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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 02:51 PM

Good Friday’s big question: Is doubt good?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/admitting-doubts-may-be-first-step-to-ending-religious-divisions/2012/04/05/gIQAU2hoxS_story.html?tid=pm_national_pop



By Lisa Miller, Published: April 5

During Shabbat services at my temple last weekend, in an effort to get the kids excited for Passover, the prayer leaders asked the children which part of the Exodus story they liked the best.

Many said, “The parting of the Red Sea!”

Some said, “When Miriam dances and sings on the opposite shore!”

A tiny one said, “Frogs!,” referring to one of the plagues God visited upon the Egyptians.

Then a little boy, about 7 years old, raised his hand. “I don’t believe the story,” he said.

much more at link

94 replies, 7633 views

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Reply Good Friday’s big question: Is doubt good? (Original post)
cbayer Apr 2012 OP
rrneck Apr 2012 #1
cbayer Apr 2012 #3
rrneck Apr 2012 #5
AlbertCat Apr 2012 #89
Lydia Leftcoast Apr 2012 #12
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #14
Lydia Leftcoast Apr 2012 #15
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #16
longship Apr 2012 #2
cbayer Apr 2012 #4
skepticscott Apr 2012 #8
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #6
cbayer Apr 2012 #7
skepticscott Apr 2012 #9
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #10
skepticscott Apr 2012 #11
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #17
cbayer Apr 2012 #18
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #19
cbayer Apr 2012 #20
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #22
cbayer Apr 2012 #23
PassingFair Apr 2012 #25
cbayer Apr 2012 #26
PassingFair Apr 2012 #36
cbayer Apr 2012 #42
PassingFair Apr 2012 #44
Warren Stupidity Apr 2012 #85
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #30
PassingFair Apr 2012 #37
Warpy Apr 2012 #51
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #53
cbayer Apr 2012 #54
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #56
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #68
Warpy Apr 2012 #74
cbayer Apr 2012 #76
Warpy Apr 2012 #84
Warpy Apr 2012 #93
AlbertCat Apr 2012 #91
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #80
PassingFair Apr 2012 #50
cbayer Apr 2012 #55
PassingFair Apr 2012 #78
Thats my opinion Apr 2012 #79
PassingFair Apr 2012 #82
AlbertCat Apr 2012 #90
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #29
edhopper Apr 2012 #31
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #34
edhopper Apr 2012 #40
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #57
edhopper Apr 2012 #86
PassingFair Apr 2012 #47
cbayer Apr 2012 #35
PassingFair Apr 2012 #41
cbayer Apr 2012 #43
PassingFair Apr 2012 #45
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #58
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #60
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #63
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #65
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #67
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #70
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #73
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #75
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #77
tama Apr 2012 #94
PassingFair Apr 2012 #39
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #59
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #61
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #66
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #71
PassingFair Apr 2012 #21
pinto Apr 2012 #27
PassingFair Apr 2012 #38
pinto Apr 2012 #48
PassingFair Apr 2012 #49
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #62
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #64
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #69
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #72
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #13
pinto Apr 2012 #24
Thats my opinion Apr 2012 #28
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #32
PassingFair Apr 2012 #46
Warpy Apr 2012 #52
Thats my opinion Apr 2012 #81
Warpy Apr 2012 #83
edhopper Apr 2012 #33
Igel Apr 2012 #87
edhopper Apr 2012 #92
AlbertCat Apr 2012 #88

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:18 PM

1. I'm trying to get

a set of optics resurrected from an old telephoto lens into a painting right now. Technically, it's a bit of a trick and I haven't' even gotten to the formal and content issues yet. It may be some of the best work I've ever done. It may be a piece of shit. I don't know. But I'm dying to find out.

Art, like faith, doesn't give us a place to stop. It offers us a place to start. The certainty of faith is not found in the termination of a search for some comfortable possession. The "journey" of faith and what it may offer us is all too often understood to be a "been there done that" outlet mall vacation. The only certainty faith can offer us is the certainty that we will take another step forward and see what happens next. When we take that step we can make a rational evaluation regarding how well things worked out. If all looks well, faith is easy. In the face of failure, our faith faces a test. Sometimes if we want to continue in the face of contrary evidence we have to make a bit of a leap.

I can get those optics mounted and stacked, but how in the hell am I going to get enough light into the back of the damn thing to expose the work underneath the lenses? I'll just have to build it and see what happens...

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Response to rrneck (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:30 PM

3. "Art, like faith, doesn't give us a place to stop. It offers us a place to start."

What a great line.

Good luck with your painting. I wish that I had an ounce of right brain creativity. As it is, I am so left brained, I tilt when I am upright.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:41 PM

5. LOL!

I can teach you how to draw in one fifteen minute lesson. The rest is just practice. Everybody is an artist, people manifest it in a million different ways.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 04:54 PM

89. Art, like faith, doesn't give us a place to stop. It offers us a place to start.

Baloney.

Art is nothing like faith.

Faith is the END of inquiry. Because you believe it without proof. If you are asking questions about your faith.... that has a name... DOUBT.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 10:34 PM

12. +1: Great analysis

Faith is not "believing ten impossible things before breakfast." It is indeed a journey.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #12)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 10:51 PM

14. How so?

Exploration is a journey.

Faith, according to centuries of traditional definitions, is belief in something for which you have no evidence. It is, according to the songs, "the peace that passeth all understanding."

Faith does not lead to exploration. In fact, for hundreds of millions of Christians in "the heartland", faith actually discourages exploration.

From what I see of faith, once you embrace it the journey stops.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #14)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 11:03 PM

15. Not in the way traditional (as opposed to fundie) Christians actually use it

It changes as you grow. There have always been mystical and allegorical interpretations of the Bible.

To take a very crude example, think of The Simpsons. On one level, it's slapstick. On another level, it's clever sight gags and word play. On another level, it's social and political criticism.

Religion is like that, too. It has many different levels.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #15)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 11:05 PM

16. I can't explain why, but my first thought was

"You know, not everybody likes onions."

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:26 PM

2. The most important thing to doubt...

Your own beliefs, no matter what they are.

That is something the Republicans do not understand. It is precisely what we have to fight.

Unfortunately, we all seem to listen to our own echo chambers. That's certainly true of the Republicans and probably many of us Dems as well.

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

Oliver Cromwell, letter to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland (August 3, 1650)

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Response to longship (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:31 PM

4. Very much agree. That is why it is so hard to answer

some questions that are asked in this group.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:36 PM

8. Another reason it is so hard for some people

is that they are confronted here with challenges to their opinions and worldview that they never had to deal when formulating them, and they have become so entrenched in those beliefs that they simply cannot admit that they are wrong, so they will go to any length to avoid an honest answer that they know in their hearts would undermine them.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 04:31 PM

6. In the final analysis, doubt is all we have, and all we ever will have.

 

For many that's such a terrifying concept that they lie to themselves and claim they have certainty. And that applies both to the certainty that there is a god, and the certainty that there is not. Both forms of certainty are self-deceit, and as such must be defended vociferously whenever the truth threatens to break through.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 04:45 PM

7. Agree. It is those who think they absolutely know that are the most frightening.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:45 PM

9. Compare and contrast

how most atheists would feel if they were confronted with overwhelming evidence that the god of the Bible really did exist (which evidence would be trivially easy for said god to provide, if he really did exist), with how most religious believers would feel when confronted with the revelation that their god didn't exist.

Ask atheists what evidence would convince them that said god exists, and you'll get straight answers (for which the requested evidence is never produced). Ask religious believers what evidence would convince them that their god doesn't exist, and you'll get either blank looks and avoidance, or professions that nothing could convince them of that.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #9)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:37 PM

10. I guess you put me in my place, huh?

 

I wish I had your certainty. Living without having all the answers is just so taxing. (I'm going to go lay down for a while now.)

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #10)


Response to skepticscott (Reply #11)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:16 AM

17. Forty years ago

 

when I was in graduate school, having been trained to be oh so rational and scientific, I shared your comforting certainty.

Now, forty year later, I realize that my pretense of certainty was a refuge from the fear that uncertainty brought. I had two choices, continue to pretend to be certain of the omnipotent power of science to know everything worth knowing, or learn to live with uncertainty.

No, I don't know anything about your certainty. I only know what I remember of my own certainty. As for my being clueless, well, I too, once shared your need to assert my superiority to those who didn't see things "as clearly" as I did.

Leave yourself a note, or a diary somewhere safe, so you can look at it 40 years in the future, and see if your attitudes have changed by then. (Or are you as wise now as you ever will be?)

"...remain always uncertain... In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar." --Richard Feynman

"With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another." - G. C. Lichtenberg

"A danger sign of the lapse from true skepticism in to dogmatism is an inability to respect those who disagree" - Dr. Leonard George

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 11:56 AM

18. My experiences are similar to yours. Now I embrace the uncertainty and I am humbled.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #18)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:10 PM

19. What exactly do you mean by "embrace the uncertainty"?

The only thing I'm certain about is that I'm not certain. Science, unlike what the previous poster implied with his comments about "omnipotence" is not about certainty. It's about falsifiable theories. No matter how well constructed a theory may be, we must always allow for the possibility that new evidence will present itself and force us to either alter the theory or do away with it all together in favor of a new one. That is the definition of uncertainty.

Religion, on the other hand, preaches certainty. God is always there, always watching, and he/she (religion depending) will take care of you. He/she has a plan. Everything happens for a reason.

I was raised Lutheran, and we attended church regularly, and it never dawned on my to question my faith until I grew a bit older and started to meet people outside of my particular circle. First I turned my back on Christianity, then on religion all together (though it was a slow process). It was an at times a terrifying yet absolutely freeing experience in which I had no choice but to, as you say, embrace the uncertainty as I abandoned the false certainty of my religion.

Sorry, but it seems to me like you both have things backwards, but if you think I've made an error here in my reasoning, I invite you to try and correct it.

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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #19)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:27 PM

20. Not all religion preaches certainty at all.

The assumptions you make about what religious people believe (god is always there, always watching, always taking care of you) are narrow and based on some obviously thin slice of religion you have been fed.

I find atheists in general (or at least the ones who frequent this site) to be much more certain than the theists I know. They are virtually convinced that they know the answers, although they do recognize that there is a small MOE there.

I am glad you feel free, but I don't think you have found the answer.

This is how I see it. If I give you a blank piece of paper and tell you that it contains everything that can be known or even is known by all who have ever lived and then ask you to draw a circle showing what part of it you know, how would you answer?

Perhaps it is you who has things backwards.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:08 PM

22. The assumptions I make about religion are based on every religions figure I have ever met.

We moved around a lot when I was growing up, attended a lot of different churches of various denominations, and the one ever present factor from all from all of them was the certainty of God. But I will admit this is a narrow slice of all world religions, so if there is a segment of Christianity that doesn't believe God is always there, I welcome you to introduce me to it.

I think you are confusing certainty with doubt when it comes to atheists. I doubt that a carpenter who lived 2000 years ago is my lord and savior, because to date no evidence has been provided to demonstrate this fact. I share the same doubt across all religions, and based on the evidence available, do not believe in a god or gods. The arguments presented to me to convince me otherwise have been sorely lacking to say the least. But I remain open to evidence being produced in the future to prove me wrong, I just don't find it likely that such evidence will manifest itself.

As for your paper experiment, my circle would not be visible on the sheet. The knowledge base of man kind as a whole is still very small and we are just scratching the surface. It excites me to think of the new wonders my children and their children may yet discover.



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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #22)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:16 PM

23. But an atheist by definition is certain there is no god (with maybe a small scintilla of not being

completely sure).

With so much not known, I find it preferable to keep an open mind in this area. It bothers me not a bit that there are those like yourself who feel pretty sure they have got the answer.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #23)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 02:40 PM

25. You've been here long enough to know that VERY FEW atheists define themselves that way.

I don't know ANY in real life. And I've seen only one or two on DU...

Most atheists will tell you that there is no evidence of your (or any) god,
therefore, BELIEF is unwarranted.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #25)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 02:54 PM

26. When people tell believers that they are delusional, that is saying that what they believe

in is patently false.

To me that means that they think what they believe in (or don't believe in) is patently true.

Belief being unwarranted from a personal perspective is one thing. Telling people they are psychotic for seeing it differently is quite another.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #26)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:52 PM

36. Who told you you were psychotic?

Andrea Yates was psychotic.

If someone you knew told you that they wore
tin foil on their heads to keep the radio waves
from making them do things, would you believe them?

If they told you that they believed that dead people
came back to life and walked around and then disappeared
again, would you believe them?

At what point am I allowed to not keep a straight face?

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #36)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:17 PM

42. Delusions are symptoms of psychosis, therefore calling someone delusional

is calling them psychotic.

I might not believe the people who told me about tin foil hats or seeing dead people, but I would believe that they believed it. If I didn't I wouldn't get very far with them.

Not sure why you would want to laugh at me.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #42)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:23 PM

44. Who said I was laughing? I could have been rolling my eyeballs.

"I might not believe the people who told me about tin foil hats or seeing dead people, but I would believe that they believed it."

And I believe that you believe in what you believe.

Pssssst...YOU were the one who posted the OP on DOUBT.

So, I guess this is an exercise in shoring up yours?

Or, what?

In my experience, religion has little room for the kid
who points out that the emperor has no clothes.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #26)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 09:36 AM

85. That discussion was about the validity of religious experiences by psychotic people.

Unless of course you are referring to some other less recent discussion. The claim was not that all people who have religious experiences are psychotic, the claim was that a psychotic persons religious experience was just as valid a religious experience as a non psychotic persons.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #25)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:25 PM

30. Most atheists I know are quite certain that there is no god.

 

And even when they VERBALLY claim otherwise, their behavior betrays their true beliefs. They find in necessary to insult and denigrate everyone who entertains the possibility of things they don't believe in.

Quite frankly, their certainty rests on their conviction that what they believe is self-evident to any intelligent person. Therefore, they conclude, any person who does not agree with them is defective in some way. To accept that an intelligent, well educated person might disagree with their position is to admit that their position is not so self-evident as they would like to believe, so they MUST, in order to protect their delusion of certainty, attack the messenger and assure themselves that anyone who doubts them is defective.

You see this in the language used in this forum by atheists. Their first line of defense is to belittle those who disagree, and to set up ridiculous straw-man arguments (Oh, you believe in MAGIC, and angels dancing on the head of a pin, do you?) They cannot simply accept that an intelligent, well educated person might disagree with them. That would create to high a level of discomfort with their feigned certainty.

And it is the same feeling of being threatened by opposing opinions that drives the fundamentalist to attack the messenger as well.

"A danger sign of the lapse from true skepticism in to dogmatism is an inability to respect those who disagree" --Dr. Leonard George

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #30)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:54 PM

37. This is CLASSIC projection.

"And it is the same feeling of being threatened by opposing opinions that drives the fundamentalist to attack the messenger as well. "

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #30)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:05 PM

51. Well, look at it this way

There is a tiny possibility that a pink and purple striped hippopotamus is flying over my house right now and will shit down my chimney. However, the probability is so slight that I live my life without fear of having to call the sweep to clean hippo shit out of the chimney.

I consider the existence of gods to share that same degree of probability.

There is always a degree of doubt for anything we haven't directly experienced and some of what we have. However, acknowledging that doubt is very small doesn't constitute belief for atheists, rather than the lack of any evidence to encourage it.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #51)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:20 PM

53. Well put.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #51)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:29 PM

54. Hereis the difference.

If most of the people in your neighborhood, or not even most but a substantial proportion, think there is a pink and purple striped hippopotamus flying over your house, there may in fact be one.

They may not be able to prove it to you, but someday it might shit down your chimney.

Whether you choose to believe or not is your choice. Doesn't make any difference in the long run, I suspect.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #54)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:36 PM

56. That's fallacious argumentation. Would you care to guess which fallacy?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #54)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:35 PM

68. But if enough people believe

In creationism they are apparently still dumbasses. You were pretty certain about that, weren't you? Why do you get to have that level of certainty about someone's beliefs?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #54)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 09:01 PM

74. Well, I'd see them putting caps on their chimneys

and organizing meetings to deal with the flying hippos and therein lies the real difference.

I lack the expense plus the need to attend the meetings.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #74)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 09:21 PM

76. And that's ok. You don't have to go.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #76)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 01:28 AM

84. Only as long as they don't get their way

If they take over government, they'll pass all sorts of laws requiring chimney caps and attendance at hippo appeasement meetings.

You know they will.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #54)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 08:39 PM

93. There has never been shit down my chimney

nor anyone else's during my lifetime nor was it recorded in any reliable record before me. It exists only in anecdote form, "They say if you don't put an expensive cap on your chimney and go to the appeasement meetings, you'll have terrible consequences" and "I heard from somebody on the bus that they knew somebody at work who talked to somebody who said it happened."

Personally, I don't believe a word of it because there has never been any evidence of it.

Get that? Don't believe.

That's different from "believe." Believe it or not.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #51)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 05:12 PM

91. Exactly

I would also add that most religious people go about their daily business as if god didn't exist. Unless of course they pray not to die every time they get in the car, or turn on a light, fall asleep, eat.... oh wait many do say "grace"... but I'm not sure what blessing food to the nourishment of their bodies actually means (Dear god.... please don't make this roast cardboard) and I'll bet neither do they. Most religious people know little about their religion and cannot explain what all those catch phrases like "Power in the blood!" or even "give your heart to...." actually means.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #23)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:56 PM

80. Sorry, but atheists are not by definition certain there is no god.

You could argue atheists, by definition, do not believe in a god or gods existence, but few atheists I know of will claim unequivocally that there is no god and no evidence will ever surface that says otherwise.

The scientist in me simply cannot take such a hard line position as I must allow for the possibility that evidence may surface at a future date that would change my belief. But do I think this is likely to happen? Let's just say I'm not holding my breath.

The only answer that I know for sure is that, to date, there is yet to be produced any solid, testable evidence that the god of the bible exists, or the god of any other religion for that matter.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 05:35 PM

50. Religion make the claims.

Your religion claims that dead people were resurrected.

And your religion claims that this is a certainty.

And that if you don't believe it, you are not a Christian.

Unless I am confused about what Christians believe.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #50)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:32 PM

55. You don't know anything about *my* religion and are in no position to tell

me what I am or what I am not.

I rarely, if ever, talk about my own beliefs or lack of beliefs and have no interest in trying to convince anyone that they should think as I do, whether they be believers or not.

When you make assumptions about what Christians believe or what defines a Christian, the brush is always too broad. The only thing one might be able to say with certainty about them is they are Christ (or Jesus) followers.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #55)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:48 PM

78. As far as I know, "Christians" are bound to believe in Christ's divinity.

And you seem to have no problem defining atheism to atheists.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #50)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:54 PM

79. There are millions of Christians who don't make that claim.

Cite your credentials for defining what Christian people must believe.
ikn your last line would you be willing to include the word "some"?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #79)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 11:08 PM

82. What Christians don't believe that Jesus was the "son of God"?

What Christians don't believe in Christ?

I admit, there are "millions" of people I haven't met.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #20)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 05:00 PM

90. They are virtually convinced that they know the answers,

Only to things that there is evidence for.

And if some evidence comes along that changes the consensus.... they incorporate that.

Religion has none of that.

You do have it backwards.... religion thinks it has "all the answers" and that something for which there is zero evidence MUST exist... gods.

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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #19)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:14 PM

29. Certain religions preach certainty. Certain skeptics preach certainty.

 

Some religions claim to have all the answers.
Some atheists claim to have all the answers, at least where the possibility of the existence non-physical realities is concerned.

I believe in science, and I trust science. I just do not see science as the be-all and end-all. I certainly do not believe in Christianity. That's just silly mythology to my way of thinking. But I certainly do not dismiss the possibility that there are non-physical aspects of reality that science is not well equipped to deal with. About those I remain uncertain.

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality." --Carl Sagan


"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." --Albert Einstein

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #29)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:29 PM

31. Both were atheist

They did not use those terms as you think.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #31)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:36 PM

34. And both knew the dangers of feigned certainty.

 

Unlike many amateur science groupies who use science as their substitute for religion, and tell themselves how very smart they are in their certainty.

Many atheists who post here are the groupies, not the real scientists. I consider myself an atheist too, but I don't let myself fall into the trap of pretending to be certain.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #34)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:06 PM

40. So your an agnostic?

not an atheist.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #40)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:02 PM

57. Time and time again in this forum

 

I have had people flame me for claiming that atheists believe that there is no god.

Over and over I have been told by self-professed atheists that "atheist" means a lack of belief in any god, NOT a belief in the lack of any god.

So in my experience the atheists here like to claim that "atheist" and "agnostic" are synonymous. I don't really think so, but the last thing in the world I want is to get into that tired old flame war yet again. I've fought that battle a thousand times on DU.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #57)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 10:28 AM

86. Wasn't going there.

I thought you were saying in your post #34 that you aren't sure if there is a God or not. To me that is an agnostic.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #34)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:33 PM

47. If you consider yourself an atheist, you claim to have specific knowledge of the supernatural's

non-existence.

At least that's what I've been told in this thread.

So, for this thread, I've decided to call myself an agnostic.

Since I'm that, as well.

Who are the "groupies" that post here?

I see a lot of atheists posting on DU.

Which ones are "groupies"?

I might want to join their group!

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Response to edhopper (Reply #31)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:39 PM

35. Neither Sagan nor Einstein identified themselves as atheists.

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed"

Carl Sagan


I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things.

Albert Einstein

Both identified themselves as agnostic.

Wise men, both.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #35)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:16 PM

41. Many Atheists eshew the label. Mostly because of the "accepted" definition.

Regarding Carl Sagan:


According to his last wife, Ann Druyan, he was not a believer:

When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me—it still sometimes happens—and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl.


The word atheist, however it is DEFINED actually MEANS:

WITHOUT theistic beliefs.

WITHOUT theism.

A NON-BELIEVER of theistic beliefs.

I identify as an atheist. I have NO god beliefs.

I TELL people I am an AGNOSTIC, because I am ALSO
an AGNOSTIC, and because people don't demonize me
as much when I use that word.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #41)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:20 PM

43. I let people define themselves in these regards, and put little weight on what others may say about

them.

I doubt that either Sagan or Einstein were hiding behind their own description of themselves.


They identified neither as theists nor atheists.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #43)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:24 PM

45. Um if you are not a theist, then what are you?

A non-theist.

Or an a-theist.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #45)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:08 PM

58. I've posted this list before

 

Which best describes you

1. I Believe that God definitely exists.
2. I believe that god might exist.
3. I have no beliefs one way or the other.
4. I believe that there probably is no god.
5. I believe that god definitely does not exist.

Most atheists I know choose #5, while the proper definition of "atheist" is #3.
On the other hand, modern English usage (Greek derivations aside) #3 is "agnostic" and #5 is "atheist".

And of course, something like half the self-defined atheists will tell me that's wrong, and the other half will say it's right. And both halves will know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they, and only they are correct.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #58)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:12 PM

60. 3 and 4 are the same person

Agnostic atheist. I think you're having too much fun with the word "probably".

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #60)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:21 PM

63. See. No two people can agree on the definitions.

 

Because a lot of other people when I've posted this list in the past had very different opinions on how the continuum should be divided up. Not many agreed with, but not many agreed with you either.

So there you go. More evidence that matters of believe can't really be discussed rationally.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #63)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:27 PM

65. See, you're just digging for disagreement, and your definitions show that.

You've spent far too much time and effort trying to prove that you are right (not to mention superior).

That middle you keep telling people that you occupy? That middle that you insist exists and that you are the sole member of? It's bullshit.

And I think you already know it. The number of times that you've been shown a consensus here regarding the definitions of "gnostic theist," "agnostic theist," "agnostic atheist," and "gnostic atheist" make it quite clear to me that you know exactly what you're doing when you run back to your precious list and claim everyone except you is irrational.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #65)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:31 PM

67. Ah. I disagree with you thus I am irrational. OK. I can live with that.

 

But this is getting boring so I'm going to drop it. (Or tell yourself you've won and that I'm running away if that makes you happy.)

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #67)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:45 PM

70. Did I call you irrational? No. I called you down for telling others that THEY were.

If you're going to take the wounded bow out, you could at least get your facts straight.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #70)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 09:01 PM

73. OK. Here's the straight poop.

 

You and I and several other of the usual suspects have argued this subject for a couple years now here at DU.

It's pretty clear that I think I know what I'm talking about, and it's pretty clear that you think you know what you're talking about. We're both intelligent people, of that there can be no doubt. (I'm basing my appraisal on your responses which are educated and intelligent. And I know my own IQ and what degrees I have, so I know I'm not stupid either.)

I'm only frustrated because you seem to be missing the point I'm trying to make, and clearly I'm missing the point you are trying to make. I always regret, in retrospect, when things get snarky (and I'm confessing my own snarkiness as well). The problem seems to be a meta-problem, in that we see the world in vastly different ways. (Yes, I know, your way of seeing the world is reality based. But I make the same claim, just based on a broader reality. (or so I would like to think))

One thing is clear, however, and that is that neither of us will ever convince the other that our respective points of view have any validity.

And yet the irony is that I'm sure we agree on most substantive issues. I am an atheist. I doubt there is a god, but I"m not positive of it. There may be something that could be broadly defined as "god", but I'm virtually certain it has nothing to do with the Judeo/Islamic/Christian version of deity. (I feel I can safely leaf Zeus and Apollo out of the mix as well.) I don't believe in magic or astrology or unicorns, or other fairy tales.

Where we probably part company is here: I have had numerous experiences I can only refer to as "psychic" so I tend to be sympathetic to parapsychology, and because of my own personal experiences, I get somewhat annoyed with those who are perfunctorily dismissive of the field. (Especially when their only justification seems to be their certainty that such things are not possible.) I have, among others, a degree in math, and I know a lot about probability theory, so I'm not easily fooled by coincidences that the less mathematically literate might take as "proof" of ESP. So I am no naive believer in that respect. I lived for two years in a house I can only describe as "haunted". It was that experience that broadened my horizons from the arch-skeptic that I was trained to be. I tried very hard to dismiss and discount what experienced in that house. Finally I realized that the evidence was going to continue to resist my every effort to ignore it, ("Reality" is what continues to exist even if you don't want to believe it.) and I had to be honest with myself and admit that there is more to reality than physical reality. This, of course, left me impatient with those who claimed that physical reality was the only reality. But try to explain that to somebody who doesn't want to hear it.

Seeing where I'm coming from perhaps you'll agree with me that there is really no point in either of us trying to convince the other of anything. We will both simply have to come to whatever conclusions our life experience leads us to, and be tolerant of each other's point of view, and respectful toward each other as genuine and sincere people who are both interested in getting to the truth.

So instead of trying to convince you of my perspective I will simply let it go. Maybe some day you will have the kind of experiences that will make it possible for you to see from my perspective. Or maybe you won't. And probably, it doesn't even matter. And no, I'm not saying my perspective is better; just different. And I remember what it was like seeing the world from your perspective because I spent many decades in that place. If, someday, something happens and you experience the world from my perspective, you'll get it, and you'll probably get why it's so darn frustrating trying to explain to people who don't get it. But either way, nobody can possibly prove anything to anybody about that perspective. And most definitely not by typing words in a forum post.

So what say we both stop wasting our time on this and find something more productive to do?

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #73)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 09:16 PM

75. Another assumption, this time about my "perspective" and where it lies in relation to yours.

This is a common mistake of most people. We project onto others those thoughts and experiences that we see as "universal". You think that because I'm a skeptic, and because you feel that certain skeptical thoughts and experiences are universal, that I'm in the same place that you were years ago.

The fact is, there's no way for either of us to know that, and for you to assume so is baseless.

Experience is not evidence, and the brain is easiliy fooled. If you have come to a conclusion based on "paranormal" experiences that you were unable to investigate or substantiate with evidence, then you have quite simply never occupied the same position that I do, and we differ far more than I care to express.

And if you feel that you are wasting time, that is no fault of mine. If you're looking to do something productive, then you should avoid restarting the same argument on the same forum for what is at least the fourth time.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #75)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 09:24 PM

77. Point taken. nt

 

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #73)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 04:56 AM

94. Naming and calling

 

I've too had my share of "psychic" experiences, and those include calling or invoking a force of nature by a mythological name. The act's of calling tend to get a response of sorts, some physical experience - ie. it works. Word's and names give shape to intention (which is not purely subjective matter), but that does not mean that these kinds of experiences should be taken as proof of objective existence of mythological spirits or beings (better not!), even though these experiences are not purely subjective either, but often shared by several persons.

There is no a priori or scientific reasons to assume that sentient and intentional beings and communication are limited to biology of classical matter.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #29)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:01 PM

39. Atheists claim that there is no EVIDENCE of "non-physical realities" (LOL)

Show an atheist evidence, and you will create a believer.

Do you believe that Zeus fathered Ares?

Do you believe in Zeus at all?

If not, why not?

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #39)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:11 PM

59. Show an atheist evidence, and you will create a believer.

 

Now that's the funniest thing I've read in a long time!

That's like saying show a birther a birth certificate and you create a non-birther.

The thing is, human nature doesn't work anything like that. Show a skeptic overwhelming evidence for something he doesn't believe in and he will only redouble his resistance and denial.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #59)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:13 PM

61. Prove it. ;)

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #61)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:28 PM

66. Search the literature in psychology.

 

You'll find all the proof you need to cause you to dig your heels in even deeper.

I'm not going to do the research for you because I already know the answer and don't really care whether you get it or not.

You, of course, will respond that I'm copping out and avoiding answering your challenge, when, in fact, I HAVE answered your challenge: "search the literature". If you really care (which I suspect you don't) you'll find your evidence. Then come back here and tell me that evidence changed YOUR mind. I'm betting it won't because you will have a dozen rationalizations about why this or that study was "bogus" or "poorly designed" or "meaningless" or whatever other defense mechanism you erect to protect your entrenched point of view.

So if I do all the leg work and search the literature for you, knowing in advance that whatever I show you will only cause you to become more entrenched in your position, then what kind of a fool does that make me? If you care, go find out for yourself. (Or dismiss this post with some snark or another. Either way is fine with me.)

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #66)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:47 PM

71. I HAVE searched the literature. Psychology is something I'm pretty familiar with.

I've found nothing to substantiate your specific claim about skeptics. Try again.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:55 PM

21. Embracing the unknown is what atheists and agnostics do.

"Believers" are embracing constructs and imaginary "truths".

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #21)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 02:59 PM

27. Maybe the terminology and labels ought to change. All seem to embrace the unknown.

In one way or another. That we know that we don't know seems a common bond.

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Response to pinto (Reply #27)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:57 PM

38. Except some people just admit that we don't know.

And others believe in pleasing stories.

And they teach these stories to their children as TRUTH.

But yes, underneath, we are all in the same boat, rowing until we can't row any more,
and going, well, nowhere. As far as we know.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #38)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:51 PM

48. Why?

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Response to pinto (Reply #48)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 05:01 PM

49. Why what?

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #38)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:18 PM

62. I'm only saying that some people...

 

are BELIEVERS in the infallibility of science and the correctness of their own beliefs regarding the ultimate nature of life, the universe, and everything.

If, like me, you can admit to yourself that you don't know everything then you and I are on the same page and we have nothing to disagree about. What I disagree with are those who turn science, the highest and most noble accomplishment of the human race, into a new kind of religion; "scientism", and claim certainty about the the existence and non-existence of things which cannot be proven or disproven.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #62)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:22 PM

64. Give an example of one of those people.

Your straw man is contradictory. No one who understood science would believe it infallible, and no one I've ever met who believes in anything or anyone infallible thinks that science is worthwhile.

So yeah, I'm gonna need an example, because otherwise it sounds to me like you're just making shit up.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #64)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:37 PM

69. I'm making shit up. I declare you the winner. Feel better now? nt

 

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #69)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:53 PM

72. If "winning" is what you're concerned about, you're doing this wrong.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 10:47 PM

13. Yet another unimpressive claim of finding "truth" in a non-existent middle. Yawn.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:55 PM

24. Yes. Doubt's the co-pilot of discovery, imho.

If no questions were ever asked what would we have? Blind certainty is still blind.

My sense is that some sense of spirituality, and the doubt that it entails, co-exists with the greatest doubters of popular history. Those who posed questions - Archimedes, Pythagoras, Galileo, Moses, Thomas, Luther, Einstein, Gandhi, Tutu, MLK, the guy that stood alone in Tienanmen Square, that little boy in the article and, yeah, Jesus.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:08 PM

28. if you come across someone with no doubts--look out! nt

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #28)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:29 PM

32. That's for sure!

 

"I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." --Richard Feynman

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #28)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 04:29 PM

46. +1

"Revealed Truth" is
propaganda most foul.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #28)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:08 PM

52. I think that's the only post of yours I've agreed with completely

People who are absolutely certain are to be avoided like the plague.

Look at Dubya. Nobody was more certain of his BS than he was.

I'm just wondering if he's being completely protected from the consequences of it.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #52)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 11:01 PM

81. Would you be willing to admit that there are posters here who say they are atheists and who claim

an absolute notion that they are right?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #81)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 01:26 AM

83. None that won't admit a minute scrap of statistical doubt

if they are pushed on the point.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:32 PM

33. The 7 year old boy was smart to say that.

Since the whole Exodus story and Moses himself are just myths. Never happened and he didn't exist. They were borrowed from Babylonian stories.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #33)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 04:48 PM

87. Why do you think they were borrowed?

Simply because of the time they were written down?

First attestation is merely that. Unless the writers of Gilgamesh sat in their offices and decided to make up the tale out of whole cloth on the day it was written, it had a history and a geographic spread prior to being written down. The only thing we could say, then, it when it was first written down.

There are good Polish words first attested in Russian sources. It's a common novice's mistake to somehow assume the words didn't exist until they were written down--even though they clearly have a time depth of 2000 years or more before first attestation. And, at that time depth, almost certainly weren't being used in the areas where the words are used today.

The Gilgamesh epic is the same. Was it initially developed along the rivers in Mesopotamia? Was it imported from elsewhere and embellished later? Was it borrowed after it was fully formed, or was it in gestation and split into several varieties before its final Babylonian form gelled?

No good information. Not enough known. Not lots of attestations over the course of many years, and not enough information about either the civilizations adjacent to Mesopotamia or the civilizations that preceded the ones we do know.

Most of the real reason for the meme was the 19th century desire for all old texts that were contrary to then-current assumptions to be wrong. Troy couldn't exist because Homer couldn't have written it and nobody could keep such a tradition alive. The ancient Hebrews didn't have writing, so no part of the OT could be older than so many hundred years BC. All ME culture originated in the only civilizations we knew existed, Egypt and Mesopotamia, with the latecomer Phoenicians, which were mentioned in the Greek and Latin sources that we trusted. As facts contrary to the assumptions have arisen, most people forget the conclusions long-based on these assumptions and just accept the facts as isolated facts.

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Response to Igel (Reply #87)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 08:24 PM

92. If you are saying the Babylonian myths could have

originated elsewhere, I can't argue that either way. But the Hebrews seem most likely to have adopted these stories when enslaved by the Babylonians. A slavery that more closely resembled that of the OT than anything in Egyptian history.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 04:51 PM

88. I doubt.......

... the velcro on Jesus' purple robe and the gold rick-rack on the Roman's Naugahyde.

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