A god so irrational, it has to be true?

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A god so irrational, it has to be true?

Postby bugsoup » Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:38 am

I recently encountered this lovely bit from another forum

Mark Carlton wrote:Christians believe that the God who exists is unique -- a being like no other in our experience -- a tri-personal being. This is one of the reasons I believe the Christian God is the true God. Men make up gods they can understand and explain because they are really just projections of themselves. In contrast Christians posit a God whose very essence is outside of our experience and impossible ultimately to explain.

There are, however, other trinities, though they are non- personal, that help us in some measure to comprehend the trinity. The universe, for example, is a trinity. It consists of three things: time, space and matter. They share a unity in that they together for the thing we call the universe. And yet each is distinct. Each of the three has its own properties and can be discussed separately, so in a very real way they are distinct, and yet all three together for form the one thing we call the universe.

The three things that make up the universe are also trinities. Time, for example, includes past, present and future. Like time, space and matter they are a unity we call, time. And yet the past is different than the present and the present for the future, and yet together they share and essence we call time.

Now I know someone more conversant in the details of science might want to challenge my illustrations, but remember, they are just illustrations and as such I'm sure they break down. So if you end up quibbling with them and showing they are not really good illustrations, that's fine with me, because in the final analysis, Christianity posits a God it cannot explain, a God outside of our understanding and experience. And once again I would ask, what man made theological system would do such a thing?


Pick away!
Last edited by bugsoup on Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Brandon » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:09 am

With limited knowledge of other religions, as my college's "Religious Studies" minor I obtained would be better known as a "Abrahamic Religious Studies" minor, the first thing that comes to my mind is, what about Judaism or Islam? It can be argued that they essentially share the same God. So which one is right? All three are supposedly beyond our comprehension, aside from the whole Trinity concept. Not to mention that not all Christians accept the concept of the Trinity.

What about Zoroastrianism, which shares a similar God, Ahura Mazda?

And for a God who is so impossible to explain, Christians sure have done a good job doing just that. They've gone the extra step to actually make their God a human being, which goes further than simply anthropomorphizing him.

This guy also ruins his own argument by starting off suggesting that the concept of a Trinity is like nothing we've ever experienced, but then goes on to give examples of so-called trinities which we have experienced, such as our universe and time. Not sure I really agree with that either, but we'll give him that.

As for the final argument...

What man would do such a thing? A man who wanted power and wanted it impossible for anyone to challenge his authority on the matter.

Ultimately his entire argument comes down to "You can't disprove it, so it must be true."
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:49 pm

Christianity posits a God it cannot explain, a God outside of our understanding and experience. And once again I would ask, what man made theological system would do such a thing?


Is he proposing that trinity is so unique a concept it had to be divinely inspired?

The concept of trinity didn't originate with Christianity. It was a pagan, Hindu, Egyptian and Greek concept long before. The theme of trinity, albeit non deity related, was a Platonic theme as well. The early Xtians were aware of this.

Combine that with the fact that Christian scripture (the “Word of Godâ€
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Postby Sans_Deity » Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:20 pm

Out of all of the sermons I've heard in my life, only one of them is clearly memorable - which should demonstrate how powerful the points seem to a mind that doesn't critically examine claims. In a nutshell...

Each of your fingers has 3 segments. There are 3 joints per finger. Each arm has 3 parts (hand, forearm, upper arm) as does each leg (foot, lower leg, upper leg). Your body is divided into 3 major sections (legs, torso, head)...the list goes on and on (he had tons of examples, increasingly more suspect as to whether or not there was a clear '3') and it's supposed to be a demonstration that, as the Schoolhouse Rock song said, "Three, is a magic number" and that god has designed us to reflect the perfection of the trinity.

I'm really not surprised that this sort of thing has an impact on people. We look for patterns, we try to find the "meaning" of everything and if you already believe or want to believe in a god - and aren't able to critically examine the claims - the numbers seem magical, they seem to defy chance and speak to intent.

-Matt
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Postby donnyton » Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:23 am

Well, the guy does have smidget of a point.

During a debate between Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins featured in TIME, Dawkins made an interesting statement along the lines of

If there does exist a theistic God in the way the Christians define him, he would be so overwhelming, so encompassing, so outside of everything and yet inside everything that we wouldn't even recognize him. All the mainstream gods are petty, jealous, elitist, and bratty.

So when the guy says that he rejects other religions that have very anthropomorphic gods, he's right: these gods are nothing but really pagan myths evolved a level. But I'd say that the Christian god seems to me as nothing more than another evolution of the same primitive reliigon.
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Postby Some Dude » Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:25 am

Having had a lot of recent experience with this individual, and a couple others like him on the site mentioned, what strikes me most is the way that mindset uses analogy. Behold, I illustrate this concept with such brush strokes that demonstrate an amazing and objective quality. Ahh but no, you can't use my brush, or canvass, to illustrate something else, nor even a contradiction in my idea.

It's emotional thinking through and through relying on the feel good factor to try and strike a resonate chord within where the veracity of an idea takes second place to getting high on it. Clichés (or analogies) are all well and good but for Newton's third law of clichés. For each and every cliché, there is an equal and opposite cliché (awaits for the cliché that shows that is false :lol:). For every illustration that you can make, another equally valid one can be made to illustrate the opposite.

But maybe I am being to hard on him. For a guy who 6 months ago used to try and label me as dishonest and evasive because I thought "I don't know" was the smartest phrase someone could utter when they didn't know something, he has come a long way if he is now acknowledging his own God as being out of his understanding and experience.
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Postby bugsoup » Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:10 am

Some Dude wrote:Having had a lot of recent experience with this individual, and a couple others like him on the site mentioned, what strikes me most is the way that mindset uses analogy. Behold, I illustrate this concept with such brush strokes that demonstrate an amazing and objective quality. Ahh but no, you can't use my brush, or canvass, to illustrate something else, nor even a contradiction in my idea.
It is sooooo aggrivating that he continues to say things like "I don't want to hear when my illustrations fall apart. They are merely illustrations. The idea that you can't completely dispute every little detail gives some indication that my ideas are at least defensible." He just doesn't understand that an anology is pointless and ineffective if it falls apart. Or perhaps he does understand but chooses to dismiss that possibility because he's spent "37 years studying this stuff". Sometimes I feel like not even responding, just listing off his logical fallacies and moving on.

I think he actually did recognize that gomtuu77's "speed of light as a fixed refence point" didn't work, but knew that attack the analogy he made would actually weaken the argument that supports his position. What I'm really anxious to see is some sort of discussion between Mark and other theists there about their differing theologies. As I've said over there though, I'm not holding my breath.

As a side note, I'm thinking about starting a thread there to discuss Mark and Elman's completely contradictory views on the nature of god. Despite my heated arguments here with Elman, I respect his beliefs far more after talking to Mark. Having said that, Mark's view that god isn't omnibenevolent is more likely (because it would be more consistent with the way the world works) and Elman's view (which seem unlikely to me, still, but far preferable as worthy of worship) are complete opposites. What do you think of this? Is it worth it at this point to see what Mark would say to one of his own? I've noticed so far, that Mark is reluctant to declare, one way or another, who are the true Christians even though we all know what he really thinks.

Some Dude wrote:It's emotional thinking through and through relying on the feel good factor to try and strike a resonate chord within where the veracity of an idea takes second place to getting high on it.
His years studying theology have clearly been spent propping up his belief.

Some Dude wrote:But maybe I am being to hard on him.
I suspect there are many thing you'd like t say to him but don't out of respect for spblat's intentions for the site. I don't fault spblat at all for that. I think without the experiment that is DH, Mark would never hear the atheist perspective and continue to delude himself with strawmen.

Some Dude wrote:For a guy who 6 months ago used to try and label me as dishonest and evasive because I thought "I don't know" was the smartest phrase someone could utter when they didn't know something, he has come a long way if he is now acknowledging his own God as being out of his understanding and experience.
I honestly think that Mark isn't truly acknowledging that. It is currently convenient for him to spout the "mystery of god" defense, but when it comes down to issues, he will always fall back on "well, morality has to come from some higher thing, and I know what god wants cause it's in this book".
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Postby Some Dude » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:20 am

bugsoup wrote:What I'm really anxious to see is some sort of discussion between Mark and other theists there about their differing theologies. As I've said over there though, I'm not holding my breath.

As a side note, I'm thinking about starting a thread there to discuss Mark and Elman's completely contradictory views on the nature of god. Despite my heated arguments here with Elman, I respect his beliefs far more after talking to Mark. Having said that, Mark's view that god isn't omnibenevolent is more likely (because it would be more consistent with the way the world works) and Elman's view (which seem unlikely to me, still, but far preferable as worthy of worship) are complete opposites. What do you think of this? Is it worth it at this point to see what Mark would say to one of his own? I've noticed so far, that Mark is reluctant to declare, one way or another, who are the true Christians even though we all know what he really thinks.


What do you think will be (possibly) achieved by getting Mark to discuss Theism with other Christians? I suspect it will go down the same line that it currently does with gomtuu77.

And yes, I bite my tongue far more than I want to. I find myself referring to Differ Honestly as Differ Daintily now days so that I don't offend the poor victimised Christians by referring to belief in a God as analogous to belief in faeries. How could you bugsoup! Always fun wondering what they will be offended at next while they are calling you a liar.
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Postby bugsoup » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:01 pm

Some Dude wrote:What do you think will be (possibly) achieved by getting Mark to discuss Theism with other Christians? I suspect it will go down the same line that it currently does with gomtuu77.
Well, I'm not sure if it will accomplish anything. My hope would be that he might understand that it isn't just us atheists who find his beliefs irrational and perhaps he will actually have to supply justifications for them since he can't simply cry persecussion from the godless mob. When comparing his (obvious to us) irrational beliefs to other Christians' (obvious to him) irrational beliefs, he can't simply say that they are rationalizing.

Some Dude wrote:And yes, I bite my tongue far more than I want to. I find myself referring to Differ Honestly as Differ Daintily now days so that I don't offend the poor victimised Christians by referring to belief in a God as analogous to belief in faeries. How could you bugsoup! Always fun wondering what they will be offended at next while they are calling you a liar.
I sincerely didn't think that the analogy was going to get that kind of reaction, although did successfully derail the conversation away from actual issues to his claims of taking offense. He refused to address why he doesn't believe in the "childish and foolish" (as he put it, not me) beliefs. I really don't think he is offended by my fairies analogy.

I really don't know any other way to get them to see how we view their beliefs. It's very telling that he keeps saying he wants to focus on the issues and stop obsessing over methods or the approach taken when arguing, but when he doesn't want to reveal that he knows of the holes in his beliefs and consider that he is wrong it is suddenly alright for him to ignore issues and only focus on methods. And the inevitable claim of unfair standard of enforcing rule follows soon after.

If he would stop obsessing over the need for an authority figure to protect him, and if he actually shared the logical arguments with his audience (the ones that seem so obvious to him), then he would find out just how well his beliefs stand up to scrutiny. Or maybe, in his 37 years of studying, he's already learned that his beliefs are unsupported and his assuptions of atheists are not applicable in the real world.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:20 pm

Bug said:
I respect his beliefs far more after talking to Mark.


I see you two are engaged in a convo, and I don't mean to interrupt. Just one question on the above phrase.

What exactly entitles theist's "beliefs" to respect?
-Is it based on which flavor of unsupportable culturally induced sky daddy they worship; what supernatural or inventive "illogic" they use to support that belief; what dogma they pick and choose from the menu of belief?
-Is it whether or not they are a threat to Free Thinkers, or our freedoms, the education ofthe young, advancement of science, or civilization as a whole?
-Should we respect a belief just because it is benign, less confrontational, doesnt require witch burning, hatred of gays, or killing of apostates?
- Is their belief due the same, less, or more respect as people who believe in unicorns and fairys; the miracle of images of holy figures on their sandwiches; or who believe the world is 6,000 years old and men rode dinosaurs?

I once had some New Age guy tell me he respected all beliefs. When challenged, he agreed he'd even respect a resurgence of Aztec belief including human sacrifice.

Frankly, I have zero respect for any blind belief born of cultural indoctrination of the prevailing religion, or self delusion. Whether it's a hybrid or the basic model, belief with no evidence is unworthy of my respect.

So, what logic should i be using to have "respect" for belief that is steeped in superstition, ignorance and the rejection of reality?
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Postby Brandon » Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:14 pm

I had a conversation with a friend of mine, in which she said that I must respect other people's beliefs. Because, I assume, it's just the politically correct thing to do these days.

I quickly countered and said I do not and will not respect other people's beliefs simply because they believe something. That is not an indication that something deserves respect. I pointed out that I certainly do not respect the beliefs of NAMBLA, or the beliefs of racists.

For as long as I can remember, I've been taught that respect is earned, not given. Coming to me and telling me that you believe some magic man created everything and he will send me to a burning pit of fire if I don't believe in him and his son, who is actually him, somehow doesn't rank too high on my respect scales. And I don't think I would respect a person who holds this belief on blind faith, because in my opinion they either aren't asking critical questions or they are ignoring the answers in favor of their unfounded beliefs.
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Postby bugsoup » Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:07 pm

dromedaryhump1 wrote:Bug said:
I respect his beliefs far more after talking to Mark.
I see you two are engaged in a convo, and I don't mean to interrupt. Just one question on the above phrase.

What exactly entitles theist's "beliefs" to respect?
You are absolutely correct, I wasn't completely clear in expressing what I meant by this statement. In my head, I was thinking of something much more specific, but on paper I refered to generalized "beliefs". I would have to modify the above quote to say:
bugsoup (in his head) wrote:I respect Elman more (as a person) after talking to Mark.
I should be more careful about distinguishing between respect for beliefs (and which ones) and respect for the person holding those beliefs.

dromedaryhump1 wrote:-Is it based on which flavor of unsupportable culturally induced sky daddy they worship; what supernatural or inventive "illogic" they use to support that belief; what dogma they pick and choose from the menu of belief?
I certainly don't respect the lack of logic used by either and I think it is harmful to anyone who uses dogmatic principles to dictate choices in life.

dromedaryhump1 wrote:-Is it whether or not they are a threat to Free Thinkers, or our freedoms, the education ofthe young, advancement of science, or civilization as a whole?
I have mixed feelings about this. I think they both pose a threat to the developing minds of youth (Mark as a full-time pastor and Elman, if I remember correctly, as a part-time bible study teacher). Up to this point, Mark won't share his views on science (ie the evolution vs creation "debate") so I don't know where he stands, but maybe that indicates that he doesn't want the confrontation he know would hit him if he shared this with us.

As far as being a threat to Free Thinkers or our freedoms, Mark definately is. He runs a blog which spits out alot of hateful feeling towards those who support "an atheist agenda" of separation of church and state. He continuously insists (without a logical argument at all) that this atheist agenda harms "society" and he views this country as a Christian nation. Of course he supports Mike Fuckabee and his outwardly Christian message. He thinks that atheism == secularism, but he won't pose an alternative that doesn't infringe on our rights.

Mark also continues to make assumptions about Atheists and tell us what the reprecussions are of our views of the existence of god. He loves telling us what we must logically believe and why (again, without a logical argument) instead of asking us what we believe and why.

Elman, on the other hand, has been fairly consistent by staying on the defensive side of the debate. That is one of the reasons I respect him over Mark. Elman may not have logically supportable beliefs, but he isn't insisting that we should share his or even that we don't have a logical leg to stand on. My opinions about Elman may have softened over time, but my frustrations over his use of logic aren't a reason to believe he directly threatens my freedoms.

dromedaryhump1 wrote:-Should we respect a belief just because it is benign, less confrontational, doesnt require witch burning, hatred of gays, or killing of apostates?
Hmmm. I certainly respect a person who refuses to let the dogma interfere with their actual feelings on these matters. I've pointed out a few times that I think Elman actually holds to the Humanist philosophy quite well, but hasn't realized it yet. I think he has more or less thrown out everything in the Bible that he doesn't believe in because ultimately, that isn't where he gets his morals from. For some reason, he is afraid to go that one step further and reject what he views as the source for his morals.

I don't respect either Mark or his beliefs because he is openly anti-gay, pro-capital punishment, and probably would be buring witches if it wasn't against the law.

dromedaryhump1 wrote:- Is their belief due the same, less, or more respect as people who believe in unicorns and fairys; the miracle of images of holy figures on their sandwiches; or who believe the world is 6,000 years old and men rode dinosaurs?
Absolutey not.

dromedaryhump1 wrote:I once had some New Age guy tell me he respected all beliefs. When challenged, he agreed he'd even respect a resurgence of Aztec belief including human sacrifice.
That is rather scary, and precisely why we have secular laws against that sort of thing. Mark nearly understood our fears of repsecting religious beliefs at the federal level when the prospect of Mitt Romney as president became a possibilty. He's been reading alot about Mormon history since then.

dromedaryhump1 wrote:Frankly, I have zero respect for any blind belief born of cultural indoctrination of the prevailing religion, or self delusion. Whether it's a hybrid or the basic model, belief with no evidence is unworthy of my respect.

So, what logic should i be using to have "respect" for belief that is steeped in superstition, ignorance and the rejection of reality?
As stated, I would also have a hard time justifying respect for beliefs with that basis.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:23 pm

Bugsoup said;
bugsoup (in his head) wrote:
I respect Elman more (as a person) after talking to Mark.


ok. Got it.
thanks.
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Postby Some Dude » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:23 pm

Try talking to gomtuu77 sometime, you will really appreciate Elman for how sensible he is. My respect for Elman has sky rocketed since meeting Mark and gomtuu77.
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Postby bugsoup » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:37 pm

Some Dude wrote:Try talking to gomtuu77 sometime, you will really appreciate Elman for how sensible he is. My respect for Elman has sky rocketed since meeting Mark and gomtuu77.
I think gomtuu77 has trouble expressing himself clearly. Sometimes I know exactly what he means, and other times it takes me several tries to even read what he's written. In most cases, I don't agree with anything he has to say.

For instance, when the discussion of meaning and purpose recently, he really wants the meaning of everything to be objective and universal. By the end he had said something along the lines of "But what gives menaing to the menaing you give to things in your life". Sometimes I think he's stubborn. Sometimes I think he's really overthinking it.
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