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Sunday, June 11, 2006

This Religious Stuff

"You guys believe this religious stuff for one simple reason: almost all of you were brainwashed washing into it when you were little kids. You can get a little kid to believe in Santa, to be a neo nazi, a racist, etc. You didn't choose your religion based on an indepth comparison of information, making rationale choices about which was best. A good example of this is that for most of you, your faith is the most important thing in your life, but have really investigated this faith, it's origins, it's history? If so, how did it compare to your analysis of other religions? After all, if your faith is so important, certainly you investigated at least all the major faiths of the world, didn't you? Oh, I forgot, you didn't do any of this, you were simply brainwashed when you were kids, and you are desperately clinging to your beliefs in invisible lords and angels, like a kid who doesn't want to stop believing in Santa. Look, I am not a liberal who hates the religious right. I am a conservative on most issues. I am with you guys on all issues except for faith. If you take a step back and really, really think about it, your beliefs are irrational, created in a time of such profound ignorance that our society simply doesn't understand."

The above was a comment made in one of the creation-evolution posts. I thought I should address it in the form of a post and here we go:

Indoctrination

The commenter suggests that almost all Christians were indoctrinated into the faith, brainwashed to believe in something we have never rationally considered.

Barna research (no longer available online, sorry) indicates only about 10% of believing Christians convert to Christianity as adults, while about one-third make that decision between the ages of 13 and 19 years of age. By that measure, better than half of all Christians consider themselves Christians as children. So it is fair to say that a majority of Christians could possibly have accepted the reality of Christ as children. But it is also fair to point to a large minority of people who make the decision as teens and adults. Beyond this, suggesting that the children were all indoctrinated is a baseless charge. If parenting is "indoctrination" or "brainwashing", then we parents aren't real good at it, unless large numbers of us have taught our kids to steal and cheat and even kill. Check out the prisons. Parents try to teach and guide but everyone has a free will and few parents actually use brainwashing techniques as part of parenting.

Few adults can be found who believe in Santa. We get older, we understand that parents were just telling us this story (based on a true story, actually) to make Christmas more fun for us as kids. Most people will evaluate and reevaluate their belief systems as they grow older, won't they?

Blanket statements are so often wrong and in my case, completely wrong. I have commented on my faith several times, Balance for example. I ended that post saying this:

"I'll end this. My father passed away, far too young, and for years it was hard for me to think of him because I missed him. Even when we were apart I had the knowledge that he existed in the world and would be there if I called. I trusted he would always be for me and would do what I could were I in need. This, and more, is the way I feel about God even though I cannot hug him or call him on the phone. It is not because I am stupid and don't know better. It is not because I am weak and need a crutch to hobble my way through life. It is because I wanted to know truth, sought it even in the midst of my wastrel existence, craved it because I could not conceive that life was truly meaningless. Yet I was not willing to make up a solution that appealed to my intellect or accept the solutions of others. I wanted Truth, the thing that would resonate within me as being the Answer and when it was there in front of me I could not help but choose to believe and follow. Then I had a touchstone in my life. Then I could begin to seek balance. I do hope for all of you that you do find your Truth and your balance as you make your way through this life."

In fact, I looked into Buddhism and Islam and assorted other eastern and mystery religions. I dabbled in Satan worship, well, more than dabbled. I read the Boo-Hoo Bible and sought enlightenment via LSD. I chanted. I read Dianetics by L Ron Hubbard. I considered Nietzsche and read everything I could get by Ayn Rand. I looked long and hard for something called Truth. I resisted the idea that Jesus Christ and that whole Bible thing could be the answer.

I Avoided Christianity

Like many of others, I had attended a few church services when invited by friends - Catholic and Greek Orthodox services were somewhat confusing and methodical. Old-line churches seemed devoid of any spiritual content. A newer church I attended once as a child seemed primarily focused on draining the congregation of their money. TV and radio preachers were apparently some combination of huckster and buffoon.

Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die

In time, having scrupulously investigated all sorts of religions and finding them wanting, I fell back to man's default setting: self-gratification. It was a form of surrender, for I had given up and began to consider myself an agnostic. Yet it ate at me, for something in me didn't want to surrender. There was a still, small voice prompting me to begin the search again. I was never entirely happy simply living out my life with no real foundation or purpose beyond my self and my family. Something was missing.

Three part man

Part of the problem was, I believe, that we are created in God's image. We are the creative ones, the ones who can think in abstract, the builders, the artists, the poets, the creatures unlike all other living things. We are part body, soul and spirit. The spirit part of me was continually dissastisfied until the time came that I looked into Jesus again, putting aside my preconceptions, and found Him to be exactly as He said in John 14:6 - “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

The difference

You see, there is a basic difference between Christianity and all other religions. In short, it is the difference between "do" and "done." All other religions require followers to do something, whether acts of worship and penance or adherence to rules, whether avoidance of sins or conformance to certain appearances, even the gathering of knowledge or a growing enlightenment. Everything hinges on what you do.

Christianity is about what is done. Jesus lived a sinless life and suffered a sinner's death. He went about continually doing good and yet all the sins of the world were placed upon Him at the cross, sins past, present and future - the sins of, among others, you and me. He was God yet was willing to take the form of man, live the life of a man and endure the death and scorn and suffering for the sake of everyone other than Himself. That is courage, and that is love, and that is what He did. He has then offered His sacrifice to us, a gift, that if received comes with salvation and an eternal existence with God. I didn't have to do anything to receive it, just simply believe and accept.

Sure, there are all sorts of lifestyle decisions Christians usually make. Most Christians at least try to live a life pleasing to God. How that is lived out can vary wildly from Christian to Christian. Billy Graham's lifestyle would be far different from that of Moby. But they both claim to belong to Christ.

Not a magic wand

If you receive Christ, you will be changed on the inside, spiritually. You will then tend to find that what is inside will begin to come out, especially if you consciously cooperate with that process. But becoming a Christian doesn't stop you from being able to commit sinful acts or have sinful thoughts. Life is still an adventure and a journey and I always have bad and good choices to consider every day of my life. At the end, though, I know my God will be waiting there to welcome me into His presence. It is kind of like a Leonard Cohen song:

"Hallelujah"

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah


Check out Mark's take on Free Will here.

Also Backtracked on Samantha Burns;
Angel;
Linkfest Haven;
7 Deadly Sins

Then you can go to Neural Gourmet to take the Religion and Politics in American Life Survey
tng | 2006-06-09 17:06
- Courtesy of Stingray, thanks!

41 comments:

Todd M said...

Your explanation of the difference between "do" and "done" is excellent! Thanks!

tim or radar said...

I'll say the same thing here as I did on my blog.

Before my wife and I were Christians, we were told that she could not have children. Why? Because we tried for 3 years and nothing happened, so we got her and myself checked out, and it turns out her uterus was too high, and shaped so that no child could ever survive in there after the first trimester. She got pregnant, and she had a miscarriage, sure enough. We became Christians, (not just like that, but I'm making this a short story) and were counseled to pray. We prayed every night together. We went to Canada, and the Canadians said the same thing, that we'll never carry a child full term. She got pregnant, and Donal Ethan High is asleep in his crib. All of the doctors in St. John Hospital involved said they have no idea how she carried him full term, and what is more, why her uterus appears to be able to carry children now. If any atheist has a better explanation other than a "fluke", I'm all ears. But until someone erases my memory, I know it was God. I have documentation from doctors in two different countries telling me she shouldn't have had children, and have no idea how she gave birth, or why she appears to be able to continue to give birth, and yet here is my son. You want logic? You can trust results. I have a big one.

oriolebird38 said...

Going to a Catholic high school, we students have to do a religious retreat every year at some center down the road. And generally, they're pretty hokey. The teacher who runs them will tell the same stories and give the same inspirational thoughts each year with little effect, play some off the wall song clips by Hoobastank or Green Day, mix in a video clip, and it's usually not anything life shaping. However, I'll never forget something he mentioned my sophomore year about how one can or can't prove God or Jesus' divinity.

Jesus died on the cross, that is historical fact. His body was missing after 3 days, also fact. But a lot of skeptics would say that it's a hoax cooked up by the Apostles for credibility. But also known is that many of the Apostles died horrible deaths at the hand of persecuting Romans. Deaths which could've been avoided simply by denying the resurrection of Christ. Do you mean to tell me that they would put themselves through that all for a lie? I think not.

Michael McCullough said...

Excellent post! It would surprise many non-Christians to know the percentage of Christians who took a period -- short or long -- to examine their faith to see whether it was true.

I went down the same path you did from about age 19 to 21 (though I stayed away from the occult for reaons too long to explain here) and came to the conclusion that Jesus was who he said he was.

Since then, I've seen people healed, lives completely turned around, and demons cast out (yes, demons are very real). I have degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering and am not a gullible or dumb person. However, I see Christ working in the lives of people every day. That's the beauty of the Gospel -- you can actually see its results.

Amy Proctor said...

What a sad quote. To discard the most profound truths in the universe because one finds them too elementary is a sad shame indeed. Not for us Christians, but for those bitter and cynical doubters who are willing to risk their own souls for what they perceive is a more "grown up" theology of nothingness. How empty.

But not to worry for the Christians. Since the beginning there have been scoffers who try to minimize the overwhelming success of Christianity throughout the centuries by claiming we're ignorant, uninformed, stupid and childlike. Unappealing to man, perhaps, but "childlikeness" is exactly what God requires of us: to embrace him wholeheartedly with exhuberant joy.

Doubter, you may not see yourself this way now, but eventually you will become like the heathen of Noah's day, scoffing and mocking at first, then banging on the door of the ark to get it. I just hope for you it then won't be too late and the doors are not shut for good.

xiangtao said...

"Do you mean to tell me that they would put themselves through that all for a lie? I think not."

I have seen this same argument made by many on behalf of plenty of religious quacks. Does that make David Koresh credible as the return of Christ? Did Joseph Smith really retrieve golden plates from the angel Moroni that told of Jesus coming to the Americas shortly after his resurrection? Did Azrael Ondi Ahman have a talk with God (both male and female parts) on a mountaintop which inspired him to write a new Bible?

All these people and plenty more have cited their willingness to endure persecution for their claims as evidence of their veracity. Do you believe all of them as well?

Anonymous said...

"hat told of Jesus coming to the Americas shortly after his resurrection?"

Probably as an illegal immigrant, too . . .

Anyway, I love that song. Granted, I'm partial to the John Cale version, which has ah, rather different lyrics, but still, they're both amazing.

Incidentally, Michael - what do you make of the various loas: Shango, Papa Legba, Erzulie, Baron Samedi, etc? (And the various other versions/variations/counterparts, all the way back to West Africa?) Actual but malignant spirits - demons - seeking to lead people astray? Pious frauds by folks pretending to be possessed? The results of neurological processes resulting in an altered state of consciousness in susceptible people practicing various kinds of ritual technologies with a set of mental 'templates' built up out of cultural beliefs?

(Interestingly, when you have anthropologists apprenticing themselves in various shamanic/possession traditions, a lot of times they'll definitely experience something - weird trancy stuff - but not do it right, by traditonal standards; they'll move wrong, have visions that don't make sense within the tradition, etc.)

-Dan S.

chaos_engineer said...

If any atheist has a better explanation other than a "fluke", I'm all ears.

I've never really understood this sort of religion. It's always struck me as arrogant and cruel.

If your wife's sort of recovery were commonplace, then the doctors could have forseen it as a possiblity. So we're talking about something that happens extremely rarely.

But that being the case, what can you say to the countless millions of people who had the same problem, who prayed just as hard and just as sincerely, and had their hopes dashed? "If you had converted to my brand of Christianity, then maybe God would have answered your prayers, too."

I just can't buy into the idea that God heals "deserving" people and withholds healing from the "undeserving". It doesn't match the world I see around me.

Better to go with the "fluke" explanation. Maybe the doctors made a bad diagnosis? Maybe that medical condition can spontaneously fix itself in rare situations, currently unknown to modern science? Maybe God maketh rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike?

Just out of curiosity...suppose your prayer hadn't been answered after you'd been practicing Christianity for three years. Would you have kept at it, or given up and tried something else?

highboy said...

"I just can't buy into the idea that God heals "deserving" people and withholds healing from the "undeserving". It doesn't match the world I see around me."

A pointless statement since no one said I derved the blessing I got. There are other reasons God might have for NOT granting someone that desired wish other than "they didn't deserve it." You'll have to do better than that.

" Maybe the doctors made a bad diagnosis"

Both countries?

"Maybe that medical condition can spontaneously fix itself in rare situations, currently unknown to modern science?"

Which is the same as believing in a miracle.

"Maybe God maketh rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike?"

Yes, He does. What is the relevance?

"Just out of curiosity...suppose your prayer hadn't been answered after you'd been practicing Christianity for three years. Would you have kept at it, or given up and tried something else?"

First, you're assuming I became a Christian in order to "get" a baby. This means you didn't read my post very well. Second, there are plenty of other things I've continuously prayed for and have NOT recieved. Being a Christian isn't about getting anything (other than salvation of course) its about serving and trusting God with your life. You can say what you want, but as I posted above, doctors in two different countries told us there was no way she could carry children, and none of them could give us any explanation, and still can't. If the only argument an atheist can give me in response to this is "maybe this" and "maybe that" I'm afraid its no great inducement. Like I said, I'll go with results. You go ahead and wait for science to figure it out. Don't hold your breath.

highboy said...

"I just can't buy into the idea that God heals "deserving" people and withholds healing from the "undeserving". It doesn't match the world I see around me."

A pointless statement since no one said I derved the blessing I got. There are other reasons God might have for NOT granting someone that desired wish other than "they didn't deserve it." You'll have to do better than that.

" Maybe the doctors made a bad diagnosis"

Both countries?

"Maybe that medical condition can spontaneously fix itself in rare situations, currently unknown to modern science?"

Which is the same as believing in a miracle.

"Maybe God maketh rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike?"

Yes, He does. What is the relevance?

"Just out of curiosity...suppose your prayer hadn't been answered after you'd been practicing Christianity for three years. Would you have kept at it, or given up and tried something else?"

First, you're assuming I became a Christian in order to "get" a baby. This means you didn't read my post very well. Second, there are plenty of other things I've continuously prayed for and have NOT recieved. Being a Christian isn't about getting anything (other than salvation of course) its about serving and trusting God with your life. You can say what you want, but as I posted above, doctors in two different countries told us there was no way she could carry children, and none of them could give us any explanation, and still can't. If the only argument an atheist can give me in response to this is "maybe this" and "maybe that" I'm afraid its no great inducement. Like I said, I'll go with results. You go ahead and wait for science to figure it out. Don't hold your breath.

Jeffahn said...

The miracle that needs explaining is how I'm still sane after reading such delusion nuttery as presented above. I'd sooner believe in the honesty of policticians than religious advocates.

chaos_engineer said...

Highboy,

I'm sorry if I misunderstood you. Here are the sentences I was going off of:

"We became Christians [...] and were counseled to pray. [...]But until someone erases my memory, I know it was God.[...] You want logic? You can trust results."

I thought that was a chain of logic: That your prayer led to the results, and the results allow you to trust that God exists and was influenced by your specifically-Christian prayers.

But if I'm reading you right this time, you're saying that God doesn't favor you over anyone else, and that you would have gotten the miracle of your son's birth even if you hadn't converted to Christianity and prayed those specific prayers.

If that's what you're saying, then I agree with you.

Again, my apologies for the misunderstanding...

One other point, though. I said:

"Maybe that medical condition can spontaneously fix itself in rare situations, currently unknown to modern science?"

And then you said:

"Which is the same as believing in a miracle."

How so? Medicine isn't a finished science. We're learning new things every day.

It might be that something about your wife's recovery will lead to new tests or treatments that can someday be used to help other people.

Of course, that's assuming that there was a physical cause that scientific research can help us understand. If it was a bonafide miracle, then science can't reproduce it and there's no reason to waste time doing research.

(Or maybe the miracle is that God granted us the ability to do the research to find the physical cause? That's the best sort of miracle, because it benefits everybody.)

highboy said...

"The miracle that needs explaining is how I'm still sane after reading such delusion nuttery as presented above. I'd sooner believe in the honesty of policticians than religious advocates."

Good question Jeff, and I have an answer for you: You're not sane. Especially if that is your only argument.

"I thought that was a chain of logic: That your prayer led to the results, and the results allow you to trust that God exists and was influenced by your specifically-Christian prayers."

Well, the praying DID lead to God delivering results, but I believed and trusted Him before He delivered. Otherwise, why would I pray to Him? God IS influenced by my prayers as a Christian. What I was correcting was that I thought you were implying that I became a Christian to get these results, and that is not the case. I became a Christian to be forgiven and to serve Jesus. Period. Blessings from above are icing on the cake.

"But if I'm reading you right this time, you're saying that God doesn't favor you over anyone else, and that you would have gotten the miracle of your son's birth even if you hadn't converted to Christianity and prayed those specific prayers."

I have no way of knowing if God would have granted my request if I didn't believe in Him or not. I wouldn't have made a request to a God I didn't believe in.

"(Or maybe the miracle is that God granted us the ability to do the research to find the physical cause? That's the best sort of miracle, because it benefits everybody.)"

By all means, let the research be done. A miracle is a miracle.

And Jeff, you can scoff all you want, but I have a child that is not suppose to be alive, and is, and no medical expert can explain it. If you can, go ahead. Until then, I'll be doing the scoffing.

Anonymous said...

Video game and gambling machine designers could talk about partial reinforcement, " . . . a critical psychological ingredient . . . whereby the reinforcement is intermittent, i.e., people keep responding in the absence of reinforcement hoping that another reward is just around the corner"

But hey, whatever. HIghboy, it's great that it worked out for you two like this - and cool name y'all gave the little one . .
(Although given Biblical precedent, should you guys changeyour names?) : )

-Dan S.

highboy said...

"(Although given Biblical precedent, should you guys changeyour names?) : )"

What are you talking about?

Jeffahn said...

If I had to choose a religion it would definitely be Hari Krishna. Mainly because the words to the songs are so easy to remember. Plus you get to wear a dressing gown all day long.

oriolebird38 said...

"If I had to choose a religion it would definitely be Hari Krishna. Mainly because the words to the songs are so easy to remember. Plus you get to wear a dressing gown all day long."

Now that's what I call fun. Ave Maria, man I can never remember the words to that.

creeper said...

Hmm.

So why does any Christian anywhere ever have a miscarriage?

Not a true Scotsman, or what?

highboy said...

Creeper, I seriously hope you're kidding. A Christian can have a miscarriage for the same reasons a non-believer has a miscarriage. No one said Christians had it easy. God could have a million different reasons for allowing things like that to happen.

creeper said...

"I seriously hope you're kidding. A Christian can have a miscarriage for the same reasons a non-believer has a miscarriage."

Nope, I wasn't kidding, just trying to comprehend your logic. You appear to credit some link between your and your wife's praying and her being able to give birth against the odds. Do you think her giving birth wouldn't have been possible if you hadn't started praying etc.?

"No one said Christians had it easy. God could have a million different reasons for allowing things like that to happen."

Ah, the old "the Lord works in mysterious ways" dodge. Which yields exactly the same predictive power as a world without God. Funny, that.

highboy said...

"Do you think her giving birth wouldn't have been possible if you hadn't started praying etc.?"

Well, BEFORE I prayed, I was told my wife couldn't have kids. AFTER I prayed, now I'm told she can, and have one to prove it.

"Ah, the old "the Lord works in mysterious ways" dodge. Which yields exactly the same predictive power as a world without God. Funny, that."

I thought you were smarter than that but I guess not. Its not a dodge. You atheists seem to think that bad things happening in the world are evidence that a loving God doesn't exist. Why don't you try explaining that logic, since this concept has been adequatley explained to you many times. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. (Our choice, not just Adam and Eve's, unless you are going to claim to be perfect) The whole "God created evil" excuse doesn't wash. He gave us free choice. I see no evidence that I would have had children had I NOT prayed? Can you give me an example of an atheist couple who are diagnosed over and over again that the wife can't have children, and then ta-da! They have a baby and everything is normal. I'm afraid until you or your revered scientists come up with an explanation, you are screaming into a void. Once again, you can't argue with results.

chaos_engineer said...

I guess I'm still having trouble following the logic. There are two possible claims.

1 - God only grants healing to people for reasons we're incapable of comprehending. No matter how hard we look, we'll never see a pattern.

2 - God sometimes grants healing to people for reasons we are capable of comprehending...for example, He might grant healing to Christians more than non-Christians. The pattern might be subtle, but it will eventually become obvious to an unbiased observer.

If we accept Claim 1, then we can't use miraculous healing as proof that the Christian God exists. It could just as easily be some other God, or even a completely natural effect that we don't understand yet. (Of course we can believe in the Christian God for other reasons; we just can't claim that miraculous healing counts as proof.)

If we accept Claim 2, then we can use miraculous healing as proof that the Christian God exists. But we also have an obligation to make sure that the pattern of miraculous healing really exists.

(Obviously, if we claim there's a pattern when there isn't one, then we're exposing ourselves as False Prophets. In that case, no one will have any reason to believe anything we say about religion ever again.)

creeper said...

creeper: "Do you think her giving birth wouldn't have been possible if you hadn't started praying etc.?"

highboy: "Well, BEFORE I prayed, I was told my wife couldn't have kids. AFTER I prayed, now I'm told she can, and have one to prove it."


Okay, so you are supposing some kind of causal link. It's a whopper of a logical fallacy - more on that below.

creeper: "Ah, the old "the Lord works in mysterious ways" dodge. Which yields exactly the same predictive power as a world without God. Funny, that."

highboy: "I thought you were smarter than that but I guess not."


And you were the one lecturing cranky about how you're such a grown-up? Nice.

"Its not a dodge. You atheists seem to think that bad things happening in the world are evidence that a loving God doesn't exist."

Bad things happening to innocent people. Yes, I think that speaks against the idea of a loving, omnipotent, omniscient supernatural being.

"Why don't you try explaining that logic, since this concept has been adequatley explained to you many times."

Explained yes, adequately no.

"Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world."

And we live in a fallen world because bad things happen. And all this supposedly because of a decision two people made 6,000 years ago.

"(Our choice, not just Adam and Eve's, unless you are going to claim to be perfect)"

How can my imperfections and choices be partially to blame for the fallen world when the fallen world existed before I even got here? I didn't choose to live in a fallen world, I happened to be born into the world we see around us - a world in which good and bad things happen. People mess up, people hurt each other for selfish, short-sighted reasons - the mythology of the fallen world is an attempt to provide a satisfying narrative to explain this, but it's just as easily explained by human imperfection and a world in which no benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent deity exists.

"The whole "God created evil" excuse doesn't wash. He gave us free choice."

Whose excuse is that, exactly?

"I see no evidence that I would have had children had I NOT prayed?"

You're mucking around with two pretty obvious fallacies here: the post hoc fallacy and the argument from ignorance. Read up on them and think it over.

"Can you give me an example of an atheist couple who are diagnosed over and over again that the wife can't have children, and then ta-da! They have a baby and everything is normal."

Yes, my sister and her husband. Not that it matters, because both that and what happened to you and your wife constitute nothing more than utterly meaningless anecdotal evidence in this discussion. If we saw statistical evidence of consistently lower infant mortality rates among devout Christians as compared to atheists/agnostics/lackadaisical Christians/heathens/Jews/Muslims/pagans/wiccans/whathaveyou, then you could start to build an argument on that, but as it is you're simply imposing a causal connection without sufficient evidence.

"I'm afraid until you or your revered scientists come up with an explanation, you are screaming into a void. Once again, you can't argue with results."

What results are you talking about? Your anecdote? The doctors got it wrong, simple as that. It was unlikely that your wife would give birth, and she beat the odds. Fair play to her, to you and to your son. Does it prove that prayer or your religious beliefs made this possible? Not by a long shot - though of course it's understandable that it's tempting for you to jump to that conclusion.

And no, I don't "revere" scientists, though I do respect the scientific process for what it is. Your simplistic, superstitious approach doesn't have much to commend it.

(BTW, chaos_engineer: nice comment.)

highboy said...

"What results are you talking about? Your anecdote? The doctors got it wrong, simple as that."

Sure they did. So I'm to ignore the guys with the medical degrees, ALL OF THEM, and just believe your logic that "they're wrong." Got it. In other words, "No one can explain it but it just CAN'T be God." Nice argument.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"Sure they did. So I'm to ignore the guys with the medical degrees, ALL OF THEM, and just believe your logic that "they're wrong." Got it."

Evidently they did get it wrong. Have you asked these medical doctors what they think they got wrong in their diagnosis? How this birth was possible? Did they say such a birth was impossible, or did they say the odds were extremely small that a baby could survive?

Did your wife's uterus change shape or position before or during the pregnancy? Was the baby unusually small? What factors were going to make the baby's survival a challenge, and how specifically were those factors defeated?

In other words, "No one can explain it but it just CAN'T be God." Nice argument."

It may be a nice argument (actually I don't think it is), but it wasn't the argument I was making, highboy. I didn't say it can't be God, I'm saying the evidence doesn't point there from the very limited evidence you're presenting. I already pointed out to you which particular fallacies you've fallen victim to, and instead of examining your thinking, you just plow in deeper, now with a strawman to top it off.

highboy said...

"Have you asked these medical doctors what they think they got wrong in their diagnosis?"

Yes. They didn't get anything wrong. They have equipment that can take pictures so her uterus, and those pictures showed her uterus was too high (like I'd half to be hung like a horse, and there is no point in lying)and shaped BACKWARDS. The baby could not have survived. Period. The uterus is not something that just transforms in a matter of years.

"How this birth was possible?"

According to the DOCTORS it wasn't.

"Did they say such a birth was impossible,"

Yes.

Lets talk now about these "fallacies" I've supposedly fallen victim too.

1. Post hoc: Those examples are rather weird. The author seems to be suggesting that because someone who had a cold took medicine for it and it disappeared, that its illogical to think it was because of the medicine. Interesting.

2. Ignorance:

"Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true."

You do the exact same thing with science and evolution. Because no one has proven it false, it must be true.

"Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false."

You do this exact same thing regarding the existence of God. You have no proof He doesn't exist, but because there is no proof in your eyes that He does, you believe otherwise. Seems to me like you should re-examine your own thinking.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"Lets talk now about these "fallacies" I've supposedly fallen victim too."

You have actually fallen victim to them, not just supposedly - a fact you've simply evaded – and now you pile misrepresentations and evasions on top of them.

"1. Post hoc: Those examples are rather weird. The author seems to be suggesting that because someone who had a cold took medicine for it and it disappeared, that its illogical to think it was because of the medicine. Interesting."

Not such a weird example at all, though it's interesting how quickly your simplistic reasoning latches on to the first possible explanation and dismisses others without sufficient thought. Regarding the example you name, for instance, have you ever heard of the placebo effect?

Be that as it may, did you actually understand the post hoc fallacy or not?

"2. Ignorance:

"Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true.""


Do you or do you not understand how you fell victim to this fallacy?

"You do the exact same thing with science and evolution. Because no one has proven it false, it must be true."

You're still victim of the same fallacy, as well as for good measure now conflating two very different things here:

1. The fallacy of ignorance: the assumption that because something hasn’t been proven wrong it must be true (and vice versa). In simple terms, you’re jumping to conclusions.

2. The scientific process: a falsifiable hypothesis is proposed. If it’s actually falsified, it’s a goner. Either that, or it’s amended i.e. it's a goner, and a new falsifiable hypothesis is presented. If it’s not falsified, it is not proven true, but if consistently confirmed and never falsified, it is a scientific theory and the best possible explanation that is available. Rival hypotheses are subject to the same process, and over time the best explanations will come to the fore.

Given a process of free inquiry and competition in the market place of ideas, this is a very efficient way of testing scientific ideas. Surely if a YEC had found a way to irrevocably falsify evolution today, they would have done so. But no, it has to be some massive tinfoil hattish conspiracy that would put any JFK ramblings to shame.

That aside, highboy, can you understand the difference between the fallacy of ignorance and the scientific process?

"Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false."

"You do this exact same thing regarding the existence of God. You have no proof He doesn't exist, but because there is no proof in your eyes that He does, you believe otherwise. Seems to me like you should re-examine your own thinking."


Perhaps you misunderstand the fallacy. I don't regard the lack of proof for God's existence as proof of God's non-existence. It does, however, leave open the possibility of God's non-existence by a wide margin.

I can see how the Bible reflects human understanding and moral development over the course of history, and not just from the perspective of what you would dismissively perceive as that of some atheist who has simply chosen atheism for the purpose of being able to indulge in some kind of sinful behavior (and I'll leave aside for now that even though I'm not perfect, my life ain't really all that different from the Christians in close vicinity - I have no reason to opt for a different faith to lead the life I lead, I might just as well be a Christian).

No: this has in recent days been explained to me by reasonably high-placed people within the Christian community, theologians who have vastly different views regarding, say, Genesis, from that which Kimbal and others have presented here.

For that matter, I wonder what exactly your theological instructors are telling you about the historical veracity of Genesis, for example. Care to share? I'd love to know.

highboy said...

"have you ever heard of the placebo effect?"

Yes. A phenomenon that can happen quite often in scientific experimentation as well.

"For that matter, I wonder what exactly your theological instructors are telling you about the historical veracity of Genesis, for example. Care to share? I'd love to know."

Depends on the instructor. NONE of them teach YEC or evolution, they simply teach that God created the world. Of course they give their opinion, but all of them agree it is what we call a "non-vital" to the Christian faith. They teach every word of the Bible to be true, but exact time frames for the Creation of the world is up for grabs. One professor, Clinton Branscombe, (brilliant) is the teacher of OT books. With Genesis, he poses two problems, one for YEC christians and one for OEC Christians:

1. If "day" can't be interpreted as a 24 hour day, than God is short-sighted, because He did not allow for the English language to properly translate His true word. "Day" means many different things in Hebrew, but if "day" in english, doesn't just mean "day" in our English Bible, than God is short-sighted, and therefore fallibe. This is a problem for OEC Christians.

2. We measure our 24 hour days by the Sun. In Creation, the Sun is not even created until day 4. This is a problem for YEC Christians. Though some would just argue that God Himself is not beholden to measuring days by the sun, but that the sun was given so that WE could.

What is the answer? I don't have the first damn clue.

creeper said...

"If "day" can't be interpreted as a 24 hour day, than God is short-sighted, because He did not allow for the English language to properly translate His true word. "Day" means many different things in Hebrew, but if "day" in english, doesn't just mean "day" in our English Bible, than God is short-sighted, and therefore fallibe. This is a problem for OEC Christians."

I don't see the problem here - it's perfectly consistent with God's maddening inconsistency (which in turn is highly consistent with the notion of God's non-existence, yet not so much with the notion of God's existence). If God is not concerned with, say, the wholesale slaughter of innocents (due to whatever excuse you want to dream up, "he gave us free will" or whatever), then why should he suddenly give a hoot about some translation problem of some creation myth?

Having said that, "day" obviously has other meanings than simply a 24-hour period. In the dictionary, for example, there's this definition: "A period of time in history; an era".

The Sun not being created until day 4 is one of the lesser problems of the 7-day YEC scenario.

highboy said...

"If God is not concerned with, say, the wholesale slaughter of innocents"

Are you talking about abortion? Or are you talking about something God did specifically? Nowhere in the Bible do I read God killing innocents wholesale.

"I don't see the problem here - it's perfectly consistent with God's maddening inconsistency"

Which inconsistency is that?

loboinok said...

"What is the answer? I don't have the first damn clue."

Maybe you didn't get around to reading it, so here it is again.

viewcreation.pdf

loboinok said...

Lets try again. I don't know why I have trouble posting links here.

viewcreation

Juggling Mother said...

ummm, I was also told I couldn't have children. i knew this from the age of 14. it was physically im possible, guarenteed by 3 seperate gynae consultants over the next 6 years.

When I got pregnant at age 27, i was told it was a complete miracle, no hope of it ever happening again, no idea how it happened. My husband was delighted. My doctor were baffled. (my mother was horrified). as none of us believe in god, I doubt that it was our prayers and piety that made me deserving of this miracle!

I've now had three kids, and still never prayed. the dr's have decided i'm just a freak:-)

"Miricles" do happen all the time. But there is no evidence to suggest they happen because of a specific god/belief system. Indeed, the only modern scientific research i can remember tackling this issue was the one last year about the percentage of people recovering from serious operations. the ones who were prayed for did mrginally worse than the ones who weren't (although I personally think the reserch was fatally flawed from the outset).

Juggling Mother said...

Oh, I should say, the dr's have come up with a theory of why i an get pregnant which accepts the physical symptoms. Just that they haven't seen it before.

Further research later sowed that there is another woman like me, up in Yorkshire somewhere. Our actual statistically liklihood of getting pregnant is 1:3million or, out of every 3million women with my symptoms, 1 is perfectly fertile, 2,999,999 are infertile.

So no miricle, just very lucky:-)

creeper said...

"Are you talking about abortion? Or are you talking about something God did specifically? Nowhere in the Bible do I read God killing innocents wholesale."

Are you aware of large numbers of innocents dying, or aren't you?

"Which inconsistency is that?"

Sometimes omniscient, sometimes not, sometimes benevolent, sometimes not, sometimes an efficient designer who re-uses designs in different animals to accomplish the same purpose, sometimes an inefficient designer who comes up with different designs in different animals to accomplish the same purpose.

That kind of behavior. It ain't very compatible with this notion of a personified God.

creeper said...

loboinok,

"Lets try again. I don't know why I have trouble posting links here."

In that particular link, you should remove the final slash, the one after ".pdf", and then it works.

loboinok said...

"In that particular link, you should remove the final slash, the one after ".pdf", and then it works."

Yeah, I discovered that as you can see. Thanks.

Mrs.Aginoth,

"Indeed, the only modern scientific research i can remember tackling this issue was the one last year about the percentage of people recovering from serious operations. the ones who were prayed for did mrginally worse than the ones who weren't (although I personally think the reserch was fatally flawed from the outset)."

I believe the percentages you state here were the opposite of what you posted.
I don't have time to search it right now but will try to remember to do it by tonight and get back to you.

highboy said...

"I doubt that it was our prayers and piety that made me deserving of this miracle!"

Jesus performed miracles on people who didn't even know He was God.

"Oh, I should say, the dr's have come up with a theory of why i an get pregnant which accepts the physical symptoms"

Key word: Theory. Our doctors have no idea. A uterus is a uterus, and it was physically impossible for it to magically transform, turn around, and lower itself like that. The ultra sounds during the pregnancy showed the same thing. Dr. Symington (Sussex Regional) just kept saying, "there shouldn't be a baby in there." If you don't want to believe that its a miracle that is up to you, but to say it is flawed logic that something physically impossible actually happens to call it a miracle is ridiculous.

"Are you aware of large numbers of innocents dying, or aren't you"

I thought you were talking about a specific event.

"Sometimes omniscient, sometimes not, sometimes benevolent, sometimes not, sometimes an efficient designer who re-uses designs in different animals to accomplish the same purpose, sometimes an inefficient designer who comes up with different designs in different animals to accomplish the same purpose."

Examples?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think Mrs. Aginoth got it exactly right. The second page of the link has the raw data. The people that were being prayed and knew it had more complications than those who were being prayed for and didn't know it (58% to 51%). 18% of the people in the group who didn't know they were being prayed for had major complications as compared to 13% of the totally unprayed for group. It also found that conducting breathing exercises and relaxation techniques had more of an effect than prayer.

I actually got my Rabbi to stop saying that prayer helps people get better when he couldn't provide any data to back up his claims.

-scohen

loboinok said...

"Actually, I think Mrs. Aginoth got it exactly right."

I'm sure that Mrs.Aginoth is beholden to you for your defense. She was however refering to "the one last year about the percentage of people recovering from serious operations."

Giving you the benefit of the doubt, IF this is the report she was referencing, she is right, it is "fatally flawed from the outset."

I read the linked report three times, twice trying to find your statement; "It also found that conducting breathing exercises and relaxation techniques had more of an effect than prayer."

I didn't find it and assumed that you had probably read it in another report and attributed it to this report.

Anonymous said...

Lobinok,
The breathing exercises were referenced here. I confused the two reports, most likely because the conclusions were the same .

-scohen