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Old 10-06-2012, 03:11 PM   #1284 (permalink)
Repugnant Abomination
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Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
I don't know what it is -- your wife has given you a reason to find faith -- you read a book and want to make up for your previous militant atheism...or you just really don't want to die and turn into nothingness, and are desperately trying to convince yourself (and others) that it doesn't end after death (but as for the millions and millions of species....)
What it is, is that I've come to the conclusion that a purely empiricist world view is incomplete. For a long time I thought it was, which is why I was such a strong atheist, because when you embrace an empiricist world view there is really no other intellectually honest position to take. That's what I was, and that's what you are. So when I say that I know where you're coming from it's not like how these Christians do it in your example below (and I'm not saying that I'm a Christian, either), because my emphasis isn't on revelation or faith, it's on philosophy. That's why I keep bringing up epistemology, because it's the branch of philosophy I struggled with for so long, and it's at the root of what we're debating.

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
Francis Collins may be a genius in genetics, but MASSIVELY MISTAKEN when it comes to religion. I've already said I've read his book (The Language of God) where he states how exactly he was an "atheist" before becoming Christian, and he couldn't have been less than a true atheist -- this is a common ploy used by religious and conservative writers to give themselves credence to their audience, especially the faithful, who get such hard-ons for forgiveness of past sins -- someone who comes to their faithlessness through logic and reason, despite the catalyst. There are myriad reasons why one would "pull a BDH" -- and it's honestly just a sucky thing to see happen. I wish I had all the time in the world to sit here and debunk you grasping at straws all day, but I just don't. It has already been done time and time again by some of our favorite authors.
That's a bold assertion. I read his book too, and even though I thought his reasons for choosing Christianity were very underdeveloped, I think his decision to believe in God was very interesting. More importantly, I think he did a fine job at dispelling this notion that belief in God is irrational, as many atheists claim; atheists don't have a monopoly on reason, it just seems like they do because so many religious people are painfully ignorant or science. Throughout my philosophical readings I've come across many brilliant, rational figures who make reasonable and compelling arguments for the existence of God. And though I haven't made my mind up on it yet, it has shown me that the issue isn't as black and white as I always thought. That's why I kept hammering you on oversimplifying things, because I think you do.

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
How can you honestly intellectually subscribe to this? Hawking is asking it as a thought-exercise, an interesting mystery about the universe that we don't yet understand. You are (without saying it, which is pretty cowardly as I will go into more detail later about) basically saying "see, Hawking is talking about the possibility of a god again!" As if wondering "what came before" is a big mysterious question that only genius physicists can ask.
What's wrong with intellectual exercises? I'm not preaching a God-of-the-gaps theory here, I'm just pointing out legitimate questions that even the most brilliant scientists have asked. It's fun to muse on them. Why you get so up in arms over that is baffling.

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
It really is fundamentally confusing to me as a fully developed mind how much you are forgetting very simple rules -- like the fact that this exact argument can be turned right back on you. You could say it's turned back on me as well, but I am not the one asserting something exists, which is a world of difference ideology-wise. I don't have the book handy to know context or what was said after, but it goes back to the fundamental question that apparently blows the mind every single Christian I have asked it to: If you insist that there is a beginning of everything, then who made god? Why must it stop at at him? Who breathed fire into god?
See, this is where it really gets interesting, and I think fun. It's a great question, and one I used to dish out all of the time. You're talking about infinite regression...That everything comes from something else. If you go back far enough to God, then something had to make him too. That's true, except again, if God exists outside of nature, then why would the laws of nature apply to him? Obviously this is very speculative and wholly unsatisfying, especially from a scientific point of view--because science doesn't have the tools to deal with this possibility. So I think can make the following rational argument:

A) God exists outside of space and time.
B) God created the universe and all of the laws that govern it
C) God is exempt from these laws because he exists outside of them

This cannot be falsified and therefore is not a scientific theory. Science cannot comment on this at all, other than to say we have never encountered anything that exists outside of nature, because the universe itself is nature. So this theory can't be proven empirically, but it is defensible theoretically because of the definition of God. You will of course find this ridiculous, but that's because you're viewing it through a empiricists lens. But it's important to keep in mind that there are many branches and disagreements in the field of epistemology over how we know things. There's rationalism, empiricism, idealism, constructionism and more I"m forgetting.

The reason Dawkin's flying spaghetti monster doesn't work in this scenario is because of the definition of God. If you were to apply all of the attributes of God to the spaghetti monster then it would just be God with a different name.

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
I say it often because it's literally the only explanation I can give for someone who is otherwise intelligent and rational, and previously a well-educated atheist (unlike BDH), who seems to be coming around to religion, even if they're currently in a Deist stage -- you seem like you're still going more towards faith than science, reason, and atheism. On that note, it's worth pointing out -- and this is a common trend with you on nubblies--that you skirt around telling us exactly what you believe currently and instead hide under the shroud of "just asking questons" and "nobody knows! lol!" bullshit. It's devious and dubious.
I think you find this frustrating because you want to label me, particularly as this oversimplified caricature of a Christian you have in your head to make it easier to attack me. What I'm trying to do is elevate the discussion to more interesting ideas than "you think the earth is only 10,000 years old lol." And I think I'm succeeding. But the truth is I don't know what I believe anymore. I think I've made that clear. You want to take my musings and attach an ironclad ideology to them. That's what you have, but not what I have. You might think that to be wishy-washy, but it's honestly the most intellectually honest position I can take right now. I will repeat: I find the purely materialist view of the universe to be too simple. I don't think everything can be weighed and measured in the lab. Let me give you an example.

There are known cases of a people saving and giving their own life to save a complete stranger's. There was no reward and nothing to gain. They had a family and did not believe in God. This seems completely irrational. They acted only because they felt they had to. Most people would not have done the same.

This is altruism, and science can't explain it with tribalism, herd-mentality, evolution, genetics, or anything else.

This is the moral law and C.S. Lewis explains it better than anyone else. The fact that was a Christian shouldn't be used to marginalize his logic.

Objective morality is the best argument I've come across to date for the existence of God. Kant explains this conception best. He calls it categorical imperative. Here's some of the idea behind it:

"Reason, separate from all empirical experience, can determine the principle according to which all ends can be determined as moral. It is this fundamental principle of moral reason that is known as the categorical imperative. Pure practical reason in the process of determining it dictates what ought to be done without reference to empirical contingent factors."

The key word here is "ought". C.S. Lewis talks about it too.

I could write pages on the Moral Law and Categorical Imperative, but it would help if you read up on them yourself. I'd recommend the first few chapters of Mere Christianity and chapter 9, pages 130-136 of The Elements of Moral Philosophy, fifth edition. It would be better for you to actually read them and not just Google criticisms of their ideas, because of course there are plenty. In return, I'll gladly read something you suggest if you think it will better help me understand your position.

And, real quick, I want to address what I think one of your objections will be. When I talk about morality I'm not saying atheists can't be moral. I'm not saying people who believe in God are moral. I'm trying to determine if objective morality exists in the first place and then find rational arguments for it.

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
Secondly, I say it because I know how much death has affected you. Well, somewhat, only what I have seen on here and talked in personal conversations -- I know how haunting the concept of death must be for you and I know that you desperately do not want there to be simple "emptiness" after you die. I think that that emotional need can very strongly affect somebody's "willingness to believe", whether they understand it or not, and that's where a lot of this comes from. I think that if you truly knew how poisonous religion was and how it infects the minds of people like a virus, you would be as worried about your mental freedom as I am.
You're right about death, of course. I was majorly depressed for years after my experience with it. I'm not claiming emotions don't play a part in my thinking (and you shouldn't either), but I will say this: I was much more a hardcore atheist and empiricist during my depression. It's only now, years later, when i'm at peace and less emotional about the subject that I've been able to entertain new ideas and start from the ground up. It's been a fun learning experience for me that you shouldn't see as a bad thing. Just the fact that you said in a previous post that I shouldn't try to change your mind because "I'm set, bro" is troubling to me. You should always be willing to change your mind. If you're not, then I may as well be talking to a brick wall, or a devout, young earth creationist.

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
This is the reason I woke up at 2:00 AM to write this post. I was reading an Asimov book -- "Extraterrestrial Civilizations" (one of his many non-fiction books) and came across a passage that fundamentally underscores our entire disagreement here. Asimov puts it better than I ever could.

You say it's a fundamental question of epistemology, but I just don't see it. You say ". It's not about God, or miracles, or praying, or Hawking or anything else...It's an epistemological disagreement about the nature of knowledge." -- then why is even in this thread? You say one thing and act another and it's extremely frustrating. You almost remind me of the people who say "I'm not religious, I just have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ".
It's in this thread because I didn't want to make a new one and the subject matter in this thread is the most applicable to epistemological questions. And again, I think you find my various arguments and musings frustrating because you want to pin down a specific ideology to me. That's unnecessary. It's not cowardly to ask questions or say you don't have a firm world-view. It's an ongoing process for me. All I can safely say is that I think your view, previously mine, is too simplistic, because it can't answer certain questions. That's all.

If I didn't address all of the points you'd like me to just point them out and ask again. This post has taken longer than I thought and It's become a little unmangable at this point.
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