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Entry 585, on 2007-08-06 at 22:57:12 (Rating 3, Religion)
For the last few weeks I have been debating with a religious believer I met on GodTube. The original debate involved a movie which tried to invalidate the Big Bang, but it has moved away beyond that with about 50 messages going back and forwards between us.
On several occasions my opponent has been left with no way to counter my points and has had to admit that the evidence against his beliefs is pretty damning (good choice of word there, I think). The cosmic microwave background radiation was one thing he had no answer for, because it clearly supports the Big Bang and can't be explained by religious theories. Another was the fact that the Egyptians lived through the Biblical global flood without even noticing it happening.
Before the debate started I asked him to assure me that he really wanted to know the truth, which he did. But after being given fairly conclusive evidence supporting science and against religion he still tells me he accepts his religious beliefs in large part because of his upbringing.
So he's trapped in this false, dogmatic belief forced on him by his parents and church, and even though he must have a fairly good idea by now that his beliefs are false he still believes them. He has been brainwashed into believing something which is both untrue and harmful in many ways (he even admits the overall effect of the church on the world is negative).
So when I see people trapped into believing religious nosense I feel even better about being a free thinker and atheist (which is the end result for most free thinkers).
Comment 41 (910) by OJB on 2007-10-09 at 14:26:55: (view earlier comments)
There is no way to say for sure that Christian belief is untrue, but the balance of evidence is against it, and that's the best we can ever do. The major Old Testament stories are nonsense and there is almost no evidence supporting the myths about Jesus either.
You can say that science might discover something new in the future which will change what we now think is true, but that argument could be used to support all sorts of stuff: ESP, UFOs, the Loch Ness monster, etc. Surely you can see that is a bad precedent to set?
I'm not restricting myself to what can be seen and touched, I'm restricting myself to what can be supported by evidence: either direct or through more subtle indirect means. If I believe something simply through faith where does it end? There are many contradictory beliefs which are supported by faith. Its better to potentially falsely dismiss something through lack of evidence than support a series of false beliefs just because there's a chance they are true.
There are ways to support the existence of Jesus (although never to prove his existence 100%). I would expect to see non-Christian accounts of his life (I don't). I would expect to see written material produced by eye witnesses at the time the events happened (I don't). I would expect to see consistent portrayals of his actions (I don't). I would expect to see signs that the supernatural exists at all (I don't).
Restrictions serve a purpose: to stop us believing things which are untrue. If faith is so great why not become a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhists instead? They are all compelling if you have faith.
Comment 42 (918) by sbfl on 2007-10-15 at 00:08:38:
1st and 3rd paragraphs - well that's just where we differ.
2nd paragraph - fair point.
4th paragraph: "I would expect to see non-Christian accounts of his life (I don't)"
"I would expect to see written material produced by eye witnesses at the time the events happened (I don't)" - how much written material from 2000 years ago still exists I wonder? I think word of mouth was more the thing than say blogging on the net. "I would expect to see consistent portrayals of his actions (I don't)." - the Gospels, or are you going to nitpick?
5th paragraph: ... what about atheism?
Comment 43 (929) by OJB on 2007-10-15 at 05:24:42:
I briefly deal with why the evidence for the existence of Jesus is weak here. Apart from that, what evidence is there that Christianity is true?
Do you see my point about faith? It as a way of thinking almost guaranteed to give the wrong answer. If you believe a particular thing because of faith how do you choose what that thing should be? Christians, Hindus, Rastafarians, UFOlogists all use faith. Are they all right?
How can atheism be a faith? We just don't currently accept other people's beliefs (which are based on faith) because there is no objective evidence. Where is the faith element there? I hear this argument a lot and its usually used because the person arguing can't support their belief any other way.
Comment 44 (946) by sbfl on 2007-10-17 at 07:07:06:
At the end of the day, you just don't understand what faith is, do you? As I mentioned in some other post/comment, you really need something you can touch or see, and you are therefore restricting yourself.
I did find a non-Christian account, but of course it is not enough for you. For me, I don't even need to find these, but that is where we differ. As an atheist, you require physical black and white evidence that only you believe. Okay, I respect you have your views. Your definition of acceptable evidence is different to mine - that's what it comes down to.
Comment 45 (959) by OJB on 2007-10-17 at 10:57:49:
The problem, which you haven't really answered, is that if you have faith where does it end? If you have faith you can easily believe all sorts of contradictory things. All religions are equally valid. All spiritual, mythological and "alternative" beliefs are fine. You end up believing a load of crap! Why should I accept faith is a good thing, and even if I did accept faith why would I apply it to Christianity instead of another belief system?
The non-Christian accounts don't stand up to scrutiny. They are all copies, fabrications, or vague references to an event which don't stand any scrutiny. I explained why on the web page I referred you to. Just answer this one question: If Jesus was such a miraculous and wonderful person, why are there no accounts of his life made at the time by eye witnesses. There are detailed references to other figures of the time, but not him. Why is that? OK, I'll await your convoluted rationalisation!
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