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Arguments against (or for) Xianity
Bob of QF
I wanted to start this thread, as a place to post clever (and not so clever) arguments against christianity (and other bible-based religions).

If the mods think it (this thread) belongs elsewhere, feel free-- won't hurt my feelings (unless you simply delete it... then I'll cry... Smile )

One I thought of the other day is more of an observation:

I was going on against Xianity over on Topix, when it hit me:

What religion does not do well with, is knowledge. (okay, that's an old one, and kinda obvious, but ..)

And then it hit me again:

What is the very first "lesson" in the bible's book of Genesis?

Knowledge is forbidden.

I won't insult you by going over the details, but from a point of view, that is the first lesson: it is best not to know.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
That has been one of my primary objections for a long time. The 'forbidden fruit' of the Tree of Knowledge has always had quite an attraction for me. For a religion to tell me that I'm supposed to stay ignorant bothers me more than a little. I wonder what they are afraid of? ("Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!")
 
seeker
That's the biggest problem when it comes to dealing with Christians. The first thing they do is throw out knowledge of the real world as unimportant. You end up stuck dealing with hermeneutic bullshit that has little to no relation to the written text.

One of the most cringe worthy bit of apologetic nonsense I've heard recently came from a very highly respected biblical scholar. His claim is that the bad acts by God in the OT are meant as a sort of satire illustrating how ridiculous it would be if a leader (or God) were to act capriciously.

Essentially the text can mean whatever one wants it to mean. Any biblical act one doesn't agree with can be simply explained away as allegory.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
seeker wrote:One of the most cringe worthy bit of apologetic nonsense I've heard recently came from a very highly respected biblical scholar. His claim is that the bad acts by God in the OT are meant as a sort of satire illustrating how ridiculous it would be if a leader (or God) were to act capriciously.

Cringeworthy indeed! That is one of the silliest statements I have ever heard of.

The Bible is a buffet: Take what you want and ignore the rest. And what you take can be regarded as literally true or allegorical. The result is that one's preferences can be suported by something in the Bible, no matter what they are.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Bob of QF
Interesting observations everyone.

Here's another trump-card against:

Postulate: there actually is a real, caring god behind at least one version of christianity.

Question: what would the observable results be, if this were true?

Answer: if there were a god behind at least one 'christian' brand? That brand would have the benefit of having a real, caring divine guide behind it. With a real god dispensing divine wisdom and guidance? That brand would soon overtake the other, false ones, for they would drift and falter having to depend on mere mortal wisdom and guidance.

Over a very short time, the genuine-god wisdom being funneled into the real brand would cause it to overtake and engulf all the other, false ones. Who could compete with divine wisdom?

Before very long, there would be but one left-- the one guided by a real god. The others would either die off completely, or rapidly decline into a tiny fringe group, having no effect on greater world events.

Question: looking at history, is this the case?

Answer: no. What we see instead, is a continuous divergence of all flavors of christianity from the very beginning. Year after year, the different denominations diverge, split, diverge and spit again. Until the modern era, where there are more than 35,000 different self-professed distinct brands of 'christian'. (according to the Christian Encyclopedia).

And this is exactly what we would expect, if none of these had a god giving them godly advice, but instead relying on mere human frailties.

Conclusion: there is no god behind any brand of christian. Or any of the other religions, either for the exact same reasons.

_____________

Notes.

1) In a multiple-god universe? You would also see more or less what we see today, if none of the multiple gods has strong dominance over any of the others. The various competitive god-viewpoints would tend to cancel out the influence of the other gods'. Of course, this model does not explain how a schism or split works-- do gods also split and reproduce? Such that each new fraction now has a separate and distinct god to go with? Unfortunately, in a multiple-god universe this muddies what happens when we die, making it all but impossible to make a rational decision about it. May as well pick 'none of the above' and play it as safe as you can.

2) In an uncaring god universe? You could also see today's historical results-- an uncaring god would not care if people went in random, differing directions. But an uncaring god is unlikely to have created either heaven or hell as well, so this is pretty much the same result as a 'no gods' universe.

3) In an evil god universe? You could also see today's historical results-- an evil god (or gods) would delight in the constant strife and schism of the various brands, and take pleasure in the constant in-fighting. But, an evil god would be unlikely to create heaven (but more likely to have multiple hells) so the results would be it would not really matter what one did, in an evil-god universe, we're all going to hell anyway.

4) This one is the wildest: gods are created by belief-- that is? Once people begin to believe collectively, there is some sort of "energy" (I told you it was wild) created by that belief, and if you have enough? A god is created by it-- a sort of collective will creates what it believes in. A kind of pulling your god up by your faith-bootstraps scenario. So, all the gods of the ancients actually did exist at one time in the past. Do gods die? Maybe-- if they lack sufficient believers to maintain the energy level, they may very well fade away.

The obvious consequence of this? Is to ignore all the current gods, if none meet your liking... and try to start your own religion so as to create your own custom-tailored god. The Flying Spaghetti Monster quickly comes to mind, here. Grin

But another consequence if this universe? If enough of the world becomes atheist? The gods will simply fade away.. and the atheists will turn out to have been right all along.... Pfft Rofl
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Robert
Hey Catman! How's it going? I've been doing rather well ever since I started the weekly flea treatments. Thank you for suggesting them!

Catman wrote: "The result is that one's preferences can be suported by something in the Bible, no matter what they are."

Perhaps.

I've always loved the following quotes:

"'Good Morning!' said Bilbo, and he meant it...

'What do you mean?' he [Gandalf] said. 'Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?'

'All of them at once,' said Bilbo."

The Hobbit

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

R. McCloskey

Ahhhh...the art of interpretation. But shall we give up on it entirely? Aren't some interpretations likely better than others? Aren't some closer to the truth?
 
Theory_Execution
Ahhhh...the art of interpretation. But shall we give up on it entirely?


In short: Yes, and do away with it in this sphere.

In long: In the case of religious scripture, it is obvious from all ventures of humanity, that written word although useful is not a perfect means of communication. If we are to believe some-thing created the universe, consciously - be it from whole-cloth or the initial state with mechanism to start the evolution we observe - then it is reasonable to think that that same some-thing, if it wished, could convey a message without error. Literature does not do this, on this basis alone we can give up on it entirely.

This is where a religious person would take off into the clouds, talking of the beauty of faith and the hope this gives and Jesus crying, or Mohammed marrying a nine year old to explain away the problem - with something as important as your immortal soul, you had best be clear about the instructions.

There is the option of the some-thing that doesn’t care, but in that case why should I? All evidence shows that life is short and fleeting, so fuck it and get busy.

So I would go one further back than you Bob of QF and not even open the book. If a god exists and cares, we would all be whispered to in the darkness of our infancy.
 
seeker
Robert Said:
Ahhhh...the art of interpretation. But shall we give up on it entirely? Aren't some interpretations likely better than others? Aren't some closer to the truth?


Any truth you might find when a text is so purely vague is not only accidental but likely to be indistinguishable from closely related falsehood. Ever read Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus"
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
Robert: Good to see a post from you again. I'm not doing too well, having had shingles since the end of July, but I'm gradually getting over it (I hope).

That Hobbit quote is one of my favorites. I actually have it on a plaque!

seeker: Not only are parts of it vague, but they have been taken out of context to fit a particular point of view by those looking for Biblical sanction for their particular agendas.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Bob of QF
Theory_Execution wrote:

So I would go one further back than you Bob of QF and not even open the book. If a god exists and cares, we would all be whispered to in the darkness of our infancy.


Agree 100%.

The fact that all infants are born without any thoughts of deities of any kind? Pretty much proves they are born as atheists (if you will-- they have no faith in anything, let alone gods, so by default, they are atheists).

To me, that also proves there is no caring deity out there.

Uncaring? Possibly. In that case, 'what's the point', as you already noted.


Evil? Also possible, but unlikely-- evil deities would likely be more active and visible that what we see. In this case, there's nothing we can do anyway, may as well enjoy life to it's fullest, before the torture begins...
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
Oddly enough, I have come to the conclusion that a newborn isn't an atheist, as I regard that as a decision which one must make. I think a newborn should be classified as "not applicable" when it comes to the religiosity/irreligiosity question.

Certainly I hope that any newborn eventually becomes an atheist!
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Theory_Execution
I regard atheism as label for 'does not have a belief in a god'. You can then colour is with strong/weak, gnostic/agnostic etc.
 
seeker
Actually Penn Jillette had an interesting take on the difference between atheist and agnostic. They really are completely different statements, agnosticism being a lack of knowledge and atheism a lack of belief. The interesting point is that by definition an agnostic cannot be a believer.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Theory_Execution
Im not so sure about that last bit Seeker, you can agree that you may never know the nature of a god or other extra-material thing, but that shouldn't stop you believing, Deists would be an example of Agnostic Theists.

And then you have people like Pat Robertson, he would probably declare himself as a gnostic theist, but in actuality nescient would be a better word.
 
catman
I agree. One may be either an agnostic theist or a gnostic theist. The former is where all that "hope" one hears about so much comes in, although from what the Bible has to say about God's nature, it doesn't seem very well thought out.
 
Robert
Hey Catman,

Sorry to hear that you have the shingles. Hopefully it will soon run its course. Protracted illnesses are the worst--I'm all too familiar with them. Get better soon!!!

You made me laugh when you wrote that you have the entire "good morning" quote displayed on a plaque. If you're interested, by the way, Peter Jackson has a lot of material and production footage from the upcoming hobbit movie circulating on the web. Judging from the looks of things, I think the movie will probably be pretty good. The Dwarves look rather dark and menacing with the exception of one character who actually reminds me of Fat Bastard from Austin Powers lol.

"I want to eat your baby!"
 
Theory_Execution
Have you seen any of 'The Big Man' sketches Robert.

Provided for your amusement...
 
Robert
Hey TE,

Yeah, he pretty much reminds me of an amalgamation between Fat Bastard and an ill-tempered Benny Hill. Pretty funny stuff. Love the accent.
 
Theory_Execution
I recall seeing bits of this years ago, but I dont recall her show making big.

Now, Rab C Nesbitt, loved that show.
 
seeker
Theory_Execution wrote:

Im not so sure about that last bit Seeker, you can agree that you may never know the nature of a god or other extra-material thing, but that shouldn't stop you believing, Deists would be an example of Agnostic Theists.

And then you have people like Pat Robertson, he would probably declare himself as a gnostic theist, but in actuality nescient would be a better word.


Think about it though. Can you truly believe in something if you aren't even sure of its existence? Remember, agnosticism has nothing to do with the knowledge of the nature of God, only its existence. Deists still profess to assume existence and so cannot be agnostic.

If one doubts the existence of God then that means they accept the notion that God is unnecessary. God, however, is necessary by definition as he is supposedly creator and prime mover. If God is not necessary then the logical default is that God is unlikely.

It's basically the same argument that's you would make against Pascal's wager.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
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