How does a theist explain something like this?

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How does a theist explain something like this?

Alright, I'm sick of theists bringing forth useless anecdotal stories that don't actual show anything, so I want to see how a theist responds to a proper scientific study that clearly demolishes one of their most cherished claims, namely prayer (which their anecdotal stories seemed to be based on):

http://www.ahjonline.com/article/PIIS0002870305006496/abstract

In this study, cardiac bypass surgery patients were divided into three groups:

1 - Told they may or may not be prayed for, and were prayed for (604 patients)
2 - Told they may or may not be prayed for, and were not prayed for (597 patients)
3 - Told they were prayed for, and were prayed for (601 patients)

Post-operative complications for groups 1 and 2 were 52% and 51% respectively, but for group 3, complications went up to 59%. In other words, patients that knew they were getting prayed for did worse then those who didn't know.


Thandarr
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You atheists are irrational

St. Michael:

You and all the other atheists--well you are an atheist to me--proclaim that the gods and goddesses cannot exist. Your logic is based on what I complained about before. You attribute characteristics to the gods and then argue from those characteristics whether they exist or not.

For instance, "God must be the cause of the world and all things in it." While I happen to believe that the world came into existence--or at least that a formless bunch of matter was formed into what we see as the world--because of the actions of gods, I do not believe that it is necessary for an entity to be the "cause of the world" in order to be a god. Most gods and goddesses were not involved in the creation of the world. Many are the sons and daughters of other gods who came into existence after the universe was already here. I disagree with your definition that in order to be a god a being must be a creator of the universe.

Another assertion is that a god must be "totally and utterly in a state of actuality and not reliant on any other being for His existence." I don't know what the first half of that even means, but the second half is just wrong. Why would a god, by definition, have to be not reliant on any other being for His existence?

You say all gods must have the same nature. Why? Every god and goddess has his or her own nature. Otherwise they would not be perceived as different.

It may be possible that attributing a material condition, such as "number" to God doesn't really make any sense. Maybe what we see as different Gods are just different manifestations of one "god-ness." But I kind of doubt that because different gods and goddesses are worshiped by different people at different times and in different places. Note I say "kind of" here. As a polytheist, I have the luxury of admitting it when I don't know something about the Gods. I do not believe that the Gods particularly care what we believe about them or whether we believe the right things about them. That doesn't mean they like being ignored. I think they truly enjoy it when we talk to them and think about them and talk about them.

I think, like Jehovah (or Yahweh or however he spells His name) sometimes various Gods tend to choose and protect certain groups of people. I think what the Old Testament tells us is that Yahweh chose the Hebrew people and made them his own. Jupiter and the other gods favored Rome and made Rome a great power--which, incidentally, conquered Judea and destroyed the temple of Yahweh--until Rome abandoned them. Then, somewhat understandably, they lost interest. But you are right that many understand there to be one supreme God and many other gods. I don't know if I'd go along with "most Pagans." I think most Pagans recognized the existence of many different gods and goddesses. But there were certainly many who believed in a single king of the gods. And even in that scenario, the other gods weren't just servants or creatures of the main god.

You say "it is rather shown in anthropology that religion mostly starts off in a monotheistic fashion, and then generally deteriorates into polytheism." That is a loaded way to express what may or may not be true. I am not aware of any consensus that religion mostly starts off as monotheism. I believe the consensus is that most religions originated many years ago and their origins are lost in history so we don't really know how they started off. That notwithstanding, it wouldn't surprise me if many traditions started off with one person communing with a particular deity. If I were convinced that religion develops in the way you describe, I would say the same thing in this way, "religion mostly starts off in a monotheistic fashion, and then generally matures into polytheism."

Don't get me wrong. Yahweh is a great and powerful god and I honor him. I just don't think he's all alone up there. I'm just not one of his chosen people. But Yahweh had certain characteristics. He demanded, and still demands, that his worshipers be faithful to only him. He imposes conditions on his people. He is jealous. I find it hard to believe that he was jealous of carved statues. He was jealous of the gods they represented. Because of that, He is one of the Gods who should be worshiped by faithful, "monogamous" [that's not the right word but I can't seem to get the right one--I bet you know it] loyal worshippers who will not turn to the other Gods.

The Gods have been good to me, as your God has to you. Jupiter, Apollo, Minerva, Juno, and Mercury have been good to me in particular. I seldom think about gods like Ceres, Mars, and Bacchus because their areas of influence are not things I am involved in. That doesn't mean they're not there or that I don't honor them. My gods aren't particularly jealous, although they will ignore me if I ignore them.

Thandarr


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I think the fact that Prayer

I think the fact that Prayer only seems to work with things that can be healed with science too a bit fishy.

Can you put pictures in here?


RhadTheGizmo
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It's conclusive in the sense

It's conclusive in the sense that: IF one believes that asking for a particular thing in prayer for another brings about, in large quantities, that particular thing (for instance, miraculous, supernatural, effect), irrespectative of people's varying beliefs, regarding prayer, healing, miracles, the Tooth Fairy, and/or God) within the experiment.... then this does bring substantial evidence against that belief.

 That is my response to the original question/statement of this thread.  I'm not even going to try and jump into the conversation between St.Michael and others.  It's so far into the process that feel I will only befuddle the debate by misinterpreting his, or others, aforementioned (implied or otherwise) definitions of the words they are using.

 Hmm.. although it is tempting.


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I believe in God and see no problem with this study.

If you ask me it is foolish to think that praying will result in God altering your physical state or the physical states of things around you. Praying has mental benefits such as helping one put his mind at ease or simply being comforted in a time of need.

I think that a better study would have been to ask different groups how they felt going into the surgery where one group prayed extensively before surgery and other did not pray at all. That would be an interesting study.


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Bill wrote:

Bill wrote:

If you ask me it is foolish to think that praying will result in God altering your physical state or the physical states of things around you. Praying has mental benefits such as helping one put his mind at ease or simply being comforted in a time of need.

I think that a better study would have been to ask different groups how they felt going into the surgery where one group prayed extensively before surgery and other did not pray at all. That would be an interesting study.

 

My thoughts would coincide with yours. The original challenge assumes that prayer works a particular way-- and that it is necessary for prayer to work this way and thus Christianity, as a whole (since he doesn't direct it towards any particular denomination of Christianity), needs to explain why prayer doesn't appear to work in the way Christian profess.

However.. it is not a necessary tennant of the Christian faith to believe that prayer works in this way-- as you have shown by your statement contending the original assumption.

(Perhaps I'm wrong about the existence of an assumption in the original post-- in that case. I apologize, and I will edit if this be the case.)

Original post: "A theist"..."most cherished tennants."

Yup.. he was addressing all of us. 


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Quote: You and all the

Quote:

You and all the other atheists--well you are an atheist to me--proclaim that the gods and goddesses cannot exist. Your logic is based on what I complained about before. You attribute characteristics to the gods and then argue from those characteristics whether they exist or not.

But the attributes I attribute to God are not a priori. They follow from what we know about God from natural reason. We discover these things about God by reasoning from nature to His causal relationship in respect to it.

Quote:

For instance, "God must be the cause of the world and all things in it." While I happen to believe that the world came into existence--or at least that a formless bunch of matter was formed into what we see as the world--because of the actions of gods, I do not believe that it is necessary for an entity to be the "cause of the world" in order to be a god.

Here, then, is the problem: there must exist one being who caused all existing things (as we showed earlier in our proofs for the existence of God). Even if we admit that there are other seperated spiritual substances, which Catholics/Christians would call angels, there must be one completely independent and necessary cause of all things. If there was not, the world could not exist. Further, any of these limited spiritual beings, like angels, cannot create anything as God creates. They would not have the power to do so, as only the first cause has the ability to bring things into existence. And, lastly, as I showed, there cannot be more than one of these singularly transcendent beings.

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Most gods and goddesses were not involved in the creation of the world. Many are the sons and daughters of other gods who came into existence after the universe was already here. I disagree with your definition that in order to be a god a being must be a creator of the universe.

I didn't claim that pagan definitions of god indicated a singular cause of all created things. It was clear to the pagan philosophers, however, that such a singular and necessary being who is the cause of all other beings most properly takes the name of "God."

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Another assertion is that a god must be "totally and utterly in a state of actuality and not reliant on any other being for His existence." I don't know what the first half of that even means, but the second half is just wrong. Why would a god, by definition, have to be not reliant on any other being for His existence?

Because, it would not be God. It would be a created thing.

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You say all gods must have the same nature. Why? Every god and goddess has his or her own nature. Otherwise they would not be perceived as different.

You are misapplying my terms. I understand that pagan gods and goddesses have very different behaviours and the like. First, even in pagan mythology, their nature as divinity is the same. Second, I was not referring to their nature as it exists in pagan mythology. I was reasoning from the existence of the first cause. There cannot be more than one of those singular and transcendent beings which created all things. These other beings, spirits, might exist, but they are dependent upon God for their existence.

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It may be possible that attributing a material condition, such as "number" to God doesn't really make any sense. Maybe what we see as different Gods are just different manifestations of one "god-ness."

Again, this doesn't really apply. I agree that applying number to God makes no sense, but I was merely stating the fact that we cannot have more than a single God due to His immaterial nature (He is required to be without matter if He is the first cause).

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As a polytheist, I have the luxury of admitting it when I don't know something about the Gods. I do not believe that the Gods particularly care what we believe about them or whether we believe the right things about them. That doesn't mean they like being ignored. I think they truly enjoy it when we talk to them and think about them and talk about them.

I think you might have not a few problems that result from this, as any of your atheist friends might tell you. If different gods are worshipped and we have no certain knowledge about them, why worship them at all? What is a pious action (like Socrates in the Euthyphro)? What is a right action in view of the gods? If there are multiple gods, there can be no real answer to these questions.

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I think, like Jehovah (or Yahweh or however he spells His name)

Really, it's kind of a fallacy to refer to His name like that. It is a Hebrew formulation that basically just says, "I am who am." It is His name as revealed to Moses on Sinai.

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supreme God and many other gods. I don't know if I'd go along with "most Pagans." I think most Pagans recognized the existence of many different gods and goddesses. But there were certainly many who believed in a single king of the gods. And even in that scenario, the other gods weren't just servants or creatures of the main god.

Not just a king of the gods. A real singularly transcedent being who created the other gods. This would match up easily with the Christian idea of one God, and other created spirits, like angels, archangels, principalities, dominions, powers, virtues, throne, cherubim, and seraphim. A king of the gods would not satisfy the conditions we know from nature is required of the first cause.

[uote]
Don't get me wrong. Yahweh is a great and powerful god and I honor him. I just don't think he's all alone up there. I'm just not one of his chosen people. But Yahweh had certain characteristics. He demanded, and still demands, that his worshipers be faithful to only him. He imposes conditions on his people. He is jealous. I find it hard to believe that he was jealous of carved statues. He was jealous of the gods they represented. Because of that, He is one of the Gods who should be worshiped by faithful, "monogamous" [that's not the right word but I can't seem to get the right one--I bet you know it] loyal worshippers who will not turn to the other Gods.


First, God is not jealous because people worship other true gods. Yahweh is "jealous" because people worship things other than Him which are NOT gods. And in Scripture, it is often stated that these other gods are merely illusions. It is hard to make a case that Scripture supports the fact that other gods exist, as it states often that they are in fact illusions or merely the creation of men.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,
StMichael

PS - I don't see how most of these rampant atheists are standing by and letting me refute polytheism. Wow. Go after Christianity, but leave polytheism be.

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: I would

StMichael wrote:

I would just point out that we Christians, or at least Catholics, do not believe prayer is infallibly effective. God hears your prayer, yes, but doesn't need to perform a miracle just because you say so.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael 

God can't do any miracles anyway, since he knows everything. He can only do exactly what he already knows he will do, and he knew what these things were an infinite number of years in advance. Prayer can't have any effect on this.


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God does not act in time,

God does not act in time, which is the problem with your argument. His actions are not foreseen - they are always happening/have always been decided/are according to God's eternity. They are outside of time. God, in other words, cannot predispose His own will like that. It just remains fixed according to His eternal wisdom.
How are miracles possible? Again, He allows them to happen within that eternal plan. His will chose to intervene in ordinary affairs at various points in time, assuming prayer. To put it very simply, God put in His plan the caveat to not grant certain things unless they were asked for by men.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,
StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote:God does

Quote:
God does not act in time
...is the same thing as saying that god does not act, since the very concept of acting depends on acting in time. It's a redundancy. You have said god does nothing. This is in agreement with what I already said.

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It just remains fixed according to His eternal wisdom
I don't see how this is different from saying he knows everything that will happen. And if everything is fixed in his view, then everything is fixed IN REALITY. Again, nothing ever happens. I agree.

Since we appear to be in agreement that god does nothing, I am mystified by the contradictions that follow.

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His actions are not foreseen

but

Quote:
God put in His plan the caveat...

The first part implies god's actions are not pre-known, but the second part implies that he hunkered down and cranked out a plan at some point IN TIME. If I'm not right about this and god did not do this, then god did not put anything in his plan because putting things in plans implies actions and we both agree that god does not act.


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Quote: ...is the same

Quote:

...is the same thing as saying that god does not act, since the very concept of acting depends on acting in time. It's a redundancy. You have said god does nothing. This is in agreement with what I already said.

There is no reason to assume a contradiction between acting and eternity. God acts and acts constantly.

Quote:

I don't see how this is different from saying he knows everything that will happen. And if everything is fixed in his view, then everything is fixed IN REALITY. Again, nothing ever happens. I agree.


No, it does not follow that nothing happens. Just nothing happens which God did not will or did not see as happening.

Quote:

The first part implies god's actions are not pre-known, but the second part implies that he hunkered down and cranked out a plan at some point IN TIME.

God's plan is eternal and His will likewise acts in eternity. There is no contradiction. His will allows free acts to play out in time and are incorporated into His providence. There is no contradiction at all.

Again, your arguments do not follow. There is no reason to assume a contradiction between eternity and acting.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,
StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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I was kind of wondering that myself

St. Michael wrote: 

 PS - I don't see how most of these rampant atheists are standing by and letting me refute polytheism. Wow. Go after Christianity, but leave polytheism be.

I was kind of wondering that myself.  Maybe there are just not enough of us polytheists any more for them to bother with.  We'll be back. 

When I started looking at this board I thought I'd end up in a bunch of debates with atheists who think that since they can disprove the assertions of the Bible or some of the more theoretical points of theology that they've disproved all gods.  Instead, I started up in the wrong threads and really being kind of silly.  Then I end up arguing with a Christian.  I can do that anytime I want to.

St Michael wrote:

But the attributes I attribute to God are not a priori. They follow from what we know about God from natural reason. We discover these things about God by reasoning from nature to His causal relationship in respect to it.

The problem is that you don't really know these things about the gods from natural reason.  Your reasoning  is based on the question whether there is a god or not. On that point we agree. There is at least one.

In doing this "natural reasoning," I don't think you factor in other possibilities, such as the existence of many gods.  If you add that in as a possibility in your reasoning about the nature of a god, you get a different result.  The battle has been for too long the battle between those who believe in only one God and those who say that's one God too many.  Most of the philosophers who worked through these issues came after Thomas Aquinas.  The problem is that this "natural reason" of yours can never be checked.  If it goes off the logical path at just one place everything after that is suspect.  It does not, of its nature, subject itself to being corrected by being tested against experience.  Now the same is undeniably true about my philosophy.  I solve that problem by not making nearly as many affirmations and being much more open to the possiblity that I might be wrong about something.

I think you are too restrictive when you declare that the only entity worthy of being called "God" is the entity that was the "first cause" as to this universe.  It is entirely possible that there was more than one "first cause."  Matter, in some form, may have always been here.  Most of the matter and energy in the universe we can't even see.  I generally tend to think--like Catholics as I understand it--that there was an instant, a "big bang" in which matter, energy, time, and everything came into existence.  Catholics see that as the instant in which their one God created the universe.  I think it's entirely possible that more than one God collaborated in the creation of the universe.  It is even possible--though not very likely--that no gods created it. 

St. Michael wrote:

And, lastly, as I showed, there cannot be more than one of these singularly transcendent beings.

I remember you asserting that, but I dont' think you "showed" that.  There's nothing about creation that demands that it be the work of one God. Look at creation by humans. Far more often than not creation is collaboration among many people. Why couldn't the universe be the same?

I don't define a "God" as being the first cause of the universe.  I define a god as, well, a supernatural powerful being.

The real reason I think there are many gods is because people have been "successfully" worshiping many gods throughout history. I find it unlikely that there was only one God, who picked a small group of Hebrews as his chosen people, and only expanded his sphere of influence to the rest of humanity over the last 2000 years.  I believe humans have been worshipping gods and communing with them for over 50,000 years.  Yet the one sole creator ignored all but one tribe of us until very recently. He even took the side of that one tribe as against others of us just because we worshipped Ba'al or someone. 

Maybe you're right.  Maybe it does make no sense to attribute "number" to the gods.  They are one and many.  God is no more singular or plural than he is black or white, man or woman, etc.  If so, maybe all we're talking about is semantics. There is no difference between He is and They are if there is no concept of number. Where you and I split is that you believe that you have the truth and the whole truth and the great mass of humanity is in error. Actually, to some extent we all believe that, I guess. If we thought our beliefs were wrong we'd believe something different. But I am very open to believing there's not much I know about the gods, only that they're good to me and they help me and they make me feel better. It could be that really it's just your god that's doing that, but even though I grew up in a Christian society and I've heard most of your arguments, I'm not convinced.

St. Michael wrote:

If different gods are worshipped and we have no certain knowledge about them, why worship them at all? What is a pious action (like Socrates in the Euthyphro)? What is a right action in view of the gods? If there are multiple gods, there can be no real answer to these questions.

The reason to worship the gods is that it is pleasurable to commune with them.  It seems to me that they react as if it is pleasurable to them for us to commune with them.  As far as what is a right action in the view of the gods, we need only look inward at our consciences. Although there are differences, it is astounding how similarly consciences have told people to act over countless centuries. You and I have a common point of reference. We know what it is like to be in the presence of a god, to meditate on a god, etc. It's cool. It's better than televison. It's almost as good as surfing the Internet Smiling.  I really wonder if real genuine atheists aren't just missing something that you and I perceive. Maybe we're the ones in error, but again I don't think so.

I'm seriously wondering whether I should not just acknowledge that you and I are not going to agree on this point and find another thread.  I've enjoyed this, and I've been waiting around for atheists to jump in and tell me I'm full of baloney, but it hasn't happened.

Thandarr 


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St. Michael wrote:

double post


StMichael
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Quote: The problem is that

Quote:

The problem is that you don't really know these things about the gods from natural reason. Your reasoning is based on the question whether there is a god or not. On that point we agree. There is at least one. In doing this "natural reasoning," I don't think you factor in other possibilities, such as the existence of many gods.

But that is precisely my point! When we arrive at a knowledge of God naturally, we can easily see that His nature dictates that He MUST be one! If you agree with my proof, there is no reason to disagree, as the oneness of God follows from the premises.

Quote:

The problem is that this "natural reason" of yours can never be checked.

Of course it can. It just is not "checked" by the same standards as, for example, whether my computer is functioning properly. This requires a different sort of verification than whether 2+2=4. Likewise, a different standard exists by which we determine whether a proof is logically coherent or not. And if my proof if, the conclusion follows necessarily. There is no checking; it is certain and necessary that a Prime Mover exists who is utterly simple and one.

Quote:

I solve that problem by not making nearly as many affirmations and being much more open to the possiblity that I might be wrong about something.

There are plenty of things I could be wrong about, or on which I don't have adequate knowledge. I just don't see any reason why this particular issue is among them.

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I think you are too restrictive when you declare that the only entity worthy of being called "God" is the entity that was the "first cause" as to this universe. It is entirely possible that there was more than one "first cause."

Actually, my proofs earlier clearly show that this cannot be the case. Again, such a first cause must be entirely simple, without any division between what it is and how it is. Its essence must be to exist. Thus, all first causes must have exactly the same nature - "to exist". If they do, they cannot be more than one, because number exists only with the presence of matter. There would be no matter to differentiate between them. Thus, there can only be one first cause - God.

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Matter, in some form, may have always been here.

There can not. Prime matter is a non-entity. It doesn't exist. Matter only exists insofar as it is informed by a "form" or a structure. Otherwise, it is pure potentiality - nothingness. Matter requires a mover to bring it into act. Thus, matter cannot be eternally in existence, as it has no existence of itself. God, then, must be the cause of matter's existence as well.

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I generally tend to think--like Catholics as I understand it--that there was an instant, a "big bang" in which matter, energy, time, and everything came into existence. Catholics see that as the instant in which their one God created the universe.

Catholics do not believe this, as if it were an article of faith. I believe that this is probably true, but I see no logical reason to stake my bets on it. We believe by faith that the world began in time, but this does not necessarily mean the Big Bang.

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I think it's entirely possible that more than one God collaborated in the creation of the universe. It is even possible--though not very likely--that no gods created it.

But, you see, multiple gods cannot corraborate in making the universe. Only God can do so. Only the first cause has the ability to cause the universe and all other beings to exist. There cannot be more than one of Him, and all things depend on Him for their existence. Also, we can have certain knowledge that a first cause exists; it is not merely probable.

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Look at creation by humans. Far more often than not creation is collaboration among many people. Why couldn't the universe be the same?

Because the universe is not of the same nature. Read my post above why the universe and all existing things must rely on God as their singular cause. There must be a first cause, and no more than one first cause can exist because they are not differentiated in matter.

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I don't define a "God" as being the first cause of the universe. I define a god as, well, a supernatural powerful being.

Define "supernatural." Further, angels and created spirits equally fall into this category. And I would never call them gods. Lastly, it is clear that if a first cause exists which is the transcendent cause of all things, this is most properly called God, as it most adequately fulfills the definition of a "supernatual powerful being" as it is likewise the source of nature and possessing of infinite power, which no created thing can possess.

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The real reason I think there are many gods is because people have been "successfully" worshiping many gods throughout history.

I don't think successful is a good word there. People switched deities all the time, no set worship was stable, and there was no noticable benefit of one god over another. Merely read the Aeneid to see the problems that result from the gods.

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I find it unlikely that there was only one God, who picked a small group of Hebrews as his chosen people, and only expanded his sphere of influence to the rest of humanity over the last 2000 years.

Why not?
Further, that is not a complete picture. We believe in one God who created all things, and created man in His image. He created man and established him on earth. Man sinned against God and lost his original graces, and was cast out of Paradise. God, however, promised man a redeemer. As time went on, man lost knowledge of God and of the right. So, man became more and more vicious. God chose a nation to birth the Savior of the world. He likewise led the rest of the world to Himself by means of their reason and their consciences. God prepared a home in Nazareth and became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He was born, taught others the correct doctrine about God, founded a Church, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day, He rose again, in fulfillment of the promises made of Him. He ascended into heaven and sent His Church to preach to all men the long-awaited salvation.

I would also point out the pagan prophecies of Christ's coming among the pagan oracles at Delphi and the Sybilline oracles.

I

Quote:

Maybe it does make no sense to attribute "number" to the gods. They are one and many. God is no more singular or plural than he is black or white, man or woman, etc.

No, God is supremely One. He has no divisions at all. There is nothing to seperate God and He is entirely One. Number cannot exist outside of this simplicity because there is no matter in Him.

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Where you and I split is that you believe that you have the truth and the whole truth and the great mass of humanity is in error.

I think the nature of man predisposes him to discover the truth, and that pagan worship of gods and goddesses flows from the natural confused knowledge men have of God. I believe I have the whole truth because God revealed it to be so.

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The reason to worship the gods is that it is pleasurable to commune with them. It seems to me that they react as if it is pleasurable to them for us to commune with them.

This seems an entirely arbitrary standard. How do you know that they react? Have you met a god? Further, what pleases one god does not please another - again, witness pagan mythology. Thor, Mithras, Loki, and Isis are not pleased by the same actions, and to serve all together is contradictory.

Quote:

As far as what is a right action in the view of the gods, we need only look inward at our consciences. Although there are differences, it is astounding how similarly consciences have told people to act over countless centuries. You and I have a common point of reference.

This common point of reference flows from a human nature which was created by one God, who is the author of all things. Further, as I said, gods bicker amongst themselves and do not themselves know the right. Witness, again, pagan mythology. Are the Frost Giants or Odin right? Are the Titans or Zeus right? Was Saturn correct in castrating Cronus?

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,
StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


Thandarr
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St. Michael wrote: But that

St. Michael wrote:

But that is precisely my point! When we arrive at a knowledge of God naturally, we can easily see that His nature dictates that He MUST be one! If you agree with my proof, there is no reason to disagree, as the oneness of God follows from the premises.

I don't agree with your "proof."  I don't think you have a "proof."  I agree with your result, but I got there by an entirely different way.  It seems to me that it is likely that there are gods  because 1) I and people throughout recorded history have felt contact with them; 2) it is human nature to believe in gods and if there were actually no gods evolution would have eliminated people who believed in gods in favor of people who didn't because the efforts we believers put into communing with gods and sacrificing to them could be better spent surviving; and 3) there is a remarkably similar human tendency toward morality which is, again, contrary to our best interest if the goal is mere survival.  Since there are gods, they most likely participated in creating or forming the unverse.  Such a logical process does not demand the existence of a single immutable god.

 

St. Michael wrote:

Actually, my proofs earlier clearly show that this cannot be the case. Again, such a first cause must be entirely simple, without any division between what it is and how it is. Its essence must be to exist. Thus, all first causes must have exactly the same nature - "to exist". If they do, they cannot be more than one, because number exists only with the presence of matter. There would be no matter to differentiate between them. Thus, there can only be one first cause - God.

I do not think it logically follows that a "first cause" must be entirely simple and undivided.  Sure, the first cause, whether singular or plural, must share the caracteristic of existing.  Multiple beings exist.

We need to put the quetion of why worship the Gods into perspective 

St. Michael wrote:

If different gods are worshipped and we have no certain knowledge about them, why worship them at all? What is a pious action (like Socrates in the Euthyphro)? What is a right action in view of the gods? If there are multiple gods, there can be no real answer to these questions.

 

I responded: 

The reason to worship the gods is that it is pleasurable to commune with them.  It seems to me that they react as if it is pleasurable to them for us to commune with them.  As far as what is a right action in the view of the gods, we need only look inward at our consciences. Although there are differences, it is astounding how similarly consciences have told people to act over countless centuries. You and I have a common point of reference. We know what it is like to be in the presence of a god, to meditate on a god, etc. It's cool. It's better than televison. It's almost as good as surfing the Internet Smiling.  I really wonder if real genuine atheists aren't just missing something that you and I perceive. Maybe we're the ones in error, but again I don't think so.

You then responded:

This seems an entirely arbitrary standard. How do you know that they react? Have you met a god? Further, what pleases one god does not please another - again, witness pagan mythology. Thor, Mithras, Loki, and Isis are not pleased by the same actions, and to serve all together is contradictory.

The feeling of communion with the gods is not an arbitrary standard, albeit it is a completely subjective one.  Nobody has to believe me, and I don't care if they do.  Their relationship to their gods--if any--is up to them.

I know how the gods react by the emotional connection I feel to them.  Have I met a god?  Of course I have, and you have, too.  Look within yourself, and you'll find your faith in your god comes more from cold application of Aquinas or Descartes-like reasoning.  How could you have the depth and strength of your faith if all that was involved was nothing more than an exercise in philosophy?

There are some gods who are not good.  That's where evil comes from.  Most are good.  At least the good ones won on this earth, because this earth is mostly good.  The ones who created us and gave us the ability to sense them and the conscience with which to know what they want us to do are good.

I don't serve all the gods.  I can't.  I only know of a small number of them.  There are some that I don't serve because they aren't the right ones for me.  There are some who have concerns that I'm not involved in.  There are some that are not good.  I don't serve them.  I've mentioned some of the gods who have favored me.  I don't expect you to take my word for it.  You shouldn't.  Nobody should.  People should--as you have--search out their own communion with the divine.  It is in our spiritual awakening and connection that we come to know the gods.

Thandarr


triften
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Thandarr wrote: St.

Thandarr wrote:

St. Michael wrote:

PS - I don't see how most of these rampant atheists are standing by and letting me refute polytheism. Wow. Go after Christianity, but leave polytheism be.

I was kind of wondering that myself. Maybe there are just not enough of us polytheists any more for them to bother with. We'll be back.

I thought you were being facetious. I'll have to reread your posts and formulate some responses.

-Triften 


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Quote: I agree with your

Quote:
I agree with your result, but I got there by an entirely different way. It seems to me that it is likely that there are gods because 1) I and people throughout recorded history have felt contact with them; 2) it is human nature to believe in gods and if there were actually no gods evolution would have eliminated people who believed in gods in favor of people who didn't because the efforts we believers put into communing with gods and sacrificing to them could be better spent surviving; and 3) there is a remarkably similar human tendency toward morality which is, again, contrary to our best interest if the goal is mere survival. Since there are gods, they most likely participated in creating or forming the unverse. Such a logical process does not demand the existence of a single immutable god.

None of those are proofs of God or gods. They are merely negative reasons that make belief in God/gods probable. I can equally use these to support my own position. However, the proof I offered was a true "proof" that creates a logical necessity of God, and likewise shows that there can only be one. You still haven't directly addressed that argument.

Quote:
I do not think it logically follows that a "first cause" must be entirely simple and undivided. Sure, the first cause, whether singular or plural, must share the caracteristic of existing. Multiple beings exist.

But just saying that you think that the first cause can be singular or plural doesn't change the fact that it CANNOT be plural. It can only be supremely simple.
Likewise, you mistake what the attributes of the Prime Mover are. When I said that His essence is identical with His existence, I don't mean that He merely has the characteristic of existence, but that what He is is "to exist." He is subsistent existence. A=B. Multiple beings whose essence is to exist CANNOT simultaneously exist. There is no matter to differentiate them, and no matter can in fact enter into the composition. God must be supremely and utterly simple and without division at all.

Quote:

The feeling of communion with the gods is not an arbitrary standard, albeit it is a completely subjective one. Nobody has to believe me, and I don't care if they do. Their relationship to their gods--if any--is up to them.

But you see, this makes all religion merely a matter of personal preference. What is the use of worshipping a god who doesn't exist? Just because you "feel" to be communing with a god doesn't mean that you are.

Quote:

I know how the gods react by the emotional connection I feel to them. Have I met a god? Of course I have, and you have, too.

Of course, I would point out that such spiritual encounters could easily be the product of evil spirits as well as good ones, or of your own imagination. The feelings themselves tell us very litt.e

Quote:
Look within yourself, and you'll find your faith in your god comes more from cold application of Aquinas or Descartes-like reasoning. How could you have the depth and strength of your faith if all that was involved was nothing more than an exercise in philosophy?

Which is why God asks us to rely on reason and faith, and not on feelings that we have. Feelings vary and change constantly. Reason and faith are sure foundations that cannot do so.

Quote:
There are some gods who are not good. That's where evil comes from. Most are good. At least the good ones won on this earth, because this earth is mostly good. The ones who created us and gave us the ability to sense them and the conscience with which to know what they want us to do are good.

OK, but you're just inventing a mythology. You have no reason to explain any of the claims that you just made. Further, like I said, the gods cannot be the Prime Mover. He must be one. Further, even if you claim that there are many prime movers, none can be evil. Evil is a privation of being. Any prime mover must be perfect in all ways and utterly in being without potency. An evil prime mover is a contradiction.

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I don't serve all the gods. I can't. I only know of a small number of them.

Then you piss off the rest.

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There are some that I don't serve because they aren't the right ones for me. There are some who have concerns that I'm not involved in. There are some that are not good. I don't serve them.

OK, but these are arbitrary standards. Again, if we cannot know that multiple gods exist or what they are, there is no way you could know these things. It merely becomes an exercise in creative imagination.

Quote:
I've mentioned some of the gods who have favored me. I don't expect you to take my word for it. You shouldn't. Nobody should. People should--as you have--search out their own communion with the divine. It is in our spiritual awakening and connection that we come to know the gods.

But you have no reason to say this! It leads directly to a complete and utter subjectivism. How can you please any god if you don't have a clear knowledge that they exist? Reason and faith are the only ways we can come to know these things. Feelings are not a ground of proof for anything, especially belief in deities.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,
StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


Thandarr
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St. Michael wrote:

St. Michael wrote:

. . .the proof I offered was a true "proof" that creates a logical necessity of God, and likewise shows that there can only be one. You still haven't directly addressed that argument.
Maybe I don't know what you're talking about. I have assumed you were talking about things in this thread. If somewhere else you've posted a proof that I haven't noticed, please tell me where I can find it so I can either tell you why you're wrong or concede this point if you happen to be right or, and this is the most likely, admit that I don't know. My religion isn't a matter of personal preference. I don't know what I'd prefer. Sometimes I think I'd prefer to be a believing Christian, perhaps even a Catholic. It'd sure be easier to get along in this demon haunted world if I were. Other times I think I'd prefer to be one of these atheists, but one that doesn't worry about whether there's a god or not, not one who feels compelled to evangelize about it. I have reached my religious beliefs--tentative though they are--because this is where the combination of my experience and my reason have led me. I don't evangelize because Pagans don't evangelize. Such a large part of my religious experience is inherently subjective. People don't convert to the pagan path. They notice that they already were pagans and find out about it.The problem is that Christians argue as if religious faith were an act of will. You think a person can simply elect to believe something. But you can't. Your actual beliefs are whereever you end up after doing the exercise of thinking, exploring, and looking inward. I suspect you realize that, if I could freely choose my beliefs, I wouldn't be a pagan in America. But I am where I am after years of inquiry, thought, research, prayer, and deliberation.I certainly don't fear that I "piss off" those god/dess/es I don't have relations with. [Does "god/dess/es" work to stand for "god and or goddess and/or gods and or goddesses" or does it just look like a massive typo?] No rational god/dess/es would expect every human being in the world to look to him/r. I do not think god/dess/es get angry if they are ignored. They really don't need us and don't particularly care if we ignore them. They do, I believe from experience, enjoy it when we call on them. You are superimposing the Christian ideal of "God" on the god/dess/es. Your God expects everyone in the world to come to Him. Mine know better. It doesn't work that way. Why would I need an Egyptian or Hindu god when I have the Classical Roman gods to look to? Others will prefer other god/dess/es.St. Michael wrote:
It leads directly to a complete and utter subjectivism. How can you please any god if you don't have a clear knowledge that they exist? Reason and faith are the only ways we can come to know these things. Feelings are not a ground of proof for anything, especially belief in deities.

My experiences with the god/dess/es is completely and utterly subjective. I can please them because I feel their presence and their attitudes and their moods. The kind of "reasoning" that comes from Christian theology not only provides no clearer guide than my experience, it often goes completely off track and is wrong. There is nothing more reliable than feelings when it comes to communing with the divine. It certainly isn't formalistic Cartesian or Aquinian {?} logic.

Thandarr

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Quote: St. Michael wrote:

Quote:
St. Michael wrote:

. . .the proof I offered was a true "proof" that creates a logical necessity of God, and likewise shows that there can only be one. You still haven't directly addressed that argument.

Maybe I don't know what you're talking about. I have assumed you were talking about things in this thread. If somewhere else you've posted a proof that I haven't noticed, please tell me where I can find it so I can either tell you why you're wrong or concede this point if you happen to be right or, and this is the most likely, admit that I don't know.

I posted the five proofs for the existence of God on my blog on this site. You just click my avatar and go to my blog entries.

Quote:

My religion isn't a matter of personal preference.

Praise Jesus, Hallelujah! That is a wonderful place to start.

Quote:
I have reached my religious beliefs--tentative though they are--because this is where the combination of my experience and my reason have led me.

I am merely arguing that reason does not lead to this conclusion. I think you are relying a great deal too much on personal experience. Reason is our guide to know with certainty these things, where feelings and the like can be deceptive.

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Such a large part of my religious experience is inherently subjective.

That is a clear problem, as it conflicts with what you said earlier that your religion is not merely a matter of personal preference. A subjective religion is basically elevated personal preference.

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They notice that they already were pagans and find out about it.

I tend to believe everyone is naturally an anonymous Christian, but I suppose that's irrelevant.

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The problem is that Christians argue as if religious faith were an act of will.

I think it is quite clear that it is.

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Your actual beliefs are whereever you end up after doing the exercise of thinking, exploring, and looking inward.

Well, that is only if you are rational. People can be stubborn and refuse evidence that is apparent to everyone else. People can get things wrong. Further, even if you are thinking and exploring, you are doing it with the defect of being able to make mistakes. This is why God revealed His existence to us through Revelation, even though we can show it naturally. It is so that all people might have clear and certain knowledge of God.

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No rational god/dess/es would expect every human being in the world to look to him/r. I do not think god/dess/es get angry if they are ignored.

Well, that would be purely speculation. You have no way to prove whether or not they care or whether they will fight you. On the other hand, my knowledge of God and His Providence is provable according to natural reason.

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They really don't need us and don't particularly care if we ignore them.

Why pray to them at all if they don't care?

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They do, I believe from experience, enjoy it when we call on them.

On what data or evidence? It is still on the level of pure subjective experience. That is no foundation for any religion, as you yourself admit. Move back and look into your own mind and consider these proofs.

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Your God expects everyone in the world to come to Him.

He created all men to be happy with Him forever. No coercion there.

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My experiences with the god/dess/es is completely and utterly subjective. I can please them because I feel their presence and their attitudes and their moods.

Exactly. You have no basis to say that my beliefs are wrong or right, you have no knowledge of gods/goddesses. You have no knowledge about any of it. It is purely what you speculate and feel. This is a very bad foundation for a religion, especially as it deals with the most important fact of life.

Quote:
The kind of "reasoning" that comes from Christian theology not only provides no clearer guide than my experience, it often goes completely off track and is wrong.

OK, how? Further, if you say it is wrong, you are using logic to correct my vision of the universe. Is this not a contradiction in a purely subjective framework? If there is a right answer, say the gods exist, that is to apply a standard of logical truth to reality. But you deny this is possible. Hence, you use reason to debunk reason. It is a glaring contradiction.

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There is nothing more reliable than feelings when it comes to communing with the divine.

Not even the ancient pagans believed that. Further, again, this leads to a total and utter subjectivism. If that is true, you can't say that reasoning is any worse. They are both equally wrong and right, because the terms don't mean anything. It is a big problem for your concept of religion.

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It certainly isn't formalistic Cartesian or Aquinian {?} logic.

No Descartes. Just logic and philosophy(maybe a bit of Aquinas).

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,
StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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I suppose the first thing I

I suppose the first thing I would reply to is a question you asked: "Is God angry at us for questioning him?"  This scientific study is nothing more than the typical "If God is real then why doesn't he (add out come here)?" test.

 In Deuteronomy 6:16 and again in Matthew 4:7 it says, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."

I agree with many other people that it would be nice if a huge stone tablet that said, "I am God.  Obey Me!" fell from the clear blue sky.  Or what ever proof your heart desires.  It would make following God so much easier.  However, this is not to be.

 I also have one major arguement with the study presented:  There was no control group.  Two groups  in the study was told they might be prayed for and one was told they would be prayed for. Why was there not a group that was told they would NOT be prayed for?  The difference here is the attitude of the patient.  Does knowing that no one is praying for you have an effect on complications?  Also, what are the typical complication rates for this surgery?  Are they higher, lower, or the same for people in this group?

My second question about this study:  Who was praying for these people?  James 5:13-16 talks about the power of prayer.  It talks about God's abilty to heal the sick and aid the troubled. 

13. Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

I'd ask you to note two things: 1) the prayer must be offered in faith and 2) it says the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  Did the people praying for these people have faith?  Were they righteous people in the eyes of God?