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Theism and Atheism

Posted Jan 25, '14 at 12:47am

TheMostManlyMan

TheMostManlyMan

5,386 posts

Been trying to get a straight answer on this one for a while.
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 actually know someone who studied their way out of a denominational church and into the one that I attend.

[/rare appearance here]
 

Posted Jan 25, '14 at 1:06am

TheMostManlyMan

TheMostManlyMan

5,386 posts

Please ignore that last post. I'm not sure how I managed to completely misunderstand that question.

 

Posted Jan 25, '14 at 2:33am

MageGrayWolf

MageGrayWolf

9,787 posts

Knight

Please ignore that last post. I'm not sure how I managed to completely misunderstand that question.


No problem, least you caught it. Elsewhere where I've asked this pretty much exact same question I was accuse of engaging in an argument from ignorance. But yes someone researching the religion before joining it would be discounted.

I will share with you the most reasonable answer I've gotten so far. basically it was stated that God (from a Christian perspective) only revealed himself to a select few. 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.

Also if we are to take the Bible as 100% true and literal we run into a huge problem once we reach the tower of Babel story. This point in the Bible would have the worlds population having direct exposure to God within living memory and yet once God himself scatters all the people all over the world, they just seem to forget and come up with their own religions.

Of course not taking the story literally we can bypass that issue altogether. Also the question is open ended for any religion, not just Christianity and other Abrahamic beliefs.
 

Posted Jan 25, '14 at 6:07am

nichodemus

nichodemus

13,423 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

3,237 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

5,410 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

1,690 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

3,237 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

1,690 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.
 
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