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Pascal's Wager -- a re-invitation to Alvira


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#1 maddog

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 12:51 AM

Here, Alvira has stated that she was presented in her Christian studies class at her high school, with the following statement as a reason for belief in God:

  Alvira  wrote: “As C.S. Lewis says, if God is real and you are a Christian, than you are safe. If God isn't real and you are a Christian you are still safe.”

This is a restatement of the argument popularly known as Pascal's Wager.

Looking at the formulation as stated by Alvira/C.S. Lewis, a question springs immediately to my mind:  What if God is real, but is not the Christian God?  If that's the case, and God is real, and you have "bet" that the God who exists is the Christian God, are you "safe"?

That's the first question I'd like to discuss with you, Alvira, if you would like to explore the issue of Pascal's Wager.

#528

Edited by maddog, 17 November 2011 - 01:45 AM.


#2 AlviraofDeath

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:09 AM

The previous Pascal Thread has brought some issues to mind. If there is a God, but not the Christian God, then I am screwed. Some people believe that there is a possibility that the Christian God exists, but there is no doubt in my mind about His existence.

It is hard to explain, the reason behind why I have no doubts concerning existence, but I will willing answer questions.

Like I said if there is a different God, then I am in deep shit.

#3 Peter

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 10:13 AM

View Postmaddog, on 17 November 2011 - 12:51 AM, said:

  Alvira  wrote: “As C.S. Lewis says, if God is real and you are a Christian, than you are safe. If God isn't real and you are a Christian you are still safe.”

So the existence or not of God makes no difference to how safe I am, if I am a Christian. But the value of knowing that depends on how safe being a Christian makes me compared to how safe I am if I am not a Christian. If being a Christian makes no difference to my safety, why be a Christian? If it does, why is that? Presumably, it doesn't depend on God.

#4 davidm

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:53 PM

I am trying to wrap my mind around the quite frankly preposterous idea that one would be in "deep shit" if one happened to lack a belief in a God that is supposedly morally perfect! I am all the more incredulous at this idea given that, as I pointed out in the other thread, it is highly unlikely that anyone can authentically "choose" a belief; rather, we come to believe propositions through evidence. So we are expected to believe that a morally perfect God will punish us for an eternity in hell fire (!) if we lacked a belief in his existence, even if, during our lives, we were in all ways morally upstanding!

Obviously, such a God, if it existed, would not be morally perfect, but perfectly wicked; the very epiotome of evil.

.

Edited by davidm, 17 November 2011 - 09:47 PM.

"History, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness."

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#5 davidm

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:05 PM

View Postmaddog, on 17 November 2011 - 12:51 AM, said:

Here, Alvira has stated that she was presented in her Christian studies class at her high school, with the following statement as a reason for belief in God:

  Alvira  wrote: “As C.S. Lewis says, if God is real and you are a Christian, than you are safe. If God isn't real and you are a Christian you are still safe.”

#528

Of course, the unstated implication (why unstated? Because the claim is so shameful?) needs to be spelled out: according to this diaboloical cult dogma, if God is real and you are NOT a Christian, then you are NOT safe.

Lewis's risable apologetics, of course, are fodder for ridicule outside his cult. Again, if God exists and it is like that, then such an entity would be the epitome of evil, a pure monster that makes Hitler look like Howdy Doody by comparison. And let's have no BS about how if God does it or wills it, is is good by definition; not only does this absurd claim fall victim to Euthyphro, it is a fact that when it is claimed that God is "morally perfect" or "omnibenevolent," we understand these claims in HUMAN TERMS; in terms that realate to human conceptions of morality. If we do NOT understand these claims in this sense, then it is false to characterize God as morally perfect; he would be beyond good and evil, beyond logic itself. So there is no escape: if God is beyond good and evil then he is not morally perfect (i.e., he cannot be understood in moral categories at all); if he is morally perfect (in the plain sense that humans can understand) then no morally perfect agent would burn people in hell for eternity for ANY reason.

Edited by davidm, 17 November 2011 - 03:08 PM.

"History, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness."

-- Benno von Archimboldi :twisted:

#6 Michael S. Pearl

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:53 PM

View Postdavidm, on 17 November 2011 - 03:05 PM, said:

"morally perfect" or "omnibenevolent," we understand these claims in HUMAN TERMS; in terms that realate to human conceptions of morality.

Quite right, but how do we come to these conceptions of ours? Also, are conceptions a sort of belief?

View Postdavidm, on 17 November 2011 - 02:53 PM, said:

it is highly unlikely that anyone can authentically "choose" a belief; rather, we come to believe propositions through evidence.

Since evidence is not necessarily proof, does this not leave us able to choose at least some beliefs?
Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but anti-political, perhaps the most powerful of all anti-political human forces. -Hannah Arendt

#7 maddog

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:05 PM

View PostAlviraofDeath, on 17 November 2011 - 06:09 AM, said:

The previous Pascal Thread has brought some issues to mind. If there is a God, but not the Christian God, then I am screwed. Some people believe that there is a possibility that the Christian God exists, but there is no doubt in my mind about His existence.

It is hard to explain, the reason behind why I have no doubts concerning existence, but I will willing answer questions.

Like I said if there is a different God, then I am in deep shit.

Excellent, thoughtful answer, Alvira, thank you.

All right then; you now recognize that Pascal's Wager is a poor argument, and does not provide a good reason or justification to believe in the Christian, or indeed any other, god.  In actual fact, you've now suggested that the idea of the Wager  (that believing in the Christian God makes you "safe") is not your own reason for belief, right?  You don't actually rely on that yourself, and therefore I hope you can see that, if you don't find it convincing yourself, it doesn't make much sense to proffer it as an argument to others.  (The lurking question here is, what IS the argument or evidence that convinces you?  What is the real reason for your belief? esp. since Pascal's Wager obviously isn't it.)

If we were to pursue the nature of the Wager argument further, for the purposes of this thread (i.e., examining the ideas underlying the original statement) I would ask you, "safe" from what?  What did you mean when you said you thought belief would make you "safe"?

#529

Edited by maddog, 17 November 2011 - 06:43 PM.


#8 AlviraofDeath

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:57 PM

I meant by being safe from the fiery pits of hell. I would rather not go there if you know what I mean. Not a very pleasant place. Unless you love extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment. :muahaha:

#9 maddog

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:41 PM

View PostAlviraofDeath, on 17 November 2011 - 06:57 PM, said:

I meant by being safe from the fiery pits of hell. I would rather not go there if you know what I mean. Not a very pleasant place. Unless you love extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment. :muahaha:

Thanks, that's what I thought you meant.  :)   Just making sure we are on the same page.

Of course, as we realized above, if there is a real God, and that God is not the Christian God, then believing in the Christian God does not make you "safe."

Your bet might make you safe from the Christian hell, although if the Christian God was not the real God, then the Christian hell would also not be real.  Therefore, your belief didn't "save" you from a real problem, and wasn't necessary to "save" you from that problem.  

On the other hand, if the real God is some other God, like the Muslim God, or a Hindu God, or some other God, and that other belief system also has a hell, believing in the Christian God will not save you from "extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment."  The only belief that would save you from those other hells is to believe in whichever God it is that has that particular hell.  So, if fear of hell is a genuine reason to "choose" a belief (more on the notion of "choosing" belief later, if you like), then the premise of Pascal's Wager (better to believe so you'll be "safe") is to choose the religion that has the most evil hell, the absolute worst "extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment" possible.  That you have not searched for such a worst possible hell, and chosen that belief, suggests that being "safe" from any hell is not your actual reason for your belief, am I right?

Taking the Pascal's Wager premise one step further, i.e., that being a believer makes you "safe" from hell, why is that a good reason to believe?   In my view, wanting to become a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu or any other branch of religionist for the purpose of being "safe" from hell means that you would be simply reacting to a threat.

In real life, if someone comes up and says, "Do X, or else!"  I regard that as the threat of a bully.  For example, a mafia boss goes to the owner of a tavern and says, "You buy your supplies only from our company, or else!"  How would you regard the mafia boss's ultimatum?  Would you comply or would you not comply?  If you chose to comply, how would you feel about that as a moral choice?

#530

Edited by maddog, 17 November 2011 - 08:47 PM.


#10 soleo

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 01:50 PM

AlviraofDeath said:

Like I said if there is a different God, then I am in deep shit.

This is too easy, too flipant.

I'm not convinced.

As I've written elsewhere, even if one takes themselves as some Christian-god believer, it isn't clear that they're still not in really, big time, 'deep shit', that they're really not going anywhere near heaven.

If we have a look at just a few of the rules of getting into heaven given in the Bible's gospels, it looks like an almost impossible situation.

You've got to honour your parents, but no more than you love Jesus.

You must not gossip nor partake in the pleasures of man.

You must forgive everybody of their trespasses against you.

You must feed and clothe the poor and take in the homeless, even if these homeless types are all strangers to you and that if you ignore these people, ignore these rules, you are effectively ignoring Jesus and will go to hell.

You must forsake your property, your houses, your father and mother, wife, husband, and children, for Jesus’ sake.

You must be poor, perhaps - given the time the Bible was fabricated - third world or second world poor.

You must love and do good to all those that hate you and to your enemies as well.

You must not forbid anyone to take your coat, and you mustn’t ask for your goods to be returned from the person who has taken them from you.

And on and on and on it goes, one almost impossible rule after another. It is a tragic state of affairs, only because too many people are so thoughtless, so superficial, so banal and trivial, they actually come to believe that so long as they have faith and belief they will go to heaven. What arrogance! To be a Christian, what I would consider a true Christian, must be a terrifying and core shaking experience.

The Grand Inquisitor of Dovtoevsky was on to something.

From a look at the Bible, there's an awful lot more required from one than mere belief and faith to get into the Christian-god's particular city of everlasting life and paradise.

Edited by soleo, 18 November 2011 - 01:55 PM.

...an uplifting representation of human life as a damn shame...
...only that which has no history can  be defined...

#11 Alexander Hawthorne

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 01:48 AM

View Postsoleo, on 18 November 2011 - 01:50 PM, said:

AlviraofDeath said:

Like I said if there is a different God, then I am in deep shit.

This is too easy, too flipant.

I'm not convinced.

As I've written elsewhere, even if one takes themselves as some Christian-god believer, it isn't clear that they're still not in really, big time, 'deep shit', that they're really not going anywhere near heaven.

If we have a look at just a few of the rules of getting into heaven given in the Bible's gospels, it looks like an almost impossible situation.

You've got to honour your parents, but no more than you love Jesus.

You must not gossip nor partake in the pleasures of man.

You must forgive everybody of their trespasses against you.

You must feed and clothe the poor and take in the homeless, even if these homeless types are all strangers to you and that if you ignore these people, ignore these rules, you are effectively ignoring Jesus and will go to hell.

You must forsake your property, your houses, your father and mother, wife, husband, and children, for Jesus’ sake.

You must be poor, perhaps - given the time the Bible was fabricated - third world or second world poor.

You must love and do good to all those that hate you and to your enemies as well.

You must not forbid anyone to take your coat, and you mustn’t ask for your goods to be returned from the person who has taken them from you.

And on and on and on it goes, one almost impossible rule after another. It is a tragic state of affairs, only because too many people are so thoughtless, so superficial, so banal and trivial, they actually come to believe that so long as they have faith and belief they will go to heaven. What arrogance! To be a Christian, what I would consider a true Christian, must be a terrifying and core shaking experience.

The Grand Inquisitor of Dovtoevsky was on to something.

From a look at the Bible, there's an awful lot more required from one than mere belief and faith to get into the Christian-god's particular city of everlasting life and paradise.


These commandments are imprecise. Jesus said,
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart suol mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself." THESE are the two greatest Commandments. Everything else is enveloped by these of course, but if you should fail to meet them, you aren't condemned eternally. The idea is to continually try harder and become better. It's a lifelong reformation. The ideas of being poor, or denying someone your possessions are not literal. They have to do with the condition of your heart. If it is in your power, give to those who need it. If it is in your  Within the Bible itself, James writes, " Faith without works is dead, yet works without faith are dead also." (paraphrased). There is in Christianity a balance between faith and works. Of course just DOING things isn't enough. Look at the Pharisees. They kept every Commandment in the Old Testament and were considered prime citizens. Jesus rebukes them as being self righteous, conceited, prideful, etc.  Anyway, If you want to discuss these more technical issues, meet me on my  thread here on TGL.

#12 maddog

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536

#13 AlviraofDeath

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 02:51 AM

Ummmm... Now that is a good question :maddog: ! :scratch:

#14 Alexander Hawthorne

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536
God makes no threats. Is it threatening someone to say they will be burned if they touch a hot stove? Or that they will drown if they try to swim without learning? God is merely laying out the outcomes of our choices. There is tons of evidence for Christianity, and yet, people choose not to believe it. If they do not wish to spend their lives on Earth with God, why would He force them to spend eternity with Him? Our final destination is completely based upon our choices; God merely institutes our final resting place based upon said choices.
Next, I daresay you actually believe that belief is a matter of choice. You choose not to believe in Christianity. you CHOOSE to believe that belief is not based on choice.  Saying otherwise doesn't make it so. If you say belief isn't a matter of choice, was it programmed into you to believe that? Of course not; you choose to believe it, making your statement invalid(i.e, having no logical basis.) Of course you can make yourself believe something, but it won't be very solid. We choose what we believe. Trying to say otherwise is not only illogical, it is mocking your intellect. You said, "I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice." As I said, you weren't pre-programmed to believe this. You weren't forced to believe this. You chose it.

#15 AlviraofDeath

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 03:22 AM

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536
God makes no threats. Is it threatening someone to say they will be burned if they touch a hot stove? Or that they will drown if they try to swim without learning? God is merely laying out the outcomes of our choices. There is tons of evidence for Christianity, and yet, people choose not to believe it. If they do not wish to spend their lives on Earth with God, why would He force them to spend eternity with Him? Our final destination is completely based upon our choices; God merely institutes our final resting place based upon said choices.
Next, I daresay you actually believe that belief is a matter of choice. You choose not to believe in Christianity. you CHOOSE to believe that belief is not based on choice.  Saying otherwise doesn't make it so. If you say belief isn't a matter of choice, was it programmed into you to believe that? Of course not; you choose to believe it, making your statement invalid(i.e, having no logical basis.) Of course you can make yourself believe something, but it won't be very solid. We choose what we believe. Trying to say otherwise is not only illogical, it is mocking your intellect. You said, "I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice." As I said, you weren't pre-programmed to believe this. You weren't forced to believe this. You chose it.

You are much better at explaining this then me. Maybe they will listen to you!

#16 Alexander Hawthorne

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 03:44 AM

Haha, I'll certainly try.

#17 soleo

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 03:52 AM

Alexander Hawthorne said:

These commandments are imprecise....There is in Christianity a balance between faith and works.

No doubt the unerring word of the Christian god is imprecise. But I wonder if a Christian would not treat such accusation as blasphemous? You see, the Bible must be superlatively perfect for the believer, like his god itself, and if not, why not? So any accusation of error or contradiction must surely be treated as an act of impiety. Ambiguity or imprecision just does not arise from god’s inspired words, or do they?

A god which was most perfect, most intelligent and knowledgeable and good, which created mankind and human understanding, would not produce a mere book which was not clear and precise to every human mind who inturn, would come to understand it perfectly. Or would their god do such a thing?

This most benevolent god would not have created a work which people could not agree upon; would not have created a book which would cause so much suffering and conflict, war and strife, bigotry and hatred, would it? The Christian god could not have created a book which is so imprecise that non-believers dismiss it and those who believe it cannot agree on its interpretations, or would their god do such a thing, and why and to what end, and on whose authority would we accept that given answer?

From all this, I can imagine a pressing concern for the thoughtful Christian: from so much imprecision and ambiguity, war and bloodshed, bigotry and hatred which have arisen from the interpretations of the Bible, how can they accept it as the unerring, infallible word of god?  

Narrowing our focus just a little, if the commandments are ambiguous and open to endless interpretation and debate as suggested, on whose authority, on what grounds, if any, could a Christian now found their acknowledgement and understanding of them? If the Bible can have multiple and potentially conflicting interpretations, how could a Christian know which one was the right one? Again, the same type of question may be asked of the proverbial balance alluded to above. Indeed, how exactly does that balance function?

Reflections such as these bring me once again to exactly the same conclusion I wrote above. Namely, that to be a Christian must be a terrifying experience, if only because some believers might come to suspect not only that their own and other people’s interpretations have been fallible, absolutely untrustworthy, not only that the type of commandments I hinted to above carry a lot more weight than the feel-good rationalizations bandied about which try to minimize the seriousness of what has been said herein, but that perhaps, after all, arises the suspicion that the Bible was never anything more than a creation forged from the minds of talking baboons.

Edited by soleo, 22 November 2011 - 03:54 AM.

...an uplifting representation of human life as a damn shame...
...only that which has no history can  be defined...

#18 Alexander Hawthorne

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 04:15 AM

View Postsoleo, on 22 November 2011 - 03:52 AM, said:

Alexander Hawthorne said:

These commandments are imprecise....There is in Christianity a balance between faith and works.

No doubt the unerring word of the Christian god is imprecise. But I wonder if a Christian would not treat such accusation as blasphemous? You see, the Bible must be superlatively perfect for the believer, like his god itself, and if not, why not? So any accusation of error or contradiction must surely be treated as an act of impiety. Ambiguity or imprecision just does not arise from god’s inspired words, or do they?

A god which was most perfect, most intelligent and knowledgeable and good, which created mankind and human understanding, would not produce a mere book which was not clear and precise to every human mind who inturn, would come to understand it perfectly. Or would their god do such a thing?

This most benevolent god would not have created a work which people could not agree upon; would not have created a book which would cause so much suffering and conflict, war and strife, bigotry and hatred, would it? The Christian god could not have created a book which is so imprecise that non-believers dismiss it and those who believe it cannot agree on its interpretations, or would their god do such a thing, and why and to what end, and on whose authority would we accept that given answer?

From all this, I can imagine a pressing concern for the thoughtful Christian: from so much imprecision and ambiguity, war and bloodshed, bigotry and hatred which have arisen from the interpretations of the Bible, how can they accept it as the unerring, infallible word of god?  

Narrowing our focus just a little, if the commandments are ambiguous and open to endless interpretation and debate as suggested, on whose authority, on what grounds, if any, could a Christian now found their acknowledgement and understanding of them? If the Bible can have multiple and potentially conflicting interpretations, how could a Christian know which one was the right one? Again, the same type of question may be asked of the proverbial balance alluded to above. Indeed, how exactly does that balance function?

Reflections such as these bring me once again to exactly the same conclusion I wrote above. Namely, that to be a Christian must be a terrifying experience, if only because some believers might come to suspect not only that their own and other people’s interpretations have been fallible, absolutely untrustworthy, not only that the type of commandments I hinted to above carry a lot more weight than the feel-good rationalizations bandied about which try to minimize the seriousness of what has been said herein, but that perhaps, after all, arises the suspicion that the Bible was never anything more than a creation forged from the minds of talking baboons.
Allow me to reiterate; You are taking commandments given to Jews before the New Testament was instated, and thus, are not in effect for Christians today. The Bible is very clear as to what Christians should do, very clear on beliefs and instruction and everything else. Any "misinterpretation" that is made in politics for war or violence or self seeking purposes is not even interpretation, it is pretending to be Christian for personal gain. War strife, bigotry and hatred are all results of mankind's sinful nature twisting what the Bible has to say, and using that to suit their purposes. Christians can know what is the true interpretation of the Bible because we are led by The Holy Spirit who functions as our conscience. Someone who claims to be Christian but then goes and lives a lifestyle that contradicts their claim is obviously not Christian. As for the balance, like I said, we as Christians live in faith, and we do good for the furtherance of His Kingdom.

Like I said, Love God with all your heart soul mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself are the TWO commandments we are to live by. Nothing ambiguous or uncertain about them. The balance between works and faith is once again driven by our conscience. We believe in God, and carry out His commands. Loving our neighbours, and loving Him.

Your "reflections" are based purely in what you think and feel. You haven't done ANY research into Christianity, and you aren't going to bother to really ask questions and allow yourself to be moved. You have placed all your faith in there not being a God, and it really sucks, because I can see that you are  bright person. I can see that you have questions, but you aren't actually interested in getting answers.  Yes, the commandments carry weight, but we aren't expected to fulfill them all; Jesus asks us to try and keep trying when we fail. And yes, in fact many times I have heard the idea that the Bible is a fiction of man, even thought that myself, but I did the work, I was honest to myself, and I can tell you that the Bible is true. Get rid of all the stuff other people have said to you, and read the Bible, talk to a pastor, and get yourself informed before you just explain it away. Please.

#19 maddog

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:13 AM

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536

View PostAlviraofDeath, on 22 November 2011 - 02:51 AM, said:

Ummmm... Now that is a good question :maddog: ! :scratch:
which question in particular, Alvira?  And your answer is?

#538

Edited by maddog, 22 November 2011 - 05:13 AM.


#20 AlviraofDeath

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:34 AM

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

#536

That one!

#21 maddog

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:42 AM

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536
God makes no threats.
Take that up with (1) your fellow believers, such as Alvira, who proposed PW in the format that it is good to believe in order to be "safe," i.e., "safe" from  "the fiery pits of hell," consisting of "extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment," and (2) your God, if your particular version of God proposes a hell.  



View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

Is it threatening someone to say they will be burned if they touch a hot stove? Or that they will drown if they try to swim without learning? God is merely laying out the outcomes of our choices.
Not the same thing at all.
First, a hot stove is a matter of physics and chemistry.  We have no power or control over the physical laws of the universe.  If we could make a stove that would work in such a way as to not burn people, we would.  That's not the same situation as God is in.  Similarly, a human being's inability to breathe in water is a matter of physics and biology.  We have no control over that.  But we can teach people to swim and we do.  Not the same thing as hell, and not the same position as God, who supposedly can do anything.
Second, the cases are not parallel.  The true parallel would be the parent who said, "you must love me or I will burn you on the stove!"  or "you must love me or I will drown you!"  Those are threats, plain and simple.

It is entirely up to the God claimed by religious believers whether there be any hell or not.  Believers tend to claim an all-powerful God, who could easily eliminate hell if he desired.  The threat of hell is solely within God's power.  If God didn't want there to be a hell, there wouldn't be one.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

There is tons of evidence for Christianity,
Such as?  Be specific, please.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

and yet, people choose not to believe it. If they do not wish to spend their lives on Earth with God, why would He force them to spend eternity with Him? Our final destination is completely based upon our choices; God merely institutes our final resting place based upon said choices.
Apologetics, blah blah blah

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

Next, I daresay you actually believe that belief is a matter of choice. You choose not to believe in Christianity. you CHOOSE to believe that belief is not based on choice.  Saying otherwise doesn't make it so. If you say belief isn't a matter of choice, was it programmed into you to believe that? Of course not; you choose to believe it, making your statement invalid(i.e, having no logical basis.) Of course you can make yourself believe something, but it won't be very solid. We choose what we believe. Trying to say otherwise is not only illogical, it is mocking your intellect. You said, "I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice." As I said, you weren't pre-programmed to believe this. You weren't forced to believe this. You chose it.
Not at all.  You try to make yourself "believe" that 2+2=5.  I'd be very surprised if you could do it, unless you were brainwashed somehow.  Belief is a matter of evidence and understanding, based on inductive reasoning and conditioning via accumulated sensory experiences.  So yes, we are pre-programed by biology to have sensory experiences and to have our brains develop well enough to interpret those sensory experiences.  When we have gained enough brain development and pattern recognition to have understandings about the world, those are our beliefs.  Beliefs are evidence-based.  I don't get to "choose" the evidence.  Thus I don't "choose" belief.

#539

Edited by maddog, 22 November 2011 - 05:43 AM.


#22 maddog

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:44 AM

View PostAlviraofDeath, on 22 November 2011 - 05:34 AM, said:

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

#536

That one!
I was hoping you'd say that.  I'd be very interested to hear what the argument and evidence is that actually causes you to believe.  :)

#540

#23 Alexander Hawthorne

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM

Well written, truly maddog. As far as evidence, do some research. Google " evidence for the validity of Christianity" and read for a while. Now, once more, I must beggar your indulgence for a reiteration.

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 05:42 AM, said:

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536
God makes no threats.
Take that up with (1) your fellow believers, such as Alvira, who proposed PW in the format that it is good to believe in order to be "safe," i.e., "safe" from  "the fiery pits of hell," consisting of "extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment," and (2) your God, if your particular version of God proposes a hell.  



View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

Is it threatening someone to say they will be burned if they touch a hot stove? Or that they will drown if they try to swim without learning? God is merely laying out the outcomes of our choices.
Not the same thing at all.
First, a hot stove is a matter of physics and chemistry.  We have no power or control over the physical laws of the universe.  If we could make a stove that would work in such a way as to not burn people, we would.  That's not the same situation as God is in.  Similarly, a human being's inability to breathe in water is a matter of physics and biology.  We have no control over that.  But we can teach people to swim and we do.  Not the same thing as hell, and not the same position as God, who supposedly can do anything.
Second, the cases are not parallel.  The true parallel would be the parent who said, "you must love me or I will burn you on the stove!"  or "you must love me or I will drown you!"  Those are threats, plain and simple.

It is entirely up to the God claimed by religious believers whether there be any hell or not.  Believers tend to claim an all-powerful God, who could easily eliminate hell if he desired.  The threat of hell is solely within God's power.  If God didn't want there to be a hell, there wouldn't be one.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

There is tons of evidence for Christianity,
Such as?  Be specific, please.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

and yet, people choose not to believe it. If they do not wish to spend their lives on Earth with God, why would He force them to spend eternity with Him? Our final destination is completely based upon our choices; God merely institutes our final resting place based upon said choices.
Apologetics, blah blah blah

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

Next, I daresay you actually believe that belief is a matter of choice. You choose not to believe in Christianity. you CHOOSE to believe that belief is not based on choice.  Saying otherwise doesn't make it so. If you say belief isn't a matter of choice, was it programmed into you to believe that? Of course not; you choose to believe it, making your statement invalid(i.e, having no logical basis.) Of course you can make yourself believe something, but it won't be very solid. We choose what we believe. Trying to say otherwise is not only illogical, it is mocking your intellect. You said, "I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice." As I said, you weren't pre-programmed to believe this. You weren't forced to believe this. You chose it.
Not at all.  You try to make yourself "believe" that 2+2=5.  I'd be very surprised if you could do it, unless you were brainwashed somehow.  Belief is a matter of evidence and understanding, based on inductive reasoning and conditioning via accumulated sensory experiences.  So yes, we are pre-programed by biology to have sensory experiences and to have our brains develop well enough to interpret those sensory experiences.  When we have gained enough brain development and pattern recognition to have understandings about the world, those are our beliefs.  Beliefs are evidence-based.  I don't get to "choose" the evidence.  Thus I don't "choose" belief.

#539
First off, take What up with fellow believers? You never gave me what  was supposed to take up.


Please understand that God does not anywhere say, Believe in me or I will make you burn. He has said that their are two choices you can make, either believe, repent, be saved and live eternal life, or refuse to believe and reap the outcome of life apart from me. Firstoff, I would like to explain the fact that the "fiery pits of Hell" are not literal. They are a metaphor for the emotional and spiritual torment one will experience in Hell; again, this is an an outcome not God putting us anywhere by deciding for us. Now, we can all agree that the deaths of people in war, such as the Jews under Hitler, or the Christians persecuted in Rome, makes those political leaders pretty undesirable. How unjust then, would God be if He suspended the natural order after they had died and allowed them to spend eternity with Him? Would you consider it fair if someone who had raped and murdered and stolen was allowed into heaven after living unrepentant? If they wanted nothing to do with God? Certainly this would be unjust, yet you are saying that in order for God to be Merciful, He must do this. Not so; He already has given each and every single man since the death of Christ a simple, merciful solution. Repent, be baptized, and follow Him. This is mercy. God does not require huge sacrifices from you, or expect you to make all the right choices, rather to live day by day under His love, His guidance. Does that not seem both merciful and Just, for those who refuse will be sent to Hell? Now take it one step further. Biblically, ALL men are sinful and MUST pay the price of living in Hell. When Jesus, who was fully God and fully man came to earth to atone for our sins, was God not showing infinitely more mercy than He needed to? Hopefully you can see this point clearly now.

Second, it is not "entirely up to the God claimed by religious believers whether there be any hell or not."
you see, God gave all  his created beings the choice to have free will. When Lucifer rebelled against God, God in His Justice could not allow this to go unchecked.
He cast Lucifer and the third of angels who fought along with Him away from His presence. Their rebellion created Hell. Sin demands repayment.  God is Holy, and will have no part with sin, so of course there is no other way to deal with sin than punishment. It is an outcome of sin, not of God's plan. the Threat of hell does not originate from God, but it's existence can not be done away with. To have those who live in Hell and those who reside in Heaven commingled would be impossible because God is perfect, and His perfection denies sin to be near Him. Once again, mankind was given an out.


lastly, I do not "try" to make myself believe anything. i look at the evidence before me and decide what I will believe. You are saying that I have forced myself to believe in God. Very well' I say you force yourself to believe that God does not exist. This is a matter of one's worldview and one's faith. You have looked the
"facts" of an atheistic worldview and accepted them because you won't accept the idea of a God. I have looked for myself at both sides of this argument, and decided that there was not enough evidence in favour of Atheism, so I chose to become a Christian. Once again, this was a process of looking at evidence within different religions, finding the flaws, and deciding which religion to follow. I chose to believe in Christianity because I could not, and can not today, find fault in it's  worldview. It's a matter of evidence and response.

Now please, if you can find an actual flaw within Christianity, point it out to me, and I will re evaluate. Be willing to do the same. I am proving point after point for you from a Christian perspective, and yet you remain unmoved. Is this because you are not willing to see truth? Clearly, as you have shown with your responses, you are far from unintelligent, you are merely viewing the facts illogically.

#24 soleo

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:46 PM

Alexander Hawthorne said:

I can tell you that the Bible is true. Get rid of all the stuff other people have said to you, and read the Bible, talk to a pastor, and get yourself informed before you just explain it away. Please.

You have failed to answer any question I have asked from you and by means of last resort you end up throwing out at Ad Hominems.

You're new here, so let me try to explain something. What’s important at TGL is the advancement of arguments. Offering premises (reasons) and conclusions. As best as possible the conclusions one endorses should derive their support from the reasons put forward. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen all the time, but is an ideal we ought to all strive towards.

The construction of arguments helps avoid making unfounded assertions, generalisations, and common, everday fallacies.

This kind of strategy is important because it aids communication, strengthens understanding, comprehension and creativity. It can also help oversome the fetters of dubious traditions, customs and dogmas by evaluating the ideas and reasons put forward and weeding between them. For by virtue of our own assumptions and prejudices, we may be impoversihing not only our own life, but also other animals, human and not.

This critical method means we’re no longer dealing with the case of receiving and spewing information. We become active participants in the process of doubt and wonder, we raise questions and objections, we reflect and once again object. This attitude is radical. It denies the dogma of authority, opinion, prejudice and tradition, and being radical it is clearly not a game for all, right?

In other words, critical thinking isn’t about just having mere opinion, or bandying about ad homs, Alexander, but, instead, trying to rigorously search, evaluate and give reasons for those opinions. No one can avoid making fundamental asumptions, but sloppy generalisations, unfounded assertions and irritating fallacies should not be the possessors of truth. Instead, we ought to adobt the relentless pursuit of doubt, of wonder, of inquiry which itself should be experimental and open minded throughout via the continuous questioning of our most fundamental assumptions.

The most beautiful string of words is not, ‘I’ve the truth’ or 'The Bible is true', but, ‘I don’t know.’ It grounds humility, kindness, compassion, love, and so much more.

Hasta la vista
...an uplifting representation of human life as a damn shame...
...only that which has no history can  be defined...

#25 maddog

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 04:40 PM

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Well written, truly maddog. As far as evidence, do some research. Google " evidence for the validity of Christianity" and read for a while.
So you don't have any evidence, got it.  You are merely here to preach.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Now, once more, I must beggar your indulgence for a reiteration.

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 05:42 AM, said:

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

View Postmaddog, on 22 November 2011 - 02:35 AM, said:

soleo's post does bring up another, as yet unanswered, aspect of Pascal's Wager.

PW presumes, incorrectly, that there is one and only one god-concept in play.  That's what we discussed first.
PW phrases itself, in the version that Alvira presented, as *choosing* to believe because it will make you "safe."  In corollary with the first problem (which god?), what does "safe" mean?  Belief in the Christian God might make you "safe" from the Christian hell, but if you have selected the wrong god, then you won't be safe from that god's hell.
Third, is the problem of *choosing* to believe in response to the threat of hell.  That makes God a mafia boss ... what's the moral status of God, if God makes such a threat, and what is the moral status of the response, if you decide to follow God simply to avoid the threat?  That's where I had brought the argument.

soleo's point is another nuance along the same lines... even belief in the right God (assuming for the sake of the argument that the Christian God is in play) doesn't necessarily make you "safe"!  What requirements must be met to be "safe"?  Christians have many arguments among themselves about what is required in order to be "saved," and even their holy writings indicate in part that many who *think* they have qualified will not.  So not only is there the as-yet-unaddressed moral dimension to the problem of agreeing to follow the Christian God on a threat, there is also the efficacy question.  Pascal's Wager is much too facile, and does not constitute a true argument for Christianity.

Aside from the moral dimension, which I invite Alvira to discuss further, is another open question:  since PW is not in itself a very potent or convincing argument, is it unlikely that that is the real reason for Alvira's belief.  What *IS* the real, actual argument that induces and truly convinces you?

(there's also the problem of *choosing* belief ... I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice.  Either an argument is convincing, or it is not.  If it is not convincing, it is not possible to *make* yourself believe that which you do not actually believe.)

#536
God makes no threats.
Take that up with (1) your fellow believers, such as Alvira, who proposed PW in the format that it is good to believe in order to be "safe," i.e., "safe" from  "the fiery pits of hell," consisting of "extremely hot temperatures and eternal torment," and (2) your God, if your particular version of God proposes a hell.  



View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

Is it threatening someone to say they will be burned if they touch a hot stove? Or that they will drown if they try to swim without learning? God is merely laying out the outcomes of our choices.
Not the same thing at all.
First, a hot stove is a matter of physics and chemistry.  We have no power or control over the physical laws of the universe.  If we could make a stove that would work in such a way as to not burn people, we would.  That's not the same situation as God is in.  Similarly, a human being's inability to breathe in water is a matter of physics and biology.  We have no control over that.  But we can teach people to swim and we do.  Not the same thing as hell, and not the same position as God, who supposedly can do anything.
Second, the cases are not parallel.  The true parallel would be the parent who said, "you must love me or I will burn you on the stove!"  or "you must love me or I will drown you!"  Those are threats, plain and simple.

It is entirely up to the God claimed by religious believers whether there be any hell or not.  Believers tend to claim an all-powerful God, who could easily eliminate hell if he desired.  The threat of hell is solely within God's power.  If God didn't want there to be a hell, there wouldn't be one.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

There is tons of evidence for Christianity,
Such as?  Be specific, please.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

and yet, people choose not to believe it. If they do not wish to spend their lives on Earth with God, why would He force them to spend eternity with Him? Our final destination is completely based upon our choices; God merely institutes our final resting place based upon said choices.
Apologetics, blah blah blah

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 03:16 AM, said:

Next, I daresay you actually believe that belief is a matter of choice. You choose not to believe in Christianity. you CHOOSE to believe that belief is not based on choice.  Saying otherwise doesn't make it so. If you say belief isn't a matter of choice, was it programmed into you to believe that? Of course not; you choose to believe it, making your statement invalid(i.e, having no logical basis.) Of course you can make yourself believe something, but it won't be very solid. We choose what we believe. Trying to say otherwise is not only illogical, it is mocking your intellect. You said, "I'd argue that belief is not a matter of choice." As I said, you weren't pre-programmed to believe this. You weren't forced to believe this. You chose it.
Not at all.  You try to make yourself "believe" that 2+2=5.  I'd be very surprised if you could do it, unless you were brainwashed somehow.  Belief is a matter of evidence and understanding, based on inductive reasoning and conditioning via accumulated sensory experiences.  So yes, we are pre-programed by biology to have sensory experiences and to have our brains develop well enough to interpret those sensory experiences.  When we have gained enough brain development and pattern recognition to have understandings about the world, those are our beliefs.  Beliefs are evidence-based.  I don't get to "choose" the evidence.  Thus I don't "choose" belief.

#539
First off, take What up with fellow believers? You never gave me what  was supposed to take up.
Why, I should have thought that was obvious.  You stated: "God does not make threats."  Yet Alvira, and many others, continually make Pascal's Wager, which clearly recognizes that God is making a threat, and recommends responding to the threat by capitulation to it.


View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Please understand that God does not anywhere say, Believe in me or I will make you burn. He has said that their are two choices you can make, either believe, repent, be saved and live eternal life, or refuse to believe and reap the outcome ...
  That is a distinction without a difference.  It is a threat.  Believe in me or else.  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

... God does not anywhere say, Believe in me or I will make you burn. He has said that their are two choices you can make, either believe, repent, be saved and live eternal life, or refuse to believe and reap the outcome of life apart from me. Firstoff, I would like to explain the fact that the "fiery pits of Hell" are not literal. They are a metaphor for the emotional and spiritual torment one will experience in Hell; again, this is an an outcome not God putting us anywhere by deciding for us.
  Oh, so you are one of those.  There are plenty of passages in the Bible which threaten eternal fire, which certainly make it sound as if it is meant literally.  There are some believers who recognize the immorality of eternal torture, however, so now God has been changed and the Bible has been changed to make it a kinder, gentler hell.  Living without the presence of God is no different from what I experience now, which is no particular emotional or spiritual torment, certainly nothing equivalent to a metaphorical burning fiery pit.  If all you are saying is that God will leave people alone (exactly how it is now), then that's no problem.

[ETA] Tying back to Pascal's Wager as Alvira presented it:  if there is no literal hell, then one is "safe" from the fiery pit whether one believes in God or whether one doesn't.  Thus, Pascal's Wager provides no particular reason to believe in God. [/ETA]

I'll also note that you plainly admit you are picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you consider literal and which you do not.  What criteria are you using to determine and distinguish which parts are literal and which are not?  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Now, we can all agree that the deaths of people in war, such as the Jews under Hitler, or the Christians persecuted in Rome, makes those political leaders pretty undesirable. How unjust then, would God be if He suspended the natural order after they had died and allowed them to spend eternity with Him?
  And yet it is exactly this injustice that Christians argue for.  If murderous political leaders "repent" on their deathbeds, even after a lifetime of hatred and genocide and murder, then God suspends the natural order of things and allows them to spend eternity with him.  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Would you consider it fair if someone who had raped and murdered and stolen was allowed into heaven after living unrepentant?
  Would you consider it fair if someone who had raped and murdered and stolen was allowed into heaven after living unrepentant until the last second?  Yet that is the Christian promise:  no matter how much evil you have done your entire life, if you repent at the last second, it doesn't matter, you get into heaven.  Conversely, no matter how much good a person may have done, how many people helped, or how loving the person has been, he/she is consigned to eternal torment if they didn't happen to believe or say one particular thing.  That's not fair, just or merciful.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

If they wanted nothing to do with God? Certainly this would be unjust, yet you are saying that in order for God to be Merciful, He must do this.
  No, that is actually what the Christians say.  Robert Green Ingersoll called it "sinning on credit."  It doesn't matter how bad someone has been during their lifetime, if they but repent on their deathbed then God considers that hunky dory.  It's the Christians who say that God must then be merciful.  It's Christians who are proposing that injustice, not I.  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Not so; He already has given each and every single man
What?  women don't count?

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Not so; He already has given each and every single man since the death of Christ
oh yes, and all those who lived before Jesus are just out of luck

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Not so; He already has given each and every single man since the death of Christ a simple, merciful solution. Repent, be baptized, and follow Him. This is mercy.
Yes.  Please note that "mercy" is the antithesis of "justice."  You can have one or the other, but you can't have both.  You'll note that letting a murderer, rapist, robber into heaven does nothing to address or redress the victims of the murders, rapes, and robberies.  So justice has not been done, whether God sentences the person to heaven or hell, but most certainly not if the last-minute-repentant person is then allowed into heaven.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

God does not require huge sacrifices from you, or expect you to make all the right choices, rather to live day by day under His love, His guidance. Does that not seem both merciful and Just, for those who refuse will be sent to Hell?
No.  In the first place, mercy and justice are mutually exclusive.  You can have one or the other but not both.  In the second place, it IS a huge sacrifice to require people to sacrifice their integrity, their personality, their maturity, their independence, their liberty.  It is neither just nor merciful to punish people for what they cannot help.  It is neither just nor merciful to demand the impossible.  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Now take it one step further. Biblically, ALL men are sinful and MUST pay the price of living in Hell. When Jesus, who was fully God and fully man came to earth to atone for our sins, was God not showing infinitely more mercy than He needed to? Hopefully you can see this point clearly now.
No.  All you have argued for is manifest injustice.  A substitutionary human sacrifice is barbaric and evil.  Accepting for the moment the argument that ALL MUST pay the price of living in hell, then justice requires that ALL MUST go to hell.  There would be absolutely no one in heaven, if justice is to be served.  Of course, there is no reason whatever to accept that there is a God, or a God-man Jesus, or a heaven or a hell.  Those are still unproven assertions.


View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

Second, it is not "entirely up to the God claimed by religious believers whether there be any hell or not."
  Of course it is.  Is your God all-powerful, or not?  If he is, then he could simply do away with hell.  How can anything that happens, or anything that exists, do so against God's will?

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

you see, God gave all  his created beings the choice to have free will. When Lucifer rebelled against God, God in His Justice could not allow this to go unchecked.
He cast Lucifer and the third of angels who fought along with Him away from His presence. Their rebellion created Hell. Sin demands repayment.  God is Holy, and will have no part with sin, so of course there is no other way to deal with sin than punishment. It is an outcome of sin, not of God's plan.
that's the story, the preachment, of course.  If what you say here is true, then you admit that your God is NOT all-powerful.  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

the Threat of hell does not originate from God,
1)  See? you admit that it's a threat!  2)  Of course it does ... how could it possibly be otherwise?  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

but it's existence can not be done away with.
Of course it can.  All God has to do is say, "Hell, begone!"  Unless, of course, God is not all-powerful.


View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

To have those who live in Hell and those who reside in Heaven commingled would be impossible
I thought everything was possible with God?

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

because God is perfect, and His perfection denies sin to be near Him.  Once again, mankind was given an out.
Yet he supposedly lets plenty of sinners into heaven ... the ones who "repent."   So he CAN be near sin.  Plus, he supposedly, while still "fully God" made himself into a man and WAS able to be near sinful human beings.  You are not making sense.


View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

lastly, I do not "try" to make myself believe anything. i look at the evidence before me and decide what I will believe.
  Yes, you look at the evidence.  The evidence is either compelling or it is not.  If you do not find the evidence compelling, I doubt very much that you could "choose" to believe.  Do you "choose" to believe in mountains, rainbows, other human beings?  Could you "choose" NOT to believe in those things?  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

You are saying that I have forced myself to believe in God. Very well' I say you force yourself to believe that God does not exist. This is a matter of one's worldview and one's faith.
No.  "Faith" has nothing to do with it.  Either there is evidence upon which to believe something, or there isn't.  If there is no evidence for something, I doubt very much that you could "choose" to believe it anyway.  Could you "choose" to believe in fairies or ghosts?

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

You have looked the
"facts" of an atheistic worldview and accepted them because you won't accept the idea of a God.
I'll thank you not to project your misconceptions onto me.  All that I have is the evidence in front of me, which consists principally of the evidence that both of us agree exists.  We agree on the existence of people, trees, rocks, stars, mountains, lakes, oceans, animals, plants, etc.  As to God, I ask again, what God?   Please be specific in your definition of what you mean.  What is the evidence that establishes the existence of any God?  Again, please be specific, and delineate the criteria which allow you to determine its existence.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

I have looked for myself at both sides of this argument, and decided that there was not enough evidence in favour of Atheism,
  You've gone about it backwards.  The default position is the suspension of belief.   Unless and until there is evidence to believe that something is true, then there is no reason to believe it.   Thus, unless and until there is evidence for the existence of some God, then there is no reason to believe that there is one.  The burden of proof is on the person who is making a positive assertion, i.e., that God exists.  Those claims are subject to evaluation to determine whether there is any reason to believe they are true.   If there isn't enough evidence to show that a God exists, then of necessity you are left in the position of an atheist as to that god-claim.  Indeed, you yourself are in the atheist position as to all god-claims but one.  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

   so I chose to become a Christian. Once again, this was a process of looking at evidence within different religions, finding the flaws, and deciding which religion to follow. I chose to believe in Christianity because I could not, and can not today, find fault in it's  worldview. It's a matter of evidence and response.

Now please, if you can find an actual flaw within Christianity, point it out to me, and I will re evaluate. Be willing to do the same.
more preaching.

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

I am proving point after point for you from a Christian perspective,
no, you are making unsubstantiated claims.  Provide the evidence  

View PostAlexander Hawthorne, on 22 November 2011 - 07:23 AM, said:

and yet you remain unmoved. Is this because you are not willing to see truth? Clearly, as you have shown with your responses, you are far from unintelligent, you are merely viewing the facts illogically.
Standard apologetic to question the motives of unbelievers.  Stop projecting "unwillingness to see the truth" onto others.  Your efforts would be better spent in bringing forth your evidence and making your arguments, instead of questioning the motives of others.  If you have evidence, bring it.  First things first:  Define which God you mean, and describe a workable method of determining whether any such thing exists.  Please note, I have no interest in preaching, only in actual evidence.

#541

Edited by maddog, 22 November 2011 - 07:10 PM.





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