RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

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RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  JB on Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:50 pm

Comments on the debate go here.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  ccfoo242 on Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:42 pm

Jeremy pwned Cliff. cheers

I like your calm rebuttals as opposed to Cliff's frothing at the mouth.

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Good job, but reverse the argument on life in the universe

Post  jgoemat on Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:40 pm

The religious argument that Cliff made is that the universe is designed for life. Later on he says (paraphrased) "Try going to Mars or Jupiter and taking your helmet off" to show that Earth is special. My question would be "If the whole Universe is designed for life, why don't we see it everywhere?"

If the Earth were the size of an apple, all life that we know of would be in an area as small as the skin on it. Imagine the sun was the size of a golf ball. The Earth would be the size of a period and would be sitting 4.58 meters away. The nearest star would be another golf ball 1240 kilometers away. If the universe is designed for life, why so much empty space?

As for the number of stars out there, there are between 100 and 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and over 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Imagine each star as a golf ball. You would need to fill a football field with golf balls stacked 1.74 kilometers high to get 100 billion of them to represent the stars in our galaxy alone. Remember, the nearest star to Sol wouldn't be stacked by it, but would be 1240 kilometers away.

Now imagine each of those golf balls was a galaxy like ours. Since there are about 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, you would then have to fill a football field stacked 1.74 kilometers high with golf balls again to represent the galaxies, each one being that number of stars.

To think that God designed the universe for one species on this insignificant spec in the Cosmos is ridiculous hubris.

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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Shai on Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:13 pm

I think there's an inherent risk with bringing out Gliese 581 g, in that it is so (theoretically) habitiable. If it were more disposed to life, and yet was completely devoid of life, that would suggest that earth really is special.

Overall, the debate was kind of like this:



Jeremy should be gunning for William Lane Craig! You can do it!

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To debate or not to debate, that is the question!

Post  Aud on Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:37 am

Just finished listening to the debate and have to say it wasn't a pleasant experience. Except only couple questions at the end, it felt like Jeremy was debating a recording. Q:"How come bible says in heaven everybody will have free will and not sin, yet you say evil is required for a free will?" A:"Earth is in a perfect position". Q: "How can you say gospels are independent accounts when there is 89% match?" A:"Miracle is possible if you allow god's existence". Q: "How is love compatible with creating hell for eternal tortures?" A: "Jesus did exist". It sounded like Cliff was reading notes he prepared before the debate and didn't even bother to pretend that he was answering Jeremy's points.

Jeremy for sure anticipated that debate would go like this; most of them do. So why did he bother at all? The only reason I can come up with is that Jeremy hoped to help a few fellow human beings to get rid of superstitions and irrational believes and start living more intellectually honest, fulfilling, and happier lives. But what evidence do we have to back up the belief that rationally challenging irrational beliefs indeed makes people more rational? Actually, resent research (e.g. by Brendan Nyhan) points to quite opposite: logic and rational examination of facts only makes believers to believe stronger.

As anything else in live, methods of dealing with irrationality deserve skeptical inquiry. First, goal has to be set. Personally for me, it's as simple as making world more rational (=less religious) in order to make people happier by eliminating fear of hell, genital mutilations, religious wars, bans on contraception, withholding education, and having more time to play with kids by not wasting 2 hrs every Sunday in church. Second, various methods have to be evaluated for efficacy in controlled experiments; those ineffective or even harmful have to be eliminated. Third, effective methods need to be applied while carefully monitoring results.

Jehovah's Witness preacher recently converted my friend. Things are getting ugly; church isn't letting him to talk to his father who refuses to convert. He has to spend certain amount of hours preaching and submit status reports monthly. I still have communication channel open. JW is an easy target for a skeptic, such a rich selection of weird believes and lies by elders to pick on. But is that what I should do? Probably I will have only one opportunity to address this. I have to be sure that approach I take is evidence-based.

Any thoughts, suggestions, links to research would be greatly appreciated.

Aud



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Post  Shai on Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:50 am

I was raised a JW, leaving the organization barely two years ago (I'm 28).

There are some things that need to be pointed out, things that are large holes in the JW belief system.

1) Blood. Jesus said that the sabbath was created to serve man, rather than man the sabbath. (Mark 2:27) He gives the example that David broke the law to serve his men. Yet, JWs will not break the law to save the lives of their children (Acts 15:29).

2) End of the world. It was supposed to be 1914, then 1975, now the nebulous near future. It's used as a whip to keep JWs frightened; just because something is frightening doesn't mean it's true. Violence and warfare is trending downwards, world wide (http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html)

3) Souls. JWs believe that human beings have no souls, that they're simple material (kudos for them). They however believe in free will, forgetting why dualism is so valuable to Christianity... your soul has 'free will' to follow god and be faithful. Saying that human beings have no soul is tacit approval of determinism.

4) Cultism. What the society says about biblical interpretation is more important than what the bible says. All scripture is given an official interpretation, and you're not allowed to dissent from that. In fact, because what the society teaches is gospel, those teachings are what the religion really stands on, not the bible.

5) Evolution. It's true. They're old-earth creationists who believe the galaxy and the planet are as old as scientists say they are, but completely reject evolution.

6) The flood, it didn't happen.

7) Adam and Eve. Related to #5; what adult believes that stupid shit? 6 Million JWs do.

Cool Xenophobia. "There may be good people, but they don't love Jehovah." He will be strongly discouraged to have any friendships outside of the 'truth', regardless of the morality or ethics of the people, because they don't 'love Jehovah'. You're beginning to see this.

9) Rejection of intellectualism and education. While there are many intelligent JWs (when I was young, two MIT attending JWs stayed at my families house), they are a tiny minority. They're anti-college and anti-intellect. You'd be hard pressed to meet a group of more introverted and proudly ignorant people.

Try and save the guy; be persistent but not forceful. I'm an example of somebody who was able to pull away, though I have to admit that my personality is not disposed to supernatural belief.

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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  TommyHolland on Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:56 pm

I posted this on the blog comments as well:

Not much original content on the apologist's side, is there?

Some thoughts: Mentioning gaps between historical events and their documentation, compared to other ancient documents, is a rabbit trail:

* First, I don't care if there is a thousand-year-gap wrt to the biographies of Caesar; I'm not being asked to worship Caesar or believe he's a deity.

* Second, what's the gap between the events of Genesis and their documentation? Several thousand years at least, so by Cliff's criteria the OT is not reliable

* Third, the gap wrt to the Book of Mormon is only seven years, and wrt to Scientology is only three years, so by Cliff's criteria those religious documents are more reliable than the NT

* Fourth, well-copied does not mean well-documented (as you mentioned, Jeremy.)

* Fifth, despite Cliff's tossing around about the thousands of copies, Bart Ehrman has shown that no two of those copies are identical. Cliff made them sound like they were carbon copies.

Mentioning the Gliese planet was a mistake in proving that universe is teeming with life--we're not there yet. Cliff did err, though, saying that if Earth were a little bit closer or farther from the sun we wouldn't be here. Sol's Goldilocks zone is wider than that (from 0.75 AU to 3.0 AU--see Wikipedia's Habitable Zone), and Cliff's assertion assumes the Earth's orbit is perfectly circular. It's an ellipse--the distance of Earth to Sun varies by three million miles throughout the year.

My standard response to the anthropic principle is, "If the universe is designed for life, then why is life in the universe so rare?" Another: "The universe was not designed for life; life was designed for the universe."

Naturalism is the parsimonious view. Naturalism says the universe exists. Supernaturalism says the universe exists AND an invisible other-dimensional being exists AND the other being is responsible for universe's existence.

Raving about the design of the universe AT BEST leads to deism. It's possible that God created the universe but died in the explosion we call the Big Bang. It's possible that God created the universe but can't interact with it since he's "outside space and time," (whatever that means.) It's possible that God created the universe to be hostile to life, and we just happened to have survived, much like a bug bomb let off in a house doesn't manage to kill every last cockroach. Of course, none of those options are palatable to the Christian, but they are just as likely as the notion that God created the universe because he's so crazy about humans. Whatever God wants with humanity--love, companionship, a bride, or whatever--surely he's capable of just creating us in Heaven, in sinless perfection, and not mess around with this world, filled with life that's nasty, brutish, and short. God may be a good designer, but he's a terrible planner.

Regarding the "without God how can there be morality?" question, my response is that since primitive social animals have a primitive morality, it only stands to reason that a more advanced social animal (humans) would have a more advanced morality. Arguing that God exists because all people are moral is like arguing that Cupid exists because all people fall in love.

When discussing morality and God, Euthyphro's Dilemma is never out of place. Where did God get his morality from? Is committing genocide an example of that morality? If God is exempt from obeying the morality that he expects us to obey, then how do you know that morality came from God? How do we feel about police, judges, politicians, etc. who don't obey the same laws that they enforce on us? Do we give them a pass because of their privileged position?

All in all, I heard nothing new from the apologist that Josh McDowell and other popular apologists haven't said for decades. Debates are more about theater and oratory than argument.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Brad on Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:32 pm

Great post, Tommy Holland!

I've only been able to listen to about half of the debate so far, but so far great job, Jeremy!

Two comments / queries:

First, the discrepancies in the resurrection accounts have long seemed to me, even if there weren't so many other problems with Biblical veracity, to be really strong evidence that there is no Christian god and that Christianity is false. I say that because I agree with Jeremy (and one would think virtually all Christians) that the resurrection story is THE KEY event in the New Testament / Christian Bible.
And if there is a deity having anything like the characteristics Christians say He has, and He went to the trouble to send his "only begotten Son," so to speak, to earth to engage in the whole holy melodrama with the crucifixion and resurrection as its vital, humanity redeeming climax, wouldn't God/Jesus at least make certain that THAT story, above all others, got straight in the text describing the event to humanity for all time thereafter?
What kind of deity would be that slipshod and careless?

Second, is there something about loud and rapid speech patterns that really appeals to Christians? Seriously, I don't get what's up with a lot of these guys. I've heard a number of rabbis and a few imams speak, and none of them sound like human bullhorns on speed. Does a speaker's volume serve to increase his or her credibility among "the flock?"
And this guy talked a mile a minute and still couldn't stay within the time limits. Or is the bottom line that fast talking serves to obscure a lack of substance? jocolor
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Neon Genesis on Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:41 am

I enjoyed hearing Jeremy's responses to this apologist but is it just me or did the apologist just completely ignore Jeremy's presence and just spout out random apologetic arguments? Like I was really annoyed when he completely ignored Jeremy's points about the immorality of God's actions in the bible and came up with some bizarre argument that God is just because he sent his son to die and completely ignored any of Jeremy's criticisms of God's actions. That seemed really rude and unChristian to me. Jeremy might as well have been debating with a magic eight ball. It would have been more productive. There's one point I would like to make about the argument around the accuracy of the manuscript copies. Jeremy argued that the accuracy of the manuscripts only proves they had accurate copyists but doesn't prove the bible is historically accurate but I would dispute the apologist's claim that the manuscripts are even accurately copied.

In Bart D Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman argues that the NT manuscripts have so many copying errors in them that it has more errors than words in the NT and scholars are still counting how many errors there are. Most of the errors are just minor typos but there are some major and significant changes between manuscripts. Like even most English bibles have footnotes that point out that the last half of Mark chapter 16 which contains the earliest account of the ascension of Jesus is missing in all the earliest manuscripts of the bible. One should think if the bible's account of the resurrection of Jesus is so historically accurate that God wouldn't have waited so long to add this pretty important story into later manuscripts. Other whole chapters are missing in early manuscripts like the earliest manuscripts of John's gospel are missing the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman and the entire last chapter of John.

Some manuscripts rewrite the dialog of Jesus to give him an entirely different personality. Like there was one miracle story where Jesus was healing a leper and some manuscripts say Jesus was filled with compassion when he saw the leper but other manuscripts rewrite it to say Jesus was angry at the leper for asking him to heal him. Then you have passages in the bible where entire verses have been added into manuscripts. Like some NT manuscript copyists purposely added in pro-Trinity passages in the letter of 1 John that only appear in Latin and English bibles and didn't even exist in Greek manuscripts. So the apologist's claim that the NT manuscripts are the most accurately copied manuscripts in all of history is completely false and he clearly hasn't read any of the literature about the differences between manuscripts.

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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Brad on Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:00 am

FWIW, I posted the text below over in the RD blog comment section. That seems much more active than this forum, which is pretty moribund. I wish all comments and discussion about the podcasts would be directed to one location or the other.

>>>>>

I'd like to comment on something alluded to by, I believe, Josh, above, which is that at least in a certain sense, the RATIONALITY of Christianity was not fully addressed in the debate.
I think that's too bad, and is one reason why some of the believers present could acknowledge that their guy was unresponsive, but would still make the absurd assertion that the debate was "even."

First, let me say up front that my own view is that ALMOST all Christian doctrines and ALL of Christian theology are nonsense and only marginally less puerile than Islam or Scientology.

However, "rational" can be thought of in two basic ways. The first is in a social sense, which takes into account all the evidence available to an educated and even-minded person having broad access to information.

The second sense of the word is best thought of in the circumstances of an individual and his or her circumstances throughout life. In that second sense, "sensible" is an appropriate synonym. In that second sense, for example, we can consider Sam Harris's statements that from within the context of their worldview, what the 9/11 hijackers did was entirely rational.

Or consider a person who grows up in rural or small-town America (or South America, etc.) and who from infancy finds that his or her extended family and also all the good and decent people in the community he or she encounters are Christians. He or she then marries another Christian whose fidelity and dedication to the marriage is explicitly informed by Christian beliefs. The person also sees, as anyone can, lots of depravity in the world that is NOT Christian. Given such circumstances and rudimentary human psychology, is that person's attachment to Christianity irrational? May we even fairly say that that person's resistance to evidence contrary to their faith is irrational?

I understand that the accepted definition in the context of the debate was the first broader social definition, and in that context Jeremy did a wonderful job.

However, I think whenever the word "rational" is bandied about, I think it's good to keep in mind, if not to acknowledge, the more individualized definition, especially if we want to have any worthwhile and meaningful conversations with believers.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Daneel Olivaw on Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:32 pm

Brad wrote:FWIW, I posted the text below over in the RD blog comment section. That seems much more active than this forum, which is pretty moribund. I wish all comments and discussion about the podcasts would be directed to one location or the other.

>>>>>

I'd like to comment on something alluded to by, I believe, Josh, above, which is that at least in a certain sense, the RATIONALITY of Christianity was not fully addressed in the debate.
I think that's too bad, and is one reason why some of the believers present could acknowledge that their guy was unresponsive, but would still make the absurd assertion that the debate was "even."

First, let me say up front that my own view is that ALMOST all Christian doctrines and ALL of Christian theology are nonsense and only marginally less puerile than Islam or Scientology.

However, "rational" can be thought of in two basic ways. The first is in a social sense, which takes into account all the evidence available to an educated and even-minded person having broad access to information.

The second sense of the word is best thought of in the circumstances of an individual and his or her circumstances throughout life. In that second sense, "sensible" is an appropriate synonym. In that second sense, for example, we can consider Sam Harris's statements that from within the context of their worldview, what the 9/11 hijackers did was entirely rational.

Or consider a person who grows up in rural or small-town America (or South America, etc.) and who from infancy finds that his or her extended family and also all the good and decent people in the community he or she encounters are Christians. He or she then marries another Christian whose fidelity and dedication to the marriage is explicitly informed by Christian beliefs. The person also sees, as anyone can, lots of depravity in the world that is NOT Christian. Given such circumstances and rudimentary human psychology, is that person's attachment to Christianity irrational? May we even fairly say that that person's resistance to evidence contrary to their faith is irrational?

I understand that the accepted definition in the context of the debate was the first broader social definition, and in that context Jeremy did a wonderful job.

However, I think whenever the word "rational" is bandied about, I think it's good to keep in mind, if not to acknowledge, the more individualized definition, especially if we want to have any worthwhile and meaningful conversations with believers.

Good point. That's why I've always thought that being a theist is more rational (or "sensitive", as you say) than believing in homeopathy or any other atl med nonsense. If you grow in a culture where everybody believes something and thinks that is quite reasonable to do so then is not so unreasonable to believe it too if you don't have the time or inclination to investigate about it. In a sense, I think committing the argument from popularity is sensitive as a way to operate in a social environment. Obviously is a fallacy that doesn't lead any credence to a particular belief. But as a quick n' dirty role of thumb to use in social interactions, it works.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  2buckchuck on Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:51 am

At its core, christianity is based entirely on faith ... accept jebus as your savior on faith alone. Not because there's any credible evidence, not because some apologist can fabricate a train of thought that purports to provide evidence or can make up some bogus history. What jebus asks is that you accept him as would a little child: blind, unquestioning, irrational faith. All christian apologetics make no sense to me because faith isn't based on logic or scientific evidence. It strikes me that all apologists are evidently wavering in their beliefs - it seems they need some sort of teetering edifice of pseudo-reasoning to shore up their flagging faith!
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Lausten on Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:45 pm

Brad;

I think the debate was about the fundamental concept Christianity, as it is defined now, is it rational in the 20th century. And I'll proceed on the premise that it is not. I would like to see your ideas about the rationality of accepting it discussed. There are many directions to go with that. Was it rational for the people who first heard the story of Jesus to accept it and hope it was true? In the face of near destruction of their culture, it could be. Your story of a person raised without knowledge of much outside of Christianity, similar analysis. Where do you draw the line? How much exposure to other ways of thinking is necessary before the decision to cling to Christianity becomes irrational?

It sometimes helps to look at completely different cultures to help understand this. For example, Afro-Americans, descendants of slaves, living in the Southern United States still make what I consider a very rational choice to act in ways that go against their sense of what is right. If you go back 60 or 70 years, it makes even more sense for a person to accept their lower status and not fight it outwardly, or risk life and limb, and that is not an exaggeration. There are good reasons that movements throughout history have been "underground", with members participating in what they consider an irrational system, because to not participate is dangerous.

Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus was not as spontaneous of an action as the legend says it was. There were people meeting in basements for very a long time, selecting the right person to do that and ready with lawyers and to coordinate media and other actions to coincide with it. They all knew what was accepted as rational was not rational at all, so they created an event that seemed a bit irrational, a woman risking arrest just because she was tired and didn't feel like moving. Within a fairly short time, compared to hundreds of years of prejudice and oppression, they redefined "rational".

We are beyond getting burned at the stake for stating non-belief, but we are still fighting things like global warming vs the end times. How do you even move that debate to something rational? Maybe something like, "Can Christianity rationally support continued unchecked use of fossil fuels?"
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Neon Genesis on Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:56 pm

The Christian apologist in the interview made the argument that Christianity is true and rational because the apostles never would have died for a lie but is it even true that the apostles were martyred? The only "evidence" we have that the apostles were martyred is church tradition which isn't exactly reliable or unbiased. Some of the martyrdom accounts of the apostles also sound a bit too fantastical to me to be believable like the account of Peter being crucified upside down. Even the bible never says anything about what the fate of the apostles is, so what proof do we have the apostles died for a lie?

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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  2buckchuck on Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:28 am

Lausten wrote:Brad;
I think the debate was about the fundamental concept Christianity, as it is defined now, is it rational in the 20th century. And I'll proceed on the premise that it is not. I would like to see your ideas about the rationality of accepting it discussed. There are many directions to go with that. ...snip...
We are beyond getting burned at the stake for stating non-belief, but we are still fighting things like global warming vs the end times. How do you even move that debate to something rational? Maybe something like, "Can Christianity rationally support continued unchecked use of fossil fuels?"

Whatever the nominal topic of the debate might have been, the apologist was more concerned about his talking points than he was about the topic or any responses to his remarks.

But your point is well-taken. Is christianity rational in the 21st Century (we're past the 20th!)? It seems very difficult for me to consider it to be rational. The pervasive influence of science and technology has changed the world more in the last 100 years than it the previous 1000+ years. Our world population has skyrocketed, so that the impact of 6 billion people is no longer trivial in the natural world. We have important challenges that we confront about how to deal with all the innovations we now have or will have in the near future - virtually all of which carry unintended consequences that could represent a threat to our survival as a species. Putting our world in the hands of christian clergy, many of whom are steeped in ignorance of the science and technology around us and, in some cases, openly opposed to that science and technology, strikes me as pretty irrational.

Perhaps the only case that can be made on a rational basis for christianity in this world is its hope for a better life after death - that allays one concern we all share (mortality). Of course, belief in that afterlife isn't rational at all. The price for this hope regarding the afterlife is the eagerness that some christians have for the "end of days" - "Bring on the 4 horsemen and I will rise to heaven with the saved." Would such folk choose to trigger a nuclear holocaust to hasten the arrival of the Apocalypse? I don't think I'd be at all comfortable with such a fundie in the White House, for example.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Brad on Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:09 am

Lausten,
Your mention of the similarity of circumstances of the early Christians and the circumstances of people today who have been immersed in religious claptrap (Christian, Muslim, Mormon, or what have you) since birth has greater pertinence than many atheists, especially those who aren't "escapees," can appreciate.

I think we'd do better if we non-believers took into account such people in our communications as much as possible - more than we often do today. In the current instance, I think a great way for that to have been accomplished would have been, probably at the moderator's instigation, for the word "rational" to have been carefully defined at the beginning of the debate.

Nothing here should be construed as a criticism of Jeremy's performance in the debate. If only I could do as well!
And in general, I think the ability of the RD podcasters to understand believers, given their backgrounds, will make them far more effective in the long term, than, say, PZ Myers.

Also, I'm not suggesting that I can, or that anyone else should try, to "draw lines" about what is rational and what is not. If we were to do that as human individuals, what would that accomplish, really? And if we were to do so as a society with respect to things people believe, that would be the end of free society and a strong start for totalitarianism.

Again, all I was suggesting was in using the word "rational" that it might be wise to bear in mind the totality of circumstances - as much reality as we can grasp - about how the word might be perceived by others and about how our arguments regarding Christianity might take that into account to be more effective.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Neon Genesis on Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:35 am

The question on whether or not Christianity is rational to believe in I think also depends on the version of Christianity we're talking about. If we're talking about the fundamentalist version of Christianity, that version is most certainly completely irrational as it's already been disproved by science and history has made the claim that the bible is a reliable a historical document completely embarrassing and laughable. But then there are some liberal Christians who focus more on the ethical teachings of Jesus but might be more agnostic towards the supernatural. Like compare the Brian Mclaren interview to the debate with this Cliff guy and there's a world of difference between the two. I'm not saying this makes progressive Christianity anymore true but I think it's more logical sense than fundamentalism.

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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Brad on Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:15 am

Excellent point, NG.

I guess both our basic points are that for such a question as "Is Christianity Rational?" to be answered properly and effectively, the terms of the query really ought to be defined and understood by all up front.
In this case, explicitly defining both "Christianity" and "Rational" would have been helpful.

IMHO, doing that would have, at least potentially, made it more likely that Jeremy's arguments would register with some of the Christian audience members, and would have helped expose the other guy as one particular sort of Christian - the sort which some other Christians might find offensive and even loony.
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Re: RD Extra: Is Christianity Rational? (debate)

Post  Lausten on Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:19 pm

Also, I'm not suggesting that I can, or that anyone else should try, to "draw lines" about what is rational and what is not.
This is definitely something to be careful around. It is not too far down the road to start measuring craniums and checking peoples genealogy. Not that you or anyone else is suggesting that. I'm just agreeing with your "totalitarianism" point.

I like these ideas for new parables. http://www.thegreatstory.org/parables.html

They are taking things that, throughout all of history, even pre-science history, there has been near complete agreement on. Things like, "the universe is one", "killing is basically bad", "I wonder". Instead of taking those things and claiming supernatural origins, they mix them with scientific knowledge, frequently stars and mix in some values along the way.

So when we are confronted with someone who say, is very excited about telling the story of a dream where they spoke with their grandfather or they are convinced they left their body and saw something that they later confirmed actually happened, even though they weren't physically there. Rather than react with how irrational that is, maybe we should be first listening and realizing that for them, it was a true experience. Getting to a discussion about the confirmation bias or other psychological mumbo jumbo can wait. Of course these things tend to come up during a heated discussion of proving one's beliefs, so maybe I'm just thinking about ideal situations.
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Strange - but worth it

Post  FurryMoses on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:17 am

One commenter mentioned it was like debating a recording - which sounds about right.

Cliff didn't respond to much that Jeremy said and while his voice had great character and tone (although overly-dramatic), I still felt like he was going to sell me some dishwashing liquid at the end.

Sometimes his speech was indistinguishable from a sermon - he would gradually merge into pulpit-play - building up to a crescendo and playing all the right notes.

I still find this debate very useful, as I am sometimes exposed to thinking and reasoning like this, and I don't know what to say. There are better and worse ways to respond to the kind of pseudo-reasoning, dodgem-game that Cliff passes as argument and I want to keep on hearing how to do it.

I thought Jeremy's opening remarks were a little thin, in tone. After hearing the charismatic Cliff, Jeremy's reply had me slightly worried, as he seemed to be talking slightly fast and with none of the dramatic pause and punction that Cliff had set the standard with. I think he rolled with the punches though and was pretty much spot on from the second time he spoke.

Jeremy's closing remarks were absolutely perfect.

The only point I thought could have been discussed more sharply was Jeremy's discussion of the bible.
Since I read Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus", I've started to think that the story about wildly varying manuscripts is a more powerful seed of doubt to sow than internal inconsistencies. Especially that some entire stories are absent in some manuscripts and then magically appear in others.

I think the question that Jeremy had to debate in the section where he discussed the bible was whether christ was really crucified, so maybe he couldn't really go there but Cliff did raise the claim of "manuscript consistency to an infinitessimal degree" - earlier, which I understood to claim that the different manuscripts (eg "the 5200 greek ones") were all consistent. So rebutting this could have lead to the discussion of wildly varying manuscripts

And was that Jeremy I could hear laughing in the background towards the end? (in response to Cliff's dramatic, lyrical tones?)

FurryMoses

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Join date : 2009-09-24
Location : Australia

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