Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2011, 06:52:23 pm »

ReasonableJeff wrote: Of course I have my own biases, and so do the people to whom you asked your questions.  However, their biases were not necessarily the reason they disagreed with you- it could be just because there was no evidence or rational reason to agree with you.  You implied that the only reason they didn't see things your way was that they want to "protect their bias at all cost."

I agree in general with what you're saying.  I didn't mean to imply the only reason people disagreed was because of their biases, but that it was a part of it.  As an example, I don't think you'll hear Richard Dawkins admit to a bias; rather he'll cloak it in something like "I'm just followiong the evidence where it leads me"

I guess we don't disagree as much as it seemed like we would, which is a bit surprising considering the tone of your post.  I'm actually a bit confused now, but I've been there before...

That's odd.  I thought the tone of your post was snarky .

I don't see a problem with someone, tongue-in-cheek...


Well, one obvious problem would be that it might not have been tounge-in-cheek.  I believe it was Isaac Asimov who said the only way he would believe was if God came down and introduced himself one night.  You are correct that God has the power to do that, but it's also egotistical to say "GOd must meet my demands".

giving you the only level of proof for a certain historical event that would be acceptable to them (time machine)- meaning, there is no "evidence" that would convince them.  I don't see a problem with that


The most obvious problem would be, how does one literally create, out of thin air, a standard of evidence, for example a time machine, or that they would have to view the disputed event themselves in order to believe it, all the while realizing those burdens of proof CANNOT be met?  When someone makes a claim of proof that cannot be met, it's a sure sign the person really isn't interested in the evidence, it's a safety valve.  It's just not rational.

what evidence for Jesus' resurrection could there be?


One that historians use all the time:  eyewitness testimony.  Surely you're not going to throw that away and invoke a time machine are you ?

Different claims require different levels of proof, depending on the claim.


Give us an example.

I think I may have misunderstood what you were trying to get at though- can you explain a little more what average atheists disagree with that they should agree with if they were open-minded and willing to accept evidence?


Sure.  Here's one that makes the rounds all the time, even in the debate with Professor Krauss; did Jesus exist?  Of course, real scholars, like Bart Ehrman, don't make that claim.  What do you think?


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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2011, 07:06:53 pm »

ReasonableJeff wrote: If the juror had not heard anything about the case, and wasn't able to form an opinion about it previously, yes- I'd say it would be an example of extraordinary closed-mindedness, a complete refusal to consider evidence.  But that's not a very good analogy for people who might have good, rational reasons to not believe something.  I actually agree with you on the global warming deniers- most of them have been fed false information and may have formed their opinions based on biases against environmentalists.  But to just assume that anyone who finds the story of the flood a bit hard to swallow is just turning a blind eye to evidence... is a bit of a stretch.  However, there are of course closed minded people all over the place.  It's human nature, regardless of belief or unbelief in a deity. Thanks for the comments.

That's true of course that close minded people are to be found everywhere.  My background includes a four year tour in the US Navy, public school teacher, court house clerk and now I work at a radio station.  Yes, they're all over the place!


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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2011, 12:58:39 pm »
gleaner63 wrote: I agree in general with what you're saying.  I didn't mean to imply the only reason people disagreed was because of their biases, but that it was a part of it.  As an example, I don't think you'll hear Richard Dawkins admit to a bias; rather he'll cloak it in something like "I'm just followiong the evidence where it leads me"

So what biases do you think Richard Dawkins refuses to admit, and what are the consequences?  (i.e., do you think that he refuses to believe solid evidence that might disprove evolution, because he has so much invested in the idea?)

That's odd.  I thought the tone of your post was snarky .

Oh, the tone of my post absolutely was snarky  I wasn't trying to be rude though, so I apologize if I came across that way.  I didn't mean your tone was bad, just that it gave me the impression that you would disagree with my responses (that you ended up agreeing with).

Well, one obvious problem would be that it might not have been tounge-in-cheek.  I believe it was Isaac Asimov who said the only way he would believe was if God came down and introduced himself one night.  You are correct that God has the power to do that, but it's also egotistical to say "GOd must meet my demands".

God (if He exists) doesn't have to do anything as far as I'm concerned- but if He wants me to believe in Him, He's gotta at least give me something to go on.  It's not like I haven't asked Him nicely (years ago).  It is absolutely unreasonable to require me to suspend reason and blindly follow one religion out of many made up ones, just because I happen to be born into circumstances where Christianity is the most predominant religion.

I can't respect any god that would require me to abandon my (limited) powers of reason that it supposedly gave me in no other case except when it comes to my belief in its existence.  


The most obvious problem would be, how does one literally create, out of thin air, a standard of evidence, for example a time machine, or that they would have to view the disputed event themselves in order to believe it, all the while realizing those burdens of proof CANNOT be met?  When someone makes a claim of proof that cannot be met, it's a sure sign the person really isn't interested in the evidence, it's a safety valve.  It's just not rational.

I'm not unreasonable (just look at my user name...).  Give me some standard of proof that you think I should accept, and I'll explain to you why I do or don't accept it.  If you ask someone that doesn't believe something, what evidence they would accept, what do you expect them to say?  They've either thought about and rejected the possibility of the existence of God (which I presume we're talking about here), or they haven't thought about it at all and have no reason to positively believe in something they don't have any reason to believe in.  Do you believe in Ankamore?  Probably not, and you probably don't have a reason to.  It's basically the same for me (and probably at least some atheists) with God.

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what evidence for Jesus' resurrection could there be?


One that historians use all the time:  eyewitness testimony.  Surely you're not going to throw that away and invoke a time machine are you ?

I don't see that as sufficient evidence for the truth of the resurrection.  I see it as evidence that either 1- different people really did believe that Jesus was resurrected and told stories about it, or 2- it was deliberately made up by devout followers of Jesus to further the cause (no doubt, with good intentions).  Miraculous "Faith healings" take place all the time (and are then subsequently found to be completely fraudulent), UFO sightings happen all the time (and yet we still don't have decent real evidence for extraterrestrial spacecraft), mass hallucinations have been documented throughout history, and yes, deliberate re-writing of history takes place all the time in order to either blame one group, exonerate another group, or advance a cause.  How can a fairly small group of authors from 2000 years ago, writing down stories passed on to them from uneducated peasants from a different land, be taken as "evidence" for the veracity of the claims in those writings?    

That being said... I do think that there is historical evidence that Jesus was a man that lived and was crucified, and it seems he believed he was destined to be a/the messiah and then convinced at least some others that he was.  I believe he did do certain things as described in the writings of the NT (probably overturned the money changers' tables in the temple, for instance, and probably deliberately did some things like riding into Jerusalem on a donkey or a colt or both just in order to fulfill prophecy).  But there is a lot I don't believe- namely, any of the supernatural things (miracles, resurrection, healings, etc).  I think it's likely that the authors wrote down an oral tradition that was handed down for decades, that had been embellished over time, and they added their own flair, depending on what they thought the message should be.  That's what it looks like to me- that's where historical "evidence" leads me (although I admit I'm not a historical scholar).

I don't believe the testimonies that miracles or supernatural events happened any more than I believe any other claims that completely contradict our shared and testable experience and understanding of this universe.


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Different claims require different levels of proof, depending on the claim.


Give us an example.

If I said I flew on an airplane yesterday, how much proof would you require before you believed me?  Maybe none at all- you might just take my word for it.  Or, if you were skeptical you might ask to see my boarding pass.  In a legal proceeding, one might subpoena the passenger manifest to show even more evidence.  Contrast any of those with the level of proof you'd probably require from me if I said I flew on the space shuttle yesterday.  Or that I flew on an alien spacecraft.  Or if I said I teleported myself to Mars to v
   isit with Abraham Lincoln who is vacationing there.

The amount of proof we require in order to believe depends on personal factors (personal biases, proclivity for skepticism, mental deficiencies, mood, etc); previous knowledge and indirectly supporting evidence (I've experienced, and understand gravity to be pretty consistent, so if you say you can levitate unassisted I'd probably require quite a bit of proof and investigation); and on the perceived credibility of the person making a claim (I would tend to believe Richard Dawkins when he makes a claim about evolutionary biology, unless it's wildly inconsistent with my previous knowledge and supporting evidence).


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I think I may have misunderstood what you were trying to get at though- can you explain a little more what average atheists disagree with that they should agree with if they were open-minded and willing to accept evidence?


Sure.  Here's one that makes the rounds all the time, even in the debate with Professor Krauss; did Jesus exist?  Of course, real scholars, like Bart Ehrman, don't make that claim.  What do you think?


I haven't watched that particular debate (well, a little, but it seemed like the typical debate where Craig argued his standard arguments and Krauss probably didn't look very good or bumbled his arguments- which is frustrating because Craig has been arguing basically the same thing since I think the 70's and you'd think his opponents could at least take the time to do a little background research and come up with decent answers... but whatever).  

Anyhow, I don't know if Krauss really doubts that Jesus existed, he apparently said that there were historians who doubted that Jesus existed, which I'm not sure is very accurate.  I agree with you that Bart Ehrman is much more qualified to speak to the historical evidence for Jesus' existence, and he believes Jesus existed.  If Krauss really does believe Jesus didn't exist, he probably hasn't done that much research on that particular subject.

But let's not put up straw men here- this one example of someone speaking a bit out of their lane does not imply that "the average atheist" would completely disregard genuine evidence for the existence of God.

Thanks for the response!

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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2011, 05:54:17 pm »
Reasonable Jeff:

   Thanks for your last, thoughtful responses, I'll let your statements be the last in our "mini-debate" .

Take Care,

Gleaner63


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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2011, 09:18:08 am »
gleaner63 wrote: Reasonable Jeff:

   Thanks for your last, thoughtful responses, I'll let your statements be the last in our "mini-debate" .

Take Care,

Gleaner63


Fair enough, completely understandable- my posts tend to grow in length proportional to the duration of the conversation, so your good judgement has undoubtedly saved us both a lot of time!

Thanks for helping me to think more critically about my positions,

Take care, -Jeff

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Alexander

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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2011, 02:54:30 pm »
gleaner63 wrote:
   I once talked with an atheist and asked that if Noah's Ark was discovered, would he then become a believer?  His response was "no, all you would have discovered was a boat.  Period."


Is he wrong? Let's say that somehow we found the ark without any doubts, what would these actually prove? It would prove that Noah had an ark. It wouldn't prove that God had anything to do with it anymore than it would be saying if we find the bodies at Jonestown would you now be a believer? Atheists don't think that everything in the Bible is a lie, we just don't believe in the supernatural aspects. There very well may have been a man made Noah who built an ark, I really don't know, but I don't see any reason to believe that he built this ark for a global flood (that would seem to defy the laws that were fine-tuned for our universe, mind you) that was done by a super natural being to wipe his creation off the earth.


   Let's look at another widely disputed event from the OT, that of the Exodus.  The lack of evidence for this event, especially in the Egyptian records, leads many to say it didn't happen.  But even if it could be proven, the "fall back" position for the atheist would be "...so what?  Does the migration of hundreds of thousands of slaves require a diety?".


Again, showing that this event actually happened wouldn't actually do much for your case. Most atheists are unaware of the lack of evidence for this event when they "de-convert." For me personally, I just assumed that these were historical events. Whether or not it happened has very little to do with the supernatural aspects of the event. So, the real question is, why do you continue to believe it without any evidence?

   The "unbelief" of the average atheist is not really about evidence at all, it's really about a built in bias, one that they want to protect at all costs.  I have had these conversations with atheists all to many times to believe that the verification of the historical events of the OT would make *any* difference at all.  If you don't believe me, just go to any atheist blog and pose the question.  The Red Sea may have parted, but surely it wasn't GOd that did it.  That would be a typical aresponse.


It has nothing to do with a bias, when I became a "de-convert" I had a bias in favor for Christianity. I didn't want to "give up" eternal life and happiness, but I couldn't honestly believe that Christianity was true anymore. You can't believe something that you don't. The end of your paragraph is a terrible straw man. I have never heard an atheist say, "The Red Sea" may have parted but...and how would you go about proving that such a thing happened? It sounds like you are the one with the bias that is getting in the way of your better judgement.
 
Let me use two modern examples that will help illustrate this.  Show a skeptic a flight log by a military pilot that he visually spotted and chased a UFO.  The invariable first query will always be "...did they pick the UFO up on radar...?".  If you respond no, they will retort, "...see, if it was a solid, mechanical object, they would have picked it up on their radar...".  Now, when you point out a similar case, of a pilot who made a vivual ID and painted the target on radar, the response then becomes "...radar is unreliable...".  Tell them the UFO was "painted" by *five* seperate radar systems, including gound and air.  The response now becomes "...so what...".  But do you see what is happening here?


What would the proper response be in such a case? Should we blindly believe him? It is an interesting story that is worthy of investigation, but if all we have is the say so of the pilot then we have nothing. With no additional evidence the only rational position is skepticism.
 
 I asked an atheist on another blog what proof he required for the ressurection and he said "...a time machine...".  Another said he would "...have to see it with his own eyes...".  Another said "...when God comes down from heaven and introduces himself to me then I will believe he exists...".
   No proof will be enough for the hardcore atheist....and *they* know this, they just refuse to admit it.


This is a bit disingenuous of you. For me, I would require the same evidence that Jesus thought was warranted to prove he resurrected. What did he do to prove his case? He showed himself to people to show that he had in fact resurrected, and this is always mentioned in Dr. Craig's case for the resurrection. Why is this unreasonable? Jesus thought it was necessary and so do I. Surely you can understand that you can't prove such an extraordinary claim merely by saying that it was written down years after the fact. That is preposterous and not something I can believe.

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« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2011, 08:44:13 pm »

Alexander wrote: Is he wrong? Let's say that somehow we found the ark without any doubts, what would these actually prove? It would prove that Noah had an ark. It wouldn't prove that God had anything to do with it anymore than it would be saying if we find the bodies at Jonestown would you now be a believer? Atheists don't think that everything in the Bible is a lie, we just don't believe in the supernatural aspects. There very well may have been a man made Noah who built an ark, I really don't know, but I don't see any reason to believe that he built this ark for a global flood (that would seem to defy the laws that were fine-tuned for our universe, mind you) that was done by a super natural being to wipe his creation off the earth.

In the particular conversation about Noah's Ark that I referenced, it was meant to illustrate the actual intent and motivation of the person asking the question.  If the ark isn't there, the answer would be "...see, that proves the Bible is in error, and therefore God doesn't exist...".  If the ark was discovered, the response would then be "...so what, that doesn't *prove* the Bible is correct or that God exists...".  The point is why would a person be overly concerned about a particular piece of evidence that, in the end, wouldn't matter one way or the other?  That's where the actual sincerity of the individual can be called into question.  A good example of this is the jury selection process used in our legal system.  Quite obviously, a prosecuter, if he was going to seek the death penalty, would need to know, and would certainly ask a prospective juror what their feelings were on the death penalty.  If the potential juror respnded that "under no circumstances whatsoever" could they agree with the death penalty, that prosecuter would rightly know this person's decision would no longer depend on any evidence presented in the court room, but rather would revolve on a pre-existing bias.

Alexander wrote: Again, showing that this event actually happened wouldn't actually do much for your case.


Depending on what "case" are referring to, it would certainly help the idea that the OT documents are historically accurate, at least in regard to that particular story.  But it would hurt your case.

Alexander wrote: Most atheists are unaware of the lack of evidence for this event when they "de-convert."


The educated atheists are very aware of it, as the topic comes up quite often.

Alexander wrote: For me personally, I just assumed that these were historical events. Whether or not it happened has very little to do with the supernatural aspects of the event. So, the real question is, why do you continue to believe it without any evidence?


What makes you think, based on what I've written here, that I accept it as such?  There are numerous positions on this subject, by theists and non theists alike.

Alexander wrote: It has nothing to do with a bias, when I became a "de-convert" I had a bias in favor for Christianity. I didn't want to "give up" eternal life and happiness, but I couldn't honestly believe that Christianity was true anymore.


I think that EGreg and Reasonable Jeff might not agree that you can operate without a bias.  Perhaps you are not aware of them?  If you operate without a bias.....that makes you a very unique individual.

Alexander wrote: You can't believe something that you don't.


Depends on what you are talking about.

Alexander wrote: The end of your paragraph is a terrible straw man. I have never heard an atheist say, "The Red Sea" may have parted but...and how would you go about proving that such a thing happened? It sounds like you are the one with the bias that is getting in the way of your better judgement.


I have freely admitted my bias; no problems at all with saying that.  I believe it was Isaac Asimov who said the parting of the Red Sea may have been a real event; only it was caused by natrual forces and thus misinterpreted by the Israelites.

Alexander wrote: What would the proper response be in such a case? Should we blindly believe him?


No one should ever "blindly" believe anyone, including you and me.

Alexander wrote: It is an interesting story that is worthy of investigation, but if all we have is the say so of the pilot then we have nothing. With no additional evidence the only rational position is skepticism.


You have eyewitness testimony, from a highly qualified individual.  You can't just simply toss it out because you don't like what he said.  *You* weren't there, and he was.  That single fact, all by itself, means that the opinion of the pilot would carry a greater weight than yours.  Further, I'll assume you aren't an expert in any of the related fields (I'm not either), including radar propagation.  I'll also assume you done no independent investigation of this particular case, or that you couldn't be certified in a court of law as an expert witness.  And yet, despite all of that, you have a "position" on this matter, and in your mind it's the *only* viable position to hold.  That doesn't make you a skeptic; it makes you a heckler.  How would you look, under questioning on a witness stand in this instance?  No one, in their right mind, would give you any credibility.

Alexander wrote: This is a bit disingenuous of you.


Not at all.  Those are all positions of known atheists.  I believe it was PZ Myers who said that *No evidence* would convince him of God's existence, while Professor Jerry Coyne took him to task took over that remark.  Your argument should be with them, not me.

Alexander wrote: For me, I would require the same evidence that Jesus thought was warranted to prove he resurrected. What did he do to prove his case? He showed himself to people to show that he had in fact resurrected, and this is always mentioned in Dr. Craig's case for the resurrection. Why is this unreasonable? Jesus thought it was necessary and so do I. Surely you can understand that you can't prove such an extraordinary claim merely by saying that it was written down years after the fact. That is preposterous and not something I can believe.


No problem.  So what evidence would prove the resurection to you?



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Alexander

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« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2011, 08:21:16 pm »
gleaner63 wrote: In the particular conversation about Noah's Ark that I referenced, it was meant to illustrate the actual intent and motivation of the person asking the question.  If the ark isn't there, the answer would be "...see, that proves the Bible is in error, and therefore God doesn't exist...".  If the ark was discovered, the response would then be "...so what, that doesn't *prove* the Bible is correct or that God exists...".  


Again I ask, is that wrong? Do you think finding the ark would prove God exists? I don't think that disproving one story from the Bible proves God doesn't exist.


Depending on what "case" are referring to, it would certainly help the idea that the OT documents are historically accurate, at least in regard to that particular story.  But it would hurt your case.


No, it wouldn't. Showing that a flood happened would do very little for anyone. It is perfectly plausible to imagine a normal flood occurring that appeared to the people at the time to be global, which could generate such a story. Showing that a global flood happened, on the other hand, would help your case greatly. But finding an ark (not sure how you could determine that it was actually Noah's) would not prove that a global flood occurred. If someone could prove that a global flood occurred, which could only happen by a miracle, then you would have an interesting point.


The educated atheists are very aware of it, as the topic comes up quite often.


I'm not sure if you are doing this on purpose, but it seems like you are avoiding what I am actually saying in most of your responses. I said that most are unaware of it when they de-convert, meaning that they aren't aware of this fact until they are already atheists. I am aware of it now, but I wasn't when I initially left Christianity, so it doesn't follow that providing evidence for this event should change my position.


What makes you think, based on what I've written here, that I accept it as such?  There are numerous positions on this subject, by theists and non theists alike.


It seemed implicit in your words, but if you don't then I apologize for assuming. So, do you accept it as such? Or are you just posturing for no reason?


I think that EGreg and Reasonable Jeff might not agree that you can operate without a bias.  Perhaps you are not aware of them?  If you operate without a bias.....that makes you a very unique individual.

I think you misunderstood what I said. I had a bias, but it was a bias for Christianity, not against it, but I simply couldn't believe in it anymore.

Depends on what you are talking about.

I don't believe in God. I can't merely "choose" to believe otherwise. I'm an atheist because it is what I sincerely believe.



I have freely admitted my bias; no problems at all with saying that.  I believe it was Isaac Asimov who said the parting of the Red Sea may have been a real event; only it was caused by natrual forces and thus misinterpreted by the Israelites.

One atheist saying it does not make it a common claim among atheists, and you didn't answer my question about how such a thing could be proven? I don't know of anyway to do so so it really is a non-issue to me.



No one should ever "blindly" believe anyone, including you and me.

Which is why I asked the question, what is the proper response in such a case? Since you seem to have a problem with the way skeptics respond. I don't see any other option in such a case.


You have eyewitness testimony, from a highly qualified individual.  You can't just simply toss it out because you don't like what he said.  *You* weren't there, and he was.  That single fact, all by itself, means that the opinion of the pilot would carry a greater weight than yours.  Further, I'll assume you aren't an expert in any of the related fields (I'm not either), including radar propagation.  I'll also assume you done no independent investigation of this particular case, or that you couldn't be certified in a court of law as an expert witness.  And yet, despite all of that, you have a "position" on this matter, and in your mind it's the *only* viable position to hold.  That doesn't make you a skeptic; it makes you a heckler.  How would you look, under questioning on a witness stand in this instance?  No one, in their right mind, would give you any credibility.

It doesn't matter. If there isn't anything that we can observe, test or point lasers at, then there is nothing we can really do other than say "dunno." Maybe it was an alien space craft, but just from his say so there isn't a way to prove that. Incredulity and skepticism, or perhaps "agnosticism," is the only possible position. You are making quite a jump with your "heckler" and "witness stand" points which don't accurately portray my position. I don't have to have any credibility because there is nothing to discredit. There is, at best, one man telling us about something he can't explain. This isn't enough to tell us what happened. Am I wrong? What would your position be in such a case?


Not at all.  Those are all positions of known atheists.  I believe it was PZ Myers who said that *No evidence* would convince him of God's existence, while Professor Jerry Coyne took him to task took over that remark.  Your argument should be with them, not me.

It is disingenuous when taken out of context. I'm not sure what exactly PZ Myers, but I could say something similar. There is no evidence that could convince me in the sense that I have heard every argument for God that I could possibly get my hands on and none of them have been convincing. There would have be something new, and realistically speaking I don't think such evidence is coming. It's hard to show empirical evidence for something that is supposed to exist outside of space and time.


No problem.  So what evidence would prove the resurection to you?

The same evidence that Jesus thought was required; him appearing to me or some sort of personal revelation.


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« Reply #23 on: July 18, 2011, 09:54:59 pm »
Alexander wrote: Again I ask, is that wrong? Do you think finding the ark would prove God exists?


You are right, it wouldn't be wrong, but that isn't the point I was making.  The point was the sincerity of the person asking the question, and it's a pretty simple thing to grasp.  IF the question of the existence of Noah's Ark could be answered in the affirmative, the Christian would then be forced to prove the Exodus story, and then the Garden of Eden...and finally...and this is the clincher..."...who created God...?"  If you don't think there are plenty of atheists who use this sort of tactic, you aren't paying attention.

Alexander wrote: I don't think that disproving one story from the Bible proves God doesn't exist.


It would cast considerable doubt on the validity of the Bible.

Alexander wrote: No, it wouldn't. Showing that a flood happened would do very little for anyone.


Showing a universal flood, which seems to be what a literal interpretation of the bible demands could only help the case of the Christian.  How could it not?  

Alexander wrote: It is perfectly plausible to imagine a normal flood occurring that appeared to the people at the time to be global, which could generate such a story. Showing that a global flood happened, on the other hand, would help your case greatly. But finding an ark (not sure how you could determine that it was actually Noah's) would not prove that a global flood occurred. If someone could prove that a global flood occurred, which could only happen by a miracle, then you would have an interesting point.


Even if a global flood happened, even if it could be geologically proven, the only processes that you could study...would be natural forces.  It would not convince most skeptics.  The narrative would go something like this; "...okay, so there was a once in a billion years global flood.  So what?  Rain, floods, climate change...ALL of those forces are natural, not supernatural...NO GOD required..".

Alexander wrote: I'm not sure if you are doing this on purpose, but it seems like you are avoiding what I am actually saying in most of your responses. I said that most are unaware of it when they de-convert, meaning that they aren't aware of this fact until they are already atheists. I am aware of it now, but I wasn't when I initially left Christianity, so it doesn't follow that providing evidence for this event should change my position.


It's hard to be aware of all the issues, so it's no big deal .

Alexander wrote: It seemed implicit in your words, but if you don't then I apologize for assuming. So, do you accept it as such? Or are you just posturing for no reason?


I have many questions about my faith, as you should about your lack of faith.  So you need to answer a similar question;  are you just posting on this board for no reason?

Alexander wrote: I think you misunderstood what I said. I had a bias, but it was a bias for Christianity, not against it, but I simply couldn't believe in it anymore.

So, now that you have "de-converted", your biases have magically disapeared?  Your now just a regular, bias free individual?  I'm sorry, I don't believe you.

Alexander wrote: I don't believe in God. I can't merely "choose" to believe otherwise. I'm an atheist because it is what I sincerely believe.

No problem at all with that position.

Alexander wrote: One atheist saying it does not make it a common claim among atheists, and you didn't answer my question about how such a thing could be proven? I don't know of anyway to do so so it really is a non-issue to me.

Okay...but it is an issue to at least a few educated atheists.

Alexander wrote: Which is why I asked the question, what is the proper response in such a case? Since you seem to have a problem with the way skeptics respond. I don't see any other option in such a case.

I have no problem with real skeptics who do their homework, like for example Bart Ehrman, from the University of North Carolina...I don't agree with his conclusions, but I have respect for his scholarship.

Alexander wrote: It doesn't matter.

Yes, it DOES matter.  How in the world can you just say evidence, or various types of evidence don't matter?  Do you have your own "Rules of Evidence" manual that no one else knows about?

Alexander wrote: If there isn't anything that we can observe...

But UFOs HAVE been observed..in the air, on the ground, in the ocean...on radar.

Alexander wrote: test or point lasers at, then there is nothing we can really do other than say "dunno." Maybe it was an alien space craft, but just from his say so there isn't a way to prove that. Incredulity and skepticism, or perhaps "agnosticism," is the only possible position. You are making quite a jump with your "heckler" and "witness stand" points which don't accurately portray my position. I don't have to have any credibility because there is nothing to discredit. There is, at best, one man telling us about something he can't explain. This isn't enough to tell us what happened. Am I wrong? What would your position be in such a case?

That of an open minded skeptic...in most cases, being neutral, but you make a good point.

Alexander wrote: It is disingenuous when taken out of context. I'm not sure what exactly PZ Myers, but I could say something similar. There is no evidence that could convince me in the sense that I have heard every argument for God that I could possibly get my hands on and none of them have been convincing. There would have be something new, and realistically speaking I don't think such evidence is coming. It's hard to show empirical evidence for something that is supposed to exist outside of space and time.

I don't think I quoted PZ out of context, or professor Coyne's response.

Alexander wrote: The same evidence that Jesus thought was required; him appearing to me or some sort of personal revelation.


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Alexander

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2011, 07:13:02 pm »
gleaner63 wrote:
You are right, it wouldn't be wrong, but that isn't the point I was making.  The point was the sincerity of the person asking the question, and it's a pretty simple thing to grasp.  IF the question of the existence of Noah's Ark could be answered in the affirmative, the Christian would then be forced to prove the Exodus story, and then the Garden of Eden...and finally...and this is the clincher..."...who created God...?"  If you don't think there are plenty of atheists who use this sort of tactic, you aren't paying attention.


These all sound like relevant questions if you want to try and find out what is really true.


It would cast considerable doubt on the validity of the Bible.


Sure, but how many Christians today still take every story to be literally true?


Showing a universal flood, which seems to be what a literal interpretation of the bible demands could only help the case of the Christian.  How could it not?  


Yes, but proving that any flood happened, would do nothing. Proving a global flood would in fact be very interesting and at the very least would suggest we don't know as much as we think.


Even if a global flood happened, even if it could be geologically proven, the only processes that you could study...would be natural forces.  It would not convince most skeptics.  The narrative would go something like this; "...okay, so there was a once in a billion years global flood.  So what?  Rain, floods, climate change...ALL of those forces are natural, not supernatural...NO GOD required..".


If it could be shown that such a flood can not happen naturally, which is the case I'm pretty sure, and it could be shown definitively that such a flood did occur, then the conclusion that something outside of physical laws happened. Now, jumping from this to "Christianity is the one true religion" doesn't necessarily follow. But it would be cause to investigate further or try and find out how such a flood could occur.


I have many questions about my faith, as you should about your lack of faith.  So you need to answer a similar question;  are you just posting on this board for no reason?


Are you purposely avoiding my questions and changing the subject?

Questions about my "lack of faith" are really just questions about trying to learn more about the world around us. I don't really have doubts at the moment about whether or not I should be a Christian.

I post for a reason, yes.

So, now that you have "de-converted", your biases have magically disapeared?  Your now just a regular, bias free individual?  I'm sorry, I don't believe you.


If you cannot address what I am actually saying then I'm not going to continue to respond to you.

I have no problem with real skeptics who do their homework, like for example Bart Ehrman, from the University of North Carolina...I don't agree with his conclusions, but I have respect for his scholarship.


You are still avoiding my questions. What is the proper response in the example you provided?

Yes, it DOES matter.  How in the world can you just say evidence, or various types of evidence don't matter?  Do you have your own "Rules of Evidence" manual that no one else knows about?


Philosophers of Science have rules, and they are rather public. If all you have is the word of one man there just isn't anything you can do. How would you go about confirming that it was an alien spacecraft?

But UFOs HAVE been observed..in the air, on the ground, in the ocean...on radar.

The, obvious, problem here is that these objects are unidentified. Having an unidentified object does not show us that aliens are visiting us. Maybe we are being visited by aliens, but there is no way to confirm this based on the current data.

That of an open minded skeptic...in most cases, being neutral, but you make a good point.


Open minded skepticism is exactly what I am talking about.

Alexander wrote: The same evidence that Jesus thought was required; him appearing to me or some sort of personal revelation.

Did you mean to respond to this?

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2011, 10:57:37 pm »
Alexander wrote: These all sound like relevant questions if you want to try and find out what is really true.


I agree.

Alexander wrote: Sure, but how many Christians today still take every story to be literally true?


I guess there are some who do of course; the opinions among Christians vary widely.

Alexander wrote: Yes, but proving that any flood happened, would do nothing. Proving a global flood would in fact be very interesting and at the very least would suggest we don't know as much as we think.


I agree

Alexander wrote: If it could be shown that such a flood can not happen naturally, which is the case I'm pretty sure, and it could be shown definitively that such a flood did occur, then the conclusion that something outside of physical laws happened. Now, jumping from this to "Christianity is the one true religion" doesn't necessarily follow. But it would be cause to investigate further or try and find out how such a flood could occur.


Maybe.

Alexander wrote: Are you purposely avoiding my questions and changing the subject?


Nope. haven't avoided anything you've asked.

Alexander wrote: Questions about my "lack of faith" are really just questions about trying to learn more about the world around us. I don't really have doubts at the moment about whether or not I should be a Christian.  I post for a reason, yes.


So do I...but you raised the issue, not me.

Alexander wrote: If you cannot address what I am actually saying then I'm not going to continue to respond to you


Now it's you that is avoiding the questions:  did your bias vanish after you deconverted?

Alexander wrote: You are still avoiding my questions. What is the proper response in the example you provided?


If I was you, and had no expertise in any related field, and had not investigated the incident at all, the "proper" response would be to remain neutral, or just say "I don't know".

Alexander wrote: Philosophers of Science have rules, and they are rather public. If all you have is the word of one man there just isn't anything you can do. How would you go about confirming that it was an alien spacecraft?


Quite simple; if the performance of the UFO exceeded by a wide margin any known aircraft of Earth manufacture, the deduction would be the craft cannot have originated anywhere on our home planet.

Alexander wrote: The, obvious, problem here is that these objects are unidentified. Having an unidentified object does not show us that aliens are visiting us. Maybe we are being visited by aliens, but there is no way to confirm this based on the current data.

I wasn't aware you had a TOP SECRET or ABOVE TOP SECRET security clearance.  You're honestly going to sit here and try to convince me that you are aware of all the data pertaining to UFOs?  I mean really ?

Alexander wrote: Open minded skepticism is exactly what I am talking about.


Agree 100%.

Alexander wrote: Did you mean to respond to this?

Not really, just didn't think we could reach an agreement on this issue.


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« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2011, 02:04:19 am »
If you agree with so many of these statements why do drag them out for 3 posts as if you don't agree?

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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2011, 10:32:06 am »
Alexander wrote: If you agree with so many of these statements why do drag them out for 3 posts as if you don't agree?


Because you don't understand subtle points.  On the issue of Noah's Ark; I don't agree 100% with your position or 100% with the standard Christian position.  There's a middle ground.  I agree with you there are problems with the story, geologically, for one.  *But*, that doesn't mean I don't think that issue can, or might be, one day in the future, resolved.  On UFOs. I'm an open-minded skeptic.  *Some* UFOs *might* be vehicles from another world (as Stanton Freidman likes to say. *Some*.  Underline *some* about 100 million times, as Stanton likes to say.  You seem to think there is an either/or.

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2011, 10:50:14 am »
Guys, forget proving religion. My point is that the atheists can go out on a limb and say they have disproofs of some of the stories in the Bible which can be tested.

Like the flood. Disproofs include:

If the flood killed everyone outside the ark, all humans and animals would have a genetic bottleneck in the last 10,000 years, at the same time. But they don't. Moreover, some animals don't seem to have a genetic bottleneck in the last 100,000 years at all. See genetics.

If the flood left only two of most animals alive, then ecosystems with predators and prey could not form, because one or the other would have to die out. It takes a while for prey to produce offspring. I guess we can chalk this one up to some kind of post-flood miracle.

If the flood happened around 2104 BC, as Genesis 11 and Jewish tradition strongly indicate, then it would have wiped out all other civilizations. However, the Egyptians at least, were around and building pyramids before and after the flood. See pyramids of Djoser and Cheops. See carbon dating and other dating methods. See egyptian history.

If the exodus happened, and all the nations heard about it and were afraid, then someone outside the Jewish nation would have written about it. But instead, we don't find any corroboration. Jews say Egyptians didn't want to record their defeats. But their enemies certainly would have wanted to.

If the exodus happened, then Egypt would be devastated and its army decimated. But history shows that Egypt carried on a war with the Hittites for another 50 years after that, and they came to a mutual peace treaty. Why didn't the hittites utterly come and subjugate the devastated empire? The Talmud says that the Egyptian army was unable to recover for a long time.

The tower of Babel must have happened after the flood (otherwise what would be the point), but once again, we find several languages before 2401 BC. Sumerian and early Egyptian are two examples. Jews claim that Hebrew was the first language, but what about Akkadian and Phoenician languages that seem to have preceded it?

I could go on... the point is, if these stories are not true, then where did the content in the Pentateuch really come from?

That's my argument

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2011, 10:54:56 am »
 

I just wrote a post I think outlining my main problem with believing Judaeo - Christian religion. If I ever get past this I can deal more seriously with adopting the presuppositions:


1) The Bible (as canonized by the council of Nicaea) is the self-authenticating, and completely true Word of God


2) Jesus is God's Only Begotten Son, Very God of Very God, sent to earth to fulfill a mission and save all those who believe statement #2 and trust in him (I guess to save them and to guide their subconscious minds as they contemplate the New Testament writings).