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1
Choose Your Own Topic / The Problem of Evil
« on: October 19, 2016, 05:26:36 pm »
No, this isn't your typical PoE thread.  You're all familiar with the argument so I won't bore you with the details.  When addressing the PoE, does explaining why god can't or doesn't want to eliminate evil actually address the problem?  The way I see it, explaining why a god allows evil does nothing to address the problem, but only confirms the PoE.

Let me explain it by analogy.  I'm in a boat, and notice that it is slowly filling with water.  I find a hole in the bottom of the boat and ask point out to you that the hole in the boat is a problem.  You then explain that the hole is there because it is required to drain water from the boat when you wash the boat.  You've adequately explained the hole, but you haven't solved the problem that the hole causes.  Explaining to me why there is a hole confirms that there is a hole...

In that same sense, explaining why the god allows evil doesn't eliminate the problem of evil.

Thoughts?

2
Choose Your Own Topic / XO Comparisons and analogies
« on: October 15, 2016, 12:01:42 pm »
I realize that I'm not a Christian, but I'm starting a Christian only thread.  I hope you will all grant me amnesty for such a transgression.  I'd like to keep this thread strictly on topic and it is essentially a question directed towards Christians.

It's obvious that at least some of the forum's theists don't like comparing their god to pretty much anything else.  I'd like to find out what the forum's theists would be OK with.  I know I missed something in the options, so one of them allows you to just tell us what you would be OK with.  You can vote 13 times, and change your vote so everyone should be able to pick the right option for them.  Please don't troll and just pick them all.  I'd like some serious votes.

3
Choose Your Own Topic / The classics
« on: October 09, 2016, 04:24:18 pm »
I've heard "the god of classical theism" and "classical monotheism" used on this forum before, but I have a hard time understanding what is meant by it.  Can you tell me exactly what it is that you're talking about when you use those two phrases?  I don't mean "theism as it used to be" or something like that; I mean specifics.

4
Choose Your Own Topic / Because Q11 asked for it!
« on: October 07, 2016, 10:25:39 am »
Emuse posted his story a few days ago, and Q11 called me out.  It seems as though it's my turn, so I'm going to try and make it a decent story, but I can't promise it will be a fun read.  I'm not going to just make things up to make the story more interesting so it'll all be true.  I just hope it'll have at least a little entertainment value.  Slow day at work today so I should be able to get something written.

I guess I should start off at the beginning.  I was born and raised in Basile, LA.  It's one of those little itty bitty towns on "the scenic route" between nowhere, and some other place.  To give you an idea of what this town is like, they still get the first day of squirrel season off of school because everyone is out hunting on opening day.  (Yes, that's a Saturday, but they get the day before off for preparing, because nobody would kill a squirrel a day early.)  They don't call it that anymore; now it's a teacher in service day or something similar, but everyone knows it's squirrel season. 

Naturally, my family was Roman Catholic as was just about everyone in the area.  All through school I was forced to go to CCD (Catechism for the older people here) and learn about the Almighty God and His glory and love.  I payed attention and always had the right answers when called on, but I really didn't want to be there.  It didn't bother me early in life, but once I got in my teens, I realized that they were "teaching" the same thing year after year.  Sure there were differences between the instructors and the activities varied, but the content wasn't changing.  It was the same class year after year.   I felt like I was getting the same gift for Christmas with different colored paper every year.  Or repeating a conversation with Grandpa who forgot we already talked about it.  It wasn't that I hated it or anything like that, it was just that I had been there before so wasn't all that interested in it.

That continued for a few years until the point where I didn't want to go anymore.  A trip to the zoo is fun, but by the time you get to trip #3,876, you're kinda hoping to a small animal gets into the lion pen just to shake things up.  When I made it to my senior year, I confirmed as everyone does.  I guess I did it mostly because that was the last thing to do in CCD.  It was the end of the road and I saw it as an easy way out.  Back at home, we continued going to church every Sunday.  Well, in honestly, most Sundays.  We did miss it once in a while.  We still made the midnight mass on Christmas.  It was a beautiful candle lit mass, that even included a few parts in Latin. 

Eventually I graduated high school and went on to college.  Once I moved out of my parent's house and into the dorms, I quit going to church and slowly shed my superstitious religious ideas one by one.  I remember that I used to make the sign of the cross every time I passed a Catholic church while driving.  I'm not sure why, but that's what I was taught so that's what I did.  Well, one day I thought, "What's going to happen if I don't?"  So I didn't, and nothing happened.  No fire and brimstone raining down from high, no lightning bolt, no locust swarm, no boils...  From then on, I drove where I wanted to and didn't worry about looking for churches.  In fact, for a decade or more, I didn't even give religion another thought.  It was just a chapter in my life that I read past.

That may have been a turning point for me, but when I look back from where I am now, I understand that I never believed all the things I was taught.  I could go through the motions and arguments, but I never really believed all the religious stuff.  Like people have said before me, the cracker was always a cracker.  I never thought of it as the body of Christ, despite that being the teaching of the church.  Even when I was a kid, I saw it as nothing more than symbolic.  The transubstantiation never made sense to me, even though I could give plenty of details about it.

Fast forward to 2011.  I had a good job, found a 2,400 square foot living, 4,000ish under the roof house under foreclosure.  I made an offer and got it at about $0.30 per square foot living.  It was practically a steal and mortgage rates were as low as they've been in decades, so I bit the bullet and bought my first home.  I spent some more money fixing it up and replacing the entire kitchen, but it was well worth it.  I guess that's beside the point, so back to the story.  I was playing around on YouTube one night when I couldn't sleep and found some random atheist video.  I agreed with the vast majority of what they said.  I watched another video, and another and another...  Heck I agreed with pretty much everything they were saying.  It wasn't surprising.  It all seemed like common knowledge to me.  Like me, nobody actually believed the transubstantiation right?

I remember this moment like it was yesterday.  All the sudden, one day while flipping through my mail in the main living room, I realized that I was an atheist.  I had been an atheist all my life, but never actually realized it until then.  Once I actually said that I was an atheist, it became so obvious that I always was.  Like I said earlier, I never really believed.  Given my Catholic upbringing, I always thought atheists were extremely rare and were crazy, so obviously I wasn't one.  I also knew that atheists were just people who didn't believe in god.  (There's a little cognitive dissonance for you.) 

Turns out, I was an atheist all my life and just didn't know it until my 30's.  That right there should serve to show you that all atheists aren't smart.  Took me 30 years to figure out what I was all my life.

So, how'd I do Q?  Was it at least good enough to hold your attention?

5
Choose Your Own Topic / Can people disagree?
« on: October 01, 2016, 11:45:47 am »
Obviously, people can disagree, but that's not exactly what I'm asking here.  Recently, I've noticed posters refer to others are unreasonable, or uninterested in the truth, and incapable of proper reasoning in light of evidence.  What I want to know is if you accept that people can be reasonable, have the same evidence that you have, but come to a different conclusion than you came to.  Basically, can the other side of the debate be rational and reasonable?  I've allowed two votes per person and hopefully you can see why.  Please be honest.

6
Choose Your Own Topic / Are there two of you?
« on: August 22, 2016, 11:03:13 pm »
I found this on that video site.  I thought it was kinda cool, so thought you all might think it's also cool.

Thoughts?

7
Choose Your Own Topic / A conversation with Keith_
« on: July 29, 2016, 05:49:07 pm »
In a recent thread, you made the following comment:

I have no interest in making atheists out to be bad guys, but the drum beat of this New Atheist narratives sets the level of discourse at the least common denominator.  I don't raise many topics I'd like to raise because they will get a rhetorical response and the discussion won't survive it.

I raised a topic recently where not one atheist post addressed the post thesis. The  entire thread was spent on the defintion of atheism.  We need to collectively settle this issue so we don't wast so much time. I think it is fair that Atheists can use their defintion, but seeing as this is a Christian Apologies site funded and operated by Christian, they should define their term in their post if they wish to use their non-standard defintion.  Make sense?

-Keith

It seems as though you've got some serious topics that you'd like to raise, but you're refraining from doing so because you they will get a rhetorical response and the discussion won't survive.  I'd like to discuss those things with you, without 20 other people jumping in and spoiling the proverbial soup.  I'm suggesting a conversation between you and me.  Obviously, we would have to simply trust everyone else to honor such an agreement, but I believe they will.

Since I'm starting the thread, I guess I should make an attempt to broach some subject.  Let's start with rhetoric.  My admittedly brief Google search tells me that rhetoric is language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.  That's what I mean when I use the word, so I'm assuming that's also what you mean when you use it.  It's the second half of that definition that is the most useful.  I don't think much of what atheists, and theists, say on this forum actually falls into that category.  Have you considered taking a deeper look at some of the things you consider rhetoric and trying to find out why they are used and what they mean?  Maybe you can post some of the rhetoric you've been getting and I can explain, with some detail, the meaning behind it so that we can look at the claims at a deeper level.

8
I just got back home from a little vacation over in Carlsbad Caverns.  Even though it's a bit off topic, I thought I'd share a few pics.

This is an area in one of the ranger guided tours called "The King's Palace".  It's a very well decorated area of the main cave that used to be accessible without a guide.  Some people were damaging the formations by breaking pieces off, so they stopped allowing people back there and made it accessible only with tickets and a ranger to guide you.



These are cave pearls.  They are located in an area known as "The Lower Cave".  It's a section below the main room that is only accessible by about 60 feet of ladders.  This area is again only accessible with tickets and a ranger guide.



This is a small area in the main room known as "Doll's Theater".  It's a very photogenic area of the cave and has been used in advertisements and can be found on billboards around the Carlsbad, NM area.  No tickets or guides are required to see this area.  You can either walk down through the natural cave entrance, or take the elevator down.  Yes, there's an elevator from the visitor's center to the cave.



This is a formation they call "The Christmas Tree" that can be found inside a separate cave called Slaughter Canyon Cave.  There is a half mile hike up 500 feet to get to the entrance of this cave. 



Last, but certainly not least, is this little cave cricket.  I found it in the Slaughter Canyon Cave tour so I got some close up pics of it.  They used to mine the guano in that cave and we were walking through one of the paths they cut into the guano.  I'm surprised the cricket let me get as close to him as I was to get the pic. 



I spent five days in the caves with my two nephews and one of my nieces.  While we were there we also went to see Sitting Bull Falls, which isn't much, but it's a nice little oasis in the middle of the desert.

Does anyone else have some pics of a recent vacation, or a story?

9
Choose Your Own Topic / AO - Atheism+
« on: April 25, 2016, 04:47:00 pm »
I'm curious.  How many of the atheists here associate with atheism+?  I don't.  Do you?

10
Choose Your Own Topic / Switching sides
« on: April 07, 2016, 08:23:43 pm »
I'm curious.  Maybe it's my best quality, maybe it's my worst.  Either way, I'm asking you.

I know some of you used to be atheists and are now Christian, or another brand of theism.  I'm sure some of you used to be theists and are now atheists.  If you switched sides, what was the final nail in the coffin for you?

Feel free to ask for clarification on someone else's post if something is unclear, but don't turn it into a debate please.  I'd like to see if there's a pattern that may emerge.  Maybe there are common experiences or thought patterns that will emerge in the two groups.

I thought about making this an XO thread, but since I'm atheist, I'd violate that stipulation in the OP.  Also, I don't want to leave anyone out.

If you switched sides, what made you switch?

11
Choose Your Own Topic / But that's not my god!
« on: March 28, 2016, 10:01:23 pm »
One problem that I often have when discussing theology is that gods can have pretty much any traits.  I haven't really run into that here at RF, but I also haven't asked.

Very simply, what is your god?  I don't want "According to the bible, god is 'I am that I am' or 'the alpha and omega' or something nebulous like that.  Just a basic description of what the deity is and what its qualities are.  Hopefully that's not too restrictive.  I'm not interested in jumping on your responses to point out issues.  I'm really just trying to figure out what it is that's in your head.

12
Choose Your Own Topic / Christian Morality
« on: March 27, 2016, 09:34:12 pm »
It has recently come to my attention that my idea of what morally good is may be controversial or uncommon.  I've always considered morality to be almost synonymous with wellness.  I was raised in a Christian home and thought that even then.  Hell was the bad place, Heaven was the good place.  What happened in Hell was bad, and what happened in Heaven was good.  Hell was full of torture and fire and the worst place you could possibly be.  That lead me to believe that bad things were painful, or detrimental to you in some way.  Heaven, obviously was the exact opposite.  Things that made you happy or showed some benefit to you were good.  That all seemed so obvious to me.

If you're Christian, which most of you probably are, what does it mean when you say that something is good or bad?  What is morality all about?

13
Eternity / Always an eternity
« on: March 25, 2016, 02:45:31 am »
What does always mean?  I know that seems like a stupid question, but hear me out.  The way I understand it, "always" is a temporal word, essentially meaning "for all time".  That would necessitate that time always existed and will always exist because the idea of there being a time when time does not exist is self contradictory.  Since time always has and always will exist, time would be eternal.

We know that time is just a part of spacetime so wouldn't that also lead to the conclusion that spacetime is eternal?  It seems to me that if spacetime is eternal, that the universe, which contains spacetime, is also eternal.  How can the universe be created if it is eternal?

14
Choose Your Own Topic / Questions about this website's apologetics
« on: March 23, 2016, 07:04:01 pm »
If you read my user name, you probably already know that I'm atheist.  One thing that I try to do every day is read an article, watch a video, or participate in a discussion with someone who disagrees with me.  Today, I decided to make things easy on myself and hit up Google.  I searched for "New argument for god" and http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-new-atheism-and-five-arguments-for-god came up somewhere on page 1.  I've heard of Mr. Craig's website before but have never been to it so I decided to check it out.  I'll admit that I didn't read all of it.  I skipped down to the actual arguments since that's the whole reason for me checking it out.  I was surprised at the arguments I found there.

The first is the Cosmological Argument from Contingency.  I thought this argument had fallen out of favor for the Kalam Cosmological version.  Since it is obviously still in use, I'd like to pose some questions about it.  The first premise is "Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause."  I would like to know how one figured out that the only two possible explanations for something existence is "necessity" or "an external cause".  Necessary and contingent are not diametrically opposed.  Necessary and non-necessary are.  Contingent and non-contingent are.  How can one exclude the possibility of non-necessary, non-contingent things?

The second is the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is just a refinement of the Argument from Contingency.  Again, one needs not go further than the first premise to find problems.  "Everything that begins to exist has a cause."  It does not stand to reason that this rule, even if true here in our universe, would apply outside of our universe.  What I mean by that, is that prior to our universe existing (if the concept of prior to spacetime makes any sense) it wouldn't be true that everything that begins to exist has a cause.  Without existence, that law wouldn't exist, allowing for the possibility of essentially anything coming into existence without a cause.  That would include our universe.  Now, I agree that everything that begins to exist within our universe has a cause.  What I don't agree with is that everything that begins to exist, within and outside of, our universe has a cause.  How can it possibly be shown that things that began to exist outside of our universe had a cause?  If that cannot be shown, how can one say that everything that began to exist had a cause?

The third argument is the moral argument.  The first premise seems patently incorrect to me.  "If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist."  I fail to see how one can justify the position that the existence of a deity is the only possible way for objective morals to exist.  Theists often express the idea that one must be omnipotent to know that their god doesn't exist.  When talking about their god, we have a clear idea of what it is that we are asked to disprove.  When talking about disproving every possible explanation for the existence of objective moral values, we can't have a clear idea of what it is that we are trying to disprove.  If omnipotence is required to disprove something we have a clear idea of, why would it not be required to disprove something that we don't have a clear idea of?  How can it be shown that there cannot be a non-deity explanation of objective moral values?  If it cannot be shown, how does one justify the claim that a deity is required to explain it?

The fourth argument is The Teleological Argument from Fine-tuning.  This whole argument is nothing more than an assumption of design.  That is made obvious by the second premise which states "It is not due to physical necessity or chance."  If it's necessary that A, B, or C be correct, this simple denial of A and B is no different than the assertion C.  It's true that we have no evidence to prove that the laws of our universe are necessary, but that doesn't mean that they are not necessary.  How can it be shown that the laws of our universe could possibly be different?  While located inside this universe, we have no way to show that other physical laws are possible, after all, we can't produce them.  Furthermore, if they could be shown to possibly be different, how can it be shown that they aren't what they are coincidentally?  It may be extremely unlikely, but one cannot say it is impossible simply because it is unlikely.  Every possibility is equally unlikely, but the existence of the universe necessitates that one of those equally unlikely possibilities happened.  This one is no less likely than any other. 

The fifth and final argument listed is The Ontological Argument from the Possibility of God’s Existence to His Actuality.  This argument again simply assumes the existence of a god.  The third premise in this argument is "If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world."  That is a patently false statement.  The idea of possible worlds establishes that some possibilities are not actualized.  The simple fact that a maximally great being is possible establishes the fact that it is not actualized in all possible worlds.  To deny that is to deny the idea of possible worlds.  If one rejects the idea of possible worlds, this entire argument is meaningless.  How can one justify that all possible worlds does not include the negation of the existence of a deity?  How can one establish that a deity is a maximally great being?  Maybe humans are as maximally great as is possible.  If a deity is defined as a maximally great being, how is that any different than simply trying to define that deity into existence?

If you can answer any of those questions for me, I would greatly appreciate it.  Yes, I did read Mr. Craig's responses in that article.

Bonus question:  What's with the obsession with Richard Dawkins?  He's a biologist, not a philosopher, or cosmologist, or logician.  He is not in his area of specialty when talking about those things.  Not all atheists agree with him or care about what he has to say about these topics.

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