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Thread: A met an old friend today..

  1. #1 A met an old friend today.. 
    Forum Ph.D. verzen's Avatar
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    And confused the shit out of him.
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    If someone does good just to get something out of life, does that make that person immoral?


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    I don't believe in selfless acts.


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  4. #3  
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    I think you should ask your friend for his definition of the word believe.

    There are certain requirements to which our beliefs should adhere. Our beliefs should be representative of some proposition about the world in which we live, which means that I cannot believe I am a six-foot spider or that you are a pink blancmange. Our beliefs should be internally consistent, one with another. So I cannot believe I am two contradictory things at once, and so on. If your friend only believes so that he will go to heaven then that is not by any meaningful standard, real belief. It might be hope, but it is not belief.

    Since I do not believe your friend is going to heaven, pretending to believe in Jesus is just dishonest; I don't think I would be able to say it is immoral.
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    One who is untrue to himself can't expect to get much from life, or afterlife in this case.
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  6. #5 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    And confused the shit out of him.
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    If someone does good just to get something out of life, does that make that person immoral?
    its called performing religious acts under the pursuit for fruitive activities.
    regardless whether it is immoral or not, it is not perfectional. Belief in a personality like jesus only grants success if one's action also follows their belief
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  7. #6 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    And confused the shit out of him.
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    If someone does good just to get something out of life, does that make that person immoral?
    Well it sounds like this would violate verzen's more highly developed sense of morality and I know it would certainly violate my sense of morality. BUT these are definitely personal ideas of morality which I don't think we could impose on other people.


    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Belief in a personality like jesus only grants success if one's action also follows their belief
    Yes I don't much know about this magical Christianity where they think that Jesus is like abracadabra-I-get-to-go-to-heaven because I say the name of Jesus a lot and do everything in his name like. But there is a scripture just for this kind of thing: Matthew 7:21-29.
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    Even Paul takes up the concept of potential false commitment in Roman 10:9 where he says: "[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raise him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

    So it is not a matter of just evoking the name of Jesus. I think even atheists recognize there are people claiming to be Christians whose activities and lifestyle seem to belie the claim.

    If there is an all-knowing God, I think atheists can rest secure that such false professors are not fooling God anymore than they are fooling anyone else. If there is no God, it doesn't make any difference, anyway.

    Personally, as a suspected believer, I am willing to sit back and let God sort it out when the time comes.
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  9. #8 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    And confused the shit out of him.
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    If someone does good just to get something out of life, does that make that person immoral?
    These are two different questions, 'believing in Jesus' is not 'doing good.'

    Believing is not doing. I personally believe that doing good is net positive regardless of the motivation.

    Believing in Jesus to get to heaven seems problematic, but then i am not God so what do I know.
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  10. #9 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    I don't know about the morality of it, but I'm confused about how it's even logically possible. You can't use the fact that believing in Jesus will get you into heaven as a basis for believing in him, because you wouldn't think that believing in him would get you into heaven unless you already believed in him. If you believe that believing in Jesus will get you into heaven, then by necessity you must already believe in Jesus anyway. If you didn't already believe in Jesus, then you presumably wouldn't think that believing in him could get you into heaven.

    It's like saying "I believe in the Easter Bunny because I want the basket of candy." You wouldn't be expecting your belief in the Easter Bunny to pay off with a basket of candy unless you took it for granted that he was real.
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  11. #10 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    I don't know about the morality of it, but I'm confused about how it's even logically possible. You can't use the fact that believing in Jesus will get you into heaven as a basis for believing in him, because you wouldn't think that believing in him would get you into heaven unless you already believed in him. If you believe that believing in Jesus will get you into heaven, then by necessity you must already believe in Jesus anyway. If you didn't already believe in Jesus, then you presumably wouldn't think that believing in him could get you into heaven.

    It's like saying "I believe in the Easter Bunny because I want the basket of candy." You wouldn't be expecting your belief in the Easter Bunny to pay off with a basket of candy unless you took it for granted that he was real.
    You are confusing the reason someone believes something with the preceeding cause for someone to believe something.

    It is not even completely correct to assume that this reason for believing in Jesus is preceeded by a belief that such a belief can get you to heaven. You attribute too much formal logic to people. For quite often desire leads the way. A person may simply want to assure his eternal destiny first and formost and would then be willing to do or say or believe whatever is suggested can get them what they want. People will choose to believe that something will get them what they want on the strength of their desire alone, if they know of no other way.

    No it is not a perfectly rational way to think, but people aren't perfectly rational. So as a result, what verzen is suggesting IS logically possible BECAUSE people are not perfectly rational.

    But even in the rational person it is still possible, because let us not forget the logic behind Pascal's wager. Maybe that reasoning doesn't work for you. For me that reasoning is just cowardly and maybe verzen would agree. But I still think this is a valid counter-example.

    But in any case I really do not buy into the idea that people believe things in straight forward logical progression. If you think this then I suspect you haven't really examined through self-reflection the process of human thinking honestly and clearly enough. People make choices and THEN they search for logical justification. Certainly people will quite often abandon beliefs when they do not find a logical justification or when they find a logical contradiction with a more important belief. But that is where their rationality is found and not in a logical reason being the preceeding cause for every belief that is held -- that just isn't realistic. Rationality is too much of an ongoing process of discovery - discovering the hidden premises in ones thinking and looking for resolution between apparent contradicitions.

    Of course people do think differently - very much so. But I still have not seen the slightest evidence of any person who actually thinks in the way that your comment is implying -- I quite frequently encounter people who are pretending that this is the case, but discussion with them does not bear this out. But more importantly, from the point of view of developmental psychology I don't even see how it is even possible.
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  12. #11 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    I don't know about the morality of it, but I'm confused about how it's even logically possible. You can't use the fact that believing in Jesus will get you into heaven as a basis for believing in him, because you wouldn't think that believing in him would get you into heaven unless you already believed in him. If you believe that believing in Jesus will get you into heaven, then by necessity you must already believe in Jesus anyway. If you didn't already believe in Jesus, then you presumably wouldn't think that believing in him could get you into heaven.

    It's like saying "I believe in the Easter Bunny because I want the basket of candy." You wouldn't be expecting your belief in the Easter Bunny to pay off with a basket of candy unless you took it for granted that he was real.
    That is a very good point and one that goes to the core of the majority of theists IMO. Their concept of what this god is supposed to be is a bit beyond them. I mean, they have a vague idea of a guy looking over their shoulder when they do something bad, but the experience is very different from if you actually were certain that you were being watched, similar to a camera in a stock room or something. You would never dream of stealing anything knowing that you are being watched by management, but theists commit all sorts of "sins" that they know perfectly well are sins. This is not consistent with a real full belief in a god at all. When you look at it this way there are actually a lot less true believers around than we are lead to believe. It has become clear to me over time that religion is more a tool than anything else as a result of this fact.
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  13. #12 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    No it is not a perfectly rational way to think, but people aren't perfectly rational. So as a result, what verzen is suggesting IS logically possible BECAUSE people are not perfectly rational.
    Oh, I'm fully aware that people have an amazing capacity to make themselves believe something simply because they think it would be nice if it were true.

    http://www.katu.com/news/34292654.html

    I'm just amazed when people are willing to bluntly and unapologetically admit that they make decisions about what to believe on the basis of wishful thinking. You are quite correct that it's human nature for everyone to do it to a certain extent, but most of the time, for most things, people agree that being influenced by wishful thinking is a flaw that should be avoided. Religion seems to be one of the few areas where people will not just engage in wishful belief, but actually defend it as a valid method of epistemology.
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  14. #13 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Their concept of what this god is supposed to be is a bit beyond them. I mean, they have a vague idea of a guy looking over their shoulder when they do something bad, but the experience is very different from if you actually were certain that you were being watched, similar to a camera in a stock room or something
    ...
    This is not consistent with a real full belief in a god at all. When you look at it this way there are actually a lot less true believers around than we are lead to believe.
    Agreed. If someone truly believed in christianity, it would be borderline insane to do anything other than give away all your possessions and devote yourself full time to either praying in a monastery or helping the poor, sick, etc. Why would you ever risk doing anything even slightly sinful if you thought that your soul was really at stake? How could the comparatively meager, transitory pleasures of adultery, for example, possibly tempt you if you seriously believed that
    1) The all-power ruler of the universe was watching you
    2) You would soon face his judgment and be sentenced to either eternal bliss or torture
    3) You were about to do something that would piss him off

    The behavior of most christians, even the "devout" ones, seems more like hedging; they want to extract as much pleasure from life as possible while still allowing for the possibility that their god exists, rather than actually acting as though they were sure he as real.
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  15. #14 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    theists commit all sorts of "sins" that they know perfectly well are sins. This is not consistent with a real full belief in a god at all.
    Correct, this is not consistent. However it does not mean that their belief is not real.

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  16. #15 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    If someone truly believed in christianity, it would be borderline insane to do anything other than give away all your possessions and devote yourself full time to either praying in a monastery or helping the poor, sick, etc.
    You are assuming that to be a true christian is to follow every rule to a tee. That is not the case. A true christian believes trully in the life and ressurection of jesus and all that it means.

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  17. #16 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    You are assuming that to be a true christian is to follow every rule to a tee. That is not the case. A true christian believes trully in the life and ressurection of jesus and all that it means.
    No, I'm simply saying that if someone really, truly believed in mainstream christianity then they would have to be borderline insane to not follow every rule to a T. How could anyone who seriously believed with 100% certainty that the all-powerful ruler of the universe was watching them ever do anything that they new would make him angry? As kalster said, it would be like shoplifting something even though you knew that the store security cameras were watching you and you were certain to get caught. The vast, vast majority of christians don't live the way I would expect someone to if they seriously believed the bible - which makes me think that on some level most christians aren't really sure if their religion is correct.
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    I wouldn't say it is because they do not think their religion is correct, it is because humans cannot help but follow their own inclinations aswell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    I wouldn't say it is because they do not think their religion is correct, it is because humans cannot help but follow their own inclinations as well.
    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the religious follow their religions as a matter of course. It is how they define what a good person is. It is how they explain where everything came from. But they never really think about it. 'Think' is maybe too weak a definition. They never try to really connect with the full concept of god. People generally live in their own little bubbles, so they are simply not used to thinking in this way. That, I think, might also be a major reason why, generally in my experience, religious people rarely have a basic understanding of the scientific method.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    I wouldn't say it is because they do not think their religion is correct, it is because humans cannot help but follow their own inclinations aswell.
    People might be naturally inclined to steal if they thought they had a reasonable chance of getting away with it, but only an insane person would go through with it if they were certain that security was watching them and that they would be caught.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    I wouldn't say it is because they do not think their religion is correct, it is because humans cannot help but follow their own inclinations aswell.
    People might be naturally inclined to steal if they thought they had a reasonable chance of getting away with it, but only an insane person would go through with it if they were certain that security was watching them and that they would be caught.

    You are making the assumption that christians think about god every single time they attempt to do anything. Obviously they do not. This does not mean however that they are not true believers.

    Using your analogy, people frequently rob shops with security cameras. If they took a moment to think about what they were doing, then ofcourse they would think to themselves "wait a minute... this shop will have security cameras". It doesn't mean that their belief in security cameras isn't real. It just means they have failed to take it into consideration on the occasion.

    The same applies to christians who sin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    You are making the assumption that christians think about god every single time they attempt to do anything. Obviously they do not. This does not mean however that they are not true believers.
    Perhaps not every time they do anything, but it seems pretty unlikely to me that christians simply "forget" about god when they do something like commit adultery. They are fully aware of god when they do it, they just choose to do it anyway.
    Using your analogy, people frequently rob shops with security cameras. If they took a moment to think about what they were doing, then ofcourse they would think to themselves "wait a minute... this shop will have security cameras". It doesn't mean that their belief in security cameras isn't real. It just means they have failed to take it into consideration on the occasion.

    The same applies to christians who sin.
    Not a good analogy. When people rob shops with security cameras they either think they have a good chance of getting away with it despite the security cameras or don't know about the security cameras. It would be impossible for anyone to "get away with" anything with the christian god watching.
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  23. #22 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I'm just amazed when people are willing to bluntly and unapologetically admit that they make decisions about what to believe on the basis of wishful thinking. You are quite correct that it's human nature for everyone to do it to a certain extent, but most of the time, for most things, people agree that being influenced by wishful thinking is a flaw that should be avoided. Religion seems to be one of the few areas where people will not just engage in wishful belief, but actually defend it as a valid method of epistemology.
    Ah yes thank you for providing an example of what I was talking about, for here is an example of your own indulgence in wishful thinking as is typical of most ideologues. The religious are rarely any more realistic than you are and also like pretend that their thinking is based reason first. This kind of self delusion is the most ubiquitous type of wishful thinking of all. But I find this sort of wishful thinking to also be the most distorting and the root of blind ideological behavior and that is why I reject it.

    Wishful thinking is the starting human condition, for every one of us begins as a child. Some of this is eliminated in the process of maturation, but some mature more slowly or in different ways than others. The ideologue is an example of someone who has frozen the maturation process in respect to rationality. True rationality requires work and training in logic and science is a tremendous advantage in developing some of the essential skills. Science in particular helps you understand objectivity. But the ideologue thinks he has a short cut -- by embracing the TRUTH and believing its contents -- he buys into the delusion that simply by a change to the correct belief, he obtains maturity and rationality.

    It is quite typical that an ideologue would do exactly what you have done -- twisting around the frank observations that I have made and somehow attribute it to any thinking which is opposed to his TRUTH. I, of course, did not say that wishful thinking was any kind of valid epistemology or anything like that. What I said was something very uncomfortable for you, and that is that every human beings starts as a child and indulges in wishful thinking and that it is only by an ongoing process that we not only change this way of thinking but also root out the premises we have built our life upon in order to examine them in the light of reason. That is not something the ideologue wants to hear because it challenges the idea that his TRUTH is the short cut he believes it to be. Thus you feel compelled to put those words in my mouth (about wishful thinking being some kind of epistemology) because that is what you want to think. LOL
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  24. #23 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    For here is an example of your own indulgence in wishful thinking as is typical of most ideologues. The religious are rarely any more realistic than you are and also like pretend that their thinking is based reason first. This kind of self delusion is the most ubiquitous type of wishful thinking of all.
    I thought I made it clear in my post that I agree with you that wishful thinking is human nature. I'm sure I engage in my fair share of it. But as I said, I at least recognize that it is a mistake and make efforts to avoid it - however futile those efforts might be.
    It is quite typical that an ideologue would do exactly what you have done -- twisting around the frank observations that I have made and somehow attribute it to any thinking which is opposed to his TRUTH. I, of course, did not say that wishful thinking was any kind of valid epistemology or anything like that.
    Calm down. I am fully aware that you didn't say anything about wishful thinking being a kind of valid epistemology. I was talking about verzen's friend who told him that he "believes in Jesus because he wants to go to heaven."

    What I said was something very uncomfortable for you, and that is that every human beings starts as a child and indulges in wishful thinking and that it is only by an ongoing process that we not only change this way of thinking but also root out the premises we have built our life upon in order to examine them in the light of reason.
    Indeed, the idea that wishful thinking is part of the human condition is so uncomfortable to me that in my own post I said "You are quite correct that it's human nature for everyone to do it to a certain extent."
    That is not something the ideologue wants to hear because it challenges the idea that his TRUTH is the short cut he believes it to be. Thus you feel compelled to put those words in my mouth (about wishful thinking being some kind of epistemology) because that is what you want to think. LOL
    As I already said, I wasn't accusing you of trying to defend wishful thinking as epistemology. But many, many religious people do. "But don't you want to go to heaven?!?" is an extremely common reaction from christians when they learn that someone is an atheist. Likewise, verzen's friend's "I believe in Jesus because I want to go to heaven" is an extremely common answer that many christians will give if asked why they believe what they do.

    I can't recall hearing anyone saying anything along the lines of "I believe my house is hurricane-proof because I don't want it to be blown away" or "You think you have a weak immune system? But why would you want to get sick more often!?!" or "I believe that the surge will work because I want the violence in Iraq to end and don't want my political party to look any more stupid." Of course people might believe those things for those reasons, but at least they seem to realize that those aren't really valid reasons, and so attempt to come up with some further rationalization for their preferred beliefs. With religion, on the other hand, those sorts of arguments are very common.
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  25. #24  
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    Scifor Refugee,


    My apologies, I have indeed read into your post what wasn't there.

    OOPS.

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  26. #25 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    And confused the shit out of him.
    Do you think that people are immoral if they believe in Jesus just to get to heaven? Well, my old "friend" said he only believes in Jesus to get to heaven. Is that immoral?
    If someone does good just to get something out of life, does that make that person immoral?
    Yes that's immoral

    There's a point to everything which is greatly missed if you don't see the point!

    Take the idea of generosity for example or self-less acts.

    The purpose and true value of this is what one learns from the actual act itself and not from the end product of a pat on the back or rewards.

    The point behind these acts is to cultivate a much greater awareness and love of all things and a deeper understanding of the real value of material things compared to our deeper spiritual values. (By spiritual i mean the meanings we give to life and the meanings life gives back to us)

    The end result of getting into heaven (if there is such a place!) is simply a by-product.

    If you do something just to achieve that aim then you will achieve nothing except a shallow meaningless incomplete existence where the journey in between has been totally wasted.

    For example - if you embark on some study or venture with an award at the end, you will discover that what you gained from experiences and lessons as you progress towards the reward is far greater than the actual award itself.

    This applies to all human endeavors whether it's to become a Pope, a sufi or premium league footballer.

    This is also the reason why ambitious people who reach their goals often find themselves still dissatisfied and unfulfilled, because they failed to realise the true value of success comes from the journey itself and not the end result!

    I hope your friend is very young, because hopefully he/she will have more time to realise this fundamental lesson.
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  27. #26 Re: A met an old friend today.. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    But many, many religious people do. "But don't you want to go to heaven?!?" is an extremely common reaction from christians when they learn that someone is an atheist. Likewise, verzen's friend's "I believe in Jesus because I want to go to heaven" is an extremely common answer that many christians will give if asked why they believe what they do.
    I guess the question is where did this conclusion come from:

    Religion seems to be one of the few areas where people will not just engage in wishful belief, but actually defend it as a valid method of epistemology.
    Or is this just a conclusion you are drawing from:
    that "But don't you want to go to heaven?" sort of question? --Saying that such a question implies that you should believe something because you want it to be the case?

    hmmmm......

    Now this kind of question you are talking about is not the sort of question I would ask probably for the same reasons you think it is so absurd. It does sound kind of dumb to me, but.... you know it has started me thinking...

    This goes back the the question I posed in a thread "How does belief effect reality?" The answer I gave was that in situations where the state of your mind affects things then belief can affect reality.

    For example, I can easily imagine a someone in some kind of competive sports having a coach telling them, "you have to believe that you are the best" or something like that. Do you see what I mean?

    Now suppose that heaven is also primarily a state of mind -- many religious people like myself do think so after all. But in that case it is not so far fetched that belief in something CAN create the reality. I mean of course there certainly are a few premises involved here. If there is no possibility that anything of a person survives death then it is hardly believable that just by believing it to be otherwise that this belief is going to change that reality. Thus for anyone from a perspective like metaphysical naturalism, this question by the Christian might indeed seem like a "wishful thinking as a valid theory of epistemology".

    But under a different set of premises, where something does survive death and its experiential reality is affected by ones state of "mind" then this is not theory of epistemology at all, but a call to action.

    On the other hand, for the average person who says something like this, some combination of wishful thinking and something like Pascal's wager may indeed be a big part of thinking process.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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