I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

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I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  Guest on Fri 08 Jan 2010, 9:48 pm

So what are some of your views on religion.

Personally, I'm one of those who believe in a higher power, it may be God, may not be. I'm pretty unsure about it, and I do not claim any religion really.

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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  sidewinder420 on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 12:12 am

Well, I'm not a Godly person so I don't settle in that area of a controlled religion.. However, when I was younger I had, but then faded onto other practices such as Wicca for a period of time. Did this until I just lost sight of it and found that i did not know what the Hell I believed in..

But... Then I read a book called "The Secret" By Rhonda Byrne... That is what I live by now- "The Law Of Attraction" If you think and feel positive, you will manifest and attract positive.

NOW, what do I feel the "Controlled" religion is meant for. It's for people who have nothing else to believe in.. IMO, the Holy Bible is our great American Novel-a true work of fiction and non fiction tied together... Example, I believe there was a Jesus, but I don't believe he was the son of any God. You put him on the street in today's age, he'd be locked up.. BUT, if you were to put our average wino from today who claims to be Jesus and send him back then, Guess who would be considered our Holy Saver.

I think people need something to believe in back then.. So a story was made up for a sense of security, to answer questions that could not be answerd back then..(How was the earth made???) as well as a way to control it's people, much like our Government does now..lol
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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  josephchoi on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 2:22 am

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. -Seneca the Younger
I think religion to be false, and the belief in god to be irrational and not based on any reason. There are no evidence of the existence of a deity nor are there any need to posit the existence of such a being. For clarity's sakes, I define the deity, or god in the personal sense. A sentient being with a mind which is attributed certain characteristics- omnipotence, or all-powerful, omniscience, or all-knowing, and omnibenevolence, or all-good.

Is it possible that such a god exists? Well, of course. But possibility does not equal actuality. Do I have proof that god does NOT exist? Well, no. You can't prove a negative. For example, you can't prove there are no fairies in your garden, or to use Bertrand Russel's example- you can't prove there's not a teapot floating out there somewhere in space. Do we, however, thus accept that because we can't prove things don't exist, they DO? Of course not. That would make no sense. Hence, the burden of proof comes in. It's up to those who assert that such things exist to provide the requisite critically robust, substantive evidence that support the notion of its existence.


Over the history, several arguments had been put forth for the existence of god, all with various unsupported notions or outright fallacies. I will challenge what I consider to be one of the more widely used, the kalam cosmological argument.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Deriving from medieval Islamic philosophic discourse based on "Sufficient Reason", this argument still exists to this day, and is touted by many, most notably popular theologian and Christian apologist William Lane Craig. The argument is as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

According to William Lane Craig (or WLC as I will abbreviate his name for convenience's sakes), the first premise is uncontroversial. According to him, it is "intuitively obvious," based on the metaphysical intuition of the impossibility of creation ex nihilio. In other words, From nothing, nothing comes. Additionally, he claims it is affirmed by interaction with the physical world. If it were false, he states, it would be impossible to explain why things do not pop into existence uncaused.

Thus, he follows from this point, this leaves the universe itself. He would concede, is that the first premise would not apply to something that had not begun to exist. But, according to WLC, the universe in fact
did begin to exist- 14 billion years ago. Also, he cites several philosophical arguments against the very nature of something not beginning to exist, and hence [i]must've begun to exist. This argument is established by the following syllogism:
1. An actually infinite number of things cannot exist.
2. A beginningless series of events in time entails an actually infinite number of things.
3. Therefore, a beginningless series of events in time cannot exist.

One way that Craig supports the first premise is by referring to Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel, a thought experiment that shows how paradoxes and absurdities would result from an infinite number of existing things. Next, after taking the second premise to be self-explanatory, he states that the universe is undistinct from a "series of events." Thus, the conclusion can be read as "a beginningless universe in time cannot exist," which is equivalent to, "The universe began to exist." He also cites the Big Bang, which had occurred approximately 14 billion years ago, as the evidence that the universe in fact began to exist.

With Kalām's conclusion logically following from its premises, Craig concludes by arguing that impersonal, scientific causation exterior to the universe could not cause a finite universe. He gives the example of the temperature being below zero infinitely, and thus any water, although caused to be frozen by the subzero temperature, could not begin to freeze; it would be frozen infinitely. Similarly, any condition that could cause the universe to exist would have to be infinitely, and thus the universe would also exist infinitely. The solution, Craig posits, is that the cause of the universe's beginning to exist must be a personal agent. Craig has extended this argument to conclude that the cause must also be uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, and enormously intelligent.

Problems with The Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Immediately with the first premise we see that despite the fact that WLC attempts to gloss over this obvious problem in his premise. Firstly, to claim that whatever begins to exist has a cause is committing an equivocation fallacy. He has equivocated "causation" as is actually used, ie the rearrangement of atoms to form an "entity" with the actual creation ex nihilio, or creation out of nothing. We see atoms and energy change form all the time, but no creation events. In other words, the form matter or energy takes may have a cause, but the material constituents have not been established to have ever "begun existing". Also, even conceding his point that all things "begin to exist" does not lend credibility to the notion that they have "causes". In quantum mechanics, for example, we have examples of uncaused existence, namely the quantum fluctuation. Explained through the Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty (which states the closer we get to the quantum level, the less "sure" we will be), virtual particles literally pop in and out of existence uncaused. Also, even assuming the premise to be true, ALL our understanding of "causation" are wholly natural processes which does not require the intervention of the "supreme creator". Thus, even if we were to hypothetically consider the argument valid and the universe to have been caused, there is nothing to suggest the cause to be anything other than a natural one.

Problem with the concept of infinity:
His argument against the actual infinity falls flat since not ONLY is it the achilles heel of the argument itself if it were to be true, it fails to demonstrate his point. For Hilbert's hotel, he has not demonstrated, for example, that it is absurd, and thus fallacious, rather it is an odd occurrence which, while being strange, is not incoherent. Also, to claim the paradox of infinity is to use infinity not as a concept, which it is, but a number, which it is not. Treating infinity as a number will get wrong results.

Finally, his concept of time (which is his contention against infinity) is irrelevant since he fails to take into account the nature of time itself. Time is not a "river". It is best understood in physics as a spatial dimension, part of the universe itself. Hence, it does not NEED a beginning. Also, isn't it absurd to say, as is the logical corollary of the argument, that there was time before time began to exist? Now THAT is an absurd concept.

Second Premise:
It has not been established that the universe actually began. What Big Bang theory actualy states is that it is the expansion of space and time from a singular point, whether it be from Brane collision as physicists Neil Turok and Paul Steinhardt postulates or from the aforementione quantum fluctuation (according to Victor Stenger, the universe could have been kickstarted from this "spark". Because the universe has zero net energy, and at its "pre-big-bang state" it is at its highest state of entropy, all it needed was that "kick"), the actual cause of the big bang is unknown, nor is there any indication there IS a cause, except perhaps in the sense that something caused a change in form. There's no evidence nor rational basis to posit there was ever a "nothing".

Problems with the Conclusion: The Final Kicker
This is the crux of cruxes in his argument-
WLC states that following the argument, the cause of the universe must be itself "uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, and enormously intelligent." This "entity" effectively by its own definition CANNOT be the cause of the universe. Not only does his previous point contradict his previous point of the impossibility of beginninglessness, by definition of "timeless" make it impossible for this entity to be cause, since cause itself REQUIRES TIME.

So where does this leave god?

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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  josephchoi on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 2:29 am

Is the story of nativity found in the bible true? It is often held to be the testament- or evidence that Jeus was the son of god as foretold in the prophesies. It is the oft-told story, where Jesus was purportedly born from a virgin Mary in Bethlehem... This is, according to the christian theology, this was a fulfillment of the Jewish prophesy of the coming Messiah.

But there are problems:

1. The Prophesy:

Both Matthew and Luke stated that Jesus' conception was not a commonplace one. In these gospels Mary was a virgin who became pregnant, not through sexual intercourse, but through the "power of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:34-35). The gospel of Matthew explicitly mentioned that this virgin pregnancy took place in fulfillment of the scriptures:

Matthew 1:22-23
And this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin is with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-which means 'God is with us'".

Matthew is quoting the book of Isaiah (7:14) from the Septuagint, which is the Greek Bible (which, due to the then-dying language of Hebrew, was more widespread). The word for virgin is rendered in the Greek Bible as parthenos. This word carries the explicit meaning of virgin. However, if we are to look at the Bible in its original Hebrew, from the massoretic text, the word used there is almah. Now the nearest English translation for almah is a young woman and does not carry with it any strong connotation of virginity.

2. Herod's Massacre

The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of mass infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great, that appears in the Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18. The author, traditionally believed to be Matthew the Evangelist, reports that King Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. Like much of Matthew's gospel, the incident is introduced as the fulfillment of passages in the Old Testament read as prophecies:

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children.

The infants, known in the Church as the Holy Innocents, have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. Traditional accounts number them at more than ten thousand, though more conservative estimates put their number in the low dozens.

The incident is not mentioned by the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus, nor in the other gospels, nor in the early Biblical apocrypha, its first appearance in any source other than Matthew being the 2nd century apocryphal Gospel of James 22. Most recent biographers of Herod therefore do not regard the massacre as an actual historical event, but rather, like the other nativity stories, as creative hagiography.

3. The contradiction between the Gospel of Matthew

A critical reading of the Gospels, particularly Luke and Matthew (which are the only gospels to get into Jesus's birth) should show another problem of trying to date Jesus' birth. If Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, as Matthew describes, then it must before or around 4 BCE since Herod Antipas, as he was also know, had died that year. If he was born during the Roman census, then it must have been in 6 CE. There is a discrepancy of about 10 years.

Christianity has a major problem in that the nativity narrative in Luke is impossible to reconcile with the one in Matthew. This is not just because the two don't overlap on any detail and are clearly telling two different and contradictory stories but also because they are mutually exclusive: Matthew's is set during the reign of Herod the Great (ie before his death in 4 BC) and the other is set during the census of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (6-7 AD). So they can't be talking about the same period since they are 10-11 years apart.

Some Christian Apologists have to find a way to make this discrepancy in dates disappear, by asserting Quirinius was governor of Syria twice, once in 6 CE and once earlier, during the reign of Herod the Great. This suggestion (apart from the obvious need to save the faith of the theologians) is based on a fragmentary inscription found in Antioch which supposedly referred to Quirinius as the governor of Syria at an earlier date than 6 CE. However, this is contrived, unconvincing and riddled with insurmountable problems.

The "inscription found in Antioch" mentioned above seems to be a garbled memory of what are actually two inscriptions from Pisidian Antioch. There were several cities called "Antioch" in the eastern Mediterranean, so the Christian's first mistake seems to be that they think this is the Antioch that was in Roman Syria. It isn't. Pisidian Antioch was actually far to the north in what is now Turkey and was on the border of the Roman privinces of Lycia-Pamphylia and Galatia. That makes it far away from even the northernmost edge of the province of Syria.

This is significant because of what the inscriptions actually say. They are both inscriptions from the base of statues of a certain Gaius Caristanius Sergius, commemorating his status as deputy to Publius Sulpicius Quirinius who was the ruler of the city as "duumvir". The inscriptions give no dates, but for complex reasons that I won't go into here they are thought to date to around 11-1 BC. This seems to be when Quirinius was in the region fighting a small war against the Homanadenean bandits of Galatia, which would explain why he had deputised his duumvirate power to Caristanius.

To leap from these unremarkable inscriptions to saying "(Quirinius) was governor (of Syria) twice--once in 7 B.C. and the other time in 6 A.D." is total nonsense. How can an inscription that shows that Quirinius was duumvir outside of Syria and far to the north in Galatia be evidence that he was governor of Syria? How could he be governor of Syria, duumvir in Galatia and fighting a war on the other side of the Taurus Mountains in what is now Turkey all at the same time? And how does this all work when we know from other sources that the governor of Syria at the time was Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus anyway?

The whole thing is a fantasy in which they take inscriptions that show Quirinius was holding another office in another province and - with a wave of their magic wands - transform it into an governorship of Syria. Despite the fact Syria already had a governor - Saturninus - at the time. This is of course a lie.

Even if we were to suppose nonsense was true, for argument's sakes (which it clearly isn't), the whole idea that Quirinius would have been administering a census in Judea during the reign of Herod the Great is ALSO garbage. Herod was a client king of Rome, which meant that he got to rule his territory (including Judea) directly on the proviso that he kept the peace and paid the Romans a massive cut of his tax revenues. The administration and collection of those taxes was his business. The Romans rather liked this kind of arrangement, because it mean one less bit of territory that it had to garrison and one less administrative headache. They just made sure Herod paid them their taxes and let him worry about the rest.

But the whole point of a Roman census was taxation: it was administered purely to find out who lived where and how much tax they owed. So why would Quirinius, or any governor of Syria, be going to the trouble to institute a tax census in a territory that they didn't tax? The whole thing makes no sense.

What happened in 6 AD was Herod's son and heir to the rule of Judea, Herod Archelaus, was deposed and the Romans imposed direct control of Judea for the first time. This meant they had to tax Judea for the first time as well and so they had to administer a tax census for the first time.

Now Cyrenius (ie Quirinius), a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money
(Josephus, Antiquities XVIII.1.1)

Josephus goes on to describe how outrage at this first such census and taxation sparked a rebellion:

But the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-pesuaded by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it. Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty.
(Josephus, Antiquities XVIII.1-2)

So this first census was a memorable business. And this fits with what the gospel of Luke says as well:

This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
(Luke 2:2)

Of course, the Christian Apologists who have created a fictional earlier governorship for Quirinius like to interpret that not as "this was the first census of Judea" but as "this was the first of two censuses held by Quirinius and this one was while Herod the Great was alive, thus making the contradiction between Matthew and Luke's accounts disappear".

3. Herod's Massacre

The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of mass infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great, that appears in the Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18. The author, traditionally believed to be Matthew the Evangelist, reports that King Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. Like much of Matthew's gospel, the incident is introduced as the fulfillment of passages in the Old Testament read as prophecies:

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children.

The infants, known in the Church as the Holy Innocents, have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. Traditional accounts number them at more than ten thousand, though more conservative estimates put their number in the low dozens.

The incident is not mentioned by the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus, nor in the other gospels, nor in the early Biblical apocrypha, its first appearance in any source other than Matthew being the 2nd century apocryphal Gospel of James 22. Most recent biographers of Herod therefore do not regard the massacre as an actual historical event, but rather, like the other nativity stories, as creative hagiography.

4.So why the stories?

Following the critical analysis of the Gospels and the corresponding historical records of events, the question arises- why did the Gospel writers invent stories of the virgin birth and of the introduction of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem? Could this tradition of the birth in Bethlehem be based on historical fact? It is not impossible, of course, that the tradition could have been grounded on historical fact. But I think it unlikely. For one thing it obviously reached both evangelist in different or indefinite forms, had it been historical one would expect more "meat" in the story. Secondly the birth in Bethlehem supposedly fulfilled an Old Testament passage. This is explicitly stated in Matthew:

Matthew 2:4-5
When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet...

Matthew was quoting from Micah 5:2. What is wrong with this? Let us listen to what theologians Don Cuppitt and Peter Armstrong said in their book, Who Was Jesus?:

So our first principle of historical criticism must be: be wary of any details in the gospels which have close parallels in the Old Testament.

The reasoning is simple. The early Christians, not having access to information about the early life of Jesus and not knowing where he was born, searched, or rather ransacked, the Old Testament to look for references to Jesus. And having found the verse in Micah concluded that Jesus must have been born in Bethlehem. In essence, the birth in Bethlehem fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy.

5. Does this mean Jesus was a myth?

Ironically, this is perhaps one of the stronger arguments in favor of the existence of a historical Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. How? If Jesus was a mythical character (as mockumentaries- I call them mockumentaries because they're completely and utterly vacuous as intellectual sources), why would the Gospel writers invent such convoluted and contradicting accounts to put Jesus' birthplace at Bethlehem? It's because he most likely wasn't. And, in order to support the notion that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, they invented it. What this DOES suggest, however, is that Jesus was in no way the "son of god" or the Messiah that he is claimed to be.

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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  Joe Kerr on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 2:53 am

Killjoy.



tongue

*edit* Choi, HOW LONG DID THAT FUCKING TAKE?! Laughing It's too bad you're wrong. tongue




(only joking, as you know, Joseph... The truth is nobody knows.)

I belong to the church of the sub-genius.
http://www.subgenius.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_SubGenius





Last edited by Joe Kerr on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 3:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  ED_ofthe_DEAD on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 2:53 am

i believe in a higher power. do I go to church? no, nor do I consider myself religious. I am more or less a spiritual person. I dont tell others how to live or what to believe because who am I to deny others their rights? Live and let live, as far as im concerned as long as everyones happy thats what matters most.
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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  josephchoi on Sat 09 Jan 2010, 6:12 pm

Joe Kerr wrote:(snip)*edit* Choi, HOW LONG DID THAT FUCKING TAKE?! Laughing It's too bad you're wrong. tongue
About an hour?
Joe Kerr wrote:(only joking, as you know, Joseph... The truth is nobody knows.)
But of course nobody can really know for sure. My point is that given the lack of evidence, I see no reason to follow any religion or believe in any deity.

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Re: I'll break the ice here. Let's talk religion.

Post  marcjoner16 on Wed 20 Jan 2010, 10:47 pm

im a christian but there are lots of things that i dont believe in the bible, like adam and eve, i believe jesus died for me but thats about it...
marcus
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