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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.
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I have read some of the comments to this post, but not all of them as they're too freaking many. That also means you have a lot on your hands to deal with, so I will make this thread possibly the simplest one. I understand that you believe in the Christian god, his son Jesus and all that. I don't care exactly what you believe for now, because I just want to clear some things out first. Just note that I'm talking about your belief in the Christian god, not just a creator of the Universe.
Now, the fun part. Please choose the options that describe the reasons for your belief!
a) Considering all evidence that I know of, for and contrary to my claim, I can demonstrate mathematically that my claim is probably true.
b) My claim is a scientific hypothesis which has passed the scientific method, i.e. it makes predictions and these predictions haven't been falsified to this point.
c) I feel that my claim is true.
d) I have certain personal experiences that make me believe this claim.
e) I don't have evidence or math on my side, but I have faith.
f) I really, really want to believe.
I think I pretty much covered everything, but if you want to surprise me and have another reason to believe, please describe this reason. The short version is preferred because further questions will arrive if I need edifying.
Thank you in advance for your collaboration!
Thanks, Radu. I think it could be summed up:
We have good historical grounds supporting the claims made about Jesus in the Bible? Would those historical grounds be... the Bible? And what option does fit you best with this belief? All I can see here is that you either feel that your belief is true because of some perceived historical grounds, or you really, really want to believe and are making up historical sources. I don't think your belief fits into a) or b) (and is therefore wrong to hold this belief, IMO), but you're free to correct me if necessary. So, please present the historical sources that validate that Jesus walked on water, was resurrected and turned water into wine! If you can't do this, then I fear all you're doing is wishful thinking at its best, which is also sad because the world can be more beautiful without an almighty daddy. At least that's the case for me.
Anyway, the important part of my post is this: what historical sources do you have for the supernatural claims of Jesus and how did you determine that their validity is probably real? Again, short answer and strictly to the point please, because I'm concerned about derailing the discussion as I've seen it happen with theists over and over again.
Religion at its core REQUIRES irrational belief as Kevin Harris so clearly displays - "belief" in the irrational "Jesus" myths written up by naive and uneducated people 2000 years ago. For example the miracle "immaculate conception" birth is both hilariously stupid to belive in - name one intelligent person who does? [and yet if you don't believe in that bizarre story, then the whole of the Jesus myth collapses] but was churned out regularly throughout the Middle East region as a sign of the superiority of numerous prophets. If all of them were sons of "god" then why is jesus [who was in reality merely one of many anti-Roman/Herod martyrs] any different.
Myth stories abound whenever reasonable scientific reasoning is abandoned - whether it is myths about creationism [=religion/god] vs evolution or myths about how betting on red after a run of 4 blacks at Las Vegas is guaranteed to win.
The fact is that people are generally unfortunately much more stupid than they want to believe [even those with degrees ] and willing to believe in irrational thought because it makes them HAPPY - mainly because it is very very tough to face the world without a crutch of belief that "god" is on your side - not matter how stupid that is to a rational person.
"I think the claims of the historical Jesus of Nazareth are true". Because you think they are true does not make them true. Therefore it is solely a matter of faith and blind faith at that. You have personal experiences with god ? You "think the hypothesis is true". Come on Kevin you are smarter than that. You are nearly there. We are here to help people think clearly. Deep down you must know its all false. At least you must have some doubts. What religion are you a member of if you don't mind sharing.
I'm still waiting for a response to what historical sources you base your beliefs on. So, do you have anything other than the Bible for the miracles of Jesus? You said you had good historical grounds for these miracles, but you haven't provided any. It's like you're avoiding answering this question. But you know what? You should be asking yourself these questions, not waiting for others to do so. That's, of course, if you don't believe because you want to, in which case it's obvious that you would try to avoid questioning your beliefs.
So, historical grounds about the supernatural aspects of Jesus... what's that about?
It's OK to fear death. I personally don't but I can understand if someone finds the end of their existence frightening. There are many people on this planet who rely on logic and reasoning to provide explanations of the world we live in. They will refuse to take that necessary step of "faith" to acknowledge the existence of a supernatural being. You will not change their mind. Without EVIDENCE the proposition of an invisible being holds no water. Charm and persuasion will always fall short.
That being said I have no problem living next to someone who likes this romantic notion of a god. If that makes them feel good so be it. Just don't expect your atheist neighbor to change. And please don't attempt to persecute them for such radical thought.
Five thousand years from now, barring any large collision with a BIG rock, the last vestiges of god and religion will only be found in the history books as we continue to evolve and discard that which has no relevance.