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The Appeal Of Atheism?


Mudcat

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Hey Mike,

Though I agree with you that there is a great evidence for God in his creations. I am puzzled about how the LDS view is superior reasoning, on the bold statement, emphasis mine.

As I have looked at it, the LDS view seems to believe that evil is eternally necessary. I find that pretty hard to digest.

Another point, would be how it relates to the concept of the pre-existence. If humanity is actually those that choose God over Satan, and coming here is all part of the process.... what does this imply for those child rapists, etc. that are spiritually supposed to be God's chosen ones.?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

The way I was brought up as a Baptist, there was no "reasoning" at all! At least none that I could understand! I was tought that Jesus and His Father, God were one and the same. That if you didn't believe in Christ, and ask Him to "save" you, you would burn in hell forever! That once you were "saved" you would be guarenteed a place in heaven, no matter how awful you lived your life or whatever heinous crimes you might commit, although it was supposed that once you were saved you would be so thankful to God that you probable would not want to do bad things anymore!

I was taught that even those who never heard of the name Jesus, would still burn in hell for not calling on him for salvation, and that somehow this was right in Gods justice, and anyway who were we to question God or his seemingly arbritrary justice! Even that little girl, if she was old enough to be accountable, would be burning in hell right now and forever!

Even my good old Southern Baptist grandmother, who pretty much tought me all these things, once was telling me that she wondered why God sent the devil down here in the first place! But she then answered her own question, the same way my preacher and everyone else whom I thought might have answers did, "Well, I guess that's just something we weren't suppossed to know! You just have to believe."!

On the contrary,LDS doctrine taught that God did indeed have a reason for sending us here. We weren't "created" just to satisfy the arbritrary and capricious longings of an obviously lonely God who demands that we, whom He created must love Him or else face eternal torture!

Lds doctrine teaches that God, as our Father, sent us here to learn how to become like him. Or if we fail to achieve that exaulted status, we will know why on that judgement day!

As for the rapist and others like them, God gave them the same chance as he did all of us, to prove the kind of people that they really were! You see in the pre-exsistence we saw only God, and his glory, or the devil, who tried to persuede us that his plan was best. We all thought Gods plan was best and so we agreed to come here and try it.

We had no idea how difficult it was going to be! Nor did we know ourselves well enough to understand just how depraved we could become!

As for the statis of the aforementioned rapist Alma 14:11 answers that question somewhat;

"...behold the Lord...doth suffer that they may do this thing... according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgements which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent may stand as a witness against them, yea and cry mightily against them at the last day."

You see, God dosn't punish us for what we might do, but for what we acctually do! He also dosn't prevent us from doing evil, and then punish us as if we had done them, even though he knows what we're about to do, because he wants US to know what we've done, so that WE can truly know what we've done and know that our punishment is just!

Of course that doesn't help the little girl! And it's because of that, that I sometimes feel such despair, and I fight to keep my hope alive!

As far as the necessity of evil being hard to digest, well, what can I say? That's just the way it seem to be!

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Hi JD,

If you discount warm fuzzy feelings, it is speculation. However, since my thoughts on the matter are under girded by such warm fuzzy feelings I would say, no its a fact.

I don't follow you.

Am I? If so, I blame it all on my 'other' personality.

Well, I didn't really spell it out, but my point was to indicate that an infinite regress is no less logical than God as First Cause.

I have heard a lot about this guy, in comparisons to some things I think. I may read a book from him.

You might enjoy his writings. He has also engaged in several interesting debates. He has an argument for the historicity of the resurrection of Christ that is worth checking out as well. He debated Bart Ehrman on this, and I thought Ehrman did a very poor job. Anyway, he has a lot of articles online. You might want to start here:

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/

I think it is apparently possible for God to transverse an infinite and I don't think my argument falls flat because of that.

The premise, being that God is not subject to the laws that govern the universe. He is the creator of that law. In short, the properties of God do not have to be consistent with the properties of Universe.

This is a good point.

Emphasis mine. I would say that I don't adhere to Calvinism. However, the concepts of Molinism are attractive to me. Simply put. God having infinite knowledge could foresee all possibilities of all options for creation. In short, he knows what a universe with me not being born at all, with me being born in the Amazon jungle, etc.... would look like. His option was to create the most perfect situation, in which the most were saved, Scripture was best preserved, etc.. This concept allows for free will to remain intact and at least for me, gives resolution to the problem of Evil.

I see several problems with this view. First, I don't see how we can convincingly argue that the universe that actually exists is the most perfect. We can conceive of a more perfect world - that's what heaven itself is all about - so why does the one we actually live in exist instead of a sort of heaven on earth?

A more fundamental objection is to ask why God is limited as to the maximal perfection of the instantiated universe. The standard answer would be to preserve free will, but it is not at all clear to me that free will necessitates evil. You have indicated in another post that the LDS view feels troublesome to you because evil is a necessary part of the universe, yet the Molinist view seems to say essentially the same thing. In general, I just don't see how the silver bullet of free will absolves God of His responsibility for the existence of evil, given classical assumptions regarding His nature. The great advantage of the LDS view is that we LDS view ourselves (at least our essence) as uncreated. If we choose to do evil, it is not because of an evil disposition that God created within us, and is ultimately responsible for.

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You know, come to think of it, the information from Craig on the argument for the historicity of the resurrection of Christ might be good information to pass to your friend that you mention in the OP. He approaches the question from the POV of what conclusions can we draw based on the available evidence.

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Hi Mike,

The way I was brought up as a Baptist, there was no "reasoning" at all! At least none that I could understand!
It sounds like you were raised in a doctrinally 'poor' environment. Hopefully, you may have discovered that the perspective as you have described are not completely accurate.
I was tought that Jesus and His Father, God were one and the same.
They are one, but not the same. One God, Three Personalities.
That if you didn't believe in Christ, and ask Him to "save" you, you would burn in hell forever!
True. I didn't realize LDS believed there was any other way to come to the Father but by Jesus. I may be misunderstanding you, but if not, could you explain how you can enter heaven without Christ?

edit add (also note, many Baptist believe "Fire" is allegorical...however all Baptist would agree that hell is a placed removed from the presence of God)

That once you were "saved" you would be guarenteed a place in heaven, no matter how awful you lived your life or whatever heinous crimes you might commit, although it was supposed that once you were saved you would be so thankful to God that you probable would not want to do bad things anymore!
I don't know if any Baptist that would agree with this statement. I would think most Baptist would say if someone made a profession of faith.......then went about raping, murdering, etc....his profession would be most likely disingenuous. 'by their fruits, ye shall know them"
I was taught that even those who never heard of the name Jesus, would still burn in hell for not calling on him for salvation, and that somehow this was right in Gods justice, and anyway who were we to question God or his seemingly arbritrary justice! Even that little girl, if she was old enough to be accountable, would be burning in hell right now and forever!
There are many Baptists who would agree with this statement. I am just no one of them.
Even my good old Southern Baptist grandmother, who pretty much tought me all these things, once was telling me that she wondered why God sent the devil down here in the first place! But she then answered her own question, the same way my preacher and everyone else whom I thought might have answers did, "Well, I guess that's just something we weren't suppossed to know! You just have to believe."!
Satan was a product of his own choices, just as mankind is.
As for the rapist and others like them, God gave them the same chance as he did all of us, to prove the kind of people that they really were! You see in the pre-exsistence we saw only God, and his glory, or the devil, who tried to persuede us that his plan was best. We all thought Gods plan was best and so we agreed to come here and try it.We had no idea how difficult it was going to be! Nor did we know ourselves well enough to understand just how depraved we could become!As for the statis of the aforementioned rapist Alma 14:11 answers that question somewhat;"...behold the Lord...doth suffer that they may do this thing... according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgements which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent may stand as a witness against them, yea and cry mightily against them at the last day."
Well, that was nicely said.
You see, God dosn't punish us for what we might do, but for what we acctually do! He also dosn't prevent us from doing evil, and then punish us as if we had done them, even though he knows what we're about to do, because he wants US to know what we've done, so that WE can truly know what we've done and know that our punishment is just!
Mike, my problem is the LDS actually believe that God needs evil and not only does he need it, the people that become his exalted progeny will need it too, then at some point their exalted progeny will need it to and so on into the infinite. I feel much more comfortable with belief set forth in the Bible, that one day evil will be gone forever.
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I don't follow you.

I was implying the most compelling evidence for God is through my first spiritual revelation from God. Though it is factual, IMO. No one else could do anything but treat such information subjectively. IOW, he has revealed himself to me, therefore I believe in him.

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/

Thanks for the link, JD.

I see several problems with this view. First, I don't see how we can convincingly argue that the universe that actually exists is the most perfect. We can conceive of a more perfect world - that's what heaven itself is all about - so why does the one we actually live in exist instead of a sort of heaven on earth?

Do we as imperfect individuals, have any credibility in the arena of making perfect conceptions? However, I agree that this perfect heaven is what it is all about. Its a poor analogy, but a half built house is not that pretty to look at and at present God has not reached the completion of his goal.

A more fundamental objection is to ask why God is limited as to the maximal perfection of the instantiated universe. The standard answer would be to preserve free will, but it is not at all clear to me that free will necessitates evil. You have indicated in another post that the LDS view feels troublesome to you because evil is a necessary part of the universe, yet the Molinist view seems to say essentially the same thing. In general, I just don't see how the silver bullet of free will absolves God of His responsibility for the existence of evil, given classical assumptions regarding His nature. The great advantage of the LDS view is that we LDS view ourselves (at least our essence) as uncreated. If we choose to do evil, it is not because of an evil disposition that God created within us, and is ultimately responsible for.

In either setting, both of us would seem to have to deal with the concept that God is at least indirectly responsible for evil. If he is not evil himself, he is at least responsible for the creation of those that chose it.

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Mudcat

I'm sorry I thought you knew about the LDS concept of salvation for the dead! I should have said that you had to believe in Jesus IN THIS LIFE or you would go to hell! We believe that for those who didn't get the chance , in this life to truely know Jesus, not just of him, they would be taught in the spirit world what they needed to know and given the oprotunity(sic) to call on him there. Then they will be judged on what they did with what they knew in life, not what they didn't know. But of course forgiveness and eternal life can only come through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

I would agree that the devil and his menions will be cast out forever, and while we all consider him the imbodyment of evil, even as you said 'Satan was the product of his own choices'. Even in the presence of God, as a high archangel, living in Gods perfect heaven, he made that choice! Even in heaven, he had his free agency! Do you think that our God given free agency will be taken from us when we get there? Where there is agency, there is choice, and even though it's true that no unclean thing can enter into Gods kingdom, we, as well as our progny will always still be given those kind of choices. Will we do things his way, and move on in His glory, or will we chose something else and be cast out? why would God give us tyhe freedom to choose in this world when it's so easy to make the wrong choice and then take away that freedom in heaven?

Mike

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I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

Well, from my perspective alone...some people are incapable of believing in things they cannot see. They must have proof. And for them they have proof in that they do not see.

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Mudcat

I'm sorry I thought you knew about the LDS concept of salvation for the dead! I should have said that you had to believe in Jesus IN THIS LIFE or you would go to hell!

Yes, I am familiar with concept, from my understanding acceptance of Christ is part of salvation, even for the mortally dead as LDS view it. My apologies. I propose a Cease Snarky. What say you?

We believe that for those who didn't get the chance , in this life to truely know Jesus, not just of him, they would be taught in the spirit world what they needed to know and given the oprotunity(sic) to call on him there. Then they will be judged on what they did with what they knew in life, not what they didn't know. But of course forgiveness and eternal life can only come through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few Baptist I know personally who don't necessarily place those who are not called unto repentance by the Gospel of Christ in the doomed and damned section. However, no doubt we certainly do recognize those that are called and reject Christ remain in the "lost" pile.

I would agree that the devil and his menions will be cast out forever, and while we all consider him the imbodyment of evil, even as you said 'Satan was the product of his own choices'. Even in the presence of God, as a high archangel, living in Gods perfect heaven, he made that choice! Even in heaven, he had his free agency! Do you think that our God given free agency will be taken from us when we get there? Where there is agency, there is choice, and even though it's true that no unclean thing can enter into Gods kingdom, we, as well as our progny will always still be given those kind of choices. Will we do things his way, and move on in His glory, or will we chose something else and be cast out? why would God give us tyhe freedom to choose in this world when it's so easy to make the wrong choice and then take away that freedom in heaven?

Mike

I do look at the afterlife a little differently. I believe we are perfected by God. I do not think that 'free will' is dispensed with. However, I do believe we are brought into a perfect understanding and with that knowledge comes the removal of any proclivity to sin.

Mudcat

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Well, from my perspective alone...some people are incapable of believing in things they cannot see. They must have proof. And for them they have proof in that they do not see.

That is a great thought.

I think its quite possible that there are those that just don't seem to be able to tune in to "The God Channel".

Though I can't understand why, it is an observable phenomena for certain.

However, my friend I spoke of in the OP is removing himself from a position of belief, to a position of unbelief. I don't think it is that the concept was incapable for him to understand. Rather, he has talked himself out of the idea God is real.

Any thoughts?

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I was implying the most compelling evidence for God is through my first spiritual revelation from God. Though it is factual, IMO. No one else could do anything but treat such information subjectively. IOW, he has revealed himself to me, therefore I believe in him.

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/

Thanks for the link, JD.

Do we as imperfect individuals, have any credibility in the arena of making perfect conceptions? However, I agree that this perfect heaven is what it is all about. Its a poor analogy, but a half built house is not that pretty to look at and at present God has not reached the completion of his goal.

In either setting, both of us would seem to have to deal with the concept that God is at least indirectly responsible for evil. If he is not evil himself, he is at least responsible for the creation of those that chose it.

God would only be responsible for our evil if he had created us ex nilhlo or out of nothing, with full knowledge and aforethought, as it seems a lot of Christians think. We believe that we have always exsisted as separate intelligentces.

Our "creation" from God was to enable us to fulfill our full potential and become like Him if we could. Knowing our weakness He provided a way through the atonement of Christ, for us to overcome those weakness'. Yes He also knew of our potential to do evil, and I suposse He even knew which ones of was would fail completly. But, in His ultimate fairness, He had to give each and every one of us who served Him ih heaven the chance to acchieve whatever level we were acctually capable of!Then as I've said before, WE would Know that His judgements are just!

Does that makes him responsible for the evil that we do?

How much more responsible is it for God who knows all things from the beginning to the end to have created Saten in the first place if He knew all along the total depravity that he was going to cause? If, as many would have it, all things were created from nothing but Gods mind, then what kind of god is it that we worship, that creates, not to destroy, but to torture forever the majority of his creations for succuming to forces they have no power over?

As I've said before, I believe that the LDS view is far more reasonable then the typical Christian view!

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I was implying the most compelling evidence for God is through my first spiritual revelation from God. Though it is factual, IMO. No one else could do anything but treat such information subjectively. IOW, he has revealed himself to me, therefore I believe in him.

OK.

Do we as imperfect individuals, have any credibility in the arena of making perfect conceptions? However, I agree that this perfect heaven is what it is all about. Its a poor analogy, but a half built house is not that pretty to look at and at present God has not reached the completion of his goal.

But why does God, a timeless, omnipotent being, need to even go through a "half built" stage? Why couldn't God have simply created us in heaven to start with? (Or at least those who would eventually end up there.)

In either setting, both of us would seem to have to deal with the concept that God is at least indirectly responsible for evil. If he is not evil himself, he is at least responsible for the creation of those that chose it.

There is a huge difference. In the LDS view, God has external constraints. In your view, He does not. The soul-building theology with external constraints on God is much easier to justify with regards to divine accountability for evil than the theology of God with no external constraints.

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The warm fuzzy ontological argument:

If God exists he will surely eventually make everything alright for me if I do XYZ. Therefore God exists.

AKA, "The Pie in the Sky Ontological argument".

The cold and prickly ontological argument:

If it cant be observed empirically, it doesn't exist. Therefore, God doesn't exit.

AKA, "The Head in the Sand Ontological argument".

Gee...aren't oversimplified caricatures fun, if not adding the least bit to the discussion!?!

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I think its quite possible that there are those that just don't seem to be able to tune in to "The God Channel".

Though I can't understand why, it is an observable phenomena for certain.

However, my friend I spoke of in the OP is removing himself from a position of belief, to a position of unbelief. I don't think it is that the concept was incapable for him to understand. Rather, he has talked himself out of the idea God is real.

Any thoughts?

Well again, these are only my thoughts. Let me start with something I posted on another website:

â??And when I had said this, the Lord spoke to me saying, â??Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; and if men come to me, I will show them their weakness.

I give to men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong to themâ?¦â? Ether 5:27-28 rlds

For me, this is one of the real gems found in the Book of Mormon to consider. All of us are given weaknesses that we may be humble. A great example of this is found in (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10) where the Lord is telling Paul of his weakness. We are told, â??To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.

So was his weakness conceit or the thorn given to him to keep him from being conceited? This is very important to consider! We think being conceited is a weakness (which it is), but this was making him a potential enemy of God. So this was not the weakness given by God, the real weakness was to keep him from becoming conceited, or rather becoming an enemy of God.

We actually do not know the exact weakness Paul received, only that it was a thorn in his flesh, a messenger from Satan. But whatever it was Paul went on to say, â??I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So this is a second witness of the verse from Ether. But then here is where the Lord becomes our champion when he says, â??My grace is sufficient for the meek and they shall take no advantage of your weaknessâ?. It is said that â??graceâ? is something which we do not deserve; â??justiceâ? is something we deserve; yet â??mercyâ? is offered in place of that which we deserve. So through grace we are made strong simply because Christ in us is strong.

This leads to another aspect of this reality. All of us have strengths which we can freely exercise. Yet it is through our weakness that the Lord wants us to â??watch himâ? move through us. So what does it mean that through our weakness we will be made strong? Is this like Moses who was slow of speech? David who was but a child? Or any other scriptural character who did remarkable things when all along it was Jesus working through their weakness?

Now let me apply this to our discussion:

Many times it is most difficult to have faith when all we appear to see is weakness. It makes no sense in our humaness to "delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties...yet this is what people of faith are called to do. So instead we look to our preceived strengths and those things we "think" that we can control or feel dominion over.

So in the end, we develop faith in ourselves alone, not being able able to see how grace is sufficient for us to overcome and develop faith in even greater things. I guess we can say some lack faith in Gods grace, not being humble enough (or patient enough) to experience it. So they cannot even exercise faith in the small things leading to knowledge of these things, and then allowing them to develop faith in the greater things!

I don't know if this makes sense (but it seemed to make sense to me!) :P

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The cold and prickly ontological argument:

If it cant be observed empirically, it doesn't exist. Therefore, God doesn't exit.

AKA, "The Head in the Sand Ontological argument".

Gee...aren't oversimplified caricatures fun, if not adding the least bit to the discussion!?!

Ya, well, except that your head in the sand version hardly works since the idiom "head in the sand" refers to ignoring evidence while that is sort of the opposite of what agnostics and atheists are doing regarding God's existence.

Most of your "arguments" for the existence of God can be used with equal effectiveness to prove Hinduism or pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Basically, your calling me heartless for not accepting your reasons but maybe I am heartless for not believing in all sorts of feel good stuff (seen Peter Pan lately?--you're heartless if you don't think children can fly)

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In matters of faith (not to beconfused with matters of fact), I think it reasonable to use "benefit" and "value" as additional indicators of probable truth. You, on the other hand are welcome to rely solely on your benefit/value-free conjectures. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Let's try this out.

1-Mr. X believes that if he runs a red light, his car will immediately explode. Maybe he thinks the government planted a chip in his car that senses red lights that is programmed to detonate a small explosive device in the fuel tank. As a consequence of this belief, Mr. X is extremely careful about running red lights. He becomes a better driver, avoids accidents he otherwise would have been involved in, and lives a longer life. Do these benefits provide evidence of his belief?

2-Mr Y believes that if eats a banana for breakfast, he'll be protected from any unfortunate events for the rest of the day. Knowing that he is immune from misfortune, Mr. Y is more relaxed and self-confident. His confidence translates to success in business and personal relationships, which in turn result in greater overall happiness and satisfaction with life. The benefits of his banana-belief are undeniable. But are they evidence that eating a banana in the morning will shield you from bad luck?

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Ya, well, except that your head in the sand version hardly works since the idiom "head in the sand" refers to ignoring evidence while that is sort of the opposite of what agnostics and atheists are doing regarding God's existence.

The idiom works as well from the point of view of we believers as your "pie in the sky" idiom works from the point of view of you disbeliever. From our perspective, you are ignoring considerable evidence for the existence of God--quite the opposite from your self-perception.

Most of your "arguments" for the existence of God can be used with equal effectiveness to prove Hinduism or pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Basically, your calling me heartless for not accepting your reasons but maybe I am heartless for not believing in all sorts of feel good stuff (seen Peter Pan lately?--you're heartless if you don't think children can fly)

I am not so much calling you "heartless" as I am taking your word for it. You have been the one intimating that the "heart" doesn't matter when attempting to descern and better understand reality. To you, it is exclusively about the mind. That is, by definition, heartless. Sorry! ;)

However, were you to have used your mind correctly, you might not have fallaceously insinuated that heart will invariably conclude that children can fly. But, given your apparent lack of familiarity with the heart, perhaps we can charitably chalk up your erroneous assumtion to ignorance. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Let's try this out.

1-Mr. X believes that if he runs a red light, his car will immediately explode. Maybe he thinks the government planted a chip in his car that senses red lights that is programmed to detonate a small explosive device in the fuel tank. As a consequence of this belief, Mr. X is extremely careful about running red lights. He becomes a better driver, avoids accidents he otherwise would have been involved in, and lives a longer life. Do these benefits provide evidence of his belief?

Not directly, no.

2-Mr Y believes that if eats a banana for breakfast, he'll be protected from any unfortunate events for the rest of the day. Knowing that he is immune from misfortune, Mr. Y is more relaxed and self-confident. His confidence translates to success in business and personal relationships, which in turn result in greater overall happiness and satisfaction with life. The benefits of his banana-belief are undeniable. But are they evidence that eating a banana in the morning will shield you from bad luck?

Not directly, no.

Can we then rationally conclude from these selectively crafted hypotheticals that benefits cannot ever evince the verity of any beliefs?

Well, let's see.

Suppose Mr. Z has periodically been getting cramps in his leg when frequently running long distances. Let's say that he believes in his doctor (i.e. he believes that his doctor knows what he is talking about), and his doctor believes that eating bananas for breakfast will help lessen the chances for getting cramps. So, Mr. Z takes his doctors advise and begins eating bananas for breakfast each day. After awhile, Mr. Z no longer gets cramps in his legs when running.

Is the benefit of no longer getting cramps evidence in support of: 1) the doctors belief about eating bananas for breakfast; and 2) Mr. Z's belief in his doctor?

I believe that it is reasonable to answer "yes" to both--which means that one cannot rationally conclude from your selectively crafted hypotheticals that benefits cannot ever evince the verity of any beliefs.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Suppose Mr. Z has periodically been getting cramps in his leg when frequently running long distances. Let's say that he believes in his doctor (i.e. he believes that his doctor knows what he is talking about), and his doctor believes that eating bananas for breakfast will help lessen the chances for getting cramps. So, Mr. Z takes his doctors advise and begins eating bananas for breakfast each day. After awhile, Mr. Z no longer gets cramps in his legs when running.

Is the benefit of no longer getting cramps evidence in support of: 1) the doctors belief about eating bananas for breakfast; and 2) Mr. Z's belief in his doctor?

I believe that it is reasonable to answer "yes" to both--which means that one cannot rationally conclude from your selectively crafted hypotheticals that benefits cannot ever evince the verity of any beliefs.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

It comes down to a question of cause and effect. Sometimes an effect can easily be traced to a cause. If I smash a light-bulb with a hammer, the effect (a smashed light-bulb) can easily and justifiably be traced to the cause (the hammer). The more direct the correlation, the more justifiable the connection between a given cause and effect.

With respect to your example of the runner and his bananas: no, one cannot rationally conclude that in this circumstance correlation is in fact causation. The runner's muscle tone may have improved over time, reducing cramps. Perhaps he stopped drinking milk during this same time, or the temperature cooled due to changing seasons, or he jogged slower, or there was some kind of placebo effect. The cause is so far removed from the effect, and with so many simultaneous variables, that it would be unjustifiable to assign causality.

When it comes to something like religion, the conclusions one attempts to draw are so far removed from the supposed benefits that a connection can never reasonably be drawn. If you pray to God that your wife gets pregnant, and she gets pregnant, the alleged cause--that there is superhuman primate that lives in the clouds and grants wishes--is so far removed from the effect, that any attempt to prove the existence of the cause by virtue of the effect is irrational and unjustifiable.

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The warm fuzzy ontological argument:

AKA, "The Pie in the Sky Ontological argument".

Whats wrong Tarski.....you don't like Pie.

I say pie is MMM Deeeliiiicious!

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Many times it is most difficult to have faith when all we appear to see is weakness. It makes no sense in our humaness to "delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties...yet this is what people of faith are called to do. So instead we look to our preceived strengths and those things we "think" that we can control or feel dominion over.

So in the end, we develop faith in ourselves alone, not being able able to see how grace is sufficient for us to overcome and develop faith in even greater things. I guess we can say some lack faith in Gods grace, not being humble enough (or patient enough) to experience it. So they cannot even exercise faith in the small things leading to knowledge of these things, and then allowing them to develop faith in the greater things!

I don't know if this makes sense (but it seemed to make sense to me!) :P

T-fire,

That was great and it made sense. I completely agree.

I think this post is what I needed to see.

Hats off,

Mudcat

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If atheism is true, this guy wins.

Since all paths have the same end, according to atheists, you might as well live it up.

But isn't it strange that most atheists don't "live it up" despite no belief in an afterlife. Isn't also strange that theists still kill and torture others despite their belief in a God that punishes and an afterlife to follow this one?

Too bad believing in God doesn't stop people from killing one another.

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But isn't it strange that most atheists don't "live it up" despite no belief in an afterlife.

CFR - "most".

Isn't also strange that theists still kill and torture others despite their belief in a God that punishes and an afterlife to follow this one?

Not in context.

Too bad believing in God doesn't stop people from killing one another.

CFR - belief in God stops no-one from killing others.

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But isn't it strange that most atheists don't "live it up" despite no belief in an afterlife. Isn't also strange that theists still kill and torture others despite their belief in a God that punishes and an afterlife to follow this one?

Too bad believing in God doesn't stop people from killing one another.

I think that it is too bad that more of those who profess to believe in God do not practice that which they preach more closely.

As for atheists, I cannot tell what the appeal is, if really there is any.

There are times it would have been more convenient for me if there were no God (and I certainly wished it were so), then I would not have had to repent. :P

That being said, I think that atheists who perform good works and theists who perform good works do so for the same reason, because they want to. Because it is their nature.

The same goes for those in both camps who perform works that are less wholesome. Because they want to. Because it is their nature.

There may be exceptions, but I believe that to be generally true.

Glenn

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