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 Religion Revisited 
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Post Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:02 pm
The concept of religion is an interesting one, so let us discuss it intelligently here. In my arguments will be using Christianity as my main example, because I know the most about it. I will be monitoring this topic.

I can't say that I believe in a god. There are several reasons for this, one of which is some powerful insight from Epicurus.
Epicurus wrote:
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?
-Why call him God?
Now, let us consider these points.

-The first point, to which Christianity, and perhaps other religions that I am unaware of, cling to so desperately. They tend to have two arguments, the first of which is that Lucifer impedes God's will on Earth. However, as the Bible tells it, Lucifer is a fallen angel, and is therefore less powerful than God. As there is not supernatural power to be obtained in any fashion, he could not have grown more powerful. God would be, therefore, more powerful than Lucifer, and thus should be able to prevent evil.

-The second argument goes with the second point, as it is argued that humans have a duty to repel evil. However, if a god forces his followers to suffer something that he could take away in the blink of an eye, he is indeed malevolent. The counterargument that is generally used here is the whole bit about original sin, which is cruel in itself, as it serves as punishment for something that somebody who came long before you has done.

The third and fourth points are rather self-explanatory. Those aside, there are wars waged over religion, and these are futile at best. It matters not which religion, including atheistic and polytheistic religions, is right, for when you experience death, whatever is there will be there regardless of what your beliefs say. Toward that end I have fallen into a state of apathetic acceptance, as I feel no need to find out what lies after death before I die; it's not as though you can avoid experiencing death, and you cannot change what lies in wait on the other side of it.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:06 pm
Those are some very informed questions lad and it is a breath of fresh air to see someone consider them in such an enlightened manner. If I may, my view on the subject:

I have just been looking over the proofs of God and religion for Uni and the arguments are quite interesting. For one, there is the ontological argument stating that God is supremely perfect, something that exists is more perfect than something that does not and so therefore God exists. This proof implies via modus tollens that since God exists and is perfect, whatever He wills is also perfect in design, therefore our universe must have a perfect design and thusly all of the suffering is in fact for our own good. I for one think this interesting but not a necessary truth.

The question of God's interference is one of immense interest as one must consider the topic of free will. If God were to interfere with any act of evil He would thusly take away the evil-doer's will (as no 'evil' act can occur without intention, thus thought, thus humanity or something like it) and would perhaps be an even greater evil. Given that God, assuming there is one, has not done this so far it could be assumed that it would indeed be a worse evil to take away their will and so He remains outside of our affairs. This would in a sense only allow for God to appear and interfere in a perfectly Utopian Christian society where evil is naught and His existence is known despite lack of evidence. This would essentially be a Christian heaven on earth and so no divine interference would be needed anyway, thus it is still unbelievable that He would grace man's barren lot even then.

I believe this conversation might also call for a proof AGAINST God and I have just the one: the clashing infinitives. Assuming God is all-powerful, he could do anything. The question then goes: "Okay, then is it possible for him to create a boulder so heavy that he himself could not lift it?"
This dampens hopes for Christians everywhere, as if he is able to create the stone then he is not able to lift it, thus making him other than all-powerful, and if he is not able to make the boulder then he is still less than omnipotent. Questions of this nature are baffling without clear definitions of your key points, and so it has been answered in the following way: That God is omnipotent to the degree of sensibility (that is he has infinite power to the extent of logic) and so it is logically impossible for a boulder to be so heavy that God cannot lift it, thus God cannot create an illogical item such as it.

I might note that I am not a devout Christian in the slightest, but I do find this topic very interesting. I think this is a wonderful topic for people to discuss as it gives a framework for all manner of philosophical arguments: paradoxes, infinitives, free will etc. Please join in guys, I'm sure God wouldn't mind a lil' discussion, nor would any other divine being. I mean, hey, why should another step toward enlightenment bother them?

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:37 pm
(Please note I am Mormon.)

About the "able/willing to prevent evil". In my belief, this world is like a testing ground to see who is on God's side, to put it bluntly. The whole point is that we have free agency (the ability to make our own decisions) and we are trying to overcome temptation. If God were to intervene and eradicate temptation, that would defeat the purpose of this world. We wouldn't have a choice but to be perfect. I could go on, but I think I'll wait a bit and let you guys post.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:54 pm
I think it's appropriate to quote my absolute favourite part of the book "Angels and Demons". The characters speaking are a Lieutenant in the Swiss Guard, and the late Pope's chamberlain:

Lieutenant Chatrand: I don’t understand this omnipotent-benevolent thing.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: You are confused because the Bible describes God as an omnipotent and benevolent deity.
Lieutenant Chatrand: Exactly.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Omnipotent-benevolent simply means that God is all-powerful and well-meaning.
Lieutenant Chatrand: I understand the concept. It’s just… there seems to be a contradiction.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Yes. The contradiction is pain. Man’s starvation, war, sickness…
Lieutenant Chatrand: Exactly! Terrible things happen in this world. Human tragedy seems like proof that God could not possibly be both all-powerful and well-meaning. If He loves us and has the power to change our situation, He would prevent our pain, wouldn’t he?
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Would He?
Lieutenant Chatrand: Well… if God Loves us, and He can protect us, He would have to. It seems He is either omnipotent and uncaring, or benevolent and powerless to help.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Do you have children?
Lieutenant Chatrand: No, signore.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Imagine you had an eight-year-old son… would you love him?
Lieutenant Chatrand: Of course.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Would you let him skateboard?
Lieutenant Chatrand: Yeah, I guess. Sure I’d let him skateboard, but I’d tell him to be careful.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: So as this child’s father, you would give him some basic, good advice and then let him go off and make his own mistakes?
Lieutenant Chatrand: I wouldn’t run behind him and mollycoddle him if that’s what you mean.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: But what if he fell and skinned his knee?
Lieutenant Chatrand: He would learn to be more careful.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: So although you have the power to interfere and prevent your child’s pain, you would choose to show your love by letting him learn his own lessons?
Lieutenant Chatrand: Of course. Pain is part of growing up. It’s how we learn.
Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca: Exactly.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:28 am
Yaz, that was pure win. :) (I really need to read that book....)

Anyways, I really can't add to that, but if anyone has a good arguement against this, please post it. It shall be interesting debating.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:18 pm
Well, God created us as humans, not robots. He doesn't "allow" evil, He "allows" a choice for evil. There's no way to do the "right" thing if the situation is void of the "wrong" thing. Now, were God malevolent, he would have given adam far more than one rule. But instead, he just gave adam one rule, one tree not to eat from, one way to make a mistake. Therefor, there was still a choice, but it seems clear God wasn't rooting for adam to mess up, which would be malevolent.

Quote:
The counterargument that is generally used here is the whole bit about original sin, which is cruel in itself, as it serves as punishment for something that somebody who came long before you has done.


Sin is a genetic disease that we "inherited" from the very first sin. Evil is a symptom of said disease, but not something forced upon us. We still all have a choice, unfortunately, all of us have declined that choice.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:27 pm
If a god allows the choice for evil, he is indirectly allowing evil itself. What makes you think we have free will in the first place? If a god were benevolent, he would drive the evil from the world, and, as good cannot exist without evil, would leave us with only choices that are purely neutral. There is evidence that states that we did not all come from one man and his rib-wife just seven thousand years ago, such as genetics, and nobody has been able to find this so-called "Garden of Eden," from whence all evil is supposedly absent. If evil can be absent from the Garden of Eden, it can be absent from Earth. If sin is a disease, and evil is symptom of that, then how did it all originate? Adam, if he existed, would not have had your "original sin" disease, and therefore would not have made the decision to break the rule.

Your tone, LH, offends me, to say the least, as you make several largely bigoted statements without even half a consideration for what somebody else may see. You speak as though what you tell is fact, and that it cannot be questioned, much like the Christian faith. You wouldn't stand up in a Church and ask a question; it's considered bad form to question any aspect of the faith.

Why? Questions help us to better understand whatever subject we are questioning. If no explanation can be offered, then the subject must be investigated until an explanation can be found, and if one cannot be found, there will always be those who try until one is. However, if you question Christianity, you are met with the universal answer that instructs you not to question the Church, and simply take its words on faith. The same religion has historically done the same thing, and the era just before the Great Awakening springs to mind. Before the Bible was translated out of Latin, the Christian Church, the same Church that preaches the loving of your friends and the putting down of theft, used the Bible to blindside their followers into donating gross amounts of money for many of their own earthly desires. The same thing is preached today, when the church tells you that it is not how much money that you donate that will earn you a place in "Heaven," it is what percentage of your fortune that you donate, and questioning this, I've found several times in different places, only infuriates the Church leaders, and earns you the same "have faith" response. If it is wrong to question something, it is my suspicion that there is some fallacy being covered up.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:15 pm
Your point applies only to certain (admittedly most) churches. Please don't use the term "Christian" so loosely. I understand you don't want to offend particular churches, but you're making it seem like all Christians are the same. It bugs me a little bit. Sorry.

Anyways, my belief (Mormonism) doesn't have those faults. I realize this statement is bold and sounds selfrighteous, but I dare you to find an instance where our church has squandered tithe. Tithing mostly goes towards building churches and Temples, and Fast Offerings, which are donations, go towards charity, usually to the people nearby.

Also, I think we don't believe that Eden still exists, at least as it was before. I'm not sure about that one.

Also, this is a direct quote from The Articles of Faith, which is pretty much a summary of what our church believes:

"We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression."

Thus, we don't believe in all that sin disease stuff.

Hmmm... This discussion is very interesting. :)

Oh yeah, and about the "have faith" thing. I'm a very active Mormon and I can honestly say I have never had that, or something similiar happen to me. All of the questions I had were answered to my satisfaction. (Excluding more specific and trivial questions, of course. I'm talking about stuff about our gospel.)

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:43 pm
Well, DL, I talk about it as if it's fact because I utterly and completely believe it to be fact. I would really enjoy seeing this evidence that claims we didn't come from a man and his "rib-wife" 7,000 years ago. You can cling to your facts and statistics as much as you want DL, you seem to be rather uncomfortable without them, but facts can only be proven by historical evidence, and there is no historical record or scientific evidence that explains an origin of life. Therefor, eventually, DL, you're going to have to believe something not based on fact. For me, Christianity has easily appeared to be the most sensible thing out there, and I'm thoroughly convinced that even if I hadn't had the experiences I've had as a Christian I would easily choose to believe Christianity merely for the lack of a better alternative.

As a side not, "disease" was probably a poor word to use in my earlier post. "Disorder" would be more appropriate. An OCD person isn't physically forced to make everything around him perfect, but he cannot resist because of his own desire for comfort. Thus the way it is with sin. We were born with a disorder, we were able to resist, but we refused so that our own desires could be satisfied.

Questioning isn't wrong DL, I constantly have questions, but I've yet to find a question that Christianity can't answer while other alternatives can.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:24 pm
There is evidence LH, and it's been in front of you all your life in these magical places called museums. Records have been written, entire civilizations dug up, civilizations that had no previous record for thousands of years before. If you say I have no evidence, then why not open your eyes and look outside of your small realm where a single piece of literature constitutes enough evidence to disregard all that remains. By that logic, I could take any book off the shelf, say Dracula, and claim it to be true, and I would gain followers. I could even write my own tale of how Dracula will one day come and save the world from some magical force that cursed the human race thousands of years ago, and I would get followers, and over the course of seven hundred years or so could probably grow as big as Christianity; L. Ron Hubbard did it, and Scientology is still growing after his death. And no, I do not have to believe anything that is not based on fact, because it will never threaten my life. I can go about only believing things based on hard evidence, and while that may not make me the most friends and may not be the safest way to live, I can do it. Yes, Christianity and all other sources can answer any question, but that does not mean that the answers are correct, and without proof, you cannot be sure that they are.

Regardless of what you say LH, I have overwhelming evidence pointing towards the existence of a great many things much longer than a mere seven thousand years ago, and to find this out, go find out about all things Scientific, because everything Scientific relates to how the Earth was formed and how humans evolved in some way, and all of this combined is an amount of evidence that boggles the mind to even imagine. The only evidence you have to show, however, is a single book, one that was originally written in Latin and was translated by misleading, profiteering clergymen during the Great Awakening. But of course, by your logic, there is no proof that the Great Awakening took place.

* * *

Now, I feel I should also address the insight Yazstromo offered. What tends to be overlooked in this regard is, if a god were both benevolent and omnipotent, that god could create a world without pain. If humans felt no pain, it would bring a whole new meaning to Darwinism, but the world could also be created without any harm, and all humans would simply perish when it was time to expire. Religion is a surrealistic topic, and must be thought of as such.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:14 am
See, this is why I'm somewhat of an agnostic; I think that there very well could be something greater than us, but currently, there's not enough proof out there to persuade me that it is a Christian God, or Allah, or the multitude of deities and other such entities that humanity has come up with to explain the world around them. As well as agnostic, I consider myself a Pastafarian (a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), at least in principle. I feel that this complements my agnostic belief (apparently, I'm considered a "spagnostic" :P). For those who don't know, FSMism is basically a response to Intelligent Design, as well as the burden of proof being placed on the skeptic. It's always "prove that there isn't a God", rather than "prove that there IS a God".

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: I feel that I should bring up one of my favourite religious philosophical analogies: Russell's teapot. Coined by famed philosopher Bertrand Russell, it also tries to refute that the burden of proof falls on the skeptic, rather than the believer.

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."

Basically, in the case of an unprovable claim, on which side the burden of proof lies (believer or skeptic) depends on said claim's saturation within society. Which really, when you think about it, shouldn't be the case.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:05 pm
Alright DL, you know the Carbon dating process that evolutionist seem to grasp so tightly too? Well, the Carbon 14 atom used in the misrepresentation also draws another conclusion, one scientist like to ignore. Now if live animals are constantly giving off Carbon, eventually the earth's atmosphere would fill up and would start leaking Carbon. Scientist (not just creationist, basically the general scientific community) estimate that the world would reach equilibrium status (as much going in as going out) after thirty thousand years. The thing is, the concentration of Carbon 14 atoms in the earth's atmosphere is still increasing, which means the earth hasn't reached equilibrium status and can be no older than thirty thousand years.

Now, not only that, but most scientist have admitted that there was some natural disaster that covered the world in water. The Christian version of this is Noah's flood or "the deluge". However, since the scientific community has accepted a similar event occurred, though they obviously claim a deity wasn't behind it, this means that at one point there were mass casualties to the earths natural habitat died en masse. This would make the carbon output in the world decrease considerably. So, if thirty thousand years was the world age estimate at the current rate that Carbon 14 is being given off. And far more Carbon was being given off prior to the natural disaster, that number of thirty thousand would drop considerably. To something like ten or. . . seven thousand.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:29 am
I must say that, after looking up this "carbon equlibrium" business, I find it incredibly amusing that the only sites that discuss this are Christian anti-evolution sites, and that most of them all quote the one website. Also, no scientist says that carbon dating is the be-all and end-all in dating fossils and what-have-you. Many scientists know that carbon dating has its flaws, as do most scientific methods. However, it does TEND to provide a nice, rough estimate of how old something is, within about 30,000 years of its death. We never (or at least, I hope nobody ever) claim that this is concrete proof that such-and-such was this old. We do, however, theorise that, based on this evidence, with these assumptions being made, that we believe this fossil is so many years old.

Plus, at least we're producing evidence to back up our crazy claim. Ooh, snap. :P

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 12:13 pm
Wait. . . I believe I just produced evidence to back up my "crazy" claim. How come my evidence doesn't count? Also, Carbon Dating, again, assumes the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is constant which is ridiculous, because trends have easily shown that the amount of Carbon in the atmosphere has changed drastically over the past few years.

So this evidence you present, is wrong. Ooh, snap.

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Post Re: Religion Revisited • Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:51 pm
Wrong according to you and your one source. And I didn't mean "at least we have evidence backing up carbon dating". I meant that we are at least trying to prove that we're right about evolution, God, etc. Where is Christianity's evidence for their God? You give me evidence that your God exists, and then we've got an even playing field.

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