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View Poll Results: You are a...
firm believer 157 28.19%
Deist 18 3.23%
Theist 21 3.77%
Agnostic 119 21.36%
Atheist 242 43.45%
Voters: 557. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-27-2011, 02:43 PM   #1246
k3lt01
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Oh sorry if I were to imply that only some JWs, by "those JWs" I mean't all. Sorry for the confusion.
Lol, I thought you meant the ones who I've had in my house. No need to apologise the confusion was mine but worthwhile because it gave me a lovely opportunity to delve back into a discussion I used to have quite often. The only difference this time is I could quote their beliefs directly from their website.
 
Old 04-28-2011, 02:34 AM   #1247
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How exactly do we define an "open mind"? ...
I like the way you think reed.

BTW, I listened to that podcast about Transhumanism and that seems like an interesting site to check-out.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 07:04 AM   #1248
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Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
While I agree our scientific knowledge is obviously incomplete, I would argue that especially in physics we do in fact know a great deal. And anyone who has ever stepped on a airplane is tacitly admitting that 1) knowledge is not relative and 2) they trust discoveries in physics.

How exactly do we define an "open mind"? Many times it seems when people use this phrase, they're really just saying, be more credulous. But how is credulity a virtue? An open mind should be willing to change according to the best available evidence, tempered by an understanding of previous knowledge (ie, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). There are an infinite number of things we could posit to be true, but that doesn't mean it's open minded to entertain all of those possibilities. There might be pink vampire bunnies lurking at the center of the earth. I can't prove or disprove that hypothesis, but it's not close minded to discount the possibility and not bother spending time and resources investigating it.

I don't see how a deity is any different, except by popularity of belief. If there is a God who performs miracles, defined as something that breaks natural law, then there is no solid evidence for such a being. If there is a God who does not intervene in the world, who perhaps set things in motion and then stepped back, then nothing can be known or said about such a being and anyone's opinion is as good as another's. The most hateful, violent religious fanatic has as much right to claim they are doing God's will as the most peace loving nun.



Doesn't this position simply amount to an argument from ignorance? There are areas we don't know, perhaps cannot know, therefore God?

As for revelation, how do you distinguish between a person who has had a genuine revelation, if such a thing exists, and a liar or a lunatic? I mean, Michelle Bachman claims God told her to introduce an anti-gay bill in Minnesota. I take her at her word that she believes this to be true and by the criteria you laid out, it seems she received "knowledge" through revelation. By my criteria, she's a loony. And how is Michelle Bachmann to distinguish between a genuine revelation and mental illness, or mere strong preference? Perhaps her gut reaction to homosexuality is so strongly negative, she mistook it for the voice of God. Do we trust our gut? It's almost axiomatic that we should, but why should we?
Was going to tackle this myself, but read this post and decided not to bother. Well done that man.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 08:00 AM   #1249
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Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
I don't see how a deity is any different, except by popularity of belief. If there is a God who performs miracles, defined as something that breaks natural law, then there is no solid evidence for such a being. If there is a God who does not intervene in the world, who perhaps set things in motion and then stepped back, then nothing can be known or said about such a being and anyone's opinion is as good as another's. The most hateful, violent religious fanatic has as much right to claim they are doing God's will as the most peace loving nun.
What about things like a man with an aggressive, terminal form of cancer getting healed the next day for no possible reason? Is it all just by extreme coincidence?

What about the origin of humanity? I mean, how can you explain that we are so much more developed than other animals, if not by divine creation? Why isn't the bear in the forest just as technologically advanced as humans?

Maybe Michelle is a loony, and maybe many religions are wrong. but, IMHO, I can not choose to be atheist based solely on scientific evidence, since science leaves far too many questions, IMHO.

Last edited by lupusarcanus; 04-29-2011 at 08:01 AM.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 08:34 AM   #1250
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What about things like a man with an aggressive, terminal form of cancer getting healed the next day for no possible reason? Is it all just by extreme coincidence?
Citation or it never happened.

However, just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean "God" is the right explanation.

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What about the origin of humanity? I mean, how can you explain that we are so much more developed than other animals, if not by divine creation? Why isn't the bear in the forest just as technologically advanced as humans?
Because we have put together a unique set of common animal behaviors. It really is that simple.

There are other animals that have opposable thumbs, organize in social groups, use tools, share acquired knowledge with following generations, and communicate in complex ways. But there's only one animal that does all of the above.

We're the only member of the ape family that has the communication. But then again, we're also the only remaining descendant of a branch off the ape family tree that came down from the trees, moved to the coast, and started feeding on a diet primarily based on fish protein... at which point our brains exploded.

Evidence suggests dolphins and whales can communicate as well as we can, and not coincidentally, they're eating a lot of seafood themselves. But... flippers. And they don't use tools, since nature has provided them all the tools they need.

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Maybe Michelle is a loony, and maybe many religions are wrong. but, IMHO, I can not choose to be atheist based solely on scientific evidence, since science leaves far too many questions, IMHO.
Religion leaves far too many questions, too. At least in the case of science, they're honest about the things they don't know, rather than making things up.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 08:57 AM   #1251
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Originally Posted by lupusarcanus View Post
What about things like a man with an aggressive, terminal form of cancer getting healed the next day for no possible reason? Is it all just by extreme coincidence?

What about the origin of humanity? I mean, how can you explain that we are so much more developed than other animals, if not by divine creation? Why isn't the bear in the forest just as technologically advanced as humans?

Maybe Michelle is a loony, and maybe many religions are wrong. but, IMHO, I can not choose to be atheist based solely on scientific evidence, since science leaves far too many questions, IMHO.
All of this still only amount to an argument from ignorance, a God of the Gaps argument. It gives absolutely no reason to assume a Christian god intervening over Zeus or Ba'al or aliens beaming a healing ray down on someone. There are still an infinite number of hypotheses one could make and absolutely no way to differentiate between them. And assuming a deity or any other improbable cause still doesn't answer any questions - it is a fact a way to stop inquiry. We have to assume at least methodological naturalism if we are to try and understand unexplained phenomenon at all. If we stop at "God did it", we can never progress in our knowledge. (I happen to subscribe to philosophical naturalism as well. Matter can basically be expressed as something that kicks back when we kick it. If there is a non-material world, how can it possibly interact with the material world? If it affects the material world then it has to be, pretty much by definition, material, and therefore something can be known about it. In the alternative, as I mentioned earlier, nothing can be known about it and it can be safely disregarded.)

All in all, spontaneous cancer remissions tell us only that there are things we don't know about cancer (which is itself a very broad and disparate category) and physiology, or that our methodology is suspect. How good are our diagnostic tools really?
Do over one in five breast cancers detected by mammography alone really spontaneously regress?

As for the origins of humans and why bears aren't technologically advanced, that's answered by evolutionary theory. (Note, however, the origins of life are not explained by evolution. Though there are tantalizing experiments showing how the building blocks of life could have arisen from inorganic matter, whether that's how it happened we cannot know.)

Given that, agnosticism is a reasonable position. I accept the possibility of a non-interventionist deity, but that possibility seems very very remote to me. I identify as an atheist because, at least insofar as an interventionist God is concerned, there is no clear evidence supporting that hypothesis, evidence that ought to be there if a deity was intervening in the world. (In other words, the universe looks exactly as we would expect it to if there were no gods.) As far an any particular god/religion goes, it's all too clear religious beliefs are human constructs.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 09:03 AM   #1252
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I fear turning into an atheist, if I don't click the unsubscribe, ASAP.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 09:06 AM   #1253
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Cancer miracles: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&c...racles&spell=1
It doesn't mean God isn't the right explanation, either, does it?

Humanity: Still doesn't explain technology, infrastructure or anything else. We are an advanced civilization. YMMV, but I've never seen a dolphin do much of anything past essential basics. I don't want to be ignorant, I am just saying that humans are pretty darn special when compared with other animals.

Religion: At least, in my case, Christianity doesn't make stuff up. Christianity is based off the Bible, which itself is a compilation of first hand experiences. You can not definitively say it is real or made up (though there is evidence of . Same with science. Many different areas of it are just inferences.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 09:27 AM   #1254
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Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
All of this still only amount to an argument from ignorance, a God of the Gaps argument. It gives absolutely no reason to assume a Christian god intervening over Zeus or Ba'al or aliens beaming a healing ray down on someone. There are still an infinite number of hypotheses one could make and absolutely no way to differentiate between them. And assuming a deity or any other improbable cause still doesn't answer any questions - it is a fact a way to stop inquiry. We have to assume at least methodological naturalism if we are to try and understand unexplained phenomenon at all. If we stop at "God did it", we can never progress in our knowledge. (I happen to subscribe to philosophical naturalism as well. Matter can basically be expressed as something that kicks back when we kick it. If there is a non-material world, how can it possibly interact with the material world? If it affects the material world then it has to be, pretty much by definition, material, and therefore something can be known about it. In the alternative, as I mentioned earlier, nothing can be known about it and it can be safely disregarded.)

All in all, spontaneous cancer remissions tell us only that there are things we don't know about cancer (which is itself a very broad and disparate category) and physiology, or that our methodology is suspect. How good are our diagnostic tools really?
Do over one in five breast cancers detected by mammography alone really spontaneously regress?

As for the origins of humans and why bears aren't technologically advanced, that's answered by evolutionary theory. (Note, however, the origins of life are not explained by evolution. Though there are tantalizing experiments showing how the building blocks of life could have arisen from inorganic matter, whether that's how it happened we cannot know.)

Given that, agnosticism is a reasonable position. I accept the possibility of a non-interventionist deity, but that possibility seems very very remote to me. I identify as an atheist because, at least insofar as an interventionist God is concerned, there is no clear evidence supporting that hypothesis, evidence that ought to be there if a deity was intervening in the world. (In other words, the universe looks exactly as we would expect it to if there were no gods.) As far an any particular god/religion goes, it's all too clear religious beliefs are human constructs.
I'm still left wondering though. :-/

I mean, isn't it just as problematic to chalk everything up to not knowing anything as it is to chalk it up to a deity? Science offers very, very sparse information about the human mind, and how we rationalize. Science doesn't explain why bad intentions exist. It doesn't explain sympathy. If we were to be completely naturalist, then would the conclusion be that life is irrational? But then doesn't that invalidate...? I dunno, I've confused myself

Evolution is survival of the fittest. But it doesn't explain why the humans care about animals or anything. People trying to keep certain species of animals alive is certainly a bit against this theory?

Like I said, I dunno, I just have a hard time accepting that there is nothing there. I mean, all throughout our known history there has been accounts of supernatural events. There are accounts of miracles, life after death and other stuff. Even a true naturalist must admit that there is more to this world then meets the eye? I guess these events do not all support evidence for a God specifically, but there is very little hard evidence against a God too. Atheism specifically rejects that a God can exist at all. I dunno, it seems atheism is as much of a human construct as religion is. I don't think it's a God of the Gaps argument... You can't say that millions of accounts over 1000's of years is ALL null?
 
Old 04-29-2011, 09:42 AM   #1255
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Originally Posted by lupusarcanus View Post
Cancer miracles: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&c...racles&spell=1
It doesn't mean God isn't the right explanation, either, does it?
I find it ironic that the first hit on your search is an article discussing how studying spontaneous cancer remissions could give us new treatment tools. So squarely in the scientific arena.

And no, it doesn't mean God isn't the right explanation. It just means that we don't know. But the God hypothesis doesn't advance our understanding or knowledge of cancer.


Quote:
Humanity: Still doesn't explain technology, infrastructure or anything else. We are an advanced civilization. YMMV, but I've never seen a dolphin do much of anything past essential basics. I don't want to be ignorant, I am just saying that humans are pretty darn special when compared with other animals.
You're making a whole lot of assumptions here. Are we an "advanced civilization"? We have no other civilization to compare ourselves to. Why should we assume our technology use makes us more special than other species? Plants have astounding abilities to manufacture chemicals - why shouldn't we consider them to be more special, for example? There is a erroneous belief that evolution equals progress, that there is a hierarchical evolutionary ladder. This is not true.

Quote:
Religion: At least, in my case, Christianity doesn't make stuff up. Christianity is based off the Bible, which itself is a compilation of first hand experiences. You can not definitively say it is real or made up (though there is evidence of . Same with science. Many different areas of it are just inferences.
The Bible was written over a period of centuries by many different authors. Unless you begin with the assumption that it was at least inspired by God, there is no reason to suppose the events depicted in the Bible happened anything like what is described. Some bits of the Bible have some corroborating historical evidence, some, like the Exodus story, appear completely fabricated. And of course it's just circular to try and argue the validity of Christianity or Christ by appeal to the Bible. (And again, I'm left wondering why choose the Bible as your foundational text anyway? What criteria do you choose that semi-historical text over, say, the Hindu Upanishads?)
 
Old 04-29-2011, 10:25 AM   #1256
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I'm still left wondering though. :-/

I mean, isn't it just as problematic to chalk everything up to not knowing anything as it is to chalk it up to a deity?
Hrm, no, I don't see how saying, "We don't have a good understanding of this yet" is more problematic that supposing an omnipotent being in the sky made it all happen.

Quote:
Science offers very, very sparse information about the human mind, and how we rationalize. Science doesn't explain why bad intentions exist. It doesn't explain sympathy. If we were to be completely naturalist, then would the conclusion be that life is irrational? But then doesn't that invalidate...? I dunno, I've confused myself

Evolution is survival of the fittest. But it doesn't explain why the humans care about animals or anything. People trying to keep certain species of animals alive is certainly a bit against this theory?
From an evolutionary perspective, emotions are a way to sort of calibrate people to behave in certain ways. Familial love, for example, benefits genes, because your family share many of your genes. On average, I share 50% of my genes with my sister, so from the perspective of propagating genes, it makes sense to sacrifice some of my own resources to benefit her - there is an expected gain is gene replication. But genes have no consciousness, purpose, or direction. They can't say, oh helping this person is going to give me a leg up, so hey body, let's do that. So emotions are a bit of a cludge, and it isn't surprising the our emotional mechanism can be co-opted or expanded to include animals for example. Not everything is a direct adaption. (Though, animals have certainly helped us survive both as food and as companions, so maybe there is an argument to be made for direct adaption.) Also, once an organism starts down an evolutionary path, there's no going back, it can only work with the materials at hand. We should expect remnants and vestiges that aren't the most efficient method, but are good enough method. (For example, the path of the vans deferens in humans. Not the most efficient, but good enough.)

Quote:
Like I said, I dunno, I just have a hard time accepting that there is nothing there. I mean, all throughout our known history there has been accounts of supernatural events. There are accounts of miracles, life after death and other stuff. Even a true naturalist must admit that there is more to this world then meets the eye? I guess these events do not all support evidence for a God specifically, but there is very little hard evidence against a God too. Atheism specifically rejects that a God can exist at all. I dunno, it seems atheism is as much of a human construct as religion is. I don't think it's a God of the Gaps argument... You can't say that millions of accounts over 1000's of years is ALL null?
You absolutely can say that millions of accounts over thousands of years are all null. Anecdote is not evidence and popularity doesn't make something true. And when for most of that time we had absolutely no idea how the universe worked, why should we think ancient accounts should be at all accurate? Or put it this way, for thousands of years almost all civilizations engaged in slavery. From that should we deduce that slavery is ok? We can't say that millions of accounts over thousands of years are all null, can we?

Most atheists I know take my position. It is possible there is a God, but lacking evidence or plausibility, we assume not. And the evidence against any particular deity is fairly strong. You can quibble and call that agnosticism, but I feel it's a stronger position that agnosticism. It's not like, eh 50/50 one or the other. It's like 1 to many billions against a deity.

There is more to this world that meets the eye, absolutely, but that doesn't mean it's supernatural. The mysteries of quantum mechanics, the devastating beauty of the solar system, realities that for most of human history could not have even been imagined. Religion and supernaturalism seem to me to be drab and unimaginative compared to the universe as it actually appears to be.

"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked — as I am surprisingly often — why I bother to get up in the mornings." -Richard Dawkins

Quote:
If we were to be completely naturalist, then would the conclusion be that life is irrational?
It doesn't make life irrational, it makes it lacking intrinsic purpose or meaning. The universe appears cold and indifferent. That does not mean that life is meaningless, though, only that meaning does not come from outside of ourselves.

Last edited by reed9; 04-29-2011 at 10:28 AM.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 10:29 AM   #1257
lupusarcanus
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I find it ironic that the first hit on your search is an article discussing how studying spontaneous cancer remissions could give us new treatment tools. So squarely in the scientific arena.

And no, it doesn't mean God isn't the right explanation. It just means that we don't know. But the God hypothesis doesn't advance our understanding or knowledge of cancer.
Hypothetically, if we did somehow prove there was a God, you wouldn't consider this an advancement of our understanding? O_o IMHO, I sure think it would! But I guess I'll leave the ball in your court on this one.

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Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
You're making a whole lot of assumptions here. Are we an "advanced civilization"? We have no other civilization to compare ourselves to. Why should we assume our technology use makes us more special than other species? Plants have astounding abilities to manufacture chemicals - why shouldn't we consider them to be more special, for example? There is a erroneous belief that evolution equals progress, that there is a hierarchical evolutionary ladder. This is not true.
I think technology is an extension of our evolution. We are finding ways to live longer, be healthier, thrive better in different environments, etc. Isn't that what evolution is all about? Adapting to the environment? Or am I confusing things?

Quote:
Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
The Bible was written over a period of centuries by many different authors. Unless you begin with the assumption that it was at least inspired by God, there is no reason to suppose the events depicted in the Bible happened anything like what is described. Some bits of the Bible have some corroborating historical evidence, some, like the Exodus story, appear completely fabricated. And of course it's just circular to try and argue the validity of Christianity or Christ by appeal to the Bible. (And again, I'm left wondering why choose the Bible as your foundational text anyway? What criteria do you choose that semi-historical text over, say, the Hindu Upanishads?)
In certain parts of the Bible, things are not to be interpreted literally, but figuratively. I think certain things in the Bible try to pursue a broader meaning through example.

And even if it wasn't inspired by God, why wouldn't you suppose the things depicted in the Bible didn't happen like it is described? I mean, with what evidence we've got (even partial, it's still there and clear), wouldn't you then assume, as a naturalist, that it is at least viable text? Then considering the Bible is the holy text in Christian belief, and as the foundation of all Christian belief, then wouldn't Christianity be a viable belief? I don't think it's circular to say this. I guess it might be redundant, but not circular...

Last edited by lupusarcanus; 04-29-2011 at 10:34 AM.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 10:32 AM   #1258
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From an evolutionary perspective, emotions are a way to sort of calibrate people to behave in certain ways. […]
…aaand here we go with the whole "life is meaningles and everything is predetermined" sh*t again. I'm sorry, I just can't take the constant barrage of fatalism that I see in these kinds of threads anymore.

Have a nice day.

EDIT: Just so's you people know, this is the only beef I have with science: it keeps trying to tell me "you could not have done otherwise", "your life has already been laid out by the laws of physics", etc. It's sickening, I tell you…it depresses me to no end. It keeps me from actually fscking doing something with my life. …and yet it seems to be the only thing that truly makes sense if one thinks about the topic for long enough.

I apologize if this seemed harsh/rude, but frankly, I can't stand the fatalist throat-cramming anymore.

EDIT: I apologize for not reading your post all the way though :

Quote:
Originally Posted by reed9
The universe appears cold and indifferent. That does not mean that life is meaningless, though, only that meaning does not come from outside of ourselves.
Got any advice for a wandering, depressed determinist then? Someone who's so conivinced that his life is already laid out for him that it gives him the worldview of a meaningless existence defined solely by singular outcomes, rather than possibilities and choice?

Last edited by MrCode; 04-29-2011 at 10:42 AM.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 10:42 AM   #1259
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Originally Posted by MrCode View Post
…aaand here we go with the whole "life is meaningles and everything is predetermined" sh*t again. I'm sorry, I just can't take the constant barrage of fatalism that I see in these kinds of threads anymore.

Have a nice day.

EDIT: Just so's you people know, this is the only beef I have with science: it keeps trying to tell me "you could not have done otherwise", "your life has already been laid out by the laws of physics", etc. It's sickening, I tell you…it depresses me to no end. It keeps me from actually fscking doing something with my life. …and yet it seems to be the only thing that truly makes sense if one thinks about the topic for long enough.

I apologize if this seemed harsh/rude, but frankly, I can't stand the fatalist throat-cramming anymore.
I wouldn't consider the text you quoted as a sign of fatalism. To behave in a certain way (in the meaning of that you prefer some things/behavior/people to others) is mostly a thing were emotions are the cause. But that isn't a thing of pre-determination. You are free to decide against your emotions.
 
Old 04-29-2011, 10:44 AM   #1260
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Hypothetically, if we did somehow prove there was a God, you wouldn't consider this an advancement of our understanding? O_o IMHO, I sure think it would! But I guess I'll leave the ball in your court on this one.
Yes, if we could prove God, if there were scientifically legitimate things we could actually say about God, that would revolutionize our entire understanding of the universe. I would be ecstatic at the opportunity for new knowledge.

Quote:
I think technology is an extension of our evolution. We are finding ways to live longer, be healthier, thrive better in different environments, etc. Isn't that what evolution is all about? Adapting to the environment? Or am I confusing things?
Evolution as a process only needs people to live long enough to propagate. Beyond that, it doesn't matter. Health only matters insofar as it effects our ability to bear offspring and get them old enough to bear more offspring. It's all a game of statistics. What, on average. If technology could affect evolution, we wouldn't be able to see it yet, anyway. The time span is too short. A few thousand years is the blink of an eye on an evolutionary time scale.



Quote:
In certain parts of the Bible, things are not to be interpreted literally, but figuratively. I think certain things in the Bible try to pursue a broader meaning through example.
There is no agreement about which parts ought to be literal and which figurative, or whether it should be seen as all of one or the other. What is the criteria to determine which is which?

Quote:
And even if it wasn't inspired by God, why wouldn't you suppose the things depicted in the Bible didn't happen like it is described? I mean, with what evidence we've got (even partial, it's still there and clear), wouldn't you then assume, as a naturalist, that it is at least viable text? Then onsidering the Bible is the holy text in Christian belief, and as the foundation of all Christian belief, then wouldn't Christianity be a viable belief? I don't think it's circular to say this. I guess it might be redundant, but not circular...
Why should I suppose the Bible is any more historically accurate that Greek legends? Or say in two thousand years, people unearth a copy of Lord of the Rings, should they assume it really happened? I mean, some of the geography and events seem like they could be real, right? And there's evidence of a couple of lost ancient languages in there, that supports these "elves" and "orcs" races, right?

As I said above, there is some archaeology evidence for certain things in the Bible, and some archaeological evidence that contradicts the Bible. All that tells me is that people have been writing and telling stories for thousands of years.

Also, Christianity quite obviously has borrowed many of its ideas from earlier religions, such as Zoroastrianism.
 
  


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What is your religion? jspenguin General 9 04-25-2004 01:28 PM
New Religion (no linux in this thread, sorry) Calum General 9 02-13-2003 02:37 PM


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