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Old 2008-02-18, 00:34   Link #341
Edgewalker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
The dilemma can be expressed with a simple question: "Is morality independent from God?"

Is God a guide who points out the way to good behaviour, or is He the final arbiter of what is good? If God defines what is good by fiat, he is no different from an individual who defines what is good based on his own judgement.

For the statement, “God is good,” or more generally, “X is good,” to even make sense, we need some idea of what “good” means. Both theists and atheists have a hard time grappling with this concept.

Hm, in any case, I worry that any further discussion would lead this thread astray. Feel free to PM me instead if you wish to continue.
Actually, thats sort of what I meant when I mentioned the euthyphro dilemma.

The basic premise behind the dilemma is: Is the definition of good defined by God's will, or not ?

Wikipedia has a fairly accurate article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

For the sake of argument, I was assuming that the answer to the Dilemma was the latter ( Good is defined by God's will ) and the point of my post was to prove that even with an objective definition of what is "Good" is defined by a God, as subjective beings it means nothing to us and thus as far as were concerned due to our level of understanding-the answer is in fact the former ( The Definition of Good is not defined by God and is a more subjective term with a fuzzy definition, like you are saying )

Think of it as a logical "Even if your right, you are still wrong." trap for all the moral absolutists out there.

Last edited by Edgewalker; 2008-02-18 at 00:46.
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Old 2008-02-18, 00:41   Link #342
Zaku Hyuga
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Sorry I haven't read all of the other posts, and that this isn't on topic witht he current discussion. I just wanted to say that I'm Christian and believe that there is a God, Holy Spirit, and that Jesus walked the earth and died for our sins. I try to live a good life and hope that on day I get to go to Heaven and rejoin lost loved ones and live in eternal happiness, but I also look at it this way, even if there is no god of any kind and it all was just an accident, at least I lived a good life and was a good person.
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Old 2008-02-18, 00:43   Link #343
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Originally Posted by cicido View Post
And that is the reasons why religion is important for most governments throughout history.

But everybody have a religion, not just Christianity, or Buddhism, but it is the belief. If you believe that there is no god then that is your religion. So I don't really get why would people say things like "I have no religion" or "religion is bad for you"
Don't presume to assign "religions" to other people. If an analysis of the data doesn't lend itself to the existence of a god --- then the operative action to assume no god until other data arrive. That isn't a "belief" by any meaningful definition of the word unless we're going to start torturing the meanings of words.

The reason people say what they say is because that's what they mean:
Example "I have no religion" --- the person belongs to no organized belief system, has no doctrine, no gods. They may have a *moral* or *ethical* system that requires no supernatural components.

Example "religion is bad for you" --- it may be their opinion that religious beliefs are no different than some form of delusion, madness, or hallucination, which sometimes lead people to do bad things to themselves (Jonestown mass-suicide) or to others (Islamic cult extremists).

Don't abuse the word religion by watering down its meaning.
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Old 2008-02-18, 00:48   Link #344
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Originally Posted by Zaku Hyuga
Sorry I haven't read all of the other posts, and that this isn't on topic witht he current discussion. I just wanted to say that I'm Christian and believe that there is a God, Holy Spirit, and that Jesus walked the earth and died for our sins. I try to live a good life and hope that on day I get to go to Heaven and rejoin lost loved ones and live in eternal happiness, but I also look at it this way, even if there is no god of any kind and it all was just an accident, at least I lived a good life and was a good person.
Good for you. I wish you success.
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Old 2008-02-18, 01:09   Link #345
Anh_Minh
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Kyuusai: What about the Old Testament? God was pretty hands on, then, wasn't he?
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Old 2008-02-18, 02:15   Link #346
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
The religious organization orchestrating the affair could be to blame, but I was not stating that the religion itself is to blame - I believe you saw what I was saying and have probably seen those examples used to justify stating that religion is evil and causes strife. That's a different subject entirely. What I was saying was indirectly in response to Blizzer's statements/implying that a non-religious person lacks a sense of morals. TinyRedLeaf stated that he felt this was false because he feels that there is a distinction and knows of it, despite being agnostic.
I see what you're saying now. I hope I didn't come off as too defensive there, but I see the distinction as highly important (and not just for where I stand on it, personally).
Now, on that subject of morality...

Due to browser-quirkiness, I missed Edgewater's great post (this should be a required thought process for any religious person) and edited [url]my previous post] without seeing some of the discussion that had taken place before my edit.

Just taking some quotes to establish context (I didn't ignore the rest of the posts, I promise!)....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edgewalker View Post
In conclusion: absolute "Universal Laws" dictating what is right and wrong are as far as we're concerned, nonexistent.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
The dilemma can be expressed with a simple question: "Is morality independent from God?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edgewalker View Post
Actually, thats sort of what I meant when I mentioned the euthyphro dilemma.

The basic premise behind the dilemma is: Is the definition of good defined by God's will, or not ?
To quote my post that I edited without being able to see the ensuing conversation...
In Christianity/Judaism, the moral framework isn't just based on "God's whim", but is a set of "operating recommendations" for the world God created. Based on that, religion isn't necessary for a moral framework; all you'd need are observational skills and critical thinking (which is how half of the moral framework of these religions made it into the religions in the first place).

I originally wrote that in opposition to the expressed opinion that morality was not found outside religion. I think it has some relevance here.

In Judeo-Christian terms (I get tired of writing that disclaimer, but I fear the consequences not stating it), the idea isn't that God arbitrarily decides what He does or does not want people to do, but that He designed the world to operate in particular ways and that he loves the beings that inhabit His world. To put it broadly, morality is derived from understanding the participation (good) or disruption (evil) of these procedures and the balance they provide and, separately, from advisement/commandment of God, Himself.

Those are two separate concepts, though, because what God has told us to do does not always line up with the first concept of morality. Why would that be? "The lesser of two evils", essentially. Essentially, God has either made commandments or given advisements/laws along the way that are sad concessions to the depravity of man, with these decidedly a better alternative to mankind being unable to live up to the higher standard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
@Kyuusai: I think he's pointing at the God-directed massacres of entire peoples (and their little dogs) that occupy a fair amount of the Old Testament as told from the perspective of the massacring agents. I'm not going to add to that because I suspect you and I have some similar ideas on the Old Testament in regard to its applicability on "how to live one's life."
Also, when the Roman Empire hoisted the "Christian" flag after that particular battle -- many aspects of that religion took a sudden turn.
Actually, those massacres were something I was trying to address, but perhaps did too vaguely. I think I can better state my point like this:
Even if one thinks that the texts are divinely inspired history rather than a case of "winners write the history books", one cannot in good conscience read from it the idea that humans can take it upon themselves to decide to do similar acts. (For numerous reasons that I won't go into here, but not something most people--religionists or critics--catch from skimming the text out of context).
I am guessing that we share some opinions on the applicability of the Old Testament to personal morality, but I imagine we might get there via different paths.

I do agree that the Roman Empire "joining the game" in Christianity was a major turning point. I wouldn't say the religion changed, though... I'd say that it was a major event in the process that eventually developed into a second religion--and not one I ascribe to.
(Which is essentially just another way of saying "They screwed it up even more than it already had been." )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
Kyuusai: What about the Old Testament? God was pretty hands on, then, wasn't he?
Well, I wouldn't say that was so any more than it is today. The Bible documents a lot of grand events that were, according to scripture, unmistakably witnessed by humans as acts of God, but they were still things that He had a vested interest in, that weren't witnessed widely outside the groups directly involved... and it was still by proxy.

When it's Biblically stated that God did something, it's not really implied that He acted directly but instead that He orchestrated it using means that wouldn't break His self-propelled design. He delegated, so to speak. I'd liken it to some one saying that Donald Trump built a hotel: It's not that Mr. Trump physically did it himself--he had other people do it for him--but we generally only credit him unless we have reason to specify the intermediaries.

This is really getting pretty deep into it (despite the glossed-over explanations I'm giving), but it's an important distinction when discussing some of the things mentioned here.
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Last edited by Kyuusai; 2008-02-18 at 02:29.
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Old 2008-02-18, 03:11   Link #347
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
It is disheartening to see that not long after I explained why I don't like the atheism/agnosticism distiction several posts have popped up that seem to rely on what I've called the "folk definition" of these terms.
...
Do you see a special need for me to adapt to your definition? I like to abstract things. And for me everything that isn't fact is based on belief. Even science, which is based on postulated axioms is therefore based on the faith that these axioms always apply.
Now science is inherently much more sound in terms of logic than any religion, which makes it more plausible, but not free of faith/belief.

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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
The point is, atheists do not necessarily "believe", and in fact, I think most don't. I don't. At least not in the sense of the word as it is normally used in a religious context, where it doesn't simply mean "considering something to be likely".
I could requote myself here...
Atheist are as devoted to the concept of science as devoted christians are to god.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
...You're equating the word "believe" in contexts like

"I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried." Etcpp.

and

"I believe that the egg price will rise next month."
The difference lies only in consistency here. If you like to differentiate those two, that is fine. (Water remains water whether or not it is vapor in the air or an ocean of fluid. And similar I use the term belief more in a general meaning/sense)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
And when somebody says "I believe that God doesn't exist." it's normally the latter meaning. If you want to reduce the first meaning to the second, the whole concept of religion becomes void.
Does it really? I know people like to feel special and tend to separate themselves from each other in terms of uniqueness/diversity. But if one reduces and abstracts all traits of a single human enough, basic traits remain, that are valid for every mentally healthy human. Only the intensities of the traits vary.
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Old 2008-02-18, 03:26   Link #348
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Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
Well, I wouldn't say that was so any more than it is today. The Bible documents a lot of grand events that were, according to scripture, unmistakably witnessed by humans as acts of God, but they were still things that He had a vested interest in, that weren't witnessed widely outside the groups directly involved... and it was still by proxy.

When it's Biblically stated that God did something, it's not really implied that He acted directly but instead that He orchestrated it using means that wouldn't break His self-propelled design. He delegated, so to speak. I'd liken it to some one saying that Donald Trump built a hotel: It's not that Mr. Trump physically did it himself--he had other people do it for him--but we generally only credit him unless we have reason to specify the intermediaries.

This is really getting pretty deep into it (despite the glossed-over explanations I'm giving), but it's an important distinction when discussing some of the things mentioned here.
He parted the Red Sea, sent plagues, the deluge, and talked directly to a number of people, when he didn't send angels. All of that is a lot more hands-on than now.

Now, basically, whether God exists or not makes no practical difference. The Sun will rise and fall at predictable times, catastrophes will be natural phenomenons, and so on. Back then? If the OT is to be believed, God could reach out and stop the Sun, and disasters were God's way of showing his temper.
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Old 2008-02-18, 06:12   Link #349
Slice of Life
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Originally Posted by Jinto View Post
I could requote myself here...
Atheist are as devoted to the concept of science as devoted christians are to god.
Oh please. Most atheists (and believers too) couldn't even properly define what science is. I'm not "devoted" to science, and I would be one of the most likely candidates since I am a scientist. I wouldn't sacrifice my firstborn child just because it turns out to be a necessity in the leading pet model of the universe.

People are normally rather devoted to soccer than to science. To my knowledge, this hasn't led to excommunication of a soccer fan yet.
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Old 2008-02-18, 10:54   Link #350
Jinto
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
Oh please. Most atheists (and believers too) couldn't even properly define what science is. I'm not "devoted" to science, and I would be one of the most likely candidates since I am a scientist. I wouldn't sacrifice my firstborn child just because it turns out to be a necessity in the leading pet model of the universe.

People are normally rather devoted to soccer than to science. To my knowledge, this hasn't led to excommunication of a soccer fan yet.
The same applies for many religious people and their own religion. To make it less superficial.

People who claim to be atheist (which by definition means, they believe that god does not exist) are often agnostics or something else (still in the decission phase or between classifyable domains). Would you agree if I said true atheists, instead?
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Old 2008-02-18, 11:12   Link #351
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I'm a true atheist in that I believe God doesn't exist. I don't see what it has to do with science.
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Old 2008-02-18, 11:13   Link #352
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
I'm a true atheist in that I believe God doesn't exist. I don't see what it has to do with science.
Now that is a point. ^^

A good example for faith though.
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Old 2008-02-18, 12:27   Link #353
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
He parted the Red Sea, sent plagues, the deluge, and talked directly to a number of people, when he didn't send angels. All of that is a lot more hands-on than now.

Now, basically, whether God exists or not makes no practical difference. The Sun will rise and fall at predictable times, catastrophes will be natural phenomenons, and so on. Back then? If the OT is to be believed, God could reach out and stop the Sun, and disasters were God's way of showing his temper.
Again, saying God did that does not rule out an intermediary. Traditional expression attributes every action to God simply by the virtue of him not intervening, so not specifying a proxy every time an act is attributed to God is not at all unusual. God may intervene (and intervention it is, because the world would keep spinning regardless), but it is not direct.

The amount of divine intervention seen in the Bible covers a very small amount considering the number of years it covers. When all you get are the highlights, it sounds like a lot happened on a regular basis, but these were actually rare events, and rarely effected any one outside of the parties involved. Even what is described as the sun stopping would not require the earth to cease rotating for the observers to note a similar effect.

Keep in mind that I'm not suggesting that divine intervention (by proxy, of course) does not occur today. Deeper Christian understanding, though, would suggest that after the death of Christ it might actually be less necessary due to the availability of restoration to man.
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Old 2008-02-18, 14:29   Link #354
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Kyuusai is providing excellent insight into a side of Christianity that gets swamped out by the obnoxious, word-twisting "literalists" which I don't feel too badly if I offend.
The James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Falwell, etc cabal of noises that *assert* they represent "real" Christianity - when they more accurately represent something else entirely. Its unfortunate that Kyuusai's and similar modern theological viewpoints don't get more airtime.

@all:
And again... people are incorrectly intermingling "belief" in a religion with other kinds of "believe".

Saying "I believe this hammer will fall because of the predictions of Gravitational Theory" is using "believe" equivalent to "assume". It can be tested and validated by anyone who cares to run the numbers.
Saying "I think Evolution and Natural Selection are true phenomenom." is equivalent to saying "That's the best explanation that fits the facts so far." Saying that you "believe" in it is being loose with the word. Natural Selection Theory can be quantified and mathematically modeled.

Saying "I believe in God (or whatever) and that he does X" cannot be either mathematically verified nor tested. It *relies* on pure faith.

Equating "belief" in the results of science and "belief" in religion is a fundamental failure to understand the difference (or a conscious attempt to subvert the playing field).
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Old 2008-02-18, 15:47   Link #355
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Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
Again, saying God did that does not rule out an intermediary. Traditional expression attributes every action to God simply by the virtue of him not intervening, so not specifying a proxy every time an act is attributed to God is not at all unusual. God may intervene (and intervention it is, because the world would keep spinning regardless), but it is not direct.
What kind of proxy? Does it change anything if he sends an angel, or gives some local human superpowers?

Quote:
The amount of divine intervention seen in the Bible covers a very small amount considering the number of years it covers. When all you get are the highlights, it sounds like a lot happened on a regular basis, but these were actually rare events, and rarely effected any one outside of the parties involved. Even what is described as the sun stopping would not require the earth to cease rotating for the observers to note a similar effect.
I'd argue that even one deluge in a few thousand years is pretty big.

Quote:
Keep in mind that I'm not suggesting that divine intervention (by proxy, of course) does not occur today. Deeper Christian understanding, though, would suggest that after the death of Christ it might actually be less necessary due to the availability of restoration to man.
None of that changes my... problem with what you posted earlier:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
In discussing the existence of a supreme being, as some one who does believe there is one, I agree that hypothesis is easily proven false.

Speaking in terms of Judaism and Christianity (both because of my lack of qualification to speak of anything else and their obvious influence in the mostly-western/less-so-global ideas of God), that is a mistaken hypothesis. I can't call it a straw-man (not that I would accuse you of such, Vexx), because so many people believe that's what they teach.

In Judeo-Christian understanding (though admittedly not the understanding of all who claim to adhere to it--heck, not even most of them), God designed the universe to be self-operating and self-sustaining, not relying on Him to make any action to keep the earth in rotation/start the precipitation process/switch the seasons/whatever. Attributing any action directly to God is mostly metaphorical in the sense of attribution to the creator, the sense of "what substance is the universe made from?", or the sense that it was perhaps arranged by him.

In short, the understanding is that every aspect of the universe was designed to run on auto-pilot, and any cases of manual intervention are done strictly by proxy.

Knowing this is why it irks me that people claim a scientific understanding of how the universe works or began disproves the idea of God. Not at all: It only disproves a misinterpretation of what these religions taught about God.
If I understood you correctly, you mean that God made the universe, and more or less let it run on what we have come to recognize as "natural laws". I don't see how it's even remotely compatible with the OT, or, for that matter the NT. People aren't supposed to multiply bread just like that.

Unless it's all metaphor, I suppose. There was no global flood, Jesus never performed any miracle, and so on. But in that case, I have to ask, what the point? What's the point of having a revealed theology if you have to hammer it into the preconceived shape of your understanding of the world?
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Old 2008-02-18, 15:59   Link #356
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Anh, you might want to actually read up on modern Christian theology (sometimes called progressive Christianity and has significant connection to Deism) rather than have poor Kyuusai try to explain the entirety in a forum format. O.o

And why are you calling his understanding a "preconceived shape"? Or the Bible "revealed theology"? It *contains* revelatory information, but it also contains the mythological history of the tribe we call the Jews in the OT.. and the NT is a collection of writings that both describe the tales of Jesus and various people's thoughts on what Christianity means.

Modern Christian study takes the OT as a collection of apocryphal tales scattered across the years (the Dead Sea Scrolls have really given what was previously thought a major twist ... but the new information has been pretty much buried or ignored by much of the evangelical factions).
The NT (and to some extent, the gospels left out of the NT when the Council at Nicea decided which books were useful for their purposes) are all considered and studied in determining one's 'best path' but many of the anecdotes fundamentally contradict each other as one might expect in such a collected set of stories. 'bible inerrancy' and 'literalism' doesn't fare well under the spotlight of christian modern biblical research.

Somewhat like stories of the Buddha or the collected writings of Hindu ... you'll have figurative and metaphorical factions that study the "truths" of the stories as well as literalists who assert actuality.

Got any book pointers, Kyuusai?
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Old 2008-02-18, 16:31   Link #357
Anh_Minh
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What, so the Bible isn't the revealed Word of God, but a mixed bag of bullshit and grossly deformed historical facts?

Then, once again, what's the point? I mean, as a story collection, even a bunch as Aesopian fables, I can kinda see it. But as a Holy Book?
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Old 2008-02-18, 17:00   Link #358
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Okay.. never mind. I was trying to be civil but apparently you aren't. Now you're just being an ass, sidestepping the information presented, and putting words into another's mouth. Something can be a "revealed truth" without actually being factual.

Or are you going to go after the collected writings of all religions the same way? Like the Hindu writings (Vedas) that convey the essence of Hinduism? The apocryphal tales of Buddha (siddhartha)? ?? At least that would be consistent in its uncivility.

Hell, even Richard Dawkins (the loud genetic scientist atheist) understands the Campbellian importance of religious writings and stories even though he thinks religion itself is a form of lunacy.
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Old 2008-02-18, 17:07   Link #359
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"What, so the Bible isn't the revealed Word of God, but a mixed bag of bullshit and grossly deformed historical facts?"


No. They're probably Prehistoric Fairy Tales, and, going to Church is no bigger a deal than Story Time.



In case you didn't notice, That was sarcasm.
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Old 2008-02-18, 17:08   Link #360
Daughter!
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I'm Christian.

Seriously though,
Old Testament > New Testament

God was such a badass back then. Now all he does is send his son to turn water into wine.
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