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The Forum - Debate Religion > Independent...Unbiased...Impossible

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message 1: by David (new)

David In another thread Stuart said:
I examined Christianity from a totally independent point of view and came to the decision that I was wrong to be a Christian.

I have examined Atheism form a totally independent point of view and I'm here to see if I may be wrong about being an Atheist.


I don't want to jump on this and misinterpret it, so anything I say below may need to be modified if/when Stuart chimes in. But the statement did strike me simply because I think it is impossible to examine anything from a "totally independent" place.

This smacks of modernism, a philosophy that claimed we can all leave our biases behind, enter some sort of neutral place and dispassionately examine the evidence. Many Christian apologists still buy into this today. Call me postmodern, but I think it is impossible. When any of us sets out to examine religious claims we do so bringing our entire life story, our emotions, our likes and dislikes, our good experiences in church and our bad ones and so much more. In other words, we filter everything through a paradigm.

I am not saying we cannot be reasonable or rational or that we are trapped in our own language game. I am saying that if we are honest, none of us are unbiased. None of us are able, ultimately, to examine things totally independently and objectively.


message 2: by Jake (last edited Feb 11, 2015 10:56AM) (new)

Jake Yaniak | 151 comments It is seeing through a glass, darkly. There is no way to completely remove perspective from our knowledge while we are alive. To be a conscious creature is to have a perspective, and perspective by its very nature is a limit.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

"Trapped in our own language game" - I really like that phrase.

I think we all know, broadly speaking, what David and I mean by the terms "independent" and "bias" - broadly will do or we'll get bogged down in semantics.

For me, independent thought appears harder to achieve in religion than it is in, say, structural engineering.

In engineering, a column is always a column.

In religion, words can often mean just whatever you choose them to mean. A day can be a day unless you want it to mean millions of years, or Heaven can mean the dome of air above our earth unless you want it to mean a parallel universe.

I remember, when I was a kid, a pastor related a story - it was one of those allegories I love to talk about. The pastor's allegory told of this other pastor who visited a family of his parish who had been absent from church for a while. The pastor reached for the tongs a took a coal from the burning fire and placed it on the hearth (it was quite an old story) and eventually the coal extinguished, and the pastor in the allegory smiled knowing at the family, and the family knew - and the pastor in the pulpit smiled knowingly at us - and we knew too.

Some years later, I agreed once again with the allegorical pastor and the pulpit pastor, but from completely the other side of the stained glass window. You cannot possibly think independently if you're still burning for Jesus.


message 4: by Rod (new)

Rod David comment:
" None of us are able, ultimately, to examine things totally independently and objectively."

Well said, that is why we must include everyone else's questions in our search. To be a lone questioner is very difficult. Thankfully we have millions challenging Christianity. Sure makes it easy.

I often attempt to get atheists to help me question atheism: all I ever get is blank comments and sarcasm. How revealing.


message 5: by Jake (last edited Feb 11, 2015 12:19PM) (new)

Jake Yaniak | 151 comments To me it is not so much the burning for Jesus that is a problem, as the burning in general. The will has no business in discussions about the truth. One cannot think independently if they are burning against Jesus either. When I peruse atheist websites and discussion forums I find as much will as I find on any religious board, and often to the same effect. I heartily agree, however, that we religious folk have a unique talent for letting the will get in the way of thinking.

For my part I have tried to, as much as is possible, look at things dispassionately and honestly - I aspire to skepticism, but I don't believe I am quite there yet (most who claim to be skeptics are just that - merely claiming). This is one of the reasons why I am not willing to go up against 'scholarship' and claim that I know who had a belly button six-thousand years ago - except, of course, where I can ascertain that they have stepped beyond the limits of their knowledge.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Rod wrote: "David comment:
" None of us are able, ultimately, to examine things totally independently and objectively."

Well said, that is why we must include everyone else's questions in our search. To be a ..."


This Atheist is always glad to help.

But please aware, I do keep sarcasm for certain special people.


message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments That is why we make a hypothesis and then test it - to eliminate the biases inherent in the researcher.


message 8: by David (new)

David independent thought appears harder to achieve in religion than it is in, say, structural engineering

Why do we immediately compare religion to engineering? Religion and science are two different things and I think people (including many here) are so hung up because they can't separate them out. Religion is about metaphysical things, not physical things. Maybe we should compare religion to art or ethics more often.

In religion, words can often mean just whatever you choose them to mean

I don't think its that simple. If I am talking to people, for us to communicate we need to have agreed upon meanings. I can't just start using a word differently, that would be deceitful (love your neighbor, remember?) and confusing.

Obviously there is dispute about what words mean, I am not saying it is simple. But it is a caricature to say we can just make up meanings as we go.

You cannot possibly think independently if you're still burning for Jesus.

So all 1 billion Christians in the world are automatically not as independent of thinkers as the non-religious, such as yourself? I don't think you need to go far on the internet to find atheists simply regurgitating what Dawkins or Harris says. I'd say someone like say, Martin Luther King Jr or Bono (I am trying to think of other smart Christians, lol) are probably better and more independent thinkers than some kids who reject God because they are mad at their parents and upbringing.

Let me be clear - I am not saying Christians are more independent! I think you are probably right for many people. But I hate blanket statements. Plus, they are easy to reject - just find one Christian who is a more independent thinker then one atheist.

Also, it is not just Christians who are biased because of Jesus. My whole point is that we are all biased (as Jake said, burning in general). A kid who grows up in Alabama is raised a Christian and accepts it uncritically. But a kid in France raised an atheist accepts it just as uncritically. This is actually the story of Frenchman Guillaume Bignon who was an atheist until he realized he had only believed what he had been taught - http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2...

We're all taught stuff, we all live in cultures and we all accept some things unquestioningly. Not just Christians.

I often attempt to get atheists to help me question atheism: all I ever get is blank comments and sarcasm. How revealing.

Sometimes when I look at it, I wonder how anyone can be that confident either way. I mean, I can see how someone believes in God but I see how someone might not. I just hope we all, Christian and atheist and the rest, keep questioning our beliefs.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Quick note while I steal a few minutes - excellent discussion.

This Atheist is capital "A" Atheist (personal designation only) because I have considered my position. Most/lots/many others are what I designate lowercase atheists, who simply don't DO any sort of theism, never have done any sort of theism and don't want to be bothered with any sort of theism/spirituality/metaphysics etc - most of my Chinese friends are lowercase atheists/non-theists/whatever, they just don't do labels of that sort - and they do quite honestly say some very unkind things about Caucasian Christians who try to tell them there culture was not around before Noah's Ark - not from a position of bias, but because their independent assessment of this new idea placed in front of them immediately speaks of (insert you own pejorative comments here).

And they don't DO Communism either - the burning passion of their grandparents for the cause has swiftly extinguished itself. When it comes to unbiased positions, I think many young Asians are as close to the middle as you'll get.

Burning for Jesus/Mao/Hitler/Whoever is obviously bias. I simply use two examples for illustrative purposes. But I've yet to meet an engineer who burns for engineering formulae in the way an artist burns for her sculpting - again an simplification, but it's illustrative of what I'm getting at.

This Atheist does not have beliefs. I try very hard not to use that term in relation to me.


message 10: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments they do quite honestly say some very unkind things about Caucasian Christians who try to tell them there culture was not around before Noah's Ark

I'm not surprised, their history seems to say they survived Noah's flood. Which is fascinating. It answers one my other ponderings, that being why the chinese don't use an alphabet like the Indo-european languages.


message 11: by Rod (new)

Rod But Stuart:
If you choose atheism, you are now left with a universe of beliefs to apply and sort through. You don't sit in a dark room with no meaning or substance. (maybe YOU do!?)

You must question love, suffering, meaning, good & evil, equality, fairness, humanism, altruism, responsibility...


message 12: by David (new)

David Okay, I don't get the whole Noah thing and I don't care. I am going to delete any posts on that...this is my thread and I am power-tripping :)

Thanks for the clarification of A vs. a. I'll try to remember.

Burning for Jesus/Mao/Hitler/Whoever is obviously bias. I simply use two examples for illustrative purposes. But I've yet to meet an engineer who burns for engineering formulae in the way an artist burns for her sculpting - again an simplification, but it's illustrative of what I'm getting at.

I think the difference between engineering/science and Jesus/whomever is, again, the questions it answers.

How do I treat my neighbors when they let their dog poop on my lawn?

What do I do if the bank teller gives me $10 extra?

Whom do I marry? How do we work as a married couple?

Do I take this job or that job? Do I cheat to get ahead in my job?

And so on...

I was in a conversation once and a Christian friend shared his religious experience where he vividly felt God (or something along those lines). An atheist friend argued that this was just synapses firing in his brain, that it could all be explained biologically. That, I argued, was pure reductionism. Even if the Christian was hooked to a machine and we mapped his brain during a religious experience such mapping would not fully explain it.

Grammar does not fully explain Dostoyevsky.

Chemistry does not fully explain a good cup of coffee or wine or beer (pick what you like).

So even if science can help answer the above questions, it is not the end all be all. Stuart, I am not meaning to imply anything on you...my mind and typing just kind of ran away with me.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Let me also type as I think and please pardon the grammar and punctuation mistakes as we go:

Grammar you would need to understand our Russian friend - but even the best grasp of grammar - Russian or otherwise doesn't mean you would. Lot more to it than that - I think.

Synapses you would need to have a religious experience (I'm just making this up as I go) - but even the best grasp of how synapses work doesn't mean you would understand religious experiences. (I think that's a reasonable comparison - but simple).

To say that a religious experience can be fully explained biologically is to miss the point that we Homo sapiens evolved (sorry about that) to develop abstract thinking - art, planning how we are going to get away with shooting the neighbours dog and disposing of the body and explaining away any questions that may come our way, our own death, religious experiences, and things of the imagination. The primates from which we evolved (you know) have limited senses of some of these - planning ahead, social propriety, consciousness of self. I doubt they could demonstrate a preference for Sibelius over Bach, but they could, I suspect, let you which brand of coffee they prefer. I doubt they could imagine the Divine - I suspect that took another day or two of evolutionary development. And I doubt they imagine they have a soul, because their brains have not evolved enough to have that imaginative capacity. They may be conscious of self - but not that conscious.

I think "religious" experiences can be simulated biologically (let's exercise our evolved minds and imagine they can) - we've donned the God Helmet and the usual synapses start firing: "There," declares Professor Plum. "You've just had a religious experience." Sure, the victim may have felt all warm and fuzzy, but was the Buddha there? was Jesus there? would a Chinese non-theist who's never had a "religious" experience in their life have had the same warm and fuzzy feeling? If so, was that a religious experience, or just an induced warm, fuzzy feeling? Religious experiences give you a warm fuzzy feeling, but you have to use your evolved brain to imagine your fave deity was behind it. You have to learn religion to have a warm fuzzy religious experience.

Whether or not everyone's favourite concept of the Divine is actually behind their religious experiences - or whether our mind is conditioned to assent to the proposition that the deity is there - is another question.

That may have made sense. It will do.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Had a bit of a thought at work.

Let's give the independent, unbiased thing a try. I'm of the opinion that it can be done. We have a topic:

"Jesus is my Lord and Saviour."

This is something I once believed in most fervently; now I don't. My contention is that sometime in my dim and distant past I sat down and drew up a list of the facts and reasons and beliefs and anythings I had from anyone and anywhere to support the belief, and set them out in a grid.

I then set out everything I could find - whether I liked it or not - into another grid that challenged my belief.

I set up another grid with other material that was related but neither supported nor challenged my belief.

My challenge was to challenge everything I could in all the grids without bias. I like to think I largely succeeded. The decision I made does not mean I now have a bias against my former belief - I offer I can still approach the topic independently. Before I undertook my challenge, I did think and act with bias. If I can repeat the same process honestly and still arrive at the same decision, it may well be the right one.

A challenge when you do have a bias, is overcoming the reluctance to accept a conclusion you don't WANT to arrive at before you start - this doesn't just apply to religion of course. An even bigger challenge is what to do when you do arrive at a conclusion you don't want to arrive at. If you're convinced before you start that you cannot possibly arrive at such a conclusion, you've failed the test before you've begun.

We could never, I suggest, have the same success in an eisteddfod or a flower arranging contest or even coffee preference - and certainly not when choosing to use column A or column F to support weight X, but I suggest that it is possible in religion.

If we are scrupulously intellectually honest, I think it is possible to remove our bias from an assessment of our, or someone else's, religious beliefs - as long as the beliefs are clearly set out (which is another whole challenge in itself).

What I propose is that those of us here who dare, set out a list of dot points only (I promise to perhaps not ramble maybe overly much) dot points only and with a minimum of adjectives, and without omitting the bits we don't like, or not looking too hard for them in the first place. Playing both advocate for God and Satan in the same text box - we should only use one, and we should not make our text box a critique of others.

It's all a challenge - but it could be rewarding. I may even reclaim my mansion in Heaven (not the dome above the Earth, the other one).

We refrain from comment or interjection until the entries are in, and then we discuss the success or lack thereof - but we limit participation in the discussion to those who have contributed. David has the razor! Nor do we pre-judge anyone prior to their entry. We might get some surprises.

If I were a betting man, I'd say there were a few here who can undertake it successfully.

"I just hope we all, Christian and atheist and the rest, keep questioning our beliefs." Quite agree, and I expect it can be done independently and without bias.

OK - "Jesus is my Lord and Saviour".

I guarantee it's best if I don't go first - it's not myself I'm pre-judging here :)


message 15: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments Just before I attempt what you are asking (not sure I completely understand) is it permitted in this game of intellectualism to reference miracles, visions and dreams.

You see Paul said the gospel doesn't make sense to the natural intellect and I tend to agree. So I'm not sure how much I have to offer here. It's like you are asking me to explain the design of a porsche to someone from the eighteenth century

"it's like a carriage without a horse"

"how does it work?"

"it has an engine that pushes it"

"wouldn't it be better if it the engine pulled it? I imagine it would be awfully hard to steer."

"no the engine is inside the carraige"

"what!? isn't that a little dangerous?"

"not at all, there is a wall between it and the passengers."

"right.. so.. what is this engine?"

"well it's made of metal, and it spins from small explosions inside it."

"uh huh. and that's not dangerous.. I thought you said it pushed, now it's spinning..."

haha, that's what it's like trying to explain spiritual things to someone who has no experience with the spiritual realm. I'm not trying to be problematic, we can do the exercise. I'm just saying is this a spiritual conversation or are we going to try and make a judgement on truth based on our very limited natural mind only.

Jesus is my Lord and Saviour

has he changed me, yes
have I seen Him, yes
have I had visions of things that rocked me to the core, yes
have I had knowledge of events months and years before they happened, yes
do I have this unexplainable obsession with him, yes
have I seen him heal, yes
did he change the world, yes
is he the finest example of love the world has ever seen, yes
is the whole world obsessed with his character, yes
does He makes sense to me, not really.


message 16: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments For starters, you can't run any kind of intellectual game strictly within the Arts. Science must be included and, from my perspective, should probably dominate the proceedings. Joshua, of course miracles, visions, and dreams are permissible - how else would our Lord "put things on our mind"? Only the ancient prophets and modern schizophrenics hear voices telling them God's will - the rest of us are moved in subtler fashion.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Joshua wrote: "Just before I attempt what you are asking (not sure I completely understand) is it permitted in this game of intellectualism to reference miracles, visions and dreams.

You see Paul said the gospel..."


Thank you Joshua for participating - your own very special contribution is even better than I could have hoped for, and provides a superb illumination of David's original question.

However, as I say, we should withhold comment on submissions until all the submissions are in (likely to get messy otherwise).

No restriction on submissions of art, science, whatever - just dots points with minimal adjectives For, Against and Related to: "Jesus is my Lord and Saviour" - (with or without the Anglo-English "u").

As Joshua has so swiftly and ably done.

Robert ...?


message 18: by David (new)

David When I speak of bias, I do not just mean personal bias. I mean, we are all shaped in ways we do not even realize. I assume, and correct me if I am wrong, that most of us live in places of comfort and freedom. We have the ability to get education, we have some degree of freedom to read and learn. We live in cultures that welcome diversity of belief. All of these things shape us. I suspect that if Stuart or I grew up in Saudi Arabia, we'd be Muslims. Or, if we grew up in medieval Germany, we'd be Catholics. But we live in places where we have options, where doubt and questioning are welcomed.

This is why I am unsure of the game Stuart wants to play. Say we sit here on our computers and dialogue and decide we'll all reject God. We go to our jobs, earn our salaries, buy food at grocery stores. Is our unbelief worth more then the belief of the typical (statistically speaking) Christian in the world who is dirt poor? I think of a woman in Africa somewhere, with starving children praying to God each day for her daily bread. I can reject God because my fridge is full, she is in touch with how desperately God is needed.

Is her faith to be scoffed at because she did not independently investigate it? Is our faith better if we do investigate it and still have it?


message 19: by David (new)

David As for Stuart's question:"Jesus is my Lord and Savior"

Just to deconstruct it a little, each person who answers is the "my". So when Stuart talks it is "Jesus is Stuart's Lord and Savior" but for Josh it is "Jesus is Josh's Lord and Savior." In that light, I don't see how it could possibly be refuted.

Imagine a guy who struggles with greed and selfishness. All that matters is him. He reads the gospels, is struck by Jesus, and decides to change his life. Now he is generous and kind to all around him. He says "Jesus is My Lord and Savior." Objectively, that is the case.

This says nothing about whether Jesus is a real person. You could read To Kill a Mockingbird (sequel this summer!) and be so moved by Atticus that you change your life. Maybe you decide you like the teachings of Yoda! If living by Jesus' teachings, recognizing that being his disciple saved me from a greedy (self-destructive) life, how can that be wrong?


message 20: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Amen, David. How arrogant the West is, and how we love to gorge ourselves on what we deem to be "intellectual progress" as if we are making strides somehow.


message 21: by Jake (new)

Jake Yaniak | 151 comments I should add as far as perspective goes, that like it or not we are limited. David Hume had a thought experiment where he suggested that you imagine a box, then imagine that God destroyed the space inside the box. Wouldn't that mean that the inner walls of the box touch? There is much that yet baffles science (dark energy, is space a void? How then can you pass through 'it' - what are you passing?), and I would not argue that this is where God dwells (I am not making a God of the gaps argument - I am just saying that there is no guarantee that all the gaps will disappear, or that there are not gaps we cannot even see because of our spacio-temporal limitations - higher dimensions for instance). There is no promise or prophecy that we will learn all things, or that we could ever surpass the limits of our frame to know things uncolored by our experience.
We have five senses, none of which alone are sufficient to fully comprehend even the slightest thing. What has the smell of a rose to do with its color? Had I but four senses (lacking touch), how could I know that a rose's thorns hurt? If sight gives me no knowledge of a rose's scent, hearing no knowledge of it's color, taste no knowledge of its texture, touch no knowledge of its flavor, why should I think that the five together should exhaust the rose? There could be a hundred things I don't know - an infinitude of qualities that I cannot even comprehend or imagine - because my senses are limited to five.
To think that we can transcend the limits of perspective, when we have such tiny windows through which to see the world, and when each of them leave us utterly ignorant of what the others reveal, is to me ridiculous.
Man and his science can do amazing things, for an ape. He can stack things on columns. But he cannot even really know them. If I cannot see beyond the nearest hill, and I cannot see the thoughts of my neighbor, if I cannot travel back in time to observe all history, how can ever pretend that I am not bound hand and foot to a point of view.
Let us make an attempt at objectivity, but not kid ourselves. I can study physics for a hundred years, but then God could talk to a shepherd. And there is nothing I can do about it.

At any rate, here is my take on the 'Jesus is my lord and Savior' question:

And please forgive the messiness of it - it was created somewhat in haste during times when I really should have been doing something else.

The facts:

Things men say about Jesus

- Jesus was the Son of God

- Jesus was the prophesied Messiah of the Jewish religion

- Jesus rose from the dead

- Jesus performed miracles

- Jesus ascended into heaven

- Jesus sent his Spirit to teach the church

- And of course, men say the opposites of all these

Gosh, I could go on and on with the things people SAY about Jesus!

Barbara Thiering, for instance, says he divorced Mary Magdalene...

The relationship Paul had with Peter his disciple and James his brother, however, and the tradition that has come to us from the early church agrees well with what Tacitus wrote (and from reading his annals and histories I do not think, as Christ-mythers suggest, that Tacitus was simply taking Christian dogma by rote when he wrote about Jesus); that Jesus was a religious teacher who lived in Israel in the first century A.D. - and that he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.

- Howbeit, I could be wrong. He could be an invention despite.

- I have no reason to think he was an utter fiction. None.

- Some say the gospels are perfect.

- Some say they are myths, filled with miracles and prophecies after the fact.

- Paul, however, taught the resurrection rather early, from what I can tell. Perhaps the miracles were always there.

- They say, miracles are impossible.

- What is possible is determined by what happens, not by my expectations. He may have performed miracles despite. As Wittgenstein said, that the sun will rise tomorrow is a hypothesis.

- They say he rose from the dead.

- They say he didn't.

- The early record says he did.

- It is overthrown by probability.

- Probability determines expectation, however; not history.

- Probability only applies to him so long as he belongs to the data set - which is that of other 'ordinary men.'

- If he is the Son of God and Messiah, chosen by God to save the world as the church teaches, then the probability tips to the other side, making it statistically and physically impossible for him to remain in the grave.

- Assumptions about Jesus not only influence, but rather determine the outcome of the reasoning - either way. Assume he is a mere man, and probability destroys the miraculous. Assume he is God's Son, the miraculous loses all improbability.

- Did he do miracles? The question should rather be, was he God's Son and Messiah, or just another ordinary man?

- Empirically speaking, I cannot know - I speak not of opinion, tendency or leaning. I speak of knowledge properly so called, where there is an actual agreement between a thing and its idea - not merely the suspicion thereof.

- I cannot know the historical Jesus. When all paths are circular, you must give up on the journey.

- I can know the Jesus that is presented to me - that is, the best understanding of him given my limitations. THIS, at least, is data I possess.

- A Jesus I cannot know, does not belong to a category. It is an ignorance to speculate about a Jesus sans the testimony by which we know of him - to speculate about him as a ding-an-sich so to speak.

So is he my lord and savior?

What is a savior? Someone who saves you from sin/hell.

- Sin is to rebel against God.

- God is Truth. That is my definition and understanding of God - period.

- Perhaps there is no truth.

- Then the discussion ends - both ways.

- Perhaps God doesn't exist.

- Then Existence doesn't exist, since he is truth, and is existence is truth (nonexistence is untruth, which is nothing).

- Sin is to rebel against the God - to rebel against the truth.

- I find that by nature I and my fellow human beings will what is contrary to truth, and strive to make true what is not, will not, and cannot be truth.

- I find no evidence to the contrary - that is, all men I have encountered partake in this sin - this rebellion against truth - against God.

- The Jesus that is presented to me - the man who lived in Israel, suffered under Pontius Pilate - and about whom it is said by some that he rose from the dead - did not do this (again, I do not 'know' that there is such a place as Israel, but I know what is presented to me). When faced with the terrors God had in store for him (the terrors the truth had in store for him - the world, existence etc. had in store for him), he suffered them patiently, accepting them as the good and just will of God - as all things are.

- In doing so, he did NOT sin - he did not rebel against the truth, and so he was right with or righteous before God.

- Perhaps he cursed once.

- He would not be blameless; he would be an unfit sacrifice.

- But that is ignorance again, a historico-imaginary chimera about which I know and can know nothing.

- Hell is separation; one cannot be separate from, but only ignorant of truth.

- Ignorance of truth is the opposite of belief in truth, which is faith.

- What is not of faith is sin.

- Jesus, such as I have explained, brings me to a place where my rebellion ceases. He brings me to acknowledge, accept and submit to God, rather than despair at the truth for the sake of my own will - however terrible it is, he shows me how to love God (to abandon rebellion against the truth - to cease the despair at not having my own will). He is, therefore, my savior. He redeems me from my sin, giving me sight where I was blind and faith where I had sin. Insofar also as his direction leads me further away from sin and toward faith (which, being opposed to sin which is hell and death, is heaven and life) he is my lord, his life and teachings order my path (at least, insofar as I am able to be a good servant)

- I find, then, ironically, that I had too much will - too much burning - muddling my reason until I was submitted to Christ's ways, which direct me to love the truth above all else.

- Jesus is my lord and savior.

- It is not his resurrection or his miracles that make him such - they are signs - they are just clues; hints if one can receive them, stumbling blocks if one must be willful and dogmatic.

- In fact, the outright rejection of the miraculous - the extension of belief beyond what the evidence permits - is precisely the mark of a false skeptic - one who, by will alone, extends their claims beyond experience and beyond reason. When doubt remains, to make a decision is to exercise the will - either way. That is what I aspire to avoid.

- I therefore restrict my claims and my understanding to what can be known - and that restricts me to certain philosophical certainties - but certainties that seem to me to take on flesh, so to speak, in Jesus.

- For my own part, some ten years ago I set out to write a book proving God's existence and using morality to demonstrate the necessity of God. I ended up writing a book overthrowing the arguments for God's existence and using the necessity of God to demonstrate the falsity of morality. It was the very opposite of what I set out to do. I would like to think that makes me objective and independent - but I think it just says something about the path I've taken and the influences that God has brought into my life (if there is any truth in me it is grace, in other words). I came to many conclusions that I hated before; but then again, there is so much that we want and will that we are not even aware of.


message 22: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments they are signs - they are just clues; hints if one can receive them, stumbling blocks if one must be willful and dogmatic.

well said. There is great wisdom in God's ways.


message 23: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Jake. brilliant substantive and thoughtful rebuttal and response. Excellent use of 'howbeit' also!


message 24: by Peter (new)

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 189 comments Stuart wrote: "Quick note while I steal a few minutes - excellent discussion.

This Atheist is capital "A" Atheist (personal designation only) because I have considered my position. Most/lots/many others are what..."


Stuart you stated in an earlier post:

This Atheist does not have beliefs. I try very hard not to use that term in relation to me.

I am interested how you define "belief." Is it different from convictions? If you don't have beliefs, what do you have?


message 25: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments I think from my perspective as an agnostic, this word "believe" has disturbing connotations. Belief picks up where evidence ends. Christians are taught to believe, as if believing is some kind of virtue instead of a hindrance to further study.

I don't think Stuart classifies himself as a hard atheist, the kind who believes we have no intelligent creator. I might be wrong about that, but such a belief to me seems just as illogical as believing we do. I think the evidence weighs on the side of a creator, but I find myself unable to "just believe".


message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 189 comments Lee wrote: "I think from my perspective as an agnostic, this word "believe" has disturbing connotations. Belief picks up where evidence ends. Christians are taught to believe, as if believing is some kind of v..."

Lee, thanks for chiming in. I asked Stuart about the definition of "belief" because I thought my definition was likely different and if we continued the discussion we would simply be talking past each other.

My own definition of "belief" is "assertions about the nature of reality." "Convictions" on the other hand are beliefs that have been substantiated in a more significant way.

So, by my definition, everyone has beliefs. For everyone, given that we have a finite amount of time, some beliefs are more thoroughly thought out and substantiated by data and experience than others and so rise to convictions.

I know you said it was a connotation, but using the word belief in the sense of "belief picks up where the evidence leaves off," to me is begging the question. Are you not defining the "other guys," the religious people in the discussion as going beyond the evidence before that has even come out in the discussion? Is it reasonable to apply that to all of us before we demonstrate it?


message 27: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Peter wrote: " Is it reasonable to apply that to all of us before we demonstrate it? "

Yes, it most certainly is. I am aware that 90% of the things we say on this board should carry an addendum of "I think." My statements too..."I think" Jesus felt a non-militant humanitarian mission was the best way to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth.

I simply have grown to dislike the word "believe" because folks consider it somehow a godly virtue. Robert, for example, considers me rudderless because I refuse to simply take a stance and say "I believe" one side of the other.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Lazy response here, but a fun one. I'm going to post the draft of a script I'm writing for a series of talking head (mine) YouTube videos for my channel to be released soon - only have one there at the moment - this video addresses "belief".

Hosanna Sinners, Stuart Lorde here in Hades Central welcoming you to the moral compass of another Sermonette on the Stool. “I believe in God” is something we do still hear quite a few people say these days. Not me of course – I don’t have beliefs or gods, so today I’d like to share with you what the word “belief” means to the Christian Church of the Roman Empire – or Catholics. In the Catholic Encyclopaedia they have a definition – or rather they call it a quasi-definition – because their eminent holinesses don’t seem to really know, and like many things in the world of faith and obedience, their quasi-definition is really rather fluffy, and surrounded by all manner of severe-sounding words that can mean …
PIC: Just whatever you choose them to mean –
I guess they’re not in as close communication with their deity as we may have been led to … believe. The Roman Catholic quasi – and possibly infallible – definition of belief states, and I shall quote, verbatim,
PIC: From the Catholic Encyclopaedia
Fortunately, it’s English and not Latin: Belief “That state of the mind by which it assents to propositions, not by reason of their intrinsic evidence, but because of authority”.
There we have it, Sinners: no evidence required when it comes to believing … just authority. It helps if you adopt a very severe tone when you’re dealing with matters such as this – adds gravitas to the smoke you’re blowing up people’s backsides. (Flip)
Let us hear that quasi-definition again – I just love how they shoot themselves in the foot – or feet – or, you know, whichever, ahem … That state of the mind – a mental condition - by which it assents to propositions – agrees with whatever
PIC: the man in the impressive robes and pointy hat holding the magic wand
Is telling your mind which propositions your mind should be assenting to. When your heart – or your mind really, because your heart is just a blood pump –
PIC: When your heart belongs to Jesus
You assent to the priestly propositions – not by reason of their intrinsic evidence – that’s worth hearing again – not by reason of their intrinsic evidence – evidence and religion don’t really get along too well, do they? Not words that seem to belong in the same sentence, so to speak – but because of authority – there’s the crux of the matter, Sinners – but because of authority – guess whose authority that would be …. (Flip)
Can you imagine, Sinners, join with me here, can you imagine, if you were to develop a new medication that would improve and extend human life, and you took it along to the Medication Approval Board, and you asked them to put themselves into a state of the mind that assented to your proposition that your medication would improve and extend human life, not because you had any evidence – intrinsic or otherwise, but because of authority. Christians, Christians are offering not just to improve human life, Sinners,
PIC: They are offering the path to eternal life
They, and their authority, will guide you to immortality. But they are not offering the Medication Approval Board, or even the Prevention of Delusion Board a jot or a tittle of evidence, you just have to believe in the angels and virgins and talking donkeys and universe-creating, death-defeating god-men, because they, and the people who wrote the biblical promotional propaganda in the first place, are authoritatively telling your mind that it’s all God’s own truth. And by the way, when you do give your heart to Jesus, a 10% tithe of your weekly income is biblically recommended –
PIC: And may even be mandatory –
To help keep the authority and the belief in business, and perhaps just to make sure Jesus doesn’t revoke your ticket to heaven, and give your mansion to someone else. And even if you do become immortal through belief, none of your gifts of love to the servants of Christ is covered by your health insurance scheme. (Flip)
You know, when I hear a scientist say “I believe in evolution” I just scream and fall on the floor as though possessed by one of my Lord Satan’s demons. Here in Hades Central we love you guys to bits, but the word “believe” belongs to them – please let them keep it all for themselves. Fortunately we have – through the authority of Diabolical Revelation – prepared a new word for you, a neologism if you will: our mot juste is “accond” –
PIC: a portmanteau of “accept” and “conditional”.
When one acconds to a proposition, one accepts it conditionally – the noun is accondance. One acconds to the big bang theory; one believes that the universe was created by Jesus.
That’s all from me for now. Hosanna until next time, Sinners.


message 29: by Peter (last edited May 26, 2015 10:25AM) (new)

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 189 comments Stuart wrote: "Lazy response here, but a fun one. I'm going to post the draft of a script I'm writing for a series of talking head (mine) YouTube videos for my channel to be released soon - only have one there at..."

Stuart back in February when I read your monologue in which you quote Catholic Encyclopedia

Belief “That state of the mind by which it assents to propositions, not by reason of their intrinsic evidence, but because of authority”

And then you go on to provide your own interpretation:

There we have it, Sinners: no evidence required when it comes to believing … just authority. It helps if you adopt a very severe tone when you’re dealing with matters such as this – adds gravitas to the smoke you’re blowing up people’s backsides.

Now I'm not a Catholic, but I have read many books by Catholics and frankly your definition did not ring true. I was wondering if you were giving us the whole story.

Peter Kreeft, a Catholic philosophy professor at Boston College who I respect very much, had a whole chapter on faith and belief in his book Christian Apologetics. I found his description much more comprehensive and for me sheds light on the Catholic Encyclopedia definition.

Kreeft pointed out there are three types of questions one can ask:

(1) Questions that can be answered by data and reason alone.
(2) Questions for which data and reason can give you a partial, incomplete answer, but someone who knows has to give the complete answer and one has to take their word for it.
(3) Questions where data and reason provide no help at all (the questions are too fundamental and axiomatic)and one has to ask someone who knows and take their word for it.

Now to me the most important questions (because they relate to meaning and purpose) are type 2 and 3 questions.

"Does God exist" to me is a type 2 question since one can argue for his existence based on philosophy, but I think most would agree the philosophical arguments (Kreeft lists 20) are not compelling for everyone and so one looks for revelation (God telling us) and then one decides if one should believe the revelation.

"What is God like? Does he really love us?" is a type 3 question since if God were evil or mean-spirited he's simply powerful enough to fool me all of the time. Again only God can reveal Himself to me and I have to decide if I can trust Him.

However, none of these approaches involve blind faith (the favorite definition of faith by atheists in my experience). For questions of type 1, I trust the data and my own reason. For types 2 and 3, I trust people or God (but not blindly). I check to see if their character makes them worthy to be trusted.

It seems to me Stuart, you want to cram everything into type 1 questions as Materialists tend to do. However, the very fact that we can ask type 2 and type 3 questions is one reason I disbelieve Materialism. Materialism simply has no answer for the most important questions. If there is no answer, and we're nothing but quarks and leptons, why do we ask these questions and so earnestly desire and answer?

In summary, I think the Catholic Encyclopedia was defining belief for type 3 questions (from the context). Authority does not mean power, but rather identifying a reliable person who is knowledgeable about the question and has a character of trustworthiness.

I think in your monologue, you misunderstood (or oversimplified) the Catholic position and instead set up a straw man argument (by defining the position as irrational blind faith). To me the reality of the Catholic position is much more robust and well thought out than the way you presented it.

I am a Christian because I trust God for answers and found Him to be reliable through experience. My faith has allowed me to answer type 1 questions just as well as Materialists do, but I also have answers that work for type 2 and 3 questions. From my academic background, students who don't answer questions get zero and I have to grade Materialists the same way when they explain to me why type 2 and 3 questions are meaningless.


message 30: by Rod (new)

Rod We should all enjoy the Peter Kreeft. Except when he sells Catholic Dogma.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

To believe that the universe was created by Jesus, or that Jesus was sired by the mythological Jewish deity Yahweh, you need to put yourself into:

“That state of the mind by which it assents to propositions, not by reason of their intrinsic evidence, but because of authority”


message 32: by David (new)

David Stuart, I am not convinced you, or anyone else, has a mind. I mean, I know I think and have dreams and ideas and all that. But can you provide me independent verifiable evidence that other people have minds?

I am also not convinced we are not all minds in a vat, like in the matrix. Maybe there is no physical world and this is all an illusion. Can you provide me independent verifiable evidence that there actually is a physical world we engage with?


message 33: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble David wrote: "Stuart, I am not convinced you, or anyone else, has a mind. I mean, I know I think and have dreams and ideas and all that. But can you provide me independent verifiable evidence that other people..."

We could drop a brick on your foot. I predict that engagement with the physical world will hurt ...

Sorry. Could not resist.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

David wrote: "Stuart, I am not convinced you, or anyone else, has a mind. I mean, I know I think and have dreams and ideas and all that. But can you provide me independent verifiable evidence that other people..."

This is just another deflection and attempted diversion away from an honest admission that neither you nor anyone else has the slightest shred of independently verifiable evidence for either Human Jesus or Magic Jesus.

It's belief.

Jesus - as I said to my old pal Joshua - may very well have been a fictional character in Jewish propaganda. In much the same way as writers will have fictional characters and places and events set amongst independently verifiable places and characters like Herod and Pilate and Bethlehem and the census of Quirinius in historical novels.

We can't independently verify Jesus - so it's reasonable to speculate (without offering it as "belief") that Jesus may have been a fictional character for propaganda or entertainment or some other purpose.

If we could confirm Jesus in the same ways as we can the Herods, Pilate and Quirinius, we may then be in a better position to determine whether or not Jesus was sired by the mythological Jewish deity Yahweh on a Jewish virgin, and whether or Jesus created the universe and everything in it.

And I think we all honestly recognise that we are dealing with make-believe here.

Some of us just don't admit it ... yet.


message 35: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments haha,

my son likes to play computer games. When he is playing is mind is very immersed in the environment. I have seen the player on the screen take a hit and my son say "ouch".

In the world of drama there is a thing called "suspension of disbelief". If the environment is engaging enough we embrace it as a temporary reality.

God created this world from nothing through the manifestation of His great power. It's no surprise to me that a brick is made of energy. Einstein believed in God.


message 36: by Joshua (last edited May 26, 2015 08:55PM) (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments We can't independently verify Jesus - so it's reasonable to speculate (without offering it as "belief") that Jesus may have been a fictional character

The existence of Jesus was documented by ancient historians, Josephus etc, as was the existence of Julius Caesar. The only difference is that Jesus was a miracle worker.

If Jesus didn't work miracles no-one would question his existence. There are more manuscripts bearing his name than any other figure in ancient history.


message 37: by Joshua (last edited May 26, 2015 08:58PM) (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments What's more he is the only figure in history, I know of, that has the capacity to evoke a strong emotional response in people who don't even believe in Him.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Josephus was born after Jesus visited the proto-Mormons in the Americas and ascended back to Heaven until he returns to judge the Earth with fire (instead of water) this time.

The best Josephus would have been able to do is relate what Christian Jews (rather than Pharisaic or Sudducean or Essene or other Jewish factions) were saying about their possibly fictional leader, Jesus.

And no one even tries to pretend they can prove the possibly historical Jesus was sired by Yahweh.

Try this: http://freethoughtnation.com/josephus...

And: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus...

This is worth a look too - and I copied a reply given:

http://www.catholic.com/blog/jon-sore...


1 Jeff Billeter - Chatham, NJ, New Jersey

I've always thought both conservative and liberal sides treated this passage as more than it necessarily needs to be. Josephus seems to me, along with other ancient historians, to treat the stories that people tell as just as important to understanding a people and their history as the raw facts (dates/events, etc). In his Jewish history, I think he shows this numerous times in not just relating what we would today confirm as fact but also in relating the stories and "spin" surrounding the fact so that the reader can understand the Jews as a people.

So in this passage, I've always thought that Josephus is doing the same thing for the Christians. It's not as if he's saying, "Hey, I went and researched this and I can confirm that this person Jesus was the Messiah." Rather, I think he's saying, "I went and researched this and I can confirm that this is the story the Christians tell. This is what you need to know to understand them."

Also, I don't recall off the top of my head but weren't there other early historians such as Sozomen or Socrates that referenced this passage? Perhaps they followed Eusebius but I thought the opposite. Maybe someone else can support that statement or show my recollection is wrong. Thanks.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Peace,
Jeff

March 6, 2014 at 7:49 am PST


message 39: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments But that is not what Josephus wrote.

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3

The question is not of his existence. Josephus is one of the most respected historians of the era. The existence of Jesus Christ is plainly recorded in history in numerous places. His claim to be the Christ is clear and He has impacted the world more than any other man. To this day people all over the world testify of Him and the miracles done in his name.

We know what his followers taught. They commanded men to turn away from sin and be reconciled to God.

You can accept it or reject it, but don't try to rewrite history to suit your own agenda.


message 40: by David (new)

David This is just another deflection and attempted diversion

I had to re-read the thread since it was a bit old, but this thread from post 1 has never been about Jesus' existence or resurrection or Godhood (or lackthereof). It has been about the faulty logic in your demanding for such evidence. In other words, your refusal to answer the question is itself a deflection and diversion.

You're like a guy who argues that a vegetarian diet is the most healthy. You demand proof to show you otherwise. Then you are caught eating a juicy cheeseburger. When we point out that you do not live by your own beliefs, you say we are creating a diversion.

There are two lines of argument:
1. We can argue whether a vegetarian diet is best
2. We can argue whether you are a reliable person to tell us that, based on your hypocrisy

In the same way:
1. We can argue whether religion/Christianity meets your demands
2. We can argue whether you live consistently based on your demands

We've had plenty of threads about #1. I created this thread, and Peter resurrected it, along the lines of number 2.

And my point is, in my questions which you cannot answer, that there are many things we all take for granted without the sort of evidence you demand. You can drop a brick on my foot and the pain proves nothing other then that those machines or monsters or gods or brilliant scientists who put us all in the vat did a fantastic job. You cannot prove via evidence that there actually is a physical world. We take it on, for lack of a better term, faith.

And you cannot prove to me you have a mind like mine that imagines and hopes and dreams. You could show some stuff lighting up in a lab if we hooked our brains up, but whether whatever I am imagining now is really being imagined cannot be proved.

I take it on faith that other people experience the world, have a mind.

None of this proves anything in regards to religion. It merely proves you do not live consistently by your own beliefs.

BTW, in post 19 I did answer your question about how someone could objectively say Jesus is "my" Lord and Savior. If someone was a horrible person and had an experience of Jesus that turned their life around, they could claim Jesus is their Lord and Savior and the evidence (a changed life) shows it. This doesn't prove Jesus is real. As I said in that post, someone could claim "Yoda is my Lord and Savior" and it just might work for them.


message 41: by Peter (last edited May 27, 2015 08:37AM) (new)

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 189 comments Steve wrote: "David wrote: "Stuart, I am not convinced you, or anyone else, has a mind. I mean, I know I think and have dreams and ideas and all that. But can you provide me independent verifiable evidence th..."

Stuart, I don't think David's point is a deflection or a diversion at all, but rather the central contention. If one goes deeply enough on any question one always reaches a point where one can't find (or even expect) independent verifiable evidence. It seems to me any system one envisions rests on a whole series of unverifiable assumptions and the best one can do is look for coherence (self-consistency) and correspondence to what we perceive to be reality (as Ravi Zacharias would say). To ignore this troublesome point, to me suggests one is simply unaware of the assumptions and presuppositions one is bringing to the table.


message 42: by Steve (last edited May 27, 2015 09:20AM) (new)

Steve Goble Going back to the original post, I agree. There is no totally independent, unbiased viewpoint. And we do all have to make some assumptions in order to get along in the world. I can't technically prove other people in the universe have minds or even exist, but experience teaches me my own life will be dramatically honked up if I assume they don't. I can't technically prove we live in a physical existence, but experience teaches me that if I drop a brick on my foot, it's going to hurt.

So, yes, there are no totally unbiased viewpoints, and ultimate proof of anything is elusive. But do we just throw up our hands and give up trying to figure out the mysteries of our existence, and discussing those things with one another? No, because we are human and thus curious and can't help but to try to figure stuff out, and our individual and collective approaches to solving the puzzle have consequences for us and for others (consequences we will perceive and feel as real, even if we are all brains in a vat ...)

So, we muddle on, try to get along, try to strive for a world where we can all interface with reality without being dicks to one another. And we often will fail at that, being human.

So, now I need to meditate ...


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

If one goes deeply enough on any question one always reaches a point where one can't find (or even expect) independent verifiable evidence

Have to disagree.

Ned - before he vanished in that puff of angel dust - independently verified that there were such people as the biblical Hittites.

What Ned didn't address was Magic Jesus.

I see the above statement (and many, many more like it)as delusory justification to continue a belief in Magic Jesus, and avoid addressing the specific details of specific claims made regarding Magic Jesus in a simple and straightforward way.

It's not hard to do.

And I think we all know why it's not done.

Independent, unbiased assessments of claims made regarding Magic Buddha, Magic Jesus, Magic Moses, Magic Mohammed, or Magic Whomever, can, in my view - and in the views of Chinese friends who have had nothing to do with beliefs in any of them - be made.

Claims that independent, unbiased assessments are impossible, I see as more of the delusions and smokescreens to keep believing Magic Whomever.

To me it's really quite simple and straightforward.

Begin with "In the Beginning Jesus as God created the heaven and the earth", and make a list of all the magic things attributed to Jesus/God/Yahweh and try and independently verify a single one of them.

And then ask yourself if an independent, unbiased assessment could be made of the magic claims.

Then ask yourself why you would say such an assessment could or could not be made.

I say that I can make such an assessment, because I recognise the potential for bias, and examine the claims without bias.

It's quite easy to make an unbiased assessment of the claim that a star scurried around the Middle East sky to guide people to the birthplace of a baby god-man, for example.

If I found evidence that Jesus created the universe and everything in it, I would be honest enough to acknowledge the evidence.

I am not starting out with the "belief" that Jesus did not create the universe and everything in it (or any other things to do with Magic Jesus) and am thereby obliged to do nothing other than prove it or dodge the issue.

It's my examination of the total absence of evidence for Magic Jesus that leads me to accept conditionally (accond to) the proposition that Magic Jesus is make-believe and delusion - it's not that I started out "believing" in that proposition.

When I was a child, I "believed" in Magic Jesus.

Many years I later examined the claims for Magic Jesus in an independent and unbiased manner.

Today I accond to the proposition that I was brainwashed as a child.


message 44: by David (new)

David The problem is Stuart, that you have demonstrated no understanding of different types of truth claims. We have no independent evidence that the physical world really exists as we experience it, but we intuit that it does.

Or, to go more to your point - we could provide the sort of evidence you want that Jesus existed and was crucified. Claims of history can meet your demand. But claims of what those things mean cannot for they are a whole different category.

This is why I said you have a belief system whether you admit it or not. We all have a reason why we wake up in the morning, we believe the universe came from somewhere and is going somewhere, we spend time in this forum. Whatever meaning, or lackthereof, the universe has cannot be independently verified.

Or, what Jesus' death mean cannot be discovered in a lab.


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

David wrote: "The problem is Stuart, that you have demonstrated no understanding of different types of truth claims. We have no independent evidence that the physical world really exists as we experience it, bu..."

You avoided addressing a single Magic Jesus issue.


message 46: by David (new)

David So? You have avoided providing even a modicum of support for your entire line of questioning. This thread has been, from post 1 and when resurrected by Peter, about showing the faultiness in the idea of what you call "evidence".


message 47: by Steve (last edited May 29, 2015 07:13PM) (new)

Steve Goble David wrote: "So? You have avoided providing even a modicum of support for your entire line of questioning. This thread has been, from post 1 and when resurrected by Peter, about showing the faultiness in the ..."

I am not sure there is a fault in the idea of evidence. Yes, we all have biases. Yes, we all have world views and preferences. That is precisely why objective evidence and logic are important. Asking someone for evidence when they make a claim is not a bad thing. Really.


message 48: by David (new)

David Asking for evidence is one thing, but asking for "independent verifiable evidence" is something else. Asking in such a way as to put oneself as judge and jury, which is how certain people have come across, is also something else. I am all for people giving evidence for why they believe particular things, but I do not think I have to convince others before being justified in believing them.

Besides, like I have said, this thread began as a discussion of what kind of evidence, what is evidence, is only "independent and verifiable" evidence allowed. My argument has been that we all live our lives with many beliefs that are not "independent or verifiable" and that is okay. Some things may fit into that category, such as science. But many others do not.

If I ask you what you had for dinner last night and you tell me pizza, that is neither independent nor verifiable, but as long as you have proven to be a trustworthy person, I am justified in believing you.

We all intuit the world is a real place that we interact with, but really we have no independent or verifiable evidence that idealism is not true (that we are not all brains in a vat).

We all assume other people have minds like ours, that our experience of the world, our internal dialogue, is similar, but we have no independent and verifiable evidence of that.

So my point is not that evidence is bad, my point is that the whole discussion is a bit more nuanced and complex than some want to make it.


message 49: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble OK.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Asking for evidence is not complex - it's very, very simple and direct.

Believers don't have a shred of any sort of evidence for the angels, or the virgins, or the talking donkeys, or the virgin-born god-men.

If they did, they'd simply lay it out on the table.

They don't.

And they know they don't, and that's why we get all the distractions and avoidances and "philosophy" and smokescreens and other performances.

It's dishonest.


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