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Old 03-03-2008, 03:20 PM   #11
SpaceTiger
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)


> Absolutely correct, and that's why I'm agnostic.

As am I, but I have a hard time seeing people flocking to agnosticism anytime in the near future. I think most people would rather believe something they can't prove than live without an answer. I can't say I blame them.
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Old 03-03-2008, 03:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

Compared to some European governments, I think religion's influence on American politics has been rather limited. We have our founding fathers to thank for that. To see a more dramatic example of what I'm talking about (movement away from religion as a political force), just look at the history of the Catholic Church.

As for America, the current liberal swing is probably just a short-term fluctuation (reaction to neoconservatism), but it's hard to deny that the long-term trends have been toward more liberal social policies. Every time we feel the need to distinguish ourselves from a foreign enemy (nazis, communists, terrorists, etc.), there is a surge in religious sentiment, but when the dust clears, we always seem to end up less religious (or more tolerant of other religions) than before.
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:08 PM   #13
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

> We couldn't prove atheism any more than we could prove
> theism,

Atheism is a negative statement, while theism is a positive statement. Negative statements are almost always harder to prove than positive statements, with atheism probably being impossible. Finding God would prove theism, never finding God would never prove atheism, as there's always going to be more universe to search.
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

>Negative statements are almost always harder to
> prove than negative statements,

um, really?
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:19 PM   #15
SpaceTiger
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)


> Atheism is a negative statement, while theism is a positive
> statement. Negative statements are almost always harder to
> prove than negative statements, with atheism probably being
> impossible. Finding God would prove theism, never finding
> God would never prove atheism, as there's always going to be
> more universe to search.

I don't think God's existence can be proven in the traditional scientific sense. One would actually have to demonstrate to mortal beings that an entity had the characteristics we usually associate with God (omnipotence, omniscience, etc.). Given our limited capacity for everything, I don't see how this would be possible. It would be very easy to be fooled, for example, by an alien race with much more technological sophistication.

But perhaps I'm overlooking something... how would someone go about proving to you that God existed beyond any reasonable doubt?

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Old 03-04-2008, 07:17 AM   #16
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

> But perhaps I'm overlooking something... how would someone
> go about proving to you that God existed beyond any
> reasonable doubt?

That's a question I never considered before...
I don't think god himself could prove he was god. An alien race just a few thousand years more advanced than us could probably do anything we would consider a "miracle" today, but maybe that's the definition or requirement to be a "god"... <img src=smilies/mystery.gif>
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:17 AM   #17
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

Mormons ain't Christians! lulz

Nice to see you back.
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

Not all religions require an abdication of logic.

Liberal Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism etc.
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Old 03-04-2008, 11:49 PM   #19
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

Reason and logic are ambiguous words. I can "reasonably" believe something because it's convenient or it works for me even though it may not be verifiable. (E.g., believing in an afterlife or karma is harmless and it helps society by reducing crime and suffering -- so it is reasonable to believe it.) So, I'll substitute "skepticism" for "reason" here on out.

Faith is associated with emotion (it feels like it's true, and it feels good, so I believe it) and skepticism is associated with intellect (it doesn't make sense, I see no evidence, so I doubt it.)

If you take skepticism to its extremes, it leads to extremist philosophies like solipsism and nihilism. Everything can be doubted and cut away with skepticism. If you take faith to its extremes, it leads to dogma, zealotry, and cults. People can have faith in absurd or harmful things for which there is no evidence because it is convenient, traditional, or beaten into them with a stick.

Many people fall between these extremes -- because, as far as the business of life is concerned, either faith or skepticism is useless without the other. There are many philosophers who could believe in nothing and so became isolated and insane.

All religions require faith. If nothing else, they require the faith that life is worth expending any effort on. They also make other fundamental assumptions -- sometimes very subtle ones (e.g., pleasure is good, suffering is bad, happiness is the objective of life so we should strive for it, etc.)

> Not all religions require an abdication of logic.
>
> Liberal Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism etc.
>

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Old 03-05-2008, 05:06 AM   #20
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Default Re: Let there be edifying discussion! (Religion)

> In human nature, emotion holds by FAR the upper hand -- the
> group of individuals in whom reason dominates emotion have
> always been a fragile minority. These people also
> frequently lead tortured lives because they are internally
> divided -- if you're always at odds with yourself, working
> to control your emotions with your mind, you're in for a
> rough ride. You also do not have the comfort of easy
> answers.

Although the lack of comfort is troubling, were it not for the rejection of simplicity, our society wouldn't have evolved; for evolution is mostly the product of natural selection, which requires change. Anything less means death of progress.
The drive to solve life's mysteries is the responsibility of the logically predisposed, and the responsibility of the emotionally disposed is to rein in the logically predisposed, thereby assuring a balance. For if our lives are not balanced, then what are we?
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