

In looking for empirical proof, I truly believe you are right.  There are some areas of Christian thought, namely Christian history,  that can be supported by empirical proof, but the task of proving Christianity has to be undertaken in a completely different way.  What kind of empirical evidence would support a belief?  

The Bible is written from a believer's perspective, and doesn't contain a lot of direct attempts to prove itself, outside of the book of Romans. (I love Romans, and would love to use it as a springboard for discussion.)  However, the Bible does put forth some claims that are places to start--almost wagers, if you will--that invite the nonbeliever to consider some things about the Word of God.  I'd be happy to share these, because I believe that the Bible does pose a challenge to everyone, nonbelievers and believers alike.

 

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
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reading lists - again

If you haven't read them, I strongly recommend:

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266860773&sr=8-1

This one is about the old testament, specifically the first four books.  To me, it was written as if you were writing the history of the US based on what is true today.  "200 years ago, two great cities existed on the two shores of the mightiest continent - New York and San Francisco."  Now, NY and SF exist today and they existed 200 years ago.  But great cities?  Naw.  Same deal.  The old testament was written about 900 BCE and it was written as if what was true in 900 BCE was also true in 2000 BCE.  So bits of it are accurate and most of it isn't.

http://www.amazon.com/Quest-Historical-Jesus-Albert-Schweitzer/dp/0486440273/ref=pd_sim_b_57

This is the new testament and Jesus.  Looking through some of the stuff at Amazon, there are a lot of books about the lack of historical evidence for Jesus.  Not one historian of Jesus' time mentions him, all of our references to Jesus are from years after the fact-including the new testament.

And if you are really into it - http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

As near as I can tell, the bible was written by committee who didn't even meet to get their stories straight. 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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neptewn wrote:Is it really

neptewn wrote:
Is it really "objective" if only evidence that supports Christianity is evaluated? My point being that every religion can make these claims, and that evidence would also need to be evaluated to truely make an objective decision.

 

Good point there. If you decide what you are going to prove and then look for evidence that supports your position you are off track already. After all, if you are selecting evidence to support a desired conclusion, then you are really out to establish an agenda that was set in place before such evidence as existed was known. Pretty much what you are pulling is in “I am automatically right” move as the conclusion comes into play before the evidence.

 

This dovetails with the concept which I have advanced in the past that there is no such thing as the supernatural. If there is evidence for a thing, even if we have not yet found that evidence, then it is a natural thing. If we then find such evidence, well, we have just brought a formerly supernatural concept into the realm of evidence based inquiry.

 

How does this relate to the OP concept that one might prove some certain claim? Well, if the claim seems to be extraordinary then one finds evidence that supports that claim, well, great. So Mary may have been a hermaphrodite. Or she may have been lying or just too stupid to know where babies come from. All fair explanations for just how a virgin birth could enter into literature and none of them require magical god jizzum. Any other part of the bible that anyone would use as proof has at least one sensible explanation.

 

So even if there is yet to be discovered evidence to be had, It really doesn't take one in the direction of god-did-it.

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Mary

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

How does this relate to the OP concept that one might prove some certain claim? Well, if the claim seems to be extraordinary then one finds evidence that supports that claim, well, great. So Mary may have been a hermaphrodite. Or she may have been lying or just too stupid to know where babies come from. All fair explanations for just how a virgin birth could enter into literature and none of them require magical god jizzum. Any other part of the bible that anyone would use as proof has at least one sensible explanation.

 

So even if there is yet to be discovered evidence to be had, It really doesn't take one in the direction of god-did-it.

 

I read a book - sigh, I know, another one - about anorexics through out history.  There were a number of cases in the 19th century where young women were to have lived for months or years with no food or drink.  They tried to catch them out, but almost never did.  And it seemed to me, it was because they didn't want to at first.  In every case, there was someone who was allowed to be with the miraculous young woman - a sister or nurse or friend - somebody who was able to sneak her food and drink.  They were all too willing to believe it was a miracle and people were not willing to prove it a hoax.  The fad only stopped when the examiners finally totally isolated one of the young ladies and she died.

I'll bet it was the same with Mary.  Though there are some writings where Jesus has an older brother, making Mary definitely not a virgin, for the most part, people want to believe.  And so they ignore anything that may contradict their belief - including the total impossibility of virgin births. 

Okay, if someone was playing around, it is possible to get pregnant without penetration.  There is still some guy involved, no getting around that.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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 There is objective,

 There is objective, although mainly statistical, evidence that strongly suggests that Christianity and other similar belief systems are harmful to societies in the long run.

And shut up, Cpt_pineapple...

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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As the argument progresses into its second

 

day, I am now shocked to find that for a theist it is possible to say the essentially inviolate strata of the fossil record is less powerful a witness to reality than the ability of the human brain to think. The reason this argument has come up is that, according to the opposition, because we can conceive things in our brains, this means all the things we can conceive in our brains can have an objective element. The point is also being made that the fossil record has holes in it but we can have a complete knowledge of our brains because we live with them daily. This last comes as news to me. I have holes in my brain.

Intriguingly, Brother David compares the ability of our minds to conceive of a general word that does not describe a physical thing, the word 'the', with other things we cannot conceive of which he says also do not describe a physical thing we can properly define - in the case of his argument, whatever was pre-big bang, or the nature of god.

In my mind the pre-bang must be an actuality but I can only imagine it and it's this projection of an actuality that may/must exist that David is saying mirrors the experience of knowing there must be a god. It's just gap god, I think. When it comes to big bangs I tend to think this physical stuff came from some other physical stuff, whatever it's nature. That's the way it works here and saying anything else is an invention. But it's a conveniently grey area for the theist who posits god. 

I wonder if there is a difference between what a theist and an atheist view as reality. Theists clearly see conceptual things, mixed in with feelings, as have a reality of their own. I call this imaginary and they call it spiritual. This current argument has a range of loose threads I think don't belong in it. Not only have love and justice and morals all made their appearance as proof of objective things that we can't see yet that exist, but now freedom has appeared in the dock. Personally, I think the concept of general personal freedom is a bit of a crock. Shared personal freedom applies constraints to all.

Anyway - I'm raving now but what is it with theists? They cheerfully embrace the fraught-with-peril landscape of the NT but turn their backs on the fossil record because is not complete or does not contain what they see as the perfectly intact intermediate specimen of kangadingawallafox. It's just too much for me.

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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The title of the thread

The title of the thread AL0NE gives the "NO SHIT" answer anyway.

Can I prove that I can fart a Lamborghini out of my ass?

NO, but since you have not seen my ass, or seen every ass in the universe, and since I exist and since Lamborghinis exist, I MUST BY PROXY OF NAKED ASSERTION, BE RIGHT!

There is nothing objective about Christianity anymore than there is anything objective about Islam, anymore than there is anything objective about Bloods vs Kripts anymore than there is anything objective about Cowboys vs Redskins.

The only difference between all these camps is that those who do the most violence lack the most empathy for outsiders.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Don't alienate your brother

Don't alienate your brother and sister, unless you want to die alone, lonely, atop your mountain of books you have read and remembered while nobody cares.  In this world, the only things that matter are diehard love relationships, and it sounds like your destroying one you have by promoting your belief of the meaning of life over someone else's meaning of life.  The meaning of life is whatever you jolly well want it to be and I think your trying to de-convert them in a forceful way to your personal view is not wise.  You'll win, but then you wake up and lose.  Because your not treating the people who love you with love, your treating them as you treat your computer, as something to be configured.


Your right, but it doesn't matter that your right if your going to piss off the last few people in the world who love you.  Do not make your family your enemy in matters of belief, that's a final warning.  It is better to have lots of delusional allies than to have lots of delusional enemies.  Without trusted friends, there is no meaning in life, and we commit suicide.

I've watched grown men alienate their family, friends, and every loving relationship they had.  Sure they are geniuses and can build castles of knowledge, but they have no friends who would do anything for them, they only have friends who would be friendly only if specific criteria were met, and once you cross them they stab you in the back when your world view does not match theirs to a letter.  And their world views will change too. 

 

Don't be a fool, don't take on Religion in your own family.  You WILL lose.  This religion has been around the block a few more times than you ever will.

 

Tell your family that you will love them unconditionally regardless of what they believe, and their value as persons is held high regardless of belief.  Do something nice for them, and DON'T call them slow or retarded or misguided or stupid or anything like that.  Your entering a boxing ring with a prize fighter.  Your going to lose, and it's your hard headed need to be right that will make you lose. 


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You're speaking my language

Thank you so much!  These books are all books I haven't read--and I try to dedicate myself to reading as much as I can soak up (and have time to soak up in between chasing three kids around my house--which isn't much.)  S o yes, I am really into it, and would love to discuss these writings.

Before even reading them, though, I would like to address the comment you made at the end.  Until I learn to use the quote feature here goes--"As near as I can tell, the bible was written by committee who didn't even meet to get their stories straight."  I'm sure that this theory is one of the theories advanced in the book you mentioned, which I think I will read first from the ones you mentioned.  I believe you're right,as far as that goes.  Based on the dates that the gospels were written, the committee would have been difficult to convene.  John, who would have had the most to bring to the table, being the "disciple that Jesus loved", was either exiled on the isle of Patmos, or headed there with weightier things on his mind that tracking down Matthew, John Mark, or Luke.  And there are differences between the accounts, and my list is probably longer than your listSmiling  You also have to take into account that these were four men, each with different backgrounds, motivations for writing, and audiences.  You get stories that emphasize different points based on whether you are writing to Jews, Romans, Greeks, or writing a message that you hope has universal appeal.

My thing is this, not to discredit or invalidate the noble undertaking of proving the foundations that scripture is based on which you and I are engaged in (wow, that was a long apositive...)--why would this book be written?  I read 1 Corinthians 1-4...Why would an educated man write those words?  I read the gospels.  If that is propaganda--it is terrible propaganda.  Why was this book written?

CJ, I appreciate the reading list, and I look forward to some great discussion.  Take care.

pmichael   

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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Let me pose this

You are exactly right on several accounts.   As I said in a previous post, I haven't been successful in proving the belief that is Christianity to anyone.  The Bible makes no attempt to prove itself, and I think that's a pattern believers should follow.  I am in full agreement that there could be other explanations for things that you see happen in scripture.  God had to use some semblance of natural occurrence in each and every situation that I suspect you are considering when you posted, or else the acts would have been unrecognizable.  Catch 22.  God gave us the free will to look upon those acts, virgin birth, resurrection, miracles, what have you, in whatever light we want to look at them in.  There is a human explanation for everything--it has to be that way.  My problem is looking upon scripture as something that has to prove itself, rather than something that challenges us to believe it.

 

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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your welcome

pmichael wrote:

My thing is this, not to discredit or invalidate the noble undertaking of proving the foundations that scripture is based on which you and I are engaged in (wow, that was a long apositive...)--why would this book be written?  I read 1 Corinthians 1-4...Why would an educated man write those words?  I read the gospels.  If that is propaganda--it is terrible propaganda.  Why was this book written?

CJ, I appreciate the reading list, and I look forward to some great discussion.  Take care.

pmichael   

My theory is that all religion is for the purpose of making a living off of other people's fears.  And so the religious writings - whether great or no so great - were a way of codifying blatant thievery.  If you scare people, they are all too willing to pay you to "save" them.  Then if you write it down, you can charge for copies or have people send it to friends and relatives, who then send you money long distance.  It is a very lazy way of making a living, being a spreader of religion.  After all, all you have to do is get up in front of a group, scare the daylights out of them, then pass the plate.  Piece of cake.

And they all self justify - "I am doing this for the good of mankind."  Bullpucky, they are doing it for their own self importance.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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turn off your brain at the next left....

pmichael wrote:

You are exactly right on several accounts.   As I said in a previous post, I haven't been successful in proving the belief that is Christianity to anyone.  The Bible makes no attempt to prove itself, and I think that's a pattern believers should follow.  I am in full agreement that there could be other explanations for things that you see happen in scripture.  God had to use some semblance of natural occurrence in each and every situation that I suspect you are considering when you posted, or else the acts would have been unrecognizable.  Catch 22.  God gave us the free will to look upon those acts, virgin birth, resurrection, miracles, what have you, in whatever light we want to look at them in.  There is a human explanation for everything--it has to be that way.  My problem is looking upon scripture as something that has to prove itself, rather than something that challenges us to believe it.

Good grief.  Just turn off your brain at the next left.....  Sorry, if god/s/dess gave me a brain, then I expect s/he/it wants me to use it.  And s/he/it can not blame me if the evidence given is crap.  Really, if I ruled the universe I would be pissed if my followers just believed with out evidence.  Who needs that kind of follower?

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Struggle

My struggle as a Christian, Theist, and a Cowboy fan is the overgeneralization that I am subject to ALL the time.  I realize that there are those that turn others off to the idea of belief, and those who serve as pretty convincing proof that what they preach can't possibly be right.  I wonder how many atheists are just so turned off by the bigotry, insensitivity, and lack of compassion an empathy they feel directed at them that they don't even want to stop for a minute and entertain what those that do show sensitivity and compassion believe in.

Where does that compassion come from?

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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That compassion is a product

pmichael wrote:

My struggle as a Christian, Theist, and a Cowboy fan is the overgeneralization that I am subject to ALL the time.  I realize that there are those that turn others off to the idea of belief, and those who serve as pretty convincing proof that what they preach can't possibly be right.  I wonder how many atheists are just so turned off by the bigotry, insensitivity, and lack of compassion an empathy they feel directed at them that they don't even want to stop for a minute and entertain what those that do show sensitivity and compassion believe in.

Where does that compassion come from?

 

Of humanity same as all gods are a product of humanity. The sooner faiths stop trademarking our better natures for their own profit, the happier I will be.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Other scenarios

I know a lot of that type of Christian, and probably could say the same for people I know of other belief systems.  And I'm not naive enough or arrogant enough to think that I haven't been that way or come across that way at several points in my life.  Its frustrating for me.  I step back and analyze the way I believe all the time--I have mentioned in previous posts that I am a recovering skeptic.  Which means I am always looking at the facts and making sure they weigh out.  To that end, I would like to address many of the things said above (and I need someone to tell me how to use the quote feature, because I realize that the converstaion here is not entirely linear.)

First, the idea that Christianity or other beliefs feed off other people's fears--give me a list of the fears that are a part of your theory, and I can speak to them in more detail.  I can't think of any fears that I have that belief in God satisfies, cures, or even addresses.  In fact, as an immature Christian, I can think of some fears that my fledgling belief actually created.  Those fears go away when you start thinking.

Second, I spread religion with zero hope of monetary gain.  Actually, let me be more clear by saying that I like to talk to people about theie beliefs, and I like to share mine.  I like to get everything on the table.  I'm not sure what gain there is in that.  It doesn't make me feel more important.  I have something to share with people that has changed me for the better, and I want to share it.  Nothing more.  If, for a minute, I thought my beliefs to be self serving, or my resulatnt actions to be so, I would abndon it as hypocrisy.  The scripture says to nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Once again, I am not naive enough to think that there are those believers that miss that not-so-subtle point.  I "fear" that they are the biggest source of atheism.

 

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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Proof

Please clear something up for me.  Why does belief in God have to be something that is not thought out?  God does want us to use our brains--thus the extensive writings in the Bible on wisdom.  I have spent plenty of time trying to disprove it.  The bottom line is, you are talking about two different and divergent ideas when you talk about faith and knowledge.  The knowledge comes in when God asks that we be ready with an answer when we try to defend our faith.  The problem is that people don't like or accept our answers. 

I don't mean to sound defensive, like I know better than anyone else--its been a long day and the kids aren't going to bed easySmiling

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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Better Natures

I know what you're saying, and I think that faith has no right to stick their flag in "our better nature."  People don't have a good side because they believe, they have a good side because they are people.  I do believe that being people though, means that we were created that way.  Though I do believe that evolution is responsible for a lot of things, I think it takes a lot of faith to believe that that better nature evolved into us.  I am interested to hear your thoughts on that.

 

One other thing--if every human were left to their own devices, what would our "default" state be--belief or unbelief?

 

Go Cowboys.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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Apology

I do need to apologize, because I think I have gone off on my own, when you asked the original question, atheistextremist.  More to come--great discussion.  Thank you.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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Objective evidence, if

Objective evidence, if hundreds of people claim to have died and went to heaven/hell, there are thousands more who have claimed to have seen, ghosts, bigfoot, the lochness monster, ufo's and more. People will believe anything if it suits them. There were several people who had a new pair of nikes for their trip on the space ship. It all comes down to what you WANT to believe in. There is as much objective evidence that would completely deny any existence of a god.

There is no substantial evidence either, besides the bible which is written by men and contains few facts except for some locations and probably a few random events that may have actually occured. But you know the best lie's will contain some insignifigant truths to make them seem more plausible.

If these, MEN had not written the stories and fables which LATER, formed the bible, what evidence at all would there be? What would make Zeus any less likely?

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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Magic 8 Ball

Thanks man.  And you're right.  I was a skeptic and everything you say is true.  But it doesn't prove your point.  Unless your point is how probable or improbable something is.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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pmichael wrote:One other

pmichael wrote:

One other thing--if every human were left to their own devices, what would our "default" state be--belief or unbelief?

 

That depends on what ideas that person/culture has.  A human mind does not operate in a vacuum.  If all they have is their own thoughts and the natural world around them, I imagine most humans would believe in some sort of supernatural concept, just because a person with no outside knowledge would have no way to explain anything.  Everything would be magic.  You end up with animism, where everything is supernatural.

So you question is kind of hard to answer, because you have to make a lot of assumptions about the world around people making the 'default' choice.

My pet theory is that people don't crave god, they crave understanding.  If they are raised in an environment where the natural world is explained I don't see much of a hole for god to crawl in through.  God crawls in through fear and ignorance, those are the doorway for the supernatural.

 

So, I guess my summary would be that I don't think your question has an appropriate yes or no answer.  Human belief is a product of its environment and if that environment encourages supernatural belief, human belief will follow that.  If the environment is secular and rational, supernatural concepts will not be important.  This is easy to prove, since most religious cultures raise religious children and most secular cultures raise secular children.  I think religion has more to do with nurture than nature.

I think the most important thing for secular societies is to promote critical thinking...fundamentalist religion cannot thrive in an environment that encourages people to be skeptical and rational.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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But you certainly would not

But you certainly would not get the Christian concept of God as a default position.  Modern religions are very advanced ideas that have followed an evolutionary path spanning, well, human history.  So if the specific question is, "Is Christianity the default state of belief." the answer is a simple no.

Easy to test, easy to prove.  One the things many atheists bring up is the idea that, were one religion actually big T True, you would expect it to arise spontaneously in multiple locations over the course of history.  But they never do, unless you count animism and ancestor worship.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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'Tis my opinion

 

That christianity, like many religions, does little more than create a problem for itself to solve. In the case of the christ people, the problem is sin, the wages of which are death. There's no proof of any of this, but christianity's caravan of threat hanging off the back of natural and healthy human guilt offers the perfect lever. And the proof is right there in the bible. Jesus died to save us from god's anger. Somehow the word 'forgiveness' slipped through the fingers of the lord's vast intellect. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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mellestad wrote:But you

mellestad wrote:

But you certainly would not get the Christian concept of God as a default position.  Modern religions are very advanced ideas that have followed an evolutionary path spanning, well, human history.  So if the specific question is, "Is Christianity the default state of belief." the answer is a simple no.

Easy to test, easy to prove.  One the things many atheists bring up is the idea that, were one religion actually big T True, you would expect it to arise spontaneously in multiple locations over the course of history.  But they never do, unless you count animism and ancestor worship.

Christianity is indeed a more evolved meme (a way of describing a closely associated set of ideas, that tend to be passed on from person to person), so of course you would not expect it to arise spontaneously, and so wouldn't likely be the initial form of any religion, any more than we would expect biological evolution to start with complex forms.

The popularity of such memes is not necessarily related to whether they describe something that is objectively true, but how much they resonate with common human hopes and fears and desires, how much they fill some gaps in understanding with something that 'feels' right, that is comprehensible to most people. Complex truths, no matter how well supported by evidence, are always likely to lose out to simple myths.

If there really was a God who really wanted us to know the Truth and thrive, religions don't seem to me be a very effective way to go. Too much is ambiguous, contradictory even, doesn't quite fit with what we are able to find out about the nature of reality independently of the scriptures, that it seems vastly more likely that it evolved in the minds of men.

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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:3

If christianity was proven it wouldn't be a religion.


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There are many branches from

There are many branches from the same tree that is christianity. One could easily start a new branch today. Simply decide to focus on an aspect in the bible, or decide to interpret something a little differently. You could even claim to have had a vision (joseph smith) and start a successful one that way. Koresh tried to start one but it was clear he was really just using people for sex etc so he failed. There is a lot of paint in the pallete of the bible, and people work with it to make their own art. I myself have decided to forgo the art of man and instead enjoy the art of nature, which is all around us. Man is easily led, easily duped and seeks something post death out of fear. It's funny part of that fear is instilled by nature.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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cj wrote:pmichael wrote:My

cj wrote:

pmichael wrote:

My thing is this, not to discredit or invalidate the noble undertaking of proving the foundations that scripture is based on which you and I are engaged in (wow, that was a long apositive...)--why would this book be written?  I read 1 Corinthians 1-4...Why would an educated man write those words?  I read the gospels.  If that is propaganda--it is terrible propaganda.  Why was this book written?

CJ, I appreciate the reading list, and I look forward to some great discussion.  Take care.

pmichael   

My theory is that all religion is for the purpose of making a living off of other people's fears.  And so the religious writings - whether great or no so great - were a way of codifying blatant thievery.  If you scare people, they are all too willing to pay you to "save" them.  Then if you write it down, you can charge for copies or have people send it to friends and relatives, who then send you money long distance.  It is a very lazy way of making a living, being a spreader of religion.  After all, all you have to do is get up in front of a group, scare the daylights out of them, then pass the plate.  Piece of cake.

And they all self justify - "I am doing this for the good of mankind."  Bullpucky, they are doing it for their own self importance.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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Atheistextremist wrote:What

Atheistextremist wrote:

What do any brain boxes out there think? Is there objective proof of christian beliefs or is the entire doctrine contrived, reliant on the spiritual and ultimately subjective?

 

Ultra-subjective, and created out of a need for peace and prosperity with a blood-thirsty empire; ie the Roman Empire. I would further hypothesize that most of organized religion is created out of a general need for social cohesion and unification of purpose, as is folklore.

edit: plus all of what CJ and Bobspencer said

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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pmichael wrote:I have

pmichael wrote:
I have mentioned in previous posts that I am a recovering skeptic.  Which means I am always looking at the facts and making sure they weigh out.

I don't think that word means what you think it means. 

 

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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Semantics

Christianity is a belief

Religion is putting a belief (or anything, for that matter) into regular practice

I understand people's difficulties with religion--I think religion is a personal thing, and some people practivce their religion in a way that inflicts harm.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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pmichael wrote:Christianity

pmichael wrote:

Christianity is a belief

Religion is putting a belief (or anything, for that matter) into regular practice

I understand people's difficulties with religion--I think religion is a personal thing, and some people practivce their religion in a way that inflicts harm.

It is the degree of evidence, justification for the belief that is the topic of this thread.

Their is no evidence for, let alone valid arguments for, a sentient creator, and no way to establish the ultimate motives or nature of such a being if it did exist. It would require a far more more interventionist being than is evident from the nature of the Universe revealed by systematic study (Science), which is describable to a remarkable degree by naturalist and mathematical theories.

Moral behaviour is almost too easily explainable by evolutionary theory and game theory of group interactions. Too easy in that it allows all kinds of plausible ideas to be postulated, with no simple way to sort them out.

 

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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Skeptic

Tell me your definition.  Maybe my post was unclear.  I want to be on the same page from a terminology perspective.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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pmichael wrote: I have

pmichael wrote:

I have mentioned in previous posts that I am a recovering skeptic.  Which means I am always looking at the facts and making sure they weigh out.

...

Tell me your definition.  Maybe my post was unclear.  I want to be on the same page from a terminology perspective.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skepticism 

1 : an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object

2 a : the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain b : the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics

3 : doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skeptic

1 : an adherent or advocate of skepticism

2 : a person disposed to skepticism especially regarding religion or religious principles

A skeptic, broadly defined, would be a person that doubts and questions. A skeptic always searches for the truth and the facts, and would not hold anything to be above criticism. So, under this definition, a person who is "always looking at the facts and making sure they weigh out" would be a skeptic. If you were a recovering skeptic, then there must be some beliefs or claims that you do not question.     

If we use the definition that a skeptic is a person that is skeptical about religion and religious principles, then being a recovering skeptic would mean that you do not question religion.

Quote:
Christianity is a belief

Religion is putting a belief (or anything, for that matter) into regular practice

I understand people's difficulties with religion--I think religion is a personal thing, and some people practivce their religion in a way that inflicts harm.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness

4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Whether personal or institutionalized, a religion is a set or a system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Under this definition, Christianity is a religion. 

I'm not completely sure what a "personal" thing is, but if some people can, by practicing religion, harm others, then it seems rather strange to call their religion a personal thing. It's also strange that many people like to convert others to their personal thing or to enact their personal thing into public policy.

For me, there are beliefs and then there are beliefs, and a belief can be more or less justified. Calling it personal doesn't save it from criticism. 

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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Thank you

Great post.

 

Ok--you've got me on a few things, but I think the recovering skeptic falls into your definition.  Maybe my verb tense is off, and I should say recovered skeptic.  That's not to say that I am in a "better" condition now, per se, in the sense that I put myself above anyone else.  I have simply moved from unbelief to belief based on the proofs I have found and evaluated.

 

What I have constantly run across in forums such as this is a confusion between religion, and the areas of belief and faith.  I think religion, as indicated by the first entry in the definition, does depend on personal practice.  That is what I meant from personal.  you're right--a religion that is inflicted upon others without their consent is no longer personal, but a very unwelcome and villainous thing.  My faith in God translates into a faith in His word, which is to be taken at face value, which many fail to do.  I am imperfect as well, but there are glaring weaknesses in what some people profess.  There are radical Christians that do not follow scripture, but instead seeek glory or self-fulfillment.  You can read the Bible for 20 minutes and tell that they are wrong.  Christianity itself is a beautiful thing, and it saddens me that what the Bible teaches is tarnished by many.  This has been true throughout history.  True christianity is a peaceful, tolerant, loving, gracious, and humble thing.

 

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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tolerant

pmichael wrote:

 

True christianity is a peaceful, tolerant, loving, gracious, and humble thing. 

Are you tolerant of homosexuals?  Women who have abortions?  People who worship satan?  How about mass murderers?  How about mothers who sell their five year old daughters to a man who then rapes and kills the daughter?  How about a god/jesus who allows mothers to sell their daughters?  This all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent god/jesus allowed this child to be tortured to death without lifting a finger to help her.  Just how was her death benevolent?  Are you going to tell me some pap about how "his plan will be revealed in his own time"?  If that is your answer, don't bother to answer this post.  I am not interested in a cruel, lazy, uncaring god/jesus.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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Not to mention his whole

Not to mention his whole point is just a No True Scotsman.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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God

I'm not feeding you that line because it is a cop out.  Death is never a benevolent thing--that is why it had to be overcome by the death of Jesus.  I know your response to that, but that is the plain truth.  I don't have scientific or irrefutable proof of that--just eyewitness testimony.  But the premise there is what is important--death is not good.  It sounds like you expect God to intervene in certain situations.  I need clarification of what situations warrant intervention and which don't.  And how do we know which punishments suit which "crimes."  And, going back to the beginning, what would be the answer to the first person who was smitten for doing wrong--"sucks to be them?!"  More to say here, but I would rather weait to hear from you, cj.

 

As far as my personal tolerance, you'd be surprised.  I tolerate everyone who sincerely seeks to do good.  By good, I mean behavior that doesn't compromise the life, health, or happiness of another person.  With those in mind, I can say yes to your first two, yes depending on the method of worshipping satan to the second, and absolutely not to the last regarding the mother.

 

I do things that are wrong, knowingly.  That makes me what everyone refers to as a sinner.  I need good in my life, and I choose to go to God as the source of that good.  And he is not lazy, but very active.

Romans 1:20 NIV: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
--Brennan Murphy


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cj wrote:pmichael

cj wrote:

pmichael wrote:

 

True christianity is a peaceful, tolerant, loving, gracious, and humble thing. 

Are you tolerant of homosexuals?  Women who have abortions?  People who worship satan?  How about mass murderers?  How about mothers who sell their five year old daughters to a man who then rapes and kills the daughter?  How about a god/jesus who allows mothers to sell their daughters?  This all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent god/jesus allowed this child to be tortured to death without lifting a finger to help her.  Just how was her death benevolent?  Are you going to tell me some pap about how "his plan will be revealed in his own time"?  If that is your answer, don't bother to answer this post.  I am not interested in a cruel, lazy, uncaring god/jesus.

 

just adding to what you said

kkk website wrote:
There is a race war against whites. But our people - my white brothers and sisters - will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in white communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new world order. That way is the Christian way - law and order - love of family - love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization. There is a war to destroy these things. Pray that our people see the error of their ways and regain a sense of loyalty. Repent America! Be faithful my fellow believers

 

Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America! A Message of Love NOT Hate!


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Adventfred wrote:cj

Adventfred wrote:

cj wrote:

pmichael wrote:

 

True christianity is a peaceful, tolerant, loving, gracious, and humble thing. 

Are you tolerant of homosexuals?  Women who have abortions?  People who worship satan?  How about mass murderers?  How about mothers who sell their five year old daughters to a man who then rapes and kills the daughter?  How about a god/jesus who allows mothers to sell their daughters?  This all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent god/jesus allowed this child to be tortured to death without lifting a finger to help her.  Just how was her death benevolent?  Are you going to tell me some pap about how "his plan will be revealed in his own time"?  If that is your answer, don't bother to answer this post.  I am not interested in a cruel, lazy, uncaring god/jesus.

 

just adding to what you said

kkk website wrote:
There is a race war against whites. But our people - my white brothers and sisters - will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in white communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new world order. That way is the Christian way - law and order - love of family - love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization. There is a war to destroy these things. Pray that our people see the error of their ways and regain a sense of loyalty. Repent America! Be faithful my fellow believers

 

Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America! A Message of Love NOT Hate!

That's awesome, I'm going to use that website.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


pmichael
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I think I take both of those

I think I take both of those as encouragement.(?)


butterbattle
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pmichael wrote:You can read

pmichael wrote:
You can read the Bible for 20 minutes and tell that they are wrong.  Christianity itself is a beautiful thing, and it saddens me that what the Bible teaches is tarnished by many.  This has been true throughout history.  True christianity is a peaceful, tolerant, loving, gracious, and humble thing.

Does this include the Old Testament? 

 

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


Kapkao
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pmichael wrote: But the

pmichael wrote:

 But the premise there is what is important--death is not good.

 

Death is an inevitable consequence of life... without death (and better yet, without destruction) there would be no life as we understand it today. In fact, there would be no oxygen, and perhaps, no carbon dioxide would be created. The carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and water cycles would not be possible. Death (and destruction) has made our current existence and prosperity possible, no less than life has.

On an ostensibly disturbing note, there is a growing abundance of evidence that death may be postponed indefinitely via medicine, and chemical augmentation, hence my use of the term "Clinical Immortality". The largely mythical Fountain of Youth becomes less of a 'myth' from the understanding of the arbitrarily complex chain of chemical reactions throughout the human body; this is sometimes referred to as a "Technological Singularity".

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I tolerate everyone who sincerely seeks to do good.

"Good" is infinitely subjective, and thus immaterial. To paraphrase: "Evil always wins because good is dumb"

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That makes me what everyone refers to as a sinner.

"Sin" is ultimately irrelevant without a definite, purposeful meaning. The answer of what "Sin" is varies upon the individual being asked.

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I need good in my life, and I choose to go to God as the source of that good.

You need "The Divine" in your life, as our ancestors did, to give you a meaningful sense of purpose in life. Nonetheless, as long as there has been a farming civilization that worships "The Divine" (or the spiritual), there has been individuals willing -either through intellectual gift or psychological abnormality- to disassemble said spiritual beliefs.

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And he is not lazy, but very active.

"He" is defined along the lines of the behavior of 'his' opponents, as well as the opponents of Christianity. In fact, it can be argued that nearly all belief systems are developed and integrated on the basis of what challengs they face. This can be proven almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)