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I recently responded to the "I'm Not a Christian Anymore" thread. As a philosophical Christian Theist, I hate to see people reject Christ due to misconceptions. I offered some thoughts.
I was challenged on God's existence and nature so I'll offer some thoughts for anyone who would like to discuss. I find it's always necessary to dispel straw men and define terms first.
Motivation. I am interested in civil dialogue on what I think is the most important issue of all time. I think there are more distractions keeping people from the knowledge of God than at any time in history. Yet, I think there are more reasons to believe Theism is true than at any time! It's too important to just view these discussions as a contest - to win the debate at all costs.
No matter how one feels about the "Religious Right", an obnoxiously religious family member, or atrocities done in the name of God, etc. Theism just may be true.
Humility is required in the quest for truth. Respect is required for those on the quest. I hope to offer both.
Worldview. It all comes down to which worldview best explains the data of the universe. If Naturalism is true, then atheism follows. If Theism is true, I think Christianity is the best theistic option.
Classical (or Christian) Theism. Something is ontologically ultimate and therefore eternal and necessary. It is either something of the order of matter, or something of the order of mind. Theism holds to the latter and a conceptual analysis leads to God who is the personal Creator, is powerful, transcendent, and distinct from "his" creation yet active in it.
Christianity. The view that God revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ's claims concerning himself are true and he is authoritative in everything he taught or affirmed.
Faith. Broadly, faith is the assent, or trust, or affirmation that a proposition is true. It has been defined on a scale from "blind faith" (fideism) to reasonable (or informed, supported) faith. I hold to the latter.
Faith is not a way of "knowing something", it is the application of what you know (or think you know). Some form of faith is a component of virtually everything in life - from the scientific method to personal relationships. But faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. All the faith in the world will not make something true.
One ought to place one's faith where the evidence points, even if one cannot prove the proposition 100% or does not have exhaustive data.
Proof. While it is difficult to prove something 100%, one can nevertheless offer and consider proofs (reasons or evidence). 100% certainty is not necessary for a view to be justified or considered knowledge. I offer proofs for Christian Theism not "100% proof".
A cumulative case is also often necessary. I think various arguments combine to show Theism is true.
Burden of Proof. When debating a question, (e.g. does God exist?) anyone offering answers to the question bears the burden of proof. All views make truth claims. All truth claims bear the burden of proof. Whether one defends Naturalism or Theism one ought to offer reasons why.
God of the Gaps. Theists need not argue from what we don't know. Arguments for God can be based on what we do know from science or philosophy.
Further, God can employ Secondary Causation, wherein initial conditions or systems produce perpetual effects (e.g. weather systems produce lightning).
God and Science. An eternal, transcendent Creator does not preclude us from rigorously exploring the universe and discovering how it works.
(You may be interested that I reject "Young Earth Creationism". I don't think it's the best biblical explanation and it certainly is at odds with known science. "Yom" in Genesis can denote long periods of time).
Thank you for reading this far. If anyone is interested I can sketch out some arguments for God for discussion.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
Declaring "I don't believe that" is just a description of your psychological state. It has nothing to do with whether atheism is true or false
I think the "default" position, if there were one, would be agnosticism.
False. Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. Simply holding the position that opinion that there is no god, proves that Atheism is true (real could actually be a better word). You are miss-defining Atheism as an active denial and disproving of deities. Atheism at it's simplest really is the lack of the theistic belief. It isn't a positive claim and there is nothing else required in order to be an Atheist.
Also, Atheism is the default state simply because it is a lack of belief by definition, not a denial of belief (which can follow). Say a person was born in America but did not know the term American or it's definition. Does that mean they are not American? Of course not. Same goes for religion. A newborn child has no idea of the concept of gods. Lacking this belief or even the knowledge of the concept = Atheist.
Agnosticism actually addresses a separate claim. It tells us of a state of knowledge, not belief. An Atheist does not believe in a god, while a theist does. Someone who is agnostic, does not KNOW something. So by that, I am an Agnostic Atheist. I do not know for a fact that there is no god, but I do not believe there to be one. The be truly gnostic, one would have to know something as 100% fact.
James, you said,"Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god"
Then you said,
"An Atheist does not believe in a god,"
So which is it?
Define yourself how you wish. But I think that since "I lack belief in X" is only a description of an individual's psychological state, I think it is better stated, "I think Naturalism is true therefore God does not exist and so I am an Atheist". BUT, if you wish to defend Naturalism you're going to have to give reasons for it!.
"Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god"
Then you said,
"An Atheist does not believe in a god,"
Kevin, as Dave correctly stated there is no contradiction between the two statements. They make the same point that person X does not believe in a God. Knowledge of the god claim does not change the term to something different. If I had said that "Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god" and "Atheism is the denial of gods", then you would have a point. I define myself not as I wish but as the word meanings dictate. I do favor a scientific/naturalistic world view, but that isn't the discussion here (although some of the same evidences may be relevant depending on what you eventual proofs may be).
What seems confusing to many is the difference between the definition of Atheism as a view and what describes you as an individual atheist.
Dr. Paul Edwards, a leading atheist philosopher, wrote in the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy that "atheism is the view that God does not exist".
However, I think that atheists have tried to fine-tune that definition (perhaps rightfully), distinguishing Strong Atheism from Weak Atheism (which is more Agnostic). Also, I'm sure Atheists get tired of always being challenged to prove God does not exist.
I was pretty much going to say what Dave said. :)
Kevin, I do not believe in you god (or any others) because none of them have met the burden of proof. Should evidence be offered, I would evaluate it at adjust my views accordingly. I am quite interested to hear the proof that you have alluded to, although I assume you are saving it for a separate posting. I'm still interested to hear what you have to offer none-the-less.
I'd say that it depends on how that particular god is defined. Using that definition you can then test the claims attributed to that god. Should these claims fail tests to check their validity than it etches away at the plausibility of that god. Zues was claimed to be the source for lightning, so when we discovered the origins of lightning, that erodes from the foundation for Zeus belief.
If the claim is that the Christian god created the universe and every species in it's present form in a single six day period 6,000 years ago, then that claim can be tested. (I understand that not all Christians are young-Earthers... Just illustrating my point) Should a deity be real, one would expect the traits and claims of this deity to be verifiable and have no natural explanation.
It all comes down to one point really, evidence, in the hmm 4000 years or so that christianity evolved from a small obscure sect to one of the biggest religions of the world there has never been a single shred of evidence for the existence of a god.
You say you believe in the christian god, how do you know it's the right one ?
There have literally been 10's of thousands of gods, goddesses and everything inbetween invented over the millenia .
The above video only shows a short list of all the gods invented by man, what if your praying to the wrong one, and everytime you go to church you piss off the right one more and more hehe.
Besides if every religious text was right, no one would goto heaven and instead everyone would goto hell.
The christian thinks all muslims goto hell and all muslims think every christian goes to hell and all jews think you both goto hell, hell indeed must be a very busy place and heaven is virtually empty.
And god made us in his image, how come i'm not invisible? and how come i can't do miracles or create something from nothing ?
And when christians eat and drink from the body of christ, this is meant literally, does that mean my shit is holy ?
I really think religion in all it's forms is evil and oppressive, it stops people from thinking and be satisfied with their ignorance.
Science is a continuous feedback loop of growing knowledge, building on the hard won knowledge of before. It is not a "belief" or something to have "faith" in. Science, like atheism, is NOT a religion.
Religion and religious writing has NO testing of anything, no basis in the "real" world at all. That's why it's called faith! No evidence...just Believe. No growing body of testable, measurable anything. They just "know".
Sources of Knowledge? Religious authority? From where do they get this authority? Where is the published data, and ANY evidence for these claims that are made?
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" - Carl Sagan
Does wearing a silly hat or collar and eating certain foods on certain days give you authority? Does quoting a bible or any other mythology give you authority? Authority over what and whom? Based on who's interpretation of which version of which religious text?
Various man made magic based fairy tales Vs. a body of reasonable, testable, falsifiable, data that is open to change as new evidence becomes available. It's so amazingly simple to see the difference.