Religion: The Deuce

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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Thu May 07, 2009 9:21 pm UTC

Sparthox wrote:Would you call me logical if I started a proof with the point that 2=1?

No... But the point that 2=1 can be proven false. Bad analogy.

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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby Zcorp » Fri May 08, 2009 12:17 am UTC

mf92 wrote:1. I think it's fair to let everyone know where I am getting my observations from, at least geographically. I'm from a middle class, Republican county in New Jersey. It's basically an island of conservatism (well, at least conservative for NJ, but the Republican party always wins here) in a sea of liberals. As I live right next to New York and often go there, about a fifth of my speculations are coming from a fairly liberal, upper middle class county up there. Maybe this explains where I'm coming from, maybe not, but there you have it.


Jumping in this conversation a little late, but I hope I can add some insight.

About me:
I'm from a upper middle class liberal county (Boulder) in Colorado. It is also a bit against the grain in terms of the rest of the state. Denver and its surrounding areas (one of which is Boulder) bring about the potential for the state to swing. With the rest of the state generally being rather conservative. I currently live in Los Angeles another rather liberal area of the nation. That said I often take issue with many of the beliefs from both areas and do politically consider myself independent. Although political affiliation is at best has a meek correlation to this discussion.

2. Maybe what I'm saying about religion losing it's grip on society IS inaccurate. That's what I wanted to find out. I was hoping to hear if anyone was seeing a prevalence of atheism/agnosticism/simply less religious beliefs in their generation.


All to often conversations like this get confusing due to a semantics, ambiguities, and differing perceptions within the english language.

Religion:
b (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance(merrian-webster)
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs(dictionary.com)

Even these two sites define religion quite differently. One definition requires worship, one interest in understanding.
Science fits the definition from dictionary.com but not from webster's.

In the context of this discussion I'm going to make the assumption that you do not consider science or 'eastern philosophies' to be a 'religion.'
In this context I'm certainly seeing a in the number of individuals in my generation (I'm 25, GY) and nation (U.S.) that do not believe in religion. The percentageof individuals in my generation that do not believe in religion is increasing (As per various links already in this thread).

I believe that many people in my generation feel they are more spiritual (another word that with inherent ambiguities) then religious. I have met just as many individuals who study the teachings from the i-Ching, Bhagavad Gita, Buddism, or Tao te Ching as those that follow the more religious texts. Although the individuals I find to be more enlightened look to science for answers. Those that do primarily look to science do it because is the only one of these that does not require faith or belief, and is by nature not only adaptive to but also encouraging new view points and changes in perception.

3. Yes, I am suggesting that Christianity (I don't know about other religions) is becoming more accepting of science. And it seems that those in the field of science tend to have less belief in a deity or deities than other careers, so there is somewhat of a correlation there.
Agreed, its because they are trying to say the same thing, one suggests answers one gives the answer as God.

Religions and Science are both trying to answers the same philosophical question: What is the point of existence, and how to understand it. Western Religions tell you its God, and by believing in God you can answer everything because God is the answer to everything.

Christian: Why does my pencil drop if I let go of it
Answer: Because God wants it that way
Christian: Why does God want it that way
Answer: Ask him when you see him, he works in mysterious ways.

Scientist: Why does my pencil drop if I let go of it
Answer: Gravitational Theory?
Scientist: But that does not explain the relationship between the Mercury and it's orbit or the Deflection of Light
Answer: Hmm, General Relativity?
Scientist: But that does not explain the relationship between molecules
Answer: Hmmmm, String Theory? Loop Quantum Gravity? Super Gravity? Really no clue lets try to find out.

Once an individual can overcome the fear of not knowing everything about existence and find a desire to explore it, science becomes quite appealing. While Science and Christianity are trying to answer the same questions they are mutually exclusive in their means of doing so. As science requires the practitioner to remove all of their assumptions and replace them with evidence. Christianity is solely based on assumptions or 'faith' for it to be useful.
4. Yes, I was wondering if you think that the majority of the population (in your respective country) will be irreligious in the future.
I believe that it is required for progression of our understanding of existence and it seems to be the path we are heading. With luck in the next 20-50 years we can conceive a more efficient way to distribute resources to education which seems to have a very strong correlation if it is not the cause for disbelieving the mysticism presented by Religion.

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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby Philwelch » Fri May 08, 2009 12:43 am UTC

Sparthox wrote:No matter how thoroughly and logically the church makes points or rules on issues, if it makes those points based off of axioms that can't be proven, that's not logic.


I am very well versed in logic.

Yes, it is logic.

Logic is just a set of inference rules that get you from one set of statements to more sets of statements. So if you take any statement and say "prove this", you prove it using the rules of logic and some other set of statements that we agree upon. If you challenge any of my premises, I can argue from there.

There are only three possible ways this process can end:

1. Our chain of justification circles around on itself. Q is justified by P, P is justified by O, but O is justified by Q. This may indeed be a very large circle, but most of us will still say "that's circular reasoning" and not be convinced.
2. I will give you an infinite series of propositions. This doesn't seem very plausible either.
3. We will end up at some proposition which itself is not proven.

All of us have unproven axioms we use in our reasoning. There's nothing illogical about starting from one set of axioms rather than the other. For instance, Euclid built his entire geometry on a set of five axioms, one of which (the parallel postulate) can easily be dispensed with and replaced with something else while still generating a perfectly consistent logical system.

Likewise, you can have a perfectly consistent and logical picture of the world even if your axioms include statements about ancient Israelite demigods and apostolic succession. Your picture of the world may be wrong, inaccurate, or inefficient but it isn't illogical.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Fri May 08, 2009 2:35 pm UTC

As Philwelch has said above me and as I find myself constantly at pains to point out, logic is not equivilent with "being correct" or "being smart" in some sense; logic is merely a system used to link together truth from certain premises

Sparthox wrote:No matter how thoroughly and logically the church makes points or rules on issues, if it makes those points based off of axioms that can't be proven, that's not logic.


Axioms by their very definition can't be proven, that's why they're axioms. For instance, Maths is merely based off a set of axioms which can't be proved: the founding axiom of Maths being x=x. Someone in this thread stated that the axiom 1=2 is incorrect, it isn't, it is merely a possible axiom one could use instead of the more ubiquitous x=x.

On the points raised by Aquinas for one moment let us consider the implications if we take them as truth. So God exists, or rather a first cause Architect being exists with great (though quite likely limited power) who created this universe in one sense or anotehr. Where do we extrapolate from that a sense of omnibenevolence or even anything more then apathy for us? Where can a Jewish Healer inspired death-cult spring up from acceptance of a creator? Why would this creator care any more for us than we do for tiny animaclus beings? Surely his mind (if such a term is even adequete) would be so entirely alien from ours that it wouldn't be able to even understand us? Why favour this minute speck of a planet out of the greater cosmos for any kind of attention? Why should any religion be thought a more valid way of following this creator being?

Personally I would have little problem with everyone following this Deistic thought, as it is of little consquence.

Aquinas always amazed me, he seemed to move from his pseudo-logical proofs to Christianity as if such was an obvious matter of course.

Many religious, let us take Christianity as the immediate example, people say that they don't think the Bible is completely true or, and even more relevant, the moral code it preechs (stoning unbelievers gets tricky). Or, indeed, when queried on the validity of their religion over any other, they state that they chose their religion as it above others fitted their view of the world.

I see inherent inconsistencies with this view. Firstly by what criteria can you discredit elements of any religious codex as metaphors and others as literal points? Surely this is merely qualifying an text with some obviously absurd ( things most moderates distance themselves from) and arguably absurd (any divine activity) things in it? Secondly, cherrypicking morals or religions based upon your own non-religious sentiments merely validates non-religious viewpoints.

If one accepts the existence of one true religion then the finding of it should not be based upon whether it suits your sentiments but on whether it is the one true religion, no? Similarily the morals one might cherrypick are not therefore the morals of God but rather the morals of you as a human who has decided upon certain ones.


I know this is an oft said argument but it is one that boggles me: invisable unicorn?
Any non-religious person (as Philwelch has illustrated) must accept certian axioms, as must the religious, of the world we observe having some measure of truth to it and that we accept Empirical proof of things.
For the relgious however, not only God is made an exception but any number of things (Demigods, floods, travelling sages, strange demons, angelicly delivered texts) which they would otherwise not usually accept as truth without evidince. And it is this inconsistency which puzzles me.

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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby McCaber » Fri May 08, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Religions and Science are both trying to answers the same philosophical question: What is the point of existence, and how to understand it. Western Religions tell you its God, and by believing in God you can answer everything because God is the answer to everything.

Christian: Why does my pencil drop if I let go of it
Answer: Because God wants it that way
Christian: Why does God want it that way
Answer: Ask him when you see him, he works in mysterious ways.

That's not how it works. Historically (in Europe, at least), the people who were finding these things out were pretty big Christians. Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, all the way up to Paul Erdos.

It was more like:
Christian: Why does my pencil drop if I let go of it?
Answer: I don't know. Let's see if there's a pattern in the world God has made.

So I really challenge your point that religion and science can be mutually exclusive. To me, science is not interested about the questions religion can answer. I don't believe that pure science can tell you which moral code to follow, where to draw your motivations from, what (if anything) happens to you after death, etc. Whereas no religious book will tell you the speed of light, the force of gravitational attraction, or the fundamental theorem of calculus.

Science does a very good job dealing with the natural world. Religion doesn't. All religion can provide science is a motivation.
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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby Zcorp » Fri May 08, 2009 7:41 pm UTC

McCaber wrote:
So I really challenge your point that religion and science can be mutually exclusive. To me, science is not interested about the questions religion can answer.
Religion provides a belief structure it does not provide empirical answer any of the questions.

And of course science is interested in the questions religion answers with mysticism. The whole point of science is to study all of existence. That includes that possibility for extra dimensions, conscious energy, what happens after death, if there is a 'soul.' It's system seeks theories based on evidence that explain phenomenon and the goal is to attempt to disprove them, it is encouraged to challenge the current way of thinking.

Of course science does not provide empirical evidence for all the questions religion answers with mysticism so far. But it is quite young and the effect it has already had on understanding existence is large and sciences threat to religion is very significant.

I don't believe that pure science can tell you which moral code to follow, where to draw your motivations from, what (if anything) happens to you after death, etc.
Doesn't answer what happens after death yet, but it also does not provide me with a false belief, and it does offer information on what moral code to follow and where to draw motivations. Sociology, Psychology, economics, and political science all use the scientific method and seek to answer these questions.

Whereas no religious book will tell you the speed of light, the force of gravitational attraction, or the fundamental theorem of calculus.
They do, they attribute it all to God. Until science challenged that idea. Of course they do not use those terms. Science created those terms to quantify existence, these terms led us to a empirical mathematical equation.

Science does a very good job dealing with the natural world. Religion doesn't. All religion can provide science is a motivation.
Science does a very good job with trying to understand existence. Religion does a very good job with providing unexplainable reasons for existence.

Science searches to explain the 'natural' universe the seemingly current metaphysical universe and anything bigger then the universe. What your referring to as the 'natural world' is only things science as already disproved to be metaphysical or beyond understanding, simply because it has not yet given explanations for everything does not mean it can not.

Can you explain how you feel that religion motivates science? I'm not following.

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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Fri May 08, 2009 10:11 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:And of course science is interested in the questions religion answers with mysticism. The whole point of science is to study all of existence. That includes that possibility for extra dimensions, conscious energy, what happens after death, if there is a 'soul.'

At least, science strives to study all of existence. Even if Naturalism were true, then it'd still be extremely unlikely that science would be able to study all that exists, but rather only that which is empirically observable. And currently, what good Philosophy tells us is that for Naturalism to be true, it'd have to be likely that there's a lot going on outside of our observable universe. And the only way to study that which is outside our universe is to study it through the very limited window of how it affects our own universe, which is likely to be a very small window that was only open once: during the formation of our universe.
Religion, when it answers questions about what is after death, is very likely within a realm that is unreachable by observation. Observation might tell us that when somebody dies, their consciousness ceases to be, but this only works if philosophically consciousnesses are irreducibly a part of the physical (observable) realm. If they in fact, are not, then science is going to have an impossible time proving that there is nothing after death, or that there isn't something quite significant that does happen.
Of course science does not provide empirical evidence for all the questions religion answers with mysticism so far. But it is quite young and the effect it has already had on understanding existence is large and sciences threat to religion is very significant.

At this point, philosophically, there is not much debate that there is likely a substantial amount of existent, non-observable phenomena, be it purely 'Naturalistic' or as religion describes it.
I don't believe that pure science can tell you which moral code to follow, where to draw your motivations from, what (if anything) happens to you after death, etc.
Doesn't answer what happens after death yet, but it also does not provide me with a false belief, and it does offer information on what moral code to follow and where to draw motivations. Sociology, Psychology, economics, and political science all use the scientific method and seek to answer these questions.

Science can only answer 'moral code' questions after one has already made a decision about what is the epitome of moral goodness. That is, only after one has decided that human happiness, human prosperity, or environmental coherence, as examples, are what one should strive for. Science at the moment, and likely never, due to many things likely being unobservable, won't be able to decide whether it is an equal moral good for, say, dolphins to prosper as humans to prosper. It can only make such an answer after it has made many an assumption about moral goodness.
[Religion does answer scientific questions], they attribute it all to God. Until science challenged that idea.
This is false. If a God did indeed create the universe, the only things that religion attributes to God are the attributes of the universe that are ‘brute facts.’ For example, constants which, until they are scientifically found to be relying on other brute fact constants, appear to have no explanation other than ‘the way it is.’ Science doesn’t challenge this idea, it only shows which things are attributable to God, and which things are reliant on things attributable to God.
Can you explain how you feel that religion motivates science? I'm not following.

In Christianity in particular, there is motivation to understand the regularity of the universe with full knowledge that it is only regular and understandable due to the existence of God.

Lastly, let me say that you must have an unbelievable amount of faith to claim that there is nothing in all of existence that science cannot answer. Most naturalist philosophers are abandoning the notion that this universe and this universe’s observable history is ‘all there is’ in favor of other theories, all of which require unobservable, but still Naturalistic, processes to work.

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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby Zcorp » Sat May 09, 2009 12:49 am UTC

MoghLiechty2 wrote:Even if Naturalism were true, then it'd still be extremely unlikely that science would be able to study all that exists, but rather only that which is empirically observable.
Yup, and as you say some things may not be empirically observable, but thats an assumption.

Religion, when it answers questions about what is after death, is very likely within a realm that is unreachable by observation.
Frequently throughout history things that were 'very likely unreachable' have been reached. So I'm not convinced that our current perspective and knowledge is sufficient to prove this statement true.
Observation might tell us that when somebody dies, their consciousness ceases to be, but this only works if philosophically consciousnesses are irreducibly a part of the physical (observable) realm. If they in fact, are not, then science is going to have an impossible time proving that there is nothing after death, or that there isn't something quite significant that does happen.
Science is not trying to prove that things do not exist (except its own theories) it is trying to prove what does. Simply because we are currently incapable of perceiving and measuring some things does not me we always will be so inept.
Science can only answer 'moral code' questions after one has already made a decision about what is the epitome of moral goodness. That is, only after one has decided that human happiness, human prosperity, or environmental coherence, as examples, are what one should strive for.
Or at least the epitome of moral goodness as the current society can best understand it, and adapt as it changes.

Which seems at least to me superior to a much more rigid moral code presented by religion, with still no reasoning behind much of what offends God.
Zcorp wrote:[Religion does answer scientific questions], they attribute it all to God. Until science challenged that idea.
This is false. If a God did indeed create the universe, the only things that religion attributes to God are the attributes of the universe that are ‘brute facts.’
Maybe I'm misunderstanding your response but religion dictates how we exist, what exists, how we enter an after life, how the sun came to be, why there is night an day etc. These are things that Religion attributes to God that science has since found a bit more information in.

To pick on Christianity, at what point does science debunk it?
The Big Bang lasted longer then 7 days.
Evolution.
Can you still be a Christian if you accept being Gay as a acceptable life-style in the view of God.
A polyamorous lifestyle is found to create more harmonious society then a monogamous one.
If Mary somehow found not to give a Virgin birth
That Jesus is found to not be the son of God.

How many of these things along these lines can happen and there still be a Christian religion.
In Christianity in particular, there is motivation to understand the regularity of the universe with full knowledge that it is only regular and understandable due to the existence of God.
How does this motivate scientists?
What about the things that Christianity believes are not understandable, and then become so? All of these new things are just additional things God wanted us to learn? Why doesn't god want us to understand everything? Why not allow us to become omniscient?

Lastly, let me say that you must have an unbelievable amount of faith to claim that there is nothing in all of existence that science cannot answer.
No, faith is about making assumptions, science is much more about questioning them. Historically science has shattered assumptions generally only to create more questions. I don't assume we can know everything, but I'm not going to assume we can not. So we might as well find if where that limit is, if there is one.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Sat May 09, 2009 8:15 am UTC

The things that you've mentioned here have varying levels of central-ness to the Christian faith. And the things that science actually has asserted to a reasonable degree of certainty (age of the universe) have no bearing on whether you get to still be a Christian. (I, for one, consider myself a fundamentalist Christian of sorts, and believe in an old Earth and universe). The things that are central to Christianity, at least that you mention, absolutely cannot be answered by science. Sure, science can say that a virgin birth is physically impossible, but it could never say that a virgin birth is supernaturally impossible. And science could never even begin to touch the idea that Jesus is the Son of God...

Also, you state over and over science's historical ability to discover that which was previously discoverable. However, the things that I proposed to be undiscoverable here are fully non-physical or non-universal processes... The sort of things that are brought up in a good, solid discussion of philosophy. If modern philosophers determine that there is a high likelihood of there being unobservable physical phenomena, they've already weighed the evidence of science's supposed historical transcendence of the matter, and it's still determined that it's unlikely that science will be able to understand literally all that there is. To believe otherwise would be to assume that the only things that exist or have existed ever are exactly the things we can directly observe in our own universe... and given the vast array of possibilities of (even naturalistic) processes (universe generators, etc.) that there are, this is a pretty big assumption.

As for how religion motivates science, you're beating the dead horse for it not running fast enough (if that analogy works here). Sure, religion motivates, and has motivated Christian (or otherwise religious) scientists since science began, but it is by no means necessary for science to happen. Only those that can be motivated by God's existence can be motivated by God's supposed universal regularity. Although, many Christian philosophers would argue that the reliable cognitive faculties necessary to do science are only made possible by the existence of God. That is, the only reason why we can empirically test things, expect them to turn out the way they do, and expect our own minds to reliably interpret them, is a creator. And science fits very well into a belief in the God of regularity.

And, I know Christianity hasn't had the best of history in reguards to science (see Galileo), but I can't think of any historical time when Christianity said that something is literally undiscoverable (correct me if I'm wrong). Religion simply had a simpler or more false understanding of it than would be warranted by a full scientific inquiry. As science advanced, the scientific understanding of any particular matter advanced, but this by no means diminished any religious understanding of the matter.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Sparthox » Sat May 09, 2009 6:31 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Sparthox wrote:No matter how thoroughly and logically the church makes points or rules on issues, if it makes those points based off of axioms that can't be proven, that's not logic.


I am very well versed in logic.

Yes, it is logic.

Logic is just a set of inference rules that get you from one set of statements to more sets of statements. So if you take any statement and say "prove this", you prove it using the rules of logic and some other set of statements that we agree upon. If you challenge any of my premises, I can argue from there.

There are only three possible ways this process can end:

1. Our chain of justification circles around on itself. Q is justified by P, P is justified by O, but O is justified by Q. This may indeed be a very large circle, but most of us will still say "that's circular reasoning" and not be convinced.
2. I will give you an infinite series of propositions. This doesn't seem very plausible either.
3. We will end up at some proposition which itself is not proven.

All of us have unproven axioms we use in our reasoning. There's nothing illogical about starting from one set of axioms rather than the other. For instance, Euclid built his entire geometry on a set of five axioms, one of which (the parallel postulate) can easily be dispensed with and replaced with something else while still generating a perfectly consistent logical system.

Likewise, you can have a perfectly consistent and logical picture of the world even if your axioms include statements about ancient Israelite demigods and apostolic succession. Your picture of the world may be wrong, inaccurate, or inefficient but it isn't illogical.


Ok, wrong word choice I guess. I was using the word illogical with its modern connotations in mind, like wrong, inaccurate, or inefficient, as you said.

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:
Sparthox wrote:No matter how thoroughly and logically the church makes points or rules on issues, if it makes those points based off of axioms that can't be proven, that's not logic.

Axioms by their very definition can't be proven, that's why they're axioms.


As I guess I just demonstrated, I have never taken a course in logic. However, I was under the impression that axioms, though unprovable, had to be self-evident or obvious. Is that not the case?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Philwelch » Sun May 10, 2009 3:54 am UTC

Sparthox wrote:As I guess I just demonstrated, I have never taken a course in logic. However, I was under the impression that axioms, though unprovable, had to be self-evident or obvious. Is that not the case?


Axioms don't have to be anything. Lots of mathematical systems have completely arbitrary axioms and just build a lattice of logical consistency from there. But if you want to live your life by axioms, generally pick the self-evident ones.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Outchanter » Sun May 10, 2009 8:27 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Sparthox wrote:As I guess I just demonstrated, I have never taken a course in logic. However, I was under the impression that axioms, though unprovable, had to be self-evident or obvious. Is that not the case?


Axioms don't have to be anything. Lots of mathematical systems have completely arbitrary axioms and just build a lattice of logical consistency from there. But if you want to live your life by axioms, generally pick the self-evident ones.


Or even better, continually refine your axioms for better predictive power, while avoiding contradictions with reality. General relativity may not be "self evident", but its predictions hold up to careful examination and experimentation.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Naurgul » Sun May 10, 2009 9:19 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:Axioms don't have to be anything. Lots of mathematical systems have completely arbitrary axioms and just build a lattice of logical consistency from there. But if you want to live your life by axioms, generally pick the self-evident ones.


I have never seen an axiom in mathematics that seemed arbitrary to me. In fact, they all seem very simple, fundamental and self-evident. I'd go as far as to say that being told about axioms in mathematics has shown me that there are classes of things so self-evident, that I had never questioned them in my whole life. Care to provide an example of a mathematical axiom that seems arbitrary?

Regardless, I'll have agree with your conclusion about picking self-evident axioms in real life.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Philwelch » Sun May 10, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

Naurgul wrote:
Philwelch wrote:Axioms don't have to be anything. Lots of mathematical systems have completely arbitrary axioms and just build a lattice of logical consistency from there. But if you want to live your life by axioms, generally pick the self-evident ones.


I have never seen an axiom in mathematics that seemed arbitrary to me. In fact, they all seem very simple, fundamental and self-evident. I'd go as far as to say that being told about axioms in mathematics has shown me that there are classes of things so self-evident, that I had never questioned them in my whole life. Care to provide an example of a mathematical axiom that seems arbitrary?


The parallel postulate. It *is* arbitrary and doesn't even apply to the natural world, but it turns out Euclidean geometry is a good enough approximation that no one cares most of the time.

By "arbitrary" I mean in a more technical sense, that someone chose that axiom but could have just as easily chosen a different one. There are a whole set of three-valued logics, each of which has different axioms and each of which does different things to resolve "true AND indeterminate", and while some are more intuitive or useful than others, all of them were a matter of choice.

There's nothing stopping us from picking totally counterintuitive and stupid axioms as long they don't contradict each other, but the utility of such a logical system is suspect.
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Re: The religious becoming a minority

Postby Spacemilk » Tue May 12, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

Sparthox wrote:
Spacemilk wrote:I know the concept of rationality is very important with a lot of posters here, and I know in the past (think Middle Ages) the Catholic church did a lot of things without a clear rational justification. (or at least not a positive one - I'm discounting reasons like "seizing more power" or "going along with political leanings" and things of that nature) However, in recent years, the Catholic church has made a push to think carefully before they rule on some question of religious beliefs, to think of a rational basis for their ruling. Granted, this reasoning is based on a number of assumptions, or axioms, that the Catholic church has (such as, God exists, Jesus exists and is the Son of God, etc. - the Catholic church may have proofs for this, and I apologize if this is the case because I haven't read them). But they have a rational, logical basis for their decisions (at least, the ones I have read :P ) that follows logically from the initial axioms, and yes they do consider scientific evidence.


No matter how thoroughly and logically the church makes points or rules on issues, if it makes those points based off of axioms that can't be proven, that's not logic. Would you call me logical if I started a proof with the point that 2=1? The end result doesn't matter if the foundation is flawed.



Edit: St. Thomas Aquinas' proofs.
Proof 1-3: TA proves god's existence by assuming an infinite regress and then saying only god could end it, i.e. something had to move first/something had to cause the first effect/something immaterial must have made the first material thing/etc. The problem here is that TA associates the beliefs of his time with god - that he is invincible, cannot be undone, etc. In this way, the logic isn't sound - if there is infinite regress, what logically makes it stop with god? If one traces effects all the way to nothingness and says that god was the first cause, what proves that? Why not keep going and asking what caused god to pop into existence? Our notion of god as the end of the regress is not logical, like it would be if you had a lego sculpture and deconstructed it until you only had one lego.

Proof 4: "Some things are greater than others. Whatever is great to any degree gets its greatness from that which is the greatest." This is stupid. Something in the universe is the reddest thing imaginable, therefore everything that is red gets its color from this one reddest thing. Makes sense, right?

Proof 5: Intelligent design. See: evolution.


Yikes I have been away from this thread for too long. Time to (try to) catch up.

Ok first of all, on the next page PhilWelch did an excellent job of answering your problem with the unprovable axioms. Axioms are, by defintion, supposed to be unprovable (or at least they're things which you've said you won't prove, but everyone agrees on them). Also, you're right - the end result is flawed if the foundation is flawed, but how do you intend to go about proving the foundation is flawed? You used a bad example, because it's easy to prove that 2 =/= 1, with the right axioms (lol).

Your answer to Proofs 1-3: Aquinas' point actually makes a lot of sense to me, but I also see your point. If you assume everything has a beginning then you never actually will reach a beginning. How do you explain that? Good question, one that I don't have the answer to. If I were to ascribe to this, I'd probably just punt and say that it's something my puny brain can't comprehend.

Proof 4: You used an awful analogy to refute this point. Here's a better one: If you take a class in which you have no way to learn material except from the teacher, and you have no previous knowledge of the subject, then everything you learn (and deduce! since any deductions are made from information from the teacher) must have come from the teacher. Hopefully that makes more sense.

Proof 5: And why exactly can you not have both? Oh wait, you can. I'm pretty sure everyone but hardcore fundamentalists accept that you can logically have both. There is no reason to assume an intelligent creator would make a completely unchanging and unevolving system that begins with the utter pinnacle and final point of creation. Why begin at the end, anyway? An intelligent creator could do that, but to say "IF intelligent creator, THEN no evolution and completely unchanging creation" is a fallacy.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Tue May 12, 2009 6:57 pm UTC

In response to MoghLiecthy2:

My goal was to list things of varying levels of central-ness to christian faith, and things toward the end of that list are either currently impossible to debunk or may be impossible to debunk. It was just a list to bring about an idea close to god of the gaps. Christianity has had to reform its self based on scientific evidence trying to incorporate empirical findings into its faith and spinning it as find a new interpretation of Gods will.

At which point do these reactions to scientific findings within Christianity no long make it christianity? So my question is how much of Christianity's doctrine can be forced to change due to scientific findings and then still call its self Christianity. Or what is really the at heart beliefs of Christianity. As things that used to be important aspects of its belief have changed. Most of the stuff on the beginning of my list. Time of world creation, human creation, validity of gay lifestyle (current issue for most american christians, to the point that anyone running for office has to be against gay marriage). Then things that have no empirical data yet or ever validity of non-monogamous lifestyle, Virgin Mary, Jesus = God. If at some point our search for understanding existence grants us the tools to peer through time, and we find Jesus was conceived naturally, how does the Christian religion react. Jesus just becomes a son of God instead of the Son of God, and you look for another prophet/divine avatar, so like mohammed. Can their still be a Christianity?

Also if you start to relate the big bang or the idea that everything is God and there is a Single Mind we are trying to again merge our-selves with what are the distinctions between your beliefs and Buddhism, or taoists. Why call your self a Christian when your belief start to differ from Christianity's to such an extreme.

In relation to science's historical ability to discover things. Your making the assumption that it will forever be impossible to perceive or interact with non-physical (by which I assume you mean not energy or matter) or non-universal processes. Consistently science has been able to create tools to observe things that were previously unobservable and create ways of interacting with them. What you call supernatural is only that we have yet to find a way to interact with it, or you believe we never will.

If we find a backdoor in to heaven, is it still supernatural? Or does heaven then come part of our 'natural' universe. Why is heaven unnatural.

To me its not so much that Christians believe that things are undiscoverable so much as providing false information and defending it with fanatical devotion relating to various wars, murders or hate crimes. As for not diminishing religions understanding, it seems that is due to it teaching acceptance in lack of understanding not an actual understanding. Religion seems to be based off of accepting assumptions. While the laws of science prohibit and challenge them. Which is where I find them to be mutually exclusive.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Wed May 13, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:My goal was to list things of varying levels of central-ness to christian faith, and things toward the end of that list are either currently impossible to debunk or may be impossible to debunk. It was just a list to bring about an idea close to god of the gaps. Christianity has had to reform its self based on scientific evidence trying to incorporate empirical findings into its faith and spinning it as find a new interpretation of Gods will.

You should give a good example of an instance in which Christianity has had to historically 'reform itself' based on scientific evidence. Most likely I'm going to be able to give good reasons why it's either non-central to the Christian faith, a result of old, bad theology or both. The latter would mean that Christianity (that of the Bible) isn't actually against science in that instance, but rather the interpreters of the time did a poor job. That would mean that institutionalized Christianity had to reform itself based on science (although maybe it would've made more modest claims in that reguard anyway due to deeper theological understanding), but maybe that's what you're trying to say here.

At which point do these reactions to scientific findings within Christianity no long make it christianity? So my question is how much of Christianity's doctrine can be forced to change due to scientific findings and then still call its self Christianity. Or what is really the at heart beliefs of Christianity.

Christianity has, admittedly become more modest over time in its pronunciations of truth. But this is to be expected. If the only evidence that was had 400 years ago about what was the center of the universe was that which was contained in the Bible, and people genuinely were interested in what was the center, they would come up with the wrong conclusion. The idea that the Earth is the center of the universe isn’t really a ‘part of Christianity’ however, since a correct reading of the Bible leads to the conclusion that the Bible doesn’t really take a stance on the matter, it merely gives extremely weak references to what could be interpreted (by somebody who’s looking way too hard) as the Earth being the center.

One thing that such ideas have never been, however, are ideas necessary for salvation. The list of things that Christianity states as doctrine, and the list of things that are required for one to believe to ‘be a Christian’ in the sense of salvation are quite different. For instance, you don’t technically have to believe that Adam and Eve were real people to go to heaven, even if a correct reading of Genesis warrants such a belief. Salvation in Christian doctrine is less about beliefs concerning the world in general and more about beliefs and actions surrounding a personal relationship with Jesus.

In relation to science's historical ability to discover things. Your making the assumption that it will forever be impossible to perceive or interact with non-physical (by which I assume you mean not energy or matter) or non-universal processes. Consistently science has been able to create tools to observe things that were previously unobservable and create ways of interacting with them. What you call supernatural is only that we have yet to find a way to interact with it, or you believe we never will.

No, I’m not making the assumption, I’m making the assertion based on modern philosophy. An assumption is something you take as an axiom for which there is no external evidence. An assertion is what you get after you’ve examined epistemological evidence. An example of an assumption is that the history of science’s success has any bearing whatsoever on its future success. You must understand that modern philosophy takes these sorts of things into consideration, and still makes it seem likely that the universe is a closed loop in terms of what all exists. You can believe otherwise, of course, but it seems that you believe so based on what appears to be the very high regard you have for science as a system for seeking truth, as if it were the highest form of truth that will never be beaten. It’s not really an important issue, though.
To me its not so much that Christians believe that things are undiscoverable so much as providing false information and defending it with fanatical devotion relating to various wars, murders or hate crimes. As for not diminishing religions understanding, it seems that is due to it teaching acceptance in lack of understanding not an actual understanding. Religion seems to be based off of accepting assumptions. While the laws of science prohibit and challenge them. Which is where I find them to be mutually exclusive.

You… should take a Biblical theology course, rather than make your characterizations based on news coverage of fundamentalist Christians. The assumptions made in Christianity are not the things you think they are. It is not an assumption that the Virgin birth happened. It’s an assertion based on the Biblical (or historical, if you’re a conservative historian) evidence and on the assumption that miracles are able to happen. But like I said, you should look more deeply into the various ways that modern Christianity draws conclusions before you make such blanket statements.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Spacemilk » Thu May 14, 2009 4:25 pm UTC

MoghLiechty2 wrote:You… should take a Biblical theology course, rather than make your characterizations based on news coverage of fundamentalist Christians. The assumptions made in Christianity are not the things you think they are. It is not an assumption that the Virgin birth happened. It’s an assertion based on the Biblical (or historical, if you’re a conservative historian) evidence and on the assumption that miracles are able to happen. But like I said, you should look more deeply into the various ways that modern Christianity draws conclusions before you make such blanket statements.


I want to re-emphasize this. It's not really necessary for *everyone* in this thread to take a class, just try to keep in mind that it's near-impossible to make sweeping generalizations about Christianity - there are so many different belief systems that claim to be "Christian". Most people think Mormons aren't even close to what they hold to be the "core" beliefs of Christianity, but Mormons consider themselves to be Christian. (correct me if I'm wrong please! I'm not an expert in Mormonism) But to assume that a Christian must hold fundamentalist beliefs is just wrong - it'd be like meeting a Baptist and saying "Oh dear, you must believe in everything Fred Phelps believes." Um, no.

Side note: MoghLiechty, weird question: You list your location as Indiana and I think that's a picture of the Cathedral of Notre Dame - do you go to Notre Dame?

Zcorp wrote:At which point do these reactions to scientific findings within Christianity no long make it christianity? So my question is how much of Christianity's doctrine can be forced to change due to scientific findings and then still call its self Christianity. Or what is really the at heart beliefs of Christianity. As things that used to be important aspects of its belief have changed. Most of the stuff on the beginning of my list. Time of world creation, human creation, validity of gay lifestyle (current issue for most american christians, to the point that anyone running for office has to be against gay marriage). Then things that have no empirical data yet or ever validity of non-monogamous lifestyle, Virgin Mary, Jesus = God. If at some point our search for understanding existence grants us the tools to peer through time, and we find Jesus was conceived naturally, how does the Christian religion react. Jesus just becomes a son of God instead of the Son of God, and you look for another prophet/divine avatar, so like mohammed. Can their still be a Christianity?

Also if you start to relate the big bang or the idea that everything is God and there is a Single Mind we are trying to again merge our-selves with what are the distinctions between your beliefs and Buddhism, or taoists. Why call your self a Christian when your belief start to differ from Christianity's to such an extreme.


I'm pretty sure that unless you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does not exist, Christianity will not "cease to exist" because of some scientific finding. Using the example of Jesus' conception is also rather ridiculous - after Mogh and several others patiently have explained in previous posts, clearly the Bible is not the end-all be-all of hard fast truths (oh but of course the world was created in 6 calendar days and of course it's only 6000 years old . . . um, no.), so it's entirely possible Jesus was conceived with normal means, and even if he was how would that preclude him from being the Son of God? Your example is frankly nonsensical.

What you're arguing is semantics, really. Who cares what name we choose for ourselves? Yes, maybe some religions can get merged. (personally I think it's a little silly to have Christianity separate from Catholicism separate from Islam separate from Judaism) Does that invalidate all their beliefs? No.

Zcorp wrote:What you call supernatural is only that we have yet to find a way to interact with it, or you believe we never will.


So if we found a way to interact with God, that would suddenly make him not-God? Or it would suddenly make him not-supernatural? Or it would suddenly make it impossible that He/She created the Universe? Your assumption seems to be, if we can touch it and interact with it, if it loses its mystery, suddenly that invalidates all belief systems around it. On the contrary, the more I find out about the universe the more amazed I am. Removing the mystery does not remove the awe, nor does it invalidate belief in God.

Note that this is an example of an accepted assumption you've made that discovering everything means that God naturally could not exist. Wouldn't your own laws of science make you challenge this assumption until you can prove it?

Zcorp wrote:To me its not so much that Christians believe that things are undiscoverable so much as providing false information and defending it with fanatical devotion relating to various wars, murders or hate crimes. As for not diminishing religions understanding, it seems that is due to it teaching acceptance in lack of understanding not an actual understanding. Religion seems to be based off of accepting assumptions. While the laws of science prohibit and challenge them. Which is where I find them to be mutually exclusive.


Ok, first of all, this is insulting. If you want to argue the religion, argue it. If you want to argue the problems inherent in human nature, argue that. To say that Christians defend "false" information fanatically is to totally ignore recent events. Ex: global warming. Maybe it *is* true. But only recently have people started to question it. Before that, they were mocked, fired, pushed out of their jobs, refused funding, etc., for daring to question what's held as truth. In medieval times they would have been executed by Science. Or how about (rather silly example, but still) Perez Hilton's fanatical attack on Miss California for saying her beliefs, especially when she qualified them as her own beliefs and also praised a country where people could hold beliefs different from hers without that being a problem? Granted, none of these measure up to the scale of, say, the Inquisition, but I think that's because we live in modern times. If situations were reversed and Science had been God in medieval times, it would be Science who'd started the Inquisition. Or a better example: using "Science" to justify the oppression and slavery of black people. Hey, it was science that they were inferior to white people!

Unfortunately just because it seems to you like Religion is based off assumptions and Science is not, in the end you are wrong. It's about human nature and our desire to accept easy assumptions. It so happens that Religion was our vehicle for accepting easy assumptions throughout the past two millenia; now the pendulum is swinging and pretty soon we'll be using Science to justify our assumptions.

Sorry about the quote sniping; I couldn't see a way to make my points without becoming extremely confusing. (or maybe I am still extremely confusing in spite of using quote sniping lol)
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Thu May 14, 2009 9:16 pm UTC

Spacemilk wrote:Who cares what name we choose for ourselves? Yes, maybe some religions can get merged. (personally I think it's a little silly to have Christianity separate from Catholicism separate from Islam separate from Judaism) Does that invalidate all their beliefs? No.

In general, it's the more conservative sects of each of these religions that object to any sort of religious pluralism. More liberal Christians, for example, don't exclude Muslims from Salvation, even if they think Islam is mistaken about Jesus. Only the most liberal of each religion, however, wouldn't object to the claim that their religion could be entirely merged without consequence or truth-detriment with another religion.

I, of course, am a rather conservative Christian. If I didn't individually think that various aspects of my faith weren't mutually exclusive with other religions, I would have no need to call myself a Christian (IMO). Theologically, it seems that the ways of determining these truths within the Christian faith (Bible, etc.) imply truths that would be strictly contradicted by the standpoint of religious pluralism... But you're right, it wouldn't necessary invalidate all of Christian beliefs.
Side note: MoghLiechty, weird question: You list your location as Indiana and I think that's a picture of the Cathedral of Notre Dame - do you go to Notre Dame?

Whoa there, do I look like I'm made of money? :) ... Heh, nope I'm afraid not. I go to a rather conservative public university here (take a wild guess) because I'm a techie. (I'm a theologan only on the side). Good eye, though.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby 0.0 » Thu May 14, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

Deists exist and atheists exist, but none of them actually know if they are right, they just believe they are. I propose you are all actually agnostic but you are just unaware of the fact.

I find a little bit of humor in the fact that many or most of us believe we know. It seems very immodest in my opinion. I do enjoy listening to your discussions though.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Spacemilk » Fri May 15, 2009 3:31 pm UTC

0.0 wrote:Deists exist and atheists exist, but none of them actually know if they are right, they just believe they are. I propose you are all actually agnostic but you are just unaware of the fact.

I find a little bit of humor in the fact that many or most of us believe we know. It seems very immodest in my opinion. I do enjoy listening to your discussions though.


Heh. I lean towards agnosticism, but I hate to say I am because I feel like it's gotten a bad rap in recent years. *I* know what I mean by it, but if I tell people I'm agnostic, I feel like I have to go into a long-winded explanation of what I mean by that or they'll think I mean the wrong thing. And yes, I agree with the immodesty thing. It's one thing to believe that one day we'll be able to explain it, but until then just be patient; it's another to pull a SCIENCE IS GOD move and say that all religion is invalid because someday we will certainly be able to disprove everything mwhaha - but the same can be said of religious fundamentalists (BIBLE IS GOD, or so on). The former is very tolerant, the latter is not. Also, I think faith is a relatively modest, humble way for looking at the situation - you accept that maybe you don't know exactly how it works, but it does work and you trust that it works. Er, I hope that makes sense.

MoghLiechty2 wrote:In general, it's the more conservative sects of each of these religions that object to any sort of religious pluralism. More liberal Christians, for example, don't exclude Muslims from Salvation, even if they think Islam is mistaken about Jesus. Only the most liberal of each religion, however, wouldn't object to the claim that their religion could be entirely merged without consequence or truth-detriment with another religion.

I, of course, am a rather conservative Christian. If I didn't individually think that various aspects of my faith weren't mutually exclusive with other religions, I would have no need to call myself a Christian (IMO). Theologically, it seems that the ways of determining these truths within the Christian faith (Bible, etc.) imply truths that would be strictly contradicted by the standpoint of religious pluralism... But you're right, it wouldn't necessary invalidate all of Christian beliefs.


This is very true. I guess what I'm trying to say is, from an outsider's standpoint, when you see something like the 5 Pillars of Islam, which are extremely important to Muslims, you sort of tend to think "all right, that's very good, but is God really going to turn you away from Heaven if you haven't followed those Pillars? I certainly hope not." I respect the details of their faith, because it's important to them and they believe it's important, it gives meaning and structure to what they believe - it's sort of like cultural details, but to a greater extent; I would never expect people to give up their cultural identity just because it would be "easier".

What I do wish is that people would be able to look at other religions and realize that once you get past the details, at the bedrock of every religion is the same concept and really the same God. It would solve problems like violence in the name of religion. (I'm looking at you, Middle East and Northern Ireland) I guess that was more of what I meant by combining each religion - I don't think we should actually combine them. I just wish we could coexist. -_-

Which is why I like the Catholic way of describing it (here I go again! sorry!) although admittedly there are Catholics who don't follow it. But the official post-Vatican II standpoint of the Catholic church has been a very inclusivistic one. They handle it like this: They believe the Catholic Church holds the most "Truth", that they are closest to it - they don't imply that they're perfect, they actually imply they have room to grow, which I think is a great way to look at it. Other religions hold various amounts of "Truth" but in the end, all religions are striving towards the ideal of "Truth". To believe in another religion isn't a bad thing, it just means you might not get the most truth - but as long as you continually strive for truth you will be doing the right thing and you will go to Heaven. (and, they hope, in your search you will find the Catholic Church which has the most Truth!) So they neatly solve the problem posed by pluralism, which is basically why bother believing in any one religion if they're all the same, while still maintaining good relations with other religions in an effort to remember that all humans are brothers and sisters and it's balls-out ridiculous to kill because someone doesn't believe the exact same thing, AND they solve the problem of people who may have never heard of Catholicism or even God.

MoghLiechty2 wrote:Whoa there, do I look like I'm made of money? ... Heh, nope I'm afraid not. I go to a rather conservative public university here (take a wild guess) because I'm a techie. (I'm a theologan only on the side). Good eye, though.


Ha, I actually went there but I am totally not made of money - thank goodness I was a poor child of poor teacher parents so I got a lot of aid. :roll: I'm guessing you go to Purdue then? That's pretty cool; a lot of my good friends (and people I work with now, which is neat!) went there. :) Also I applied to Purdue and it would've been a lot more expensive (+10k/semester) to go there instead of ND :( stupid out of state tuition!
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kaelri » Thu May 21, 2009 1:28 am UTC

I don't mean to interrupt - I haven't read this thread yet, but I wanted to post something on the subject, and this seemed safer than starting a duplicate thread and summoning the mods' wrath upon my pitiable head. So consider this an optional intermission. :)

For the record, that exactly why this thread exists. -Az

Score.

Spoiler:
While (ironically) browsing a few Richard Dawkins speeches on YouTube, I stumbled upon the following video from the other corner, titled 5 Questions Every Intelligent Atheist Must Answer. I watched that, and several others by the same user (he has quite a diverse catalogue), and ultimately decided to write him an email with my answers.

1. AREN'T YOU USING CHANCE IN THE EXACT SAME WAY IN WHICH YOU ACCUSE CHRISTIANS OF USING "GOD OF THE GAPS"?

The difference is that there is a physical model for the so-called "random" variations which enable evolution to take place. While we obviously cannot replicate the entire billion-year process of speciation in a lab, we can observe the self-replicating, self-altering properties of the mechanism at the root of biological adaptation: the protein-based DNA strand. Cell mitosis, genetic mutation, and the adaptation of species, one generation at a time, can and has been physically proven, and from that process, combined with the principle of natural selection, the evolutionary process is an inevitable conclusion. In the big picture, the only "chance" that remains is how the self-replicating molecule actually formed in the first place. For this, I am happy to admit that science has not provided a satisfying explanation. As for why I don't see God in that gap, I'll address that in the following question:

2. WHY SHOULD THERE BE SOMETHING INSTEAD OF NOTHING?

I comprehend the "should" in that question in a very existential way. Because you're right - there is something, not nothing, and given a view of time that involves beginnings and endings, it's clear that there is something in the fabric of the universe, as it were, that necessitates the course of existence as it has unfolded. This, however, is a puzzle for the theist and the atheist alike. Granted, matter, by definition, sprung from the void; but it's easier for me to believe that simple elementary particles, like protons and neutrons, have emerged, rather than a conscious metaphysical entity like God, who would have had to bear with him the aggregate complexity of the physical universe he was about to create in addition to his own improbable nature. If we have learned anything from analyzing the world around us, it is that all complexity arises from lower levels of simplicity, not the other way around.

3. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR MORALS FROM?

As I alluded to in my little missive above, I am prepared to differ fundamentally with theists on the premise that morality is universal. I certainly do not see a "moral order" manifested in any way other than in the behavior and perception of intelligent life. In other words, "morality" does not seem to be like logic or mathematics; for those disciplines, the "wrong" answer is defined by evident contradiction and impossibility. But morality, like language, is one of the subjective groundings which inform our understanding of meaning. If you are seeking "oughtness" in the world (as described by the 'ex-atheist' in one of your early videos), then I'm afraid the best you can do is to arrive at a code which maximizes the collective sensation of happiness and fulfillment of purpose which our species finds itself craving. But this constitutes "good" because we perceive it as good, not vice versa.

4. HOW DID MORALS EVOLVE?

This is a fascinating philosophical question, actually, and if you think it's confusing for humans, you should have a look at an even more remarkable example: ants. Incredibly simple insects with hardly any brain tissue to speak of, ant colonies are nonetheless capable of acting as a collective hive, with an ability to coordinate and react as a unit in ways that for us would almost seem to require a telepathic connection. Another striking instance is in bird flocks which are able to move as a unit, in a manner that even evokes fractal patterns. Again, this is something that science is still working on - scientific theory, as I'm sure you well know, is a constantly changing, refining, and, well, evolving body of knowledge. But the fundamental building blocks are there: it's clear that such psychological mechanisms as these operate on a subconscious level, that which we call 'instinct,' and as incredible and mysterious as they are, it does not seem like it's beyond the power of natural emergent complexity to produce. (Again, it's not nearly so improbable as God, is it?)

5. CAN NATURE GENERATE COMPLEX ORGANISMS, IN THE SENSE OF ORIGINATING IT, WHEN PREVIOUSLY THERE WAS NONE?

I suppose I've effectively answered this question already, by approaching it tangentially in my previous answers. I think, naturally, that the answer is yes, by the simple tautology that complex life exists when previously there was none. Nature - and I use the word in the deepest possible sense - has produced, indeed necessitated, all that exists. If God exists - an entity even more complex, intelligently designed, than what we observe on this mortal plane of existence - then nature quite obviously created (necessitated) him, as well. So to the extent that you choose to supply God as an explanation for our creation, what you end up with is ultimately an unnecessary theoretical step. You force yourself to draw an arbitrary line between the complexity of observable nature - an appallingly improbable product of fundamental nature - and the complexity of God - a miraculous and praiseworthy product of fundamental nature. I imagine God in his first moments of existence, floating alone there in an utterly empty void, asking the same questions as us - why am I here? How did I get here? What is my purpose? - with even less observable evidence to go on.

To me, the mystery in complex life is not intelligence so much as consciousness, a thing which, unlike the elegance in the "design" of fundamental forces and elementary particles, seems unique to entities which have emerged into complexity by a long and rigorous process. When you introduce conscious intention into the 'what-created-God' recursion, you end up with an inescapable puzzle that is not only irrational, ; it requires a model of creation that begins with an entity that not only possesses but consists of pure free will, without any order or stimuli - any impetus at all. A mortal world produced by a being in this unenviable position would be, it seems, randomly chosen from virtually infinite and normatively indistinguishable possibilities. Therefore, if there is an "oughtness" in serving God, it would derive not from him but from the root of nature which caused him. And again, if nature is capable of providing all three of existence, consciousness and imperativeness, then God is unnecessary.


I also tried to defend the virtues of my atheism in a less confrontational manner:

There's a wonderful quote which Joss Whedon often uses to explain his philosophy: "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." In other words, living in a world without God really places a heavy burden of responsibility on an individual. It may seem a discouraging and hopeless way to live, but given the right attitude, it is a comforting, motivating, and ultimately empowering thing. What it means is that this existence - life - is not some sort of test. It means that this world is the world, and it is what we make of it: as exciting and fascinating and good a thing as we choose to make it. It means that we are truly equals, in that nobody has some untouchable power to create, to discover truth, to lift up souls to their fullest potential, that I do not. It means that hope and possibility are one and the same. In place of a belief in God, I am left with the feeling that the people around me are the most indescribably precious gifts, and to lose them, or waste or neglect them in any way, is not merely a defiance against the will or plan of my creator, but a loss in the most complete and unforgivable manner. To know that the only thing keeping a thing of great good from transforming from possibility into reality is me, my cowardice, my incapacity, my lack of imagination - I know nothing more compelling than that fear, and I doubt that the threat of fire and brimstone could even add much.

As for how I identify "good" in the absence of a divine prescription, I could go on at length, if you wish; for now, suffice to say that regardless of the origin of emotion, the path from consciousness to empathy to love is, as far as I'm concerned, a straight line.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat May 23, 2009 4:48 am UTC

Again sorry for the length between posts.

It seems I may not be articulating my point as well as I believed. I'll try to be a bit more careful.

In response to MochLiecthy2, May 13th:
Yes, I'm speaking to the broadest sense of Christianity and not any individuals beliefs. I'm questioning what that broadest sense even means. You mention that it is expected that Christianity become more modest in its pronunciations of the truth. Why is this expected? The Bible does not expect it.
Because someone poorly transcribed the bible and some fundamentals of Christianity at its conception. Is what you practice now still Christianity? Why do you still use the Bible when it presents false information or why not re-interprate or re-translate the word of God to be more fitting with what theologians believe now.

One of my friends practices Christian Science, he does not believe in heaven or hell. Does not believe in the Virgin Birth, does not believe Jesus to be the Son of God. Does not believe that being gay can offend God nor the multitude of other sex actions that are described in the Bible to do so. God to him is energy, but a different definition of energy then in Einstein's E=MC^2. Believes God to be omnipotent and omni-benevolent although not sentient. God is good and the truth of everything is good, so good is everything including your will (although he believes we have some form of individual expression). I'm sure I missed some important aspects of his beliefs.

Now he considers himself a Christian. He finds himself agreeing with the first sentence on wikipedia for Christianity: Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament.. He believes Christ to represent the superior path to understanding or maybe more correctly rejoining God, and thus I suppose existence.

Do you consider him a Christian?
Is a Christian simply someone who believes that the truth path to God can only be found in the new testament, even if they believe the majority of it to be complete BS?

Additionally he believes that the Bible being the word of God cannot be flawed (although a translation may be) and that we are just perceiving its message incorrectly. At which point I proposed the idea of rewriting the book to be more representative of understanding so that others can easier gain that understanding.

The primary area I differ with him is the central faith in Jesus, and thus the new testament. While I find the new testament to offer great information for philosophy I also find just as much from the Torah, Qu'ran, I-Ching, Surtas, Bhagavad Gita, the evidence presented by scientific method or other such scriptures.

Am I a Christian for finding insight in the new testament? While I certainly do not agree with all of it nor do I consider it a book of more importance then others that offer insight into existence (and often significantly less important), it still has had influence on my perspective of existence. Or are Christians anyone who's Self-concept includes the self-reference of Christian. If so, doesn't the concept of being a Christian relate more to just a want of belonging or acceptance of their mesosystem then a belief structure. Like it would seem Spacemilk defines himself. Experiencing anxiety at the idea of call himself an agnostic due to possible preconceptions or misconceptions by his local culture. Is that what Christianity is, just conformity due to a needed aspect of belonging in our hierarchy of needs? If so couldn't it be found in a religion that does not worship a book that preaches intolerance and by following through the written word logically leads to imposing your will on others. Why not find a religion or faith that does not require the archaic structure presented by the Bible.

I also have a Catholic friend who grew up in a rather poor socioeconomic sphere with a large focus on her religion. She is recently started questioning some of the beliefs and through our discussion I brought up the idea of reading the I-Ching, Sutras or w/e. Her reaction surprised me initially not so much in the content but in that I've run across many Christians who seem adverse to studying other such texts and for some reason it escaped my perspective on why. She stated "Just because I'm questioning Catholicism does not mean I want to be a Muslim." She believed that reading the Qu'ran would make her a Muslim. These institutions often teach that simply reading other religions texts relates to worship and becoming part of that religion. These are Christians. Why do you want to be associated with this or the Bible. I'm expect you probably feel that your interpretation is correct or closer to correct, and others get it wrong and you hope that at sometime these people will understand the true message of Christianity.

In Response to SpaceMilk, May 14th:
I'm not arguing human nature btw. I'm arguing against a structure, I suppose primarily the Bible, that condones in hatred and intolerance. States that you should stone a women for getting raped, that a man laying with another man as you would a woman offends God. This IS what the primary structure of the Christian faith states this and various other horrid things. Yet its worshipped. Now lets compare this to science
Wikipedia wrote:Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.


No where does the structure of the scientific method mention that you must harm people to be a good Scientist. I don't imagine that you partake in the majority of actions the Bible suggests, but it still suggests it. You don't feel this is flawed? That maybe the the its sub-sects needs to take a look at its foundations and re-evaluate using this Book as it is as a path to find God. What I'm not doing is arguing the nature of God, which it seems your leaning towards please correct me if this is false. I am arguing that Christianity, the Christianity that is based on the Bible is hugely flawed in its foundation and for some reason no one is willing to correct this.


There is great ambiguity in relation to God. So you may need to be more specific.
If God is omnipotent, you already interact with God, you are God.
As for him being supernatural, of course he wouldn't be supernatural anymore. If we found a scientific way of interacting with God by the very definition of supernatural he is no longer that. As for the rest, I've brought up no arguments about the nature of God for a large variety of reasons. Much of which are addressed here: http://echochamber.me/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=36107

To the second part of the God area, if I discovered everything then I would become the Christian God if he did not exist. If he does exist then I'm already God. And yes my laws of science challenge my theory until I can prove it, and thats the whole point of science. To empirically prove theories that work to explain all of existence.

You also seem to be confusing reason based off of axioms and science. Science does not justify oppression and slavery of black people. The only structure of science is what is quoted above. The basic structure of science only presents a way of thinking it does not preach intolerance hatred and oppression like the basic structure of christianity does (the bible).

Got to go for now. Hopefully can respond in a more timely manner in the future. Just reading over Space's May 15th post now.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Utnapishtim » Sun May 24, 2009 6:22 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:I'm arguing against a structure, I suppose primarily the Bible, that condones in hatred and intolerance. States that you should stone a women for getting raped, that a man laying with another man as you would a woman offends God. This IS what the primary structure of the Christian faith states this and various other horrid things. Yet its worshipped.


I've heard this often enough before, and-- can I try and lay this to rest?-- you're arguing against a straw man here. Don't confuse Christianity with certain ancient Hebrew traditions. Christianity-- that is, the teaching of Christ-- explicitly condemns things like stoning and hatred. Also, judgementalsim, intolerance, and exclusivity. And holy wars.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Mon May 25, 2009 7:35 pm UTC

Oh really? That's fascinating. I mean you've made that perfectly clear, and therefore the Christian holy book would consist solely of the teachings of Christ, no? Except, oh dear, it doesn't. These "ancient Hebrew traditions linger mysteriously as the large bulk that comprises a majority of the Christian holy book and is a basis for some teachings.

Christianity is a strange paradox like that: you've Christ saying "love thine enemy" and "do unto others as you would have them do to you" yet you have, even within the New Testament, people saying things like "suffer not the witch to live". I mean you can dismiss these things but nevertheless they're there and the vast majority of Christian traditions retain them in their holy writings. Despite the aforementioned maxim's of Christ we had heathens burned, homosexuals persecuted and feared, supposed heresy destroyed, contraceptives banned as but a fragment of the many crimes the annals of history lay at Christianity's doors. I don't confuse politics for religion here, I don't pin the crusades and other such things solely on religion; wars will always be fought. But things that come straight from the holy texts of Christianity, imperatives that go against "love thine enemy" and "turn the other cheek".

But let us ponder too what stipulations are forgotten, Christ's urges to abandon material wealth and live frugally despite modernity presenting us with the situation in which the majority of Christians live in capitalists countries. Christ urges fraternity of cooperation and mutual love instead of the more favored notion of a competitive, oligarchic, world.


Many religions which have extreme teachings and moral maxims in their books seem to engage in this strange practice of "leaving things out" or "that isn't literal" or "you're misinterpreting that". The simple truth is that most of the religious cherry-pick according to their sensibilities, to hidden-criteria they will later deny. Now falsified pseudo-science is discarded quickly as our viciously absolutist moral theories. What they miss though is that this is then there own morality, the very qualifications by which they selectively favor one teaching over another is in fact independent of religion but is their own moral conscience.
“People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Tue May 26, 2009 12:04 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Oh really? That's fascinating. I mean you've made that perfectly clear, and therefore the Christian holy book would consist solely of the teachings of Christ, no? Except, oh dear, it doesn't. These "ancient Hebrew traditions linger mysteriously as the large bulk that comprises a majority of the Christian holy book and is a basis for some teachings.

Well clearly. Why wouldn't the Bible include the complete history of salvation? Christianity, claiming to be the sole arbiter of religious truth to the extent that it claims, cannot operate as if its ideas were the only correct truths that have ever been around (although it claims to be the current correct truth). Before Christ, Christianity cannot expect people to have followed the teachings of Christ as they appear in the New Testament, which did not exist. Instead the only framework under which they could operate is one that looked forward to a Christ (indeed, Judaism did) and operated under the covenential rules and truths that existed then. The truth that the New Testament purports is therefore inextricably related to that of the Old Testament. The progression is as imporant as the indepenedent truths to Biblical Christianity, and is indeed a theme that is examined in a substantial of the Apostle Paul's writings.

But let us ponder too what stipulations are forgotten, Christ's urges to abandon material wealth and live frugally despite modernity presenting us with the situation in which the majority of Christians live in capitalists countries. Christ urges fraternity of cooperation and mutual love instead of the more favored notion of a competitive, oligarchic, world.
A Christian being born into a Capitalist country, in itself, is not counteracted by the teachings of Christ. Beyond that, I don't know what you're arguing. Christianity, on a doctrinal level, commands frugality whether or not the adherents follow it. So to say that this stipulation is "forgotten" is extremely ambiguous. If by forgotten you mean "followed poorly," then by self-proclaimed Christians as a whole, yes. However, American Evalngelical Christianity is not cheapened by the fact that the adherents are by birth rich, unless the adherents are not encouraged or commanded to shed material wealth for an accomplishment of something greater. Indeed, this action on a personal level is the only action that can be expected of the Christian, and indeed (alough apparently fairly exclusive to Evangelical America) there are marked statistical differences between the nonbeliever and the church-every-Sunday Christian in factors related to "shedding material wealth" such as monetary generosity. So for any commandment, you can expect Christians to not carry it out to the fullest extent as required by good Theology, but Christianity is still beneficially superior to non-religion if if at least succeeds in pushing believers further from the cultural norm.

It could be argued, with respect to American Christians being more likely to support Capitalistic practices (by voting) than then non-Christians, that in this action they disembark from Christ's commandments. However, the Christian is simply attempting to provide the greatest societal good. Indeed, the Christian can and should see it as a detriment to Christ's command to vote in a way that he or she is personally convinced will not help the societal good. Of course, the Christian may in fact be mistaken that Capitalism is best for society, but this is not a level of scholarship that the Christian can be expected, by Biblical commandment, to attain in order to make such a decision. In any case, the issue is one that is even debated by scholars of a much higher level than the average, personal Christian.

Many religions which have extreme teachings and moral maxims in their books seem to engage in this strange practice of "leaving things out" or "that isn't literal" or "you're misinterpreting that". The simple truth is that most of the religious cherry-pick according to their sensibilities, to hidden-criteria they will later deny. Now falsified pseudo-science is discarded quickly as our viciously absolutist moral theories. What they miss though is that this is then there own morality, the very qualifications by which they selectively favor one teaching over another is in fact independent of religion but is their own moral conscience.

In general, Christians have a much deeper (better) understanding of Biblical Theology than the nonbeliever, so will frequently be misunderstood by the nonbeleiver even if the judgement criteria is sound. And while moral conscience is often (to theological detriment) the reason for a Christian to choose one Theological interpretation over another, Theology in general is, like all studies, continued to be subject to better and better understandings. There is, in fact, a "best possible" interpretation of the Bible for any given set of hermaneutical assumptions, just as there is a standard of "the more true" or "more predictive" theory in science. The nonbeliever, if he is to interject into a Theological discussion, must understand this before passing your sort of judgement.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Azrael » Tue May 26, 2009 12:23 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Oh really? That's fascinating. I've made rather an ass out of myself.


Guess what kids, dripping sarcasm in SB is sooooooo last decade. Knock it off.

Mogh: You've been around this block a couple dozen times by now, and I know you're getting sick of it. I will thank you to continue to take the higher road.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Utnapishtim » Tue May 26, 2009 3:27 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:...yet you have, even within the New Testament, people saying things like "suffer not the witch to live". I mean you can dismiss these things ...


... and I will. "Suffer not a witch to live" is in the book of Exodus. It's among a list of laws for the ancient nation of Israel. If you're not an ancient Israelite, you don't have to follow those laws. No such thing is in the New Testament, which doesn't call for the death of anyone. Most of the Old Testament is record, not doctrine, and Christ did endeavor to make it clear that many of the practices found therein should not be perpetuated.

So many people get their ideas about what's in the Bible from hearsay, rather than actually looking it up to check.

Anyway, back to the relationship of...

Science and Religion:

No one has yet brought up the idea, as articulated by Stephen Jay Gould, of "Non-Overlapping Magisteria." To explain...
Spoiler:
Gould put forward what he described as "a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to ... the supposed conflict between science and religion." He defines the term magisterium as "a domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution" and the NOMA principle is "the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty)."

Science tells you how the natural universe works; Religion tells you meaning and morals. It seems evident to me that Science can't possibly encroach on this religious domain-- as Terry Pratchett wrote, "take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy." It's been said that meaning and morals are imaginary-- constructed by people-- but that can only be a supposition. No empirical evidence is ever going to "disprove" meaning or morals.

Does Religion, then, extend into Science's territory? Critics of Gould's NOMA idea say yeah-- Religion necissarily makes claims about how the natural universe works.

At this juncture here, people have to agree upon what they mean by "Religion." Gould seems to mean "moral philosophy," which is why he insists that they do not overlap. Other people seem to mean "mythology"-- mythology being an unscientific explanation for something in nature, which barges in on Science's domain with a flagrant irrationality. Religion also makes claims about the supernatural. And Science has nothing to do with the supernatural.

So it appears to me that Science and Religion do in fact not overlap-- they serve two different purposes-- except for when Religion includes Mythology, which is not the whole of religion, nor even any part of some people's religious beliefs. Essentially, the problem is Mythology, not Religion.

I don't know the details of other religions as well, but there's nothing inherently in Christianity which interferes with science*, despite what many Christians would lead you to believe.
As Augustine of Hippo wrote (back in the early 5th century!):
Spoiler:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.


- De Genesi ad literam libri duodecim (The Literal interpretation of Genesis), Chapt. 19


*Miracles? I really don't think so. A miracle by definition is something which defies the mechanics of nature. The reality is, discovering and codifying the rules of the universe will never tell you whether or not they can be broken.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu May 28, 2009 8:32 am UTC

Utnapishtim wrote:If you're not an ancient Israelite, you don't have to follow those laws. No such thing is in the New Testament, which doesn't call for the death of anyone. Most of the Old Testament is record, not doctrine, and Christ did endeavor to make it clear that many of the practices found therein should not be perpetuated.

So many people get their ideas about what's in the Bible from hearsay, rather than actually looking it up to check.
Most Christians have historically followed those laws, in addition many of them follow some of those laws now, especially within the states.

Matthew 10 speaks of imposing will upon others, engaging in illegal action, bringing conflict to our own family and finds intolerance in atheists, agnostics, and believers in other religions. Oh and the old testament is the Bible. So if you want to change that to new testament then fine, but the Bible does say those things.


Science and Christianity:
Science gives us tools to think. It's goal is to give understanding of existence.
It talks of morals within the fields of at least psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology and political science. And gives reasoning for those morals without requiring faith. So it most definitely encroaches on religious domain. You seem to have a misconception of what science is. Empirical evidence can disprove false morals. It can also give us morals.

I do not know what you mean by "Religion tells you meaning" define meaning.

Christianity makes claims about how existence works yes. Thats all it does. The lack of over lap is in structure, not what the structure speaks of.

Science is in absolute direct correlation to the supernatural. The natural existence is everything science defines, thus the supernatural is everything it does not. As we define more things more of existence becomes natural and less of it supernatural.

The problem with Christianity is not mythology, part of the problem with Christianity is its structures inability to state what is supposed to be mythology within its self. Also Christianity does inherently interfere with science. The simplest example being the creation of the universe in 7 days.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bentheimmigrant » Thu May 28, 2009 10:24 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Most Christians have historically followed those laws, in addition many of them follow some of those laws now, especially within the states.

Matthew 10 speaks of imposing will upon others, engaging in illegal action, bringing conflict to our own family and finds intolerance in atheists, agnostics, and believers in other religions. Oh and the old testament is the Bible. So if you want to change that to new testament then fine, but the Bible does say those things.


The bible does say those things, but you have to view it through the Christian doctrine: The law (Old Testament rules) was made imperfect because of the inability of the sacrifice of animals to remove sin. People were unable to keep the law, which is there to show what sin is. Under the New Covenant, a Christian is not expected to keep the outward signs of the law (that is, the rituals and the actions), but to have their actions dictated by pure motives. This is actually a higher requirement than the law.

I suggest you read (or re-read) Romans and Hebrews.

Zcorp wrote:Science and Christianity:
Science gives us tools to think. It's goal is to give understanding of existence.
It talks of morals within the fields of at least psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology and political science. And gives reasoning for those morals without requiring faith. So it most definitely encroaches on religious domain. You seem to have a misconception of what science is. Empirical evidence can disprove false morals. It can also give us morals.

I do not know what you mean by "Religion tells you meaning" define meaning.

Christianity makes claims about how existence works yes. Thats all it does. The lack of over lap is in structure, not what the structure speaks of.

Science is in absolute direct correlation to the supernatural. The natural existence is everything science defines, thus the supernatural is everything it does not. As we define more things more of existence becomes natural and less of it supernatural.

The problem with Christianity is not mythology, part of the problem with Christianity is its structures inability to state what is supposed to be mythology within its self. Also Christianity does inherently interfere with science. The simplest example being the creation of the universe in 7 days.



First, I think "correlation" does not mean what you think it means.

Second, being able to define a natural universe which a being may or may not have created does not exclude the existence of said being. I would say that the only real conflict between Christianity and Science is the account of creation. In my experience, others are created either by ignorance or caricature. There are many views out there, and to say that there is one singular Christian explanation is just silly. God directed evolution is quite common, and does not conflict with any scientific theory (except maybe the scientist's personal theory that God does not exist). There are many Christians who believe that the current scientific theory is wrong. And no matter how much you disagree or dislike that, they are not wrong simply for challenging a scientific theory.

By the way, I am a Christian and a scientist. As I am not an evolutionary scientist or astrophysicist, I find no conflict between my faith and my work.
"Comment is free, but facts are sacred" - C.P. Scott

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Utnapishtim » Thu May 28, 2009 3:10 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Most Christians have historically followed those laws, in addition many of them follow some of those laws now, especially within the states.

Matthew 10 speaks of imposing will upon others, engaging in illegal action, bringing conflict to our own family and finds intolerance in atheists, agnostics, and believers in other religions. Oh and the old testament is the Bible. So if you want to change that to new testament then fine, but the Bible does say those things.


Matthew 10 speaks of persecution against Christians. Engaging in illegal action? Sure, if Christianity is illegal, as it was before Constantine. Bringing conflict to one's family? Yeah, if you convert to a new religion, there's going to be disagreement. Imposing will upon others? It says the opposite of that; if someone will not receive your words, just leave it. Intolerance? I don't see anything like that? Quote it.

It seems like you're trying to make the Bible say what you want it to say. I'm uninterested in opinions about the Bible. I just want to set the facts straight about what it actually says. Justify your dislike of Christianity however you like, but creating a straw man out of the actual doctrine of Christianity (as distinct from the practice of Christianity) is not the way to do it.

The Old Testament is part of the Christian Bible. But it is not doctrine. It is a record. It doesn't say, "you, reader of this book, should kill the Phillistines." It says "once upon a time, the ancient Israelites defeated the ancient Philistines in battle." That's the essential difference. That holds true regardless of what many Christians have historically done with it.

Zcorp wrote:Science and Christianity:
Science gives us tools to think. It's goal is to give understanding of existence.
It talks of morals within the fields of at least psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology and political science. And gives reasoning for those morals without requiring faith. So it most definitely encroaches on religious domain. You seem to have a misconception of what science is. Empirical evidence can disprove false morals. It can also give us morals.

I do not know what you mean by "Religion tells you meaning" define meaning.

Christianity makes claims about how existence works yes. Thats all it does. The lack of over lap is in structure, not what the structure speaks of.

Science is in absolute direct correlation to the supernatural. The natural existence is everything science defines, thus the supernatural is everything it does not. As we define more things more of existence becomes natural and less of it supernatural.

The problem with Christianity is not mythology, part of the problem with Christianity is its structures inability to state what is supposed to be mythology within its self. Also Christianity does inherently interfere with science. The simplest example being the creation of the universe in 7 days.


Until science discovers good quarks and evil quarks, it has nothing to say about morality. Here I mean by morality not "what society considers acceptable behavior," but morality as in "the basis for any value judgment." Right and wrong.

Why is intolerance wrong? Because it oppresses. Why is oppression wrong? But it takes away freedom. Why is freedom good? Because people like to be free. Why is it right that you should give people what they like? Because...
You should do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

How does that come from science?

Also "supernature" does not mean "undiscovered nature." It means that which is not nature. Free will (real or not), for instance, is supernatural. By definition it is that which is independent from the cause and effect of nature.

The problem is mythology, as Augustine pointed out. The 7 days story is an ancient Hebrew myth. It has NO importance to the teachings of Christ. I understand your confusion; they are traditionally bound together in the same book. But the pure, logical fact remains: the teachings of Christ do not require the world to be made in 7 days.

If the discussion doesn't go anywhere new, I'm not going to volley disagreement back and forth.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Pansori » Thu May 28, 2009 4:15 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:
Second, being able to define a natural universe which a being may or may not have created does not exclude the existence of said being. I would say that the only real conflict between Christianity and Science is the account of creation.


I don't believe there is any possibly way the account of creation could be reconciled with modern science. The ancients in that region did not think in terms of empirical evidence, scientific method, or critical observation; and really the Eden story is secondary to the more important narrative of the OT: the Exodus. Either which way, there is a message to such stories like Job, Jonah, and the creation account but when one looks at the stories from a literal perspective they tend to lose sight (or never really see) what the original meaning was.

Also, to Zcorp and Utnapishtim, the Book of Matthew is easily the most historically unreliable of the four gospels. It is the gospel that was written the latest and also presents Jesus in the most Godly and superhuman light (in part because it was written so late). I would hesitate to quote anything out of the BoMat, be it in argument for or against Christianity.

Utnapishtim wrote:It is a record. It doesn't say, "you, reader of this book, should kill the Phillistines." It says "once upon a time, the ancient Israelites defeated the ancient Philistines in battle." That's the essential difference. That holds true regardless of what many Christians have historically done with it.


I disagree with this, the New Testament is also a record, it is a record of the teachings of Jesus and the ministries of people like Paul. The gospels are technically classified as ancient biographies, records of Jesus' life, though their reliability depends on which gospel you're speaking of.

It is easy to forget the historical aspects of the Bible, and that science has done its part to help establish the historicity of it. It's not just a book of fairy tales based on faith, but at the very least an account of an ancient group of people and their culture, all the way up to the NT.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Utnapishtim » Thu May 28, 2009 4:35 pm UTC

Pansori wrote:Also, to Zcorp and Utnapishtim, the Book of Matthew is easily the most historically unreliable of the four gospels. It is the gospel that was written the latest and also presents Jesus in the most Godly and superhuman light (in part because it was written so late). I would hesitate to quote anything out of the BoMat, be it in argument for or against Christianity.

You're thinking of the gospel of John. And I'm only concerned with the content of the Bible here, not its veracity-- what does the Bible actually say? Just straightening out matters of fact.

Pansori wrote:...the New Testament is also a record, it is a record of the teachings of Jesus and the ministries of people like Paul. The gospels are technically classified as ancient biographies, records of Jesus' life, though their reliability depends on which gospel you're speaking of.

Mm-hm.
Reliability of the text aside, a Christian by definition is someone who bases their life and beliefs on the life and teachings of Christ, as recorded in the New Testament. The fact that professed Christians (Christian the noun) end up modeling their life and beliefs on other things doesn't change the definition of "Christian," that is-- "of Christ" (Christian the adjective).
Last edited by Utnapishtim on Thu May 28, 2009 6:48 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu May 28, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

Utnapishtim wrote:Intolerance? I don't see anything like that? Quote it.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

God is intolerant those who care more for father, mother, son or daughter then God. Those who do not follow him also met with that intolerance.

He says those who do not worship him about all else are of no value to him. Now this is not what I actually infer from this passage, my opinion of this passage is quite different. I believe it to be one of the best passages in the bible in what I infer from it. But as the Bible is way way to ambiguous in language the majority of people infer something very different then I do. Making it very flawed.

Can you quote the new testament and show me where it states that the Old testament offers not doctrine that a Christian should follow. The 10 commandments and various other things are doctrine as far as every Christian I've met.

You don't believe that science offers a basis in which to judge value? That it does not offer or is not part of Quality.
Also now you it seems you need to define what is moral and what is not. What you consider right and wrong. Your taking this argument down the path that just leads to to much subjective discussion and nothing objective, away from Quality.

Intolerance is wrong because it leads to an oppressive group think that stifles creativity. Although that is not to say all intolerance is wrong. But Christianity is specifically intolerant of different thought in addition to things like murder. Your logic cause and effect is flawed right at the beginning. Intolerance does not necessarily oppress. It can only oppress if it has power offer the group that is found intolerant. The problem with intolerance is lack of acceptance. Intolerance is indicative of a greater problem, your building it up the wrong way. That at what causes intolerance not what intolerance can cause.

And "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is found across a variety of different fields in science. Not only is it found there it is improved upon.

Supernatural:
Wikipedia, The term supernatural or supranatural (Latin: super, supra "above" + natura "nature") pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe.
Merrian-Websters, of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe
Dictionary.com, of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.

How is free will or not unnatural?

The problem is mythology, as Augustine pointed out. The 7 days story is an ancient Hebrew myth. It has NO importance to the teachings of Christ. I understand your confusion; they are traditionally bound together in the same book. But the pure, logical fact remains: the teachings of Christ do not require the world to be made in 7 days.
Then remove it from the Bible. Or state it very specifically as fictitious. So that the significant amount of misinterpretations found in followers across nearly all of the sects of Christianity can be stopped.

If the discussion doesn't go anywhere new, I'm not going to volley disagreement back and forth.

If you wanted to address my point about the inherit flaws within the structure of the Bible and its negative effect on our society that would be wonderful. You cherry picked a single point among many that created my argument of this that I made on May 22nd. If you wish to address the issue more directly I would enjoy it.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Utnapishtim » Thu May 28, 2009 5:40 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Can you quote the new testament and show me where it states that the Old testament offers not doctrine that a Christian should follow.

Already did:
Utnapishtim, as you can see if you scroll up the page, already wrote:
Zcorp wrote:I'm arguing against a structure, I suppose primarily the Bible, that condones in hatred and intolerance. States that you should stone a women for getting raped, that a man laying with another man as you would a woman offends God. This IS what the primary structure of the Christian faith states this and various other horrid things. Yet its worshipped.


I've heard this often enough before, and-- can I try and lay this to rest?-- you're arguing against a straw man here. Don't confuse Christianity with certain ancient Hebrew traditions. Christianity-- that is, the teaching of Christ-- explicitly condemns things like stoning and hatred.


This isn't going anywhere so this is my last reply unless something new comes up.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Thu May 28, 2009 8:31 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:God is intolerant those who care more for father, mother, son or daughter then God. Those who do not follow him also met with that intolerance.

You probably wonder why Utnapushtim didn't respond to this... And it's because it doesn't really deserve a response. The passage you give doesn't come close to telling Christians to be actively intolerant of non-believers, which was your original claim. God rejecting those who reject Him is exactly the thing you'd expect given Christianity's message, and you can classify this as God being intolerant if you'd like, but it's irrelevant to the point you were making in the first place.

Can you quote the new testament and show me where it states that the Old testament offers not doctrine that a Christian should follow. The 10 commandments and various other things are doctrine as far as every Christian I've met.

This request is similar to a request I gave in the Science forum, where I asked for people to list the historical, evolutionary things for which science is quite certain. The response I was given is similar to the response I'll give you: Find yourself a good translation of the Bible and a good commentary and read through the New Testament yourself... What you ask for is rampant, obvious, and easily accessible. The doctrine surrounding the transition from old-style Judaism to modern Christianity through the teachings and actions of Jesus is a vastly complex subject, one for which you don't seem to have a very deep understanding.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu May 28, 2009 8:35 pm UTC

Utnapishtim wrote:Already did:

No you provided one example where Christ says that one example of the old testament should be looked at differently. Not that all of the old testament is called to be just history.

Your argument is a straw-man:
The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of "reasoning" has the following pattern:

Person A has position X.
Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
Person B attacks position Y.
Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.
This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person.


This isn't going anywhere so this is my last reply unless something new comes up.

Your right, its cause your not interested in discussion. Your seem to consider this a debate that you hope to win with rhetoric, rather treating this as a discussion and making grammar and logic our primary means of communication. If you stepped away from your fallacious arguments, read what I actually typed and then tried to further that discussion we may find progression.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Thu May 28, 2009 8:46 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:No you provided one example where Christ says that one example of the old testament should be looked at differently. Not that all of the old testament is called to be just history.

Incidentally, the former is exactly what you asked for, and the latter is not something Utnapishtim ever endorsed.

This is ironic, coming from somebody who just condescendingly defined the word "straw-man" in the Serious Business forum. I'm out of the discussion as well. I'm sure Az will have something to say soon.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Pansori » Thu May 28, 2009 8:48 pm UTC

Ahh, you are correct, Utnapishtim, I was mistaken and I I stand corrected.
I also like the broadness of your definition of Christianity (no sarcasm).

Zcorp wrote:
The problem is mythology, as Augustine pointed out. The 7 days story is an ancient Hebrew myth. It has NO importance to the teachings of Christ. I understand your confusion; they are traditionally bound together in the same book. But the pure, logical fact remains: the teachings of Christ do not require the world to be made in 7 days.
Then remove it from the Bible. Or state it very specifically as fictitious. So that the significant amount of misinterpretations found in followers across nearly all of the sects of Christianity can be stopped.


But anyone who does any kind of Biblical studies that is not a fundamental POV recognize that the creation story is not to be taken literally. No reason to remove it, it is a Hebrew story that is important in that it does tie in with and lead up to other pivotal events in the Bible as well as outlining the mentality of the culture at that time.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu May 28, 2009 9:02 pm UTC

MoghLiechty2 wrote: The passage you give doesn't come close to telling Christians to be actively intolerant of non-believers, which was your original claim. God rejecting those who reject Him is exactly the thing you'd expect given Christianity's message, and you can classify this as God being intolerant if you'd like, but it's irrelevant to the point you were making in the first place.


Maybe I did not successfully articulate my point to begin with, I thought I had.
I at first had two points.
1. This thread is not discussing religion, it is discussing Christianity
2. That Christianity is not accepting of science.

My first point got completely ignored. My second point began a discussion working to define Christianity. As Christianity is a broad term covering a variety of different sects I first tried to define what Christianity meant in its broadest sense. On May 12th I posted and found out some of the complications inherent to the discussion from your response. On May 22nd I posted again and tried harder to define what Christianity is so that the discussion (a discourse based in grammar) could progress.

At this point Utnapishtim jumped in and worked to clarify some aspects of the new testament which contradict the old testament, and give some meaning to what the Christianity might mean. Then throws up a argument that science offers no moral guidance. Which is quite the red herring from my points. Then creates a new argument requesting why intolerance is wrong. And works to define what he means by supernatural. So now we are a bit off topic and maybe your right I should not of indulged Utnapishtim's red herring and change of topic and stuck to my original points.

This request is similar to a request I gave in the Science forum, where I asked for people to list the historical, evolutionary things for which science is quite certain. The response I was given is similar to the response I'll give you: Find yourself a good translation of the Bible and a good commentary and read through the New Testament yourself... What you ask for is rampant, obvious, and easily accessible. The doctrine surrounding the transition from old-style Judaism to modern Christianity through the teachings and actions of Jesus is a vastly complex subject, one for which you don't seem to have a very deep understanding.
I have quite a deep understanding of the subject, yet am quite surprised that neither you nor Utnapishtim is willing to address my points and instead use rhetoric to try to achieve a victory instead of grammar for a mutual benefit in understanding.
Last edited by Zcorp on Sun May 31, 2009 3:38 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.


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