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Vorketh
December 8th, 2004, 08:42 AM
I have noticed through a broad overview of many religions of many peoples throughout much of time, and they have many similar characteristics:

Sacrifice (not necessarily blood)
Deitic supremacy
Deitic aid
Deitic punishment
Hypotheses of the unknown
Etc...

Basically, you can see that many religions, regardless of who, how many, or what they worship, involve some kind of sacrifice. Many of these religions involved animal/human sacrifice. This was often an appeasement method of sorts... how this notion came about, I am unsure.

Deitic supremacy is a given - who would want to worship something that they were better than? However, it goes to the extent, in most cases, that no matter what you do, you can NEVER become like that deity. This begs the question - how did the deity become like that? Once again, the origins of this are not so clear, but it is a highly understandable concept by which to gather a following (it's nice to know the big guy is on your side...)

Deitic aid is also a given. Why would you want to do something that left you with no benefit. Trouble is - we can attribute to almost any circumstance where one claims they were helped by a deity the fact that the same thing has happened to someone else by chance or luck.

Deitic punishment is a more interesting one. The Bible for instance holds many interesting stories, such as the Flood, turning Lot's wife to a pillar of salt, destroying cities with firestorms of sorts, etc. Other religions hold to similar types of punishment.

However, what I find most interesting has been the attempt to explain the unknown. It seems to me that religion began by people attempting to put reason to why things happened the way they did. Go back to Ancient Greece or Rome. Zeus and lightning, Apollo and the Sun, etc. Another constant to many religions is an attempt to explain what happens after death - something that there is NO solid proof of what happens because it is an unsurvivable event to observe :D
What this means to me is that religion, for aeons, has been an effective way of ignoring the human fear of the unknown. It is quite obvious that humans fear what they do not know from even very young ages (afraid of the dark is the classic metaphor). The older we get, this changes to more abstract concepts, such as afterlife and whatnot. Ultimately, people from all times in history and in all places have attempted to explain the inexplicable. Before the increased rise of science, religion was often on the offensive against scientific discoveries. Just take Galileo as one example. Today, however, I have found that I lean toward agnosticism because the tables have turned - science is now able to explain more things that religion can concerning what used to be unknown (accurately, that is). It seems to me that the only step left for science to take is to completely rule out the existance of gods/deities as anything but imaginations. This has not happened, possibly because religion is so hardwired into human culture. Nevertheless, it seems that religion is now on the defensive, and is facing defeat.

It really boils down to the title of this thread - coincidence or consequence. Is it just coincidence that all these religions have so many things in common, and that some deitic belief is ACTUALLY correct, or is it cosequence that due to the fact that humans have always longed for an explanation for everything, we have come up with progressively elaborate descriptions of what we don't know, and the 'good' aspects have survived the evolution (gasp) of religion, while lesser aspects have died out. With at least 7000 years of human evolution (assuming young earth beliefs), that's plenty of time to come up with a very sturdy religion (i.e. Christianity). This is why science has a hard time disproving it, because the religion has done an excellent job of founding itself on unprovable points.

Until the debate swings one way or the other affirmatively, I will remain agnostic, because it really is hard to know which is right, or even if it is possible to know if a god exists.

Thoughts?

Zhavric
December 8th, 2004, 08:48 AM
The only logicaly valid and tenable position is "I don't know" (agnosticism).

The only logicaly valid and tenable line of inquiry from that position involves scientific rigors and the rejection of folklore as anything other than folklore (atheism).

Theism is an untenable position because it involves faith which is another way of stating it involves a huge leap of logic.

CliveStaples
December 8th, 2004, 10:56 AM
The only logicaly valid and tenable line of inquiry from that position involves scientific rigors and the rejection of folklore as anything other than folklore (atheism).

Folklore is not a valid mode of inquiry because it fails to adequately explain how the world functions. A scientist, regardless of faith, would say that the sky is blue because of the phenomenon of light, and could explain how that phenomenon works. Reason and logic do not address questions of purpose, of telos. Science rejects only folklore/theology that CONTRADICTS logic, or that fails to adequately use reason. Christian faith, the only faith that I am aquainted with, does not contradict logic, or fail to use it adequately. One may be perfectly rational and either have faith or lack faith.

How is it illogical to state, "I cannot be sure which of these options is correct," and then choose to put your faith in one of the options? One may as well say that the only teneable position is never to play poker, because one cannot be logically certain of any particular outcome. However, this is not to say that religion is a crapshoot.

Zhavric
December 8th, 2004, 11:34 AM
Folklore is not a valid mode of inquiry because it fails to adequately explain how the world functions. A scientist, regardless of faith, would say that the sky is blue because of the phenomenon of light, and could explain how that phenomenon works.

Agreed.


Reason and logic do not address questions of purpose, of telos.

The "question of purpose" is a logical leap. You've assumed there is a purpose. Any conclusion you come to based on this assumption is purely subjective perception on your part. Each opinion is no more or less valid than the next and ultimatly can only help us understand our own pysches (if that). Certainly not the natural world.


Science rejects only folklore/theology that CONTRADICTS logic, or that fails to adequately use reason.

I am defining folklore as stories crafted by individuals that are either outright falsehoods or embelishments of truth / distorted beyond the realm of validity. Science does not work with folklore. Science is, in a sense, the opposite of folklore.


Christian faith, the only faith that I am aquainted with, does not contradict logic, or fail to use it adequately. One may be perfectly rational and either have faith or lack faith.

Here we get into the difference between logically valid and logically sound.

A + B = AB is a logically valid statement. However, if A is "horse", B is "magical horn" and AB is "unicorn" then I have made a logically valid statement that is not sound. Why not? Because horses do not have magical horns and unicorns do not exist. No proof of their existence or the existence of magic has ever been offered. Thus we are dealing with an unsoung argument.

Christianity is full of such phenomenon. If there is a god then it is beneficial to do as He has commanded. This is a logically valid statement, but it is not sound logic because it assumes that god is real, but gives no evidence.

But you are right, Clive: Christianity is quite logical.


How is it illogical to state, "I cannot be sure which of these options is correct," and then choose to put your faith in one of the options?

I never said I was "putting my faith" in any option. Look again at what I stated:

The only logicaly valid and tenable line of inquiry from that position involves scientific rigors and the rejection of folklore as anything other than folklore (atheism).


One may as well say that the only teneable position is never to play poker, because one cannot be logically certain of any particular outcome. However, this is not to say that religion is a crapshoot.

We're at apples and oranges at this point. Let me see if I can bring our arguments together.

If we start at "I don't know if there is or is not a god" where can we go from there?

1) There is a god.
This option involves (for all religions on some level) elevating folklore to the level of "fact". Christianity takes the folk tales of Jesus and calls them historical events. Buddhism takes the life of Buddha and does the same. The Greeks had their stories of gods who walked among men and god-born heroes that they believed as valid.

A theistic position is inherently flawed. It supposes that one's chosen religion is the case while all others are not the case.* All arguments in this realm ultimately boil down to "My folk lore happened and yours is just a made up story" or some variation of such. (Early Christian to early native American: "Your Great Spirit is really my god. You've really been worshipping my god all along and just not known it. Let me teach you how to worship him correctly...")

2) There is not a god.
This line of reasoning seeks to reject all religions / claims of deity / etc. An atheist is not so different from a theist. We have just rejected one more religion than you have. We do not rely on folklore, but instead rely on science and the empirical physical world and acknowledge that the idea of "purpose" is a human fabrication as is any possible answer.

*Insert HappyLady to tell us that all religions (even the ones that violently contradict one another) are all really worshiping the same god / force / energy / etc.

HappyLady
December 8th, 2004, 11:48 AM
It seems to me that the only step left for science to take is to completely rule out the existance of gods/deities as anything but imaginations. This has not happened, possibly because religion is so hardwired into human culture.

Or maybe because God really does exist and science can't even begin to touch it.

Anyyyyway, I wish I had the time to address a lot of your post point by point, but...I don't. So, I will have to make this more general. It is true that there are many common themes within all religions, such as the ones you referred to. But I think what it alludes more to is a concept like the Golden Rule. There is some agreement that some moral codes are universal, such as not murdering or not stealing. Such codes are a common thread in almost all world religions. Having a deity act the way in which you describe (punishing or aiding) would help keep moral order.

I think what is happening with the world in general is this. Religion originally came to be in order to instill moral structure, but it also served another purpose of instilling spiritual and social structure. People are supposed to "love one another", "help thy neighbor." Unfortunately, if we abandon the moral order, we are also going to end up abandoning the spiritual and social order and that is going to have devastating consequences.

The fact that religion is on the decline is so evident in communities all across America. (I can't speak for other countries.) Earlier in the century, all the neighbors knew each other, families stayed close to home, there was a large network of community support, and people were not nearly so self-centered. Millions and millions and millions of people weren't suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. For the most part, people loved one another and had a strong sense of spirit.

Now, we replace spirit with sex, friendship with the Internet, most people don't know their neighbors nor would they offer a hand to help them. One can say the demise of society is based solely on technological advances that make it possible to isolate ourselves and materialism, but I say that the decline of spirituality (which was largely housed in religion) has directly contributed to the emptiness of the people within society. Another problem is that even the religious people have largely abandoned the spiritual structure of their religion, and emphasize the moral code over spirituality.

Somewhere along the way, when people began to abandon religion, they abandoned everything it stood for, not just the notion of a deity. They abandoned moral, social, and spiritual structure. While I understand the difficulty in believing in a higher power, the Theistic view, such as the one you put forth Vorketh, at least established a system for moral, social, and spiritual conduct. If religion continues in a downward spiral, deity or no deity, it won't be long before society destroys itself. Bravo science!!

CliveStaples
December 8th, 2004, 11:56 AM
The "question of purpose" is a logical leap. You've assumed there is a purpose. Any conclusion you come to based on this assumption is purely subjective perception on your part. Each opinion is no more or less valid than the next and ultimatly can only help us understand our own pysches (if that). Certainly not the natural world.

Absolutely. Faith itself has no impact on rational examinations of the natural world.


A + B = AB is a logically valid statement. However, if A is "horse", B is "magical horn" and AB is "unicorn" then I have made a logically valid statement that is not sound. Why not? Because horses do not have magical horns and unicorns do not exist. No proof of their existence or the existence of magic has ever been offered. Thus we are dealing with an unsoung argument.

You make a false analogy. Christians shouldn't say: I believe in God because I have proved Him to be true. They believe in God because they choose to; not because reason tells them they must, but that they can.


The only logicaly valid and tenable line of inquiry from that position involves scientific rigors and the rejection of folklore as anything other than folklore (atheism).

I reject your claim that a rejection of folklore is atheistic. I accept the Biblical account not because it is part of my culture. I have seen nothing that disproves the Biblical account. You will bring up miracles, and I'll respond with this:

"So for me the programmer, the discontinuity was not a violation of law but the manifestation of a higher law known to me but not to you. By analogy, miracles in nature are not violations of natural law, but the manifestation of a higher law, God's law, as yet unknown." -- Charles Babbage


A theistic position is inherently flawed. It supposes that one's chosen religion is the case while all others are not the case.* All arguments in this realm ultimately boil down to "My folk lore happened and yours is just a made up story" or some variation of such.

You have not explained how it is flawed. One may reasonably conclude that all, some, or none of these religious positions may be true, and that, presumably upon death, all, some, or none of them will be disproved. Asserting one's own position, whatever it may be, cannot be said to be inherently illogical, unless it has already been disproven.


If there is a god then it is beneficial to do as He has commanded. This is a logically valid statement, but it is not sound logic because it assumes that god is real, but gives no evidence.

Evidence is used to convince yourself and/or others that the claim is true. Without this evidence, the claim MAY be true, or it MAY be false. It is not illogical to believe in an unrefuted, unsupported claim.

Zhavric
December 8th, 2004, 12:17 PM
The fact that religion is on the decline is so evident in communities all across America. (I can't speak for other countries.) Earlier in the century, all the neighbors knew each other, families stayed close to home, there was a large network of community support, and people were not nearly so self-centered. Millions and millions and millions of people weren't suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. For the most part, people loved one another and had a strong sense of spirit.

Oh PLEASE.

You've romanticized the neighborhoods of the 20th century. Millions and millions of people WERE suffering from a variety of disorders (many of them were just undiagnosed). Doctors prescribed valium and other drugs like they were candy. We were naive. You could let your kids play outside because you probably hadn't heard of the terrible urban legend style abductions that everyone today knows about. Religion has little to do with it. The same neighborhoods that were secular are secular today and the same neighborhoods that had church goers have church goers today.

Sorry, luv. You can't pin the "good ol' days" on religion. Hindsight really is 20/20...

CliveStaples
December 8th, 2004, 12:32 PM
Zhavric, you can't deny that post-WWII disillusionment and the development of post-modernism drastically changed what Americans thought and how the interacted with each other. Also, secularism has grown in America. Atheism was more unpopular in 1910 than it is now. Our pop culture reflects the changes that have happened throught the century. It wasn't paradise earlier in the century, but it certainly wasn't exactly the same.



You can't pin the "good ol' days" on religion.

Spanish Inquisition. Bloody Mary, Queen of Scots. Salem Witch trials. Not all times marked by religious belief have been good.

HappyLady
December 8th, 2004, 01:06 PM
You've romanticized the neighborhoods of the 20th century.

Well, I wasn't ONLY speaking about the 20th century. It's not like religion has dramatically declined all at once. It has been a slow process. You can not deny that communities were more close knit whenever in the past than they are today. Sporadic kidnappings isn't indicative of disintegrating communities. The fact that most people don't even know their neighbors first names is.

The materialistic meltdown probably started in the 1800's with Industrialism, but became more of an issue in the mid-50's when the materialistic attitude largely took over due to technological advances.

Ibelsd
December 8th, 2004, 01:30 PM
Well, I wasn't ONLY speaking about the 20th century. It's not like religion has dramatically declined all at once. It has been a slow process. You can not deny that communities were more close knit whenever in the past than they are today. Sporadic kidnappings isn't indicative of disintegrating communities. The fact that most people don't even know their neighbors first names is.

The materialistic meltdown probably started in the 1800's with Industrialism, but became more of an issue in the mid-50's when the materialistic attitude largely took over due to technological advances.

1. Define close-knit. Communities in the 15th century were certainly more reliant upon each other as a matter of survival. That hardly speaks to their spirituality. I mean, you didn't have a supermarket. You had the guy who grew potatoes. You had the woman who sold thread. You had the guy who could put shoes on your horse. You needed these people and they were your neighbors.

2. You claim people are more materialistic today. How do you measure this? People certainly are less concerned with survival and more likely to purchase luxury items today. Such luxuries, even a couple hundred years ago, were limited to only those in the upper class.

3. Let's remember the root cause of the earliest religions, such as those predating Christianity. They were developed to keep the masses in line. The masses were deprived of basic goods, stripped of most dignities, and their labor was owned by someone else. Secularism inspired the concept of man's ownership of his own labor. In other words, secularism inspired freedom. Machiavelli was the first to suggest that religion should work on behalf of the state rather than the other way around. This led to a new power for kings which eventually gave way to the concept of democracy.

I think you have made too many claims which are unsupported by fact. Slow down and rethink your premises.

Vorketh
December 8th, 2004, 03:22 PM
Or maybe because God really does exist and science can't even begin to touch it.


This, as I pointed out, is very much a possibility. However, winning the lottery is a possibility. It doesn't make it a guaranteed reality. All I'm saying is that science does have momentum against religion right now, and that we've pretty much disproved about every major facet of theism except the existence of a deity. Keep in mind that I have been completely general, and you have been specific. You only prove Zhav's point that theism is a self-centered way of thinking, combined with a pinch of mob-mentality (in the sense that the individual sacrifices a degree of individuality by identifying with the larger group). Meaning that, you have immediately jumped to the conclusion that YOUR religion and YOUR deity are in fact the correct ones. Is there any reason the Buddhists couldn't be right? Is there any reason the Muslim's couldn't be right? How about many other religions which exist today? Your statement proves your difficulties in thinking outside your religion.



Anyyyyway, I wish I had the time to address a lot of your post point by point, but...I don't. So, I will have to make this more general. It is true that there are many common themes within all religions, such as the ones you referred to. But I think what it alludes more to is a concept like the Golden Rule. There is some agreement that some moral codes are universal, such as not murdering or not stealing. Such codes are a common thread in almost all world religions. Having a deity act the way in which you describe (punishing or aiding) would help keep moral order.

I think what is happening with the world in general is this. Religion originally came to be in order to instill moral structure, but it also served another purpose of instilling spiritual and social structure. People are supposed to "love one another", "help thy neighbor." Unfortunately, if we abandon the moral order, we are also going to end up abandoning the spiritual and social order and that is going to have devastating consequences.

The fact that religion is on the decline is so evident in communities all across America. (I can't speak for other countries.) Earlier in the century, all the neighbors knew each other, families stayed close to home, there was a large network of community support, and people were not nearly so self-centered. Millions and millions and millions of people weren't suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. For the most part, people loved one another and had a strong sense of spirit.


I was trying to stay away from moral values, because all too many religions in the past, and not just cults, have incorporated human sacrifice and other things we consider immoral today. I have this belief that good ideas can be universal, but having a good idea bears no added evidence to the validity of a religion at all. Meaning, just because Christianity, for instance, has good ideas such as don't kill, don't steal, etc., this doesn't mean that because it has these ideas, it is more valid than any other religion. This is especially true since, as you and I agree upon, many, not all, religions have these good ideas.

You missed my point that I believe social order is a side-effect (albeit an amazingly beneficial one) to religion, and the intended reasons for the concoction of such things as deities was to help explain what was unknown - how things worked. For this, I credit the beginnings of science. It shows, as we already know, that humans are naturally curious and inquisitive. Before we were capable of testing things out, we made things up (various historical, ancient religions). Eventually, once we found out how, humans began testing these theories, and thus science is born. Unfortunately for religion, this creates a lot of proofs against religious claims.

Once again, moral, social, spiritual, emotional order and the like is highly beneficial to a stable society, hence why religion has made it thus far. (Even if it were true, if it weren't useful, humans would have moved past it. You provide evidence for this today, seeing as you, and many millions believe Christianity is true, yet many turn away from it because they don't see it useful to their lives.)


Somewhere along the way, when people began to abandon religion, they abandoned everything it stood for, not just the notion of a deity. They abandoned moral, social, and spiritual structure. While I understand the difficulty in believing in a higher power, the Theistic view, such as the one you put forth Vorketh, at least established a system for moral, social, and spiritual conduct. If religion continues in a downward spiral, deity or no deity, it won't be long before society destroys itself. Bravo science!!

It might just be me, but I believe that human nature in general will lead humans to their own destruction - here is my proof:

Humans are very competitive. From religion, to wealth, and just about anything else, humans have this desire to be better than others. Many are able to suppress this, but it doesn't mean they don't have it in them. Even trying to be as uncompetitive as possible is still comparing yourself to the standard of peers. For this reason, we have warred for millenia. This competition does kill people, but worse, it leads us further toward our own destruction by allowing technological advancements. These advancements have created better ways to kill people (nukes and other WMD). However, these won't wipe out society completely. If we are allowed to advance too far, I feel that the general populous will eventually be relieved of things such as self-sufficiency. We've already been relieved of having to farm our own food, make our own clothes (talking about MOST of the people in a society), etc. These are no longer individual needs. In fact, most probably don't really know what it takes to farm, or even how to do so effectively (this also includes hunting). Our own apathy will be our demise.

Just as a side note... religion hasn't done too much to stem the destruction of human kind... if I recall, gloom and doom for all who don't follow the Truth™ exists in Christianity (Revelation). Then, for all the rest, immortality. Funny thing is, something is only living, biologically, if it can die. Life, for scientific purpose, is defined as, aside from self-sustaining capabilities(either through internal methods such as photosynthesis or external methods such as consuming resources), and other things typical to life, bound by a beginning (birth, cell division, what have you) and an end (death, etc). By this definition, nothing living can persist forever. Very contradictory to an immortal deity, which only proves that science and religion are forever separate. Anyway, back to what I was saying - Religion hasn't done much to spare humanity, and it's in its own doctrine. Ultimately, someone has to be right, and no matter who it is, it means death for everyone else in the future. Even those that don't preach doom and gloom, society will still lead itself to destruction. If religion, with all its miraculous capabilities were actually able to save humanity, it would. However, all of this is a footnote to the real discussion, so if you forgot what it was, read it again omitting this section.

HappyLady
December 8th, 2004, 06:20 PM
All I'm saying is that science does have momentum against religion right now, and that we've pretty much disproved about every major facet of theism except the existence of a deity.

Like what? Science has provided evidence that explains how things like *some* miracles *can* happen, through probability and statistics and coincidences. But I don't really see that science has disproved every major facet of theism.


Keep in mind that I have been completely general, and you have been specific. You only prove Zhav's point that theism is a self-centered way of thinking, combined with a pinch of mob-mentality (in the sense that the individual sacrifices a degree of individuality by identifying with the larger group). Meaning that, you have immediately jumped to the conclusion that YOUR religion and YOUR deity are in fact the correct ones. Is there any reason the Buddhists couldn't be right? Is there any reason the Muslim's couldn't be right? How about many other religions which exist today? Your statement proves your difficulties in thinking outside your religion.

Vorkey, I'm gonna ask you to go into my post and tell me even once where I mentioned "Christian God" and then I will entertain this paragraph of yours. I was stating quite the opposite that *all world religions* have common bonds to instill moral order, loving each other and helping others being two of them.

I really, REALLY wish I had time to participate in this debate, but I don't right now. (I've got a warm body to curl up next to.) I will come back tomorrow as there are many points of yours and others that I want to continue debating. (I think I make this commitment too often. But, I will at least try. :) )

mustang5
December 8th, 2004, 07:18 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by Vorketh
All I'm saying is that science does have momentum against religion right now, and that we've pretty much disproved about every major facet of theism except the existence of a deity.

You need to read the book "A case for a creator" It's about how science has momentum for proving the case for a creator.

CliveStaples
December 8th, 2004, 11:15 PM
Let's remember the root cause of the earliest religions, such as those predating Christianity. They were developed to keep the masses in line.

Really? Weren't they developed by the people, for the people? Tribes in Africa, etc.?


Secularism inspired the concept of man's ownership of his own labor.

This claim seems ludicrous to me. Can you offer any support at all for it? And Adam Smith was Christian, not secular, by the way.


Life, for scientific purpose, is defined as, aside from self-sustaining capabilities(either through internal methods such as photosynthesis or external methods such as consuming resources), and other things typical to life, bound by a beginning (birth, cell division, what have you) and an end (death, etc).

Emphasis mine.

You added this little bit. The definition of life stands apart from the question of the beginning and end of life; something alive (reproducing cells, etc.) could feasibly continue to live forever, as long as vital functions were maintained. Just because all life on Earth is bound by birth and death doesn't mean that it is the only possible way.

Ibelsd
December 9th, 2004, 08:54 AM
Really? Weren't they developed by the people, for the people? Tribes in Africa, etc.?



This claim seems ludicrous to me. Can you offer any support at all for it? And Adam Smith was Christian, not secular, by the way.



Emphasis mine.

You added this little bit. The definition of life stands apart from the question of the beginning and end of life; something alive (reproducing cells, etc.) could feasibly continue to live forever, as long as vital functions were maintained. Just because all life on Earth is bound by birth and death doesn't mean that it is the only possible way.


1. It is probably a good idea to attribute who you are quoting. The first two quotes are mine. The last is from an unknown source. Kind of confusing.

2. Religion is defined as "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe." - dictionary.com. You must be more specific than just African tribes. The earliest known religions date back to the Sumerians, the Egyptians, and the Indus people. In all cases religion was utilized to maintain order by the ruling class. Consider Hammurabi's code which utllized faith in the gods to mete out justice.

3. The proof of the power of secularism as it relates to individual empowerment is looking at the timeline of human social development. In the Ancient world, the individual was of little importance. The concept of tribe, as you noted prevailed. The power of the supernatural guided decision-making. The ancient mind was considered bicarel, making the concept of individualism nearly inconceivable. As the power shifted from mythology towards organized religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the man was seen as a servant of god. Power was given to those who were thought to be conduits of the chosen higher power. The individual, while existing as a concept, had little priority within the social structure. Consider the lot of the serf whose labor belonged to a king due to divine right. In such a system, man's labor was not his own. Emerging after the 15th century, Machiavelli marked the turning point of secular rule. Slowly, we see the shift of the power of the individual. By the 19th century, the industrial revolution was occuring in Europe. This was the beginning of the ascent of the individual. His labor was increasingly his own. The world became more secular which tied in with the increasing importance of the individual in society. Man no longer was indebted to his king who was no longer a conduit of god.

CliveStaples
December 9th, 2004, 10:21 AM
Asserting contemporaneous existence is not the same as proving causality.

Zhavric
December 9th, 2004, 10:24 AM
You need to read the book "A case for a creator" It's about how science has momentum for proving the case for a creator.

That book is just a glorified watchmaker argument. The watchmaker argument has been thoroughly discredited as being invalid.

In fact, what I've found of most claims that science is making a case for a creator read something like this:

"(insert junk science) points to the existence of god."

or

"(insert valid scientific argument) doesn't disprove the existence of god so god must be valid."

It's all perception and leaps of logic. It reminds me of a joke I know.

A man walks into a shrink's office with a stack of papers and immediately begins tearing the papers into small pieces.
The Shrink asks the man, "Why are you tearing up paper?"
The man replies, "To keep the TIGERS away."
The Shrink regards the man and states, "Sir, we are in the midwestern United States there are no Tigers in this part of the world."
The man grins and says, "That's because it works!"

It's the same faulty "logic" we see in theistic "science" all the time.

CliveStaples
December 9th, 2004, 10:48 AM
"Sometimes when I'm faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there's a cook."

Is this another example of a false cause?


That book is just a glorified watchmaker argument. The watchmaker argument has been thoroughly discredited as being invalid.

I assume you mean that it has been discredited as being VALID, but that distinction aside, I've never a counter-argument that didn't say something like, "Yeah, a watchmaker, but you CAN'T be SURE that it wasn't actually random." Do you know another counter-argument?

Ibelsd
December 9th, 2004, 11:01 AM
Asserting contemporaneous existence is not the same as proving causality.

That is sort of a funny rebuttal from someone who asserts there is a god because we exist, or that our existence is proof of a god.

Aside from that, though, I was rebutting two comments you made. Your first was that the origin of the earliest religions was not an attempt to control the masses (or tribe,town,city,etc) and that is was created by the people for the people. This is historically inaccurate. As evidence, I noted some of the earliest religions whom most experts will attest were created in an effort to not only explain natural phenomena, but to keep the tribe in line. I noted Hammurabi's code as an example of this.

Your second comment was a request for proof as to my assertion that secularism has led to the increased value of individualism. Contemporaneous existence would be something along the lines of top hats were the rage of the twenties as was jazz. Therefore top hats led to jazz. This was not the nature of my argument at all. Rather, I noted that as secularism has evolved over the last 10,000 years, so has the vaue of the individual. Now, you may be correct in noting that I can not prove a causal relationship between the two. What is undeniable, is that the two are related.

Zhavric
December 9th, 2004, 11:32 AM
"Sometimes when I'm faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there's a cook."

Is this another example of a false cause?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. It's an EXCELLENT example. /\ :D /\

Let's look at this example wherein you invite me to a gourmet dinner at an expensive restaurant.

We sit down to an excellent, five star meal with four courses: apetizer, salad, main, desert.

We both enjoy the food, but then we wonder where it was that the food came from? It didn't simply appear out of thin air on the table. So, we must take into account the waiter.

The waiter brought the food from the kitchen. So we follow him to the kitchen where we see not one chef but many. We find out that there is a master chef, several prep chefs and maybe even a few apprentice chefs who all helped to create the meal we just enjoied.

After complimenting the chef on his meal we ask him how he did it. He tells us then how he was assisted by his apprentice, the prep chef and (of course) the waiter. We ask him how he devised such a cullinary spectacle. He candidly admits that his work was not entirely original and that several of the side dishes were devised by other chefs who had, in turn, altered their knowledge of existing food and so on and so on. Also, many of the basic side dishes had existed for centuries, such as steamed rice.

Since the chef did not think of the meal or prepare it all by himself, we start to wonder what else he hasn't done.

*He hasn't made the utensils he used to chop, stir, and dice our meal.

*He hasn't built the stoves or ovens used to cook them nor the refrigorators to store them.

*He has neither grown any of the vegtables nor grown or butchered any of the animals used in the meal.

*He hasn't built the restaurant in which he works nor does he have a role in its administration.

*Finally, he doesn't have anything to do with the gas and electricity it took to light the kitchen or provide fuel to the cooking flames.

Let's see. So far we have...

Chef (1)
Prep Chef (1)
Apprentice Chef (1)
Precursory chefs (many)
Waiter (1)
Who ever invented rice (?)
... I lost count when we started considering the hundreds of people who had a hand in putting the kitchen and its utensils together.

So, the more we examine the gourmet meal the more we see that no one individual can take credit for it. The more we look, the more we find that the gourmet meal has EVOLVED from our early days as barely civilized agriculture users to our mass consumer market of the 21st century where food is produced, transported, and prepared.

So, sure. I believe there was a cook, but to believe that the cook was solely responsible for the food we eat is to ignore the full picture. If I stated that the cook alone was responsible for the meal, I would be ignoring the many individuals and processes that are necessry to enjoy a 5 star meal.

CliveStaples
December 9th, 2004, 11:32 AM
That is sort of a funny rebuttal from someone who asserts there is a god because we exist, or that our existence is proof of a god.

Have you read all the stuff I've written about reason and its limitations? I don't think that God can be proven or disproven, based on the facts that I know. I only assert that God COULD exist, and until THAT is proven wrong, I cannot be faulted for lacking logic or reason.

CliveStaples
December 9th, 2004, 11:38 AM
The number of people who had a hand in creating the meal is irrelevant. The only fact germane to the question at hand is whether or not a meal, sitting in front of you, is evidence for a cook. Whether or not it is evidence for more than one cook is beside the point. A watchmaker argument.

Zhavric
December 9th, 2004, 11:52 AM
The number of people who had a hand in creating the meal is irrelevant. The only fact germane to the question at hand is whether or not a meal, sitting in front of you, is evidence for a cook. Whether or not it is evidence for more than one cook is beside the point. A watchmaker argument.

Not at all.

The Watchmaker makes the watch = God makes the universe.
The Chef makes the meal = God makes the universe.

If this is what you are alleging then you are mistaken.

For your analogy to be accurate, you would have to find a chef who fabricated a meal entirely by himself. The fact that so many hands went into preparing the food and that the methods by which the preperation has been developed have been changed and refined over time is a far better argument for evolution than it is for creation.

Touching on another angle, if you and I are sitting at the table and both close our eyes and put our hands over our ears only to open our eyes and uncover our ears when our noses detect the sweet aroma of food then we are only left with one tenable position: We do not know where the food came from.

It could have been fabricated by a chef from the restaurant next door.
It could have been fabricated by a machine programmed by engineers to prepare food on an assembly line with no chefs involved other than in the planning phase.
Parts of the meal could have been prepared by the chef and then altered by the waiter (if indeed a waiter did bring the food to the table).

What we are NOT going to do is make up illogical stories that defy reality. We are not going to assume the food spontaneously appeared on the table by magic.

We are not going to assume that the table is intelligent and is rewarding us for living moral lives and is rewarding us by sprouting a meal out of its back for us to devour.

We are not going to assume that the patrons of the restaurant telepathically devined what we would desire to eat and brought us the food from their tables.

Ibelsd
December 9th, 2004, 12:15 PM
Have you read all the stuff I've written about reason and its limitations? I don't think that God can be proven or disproven, based on the facts that I know. I only assert that God COULD exist, and until THAT is proven wrong, I cannot be faulted for lacking logic or reason.

Interesting choice of point to rebut. You ignore my actual arguments in favor of refuting an amusing side-note. So, in the interest of not being totally derailed, I will stick to my two points until you provide rebuttal.

CliveStaples
December 9th, 2004, 01:03 PM
Now, you may be correct in noting that I can not prove a causal relationship between the two. What is undeniable, is that the two are related.

You haven't shown how they are related. You have only claimed that as secularism rose, so has the value of the individual. You have not shown that secularism was a cause of the rise of the individual. I did not say that you made the mistake of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. You haven't even made it that far, yet. You haven't said anything meaningful about the connection between the rise secularism and the rise of the value of the individual, except to state:


Secularism inspired the concept of man's ownership of his own labor.

Actually, this DOES seem to imply a direct, causal link between secularism and the concept of man's ownership of his own labor. I think that this is a faulty analysis, partly because the father of free market capitalism and laissez faire economics was no secularist. On the other hand, Communism (which denies personal ownership of property, among other things) was devoloped by a secularist. In fact, Marx demands secularism in order for Communism to work in his Communist Manifesto.


I noted some of the earliest religions whom most experts will attest were created in an effort to not only explain natural phenomena, but to keep the tribe in line.

I did not claim that all religions were made by man, for man. I can only assert that the religion I follow is not meant to force people to obey the government, or to do what some political leader says. Also, any philosophy that prefers order to chaos is made to keep people "in line." I don't see how this is a bad thing, per se.

CliveStaples
December 9th, 2004, 01:07 PM
Interesting choice of point to rebut. You ignore my actual arguments in favor of refuting an amusing side-note. So, in the interest of not being totally derailed, I will stick to my two points until you provide rebuttal.

Thanks for the update, Professor Ibelsd.



It could have been fabricated by a chef from the restaurant next door.
It could have been fabricated by a machine programmed by engineers to prepare food on an assembly line with no chefs involved other than in the planning phase.
Parts of the meal could have been prepared by the chef and then altered by the waiter (if indeed a waiter did bring the food to the table).

The only thing about the Watchmaker argument that I appreciate is the fact that it shows that a creator is possible, and is more probable if the creation is more ordered (as all systems tend toward entropy). However, I'm no scientist, and I may be taking Newton's Second Law (I think) of Thermodynamics completely out of context. Although, Newton was a Christian...

Ibelsd
December 9th, 2004, 01:48 PM
You haven't shown how they are related. You have only claimed that as secularism rose, so has the value of the individual. You have not shown that secularism was a cause of the rise of the individual. I did not say that you made the mistake of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. You haven't even made it that far, yet. You haven't said anything meaningful about the connection between the rise secularism and the rise of the value of the individual, except to state:

I don't think anyone can PROVE the two are related. One can only theorize the two are related. As I noted before, the rise of secularism over the past 10000 years has coincided with the rise of individualism. The industrial revolution marked the turning point where man's labor started to become his own. This coincides nicely with the decline of the church and the rise of secular politics. As, I have stated before, there certainly appears to be a relationship between the two.



Actually, this DOES seem to imply a direct, causal link between secularism and the concept of man's ownership of his own labor. I think that this is a faulty analysis, partly because the father of free market capitalism and laissez faire economics was no secularist. On the other hand, Communism (which denies personal ownership of property, among other things) was devoloped by a secularist. In fact, Marx demands secularism in order for Communism to work in his Communist Manifesto.
You have made several flaws in logic here.
1. The "father of free market capitalism" did not invent capitalism. Nor did Marx develop Communism. Both men attempted to explain socio-economic phenomena as they understood it. Therefore, the personal belief system of either man is largely irrelevant except to point out certain biases either man may have had.
2. You assume Marx's theories of Communism are correct. In fact, many of his theories have big holes. He did not come to many of his conclusions through research. Modern research has placed into question many of his ideals.


I did not claim that all religions were made by man, for man. I can only assert that the religion I follow is not meant to force people to obey the government, or to do what some political leader says. Also, any philosophy that prefers order to chaos is made to keep people "in line." I don't see how this is a bad thing, per se.

Your quote pretty closely stated that you thought religions were made by man for man. You did not attempt to qualify your statement. If you are attempting to retract that claim, fine. There is a difference in attempting to maintain order, and attempting to subjugate the individual. Take the Indus peoples who were subjected to the Aryan's modification of their own religion. Such a modification led to the caste system meant to keep the Indian people underneath the Aryan rulers. Is this not a bad thing? Christianity has been used on more than one occasion, by both popes and kings, to keep the masses in their place. You can claim that this is not the original intent of Christianity, but you cannot prove it. I can claim a shovel was never intended for digging holes, but considering that it has always been used for such work, we take for granted its intent. So, original intent is irrelevant. If it were not good for digging holes, it probably wouldn't be used much for that purpose. If Christianity was not so good at denying individual freedom, it probably wouldn't be used so often to do just that.

Zhavric
December 10th, 2004, 04:33 AM
The only thing about the Watchmaker argument that I appreciate is the fact that it shows that a creator is possible, and is more probable if the creation is more ordered (as all systems tend toward entropy). However, I'm no scientist, and I may be taking Newton's Second Law (I think) of Thermodynamics completely out of context. Although, Newton was a Christian...

The Watchmaker argument is a titanic leap of logic. Consider this image:


http://tea.rice.edu/Images/huffman/huffman_1_Me_holding_up_rock_slide_at_Houise.jpg

Did the man in the picture put all the rocks neatly into the place they are now or did he stumble upon a naturally occuring pile of rocks? The only tenable position to argue from is "we don't know because we are only looking at the pile, not its formation."

Now, one of us can take the stance that the rock pile is "ordered" and the other can take the stance that the rock pile is "random". The problem is that by stating that the rock pile is ordered, one is superimposing one's perceptions onto the pile.

Finally, the Watchmaker argument is flawed because we cannot draw an analogy between a mundane watch manufacturer and a super-natural deity.

Watches are put together by humans and only by humans.

Rivers can be dug by humans, but can also occur naturally. The same is true for many naturally occuring phenomenon. We know how mountains and valleys are formed and we know that there is no design to it. It happens because of plate tectonics / weathering / etc.

The Watchmaker argument is a false analogy.