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how do religious people prove religion

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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.).

No problem with 'non-Christian' J.K, it is accurate and not condescending at all to me. But the problem is the 'sense of spirit' that you are asserting exists has not been shown to exist, and doesn't seem to result in anything in the physical world that is really measurable. If the sense of spirit allowed you to receive messages from the spirit world that notify you of things that you cannot know any other way, then at least we'd have an indication of something going on. Every explanation of the 'sense of spirit' that I've heard sounds like metaphors for things we already have names for: feelings of awe, amazement, connectedness. I understand what you are saying about sight, but we have a very good understanding of how sight works and that it exists; we know light exists, we have an obvious physical mechanism, our eyes, that enables us to detect it, etc. Not so with the 'spirit'.

Also, your response has numerous applications to other things that, to me, we don't have any good evidence actually exist. People assert that they are psychic and can forecast the future or can speak with the dead, and a person not possessing these 'senses', using what I understand your argument to be, would essentially be in no position to criticize that because they don't have that 'sense', in the same way that as a non-Christian I don't have a sense of spirit and supposedly can't really assess Christianity. I don't know what you think about the validity of speakers-with-the-dead and such, but I don't buy that explanation from them, it's just an attempt to wall off their supposed powers from criticism. That's why the standard usually is, and I would bet that you apply this standard to most things in your life, what are the arguments for something being true.

You can discuss 'spiritual sense' all you'd like, I don't know which non-Christians are saying it's not allowed to be discussed. What non-Christians are likely saying is that no convincing reason or evidence has been provided that a sense of spirit actually exists. How do you know that you are experiencing 'God' with this sense? Many others feel they are experiencing Allah, and throughout history have 'sensed' all kinds of spiritual dieties and beings, an inconsistency that really doesn't apply as much across humanity as far as the five senses we do know exist; if I hear a loud boom, there aren't typically a lot of people arguing instead that they heard bells.

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Lilly is right. Religion is faith based. The only proof I can give you is in the way I live my life. It's more of an example than proof, but you get the idea, I hope. Religion is also a very personal matter. It's strictly between you and God.

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

That is the closest to a discussable statement that I’ve seen yet. You at least acknowledged that there is a spiritual component to be considered.

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

One can call one’s self a Christian and be wrong. Westboro Baptist Church and their ilk prove by their words and actions that they do not fall under the New Testament definition of a Christian. It is unfortunate that the word “Christian” can be applied very broadly and inaccurately.

No problem with 'non-Christian' J.K, it is accurate and not condescending at all to me. But the problem is the 'sense of spirit' that you are asserting exists has not been shown to exist, and doesn't seem to result in anything in the physical world that is really measurable.

It’s not measurable in the physical world because it is not physical; it is spiritual.

If the sense of spirit allowed you to receive messages from the spirit world that notify you of things that you cannot know any other way, then at least we'd have an indication of something going on.

Anytime I’ve given examples, I was told it was simply coincidence.

Every explanation of the 'sense of spirit' that I've heard sounds like metaphors for things we already have names for: feelings of awe, amazement, connectedness.

Those are emotions; the sense of spirit is not emotional. There can be emotional responses, but those aren’t the spiritual acts themselves.

I understand what you are saying about sight, but we have a very good understanding of how sight works and that it exists; we know light exists, we have an obvious physical mechanism, our eyes, that enables us to detect it, etc. Not so with the 'spirit'.

Yes, we understand about light because we can see it, measure it, quantify it, and so on. I was referring to a blind person who has to accept the word of others that light exists. We know it exists, because, as you said, we have the organ for it. Blind people don’t. They can’t experience light; they can only know about it.

…People assert that they are psychic and can forecast the future or can speak with the dead, and a person not possessing these 'senses', using what I understand your argument to be, would essentially be in no position to criticize that because they don't have that 'sense', in the same way that as a non-Christian I don't have a sense of spirit and supposedly can't really assess Christianity. I don't know what you think about the validity of speakers-with-the-dead and such, but I don't buy that explanation from them,…

It would be accurate to say that I don’t believe people can communicate with the spirits of dead humans. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t use their own vocabulary when discussing the issue with them. For example, I’m pretty sure that I understand the word “channeling” within the context. I may not believe that’s possible, but that doesn’t mean I forbid them to use the word.

…How do you know that you are experiencing 'God' with this sense? Many others feel they are experiencing Allah, and throughout history have 'sensed' all kinds of spiritual dieties and beings…

I believe that the spiritual interaction is with God because of the verification of the Bible and of the words of spiritual mentors. Could I be wrong? Sure, I’m willing to admit that I could be wrong about the whole thing. If I’m right, then I’m mostly satisfied with what I have accomplished. If I’m wrong, then I’ll die knowing that I helped people during my life. Either way I’m fine.

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That is the closest to a discussable statement that I’ve seen yet. You at least acknowledged that there is a spiritual component to be considered.

And now we move on to the issue of evidence. It is only evidence if two independent observers can more-or-less agree what they experienced. The independent observers would be chosen on opposite sides of an issue, if we are discussing something. So, what sort of evidence do you propose that we might both agree on?

One can call one’s self a Christian and be wrong.

I would call that typical Christian arrogance and conceit - the arbitrary redefining of the other guy's religion as heretical. There is nothing new about this. In the second and early third centuries Christians killed each other over matters of doctrine. It was to end the bloodshed that Constantine called the Council of Nicea. While I am no admirer of Westboro Baptist Church, they call themselves Christian. From the viewpoint of an outsider looking in, they look as Christian as the next guy.

So just what is it that distinguishes you from Westboro Baptists?

It’s not measurable in the physical world because it is not physical; it is spiritual.

Anytime I’ve given examples, I was told it was simply coincidence.

You need to present your evidence in such a way that we can be sure it is not a product of chance. Examples, no matter how good, can't do that.

Something like: taking a group of hospital patients and setting up prayer groups for half of them. Then watching to see which ones get better fastest. We could probably find ways to test whether there is anything to "the spiritual." That's what I mean by evidence: two independent observers could tell who had the shortest hospital stay, even if one was Christian and one atheist, the observation would be the same. We could probably devise other tests to get a handle on god. That this has not been done only suggests to me that Christians suspect their faith can't withstand the light, so avoid testing it. What would you say after repeated testing showed nothing? Personally, I'm ready to change any time somebody can produce some good evidence.

Doug

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Posted (edited)

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

I gather you did not read the link I posted 'all about water'?

From our friends at Wiki:

]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.[/b]

Edited by Lilly
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Anytime I’ve given examples, I was told it was simply coincidence.

Well, I thought I put an okay amount of thought for a quick post why I thought it might be coincidence, and I didn't say it was simply coincidence and dismiss it. I don't think you're receiving verses from God and don't think that or precognition is the most likely explanation for the phenomenon you are describing, and I'm unclear on how much you're evaluated the possibility that it is coincidence. Here's one way to look at it: the alternatives are that you are either experiencing something that, if you could actually demonstrate it to be true, would change nearly everything we all know about the world and would be likely the greatest discovery in history, or it's a coincidence. From the small amount of evidence we're working from, I know which of those options is the safe bet and I don't really think it's close. So I'm not clear on why you suspect otherwise. I've been thinking of a song and have it happen to come on the radio. I've been thinking of people and at that moment they just happen to call me. It's no doubt kinda weird. The specific coincidence itself is very improbable, but it's not improbable at all that very unlikely coincidences will occur.

Those are emotions; the sense of spirit is not emotional. There can be emotional responses, but those aren’t the spiritual acts themselves.

I'm obviously unclear on what specifically you are referring to when you invoke the word 'spirit' then; you've described it as a separate sense and now as acts so I'm a little lost.

Yes, we understand about light because we can see it, measure it, quantify it, and so on. I was referring to a blind person who has to accept the word of others that light exists. We know it exists, because, as you said, we have the organ for it. Blind people don’t. They can’t experience light; they can only know about it

Much like the tree diseases example, the important distinction is that blind people, although they cannot experience sight, have very good reason to believe it exists; a blind person is going to have to come up with another good explanation of how people are able to successfully drive places if they are doubting that people can see. Not so with the spirit, it is very doubtable. There's no physical aspect of it according to you I thought, so you're basing the truth of it on your personal experience I assume and perhaps because other people may say they have experiences like this also. However, there are tons of people who believe things based on their personal experience that you do not believe to be true, thus, I should think that should temper the confidence you may have in the interpretation you have from your own. Apparently, believing things solely or largely based on a subjective personal experience doesn't seem to be a very reliable way to determine if something is true.

It would be accurate to say that I don’t believe people can communicate with the spirits of dead humans. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t use their own vocabulary when discussing the issue with them. For example, I’m pretty sure that I understand the word “channeling” within the context. I may not believe that’s possible, but that doesn’t mean I forbid them to use the word.

Again, I haven't seen anyone forbidding you from using any word. I can use the word 'spirit' even though I haven't experienced it in the same way you can use the word 'channeling' even though you haven't experienced it. But you seem to be trying to wall off your point by stating that I can't understand because I don't have a sense of spirit, but 'you just don't understand' can be offered up as a reason why you don't understand the truth that people can speak with the dead. I would think the response, 'you just don't understand because you have never experienced channeling', wouldn't be very convincing to you as a reason to believe in speaking with the dead, so I don't know why 'you don't have a sense of spirit' is at all different.

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No problem with 'non-Christian' J.K, it is accurate and not condescending at all to me. But the problem is the 'sense of spirit' that you are asserting exists has not been shown to exist, and doesn't seem to result in anything in the physical world that is really measurable. If the sense of spirit allowed you to receive messages from the spirit world that notify you of things that you cannot know any other way, then at least we'd have an indication of something going on. Every explanation of the 'sense of spirit' that I've heard sounds like metaphors for things we already have names for: feelings of awe, amazement, connectedness. I understand what you are saying about sight, but we have a very good understanding of how sight works and that it exists; we know light exists, we have an obvious physical mechanism, our eyes, that enables us to detect it, etc. Not so with the 'spirit'.

Also, your response has numerous applications to other things that, to me, we don't have any good evidence actually exist. People assert that they are psychic and can forecast the future or can speak with the dead, and a person not possessing these 'senses', using what I understand your argument to be, would essentially be in no position to criticize that because they don't have that 'sense', in the same way that as a non-Christian I don't have a sense of spirit and supposedly can't really assess Christianity. I don't know what you think about the validity of speakers-with-the-dead and such, but I don't buy that explanation from them, it's just an attempt to wall off their supposed powers from criticism. That's why the standard usually is, and I would bet that you apply this standard to most things in your life, what are the arguments for something being true.

You can discuss 'spiritual sense' all you'd like, I don't know which non-Christians are saying it's not allowed to be discussed. What non-Christians are likely saying is that no convincing reason or evidence has been provided that a sense of spirit actually exists. How do you know that you are experiencing 'God' with this sense? Many others feel they are experiencing Allah, and throughout history have 'sensed' all kinds of spiritual dieties and beings, an inconsistency that really doesn't apply as much across humanity as far as the five senses we do know exist; if I hear a loud boom, there aren't typically a lot of people arguing instead that they heard bells.

Spirits do not touch anything. They are not physical. They connect to most people through dreams and small nudges to do good or bad things. How ever if they manifest the good ones won't reach out touch you. The evil ones might. There are beings that are physical as in the story of abraham who had lunch with a few.

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Posted (edited)

I gather you did not read the link I posted 'all about water'?

From our friends at Wiki:

No, I didn't see it. But what you posted above is slightly wrong from what I have seen on tv. In that water must be present for a star to born. Too much and the star doesn't get hot enough. Too little and it gets too hot. Sounds like a recipe to me. I would give a link but I can't copy and paste with me bad tablet.

By the way, they also said if it wasn't for the hydrogen bound, earth is too hot for liquid water. I think the show was the universe on the history channel.

Edited by danielost

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No, I didn't see it. But what you posted above is slightly wrong from what I have seen on tv. In that water must be present for a star to born. Too much and the star doesn't get hot enough. Too little and it gets too hot. Sounds like a recipe to me. I would give a link but I can't copy and paste with me bad tablet.

By the way, they also said if it wasn't for the hydrogen bound, earth is too hot for liquid water. I think the show was the universe on the history channel.

This is just plain wrong. Water does not have to be present for a star to be born.

All that needs to be present for star formation is hydrogen.

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

And the moon, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Pluto, Enceladus, Titan, Europa, Charon etc.

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No, I didn't see it. But what you posted above is slightly wrong from what I have seen on tv. In that water must be present for a star to born. Too much and the star doesn't get hot enough. Too little and it gets too hot. Sounds like a recipe to me. I would give a link but I can't copy and paste with me bad tablet.

Water has mass, it would make the star hotter.

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In the final analysis, rare or not, water exists due to a chemical bonding between hydrogen and oxygen. The existence of water neither supports nor refutes the existence of God.

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Posted (edited)

And now we move on to the issue of evidence. It is only evidence if two independent observers can more-or-less agree what they experienced. The independent observers would be chosen on opposite sides of an issue, if we are discussing something. So, what sort of evidence do you propose that we might both agree on?

I don’t think there is any evidence we could agree on. Anything that happens on a personal level has been labeled as subjective or coincidence. Since Christianity is based on a personal relationship between God and Christian, all evidence is unusable.

I would call that typical Christian arrogance and conceit - the arbitrary redefining of the other guy's religion as heretical. There is nothing new about this. In the second and early third centuries Christians killed each other over matters of doctrine. It was to end the bloodshed that Constantine called the Council of Nicea. While I am no admirer of Westboro Baptist Church, they call themselves Christian. From the viewpoint of an outsider looking in, they look as Christian as the next guy.

So just what is it that distinguishes you from Westboro Baptists?

No arrogance here, just assessment according to Biblical principles. Christians are instructed to offer (not force) God to the world and edify (build up/strengthen/encourage) other Christians. Characteristics such as peace, joy, love, goodness, and self-control are encouraged. Acts such as lying, cheating, and hatred are discouraged. Westboro’s actions seem to be full of hate and intolerance. You can see how their behavior lines up with those guidelines.

You need to present your evidence in such a way that we can be sure it is not a product of chance. Examples, no matter how good, can't do that.

Something like: taking a group of hospital patients and setting up prayer groups for half of them. Then watching to see which ones get better fastest.

An experiment like that is impossible to conduct, because prayer is not equivalent to casting a magic spell. God is not a vending machine or a genie. He is not subject to man’s wishes, and operates according to His own agenda. I offer that as explanation, being well aware that others will label it as a cop-out. I am comfortable with that conclusion.

….Not so with the spirit, it is very doubtable. There's no physical aspect of it according to you I thought, so you're basing the truth of it on your personal experience I assume and perhaps because other people may say they have experiences like this also. However, there are tons of people who believe things based on their personal experience that you do not believe to be true, thus, I should think that should temper the confidence you may have in the interpretation you have from your own. Apparently, believing things solely or largely based on a subjective personal experience doesn't seem to be a very reliable way to determine if something is true.

Then I have no evidence to offer for your consideration.

Again, I haven't seen anyone forbidding you from using any word. I can use the word 'spirit' even though I haven't experienced it in the same way you can use the word 'channeling' even though you haven't experienced it. But you seem to be trying to wall off your point by stating that I can't understand because I don't have a sense of spirit, but 'you just don't understand' can be offered up as a reason why you don't understand the truth that people can speak with the dead. I would think the response, 'you just don't understand because you have never experienced channeling', wouldn't be very convincing to you as a reason to believe in speaking with the dead, so I don't know why 'you don't have a sense of spirit' is at all different.

Let me try to reword it. Whereas I doubt the ability of another person to communicate with dead spirits, I have no trouble using the practitioner’s vocabulary to discuss it. However, it seems that we are not allowed to use “spiritual vocabulary” to discuss spiritual matters. That’s like trying to discuss concrete while denying that powdered cement mix and gravel exist.

The bottom line appears to be (to answer the original post): there is no acceptable proof for spiritual matters if proof must be limited solely to physical consideration, and any proof offered is an example of coincidence only.

Edited by J. K.

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I don’t think there is any evidence we could agree on.

First, thanks for your well-thought-out answers. It is a real pleasure to talk with someone who has made a serious effort to confront the implications of their beliefs.

Anything that happens on a personal level has been labeled as subjective or coincidence. Since Christianity is based on a personal relationship between God and Christian, all evidence is unusable.

Subjective opinion is unusable only because it can't be verified. It doesn't come up to the minimum standards of evidence. Coincidence, on the other hand, is something statisticians deal with on a daily basis. And it IS admissible. It is expressed in probabilities. If coincidence is strong enough to overcome chance, then there is probably a phenomenon there to examine further. But if coincidence is not strong enough to overcome chance, the only thing present is most-likely just statistical noise.

It sounds like somebody has tried to use a very weak correlation or concordance as evidence and been shot down for it. I would tell that person to use a stronger model or stronger coincidence next time. A strong coincidence is evidence; a weak one is not.

No arrogance here, just assessment according to Biblical principles. Christians are instructed to offer (not force) God to the world and edify (build up/strengthen/encourage) other Christians. Characteristics such as peace, joy, love, goodness, and self-control are encouraged. Acts such as lying, cheating, and hatred are discouraged. Westboro’s actions seem to be full of hate and intolerance. You can see how their behavior lines up with those guidelines.

I see your point, but I'm wondering what the Westboro people would say. I have heard hate speech from the pulpit and when I challenged the speaker, he insisted that he really loved gays and atheists and he was just doing it for their own good. I really wondered if this man had any comprehension of the difference between love and hate. The important point is that HE thought he was expressing love, even if that's not the impression other people would get. So how does an outsider tell if someone is a "real" Christian or not without bringing his own subjective opinion into it?

An experiment like that is impossible to conduct, because prayer is not equivalent to casting a magic spell. God is not a vending machine or a genie. He is not subject to man’s wishes, and operates according to His own agenda. I offer that as explanation, being well aware that others will label it as a cop-out. I am comfortable with that conclusion.

An experiment like that was actually conducted by a group of doctors at Integris Baptist in Oklahoma City. They divided a group of patients into three sub-groups. One, they told what they were doing and arranged prayer groups for. A second they arranged prayer groups for, but didn't tell them what they were doing. A third group served as controls. They also recorded whether the prayer group included friends or relatives of the patient. The conclusion: prayer worked, if the prayer group members were friends and/or relatives. Otherwise, it didn't. And that's enough evidence to say that there is a real phenomenon in there somewhere. A lot more work is needed before we can say that it has anything to do with god, but at least, it's a start. Experiments will work because they follow natural law. Laws that you Christians say god created. What god worthy of following would deceive his followers?

Then I have no evidence to offer for your consideration.

Then we agree to disagree.

Doug

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It sounds like somebody has tried to use a very weak correlation or concordance as evidence and been shot down for it. I would tell that person to use a stronger model or stronger coincidence next time. A strong coincidence is evidence; a weak one is not.

I don’t follow your wording there. What is the difference between a strong and a weak coincidence?

….The important point is that HE thought he was expressing love, even if that's not the impression other people would get. So how does an outsider tell if someone is a "real" Christian or not without bringing his own subjective opinion into it?

Yes, it can be difficult to determine that even for us Christians. Besides, Christians can do bad things and non-Christians can do good things. Being “saved” (pardon the churchy word) is not a fool-proof guarantee for Christian behavior, it just tips it in that direction a little further.

Ultimately, the state of one’s soul is between that one and God. We can’t go to someone and say, “You’re not saved.” We are mandated to encourage Godly behavior (per the Biblical guidelines I gave earlier.) The Westboro pastor, whether or not he is saved, is not expressing love and compassion, in my subjective opinion. It is unfortunate that his type seems to get more press time than those who go through their lives quietly helping everyone they come in contact with. (Could that be a press conspiracy? :unsure2: )

An experiment like that was actually conducted by a group of doctors at Integris Baptist in Oklahoma City. They divided a group of patients into three sub-groups. One, they told what they were doing and arranged prayer groups for. A second they arranged prayer groups for, but didn't tell them what they were doing. A third group served as controls. They also recorded whether the prayer group included friends or relatives of the patient. The conclusion: prayer worked, if the prayer group members were friends and/or relatives. Otherwise, it didn't. And that's enough evidence to say that there is a real phenomenon in there somewhere. A lot more work is needed before we can say that it has anything to do with god, but at least, it's a start. Experiments will work because they follow natural law. Laws that you Christians say god created. What god worthy of following would deceive his followers?

I’ve not heard of that one, sounds interesting. The one statement of yours that I would amend is “Experiments will work because they follow natural law.” Prayer is not a law such as the law of gravity. I is not strictly a physical activity. It does involve our voice, or at least our thoughts; but it also involves the spirit of the person who is praying. The activity is also occurring in the supernatural world. As I said earlier, the act of prayer does not manipulate God, it merely communicates to Him.

Then we agree to disagree.

Which is a perfectly legitimate result of a discussion. :yes:

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I don’t follow your wording there. What is the difference between a strong and a weak coincidence?

Coincidence is actually the wrong word. Sorry about that.

The terms are usually either correlation or concordance. The difference between "strong" and "weak" is defined by each group for their own field and usually is determined by what the first investigator did. In most fields the boundary between "strong" and "weak" is 5% - that is, if there is less than a 5% chance of rejecting a true statement, then that is "strong" evidence. If the risk of rejecting a true statement is greater than 5%, then it is "weak." That line is easily determined if the data is numerical or categorical, but more difficult, or even impossible, if it is neither.

Statement: There is a god!

Somehow we must devise a test that can distinguish between "god" and "no god." But suppose our test is less than perfect. There is an element in the process that sometimes generates a wrong answer. By some mathematical or statistical process we can determine what the proportion of wrong answers would be in the absence of god. Then the question comes down to: how many times must our test show that there is a god before we have overcome the element that is generating the wrong answers? The more times the "god" result occurs, the stronger the evidence. In a test like this, it is all about beating the odds (with God's help, if you like).

Ultimately, the state of one’s soul is between that one and God. We can’t go to someone and say, “You’re not saved.”

In ancient writings, both Christian and pagan, "god" is distinguished from all else by immortality. Gods alone are immortal. The "Fundamental Theorem of Christianity" is that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. This proves he is God. Thus, if you believe he did this and you can do something to gain his favor, you can become immortal, too. That is what "saved" meant in ancient times.

The rub is that there are a lot of different opinions about what one can do to gain Jesus' favor. Some people kill in the name of Jesus (The Crusaders, the Inquisition, anti-abortion activists) and some help others (Soup lines, homeless shelters, free medical clinics). So I guess the real question is What Would Jesus Do? Or for some people, Who Would Jesus Bomb? Both sides try to make the case for whatever they're doing. Personally, I'll help serve the soup. But that's just personal prejudice.

It is unfortunate that his type seems to get more press time than those who go through their lives quietly helping everyone they come in contact with. (Could that be a press conspiracy?

Not a conspiracy. Just the need to misrepresent and sensationalize for the sake of selling advertisements. Something about the love of money....

I’ve not heard of that one, sounds interesting. The one statement of yours that I would amend is “Experiments will work because they follow natural law.” Prayer is not a law such as the law of gravity. I is not strictly a physical activity. It does involve our voice, or at least our thoughts; but it also involves the spirit of the person who is praying. The activity is also occurring in the supernatural world. As I said earlier, the act of prayer does not manipulate God, it merely communicates to Him.

Prayer is not a natural law. But if the supernatural can have an effect in the natural universe, then there must be a connection between the two. As far as I can tell, that connection is the person doing the praying. If the person doing the praying takes action, something tangible happens. But if they just sit in church on Sundays and do nothing the rest of the week, the world will not change.

Doug

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Somehow we must devise a test that can distinguish between "god" and "no god."

Quite a challenge, given that there are a million definitions of what God is. :cry:

The rub is that there are a lot of different opinions about what one can do to gain Jesus' favor. Some people kill in the name of Jesus (The Crusaders, the Inquisition, anti-abortion activists) and some help others (Soup lines, homeless shelters, free medical clinics). So I guess the real question is What Would Jesus Do? Or for some people, Who Would Jesus Bomb? Both sides try to make the case for whatever they're doing. Personally, I'll help serve the soup. But that's just personal prejudice.

I'll vote for the soup as well. Meeting needs is foundational for ministry. The brand of Christianity that I follow doesn't seek to gain Jesus' favor; there's a different route to being saved, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

Prayer is not a natural law. But if the supernatural can have an effect in the natural universe, then there must be a connection between the two. As far as I can tell, that connection is the person doing the praying. If the person doing the praying takes action, something tangible happens. But if they just sit in church on Sundays and do nothing the rest of the week, the world will not change.

The natural and supernatural worlds are indeed connected. My best understanding is the spiritual world is simply another dimension co-existing with the natural world that we live in. Both can affect each other. I was just trying to point out that prayer is more than just asking-and-getting. And yes, action should certainly be a part of a disciple's life.

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Posted (edited)

I would call that typical Christian arrogance and conceit - the arbitrary redefining of the other guy's religion as heretical. There is nothing new about this. In the second and early third centuries Christians killed each other over matters of doctrine. It was to end the bloodshed that Constantine called the Council of Nicea. While I am no admirer of Westboro Baptist Church, they call themselves Christian. From the viewpoint of an outsider looking in, they look as Christian as the next guy.

So just what is it that distinguishes you from Westboro Baptists?

Hi Doug, I know you and J.K have discussed this, but I thought I'd add in my thoughts. In some ways I see your point, simply saying "well they aren't REAL Christians" can sometimes be used as a copout to excuse behaviour that we would deem contrary to Christ. However, there comes a point where it really is applicable. Let's say I claim to be a Buddhist. I follow the teachings of Buddha, and because of this I am quite happy to indulge in those things I find greatest attachment towards. After all, engaging in my attachments is the best way to alleviate my suffering, is it not? But that is not Buddhist teaching, and if I came out and began to tell everyone that Buddhism is what I am saying it is, then a Buddhist would be well within their Right to come out and say "no, this is not the Buddha's teaching - the Buddha taught that we must strive to remove our attachment, not indulge in it".

What if I claimed to be an atheist, but believed in gods. Would not another atheist have the Right to tell me that I'm not an atheist?

Why is it, then, that only Christianity these days gets put in that category where all one needs do is claim to be Christian, and no one has a Right to say otherwise, regardless of what they actually preach or believe?

Something like: taking a group of hospital patients and setting up prayer groups for half of them. Then watching to see which ones get better fastest. We could probably find ways to test whether there is anything to "the spiritual." That's what I mean by evidence: two independent observers could tell who had the shortest hospital stay, even if one was Christian and one atheist, the observation would be the same. We could probably devise other tests to get a handle on god. That this has not been done only suggests to me that Christians suspect their faith can't withstand the light, so avoid testing it. What would you say after repeated testing showed nothing? Personally, I'm ready to change any time somebody can produce some good evidence.

Doug

I think a test like this may have been done (I recall reading about it). The results were as expected, with no group coming up better or worse. However, there is one variable in this that makes such a test invalid. Let's say I'm at home, about to go to sleep and I decide to pray to God, and ask that people all over the world who are sick and suffering, if God could comfort them and maybe even make them well. I know many Christians who pray for this. Thus all people sick in hospital are being prayed for. Having prayer groups in hospital for half of the patients but not the other half does not mean that they aren't being prayed for.

That's not to say that it is therefore unnecessary for Christians to form prayer groups for certain things, God wants us to pray. But as a means of testing God's ability to heal based on prayer, that's just not going to be possible, since everyone is being prayed for by someone, somewhere in this world.

Edited by Paranoid Android

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To be a christian you only have to believe the story of christ. This technically makes muslims christian. Even tho they believe he failed in his mission. The other reason is we are not supposed to judge people. So if someone says he is a christian we take him at his word. If he is or isn't is between him and jesus. Which if you recall, I have said the catholic church is not a christian church. But, the members might be.

As for fighting wars in his name. He said don't.

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I think too much is made of the problem of defining "God." First, the supermen and superwomen of paganism, such as Zeus, are not "God," but just powerful, limited beings. Second, the "spirits" of animism and Hinduism and Buddhism are of the same general sort. Then there is the "God" of Spinoza or Emerson or Lao Tze, but is this "God?" or just a rather dull almost inanimate inexplicable force? (Which is where I tend to find myself, so I identify as an atheist).

What is left can I think be demonstrated to be a real "God" is the end product of the theological development of Christianity and Judaism (the Allah of Islam is still back in the days of the Hebrews of the OT). This is the infinite, transcendent, omniscient and omnipotent entity who nevertheless exists in history and has personhood. There are no end of logical problems with the existence of such a being, although I suppose one can merely say that with such a being logic is not relevant.

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I don't think a Buddhist would tell you that you must not engage in your attachments. He or she would, at the most, point out that this may lead to more suffering that you think you avoid by engaging in them.

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Quite a challenge, given that there are a million definitions of what God is. :cry:

And that is, perhaps, the biggest problem of all. Even if we prove or disprove god, all we have done is prove or disprove our own definition. But what if god doesn't fit our definition? We must first create a list of characteristics that we believe god has, then see if some entity somewhere actually has any of them.

The natural and supernatural worlds are indeed connected. My best understanding is the spiritual world is simply another dimension co-existing with the natural world that we live in. Both can affect each other. I was just trying to point out that prayer is more than just asking-and-getting. And yes, action should certainly be a part of a disciple's life.

Quakers speak of "God within," a direct internal way of knowing the divine. Because Quakers deliberately do not have a dogma, that's about as far they go. But it definitely allows for the link between spiritual and physical to be the human mind. If there is a link anywhere else, nobody has produced any evidence and that specifically includes evidence of another, non-physical "dimension."

Doug

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I think too much is made of the problem of defining "God." First, the supermen and superwomen of paganism, such as Zeus, are not "God," but just powerful, limited beings. Second, the "spirits" of animism and Hinduism and Buddhism are of the same general sort. Then there is the "God" of Spinoza or Emerson or Lao Tze, but is this "God?" or just a rather dull almost inanimate inexplicable force? (Which is where I tend to find myself, so I identify as an atheist).

What is left can I think be demonstrated to be a real "God" is the end product of the theological development of Christianity and Judaism (the Allah of Islam is still back in the days of the Hebrews of the OT). This is the infinite, transcendent, omniscient and omnipotent entity who nevertheless exists in history and has personhood. There are no end of logical problems with the existence of such a being, although I suppose one can merely say that with such a being logic is not relevant.

The problem with this end product of thought is that it makes god a human invention.

The classical definition of god was "the immortal," that which never dies. But there are certain living things such as the hydra and some jellyfish that do not die of old age. An aspen clone does not die of old age, but is rejuvenated with each new shoot.

Suppose we can figure out a way to keep our cells from aging? Does that mean we become immortal, and therefore, god? And that may not be such a good idea because there are a great many physical infirmities that accumulate over time, even if the body doesn't age. Would one want to live forever if it meant losing your mind?

"I don't think I'd like to spend 500 years as an Assistant Professor." -- Kenneth Boulding, Nobel prize-winning economist.

Anyway, I study trees and they are about as close to immortal as anything can get without actually being immortal.

Doug

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Yes, God does seem a human invention; I doubt though that He is a tree.

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Quakers speak of "God within," a direct internal way of knowing the divine. Because Quakers deliberately do not have a dogma, that's about as far they go. But it definitely allows for the link between spiritual and physical to be the human mind. If there is a link anywhere else, nobody has produced any evidence and that specifically includes evidence of another, non-physical "dimension."

Again, the evidence for the connection is difficult to prove physically because it is a spiritual link. From Christian perspective: God created man with three parts, a physical body, a mental component (our mind, will, and emotions), and a spiritual component. The spiritual component is what allows us communication with God, as well as sensing the spiritual world around us. Other than personal testimony, I can't think of what might serve as corroborative evidence.

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