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.
You have a sisyphian task ahead of you. Hardly anyone here is going to take the old, tired proofs for God's existence terribly seriously. You cannot really expect atheists to agree that it's reasonable to believe in a magical sorcerer god.
At least don't bore us. Show us some new thinking.
This is a good point, and it's backed up by some of the other responses I've been getting. Maybe I should ask for specific reasons why people find Christian theism unreasonable and address them individually rather than trying to establish that entire proposition from the ground up.
Lemme know when and where.
Thanks, Kris. This is helpful. I would classify your objections to my core proposition (i.e., "it is not unreasonable to be a Christian theist") under these heads.
The negative evidentialist objection: There isn't any evidence for the existence of God (or there is paltry evidence), and we need evidence for an entity in order to reasonably believe that it exists.
The coherence objection: God is incoherent, or at least incomprehensible or otherwise such as to invalidate human reason if God exists.
The pragmatism objection: Having faith in God on a pragmatic or Pascalian basis is unreasonable.
Since there's a thread about the problem of evil up on this forum, I suppose some people here probably also subscribe to some version of the following.
The positive evidentialist objection: There is good evidence against the existence of God, and it's unreasonable to believe in an entity that there is good evidence against.
Are there any more broad categories that I'm missing? Can anyone think of more concrete instances of important arguments in these categories that I should address?
Do you or do you not have a proposition to assert and/ or defend in your participation on this site?
I originally intended to defend the core proposition which I quoted and italicized in this OP (namely, "it is not unreasonable to be a Christian theist"). I listed a bunch of arguments for the proposition in a blog post with the intention of discussing them, but I was quickly informed that that was not the right way to go about defending my core proposition.
I asked what the right way to defend the core proposition would be, and I was told that I should start distinct threads for each argument for the core proposition. So, in this thread, I said that I would do that instead. But then, people started asserting that this isn't the right way to defend the core proposition, either.
And now, it looks like I'm going to get banned, because a moderator just asked me the following.
If you don't feel that your proposition has any novel value, what's the point of your participation here at all?
Maybe you're right that this isn't the best place to discuss the reasonableness of Christian theism. The members certainly appear closed to the arguments for Christianity, and for all I know, they have good reasons for being closed to those arguments.
Many of us here are not "green" when it comes to the arguments pro and con re: the existence of God.
Don't insult us by calling our minds closed simply because we don't want to be bored silly by arguments we've long since moved beyond. At least attempt to wow us with something we've never heard before.
We, many of us, tend not to spend a lot of time on proofs because considering them is what got us here in the first place.
I don't think you're in any danger of being banned. From my perspective, you haven't been at all forceful; I don't get the impression you're proselytizing.
What I have noticed, however, is that you do a lot of deflecting and dodging. The only reason I suggested you start a thread for each of your premises is because you accused me of not understanding the nuances/subtleties in the premises you asserted in your last post. So YOU don't feel overwhelmed, defending many points at once, you can narrow-in and tell us just how we've misunderstood your points. I think everyone, myself included, has been patiently waiting for you to enlighten us.
What I feel like is that you just keep saying "you don't understand; this isn't my entire argument." Give it to us! You can't hold it against us if we don't accept it, but you haven't put forth anything at all substantial.
So stop squirming around and acting like we're all big-bad-meanies who are confusing you with all of our suggestions as how to best debate on this site. We're trying to help you! We're making it easy! We're giving you your platform, guiding you along the whole way... the reality is that you're simply not utilizing and taking advantage of this opportunity.
I may not agree with what you say, Will, but I will defend to a near-death experience, your right to say it.
I'm not clear who sent you that message, but I would have to ask what he/she's afraid of? Is your debating skill REALLY that devastating?
Leave the poor boy alone, and let him sink or swim on his own --
damn, just hit us already! Stop pussying around! It doesn't matter what reception you get. We want to hear your views. The basic rule is politeness and civility. Apart from that, it doesn't matter what you say. This is a discussion forum. Most of us don't mind hearing something new, or old for that matter.
William, I have a question for you, as a Christian. This is not me sneering or trying to trip you up. It's a genuine request for information.
Suppose you have an evil person. Someone who deliberately does things to hurt people, because it makes him feel good, because he is sick and twisted. Of course, he justifies these actions to himself, on the grounds of... (some stupid reason).
In my experience, it is equally possible that this person is religious, or an atheist. It is more likely that the person has no "religious" views at all.
What is supposed to stop the religious person from hurting people?
Whatever it is, it is not very reliable. It is no more reliable than whatever stops atheists doing bad things.
I contend that both atheists and religious people think about what they do, they tend to think about moral decisions.
Someone who is neither, tends not to think so hard about moral decisions.
Perhaps to set yourself up as either religious or atheist necessitates a certain amount of soul-searching and internal honesty and integrity. It takes balls, which the morally weak person does not have. He prefers to make other people suffer, instead of taking responsibility for his own suffering or discomfort.
Because I'd have to take the notion that magic is real. Not sleight of hand or illusionism, but actual magic, where things happen contrary to the laws of nature. Because "the God of Love" shouldn't be testing those he loves with cancer or war.Because the terminology of Christianity is so obviously based on an unconscious and silly nostalgia for monarchy ("Our Lord," "The King Of Kings," "The Prince Of Peace," etc.).
Sorry Unseen - borrowing your "Reply" button to get a message to Feenstra --
Kris, I guess you did --
"And now, it looks like I'm going to get banned, because a moderator just asked me the following."
"'If you don't feel that your proposition has any novel value, what's the point of your participation here at all?'"