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Poll: During your time on ODN, how have your religious beliefs changed?

Be advised that this is a public poll: other users can see the choice(s) you selected.

Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
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    ODN: Religious Conversions

    It surprised me to learn that some prominent atheists on ODN converted to atheism after joining ODN.

    1) During your stay on ODN, did you convert from Christianity to atheism? Atheism to Christianity?
    2) Have your beliefs stayed the same, weakened, or strengthened?
    3) In what way and why?
    4) How much of a role, if any, did your participation on ODN play?

    My answers:

    1) I was an atheist when I joined ODN.

    2) Since joining, my atheism has strengthened immensely, specifically in the way noted in #3.

    3) My belief that Christianity is false has grown exponentially, due to some of the reasons noted in #4.

    4) ODN has played a moderate role in strengthening my beliefs. The strength of my conviction stems mostly from my own personal study of the bible, biblical scholarship and apologetics. The information that comes from professional, academic literature is utterly damning for traditional Christian belief. Christians are either unaware of this information, or their responses to it are pathetically weak. This is true in professional circles and amateur circles (places like ODN). The fact that no Christian has been able to poke even a tiny whole in the enormous non-belief thread - and the fact that so many have either explicitly or implicitly conceded - merely reconfirms my observations. Nearly the entire ODN Christian community has failed to answer this question. I have never seen the entire atheist community fail so completely in one thread. Then, there is their failure - despite promises from Clivestaples and others - to reconcile the nativity contradiction in Matthew and Luke. Plus, there is the way that RogueCardinal, Dionysus, GoldPheonix and Allocutus dismantle Christian arguments time and time again. How many nails in the coffin do we need?
    Last edited by sonofnietzsche; August 20th, 2010 at 04:16 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Personally, I became a "stronger atheist" (Though not a true strong atheist) since coming to ODN.



    Really, the following reasons I think are the strongest reasons why I reject theism:

    1.) Personal anecdotes (Yes, we all have them and they strongly shape our views).


    But then there are things I've learned on ODN and my time since ODN:

    2.) There are some arguments to me that seem to irrefutably disembowel the Western notion of God (Most specifically, the problem of evil) so thoroughly that whenever Christians try to address it, they end up having to create ten new holes to plug up the single one created by this argument. I think that's telling of a strong argument, and I have yet to see anyone (in either scholarly or amateur in writing) give a sound rejoinder to this argument cause new logical problems for any Westernized theism.


    3.) The complete lack of credible arguments for the existence of a deity. There isn't a single one. The most intellectually dishonest is TAG (transcendental argument for the existence of god), the most intellectually honest is the cosmological argument. However, one invalid argument is not better than another invalid argument, logically speaking, so both are still equally invalid arguments.


    4.) Because theism is always coupled with a religion; theism is actually a stronger claim than deism or god-belief, because it is also defined (generally) as a belief in a personal deity (i.e. not impersonal). And this personal deity always has his, her, or their own religion, which makes a large, large number of metaphysical assertions that cannot ever be said to be known. So even if a theist could ever prove that there's a "God", they could never, ever even hope or dream to present cogent arguments for the further assumptions they make past: "There's a God."


    5.) Which usually leaves theism left with this atrocious (and frankly, as I've alluded to, what I find to be appalling) notion of "a leap of faith." Whether in the form of a Kierkegaardian leap of faith or a Plantinga's Reformed epistemology, this idea that "Well, I just don't have to justify my beliefs to anyone because I believe them already" is the greatest abortion of intellectual integrity a human being could ever have.



    So yes, since coming to ODN, I'm a "stronger" atheist. I now outright reject the existence of several kinds of deities, but I still can't say that every other permutation of God-belief is false, since there's no shortage of them.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." --Voltaire

  3. #3
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    1) I was a Catholic and a Christian when I joined ODN

    2) My beliefs (in the Church) have weakened

    3) My faith in the current Pope has been waning considerably over the past year, mostly because of his lily-livered stance on prosecuting pedophile priests. Still hoping James Earl Jones will show up and throw him down an exhaust shaft at some point.

    4) ODN has not played a very big, if it played any, role in weakening my beliefs. However, this is more because I was never a strong (read: literal, fundamental)believer to begin with. I'm sure that if I strode into ODN thumping a Bible then either my beliefs would have changed or I would have left ODN altogether.
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  4. #4
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by Epic View Post

    4) ODN has not played a very big, if it played any, role in weakening my beliefs. However, this is more because I was never a strong (read: literal, fundamental)believer to begin with. I'm sure that if I strode into ODN thumping a Bible then either my beliefs would have changed or I would have left ODN altogether.
    I think you are one of the few intellectually honest Christians on this site (Talthas and Tink are two others that come to mind). It'll be interesting to see how this poll shakes out. Given the beat down Christianity has received on this site, I just can't see how any Christian could say that his or her beliefs strengthened or remained the same.

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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by Herman
    I think you are one of the few intellectually honest Christians on this site (Talthas and Tink are two others that come to mind). It'll be interesting to see how this poll shakes out. Given the beat down Christianity has received on this site, I just can't see how any Christian could say that his or her beliefs strengthened or remained the same.
    Well, I do try my best. As to how well the poll does.....I could see it being largely ignored by the theist community here.
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  6. #6
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    If anything, being a Christian here on ODN has caused my faith to grow stronger. It's forced me to examine my beliefs in the most critical and unforgiving light I am likely to encounter, and I have found that most of them stand up quite admirably to such scrutiny, even if they are not sufficient to convince unbelievers.

    There are some points that I have been forced to question, but they are not central points of doctrine or dogma for me, but rather are refinements on some of the smaller points of the faith. The essentials remain unchanged, even if they are outlined in slightly higher resolution.

  7. #7
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    If anything, being a Christian here on ODN has caused my faith to grow stronger. It's forced me to examine my beliefs in the most critical and unforgiving light I am likely to encounter, and I have found that most of them stand up quite admirably to such scrutiny, even if they are not sufficient to convince unbelievers.
    In what possible sense do you mean this? The last time we engaged in a discussion you left because you didn't have the answers and you were too busy atm to figure out your response. In what manner is "standing up admirably to [...] scrutiny"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas
    There are some points that I have been forced to question, but they are not central points of doctrine or dogma for me, but rather are refinements on some of the smaller points of the faith. The essentials remain unchanged, even if they are outlined in slightly higher resolution.
    Very poetic but I'm still uncertain about what you mean here.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." --Voltaire

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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    In what possible sense do you mean this? The last time we engaged in a discussion you left because you didn't have the answers and you were too busy atm to figure out your response. In what manner is "standing up admirably to [...] scrutiny"?


    Very poetic but I'm still uncertain about what you mean here.
    While I understand the idea behind this line of questioning, I see where it's going. This *is* the "shooting the breeze" forum, and as such, I don't really want to go into too much detail about the points made. I'm not interested in getting into a debate about the particulars of every thread I've ever conceded, left for later, or otherwise been unable to defend to the satisfaction of my interlocutors. That's where I see any meaningful responses to this question going, and I'm just not interested in spending time doing that right now. If I were, I'd be posting about this on one of the debate threads. Sorry.

  9. #9
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    While I understand the idea behind this line of questioning, I see where it's going. This *is* the "shooting the breeze" forum, and as such, I don't really want to go into too much detail about the points made. I'm not interested in getting into a debate about the particulars of every thread I've ever conceded, left for later, or otherwise been unable to defend to the satisfaction of my interlocutors. That's where I see any meaningful responses to this question going, and I'm just not interested in spending time doing that right now. If I were, I'd be posting about this on one of the debate threads. Sorry.
    *sigh*

    You know, theism just isn't any fun to debate anymore. You guys never offer anything anymore. I never thought I'd miss that. You'll probably take offense to this, but I offer no apology. It's been a long time since I've seen a serious argument defending Christianity or theism. Have you guys seriously just given up or something?

    I mean Jesus, why insist that "my faith is increasing" but admit that "I am incapable of adequately defending my views" (Which is in fact what you're admitting, whether you want to come out and say it or not). It's tantamount to admitting that you only hold onto your beliefs for patently irrational reasons. So either stop saying have you have reasons for believing or, please, shut the hell up about it. I am frankly really disgusted by this current mentality amongst ODN's theists that they can provide no evidence of their assertions but still claim that there assertions are true. It just rings hollower and hollower the longer you do this. And if atheists ever did this, you'd accuse us of being close minded and religious.
    Last edited by GoldPhoenix; August 21st, 2010 at 07:09 AM.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." --Voltaire

  10. #10
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by HermanLeadread View Post
    1) During your stay on ODN, did you convert from Christianity to atheism? Atheism to Christianity?
    2) Have your beliefs stayed the same, weakened, or strengthened?
    3) In what way and why?
    4) How much of a role, if any, did your participation on ODN play?
    1) Neither; I arrived a Christian, and a Christian I remain.

    2) My beliefs have strengthened.

    3) I am more thoroughly convinced that a) There is not and cannot be a logically sufficient argument for becoming a Christian that could convince a disbeliever who does not share key first positions; b) There is not and cannot be a logically sufficient argument for adopting moral values that could convince a disbeliever who does not share key first positions; accordingly, c) the Bible's account of faith seems more cogent; and d) My rather radical beliefs about free will (that we are essentially 'prime movers') seem more cogent.

    It seems to me that whatever position you take about theism will depend entirely on your initial list of assumptions about the world. One's acceptance or rejection of theism will simply follow from applying these assumptions along with one's understanding of theism. In order to actually convert someone whose first positions are sufficiently different, a theist would have to work to change that person's first positions. This cannot be easily accomplished, and not through reason or logic (except in cases where people hold contradicting first positions).

    Thus the Bible's account of conversion--'the Spirit moving' in the person who hears the gospel, etc.--seems to be a fitting abstraction.

    4) ODN has played a moderate role in strengthening my beliefs. The strength of my conviction stems mostly from my own personal study of the bible, biblical scholarship and apologetics. The information that comes from professional, academic literature is utterly damning for traditional Christian belief. Christians are either unaware of this information, or their responses to it are pathetically weak. This is true in professional circles and amateur circles (places like ODN). The fact that no Christian has been able to poke even a tiny whole in the enormous non-belief thread - and the fact that so many have either explicitly or implicitly conceded - merely reconfirms my observations. Nearly the entire ODN Christian community has failed to answer this question. I have never seen the entire atheist community fail so completely in one thread. Then, there is their failure - despite promises from Clivestaples and others - to reconcile the nativity contradiction in Matthew and Luke. Plus, there is the way that RogueCardinal, Dionysus, GoldPheonix and Allocutus dismantle Christian arguments time and time again. How many nails in the coffin do we need?
    I remember that thread; I believe I wrote a rather lengthy response at one point which introduced the general field of scholarship on the issue and which positions had scholarly support. I can't seem to find the thread now, though; do you have a link?

    ---------- Post added at 12:27 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:20 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    While I understand the idea behind this line of questioning, I see where it's going. This *is* the "shooting the breeze" forum, and as such, I don't really want to go into too much detail about the points made. I'm not interested in getting into a debate about the particulars of every thread I've ever conceded, left for later, or otherwise been unable to defend to the satisfaction of my interlocutors. That's where I see any meaningful responses to this question going, and I'm just not interested in spending time doing that right now. If I were, I'd be posting about this on one of the debate threads. Sorry.
    Since this is in Shooting the Breeze, why don't we all just try to honestly convey the content of our beliefs?

    In the debating fora, what matters is being able to support one's beliefs. "Sure, you believe that [x] is true, but how do you know that it's actually the case?"

    Or constructing throughly logical theoretical frameworks (whether philosophical, exegetical, or whatever) in order to demonstrate exactly how one could consistently apply a system of analysis in order to come to your conclusions.


    But we're outside the realm of debate, now; we aren't mounting cases. We're just being asked to give our position (although this may entail a certain amount of candor and arranging one's thoughts in a cogent, coherent fashion).
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  11. #11
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Since joining ODN, I have converted from Christianity to atheism. My participation on ODN played an important role in my rejection of Christianity. I started out defending Christianity (if you dig back far enough you will find my old posts doing that), but I increasingly found myself resorting to implausible and unconvincing rationalisations. I then tried "playing Devil's advocate" by arguing against Christianity on some issues once in a while, and realised that I liked it much more. Eventually I came to terms with the fact that I just didn't believe in Christianity any more.

    However, I must add that I was never a very religious type to begin with - even while I was a Christian, I found going to Church boring and following Biblical commandments a pointless burden. I am also quite emotionally self-sufficient (some of my friends even say I appear emotionless), and there simply isn't a "God-shaped hole" in my heart to be filled.

    As such, I would say that participating in ODN provided me with the intellectual impetus to break free from the shackles of my conservative Christian upbringing, but on an emotional/personality level, I wasn't that suited for Christianity anyway. I say this because when it comes to religion, emotional factors clearly play a far more dominant role in determining whether a person subscribes to a particular religion. No amount of intellectual arguments will convince someone who has an inherently "religiophilic" personality to leave his religion. Conversely, for "religiophobic" people like me, I probably would have left Christianity eventually, even if I didn't join ODN. It was just a matter of time.
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  12. #12
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    There is not and cannot be a logically sufficient argument for becoming a Christian that could convince a disbeliever who does not share key first positions;
    If the Christian God did his job, then Christians wouldn't need arguments in the first place. The only reason theists need cosmological, teleological, ontological - and comical - arguments is that their God (who allegedly wants loves us, wants us to know the truth and wants to have a personal relationship with us) hides from his creation.

    c) the Bible's account of faith seems more cogent
    What do you mean by this?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post

    I remember that thread; I believe I wrote a rather lengthy response at one point which introduced the general field of scholarship on the issue and which positions had scholarly support. I can't seem to find the thread now, though; do you have a link?[COLOR="Silver"]
    If by "I wrote a rather lengthy response at one point which introduced the general field of scholarship on the issue and which positions had scholarly support," you mean that you copied and pasted a Wikipedia article that supports the point in Hermanleadread's OP, then I concur.

    Yes, your own article supports my position. The point of my thread was, amongst other points, to show that the consensus of modern scholars regards the nativity accounts as inerrant. The article you posted flatly states that "most current scholars regard this as an error by the author of the Gospel of Luke." Later on, it reiterates this point: "The majority view among modern scholars is that there was only one census, in 6 CE, and the author of the Gospel of Luke deviated from history in connecting it with the birth of Jesus." I know this because I read that article long before I ever posted anything on ODN.

    C.S
    Faith is an option for everyone. Faith is simply trust. Do you trust God? Do you trust the Bible? You are free to. There's nothing in the Bible that contradicts logic, reason, or science. It's up to you whether you think the Bible is trustworthy or not.
    This ridiculous statement, which you later retracted, prompted the thread. I had a strong suspicion that you did not know much - if anything - about the problem with Luke's nativity account. Yet, your ignorance on the matter didn't prevent you from making the the pronouncement above - nor did it prevent you from telling us unbelievers what we are "free to believe." Really, Clive? We're really just "free to believe" a proposition that even Raymond E. Brown (a Christian scholar) concluded is based on "information" that "is dubious on almost every score, despite the elaborate attempts by scholars to defend Lucan accuracy." That puzzled me, and I even figured that your first course of action would be to do a quick Wiki search. And wouldn't you know... you did, much to my amusement.

    ---------- Post added at 03:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:40 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    *sigh*

    You know, theism just isn't any fun to debate anymore. You guys never offer anything anymore. I never thought I'd miss that. You'll probably take offense to this, but I offer no apology. It's been a long time since I've seen a serious argument defending Christianity or theism. Have you guys seriously just given up or something?

    I mean Jesus, why insist that "my faith is increasing" but admit that "I am incapable of adequately defending my views" (Which is in fact what you're admitting, whether you want to come out and say it or not). It's tantamount to admitting that you only hold onto your beliefs for patently irrational reasons. So either stop saying have you have reasons for believing or, please, shut the hell up about it. I am frankly really disgusted by this current mentality amongst ODN's theists that they can provide no evidence of their assertions but still claim that there assertions are true. It just rings hollower and hollower the longer you do this. And if atheists ever did this, you'd accuse us of being close minded and religious.
    I agree with this sentiment. ODN Christians didn't like Trendem's "Have ODN Christians Lost The War On ODN"? They don't think that silence in threads constitute losing. To this, they say "sometimes we're not interested enough to debate in threads." Well, what about threads where they have replied and had their replies entirely demolished. What if they don't response after that? I say that they just don't have the gumption to concede, and that their silence is a tacit admission of defeat.

  13. #13
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by HermanLeadread View Post
    If the Christian God did his job, then Christians wouldn't need arguments in the first place. The only reason theists need cosmological, teleological, ontological - and comical - arguments is that their God (who allegedly wants loves us, wants us to know the truth and wants to have a personal relationship with us) hides from his creation.
    I'm not sure what you mean. How does God hide from humanity?

    And is there a reason other than mockery to describe theist arguments as 'comical?' Inflammatory or derisive remarks indicate to me a lack of interest in honest, productive discussion.

    What do you mean by this?
    I mean that if it was the case that conversion was simply a matter of being logical or reasonable enough, the Bible's account of faith and God's role in conversion would be nonsensical. Rather, it stands to the contrary.

    If by "I wrote a rather lengthy response at one point which introduced the general field of scholarship on the issue and which positions had scholarly support," you mean that you copied and pasted a Wikipedia article that supports the point in Hermanleadread's OP, then I concur.

    Yes, your own article supports my position. The point of my thread was, amongst other points, to show that the consensus of modern scholars regards the nativity accounts as inerrant. The article you posted flatly states that "most current scholars regard this as an error by the author of the Gospel of Luke." Later on, it reiterates this point: "The majority view among modern scholars is that there was only one census, in 6 CE, and the author of the Gospel of Luke deviated from history in connecting it with the birth of Jesus." I know this because I read that article long before I ever posted anything on ODN.
    I'm not sure what your point is. My post was intended to--and succeed in, according to you--describe the scholastic 'lay of the land' on the issue.

    This ridiculous statement, which you later retracted, prompted the thread. I had a strong suspicion that you did not know much - if anything - about the problem with Luke's nativity account. Yet, your ignorance on the matter didn't prevent you from making the the pronouncement above - nor did it prevent you from telling us unbelievers what we are "free to believe." Really, Clive? We're really just "free to believe" a proposition that even Raymond E. Brown (a Christian scholar) concluded is based on "information" that "is dubious on almost every score, despite the elaborate attempts by scholars to defend Lucan accuracy." That puzzled me, and I even figured that your first course of action would be to do a quick Wiki search. And wouldn't you know... you did, much to my amusement.
    I was not familiar with the specifics of the scholarship on the issue, because Lucan scholarship isn't my field. We covered the controversy in my New Testament theology class, where a few different opinions were given, and (as I stated) what position you take on the issue depends on which scholars you support.

    I am not familiar with the work of Raymond E. Brown, and I see no reason to grant his viewpoints or conclusions additional weight because of his theological affiliation.

    I honestly don't remember the fallout from the statement I gave which you quoted; it seems true to me. I think it is the case that there exists a coherent, cogent, reasonable, rational interpretation of the Bible by which the Bible is inerrant. Thus, as I see it, my burden is not to show that a majority of scholars agrees that the Bible is inerrant, but only that such a reasonable interpretation exists; its number of adherents among Biblical scholars is, at best, tangential.


    This is a discussion that is at least somewhat interesting to me, despite the fact that it is 'armchair' theology/history/anthropology, since we neither of us are experts in any of the relevant fields. And it's a discussion that I can participate in without rancor; I hope that you will demonstrate a similar capability in future posts.
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  14. #14
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean. How does God hide from humanity?
    I haven't seen God lately. Have you?

    And is there a reason other than mockery to describe theist arguments as 'comical?'
    Not to call anyone out, but have you ever read one of chrstissavior's posts?

    I mean that if it was the case that conversion was simply a matter of being logical or reasonable enough, the Bible's account of faith and God's role in conversion would be nonsensical. Rather, it stands to the contrary.
    I still don't understand what you're trying to say. Please rephrase.

    I'm not sure what your point is. My post was intended to--and succeed in, according to you--describe the scholastic 'lay of the land' on the issue.
    So, you admit that the consensus of scholars goes against your position, but you dismiss that as a tangential fact. Is that a fair representation of your position?

    I was not familiar with the specifics of the scholarship on the issue, because Lucan scholarship isn't my field. We covered the controversy in my New Testament theology class, where a few different opinions were given, and (as I stated) what position you take on the issue depends on which scholars you support.
    Same as evolution versus creation. The majority supports evolutionary theory. A minority doesn't.

    I am not familiar with the work of Raymond E. Brown, and I see no reason to grant his viewpoints or conclusions additional weight because of his theological affiliation.
    Before Inkiller disappeared (likely because he was unable to support his dishonest, unsupported claims), he dismissed the opinions of "secular" scholars. Thus, I considered it prudent to point out that scholars of all theological stripes support my position.

    I honestly don't remember the fallout from the statement I gave which you quoted; it seems true to me.
    I do. You made the statement and when I called you on it, you retracted it. Simple as that.

    I think it is the case that there exists a coherent, cogent, reasonable, rational interpretation of the Bible by which the Bible is inerrant. Thus, as I see it, my burden is not to show that a majority of scholars agrees that the Bible is inerrant, but only that such a reasonable interpretation exists; its number of adherents among Biblical scholars is, at best, tangential.
    Do you think you've shown that such a reasonable interpretation exists? Generally speaking, how would you say that one would go about showing that such a reasonable interpretation exists?

    This is a discussion that is at least somewhat interesting to me, despite the fact that it is 'armchair' theology/history/anthropology, since we neither of us are experts in any of the relevant fields. And it's a discussion that I can participate in without rancor; I hope that you will demonstrate a similar capability in future posts.
    You have a habit of making outlandish, wild and false accusations. This includes accusing me of neg repping you, just because you are a Christian. The irony is, of course, that I've pos repped you before, but the only reps I've ever gotten from you have been negs. There's no rancor from me, Clive. Just don't evade. That has been the only complaint against you.

  15. #15
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by HermanLeadread View Post
    I haven't seen God lately. Have you?
    If we're going to talk about how we know things, why are you only considering what we can see with our eyeballs?

    Not to call anyone out, but have you ever read one of chrstissavior's posts?
    If I have, would that change the nature of your remarks?

    I still don't understand what you're trying to say. Please rephrase.
    The Bible's account of conversion--how people come to faith--generally, depending on your interpretation (the Gnostics for instance would differ), holds that it is the Lord who saves people. The Spirit 'moves in their hearts' and 'The Lord drew them near,' etc. So it isn't simply a matter of being logical enough; this squares with my experience in debates and in mathematics. Simply having a logical or rational system of thought doesn't necessarily mean that it captures the truth.

    So, you admit that the consensus of scholars goes against your position, but you dismiss that as a tangential fact. Is that a fair representation of your position?
    I'm saying that if the question we're trying to get at is whether or not there exists a reasonable way to reconcile Luke's nativity account with the historical record, then how many scholars fall on which sides can be generally helpful, but it would be even better to understand the actual arguments involved.

    That is, even supposing that scholastic consensus holds that the Luke account is probably flawed, if a scholar in the minority makes a reasonable argument for the Luke account being accurate, then we should weigh that argument on its merits.

    Consensus is a good way to get a feel for the field of thought, but I hesitate to rely so utterly upon it. Whether or not my position is in the scholastic minority is not nearly so important to me as whether my position is cogent.

    Same as evolution versus creation. The majority supports evolutionary theory. A minority doesn't.
    But more importantly, the case for evolution is much better than the case against it (although I wouldn't necessarily put creation in a different box than evolution). An argument from consensus is far, far less compelling than an argument from the merits.

    Before Inkiller disappeared (likely because he was unable to support his dishonest, unsupported claims), he dismissed the opinions of "secular" scholars. Thus, I considered it prudent to point out that scholars of all theological stripes support my position.
    I honestly don't care about the various theological stripes of the scholars involved, unless there is a reasonable case for bias.

    I do. You made the statement and when I called you on it, you retracted it. Simple as that.
    Hmm. I seem to remember drawing a distinction between 2 types of sentences: those which purport to demonstrate the truth of some proposition, and those which merely transmit the content of a proposition. But I may be confusing debates.

    In any case, I still believe that a reasonable person could conclude that the Bible is inerrant, and that the role of faith is not to overcome reason.

    Do you think you've shown that such a reasonable interpretation exists? Generally speaking, how would you say that one would go about showing that such a reasonable interpretation exists?
    Of course I don't think that I've shown that such a reasonable interpretation exists. That is a huge, monumental task--showing how best to interpret the entire Bible? That goes far beyond my expertise in hermeneutics, theology, history, anthropology, and philosophy.


    How would you show that such a reasonable interpretation exists? It would involve going to the most reliable Scriptural texts we have and applying the best interpretive hermeneutic to get at the meaning of the text.

    Once you have the right Scriptural message, demonstrating that this message is non-contradictory means engaging in theology and philosophy, as well as historical anthropology; in the Luke nativity example, it would mean knowing what sorts of censuses (censes?) took place at the time, etc.

    You have a habit of making outlandish, wild and false accusations. This includes accusing me of neg repping you, just because you are a Christian. The irony is, of course, that I've pos repped you before, but the only reps I've ever gotten from you have been negs. There's no rancor from me, Clive. Just don't evade. That has been the only complaint against you.
    What complaints against me exist are irrelevant. The issue is conduct in this thread; I am not speaking of your conduct outside it. I am referring only to the statements you have made in this thread. As long as you refrain from insults, invective, and other pejorative (and therefore unproductive/useless) rhetoric, you will hear nothing more from me on the matter.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  16. #16
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    If we're going to talk about how we know things, why are you only considering what we can see with our eyeballs?
    I said that God hides.

    From dictionary.com:

    hide: to conceal from sight; prevent from being seen or discovered:
    Although, we could use the term more broadly:

    to conceal from knowledge or exposure
    In both ways, I'd say that God hides from unbelievers. Do you disagree?

    If I have, would that change the nature of your remarks?
    If you have, then you have seen what many of us regard as comical. The point is that if God did his job, then unbelievers would not have to have rely upon sophisticated or sophomoric arguments.

    The Bible's account of conversion--how people come to faith--generally, depending on your interpretation (the Gnostics for instance would differ), holds that it is the Lord who saves people. The Spirit 'moves in their hearts' and 'The Lord drew them near,' etc.
    1) You described yourself as "more thoroughly convinced that the Bible's account of faith seems more cogent." Does this mean that you are "more thoroughly convinced that the bible's account of conversion" seems more cogent? If so, why are you more thoroughly convinced? How does it seem more cogent? And if there is more than one interpretation, as you seem to admit, then do you regard those interpretations as equally cogent? Why or why not?

    2) Support your interpretation of the bible's account of conversion with scripture.

    3) What does it mean for the Lord to "save" people? What qualifies one as "saved"? Do you believe that the Lord wants all men to be saved? If so, why has the supposedly omnipotent Lord been unable to realize this desire?

    So it isn't simply a matter of being logical enough
    What isn't simply a matter of being logical enough? The belief system? The believer?

    I'm saying that if the question we're trying to get at is whether or not there exists a reasonable way to reconcile Luke's nativity account with the historical record, then how many scholars fall on which sides can be generally helpful, but it would be even better to understand the actual arguments involved.
    Agreed.

    That is, even supposing that scholastic consensus holds that the Luke account is probably flawed, if a scholar in the minority makes a reasonable argument for the Luke account being accurate, then we should weigh that argument on its merits.
    Agreed.

    Consensus is a good way to get a feel for the field of thought, but I hesitate to rely so utterly upon it. Whether or not my position is in the scholastic minority is not nearly so important to me as whether my position is cogent.
    Agreed.

    But more importantly, the case for evolution is much better than the case against it (although I wouldn't necessarily put creation in a different box than evolution). An argument from consensus is far, far less compelling than an argument from the merits.
    Agreed.

    In any case, I still believe that a reasonable person could conclude that the Bible is inerrant, and that the role of faith is not to overcome reason.
    Do you believe that it is more reasonable to conclude that there is no problem with Luke's passage? Why or why not?

    Of course I don't think that I've shown that such a reasonable interpretation exists.
    I mean: Do you think that you've shown that there is reasonable, inerrant interpretation of Luke's passage?

    That is a huge, monumental task--showing how best to interpret the entire Bible? That goes far beyond my expertise in hermeneutics, theology, history, anthropology, and philosophy.
    If you state that the bible is inerrant, and someone demands that you support that claim, would your response be that you cannot, for the reasons cited above?

    What complaints against me exist are irrelevant.
    Not really. In the past, when these complaints were made, you misinterpreted the complaints as "rancor" and other feelings. You have a history of falsely attributing "rancor" and other ideas/feelings to those who complain about your own conduct. Anyway, this point is ancillary to the rest of the discussion.
    Last edited by sonofnietzsche; August 22nd, 2010 at 09:09 AM.

  17. #17
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Since this is in Shooting the Breeze, why don't we all just try to honestly convey the content of our beliefs?
    Because it's outside the scope of the original 4 questions asked by the OP, and I have no desire to engage in the act of constructing and defending a credo right now - which is exactly what this debate has turned into, as I predicted it would.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples
    But we're outside the realm of debate, now; we aren't mounting cases. We're just being asked to give our position (although this may entail a certain amount of candor and arranging one's thoughts in a cogent, coherent fashion).
    While that's fine, I'm noticing that the tendency of the opinion polls here is to start with a relatively innocuous question about what beliefs you have or how they've changed.. and quickly explode into an all-out debate that's hardly distinguishable from something you'd expect to find in the religious forums. The only differences I've seen so far are that I haven't seen anyone use the phrase "support or retract," and I haven't seen the "challenge" flag come up. Otherwise... this thread could quite easily be ported straight over.

    I think that my reasons for not wanting to engage in yet another discussion about the global content (and validity thereof) of my beliefs at this point in my life are pretty well-known and understood, but it seems that people can't be satisfied with asking a question, getting a response, and leaving it at that. If this were truly a thread about information gathering and polling, my answer should have been sufficient. Instead, I get a pretty snarky and condescending response that pays absolutely no mind to the circumstances surrounding my posting habits and my ability and willingness to participate in certain types of discussions at any given point. Right now, I've got my hands pretty full with the debates I'm currently having. Why would I start another one like it (even if the requirements for evidence aren't quite as stringent) when I barely have the time to respond appropriately to posts in the other ones? I responded to the poll because I wanted to answer Herman's question... not because I wanted to delve into a lengthy discussion about apologetics and the fine details about what I believe and why. That wasn't part of the OP, and if it had been, I would have passed this thread by or saved it for another day when I did have the time to answer. I have more respect for my interlocutors than that.

    I'm just going to stop answering polls.

  18. #18
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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    While that's fine, I'm noticing that the tendency of the opinion polls here is to start with a relatively innocuous question about what beliefs you have or how they've changed.. and quickly explode into an all-out debate that's hardly distinguishable from something you'd expect to find in the religious forums. The only differences I've seen so far are that I haven't seen anyone use the phrase "support or retract," and I haven't seen the "challenge" flag come up. Otherwise... this thread could quite easily be ported straight over.
    While you are correct that it happened in this instance, I think that it happened mostly because I have a lot of stuff to hash out with Clive. Perhaps we should do it in another thread.

    I'm just going to stop answering polls.
    I, for one, hope you don't.

    I responded to the poll because I wanted to answer Herman's question
    And I appreciate it. Also, while you don't have the time to answer GP's question, I do think his question was a valid question. It pertained directly to your statements and their content, and I don't necessarily think that an answer to his question would've mandated an extensive exegetical or apologetic response.

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    Re: ODN: Religious Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by HermanLeadread View Post
    While you are correct that it happened in this instance, I think that it happened mostly because I have a lot of stuff to hash out with Clive. Perhaps we should do it in another thread.
    That's entirely up to the two of you, and if he consents to it without any issue, I don't see why that should be a problem. My only objection is the inevitable evolution of ostensible information-gathering efforts into all-out debates about either a) the validity of someone's beliefs, or b) the posting history and/or effective argumentation of a given poster. The last 2 polls I've answered (and possibly more - I haven't gone back and looked) have done this very thing. In this case, it's not your fault at all... it's just the way things happened. But the point remains that even on the STB forum and in polls, nobody can simply make a statement about their opinions and be allowed to bow out gracefully for any reason at all. Somebody's going to take issue with it. I don't think that's reasonable.


    Quote Originally Posted by HermanLeadred
    And I appreciate it. Also, while you don't have the time to answer GP's question, I do think his question was a valid question. It pertained directly to your statements and their content, and I don't necessarily think that an answer to his question would've mandated an extensive exegetical or apologetic response.
    Thanks for the concern and care you took to craft this response... I really do appreciate it, and I hope that I don't come off sounding like a total nincompoop with all of this. I realize that GP's response wouldn't require a lengthy exegesis or apologetic discourse, but it *would* require that I go back and 1) catch up on all the threads I've a) dropped accidentally, b) conceded but forgot to say so, or c) haven't conceded and plan to make a response to, and 2) make and defend some sort of an excuse for not participating to someone else's satisfaction in debates with people I don't know. There's even a thread I got chewed out for after I tried to bow out when the people on the thread specifically asked me to post and I did so as a courtesy with a very thorough explanation of why I wasn't able or willing to engage in the discussion any further than I had done so in my first post. I didn't post on that thread with the intention of making a convincing argument of God's existence or trying to formulate one. I made that clear at the beginning of my first post and ended up fending off several attempts to drag me into just such a discussion despite the fact that I had already declined to engage and had qualified my opinion - which had been offered only because it was specifically asked of me - with the proviso that I didn't want to discuss it in detail at that time. I don't know how I can approach such a situation with any more candor or civility, and I refuse to apologize for having too little time to respond to every post directed at me.


    While I realize that it's unsatisfying to have a discussion about something that gets dropped for whatever reason (and this happens frequently on other forums here, and not by the hands of theists... it's happened to me several times), it's unreasonable to assume that a person has the right to take someone else to task for not responding as quickly or as thoroughly - or at all! - as they'd like to a post, especially when no effort has been made to contact the interlocutor or to understand or accommodate his circumstances. I have little interest in continuing such a conversation, as I feel I owe nobody any excuses or apologies for the amount of time I spend here or anywhere else, especially when the person making the accusations has made absolutely no effort to engage beyond berating. My life is full and busy - and to be honest, pretty stressful right now. I like to come here to unwind and indulge in a little brain exercise that's not related to medicine when I'm burned out on learning drugs of choice, pathognomonic signs of various illnesses, and the like, and I enjoy the excellent discussions I have most of the time here precisely because they are of high quality. I try to make sure that the quality of what posts I have time to make is high, as a matter of respect for my interlocutors and for myself. If I can't say it well and in a coherent fashion that seems compelling to me, I would rather stay silent until I can. It's this approach that has gotten me well over 100k reputation in less than 1000 posts, in just over a year. I don't intend to change my approach anytime soon, and certainly not for someone that feels that I somehow owe them a response just because they want one.

    I don't intend to direct this rant at you, Herman... but your post was a catalyst that gave shape to my objections.
    Last edited by Talthas; August 22nd, 2010 at 10:24 PM.

 

 

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