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The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

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The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Chris Weimer » Fri Apr 28, 2006 11:33 am

In another thread, Bert mentions that the Bible is an added source of knowledge about the universe, apart from empiricism. Just a couple of questions:

Which Bible? In what form? The Bible as it was originally compiled, or the many millions of changes that have taken place in the text since the first book was penned?

Why is it considered a source of knowledge apart from empiricism? Why is it uncritically accepted but not the Vedas, or Homer? What reason is there to put any faith in the Bible?

And finally, why should we trust your judgement about the Bible? Why do you trust your own judgement about the Bible? What happens when the Bible conflicts with other worldviews? Does it take priority?

Thanks for answering these simple questions about your faith.

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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:31 pm

Chris Weimer wrote:In another thread, Bert mentions that the Bible is an added source of knowledge about the universe, apart from empiricism. Just a couple of questions:

Which Bible? In what form? The Bible as it was originally compiled, or the many millions of changes that have taken place in the text since the first book was penned?

Why is it considered a source of knowledge apart from empiricism? Why is it uncritically accepted but not the Vedas, or Homer? What reason is there to put any faith in the Bible?

And finally, why should we trust your judgement about the Bible? Why do you trust your own judgement about the Bible? What happens when the Bible conflicts with other worldviews? Does it take priority?

Thanks for answering these simple questions about your faith.

Chris Weimer


Hi Chris,

I can't answer for Bert, but if you don't mind, I would like to attempt to answer some of your questions.

I am not an expert in textual criticism but from what I have read and heard, the Bible we have to day is the Bible as it was originally penned. With the various fragments and texts that we have today, the original can be reconstructed with a very high degree of certainty. With this in mind, I am not aware of "millions of changes" that have occurred in the text.

Also, I think your question about whose judgement to trust in respect to the Bible is misplaced. It is not for us to trust our own judgement about the Bible, we are to trust the Creator of everything, the One who wrote the Bible. Our understanding and wisdom is flawed but He is perfect. Trust Him and you can't go wrong. As such, the Bible takes priority over everything else.

Hope this helps a little,

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Postby Sanskrit » Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:29 pm

It is not for us to trust our own judgement about the Bible, we are to trust the Creator of everything, the One who wrote the Bible.


I didn't know that Christians believed that God wrote the Bible.
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Postby Rhuiden » Fri Apr 28, 2006 7:19 pm

Sanskrit wrote:
It is not for us to trust our own judgement about the Bible, we are to trust the Creator of everything, the One who wrote the Bible.


I didn't know that Christians believed that God wrote the Bible.


We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. He used many different human writers (40 or so) but He was the author. At least that is the possition of most fundamentalist christians.

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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Bert » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:55 pm

Chris, I think Rhuiden has answered your questions.
I would like to make one comment. Seeing that you don't believe the Bible I understand your position that science has to be the answer to everything.
I sincerely believe the Bible. Why can you not accept my position but think that I answer, "God made the universe" as a cop out?
Merely saying "goddidit" is a cop out answer.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Chris Weimer » Sat Apr 29, 2006 9:20 pm

Rhuiden wrote:I am not an expert in textual criticism but from what I have read and heard, the Bible we have to day is the Bible as it was originally penned.

It goes beyond textual criticism. While TC tries to find the earliest sources for a certain text leading up to a certain period, it is beyond its scope to find out what it was like beyond the time we have it attested for. So while we can get to an early form of unified John, trying to figure out which two documents were merged to get its structure actually comes from source criticism.

So while textual criticism might maintain that the NT we have is fairly accurate for itself (and even I'll give you that) you'll be hardpressed to
find a respectable, mainstream scholar working with the OT who'll give you the same. Check out Friedman's version of the Torah sometime The Bible With Sources Revealed.

Also, I think your question about whose judgement to trust in respect to the Bible is misplaced. It is not for us to trust our own judgement about the Bible, we are to trust the Creator of everything, the One who wrote the Bible. Our understanding and wisdom is flawed but He is perfect. Trust Him and you can't go wrong. As such, the Bible takes priority over everything else.

Why should I believe you to trust the Bible? Why do you have so much faith in your own judgment to know that the Creator actually wrote the Bible? In reality, you have faith in yourself that you made the right choice in having faith in whoever you think wrote the Bible. Why do you have this faith?

Bert wrote:Chris, I think Rhuiden has answered your questions.
I would like to make one comment. Seeing that you don't believe the Bible I understand your position that science has to be the answer to everything.

I do not think that "science" has the answer to everything. There are some things we'll probably never know, at least we do not now. But for me its quite a huge leap to go from "science doesn't have all the answers" to "let's believe some really old book because our parents did!"

I sincerely believe the Bible. Why can you not accept my position but think that I answer, "God made the universe" as a cop out?

Because goddidit is a cop-out answer. You have made an assertion based on faith, yet you give no evidence for it at all. You give no reason why you should either believe the Bible or believe that someone whom we cannot see, hear, touch, feel, smell, or measure created the entire universe, talked to a bunch of people back in the Iron Age, sent his son 2000 years ago and then refuse to show up today, like some cowardly tyrant who sits up in the sky and sends people to hell because he refuses to make himself manifest.

Not only that, but why should we believe your Bible and not the Quran? Not the Jewish Bible and Talmud? Not the Dao De Jing? Not the Buddhist or Hindu scriptures? Not Homer? Why is your mythology more special than any other religion?

Goddidit is a cop-out answer. It's something you can hide behind so you don't have to answer these questions.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby edonnelly » Sat Apr 29, 2006 9:56 pm

Chris Weimer wrote:You have made an assertion based on faith, yet you give no evidence for it at all.

I can't speak for Bert or Rhuiden, but there is evidence out there for those who wish to analyze it. For example, you could look at those who believe and follow the teachings of the Bible and compare their lives (in terms of things that matter to you) to the lives of those people who do not believe or do not follow the teachings of the Bible. It doesn't lend itself to traditional science because people would never agree on the measures of a "good life," but certainly an individual could make the judgement of what he/she thinks constitutes a good life for him/herself.

I would submit that if after doing this analysis one were to conclude that believing in and following the Bible leads to a better life (however one may define it) then that would be evidence (though not necessarily proof) that would support the position of faith.

Chris Weimer wrote:... like some cowardly tyrant who sits up in the sky and sends people to hell because he refuses to make himself manifest.

I'm not sure how you would want God to manifest Himself. Perhaps if you do not see Him at work, you are not looking in the right place or are not looking for the right things. I also think that one of God's greatest gifts to us is freewill, so I doubt He would behave in a manner that would take that away from any one of us.

It reminds me of the old story of the man who dies and goes to heaven. He confronts God and says "How could You let all those terrible things happen?" God's response to him is "How could you?"
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Bert » Sat Apr 29, 2006 10:22 pm

Chris Weimer wrote: You have made an assertion based on faith, yet you give no evidence for it at all.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 RSV)
Chris Weimer wrote:
Goddidit is a cop-out answer. It's something you can hide behind so you don't have to answer these questions.

If you can't accept my honesty when I say that I don't use it as a cop-out but that I truly believe this, then we're done.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Chris Weimer » Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:35 am

edonnelly wrote:I can't speak for Bert or Rhuiden, but there is evidence out there for those who wish to analyze it. For example, you could look at those who believe and follow the teachings of the Bible and compare their lives (in terms of things that matter to you) to the lives of those people who do not believe or do not follow the teachings of the Bible. It doesn't lend itself to traditional science because people would never agree on the measures of a "good life," but certainly an individual could make the judgement of what he/she thinks constitutes a good life for him/herself.

Yes, I would like to see some studies on this. From what I've seen thus far, the overwhelming majority of the prison population is Christian. Yes, Christianity really has them on the right path, eh?

I would submit that if after doing this analysis one were to conclude that believing in and following the Bible leads to a better life (however one may define it) then that would be evidence (though not necessarily proof) that would support the position of faith.

What it would prove is that Christianity makes people better. It says nothing about the existance of the God they worship. I also submit that Buddhism and Taoism also have their adherents lead excellent lives morally. Does that make Buddhism and Taoism better than Christianity?

Also, if you were to do this "study" - are we talking about just American Christians? Who do you count as Christian? Can past historical atrocities be used against its idealogy?

Overall, actually, I think it is quite a bad example. People are people. Look at that Christian woman in Texas who drowned her children because she thought God told her to. However, I wouldn't hold her as proof that Christians are evil child-hating parents. Didn't your own leader say "Judge not that ye be not judged"? Wouldn't this "study" go expressely against that belief?

I'm not sure how you would want God to manifest Himself. Perhaps if you do not see Him at work, you are not looking in the right place or are not looking for the right things.

By all means, if you have a picture of the guy, I would like to see it! What bar are you going to that he hangs around? No, doesn't like bars? What about wedding feasts? If I recall correctly, he liked to do that, you know, turning water into wine and all. No, you can't find him at weddings either? Well by golly, just where is this guy? Isn't he supposed to be everywhere?

[quote\I also think that one of God's greatest gifts to us is freewill, so I doubt He would behave in a manner that would take that away from any one of us.[/quote]
But he did before - why would he not again? Does this mean that God changes? Think of the implications of your faith if God can change on whim. Good God one minute, bad God the next. Who are you worshipping again?

It reminds me of the old story of the man who dies and goes to heaven. He confronts God and says "How could You let all those terrible things happen?" God's response to him is "How could you?"

Oh yes, blame me for Hitler. Well done! Well done! I work hard in my community to make it better, to lessen crime and poverty.

What has your God really done?
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Chris Weimer » Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:35 am

Bert wrote:
Chris Weimer wrote:Goddidit is a cop-out answer. It's something you can hide behind so you don't have to answer these questions.

If you can't accept my honesty when I say that I don't use it as a cop-out but that I truly believe this, then we're done.

Like I said - so you don't have to answer these questions.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:05 am

Chris Weimer wrote:Why should I believe you to trust the Bible? Why do you have so much faith in your own judgment to know that the Creator actually wrote the Bible? In reality, you have faith in yourself that you made the right choice in having faith in whoever you think wrote the Bible. Why do you have this faith?


You missed my point completely. You should not trust anyone, read it for yourself, talk to God yourself, call out to Him and see if He doesn't answer you. Don't trust another flawed person, trust the perfect creator of the universe.

Also, my faith is in the one true God of the universe because of what He did in my life. I know what He did for me. I know how He changed my life. I know how what He has done for me has affected my wife and kids. I do not trust that I made the right decision, I have faith that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He will do.


Chris Weimer wrote:Goddidit is a cop-out answer. It's something you can hide behind so you don't have to answer these questions.


Saying God created...is not a cop out answer, it is quite logical if you understand the Law of Causality and follow it to its logical conclusion. The fact the God created everything is the only logical possibility.

I am curious Chris, what evidence are you willing to accept. If you will give us some idea maybe we can help point you in the right direction.

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Postby edonnelly » Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:07 am

Chris,
To clarify my point, let me emphasize that I never used the term Christian at all in my post, I said people "who believe and follow the teachings of the Bible." Labels cloud the issue, and simply calling oneself a Christian means different things to different people.

Your post sounds hostile, and so I am puzzled as to why you asked the question if you are not interested in anyone's answer. I am reminded of an old Zen koan where the master asks his pupil "are you listening or just waiting for your turn to speak?"

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Postby Rhuiden » Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:14 am

edonnelly wrote:I am reminded of an old Zen koan where the master asks his pupil "are you listening or just waiting for your turn to speak?"


This describes so many of our young people today.
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Postby IreneY » Sun Apr 30, 2006 2:39 am

Can I ask a question too? I am an atheist. It goes without saying that, being an atheist, I don't believe that Bible was inspired by God and so on and so forth.

Chris, as far as I have noticed, no one has attacked your belief that there is no God. If such a thing had happened I would have taken up the 'cause' and I would have done my best to back you up. This is not the case however. I would also probably participate in a serious discussion about the existence of God, although, from my past experience, such a discussion leads nowhere.

Now for the question: Why do you keep attacking and insulting those who believe (and in particular believe in the Christian God)?

As long as the beliefs of a person do not cause harm to another human being or/and to himself, I can't see why they have to be the target of such a polemic.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby annis » Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:05 pm

Rhuiden wrote: it is quite logical if you understand the Law of Causality and follow it to its logical conclusion.


So what caused god?
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:56 pm

annis wrote:
Rhuiden wrote: it is quite logical if you understand the Law of Causality and follow it to its logical conclusion.


So what caused god?


That is exactly the right question Annis. The answer is that nothing caused God, He has always existed. I know on the surface that sounds a little weak but actually it is the only logical possibility.

The Law of Causality says that every effect must have a cause. Theoretically, you could trace things back to the very first effect and its cause. Since this is the first cause, it must also be uncaused. By this I mean that it must be able to exist in and of itself and it must also have existed for eternity past. This has to be the case because if there was ever a time when nothing existed, nothing is what would still be....something cannot be created by nothing.

I hope this helps,

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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby annis » Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:47 pm

Rhuiden wrote:The answer is that nothing caused God, He has always existed. I know on the surface that sounds a little weak but actually it is the only logical possibility.


Well, no. From the standpoint of theology what you say may be necessary — didn't Augustine decide that god was outside of time to harmonize omnipotence and prophecy? — but theology is not a great conversion tool. Too much is assumed.

The Law of Causality says that every effect must have a cause. Theoretically, you could trace things back to the very first effect and its cause. Since this is the first cause, it must also be uncaused. By this I mean that it must be able to exist in and of itself and it must also have existed for eternity past. This has to be the case because if there was ever a time when nothing existed, nothing is what would still be....something cannot be created by nothing.


That is not at all clear, but this takes us into realms of particle chambers, quantum fluctuations and scary theoretical physics that cause my head to ache. Since I'm still recovering from the extraction of wisdom teeth, I'll simply say that all I'm prepared to say about ultimate causes is "I don't know," never a wrong answer.

The point I'm trying to make with this line of questioning is that to someone who isn't already a believer, invoking a law of causality and offering as a solution a being which just happens to be immune really makes no sense. As I said in the thread that started this, no one of us can go back to the start of time with callipers and a laptop to take notes on what kicked things off, so we're often stuck having to deal with infinity. I don't know about you, but that makes my head hurt even worse. Physicists also offer several infinite answers (an endless chain of universes giving birth to new ones, an infinite cycle of big-bang big-crunch big-bang...)

So while an uncaused being might be necessary theology, there's no compelling reason to accept that — especially after invoking a law of causality — over other possibilities if you're not already a believer.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rindu » Mon May 01, 2006 1:58 am

Rhuiden wrote:The Law of Causality says that every effect must have a cause.


The problem with this formulation is that 1. it is entirely uninformative and 2. the truth or falsity of the statement does not depend in any way on the state or nature of the universe. These are both closely related.

Now, the "Law of Causality" is merely true by definition. It is true just given the meanings of the words invovled. The concept of "effect" is bound up with the concept of "cause". Rather than making your case stronger, it actually renders it largely irrelevant. What you need to show, is that every _event_ has a cause--an uncaused event would not be an effect, and thus, in cases of uncaused events, your Law of Causality does not help establish the existence of a first cause.

A second issue is the fact that there doesn't appear to be any argument in favour of identifying the Christian God with the first cause. Let us assume for the moment that all events do have some cause, and that, at some point, there was some singular event which was the first event. This event was the First Cause. Now, what reasoning do you employ to establish that God was this cause? Certainly we might decide to assign the name "God" to whatever was this first cause, but that is a far cry from admitting a robust theological system.

The third issue is quite simple: if God was the first cause, then he must have been uncaused. But this seems to be impossible.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Mon May 01, 2006 2:18 am

Rindu wrote:Now, the "Law of Causality" is merely true by definition. It is true just given the meanings of the words invovled. The concept of "effect" is bound up with the concept of "cause". Rather than making your case stronger, it actually renders it largely irrelevant. What you need to show, is that every _event_ has a cause--an uncaused event would not be an effect, and thus, in cases of uncaused events, your Law of Causality does not help establish the existence of a first cause.


Can you name for me one effect/event that does not have a cause.

Rindu wrote:A second issue is the fact that there doesn't appear to be any argument in favour of identifying the Christian God with the first cause.


It is my belief that the first cause is the Christian God but that did not seem relevant to the argument until this time. My sole purpose was to show the necessity for an uncaused first cause that has existed eternally.

Rindu wrote:Let us assume for the moment that all events do have some cause, and that, at some point, there was some singular event which was the first event. This event was the First Cause. Now, what reasoning do you employ to establish that God was this cause? Certainly we might decide to assign the name "God" to whatever was this first cause, but that is a far cry from admitting a robust theological system.


An event/effect cannot be its own cause. This is illogical.


Rindu wrote:The third issue is quite simple: if God was the first cause, then he must have been uncaused. But this seems to be impossible.


I agree but it is the only logical conclusion, even if it seems impossible to us.

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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Mon May 01, 2006 2:30 am

annis wrote:Well, no. From the standpoint of theology what you say may be necessary — didn't Augustine decide that god was outside of time to harmonize omnipotence and prophecy? — but theology is not a great conversion tool. Too much is assumed.


The search for how we came to be here is not limited to the realm of theology. Even non-believers want to know how we got here.

annis wrote:I'm still recovering from the extraction of wisdom teeth, I'll simply say that all I'm prepared to say about ultimate causes is "I don't know," never a wrong answer.


True, but it should be the starting point for the search.


annis wrote:The point I'm trying to make with this line of questioning is that to someone who isn't already a believer, invoking a law of causality and offering as a solution a being which just happens to be immune really makes no sense. As I said in the thread that started this, no one of us can go back to the start of time with callipers and a laptop to take notes on what kicked things off, so we're often stuck having to deal with infinity. I don't know about you, but that makes my head hurt even worse. Physicists also offer several infinite answers (an endless chain of universes giving birth to new ones, an infinite cycle of big-bang big-crunch big-bang...)

So while an uncaused being might be necessary theology, there's no compelling reason to accept that — especially after invoking a law of causality — over other possibilities if you're not already a believer.


I disagree completely...a non-believer is exactly the person who needs to be reasoned with in this manner. A non-believer will not likely open the Bible to search for meaning without good reason. Knowing that there must be an uncaused first cause to the universe might make someone try to figure out who or what that being is. The Bible is a something they are like to investigate at that point.

Someone who is already a believer may want to know that there is an uncaused first cause but it is a secondary issue at that point for them.

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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Mon May 01, 2006 2:33 am

I am not a Buddhist and doubt I ever will become one, but I have always liked the Buddhist approach to the creation of the universe : creation is irrelevant, inquiring into the present condition of humanity is more urgent and more productive. Of course, people will always wonder about the origin of everything, and that's natural...
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Postby ethopoeia » Mon May 01, 2006 2:38 am

Despite having a literary approach to religion and myths in general, I find your logic disputation on causality very interesting. I should like to make a brief case against the expression "the Christian God" and ask a question about the identification of St Michael with Jesus among early Christians.

"The Christian God" implies either that there's more than one God, or that non-Christians are godless -an undelicate approach to a delicate matter. Also "the Christian God" brings to my mind the words by the Greek philosopher Xenophanes, who suggested that, if horses had gods, they would look like horses. I don't know who had the brilliant idea to invent a God who disregards sex, but most probably he was a scholar :D

About St Michael, I've been reading Hermas' Shepherd, a Greek apocalypse of the 2nd century. In it, Jesus is identified with St Michael, apparently a general trend in early Christianism. I would like someone conversant in religious issues to explain me more about it.

My excuses to all religious horses :roll:
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Postby annis » Mon May 01, 2006 2:42 am

ethopoeia wrote:But "the Christian God" also brings to my mind the funny words by the Greek philosopher Xenophanes, who suggested that, if horses had gods, they would look like horses.


Well, exactly. There are 1000s of gods to choose from, no two alike. The Christian god is not especially like Zeus, Krishna or the White Buffalo Woman. :) It does seem useful to be able to distinguish them when one has moved from discussing divinity in general on to particular ones.
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Postby Bert » Mon May 01, 2006 2:48 am

I am not able to give proof for the existence of God. I believe it. That may seem illogical to you but that's okay.
Like I said earlier, :Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
I hope that you can accept that may faith is genuine, even if you don't understand it, and not the result of needing a cop-out.
It is hard for me to understand that it is possible for someone to be an atheist but that does not mean that I don't accept their sincerety.
(I guess being an atheist is actually a believe system as well is it not? Do you believe there is no God or do you just not believe in a god?)
We should be able to have a decent discussion about it without getting rude. I believe because of what the Bible says, not because of a reasoning based on cause and effect. That may not satisfy all the questions but that's all I've got. :)

I'm afraid that bit of rambling did not add much information so I'll put a sock in it.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby annis » Mon May 01, 2006 2:51 am

Rhuiden wrote:A non-believer will not likely open the Bible to search for meaning without good reason. Knowing that there must be an uncaused first cause to the universe might make someone try to figure out who or what that being is. The Bible is a something they are like to investigate at that point.


Rhuiden, my point is that the unbeliever has no reason to prefer the idea of the unmoved mover (to use Aristotle's phrase) over other ideas about ultimate causes. In fact, it sounds pretty unlikely, and seems to raise more questions than it answers. Further, even if an unbeliever accepts the notion that an uncaused causer is necessary, I don't imagine it will occur to many to check the Bible for the solution to the problem. That's what I mean when I say it isn't a compelling argument.

Perhaps there are some non-believers for whom this argument is convincing. It sure isn't for me, nor is it for most of the atheists I know, for whom "so what caused god" is a question that demands a much sounder answer.
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Postby annis » Mon May 01, 2006 3:00 am

Bert wrote: Do you believe there is no God or do you just not believe in a god?)


Depends. :) To get technical...

One can be a negative atheist, where the "negative" means you don't think the evidence in support of the existence is sound enough to justify believing in it. (Negative = not enough evidence supporting.)

Or one can be a positive atheist, where you consider the evidence against the existence of god to be good enough that you're comfortable denying its existence. (Positive = the evidence against is good.)

Further, one isn't an atheist in a vacuum. One might be a positive atheist with respect to, say, the Olympian gods, but a negative atheist with respect to the god of Islam.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Mon May 01, 2006 3:02 am

annis wrote:Perhaps there are some non-believers for whom this argument is convincing. It sure isn't for me, nor is it for most of the atheists I know, for whom "so what caused god" is a question that demands a much sounder answer.


But the point that must be made is this....If something caused God, then God is not God...the thing that caused God is God. The question is one that takes people into an infinite loop....what caused God, God_a caused God...what caused God_a, God_b caused God_a....what caused God_b, God_c caused God_b....etc...etc...etc.

The question seems more to be a way of avoiding the issue that there must be something (the uncaused first cause) that created everything

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Postby ethopoeia » Mon May 01, 2006 3:21 am

The discussion about the existence of God is OK as an exercice of rhetoric and logic, but uninteresting as a dogma and irrealistic as scientific knowledge.

Which evidence can you possibly gather of a cause?
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby annis » Mon May 01, 2006 3:33 am

Rhuiden wrote:The question seems more to be a way of avoiding the issue that there must be something (the uncaused first cause) that created everything


Nope, though I can see that it must seem that way. (I promise you, I know all about mystified frustration in these sorts of debates.) My own non-belief depends on much less exotic issues than Ultimate Causes. But for someone to tell me that the chain of causation raises a serious problem for which the answer is to sidestep causation, I just don't see why I should accept that answer. Absent other evidence, it seems incredibly arbitrary.

If by the time this thread goes silent I've managed to convince you that I really do think "god" isn't a compelling solution the problem of infinite regress, and that I'm not just being difficult, I'll feel I've accomplished more than I ever have in online debates of this sort. I have this strange feeling I've nearly managed it. :)
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....

Postby elis » Mon May 01, 2006 6:33 am

let me just note that Aristotle's unmoved mover/ thought of thought doesn't have much in common with a christian god.

Everything that is essential to the christian god is non-existent in the aristotelian concept.

Aristotle would find the idea of faith or providence absurd.
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Postby IreneY » Mon May 01, 2006 6:57 am

that's much better!!

First of all I'd like to say that to me following one religion or the other is more a matter of faith, not logic. By that I mean that you believe that God(s) exists not because you have sat down, rationally examined evidence and then decided to follow this or that religion.

I cannot argue with faith and I don't think anyone can. Or that anyone should, for that matter (provided as always that the system of beliefs one follows is not one that advocates hatred or is in anyway harmful to anyone)

When it comes to First Cause though I can't see why the answer cannot be "firmament" or "a banana". Obviously I am half joking but I can't see why saying that i.e. raw materials of a kind existed forever is a less acceptable first cause than "God(s)".

Our minds are actually not able to fully grasp for ever. That something existed forever. Saying that this is because what existed forever is a supernatural being (God) which we cannot comprehend is not (to my mind) answering the question, it's a sophistry of a kind:

"I can't understand how something could exist without cause, how could something exist forever, so I put in the beginning a God who is beyond comprehension. Since God is supernatural I may not understand how He could exist without cause or exist forever but that is ok since, after all, He is God"


The answer people give to "How come God existed forever"? is "He did"
The same answer can be given for the aforementioned firmament (thoughnot for the banana)
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Postby edonnelly » Mon May 01, 2006 12:22 pm

It sounds to me like there are three separate questions being discussed:

1. Is there some ultimate cause?
2. If there is some ultimate cause, what should we call it (God, or something else)?
3. If there is some ultimate cause, what is its nature (the "Christian God," a big horse, etc.)?

If I understand Rhuiden's post, he believe's the answer to #1 is yes (and he happens to call that cause God, but that is question #2).

From the posts that follow his, I can't always tell if the objection is to question #1 (is there an ultimate cause?) or to one of the other questions (what do we call that cause and what is its nature?)
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Postby Rhuiden » Mon May 01, 2006 7:56 pm

Here is a link that may be able to explain the Law of Causality better than I have done. It also gives a brief desription of strengths and weaknesses of the argument.

http://www.carm.org/apologetics/cosmological.htm
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Postby Bert » Mon May 01, 2006 11:45 pm

Didn't C.S. Lewis write a book where he set out to prove that God exists?
I have not read it and I don't know the name. Any of you heard of it?
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Postby edonnelly » Mon May 01, 2006 11:54 pm

Bert wrote:Didn't C.S. Lewis write a book where he set out to prove that God exists?
I have not read it and I don't know the name. Any of you heard of it?


I think he wrote a lot about it, but I believe the book you are talking about is Mere Christianity. I have not read it, though, so I can't make any comments about it. C.S. Lewis is a famous atheist who eventually changed his opinion on the matter and became a Christian apologist.
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Postby bellum paxque » Tue May 02, 2006 5:15 am

I think he wrote a lot about it, but I believe the book you are talking about is Mere Christianity. I have not read it, though, so I can't make any comments about it.


I have read the book, and Lewis doesn't base his arguments on causality but rather on morality. His premise is that people share a moral conscience. This conscience, relying on comparable principles, is consistent enough to be called the moral law by analogy with natural laws. Ergo God. Actually, the argument's more sophisticated than that, but it's been six years since I've read the thing.

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Postby Rhuiden » Tue May 02, 2006 3:29 pm

edonnelly wrote:
Bert wrote:Didn't C.S. Lewis write a book where he set out to prove that God exists?
I have not read it and I don't know the name. Any of you heard of it?


I think he wrote a lot about it, but I believe the book you are talking about is Mere Christianity. I have not read it, though, so I can't make any comments about it. C.S. Lewis is a famous atheist who eventually changed his opinion on the matter and became a Christian apologist.


Mere Christianity is on my reading list. I plan to get to it someday. I have heard it is an excellent book.
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Postby Rhuiden » Tue May 02, 2006 3:35 pm

IreneY wrote:When it comes to First Cause though I can't see why the answer cannot be "firmament" or "a banana". Obviously I am half joking but I can't see why saying that i.e. raw materials of a kind existed forever is a less acceptable first cause than "God(s)".


The point is that whatever has exist eternally as the uncaused first cause must be something that can exist in and of itself. As edonnelly has pointed out, what we call that uncaused first cause is another question.

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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Tue May 02, 2006 3:51 pm

annis wrote:If by the time this thread goes silent I've managed to convince you that I really do think "god" isn't a compelling solution the problem of infinite regress, and that I'm not just being difficult, I'll feel I've accomplished more than I ever have in online debates of this sort. I have this strange feeling I've nearly managed it. :)


Annis, I do not question the sincerety of your beliefs. I appologize if I have given that impression. I have never thought that your comments were intended simply to be difficult, I cannot say that for others whose posts I have read in the past.

Lastly, I appreciate your participation because it helps me to see how people who don't believe as I do think. It allow forces me to think more about what I believe and how to communicate it effectively.

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Postby IreneY » Tue May 02, 2006 8:42 pm

Rhuiden wrote:
IreneY wrote:When it comes to First Cause though I can't see why the answer cannot be "firmament" or "a banana". Obviously I am half joking but I can't see why saying that i.e. raw materials of a kind existed forever is a less acceptable first cause than "God(s)".


The point is that whatever has exist eternally as the uncaused first cause must be something that can exist in and of itself. As edonnelly has pointed out, what we call that uncaused first cause is another question.

Rhuiden



Look, I have not really looked into the First Cause argument so I can't really say whether it is right or wrong. What I'm saying is that it cannot be used as an argument slash proof that there is a God.
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