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Thread: Christopher Hitchens

  1. #1 Christopher Hitchens 
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    Strange that no one has commented on the passing of Christopher Hitchens who was one of the few of today's anti-religion spokesmen who had the respect of believers.

    The reason he was respected above the ilk of Dawkins and Dennet is because he addressed the issues of the discussion and did not impune the intelligence of believers and resort to the inflamatoric hyperbole of calling religious beliefs fairy tales and mythical.


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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strange that no one has commented on the passing of Christopher Hitchens who was one of the few of today's anti-religion spokesmen who had the respect of believers.

    The reason he was respected above the ilk of Dawkins and Dennet is because he addressed the issues of the discussion and did not impune the intelligence of believers and resort to the inflamatoric hyperbole of calling religious beliefs fairy tales and mythical.
    I can assure he certainly thought they were,


    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    The reason [Hitchens] was respected above the ilk of Dawkins and Dennet is because he addressed the issues of the discussion and did not impune the intelligence of believers and resort to the inflamatoric hyperbole of calling religious beliefs fairy tales and mythical.
    Unfortunately, all you've managed to do with this comment is to show your own disconnect from the facts at hand.
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    I hear nothing in the clip selected here that amounts to directly calling Christian beleifs myths and fairy tales. He merely, as is often his wont, creates a new and unverified historical account and uses that to refute what he claims is an unverified historical account. I hope I did not suggest that I would ever agree with Hitchens' view of religion and his propensity for pulling out non existent and unproven data is quite frustrating. It is often difficult to disprove non-facts, but I can promise you that unverified versions of events to not disprove other versions of those events. I have no idea why Hitchens expected his version, conjured out of thin air nearly 2,000 years after the fact, should be considered more valid than those written within 100 years of the events, particularly in view of the fact that no subsequent timely writings disputed those early writings. To some extent, they may have provided different versions and variations, but they did not disagree with the essential elements of the story. No literature of that time disagrees that there was, indeed, an itinerant rabbi known as Jesus of Nazareth. While I suppose Hitchens, and others, are certainly within their prerogative to disbelieve it, I just don't think you will find any period literature to support the non-existence of such a person.

    My point was not that Hitchens respected the Christian view, but that he respected the people who hold those views. It is not necessary to agree with someone to respect the person. Unfortunately, among the atheist community there are many who find it necessary to disrepect the person because of his view which was not my impression of Hitchens. I suspect it is the disrepectful element of atheism who like to think Hitchens joined them in their disdain for people of faith -- he didn't. He just plainly and succintly disagreed with them.
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    "No reason to believe Jesus of Nazareth ever existed."

    He did however call Jesus a maniac, a sick man maniac or an evil man.
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    "No reason to believe Jesus of Nazareth ever existed." -- There is less reason to believe he did not exist. There is evidence that he existed in period writings. There is no denial of his existence in period writings.

    Hitchens mis-quoted C.S. Lewis who actually said to the effect that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or exactly who he said he was. I would find Hitchens' opinion the Jesus was a lunatic to be diametrically opposed to his belief there was no such person. It is typical of of the illogical, unscientific approach Hitchens took on many issues.
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    Actually, he as much admitted it's quite possible Jesus existed. Where he's refute, like many, is any claim that Christ existed.
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    Sorry Lynx, I do not quite understand your post. Are you saying that Hitchens admits to the possible existence of the person depicted in the Bible, but denies that he is Messiah? That, to me, is an understandable position. Even Jews, Mormons and JWs take that position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Sorry Lynx, I do not quite understand your post. Are you saying that Hitchens admits to the possible existence of the person depicted in the Bible, but denies that he is Messiah? That, to me, is an understandable position. Even Jews, Mormons and JWs take that position.
    I think you will find that most atheist's accept that there may have been a man possibly named jesus, who existed, but a divine biblical magic zombie man, they don't. So when Chris refers to a Jesus you know it's not the latter, he's referring too.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Daniel Dennett respects religious belief at least as much as Hitchens ever did, and Dawkins respects the respectable wherever he finds it.

    The difference between them and Hitchens seems to be mainly Hitchens's occasionally "conservative" politics - his enthusiastic support of war and associated authoritarian policy, in particular - and the somewhat less intellectually or technically sophisticated content of his arguments.
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    Pavlos said: "a divine biblical magic zombie man."

    This is the type of unnecessary and intentionally offensive language which disturbs me from the standpoint that it is designed to denigrate believers as well as what they actually believe. I can tell you, there is no one who believes in a magic zombie man except perhaps, in a sense, practitioners of voodoo. It seems there are some atheist who feel it is their duty to be as offensive and disgusting as they can be toward Christianity. It tells a lot more about the character of the person than it does about Christianity.
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    he is dead
    perhaps his soul will persist
    in the form of some humble creature
    it happened to me
    after all

    it is the sort of joke
    fate likes to play
    it would seem
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Pavlos said: "a divine biblical magic zombie man."

    This is the type of unnecessary and intentionally offensive language which disturbs me from the standpoint that it is designed to denigrate believers as well as what they actually believe. I can tell you, there is no one who believes in a magic zombie man except perhaps, in a sense, practitioners of voodoo. It seems there are some atheist who feel it is their duty to be as offensive and disgusting as they can be toward Christianity. It tells a lot more about the character of the person than it does about Christianity.
    If a person is dead but also alive then they are a zombie. if a person is attempting to defy the laws of physics, then that person is doing magic, and if a person believes he is a god, or others do then he is classed as divine. the biblical Jesus does all these things thus by default he must be a divine biblical magic zombie man. these are the facts according to you book. It is a statement of fact, your book claims it so.
    The fact you take it to be offensive is a failing of yours.
    It would only be a failing of mine a non-believer, if I actually gave credence to your particular fantasy, I would need to be a believer to do that. You don't just get respect by default. if you don't wish to have your beliefs ridiculed, then you should not hold such ridiculous beliefs.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    I would not have expected an apology from you, Pavlos. The fact that you do not recognize your statements as being unnecessarily offensive is a failing of yours. It shows just how intolerant some people are of the beliefs of others. It seems you wish to put your character on the line in such a way that I cannot reply on a personal level without running afoul of forum decorum.

    To the same degree that you find my belief in the necessity of salvation to be rediculous, so would I find your willingness to ignore it. The difference is that I do not ridicule your belief, but, having been a non-believer for almost half my life, feel sorry that you continue to find it necessary to insult and defy your creator. I regret the degree to which, in the past, I went out of my way to insult God and those who believed in Him.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I would not have expected an apology from you, Pavlos.
    What's to apologise for! I would need to believe in your fantasy to have said something offensive.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    The fact that you do not recognize your statements as being unnecessarily offensive is a failing of yours.
    How so explain, and remember I have no belief in your fantasy.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    It shows just how intolerant some people are of the beliefs of others.
    Where is the intolerance, You can believe what you like, I don't hold those beliefs, So I'm only stating it as I see it, if you find it offensive that's your failing you're the one holding those, irrational beliefs.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    It seems you wish to put your character on the line in such a way that I cannot reply on a personal level without running afoul of forum decorum.
    No not done that, but if you feel the need to be insulting then do so. it wont offend me.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    To the same degree that you find my belief in the necessity of salvation to be rediculous,
    No I find your belief in magic zombie men ridiculous, anything else that doesn't border on insane, your free to believe.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    so would I find your willingness to ignore it.
    Ah but I don't I just don't think about as It isn't necessary to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    The difference is that I do not ridicule your belief,
    Well as I simply lack belief in your claims of magic zombies and gods, then go ahead ridicule my non belief.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    but, having been a non-believer for almost half my life,
    Now your just lying, unless you had a trauma in you life like a blow to the head, etc.. That isn't possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    feel sorry that you continue to find it necessary to insult and defy your creator.
    I haven't insulted my mother nor my father, but I have stated, because your book say so, that your biblical jesus is a magic zombie. that's not insulting my parents.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I regret the degree to which, in the past, I went out of my way to insult God and those who believed in Him.
    There you go lying again, if you where ever an atheist in the past you would still be one now. Nobody goes for rational to irrational, logical to illogical, it just doesn't happen.
    You would need to demonstrate that 1, Your god exists and 2, Your god is my creator, before it can be believed.
    Last edited by pavlos; December 27th, 2011 at 01:54 PM. Reason: additions
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Pavlos said:

    "There you go lying again, if you where ever an atheist in the past you would still be one now."
    Well, this really does show your lack of understanding. No one starts out believing in God. You are 100 percent wrong. There is no other way to say it. You are perfect -- 100 percent perfectly wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Pavlos said:

    "There you go lying again, if you where ever an atheist in the past you would still be one now."
    Well, this really does show your lack of understanding. No one starts out believing in God. You are 100 percent wrong. There is no other way to say it. You are perfect -- 100 percent perfectly wrong.
    No it shows your lack of understanding, atheist have reviewed the evidence (or lack thereof) and made a concious choice, a new born is tabula rasa ( a blank slate) technically without god, most are indoctrinated the moment they draw breathe, they don't discern the information until their about 10 years old, even then they are undecided, some the lucky ones are never indoctrinated and reach the age of discernment without the irrational concept of gods, it is extremely rare they become religious. (without some kind of trauma) So If you claim you're being honest. I take it your 20 years old and were never indoctrinated, well there's the lie, as it would be extremely unlikely that you became religious without a trauma in your life.
    Fear is the root of religious belief.
    Last edited by pavlos; December 27th, 2011 at 05:55 PM. Reason: poor spelling
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    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strange that no one has commented on the passing of Christopher Hitchens who was one of the few of today's anti-religion spokesmen who had the respect of believers.

    The reason he was respected above the ilk of Dawkins and Dennet is because he addressed the issues of the discussion and did not impune the intelligence of believers and resort to the inflamatoric hyperbole of calling religious beliefs fairy tales and mythical.
    I think if you care to search some of the debates Christopher Hitchens has had, you will find that he has a complete disdain for Christianity, to him it was the most dangerous myth of all time. He had no belief in a biblical Jesus. Where you got the idea he respected your myth, is beyond imagining. Yes he was able to do it in a nice way but he wasn't always polite, not by a long chalk. He thought just the same as every other atheist does, that Christians believe in fairy stories. Don't ever thing he didn't.
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    It is difficult to believe that there are people who have so insulated themselves from the real world and built up such an imaginary view of the the world and the people therein. It is as though your only associations are with that very small minority of people who share your position and therefore you actually believe it is a majority view.

    Whether you like it or not, as much as Hitchens disagreed with Christianity, he was civil with believers which showed a moral integrity that my experience here suggests is not shared by all atheists.
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    Whether you like it or not, as much as Hitchens disagreed with Christianity, he was civil with believers which showed a moral integrity that my experience here suggests is not shared by all atheists.
    But it (the civility) was shared by Dawkins and Dennett and many others - people you say the "believers" do not respect.

    Civility does not seem to be the real reason for believers respecting Hitchens.
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    Pavlos said:

    There you go lying again, if you where ever an atheist in the past you would still be one now.
    This particular quote continues to bother me for two reasons.

    First of all Pavlos calls me a liar which is very offensive (but I have grown to expect those kinds statements from atheists) when Pavlos has no idea of my background and past.

    But that statement seems to be born in what I consider the second objection and worst part of the quote suggesting that no avowed atheist could ever be converted from atheism to any religion.

    I would agree that there have been few famous and avowed atheists who become followers of some religion. Most famous converts became famous after their conversion. Antony Flew who was an avowed atheist at one time but now expresses some deist beliefs may be one of the few.

    In an ironic twist, I find that Christerpher Hitchens' slightly less famous brother Peter, is a former atheist who is now an Anglican. A bit from Wikipedia says of him:

    Hitchens, a former atheist,[38] is a confirmed and communicant member of the Church of England and an advocate of moral virtues founded on religious (particularly Christian) faith. He argues that these have been undermined and eroded by social liberals, and by those he calls cultural Marxists, since the 1960s—a theory he explores in his book The Abolition of Britain.[citation needed]
    Me thinks Pavlos speaks from a highly uninformed position both as to me and as to conversions of atheists to religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Pavlos said:

    There you go lying again, if you were ever an atheist in the past you would still be one now.
    This particular quote continues to bother me for two reasons.

    First of all Pavlos calls me a liar which is very offensive (but I have grown to expect those kinds statements from atheists) when Pavlos has no idea of my background and past.
    Here comes the dishonesty. It always gets me how theists insult atheists (often without realising it) and when they respond in kind, the theist acts as if they have been a beacon of good throughout the conversation.In one of your previous posts you said "feel sorry that you continue to find it necessary to insult and defy your creator." if you say to an atheist that you defy/deny the existence of god, or anything remotely similar, then you are calling them a liar, as they have no belief in magical beings.
    I suggest you get off your high horse and think before you speak in future.
    Anyhow didn't Pavlos also put emphasis on his lying statement to you, by stating "not without a major trauma in your life" or are you actually disregarding that bit. Because that would be the only way, I'm sure if you elaborate as to how you became religious, we would find that it was due to a life changing event.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    But that statement seems to be born in what I consider the second objection and worst part of the quote suggesting that no avowed atheist could ever be converted from atheism to any religion.

    I would agree that there have been few famous and avowed atheists who become followers of some religion.
    Sorry wrong there are none. We would have to scrutinise their lives deeply to find their reasons, as it would not be through a logical or rational reason.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Most famous converts became famous after their conversion. Antony Flew who was an avowed atheist at one time but now expresses some deist beliefs may be one of the few.
    Yes However note: Deist, IE an unknown prime mover, not a god or gods.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    In an ironic twist, I find that Christerpher Hitchens' slightly less famous brother Peter, is a former atheist who is now an Anglican.
    Have you asked him why he became an Anglican. And every religious person claims they were atheist before becoming religious. But the majority were indoctrinated from birth.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Me thinks Pavlos speaks from a highly uninformed position both as to me and as to conversions of atheists to religion.
    I tend to disagree, being an atheist. I can see no reason for someone to become irrational other than via a traumatic, life changing event.
    There is clearly no rational reason to believe in god, whereas an atheist would need, a rational reason. Which make the move from atheist to theist impossible without that life changing event?
    As Pavlos stated “religion is born out of fear” and fear is the only thing that can lead the rational mind back to it. But fear of the unknown is irrational by and in itself.
    Last edited by geezer; December 29th, 2011 at 02:36 PM.
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    Strangely, many people who apostate from their religion, do so because of some traumatic life changing event in which they blame God for not preventing. Somebody close dies or is killed or some serious accident results in a debilitating injury or some other tragic event. Such events have the effect of either changing or confirming one's previous outlook on life. People do not often change position when there is no reason to change.

    However, since I cannot speak for all other people, I am not able to know the reason why every person on earth who has change to or from one religion or another has done so. I would concede that the scenario Geezer points to is one of the many different conversion stories I have heard and does, perhaps, represent my own situation.

    But as long as you want to generalize about some other group to which are not now nor, apparently, have ever been a member, I can offer this generalization about atheists based on my experience as a former atheist. The reason I chose to be an atheist was because I believed that as a believer, I would prohibited from doing the things I wished to do and that I would be compelled to do things I didn't want to do. And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior. So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him. I rationalized my disbelief by all the means and reasons today's atheists use.

    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief. As a believer, I need no such things.
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    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief
    All you needed to do is find comfort in accepting your rational quest for actual evidence for god; which I also think it why most people tend to turn atheist. It has little to do with prohibitions--atheist are more moral than religious in at least one studied way we can measure: staying out of trouble form the law.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief
    All you needed to do is find comfort in accepting your rational quest for actual evidence for god; which I also think it why most people tend to turn atheist. It has little to do with prohibitions--atheist are more moral than religious in at least one studied way we can measure: staying out of trouble form the law.
    I'm reading that to mean most of the people who apostacize from Christianity to atheism not that most people tend to become atheist. I hate to bring this up again, but study after study has shown that young people tend to leave the church about the same time they leave the nest but once they have built their own nest, so to speak, many of them return to the church. The largest percentage of unchurched people in the U.S. is in the 18-30 age group. After 50, the percent of churched people increases as age increases. I have, in the past, posted links to many studies which show this phenomenon. The best way to find such studies is to do a search on "percent of young people leaving church" and a search of "church attendance by age."

    I'm trying to figure out how you come to that last claim. I would like to see some substantiating data to support it. If you are talking numbers, it would seem to be a natural thing since there are far, far more people claiming some religious affiliation than atheism. If all those claiming to be atheists in the U.S. ended up in prison, it would still not be a large percentage of prison population.

    I would suggest that the percentages of each population is about the same. I cannot speak for other religions, but I can say that Christians are sinners much as are people of other religious and non-religious persuasions. Plus, I do not know what conduct you would consider immoral and what conduct you would consider moral or how you determine the degree of morality by percentage within an identified group.

    For example, other than rape and incest, there are few sexual conducts which are illegal but many which religions would consider immoral. So, if you are removing those conducts which one group considers immoral and considering them moral conduct for another group, there is going to be an imbalance in your comparisons. There are a number of other types of conducts which one group might see as immoral while a different group sees nothing wrong with. Just sayin'. It seems a difficult area of human conduct to quantify by different ethnic, religious or political groupings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post

    I'm reading that to mean most of the people who apostacize from Christianity to atheism not that most people tend to become atheist. I hate to bring this up again, but study after study has shown that young people tend to leave the church about the same time they leave the nest but once they have built their own nest, so to speak, many of them return to the church. The largest percentage of unchurched people in the U.S. is in the 18-30 age group. After 50, the percent of churched people increases as age increases. I have, in the past, posted links to many studies which show this phenomenon. The best way to find such studies is to do a search on "percent of young people leaving church" and a search of "church attendance by age."
    Even if I accept your claim that people defect and than return, rather than it being a broader trend of increasingly atheistic society which would start with younger peoples; how does that support your argument that the main reason atheist are atheist are to escape religious prohibitions.

    this study finds a positive relationship between percent conservative Protestant and homicide rates;
    Association between populations religiosity and homicide rates:
    "this study finds a positive relationship between percent conservative Protestant and homicide rates;"
    The Enduring Puzzle of Southern Homicide

    On sexual abuse:
    "Four categories of religiosity were devised according to self-reported continuities and discontinuities in life-course religious affiliations: atheists, dropouts, converts, and stayers. ANCOVAs indicated that stayers (those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood) had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than other groups. Results challenge assumptions that religious involvement should, as with other crime, serve to deter sexual offending behavior."
    Religious Affiliations Among Adult Sexual Offenders

    An international comparison:
    "Overall, the findings revealed that more religious countries have lower crime rates than less religious countries, at least regarding property crimes (as opposed to either aggressive or victimless offenses). As has been reported when comparing individuals, this relationship was more pronounced in the case of “overt” aspects of religiosity (especially church attendance and church membership) than in the case of any specific religious beliefs. The results were discussed in the context of four theories that predict an inverse religiosity-criminality relationship: control theory, rational choice theory, moral reasoning theory, and arousal theory. Findings from the present study seemed most consistent with moral reasoning theory and arousal theory."
    ScienceDirect - Personality and Individual Differences : Crime and religion: An international comparison among thirteen industrial nations

    It's stop there, since there are many such studies as well as the ones you mention that show atheist dramatically under represented in the huge American prison system. Note the last link gets to the heart of the matter I think when it talks about rational choice and moral reasoning theory. My own anecdotal (since you shared your) from my own Catholic upbringing is it emphasized external motivations or reward and punishment...both in the now by community rejections (intolerance) and in the afterlife (heaven and hell) while often deemphasizing (even short circuiting) full development of internalized motivation systems. The problem is almost all the research about motivation shows those internalized controls are MUCH more effective. This is why even the most religious nations on earth and though historically control of crime has been marginal at best, while countries which apply modern moral secular/scientific based teaching and crime prevention have been more effective.

    And yes, I know you can find opposing studies out there. Part of the complexity of course is it's difficult to separate from other factors such as income, IQ and what not. There might be cultural considerations as well. And yes I'm talking the Abrahamic religions. I don't think you'd find high crime among Buddhist for example--than than Buddism is mostly about internal motivations--it's very different formula from Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strangely, many people who apostate from their religion, do so because of some traumatic life changing event in which they blame God for not preventing. Somebody close dies or is killed or some serious accident results in a debilitating injury or some other tragic event. Such events have the effect of either changing or confirming one's previous outlook on life. People do not often change position when there is no reason to change.
    However, since I cannot speak for all other people, I am not able to know the reason why every person on earth who has change to or from one religion or another has done so. I would concede that the scenario Geezer points to is one of the many different conversion stories I have heard and does, perhaps, represent my own situation.
    I beg to differ, it in no way represents your situation, not if what I read below is anything to go by.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    But as long as you want to generalize about some other group to which are not now nor, apparently, have ever been a member, I can offer this generalization about atheists based on my experience as a former atheist.
    No you can’t as you were never an atheist. You were an antitheist a huge difference.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    The reason I chose to be an atheist was because I believed that as a believer, I would prohibited from doing the things I wished to do and that I would be compelled to do things I didn't want to do.
    Exactly an antitheist. (Against god).
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior.
    Absolute rubbish!
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him.
    Antitheists may think like that, but atheist never.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I rationalized my disbelief by all the means and reasons today's atheists use.
    No you didn't you seem to have no understanding of what atheism is.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief. As a believer, I need no such things.
    That’s because you were never an atheist.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief
    All you needed to do is find comfort in accepting your rational quest for actual evidence for god; which I also think it why most people tend to turn atheist. It has little to do with prohibitions--atheist are more moral than religious in at least one studied way we can measure: staying out of trouble form the law.
    I'm reading that to mean most of the people who apostacize from Christianity to atheism not that most people tend to become atheist. I hate to bring this up again, but study after study has shown that young people tend to leave the church about the same time they leave the nest but once they have built their own nest, so to speak, many of them return to the church.
    Yes most teens rebel and become antitheists, and some sadly return to religion later. But the lucky ones, the ones that leave because they have used their sense, reason and intellect to discern the irrationalities of theism, become atheists, they shed the brainwashing they received as children, and wake up.

    And one other point if as you say atheist wish to rebel against god and do all the things they want too then why is it that the more secular a nation is the more healthy it is with less crime etc.. I'd do some research before you make blanket statements in future, your coming across as an idiot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    but I have grown to expect those kinds statements from atheists
    Isn't that rather insulting to all those atheists who haven't lied (to you, at least).
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior.
    That is also pretty offensive to the majority of atheists who are just as moral as theists (and arguably less hypocritical because the they don't pretend to believe in a divine law that they then flout).

    So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him.
    As the existence or otherwise of a god or gods is a non issue to atheists, then why the heck should they try and and "eradicate" him/it/her/them?

    I would rather be responsible for my own actions than responsible to some fantasy.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief. As a believer, I need no such things.
    Maybe you weren't really an atheist. You just hadn't worked out what you wanted to believe in.
    Last edited by Strange; December 30th, 2011 at 12:39 PM. Reason: spellig
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    Quote Originally Posted by linked study
    "Overall, the findings revealed that more religious countries have lower crime rates than less religious countries, at least regarding property crimes (as opposed to either aggressive or victimless offenses). As has been reported when comparing individuals, this relationship was more pronounced in the case of “overt” aspects of religiosity (especially church attendance and church membership) than in the case of any specific religious beliefs.
    Seems a bit odd.

    That runs contrary to every specific example I can think of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Sorry Lynx, I do not quite understand your post. Are you saying that Hitchens admits to the possible existence of the person depicted in the Bible, but denies that he is Messiah? That, to me, is an understandable position. Even Jews, Mormons and JWs take that position.
    What?!?!? Mormons do not take that position.

    What confuses people about Mormons' view of Jesus Christ is that they take the trinity literally, by way of believing the three beings of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three totally distinct persons, who are only a single "God" when they choose to act as a team (and they always choose this because they're perfect.) Mormonism is slightly more complicated than a lot of its contenders, but its beliefs are still all logically consistent with themselves. You just have to take the time and trouble to understand them.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by linked study
    "Overall, the findings revealed that more religious countries have lower crime rates than less religious countries, at least regarding property crimes (as opposed to either aggressive or victimless offenses). As has been reported when comparing individuals, this relationship was more pronounced in the case of “overt” aspects of religiosity (especially church attendance and church membership) than in the case of any specific religious beliefs.
    Seems a bit odd.

    That runs contrary to every specific example I can think of.
    This makes sense in terms of the degree of social networking a religion creates. In a lot of religious communities, if you're down on your luck, the community will help you out so you don't have to turn to theft. At a minimum, membership makes it easier to become aware of job openings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Sorry Lynx, I do not quite understand your post. Are you saying that Hitchens admits to the possible existence of the person depicted in the Bible, but denies that he is Messiah? That, to me, is an understandable position. Even Jews, Mormons and JWs take that position.
    What?!?!? Mormons do not take that position.

    What confuses people about Mormons' view of Jesus Christ is that they take the trinity literally, by way of believing the three beings of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three totally distinct persons, who are only a single "God" when they choose to act as a team (and they always choose this because they're perfect.) Mormonism is slightly more complicated than a lot of its contenders, but its beliefs are still all logically consistent with themselves. You just have to take the time and trouble to understand them.
    It is further complicated by the fact that Mormons use many of the same terms that Christians use, but mean something different when they use them. Basically, Mormans (as do JWs) believe Jesus is a created being while Christian believe Jesus was a part of and with God before anything was created. Mainstream Christianity, in a sense, generally believes that God the father conceived the creation and that Jesus did the actual creating. Jesus was not, himself, created but was the creative agent.

    This is neither the place nor is there space enough to go into a deep discussion of the internal inconsistencies in Mormonism. Nor does TSF readily lend itself to religious discussion which is not, at least, distantly related to some scientific tie-in. As much as I would like to engage, a discussion on the theological differences between Mormonism and Christianity will not likely fit into that link.
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    This makes sense in terms of the degree of social networking a religion creates. In a lot of religious communities, if you're down on your luck, the community will help you out so you don't have to turn to theft.
    Sure. But where are the examples of more religious nations - that's nations, now, not small towns or exemplary corners of civilization - having lower property crime rates?
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    But as long as you want to generalize about some other group to which are not now nor, apparently, have ever been a member, I can offer this generalization about atheists based on my experience as a former atheist. The reason I chose to be an atheist was because I believed that as a believer, I would prohibited from doing the things I wished to do and that I would be compelled to do things I didn't want to do. And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior. So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him. I rationalized my disbelief by all the means and reasons today's atheists use.

    What I find funny is that when I was an atheist, I needed all sorts of reasons and justifications to rationalize my disbelief. As a believer, I need no such things.
    I find the above incredibly insulting. I did not choose not to believe in god due to my wanting to do things that would have been against gods will. I chose not to believe in god because there is no credible evidence for the existence of a god, full stop. It has nothing to do with moral values.

    Your statement says more about your reasons for turning to god than it does about the morals of atheists - you wanted to be "bad", tried atheism in order to be able to live with yourself, then realised you didn't actually want to be "bad", but could only find the strength to be "good" through god.

    Good for you for choosing the right path to redeem yourself, but quit insulting the rest of us.
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    SpeedFreak said:

    I chose not to believe in god because there is no credible evidence for the existence of a god, full stop.
    This is, of course, the typical excuse of atheists as to why they do not believe. Does it even occur to you that there must be some substance to the beliefs of others, especially in view of the fact there are far more believers than there are non believers? The only thing I can say is that the substance is not found in science.

    Actually, there is some accuracy in your explanation as to how some people come to believe in God. At some point, some people come to the reality that there is a God whom they have offended with their rejection of Him as exempified by their disobedience to His moral standards. As a result, they take the steps (belief and repentance) necessary to repair that relationship.

    You'd think God would have come up with something more difficult than just saying I believe and I'm sorry. Yet, that seems to be the most difficult thing for people to do -- admit there is a God and that they owe him an apology for their behavior. Rather, they demand an apology from God for their existence.

    The other thing I find facinating about atheistic thinking is their seeming demand that God, if He exists, should conform to their concept of what He should be like rather than realizing that it is their responsibility to conform to what He thinks they should be like.

    There is this position of atheists and scientistics that if God exists, He should prove Himself to them in the way they want him to, in some physical way. What they are doing is tantamount to taking a ruler out to find out how much a bucket of apples weighs. Science is a proper measuring device for the physical world, but cannot, in the same way, measure that which is not physical. Truly, if one looks for God with the wrong devices, he will not find Him.

    I have no idea why you would be insulted by the truth, let alone "incredibly" insulted. Well, actually, I guess I do understand why. As Paul suggests, the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.

    Those who believe have made a spiritual choice to do so. Those who do not believe have made an intellectual choice to that effect. The believer has not given up his intellect. The only offensive thing in any of this sort of discussion is when those who rely solely on their intellect suggest that a recognition of the spiritual requires giving up the intellect.

    SpeedFreek also said:

    Good for you for choosing the right path to redeem yourself,
    This sort of shows your lack of understanding about redemption. I did not redeem myself. I have neither the ability nor means whereby to redeem myself. I was redeemed by the actions of another whose actions benefitted me even though I didn't ask for it and didn't deserve it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    SpeedFreak said:

    I chose not to believe in god because there is no credible evidence for the existence of a god, full stop.
    This is, of course, the typical excuse of atheists as to why they do not believe.
    It is not an "excuse" it is a reason. Or an explanation.

    Does it even occur to you that there must be some substance to the beliefs of others, especially in view of the fact there are far more believers than there are non believers?
    Not without evidence, no. A lot of people believe the number 13 is unlucky (and even more that 4 is); should I agree with them as well?

    The other thing I find facinating about atheistic thinking is their seeming demand that God, if He exists, should conform to their concept of what He should be like rather than realizing that it is their responsibility to conform to what He thinks they should be like.
    Atheists don't demand anything of a non-existent concept that others happen to believe in. I am often puzzled/fascinated by some of the more bizarre aspects of other people's gods, though.

    There is this position of atheists and scientistics that if God exists, He should prove Himself to them in the way they want him to, in some physical way.
    I think it is more an attitude of, why should I believe in invisible pink unicorns unless you can show me one?.

    Also, why should I believe in your god rather than the thousands of other choices out there?

    Science is a proper measuring device for the physical world, but cannot, in the same way, measure that which is not physical.
    Nor that which does not exist.

    I have no idea why you would be insulted by the truth, let alone "incredibly" insulted.
    Because you ascribe others' failure to share your beliefs as a deliberate act based on a desire to be immoral.

    Those who believe have made a spiritual choice to do so. Those who do not believe have made an intellectual choice to that effect.
    That is reasonable. Although I haven't made a choice not to believe, I just don't.
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    This is, of course, the typical excuse of atheists as to why they do not believe. Does it even occur to you that there must be some substance to the beliefs of others, especially in view of the fact there are far more believers than there are non believers? The only thing I can say is that the substance is not found in science.
    Yes it did occur, but given even the number of direct accounts in scripture, which are completely unsupported by science, it seems the only rational thing left is to conclude it's complete nonsense.

    I've never met anyone who believes in god who wasn't introduced to it while very young, unable to reason, and when most vulnerable to the emotional bonds of trusting those they loved the most. Those emotional bonds are what keep even otherwise rational people from making a clean break--often those young adults return because they can never shed the self-imposed shame reinforced by their families. This along with community links and sometimes for the sake of exposing their children is also why in a recent study up to 20% of atheist still attend church services. Atheist scientists sometimes still take kids to church | Believe It or Not | a Chron.com blog
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I have no idea why you would be insulted by the truth, let alone "incredibly" insulted. Well, actually, I guess I do understand why. As Paul suggests, the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.
    Here is why I am insulted by your "truth":
    And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior. So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him.
    So, what is it, about my behaviour, that a god would frown upon, were he to exist? Why do you assume I would behave in any way against a gods wishes? Why do you think I am immoral, just because I am an atheist?
    Last edited by SpeedFreek; January 4th, 2012 at 01:40 PM. Reason: removed inaccurate attribution of quote
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    Strange said:

    I think it is more an attitude of, why should I believe in invisible pink unicorns unless you can show me one?.
    This, again, is a typical atheist rationalization. Who is trying to get you to believe in invisible pink unicorns? This is an assinine argument.

    If you want to pick out something else you do not believe in, at least pick out something for which there is a following or a movement which is attempting to recruit others into their fold. You could do this on a political level such as believing or disbelieving those who think the U.S. can continue to spend more money than it has and still survive. There is a sizeable constituency on both sides of that issue.

    You continue the argument that you do not believe because you see not evidence. Believers see evidence of God's input in everything from the smallest bit of the atom to the vast expance of the universe and everything in between. We see evidence of God in the birth of a child and the death of a loved one. We see God's hand in the complexity of living cells and the simplicity of, well, there isn't much that simple.

    The difference is not that evidence is not available, it is that atheists do not accept as evidence those things which believers see as evidence. You ascribe these things mere happenstance -- something coming from nothing for no reason and without cause. It would seem to me that your belief has far less substance than ours.
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    The difference is not that evidence is not available, it is that atheists do not accept as evidence those things which believers see as evidence.
    That pretty much boils it down for most Atheist; not an excuse to misbehave as you implied.
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    I don't think belief or disbelief boils down to one thing, but a multiplicity of things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strange said:

    I think it is more an attitude of, why should I believe in invisible pink unicorns unless you can show me one?.
    This, again, is a typical atheist rationalization. Who is trying to get you to believe in invisible pink unicorns? This is an assinine argument.
    OK, let me rephrase: why should I believe X with no evidence? Feel free to substitute anything you want for "X".
    Last edited by Strange; January 2nd, 2012 at 06:09 PM. Reason: simplified
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    Thank you for simplifying your question. You continue to say there is no physical evidence of God. I have said that everything from the smallest part of the atom to the expanse of the Universe is evidence of God. Just because you do not accept that as evidence does not disqualify it as evidence. Your refusal to see that as evidence does not carry the authority of God who tells us that His glory is declared in the heavens and His handiwork is shown within the sphere of our atmosphere. If you do not see this as convincing evidence, that is on you. But that is not the equivalent of no evidence. It just means you are not convinced by this evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    Basically, Mormans (as do JWs) believe Jesus is a created being while Christian believe Jesus was a part of and with God before anything was created. Mainstream Christianity, in a sense, generally believes that God the father conceived the creation and that Jesus did the actual creating.
    Few Christians are up to speed on the details of their particular sect's theology, and not all Christian theological traditions accept that description anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    I have said that everything from the smallest part of the atom to the expanse of the Universe is evidence of God. Just because you do not accept that as evidence does not disqualify it as evidence. Your refusal to see that as evidence does not carry the authority of God who tells us that His glory is declared in the heavens and His handiwork is shown within the sphere of our atmosphere.
    Nothing you say carries the authority of any God.

    And when you tell other people what they believe, and you're wrong, your assertions about God lose whatever credibility they might have had among the naive. You err in claiming to know what other people believe and do and want for moral behavior and the like, then you claim to know what God wants, what God would "frown upon"? Please.
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    iceaura said

    Few Christians are up to speed on the details of their particular sect's theology, and not all Christian theological traditions accept that description anyway.
    I can agree with the first half of your sentence, but I am not sure which "description" you are saying not all Christian theological traditions accept. Without going into a long theogical dissertation, I can say that any sect that does not believe that Jesus and God the father are one and the same person cannot be a Christian sect. That is why Christians do not consider Mormons or JWs Christians. In the same way, anyone who does not believe that Muhammed is a prophet of God cannot be a Muslim. It would not matter what denomination of Islam you suscribed to.

    Truly, anything I say on my own carries any authority of God unless I am correctly expressing a Biblical concept.

    Nor am I sure what your last paragraph is saying. If you think I am wrong about what Mormon theology teaches, you need only to point out what they actually believe that is different from what I said is a basic part of their belief system -- that Jesus is a created being. I would also think the Bible does a pretty good job of telling what God disapproves of. The 10 Commandments are not all that difficult to understand. If one wants to do some or all of the things the 10 Commandments says shouldn't be done or refrain from those things which they say one should do, it becomes very clear that the person does not believe in God and perfers a different moral behavior. I'm don't know how you could say I am in err in that observation. If the shoe does not fit, then you are not someone to whom I am referring.

    If people who claim to be Christians are not up to speed with the theology, it seems even less likely that non-believers would be up to speed on the nuances of different denominations and sects.

    But it does remain that there are certain minimum basic beliefs one must have to fit into a particular belief system. If one does not have those beliefs, he does not fit into that belief system. Quite often, one's conduct speaks for itself and shows what that person believes.

    It does not seem likely that anyone who had a desire to follow the 10 Commandments would do so without believing in God. Nor does it seem likely that anyone who wanted to violate those standards would want to believe in a God who would hold them accountable for that behavior. Not that their disbelief absolves them from accountability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    Without going into a long theogical dissertation, I can say that any sect that does not believe that Jesus and God the father are one and the same person cannot be a Christian sect.
    Presbyterian theology declares God to be a Spirit - not a person at all. Are we to conclude that Presbyterians are not Christians?
    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    Truly, anything I say on my own carries any authority of God unless I am correctly expressing a Biblical concept.
    You have no authority of any God under any circumstances.
    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    If people who claim to be Christians are not up to speed with the theology, it seems even less likely that non-believers would be up to speed on the nuances of different denominations and sects.
    You will find that in the US non-believers usually have more familiarity with such things than believers. Few US Catholics, for example, have read much of the Bible. Few US Protestants have studied other closely related Christian sects, even, let alone such exotic theologies as Catholicism or Mormonism.
    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    I would also think the Bible does a pretty good job of telling what God disapproves of. The 10 Commandments are not all that difficult to understand.
    There's eleven of them, and half the Christians I know are at loggerheads with the other half over what exactly they mean.

    The Bible may or may not have anything to do with what God disapproves of, but its perfection in that regard is moot, because neither the writers nor the readers of the Bible are Gods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    You will find that in the US non-believers usually have more familiarity with such things than believers. Few US Catholics, for example, have read much of the Bible. Few US Protestants have studied other closely related Christian sects, even, let alone such exotic theologies as Catholicism or Mormonism.
    There' is evidence to support that.
    "Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions."
    U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey - Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

    Not too surprising since many atheist came from being Christians and did significant study in their struggle to make a decision. Hitchens was one of them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    It just means you are not convinced by this evidence.
    That is because it is not evidence; it is just opinion. Evidence needs to be objective, measurable, repeatable, comparable, etc. Consider a couple of court cases:

    Case A:
    Quote Originally Posted by Prosecution
    Everything from the smallest part of the atom to the expanse of the Universe is evidence of the defendants guilt. His guilt is declared in the heavens and his modus operandi is shown within the sphere of our atmosphere. I sincerely believe he is guilty.
    Quote Originally Posted by Defence
    The prosecution have produced no concrete evidence beyond hearsay. The few witnesses they have are vague and contradictory. One described the assailant as resembling a "burning bush". Two others are engaged in a long, and occasionally violent, argument about whether the defendant is a criminal in human form or a human with criminal tendencies. The defendant has not even been seen in this courtroom despite the prosecution's repeated assertions he is here.
    Case B:
    Quote Originally Posted by Prosecution
    The jury have been shown over 100 examples of physical evidence from the crime scene. The fingerprints found at the scene match the defendant. The DNA samples are consistent with the defendant. The defendan'ts car was seen (and photographed) parked outside and his GPS system records a journey from his home to the crime scene. A number of eye witnesses saw the defendant commit the crime; including his brother, his wife[*], his mother, three judges, 42 police officers. The crime was not just caught on security cameras but recorded by 14 international TV news channels that happened to be present. [and so on for several hours]
    Quote Originally Posted by Defence
    Yes, we accept all that. However, science doesn't know everything and scientists have been wrong in the past. So ... errrmm... maybe he didn't do it?
    Which of these cases has produced real evidence?
    Which is more likely to result in a conviction?
    Which more closely resembles your argument?

    [*] Not available in all jurisdictions.
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    iceaura said:

    Presbyterian theology declares God to be a Spirit - not a person at all. Are we to conclude that Presbyterians are not Christians?
    I wish I did not have to spend so much time correcting things presented as facts. Opinions are usually based on facts and if one has his facts wrong, his opinion may be somewhat off.

    I quote from the Evangelical Presbyterian version of the Westminister Confession of Faith which is fairly common among most Christian denominations:
    2.3
    In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity [emphasis mine]
    The Westminister Confession of Faith is adopted from earlier similar confessions using the same type of language. You are correct that they also refer to them as spirits but, unfortunately, we are not privvy to the spirit word which would represent our human concept of person.

    Strange had some phony courtroom scenes which were, well, strange. First of all, heresay is evidence; it just cannot be used to prove what the second person said out of court is true. If person B testifies that Person A says he took Sally to the movies that is heresay. His statement cannot be used to show that he, indeed went to the movies with Sally, but it can be used to show that he knew Sally. If a person A exclaims, "My God, Billy shot me!" and then dies and Person B testifies to what Person A said, it can be used to show that Billy shot him because of an exception to the heresay rule. Strange may need to brush up on his understanding of heresay and how it is treated in court.

    Lynx Fox said:

    There' is evidence to support that.
    "Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions."
    U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey - Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

    Not too surprising since many atheist came from being Christians and did significant study in their struggle to make a decision. Hitchens was one of them.
    Starting at the end, Hitchens' brother went the opposite way even though they probably had pretty much the same upbringing and childhood religious experience. My feeling would be that Christopher never believed and sought out rationalizations for his disbelief. No biggie. There are probably just about as many people who move in the opposite direction. C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell are people who professed atheism or agnosticism before their studies on the topic convinced them of the truth of the Bible.

    I would agree that there is a large number of non-believers who have a greater depth of Bible text and different nuances of theological thought than do some rank and file members of various denominations. However, their knowledge is compiled and organized in an effort to refute and discredit believers. Knowing what is said is not the same as knowing what is meant. Most atheists and agnostics tend to be post-modernists who believe the importance of a thought is more in what it means to the hearer or reader than what it meant to the sayer or writer. The guy who likes broccoli does not need to know of it's nutritional advantages to avail himself of those advantages. The person who believes that he is saved by the grace of God based on birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus does not need to know all the ins and outs of all the theological nuances that are discussed among intellectual arguers. He merely needs to know that he is trusting in Jesus for salvation.

    Those of us who ponder these things deeply are the ones with a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    Presbyterian theology declares God to be a Spirit - not a person at all. Are we to conclude that Presbyterians are not Christians?

    I wish I did not have to spend so much time correcting things presented as facts. Opinions are usually based on facts and if one has his facts wrong, his opinion may be somewhat off.
    I was raised the son of a Presbyterian minister, and am a communicant member of the Presbyterian Church - this requires attendance at something called "Communicant's Class", in which one is instructed in the basic theology of, say, the United Presbyterian Church.

    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    I quote from the Evangelical Presbyterian version of the Westminister Confession of Faith which is fairly common among most Christian denominations:
    2.3
    In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity [emphasis mine]
    The interpretation, as well as the emphasis, is yours as well. It is not standard Presbyterian theology.




    I assure you that the One God, whatever may be "in the unity" of His eternal power and substance, is not considered to be a person in Presbyterian doctrine. He (though male, often, depending on one's minister) is a Spirit, and that is the correct answer on the little exams one takes.
    Quote Originally Posted by dayturner
    I would agree that there is a large number of non-believers who have a greater depth of Bible text and different nuances of theological thought than do some rank and file members of various denominations. However, their knowledge is compiled and organized in an effort to refute and discredit believers. Knowing what is said is not the same as knowing what is meant.
    The point was that in the US, on average, atheists are in fact better informed about what is said - what is actually written in the Bible, what Christians and other theists actually say and do - than theists.

    This is somewhat in the same category of circumstance as the fact that a dog who is beaten when its master gets drunk will be better informed about the master's drinking habits and behavior during inebriation than the master himself.

    If what is meant is not what is written or said, then naturally the knowledge of what is written and said thereby finds limits of implication - but that is not the usual position of the religious theist. The common experience is the opposite - that the religious theists and especially the more committed or dedicated ones consider what is said and written to be of utmost importance. They just don't, on average, know what it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strange that no one has commented on the passing of Christopher Hitchens who was one of the few of today's anti-religion spokesmen who had the respect of believers.
    Just returning to the OP for a moment, I have to say that I had never heard of him until he died and was rather surprised by the fuss being made about an obscure (to me) journalist (by other journalists, at least).
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    iceaura said:


    I assure you that the One God, whatever may be "in the unity" of His eternal power and substance, is not considered to be a person in Presbyterian doctrine. He (though male, often, depending on one's minister) is a Spirit, and that is the correct answer on the little exams one takes.
    Hmmm, then maybe Presbyterians are among those Christians who you suggest do not know their scripture as well as they should, especially if they are being taught that "person" is an improper way to reference God. I cannot find anyplace where the Bible actually refers to the personhood of God.

    To be sure, the term is most often used to refer to a human being, but there are few words in the English language which do not have dual uses. One of the definitions in the College Edition of New Webster's Dictionary is: theol. any of the three hypostases or modes of being in the Trinity.

    If there is some element of the Presbyterian movement which chooses to eliminate that word from their lexicon as a way to reference God, I suppose that is their prerogative. The word person does not detract from God's spirituality nor does it lower him to humanity status. It merely suggests that God self aware, rational being of personality. God is a spirit being and I have no compunction at that being used as a reference to his being. But I also think any of the three modes of God as well as the three together can be referred to as a person. You don't have to if you don't want to.

    I can only say that it seems to me that you are as unaware of this common reference to the personhood of God as I am that a portion of a denomenation can be upset with that usage.
    Last edited by daytonturner; January 3rd, 2012 at 10:01 PM.
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    Dayton, I am still waiting for an answer to my last question, posted here, and I am also awaiting an apology for your accusation that I am immoral.
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    Well, the main reason I did not answer your question was because it was actually a self-comment in the form of a question. So that others will not have to bounce around to find the exchange in question I will insert the previous exchange here:

    Here is why I am insulted by your "truth":
    And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior. So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him.

    So, what is it, about my behaviour, that a god would frown upon, were he to exist? Why do you assume I would behave in any way against a gods wishes? Why do you think I am immoral, just because I am an atheist?
    Please note that I never used the word moral or immoral. That is some association you applied, apparently in a response to your own conscience which would tell you that conduct against any god's wishes would be immoral.

    But your question is completely internally conflicted and hardly makes enough sense to address. You do admit you have behavior and then wonder why some unidentified god would find that behavior objectionable. And I have to say I do not know what your behavior is but that I know if the unidentified God you had in mind was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you would not be able to live up to His standards or conduct. Not because you are a nasty, mean, dispicable person, but because you are a human being subject to the same human conduct that each of us experiences. So in this way I know that you behave in a way that is against that God's expressed wishes for human conduct.

    Second, since you apparently do not believe in God, I have no way to measure your moral standard. Likely, it is not written down anyplace and I would have no way to determine if you had complied with it or violated it. Nor would I know, if upon finding that the standard was inconvenient or too restrictive, whether it had been unilaterally altered. Nor can I know what, if any, are the repercussion or consequences of violating that standard.

    Remembering that I never used the term moral or immoral, I am offended that you would erroneously insist that I had called you an immoral person. Were I to put a tag on you, it would be the same tag I wear -- sinner. The only difference would be that mine would have a little drop down that read "Saved by Grace."
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Please note that I never used the word moral or immoral. That is some association you applied, apparently in a response to your own conscience which would tell you that conduct against any god's wishes would be immoral.
    Why would your god frown on behavior that is moral? There is perfectly acceptable behavior that your god disapproves of? How does that work? Where does your morality come from?

    So in this way I know that you behave in a way that is against that God's expressed wishes for human conduct.
    Ah, so your god expects everyone to be perfect?

    Were I to put a tag on you, it would be the same tag I wear -- sinner.
    And what gives you the right to do that? What sin have you determined that SpeedFreak has committed? And wouldn't that sin be immoral, contradicting your opening statement?

    Your post is completely internally conflicted and hardly makes enough sense to address.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayton
    The word person does not detract from God's spirituality nor does it lower him to humanity status. It merely suggests that God self aware, rational being of personality. God is a spirit being and I have no compunction at that being used as a reference to his being. But I also think any of the three modes of God as well as the three together can be referred to as a person. You don't have to if you don't want to.
    Presbyterians are more literate and better educated than most other Christian sects, and many of them are sophisticated enough to distinguish between the One God and a reference to a "mode of being" contained within a somewhat mysterious Trinity. When you use "person" to refer to "the three together" rather than one of those modes or aspects of Trinity, you are going well beyond Westminster and contrary to Presbyterian theology.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I can only say that it seems to me that you are as unaware of this common reference to the personhood of God
    I am not only long aware of it, but observant in the matter of who makes such reference and why and when.

    Not all Christians, and not always among any Christians. You are wrong in your claim, above, that such reference characterizes all Christianity. And you exemplify the observation above, that in the US on average believers tend to be less well informed in such matters than nonbelievers. They haven't observed as widely, for starters, and their own commitments to certain interpretations of the beliefs clouds their perceptions of their fellow believers, on the other.

    Hitchens was as aware of that as anyone, and no more respectful of the situation than Dawkins or Dennett - so we look for the source of his more favorable image among fundies elsewhere. My guess is his authoritarian and war-justifying politics, especially in the Mideast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Remembering that I never used the term moral or immoral, I am offended that you would erroneously insist that I had called you an immoral person. Were I to put a tag on you, it would be the same tag I wear -- sinner. The only difference would be that mine would have a little drop down that read "Saved by Grace."
    I was not in error. You said atheists are atheists because they knew that if god existed, he would frown on their behaviour. Your source for this assertion is your own experience of atheism, rather than an accurate appraisal of the varying reasons why many people are atheist. Your sample size is far too small, and your results show a definite selection bias*.

    What you said is actually an insult to me - you are judging me by your own standards, assuming that the divine force that created the universe would not like some of the things I do. According to your divine force who created the universe, I am a sinner by default, because I am human. Nice.

    Well, luckily for me, your divine force who created the universe does not exist. Therefore, from my viewpoint, it is only you who judges me to be a sinner, which puts you in the unlucky position of having insulted me.

    *Here's the science bit!
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    Strange asked:

    Why would your god frown on behavior that is moral? There is perfectly acceptable behavior that your god disapproves of? How does that work? Where does your morality come from?
    And what of behavior that is neutral? The Bible defines behaviors which are both recommended and proscribed but it hardly covers the entirety of possibilities of human behavior. If you wish to call participating in those behaviors which the Bible proscribes immoral, that is your choice of words. The Bible's choice of words is sin. In fact, the Bible (KJV at least) never uses the word immoral. And, even if it did, it would be in reference to behavior, not a person. If I were to point to a specific conduct of another as being immoral, that is a comment on his conduct, not his overall character. Unfortunately, my experience with atheists is that they are unable to make that differentiation. I do not look at myself in terms or degrees of morality. The next thing is that moral standards are so diverse anymore that the word hardly defines any level of behavior.

    Strange then asked:

    Ah, so your god expects everyone to be perfect?
    God knows that none of us is perfect. That is why He established a means whereby we can avoid the spirtual consequences of those imperfections. I suppose, however, that he wishes that we could be perfect just as we might wish our children could be perfect in everything while knowing they are not.

    Strange continued:
    And what gives you the right to do that? What sin have you determined that SpeedFreak has committed? And wouldn't that sin be immoral, contradicting your opening statement?
    I merely expressed what the Bible has to say about humans when it says all we like sheep have gone astray or there is none righteous or all have sinned. You dispute is with God, not me. I would not know what sins anyone has committed, only that we all fail to be perfect. I am as sure of that as I am that the sun will rise in East each day. And, again, without knowing what you consider immoral behavior it is difficult to know that whether that conduct would be both sinful and immoral. There are a lot of things which are sinful that some people might not consider immoral. You are on your own as to whether you consider it immoral which is different from sinful -- the two are not synonomous.
    Last edited by daytonturner; January 4th, 2012 at 09:53 PM. Reason: fixing quote credit
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I merely expressed what the Bible has to say about humans when it says all we like sheep have gone astray or there is none righteous or all have sinned. You dispute is with God, not me.
    Confusing yourself, your interpretations and translation choices of Biblical verses, with your own God, is one of those things you Abrahamic theists do that kind of damages your credibility.

    No atheist is disputing with any God.

    Which brings us back to Hitchens - since his disputes with theists hardly differed from those of Dawkins or Dennett (except for being a little less sophisticated), how comes it that they have warmer feelings toward him? My explanation is his Israel friendly politics and war support, but maybe some theist has another?
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    Iceaura said:
    Presbyterians are more literate and better educated than most other Christian sects, and many of them are sophisticated enough to distinguish between the One God and a reference to a "mode of being" contained within a somewhat mysterious Trinity. When you use "person" to refer to "the three together" rather than one of those modes or aspects of Trinity, you are going well beyond Westminster and contrary to Presbyterian theology.
    I honestly could not care less whether you think the Godhead is a person or if only his modalities are persons. If it is important to you, so be it. I'm not sure any of us can actually grasp the being of the God of the Bible. For some, the task is so formidable, they prefer to ignore it.

    Of such silly meaningless disagreements come church splits and denominalizations.

    I am still trying to figure out if you are saying you think it is possible to be a Christian and not believe Jesus is God.

    As to Hitchens, I think he had the unique quality of addressing the arguments rather than the people nor taking as a personal offense the arguments of others. It seems to be a rare quality among atheists -- many of whom will, of course, take offense at my noting of an undesirable behavior.

    Unique is not the right word there, but I cannot find one to say what I mean.
    Last edited by daytonturner; January 4th, 2012 at 10:39 PM. Reason: adding final comment
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    SpeedFreak said:
    Well, luckily for me, your divine force who created the universe does not exist.
    You better hope to hell you're correct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I honestly could not care less whether you think the Godhead is a person or if only his modalities are persons.
    So we agree that your characterization of Christians as people who believe God is a person is wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Of such silly meaningless disagreements come church splits and denominalizations.
    Yep. Something atheists are particularly alert to, since denial of them is often basic to the kinds of threats and insults Abrahamic theists deliver with no apparent self-awareness.

    They simply don't seem to be aware of what their other hand is doing, which is a condition recommended for times of charity and benevolence IIRC.

    And once again, not to belabor what is after all the OP: why would Hitchens have been "respected" by this kind of a crowd, and not Dawkins or Dennett?
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    why would Hitchens have been "respected" by this kind of a crowd, and not Dawkins or Dennett?
    I might simply come to down to Hitchens wasn't a scientist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strange asked:

    Why would your god frown on behavior that is moral? There is perfectly acceptable behavior that your god disapproves of? How does that work? Where does your morality come from?
    And what of behavior that is neutral?
    Exactly. Why would your god frown on that?

    You talk about indulging in "behavior that god frowns on" as the reason people are (i.e. the reason you were) atheists. If that behavior is not bad in any sense (not proscribed, not a sin, not immoral) why would your god frown on it? And why would you or anyone else have to pretend there is no god because you fear being frowned on (scary as that sounds)?

    Your argument make little sense to me. That may be because you assume everyone is an atheist for the same hypocritical reasons you chose to be. It may just be as simple as people not sharing your beliefs.

    You dispute is with God, not me.
    Maybe, but he isn't talking to me. You seem to know what he thinks, so you'll do.

    I would not know what sins anyone has committed, only that we all fail to be perfect.
    And yet you label us all sinners. So because we are not perfect, we are sinners. Is that right? It is a sin not to be perfect?
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Sorry Lynx, I do not quite understand your post. Are you saying that Hitchens admits to the possible existence of the person depicted in the Bible, but denies that he is Messiah? That, to me, is an understandable position. Even Jews, Mormons and JWs take that position.
    What?!?!? Mormons do not take that position.

    What confuses people about Mormons' view of Jesus Christ is that they take the trinity literally, by way of believing the three beings of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three totally distinct persons, who are only a single "God" when they choose to act as a team (and they always choose this because they're perfect.) Mormonism is slightly more complicated than a lot of its contenders, but its beliefs are still all logically consistent with themselves. You just have to take the time and trouble to understand them.
    It is further complicated by the fact that Mormons use many of the same terms that Christians use, but mean something different when they use them. Basically, Mormans (as do JWs) believe Jesus is a created being while Christian believe Jesus was a part of and with God before anything was created. Mainstream Christianity, in a sense, generally believes that God the father conceived the creation and that Jesus did the actual creating. Jesus was not, himself, created but was the creative agent.
    Mormons believe that God the Father is also a created being, and that there are no uncreated beings anywhere in the universe. The main problem that creates is it leaves unanswered the question of where it all began. If you ask most Mormons they'd say it's an infinite series of Gods creating other Gods with no actual starting point.

    It's one of Joseph Smith's most controversial teachings: "As Man is, God once was. As God is, Man may become."

    That's possibly the biggest difference between Mormonism and other Christian faiths. Jesus Christ is a God in both theologies. Full sense. It's just that in Mormonism, it's not an exclusive thing. Any number of people could become Gods. God the Father is actually somebody's son too. You could call that guy "God the Grand Father" if you want. We don't ever interact with that guy. He's believed to exist, but not in our universe. There's kind of a "One God-the-Father per universe rule. If you become a God yourself, you would leave this universe and create a new one. (Making you the first being to exist in the new universe.) Of course, in order to ever become a God yourself, you'd have to become perfect also, so it's not an immediate thing. Most people would get there, like millions of years after their death.

    So you see? It doesn't actually contradict. It's just really complicated.


    This is neither the place nor is there space enough to go into a deep discussion of the internal inconsistencies in Mormonism. Nor does TSF readily lend itself to religious discussion which is not, at least, distantly related to some scientific tie-in. As much as I would like to engage, a discussion on the theological differences between Mormonism and Christianity will not likely fit into that link.
    Fair enough, but this kind of discussion highlights the problems that may also exist between some atheists and some theists. Sometimes we don't even understand what each other are even saying, so how do we even know what we're not believing?
    Last edited by kojax; January 5th, 2012 at 05:42 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    This is, of course, the typical excuse of atheists as to why they do not believe. Does it even occur to you that there must be some substance to the beliefs of others, especially in view of the fact there are far more believers than there are non believers? The only thing I can say is that the substance is not found in science.
    Yes it did occur, but given even the number of direct accounts in scripture, which are completely unsupported by science, it seems the only rational thing left is to conclude it's complete nonsense.

    I've never met anyone who believes in god who wasn't introduced to it while very young, unable to reason, and when most vulnerable to the emotional bonds of trusting those they loved the most. Those emotional bonds are what keep even otherwise rational people from making a clean break--often those young adults return because they can never shed the self-imposed shame reinforced by their families. This along with community links and sometimes for the sake of exposing their children is also why in a recent study up to 20% of atheist still attend church services. Atheist scientists sometimes still take kids to church | Believe It or Not | a Chron.com blog
    Yeah. When I gave up Mormonism I pretty much lost all my friends. They don't hate me for it or anything, but any time I'm around them they always want to ask me why I don't go to church, why I gave it up, and naturally they will never be satisfied with any answer I give, so it's just plain too much of a pain to hang out with them anymore.

    I remember being afraid I would lose my connection to my family, but fortunately they turned out to be ok about it.
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    Kojax:

    OK, I now understand where you are coming from, knowing you are ex-Mormon. Thank you for expanding on (some of) the critical differences between Mormonism and main-stream Christianity. It is my understanding that only Mormon apostates are doomed (by LDS) while there remains a chance for anyone else to obtain to at least the lowest level of heaven even after they die. I should think Mormonism provides a last ditch chance for atheists while main stream Christianity does not. As such, were I an atheist, I would be rooting for Mormans to be right if atheists are wrong.

    I am glad that your leaving the church did not break your family relationships as often happens. As to your friends, I think it goes both ways. Many people who become Christians find themselves disassociating from their old friends and finding new ones. They cease to have common interests and activities.
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    Strange:

    I can understand why you would adopt that nickname in view of your strange misunderstandings.

    From a Christian perspective, people are sinners because are imperfect. But it is not the imperfection which is sinful, rather, it is the things our imperfection causes us to do. We are not condemned by imperfection as you imply, but by our unwillingness to admit imperfection and unwillingness to acknowledge that our actions are offensive to the One who is perfect.

    Actually, I suspect God is talking to you but you are not listening.
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    Iceaura said:

    So we agree that your characterization of Christians as people who believe God is a person is wrong.
    I think you have mischaracterized my original thought -- taking the emphasis from my insistence that believing Jesus is a person of the Godhead is an essential Christian belief and changing it to emphasize some irrelevant piece of terminology as though referring to the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) as a person is a form of blasphemy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    SpeedFreak said:
    Well, luckily for me, your divine force who created the universe does not exist.
    You better hope to hell you're correct.
    Well, I'm certainly not going to resort to Pascal's wager, that's for sure.

    But whatever, YOU ARE STILL WRONG to say that atheists are atheists because if they knew god existed, he would frown on their behaviour.

    So, when are you going to retract that heinous insult to atheists? Do you REALLY need me to explain just why it is such an insult? I will, if you ask.
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    I am not going to retract that statement, SpeedFreak because that is a reason many atheists are atheists. It is certainly not the only reason, and I never claimed that it was, some people are atheists. However, it is one of the main reasons and many other "reasons" are little more than rationalizations and justifications -- the main one being, "There is no evidence." There is a difference between a reason and a rationization.

    Atheists would be far better of merely saying, "I just don't believe," and not trying to pretend there is some good reason not to believe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Atheists would be far better of merely saying, "I just don't believe," and not trying to pretend there is some good reason not to believe.
    I just don't believe. Why does that need a reason? I just wish people would stop pretending there was a good reason to believe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I am not going to retract that statement, SpeedFreak because that is a reason many atheists are atheists. It is certainly not the only reason, and I never claimed that it was, some people are atheists. However, it is one of the main reasons and many other "reasons" are little more than rationalizations and justifications -- the main one being, "There is no evidence." There is a difference between a reason and a rationization.

    Atheists would be far better of merely saying, "I just don't believe," and not trying to pretend there is some good reason not to believe.
    Next you'll be telling me I spell my own name wrong, when it is you who keeps doing that!

    I can tell you that it is not the main reason many atheists are atheists. You are wrong to say that.

    It has nothing to do with me thinking that if god existed, he would frown upon me. That would imply that I accept the possibility that god might exist, which is insulting to an atheist like me - you are calling me a closet agnostic!

    You have it all backwards. It is not a rationalisation or justification. That implies we are trying to find good reasons not to believe in god, which is all back to front. I didn't decide not to believe in god and then try to find reasons why I made that choice. I had no belief in god to begin with, and when others tried to persuade me that he existed I listened for quite a long while before I realised that I still didn't believe it, and it had nothing to do with my perceived view of his opinion of me!

    I just don't believe. Why would I?

    When an atheist is asked why they don't believe, the answer often given is that there is no credible evidence. The reason for this is that, from the atheist point of view, that is what it would take to possibly change their view on the subject. Simple enough. It is not a rationalisation or justification at all, it is the reason they are an atheist. If it were the other way round, and there was evidence for god, then they probably wouldn't have been an atheist anyway.

    So, from an atheist point of view, the question as to why I don't believe is misguided. I have reverted back to, or never changed from, the default position. The real question is, why do people believe in god?

    Your view of atheism definitely says more about the history of your own belief system than it does about atheism in general. You sound like you were never actually an atheist at all. Your atheism was based on the notion that if god were to exist, he would frown upon you, so there was an implicit acceptance of the possibility god exists underlying your atheism - therefore it is you who was the closet agnostic!
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    why would Hitchens have been "respected" by this kind of a crowd, and not Dawkins or Dennett?

    I might simply come to down to Hitchens wasn't a scientist.
    Neither is Dennett.
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    I just wanted to note that speedfreek's explanation of why he is an atheist was the best description of this position that I have read. Too often attempts to describe the position to theists begin to sound like circular arguments, or just illogical. This was clear cut and elegant. Well done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I am not going to retract that statement, SpeedFreak because that is a reason many atheists are atheists. It is certainly not the only reason, and I never claimed that it was, some people are atheists. However, it is one of the main reasons
    Prove it.

    and many other "reasons" are little more than rationalizations and justifications -- the main one being, "There is no evidence."
    Seems like a perfectly good reason to me. What is your objection? (Noting that you didn't respond to why your "evidence" isn't)

    You seem to think that the default position is to believe and that most atheists have made some sort of conscious choice to stop believing or have undergone some sort of "conversion" to atheism.

    I am going to assert, with just as much evidence, that most atheists just never believed in things that don't exist.

    By the way, why the heck is there a word for "atheist"; we don't call people who don't enjoy football "afans", or people who aren't bothered about food "afoodies".

    I never made a choice to be an atheist. Although I do remember when I found out I was one (or rather that other people weren't). I remember at school people talking about things like "christenings" and "confirmations"; although I didn't really know what they were talking about, I just assumed it was just some sort of social ritual they went through - like birthdays and Christmas. It was much later (after I had left school) that I realised some of the people I was talking to actually believed the things they were talking about. That was weird.

    A bit like finding out that people don't just read their horoscopes in the paper for a bit of a laugh - they actually believe it and get upset if it says bad things and excited if it says good things. That is weird.

    I assume daytonturner won't see what seems weird about that. But imagine meeting an adult who believes Santa Clause is real - doesn't just go along with it for the kids, or think it is all good fun. But actually sincerely believes in the fat guy in a red coat. That would be weird, no?
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Strange:

    I can understand why you would adopt that nickname in view of your strange misunderstandings.

    From a Christian perspective, people are sinners because are imperfect. But it is not the imperfection which is sinful, rather, it is the things our imperfection causes us to do. We are not condemned by imperfection as you imply, but by our unwillingness to admit imperfection and unwillingness to acknowledge that our actions are offensive to the One who is perfect.

    Actually, I suspect God is talking to you but you are not listening.
    Strange to imagine someone going through all that trouble to create a universe, only to then be "offended" by its imperfection, which he himself created / allowed in the first place...?
    Also, you seem to project many very human attributes onto a being which is by definition not in any way human. How do you know what God is offended by, and what makes you so certain that he has emotions which allow him to feel offended ? These are all very human concepts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Actually, I suspect God is talking to you but you are not listening.
    Actually, I suspect it is hard to hear something that doesn't exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    [Also, you seem to project many very human attributes onto a being which is by definition not in any way human. How do you know what God is offended by, and what makes you so certain that he has emotions which allow him to feel offended ? These are all very human concepts.
    But according to Christians, God made Man in his own image. So it is not unreasonable to conclude that god can sometimes be a bit of an ass.
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    Sorry about mispelling your name Speedfreek. While it could be that it was a Freudian slip or that I am use to working with words or which freek is not one, it is more likely that I just neglected to notice. I once wrote about the Beetles.

    As to "choosing:" It may be that one does not originally sit down and weigh everything at a young age. It may also be that someone could in some hidden recess of the free world spend an entired early childhood never being introduced to the concept of a God. At some point, however, we do determine which side of the question of belief we come down on and each day we confirm or disaffirm taht position. In that way, each day, after we are aware there is a choice we make a conscious "choice" to remain as we are or to change.

    I loved the question about why we have atheists but no a-footballers. I guess it is because a new word must develp a following, otherwise our only choices are to comply with or ignore the established vernacular (freeks notwithstanding). But I submit there is a big difference between not liking football and believing football does not exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    At some point, however, we do determine which side of the question of belief we come down on and each day we confirm or disaffirm taht position. In that way, each day, after we are aware there is a choice we make a conscious "choice" to remain as we are or to change.
    It is all a question of mindset, and it seems you cannot understand mine. You have a really strange view of non-belief!

    I was introduced to the concept of god at an early age, and as someone else in this thread said, I took it to be a social ritual of some sort. I never actually believed, I just went along with it all until I realised I really didn't believe it and didn't want to keep up the ritual any more. I was around 9 years old by that time.

    I do not need to re-evaluate my lack of belief on a daily basis. In fact, I can't remember the last time I considered it.

    I am guessing that something significant would have to happen for me to re-evaluate my lack of belief - either some scientific discovery that actually pointed towards intelligent design, rather than the weak inferences we get from the ID crowd, or perhaps if he revealed himself to me in some way that I could be reasonably sure was not an hallucination, then I might have to make that conscious "choice" you refer to. But I can say for sure I do not question my position on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis!

    I'm sorry to use this as an example, and I do not do it to belittle the beliefs of the faithful, but to me it is exactly the same situation as with fairies and unicorns and their mystical powers. I was introduced to the concept of them, and after hearing all the stories I didn't believe it. Nothing since has occurred that would change my mind.
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    This comparison to fairies and unicorns is invalid. There is no a large movement (if any movement at all) that is suggesting that fairies and unicorns exist. And if there were, I would join you in insisting that they show me the fairy or unicorn.

    I would place them in the same category as UFOs and ETs. Any of these things would have to have a physical, viewable presense. So it would be reasonable to demand a physical showing of a fairy or a unicorn or a UFO or an ET. Those who believe in God have no way to produce physical evidence of a non-physical thing. If you cannot understand this difference, it certainly has a bearing on your position.

    Do you believe there is love, or hate or ideas? You cannot see them although you can see the results of them. The fact that you cannot see them does not negate their existence.

    You can see the Universe but you cannot tell me where it came from. My understand would be that, if you are a 100 percent atheist, you would have to believe the Universe came from nothing, was assembled by nothing and exists for no reason. It just seems to me that such a belief requires more faith and has less substance to it than to believe a supernatural intelligence from an indiscribable place called eternity assembled the Universe from components that existed in eternity and used them to created the time-space continuum in which we dwell. Moreover, the assembler did so for his own personal pleasure much as I might build a model airplane.

    I have no idea how often you are faced with a circumstance in which you consciously acceed to your atheism. But I would say each time you respond to a post on this thread, you are aware of it. And, in that way, you continue to exercise your position.

    I agree that when I consider something politically, I do not sit down and go through a litany of points from which I choose whether my position is going to be liberal or conservative, but I am aware my position has an effect on my thinking concerning that particular issue. And, in so thinking, I am in a sense "re-evaluating" the position I have already taken. I am not suggesting that every time something with a religious implication comes up, you have a Jeff Goldbloom scene in which you are going through a long list of inputs and points in a few moments of reflection.

    I think I do understand your mindset as well as how reasonable (sane) people reason things through. What I find difficult to understand is why similarly situated people can be exposed to the same sets of input and come up with different perceptions of what they have been exposed to. The other night, after one of the debates, one of the commentators said what one of the candidates had said was virtual self destruction while another commentator claimed the same comment was the most likely thing to draw support.

    It would seem that we have all been exposed to the claims of God upon our souls. In some of us, that claim resonates; in others it has no impact. Our differences are not found so much in the informational inputs we have received, but rather in our perceptions of those inputs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    This comparison to fairies and unicorns is invalid. There is no a large movement (if any movement at all) that is suggesting that fairies and unicorns exist. And if there were, I would join you in insisting that they show me the fairy or unicorn.
    Sorry, I was worried that would touch a nerve. But yet again, you simply don't understand the other mindset. It doesn't matter whether just one person claims the possibility or a billion people make the claim - remarkable claims require remarkable evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I would place them in the same category as UFOs and ETs. Any of these things would have to have a physical, viewable presense. So it would be reasonable to demand a physical showing of a fairy or a unicorn or a UFO or an ET. Those who believe in God have no way to produce physical evidence of a non-physical thing. If you cannot understand this difference, it certainly has a bearing on your position.
    Of course I understand the difference, but it completely irrelevant to me, and you just don't get that, do you? As things stand, god is unfalsifyable, and that may always be the case. Therefore, I would expect to remain an atheist. Remarkable claims require remarkable evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Do you believe there is love, or hate or ideas? You cannot see them although you can see the results of them. The fact that you cannot see them does not negate their existence.
    Of course they exist, as they are the constructs of intelligent life.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    You can see the Universe but you cannot tell me where it came from. My understand would be that, if you are a 100 percent atheist, you would have to believe the Universe came from nothing, was assembled by nothing and exists for no reason. It just seems to me that such a belief requires more faith and has less substance to it than to believe a supernatural intelligence from an indiscribable place called eternity assembled the Universe from components that existed in eternity and used them to created the time-space continuum in which we dwell. Moreover, the assembler did so for his own personal pleasure much as I might build a model airplane.
    Wow! Is that how you really think?

    Okay, well I don't have to believe the universe came from nothing, was assembled by nothing and exists for no reason. The universe might well be part of a larger, eternal system. Does that shock you? The universe might indeed have been spawned from components that exist eternally, but through a natural process due to the physical laws in that larger eternal system.

    Of course, there is no need to ask where the components came from, as they exist eternally, as do the physical laws in that larger eternal system. Same answers as for where god came from, but no god required. No need at all for that whole extra level of complexity that implies intelligence behind creation. Occam's razor shaves god out of the equation.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I have no idea how often you are faced with a circumstance in which you consciously acceed to your atheism. But I would say each time you respond to a post on this thread, you are aware of it. And, in that way, you continue to exercise your position.
    Not at all! I simply continue in the default mode of non-belief. One doesn't exercise one's non-beliefs.
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    SpeedFreek said:
    Of course I understand the difference, but it [is] completely irrelevant to me . . .
    Wow! That is one strong argument for your position. I am rendered speechless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    SpeedFreek said:
    Of course I understand the difference, but it [is] completely irrelevant to me . . .
    Wow! That is one strong argument for your position. I am rendered speechless.
    Then some would say my work here is done!

    But seriously, the problem here is that you keep on thinking I need an argument for my non-belief in something, when the opposite is true. Unfortunately, for the notion of god, it seems the opposite isn't going to happen any time soon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    This comparison to fairies and unicorns is invalid. There is no a large movement (if any movement at all) that is suggesting that fairies and unicorns exist. And if there were, I would join you in insisting that they show me the fairy or unicorn.
    I don't see why the existence of any such "movement" is relevant. But if it were, doesn't that mean you should believe in all gods (or other non-physical entities) that are promoted by a significant number of people?

    Those who believe in God have no way to produce physical evidence of a non-physical thing.
    And how is that different from fairies? With no evidence, why would anyone believe - surely that is the logical default position.

    But I would say each time you respond to a post on this thread, you are aware of it. And, in that way, you continue to exercise your position
    Quite the reverse. Each time I read a discussion like this it renews my bafflement at the things people will believe: gods, UFOs, "chemtrails", ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Pavlos said: "a divine biblical magic zombie man."

    This is the type of unnecessary and intentionally offensive language which disturbs me from the standpoint that it is designed to denigrate believers as well as what they actually believe. I can tell you, there is no one who believes in a magic zombie man except perhaps, in a sense, practitioners of voodoo. It seems there are some atheist who feel it is their duty to be as offensive and disgusting as they can be toward Christianity. It tells a lot more about the character of the person than it does about Christianity.
    Stop making it personal to deflect points. This is a very cheap tactic and is called an ad hominem attack. If your reasoning is strong you should be able to discredit what they say without bringing speculation of their character. I am guessing that you are not a professional scientist or that you flow in low levels of academia because this would not be tolerated in real scientific debates. You would be blasted within minutes. Before you show distaste in my post realise that this is for your own good. This is constructive criticism. My comment will hopefully prevent you looking like a fool in the future.
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    So then you think it is OK for people to call Jesus a zombie, Maxwell? That is far more insulting to Christians than saying "some atheists" attempt to be as disrepectful as they can be is to atheists. As with some atheists (oops, I said it again) when the shoe fits they immediately start whining, "Ad hominem! Ad hominem!" while the do their best to insult and drive off the few Christians who post here in this thread.

    I am guessing that you, not really understanding ad hominem, think anything that is not complimentary to atheists is an ad hominem attack. One of the aspects of ad hominem is to attack the other person's character or background which you do by saying, without knowing, "you are not a professional scientist" and that I "flow in low leves of academia" in an effort to discredit me. That is far more ad hominem than anything I said in my post to Pavolos.

    I called Pavlos' language offensive and unnecessary which is not ad hominem. Had I said that Pavlos was an offensive person, that would be ad hominem. A statement about someone's actions is not an attack on the person. If I say I think you are stupid and ignorant, that is ad hominum; if I say I think what you said was stupid and ignorant, it is not ad hominem. If you wish, you can take your choice as to which might apply.

    This is intended as instructive on the concept of ad hominem. Hopefully it will prevent you from looking like a fool if you attempt to comment on ad hominems in the future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    So then you think it is OK for people to call Jesus a zombie, Maxwell? That is far more insulting to Christians than saying "some atheists" attempt to be as disrepectful as they can be is to atheists. As with some atheists (oops, I said it again) when the shoe fits they immediately start whining, "Ad hominem! Ad hominem!" while the do their best to insult and drive off the few Christians who post here in this thread.

    I am guessing that you, not really understanding ad hominem, think anything that is not complimentary to atheists is an ad hominem attack. One of the aspects of ad hominem is to attack the other person's character or background which you do by saying, without knowing, "you are not a professional scientist" and that I "flow in low leves of academia" in an effort to discredit me. That is far more ad hominem than anything I said in my post to Pavolos.

    I called Pavlos' language offensive and unnecessary which is not ad hominem. Had I said that Pavlos was an offensive person, that would be ad hominem. A statement about someone's actions is not an attack on the person. If I say I think you are stupid and ignorant, that is ad hominum; if I say I think what you said was stupid and ignorant, it is not ad hominem. If you wish, you can take your choice as to which might apply.

    This is intended as instructive on the concept of ad hominem. Hopefully it will prevent you from looking like a fool if you attempt to comment on ad hominems in the future.
    LOL you are right about GUESSING that I don't understand the concept of ad hominem. You don't understand the concept of ad hominem. The dictionary definition of ad hominem is: "Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason." On your previous statement you didn't address the point Pavlos was making. Instead you shifted the attention on to Pavlos's character (this by dictionary definition is an ad honinem attack).

    I said that I "am guessing that you are not a professional scientist". The definition of guessing is: to assume, presume, or assert (a fact) without sufficient information. If I openly acknowledge that I am assuming without sufficient information that you are not a professional scientist then you cannot claim that I am attempting to discredit you. Your weak found statement on me attempting to discredit you is another ad hominem attack. The dictionary goes further to say that "debaters should avoid ad hominem arguments that question their opponents motives" In your first statement I comment on, you speculate that Pavlos is using intentionally offensive language. My guess on your stature was not ad honinem as it was the main focus of my point (not a deflection) and it was based on logic. Now we have by dictionary definition established that your statement was ad honinem we can apply logic. Considering that high flow academic circles and publications do not tolerate them it is logical to assume that somebody who uses them so clumsily is not in high academic circles.

    You also asume that I am an atheist even though I have not expressed any opinion on the subject yet. Another ill founded assumption you make without even acknowledging that it has weak/no foundation. You also asume that my motive here is to drive off christians (another ad hominem). I haven't even started on the subject material, yet am I am bashing you from pillar to post with simple dictionary definitions. This is too easy. If you were in a professional scientist debate your research funding would have been axed in seconds. This post is benefiting you more than me. Seriously I am giving you advice. Buy a dictionary, and avoid ad hominems, Your posts are full of them. Concentrate on the logic and stay focused. You may be offended by people's statements but that plays no role in the logic of a debate. Your personal feelings do not alter the physical laws of the universe. It is another cheap tactic to take offence at jesus being called a zombie. There are multiple definitions of the word zombie. Some contain voodoo but one definition is this: "
    a supernatural spirit that reanimates a dead body". If you believe that Jesus was given new life by a supernatural power then it is ok to call him a zombie. Considering this yet another one of your points is incorrect, all christians believe in a magic zombie. You have the right to be offended by this but on illogic idiotic grounds. This is why your ad honinem attacks make you look foolish. This is another instructive message for you. Your reasoning skills are very poor, and they are crippled by your poor grasp of the English language. If you continue to argue with me over this I will continue to effortlessly correct you, as your previous posts provide evidence that you are lightweight. If you swallow your pride and listen to my advice you may improve. There is no point debating the subject matter with you because you can't grasp the basics of what I'm saying in previous posts. I've even corrected you on the structure of your own argument. In terms of my background my research is biochemically orientated. But anybody who attempts to debate on a science forum should at least know to basic laws of debate. I'm shocked that you have posted so much but have such poor reasoning skills. This is a sign of extreme arrogance. Another tip, your "witty" comments just make you look even more arrogant and foolish when I educate you. I'll point out one more thing if you haven't picked it up yet. Every point you have made in response to me and in the initial post I commented on has been wrong.
    Last edited by maxwell; January 7th, 2012 at 11:18 PM.
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    OK, Maxwell, what do think was Pavlos' point was other than to claim disbelief based on the idea that Jesus was a zombie? The entire post is an opinion statement that what the Bible claims is impossible to have occurred.

    So you would recommend that my reply should be, "Oh, yes it did." One of the problems here is that, for some, anything which detracts from the Bible is considered logical while any defense of the Bible is considered illogical and unscientific.

    I do not see how you can defend the practice of calling Jesus a zombie. Other than for me say, I don't agree with that characterization I have no potential reply under your requirements. I doubt that even Pavlos believes there are zombies so the use of that characterization is designed to be inflamatory and derogatory rather than useful comment and, ultimately, is the main point of the post.

    While your definition of ad hominum is somewhat accurate in theory, you are not doing a good job of applying it practically. It might behoove you to go a little deeper into the study of ad hominem than the barebones dictionary definition which provides little direction in how to apply the term. None of the statements you seem to have labeled as ad hominum are directed at a specific person or a direct reflection on their personhood, but rather their actions.

    Plus you do not understand that, no matter the name of this forum topic, religion does not readily lend itself to scientific disertations as would be presented for peer review. Many of the exchanges do border on ad hominum. Only the supersensitive find it necesssary to whine about it. Often, such statements are answered in kind with other borderline ad hominum comments.

    This is not the most civil area of discussion in the world although, even, with all its foibles, this is one of the most civil places where the religious and non-religious get to exchange their ideas and thoughts.

    Also, I did not call you an atheist, if you fit my characterization of an atheistic behavior, them you have put on the shoe which is your prerogative. Also note, atheist and agnostic are somewhat interchangeable terms in many of these discussion. If it does not apply to you, you also have the prerogative to ignore it. I think you seem to be collecting up a large supply of shoes. Are you, by chance, related to Imelda Marcos? (Now, that IS an ad hominem jibe.)

    This entire turn of the thread in which you point to someone's technique is something of an ad hominem diversion from the original post which was about why Christians were not so offeded by the now departed Christopher Hitchens as they are by Richard Dawkins suggesting that the main reason was because Hitchens did not seem to have as his intent purposely insulting Christians because of their belief, rather, to express his disbelief in terms of, well, his own disbelief.

    To the extent that some atheist/agnostic posters here seem to delight in generically insulting Christians, I feel no guilt in generically insulting atheists/agnostics. It is, actually, a good experience in tolerance. The intolerant do not last year long. As you will note, I have survived here for more than six years -- I have thick skin, a deep conviction of my beliefs and give no quarter. My feeling is that, should I live so long, I may be here for another six years. You I have doubts about.

    Many of the TSF "old timers" went with the other branch of this forum, the split taking place while I was on hiatus and I was not able to carry my membership and status over there. Those people were formidable, well informed discussion participants who understood the character of such discussions. The seldom whined about ad hominems, recogizing that they might like to use on once in a while, too. It is possible to vehemently disagree without having to whine about generalized characterizations from those disagree.
    Last edited by daytonturner; January 8th, 2012 at 12:29 AM. Reason: adding word not
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    These are not my requirements. We use the english language in order to convey our views. In order to maintain consistency and understanding we have to adhere to the reference of the dictionary. This is why Christopher Hitchens was so good. He focused on logic. He did not speculate, instead he held people by their words. He very rarely speculated and when he did he acknowledged the limitation of his speculation. A great style that Hitchens adopted was parroting back what they said in order to clarify, then he would formulate his attack. Hitchens always manages to slip in the word defines, and clarifies by saying "so what you are saying is". Though like every human he is inconsistant, I have seen a clip of him saying that religion should be treated with ridicule. In speechs you can be a bit broader with your definitions but in written debates we have to be cristal clear because we lose the facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. This is why social networking sites cause a lot of misunderstanding and problems.

    You can call me sensitive but again this is a speculation on your part. Ad hominem declaration to me is to prevent deflection, confusion and to prevent putting words in peoples' mouths. You can claim a deeper understanding of ad hominem but if my use fits within dictionary definition then it is correct. The term practical means: to be adapted or adaptable for use. Seeing as the words written here are to convey a consistant message to a variety of people I would argue using it to the definition of the dictionary is the most practical as it deters confusion. The categories of ad hominem: abusive, circumstantial, tu quoque and guilt by association are usually applied differently but in a court of law. This is why we have legal dictionaries. Seeing as this is not a court of law the most practical application is the standard dictionary definition.

    You did say "As with some atheists (oops, I said it again) when the shoe fits they immediately start whining, "Ad hominem! Ad hominem!" Seeing as I was the only one in the thread who has mentioned it so you are associating my words with atheists. I believe that Hitchens was respected by religious followers because he didn't put words into their mouth. Instead he let them speak, clarified what they meant and then hung them with their own words. You can classify my actions as whining but it simply gives me the impression that you're trying to undermine the call for clarity, consistency and accountability (especially when you're putting words in other peoples' mouths). Pavlos states that some people believe that Jesus may have existed as a normal person but not as a zombie. Pavlos was basically clarifying somebody else's previous post. Does not mention voodoo, or even own personal belief. If Pavlos want's to be offensive then Pavlos should take extra steps. It's unfair to pick a definition that suits you in claiming offense when nothing else in the statement even indicates an opinion. You can't just make stuff up. In terms of you giving no quarter. You have seemed to write a fair amount but say nothing that's concrete. When you give no quarter you are supposed to hit them hard, fast and with clarity laying down your solid points straight away. Not only have you done the opposite but you seem to complain about the use of this method. You are right about giving no quarter, you give the whole thing and don't even realise you've done it.
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    Well, since we are stuck on the subject of ad hominem attacks,

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    And this is the main reason atheists are atheists -- because they know that if God exists, He frowns upon their behavior. So if they can eradicate God from existence, they are not responsible to Him. I rationalized my disbelief by all the means and reasons today's atheists use.
    That is obviously an ad hominem against atheists in general. You aren't attacking our words or actions, you are attacking our character, based on your own completely erroneous interpretation of our motives.

    Whilst you may not like the fact that atheists sometimes compare one supernatural entity with another, to do so is not an attack on the character of theists. It is done to ask why we should believe in one supernatural entity (god), when it is obvious we should not believe in the other. We are asking why there is a difference between the two, when it comes to belief, as to us there is no absolutely difference between the two.

    Now, I have already explained why most atheists are atheists. I have explained why it is not a rationalisation, and why gods opinion doesn't even come into it.

    So, perhaps you might try to explain why there is actually a difference between believing in god or believing in any other supernatural entity? When I said that I understand what the difference between the two is, but to me it is irrelevant to the question as to whether to believe in them or not, your answer was that you were rendered speechless.
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    Just putting this out there out of curiosity, Maxwell, but did you use to post on this forum under the name jeremy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Just putting this out there out of curiosity, Maxwell, but did you use to post on this forum under the name jeremy?
    No, I am new here. I am a 22 year old graduate. At the age of 20 I gave my first lecture on the oxidisation of cholesterol. Now I am 22 I work for imperial college London NHS trust and I am doing research on C-reactive protein in heart attacks where I will be first author if it gets published. I did not attend my graduation ceremony because nowadays who doesn't have a degree? I live for science and have rinsed people double my age and experience in the field. I live for science. If god existed I would not worship him. I would be on lucifer's side. Lets for an instance believe that god is real. He did not want us to eat from the tree of knowledge. He did not want us to think for ourselves. It was lucifer who enticed us to think for ourselves, he was the one who empowered us. Because of him we have science. The word lucifer translates to bringer of light. If god didn't want us to have knowledge from the tree do you think he would lose much sleep in painting his enemy as evil in his own propaganda? Hitchens also pointed out that god was a dictator. Who is this jeremy?
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    SpeedFreek asked:

    So, perhaps you might try to explain why there is actually a difference between believing in [G]od or believing in any other supernatural entity?
    Well, now you have changed the question slightly. Your former question compared belief in God to belief in fairies and unicorns.
    Now you are asking what is the difference between believing in God or some other supernatual being. It is difficult to respond when you keep moving the goal post.

    As to the former question, I responded that there was a difference between believing in the existence of spirit beings vis a vis objects which would necessarily have to have a physical presence. You pooh-poohed that difference as being irrelevant. Which to me is sort of like comparing apples and kittens and saying the differences between plants and animals are irrelevant.

    And even in the new question, there is a disconnect from what religious (monotheistic) people might believe. We DO believe that there are spirit beings other than God. I am not sure that we believe in "supernatual beings" per se but perhaps more in spiritual beings who have supernatural powers. I think you might more properly frame the question as to why is it one spirit being is singled out for worship over the others. I would also think you are asking why Yahweh instead of Allah or why a single God over multiple Gods.

    And, here again, your question is complicated by the fact that you believe this is an intellectual determination on the part of the believer and you will probably find my response inadequate because belief is not an intellectual determination but rather a spiritual response to the eternal living God.

    The aspect that you do not accept is that God does not change our mind. He changes our heart or whatever it is that you might consider to be that aspect of your personhood that is the directing, driving force of your being. Christians, at least, believe there is a deeper part of our being, that we are more than electrical impulses coursing their way through our brains like 1s and 0s in a computer chip. I think some people consider that they are little more than glorified self directed computers. Oddly, they can see that computers must be designed and built but somehow think their own more complex living system just happened over a long period of accidents in nature.

    But to attempt to answer your question more specifically as to why I believe in the God Yahweh on an intellectual level. Intellectual belief was not my starting point, but you, apparently, are not interested in the non-intellectual change of heart. The intellectual concepts are concepts you absolutely reject -- the concepts of sin, separation from God, the need for redemption, and how that redemption is accomplished by God himself through the substitutionary sacrifice of his own begotten Son. This is a vast oversimplification. But, when I look around at the state of humanity, I see these behaviors and realize how they would be offensive to a holy and righteous God (whether Yahweh, Allah or the Flying Speghetti Monster) and that Christianity is the only religion in which that same holy and righteous God freely provides a pardon for that behavior. This (subsequently) makes more sense to me than the idea that I could ever be good enough to please a holy and righteous God by doing something.

    Now, then, I am sure that this is (as the Bible says) all foolishness to you. But to those who are being saved, it is the power of God for salvation.

    I also have this sense in me that feels people should not benefit from their own evil deeds and that those who perpetrate evil should be called into account for their deeds. And then I see statistics which point out that about half the murders in the U.S. go unsolved. In others words perhaps half the murderers in the U.S. go unpunished. (I suspect if some of those are multiple murderers, they are counter balanced by multiple murderers who are caught). So there is a sense in me that feels there should be some come uppance for such people. The idea that there is a God who does ultimately judge all people by His perfect justice appeals to that sense and I think we all, to some extent, share that feeling. I don't think it is necessary to be a Christian to have the wish. I suspect even atheists feel there is something wrong when the guilty are not called to account.

    If there is a holy, righteous God who is the creator of the Universe and the embodyment of all truth, then it would seem imperitive that we know what He has revealed as that would be the only reliable source of truth. But that gives rise to the question of where this truth can be found. Evangelical Christianity believes God has revealed himself to us through the magnificence of the Universe, the mystery of life, the incarnate person of Jesus and His written word, the Bible.

    I somehow doubt you will accept these things (which are only a part of the whole) as reasonable reasons because there is nothing scientific about them. They are, basically, all experiential.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    SpeedFreek asked:

    So, perhaps you might try to explain why there is actually a difference between believing in [G]od or believing in any other supernatural entity?
    Well, now you have changed the question slightly. Your former question compared belief in God to belief in fairies and unicorns.
    From my viewpoint, and I suspect this is what speedfreek intended, fairies and unicorns are supernatural entities. You seem to be conflating supernatural with omnipotent, since otherwise your objection is groundless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    And, here again, your question is complicated by the fact that you believe this is an intellectual determination on the part of the believer and you will probably find my response inadequate because belief is not an intellectual determination but rather a spiritual response to the eternal living God.
    I certainly don't think it is an intellectual determination. Any such intellectual argument is a post-hoc rationalization. The trouble is, the argument rapidly becomes circular as shown by your "spiritual response to the eternal living God"; that only makes sense if you assume (or believe) that God exists in the first place. If you believe then you will see "evidence" everywhere: a beautiful sunset, altruism, even the existence of evil. Someone who doesn't believe won't see these as evidence at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    SpeedFreek asked:

    So, perhaps you might try to explain why there is actually a difference between believing in [G]od or believing in any other supernatural entity?
    Well, now you have changed the question slightly. Your former question compared belief in God to belief in fairies and unicorns.
    Now you are asking what is the difference between believing in God or some other supernatual being. It is difficult to respond when you keep moving the goal post[s].
    I am not moving the goalposts, as John has already said - fairies and unicorns are supernatural entities. So are ghosts and poltergeists.

    As to the former question, I responded that there was a difference between believing in the existence of spirit beings vis a vis objects which would necessarily have to have a physical presence. You pooh-poohed that difference as being irrelevant. Which to me is sort of like comparing apples and kittens and saying the differences between plants and animals are irrelevant.
    Who said fairies have a physical presence? They are the spirits of the forest and exist in an ethereal form. My original reply said the following:

    "to me it is exactly the same situation as with fairies and unicorns and their mystical powers" I take it you didn't notice the "mystical powers" part?

    The wiki definition of a fairy:

    A fairy (also faery, faerie, fay, fae; euphemistically wee folk, good folk, people of peace, fair folk, etc.)[1] is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural.
    Is that clear enough for you? A fairy is a supernatural entity. And as for unicorns, I am not denying the possibility that white horses with horns existed in past, I am denying the possibility their horns had mystical or supernatural healing powers, as is claimed.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    And even in the new question, there is a disconnect from what religious (monotheistic) people might believe. We DO believe that there are spirit beings other than God. I am not sure that we believe in "supernatual beings" per se but perhaps more in spiritual beings who have supernatural powers. I think you might more properly frame the question as to why is it one spirit being is singled out for worship over the others. I would also think you are asking why Yahweh instead of Allah or why a single God over multiple Gods.
    I am simply asking why I would believe in any supernatural entity. It really is that simple.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    And, here again, your question is complicated by the fact that you believe this is an intellectual determination on the part of the believer and you will probably find my response inadequate because belief is not an intellectual determination but rather a spiritual response to the eternal living God.
    Not at all. I understand the spiritual response to a perceived eternal living god that leads to a faith based belief. But once again you are completely missing my point.

    I am not asking why YOU believe in god, I am asking why I should? Why would I?

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    The aspect that you do not accept is that God does not change our mind. He changes our heart or whatever it is that you might consider to be that aspect of your personhood that is the directing, driving force of your being. Christians, at least, believe there is a deeper part of our being, that we are more than electrical impulses coursing their way through our brains like 1s and 0s in a computer chip. I think some people consider that they are little more than glorified self directed computers. Oddly, they can see that computers must be designed and built but somehow think their own more complex living system just happened over a long period of accidents in nature.
    I think it is a little disingenuous to compare our "minds" (you will say "souls", no doubt) to a glorified computer. We already know that, at the quantum scale, there are entanglements and interactions that can span the universe, and that the processes that go on in our minds are likely to be subject to quantum effects. We atheists can think big too, you know. Perhaps everything in the universe is connected to our minds, somehow. Who knows?

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    But to attempt to answer your question more specifically as to why I believe in the God Yahweh on an intellectual level. Intellectual belief was not my starting point, but you, apparently, are not interested in the non-intellectual change of heart. The intellectual concepts are concepts you absolutely reject -- the concepts of sin, separation from God, the need for redemption, and how that redemption is accomplished by God himself through the substitutionary sacrifice of his own begotten Son. This is a vast oversimplification. But, when I look around at the state of humanity, I see these behaviors and realize how they would be offensive to a holy and righteous God (whether Yahweh, Allah or the Flying Speghetti Monster) and that Christianity is the only religion in which that same holy and righteous God freely provides a pardon for that behavior. This (subsequently) makes more sense to me than the idea that I could ever be good enough to please a holy and righteous God by doing something.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't remember specifically asking why YOU believe. All I have been asking is why you think I should believe, or why you think I need a reason not to.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Now, then, I am sure that this is (as the Bible says) all foolishness to you. But to those who are being saved, it is the power of God for salvation.
    To the people who are being saved due to their belief in a god, I say good luck to them. The power of the mind is a wonderous thing!

    I am not anti-religion, I am just against others religions interfering in my non-religious life, or having others judge me based on the teachings of their religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    I also have this sense in me that feels people should not benefit from their own evil deeds and that those who perpetrate evil should be called into account for their deeds. And then I see statistics which point out that about half the murders in the U.S. go unsolved. In others words perhaps half the murderers in the U.S. go unpunished. (I suspect if some of those are multiple murderers, they are counter balanced by multiple murderers who are caught). So there is a sense in me that feels there should be some come uppance for such people. The idea that there is a God who does ultimately judge all people by His perfect justice appeals to that sense and I think we all, to some extent, share that feeling. I don't think it is necessary to be a Christian to have the wish. I suspect even atheists feel there is something wrong when the guilty are not called to account.
    I wholeheartedly agree that all criminals should face justice, but I take no comfort from the deluded (from my point of view) idea that they are judged after they have died.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    If there is a holy, righteous God who is the creator of the Universe and the embodyment of all truth, then it would seem imperitive that we know what He has revealed as that would be the only reliable source of truth. But that gives rise to the question of where this truth can be found. Evangelical Christianity believes God has revealed himself to us through the magnificence of the Universe, the mystery of life, the incarnate person of Jesus and His written word, the Bible.

    I somehow doubt you will accept these things (which are only a part of the whole) as reasonable reasons because there is nothing scientific about them. They are, basically, all experiential.
    Oh, they are reasonable reasons for some people, for sure. But not for me.

    As for experiential things, consider how we experience the passage of time. Sometimes time seems to pass slowly, but sometimes it seems to pass quickly. The key phrase there was "seems to", for we know that time always passes at the same rate. Experience of a "feeling" is no way to decide on the origins of the universe!
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    Strange said:

    Any such intellectual argument is a post-hoc rationalization.
    I assume, as it is not clearly delineated, that your are referring to the religious view. I have no real problem with that, but I must wonder if you can go equally as far with similarly characterizing non-believer intellectual argument as also being post-hoc rationalization. I think I have in the past characterized this as the difference between the world view of seeing is believing to the Christian view that believing is seeing.

    Having experienced both sides of the belief/non-belief coin, I would have to agree that my perception of things was altered. But I am not convinced that my explanations in defense of the old position or the new position was anything other than lining up the data to fit my preconceived position at time.

    It seems quite obvious to me that people will interpret data input through the filter of their current outlook. This is why, in my opinion, two individuals can look at information about a particular topic and come to different conclusions as to its meaning and significance. Thus, perhaps a lot of analysis is more accurately characterized by the idea of what we WANT to find is what we are going find.

    My thinking is that, at least in Western Civilization where we are exposed to both sides of the religious question at an early age, we tend to gravitate toward a position and subsequently spend some of our energy to confirm or disaffirm that position. About the time we begin to interact with other children from different backgrounds we begin to ponder what they have said. Unless we are totally isolated, we cannot help but begin to notice there is something different. I suspect that by the time we get out of the first grade in a public school, every kid from a non-religious environment has heard something about Jesus, and every kid from a religious home has heard some other kid say that religion is dumb.

    I would suggest that anyone who says he made an informed and studious intellectual determination when he was a teen or a young adult, is not taking into account the influence of those early data inputs. I am sure there are kids of school age today sitting in their Sunday School class thinking, "I don't believe this crap." Meanwhile, someplace else, there is some kid who heard that very same kid say something about Jesus and is now wondering if there is anything to it.

    I am convinced that most of our outward expressions, especially those dealing with controversial topics, are based on information collected, analyzed, synthesized, collated and then reformed to fit into the file folders we have created in our own minds based on our current biases.

    None of us are perfect in our thinking. The question is how many of us are willing to admit it and thenwhat are we willing to do to deal with that imperfection.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  101. #100  
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    SpeedFreek said:

    for we know that time always passes at the same rate.
    I see no reason to merely restate what I have already said in response to your replies. However, as to the above quote, a recent NOVA series on time questions whether that is true.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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