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Thread: The 'best' arguments for atheism and Christianity

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    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    The 'best' arguments for atheism and Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWall View Post
    So starlight I got an idea. How about this. You give your best arguement for your atheism. I will give my best for christianity. No jeers. You could do it with any christian here.
    I don't think there exists any single 'knock-out' arguments either way.

    There are obviously specific arguments that can be levied against particular religions based on particular religious teachings. But I think that overall the most powerful general argument for atheism is a general evidence-based one: We can reasonably expect that if there was a god then the world would be different in a number of ways. (this is somewhat cheating in terms of being a single argument because there are sub-components):
    (a) there would be less diversity of religions within the world and it would be more obvious that a particular religion was right rather than them all having a roughly equal lack of evidence for them
    (b) there would be obvious miracles that occurred in the world, and the invention of everyone having cellphones and video cameras should mean that youtube should have a hundred thousand compelling videos of miracles happening, and the international media would be able to provide video footage of a person's leg growing back as the shaman prayed over the person.
    (c) Religious people who felt they had been 'given a message from God' would be right more often and agree with each other more.
    (d) there would be less naturally occurring suffering in the world (disease, earthquakes, etc).
    (e) a deity could create the world and the life on it instantly, but everything we know about astronomy and biology tells us that naturalistic processes over billions of years were what formed our galaxy, our solar system, our planet, and evolved life on it.

    To phrase it as a single argument: The world as I observe it does not show any of the kinds of thing I would expect to see in a world created by or actively interfered with by a deity, whereas the observed world seems entirely consistent with the lack of a deity. Thus the weight of the observed evidence points to atheism (or something close to it - e.g. that the deity's interference is minuscule).
    Last edited by Starlight; 05-26-2017 at 02:48 AM.

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    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    I suppose it is my turn now.

    I must admit I believe that a good arguement is ine in which both sides learn sokmething. In that I must thank starlight for his perspective.

    To me the best arguements for the Christian faith lie in History, Philosophy, and Morality.

    History however is the one that brings the others into context. The judeans have been throufh the maccabean wars. The oppression of Rome has pushex the people to want revolt. Many see this time as a time for a deliverer. In that aspect it is quite remarkable to think that Jesus would appear then. It would be a bad idea to not go over Jesus's living situation. At two hears old he was hunted by Herod. At roughly prebusence he left to go to the temple where he was able to debate men who slent their lives dedicated to the Torah. He then at around his thirties was taken under the charge of sedition and executed. The process to do so was designed to dehumanize, shame, and break the spirit. Roman soldiers stationed there would be killed if the prisoner survived. Legs were broken to hasten the spreading of carbon dioxide. As for what exactly killed Jesus it is hard to say for sure as I am no medical doctor. From what I have heard of doctors it is likely the stress tore his heart open. He then appears alive.

    A few things must be considered.
    1. The shame of crucifixion.
    2. Jesus's claims.
    3. Misconceptions.
    4. Prophecy.

    It is quite telling that the character who gives us the most vivid description of the passion was a physician. A greek. His name was Luke. I to my knowledge know of no other greek to write so vividly on the subject.

    Jesus himself must also be considered. He claimed to know when he would die and when he would be raised. If he was lying he would under the books of the law be considered a false profit. Some have claimed he was simply mistaken. However we see that Jesus has a knowledge and a wit about his situation. He says to the Pharisees " Have you not read"?. This is the equivalent of asking a noted physicist if he forgot about oxygen. The pharisees spent their lives learning the world. The traveled countries attempting to make at least one convert. For jesus to argue such a thing has only a few outcomes. Ignorance of the word or a mastery of tge word and its meaning.

    It is a misconception I had that jesus did not appear to anyone but the disciples. The scripture however says otherwise. Paul told those who were curious to ask still living witnesses.

    It is also worth noting that Jesus directly used the prophetic language of Daniel and Isaiah. He refered to himself as the son of man and was once nearly stoned for saying he and the father are one. Not to crazy to think about when you consider that he is claiming to be equal to God and the figure the jews considered to be his agent in the messianic son of man.

    Now then we can look at more history. Aside from the gospels we have Pauls letters, the early church writing, Tacitus, and Josephus. Their works are critiqued by some as being written to late or being changed. These claims have been dealt with by textual scholars. I am not a textual scholar but I know this. If they were written after Nero would be an impossibility as both John and Paul were dead by then and the christian community was still growing. Tacitus and Josephus are sometimes accused of being tampered with. This however has also been adressed by men and women more capable than myself. The early church writings each tie back to the same root.

    History gives us much to consider. I may touch on some other things later.

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    tWebber Sea of red's Avatar
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    I think the best argument for atheism is that it doesn't add anything to the natural world that we have no evidence for.

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    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    I don't think there exists any single 'knock-out' arguments either way.

    There are obviously specific arguments that can be levied against particular religions based on particular religious teachings. But I think that overall the most powerful general argument for atheism is a general evidence-based one: We can reasonably expect that if there was a god then the world would be different in a number of ways. (this is somewhat cheating in terms of being a single argument because there are sub-components):
    (a) there would be less diversity of religions within the world and it would be more obvious that a particular religion was right rather than them all having a roughly equal lack of evidence for them
    (b) there would be obvious miracles that occurred in the world, and the invention of everyone having cellphones and video cameras should mean that youtube should have a hundred thousand compelling videos of miracles happening, and the international media would be able to provide video footage of a person's leg growing back as the shaman prayed over the person.
    (c) Religious people who felt they had been 'given a message from God' would be right more often and agree with each other more.
    (d) there would be less naturally occurring suffering in the world (disease, earthquakes, etc).
    (e) a deity could create the world and the life on it instantly, but everything we know about astronomy and biology tells us that naturalistic processes over billions of years were what formed our galaxy, our solar system, our planet, and evolved life on it.

    To phrase it as a single argument: The world as I observe it does not show any of the kinds of thing I would expect to see in a world created by or actively interfered with by a deity, whereas the observed world seems entirely consistent with the lack of a deity. Thus the weight of the observed evidence points to atheism (or something close to it - e.g. that the deity's interference is minuscule).
    Yes. I think the best argument is the notion that there is temporal uniformity in nature, i.e. the future will resemble the past. For example, we have been accurately measuring the speed of light for a very long time. If the speed of light were not constant and changed over time we could detect it. Therefore the constancy of the speed of light is falsifiable, but so far has been verified and the same is true of all constants and laws so far discovered in nature.

    The only alternative is to say that nature is so capricious and inscrutable that we cannot reliably reason about any basic law or constant because God may have intervened and violated the natural laws. But there’s no good evidence of this.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWall View Post
    History however is the one that brings the others into context. The judeans have been throufh the maccabean wars. The oppression of Rome has pushex the people to want revolt. Many see this time as a time for a deliverer.
    Okay, sure. IIRC Dominic Crossan at the back of one of his books lists ~18 revolutionary / reform / prophetic movements or groups among the Jewish people that are named/mentioned by ancient sources (mostly Josephus) in a hundred-year period around the time of Jesus. Obviously there may have been groups that didn't make the history books, but it was clearly a very active time for believers in messianic prophesy and other revolutionaries.

    In that aspect it is quite remarkable to think that Jesus would appear then.
    Um, didn't we just agree on the opposite?

    At two hears old he was hunted by Herod.
    Says a gospel account that most skeptics would doubt the accuracy of.

    At roughly prebusence he left to go to the temple where he was able to debate men who slent their lives dedicated to the Torah.
    Says a gospel account that most skeptics would doubt the accuracy of.

    He then at around his thirties was taken under the charge of sedition and executed.
    Even most skeptics would be happy to agree with you on this. The Romans killed lots of the Jewish revolutionaries and leaders around this time. It would be nothing at all out of the ordinary for something like this to happen to Jesus.

    The process to do so was designed to dehumanize, shame, and break the spirit. Roman soldiers stationed there would be killed if the prisoner survived. Legs were broken to hasten the spreading of carbon dioxide. As for what exactly killed Jesus it is hard to say for sure as I am no medical doctor. From what I have heard of doctors it is likely the stress tore his heart open.
    I can agree that death by crucifixion likely wasn't pleasant. That's one reason the Romans used it.

    He then appears alive.
    Says accounts by religious people that most skeptics would doubt the accuracy of.

    It is quite telling that the character who gives us the most vivid description of the passion was a physician. A greek. His name was Luke.
    There's not particularly compelling evidence for those claims, other than that the person who wrote the gospel of Luke wrote fairly good quality greek.

    He claimed to know when he would die and when he would be raised.
    Says a gospel account that most skeptics would doubt the accuracy of.

    It is also worth noting that Jesus directly used the prophetic language of Daniel and Isaiah.
    Even most skeptics would be happy to agree with you on this. Doubtless virtually all the revolutionary and prophetic groups around the time of Jesus believed that what they were doing was part of God's Plan and was a fulfillment of prophesy. That's what religious people tend to think. Generally they died horribly or totally failed to achieve their goals, and have been all but forgotten.

    He refered to himself as the son of man and was once nearly stoned for saying he and the father are one.
    Says a gospel account that most skeptics would doubt the accuracy of.

    Aside from the gospels we have Pauls letters, the early church writing, Tacitus, and Josephus. Their works are critiqued by some as being written to late or being changed. These claims have been dealt with by textual scholars. I am not a textual scholar but I know this. If they were written after Nero would be an impossibility as both John and Paul were dead by then and the christian community was still growing. Tacitus and Josephus are sometimes accused of being tampered with. This however has also been adressed by men and women more capable than myself. The early church writings each tie back to the same root.
    Even most skeptics would be happy to agree with you that Jesus, like Nero, actually existed. The Roman Emperors tended to claim divinity, and we don't take their claims seriously. Perhaps Jesus claimed divinity, perhaps not - I think it's much more likely that he saw himself as a prophet than as divine - but if he did claim divinity I don't think there's any more reason to take such claims by him seriously than there is to think Nero was divine.

    History gives us much to consider.
    Well, in general, sure. But I don't think anything you've said is much of an argument for believing in Christianity. The early Christians had some stories about a guy named Jesus who supposedly did some miraculous things and said some stuff. So what? The native Maori tribes here had some stories about their own divinities who supposedly did some miraculous things and said some stuff. While I believe that in both cases the stories probably do tie back to real people, I don't think the stories about the miraculous things they supposedly did are generally true. I don't think Maui fished up the island I live on, or hit the sun with his magic jaw-bone to slow it down, and I don't think Jesus rose from the dead after 3 days. Someone telling a story or writing it down, doesn't make it true, even if they sincerely believe it.

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    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimbulb View Post
    I don't think there exists any single 'knock-out' arguments either way.

    There are obviously specific arguments that can be levied against particular religions based on particular religious teachings. But I think that overall the most powerful general argument for atheism is a general evidence-based one: We can reasonably expect that if there was a god then the world would be different in a number of ways. (this is somewhat cheating in terms of being a single argument because there are sub-components):
    (a) there would be less diversity of religions within the world and it would be more obvious that a particular religion was right rather than them all having a roughly equal lack of evidence for them
    (b) there would be obvious miracles that occurred in the world, and the invention of everyone having cellphones and video cameras should mean that youtube should have a hundred thousand compelling videos of miracles happening, and the international media would be able to provide video footage of a person's leg growing back as the shaman prayed over the person.
    (c) Religious people who felt they had been 'given a message from God' would be right more often and agree with each other more.
    (d) there would be less naturally occurring suffering in the world (disease, earthquakes, etc).
    (e) a deity could create the world and the life on it instantly, but everything we know about astronomy and biology tells us that naturalistic processes over billions of years were what formed our galaxy, our solar system, our planet, and evolved life on it.

    To phrase it as a single argument: The world as I observe it does not show any of the kinds of thing I would expect to see in a world created by or actively interfered with by a deity, whereas the observed world seems entirely consistent with the lack of a deity. Thus the weight of the observed evidence points to atheism (or something close to it - e.g. that the deity's interference is minuscule).
    Lots of question begging here. You discount the extent to which God allows man to exercise freewill, and you make the classic atheist blunder of thinking that you, from the limited perspective of an imperfect human, know exactly how an omnipotent, omniscient deity ought to act without considering that God allows things to be as they are because he knows infinitely better than you.
    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
    Than a fool in the eyes of God


    From "Fools Gold" by Petra

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    You discount the extent to which God allows man to exercise freewill, you make the classic atheist blunder of thinking that you, from the limited perspective of an imperfect human, know exactly how an omnipotent, omniscient deity ought to act without considering that God allows things to be as they are because he knows infinitely better than you.
    So starlight can't know how an omnipotent, omniscient deity might act - but you do.
    Mountain Man:
    "...because the notion of "white privilege" is nothing more than a re-branding of failed Marxist ideologies. "

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    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy View Post
    So starlight can't know how an omnipotent, omniscient deity might act - but you do.
    No, I'm saying that I trust God because he knows infinitely better than I how things ought to be.

    It's the atheist who says, "An omniscient and omnipotent God should do such and so," who is implying that he has more knowledge and understanding than is possible for a mere human.
    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
    Than a fool in the eyes of God


    From "Fools Gold" by Petra

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    tWebber RhinestoneCowboy's Avatar
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    The best argument against Christianity is that Paul, the earliest and only firsthand source, says the "appearances" of the Resurrected Jesus were "visions" and not physical interactions with a formerly dead corpse that had been brought back to life. The later gospel depictions and empty tomb story are not firsthand reports and exhibit a legend growing in chronological order with the Risen Jesus being depicted as more physical/corporeal over time. These depictions were most likely influenced by Greco-Roman views of immortality. When Christianity became a gentile religion they applied their concepts of immortal hero worship to the Jesus story and the original spiritual visionary Jesus of Paul and the earliest Christians evolved to something entirely different.

    These days it's quite difficult to take anyone's spiritual visionary encounter seriously. This becomes immediately obvious when apologists vehemently argue against the notion that the appearances of Jesus were just mere visions (obviously they don't take visions seriously either which is ironic considering both the OT and NT have numerous passages where people experience "visions"). Unfortunately, that's what the earliest Christian source says they were and the Jewish background regarding spiritual visionary experiences provided a foundation for these type of beliefs to arise.

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    It's the atheist who says, "An omniscient and omnipotent God should do such and so," who is implying that he has more knowledge and understanding than is possible for a mere human.
    Ahem.

    "God allows things to be as they are because he knows infinitely better than you."
    Mountain Man:
    "...because the notion of "white privilege" is nothing more than a re-branding of failed Marxist ideologies. "

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