Atheism, theism and jelly beans

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

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    That's a parody of what people actually believe. While this life may be believed to be but a small fraction, it is also believed to have very serious consequences beyond it. There is also the importance of helping others find their way to a "better place." Both of which add significance to this life, rather than undervalue it. Even in reincarnation, your actions in this life have significant repercussions on the next. Otherwise, such a life, or cycle of lives, would be completely superfluous. That seems to be what you think believers actually believe, which again, is complete parody.

    No believer lives as if they are just passing the time, except maybe in their golden years, where non-believers tend to do the same.
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Vociferous:

    I think we may almost be arriving at a consensus of sorts, at least from my side of the fence. I don't see much to object to in your most recent reply.

    The existence of tomatoes is easily verified by direct sensory experience. I can see a tomato. I can touch it. It can taste it. Not only that, but it seems that anybody in reasonable possession of his or her faculties will agree with me about various properties of the tomato: its size, its colour, its consistency, its composition, etc. If anybody were to doubt the existence of tomatoes, I would only need to go down to the shops and fetch one for them. After being presented with the thing itself, it would be obtuse of them to deny the evidence of their own senses.

    You put forward a similar scenario with respect to God, asking if I would accept evidence of God is it was as mundane as the evidence for a tomato. The answer is yes, I would. But the problem is that the evidence that people put forward for God is not of the same kind as the evidence for a tomato. God is not tangible. We are supposed to rely on such things as personal revelation, inner feelings, authorities telling us about God and so on, to infer that God is real, and the problem with that is that none of these things is a particularly reliable route to objective evidence. If I doubt your God, you can't go to the shop and fetch one to show me.

    There's another problem with God. The problem is that different people tell us lots of different things about God: what he or she is like, where he or she lives, what he or she wants, what he or she does in the world, etc. It's as if different people were to describe a tomato variously as blue, red, white and polka-dotted. With no clear consensus on what is being described, it's hard to nail the thing down and decide what particular evidences will indicate the presence of a tomato.

    Then we come to the extraordinary claims made about Gods (as opposed to tomatoes). Gods supposedly have unique abilities and properties, possessed by nothing else in our experience. In many cases there are no good analogies we can draw to make a useful comparison between what is already known about the world and what is to be proven about the postulated God. That is not, however, true in all cases. For instance, God is often claimed to be the causal agent of various occurrences. We know something about how causes can work, and about what agents are and what they typically do. But when it comes to a god, suddenly we're confronted with an agent unlike any other. This agent can supposedly cause things in such a way that we can't verify that the god was the cause. Moreover, this agent, we are told, can and does act contrary to the natural laws we have discovered govern everything else we know about.

    I concede that it is quite possible to believe in a God who is free to break all the rules, who can be whatever is required to get whatever job done that you require of him/her/it. You can mentally compartmentalise your requirements so that on one side of a partition there are the rules that apply to everything "ordinary" while on the other side there's a completely different set of rules that apply to the god and any other beings or forces that you believe operate supernaturally in the world. But that seems like an arbitrary and ad hoc assumption, and I don't personally see any necessity to make it.

    I'm glad that you recognise that your reasons may not be compelling to others. So many theists - at least the ones who come to sciforums to argue with atheists - are apparently unable to admit that. You get brownie points for that in my book.

    What I wonder, though, is why you would attribute something like morality to a god, when you're aware of alternative natural explanations. One reason might be that you don't find the secular hypotheses convincing; that could be an interesting discussion to have with you. Another possibility is that this stuff about morality and the fact that religion is common in the world are secondary reasons why you believe in God, rather than being your primary reasons. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that you came to believe in God for entirely different reasons than these and that since you came to your belief you have found these additional reasons that appear to fit your worldview.

    There's not much point in my trying to debate these reasons you have given (not in this thread, anyway). You're already aware, it seems, of the kinds of arguments I'd be likely to make.

    Obviously, I have no reply if what convinced you was what you believe was a direct personal connection with God, or something similar, other than to wonder why you would attribute that particular subjective feeling or experience to God. I can't argue against a gut feeling, other than to say that gut feelings aren't always reliable indicators of truth.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I don't think so. I'm willing to concede that some believers have more nuanced views about the afterlife and so on, but I'm also confident that there are plenty of believers out there who really do think that this earthly life is more or less just a rehearsal for the everlasting life hereafter.

    That opens up a whole different can of worms.

    Suppose we take the idea of heaven seriously. Suppose that, in line with some Christian teachings, God will judge us on what we do in our limited time on Earth, and we only get one shot at that. Then we are to believe that in the 80 years we have available on earth - often less, sometimes much less - we must act wisely enough to determine our entire infinite future in the afterlife. Put a foot wrong and we risk being condemned to torment in a purpose-built Hell for all eternity. On the other hand, qualification for entry to eternal paradise can be absurdly simple. You might just need to accept the correct person (Jesus, say) as your personal savior, in which case whatever else you might do in life will be forgiven.

    It doesn't really make much sense, does it? Surely an omniscient God, in his infinite wisdom, will already know whether any given person is destined for heaven or hell. What difference could a historical eye-blink of a mortal life possibly have on any decision God might make regarding an eternity for the immortal soul? Also, what loving God would judge us, with all our limitations and our paltry knowledge, and come to an irrevocable decision regarding our place in heaven or hell? Also, why all this mucking around with the mortal life anyway? Why doesn't God just skip to the chase and put his subjects where he wants them in the first place?

    But God could do that himself, and far more effectively. What's so great about free will that it justifies all this earthly suffering?

    It seems to me that karma is an excuse that some people make in order to justify the status quo. If you're having a hard life, it's your fault: you should have tried harder to be good in your previous life. If, on the other hand, you're having a good life, then it's because you deserve it - not because of anything you did in this life, but because of choice you supposedly made in past lives. The bottom line is: whatever you get, for good or ill, you deserve it, even if it seems unjust given how this life has played out for you so far in comparison to the lives of others who seem more or less worthy than you.

    I think you're wrong. I think that, in fact, there are plenty of believers who can't wait to be rid of this life and who look longingly towards an imagined better time in an afterlife or in the next life. I think that belief in an afterlife has very real impacts on what people do or do not do in this life.

    I agree with you that fear of Hell or a "bad" reincarnation might motivate some people to do good. A promise of heaven or a better future life can also motivate people to strive for better. But notice that, ultimately, these motivations are selfish. I think it is better to help other people because it's the right thing to do, not because I expect a God to reward me in return. A God that tries to compel moral behaviour by means of a carrot or a stick is not a loving God.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  7. Truck Captain Stumpy The Right Honourable Reverend Truck Captain Valued Senior Member

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    I believe the former to be wrong, but the latter to be true. Most of the cultures and religions that I've personally experienced and lived with aren't so much about "wait [-ing] to be rid of this life and who look longingly towards an imagined better time in an afterlife" so much as trying, in the current life, to make choices in order to be able to be accepted (or elevated) into the next life (which is essentially what Vociferous said here)... of course, that is the general picture; the personal picture varies greatly. From my discussions with various belief systems, most of the followers typically are just following the crowd. they've associated themselves with a general belief [group x] and they have lots of friends, peers (or people they want to impress) in said group x, therefore they follow the group. This can change given new information (or a sufficient change, etc). For most, given my discourse, it usually comes down to a few smaller very specific reasons, from a need to feel accepted to a fear of the unknown (especially after death, a covering of the bases for some, so to speak)
    Karma isn't just about what you've gotten because of the past, but what you will get in the future because of the present.
    IMHO - some people definitely use it as an excuse, but it's more like a means to control the subject: act like [x] and you get [insert negative] in return, but act like [y] and you get [inset positive]. it's no different than x-tianity (generally speaking).
     
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  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Off topic, but I read an interesting statistic about Australia yesterday. It seems that about 30% of the population now describe themselves as non-believers of one kind or another. The remaining 70% say they have religious views (believe in a god or Gods etc.). But of those 70% of self-described believers, a full 90% never participate in any organised religion-centred activity (e.g. attending church or religious gatherings).

    It looks a lot like organised religion is on the way out in Australia. No doubt we will still have people who claim to believe in some kind of deity for a long time yet, and no doubt whatever self-contructed belief system they have will continue to impact on their views on lots of social and other issues. But the influence of church hierarchies is on the decline among the general populace. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about church influence on our current government.
     
  9. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    I'm replying to one of the most pernickety pedantic persons on the site, Tiassa. That person tells me I used the word ''mistranslation''.
    I implied it, but I never used the word itself. The irony may have missed you Dave...Context words and their meaning in historical texts. The word itself was not used by me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    You did use it. You used it in post 145.
    In fact, you deliberately misquoted another forum member.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  11. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    504
    Post 145:
    Dave show me using the word ''mistranslation'' itself in post 145? I implied it, but inever used the word itself.

     
  12. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    In post #145, look at what you have quoted Tiassa as saying. Within that quoted text from Tiassa's previous post you have, for whatever reason, included the word "mistranslation", which was never part of what Tiassa originally wrote.
     
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Here:


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!




    This is what Tiassa actually posted:


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    Again: Your post - the post you pressed 'Send' on - was the first use of the word.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    re: Note aside

    Every once in a while, it stands out that some members seem unable to perceive certain things. And here, I don't just mean the obvious. True, we've even provided pictorial evidence, along the way.

    But think about it: The evidence is in a quote, or else in an image behind a spoiler.

    And, for whatever reason, our neighbor simply cannot perceive the evidence we show him.

    I've seen versions of this before, and don't understand the behavior.

    Still, the effect ought to be familiar enough: In asking DaveC↑ to show him where, Foghorn is asking for what is already on the record↑. To be certain, this is hardly unfamiliar, around Sciforums.

    Still, toward the question of perception, notice that his strange use of the word, "mistranslation", comes in a part of the post that won't quote through.

    The question of why Foghorn falsified a quote remains. The spectacle of his pretense, however, is telling: For whatever reason, he botched a citation, and now is apparently incapable of perceiving it. This isn't utterly unbelievable, but the Poe toss, here, is between particular and extraordinary dysfunction, to the one, or some sort of software issue, to the other.

    †​

    If, let's say, thirty times over the course of several years, various people asked you, in various ways, for information you already provided in the course of whatever discussion, would you necessarily notice if fifteen of those occasions were distributed between a small number of individuals who, coincidentally, were missing what was between quote or spoiler tags?

    I mean, seriously, the idea that someone just doesn't want to deal with certain evidence isn't anything unusual, but sometimes the pretense that one doesn't actually see what is right in front of them becomes so demanding that we cannot fail to notice.

    (No, really, once upon a time, I disputed with someone about what he said, quoted his message and linked to it for him, and eventually provided him, twice, I think, an actual screenshot of what I was referring to, and at no point was he capable of recognizing what he was being told about what he said. It was a striking episode, like the Homer Simpson line (#2F01), "I kicked a giant mouse in the butt, do I have to draw you a diagram?" It stands out because to this day I have no idea what to tell him; he literally cannot describe what he cannot perceive. And in all the years I've known him, I cannot recall ever encountering any evidence that he is in fact blind or otherwise impaired.)​

    To the other, if we look at the effect of attempting to accommodate this behavior, perhaps we find some glimpse into its purpose.
     
  15. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    Mea culpa
    I make no excuses
    , my mea culpa
     
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Is that an apology, foghorn?
     
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    That's what it sounded like to me. He has no excuse, and he admits culpability.

    I had assumed it was an honest mistake, though it was exacerbated by further errors in scrutiny.
     
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Yeah, but an apology usually includes a statement not only that you admit you were wrong, but also that you apologise to the person who pointed out your error. Recall that foghorn continued to deny the evidence that was put right in front of him for quite a long time.
     
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  19. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    You get no apology from me on this joke site.
    I will apologise the day you (JR) make MR apologise for calling people liars when their not. Balls in your court jimmy boy, ban me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  20. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    You're not saying that James R is Canada's national hero (when it doesn't come to hockey).

    Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor!

     
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  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    foghorn:

    You were caught out in a lie here. A couple of people pointed you directly to the post where you had inserted a word (or whatever happened to have that appear in what you quoted), and for a long time you denied that your post ever contained such a thing. Eventually, you admitted that it did.

    Ordinarily, I would expect a person with a modicum of good manners would acknowledge those who first politely pointed out his error and credit them for the time and effort they ended up having to put into getting you to see the obvious. But apparently you lack the requisite good graces.

    You sound angry - almost like you think I should know who you are. Do we have some kind of history, such that you feel the need to lash out at me and this site? Do I know you by some other name?

    You ought to realise that two wrongs don't make a right, too. If MR called you a liar, that seems to me to be separate issue from your behaviour. As a grown-up, it would be better if you could take responsibility for your own behaviour before calling out the poor behaviour of others. Given your little display here, though, I don't expect a positive response from you.

    Would it make you feel better if I banned you for a while? Before reading your latest little outburst, I had decided that I wouldn't, based on your half-arsed attempt at what turns out to be a pseudo-apology. But I can accommodate you it it will better assuage your guilt at failing to do the right thing and fully own your actions.
     
  22. foghorn Registered Senior Member

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    Blah Blah blah. It sciforums for christ sake.
     
  23. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I like sciforums and I hope you can grow to appreciate it too.

    I can throw a hissy fit without mocking all the other members of the forum.


    And, I think I can speak for other forum members in saying: I don't know what you're on about, no really I don't to even know as I can only take so much, but chill out will you?

    :EDIT:

    I said this, yes, but I would like others would to take my word it. Cause, I'm getting the feeling of embarrassment if I need document any of that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019

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