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Is there a God?
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caamora
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow - interesting thread, folks! I have been away for too long. But, that may be a good thing. I wouldn't want to get involved in that debate!

Kin and Duchess - I hold the same beliefs, for what its worth at this late date.

I wonder - is Zeph going to be this argumentative in heaven? Shocked Wink Very Happy
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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

caamora wrote:
Wow - interesting thread, folks!


And I made it. Cool *Struts*

caamora wrote:
I wonder - is Zeph going to be this argumentative in heaven? Shocked Wink Very Happy


If there was any justice in the world, he'll be in hell.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We can always count on you, Darth, to be at the center of any controversy! Wink Laughing Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, that was me!
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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, eternal torture might be just a wee bit overkill for annoying people on a message board, neh?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno, Fisty... he was really annoying Evil Foul
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about a timeshare in hell?
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brinn wrote:
From a purely intellectual standpoint, to believe their is no god is just as illogical as stating that you believe in God. There is no scientific proof either way and both views ultimately rely on individual faith. Therefore, in my opinion, Athiesm is as much a religion as Christianity, Islamism or any other deific group because it holds a position that cannot be objectively verified and relies on faith in a belief system.

Thus, IMHO, I feel the only scientifically supported choice is agnosticism. Notice I do not use the world "logical" to suggest that agnosticism is, IMO, a good choice. Personally, I believe in God but I recognize it is a matter of faith. However even if I did not believe in God it could be argued, via Pascal's Wager, that belief in God is a statistically logical and mathematically sound position. Look at the table below describing the possible outcomes for Pascal's Wager:

| ___________________|___God Exists__|__God Does not Exist_|
|_Believe in God_______|___Reward____|__No Ramification____|
|_Do Not Believe in God_|__Punishment__|__No Ramification____|

Believing in God superdominates wagering against God: the worst outcome associated with wagering for God (No Ramification) is at least as good as the best outcome associated with wagering against God (No Ramification) and if God exists, the result of wagering for God is better that the result of wagering against God.

Certainly this is a cynical and selfish way to establish a personal belief system however, purely from a logical standpoint, it is sound provided that the probability for Gods existence is greater than zero.

Just my twocents Wink


A few problems I see:

There's no way of knowing which Supreme Being is the right one to believe in. What if a dozen different religions come to you with Pascal's Wager? And even if there is a God, there is truly no way of knowing which religion He/She belongs to or whether or not God is benevolent. The Wager can sometimes be self-refuting, depending on the person's chosen description of God. Does God, if He/She exists, judge you on your personal merits or whether or not you believe in a particular doctrine/religion? How can we truly know?

To me, the Wager seems like a bit of a veiled thread at its base form: believe in God or you go to hell. Which of course has no effect on me, being an atheist. It's like telling me, "believe in unicorns or you will be trampled in your sleep." Plus, if I start believing in God cause it's the logical thing to do, I'm pretty sure God is smart enough to realize I'm just doing it out of convenience.

And it's not true that there's no ramification if God doesn't exist and you're a theist. You have lost something: you have wasted a good portion of your life in prayer, going to Church, spreading the Good News, etc. about a Supreme Being that doesn't even exist.

Atheism is a religion, Brinn?! Wow, does this mean that theists would have no problem with atheism being taught in schools as part of religious education, or even the setting up of atheist-run schools alongside Baptist, Catholic and Muslim schools? And if atheism is a religion, then your disbelief in every other existing religion except Christianity is a religion. You're a member of dozens upon dozens of religions and you didn't even know it! Amazing, huh? Wink

Aside from a measure of faith that God doesn't exist, atheism couldn't be farther from religion. If I have to make a huge list of the differences, I will. Wink

And yeah, this is an old thread, but I thought I'd spark some life in the religion forum. It's been dormant.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord Foul wrote:
There's no way of knowing which Supreme Being is the right one to believe in. What if a dozen different religions come to you with Pascal's Wager? And even if there is a God, there is truly no way of knowing which religion He/She belongs to or whether or not God is benevolent. The Wager can sometimes be self-refuting, depending on the person's chosen description of God. Does God, if He/She exists, judge you on your personal merits or whether or not you believe in a particular doctrine/religion? How can we truly know?
I've always thought this as well.

Lord Foul wrote:
Plus, if I start believing in God cause it's the logical thing to do, I'm pretty sure God is smart enough to realize I'm just doing it out of convenience.
Heh. Trying to pull one over on an omniscient being might be difficult at that!

Lord Foul wrote:
And it's not true that there's no ramification if God doesn't exist and you're a theist. You have lost something: you have wasted a good portion of your life in prayer, going to Church, spreading the Good News, etc. about a Supreme Being that doesn't even exist.
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell... Different people have different values, and for some, these values can work in any system of thought/belief. Let's take your view first. Let's say that Truth is the most important thing to you. If you found reason to believe that some version of Christianity is the Truth, you might spend your life praying, going to church, etc, and be completely happy doing it. But let's say that, at the moment of death, you learned that those beliefs were incorrect. You might feel the greatest horror and regret that any human ever felt.

OTOH, maybe Happiness is the most important thing to me. Maybe I think that, since there are no sure ways of knowing much of anything in life, any road to Happiness is as valid as any other. If my happiness depended on being absolutely certain about anything, I'd never be happy. So on my deathbed when I learn that I was wrong, I'm not concerned or surprised, I'm only remembering the Happiness my life had been filled with. The act of devoting myself to something, striving to do so perfectly, was the important thing, not the validity of the thing I was devoting myself to. It's not the thing you fling, it's the fling itself.

Lord Foul wrote:
Atheism is a religion, Brinn?! Wow, does this mean that theists would have no problem with atheism being taught in schools as part of religious education, or even the setting up of atheist-run schools alongside Baptist, Catholic and Muslim schools?
And they wouldn't have to pay taxes!!!!

Lord Foul wrote:
And if atheism is a religion, then your disbelief in every other existing religion except Christianity is a religion. You're a member of dozens upon dozens of religions and you didn't even know it! Amazing, huh? Wink
That's a lot of churches to go to!!!! Gas prices being what they are these days, I don't think I could afford to disbelieve in more than 4 or 5 religions. Sad


(edit: How ironic is it to misspell omniscient? Laughing )
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
It's not the thing you fling, it's the fling itself.


I understand. It's just kind of a let down if God in fact doesn't exist and they've invested so much into Him. Then again, if they die and there's no God and/or afterlife, they'll never really know.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord Foul wrote:
Brinn wrote:
From a purely intellectual standpoint, to believe their is no god is just as illogical as stating that you believe in God. There is no scientific proof either way and both views ultimately rely on individual faith. Therefore, in my opinion, Athiesm is as much a religion as Christianity, Islamism or any other deific group because it holds a position that cannot be objectively verified and relies on faith in a belief system.

Thus, IMHO, I feel the only scientifically supported choice is agnosticism. Notice I do not use the world "logical" to suggest that agnosticism is, IMO, a good choice. Personally, I believe in God but I recognize it is a matter of faith. However even if I did not believe in God it could be argued, via Pascal's Wager, that belief in God is a statistically logical and mathematically sound position. Look at the table below describing the possible outcomes for Pascal's Wager:

| ___________________|___God Exists__|__God Does not Exist_|
|_Believe in God_______|___Reward____|__No Ramification____|
|_Do Not Believe in God_|__Punishment__|__No Ramification____|

Believing in God superdominates wagering against God: the worst outcome associated with wagering for God (No Ramification) is at least as good as the best outcome associated with wagering against God (No Ramification) and if God exists, the result of wagering for God is better that the result of wagering against God.

Certainly this is a cynical and selfish way to establish a personal belief system however, purely from a logical standpoint, it is sound provided that the probability for Gods existence is greater than zero.

Just my twocents Wink


A few problems I see:

There's no way of knowing which Supreme Being is the right one to believe in. What if a dozen different religions come to you with Pascal's Wager? And even if there is a God, there is truly no way of knowing which religion He/She belongs to or whether or not God is benevolent. The Wager can sometimes be self-refuting, depending on the person's chosen description of God. Does God, if He/She exists, judge you on your personal merits or whether or not you believe in a particular doctrine/religion? How can we truly know?

To me, the Wager seems like a bit of a veiled thread at its base form: believe in God or you go to hell. Which of course has no effect on me, being an atheist. It's like telling me, "believe in unicorns or you will be trampled in your sleep." Plus, if I start believing in God cause it's the logical thing to do, I'm pretty sure God is smart enough to realize I'm just doing it out of convenience.

And it's not true that there's no ramification if God doesn't exist and you're a theist. You have lost something: you have wasted a good portion of your life in prayer, going to Church, spreading the Good News, etc. about a Supreme Being that doesn't even exist.

Atheism is a religion, Brinn?! Wow, does this mean that theists would have no problem with atheism being taught in schools as part of religious education, or even the setting up of atheist-run schools alongside Baptist, Catholic and Muslim schools? And if atheism is a religion, then your disbelief in every other existing religion except Christianity is a religion. You're a member of dozens upon dozens of religions and you didn't even know it! Amazing, huh? Wink

Aside from a measure of faith that God doesn't exist, atheism couldn't be farther from religion. If I have to make a huge list of the differences, I will. Wink

And yeah, this is an old thread, but I thought I'd spark some life in the religion forum. It's been dormant.


This could be a rival of excellence to your evolution post. well said, foul, well said.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
From a purely intellectual standpoint, to believe their is no god is just as illogical as stating that you believe in God.


I have always disagreed with this. The argument that, since you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of god, either belief takes as much faith is a flawed one. One thing I often say is that there is no reason to believe in a god - religion is purely a concept created by humanity, and has never had any supporting evidence to justify belief in deities. There is nothing I have seen, read, or been told about that would make me consider belief - the things which first inspired faith thousands of years ago are all nowadays scientifically explained. In other words, I know too much about how the universe works for anything except concrete evidence to make me believe.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2004 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Murrin, I agree with Brinn, but we might not all be thinking of the same thing. I think he's talking about those who say, "There is no God." That's a positive claim - a positive about a negative, if you will - and indicates that the speaker has specific knowledge proving it. Of course, that's silly. There's no way anyone could know that no God exists. One possible God is the omniscient (spelled correctly this time Smile), omnipotent one that many people think of. Such a being could obviously hide all trace of its existence from us.

It's very different from saying, "I don't believe there is a God," which only says I haven't found reason to believe.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2004 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are certainly correct, Fist, but it gave me an excuse for one of my rare posts in a serious discussion, heh.
I just wanted to say that I not only do not believe in a god, I do not think the concept worth considering unless we learn more of our universe which may point to it.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, I gotcha, Murrin. Smile

As for this debate itself... I'll tell you one thing that, for me, suggests a creator. Something that, though maybe not ironclad proof, is certainly enough to make me consider the concept.

In Does God Exist? The Debate Between Theists & Atheists, J.P. Moreland says this:

In biology, scientists have discovered that DNA molecules do not merely contain redundant order, but they contain what they call information. They say that DNA can be transcribed into RNA, and RNA can be translated into protein. Now Carl Sagan, and this is one of the few times I agree with him, has made certain claims about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, called SETI. According to Sagan, in that search all we need to do is find one message with information in it from outer space, and we will be able to recognize the presence of intelligence. We don't even need to be able to translate it; it is the presence of information instead of order that will tip us off to the presence of intelligence. Well, what is sauce for the artificial goose ought to be sauce for the DNA gander, and I argue that the information in DNA molecules is evidence of intelligence behind it.

Humans have made many information systems. Language itself is one. Books and computers are biggies too. Information systems refer to things outside themselves. Languages do not merely talk about language. That wouldn't make for much of a conversation. They refer to things outside themselves. Anything, in fact.

Nature does not have information systems. There are many things in nature that have structure and patterns. Snowflakes, for example. Sedimentary rocks, pulsars, the shapes of galaxies, etc., etc. But none of these things are information systems. Not only do they not refer to anything outside of themselves, they don't even refer to themselves. They are just patterns and structures.

Except... DNA is an information system. The only one that we have ever found that was not created by us. It is more than a pretty double-helix. It is not only an information system, but it is one that we could never dream of making. It contains the information to build the body of whatever the organism in question is, even the simplest of which are extremely complicated, from a molecular chemist's point of view. Proteins and amino acids build the tiny, but intricate parts of the cell. We could never come up with a system that is such a complicated blueprint, a blueprint that is also the builder of these incredibly complicated things, allows them to reproduce, and always have offspring that are different from the parents. We're nowhere near that clever, and I don't see that the possibility of uncountable accidents is an iron-clad explanation. Nature is not so filled with other information systems that we can say, "Oh, DNA? That's just another random occurrence."
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll try and respond to all that, but one of the reasons I don't post in these topics often is that I'm not very good at expressing my thoughts on this sort of thing... I'm not entirely sure if this really answers what you are saying, but its as close as I can think of other than just saying 'its perfectly possible through chance'.

The first long organic molecules formed in warm, chemically rich spots near the sea beds, where chemicals would form into complex molecules when exposed to heat - apparently the structures make the transference of extra energy from heat (such as in areas of volcanic activity, prime suspects for the location of the first life) more efficient. These structures occured many times, in many combinations, and some work better than others - the ones less effective at transferring energy break down when exposed to too much energy. But, the process meant there were many different combinations of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, etc, present. Chemical properties of these elements meant they were always going to form in certain patterns, so the odds are good that long chain molecules will occur.
Here I am also going to throw in this: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993778
Recent evidence suggests that UV light from the sun actually made long chains of RNA more likely to form than other molecules. From there, it is all a chemical equivalent of natural selection. Every possible combination will have occured at some point - similar molecules with slightly different chemical properties. Some won't have lasted, some will have. Evolution takes care of the refinements.
If evolution is accepted as fact, then from the first strands of RNA formed, the complex DNA we have today is perfectly explicable.

Of course, if you return now to the statement about it being chance - that is not strictly true, based on the arguments above. The correct elements in the correct conditions do not have as large a number of possible formations as may be thought. The 'chance' is actually limited by many factors to the point where complex life becomes inevitable, rather than just probable.


Interestingly, this is also an argument for the possible abundance of extra-terrestrial life. In any place with very similar conditions, life is inevitable. Even if it doesn't last for long.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After considering your position, Foul, I will retract my comments that Atheism is a religion. I would venture that almost any definition of religion would include the positive characteristic of belief in a god or gods and/or the supernatural. Athiesm does not possess this fundamental characteristic. Although Atheism shares many characteristics with religion (e.g. it is a manner of understanding life and the universe, it has a mostly shared eschatology and requires faith to maintain beleif, or unbelief as the case may be!) it is not technically a religion although to maintain an athiestic belief system requires faith beyond what classical logic can prove. I still maintain that if you approach the question from a purely logical perspective agnosticism is the most intellectually honest and logically sound philosophy. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brinn wrote:
I would venture that almost any definition of religion would include the positive characteristic of belief in a god or gods and/or the supernatural. Athiesm does not possess this fundamental characteristic. Although Atheism shares many characteristics with religion (e.g. it is a manner of understanding life and the universe, it has a mostly shared eschatology and requires faith to maintain beleif, or unbelief as the case may be!) it is not technically a religion although to maintain an athiestic belief system requires faith beyond what classical logic can prove.


My sentiments exactly, Brinn; I just couldn't whittle it down to a paragraph, so I made an essay, heh. All in all, it's good to be discussing religion in such a safe (no Zeph) and kind (no Zeph) atmosphere. Laughing

Brinn wrote:
I still maintain that if you approach the question from a purely logical perspective agnosticism is the most intellectually honest and logically sound philosophy. Wink


I agree. On a side note, I never had a problem with the fact that atheism isn't the most sound of philosophies, mainly because I grew up in a Church background, which relies on a philosophy of similar solidity.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The greatest and most wonderous part of my life is the question: Did God intentionally create the need for faith? In other words, did He comprehend from the very beginning that we (humans) would achieve such a level of knowledge,that we might blind ourselves with our own magnificence and understanding of our surroundings, to begin to doubt that such levels of creation would require a true beginning? A supreme source, from which all possibility of life springs? Yes, we do know SO much about our world, yet I challenge anyone to explain the complexity of human thought, or why humans possess emotional range beyond even the most intelligent birds or mammals. Explain the word "yearning" or "love". And lastly, and (to me) most importantly, careful study of the Old Testament makes many precise predictions of the distant future (see your weekly dissertation for clues) ALL OF WHICH HAVE COME TO PASS!
This holds true not only for the Bible, but for other religious works as well.... which leads me to the possibility (not necessarily the "truth", but the possibility) that God not only exists, but allows for different representations for different cultures. (such representations not different by his doing but our own ceaseless meddling)

I do not judge non-believers, nor do I attempt to convert them, but instead steadfastly hold to my serene type of faith.

Those with no faith (whether it be in a deity or a philosophical school of thought) lack hope as well. -B
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Baradakas wrote:
Yes, we do know SO much about our world, yet I challenge anyone to explain the complexity of human thought, or why humans possess emotional range beyond even the most intelligent birds or mammals. Explain the word "yearning" or "love".


Neuropsychology is currently beating down that bastion, my friend. According to current theory, essentially the last thing for neuropsychology to 'explain' is self-awareness, but that doesn't mean a soul.
No offence, just explaining that emotions, thought, love and yearning can all be explained 'sufficiently'.
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