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Split off of Wilkowsky's posts in Christianity 201

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  • #16
    I can not speak to all of this but I will give it a try.
    Originally posted by Wilkowsky View Post
    So you say emotions arise from belief in Christianity and not the other way around? Well OK, maybe I'm just looking at those cases where it was the other way around and didn't last for long and wrongly conclude that if some people believed on emotional grounds then the belief itself is an emotional thing.
    To some degree I was really speaking of myself here. Emotion had nothing to do with my coming to trust in Christ. I finally became convinced that the gospel message was an accurate one, and that the Bible presented an accurate picture. If someone claims to be a Christian because they got all excited, it does not surprise me that they do not stick. Check out the parable of the sower.

    Alright, but still what other grounds are there to build your belief on? Maybe tradition - being raised in a Christian family? But then what if you were raised in a Muslim or Jewish tradition? And I myself were raised in this sort of Christian family where Christianity is just a culture, not a way of life. Maybe reason then? But what about all the evidence against religion? What about materialism and the fact that whatever happens with your physical brain influences your mind? That pretty much undercuts any spirituality.
    I too was raised in what I have come to call churchianity, or cultural christianity. I was not raised as a real Christian.

    How can I trust God if i can't trust myself?
    It makes perfect sense not to trust yourself. I do not trust myself but Christ. I know that is not really what you were pointing to. But if you are convinced that it is true, I mean convinced, not hoping, that ceases to be a problem.

    A little autobiographical stuff here. When I first came to Christ I expected to suddenly become perfect - or at least way better that I had been. When that did not happen I did not question the truth of the gospel, but the truth of my salvation. With years of trusting Christ I came to see that I can never "know" in the way you are seeking. Instead I became convinced that while I could never know enough, I could trust the one who could.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Wilkowsky View Post
      Reason also says that people may submit to a torturous death in defense of something they know to be a lie if they were living with that lie for a significant portion of their lives and they either began truly believing it or didn't have any other kind of life to get back to so they have chosen death.
      I think this is a misunderstanding of the time of Jesus. Pretty much all of the apostles could've gone right back to doing what they had been doing at any time; it would've been much easier for them than travel to foreign lands where they could expect ridicule at best and death at worst for speaking out.
      Besides, for how many of those who supposedly have seen risen Jesus do you have evidence for them dying a torturous death?
      Only one (John) of the twelve apostles (including Judas' replacement, Matthias) died a natural death, and he survived more than one attempt to kill him.
      Which one? Catholic? One of the protestant churches? I won't go as far as some do to say that all of those something-thousand denominations are claiming that they are the only true church and the only path to salvation (I know that's not true) but the infighting among Christians is not helpful at all in determining if that's the one true religion.
      The Orthodox and Catholic churches have the best claim to apostolicity. I converted to Orthodoxy a few years ago because I became convinced that it was the closest thing to what the early church taught. I'm convinced that Protestant rejection of tradition is what has caused the proliferation of denominations (fairly, there are only something-hundred "denominations" but there are something-thousand independent churches which do not claim a denominational affiliation). I do not say that the Orthodox Church is the only way; God can work as He sees fit, after all, and I'd far rather someone be Protestant than non-Christian.
      [/quote]
      Thanks, I'll see what happens.[/QUOTE]
      You're welcome.
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      • #18
        Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
        I can not speak to all of this but I will give it a try.
        A little autobiographical stuff here. When I first came to Christ I expected to suddenly become perfect - or at least way better that I had been. When that did not happen I did not question the truth of the gospel, but the truth of my salvation. With years of trusting Christ I came to see that I can never "know" in the way you are seeking. Instead I became convinced that while I could never know enough, I could trust the one who could.
        That makes sense. After all faith in The New Testament is pistis - trust. Or so I heard. I guess It'd be unfair for me to reject religion because I don't understand all the technical stuff and how all that works.

        On the other hand it seems for me that materialism offers more accurate description of reality. That there are less problems with that model. Are you familiar with any good refutations of that ideology? Or any solid evidence? I mean like respected philosophers or people documenting phenomena like NDEs. And when I write good and solid I mean good methodology, people with credentials, stuff like that.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
          I think this is a misunderstanding of the time of Jesus. Pretty much all of the apostles could've gone right back to doing what they had been doing at any time; it would've been much easier for them than travel to foreign lands where they could expect ridicule at best and death at worst for speaking out.
          I see it this way: when they were martyred they were already respected leaders among their people. So it makes sense they'd rather choose death than get back to being simple fishermen or whatever they were doing. On the other hand they'd be ridiculed and would face the threat of death through all of their "career", not just at the end. And that's something to consider.

          Only one (John) of the twelve apostles (including Judas' replacement, Matthias) died a natural death, and he survived more than one attempt to kill him.
          I don't want to sound like a fundy atheist but are there any evidence for that from outside the Bible or church tradition? Or could you demonstrate that the tradition is reliable in this matter?

          The Orthodox and Catholic churches have the best claim to apostolicity. I converted to Orthodoxy a few years ago because I became convinced that it was the closest thing to what the early church taught. I'm convinced that Protestant rejection of tradition is what has caused the proliferation of denominations (fairly, there are only something-hundred "denominations" but there are something-thousand independent churches which do not claim a denominational affiliation). I do not say that the Orthodox Church is the only way; God can work as He sees fit, after all, and I'd far rather someone be Protestant than non-Christian.
          Don't you guys believe there is no salvation outside the Catholic and Orthodox churches? Or is it just Catholic people? Or I get it completely wrong?
          I do have a problem with Protestant churches being plankton essentially. On the other hand some of Catholic (I don't know much about Orthodoxy but I suppose you share at least some tradition with them) practices seem to me superfluous at best and at worst contradicting the Bible.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Wilkowsky View Post
            ...

            These are just kind of questions I've been struggling with lately. And sadly I'm leaning more and more towards materialism. But then again I'm a kind of a pessimistic type of person so maybe I'm just choosing the belief that I'm more comfortable with?

            How can I trust God if i can't trust myself? I mean, how can I know I'm not just deluded? Or if there is something like a spiritual realm, how can I know I'm not being led astray by some kind of spiritual enemy of God? How can i be sure I'm not being led astray to Christianity and it's Islam or Judaism or Bahaism or Cargo Cults or whatever that is one true religion? How can i even know if there is something like a One True Religion?
            Try it in reverse - how do you know the material world exists? Yeah, yeah, you slam your fist into the desk and it hurts - but that's just sensory input and senses can be mistaken. Physicists tell us that the solid we think we experience isn't actually solid at all - atoms have oodles of space between them and we only 'touch' the charges that surround the atoms - never the material itself. How 'physical' is the world, really?

            Decarte's "I think therefore I am' is really a surrender to the reality that we can't even prove our own existence - let alone the existence of anything else. The materialist errs in thinking that the physical world is provably, objectively real. It may be real - it may not - and there's no way to prove it.

            The biggest mistake is assuming that materialism or naturalism are 'defaults' - neither actually has feet on the ground and cannot be default positions.

            If you're going to insist on an epistemological approach to God then you're gonna have to work out your epistemology first. That's where you're actually getting hung up - you don't know how you know anything. What is your basis for accepting the reality of the physical world? Once you work that out, we can figure out what you need to understand the stuff that doesn't fit in the neat box.
            "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

            "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
              Try it in reverse - how do you know the material world exists? Yeah, yeah, you slam your fist into the desk and it hurts - but that's just sensory input and senses can be mistaken. Physicists tell us that the solid we think we experience isn't actually solid at all - atoms have oodles of space between them and we only 'touch' the charges that surround the atoms - never the material itself. How 'physical' is the world, really?

              Decarte's "I think therefore I am' is really a surrender to the reality that we can't even prove our own existence - let alone the existence of anything else. The materialist errs in thinking that the physical world is provably, objectively real. It may be real - it may not - and there's no way to prove it.

              The biggest mistake is assuming that materialism or naturalism are 'defaults' - neither actually has feet on the ground and cannot be default positions.

              If you're going to insist on an epistemological approach to God then you're gonna have to work out your epistemology first. That's where you're actually getting hung up - you don't know how you know anything. What is your basis for accepting the reality of the physical world? Once you work that out, we can figure out what you need to understand the stuff that doesn't fit in the neat box.


              I guess your right, although I still think materialism seems more probable. It looks more like the mind is a function of a brain than that there are two substances - immaterial mind and material brain (why our minds get altered with a damage to our brain?) or that mind creates everything (why do we even need bodies if everything is just an illusion of mind? Or even why would mind create brain to control rest of the body?). Materialism seems simpler, other ideas are superfluous.

              On epistemology: I agree 100%. Could you recommend my any literature on epistemology?

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Wilkowsky View Post
                On the other hand it seems for me that materialism offers more accurate description of reality. That there are less problems with that model. Are you familiar with any good refutations of that ideology? Or any solid evidence? I mean like respected philosophers or people documenting phenomena like NDEs. And when I write good and solid I mean good methodology, people with credentials, stuff like that.
                Can you give me any evidence for a purely materialistic model that does not rely on the assumptions that materialism is "true?"
                Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Wilkowsky View Post
                  That makes sense. After all faith in The New Testament is pistis - trust. Or so I heard. I guess It'd be unfair for me to reject religion because I don't understand all the technical stuff and how all that works.

                  On the other hand it seems for me that materialism offers more accurate description of reality. That there are less problems with that model. Are you familiar with any good refutations of that ideology? Or any solid evidence? I mean like respected philosophers or people documenting phenomena like NDEs. And when I write good and solid I mean good methodology, people with credentials, stuff like that.
                  If you're interested in NDE's there are two books by Michael Sabom that might interest you:

                  Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation

                  and

                  Light and Death

                  The first one is from a medical perspective, while the latter one is more oriented towards discussing how NDEs should be viewed from a Christian perspective. I have a suspicion that you might get more out of the first book than the latter, but I'll leave the links for both books here just in case.

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                  • #24
                    I personally do not put much stock in NDE stories. Does not sound to me like the way God works.
                    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                      I personally do not put much stock in NDE stories. Does not sound to me like the way God works.


                      If you're talking about people almost dying and seeing stuff like heaven, dead relatives and/or beings of light that they identify with God/Jesus then I am skeptical that these experiences are from God as well. However, the main point of NDE's as I see it lies not in those experiences, but in the out-of-body experiences, where people have reportedly been able to witness things that happened around them, or even at places at a significant distance away from them while their brain was practically non-functional. These experiences are interesting, because if they're true it would lend support to the idea that we are more than simply our bodies, but that there is an immaterial part (the soul) that survives the death of our body.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Wilkowsky View Post


                        I guess your right, although I still think materialism seems more probable. It looks more like the mind is a function of a brain than that there are two substances - immaterial mind and material brain (why our minds get altered with a damage to our brain?) or that mind creates everything (why do we even need bodies if everything is just an illusion of mind? Or even why would mind create brain to control rest of the body?). Materialism seems simpler, other ideas are superfluous.

                        On epistemology: I agree 100%. Could you recommend my any literature on epistemology?

                        1) Materialism's 'strength' is that we experience the world as material (barring weird neurological issues), that's true - but it can just a easily be illusory. We presume minds create fantasy around things it knows and understands - dragons being a mere compilation of birds and lizards - with a flame thrower tossed in. But the only evidence for it is secondary - basically, eye witness reports of what others fantasize (a good researcher doesn't use himself as a subject - and even if you allow it, there's a major issue with confirmation bias there) - which doesn't tell us a lot if we haven't proven the existence of the material world ('others' can just as easily be fantasy).We end up with Descartes merely making the assumption in order to get out of the rabbit hole. It's just assumption and has no greater claim to truth than any other unproven assumption. We can't answer the 'why' question until we have some clue about the 'what'.

                        2) Give me a couple days on this - I'll ask some folks more knowledgeable than I am.
                        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

                        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

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                        • #27
                          Forgive me for breaking this up. I don't know how you feel about such things, but I find it the only way to address specific points.


                          Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                          The "deconversion stories" I've read have generally not had much of a reasonable or rational basis; I find that atheists tend to like the idea of using reason but aren't very good at actually doing so.
                          I find this true of people. I've heard a lot of conversion stories that are just as unreasonable as deconversion stories. I have heard some deconversion stories that are the result of years of study and investigation, but many of those people seldom share unless asked directly and even then it can be kept pretty private. I'm sure there are conversion stories that are the same way. Holding up any group as a bastion of reason is...unreasonable.


                          Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                          Reason says that people do not rise from the dead. On the other hand, reason says that people do not submit to a tortuous death in defense of something they know to be a lie. Furthermore, if we were created from the dust of the earth, then raising someone from the dead is comparatively simple. As far as I'm concerned, reason and a belief in the supernatural are entirely compatible.
                          Reason also says that there are more options than the single one provided of knowing it's a lie. There are all sorts of levels to believing something falsely, aware or unaware. It's not as if people never betray things they believe to be true, either. "They wouldn't have done that if..." can only get you so far without knowing the actual motivations involved.
                          Last edited by Carrikature; 04-29-2014, 09:07 AM.
                          I'm not here anymore.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                            Decarte's "I think therefore I am' is really a surrender to the reality that we can't even prove our own existence - let alone the existence of anything else. The materialist errs in thinking that the physical world is provably, objectively real. It may be real - it may not - and there's no way to prove it.
                            Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                            We end up with Descartes merely making the assumption in order to get out of the rabbit hole. It's just assumption and has no greater claim to truth than any other unproven assumption. We can't answer the 'why' question until we have some clue about the 'what'.
                            I think you need to reread Descartes and what he did or didn't conclude. Descartes doesn't "surrender to the reality that we can't even prove our own existence". He defeats that quite conclusively. He does struggle with verifying the existence of other things, but conveniently plugs that hole with God. God as the guarantor of true knowledge is the assumption to get out of the rabbit hole. I'd agree that the assumption has no greater claim to truth, but I don't think that helps your case...
                            I'm not here anymore.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post


                              If you're talking about people almost dying and seeing stuff like heaven, dead relatives and/or beings of light that they identify with God/Jesus then I am skeptical that these experiences are from God as well. However, the main point of NDE's as I see it lies not in those experiences, but in the out-of-body experiences, where people have reportedly been able to witness things that happened around them, or even at places at a significant distance away from them while their brain was practically non-functional. These experiences are interesting, because if they're true it would lend support to the idea that we are more than simply our bodies, but that there is an immaterial part (the soul) that survives the death of our body.
                              I think we've gone around this before, but it's just as much (or more?) evidence for faults in our ability to measure such things as brain functions as it is evidence for some immaterial soul. It's a great indicator for lack of knowledge, but as an argument for either side it doesn't hold much weight.
                              I'm not here anymore.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                                I think we've gone around this before, but it's just as much (or more?) evidence for faults in our ability to measure such things as brain functions as it is evidence for some immaterial soul. It's a great indicator for lack of knowledge, but as an argument for either side it doesn't hold much weight.
                                If it was just a question of being aware of your surroundings while you should have been unconscious I would agree with you that it could also be evidence for "faults in our ability to measure such things as brain functions", but when there are reports of people accurately describing what happened at places where they were not physically at place, while in an NDE state, I find that hard to swallow.

                                Of course, this all presumes that these reports are reliable and I'm not really in a position to make a judgement either way.

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