- Can a Rational Individual believe in God ?

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- Can a Rational Individual believe in God ?

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1socratus
Feb 1, 2011, 9:18am

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Feb 1, 2011, 9:19am

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3donbuch1
May 22, 2012, 11:37pm


To address the question: Can a rational individual believe in God? Generally speaking, I would say no, if what you mean by God as being some spiritual entity that can be logically defined and anatomized.

4MartyBrandon
Dic 29, 2012, 7:44pm

Many rational persons believe in God, though that belief is itself irrational. Did you mean a "purely" rational person? I've not met anyone who fits that description, but in that case the answer would be no. A purely rational cannot believe in God. God has been shown to be a cultural artifact of planet Earth, so he can no more be considered real by a purely rational person than Spiderman, whose evolution and origin can also be attributed to human creators.

The purely rational person might hold open the possibility of there being an entity so powerful that it appears to be a god (little "g" since this wouldn't be the same fellow/madam we learn about in Sunday school). However, simply admitting to a possibility may not be what you would call "believe", and being merely powerful, rather than omnipotent and all-powerful, may not fit your definition of a god.

5lawecon
Dic 29, 2012, 7:49pm

"The purely rational person might hold open the possibility of there being an entity so powerful that it appears to be a god (little "g" since this wouldn't be the same fellow/madam we learn about in Sunday school). However, simply admitting to a possibility may not be what you would call "believe", and being merely powerful, rather than omnipotent and all-powerful, may not fit your definition of a god."

Well, half way there.

Now for the analogous question - do your believe in Alexander the Great?

6MartyBrandon
Dic 31, 2012, 6:35am

Yes, to the extent that I believe in the accuracy of what historians have explained. That belief could change with additional information, though I think that considerable historical evidence has been accumulated for Alexander, and it would take strong evidence to overturn my belief.

A belief in Alexander is different from a belief in God in that his existence does not lead to any contradictions in the laws of nature, so no other bodies of knowledge are at odds with his existence. However, to the extent that Alexander, the man, is in some way deified, then these added details would be in serious doubt, similar to the mythology that has arisen around Jesus.

7lawecon
Dic 31, 2012, 7:24am

I thought you were talking about Jesus. Did it ever strike you that there are religions other that Christianity?

8MartyBrandon
Dic 31, 2012, 7:54am

Persons in my part of the world generally use "God" when referring to one of the Abrahamic traditions (Christianity, Judaism, or Islam). And most people in the southern US, where I was raised, would automatically assume "God" to be the bearded Christian guy.

9lawecon
Dic 31, 2012, 8:06am

~8

Well, believe it or not, we don't all reside in the Southern US. Further, I doubt you have a clue about the particulars of Judaism or Islam. I would suggest that if you are interested in shaking up your obvious parochial prejudices that you take a look at a volume like God Is Not One.

10MartyBrandon
Dic 31, 2012, 9:31am

And I'd suggest that you not post anymore questions until you learn better manners and become more skillful at providing the needed context. Good luck finding the answers you seek.

11lawecon
Editado: Dic 31, 2012, 11:16am

~10

Suggestion not accepted. Do you dispute any of the allegations I have made about your knowledge, or lack thereof, or are you "just insulted." I just took a look at your library, and unless you have failed to list a number of items you have read nothing at all on Judaism or Islam, and damn little on Christianity. I am sorry if you are "insulted," but it is often insulting to people who make sweeping statements to point out that they don't have any basis for those statements. So if you are insulted, you might want to remove the basis for being insulted in the future by actually exploring the topic on which you have chosen to pontificate before you start typing.

12MartyBrandon
Dic 31, 2012, 5:10pm

The question you posted has nothing to do with the details of those traditions, so it's irrelevant, though if had looked under the philosophy tag in my library you'd have seen a few of the works (The Koran, The Jeffersonian Bible, A History of God . . .) with which I'm familiar.

Essentially, your little ruse in the form of a mock question didn't workout the way you'd hoped, so now you've become rude and snippy. Anyone whose been openly atheist for more than a decade soon learns that life becomes an endless game of "whack-a-mole" as theist line-up with some new argument they've discovered (one that has somehow eluded two-thousand years of critical analysis). You had your turn, now, go back over to the shallow end of the philosophy pool until you learn to swim.

Enjoy your new year. This conversation is over.

13lawecon
Editado: Dic 31, 2012, 9:20pm

~12

Try to focus, Marty.

Not all conceptions of G_d are Southern Baptist conceptions that Southern Baptist youth "learn about in Sunday School." You yourself conceded that there was the possibility of a rational belief in some conception of G-d (but now you seem to want to deny that there are any such people who hold to such belief, with no evidence for such denial other than what "you were taught in Sunday School") Having read copies of the Qur'an or the Christian Bible hardly makes you an expert on Judaism, Islam or any of the other nonProtestant world religions. You might just learn something if you can restrain yourself from throwing a tantrum and stomping off with your marbles. As it is, you don't know if what I am maintaining has anything to do with a particular religious tradition, since you apparently know very little about other religious traditions.

Further, Marty, there was no "mock question." You believe certain things on certain types of evidence. The type of evidence that you are willing to accept for some beliefs is different than for others, based on the nature of the claim being supported or refuted. You believe that there was a Nixon on certain sorts of evidence, that there was an Alexander on other (and lesser) sorts of evidence and that there may have been a Moses who had certain sorts of encounters with a nonhuman agency on still other (and still lesser) sorts of evidence. That is because as time passes the amount and types of evidence diminish. Or at least that is the way that rational people without preconceptions about the way things should come out would make those distinctions.

And, incidentally, Marty, you can, of course end a conversation by refusing to participate, but not by declaring that "it is over." You don't run these forums, and it isn't over until its over.

14eschator83
Editado: Abr 5, 2017, 1:29pm

This question is so important I hate to let it sit festering with unpleasantness.
Church leaders and scholars have written on both sides of the question, and I hope other members will describe some of those writings, which I think are far more interesting and important than our own personal, contemporary feelings/instincts/assumptions.
In the Preface of the Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Dr Kreeft and Fr Pacelli wrote"
"We are confident...that honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to (the conclusion that the Christian Faith is true).

15pmackey
Abr 7, 2017, 12:40pm

>14 eschator83:, "We are confident...that honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to (the conclusion that the Christian Faith is true).

I believe that is true... and I believe the opposite is true, as well. We have such a limited perspective as humans and we make the best sense out of all the information available. In the final analysis, I firmly believe that it takes as great a "leap of faith" to be an Atheist as it does to become a Christian.

The problem, I think, is the privileged place atheists give to certain types of facts (i.e., scientific) when not everything aligns that way. Concepts of justice, beauty and love aren't scientific (in any way I understand) but are worthy of consideration.

16eschator83
Abr 7, 2017, 1:08pm

Atheists obviously have a variety of personal reasons for disliking religion, churches, morality, and God.
As Jesus taught, "everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, that their deeds may not be exposed."
Atheists are evil by definition because they try to confuse and destroy the faith of others. But their claim that God doesn't exist is irrational because non-existence cannot possibly be proved.
That's an ideology, vicious and despicable.

17MarthaJeanne
Editado: Abr 7, 2017, 2:01pm

>16 eschator83: I rather doubt that your words are likely to change anyone's minds on this matter. Unless they decide that they prefer to distance themselves from those who express themselves in such terms.

18pmackey
Abr 8, 2017, 12:37pm

>16 eschator83: Atheists are evil by definition because they try to confuse and destroy the faith of others. But their claim that God doesn't exist is irrational because non-existence cannot possibly be proved.
That's an ideology, vicious and despicable.


I very much disagree with you. Atheists are not evil by definition. Evil, as defined by the Dictionary.com is: morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked. I've known atheists who are good people. I may believe that an atheist is wrong but that does not make an individual inherently evil. Again, just because someone is a Christian, does not mean they're automatically "good". To use the old example, Hitler and Stalin were, at least at some point, Christians but it didn't make them good people.

There are fundamentalist atheists, such as Dawkins, that I feel are dangerous. Whether they're actually evil or not is something God will have to judge. There are fundamentalist Christians who are dangerous and do evil things (abortion clinic bombers, etc.).

It isn't so much what you believe -- though that is important -- it's what you do with that belief. "Talk is cheap... Actions speak louder than words...." Feed the poor, care for the aged, tend to the environment... those are things that indicate whether their belief is just lip service or heartfelt. Whether they're saved is entirely up to God.

>17 MarthaJeanne: Yes, there isn't much we can do to change one another's minds. I suggest we start by actually living out the love of God. Our actions will be much more convincing.

19John5918
Editado: Abr 8, 2017, 1:10pm

>16 eschator83: Atheists are evil by definition because they try to confuse and destroy the faith of others

I have to disagree with you. I agree with >18 pmackey:.

I would add that most of the atheists I know - family, friends, colleagues - do not "try to confuse and destroy the faith of others". They simply live and let live.

20eschator83
Editado: Abr 8, 2017, 6:56pm

How would you know they are atheists unless they told you? and what do you think is their motive in telling you, other than to undermine your faith and discourage your evangelization?
Somewhere fairly recently there was a current application of an old philosophy about don't ask and don't tell. It had kept the Roman Empire reasonably intact for quite a few years, but
it couldn't help for long in recent times because of the aggressiveness of opponents.
Is blasphemy evil? Sodomy? Is anything evil anymore?
Can you distinguish between blasphemy and outspoken atheism?
Please forgive my essentially rhetorical questions--I'm trying to understand why so many people use them, and how.
Would you believe in the 8 pages of the concluding chapter of the Durants' Lessons of History (Is Progress Real?- first question) there are 28 rhetorical questions?
The Durants, I suppose you know, were outspoken atheists; their books are filled with recriminations against religion. As they close Lessons, this sentence is presented: The historian will not mourn because he can see no meaning in human existence except that which man puts into it; let it be our pride that we ourselves may put meaning into our lives, and sometimes a significance that transcends death. Is this live and let live?
St John Paul II wrote in Fides et Ratio that the Church should indicate when philosophy is incompatible with Revealed Truth. I pray it will do this much more than it is, and I hope to help.

21MarthaJeanne
Editado: Abr 9, 2017, 3:03am

How are people to know that someone calls himself a Christian unless he runs around condemning other people? It has gotten to the point that a lot of people think that is what Christianity is about. I'm not sure how that is supposed to make people want to learn about Jesus.

22John5918
Abr 9, 2017, 8:54am

>20 eschator83: How would you know they are atheists unless they told you? and what do you think is their motive in telling you, other than to undermine your faith and discourage your evangelization?

Because I aked them? Because it occasionally comes up in casual conversation over a beer or three? Because some of them, on discussing marriage of funeral plans, chose a registry office wedding or a nonreligious funeral and graciously explained to their family and friends why they did so? There are plenty of ways that we mutually discover things about our family and friends without either party trying "to confuse and destroy the faith of others".

Is anything evil anymore?

War, violence, oppression, torture, murder, rape, child abuse, extrajudicial execution, kidnapping, arbitrary detention, bigotry, failing to welcome the stranger or the poor (cf Matthew 25), hate speech... the list is long. Unfortunately many Christians don't seem to recognise these evils when they see them.

Can you distinguish between blasphemy and outspoken atheism?

Atheism is not blasphemy. Atheists view reality through a different lens than religious people, and both are being honest about what they believe. Blasphemy stikes me as being a leftover from non-pluralistic and more theocratic societies, where anything which appears to challenge or undermine that society is condemned by those in power. In a pluralistic society where everybody is free to express their own view, it seems that blasphemy is obsolete, although in an ideal society neither atheists or religious people would feel the need to express views deliberately intended to insult others.

Incidentally, many of the Catholic jokes which I first heard from bishops and priests would certainly be judged blasphemous under the old paradigm.

The Durants, I suppose you know, were outspoken atheists; their books are filled with recriminations against religion.

I've never heard of the Durants, I'm afraid. But of course some atheists are filled with recriminations and anger against religion, just as some religious people are filled with recrimination and anger against atheism. In my view receriminations and anger are not helpful on either side.