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Do Religious People Really Believe in Their Religion?

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But the whole problem is, how do you get someone operating within the realm of 'public reason,' that is, reasoning based on generally available and testable empirical facts plus logical inferences from them, to regard some transcendental perspective outside that, such as the religious dimension, as having any argumentative weight? Since all discussion has to begin within public reason, since it is impossible for rational discussion to assume that everyone already believes in truths of revelation, the essential challenge is to build a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical. To do this, you can't use a concept which is itself already metaphysical, such as a subtle and invisible set of subterranean causal connections, so that the newborn being eaten by wolves somehow turns out to be absolutely necessary or the whole universe will fall apart or some benevolent purpose will not be realized. Instead, you have to construct a link supported by empirical evidence and ordinary logical inference from it to get your initially non-metaphysical audience to accept the kind of magical 'possibility' your argument requires.

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There is something quite odd, and completely unique, with the whole epistemological attitude of believers towards their religion. Just as their everyday emotions and attitudes, such as the ease with

It is easier to die for your beliefs, than to actually live them day by day.

Marat, iNow: If we are arguing the morality of God, do we not need to assume the accuracy of the Bible in describing him? Much like we can discuss the morality of Robin Hood, but need to assume the ac

Is it just an issue of wording then, needimprovement?


How about this:

"The preponderance of evidence shows that an omnibenevolant omnipotent being does not exist, due to unnecessary suffering in the world."


"There are large categories of suffering with no apparent benefit to them, and alternative systems with less suffering are easy to think up of, so that the only reasonable conclusion is that there is unnecessary suffering"


How about this one:

"Heaven does not show the goodness nor mercy of God because there might be a lot of suffering that is the direct result of heaven"

"There really isn't any evidence that God is good, because his acts could have evil intentions and evil consequences that are not easily seen by us limited mortals"

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To complete your valuable clarification, Mr. Skeptic, we would have to add Needimprovement's position, as follows:


1. The preponderance of evidence shows that there is no God who is necessarily both omnipotent and perfectly good, since all the ordinary empirical data we can assemble and all the ordinary causal connections we can discern among that data indicate that there is unnecessary evil in the world, which contradicts the God hypothesis.


2. However, we can at least imagine that the apparently unnecessary evil in the world is somehow excused by its being essentially linked to some benevolent outcome or redemptive consequence, and this ability to imagine some presently invisible link which ameliorates this evil suffices to rebut all the empirical evidence and demonstrable logical inference from that evidence which says that the apparent evil cannot be excused.


3. Therefore, the ability to imagine alternatives to the logical inferences arising from the available evidence suffices to neutralize the force of that evidence and those inferences.


But this is not really how thinking operates, since my ability to imagine that in some particular case the lights in my room go on because invisible fairies provide a glow from their magic wands would never outweigh my belief that the ordinary evidence of my senses and my logical inference from my senses supports the theory that the lights go on because flipping the switch completes a contact in the electrical circuit which produces the resulting glow.

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One of the problem is that we are placing human value judgement's on god's intent. This is called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan said, if you eat of this tree you will be like a god knowing good from evil. I suppose that brings comfort and security. But this turned out to be a con job. This is analogous to a small child trying to second guess the intent of their parents. "I will suffer if I can't watch my TV show". Based on the child's knowledge of good and evil, he will indeed bring himself suffering onto himself and his parents (guilt) since he knows best, like god.


Animals act via their instincts and not via some subjective philosophical value judgement of good and evil. Their inner actions and results are neutral with respect to human value judgements. They act via what is called the tree of life. It is similar to the evolutionary tree, reflecting the eons of advantages and forward momentum of life perfecting itself. Once you add subjective knowledge of good and evil, to this momentum of life, you start to undermine life and bring suffering.


For example, the lion hunts and kills animals to survive. There is a balance in nature with respect to their actions, which are morally neutral. Next, let us add a human subjective apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For now on, all the killing of the lion will be called evil. Say we can get the lion to buy into this and deny his instinct, he will suffer. Then we will say god is not perfect since he makes the lion suffer.


Wisdom is more advanced than knowledge, since wisdom remains while knowledge changes. What is evil yesterday is now good, and what is good today we may decide will be evil tomorrow. Salt may someday soon be evil. Once we pass this apple around and the black market adds salt to its many goods and service to meet the needs of this new victimless crime, then we will wonder why god allows suffering.

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But before you can put human intelligence into a subordinate position so that the limitations of its inferential capacity no longer become problems with the lack of evidence to prove something, but instead become problems of a small intellect being unable to understand the superior design of a Higher Being, you have to have the Higher Being to generate that perspective of inferiority for human intellect. But unless you have already adopted the religious perspective, you cannot put the human inability to prove the case for all the evil of the world being ultimately good into question by asserting the REAL possibility that the superior wisdom of some Higher Being may know that it is ultimately good. You can at most say that you can imagine some connection of things which would show that all the evil in the world ultimately turns out to be for the good, but you cannot establish the case for your argument as solidly as the empirical evidence and the logical inference from it establishes the opposing argument.


Saying that there could possibly be a causal connection of things we cannot yet see or make sense of by which all the evil in the world could be excused is no different from my imagining that there exists something equally elusive to sense or causal logic which I call 'Marat's Truth-Fairy,' which is an omnipotent being which guarantees that everything I write is true. Your inability to prove that it is impossible that that being exists would not leave open a real possibility that my Truth-Fairy exists, even if I asserted that I could imagine a Truth Fairy which had a superior intellect to human wisdom.

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One of the problem is that we are placing human value judgement's on god's intent.

What we are doing is holding up the actions of God against what God said is good.


If God defines certain actions as good or evil, and God is the ultimate authority on Good and Evil, then if God takes an action that is evil, is not God, by His own definition Evil?


Ok, but I am talking about cruelty, not evil. Evil and cruelty are not the same thing. Sure, cruelty can be vil, but some cruelty can also be good. Also, just because something is evil does not make it cruel.


Lets take killing as an example. According to the bible it is evil to kill (it is one of the 10 commandments). So, according to the bible, euthinasia is evil, but as it removes the suffering of the patient, then this action is not cruel.


This means it is possible to have actions that are good and both cruel or not cruel. It is also possible to have actions that are evil, but they can also be cruel or not cruel.


This is called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan said, if you eat of this tree you will be like a god knowing good from evil.

But knowing the difference between Good and Evil, because suffering is an unrelated property, does not give or remove or ability to suffer (BTW it wasn't Satan that said it, it was the serpent - they are not the same thing).


This is analogous to a small child trying to second guess the intent of their parents. "I will suffer if I can't watch my TV show". Based on the child's knowledge of good and evil, he will indeed bring himself suffering onto himself and his parents (guilt) since he knows best, like god.

No, that is the child trying to use guilt to cause their parents to change their minds. This is not knowedlge of good and evil, so this analogy is false.


Not getting your own way is an essential thing we have to learn. We are not omnipotent beings, so it is imposible for us to get our own way all the time, thus this is something we have to learn and deal with. It is a suffering we can not remove by our limited powers. An omnipotent God could eliminate this suffering, and in fact must be able to do as all suffering is supposed to be eliminated once one gets to heaven (so we must be able to get our own way all the time).


However, if God can eliminate this suffering, and we don't need this lesson once our mortal lives have been spent (as in heaven we will always get our own way), why then can't we have the power to get our own way (or God allow us to)? It means that as this "lesson" derived from the suffering of not getting our own way only applies to our mortal existance and is therefore unnecesary.


In fact, if we apply this to all suffering that we can experience, the only suffering we can experience is when we are not in heaven. As existance in heaven is infinite, then any suffering we have is of finite length. Any finite number divided by infinity is infintesimal. IT means that the impact of any suffering on any of the existance of us or God is so minute it is virtually meaningless. This makes any suffering unnecesary as with all of infinity to achieve His ends, God could do anyhting to achieve it without causing any suffering.


Also as God has the power to eliminate suffering (as He has done in heaven), then this means that all suffeirng for what ever reason is unnecesary and to allow it means that God is cruel.

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