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Thread: Does God Exist?

  1. #91
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    When claiming that evil is something whose pure form and real nature is not entirely discernible to us, I am not talking about it being recognized as manifested within individual acts or in the mundane form that it pervades our world generally: I mean its origin and how it got into the world at all. If we can hypothetically say that there really was a fall of man and an infection of an otherwise perfect world, then it becomes normative for these things to be something we consequently recognize. Why they are that way, how evil (as a metaphysical postulate) originated; really is not something anyone can pretend to appreciate and understand with confidence. Even the most sincere Christian isn’t given much in the way of answering this in the Bible. (It was recognized, for instance, even in the 16th century by John Calvin and Martin Luther that Lucifer’s fall from heaven, often taken to be a reference to Satan, written about in Ezekiel was a political reference to the Babylonian king, and they didn’t lack for zeal.) Atheists simply aim to deny its real existence (though I do not think that anyone really does this with complete conviction, honestly) and instead treat suffering as an unpleasant reality simply to be mitigated, all the while adhering to an “oughtness” about things which they retain in their judgments of others and the world at large. So, what you seem to be saying is that, because we can see shadows on the wall of the cave, the forms casting them are therefore entirely intelligible; that’s what I’m claiming isn’t something anyone really knows, even if the gravity of the question is felt by all.

    Going forward:

    a) Once again - for all of these, actually - I think you are getting too hung up with a near-sighted assessment. If this life really is - on the same hypothetical basis that we postulate the existence of God so as to evaluate his intentions - just a short blip on the radar, after which follows an eternal existence only referable to by analogy and metaphor - “streets of Gold, fire and brimstone, etc.” - of which we’re necessarily highly ignorant of the exact nature, but of which both are necessary to consider when factoring the justice of someone’s fate, how can you really know? Seriously dude, how do you know that the same kids dying at the age of 8 at St. Jude’s which are used as arguments against the just nature of God aren’t waking up from a temporary bad dream into an eternal bliss? -- For an actual example from the Bible, Luke 16 is rather interesting; you have a presumably righteous rich man who lives all his life in comfort and then dies to go an eternal torment, and then a beggar whose sores stray dogs licked, making no mention of him otherwise, who ends up with the faithful in bliss. - I’m not claiming to know how to assess these things myself, and so therefore I wouldn’t presume to have the confidence to shake my fist either, being increasingly aware of my inability to assess all. I do know from my own education in history, however, that some real light from serious study, even in the confines of a human mind, really does often have the ability to clarify immense amounts of misunderstanding which result in entrenched positions about things which ultimately don’t have a basis from the facts, so once again, a God who knows all presently and of the eternity to come is not someone whose intentions I can do anything but guess at from the thin pale of things I can see and know. If we are given the gift of volition and have free will to choose to seek God or to live selfishly and follow evil, then a testing of our faith is to my mind both valid and very meaningful in this context. Perhaps God wanted to make little creatures fashioned after him and give them this ability to see what they do, and maybe wouldn’t find this meaningful or worthwhile if we were simply automated wind-up clocks or to put us in a stupor of pleasure unrelated to any actions or decisions we made?

    b) Oh, it’s wrong? “From whence comes evil,” then? Even just hypothetically, a God presumably owes us anything? You know not only the whole range of prophecies about Israel that are delineated and detailed in the Bible and how they’ve played out historically, but also his purposes for everything, other peoples and nations which are also referenced askance: “’Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel?’ declares the Lord. ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?” (Amos 9:7) If God has a plan and a purpose for these other nations which are not otherwise detailed at all, how then could you claim that all of his intentions are entirely clear and simplistic?

    c) Well, that’s an overgeneralization. Again, I would urge you to consider these things in an eternal perspective, which I don’t think you’re doing, and again, for us to be questioning the nature and purposes of an eternal God at all, you ought to. This question is frequently asked in the Bible as well. Read the Psalms again, and that’s a very prominent theme. I think there’s also a meaningful difference here between people in general, and the bad consequences which generally follow foolishness and wrongdoing (being obese is an abuse that is wrong, and congestive heart failure is a natural consequence of that, as is cirrhosis for alcoholism, damaged trust or severed relationships from dishonesty or betrayal, boredom and atrophy from laziness, etc., but that doesn’t mean that there is no revelry, temporary prosperity, or even apparent lack of consequence to these things for many people), and then people who are deliberately seeking after God, who “disciplines the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” as it says in Hebrews; and additionally, evil being punished obviously happens also, which you’re aware of having read the Old Testament. I don’t really see how this one is an issue for you, conceptually. Wrongdoing and foolishness tends towards negative consequences. They don’t always follow, but aside from the existential weight we bear in this life, in an eternal perspective, how important is the temporary pleasure or triumph of people who are destined for the opposite?
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  2. #92
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    Access Denied problems... continuing in new post.

    d) Well, it actually records God as saying “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat of [the earth].” And even in the parlance of modern biology, the food energy from game still ultimately derives from “the earth” and those societies still had to labor to hunt. It’s not like that wasn’t arduous or that the animals didn’t run away and have to be pursued. Are you saying that this story doesn’t constitute the same “fall of man” as it was understood later in theology? In lieu of that, I don’t see the interpretive difficulty here. Also, while this is a valid and important question, it’s important to remember that here we are dealing with a question of Christian particularism, not strictly the philosophical argument about God; though I still believe that this God is the one in question, but want to clarify the difference, lest you suppose that any challenges here apply to everything else generally. I admit that this is quite challenging from the perspective of history and science over such a vast gulf of time and culture as is between some of the earliest literature and today, but I’ll do my best to take it on. In fact, I’m reading a challenging book about the concept of the historical Adam written by a Christian who is a secularly educated PhD (university of Munich) interdisciplinary philosopher (strong in the literature of and acquainted with the frontliners in astrophysics, fluently reads Greek, among other scholarly accomplishments), and he is actually not even a creationist. I don’t entirely agree so far, but this isn’t a strong point on my own, and I’ll probably have better answers about things in Genesis relatively soon. That said, I’ll still do my best in the meantime.

    To your final point, you assume that God is vain because he expects all of these things, but I think it is a reversed view of God which leads you to this conclusion: you see God as an anthropomorphized fragile ego much like one would expect a human being in a primitive society to imagine, something made after man’s image. Well, if conversely God really did make man in his own image, and God really is the most powerful, glorious, majestic being imaginable, the greatest conceivable thing, and people initially had exposure to this God, in their sinless state walking with him, and then quickly forgetting this after being banished and in seeing his powerful works among them and on their behalf, that doesn’t even seem like an unreasonable reaction even from my human vantage. Notwithstanding the fact that such a God rightly does deserve all of these things (and every time that God, his glory, or an angel from him has any kind of visitation on someone, they are terrified in the undeniable recognition of this), imagine that Adam was your great great grandfather and told stories of walking with God; the concept of him wouldn’t be vague or distant as it often is today. Or imagine that you actually saw one of the mighty things God did, like parting the Red Sea or causing manna to form on the ground, and then you chose to bow down to Baal or Molech instead, and had the free will to do either? God being angry about that is in no way comparable to a tantrumy or sadistic child.

    A2) I’ve entertained the possibility that God created other humans after Adam and Eve, separately. That interpretation isn’t without difficulty of its own, because references to our ultimate lineage from Adam are implicit everywhere else, but considering that “Adam” literally just means “Man” in Hebrew, and that the creation of man is listed twice and separately, I think it’s possible – though again, I haven’t studied this one as hard as other topics and am just speaking from what I think is plausible from what I already know. It’s also important to bear in mind the chiastic narrative pattern of ancient literature. Modern, linear historiography, where events follow a strict chronological order was actually not normative until relatively recently. At least in western historiography, “chiasms” (Greek for “rings”) would follow through in their own thematic loops until coming to the resolution of a point which wasn’t primarily a function of ordinal time. (This was even true in classical Greek historiography, and thus you have stories from Herodotus such as the rise of the Achaemenid dynasty being recounted in an unbroken fashion until the resolution of that theme was complete, which ended chronologically well into the events recounted elsewhere in other “rings” which are treated separately – this strikes our modern minds conditioned with instant and constant time keeping devices as dissonant and contradictory, but oftentimes it’s just because these patterns aren’t understood in the first place.)

    Thus, you otherwise have silly things happening in seemingly illogical order in the creation narrative otherwise, which don’t pose the same problems when understood in the way an ancient audience would likely have taken it, given literary conventions we know of elsewhere. Also, on that same note, it’s important that the named sons in the genealogies are not exhaustive. You make it sound like their only children were the lines listed, but that is not necessarily true at all. Given the immensely long lives of the first people detailed in the Bible (very similar to the Sumerian Kings list in that regard), the number of people that would have been born in only a handful of generations would have been enormous. Interestingly to me, though, if I had said that it was likely that Cain married his sister and that this was fine given the completely pure state of the human gene pool, I have no doubt you all would not hesitate to pounce on me with incest jokes, but even from an evolutionary perspective, it’s hard to see this occurring all too differently among primates who live in nuclear family communities oftentimes today anyway. That said, I think the former hypothesis is more plausible (and one might postulate that something similar happened to Cain as happened to Adam with respect to Eve’s creation being separately, but that is an argument from silence), but if it really was his sister, I think it’s abundantly clear that is a far cry from anyone doing this today, or advocating for it on this basis…
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  3. #93
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    b) This one has always been very interesting to me. The Nephilim are only mentioned twice in the Bible: here, and in Numbers 13, in both cases very obliquely. In both cases also connotated in a kind of “glorious” way, higher than man, and ultimately separate to him and his purpose. Long and short, I believe that these were the heroes of antiquity, and that the “sons of God” were plausibly the likes of what came to be worshiped in Hellenic mythology. The overlap and consistency between these within this postulation seems increasingly compelling, the more I learn. The etymology between Zeus and God (referenced separately in the Homeric epics, for instance) the former being like some kind of perversion of a residual understanding of the former, who in classical mythology literally is the father of many of these gods, who in turn were the fathers with mortal women of specific legendary heroes. I’d like to go into more detail on this point later because I’m running out of time right now, but that is what I tentatively think on this one, hence my claim earlier in the thread about “henotheism.” None of these are gods in any comparable way to the uncreated One who is omnipotent and made the universe, but I think that there are still created divine beings which exist in some cases, and this reference in particular seems to corroborate that.

    c) As someone who has not formally studied nor is decently strong in biology unlike some other topics I feel more equipped to debate about, this isn’t something I think is wise to make a primary talking point of myself, though that doesn’t mean that I don’t have critical reservations of it as received in my public education and in the popular narrative, as a layperson, as many who engage in these discussions are. I find that what is often mandated as a “literal” interpretation of Genesis isn’t often in tandem with what was intended as it was penned, but I also do not find a macroevolutionary paradigm compelling or even plausible, even in the midst of accepting something like geologic time and morphological changes observed in species, undeniably, but again, this isn’t the hill I would choose to die on. While my objections as a layperson are compelling against what I understand and such opinions are not wrong to have (in fact, are necessary, unless you uncritically accept everything in an appeal to authority or are, impossibly, an expert on every matter which has academia behind it), I’d hope to have the humility not to balk at something I’m not versed in, so I concede that I may be wrong, though from what I know presently, I wouldn’t guess so. We can’t be an expert in everything, and this isn’t a topic I would choose to spend my efforts becoming adept in. I actually had a discussion about this with someone else who is more educated on it not too long ago, and what I had said then still holds as my position on it:

    “While as it pertains to the hard sciences (and especially to biology and medicine) I am completely a layperson and my entire education in that regard was the school system and my gen eds in college, many tenets of evolution as an explanatory model for the existence of the present state of biodiversity on earth strike me as quite implausible and unrealistic, particularly the farther back one considers.

    Abiogenesis aside, or even from this the mere development of prokaryotic organisms with protein coding, many various interrelated and multifaceted organelles, how such protozoa and even primitive eukaryotes progressed to become even something intermediate to the currently living "extant" creatures from such a hypothetical time, seems quite an ambiguous stretch.

    There are two particular problems that I observe, to the best of admittedly limited knowledge:

    1.) Evolutionary theory was established as academic orthodoxy at a time of very rudimentary or altogether nonexistent understanding of microbiology (and many other major disciplines of modern science which are less immediately relevant, for that matter). In light of that ignorance, the theory is more plausible; but the subsequent discovery of many things which had no conceptual basis originally but are crucial to the actual postulated processes of evolution - particularly, genetics - seem to have been immediately subsumed within the accepted theory, with all problems and challenges that these potentially pose, ruled out by default. This strikes me as odd and unscientific to the extent that this is true, but, I am a layperson so obviously have not read the scholarly literature; nevertheless this seems to be what the popular argument exposes, from both sides of the debate.

    2.) This is more technical, but, the proposition of unguided mutation as the vehicle for generating meaningful information in the genetic profile of organisms, appears extremely problematic to me. The emphasis is key here, as the reward and punishment of already existing genetic information is observed science and an undisputable fact, but it seems that in every case, there's already a replete organism in question, and the trait in question draws upon existing genes which are dormant and haven't been activated - "junk DNA" - or is in the context of a presupposed universal functionality of that organism, which begs the question of how such systems came to be interdependently, but especially of how the correct, beneficial information itself was originally created.”
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  4. #94
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    And from another conversation...

    “To what degree do you regard abiogenesis and evolution as unrelated? Clarifying that distinction should aid this discussion, because to some extent, evolution itself is undeniably true and I don't have qualms admitting that, but importantly, the conventional claims made by it are that it is the explanative process for all life, not merely that organisms genetically adapt to their environments within an already diverse ecosystem. My clear objection has to do with the fact that in all of these examples, we're already dealing with genetically replete organisms of a high zoological order which already contain the high-trim mechanisms of replication and apparently much of the coding for these systems already. The structure of that "operating system" if you will, and how things like organ systems could emerge interdependently in this manner, is what I am quite hesitant to accord to mutative natural selection.

    Even more so, cell biology is amazing and poses these issues more loudly, to my mind. If you think abiogenesis is a separate matter, then it seems that you could regard a design argument for the cell itself as possible. If not, how do you differ with respect to this question, given your statement viewing abiogenesis as not indelible to evolution itself?

    To answer your question about geologic time, I am not persuaded by the conventional 6,000 year old "young earth" (which even what we know about optics via astronomy would make absurd, unless the various lifecycles of stars were created still-frame, with no warrant for thinking so) and also don't find an endorsement of geologic time as incompatible with creationism at all, nor do I find this to be a concession to macroscopic evolution, as protecting a literal understanding of the Genesis narrative and its timeline are not relevant to my objections.

    I am however somewhat amused and puzzled by the artistic license taken with the depictions of such things as a single tooth believed to be australopithecine, from which artists were commissioned to create ornate models of flesh and blood communities of the supposed creatures displayed in a museum. I literally saw that very thing happen in a documentary about paleoanthropology, and the featured scientist himself said that scarcely more than teeth are ever found in entire careers in this field!

    The fact that a large chunk of the more complete evidence for the hypothesis of early humans were mistaken modern ape skeletons or outright forgeries is testament to my impression that this model became scientific orthodoxy right away, and has since then been protected by an academic elitism which doesn't even consider questioning it as dogma. There's also something suspicious about the readiness to assume speciation on the basis of the few finds which weren't. We in the lifting world are of course conscious that considerable skeletal proportion differences exist, even among people of the same family, and modern humans exist in many different races with more considerable genetic difference. Why are these sorts of minute differences which absolutely exist in the phenotypes of living humans right now taken as the basis for such extreme assumptions, if not because the tree has been assumed and its branches must be populated?

    It doesn't seem scientific to me, and I recognize the inherent persuasion in such elaborate diagrams of speciation, artistically flourished with much assumptive detail as they are. Even in geology, some of the early science was spurred by a strong anticlericalism associated with the atheism of the French Revolution (Alexandre Brongniart, who was a pioneer of the fossil record, comes to mind), which, while not the basis for rejecting an argument, does correlate with this academic motive to fantasize about assumptive hypotheses.

    The point of this is not to attempt to refute an old earth (which I think is plausible if not almost certain), but to say that there are some concerning trends in the actual record of research for these claims by which such unbending confidence is elicited. I'm interested in actual pursuing these questions, and a lot of the answers really do seem to be dogmatic and speculative at these deeper levels.

    Two questions for you [the original person I was talking to, but I suppose they stand here as well]:
    1.) Have you heard about the dating error with Polonium 14, which does argue for much earlier dates than carbon?
    2.) Why do you think the Cambrian explosion demonstrates such a sudden diversity of life, if the fossil record is a reliable basis?”

    --

    I’ll have to get to the rest of these a little later.
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  5. #95
    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Eli…. R u serious right now?

    I’d love to converse in this… but it’s literally becoming an essay each time.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Eli…. R u serious right now?

    I’d love to converse in this… but it’s literally becoming an essay each time.
    Yes, I really am. I'm being directly asked personally for my views on a number of really big and multifaceted questions. I don't think it's possible to answer them all (or really to have these sorts of discussions in a meaningful manner) in a brief way, at least if I'm also expected to clarify against anticipated objections or provide warrant for why I think so. I also caveated that before replying in the first place.

    I don't think it would do very much good to answer a question like "Do you believe that the theory of evolution is true?" only to say "Probably not, at least in the conventional way that it's taken to mean that all life evolved from prokaryotes to the current biosphere by means of random mutation, but I'm not a scientist and willing to concede that this isn't really what I'd choose to focus on." Because that doesn't qualify what reason I have and doesn't really give anyone a chance to consider why I think that way, and it likely just would invite follow up questions asking for elaboration anyway.

    And again, my intention is just to answer earnestly and thoroughly with what I find compelling in response to direct questions asked of me personally. I'm not trying to force anyone to agree with me or shoot down others' thoughts on the matter.
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    You can bet ur entire cuckold ancestral lineage that he does.
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    Originally Posted by pandaboy89 View Post
    You can bet ur entire cuckold ancestral lineage that he does.
    I mean how can anyone argue with this brilliant comment? I'm convinced now.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Yes, I really am. I'm being directly asked personally for my views on a number of really big and multifaceted questions. I don't think it's possible to answer them all (or really to have these sorts of discussions in a meaningful manner) in a brief way, at least if I'm also expected to clarify against anticipated objections or provide warrant for why I think so. I also caveated that before replying in the first place.

    I don't think it would do very much good to answer a question like "Do you believe that the theory of evolution is true?" only to say "Probably not, at least in the conventional way that it's taken to mean that all life evolved from prokaryotes to the current biosphere by means of random mutation, but I'm not a scientist and willing to concede that this isn't really what I'd choose to focus on." Because that doesn't qualify what reason I have and doesn't really give anyone a chance to consider why I think that way, and it likely just would invite follow up questions asking for elaboration anyway.

    And again, my intention is just to answer earnestly and thoroughly with what I find compelling in response to direct questions asked of me personally. I'm not trying to force anyone to agree with me or shoot down others' thoughts on the matter.
    Fair enough. And perhaps it's moreso your writing style I find difficult to read through than anything else... there's so many long sentences it becomes difficult to understand the actual points being made.

    I'm not sure if you listen to podcasts etc, but i think you might enjoy these on youtube... they talk about a lot of the same stuff.




    "When I die, I hope it's early in the morning so I don't have to go to work that day for no reason"
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