Debunking Christianity -- And Then Some!
John, I would have hoped that being an exapologist and minister, you would not go tis route. Many of your critiques of Christianity have some good basis for them that require explanation, which I think you would agree with me, but that have not been explained sufficiently. But I am sure you know what "faith" is in common usage, versus what it is in the Christian usage, so I am not sure why you decided to go this route as a critique of Christianity, since this is not biblical, nor held by most ministers and apologists today, though some lay people, incorrectly, hold to it. We both know the faith of the Bible is a trust, and not a "wishing to believe or believing even if there is a lack of evidence." So it would make no sense to say that since we lack 100% sufficient proof, that we must use trust to get us the rest of the way. This is not to say that you could not take a form of this reasoning as one of your points. That being that if even one person fails to think that there is sufficient evidence, then there seems to be a failure of God to manifest Himself as to allow all people to come to Him. But we can leave the aspect of faith out, and simply day that if many find belief in Christianity irrational, then God has not done a sufficient job in making it rational.
"We both know the faith of the Bible is a trust." Trust in what? Upon what basis should we trust? I think this is a difference that makes no difference from my perspective.Cheers.
God does not provide enough evidence ..except keeping Saints' relics incorrupt, sending down the Holy Light each year for Easter, turning the course of the Jordan around each Jan. 19th, etc. -- yep: everything quiet on the Western front... :-| -- Or maybe you're asking for MORE? :-\
"11) That God created human beings with rational minds that require evidence before they accept something, and yet this same God does not provide enough evidence but asks them to have faith instead."Im not so sure if gnosiskaisophia fully understands where this post is at John.Am i right what you are saying is if God created humans then he created us with a need for always looking to find "enough evidence" to enable us a right to have our beliefs,right?.For instance we dont live by faith that there is food in the house,we check for the evidence before enabling us a right to the belief.We dont live by faith what time the bus is supposed to arrive at the bus stop,we check the evidence before we enable ourselves the right to the belief.We dont even live by faith that our families will be visiting at Christmas,we keep checking the evidence to enable us the right to the belief.We dont live by faith that the painting contractors will arrive to paint our house,we keep asking for evidence to enable our right to the belief.....And with all of these things our belief soon vanishes if evidence doesnt seem to match what we experience.We as human beings have learned to do this as part of our survival.We have learned through experience we can start to get ourselves into some danger, if we live to far outside of these tried and trusted boundarys that have helped us to survive.There is not much in our life that we "continue" to have much faith in, without continued evidence that backs up the faith that in turn then enables us the right to the belief.If we believe we have a good car,for continued faith we need continuing evidence that it starts in the morning and doesnt have to many breakdowns.If we saw things started to stop falling, crikey! we would soon start to even lose our faith in gravity.Even the Kalam Cosmological Argument relies on continueing evidence.Belief that we could maybe fly to the moon, would have soon died also had evidence arrived that suggested there was no "good reason" for "continued faith".So Johns Saying God created humans in a world that he created where "evidence" for "continued faith" is important with everything.And even very important with many things,if we wish to survive.Yet (religions) try to suggest humans should learn to have "continued faith" with "little evidence" ...And try and suggest its supposedly (logical) and even (reasonable) there is a God who will likely punish us even if we simple find this attitude alien to our normal way of life.Reality check = Unreal-Harsh-total madness-born to failureEarly Christians supposedly had continuing evidence freely available.Miracles etc.And rightly so,this world is proved its not a safe place to live entirely by the word of others,we need continuing evidence for continued belief.If living entirely by (faith) was really such a reasonable safe and correct way for humans to live and survive,many more humans would most likely still practice human and animal sacrifice today.But no... its a attitude thats totally alien and goes totally against, how we have actually proved we human beings can best survive.
I think what John is basically saying, is that, "belief" itself is not a voluntary action!No one can actually choose to believe or disbelieve anything!Belief only comes when our minds become convinced by what our senses and life experiences provide us!Therefore, no one can just choose to believe on a whim that christianity is true, and that the miracles are fact.This can only happen, if there are determining factures that are convincing our minds!John is saying that God (if He exists) does not provide sufficient evidence that the gospel, the bible, or God Himself is true to the general public of the world.I realize that some christians would argue that God had made Himself real to them.But...we cannot accept the personal testamony of someone who may be mistaken about the nature of those experiences.
Yes, I agree that personal or anecdotal evidence is not sufficient proof of God's existance. Any direct observations of Jesus or God date back over 2000 years. If there is a God who wants us to believe in him, why has he not shown himself to a large group of people (so that there are independent witnesses) since Biblical days? Speaking on occasion to individual schizophrenics does not count!If he really wanted us to understand him, he could also have written a new and improved Bible that was in English or at least modern Hebrew that people could relate to and understand.
But I am sure you know what "faith" is in common usage, versus what it is in the Christian usageYou understand that there are different meanings of the word "faith" and you evidently understand the meaning John is using, so what is the problem?Instead of complaining about the language which sounds like a red herring, why not comment on the powerful message?
This conversation does not appear to have gotten very far. Perhaps the Biblical part of Biblical studies has been forgotten. Biblical means scholarly study not a swipe at a set of beliefs or an unknown three letter word. The God of TNK is known - no escape. The first statement of faith is that God saw the light and it was good. (4 words in Gen 1 somewhere) Who says it was good? Another statement of faith is in the Shema - (Deut 6:4) Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 6 words and a lifetime's meditation possible on them. This is faith working through love. Or again take Psalm 34:9 (34:8 English)O taste and see that the Lord is good. Here we are invited to test the reliability of the God with the revealed name Yhwh. What's different from science and the experimental method?
Bob Macdonald.Not exactly sure what your getting at?But the post is asking-"why did God create our minds in a contradictory fashion from what He requires"?No body can choose what they believe or dont believe!......or choose what their convinced of or not convinced of....it is not a voluntary ability.Belief can only come when a suitable amount of evidence causes the mind to accept a proposition as true.....Although it may only require the unsupported claim of your uncle, it must still be adaquate to the individual!
Shane, when I go outside on a star light night and look up at the heavens a belief in a Creator just rises up within me. It's not something I can shake either, given the fact that the evidence and arguments on both sides of the issue seem to balance themselves out.
Shane - fair enough to repeat the question - thanks. The problem with the self-contradiction is that it is self-apparent. We really are stuck. That's why the evidence of creation is as Cody notes something that just moves us. But the contradiction also tells us about our state - which is that we are self-absorbed and self-seeking - it is that turned in on ourselves state that makes faith seem impossible. But it isn't and no Bob's not your uncle :) - but do read my dust blog - you might enjoy the translation of Ecclesiastes after the style of Dr. Seuss. And I think my reading of Job answers your problem with satisfaction. You might also read T.S.Eliot The Journey of the Magi to further test the problem of 'information'.
Clare said,"...If he really wanted us to understand him, he could also have written a new and improved Bible that was in English or at least modern Hebrew that people could relate to and understand."(tongue firmly planted in cheek)He did. It's called the "Book of Mormon".
Cody said,"...when I go outside on a star light night and look up at the heavens a belief in a Creator just rises up within me."This is cleary an emotional appeal to the aesthetic of beauty, and not in any way germane to the question of whether there is or isn't a "creator".
Trust in the biblical narrative can assume many forms / or combination of forms. These range from philosophical, to existential, to historical, to scientific, or most usually some combination of all of them.These kinds of 'evidences' can be checked, and where conclusions can be drawn they are compared to other belief systems, such as the belief in an invisible pink unicorn. Ultimately what happens for a reasoned believer is that an appeal is made to an idea and it is measured for utility thereafter. The appeal of a god, be it deistic or monotheistic, ultimately has a greater weighted utility than an invisible pink unicorn. This is no different than making an appeal to the incorporeal law of supply and demand in economics. Such an incorporeal appeal to supply and demand makes better corporeal sense than basing an value based economy on something like the length of one's toenails. Neither the law of supply and demand, nor price fixing on toenail length are corporeal ideas. However, when one appeals to the idea, a more realistic utility emerges.Hence the the theist is no where near the idiot that many make him out to be.
Why did God provide our intellect with the concept of falsifiability but then create an exemption of himself to that useful method?
Bob mcdonald.Your right that the complexity and awe of the world around us had moved mankind since we could be moved by it.But this is where all religions as well as myths have stemmed from!If the bible is the actual truth of it all, then why is it so debatable, why do others religious concepts thrive right alongside it?I assume it is because one unproven and nonsubstantial answer is as good as another!Just because the stars may move us to feel there is a higher concern, that does not automatically mean one single fundamental concept alone is correct!
Shane - it seems to me we want something to be right or actually true. Perhaps that is part of the bootstrap of the software that runs in our brains - but whatever it is, I have not found satisfaction in a 'concept' or in an 'assumption' or in an insubstantial 'spirit'. There is equally no satisfaction in argument.
"Why did God provide our intellect with the concept of falsifiability but then create an exemption of himself to that useful method?"I'm not sure that I would word it quite that way because it sort of mixes all kinds of issues into one big unsorted pot. The early philosophers actually did use the concept of falsifiability in some ways through what is known as the via negativa.I think the concept of God is falsifiable, maybe in the same way the concept of love is falsifiable. Or justice maybe. There are many types of ideas that require a frame of reference to carry any meaning, so in that sense my love for my wife would never be a completely falsifiable thing until a frame of reference, or working definition of what that love is "supposed" to be has been determined. But even after that, I'm not convinced that our litmus tests would still be able to ascertain whether or not I loved her.In that sense, I suppose I am arguing that God is at the very least, a real idea. Just like supply and demand is real idea. Or for that matter, logic is a real idea. It's just in order for any idea to be at all useful, we have to turn to the idea's utility. That utility then can be confirmed or falsified to varying degrees, even if the essence of the idea cannot.But I'll be the first to admit that speaking of these things in any sort of absolute fashion is not only difficult, but most likely unwise.
David,If, for the sake of argument, we grant that God is a real idea, where does that get us? The ideas of unicorns and Superman are real as well but that's all they are. As for 'love' and 'justice', these are emotions and ideals, not things which interact with the world via miracles or prophets which exclude all major religions. I wonder if this concept of god would even qualify as deism.
David and Tyro,I suspect that if invisible pink unicorns were written about and preached about in churches for as long as Christianity has been, then they would have quite a large following as well. If Constantine had threatened to chop off the heads of those who did not believe in the unicorns and did not add the appropriate alterations to the Bible (as happened at the council of Nicia with the amendments to the Bible etc.) then the unicorn culture would have thrived.
David,Love, Justice, supply and demand etc . . . have a natural frame of reference where your utility considerations might be quantified.They can also be falsified by appealing to observed standards of behavior at a category level. We can falsify love relative to the emotions it is not and behavior activated by that emotion. Your utility model would come in nicely there.God is an invisible concept and does not demonstrably interact in the natural world. There is no frame of reference for a singular omni-being thus, he cannot be falsified.If God is the creator of all then he created the excellent and parsimonious process known as scientific falsifiability yet, he exempted himself by definition from this truth standard. It seems silly that a loving creator who wants to know his creation would leave himself outside of a process he has provided which engenders confidence regarding truth claims.Or, god is a pre-scientific concept invented by humans to rationalize the randomness of life.He isn't real.
Tyro,Again, ideas are measured by their utility. I'm certain that there probably isn't an economy in which a product's value is based on toenail length. Why? Because that idea is of little use to us. That's why there haven't been established doctrines of the invisible pink unicorn circulating for thousands of years. It is an idea without utility. If it had utility, it would be handled much differently -- just as the law of supply and demand is handled differently with regard to cultural economy.To equate all incorporeal ideas is absurdity, because clearly human beings sort through ideas and form heirarchies of ideas based on their usefulness.Chuck, Saying that the idea of God doesn't interact with the world is akin to saying that the law of supply and demand doesn't interact. We know the economy is real, because of corporeal evidences which evolve around the incorporeal nature of exchanging goods. We even know that categorically untrue items, such as moods, rumors or gossip, and emotions like fear can ultimately impact the perceived value of a thing. The way in which people behave corporeally reveals something about the utility of the incorporeal thing in question. Hence, your willingness to ascribe a set of definitions to determine the reality of love, but subsequently reject any set of definitions to determine the reality of God strikes me as having your cake and eating it too.Logically, if we are to accept any incorporeal thing, we have to set up litmus tests to determine utility. Otherwise we might as well all set Walmart's prices based on toenail length. That we are willing to treat some incorporeal ideas in this manner, while outright rejecting others, is tell-tale of at least one observable utility of the Christian tradition: human stubborn-ness.You say that the idea exists to counter randomness. That's a great starting point, and a valid human utility.But alas, I've already spent too much time here for one day.
David,You equivocate when you choose to argue by anology to supply and demand with God. Economics has meaning because we can estimate value with scarcity. It can be observed. Guns and butter are traded off when finite supplies are observed. Your God cannot be observed and is infinite. Nothing exists in comparison to him to estimate his value. A market economy moves towards placing value on things that maximize utility through observed marginal cost. All of which is weighed by comparing similar variables within a given feasible space. What do we compare to god to consider his "realness"? He is unique and therefore can't be compared.I don't see how the determination of value within a market economy has anything in common with an infinite omni-being.I can appreciate your Jamesian pragmatism but, your ideology empowers any idea as real as long as it provides end-user utility. By that estimation you can't evaluate your god concept as any more valuable than a competing god concept. There is not marginal cost curve to estimate the value of god because there are no limitations on his substance.
To equate all incorporeal ideas is absurdity, because clearly human beings sort through ideas and form heirarchies of ideas based on their usefulness.I can't help but notice that you focus on utility rather than correspondence to reality. Why is that?I'm still not sure what you're saying and it still seems very far removed from what people believe. Even deists believe that there is an actual being who exists and created the universe. It sounds like you've gone further and are saying that God could be a useful lie but because it's useful, you will support it.It all seems very abstract and detached from practising believers on the one hand and reality on the other.
David Allred said... "That's why there haven't been established doctrines of the invisible pink unicorn circulating for thousands of years. It is an idea without utility. If it had utility, it would be handled much differently -- just as the law of supply and demand is handled differently with regard to cultural economy."Yes these beliefs lacked utility.They just didnt meet the law of supply and demand .If faith in Unicorns involved handling matters of death and/or fear things might have been different.Unicorns also lacked the saviour hero statice that has helped keep kids faith in hero`s like superman/batman/father christmas alive for so many years.Unicorns also lacked the fear factor that even belief of ghosts, monsters and goblins managed to posess.Humans having trouble disproving a negative hasnt really helped with matters of faith.While most sailors no longer have any faithful fear they could drop off the edge of a a flat earth.Many people still wont dare walk under a ladder! or step on a crack!, and lots of folk still keep good luck charms as their hero`s, some even adhere quite strictly to the crystal rock healing faiths.
David Allred.Comparing supply and demand which to the reality of God is off base.No body claims supply and demand is a living being!Its just an obsevable process like Chuck has said.What your trying to say is that God is at work behind the scenes in this eveyday world doing what He does.But your anology here can be adopted for the use of any and all religious beliefs....how does this gain any weight for christianity?
Shane,All journeys begin with a first step, I've only described what mine was and that was coming to the realization that God was indeed real -- at bear minimum, a real idea. As a raging agnostic in my 20's I had to decide why the idea of God was more offensive to me than the idea of economy.Both ideas are based on power -- and throughout human history, both ideas have been used to help and to harm humanity. That I was willing to carry around a $5 dollar bill and employ its incorporeal state to bring things I wanted or even needed to my existential being, then I had to ask why I would not do the same with the idea of a deity.My journey simply started there, it by no means ended there. I used reason, logic, and evidence all the up to their point of usefulness and where they were not useful, I had no misgivings about looking to incorporeal states of being -- provided such had a functional utility and a consistent metaphysic that I found beneficial.Utility trumps essense. Always, every time. The essense of a thing is of no account if it has no utility. This is the basis of both science and religion, apart from utility we would do neither -- or at least we would do neither very well.
Tyro,Religion is no more detached from reality than my bank or credit union. Both are the empirical containers of a set of ideals that we either deem functional, or dysfunctional.I fully accept that some find the idea of deity to be dsyfunctional. This was Neitzsche's argument, and the logic is sound whether or not I agree with his conclusions. With regards to the original question, I'm merely saying that if Christianity is true, what must be the case is that it has human utility.A scalpel in the hands of a surgeon is a great thing. But put the same instrument in the hands of a madman and it isn't. Nothing about the corporeal reality of the scapel changed. But its utility certainly did. I find this to be true with money, politics, law, religion, or any other thing that requires us to codify its proper use.To zero in on religion and say it isn't true, means that we could say the same things of liberty, or love, or the free market. And we often do, so zealots appear on both sides of the issue (tea party anyone?) and attempt to make their case in absolute terms. This seems like an unhealthy exercise for both the theist and the atheist, when we could at least settle on some bear minimums that focus on the falsifiablity of a thing's utility.
There is a bear minimum on falsifiability and willing oneself to believe is not it.
David Allred.So in other words, once you could no longer apply reason and logic to your belief in God, you abondoned them to keep believing?Also, just because there may be some observable utility in religion, that does not mean it has any supernatural hand guiding it a long.
"So in other words, once you could no longer apply reason and logic to your belief in God, you abondoned them to keep believing?Also, just because there may be some observable utility in religion, that does not mean it has any supernatural hand guiding it a long."Shane, On the first paragraph, not exactly. It's funny you should mention this because I was reading Heidegger this morning on form and substance. The section I was reading had to do with a cinder block and a shoe. Of course their essense is a bit different -- we can look at so many different reasons to categorize them differently, but we don't so much do this from the logic of their essense as we do their logic and reason of their utility. In other words, while we could spend an endless amount of mental exercise examining the different shapes, textures, and composition of the two items, we're really better off considering them by what they are good for. To do that we infer out of their essense toward a form that suits what we need done at a particular time.I am more than willing to admit cinder blocks and shoes are easier things to categorize than grace, or love, or maybe even logic itself (and logic has no essense, only a form, you do realize this, right?).The point is really more simple than many want to accept. When we are dealing with anything in the material world, we go to the essence of thing but ultimately end up at the utility of it to ascribe any kind of meaning at all.My shoe has meaning because I wear it, and I wear my shoe because whatever the essense of "shoe" really is I find to be extremely useful. In the tropics walking on hot sand, this "shoe" might be a bunch of wrapped bananna leaves. In the states, it might be alligator skin. Doesn't matter. We always come back to the question -- What does it DO ?That I would be willing to do this with a shoe, and not with the concept of justice, or hatred, or God means that I would be moving away from reason and logic not toward it.So you don't find the concept of God useful in anyway. Good for you. I don't find bananna leaves and alligator skin to be useful to hiking in the Smokey Mountains where I live.Seems logical enough for me. As for supernatural hands guiding things along, or worse still, my verison of a supernatural being guiding things along, then there's no proof. It's an essense you'll never grasp, any more than you'll grasp the reason that wadded green thing in your wallet is worth Big Mac meal.You either accept it and make it work for you, or you pocket your piece of imprinted green paper and walk away.
David said,"...With regards to the original question, I'm merely saying that if Christianity is true, what must be the case is that it has human utility."But the reverse argument, that if Christianity has utility, then it is true, does not follow.
And by the way, it's "bare" minimum, not "bear" minimum.Once is a typo, twice is intent.
The green thing has essence and form. It is a substitute for the level of scarcity that the thing it is traded for approximates. Your god concept has no such observable standard for value outside of your perceived utility. God's reality in your description is a post hoc error or solipsism. Again, your analogy to currency indicates a poor understanding of economics. Put down the Heidegger and pick up a book on currency valuation.
I'm reminded of the debates over homeopathy where proponents swear up and down that it heals them and they've seen it heal others yet in all well-controlled studies it has no effect. With theology there are even some atheists who, despite leading a good life without a god belief, say that belief makes people's lives better. I say 'balderdash'. Beyond the shrill insistence of the faithful, where's the evidence? Secular countries aren't merely limping along but exceed the quality of life by all measurements.Even by this bizarre standard of utility, God fails.
Chuck,By all means lets look at valuation. We start with a great rationalist, John Stuart Mill's "Essay on Political Economy."Tyro,In spite of not listing any of these so called measurements, we'd first have to agree on what measurements truly represented utility with regard to the concept of God. But other than that, kudos for finally getting around to the beginning of a reasoned argument.
Or how about you take the time to understand how the Federal Reserve monitors the money supply to determine valuation. Your comparison in terms of utility between measurable inflation based on scarce resources and an imaginary relationship with a mythic figure is comical. Your appeal to Mill is doubly so (and pretentious to boot). Name dropping philosophers will not make your foul analogy fresh.
The only thing foul about my comparison Chuck is that you don't like it. Economy just doesn't fit your paradigm very neatly and yet you still give it your allegiance, in spite of the fact that it is in its essence an incorporeal reality that give adherence to. You can point to valuation all you want, but value is not simply a matter of supply and demand (an incorporeal rule also btw). Value can come down to social construction, emotional moods, or even something as crazy as a fad or a whim. (Elmo dolls anyone?)You can point all you want to the tangibles -- like the tangible nature of your apartment -- but no matter how you twist it, that little thing you call "rent" is not tangible. We'd be hard pressed to say that its even real. It exists only because we put our trust in what it claims to be. The fact that we pay it proves it -- we become the evidence we need. And if we all stop paying our rent together because we don't "believe" that its fair, then a new modality, or value, emerges. (Housing bubble steps front and center for examination.)I'll save you the trouble of having to fully examine Mill's argument and send you straight to his conclusions (which by the way I don't accept):http://www.econlib.org/library/Mill/mlUQP5.html#Essay V. On the Definition of Political Economy.
DavidYou now prove you don't understand how the housing bubble was tied to the global money supply do you.Stick to religion, it is obvious you don't know how currencies work.It's your analogy David that the imaginary basis of infinite beings is somehow consonant with making decisions in the face of scarcity (economics).
Having read all pf David's posts in this thread, it occurs to me that he's really only arguing in favor of the utility of the IDEA of god.OK, granted. The idea has utility.This says nothing of how we get from there to an extant God.
EdI granted him the attractiveness of a Jamesian pragmatism but his continued tortured analogies (highlighting his complete ignorance of market behavior) became annoying.
Another obvious problem with his economics analogy is that the paper monety we all use only has value because we all agree that it does.Not everuyone agrees on the question of God, so it's a poor analogy on that count as well.
Sorry about the typos- I'm typing in the dark...
Gear,Actually, not everyone believes in paper money, and many don't place the same value on the American dollar. But you're right enough of us believe in it to make it work, and that is precisely the point I'm making. With the economy, we become our own evidence via our behaviors.
We believe in currencies based on their volume tied to many measurable multiples (e.g. GDP) and observable qualitative features (e.g. Rule of Law). It is an empirical process deliberated by evidence. It is not akin at all to your will to believe in ancient superstitious control beliefs. Again David take a basic economics course okay because those of us who understand the reality of your illustrations find your analogy stupid.
Chuck,Let me tell you what stupid would be. Trying to prove the existence of God by the number of people going to church, or the presence of religious symbols. Sitting here and telling me the incorporeal nature of the economy is real because people have banks, would be akin to me telling you that God is real because people go to church.It's exactly the same argument. You point to tangible participation in the intangible as evidence. If you want to play by those rules, then...
No DavidOnce again you don't understand the real basis for your analogy. You've been seeking out an argument for Jamesian pragmatic belief by making an analagous comparison between supply and demand and credulous belief in god. Supply and demand can be measured and predicted but god not so much. You don't understand economics so stop playing with those ideas as if you do. I'm sure it works great for your congregants but unfortunately you misrepresent the principles involved. It's another shitty analogy in a series of them you've made here.
Chuck,I think it's time for you to prove it.Prove the economy is real.You can use whatever steps you want, or just link me someplace. I mean, you obviously understand it, and obviously understand better than the greatest rationalist to have ever lived in J.S. Mill. So I can only assume that you've beat that crusty old guy at his own game.It's really a simple request. Prove to me that economy is real and that I should believe in it for any other reason than what it does (i.e. it's utility)
DavidGDP, money supply, rule of lawWhat else do you want? I said economies can be measured as to the nature of their value which is done by more than the will to believe. Why is the US economy a better bet than the Republic of Myanmar? Because we operate by the rule of law incorporated in the US Constitution and legal precedent supporting that document and not by military junta. Those are brute facts one can calculate a utility curve by. Choosing a god concept and deigning utility from it is an arbitrary consideration predicated on emotionalism, solipsism and wishful thinking. It is easily manipulated by the whims of the believer - not so the economy.
"Prove the economy is real." Darn. And here we were afraid that someone would commit an imbecilic reification fallacy.I think this one nails it on the head. Christianity reduces salvation to a game -- and worse yet, to a game which favors either the dishonest or the credulous.
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