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What good reason is there to believe the Christian God exists? [The Debate Thread]


SkinWalker
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That doesn't tell me anything. I could probably conclude that you assume that polytheistic religions are "wrong" and that monotheistic religions are "right", but I'm not sure why we should assume that.

Yes, indeed I assume that polytheistic religions are wrong. It's in my nature.

 

And there are numerous examples of god taking direct action in the bible. So I'm afraid that argument doesn't help your point.

 

Correct, in the Bible. But I told you, discrepancies and anachronisms over time... Half of them could be exaggerated to convert other people.

 

Does it matter whether or not there are any pagans here? If insulting religions is categorically wrong, then I don't see why it should matter. You've insulted another religion.

 

So be it, you're not a pagan, so I frankly think you don't ever care whether I insult them or not, do you ? I leave judgment upon the pagans.

 

 

 

Okay. But you better hope that you're right and that zeus isn't keeping score.

Trust me, I doubt he is.

 

But allah does "interfere" doesn't he? That's what the whole islam thing is about, isn't it? Submission to allah's will? So clearly you do believe that he "interferes".

He may be interfering without us knowing it. And Islam is not all about Allah interfering, it's following the path that our Prophet has walked.

 

 

 

Why? Why do belief systems deserve special treatment and/or respect?

A'ight. Demolish the Vatican, give Palestina back to the Palestinians. They deserved special treatment, didn't they ? Why not Islam?

Islam is recognized in Belgium, but not supported. I'm sure many other countries do the same...

 

 

 

First, source please?

 

Second, relevance?

You really need a source and relevance? Ethiopia: Poorest country in the world. The Maghreb: Dryness, wars, lack of food. Families in foreign countries live just under the limit of poverty.

Relevance? Seriously, look at Europa and Afrika. Or America and Asia. You know it, but don't admit it.

Look at the churches built by Christians and Mosques by Muslims.

 

 

Hehe, get in line.

We are the line right now, my friend.

 

 

I think the last sentence above in important (and might help to provide context for the others).

Then you didn't read/understand what I've written right before it...

 

 

 

As do most all religions, including yours (see my earlier post with photos).

Already told you that. See previous post.

 

 

 

And this assumption is based on what?

 

Shall we take a look at how non-believers, women, homosexuals, etc are treated in your religion?

Fourty-three of your presidents were WASP's, except one, he's a BASP (Obama). Kennedy had another religion and was a "good" man. He got shot, didn't he ?

 

First, let's see how Believers, women and homosexuals are treated in every country, especially America. Weren't you people against homosexuals? Are you against them?

 

And besides, it is not in religion that women are badly treated, but in countries. My father has never raised a hand on my mother, neither has my uncle on his wife, nor my older cousins, grandfather. Why? Again, read what Mahomet has done to Kadija, to Fatima. That's how WE act.

 

No, a cartoon was published. No "harm" was done to them.

A cartoon breaking one of our most important rules. "Do not publish Allah, nor his Messenger Muhammad or any other Holy being."

Who's insulting who now? So, harm is done to us.

 

 

Which assumes that the Danish cartoonist did something wrong.

Exactly, he did.

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Yes, indeed I assume that polytheistic religions are wrong. It's in my nature.

 

But this doesn't tell me why I (or anyone else) should agree. You seem to think that your "nature" makes it okay, however that isn't a good reason.

 

 

Correct, in the Bible. But I told you, discrepancies and anachronisms over time... Half of them could be exaggerated to convert other people.

 

You're guessing. The point is that such "discrepancies and anachronisms" exist in every holy text (remember our discussion about the winged horse?). If jews and christians are using "exaggerations" to convert other people, then what is it when your religion does it too?

 

 

So be it, you're not a pagan, so I frankly think you don't ever care whether I insult them or not, do you ? I leave judgment upon the pagans.

 

I think it's extremely important that you are being inconsistent in your position. You seem to think that violence is justified when someone "insults" (i.e. draws a cartoon) one of your religious icons, but you think that insulting other people's religious icons are okay. Why? Because you don't think they're real. And I'm okay with that, except for the part where we have no reason to think that yours are real either. And your brethren are willing to riot, injure, and kill over the matter. And you think that's justified.

 

Trust me, I doubt he is.

 

Do you apply the same doubt to your own religious figures? On what basis do you pick and choose?

 

He may be interfering without us knowing it. And Islam is not all about Allah interfering, it's following the path that our Prophet has walked.

 

Nothing you've said here addresses my point.

 

A'ight. Demolish the Vatican, give Palestina back to the Palestinians. They deserved special treatment, didn't they ? Why not Islam?

 

You seem to think that I agree that they deserve special treatment. I do not.

 

You really need a source and relevance?

 

Yes, I absolutely do. If you're going to make a specific claim (i.e. "half of muslims live in poverty"), then I am going to ask to see a source.

 

As for relevance, what does the poverty level of muslims have to do with whether or not islam deserves special treatment? Nothing, so far as I can reason.

 

Ethiopia: Poorest country in the world. The Maghreb: Dryness, wars, lack of food. Families in foreign countries live just under the limit of poverty.

Relevance? Seriously, look at Europa and Afrika. Or America and Asia. You know it, but don't admit it.

Look at the churches built by Christians and Mosques by Muslims.

 

I'm sorry, I guess I just don't see why regional economic issues have anything to do with religion. Perhaps you could enlighten me.

 

 

We are the line right now, my friend.

 

Really? You seriously think that islam is the only belief system in which practioners are persecuted?

 

Then you didn't read/understand what I've written right before it...

 

I think one of us understood what you wrote better than the other ;)

 

Already told you that. See previous post.

 

Indeed. It seems that you've conceded the point several times. However you've also made statement contradictory to that several times as well, hence why I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out exactly which side of the point you are on.

 

Either you recognize that your religion is just as flawed as all the others (the ones you dismiss), or you think it truly is deserving of some sort of special treatment. I'm trying to nail you down to one side of the discussion or the other, but you keep flip-flopping.

 

Fourty-three of your presidents were WASP's, except one, he's a BASP (Obama). Kennedy had another religion and was a "good" man. He got shot, didn't he ?

 

Relevance?

 

First, let's see how Believers, women and homosexuals are treated in every country, especially America. Weren't you people against homosexuals? Are you against them?

 

Indeed, let's look at how these groups are treated. But more imporatantly, let's look at the justifications provided by those that seek to oppress these groups. You want to wager that these justifications are religious in nature?

 

And besides, it is not in religion that women are badly treated, but in countries. My father has never raised a hand on my mother, neither has my uncle on his wife, nor my older cousins, grandfather. Why? Again, read what Mahomet has done to Kadija, to Fatima.

 

See above.

 

That's how WE act.

 

I'm sorry, is this the same "we" that participates in honor killings, etc? Or is that a different "we"?

 

Again, it seems you want to be able to pick and choose which actions represent "true" islam without having to take responsibility for any of the others. The fact is that both faces of islam cite the same sources. You want to blame individuals for "improper interpretation" (without telling me why their interpretation is wrong and not yours). I think the blame lies with the source itself.

 

 

A cartoon breaking one of our most important rules. "Do not publish Allah, nor his Messenger Muhammad or any other Holy being."

Who's insulting who now? So, harm is done to us.

 

Right, one of your rules. Not his. Not mine. Yours.

 

No "harm" was done to anyone. Ink was put on paper. Seriously.

 

Exactly, he did.

 

That is your opinion and nothing more.

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Let's try that in dialog, just to see if it makes any sense:

 

"Why are we here?"

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

 

Forgive me, but I just don't see it.

 

Your input would seem more appropriate to questions of to HOW (!!!) we should conduct ourselves, but I don't see anything related to why we are here.

 

 

As for the golden rule and questions in relations to the "HOW", I agree with that too. But from a philosophical point of view, my own point of view, I believe it to be the "WHY" also. So I guess we will hafta to agree to disagree on that, wouldn't you agree? :D But seriously though, I really believe the golden rule relates to both the "HOW" and "WHY".

 

 

 

And for what it's worth, Kant's categorical imperative carries the same theme, with a superior structure and without any superstitious baggage. So again, why opt for the inferior option?

 

Well I never saw that before, that's kinda interesting. I'm suprised that I never heard of Kant's Categorical Imperative view before until you introduced it to me just recently, thank you sir for the reference.

 

But still.. as for the reasons that I adopt the inferior ver. (The Golden Rule) is because it's simple and direct in it's meaning, from my philosophical point of view only; as I mentioned above.

 

 

So why not follow one of those religions?

 

Well over time those religions became corrupt and lost the true direction in which they were actually meant to go; as most religions do eventually. But some of the philosophies that they incorporate within there teachings do appeal to me, yet I don't accept them as a religion for me; or any religion for that matter, really just the truths that make sense. :) Yes, I know..that's unheard of isn't it?

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the argument for secular humanism :)

 

"Secular Humanism" you say. Well, as a matter of fact...once upon a time..I too followed that way of thinking for a long time without ever hearing of the words "Secular Humanism." The need of proving things only through a scientific method was my belief at one time too. But, as I got older..some of life's experiences force me to change my idea's about that and so it became clear to me that not everything can be explained within the use of the scientific method.

 

 

Although I would agree with some aspects of Secular Humanism, like the search for truth, ethics and building a better world, the scientific method dosen't always help me in a explanation of the many different mysteries that still lurk out there and that the scientific method just cannot explain; and may never explain as well too.

 

 

 

I don't know that I would agree with the "eternal universal truth" part, but I could definitely subscribe to the argument that it's a good idea and that good ideas should be accepted over bad ideas, etc, etc.

 

Well the "eternal universal truth" statement that I associated the "golden rule" with, is from my own philosophical point of view more than anything, yet it can be the idea of a "universal morality" from another point of view as well. And I agree too as for the "good idea" over "bad idea" point you made, can't be wrong with that way of thinking as far as I'm concerned. ;)

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As for the golden rule and questions in relations to the "HOW", I agree with that too. But from a philosophical point of view, my own point of view, I believe it to be the "WHY" also.

 

I'll simply repeat what I said last time:

 

I don't see how

 

Well I never saw that before, that's kinda interesting. I'm suprised that I never heard of Kant's Categorical Imperative view before until you introduced it to me just recently, thank you sir for the reference.

 

But still.. as for the reasons that I adopt the inferior ver. (The Golden Rule) is because it's simple and direct in it's meaning, from my philosophical point of view only; as I mentioned above.

 

No doubt that "the golden rule" works in a majority of situations. The point was that we don't need to have "the golden rule" in order to come to the conclusion it proffers (in fact, we can create a better version). If the argument is "religion is good because it gives us the golden rule", then what happens when we realize that we don't need religion in order to have something that serves the same function? What purpose does religion serve at this point?

 

Well over time those religions became corrupt and lost the true direction in which they were actually meant to go; as most religions do eventually.

 

Based on what? What makes one religion "right" and other religions "wrong"? Please be specific.

 

But some of the philosophies that they incorporate within there teachings do appeal to me, yet I don't accept them as a religion for me; or any religion for that matter, really just the truths that make sense. :) Yes, I know..that's unheard of isn't it?

 

If the philosophies are what appeals to you, then why not simply study philosophy?

 

"Secular Humanism" you say. Well, as a matter of fact...once upon a time..I too followed that way of thinking for a long time without ever hearing of the words "Secular Humanism." The need of proving things only through a scientific method was my belief at one time too. But, as I got older..some of life's experiences force me to change my idea's about that and so it became clear to me that not everything can be explained within the use of the scientific method.

 

Although I would agree with some aspects of Secular Humanism, like the search for truth, ethics and building a better world, the scientific method dosen't always help me in a explanation of the many different mysteries that still lurk out there and that the scientific method just cannot explain; and may never explain as well too.

 

First, I'm not sure why we're conflating "secular humanism" with "scientific method". I'm sure that if we were to do a poll we would find that many secular humanists are science-minded and that many scientists are secular humanists, but there is nothing inherently tying the two groups together. Your implication otherwise is a little confusing.

 

Second, I'm fully willing to accept that there are things that science cannot currently explain and may never be able to explain (string theory springs to mind). However, I'm not sure how "making stuff up" becomes a superior methodology for uncovering "truth" in that void. If you could explain to me what I'm missing here, I think it would be very helpful.

 

Well the "eternal universal truth" statement that I associated the "golden rule" with, is from my own philosophical point of view more than anything, yet it can be the idea of a "universal morality" from another point of view as well. And I agree too as for the "good idea" over "bad idea" point you made, can't be wrong with that way of thinking as far as I'm concerned. ;)

 

I'm certainly glad to hear that we're in agreement on this point.

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The same thing that makes some actions "right" or "wrong".

 

Within moral philosophy, rules of logic can be used to determine "moral" vs "immoral" action. I'm not aware that any such mechanism exists for theology, so I don't agree that it's "the same thing" at all.

 

But, again, feel free to correct me where I am mistaken.

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Morality isn't exclusive of moral philosophy, but also of religion.

 

Religion certainly seeks to participate in moral philosophy, but I don't think they're separate categories as you would seem to want to imply.

 

I would invite you to correct me where I am wrong, however based on the nature of your posts, you don't seem terribly interested in offering any sort of rationale for your arguments.

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No doubt that "the golden rule" works in a majority of situations. The point was that we don't need to have "the golden rule" in order to come to the conclusion it proffers (in fact, we can create a better version).

 

It's always been a simple statement, as a moral guideline for all. One good reason as to why this rule is worded the way it is, is so that the words it conveys can even be understood by the uneducated mind; not just the educated mind only. Creating a better version would just be overkill IMO. I mean why mess with something so simple and to the direct point in it's meaning for those who have a hard time in understanding other complicated statements, that really mean the same thing.

 

 

 

If the argument is "religion is good because it gives us the golden rule", then what happens when we realize that we don't need religion in order to have something that serves the same function? What purpose does religion serve at this point?

 

You'll get no argument from me on this point, I've always believe the rule could stand on it's own without religion. ;)

 

 

 

Based on what? What makes one religion "right" and other religions "wrong"? Please be specific.

 

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear with my statement and I think I mislead you. Actually, I don't believe that any religion is totally right or that one is above the other, just because any of them say so. And I really should have mentioned that, from my point view, all religions have become corrupt over time. Anyway, my bad.

 

 

 

 

If the philosophies are what appeals to you, then why not simply study philosophy?

 

Funny you should mention that, actually I do and have been studying philosophy off and on for quite awhile. :)

 

 

First, I'm not sure why we're conflating "secular humanism" with "scientific method". I'm sure that if we were to do a poll we would find that many secular humanists are science-minded and that many scientists are secular humanists, but there is nothing inherently tying the two groups together. Your implication otherwise is a little confusing.

 

Hmmm. To be honest with you, and for some reason, I got that impression from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

scroll down too "Tenets" and under that look at "Reason, evidence, scientific method", that's where I derived my conclusion about "Secular Humanists" and the "Scientific Method" from. If this is incorrect, and if you could, I would like for you to enlighten me on the this. I would hate to make the wrong assumptions about all this.

 

 

Second, I'm fully willing to accept that there are things that science cannot currently explain and may never be able to explain (string theory springs to mind). However, I'm not sure how "making stuff up" becomes a superior methodology for uncovering "truth" in that void. If you could explain to me what I'm missing here, I think it would be very helpful.

 

When you say "I'm not sure how making stuff up becomes a superior methodology for uncovering truth in that void", do you mean drawing a conclusion from one's own thinking to make sense of the unexplained?

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It's always been a simple statement, as a moral guideline for all. One good reason as to why this rule is worded the way it is, is so that the words it conveys can even be understood by the uneducated mind; not just the educated mind only. Creating a better version would just be overkill IMO.

 

It's already been done :)

 

I mean why mess with something so simple and to the direct point in it's meaning for those who have a hard time in understanding other complicated statements, that really mean the same thing.

 

It doesn't mean the same thing. In a majority of situations it gets you to the same point, but that isn't the same.

 

The "golden rule" has problems that the categorical imperative does not. That someone needs to make a modicum of effort to wrap their head around the categorical imperative doesn't strike me as being a very good excuse to reject it.

 

You'll get no argument from me on this point, I've always believe the rule could stand on it's own without religion. ;)

 

And it does, via the categorical imperative

 

...which, I believe, brings us right back to where we started :)

 

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear with my statement and I think I mislead you. Actually, I don't believe that any religion is totally right or that one is above the other, just because any of them say so. And I really should have mentioned that, from my point view, all religions have become corrupt over time. Anyway, my bad.

 

It's no problem. I'm glad you clarified though, as it makes it much easier for me to understand where you are coming from.

 

Funny you should mention that, actually I do and have been studying philosophy off and on for quite awhile. :)

 

Excellent!

 

May I offer some suggested reading? I found these books to be very illuminating.

 

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Why I Am Not A Christian And Other Essays On Religion And Related Subjects

 

Hmmm. To be honest with you, and for some reason, I got that impression from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

scroll down too "Tenets" and under that look at "Reason, evidence, scientific method", that's where I derived my conclusion about "Secular Humanists" and the "Scientific Method" from. If this is incorrect, and if you could, I would like for you to enlighten me on the this. I would hate to make the wrong assumptions about all this.

 

I see where you're come from now. Secular humanism does indeed promote reason and critical thinking, however I was not aware that they were so blantant in their committment to science. Thank you for pointing that out. :)

 

When you say "I'm not sure how making stuff up becomes a superior methodology for uncovering truth in that void", do you mean drawing a conclusion from one's own thinking to make sense of the unexplained?

 

The glib answer is "yes" :)

 

The slightly more detailed response might sound like this:

 

Drawing a conclusion without the rigorous application of reason and doubt is the exact same things a choosing an "answer" arbitrarily (i.e. because it sounds pretty, makes you feel good about the world, etc).

 

If something is "unexplained", then why not simply acknowledge that it's "unexplained"? If I encounter something that I don't know, I don't feel compelled to fabricate an answer or accept someone else's supernatural "explanation". I try to find the actual answer, and if I find one, great. If I don't, then I try my best to get over it.

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I kant believe we are talking about the CI.

 

Nice :lol:

 

There are, of course, problems with it as well. Ethics are so difficult.

 

Ethics are indeed difficult. Hence why I bristle when people proclaim that religion has "the answer".

 

Just curious, what did any of that have to do with the thread topic?

 

Topic got quasi-derailed into a "why religion is useful" tangent (as tends to happen in these debates).

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Shocked that you laughed.... most of my phil peers roll their eyes on my pun-ishment :D

 

Glad to know how it was derailed... I can give lots of examples of "why religion is useful".... but I might make unhappiness occur. Someone's sig here at LFN says it quite perfectly, something about the wise and the powerful.... and how religion is used by different classes.

 

I have nothing to add here - other than I find absolutely zero REASON to believe that the God posited by the religions of the Book exists, and find it absurdly easy to refute that God. This does not mean that no God exists, but the more man-given attributes are attributed to God, the less likely that that God could be real.

 

I did not say, christian folk, that your God does not exist. I did say that I think he lives in the same neighborhood as Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

 

Utopia FTW!

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It doesn't mean the same thing. In a majority of situations it gets you to the same point, but that isn't the same.

 

Actually, the more I look over Kant's "Categorical Imperative" the more that I see a differance between the two. And it's even acknowledge in this quote from Wikipedia:

 

" The Golden Rule

It is often said that the Categorical Imperative is the same as The Golden Rule. In the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals Kant states that what he is saying is not the same as the Golden Rule; that the Golden Rule is derived from the categorical imperative with limitations. Under the Golden Rule many things cannot be universal. A criminal on the grounds of the Golden Rule could dispute with judges or a man could refuse to give to charity, both of which are incompatible under the universality of the categorical imperative. Kant makes this point when arguing that a man who purposefully breaks a promise is immoral." (Wikipedia)

 

So your right, it really doesn't mean the same thing. And the "golden rule" is more like a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back" definition.

 

 

The "golden rule" has problems that the categorical imperative does not.

 

Okay. Can you give me some examples from your own point of view, as to why the "golden rule" has problems.

 

 

 

That someone needs to make a modicum of effort to wrap their head around the categorical imperative doesn't strike me as being a very good excuse to reject it.

 

Well now don't get me wrong. I wasn't trying to imply, in my earlier statement, that it should be rejected or ignored. But that it might be a little hard to comprehend for some individuals, that's really all that I was indicating. And I don't see any harm at trying to read and understand it, I did, but any individual who does (and can understand it's concept's) should be able to make there own judgement about it; and whether it's right for them or not, etc.

 

 

And it does, via the categorical imperative

 

...which, I believe, brings us right back to where we started :)

 

Yep, agreed, only I say...via "The Golden Rule". :D

 

 

 

Excellent!

 

May I offer some suggested reading? I found these books to be very illuminating.

 

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Why I Am Not A Christian And Other Essays On Religion And Related Subjects

 

 

Thank you. I'm going to take look at these and I think one of them might be in my local library. The first book you suggested looks really interesting too.

 

 

 

I see where you're come from now. Secular humanism does indeed promote reason and critical thinking, however I was not aware that they were so blantant in their committment to science. Thank you for pointing that out. :)

 

Lol. Well there ya go, another mystery solved. I'm glad we were able to figure that out, I was starting to get confused too. :thmbup1:

 

 

 

The glib answer is "yes" :)

 

The slightly more detailed response might sound like this:

 

Drawing a conclusion without the rigorous application of reason and doubt is the exact same things a choosing an "answer" arbitrarily (i.e. because it sounds pretty, makes you feel good about the world, etc).

 

If something is "unexplained", then why not simply acknowledge that it's "unexplained"? If I encounter something that I don't know, I don't feel compelled to fabricate an answer or accept someone else's supernatural "explanation". I try to find the actual answer, and if I find one, great. If I don't, then I try my best to get over it.

 

 

:)Well once again Achilles we are in agreement, except I don't think I could or would get over it. I gotta keep searching for the real answer, that's just me, the truth is out there somewhere. :lol: ( Now I know I made a bad X-Files joke, but I really believe it is.)

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Okay. Can you give me some examples from your own point of view, as to why the "golden rule" has problems.

 

How about starting with the example that you included in the quote above. ;)

 

Re: disputing with judges - under the golden rule, a judge could let a person go because that is how they would want to be treated. Under the categorical imperative, the judge should act in the manner that is just, not in the manner in which they would wish to be treated. Hence why the golden rule has problems that are not present under the categorical imparative.

 

Well now don't get me wrong. I wasn't trying to imply, in my earlier statement, that it should be rejected or ignored. But that it might be a little hard to comprehend for some individuals, that's really all that I was indicating. And I don't see any harm at trying to read and understand it, I did, but any individual who does (and can understand it's concept's) should be able to make there own judgement about it; and whether it's right for them or not, etc.

 

So some people should be excused from morality because the concepts are too difficult for them to comprehend?

 

In fact, let's back up a step further: do you believe that morality is relative? In other words, is it okay to murder someone just because you don't believe (or haven't been told) that it is wrong?

 

Yep, agreed, only I say...via "The Golden Rule". :D

 

My apologies, but this statement doesn't even make any sense. The "golden rule" is a the product of religion. Your argument contains a contradiction.

 

By way of comparision, the categorical imperative is not derived from religion at all.

 

Thank you. I'm going to take look at these and I think one of them might be in my local library. The first book you suggested looks really interesting too.

 

You're welcome. Russell's book is a collection of essays, therefore might be a better place to start. It's been around for a while, so I would be very surprised if your local library didn't have a copy.

 

:)Well once again Achilles we are in agreement, except I don't think I could or would get over it. I gotta keep searching for the real answer, that's just me, the truth is out there somewhere. :lol: ( Now I know I made a bad X-Files joke, but I really believe it is.)

 

Okay, but now I'm even more confused. I don't understand how you can differentiate between a "real" answer and a..."non-real" answer unless you had some process or methodology for identifying the two. Whether you realize it or not, that process is, by it's very nature going to be some flavor of the scientific method.

 

I have no doubt that you sincerely believe that you after the truth. But when you tell me that you're willing to accept a made up "answer" just because it allows you to "fill a blank space on a page" (using a metaphor here), then I have to think that you're falling short of your own ideals. Sometimes the "truth" is "insufficient data". That's just a fact of life.

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How about starting with the example that you included in the quote above. ;)

 

Re: disputing with judges - under the golden rule, a judge could let a person go because that is how they would want to be treated. Under the categorical imperative, the judge should act in the manner that is just, not in the manner in which they would wish to be treated. Hence why the golden rule has problems that are not present under the categorical imparative.

 

 

Really, I see problems in Kant's "categorical imperative" too - pertaining to that. For instance.......

 

What if a man is unemployed and cannot find a job, meanwhile he goes around begging for food because he and his family are starving. Yet none that he asks will give him any, so he trys to steal the food. But he is caught stealing the food for himself and his family, so he is brought before the court to be judged and is incarcerated. Because the judge should act in a manner that is just, according to Kant's "categorical imperative". How would this so-called "just manner", that the judge has done, actually be morally correct and truly the right thing to do compared to the "golden rule"?

 

Now you put yourself in that judge's position, with the current scenario I just described to you, while believing in Kant's "categorical imperative" Would you do it then? I'll bet 10 to 1 that if we took a poll on this current scenario, people would go the way of the "golden rule" (unless they are just plain heartless); because it is the real moral thing to do, to let the man go and drop the charges. And to also provide him and his family with some food, accordingly to the "golden rule".

 

 

So some people should be excused from morality because the concepts are too difficult for them to comprehend?

 

Well no of course. Even the smallest child, who can read and write, should know right from wrong. But do you expect a child to understand Kant's concepts of morality at a very young age? This is where the "golden rule" is effective for a child at his/her early stages in life. It's simple, easy to read and understand, it gets directly to the point, with one universal definition of morals.

 

 

In fact, let's back up a step further: do you believe that morality is relative? In other words, is it okay to murder someone just because you don't believe (or haven't been told) that it is wrong?

 

Of course not, deep down we all know right from wrong, but "wrong is wrong and right is right"; yet this statement in italics can also pertain to the "golden rule", for example: How in the world can we justify moral rightness in murdering a guilty person convicted of murdering someone else?

 

(I'm against capital punishment in relation to this btw, sorry I didn't mention that before. And a topic about capital punishment, would make another good thread debate IMO. :))

 

 

My apologies, but this statement doesn't even make any sense. The "golden rule" is a the product of religion. Your argument contains a contradiction.

 

By way of comparision, the categorical imperative is not derived from religion at all.

 

:raise: What do you mean by "contradiction"? What gives you the idea that this old moral code or philosophical statement, the "golden rule", came from religion itself? My personal belief is that the "golden rule" was adopted by most religions over the millenniums, when it was on it's own - not the the other way around. :) My point is, I don't associate the "golden rule" with religions, I believe they are seperate from one another.

 

 

Okay, but now I'm even more confused. I don't understand how you can differentiate between a "real" answer and a..."non-real" answer unless you had some process or methodology for identifying the two. Whether you realize it or not, that process is, by it's very nature going to be some flavor of the scientific method.

 

I have no doubt that you sincerely believe that you after the truth. But when you tell me that you're willing to accept a made up "answer" just because it allows you to "fill a blank space on a page" (using a metaphor here), then I have to think that you're falling short of your own ideals. Sometimes the "truth" is "insufficient data". That's just a fact of life.

 

 

Well now that you mention it, and looking back over some my posts, I can see where some of my statements can be confusing to you and contradictive. So I will I'll try again, and start all over. Here's what I really think about all of this..... the scientific method, the real answer, what you call made up answers(or as I call them possibilties, but not proven or disproven yet) relating to the unexplained, etc.

 

Proving or disproving things through scientific methods can be a valuable tool in my opinon, and a way to seek out the real truth/answer, but it's not always been a 100% dependable for me yet. And in relation to that of course, is left the unexplainable. But..I believe the unexplained is not to be totally dismissed or accepted as is, we still need to search for the real truth until we get it. But meanwhile let's not dismiss all the possibilties too when it comes to the unexplained that science hasn't provided a real answer for yet. In other words, I want to keep those "made up answers/ possibilites" (and no matter how unbelieveable or fantastic they are) in the back of my mind without personal prejudice. But of course I don't accept any of them yet as the final real answer either, until they are really proven/disproven by some kind of scientific method sometime in the future. So I don't accept them ("made up answers/possibilties") as the real answers for now, because science has not proved or disproved them yet, but I don't need to just ignore them either; because I don't know, you don't know, and nobody else really knows for sure one way or the other...pertaining to the unexplained. Anyway..that's the best answer that I can give you on this and I hope this helps you understand where I'm comning from.

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Within moral philosophy, rules of logic can be used to determine "moral" vs "immoral" action.

 

Logic is applied to just about everything within philosophy, because it is a truth-preserving operation. Other than establishing validity, consistency and the like, it has no content on its own, it's more like a grammar.

 

That's why logic alone cannot be used to determine what a moral action is. For that, we'd need a set of premises as well and at least one of them would have to be normative to begin with, since we can't get any morals from purely descriptive/factual premises.

 

Now justifying those normative premises is quite the problem and that's where I think theistic theories have a disadvantage, as their premises involve a deity. (Which means that the plausibility of their premises is linked to the probability of the existence of that deity.. not a good thing if you ask me :)) But the logical validity... well that's really a necessary requirement for any argument, if it's deductive. I'm sure there are theistic moral philosophies which are ok logically speaking.

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Really, I see problems in Kant's "categorical imperative" too - pertaining to that. For instance.......

 

What if a man is unemployed and cannot find a job, meanwhile he goes around begging for food because he and his family are starving. Yet none that he asks will give him any, so he trys to steal the food. But he is caught stealing the food for himself and his family, so he is brought before the court to be judged and is incarcerated. Because the judge should act in a manner that is just, according to Kant's "categorical imperative". How would this so-called "just manner", that the judge has done, actually be morally correct and truly the right thing to do compared to the "golden rule"?

 

Let's first acknowledge that several assumptions are being made here. For the sake of argument, I'll concede to them all and simply state that the judge would be acting on behalf of the person(s) who were stolen from.

 

The moral argument would probably sound something like:

 

"I don't want to live in a world in which the fruit of my labors can be taken without recompense or consequence, therefore thieves should be punished".

 

Anticipating your counter-argument, we could also say that if we were hungry, we would want to live in a world in which charity would be available to us (thereby negating the necessity to steal), therefore we have a moral obligation to be charitable.

 

My 2 cents.

 

Now you put yourself in that judge's position, with the current scenario I just described to you, while believing in Kant's "categorical imperative" Would you do it then? I'll bet 10 to 1 that if we took a poll on this current scenario, people would go the way of the "golden rule" (unless they are just plain heartless); because it is the real moral thing to do, to let the man go and drop the charges. And to also provide him and his family with some food, accordingly to the "golden rule".

 

First, I don't care if the odds were everyone in the world except me vs me. Decisions should be based on the merit of the arguments, not on democracy.

 

Second, you are still making the assumption that the correct moral choice is to forgive the thief.

 

Third, you are ignoring the fact that the thief is violating the golden rule himself (I don't think you'll find many people willing to put forth an argument stating that it's okay to steal).

 

Well no of course. Even the smallest child, who can read and write, should know right from wrong. But do you expect a child to understand Kant's concepts of morality at a very young age? This is where the "golden rule" is effective for a child at his/her early stages in life. It's simple, easy to read and understand, it gets directly to the point, with one universal definition of morals.

 

I think you're responding to an argument I haven't made.

 

My personal opinion is that children of "normal" aptitude will learn whatever it is they are taught.

 

Furthermore, I don't think "ease of understanding by children" should be the standard by which we decide whether a moral argument is correct or incorrect.

 

Of course not, deep down we all know right from wrong...

 

Why? What is the mechanism by which we all "know" this?

 

...but "wrong is wrong and right is right"; yet this statement in italics can also pertain to the "golden rule", for example: How in the world can we justify moral rightness in murdering a guilty person convicted of murdering someone else?

 

Perhaps we can't. I agree that it sounds like great fodder for a new thread though :)

 

:raise: What do you mean by "contradiction"? What gives you the idea that this old moral code or philosophical statement, the "golden rule", came from religion itself? My personal belief is that the "golden rule" was adopted by most religions over the millenniums, when it was on it's own - not the the other way around. :) My point is, I don't associate the "golden rule" with religions, I believe they are seperate from one another.

 

I'll be happy to cite chapter and verse if you'd like :)

 

Well now that you mention it, and looking back over some my posts, I can see where some of my statements can be confusing to you and contradictive. So I will I'll try again, and start all over. Here's what I really think about all of this..... the scientific method, the real answer, what you call made up answers(or as I call them possibilties, but not proven or disproven yet) relating to the unexplained, etc.

 

Proving or disproving things through scientific methods can be a valuable tool in my opinon, and a way to seek out the real truth/answer, but it's not always been a 100% dependable for me yet.

 

I'm not sure what this means. Please explain what you mean by "100% dependable".

 

And in relation to that of course, is left the unexplainable.

 

Well, "unexplained" at least. We didn't understand a great many things 400 years ago, however that doesn't mean that they were "unexplainable". It just means that they couldn't be explained yet.

 

But..I believe the unexplained is not to be totally dismissed or accepted as is, we still need to search for the real truth until we get it.

 

And I would tend to agree.

 

But meanwhile let's not dismiss all the possibilties too when it comes to the unexplained that science hasn't provided a real answer for yet.

 

I'm okay with this too (for the most part).

 

Does your "not dismissing all possibilities" extend as far as flying spaghetti monsters, fairies, invisible pink unicorns, magical dragons, etc?

 

Or at some point do you say "gee, I can't rule this out and I probably never will be able to, but I probably shouldn't spend a whole lot of time worrying about it either"?

 

The "god hypothesis" is not a scientific one. Therefore it is a waste of time to consider. This isn't a special punishment reserved for theists; it extends to any and all non-scientific claims.

 

In other words, I want to keep those "made up answers/ possibilites" (and no matter how unbelieveable or fantastic they are) in the back of my mind without personal prejudice. But of course I don't accept any of them yet as the final real answer either, until they are really proven/disproven by some kind of scientific method sometime in the future.

 

And you're free to do so. However unless you are also keeping the FSM, the IPU, etc in there too, you aren't being consistent in your position. :)

 

So I don't accept them ("made up answers/possibilties") as the real answers for now, because science has not proved or disproved them yet, but I don't need to just ignore them either; because I don't know, you don't know, and nobody else really knows for sure one way or the other...pertaining to the unexplained.

 

See above :)

 

Anyway..that's the best answer that I can give you on this and I hope this helps you understand where I'm comning from.

 

I appreciate you taking the time to clarify.

 

My apologies for the delay in getting back to you. RL has been a bit crazy lately.

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  • 2 months later...
at church the priest said that the 12 disciples of Christ died for the belief in Christ. they were persecuted and killed in different ways and still said Jesus had risen. He said "they would not die for a lie."

 

Ignoring the obvious historicity debate, how is this argument any different here than when it is used as "evidence" for islam, judaism, etc? 76 followers of David Koresh died for their belief that he was the messiah. 909 followers of Jim Jones died for his delusions.

 

Does this mean that Koresh is more likely to be the messiah than jesus? Is Jones more holy than Koresh? What does this whole "people died for their beliefs" thing really tell us? It tells me that sometimes people are willing to die for what they believe. It doesn't tell me anything about the veracity of those beliefs. :(

Edited by Achilles
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I have a response to two issues in this thread that I don't think were answered well enough/I want to rephrase in my own way.

 

First, the god of the gaps argument. This is a common argument, due to lack or understanding or lack of explanation. Just because we don't know everything doesn't mean we need an answer. Why must you have all of your questions answered? Is it better to say, 'god did it', or to say, 'I simply don't know.'? Religious belief is so subjective that saying 'god did it' is a very poor substitute for an answer.

 

Look for answers to life's questions. If you don't find a completely solid answer, oh well, big deal. You should settle with not knowing for sure, instead of letting the question nag at you so much that you must create a substitute for an answer. (Don't take this sentence the wrong way - a strong sense of doubt and imperative need for answers are good things.)

 

That's what I think religions are - substitute answers to life's questions and problems. But not good ones. An answer that lacks intellectual integrity. You have the ability to do so - go seek answers, evidence - rationally. Don't settle for anything less than 'I don't know' or 'I know because of facts A, B, and C'. Don't settle for quasi answers. (Directed at those with religious belief or deistic belief) No answer is better than a bad answer.

 

This leads right into the second thing I want to answer to further - the argument about how some people 'need' belief.

 

It all comes down to two options - either control your emotions or let them control you. Perhaps I can't understand the minds of those few people with mental disorders who end up clinging to a religious crutch. (Not a universal statement about all people with mental disorders.) I don't understand what its like to be a person like that. But as far as my understanding goes, logic-based thought solves everything. It's certainly resolved solidly every problem I've ever had for the better since I adopted the form of thought.(Though that claim on my part is ultimately irrelevant.)

 

I understand how scary it can be, the thought of what life would be like without religion. I experienced that fear myself. And I used to let it control me. I let that fear of doubting subject my critical thinking capabilities to confirmation bias and willful ignorance. For a time I tried to avoid thinking about what life would be like without religion. I thought myself a skeptic, but that wasn't true until I really let go of my fear and willful ignorance. (Again though, claims based on my own experiences are ultimately irrelevant. This paragraph is intended to be mostly emphatically persuasive, I admit. Please do not take offense to it.)

 

I can't put this any other way than to be blunt. If a person can't doubt their religion without their emotions turning them into a basket-case, then they're a coward. Truth benefits people more than willful ignorance.(IMO) I think it is entirely unethical to prevent a person, insane or not, from going outside of their comfort zone and seeking good answers instead of lousy answers.

 

There's a reason we have psychiatrists. In the short term, breaking out of one's emotional comfort zone if they are insane would be bad if that person wasn't closely supervised. In the long term, it would be better for that person's intellectual well-being.

 

But I don't think any of you are insane. At least you don't seem to be. You can break out of your comfort zone of thought - as you already have shown that you are doing (at least somewhat) by participating in this thread.

 

One last thing - try to debunk the arguments in your posts before posting them, and then debunk the arguments you make up to support your old arguments, and so on and so forth. You might find the results quite interesting. Deductive reasoning is a wonderful thing.

 

I feel I have restated some of the points made already in this thread by Skinwalker (Very interesting post about the Exodus, thanks for making it) and Achilles, but hopefully I've been original enough not to be a complete copy-cat. My posts are more directed at your process of thought, and thus very philosophical in content. I don't intend to make any empirical claims in this post, and please don't mistake it as an ad hominem argument. Take it with as little or as much salt as you like.

 

To summarize, I'll just say again something I just said: Deductive reasoning is a wonderful thing.

 

And that's my 2 cents.

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  • 5 months later...

Great topic. I wish I had more time to interact with it. Essentially I would start off by saying that you are not going to get "scientific proof" of any God's existence (unless we are talking about little "g" gods, who are physical beings who live in the universe, as opposed to some kind of ultimate being, which is what most of us westerners mean by "GOD").

 

Rather, you are only going to objectively "prove" God's existence in the arena of philosophy. Anything else will simply be subjective (visionary experiences, private revelations, or whatever... non-transferable ecstatic or mystical experiences).

 

I don't reject "Science" (most Christians accept mainstream science, including evolution & the big-bang, which incidentally was a theory first developed by a Catholic priest in good standing). But "science" has changed since the time of Aristotle. It no longer can answer such ultimate questions. Philosophy and science have divided and so it remains for philosophy to answer such questions.

 

So any "proofs" for God will be philosophical proofs. Sure, people continue to attempt scientific proofs of God, but I would say most of us don't rely upon such things. But that's fine, because all truth does not lie in "science." If it did, most of us would not live our lives the way we do (including atheists). All of our morals, ethics, ideals and even the basis of our laws, social structures, etc. are based upon philosophical ideas, not "science." Science itself is founded upon philosophical principles of intelligibility, general reliability of our senses, uniformity of nature, etc.

 

Now then I wanted to comment on a few things:

 

About the Bible:

 

What my CHRISTIAN teacher told me is that the first written texts about Jesus came much later than him, like a few hundred years after, if I'm not completely wrong.

 

Either you or your "Christian teacher" (sadly, simply being a Christian or a teacher doesn't make you an expert) is "completely wrong."

 

If they had a doctorate degree in Scripture studies or something, I would take their view more seriously, but I'd ask for evidence for why they hold that position. In any case, here is the answer...

 

The earliest texts we have about Jesus are the letters of Paul (aka Saul of Tarsus), written from about the year 49 through the year 67. As Jesus died in about 30, that's a mere two decades after his death that we have writings preserved by contemporaries. According to Paul, some of Jesus's original disciples (namely "Cephas" aka Simon Peter), James ("the brother of the Lord") and John were still alive and he interacted with them. The four canonical Gospels are thought by most scholars to be the earliest documents with the designation "Gospel" (but recall, they were written after the letters of Paul) and appeared between 65 and 95 CE (most scholars consider Mark to have been the first, then Matthew and Luke-Acts, followed by John). A few scholars put them earlier, a few put them later, but most would say right around 70 CE is when you get a bunch of Gospels about Jesus. the "Gnostic" writings and so forth do appear centuries later, but almost nobody of any academic standing considers them the least bit reliable in comparison. In about the year 90 we have independent testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus to the historical existence of Jesus and his brother James (and while one reference is questionable, most scholars consider it at least partially genuine and another reference which includes the mention of James, is not disputed by modern historians). Tacticus and Suetonius (pagan writers), near contemporaries of Josephus also attest to Jesus and his movement, but within a century or a bit later than Jesus himself. The argument that the Biblical writings cannot be used as sources is a strange one, of course but it is often thrown out by skeptics without justification. All historical writings are fragmentary and biased.

 

Another objection is that Paul "never met Jesus" but that's not really an issue because he knew Jesus' inner circle, and he fought against Jesus' movement (why would he do that if he didn't at least know who Jesus was or what he stood for?) prior to his conversion. Paul in his letters writings to already existing communities of disciples (including ones he did not found) as if they already know the basic story of Jesus and beliefs about him. He cites what scholars identify as early "hymns" and "creeds" (for instance in Philippians 2:1-11). In short, the argument (made by some) that Paul "invented' the Christian faith is laughable at best. Likewise there is clear indication in the undisputed letters of Paul that other letters of his were written that are now lost to us. This means there was more information out there than just is recorded in the letters (unless I suppose he simply repeated himself). We know that the early apostles did most of their teaching orally, rather than in writing. However there is a robust "Tradition" preserved in for example the early Church Fathers and in the ancient creeds and liturgies of the Church. So one should not think "I can't find it clearly in the bible, therefore it must not have happened." The original audiences had more information than is recorded in these texts. But that doesn't mean we can't figure out what it is they knew, most likely, as any historian could determine.

 

As an aside: For anyone who argues that Jesus was not a historical figure, I would point you to (agnostic biblical scholar) Bart Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist?" which provides a thorough summary of the consensus view of modern scholarship on Jesus and demolishes the "Mythicist" position. Not all founders of religions are equally attested in the historical evidence. Of course Ehrman caught lots of "heat" from other (less credentialed) atheists but has responded to them on his blog.

 

I do get tired of the arguments that the bible has been "translated and re-translated" or "written and re-written" so we "can't know what the texts really said." I also get tired of pointing out to some skeptics that nobody is using the "bible said it, so it must be true" argument in these types of debates. As a Catholic, I don't accept "sola scriptura" anyway (a theory held by a minority of Christians no earlier than the 14th century). I have to normally explain to those same people that the bible is a library, not a single book, and there's no evidence it was created by "illiterate bronze age desert dwellers" or "by the establishment for political power." Yet those kinds of things keep getting thrown around. There is nothing unbelievable about a preacher and faith-healer who was crucified, that some of his followers considered the Messiah and somehow divine. There is also nothing unbelievable about such a man viewing himself as the Son of God in a divine sense. Such people exist today, and such people existed 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately many of the skeptics one hears are still dealing with their own emotional issues against a fundamentalist Christian upbringing and are unaware of the studies out there beyond popular apologetics and counter apologetics.

 

Rant aside...

 

It's true, a bunch of people dying for their beliefs is not proof (by itself) those beliefs are true. It does however indicate that the people were sincere. Who would willingly die for a lie?

 

That is, the common argument that Christianity began as some kind of plot or ploy to control the masses with an invented lie doesn't really pan out. It would have to be a vast conspiracy (we can't assume a conspiracy without evidence of that conspiracy). You could argue that all the disciples and early followers were deluded, but that's different than claiming it was a deliberate lie.

 

One can't compare followers of Muhammad 1300 years later dying in suicide attacks to the early followers of Jesus. Another difference there is that these guys were terrorists (or guerrilla fighters waging a "war") vs. those who had nothing to gain (in earthly terms) by their deaths. Muhammad and Jesus are very different characters.

 

The idea that Christianity was invented for political power doesn't really fly since the religion didn't have political power for the first three centuries of its existence (and it wasn't Constantine who made it the state religion, that was Theodosius, fifty years later in about 381 CE).

 

In any case, Thomas Aquinas would argue that one could reason their way to the existence of a creator God, and admit the possibility that that God could reveal Himself to His creation if He so chose. But to accept the truth of the Christian faith, one still would have to accept the claims of divine revelations themselves.

 

A skeptic could still say Jesus and his followers were sincere, but deluded, and provide a naturalistic explanation for everything and say either God doesn't exist, or God didn't reveal himself through this religion.

 

When Jesus (peace upon him) was crucified, he spoke to God, saying: "Lahi" or "Eli (= God), did you leave me?" (it may be wrong, but I remember well that there were two contradictions in the different Gospels)

 

Another thing: Jesus asks for water.

 

Jesus quotes Psalm 22 in his native Aramaic. The Quran tells stories of Jesus that were apparently unknown to the early Christians, in the 7th century, a much longer space of time since Jesus' earthly life than the canonical Gospels.

 

 

In one Gospel, a Roman centurion puts a sponge on his spear, drips it in water and tends it to Jesus. In another one, it was completely different.

 

This is just to say that many versions exist, but we will never know which one is true.

 

The early Christians considered all of them true and preserved them for that reason. Modern people want one version of the story. Information was simply preserved differently back then. The Torah also contains multiple versions of the same story, often side by side (just not seperated out into different "books" as in the New Testament). There are also variations of the Quran, though this is an emerging field, because Islam has long resisted this since the Uthmanic "reform."

 

And by the way: I'm a muslim, and recognize Jesus as a Messenger of God, but not as His son. Of course, that is for another thread.

 

Some would argue that we have more reliable evidence for the existence of Jesus than for Muhammad as historical figures. Of course I accept the existence of both and I am even willing to grant that both were sincere in their beliefs. However from the point of view of "which one is true" one could come at it from many different angles, but the general Muslim position is that Christianity is a corruption that Muhammad and the Quran came to restore. The trouble is much the same for Muslims as for Mormons. Where is the evidence of this corruption? Presumably in the Muslim view there was an "original faith" that more closely adhered to Islam than to Christianity. So surely there should be evidence of this. If we say all evidence was destroyed, how do we know the claim to restoration is correct? That doesn't even begin to answer the question of whether God exists of course (and doesn't even answer which religion is true, only which is closer to the "earlier faith" they both claim lineage from).

 

Of course the claim of Muslims is that they have the same God as Jews and Christians. So if our God doesn't exist, then neither does theirs (I would not say different understandings of the same God equal different Gods).

 

The Trinity doctrine is a key difference between Christian and Jewish or Muslim understanding of God, but I would just say for now that it has its roots not only in the revelation of Christ, but in ancient Jewish theology of the personification of "Wisdom," the "Angel of the Lord" and so forth, out of the Old Testament (remember that the Jewish TaNaKh and the Protestant "old testament" is smaller than the book of Scriptures used by most Jews in the first century). It is not, as some have alledged, some kind of "borrowing" from pagan mythology. Trinitarianism is a form of monotheism, not polytheism. This sadly is a big misunderstanding by many critics of Christianity.

 

It's simply reasonable to believe in the Christian God. You could say it's also reasonable not to. But one can't simply dismiss it, especially with the excuse "I don't understand" or "it sounds silly to me," or "I never really studied it." But without some kind of personal investment through an experience or act of faith, one could freely doubt it or accept it but not allow it to have any kind of impact on one's life. Most Christians live the way they do because they think it's the right thing to do, and it gives them joy (not happiness per se, as that's a fickle emotion). It's the best thing going, so they accept it.

 

[Edit: fixed tags]

Edited by Kurgan
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