I wanted to start a discussion to listen to adherents and hear what they have to tell us based on some questions I'd like to pose to them. In other words, I want to sincerely play the role of a seeker and ask them how I would know that their god is The One, True God. The purpose is not to deconvert or convert, I just want to walk through a seeker conversation where I'm allowed to ask questions of adherents and see what they have to say ... to listen. I am willing to expand on what I mean by "The One, True God" if a reader asks for that, to the extent that I think the definition is sufficient for the discussion.
This is the adherent's golden opportunity to proselytize; to convert me.
In order to do this effectively I need to ask the adherent for their imprimatur on a rule by which I can do this without bogging it down so that I can never get my questions asked. So, here it is. I'll ask a question as a hypothetical. It may be that there are more assumptions to the hypothetical that one could add, but I'll ask for the sake of discussion that we allow only the assumptions of the hypothetical I offer. This way, I can at least get through a few questions. If someone thinks the assumptions are insufficient just state that with your answer and we'll accept that as your answer informed by the assumptions of the question.
So, here's my question. I'll ask it and see if I can get a useful answer, recalling that I am a lifelong atheist who has never believed and who is sincerely trying to sort out all the gods out there and figure out which one to follow:
How do I know that your god is The One, True God?
"it is a reference to the belief that it is though Jesus' sacrifice can people get into heaven."
this is where you and I will have to differ. I follow Jesus, and his sacrifice was a big part of his message, but I don't think that his sacrifice suddenly opened doors that weren't open before. For me, Jesus showed us the One True Way, brilliantly, better than anyone else in recorded history, and this Way is at the heart of all spiritually-switched-on people and religions. The sacrifice is not the most important thing. The healing process is the most important thing. The sacrifice was in the service of the healing process.
"I will concede that Islam is a little more challenging, really haven't studied the Koran enough to be able to speak with any authority. Maybe somebody else can help me out."
To Westerners like us, I agree, it seems alien at first. But only for 1 minute. The process of healing, and from there, the process of enlightenment, is at the heart of their religion too. Try this, and see if any of it seems familiar: http://www.societymujaddidalfasaani.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/...
I find that in its original form, Islam is a very beautiful religion.
"Hinduism is all over the place, there are some forms that are actually monotheistic, but the variation is so immense that it would take ages to be able to deal with Hinduism in more detail."
Well, from a cursory glance through the Dhammapada, this is the closest I can come up with right now:
129 All beings tremble before danger, all fear death. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.
130 All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.
From Wikipedia - Hindus have the concept of Brahman. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman
Here's my fifty million dollar question:
Based on the Utnapishtim narrative given (you have to read that first):
Is it more likely that belief in the Utnapishtim narrative is the result of Agenticity or that Utnapishtim is The One, True God?
It is a historical fact that a teacher named Jesus was crucified. No serious scholar disputes this, atheist or adherent.
No, it is not and several scholars have disputed this. I will reference my statement if you can yours.
Oh yea, since more have joined the conversation, it might be good to just pose both of the most recent questions:
2. Is it more likely that the belief in Helios was due to Confirmation Bias or is it more likely that Helios is The One, True God?
3. Is it more likely that the belief in Utnapishtim was due to Agenticity or is it more likely that Utnapishtim is The One, True God?
Kir - I'll tackle your questions, on the basis that Helios or Utnapishtim may or may not be facets of The One, True God.
Hey - what? - kk
I'll make a daring assumption here. I'm going to assume by your answer you mean that Helios and Utnapishtim are part of a larger god that includes other gods?
Kir - yes, that is what I mean. In theory it's possible for the One True God to have many faces.
Okay, then in that case your answer would be that:
Confirmation bias and Agenticity are the more likely explanations.
The reason for that is that the question is only asking about the case in which Helios and/or Utnapishtim are The One, True God, not facets of it.
OK - straight off - we have science now, which tells us that the Earth rotates, so that in itself shows that, to the best of our knowledge, the Helios explanation for the sun travelling across the sky every day is highly unlikely. However, on the information given, we cannot tell one way or the other whether Helios is the One True God. So I feel that your question 2 is ... not well-formed. Confirmation Bias - very likely; One True God - unknown.
Right, but that's not what I'm asking. I'm not asking whether or not Helios being The One, True God is known or unknown. I'm asking, if it is more likely that Confirmation Bias explains the belief or the fact that Helios is The One, True God explains the belief. This goes back to what I was saying about what we're asking. It's a binary question in which we are comparing odds, not concerned with the odds of any one thing being true or false.
Thus, in this case, your answer would simply be that Confirmation Bias is the correct answer.
And there is a corollary statement to that effect:
I'm not asking what the odds are of Helios traveling across the sky.
I'm also not asking what the odds are that Helios is The One, True God.
I'm asking, of the two choices given, which is more likely an explanation for the belief in Helios:
Confirmation bias or
Helios is The One, True God
Again, a comparison.