Failed Conversion

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This topic contains 173 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  jakelafort 3 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #4298

    Strega
    Moderator

    @simonpaynton Say what you mean, Simon.  What are you insinuating?  That there’s a supernatural entity affecting your life purposefully?

    #4300

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @strega – I’m not exactly insinuating, because I just don’t know.  It LOOKS just like the hand of God.  But that doesn’t mean it is.  Some people believe in “guardian angels” – the departed spirits of one’s friends and relatives, who are able to affect reality.

    It’s almost certainly not natural, so that only leaves supernatural.

    #4302

    Strega
    Moderator

    Almost certainly is not certainly.  Tell me about this supernatural power as you see it (him?).  How is it not a coincidence that you needed that money and found it?  How many other times have you needed it and not found it?  People tend not to remember non-events in the same way they remember unusual coincidences.

    #4303

    Dang Martin
    Participant

    It’s like chanting for weed.

    #4304

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @strega – you’re riding roughshod over statistical analysis.  The explanation you’re talking about – random chance – is overwhelmingly unlikely.  The overwhelmingly likely explanation is X or Y definite, structured thing.

    How many other times have you needed it and not found it?

    – lots of times, like everyone else.  But when I’ve been going out on a limb to help someone, and needed money to do it, but didn’t have the money, but found that exact money within an hour of setting out on the mission, in a busy shop doorway – never.  0 times, apart from that 1 situation when it happened.

    How many times have I been going to press the nuclear button, but was stopped by miraculously either being phoned by (always circumstances under my control) or already being on the phone with (external circumstances affecting me) S.?  100% of times: all times.

    @DangMartin- “It’s like chanting for weed.

    – it’s lazy and complacent to assume that every superficially similar situation is the same.

    #4305

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Have you heard about this?  “Professional curiosity”.  It means if you’re serious about having your shit together, don’t turn down an idea purely on the grounds of emotional bias: i.e. in this case you’ll do any kind of dance not to even consider the idea you don’t like or want – for irrational reasons.  That famous atheist rationality does tend to evaporate when push comes to shove, and the most sober scientist starts talking like Daffy Duck.

    I don’t think it’s true that atheists “don’t want to believe in God” – if you think about it, that doesn’t really make any sense.  Or at least, I can’t find any sense in it.  It’s more the case that atheists (or most ideologues, like Dr Bob for example) don’t want to admit they might be wrong about something and the opposition might be right.

    #4306

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    #4307

    Dang Martin
    Participant

    @DangMartin- “It’s like chanting for weed.” – it’s lazy and complacent to assume that every superficially similar situation is the same.

    Deja vu.

    It would be lazy and complacent to simply assert it, for sure, much like stating a one-sentence assertion, and then stating that assertion again. Easy arguments are easy to make.

    Maybe it would be less lazy and complacent if it were reviewed in a bit more detail. Certainly, one could agree that the lazy and complacent are not interested in putting forth anything resembling even a little bit of effort.

    For the ease of review, I’ll be creating a few labels to represent various situations.

    Scenario A: This is the person who needs money to pay someone back, and then happens to find money. They take no action to get this, and have the believe that either a god or the universe is watching over them.

    Scenario B: This is the person who needs weed, and then receives it, but only after taking action in the form of chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” as instructed by Nichiren Dishonin, a 13th century Buddhist Monk who has been declared “The Enlightened One.”

    Scenario C: In this case, “C” is for “Control.” This can be representative of a control for either Scenario A or Scenario B. In considering it a control for Scenario A, the person does not need the money, and does not hold any spiritual beliefs. As a control for Scenario B, the person does want weed, but does not chant for it and holds no spiritual beliefs.

    Already, we can see a few subtle differences, as well as similarities.

    Needs Fulfilled: In both A and B, the person involved appears to have been presented with something that they need. This similarity is undeniable, and therefore is not up for debate.

    Passive vs. Active: There is a slight difference here at work, although there are also similarities. In Scenario A, the person holds a belief that a god or the universe is watching over them, and providing, as does the person in Scenario B. They are slightly different gods, but the concepts are similar. Where it is different is that the person in Scenario B takes physical and mental action in an effort to appeal to the powers-that-be for relief.

    This slight difference is evident in the behavior of the person in Scenario A, who merely holds a belief, and yet takes no action, with the “understanding” that mere belief is often times good enough. According to the Christian mythology, as interpreted in the Western world, belief in Jesus Christ is all that is required to be saved. Therefore, action may not be necessary. If this is true, then these slightly different details have more in common than it may initially appear.

    Attribution of Serendipitous Acquisition: In both Scenario A and Scenario B, both parties have attributed their good fortune as a form of divine intervention. Their strong belief in the idea that their deity of choice is looking out for them precludes them from the notion of confirmation bias.

    Unclear Explanation for Denial: This is where we may not have a comparison to make, as additional information is required. When the person in Scenario B does not receive the weed for which he asks, the explanation he receives is that the universe feels that this would not be good for him at this time. Again, his strong belief precludes him from accepting the idea that this may be a case of confirmation bias; an explanation of convenience.

    However, the person in Scenario A does not indicate what they would be thinking or how they would be feeling if they needed something and were not given it by their chosen deity. Again, additional information is required if one is to make a proper assessment of equality or disparity regarding this particular detail.

    Non-Sizeable Acquisition: In Scenario A, the amount of money [the object of need] is relatively small. In Scenario B, the amount of weed is similar in nature. These are not big lottery ticket wins, or a case of stumbling upon a large bag of cash that has fallen from the back of a Brinks truck. These are what could be fairly identified as “simple wins.”

    What About the Control: The control, or Scenario C, is the Atheist who does not hold any belief in the idea that there are any gods out there, or that the universe cares about him in the least. Therefore, this person does not ask any supernatural beings or presences for gifts, special protections, or other interests driven by biological need or existential fear.

    In consideration of the Control, as applied to Scenario A, this person would find money, remember that they owed someone money, and might attribute it to luck. This would be assuming that the person held a belief in the concept of luck. Atheists merely hold no beliefs in gods, and this non-belief is not extended to concepts such as luck, as well as spiritual instruments, such as Astrology, Tarot Cards, ghosts, etc. If they held no belief in luck, then they might consider themselves fortunate. They might also consider finding the owner of this lost money, but will realize that anyone will claim it, and proof of ownership is impossible. Since it is a small amount, they will err on the side of keeping it.

    With the Control in place, as applied to Scenario B, the situation would be different, in that they would not be asking a deity or spiritual entity to provide. They would simply be of the understanding that they needed to get more weed, and could not afford it. With this in mind, they might visit a friend who has weed, and maybe ask to be “fronted” until payday.

    However, in keeping with the spirit of the scenario, the Control in Scenario B could attend a party and find himself in a situation where he ends up with some “stash.” A variety of situations could occur wherein he might end up with someone giving him a bud, a joint, or a roach, in the parlance of our times.

    Conclusion: While these two scenarios do have some subtle differences, it can only be concluded that they have by far more in common than may appear on the surface. Be it a small amount of money or a small amount of weed, the commonalities are substantial, when compared to the disparities.

    Should this analysis be deemed either “lazy” or “complacent,” then the reasoning for these judgments should be supplied in similar detail. It is possible that this analysis may be deemed errant in some manner, and if so, then the issues should be described in sufficient detail. Errors can be reviews, and will be accepted as corrections, should it be rightfully determined that an error or errors have been made.

    There was just ONE other thing to address:  It’s more the case that atheists (or most ideologues, like Dr Bob for example) don’t want to admit they might be wrong about something and the opposition might be right.

    To apply this attribute to Atheists, or to any group as a whole, is not only intellectually dishonest, but it is both lazy and complacent. It also seems like a case of strong projection. Certainly, it would be both lazy and complacent of me to merely make these assertions, so I shall back them up.

    Admitting Wrong: This is typically the case for either a Theist or Atheist who is Gnostic in nature. The Gnostic is one who declares absolute knowledge. In case it is not obvious, I will detail Gnosticism on both sides of the fence.

    The Gnostic Theist is someone who not only believes in a god, but who declares that they know for a fact that their god is real, and that it exists. When this declaration is made, they bear the burden of proof, for they are making a positive claim. This is not a smart move, for there is no acceptable proof of the supernatural. Personal anecdotes and feelings do not count as proof.

    The Gnostic Atheist will declare that they know for a fact that there are no gods. While the burden of proof is typically not that of Atheists who are NOT Gnostic, a definite and clear shift of the burden of proof lands squarely on their shoulders the minute they make the declaration that they know for a fact that there are no gods. This is not a smart declaration to make, for it actually REQUIRES proof, because it is a positive claim. It is also not a smart declaration, because it is the declaration of a negative.

    In a way, it could be like declaring that Unicorns do not exist. For Unicorns, the best approach is to declare that there is no evidence for the existence of Unicorns, so the likelihood or probability that Unicorns do exist is very, very, very small. In fact, it is so small that the idea of their existence is not even up for consideration. Only when proof of their existence is delivered, and not until then, will a hearty discussion about Unicorns take place.

    In considering the Gnostic on both sides of the fence, they do have similar qualities. Gnostics have a high level of certainty. Although they have no substantial evidence, and may rely on anecdotes or feelings, their certainty borders insanity. At best, the Gnostic is very misguided, and maybe delusional. At worst, the Gnostic is crazy. Finally, a Gnostic is not open to being wrong, mainly because they are already in a position where they are absolutely right, and nobody can convince them otherwise.

    Now we can move forward to the Agnostic Theist. They do not claim that they know for a fact that their god exists. They will also not assert that there is any proof. They may discuss anecdotes and feelings, but without the forceful assertions of the Gnostic. Their belief can be strong, and it is in the likelihood or probability that their god is real, and that all they’ve learned about this being is of substance and guides their lives.

    The Agnostic Theist is not open to being wrong about their beliefs, and this lack of openness is directly related to the component of fear that is present in childhood indoctrination. They typically will never even consider the idea that they might be wrong, and that the other side might be right, because this would involve questioning their beliefs. Conveniently, their philosophy includes a warning about questioning belief, the idea being that questioning your faith will result in eternal damnation. It is fear that leaves them unable to accept any idea other than the one that was put in their heads, long before they were intellectually capable of defending themselves.

    It is also important to note that the Agnostic Theist does reject the idea of the existence of other gods, as well as the practices of other religions. In some cases, it can be a rejection of different forms of Christianity, as is evidenced in the rift between Catholics and Protestants. This is but one of hundreds of examples. They view other religions in a subtle way that could be considered akin to the views held by Atheists.

    Finally, we have the Agnostic Atheist, of which I am a member. The Agnostic Atheist is a person who holds no belief in any gods. They have been presented the information available regarding these gods, they have reviews this information, and they see no reason why they should believe any of it. Because some are lacking in childhood indoctrination, as is the case with me, they are unable to justify the discrepancies and horrors contained within the texts of the Bible. They are unable to dismiss the fact that there are many versions of the Bible. The list is long, but in the end they are not able to perform the mental gymnastics required to hold belief.

    The Agnostic Atheist is open to being wrong about their position. Notice the use of “position” instead of “belief.” It should be made clear that the Agnostic Atheist does not “hold the belief that there are no gods.” If this were the case then Christians would have to answer for why they “hold the belief that Allah, Vishnu, Odin, and other gods are not real.” This idea borders on ridiculous.

    Although the Agnostic Atheist is open to being wrong, that opening gets smaller and smaller as time goes on. I can only speak for myself in this regard, in that I’ve been alive for almost 53 years, and during this time MANY Theists have had ample time to make an argument in favor of the existence of their god, or at the very least, why I should consider adopting belief in their god. For me, their arguments are repetitive and would only make sense to someone who had experienced childhood indoctrination. One might even say that their arguments are lazy and complacent, but I suggest that it would be fair to say that their arguments are “canned,” for they get repeated over and over again.

    As an Agnostic Atheist who is open to the idea of being wrong, it should be understood that the probability of the existence of ANY gods is very, very, very, very, very small. To be clear, that is when giving consideration to the idea that A GOD, and not the Christian god, is out there; one that has no connection to any of the man-made religions. In this consideration, there is no discernment between a god that has no affiliation with human religious constructs, and a good that is commercially-available for purchase, for the low sum of 10%.

    TL;DR: It is not lazy and complacent to suggest that these two situations are similar, and the reasons why have been painstakingly detailed. Furthermore, the suggestion that Atheists are afraid of being wrong is not supported by any behaviors that I have seen in this forum, or any other forum, and is a case of projection, for [as detailed above] the Christian is the one who has fear, and that fear was shoved into their head when they were little children. In my humble opinion, that amounts to child abuse, and it ensures that the child who has endured this abuse will have NO choice in the matter when they grow up, and will feel a compulsion to believe that which has been sold to them.

    I have been open to being wrong about all of the gods for 53 years. How long should I wait for that compelling argument to manifest? Still, to give the benefit of the doubt, should that compelling argument come to me later in life, regardless of when, then that compelling argument will convince me that I was wrong the whole time.

    I have made no positive claims. Still, if I conclude that I am wrong by not believing, after the compelling argument has been made, then I will take up the Bible, comply with its direction, and get myself into a church immediately, should the argument be compelling on any other day of the week.

    I’ll be waiting.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by  Dang Martin. Reason: Punctuation
    #4309

    Strega
    Moderator

    @simonpaynton Simon, if you think I’m riding roughshod over statistical analysis, you do not understand statistical analysis.  You as an individual do not provide sufficient variety to form a statistic.  You need to combine a lot of people to reach statistical data requirements – the more people, the more likely a statistical finding is useful.  Statistics provide probabilities, not individual predictions.  You personally cannot achieve statistical status!

    #4310

    Dang Martin
    Participant

    I don’t think it’s true that atheists “don’t want to believe in God” – if you think about it, that doesn’t really make any sense.

    True. Although I can only speak for myself, it’s not that I “don’t want to” believe in a god. It’s that I cannot believe in a god.

    The primary reason why I cannot believe in a god is that I was not put through childhood indoctrination, so I lack the fear and instruction required to hold any Western religious belief.

    The secondary reason is that the philosophy, the bible, and American Christian behaviors, do not connect and make no sense when viewed through the brain of someone lacking childhood indoctrination.

    Would it be good if there were a god? With the Christian god, Yahweh, I think it would be terrifying if he were real. He’s petty, jealous, selfish, and acts like a spoiled teenage girl. Kind of like Donald Trump.

    If I’m going to believe in a god, then I have higher standards than Christians. I’ll end with a few examples below.

    * Why would any god need 6 days to create Earth and the universe?

    * Why would a god need one day of rest?

    * Why would a god need 42 days to carve 10 commandments into stone?

    * Why would a god smite someone after they did as he said? [This happens in the bible. I no longer tell Christians were, as I expect them to know the book in which they put their faith and eternal salvation. Kind of important when you think about it that way.]

    * Why is this moral god in favor of slavery and rape? [Clear rules are in the bible.]

    * Why would a god allow for two versions of the story of creation in Genesis?

    * Why would a god create humans WITHOUT the ability to know right from wrong, expect them to know right from wrong, put them in harm’s way, and then eternally punish them when they eventually mess up?

    * Why would a god REQUIRE blood sacrifice? Who makes him follow that rule?

    * Why would a god create a human version of himself, so that he can be “killed?”

    * If the “son of god” is killed on the cross, and then rises three days later, why is it said that he “died” for the sins of Humanity, when the truth is that he had a rather horrific three-day weekend?

    * Why would a god send two she-bears to kill 42 children because they made fun of a bald man?

    * Why would a god need for a man to be stoned to death for the crime of gathering sticks?

    The list goes on, but I do have one final question. This relates to AMERICAN Christians, for I deal with them daily, and my understanding is that they are different from other Christians around the world.

    Why would a self-declared American Christian NOT read the bible, go against what is commanded in the bible, behave in a manner that is not in line with the bible, if they truly believed that there was eternal punishment for doing so?

    I’m talking about not praying privately in a closet, as commanded in Matthew 6:5-7.

    I’m talking about the prolific nature of the “prosperity gospels,” that warn Christians to be wary of the rich man [where was the rich man while Jesus, Moses, and Lazarus were convening?]

    I’m talking about the horrific treatment and policies against immigrants, when one of the most obvious themes carried throughout the bible is all about good treatment of immigrants and sojourners. That’s why Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed; not because of gay butt-sex, but because they changed the laws requiring good treatment of sojourners so that they could force Lot to open his doors and force the angels out.

    I’m talking about the lack of morality in most of the book. Remember that Lot offers up his daughters to be raped, to protect the angels. Later, his daughters get him drunk and have sex with him to get pregnant. What moral family values! It’s Lot and his daughters, not Lot and his sons, amirite?!

    Don’t forget the Catholics having sex with children and hiding the guilty priests. That’s not a few bad apples, it’s a multi-billion dollar crime that is still going on to this day.

    That list goes on and on, too.

    Even if you disagree with me on some things, maybe you can understand why I can’t become a believer. After all, I understand childhood indoctrination, so I completely understand why you would want to be affiliated with these organizations of amoral filth.

    #4311

    Strega
    Moderator

    @dansnell Dang,  it always amazes me that the Christians believe not only that there is a god, but also that the god is good.  What if the god is capricious, or spiteful?  No no no, they say.  On what do they base this?  Certainly not on the Old Testament- the New Testament might try to show god as the Cuddly One, but it fails over and over.  If, as an atheist I were to discover that there WAS a god, I think I’d be terrified if it were the god of the Christian bibles.

    #4312

    Dang Martin
    Participant

    If, as an atheist I were to discover that there WAS a god, I think I’d be terrified if it were the god of the Christian bibles.

    As mythologies go, Yahweh is a rather horrific being, from genocide, to eternal punishment for mistakes while absolutely knowing nothing, to having a son commit suicide by cop, and all of the other horrific anecdotes.

    My guess is that some Christians would be equally horrified, especially the American Christians who don’t take it seriously and use it as a tool while bending it to whatever is convenient for them.

    There would be some who would be excited about it, drop to their knees, and stay there forever. Where is the good in that? That reminds me of another high standard that I’d have for a god, in that it must be a very secure being who does not require constant worship and validation.

    I know some Christians who will claim, as if they’re in my head, that I am denying this god and refusing to believe because he is a scary being, or maybe that I’m afraid of hell. That’s kind of putting the cart before the horse. It’s the weird assertion that would require me to first ACTUALLY believe in this god, and then believe it exists, then acknowledge it’s horrific nature, and then not believe. The chronology is wrong, and that is why it cannot apply [for those who need that explanation].

    For a Christian, the act of not believing is not that simple. Many cannot even entertain the idea that they might be wrong, for they are forbidden from questioning what they believe AT ANY TIME.

    Now, if I had to describe a god that was worthy of my acknowledgement, it would be a god who is made of peace and light. It would be a god who does not judge me and punish me, because he screwed up when he made me. Making me stupid and then punishing me for being stupid is about as amoral as it gets.

    It would be a god who had no need for eternal punishment or threats. No need for a blood sacrifice. No need for Polio, AIDS, starvation, death, and war [LOTS of war in the bible].

    It would be a god who wouldn’t put the playground next to the toxic dump, if you know what I mean.

    It would be a god who created the earth and universe for me. Our universe is deadly, as is most of the planet.

    And it would be a god who could communicate more effective, beyond stone carvings, dead sea scrolls, interpretations of conflicting stories hundreds of years later, a book created via committee / canon, visions, preachers, and images burned into toast.

    It would be a god who is worthy of worship, but who does not require it. Earned respect.

    #4315

    @ Belle: It is subjective and I never claimed it to be otherwise…All belief is subjective to every one of us.

    You did.

    But there is evidence. There is TONS…..of evidence…..you just don’t choose to see it as such.

    What you mean is that all this tons of evidence is only subjective evidence. It is your personal interpretation of how you discern what you experience. This is called “confirmation bias”. By joining a church you will engage in “group polarization” and find more and more “evidence” for your god….by listening to other peoples’ entirely subjective experiences.

    You may never have claimed otherwise but you have only now acknowledged that is it subjective. You have often asked us what we would consider to be evidence but are now only using the term “subjective” as a descriptor.  We have repeatedly said that subjective evidence is merely personal opinion and we would need something more substantial, something we would consider to be objective evidence. What that is, is something that reveals God or a god to us after interpreting whatever that would evidence turned out to be. If we knew exactly what that evidence was then we would have already found God or maybe even several gods. None of here have ever found anything. Any evidence offered so far over the last 2000 years has turned out to also be subjective. There is nothing subjective to study.

    Personal opinion or second hand reports of witnesses are not reliable sources to backup claims that are extraordinary – i.e. supernatural interventions into the natural world.  I accept your assertion that you have “found God” (my words). You consider your subjective experiences to be powerful enough evidence to move you to a position of positive belief in your God. For me I am unable to make that jump. I am unable to believe in something based upon an assumption that something that appears statistically unlikely can have no other possible answer other than “God did it”. I have posted a few “Sunday School” stories on Bayesian theory and analysis recently and you might consider the probability differently by using it.

    Allow me to make this easier for you (Yeah right, I hear you say!). Let’s take it for a granted (i.e. assume) that the deist position is true and that “a god” exists. This god is the Creator of the Universe and all that it contains, including humans. This god is the force  or prime mover behind all events within the natural world. This position is often referred to as the “God of Spinoza”. Let’s assume that this god recently interceded to help you.

    If I grant you all that and accept you are correct in your assertion that “it could only be God due to the improbability of it being anything else” (paraphrasing), then how do you know that this god is still involved in your life and that the intervention was not just a one off statistical event itself? If you believe “He” is still involved have you found any objective evidence you can share or is it still just your personal subjective opinion?

    How did you move from the position of deism to that of theism? I mean if you deduced a god intervened, how did you come to know it was the Christian God of the Bible? How do you know it is not the Muslim god, Allah or one of the Hindu gods that between them have more believers that the Christian God. Could it be because you only know of the Christian god or is that statistically improbable? Of course if you are to answer that with “We all believe in the same God”, then please admit that Jesus is not God.

    How you get from considering something to be statistically improbable enough to deduce “God did it” and that you now have a personal relationship with this God – i.e. you can talk to him and that because you now believe this you are now immortal?

    You still have not explained where Hitchens was wrong in his arguments regarding the onus of proof or given an example of where he “has a chip on his shoulder”. You might be “getting pissed off” with the “same tired arguments” but that does not refute them. Neither does calling them BS. It is a case of DrBobitis.

    I suspect you cannot find reasonable answers to them. You have been honest and admitted that the evidence for your god is entirely subjective. Most theists never do this. So why not go one step further and admit that your belief in your God is based entirely upon faith. Then there is no onus on you to prove anything. We will then believe you believe what you say you believe. We just won’t believe the same things that you believe. We will however defend and respect your rights to you believe. In life and on an atheist website, you have rights but your ideas don’t. Just like mine.

    #4317

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @strega – “Simon, if you think I’m riding roughshod over statistical analysis, you do not understand statistical analysis. You as an individual do not provide sufficient variety to form a statistic.

    – I’m drawing on “all the experiences I’ve had in my life”.  I feel that’s a pretty wide population from which to take samples or examples or 1-offs.

    #4318

    Strega
    Moderator

    Simon!  Your personal experiences, which combine your emotional state (hope, desperation, etc) with material events (a phone call, finding a tenner) have absolutely nothing to do with statistical probabilities!  Each combination of your inner and outer experiences will be as unique and individual as snowflakes or fingerprints.  You cannot cluster yourself as a statistical base!  Use a different model to make your arguments – statistics are not your friend in this matter 🙂

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