Real or Imaginary?

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74 thoughts on “Real or Imaginary?

      • Interesting article, but too many holes in it to convince me any “god” created this universe.

        I do have a question, however. What are we to think of the various archaeological finds that indicate various species existed in the far distant past? Is it all just so much “hogwash” and “God” actually made human beings and other animals as they look today?

        Those that DO believe a supernatural entity had a role in the genesis of our world (and its inhabitants) consistently discount and question the conclusions of science. Yet they have very little to back up their perspective beyond a book full of tales that have no more “validity” than their perspective on science.

        IOW, I find it difficult (if not impossible) to blend science and bible tales into one indisputable truth.

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        • I don’t think it’s hogwash. To my mind, God worked through a gradual evolutionary process.

          I don’t interpret Genesis One in a literal or scientific manner, but I think it does transmit deep spiritual truth.

          Nan, it seems to me no one can know exactly when the first hominid or group of hominids became aware of mortality, and of a creator, or when as a species we were able to intentionally move toward a pole of alienation from that creator and from each other, when we became fully human.

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  1. Why would people wish themselves slaves to an entity that has neither existence or evidence, no real detectable impact or effect on their lives, no support other than the questionable integrity of amateur philosophers Apologists who find not qualms with stretching or embellishing the truth to fit their needs?
    Why is it about us that desires and apologizes for such imaginary authoritarian dictatorship? Maybe we are truly broken as a species, just in a different way than Augustine and Calvin would have us believe?
    Broken to submit to slavery and abuse.

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  2. And when you realise that this is the entity so many dedicate their entire lives to it definitely makes the case for a very particular brand of mental instability to be officially recognised by the relevant medical authorities,

    I am sure we could all offer a few names as ideal candidates to test such mental instabilities to said authorities.

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  3. In my opinion, the “god of the gaps” theory makes it unnecessary for Christians to prove anything.
    ### Look at the universe and life; they are real, not imaginary. How can you possibly deny that there MUST be a god. What other alternative do you suggest. Something from Nothing? THAT would be imaginary. Moreover, it is all explained in the Scriptures. Read them! ###.
    .-

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  4. Remember the Beatle’s song: Baby you can drive my car.

    The lyrics are very clever and after pleading her case the end of the final verse has the ‘author” confessing.
    I’ve got no car and it’s breaking my heart,
    But I’ve got a driver and that’s a start

    It was all wishful thinking based on a fantasy but ”she” got the bloke to play along.

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  5. But… but Nan!!! You are ignoring the very real Holy Spirit of God that spoke to (or speaks to those “Messiahs” still alive today) and anointed so so many before! Like:

    • L. Ron Hubbard
    • Father Divine (George Baker)
    • Jim Jones (Jonestown, Guyana)
    • David Koresh (Waco, TX)
    • Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (Puerto Rico)
    • Sun Myung Moon
    • Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate)
    • Yisrayl โ€œBuffalo Billโ€ Hawkins (Abilene, TX

    And there were at least 8 Messianic claimants or Sons of Real-God prior to 135 CE in Judea. The many manifestations of God on Earth here in the flesh Nan is overwhelming that one MUST BELIEVE there is some sort of epidemic going on… a kind of God-virus!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜›

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  6. This is sad. Their scriptures have their god walking around in his Garden … on Earth. Satan spends a day or forty with Jesus walking around … on Earth. Wrestling angels, demons, burning bushes that talk, all of these manifestations of their god … on Earth, and now the girly-god is hiding out beyond space and time. Quite an amazing retreat.

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    • Why do you ask? Those claiming to have a close, personal relationship with Jesus should already know the answer to that question because such claims imply they are in contact with an all-knowing being.

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        • Speaking for myself, I don’t think there is any evidence that would convince me. From all indications in the bible, God is a spirit, so “seeing is believing” wouldn’t work. And I don’t put any faith in the “I know he’s real because I can feel him” perspective.

          Whether Christians want to admit it or not, there is absolutely NO tangible proof that such a being exists anywhere except in the mind. Manifestations of any kind (verbal, audible, so-called healings, “unexplained” events, “changed” lives, etc.) are simply ways to amplify what a person has already chosen to believe is real.

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        • @ Rebecca.

          As I have mentioned before, Rebecca, why on earth should I have to state anything at all. Surely your omniscient deity already knows exactly what evidence would convince me?

          After all, he convinced you, did he not? And you are surely not some silly credulous person who would be taken in by mumbo-jumbo nonsense, right?

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          • Ark, God may know, but I’m not sure. Hence the question, friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

            I do think there are some things even God can’t do such as totally eliminate human suffering, compel faith, and allow human freedom and autonomy at the same time.

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            • Please understand, I am not talking about compelling faith. I can assure you.
              Even if your god produced the evidence it/he(sic) knew I would accept, I might well acknowledge he was real but I most certainly would not ”follow” such a capricious monster. You think he is the personification of love.

              So there was obviously a moment, be it instantaneous, or part of a progressive revelation of evidence that convinced you, not only of him /Him being real but also worth devoting your life to, yes?

              So tell us what this was?

              How were things prior to your conversion and how did you go from being non-committed or a non-believer to regard yourself as fully Christian/Jesus follower?

              Ark

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            • Ark, what has led to this difference between us? I think God is the personification of love, and you would see him as a capricious monster. We are perceiving all of this very differently. I’m trying to understand more deeply why this is?

              To answer your question, though, in a nutshell. I was always very inquisitive, even as a young girl, and had a strong desire to know truth, and to understand God. Perhaps this was connected with a search for ultimate meaning and purpose. It was my love for the natural world, and a great interest in astronomy that drew me to God. The complexity, beauty, and order of the creation drew me to Him at first. As I’ve shared before, I think spirituality is part of my DNA. ๐Ÿ™‚

              But, what about you? What has led to such a strong calling to debunk the Christian faith, so to speak, and to feel so intensely that all religious faith is utterly false and harmful, worthy of nothing but ridicule and mockery?

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            • Unfortunately your reply once again does not answer a simple straightforward question regarding the evidence that convinced you of this god, you name, Yahweh.

              Once again you begin a reply dishonestly by presupposing your god is real without offering a single shred of evidence to suggest anything other than it is a figment of your imagination or as the result of cultural indoctrination.

              And once again you (purposely?) avoid any acknowledgment of the capricious monster your god, Yahweh really is as perfectly demonstrated by ”his” actions in the Pentateuch.

              That you actually believe in this god, featured in the Pentateuch (and nowhere else , ) which is acknowledged as geopolitical fiction is even more bizarre.

              So I will ask you once again: please describe to me the evidence that led you to feel utterly convinced that this capricious monster, Yahweh, was a god worth worshiping and worth devoting your life to.

              Once you do this for me I will gladly move to the next point and fully answer each and every query you have with the utmost openness and honesty.

              On this you have my word.

              Thanking you in advance.

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    • If you mean by “everyone” all living humans on Earth (2.2+ billion), that is absolutely impossible because every single brain, neurological system, endocrine system, environmental, familial and cultural systems are different at different times. And that doesn’t include our historical knowledge and/or ignorance of the past.

      If that is not what you meant by “everyone,” then you need to further clarify what “everyone” means exactly.

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        • What would most convince me? All the extraordinary, outrageous, paranormal, metaphysical acts and events narrated in the 4th-century CE Canonical Christian Bible — or the same acts/events in other Holy Sacred scriptures of other religions — be repeated today on a daily or weekly basis from this point forward, helping the world and those in dire need RIGHT NOW! Enough of all the problems, pains, disasters, and killing! Act! Act like you (God) truly care about “your” creation! Why the 2,000 – 4,000 years of twisted torture of a screw-up creation with a screw-up Devil, or Satan, or Lucifer, or whatever evil might be called… that YOU (God) messed up in the first place!? Freak us out. Blow our minds away with utterly unexplainable power and acute (fore?) knowledge.

          Otherwise, for the last several millenia, especially the last 4 – 500 years, humanity and scientific evolution have actually done many, many GREAT tangible advances toward easing these Earth-life torments and probably or most likely will continue to make current life and in the foreseeable future a more improved life than it ever was several millenia in the past! Which may beg the question: Why do we need this imperfect apathetic God of the 4th-century CE Canonical Christian Bible, or any of the other imperfect apathetic Gods of other scriptures? Assuming they even exist. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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          • I understand. You’re looking for miraculous signs and wonders , and for God to execute the eschcaton right now. If not, He feels apathetic to you, if He is there at all.

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            • Sounds like you have a very intimate knowing of a/your God Rebecca.

              But to precisely clarify what I am looking for is simply the narrated “God” of the 4th-century CE Canonical Bible, or any other God(s) of holy sacred scriptures, to demonstrate first they exist beyond any doubt, and then backup their ancient methods of wonderment TODAY! There is no rational reason to withhold this “power” behind veils or their ability to make this world and life perfect RIGHT NOW. None at all. Period.

              Thank you for your reply Rebecca. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Ark, this is not going to be easy. We have differing views of the role and purpose of the Scripture. My faith is based in the revelation of God’s character in Christ, in the reality of His love in the incarnation.

    So, when I read something in the OT which clearly seems to contradict this such as God’s supposed command to execute genocide, I don’t think that I am reading the word of God..or looking at an accurate representation of the character of God. In other words, I don’t accept something as objectively true because it is simply stated in the Bible relating to God. I think sometimes Scripture is also sharing the record of fallible humans attempting to get it right. For me, God’s revelation and our apprehension of it is progressive.

    I know that I’ve stated this before, but I can elaborate further. Jesus, Himself, according to the witness of the NT also handles Scripture in this way. He often states you have heard it said, but I say to you..and then, for instance teaches against retaliatory violence, and counsels love of even an enemy. I could share additional examples.

    To put it in a nutshell, if something is stated in the Bible that is not ultimately loving and life giving, then I don’t think it is God actually speaking or acting. I also want to say that there are times when we can misunderstand what the Scripture is actually stating without also understanding the the culture, the context, the intended audience, genre, etc.

    I am by no means an expert in all this, and am sure that I don’t have all the answers either. But, I’m ok with unanswered questions and ambiguity in my faith.

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    • Sorry Rebecca. Missed this reply.

      As you seem to reject the Old Testament god, Yahweh, because he comes across as a capricious monster, and you are only prepared to acknowledge the things that, to you, signify grace and love which, for practically all intent and purpose would eliminate the Old Testament god entirely ( and why not, Marcion did) I would like to know,:

      1.How exactly do you discern what things attributed to Jesus of Nazareth are factual?

      2. As it seems you are rejecting the Old Testament god, how do you rationalize Trinitarianism?

      Thanking you in advance.
      Ark

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      • Ark, I can’t go as far as Marcion and eliminate the OT God. I can see many good insights that are also shared, and a continuity that is there, as well as some problems. I’m just sayin that we need to be discerning. I find many Christian people willing to go to bat to defend any thing as long as it appears written in the Bible. I just feel this is a mistake.

        I think it’s possible to infer the concept of the trinity from the NT alone, although of course this sense of God was certainly not fully developed at that time.

        I don’t feel that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses, but surely the writers had access to oral tradition which also contained eyewitness testimony to the teaching of Jesus. Knowing the words and teaching of their Lord would have been important to these early believers.

        Other written documents may have been used as well. I do agree that there are probably insertions into the gospels by the early church, and embellishments that were also added. But, I feel there is a core of historical truth there, that we can know the essence of what Jesus said and did in that time.

        I’m not looking at the gospels as complete biographies with the teaching of Jesus written down word for word, though. I try to keep apprised of what the scholars are saying, as well. Of course, they are by no means in complete agreement in these areas.

        It also seems reasonable to me, and this is partly a statement of faith, that if the apostolic witness to the resurrection is true, it makes sense that God’s spirit would help us to know the person and teaching of Christ, and what that means to our lives. For me, to suppose the advent of the early church has it’s roots in nothing more than grief hallucinations or delusion feels too simplistic and unconvincing.

        But, now what about my question, Ark? I truly would like to be able to understand, why it is that people feel so strongly against the Christian faith. I know that there are abuses out there, and I can understand speaking against all of this. I would even join in this effort.

        But, why evangelize people toward atheism, and even mock their sincere faith wholesale? I can’t see any real benefit in this, and it seems to polarize people all the more. To be honest, I would not do this even if I were a convinced non theist. I would feel it to be disrespectful. What are your reasons? Why not engage in open dialogue apart from mockery and insults, and then if we can’t find consensus, just agree to disagree?

        Is there something I’ve been missing?

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        • Rebecca, you wrote: I think it’s possible to infer the concept of the trinity from the NT alone. Sorry to say, but this is pure indoctrination. The trinity doctrine was not taught by the early Christians, nor is the word found anywhere in the bible.

          Quoting from my book:

          It was not until the late second century, when Theophilus of Antioch wrote his Apology to Autolycus, that the word was actually used. What I found intriguing is his use of the word was different than what most recognize (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). To Theophilus, the โ€œtrinityโ€ (Greek: trias) meant โ€œGod, his Word, and his Wisdom.โ€

          It wasnโ€™t until the early third century that Tertullian, a Latin theologian, wrote a treatise in which he definitively described the trinity as including the Father, Son, and Spirit. Over the next several years, church fathers (Hippolytus of Rome, Origen, Novatian) began to include and expand on the theology. Finally, Gregory (c. 213-c.270), a bishop in Asia Minor, wrote a Declaration of Faith which treated the Trinity as standard theological vocabulary. About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea established the doctrine as orthodoxy and made it a part of the Nicene Creed.

          And just as an added note in relation to Ark … yes, he can get pretty snide in his remarks, but after awhile of hearing the same “reasoning” over and over and over again without any more evidence than I “feel” God, I “hear” God, I was “touched” by God, ad nauseum, it’s not surprising he vents his frustrations.

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          • Nan, I don’t disagree with your account of history. I think God’s revelation, and our apprehension of Him is progressive, as I’ve shared. I don’t think the early Christians thought in terms of “trinity.” Certainly, the word was never used.

            But, I do think even within the NT the seeds of this doctrine were present. Verses could be shared to support God as one, yet also to support the divinity of Jesus, as well as the person of the Holy Spirit. Other verses that come to mind our 2Cor. 13:14, IPeter 1:1-2, Matt. 28:19, and John 14:26.

            That being said, I’m sure various scholars would have different takes on this, and I am just sharing my personal opinion, here.

            Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree.

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            • Rebecca. you certainly don’t have to agree … but I must point out, it’s not MY account of history. What I wrote came from extensive research and reading. So if you disagree, it’s not with me. It’s with bible scholars and historians who study the bible and its history as their life’s work.

              As regards your comment about verses, yes, you’re correct. Bible scripture can be interpreted to mean anything one wants — and this is what church leaders have done for thousands of years, and then passed these interpretations on to their congregations. For example, when you write “within the NT the seeds of this doctrine were present,” you are merely repeating (and believing) what you have been taught.

              However, to actually devote the time, energy, and research to discover the facts/truth behind what is written is a discipline in itself — and certainly not something most believers care to (or are able to) undertake.

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            • Nan, I agree with what you are saying concerning the history of the church, absolutely. But, were we might differ is in how we look at some of these verses.

              I personally think it is awesome that you have taken the time to search these things out. You are right. Many lay people would not engage in these kind of efforts.

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        • But, I feel there is a core of historical truth there, that we can know the essence of what Jesus said and did in that time.

          I am sure you do … but this answer does not explain why. And neither does it explain what this core is .

          And you have not expounded on it, but merely hung it out there and somehow expected that no one will notice you are not actually saying anything at all. Well, I notice.

          Furthermore, until you are prepared to recognise that all you are doing is pandering to cultural indoctrination then you will always come across as simply credulous.

          why it is that people feel so strongly against the Christian faith. I know that there are abuses out there, and I can understand speaking against all of this. I would even join in this effort.

          Most deconverts – especially former fundamentalists – come from a background that involves a considerable amount abuse, be that emotional and or physical.

          That in itself is a good enough reason, wouldn’t you think so?

          As you are not open to the scientific reality of the falsity Christianity’s position it seems I would be wasting a lot of space explaining.

          But in a nutshell. Your faith is based on presuppositional foundations that are false, having no verifiable evidence to support a single claim. Not one.

          Any worldview that is built upon such falsehood, especially if such a view has to be enforced through indoctrination via a system of reward and punishment is thoroughly demeaning and denigrating.

          Humans deserve better.

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        • But, why evangelize people toward atheism, and even mock their sincere faith wholesale?

          Why do Christians evangelize people toward Christianity?

          If you criticize atheists, then you should surely also criticize Christians.

          Personally, I do not evangelize. I’m a “live and let live” kind of person. But I’m not going to criticize Ark, when I seen Christians doing the same sort of thing.

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          • Neil, I do think it is wrong if Christians are demeaning, unkind, or disrespectful in their remarks toward non theists. To be honest with you, I don’t understand why people want to talk like this to each other at all. Maybe it’s because it all occurs across blogs. It would be more difficult if people were sitting down face to face, and actually had meaningful and caring relationships together.

            Then would we be calling each other fools, delusional, implying mental illness, etc. or on the other side, immoral, bait for Hell, and I could go on? It’s all grievous and equally terrible to treat any human being created in the image of God with this kind of unkindness and contempt. People can have open dialogue, and respectfully disagree without resorting to all this. Nothing is achieved by mocking the beliefs of others, on either side of the aisle. If I had my own blog, it would not fly.

            Because someone has had a bad experience with religion, does not mean that all expressions of faith are the same, and equally harmful, and it’s just like “open season.”

            Ok, I guess I’ve vented long enough, here. I’m having a bad day around all this, and feel heartsick. Open to give everyone the last word.

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            • Maybe itโ€™s because it all occurs across blogs.

              Yes, I do think that Internet communication tends to bring out the worst in people.

              As for myself, I was Christian during my teenage years. I stopped shortly afterwards, when I decided that I could no long believe. But I have no regrets about those years as a Christian and I try to respect religious folk, as long as they do not attempt to impose their religion on others.

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            • Itโ€™s all grievous and equally terrible to treat any human being created in the image of God with this kind of unkindness and contempt.

              ”image of God?” Really? For goodness’ sake!

              If you were really honest about having an open conversation and are genuinely trying to understand why atheists react the way they do towards religious people then this has to be the most revolting and ridiculous thing to write.

              Reading such banal and fatuous crap makes me want to take a flashlight and shine it in your ear to see if the light reflects on the opposite wall.

              In fact, I truly cannot believe that you are that dense, that utterly stupid, that you would not understand why writing ”in God’s image” to an atheist is the height of disingenuity.

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        • Rebecca, you say,

          But, why evangelize people toward atheism, and even mock their sincere faith wholesale? I canโ€™t see any real benefit in this, and it seems to polarize people all the more. To be honest, I would not do this even if I were a convinced non theist. I would feel it to be disrespectful. What are your reasons? Why not engage in open dialogue apart from mockery and insults, and then if we canโ€™t find consensus, just agree to disagree?

          Is there something Iโ€™ve been missing?

          Yeah, like the entire thrust of New Atheism expressed so eloquently by so many terrific authors. That’s what you’ve missed.

          In a nutshell, your faith-based beliefs are pernicious not only for whatever pernicious content they may hold that motivates direct harm to real people in real life when acted upon but because the method that requires faith you use to try to justify your beliefs about reality is guaranteed to fool you, to use your credulity to the point of gullibility, whenever you use it, when you use faith rather than good reasons based on reality to justify any and all claims about reality.

          Furthermore, because religion is the mother ship that presents faith-based belief as if it were a virtue when it is clearly a vice in any other human endeavor, it is the target of those who respect reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it… aka respect for evidence-adduced beliefs and what we can then know about it. If you have compelling evidence from reality, then you can justify beliefs about reality to be closer to what’s true than if you use faith-based beliefs as a substitute or equivalent method. The problem you do not see is that faith-based thinking never has, does not, and probably never will yield any knowledge about reality at all ever.

          And you can prove this to yourself: come up with a single knowledgeable insight into reality that faith-based thinking has produced. If you can, you will be the first.

          So we know faith-based thinking does not produce knowledge. How can anything be wise or contain wisdom about our lives here in reality if it we already know the method possesses zero knowledge and produces zero knowledge?

          And we see this played out when faith-based belief is used in other venues than just religion to justify all kinds of perniciousness. We see faith-based beliefs acted upon over and above evidence-adduced beliefs in all kinds of ways that hurt real people in real life, from belief in magical healing to magical elixirs, from supernatural possession by demons and spooks to magic illnesses they supposedly cause. We see faith-based belief drive all kinds of anti- whatever, like anti-vaccination, anti-WiFi, anti-science curriculum, anti-human policies, anti-pharmaceutical bias, and so on, to outright denialism like human caused climate change, like evolution, like cosmology, like archeology, and so on. Faith stops inquiry cold and pretend to offer an answer that is utterly devoid on knowledge but full to the brim of faith.

          And the reason anyone pays any attention to this make-believe alternative reality faith-based belief creates in the minds of the gullible is because earnest and nice people like you enable faith-based belief to be at the table of human interests and concerns… even when you KNOW these beliefs based on faith have no foundation of knowledge of reality at all. Yet you still want this faith-t-based belief to have an equivalent voice concerning humans matters because… well, gosh darn it all, what could possibly go wrong? And respect. And dialogue.

          Are you kidding me?

          This is the fundamental perniciousness: acting on faith is the same thing as acting on ignorance, acting on magical and wishful thinking, acting on a method that discards evidence, refutes knowledge-based understanding with Just So fictions. It is pernicious always. And that’s why you have had to be taught all this faith stuff because you cannot get it independently from reality. You’ve been sold a a pack of lies and think it valuable because it comes with a pretty bow and nice music. But it’s still an ignorance for which you really are trying to remain an immature and irresponsible child seeking the approval of some divine celestial parental figure. It’s time to leave childish things like faith-based thinking behind and grow up, to see that when its wider use threatens not just us as a species but the world as a place to sustain life, the time has come. Put away faith and rejoin the grown ups at any discussion table about real life issues here in the real world with real people who have real concerns and real solutions.

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          • Tildeb, I don’t know your background, but I can assure you with confidence that not all the Christians have abandoned reason, and checked their minds at the church door. ๐Ÿ™‚ As a matter of fact, many will attest that it is reason, and observation of the natural world that first helped bring them to belief in a creator. You may not agree with the conclusions of scientists who are theists such as Dr. Francis Collins, or Dr. John Lennox, but no one can accuse them of not using their minds or being “childish” in my estimation.

            On top of that many faith based organizations are in the forefront in making a positive difference in the world in everything from fighting against things such as homelessness, sexual slavery, to ending child poverty, and hunger around the globe. Are these not real life issues and concerns that we all share?

            Why, Tildeb, you and so many that I’ve run across on the internet, would seem to want to alienate all of these folks who would be your allies in so many issues and concerns, rather than attempt to dialogue, and find common ground is just beyond my understanding.

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            • Yes, many Christians do many good things. So my question to you is why not do them for good reasons alone and stop importing this faith-based assertions that they cause these good deeds? In fact, ask yourself if you can think of any of these actions you consider good that Christians do come about only because of this religious belief. Seriously, think hard and long on it because, again, you would be the first.

              If you consider the rain dancer’s claim, that a specific kind of dancing brings about rain, and understand why this causal association presumed to have some merit, presented as if it comes from evidence and reason and therefore has any truth merit, you will better understand why the assertion I make that you do not get this religious belief from reality but has to be brought to the person, I think you’ll grasp why your claim about using reason and reality for the religious belief, for the rain dancer’s belief, is entirely facetious. And, again, you can determine this for yourself if you understand that evidence – in this rain dancer case, the raining – means the LINKING between the claim of cause and the presentation of the effect. We ‘know’ the rain dancer has zero evidence BECAUSE there is nothing from reality to link the dancing with the rain. In exactly the same way, you have zero evidence for your claim from reality to link the reason and observation you claim with your notion of some god.

              That’s why I point out that it is the METHOD used in faith-based thinking that is guaranteed to fool you into thinking reason and observation lead anyone to your justified true belief. What you have done is assume your conclusions and then attempt to say that dancing really, really, really does cause the rain because we can observe the dancing, we can observe the rain, we can find compelling evidence of wetness from the rain, and so it’s now suddenly reasonable to claim the dancing is its cause, that the two are connected and so belief in the rain dancer’s efficacy is self-evident.

              Do you see the difference in conclusion when you first understand what evidence means, that what is being asked is for the connecting evidence from reality and, that when it is never, ever produced, wonder why on earth anyone would think that believing in supernatural explanations is worthy of any respect whatsoever?

              You then make a typical accusation, that criticizing those who believe using faith (because we know the method intentionally avoids this need for linkage, this need for evidence) is an attack on the people who use it. Well, in one sense it is because it’s both irresponsible and childish to continue believing in irresponsible and childish supernatural beliefs, when using this ‘reasoning’ is well known to cause a great deal of real harm to real people in real life. But in another sense it’s not because you have the opportunity to put this method aside now that you know it does not produce knowledge but, in fact, stop its acquisition cold, to understand why it always pernicious to use it as a justification in any venue of human activity, It’s always wrong to do so. Always. It is now willful ignorance to continue doing so.

              But is is also very difficult for some people to come to the dawning realization that we’ve been utterly fooled by religious nonsense, that we’ve fallen for this enormously popular con job and done our part to go along with it, that we’ve engaged in promoting it to others, that we’re taught to think well of people who impose this faith-based method of justification on their children, who advocate against the use of justified true beliefs that is grounded in linking evidence between cause and effect, to inform opinions about reality and our place in it, who continue to insist in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that the substitution of belief in agencies of Oogity Boogity! is reasonable, responsible, respectable, and an equivalent alternative to evidence-adduced reasoning.

              Why should anyone think well of anyone who continues to promote faith-based beliefs equivalent in all ways to superstitious nonsense to detrimental effect in total when they know better? How much talking with no recognition of why faith-based belief is a broken method of thinking is deemed to be appropriate until it is recognized that no amount of talking will ever produce a correction in the face of willful ignorance and the perniciousness it maintains in the name of piety? 1 hour? 5? a million? Most reasonable people come to the conclusion rather quickly that the justifiable amount is zero once the initial explanation is revealed.

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  8. Taboo, there is a sense that we all “see through a glass darkly.” No one knows or has all the truth. That’s for sure. I do my best to be open to insights wherever they’re found, and am willing to adjust my views based in additional evidence and wisdom.

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  9. Tildeb, my undergraduate major was cultural anthropology. I remember my professors really stressing this whole notion of ethnocentricism..We tend to evaluate the truth and validity of other people’s values and beliefs based in our own culture and experience. It is pretty much impossible for any of us to step outside of this box, and to be completely objective.

    I personally can’t tell if a person who is a theist or a non theist has attempted to examine evidence or use reason to come to their conclusions without extended conversation, and really attempting to get to know that person. Even then, I may come to a wrong conclusion.

    I think there are “religious” people who are credulous, and certainly accept something because this is just part of their culture, how they were reared. They don’t question this. Others believe a certain way because it meets their deep emotional and psychological needs.

    There are also non theists who are the same or who have other reasons and motives too numerous to even list.

    Usually it is the people who are can see this who are the most open to reasonable dialogue and discussion, and who are less likely to simply “write off” those who disagree, or who proclaim that they have “all the truth.” This realization brings us to humility, Tildeb.

    Now to some of your other concerns. In my own life, I think I would certainly try to do good and kind things if I were not a Christian believer, certainly. I wouldn’t turn into some immoral monster if I became an atheist.

    But, for me, my faith in Christ, and a desire to follow Him has enhanced my desire to make a positive difference in the world, and to show compassion. It is like both a catalyst and an amplifier. I’m sure that many people in the church can attest to this.

    Also, Tildeb, it is easy as Jesus teaches to care for those who are “good people,” and who love us back. But, it is a lot more difficult to care for and to even be willing to forgive those who mean us harm such as Muslim terrorists, or the drug dealer down the street. In my work in Child Welfare, I do not think I would have been able to show the same level of compassion and work, for example, with those who molest children without God’s help, and continued transformation in my life. And, I still have a long way to go. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think there has been a lot of harm done in the name of faith through the centuries, but much good as well. It seems important to me to separate this all out, and as I’ve often said, not “ditch the baby with the bathwater.”

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    • Rebecca, you’re not addressing my criticism. At all. You are avoiding the faith-based vs evidence-adduced methodology criticism I raise using post modern thinking and excuse and diversions that assume some kind of equivalency between them, that assumes that each of us has our own ‘truth’, that values cannot be compared and contrasted for effect. as if chopping off a foreskin or mutilating female genitalia is really just a cultural expression for cultural reasons that anyone outside the culture has no right to criticize.

      This is the southern product of a north facing bull. Not because I think so, but because this approach is without any intellectual honesty or integrity. It is pure apologetic bullshit.

      And this painting of your faith is apologetic pious nonsense that tries to gloss over the shallowness of its substance by muddying the surface and claiming depth of insight, depth of human compassion and concern for others, an absolutely perfect example of a Karen Armstrong-ian poetic waxing and waning of some tangential and vague hand waving towards a nebulous rendition of religious benefit. I specifically asked you offer a single example of this supposedly ‘equivalent’ method of gaining knowledge about reality and insight into the human condition that better informs our place in it.

      You didn’t.

      I asked you specifically to come up with an act caused by faith-based belief alone to demonstrate its equivalency to doing so for good reasons completely independent of any religious belief.

      You didn’t.

      And I think you didn’t because I claim you cannot. No one has proven me wrong yet. This brute fact reveals the actual truth of the religious claim: it is devoid of any truth merit independent of the trust and confidence its believers import to it.

      That’s what opens the door to this constant perniciousness that is all religious belief BECAUSE its epistemology relies on faith-based methodology to support its ontology. Garbage in, garbage out no matter how much poetic effort is applied to the lipstick on this pig.

      There is no ‘good’ in any culture caused by faith-based belief; there is only perniciousness smeared over and excused by people who think well of themselves for doing this, for appeasing criticism of religious belief by claiming the problem is something else, something like cultural bias or colonialism or a failure of tolerance, or any other post modern idiocy that is spreading like a cancer through the West and making the Left toxic to enlightenment values. And as long as good people absolutely refuse to face up to this growing problem they themselves promote and teach, it’s only going to get worse. Going along and utilizing your faith-based belief to claim a causal connection to its effect for only good works when you cannot produce evidence to support this but have no trouble waving away its inherent perniciousness because you mistakenly see this is an unfortunate side effect but only from those who apparently exist somewhere on the fringe of religious belief rather than at its heart. Ignoring and excusing this fact makes you a willing collaborator for any and all perniciousness brought about in the name of faith because you refuse to take responsibility for it when you, in fact, own it. You, Rebecca. That’s why you are part of this ongoing problem and why others take you to task for being so.

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    • tildeb, I think you’re “scolding” Rebecca without justification. Just because you don’t like or agree with her perspective on Christianity does not mean she is “wrong.” It’s simply that she looks at the big picture differently than you.

      Further, your “scholarly” approach to Christianity will rarely (if ever) have any effect on most believers … primarily because they simply don’t look at their faith from this perspective. You should know by now that their beliefs are nearly always based on “feelings.”

      It’s always beneficial to motivate believers to “think” about their religion, so I have no problem with you presenting your ideas. But please refrain from directing your comments to the individual (e.g., “You’re wrong.”) Thanks, tildeb.

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      • Hopefully, the next time a child needlessly dies from a substitution of faith healing for medicine, or people get killed and injured in the name of some god, people like Rebecca will realize if even for a moment that by apologizing for faith-as-a-virtue in principle makes her equivalently culpable in principle even if she decries the act itself in practice.

        You see, Nan, too many people have been taught to forget about principle and go along with practices that at first blush appear benign without harsh and public criticism. That’s religion of the Rebecca style. And it is the very source from which faith-based perniciousness in all its forms continues to thrive and find relief. Religious belief comes from real people like Rebecca who paint it as a virtue. So Rebecca symbolizes the vast pool of ‘reasonable’ and ‘nice’ people from which faith – all of which is unreasonable – constantly finds succor. And then it’s taught to the next generation to be a virtue. And so on. And so on. And so on.

        So I understand your point but take great issue with your claim that it is without justification. Au contraire; it is needed more now than ever before. And it’s not her ‘perspective’ I disagree with, which I’ve expressed repeatedly: it is going along with the idea that faith is a virtue and not a vice! And the reason, as I’ve explained, is because as a method of justification, faith is always, always, always, pernicious not because I hold that opinion but because of overwhelming evidence from reality that justifies this claim. Faith as a method of justification relegates reality – and the evidence we can adduce from it – to be irrelevant.

        That’s not a virtue. And it directly undermines what we can know, what we can find out to be true.

        So your scolding of me is within your right as the blogger but for crying out loud, at least try to understand the argument I present independent of anything you may think about me the person. Using faith as a justification for ANY action – even Good Deeds – is wrong on merit alone, wrong because it’s a broken method, wrong because it keeps on producing pernicious effects and giving them a get-out-jail-free card. It contain no virtue, no integrity, no respect for what reality tells us is the case. That – and not my opinion – is why Rebecca is wrong independent of anything I or you may believe. That’s the point you seem to have missed entirely.

        As for your repeated claims that how I present my argument lacks effectiveness, that is strictly your opinion. It is impossible for anyone to ‘argue’ anyone out of feeling a feeling, which is how you frame the source of religious belief. How convenient for believers. But when you stand the source of religious to be other than belief that faith is a virtue, you mask the real problem: the widespread acceptance that faith really is a means to justify an opinion or act. It’s not. Ever. And this goes far beyond religion. That acceptance, that going along to get along mentality, that let’s-not-say-anything-too-harsh because it might offend someone, is what needs to be held up to the light of day, to be criticized, to be made personal, to have it revealed as the appeasing source for continuing to go along with unjustified belief, because in principle that really is the source for the related feelings people may import to their religious version of faith-based thinking… and then rightfully presume a tacit acceptance if not approval even from those who may disagree with various practices.

        Principle precedes practice. That’s what I’m expressing even if you don’t much like this ‘scholarly’ direction made personal. It’s only at the personal level, however, where real change based on principle can occur and become more than lip service.

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        • tildeb, your arguments are valid; I don’t deny that. And much of what you write needs to be said. But if you will notice the main request in my comment was for you to refrain from getting personal. No one wants a “scolding.” IOW, make your point. Explain it as fully as you wish (as I’m sure you will anyway ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Just try to keep it “neutral” and we’ll both be on the same page.

          Thanks for your understanding.

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        • Tildeb, I think I”m a bit clearer in where you’re coming from. somewhat.

          I personally don’t feel either that faith in and of itself is a virtue. It depends on the object of one’s faith, IMO. How and why someone came to their beliefs, etc.

          But, I think if people have thoughtful and informed faith in the person and by extension the ethic of Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves, nothing but good can come from this.

          Also, as a Christian, I do think that there is a true truth which transcends culture. In this, we might agree, but for different reasons. I spoke against what my professors taught at school when they inferred that we could not judge if infanticide was wrong if this was a widely accepted cultural practice. I do believe that female genital mutilation is wrong.

          In other words, I don’t feel really that morality is simply culturally determined. But, sadly, many non theists actually do think in this way.

          But, as a person of Christian faith, I’m not able to understand how I’m somehow held personally responsible for all the evils committed in the name of religion across the world, (if this is what you’re saying) any more than all non theists can be held responsible for the atrocities committed under some of the atheistic regimes of the twentieth century such as Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China.

          Tildeb, I see that you feel passionately, and are very sincere. I’m trying to open my mind to comprehend your world view, and as I say, I can to a certain point, but beyond that, well, I’m as lost as a “goose in a hail storm.” You have a hard row to hoe here ..:)

          Give you the last word.

          Pax.

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