New in town

nedbrek
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New in town

Hello all,
I was told of this site by a friend. All the current threads seem to be pretty well developed, so I thought I would start a new one...

I have always been a theist. Although my journey has taken me to a lot of different places; I was never able to accept atheism. So, I'm curious to hear why people choose atheism.

Thanks!
Ned


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nedbrek wrote: The Koran

nedbrek wrote:

The Koran says that the Bible is God's Word. The Bible says Jesus is God's son. The Koran says Allah has no son. Either the Koran is lying, or Allah is not God...

I am sure Moslem apologists can explain this problem away, and while the explanation no doubt fails to impress non-Moslems I am sure it does the trick for Moslems.

It is the same with the Ephesians vs. Matthew issue. Of course the latter passage could technically be interpreted to mean what you say it means, but it does sound like sophistry. A normal, articulate person would not say what Matthew says if she meant that salvation comes only through faith. An omnipotent writer should be able to write intelligible and unambiguous texts. It looks like this holy spirit bloke, if he existed, would be "the author of confusion", to use Paul's phrase.

So both the Bible and the Quran contain apparent contradictions which can be explained away by their respective apologists, satisfying their coreligionists but failing to impress others. This is of course also the case for all the rest of the "holy books".

But even if we managed to rate these books for consistency, we would still have zero evidence that any of them are divinely inspired.

nedbrek wrote:

It is possible, but not easy. Read any science fiction story with a suspension of disbelief. You will find weak spots in the plot. That is with a single author. Now add dozens (I think the Star Wars books have had a dozen or so authors, and most of them are pretty terrible). Now span the writing over hundreds of years. Not easy to fit that all together.

In this regard the Bible is a dismal failure. In a science fiction story something like the above-mentioned faith-or-works passages would count as a major inconsistency.

nedbrek wrote:

We don't know what happens to them.

It is quite a conundrum, is it not? If those who have not received the message are damned, god is evil or incompetent. If they are not damned, spreading the gospel is a terribly bad idea because it puts people in danger of hell fire. Either way, Christianity is false.


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nedbrek wrote:Sapient

nedbrek wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Do you remember what it was like before you were born? We only have evidence to show that death is similar to how you felt before you were born.

Nine months before I was born, I didn't exist, I won't have memories of not existing. I may have deep laden memories of warmth and sound from that nine month period that make me comfortable.

Are you saying death is annihilation? That's ok. Declare what you believe!

I just did declare what I believe. I believe what we have proof for, which is to say that when you die you are no longer alive in any state, like before your were a sperm.

- Brian Sapient


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nedbrek
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Kemono wrote: I am sure

Kemono wrote:

I am sure Moslem apologists can explain this problem away, and while the explanation no doubt fails to impress non-Moslems I am sure it does the trick for Moslems.

I don't know what Moslem apologists say... if we meet a rational one here, we can debate him.

Kemono wrote:

It is the same with the Ephesians vs. Matthew issue. Of course the latter passage could technically be interpreted to mean what you say it means, but it does sound like sophistry. A normal, articulate person would not say what Matthew says if she meant that salvation comes only through faith. An omnipotent writer should be able to write intelligible and unambiguous texts. It looks like this holy spirit bloke, if he existed, would be "the author of confusion", to use Paul's phrase.

Is my interpretation twisted in some way? I am just reading things in a straight forward manner, and applying logic.


nedbrek
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Sapient wrote: I just did

Sapient wrote:

I just did declare what I believe. I believe what we have proof for, which is to say that when you die you are no longer alive in any state, like before your were a sperm.

I imagine this is an exaggeration. I doubt you require someone to walk you through the derivation of radiation theory and the properties of semiconductor materials before you watch TV or listen to radio...

Are you familiar with the concept of entropy, that when it comes to available energy, "you can't win, you can't break even, and you have to play"?

Thanks!


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nedbrek wrote:Sapient

nedbrek wrote:
Sapient wrote:

I just did declare what I believe. I believe what we have proof for, which is to say that when you die you are no longer alive in any state, like before your were a sperm.

I imagine this is an exaggeration.

No it wasn't an exagerration. And considering the rest of your post had nothing to do with the topic, I'll leave it alone for now.

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nedbrek
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Sapient wrote: No it wasn't

Sapient wrote:

No it wasn't an exagerration. And considering the rest of your post had nothing to do with the topic, I'll leave it alone for now.

I am moving from the specific to the general. From, "what happens when you die?" to "what happens when the universe dies?".


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nedbrek wrote: I don't know

nedbrek wrote:

I don't know what Moslem apologists say... if we meet a rational one here, we can debate him.

Fair enough. Instead of comparing Christianity with Islam, let us compare it with Pastafarianism. Although I am not a Pastafarian in real life, I will assume the role of a Pastafarian apologist in the interest of playing the Devil's advocate.

How would you go about assessing the logical consistency of these two religions?

nedbrek wrote:

Is my interpretation twisted in some way? I am just reading things in a straight forward manner, and applying logic.

Quite twisted, I fear. A man is asking Jesus what good things he must do to get eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments if he wants to enter life. Your interpretation implies that the poor fellow is asking the wrong question and that Jesus, instead of setting him straight like any moral person would do, gives him an answer that is technically true but utterly useless. What a petty, mean-spirited, nasty Jesus that would be!

But before we venture any further into the topics addressed here, perhaps you would like to argue why Christianity is not disproved by the problem of the not-yet-evangelized: if those who die without hearing the gospel are damned, then god is evil or incompetent; and if they are not damned, Christians should stop preaching the gospel.


nedbrek
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Kemono wrote: Fair enough.

Kemono wrote:

Fair enough. Instead of comparing Christianity with Islam, let us compare it with Pastafarianism. Although I am not a Pastafarian in real life, I will assume the role of a Pastafarian apologist in the interest of playing the Devil's advocate.

How would you go about assessing the logical consistency of these two religions?

Err, not sure if you've seen the "intelligent falling" discussion. Very amusing, but it stretches their usual policy of keeping to non-provable statements. Ignoring that, I'm not really interested in a heaven filled with beer volcanoes or stripper factories Smiling Basically, the FSM is another "works righteous" religion. The idea that what we do or don't do will make us acceptable to God / for heaven / for nirvana / whatever.

Kemono wrote:

Quite twisted, I fear. A man is asking Jesus what good things he must do to get eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments if he wants to enter life. Your interpretation implies that the poor fellow is asking the wrong question and that Jesus, instead of setting him straight like any moral person would do, gives him an answer that is technically true but utterly useless. What a petty, mean-spirited, nasty Jesus that would be!

Actually, you've stumbled into one of my favorite stories. Smiling

Remember, the assumption is that Jesus knows exactly what this man is thinking, and what he must truly do. Jesus works the man towards this, at the same time as providing a valuable lesson to us all...

Jesus asks him if he has kept the commandments - in order to remind us all that we have not.

The man believes he has kept the commandments (Matthew 19:20).

Rather than arguing with him, Jesus reminds him of the first commandment (by telling him to sell all he has) because he knows that will strike the man's conscience. It does exactly that.

Kemono wrote:

But before we venture any further into the topics addressed here, perhaps you would like to argue why Christianity is not disproved by the problem of the not-yet-evangelized: if those who die without hearing the gospel are damned, then god is evil or incompetent; and if they are not damned, Christians should stop preaching the gospel.

I'll leave damned/saved out, since we don't know. The Bible says the unknowing are "beaten with few stripes" (which doesn't sound very pleasant, at best). But the question is why?

This basically comes down to a "sins of the father" situation. If the Bible is to be believed, all people are descended from Adam. All people could of had a tradition reaching back to a direct relationship with God. Instead, we have a polyglot of beliefs that focus on the importance of ourselves and our actions.

We preach the Gospel for a number of reasons:
1) Jesus told us to
2) It glorifies God
3) We don't want anyone to be damned / be beaten
4) (the selfish one) we don't want to feel guilty on the day of judgment Smiling


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nedbrek wrote: Jesus asks

nedbrek wrote:

Jesus asks him if he has kept the commandments - in order to remind us all that we have not.

The man believes he has kept the commandments (Matthew 19:20).

Rather than arguing with him, Jesus reminds him of the first commandment (by telling him to sell all he has) because he knows that will strike the man's conscience. It does exactly that.

If Matthew meant it that way, don't you think he would have said it? Something on the lines of "The man went away, having realized that no mortal can live by the commandments and that through faith alone could he be saved" would have done the trick.

If an omnipotent being had inspired the Bible, I think he could have had it written sufficiently well that we not have to sit around here and argue about what he meant.

nedbrek wrote:

This basically comes down to a "sins of the father" situation. If the Bible is to be believed, all people are descended from Adam. All people could of had a tradition reaching back to a direct relationship with God. Instead, we have a polyglot of beliefs that focus on the importance of ourselves and our actions.

The only moral justification for punishment of any kind is that a credible threat of punishment makes people less likely to commit transgressions. What would be the point of punishing someone for a deed he has not done? A god who did that would be evil.

This brings us to another central issue: why would a god be moral at all? Morality can only be made sense of in the light of evolution by natural selection. A gregarious animal benefits from having a morality because it makes him a more efficient cooperator. What possible use could an omnipotent being have for a morality when he can do anything by himself and has no-one with whom to cooperate? The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that we dreamed god up in our own image.


nedbrek
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Kemono wrote: If Matthew

Kemono wrote:

If Matthew meant it that way, don't you think he would have said it? Something on the lines of "The man went away, having realized that no mortal can live by the commandments and that through faith alone could he be saved" would have done the trick.

If an omnipotent being had inspired the Bible, I think he could have had it written sufficiently well that we not have to sit around here and argue about what he meant.

But God did not use the Gospel writers like typewriters. They were normal men, with their own backgrounds, misconceptions, and faults. The Holy Spirit acted to make their word choices and accounts God's word, but the writer's personality shines through.

Kemono wrote:

The only moral justification for punishment of any kind is that a credible threat of punishment makes people less likely to commit transgressions. What would be the point of punishing someone for a deed he has not done? A god who did that would be evil.

This brings us to another central issue: why would a god be moral at all? Morality can only be made sense of in the light of evolution by natural selection. A gregarious animal benefits from having a morality because it makes him a more efficient cooperator. What possible use could an omnipotent being have for a morality when he can do anything by himself and has no-one with whom to cooperate? The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that we dreamed god up in our own image.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/moral says "Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character".

In that way, God is very moral.

Punishment reveals more of God. It reveals that he is just. It reveals his love, by saving unworthy people from punishment. It shows patience, in that he continues to withhold the judgment.


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Nedbrek, you said earlier on

Nedbrek, you said earlier on that one should evaluate religious texts logically. Let us review where we have got so far with the Bible (my reactions in bold):

1. In the beginning there was a god, an omni-this-and-that being with interests, preferences and a morality (albeit a crude and barbaric one).
Weird. How could a complex being just exist and not be a product of evolution? How can something that is not evolved have interests? And why would a non-evolved thing have all these human qualities? Why would it be moral?

2. This god created everything in the universe. That includes us, created in his image.
Okay. But since we are clearly the products of evolution by natural selection, how can we be the image of a non-evolved god?

3. Humans sin, and god punishes sin with eternal posthumous torment.
Uhh... what is sin? Why would a non-evolved thing care about anything, and why would it get a kick out of punishing people? How does it choose which actions require punishment and which do not?

4. The way to avoid punishment is to accept Jesus.
Wait a minute... does god need to punish sin or not? If not, what is up with the "god punishes sin" talk? If he does, how can he let people off the hook if they accept Jesus? And why do they need to know or care about Jesus to get off the hook?

5. God is good.
How can someone who tortures people for eternity be good?

6. God is revealed in the Bible, his inspired word.
Right. So god has something important to say. But hold on, most of the people in the world have never read it, and those who have cannot seem to agree on what it says. So apparently god does not care if people get the message or not. Except that he should as he (in the form of Jesus) explicitly commands that his message be preached.

All of this seems pretty illogical to me.

nedbrek wrote:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/moral says "Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character".

In that way, God is very moral.

Perhaps I did not state the question clearly enough. Why is god moral? Being moral is a quality peculiar to a particular kind of evolved being: animals that
(1) benefit from cooperation with other individuals, and
(2) have the cognitive capacity to distinguish between individuals.

Why would a god have this animal quality?

Quote:
Punishment reveals more of God. It reveals that he is just. It reveals his love, by saving unworthy people from punishment. It shows patience, in that he continues to withhold the judgment.

So god torments people for eternity so that we could get to know him better. Do you call that just?


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nedbrek wrote: 2) It

nedbrek wrote:

2) It glorifies God

I've always wondered why God needs\wants to be glorified. Isn't this something that requires ego.


nedbrek
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Kemono wrote:Nedbrek, you

Kemono wrote:
Nedbrek, you said earlier on that one should evaluate religious texts logically. Let us review where we have got so far with the Bible (my reactions in bold):

1.Weird. How could a complex being just exist and not be a product of evolution? How can something that is not evolved have interests? And why would a non-evolved thing have all these human qualities? Why would it be moral?

God just exists, that is the definition. It's not something we can prove or disprove. The Bible says God is the beginning and the end. Before anything was, God is.

To be "in the image of God" is to have qualities in common with God. This include sentience, sense of justice, etc.

Kemono wrote:

2. This god created everything in the universe. That includes us, created in his image.
Okay. But since we are clearly the products of evolution by natural selection, how can we be the image of a non-evolved god?

God is not material, so our material image is not the image God. It is the mind, and such (as above).

Kemono wrote:

3. Humans sin, and god punishes sin with eternal posthumous torment.
Uhh... what is sin? Why would a non-evolved thing care about anything, and why would it get a kick out of punishing people? How does it choose which actions require punishment and which do not?

As the image bearers of God, we are meant to reflect God to the rest of creation. When we lie, lust, or murder; we are saying to creation, "God is a lying, pornographic murderer!" That makes God angry, because He is not those things. Justice demands punishment.

Kemono wrote:

4. The way to avoid punishment is to accept Jesus.
Wait a minute... does god need to punish sin or not? If not, what is up with the "god punishes sin" talk? If he does, how can he let people off the hook if they accept Jesus? And why do they need to know or care about Jesus to get off the hook?

A better way to say it is, to repent (turn our back on) our old sinful ways, and put all our trust in Jesus as our savior. Then our sins are attributed to Jesus, and His righteousness (right standing, good account) is attributed to us. Jesus' death on the cross was the punishment for those sins.

Kemono wrote:

5. God is good.
How can someone who tortures people for eternity be good?

I'm not entirely certain why there isn't a purgatory-like place. It appears related to the unchanging nature of God. That God is outside of time-space, and once we are with Him, there is no change...

Kemono wrote:

6. God is revealed in the Bible, his inspired word.
Right. So god has something important to say. But hold on, most of the people in the world have never read it, and those who have cannot seem to agree on what it says. So apparently god does not care if people get the message or not. Except that he should as he (in the form of Jesus) explicitly commands that his message be preached.

All of this seems pretty illogical to me.

The doctrine of repentance and faith is pretty well established among most Christian groups (even the Catholic church will stick to it, in some ways). From there, you get a lot of people arguing. That is the way people are, unfortunately.

Kemono wrote:

Perhaps I did not state the question clearly enough. Why is god moral? Being moral is a quality peculiar to a particular kind of evolved being: animals that
(1) benefit from cooperation with other individuals, and
(2) have the cognitive capacity to distinguish between individuals.

Why would a god have this animal quality?

God's morality extends from his complete and utter goodness. What is bad must be put away from him.

Kemono wrote:

Quote:
Punishment reveals more of God. It reveals that he is just. It reveals his love, by saving unworthy people from punishment. It shows patience, in that he continues to withhold the judgment.

So god torments people for eternity so that we could get to know him better. Do you call that just?

Ultimately, yes. That is what is at stake. Life is not a game of cricket.


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Let us compare how

Let us compare how Christianity deals with these issues vs. how humanism, based on science and reason, deals with them.

nedbrek wrote:

God just exists, that is the definition. It's not something we can prove or disprove. The Bible says God is the beginning and the end. Before anything was, God is.

Christianity: God is a complex and intelligent being and he just exists for god-knows-what reason.
Humanism: Complex and intelligent beings come about as a product of natural selection. Gods are complex and intelligent because we made them up.

Christianity: Interests and preferences exist just because.
Humanism: Interests come into the universe as a result of evolution: living beings 'try' to survive, procreate etc. because natural selection builds them that way. Preferences are a sophisticated version of these interests.

Score two points for humanism.

nedbrek wrote:

As the image bearers of God, we are meant to reflect God to the rest of creation.

To whom? Which creatures but humans have a concept of god?

nedbrek wrote:
When we lie, lust, or murder; we are saying to creation, "God is a lying, pornographic murderer!"

Why? We are not gods. God could simply write (figuratively speaking) into the heart of every sentient being the knowledge that he is not a lying, pornographic murderer. (Although curiously enough, the Bible does portray god as a mass murderer.)

nedbrek wrote:
That makes God angry, because He is not those things. Justice demands punishment.

Christianity: God is angry because humans are bad PR for him. Justice demands eternal torment as punishment. God's capacity to get angry is taken as a given.
Humanism: Gods have a tendency to get angry because it is a lucrative business for the clergy to appease these imaginary beings.

Score a third point for humanism.

nedbrek wrote:
A better way to say it is, to repent (turn our back on) our old sinful ways, and put all our trust in Jesus as our savior. Then our sins are attributed to Jesus, and His righteousness (right standing, good account) is attributed to us. Jesus' death on the cross was the punishment for those sins.

So god is angry because we are bad PR for him. Justice demands that he punish someone. (So justice is when the powerful manage their anger by pouring it on the weak. This is one seriously messed up idea of justice!) Insteading of learning how to deal with his emotions, god punishes himself. He also continue to 'punish' (i.e. torment just because he feels like it) everyone who fails to meet the arbitrary criterion of accepting some bloke Jesus as his saviour.

nedbrek wrote:

I'm not entirely certain why there isn't a purgatory-like place. It appears related to the unchanging nature of God. That God is outside of time-space, and once we are with Him, there is no change...

Christianity: Eternal punishment is just and good. We just do not understand it.
Humanism: This fictitious god punishes people with eternal torment because infinite punishment sounds scarier than finite punishment and is therefore more suited to the needs of the clergy.

Humanism 4, Christianity 0.

nedbrek wrote:
Kemono wrote:

6. God is revealed in the Bible, his inspired word.
Right. So god has something important to say. But hold on, most of the people in the world have never read it, and those who have cannot seem to agree on what it says. So apparently god does not care if people get the message or not. Except that he should as he (in the form of Jesus) explicitly commands that his message be preached.

All of this seems pretty illogical to me.

The doctrine of repentance and faith is pretty well established among most Christian groups (even the Catholic church will stick to it, in some ways). From there, you get a lot of people arguing. That is the way people are, unfortunately.

This does not address the problem. An omnipotent god could communicate his message effectively and unambiguously to all of humanity.

Humanism: The reason god does not communicate his message to all of mankind in an effective manner is because he does not exist.
Christianity: [insert explanation]

Are we ready to score point five for humanism?

nedbrek wrote:
Kemono wrote:

Perhaps I did not state the question clearly enough. Why is god moral? Being moral is a quality peculiar to a particular kind of evolved being: animals that
(1) benefit from cooperation with other individuals, and
(2) have the cognitive capacity to distinguish between individuals.

Why would a god have this animal quality?

God's morality extends from his complete and utter goodness. What is bad must be put away from him.

You are only substituting the word goodness for the word morality. The question is why does god's morality or goodness or whatever you want to call it coincide with the tit-for-tat cooperation strategy that primates and other animals have evolved. I think it is because we invented god and copied our ideas of morality onto him.

nedbrek wrote:
Kemono wrote:

So god torments people for eternity so that we could get to know him better. Do you call that just?

Ultimately, yes. That is what is at stake. Life is not a game of cricket.

So if a human were to build a sentient being (say, an android) and torture it so that it would get to know him better, would that be just? I do not think so. I think this is a horribly perverted idea of justice and one that Christians have to accept against their better judgement because otherwise their belief system would collapse.