Friday 19 March 2010

Online debate at Premier Christian Community

Since my repost of my comment in a Premier Christian Community discussion thread started by Todd Pitner I have joined in the subsequent discussion in response to Todd's questions posed to a user named LinearC (whose points, incidentally, I generally agree with).

Though I don't know why Todd posted the original questions (the reasons he gave in his opening post do not appear to be borne out by his subsequent comments), at the time I thought the discussion was interesting enough to pursue. I include (below) the post with which I responded to Todd's response to LinearC:

I appreciate these questions were directed at LinearC, however I'd like to share my own responses to them:
What kind of evidence would you be looking for to prove God exists?
I'm interested in any evidence that genuinely points to the existence of God, though I don't expect to find "proof". Proof isn't something we find in practical reality, only in mathematics.
If there is a God...and if He ultimately revealed Himself...and if He revealed that He purposely gave us all a free-will choice to accept or reject Him...could it be that you just are not acknowledging the general and special revelation that is before you every second of every day? Could it be that you're stepping all over His nature to deny His existence?
That's a lot of ifs. And no, and no. Revelation is a two-way affair. You may say that God has revealed himself (in scripture, in nature or wherever) but I see nothing of such a god. I see a collection of ancient texts, and I see nature. No "revelation".
Have you ever read the Book of John as if the account was true and Jesus was/is Who He claimed to be? Have you ever read JUST the red letters (to make it more time efficient for you)? Scripture opens the Door AFTER you knock. That's Biblical.
I admit I haven't. But then no-one has given me any cogent reason why I should regard any book of the Bible as anything other than literature. When I read the Bible, or any "scripture", I read it as literature, not as "holy writ".
Where did all the matter come from and, even more importantly in my mind, after the Big Bang when all that matter began to coalesce, where did the gravity come from to bring everything together in kum-bay-ya fashion? Assuming you weren't there to empirically verify, what do you BELIEVE? Or does "belief not really come into it?" Or is your "belief" selective? If so, why? What's your issue with the truth claims of the Bible?
I don't know where all the matter and gravity "came from". I'm vaguely aware of theoretical research by physicists such as Lawrence Krauss in these areas, and I understand they're making progress. I'm happy to leave it up to them — I'm not a physicist.
Did nature create itself? What do you BELIEVE?
I believe I don't know the answer to this question.
Life from non-life...tell me how the first cell evolved? Do you KNOW or do you have a BELIEF?
Sorry, I don't know. I'm not a specialist in origin-of-life studies either. But from what I've read about abiogenesis, it seems likely that life started with a self-replicating molecule of some kind, and I understand there are various theories about how that might have happened by natural processes.
Who or what is your ultimate authority of knowledge? Why do you BELIEVE what you believe? Where do you drop your anchor on knowledge? The scientific method? Why? Was the scientific method used to discover the scientific method?
One at a time please. Ultimate authority of knowledge? Doesn't exist. I believe what I believe because I have a reasonable body of evidence for those beliefs. The scientific method was not "discovered", it was invented, just like writing was invented. It's a tool, and on the whole it works — in as much as it's the best way we have of finding out what's true and what isn't.
Atheists seem chronically afflicted with the disease of yesbuts, “Yes I follow the evidence, but not when it points to God.” Having an allergy to God’s say-so, I submit all the misguided attempts to debunk Christianity succeed only in exposing the atheists need of it.
This is just wishful thinking. Atheists don't need to debunk Christianity, because Christianity assumes the existence of a god that atheists don't believe in.
Do you really understand what Christianity is all about? Tell me, what is the Gospel message? Why did Jesus become man, allegedly?
I don't see why I should need to know this stuff if I don't believe in a god in the first place. Reading the New Testament as literature is useful as a cultural reference — especially in Britain — but the "message" of Christianity is wide open to interpretation, as evidenced by the multitude of Christian sects throughout the world.
Do you deny Supernaturalism? You say, "Belief just doesn't come into it." Do you really believe that?
Not directed at me, but I'll answer anyway: Yes, I deny supernaturalism (if by supernaturalism is meant the belief in a reality that is "outside" of nature — not a very coherent definition, I admit, but I don't see how else one could define it).

I'm interested in debates about origins, about morality, about evidence — amongst other things. But I'm not much interested in theology, because theology assumes the existence of the thing it is supposed to be about, while I have yet to see any compelling evidence for the existence of that thing.

Go here to see Todd's response (and subsequent posts):