Is there an afterlife? (Civility please?)


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thejeff wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
thejeff wrote:

When someone tells me that Christians can't support same-sex marriage, I don't dig in the Bible to refute them, I point at some church that's happily been doing same-sex weddings for years.

Not my job to resolve doctrinal disputes.

Not my job either.

My job, to the extent I'm interested, is to determine what is doctrine for the Christian religion if I hope to understand issues revolving around it and religion in general.

I suggest, if you want to understand the Christian religion* that you should talk to people from various different Christian denominations and read writings from various different Christian denominations and find out what they actually believe and consider core to their faith, rather than attempt to deduce it from passages in the Bible.

*To the extent that there is "doctrine for the Christian religion" or even "the Christian religion". There are in fact many different religions under the broad Christian umbrella and they do not all agree on many things in the way of doctrine.

If I can't understand a religion from it's sacred text(s) then it's not worth my time.

How hard is it to say what you mean?

And if that Corinthian passage has some secret/obscure meaning that I can't fathom without subtle indoctrination... well, then that religion is doubly not worth my time.


Quark Blast wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
Moreover, I've had other occurrences in my life where I was in situations that defied the odds when I needed it most, to the point of (and seemingly with the sole purpose) of salvaging my relationship with God or leading me to a different, healthier mindset. I've also been around many other people that have had supernatural experiences and have heard additional stories of miracles from the last century.
Survivalship Bias (which doesn't have to involve actual survival, staying in the club works too)

It would also depend on the odds of the occurrences. Sufficiently long odds happening multiple times would rule out a mere bias. If experiences, taken as presented by Anonymous Warrior, were as rare as multi-state jackpot lottery winners, then it would almost certainly be Survivalship Bias and no control would be needed.

{. . .}

Yes, but the example given, by design, had a random chance of around 50% of coming out the "right" way (random shuffle pulling from a mix of approximately 50% Christian songs). And 50% is way over what you need to get people convinced -- if the chance of coming out the "right" way is 1/n, to break even, you just need for that 1/n person to be charismatic enough to persuade n people; anything beyond that (including further persuasion by some of the persuaded) comes out ahead.


Quark Blast wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
thejeff wrote:

When someone tells me that Christians can't support same-sex marriage, I don't dig in the Bible to refute them, I point at some church that's happily been doing same-sex weddings for years.

Not my job to resolve doctrinal disputes.

Not my job either.

My job, to the extent I'm interested, is to determine what is doctrine for the Christian religion if I hope to understand issues revolving around it and religion in general.

I suggest, if you want to understand the Christian religion* that you should talk to people from various different Christian denominations and read writings from various different Christian denominations and find out what they actually believe and consider core to their faith, rather than attempt to deduce it from passages in the Bible.

*To the extent that there is "doctrine for the Christian religion" or even "the Christian religion". There are in fact many different religions under the broad Christian umbrella and they do not all agree on many things in the way of doctrine.

If I can't understand a religion from it's sacred text(s) then it's not worth my time.

How hard is it to say what you mean?

And if that Corinthian passage has some secret/obscure meaning that I can't fathom without subtle indoctrination... well, then that religion is doubly not worth my time.

It's not a subtle indoctrination you need, it's an understanding that all of the current translations of the Bible are not, and CAN NOT be entirely accurately translated without a deeper understanding of the original text and the language it was written in.

Combine that with the fact that the book is meant to be part biography, part epic poem, part history book, part family tree, part love letter to the deity the writers believed exists and adore, and just a smidge of some of the writers' personal philosophies on life and you get a book that is miraculous in the sense that it is even as clear as it is now.

And quite frankly if it's so not worth your time to try and understand, why do you keep posting about it?


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Quark Blast wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
thejeff wrote:

When someone tells me that Christians can't support same-sex marriage, I don't dig in the Bible to refute them, I point at some church that's happily been doing same-sex weddings for years.

Not my job to resolve doctrinal disputes.

Not my job either.

My job, to the extent I'm interested, is to determine what is doctrine for the Christian religion if I hope to understand issues revolving around it and religion in general.

I suggest, if you want to understand the Christian religion* that you should talk to people from various different Christian denominations and read writings from various different Christian denominations and find out what they actually believe and consider core to their faith, rather than attempt to deduce it from passages in the Bible.

*To the extent that there is "doctrine for the Christian religion" or even "the Christian religion". There are in fact many different religions under the broad Christian umbrella and they do not all agree on many things in the way of doctrine.

If I can't understand a religion from it's sacred text(s) then it's not worth my time.

How hard is it to say what you mean?

How do you handle religions without sacred texts?

Didn't you say earlier that you were a Zen Buddhist? I ask because that's a tradition that heavily emphasizes personal instruction by an experienced teacher, though I suppose in modern American many try to learn it from books.

I've long considered the following thought experiment: Take some isolated group with no prior knowledge of Christianity. Give them the Bible and convince them it was a Holy Text to base their religion on, but give them no other instruction on what Christianity is like. Come back in a few hundred years to see what they've made of it. I suspect it'll be unrecognisable.


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thejeff wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
Quark Blast, none of the quotes you cited are from the Torah. They're from the rest of the Tanakh.

And if you had actually read my post you would see that I acknowledge that very fact.

Everything relevant to Judaism and the afterlife is not limited to Torah.

Correct, but once you get past the Torah, theological approaches start diverging rapidly. The fact that other than a few passing (and possibly idiomatic) references to Sheol, there's nothing about an afterlife in the Torah is why there are observant Jews who don't believe in an afterlife.

And as far as Christianity, there are plenty of Christians who view references to bodily resurrection as metaphorical. I'm utterly uninterested, as I'm not Christian, in internal Christian bickering over whether those people are "reading selectively." They're Christians, therefore that approach is a Christian approach.

Exactly. It shouldn't be shocking that different religious traditions over thousands of years develop different interpretations of their texts and not all of them match what an outsider might see at first glance.

It shouldn't be, but there's always someone who is. As Sundakan hints, some religious people are like the nerdiest nerds ever, getting into huge nerd fights over the minutia of phrasing in their texts. At least the more usual kind of nerd fight doesn't normally escalate to actual warfare.

It's not like Christians haven't divided themselves into denominations and factions over the meanings of particuluar text or which texts were legitimate parts of the Bible. And it's not like they haven't gone into killing wars over these differences... Oh yeas, they did.


Sola RAW people are weird.


Aranna wrote:
But they are the same. Regardless of the situation belief is nothing more than trust in someone else. You either trust them or you don't. It's that simple.

They really aren't. The sources of information are wildly different and the impulses behind why we believe them are incredibly different as well. You can continue to try to present it as the same thing, but your argument is unpersuasive.

If you want to stick with an unpersuasive argument, I guess that's your choice.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
Moreover, I've had other occurrences in my life where I was in situations that defied the odds when I needed it most, to the point of (and seemingly with the sole purpose) of salvaging my relationship with God or leading me to a different, healthier mindset. I've also been around many other people that have had supernatural experiences and have heard additional stories of miracles from the last century.
Survivalship Bias (which doesn't have to involve actual survival, staying in the club works too)

It would also depend on the odds of the occurrences. Sufficiently long odds happening multiple times would rule out a mere bias. If experiences, taken as presented by Anonymous Warrior, were as rare as multi-state jackpot lottery winners, then it would almost certainly be Survivalship Bias and no control would be needed.

{. . .}

Yes, but the example given, by design, had a random chance of around 50% of coming out the "right" way (random shuffle pulling from a mix of approximately 50% Christian songs). And 50% is way over what you need to get people convinced -- if the chance of coming out the "right" way is 1/n, to break even, you just need for that 1/n person to be charismatic enough to persuade n people; anything beyond that (including further persuasion by some of the persuaded) comes out ahead.

If it's a matter of numbers, then 50% isn't the consequential number here. I believe, at the time, I had something like 120 songs on that MP3 player, of which 2 were of the style where it was addressed as God to man (and that other song wasn't really applicable to the situation). And while a .83% chance, cosmically speaking, isn't all that odd, that it was by an artist that I had been listening to for quite a while on an album which I listened to multiple times on shuffle while working on homework, and the very fact that such a suitable song even existed and was available to me at all (the vast majority of Christian songs, both in quantity and purchase popularity, are typically written from the human perspective), it's beyond the point of just being odd coincidence. It might not be proof sufficient of the existence of God, but it was still an important story in the formation of my belief.

But the exact numbers aren't all that important to my viewpoint. I believe in God based on anecdotal evidence of my own experiences and others, gut feeling mixed with perceived relationship with him, and intellectual considerations.

Some additional anecdotes:

- One of the stories I heard at the Summit was that one of the missionaries' work often had them meeting orphans in the streets in the country where she worked. When telling these orphans about Jesus, they would of course want to see, as she worded it "Jesus be Jesus," and would go about laying hands on people with maladies. She didn't talk much about how much success they had found, but there was at least one instance where they laid hands on a kid who had been missing 3 fingers since birth. The children were very frustrated when only 2 of the fingers grew in.

- During my senior year of high school, I was just heading home after a rather rough day. I had felt that I had gotten screwed over in one of my classes, and while at the library during lunch, I had seen that there had been yet another shooting in the news. I was in a nasty mood, and was more angry that the world was going to pieces than I was about their well-fare. I remember being fed up, and just wanting to get home so I could have a second to readjust my mindset. On the way out, I felt a thought in my mind that I recognized as God saying "Walk with me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death." At that moment, the nearby doors to one of the buildings flew open. I was surprised, but reasoned that it was probably a wind tunnel through the hallways. But as I kept walking, I felt something like the ground groaning and the a chorus of voices in the sky wailing, and then smelled something like blood and bile. I felt certain that kids (I assumed my own brother and sisters) were suffering, and I ran home in fits and bursts as best I could manage. My mother met me at the door, took one look at my face, and asked if I had heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook. To be clear, my family lives no where near Sandy Hook, so they at least were safe. But I believe God wanted me to understand that he and heaven don't fail to notice tragedy and evil done on Earth.

The short version of these stories is that unless a lot of people are needlessly lying (you know, so they can be funded to go far from home, tell people they aren't sufficient for themselves and endure ridicule and torture) and I'm very messed up in the head, then I believe I've seen and heard ample evidence to be sure there is a God. Moreover, these stories here aren't even an exhaustive list of the things I've heard and seen. I'm really reluctant to share some of the stories I've heard for fear of slipping up and saying something that'll get someone killed or imprisoned.

Lastly, strongly recommend Outrageous Courage to anyone who's interested: great biography.


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Yes, Anonymous Warrior, all human beings lie. All the time. Most often to themselves, to justify their actions (or inaction) to themselves or to explain coincidences. We have a tremendous ability to recognise patterns and may think we see them where none exist.

People also make stuff up to have their convictions and/or efforts mean something. They tell their stories to others in order to aggrandise themselves or to have them reaffirmed. After all, if somebody else believes them, it must be true, right?


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I have 1500 songs on a usb drive in my car's audio system. I keep the system set to shuffle. Easily once per week the randomly selected song that plays next is the song I was just thinking it would be nice to hear.

This doesn't mean that I have magical technology influencing powers, it means that due to random selection a 1/1500 chance sometimes goes my way.


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Scythia wrote:

I have 1500 songs on a usb drive in my car's audio system. I keep the system set to shuffle. Easily once per week the randomly selected song that plays next is the song I was just thinking it would be nice to hear.

This doesn't mean that I have magical technology influencing powers, it means that due to random selection a 1/1500 chance sometimes goes my way.

Random probability is something that isn't always intuitive. Take birthdays. What are the odds that in a group of n people, two of them will share a birthday? Well, in a group of 367, the odds are 100%, since there are only 366 possibilities. But you reach 99.9% chance with 70 people and hit 50% with as few as 23 people.

The odds are significantly different if you are looking for a specific match, but a general match is much higher than most people would generally think. For example, for 50% odds that today is someone's birthday, you'd need 253 people.


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I tried the experiment, put on shuffle and waited for the first song from God's perspective to come up. Eventually I got God's Song.

I should listen to Sail Away again tonight.


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annonymous warrior wrote:
And while a .83% chance, cosmically speaking, isn't all that odd, that it was by an artist that I had been listening to for quite a while on an album which I listened to multiple times on shuffle while working on homework, and the very fact that such a suitable song even existed and was available to me at all (the vast majority of Christian songs, both in quantity and purchase popularity, are typically written from the human perspective), it's beyond the point of just being odd coincidence.

Its not, for a large number of statistical errors including

texan sharpshootingregarding the exact type of christian song

The survivorship fallacy as discussed above: yes, lots of believers have amazing signs and portents in their lives, because people that didn't get those are less likely to be believers.

and I don't know the name of this one, but you see 10,000 events every day all day over a human life time, some of them are going to be pretty unlikely. Getting 8 heads on a coinflip in a row is pretty unlikely but you've probably seen it because you've seen so many coinflips.


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Fooled By Randomness by Nicholas Nassim Talib is a great discussion of these kinds of cognitive biases, as is his Black Swan. Inevitable Illusions by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini is also very good for detailing cognitive illusions.

Richard Feynman wrote:
You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won't believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!


Irontruth wrote:
Aranna wrote:
But they are the same. Regardless of the situation belief is nothing more than trust in someone else. You either trust them or you don't. It's that simple.

They really aren't. The sources of information are wildly different and the impulses behind why we believe them are incredibly different as well. You can continue to try to present it as the same thing, but your argument is unpersuasive.

If you want to stick with an unpersuasive argument, I guess that's your choice.

It wouldn't matter what argument I used. Truth be told you were never going to agree anyway. I has nothing to do with how persuasive or not you think it is.


@BNW: As a believer, that's actually something I keep in mind - although it helps that the specifics of my faith mean I'm actually less inclined to assume that there's divine influence in something that can be better explained by mundane means. XD

For example, I don't believe in ghosts - but I do believe in demons pretending to be ghosts. When people report stories of supernatural hauntings, I don't dismiss them out of hand... but I do try to keep an open mind. For example, those people could also be lying. They could have been the victims of a prank, or misinterpreted what they experienced, or remembered things incorrectly, and I suspect that the large majority of reports (possibly upwards of 99%) fall into those non-supernatural categories. I feel it would be inappropriate of me to simply assume the answer I wanted was correct, so in most cases, I simply remain undecided on the accuracy of such claims unless/until further evidence can be presented.


Scythia wrote:

I have 1500 songs on a usb drive in my car's audio system. I keep the system set to shuffle. Easily once per week the randomly selected song that plays next is the song I was just thinking it would be nice to hear.

This doesn't mean that I have magical technology influencing powers, it means that due to random selection a 1/1500 chance sometimes goes my way.

Sure, at 3 minutes per a song, listening for 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week you get a hundred songs, and you might well be thinking of a half dozen songs that it'd be nice to hear.

Fine, ignore the thing that can be explained with luck. Fingers don't regenerate on their own by sheer luck. In other instances (such as in Outrageous Courage) folks don't get eviscerated in a bus wreck, assumed dead because their organs were on the road, and get up a few moments later, uninjured, because of sheer luck.

Besides, the entire point of this, and the other anecdotes, wasn't that you'd jump up and say "Gee Whiz, everything I believed is a lie, there must be a God!"

My point is, the supernatural and possibly supernatural occur, at least in my experience, and in quite a few experiences that have been related to me. I could be lying, everyone else could be lying. But at any given time, it would be extremely unlikely that there are Nazi-Lizard Death Camps nearby. Yet if you caught wind of the possibility that there were, you should at least keep one ear the ground for new evidence.

I gain nothing by any person turning to Christ. I'm safe, secure, and could easily just walk downstairs and pop some corn chips and watch some Netflix. Instead, I'm having this conversation now, and I'll have it again when I'm surrounded by a gang ready to bash my head in.

In the meantime, I hope someone will at least consider my viewpoint, because I have nothing to gain, but I do believe you do.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You listen to shuffle plenty of times every year. Statistics decree that the event will eventually happen. The problem is that your confirmation bias deletes all the times it DIDN'T happen as unimportant, so you only remember the time it did happen.

If new evidence of the supernatural were to appear, we'd all be very interested to see it. Anecdotes, even 80% of the populations anecdotes, are not evidence.

And I think you gain quite a bit from people turning to Christianity. Validation is a powerful incentive.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

You listen to shuffle plenty of times every year. Statistics decree that the event will eventually happen. The problem is that your confirmation bias deletes all the times it DIDN'T happen as unimportant, so you only remember the time it did happen.

If new evidence of the supernatural were to appear, we'd all be very interested to see it. Anecdotes, even 80% of the populations anecdotes, are not evidence.

And I think you gain quite a bit from people turning to Christianity. Validation is a powerful incentive.

Sorry, made an edit while you were on this. Yes, it's not evidence.

But validation? I've got my validation. Literally just got back from a Missions Summit, where I got nothing but validation. And even if someone on these boards did become a Christian, I'd never know about it.

I got my beliefs. It's my belief that you'd be better off with my beliefs. No doubt, we have that in common. But would you get anything from me coming back a year from now talking about how I'm a Agnostic Secularlist (or atheist, or whichever view point you've chosen to adopt?)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I know at least one dedicated atheist who believes in the supernatural (things such as shamanism IIRC). Not as a set of beliefs but as unexplained occurrences


The Raven Black wrote:
I know at least one dedicated atheist who believes in the supernatural (things such as shamanism IIRC). Not as a set of beliefs but as unexplained occurrences

That's interesting. I've met agnostics who accept the existence of the supernatural, but never anyone who flatly denies the existence of a (or multiple) divine beings without also denying the supernatural. So then, is it a viewpoint that weird stuff happens, but it doesn't mean anything? Or is there more to it?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
I got my beliefs. It's my belief that you'd be better off with my beliefs. No doubt, we have that in common. But would you get anything from me coming back a year from now talking about how I'm a Agnostic Secularlist (or atheist, or whichever view point you've chosen to adopt?)

Absolutely. It's human nature to feel pleased when you find someone agreeing with you.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
I got my beliefs. It's my belief that you'd be better off with my beliefs. No doubt, we have that in common. But would you get anything from me coming back a year from now talking about how I'm a Agnostic Secularlist (or atheist, or whichever view point you've chosen to adopt?)
Absolutely. It's human nature to feel pleased when you find someone agreeing with you.

that explains the inhumans in the rules forum...


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
I got my beliefs. It's my belief that you'd be better off with my beliefs. No doubt, we have that in common. But would you get anything from me coming back a year from now talking about how I'm a Agnostic Secularlist (or atheist, or whichever view point you've chosen to adopt?)
Absolutely. It's human nature to feel pleased when you find someone agreeing with you.
that explains the inhumans in the rules forum...

Damn Terrigen clouds, now they're even online!


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Anonymous Warrior wrote:


Fine, ignore the thing that can be explained with luck. Fingers don't regenerate on their own by sheer luck. In other instances (such as in Outrageous Courage) folks don't get eviscerated in a bus wreck, assumed dead because their organs were on the road, and get up a few moments later, uninjured, because of sheer luck.

No, these things don't happen by luck. Because they don't happen.

(And even if they did, they clearly happen to specific people by sheer luck or everyone would be growing back limbs and skydiving without a parachute.)

The only people I hear stories like this from are people who already believe. It never happens where it can be seen by an outside observer, and it never even happens to somebody who is (read: can be verified as) a non-believer before his miraculous faith healing the snake charmer laid on him or whatever.

Anonymous Warrior wrote:
My point is, the supernatural and possibly supernatural occur, at least in my experience, and in quite a few experiences that have been related to me. I could be lying, everyone else could be lying. But at any given time, it would be extremely unlikely that there are Nazi-Lizard Death Camps nearby. Yet if you caught wind of the possibility that there were, you should at least keep one ear the ground for new evidence.

No. No you shouldn't. You maybe listen if someone brings you definite proof of Nazi Lizard Death Camps situated directly under DC, but you don't seek out evidence for that crazy conspiracy theory nonsense on your own any more than you try to find evidence the earth is flat, Hillary Clinton is a lizard person who bathes in the blood of virgins to stay young, or there's a secret Hebrew conspiracy controlling the world from the shadows wringing their hands and chuckling like Bond villains.

Because it's all absolutely insane.

Some people are just deluded. Sometimes this delusion has positive effects in the meantime. One of my best friends is part of a weird Christian cult that believes they're all Guardians sent by God and are given subtle magic powers to help them help people. She tried to convince me I must be one with abilities geared towards the mental because I beat her at Chinese Checkers the first time I'd ever played it.

Lovely woman, works as a volunteer firefighter and is an all around humanitarian. I'm still pissed one of our high school teachers indoctrinated her and a bunch of the other students with this b*!@*!*#.

Problem comes in when the delusion ISN'T positive, like the above examples or many more I could point out.

People believe all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, even if on the surface they get nothing from it. Delusions are not logical things. I believe that you believe what you do, I don't think you're lying to me. But I have never seen any proof of this kind of stuff, and trust me people have tried to show me all kinds of spooky ghosts and stuff all throughout my life and so far none of it has panned out.


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Aranna wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Aranna wrote:
But they are the same. Regardless of the situation belief is nothing more than trust in someone else. You either trust them or you don't. It's that simple.

They really aren't. The sources of information are wildly different and the impulses behind why we believe them are incredibly different as well. You can continue to try to present it as the same thing, but your argument is unpersuasive.

If you want to stick with an unpersuasive argument, I guess that's your choice.

It wouldn't matter what argument I used. Truth be told you were never going to agree anyway. I has nothing to do with how persuasive or not you think it is.

Belief in people is not the same as belief in concepts.

When I'm watching my friend's daughter, based on her pattern of behavior and previous incidents where her words have been proven true or false, I can build a reasonable rough estimate over whether she's telling the truth or not. There is history. There are facts (even if those facts get hazy with memory).

Belief in a concept, like "justice", is significantly different. There are no facts about whether something is just or not, or even what justice truly means. To the pipeline owners in North Dakota, justice looks significantly different than it does to those who live on the reservation. Just like the belief in their ancestor's spirits looks different to them than it would to a Christian.

The word belief is large, complicated and sometimes very vague. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous, and an obviously disingenuous argument is always unconvincing.

I don't begrudge your beliefs. What I dislike is pretending that people making decisions based on verifiable evidence or patterns in real world events is identical to people believing in stuff that cannot be verified by it's very nature.

You have a religion? Cool. Just don't tell me that it's identical to the "belief" I have in the chair I'm sitting in.

Sovereign Court

Anonymous Warrior wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I know at least one dedicated atheist who believes in the supernatural (things such as shamanism IIRC). Not as a set of beliefs but as unexplained occurrences
That's interesting. I've met agnostics who accept the existence of the supernatural, but never anyone who flatly denies the existence of a (or multiple) divine beings without also denying the supernatural. So then, is it a viewpoint that weird stuff happens, but it doesn't mean anything? Or is there more to it?

Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.


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Hama wrote:
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I know at least one dedicated atheist who believes in the supernatural (things such as shamanism IIRC). Not as a set of beliefs but as unexplained occurrences
That's interesting. I've met agnostics who accept the existence of the supernatural, but never anyone who flatly denies the existence of a (or multiple) divine beings without also denying the supernatural. So then, is it a viewpoint that weird stuff happens, but it doesn't mean anything? Or is there more to it?
Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.

Other way around. Yours is the common approach. Atheism along with belief in the supernatural is rarer, but not unheard of.

It's at least theoretically possible for the supernatural to exist, but without divine beings. I think some variations of Buddhism might actually qualify as atheism with supernatural stuff - reincarnation and dharma and all that, but no actual divinity presiding over it.
There's nothing in particular about ghosts, for example, that requires a god. Psychic powers are another common belief that fits with atheism - often with a pseudo-science veneer.


Yes, skepticism and atheism go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but those flavors exist apart too.

Sovereign Court

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Burden of proof

Quote:
When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of proof to justify or substantiate that claim especially when it challenges a perceived status quo


Rednal wrote:

@BNW: As a believer, that's actually something I keep in mind - although it helps that the specifics of my faith mean I'm actually less inclined to assume that there's divine influence in something that can be better explained by mundane means. XD

For example, I don't believe in ghosts - but I do believe in demons pretending to be ghosts. When people report stories of supernatural hauntings, I don't dismiss them out of hand... but I do try to keep an open mind. For example, those people could also be lying. They could have been the victims of a prank, or misinterpreted what they experienced, or remembered things incorrectly, and I suspect that the large majority of reports (possibly upwards of 99%) fall into those non-supernatural categories. I feel it would be inappropriate of me to simply assume the answer I wanted was correct, so in most cases, I simply remain undecided on the accuracy of such claims unless/until further evidence can be presented.

I keep an open mind, but a skeptical one. I generally assume that reports of "ghosts" generally have a mundane explanation that no one has either discovered, or that plenty of folks have simply ignored. I do not assume a supernatural cause until all rational avenues have been discounted, and that has never happened in any so-called "supernatural event".


thejeff wrote:
Hama wrote:
Anonymous Warrior wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I know at least one dedicated atheist who believes in the supernatural (things such as shamanism IIRC). Not as a set of beliefs but as unexplained occurrences
That's interesting. I've met agnostics who accept the existence of the supernatural, but never anyone who flatly denies the existence of a (or multiple) divine beings without also denying the supernatural. So then, is it a viewpoint that weird stuff happens, but it doesn't mean anything? Or is there more to it?
Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.

Other way around. Yours is the common approach. Atheism along with belief in the supernatural is rarer, but not unheard of.

It's at least theoretically possible for the supernatural to exist, but without divine beings. I think some variations of Buddhism might actually qualify as atheism with supernatural stuff - reincarnation and dharma and all that, but no actual divinity presiding over it.
There's nothing in particular about ghosts, for example, that requires a god. Psychic powers are another common belief that fits with atheism - often with a pseudo-science veneer.

Keep in mind that the bulk of Buddhism these days is supernatural junk that was never intended by the actual living Buddha himself, but added to it as the philosophy turned into a religion after being exported from it's native India, where it all but died out.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Keep in mind that the bulk of Buddhism these days is supernatural junk that was never intended by the actual living Buddha himself, but added to it as the philosophy turned into a religion after being exported from it's native India, where it all but died out.

I would never describe any varieties of Buddhism that way, but I did say "some variations". My understanding is that the earliest versions did include the "supernatural junk" I referred to, while some later ones added more active divine sorts of beings.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Yes, but the example given, by design, had a random chance of around 50% of coming out the "right" way (random shuffle pulling from a mix of approximately 50% Christian songs). And 50% is way over what you need to get people convinced -- if the chance of coming out the "right" way is 1/n, to break even, you just need for that 1/n person to be charismatic enough to persuade n people; anything beyond that (including further persuasion by some of the persuaded) comes out ahead.

Yes, but the % is irrelevant if you cannot even in principle have a Control Group. Which you can't when testing for deities such as described in Jewish/Christian sacred texts.

So scientifically testing for "god influence" in those cases is ipso facto pointless. Truly.


Sundakan wrote:

It's not a subtle indoctrination you need, it's an understanding that all of the current translations of the Bible are not, and CAN NOT be entirely accurately translated without a deeper understanding of the original text and the language it was written in.

Combine that with the fact that the book is meant to be part biography, part epic poem, part history book, part family tree, part love letter to the deity the writers believed exists and adore, and just a smidge of some of the writers' personal philosophies on life and you get a book that is miraculous in the sense that it is even as clear as it is now.

And quite frankly if it's so not worth your time to try and understand, why do you keep posting about it?

I have no doubt that 1st century Greek is understood as well as modern English. Translation of the Corinthian passage is not an issue.

The Corinthian passage is meant to be didactic. Explaining in near painful repetition that, for Christians, "resurrection" is literal bodily resurrection.

Why do I keep posting? Well, obviously I think I do understand the issue - one would have to be willfully ignorant not to. Hence it's worth (some of) my time.


thejeff wrote:

How do you handle religions without sacred texts?

Didn't you say earlier that you were a Zen Buddhist? I ask because that's a tradition that heavily emphasizes personal instruction by an experienced teacher, though I suppose in modern American many try to learn it from books.

I've long considered the following thought experiment: Take some isolated group with no prior knowledge of Christianity. Give them the Bible and convince them it was a Holy Text to base their religion on, but give them no other instruction on what Christianity is like. Come back in a few hundred years to see what they've made of it. I suspect it'll be unrecognisable.

What I said in regard to Zen Buddhism was this,
Quote:
Let me declare that I'm Zen Buddhist and also state that the most critical belief in Zen Buddhist is that the afterlife consists of eating muesli while playing PS4 Battlefield 1.

I've said it before and I'll repeat it here now. These messageboards need a feature to format for sarcasm. I mean, come on! "eating muesli and playing PS4 BF1" as a practice of Zen? Yeah, there's no way you could take that at face value.

As for your thought experiment:
This is another fallacy of expecting to be able to test for "god influence". One can assume, since they said so, that cold calling religious instruction like that is not representing the religion properly. Like the Judaism it came out of Christianity was intended to be communal. Christian scriptures are a byproduct of Christian practice. Are they a necessary byproduct? Sadly you can't test for that either.


Hama wrote:
Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.

Well, it's standard to believe that you don't get something from nothing. Except in the case of the Universe. In that case you get everything from nothing.

Does that count?


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There is no evidence that there is one and no known way that one could exist. It doesn't mean there isn't one, but the vast preponderance of the evidence points to there is not.

Even if there is one, there is no telling if any of the myriad religions actually has information about how to obtain it or avoid it or manipulate the conditions thereof. Assuming that is obtainable. Or desirable. Or avoidable. Or manipulatable.

My advice is do what you think is right in the life you know have now and stop worrying about it.


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Quark Blast wrote:
Hama wrote:
Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.

Well, it's standard to believe that you don't get something from nothing. Except in the case of the Universe. In that case you get everything from nothing.

Does that count?

No.

There is no general consensus that you get "everything from nothing" in the case of the Universe. It is by no means clear what happens prior to the point where our current understanding of how physics works breaks down. The best we can say is that our current understanding is insufficient to understand what happens. To say that there was nothing and now there is something remains the province of ex nihilo creation myths, not contemporary physical cosmology.

Moreover, virtual particles do seem to pop in and out of existence, suggesting that the principle "you don't get something from nothing" is not quite as rock-solid as one might hope.


Quark Blast wrote:
thejeff wrote:

How do you handle religions without sacred texts?

Didn't you say earlier that you were a Zen Buddhist? I ask because that's a tradition that heavily emphasizes personal instruction by an experienced teacher, though I suppose in modern American many try to learn it from books.

I've long considered the following thought experiment: Take some isolated group with no prior knowledge of Christianity. Give them the Bible and convince them it was a Holy Text to base their religion on, but give them no other instruction on what Christianity is like. Come back in a few hundred years to see what they've made of it. I suspect it'll be unrecognisable.

What I said in regard to Zen Buddhism was this,
Quote:
Let me declare that I'm Zen Buddhist and also state that the most critical belief in Zen Buddhist is that the afterlife consists of eating muesli while playing PS4 Battlefield 1.

I've said it before and I'll repeat it here now. These messageboards need a feature to format for sarcasm. I mean, come on! "eating muesli and playing PS4 BF1" as a practice of Zen? Yeah, there's no way you could take that at face value.

As for your thought experiment:
This is another fallacy of expecting to be able to test for "god influence". One can assume, since they said so, that cold calling religious instruction like that is not representing the religion properly. Like the Judaism it came out of Christianity was intended to be communal. Christian scriptures are a byproduct of Christian practice. Are they a necessary byproduct? Sadly you can't test for that either.

Fair enough. I guess I assumed you were Zen Buddhist & joking about it. The point about teachers vs texts remains.

If Christian scriptures are a byproduct of Christian practice and community, they're one that's at least 1600 years old (made up from older, sometimes much older, pieces). Shouldn't be much of a surprise the community and practice have changed and fractured. Much like that tribe wouldn't recreate the religion from the text, you can't understand it that way either.

Sovereign Court

Quark Blast wrote:
Hama wrote:
Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.

Well, it's standard to believe that you don't get something from nothing. Except in the case of the Universe. In that case you get everything from nothing.

Does that count?

Ever heard of matter antimatter creation? Or reverse annihalation? It's happening all the time, literally something coming out of nothing.


Hama wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
Hama wrote:
Well divine beings are supernatural, plus there is no evidence of supernatural whatsoever, so, until someone proves that supernatural exists, I will deny that it exists. It's that simple. Burden of proof is always on the back of those who claim that something exists.

Well, it's standard to believe that you don't get something from nothing. Except in the case of the Universe. In that case you get everything from nothing.

Does that count?

Ever heard of matter antimatter creation? Or reverse annihalation? It's happening all the time, literally something coming out of nothing.
quibblemuch wrote:
Moreover, virtual particles do seem to pop in and out of existence, suggesting that the principle "you don't get something from nothing" is not quite as rock-solid as one might hope.

Yes but to get virtual (or actual) "particles" you first have to posit a quantum field.

A quantum field nothing.


thejeff wrote:
If Christian scriptures are a byproduct of Christian practice and community, they're one that's at least 1600 years old (made up from older, sometimes much older, pieces). Shouldn't be much of a surprise the community and practice have changed and fractured. Much like that tribe wouldn't recreate the religion from the text, you can't understand it that way either.

I suppose, but to get from there to "you can still be Christian without affirming literal bodily resurrection" is a very forced conclusion.

Really just an assertion.

The Corinthian passage I quoted up thread is in no way obscure as to intended meaning.

The fact that the meaning is plainly understood today, 2,000 years after it was first written, is testament to its intended didactic clarity.


Quark Blast wrote:

Yes but to get virtual (or actual) "particles" you first have to posit a quantum field.

A quantum field nothing.

Fair enough. That was more of an aside anyway. You still haven't addressed the larger point of claiming that it is being claimed that everything came from nothing.

The answer to your initial question of "Does that count?" remains: no.


Quark Blast wrote:
I suppose, but to get from there to "you can still be Christian without affirming literal bodily resurrection" is a very forced conclusion.

It wasn't to Marcion.


quibblemuch wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
I suppose, but to get from there to "you can still be Christian without affirming literal bodily resurrection" is a very forced conclusion.
It wasn't to Marcion.

Yeah, and the fact that he no doubt had a personal copy of the very Corinthians letter under discussion tells me that people have been ####### ######## for as long as we have written records.


quibblemuch wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:

Yes but to get virtual (or actual) "particles" you first have to posit a quantum field.

A quantum field nothing.

Fair enough. That was more of an aside anyway. You still haven't addressed the larger point of claiming that it is being claimed that everything came from nothing.

The answer to your initial question of "Does that count?" remains: no.

Well, where did everything come from?


Quark Blast wrote:
Well, where did everything come from?

I don't know.

It is possible that is not a meaningful question.

Regardless, I am not making a point about where everything comes from. My original response to your question addressed your claim that it is standard to say that in the case of the universe, everything came from nothing. My response remains that it is not, in fact, standard to claim that. Answering the observation that it is not standard to claim everything comes from nothing with the question "well, where does everything come from?" is a non sequitur.


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Quark Blast wrote:
quibblemuch wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
I suppose, but to get from there to "you can still be Christian without affirming literal bodily resurrection" is a very forced conclusion.
It wasn't to Marcion.
Yeah, and the fact that he no doubt had a personal copy of the very Corinthians letter under discussion tells me that people have been ####### ######## for as long as we have written records.

And yet, as best we can tell, Marcion and his adherents called themselves Christians and believed themselves to be followers of Christ. Your insistence that, because they provide a counter-example from antiquity of what you deem to be a relativistic modern trend, they must not be Christians falls into the No True Scotsman fallacy. Either the text is indubitably interpretable only in the way that you insist it is, and must have been for 2,000 years or it is not. You can't have it both ways: Either it is sufficiently unambiguous that it has been uncontested for two millenia or as long as we have had written records people have been able to contest your interpretation and still consider themselves Christians.

I am not entirely clear which of the two is your point.


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Irontruth wrote:


Belief in people is not the same as belief in concepts.

I don't doubt that you find belief vague and complicated. You have said so and I believe you.

But you aren't stepping back and seeing how simple it is. Everything you know comes from only two sources direct observation or being told by some other person. You don't have to believe that a chair exists because it falls into that first category; direct observation. But if someone told you a green overstuffed chair could be found in the coatroom of a certain Saudi prince's palace, you would either have to decide whether to believe him or go to Saudi Arabia and check the coatroom for yourself. The vast majority of what you "know" is in the second category; belief. EVEN concepts like God or justice are told to you by a person, clearly you didn't believe the person telling you about God but did belief the person telling you about justice. Justice and God are equally "knowable" and since the definitions of each change from culture to culture equally dismissable. It all just boils down to whether you believed the person telling you about the concept.

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