Moments that validated God's (in whatever way you want to define him) existence to you.

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I'm an atheist, but I was discussing this topic with my VERY christian father and I just wanted to bring up something I mentioned to him here. The apparent validation of a prayer or request, general feelings of well being, incredible positive events, as far as I can tell having talked to people of many different faiths, are not exclusive to one religion. Essentially, each religion explains the other's events as simply them attributing good things in life to their god, when the same argument is made against them. As a principle, I would say then that therefore these extraordinary moments would not validate any particular religion, but could possible give credence to the idea that one of them might be right. However, here emerges a problem. Most regions that claim these moments occur believe that their deity (I'm most familiar with the judao-christian god, but others have the same issue) has a plan encompassing all of time and space. But at the same time, they hold the belief that their requests (either conscious prayers or subconscious requests) are being fielded and responded to by said diety. This means one of two things. Either 1. Their request's intended outcome was part of their god's plan all along, and therefore their prayers were irrelevant to the proceedings, or 2. God does not actually have a plan, and runs his favors like a vending machine that pays out randomly in small intervals, with no apparent logic. Neither of these is consistent with the doctrines of these religions, but they don't seem to have a problem with it. I'd like to here how people personally rectify this inconsistency, as my father couldn't answer the question.

Silvanus:

andrewfox:
Again, my belief is and always has been, EVERYONE has, is and will be born with an innate sense of Christ.

Just a non-aggressive question, and I don't intend to cause any offence;

Do you believe this also applies to those billions who, throughout history, had never heard of Jesus Christ?

This is a false statement.

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

The Bible is perfectly clear that everyone since creation has "heard" of Christ.

Make no mistake, the choice you make is NOT "Do I believe in Christ?" Christ is real and very much alive. He does not require your belief to exist.

The choice is "Do I ACCEPT Christ?".

andrewfox:
The choice is "Do I ACCEPT Christ?".

Most don't because they were not born in a majority Christian culture and/or not to Christian parents.

Also, cut the presuppositionalism. It's laughably weak argumentation since it usually boils down to "but you already know; I know you do; you know I know you do..." etc.. Not to mention you're using a Bible passage to argue for the validity of the Bible, which is circular reasoning.

If it helps you sleep at night to believe this about the billions of nonbelievers, fine, but don't expect to be taken seriously for espousing presuppositionalism. If your goal was to convince people of Christ's divinity (or, from your point of view I guess, get them to accept Christ's divinity that they supposedly already know everything about), be prepared for massive, unending failure with that approach.

The moment the High Priest of R'lyeh raped my dreams and invaded my heart, that was when I knew we weren't alone. It was a true epiphany. O, Old Ones, I will never doubt you. Well, you wouldn't know unless you saw it for yourself (damn ye if you do!), oh Lovecraft was a prophet.

andrewfox:

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

The Bible is perfectly clear that everyone since creation has "heard" of Christ.

Make no mistake, the choice you make is NOT "Do I believe in Christ?" Christ is real and very much alive. He does not require your belief to exist.

The choice is "Do I ACCEPT Christ?".

Well first of all it says god and not Jesus, but I guess that's a completely different philosophical debate.

Anyway, if someone born in the Egyptian Empire had a divine experience they would certainly not have thought about Christianity (especially since even the Old Testament wouldn't come around for another 1000 years). Most of those born into another culture would rather associate it with the religious system they were brought up in, not some obscure other one they might not even have heard of.
Is it really fair of a just god to condemn the entire Korowai people because for thousands of years their religious experiences have led them to ancestor worship rather than Christianity, of which they could have only heard a maximum of 40 years ago?

andrewfox:

This is a false statement.

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

The Bible is perfectly clear that everyone since creation has "heard" of Christ.

Quite aside from what Skeleon brought up (which were all valid points), this passage also says that people "know" of God because of the world around them.

This says nothing of Christ, and isn't exclusive to the Christian deity, either. Many thousands saw that same evidence and ascribed it to Atum, Odin & Ymir, or Ometeotl. That bible passage itself claims nothing exclusive to Christianity.

...Even putting that aside, if people are born with knowledge of Christ and the God of the Bible, why do you think, of all the millions to whom Christianity was brought (for example, by the North American settlers, or by the Spanish in South America)... why did none of them, not one, recall that they already knew it? There is not a single case of that happening.

andrewfox:

Silvanus:

andrewfox:
Again, my belief is and always has been, EVERYONE has, is and will be born with an innate sense of Christ.

Just a non-aggressive question, and I don't intend to cause any offence;

Do you believe this also applies to those billions who, throughout history, had never heard of Jesus Christ?

This is a false statement.

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

The Bible is perfectly clear that everyone since creation has "heard" of Christ.

Make no mistake, the choice you make is NOT "Do I believe in Christ?" Christ is real and very much alive. He does not require your belief to exist.

The choice is "Do I ACCEPT Christ?".

Arguably one could make a distinction between God and Christ. Even assuming a priori knowledge of a creator it does not follow that one must be familiar with any specific avatar of that being, or of the significance of it's sacrifice. Especially what with us experiencing time linearly and this event taking place after the deaths of most of the people to have ever lived.

Also, existence independent of belief is not at all the same as 'knowing'. America existed whether Europeans believed there was a continent to the west or not. It didn't mean they knew about it, or that they didn't have a choice in believing the tales of the crazy vikings promising a green new land.

OP, doesn't it strike you as a bit narcissistic that in spite of all the doctors, nurses, medicine and other hospital resources that contributed to your son's survival, you've concluded the real hero was yourself for pleading with God (who, if we assign him the amount of agency you do, is also responsible for the heart defect and premature birth that necessitated intervention)?

It just seems silly you feel the hospital and "medicine kicking in" played such a negligible part in that ordeal as to be relegated to background; especially considering you were ready to give God a mulligan if your son did die for being so gracious as to let you see him first. Hospital error and other sources of blame exist, obviously, but doctors actually syccessfully doing their job is deemed divine blessing.

Why bother with hospitals at all if it boils down to whether or not God favors you? The efficacy of prayer is like diet pills that only work by the user watching their calorie intake and exercising...

Everyones already quote bombed the pretty inflammatory comment so ill refrain from adding to the pile. I just appreciate the neatness of a world view that is summarized as "People who agree with me" and "liars". Everyone KNOWS im right. They are just lying that they disagree because they are arrogant/angry/idiots. Theres no room for discussion because none is necessary. There are NO dissenting views. THERE IS ONE OPINION ONLY. ONE OPINION AND LIARS. DO NOT PRETEND TO DISSENT. (Ultra creepy much?) I mean seriously denying that the people who disagree with you even EXIST is narcissistic to the point of insanity. Why talk to anyone about anything ever. The bible tells you what i think and say and it does to everyone else apparently. Human interaction is a waste of time if you can use a book to know my inner most thoughts and feelings. Why even come to discuss anything when no discussion is possible since theres only ONE uniform view and the liars who pretend to not have it.

Anyway I just got back from church camp for a week that i went to for my girlfriend so i feel the need to express my atheism in some way after spending 4 hours a day for a week singing prayers plus another 1 talking about jesus. Frankly the total lack of connection to any "higher power" during this time makes me feel pretty confident in my atheism. This stuff frankly doesnt work. I feel happy singing the fun songs (I appreciate latin to a degree so that was nice) and the community made me feel rather comfortable but every feeling I felt was one i can touch in a secular way and do on a regular basis. There wasnt any unique experience. Ergo its fairly unnecessary for me to access these feelings in this way since i can manage it perfectly fine without the ritual.

I will attempt to answer all of your comments with the best Biblical accuracy I can ascribe. Some things before we start.

1. I will interchange God, Jesus, and Christ.
2. I will attempt to answer excluding my own opinion. As the only opinion that matters is Christ's.

Skeleon:
Also, cut the presuppositionalism. It's laughably weak argumentation since it usually boils down to "but you already know; I know you do; you know I know you do..." etc.. Not to mention you're using a Bible passage to argue for the validity of the Bible, which is circular reasoning.

Christianity IS circular reasoning. I believe in Christ because the Bible tells me so. It's that simple.

In more depth, the Bible is not a tool for proving that Christ exists. Rather, the Bible takes the stance that the reader already KNOWS that God is real.

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

The Bible begins with the truth that there already is a God and that He supersedes time.

Secondly, the Bible is God. Both literal and figuratively.

John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

In other words, with my inherent knowledge of Christ, and knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, I believe everything in the Bible to be true as God is good and cannot be evil as that would oppose His nature.

Quaxar:

Is it really fair of a just god to condemn the entire Korowai people because for thousands of years their religious experiences have led them to ancestor worship rather than Christianity, of which they could have only heard a maximum of 40 years ago?

The passage is crystal clear that ALL of man, since birth, know that God (through the belief in Jesus Christ) is the one true God.

When someone responds to these instincts and "visual aids" and truly reaches out to God, God will make sure that person understands his or her need for Christ.

If one looks to the heavens or to nature around him and wonders, "Where did this come from?" or "Is there more to this world than what I see?" then he has knowledge of God. God will make a way for that person, tribe, or nation to get answers and to hear about His plan of salvation which provides what God requires through Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

John even a glimpse of heaven, where he saw people "from every tribe and language and people from every nation" (Revelation 5:9).

The bottom line: God is obviously able to reveal the truth about himself to anyone, anywhere.

Silvanus:

...Even putting that aside, if people are born with knowledge of Christ and the God of the Bible, why do you think, of all the millions to whom Christianity was brought (for example, by the North American settlers, or by the Spanish in South America)... why did none of them, not one, recall that they already knew it? There is not a single case of that happening.

See above.

You see, that's the folly of humanity. Man's rebellion against God.

A small story.

In Jesus's time, the Rabbi were considered the most highly respected individuals. The studied what was the Bible back then for years and years. Yet, they rejected Christ.

John 8. Verse 19, "Then they said unto Him, Where is Thy Father?" He was talking about the fact that God was His Father. "Where is Thy Father? Jesus answered; 'Ye neither know Me nor My Father. If you'd known Me, you should have known My Father also.'"

They claim to know God, very religious, tremendously religious. And Jesus says you don't know God. He's not your Father at all. You're of your father the devil. You have no knowledge of God whatever or you would know Me and you would honor Me as God.

Typical of man's approach to religion. He postulates a god who doesn't exist, worships that god and then says he worships God when in fact he's an atheist.

Romans 1:21

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

This is false religion.

TLDR:

Men who enter the world are born in rebellion against God but with an innate knowledge that God exists. Men know the truth of God. Man willingly rejects the truth of God. He rejects God and Christ not because of ignorance but because of malice, because of evil, because of wickedness, because he loves the darkness rather than the light.

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

Romans 1:21

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

andrewfox:
Snip of Biblical Proportions

Before you discuss this anymore, you need to realize that quoting the Bible is not, in any way shape or form, supporting your argument or providing evidence for your view. The Bible is only the undisputed work of absolute truth to people who believe that it is; it's just a book of stories to everyone else. Trying to argue the validity of the Bible, by quoting it with the implication that it is infallible, will just make you look foolish, fanatical, and naive.

andrewfox:

John 8. Verse 19, "Then they said unto Him, Where is Thy Father?" He was talking about the fact that God was His Father. "Where is Thy Father? Jesus answered; 'Ye neither know Me nor My Father. If you'd known Me, you should have known My Father also.'"

Ah, I think you're slightly mistaken, here.

Prose Edda, p18; "Then High answered, 'the sons of Bor were once walking along the seashore and found two trees. They lifted the logs and from them created people. The first son gave them breath and life; the second, intelligence and movement; the third, form, speech, hearing and sight... from them came mankind and they were given a home behind Midgard's wall".

So, you see, mankind truly owes its existence to the sons of Bor, the first generation of Aesir. You already knew this, of course; all people innately know the truth of the Aesir. Why do you rebel against this truth?

andrewfox:

Quaxar:

Is it really fair of a just god to condemn the entire Korowai people because for thousands of years their religious experiences have led them to ancestor worship rather than Christianity, of which they could have only heard a maximum of 40 years ago?

The passage is crystal clear that ALL of man, since birth, know that God (through the belief in Jesus Christ) is the one true God.

When someone responds to these instincts and "visual aids" and truly reaches out to God, God will make sure that person understands his or her need for Christ.

If one looks to the heavens or to nature around him and wonders, "Where did this come from?" or "Is there more to this world than what I see?" then he has knowledge of God. God will make a way for that person, tribe, or nation to get answers and to hear about His plan of salvation which provides what God requires through Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

John even a glimpse of heaven, where he saw people "from every tribe and language and people from every nation" (Revelation 5:9).

The bottom line: God is obviously able to reveal the truth about himself to anyone, anywhere.

But Romans is a collection of letters by the Apostle Paul chosen to be included in the New Testament in the Councils of Nicaea - actually it's probably not even by him but let's keep with the official church story. It's not necessary a representation of the teachings of Jesus Christ, like 1 Corinthians 10:10's ridiculous apparent hate of murmuring.

Although Paul gives a pretty good justification for his teachings in Galatians 1:8 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
I guess we better just do what he says, don't make them accurse you.

Anyway, "crystal clear" is a bit of a debateable point, first of all because it doesn't say a word of "through Christ" so that might as well make everyone Jewish (especially since they are supposed to be the chosen people). And secondly I don't think any tribe ever had any kind of access to Christian teaching before the arrival of missionaries, to say that millions of peoples all independently chose to consciously ignore the Christian/Jewish god in favor of their own rituals and systems is kind of a presumptuous claim.

BiscuitTrouser:
Anyway I just got back from church camp for a week that i went to for my girlfriend so i feel the need to express my atheism in some way after spending 4 hours a day for a week singing prayers plus another 1 talking about jesus.

Not sure why this sounds so creepy. Maybe because I recently saw the terrifying Jesus Camp documentary.

andrewfox:
Christianity IS circular reasoning. I believe in Christ because the Bible tells me so. It's that simple.

It indeed is very simple.

Rather, the Bible takes the stance that the reader already KNOWS that God is real.

Yes, and that is why it fails.
See, what the Bible says is irrelevant to people who don't even believe what the Bible says is true.
I know your approach claims that such people don't really exist, but that doesn't matter. While it's kind of insulting that your branch of apologetics basically accuses every dissenter of either being in denial or being an outright liar, it's also the reason why your branch of apologetics is so unsuccessful in convincing anybody.
It foregoes actual argumentation in favour of accusations of "You know it's true, admit it!".

Secondly, the Bible is God. Both literal and figuratively.

This is interesting because it comes close to idolatry.
In fact, some preachers make a point of ripping apart Bibles: It's not the Bible that matters. It's God. The Bible is just the words. It's just a flawed record that humans wrote, inspired by their god, perhaps, but it's not what's important. God is.
But then that's just one of many different interpretations. The vast difference among which is another reason to remain unconvinced in my view.

As a kid I did believe. I even wore my mother's rosary (which... you're not actually supposed to do, but I had no idea of the meaning of it, I just thought it was pretty).

I'd say my belief was invalidated by a lack of validation. I never experienced anything, ever.

Were I more cynical I would say the recent, miserable, suffering death of my grandfather would be my validation there is no god, at least no god that gives a damn. How could such a being justify letting a man who may have been flawed but devoted the last 10-15 years of his life to charity and religion? But no, by then my disbelief was already long-cemented.

If one exists, it is either a complete asshole, or completely aloof. It is not worthy of respect, let alone worship. All we can rely on is each other. One pair of hands put to work does more good than a thousand clasped in prayer.

As a child I held some conservative/christian beliefs that completely contradicted what everyone else around me believed. And I have never had any regular contact with religious people. In retrospect I find that quite fascinating.

andrewfox:
-snip-

I think I like you.

Occasionally my friends and I will say "checkmate, atheists" when something particularly fun or outrageous happens, but I don't think moments of validation are a real thing people should be looking for.

The idea that we can percieve the difference between an event with God's guidance and an event without is one of the very reasons why atheists are so very, very wrong to be as obnoxious as they are. God existing in one particular thing is just a self-contradicting viewpoint. One must equally accept that God is in all events, not just the ones that stand out, or they are believing in outright lies, and nobody wants a lie as their validation for something.

Skeleon:

While it's kind of insulting that your branch of apologetics basically accuses every dissenter of either being in denial or being an outright liar, it's also the reason why your branch of apologetics is so unsuccessful in convincing anybody.

To be fair, how does an atheist view religion?

tstorm823:

Skeleon:

While it's kind of insulting that your branch of apologetics basically accuses every dissenter of either being in denial or being an outright liar, it's also the reason why your branch of apologetics is so unsuccessful in convincing anybody.

To be fair, how does an atheist view religion?

Atheist here. I view religion as a personal decision which each person must evaluate for themselves. Religion is not for me - I can't bring myself to give up rationality - but my best friend thinks her religion is beautiful and fulfilling, and I wish her happiness in following it. Peoples' beliefs don't have to be provable to have a real, positive impact on their lives. I would never claim that everyone is born with innate knowledge of naturalism and religious people simply choose to ignore the obvious truth. That's pretty condescending.

tstorm823:

To be fair, how does an atheist view religion?

I think religious people actually believe what they think with a pure conscience and without being evil. I dont think them dishonest, or liars or anything else. I think their personal experience has moulded them to become and accept different things from me. Which is fine as long as they understand their personal experience isnt a good reason for me to believe or accept anything at all.

Not to mention heres what he said about those who are lying about their given faith:

"He rejects God and Christ not because of ignorance but because of malice, because of evil, because of wickedness, because he loves the darkness rather than the light."

Its the all atheists are evil baby eaters speil. Only the most douchebaggery living under a rock atheist will believe this in reverse. Five freaking seconds outside will tell you this isnt true. Ive legitimately never heard "All religious people are evil" like outright "evil evil". Ive heard "Religious peoples morality is tainted by the threat of punishment when it should be an ultruistic from within feeling" which is somewhat annoying and i think (most of the time) untrue but at least it's based on some sort of rational argument. "ALL of X is evil" though is just outright wrong. Im sure youve heard atheists say this though. Maybe one or two. I imagine its more commonly "Religion is evil" as opposed to "The religious are ALL 100% evil no exceptions" since the latter is so obviously false you would have to be an outright fool to believe it.

Sorry to butt in, just wanted to address this as no one else seems to have:

TheCommanders:
...This means one of two things. Either 1. Their request's intended outcome was part of their god's plan all along, and therefore their prayers were irrelevant to the proceedings, or 2. God does not actually have a plan, and runs his favors like a vending machine that pays out randomly in small intervals, with no apparent logic... I'd like to here how people personally rectify this inconsistency, as my father couldn't answer the question.

While you've certainly identified something important, you might have missed the third option there - which is actually addressed in the Bible, and is explained as the reason for the existence of prayer itself.

Though we love to view God as a utterly benevolent Father, and some might even argue that this view holds true for the most part, upon introducing himself he made it very clear that he's actually not. If the fire and brimstone part stuff didn't make that clear, he literally introduced himself as:

"I the LORD thy God am a jealous God" - Exodus 20:5

Prayer, strangely enough, falls into this aspect. The third option that I feel you missed is that the request itself was actually irrelevant, the important part was merely that a request was made - as this is an act of faith and reliance on God. God want's his followers to rely on him, as it shows their faith and dedication to him.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" - Ephesians 2:8

God is described as the source of good and righteousness, and so dedication to God is the pursuit of good and righteousness. The logical inconstancy you mentioned is real, but it only occurs when the result of the prayer request - such as receiving money - is observed as the intended goal of prayer, instead of the reliance on God. And if one believes prayer is real and actually has an impact, then reliance on God would be their goal.

Keep in mind the Christian faith often speaks about "God's plan", and that one of the chief goals of the Christian faith is to acknowledge that God "knows best". While one can pray to God, in fact the Bible actually states that Christians should present their requests to the Lord expecting, the goal of prayer as stated in the Bible is to bring about God's plan or to enable the person praying to better serve God and his plan.
Therefore, while one can present their requests to God, God is only obligated to respond in service of his plan - hence the whole "He works in mysterious ways" thing. If one is praying honestly, one would be acknowledging that God knows best and so God's will being done is the ultimate goal, and so he would respond in service of that goal. If one is not praying, one isn't reliant on God, and so God's will is not your ultimate goal - thus he is not obligated to respond.

Take that as you will.

Captcha: unlimited wishes. Ladies and gentlemen, once again the almighty Captcha has provided the answer to an ages old question.

Zeh Don:

TheCommanders:
...This means one of two things. Either 1. Their request's intended outcome was part of their god's plan all along, and therefore their prayers were irrelevant to the proceedings, or 2. God does not actually have a plan, and runs his favors like a vending machine that pays out randomly in small intervals, with no apparent logic... I'd like to here how people personally rectify this inconsistency, as my father couldn't answer the question.

While you've certainly identified something important, you might have missed the third option there - which is actually addressed in the Bible, and is explained as the reason for the existence of prayer itself.

Though we love to view God as a utterly benevolent Father, and some might even argue that this view holds true for the most part, upon introducing himself he made it very clear that he's actually not. If the fire and brimstone part stuff didn't make that clear, he literally introduced himself as:

"I the LORD thy God am a jealous God" - Exodus 20:5

Prayer, strangely enough, falls into this aspect. The third option that I feel you missed is that the request itself was actually irrelevant, the important part was merely that a request was made - as this is an act of faith and reliance on God. God want's his followers to rely on him, as it shows their faith and dedication to him.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" - Ephesians 2:8

God is described as the source of good and righteousness, and so dedication to God is the pursuit of good and righteousness. The logical inconstancy you mentioned is real, but it only occurs when the result of the prayer request - such as receiving money - is observed as the intended goal of prayer, instead of the reliance on God. And if one believes prayer is real and actually has an impact, then reliance on God would be their goal.

Keep in mind the Christian faith often speaks about "God's plan", and that one of the chief goals of the Christian faith is to acknowledge that God "knows best". While one can pray to God, in fact the Bible actually states that Christians should present their requests to the Lord expecting, the goal of prayer as stated in the Bible is to bring about God's plan or to enable the person praying to better serve God and his plan.
Therefore, while one can present their requests to God, God is only obligated to respond in service of his plan - hence the whole "He works in mysterious ways" thing. If one is praying honestly, one would be acknowledging that God knows best and so God's will being done is the ultimate goal, and so he would respond in service of that goal. If one is not praying, one isn't reliant on God, and so God's will is not your ultimate goal - thus he is not obligated to respond.

Take that as you will.

Captcha: unlimited wishes. Ladies and gentlemen, once again the almighty Captcha has provided the answer to an ages old question.

Ok... you seemed to have attempted to solved one issue but created several new issues. First - and this is just the impression I'm getting, correct me if I'm wrong - you're saying that god has a plan that includes, and in fact is dependent on prayers. But not all prayers. Only the prayers that coincide with his plan... which includes all prayers, even the irrelevant ones. So now there's another question. Does god alter his plan if he doesn't receive the prayers he wants? Some say, "It's immaterial, because god already knows exactly what prayers he will receive." So those prayers are now no longer a choice, but a presupposition, which can't possibly be a choice. You can't have multiple timelines (which is what the possibility of choice creates) and a predesignated reality. If god knows exactly how things are, have been, and will be, and creates everyone, then he knows exactly what they were/are/are going to do. As he is simultaneously omnipotent, he is therefore capable of making them differently, or putting different circumstances in their path that would have caused them to behave differently, or make a different choice. With that capability in mind, unless god is masochistic (a trait never used to describe him in the bible) god creates people the way he wants. And since he is both capable of changing them, and knowledgeable about what that change would do, an argument could be made that everything they ever do is exactly what he wanted them to do (indeed, I've never heard a compelling counterargument). Now we finally come full circle to prayer. With all I've already said in mind, we now see that god created some people specifically to reward them for prayers he ensured they would invoke. Unfortunately, the flip side of this is that every soul that doesn't meet the criteria to go to heaven, god created to damn. This means that humans have no influence whatsoever over the plans and machinations of the bearded psycho in the sky, who creates to destroy, just like a 5 year old with a sandcastle. Of course the other option (if you'll put your mind back a few sentences, is that god does change his plans based on the prayers he receives. This, however, means that god isn't omniscient, and that his policy for running the world is: who can talk to their imaginary friend the most convincingly, but with the caveat that you have to guess which one of the 3-4 major imaginary friends (major gods) is actually the real one. And that's just a cruel joke.

In regard to the descriptions of god, throughout the bible (and yes I've read the whole thing) just about every adjective imaginable is used to describe god. So basically he's everything. Which is the same as having no characteristics. Christians just cherry pick whatever passage they need to defend their current description of God even when it's in direct contradiction with another, as we see here. God is simultaneously patient, benevolent and fair, but also jealous and wrathful. He's slow to anger, but also quick to anger; peaceful and wrathful. Those... don't really fit together very well. It makes God seem pretty schizophrenic. This does not make him "complex beyond human understanding" this just makes him crazy (or more likely, fictional and written by many different authors, a common problem seen in media even today), which is well within human understanding. In fact, cherry picking passages from the bible when it's convenient, and ignoring the ones that aren't seems to be a staple of christian apologists.

TheCommanders:
Ok... you seemed to have attempted to solved one issue but created several new issues...

Not really, though I gather from this post that you've already had this exact discussion multiple times, which would make the original post "bait", and more than a little dishonest. If I'm wrong, I apologise, but that's the impression your post lent - specifically related to the stark topic jump you clearly used to spring board into the second half of your post.

In any case, the problem you're now leaning on - judging from your selected wordings - is an old one, close to being one of the oldest ever posed by philosophy, which is "Free will and determinism".
The debate rested on a stalemate, and sways back and forth depending on whichever outlook as popular at any given time, ultimately because we lack the ability to determine if either one actually exists absolutely. The best we can muster is to define them, and compare their definitions. None can be confirmed or denied and are entirely subjective.
The closest we've come to an agreed definition is relying on the immutable laws of our physical reality to say that determinism, at least in some form, exists because we can predict cause and effect. Of course, then came along quantum mechanics and everything's back in the air again because those laws break down into seemingly random chaos.

Anyway, at this point you've essentially exited the initial questions regarding prayer, and have joined several already well known and established questions together fairly loosely. I can't offer better answers than the great minds that constructed them.
I'd recommend looking into the writings of Thomas Aquinas if you're actually interested in the meta-physical aspects of this discussion, specifically several key responses to his writings, which deal with a lot of the questions you've posed. It's gets dense quickly however, so I might recommend a cup of coffee before you proceed down that rabbit hole :)

... words ...

The second section of your post however, is... er... I don't like to say this, but you broke topic, went several countries yonder, and then ranted like a homeless man on a bad day.
Fairly obviously, you wanted a response like mine to enable that rant to be posted. I might recommend being a little more upfront and honest.
I'm happy to continue this discussion this with you in personal messages, but I don't feel responding here anymore is the best course, as you've already demonstrated it's going to go to a place of ranting and name slinging, which I feel the people who would want to read this thread aren't going to really want to read. Sorry, I hope you understand.

Zeh Don:

TheCommanders:
Ok... you seemed to have attempted to solved one issue but created several new issues...

Not really, though I gather from this post that you've already had this exact discussion multiple times, which would make the original post "bait", and more than a little dishonest. If I'm wrong, I apologise, but that's the impression your post lent - specifically related to the stark topic jump you clearly used to spring board into the second half of your post.

In any case, the problem you're now leaning on - judging from your selected wordings - is an old one, close to being one of the oldest ever posed by philosophy, which is "Free will and determinism".
The debate rested on a stalemate, and sways back and forth depending on whichever outlook as popular at any given time, ultimately because we lack the ability to determine if either one actually exists absolutely. The best we can muster is to define them, and compare their definitions. None can be confirmed or denied and are entirely subjective.
The closest we've come to an agreed definition is relying on the immutable laws of our physical reality to say that determinism, at least in some form, exists because we can predict cause and effect. Of course, then came along quantum mechanics and everything's back in the air again because those laws break down into seemingly random chaos.

Anyway, at this point you've essentially exited the initial questions regarding prayer, and have joined several already well known and established questions together fairly loosely. I can't offer better answers than the great minds that constructed them.
I'd recommend looking into the writings of Thomas Aquinas if you're actually interested in the meta-physical aspects of this discussion, specifically several key responses to his writings, which deal with a lot of the questions you've posed. It's gets dense quickly however, so I might recommend a cup of coffee before you proceed down that rabbit hole :)

... words ...

The second section of your post however, is... er... I don't like to say this, but you broke topic, went several countries yonder, and then ranted like a homeless man on a bad day.
Fairly obviously, you wanted a response like mine to enable that rant to be posted. I might recommend being a little more upfront and honest.
I'm happy to continue this discussion this with you in personal messages, but I don't feel responding here anymore is the best course, as you've already demonstrated it's going to go to a place of ranting and name slinging, which I feel the people who would want to read this thread aren't going to really want to read. Sorry, I hope you understand.

I'm following your suggestion to continue in private messaging (because it would be less and less relevant to this thread), but a couple of things to clear up first.

1. It was not a bait post; I reply every time I'm quoted unless it's by a troll
2. I have had this discussion before
3. Christian Apologist is not meant as an insult. It's a classification or alternative name for moderate Christians used (and in fact, I think coined) by these people themselves:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_apologetics
4. Maybe it's subjective, but I think that everything I cited was relevant in a response to your post (you brought up alternative interpretations of god based on biblical passages, which is what I was talking about in the second half).\

EDIT- Whoops, forgot one

5. I have read some of the works of Thomas Aquinas, and as many members of the philosophical community agree, his arguments depend on assumptions that shouldn't be necessary in a rational discussion.

I don't understand why the atheists couldn't just leave this thread alone. The OP had what he felt was a spiritual experience, and made a thread for others to share their own, making concessions for people of all beliefs and convictions in the closing lines. If you've never felt that way, why even respond to the thread? It obviously wasn't intended to be a debate. I'm sure we've all had bad experiences with organised religion but that doesn't mean we have to take absolutely every opportunity to jump down someone's throat the moment they mention their faith in a completely inoffensive way. If he made a thread or post using his faith to justify bigotry that would be another matter altogether, but this... is kind of sad.

manic_depressive13:
I don't understand why the atheists couldn't just leave this thread alone.

I'm sure we've all had bad experiences with organised religion but that doesn't mean we have to take absolutely every opportunity to jump down someone's throat the moment they mention their faith in a completely inoffensive way. If he made a thread or post using his faith to justify bigotry that would be another matter altogether, but this... is kind of sad.

Well the OP specifically invites atheists to post:

"Either way, for the devoutly religious, non religious, and even the atheistic. What are some personal experiences that defined your faith( in god or science), or lack thereof."

So theres no need to leave the read totally alone. I was invited to post about my lack of experiences.

However youre correct that shitting all over people for expressing their experiences is kinda disheartening. Im not counting the "All atheists/non christians are evil liars" dude though. That was some grade A offensive crazy.

BiscuitTrouser:
Well the OP specifically invites atheists to post:

"Either way, for the devoutly religious, non religious, and even the atheistic. What are some personal experiences that defined your faith( in god or science), or lack thereof."

So theres no need to leave the read totally alone. I was invited to post about my lack of experiences.

However youre correct that shitting all over people for expressing their experiences is kinda disheartening. Im not counting the "All atheists/non christians are evil liars" dude though. That was some grade A offensive crazy.

Yeah, he invited us to talk about our positive experiences that validated our various beliefs, and less than half of the posts on the first page actually do that. Most of them are explaining why they don't need God, how religious people have been bigoted towards them in the past, and why the OP is wrong for interpreting events the way he did.

BiscuitTrouser:
snip

I was really trying to go for the atheist view of religion, not of religious people specifically. Cause if you think there's a greater power, then all religions are trying to find it and failing to different degrees, but if you think there is no greater power, then all religions were born from either deliberate manipulative conspiracy or mass insanity, because there isn't a greater power to find. Though I guess that only really applies to the atheists with the theory that everyone is born an atheist and needs to be taught god, because then they really believe that somebody made it all up and tricked everyone else.

tstorm823:

BiscuitTrouser:
snip

I was really trying to go for the atheist view of religion, not of religious people specifically. Cause if you think there's a greater power, then all religions are trying to find it and failing to different degrees, but if you think there is no greater power, then all religions were born from either deliberate manipulative conspiracy or mass insanity, because there isn't a greater power to find. Though I guess that only really applies to the atheists with the theory that everyone is born an atheist and needs to be taught god, because then they really believe that somebody made it all up and tricked everyone else.

Not really, anymore than Aristotle 'tricked' people when he said flies only had 4 legs. He probably thought they did, after all, all large animals did, so it seemed plausible. And nobody checked, because he's fucking Aristotle, course he knows better than we do.

It is plausible that religions where invented out of people's sincere attempts to understand the universe based on ideas that made sense to them. There is no need to believe malice ever played a part.

Sometimes I read some part of an old and dusty treatise and think "wow! he gets it!" (or had gotten it, anyway.) Spinoza's criticism of anthropomorphism is a good example of this. It is nice to see when someone thought hundreds of years ago some of the things I think today. Inconveniently, perhaps, but more than that justly this cannot be seen as in any way confirming of my ideas anymore than the vast majority of works I regard as silly or just false are disconfirming. They are statements that may be true or false by virtue of their correspondence with reality or the relations between ideas.

Truly affirming moments tend to be matters of deeply thinking through an idea. Even then, I attempt to keep my conclusions as modest as I can.

tstorm823:

BiscuitTrouser:
snip

I was really trying to go for the atheist view of religion, not of religious people specifically. Cause if you think there's a greater power, then all religions are trying to find it and failing to different degrees, but if you think there is no greater power, then all religions were born from either deliberate manipulative conspiracy

Plausible in the cases of L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, and other less famous examples.

or mass insanity, because there isn't a greater power to find.

Mass insanity-- or insanity of any kind-- is not the only explanation compatible with there being no greater power to find. It certainly is one explanation, though not one that seems likely to account for very many cases. Especially for ancient religions, simple ignorance at the genesis of the idea suffices. People invent explanations for things and sometimes accept them uncritically or get attached to an idea for reasons other than its merit (it could be as simple as "I thought of it and it makes sense to me!" which may continue as "he's pretty wise, what he said seems true".) Once someone accepts an idea, he often becomes resistant to abandoning it. People then incorporate this supposed knowledge into traditions and repeatedly teach and reteach it to children who will often accept ideas uncritically (especially given enough exposure, not seeing the idea seriously criticized, and so on.) Adults often will accept such ideas too if they are surrounded by people who believe the idea. A belief being normal, though such is no evidence for its truth, also makes it psychologically much more plausible. Why are weekly, daily, or many times daily affirmations (prayers, services, etc.) a conspicuous component of the largest religions? It doesn't seem like a coincidence that regular reinforcement is present in the traditions of Islam, Christianity, and other major religions. That is how you keep an idea that is not obvious on its own going through the generations. The need for reinforcement may even be explanatory with regard to people thinking that saying "Happy Holidays" is an an "attack" on Christmas-- maybe it really does have an effect on the continued strength of Christian conviction (and of course making an issue of it is another opportunity to reaffirm belief.)

Simple ignorance suffices as an explanation for many ancient and false ideas: I've no reason to think that Aristotle was doing some extremely highbrow trolling when he proposed his physics-- for the time, he seemed to have plausible reasons for thinking his physics were correct. The people who rediscovered the works of Aristotle in the middle ages found them quite persuasive compared to what they already thought-- but that didn't make Aristotle's physics any less wrong in retrospect. People-- even the smartest people-- tend to have less intellectual humility than they need. The scientific method addresses this common flaw in human behavior by applying appropriate skepticism to our explanations.

We don't really think clearly as much as we like to think that we do. We, perhaps of necessity, take a lot of shortcuts. This is not in itself bad, but we need to have some justification for thinking that the shortcuts are leading us to the right places, and that means figuring out a way to choose the right shortcuts or not taking a shortcut at all.

How does an Atheist view religion? As one can tell from the responses so far: That differs from person to person - just as not every Christian is a friggin' presuppositionalist, luckily.

Personally, I view it as a social phenomenon, a taught belief. It grew into much more organized, much more rigid institutions from its origin as myths and legends meant to explain the universe and human interactions. It's basically an attempt to understand the world, based on issues like confirmation bias, agency and pattern recognition and tradition. It's no coincidence that gods are basically humans with superpowers, at least in a lot of interpretations and religions, both old and young. That they have feelings, plans, wishes, very human aspects to them. That they often have very human interests or care about minute details of human behaviour despite the vastness of the universe and insignificance of not just us, our planet or solar system but our entire galaxy in the grand scheme of things. And that the vast majority of new members are raised to be religious, while conversions to and from various religions or lack of religion are comparatively rare.

Had I been raised in a religious home, taught to believe and apply standards differently, it's likely I would be a religious person today. Hopefully - like many Atheists - I would've found my way out at some point, but when that would've been (or if at all) is difficult to say. What I certainly don't do is act like religious people are willfully ignorant or lying about their beliefs. I think their beliefs are wrong, sure, but I don't think they're in denial. I think they're honest in what they say they believe... generally. While the presuppositionalists believe everybody but them, be they Atheists, Agnostics, members of other religions or even just other denominations, are lying or living in denial.

Exceptions apply, of course: I do think of Creationists/cdesign proponentsists (at least those with access to higher education or who've left behind the isolationism of their youth) as willfully ignorant. And I do think some religious people will hype up how much they believve, how faithful they are, in order to either gain something or to try and convince them that their own doubts are inconsequential, so sometimes they may not be honest about what they believe. For many varying reasons.

TheCommanders:
I'm following your suggestion to continue in private messaging (because it would be less and less relevant to this thread), but a couple of things to clear up first...

I've replied, and we'll address that stuff in private. Thanks for agreeing to take it out of this thread :)

As I generally do my best to avoid wish fulfillment bias, such as baseless assumptions that reality would somehow bend to my will if I asked it really nicely, no moment of joy have ever elicited any delusion of divine favour. Nor any moment of despair a delusion of divine retribution. The psychological mechanisms behind such things are all too obvious for me to fall pray prey to them[1], and the feelings quite complete without grasping for cosmic signifigance to them.

If the religious would limit their bias to themselves, and not express it in homophobia and the like, this kind of mental crutch mentality would really be none of my business. As god will not intervene - apparently being fine with what's done in its name should it exist - there is little choice but to fight it. If also little point, for against the folly of man, all armies fight in vain.

So, in the interest of not wasting any more breath and MBs, I guess I'll be retiring from this subforum. Fate (in person of course!) and a new job has lead me to a place with limited internet access for the forseeable future, so combined with having long since made my positions crystal clear on all relevant issues, the field expedition is at its end. Thanks to all the allies, enemies, and even very occasional dialogue partners who made it last this long.

Oh, since one should always go out on a random note, serious games and rare Japanese shit is in vogue on the site in general, and this subforum too seem very well represented in users which were severely bullied in childhood, I guess I'll recommend Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni.

[1] In casu, there'd obviously be equal (lack of) reason to assume that the premature birth was divine retribution to begin with: Funny how that less appealing perspective doesn't seem to confirm anything, almost like the will of god was subservient to the mentality of man or something...

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