Faith in atheism
I apologize for being “nasty” last time, I think frustration was setting in. Anyway I’ve tried cheering up the mood by being a little more “smart” and funny hope you like it.
“we can have either an infinite stretch of time or cause always preceding effect, but not both” So what is time? Isn’t it being able to tell that something has changed? I really don’t think time is a physical thing. Our bodies’ age but “time” doesn’t age our bodies. Does time age I don’t think so. I also disagree that it is more reasonable to say that infinity is any easier to understand than the eternal. The eternal I believe we said existed, right? This is what time is measured against right? Since time is always changing we can only see something changing in contrast with something that is not changing, doesn’t that make sense.
“It is also possible (I’d say likely) that we do not have a complete knowledge of the physics of time and that other completely natural options exist.” I would also agree that other completely natural options exist such as God since he created time, nature, and our mind he must then be natural. It could be said that He is so natural that this makes Him supernatural. (I’ll explain this below when I talk about the your natural) It could even be said that our knowledge is so small on this topic that we have yet to begin to discover what the eternal dimension will look like.
I think the supernatural can be proven by the mere fact that we exist and can talk. Our minds, whether or not you agree, truly is something out of place with nature. “then the razor would prefer the Greek gods to God” Very well but both are supernatural.
“You say that it can be assumed that the creation of the universe was supernatural. I don’t see why?” I don’t see why not.
“God is completely outside of the science of biology” I agree but the evolutionary theory is part of pop science. This theory is not biology, at least that’s what I think. But any way you put it this theory has had a major influence on the social sciences. Thinking that God is just a weird state we seek. Since we’re here you mentioned that you’ve read 1000 books or so, what makes you this interested on this topic? Maybe it is God given, at least that is what I would suggest; don’t bother asking what the social sciences will say.
Any evidence for macro evolution will do and any evidence that our minds have evolved will also do. Evidence for macro evolution will be hard to find because monsters don’t exist. Let me explain, in macro evolution there is no evidence that birds developed nubs before they developed wings. In fact the whole “only the strongest survive” is self defeating, meaning that this would not allow a slow natural adjustment to occur. If a bird had nubs that were of no use why would it survive to the point that it grew wings, this truly doesn’t make sense. Not to mention we have no fossil evidence of these malformed creatures that couldn’t survive. Neither do we have any fossil evidence that we slowly developed feet or toes or necks or eyes. And neither is there any evidence of these monsters that were trying to evolve wings or beaks or one eye but just didn’t work. But most biologists take this as fact. Well I heard once that true scientist don’t like to use the word fact or law and that is why they call it a “scientific law” like the scientific law of gravity. But in this instance they jump on this like it were true. I think they do it to get attention I truly do, if they stand up for something controversial they will be noticed. But further investigation will show them that there is no evidence for this type of evolutionary theory, and in fact this theory isn’t even a good hypothesis because you can’t even test it and there is no evidence to support it.
“(By the way, didn’t you say you were Catholic or leaning toward Catholicism? The Catholic church is pretty happy with evolution.)” Yes I’m leaning towards Catholicism but I don’t agree with evolution and if the Church does that’s just another one of their mistakes. To love something means you’re willing to change it or make it beautiful again you don’t just abandon it.
“soul, which I don’t think exists” psychology has the root word psyche which in Greek means soul this is what the original term was used for. Now people only think that the mind exists, though i have a hard time finding my mind half the time.
• I use “meaning” to refer to the purpose you wish your life to serve.
So everyone has meaning and purpose?
• Because a life without purpose would feel pointless to me, and I would not find that satisfying.
Life I believe is pointless either way what’s wrong with that, but why is the satisfying part so important?
• A valid moral system is (at minimum) a moral system that does not contradict itself and that is based on reasoning that is valid no matter who conducts it.
I agree with you on this, now does Christianity not fit this moral system?
• Are you asking if we can rank different types of meaning — “feed the poor” is better than “be happy,” etc.?
Is there some unqualifiedly better than others, if so why?
Major in the majors minor in the minors. “I asked what you would do if someone ordered you at gunpoint to believe that you are a bicycle.” Well I couldn’t do that because I don’t know what believing that I’m a bicycle would mean, but I know what your saying I could say I’m a bike but not mean it. But I would find this quite strange, if a person was serious I would assume they’re crazy and go along so that I wouldn’t die for no reason or at least not a stupid reason. Back to you if someone asked you whether you were Christian at gunpoint would you say yes to save your life or would you admit that your atheist and die for it. (many people have died to defend their paganism, ex. Holy Roman Empire) For some reason I’d think you’d say your Christian well so would I but in contrast I would die for my beliefs because I hold them to be true.
“It’s true that courage is a virtue, but I don’t think it’s a moral requirement.” I beg to differ what is the point of saying it is a virtue but not needed. All virtues interlock with one another and are all needed. There is no point in just having one of the virtues.
“I would find it very hard to tell a parent that they need to defend their beliefs (as opposed to avoiding the subject, for example) when doing so could leave their child shunned or beaten, and I would find it even harder to tell such a parent that it’s not those who are threatening harm that are to blame” Of course they are to blame for the harm if they do any but they are not to blame for someone not standing up for themselves. If you truly believe something to be true you would go to great lengths in defending what you believe is right, even if it means putting yourself or others in harm. Harm of course is bad but that shouldn’t change ones beliefs.
“I can see good arguments for either position, but am wondering what you would do.”
If I knew I was going to have my child take a beating I would be there for her. People that go through tough times usually become tough people, if they make it through. Jesus died on the cross for a reason and if the story is true (which i believe it to be) His father knew it would happen. I believe that this shows that life isn’t all there is, there are greater things than just ourselves.
As for time I really don’t think it has a physical existence and I believe you’re twisting the definition to fit your point. “Time is a dimension of space-time” I can’t grab it, which is the way I think the definition is supposed to be used. But for your sake time is \”physical\” what ever that means now. Well so is God, he exists in a weird dimension where He Is. But like I’ve said before I don’t have any “physical\” evidence of his existence, so this does us no good. But you insist on going down this road what else can I say. Also using this definition he would have to be considered natural now that I think about it since He exists both really and physically.
“I’d say that the brain is just a computing machine that we consider mysterious because we don’t completely understand it.” This is interesting you say that the mind is like a machine. Hmmm, almost like a very intelligent being might have created it just like we create machines, right. You admit that the brain resembles some sort of human design. God made us in his image, so He creates things in his image and we create things in our image such as computing machines. I’m sure this isn’t what you meant though.
“I disagree that all people, in general, want knowledge.” Well, I disagree with you. I assume you have children (if not I’m sorry for assuming). I have a daughter and I have plenty of nieces and nephews that are always asking questions in fact I would say that most kids are this way, very curious. Now as they grow older and lose this curiosity that to me seems to appear in us by nature seems almost unnatural. My point being that we all generally have a desire, a curious desire for knowledge when we start out. And some of us stay this way by choice or some of us get involed in other pointless things.
“The default position is that the unproven is to be treated as untrue until further evidence comes to light. Even when an issue seems settled, I think it’s worth examining new evidence.” This is a lot more clear thanks for clearing it up, I agree.
“That knowledge comes from thinking does not mean that it is not also a function of the brain” I also agree here in a way. It doesn’t sound like knowledge is function the way you mean it because many people who have brains use it to convince themselves that they can’t know anything (Skeptics for example, not you though because I don’t know why). I agree in this sense though, for example look what Bruce Lee says about knowing, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply.” Knowing is meant to be applied. Just like Aristotle would say.
“I hold that thought being supernatural is what needs to be proven here, not that thought is natural.” I don’t think so you’re the one saying that it is natural you have to present the reason why your claiming this.
“All of this is evidence that thinking is a function of the brain.” I completely agree that thinking is a function of the brain, though this doesn’t show how knowing is a function. Also just because it is a function doesn\’t make it natural, can we see a thought physically no, we can see electric impulses though that much is true. That they cary information that much i believe is also true. One problem electric impulses are not thoughts they are electric impulses. When I think I call it thinking I don’t call thinking electric magnetic impulses colliding through my brain, but I suppose you do.
“To be more precise, knowledge is having a thought that agrees with truth. A thought is a state of the brain and therefore not supernatural” Now thought is a state of the brain I thought it was a function. Oh well, to be even more precise knowledge is to comprehend the truth, and therefore even more so now then before supernatural. Let me explain we are the only animals that can comprehend the truth so this if not supernatural has to be extraordinary.
“You’re saying that I am not as clear as a book you haven’t even finished reading?” Yes.
“For example, it’s easier to tell a story about how a supernatural being created all the world’s languages than to explain how languages evolve” No, it is impossible to see how language “evolved” or how the world was created. There are things in this world that will never be explained and to try doing so is fruitless. To try to grasp an understanding of the world around us for practical purposes is reasonable.
“God did it” isn’t a rigorous explanation for where our universe came from” Neither is the Big Bang, not to mention the evolutionary theory. Just because something goes slow doesn’t mean it rigorously explains anything.
“You continue by saying that so far as the Bible explains things that are important, it does so more rigorously than I do” Yes it does here is an example. Love the Lord above all things. Well why you might ask? Here is a rigorous explanation (at least I take it to be), because He is the way, He is the law, He is the good, He is justice, He is your neighbor, He is the truth, He is all that is naturally good and right. Well if we love the Lord it seems like we’re under some sort of governmental system with rules and regulations. That is kind of strange isn’t it and the whole reason that the social sciences exist is to try explaining why things are supposed to be this way or how they came about this way, wait I know because they are right, they are good, and only such things will persevere. See the simplest concept of all is that people should love the good because it is the good, and this is what the Bible preaches Love God not because you’re forced but because he is the good. CS Lewis says something about God being more natural to us than ourselves. I think he’s right that our corrupt passions are unnatural and to strive for what is good is natural. To illustrate that point think about societies, if they follow this simple concept they will manage to survive with out blowing themselves up. Back to the social sciences I wonder why they care what others think and why they think in such ways. What is most important is what I myself think and why I think it, at least these things I can come to know. But it is easier to judge others as these social sciences are doing. But never mention to them to take the plank out of their eyes because they are the enlightened ones right.
“Whether or not I ultimately can be convinced cannot be decided by me” Everyone makes choices whether they decide to make them or not. Not making a choice is the worst choice a person can make.
“If a skeptic is someone who routinely doubts the validity of things that are stated as factual, then I’m a skeptic” Skeptics don’t routinely doubt, they doubt that the sky is blue (as you’ve done) and that the earth is real and that them themselves exist. Are you a skeptic I don’t really know but I do know that true skepticism goes nowhere.
“I prefer being a skeptic in this sense to taking stated facts at face value.”
Evolution is something I believe you take at face value. If you’re really unbiased and doubt your own beliefs you’ll see that evolution is not really explained. Then again this isn’t your belief you just find it more likely than God because it is a naturalistic explanation that explains that things happen very slowly.
This is a very good point, “I understand you have objections, but why don’t you just believe.” Chesterton, when asked about why he is Catholic he responds by saying that for the same reasons the smartest agnostic is agnostic.
“You seemingly imply that the truth is more compelling than evidence.” I think truth is evidence.
“You ask for evidence that the Gospels are unreliable. Well, they’re apparently written to make a point rather than just to relay history, and this introduces the possibility of significant bias” Well they are written to make a point the point is that the history is true.
If you can further explain this I’d appreciate this, “misreading or bad translations of Hebrew (e.g., Matthew 21:5). I think that’s a good start.” I need to know what your talking in reference to in the Old Testament since I’m not too familiar with it (weird huh me asking you for more information on the bible). And also I’ll need help from a pastor to help with the Hebrew translations so this might take a while to get back to you on.
I really am impressed that you care so much. Most people in this world don’t think their just sheep as Aristotle and Plato say, truly slaves to their desires. I again apologize for the “nasty” remarks last time and I hope the humor is a little easier on you.
Time is a tough nut to deal with, I’m sure you will agree. Let’s see what I can do here:
- “So what is time? Isn’t it being able to tell that something has changed?” I wouldn’t say so, because even if nothing changed time would still pass. Time is a dimension of space time that we experience as a sequence of moments, but I hasten to point out that people in different frames of reference may experience time differently.
- “I really don’t think time is a physical thing.” Time acts like a physical thing. For example, it can be warped by gravity. This is why the mathematics of space-time works.
- “Our bodies’ age but ‘time’ doesn’t age our bodies.” I agree, in the same sense that the Y axis doesn’t cause height.
- “I also disagree that it is more reasonable to say that infinity is any easier to understand than the eternal. The eternal I believe we said existed, right? This is what time is measured against right?” I think we need to back up on this one a bit and make sure we’re on the same page. So far as I’m concerned, “eternal” is a measure of time — they’re not separate things. How would you define it?
- “Since time is always changing we can only see something changing in contrast with something that is not changing, doesn’t that make sense.” I disagree. If I have a digital counter that shows a number which increases by one every second, I don’t need an unchanging counter to contrast it with.
You say, “I would also agree that other completely natural options exist such as God since he created time, nature, and our mind he must then be natural.” I’ll wait to see your argument about natural, but I don’t see how a natural thing can exist without time.
You say, “Our minds, whether or not you agree, truly is something out of place with nature.” We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one, I guess. I don’t see anything about the human mind that seems to be incongruous with nature.
You make a good point: “‘then the razor would prefer the Greek gods to God’ Very well but both are supernatural.” As you indicate, given two supernatural choices, Occam’s razor can be used to select the preferable one. I think this is important because it shows that Occam does not automatically rule out the supernatural.
You say you don’t see why it can’t be assumed that the creation of the universe was supernatural. I’d say that we don’t know enough about the subject to make such an assumption. Decades ago when there really was no conceivable theory for a natural origin of the universe, I think it was definitely reasonable to assume a supernatural origin, but that is no longer the case.
You say that you agree that God is outside the science of biology, “but the evolutionary theory is part of pop science.” I don’t understand what you mean by “pop science” here. If evolution is wrong, then all of biology is wrong. Evolution is not a little theory touted by a few high-visibility scientists, but a widely accepted one, supported by evidence from many scientific fields.
It’s true that the theory of evolution has had an influence on the social sciences, just as it has on politics and other areas outside its domain. But I think it’s important to remember that this has no impact on whether or not evolution is true any more than abuses of scripture impact whether or not the Bible is true.
You ask why I am so interested in religion (in Judeo-Christianity in particular). I started out as a Christian wanting to know all about God since, let’s face it, if God exists that pretty much the most important thing in the world. Then I discovered that there were many kinds of Christianity and I set out to find which one was correct. That lead me to read about other religions, just to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time on the wrong one. After I realized that no religion was convincing to me, I continued learning about the subject for four reasons — the history of religious development is interesting, the more I learn about religion the more I understand human nature, and I find those religious people who seem to exhibit cognitive dissonance fascinating, and I am very interested in systems of ethics and morals. (As an aside, I said I have 100 books on the topic in my home — not 1,000.)
Let’s talk about evolution for a few minutes.
You say that any evidence for macro evolution will do and that it’s “hard to find because monsters don’t exist.” You then go on to talk about birds with half-developed wings, etc. It’s true that “monsters” of this type don’t exist, but fortunately evolution doesn’t require the existence of any such thing. Similar, it doesn’t matter if “only the strongest survive” is self defeating or not, since this isn’t what evolution requires.
As a species evolves, there are not “weak” or “monstrous” stages, hoping that they will one day evolve into something strong. Rather, there is a series of perfectly well adapted creatures that change over time in reaction to their environment, mutation, etc. The evolution of birds is still being researched, but nobody proposes that at some point birds had useless nubs that would one day evolve into wings.
If you have a chance, look into the evolution of cetaceans. There’s a pretty darned good series of fossils showing the evolution from a land animal to a whale, including the migrating of the nostrils across the face to the top of the head. It’s amazing stuff.
I’d say that the reason that most scientists treat evolution as true is not to get attention, but because there is a massive pile of evidence supporting it, and more evidence is found every day. Pro-evolution scientists don’t have their stance to “stand up for something controversial,” because it frankly isn’t controversial.
You are incorrect when you say that evolutionary theory cannot be tested. This is getting pretty far from our original topic, but we can go into that in more detail if you like.
I understand that you lean toward Catholicism but disagree with the Church’s stance on evolution. I don’t have a problem with that. But can you tell me, in a nutshell, what your beliefs are concerning the origin of life on Earth (the age of the earth, when dinosaurs existed, whether new species appear — that kind of thing, etc.)? This will help me understand where you are coming from.
Regarding meaning and purpose, you ask whether I mean that everyone has both meaning and purpose. I would say that a purpose gives your life meaning. They are not separate things. I may have been unclear before.
“Life I believe is pointless either way what’s wrong with that, but why is the satisfying part so important?” The satisfying part is important to me. I don’t intend this as a universal rule. I think that how one goes about giving their life meaning is a completely personal choice. You can believe that life is pointless if you want. That can be philosophically consistent. The only “meanings” in this sense that I would say may be worse than others are those that do not fit into a valid moral system (to take an obvious example, “killing all the Jews” is not a morally valid way to give your life meaning).
You ask whether or not Christianity fits my minimum criteria for a moral system. The formal morality and ethics of those forms of Christianity and Judaism I have investigated do indeed fit these criteria (with a few sad exceptions). If members of these religions all really followed the morality their religion teaches, the world would be a much better place.
You ask, “if someone asked you whether you were Christian at gunpoint would you say yes to save your life or would you admit that your atheist and die for it.” I like your answer about the bicycle, so I’m going to blatantly steal it. If someone is going to kill me for not being a Christian, I think it’s safe to assume that they’re nuts, and dying to defend the truth in the face of insanity is, as you point out, stupid.
You continue, “in contrast I would die for my beliefs because I hold them to be true.” Isn’t there more to it than just truth? For example, I assume you would deny that your mother is your parent in order to save your life. Why would you not deny God for the same reason?
You say, “I beg to differ what is the point of saying it is a virtue but not needed. All virtues interlock with one another and are all needed.” It is a virtue to run into a burning building to save a trapped person, but it is not morally required that you do so.
As we continue the discussion of who is to blame in these situations, please keep in mind that I am talking about atheists who live closeted lives (avoiding the subject of religion) to avoid persecution as opposed to atheists who lie about believing in religion. I agree with you that one should not casually lie about their core philosophy.
Moving on, you say, “If you truly believe something to be true you would go to great lengths in defending what you believe is right, even if it means putting yourself or others in harm.” I think this is largely true for one’s self (since that’s largely a moral decision), but once others are involved it’s a matter of ethics, and I think that can be very different. You say you would not deny your beliefs with a gun to your head, and I agree this is laudable. Now what if the gun were pointed out the window and a passing stranger was going to be shot every time you refused to deny God? (And for the sake of argument, let’s ignore the “I can lie because he’s crazy” defense.) I’d say this is a very different situation.
As an aside, I’d assume that God wouldn’t want someone to keep Kosher if doing so would mean they would starve to death, or demand that they stay where they are in face of persecution.
I think I understand what you mean about Jesus dying on the cross in the context of a parent letting a child go through tough times, but I don’t know if it’s a good example for two reasons. First, because if Jesus and God are in a sense the same person, the analogy becomes ambiguous. And second, because God wanted Jesus to be sacrificed in the name of justice, not to defend his beliefs.
A better example might be when Herod set out to kill infant Jesus. In that context, Jesus’ parents left the country rather than stay and defend their beliefs. I don’t blame them for doing so.
Getting back to time, you say that if time is physical then God is also physical, existing in “a weird dimension where He is.” Let’s try to sort this out a bit without getting into space-time (which I agree is a funky concept — I had to read quite a bit about it myself before being convinced it made any sense). If God exists in some dimension we can’t see (I have no problem with there possibly being dimensions we can’t see), then he is a physical being and natural, even if he is outside our universe. I’m with you there.
But if a dimension exists outside our universe, where did it come from? God couldn’t have created it since we are positing that God is within it. If it’s always been there, then we’re agreeing that there is at least one dimension that has existed whenever God had existed, and I would say that if we are assuming a dimension has always existed, why not remove God from the picture and consider that some unthinking process within that dimension may have created our universe.
On to my comparison of the brain and a computing machine. You are correct that I wasn’t trying to imply that the brain is like a computer and therefore has a creator. That would be silly.
I agree with you that people are curious, but we are defining “knowledge” as referring to what is true. I think that, no matter how curious they are, many people really don’t want to know the truth about certain subjects. I have met people who vehemently don’t want to discuss whether God exists because they need to know that God exists in order to feel good about life. These people don’t want to know the truth; they want to believe that God exists, whether or not it is true.
I say that thought being supernatural is what needs to be proven, and you respond, “I don’t think so you’re the one saying that it is natural you have to present the reason why your claiming this.” Since natural things exist, I hold that things should be considered natural until there is reason to believe otherwise. Even so, I think it’s reasonable to assume that thought is natural because there is no reason to think it can’t be sufficiently explained by natural processes, and the more we learn about the brain the more we can identify specific natural processes involved in thought.
You agree that thinking is a function of the brain, but say that this doesn’t show that knowing is a brain function. I don’t see any reason to draw a distinction; both are brain functions (for example, brain damage can remove knowledge).
You say that thinking being a function of the brain doesn’t make thinking natural, and that seeing an electrical impulse isn’t the same as seeing a thought. I’d say that the latter point is true in the sense that seeing a molecule of ink isn’t the same as seeing a book. But the sum being greater than the parts does not, to me, imply the need for any supernatural explanation.
In our discussion of knowledge, you say, “Now thought is a state of the brain I thought it was a function.” It sounds like you’re trying to sarcastically point out a contradiction in what I am saying. To clarify: thinking is a function of the brain. A thought is a piece of information stored in a brain state. One of the functions of the brain is maintaining these states. These definitions don’t seem to have any significant bearing on the conversation, but if it helps we can get as specific as we need to.
We next talked about how it is easier to tell a story than to find a true explanation, and I brought up the evolution of language. You say, “No, it is impossible to see how language ‘evolved’ or how the world was created.” I was referring to languages evolving over time (German, English, and French coming from common roots, Greek changing over the centuries, etc.), and I’m hoping that you simply misunderstood. It is, it seems to me, incredibly easy to show that languages evolve in this way. My point was that the Bible’s story about why there are so many languages in the world is much simpler to understand than the truth that languages change over time, but that doesn’t make the Bible’s story preferable or even (from my perspective) remotely possibly true.
You say, “There are things in this world that will never be explained and to try doing so is fruitless.” I agree that there are likely things that will never be fully explained, but how do we know what those things are unless we try to explain them and see if the explanations work?
Regarding my statement that “God did it” isn’t a rigorous explanation for the universe’s origin, you reply, “Neither is the Big Bang, not to mention the evolutionary theory.” I agree that both the Big Bang and evolution are not rigorous — that is why science has room to progress. But I would say that both are more rigorous than “God did it” because invoking God does nothing but replace something you don’t understand with something else you don’t understand.
You give an example of something important that the Bible explains better than I do. You say that the Bible says God should be loved because he is the law, he is good, etc., and that social sciences try to prove the same sort of thing (“why things are supposed to be this way or how they came about this way, wait I know because they are right, they are good, and only such things will persevere.”) But the Biblical passage is about why God should be loved, and I don’t think social sciences propose that things that are right and good persevere. I think you are talking about apples and oranges here.
I will agree that the Bible gives better reasons for loving God than I could, but all of these reasons assume that God exists in the first place, so they don’t do much for me.
I will also agree that “people should love the good because it is the good” is a laudable philosophy. I don’t see as much of that as I’d like, though, and I’m not sure I’d agree that to strive for what is good is natural (particularly since people won’t agree about what “good” is in this context).
You wonder why social sciences care what other people think. I’d say that social science is concerned (in part) with how beliefs and cultures change over time. You might argue that they are trying to explain away Christianity instead of facing the reality of it, but then what do we say about non-Christian cultures? I assume you don’t think that they also are correct, and if their beliefs are false, why not examine how those beliefs developed? And what about those Christian groups that have false beliefs? Isn’t it worth trying to figure out how those developed?
I said, “Whether or not I ultimately can be convinced cannot be decided by me” and you responded “Everyone makes choices whether they decide to make them or not. Not making a choice is the worst choice a person can make.” I am incapable of choosing whether or not to be convinced. Either the evidence is compelling to me or it is not. If I could choose to be convinced or not to be convinced, then I could choose to reach conclusions regardless of the evidence for or against them. That sounds like an intellectually dangerous way to live.
You say, “Are you a skeptic I don’t really know but I do know that true skepticism goes nowhere.” I would vehemently disagree with that. Because I am a skeptic, I can feel very confident and comfortable with what I believe because I know that I have sought the truth to the best of my ability. It sounds to me like you also sought the truth and found it. Would you say that you never questioned your own beliefs, or that your quest for knowledge lead you nowhere? And once you have reached a conclusion, what does it hurt to test that conclusion — as we are testing our conclusions in this conversation? As a Christian, you must be confident that there is an answer to any challenge to Christianity, so why not find out what those answers are?
Regarding my not taking things at face value, you say, “Evolution is something I believe you take at face value. If you’re really unbiased and doubt your own beliefs you’ll see that evolution is not really explained. Then again this isn’t your belief you just find it more likely than God because it is a naturalistic explanation that explains that things happen very slowly.” You are severely misstating my position here. I think that evolution is a good explanation because I have significantly investigated it — including reading many books by creationists and proponents of intelligent design — and found it to be the best explanation available. Even though evolution is a naturalistic explanation, if it did not seem to make sense I would not prefer it to a supernatural explanation. As for preferring it because “things happen very slowly” — I don’t know why you keep bringing that up. I am actually skeptical that evolution always happens slowly, and in any case I don’t see why a slow process would be a preferable explanation to a faster one. That’s not even part of my thinking.
You say, “I think truth is evidence.” But this assumes that you know what truth is. How do you know truth without evidence?
Regarding my saying that the Gospels were written to make a point rather than to deliver history, you say, “Well they are written to make a point the point is that the history is true.” I think you are doing yourself a disservice here. If the Gospels are intended as history, then you have to explain why their chronology is not identical. If they are not strictly history, then this isn’t that big of a deal.
I referred to Matthew 21:5. Basically, Matthew says that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on two animals, apparently because he misunderstood the Hebrew tradition of emphasizing a point by repeating it in other words (the Hebrew meant one animal, but said it twice for emphasis). The other Gospels have Jesus on a single animal. If you have a chance to ask a Hebrew scholar about this, I’d be interested to hear what he/she has to say.
“I really am impressed that you care so much.” Thank you for that. I really do care, and despite the great length of our debate here, I am actually far more interested in whether people have valid moral and ethical systems than I am in whether or not they believe that God exists. I think that if we all spent a little more time thoughtfully considering our actions, the world would be a much better place.
(Once again I’m posting without proofreading. I’m going to get my self in trouble one of these days.)
In: Bible, Discussion, Evidence, Evolution, Theology