Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A problem I have with Christianity:

If God created Humans-- then he created us with rational thinking brains.
Using my rational thinking brain I cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.
God is willing to send me to hell for all of eternity because I do not believe in him.

It seems to me that the failing is not mine... it seems as though God should make himself a little more apparent. The fact that he is willing to send me to hell for all of eternity because I don't believe in him makes me glad that I don't worship him. What kind of monster would send anybody to hell for all of eternity because they didn't believe in him? Especially when it could have been avoided if God only had the gumption to show himself in a little more apparent way. We spend around 80 years on this earth... I can't imagine anything that would warrant an eternity in hell... that's a ridiculous punishment.

58 Comments:

Anonymous elliott said...

heaven and hell are two places i hear spoken about as if they are real places. what is it that convinces people a specific place exists for believers and a different one for non-believers? and, as mentioned in jeffs post, why should we spend eternity there? why does something have to exist at all?

i am undecided about what happens after death, but not on whether there is a heaven and hell. i think something could happen to our souls, but not eternal damnation or eternal salvation. that seems to convenient of a way to keep people caring about the consequences of their actions.

heaven and hell are not necessay anymore.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

If it were so simple for God to make Himself apparent to us don’t you think He’d do it? God created us to be with Him, He doesn’t want for us to spend eternity apart from Him. Whether that place apart is one of punishment or one for people to go because they didn’t believe in Him…because why would anybody who hates God and doesn’t think He exists want to spend eternity in a place where God is everywhere…is unknown to me. God is love, and that love would allow Him to do whatever He could to make sure we know He is real. Do you think that if God knocked on your door tomorrow you would believe that it was Him? Obviously if He came in the form He is in now we wouldn’t be able to see Him, just as we can’t see Him now. So if He came in human form, would you believe it was Him? Would you be cynical and think it was some crazy man on your door step telling you He was God? Wait, He’s already done this…become flesh so that man would know Him…and if my memory serves me correctly, people saw Him walk, heard Him preach, and saw His miracles and still decided that He was lying and hung Him on a cross. So what do you suggest He do?? Force you to believe in Him? That would be taking away your free will, and I’m judging from the way you feel about sending people to hell as being an injustice, that not having your own free will would be an injustice too. As far as your brain that He gave you that you should be able to use to discern whether or not He is real, I will ask you to remember the millions of people who God gave brains to that didn’t ever learn how to use them properly. Even some of the most brilliant minds screwed everything up and ended up killing tons of people in the process. God didn’t even intend for us to have to worry about right or wrong, true or false. If you remember the tree of knowledge was the one Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from. God knew that this insatiable thirst to know all things would be our ruin, and in fact it was. Because of Christ, all we have to do is try. All we have to do is say “God, I’m not sure, but I want to know you, I want to know if you’re real, and I’m going to have FAITH that you will reveal yourself to me if I attempt to meet you half way.” What is so hard about that? What is so evil about a god who says “all you have to do is try”? Also, I would hope that a God who is so great would be too big for me to comprehend, to big for anyone to completely comprehend; otherwise He really wouldn’t seem to me to be much of a God. It is the fact that there are so many questions, the fact that I cannot know everything, that keeps me intrigued about what He will do next. I think if I knew all the answers I would become bored, unsatisfied. There would be nothing left for us to learn; nothing left for you to debate about.

10:48 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

God is all powerful-- So I think he could make me know that he exists.

As for all the people that saw the miracles of Jesus... I would like to see non-biblical evidence that any of those things happened.

I don't hate God and I don't think that he doesn't exist-- I just KNOW that I can't prove whether or not he exists. I just think it's insane to send me to hell for eternity because of that.

I have tried to have faith-- I had faith for 16 years of my life-- it just wasn't enough for me. I felt like I was having a relationship with a wall... it's a completely one sided relationship.

Plus faith is just one of the most obvious cons I've ever seen in my life. Faith is like an infomercial where instead of the host showing you all the things that the product can do-- he just says-- "I can't show you everything this product can do-- so just believe me, without any evidence, that it can do everything I say it can do-- Just send money and you'll see!"

I've tried... and I've asked God many times to show himself to me or somehow let me know that he is there... everytime i've been left with the same answer-- silence.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous chas said...

The Bible says that it is the purpose of humans to worship God. It is the reason we were created by him. Knowing this, and also knowing that the Bible also says that we were created in God's image, I do not think it is outrageous to assume that God's desire is to give us the same free will that he has.
In order to be a leader, whether it be of a country, a business, or a universe, one has to have followers. For the sake of simplicity and example I will break followers down into two groups: willing and unwilling. Willing followers are interested in the success of the endeavor that one is leading, while unwilling followers are doing it for some reason that forces them. I think it is safe to assume that willing followers are, as a whole, better than unwilling followers.
As an omnipotent being, by definition, God is not limited in his ability to create. Is it not then probable, and indeed highly likely, that God would create humans with free will in order to get the best kind of followers, rather than enslaving their minds into some belief that they may not want to have? It isn't as if the information isn't all right there in the Bible, and belief in hell is just as illogical as a belief in God is, so if you don't believe in God because of logical barriers, why are you worried about him sending anyone to an equally illogical hell?

Additionally, I am curious who decided it was an axiom that we have to make every decision according to the rules of logic and reason. Especially when one thinks about the fact that the God you don't believe in has just as much logical proof for existence as the rules of logic that people attempt to prove or disprove him by. (Depends on what you mean by logical proof, but my point is that rules like logic and math actually don't have proof of existence, they are based on the way our mind groups information from our senses. You might argue that math and logic have never been proven wrong, but that is debatable, in fact there are contradictions within logic. Additionally others would argue that the Bible has never been proven wrong.)

1:59 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Chas,

I think it is possible for God to make himself more apparent and still allow for free will. Personally, I know I would be willing to worship him and thank him for my existence if I knew that he was responsible for my creation.

I don't believe that there is no God. If I were an athiest I wouldn't be worried about Hell. But since I think there is a chance that God does exist-- it does concern me that God might send me to hell because I can't discern whether he exists or not... which I think is much more his fault more than it is mine.

As for which axioms to use... I chose logic and reason. To argue one must first agree upon some axiomatic system and then argue from there. So if you do not agree with logic or reason then I suppose we cannot have an argument.

So why choose logic and reason?

First, you can't compare the existence of math or logic to the existence of God... Math and logic are truths by definition-- it is not as though they can be proven wrong... they can only be modified. Mathematics and logic don't exist out in the real world. We don't need to prove that they exist. God is a being-- math and logic are concepts.

It would be impossible to argue that we should not use reason... to argue against it is to use it.

I realize the Bible may have never been proven wrong-- that is why I never said Christianity is wrong... it's just that if Christianity is right-- God is a huge asshole for sending people to hell for eternity.

5:18 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

A correction:

I said: "God is all powerful-- So I think he could make me know that he exists."

I should have said: "God is all powerful-- So I think he could allow for me to know that he exists."

Chas is right-- "make" wouldn't allow for free will.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous chas said...

Another thing to think about:
God gave you a rational thinking brain, along with many other tools. In fact, one of the other tools, the Bible, could be considered a manual on how to use your rational brain to believe in God (among other things). It is conditional on absolute belief in the Bible. That may sound like it isn't logical, but think about someone who had never seen a gun before, and never seen one fired. If this person recieves a gun, and instructions from the gun's manufacturer on how to fire it properly. Sure this guy could probably deduce that the bullet comes out of the little bullet sized hole, using logic and reason, but reading the manual, in all likelyhood, would end up with a much better result. Since the manual came from the manufacturer, its accuracy isn't questioned, and it will end up with the proper result, when followed properly.

And yea, I made this whole post so I could relate christianity to guns

7:55 PM  
Anonymous chas said...

ok i am high yes and there are grammar errors cuz i didn't proofread. god created pot though - fact

7:56 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I actually like that argument... i've never heard it before... fresh.

It just runs into the problem of proving whether or not the text of the Bible is actually the word of God. Which is especially difficult when the gospels were written 30 years after the death of Christ and when around half of the new testament was written by a guy who never met Jesus.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

As for the whole manual business, the manual you are specifically referring to was written by various men around 100 AD and then compiled by other men who were part of an extremely corrupt organization. Anything that didn't fit with the views of the organization was censored, banned, and made extremely dangerous to possess. Going back to your manual analogy, it's as if a person receives a gun, and the manual doesn't show up for another 10,000 years, and when it does show up it wasn't even written by the manufacturer.

And always it is about Christianity. The other great faiths of the world are ignored, because they do not fit into your restricted view of the world. From a strictly Christian perspective they are going to hell. 4 billion people. But that's ok, because according to some other religion, you're going to hell. Or you'll be reborn as a cow. Which is ok, because some cows are sacred, or maybe produce milk all their lives. It could be worse.

So, God didn't give us the Bible, we made it ourselves, along with everything else we possess. At best there have been teachers blessed with divinity that have shown us the way. Perhaps a few people just figure out something that works, and then are kind enough to share it with the rest of us, and then we deify them. Either way, do not point to your Bible and tell me it is sacred; it declares itself sacred, but it was not sacred when it was written until a group of men decided to make it so. Most likely you all believe Joseph Smith was something of a crackpot, and yet there are a good number of people who believe he was a prophet, touched by the hand of God. You think, "But I am not a Mormon, my beliefs are rational, theirs are not." And so we are all blind to ourselves, and it is impossible to see how narrow a separation exists between people of any faith.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Just for clarification. This statement is incorrect: "From a strictly Christian perspective they are going to hell."

A truly Christian perspective would not declare that a person will go to hell because they do or do not believe in Christ. God desires to bring everyone to Him. It's just a matter of taking the highway or the service road or a back alley; all of them will get there, just some of them will be faster. This may be a poor analogy, but the point is that how you get there is not so important as getting there. It is far better to seek God and find Him with varying degrees of success, than to find Him and reject Him anyways (which people have done, continue to do, and will do). God loves abundantly; if He created you, then He wants you to be with Him for eternity.

This brings me to the other point that needs clarification (and has been slightly addressed in other posts): God does NOT condemn anyone to hell. As I said before, God loves every person He has created more than you can possibly imagine. As such, He will do anything to bring people closer to Him. He will not impose Himself on others, however; in fact, oftentimes He will not even reveal Himself without the seekers prompting because doing so would be so powerful as to override the seeker's free will.

This brings us to how hell can then possibly exist: People freely choose whether or not they will go to hell. If there were no alternative to heaven, there would be no true free will. God suffers in allowing people to choose against Him, but if you were in a relationship with someone, would you rather they be forced to love you or freely choose you? The former may seem easier, but the latter is a truer love (the highest form being agape, or sacrificial love). Because God didn't want us to go to hell without a truly advised decision, however, He sent us His Son, Jesus, to help make things easier. This is why Christians advocate believing in the Bible and Jesus. This does not, however, exclude the others as being able to reveal God in ways. It just might be more difficult to believe that God wants us to be with Him in heaven if, say, we are supposed to be reincarnated each time we die.

I digress. Heaven is not a reward for good actions, and hell is not a punishment for bad actions. I could be an incredibly great person, but be motivated by pride, meaning all my works were not for God but for my own selfish ends. On the other hand, I could be a corrupt individual who, due to my parents' influence on me, never really understood what a kind action was, and therefore could not freely choose it. Both cases are counter-examples for the common line of thinking about heaven and hell. The real question is: how are my actions and motivations leading me closer to the all-loving God who created me and therefore making it easier for me to choose Him in the end? The actions are not so important in and of themselves as are the internal dispositions they engender. I, for example, still sin against God all the time, and I am sorry for it; however, to admit that I am not a sinner would be preposterous. I just know that God loves me enough to continue to change my heart, and I hope (yes, hope) that His working in me will soften my heart enough to say "Yes" to Him the day I die.

If, on the other hand, all of my actions lead me to believe that I am not worthy to be loved, even when God freely offers it, then choosing God at the end of my life will be much more difficult. It's difficult indeed for us to even understand unconditional love in our world of illicit sex, getting play, or any other selfish motivations that truly drive our desires to be with another. This will be much more difficult for us to accept if we then see ourselves for what we truly are, in the mirror of the final judgment, where, curiously enough, it is not so much God who judges us as we who judge ourselves. Seeing what the scars and stains from our actions made us to be will be quite difficult to handle. Some will choose to turn away from God's unconditional love, then, because they cannot believe that God would love someone as internally ugly as he or she became throughout his or her life. Choosing God now, however, will make His love much easier to accept, because in choosing Him, we have already humbled ourselves to His love here in this life.

I could probably go on with more analogies, but I am getting tired, it's finals week, and I have done very little actual studying thus far. So I hope that this is comprehensible. Please leave me your thoughts. God bless.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

An interesting excerpt from the "In the Woods" chapter of Let the Fire Fall, the autobiography of the Franciscan priest Michael Scanlan:

"Who is God? What can I know about him? What is my relationship with him? [...] I was convinced that God was behind the creation I was experiencing [while looking at the stars from a boat in the ocean], but I did not know what that meant or who he was. [...] A borrowed faith like mine is inevitably tested.... [My] testing came through a philosophy class.... By late fall 1950, this class had moved me to such a profound level of doubt and relativity that I wasn't sure of anything.... This included my belief in God.... If I couldn't prove that I exist, what chance did I have of proving that God exists? [...] I had the good sense to realize that the answer had to come from God, not from my confused mind. On the night before my nineteenth birthday, December 1, 1950, I decided to take the next day off and go to God. I bundled up in warm clothing the next morning, took a notebook and pen, and went off into the woods near the campus. I told God my predicament as well as I could. I was too much the confused student to really cry out to God. I knew that he understood my problem better than I did--that is, if he existed. So I simply said something like this: "I know you don't want me to be confused, so lost, so uncertain about everything. Especially you. If you are there, will you let me know?" To let God know how serious I was, I vowed to stay in the woods until he made things clear. It sounds like I was challenging God, almost putting him to the test. My "prayer" does, in fact have an element of youthful bravado in it. But it was the right prayer to pray. I know that God led me to do it. If you are confused or doubting, seek the Lord. He who seeks will find. The door will be opened to him who knocks. The sincere prayer of the seeker will be answered. My prayer was not answered for half a day.... Then, about 9:30 at night, in the cold and darkness of the woods, I suddenly became a believer. My spirit was moved by God himself; he visited me. I was very quickly and very unexpectedly filled with faith.... My infilling with faith was important for what it wasn't. It wasn't something that I had conjured up on my own.... Neither was the experience something achieved through heroic prayer.... No, my experience in the woods was something God did. Only after I stopped thinking and straining to understand did he act. That was the point of it. He takes the initiative with us. We need God. He reaches out to us in our need when we turn to him with simplicity. When we reach the end of our resources, he acts."

Okay, so that was a lengthy excerpt, but I think it captures the heart of the search for God, of faith.

I just wanted to put this up here for reading. I do not claim that Fr. Scanlan's experience in the woods is provable. I merely offer it as one person's experience in coming to know God.

3:08 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

I'm confused. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." So what happens to those who do not believe in Jesus Christ? I'll admit that the verse is vague, and believing in Jesus does not necessarily mean believing in Jesus as divine, but it's fairly well understood.

You still don't make sense. Which is to be expected, we live in two entirely different worlds. But, you seem to think that you must say yes to God on the day you die in order to avoid hell. What does this mean for Buddhists, or Hindus? A literal belief in the Bible indicates that most of the world is going to hell, because most of the world does not and will not meet the requirements to enter heaven. You may conveniently decide that that is no longer to be taken literally, that doctrine that has been followed for a thousand years can be tossed out the window, but that makes you just as relative as the atheists and agnostics. So what's it going to be? Jesus is not the only way to heaven, or 4 billion people are going to hell?

3:46 AM  
Anonymous chas said...

As I understand it, being a Christian is necessarily accepting the Bible as God-breathed scripture. As such, its existence did not depend on those people who wrote it. Part of christianity is necessarily accepting the Bible as objective truth. In fact, some translations of the Bible refer to God the Father (in the Bible, God is referred to as a holy trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) as God the Word, meaning that the Bible is in fact a part of God, and could also be considered God's earthly evidence of existence. So, the Bible is in fact a part of what God is. As such, Christians MUST consider it irrefutable and absolute. This being the case, the Bible says that if you do not believe and have not accepted Jesus Christ as the lord of your life, then on the day of judgement he will say 'Depart from me, for I never knew thee.' It may seem harsh, but it is clearly spelled out in the Bible exactly how to go about knowing him and saving oneself from sin.
I don't see how you can say that it is God sending us to hell, when the whole theory behind God sending us to hell is based on a book with specific instructions on how not to go to hell. Seems as if that is like saying it is the gun manufacturer's fault you got shot, when you were the one that loaded the gun and pulled the trigger. Is it their fault you didn't follow the instructions properly?

10:58 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

It may be true-- but it's based on weak, circular reasoning.

You should believe in God because the scripture says so... you should believe in the scripture because God says so (in the scripture).

I'd like something outside the circle... it's very possible that man created that circle to trick gullible people into believing in their God.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous chas said...

my point wasn't about belief, it was about god sending people to hell. belief in hell is conditional on a belief in the bible (when i say hell i mean the bible's hell - i assume you do as well). so if we are going to ask why people go to hell, we have to accept that the bible is true. you think i would post some circular shit? f that. if we want to talk about belief then count me out - thats an unwinnable argument on both sides.

12:13 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I understand what you're saying-- but even if the bible is ultimately true... that doesn't take away that there is no solid reason from outside of the religion to believe in the bible.

And, thus, it seems evil for him to realize the lack of good reason for believing in him and the bible-- and still send all non-believers to hell.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous chas said...

let me stress the point to start that from the christian perspective, god does not send anyone to hell. it is your own nature and decisions that determine it, because god wants us to have free will. so from a christian perspective, your argument is completely unfounded from the point where you say that god sends people to hell. the point i am trying to stress with every biblically founded post is that the bible IS christianity and taking it away is like taking away god himself. so, no christian vs nonchristian argument about belief will get anywhere because of that difference, and i'm not going to argue for or against belief because it is not provable through the lofty standards of logic and reason.

"lack of good reason" is totally subjective - some people think that the bible is a good reason to believe in god, some people think their parents' belief is a good reason to believe in god. the reason that i believe there is a god is because i ate a plant and he revealed himself to me. sounds illogical doesn't it? it isn't a reason i plan on convincing anyone with. is the fact that my reason is a plant mean my belief is any better or worse than the people whose reason is the bible or their parents? i don't know, but i can tell you that i believe that there is not any lack of good reason for believing in god. that is why i made the point earlier about the axiom of logic and reason being questionable, because i KNOW my belief is not founded in logic and reason, and i am totally comfortable with that being the case. i think that is what they mean when they say listen with your heart. it really just means stop listening to LuCiFER WHiSPERiNG LogIC inTO yoUR EAR!!!

-- i'm not going to post anymore because it is hard to argue for things that i don't agree with anyways - my ideology is way different from the christian one

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

In contrast to your statement that any Christian must take the Bible as "God-breathed scripture", I know a number of people who would most definitely define themselves as Christians who do not take the Bible literally nor believe that it is infallible. Having remove that extremely limiting condition it is impossible to argue against them, because they have placed themselves beyond logic and reason; they do not claim to possess Truth, but a truth, and their way is not Right, but their way is right for them. To my mind this is the most reasonable place for faith to reside, and if more Christians would adopt this as a mindset, there would be even more Christians, as so many children who are repulsed by the absolute claims made by many branches of Christianity would instead have no problem integrating faith into a modern worldview. There is no reason to force children to choose between Science and God, and there is no reason to make the two incompatible.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

I agree with Tim. As one of those Christians who don't take every word in the Bible literally, I can vouche for the fact that it is possible. Hence the reason why I encourage seeking truths in other faiths as well as Christianity. I do believe that Christianity is truth and that God is real because of revelation and the fact that my life completely changed once I started believing...."I once was lost, but now am found"... But because we cannot know exactly how salvation happens, whether or not God reveals himself in different ways to different people, whether one faith is absolutely true, I can't say that somebody is going to hell if they don't believe in my God. Many people claim that I am going completely against the Bible and Christianity with that statement, but I believe that there are things in the Bible that support it. I have yet to completely form my opinion on this, its an ongoing process, so forgive me for not further expanding.

As a "scientist" I also agree that, "There is no reason to force children to choose between Science and God, and there is no reason to make the two incompatible."
As studies take me deeper into the workings of the human body, I don't see how the two can be separated. I don't understand why God and evolution can't be put in the same sentence without combatting each other. Is it impossible that God intended evolution to compensate for the changes he knew would come? I vote no.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Just wanted to clarify that my "unorthodox" beliefs do not subtract from the intensity of my faith. I believe in the power of Jesus Christ with my whole heart. Unfortunately, believing is not the same thing as knowing. Perhaps this is one reason that logic and reason are insufficient tools for examining faith.

9:37 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

"I believe in the power of Jesus Christ with my whole heart. Unfortunately, believing is not the same thing as knowing. Perhaps this is one reason that logic and reason are insufficient tools for examining faith."

Or perhaps faith is illogical and irrational... and God is simply your imaginary friend. One of the two is right... which one? I don't know... and I don't claim to know.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Funny, but be careful of belittling people's beliefs. Its rude, and you can disagree with somebody, or claim "not to know" without being rude. I will laugh at that...others won't...and there's no reason to be rude to someone with different beliefs because it just makes them not want to listen to your point of view.

12:45 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I'm sorry if it seemed rude-- i'm trying to keep my posts more concise. I was just trying to say that the following two things are equally likely:
1. logic and reason are insufficient tools to examine faith
2. faith is irrational and illogical because God does not exist.

I really wasn't trying to be rude... again i'm sorry.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Jeff,

Does your girlfriend love you?

1:06 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Sorry, the above question has a point. Just answer it, and then we can move on to the meat of the issue.

Note, that question could read:

Does your [father or mother] love you?

1:08 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yes, I believe if you asked them they would say yes.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

So you have reasonable assurance that they love you, but can you prove to me that any one of these individuals loves you?

10:11 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yes I have reason to believe that they actually love me-- they tell me they love me, they show me they love me and I have a reasonably good idea of what love is-- and from observing those things I have reason to believe that my parents and girlfriend love me.

But no-- I can't prove to you they love me... because I don't know they love me. I just believe that they probably do because I have no reason to believe that they would be lying to me. Our lives are a game of probability-- do we ever really know anything? How do you know your teacher will be there when you show up to class? How do you know that your car isn't going to randomly turn its wheels and make your car turn off the road? How do you know that you aren't really a person but a robot drone sent from the planet Shewok in the earth year 1642 to see what the future would be like on other planets? We don't-- but we find evidence of things... and we can make some reasonable decisions about what to believe... based on this evidence.

If you're trying to compare my belief in love from my parents or girlfriend to the love you believe that God has for you-- it's not quite an equal comparison.

As I have said, I have evidence that leads me to believe that my girlfriend and parents love me. However, I don't claim to KNOW that they love me. I haven't been told by God that he loves me and I have seen no evidence that leads me to believe that God exists let alone that he loves me.

2:41 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Just as you cannot prove that your girlfriend/parents love(s) you, neither can I prove that God exists. But you have evidence that they do love you, as you yourself said. To that extent, you have faith that they love you, just as someone has faith that "your teacher will be there when you show up to class" or that "your car isn't going to randomly turn its wheels and make your car turn off the road." We do not know for certain that these things will happen or not, but we have faith (to a certain extent) that they will occur the way we expect them to do so.

Essentially, I am asserting that faith is not blind; in fact, it is informed by experience, reason, probability...any of the things you say allow you to "believe" (an act of faith?) that your girlfriend's/parents' love is authentic. To that extent you cannot prove it logically, but you can know with some certainty (again, "know" in the sense of being reasonably assured, not "know" in the sense of having deduced from principles, laws, or assumptions, as you would a proof).

I think when someone says that faith precludes reason or experience, they could very well believe in a pink elephant from the planet Shewok. I would offer, however, that any strong faith must be founded in reason and experience or else it is not a faith that will last for any credible duration.

One last thought for now: How would you go about convincing someone that your girlfriend or parents loved you? How could you show (not prove, as we have established this cannot be done) someone else how much these people love you?

8:25 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

You call it faith-- I call it a reasonable conclusion based on probability.

My belief in my girlfriend's or parents' love is based on things I've sensed-- experienced. I have also have experiences of my girlfriend and parents-- and unlike God I'm reasonably sure they exist. From these experiences it seems improbable to me that they would just be acting like they love me.

You can assert that faith in God is not blind-- but I have never seen any solid evidence of God... I have nothing to judge the probability of God existing. It is not as though I have experienced God so many times that it would be improbable for him not to exist-- or that he has told me he loves me so many times that it would be unlikely that he was lying-- there's just no solid evdience...however, I have seen solid evidence that people exist and that certain people love me.

Also I don't believe that "love" exists outside of it being a label that we give certain feelings/emotions that we have for people... so in that sense it is not analogous to God. "Love" is a truth by definition, as are all labels, however God (not the word "God") either exists or doesn't exist.

To convince people I would allow them to experience how my girlfriend and parents tell me they love me and how they show me they love me... God has never told me he loves me and has never shown me he loves me.

-In response to that I think the romantic Christian might say "Yes God has said and shown he loves you-- you just weren't paying attention." To that I say-- you're silly. You have no evidence to back that up.

-Some other romantic Christian might say "the fact that we are alive here on earth is evidence that God loves us". To that I say-- if that is enough evidence for you I sure as hell hope you're never on a jury.

-Some other Christians might say "In the Bible God tells us he loves us". To that I say-- I have no strong evidence or reason to believe that what is said in the Bible actually happened or that it is actually the word of God.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Explain what you mean here, as I fail to understand what exactly you are trying to say:

"Also I don't believe that "love" exists outside of it being a label that we give certain feelings/emotions that we have for people... so in that sense it is not analogous to God. "Love" is a truth by definition, as are all labels, however God (not the word "God") either exists or doesn't exist."

Are you saying that something is love only because we call it that?

2:16 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I don't think that there is anything that exists in the real world as "love"-- I think every person that says they are in love feels (different) emotions and then labels those emotions as "love". Just as numbers are only labels-- it is not as though numbers exist as something outside of their definition.

Emotions are just personal labels-- there is nothing to say that my "love" is the same as your "love". Thus, by asking me "Do you believe your girlfriend loves you?" you are really asking "Do you believe that your girlfriend is having an emotion that she would label as 'love'?" But it is not as though this 'love' actually exists outside of it being a label she gives to an emotion.

However, if there is a God he should exist outside of the definition of what "God" is and he should exist uniformly outside of our personal experiences of him. Just as if we didn't have a definition of what a table is-- the form of the table would still exist uniformly outside of our definition or perception of it.

Everything above assumes that there is a "real world".

3:57 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

What is above may sound too semantic-- so let me try to get it back on track by answering the alternate question that I came up with above "Do you believe that your girlfriend is having an emotion that she would label as 'love'?"

Yes because I have evidence that she is labeling an emotion as love-- namely because I've heard her do it. She could be lying-- given that she would have nothing to gain from lying-- it seems very improbable that she would be lying. Though I still see it as a possibility.

As I said before-- I have seen no evidence of God.

Just because I believe in some things without proof doesn't justify belief in anything. There is a huge difference between me saying "I believe I have a brain" and me saying "I believe I have small aliens living in my hair"-- one is based on evidence and probability and the other isn't-- granted, I don't have proof of either.

I think belief in God is much more like believing in aliens living in my hair.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

So you would say that if you had some kind of evidence that God existed, you would believe (or at least begin to believe) in His existence?
And do you not think that many people have your same desire for some evidence?
(Also, I never said one had to believe in anything. I too establish my beliefs on the basis of evidence and probability when no proof can be obtained.)

Also, you do in fact accept that one can believe in some things without proof (again, given a reasonable assurance that said things exist, i.e. love)?

I must make one other comment: it is precisely the thought that love is simply an emotion that leads married couples to divorce at the high rate we do in this day and age. "Well, I don't feel anything for my spouse anymore, but I do have feelings for my secretary...better divorce the person I made a life commitment to and go for someone that I'll divorce later on anyways." And I realize that not all divorces work exactly that way (as a couple of my family members were/are caught up in bad divorces); I'm taking a bit of an extreme example, something I'm sure that you, Jeff, are quite familiar with.

Love does have certain emotions attached, but love is a choice more than a feeling. I may not always feel happy or good feelings with my parents/friends/significant other, but I still love them. The love will not last long if it is rooted in something as ephemeral as emotions. Now if I begin to feel less attraction to the person I am dating, then maybe I do need to re-evaluate why we are together. Or maybe we are just going through a phase. That then is an acceptable time to end a relationship. IF, however, I decide that I want to spend the rest of my life with someone, and vow to do so (...in sickness and in health...til DEATH do us part, or do they not use vows anymore?), then when the feelings subside, I know that the choice was there and that we must WORK through things. And I realize that I have shifted in topic, but your statement that love is simply the label of some feelings we have for someone I believe to be patently false. Love is much more than that. If so, how could I be expected to love my enemies (as Christ has said), for whom I perhaps have nothing but bad feelings?

I would like to continue to discuss love, but I would like to get back to faith at some point...just to leave a reminder for both of us.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Another quick comment: Numbers arose as we discovered that we can have multiple objects and thus discovered a need to count/quantify things (I could be wrong about the exact source of the need, but something along those lines). Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that someone did not just decide one day, "Hey, I want to have something called numbers! And we can use them to create an arbitrary system of measurement with no bearing on the world as we know it, and they will let us do something called 'counting' which no one really needs, but once they know it, they'll never give it up!" To that extent they were created in response to a real need. So numbers as we define them (one vs. uno, two vs. dos, etc. for any language) is in fact arbitrary. The fact that every language does have a number corresponding to a certain quantity of objects is indicative of the need for those exact quantities, however. The existence of a need to count, then, exists outside of the label we give to certain numbers. (Semantics vs. Pragmatics?)

In the same line of thought, is love then an invention of our minds? Or a name given to a very real situation (both the emotions and the choice)?

For clarity: Just in case you think that I am saying love is not an emotion, I am not. I am trying to say that it is more than that, though emotions can (and often does) accompany an experience of love.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

*Please forgive all spelling errors/grammatical mistakes.

3:15 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I definitely think that a lot of people probably have the same desire for evidence of God... I think EVERYONE should want that evidence.

I agree, I think people make the choice to love-- but I think this choice to love somebody is based on the emotions that they label as love. I think you are down-playing the power of emotions when you call them "ephemeral"-- The emotions may not be as fickle as attraction-- they can be very deep, long lasting emotions like caring, respect, security, and comfort... like I said I think it is different for every person. I have personally come across people that label their emotions "love" because of what appears to me to only be attraction.

However, saying that "loving" is a choice doesn't doesn't mean that "love" exists as something in the real world-- again it's just a very broad label given to emotions. Granted, we use very real things such as actions to express our emotions.

5:29 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yes I realize that numbers serve a purpose-- but it is not as though "two" exists outside of its definition. Yes, we label things to help make our lives easier-- it is not as though the need for numbers exists actually either... if there weren't humans there would be no need for numbers-- squirrels don't have the need for numbers.

I think "love" is an invention of the mind-- humans invented "love" to describe emotions. I think that emotions exist-- but I don't think any specific uniform emotions exist outside of our definition of them... I don't think there is a set "happiness" or "sadness" that exists.

But, as you said, this is getting a bit off topic-- You said that your belief is based on evidence.. so what evidence do you have of God?

5:49 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

First, I have to apologize because my internet has been down the past two days, so I have been unable to post.

Second, I will be out of town this weekend celebrating our independence, and I leave in about 15 minutes. So for that I apologize.

Because of this lack of time, I will simply ask a short question (followed by some statements) before I delve into my evidence of God:

Do you actually want to know what my evidence is of God? Or are you asking in the hopes of immediately refuting my statements? Because if it is the latter, I see no need to make my claims because: a) they cannot be refuted, and b) it doesn't really make me want to offer my evidence in the first place.

Before thinking that my statement in (a) was cocky, I would simply offer this:

Just as you cannot prove to me that your parents or girlfriend love you, I cannot disprove that they love you. I could offer you evidence that maybe they do not, but I do not have any such evidence due to my limited experience of your particular relationships; as such, I have to take what you claim about them to be true. If I wanted "proof" of the love in your particular situation, I could only, as you said, experience the love they tell you and show you; then, I should (ideally) be convinced of their love for you. If not, then I could "prove" to you (i.e. convince you) that they do not in fact love you.

I simply wanted to state that what an individual experiences cannot be disproved, assuming that the individual is in fact telling the truth of said experiences.

I hope you can agree to this. I believe that I have asserted this logically. But I feel we must agree to this before I can continue; otherwise, I would be wasting my time.

2:09 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I guess it wouldn't be worth your time unless your evidence was strong enough to convince me.

You say that love from my family or girlfriend is analogous to the reason you believe in God... perhaps this is true for you-- but I have seen infinite more evidence of my family and gf's love for me than I have of God's... so belief in God would be an infinitely less reasonable/logical move for me than believing in my family or gf's love.

So I guess this brings it back to the original point of this post-- if God really wants everyone to love him... it would make much more sense (to me-- since I'm not lucky enough to have evidence of his existence) to either give this convincing evidence that you supposedly have to everyone-- or make himself more apparent so that I wouldn't have such strong reason to doubt his existence.

It seems like either God is a jerk for making himself so hidden that belief in him is only for those people that are lucky enough to have this evidence (or dumb enough to not require it)... or that he doesn't exist/doesn't care/isn't powerful enough.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

You have not answered my question.

2:34 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yes I would really like to know what your evidence is of god.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Finally, I'm back.

Okay, where were we? Right: evidence. Ok. Here it goes.

My evidence of God began with a personal experience. Now everyone experiences God in different ways, should they say they have experienced Him. I assure you, however, that this experience is as real as sitting in the presence of someone you love without speaking to them: just by looking at said person, you can be assured that they love you (even if we assume that love is only a set of feelings). Now I said that said person loves you, not that you love them. So you just know that this person loves you from the connection occurring in the room (and if you've ever spent time alone with someone you love, e.g. a girlfriend, then you know what I'm talking about). You simply experience how much that person is there, without words, without even touching, you just know it. Now, most likely you are touching in some way, but the point is that even in an embrace, without kissing, you can look at the one you love and know that she loves you in return.

So, that being said, that is how I know there to be a God out there. He did not say anything to me, though; I just knew He was there. And I do believe that one really needs an experience similar to this to be truly convicted in one's faith.

I did, however, have to seek Him. I was in a period of time where I was not sure if God actually existed, and, if He did, whether He cared for me at all. I went on a retreat, tried to really believe, but I couldn't. And it was only during a certain Catholic ceremony that I opened up to Him: I looked around the room, saw people crying (including guys), and thought, "Wow, that guy is weak." At this moment, I myself began to cry uncontrollably. I was not buying into it all, and was in fact rather skeptical (a part of the reason I went on the retreat was to meet girls). After that experience, however, I knew that He was there and that I needed healing.

After this point, I began to research the Catholic Church more (as I was raised in it and wanted to believe it). I wanted to know if what I had believed all my life was really true, now that I knew that God was there. And if you look at all of the evidence, especially extra-biblical evidence, it becomes clear that Jesus did in fact exist and founded a Church. If you examine the writings of any of the early Church Fathers, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, and a host of other prolific writers, (some of the writing as early as 80 or 90 A.D.), you will find that there was in fact a Church, and it was undergoing many tests at the hands of early heretics and persecutors. A great number of Christians were being killed in the Flavian Ampitheater, better known as the Colosseum in Rome, simply because they believed in Christ. These persecutions are historically documented. And what were they dying for? Christ. Ignatius of Antioch, the third Bishop of Antioch, became a martyr himself at the hands of the Romans; prior to this, he wrote 7 epistles as he journeyed to be executed. These we have records of. Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that there are a host of documents supporting the Church in addition to the Bible. Did you know that the first really document on the teaching of the Church was the Didache (pronounced DIH-duh-kay). This word is greek for teaching, coming from the first word in the title of the document, The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles through the Twelve Apostles. It was a catechism, a bit similar to the one the Catholic Church has today.

It is also interesting to note that many of the early Church fathers wrote on the practices of the Church in the early centuries. These line up exactly with the Catholic Church today upon comparison to contemporary teachings of the Catholic Church.

I am just presenting the evidence I have found. There is plenty more out there of which I have only scratched the surface.

I hope that at least gets us started.

11:05 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

As for the feeling of love from God that you feel-- I don't doubt that you feel a feeling that you call the love of God... but I have a question for you... Do you think people in other religions feel that same feeling?

As for Christ-- what it comes down to is that Jesus was either a lunatic, liar, legend or lord. I have experience with the first three... so it's hard for me to be able to just accept that somebody is the lord. I realize that people have died because of their belief in Jesus-- but people have also died for other religious beliefs such as their belief in a space ship traveling behind the comet Hale-Bopp. I just don't think that what people will do because of their beliefs is good evidence that their beliefs are about something that actually exists.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I certainly do believe that other religions can feel the same feeling. I said, "That is how I know there to be a God out there. He did not say anything to me, though; I just knew He was there." That was how I came to know for sure that God was there and was a loving God. I think most religions, if participated in openly and without ulterior motives, will allow one to find some hint of the one Creator. In addition, I said, "And I do believe that one really needs an experience similar to this to be truly convicted in one's faith," a faith that is not necessarily Christian at all. I was simply stating that a religious experience allows one to know that God is. I almost addressed this issue flat out in the last post, but I did at least tacitly make this point. All I was trying to show was that I found through this experience that God existed and not that Catholicism or even Christianity was correct.

I then proceeded to tell you that I researched the Catholic Church, because I wanted to see if what I had believed was correct.

I also provided you with many historical figures other than Christ, because, if you believe Christ to have existed, you pretty much have to believe that He was Lord, as you have stated. At least, I presume that is what you meant when you said, "What it comes down to is that Jesus was either a lunatic, liar, legend or lord." If I am wrong, please correct me; however, I would offer that the history of the Church shows that He was not a liar or lunatic and that history itself shows He is not legend (the Bible is one of, if not the, most documented historical work). So I, understanding from experience that what Jesus historically claims about Himself to be difficult, researched these claims. I found only that there were a large number of believers in the early centuries who were persecuted for there beliefs.

This brings me to my next point. Yes, Jeff, I understand that there are many people who have died for what they believed. I would offer, however, that there is quite a difference between dying from persecution (i.e. choosing death over forsaking one's faith) and dying because a cult leader told you that the only way to achieve salvation was by killing yourself as the comet passed by. The latter sounds rather absurd while the former sounds heroic. I think that anyone who sacrifices their life over their faith is a hero. Plus, I do not think it is very advantageous to any belief system to ask its members to kill itself; I just don't think it would last very long.

So essentially:
-I never claimed that my experience was particular to the Catholic Church.
-I did offer research attesting to Christianity, and specifically the Catholic Church.
-Evidence allows someone to determine whether what one does because of one's faith is for a good reason.
-Jesus never asked anyone to commit suicide; martyrdom is not suicide, it is sacrifice.

3:06 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I understood your evidence post... I simply asked the question "Do you think people in other religions feel that same feeling?" to see what your answer would be... I wasn't trying to make a point yet.

So what you believe, essentially, is that when people in other religions feel the similar feeling of God that you feel... they are in fact feeling God (your God, the Christian God)... and are simply mistaken in believing that this God that they feel is the one from their religion? (again just a question... not a point)

I realize that you named historical figures that you say have given extra-biblical evidence of Jesus' existence (though I have not personally looked into them yet)... the reason I didn't touch on that evidence is that I disagree with the following statements of yours:

"if you believe Christ to have existed, you pretty much have to believe that He was Lord"

&

"the history of the Church shows that He was not a liar or lunatic and that history itself shows He is not legend"

I don't think the mere existence of a figure named "Jesus" who started a church is enough to gurantee that he is the son of god.

My reasons why I think it is possible that Jesus was not the son of God:
1. I don't have any reason to trust the writers of the Bible.
2. I don't have any reason to trust the people who compiled the books of the Bible-- considering the history of the church is not without a good deal of corruption.
3. We have many legendary figures that are based on actual persons and over time their names have grown to involve these legendary characteristics (Paul Bunyan is one example).
4. People were very gullible 2000 years ago.

I agree that torture is a more valiant way to die than drinking poison Koolade... but other than the degree to which they experience pain, I don't see much difference... they are both sacrificing their lives for their faith-- just because you think their beliefs are absurd doesn't make their suicide any less of a sacrifice. To get away from the cult v. religion debate and get back to my original point... my point was that self sacrifice for faith is not unique to Christianity-- in fact Jewish followers have had just as much, and arguably much more, persecution throughout history than Christians have... and again I don't think that just because people are persecuted and sacrifice their lives for their faith that this is somehow good evidence that your beliefs are right.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Hey, I know it's been a while, but I've been crazy busy for a while. I did, however, want to keep this convo going, because I think it's going somewhere.

Note: To avoid confusion, please read all of my statements in the tone of a pleasant discourse on a topic; nothing is meant to sound rude of inflammatory.

Ok, first, I would say, "Read about those people that I cited whether or not you agree with what I have said, because, chances are, they can say things infinitely better than I can. Plus, they are very educated people, some of them even writing in the scholarly style of Cicero (this is especially true of St. Paul the apostle who, though not extra-biblical, did write extensively for the early Church). I think you'd especially enjoy St. Justin Martyr. And please do not initially discount him due to either his title or surname. He has some fantastic things to say in his First Apology that are very well reasoned, Justin himself being originally a philosopher turned Catholic."

So there's that part.

Yes, I believe that people can have an experience of the Christian God without realizing it is the Christian God. But I also think that if people keep searching for the truth they will find that He is in fact the only true God.

Then my responses to your 4 statements:

1 - Almost all of the writers of the Bible received torture and death for what they wrote, meaning they did not recant even under pain of death.
2 - Corruption will exist wherever there are people. Not everyone will be corrupt but no one will ever be perfect. To the extent that we are human, we fall short of perfection. But according to your logic, I have no reason to think that our constitution is a worthwhile document, since our nation and the people who wrote the document are "not without a good deal of corruption." Now I can understand why it would be more difficult to follow a Bible that claims a Person to be God when corruption exists somewhere within that institution than to do the same for a nation that is so corrupt it doesn't matter. Just my thoughts (and if not coherent, I apologize).
3 - Yes we do have many legendary figures; so then I suppose we cannot believe what history says of Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Cicero, because...well, it's just all inflated history. None of it's real is it? We can see where this line of thinking would take us. But any perspicacious reader, having read the writings of the early Church Fathers, would quickly realize that Christ could not have become THAT legendary within 20 years of His death, could he? I mean, people who knew Christ were still around at that point, and could have said that He either was or wasn't what He claimed to be. And here's the fact: they said that He WAS who He claimed to be and wrote it down. Within 20 years, both in the writings of the Bible and the letters of the early Church Bishops.
4 - Read the early Church Fathers. Start with Justin Martyr, and then decide if any of these guys were "gullible." And if they were gullible 2000 years ago, then call me gullible now.

Jeff, can someone watch Braveheart and not be moved by William Wallace's sacrifice? Now, if they were to make a movie about people drinking Koolade to kill themselves for a belief, do you think anyone would be stirred to fight for a cause??? Something about suicide does not resonate within the human psyche. And we try to prevent people from doing it on a regular basis. Think within your own reason: do you think that it makes sense to kill yourself for a belief, or to be persecuted and killed because you were unwilling to recant your views? Self-sacrifice moves people to believe the believer who made the sacrifice.

That's all I have to say for now. I hope that gives you enough of my thoughts to digest.

1:31 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I have looked up writings (or summaries of the writings) from the people that you have suggested give extra-biblical evidence of Jesus. What I found led me to agree with you that it is most likely true that Jesus existed and started a church. The evidence points to this conclusion.

However, while looking through their writings I did not find any overwhelming evidence that would lead me to believe that Jesus is a more likely candidate for being God than any other Religious figure.

I also looked up information about the writers of the Bible in order to confirm your claim that "almost all of the writers of the Bible received torture and death" and the only thing I found was how little people know about the writers. I found little hard evidence about details of the writers' lives. Though, I did find that the first reports of Mark's execution were in the 4th century... some time after his death. I couldn't find a solid agreement about the deaths of any of the other authors either. Perhaps I'm not looking in the right place... maybe you could show me better evidence than what I have found.

My point about corruption of the church is that I think it is entirely plausable that the church has destroyed/hidden/fixed problems or contradictions within or surrounding the Bible. The church is a business-- I think they would do whatever it took to keep the church going. Without believers they have no business. It is not as though the books of the bible magically came together... I'm sure the church put much thought into the assembly of the Bible. What I'm tryin to say is that I don't think that there is sufficient reason to believe that the church didn't merely pick the books that fit with their story (or edit the books they had) in order to portray the religious story that they wanted to portay.

Throughout history you can see that it is not uncommon for authors writing about historical figures to exaggerate or spread legends regarding these historical figures. It is hard to separate what is legend or exaggeration from what is truth. You have to look at evidence that is most likely to be from an objective source-- I don't think that the people that followed Jesus through the desert are the most likely to be objective. Just because people wrote down stuff about a guy doesn't mean that what they wrote was true. I don't know where you're getting this 20 years figure-- considering you said yourself that these early Church Fathers were writing as early as 50-60 years after the death of Jesus. 50-60 years is a long time.

From my readings of these early church Fathers, I still see people that are easy to believe the stories about Jesus. Perhaps you could point to me to more specific places where their beliefs are based on good evidence instead of vague conjecture.

What if the Koolade drinkers were right? What if, right now, they are in God's spaceship behind that comet? Then we should look upon their suicide as a darn good idea. As I said before, the means by which a person sacrifices for their beliefs does not give any evidence about the truth of their beliefs.

Again, as I said, other religions have experienced just as much, and often much more, persecution for their beliefs... and obviously all the religions that have experienced persecution aren't right... so why is the self sacrifice for your religion more reliable, as evidence, than the self sacrifice for other religions?

Again I'm not as well read on these issues as you are...I'm really having trouble seeing things the same way you do. Perhaps you could show me in a more specific way this evidence.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I will work on that.

I'm going to be busy for a while, but I will get back to you with something that, I hope, will be a bit more compelling.

God bless.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

The 20 years figure comes from when the letters of St. Paul were written (40-60 A.D.). And quite possibly (though not certainly), the Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic (spelling?) first in 45-50 A.D. and then translated into Greek later in the century. So there were writings already in place. Now that's Biblical, but there's more. We have writings of the 4th Pope, Clement, writing to the Corinthians cerca 96 A.D in which he refers to Apostolic Succession. And we have historical records of his being the 4th Pope, after St. Peter, St. Linus, and St. Cletus.

That's a little bit for now, but I will get more for you later.

I hope that helps as a start.

In Christ,
Paul

2:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Question(s):

How/why were people more gullible 2000 years ago? Can you substantiate that claim?

2:04 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Chances are St. Paul never met Jesus-- second hand accounts of events 20 minutes after they happen are usually lousy-- not to mention 20 years... but if you want to base your beliefs off of these second hand accounts that's fine, it just isn't enough for me.

"How/why were people more gullible 2000 years ago? Can you substantiate that claim?"

I think common sense substantiates my claim that people from 2000 years ago were more gullible. Why are we less gullible? We have more information and more complete explanations for the way the world is-- plus we have better ways of sharing this information.

People in the past have believed the world was flat, that a god towed the sun behind a flying chariot, that combustable objects all contain phlogiston, and that witches exist-- if an average person was told these things now they wouldn't believe them. Thence, a lot of what people were dooped with 2000 years ago wouldn't doop us. Would the people from the past be dooped by the things that doop us now? I see no reason why they wouldn't be dooped by the things that doop us now since they wouldn't have any greater knowledge to avoid the dooping-- THUS, since they would be dooped by the things that doop us now AND by the things that dooped them in the past-- they would, by simple common sense logic, be more gullible (more capable of being dooped) than we are now. Right? I have a feeling you're going to fight me on this... and that saddens me.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Jeff, let's not bring emotion into this. I just want to talk this stuff out.

Does more knowledge equal less gullibility? I don't know that these two fit in the same realm. To an extent they do, but I don't think that one is the opposite of the other. I may know much about mathematics, the sciences, greek, and literature, but if my friend tells me that I'm about to get hit by a car and I flinch, wouldn't you say I'm gullible? So gullibility seems to be about trust rather than directly about knowledge. More knowledge about the probabilities of a car being on this road at this time would possibly reduce my chance of believing my friend, but it does not guarantee it.

So then gullibility is not the opposite of knowledge, meaning having knowledge doesn't guarantee a decrease in gullibility. It can help but doesn't guarantee it.

But then, I am less likely to believe something that I know to be false. What do I know to be false? Well, it has been proven (or at least clearly demonstrated) that the world is round, therefore, I won't believe anyone who tells me otherwise--no gullibility (defined as trust in the other person). We know that phlogiston does not exist based on chemical research, therefore, I won't believe anyone who tells me otherwise--no gullibility here.

So then knowledge can reduce gullibility, though the one is not necessarily linked to the other.

Now here's where it gets tricky: Prove to me that witches don't exist.

Prove it with the same amount of evidence and certainty that you can the other two.

You can't. You might say you and most people have never seen it, but then what do you make of the people who have? "Well," you might say, "they are gullible." And thus we have entered not only into a tenuous use of the word "gullible" but also an argument of circular reasoning. You claim that anyone who believes these things is wrong because they are gullible...and why do you say they are gullible, because they beileve in witches. Thus the circular argument.

The same applies with miracles. You can't say that the people who believe these things were any less reasonable for believing them because they may not have known all that we know. For one, you enter into a tenuous definition of gullible, and for another, you can only base this on circular reasoning.

The other fact is, there are plenty of people today who believe they have witnessed some of the same miracles written in the Gospels. Do they not potentially have the same access to the same knowledge you have? But even still, the only way you can claim that they are gullible is on the basis that they believe in miracles, and we know where that leads.

God bless!

10:43 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Definition of Gullible as defined by www.m-w.com

: easily duped or cheated

So this isn't my main point, but I just thought it necessary to make a fine distinction. Knowledge reduces gullibility, but is not its opposite.

But even if you seek to refute me on this point, it's not exactly what I'm after. The main point is the circular reasoning issue.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Help People said...

The point I'm trying to make:
People 2000 years ago were more likely to believe in things without having solid evidence because solid evidence was less easily attained and less easily distributed.

Why I used "gullible":
It seems to me that people 2000 years ago would be more likely to trust the information they received b/c they had no way of easily questioning it. Whether or not "gullible" is the most accurate word-- my main point (above) still remains.

Perhaps witches aren't the best example of gullibility b/c people could still believe in them without being tricked (thus, avoiding circularity and maintaining my main point above).

2:08 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

But you still haven't answered the point about people who believe in miracles today. I will reprint it here, and then I will address the other parts later.

"The other fact is, there are plenty of people today who believe they have witnessed some of the same miracles written in the Gospels. Do they not potentially have the same access to the same knowledge you have? But even still, the only way you can claim that they are gullible is on the basis that they believe in miracles, and we know where that leads."

I would like you to address this, please. Thank you (and I say this without sarcasm, honestly).

8:24 PM  
Blogger Help People said...

I'm not saying that belief in miracles makes you gullible.

What I am saying is that the human population 2000 yrs ago was more likely to believe something without strong evidence and this makes me doubt the accuracy and truth of what they wrote.

10:58 PM  

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