Logic and Science of Christianity

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Demo Kid writes a lengthy response to the comments under Vacuity of Atheism as a Philosophy. I appreciate his attempt, so I am posting an excerpt of his best parts here.

First of all, I’m not trying to “prove God exists”, because that CANNOT be done.

It’s actually quite easy to prove X exists. Simply find an example of X in nature, and you’re done. So, to prove God exists, all you have to do is find God in nature, and you’re done. To prove the Loch Ness Monster exists, find it. To prove Yeti exists, find it. And so on and so forth.

The supernatural is beyond empirical evidence, at least for rational and sane people that do not see the Virgin Mary in burnt toast. You cannot create a situation where you can control the supernatural, to the point where you could have a control group where God (or whatever) does not exist for certain. Therefore, you cannot create the circumstances where you can disprove the existence of God.

Who needs a control group or who needs to control the supernatural? All you need to do is get the supernatural God to witness to you that He exists, and that’s it.

For that idiot Ray Comfort, that inability to disprove the point is “proof”, but that doesn’t hold water with logic. An inability to disprove something just makes it impossible to know the truth. Since you just don’t know one way or the other, any kind of absolute belief on the topic cannot be “proven” (or rather, its opposites can be disproven). You cannot tell me with certainty that any other religion (or atheism) is automatically false and that yours is true, using anything beyond your own subjective experiences with faith.

“idiot Ray Comfort” is an ad hominem. You can’t argue with that kind of logic, because it isn’t logic.

However, to address your point, logically, you can only prove X doesn’t exist by examining everything in the universe and showing that nothing is X. You can say, “I haven’t seen proof of God” or “Among all the things I’ve observed, nothing proves the existence of God.” But until you’ve seen everything there is to see, you cannot say, “There is no God.”

The truth isn’t impossible to know. It’s actually the whole point of logic, reason, and the scientific method. If you take the stance that truth is unknowable, then perhaps you should give up on logic and science once and for all, since they are a desperate attempt to do the impossible.

Addressing whether or not an experience is “real” or not, that’s something you’ll have to take up with philosophers. If I see something with my eyes, or smell something with my nose, or hear something, or sense something with any of my senses, that is a very real phenomenon to me. Indeed, this is the very definition of real.

Whether or not you accept that as “real” to you is up to whether you trust me or not. Obviously, the kind of claim I make is going to affect your likelihood of accepting the claim. Wild and bizarre claims are less readily accepted than common claims.

However, the very fact that someone, anyone, claims something, means that the claim should at least be investigated. After all, we don’t find truth by merely accepting other people’s experiences. We have to get our own evidence and proof. Physics and chemistry are a wonderful science to study in because the experiments are reproducible. I can tell you, for a fact, that charge is quantized because I saw the oil drops in Millikan’s experiment for myself. Yes, it’s a wild claim, but I can show you how to reproduce it for yourself.

Obtaining your own spiritual enlightenment is up to you. You can either perform the same experiment I and countless others performed, and see if you get the same result we got, or you can continue on in disbelief and ignorance. I can’t force you to accept truth, I can only show it to you and ask you to attempt to discover it for yourself as well.

Here’s my proof: I know God lives because He answers my prayers and He testifies the truth of the scriptures that we have. How do you intend to dissuade someone like me from this proof? Where is the flaw in my reasoning?

I’m not keen on dissuading anyone that their personal beliefs are not true. However, personal experiences don’t matter very much in terms of actual proof. If you or I were to talk to a schizophrenic that was certain that space aliens existed, would that be proof of extraterrestrial life? Where would be the “proof” in that? Aren’t personal experiences open to interpretation and subject to misrepresentation?

I think I’ve addressed your concerns above well enough, but let’s apply this to the schizophrenic. His claims of seeing aliens are obviously bizarre. However, should we be interested in discovering the truth for ourselves, we would have to reproduce his experiment. If it’s not something we can control, then we have to leave it at what few testimonies exist and accept or reject it based solely on that.

I am not apt to accept the alien stories as true because they are highly contradictory and suspect. People who tend to experience these things seem to have mental flaws, or at least logical flaws. They also behave in a manner consistent with lying and the misrepresentation of facts. Those bits of evidence lead me to conclude that those experiences were not likely true, or they might have been caused by psychosis.

However, people who claim to have religious experiences are not mentally flawed. They are outstanding and upright citizens, they are quite capable at doing great science, and they weren’t in some kind of psychosis during their experience. Their experiences also don’t tend to contradict each other, except for a few outliers that are highly suspect because they share traits with the alien believers.

There’s this book called the Bible, and it records a history of Jesus, who died and was resurrected and showed his body before hundreds before ascending in heaven.

Hey, there’s also the Talmud, the Koran, the Buddhist sutras. The mere existence of religious texts do not automatically imply that they are the one true religion.

No, no one said that the existence of texts proves that the religion that believes in those texts were true. If that were so, then all religions built on the Bible would be true. Or any religion built on any text. That’s clearly absurd.

However, the texts do exist. Someone wrote them. Either they made the story up or they wrote down what they knew to be true, or they were delusional as they wrote it.

If you examine the Bible carefully, you will find that the text was written as a personal witness of the authors of the various texts. You’ll find a lot of reason to believe that the authors actually knew what they were talking about.

As for the Koran, I haven’t read it, but my understanding of what it contains is that the writings were not that of someone like a Moses or Isaiah, but a warlord who use religion to inspire his troops to violence. From what I’ve heard of others, it makes little sense taken as a whole.

As far as the Buddhist texts, I am interested in the Buddhist religion, but I haven’t been able to find any Buddhist texts. I know they exist, but what do they say? What little I have seen are just meaningless chants.

This book is not a book written by a single author, but by several authors, each who testify in their own way of the same story.

If we’re talking about the New Testament alone, it consists of four books that were pretty much chosen out of a whole host of Gospels written, and modern scholars suggest that one (John) was not written by a direct eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. The story is similar between each, but what does that prove? Each gospel was written for (or told by) different audiences, and includes material added by each author. If you had shown that four completely unrelated people that didn’t know each other and never heard each other’s stories had written exactly the same thing, you might have a leg to stand on there.

How would they not know each other if they spent their time around Jesus? Why would four different authors, talking to four different audiences, write the same thing? Or are you expecting something absurd?

Other historical records corroborate the claims.

Historical records that prove that Jesus existed do not prove his divinity. Muslims, for example, preach the idea that Jesus was a prophet and not the son of God. They would disagree with the idea that he was divine, but not disagree with the fact that he lived.

Muslims believe Jesus is a liar then, because Jesus himself testified he was much more than a prophet.

The apostles died as martyrs for their testimony of Jesus, along with thousands of others. Somehow, you’re going to have to build a time machine and show me how people would gladly die for a story they made up and agreed to.

I’m assuming that we’d have better things to do with a time machine. But again, that doesn’t prove divinity! You had plenty of martyrs that existed well after the apostles… a willingness to die for a cause is not proof that the cause that you’re willing to die for is correct. By that logic, since many Jews died during the Inquisition because of their faith, Judaism is automatically true.

Who said it wasn’t?

Or somehow, you’re going to have to explain how that giant stone was rolled away with two Roman guards watching it all night long.

Again, just because it is written there does not mean that it is the truth. You’re relying on a set of documents that are focused on the idea that Jesus is divine… do you expect a balanced account of events?

I’d expect any clear refutation of the evidence to survive at least as long as the religion had. If what the New Testament contained was clearly different than the actual historical evidence, why don’t the Jews point that out? Instead, the historical evidence directly lines up with what the New Testament claims. They cannot attack the facts of the story, so they have to pretend that Jesus was somehow in league with the devil, or somehow stole the name of God from the temple, or some other kind of supernatural nonsense.

Or somehow, you’re going to have to explain how the testimony of Jesus can survive one of the most brutal logical and legalistic societies of the time, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and survived despite the entire Roman empire trying to destroy it.

The whole reason why Christianity SURVIVED was because it was the official religion of the Roman Empire starting in the 4th century. But again, what does persecution prove in and of itself? If you’re going by that kind of metric, the Jewish faith would be true.

So, the period between 33 AD and 400 AD—what was Christianity doing? How could a religion survive nearly 400 years under brutal oppression? If the United States set its mind to eliminating a religion, do you think it would survive 400 years if it weren’t true? And not just survive, but thrive to the point where it made political sense to adopt it as the state religion?

Millions upon millions have personal witnesses of their own experiences with this Jesus, and the vast majority agree on basic points of doctrine.

And? Millions upon millions are Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish as well. Should we put theology up to a vote?

How many of those millions and millions of the other faiths have personal witnesses of the veracity of their religion, and how many follow due to other reasons?

Somehow, you’re going to have to systematically refute every single testimony of all the billions of living Christians today, along with every recorded testimony of every Christian who lived before you can even begin to prove that such a being as God can’t exist. That’s an uphill battle if ever there were one. Good luck.

That has nothing to do with “proof”! Aside from the point that I continue to repeat about how plenty of folks have deeply religious experiences that aren’t Christian in nature, “personal experiences” don’t matter with respect to actual evidence. I could believe that the ghosts of my dead relatives are talking to me, but that does not prove that there is some actual physical manifestation of that beyond my own imagination.

Simply put, you cannot disprove the idea that all of these experiences are related to other historical, psychological and sociological factors, or prove unequivocally that these were all caused by divine intervention.

If millions upon millions of scientists repeated an experiment and got the same answer, you’d have a hard time explaining away the experiment as invalid. These scientists experimented with Jesus’ words, and discovered, for themselves, that they are true and that Jesus was more than a myth, but a living, breathing God. It’s the denier that has the burden of proof now, because the believer has proof in their hands.

It’s kind of hard to prove God doesn’t exist to people who’ve interacted with Him.

Meanwhile, all you have to do is open your heart and mind, read the Bible, and get on your knees and pray with real faith, nothing wavering to get your own witness. There’s really nothing more to it. James 1:5.

Again, not proof. I could get on my knees and join Scientology right now and that would not be proof of Xenu, no matter how much I believed it afterwards.

You are running with the idea that somehow Christians have deluded themselves into believing in Christianity. I assure you, this is clearly not the case.

In the end, though, my arguments are in the same camp as yours in terms of logic: I just don’t know. We could all die and go to the afterlife and find out that the Methodists were the ones that had it completely right, or we could find out that Buddha had the right idea. Or, we could find out nothing at all, since the atheists were correct. It’s a big unknown. However, the arrogant assumption is assuming that you DO know. I have no problem with faith, but confusing faith with proof is so completely wrong that it isn’t even funny.

See, here is where you are wrong. I am absolutely sure. You are not. You leave open the possibility that I am correct. I have absolute proof that you are not.

Until you know for a certainty either way, you are better off spending your time finding truth.

It’s not a big unknown because God has not been silent on this question. In fact, of all the things we are supposed to ask God about, this is the number one thing we should figure out sooner rather than later. He has presented us with a door and asked us to knock. It’s up to us to ask, and once having asked, receive the answer He is more than willing to give.

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13 Responses to “Logic and Science of Christianity”

  1. demo kid Says:

    I’d say that I appreciated your attempt at refuting my comments, but I’m having a hard time with the fact that you’re mixing up things here.

    It’s actually quite easy to prove X exists. Simply find an example of X in nature, and you’re done. So, to prove God exists, all you have to do is find God in nature, and you’re done. To prove the Loch Ness Monster exists, find it. To prove Yeti exists, find it. And so on and so forth.

    Agreed. That’s exactly why the logic of atheism is flawed, since it’s a classic “black swan” problem. However, while you probably cannot say that the Yeti doesn’t exist, you can’t just turn around and use that logic as proof as to why the Yeti MUST exist.

    Who needs a control group or who needs to control the supernatural? All you need to do is get the supernatural God to witness to you that He exists, and that’s it.

    But “witnessing” isn’t physical evidence, and it never will be. Again, your subjective opinion is not empirical proof, and you cannot continue to claim that it is if you’re going to be making a rational argument.

    “idiot Ray Comfort” is an ad hominem. You can’t argue with that kind of logic, because it isn’t logic.

    Read the rest of what I said. I find that someone who can argue that a banana was designed by God to be a natural Pepsi can for humans is absolutely moronic though, and obviously not someone familiar with how cashews are processed. Therefore, I consider “idiot” to be a factual statement when describing him, not an ad hominem attack.

    However, to address your point, logically, you can only prove X doesn’t exist by examining everything in the universe and showing that nothing is X. You can say, “I haven’t seen proof of God” or “Among all the things I’ve observed, nothing proves the existence of God.” But until you’ve seen everything there is to see, you cannot say, “There is no God.”

    Again, not disagreeing… but that’s not evidence that there IS a God.

    The truth isn’t impossible to know. It’s actually the whole point of logic, reason, and the scientific method. If you take the stance that truth is unknowable, then perhaps you should give up on logic and science once and for all, since they are a desperate attempt to do the impossible.

    The truth is absolutely impossible to know. Even aside from the induction problem, our imperfect impressions of the universe and our crude models about the way that it works don’t come close to actually defining the universe. Otherwise, I’d be building that time machine.

    Addressing whether or not an experience is “real” or not, that’s something you’ll have to take up with philosophers. If I see something with my eyes, or smell something with my nose, or hear something, or sense something with any of my senses, that is a very real phenomenon to me. Indeed, this is the very definition of real.

    And I say that philosophically and scientifically, it is still open to interpretation. Are your senses providing you with information about the world around you? Sure… but to believe that you can figure out the absolute truth from imperfect senses and a human mind is sheer folly.

    Whether or not you accept that as “real” to you is up to whether you trust me or not. Obviously, the kind of claim I make is going to affect your likelihood of accepting the claim. Wild and bizarre claims are less readily accepted than common claims.

    Hey, sure… the likelihood of something strange being true is certainly less. However, plenty of things that folks believe have been true and have seen and heard before have been shown to be false, and vice versa.

    However, the very fact that someone, anyone, claims something, means that the claim should at least be investigated. After all, we don’t find truth by merely accepting other people’s experiences. We have to get our own evidence and proof. Physics and chemistry are a wonderful science to study in because the experiments are reproducible. I can tell you, for a fact, that charge is quantized because I saw the oil drops in Millikan’s experiment for myself. Yes, it’s a wild claim, but I can show you how to reproduce it for yourself.

    Exactly. Evidence. Still, there is a chance that a better alternative explanation of a phenomenon will exist at some point in the future. You cannot know the truth.

    Obtaining your own spiritual enlightenment is up to you. You can either perform the same experiment I and countless others performed, and see if you get the same result we got, or you can continue on in disbelief and ignorance. I can’t force you to accept truth, I can only show it to you and ask you to attempt to discover it for yourself as well.

    “Disbelief and ignorance”? Whatever. I’m the one writing logically here, and you’re the one who seems to have an alternative definition of the word “experiment”.

    So this is the point that I’m trying to make: THERE IS NO EXPERIMENT THERE. How precisely can you prove that God exists simply because you believe that God exists? Where is the control? How did you exclude God from it? What physical evidence exists?

    I think I’ve addressed your concerns above well enough, but let’s apply this to the schizophrenic. His claims of seeing aliens are obviously bizarre. However, should we be interested in discovering the truth for ourselves, we would have to reproduce his experiment. If it’s not something we can control, then we have to leave it at what few testimonies exist and accept or reject it based solely on that.

    You’ve hardly “addressed my concerns”, and here’s why. If the schizophrenic told you that you just had to believe his claims, you wouldn’t… pretty much as you said here. You’d try to “reproduce the experiment” by meeting aliens, hopefully without getting probed in an uncomfortable place. You’d look for evidence of a UFO landing site. You’d try to find some video recordings. Without evidence, you’d view his claims as unlikely.

    Where is the difference? You can say that you believe things according to your faith, but unless you’re willing to walk on water for me or build that time machine to go back to 33 AD, you’re not providing empirical evidence, just a statement of your beliefs. And that’s fine… plenty of people believe things without evidence, and the metaphysical pretty much has to fall into that category.

    I am not apt to accept the alien stories as true because they are highly contradictory and suspect. People who tend to experience these things seem to have mental flaws, or at least logical flaws. They also behave in a manner consistent with lying and the misrepresentation of facts. Those bits of evidence lead me to conclude that those experiences were not likely true, or they might have been caused by psychosis.

    Wow. Exactly why I’m skeptical of some religious folks.

    However, people who claim to have religious experiences are not mentally flawed. They are outstanding and upright citizens, they are quite capable at doing great science, and they weren’t in some kind of psychosis during their experience. Their experiences also don’t tend to contradict each other, except for a few outliers that are highly suspect because they share traits with the alien believers.

    So you go and discuss this logical fallacy with the Loch Ness monster, and then you proceed to fall into the same trap.

    No, no one said that the existence of texts proves that the religion that believes in those texts were true. If that were so, then all religions built on the Bible would be true. Or any religion built on any text. That’s clearly absurd.

    It’s pretty much what you said. You stated that the existence of the Bible was proof that God exists.

    However, the texts do exist. Someone wrote them. Either they made the story up or they wrote down what they knew to be true, or they were delusional as they wrote it.

    And you know one from the other in what way, precisely?

    If you examine the Bible carefully, you will find that the text was written as a personal witness of the authors of the various texts. You’ll find a lot of reason to believe that the authors actually knew what they were talking about.

    Because… why? If you and I were to try to tell someone the story of Goldilocks, I’m sure that we’d get a few things wrong, but odds are the the stories would be almost the same. Trying to prove that God exists because four guys (well, actually more, but we won’t get into that) from the same place at the same time told the same story in slightly different ways is futile.

    As for the Koran, I haven’t read it, but my understanding of what it contains is that the writings were not that of someone like a Moses or Isaiah, but a warlord who use religion to inspire his troops to violence. From what I’ve heard of others, it makes little sense taken as a whole.

    So you haven’t read other religious texts, but you claim that they aren’t true?

    As far as the Buddhist texts, I am interested in the Buddhist religion, but I haven’t been able to find any Buddhist texts. I know they exist, but what do they say? What little I have seen are just meaningless chants.

    Yet again, you don’t know what these religions are about, but you know that they aren’t true?

    How would they not know each other if they spent their time around Jesus? Why would four different authors, talking to four different audiences, write the same thing? Or are you expecting something absurd?

    No, I was saying the opposite. If you and three other people from completely different cultures and backgrounds wrote down the story of Goldilocks and claimed that it was divinely inspired, I might believe you. If you have four guys working from the same source material (whatever that may be), the fact that they told almost exactly the same story isn’t proof of anything.

    Muslims believe Jesus is a liar then, because Jesus himself testified he was much more than a prophet.

    Point? It’s a difference in interpretation.

    I’d expect any clear refutation of the evidence to survive at least as long as the religion had. If what the New Testament contained was clearly different than the actual historical evidence, why don’t the Jews point that out? Instead, the historical evidence directly lines up with what the New Testament claims. They cannot attack the facts of the story, so they have to pretend that Jesus was somehow in league with the devil, or somehow stole the name of God from the temple, or some other kind of supernatural nonsense.

    What “actual historical evidence” are you talking about? Did someone save a loaf or a fish? Stating that Jesus may have been an actual person is one thing… stating that there is tangible evidence of his divinity is another. Don’t confuse the two.

    So, the period between 33 AD and 400 AD—what was Christianity doing? How could a religion survive nearly 400 years under brutal oppression? If the United States set its mind to eliminating a religion, do you think it would survive 400 years if it weren’t true? And not just survive, but thrive to the point where it made political sense to adopt it as the state religion?

    Judaism survived a lot longer under oppression from all sorts of folks, and still exists. Does this mean that you should believe in Judaism above Christianity? Mormons were suppressed by folks in the US… does that mean that it is automatically correct? Again, simple survival is not proof that God exists, just that history happens. You’re not pointing out any type of divine intervention here to back up your claims.

    How many of those millions and millions of the other faiths have personal witnesses of the veracity of their religion, and how many follow due to other reasons?

    I’m met plenty of people from other faiths that believe in their religion. All you’re doing now is speaking about things that you have no experience with, apparently.

    If millions upon millions of scientists repeated an experiment and got the same answer, you’d have a hard time explaining away the experiment as invalid. These scientists experimented with Jesus’ words, and discovered, for themselves, that they are true and that Jesus was more than a myth, but a living, breathing God. It’s the denier that has the burden of proof now, because the believer has proof in their hands.

    It’s not an experiment until you show me a control group where you manage to suck all of the God out of a room for the testing.

    You are running with the idea that somehow Christians have deluded themselves into believing in Christianity. I assure you, this is clearly not the case.

    Why? As I’ve said, just because people believe something is true doesn’t mean that it is. I cannot disprove God… but I also cannot disprove the divine natures of Buddha, Rama, Mohammed or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    See, here is where you are wrong. I am absolutely sure. You are not. You leave open the possibility that I am correct. I have absolute proof that you are not.

    Your statement is true… until the last phrase. You have absolute proof of nothing, just your opinion. That’s fine for you, but not for me.

    It’s not a big unknown because God has not been silent on this question. In fact, of all the things we are supposed to ask God about, this is the number one thing we should figure out sooner rather than later. He has presented us with a door and asked us to knock. It’s up to us to ask, and once having asked, receive the answer He is more than willing to give.

    Without a shred of empirical evidence to back it up, of course!

    And hey, I don’t find faith to be a problem… I just hate it when people decide to confuse metaphysical faith with physical evidence.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I wanted people to read this comment to see how wordy this particular commentator can be.

      To address all of his above concerns, he is relying on everything but the sense and testimony as evidence. In the end, nothing is evidence to him. It takes only two witnesses to convict someone of murder, but apparently billions of witnesses isn’t enough to convict someone of resurrection.

      If you go down the route he is advocating, where nothing you sense nor any testimony from witnesses is enough evidence, then you have effectively drawn up a logical world where nothing is real. In other words, you begin living in a dream world.

      Demo kid, I wish you a good night’s dream while it lasts. Maybe one day you’ll wake up and recognize reality for what it is. Until then, enjoy your dream-like stupor while it lasts.

      • demo kid Says:

        So you rail on people for “ad hominem” attacks, and then say that I’m living in a “dream world” or “too wordy” without saying anything else of substance? Brilliant. Bravo. I’d slow clap to get my point across, but I think you can get it.

        Not to mention that you failed to answer my basic question: how can you run an experiment by manipulating God in a controlled setting? What device can you use to remove God from a test tube, or make sure that there’s no God in a laboratory where you’re running tests?

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Excuse me, I pointed out, logically, how refusing to accept any evidence leads to living in a dream world disconnected with reality. That was no ad hominem, that was a clear argument proving that you are living in a dream world because you refuse to accept any evidence whatsoever.

        Secondly, just because we can’t tell gravity to stop working in the laboratory doesn’t mean we can’t identify and measure it according to the laws it is governed by. Just because we can’t control the stars doesn’t mean we can’t observe and measure them. The same goes for God. You don’t have to control something to understand it. Indeed, if you don’t understand it, you can never hope to control it.

      • demo kid Says:

        Stop lying and misrepresenting my position. I didn’t “refuse to accept evidence” at any point. My statement was that perception is flawed, and evidence gathered by humans is never a certainty. You believe that you can perceive absolute truth with flawed senses and a human brain, which is absolute hubris. Of course, does that mean that you should never accept evidence? No. It just means that you need to be critical in your thinking, and be aware that there is a difference between “evidence” and “interpretation”.

        As far as the rest of it goes, you’re still not making any sense. Let’s take gravity, for example. You certainly cannot tell gravity to “stop working”, but you can run experiments where gravity is a variable. Shoot up a petunia or a mouse in the space shuttle, and you can run experiments in free-fall to figure out if gravity affects bone density or plant growth compared to petunias and mice on Earth. You can take measures of gravitational attraction at distinct points on the earth, and from the variation you can infer that the density of the earth is not the same the whole way through. You can run experiments that measure inertial mass, passive gravitational mass, and active gravitational mass to show that they are all equivalent. All of THOSE involve real scientific inquiry.

        If you’re going to run an “experiment” with God, though, you will need to have a reliable control. Where shall we get a room without God so we can set that up? How do we change levels of God so that we can suck him out of a room? How do you measure the amount of God in the environment?

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        You certainly cannot tell gravity to “stop working”, but you can run experiments where gravity is a variable.

        Sir Isaac Newton needed no space shuttle to prove gravity existed.

        And besides, gravity is in effect everywhere, as long as there is any mass or energy in the universe at all. The only way you can “eliminate gravity” is to eliminate all mass and energy from the universe. Good luck with that.

        If you’re going to run an “experiment” with God, though, you will need to have a reliable control.

        Here’s how to run the experiment. As a control, don’t read any scriptures, don’t think about God, and certainly don’t pray to God and ask if He exists. Don’t do anything because God said so, but rely solely on your intellect and understanding of the universe to guide your behavior. (Note: Christian thought has seriously penetrated our society, especially in how we treat others. Eliminate that unless you have a logical and reasonable explanation to follow Christ.) Record your feelings on God after one year.

        God has promised He won’t interfere in our lives until we ask Him to. This is a good way to eliminate God from your life. (The nice thing about supernatural creators is that they are governed by what they say.) Note that if you start suffering severe negative reactions during this time, I’d ask you to stop immediately. These negative reactions may include thoughts of committing crimes against others, thoughts of suicide, or thoughts of loneliness or despair.

        Then, spend a whole year reading scriptures, praying to God, and living your life in accordance to His principles. Seek earnestly and diligently to know about God, and promise to yourself that should God reveal Himself to you, you will devote the rest of your life telling the whole world that you know God exists and serving him. When people come to you to talk about God, let them talk, and listen earnestly to what they have to say. If they challenge you to do something reasonable, like read particular scriptures or attend church services, take them up on the offer. Record your feelings about God during this time.

        That’s the experiment and control. You may even experiment on real people if you like, as long as they are people that already don’t believe in God. (Asking a believer to stop believing has eternal consequences worse than death.)

      • demo kid Says:

        Yet again, you’re misrepresenting what I’ve said. Assuming that evidence is immutable given the limits of human perception is a flawed position, and stating that absolute truth is knowable is hubris. If you believe that you can know these things, then you’re simply incorrect. Humans are always wrong… it’s in our nature.

        Likewise, you’re saying that you can “control” God now? Brilliant. I’m sure that He LOVES that attitude.

  2. Alan Says:

    As St. Paul said “if Christ is not risen our faith is in vain.” The gospels do not even agree about what city he reappeared in or who saw him. That immediately sounds like lousy historical evidence. Who are the billions you are referring to? What do you mean by”God” and what evidence do you have for such a “being”? If this is how you think through theology and history, then why would anyone trust your judgement about anything?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      So you’re complaining that the four gospels do not talk about exactly the same things? What do you expect from four different accounts of the same period of time written to different audiences by different people? That they agree at all is a testament to their truth. The fact that they agree so closely, some of them being written in isolation of the others, is a testament to their divine origins. Because some incidents are found in only one or two of the gospels means that those particular incidents have only one or two records, not that they are not true altogether.

      As to the billions of witnesses, there are billions of people who have lived and are alive on this earth who have come to know their Lord and Savior on a personal level. Find your nearest Christian, and ask them if the Savior was resurrected. You can test their degree of confidence by subjecting them to all kinds of persecution, including torture and death. See how many of them recant their testimony. Why would they persist in a lie without any personal gain? Of course that makes no sense, so we must accept that they have been convinced to such a degree that they are willing to suffer death than recant their testimony.

      As for eye-witnesses, there are at least the twelve apostles and disciples who saw him, in addition to countless others who have not found their testimony or history written down in the Bible. Add in countless others through the ages who have seen Him, and you are beginning to see a pattern.

      But most important of all, I know for myself. I have studied it out and prayed, following the exact directions that Jesus gave in the Bible. Having asked, I received. Having knocked, it has been opened to me. To me, this is more important evidence than any other evidence of anything I have ever heard.

      You can continue to poo-poo this fact and try to look for something else to convince you. Or you can stop debating and go find out for yourself.

  3. demo kid Says:

    This is getting exhausting.

    First of all, Newton’s theory of gravitation shows EXACTLY what I mean. Newton didn’t “prove” that gravity existed — Galileo showed that acceleration under gravity is a constant, for example — he just adapted the concept to show that it applied to celestial mechanics, with force calculated as a function of the masses and the inverse square of distance. It was developed purely as an empirical equation though, “proven” by observations of planetary orbits where gravitational attraction WAS a variable. Newton did not even postulate what precisely is causing this phenomenon to occur, either.

    There are also discrepancies with the theory. The perihelion procession of Mercury is a great example of where Newton’s equation just didn’t work, and Einstein’s field equations do a much better job of explaining observable phenomenon. Now, you can say that Newton “discovered gravity”, but if you were to presume that you knew the absolute “truth” and used Newtonian physics instead of Einsteinian physics for space missions, you’d probably get a nasty surprise.

    And with respect to your “experiment”, you’re not proving what you think you’re proving. First, you’re not proving the divinity of God… again. You’re proving that certain ways of thinking may be beneficial to some people, but not that the actual existence of God is the cause. Second, you’re not proving that Christianity is exclusive to this. If I were to go and live my life as a Buddhist and I experienced similar subjective feelings of happiness, would that be proof enough for you that Buddhism is cosmologically correct? If the Dalai Lama is a happier person than the Pope, does that mean that Catholics should start believing in reincarnation?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      This is getting exhausting.

      Thinking is hard, huh? I’m just getting warmed up.

      It was developed purely as an empirical equation though, “proven” by observations

      Wait a minute! I thought you said that unless you could turn it “on” and “off”, you can’t experiment with it! And yet you are admitting that “empirical equations” were derived through “observation”!

      Are you saying that “observation” is enough to do science?!? If this is so, then all we have to do is “observe” the phenomena around us and derive our mental model of the universe. By doing so, we can conclude that imagined forces like gravity (a purely fictional concept invented in the heads of Galileo and Newton) are real, as well as imagined forces of nature, such as God (invented in the heads of the authors of the Bible and Jonathan Gardner) are also real.

      Or, at least, we can say, “Given what I have seen, and all that I understand, the best explanation for all of it is that God exists.” Given enough proof, perhaps we can even go so far as to say, “I know, for a fact, that God exists and is not imagined. I know because I have communicated with Him.”

      With regards to the prayer and study experiment, I implore you to experiment with as many religions as you want, as long as you include Christianity, or even the LDS faith among them. Go ahead, please experiment with religion.

      You’ll note that many of your friends are going to strongly discourage you from doing so. Why are they so afraid of it? If religion is imaginary, then you have nothing to fear.

      I can prove to you, quite convincingly, that my experiment will yield absolute proof, at least for you, if you employ the exact methods I have described. Until you do so, you cannot say that they do not, because you have not tried.

  4. Jason Gardner Says:

    “I am not apt to accept the alien stories as true because they are highly contradictory and suspect. People who tend to experience these things seem to have mental flaws, or at least logical flaws. They also behave in a manner consistent with lying and the misrepresentation of facts. Those bits of evidence lead me to conclude that those experiences were not likely true, or they might have been caused by psychosis.”

    Same argument for religion. However, I reject all alien stories, including ones that with a super natural alien that talk to Jews and tells the the Jews that they are the most favored by said alien.

    Also, plenty of Christians have mental flaws. E.g. Jim Jones.

    “As for the Koran, I haven’t read it, but my understanding of what it contains is that the writings were not that of someone like a Moses or Isaiah, but a warlord who use religion to inspire his troops to violence. From what I’ve heard of others, it makes little sense taken as a whole.”

    Read the bible. Moses was a warlord. He wiped out the Canaanites and took their land. Seriously man, read the Bible. You have a lack of knowledge that is weird for such a religious person.

    “As to the billions of witnesses, there are billions of people who have lived and are alive on this earth who have come to know their Lord and Savior on a personal level. Find your nearest Christian, and ask them if the Savior was resurrected. You can test their degree of confidence by subjecting them to all kinds of persecution, including torture and death. See how many of them recant their testimony. Why would they persist in a lie without any personal gain? Of course that makes no sense, so we must accept that they have been convinced to such a degree that they are willing to suffer death than recant their testimony.”

    Billions of people have believed all kinds of stupid stuff. This is not proof. It is a logical fallacy. Argumentum ad Populum.

    E.g. People have jumped to their deaths in the belief that they could fly. I guess, because they were so convinced that they actually jumped, that they could fly. The ground had a different opinion…

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      The difference between aliens and religions is there are a very large number of otherwise completely reasonable people who have faith in their religion. Playing the game of “one of these things is not like the other” is not as easy as we think it is. How are we so sure that they are otherwise sane and reasonable, and how are we so sure that religion is not sane and reasonable? Using history as my guide, and playing my own game of “one of these things is not like the other” leads me to conclude that religion *is* sane and reasonable, and those who question is are not necessarily so. I am sure you can see the parallel between my argument and yours, except for most of human history and for most of the world today, religion is a sane and reasonable thing.

      Regarding Moses as a warlord, I find it very curious that Moses doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about how to fight wars or what to do with the enemies and such. Sure, there are a few verses here and there, and those verses suggest that raping, killing, and pillaging are not the order of war. It is rare indeed that Moses or his successors gave the order to exterminate a people entirely. The vast majority of their wars were military actions we might find modern, civilized nations undertaking. Regarding the land of Canaan, for a person who gave the order to exterminate the enemy, there sure were a lot of people left behind alive. The Canaanites were never driven from that area of the world, and for much of the time, the Israelites existed peacefully with them. Compare Moses with Mohammed, and ask, where are all the pagan religions that Mohammed replaced with Islam? The only reason the Jews and Christians survived is because they were able to defend themselves. The moment they lost that advantage, they were exterminated to.

      So we might want to compare Moses with Mohammed, their tactics, strategy and policy, but clearly, there is a significant difference. One let their enemies live, the other didn’t.

      Argumentum ad Populum is the argument that it is true because everyone says it is true. I wasn’t saying that. Certainly such an argument wouldn’t fly in the modern world since everyone doesn’t believe religion is true anymore. I was saying that there are a very large number of witnesses. You can go ask the witnesses for their accounts yourself.

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