Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The case for the martyrdom of the apostles

Skeptics often criticize the idea that the apostles were really martyred. Sean McDowell argues that they were.

101 comments:

Starhopper said...

The case for the historicity of the martyrdom of the Apostles is strengthened by the ongoing martyrdom of Christians today in parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and certain areas of India. Add in the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Christian martyrs in the last century under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Plutarco Elias Calles, and there should be no conceptual impediment to accepting (at the very least) the possibility that the Apostles met the same fate.

One Brow said...

Indeed, there have been martyrs of every religious stripe, and of no religion at all, for as long as we have had different religions in the same place.

Hugo Pelland said...

Skeptics often criticize the idea that the apostles being martyred implies that they were right.

Starhopper said...

I would agree with the skeptics that martyrdom does not imply they were right, but it most certainly implies (and perhaps even proves) that they were sincere. It would be a rara avis indeed who would willingly undergo torture and death for something they knew to be false.

Ergo, the martyrdom of the Apostles eliminates the "they made the whole thing up" theory as a viable explanation for the Resurrection.

You need addition argumentation to go from "they were sincere" to "they were correct", but such a case can be made. (But that's another story, and does not require the Apostles to have been martyred.)

Hugo Pelland said...

Yes, exactly.
You need addition argumentation to go from "they were sincere" to "they were correct", but we'll disagree here... such a case cannot be made. There's only hearsay and writtings to support the claims of magical powers.

Starhopper said...

Ah.. but why do you say "such a case cannot be made" when it has been made times beyond number? Now it is clear that you do not agree with the conclusions, but your agreement is not necessary to the existence of the case.

Johnnie Cochran made the case for O.J.'s innocence. I myself do not agree, but the case was nevertheless made (and the jury bought it).

Hugo Pelland said...

Sure, you're right on the semantics. A case can be made; a ridiculously unbelievable case, but a case nonetheless.

Starhopper said...

Once again, why do you say "ridiculously unbelievable" when literally billions of people do believe it? By definition, if a case is believed, then it is believable.

Hugo Pelland said...

So many reasons...

1) How many people believe something is completely irrelevant to how rational a claim is, or how good it is supported by logical deductions and evidence.

2) Even at 2 billion believers, and I argue that number is inflated because of cultural association, there is still a majority that do not believe the claims

3) Sita survived a trial by fire; that's believed by billions of people, does it make it believable? No.

4) Magical claims are, in my book, "ridiculously unbelievable" by definition, literally. That's just my opinion but one that is supported by facts and evidence. We live in a time where we have access to much more information than all the previous generations combined. In 1 hour online, you can learn more about Jesus' resurrection, or lack thereof, than a person in the 19th century would hear about in their lifetime.

5) But most important of all: You're just playing with semantics again. I obviously did not mean that it cannot possibly be believed by anyone. By your logic, because the Earth is believed to be flat by many people, hence we shouldn't say that it's "ridiculously unbelievable" ? No claim would ever be labeled as unbelievable as long as someone believes it. You're just dodging because you cannot possibly explain why we should believe someone was crucified, died, but then showed up again. There is no way for you to justify a belief in a literal resurrection. There is nothing wrong with following the religion that make such claims, but it's wrong to pretend that you can justify these beliefs. That's why there is such a thing as faith.

Starhopper said...

"how rational a claim is"

Moving the goalposts, huh? How can anyone have a conversation with you, if you're forever changing the definitions of terms, or shifting the meaning of your own words?

"Even at 2 billion believers"

The actual number is far higher. I was not restricting myself to people presently alive. Anthropologists estimate that there have been approximately 100 billion persons alive to date, and that of that number, the overwhelming number have been believers in some sort of God (or gods). The number of atheists? Not really quantifiable, but in all probably less than 1 percent of the total.

"Sita survived a trial by fire; that's believed by billions of people, does it make it believable?"

Yes. By definition, if even one person believes it, it is believable. To be unbelievable means no one can believe it.

"Magical claims are, in my book, "ridiculously unbelievable" by definition, literally."

I'm glad you said that. It makes so much clear.

By the way, I do not believe in "magic" either. It is, in fact, forbidden to do so in the strongest possible terms by the Catholic Church. You are evidently confusing magic with the miraculous - which demonstrates just how important semantics is. "Playing with semantics" is an essential part of any rational discussion.

"There is no way for you to justify a belief in a literal resurrection."

I have done so at length, and repeatedly. If you want a more scholarly (and, to be honest, enjoyable) take on the Resurrection, might I recommend watching one (or more) of N.T. Wright's many youtube videos on the matter. (Besides, doesn't everything sound more rational when delivered with a British accent?)

Hugo Pelland said...

Starhopper, the original post was about the apostles. What were they talking about mainly? Belief in God in general? Deep philosophical discussions on the meaning of life or how we got here? Not really, right? They were people who were convinced that someone had just magically came back to life. That's what you believe in. If you want to call this miraculous instead, that's fine, but it doesn't change the fact that there is literally no difference between that and magic, from an outsider's perspective. You claim it's different because you are compartmentalizing your beliefs. So yes, semantics matter, but can also be used as a tool to avoid answering the tough questions.

But let me ask you an honest (yet old) question. When you say "If you want a more scholarly (and, to be honest, enjoyable) take on the Resurrection..." my instant reaction is 'of course not'. Why should I care about about? So to be more precise, my old question is, and it's always been the same: why should I believe claims about miraculous events based only on books? Now, I already know there will be nothing coming out of that question, so I will have nothing further to say on that topic, but it will be interesting to see if you, by miracle (pun intended), have a different answer.

Starhopper said...

Sorry, but the difference between magic and the miraculous is greater (far greater, in fact) than that between apples and bicycles. There was no magic involved with Christ's Resurrection from the dead - none.

"claims ... based only on books"

So what would you prefer they be based on? Video? But I once saw Forrest Gump and John Lennon being interviewed on the same stage. The medium of transmission does not matter. Analog is not less reliable than digital. In fact, it is probably more so. What counts is "Is the story plausible? And if so, is it believable? And if so, do I believe it? (Has it convinced me?) And if so, how does this change things?"

So there, you got something out of that question.

Hugo Pelland said...

Your confidence is the miraculous and the distinction you make between miracles and magic are, frankly, laughable. But what's worse is your answer to my question, or your non-answer I should say. Do you have any mechanism to present? Any way to explain what 'could' be a resurrection? Of course not. All you have are stories, in books.

Starhopper said...

Then I'm afraid I do not understand your question, since I thought I had answered it.

As to the "mechanism" behind the Resurrection, why cannot the Creator of "all things visible and invisible" and the Author of Life Himself rise from the dead? The way I see it, the proper question is not "How is such a thing possible?" but rather "How is it not possible?"

And I see nothing wrong with stories (a.k.a., narratives) in books as a class. There are reliable books and unreliable ones. To say "All you have are books" is like saying to a farmer "All you have are plants." Some may indeed be weeds, but others are his crop.

Hugo Pelland said...

No it's more like a farmer saying he grew pink pumpkins weighing 1 ton each, this year, because he carefully noted down his harvest every year prior to that one. Aren't we justified to ask for some explanations?

God did it is begging the question; there's no explanation at all as to how it could be done. If anything goes, if that god can do anything, then nothing was explained and everything is possible, but we're back to square 1, not knowing which stories to believe and why.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

Do you have any alternative plausible theories of the resurrection?

Merely stating you don't believe it is just assertion that tells us something about your mental state but nothing about the topic.

Hugo Pelland said...

Good question bmiller, though it's a bit vague. In general, my understanding is that there was a shift from something that was only dreamed, to believed to have literally happened. The writings of Paul seem to show that as a possibility. There are tons of other plausible explanations too... both for what may have been seen to what was actually believed to what was just pure fabrication for political purposes.

Starhopper said...

Thank you, bmiller. That's where the Resurrection deniers always lose it. I have yet, in all my 65 years of life heard a single plausible alternative explanation to "Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the morning of Easter Sunday, A.D. 33 - literally, physically, bodily, and historically."

Legion of Logic said...

A question to everyone: How plausible is the resurrection if you don't believe in the existence of any god or supernatural force, up to and including magic? Zero, one would assume.
Conversely, how plausible is the resurrection if you do believe in a supernatural entity or force, especially if that entity is God? Certainly more plausible than zero, at worst.

A question to Hugo: For argument's sake, let's say roughly 2000 years ago God raised a man from the dead and it was not only witnessed but predicted by that man. What evidence would you expect there to be for this event? What evidence would be sufficient for a 2000 year old event?

Hugo Pelland said...

Starhopper,
"I have yet, in all my 65 years of life heard a single plausible alternative explanation to "Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the morning of Easter Sunday, A.D. 33 - literally, physically, bodily, and historically.""
What a failure in imagination, creativity, critical thinking... there are literally dozens of possible explanations.

Legion,
I don't know. And it's a loaded question anyway. Why believe it's even possible?

bmiller said...

God did it is begging the question; there's no explanation at all as to how it could be done. If anything goes, if that god can do anything, then nothing was explained and everything is possible, but we're back to square 1, not knowing which stories to believe and why.

This is an interesting statement. From what I've seen, atheists ultimately end up with *nothing* as the cause of everything so anything can happen and there is no explanation for anything. They may claim "laws of nature" but no explanation why *these* laws and why regularity should be a feature of these laws. So from my perspective, it seems the atheists have no explanation for anything.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller, I have heard that a lot yes, but you're wrong. But you must have heard the responses too. Instead of repeating them, let me ask; Why are you ignoring them?

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

I don't ignore them. If you think that, you haven't been paying attention to my posts.

Try me.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller, you're right, I have not paid attention to your posts; not that I am ignoring you, just a general statement...

I was actually trying something a bit different. You made a claim: "atheists ultimately end up with *nothing* as the cause of everything so anything can happen and there is no explanation for anything. They may claim "laws of nature" but no explanation why *these* laws and why regularity should be a feature of these laws."
You have heard the responses to that claim; you confirmed that you don't ignore them.

So, what about you re-phrase them in your words and tell me why they are wrong?

bmiller said...

Good question bmiller, though it's a bit vague. In general, my understanding is that there was a shift from something that was only dreamed, to believed to have literally happened. The writings of Paul seem to show that as a possibility. There are tons of other plausible explanations too... both for what may have been seen to what was actually believed to what was just pure fabrication for political purposes.

The question wasn't vague, but your answer is. How did you come to the *understanding* that all these people had a dream? This is certainly not a commonly accepted scholarly opinion. As for the *tons* of other plausible explanations, you don't list them.

It appears you have formed your opinion without researching the present state of academic research.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

So, what about you re-phrase them in your words and tell me why they are wrong?

I have a better idea. Why don't you present *your argument* and we discuss that, rather than asking me to repeat my responses to all the irrational arguemnts I've ever heard.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
"It appears you have formed your opinion without researching the present state of academic research"
Most Christians, by far, have formed their opinion without researching anything at all. They were raised Christians. That's why my parents and sister are, still, Christians. So you actually hurt your cause a lot more than you help it by raising that point. Btw, that's why I don't judge believers as a whole, not at all; most people just don't know that the Gospels were anonymous for instance... right?

That being said, you are wrong. I find this topic interesting and I did read quite a bit about it. Nothing professional, I would never claim to be an expert, but enough to get a good sense of some plausible scenarios.
But the most important point is this: the tons of possible explanations do not even require a lot of research, if any. That's why Starhopper's comment on having never heard alternatives is baffling on so many levels. It just shows intellectual laziness and/or brainwashing and/or emotional attachment. The latest is the most common I would think, but I don't pretend to read minds, everybody is different.

So, if you're truly interested in discussing, prove it. I will ask you the same here: what are the alternatives and why are they impossible? Or at least just list some...

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
"I have a better idea. Why don't you present *your argument* and we discuss that, rather than asking me to repeat my responses to all the irrational arguemnts I've ever heard."
Ok, you're not interested in defending your faith. Not surprising. It's not me who's trying to convince you of anything here; I don't have arguments to present. I am asking you to defend your claim, and to address the rebuttals that you claim you have heard.

Starhopper said...

"That's why Starhopper's comment on having never heard alternatives is baffling on so many levels."

Re-read my comment. I did not say I had never heard of any alternatives. But I have never heard any plausible alternatives.

Here are just a few of the implausible alternative explanations I've come across:

The Apostles made the whole thing up - a baldfaced lie.
The Apostles suffered from a mass hallucination (something which does not exist, by the way)
The Apostles stole the body (see explanation number 1, above)
Jesus did not die on the Cross, He merely swooned.
Jesus never existed, and neither did the Apostles. It was all propaganda by/for an anti-Roman underground.
The Apostles (and the women) went to the wrong tomb.
Just for laughs, the Romans tricked the Apostles, and things got out of hand.
St. Paul made the whole thing up, and somehow managed to convince the Apostles of his account.
Wish fulfillment fantasy.
Bereavement syndrome.
The story grew and mutated as it was told and re-told.
Jesus had a twin brother.
Jesus was a space alien.
Jesus was (is) a time traveler.

So yeah, I've heard a full boatload of alternatives over the years. Not one of them manages to stand up to the least scrutiny.

But my all time favorite is, "They're just stories in books, and you can't possibly believe anything you read!"

Starhopper said...

"I don't have arguments to present."

Truer words were never written.

Hugo Pelland said...

Starhopper, some of these options are objectively more plausible than an actual magic, sorry miraculous, resurrection. The fact that you're emotional attached to one of the least likely option doesn't make it more likely to be true. I do applaud you for stating many of them though, even if you didn't list some of the most probable. I won't applaud your last snarky 1 liner though, but that's also not surprising, given you have nothing but faith to offer. Ridicule is a good side partner I suppose. I will try to use it more effectively.

Starhopper said...

Don't try it, Hugo. You're out of your league.

Hugo Pelland said...

Haha, true, I'm not used to insult people, especially not anonymous folks online who try to flatter their own ego to feel better

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: "I don't know. And it's a loaded question anyway. Why believe it's even possible?"

Because I'm not an atheist. Hence my first two questions to everyone - the starting foundation dictates likelihood in all secondary matters. It's not rational to be a Christian who thinks resurrection is impossible, for example.

But, if I was to engage an atheist on a subject, the discussion would require me to be open minded enough to at least consider their argument, rather than reject it as impossible for no other reason than not being an atheist. Dismissive assertions are also not helpful, as they contribute nothing.

I've used that tactic certainly, but always when I have no real interest in discussion. You've been active in this thread, so it's odd to me that a dismissive assertion is your position.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

I was honestly not being dismissive; I don't know what would constitute good evidence for the resurrection, and I don't even know why one would consider it possible. And you have to admit that there is no answer to this really, other than already existing beliefs. Most Christians, by far, just take it at face value. That's what I grew up with, and I was not stupid for thinking so, and I am not smarter for not thinking so today. It's just not something that many people think about. So again, it's not being dismissive; it's truly my position. I don't see why any of these miraculous things are even possible, let alone factually correct.

Starhopper said...

"I don't see why any of these miraculous things are even possible"

And there is your problem in a nutshell. If you reject out of hand, before even evaluating the evidence, that miracles are impossible, you will never objectively examine the very real evidence for their reality.

You apparently equate all Christians with dumb backwoods hicks who never got much ejukation, and who blindly accept whatever they are told. Now I don't know your family background, but let me assure you that that is a libelous caricature of what most believers are like. Even those who never went to school or thought deeply about the theological implications of their faith (I know many such) know well the difference between rational and irrational, and reject the latter. And when you come to the Great Minds of Christendom (e.g., St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dorothy Day, and Anthony Esolen) you'll find towering intellects who brook no nonsense, but instead take great pains to speak nothing but verifiable Truth. And more importantly, who walk the talk. Their lives speak more loudly than their words.

If you genuinely want to understand belief in the Resurrection, then forget theology or apologetics (and certainly forget all blogs). Instead, read up on St. Maximilian Kolbe or Daniel Berrigan, or (soon to be canonized) Archbishop Oscar Romero, or St. Therese of Lisieux. You'll find your answer there.

Hugo Pelland said...

Starhopper said...
"And there is your problem in a nutshell. If you reject out of hand, before even evaluating the evidence, that miracles are impossible, you will never objectively examine the very real evidence for their reality."
No, it's not about rejecting the evidence before evaluating it; it's about the evidence being so bad that it does not even hint at the possibility of the conclusions being true.

There are people who claim that miracles happen, tons and tons of them, but they are the ones who always assume, first, that miracles are possible as an explanation. It doesn't matter whether it's a claim of resurrection 2,000 years ago, or seeing a ghost in a haunted house yesterday. Upon inspection, we always find one of 2 things: the event can be explained naturally, or cannot be explained yet. The void of the latter is then filled with a miraculous claim, by some. Of course, I am oversimplifying and lumping together hundreds of claims, but the principle is more or less always the same.

"You apparently equate all Christians with dumb backwoods hicks who never got much ejukation"
I specifically said the opposite. Just now. Literally just now. Your emotions are showing again.

"Now I don't know your family background, but let me assure you that that is a libelous caricature of what most believers are like"
Anecdotal... we can't know for sure whether people think twice about their religious upbringing. Or even worse, do you really think that people 'could' think about their religion until very recently? In many parts of the world, and especially with some stricter religions like Islam, most people cannot even do that, right now; they are literally not able to consider alternatives. And in modern countries today, many people, perhaps most people, just go with the flow, and I don't blame them for it. They are not stupid, they mostly just don't care, because it was very little to do with the day-to-day lives. As I said, it's anecdotal, but it goes in every direction and neither of us can read their minds.

"If you genuinely want to understand belief in the Resurrection,"
No, I don't. I told you already. Because this is so far from reality; so far from what's true. My interest in these conversations is so remote from the resurrection; you really have no clue what I think... It's not surprising, you have never known anything else. You did not have the internet in your 20s, or 30s, or 40s... You could not process information as quickly as we can today. It does not make you dumb; you're just wrong on some details, tiny details honestly, but they make you see an entire slice of history & reality the wrong way, and it affects your beliefs to this day. The mere thought of contemplating a different approach from the ground up, after 65 years as you said, must be terrifying.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

Ok, you're not interested in defending your faith. Not surprising. It's not me who's trying to convince you of anything here; I don't have arguments to present. I am asking you to defend your claim, and to address the rebuttals that you claim you have heard.

No, I'm not interested in being sent on a fool's errand by someone who is incapable of engaging in an argument of their own. I'm also not trying to *convince* an irrational person of anything. I just like to point out how they are being irrational. Hint hint.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

That being said, you are wrong. I find this topic interesting and I did read quite a bit about it. Nothing professional, I would never claim to be an expert, but enough to get a good sense of some plausible scenarios.

Then demonstrate that knowledge. For instance you explicitly mentioned this:
In general, my understanding is that there was a shift from something that was only dreamed, to believed to have literally happened. The writings of Paul seem to show that as a possibility.

Are you saying that 11 men and the women that were with them all had the same dream of Jesus after the resurection (multiple times) where each of them were within each other's dream interacting with each other and Jesus and all woke up (each time) with the same story from their own perspective? Kind of sounds like the movie Inception. Maybe you can explain to me how this happens.

Hugo Pelland said...

@bmiller,

Here's what you might not understand: your religion is not important, nor useful, nor relevant much, well expect for the fact that a lot of people follow it... So that's why I am not trying to defend anything here. You are on the side that is making claims, for that specific topic. I am just here waiting to hear why I should care or, even better, why I should believe. But I don't even see reasons to want to listen more than just as an occasional distraction, as a hobby. What's strange is that, for the strong believers, it should be a lot more than that, no? Don't you have a responsibility to save unbelievers, if that's what you believe?

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller said:
"Are you saying that 11 men and the women that were with them all had the same dream of Jesus after the resurection (multiple times) where each of them were within each other's dream interacting with each other and Jesus and all woke up (each time) with the same story from their own perspective? Kind of sounds like the movie Inception. Maybe you can explain to me how this happens."
LOL, no I don't believe that... seriously, you're not even trying. There are so many other options. Humans are not that simple. Oh well, nevermind I guess...

Starhopper said...

"No, I don't want to understand belief in the Resurrection."

OK. I am so glad you made that clear. Call back when your mind is open. Until then, I will no longer waste any time interacting with a stone.

You may have the last word.

Live long and prosper.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

Here's what you might not understand: your religion is not important, nor useful, nor relevant much, well expect for the fact that a lot of people follow it... So that's why I am not trying to defend anything here

Well you apparently cannot defend anything you assert so it's pretty clear to me you don't try.

Don't you have a responsibility to save unbelievers, if that's what you believe?

No actually. Where did you get that idea? Believers are only obligated to tell the truth. You can believe any old thing irrational thing you want. As you apparently do.

Hugo Pelland said...

Sounds good guys. No hurt feelings, I hope... Take care!

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

LOL, no I don't believe that... seriously, you're not even trying. There are so many other options. Humans are not that simple. Oh well, nevermind I guess...

I guess I was right about your inability to defend your assertions. The only time you've attempted to give any *reason* for your opinions you disengage when the discussion starts.

FYI. Assertions are not logical arguments.

John Mitchell said...

Is 'Starhopper' Bob Prokop?

Starhopper said...

Yeah. My old e-mail account got hacked some time ago, and I no longer trusted anything associated with it. Bought a new laptop, changed all my passwords, cancelled my credit cards and got replacement ones with new account numbers, added extra security to my bank account, created new online entities and opened a new blog. Overkill perhaps, but I felt safer after doing so.

Shameless self-promotion here, but the posting entitled "And now for something a little different" is (at least in my opinion) worth reading.

John Mitchell said...

Yeah, i saw that blog and was almost sure

bmiller said...

The most common atheist argument against the resurrection rests on David Hume's argument against miracles which is an a priori argument that not only assumes it's conclusion in it's premises but misunderstood how probablities are to be calculated. He failed to use the mathematical tools that were availble to him even in his day.

This book, by an agnostic, states the case. It does cost money, and it does get into somewhat complicated mathematics, but it also provides the contemporary counter-arguments which most people are unaware of.

Cheers.

Starhopper said...

That's basically Hugo's argument. "you cannot possibly explain why ... There is no way for you to justify ... Why believe it's even possible? ... I don't even know why one would consider it possible ... I don't want to understand belief in the Resurrection ... this is so far from reality; so far from what's true"

Classic example of begging the question (in the correct usage of the term).

bmiller said...

@Starhopper,


Any idea who hacked your account? Nigerian prince, Russians, CIA? :-)

Starhopper said...

No idea. I shut it down within minutes of getting near-simultaneous phone calls from the security departments of MasterCard, American Express, and my credit union. I terminated with extreme prejudice every online presence I could think of as rapidly as possible, and the damage was contained.

One IT security professional I spoke with believes they got to me through my (now extinct) hotmail account, and through my own stupidity of using the same password for multiple accounts. No excuse for that on my part. As a one-time NSA intelligence analyst, I know all too well the super scary stuff that bad guys can do online if they're really determined.

bmiller said...

AHA! Someone from your dark past from the NSA strikes back :-)

Hugo Pelland said...

So much for being done Starhopper, aka Bob...

Let me repeat what you guys don't understand... But first, what's the context of the thread? Some skeptics claim the apostle weren't really martyred. My response was to point out that it's more about whether their martyrdom implies them being right. I have never heard of someone claiming they weren't persecuted or weren't sincere actually, but it's possible. Then, the "discussion" continued with some back-and-forth on multiple fronts, which I personally don't claim much about; I don't know whether I sounded like I was making assertions, given that I am not trying to. What I do say quite firmly is that there is literally no reason to care about such claims as the resurrection, unless someone wants to convince me otherwise. But that will not happen of course, because nobody here even tries to justify anything nor even understand thr objections. Your beliefs in these few specific claims is so deeply rooted that you despise the thought of questioning them, let alone build justifications from the ground up.

In other words, it's not that I am asserting the resurrection didn't happen, it's not thar I am asserting there is no god more generally; it's about something much more basic. Given where we are now, given what we know about reality today, why should I even consider these uniquely Christian beliefs?

Starhopper said...

"you despise the thought of questioning [what you believe] ... why should I even consider these uniquely Christian beliefs?"

And you find nothing bizarre about the juxtaposition of those two statements?

Hugo, not only have I questioned my beliefs, I've run them through the wringer. I have over the years quite seriously considered Islam, Daoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, and yes, atheism. I have read their foundational texts and their most eloquent defenders. I have pondered their cultures and meditated on their art, architecture, and music. I have weighed their claims in the balance, adopting their strong points and rejecting what couldn't stand scrutiny.

In fact, some years ago I in all honesty put the question to myself: If Christianity were PROVEN to be false, what would I become? I eventually decided it would be a tie between converting to Hinduism or Daoism (there is so much admirable about both of them). Bottom of the list? All the cults. Next to the bottom? Atheism.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

The problem is that refuse to provide any arguments. You've only made claims then you demand others disprove your unsupported claims.

I don't know whether I sounded like I was making assertions, given that I am not trying to.

OK, here you think you are not making any assertions.

What I do say quite firmly is that there is literally no reason to care about such claims as the resurrection, unless someone wants to convince me otherwise.

But this just is an assertion. Don't you even know what an assertion even is?
There is "literally no reason" to take you seriously since you offer no reasons for your assertions. Then you make the childish demand that others convince you otherwise.

But that will not happen of course, because nobody here even tries to justify anything nor even understand thr objections

This is funny. The guy who only offers assertions without explanations complains that no one trys to understand his baseless assertions and *then* blames his opponents for not justifying anything (which again is yet another baseless assertion).

Given where we are now, given what we know about reality today, why should I even consider these uniquely Christian beliefs?

Who is this we you are talking about? Why should anyone assume *your* irrational view of reality is true? Making unsupported assertions is not making a *rational* argument, so if that's your idea of reality, it's an irrational view.

Hugo Pelland said...

Hello Starhopper and bmiller, and sorry for the delay...

bmiller said:
"The problem is that refuse to provide any arguments. You've only made claims then you demand others disprove your unsupported claims."

I am not here to provide arguments. Let's not forget: this is a blog in support of the Argument from Reason for the existence of God. A lot more is covered, such as this thread on the apostles, but the point is that I am mostly replying to claims, not making them. But I am happy to defend claims, when I make them. I don't know which ones you are talking about, even after saying that a few times.

Here there was a bad example:
"What I do say quite firmly is that there is literally no reason to care about such claims as the resurrection, unless someone wants to convince me otherwise.

But this just is an assertion. Don't you even know what an assertion even is?
There is "literally no reason" to take you seriously since you offer no reasons for your assertions. Then you make the childish demand that others convince you otherwise.
"
This is not an assertion; it's just my opinion. I could have just added ' that there is literally no reason for me to care'. And you have this backward... I am not making demands, I am wondering why I should care about your beliefs specifically.

Let me give you a counter example. I really care about astrophysics and everything we can learn from it. I even got a tattoo on my shoulder, the best wedding gift ever, of the Crab nebula, the remnant of a supernova explosion. Why? Not only because I find it pretty, but also because of the meaning. It represents the fact that the atoms in our body, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon, everywhere, came from stars that exploded. We can literally trace these atoms from the stars to us. That's the kind of assertions I would defend, explain, try to convince others to believe. This is the stuff I care about, what I think matters, what I think is true and meaningful in many ways. It doesn't remove anything from anything else; it's just one topic. But the point is that I would defend that to no end, but I am not doing any of that here. It's the other way around...

" The guy who only offers assertions without explanations complains that no one trys to understand his baseless assertions and *then* blames his opponents for not justifying anything (which again is yet another baseless assertion). "

And all you do is write stuff like that. You don't even try to justify your position, on anything. You did not even understand the sentence you were replying to: " nobody here even tries to justify anything nor even understand thr objections". You just did the same, that's all you do. You are on the side that's making assertions, making claims, and I am either saying that I don't believe them, and I can explain why, or I am opposing them directly, but you also don't address that. The example above of you saying that 'Atheists had no explanation for anything' was probably the best example. I told you that you must know what the response would be; you refused to address it, you just want me to tell you more. But you're the one who made a stupid statement, something you know is false, something you said you know is inaccurate. Well no, of course not, you don't know it's inaccurate, you just said you think you understand...

Hugo Pelland said...

" Given where we are now, given what we know about reality today, why should I even consider these uniquely Christian beliefs?

Who is this we you are talking about? Why should anyone assume *your* irrational view of reality is true? Making unsupported assertions is not making a *rational* argument, so if that's your idea of reality, it's an irrational view.
"

That's a flaw with the English language, there is no concept of a collective 'we' like we have in French with the word 'on'. It was just a statement about what 'we', as a generic whole, know about. Again, it was simplified so you missed the subtle points in the question. The point is that I am asking about what kind of common grounds can we start from to build these specific beliefs in Christianity? What kind of facts do we all agree on, to start with, can we use to build arguments about the resurrection, for example? Or for anything else that you would care to defend... but the problem is that it's not clear whether you would care to defend anything at all, nor whether we would find these common grounds to stand on to even start a discussion. In other words, I know it won't happen!

Which brings me to Starhopper's quote, and why it made more sense to reply second:

" I have over the years quite seriously considered Islam, Daoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, and yes, atheism. I have read their foundational texts and their most eloquent defenders. I have pondered their cultures and meditated on their art, architecture, and music. I have weighed their claims in the balance, adopting their strong points and rejecting what couldn't stand scrutiny.
[...]
it would be a tie between converting to Hinduism or Daoism (there is so much admirable about both of them). Bottom of the list? All the cults. Next to the bottom? Atheism.
"

This is telling because there is only a little bit of a sliver of rationality here, in the attempt to weigh the claims. That's great. But the rest is utter nonsense! This shows a propensity to lump in together these entire belief systems and judge them on how they fell, to you, as a person. It means nothing when it comes to evaluating the truthfulness of the claims, it means nothing when it comes to figure out what's a good representation of reality and, more importantly, it means nothing when it comes to using a ground-up approach to come up with the best theories we can find.

Plus, to make it worse, lumping Atheism in there shows that you are literally lying. You cannot have possibly considered Atheism the same way you would for religions; it makes absolutely no sense to speak of it that way. It's like someone saying they were wondering what kind of country to visit, and then decided that visiting no country is not good because the food there is bad, or the people are not nice; you're not talking about any country!

This is in complete opposition to how I approach my worldview, which cannot possibly have any of these large labels, because to me what matters is what we can find out, for each individual topic we want to talk about. These labels of atheism, Daoism, Hinduism, even Christianity, are not really useful. That's why I am asking why you guys think they matter, or just tell me they don't...

Starhopper said...

"You cannot have possibly considered Atheism the same way you would for religions"

Really? Why not? That's exactly how I considered it.

Hugo Pelland said...

It's not a set of statements. You're either lying or extremely confused. Well, I know you're not lying actually so...

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: "What kind of facts do we all agree on"

These days it's getting pretty difficult to achieve this.


Hugo: "You cannot have possibly considered Atheism the same way you would for religions; it makes absolutely no sense to speak of it that way."

At some point in the past I got tired of trying to pin atheists down on what they believe, and not simply what they don't believe, so I tend to use the word "atheist" like a bludgeon to describe all shades (exception being the difference between atheists and anti-theists). But "atheism" is not the appropriate term for what Starhopper is actually talking about, but rather the various forms of naturalism which hold as positive beliefs that there are no gods. Many atheists try to squirm out of committing to naturalism by claiming a position of "I simply lack belief in God", but the entirety of the New Atheist movement, I would wager, believes that there are no gods (I would not call someone delusional for seeing pink elephants in his living room unless I believed there were no pink elephants). Naturalists believe there are no gods. And I'm not a theist, I simply lack belief in naturalistic explanations!

Naturalism is quite appropriate to consider among the ranks of Christianity, Hinduism, and other belief systems. It entails that there must be a natural explanation for everything, including existence itself. And in the big questions, I find naturalism to be a failure. God simply makes far more sense than mindless physical forces that just happen to exist with the properties they possess because reasons. That's why, like Starhopper, if I was to for some reason abandon Christianity, every single theistic or deistic belief system would be explored before I'd consider naturalism as a viable option, and I'd probably stop at "unknown deity with unknown or nonexistent intent" before I'd settle on naturalism. That's just how things appear to me.




Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,
"These days it's getting pretty difficult to achieve this."

Well I think I know what you mean; in US politics for instance it's been terrible recently... But in general, to make timeless statements about the nature of reality, it's not that difficult.

"the various forms of naturalism which hold as positive beliefs that there are no gods. Many atheists try to squirm out of committing to naturalism by claiming a position of "I simply lack belief in God""

I am mostly with you here, but the problem is that there is no reason to commit, or not, to a strong negative position about something. It's fine to say, 'we don't know', when that's the only rational thing to say. However, that's is not what you do, when you add:

"there must be a natural explanation for everything, including existence itself. And in the big questions, I find naturalism to be a failure. God simply makes far more sense than mindless physical forces that just happen to exist with the properties they possess because reasons"

The only rational answer is 'we don't know'. It's not wrong to say that God makes more sense to you, as a matter of opinion, but it's not disproving Naturalism and it's certainly not putting the burden on the Naturalist side to prove anything here. But that's exactly what you are implying when you say that Naturalism is a failure. It is not; it's just not able to answer every single question.

But it's worse than that, as concepts such as God don't explain anything either. Again, they feel satisfying to you, and billons of people, but they actually leave just as many questions, if not more, unanswered.

The god hypothesis offers no mechanism, just that God can do anything possible, offers no explanations as to the origin of God, God just is, offers no justification for why things are the way they are, God just works in mysterious ways, etc...

" I'd probably stop at "unknown deity with unknown or nonexistent intent" before I'd settle on naturalism. That's just how things appear to me."

That's fair, as it's clearly an opinion, not a statement of facts as to what has to be the answer. But why add that superfluous unexplainable hypothesis? Does it make you feel better, more hopeful, less sad regarding the possibility that our existence is meaningless on its own? I personally prefer 'I don't know' and value our existence with relation to each other, as human beings...

Starhopper said...

Thank you, Logic. You expressed it better than I had. The idea that the universe "just is" without a Creator makes no sense to me. I did consider the idea (and quite honestly so) but almost immediately ran into such a nest of contradictions and incoherencies, that the idea of God's non-existence appeared to be the least likely of all possible realities.

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: "it's not disproving Naturalism and it's certainly not putting the burden on the Naturalist side to prove anything here"

That's true, up until the point I get an atheist telling me that belief in God is unreasonable. If an atheist wants me to be an atheist, he's wasting his time if he's trying to debunk Christianity. He needs to make a case as to how naturalism makes more sense, otherwise he's like a Coke lover demanding I stop drinking Pepsi because it's unhealthy.

"We don't know" is the literal true answer, but I don't think it's the only rational answer. If the subset of explanations with a strong possibility to be true (after consideration) was narrowed down to naturalism and Christianity, there are incalculable implications for one being true over the other. If someone finds a strong case for Christianity to be true, is the rational answer to ignore those implications? I certainly don't think so. If I suspected that there was a black widow spider inside my water meter access, saying "I don't know" and shoving my hand in there like there isn't one is not the rational response. When in doubt and with one's own wellbeing in mind, the rational response is going with the safe bet, correct?

bmiller said...

@Hugo,


I am not here to provide arguments.

Good thing since all you have provided are assertions without reasons.

Let's not forget: this is a blog in support of the Argument from Reason for the existence of God. A lot more is covered, such as this thread on the apostles, but the point is that I am mostly replying to claims, not making them.

1. Of course you have been making claims. Specifically that the resurrection is unbelievable.

But I am happy to defend claims, when I make them. I don't know which ones you are talking about, even after saying that a few times.

2. Then defend your claim that the resurrection is unbelievable. I've pointed out the fact that Hume's arguement is fallacious and provided a link to a book that discusses it with an emphasis on probablility calculus. It appears to me that your position is pretty much the same as Hume's. Basically, "Miracles are unlikely because miracles are unlikely".

And all you do is write stuff like that. You don't even try to justify your position, on anything. You did not even understand the sentence you were replying to: " nobody here even tries to justify anything nor even understand thr objections".
You just did the same, that's all you do. You are on the side that's making assertions, making claims, and I am either saying that I don't believe them, and I can explain why, or I am opposing them directly, but you also don't address that. The example above of you saying that 'Atheists had no explanation for anything' was probably the best example. I told you that you must know what the response would be; you refused to address it, you just want me to tell you more. But you're the one who made a stupid statement, something you know is false, something you said you know is inaccurate. Well no, of course not, you don't know it's inaccurate, you just said you think you understand...


3. What a bunch on nonsense. It's true you say that you don't believe in the resurrection, but it's not true that you ever tried to engage in why you believe the way you do. Starhopper gave you a long list of common objections he was willing to discuss and you refused to discuss any of them.

I've asked you specifically for your "tons" of alternate explanations but you only offered one and then refused to defend it. Then you claim "or I am opposing them directly, but you also don't address that". You owe me an explanation.

You also owe me an explanation for why you misquoted me in the section above.

I told you that you must know what the response would be; you refused to address it, you just want me to tell you more.

Yes, and I told you I would be happy to have a discussion with you about your particular argument rather than rehash all the varieties of irrational arguments I've heard from atheists. I have no idea what's going on in your head when you say things like "I told you that you must know what the response would be". I've heard all sorts of irrational arguments including the one you're employing now by pretending to read my mind.

But you're the one who made a stupid statement, something you know is false, something you said you know is inaccurate

You must think you're good at mind reading. You're not.

Why don't *you* tell me the response *you* think I must know rather than trying to play some silly guessing game.
I've read your posts before and from what you've claimed, you are guided by reason and prefer dialectic discussions to the rhetorical. I'm now considering that I was mistaken. You're making a ham-fisted and obvious play at shifting the burden of proof so you won't have to defend your position. Please reread #2 in this post if you think I haven't provided any justification for my position.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

This is what you originally wrote:
Given where we are now, given what we know about reality today, why should I even consider these uniquely Christian beliefs?

The point is that I am asking about what kind of common grounds can we start from to build these specific beliefs in Christianity? What kind of facts do we all agree on, to start with, can we use to build arguments about the resurrection, for example? Or for anything else that you would care to defend... but the problem is that it's not clear whether you would care to defend anything at all, nor whether we would find these common grounds to stand on to even start a discussion. In other words, I know it won't happen!

OK. When I read your first quote above, it implies that *we* know reality rules out "these uniquely Christian beliefs". If you actually meant what you wrote in the second quote, you need to be more careful in the wording you choose.

Let me ignore your snark and mind-reading for now.

I think you will agree with me that root of the disagreement centers on whether God exists or not. And not only that, but the God of Christianity and not the God of the Deists. Deism became popular after the pre-moderns proposed the mechanical philosophy.

This philosophy considered the universe as a giant mechanism (like the little machines they were creating at the time). The god of Deism set the machine in motion and let it go without any further concern or care. Everything was deterministic since the laws of the god of Deism did not change and he did not interfere with his creation. Since everything was deterministic, they concluded that they could use mathematics and the *laws* of phyics to predict the future and discover the past in every detail. Planets had no choice but to orbit the sun and men had no choice in what they did. Since *everything* was determined, there is no choice for anything or anyone and so no miracles since the god of Deism doesn't interfere. Later thinkers discarded the god of Deism altogther. I suspect that you have imbibed in the later versions of this tradition.

The God of Christianity is not the god of Deism and is intimately involved in the very existence of everything at every moment. So it is reasonable that the God of Christianity not only can be involved in His creation, but is involved at every moment including the Resurrection.

But of course Deism and it's follow-ons are merely one strain of variety of denial of the God of Christianity. I wonder if you understand now why it's unreasonable for you to ask me to list all the varieties of arguments I've heard and why I think they are all wrong. There are books for that.

If you are sincere about seeking the truth, here is a recent book that lays out 5 arguments for the existence of God.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
I hate when people do failed mind reading, so it was certainly not my intention to do it myself. I fail to see where you think I did so but my apologies for making you perceive it that way; it means I did not express myself correctly for sure.

You said:
"1. Of course you have been making claims. Specifically that the resurrection is unbelievable."
That's not a claim; that's my opinion.
"It appears to me that your position is [...] Basically, "Miracles are unlikely because miracles are unlikely""
It's less than unlikely, I don't see why it's even possible. And I don't need to prove it's impossible; it has not been established that it is possible. That's the same principle as the 2 claims under the comment addressed to Legion. To be more specific, I don't think that any event is possible, by default, and it seems to me that this is exactly what is implied, even if it's not on purpose, by theistic argument.

What you don't seem to realize is that you're doing the same: miracles are possible because miracles are possible. But why? Is anything possible by default? If yes, well, that's weird... if no, then, why miracles?

" I've asked you specifically for your "tons" of alternate explanations but you only offered one and then refused to defend it. Then you claim "or I am opposing them directly, but you also don't address that". You owe me an explanation."

Do you agree that the alternative I offered is possible? If yes, I am done with my "argument" because I only claim that there are alternatives, not that one of them is necessarily correct, so it's not much of an argument...

But you are not done, because you believe (well I hope I got that one correct...) that there is 1 specific scenario that is true: Jesus was literally dead, then literally resurrected. That's a scenario that I don't even consider possible, given that there is no justification for such events to be possible in the first place. It's not like resurections happen once a year and Jesus was one of these. So why believe that scenario over the alternatives?

And to be fair, I don't expect you to have detailed reasons to; it's pretty obvious to me that it just feels right, that it just makes more sense to you, that it's an act of faith. That's fine! It's actually honest, more than claiming there are actual evidence that make it a real historical event.

"OK. When I read your first quote above, it implies that *we* know reality rules out "these uniquely Christian beliefs". If you actually meant what you wrote in the second quote, you need to be more careful in the wording you choose."
Ya I didn't mean to imply that reality rules out Christian beliefs by default; I certainly don't think that. So it's fair to say that my wording needs to be more careful! Totally agree. But I have to say that I don't have that much time for these conversations so it's never going to be crystal clear or devoid of typos... which brings me to:

"I think you will agree with me that root of the disagreement centers on whether God exists or not. "
I am not so sure actually. It might be more about what we can know, or not, about the natural of our universe and how it works. If we were to agree on that, then it would be irrelevant to me whether you believe God exists or not, because it's not something I find that relevant in general.

"If you are sincere about seeking the truth, here is a recent book that lays out 5 arguments for the existence of God."
Sorry but, because I am sincere about seeking the truth, that kind of book is not on my list of things to read...

Hugo Pelland said...

p.s. To be clear, regarding the book... I prefer to talk to people about it. There are books on everything, from every angle, and for that topic I don't find it useful anymore to read arguments as it's just too easy to find something we agree with. It's much harder to come up with our own explanations. So I read neither Atheists nor Theists arguments in writing like that.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

When I read your comment, I was thinking that this makes a lot of sense, but then when I get to the details, I realize that there are a lot we either disagree on or that you have not accurately described...

"...belief in God is unreasonable."
It is unreasonable, as in there is no logical reasons to believe in God. It's not stupid or absurd; there are lots of "good" reasons that are personal in nature, but it's not based in reason and logic. That's why the topic of this blog is interesting as it attempts to give such reason and I can certainly appreciate the effort, but it falls short of succeeding.

"He needs to make a case as to how naturalism makes more sense, otherwise he's like a Coke lover demanding I stop drinking Pepsi because it's unhealthy. "
That's not logically sound. A Coke lover and a Pepsi lover are like 2 Theists arguing. The Atheist is the one saying that drinking too much sugar is bad, regardless of what the Atheist decides to drink, or not. Therefore, there is no reason to try to explain how Naturalism, as in "there is no god", makes more sense.

It's even more obvious if we write down the statements:
1) God exists
2) God does not exist
The two statements are mutually exclusive and includes all logically possible option. Therefore, one of them must be true. However, if someone is trying to prove 1) to be correct, the rebuttal does not need to support the fact that 2) is correct. It goes back to simply not knowing which one is correct... To that point, you said:
""We don't know" is the literal true answer "
and that's great, since it's an example of a common ground, which I was asking about. But as you correctly said, we need not stop there in some cases:
" If someone finds a strong case for Christianity to be true, is the rational answer to ignore those implications? I certainly don't think so "
...and the same can be said for God not existing. We know how religions came to be, we know why people believed in them in the first place, and we know what they were wrong about. It still doesn't mean that there is necessarily no god at all, but it means we know that it's not some simplistic humanoid that created the world 6,000 years ago, to give just 1 silly example.

So what do we know? Well, I gave one example already: I know the atoms in my body came from stars that explode. I know these atoms are billions of years old. I know the natural forces, physical-chemical-biological forces, that were involved to get them in my body. I know that much before that, all of the visible universe around us was so tiny and compact that atoms could not even form, etc.. etc... etc...

But before that, I don't know, and I don't even know whether 'before' makes sense. So what is the rational response? What is the safe bet? A God? But why? I see no reason to... but I keep asking.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

It's less than unlikely, I don't see why it's even possible. ...even if it's not on purpose, by theistic argument.

You have an opinion on what is possible and what is impossible. How did you form that opinion? On what basis?

What you don't seem to realize is that you're doing the same: miracles are possible because miracles are possible. But why? Is anything possible by default? If yes, well, that's weird... if no, then, why miracles?

No, that is not what I'm doing. I have told you why I think miracles are possible. Or do you not understand what I wrote?

Do you agree that the alternative I offered is possible? ...so it's not much of an argument...

There are an unlimited number of wrong and/or irrational possibilities. That is actually your position? You're right it's not an argument nor is it rational thinking.

That's a scenario that I don't even consider possible, given that there is no justification for such events to be possible in the first place. It's not like resurections happen once a year and Jesus was one of these.

Why do you consider it not possible in the first place? You say there is no justification, but you'll have to unpack that for me because I'm pretty sure you've heard the arguments for the resurrection. Is it that this is a one time event, and so it is improbable? How would you calculate the odds of any one time event? Especially one that involves an intelligent agent? I don't think you've taken any probability and statistic courses have you?

bmiller said...

And to be fair,...; it's pretty obvious to me that it just feels right, that it just makes more sense to you, that it's an act of faith. That's fine! It's actually honest, more than claiming there are actual evidence that make it a real historical event.

Now you also know how I *feel*. How quaint. But what does feeling have anything to with making sense. I think (not feel) you are confused and perhaps you make decisions on feelings. That doesn't mean other people do. Maybe this explains why you don't even *try* to use reason and logic.

I am not so sure actually. It might be more about what we can know, or not, about the natural of our universe and how it works. ....

You agree that the universe is intelligible and things in the universe change and move right?

"Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover. This we call God. If it is moved, it is moved by another mover. We must, consequently, either proceed to infinity, or we must arrive at some unmoved mover. Now, it is not possible to proceed to infinity. Hence, we must posit some prime unmoved mover."

So observation and reason lead us to the conclusion that God exists.

Quick Quiz: Could the same person have written both of these statements?
Sorry but, because I am sincere about seeking the truth, that kind of book is not on my list of things to read...

"The mere thought of contemplating a different approach from the ground up, after 65 years as you said, must be terrifying."

If I had been expecting a rational discussion I would have found this surprising.

p.s. To be clear, regarding the book... I prefer to talk to people about it. There are books on everything, from every angle, and for that topic I don't find it useful anymore to read arguments as it's just too easy to find something we agree with. It's much harder to come up with our own explanations. So I read neither Atheists nor Theists arguments in writing like that.

I think you were sincere in the first statement about not being interested in hearing the arguments and insincere in the second. Finally a bit of honesty if even inadvertently. You don't want to "talk to people about it". You don't want "to come up with our own explanations". You're just here to troll.

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: "it's not based in reason and logic"

I'd be curious to see a counter belief that is. If it is an atheistic alternative, I have yet to see this demonstrated.


Hugo: "That's not logically sound."

It is, because I'm only talking about those many atheists who have tried to "de-convert" me in order to create another atheist. Not just to make me not a Christian, but to make me an atheist. And as I said above, "If an atheist wants me to be an atheist..." which is different than "If an atheist doesn't want me to be a Christian". The latter is a move away from a position, while the former is a move INTO a specific position.

At that point, he's got himself a can of soda sitting in front of him, and he'd better be able to demonstrate that his soda is better than mine, because Pepsi tastes really, really good. If he just for whatever reason enjoys debating the merits of Christianity and isn't trying to sell something, then I would agree with you - the truth of any other belief is irrelevant.

And yes, both Christianity and naturalism could be false even if the atheist is trying to convert me to atheism, and the incoherence of naturalism would not make Christianity true. From a practical standpoint, I've a finite mind with finite time, and I've only studied a handful of belief systems (various forms of Christianity, Islam, some Taoism, a smattering of pagan writings, and several prominent atheists), but Christianity looks to be the best of the group and it has served me quite well. I'm too tired and cranky these days to bother with apologetics as a hobby, but I'm quite willing to hear alternatives since I enjoy learning. I'm simply not interested in defending Christianity - much smarter and more knowledgeable people have done that and continue to do so - so the only real path to my atheistic self is by demonstrating the strength of whichever atheist position is being presented.





Hugo Pelland said...

Legion said:
"Hugo: "it's not based in reason and logic"

I'd be curious to see a counter belief that is. If it is an atheistic alternative, I have yet to see this demonstrated.


Hugo: "That's not logically sound."

It is, because I'm only talking about those many atheists"

This is what you started with. Read it again. What here is not "show me your argument, I'm right until you do so" ?

How many times do I need to say that we're on a Theist blog. Theists present; others reply. Saying you're right until the other side proves they're right is not supporting your position.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion said :
"It is, because I'm only talking about those many atheists who..."

Why are you talking to me about other Atheists? We are 80 comments deep, almost nobody else will read this...

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion said:
"...then I would agree with you - the truth of any other belief is irrelevant.

And yes, both Christianity and naturalism could be false even if the atheist is..."

Well, agreed for 2 sentences, then again with some hypothetical atheist

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion said:
"and I've only studied a handful of belief systems
...
I'm too tired and cranky these days to bother with apologetics as a hobby, but I'm quite willing to hear alternatives since I enjoy learning.
...
so the only real path to my atheistic self is by demonstrating the strength of whichever atheist position is being presented."

Ok, so we're in the same boat then. I also don't have time to prove all my beliefs. I am not here to convince anyone. It's a Christian run blog, I'm learning about that side. But it's... well... bad. Nothing convincing, nothing new, kind of done with it.

So, on the other hand, what should you do Legion? Well, the problem is in that quote. It's not about learning about belief systems, and certainly NOT about learning about Atheism. There's not much there.

It's about what's true. Just learn about as much facts as possible. About everything. Every topic, every timeline, every angle...

Atheism isn't there, because it's not important. But it's more likely.

bmiller said...

Well it's pretty conclusive now.

Hugo is a typical New Atheist using a typical New Atheist technique to troll. He is here only to make assertions and shift the burden of proof to his opponents.

But it seems he's a even more inept New Atheist than most since all he can do is stick his fingers in his ears and chant "atheism is more likely".

Here he dishonestly claims he is here because "It's a Christian run blog, I'm learning about that side. But it's... well... bad. Nothing convincing, nothing new, kind of done with it."

No one forced him to read anything here. No one forced him to post anything here. He has shown he is not interested in discussing any argument for theism nor will he defend any argument for atheism. He is only here to tell people "how messed up" they are.

If you are *really* "done with it" goodbye. You claim to have nothing to learn and you've certainly added nothing.



One Brow said...

If you are sincere about seeking the truth, here is a recent book that lays out 5 arguments for the existence of God.

Aquinas' arguments, and Feser's presentation of them, do not hold up to careful scrutiny. I did a careful reading of Feser's The Last Superstition, which included the basic presentation of those arguments, and wrote a series of posts on them.

Legion of Logic said...

I won't criticize Hugo for not being interested in playing defense, as I lost interest in the same years ago unless I'm in person with someone I know. But it's also a futile discussion to have two people of that mindset encounter one another haha.

bmiller said...

@One Brow,

Different book, different arguments.
However both require the ability to think rationally.

bmiller said...

@Legion,

I won't criticize Hugo for not being interested in playing defense,

I will.
It's one thing to ask questions to learn about another's position but another to merely fold your arms and chant that their position is wrong.

But it's also a futile discussion to have two people of that mindset encounter one another haha.

I hope you don't post on atheist blogs and merely chant that they are wrong over and over.

Legion of Logic said...

I don't post on atheist blogs unless I want to get flamed and see how collectively petty a community can get.

Starhopper said...

What confuses me about Hugo is that he flat out admits that he's not interested in learning the truth, yet he still lurks around what he terms Christian websites. He'll ask for an argument, yet when you point him toward one, he'll say it's too much of an effort. Heck, he wouldn't even watch a video I recommended - something a lot easier (and more entertaining) than reading a book. What gives here?

bmiller said...

@Legion,

I don't post on atheist blogs unless I want to get flamed and see how collectively petty a community can get.

Haha! Yeah, that's not a topic I'm too interested in either.

bmiller said...

@Starhopper,

What gives here?

You were probably expecting intelligence or honesty.

Starhopper said...

Que the "Where's all the Christian Love I'm supposed to be getting from you guys? Wah, wah, wah..."

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller said...
"You were probably expecting intelligence or honesty."
Wow, seriously, do you really have to go that low?

Hugo Pelland said...

Starhopper said...
"Que the "Where's all the Christian Love I'm supposed to be getting from you guys? Wah, wah, wah...""
How mature... you guys are great!

bmiller said...

If you truly love people you will tell them the truth.
What they do with it is up to them.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller, but don't you see the irony after Legion said he doesn't "post on atheist blogs unless I want to get flamed and see how collectively petty a community can get." ?

bmiller said...

I hope you don't post on atheist blogs and merely chant that they are wrong over and over.

If he did that, he would deserve to be flamed.
You being a troll, deserve to be ignored.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
You're not great at ignoring... but B+ for the flaming, insults, whining, emotional reactions, and non-answers though.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,
So, before that distraction, I was about to reply back to that:
"I won't criticize Hugo for not being interested in playing defense, as I lost interest in the same years ago unless I'm in person with someone I know. But it's also a futile discussion to have two people of that mindset encounter one another haha."
I mostly agree with that, except that I am still not sure what 'playing defense' would mean, as in I still don't really know what folks here would want me to defend.

My Atheism? But it's the rejection of some beliefs, not something I can defend, only answer to, and I do like to do that, as a conversation. Reading books, nope. Watching a video, maybe. But I don't even know which one Starhopper was talking about for instance; I should go check...

Naturalism? But it's not what I believe, at least not as defined here usually. I don't believe there is necessarily nothing outside the natural world. I don't know and don't think anybody can know, as mentioned above. So not much to defend here.

My take on how we got here? Yes, I would defend that. But I don't think that people care, as I have mentioned twice already the notion of our atoms' origin for instance. Does anybody disagree? I would defend that view all day long. It's fascinating stuff... but that's not the topic here so I don't think it's relevant.

bmiller said...

Haha. People don't always get what they deserve...immediately.

Good job at projecting.

Hugo Pelland said...

Again, you're not ignoring bmiller... you're really bad at that. I did not say I would ignore so, not sure why it's projection. Perhaps you were refring to the list of things I said you did here on this thread? Let's see...

Did I flame you, insult you?
No... you did though.

Did I do some whining?
No... I just state what I am interested in, or not, but you whine that I am not answering the things you want answer. You even said, twice, that I owe you an answer. As if I 'owe' you anything at all.

Do I have emotional reactions?
No... but I think you do, though it's hard to tell of course. But this thing of talking about me, to your buddies, instead of just engaging like an adult, or just ignoring... I see this as an emotional reaction. You'll looking for your peers' approval; could it be for anything else but feeling good about yourself?

Did I give non-answers?
Yes, definitely, as I am not interested in everything that's written here. You did the same, when not answering questions and instead insisting I answer yours. It's just what happened...

bmiller said...

Please.

You just got through whining about me and insulted me while doing it.

I've pointed out that you confuse thinking for feeling, so maybe that's why you think rational discussion is an emotional reaction. But really, why do you think I am only obliged to respond to your posts and not others? Do you have some emotional need to be included? Does that make you feel good about yourself?

And you don't answer questions.

So yeah, a pretty good demonstration of projection. Congrats. You at least tried to muster reasons for your assertions this time.



Hugo Pelland said...

Huh? That's weird... I have apologized for giving the impression I was attempting mind reading, which I think is wrong. I have not written any insults... where did you see that? You did insult me though; you implicitly said that I lack intelligence and/or honesty. I didn't say anything like that about you, and I wouldn't. I just don't know you enough, but I also just don't care about you. You're not important to talk to, just like I am not important to you. This is just a blog. It can lead to some interesting conversations. When it doesn't, it's not a big deal...

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

What *is* weird that you hang around Christian blogs pretending to ask Christians why they believe the things they do when you have zero interest in hearing their answers. Smells troll to me.

I've pointed out the instances where I thought your posts were irrational or dishonest directly to you and how I was coming to my conclusions. I don't consider irrationality as particularly intelligent. Could I have been wrong? Sure, but you've given no *reasons* for me to think otherwise. You aren't in the reason giving business it seems.

If you consider it an insult to have one's posts defined as irrational or dishonest, then you'll have to admit that claiming Starhopper believes in magic is an insult. Or that theists are not being honest when they say they rationally believe the things they say they believe. If you don't, then why take offense at something I shared with Starhopper and *not you*?

You're right. You're not important to talk to. You have added nothing to this post but your unsupported opinions and snark. No big deal. It's typical for atheists.

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: "Naturalism? But it's not what I believe, at least not as defined here usually. I don't believe there is necessarily nothing outside the natural world. I don't know and don't think anybody can know, as mentioned above. So not much to defend here."

Fair enough.

Starhopper said...

Last Sunday I attended a seminar in Baltimore which included a nobel laureate (for research into the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation), an astrophysicist from the James Webb Telescope project, an astronomer from the Vatican Observatory, an archaeologist who is convinced that "ancient aliens" were responsible for many of the mysterious structures found in Egypt, Mexico, and South America, and a psychic detective who works with the New Jersey Police Department in missing persons cases.

There was naturally a broad spectrum of points of view set before us, but what I enjoyed most of all was the uncompromising respect the various speakers had for each other, and their determined quest to find common ground whatever their own philosophies were.

One Brow said...

@One Brow,

Different book, different arguments.


I was unaware that Feser has changed the way he argues for Aquinas' 5 proofs. What are the differences.

However both require the ability to think rationally.

That would explain Feser's inability to make a convincing argument, perhaps.