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how do religious people prove religion

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Because water is common? Still not seeing what this has to do with God.

No, water is not common few heavenly bodies in our system has water. It is uncommon.

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No, water is not common few heavenly bodies in our system has water. It is uncommon.

No, water is actually quite common.

Here's a nice wiki link all about water: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water

And from that link:

Much of the universe's water is produced as a byproduct of star formation. When stars are born, their birth is accompanied by a strong outward wind of gas and dust. When this outflow of material eventually impacts the surrounding gas, the shock waves that are created compress and heat the gas. The water observed is quickly produced in this warm dense gas.[18]

On 22 July 2011 a report described the discovery of a gigantic cloud of water vapor containing "140 trillion times more water than all of Earth's oceans combined" around a quasar located 12 billion light years from Earth. According to the researchers, the "discovery shows that water has been prevalent in the universe for nearly its entire existence".[19][20]

Water has been detected in interstellar clouds within our galaxy, the Milky Way. Water probably exists in abundance in other galaxies, too, because its components, hydrogen and oxygen, are among the most abundant elements in the universe. Interstellar clouds eventually condense into solar nebulae and solar systems such as ours.

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Posted (edited)

In contrast, Doug generally presents a mid-2nd Century dating. I'm not disrespecting his research, I find his views fascinating. But without being a scholar myself, I prefer to rely on the information of the scholarly consensus.

It is extremely difficult for someone raised from birth to think of the Bible as "the Word of God" to shake off that belief and follow the evidence. I know - that's a description of me.

The evidence may not always lead to a correct conclusion and there are some things, like whether Papias was a real person, that we'll probably never have a definitive answer to, thus producing multiple conclusions, each of them equally valid. Because it is impossible to know ultimate Truth, we must settle for truth based on the evidence. Almost everything I have posted has come from someone else's research, mostly from the school of higher criticism. My own contribution is quite small.

We know that there were other documents around both before and after the four modern gospels. There are between 20 and 30 "gospels," depending on exactly how you define "gospel." Clement of Rome wasn't quoting the four gospels, so where did he get his information? Where did Papias get that story about the grapes? Was there really a Q Document or is that just a device to allow Mark to be written before Matthew? Was there an "original Mark?" If so, what might it have said?

Why do some quotes from Papias appear in Matthew and Luke? Why is a quote from Philo of Alexandria found in Mark? Why are the gospels written in the form of a Roman play-within-a-play? Why did Justin the Martyr who quoted copiously from Matthew and some from Mark, not quote from John? Why did Aristides of Athens not include one detail from Jesus' life or quote from the gospels when he wrote his defense of Christianity? There is one unifying answer: the traditional dates of these events are wrong.

There has been so much shoddy research done over the years that one cannot trust anyone else's opinion. The only way to be sure that the most rigorous analysis has been used is to apply it yourself. The problem with rigorous analysis is that it produces relatively few conclusions, but at least, the ones it does produce are reliable.

I think that the biggest objection most people have to what I have found is that if you accept my conclusions, you don't need a miracle to explain anything. And if you don't need a miracle, you might not need god, either. The simple truth is that god is not a necessary part of the explanation.

What I have presented is a tiny part of what I have collected. There simply isn't room on a forum like UM to post it all. And I'm too slow at typing to get it all down in a reasonable amount of time.

Doug

Edited by Doug1o29

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The theory that I have heard is the Paul reveals the presence of a movement (of one Jesus of Nazareth) that was present in Asia Minor before the stories we find in the Gospels evolved, as Paul seems to have Jesus living in "mythical time" and is entirely about his expect Jesus soon return in the Heavens. Such a movement would probably later have been absorbed by other Christians (or maybe evolved into them) who developed the Gospel story after the earlier Christian belief in a soon-arriving Messiah.

Such an approach seems to me to solve a puzzle I have long had as to what happened to the Tetragrammaton. If these early Christians were essentially Greeks in Asia Minor and not Palestinians in Palestine (even though of course they would develop a Jesus story taking place in Palestine), they would have no knowledge of the Tetragrammaton (they would be using the LXX Greek Bible where it was suppressed). This would explain its disappearance from the Gospels and why Jesus never addresses one of the most important issues of Judaism of the day.

I am also aware that not all the "Pauline" epistles are considered to be genuine, and some are considered to have been written later. I'm curious what of the list you provided is from one group and which from the other.

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I don't think the Jesus we see in the Gospels was a real person. He was a myth generated in Asia minor deriving from a mystery cult of Greek nature (God come to earth born of a virgin betrayed and dying a sacrificial death to provide a route to salvation for followers). Who knows how long this cult circulated -- they would have used the Greek LXX Bible, and this seems to be where they got "Jesus" and "Nazareth" (from Isiah). The only real evidence we have it is Paul. A set of stories of a historical Jesus set in Palestine in the early first century would have come later, probably late in the first century, which is when the Gospels date from. That a Nazareth did not exist in Jesus day seems sure. That no Jesus existed either comes from the fact that there is no mention of him until much later (except one fraudulent mention in Josephus), hard to swallow considering the accounts in the Gospels.

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...Just which past observations does Christianity use to validate itself to others? ...

Christianity doesn't validate itself. It is the actions of God that validate it. I realize that many people on UM do not believe that God exists. However, Christians do believe it, and we see the evidence of Him working in our lives.

I have been working on that paper for months. The observations were made back in 2009. God must have placed it there a long time ago just for me to dig it up when you came along.

Not necessarily. For you, trees are a natural subject to think about. It could be that God placed the tree example in my mind because of its connection with your profession.

On the other hand, I have seen chains of action/reaction that lasted for years. In 1982, I chose to read a specific book. A series of events occurred. As a result, an event occurred in 1995 that has positively affected the lives of hundreds of people since that time. I do realize that other UMers would view it as coincidence, but that's fine with me.

And that brings up another question: if you looked up a Bible verse and four years later you found a use for it, does that somehow prove your god? Or does it simply mean that if you wait long enough anything can happen?

Yes, anything can happen given enough time. The material in the New Testament, which I usually read through once a year and study, is finite and will eventually address a number of different life situations.

That's what I call chance.

That's fine with me as well. Whatever the cause is, the result is that I'm able to help somebody.

I think there are several confounding factors to your theory here that God is behind verses popping into your mind. What percentage of the entire Bible is actually popping into your head, aren't they the most notable and famous verses? It seems that a decent amount of that subset of famous verses are fairly general and have wide applicability; I can think of tons of situations that the Golden Rule applies to, although that is obviously on the very general end of the spectrum. I assume you're not getting verses like Ruth 1:20 - " “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter." "; I'd probably be pretty impressed if you were just later in the same room with a Naomi and Mara in it simultaneously.

It is true that there are many types of statements in the Bible. Some are simply descriptions of actions, some are general principles, and others speak to very specific situations. Usually the "popping" involves specific situations.

It is important as noted to keep track of how many times verses come into your mind and don't get applied. If you have verses pop into your brain a couple times a week and you only apply them a few times a year and allow up to a day or so to 'apply' it to a situation, it may not be so unlikely at all. How many 'situations' you later encounter to which a verse could be applied should also be noted, the more there are the less surprising you can apply the verse.

Maybe someone can write me an app for that. I can usually tell the difference between random verses and specific verses. Random verses can be triggered by any stimulus and I recognize what brought it in, such as seeing a stone wall being built in someone's yard and thinking about the walls of Jerusalem being rebuilt. Other times, there is no clear trigger. There can certainly be random thoughts; I'm not denying that.

And if I'm reading you right, it is you that is judging this applicability, which doesn't make it too objective. What might be a good test when this happens again is talk to a knowledgable Christian friend and tell them of the situation you encountered and ask them what they think the most applicable verse in the Bible is in response to that situation, without first saying what popped into your head, and see if it's the same as the one that came to you before the fact. If it is not the same, see if you agree that your friend's is a more applicable verse (obviously don't cheat and lend extra 'applicability' to the verse that came to you just because you suspect it may have come from God/precognition, that's what's being tested) and if you do, it would seem to imply that you are the one who is doing the applying, not God. If you say that even if your friend's is better that yours still counts because it also applies pretty well, then it becomes more unremarkable because you now have 'x' number of verses that could have popped into your head that you could apply to that situation, which also lowers the unlikelihood that it is God or you are psychic. If your friends agree with you that you are consistently getting the most applicable verse that would seem to help your possible theory.

The test of telling someone else about a problem would not prove much because of the fact that there are specific Scriptures that speak to specific situations, and anyone with a certain amount of knowledge would be able to identify such a passage.

Which honestly is not to burst any bubbles. Even if God is not communicating with you in this direct way, I would think it a good thing for a Christian to be so familiar with the Bible that verses pop in your head and that you look for and can see their application in the world.

No bubble burst here. I am comfortable with the way things happen, regardless of it being God or coincidence. The end result is the same; as you implied, I am able to help people.

Bottom line observation: in the same way that I am unfamiliar with tree diseases, non-Christians are unfamiliar with the way the spiritual world works.

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Bottom line observation: in the same way that I am unfamiliar with tree diseases, non-Christians are unfamiliar with the way the spiritual world works.

I think that statement verges on the absurd. You know not what you know not.

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I think that statement verges on the absurd. You know not what you know not.

I can accept that you don't believe the spiritual world exists. Can you accept that it exists as a concept?

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1- Jesus' descent from King David

2- The name an status of Jesus' brother (James)

3- Jesus' instructions to missionaries

4- Jesus' teachings about marriage, love and the treatment of enemies

5- Jesus' last supper

6- Jesus' betrayal

7- Jesus' execution and burial

8- Jesus' resurrection from the dead

9- Jesus' post-death appearances to eyewitnesses (including to Paul)

10- Jesus' status as the Messiah-Christ

Which of these were actually written by "Paul" and which ones were actually written by somebody else?

The bottom line with Paul's letters is that it doesn't really matter who wrote them. What is important is that they were apparently written well before the gospels, they say little about Jesus' biography and they exhibit an evolution of Christian thought over time.

Maybe "Paul" of Tarsus was Apollonius ("Pol") of Tyana. Maybe not. Maybe Apollonius was the "Apollos" mentioned in "Paul's" letters. Maybe not. In the end, we'll never know absolutely who Paul, or Jesus or any of the others were. But circumstantial evidence is pointing toward them being myths/legends of the second century.

BTW: there is no mention of Jesus' disciple Thomas in writings of the time. But a person named "Damus" went to India and did many other things Jesus' disciple is reputed to have done. Who was Damus? He was Apollonius' chronicler and friend. It would help the Christian church's case a whole lot if we couldn't find the prototypes for their creations.

Doug

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As a person of "Faith", I don't feel it's my job to prove anything. I am willing to present scripture and answer questions, but I have no time for someone who is hell bent on arguing. I've done that many times and it leads nowhere.

Frankly, I am often met with opposition from people who seem to know the Bible better than me and I've been studying it for years with still plenty to learn. If you are a nonbeliever, how is it that you know scripture better than those who read and study it ever single day?

When a mind is already made up, praying for them is better than arguing with them.

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I can accept that you don't believe the spiritual world exists. Can you accept that it exists as a concept?

There is a spiritual world; I don't doubt that at all. What I doubt are all the angels and demons and other manifestations of superstition, and I don't exactly deny them as doubt the accuracy of the reports. When one sits quietly and observes one's own mind, one can see a spirit functioning.

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No, water is not common few heavenly bodies in our system has water. It is uncommon.

Common on earth. Besides a few planets and moons are known to have water in some form.

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Posted (edited)

Christianity doesn't validate itself. It is the actions of God that validate it.

You just said that it doesn't validate itself.

I realize that many people on UM do not believe that God exists. However, Christians do believe it, and we see the evidence of Him working in our lives.

It is not about whether god exists or whether somebody believes god exists. What matters to rational discussion is whether it can be SHOWN that god exists. Without doing this, we cannot assume god. Whether or not there is such a thing is a side issue.

On the other hand, I have seen chains of action/reaction that lasted for years. In 1982, I chose to read a specific book. A series of events occurred. As a result, an event occurred in 1995 that has positively affected the lives of hundreds of people since that time. I do realize that other UMers would view it as coincidence, but that's fine with me.

I used to see those "chains of action/reaction" everywhere I looked, too. Then I realized that our lives are made up of astronomically huge numbers of random events and that at least a few will appear to follow an intelligent plan, whether they do or not. So I see you worshipping the APPEARANCE of a divinity and not the real thing; essentially, you have set up your own false god to worship in preference to the real one.

What is the real one? NATURE. If God and the universe are the same thing, then god is everywhere you look. God: manifest as you. God: manifest as me. God: manifest as the tree in my back yard. God: manifest as NATURE itself.

To study the universe is to study God. To use the most-rigorous tests to ferret out truth and demolish falsehood is an act of worship.

Doug

Edited by Doug1o29

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Religious concepts like worship and glory and serving God and so on are human inventions, probably derived from ancient dominance/submission instincts. No real God would be interested in such things; they would be worthless baubles.

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Bottom line observation: in the same way that I am unfamiliar with tree diseases, non-Christians are unfamiliar with the way the spiritual world works.

There's a pretty big difference between those two though: plenty of evidence can be provided for the existence of tree diseases, not so much for a spiritual world. I agree the spirit world exists as a concept, but I don't personally believe there is very good evidence to support it actually existing, let alone the idea that as Frank noted it exists with certain specifics like angels and demons and realms. Unicorns and leprechauns and hobbits exist as concepts also, I'm not sure where you are going with that line of thinking.

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Frankly, I am often met with opposition from people who seem to know the Bible better than me and I've been studying it for years with still plenty to learn. If you are a nonbeliever, how is it that you know scripture better than those who read and study it ever single day?

See Post #63. The Bible is data. It is there to read, to analyze. It is there to learn from. The Bible makes a lot of historical and physical mistakes, but it also contains a lot of historical and physical information that is true. Those campsites listed in the story of the Exodus can almost all be identified as real places. The few that can't be so identified simply don't provide enough information to permit that - how does one identify a campsite named "Campsite?" I firmly believe that the crossing of the Red Sea actually took place. I firmly believe that Jesus was crucified (Jesus of Lydda met his fate at the hands of a Roman crucifixion crew.). The Bible garbled these stories, but the basics are still there to be discovered.

I cannot comment on "spiritual truth" because that is defined for each person for him or her self. You can find it in a sunset, in a moonrise over the desert, in a stained glass window, in starlight on the plains. Or in the Wall Street Journal or the pages of Playboy. Spiritual truth is where one finds it. One can find it in the Bible. But one should not conclude that because one found spiritual truth in the Bible that other forms of truth will be found there as well. Nor does it follow that because the Bible has some factual errors, that it doesn't also contain some factual truths. In the end, it is a book and like any book contains both facts and mistakes.

When a mind is already made up, praying for them is better than arguing with them.

Then I will pray for you.

Doug

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Common on earth. Besides a few planets and moons are known to have water in some form.

Common on earth. Besides a few planets and moons are known to have water in some form.

That would be mars and two ice moons and a bunch of comets. As I said uncommon.

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That would be mars and two ice moons and a bunch of comets. As I said uncommon.

So water is common on Earth and uncommon elsewhere. How is this an argument for God's existence?

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Water has got to be one of the most common molecules in the universe -- it is made of the most common element, hydrogen, and oxygen, I think third or fourth or so. I suspect they will find a lot of it under various surfaces; it is volatile so easily evaporates and is lost from atmospheres and surfaces. Much of the outer solar system is ices of one sort or another, water ice probably being the most common.

The key is a temperature/pressure regime where water can be in a liquid state on the surface.

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You just said that it doesn't validate itself.

Christianity doesn’t validate itself; God validates Christianity. God is a supreme being; Christianity is a way of life. One is not equivalent to the other.

What is the real one? NATURE. If God and the universe are the same thing, then god is everywhere you look. God: manifest as you. God: manifest as me. God: manifest as the tree in my back yard. God: manifest as NATURE itself.

I would have to disagree with that concept. In the particular version of Christianity that I practice, God is larger than the universe; He is not the universe itself. I worship a supreme being, but I don’t worship His creation.

There's a pretty big difference between those two though: plenty of evidence can be provided for the existence of tree diseases, not so much for a spiritual world. I agree the spirit world exists as a concept, but I don't personally believe there is very good evidence to support it actually existing, let alone the idea that as Frank noted it exists with certain specifics like angels and demons and realms. Unicorns and leprechauns and hobbits exist as concepts also, I'm not sure where you are going with that line of thinking.

It’s difficult to imagine an analogy which applicable to this situation. What we observe in the physical world, be it tree disease or electricity, is experienced through our senses of sight, hearing, touching, smelling, or tasting. However, God is experienced primarily in the spiritual world through a Christian’s “sense of spirit”. What I see from some non-Christians (and I wish there were a better label that doesn’t sound condescending) is that the “spiritual sense” isn’t allowed to be discussed at all. The problem is that it’s impossible to accurately discuss Christianity without considering the sense of spirit.

The best example I can come up with is the sense of sight. Try explaining light to a blind person. They can’t experience light themselves; they have to accept the word of others that it exists. If a blind person insists that light can’t exist because they can’t experience it, then they won’t be able to discuss what we know as characteristics of light (color absorption, wave length, etc.).

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You should ask a psychiatrist how he proves a patient's hallucinations are not reality, since to the psychotic patient, what he sees/hears/experiences is very real, however it is subjective. The psychiatrist may not see what the psychotic person sees, and so diagnoses him with a mental disorder. Likewise, religious people tell atheists they have experienced godly miracles and otherworldly experiences of a holy nature, yet we atheists cannot believe it because such experiences to religious people are subjective. Should atheists follow the psychiatrist's way of diagnosing religious people with psychotic mental disorders?

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Should atheists follow the psychiatrist's way of diagnosing religious people with psychotic mental disorders?

That was actually done in the old Soviet Union. While we can't say they were wrong, one should remember that the religious people so diagnosed were functional in society. And that is another standard by which we can judge whether someone is psychotic or not.

Doug

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Christianity doesn’t validate itself; God validates Christianity.

Then the supernatural remains nothing more than speculation.

Once again, it is not what really is, or what someone believes really is. The only thing that counts in any physical topic is what can be SHOWN to be true. And if one cannot show that there is a god, then for all practical purposes, there isn't one.

I would have to disagree with that concept. In the particular version of Christianity that I practice, God is larger than the universe; He is not the universe itself. I worship a supreme being, but I don’t worship His creation.

By definition, the universe is all that exists. If there is a god, it is included under "all."

Doug

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Then the supernatural remains nothing more than speculation.

Once again, it is not what really is, or what someone believes really is. The only thing that counts in any physical topic is what can be SHOWN to be true. And if one cannot show that there is a god, then for all practical purposes, there isn't one.

By definition, the universe is all that exists. If there is a god, it is included under "all."

Doug

Both of your comments focus on the physical and disregard the spiritual. It is impossible to discuss Christianity without considering the spiritual.

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Posted (edited)

Both of your comments focus on the physical and disregard the spiritual. It is impossible to discuss Christianity without considering the spiritual.

Because "the spiritual" is defined individually by each person for him/her self, there is nothing tangible to discuss.

An impartial observer only has what he can see. If he observes that people who say they are Christians are kind, considerate and respectful of each other and others, then that is what he must assume they are. But if he observes that they do things like scream hate slogans about gays, murder doctors at abortion clinics and abuse their tax exempt status, then that is what he must assume Christians believe in.

I see both extremes and a lot in the middle. From that I must assume that Christians are not much different from anybody else and that their god bestows nothing special upon them. It's as if there were no god there at all. Christians are the best argument for atheism that anyone has come up with.

Doug

Edited by Doug1o29

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