Any christians here?

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    Nov 10, 2007 2:11 AM GMT
    sickothesameThere is no such thing as an atheist, just someone who doesn't understand empiricism


    Can't help myself but this depends on your use of the word. Empiricism in the scientific view is the weight of the evidence. Evidence being something we lack as far as faith goes. All we have is subjective opinion without fact.

    I understand science well enough for not being a student in the field. Which is why I know for certain faith is just a myth.

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    Nov 10, 2007 3:48 AM GMT
    kinda off the topic, but what is the foundation of an atheist, science or whatelse? cause there are a lot of myths in science itself; the lack of fossil evidence for macro evolution, and various earth age theory along are already humors. It require equal, if not more, amount of "faith" for science as for religion.

  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Nov 10, 2007 3:56 AM GMT
    You know someone's gone wrong when they equate "science" with a particular set of beliefs about evolution or the age of the earth. Science, rather, is an activity, a method, an approach to finding things out. Science is self-correcting, because it provides a way of improving our understanding of the world when new facts come to light. Faith isn't self-correcting -- it merely shuts its eyes to reality when reality doesn't match the faith (see the Bush Administration's approach to science and scientists).
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    Nov 10, 2007 4:32 AM GMT
    An atheist is someone who lacks any belief in the thiest ideas of the supernatural as it relates to all sorts of aspects of life and science.

    I guess I have a hard time understanding how anyone could pick and choose what parts of a religious book to believe. Its madness how someone could choose to believe in one passage then ignore another.
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    Nov 10, 2007 4:41 AM GMT
    Squarejaw! What an interesting, delightful, piece, of critical thinking.

    I'm going to have to memorize your dissertation!
  • Squarejaw

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    Nov 10, 2007 4:44 AM GMT
    Spread the word, brother. icon_biggrin.gif
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Nov 10, 2007 4:59 AM GMT
    Hey ebl333 - thanks for good topic.

    I've gone through the workings of "Christianity" - Sunday School, confirmation, actively being involved in our local very charismatic Methodist church during my student years and then having to deal with my homosexuality and Christianity and ultimately dealing with a fanatical, fundamentalist uber religious mother.

    For some of you, this may be familiar - coming out was NOT the hardest part of being gay - being "Christian & gay" was by far the hardest thing I ever had to deal with in my life - all around my 25th birthday. What REALLY galled me was the incredible hypocrisy I witnessed from other Christians and it really saddened me when one day I realized for what it was worth, that it was God who really loved me unconditionally and not these "loving Christians around" me. That was good enough for me at the time.

    16 years later I am older, wiser and more experienced. I am a scientist at heart, but still a believer, but perhaps not in what many refer to in this forum as "orthodox" Christianity...I have believed less and less in the Bible as a "word to live by every day of your life" since there are too many "gloss overs/cover ups/inconsistencies and personal drama"...

    I often dwell between agnosticism and deism. I've read so many alternative explanations to "religion" and the meaning of religion that ultimately I am actually LESS confused and worried about religion and more focussed on spirituality and what that entails (to me), including re-incarnation/past lives etc. It's made me less tolerant of fanatical fundamentalists - no matter if they are Christian/Islamic/Jewish - we're far better off without them.

    No, I no longer attend church, but most every day I give thanks for what I have in my life, who I have in my life and for the wonderful environment of the San Francisco Bay Area that I live in. I don't read the Bible, but I treat people like Jesus would.

    Spirituality is very enlightening and wonderful - it is what you make of it - I know I sound very "new agey" - perhaps yes, perhaps no, but I think the problem we as gay men have with religion is that we try to fit into it....why not let spirituality fit US!



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    Nov 10, 2007 5:05 AM GMT
    The natural mind can never understand God nor was it intended by God. The natural mind is great for navigating our earthy lives, but not for knowing God.

    The knowledge of God comes by faith, antithesis to the reason and logic of intellect. The knowledge of God comes by way of the heart, not the mind. This same approach by Christians who "learn" about God rather than experiencing his love is the reason they feel justified in trashing the gay community. They reason with their minds that they are justified in doing so and that God is on their side. Their approach to spiritual knowledge is the same as their approach to natural knowledge. They can only relate to the "letter of the word" and know nothing of the "spirit of the word" from which God's love flows to humanity.

    There are no winners when minds attempt to figure out God, His will and intent. It only brings discord and division. Why do you think there are so many denominations when scripture teaches oneness and unity of God? Whoever attempts to approach the things of God with the intellect end up in the same pot of debate, anger, accusation, etc. It only brings division. One is no farther ahead than the other.

    Man must approach God as He intended, and not according to his own invention and imagination. The knowledge of God is not learning about God; the knowledge of God is experiencing the love of God. Actually, we do not choose God, He chooses us.

    It is usless to attempt to persuade people to believe in God. It is a fruitless activity unless God has prepared the heart to see their need for Him, unless he or she is drawn by God's Spirit.

    I do know from my own experience that once the love of God is experienced in the heart, all the questions are answered. One could explain what an apple tastes like for weeks without imparting the real knowledge of its taste. But let the one who has never tasted an apple bite into one, and that person enters into another language that is higher than words - and he gets it; he then knows what an apple tastes like in a perfect and complete way.

    The spiritual language of God is like that. Words can never persuade man of God's love; it must be experienced. Otherwise, it is foolishness to the intellectual mind that can only weigh and reason and compare to his inventory of natural things which are not really relevant when it comes to spritual things.

    Yes, religion has missed it in the past and continues to do so. There is great deception in all religions; the best they can ever hope for is some system of good and evil that is used to judge one's outward behavior. There is little real godly love in religion, only do's and don'ts. Religion has given God a bad reputation. But to allow religion to rob us of the truth that is God and miss out on perfect love is the greater scam and loss. But again, to each his own. It is sad that so many are duped by religion and then blame God for the evil of its deception and foolishly trash the glory of God's love.
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    Nov 10, 2007 6:54 AM GMT

    hm.. religion doesn't self correcting? how about scientologist? there are many people branches off to sub religion due to social and view change. there r christians who believe that men were evolved. most now allow divorce. there are gay christians too....

    if science is self-correction, which means it has yet to provide full or final answer. at best, it provide but an "observance" for now. hence does it not require "faith" to rely on such shifting foundation for one's world view?

    and you are right that science "self-correct" itself. or should i say, contradict and confuse itself.

    i mentioned earth age calculation. 4.5 billion yr, right? it's taught "religiously" in all text book.

    consider ocean salt: using oceans' accumulated salt from erosion calculation, earth is only 100 million yr old. 4.5 billion would product far more salt in ocean, but where's the salt.

    consider erosion: forces of erosion such as wind and rain can produce one inch of top soil in one thousand years. so 4.5 billion yr = 710 mile thick of top soil. with earth crust at only 30 mile thick, we'd have no mountain left. yet typical top soil is 2-8 inch. and ocean floor has .5 mile only. so where's the rest?

    consider moon: the moon is receding from Earth at about 3.8 centimeters per year. that means only 10 million yrs ago, earth and moon touches. but science says dinosaur roaming the earth 200 millions yrs ago?

    consider earth magnatic field: it is decaying at 5% over the last 150 years. currently its about 50 microTeslas. it's bad for human at 1,600 microTeslas. u'd wonder anything survive just 10 thousands yrs ago.

    consider moon dust: the surface of moon exposed by extreme heat and xray, the surface layers is being reduce to dust at the rate of a few ten-thousandths of an inch per year. In 5 to 10 billion years, 3 or 4/10,OOOths of an inch per year would produce 20-60 miles [32 to 96.5 km) of dust on the moon. yet it's only 2, 3 inch. why?

    seem like to follow science is not to expect a solid answer. and it takes blind faith to embrass science in order to mock all religions.
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    Nov 10, 2007 8:20 AM GMT
    my problem with "Christian apologists" who try and use science to "prove" how God MUST exist because so many things are perfect is that it is a complete fallacy. You can NEVER prove God exists or does not exist. Even to the point where God would come down and talk to someone. The skeptics like Hume would say it just shows your mental instability ;)

    But anyway, I think your definition is lacking Trance. An atheist doesn't believe in supreme beings or god, really whatever you want to call it. Unfortunately, people like yourself say "the evidence shows there is no god." but the problem is that the leap you take is one of great faith. It is poor philosophy and poor science. You can never disprove god's existence.

    I do understand science as a student of it. Believe it or not there isn't a single hypothesis that involves god. Sure maybe a lot of graduate student prayers are involved in science, but no hypothesis ends with definitive proof of god's existence/non-existence. (By the way, scientists never prove anything).

    Squarejaw is right, science is "self"correcting. But so is good theology. Paul Tillich says it needs to be able to speak to individual cultures at their needs in changing social contexts, so there needs to be constant reevaluation of what theology is. And it NEVER is science or empiricism (unless you are a mystic).

    Ebl333: all the answers to your questions are out there. In fact some of the answers are implicit in the question or based on faulty assumptions.

    Again, i'm an agnostic and a non-theist. There surely is no god on a throne wanting to punish people in my opinion, but faith is important to many people. It is the arrogance and ignorance of people who set up a false dichotomy between religion and science that drive me crazy. Be honest about your roots! Science and religion tackle different things. and if you try and say "look how intricate this all is, God MUST exist!" you do yourself a disservice. And if you say "DNA replicates on its own, God must not exist!" I think you do yourself a disservice and miss the beauty and truth in every molecule of dna. And speaking of someone who knows the Bible pretty well, if you just toss the whole thing out, you totally miss the dynamic of people wrestling with their own existence and trying to figure out what it means to live. The myths are beautiful, and i do not deny that they are myths, but only someone trapped in their own conceit would say that they encapsulate reality more.
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    Nov 10, 2007 8:52 AM GMT
    sickothesame: "You can NEVER prove God exists or does not exist. ... scientists never prove anything."

    I think some of your comments have been unfair to unbelievers. Intellectually serious atheists don't claim to have definitive, deductive proof, but rather simple inductive inference that nature is entirely self-contained. To quote Stephen Hawking, "What place, then, for a creator?" You're holding such inferences to a higher standard of proof than you do other empirical knowledge, at least assuming e.g. that you believe, in spite of the quoted statement, that scientific knowledge exists.

    ebl333, your questions all erroneously assume that rates of change remain invariant over time.
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    Nov 10, 2007 1:50 PM GMT
    sick and ebt- (long post warning!)

    God doesn't exist without proof. Do you believe in unicorns? or Garden faries? Are you going to tell me they can exist too? Why should we believe in god any more than thousands of other fantasy's out there.

    Other reasons from another forum: (we'll attack the judeo-chrisitan god for now)

    -There are dozens of pre-Christian gods and messiahs that were born on December 25th (Or real date, yes christ wasn't born on the 25th...), of a virgin, who had 12 disciples, performed miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water, crucified and resurrected three days later, and are known, by their inventors and followers, as such things like the Lamb of God and the King of Kings. Jesus is the most recent of a long list of plagiarized gods and holds no credibility. In fact, the entire Christian myth is taken directly from Egyptian myth. For instance, the 10 commandments are from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The founders of Christianity acknowledged this but offered that Satan crafted the Pagan world to discredit Jesus. This explanation is still held by many religious leaders today.

    -Out of the 40 historians or so that lived during or soon after the supposed life of Jesus, none of them document any Jesus figure. It is ludicrous to think that a man who did all of the things ascribed to Jesus in the Bible would go completely undocumented by the many historians of the time. The Bible itself was written decades after the supposed life of Jesus.

    -No Christian has been able to sensibly defend why the means of enlightenment, the story of Jesus, is so poor of a method of conversion that the room for conflict is not only vast, but invited. A test of faith is not an acceptable answer. There is no test of faith worth the infinite damnation of billions.

    -Perhaps the biggest reasons is the bible contradicts itself:
    Bible says god is omnipotent (all powerful)
    Bible says god can do anything god chooses to do
    Bible says god MUST destroy evil

    Bible also says satan exists in hell
    Bible says god created man yet evil exists in the world

    So does this mean god isn't really all powerful? If he is why doesn';t he destroy satan, and make sure his created world has no evil in it?

    The answer is god is either false, or not powerful in which case the bible lies so why should anyone put any amount of effort into reading it.

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    Nov 10, 2007 5:35 PM GMT
    isnt' science the study of all things "observable" ? cause many were asking to bring God down to be observed. hence all my questions started with "observed" and "measured" number. Even for the benefit of doubt to waterdown and add huge factor to the measured number. and even do it with natural logarithms for the sake of changing rate, u'd think one finding would match another.

    I can easily add a differential rate change to each of my questions, but to make them all match, one has to determine which one they all should match? if the rate of change is not observable, and exist only to make the initial "assumption" work. is that science to begin with? at best, it's a scientific "guess".

    The point is, go look at every books from primary school to college. all text books spread this "truth" of scientific finding as doctrine. this is just one area, I have yet to start with other so call "finding". But millions use such findings to mock religious believe. unbeknown to themselves they are exercise the same amount of faith as a religious person would.

    I have no problem to define atheist is a deny of existence of a deity. if you deny god, then deny it. but dont' hide behind science and think science is on your side. Science is no excuse for holier then thou attitude.
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    Nov 10, 2007 5:43 PM GMT
    (Mine's longer ;))

    Of course people can SAY they induce god doesn't exist, but induction has been attacked by a few respected philosophers (David Hume was one). People can call themselves atheists all they want, and it is fine with me, but if you do, you cannot call yourself an empiricist. At that point, you make the same leap that Christians make when they think there must be a God. Again, I have no problem with people calling themselves atheists, I just wish people were honest about it.

    Trance, come on. I know all that stuff. I said it before: I think the Bible is an interesting and powerful book because of social arguments (a la nehemiah v. jonah, paul v. peter v. james), the powerful mythos and the social philosophy of Jesus. The arguments you use on evangelicals don't work on me. Here, I can give you more ammo:

    The first two chapters are two different creation stories with 2 different names for God who act in completely different ways.

    When the Hebrews were wandering, they adopted the names of many different other gods in the area and absorbed them into the name for their god (like all those El Shaddai, El Olam etc.) so he is an amalgamation of polytheistic traditions.

    Hebrews may have never been in egypt at all, and if they were, their exodus probably hardly mattered. (Or else the pharaoh described was the wrong one).

    Many of the people Joshua supposedly killed appeared later to bother the Judges.

    No devil or hell in the OT

    4 gospels with VERY different things happening.

    Mark didn't have a resurrection story until added much later.

    Nothing in the bible implies a trinity.

    Really, I could go on and on, I just kind of jumped to the new testament to put a few things. Don't forget, a literal interpretation is a recent "development."

    I really do enjoy talking about this stuff. Like i said before, i know it's myths.
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    Nov 10, 2007 5:53 PM GMT
    Trance23 & sickothesame
    since i'm no authority in theology, I think they are fair questions and hope you find the answer one day.
    Its great to have questions regarding the bible. I mean, if we can understand all thing, then call us gods, right?.
  • Squarejaw

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    Nov 10, 2007 5:54 PM GMT
    We don't believe in science because of faith. We believe in science because it works. Science is responsible for the computer you're typing on. The building you're sitting in. The medication you take.

    And if the building collapses, or the medication doesn't work, science gives us a way of figuring where we went wrong. Buildings are stronger than they used to be, and medicine is more powerful. Because of science.

    Science figured out how to have man-to-man sex without transmitting the AIDS virus. Faith did not.

    Science provides objective, observable evidence for itself in nearly every moment of your life. No one's asking you to take it on faith.

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    Nov 10, 2007 6:35 PM GMT
    well science isn't objective, it is just observable (it can't be both)

    I don't think I said science is faith, but I do think the leap to atheism requires as much faith as Christians take liberty in.

    tbl, I'm not looking for answers to my questions, I already have them. The Bible is a book written by people that shows the evolution of the story of god through time amongst a group of people.
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    Nov 10, 2007 7:00 PM GMT
    i understand what you have said, squarejaw. We believe in science because it works. if situation got desperate, we are prone to take more aggressive faith, such as experimental medication. and spiritually speaking, there are also period a man has to face so desperate that make him leap for faith in God too. just haven't happy to you. weather work or not, initiated on that first leap.

    my point is that science and religion are dealing with very different topics in totally different realms, yet require very similar application to our life. as for it work or not, is really subjective. a disservice would be to imply individual experience as a final answer for all men.
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    Nov 10, 2007 7:14 PM GMT
    I am a devout Christian. I believe (and know) that God created us, Jesus saved us, and through Jesus we get into Heaven. After that, I do not know what else there is really.

    I do not know any of you well enough to go in to explanations, but I have seen things and have experienced things that have proved the existence of God, Angels, Demons, and Satan. They have strengthened, redefined, changed, and enhanced my faith. One man's proof is another man's story so I do not know how well it would go off if I told any of you. But what I can and will say is that there is So Much more to life than what meets the eyes.

    I am Christian, but I think that I am my own form. I can not say that it matters what label you give yourself in what you believe. I think that it is more important that you do believe. God asks for your love and He does not force it. He just hopes that you do because no matter what you say or do, He loves you. Yeah sure the Bible says gay=sin, but those words came from human beings. Humans make mistakes, they misinterpret, they do not have all knowing omnipotent powers. Who is to say that those passages were not just the writer's own words that he wanted to force upon the world?

    Bottom line, God made us and He loves us. He would not have taken the time to specifically create us "sinners" if He did not want us and love us.
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    Nov 10, 2007 7:17 PM GMT
    sound like a good suggestion for another discussion. i'd love to hear what your experience is.
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    Nov 10, 2007 7:28 PM GMT
    Great topic!
    Almost makes up for the eye liner discussionicon_wink.gif

    Christian here; named after John Mark in the Bible.

    My biggest disappointment since coming out this year has been the contempt directed at me as a Christian from my gay brothers.

    I'm accustomed to hate from some in the church, but I was totally not expecting this response from a group seeking acceptance & tolerance from others.

    I don't feel the need to defend my beliefs in a forum on RealJock; that debate has been ongoing for over 2000 years and won't be resolved here. I am puzzled that so many seem offended; even threatened by my Faith and seek to demean it and save me from my ignorance.

    By definition, Faith defies human logic (and pseudo-intellectualism).
    I chose to believe and if you do not, then I'm totally fine with that.

    Love more and judge less.

    John Mark -- Christian
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    Nov 10, 2007 8:24 PM GMT
    Sickothesame: “Of course people can SAY they induce god doesn't exist, but induction has been attacked by a few respected philosophers (David Hume was one). People can call themselves atheists all they want, and it is fine with me, but if you do, you cannot call yourself an empiricist.”

    Again, it is perfectly possible to infer properly that nature is self-contained. You seem to think that the inference is on the unobservable deity itself, when in fact the inference is on the nature of the universe only. I’d be perfectly willing to concede that any number of other existences may exist apart from our reality’s existence, where all sorts of beings may reside, but the problem with the supernatural realm is that it supposedly has some ethereal connection to our own – i.e., that the nature we find ourselves in is not self-contained.

    As for Hume, he hardly “attacked” induction; rather, he simply observed that a system of induction cannot be deduced from anything, nor can you induce induction from its past predictive success, since that would be circular. In modern terms, induction, and in particular its modern formalization in Bayesian reasoning, has axiomatic mathematical foundations, but that is all it has.

    This fact ties into my previous observation that you are holding atheists to a higher standard than scientists. Scientists, who, everyone will acknowledge, are empiricists, use induction to arrive at their conclusions, implicitly relying on the axiomatic Bayesian premises of induction. You reject induction by saying David Hume attacked it, and then apply this rejection to atheism, but you fail to apply your rejection of induction to science itself.

    You’re still on my hotlist, btw =)

    ebl333: “I can easily add a differential rate change to each of my questions…”

    Look, I don’t have a science background. I have a math background. You started by assuming these rates of change (a first derivative), were constant, and now you’re proposing to submerge the constancy in the second derivative. But you presented no reason to believe either of these assumptions, or even that the underlying function is everywhere differentiable (“tipping-point” cusps come to mind). Such an ad hoc approach could not rebut a conclusion (the Earth’s age) drawn on other grounds.

    So, I decided to bite the bullet and do a little internet digging. The specific answers to your questions are available here.
  • Squarejaw

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    Nov 10, 2007 8:54 PM GMT
    It's hard to imagine any useful belief isn't based at least partly on inductive reasoning.

    I'm going to pull this quote from Wikipedia (which, of course, is a font of truthiness):

    "The classic philosophical treatment of the problem of induction, meaning the search for a justification for inductive reasoning, was by the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Hume highlighted the fact that our everyday reasoning depends on patterns of repeated experience rather than deductively valid arguments. For example, we believe that bread will nourish us because it has done so in the past, but this is not a guarantee that it will always do so. As Hume said, someone who insisted on sound deductive justifications for everything would starve to death.

    Instead of approaching everything with unproductive skepticism, Hume advocated a practical skepticism based on common sense, where the inevitability of induction is accepted."

    I'll let the philosophy and logic majors assess the accuracy of this summary.
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    Nov 10, 2007 9:00 PM GMT
    ^ Always impressed by your eloquent, thought out posts.

    But I would now say I am a "pick and choose" bible believer.
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    Nov 10, 2007 9:39 PM GMT
    I'm impressed as well! icon_razz.gif

    To answer to sick above science doesn't require faith. Science by definition is testing your assumptions. Science is always open to further findings that can change the answer.

    I think square said it best earlier. Science gives us answers but always leaves room for improvement, while religion gives us answers that stay the same through time, requiring people to try and alter the words rather than use sound evidence.