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Ignoring the unnecessary theological overlay in your piece, the argument that it is impossible to make a huge personal sacrifice or risk for the benefit of another human unless one has already made previous small sacrifices is refutable by plenty of experiential evidence. There are many recorded instances of previously very selfish, if not outright criminal people who have in a moment of choice 'redeemed' themselves through an act of what you call heroism (and I'll call altruism). You might even find a couple in your book of Middle Eaatern fairytales if you look closely. Granted someone who has a previous pattern of altruistic behaviour is more logically likely to continue to altruistic, but there again history is replete with recordings of the 'fallen' (deliberate theistic reference), which means they can go either way. To me the choice betwen couragous self sacrifice, inaction or cowardice is a unique decision within each moment of opportunity and I agree that many, if not all of those moments will be a long lasting descriptor of an individual's life and legacy as a human being.
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2014 on How to Become a Hero at Stand to Reason Blog
Thanks for the reasoned responses. I'll close with a point which I don't think I emphasised enough previously. Historical recording or 'accepted history' is somewhat less independent and objective than the scientific method, not least because historical research and/or recording is so dependent on the obvserver's skills rather than a 'cold' reliance on data. To illustrate, if all historical records consisted only of unedited video/audio recordings of events, I'd argue we would have a much more objective picture of what occurred. I appreciate your admission that any thiest must be distinguishing between 'true' and 'false' theophanies. The question indeed is how?
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2014 on A Reverent Scientist at Stand to Reason Blog
@DGFischer even though I didn't post the statement about science and history, I'll reply to your question in the same spirit it was raised. Your statement appears to postulate history and theophanies as essentially the same condition/experience. I propose that history (meaning to me, physical events that occurred at any time prior to the present) is a much wider (but I agree, less than purely objective or 'scientific') description of everything and anything occurring in the universe, whether any individual witnesses or accepts it as occurring or not. Whereas a theophany is a very specific event (so specific that they occur once every 2000 years or so) generally witnessed or experienced by a single individual or very small group (of followers). Using your example of the 'scientific' evidence for the Battle of Waterloo; we have i) the event is alleged to have involved directly over 100,000 soldiers. Add their families, neighbours, non-fighting superiors and friends and you get more than a million. ii) the event does not posit nor require acceptance of any supernatural cause or effect. iii) to my knowledge the event has never been denied by any significant person or group. iv) whilst I don't know personally, it is entirely probable that the decendents of participants in the battle have an unbroken oral and/or documentary record. v) again, not knowing personally, but the results of the battle itself on the subsequent geopolitical timeline provide very convincing evidence of it having occurred (i.e. they don't speak French in England). Is it possible that it never occurred? To the same level of evidenciary proof that it is also possible for the Americans not to have landed on the moon in 1969, yes. Now let's look at a theophany; i) the event allegedly witnessed by no more than a few people, usually just one. ii) the event is entirely dependent on acceptance of supernatural causes. iii) millions of people, including some of the most intelligent on earth, openly refuse to accept it occurred. iv) No oral or documented evidence from direct descendants, and usually no evidence of any direct descendants. v)No subsequent changes in geo-politics from the event itself e.g. no records of a God wiping out 100,000+ Egyptians. However the historical records do evidence growth of subsequent 'organisations' promoting (2nd, 3rd, etc, hand) allegations of the event, resulting in them being assumed as part of the State apparatus for control of the underclass and imperialist expansion across the globe. Is it possible for a theophany to have occurred? To the same evidenciary extent that an individual will accept that the Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods (and every other God) also exist and their theophanies also occurred, yes. I hope I have sufficiently illustrated the difference between history and theophanies such that at a minimum you can agree they are vastly different.
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2014 on A Reverent Scientist at Stand to Reason Blog
@netprophet Thank you for perfectly illustrating my previous argument. Furthermore, what makes you think that humans are somehow entitled to a 'unified understanding' of everything? Wouldn't that be your God's domain alone? Nonetheless, so far as humans have been able to make progress (as in 'progressive') towards understanding the universe, it hasn't been through any assistance from religion, much less those like Christianity who have actively sought to supress the truth. If it were up to the theists, the sun would still revolve around the earth (which would be flat)and 99% of us would be illiterate. They're still going today with their political activism against the large hadron collider experiments into the 'God particle', stem cell research and practically anything else that removes any more layer of superstitition of how the universe works. Gods only exist in the unknown. The more humanity knows of its own universe, the less they need to make up myths of how it works. That's historically evidenced fact, and what you are all so worried about happening in Britain and other educationally advanced nations.
Always amusing to see the fairytale believers quoting old scientists in a desperate attempt to lend their delusions credibility. Lord Kelvin actually demonstrates his own departure from the scientific method when he states "We only know God in His works, but we are forced by science to admit and to believe with absolute confidence in a Directive Power – in an influence other than physical, or dynamical, or electrical forces". We are forced by science?? Upon what proven hypothesis? Upon what empirical evidence does he base his argument of a directive power? The undeniable historic fact is that in 2000+ years no evidenciary proof of the existance of any God (defined here as an independent intelligent directive force which created the universe and which continues to act supernaturally upon and within it) has been produced by anyone, scientist or not. Writings by ancient Jews (or more accurately Romans), don't count as evidence any more than L. Ron Hubbard's writings do. Hallucinations of individuals don't count as I can get those by taking drugs or overheating my brain (a practice of Native Americans). So I'm afraid the mental delusions of Lord Kelvin don't lend any more scientific credibility to your fairy tales than the argument that science can't prove a supernatural negative (funny that).
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2014 on A Reverent Scientist at Stand to Reason Blog
@JBerr "the only place where Christianity is not growing by conversion is the USA"... Now who's not worrying about the facts. The whole premise of the article was how Christianity was declining in Britain which entirely refutes your statement, but here is another fact for you. Australian Census Data 2006 & 2011 % of population per religion Catholic 2006 25.8% 2011 25.3% Anglican 2006 18.7% 2011 17.1% Uniting 2006 5.7% 2011 5% Presbyterian & Reformed 2006 3% 2011 2.8% No Religion 2006 18.7% 2011 22.3% So the actual data shows that over 5 years in Australia the net effect was people turning away from Christianity to no religion (the other formal religions in Australia don't even register 3% each). Now if Australian adults were converting to Christianity "at exponential rates" you would expect to see the opposite occur. I believe if you check the UK and Canadian census data you'd find the same trends.
When was Christianity most popular in Britain? When the Church held sway over education (from the dark ages to the 1960's). The secularisation of education has killed off Christianity in Britain (Australia and Canada too,) which also explains why it continues to hold sway in many parts of the USA, where the religious right can still determine what can be taught in science classes. Very few adults convert to any religion. It is the coercive induction of children into your 'faith' which keeps it alive. Just look to the Muslims. They produce more followers these days than the old Catholics used to.
Of course religious faith isn't delusional. Just ask the Scientologists ! Or is what you really mean to assert is that only Christian faith cannot be delusional?
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