An interesting stickam Conversation Atheist Vs. Theist

doctoro's picture
Posts: 196
Joined: 2006-12-15
User is offlineOffline
An interesting stickam Conversation Atheist Vs. Theist

I had a pretty fun conversation with a theist the other night in stickam. We started off talking about stem cell research, and covered several other areas. I think we frustrated each other, but I had a very difficult time getting this guy to commit to anything, and he kept dodging every question.

What do you think?

From June 21, 2007


doctoro: Would you agree that if souls exist, then there must be some theoretical point at which the soul is "born"?

Anonymous Theist: You can speak theoretically all you want. Yes, there MIGHT be a starting point to a "soul"

doctoro: hmmm... what is the alternative? no starting point? always existed prior to birth?

Anonymous Theist: All I know is that only God knows the answer and that we might not be ready for the answer

doctoro: well let's suppose there is an answer. are there any alternatives to a starting point for a soul? what is harmful about speculating?

Anonymous Theist: No harm in pure speculation, but just so long as the speculation doesnt get substituted for fact

doctoro: hmmm... well, i would think that there would have to be a finite number of possibilities for answering the question about when the soul starts.

doctoro: either always existed or it has a specific starting point. i don't see any alternatives.

doctoro: i don't think christian theology (except mormonism) allows for the belief in prior existence of a human soul before birth.

doctoro: would you agree or disagree?

Anonymous Theist: Well, that's what we can percieve as being. But the soul, as it is, may transcend normal reality as we know it.

doctoro: hmmm...

doctoro: now that's perplexing

Anonymous Theist: Do you get what I'm saying

Anonymous Theist: ?

Anonymous Theist: That is why I dont like metaphysical arguments and theories too much

doctoro: if something exists, it either has a chronological beginning or not... I don't see that as a false dichotomy.

doctoro: christians claim that everything requires a creator.

doctoro: do you believe that everything requires a creator?

Anonymous Theist: because we dont honestly know what the laws of nature and order would be in different planes of reality

Anonymous Theist: Yes

doctoro: EVEN metaphysical things require a creator (except for the creator himself, who gets a free pass from needing a creator)?

doctoro: in other words, souls and angels would need a creator, right?

Anonymous Theist: That is something that we can't honestly wrap our minds around

doctoro: angels don't need a creator?

Anonymous Theist: We cant pretend to know what it's like in another reality or existence

doctoro: hmmm.

doctoro: so angels do need a creator then?

doctoro: i thought everything needs a creator

doctoro: except god.

Anonymous Theist: Maybe. I'm just saying that, as far as beings outside of our normal existence...

Anonymous Theist: we can't know whether they needed a creator or not

doctoro: did heaven always exist?

doctoro: or did god create heaven?

Anonymous Theist: all I know is that in OUR existence, everything needs a creator

doctoro: hmmm...

Anonymous Theist: Do you understand what I'm thinking?

doctoro: so we might possibly have a free pass for eternal existence in the past or future in the spirit world?

doctoro: without creation?

doctoro: i think i understand what you're thinking.

doctoro: and it seems an appeal to ignorance.

Anonymous Theist: Maybe... we don't know that, for being honest with ourselves

doctoro: frustratingly evasive.

Anonymous Theist: It's not ignorance

doctoro: i would argue that something that is not intelligible is not something we can know ANYTHING about.

Anonymous Theist: How can we know what it's like to be outside of our own existence

doctoro: Hence, if the spirit world and God are so mystical, how could we know anything about them at all?

doctoro: And why would we even try?

doctoro: It would be a waste of time.

Anonymous Theist: It's just in our nature to learn all we can

doctoro: If we can't know anything about heaven or the spirit world, how can we know the bible is true

Anonymous Theist: and God has revealed small facets of himself in our existence

doctoro: or that there even is a god?

Anonymous Theist: That's the basis of Faith

doctoro: well, couldn't i have faith that there is no soul or no god?

Anonymous Theist: Faith= believing in spite of the lack of evidence

doctoro: there's really no way to show why my faith there is no god is inferior to your faith there is a god.

Anonymous Theist: That is your choice, my friend

doctoro: I have faith that God doesn't exist with no evidence.

doctoro: Hence, both our claims are equally true.

Anonymous Theist: I'm not here to prove it to you one way or the other

doctoro: There could be no demarcation between a good reason for belief and a bad one.

Anonymous Theist: you have to think and do the research and come to your own conclusion

doctoro: BUT;

doctoro: What is there to research?

doctoro: You're saying there is no evidence or way to understand anything in the non-physical world.

Anonymous Theist: Right

doctoro: *enjoying this conversation, by the way.

Anonymous Theist: Thanks

doctoro: If there's no way to understand anything in the non-physical world, how could you have any reason at all for belief?

Anonymous Theist: The research is within your own heart and mind and "soul", as it were....

doctoro: Even a belief that requires faith needs SOME reasons.

doctoro: Whether "in the mind" or through experience, we need reasons for believing.

doctoro: *by the way, I don't think faith is a valid word that makes any sense.

Anonymous Theist: And the reasons for our faith in our beliefs resides in Gods word (Bible)

doctoro: hmmm...

doctoro: so i can use the bible to ascertain SOME facts about the non-physical spirit world?

doctoro: (provided I have faith in it)

Anonymous Theist: And we're going by words which speak to our hearts and minds

doctoro: What if words in the bible speak to my heart and mind differently than yours?

doctoro: Is there a good way to determine the facts in the bible beyond just relative interpretation amongst humans?

doctoro: Or are all facts in the bible relative?

Anonymous Theist: so i can use the bible to ascertain SOME facts about the non-physical spirit world? I think there is some things that God said in the bible about that one... I'd have to look further. Like I said, r

Anonymous Theist: revealed in small facets

doctoro: like what?

doctoro: --the small facets

doctoro: my point is that if there is some way to determine what these "small facets" are that are revealed to us, we might have a more systematic way of identifying them.

doctoro: If I can know some things about God,

doctoro: I'd like to know how I do that.

doctoro: Maybe sharing some of these facets will help us find a method for learning *other* facets....

doctoro: and as much about God as possible.

Anonymous Theist: Like the times in the early parts in the bible where the main people would "see" God or His angels. There's a lot of times God reveals some of himself in the Bibles history

doctoro: hmmm...

doctoro: does god reveal himself in modern times?

Anonymous Theist: Keep in mind... I'm not a regular bible studier

doctoro: nor am i a bible expert.

doctoro: does god reveal himself to anyone in modern times?

doctoro: How would we be sure if he did?

Anonymous Theist: Well, in modern times... I'm sure you can dig up quite a few stories or articles from people who have witnessed miracles that could only come from God's hand

doctoro: i see

Anonymous Theist: I would think most of these stories wouldnt be sensationalized in the media

doctoro: have *you* ever seen, witnessed, or spoke to god?

doctoro: do you have first hand experience?

Anonymous Theist: No... But like I said... and how you stated... it's subjective for everyone

doctoro: do you think there are some people who think they have experiences with God or Jesus who might be mistaken?

Anonymous Theist: Of course... there's going to be the genuine people who have had real experiences, but there will also be some whackjobs, too

doctoro: how would you know the difference?

Anonymous Theist: I guess it's what they (say) experienced and how they interpret or take it. What they experienced may be from their own mind, but that would take time to prove

Anonymous Theist: I guess I know where youre coming from

doctoro: do you think people are more accurate about retelling non-supernatural events than supernatural ones?

doctoro: To rephrase...

doctoro: Do you trust someone more when he or she is making a non-supernatural claim?

Anonymous Theist: If it's someone I don't know, then I'd of course trust them more

doctoro: well back to the topic we started on...

doctoro: souls and when they're born.

doctoro: Do you think that embryos have souls?

Anonymous Theist: I don't know

doctoro: are you pro-stem cell research or anti-stem cell research?

Anonymous Theist: Maybe... but I think that's not for us to know

Anonymous Theist: I am pro-stem cell research, but I understand that stem cells can be harvsted elsewhere than fetuses

doctoro: Don't you think if there is a potential medical therapy that could save millions of lives, we should base our ethical decisions on thoughtful inquiry?

Anonymous Theist: coffee

doctoro: If there's something we *think* we don't know, or can't know, shouldn't we base policies on *at the very least* our best guess, and not just forbidding an action because "we don't know"?

doctoro: If I were only 50% sure that fetuses have souls, I would probably allow stem cell research from FETUSES.

Anonymous Theist: Ok... what is the crux of the argument here? Killing fetuses for stem cells?

doctoro: Sure.

doctoro: I don't mean an 8 month old baby.

doctoro: I'm talking about embryos that have had mere weeks of gestation.

doctoro: or even just some time in a test tube.

Anonymous Theist: What did I just say about harvesting stem cells and where from?

doctoro: depends on how you define fetus

doctoro: i don't think anyone in the pro-stem cell camp advocates "killing fetuses"

Anonymous Theist: I said that they can be harvested from sources other than a human fetus

doctoro: if you define it as babies that have gestated for several months.

Anonymous Theist: or embryo

doctoro: sources *other than embryos*?

Anonymous Theist: yes

Anonymous Theist: wasn't kelso just talking about that, BTW

Anonymous Theist: Stem cells from adult humans

doctoro: alright, here's a definitive source -- 8 weeks of gestation makes a developing human a "fetus"

Anonymous Theist: and umbilical cords

doctoro: Stem cell research seeks to harvest stem cells from embryos that are 5 days old.

Anonymous Theist: So if there are alternatives, why are we on the subject of fetuses and embryos?

doctoro: There are not alternatives.

doctoro: This talk about adult stem cells or umbilical cords...

Anonymous Theist: And why is that?

doctoro: The stem cells are not as good.

doctoro: Here's the deal...

doctoro: You see this issue of harvesting from an embryo (5 days old) as a gray area. And if adult stem cells or umbilical stem cells are just as good, then why not just use those, right?

doctoro: From what I've read, the greatest benefit in research would be derived from embryonic stem cells from an embryo.

doctoro: But I'll just grant for the sake of argument.

doctoro: What if the issue on embryonic stem cells was NOT a gray area?

Anonymous Theist: I don'tlike "what if's" when it comes to life

doctoro: What is life?

doctoro: Human life?

doctoro: Sounds like a silly question, "what is life", but I think it's important.

doctoro: I would argue that a ball of cells is not life.

doctoro: It has the potential for life but it is not life.

doctoro: Sperm has the potential for life, but we don't imprison people for masturbation or sperm sample donations.

doctoro: What is so special about the union of an egg and a sperm that we can simply call it life at the moment of conception?

Anonymous Theist: Right, and I understand that... but, if we use that same argument on human embryonic cells.. that, I think, would open an ugly precedence

Anonymous Theist: Where would we draw the line

doctoro: I think that's a snowball fallacy. & let me explain what I mean.

Anonymous Theist: when it's ok to kill full-grown humans for research?

doctoro: I think that's a logical error.

Anonymous Theist: A logical error, or a logic error

doctoro: There are certainly some cases in which we can argue correctly using the form "If x, then the way will be paved for y to happen"

doctoro: BUT.

doctoro: You have to show that it's a viable possibility.

Anonymous Theist: Some?

doctoro: I don't think it follows that just because we allow embryonic stem cell research we will kill adult humans for stem cells.

Anonymous Theist: Through history, everything has had some sort of precedence

doctoro: Well, let me give you an example.

Anonymous Theist: Maybe not stem cells, but who know what would follow down the line

Anonymous Theist: knows

doctoro: Say in 1865, people in the South said, "If you make slaves free, then they'll take over white folks."

doctoro: That's an invalid "snowball effect" argument.

doctoro: Just by making slaves free, it doesn't follow that they'll enslave whites.

doctoro: But furthermore, it implies a moral issue.

Anonymous Theist: That is invalid, only because the slaves were fighting for equality

doctoro: I was going to say that a southerner making that argument would also commit the error of saying that it's okay to do something immoral to prevent a problem from occurring.

Anonymous Theist: Y'know, I am enjoying this... despite making my mind a little tired

doctoro: Let's grant that blacks would somehow rise to power.

doctoro: If that happened, it still would not permit a white person to enslave a black person.

Anonymous Theist: I actually do have to go... big day tomorrow

doctoro: And so what I'm saying is, let's suppose that it is immoral to ban stem cell research, but we do so in order to prevent killing humans for stem cells.

doctoro: *good night had to make that last point.

doctoro: My point is that we can't do immoral things just to prevent snowball effects from happening.

Anonymous Theist: You have a good night too.

doctoro: But I don't even think it's likely that people will kill eachother for stem cells once we make it legal to harvest 5 day old clumps of cells.

doctoro: Seems exaggerated to me.

doctoro: good night.

doctoro: maybe we'll speak again.

Anonymous Theist: And, well, Keep searching for the answers you seek. I hope you find them, or they find you

Anonymous Theist: Laughing out loud

Anonymous Theist: And I hope we speak again too


Susan's picture
Posts: 3561
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
I think Anonymous Theist

I think Anonymous Theist isn't used to backing up his/her assertions. 

Perhaps A.T. is used to being on xian forums where everyone just agrees. 

I have to give you two credit, though.  The conversation remained civil which doesn't always happen!


Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.