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Defining Christianity

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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Brekkie » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:15 pm

My interaction with God is centered around knowledge. The laws of Physics are beautiful, amazing things, and the best worship I can think of is to learn about them, build upon that knowledge by digging deeper, and sharing that knowledge with other people. In that sense, the physics classroom is my evangelical church, and textbooks are my holy documents.

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RE: Neanderthals
I actually did a research paper on that topic for an online class. Gist of my research was that proto-humans and various human-like off-shoots evolved from shared ancestors in different geographic ranges, and thus evolved differently. Neanderthals were primarily the European off-shoot, whereas proto-humans were more north-African/middle-eastern. Proto-humans had an advantage in being weaker individually, but more powerful as a population because they required less food, had a much higher birth rate, and thus functioned more effectively in larger cooperative groups.
As proto-humans expanded their range, they came into contact with Neanderthals and coexisted and even interbred for a time. A small proportion of modern humans have Neanderthal blood in them (I forget the exact figure, but I think it was 1%). As the faster-breeding proto-humans' populations increased, however, resource competition led to the decline and extinction of the Neanderthals both by direct conflict, as well as starvation due to the Neanderthals being unable to meet their much higher caloric requirements.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Brekkie » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:17 pm

Chunes wrote:
Vanifae wrote:You can still be a skeptic and still have faith, they are not mutually exclusive. I doubt most people are pure anything, many people blend many ideas and beliefs. But who knows maybe I am generalizing.



Skepticism contradicts faith.


It's an act of faith to even assume that our perceptions of the world even have any relevance AT ALL to reality. You can't make any assumptions if you truly want to operate on a skeptic philosophy.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby katraya » Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:10 pm

Fridmarr wrote:Well if it was anything like Clan of the Cave Bear you can hardly blame them :lol:


Get out of my brain!
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Hayz » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:22 pm

theckhd wrote:
Hayz wrote:It really seems to me that the entire religious debate is a very large case of Schroedinger's cat. Until we open the box (die/armageddon) we are unsure whether the cat lives (there is a greater power) or the cat is dead (there is no greater power) and there is no way of knowing such before we open the box, so we make speculations, though in reality we can only know that both are equally likely.


Except that's a flawed interpretation as well. The question of whether there's a higher power presumably has a definite answer, either true or false. While you can wax philosophical about it, the result is either true or false, we just don't know the answer yet.

With quantum mechanics, the cat is not dead or alive until we open the box. It's not fair to say "well, it's in one of those states, we just don't happen to know which one." It is, in fact, in both states simultaneously as long as we don't do something to force it into one state or the other.

It's the difference between saying "the ping pong ball I'm holding in my hand is either red or blue, and when I open my hand you see it's blue, and you're free to presume it was blue the entire time I was holding it" and "the ping pong ball in my hand is in a superposition of red and blue, and when I open my hands we force it to choose one or the other." In the latter case, the ball wasn't blue all along, it was "purple" in the sense that it could have chosen one or the other when we decided to observe it. The notion that the ball was one or the other all along is a concept called "realism," which is one of the first things you usually have to throw out the window when talking about Quantum Mechanics.


in depth quantum mechanics arent necessarily my forte, i was looking more at the literal of the situation that the cat was presumably in one of those states and our observation revealed which one, not that it existed in both states and our observation forced it to reveal itself as one of the possible states, my mistake, thanks for clearing it up theck.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Vanifae » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:30 am

Chunes wrote:
Vanifae wrote:You can still be a skeptic and still have faith, they are not mutually exclusive. I doubt most people are pure anything, many people blend many ideas and beliefs. But who knows maybe I am generalizing.



Skepticism contradicts faith.

No it does not unless you place them in extreme opposition of each other. I live my life this way how can you tell me that I am somehow living my life wrong? I know it works because this is how I live my life. Maybe you just need them to contradict or be in opposition for you life to work.

I think what you are professing is an opinion and not fact.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Chunes » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:58 pm

Vanifae wrote:
Chunes wrote:
Vanifae wrote:You can still be a skeptic and still have faith, they are not mutually exclusive. I doubt most people are pure anything, many people blend many ideas and beliefs. But who knows maybe I am generalizing.



Skepticism contradicts faith.

No it does not unless you place them in extreme opposition of each other. I live my life this way how can you tell me that I am somehow living my life wrong? I know it works because this is how I live my life. Maybe you just need them to contradict or be in opposition for you life to work.

I think what you are professing is an opinion and not fact.



It all comes back to the "prove it" argument. I'm not trying to be that shithead atheist or anything, but I've walked the christian walk and I'm saying that you have to just take a lot of people's word for much of it. How do you outright KNOW that god exists? how do you outright KNOW that the miracles described in the bible (ot and nt) happened the way they were described?

you don't. You take it on faith or you interpret it allegorically.

Unless you're privy to some knowledge that the rest of the world is not, you can't say "I'm a skeptic" and "I'm a believer" in the same sentence and not contradict yourself. Skeptic's don't take peoples word for anything.

Here's a good blurb from the skeptic society's site:

www.skeptic.com wrote:Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas — no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.


The compelling evidence is what's lacking from the faith based belief system imo.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby theckhd » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:24 pm

None of that implies that one must be skeptical of everything. Of course you can approach every aspect of your life as a skeptic. But especially in areas that simply aren't testable or measurable, it's sort of meaningless to be a skeptic.

Being "skeptical" about something that can't ever be measured or tested scientifically is just a form of faith. It's the belief that the phenomenon doesn't exist.

For a concrete example, you can't really be skeptical about whether a person has a soul. There's no empirical way to measure or observe a soul or the lack of a soul. It is, by its very definition, an ephemeral and spiritual concept. So you aren't "skeptical" about whether a soul exists, you simply believe it does or doesn't.

If at some point in the future, we decide to adjust the definition of soul (perhaps tying it to some combination of electrical impulses in our brain that reflect our personality and beliefs), then it might make sense to talk about skepticism.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Chunes » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:44 pm

I really think there's a misunderstanding about what it means to be a skeptic.

theckhd wrote:None of that implies that one must be skeptical of everything. Of course you can approach every aspect of your life as a skeptic. But especially in areas that simply aren't testable or measurable, it's sort of meaningless to be a skeptic.

Being "skeptical" about something that can't ever be measured or tested scientifically is just a form of faith. It's the belief that the phenomenon doesn't exist.


I disagree. You are not in any belief system. The evidence or lack thereof has been evaluated and just as the quote in my previous post said, you have arrived at a "provisional" position, that position being that there is not enough evidence to justify accepting whatever it was you were investigating.

In more applicable terms, it's not that I believe there is no god. I don't have enough data to say one way or the other. I hope there is a god and I also hope he has mercy on my logically constrained brain. Hope is not belief though.

theck wrote:For a concrete example, you can't really be skeptical about whether a person has a soul. There's no empirical way to measure or observe a soul or the lack of a soul. It is, by its very definition, an ephemeral and spiritual concept. So you aren't "skeptical" about whether a soul exists, you simply believe it does or doesn't.

If at some point in the future, we decide to adjust the definition of soul (perhaps tying it to some combination of electrical impulses in our brain that reflect our personality and beliefs), then it might make sense to talk about skepticism.


I think you've made the mistake of lumping skepticism in with the other "positions" (i.e. belief or disbelief). Skepticism is not a position, it's a means to arriving at a rational understanding of reality, as best we can grasp it. Sure, one can be skeptical about the existance of the soul, but eventually they'll reach the end of the "evidence" (if any is to be had) and they'll determine that the existence of the soul cannot be justified because of the lack of said evidence. At this point they're no longer skeptical of anything, their provisional position is one that says "there is no evidence to support the existence of the soul, but it's not ruled out either". Occam's razor takes care of the "ruling out" part I guess, but that's not skepticism.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Vanifae » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:27 pm

I think we will have to agree to disagree.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:35 pm

That's fairly inconsistent though if you are saying that you are an atheist. That sounds a lot more like agnostic. Atheism says basically that there is no god. However, using skepticism as you are, that basic atheistic conclusion is a direct contradiction, unless you are making a leap of faith (which is what Theck was pointing out). Agnostic says the existence of a god is unknown which would fit your "skeptic" philosophy.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Candiru » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:36 am

Agnosticism normally holds that the existence of a God is unknowable. If you are a sceptic, then you should be an agnostic by definition.

If you decide to invoke Occum's Razor on the whole collection of unknowables: God / Zeus / Invisible Pink Unicorn/Flying spaghetti monster/etc then you may decide to be an Atheist instead.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Chunes » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:13 am

Fridmarr wrote:That's fairly inconsistent though if you are saying that you are an atheist. That sounds a lot more like agnostic. Atheism says basically that there is no god. However, using skepticism as you are, that basic atheistic conclusion is a direct contradiction, unless you are making a leap of faith (which is what Theck was pointing out). Agnostic says the existence of a god is unknown which would fit your "skeptic" philosophy.


You're definitely right, which is why I'm not an atheist. I know I made a comment early about being the asshole athiest or something, but I kind of meant it tongue in cheek.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby gtechman » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:21 am

Chunes wrote:
Fridmarr wrote:That's fairly inconsistent though if you are saying that you are an atheist. That sounds a lot more like agnostic. Atheism says basically that there is no god. However, using skepticism as you are, that basic atheistic conclusion is a direct contradiction, unless you are making a leap of faith (which is what Theck was pointing out). Agnostic says the existence of a god is unknown which would fit your "skeptic" philosophy.


You're definitely right, which is why I'm not an atheist. I know I made a comment early about being the asshole athiest or something, but I kind of meant it tongue in cheek.


This clears some things up for me as well. I was basing all my points with you towards athiesm.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby Chunes » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:43 pm

Yeah I'm functionally agnostic at the moment. I really love a lot of the things the bible teaches about how to interact with your fellow man, christ's spirit and character and a lot of the really interesting analogies one can draw between the israelites and the character of people in general these days.

It's really just the dogma of the institution of christianity that has disgusted me as of late. Also the fact that my logically-leaning mind has a hard time with belief for belief's sake.

I truly want the christian god to exist, he seems really really awesome and jesus was amazing in turn. I can't take people's word for it though. So I digest and incorporate the teachings that I find beneficial and I take the rest with a grain of salt.
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Re: Defining Christianity

Postby theckhd » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:50 pm

Chunes wrote:I really think there's a misunderstanding about what it means to be a skeptic.

I disagree. You are not in any belief system. The evidence or lack thereof has been evaluated and just as the quote in my previous post said, you have arrived at a "provisional" position, that position being that there is not enough evidence to justify accepting whatever it was you were investigating.

In more applicable terms, it's not that I believe there is no god. I don't have enough data to say one way or the other. I hope there is a god and I also hope he has mercy on my logically constrained brain. Hope is not belief though.

I think you've made the mistake of lumping skepticism in with the other "positions" (i.e. belief or disbelief). Skepticism is not a position, it's a means to arriving at a rational understanding of reality, as best we can grasp it. Sure, one can be skeptical about the existance of the soul, but eventually they'll reach the end of the "evidence" (if any is to be had) and they'll determine that the existence of the soul cannot be justified because of the lack of said evidence. At this point they're no longer skeptical of anything, their provisional position is one that says "there is no evidence to support the existence of the soul, but it's not ruled out either". Occam's razor takes care of the "ruling out" part I guess, but that's not skepticism.


I'm not saying skepticism is a position. Using your own definition, it's a method. In mathematical terms, it's an operator.

It makes perfect sense to apply that operator to certain things. "Does macro-evolution happen" is such a question. We can perform experiments and make observations that prove it true or false. Skepticism is the operator that takes the question, examines the available evidence, and decides whether it's enough to feel confident that the question is true.

But "do humans have a soul" is not such a question. You can apply the "skepticism operator" to that question, and you'll never get any evidence. It's not just an experiment that simply returns a "false" answer every time, it's an experiment that fundamentally cannot give you evidence.

The default position of a skeptic on a topic that doesn't have enough evidence should be "there's not enough evidence to say one way or the other." By making the jump to "there's not enough evidence, thus it must not exist," you're implicitly defining a belief - namely that anything which doesn't have enough evidence to be true is false. To put it another way, "Unless there's strong evidence that something exists, it doesn't."
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