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Are You Religious?

Are you religious?  

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  1. 1. Are you religious?

    • Yes
      18
    • No
      15


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Well, those theories still hold the potential to be overturned at any point in time, should contradictory evidence come to light...that's what I was really referring to.

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Yep -- just reading Scientific American yesterday and about 1/4 of the articles say "this may change conventional thinking" on the topic.

 

That is the point -- science evolves, religious dogma (for the most part) does not. Truth, on the other hand, is a completely different subject.

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What's your take on truth? Does it exist? Etc.

 

Oh, I think so. But most of it is harder to find than both the ultimate answer (42) and the question it answers.

 

And, while trying to avoid a Star Wars reference, I should point out that most truth is based on condition. That is, most true statements are if-then statements: Does God exist? Very difficult to answer. If God exists, is he good? Easier to answer.

 

I happen to think the search for truth is a noble endeavor, however some of that truth has to do with dealing with life -- so I'm not much for monastic life.

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Well, those theories still hold the potential to be overturned at any point in time, should contradictory evidence come to light...that's what I was really referring to.

Right, I agree with you there. I was just clarifying the meaning of the word "theory" in science. ;)

I think it's very important that more people understand that, since most people I talk to outside of science don't realize the difference between a scientific theory and an ordinary explanation about something.

 

What's your take on truth? Does it exist? Etc.

Interesting question, but it seems... malformed/meaningless to me. I think a better question might be, can statements be shown to be true, in which I would answer, yes.

Maybe you meant something else?

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Is it really easier to answer? Why can't God be evil?

 

I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

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I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

 

My contribution to this discussion: there is literally no such thing as good or evil.

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IMO there is such a thing as good and evil, but it differs for every person. For example, I think the killing of a person is evil, but millions of people celebrated after Bin Laden died.

Why can't God be evil?

 

I'll bring up the old Epicurus quote for my opinion on this:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

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My contribution to this discussion: there is literally no such thing as good or evil.

 

Then I certainly want to trot out this response and see what you think: if there is no such thing as good or evil, then all God's policies and actions the New Atheist posse are so fond of demonizing cannot truly be wrong. I find that either objective morals must exist or objective condemnations of God are entirely baseless. I can also argue along the following lines: the conclusion "there is no God" following from "evil exists" suggests that evil does not exist, which is an irreconcilable self-contradiction unless there is a means by which objective evil can exist without God.

 

Markus: My view on Epicurus' questions is that God is able and willing to prevent evil, but allows it to occur for the time being to permit free choice between the two; eventually, evil will be eliminated. If God were to eliminate all possibility of evil in the world right now or whenever it happened, we would all be dead, and nobody really wants that; God mercifully waits and allows us to repent instead. In contrast to the opposing opinions about the nature of omnibenevolence, I do not find it reasonable that an omnibenevolent God would force humans to choose Him and live in His presence for eternity. James, Markus, tensorpudding, et al, is that something you would want God to do? The only logical alternative is to permit evil to exist.

 

I've had some decent debate over the last couple days, so I'm riding on that high...I quite liked writing this here.

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Interesting question, but it seems... malformed/meaningless to me. I think a better question might be, can statements be shown to be true, in which I would answer, yes.

Maybe you meant something else?

 

I purposely left it ambiguous, because I think that the very concept of "truth" lacks a rigid definition. A discussion on the concept of "truth" could go in a lot of interesting directions, and I didn't want to box it in by virtue of a question that made certain presuppositions that others might feel is unfair. ;)

 

Anyway, how can statements be shown to be true?

 

 

 

I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

 

Well, I think you could argue the "standalone concept" thing either way. More relevantly for this discussion, I think it's quite possible for "good" to exist and for God to be evil. I certainly don't think that it's as simple as "evil is the absence of good." It becomes particularly thorny when you begin to consider good-evil hybrids.

 

 

 

My contribution to this discussion: there is literally no such thing as good or evil.

 

There's no objective thing as "good" or "evil," but as constructs that are meaningful to us, they do exist, imo. It doesn't matter if something is inherently good (or not); what matters is that we consider it to be good (or evil).

 

 

 

I'll bring up the old Epicurus quote for my opinion on this:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

 

I always liked this quote. ;)

 

 

 

My view on Epicurus' questions is that God is able and willing to prevent evil, but allows it to occur for the time being to permit free choice between the two; eventually, evil will be eliminated.

 

Is free choice really that valuable? Do we even truly have free choice?

 

That brings up another question: God apparently gave us free will, but he expects us to use that free will to choose to become his slave and do anything and everything he tells us to. Is that really such a gift?

 

 

If God were to eliminate all possibility of evil in the world right now or whenever it happened, we would all be dead, and nobody really wants that; God mercifully waits and allows us to repent instead.

 

Why would we all be dead if God eliminated the possibility of murder, rape, etc?

 

 

 

In contrast to the opposing opinions about the nature of omnibenevolence, I do not find it reasonable that an omnibenevolent God would force humans to choose Him and live in His presence for eternity.

 

Because he created us, he essentially has forced us to face eternity in one form or another (presuming that you believe in heaven and hell as prescribed by most Christian denominations). The choice, as many present it, is between eternal bliss and eternal damnation. But what if you don't want either one?

 

People always compare God to a father figure, but I don't buy that for a second. A truly loving parent wouldn't let their child burn for eternity. Some people say that God offers us that choice...BS. A parent would drag their kid away from that fate, no matter how obnoxious the kid, no matter how much he/she professed to hate the parent. BTW, this brings up something else that troubles me: the whole "if you aren't with me, you're against me" thing that God seems to be into.

 

 

 

James, Markus, tensorpudding, et al, is that something you would want God to do? The only logical alternative is to permit evil to exist.

 

Like I said before, God has forced us to live in the first place. There are a lot of things he apparently does that I would not want him to do...

 

I can't answer for anyone else, but if it came down to the choice between eternal bliss and eternal suffering, I'd be more than happy if God pulled me into the realm of eternal bliss. BTW, why didn't he just place all of us into the "eternal bliss" state in the first place? Yes, yes, yes, you can go on about the garden of Eden, but I'm not sure if I'd call that a truly blissful place, given God's somewhat arbitrary rules:

 

 

God: You may not eat from that tree.

 

Adam: Why not?

 

God: It contains knowledge.

 

Adam: I don't understand.

 

God (with a sigh): Just don't eat from that tree.

 

Adam: Why not?

 

God: Because then you will understand why you shouldn't eat from it.

 

Adam: I still don't see why I can't eat that apple. It looks so delicious!

 

God: I put it there to tempt you. I want you to remain ignorant. Just don't eat it.

 

Snake (whispering to God): If eating the apple is the only way he'll know not to eat it, what do you think is going to happen?

 

God (to Adam, ignoring the snake): Just don't eat the ----ing thing, ok?

 

 

I mean, you get the idea.

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Then I certainly want to trot out this response and see what you think: if there is no such thing as good or evil, then all God's policies and actions the New Atheist posse are so fond of demonizing cannot truly be wrong.

 

I agree! :) Those policies and actions are not objectively wrong, they just contradict the qualities that your God is supposed to have.

 

I find that either objective morals must exist or objective condemnations of God are entirely baseless. I can also argue along the following lines: the conclusion "there is no God" following from "evil exists" suggests that evil does not exist, which is an irreconcilable self-contradiction unless there is a means by which objective evil can exist without God.

 

Even if I don't think an objective morality is possible, I can still assume that it does for sake of argument. An implied piece of the argument you outlined is missing. It should be (italics mine): the conclusion "there is no God" follows from "what is called evil exists when it should not if God exists" (note that I do not necessarily agree with this atheistic argument, but I do disagree with what you have said)

 

God would force humans to choose Him and live in His presence for eternity. James, Markus, tensorpudding, et al, is that something you would want God to do?

 

Whether that's what I want him to do or not, that's what he IS doing. God gives the dichotomy of "come with me or suffer". If I hold a knife to your throat and demand you give me $200 or I'll kill you, is it your choice to give me the $200? Is that a "choice" that a benevolent God would offer to others? (also, the "good" choice in the God dichotomy is loving him...what kind of twisted being forces someone to love him by having the alternative be an infinite torture?)

 

(I don't really understand what you said before the section I quoted, so you might have your response in there somewhere, but I feel obligated to say that God created the rules of the universe, as well as the rules by which people get judged by, etc., so any response involving, say, sin is rebutted by how God could have just not created sin, God could have created sin differently, etc.)

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Whether that's what I want him to do or not, that's what he IS doing. God gives the dichotomy of "come with me or suffer". If I hold a knife to your throat and demand you give me $200 or I'll kill you, is it your choice to give me the $200? Is that a "choice" that a benevolent God would offer to others? (also, the "good" choice in the God dichotomy is loving him...what kind of twisted being forces someone to love him by having the alternative be an infinite torture?)

 

...

 

I feel obligated to say that God created the rules of the universe, as well as the rules by which people get judged by, etc., so any response involving, say, sin is rebutted by how God could have just not created sin, God could have created sin differently, etc.

 

Great post, James. Agree with this completely.

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I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

If evil was the absence of good, would that mean we had to classify all actions as good or evil? If so, would sitting idly be evil? If not, what exactly do you mean by evil being the absence of good, if not in the context of behavior?

 

I purposely left it ambiguous, because I think that the very concept of "truth" lacks a rigid definition. A discussion on the concept of "truth" could go in a lot of interesting directions, and I didn't want to box it in by virtue of a question that made certain presuppositions that others might feel is unfair. ;)

 

Anyway, how can statements be shown to be true?

Yeah, I agree with you here.

 

Anyway, I think statements can be shown to be consistent with observation and evidence, in which we may call them 'true', and statements can be shown to be consistent with a given some set of axioms, in which we could say they're true, given the axioms are true somehow.

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Wow. So many things to comment on.

 

First, it is possible to prove an "if-then" statement to be true, even if you don't know the truth of either part. That is, you can prove "a implies b" to be true or false, based on it's truth table, without actually knowing if a is true or false.

 

Second, I did a paper on an evil God in college. Basically, I said it was possible, but unlikely. It would be hard to call such a diety "Father" or put any faith in him. And it would be difficult to figure out why such a diety would create us in the first place.

 

As for Atheism being logically inconsistent, I contend that belief systems aren't logical anyway -- they're emotional. Every atheist I have met personally (or read) is ANGRY about something. The Church did something terrible, or their parents disappointed them, or SOMETHING. So, it doesn't have to be logically consistent, since that's not why people believe.

 

And things like Eden and Hell are not necessarily literal, in my personal view.

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Second, I did a paper on an evil God in college. Basically, I said it was possible, but unlikely. It would be hard to call such a diety "Father" or put any faith in him. And it would be difficult to figure out why such a diety would create us in the first place.

It may be hard to call an evil diety "Father" and put faith in him, but that wouldn't make one less likely to exist. It would be figure out why this diety would create us in the first place, yes, but this seems to me to be true whether or not the diety is evil. Would a good diety create us so that we could enjoy life? Why not an evil diety so we could suffer?

 

As for Atheism being logically inconsistent, I contend that belief systems aren't logical anyway -- they're emotional. Every atheist I have met personally (or read) is ANGRY about something. The Church did something terrible, or their parents disappointed them, or SOMETHING. So, it doesn't have to be logically consistent, since that's not why people believe.

Atheism itself isn't a belief system, though atheists could still have belief systems. It seems to me that most atheists consider a-theist to mean not-theist (not a believer in god(s)). In that case, atheism couldn't be logically inconsistent. Also, there are atheists out there who are angry at religion or something events in their lives related to religion, but definitely not all of them.

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As for Atheism being logically inconsistent, I contend that belief systems aren't logical anyway -- they're emotional. Every atheist I have met personally (or read) is ANGRY about something. The Church did something terrible, or their parents disappointed them, or SOMETHING. So, it doesn't have to be logically consistent, since that's not why people believe.

 

I completely disagree with you there. Most people I know are atheists because their parents brought them up as atheists. I doubt anyone would choose to be atheist just because they are angry at religious people.

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Whether it is works of charity, or strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing up children.

 

..........

 

 

I'd say I'm somewhere between religious and agnostic. I don't think there's enough proof that a God exists, but I do believe there is one and live life as if there is.

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First, it is possible to prove an "if-then" statement to be true, even if you don't know the truth of either part. That is, you can prove "a implies b" to be true or false, based on it's truth table, without actually knowing if a is true or false.

 

What if our system of logic turns out to be flawed?

 

 

Second, I did a paper on an evil God in college. Basically, I said it was possible, but unlikely. It would be hard to call such a diety "Father" or put any faith in him. And it would be difficult to figure out why such a diety would create us in the first place.

 

Have you looked around the world? Frankly, an evil deity makes more sense than a benevolent deity.

 

 

As for Atheism being logically inconsistent, I contend that belief systems aren't logical anyway -- they're emotional. Every atheist I have met personally (or read) is ANGRY about something.

 

That may be true; I'm not sure. I do know that I'm not angry about anything. Perhaps that's why I categorize myself as an agnostic. :D

 

Seriously, I still have a lot of residual Catholic angst. I think the church is full of corruption, but that doesn't disprove the religion, nor is it why I gave up on it.

 

And things like Eden and Hell are not necessarily literal, in my personal view.

 

...which raises the age-old question: how do you tell the literal parts of a holy text from the figurative parts?

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I'm not trying to disprove logic. I'm just saying that if we're saying that we "know" A or B because of logic, that presupposes that our system of logic is accurate/true/whatever.

 

 

But yeah, I suppose proving that it is inconsistent would show that it's flawed...I don't know, maybe I'm walking right into a paradox or contradiction here. :)

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Life itself is a paradox, so that's an endless loop.

 

As I said, an evil diety could exist. I just don't think one does. As has been mentioned here elsewhere, evil is a consequence of free will.

 

And as for "what's literal and what's not" -- I don't really care if Abraham is literal (and most people think he is), it doesn't affect the truth of the implications (the if-then statements) of the bible.

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What implications? If Jesus is merely metaphorical, I think that has a large effect on the overall "meaning" of the Bible. Ditto for concepts such as "eternity."

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Well, now, I didn't say I think JESUS is metaphorical. On the contrary, Jesus only makes sense to me if he really existed, really died (sorry Muslims) and was really resurrected. Otherwise, as Paul said, Christianity is pointless and miserable.

 

On the other hand, that doesn't restrict me from believing that perhaps large parts of Genesis are recordings of the oral traditions of the Hebrews. After all, even Moses didn't write the end of Deueteronomy, where Moses dies.

 

I'm a firm believer that myth doesn't come from nowhere. Do I think that Noah literally collected two of each species (and seven pairs of some)? Maybe. Is it possible that this is metaphorical? Yes. Did SOMETHING catastrophic happen the past involving a flood. PROBABLY.

 

Does anyone think that all of Revelation is literal? Did you know that 666 is already on most of the products you buy? Hasn't "this generation" died out already, and yet not "all of these things" have been fulfilled?

 

Hmmmmmmm??????

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...so you cherry-pick the metaphorical elements so that the text remains consistent? "Hmm, this doesn't make literal sense...therefore it's metaphorical. This, on the other hand, is probable...therefore, we'll consider it to be literal truth." Circular reasoning, no?

 

Again, it also raises the question as to why the deity would choose for the text to be so impenetrable (some sects believe it all to be literal truth, while others don't). At least give us headers that indicate which parts are merely metaphorical!

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