People Can't Choose To Believe, Therefore Christianity is False.

The Following is a contribution from The Dude in the Atheist RFC for Empirical Evidence... I think it is brilliant.


Christian salvation doctrine clearly stated in the bible dictates that in addition to good deeds, a "saved" follower must, above all else, choose to believe with no doubts. If one does not utilize the "free will" given to him by god and choose to believe, they will be banished to an eternity of hellish suffering upon death. No amount of good deeds over a lifetime will save a person if they do not choose to believe in the biblical god/Jesus.

The problem with this biblically-stated doctrine is that humans are naturally unable to choose to believe in anything, as belief is the result of biochemical/neurological processing of evidence in the human mind, and how information is processed is biologically unique to every individual. The way an individual processes information is absolutely out of their control - one cannot simply choose to accept evidence, it must be processed and evaluated by the brain, and the result of this processing is either non-belief or belief. Humans are born with specific genetic tendencies beyond their control that dictate how to process information, which can then nurtured or suppressed based on outside factors such as parenting, education, social influences - all of which are not within the control of the individual.

With this premise laid forth, the biblical requirement for salvation based on choosing to believe goes out the window, and thus in my mind dismisses the entire doctrine as jibberish.


81 comments:

Lee Randolph said...

the following is the last comment by James on this subject to me in the "RFC From Atheists..." arcticle. I asked him if he believes that Japan exists and if he can choose not to believe it.

Christian belief is more like saying 'I believe in Japan' rather than saying 'I believe Japan exists'. God has given us evidence for his existence so that evidence won't act as a barrier in coming to Him (but not so much people are forced into a relationship with Him) however belief in Him is more about trusting and loving Him.

People go to Hell because of their sin - not for believing God doesn't exist. People are saved from Hell by trusting in God. In other words everyone gets, at a minimum, what they deserve (i.e punishment for their sin). If some people get more than they deserve (i.e heaven) by trusting in God then how is that unfair?

I'm also curious as to why you appear to accept dualism, although I have no problem with that (i.e the belief that we aren't just robots) as most of the sceptics I've met claim that science suggests out brains are advanced computers running on chemical reactions and electrical signals.

Lee said:"In fact, I came to a hasty conclusion by being a christian. upon further reflection on the evidence which I dredged up through apologetics and bible study, and self education, my belief fell away."
I get the impression that you had a very weak understanding of Christian theology and apologetics before you became an atheist as you'd otherwise realise that when Christians talk about belief they don't mean simply believing God exists.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi James,
Christian belief is more like saying 'I believe in Japan' rather than saying 'I believe Japan exists'.
what does that mean? you believe in what god represents? Are you saying that they are two separate issues?

God has given us evidence for his existence so that evidence won't act as a barrier in coming to Him (but not so much people are forced into a relationship with Him) however belief in Him is more about trusting and loving Him.
It seems to me that the evidence is doubtful. It seems like it could be naturally occurring. Since that is the case we need some other evidence. I used the trust and love angle to look for more evidence and consistency. I think that love and trust are feelings and not subject to our will. Since that is the case, then god should behave in ways that foster those feelings. Violations of principles of logic, morality as well as biblical promises about prayer and Jesus return during the lifetime of the disciples (to name a few) undermine that trust. In order to communicate with us and relate to us God necessarily had to make some implicit commitments that he is not living up to. Its like he's not in the relationship. Its like a god didn't have anything to do with the Bible. I am expending a lot of energy exploring this idea in my articles this month.

People go to Hell because of their sin - not for believing God doesn't exist. People are saved from Hell by trusting in God. In other words everyone gets, at a minimum, what they deserve (i.e punishment for their sin). If some people get more than they deserve (i.e heaven) by trusting in God then how is that unfair?
I don't follow the logic. First off, trust is not something you choose. You can make the effort to act as if you trust someone, but if you don't "feel" the trust, then you won't and typically, we don't have that much control over our feelings if any. Secondly, you seem to be equating trust with sin. Not trusting god is a sin? Then if God violates my trust I have sinned? That doesn't follow. People get more than they deserve by trusting in god is unfair because their temperament is obviously more gullible than skeptical, and temperament is not something that we have much control over either.

I'm also curious as to why you appear to accept dualism, although I have no problem with that (i.e the belief that we aren't just robots) as most of the sceptics I've met claim that science suggests out brains are advanced computers running on chemical reactions and electrical signals.
I don't know where you got that. I think my personality is made up of little sets of electrochemical reactions that interact to make more complex ones, and so on. If you stuck an icepick through my eye, you may not kill me but you very likely would affect my higher reasoning and inhibitory circuitry making me more likely to do things that you would consider 'sinful'.

Lee said:"In fact, I came to a hasty conclusion by being a christian. upon further reflection on the evidence which I dredged up through apologetics and bible study, and self education, my belief fell away."
I get the impression that you had a very weak understanding of Christian theology and apologetics before you became an atheist as you'd otherwise realise that when Christians talk about belief they don't mean simply believing God exists.

what christians mean "about* belief is irrelevant. People can't choose to believe, you still haven't answered the question. Can you choose not to believe that japan exists? Can you choose not to believe in what japan stands for?
If my theology was weak, blame the teacher cause in this case, revelation only comes from one place, right? I'll believe when my belief 'toggle' switches. It was set for me when I was a child, then after 30 or so years it switched over as I did an honest search for God. See if god had just made it so the 9/11 highjackers were caught ahead of time, none of this would have happened to me because I would have just gone along as a "C&E" "Spiritual" christian instead of losing my faith.

See I couldn't resolve why god would allow it to appear as though he answered the Hijackers prayers instead of the people that had to jump to their death from the towers leaving their families behind. I have to say that the Icon for my atheism is on page 9 of Time magazines sept. 11 issue. There are five people jumping to their death from the towers. My faith went with them. Isn't suicide a sin? It does not compute. It doesn't fit in my head.

Lee Randolph said...

I mentioned the icon of my atheism.
here is what I am talking about. My belief went with him.

It seems silly now but I prayed that god would let them float down like feathers. I pleaded with him how much it would glorify him.
Obviously my prayer wasn't answered. I cried like a baby that day.

Bertram Cabot, Jr. said...

It was stated that what we believe is the result of biological/neurological processing and that this is unique to every individual.

How do you know this?

Evidence please.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bertram,
One place to find this information is to buy a used copy of "Psychology, sixth edition" by Gleitman, Fridlund, and Reisberg, and read it or go to itunes and download the Berkley Psychology course and listen to it or do what i did and do both.

John W. Loftus said...

Bertram Cabot, Jr. is "The Man who was never born." Another one of Frank Walton's names I think.

GordonBlood said...

Christian salvation doctrine clearly stated in the bible dictates that in addition to good deeds, a "saved" follower must, above all else, choose to believe with no doubts.
That is obiously not true. I believe it is Tillich, though I may be mistaken, who said that doubt is not seperate from faith but part of it. If there were no doubt, there would be no faith. That doesnt mean faith is true, it just means that one can have doubts about something and still commit to it and believe it.

Anonymous said...

GordonBlood, when a believer has doubts he doesn't have faith during that doubtfull time. The believer may return to faith after a while but he/she stoped having faith. If a man has a 3min intercourse outside marriage while being 24 hours faithfull to his wife do you consider he's still faithfull? Or course not.
So all a believer has to hope for is that God will count really good the seconds of disbelief and that God will not be the monster from the Old Testament. A believer must hope that God is nothing like the God portrayed in the book that's the base of his/her belief. Or maybe you hope someday god will ask you to kill your children?

Kevin H said...

I think some issues are emerging. First, I affirm that God is interested in a lot more than mere acknowlegement of his existence. Therefore, he reveals himself in such a way as promotes filial relationship, rather than (perhaps grudgingly) admitting he exists.


Second, the transcendence of God can overwhelm our dependence on the empirical and cause doubt. I don't have any trouble believing God exists. I have trouble trusting him when things get tough. I sometimes have the nagging feeling he is going to screw things up by not doing things my way!

By the way, the more one embraces a naturalistic worldview, the more irritating the transcendence of God becomes! So it, again, gets back to worldviews.

Also, I constantly see this notion of God demanding we believe a specific set of propositions and if we get any of them wrong we fry in hell.

In this way, religion or Christianity is seen as inventing a problem so you can be sold a "cure".

Rather, I would look at the charred bodies falling from the WTC and admit we indeed have a problem and desperately need a cure!

Shygetz said...

John Adams made much the same point in describing why the so-called Mystery of the Trinity was impossible.

"Tom, had you and I been 40 days with Moses, and beheld the great God, and even if God himself had tried to tell us that three was one . . . and one equals three, you and I would never have believed it. We would never fall victims to such lies."
— John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson

His point was that, even if threateden by the most terrible of authorities, he could not FORCE himself to believe; he could only pretend to believe.

Second, the transcendence of God can overwhelm our dependence on the empirical and cause doubt...the more one embraces a naturalistic worldview, the more irritating the transcendence of God becomes! So it, again, gets back to worldviews.


Word salad. What do you suggest God is "transcending" here, how does that "transcendence" overwhelm our dependence on the sole reliable method for us to find truth, and why do you assume that such "transcendence" is a desirable thing?

And contrary to your belief (and, apparently, C.S. Lewis'), I am not nor have I ever been angry, irritated, or otherwise peeved at God, any more than I have been angry with Tinkerbell. I do get irritated with theists who cannot (or choose not to) find a coherent argument with both hands, so instead decide to "transcend" logic and "transcend" evidence in their flights of fancy, expecting me to rely upon revealed truth which we know to be unreliable (have you driven a Revealed Car lately?) Please don't be one of them.

james said...

Lee Said:what does that mean? you believe in what god represents? Are you saying that they are two separate issues?
A Satanist might believe that God exists however that doesn't mean they believe in God and are thus going to be saved. There is a difference.

Lee said:It seems to me that the evidence is doubtful.
But is it that you recognise the evidence and come to believe in God or you want to believe in God and then recognise the evidence.?
Lee said:It seems like it could be naturally occurring.
The idea that the universe came from nowhere, is going nowhere with no reason and no purpose as far as I'm concerned requires more faith.

Lee said:Since that is the case, then god should behave in ways that foster those feelings
Sometimes you have to accept responsibility for your actions. Otherwise we could all go around saying:'it's not my fault God made me such a jerk!' or 'it's not my fault God tempted me into adultery, he shouldn't have created women'

Lee said:biblical promises about prayer and Jesus return during the lifetime of the disciples (to name a few
Jesus didn't and the Bible promises no such thing - look at (2 Peter 3) I can't see how it's God's fault that you've gone and read loads of atheist junk.

Lee said:I don't follow the logic. First off, trust is not something you choose.
If you're house is on fire it's your fault if you don't trust the fire brigade to rescue you.

Lee said:Secondly, you seem to be equating trust with sin.
No - sin is going against the moral law God put in our hearts We have all sinned and so need God to save us.

Lee said:their temperament is obviously more gullible than skeptical
My experience is that people will be ridiculously sceptical towards Christianity and then believe any only rubbish they read on their favourite atheist blog. I see no evidecne that atheists are less gullible than Christians. In fact the success of Zeitgeist the Movie has been taken by some as evidence to the contrary.

Lee said:I think my personality is made up of little sets of electrochemical reactions that interact to make more complex ones, and so on.
In which case why don't you follow it to its logical conclusion in that everything we do is predetermined and thus we are just robots with no responsibility or freedom at all?

Lee said:If my theology was weak, blame the teacher cause in this case, revelation only comes from one place, right? I'll believe when my belief 'toggle' switches. It was set for me when I was a child, then after 30 or so years it switched over as I did an honest search for God.
I don't agree with this blame culture where nothing is ever our fault. We can always blame stuff we do on others (e.g 'it's not my fault I murdered him, he annoyed me and the man in the shop shouldn't have sold me a gun!') but do you really believe we have no responsibility for our actions and choices? If someone commits adultery do they shrug off all responsibility and claim they had no control over who (or what) they fell in love with?

Lee said:See if god had just made it so the 9/11 highjackers were caught ahead of time, none of this would have happened to me because I would have just gone along as a "C&E" "Spiritual" christian instead of losing my faith.
Maybe God's priorities are different to yours. The people who died in 9/11, however tragic, make up only a tiny percentage of the people who died that year. If there is life after death then maybe stopping 9/11 wasn't God's number 1 priority. Presumably you would argue that it wasn't the terrorist's fault as they just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when Bin Laden as doing his recruitment round.

Lee said:My faith went with them.
So it was really emotional reasons that made you lose your faith (unless you didn't realise that people die)

anonymous saidThe believer may return to faith after a while but he/she stoped having faith.
The Bible documents the disciples and Christians Paul etc is writing to as having doubts. Peter even denied knowing Jesus to the guards and yet was still saved. The Bible does not say that Christians can't have doubts etc.

anonymous said:A believer must hope that God is nothing like the God portrayed in the book that's the base of his/her belief.
I would encourage you to actually read the Bible rather than just relying on atheist 'look how unfair God is' lists.

ShygetzHis point was that, even if threateden by the most terrible of authorities, he could not FORCE himself to believe;
So is it wrong that you would only invite your friends to a party? Is it wrong that God only invites those who trust in Him to Heaven?

ShygetzI do get irritated with theists who cannot (or choose not to) find a coherent argument with both hands
I could say the same about atheists

Bertram Cabot, Jr. said...

Lee, that is an interesting answer, and lets you avoid answering the question.

Just saying , here, go read this book, seems to suggest that YOU do NOT have an answer.

(by the way, John' attempt to "poison the well" by smearing me does not answer the question either.)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bert,
would you like me to give you a recap of the book, or regurgitate the 80 hours of neuroscience lectures I've been through?

it was a polite way to tell you to go do your homework because when you say "It was stated that what we believe is the result of biological/neurological processing and that this is unique to every individual. Evidence please."
you need to get up to speed on how the brain works.

But rather than chase that red herring, lets focus shall we? What is your opinion of the thesis? Do you choose what you believe in?

GordonBlood said...

Anonymous... and thank goodness you are anonymous for such a response... that is absolute nonsense. Let us say for the absolute sake of argument that a scientist doubts the theory of evolution (and no, im not doubting the theory, I am using this precisely because there is much good evidence FOR it). Does that mean he no longer believes in evolution? No, it means hes having questions about it. That is all. In the same vein of thought when a believer wonders why God did/didnt do X it doesnt mean for a second that he no longer has faith that God is there. I have faced doubt in my belief in God, and most atheists I know have faced doubt about their atheism. It is the human condition, nothing more.

The Dude said...

First of all, thanks to Lee Randolph for the kind words on my contribution to the blog. I have never had the word "brilliant" attributed to my name, so it was very flattering indeed!

What I'm noticing here is the tendency for people to attempt to refute the claim that humans cannot choose to believe with things that don't hold water. For example, James said that if we can't choose to trust, we shouldn't trust firefighters to save our house.

Well, James, honestly I don't trust that they will save my house. I DO expect them to make very effort save it, and I do hold quite a bit of trust that if I call 911 to report the fire, they'll show up. However, once again I didn't CHOOSE to trust that they'll show up out of thin air! This trust is the mere result of information previously processed that has proven to me that, when called, these firefighters will show up and try to save my house.

Again, trust, belief, faith, love, anger, happiness, sadness, are all uncontrollable conclusions (emotions) that we come to involuntarily. They occur because there was a previous source or catalyst that began the biochemical processing of information - in this case, there's physical, historical proof that I've personally SEEN that if one calls 911 to report a fire, people that are hired to fight fires will indeed show up.

With that said, James, since you think trust and belief is a choice, I challenge you to choose to not trust that firefighters will show up. Although you know that if you call 911 and report a fire, history has proven (and you have SEEN it happen with your own eyes) that they will show up, CONVINCE yourself that they won't.

You can't do it.

Shygetz said...

The idea that the universe came from nowhere, is going nowhere with no reason and no purpose as far as I'm concerned requires more faith.

Faith in what?

If you're house is on fire it's your fault if you don't trust the fire brigade to rescue you.

If and only if I have EVIDENCE that a fire brigade exists to help me. Say I lived in the wilderness; I would not be able to believe in a fire brigade that I knew damn well didn't exist, no matter how much comfort their supposed imminent arrival would give me as I burned to death.

Jesus didn't and the Bible promises no such thing

I've read the Bible, as have everyone else here. To state that Jesus never said He would return within the lifetime of people then on Earth is false and disingenuous at best (Matt. 16:28). The medeival Church even invented an immortal Jew to get around the problem.

In which case why don't you follow it to its logical conclusion in that everything we do is predetermined and thus we are just robots with no responsibility or freedom at all?

Ummm, how do you get "no free will" from physicalism? Hate to tell you this, but computers are already starting to generate rudimentary free will in unsupervised machine learning experiments; has God granted them a soul?

I don't agree with this blame culture where nothing is ever our fault.

No, you idiot. Revealed truth comes from God, not culture. If God did not reveal a truth compelling enough to stand up against, say, the 9/11 event then blame Him.

I would encourage you to actually read the Bible rather than just relying on atheist 'look how unfair God is' lists.

Again, we've read it. Many of us were brought to atheism/agnosticism by reading it. God (esp. OT God) is a Dick.

So is it wrong that you would only invite your friends to a party? Is it wrong that God only invites those who trust in Him to Heaven?

Wow...just, wow. Talk about bad analogies. First of all, what does liking someone have to do with believing in their existence? Second, Heaven is like a house party now? So what is Hell then, a Friday night in front of the TV? If so, then your PR department has been doing a lot of False Witnessing--looks like an eternity of Friends reruns for you, bub. And third, yes, I do invite people who do not worship my very being to my party. In fact, I am quite likely to NOT invite anyone who DID worship me; that would be creepy.

I could say the same about atheists

Yet at least you believe atheists exist. Why don't you tell me how pissed off you get about those damn uppity Hobbits, and then we'll talk about how angry I am at God.

lee said...

Many people go to hell because someone who God chose 6000 years ago to be the federal head of mankind ate some exotic fruit by the prompting of a talking snake and plunged not only mankind, but also all of creation into a state of spiritual death.
The doctrine of the fall is, whether you are arminian or calvinist a rationally untenable position. Both views agree that there is a necessary condition that must be met before anyone can come to christ. ( "no man can come to me unless it has been granted unto him by the father") For the Calvinist it is irresistable grace, for the arminian it is prevenient grace. The arminian thinks his view is so much more just than the calvinist because he thinks he believes in hypothetical universalism. The problem is millions upon millions of people never hear the gospel and therefore never have an "opportunity" for salvation. So, man is born into this world and cannot affect his salvation unless God does something first in his life. He is dead because God chose Adam to represent him and the man God chose blew it. Because he is born incapable of living a righteous life he is doomed to an eternity that is beyond the scope of the human imagination to comprehend. This in my view is like god punishing retarded children for being born retarded. It violates every conception of justice and therefore invalidates the proposition of an actual god.

The Dude said...

Lee said:

The problem is millions upon millions of people never hear the gospel and therefore never have an "opportunity" for salvation. So, man is born into this world and cannot affect his salvation unless God does something first in his life. He is dead because God chose Adam to represent him and the man God chose blew it.

This is another topic that I have discussed at length with a few religious/non-religious friends of mine. The fact that god's perfect creation was apparently not so "perfect", yet according to the biblical doctrine, it is the fault of humans because of the first man's choice to eat a fruit against the will of his god. This proves that man has free will indeed, but only free will and control of their actions, not their beliefs or emotions. Perhaps Adam was hungry and the only food for miles was the fruit of the tree? Adam has no control over hunger, it's a natural, biochemical process that is involuntary. He could "choose" to not eat the fruit and starve to death, but at some point human subconscious instinct for survival kicks in and overrides one's ability to "choose" against performing a physical action. Did this happen with Adam? We'll never know, as the story in Genesis leaves out many possible conditions (how convenient!).

Lee also mentions the case of humans on the planet that were not privy to the preaching of the word, and therefore had no idea such actions by a god/creator were expected of them. This brings us to the many times in the OT that god simply swiped all lives from anyone associated with an evil society, rather than singling out the bad apples for killing in a population. I have argued that a god killing an entire population of people simply because a handful of representatives of a civilization were murderous maniacs is completely unjust and unfair, and far from representing a god of infinite "love". This drastic approach is analogous to Muslim extremists wiping out an entire city of Americans because of their disapproval of the US Government's policies towards the middle east - when one apple spoils the whole bunch, rather than pick out the bad ones and save the good ones, let's just wipe them all out! Doesn't the omnipotent, omniscient god of the bible have a better vision and control over picking and choosing between good and bad? It would seem as though one that claims to know good from bad and claims to be the judge of good and bad would possess the ability to weed through the good and bad on earth and act accordingly!

Finally, the topic of involuntary human exclusion from the propagation of the requirements of the god of the bible can also be applied to the Noah's Ark myth. Noah supposedly lived some 300 years, and during this time, was tasked by god to preach to the entire world the warnings of believe or be killed in a great flood. Does this god really expect modern humans to believe that 1) a man lived 300 years during a time when the average life lasted ~37 years?; 2) against all logistical possibilities during a time when even the WHEEL wasn't invented, this man managed to physically scour the entire planet and reach every single human being alive (this would be required in order to give everyone on earth an equal opportunity to evaluate the information and come to a decision on belief or non-belief)?

Again, we see that the omnipotent god of the bible fails to possess the ability to forgive those that never had the opportunity to have this information introduced to them so as to come to a conclusion of belief or disbelief. And this is fair/loving/patient/forgiving HOW?

james said...

The-dude said:I have never had the word "brilliant" attributed to my name before
I will refrain from making the obvious comment:p

the-dude saidI didn't CHOOSE to trust that they'll show up out of thin air!
I didn't choose to trust in God out of thin air

the-dude said:in this case, there's physical, historical proof that I've personally SEEN that if one calls 911 to report a fire, people that are hired to fight fires will indeed show up.
And I have seen good historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus

the-dude said:since you think trust and belief is a choice, I challenge you to choose to not trust that firefighters will show up.
I'm not saying that my belief in God is random or I could just decide to stop believing in God (as is the case with any belief). What I'm disputing is the idea we take no responsibility for our beliefs and actions which result in those beliefs. Where our beliefs come from and how we arrive at them is a complex matter which much research is being done into.

Shygetz said:Faith in what?
faith that a complex universe can come out of nothing and everything you see clicked into place like clockwork and was one big accident.

Shygetz said:If and only if I have EVIDENCE that a fire brigade exists to help me.
Judging by your posts 'm not convinced that it is evidence that's stopping you believing in God - you're statement then we'll talk about how angry I am at God. I think is the real reason.

Shygetz sid said:I've read the Bible, as have everyone else here. To state that Jesus never said He would return within the lifetime of people then on Earth is false and disingenuous at best (Matt. 16:28).
Jesus has just be talking about his death and resurrection. Peter tells Jesus this won't happen. Then we reach verse 28. Looking at the context, verse 28 is not talking about Jesus returning. Seeing as there are passages in the Bible such as 2 Peter 3 that are very clear on the issue I think this is a typical case of quoting the Bible out of context.

Shygetz said:Hate to tell you this, but computers are already starting to generate rudimentary free will in unsupervised machine learning experiments; has God granted them a soul?
In machine learning the computer does not have free will but makes decisions based upon rules defined by the programmer, it's just that the rules take into account past experience. There is much work being done in this area of Computer Science and hence why I feel we can't jump to conclusions on the issue.

Shygetz said:Again, we've read it. Many of us were brought to atheism/agnosticism by reading it.
Having the read the whole Bible myself and having reached a complexity different conclusion maybe we have demonstrated that it isn't evidence that brings people to Christ.

Shygetz said:First of all, what does liking someone have to do with believing in their existence?
Chrisitan salvation is based on loving and trusting God, not believing in His existence. This has already been pointed out to you.

Shygetz said: So what is Hell then, a Friday night in front of the TV
My analogy said nothing about what Heaven and Hell is like, it was an an analogy to demonstrate why it is fair for God to only save people who love Him. You are trying to take my analogy and use it to make a point which is irrelevant to this discussion.

Shygetz said:In fact, I am quite likely to NOT invite anyone who DID worship me; that would be creepy.
Don't forget that we're not equal to God. Is it right for me to rule over my friends? No because I'm equal to them. Is it right for a shepherd to rule over his sheep? Yes because the shepherd is a higher authority.

Lee said: So, man is born into this world and cannot affect his salvation unless God does something first in his life.
Hence we're saved by grace. But being saved is different to being condemned. We are not condemned because we don't believe God exists, we are condemned because of our sin.

Lee said:This in my view is like god punishing retarded children for being born retarded.
So are you asking why God made you so retarded?

james said...

the dud said: We'll never know, as the story in Genesis leaves out many possible conditions
and don't tell me, you're going to fill in all of the gaps for us...the point is Adam and Eve ignored what God had told them just as we do when we sin.

the-dude said:I have argued that a god killing an entire population of people simply because a handful of representatives of a civilization were murderous maniacs is completely unjust and unfair, and far from representing a god of infinite "love".
I thin you'll find it was a bit more than a handful - read Genesis 18:16-33.

Now lets look at the more modern event of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. Yes - innocent children died but was it morally wrong? Well that's a difficult moral dilemma and so are the bits in the Bible where God wipes out whole cities.

the-dude said:(this would be required in order to give everyone on earth an equal opportunity to evaluate the information and come to a decision on belief or non-belief)?
Interestingly, as soon as you accept that it was a local flood all of your objections float away.

the-dude said:Again, we see that the omnipotent god of the bible fails to possess the ability to forgive those that never had the opportunity to have this information introduced to them so as to come to a conclusion of belief or disbelief. And this is fair/loving/patient/forgiving HOW?
And why do you assume that anyone deserves to be forgiven by God?

The Dude said...

My responses to James in bold italics

The-dude said:I have never had the word "brilliant" attributed to my name before
I will refrain from making the obvious comment:p

Well thanks.

the-dude saidI didn't CHOOSE to trust that they'll show up out of thin air!
I didn't choose to trust in God out of thin air

Then what made you trust him? Oh wait, you say something about it below...I'll address that instead

the-dude said:in this case, there's physical, historical proof that I've personally SEEN that if one calls 911 to report a fire, people that are hired to fight fires will indeed show up.
And I have seen good historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus

You have not seen anything. You've read circumstantial, 2000+ year old written witness accounts of seeing a dead guy walking the earth. You've seen nothing. I've seen firefighters work 1st hand. There's no comparison here. Yours is circumstantial, mine is evidenced by not only my eyes, but video, audio, and many MILLIONS of LIVING eye-witnesses.

the-dude said:since you think trust and belief is a choice, I challenge you to choose to not trust that firefighters will show up.
I'm not saying that my belief in God is random or I could just decide to stop believing in God (as is the case with any belief).

But why not? If you think a person can choose to believe, why can't they also choose not to believe? I think I have the answer - belief or non-belief is not within our control, and that's why you are UNABLE (per your own words) to NOT believe - you can't control how your mind perceives the information/evidence, and thus can't control whether or not you believe or don't believe (as is the case with any belief). Thanks for solidifying my point!

What I'm disputing is the idea we take no responsibility for our beliefs and actions which result in those beliefs. Where our beliefs come from and how we arrive at them is a complex matter which much research is being done into.

Beliefs and actions are two separate things. Believing is not an action, it's an involuntary conclusion. An action is what happens afterwards, and is physical in nature. An action is voluntary.

Lee said: So, man is born into this world and cannot affect his salvation unless God does something first in his life.
Hence we're saved by grace. But being saved is different to being condemned. We are not condemned because we don't believe God exists, we are condemned because of our sin.

But in order to be saved we have to believe. You've painted yourself into a corner with this reply. What other options are there if you don't believe, regardless of sin? Seems like we're hellbound due to sin unless we choose to believe, and there's no other option.

Shygetz said...

I didn't choose to trust in God out of thin air...And I have seen good historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus...I'm not saying that my belief in God is random or I could just decide to stop believing in God (as is the case with any belief). What I'm disputing is the idea we take no responsibility for our beliefs and actions which result in those beliefs.

No, I dare say your beliefs did not come out of thin air; they came largely from your societal upbringing. The number one predictor of what religion you will profess is what religion your peers profess. How much credit/blame do you take for that?

Judging by your posts 'm not convinced that it is evidence that's stopping you believing in God - you're statement then we'll talk about how angry I am at God. I think is the real reason.

Oh goody, another Christian who can read my mind. Tell you what; if the Power of Christ lets you read my innermost intentions, you'll have won at least one convert. So go ahead; tell me what I'm thinking right now.

And before we can talk about how angry I am at God, you have to tell me how angry you are at Hobbits. You "forgot" to quote that part of my statement.

Looking at the context, verse 28 is not talking about Jesus returning. Seeing as there are passages in the Bible such as 2 Peter 3 that are very clear on the issue I think this is a typical case of quoting the Bible out of context.

Liar. I just don't know any more charitable way to put this.

24Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

Did Jesus come back with his angels in glory and repay each person according to what he has done? Context my ass; Peter was upset because Jesus said he was to die, and Jesus replies that yes, he will die, but he will come into his kingdom in their lifetime. 2 Peter was supposedly written by Peter, so the prophecy had not yet expired. In fact, 2 Peter was almost certainly pseudonymous--in fact, it is the most unanimously dismissed NT letter (Carson, D.A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament, second edition. HarperCollins Canada; Zondervan: 2005). But that's pesky evidence again, and you don't hold no truck with that there sorta thing.

In machine learning the computer does not have free will but makes decisions based upon rules defined by the programmer, it's just that the rules take into account past experience.

If the computer takes into account past experiences that were not input by the programmer, than it does not operate SOLELY by rules defined by the programmer. Similarly, just because you act out instincts that have been imprinted upon you by evolution does not mean that your actions are wholly dictated by evolution; they have been molded by your environment. Where is the difference? Oh yeah, that magical soul that you can't find, measure, or even coherently describe.

There is much work being done in this area of Computer Science and hence why I feel we can't jump to conclusions on the issue.

Little or none of which you are familiar with, I bet. Computers do learn, and they learn in ways and come up with conclusions that not only were not programmed in by human operators, but that often surprise human operators. This is settled science. You can quibble about definitions of free will if you like, but computers already posess the ability to do other than exactly what they are told.

Having the read the whole Bible myself and having reached a complexity different conclusion maybe we have demonstrated that it isn't evidence that brings people to Christ.

There also still exist Young Earthers, Flat Earthers, evolution denialists, Holocaust denailists, relativity denialists, etc. What we have demonstrated is that, for some people, no amount of evidence is sufficient to get them to believe something they don't like.

Chrisitan salvation is based on loving and trusting God, not believing in His existence. This has already been pointed out to you.

And you can't love and trust someone who you think doesn't exist. This has already been pointed out to you, but hasn't permeated yet.

My analogy said nothing about what Heaven and Hell is like, it was an an analogy to demonstrate why it is fair for God to only save people who love Him. You are trying to take my analogy and use it to make a point which is irrelevant to this discussion.

No, I am trying to point out how absurdly inapplicable your analogy is. Now, perhaps you could adjust it thus:

"Now, if you were throwing a grand gala ball, would you invite people you didn't like? No; you would drag them into the street and torture them for the entertainment of your guests."

THAT would be more applicable.

Don't forget that we're not equal to God.

Hey, you were the one that implied that we were by analogizing the selection of the Elect with a human party guest list. Your mistake, not mine.

Is it right for a shepherd to rule over his sheep? Yes because the shepherd is a higher authority.

Ah, so your analogy should have been "Would a good shepard only protect sheep that personally like him?" Oooo, oooo, I know the answer to that one! Pick me, pick me!

We are not condemned because we don't believe God exists, we are condemned because of our sin.

Bullshit. The Great Commandment? "You shall love the Lord your God with al1 your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Can't love someone who you don't think exists. So, even were an atheist to live an otherwise completely blameless life, he would be condemned for his disbelief alone.

I miss Victor Reppert.

lee said...

Freewill? What does it mean to be a free and moral creature under the theoretical sovereignty of god? There are many definitions bandied about in our culture but many christians use this definition. "The ability to make choices in which nothing previous to the choice affects or determines the choice." It is a matter of caprice. The problem with this definition is two fold, #1. there is a theological problem, god seems to be concerned not only with the choices that we make but with the motives behind our choices. The other problem is a rational problem, can you have an effect with out a cause? ... or is that a rational impossibility? Freewill is nothing more than our ability to choose in accordance with our greatest desire... at the moment of our choice. So what does this mean for a "fallen race" such as man? Scripture declares that the "carnal" mind is HOSTILE to the things of god... for it is not subject to the laws of god... neither indeed CAN HE BE. Neither indeed does he (man) have the ability to do so. As I stated earlier.... you are born dead and incapable of affecting your own salvation due to the nature imposed upon you by a representative that you did not choose and for which you are declared guilty and punished. The difference between arminianism and calvinism is not ultimately who is saved. Both sides agree that "whosoever will... come." In other words if you wish to come to christ you can come to christ. Ultimately the only difference between these two major theological positions is WHY do those who come to christ, come to christ? Freewill? Since both sides theoretically are by virtue of the fall, predisposed to sin. Either irresistable grace is true or those who choose christ of their own volition have some virtue inherent in themselves that others do not have. Either way it means that millions upon million will die and spend an eternity being tortured for being born. The doctrine of the fall is a major doctrine of the christian faith embraced by the vast majority of the church today.... catholic and protestant.

The Dude said...

My replies to James again in bold italic

the dud said: We'll never know, as the story in Genesis leaves out many possible conditions
and don't tell me, you're going to fill in all of the gaps for us...the point is Adam and Eve ignored what God had told them just as we do when we sin.

No, that's the job of the Christian interpretation - to fill in the contextual gaps with interpretations that "fit" an agenda.

And, regarding Adam & Eve's ignoring what god told them - I know the reason. However, it begs a good question - while we sit here and argue evidence for the existence of a supernatural deity, let's look at the evidence Adam & Eve supposedly had as the first two humans on earth (per the biblical story). They were the first two on earth - they talked to god directly. There was no one there (other than some silly snake) to convince them that the evidence they had of god talking to them and warning them of the fruit was not good evidence. In other words, if we all had that kind of evidence (seeing/talking to god directly), we'd be committing suicide by not heeding the warning. The proof would be right there and there would be no one around to argue against it! Besides that, what was the reasoning behind the "don't-eat-the-fruit" command/test in the first place? Genesis says god created a perfect universe with perfect life, and even took off a day to sit back and see "that it was good, and he was pleased". But right off the bat, god apparently doubts his own perfect creation and decides to not only allow another supernatural being influence (Satan in the snake), but feel the need to test his first two humans for loyalty?!? Do you see how absurd this is from the very beginning?


the-dude said:I have argued that a god killing an entire population of people simply because a handful of representatives of a civilization were murderous maniacs is completely unjust and unfair, and far from representing a god of infinite "love".
I thin you'll find it was a bit more than a handful - read Genesis 18:16-33.

Ok, so let's say it's 99% of the population were this way. Still doesn't warrant killing the 1% that DIDN'T behave this way!

Now lets look at the more modern event of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. Yes - innocent children died but was it morally wrong? Well that's a difficult moral dilemma and so are the bits in the Bible where God wipes out whole cities.

They weren't bombing Hiroshima in the name of god. And, the bombing of Hiroshima wasn't meant to be "the word" of a god. In the OT, GOD HIMSELF did the acts and wanted this to be written as "the word and truth". There's a significant difference.

the-dude said:(this would be required in order to give everyone on earth an equal opportunity to evaluate the information and come to a decision on belief or non-belief)?
Interestingly, as soon as you accept that it was a local flood all of your objections float away.

You mean as soon as you ignore all other evidence to the contrary and "choose" to accept it?

james said...

There seems to be a confusion of two issues:

1) Can we swap our beliefs on the spot whenever we feel like it or is it slightly more complex?
No, we can't and we agree on this
2)Does it therefore follow that we aren't responsible for our beliefs and actions?
You seem to be avoiding this one. If I believe that murder is morally right and that you are an idiot am I responsible if I murder you regardless of how I arrived at my beliefs?

Stop creating a straw man version of me which suggests we go to Hell for believing God doesn't exist and that our beliefs are things we make up as we go along and change all the time.

With that in mind it only leaves a few of your comments left to deal with:

the-dude said:Beliefs and actions are two separate things.
No, our actions are based on our beliefs. If I believe murder is O.K I will murder people for example.

Shygetz said:The number one predictor of what religion you will profess is what religion your peers profess. How much credit/blame do you take for that?
The same credit I would take for any of my beliefs. You could dismiss having responsibility for anything by simply saying 'oh, but it's not my fault I was brought up that way'. I dare say most people in prison would not be there if they had a different upbringing but they are still responsible for their crimes.

Shygetz said:Oh goody, another Christian who can read my mind.
No - I said I looked at your posts, your unwillingness to take even the possibility Christianity is true compared to your complete gullibility when it comes to atheist literature, amongst other thins, and came to that conclusion.

Shygetz said:Liar. I just don't know any more charitable way to put this.
It says coming in his kingdom, not with his kingdom. Rather than trying to insist on one interpretation of an rather ambiguous passage why don't you comment on 2 Peter 3. Normally a clear cut passage takes precedence when interpreting the Bible over an ambiguous one.

If the computer takes into account past experiences that were not input by the programmer, than it does not operate SOLELY by rules defined by the programmer.
I never said it didn't take into account the input of the user etc, what I said was is that a computer has no freewill in any shape or form. I also said that what freewill is is highly disputed.

Shygetz said:but that often surprise human operators
All computers are Turing Machines which run on rules (not freewill). Sometimes their program is so complex that they come up with outcomes which aren't expected.

Shygetz said:There also still exist Young Earthers, Flat Earthers, evolution denialists, Holocaust denailists, relativity denialists, etc. What we have demonstrated is that, for some people, no amount of evidence is sufficient to get them to believe something they don't like.
And why are you so confident that you don't ome under this category?

Shygetz said:No, I am trying to point out how absurdly inapplicable your analogy is.
An analogy is only applicable to the point it was trying to make, which mine was. The point was that God has full right to only let people he wants to go to Heaven.

Shygetz said:o; you would drag them into the street and torture them for the entertainment of your guests."
Hell is not there to entertain people in Heaven. It is to give a fair punishment to humanity for their sins and bring about justice.

Shygetz said:Bullshit. The Great Commandment? "You shall love the Lord your God with al1 your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."
Exactly - not believe God exists.

Lee said:Either way it means that millions upon million will die and spend an eternity being tortured for being born.
People aren't tortured for being born anymore than a convict is in prison for being born.

the-dude said:feel the need to test his first two humans for loyalty?!?
You mean God should have kept them prisoners and forced them to do what he asked?

the-dude said: They weren't bombing Hiroshima in the name of god.
What's that got to do with it? We're discussing if god was right or not regardless of whether it was sanctioned by God, America or anyone else

the-dude said:You mean as soon as you ignore all other evidence to the contrary and "choose" to accept it?
What evidence to the contrary?

The Dude said...

My replies to James in bold italic

2)Does it therefore follow that we aren't responsible for our beliefs and actions?
You seem to be avoiding this one. If I believe that murder is morally right and that you are an idiot am I responsible if I murder you regardless of how I arrived at my beliefs?

You're clumping belief and actions into one category, when in fact they're two separate entities. Belief is not an action. Murder is an action. Belief is much basically an involuntary emotion like love, hate, anger, happiness. In order to reach the involuntary belief (effect), one needs a cause. You cannot have an effect without a cause with regards to emotions.

Actions like murder, however, are within the control of the human, regardless of a belief, desire, love, hate, anger, or sadness. Once a person identifies that they have come to one of the above conclusions after their mind has involuntarily evaluated the information presented, they enter into the realm of "free will" and "choice". At this point, and this point ONLY, the person has a choice to act in a certain way, based on the involuntary emotion to which they've arrived.

The emotion of anger that leads to choosing the act of murder is a one-way street. Choosing the act of murder requires the presence of the involuntary emotion anger/hate/belief, while the emotions anger/hate/belief exist without the dependency/influence of the act of murder. Classic cause and effect...effect can't be held accountable for the cause.


Stop creating a straw man version of me which suggests we go to Hell for believing God doesn't exist and that our beliefs are things we make up as we go along and change all the time.

Your bible clearly states this, and every Christian I've spoken to have confirmed that BELIEF is the #1 requirement - without it there is no salvation, and most definitely hell. This isn't a straw man, this is exactly what the doctrine states!

the-dude said:Beliefs and actions are two separate things.
No, our actions are based on our beliefs. If I believe murder is O.K I will murder people for example.

Not necessarily. You can believe murder is OK all you want. How you came to this belief is out of your control and based solely on your mental processing capabilities and allowances of the evidence for the case of murder being OK.

Just because you believe murder is OK doesn't mean you'll choose to act and commit murder! Again, you have a choice for the act only, not the belief.


the-dude said:feel the need to test his first two humans for loyalty?!?
You mean God should have kept them prisoners and forced them to do what he asked?

NO, I mean god's creation, according to the bible, was perfect. The fact that he immediately felt the need to test his first two living creations for perfect loyalty tells us that even god himself didn't think his creation was "perfect". This is yet another flaw with the bible story.

the-dude said: They weren't bombing Hiroshima in the name of god.
What's that got to do with it? We're discussing if god was right or not regardless of whether it was sanctioned by God, America or anyone else

It has everything to do with it. You are saying that "more than a handful" of people were bad people, so they deserved to die by god's hands. But what about the small group of people that were suppressed by their own people and were innocent of these accusations by god? He apparently didn't care, he just wiped them all out.

You use the Hiroshima as an example - but you fail to look at the premise behind Hiroshima and the premise behind god's acts in the OT. These are VERY IMPORTANT aspects to consider when arguing the case of right vs. wrong!


the-dude said:You mean as soon as you ignore all other evidence to the contrary and "choose" to accept it?
What evidence to the contrary?

I'm not even going to entertain this question with an answer. It's obvious you visit atheist websites quite often, so I will assume you've seen plenty of the evidence to the contrary. Unless, of course, you choose to use the standard "no evidence against an unproven claim by default means the unproven claim is true until proven false!"

Scott said...

Now lets look at the more modern event of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. Yes - innocent children died but was it morally wrong? Well that's a difficult moral dilemma and so are the bits in the Bible where God wipes out whole cities.

Human beings don't have the luxury of being omnipotent. God does.

God could have simply turned specific "offending" individuals into dust, salt or even just thin air, instead of wiping out entire cities

The Dude said...

LEE:

A religious friend feels he has found the single study that debunks the entire premise behind humans not having a choice with regards to beliefs. I would like you to evaluate the Dr. Mario Beauregard spider study (you've probably already seen it) and discuss (can be found on peerreview.ca).

I found the study to be unable to prove that humans can choose to believe, regardless of the outcome of involuntary evidence/information processing. Like James, he talks about studying the choice of ACTS, but not emotions, then he goes on to present a study of how he studied the change in emotion of people with arachnophobia by using the standard cognitive therapy condition approach - continuously show them evidence that spiders are good and the fear can be controlled. This is NOT "choosing" to control - it is choosing to allow new evidence to be processed - while the emotional outcome may not the same - it's still involuntary.

I should also add that it is the well-known career goal of this doctor to link spirituality to neuroscience.

akakiwibear said...

Lee “I think it is brilliant.” , yes I think you would. Of course if you actually believed it were true (rather than brilliant) then you would not be commenting here as you would believe that we are basically born atheist or theist and I hope you not be prone to wasting your time trying to influence predetermined outcomes.

I am fascinated by the line of thinking you admire so, that we are essentially a programmed bio-computer with predetermined outcomes. If so our whole life is a certainty, nothing we can do will change it – so Lee, if you really believe it just stay in bed, it will all turn out as planned!

An equally interesting aspect of this line of thought is that it implies that if one could understand our programme then one would know our future, sort like an omniscient being might.

Of course you could argue that simply because an outcome is know in advance that in itself does not constitute predetermination – but have I not seen you argue that if God knows the future then we have no freewill.

I know the above is a bit disjointed; it is really just a scattering of thoughts on the topic. One day I might pull them together and conclude that your opposition to us having freewill is based on a belief that God wrote the programme that is executing in our bio-computers – but perhaps not, that would smack of creationism.

Peace

Lee Randolph said...

Hi James,
A Satanist might believe that God exists however that doesn't mean they believe in God and are thus going to be saved. There is a difference.
1. satanist believes that god exists
2. satanist does not believe in god.

what does "believe in" mean? trust? like? I think you are trying to redefine what it means to believe to get you out of a corner. It still doesn't address the question of whether there is a choice or not.

But is it that you recognise the evidence and come to believe in God or you want to believe in God and then recognise the evidence.?
It still comes down to whether you have a choice.

Do you have a choice in what you believe in?

I'm not saying that my belief in God is random or I could just decide to stop believing in God (as is the case with any belief). What I'm disputing is the idea we take no responsibility for our beliefs and actions which result in those beliefs. Where our beliefs come from and how we arrive at them is a complex matter which much research is being done into.
You don't think you have a choice. Fine then how is it that you and I both have the same information available, yet I had doubts about mine and then one day when my prayers to let those people float down from the towers was ignored my toggle switched. It was not a choice, as you concede. How am I responsible? I did the responsible thing and looked into the history of the Bible and the Near East to see where the bible came from because it didn't seem to represent the God of my experience. That was when the rope slipped out of my hands and I noticed that my feet were on the ground.

Having the read the whole Bible myself and having reached a complexity different conclusion maybe we have demonstrated that it isn't evidence that brings people to Christ.
you are so right brother. People are motivated to, at the very least, not feel bad. Believing in god makes you feel better doesn't it? Not believing in god makes me feel better. Why is that? When I see things that don't make sense I am compelled, driven to make sense out of them. I do puzzles for play and I do engineering for a job. I am driven to solve problems. Christianity violates too many principles of morality and logic in terms of gods characteristics to fit in my head.

Is this my fault? Did i make myself this way? I think people like me can't help but be atheist because gods don't make sense.

Chrisitan salvation is based on loving and trusting God, not believing in His existence. This has already been pointed out to you.
but loving and trusting god is NOT A CHOICE and neither is belief. So how do you get around that? Predestination? if that is the case, then God cancels himself out since we don't really have a choice in the matter. He becomes irrelevant.

Presumably you would argue that it wasn't the terrorist's fault as they just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when Bin Laden as doing his recruitment round.
We don't know how they got involved with that. I suspect they believed in their version of righteousness just as much as you and I do, and I don't think they had a choice to believe or not either. They wanted to go to the camps, I suppose, and were motivated by something internal. It doesn't seem likely they were coerced. But it seems the action was a result of the belief. And that belief made it possible to justify flying jets into the world trade center, and then others to believe it was a sign that their prayers had been answered. Anyone dangerous to society should be removed from society. I know this and I would have ratted them out if I would have known about it, or I would have been an accomplice. In this case god is an accomplice in the WTC disaster as much as he is in most things. If god gets the praise, then god should get the blame too. If god gets the praise for saving anyone in the WTC, then he should get the blame for not informing on the highjackers. Both scenarios are equally ridiculous, but you probably think only one is ridiculous.

it takes reasoning based on principles of logic which depend on evidence to switch that toggle. And it appears to me that the quality of evidence is paramount in ensuring that an accurate representation of reality pops out of that reasoning process. I didn't say truth because it is so easy to make into a red herring.

I' m sorry, I would like to address more but I have to go.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi akakiwibear,
you missed our earlier article on how omniscience and freewill are mutually exclusive. Logical paradox, cancels itself out.

In any case, we have the appearance of free will so since that is the best information I have to go on, I have to go on that.

I think,
In a theoretical ideal, if all variables could be accounted for, then accurate predictions could be made about the future, but then that knowledge could cause an infinite regression because at the point one learns an outcome and decides to avoid it, the prediction has to change to account for the new information. So until the choices are sealed nothing could proceed, so hiding the future would give the appearance of freewill as we predictably move about.

anyway, gotta go.

Lee Randolph said...

One last comment string, before i go.
the dude is more or less saying what I would say,

Hiroshima. bad deal.
global flood. bad deal.

humans had no quicker way to influence the Japanese government to stop participating in the war.

God is supposedly omnipotent and omniscient. He could easily have only punished the ones that deserved it, immediately.

Christians forget that the omni part of gods characteristic make most of what is in the bible seem inconsistent. When they discuss him, they discuss him like he is not, then say that he is. I don't think they understand the implications or contradictions in being omni.

james said...

the dude said:You're clumping belief and actions into one category, when in fact they're two separate entities.
Are seriously saying that our belief have no impact on our actions? So asking God for forgiveness etc has nothing to do with beliefs?

the-dude said:You've read circumstantial, 2000+ year old written witness accounts of seeing a dead guy walking the earth.
Your ability to date the gospels gets more and more stupid - 2000+ year old documents would have been written when Jesus was about 12 years old.

Also, why do you assume that people were less reliable witnesses 2000 years ago?

the-dude said:NO, I mean god's creation, according to the bible, was perfect.
No, the Bible says it was good. Was it perfect? Maybe but perfect means that it couldn't have been better. You would therefore need to prove that God locking humanity away where they couldn't have done any harm would have been better.

the-dude said:But what about the small group of people that were suppressed by their own people and were innocent of these accusations by god?
That could be used as an argument against any war etc not just the ones in the Bible

the-dude said: you fail to look at the premise behind Hiroshima and the premise behind god's acts in the OT. These are VERY IMPORTANT aspects to consider when arguing the case of right vs. wrong!
Exactly - and have you done an in depth study of the background and premise behind each event in the Old Testament?

the-dude said:it is obvious you visit atheist websites quite often, so I will assume you've seen plenty of the evidence to the contrary. Unless, of course, you choose to use the standard "no evidence...
Make up your mind - does atheism have evidence to support its claims or not. The phrase 'no evidence' implies, well, no evidence and the claim 'evidence to the contrary' implies you do have evidence.

Lee said:I think you are trying to redefine what it means to believe
Jesus told people to believe in him having just performed miracles and whilst standing right before the people he was speaking to. I very much doubt Jesus meant 'believe I exist despite evidence to the contrary.' You just seem to be ignoring everything I say and reverting to your ignorant understanding of what the word believe, in the biblical context, means.

Lee said:You don't think you have a choice.
You seem to ploughing on with this issue (and insisting that we look at it at the most simplistic level possible) rather than addressing the central point of the discussion: should we take responsibility for who we are? If you say 'no' then that opens the door to anyone denying responsibility for anything. You cannot simply claim that our actions are in complete isolation to our beliefs and personality.

lee said:How am I responsible? I did the responsible thing and looked into the history of the Bible and the Near East to see where the bible came from because it didn't seem to represent the God of my experience.
You seem to be ignoring the fact that I've already pointed out to how lots of people die each year. Coming across the fact somebody died because God didn't turn them into a feather does not let a rational person conclude that God doesn't exist. If you think that death in incompatibles with the Bible then you can't have ever been a Christian.

Lee saidWhen I see things that don't make sense I am compelled, driven to make sense out of them. I do puzzles for play
So do I and therefore this in not the reason you're an atheist and I'm not.

Lee saidThey wanted to go to the camps
Exactly. Could they have suddenly decided that they didn't want to be a terrorist at the click on a finger? No. Are they responsible for what they did? Yes.

Lee said:Christians forget that the omni part of gods characteristic make most of what is in the bible seem inconsistent.
There is a big difference between saying 'God can do X' and God will do X'. There are all kinds of reasons why God doesn't go intervening at every possible moment. Moreover, if God is the giver of life surely He should be allowed to take it.

Kevin H said...

His point was that, even if threateden by the most terrible of authorities, he could not FORCE himself to believe; he could only pretend to believe.

KH> Agreed and, aside from a misunderstanding of the Trinity doctrine, the further point is there is no such thing as "forced love".


KH> Second, the transcendence of God can overwhelm our dependence on the empirical and cause doubt...the more one embraces a naturalistic worldview, the more irritating the transcendence of God becomes! So it, again, gets back to worldviews.


Word salad. What do you suggest God is "transcending" here, how does that "transcendence" overwhelm our dependence on the sole reliable method for us to find truth, and why do you assume that such "transcendence" is a desirable thing?

KH> God created all else in existence therefore God transcends all else, including matter, etc. This aspect of God - his immateriality and so on - can be disconcerting to we who depend so much on empirical verification.

Though not every reality is empirically verifiable, the more one embraces Naturalism the more one is troubled by God's nature.

Whether God's transcendence is "desirable" is beside the point.

And contrary to your belief (and, apparently, C.S. Lewis'), I am not nor have I ever been angry, irritated, or otherwise peeved at God, any more than I have been angry with Tinkerbell. I do get irritated with theists who cannot (or choose not to) find a coherent argument with both hands, so instead decide to "transcend" logic and "transcend" evidence in their flights of fancy, expecting me to rely upon revealed truth which we know to be unreliable (have you driven a Revealed Car lately?) Please don't be one of them.

KH> First, transcend does not mean contradict.

Second, I'm not sure what you mean by "revealed truth". I assume you mean God's special revelation (the Scriptures, Christ). I disagree that they are unreliable.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi James,
the point of mentioning the puzzles is not that they are the reason I don't believe, they are a symptom of my drive to solve problems. I don't like uncertainty, or things that don't make sense.

in any case let me rephrase and simplify my position.

I do not believe. My faith went away. I did not have a choice. I cannot believe in god now any more than you could not believe in god. Neither one of us has a choice in this.

Now, I extrapolate this to other people, including you and I say that belief is not a choice. You pray because you choose to. You believe not because you choose to.
People are not accountable for their beliefs. People are sometimes accountable for thier actions.

now about being responsible for our actions. If your inhibitory circuitry in your brain was disabled by a tumor or trauma, you would do things that you do not want or in some cases choose to. (You can test this by playing some drinking games. ;-) )

This is a well documented phenomena and it calls into question empirical testing of the extend of free will once someone can think up a good test that doesn't violate moral principles.

The Dude said...

My replies to JAMES in bold italic:

the dude said:You're clumping belief and actions into one category, when in fact they're two separate entities.
Are seriously saying that our belief have no impact on our actions? So asking God for forgiveness etc has nothing to do with beliefs?

No, clearly I'm not saying belief has no impact. Belief has every impact. In a typical cause/effect scenario, belief = cause; action = effect. I'm looking at BEFORE belief - what is the causal agent of the belief effect. Here, BELIEF can be both a cause (justification for an action) and an effect (involuntarily coming to a belief after the involuntary processing of the evidence). The separation I'm making is that belief is NOT an action, but a cause of an action. For some reason you're choosing to focus on ACTIONS, and not considering the root cause of BELIEFS and how they come to fruition.

the-dude said:You've read circumstantial, 2000+ year old written witness accounts of seeing a dead guy walking the earth.
Your ability to date the gospels gets more and more stupid - 2000+ year old documents would have been written when Jesus was about 12 years old.

Also, why do you assume that people were less reliable witnesses 2000 years ago?

One thing I haven't done is refer to you as "stupid" or "idiot", so please refrain from this sophomoric labeling.

With that said, what does it matter if I say 2000+ years or 1970+ years? You knew what I meant - witnesses in a book that has been manipulated, translated, retranslated an uncountable number of times, are not good sources for proving anything. How do you know they didn't have a knife to their heads while writing/witnessing? How do you know what the environment was like so long ago? You can't compare mental processing back then to your thought processes now - you know much more about REALITY than anyone did during the biblical times, so isn't it possible that these people embellished a bit on their "witnessing"? Being written down doesn't mean it's evidence. That's what I'm getting at.


the-dude said:NO, I mean god's creation, according to the bible, was perfect.
No, the Bible says it was good. Was it perfect? Maybe but perfect means that it couldn't have been better. You would therefore need to prove that God locking humanity away where they couldn't have done any harm would have been better.

So now you're redefining the word "perfect" to fit into your interpretation? Perfect doesn't mean that it could be better - look up the word in the dictionary. Perfect means FLAWLESS - and anything that is perfect can, by definition, NEVER be imperfect. You can't just change the meanings of words to suit your argument - these must remain constant, otherwise there is no point to debate anything.

the-dude said:But what about the small group of people that were suppressed by their own people and were innocent of these accusations by god?
That could be used as an argument against any war etc not just the ones in the Bible

Still doesn't justify the KILLING of the innocents!!

the-dude said: you fail to look at the premise behind Hiroshima and the premise behind god's acts in the OT. These are VERY IMPORTANT aspects to consider when arguing the case of right vs. wrong!
Exactly - and have you done an in depth study of the background and premise behind each event in the Old Testament?

You're missing my entire point and purposely switching a different topic back to me to avoid answering the question.

the-dude said:it is obvious you visit atheist websites quite often, so I will assume you've seen plenty of the evidence to the contrary. Unless, of course, you choose to use the standard "no evidence...
Make up your mind - does atheism have evidence to support its claims or not. The phrase 'no evidence' implies, well, no evidence and the claim 'evidence to the contrary' implies you do have evidence.

I did make up my mind - there is plenty of evidence (in my mind, per the way my mind involuntarily processes evidence) to debunk every single aspect of any human-engineered religion. I just chose to direct you to another place where someone has these all listed already - I wasn't about to list out an entire novel of evidence - it goes against the scope of the thread "does belief have a choice".

akakiwibear said...

Lee, not sure I missed your earlier article that omniscience precludes freewill, but you refer to it as if it were definitive and what I read was not, so …. I may have missed that particular one but I have read your comments on this topic – in case there is anything new please refer me to the link. Based on your past comments, the semantics needed to draw your conclusion are impressive but not convincing.

“hiding the future would give the appearance of freewill as we predictably move about” . Gets closer to the point; freewill only ceases to exist when we are aware of constraints to our choice. If we exercise our choice in what we perceive as freedom then for us it is free. God’s foreknowledge of all the possible outcomes of our choice and even our final choice in no way limits our freedom to choose. Foreknowledge does not equate to predetermination which in turn equates to the absence of freewill.

We choose in freedom and an omniscient God can deduce the outcome (perhaps) before we are ourselves aware of it – that is freewill. Unless you can demonstrate how our freedom is being constrained (and I don’t accept the ‘nothing more than a bio-computer’ model is even close to a conclusive argument) then you cannot show that we act with anything but freewill.

I still find it interesting that you choose to waste your time in debate if you really believed that we had no freewill because clearly you could not influence anyone as all outcomes are predetermined – stay in bed.

Sala kahle - peace

The Dude said...

akakiwibear said: (my reply in bold italic

I still find it interesting that you choose to waste your time in debate if you really believed that we had no freewill because clearly you could not influence anyone as all outcomes are predetermined – stay in bed.

Sala kahle - peace

Freewill pertains only to actions, as actions are the only things with which we humans actually have a CHOICE. Therefore, participation in debates with the purpose of influencing how one ACTS (not how one arrives to beliefs, feelings, or other emotions) is what keeps them interesting and entertaining. Another reason for staying in debates despite knowing one cannot choose the outcome of the processing of evidence is the fun of trying to present evidence to someone that perhaps they may not have considered (e.g., made the CHOICE to allow entry into their processing centers for involuntary evaluation) due to situations/conditions that were out of their control (or they purposely chose to NOT listen to any new evidence that might contradict the little they have processed). One can arrive to a belief (which is involuntary) via not enough evidence to the contrary of their belief being previously evaluated by them. Hence, our attraction to debating - supply information/evidence to someone that may not have seen it before, and if they show us they understand the information, but still hold their own beliefs, well, that's the end of the debate with that individual...they will have proven that their beliefs are not a voluntary CHOICE.

The Dude said...

Lee:

I had yet another epiphany last night regarding a very interesting topic. How would I get in touch with you to discuss? I want to make sure that the forum is appropriate for the topic/epiphany. I've searched the web for this topic and have failed to find any mention of the idea/theory.

Thanks..

AC (The Dude)

Scott said...

No, our actions are based on our beliefs. If I believe murder is O.K I will murder people for example.

This is incredibly simplistic view. Beliefs are NOT actions.

I think same sex relationships are OK, but personally, I'm attracted to the opposite sex. Therefore, I don't partake in homosexual activity.

I think It's Ok for men and women to have sex, But if the woman is married, it's usually a bad idea. Therefore, it's quite unlikely I'll have sex with a married woman.

Hypnotically, even if I thought it was OK to murder someone, I might go though life without encountering a situation were I might actually want to murder someone. As such, I may never murder a single person.

akakiwibear said...

Now this is getting interesting. Dude: “Freewill pertains only to actions, as actions are the only things with which we humans actually have a CHOICE.”
So you say we have choice (and I imply freedom of choice) in our actions. Do you suggest that your actions are independent of our mental processes – that is not associated with exercise of will. If you concede that our actions are the result of our decision making then as you state our actions are by choice, then so to is our thinking.

Dude: “if they show us they understand the information, but still hold their own beliefs, well, that's the end of the debate with that individual...they will have proven that their beliefs are not a voluntary CHOICE.” so you imply faith is a selective gift from God? - - - or is your statement simply the non-sequitur it at first appears to be?

I think if you follow your human = bio-computer model to its logical conclusion you get to the point where we all have to make the same choice on a/theism when presented with the same information.

What I see in this debate is a confusion of the process (the neuro chemistry of thought) with the exercise of will (that which directs thought in a metaphysical sense). An analogy is walking, my body (muscle, skeleton) has no freedom of choice how or where to walk, that is controlled by my will via brain activity. There is a tendency to think that once a process is understood at an execution level (what, when, how) that it is also fully explained (the why). What is explained is the mechanism, not, in this case, the will. The brain is a machine of sorts and no surprise it works according to strict rules neuo-chemistry/electricity – that is obvious. What the “we understand how the brain, and hence people, work” brigade have done is document some of the science, the what when and how – good on them – what they have not done is explain the control of the brain the underlying why.

Peace

akakiwibear said...

Scott you said:
1) “I think same sex relationships are OK, but personally, I'm attracted to the opposite sex.” OK that’s cool too
2) “I think It's Ok for men and women to have sex” which follows (1)
3) “But if the woman is married, it's usually a bad idea..” because why?
4) “Therefore, it's quite unlikely I'll have sex with a married woman.

So either you are a woman, but unlikely to be a married woman unless you don’t have sex much OR you are a unmarried male who intends to remain that way. Either way you seem best suited to a single lifestyle …
… OR you should abstain from debates, in particular when you question the obvious truth in “our actions are based on our beliefs. If not, what are they based on – perhaps I missed the point, did you mean they are based on our bio-computer programme which by definition is devoid of beliefs (as in positions held by choice) but based on built in programme criteria?

Peace

james said...

Lee saidI do not believe. My faith went away. I did not have a choice. I cannot believe in god now any more than you could not believe in god. Neither one of us has a choice in this.
But then you could argue that Einstein didn't choose to be intelligent and thus shouldn't take credit for his work or that Bin Laden didn't choose to be a Muslim and thus can't take responsibility for his life. Having responsibility for our actions is one of those given things. It's like you could argue that if we're biologically similar to a cow we should logically eat people just as we eat cows and yet that doesn't make such an idea correct. Responsibility, worth, meaning etc are all abstract ideas which cannot be determined by looking at the pure material. The philosophy you're suggesting is unlivable which to me suggests there is something wrong with it.

Lee said:it calls into question empirical testing of the extend of free will
How do you know our actions aren't the result of chemical reactions in our brain if our beliefs are? Maybe (although I personally don't agree with this) freewill is just an illusion . Many people advocate such an idea. Would you then claim, if this turned out to be the case, we held no responsibility for our actions or would you suggest that all we've discovered is an interesting paradox?

Lee said:once someone can think up a good test that doesn't violate moral principles.
Indeed, so shouldn't we remain open on the issue until all the evidence is in?

the dude said:In a typical cause/effect scenario, belief = cause; action = effect.
But where does the cause of our actions come from? Moreover just because our beliefs are decided over years does that stop them being ours? Otherwise all you're saying is that our actions are ours because we decide them in seconds and it comes purely a time thing.

The-dude said:The separation I'm making is that belief is NOT an action, but a cause of an action.
If the cause of our actions are something we have no control over then logically we have no control over our actions either.

the-dude said:
One thing I haven't done is refer to you as "stupid" or "idiot", so please refrain from this sophomoric labeling.

O.K, maybe I shouldn't have said that and I apologise.

the-dude said:a book that has been manipulated, translated, retranslated an uncountable number of times
Textual criticism can recover the original text with very good accuracy.

the-dude said:How do you know they didn't have a knife to their heads while writing/witnessing?
Because it is very difficult to witness with a knife to our head and such an idea seems, in my opinion, far more far fetched than the possibility they were telling the truth.

the-dude said:How do you know what the environment was like so long ago?
It's called history. I think one rule has to be that any argument made against the historicity of Jesus must be one that couldn't be used against any historical source.

the-dude said:You can't compare mental processing back then to your thought processes now - you know much more about REALITY than anyone did during the biblical times
People then were able to tell if someone had risen from the dead just as easily as you or I could.

the-dude said:so isn't it possible that these people embellished a bit on their "witnessing"?
We're not talking about the odd embellishment - if only a tiny fraction of the gospels are historically correct then atheists have some serious explaining to do.

the-dude said:So now you're redefining the word "perfect" to fit into your interpretation?
No - I said that the Bible never says it was perfect - it says it was good. You need to prove that God could have done things better, which you have not done.

the-dude said:Still doesn't justify the KILLING of the innocents!!
Why - You're going to need to explain this one.

the-dude said:You're missing my entire point and purposely switching a different topic back to me to avoid answering the question.
No - when I debate atheists they normally go along the line, 'oh look, some babies died so it must be wrong' and never look at the premise behind the event. Therefore I think my point was very valid. You have not explained why the premise behind OT events makes all the difference.

there is plenty of evidence
I think this is going to get pointless with you just confidently stating that atheists have all this evidence hidden away and me claiming that this isn't my experience of atheism.

Scott said:This is incredibly simplistic view. Beliefs are NOT actions.
and if you read where you quoted me you'll see that isn't what I said.

Scott said:f I thought it was OK to murder someone, I might go though life without encountering a situation were I might actually want to murder someone.
But then if you murdered someone you could claim that you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think I could use your line of reasoning to shrug of the blame for anything.

The Dude said...

akakiwibear said: Now this is getting interesting. Dude: “Freewill pertains only to actions, as actions are the only things with which we humans actually have a CHOICE.”
So you say we have choice (and I imply freedom of choice) in our actions. Do you suggest that your actions are independent of our mental processes – that is not associated with exercise of will. If you concede that our actions are the result of our decision making then as you state our actions are by choice, then so to is our thinking.


No, actions are not independent of mental processes - they most definitely play a partial role, but upon coming to a conclusion involuntarily, you reach a crossroads of choosing one action or another BASED on the involuntary emotion.

Let me try and explain it differently. Start with a blank mind. "Outside source(s)" will be beyond you yourself (e.g., noise from a machine, information from a newspaper you are choosing to read, information from another person being chosen to hear, etc.):

Outside source introduces evidence/information to you.

Two choices of ACTION:

1) Say yes and allow the introduction of information into your ears/brain for processing/thinking.

2) Say no and disallow information to be introduce into your ears/brain for processing/thinking.

Let's assume you choose #1 and allow the information to be spoken and enter your ears. At this point your "choosing" ability is in a "holding pattern", as you are now involuntarily processing the information and getting your mind to "spit out" a conclusion (involuntary result determined by education, childhood environment & upbringing, and genetic ability to process information).

Let's now present three possible, involuntary emotional outcomes that can occur based on the subsequent processing of the information you "chose" to hear and process:

1) Anger
2) Happiness
3) Sadness

These are all emotions that are involuntary results of the involuntary processing of the information you "chose" to hear (action). We'll say the emotion that results involuntarily is #1: anger.

NOW, at this very moment, your conscious mind reaches a period of "waiting for user input" - you feel anger, and depending on the level of chemicals produced from this anger (involuntarily), the values you have been taught (involuntarily), and your experiences in the past with being angry and being faced with a decision, you have 2 VOLUNTARY CHOICES (assuming the current environment you find yourself in is accommodating):

1) Murder someone.

2) Not murder anyone.

These are the 2 choices you have based on involuntary reasoning of information that you involuntarily absorbed during the "impressionable", unaccountable childhood years.

Let me know if I made my suggestions clear or more muddled.


akakiwibear further said:

Dude: “if they show us they understand the information, but still hold their own beliefs, well, that's the end of the debate with that individual...they will have proven that their beliefs are not a voluntary CHOICE.” so you imply faith is a selective gift from God? - - - or is your statement simply the non-sequitur it at first appears to be?


I have bluntly stated that, assuming the god of the Christian bible exists, the salvation requirement he places on all humans to BELIEVE or be punished (generally speaking) is not a fair, just or loving expectation when this requirement is not something humans can CHOOSE to do voluntarily. Therefore, if belief is the #1 requirement for the god of the Christian bible, and humans are unable to make themselves believe, this debunks the Christian doctrine all together - how would a god determine between who gets "saved" and who doesn't when not everyone is on an equal playing field from the beginning?

Moreover, assuming that the god of the Christian bible exists, and belief is his #1 requirement for salvation (regardless of the fact that humans can't choose), then my answer would be a resounding YES - it would appear that god has created a requirement that only he can be held accountable for - e.g., those that naturally, involuntarily BELIEVE do so because of the "gift" of the genetic ability to involuntarily process information that brings them to undoubted BELIEF.

Upon presenting this case again, do you see the contradiction with the "gift" idea when the bible's main requirement for salvation throughout is to CHOOSE to BELIEVE?

james said...

the-dude said:Upon presenting this case again, do you see the contradiction with the "gift" idea when the bible's main requirement for salvation throughout is to CHOOSE to BELIEVE?
Don't forget that salvation is something we don't deserve. If somebody won the lottery then even though they had no influence over winning it doesn't mean it's unfair. So even if getting to heaven were random it would still be fair. I'm not saying it is random but the point would still remain.

The Dude said...

James said:

the dude said:In a typical cause/effect scenario, belief = cause; action = effect.
But where does the cause of our actions come from? Moreover just because our beliefs are decided over years does that stop them being ours? Otherwise all you're saying is that our actions are ours because we decide them in seconds and it comes purely a time thing.


Cause of actions = CHOICE. This is the point in time where the human has FREE WILL - at least to some extent. I will admit that some beliefs/conclusions that came about involuntarily illicit such a biochemical reaction within certain types of people that they can't even control their actions - anger resulting in instant physical violence with no thought given about the choice at hand, sadness resulting in instant crying, and happiness resulting in a smile. All of these are involuntary reactions based SOLELY on predetermined genetic hardwiring that has NO INPUT from US (no pre-birth input on how we want to be wired). This is where, again assuming that your god exists, GOD must take accountability for his creation issues. GOD must take accountability for bad deeds just as he does for good deeds.

James said: The-dude said:The separation I'm making is that belief is NOT an action, but a cause of an action.
If the cause of our actions are something we have no control over then logically we have no control over our actions either.


Sometimes, yes, we have no control over our actions, either. See my statement above about genetic makeup and human tendencies - one can get angry and not have the hardwiring/genetic ability to stop the immediate reaction - to punch the wall - due to an overload of the chemicals that cause this emotion (or surge of electrical energy - perhaps due to an involuntary chemical imbalance). Even against all knowing from previously-learned experiences that punching a wall results in not-so-good consequences, certain people are hardwired genetically to not have control over this. HOWEVER, they CAN LEARN to overcome this inability to CONTROL/CHOOSE the best action for society. What the can NEVER learn is how to control the feeling of anger that results from the information processing (cause of anger).

James said: the-dude said:a book that has been manipulated, translated, retranslated an uncountable number of times
Textual criticism can recover the original text with very good accuracy.


How did we validate the test method of "textual criticism" to make sure it's accurate? Religious people regularly say that dating techniques used for determining the age of ancient dinosaur bones can't be PROVEN (to them) to be accurate (in fact, any one announcement of error causes an uproar in the religious community!). They regularly demand proof of how scientists VALIDATED this technique and know it's as accurate as they state. Why can't we apply this same thing to "textual criticism"? (I think you mean textual analysis, not criticism, by the way).

Also, perhaps they can recover the original text, but this still doesn't mean that the TEXT or writings about witnesses is TRUE! Validating that the text is as old as someone says it is doesn't equate automatically to the context being FACT!


James said: the-dude said:How do you know they didn't have a knife to their heads while writing/witnessing?
Because it is very difficult to witness with a knife to our head and such an idea seems, in my opinion, far more far fetched than the possibility they were telling the truth.


I'm not saying they WITNESSED with a knife to their heads, I'm saying how do we know they weren't forced/coerced to say something ELSE about what they witnessed, rather than what they REALLY saw? (I know you knew what I meant with this!).

Example: I witness a drug deal in an alley. Guy gets arrested later on because I gave the cops a description. I'm asked to take a sheet home and write down everything I saw. However, the drug dealer's boss (Druglord) seeks me out, shows up at my house with a gun, and forces me to write that I was wrong - I saw someone else. It's written, it's logged, the guy goes free. I never say anything for fear of being hunted down and shot (and my family). 50 years from now, because it's WRITTEN down, the guy still appears innocent, and people accept it as FACT. See the problem here with your accepting witness testimony in an ancient book?!?


James said: the-dude said:You can't compare mental processing back then to your thought processes now - you know much more about REALITY than anyone did during the biblical times
People then were able to tell if someone had risen from the dead just as easily as you or I could.


Now we're back to witness testimony in an old book. How do we validate it really happened, and if so, how do we validate that these people spoke or wrote of this event without coercion to do so?

James said: the-dude said:so isn't it possible that these people embellished a bit on their "witnessing"?
We're not talking about the odd embellishment - if only a tiny fraction of the gospels are historically correct then atheists have some serious explaining to do.


But again, how do we KNOW that these writings are CORRECT? I've already established why it's perfectly logical to doubt them. Isn't it POSSIBLE that an entire group of people were forced to say/write things that weren't true? We're not talking about a million people here, there are only a few "witnesses" that wrote first-hand in the bible!

James said: the-dude said:Still doesn't justify the KILLING of the innocents!!
Why - You're going to need to explain this one.


Why? You're the Christian with the exclusivity to moral values and what's "good" and "bad". Do you think it's perfectly OK to just wipe everyone out in a population because of a few bad apples?!?

James said: the-dude said:You're missing my entire point and purposely switching a different topic back to me to avoid answering the question.
No - when I debate atheists they normally go along the line, 'oh look, some babies died so it must be wrong' and never look at the premise behind the event. Therefore I think my point was very valid. You have not explained why the premise behind OT events makes all the difference.


I'm going to make this simple. The bible, all parts, say that god is GOOD, LOVING, INFINITELY PATIENT, INFINITELY FORGIVING, ALL-KNOWING, ALL-POWERFUL.

So we've established his character. We think.

God then decides to kill masses of people without consideration for their innocence or guilt - masses are killed due to the actions within these masses that don't necessarily include everyone. This is NOT in line with the character presented for the GOD above. Case closed.


James said: there is plenty of evidence
I think this is going to get pointless with you just confidently stating that atheists have all this evidence hidden away and me claiming that this isn't my experience of atheism.


It's not "hidden away", it's out there, and you've seen it. However, since you're lack the ability to control how your mind processes information, you can't be held accountable for your beliefs - it's just not the way it works, and that's the point of this entire thread on "belief is not a choice".

The Dude said...

James said: the-dude said:Upon presenting this case again, do you see the contradiction with the "gift" idea when the bible's main requirement for salvation throughout is to CHOOSE to BELIEVE?
Don't forget that salvation is something we don't deserve. If somebody won the lottery then even though they had no influence over winning it doesn't mean it's unfair. So even if getting to heaven were random it would still be fair. I'm not saying it is random but the point would still remain.


There you go again redefining words. If FAIR is randomly choosing people for salvation, then you have to redefine the word FAIR.

And your LOTTERY analogy is wrong. NO ONE controls the outcome of the lottery - it's totally RANDOM and has no one determining the numbers that are picked. Therefor, the words "fair" and "unfair" cannot be applied to the lottery because NO ONE can be held accountable for the random outcome.

According to Christian doctrine, however, your GOD controls everything - he designed EVERYTHING - it's all his - he knows events and actions before they even happen, as he DESIGNED AND CHOSE THEM beforehand. Therefore, if he chooses to send people to hell for violating a requirement for which they had no choice in to begin with, the word UNFAIR can most definitely be applied.!


In order for your lotter

J.L. Hinman said...

I choose not to believe you. "A man only sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest..."--Paul Simon

akakiwibear said...

James is quite correct to link the notion of accountability to that of freewill. It was, I think, Aquinas that gave us the notion that we could only be held accountable for actions for which we were responsible. That being so the atheist proposition that we are not responsible for our actions in that they did not derive from freewill should be that no one be held accountable for their actions.
Therefore there is no guilt associated with the holocaust … and we should be free to indulge our pleasures at the expense of others – but wait I see a logical contradiction; we are not free to choose to do so, we will simply continue along our predetermined path – but will we be free of any sense of guilt?
Sociopaths feel no guilt – are they the ultimate human embodiment of atheist model of the human bio-computer.

I guess the more I think about the idea that we are just executing our programme the more absurd it seems and Dudes comments just confirm that.

However, I accept Dude’s point that the neuro-chemistry of making a decision, or processing information is defined by the science and is to that extent involuntary. But Dude continues to confuse process (when what how) with reason (why)and hence makes huge assumptions about the in/ability of the brain to act under conditions of uncertainty.

Let me try a different tack on this. Decisions can be classed as deterministic (clear outcome given the inputs/data – this is what the atheist model addresses) or judgemental (where discretion is involved due to a lack of input/data). The general approaches in AI for dealing with this is either to apply what is effectively weightings to possible outcomes or to use a random (or pseudo-random) process to solve the problem (effectively picking a solution at random). The former approach is to render a judgemental decision down to a deterministic level at which AI (or the atheist view of the human) can operate. The latter can hardly be classed as decision making at all. Yet humans operate for much of their time in the region of judgemental decisions. Certainly we try to render the decision deterministic, but when we can’t do we resort to using a random model or do we apply our freewill to guide us?

Peace

Lee Randolph said...

Hi akakiwibear,
I still find it interesting that you choose to waste your time in debate if you really believed that we had no freewill because clearly you could not influence anyone as all outcomes are predetermined – stay in bed.
Thats not very sporting of you.
I want to eliminate magical thinking in the world so that it is a better place for me, and/or I just like the cognitive challenge of debate.

Here is the link that I was talking about for my article on omniscience cancels free will for the subjects of the creator.

Zilch and Scott pursued it a lot deeper with jason than I did.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi The dude,
sorry I missed your comment on that study, I'll check it out. I think that until the emotional aspect of belief, the 'feeling', can be accounted for, they are not going to solve it.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi The Dude,
you can reach me at
debunkingchristianity@gmail.com
Please put my name in the subject like the following.
lee:
and then the rest of the subject,
looking forward to hear from you.
Let me know when you send because I don't check that email very much.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi akakiwibear,
should be that no one be held accountable for their actions.
this is a total misrepresentation.
no one ever said that and it does not follow logically because harm and uncertainty come into play . Even if I stipulate for the sake of argument they are not responsible because they don't have freewill, they still need to be contained to prevent them from doing more harm.

and if we don't have free will, we don't know what the outcome will be so we have to act as if we don't and try to the reasonable thing.

anyway this is a distraction because the argument is that people can't choose to believe, but they can choose to act. If they can't choose to believe then they can't be held accountable by god for thier internal beliefs, which doesn't have much to do with being held accountable for their actions.

How we feel inside about an issue is separate from what we do about it. And god is in the unique position of being the mind cop.

The Dude said...

j.l. hinman said:

I choose not to believe you. "A man only sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest..."--Paul Simon

Not sure what side you're taking with this Paul Simon quote (a song writer as your source?), but the quote is still missing the point.

"A man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest..." Yes, he can CHOOSE to ALLOW information to enter his eyes for processing, but he CAN'T choose how his mind processes it. He can also choose to STOP processing if he doesn't like how it's involuntarily making him feel - this is what I think Christians do when they start seeing evidence that no one should be brushing off - they CHOOSE to start the thinking process by allowing the person with information to DELIVER it to them.

There appears to be a little piece that people here aren't grasping - the action of allowing information into your mind for processing, and the involuntary event of processing. They are missing the fact that you can indeed CHOOSE whether or not to allow your mind access to the information. Once you open the gate for the information, you are unable to control HOW your mind processes this information. Again, you ARE able, however, to STOP the processing of the information if you don't like the conclusion you sense yourself coming to.

And a Paul Simon quote?!? Musicians are the kings of metaphors - I'd not be using a metaphorical song writer as my source of evidence that we can choose our emotions!!

The Dude said...

akakiwibear said:

That being so the atheist proposition that we are not responsible for our actions in that they did not derive from freewill should be that no one be held accountable for their actions.

Where do you get this? Once again it's appearing that a few people here are simply not reading the volumes of text myself and Lee have written in this comments section. You are not responsible for your EMOTIONS - emotions like sadness, belief, trust, faith, happiness, anger, fear, etc. These are not ACTIONS!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Dude,
I read the article and made some notes. I'll send them to you when you email me.

The Dude said...

Lee,

Email sent...let me know what you have to say.

Scott said...

I wrote: "3) “But if the woman is married, it's usually a bad idea..”

Sorry, I wasn't very clear on this point.

I believe that sex between men and women is Ok. But having sex with another man's wife usually requires deception and poses a risk of becoming emotionally involved with that person. This, in turn, could jeopardize relationships, marriages, families, etc. Therefore, it's quite unlikely I'll have sex with a another man's wife.

“our actions are based on our beliefs. If not, what are they based on – perhaps I missed the point,

I was responding to Jason's claim that people who think murder is ok will go around killing people.

Our actions are 'filtered' by our a complex system of morals and cultural rules. What I want to do and what I think I should do are two separate things.

I've been physically attracted to women who are married to other men, but have not acted on this attraction.

Hypothetically, I may want to kill someone, but would not because it's against the law and morally wrong. Or I might not want to kill someone, but still think it's OK for others to do so.

Clearly, these are two very separate things.

akakiwibear said...

Lee thanks for the link – I missed a good one, but not sorry I took the time out. That said, having read the discussion I am staggered that you saw it as a conclusive win – I think the atheist case came across as weak, still we each have our own opinions!

Without rehashing the debate I think JWL summed it up well in an early comment with “As you know the POE only affects certain types of theologies and it doesn't show that some kind of God still might exist. But I think Lee is taking aim at theologies that grant the premises.” .

In this case John sees atheists seeking to narrow the scope of their argument as it gets defeated. What struck me about this was that John sees similar behaviour in theists as tantamount to an omission of error.


Sala kahle - peace

james said...

the-dude said:anger resulting in instant physical violence with no thought given about the choice at hand, sadness resulting in instant crying, and happiness resulting in a smile.
If I get unnecessarily angry at someone (even if I just shout at them) I still feel it is my responsibility and, at least in theory, would apologise to them afterwards. We can control our emotions if we try. That's why you get anger management courses etc

the-dude said: Religious people regularly say that dating techniques used for determining the age of ancient dinosaur bones can't be PROVEN (to them) to be accurate (in fact, any one announcement of error causes an uproar in the religious community!).
So your suggesting atheists should lower themselves to the same standards? I bet you're the first to complain when Christians present that kind of argument and so you shouldn't mind if I complain when you do likewise.

the-dude said:I think you mean textual analysis, not criticism, by the way
No - textual criticism is recognised terminology(and should not be confused with slagging off the Bible!). The fact you haven't even heard of this recognised academic discipline suggests that you're not the best person to be offering an opinion on its validity. Indeed, this proves that your statements on this issue are based on anything but evidence (as you can't have even read a book on the subject be even the most sceptical scholars in this field)

the-dude said:Also, perhaps they can recover the original text, but this still doesn't mean that the TEXT or writings about witnesses is TRUE!
Maybe, but as I was responding to an objection you raised that's not the point.

What it does do is form part of an argument. If we can show the following three facts are likely to be true then it logically follows that Christianity (in its core beliefs) is true:

1)The New Testament roughly represents what the first generation Christians believed
2)The first generation of Christians were sincere in their beliefs
3) At least some of the first Christians were in a position to know if the beliefs were true (e.g were disciples of Jesus, claimed to have seen Jesus resurrected for themself, had met Jesus when he was alive, lived in Jerusalem and knew what people were saying about Jesus and could verify basic facts etc)

the-dude said:I'm saying how do we know they weren't forced/coerced to say something ELSE about what they witnessed, rather than what they REALLY saw?
Why on earth do you think there could have been some mafia type person going around making people lie about Jesus? What would their motive have been? Moreover there are enough differences in the gospels to suggest that the authors hadn't completely colluded (which you would expect if they were repeating some story a gang master had forced them to give) Do you seriously think this is a credible alternative to suggesting Christianity is true?

the-dude said:Now we're back to witness testimony in an old book
Are you disputing the validity of the historical method or Christianity?

the-dude said:You're the Christian with the exclusivity to moral values and what's "good" and "bad". Do you think it's perfectly OK to just wipe everyone out in a population because of a few bad apples?!?
this has already been explained - there was a lot more than a few bad apples and this objection could be used against any war.

the-dude said:The bible, all parts, say that god is GOOD, LOVING, INFINITELY PATIENT, INFINITELY FORGIVING, ALL-KNOWING, ALL-POWERFUL.
But what is good? would a good God, for example, let his people be kept as slaves and bullied by the Egyptians? Or would God rescue his people even if it means killing some of the Egyptian army etc (i'm sure your average Egyptian soldier did what they were told without any say in the matter and so were innocent in that respect)

The Bible says God is slow to anger (e.g Numbers 14:18) - I'm so confident that it doesn't say He is infinitely patient and forgiving that I challenge you to find a passage which supports this.

the-dude said:And your LOTTERY analogy is wrong.
No - it shows that it is fair for someone to miss out on something they didn't deserve even if whoever got whatever it was didn't deserve it either. You admit that we are accountable for at least some of our sins (for example murder) and so Hell is not unfair. The dispute is over salvation, which is a gift from God. I can give a gift to whoever I choose and so can God.

the-dude said:he knows events and actions before they even happen
God exists outside of time and space and so you have the wrong understanding of how God's omniscience works.

the-dude said:Therefore, if he chooses to send people to hell for violating a requirement for which they had no choice in to begin with, the word UNFAIR can most definitely be applied.!
Again, you're confusing condemnation (going to hell for our wrong doings) with salvation (being forgiven and saved from hell)

Lee said:if we don't have free will, we don't know what the outcome will be so we have to act as if we don't and try to the reasonable thing.
That sentence contradicts itself - 'we don't have free will' contradicts 'we will have to act as if' because without free will we can't act as if.

The Dude said...

James said:

the-dude said:anger resulting in instant physical violence with no thought given about the choice at hand, sadness resulting in instant crying, and happiness resulting in a smile.
If I get unnecessarily angry at someone (even if I just shout at them) I still feel it is my responsibility and, at least in theory, would apologise to them afterwards. We can control our emotions if we try. That's why you get anger management courses etc


Once again, you're missing my point. We cannot control our emotions. It is not possible. We don't have a choice. You're telling me that you can learn to MANAGE it, and "manage" doesn't mean "control". What you're claiming here is that we can make ourselves NOT get mad, AT ALL! That we can listen to something that used to make us mad and instantly, at will, consciously change that to some other emotion. It is not possible.

However, what you CAN do is control the type of evidence you let in. For example...you get emails from some guy you think is a jackass. Things he sends you regularly make you very angry, angry enough that you have thoughts of choosing to hit a wall! Then, one day, you see yet another email from this same guy, but because you don't want to be angry (let's say it's a good day and you don't want it "ruined"), you CHOOSE to not open that email, which means you're CHOOSING to not allow that information to enter your mind, and in turn not make you angry. You aren't controlling the emotion, you're controlling the input that results in the emotion based on previously learning that, no matter what, every word this guy says results (involuntarily) in anger, and you dislike this feeling. I don't know how I can make this much more clear.


the-dude said:I'm saying how do we know they weren't forced/coerced to say something ELSE about what they witnessed, rather than what they REALLY saw?
Why on earth do you think there could have been some mafia type person going around making people lie about Jesus? What would their motive have been? Moreover there are enough differences in the gospels to suggest that the authors hadn't completely colluded (which you would expect if they were repeating some story a gang master had forced them to give) Do you seriously think this is a credible alternative to suggesting Christianity is true?


Is it POSSIBLE that someone was forced to write and falsify witness testimony in the bible? I'm stating that all other possibilities haven't been ruled out - this being one major possibility. It is well-known that suppression and persecution was common during the biblical age (hell, it's even common now!). Therefore, I argue not that there's evidence that there was someone forcing them to write these things, but that it is POSSIBLE, therefore, the entire bible cannot be proven to be TRUE TO ME. That is what I need, personally, to form a belief - I need all other possibilities to be 100%, without a doubt, ruled out.

James said:

the-dude said: Religious people regularly say that dating techniques used for determining the age of ancient dinosaur bones can't be PROVEN (to them) to be accurate (in fact, any one announcement of error causes an uproar in the religious community!).
So your suggesting atheists should lower themselves to the same standards? I bet you're the first to complain when Christians present that kind of argument and so you shouldn't mind if I complain when you do likewise.


No, and you know that's not what I'm saying. You know clearly that I was responding to YOU using something in your argument that YOU YOURSELF argue against! For you, if it fits your contextual argument, you will use it. You are now cutting and pasting my comments completely out of context by leaving out the rest of the paragraph.

James said:


the-dude said:I think you mean textual analysis, not criticism, by the way
No - textual criticism is recognised terminology(and should not be confused with slagging off the Bible!). The fact you haven't even heard of this recognised academic discipline suggests that you're not the best person to be offering an opinion on its validity. Indeed, this proves that your statements on this issue are based on anything but evidence (as you can't have even read a book on the subject be even the most sceptical scholars in this field)


As for textual criticism, it's not even a science. And the link you provided gave this information about "textual criticism":

"It is the task of textual criticism to collect and study these various writings in which a text has been preserved, determine the changes that have occurred in the wording and arrangement of the text, assess the significance of such changes, and restore, if possible, the original wording or form of the text. If this is not possible, one must decide on the best or most reliable wording and try to account for the historical process through which the text has been changed. In every case, textual criticism seeks to establish a reliable text that can serve as the basis for serious study and reflection."

As I stated before, this type of textual analysis only verifies that the text was original and written by specific people. It does nothing to validate that the actual stories were true stories and not fabrications (coerced or otherwise).


James said:

the-dude said:Also, perhaps they can recover the original text, but this still doesn't mean that the TEXT or writings about witnesses is TRUE!
Maybe, but as I was responding to an objection you raised that's not the point.


Of course it's the point, this was a series of objections - my point was that nothing about textual criticism makes the stories from witnesses any more true than my scenario about being forced to write down false information on the drug dealer in the alley.

What it does do is form part of an argument. If we can show the following three facts are likely to be true then it logically follows that Christianity (in its core beliefs) is true:

1)The New Testament roughly represents what the first generation Christians believed


Roughly? Why not exactly? And let's say it is true that this was what first gen. Christians believed. One's beliefs JUST DON'T MAKE IT TRUE. Again, why should what others believed centuries ago equate to undeniable fact? It doesn't.


2)The first generation of Christians were sincere in their beliefs

How do you know this? Because it was written? And, seriously believing something still doesn't make it true. You could tell me until you're blue in the face that YOU BELIEVE 2+2=5, but it will never be FACT. And how do "textual critics" gauge sincerity from texts that are so old? This is impossible!

3) At least some of the first Christians were in a position to know if the beliefs were true (e.g were disciples of Jesus, claimed to have seen Jesus resurrected for themself, had met Jesus when he was alive, lived in Jerusalem and knew what people were saying about Jesus and could verify basic facts etc)

Again, no one knows if they were coerced to LIE and say they saw these things. The possibility exists that these writings were 1) coerced, 2) falsified without coercion, 3) changed over time through editing or translational errors.

James said:

the-dude said:You're the Christian with the exclusivity to moral values and what's "good" and "bad". Do you think it's perfectly OK to just wipe everyone out in a population because of a few bad apples?!?
this has already been explained - there was a lot more than a few bad apples and this objection could be used against any war.


Ok, let's quantify this for the sake of argument, because you're still not getting the point:

1000 people of a civilization that God in the Old Testament has declared "bad". Of these 1000, 745 of them have committed the "bad" things that really pissed off God. The other 255 people disagree with the 745 "bad" ones, but can't get out because these "bad" people are suppressing them (a common occurrence in the biblical days). God wipes them all out, regardless of the 255 people with differing viewpoints than the 745 - in other words, one bad apple spoils the bunch.

These events contradict a the biblical caricature of an infinitely good, loving, patient, and forgiving god. And when we compare this to current wars, there's no comparison - GOD is killing in the bible and he's the one telling humans to NOT KILL. He's being a hypocrite, clearly.


James said:

the-dude said:The bible, all parts, say that god is GOOD, LOVING, INFINITELY PATIENT, INFINITELY FORGIVING, ALL-KNOWING, ALL-POWERFUL.
But what is good? would a good God, for example, let his people be kept as slaves and bullied by the Egyptians? Or would God rescue his people even if it means killing some of the Egyptian army etc (i'm sure your average Egyptian soldier did what they were told without any say in the matter and so were innocent in that respect)


Now you're simply creating a justification for the murderous god of the OT not being able to just pick out the bad people and spare the good. You are clearly missing the glaring contradiction with what god is supposed to be standing for and what his actions prove otherwise.

The Bible says God is slow to anger (e.g Numbers 14:18) - I'm so confident that it doesn't say He is infinitely patient and forgiving that I challenge you to find a passage which supports this.

Slow to anger, huh? What about the story where a few kids run up and start calling another kid "baldhead, baldhead!!", and the kid asks god to help him, and god immediately summons two female lions from the woods to maul and kill all of the kids that yelled "baldhead, baldhead!!". He did it right on the spot, and for something as ridiculous as namecalling!!

And, perhaps the bible doesn't say verbatim the word "infinitely patient". However, I did a google search on the topic of god and "infinitely patient" with "bible" and found an uncountable number of Christian sites going on and on about his "infinite patience". Apparently, even though the bible doesn't say "infinitely patient", there is plenty to imply this from the bible:

"The book of the Psalms contains one hundred and fifty songs to and poems about the Lord. They are the prayers of the people. Sometimes they are pure praise or thanksgiving, sometimes entreaty, sometimes they reveal honest anger at circumstances and at God. But in all cases, the various psalmists come back to one point: God is good. Though he is rightfully angry at those who hate him, he is infinitely patient and forgiving with every man and woman who seeks him. Nor does he content himself with “only” being patient and forgiving: he is our constant Shepherd, and the Guardian of our souls. He actively watches over us, protecting our well-being, nurturing us, defending us, and leading us on to a joyful eternity with him. (Psalm 23)"


James said:


the-dude said:And your LOTTERY analogy is wrong.
No - it shows that it is fair for someone to miss out on something they didn't deserve even if whoever got whatever it was didn't deserve it either. You admit that we are accountable for at least some of our sins (for example murder) and so Hell is not unfair. The dispute is over salvation, which is a gift from God. I can give a gift to whoever I choose and so can God.


But you can't "CHOOSE" to believe in god, you just do. So apparently it's definitely a "gift", therefore god's offering of a reward for those that are lucky enough to get this "gift", yet punishing others for something for which they had no control over (not sins, but the ability to be "saved" by CHOOSING TO BELIEVE) is the exact definition of UNFAIR.

Again, your lottery analogy is a poor one. If you can't admit this, then I'd rather not continue discussing it. According to the bible, god controls the "lottery" of life. He knows the "numbers" (metaphor for "gift of salvation") before they're "drawn". Therefore, the outcome is his responsibility, not humans, and whomever he "gifts" salvation to (the ability to "believe") is the lottery winner. The rest of the others that had no say (or didn't even PLAY the "god lottery") are doomed and had no choice. UNFAIR. No one picks the actual LOTTERY NUMBERS. They might grab balls out of a vacuum machine, but they don't control the random number selection. Thereby you cannot apply "fair/unfair" to the lottery without someone that can be held accountable for the number selection.


James said:

the-dude said:he knows events and actions before they even happen
God exists outside of time and space and so you have the wrong understanding of how God's omniscience works.


So god has a different definition for "omniscience"? Sounds yet again like you're conveniently changing the definition of words to fit your argument. Also, what makes you capable of understanding this abstract definition of "omniscient" over anyone else?

Fact remains, the entire purpose for an omniscient god creating something for which he already knows the outcome, yet still getting pleasure from these events, is non-existent. No one has yet to present a PURPOSE for a being creating events for which he already knows the outcome. It's like watching reruns of comedy shows over and over - jokes get less and less funny (e.g., pleasurable) when you already know the punchline.


James said:

the-dude said:Therefore, if he chooses to send people to hell for violating a requirement for which they had no choice in to begin with, the word UNFAIR can most definitely be applied.!
Again, you're confusing condemnation (going to hell for our wrong doings) with salvation (being forgiven and saved from hell)


You're not really serious here, are you? I'm not confusing anything, and it's CLEAR that I'm not. I'm very blatantly speaking about the requirement of "choosing to believe in god" in order to be saved. I'm saying NOTHING about actions (sins), and everything about the inability to choose to believe.

The Dude said...

Found out that the topic of involuntary belief is one of pretty high significance in the philosophical circle. In fact, they've given it a "name": doxastic voluntarism. Tons of information and books out there on this subject, and of the articles I've read this evening (3), all mention the Christian salvation belief requirement. Google it and enjoy!

akakiwibear said...

Lee et al: “anyway this is a distraction because the argument is that people can't choose to believe, but they can choose to act.”

Having read the screeds above I have yet to see how you justify this position – it defies logic, which is obvious in the atheist replies to the theist comment.

Let me try once again to state the obvious.
1) all our elective actions are the result of a cognitive process (going to the toilet as against relieving oneself whenever and wherever is elective behaviour)
2) elective behaviour is open to choice
So the question is what is our elective behaviour based on? Is it Pavlovian behaviour– could be, but is the basis of Pavlov’s work not the conditioned BELIEF of reward or punishment associated with behaviour. Or is our behaviour based on decisions – if so what are our decisions based on? Psychology teaching tells us that behaviour is based on values which are in turn based on beliefs. That is why it is difficult to change behaviour, we first have to change the beliefs. So at this point in the argument, I see actions as being determined by beliefs and hence actions are not subject to choice other than within our belief system.

You can’t have your cake and eat it – either there is freedom of choice or there is not. It would appear that there is little if any choice in actions that is not determined by beliefs.

The real question therefore is “is there choice in beliefs?”. You have yet to show evidence that we are constrained in our beliefs. Yes there may be arguments for or against a belief, the arguments may be good or not, but you need to show that independent of the quality of the argument etc our choice is predetermined – that is we are constrained from making a free choice based on inputs and data.

To support your case I would expect you to produce research that demonstrates a specific causal link outside of reason/logic/evidence (inputs/data if you like) to people holding a specific belief – you need to demonstrate preselection of belief across population groups – but if you had it I guess we would have seen it!

Peace

akakiwibear said...

Lee: should be that no one be held accountable for their actions.
this is a total misrepresentation.
no one ever said that and it does not follow logically because harm and uncertainty come into play . Even if I stipulate for the sake of argument they are not responsible because they don't have freewill, they still need to be contained to prevent them from doing more harm


No you did not say it, but it is the logical outcome of your position.

You argue that people should be “contained” to prevent them from doing more harm – OK but why not kill them? After all your position is that we are only bio-computers and some appear to be malfunctioning, so “recall’ them!

Your position leads inevitably to an interesting ethic. If you do not endorse the ethic then you need to rethink its driver. Once you start down the road you can’t turn back! Think it through to its conclusion and fault the logic if you can.


Sala kahle - peace

akakiwibear said...

Dude, in your comment: Where do you get this? Once again it's appearing that a few people here are simply not reading the volumes of text myself and Lee have written in this comments section. You are not responsible for your EMOTIONS - emotions like sadness, belief, trust, faith, happiness, anger, fear, etc. These are not ACTIONS!

well Dude I got it from both you “Freewill pertains only to actions, as actions are the only things with which we humans actually have a CHOICE.”
and Lee “people can't choose to believe, but they can choose to act” Now I know you are pushing a weak point but denying your own argument just because it is flawed is really scraping the bottom of the barrel! Be bold, concede to an indefensible position, or just deny you said it – your call!

Peace

Lee Randolph said...

Hi akakiwibear,
The real question therefore is “is there choice in beliefs?”. You have yet to show evidence that we are constrained in our beliefs. Yes there may be arguments for or against a belief, the arguments may be good or not, but you need to show that independent of the quality of the argument etc our choice is predetermined – that is we are constrained from making a free choice based on inputs and data.
I submit to you evidence! The Dude, sent this to me in email for another reason. Cognitive behavioral therapy
In a nutshell, using the introduction of new information, behavior and beliefs are modified. The beliefs, like fear of spiders, are a response to external stimulus that triggers an internal emotional response. By getting the patient to learn and become familiar, this emotional response can be minimized. This shows that a belief is dependent on information stored in memory. It is consistent in describing me, in that until I figured out that God has to be assumed to put him in a position to write the bible, among other logical problems, and the inconsistency in the bible, and the history of the Near East, I was a christian. Granted, people jumping from the towers and the problem of facing burning-to-death versus the sin-of-suicide had a lot to do with motivating me to do a serious academic study of diverse disciplines to see where the evidence converged.

so we don't choose to believe. We seem to have little belief scale that can be tipped with enough information converging on an idea. Try this, start your stove, and will yourself to believe that you won't get burned and then try to touch the burner. I bet you can't.

You argue that people should be “contained” to prevent them from doing more harm – OK but why not kill them? After all your position is that we are only bio-computers and some appear to be malfunctioning, so “recall’ them!
another misrepresentation.
here i'll do it to you, "I can't believe that you believe in capital punishment! You bad person you! Its the inevitable outcome of your dogma!".
seriously though,
capital punishment is not a good option as long there as there are so many human variables. The book "mistakes were made, but not by me" covers some of this. There are persuasive influences in communities and cultures that can affect the outcome of a trial resulting with an innocent person on death row.
p1. If the law makers kill the wrong person,
p2. they become murderers,
c. then they should be killed.

In my mind its a show-stopping paradox. In a rash moment I would say that for some people, like dahmer, killing is justified, but the process that kills him, could accidentally kill someone else.

I used to support the death penalty until I saw a video with a moral philosopher discussing its problems. My belief balance tipped. My gut feeling, emotional response to child murderers is that that they should be killed immediately, but thats not a very well thought out position, so I'm not sure my belief has changed as much as I know I can't justify it rationally.

well Dude I got it from both you “Freewill pertains only to actions, as actions are the only things with which we humans actually have a CHOICE.”
and Lee “people can't choose to believe, but they can choose to act” Now I know you are pushing a weak point but denying your own argument just because it is flawed is really scraping the bottom of the barrel! Be bold, concede to an indefensible position, or just deny you said it – your call!

What are you saying? what is your point? please spell it out rather than cutting and pasting some comments and crowing about 'CONCEDE, CONCEDE' like your 'inquisitive' bretheren. ;-)

You are ignoring a bunch of qualifiers and rushing to a conclusion, but I can't blame you since that is so christian of you. ;-) you seem to be oversimplifying this to make it fit your viewpoint.

in the context of freewill,
if god is omniscient, freewill does not exist.
any perception of freewill we have comes from the fact that we do not know the future.
so within this context, if there is a god, and freewill is not possible, we act as if we do have it. so we make what we think are choices.

I don't think there is a god, and I think that free will is contingent on biological processes. I can choose not to eat suteed mushrooms but I can't choose not to feel nauseous when I smell them. My behavior has a biological basis.

If I get slapped in the back of the head by a playful friend, I feel a flash of anger and desire for retribution. Can you blame me?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi The Dude,
I'm a-googling! There is no entry for it in wikipedia :-(

The Dude said...

Lee said:

Hi The Dude,
I'm a-googling! There is no entry for it in wikipedia :-(


Lee:

I didn't find it there either, but I found plenty of discussion and several papers I plan to order on the subject. Doxastic voluntarism actually refers to the idea that beliefs ARE voluntary, and the articles that I've found are those stating that doxastic voluntarism is not possible. If I may post a link, here's one.

The Dude said...

My apologies...wrong link entered...Lee, could you edit my previous comment with this link? Delete this one if you wish after editing.

The Dude said...

Lee:

The links I post are not directing to the correct location. What gives? Here is the site I'm trying to link to: http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/
wecannotchooseourbeliefs.html

Lee Randolph said...

Hi The Dude,
my critique of the following article.

http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/wecannotchooseourbeliefs.html

We are able, for instance, to exercise control over the kinds of evidence to which we are exposed. We can choose to associate with people who believe in God; we can choose to read books by noted apologists; we can choose to act is if we believe and see what happens. Each of these choices would increase the likelihood of our coming to believe in God. If Pascal’s Wager is correct in saying that we ought to exercise what control we can over our beliefs in an attempt to induce in ourselves a belief in God, therefore, then we ought to do each of these things.
what the author is suggesting is a persuasion technique similar to brainwashing.

Using the techniques of hyponosis it is possible to induce beliefs in a subject without any regard for evidence at all.
this is not true of all people, and the author demonstrates an unfamiliarity with hypnosis.

If Pascal’s Wager is to be resisted, therefore, then this must be done on some other ground than that we cannot choose our beliefs.
this is false because he concedes that we cannot control our beliefs and must use something similar to brainwashing to bring ourselves to belief. This type of belief must be actively maintained and managed or it fails in the long run. Any belief that is not naturally supported by day to day evidence and is not actively maintained and managed will be weak.

The Dude said...

Lee et al:

Good PDF article on belief being involuntary or voluntary.

http://disputatio.com/articles/022-3.pdf

james said...

the-dude said:Once again, you're missing my point
No - you completely ignored my point and instead repeated your original argument. If you were unnecessarily angry towards someone should you later (once you've calmed down) apologise to them. If you would then you must be responsible for being angry as otherwise you'd be apologising for something which isn't your fault.

You have also ignored my point about people who do anger management courses and learn to stop being angry.

the-dude says:I need all other possibilities to be 100%, without a doubt, ruled out.
So are you saying that even if you're 99% certain Christianity is true you should remain an atheist. Surely being certain beyond reasonable doubt is good enough.

the-dude said:You know clearly that I was responding to YOU using something in your argument that YOU YOURSELF argue against! For you, if it fits your contextual argument, you will use it.
I have never argued against the dating of fossils (I'm not a young earth creationist)

the dude says:As I stated before, this type of textual analysis only verifies that the text was original and written by specific people.

the-dude said (slightly earlier):You knew what I meant - witnesses in a book that has been manipulated, translated, retranslated an uncountable number of times, are not good sources for proving anything
In other words I refuted your original objection to the historical evidence for Jesus and my argument did what I intended it to.

the-dude said:Roughly? Why not exactly? And let's say it is true that this was what first gen. Christians believed.
It's possible to explain how (from a historical point of view) the odd bit of secondary detail etc in the Bible is not true and hence I said 'roughly'. Thus I do not need to show that the Bible is infalliable to show this statement is true.


the-dude said:One's beliefs JUST DON'T MAKE IT TRUE.
Don't forget - you need to show all three statements are false - not just one of them. My second 2 statements I gave show why they are true.

the-dude said:How do you know this? Because it was written?
No. The Christians were persecuted (and many even died) for their beliefs. They devote their lives to spreading the Christian message and this proves that their beliefs were sincere.

the-dude said:Again, no one knows if they were coerced to LIE and say they saw these things
The authorities etc were against Christianity, Christians had no power, they didn't try and make money out it. There would be no reason for some cunning mastermind who forced the disiples etc to lie.

the-dude said:Ok, let's quantify this for the sake of argument, because you're still not getting the point:
Repeating the argument is not an alternative for addressing my response to it.

the-dude said:Slow to anger, huh? What about the story where a few kids run up and start calling another kid "baldhead, baldhead!!", and the kid asks god to help him, and god immediately summons two female lions from the woods to maul and kill all of the kids that yelled "baldhead, baldhead!!". He did it right on the spot, and for something as ridiculous as namecalling!!
Firstly, the Hebrew wording of the passage in question implies they were young men - not kids. In fact a gang of young men. Secondly - they were not simply calling another kid bauldhead, they were threatening the prophet Elisha and in doing so happened to use the word baldhead. So it would be like you walking along a quite street when a gang of youths walk up to you and shout, in a menacing manor, 'oi, you'. Completly different. Finally it was bears and they only mauled them - nobody got killed.

Read the story for yourself: From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths (2 Kings2:23-25)

As you can see, you and many other atheists, retell the story in a highly biased and misleading way to make God look bad.

the-dude said: You are clearly missing the glaring contradiction
In which case you can look at my argument and point out this glaringly obvious contradiction.

the-dude said:And, perhaps the bible doesn't say verbatim the word "infinitely patient". However, I did a google search on the topic of god and "infinitely patient" with "bible" and found an uncountable number of Christian sites
If I don't believe it, and it isn't in the Bible, then you're creating a straw man argument.

the dudes said:(Psalm 23)
psalm 23 says nothing about God being infinitely patient and forgiving.

the dude said: yet punishing others for something for which they had no control over (not sins, but the ability to be "saved" by CHOOSING TO BELIEVE) is the exact definition of UNFAIR.
That's like saying people are in prison because they got caught and so it is unfair. We go to hell for our sins.

the-dude said:Also, what makes you capable of understanding this abstract definition of "omniscient" over anyone else?
I'm not - I'm saying neither of us can really understand how omniscience works.

The Dude said...

James said:

the-dude said:Once again, you're missing my point
No - you completely ignored my point and instead repeated your original argument. If you were unnecessarily angry towards someone should you later (once you've calmed down) apologise to them. If you would then you must be responsible for being angry as otherwise you'd be apologising for something which isn't your fault.


I ignored the apologizing part because it wasn't pertinent to my original argument.

James said:

You have also ignored my point about people who do anger management courses and learn to stop being angry.

No, I addressed it directly. Anger "management" isn't designed to teach someone to CHOOSE a different emotion (they can't do this anyway), it's simply learning to MANAGE the action that is the result of the emotion. The phrase itself is misleading - "anger management" isn't really managing the emotion of anger, it's managing the knee-jerk reaction TO the emotion. You're managing the ACTION, not the EMOTION.

James said:

the-dude says:I need all other possibilities to be 100%, without a doubt, ruled out.
So are you saying that even if you're 99% certain Christianity is true you should remain an atheist. Surely being certain beyond reasonable doubt is good enough.


Well, I don't make the rules, the god of the bible does. Everywhere I've seen or heard or had explained to me interprets god's requirement of FULL BLOWN FAITH AND BELIEF as 100% or nothing. So my answer to your question is partially "yes" - if you're 1% in doubt, you're by all definitions I've heard not a "real" Christian (although you might label yourself this).

James said:

the-dude said (slightly earlier):You knew what I meant - witnesses in a book that has been manipulated, translated, retranslated an uncountable number of times, are not good sources for proving anything
In other words I refuted your original objection to the historical evidence for Jesus and my argument did what I intended it to.


"In other words?" Now you're dropping to putting words in my mouth? NO, I said that you've yet to prove that because witness testimony is in a book, a book that has been prone to tampering over the years, it is fact and unmovable.


I can't address the rest now due to being at work, and I'm not even sure I want to take the time...the rest look more like jabs and attempts to push buttons - not solid debate replies...perhaps more later....

Lee Randolph said...

Hi James,
a couple of things you directed toward the dude that I'd like to address,

No - you completely ignored my point and instead repeated your original argument. If you were unnecessarily angry towards someone should you later (once you've calmed down) apologise to them. If you would then you must be responsible for being angry as otherwise you'd be apologising for something which isn't your fault.
I apologize for things that aren't my fault. I apologized the other day when my partner had a bad day. I said "I'm sorry you had a bad day". Not because I thought it was my fault but out of empathy. If I say somehting I regret out of anger, and I apologize, i am apologizing because it was probably not warranted.

You have also ignored my point about people who do anger management courses and learn to stop being angry.
anger management is management just as the dude said. People can also be trained to get over a fear of spiders (for example). But this is done by introducing the individual to more information, which is used by the belief to support itself. When there is enough information about an idea, the 'belief balance' will react accordingly. Belief, you must admit, is above all "a feeling" about the truth of something.

One last thing before I move on to other comments
the-dude said:One's beliefs JUST DON'T MAKE IT TRUE.
Don't forget - you need to show all three statements are false - not just one of them. My second 2 statements I gave show why they are true.

At least the dudes beliefs are not built on an assumption. you, on the other hand, must necessarily ASSUME that god exists to get him into a position to write the bible, and then believe its true because you don't want to live in a world in which its not true, right? You don't choose to beleive, you just do because the lack of god tips your belief balance to his side.

the atheist or agnostic has the logical upper hand because we don't make positive claims, generally, unless it is to weaken a positive claim about god. We don't believe there is a god because don't make the assumption and then we haven't seen any evidence that is not ambiguous.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi James,
I apologize, no seriously, because I missed some of your replies to me, not because I wanted to, I just didn't see them when I came back to the thread,
anyway...
But then you could argue that Einstein didn't choose to be intelligent and thus shouldn't take credit for his work or that Bin Laden didn't choose to be a Muslim and thus can't take responsibility for his life.
lets see if I can do a flow chart here and analyze where our disagreement is.
1. information presented.
2. receiver starts getting a feeling of whether they 'get it'
3. receiver starts getting a feeling of whether they get it and 'feel' like its right.
4. receiver starts modifying behavior based on this 'feeling'

I am on items number 2 and 3, and I think you are stuck on item number 4.

I say, we don't choose to 'get it', and we don't choose 'to feel like its right'. These seem to be handled in the emotional areas. The brain is an organ made up of smaller organized system, it is unique in the body. It has areas that compete with each other and two of those areas are the rational and emotional areas. If you look into economic neuroscience, and game theory, you will see that they are trying to determine why people typically may irrational decisions in certain situations. It has to do with emotional responses to the stimuli. In mark housers moral sense test at Harvard University, he has several test set up to save people on a train track (google it and you can take it yourself). If people don't have to push someone onto the tracks to save the five, then they usually will take some action to save them. In most cases people personally causing the death of another is a show stopper.

Einstein was brilliant. This was a natural occurrence. He did the work, he gets the credit. I am quite confident there have been Einsteins born that didn't have the luck or infrastructure to allow them to do the work that would have gotten them famous. I am quite sure some einsteins have suffered genius crippling malnutrition or died in their mothers arms or were stillborn.

So Bin Laden is not responsible for his beliefs, but he is responsible for his resulting actions, and should be contained until such time as he is not an unacceptable risk to society.

How do you know our actions aren't the result of chemical reactions in our brain if our beliefs are?
they probably are, but on a level that we have rational control over them.

Maybe (although I personally don't agree with this) freewill is just an illusion . Many people advocate such an idea. Would you then claim, if this turned out to be the case, we held no responsibility for our actions or would you suggest that all we've discovered is an interesting paradox?
No, I think free will is mostly an illusion. I think we are 'slaves to our passions' but not to our actions. They are separate. So sauteed mushroom make me nauseous, so I don't eat them. I want the latest ipod, but choose not to steal it. etc.

Indeed, so shouldn't we remain open on the issue until all the evidence is in?
This is RICH! To support your belief in god you must ASSUME that God exists to get him into a position to write the bible, then you accept ambiguous evidence in support of God, and you discount any evidence to the contrary in order to maintain the good feeling you get as a result of believing in god. I suppose you believe creation is the evidence of God? I can't say that enough, it just rolls off the fingers.....

Lee Randolph said...

JL,
think about that. If you choose not to believe us then you must think that our arguments have enough merit to possibly be true. In that case you have to decide to be personally dishonest and discount information that you believe to be worthy of consideration.

In any case, you must be joking, or have shown yourself to be intellectually dishonest.

in anycase, I don't believe you choose not to believe us. I don't think you have a choice, except in the case of doubt, in which case, more information one way or the other will tip that balance.

james said...

the-dude said:No, I addressed it directly. Anger "management" isn't designed to teach someone to CHOOSE a different emotion (they can't do this anyway), it's simply learning to MANAGE the action that is the result of the emotion.
No it isn't necessarily.(for example here, and here)

People's personalities can also change over time (if you ever meet someone who you haven't seen for a long time this is obvious). If they can change (even if it takes time) surely we must have some control over it (unless you can give evidence to the contrary).

the-dude said:Everywhere I've seen or heard or had explained to me interprets god's requirement of FULL BLOWN FAITH AND BELIEF as 100% or nothing.
That's clearly not true - you only need to scroll up and read what me, gordonblood and others have said to see you have not always had it explained to you in this way.

the-dude said:NO, I said that you've yet to prove that because witness testimony is in a book, a book that has been prone to tampering over the years, it is fact and unmovable.
a)I pointed out that virtually all new testament critics agree that (due to the vast number of extant manuscripts) we can remove most tampering (about 99% of the NT is the same as in the autographs-original copies-)
b) your belief that the modern new testament bears no resemblance to the original is based on ignorance not evidence (as you didn't even know what textual criticism is)
c) this is an attack on the historical method - your argument could be used to dismiss any historical event within ancient history.

lee said:I apologize for things that aren't my fault. I apologized the other day when my partner had a bad day. I said "I'm sorry you had a bad day".
apologising is normally more than saying sorry. Saying 'I'm sorry to hear you had a bad day' is not apologising. Saying 'I'm genuinely sorry that I was angry at you last night' is. To me it seems a bit meaningless if apologising simply becomes using the word sorry as a figure of speech.

My point is that you don't live as if you hold no responsibility for who you are.

lee said:Belief, you must admit, is above all "a feeling" about the truth of something.
Why does that stop you having responsibility for it? Surely you have responsibility to look at the evidence fairly? You have a responsibility to not jump to conclusions. You have a responsibility to not let your prejudices shape what you believe to be true. etc etc

You still seem to be assuming that Christian belief is simply about thinking god exists despite me and other pointing out otherwise and despite offering no arguments to backup such an idea.

Lee said:At least the dudes beliefs are not built on an assumption. you, on the other hand, must necessarily ASSUME that god exists to get him into a position to write the bible, and then believe its true because you don't want to live in a world in which its not true, right?
You go in assuming God doesn't exist. I bet a Christian gives you some evidence and your first thought is 'how can I disprove it'. That argument would be like someone saying 'I know there is good evidence for evolution, but you have to assume that evolution is true in order to accept the evidence.' The aim is to go in open-minded and I was arguing that if you treat the Bible as a collection of historical sources (just like any other collection of historical sources) you end up with Christianity being true. You don't need to be a Christian to treat the Bible as a historical source.

lee said:If people don't have to push someone onto the tracks to save the five, then they usually will take some action to save them. In most cases people personally causing the death of another is a show stopper.
whilst this is interesting I can't see how it is meant to support atheism and your view. You might as well point out that if you asked a lot of people to jump off a cliff they would all say 'no' That doesn't mean that we are not responsible for our actions, it simply means that jumping off a cliff is a bad action and so we all choose to come to the same conclusion.

Lee said:they probably are, but on a level that we have rational control over them.
You can't have it both ways - if our brains run on purely electrical signals and chemical reactions then we can't have control over anything. electricity flows, and chemical reactions happen, in predictable ways. You seem to want to accept that all our thoughts etc are no more than electrical signals, use that when attacking Christianity but refuse to follow it to the logical conclusion when it doesn't suit you and would refute your own worldview.

Lee said:and you discount any evidence to the contrary in order to maintain the good feeling you get as a result of believing in god.
I've started to come to the conclusion that atheists hope that if they talk about how important evidence is enough nobody will notice that they don't actually have any.

Lee said:think about that. If you choose not to believe us then you must think that our arguments have enough merit to possibly be true. In that case you have to decide to be personally dishonest and discount information that you believe to be worthy of consideration.
Suppose there was a 40m wide raging river you had to cross. Next to you was a bridge going across it. You think for a bit and see three obvious (or not so obvious:p) possibilities:
1)You could walk over the bridge
2)You could try and swim across
3)You could take a run up and attempt to jump across.

I'm sure we all realise that number 1 is the best option however does this mean it wasn't our decision or did we choose and the choice was obvious? If someone went for option 3 would we be entitled to say it is their fault for being so stupid (and thus hold them accountable?)

Lee Randolph said...

lee said:I apologize for things that aren't my fault. I apologized the other day when my partner had a bad day. I said "I'm sorry you had a bad day".
apologising is normally more than saying sorry. Saying 'I'm sorry to hear you had a bad day' is not apologising. Saying 'I'm genuinely sorry that I was angry at you last night' is. To me it seems a bit meaningless if apologising simply becomes using the word sorry as a figure of speech.
you are redifining apologizing. When i feel empathetic to someone and I say that I am sorry this or that happened, or if I say something terrible in a flash of anger and then apologize I feel empathetic as well, in addition to feeling stupid. The root is empathy.

My point is that you don't live as if you hold no responsibility for who you are.
I hope this is rhetorical, beacause if its not, I'd like to point out that don't know me very well, so hold off judging me. Now, If I had bi-polar disorder, I would be different person, If my memories were wiped out in a stroke or through alzheimers, i'd be a different person. Biology plays a big part in who you are, whether you admit it or not. I hear the evidence every day in cognitive science podcasts.


lee said:Belief, you must admit, is above all "a feeling" about the truth of something.
Why does that stop you having responsibility for it? Surely you have responsibility to look at the evidence fairly? You have a responsibility to not jump to conclusions. You have a responsibility to not let your prejudices shape what you believe to be true. etc etc

okay, so show me how you go about choosing to believe in god, or go about choosing to believe that you will burn your hand on your stove, or how you go about choosing not to be afraid of something please. Maybe then you will get a grip on the fact that emotions are a spontaneous result of stimulus. One thing I hate about me is that sometimes I'll get teary eyed in a movie. I just watched "the bucket list" and I got teary eyed. I hate that so can you give me a clue of how to stop it please?

You still seem to be assuming that Christian belief is simply about thinking god exists despite me and other pointing out otherwise and despite offering no arguments to backup such an idea.
no, no, no, (finger wagging at you) I know what your arguments are, and I know you think they are good ones, but I don't think they are good ones anymore, and your belief that you can choose to believe in something is contrary to the evidence as is most of your arguments.

You go in assuming God doesn't exist. I bet a Christian gives you some evidence and your first thought is 'how can I disprove it'. That argument would be like someone saying 'I know there is good evidence for evolution, but you have to assume that evolution is true in order to accept the evidence.' The aim is to go in open-minded and I was arguing that if you treat the Bible as a collection of historical sources (just like any other collection of historical sources) you end up with Christianity being true. You don't need to be a Christian to treat the Bible as a historical source.
James, pay attention, I WAS A CHRISTIAN, I made the assumption too. Its just that the evidence to the contrary did not support the belief.
Heres a few show stoppers in my mind.
* You have to assume god exists to get him into a position to write the bible
* There is not principle of rehabilitation in eternal reward and punishment
* Life on earth, or some call it the Problem of Evil, causes us harmful stress that sends some of us into a negative feedback loop of decisions and consequences that god doesn't get you out of. Read my latest article for my some of my anecdotes on this. In a family of christians three were suicidal. there are genetic markers that can predict liklihood for mental illness, I suppose that based on this the liklihood for suicide runs in my family. In fact I remember that as a teenager, the only reason that I didn't commit suicide is that I didn't have any way to prevent it from hurting. Does suicide run in your family? If you don't buy my suicide-in-the-family scenario how bout schizophrenia? I have links to research on that one.
* God will let you into no-win situations such as having to choose how you will die. The last act of your life is suicide? Suicide is a sin right?
* Logically An omniscient God prevents free will. Look up the omniscient paradox for more info on this.
* An omnipotent god is impossible because he doesn't have the ability to change his mind because of his omniscience, again google this paradox, you can find both in wikipedia.
* The israelites came from the canaanites so why is the israelite religion valid and the canaanite religion not?
* Why do some of the passages in the bible turn up in other near eastern cultures mythology?
* Why is there no evidence of the Exodus, but there is plenty of evidence of other roaming tribes in that time period,
* Christians can't decide on what it means to be a christian. Isn't that stupid?
* It is necessary to figure out exceptions to biblical principles to explain how, for example, a perfectly Just god can order that the stomachs of pregnant women get split open, or that women are ordered to be taken as the spoils of war. Doesn't that just smack of human thinking?

I could go on, but you get the picture. By analogy, you tell me you are plumbing expert, and then I hire you and you completely botch up the job, I come to believe you are not a plumbing expert.

Lee said:they probably are, but on a level that we have rational control over them.
You can't have it both ways - if our brains run on purely electrical signals and chemical reactions then we can't have control over anything. electricity flows, and chemical reactions happen, in predictable ways. You seem to want to accept that all our thoughts etc are no more than electrical signals, use that when attacking Christianity but refuse to follow it to the logical conclusion when it doesn't suit you and would refute your own worldview.

I hate to tell you this but the evidence is on my side. The next time you get angry, or afraid, or teary eyed, ask yourself why you chose to do that.

Lee said:and you discount any evidence to the contrary in order to maintain the good feeling you get as a result of believing in god.
I've started to come to the conclusion that atheists hope that if they talk about how important evidence is enough nobody will notice that they don't actually have any.

Sorry to tell you this too, weakening a positive claim by showing that the evidence doesn't support it is fundamental reasoning. I used it on my fictional plumber above, You did it to get over santa clause, and the easter bunny, and maybe ghosts but I don't know you that well.

James, I've made my case, I'm going to move on now. I'll see you in another thread.
take care.

james said...

Well O.K, I suppose this is end of the thread then.

This is my conclusion:
1)Even if we were only held accountable for our actions God would have a long list of reasons to send us to Hell. Hell is a fair punishment for our sins (and sins include actions)
2)Nonetheless I can see no reason to assume we aren't responsible for more than our actions. Simply because our beliefs and personality develop over a long period of time is not a reason to let us off the hook and deny responsibility for who we are. Also just because a choice is obvious does not stop it being a choice. Therefore things like racist thoughts, greed, jealously etc etc are all sins. You also seem a bit vague as to what the scientific evidence for your views on this matter is.
3)We therefore don't deserve to go to heaven and you have done nothing to prove otherwise. There are many things we have done wrong which God could send us to hell for. Thus Hell is fair.
4)Heaven is a gift from God and we are saved by grace. Therefore the rules are different. For a start would people who aren't Christians want to go the heaven and spend eternity with God? Secondly nobody has been short changed, everyone gets, at a minimum, what they deserve. You have failed to give a single reason why God can't give gifts to some people and not others. Thus heaven and salvation is fair.
5)When Christians talk about belief they mean more than just believing God exists. Christians are allowed to have doubts as well.
6)You seem very out of touch with what the historical evidence for Jesus is.
7) When you claimed to have been Christians you had some weird view that assumed God wrapped us up in bubble wrap and never let us die.

the dank said...

4)Heaven is a gift from God and we are saved by grace. Therefore the rules are different. For a start would people who aren't Christians want to go the heaven and spend eternity with God? Secondly nobody has been short changed, everyone gets, at a minimum, what they deserve. You have failed to give a single reason why God can't give gifts to some people and not others. Thus heaven and salvation is fair.

It is confusing for you to say that God gives us what we deserve, when you also say that we deserve hell, and yet through God's grace we are allowed into heaven. According to you, we do not deserve heaven but receive it anyway. So no, we do not receive what we deserve. And I fail to see why a lifetime of sin deserves eternal punishment. The punishment does not fit the crime. The notion that God is merciful and graceful as well is a contradiction. What is so impressive about a creature that makes rules it does not always have to follow?