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Hey Kristen and anyone else who might care!(38 posts)

Hey Kristen and anyone else who might care!Wayne
Jul 16, 2002 5:10 AM
After you inspired me in our Christian discussion a few weeks back to look into the history of Jesus/Christianity, I emailed the professor I had some years ago for the History of Christianity class for some good, scholarly book recommendations. I just finished the first one "Jesus and the World of Judaism" by Geza Vermes (1983). A collection of 10 essays by the head of Jewish studies at Oxford. Some are pretty esoteric and I'm certain I lack the background knowledge to even partly appreciate alot of the arguements in a few chapters. But there's some good stuff on Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls (which i take is the authors expertise).
His main thesis for the stuff on Jesus is that if you want to understand what the guy was all about you have to understand what it meant to be a religious jew in the early 1st century AD. In particular, a backwater jew from Galilee, who is disgusted by the corruption he and his followers see from the head honchos in Jerusalem at the Temple. Remembering that Jesus was in essense concerned with returning Jewish people to the path of righteousness that he believed they had strayed from (which is paralleled by the Essenes, and the "teacher of righteousness" which were roughly contemporaneous with Jesus/Paul, and whose philosophy/rules, etc are recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls). I didn't realize there are several statements in the Gospels where he expresses he disdain for Gentiles (calling them dogs in one place, although don't ask me to quote scripture), which Vermes probably correctly points out is a good arguement that those statements could probably be reliably attributed to Jesus. Afterall, if you were the early new testament compilers you certainly wouldn't put words into the mouth of Jesus that were counter to the whole proselytizing of Gentiles direction the early church had taken subsequent to his death. The fact that they left some unflattering stuff in suggests at some level they were trying to be true to the original gospels.
Some methodological stuff on dicephering out or the possibility of actually knowing the teachings of Jesus. Not much stuff on the gospels per se other than references that they were originally in Greek which means they would have at least have gone through one translation from Aramaic which was the language Galilean jews spoke (from an oral tradition?). Only reference is to Luke being written in Greek in the late 1st century AD, which suggests to me that "Luke" didn't know Jesus. Is Luke one of the original 12 disciples? Are all the gospels suppose to have been written by disciples? Anyway one of the other books I'm going to read is all about the gospels so I'll get the answer there eventually.
Just started the Rise of Christianity which I'm sure I would have been better off if I'd read first. A very big book giving the history of Judaism (briefly) up to the emergence of Christianity and going through the early church until the split between the east and west. In the introduction he does refer to the Gospel of Thomas which was discovered recently and I take it refers to an Aramaic gospel (not sure what language Thomas is in I guess Greek), a heretofore considered impossibility. But I take it the Dead Sea Scrolls or finding any 1st century writings in Palestine was considered an imposibility until their discovery. But I think Thomas may have been a library discovery rather than an archaeological discovery, not sure at this point. Anyway thanks for the intellectual stimulation.

"I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of." Clarence Darrow (American Lawyer)
have you read pagel's "the gnostic gospels?ColnagoFE
Jul 16, 2002 7:34 AM
interesting read...and yes the authors of the gospels are hotly are the books that never made it into some bibles (ie the apocrypha). i wonder how many fundementalist christians even know or care to know the real history of the bible?
No, this is my first foray into this literature...Wayne
Jul 16, 2002 7:48 AM
these are the books the professor recommended:
On Jesus, see Jesus the Jew by Geza Vermes or his Jesus and the World of Judaism (I read the latter but I think I'll get the first as well).
For a highly detailed work on the rise of early Christianity, I highly recommend W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (I just started this one).
You might also enjoy Michael Grant's Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. (Probably read this one next)
I'll keep your recommendation in mind.

"I wonder how many fundementalist christians even know or care to know the real history of the bible?"

Vermes points out that until the middle of the last century or so when real historical research began into the Bible, etc. that most Christians didn't even realize that Jesus was a Jew and that this was apparently a highly contentious issue initially! I've never read the Bible but I would think that at least would be clear in the gospels, no?
No, this is my first foray into this literature...BikeViking
Jul 16, 2002 9:41 AM
I just finished a class on World religion and this thread has sparked that interest again. It's amazing how Christians can pick and choose (THomas and the Apocrypha to start with) what they beileve and don't believe. What if they picked the wrong parts and God is pissed?

The whole scandalous practice of Indulgences (one of the MANY problems Martin Luther had with the Catholics), but the practice was OK because the Pope(s) said so? The corruption never ceases, especially in light of the pederastic priest scandal.

A good religion class should make an agnostic of anyone.
"A good religion class should make an agnostic of anyone"Wayne
Jul 16, 2002 11:03 AM
that all depends. If you suffer under some kind of delusion that your religion is a fact based belief system then yes a world religion class could cause you some concern or you could just think everyone else is wrong and luckily due to the continency of your birth in this place at this time you happened to be born into the right "true" religion. I think the ancients and probably many non-judeo christian religions saw nothing wrong with multiple equally right belief systems. Judaism was unique because it said there's one God and we're his Choosen people, Christianity and Islam adopted that belief. The early Christians and Essenes both believed that Israel proper had broken it's covenent with God and essentially their sects were setting things straight again. Of course Christianity essentially became a gentile religion within a 100 years or so after Jesus when mainstream Jews rejected it, and the Essenes (or the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls if they weren't the Essenes) were wiped out in 68 A.D. (I guess by the Romans although that wasn't clear from what I've read so far).
Seems like though, if your religious convictions are based on faith (as they should be) then no fact could possibly sway you. Faith is in essence the belief in the untestable or unknowable. The problems arises when people want to turn something that should be based on faith into something that they believe is based on historical or scientific facts.
I've personally had a hard time with this oneKristin
Jul 16, 2002 12:06 PM
There are times when life is hard and my faith breaks down and I begin to struggle with my faith. In those times I want to KNOW that God is near to me and that he is good. Sometimes I look for facts to believe. But in those times its better to pause and remember.

I remember when God spoke to me. I remember what He said and how I felt in that moment. I remember the time I got in God's face about smoking. How I told Him that I wasn't interested in quitting and how if HE wanted me to quit, HE'd have to do something about it--because I honestly couldn't. I remember that I never picked up another cigarette and still can't understand why.

I remember the day I wept and asked, "Did you create me just to rub people the wrong way? I make everyone angry." And I remember the words that penetrated my sorrow, "I do not want evil for you, but good." I had never read that verse before (Jer. 29:11).

I can't explain how it is that ALL of the people I've met who I admire--people who are genuinely healthy and mature--have ALL been Christians. I don't strive to be like all Christians; but my greatest role models are Christians. I call them Jesus' inner circle. These are people who shine. They respond eloquently to critism and attack. They know the secrets of how to unruffle feathers. They confound me with their wisdom. Just being around them makes me want to become more than I am. I just can't explain them without faith in God.
now if I ever had God speak to me...ColnagoFE
Jul 16, 2002 12:26 PM
then i might reconsider being an agnostic. i was involved with organized religion (missouri synod lutheran) until i moved out of my parents house and can't recall EVER hearing anything resembling god speaking to me though you can bet i asked plenty of times. i do remember after reading the book "the exorcist" thinking it was only a matter of time before i got possesed by demons and having the bible and church to back up that it might happen. scary stuff for a kid. i remember fear and guilt driving pretty much everything about the church--not love. believe or go to hell. you do that and its a sin--though all you have to do is truly repent before you die to save yourself. maybe that's why i dislike organized religion.
See, even if I heard "God's Voice" in my...Wayne
Jul 17, 2002 3:05 AM
head how would I know it was God and not my mind playing tricks on me? Go to any mental hospital and it's full of schizophrenics who hear voices in their heads. I wonder how many people who have God talk to them are just having a "schizophrenic" episode. If it's possible for someone's brain to go haywire chronically so that they truly believe they hear voices why not temporarily?
I've also had transcendent experiences which I'm sure are the same psychological phenomena that people have when they believe they're being possessed by God or feeling the spirit or rapture or whatever you want to call it. If I have had those experiences without God than what's the likelihood that their experiences are really the result of the intervention of God rather than just a psychological possibility that are brains allow if the right circumstances occur?
The mentally ill are not able to question their realityKristin
Jul 17, 2002 6:10 AM
Schizophrenic's believe everything they experience. The broken part of their brain affects their ability to rationalize and reason. Its more than a delusions, its a broken cognascience. And I believe that psychotic episodes are only brought on by trauma. So, if you hear Gods voice and are able to think critically about it; and have not recently seen a murder, then you're probably not insane. Anyway, why try to understand how you'd respond to something that's never happened to you?

Mine was not a burning bush experience. I will refrain from further details as I believe God spoke to me for my benefit alone. I rarely share about it. That said, I spent years looking critically at it, and even rejected the experience completely for a while. But in the end I return to the same conclusion. It was God. And because it is my experience, I don't really worry too much about what others might think it was or wasn't. Thats between me...and God. But since you don't believe in God, its just me, I guess.
I guess it just depends on how you define "god"ColnagoFE
Jul 17, 2002 6:39 AM
I could say that I just tapped into the "collective unconscious" and got insights that helped me through something and you might say it was God. The problem I have with God is that it connotes the image of a single omnipotent/omnipresent person (and usually male) while I believe god to be more of an enigma. More like a force of the universe. Something sensed and used by a yet unknown sense organ possibly.
So who's to say who's rightKristin
Jul 17, 2002 7:25 AM
Honestly, what you believe you also believe by faith. If you could proove to me that this enigma exists, then perhaps I might be swayed. So can you proove it?
not saying anyone is really right or wrongColnagoFE
Jul 17, 2002 8:00 AM
as you say you can't prove it. then again i don't have a huge problem with not knowing either--that's why i consider myself an agnostic. i think there are a good number of people who believe in a certain brand of organized religion simply because they can't deal with the ambiguity of "not knowing". Not saying you are in that category at all or that there is anything wrong with that way of thinking, but personally I will not have faith in something just because i don't like "not knowing" the answer. maybe someday i'll have a better formed idea of what i belive "god" to be and maybe not.
yeah...agree thereColnagoFE
Jul 17, 2002 6:32 AM
Ever read that book series called "Talking to God" by Neale Welsch I think...interesting read. In my wilder and crazier days I experimented with some mind altering substances and that definately gave me some unique insights.
"A good religion class should make an agnostic of anyone"BikeViking
Jul 17, 2002 6:00 AM
I just don't get it. I have REALLY tried, but to no avail. My wife wanted to start going to church a few years ago and, being curious, I went with her. I sporadically attended a mens Bible study class for 2 1/2 years. I did A LOT of praying while my wife was assigned to Korea for a year with no relief.

Like you said faith is the cornerstone of all religions and I just don't have it. Which raises another vexing question...

Assuming God is real and the Bible is true, Man has free will to choose to believe in Him or not. However, with God being omnipotent and omniscient, He already knew which people would accept Him even before the Creation of the earth, as He knows all of what was, what is and what shall be. If He already knew I would not accept Him, did I have to free will to choose/not choose to believe in Him, even if He knew my "choice" thousands of years before I was born?

My instructor had an explanation that did not penetrate my academic fog, but there seems to be a standard answer within religious circles.

Any thoughts/guidance?

Time and Religion and Physicsjose_Tex_mex
Jul 17, 2002 12:55 PM
When I think of religion I tend to step out of time constraints as I believe time is a dimension just for us. I believe Jesus alluded to this when he said "Before Moses was I am."

Fellow Physicists and myself have debated this one to death as we all love time dilation et al. I think what you are saying is:

1) I have free will.
2) God knows all.
If so then there is predestination, so why is it my fault.

First, we have come to the conclusion that in higher dimensions, #1 and #2 are not mutually exclusive.

Pretend God lives at the edge of a blackhole. You are doing your thing in 3D or 4D (time) free as a bird. However, God can see your entire life in an instant. In God's frame of reference you're dead. In yours, all is well?

Again this is a time thing and borders more on Metaphysics than Physics. We all technically time travel on small scales. Any accelerated reference frame looses time. The Air Force has shown this in supersonic tests. If we can lose time can we then gain it? Is it possible God is able to take our four dimensional world and spin it around like we would a soccer ball to see the outcome.

Finally, here's the kicker. To say that #1 and #2 are mutually exclusive we must conclude and prove that time is linear temporal - it flows in one direction - forward only. We cannot do so. Sure I see my watch ticking and myself getting old but this is not proof of linear temporal time.

Think about it. Life is a series of quantum instants, at some instant - game over. We live in the past - everything we perceive already happened. You cannot be in another's present instant and know it, as you would need to travel faster than the speed of light (in 3D) - can't contradict Einstein. So, we live in the past, the future is merely a construct so what is time??? Is it possible that we move back in time but mistakenly feel it going forward?!

Time is based on the speed of light and inevitably distance comes in (light year = time or distance). A meter is based on a wavelength of krypton light. However, when we move the source of measurement we have length contraction and cannot measure correctly. It would be nice to have two frames of reference (ruler and object) in perfect non motion - but that would contradict Einstein - no can do!

Sorry if I ranted. However, I would have to say that it's all up to you. God may know your outcome in some higher order but this does not negate your free will. I would not worry about the Physics of time, moreso than realize that at each and every quantum instant for the rest of your life you will have choices to make - choose wisely.

God Bless
Time and Religion and PhysicsBikeViking
Jul 18, 2002 7:54 AM
Very interesting reply! It made my brain hurt and will nedd a few more read-throughs for me to get my brain around it.

Ouch - Brain FreezeKristin
Jul 19, 2002 4:23 AM
Wow, that's intrinsic! I hear what your saying...sorta, but I also think that you can resolve this debate with plain, old-fashioned, common sense. Just because God knows the outcome, does that mean he controls it? Most of us have watched children at play and seend them doing something to which we know the outcome. Our experience and wisdom gives us great insight. Are we bound to intervine? Certainly not. We may choose to intervine or not to intervine.

The question of predestination hints at deeper core questions that most people struggle with regarding the existence of a creator. Who is he? Three questions in particular come to my mind...

Assuming there is a God:
1. Is this creator powerful enough to affect an outcome--to intervine?
2. Is this creator good?
3. What does this creator think about me?

More than anything, these are the questions I wrestle with internally as I work out my own faith.
Sorry, I triedKristin
Jul 19, 2002 4:27 AM
too keep references to God as a masculine being out of this post on purpose, but I missed one. Its so common place to refer to God as a "he". My apologies. I really hate to hear when people completly reject the idea that there is a God because they don't want God to be a man. I think that if there is a creator that made all of this and made human beings (male and female) in his own image, then he certainly is neither on or the other.
Commuting can really help the mind...jose_Tex_mex
Jul 19, 2002 3:32 PM
Hi Kristin,
I liked what you said about the kids and indeed have used that analogy myself.
As for all the Physics stuff (which I HOPE I stated correctly) I really have commuting to thank. Out of college I found a job with a fellow Physics major and we commuted every day for a 100 mile round trip. In order to pass the time we started topics as such. These debates would last for days or weeks. It helped the time pass and exercised my brain.
When it comes down to it - it's just a matter of faith for me...
Time and Religion and PhysicsDougSloan
Jul 19, 2002 3:41 PM
If the universe stops expanding and starts contracting again, will everything happen backwards?
Very few sadlyKristin
Jul 16, 2002 9:47 AM
So many Christians just sit in pews and believe what they are taught. I used to believe that I could not understand these things for myself. I had settled in my mind that I must choose to be content accepting what my pastor said. What a farce. I'm only now beginning to research things for myself. But to most people the task seems too overwhelming. Researching Christianity can seriously cut into ones riding time!!!
re: Hey Kristen and anyone else who might care!Kristin
Jul 16, 2002 9:45 AM

Its cool to see you digging into your questions so much and actually doing research. I hate to say it; but most of the agnotices and athiests I've encountered are self-righteous more than anything else. They often feel the need to attack my beliefs instead of investigating their own. I am impressed with your response.

I do apologize, I had promised before to do some research and get back to you, however, I did not do that research. I am in a season of life currently, that has me focused on some pretty weighty internal battles. I should not have said I would do something I knew I did not have time for. I hope you will accept my apology in that.

With regard to religeous belief and faith I will say this. Everyone is on a journey. Some ignorantly cling to a belief and refuse to look for the truth. I believe that life will pass those by. But some have enough courage to seek out reality along the way. I don't claim to have lots of answers. I'm just one searching for the truth.

A good friend did recommend I look into some works by M.T. Wright. He is another expert on the gospels. To answer your question. Books accepted into the new testament had to be written by a disciple of Jesus OR a disciple of one of the 12 apostles. Luke falls into the latter category. There is information from a Catholic site on Luke here:

Another site with information on how the NT Canon was determined and accepted.

Keep in mind that I don't know either of the authors of these sites and have not done any research into them. The Don Closson site is decidedly biased towards Christianity. But you will be hard pressed to find anything that's not biased in any direction. That being the case, read everything critically. Unscrupulous people write all sorts of things, both for and against Christianity.
Some interesting statements...Brooks
Jul 16, 2002 2:36 PM
"most of the agnotices and athiests I've encountered are self-righteous more than anything else. They often feel the need to attack my beliefs instead of investigating their own."
That's too bad. Most religious people I've had discussions with don't investigate their own beliefs. Instead they accept what they are told. Most Christian faiths believe they are the "one, true, faith". Especially true here in Utah.

"Everyone is on a journey. Some ignorantly cling to a belief and refuse to look for the truth. I believe that life will pass those by. But some have enough courage to seek out reality along the way."
I agree. I have found that my reality is away from religion. To me, it is all a construct of man to explain that which they don't understand (particularly 2000 years ago, pre-science). In any event, life will pass us all by (ashes to ashes, dust to dust).

"To answer your question. Books accepted into the new testament had to be written by a disciple of Jesus OR a disciple of one of the 12 apostles."
Really? As the earliest books (scrolls) were written 100-200 years after the life of Jesus, no direct disciples could have written them. That would be like your great-grandfather ( or a further ancestor) passing down an oral history and having you write the scrolls. The names on the Gospels, as I understand it, are somewhat meaningless. And some of the stories, including the birth, are contradictory.

My two cents. I like enjoying the beauty of the Earth and the ability to think and reason, discuss and argue, etc without worrying about what happens when I die. Compost happens! Be kind to each other, we are all passengers on this journey.

Well said...Wayne
Jul 17, 2002 3:21 AM
my understanding of the Gospels is essentially the same as your's (although I don't think it's quite 200 years) but I intend to read up on their history. The first book I read, had a essay or two on the possibility of ever truly knowing the teachings of Jesus and the methodology of how to deduce them.
Basically the guy summed up in two sentences what we can be almost 100% confident is true about Jesus:
He was a Galilean Jew, who in adulthood became a faith-healer, and preached in Galilee to a significant following. In the middle years of Pontius Pilates (26-34 AD ?)governship of Judea he was executed on the cross (essentially for sedition).
After that the probability of knowing historical facts concerning his life and teachings drops off dramatically.
About the books of the biblesKristin
Jul 17, 2002 6:27 AM
"Really? As the earliest books (scrolls) were written 100-200 years after the life of Jesus, no direct disciples could have written them. That would be like your great-grandfather ( or a further ancestor) passing down an oral history and having you write the scrolls. The names on the Gospels, as I understand it, are somewhat meaningless. And some of the stories, including the birth, are contradictory."

These are the earliest manuscripts. There is tons of evidence that these manuscripts were not the original works; but rather translations of original letters from Arameic to Greek. The actual books were penned within two generations of Jesus' death. For instance, one gospel, three letters and Revelations were all written by one of Jesus' disciples, John. He wrote these while exiled on the island of Papros (sp?) for his belief in Jesus. There is a mountianload of evidence to support this. For instance, litterary style. The gospel does not read like a ficticious novel--which it would have been if it were penned in AD 100-200. It is written as a first hand account. Also, times and experiences written about in the book of John are inline with the other gospels and historic events of the time. It is not likely a person writing a ficticious story from scratch in that era, could have enough information to get those right. Doing historical research was not as simple then, as today. There were no libraries.
to each his (or her) ownbianchi boy
Jul 16, 2002 6:10 PM
I have known some truly incredible, nice and humanitarian people in my nearly 50 years. Some of these people (like my mother) have been very religious, others not. Likewise, I have known some truly awful nasty people who purport to be very religious as well as some that are not. My mother was a devout Catholic, my father agnostic. I admired both of them equally. In my case, faith never provided the answers and solace that it seems to give others. I attended Catholic schools through the 8th grade and had enough exposure to religion there to last me a lifetime. I went through a number of years of intense self examination, reviewing my beliefs and finally concluded that religion just didn't provide answers for me -- just confusion. Like you, I asked for guidance or signs, but never received them. Unfortunately, God seems to talk to some of us and not others. I am very comfortable with my agnosticism and do not feel the need to attack the beliefs of Christians or other religious people. Some Christians seem to accept that others have different beliefs and accept that, but many of them seem to believe that everyone who doesn't believe is damned, lost, confused, etc. They seem to assume that everyone who is not Christian has never examined their beliefs. Well, what about all the people (and I count myself as one of them) who have serious examined their beliefs, studied different religions, prayed and asked for guidance -- and finally concluded that religion/Christianity just wasn't the answer? Are we really bad people who should be condemned to hell just because we didn't reach the same conclusion as others? And what about all the truly evil "Christians" who commit horrendous crimes and acts, and yet are forgiven simply because they have "faith"? I don't ask these questions in an attempt to cause any Christian to question their own faith, but to make them realize that there are truly good people in the world who have reached different conclusions about the meaning of life.
What I don't get about agnosticsjose_Tex_mex
Jul 17, 2002 5:39 AM
Before you flame-on, please note I am not trying to be combative, facetious, nor arguementative.

IMHO, and I might be wrong... I see agnostics as basically saying - God is not knowable, therefore I do not believe. In other words - because I cannot know I do not believe.

If this is your rationale okay, just apply it equally through your life. Most agnostics I have met do not do this. They only use this belief when it comes to God. Other things that are not knowable, but with which they are comfortable, are not put under these constraints.

e.g. I cannot know that opposing traffic has the red light - therefore I should not go through the green. I cannot know if my bicycle is a bicyle therefore I shall never ride again. If these examples appear trivial - that's the point. Imagine how much more dangerous it is to take this concept and apply it to God.

Seriously, have you (assuming you all ride) ever looked at your bike and think of all the things that could go wrong while you are riding at 20, 30, or 40mph? Cycling is pure faith in machine and humans. Do we not all have faith that we're not going to be killed by the thousands of cars that pass us?

What can you "know"? Nothing is knowable - ALL is either faith or credulity. Our best scientists and philosophers agree that nothing is knowable. There's a bit of faith in everything.

As for science, I think our best scientists are only beginning to crawl when it comes to what's out there. I think Joe Public only has enough science to be dangerous - reading Scientific American does not a scientist make.

As for the original posting - what's in and what's out is a good question. I tend to read them all - Torah, New Testament, Apocrypha, Qu'ran, Upanashads, et al. Perhaps, I am just covering my bases - I just do not want to miss anything! There's wisdom in many places out there.

I am sure we could assemble Protestant experts to make a case to throw out Maccabees. There would be equal number of Catholic scholars to say no, keep it in. I say, read it, acknowledge, move on.

Just keep the faith.
Jul 17, 2002 6:13 AM
to say something is knowable is really to make a statement that it is probablistically true. All "facts" should have a certain probability attached to them. You can be more or less confident based on evidence, logic, etc. that this or that is true. Yes, your examples are good about people excepting faith as a way of knowing something at some level (perhaps an even better one would be "knowing" that your spouse loves you). Except those are based on real world experiences, that is, I've experienced this a thousand times before and I am confident that I can make an assumption here (is that really faith?), that my bike won't collapse under me, the light is red for crossing traffic, I won't get run-down from behind, while of course recognizing that there is indeed a slight chance that any one of those might not hold up this time!
But then to jump from that to THEREFORE based entirely on faith you should except the existence of God is a different matter. For all of your examples you have experience to rely on, what is the experiential consequence of not excepting God, what experience should one go on to reject or accept a belief in God or any supernatural being?

Hopefully most scientists aren't crawling. But science in many fields may just be scratching the surface of what is knowable. That is a truly scary thought. As it is, even scientists in the same field nowadays may have difficulty appreciating what colleagues working in different areas are doing. Knowledge is becoming so specific because our abilities to "know" things has increased so dramatically since the invention of the scientific method and associated technologic changes.

"A person pursuing a Ph.d. is someone who eventually will know more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about nothing!"
Real World Experiences and a Rant on Physics - be prepared!!jose_Tex_mex
Jul 17, 2002 12:30 PM
As for real world experiences, think about this.
Most of our world can be broken down and considered at the atomic level. Nearly all of the mass of the atom lies in the nucleus yet the volume of the atom is defined by the electron. Suppose we enlarged the nucleus of an atom to the size of a golf ball. The atom would be a sphere of diameter 6 miles. What's between the other shell and the nucleus - nothing. How real is this?

I hear where what you are saying and colloquilly it works. However, saying knowability is probablity is more of a word game. The very nature of probabilty is an unknowable outcome. It goes to predictability which is something I thought agnostics were against.

I hope you do not think I am giving you a hard time - not my intention. You appear sincere in your belief, well thought out, and not out to be combative.

Also, I never said you should accept anything. What I was trying to infer was that if you are going to have a set of beliefs based upon a value system then apply them fairly and equally throughout your life. Don't reserve special treatment for God and passively accept all else. I was hoping you would see that without a little faith life becomes meaningless - whether you realize it or not.

As for experience, I am sure that you believe in George Washington, Agustus Caesar, et al. You do so because of reliable historical documentation - just like I do with the Bible. It helps that I have had many personal experiences. However, if you accept the existence of Caesar than why not Christ? If you accept their existences then why not what they said?

Also, as for proof - there's two ways of looking at that coin: heads - there's none, tails - it's everywhere. Have you ever studied water? If that's not a little miracle what is? What if water (unlike most solid forms of liquids) did not float? Life would never have evolved as the ice would sink, the water would insulate it. Repeat process and liquid water quickly disappears. There are little miracles at every quantum instant. You choose to define them as not miracles then what can I say. Just because science can "kind of" understand it does not negate it being a miracle.

Here's another example. The Universe is becoming more and more disordered (Entropy increases). Thus, disorder is natural to us. One second ago things were more ordered. A decade ago even more ordered and so on. Eventually, we get back to the big bang where, perhaps, before time things were perfectly ordered (un-natural). So we go from an un-natural process to a natural process - oooooh sounds like there was a little supernatural help. Or we could just say big bang and let the Physics geeks play. Miracle or science?

One could easily throw the onus onto scientists and say define life or create life - no can do. How about - what's energy (don't tell me what it does!), where does it come from? At the very basis of science and math are primitive concepts IF you take my word that F=ma then we can put a rocket on the moon. What if I don't? We get nowhere. Having a little faith can literally take you out of this world :-)

As for moi, there's two things in my life - faith and credulity. When I go through a light experience tells me that people will stop. However, my credulity (ie blind faith) and a little stubborness helps me get through the intersection. In reality we cannot even prove that the light is green. I could destroy any arguement based on visual data saying that the light was green.

Please pardon the rant. I just think it's worth considering.

Best of Luck
You can't escape languageColnagoFE
Jul 18, 2002 8:30 AM
I mean if you threw a chair into the middle of some Bornean jungle would it still be a chair? Like that movie "The God's must be Crazy" where an errantly thrown bottle becomes an object of wonder for the trible living there that never knew it was a "Coke bottle".
Language is a constraint, but it's the best we have, currentlyjose_Tex_mex
Jul 18, 2002 9:57 AM
True, language is an awful constraint yet one of the best forms of liberation we have. Indeed, just from posting on this board I often find myself saying things would be so much easier to say rather than type.

This arguement reminds me of the old saying - "nothing is absolute." Is that absolute? Kind of like circular logic.

However, given our limited diction (I believe we use on average only 3000 words in any language!) science still shows that knowing is not infallible - there's a bit the unknown in everything.

Perhaps, someday we will figure out what the other 95% of our brains are supposed to do...
maybe that other 95% is god? (nm)ColnagoFE
Jul 18, 2002 12:45 PM
who knows? :-)jose_Tex_mex
Jul 18, 2002 3:57 PM
See you're an agnostic afterall ! (nm)Wayne
Jul 19, 2002 3:16 AM
Do I get a membership or discount card??? :-)jose_Tex_mex
Jul 19, 2002 3:36 PM
I was wondering where you were Wayne.
Good to hear from you.
Jul 17, 2002 8:33 AM
"What can you "know"? Nothing is knowable - ALL is either faith or credulity. Our best scientists and philosophers agree that nothing is knowable. There's a bit of faith in everything."

How do you know that?
Jul 19, 2002 3:41 PM
That's the problem with diction. It's kind of like the old saying "nothing is absolute" - is this absolute?

I could ofcourse throw the onus back to yourself ask for definitions. However, we would just be chasing our tails.

Perhaps, the point here is that this isn't a discussion that is to be won or lost via verbal communications. Maybe it's a journey we need to take in and of ourselves...

BTW - Give Bush a break, it's not his fault he's President!
Jul 22, 2002 1:11 AM
You're right, we would. I have a degree in "tail chasing" (or philoposhy, as it's often known), so I know from long bitter experience how never-ending it all is.

I'm not giving Bush a hard time - if he can't take a joke, he shouldn't have joined, that's all. I don't dislike Bush anymore than I dislike most politicans (actually though that's quite a lot), I just think that they are a great source of amusement, and as long as no-one takes them too seriously (this is where Bush has an advantage), then they are not too bothersome. My general view of him and the rest of them can be summed in the phrase "is this really the best we can do?"

You have to see all this in the context of someone living in the UK. Politics here is risible - only about 1/2 those eligible even turned out to vote last election. Scandall and corruption are rife (aspecially at local level), the victory of presentation over content is all but total, and the general standard of politicans is as poor as the media who cover them. Only the most fanatical actually care about politics, or would consider being politicians. There is a major campaign of concern here at the moment aimes at working out how young people can be encouraged to participate in the system. Out of those 1/2 who did vote at the last election, a hugely disproportionate number were 40+, the younger population largely just feel that they have no real power to change anything, and that most politicans are just low-life. Of course, the fact that the UK is cedeing power to unelected Eurocrats in Brussells at a staggering rate of knots isn't helping much either....

So, when you are looking at it from that viewpoint, politics and poiliticans are about as important as the result of the Sumatran National Open Golf Championships, but without the excitement.

BTW - did they ever figure out whose fault it actaully was that Bush is president?