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Faith and Reason (No, really)


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Hello!
It?s been a while since I?ve thought of starting up a post. I?ve taken some time away from OB doing a bit of research before starting up medical school (I ended up deferring from med school to get pre-reqs so I can end up with an MD/PhD). I guess that explains the absence. However, I?m hoping to show my face around this place a bit more? I?m sure few of you know who I am.

I thought I?d start with an interesting topic: Faith and Reason.

Let me preface this by saying I?ve done my research. I realize that only a few months ago there was already a similar discussion about God, Inconsistencies in the Bible, etc. (It?s disappointing to see that these threads lacked steam)

So I?m justifying the existence of this thread with some very specific questions and? with some luck? we might use this as a launching point for a more formal debate on a later date.

My story has been a bit of a change over the last few years? I used to be a fairly rational believer in Jesus. I read plenty of apologetic literature (McDowell, Strobel, etc) when debating close friends in little ?Socrates cafes? while I was growing up. Later, evolution became a topic of interest and I spent a lot of time trying to support ?intelligent design creationism? which essentially boiled down to arguing enough holes in evolutionary theory to sit my version of God in.

Fast forward a few years to college. I start reading a few basic criticisms and finally read the bible the whole way through. This is more discouraging than not. I start going to more advanced courses in biology and realize my entire position on intelligent design was in serious error. I take a moment to read authors like Lewis and Collins to try to rescue me from my doubt, but reasonable arguments begin to creep in. I decide to entertain some of my questions about God and the opposing arguments. I read Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Pascal Boyer, PZ Meyers, and other critics of faith. After a great deal of frustration and fear of recourse, I choose to recognize my state of disbelief and exist publicly comfortable with my atheism.

Now, I?m interested in other people?s journeys. I?m curious to see how people tackle the big questions (those that do). I know that, if OB hasn?t changed too much, we?ll have some bright minds willing to use these questions to frame their replies:

1. If you believe in God, why do [i]you[/i] believe?

2. Why do you think [i]others[/i] believe in God?

3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?

4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to [i]not[/i] believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.

[i]for instance; some people think the existence of evil, in light of an all-powerful, all-good God, is a tough question that theologians don?t have a clear answer to and may lead people to non-belief[/i]

5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?

6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?

Let?s start off with these. I?m interested in your replies?
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[COLOR="DarkSlateGray"][SIZE="1"]1. I believe in God more so because I want to believe there is something to look forward to in the afterlife. I am afraid, not of death, but of what lies afterwords. I don't want to be a pile of bones underground. Another reason I eblieve in god is because who else could have create us? But my definition and belief of god is different from most Christians. I DO NOT believe in the bible, or the church. Any place that can say it's a sin to commit adultry and turn around and commit it anyway, doesn't deserve followers imo. Also, a lot the church hates gays and other races/peoples. I know a mojority don't, but the ones that do make me sick.

My god doesn't hate, he loves no matter what. Other than that, I don't think much about religion or god. That stuff stays in my head, I don't let beliefs get in font of my actions.

[B]2[/B]. Personally, for the same reasons I do, and for other reasons.

[B]3.[/B] Well, I believe it worked both ways, god created us, we evolved, and god helped us evolve.

[B]4.[/B] If heat rises is heaven hotter than hell? No really, I'm being totally serious. BUt for me, I don't really know. But stuff like the human veins and stuff, seems too complicated. Why would god go scientific and make are body so complex? It's not like we're walking Rubix Cubes that need solving lol.

[B]5.[/B] I don't quite understand number 5. I mean, UNreasonable faith, yes. Talking about god constantly gets annoying and naggy. I don't care if you love god unconditionally, that's your buisiness, I dont' care about anyone else's beliefs but my own. It's no ones buisiness to know my beliefs, and it's not my buisiness to question some elses.

[B]6.[/B] The universe, I believe in life on other planets, and I believe that God created other life. I mean, if we're the only life forms in the WHOLE universe, whats the point of having a large universe? Also, supernatural phenomenon such as ghosts, spirits, and the unexplanble, like possesion and stuff like that.[/SIZE][/COLOR]
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1. N/A

2. Because they need some kind of purpose in their lives and can't accept that humans don't know anything about how we were created.

3. Science can be compatible with religion, and yes I do believe in evolution. There have been hundreds of instances of survival of the fittest in modern times.

4. I don't know about most compelling, but I've come to accept this statement:

"I don't know. I'll never know while I'm alive. No use wasting time pondering the subject."

5. I think it can occur to an extent, but by definition faith goes that step beyond reason.

6. N/A
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[QUOTE]1. If you believe in God, why do [i]you[/i] believe?[/quote]N/A[quote]2. Why do you think [i]others[/i] believe in God?[/quote]Most people I know are afraid of the idea that there isn't something beyond this life, so believing in God seems to be their way to eradicate that fear.[quote]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?[/quote]I don't know enough to really say, from what little I have read on the subject, I'm fine with the concept of evolution. It's not my final say on the matter since learning more is bound to change how I see it.[quote]4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to [i]not[/i] believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.

[i]for instance; some people think the existence of evil, in light of an all-powerful, all-good God, is a tough question that theologians don?t have a clear answer to and may lead people to non-belief[/i][/quote]Compelling arguments? Nothing beyond the obvious that proving such a thing is in my mind, not really possible.

If I were to argue that someone like God really existed, then evil comes about from free will instead of a failure on his part. But... I don't believe in God so that point is kind of irrelevant.[quote]5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?[/quote]Meh, this is an area I know next to nothing about.[quote]6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?[/QUOTE]N/A
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I'm just gonna say this now 'fore I get all analytical on you: my beliefs are pretty confused, which is to say that I'm not entirely sure what I believe in. I'm on the religious fence, as it were.

That said, I'd like to make an extremely contrary argument by looking at both sides. >3

On the one hand, there's faith and reason warring. Evolution, yes, is the main divider. If God created us, what's up with the dinosaur bones and carbon dating? If it was only evolution, how is it that on this planet in this galaxy in this cosmos was in perfect position to start creating life?

Now there's the other side: faith and reason in relative harmony. You might have noticed how, in history classes, Jesus is referred to as a nonfictional, not-necessarily-religious character in history. Basically, this means that he existed for sure, but whether or not you believe that he was the Messiah is completely up to whether or not you're a religious person.

I think that the two ideas can live together in peace on alot of things, but there are just too many inconsistencies between the two for them to be able to shake hands and agree on a single story.
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[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']1. If you believe in God, why do [i]you[/i] believe?[/QUOTE]
[font=Arial]I don't.

[QUOTE]2. Why do you think [i]others[/i] believe in God?[/QUOTE]
Well, it's kind of judgmental for me to make sweeping generalizations when everyone's reason is different. To me, I would assume people feel like a higher power assigns a greater meaning to their life. Some probably see it as the entire reason to good -- to escape divine judgment. Some simply feel it's comforting to have something waiting for them in the cold abyss that is death.

[QUOTE]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?[/QUOTE]
I absolutely accept evolutionary theory, and I think those who don't should truly and honestly look into it. I think faith can be reconciled with science, and a lot of times it's quite easy to do so. Personally I don't see the massive conflict.

[QUOTE]4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to [i]not[/i] believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.[/QUOTE]
The presence of extreme suffering in the world. The lack of actual evidence -- all the divine intervention happened thousands of years ago, and there's no more of it. Strange, no? The Bible has a great number of contradictions as well.

But when you step back and examine the human race as simply another animal, just as insignificant as an ant in the scope of the universe, it is truly humbling. I don't think many people understand the vastness of the universe, how the Earth isn't even a grain of sand on a beach, how small, finite, and fragile we are. When you truly understand that, I think you'd have trouble thinking you are God's "highest creation," so special and individual.

[QUOTE]5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?[/QUOTE]
Absolutely there can be "reasonable faith". However I think it requires a great deal of depersonalization of the entity we consider to be "God". In the end, everyone will know that we simply don't have all the answers, and that there leaves a great amount of room for supernatural explanations. But the most powerful faiths I have seen have not been the blind, but the reasoned. Those who can appreciate the grand order of existence, the complexities of it, and simply marvel at its greatness.

[QUOTE]I?m interested in your replies?[/QUOTE]
Likewise, champ.[/font]
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[SIZE=1]1. I no longer believe in a God or gods - I used to, but with age that belief has waned somewhat.

2. While I personally have no belief in God, I understand that for a lot of people faith is incredibly important - it helps them through bleak times in their lives, the loss of loved ones and the like. I imagine it could be a great comfort to people to know that supposedly everything happens for a reason.

3. I accept evolutionary theory, and have no qualms in saying that people who don't simply haven't read enough. However, I think that belief in evolution doesn't mean that you must renounce your faith - if you look at a lot of "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking there is a lot of suggestion that once we reach the limits of human understanding (science etc.) then we are forced to admit that there could be some sort of divine influence out there. If a man that clever can accept that science and religion live side by side then I think it's worth a shot.

4. The pain and suffering that has been done in God's name. Suicide bombers claiming they are doing God's will. Israel and Palestine. The Crusades, for goodness' sake.

5. Is something it's a little too early to make a cogent response to.

6. N/A
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[COLOR="RoyalBlue"][FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"][B]1. If you believe in God, why do you believe?[/B]

I don't.

[B]2. Why do you think others believe in God?[/B]

I can't presume to know what others think, but I imagine it's a combination of wanting to think there is more than the short lives we have. As Rach mentioned, I've run into people who are literally terrified over the notion that there is nothing after death. So it seems that their belief in God is merely something to still that fear.

[B]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?[/B]

I tend to believe more in evolution than I do creationism. I honestly don't know enough on both subjects to fully say one way or the other, however, if I don't believe in God, that kind of makes believing in creationism problematic.

[B]4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to not believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.

for instance; some people think the existence of evil, in light of an all-powerful, all-good God, is a tough question that theologians don?t have a clear answer to and may lead people to non-belief[/B]

Inability to actually prove such a being exists. I questioned that all the time when I was a child and the only tangible answer I ever got back was that it was my lack of faith that was the problem... That's not good enough for me, I want more.

Ironically I have no issue with the concept of evil disproving something like God. However that ties into the Mormon beliefs that I was raised with [[SIZE="1"]though I no longer follow that faith[/SIZE]] since in that belief the concept that you have to make your own choices, good or bad, is something I agree with regardless of religion.

[B]5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?[/B]

I'd need to know more about this before I could give an opinion on it.

[B]6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?[/B]

Since I don't believe... this doesn't really apply.[/FONT][/COLOR]
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[SIZE="1"]Okay, here we go. Please forgive me for answering this in a very long and roundabout way; ideally, I'd like this post to be a [I]clarification[/I] of the questions involved rather than just a personal opinion.

The problem starts with the word "belief": when someone says they believe in God, how should we understand this? Usually when we say "believe" we mean that a certain person holds something to be true. So for instance, if I say, "I believe the new season of Haruhi won't be as great as the first one," I mean that I have considered a certain [I]fact[/I] (the quality of the new Haruhi season) that looks like it could go one way or another, and for various reasons (patterns I may have spotted from past shows, or whatever) I have decided that one of those options is the case to the exclusion of the others.

But belief in God might be something different. Of course, depending on how the word "God" is used it might not be - I might really believe that God exists in the same way that I might believe something about Haruhi's quality (and I think when people argue that it's more likely or less likely, or more reasonable or less reasonable, that God exists, that they are using the word in this way). The usual understanding of God, though, is of something all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing, and all-loving - what St. Anselm called "that than which nothing greater can be imagined." These kinds of terms stretch our language and our ideas to the breaking point (maybe beyond). And [I]properly[/I] speaking, I don't think we (us humans) can make [I]sense[/I] of such a thing. That, presumably, is why the same St. Anselm also says that God is not only that than which nothing greater can be thought, but also "something greater than can be thought." And with that, we hit upon the very strange fact that atheists and the (more thoughtful) believers actually have a lot in common. Atheists will look upon the concept of God - something all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. - and say that this idea can't be understood, that we could never possibly perceive or experience such a being. The believers (if they have given it some thought) will [I]also[/I] say that God can neither be understood nor really experienced (at least, within natural means). The atheists infer from this that God could never possibly exist, while the believers find that this is the only being that could ever [I]deserve[/I] the name God - precisely because it's beyond such comprehension. The atheist thesis that if God existed then God would have to be completely unlike every other being is the [I]basic starting point[/I] of theology. Justifiably so: what would a God be, if it were an easily digestible object of knowledge like any other? if I can be forgiven for quoting Kierkegaard: "If I can grasp God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do so I must believe." When I believe something about Haruhi, I do so because I can [I]conceive[/I] the show in various ways (as related to certain states of affairs). God, by our definition, is inconceivable. Belief in God, when it happens, thus has to work in a way completely alien to every other kind of belief. This is nicely summed up by Luther's famous line that "faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see."

This confusion about what "believing in God" means continues into the meaning of faith. Usually when we use the word "faith" we mean it in the sense of taking something to be true without a reason. Hearing "faith in God" in this sense, we imagine that it means to hold a certain opinion - that "a being which is God exists" - in an "irrational" way, as opposed to rationally justified beliefs (such as those of science). The usual way that dogmatic believers now like to deal with this is by saying that at some point science, too, is "irrational" in the sense that it takes some things (the orderliness of the universe, for example) for granted. That may be true as far as things go, but it really just confuses the issue more. The heart of the problem, I think, is that "faith in God" - understanding God to be what was meant above - [I]can't[/I] be taken as holding something to be true, with [I]or[/I] without reason. It can't even fall onto the map of rationality and irrationality. If God is really incomprehensible - that is, if God's really God - we can't even know [I]what it would mean[/I] to hold that something about God is true or not. Broadly speaking, having faith in God means [I]not knowing[/I] what it is you have faith in. This is clear even in Christian literature, sometimes agonizingly so: Augustine, the best example, constantly doubts whether his conversion was "real" or just some momentary sense of pleasure, or even a trick by the devil. That he nevertheless pressed on (despite apparently recognizing that his "conversion" may have been the result of something he had eaten earlier that day) indicates not an "irrational belief" - what, exactly, would he be holding as true? - but rather a sort of [I]practical[/I] absurdity. That, it seems to me, is more typical of faith than "belief" of the usual sort: faith is a sort of state wherein one acts in a way which even to oneself makes no real sense and has no real justification, while one nevertheless [I]wishes [/I](or even expects) that at some place, at some time, at some level, those actions will come to mean something. So although there might be many kinds of faith (in this sense), [I]religious [/I]faith - that the sense of one's actions will only be clear to a being who is (to us) unthinkable - could be thought of as the most extreme.

tl;dr - the difference between atheists and believers is [I]not[/I] that one holds a certain proposition to be true while the other denies it (which is what it looks like when framed as a question about "belief" as holding something to be true). It's not a question of "rationality" versus "irrationality." To put the answer boardly, the issue is really about [I]at what level actions make (or might make) sense[/I]. And with all of these distinctions in place, maybe I can start on your questions.

1. I would say that I [I]hold out hope[/I] for God. That's about the best answer I can give. And I don't (or can't) hope [I]much[/I], mind you (I'm not very good as far as believers go).

2. I think they come to it in their own ways. And since this is as good a place to say it as anywhere: I don't mean to imply that there aren't also idolators out there. There are tons: again, I'm not much of a believer myself, but I tend to think that idol worship has now reached something of a Golden Age. Imagine that someone believes in God (i.e. holds God to exist) because they think God stands against certain enemies they have, or certain things they dislike; imagine that someone believes in God because they think it will save them from the oblivion of death or an eternity in Hell; imagine that someone believes in God because without such a being their life or their actions would have no meaning, or because there would be no difference between right and wrong, or because human beings would cease to be special. What is any of this but the [I]worst[/i] kind of idolatry? What does it amount to, except making an [I]object[/I] which can fulfill our own desires and giving it the name "God"? Thus we use "God" as a merchant who's pleased to accept the right coin, and who gives back rewards in exchange; thus we use "God" as a guarantor of value and morality, a watchdog who makes sure we remain comfortable in our lives. Really, anyone who's read a little should be able to recognize this for what it is. And Job in particular (my favorite book in the OT) is expressly devoted to destroying this idea.

3. Creationism (by which I understand the idea that God created the earth several thousand years ago, along with human beings and many if not all of the other animals) is bad science and worse theology. Only a fool could think such an idea is still scientifically acceptable, and only a brute could think that there are no other ways of reading Genesis 1 and 2. ID theory has been a bit smarter, in that it really amounts to an attack on evolution with the buried assumption that if "darwinism" falls then the only remaining explanation is divine (or alien) intervention. ID's objections have long since been answered fairly conclusively, but the existence of the dispute still makes it politically acceptable to push gussied-up creationism into classrooms under the cover of "teaching the controversy." If I didn't know any better, I'd suspect that was the goal all along.

Concerning the broader question of "science's compatibility with belief," I would say that the two basically aren't in competition. Scientific method, especially since the early 20th century, is grounded in the idea that its theses should be [I]testable[/I], or at the very least conceivable. In other words, in science we should at least be able to know what it would [I]mean[/I] for a thesis to be true or false. As I tried to say above, this is not the case with God, since a scientifically knowable God wouldn't be God. Science can, as Laplace once said, do without the assumption of God, but that also means it can speak neither for nor against such a being.

4. Oddly, theodicy (the problem you mention here) doesn't seem to me to be a great difficulty - and this, again, because we don't know what it [I]means[/I] for something to be an all-good, all-powerful being. Once again, Job is good to read on this. Second, if you take the tradition seriously, I think the more basic challenge to faith is the idolatry mentioned above - the distraction where one makes a sort of fetish out of God and clings to it for comfort. If this is true, then the strange consequence is that the "atheists" are, in a sense, closer to being genuine believers than the idolaters (and this, too, has biblical justification in some of the parables).

5. I think I basically already answered this in my long exposition above. On my understanding, to consider faith "reasonable" or "unreasonable" is to make a sort of category mistake.

6. Well, if you take me seriously, then my having evidence for God would invalidate the thing's being God.

All right, that's all. If you've read this all the way through, thank you for the effort. I hope I've been reasonably clear, at least; in any case, I don't think I could do very much better.[/SIZE]
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[COLOR="DarkGreen"][FONT="Book Antiqua"][QUOTE][SIZE="1"]2. I think they come to it in their own ways. And since this is as good a place to say it as anywhere: I don't mean to imply that there aren't also idolators out there. There are tons: again, I'm not much of a believer myself, but I tend to think that idol worship has now reached something of a Golden Age. Imagine that someone believes in God (i.e. holds God to exist) because they think God stands against certain enemies they have, or certain things they dislike; imagine that someone believes in God because they think it will save them from the oblivion of death or an eternity in Hell; imagine that someone believes in God because without such a being their life or their actions would have no meaning, or because there would be no difference between right and wrong, or because human beings would cease to be special. What is any of this but the [I]worst[/i] kind of idolatry? What does it amount to, except making an [I]object[/I] which can fulfill our own desires and giving it the name "God"? Thus we use "God" as a merchant who's pleased to accept the right coin, and who gives back rewards in exchange; thus we use "God" as a guarantor of value and morality, a watchdog who makes sure we remain comfortable in our lives. Really, anyone who's read a little should be able to recognize this for what it is. And Job in particular (my favorite book in the OT) is expressly devoted to destroying this idea.[/SIZE][/QUOTE]I really like the way you explained/answered that question. Anyway... moving on to my own attempt to answer the questions.

[B]1. If you believe in God, why do you believe?[/B]

I do not.

[B]2. Why do you think others believe in God?[/B]

See above quote.

[B]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?[/B]

Evolution is my take as I don't really accept the idea of creationism since it seems to be nothing more than a means to continue one's belief that a being such as God exists. However, my knowledge of both is pretty sketchy so that opinion is subject to change.

[B]4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to not believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.

for instance; some people think the existence of evil, in light of an all-powerful, all-good God, is a tough question that theologians don?t have a clear answer to and may lead people to non-belief[/B]

I don't think an argument is necessary, it's something that it's very description is something you can't experience or prove. It either exists of it doesn't and I find the idea of spending so much time saying yes it does and no it doesn't, kind of pointless.

[B]5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?[/B]

I really don't know much about this concept so I'm going to leave it be.

[B]6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?[/B]

I don't so therefore, no reason or evidence. [/FONT][/COLOR]
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Wow. I now instantaneously love these boards. I never thought I'd see a controversial topic. I guess I'm too used to to those safe boards I was always on when I was younger. Bloody safe boards! Anyway, I'm totally going to have a field day with this.


[I]1. If you believe in God, why do you believe?[/I]
I never believed in one god. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that one being was an overlord to the rest of us, a king of an old world. As I grew older, though, I began to look into mythological stories, and study legends. The old religions like Asatru and Ancient Egyptian appealed to me, but still my heart wasn't in it. Then I started thinking about religion and really decided 'Why have organized religion?' All religion is is a way to represent your beliefs, almost like some kind of whacked out spiritial governmental faction. Can't you just believe something without labeling yourself?

So today, I believe the 3 fates guide over our lives, the soul has its own material plane where the 'gods' or more powerful souls reside, reincarnation, that spirits take the shape of animals, and that miracles and magic can't happen on our plane. As you can see, it draws influences from Greek, Wiccan, Otherkin, Hindu, and several others not mentioned. I decided there's no need to explain. Why explain yourself to the eyes of another?

[I]2. Why do you think others believe in God?[/I]
I believe they have no other choice. Whenever I meet a religious person, my first question is "Who told you about your religion?" I always get the same answer: My parents did and I believed. Most never even looked into anything else, blindly following in their parents footsteps because it was the most comfortable thing to do.

If I could remember more of the several Psychology classes I took and went all Freud on you, I'd chalk this up to being a person's way of connected with their parents, going an extra step to be who their parent's wanted them to be, conforming under Authority. We're taught to listen to those wiser than us all our lives, and the mass of people who follow this conventional menthod do nothing but.

[I]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?[/I]
I also believe in guided evolution, simply because evolution's too much of a realistic influence, but the amount of forethought that seemed to have gone into it is also astounding. If the universe is endless, than the settings for life were bound to happen somewhere, but to this degree?

[I]4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to not believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.[/I]
I think how heavily the bible, the only rallying point for the Christian religion, has been edited, reworded, and redone is the greatest challange. All the missing books and controversial ideas were taken out in a huge editing session in the 400's (I think) to make the Bible make more sense. If the bible really was a testament of a grand god, why would it be changed so ferviously?

Also, people blindly follow the bible without questioning its origins. The bible was literally written by various men. It comes from that man's perspective, and has been shaded with judgement from the writers. 20 people who have never met to each worked on a section of a book and then eventually had an editer clean it up. Whose to even say which part is actually from god and which from imagination?

The biggest argument I hear is "Well, they've found proof that Mount Everest was underwater at one time, so that proves the whole entirety of the bible." That was a bit overdramatized but you get my point. Most religions have a flood stroy. It's actually eerie how many do. So the world flooded and someone integrated it into part of their book, which was later turned into a part of the whole book. Great. But that really doesn't actualize the bible in its entirety. Come on, people!

[I]5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?[/I]
As I said above, guided evolution seems to be the only reasonable faith I got. Everything else is just beliefs.

[I]6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?[/I]
I don't, and evidence isn't necessary. Believe what you will, live and let live, and quit fights and wars over stupid belief battles. It's your belief, you don't have to explain it to anyone. Simply believe in it.

That was fun! :smirk:
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[COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"]Ah you must be so very new Decay. Welcome. Don't look like the weak member in a herd. They pick you off first.

But back to this. It appears that moral relativism has sunk it's claws firmly into the populace. Oh goodie.

1. I'm tempted to say something like "it seemed like a good idea at the time," but it's a personal choice.

2. People search for meaning all the time in their lives, and while some are doing it for selfish reasons, others do it because they believe it to be the right thing to believe. I've seen people convert in hospitals before dying of cancer a few months later, and I've seen people healed inexplicably from cancer who had enough faith to pray. Or perhaps had the right body capable of healing itself. Who knows?

3. I believe there is no real point in debating intelligent design vs. evolution. I believe that evolution is a form of intelligent design. And I'd like to believe that God is intelligent.

4. The greatest challenge to people's faith might be the self, but I also think it's other people. I will admit. Going to church and seeing some of the hypocritical ******** was pretty depressing and very difficult to take after spending time with people who are upfront about being evil, or lying, or just being criminals in general. But to trot out a mildly pithy statement, "Keep your eyes on Christians and you'll always be disappointed. Keep your eyes on God and you won't be."

5. See: Thomas Aquinas.

6. My evidence is the faith in things unseen.
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[FONT=Arial][B] 1. If you believe in God, why do [I]you[/I] believe?
[/B]I don't know that I believe in one. there's no proof that there isn't one, but there's no proof that stands up to scrutiny that there is one either. so, the two cancel each other out for me. I'm agnostic, towards the side of 'you need to convince me first'.

[/FONT][FONT=Arial][B]2. Why do you think [I]others[/I] believe in God?
[/B]the first one I can think of is simply the want/need to believe in a god so they'll feel better about dying, or because the thought of going to heaven after death or whatever else a religion teaches makes it easier to keep living.
[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]the second is the want/need to give reason to phenomena (ie miracles, freak accidents, the beginnings of 'life' as you want to interpret it, etc.) that haven't been explained yet. people in general seem to hate ambiguity, so if something doesn't make sense, they [I]have to [/I]come up with something that makes things fit. thousands of years ago, if there was a huge storm, the people generally attributed it to a god being angry/sad/whatever because hey!, where else would it have come from? now that the science of weather is understood, the thought that storms come from a god venting its feelings is laughable and offensive at best (i.e. "Hurricane Katrina happened because of all the gays in New Orleans!" -- yes, that is an actual accusation, among other equally disgusting statements to further push certain people's morality agendas). the only difference between then and now is we have more information. and [/FONT][FONT=Arial]humans already know everything there is to know at this point (right? :rolleyes:), so what else could be responsible for the unexplainable other than a supreme being?

[B]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What’s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?
[/B]if you believe in a god, I think you could fairly easily rationalize God himself being responsible for evolution if it's explained convincingly enough, unless you take the King James version Bible literally. if science happens to works with your religion, then great. but I don't know how you can make science line up with a religious belief when something doesn't mix without changing either of them (if you change the religion, then what the hell are you doing calling it truth when you just change it whenever you feel like it?, and I don't know how the science part could possibly be changed).
[B]
4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to [I]not[/I] believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples’ faith.
[/B]I think that my answers to #2 also fit here as far as saying how those reasons don't prove anything, at least.

wanting or needing something to be true, especially concerning [B]objective [/B]matters like the existence of a god that's talked about in the Bible, doesn't make something exist (you can't just create the god that's talked about in the Bible with your mind). I could will the sun to turn purple all day long, but just because I want it to happen doesn't mean it's going to happen or ever will (unless you live in a DBZ series). I very well will just have to deal with the fact that whenever I attempt to look at the sun, it will look yellow-y white and not purple. that just sucks.

to add to that, many people seem to just take what they've heard since childhood as fact and stick with it for tradition's sake. sometimes people will believe in a god or church simply because they were raised to and they don't want to think about it too much. those same people would be saying the same thing about a different religion if they'd been born on the other side of the country/world with a different upbringing. being raised at the end of generations of a religious tradition doesn't necessarily make that tradition accurate (or even good), either.[/FONT][FONT=Arial][B]

5. Do you think there is such thing as “reasonable faith”? Or, do you think they are in conflict?
[/B]maybe, but I don't think so. I'd say the more inclined you are in one way (going off of facts instead of faith, or vice versa), you're going to have an even lesser chance of being able to see it the other way when confronted.

[B] 6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?
[/B]all the proof I need is this feeling in my heart. ..........or is that my burrito talking? :nervous:
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[quote name='Aberinkula'][COLOR="DarkSlateGray"][SIZE="1"]That stuff stays in my head, I don't let beliefs get in font of my actions. [/SIZE][/COLOR][/QUOTE]]
Are you sure about this? I?m not sure this is possible. But, if by ?beliefs? you mean ?religious beliefs? (Fasteriskhead brought up the semantics error in later point with me), well, that?s admirable of you.

[quote name='Aberinkula'][COLOR="DarkSlateGray"][SIZE="1"]
[B]4.[/B] But stuff like the human veins and stuff, seems too complicated. Why would god go scientific and make are body so complex? It's not like we're walking Rubix Cubes that need solving lol. [/SIZE][/COLOR][/QUOTE]
This is interesting. The appearance of complexity is actually something that would be an argument [i]against[/i] a designer? Interesting point. Perhaps a good one. If Intelligent Design assumes that complexity inductively fills the challenge of the complexity with a ?Designer? it begs the question: what?s the better mousetrap? The more complex or the less complex? Indeed, the complexity of our bodies also makes some of our medical dilemmas more potent than if we had simpler mechanisms to achieve the same ends (metabolic, etc.). For example, study our digestive system- specifically the Kidneys. They are frankly poor examples of ?design?. They function by absorbing water, losing water, re-absorbing water, and hopefully absorbing enough to maintain a gradient that will permit waste removal. Compare that with a dialysis machine which achieves the same outcome in a single, smooth step. Couldn?t God have made something a bit simpler and efficient?


[quote name='Rachmaninoff']Compelling arguments? Nothing beyond the obvious that proving such a thing is in my mind, not really possible. [/QUOTE]

No one is suggesting a smoking gun, I hope. In fact, there shouldn?t be ?negative? proof, really since you can?t logically prove a negative (disprove anything). We should all acknowledge the burden of proof is on the affirmative case (God), however it might be worth discussing some of the challenges faith ?faces?.

[quote name='Retribution'][font=Arial]
Well, it's kind of judgmental for me to make sweeping generalizations when everyone's reason is different. [/font][/QUOTE]
First, I don?t think anyone?s going to be making sweeping generalizations. The idea is for everyone to consider the question as they have already?putting themselves in the shoes of believers if necessary.

Second, I think this is, at least, a sociologically relevant question. There have been studies taken asking the same two questions (Why do you believe? Why do you think others believe?) (1). If there?s any [i]debate[/i] about faith (and why shouldn?t there be?) it?s good to know the reasons for believing in the supernatural.


[quote name='SunfallE'][COLOR="RoyalBlue"][FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"]
Ironically I have no issue with the concept of evil disproving something like God. However that ties into the Mormon beliefs that I was raised with [[SIZE="1"]though I no longer follow that faith[/SIZE]] since in that belief the concept that you have to make your own choices, good or bad, is something I agree with regardless of religion.
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You bring up a good point SunfallE. However, this begs the question (Rach brought it up earlier in a hypothetical): Is our ?will? free?

Fasteriskhead, excellent post. I appreciate the depth of thought you?re contributing to the topic.
[quote name='Fasteriskhead'][SIZE="1"]
The problem starts with the word "belief": when someone says they believe in God, how should we understand this? Usually when we say "believe" we mean that a certain person holds something to be true. So for instance, if I say, "I believe the new season of Haruhi won't be as great as the first one," I mean that I have considered a certain [I]fact[/I] (the quality of the new Haruhi season) that looks like it could go one way or another, and for various reasons (patterns I may have spotted from past shows, or whatever) I have decided that one of those options is the case to the exclusion of the others. [/SIZE][/QUOTE]

I?m not sure your analogy works here. Because the [i]existence[/i] of something is different than the qualitative nature of something. Your belief that Haruhi won?t be as great as the first still assumes, [i]a priori[/i], that Haruhi exists.

A better analogy of this might be: I have no idea what Haruhi [i]is[/i]. You talk to me about the show (I?m assuming it?s an anime?) and tell me about how ?great? it is. I would (as a skeptic) first likely ask, ?What is Haruhi?? If you were to show me the DVD, let me watch the show, and experience it?that would be sufficient to prove to me that Haruhi indeed exists and I could later come to some subjective judgment about it later.

However, if you were to say something like. ?Haruhi plays in your heart when you believe in Harhui. It?s a fantastic show, but it?s invisible and quite supernatural. But if you truly believe, you will get to watch Haruhi in your mind.? That would be quite another thing to consider.

[quote name='Fasteriskhead'][SIZE="1"]
But belief in God might be something different. Of course, depending on how the word "God" is used it might not be - I might really believe that God exists in the same way that I might believe something about Haruhi's quality (and I think when people argue that it's more likely or less likely, or more reasonable or less reasonable, that God exists, that they are using the word in this way). [b]The usual understanding of God, though, is of something all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing, and all-loving - what St. Anselm called "that than which nothing greater can be imagined." These kinds of terms stretch our language and our ideas to the breaking point (maybe beyond). And [I]properly[/I] speaking, I don't think we (us humans) can make [I]sense[/I] of such a thing. That, presumably, is why the same St. Anselm also says that God is not only that than which nothing greater can be thought, but also "something greater than can be thought." [/b] And with that, we hit upon the very strange fact that atheists and the (more thoughtful) believers actually have a lot in common. Atheists will look upon the concept of God - something all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. - and say that this idea can't be understood, that we could never possibly perceive or experience such a being. The believers (if they have given it some thought) will [I]also[/I] say that God can neither be understood nor really experienced (at least, within natural means). The atheists infer from this that God could never possibly exist, while the believers find that this is the only being that could ever [I]deserve[/I] the name God - precisely because it's beyond such comprehension. The atheist thesis that if God existed then God would have to be completely unlike every other being is the [I]basic starting point[/I] of theology. Justifiably so: what would a God be, if it were an easily digestible object of knowledge like any other? [b] If I can be forgiven for quoting Kierkegaard: "If I can grasp God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do so I must believe." [/b] When I believe something about Haruhi, I do so because I can [I]conceive[/I] the show in various ways (as related to certain states of affairs). God, by our definition, is inconceivable. Belief in God, when it happens, thus has to work in a way completely alien to every other kind of belief. This is nicely summed up by Luther's famous line that "faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see." [/SIZE][/QUOTE]

(I added the bold emphasis) Interesting, but St. Anselm?s ontological proof [i]didn?t[/i] assume a God transcending interaction with the natural world, did he? That?s the difference. Correspondingly, Thomistic theology also arranges a ?rank? of being where God?s ?subjectivity? is our ?objectivity?. That is, what we observe as reality is a plaything for an omnipotent being like God, answering the question ?is God beholden to truth?? with ?No, God decides Truth, God is Truth.? I guess that?s why he breaks his own rules so much in the Bible.

Regardless, I think it?s important that you bring up Kierkegaard. He was a big fan of the perceived ?absurd? nature of God, where God can promise one thing and tell you to break his promise (Abraham sacrificing Isaac being Kierkegaard?s golden example). Kierkegaard followed this to the conclusion that God must be ?above? reason.

Hiedegger (and your post sort of reminds me of his work) nails Kierkegaard and Anselm by re-examining the ontological dilemma. He questions: If God is so big and beyond any effort to constrain by normal definitions, what about ?existence?? Is God outside of existence? Doesn?t God, if he exist, necessarily constrained by the [i]actual[/i] dichotomy of existence and non-existence?

Even if we entertain Anselm?s challenge, what other attributes does God take? God is beyond the ultimate notion of ?good?, ?true?, ?powerful?; why not ?evil? ?smelly? ?nonexistent?? A transcendental notion of God opens up a bigger gap to stick God into, but that?s not the sort of God people believe in. They believe in a God that exists (even if outside space and time) and seems to interact with us (via revelation, holy text, and sometimes prophets or incarnations of God).

[quote name='Fasteriskhead'][SIZE="1"] Broadly speaking, having faith in God means [I]not knowing[/I] what it is you have faith in. This is clear even in Christian literature, sometimes agonizingly so: Augustine, the best example, constantly doubts whether his conversion was "real" or just some momentary sense of pleasure, or even a trick by the devil. That he nevertheless pressed on (despite apparently recognizing that his "conversion" may have been the result of something he had eaten earlier that day) indicates not an "irrational belief" - what, exactly, would he be holding as true? - but rather a sort of [I]practical[/I] absurdity. That, it seems to me, is more typical of faith than "belief" of the usual sort: faith is a sort of state wherein one acts in a way which even to oneself makes no real sense and has no real justification, while one nevertheless [I]wishes [/I](or even expects) that at some place, at some time, at some level, those actions will come to mean something. [/SIZE][/QUOTE]

I agree, good point.

[quote name='Fasteriskhead'][SIZE="1"] As I tried to say above, this is not the case with God, since a scientifically knowable God wouldn't be God. Science can, as Laplace once said, do without the assumption of God, but that also means it can speak neither for nor against such a being. [/SIZE][/QUOTE]

Overall, I concur with most of what you?ve said. I?m certainly not arguing with the idea that science cannot comment on the existence of ?God?. However, what about where God supposedly interacts with the natural world in the form of miracles? Aren?t these scientific questions. What about when Elijah has God ?stop the Sun? in the sky for three days so that he may finish a battle?

[quote name='Fasteriskhead'][SIZE="1"]
All right, that's all. If you've read this all the way through, thank you for the effort. I hope I've been reasonably clear, at least; in any case, I don't think I could do very much better.[/SIZE][/QUOTE]

I?ve had a jolly time reading your post. I?m looking forward to further discussion.

[quote name='Decay']
If I could remember more of the several Psychology classes I took and went all Freud on you[/QUOTE]

No worries. You can spare us the Freud. :-p

[quote name='Decay'] The biggest argument I hear is "Well, they've found proof that Mount Everest was underwater at one time, so that proves the whole entirety of the bible." That was a bit overdramatized but you get my point. Most religions have a flood stroy. It's actually eerie how many do. [/QUOTE]
I think a better explanation is because most large cultures have been traditionally costal (Assyrians, Egyptians, Chinese, Babylonians, Romans, etc.). You?ll probably note an absence of flood stories for, say, northern European cultures, mid-north American cultures.

[quote name='Decay'] I don't, and evidence isn't necessary. Believe what you will, live and let live, and quit fights and wars over stupid belief battles. It's your belief, you don't have to explain it to anyone. Simply believe in it.
That was fun! :smirk:[/QUOTE]
I don?t think this is a good idea. Of course, everyone is free to believe what they choose. But [i]wanting[/i] to believe in something or believing in something without evidence begs the question to me: Is it true?

Hey Raiha, been a long time? how have you been?
[quote name='Raiha'][COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"]
But back to this. It appears that moral relativism has sunk it's claws firmly into the populace. Oh goodie. [/FONT][/COLOR][/QUOTE]

I think you?ve got a point. I think a postmodern approach to the debate is intellectually bankrupt.

[quote name='Raiha'][COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"]
5.See: Thomas Aquinas.
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Which of his ?proofs? are still valid today?

[quote name='Raiha'][COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"]
6. My evidence is the faith in things unseen.
[/FONT][/COLOR][/QUOTE]
This is awfully circular. To put it another way: Faith is belief in the absence of evidence, my evidence is faith, my evidence is the absence of evidence??

I?ll post my replies when I get back from travel planning.


Source:
(1) Michael Shermer and Frank J. Sulloway, ?Religion and Belief in God: An empirical Study,? in press 2006. Survey obtained by Survey Sampling, Inc.
The discussion of the survey?s results and interpretation of data is well furnished in Shermer?s book [u]Why Darwin Matters[/u].
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[COLOR="DarkSlateGray"][SIZE="1"]Another, and very odd belief I used to believe, was the thouight taht maybe we are just, well, a digital universe. It seems like a kiddie story more than a true belief. But I did, and I still do a bit.

One reason why I believe/ed that theory was the complexity of our universe. The big bang could be discribed as a mass creation of multiple programs, different galaxies are sub-structures within the massive Universal Structure. Ghosts and spirits could be data left behind after deletion(death) that suffered a malfunction (uncomplete deletion). People could assume our roles and it would further from there, they control us, and when they're finished with us, we die. In other words, suffer deletion.

It's an odd theory, but It's plausable. After all, you can't say any religion is foolish/false, how would you know if it's not right or not? In religion theres nothing that sounds too far fetched. But I do have something against Scientology. It was founded by a guy who WROTE sci-fi stories... ugh.[/SIZE][/COLOR]
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[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']

1. If you believe in God, why do [i]you[/i] believe?

2. Why do you think [i]others[/i] believe in God?

3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What’s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?

4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to [i]not[/i] believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples’ faith.

[i]for instance; some people think the existence of evil, in light of an all-powerful, all-good God, is a tough question that theologians don’t have a clear answer to and may lead people to non-belief[/i]

5. Do you think there is such thing as “reasonable faith”? Or, do you think they are in conflict?

6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?

Let’s start off with these. I’m interested in your replies?[/QUOTE]

[color=royalblue][size=1]

[b]1.[/b] I do believe in God, but my perception of God is more of the collective spirit of all things which live. I believe in God because of the presence of life, life forms, the presence of Earth within the universe, and the presence of the universe to begin with. I believe in the God that I suppose Einstein believed in, and I am what I consider a Zen Buddhist. I am a deep believer in Karma and reincarnation aswell.

[b]2.[/b] As simple means to understand the world and universe around them, and as a way of explaining the good and bad aspects of fate and life.

[b]3.[/b] I don't believe in the Garden of Eden or anything like that. I'm a firm believer in evolution by scientific means. I simply beleive that, since life forms exist to begin with and due to the advanced nature of humans (art, spirituality, philosphy) that God guided evolution by some means. God isn't so much a reason of why we are here, but how we are here.

[b]4.[/b] I suppose science is a pretty viable reason. Evolution, the big bang, etc. If I haven't experienced things that are seemingly 'impossible' by scientific explanation, then maybe I'd be more skeptical. However, human achievements in art, self-expression, athleticism, and simply pushing the boundaries of what the body is capable of have pushed me to believe in the spirit, soul, and the collective soul of all which is in my definition, God.

[b]5.[/b] I believe my faith is reasonable. When our bodies die, our biological make-up and energies return to Earth and become something new. Nutrients for plants which become nutrients to animals, which become nutrients to humans, who go on to have more children. The circle of life, as the Lion King put it. I believe that based on the good and bad we do on Earth dictates how our souls, our conciousness, is reincarnated back onto Earth. I suppose our conciousness is the closest to a soul we have, I beleive that since energy cannot be destroyed, only changed, that our mental or spiritual energies, simply move on as well. That seems rather logical to me.

I believe that God is inherit in all things, and isn't some omnipotent being who watches from above. I believe God is part of me, and the people and things around me. So I respect fellow humans and nature, and thus, I respect God. This incurs good karma, which then allows me to have good things occur to me, or be reincarnated into a positive life. If I were to dedicate my life completely to serving my fellow man and attaining good karma, then I think I will reach nirvana, and end my reincarnation cycle, and be one with the collective spirit of God. I believe in the Four Noble truths and the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. That all makes perfect sense to me.

[b]6.[/b] There is reason for all things in science. I'm a scientific person I believe. So the Big Bang could not simply have always been. Something must have preceded it. The universe, I believe, wasn't a random occurence, nor do I believe Earth is random. I believe that the presence of unefficient life forms such as human beings is proof of God. The spirit, that which feels, emotes, grows, develops conciousness, mentality, wisdom, and expresses, that is the presence of God. Life forms are God, Earth is God, me and you are God, or parts of God. Why harm you if I am part of you? That would be harming me and God. I don't believe in random, I believe in reasons. Karma dictates the events that befall us. God allowed for the Big Bang to occur, and dictated the laws of the universe that guide us scientifically. I believe whole heartedly in science and the laws of science. I simply believe that the reason these laws even exist is because God created the universe and inhabits it with us.

Art and science have developed to the point where humans can achieve wonders beyond comprehension. Masterpieces of vision and sound, because God manifests within us and we are able, we are drived, to express ourselves not for survival, but just for the feeling. We think, therefore we feel, and we express because we feel. I believe that the artist is the closest thing to a true medium with God. Scientists, I believe, study what God has created, and are the truely closest things to theologists. I guess its because I think on metaphysical terms. We couldn't exist without a cause. We are the effects of God's actions and will, I think. The universe and laws of science are no different. Existance itself is cause enough for me to believe in a higher power.




Wow. I think me and Aberinkula are the only people who aren't athiest/agnostic on OBs, haha.

As he said, I'm not afraid of death either. I don't want to die painfully now, but I'm not afraid of death due to my beliefs. I believe that I'll just move on along, somewhere else as someone else like a memory-wiped witness protection program. I just feel like if I died I'd have wasted the life that I had going, in the same way that I'd be pissed if I was playing a video game and I got really far in it only to have my game disc broken and memory card erased.

That's a fun way to look at things. And if I'm wrong, oh well... I haven't wasted much time on religion anyways. I don't attend a temple, though I wish to, and as far as I go with meditation is sitting down for a few seconds and thinking to myself. So yeah, all my spirituality has done for me is made me a more pleasant person to be around. I'm nice to people, I'm optimisitic, and I'm generally calm and relaxed about most things. I find comfort in my beliefs and I am pretty confident that what I believe is true.[/color][/size]
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[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']Fasteriskhead, excellent post. I appreciate the depth of thought you?re contributing to the topic.[/quote]Thank you, I very much enjoyed working through your response. First, though, a procedural point.

You write in response to Raiha: "Which of [Thomas Aquinas'] ?proofs? are still valid today?" I assume you're referring to the "five ways" in Summa Theologiae 1a question 2, which have since been called "cosmological arguments." My objection is that if you read Thomas carefully, he doesn't seems to understand these arguments as [I]positive proofs[/I] in the sense that we would take them today. What Thomas attempts to show with his proofs is that there is, e.g., some being which conditions others but is itself is unconditioned, without [I]specifying[/I] in a positive way what such a being might be (in fact, by his own "via negativa" this would be impossible). The only knowledge learned in such demonstrations is negative; it only says what a certain being [I]cannot[/I] be (see [URL="http://www.diafrica.org/kenny/CDtexts/ContraGentiles3a.htm#39"][U]this text[/U][/URL] from the earlier Summa). And the proofs in this stripped-down form are still fairly widely accepted in terms of soundness (although I have my own objections which are a bit too technical to voice here). The most well-known criticisms (Hume and Kant) aren't against the proofs' [I]validity[/I], but simply point out the fact that they can't go far enough on their own to prove the existence of God. But I don't think that was what Aquinas intended. The point, as I read him, wasn't to rationally prove the truth of the Christian gospel, but to show that it could be [I]defended[/I] in the court of natural philosophy.

[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']I?m not sure your analogy works here. Because the [i]existence[/i] of something is different than the qualitative nature of something. Your belief that Haruhi won?t be as great as the first still assumes, [i]a priori[/i], that Haruhi exists.[/quote]You're correct to point this out; I should have been more clear in my examples. However, I don't think the difference is quite as crucial as you assume. Now, it's true that a statement like ∃x ("at least one being x exists") is logically quite different from Px ("x is P"). The latter predicates a certain fact of a thing, while the former simply posits it existentially (Kant famously pointed out that the ontological proof of God by Anselm and Descartes rests on a confusion of these two kinds of statement). Nevertheless, both kinds of proposition are quite sensible: they are alike in this respect.

The question is whether it's still sensible to talk of [I]God[/I] in this way, and (by way of how God was previously defined) I don't think it is. The problem doesn't even occur when we talk about God (or, indeed, Haruhi) as being "invisible" or somesuch. We can very easily say ∃x(Hx & Ix). The basic difficulty is not that God is spoken about in a way which makes it very difficult to verify whether God exists or not. The real problem, which was also the great medieval question of "divine names," is that [I]anything[/I] which can be properly predicated of God will have to escape and surpass all creaturely understanding (if it doesn't, then what was named wasn't really God). And at that point our language breaks down.

[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']Interesting, but St. Anselm?s ontological proof [i]didn?t[/i] assume a God transcending interaction with the natural world, did he? That?s the difference.[/quote]I'm not quite sure what you mean; I only brought up Anselm to introduce the issue of "divine names." Could you clarify this a bit?

[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']Kierkegaard followed this to the conclusion that God must be ?above? reason.[/quote]Well, fair enough, but there is still a danger here that God's being "above" reason can just be taken to mean: one "believes" in the existence of a being called God regardless of a lack of proof. This (which is the way of taking "belief" I've been pressing against) is not Kierkegaard's opinion. So far as I can tell, faith, for him, just means the free decision to [I]obey[/I] in a pure and unequivocal manner. Which is, as you rightly note, something absurd.

Also, which Heidegger are you referring to? I can't recall where he might have said that, and I'd like to look at the text before I respond specifically. More broadly, though, I think the point you make is the same that was made against Thomas Aquinas by Duns Scotus: namely, that at the very least [I]being[/I] should be spoken in the same way for everything that is, including God. There is much that could be said about this (especially just what Scotus understood by "being"...), but for right now I think it's probably better to just note the point and skip over it.

[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']A transcendental notion of God opens up a bigger gap to stick God into, but that?s not the sort of God people believe in.[/quote]Or, if I'm right, not even the sort of God people [I]could[/I] "believe" in! (in the normal sense of holding for true)

[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']They believe in a God that exists (even if outside space and time) and seems to interact with us (via revelation, holy text, and sometimes prophets or incarnations of God).[/quote]I know it may seem a bit cheap, but I'm going to skip most of this one too. There's just too much to talk about. Suffice it to say, God's interaction doesn't need to be taken in terms of producing certain [I]effects[/I] (in a miraculous manner or otherwise). Perhaps - I'm just throwing this out as a thought - we might understand the "interaction" of God (creation, revelation, incarnation etc.) in the way proposed by 1 John 4:16 ("God is charity"), that is, as [I]charity[/I]. And this, in turn, would shed some light on John 13:34 - humans, perhaps, can never be closer to God than when they are charitable. Even if one's knowledge and predictions fail (1 Cor. 13), in this case it matters not a bit so long as one keeps to one's charity.

[quote name='Drix D'Zanth']However, what about where God supposedly interacts with the natural world in the form of miracles? Aren?t these scientific questions. What about when Elijah has God ?stop the Sun? in the sky for three days so that he may finish a battle?[/quote]Well, the Jews have been doing highly interpretive, "esoteric" readings of such biblical events for several thousand years now. I see no reason why this option should be denied to everyone else. I tend to think that only someone very egotistical (or very naive) could believe that there's just a single way one could read such a bafflingly complex book.
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[B]1.[/B] I stopped believing in imaginary friends when I was about 3.

[B]2.[/B] Well, I have to agree with what many other have said in that fear of nothing after death is too overwhelming. But I also have to say that some people simply want to believe in something. It has nothing to do with fear, but I've heard countless witness (by christians) that they've had this hole in their hearts and were looking for something to fill it with when they found "God." I think that Buddha, or Horus, or any other religious figure would do the same thing. They just found christianity first because that's the prominent religion in America. I also have to speak for a lot of the younger christians and say that brainwashing does have some effect. If a child is told enough times that there's an invisible man up in the sky watching everything they do, they'll believe it. (especially at their gullible age) and as they start to grow up, it's continually shoved down their throats. That's why I was a christian for so long. I finally started doubting religion at around 13. Three years ago, I decided I was agnostic. Only this passed year, did I come to the conclusion that there really was no higher power at all, and declared myself an atheist.

[B]3.[/B] Well, I think science [I]could[/I] be compatible with religion. I just don't think religion could be compatible with science. The fact that many religious folk are adamant that the earth is only 6,000 years old is ridiculous in my standards. Carbon dating has told us otherwise. (Something that the ancients were not expecting) And I don't see why it's not possible, hypothetically speaking, for a higher power to have created humans at the same time as dinosaurs and monkeys, etc... The fact is that there have been no fossils to prove it. (Another fact that religious folk refuse to acknowledge)
So based on the scientific proof that we have, I can't argue against science. I can say that if religion weren't so dead set against being wrong, (which I don't blame them. They would lose a lot of believers = a lot of money) they could mold the story of creation around the theory of evolution.

[B]4.[/B] Besides the fact that the entire christian theology is based directly off of Egyptian myths and ancient astrology, there's just too much that can't be proven with religion. When you ask someone how they explain this great happening in the bible when it's been completely debunked by science, what's their reply? "You have to have faith." I'm not one for blind submission. And when you think about it, the bible was written by men. Men who could have easily been con-artists. Plus, when the Council of Nisei was held, even more men, under the rule of Emperor Constantine, decided what made it into the official bible and what didn't. It was the government's way of keeping people from radical thoughts. Which led to the dark ages and many other things. IN ADDITION: There have been numerous mistranslations throughout the bible, which have been ignored due to the fact that it could change the meaning of many verses.
But on a more personal level. If you ignore all of that babble I just spewed, (I'm not trying pick on anyone, but it's the only prominent example I could come up with) I know several gay and lesbian friends, who say that they did NOT choose to be attracted to members of the same sex. And when the bible directly says it's wrong, it really throws many of them into a horrible mental and moral dilemma. Whether or not that's true is not up for discussion in this thread, but it's certain things like that throughout the bible, that could certainly stir up trouble for the christian doctrine.

[B]5.[/B] NO! Because if you're a reasonable person, you'll realize how fake it all is. Not to mention that following instructions from the bible like you were reading a cook-book is psycho...

[B]6.[/B] N/A
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[quote name='Raiha'][COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"]But back to this. It appears that moral relativism has sunk it's claws firmly into the populace. Oh goodie.[/FONT][/COLOR][/QUOTE]I disagree, I think your mistaking an acceptance of knowing one has much to learn with moral relativism. I do not accept moral relativism especially on an individual level since such a system would be pointless. Morally, there are things I will not sway on, such as murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc. Those are things that I think should apply universally and not individually, regardless of religious beliefs.

But when it comes to the existence of someone like God? Or course I'm going to be open about accepting that I could be wrong. I think a being like that does not exist, but the very nature of something like that makes proving it next to impossible. I'm not so arrogant as to claim God doesn't exist when just as one can't prove he does, I think I can't prove that he doesn't either.
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[FONT=Arial]Well, here I was, all set to discuss this thing, and then I come across this little remark.
[QUOTE][SIZE="1"][I]Only a fool could think such an idea is still scientifically acceptable, and only a brute could think that there are no other ways of reading Genesis 1 and 2.[/I][/SIZE][/QUOTE]
It seems I am a fool and a brute, then.

I love objective discussions. (^_^) And since, then, my reasonings obviously have no place....[/FONT]
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[quote name='Fasteriskhead']I know it may seem a bit cheap, but I'm going to skip most of this one too. There's just too much to talk about. Suffice it to say, God's interaction doesn't need to be taken in terms of producing certain [I]effects[/I] (in a miraculous manner or otherwise). Perhaps - I'm just throwing this out as a thought - we might understand the "interaction" of God (creation, revelation, incarnation etc.) in the way proposed by 1 John 4:16 ("God is charity"), that is, as [I]charity[/I]. And this, in turn, would shed some light on John 13:34 - humans, perhaps, can never be closer to God than when they are charitable. Even if one's knowledge and predictions fail (1 Cor. 13), in this case it matters not a bit so long as one keeps to one's charity.[/QUOTE]
[font=Arial]Well, some translations don't say charity, but rather [i]love[/i]. I find it more poetic, but this aside...

Out of curiosity, do you propose a God that is essentially the sum of (or borne out of) action? You say that God is "charity," or whatever we want to insert here, so it leads me to assume you mean God is a sort of strange gestalt composite entity. I personally have no qualms with this, but it would not be God in the strict/traditional sense, but more an all-pervading philosophy.[/font]
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[FONT="Tahoma"]This has already been addressed but...[quote name='Fasteriskhead][SIZE="1"] Only a fool could think such an idea is still scientifically acceptable, and only a brute could think that there are no other ways of reading Genesis 1 and 2. [/SIZE][/QUOTE]Considering that I made it to this part as well...[QUOTE=Fasteriskhead][SIZE="1"']All right, that's all. If you've read this all the way through, thank you for the effort. I hope I've been reasonably clear, at least; in any case, I don't think I could do very much better.[/SIZE][/quote]I'm a bit disappointed that someone who seems to have taken the time to read up and actually know more about the subject... would fall so far as to knowingly insult others before they've even had a chance to voice their opinion.

I do believe this is what's known as a loaded discussion gentleman. My possible opinion and stance has been carelessly dismissed; before I could even make it, for shame really. If you're going to have an [I]open[/I] discussion then you need to be willing to listen instead of summarily and completely dismissing possible avenues of input.

Oh and I'm sure that should make it clear that I believe in God, and that's about all I'm interested in covering at this point. :catgirl:[/FONT]
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[B]1. If you believe in God, why do you believe?[/B]

I believe in God, because I feel His presence in my life. I have regular conversations with Him through prayer and scripture reading. He leads me through situations that I could never have handled on my own. He works miracles in my life and in my family. He gives me inspiration for my art and writing. I could go on and on.

Obviously, it can be argued that my help comes from something other than God, but I would not accept help from any but Him. He is the only one I trust.
[B]
2. Why do you think others believe in God?[/B]

Other people probably believe in God for the same reasons that I do, among others. Everybody has a different relationship with God, and there are lots of ways to communicate with Him, many of which I have never experienced. For instance, if you have the gift of prophesy, then you get God's message straight from His own mouth. And then of course, some people believe in Him, because they have nothing else to believe in.

[B]3. The most popular conflict between faith and reason is usually on the evolution/creationism controversy. What?s your take on the issue? Can science be compatible with belief? Do you accept evolutionary theory?[/B]

I have learned evolutionary theory in school and creationism in church my whole life. I have heard arguments that seem to reconcile the two sides. The truth is that I don't know what I believe on this subject.

I don't buy evolutionary theory, because there are too many variables. Scientists think they can come up with some formula that will solve all the mysteries of the universe, but science is always changing its mind, always getting new information, new discoveries, etc.

God, on the other hand, is firm, a solid rock, unmoving, unchanging. I won't pretend that I know all of the background and details about evolution or that I know everything about the Bible, but I will say that since I [I]don't[/I] know all of the factors to this, it is safer to believe in creationism.

As for the mixing of the two ideas, it is possible that they can coexist, but it seems like most people who come up with something like that only do so, in order to avoid dealing with the conflict. To this day, I haven't heard one convincing argument from this side of things.
[B]
4. What do you think are the most compelling arguments to not believe in God? Or, what do you think are the greatest challenges to peoples? faith.

for instance; some people think the existence of evil, in light of an all-powerful, all-good God, is a tough question that theologians don?t have a clear answer to and may lead people to non-belief
[/B]
I think that a lot of people mischaracterize God because of something bad that happened to them, something they maybe couldn't make sense of. They will say that God is cold, uncaring, and angry, that he will punish you if you make one wrong move. They will say that since he supposedly "controls" the world, he must have been the one that gave cancer to that child or caused that earthquake that killed 20,000 people. They will say that God turns people into robots that run around saying only "iloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyou" for all of eternity.

That is exactly what Satan wants people to believe about God. Satan causes all suffering in this world. We allow him to do that by sinning, in that sinning is the act of separating oneself from God. In order to reestablish that connection, one must ask for forgiveness and express desire to once again be with Him. God is all about love and forgiveness and second/third/fourth...billionth chances.

Mainly, what I say to people who have been mislead is this: read the Bible. I don't mean just skim on through, or read only the verses you are told to read. I mean read it book by book, in context. God is shown to be much different than what a lot of people (even Christians) make Him out to be.

Science and math have been made into huge distractions. They are used to lead people away from God, away from what cannot be directly seen and from what cannot be proved. So many do not realize that those things are the most important of all.


[B]5. Do you think there is such thing as ?reasonable faith?? Or, do you think they are in conflict?[/B]

Many have said that faith is reasonable, or can be, but I don't think that's entirely true. If you only went by evidence, you would be led away from God, because there is really no "proof" of His existence, except for the spiritual interactions between Him and individuals.
[B]
6. Lastly, if you believe in God. What evidence do you have in favor of your belief?[/B]

Like I said, the only evidence I can mention is what I have personally experienced. The fact of the matter is that God gave us free choice for a reason. He wanted us to choose Him of our own free wil, not be forced to. It's easy for me to believe in that telephone sitting in front of me, because it rings and I talk to other people on it and there are records of my calls and I can touch it, etc. Therefore I pretty much have to believe in it, right? If God gave evidence like that about Himself, we would have to believe in Him, eliminating our free choice.


[B]
Oh dear, I'm not sure how well I answered those questions. There is so much to say, and talk about regarding these topics, and I often get carried away in my rambling. Please excuse me if I didn't make any sense, and feel free to PM me with any questions. I don't remember the exact locations of many of the Bible verses that support my answers, but I can provide them upon request.[/B]
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If an opinion is, in fact, foolish and brutish, I see no shame in pointing it out. I would also see no shame in asking someone who believes such horrible things of an opinion [I]why[/I] they do so (after all, there could be serious reasons behind it). But I will leave it up to others to decide whether there is shame, for example, in completely disengaging from the conversation, refusing to offer any points that would speak in one's own favor, and instead accusing one's foe of being "unobjective," "insulting," "careless," "dismissive," and so on.

I only say this: I will never ask anyone to justify their [I]faith[/I] to me. However, I will certainly ask them to justify their [I]readings[/I] of scripture - for it isn't so obvious what the bible says, after all. It's written in three languages. It's been translated countless times, some of those translations having vast differences (Retri's question about whether to translate agape by "love" or "charity" is an example). In the past, long debates were even waged over exactly which books would [I]constitute[/I] the scripture. Hundreds of commentaries have been written, thousands of interpretations have been made. Wars have been fought over the correct way to read the thing. It [I]still[/i] remains a live question. Thus, please forgive me if I remain deeply skeptical of anyone who claims to have [I]the[/I] reading of the first part of Genesis (which, I think, is one of the most difficult sections the entire bible). Please forgive me if I am even [I]more[/I] skeptical of someone claiming not only to have [I]the[/I] reading, but also that no other interpretations are even [I]possible[/I]. For this, it seems to me, is what I'm hearing (and please correct me if I'm misunderstanding). Forget about the question of whether it agrees with science; forget even about whether it's [I]true[/I]. To hold that the scripture "just says" that the Earth was created by God in exactly seven days (meaning: exactly 168 hours, or 10080 minutes, or 604800 seconds, etc.) some 4,000 years ago, and that that's the only possible way to read the section, seems to me to [I]willfully ignore[/I] all problems of biblical interpretation.

If still none of this seems like good reason to be suspicious, I can (at last resort) appeal to authority. Martin Luther, some 500 years ago, cautioned his audience to be very careful in reading the Old Testament, and "not to stumble at the simplicity of the language and stories they will often meet there" - for, he said, "it makes fools of all the wise and prudent." Erasmus, at about the same time, considered scripture and especially the book of Genesis something which required special care, since it offered at the same time a mere outward appearance (the story) as well as a hidden, deeper divine truth. He wrote:

[quote][SIZE="1"][Care] must be observed and kept in all manner of learning which include in themselves a plain sense and a mystery, even as they were made of a body and a soul, that the literal sense little regarded thou shouldest look chiefly to the mystery. Of which manner are the letters of all poets and philosophers, chiefly the followers of Plato. But most of all, holy scripture, which being in a manner like to Silenus of Alcibiades, under a rude and foolish covering include pure divine and godly things: for else if thou shalt read without the allegory the image of Adam formed of moist clay and the soul breathed into him, and Eve plucked out of the rib, how they were forbid the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the serpent enticing to eat, God walking at the air: when they knew they had sinned, how they hid themselves, the angel set at the doors with a turning sword lest after they were ejected, the way to them should be open to come again shortly: if thou shouldest read the whole history of the making of the world, if thou read (I say) superficially these things, seeking no further than appeareth outwardly, I cannot perceive what other great thing thou shalt do than if thou shouldest sing of the image of clay made by Prometheus, or of fire stolen from heaven by subtlety and put into the image to give life to the clay. [/SIZE][/quote]Well, not exactly the clearest passage the English language has ever seen, but you get the idea. My point (and much of the tradition agrees with me) is that interpreting scripture requires taking great care, keeping one's eyes open, and always remaining humble about one's take. We ought not confuse faith in our ability to read correctly (i.e. pride) with faith in God. And that's about all I have to say about this topic; I'm sure you're not interested in hearing yet again why "young earth" theories and creationism aren't scientifically valuable, so I'll spare everyone that discussion.

[quote name='Retribution'][font=Arial]Well, some translations don't say charity, but rather [i]love[/i]. I find it more poetic, but this aside...[/font][/QUOTE]Well, the Greek terms in those passages ("agape", "agapate") can be translated either by love or charity (charity, of course, not being taken only in the modern sense of giving to the needy). The Vulgate translation, so far as I know, always goes with "caritas" (charity) to avoid using "amor." The problem is that "love" is usually thought of in terms of an inner emotion or passion, while agape is (so far as I read) supposed to indicate a kind of [I]character[/I], a way of [I]bearing[/I] oneself and acting from day to day. I think we mean something like this when we talk, for example, of someone being "full of charity," so I try to use that word instead of love.

[quote name='Retribution'][font=Arial]Out of curiosity, do you propose a God that is essentially the sum of (or borne out of) action? You say that God is "charity," or whatever we want to insert here, so it leads me to assume you mean God is a sort of strange gestalt composite entity. I personally have no qualms with this, but it would not be God in the strict/traditional sense, but more an all-pervading philosophy.[/font][/QUOTE]Err, that wasn't my point, no. That kind of theory exists, of course, but it's not the one I would go for. The thought I was tentatively floating in that paragraph had more to do with understanding God's acts (creation, revelation, and so on) in terms of God's identification with charity. This would have the consequence that our [I]own[/I] acts - or even more broadly, our own bearing and our own temperament - would more closely approach those of God the more they stem from charity. The classical theologians may have denied that we can ever [I]know[/I] god, but all the same they kept to the doctrine of "imago dei" - meaning that we can, in a sense, [I]emulate[/I] God. And moreover, that would mean that human beings are also at their most [I]human[/I] where they are charitable. But I ask that you take this reading with a grain of salt; I'm no theologian, and I can't pretend to be one for very long.
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[FONT="Tahoma"][QUOTE]If an opinion is, in fact, foolish and brutish, I see no shame in pointing it out. I would also see no shame in asking someone who believes such horrible things of an opinion [I]why[/I] they do so (after all, there could be serious reasons behind it). But I will leave it up to others to decide whether there is shame, for example, in completely disengaging from the conversation, refusing to offer any points that would speak in one's own favor, and instead accusing one's foe of being "unobjective," "insulting," "careless," "dismissive," and so on.[/QUOTE]Why are you making me point out the fallacy in your original statement? Don't backtrack and attempt to cover it up please. It's simple, you didn't say the theory/opinion was foolish and brutish... you said...[quote] Only a fool could think such an idea is still scientifically acceptable, and only a brute could think that there are no other ways of reading Genesis 1 and 2.[/quote]I'm sure you don't need me to point this out but...

[B]Fool[/B]

?noun
1. a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.
2. a weak-minded or idiotic person.

[B]Brute[/B]

?noun
1. a nonhuman creature; beast.
2. a brutal, insensitive, or crude person.
3. not characterized by intelligence or reason; irrational.

So where's the objectivity in upfront tell others that if they believe that they must therefore be a fool? That's why I called this a loaded discussion, you've already said from the get go, if you think this... [I]you[/I] are a [I]fool [/I]and a [I]brute[/I]. It's one thing to question the theory or belief, but another to question the intelligence of the person who considers them in the potential light of being truth.

So considering what you said in this next part here, and I'm going to paraphrase you on this since I think it's apt:[QUOTE]Thus, please forgive me if I remain deeply skeptical of anyone who claims to have [I]the[/I] reading of the first part of Genesis (which, I think, is one of the most difficult sections the entire bible). Please forgive me if I am even [I]more[/I] skeptical of someone claiming not only to have [I]the[/I] reading, but also that no other interpretations are even [I]possible[/I]. For this, it seems to me, is what I'm hearing (and please correct me if I'm misunderstanding). Forget about the question of whether it agrees with science; forget even about whether it's [I]true[/I]. To hold that the scripture "just says" that the Earth was created by God in exactly seven days (meaning: exactly 168 hours, or 10080 minutes, or 604800 seconds, etc.) some 4,000 years ago, and that that's the only possible way to read the section, seems to me to [I]willfully ignore[/I] all problems of biblical interpretation.[/QUOTE]Then, please forgive me if I remain [I]deeply skeptical[/I] of [I]anyone[/I] who claims upfront that someone's belief in one avenue or potential truth on the matter makes them a fool and a brute because, they themselves think it must be so. [/FONT]
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