Over the next several days or so, I should begin posting a variety of arguments for the existence of God. The purpose of this thread is to give context to those arguments so that people have a bird's eye view of them when they are presented and evaluated.
I don't care if you become a Christian or not, nor do I care if you end up becoming any other kind of theist. Rather, my goal on this forum is to persuade you of the following proposition.
"It is not unreasonable to be a Christian theist."
Obviously, this core proposition should be distinguished from the proposition that Christian theism is unreasonable - i.e., crazy, stupid, insane, dishonest, and so on.
My core proposition should also be distinguished from the proposition that Christian theism is true, because something can be false yet reasonable for people to believe. This seems to happen a lot in science. For example, for a long time there could be reasonable disagreement between cosmologists regarding whether the Big Bang theory or the Steady State theory was true. I think atheism and theism are like that: There are a lot of arguments that go both ways, and someone can arrive at either conclusion without broaching rationality (of course, it is also possible to arrive at either conclusion irrationally).
Having said all of that, I'd like to ask whether anyone will agree to my core proposition without argument. I know that some atheists believe that Christianity can be reasonable, so the question is just how many such atheists post on this site.
Damn, there goes years of rainbow chasing. --- Just realized how bad that was for a straight guy to say.... .
They can have the rainbow... as long I can use blue and black form time to time. LOL
If you're only goal is to be accepted as reasonable, then we're never going to get very far beyond a simple 'agree to disagree' point. There are many things which are reasonable to believe which are perhaps not supported by a preponderance of evidence, but which are still quite probably true, or at least seem to be to thinking people. A good example is the existance of other, independantly-evolved life elsewhere in the universe. Absolutely no evidence exists to that effect, but many cosmologists and other educated people believe it to be true simply because in such a huge universe it seems unlikely that we're the only instance of life. This, therefore, is a reasonable belief for which there is at least a good theoretical line of reasoning, even if there's absolutely no evidence.
The point of this is that there is no sharp divide between reasonable and unreasonable propositions. There is a continuum.
So, on the spectrum of 'reasonability', the propositions 'Christian theology' and 'Aliens' both fall at definitive, if hard-to-define, points, determined by their liklihoods based on our knowldge of the universe, and on the merits of evidence supporting or contradicting them. We can do nothing more with these propositions than search for evidence for them, an endeavour which, in both cases, has been fruitless despite two millenia of hard work by committed people.
What we are left to work with, then, is inferences that can be gleaned from things we DO know. In the case of alien life, we know the conditions under which life could arise, we know roughly the size and contents of the universe, and can thus make an educated guess about the existence of life. Regarding theology, we know a lot about human nature; the human propensity to manufacture explanations for inexplicable things, the human tendency to lust after power and dominance, several evolutionary and behavioral mechanisms that seem to explain religious impulses, and the universal nature of many aspects of every religion which often exist just as happily in religious vaccuums. Notice this is all evidence against a theistic worldview; I haven't listed any for it because I truthfully cannot think of any that can't be explained without recourse to deistic invention (a phenomenon, by the way, for which there is a fairly convincing evolutionary explanation).
So; will people take you seriously when the atheists take over the world ;) and erradicate all religion? Yes; you seem to espouse a particularly thoughtful brand of Christian Theism that, to your credit, tries to reconcile reality with belief. However, we will only take you slightly less seriously than someone who, for example, believes in the 'life force', and only a bit more seriously than fundamentalists. That's where you lie on the continuum.
To be fair, it's very hard to get all the way to the 'serious' end; just look at the polite little feud that Dawkins and Gould had, or the arguements that Hitchens got in with other atheists. Being human, we will always have beliefs that are somewhat irrationally held and clung to at least as much for emotional as for rational reasons. It's quite frightening, in fact, for me to re-evaluate my views on education or drug policy, to name a few examples. What it seems to come down to is that I am afraid of things being different than I thought they were as a kid. This is understandable wherever it occurs, but I don't think it lifts the burden from anyone's shoulders of holding responsive, flexible, evolving opinions rather than ideologies.
Over the next several days or so, I should begin posting a variety of arguments for the existence of God.
…my goal on this forum is to persuade you of the following proposition.
"It is not unreasonable to be a Christian theist."
distinguished from the proposition that Christian theism is unreasonable - i.e., crazy, stupid, insane, dishonest, and so on.
distinguished from the proposition that Christian theism is true…
This indicates to me that your intent is to;
1- Argue for the existence of the Christian god,
2- with no expectation of successfully establishing that existence,
3- and settling for agreement that Christian belief isn’t stupid, insane, or dishonest.
Mr. William, you seem like a decent person who is knowledgeable enough about the position that you are taking to hedge your bets. It will be fun to see how this series of discussions plays out.
"Over the next several days or so, I should begin posting a variety of arguments for the existence of God. The purpose of this thread is to give context to those arguments so that people have a bird's eye view of them when they are presented and evaluated."
I would venture to say most of us have looked at these very carefully- good luck.
"It is not unreasonable to be a Christian theist."
If you believe in virgin births, resurrections, human sacrifice, "miracles", prayer, etc., I'd say you're as delusional as any other Christian.
Occam? Wow... never expected to see you here.
It should be relatively obvious, but I'm NateHevens at CARM. Haven't posted there in a while because the YECs just drove me into a vacation away from that place... it's insane...
But anyways... I look forward to your posts, but be aware... we're an atheist community, so expect mostly skepticism and challenges... we'll question everything... trust me... :D
It's good to see you outside of CARM, though!
What brought you here, if I may ask?
I stumbled onto Think Atheist when I was Googling around the internet. I saw that "how could an ex-atheist ever have been an atheist to begin with?" thread, and I decided to answer the question for the OP. I just haven't left yet.
Good to see you too.
How about adding "wrong" to "crazy, stupid, insane, dishonest, and so on." I say this because most of us here would put that at the top of the list.
I think there is another agenda here, and what could seem like an academic question is really at the core of what is at issue in the rift between atheists and theists. By the very nature of the fact that I am an atheist, I think it is unreasonable to believe in any god, let alone the Christian one. If I thought it was reasonable, I would not be an atheist.
You may claim that your arguments might be different, and that someone here might see the light, but many of us have heard all the arguments before and are well-versed in the counter-arguments. Unless you've got some radically different argument, yours is an effort in futility.
It could be that you really are studying our responses for some other reason, such as to sow the seeds of belief in even one of us. You could possibly find someone here who is on the fence or has only tentatively arrived at his or her conclusion that either there is no god or he or she does not believe in one but can't say there is no god. That, I believe, is something different entirely, and it's disingenuous to not state that as your purpose from the beginning if that is the case.
It may have taken someone years to have arrived at the point of realizing that belief in a god is unreasonable, and to have found a safe place to state this conclusion, only to be asked to find it reasonable again. Would it be fair for me to go to a Christian forum and ask the same question, possibly jolting newly-converted, shaky Christians out of the fold? I dare say that would not be a popular idea at a Christian forum.
That being said, I hope you get whatever information you need. I have to say that I no longer give credence to arguments about the existence of god. I've heard them all, I feel, and I am not looking to change. That is not to say I am close-minded. I just think you could actually replace "god" with leprechaun, Bigfoot, or aliens, as someone else stated, and your arguments would be just as convincing to me. I'd have to say my answer is a resounding, "No!" And, like I stated, I think it is incorrect to say that people like me are unwilling to listen to the arguments. I have heard them all, I think, and NONE has budged me even when I was trying to be as open-minded as possible. Best of luck to you though!
Christianity is an evangelical religion, meaning that it's the Christian's duty to spread the word. He's just a dressed up version of he streetcorner Bible banger. We'll have to let him say his piece.
Of course, the best way to deal with him would be for all of us not to respond. Wouldn't it be funny if we started seeing him post "No comments? No replies?" Hahahaha...
Having dealt with Occam in the past, I can tell you that he isn't as bad as you think he is. He comes across to meas someone who wants to be a Theologian. He's not a YEC, or a bigot who uses the Bible to justify it (I've seen him call out Christians on CARM for that behavior).
Besides... I'd rather have Occam here arguing about the Bible than conservative Christian YEC, to be honest. Occam will provide some interesting discussion, IMO. Not that I expect to convert anybody... I have too many problems with Christian doctrine and dogma to ever convert to it... but Occam's much more reasonable than the usually trollish Christian we get here.