Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in God.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Oregonaut » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:52 pm UTC

My work nets won't let me go to ED, someone please help an Oregonaut out?
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Dauric » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:56 pm UTC

Here.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Oregonaut » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:57 pm UTC

Ah, the picture of the white longcat and the black longcat superimposed over a background of hellfire and lightning.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:58 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
iop wrote: Supposedly the great thinkers of the time didn't have the internet yet, so they had to spend their energy on figuring out the Bible and everything that might be implied in the text if one only stares at it for enough time.


So... the book of Revelations is 4chan?

... yeah, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, so maybe that only makes sense to me at this moment.


That would...actually explain a lot.

If the bible is the word of God, then that means that the Book of Revalations is one massive, devine troll.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby iop » Fri Sep 03, 2010 6:33 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
iop wrote: Supposedly the great thinkers of the time didn't have the internet yet, so they had to spend their energy on figuring out the Bible and everything that might be implied in the text if one only stares at it for enough time.


So... the book of Revelations is 4chan?

... yeah, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, so maybe that only makes sense to me at this moment.


Revelations was written before the theological arguments became really big, i.e. at a time when the greatest minds were debating whether happiness is found by participating in the government as opposed to hanging out with your friends (if you have the funds, of course), and about the nature of the soul.

Revelations is one of the few good arguments why the Catholic Church didn't want the general populace to read the Bible, but keep the reading and interpretation limited to those who were actually educated about it. There is so much potential for stupid interpretations. Of course, reformation, printing press and general education screwed this up.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby quantumcat42 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:25 pm UTC

iop wrote:Revelations is one of the few good arguments why the Catholic Church didn't want the general populace to read the Bible, but keep the reading and interpretation limited to those who were actually educated about it. There is so much potential for stupid interpretations. Of course, reformation, printing press and general education screwed this up.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Cleverbeans » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:10 pm UTC

I'm not sure how a Christian making some nonsensical claim qualifies as "news". It is however a good excuse to post comics which make me chuckle.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby FosterDulles » Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:58 pm UTC

In response to OP's original question - "is this what Christians actually believe" - no, I don't think it is. I've never heard anyone else make the argument that obeying God is a moral obligation. They might make the argument that without the existence of God, then no one is under any *real* obligation to follow moral precepts, but this guy's argument here is completely unfamiliar to me.

Also, Evangelicals have a tendency toward individual interpretation of the bible and tend to view any "authority" on scripture with some level of skepticism (far more so than Mainline Protestant branches) - so it's important not to mistake the opinion of one guy for the opinion of everyone.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Malice » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:16 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Saying "a god who sends good people to hell is not worth believing in" is just saying you don't believe in such a god in the first place. Being worthy has nothing to do with it. If there really is a god who sends people to hell if they do things the wrong way, no matter what those things are, than those things are the wrong things.


Only in the sense that they're punished, not in the sense that they are immoral. In this context God has no moral authority. Might does not make right, my parents don't always know what's best for me, and even infinitely long prison sentences can be unjustly applied.

When people say "that's not a god worth believing in," they're arguing that you should live your life according to what is right, not according to what somebody says is right, no matter how big the stick (or flames) that somebody has.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby EmptySet » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:22 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
EmptySet wrote:
yedidyak wrote:Sorry. But still, if God is an omnipotent omniscient being, who created everything for some purpose of His, do you really think that you could understand Him? Could you expect Him to be just like you, with the same moral code just bigger? Could you really claim to be yourself omniscient about God and His morality?


Wouldn't that argument imply that all people who make assertions that God wants this or doesn't want that are in error, including but not limited to the dude who is asserting that disbelief is immoral?


No, those guys have the bible. That God wrote. It's proof.


I own a copy of the Bible. If I wave it around while I talk, does that mean I can claim God is immoral? Furthermore, how do you know God wants you to believe what it says in the Bible? How do you know that God actually wrote the Bible? How do you know the translation which you are (presumably) using is accurate? How do you know that a literal interpretation or the figurative interpretation of your choice is more correct than every other possible interpretation? If having the Bible is automatically "proof", how do you reconcile different groups of Christians with conflicting beliefs, who both claim their views are based on biblical truth?

Zamfir wrote:So you then base your religion on a book, or on the lives of people who were granted special knowledge.


On what basis do you decide that someone has "special knowledge"? How do you know that any given person does not have "special knowledge"? How do you know that the "special knowledge" granted is accurate? Again, what of people who have conflicting views as to what those with "special knowledge" meant, or to who actually has "special knowledge"?

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sat Sep 04, 2010 3:25 am UTC

LegoLogos wrote:Is this really what Christians believe, or is this one of those fundamentalist/extremist Christian attitudes which moderate Christians are not a part of? As a non-Christian I find the idea that Christians believing I'm "profoundly evil" is somewhat unnerving
You have to look at it in the context of its larger theological framework. There's a reasonably large group of Christians (mostly American, mostly fundamentalist, but not necessarily in the visibly crazy way) that define "moral" to mean "like God" and "evil" to mean "unlike God" (or, "like people"). In this sense, all people, even Christians, are profoundly evil, and it is impossible for anything originating from people to be moral. Morality can only come from God, so only those empowered by God to overcome some of their immense depravity can do moral things. Even then, only those actions done with the intent of furthering the will of God can be considered moral. So, basically, everyone on Earth is evil, and everything they do is evil, except for a few things some Christians (who are still very evil) do sometimes. Basically, the words are diluted to the point where they're almost meaningless.

Oddly enough, most people who actually believe this have a more intuitive understanding of "good" and "bad" that's fairly conventional. The idea of moral good and evil becomes strictly theological and theoretical, and isn't really relevant in everyday life or in their attitudes towards other people. The whole field of apologetics is basically about applying logical consistency in answering the tough objections to Christianity (in this case, "how can a just God send people to hell"), and the result can be pretty convoluted. Luckily this stuff pretty much only comes up in arguments justifying Christianity, and is otherwise almost completely ignored.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby FosterDulles » Sat Sep 04, 2010 10:44 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:
LegoLogos wrote:Is this really what Christians believe, or is this one of those fundamentalist/extremist Christian attitudes which moderate Christians are not a part of? As a non-Christian I find the idea that Christians believing I'm "profoundly evil" is somewhat unnerving
You have to look at it in the context of its larger theological framework. There's a reasonably large group of Christians (mostly American, mostly fundamentalist, but not necessarily in the visibly crazy way) that define "moral" to mean "like God" and "evil" to mean "unlike God" (or, "like people"). In this sense, all people, even Christians, are profoundly evil, and it is impossible for anything originating from people to be moral. Morality can only come from God, so only those empowered by God to overcome some of their immense depravity can do moral things. Even then, only those actions done with the intent of furthering the will of God can be considered moral. So, basically, everyone on Earth is evil, and everything they do is evil, except for a few things some Christians (who are still very evil) do sometimes. Basically, the words are diluted to the point where they're almost meaningless.

Oddly enough, most people who actually believe this have a more intuitive understanding of "good" and "bad" that's fairly conventional. The idea of moral good and evil becomes strictly theological and theoretical, and isn't really relevant in everyday life or in their attitudes towards other people. The whole field of apologetics is basically about applying logical consistency in answering the tough objections to Christianity (in this case, "how can a just God send people to hell"), and the result can be pretty convoluted. Luckily this stuff pretty much only comes up in arguments justifying Christianity, and is otherwise almost completely ignored.


I tihnk your first paragraph more accurately describes Mainline-Reformed Theology in its arguments over Grace and Provedence and whatnot. If by "fundamentalist," you mean American Evangelical Protestantism, I think that you'll rarely find a theology so coherent or well defined as this - partly due to the skepticism towards "learned authority" and fairly egalitarian sense that *anyone* is as equally qualified as the next to interpret the Bible. In the end, most of what they believe becomes vague - only broad outlines being shared by any two groups (although, don't tell them that).

The second paragraph, though, is certainly true. Among American Evangelicals navigating moral problems is mostly done by gut instinct and a very conservative sense of right and wrong than anything else. More elegant, coherent theological systems tend to escape them completely.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby General_Norris » Sat Sep 04, 2010 3:29 pm UTC

I mean this is not news at all.

I mean. God is perfect. God creates something (Moral laws) and so they are perfect too.

So if you don't follow a perfect moral law...Well, you are wrong. The premise may not be valid but the logic is.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Le1bn1z » Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:34 pm UTC

Two things.

(Edit --- Started as three, but I only really wanted to say two.... corrected for basic counting to three.)

First, that love of God is an absolute moral obligation is, right or wrong, a central tenet of Christian faith.
There are all sorts of things that we can argue about in good consicence. However, I think this bit is pretty clear:

The Bible writes,

...and they asked him, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?" And Jesus replied, "Thou shalt love Thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul and all thy strength. This is the first and great Commandment."


So lets cut the nonsense about this being an "opnion" of Christianity, and not one of the very few lines you absolutely can never cross, even in speculation, if you're actually a Christian.

Second, why is this getting people upset?

This is not a conversion piece. Its a sermon for Christians on a fairly vanilla piece of scripture. Is it a moral obligation that Christians love God? Um. Yep. Does that in any way mean that this ought to find its way into secular laws....well, no, not really.

People tend to forget the role that religious scholars played in setting up the church-state seperation, anyway. Its particularily cute when youngsters think its a new thing. It was the centre of medieval civil wars which wracked Europe, and has been a major topic since, well, since we've kept records. Pious Christians have been evenly divided on both sides, and atheists have played roles on each side as well, for their own reasons.

So a simple sermon on Christian morals ought not to be causing such an uproar. This is not a call for a legislative putsch on free conscience, or an assault on church-state seperation or even a call for non-association with non believers.

It is a seroms correcting a mistaken and common bit of popular piety that loving God is something freely given of no obligation, and not a matter of utmost ethical importance.

I mean, if people didn't think it was morally and spiritually imperative to love God, what would be the point of religion in the first place?

Some people have been taking this way, way out of context.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby FosterDulles » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:48 pm UTC

Le1bn1z wrote:Three things.

First, that love of God is an absolute moral obligation is, right or wrong, a central tenet of Christian faith.
There are all sorts of things that we can argue about in good consicence. However, I think this bit is pretty clear:


No one is questioning whether or not loving God is an *obligation* in the Christian faith. The question is whether or not Christians believe it is a *moral* obligation to love God. Not believing in God is not in and of itself immoral, though many Christians believe that the two are related. This doesn't change its obligatory nature, but the moral dimension in this specific context is pretty unique to the fellow linked to in op's first post (that's to the best of my knowledge - if anyone can find a reputable source that disproves this, I'd be happy to concede the point).

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Coffee Stain » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:11 am UTC

FosterDulles wrote:No one is questioning whether or not loving God is an *obligation* in the Christian faith. The question is whether or not Christians believe it is a *moral* obligation to love God. Not believing in God is not in and of itself immoral, though many Christians believe that the two are related. This doesn't change its obligatory nature, but the moral dimension in this specific context is pretty unique to the fellow linked to in op's first post (that's to the best of my knowledge - if anyone can find a reputable source that disproves this, I'd be happy to concede the point).

A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.

More often though, due to the difficulty of knowing what is true (since the truth is question in the first place) we tend to judge the morality of belief by the intellectual virtues and vices. Fallacies that are committed, either at a conscious or subconscious level, and which result from another type of moral failure can easily produce false belief, but it is not always simple to perceive why. The mind and the motivations that make it create propositions are mostly hidden from the conscious part of it that outputs those propositions. An extremely common Christian theology is that God the one that produces God-belief on both the conscious and subconscious level, and that it is moral to act in a way that allows God to be an input to the building of your propositions. The suggestion is that the most correctly functioning cognitive faculties are those that produce God-belief through the means of God himself; those that do not are functioning less-so, to the moral detriment of that subject.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Greyarcher » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:08 am UTC

Coffee Stain wrote:A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.
Apparently it is natural among such believers to engage in shabby logic, conflating believing a falsehood in the first case with not believing a "truth" in the second case. But sarcasm aside, I'd wager the perceived immorality is negligible, because people believe falsehoods due to mistakes--from memory failure or errant information--all the time. Can't imagine a mistaken belief being considered notably immoral.

"Hark! I believed my keys were on my desk, but that was false. I forgot to remove them from my pocket! I have sinned--forgive me, Lord."
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Malice » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:34 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:
Coffee Stain wrote:A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.
Apparently it is natural among such believers to engage in shabby logic, conflating believing a falsehood in the first case with not believing a "truth" in the second case. But sarcasm aside, I'd wager the perceived immorality is negligible, because people believe falsehoods due to mistakes--from memory failure or errant information--all the time. Can't imagine a mistaken belief being considered notably immoral.

"Hark! I believed my keys were on my desk, but that was false. I forgot to remove them from my pocket! I have sinned--forgive me, Lord."


But a disbelief in God is not because you forgot that God existed, or that you were never aware that he existed; it's a deliberate choice that we make to accept the evidence of God's existence or deny it. It's a choice whether or not to have faith, essentially. As such, unlike most false beliefs, it is possible to attach moral weight to it.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Mat » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:38 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:
Coffee Stain wrote:A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.
Apparently it is natural among such believers to engage in shabby logic, conflating believing a falsehood in the first case with not believing a "truth" in the second case. But sarcasm aside, I'd wager the perceived immorality is negligible, because people believe falsehoods due to mistakes--from memory failure or errant information--all the time. Can't imagine a mistaken belief being considered notably immoral.

"Hark! I believed my keys were on my desk, but that was false. I forgot to remove them from my pocket! I have sinned--forgive me, Lord."

Agreed. I don't think anyone would believe it's immoral to just be wrong about something. In my opinion it only becomes immoral if two conditions are met: the person acting on an incorrect belief would be harmful, and information is available that invalidates the belief. An example would be parents who deny their children real medicine because they believe in alternative cures.

Since most believers and non believers would agree that belief in a god ultimately comes down to faith, it seems illogical to conclude that either belief is immoral just based on your personal assessment of its truth.

This guys argument doesn't attempt to logically prove the existence of God. He is just saying you should believe in God. Because God defines morality and morality says you should believe in God. The "God actually exists" claim is more of a hidden premise that he doesn't address. As it stands, it's a pretty weak argument because you can basically substitute "God" for anything you want and use it to justify any belief system.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Coffee Stain » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:42 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:
Coffee Stain wrote:A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.
Apparently it is natural among such believers to engage in shabby logic, conflating believing a falsehood in the first case with not believing a "truth" in the second case. But sarcasm aside, I'd wager the perceived immorality is negligible, because people believe falsehoods due to mistakes--from memory failure or errant information--all the time. Can't imagine a mistaken belief being considered notably immoral.

"Hark! I believed my keys were on my desk, but that was false. I forgot to remove them from my pocket! I have sinned--forgive me, Lord."

Over time, the probabilities we assign to our beliefs more closely converge to our biases, and toward (unless the biases are particularly poor) the true probability given the knowledge we have. I could hardly see a case where moral biases end up having anything to do with where I think I put my keys, and where I put my keys is a question for which there is a rather quick convergence. Initially, the probability I might assign to the proposition that my keys are on my desk might be 95%, and perhaps 95% of the time I'm right about my keys being on my desk. Within 5 seconds, and upon checking, the probability quickly converges either to 100% or 0%, depending on whether the keys are there. The average change in probability, though, from a sample of every time I think my keys are on my desk will be quite small, because my initial estimate of 95% is accurate, having been borne of experience.

The point is that the proposition that God exists is hardly a question that is not given ample time for convergence to one's biases, and that it is a largely uncertain question even then. The idea that you aren't the least bit morally responsible for what those biases are is certainly false, and Christians simply seem to believe that the responsibility is large, and the biases strong.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Greyarcher » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:10 am UTC

Malice wrote:But a disbelief in God is not because you forgot that God existed, or that you were never aware that he existed; it's a deliberate choice that we make to accept the evidence of God's existence or deny it. It's a choice whether or not to have faith, essentially. As such, unlike most false beliefs, it is possible to attach moral weight to it.
I disagree, the question of God for non-believers is not a matter of faith. Indeed, when you break it down, God fits largely into the same category as all "knowledge of deities"; while there is a question of trust, it's not really a matter of faith. Regarding the whole business of the origin of "knowledge of deities", it's more a matter of "Do you trust the folks who lived thousands of years ago--before the advances of scientific knowledge and spread of public education in recent centuries--do you trust them to have a strong commitment to truth and knowledge, and an appropriate amount of skepticism towards incredible claims?"

Naturally, I don't trust such a thing. Rather, I suspect that people in early ages told false tales--fictions--and that they didn't bother to precisely disclaim each tale with "This isn't really true". Tall tales told for entertainment likely became rumored truths or folk legends; stories were seen to sway people, and so some people crafted instructive fictions to teach, while other people crafted manipulative fictions to control. Some were bound together with fictions to explain the vast world of which they were ignorant. And in some of these fictions are deities; these fictions, along with these deities, swayed the people and became "truth".

Tie some the various types of fictions together--the instructive, explanatory, and controlling--have people pass them on from generation to generation; watch the fictions mutate as they pass from person to person over the decades that become centuries; watch the tales spread and compete against other fictions as the people spread and compete. It's the rise of religion.

In other words: it's easy to conceive of the origin of deities lying in the fictitious tales of various early peoples. It doesn't take any extraordinary hypothesis--nor extraordinary trust--it's just humans being humans. It would be an extraordinary hypothesis to propose that one of the fictions was true, and that amongst all the fictions with deities some extraordinary humans--or divine intervention--weeded out and preserved the true story to the present day. Believers can assume divine intervention, but "divine intervention" is a self-serving claim that does not particularly help non-believers distinguish between any particular religion. Not to mention the divine cannot be assumed before belief is granted.

Thus, in examining a religion, the non-believer is faced with the first question I mentioned, but now about a very specific group of people (the inhabitants of the area where the religion was founded); along with whether to grant an extraordinary hypothesis (that the divine exists and is tied to that religion). This is about one's epistemic principles, and one's trust and knowledge regarding a particular people. Faith does not factor in; it is visible that belief in a religion and corresponding deity is not a special "choice of faith" belief that affects moral weight. Of course, religions could attach moral weight to anything; but invoking that ability would make the discussion ridiculous, so I'm assuming their infinite morality license is not in effect.

...actually, now that I pumped out that spiel, I realized there is a question of morality. Two. There's the general issue of morality in holding proper epistemic principles. And there's the practical--and therefore moral--implication of evaluating and/or acting on a belief x in light of the evaluated probability of error. These aren't really religion-specific questions though, and any discussion of them will probably go waaay off topic. This post can only sum up possible moral obligations from a non-believing perspective as contrast.

Huh. I wrote way too much. Felt like writing, I guess.
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby achan1058 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:32 pm UTC

I say we are morally obligated to believe in FSM. Clearly Christians don't, so they are immoral. In regards to the whole heaven and hell thing, who knows whether heaven is really hell and hell is really heaven?

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Coffee Stain » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:41 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:I say we are morally obligated to believe in FSM. Clearly Christians don't, so they are immoral. In regards to the whole heaven and hell thing, who knows whether heaven is really hell and hell is really heaven?

And the Christians are down for the count!

Greyarcher wrote:
Spoiler:
Malice wrote:But a disbelief in God is not because you forgot that God existed, or that you were never aware that he existed; it's a deliberate choice that we make to accept the evidence of God's existence or deny it. It's a choice whether or not to have faith, essentially. As such, unlike most false beliefs, it is possible to attach moral weight to it.
I disagree, the question of God for non-believers is not a matter of faith. Indeed, when you break it down, God fits largely into the same category as all "knowledge of deities"; while there is a question of trust, it's not really a matter of faith. Regarding the whole business of the origin of "knowledge of deities", it's more a matter of "Do you trust the folks who lived thousands of years ago--before the advances of scientific knowledge and spread of public education in recent centuries--do you trust them to have a strong commitment to truth and knowledge, and an appropriate amount of skepticism towards incredible claims?"

Naturally, I don't trust such a thing. Rather, I suspect that people in early ages told false tales--fictions--and that they didn't bother to precisely disclaim each tale with "This isn't really true". Tall tales told for entertainment likely became rumored truths or folk legends; stories were seen to sway people, and so some people crafted instructive fictions to teach, while other people crafted manipulative fictions to control. Some were bound together with fictions to explain the vast world of which they were ignorant. And in some of these fictions are deities; these fictions, along with these deities, swayed the people and became "truth".

Tie some the various types of fictions together--the instructive, explanatory, and controlling--have people pass them on from generation to generation; watch the fictions mutate as they pass from person to person over the decades that become centuries; watch the tales spread and compete against other fictions as the people spread and compete. It's the rise of religion.

In other words: it's easy to conceive of the origin of deities lying in the fictitious tales of various early peoples. It doesn't take any extraordinary hypothesis--nor extraordinary trust--it's just humans being humans. It would be an extraordinary hypothesis to propose that one of the fictions was true, and that amongst all the fictions with deities some extraordinary humans--or divine intervention--weeded out and preserved the true story to the present day. Believers can assume divine intervention, but "divine intervention" is a self-serving claim that does not particularly help non-believers distinguish between any particular religion. Not to mention the divine cannot be assumed before belief is granted.

Thus, in examining a religion, the non-believer is faced with the first question I mentioned, but now about a very specific group of people (the inhabitants of the area where the religion was founded); along with whether to grant an extraordinary hypothesis (that the divine exists and is tied to that religion). This is about one's epistemic principles, and one's trust and knowledge regarding a particular people. Faith does not factor in; it is visible that belief in a religion and corresponding deity is not a special "choice of faith" belief that affects moral weight. Of course, religions could attach moral weight to anything; but invoking that ability would make the discussion ridiculous, so I'm assuming their infinite morality license is not in effect.

...actually, now that I pumped out that spiel, I realized there is a question of morality. Two. There's the general issue of morality in holding proper epistemic principles. And there's the practical--and therefore moral--implication of evaluating and/or acting on a belief x in light of the evaluated probability of error. These aren't really religion-specific questions though, and any discussion of them will probably go waaay off topic. This post can only sum up possible moral obligations from a non-believing perspective as contrast.

Huh. I wrote way too much. Felt like writing, I guess.

An interesting post; indeed, the non-believing perspective is of importance.

The Christian (or perhaps theist) idea, I think, for why we should use the word 'faith' vs. 'trust,' is that indeed faith implies belief with a lack of evidence, although perhaps not a total lack. I'll frame this as a separate issue from the plausible rejection of all religions due to likely Naturalistic explanations for their origins. The belief that there exists a religion that could be true is a hugely different prior than the belief that all are likely false, and leads to an entirely different system for picking a particular religion from the masses. I could envision philosophical principles will lead a system with such priors to necessitate different religions, even through valid reasoning, and even if based on priors of unknown soundness. From this, I think the objection that there are too many religions to pick from is a poor one; believing otherwise doesn't absolve any believer from picking the correct one, or from appropriately assigning an uncertain probability to the one that is picked if the evidence should suggest it.

On the subject of faith, I start with the suggestion that it is not always morally required to believe only that appears to be the most likely. Indeed, if believing that which is less likely allows one to come out of doing with more knowledge to make a further and better determination, we could even say that such faith would be morally laudable. If such a faith existed, and this wholly depending on such a fact, the set of actions that in the end produce the most justified proposition includes such a faith.

Many Christians indeed believe that such a faith exists. I relate this to Craig's statement, "But when we understand the fullness of the nature of God, then we see that while we have the ability to reject God’s love and so separate ourselves from Him forever, that does not imply that there are no consequences of such a choice." This could perhaps be stated a bit more conditionally as "If we understand the fullness of the nature of God, and we see that while we have the ability to reject God's love and so separate ourselves from Him forever, this implies there are consequences of such a choice." I suggest that the statement itself (the conditional relation) is certainly possible; it's usefulness is dependent on the condition. Christians believe that it is possible to ascertain the validity of the condition through actions that constitute an amount of faith; Craig may believe that he has personally done so. The implication is that Philosophy is (if indeed the Christians are correct and God is a personal one) inseparably distinct from the Philosopher; that the only set of actions that produce more correct belief is not equivalent to forming future propositions solely from the individual's (that is, the Philosopher's personal set of) present propositions.
Last edited by Coffee Stain on Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:29 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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FosterDulles
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby FosterDulles » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:40 pm UTC

Coffee Stain wrote:A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.


I think most of the people who have responded to me are making the mistake of thinking that I'm arguing the logic behind this statement, and thus are attempting to show me why the statment is logical. That's not what I'm arguing. What I'm arguing is that whatever this particular argument's merits, that doesn't mean that anyone believes it. A statement can be perfectly logical in nature, but no one is in any way obligated to accept it as a tennent of faith. Either they believe it or they don't - you can't just construct a syllogism from a couple of other beliefs and then ascribe it to the other side - things don't work that way.

If you ask most Christians the question "is a sin done in ignorance a sin?" they will answer no. There are also plenty of Evangelical Christians that I have met who will argue that individuals who have never been exposed to the gospel do not go to hell when they die. Not a biblically supported belief, but a belief all the same. I don't think that most Christians see this in the black and white terms that you ascribe to them.

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Coffee Stain
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Coffee Stain » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:54 pm UTC

FosterDulles wrote:
Coffee Stain wrote:A common belief is that it is immoral to believe that which is false; if one also believes that God exists, it seems natural to suggest that not having that belief is immoral.
If you ask most Christians the question "is a sin done in ignorance a sin?" they will answer no. There are also plenty of Evangelical Christians that I have met who will argue that individuals who have never been exposed to the gospel do not go to hell when they die. Not a biblically supported belief, but a belief all the same. I don't think that most Christians see this in the black and white terms that you ascribe to them.

I hope I've done as well as I could to make statements about the nature of Christian beliefs without generalizing it to actual Christians. At a certain point it's just useful to say "Christians believe X" for the means of stating that X is representative of historically or philosophically Christian ideas.

When I responded to you there, I was suggesting that what the fellow in the OP is saying isn't terribly out there if you actually approach the question from a Christian perspective (or something like it). My 2nd paragraph which begins "More often, though ... we" is meant to include Christians in the "we," since they are indeed part of the conversation, and may also find my first statement (the one you quoted) less useful. Self-identified Christians are certainly apt to disagree with me if they wish.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Matsi » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

Malice wrote:But a disbelief in God is not because you forgot that God existed, or that you were never aware that he existed; it's a deliberate choice that we make to accept the evidence of God's existence or deny it. It's a choice whether or not to have faith, essentially. As such, unlike most false beliefs, it is possible to attach moral weight to it.


It is not by choice that I am an agnostic atheist. It is because there are people that believe god(s) exist I am an agnostic atheist. For me, there is no real choice if I have to decide between accepting something purely on faith or actually needing some evidence before i believe something.

I really resent having to take any position here, as my natural position would be to not ever having thought about it. But since we have had millenia of belief in gods (so this is not some fad i can dismiss without some conscious effort, especially since it keeps coming up) I am forced to decide that I can only be an agnostic atheist.

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I OWN A BOOKSTORE... do you wanna be my friend?

Postby SmurfPappaKilla » Mon Sep 06, 2010 6:13 am UTC

The common name for this type of person is "Christian-Apologist." But I like to call them "Neo-Christians" or "Progressive Christians." They have nice degrees from the right places; occasionally they are involved in academia directly. Invariably, they will be a middle to upper-middle class white person with an automobile of foreign make. Typically, and contrary to conventional wisdom, they vote slightly Democrat over Republican.

Do not make personal dinner plans with them – though larger group gatherings are acceptable. And as you probably already deduced from a label that mashes the words “Christian” with “progressive,” these people can be horrifically obnoxious in discourse. They are usually well-read: politics, at least one science - most commonly Biology, some philosophy, but especially within the Theological, Pseudo-intellectual/philosophical sub-genre.

In the bookstore I own, we actually have a section labeled that (obviously, some of the words are abbreviated to make it fit the on the card). That's where I put books by authors like Francis Collins, C.S. Lewis' nonfiction, Rick Warren, everything in the "Religion" category at a normal bookstore, etc. Also, "Eat, Pray, Love."

If you are genuinely religious, this section is the place for you (however, you may have to search a bit for your specific religion as I just clump them all together randomly. Trust me, it's all pretty much the same stuff anyways.)

If you are not religious, some of these books may also be enjoyed ironically.

If you are a Christian in the former group, William Lane Craig - with mountains of published works - is one of the authors you will quote endlessly when confronted with rationalist-arguments against religion. You will use a tone that suggests William Lane Greg, or someone like William Lane Craig, has already thought of elegant responses to the typical critiques of common provocateurs like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens.

But if you are in the latter group, there is a not-insignificant chance you will ultimately reveal yourself to be a pretentious neurotic, or a hopeless malcontent jack@ss . However, there is also a chance you do fun things, and have good taste in music and a delightful sense of humor with hair that smells like spring breeze and thus I would like to proposition my friendship. (Oh... did my verbal propositioning of friendship make you not want to be friends? Ahh yes, the hair thing too? Gotchya.)

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Re: I OWN A BOOKSTORE... do you wanna be my friend?

Postby mercuryseven » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:15 pm UTC

SmurfPappaKilla wrote:The common name for this type of person is "Christian-Apologist." But I like to call them "Neo-Christians" or "Progressive Christians." They have nice degrees from the right places; occasionally they are involved in academia directly. Invariably, they will be a middle to upper-middle class white person with an automobile of foreign make. Typically, and contrary to conventional wisdom, they vote slightly Democrat over Republican.


So someone actually collected data of Christian apologists on a table, with separate columns on their race, annual salary, automobile preference and political affiliation?

SmurfPappaKilla
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Re: I OWN A BOOKSTORE... do you wanna be my friend?

Postby SmurfPappaKilla » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

mercuryseven wrote:
SmurfPappaKilla wrote:The common name for this type of person is "Christian-Apologist." But I like to call them "Neo-Christians" or "Progressive Christians." They have nice degrees from the right places; occasionally they are involved in academia directly. Invariably, they will be a middle to upper-middle class white person with an automobile of foreign make. Typically, and contrary to conventional wisdom, they vote slightly Democrat over Republican.


So someone actually collected data of Christian apologists on a table, with separate columns on their race, annual salary, automobile preference and political affiliation?


Yes.

invisibl
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby invisibl » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:15 pm UTC

God said we are made in his image and likeness
God said we have free choice
to have an obligation is to remove free choice
naughty christian dude
God will be pissed.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Kyrn » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:34 am UTC

invisibl wrote:God said we are made in his image and likeness
God said we have free choice
to have an obligation is to remove free choice
naughty christian dude
God will be pissed.

Morals != lack of free choice. Just an FYI.
I am NOT a snake.

Opinions discussed are not necessarily the opinions of the people discussing them.

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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:54 am UTC

I'll try to be much more succinct with this post. :lol:

Coffee Stain wrote:The Christian (or perhaps theist) idea, I think, for why we should use the word 'faith' vs. 'trust,' is that indeed faith implies belief with a lack of evidence, although perhaps not a total lack. I'll frame this as a separate issue from the plausible rejection of all religions due to likely Naturalistic explanations for their origins. The belief that there exists a religion that could be true is a hugely different prior than the belief that all are likely false, and leads to an entirely different system for picking a particular religion from the masses.
It's not so much that "all are likely false", but that choosing one religion often implies--or even necessitates--a belief that all other deities are false. But what if we then try and explain the origin of the stories and belief in these other [false] deities? It seems that such an explanation would tell a story about humans that would naturally account for and discredit one's own deity as well.

I agree, "faith" has the connotations you mentioned, and is closely tied to religious belief. That is partially why I used "trust"--because it does not give special, favorable conditions to religious belief, but judges it impartially like other beliefs.* Also, "trust" is more about people than the divine. It's about judging humans and whether their character and testimony may be trusted ('They said, "A god spoke to Bob"; is it reasonable to trust them, or are they too credulous?'). This is a bit troublesome when we don't personally know the humans in question, and even more problematic when we consider that across the world humans may have created fictional deities that acquired countless believers.

*If we place importance on "what is true" or "what should be believed" then we should not compromise our principles when it comes to evaluating religious belief. However, the phrase "what should be believed" might lead someone to invoke a train of thought like Pascal's Wager.
Wager-style thoughts try to play to our hopes and fears. Admittedly, if we find a religion a little plausible, Wager-style thoughts may push us towards it. But this is just a disingenuous attempt to bypass reasonable skepticism with stories of great rewards and/or punishments. It should be given no credit, since random events may be interpreted as providence, and promised rewards/punishments often come after death and thus cannot even be confirmed.


.....so much for brevity! :roll:
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

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Coffee Stain
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Re: Christian claims we are morally obligated to believe in

Postby Coffee Stain » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:12 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:
Spoiler:
I'll try to be much more succinct with this post. :lol:

Coffee Stain wrote:The Christian (or perhaps theist) idea, I think, for why we should use the word 'faith' vs. 'trust,' is that indeed faith implies belief with a lack of evidence, although perhaps not a total lack. I'll frame this as a separate issue from the plausible rejection of all religions due to likely Naturalistic explanations for their origins. The belief that there exists a religion that could be true is a hugely different prior than the belief that all are likely false, and leads to an entirely different system for picking a particular religion from the masses.
It's not so much that "all are likely false", but that choosing one religion often implies--or even necessitates--a belief that all other deities are false. But what if we then try and explain the origin of the stories and belief in these other [false] deities? It seems that such an explanation would tell a story about humans that would naturally account for and discredit one's own deity as well.

I agree, "faith" has the connotations you mentioned, and is closely tied to religious belief. That is partially why I used "trust"--because it does not give special, favorable conditions to religious belief, but judges it impartially like other beliefs.* Also, "trust" is more about people than the divine. It's about judging humans and whether their character and testimony may be trusted ('They said, "A god spoke to Bob"; is it reasonable to trust them, or are they too credulous?'). This is a bit troublesome when we don't personally know the humans in question, and even more problematic when we consider that across the world humans may have created fictional deities that acquired countless believers.

*If we place importance on "what is true" or "what should be believed" then we should not compromise our principles when it comes to evaluating religious belief. However, the phrase "what should be believed" might lead someone to invoke a train of thought like Pascal's Wager.
Wager-style thoughts try to play to our hopes and fears. Admittedly, if we find a religion a little plausible, Wager-style thoughts may push us towards it. But this is just a disingenuous attempt to bypass reasonable skepticism with stories of great rewards and/or punishments. It should be given no credit, since random events may be interpreted as providence, and promised rewards/punishments often come after death and thus cannot even be confirmed.

.....so much for brevity! :roll:

Yeah, it happens :) . I've gone and done the same thing as you I think.

The link is to my reply in The Religion Thread, since this is becoming less about Bill Craig and more about religion in general.


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