1. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    23 Feb '05 19:06
    Hi Darfius,

    I wouldn't mind to debate you on religious matters. Could we have a debate with the following characteristics?

    (1) Brevity: Each message should be short. Otherwise the thread gets difficult to read. And frankly, I haven't the time.

    (2) Relevance: Each message should address only the substance of the points previously made.

    (3) Courtesy: No personal attacks. Attacks and rebuttals should pertain only to the issues at hand.

    Okay, with that preamble out of the way, let me pose the first question.

    Do you really think that belief in Christianity is supported by evidence? Do you think that all rational, unbiased people should consider Jesus to be the Son of God? Or do you think that such belief goes beyond the evidence, and is a matter of faith?
  2. Standard memberDarfius
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    23 Feb '05 21:19
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Hi Darfius,

    I wouldn't mind to debate you on religious matters. Could we have a debate with the following characteristics?

    (1) Brevity: Each message should be short. Otherwise the thread gets difficult to read. And frankly, I haven't the time.

    (2) Relevance: Each message should address only the substance of the points previously made.

    (3) ...[text shortened]... Son of God? Or do you think that such belief goes beyond the evidence, and is a matter of faith?
    I'd be happy to. I only ask that this thread remain a debate between you and I. Discussions about the debate should be kept in another thread.

    Do you really think that belief in Christianity is supported by evidence?

    Of course. Contrary to popular belief, Christians aren't idiots with their head in the sand.

    Do you think that all rational, unbiased people should consider Jesus to be the Son of God?

    Yes, at the very least consider it. The length people will go to avoid doing that is astounding.

    Or do you think that such belief goes beyond the evidence, and is a matter of faith?

    Of course it requires a measure of faith. But I think there is enough evidence for any rational, intelligent person to come to the sound conclusion that Jesus is the only Son of the Living God.
  3. Standard memberDarfius
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    23 Feb '05 21:20
    I will await your rebuttal. I will then post questions of my own.
  4. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    24 Feb '05 11:511 edit
    Hi Darfius,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Your reply seems to indicate that you believe the evidence for Christianity to be reasonable but not overwhelming. There are some positive signs, but a degree of faith is needed.

    Let me ask you another question: Do you think that, on the basis of reason and evidence, it is equally reasonable NOT to be a Christian?

    It seems possible to me that, in the absence of compelling evidence either way, it could be equally reasonable to be both a Christian and a non-Christian.

    By way of analogy, it seems to be there are equally good grounds for suspecting Michael Jackson to be innocent of the crimes of which he has been recently accused, and guilty of the crimes of which he has been recently accused. There are signs both ways.

    Is it, in your view, more or less reasonable to be a Christian than not to be one?
  5. Standard memberDarfius
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    24 Feb '05 16:28
    Let me ask you another question: Do you think that, on the basis of reason and evidence, it is equally reasonable NOT to be a Christian?

    On the basis of reason and evidence, yes, it is reasonable not to be a Christian.

    However, if one went through life relying only on reason and evidence, one would find it rather difficult to fall in love, or to make friends, or to enjoy a sunset, or to laugh at a funny movie.

    The concept of life after death, particularly one where you're punished for what you did during life, is not a pleasant one to mull over. I understand that Christianity in particular evokes unpleasant feelings. Those other religions sound a lot better, don't they? Just do more good than bad and you're set. Heck, some even say everybody reaches enlightenment eventually. And those proud Christians say that we need to have FAITH? Faith in a man who got nailed to a cross?

    Some people point to the God of the Old Testament and see a vicious tyrant. I understand that a cursory glance could yield that impression, but I don't agree with it. When you look at the Old Testament as a whole, you see a God that goes from loving and guiding His new creation to one that is forced, as a Holy being, to banish His children to a plane that includes suffering. But He did not forsake us! When Noah was the only righteous man amongst an evil world, was he forsaken? No! When Abraham was loyal to God, was he forsaken? No! God made a promise to those patriarchs. To Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob. A promise from one as Holy as Him cannot be broken. He promised that, out of love for us all, that He would yield a Messiah from the seed of Abraham. Once that promise was made, Satan had time to try and prevent this from happening. THAT is why the Jews seem cruel in the OT. It was self defense! It was the hand of a loving God, unwilling that any should perish, but even more unwilling that the hope of the world be prevented from coming, that defended the Jews above all else. And eventually that promise was fulfilled. God Himself, in the form of the Son, entered into a virgin's womb via the Holy Spirit. Going through most of His life as a modest carpenter, He impacted the world more in 3 years than any man in history has in his life. But does that make sense? Does it make sense for a god not to come in power and glory and righteousness to just magically wipe away all of our sins? I ask you, what kind of god would that be? What kind of god would wipe away the sins of a good man along with the sins of a murdering rapist? What kind of god would allow Martin Luther King, Jr. into heaven alongside Hitler? What would be the meaning of life then? It would be hollow. No, our God entered this world as a meek and humble servant. He humbled Himself to show His love for us. That is what has driven Him since Adam first opened his eyes to see that Holy face. His love for us is what prompted Him to allow the mocking jeers of the very people He promised He would come for. His love for us made Him take the vicious blows from the Roman legions. His love for us made Him withstand the agony of the cross when He could have had angels rescue Him at any time. And before He ascended into heaven, His love for us is what made Him make another promise. One that He would return, and that return would be in power and great glory, coming in wrath rather than in love.

    Are you ready for His return?


    Is it, in your view, more or less reasonable to be a Christian than not to be one?


    Is it more or less reasonable to love? Is it more or less reasonable to put your faith in someone, risking everything? I'm not sure. I've never been a good scientist. I follow my heart more than my mind. All I can tell you is that when I made that leap of faith, I felt a love such that I had never felt before. I can't fathom not living with that love. It is that love that fills me and drives me to witness to you. I am not motivated by pride, or by boredom, or by anger. I love all of you because the One who has infinite love fills me to the brim.

    So in answer to your question, no. No, it is not more reasonable to go through life with your head held high, thinking you owe no one a thing. What is there to gain in that? My Lord Jesus, even if you disagree with exactly who He is, was most wise. I will finish with a quote of His that moves me everytime I read it.

    But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
  6. Standard memberthesonofsaul
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    24 Feb '05 17:00
    . . . you see a God that goes from loving and guiding His new creation to one that is forced, as a Holy being, to banish His children to a plane that includes suffering.

    FORCED??? So much for the omniscient, omnipotent being that is your perception of God. It seems that God is not in control and had only a tenuous hold on his grand creation.

    ... --- ...
  7. Standard memberDarfius
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    24 Feb '05 18:23
    I asked that you please keep discussion of this debate to another thread.

    Thank you.
  8. Standard memberDraxus
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    24 Feb '05 18:30
    Originally posted by thesonofsaul
    [b] . . . you see a God that goes from loving and guiding His new creation to one that is forced, as a Holy being, to banish His children to a plane that includes suffering.

    FORCED??? So much for the omniscient, omnipotent being that is your perception of God. It seems that God is not in control and had only a tenuous hold on his grand creation.

    ... --- ...
    [/b]
    Are we supposed to post in this forum? I know I desperately want to.

    However, in reply to this post, I think that you should try to understand what he was saying before jumping to conclusions. 🙂
  9. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    24 Feb '05 18:333 edits
    Hi Darfius,

    You said:

    However, if one went through life relying only on reason and evidence, one would find it rather difficult to fall in love, or to make friends, or to enjoy a sunset, or to laugh at a funny movie.

    I am not sure that reliance on reason and evidence precludes any of these, with the possible exception of the first.

    But when considering the question of whether or not there is a God, eschewing reliance on reason and evidence would not seem to be a particularly promising strategy. A lot potentially rides on the question.

    Hence, we must be careful not to get the answer wrong, by being unreasonable, or by falsely weighing evidence. Wouldn't you agree with this?

    Best wishes,

    Aiden
  10. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    24 Feb '05 18:431 edit
    Originally posted by Darfius
    [b]Let me ask you another question: Do you think that, on the basis of reason and evidence, it is equally reasonable NOT to be a Christian?

    On the basis of reason and evidence, yes, it is reasonable not to be a Christian.

    However ...[text shortened]... f the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.[/b]
    Hi Darfius,

    Didn't we agree that these posts should be short ? 🙂

    Nonetheless, thanks for your detailed reply.

    You bring up several points, and I can't address them all concisely.

    You also make a lot of rhetorical assertions, some of which presume the truth of Christianity. Nonetheless, you are helping me to get an insight into your perspective.

    I think we should jump to the heart of the matter, and discuss the nature of your leap of faith, and the sense of burning love that you feel consumes. This appears to be a crucial determinant of your beliefs.

    Would you agree with that? Would you say that your sense of being loved by Jesus or God is a crucial determinant of your beliefs?

    Best wishes,

    Aiden
  11. Standard memberDarfius
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    24 Feb '05 19:02
    Hence, we must be careful not to get the answer wrong, by being unreasonable, or by falsely weighing evidence. Wouldn't you agree with this?

    Yes, I agree with that. Faith without reason is blind. But reason without faith is helpless. If one were to use the scientific method to attempt to understand God, one would come up woefully short. When I say love, I mean love that transcends everything. Not love of money. Or love of a show. I mean love that is your very sustenance. I look back at who I was before God saved me, and I can't imagine I was ever so hopeless. The most I had to look forward to was a 9 to 5, a nice car, and maybe a wife who I liked. I didn't really care about where I came from or where I would go when I died. I figured, hey, nothingness is just an extended sleep, right? But deep down, we all know that isn't true. We fear death. It's a monster. We know that we were meant to live. Meant to feel. The idea of nothingness is really inconceivable to us. When I look around me, at a glistening lake with a vast mountain range in the distance. When I see a butterfly flying lazily in the breeze. When I look in the mirror attempting to pierce my eyes and gaze into my very soul, I know deep down that we couldn't be the product of random processes. Only a benevolent, intelligent Creator would have, could have given us this precious gift of life. Natural selection cannot account for love. What random mutation first caused a mother to look upon her child as a gift rather than a responsibility? What random mutation caused a friend to lay down his life for a friend? How does natural selection account for the concept of honor? When I thought, really thought, of a being who could love me this much, it humbled me to the core. But who? Who could it be? How could I find this being and thank them? Buddhism made no sense. What could that statue on a pillow do for me? How could such a distant god have cared enough for me? Hinduism said we are born into what we earned. Why couldn't I remember my past life? What did I do to not make me born into inheritance? Clearly that religion was made to justify a vicious caste system. Islam? Only death resides in Islam. I could never, ever justify killing an innocent person because they disagreed with me. And what god would ask that of me? What god would give us love and ask me for hate?

    Christianity made the most sense. Here was a God who loved me and asked for love in return. Here was a Holy being who couldn't stand in the presence of sin. Here was a God who hates what we all, deep down, realize is despicable. So I prayed the sinner's prayer. I told Him I wasn't sure, but I'd give Him a chance. And I can promise you, when I did that, I felt a change. I felt motivated. I felt like I had found something that made sense of my life. I don't claim to be able to speak with Him, but I do claim to feel His presence. I am hardly ever afraid. I feel Him guiding my life. He impresses thoughts into my mind that cannot be my own. He has changed me from a selfish intellectual into someone who cares for the wellbeing of someone besides himself. I owe my life to Him. So living a life that would make Him proud of me is easy. Giving up the empty things we do to feel loved was a simple trade for His everlasting love.

    So no, I don't think He wants blind faith. He wants a faith that is cemented in His word. Literally. His existence is proclaimed in every word of that black book. And He wants a faith built on that cement with bricks of His love. When you set aside your scorn and your pride and your unwillingess to leave what you think makes you happy, He fills it with something that you never want to lose.

    My question for you, is, with all the evidence you have, with all the facts you think you know, do you know why you are here? Are you truly happy?

    Again, I will leave you with a quote that I think is relevant.

    And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: "A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold." And when he had said these things, he cried, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." And his disciples asked him, saying, "What might this parable be?" And he said, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."



  12. Standard memberDarfius
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    24 Feb '05 19:03
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Hi Darfius,

    Didn't we agree that these posts should be short ? 🙂

    Nonetheless, thanks for your detailed reply.

    You bring up several points, and I can't address them all concisely.

    You also make a lot of rhetorical assertions, some of which presume the truth of Christianity. Nonetheless, you are helping me to get an insight into your persp ...[text shortened]... f being loved by Jesus or God is a crucial determinant of your beliefs?

    Best wishes,

    Aiden
    The love of God is my rock. The word of God is my sustenance. But the things I do with the help of God is what keeps me believing.
  13. Standard memberDarfius
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    24 Feb '05 19:03
    I'll try and keep them shorter. 🙂
  14. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    24 Feb '05 19:39
    Originally posted by Darfius
    [b]Hence, we must be careful not to get the answer wrong, by being unreasonable, or by falsely weighing evidence. Wouldn't you agree with this?

    Yes, I agree with that. Faith without reason is blind. But reason without faith is helpless. If one were to use the scientific method to attempt to understand God, one would come up woefully short. When I ...[text shortened]... t and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."



    [/b]
    Hi Darfius,

    Could you keep it brief? I'm not saying that I don't appreciate your passionate and extensive contributions, but I think a focused discussion, revolving around a small number of key points, would be more productive. Otherwise we'll have too much to discuss. Breadth is the enemy of depth.

    You claim that God can't be understood scientifically, at least in all his particulars. That wouldn't surprise me. I agree with Wittgenstein (in the tradition of Kant and Schopenhauer) that the answer to the world lies outside the world.

    However, I am skeptical that love, as you mean it, is the key that opens the metaphysical box, even though it may lessen the existential angst.

    Clearly, you have experienced something profound, an inner experience that has revolutionized your life, which you previously regarded as unsatisfactory. You attribute your experiences to the action of a deity described in Christianity.

    Yet, however psychological useful this revolution has been to you, it does not necessarily mean that the God you believe is more likely to exist. Many useful things are untrue. Even if believing in God were the only way to be happy (that would be a useful belief) that would not in itself suffice to make it true. It could be entirely false and essential.

    Nor does the fact of your transformation constitute evidence that God, as understood in the Christian tradition, is the cause of your transformation. Your powerful experiences could have an alternative cause, of which you might not be aware.

    For example, maybe it was adaptive for humans to evolve religious sensibilities after they became smart enough to realize they were going to die. However, being smart was too useful an adaptation to lose; so the the existential edge was taken off it by the subsequent evolution of religosity.

    I don't know whether this (admittedly cursory) account is correct. However, I can't see why ANY subjective experience you, or anyone else, might have should rule it out. Hence, you subjective experiences don't necessarily point to the existence of God over at least one alternative hypothesis.

    When you state things like the following...


    I look in the mirror attempting to pierce my eyes and gaze into my very soul, I know deep down that we couldn't be the product of random processes. Only a benevolent, intelligent Creator would have, could have given us this precious gift of life.



    ...you appear to be using personal incredulity as an argument against the possibility that something might be true. But that's a risky form of argument.

    For example, let's suppose that I also look deep into my soul, and I DO think it likely we could be the result of random processes. What would make your subjective view superior to mine?

    This is too much writing for me! Can we pick ONE strand of argument and develop it, instead of spreading ourselves too wide?

    Best wishes,

    Aiden
  15. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    24 Feb '05 19:45
    Originally posted by Darfius
    The love of God is my rock. The word of God is my sustenance. But the things I do with the help of God is what keeps me believing.
    Hi Darfius,

    You state that things you do with the help of God keep you believing.

    But, in classifying those things as done with the help of God, aren't you believing in Him already? So there must be at least one other cause of your belief? Is it the sense of being loved by God or Jesus?

    Best wishes,

    Aiden
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