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How can I respond to the following Christian “apologetic”......
Posted: 04 October 2013 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 136 ]
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Lausten - 04 October 2013 08:20 AM

We let her define God in great detail before we started arguing against that definition and her methods.

Wow, I totally missed that.  I thought you all were calling me a troll, a liar, dishonest, blah, blah, blah from the beginning.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 137 ]
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Lily, and Darron,

Nice to meet you Lily. Pardon for talking about you in the third person earlier.

There is nothing in the Bible teaching that God condemns any man to “eternal torment.”  DarronS then accuses God of being a mass murderer.  Which is it?

Well, Darron is making an argument to that effect. He needn’t quote a Scriptural passage to make the argument. I’m not sure that a Scriptural passage affirming God’s perfect love, justice and mercy will convince *him*. On the other hand, you’ve opened me to thinking that’s not a bad way to go for some people; lots of people aren’t hardened utterly against the Bible, and all they need is an assurance that it’s not a mere book of horrors. (It’s amazing how few people actually read it.)

But you are trying to trap Darron in a bad trap. I think you should stick to accusing him of being inflammatory. God is not a mass murderer merely by knowing some people will die denying Him. That’s just gas - as if it’s not bad enough He allows a lot of seemingly unjust suffering. Darron should stick to accusing God of causing unjust suffering, or (more clever and weasely) being ‘implicated’ in it.

Darron on the other hand has by his argument got himself mired in a logical mess he doesn’t even know he’s stepped in. (1)Many people don’t believe the future even exists (I don’t): how can God know about what doesn’t exist? (2) If there’s free will, not even He would know what people *will* do. (And this woudl not deny his perfect knowledge: God doesn’t know anything real about round squares or Santa or green suns either, because such things are impossible in this Universe.) (3) Darron doesn’t reckon with the difference between necessary knowledge and contingent knowledge (even if God knows our future, that need not deny our freedom to choose - a ‘modal’ distinction). (4) He doesn’t reckon whether a world full of rational beings who can but fail to love each other might be better than not making them at all. And then Darron’s surrounded by worthy friends who claim much reading is a weariness. Yeowch.

As for unnecessary suffering, who decides what’s necessary?

Hm, I could get all sophist and hair-splitty (what *is* the distinction between unnecessary and unjust suffering? Can you have one without the other?) But let’s not talk about unnecessary suffering just yet, and stick to unjust suffering. Think: every infant and fetus who died or was maimed in the recent earthquake in Pakistan suffered unjustly - they didn’t deserve to die or be maimed. That’s the strong juice to wring from Darron’s purple prose.

Are you a fan of the book of Job? There’s a startling passage where Job’s wife tells him something like ‘praise or curse God, you’re gonna suffer and die anyway’. And Job gets angry with her for suggesting he curse God: *everyone* knows evil is ‘of God’ - i.e. is a divine thing. (the genitive case for a noun is a very vague case - it just turns a noun into an adjective.) This isn’t the thread to pan that out, but it needs pondering. Evil (to the Job author) isn’t from God, but it is supernatural so to speak. (Something for the naturalists to ponder too: the Job author’s words would entail that a merely natural Universe has no evils, no injustice at all.)

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 138 ]
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LilySmith - 04 October 2013 08:25 AM

There is nothing in the Bible teaching that God condemns any man to “eternal torment.”  DarronS then accuses God of being a mass murderer.  Which is it?  Does God keep man alive and poke him with a stick throughout eternity to torment him, or does he end his life?  You can’t accuse God of sentencing man to eternal torment and then accuse him of mass murder.  This is nothing more than inflammatory rhetoric based on emotion, not understanding.

Several people, including me, quoted scripture showing Yahweh condemns nonbelievers to eternal torment. You choosing to ignore those verses is another indicator of your fundamental dishonesty.

God is the creator of all life, but he has no obligation to provide eternal life to any of his creation.  A Creator who gives his creation a temporal existence is not a mass murderer.

Now you’re trying to twist my words. I was not referring to death in the natural order of things when I accuse your petulant god of being a mass murderer; I was referring to the eternal torment which you refuse to acknowledge even though it is clearly stated in your book of myths.

If my God does exist and shows himself as a righteous and merciful God who upholds justice, where does that leave DarronS and his false accusations and erroneous judgments?  Wouldn’t it be better to either learn the truth about God or remain silent?

The ethical stance is to look at the available evidence then decide, not reach a conclusion then look for rationalizations to support it. If your god does exist and he is righteous and merciful then that collection of books you keep quoting at us is nothing more than a bunch of manmade fables with no relationship to a just, merciful creator.

As for unnecessary suffering, who decides what’s necessary?

Finally, you ask a good question. As I’ve suggested to you before, study some ethical theory and you’l be ready to discuss the topic. In order to do that you’ll need to pull your head out of the Bible and read what professional philosophers have written.

Edit: corrected a typo

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 12:27 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 139 ]
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Darron,

The ethical stance is to look at the available evidence then decide, not reach a conclusion then look for rationalizations to support it.

No. You can logically start from any point. For example, I could start with the fact of evil and argue that therefore there must be non-natural moral facts, and then deny naturalism. Lily and most orthodox Christians start with God’s perfections (all good, all powerful, all knowing, all benevolent) and the fact of unjust suffering, and then work out how these can both be facts. The ‘fact’ of God’s perfections would be reached by other means (from the Bible, from personal revelation, from proper arguments from authority, from various philosophical arguments for examples). That’s not illogical, and it’s not improper rationalization. You just want to run the argument in a different direction: start with the unjust suffering and conclude there cannot be such an ‘omni God’ (as the idea is sometimes called: omniscient, omnipotent, etc.)

Also, I doubt lily or anyone will prove to *you* that God exists and is good, merciful etc. But we can show that such a being is not absurd or illogical. we can sweep away, with care, arguments *against* God. As for the Bible, you seem awfully fixated on it. A fundamentalist, almost. Hm.

If your god does exist and he is righteous and merciful then that collection of books you keep quoting at us is nothing more than a bunch of manmade fables with no relationship to a just, merciful creator.

False dichotomy: It may have much more than fables; the fables may still be from God, just ‘calibrated’ to ancient Jewish society. (The ancient world was a rough place.) The fables may not be fables at all, but not be in the style of news-reports. There are lots of possibilities. The only thing you can *imply* in a strong sense is only to deny that every Bible verse must be taken in exactly the same way - but so what? Hardly any orthodox Christians or Jews do that, and hardly ever *have* done that. St. Augustine: ‘God did not say ‘I give you My word so that you may know about the Sun and the Moon.’ the Lord wants to make Christians, not astronomers. You go to school to learn that sort of thing.’

Why argue against people who are a minority? That hardly scratches at the vast thing that is Christianity across time and space. It seems insane to me. Is it a clever tactic I don’t understand?

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 140 ]
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LilySmith - 04 October 2013 08:25 AM
StephenLawrence - 03 October 2013 01:28 PM
DarronS - 03 October 2013 01:20 PM

This is the central problem with Christian theology. God knew before creation that he would have to condemn the majority of people on Earth to eternal torment, yet he proceeded anyway. That makes him by far the worst mass murderer in history. Your god, if he existed would be an evil tyrant with the morals of a spoiled child.

Yes, Darron.

And WAKE UP!!!!! Lily

Stephen,

I’m awake.  DarronS has made this charge before and when asked to provide the scripture, he failed.  There is nothing in the Bible teaching that God condemns any man to “eternal torment.” 

OK, I was wrong. You don’t believe in hell. Still you’re going to heaven and I’m not, according to you.

As for unnecessary suffering, who decides what’s necessary?

Well, there is a minimum that a perfectly good, all powerful, all knowing being should allow. So why allow natural disasters? The answer you’ve given is they are the result of man’s sin. This rests on man having libertarian free will which is false and impossible in any case. And also rests on our normal causal explanations being wrong. Frankly it’s a silly idea right off the bat.

But it get’s worse, why allow natural disaster before man?? Why not prevent them?

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Posted: 04 October 2013 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 141 ]
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inthegobi - 04 October 2013 10:50 AM

You can logically start from any point. For example, I could start with the fact of evil and argue that therefore there must be non-natural moral facts, and then deny naturalism.

You could but you’d be shifting between what is demonstrably real and what is merely imagined, as also in the following:

inthegobi - 04 October 2013 10:50 AM

Lily and most orthodox Christians start with God’s perfections (all good, all powerful, all knowing, all benevolent) and the fact of unjust suffering, and then work out how these can both be facts.

You could equally well start with the flying spaghetti monster, which is the point of that invention.

You seem like a bright person. Do you not appreciate the distinction? That’s what hard for me to understand: how can a seemingly intelligent person like you write those two things as though they were comparable with known facts, as fact claims. They’re not.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 142 ]
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inthegobi - 04 October 2013 10:50 AM

Darron,

The ethical stance is to look at the available evidence then decide, not reach a conclusion then look for rationalizations to support it.

No. You can logically start from any point. . . .
Why argue against people who are a minority? That hardly scratches at the vast thing that is Christianity across time and space. It seems insane to me. Is it a clever tactic I don’t understand?

Chris

Maybe you think you addressed Darron’s point but to me and I suspect to him, you missed the key word - ethical - and thereby missed the point entirely. Sure, you can start from any point you like, including a flying spaghetti monster but you’d be making it up. Darron can speak for himself but I think I understand what he’s saying, and I agree with him: in an ethical worldview people shape their opinions about facts based on what we can reliably know. This includes what we can see and measure, and also what we can deduce but it must be grounded in objective reality. You’re making it out as though we can appropriately learn about facts by mere assertion. Both reason and experience say that is not true. We should conform our fact claims to what we can reliably know, not insist that the universe must conform to what we wish to believe.

Humans have invented thousands of gods. The literalist Christian believes in one of them and disbelieves in the rest, which means that the literalist Christian admits the point by her actions.

There are many reasons why many of us secularists insist that belief in imagined gods - and all of them are imagined - is unethical:
1. It’s mere wish fulfillment, as Freud observed, which is a form of self-indulgence.
2. It leads to irresponsible thinking, which leads in turn to irresponsible acting. There can be no clearer proof of this than the plethora of ways in which people claim to know “the Word of God,” then use it to justify anything they want to do, including the enslavement or annihilation of entire peoples. You can say such actions are aberrational but in point of fact, they are not.
3. It severs the connection between values and reality. You couldn’t possibly be more anti-God than that, and here I’m using “God” as a word for what is ultimately real and true.

There probably are other reasons but those should more than suffice. I don’t think of myself as a radical at all. In fact, many of my fellow secularists think of me as too friendly to religion: I describe myself as a born-again Humanist, and a nephew by marriage - who I call the most Catholic man in Pennsylvania - says I am the most religious person he has ever met. I take religion very seriously, so when I see it bastardized by theism and theology, I get upset because theism and theology do violence to the human search for beauty and truth, and therefore for God.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 143 ]
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StephenLawrence - 04 October 2013 11:56 AM

OK, I was wrong. You don’t believe in hell. Still you’re going to heaven and I’m not, according to you.

 

I do believe in hell, but it isn’t eternal torment.

Well, there is a minimum that a perfectly good, all powerful, all knowing being should allow. So why allow natural disasters? The answer you’ve given is they are the result of man’s sin. This rests on man having libertarian free will which is false and impossible in any case. And also rests on our normal causal explanations being wrong. Frankly it’s a silly idea right off the bat.

But it get’s worse, why allow natural disaster before man?? Why not prevent them?

All of what you say depends on what God is accomplishing.  Your idea is that God should create man, not give him any choice in the matter of his life, make everything pleasant for him and be sure to feed him on time.  And for heaven sake, no natural disasters. 

My understanding is that God has allowed man to experience sin and the result of sin in a fallen world that is temporal and passing away.  It’s like a proving ground which teaches man about disobedience and evil.  In this world man’s life is temporary.  There are plenty of things that kill people, including natural disasters.  None of these things are beyond God’s control and he has the ability to restore those who suffer injustice.  We are being tested in the lifetime God has given us on this earth, and all of his creation is watching.  When his judgment comes, it will be seen as just.  He is not creating pet dogs, he is creating sons who will obey him and rule over his creation with justice in the world to come.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”

“To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations…”

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Posted: 04 October 2013 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 144 ]
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‘P’ (do you have a realish name?),

inthegobi - 04 October 2013 10:50 AM

You can logically start from any point. For example, I could start with the fact of evil and argue that therefore there must be non-natural moral facts, and then deny naturalism.

You could but you’d be shifting between what is demonstrably real and what is merely imagined, as also in the following:

No; not if either (1) we agree upon the premise (that is, we *assume* it, which even opponents might do for many good reasons), or (2) it was argued on some other grounds and so, even if the opponent doesn’t agree, the other person has a reason to begin there. Many people - quite reasonably - feel there are arguments for God’s existence, and for the relevant ‘omni’ qualities. Thus we can start with God’s existence with all the faculties orthodox Christians and theistic philosophers grant, in order to argue that *assuming* such a being exists, His existence is compatible with evil or unjust suffering in the world. Then, properly, you would attack not the initial assumption but a weakness in the argument even assuming He is as posited.

You could equally well start with the flying spaghetti monster, which is the point of that invention.

No, you could not *equally* well start with the FSM: because the FSM was constructed to be unbelievable. God, however - or even angels, or even aliens on other planets - are things whose existence is believable at least in principle, and which have a long, uh, pedigree of intelligent and reasonable adherents. I do *not* believe there are any aliens, but I think their existence is not like the absurd existence of the FSM. The same disconnect between positing God and the FSM attaches to the invisible orbiting teapot, and the angry unicorn on the Moon. Or Santa Claus; we know it’s fiction: we know exactly who it’s based on (a 6th century bishop of Smyrna), and exactly who gave us the modern American version. (I don’t recall his name though. The guy who wrote ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.)

You seem like a bright person. Do you not appreciate the distinction? That’s what hard for me to understand: how can a seemingly intelligent person like you write those two things as though they were comparable with known facts, as fact claims. They’re not.

Well, thanks ma’am.
I hope I’ve shown I do appreciate what you’re saying - by disagreeing with you lumping together believing in God and believing in artificially constructed, deliberately unbelievable beings. Some beings have *arguable* existence, some are deliberately designed so that their existence is *inarguable*. I think *you’ve* been misled - may I be so bold - by certain modern writers into believing that you can dismiss God’s existence *so* easily. This was a problem of the early positivist movement in philosophy at the turn of the 20th century, and many modern ‘scientistic’ philosophers, and scientists who want to philosophize, are continuing this freshman mistake. God may not exist, and even may be unlikely to exist, but he’s not *inarguably* or *obviously* non-existent. And constructing obviously absurd things and then *claiming* God is like them is another mistake perpetrated upon an honest population. Whatever the final answer, simply constructing - or laughing - God out of existence is a non-starter.

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 145 ]
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Chris, for starters, my name is Paul. No offense taken, an honest mistake.

Again with all due respect, I think your epistemology is simply dreadful. You write about constructing God out of existence as though you can construct the same into existence in the first place. The intent behind FSM is completely irrelevant: both constructs are imaginary. All you’ve done is ignore theism’s foundational problem, asserting on the same thin air as you assert your conception of God that it isn’t a problem.

All rhetorical and verbal-philosophical musings aside, the practical effects of your epistemology are as I’ve stated them. You don’t address those practical effects, which is the same essential problem as I have with your epistemology. It ignores what we know of reality. I live in the real world, and choose to construct my life around what I have good reason to know. You don’t have to live that way, you can choose another path; what you cannot choose are its consequences. If that sounds like lecturing or peevish, it’s because I think your epistemology genuinely and consummately sucks, as nice a person as you seem to be.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 02:43 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 146 ]
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Paul -

I mean thank you sir!

to continue:

You missed the key word - ethical . . . . You’re making it out as though we can appropriately learn about facts by mere assertion.

Well. At the risk of being too subtle, there are facts *about arguments*. Augustine’s theodicy - to give an example - is an *argument*, and as such it is partly independent of its contents. (Partly.) We can begin arguments with ‘assuming P…’ That may *sound* like mere web-spinning, but I’ll just assert for now that it’s not. We need to know about arguments too. (Consider the odd game man-cubs play: ‘Why? Because!’ They’re playing with rehearsing arguments - or explanations - independent of contents.)

The literalist Christian

I’m unclear if you mean ‘literalist’ as usually intended. Orthodox Christians tend to believe not that those other gods have no existence, but that in reality they are reflections in human cultures of the One, Whoever He is. By implication, they understand that parts of their own understanding need reforming. (‘Eye hath not seen’, no-one here on earth has the Beatific Vision, etc.) The Catholic Catechism is a good example where Christians are enjoined to believe this.

I think you’re here confusing gods as conceptual constructs and gods as beings or a Being we seek, and adopt or discard or modify our belief about as we might do with a penpal we slowly gain information about. In a certain philosophical sense (see Descartes) the *idea* of Thor or Poseidon is eternal - and multiple, for there are several such clusters all of which can have the name Poseidon or Thor (the Thor of the middle-class farmer versus that of the skalds, for example) We should avoid confusing the two kinds of ‘gods’. In one sense Thor is dead as a doornail; in another, every Germanic householder who prayed to Thor was praying to the same reality as every ancient Greek Corinthian sacrificing to Poseidon. And you and I can just as well pray to that Reality today. If god exists and loves our worship, just so; if he does not or is not such, then it’s all the same. But our circumstances do not absolve us of working to better understand that reality.

There are many reasons why many of us secularists insist that belief in imagined gods - and all of them are imagined - is unethical:
1. It’s mere wish fulfillment, as Freud observed, which is a form of self-indulgence.
2. It leads to irresponsible thinking, which leads in turn to irresponsible acting. There can be no clearer proof of this than the plethora of ways in which people claim to know “the Word of God,” then use it to justify anything they want to do, including the enslavement or annihilation of entire peoples. You can say such actions are aberrational but in point of fact, they are not.
3. It severs the connection between values and reality. You couldn’t possibly be more anti-God than that, and here I’m using “God” as a word for what is ultimately real and true.

With respect, I think you’re confusing *unethical* with *unjustified*.
~1. Freud didn’t ‘observe’ this. His theories are largely discredited today, tho’ he’s still honored as a pioneer. And in any case, isn’t a Christian the best judge of his own motives - just as you are of yours? What if I claimed atheists have a big, fat wish-fulfillment to have no God? No, I don’t believe it of you!
~2. It at least as often leads to altruistic and even heroic thinking. Care to tote up the positives and negatives? No? Then this is just an empty saying.
~3. This makes no sense to me as written, but maybe you could reword it. But its form is tendentious: it assumes what is to be proven, that belief in god(s) disconnects one from reality or values. Who’s more grounded in reality of a certain sort, Sheldon or his fundamentalist mom? Who day by day treats the people around them better?

This is interesting btw, but maybe we could slowly steer conversation back to dealing with apologists. or maybe not. (A very different forum I frequent more than this one has very strict rules about thread drift, and all this ranging around makes me look over my internet shoulder!)

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 147 ]
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inthegobi - 04 October 2013 09:33 AM

I’m not sure that a Scriptural passage affirming God’s perfect love, justice and mercy will convince *him*. On the other hand, you’ve opened me to thinking that’s not a bad way to go for some people; lots of people aren’t hardened utterly against the Bible, and all they need is an assurance that it’s not a mere book of horrors.

I’m not trying to convince DarronS of anything, but when people continually say incorrect things about what the Bible teaches I like to share what I’ve learned to the contrary.  Many of the people here actually think evilbible.com and skepticsannotatedbible.com are good sources for what the Bible teaches.  That’s just sad.

How can a person suffer after death?  Death is the end of suffering.  God has taken home those children who die in disasters and they will suffer no more.  It is not an injustice, it is the time God has given them on earth.  A person can curse God for what they view as an injustice, or they can trust that he will restore all things in the eternal world to come.  Job trusted God even though he walked through the valley of death.  The testing of who we really are is not done when all is going well and we are living the good life.  Who we really are is revealed when difficulties come, imv.

“Then Job replied to the LORD:  ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?”  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…’ After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

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Posted: 04 October 2013 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 148 ]
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inthegobi - 04 October 2013 02:48 PM

This is interesting btw, but maybe we could slowly steer conversation back to dealing with apologists. or maybe not. (A very different forum I frequent more than this one has very strict rules about thread drift, and all this ranging around makes me look over my internet shoulder!)

Chris

Meet me in the Philosophy forum.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 149 ]
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Chris,

I know about the structure of arguments. In fact, I took a symbolic logic class from Larry Sklar in college. You’re still missing the point. Logic and reason are essential but without a grounding in reality, we’re only playing a schoolboy’s academic game.

By literalist Christian, I was referring to Christians who believe literally in the Christian narrative: God as a supreme being, etc.

I didn’t confuse “unethical” with “unjustified.” I said exactly what I meant to say. The consequences of believing things to be true because we wish they were true are too dire, and there’s no excuse in this day and age for people not seeing that. If you can wrap your ideas around a god, I can wrap my ideas around what enhances and denigrates life. If you look at how people behave when the chips are down, you’ll see that everyone acknowledges the value of my approach in most things, even though they may not admit it.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 150 ]
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PLaClair - 04 October 2013 03:02 PM

Chris,

I know about the structure of arguments. In fact, I took a symbolic logic class from Larry Sklar in college. You’re still missing the point. Logic and reason are essential but without a grounding in reality, we’re only playing a schoolboy’s academic game.

By literalist Christian, I was referring to Christians who believe literally in the Christian narrative: God as a supreme being, etc.

I didn’t confuse “unethical” with “unjustified.” I said exactly what I meant to say. The consequences of believing things to be true because we wish they were true are too dire, and there’s no excuse in this day and age for people not seeing that. If you can wrap your ideas around a god, I can wrap my ideas around what enhances and denigrates life. If you look at how people behave when the chips are down, you’ll see that everyone acknowledges the value of my approach in most things, even though they may not admit it.

I just posted a new thread, The Ethics of Belief, in the Philosophy forum.

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