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Theism and Atheism

Posted Jan 25, '14 at 6:07am

nichodemus

nichodemus

13,700 posts

Knight

A reasonable answer, though would one would wonder why it would be just people in around the same area who could hear the stories of this particular God.


Spot on. Would be hard to come up with a reasonable answer as to why the Almighty only revealed Himself to some rather rustic folk in the Levant, but not to the more sophisticated societies at the time. The Chinese? No. The more advanced parts of the Roman Empire? No. Greece? No. Strange for me.
 

Posted Jan 28, '14 at 12:21pm

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,391 posts

Moderator

If a religion is true, why do we not see people independently coming to the conclusions the religion espouses without first being exposed to that religion?


I'd like to take a shot at what (hopefully!) is a plausible answer. If we consider a particular faith to be an objective truth, then it should come as no surprise that a particular agent hadn't considered this point of view. It's (1) not immediately accessible like perceptual knowledge and (2) it's not something that's known a priori - that is, just by reflection alone.

Some might want to challenge (1), arguing that we see God's presence all around us - or something like that. But that's clearly not the sort of knowledge that (1) suggests. There is evidence all around us about many objective truths, but we only see it as evidence once we come to know that such-and-such is the case.

As for (2), despite many attempts of providing a purely reflective proof of God's existence, none of these arguments work. The best arguments, in fact, are ones that rely on how the world (and the universe) actually is. But more to the point, God did (according to the theist) reveal Himself. If His existence could be gleaned in a reflective manner, this gesture would then be unmotivated.

We can strengthen this point by considering our objective understanding of the universe from a purely physical point of view. We may have just a handful of people who possess the insight to understand the complex nature of reality. Others simply read their work and have that 'Aha!' moment when they come upon (what they take to be) the truth. So the fact that people don't independently reach conclusions about God doesn't take away from it being an objective matter of fact. If this were all it took, then we could reasonably question facts about biology, physics, astronomy, etc.

And this answer might also suffice for the follow-up question:

Would be hard to come up with a reasonable answer as to why the Almighty only revealed Himself to some rather rustic folk in the Levant, but not to the more sophisticated societies at the time.


This could be explained by referring again to those with particular insight about certain objective truths. Some people have it, and some don't. Perhaps God didn't want to attempt to inculcate His word in peoples who already had heavily indoctrinated beliefs. Or perhaps a select few had what John Calvin called a "sensus divinitatis" (awareness of divine presence) that others - whether through indoctrination or willful ignorance - lacked. Either way, the revelation of the Word might fit the model of how other objective and comparably complex truths are disseminated amongst a given population and the world.
 

Posted Jan 28, '14 at 2:19pm

HahiHa

HahiHa

5,799 posts

Knight

Continuing along Moegreche's line of thought, why would the church feel the need to go and bother remote native populations with missionaries in order to "bring to them the Holy Word"? That means the pope doesn't assume that we all know about god.

However this nullifies a frequently used argument coming from many christians, that we are supposed to feel His presence, since they say he's omnipresent.
Or is that argument still partly valid for people who were told about the christian faith?

 

Posted Jan 28, '14 at 4:21pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

2,145 posts

Perhaps God didn't want to attempt to inculcate His word in peoples who already had heavily indoctrinated beliefs.


It seems to me like a very poor choice. Observations made by uneducated rustic folk would be the primary source of superstitious nonsense such as luck, clairvoyance, and various legends which are easily discredited. Sophistication does not necessarily preclude faith, so what merit could there be for a factual deity to exclude these people?

Continuing along Moegreche's line of thought, why would the church feel the need to go and bother remote native populations with missionaries in order to "bring to them the Holy Word"? That means the pope doesn't assume that we all know about god.


Most of these populations would have some form of religious belief. It just wouldn't be the correct "fresh from God's brain to your mouth" belief in the eye of the papacy.
 

Posted Jan 29, '14 at 6:09am

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,391 posts

Moderator

However this nullifies a frequently used argument coming from many christians, that we are supposed to feel His presence, since they say he's omnipresent.


I was hoping to deal with objections along this line when I considered objections to (1) above, but I hadn't considered the thought that we are genuinely supposed to feel His presence. My line of argument suggests that this claim is false, however. We could run a very similar argument here to the one I presented in defence of (1). Feeling His presence (whatever that amounts to) simply might not be a sufficient cause for forming beliefs about God. Or perhaps they do try to work out these feelings, but get things wrong. I could see this latter thought used to explain religious diversity.

But we must also keep in mind that, for a religion to be true/correct, the claims on offer must involve more than the mere existence of God. Many of the issues that the major religions deal with revolve around the question of the nature of God and our relationship with Him. These are truths to which we clearly lack access. Only by reading and understanding His Word can we come to know these things. So again, we have a fairly consistent explanation for why people don't reach these truths independently. And this seems to be the crucial question.

It seems to me like a very poor choice. Observations made by uneducated rustic folk would be the primary source of superstitious nonsense such as luck, clairvoyance, and various legends which are easily discredited. Sophistication does not necessarily preclude faith, so what merit could there be for a factual deity to exclude these people?


Well put. I completely agree with you here - the choice seems... well... not typical of an omniscient being. I'm wondering if this is one of those cases where I could legitimately play the 'We don't always understand God's ways' card.

But whether or not I could play this card, that's a pretty cheap move and doesn't get us anywhere. What I'm wondering is whether your objection undermines my main argument. I was looking at nicho's question and thought that a similar line of argument could be used there. But are these arguments separate, or do they subtly swing together? I have a feeling that you objection might - at the very least - put some pressure on my main argument.
 

Posted Jan 29, '14 at 7:05pm

abt79

abt79

61 posts

Forum Posts on a Game Forum of a GAMING WEBSITE: like 5, at best.
Forum Posts for the Atheism vs. Theism Argument on a GAMING WEBSITE: like 450 pages of argumentation.
And it will ensue. Atheists will never stop trying to remove the "irrational" belief in God or a god from the world, and as it is a core doctrinal teaching of most religions, Theists will never stop shouting the good news. I just hope that neither side starts flinging insults, as it ruins the theistic image and makes people think us as stupid lemmings who will follow whatever the pope says blindly, and i personally hate when , and it does pain me,an atheist, instead of using logic to present a point, just says, and I quote, "No any idea of God is a stupid delusion began by some insane terrorist nut job who wanted to see the world burn." So although i think there is a better time and place for this, please be polite.

 

Posted Jan 29, '14 at 8:30pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

2,145 posts

So although i think there is a better time and place for this, please be polite.


Why? You certainly haven't. You've intruded upon a simple philosophical discussion and tossed in what amounts to an insult via guilt by association. Worse still, you're perpetuating a groundless and irrational stereotype which portrays the lemming as a mindless automaton, something I cannot forgive.
 

Posted Jan 30, '14 at 10:40am

mbbs112

mbbs112

196 posts

You guys are Making Christianity the representator of other religions including Islam. You guys dont believe that the Bible was a Book made by Allah because unlike the Holy Quran , All of the other Holy Books have been corrupted by Humans and that is why Muslims are instructed to take guidance only from the Quran as it hasnt been edited in any way

 

Posted Jan 30, '14 at 10:42am

mbbs112

mbbs112

196 posts

Let me ask you guys a question, Have any of you read the Holy Quran? You guys should read it in translated english since its more easier

 

Posted Jan 30, '14 at 12:20pm

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,391 posts

Moderator

Let me ask you guys a question, Have any of you read the Holy Quran? You guys should read it in translated english since its more easier


I've had the great pleasure of reading the text whilst listening to the recitation. It's simply beautiful. But your point isn't relevant here at all. I think the argument I had set up on the previous page applies just as well to Islam - at least, that was my intention.
So take a look at my previous argument in response to Mage's question. This is the issue on offer. If my response isn't applicable, then I would appreciate clarification on this point.
 
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