John Prytz

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A Dozen Reasons To Question Christianity’s Bona-Fides
« on: October 12, 2016, 06:44:37 am »
You don't believe in Zeus and thousands of other once up-front-and-centre deities. I don't believe in God and thousands of other once up-front-and-centre deities (including Zeus). The actual evidence (or lack thereof) for either and the principle involved are actually exactly the same.

Had you been born 10,000 years ago you'd be singing the praises as a convinced True Believer in one or more of those thousands of other once up-front-and-centre deities. You'd of never heard of Yahweh or Jesus or Allah or Mohammad.

As noted above, throughout recorded history, even up through and including the present, there have been thousands of other once mutually exclusive up-front-and-centre religious deities, as well as currently being but still mutually exclusive up-front-and-centre religious deities. The question obviously arises, why is your one religion and your one deity (assuming you are a monotheist) the be-all-and-end-all of absolute truth? You got competition my friend!

There is no proof or even evidence for any monotheistic deity's existence. If there was then no debate on the question would need to be entered into since we'd all be unified as True Believers in that one be-all-and-end-all of absolute theological truth.

One cannot argue the existence of God (specifically) from morality since God (of the Old Testament) is the most immoral being ever conceived of in any existing literature. "God" and the word "love" or "mercy" or "compassion" just cannot be used in the same sentence.

There's no need to postulate the existence of God in order to explain the existence of life, the Universe and everything since the existence of life, the Universe and everything can be easily accounted for without resorting to any involvement by a supernatural deity.

There's no independent historical or archaeological evidence that any of the major events ever happened, like the Flood or the Exodus or the Battle of Jericho. Further, there's no independent historical or archaeological evidence that any of the major Biblical characters ever existed, like Abraham or Noah or Moses or Joshua or Jonah. To top things all off, the Bible is absolutely full of inconsistencies, contradictions and other logical nonsense.

Prayers and miracles have been debunked. An obvious example is that God can apparently cure all manner of cancers but seems utterly unable to regrow the limbs of amputees. Are the latter less worthy of God's miraculous abilities. Surely both groups of people pray. More to the point, if God is all-powerful, wouldn't it have been better to have ensured that said cancers never got a start in the first place. Prevention is always a better option than cure.

Any personal spiritual experience of your personal God is just that - personal, and therefore subjective and therefore lacks persuasive evidence to convince anyone else. People personally experience and report all manner of strange things. Perhaps brain chemistry and mental states tend to be a more reasonable explanation for 'spiritual' experiences and visions. 

When it comes to theologies, religions and deities, the majority doesn't rule. For example, the actual existence of God isn't up to a democratic vote no matter how many True Believers exist. Even if a billion people believe a foolish thing it's still a foolish thing.

The proof of the Christianity pudding would be in the End Times eating. Jesus said that the End Times would happen within the lifetime of those hearing his words. His intervention (i.e. – Second Coming) should have happened within the lifetime of individuals that Jesus himself addressed. Oops! Be that as it may, well-meaning educated theologians and others (often not quite so well educated) have been saying "Jesus will intervene in the near future" for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years now. If I had a $5 bill for each and every time someone said "Jesus will return in the near future" I'd make Bill Gates look poor! The "near future" never, Never, NEVER seems to arrive. Though I of course won't be around to see it and collect, I'd bet the family farm that our human descendants 500, even 5000 years from now will be saying "Jesus will return in the near future". Don't hold your breath. The Bible was written by humans for humans; ditto every other religious text - unless one can of course produce a certain set of stone tablets but for some mysterious reason, they've gone missing!

The origins of religion have been adequately explained without the need to reference God (or any other deity / deities). Religions collectively have their roots in the purely human need to explain the unexplainable (agency); the desire for an afterlife which you are unable to provide for on your own behalf; and the uniquely human habit of being a habitual storyteller. In fact nearly every time you dream you are making up a fictional story!   

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Re: A Dozen Reasons To Question Christianity’s Bona-Fides
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2016, 07:56:52 pm »
All of this is true, and obviously everyone can see pattern. The sheer amount of debunked and dead gods should make believe in one an irratonal belief. There is always a next attempt, another chance. It's like living during WW2 with strong conviction that Adolf Hitler will apologise for Holocaust and make amends to victims.

I think what you wrote is good in discussion with people who believe just because they used to believe, they don't really think about their faith, they take it for granted. More aware believers can easily reject your objections by simply pointing out that those aren't in fact objections at all. There is number of arguments for the existence of god and I can tell you you didn't really addres any except for personal revelation and you kind of mentioned cosmological and teological one, yet without discernible objections against them.
You see a grammar or spelling error in my post? Feel free to point it out, I'm still learning.

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: A Dozen Reasons To Question Christianity’s Bona-Fides
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2016, 09:57:15 am »
A Dozen Reasons To Question Skepticism Towards Christianity

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You don't believe in Zeus and thousands of other once up-front-and-centre deities. I don't believe in God and thousands of other once up-front-and-centre deities (including Zeus). The actual evidence (or lack thereof) for either and the principle involved are actually exactly the same.

Technically the Bible presents the reader with a distinct Henotheistic view of gods. The God of the Bible is rather the most powerful god, the one God above all other gods. So it's not that other gods don't exist, it's just that their existence is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

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Had you been born 10,000 years ago you'd be singing the praises as a convinced True Believer in one or more of those thousands of other once up-front-and-centre deities. You'd of never heard of Yahweh or Jesus or Allah or Mohammad.

Had you been born 10,000 years ago you wouldn't be a skeptic either. This objection goes both ways.

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As noted above, throughout recorded history, even up through and including the present, there have been thousands of other once mutually exclusive up-front-and-centre religious deities, as well as currently being but still mutually exclusive up-front-and-centre religious deities. The question obviously arises, why is your one religion and your one deity (assuming you are a monotheist) the be-all-and-end-all of absolute truth? You got competition my friend!

How is this anything more than an observation of religious plurality? The presence of alternative truth claims does not negate truth claims, nor the possibility that one of those truth claims are actually correct. The exclusivity of Christianity's truth claim is controversial in our day and age, but this does not mean it is wrong.

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There is no proof or even evidence for any monotheistic deity's existence. If there was then no debate on the question would need to be entered into since we'd all be unified as True Believers in that one be-all-and-end-all of absolute theological truth.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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One cannot argue the existence of God (specifically) from morality since God (of the Old Testament) is the most immoral being ever conceived of in any existing literature. "God" and the word "love" or "mercy" or "compassion" just cannot be used in the same sentence.

And by what objective criteria are we judging God's morality? Where did that criteria come from? Is it absolute? Then how can we be absolutely sure in our judgment of God?

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There's no need to postulate the existence of God in order to explain the existence of life, the Universe and everything since the existence of life, the Universe and everything can be easily accounted for without resorting to any involvement by a supernatural deity.

Then why is it that some of the most significant events in the Universe still puzzle scientists today? If it was easy, where is the Theory of Everything? Somewhere in the future right? "Science will figure it out one day" right? Well, until scientists have everything figured out (which they won't), then there will always be gaps where the existence of God could function as a proper explanatory fact.

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There's no independent historical or archaeological evidence that any of the major events ever happened, like the Flood or the Exodus or the Battle of Jericho. Further, there's no independent historical or archaeological evidence that any of the major Biblical characters ever existed, like Abraham or Noah or Moses or Joshua or Jonah. To top things all off, the Bible is absolutely full of inconsistencies, contradictions and other logical nonsense.

Again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Quote
Prayers and miracles have been debunked. An obvious example is that God can apparently cure all manner of cancers but seems utterly unable to regrow the limbs of amputees. Are the latter less worthy of God's miraculous abilities. Surely both groups of people pray. More to the point, if God is all-powerful, wouldn't it have been better to have ensured that said cancers never got a start in the first place. Prevention is always a better option than cure.

Questioning the rhyme or reason for why there is evil, suffering, and pain in this world accomplishes nothing. Why is there an expectation that God will prevent cancer and restore limbs? Christians do not have these expectations when they go to God in prayer, and ultimately, our physical condition is secondary to our spiritual condition. True healing is an inner healing that restores one's peace of mind and their relationship to God.

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Any personal spiritual experience of your personal God is just that - personal, and therefore subjective and therefore lacks persuasive evidence to convince anyone else. People personally experience and report all manner of strange things. Perhaps brain chemistry and mental states tend to be a more reasonable explanation for 'spiritual' experiences and visions.

If we're equating a profound, awake religious experience with a hallucination, then we can run some numbers. Suppose for argument's sake that there are 7 billion people currently alive right now. Now let's freeze this number. Studies have shown that generally 1 in 20 people experience a hallucination in their lifetime that was NOT the result of an altered state of mind. These hallucinations stem from a cocktail of dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, combined with behavior (stress, sleep depravity, etc) and memory. Okay, so 20% of 7 billion = 1,400,000,000 people. Currently, about 8 in 10 people of the world practice a religion, so let's cut 1.4 billion down to 1,120,000,000.

Now the odds of those 1.12 billion people equating a religious experience to a hallucination is pretty good, but chances are, their so-called "experience" is naturally explicable. For argument's sake, let's say that's 99%. That still gives us 11.2 Million potential cases to investigate further that COULD be supernatural, as in, Science cannot explain what the phenomena was or how it came to be. I'd say of the 7 billion people in the world, 11.2 million of them having a possible supernatural experience is statistically significant, especially since you can't scientifically rule out all of them.


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When it comes to theologies, religions and deities, the majority doesn't rule. For example, the actual existence of God isn't up to a democratic vote no matter how many True Believers exist. Even if a billion people believe a foolish thing it's still a foolish thing.

I absolutely agree. All the more reason to be a Free Thinker. Of course, that depends on how we define Free Thinking. Some people equate Free Thinking with Skepticism, but I define Free Thinking as "not letting one school of thought, ideology, or worldview dominate your epistemology and philosophy." So, suppose one day we get rid of all religion and everyone on Earth is a scientist. Would Physicalism or Humanism be the new True Belief?

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The proof of the Christianity pudding would be in the End Times eating. Jesus said that the End Times would happen within the lifetime of those hearing his words. His intervention (i.e. – Second Coming) should have happened within the lifetime of individuals that Jesus himself addressed. Oops! Be that as it may, well-meaning educated theologians and others (often not quite so well educated) have been saying "Jesus will intervene in the near future" for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years now. If I had a $5 bill for each and every time someone said "Jesus will return in the near future" I'd make Bill Gates look poor! The "near future" never, Never, NEVER seems to arrive. Though I of course won't be around to see it and collect, I'd bet the family farm that our human descendants 500, even 5000 years from now will be saying "Jesus will return in the near future". Don't hold your breath. The Bible was written by humans for humans; ditto every other religious text - unless one can of course produce a certain set of stone tablets but for some mysterious reason, they've gone missing!

People who say Jesus is coming soon are being foolish. Jesus himself said that he did not know the day or hour of his return (Matthew 24:36). The passage at the crux of the Second Coming is Matthew 16:28, but this needs to be interpreted carefully. Jesus is talking about coming into his kingdom. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus consistently defines the Kingdom as something not of this Earth - it is a spiritual kingdom that believers enact by putting the behaviors of Christ into practice. During the 1st century AD, Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire was peeking, and so it's easy to understand why some of the first Christians thought Matthew 16:28 meant that Jesus was going to return as the Messiah to lead the nation of Israel in battle. In fact, the reason why Jews today still don't accept Jesus today is for the exact same reason. This is why Christians affirm that the Second Coming is the event in which Jesus will return to "finish the job" so to speak, and it is during the Second Coming that Jews will accept Christ as the Messiah. It's understandable that a great deal of tension and controversy has resulted from the dichotomy of the Kingdom of Heaven vs Israel as a Messiah-led geopolitical force, and so it requires a great deal of research to fully grasp it. Bart Ehrman definitely errs on the side that Jesus was a "failed Messiah who promised the Apocalypse but never delivered" but Pentecost and the rapid growth of Christianity lends credibility to the idea that Matthew 16:28 implies a spiritual Kingdom of Heaven, not a physical one.

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The origins of religion have been adequately explained without the need to reference God (or any other deity / deities). Religions collectively have their roots in the purely human need to explain the unexplainable (agency); the desire for an afterlife which you are unable to provide for on your own behalf; and the uniquely human habit of being a habitual storyteller. In fact nearly every time you dream you are making up a fictional story!

The concept of agenticity and the argument from anthropology is just one more sentence in the long narrative that promotes the supremacy of a scientific worldview as the Best Explainer of phenomena. However, I would be skeptical of the argument from anthropology for couple reasons.

The first is that the concept of agenticity itself is merely a possible explanation, not the actual explanation. How is it that Michael Shermer came about his conclusions? Surely with observation and testing? Oh wait... he didn't. Agenticity is merely a MODEL of evolutionary psychology, because it lacks the evidence and science to make it a full blown theory. Do I think it's a valuable model? Of course I do, but that doesn't make it the absolute truth, nor does it fully explain ALL conscious religious experience. It merely explains how religious belief could have originated or developed. As beneficial as that one puzzle piece might be, it's not the full picture.

The second is that the argument from anthropology actually fails to stand up to the same regression analysis it applies to religious belief. Let me explain. If agenticity is hardwired into the human brain, then who or what did the hardwiring? The scientist will say "Chance + Time + Nature" according the theory of evolution. Okay great. I guess we can stop there right? Fat chance. What are the prerequisites for evolution to happen? And what was needed for those conditions? If you keep pushing and keep going further back into the past, you're going to run into several distinct events that have yet to be fully explained: the Cambrian Explosion and Abiogenesis. So, the argument from anthropology fails to subvert itself in the hierarchy of explanations. It seeks a short cut to explain away God simply because we can model how thinking about God could have begun.
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