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Can the belief of the existence of a supreme being ever be proved?
Yes 9%  9%  [ 6 ]
No 29%  29%  [ 20 ]
Of course, I am the living proof! 1%  1%  [ 1 ]
Only if Invisible Pink Unicorns can also be proved 20%  20%  [ 14 ]
Look around you! the evidence of an intelligent designer 6%  6%  [ 4 ]
God is the universe and the universe is God 10%  10%  [ 7 ]
AG is a strident semi-god 6%  6%  [ 4 ]
I can't say, perhaps tomorrow we can prove it 1%  1%  [ 1 ]
I am not sure 10%  10%  [ 7 ]
All of the above 1%  1%  [ 1 ]
None of the above 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Half of the above 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
other 1%  1%  [ 1 ]
View results 6%  6%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 70

AngelRho
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24 Jun 2010, 9:57 am

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What is most amusing is the concept that a person that behaves responsibly and with consideration for all others because he or she believes that is what makes a good society is totally condemned because the motive is made with logic and understanding and the powers of an excellent mind. If it is not done as a rote procedure out of fear or love of God it has no value whatsoever and the use or lack of intellect is irrelevant. One is not permitted to examine God's motives or, in all probability, wonder about them. A good Christian is an organic wind-up toy programed by God that has the possibility of malfunctioning but that means it must be tortured forever for that malfunction. And this is accepted as a sane concept.


There is nothing inherently wrong with decisions made based on logic and understanding, and certainly nothing wrong with excellent minds. I think that God is a logical being and built logic into everything He created. Whether one has logic or an excellent mind on his side is irrelevant.

In a way, all motives can be said to be selfish motives. For example, the act of placing faith in Christ for one Christian might initially be for his or her "fire insurance." It's being prepared against the afterlife, which has no concern for others. But a non-believer might say that he or she is motivated by concern for others. There is nothing "wrong" with that because we all, for the most part, have some kind of innate or learned sense of duty to do what is right. It's just that an unbeliever can only say that the motives are his or her own and that's pretty much the end of the story. You can SAY you have nothing to gain or that you aren't asking for any reward, but what you HAVE done is satisfied some kind of inward ideal. Beyond that, you aren't really participating in any kind of greater plan. We might as well all grow old and become curmudgeons because point of all our effort amounts really to nothing.

Incidentally, in my reading I've made it through the Proverbs and am working through Ecclesiastes. So if you detect a somewhat negative tone in my last paragraph, it might be due to that influence!

The opposite, acting in accordance with God-given motives doesn't mean you lose the selfish aspect of your motivations. It simply means that those good things you do are part of a willing heart that shares in God's greater plan. Because we love God, we also love people. John 3:16 starts out "God so loved the world..." I think if God loves the world, then certainly He cares about what is good "for society." So why SHOULDN'T we try to make society better? Why SHOULDN'T we want to be good people? Obviously we have a desire to be good and do good. The difference for the Christian is that the willing desire to do good is a vision that is shared with God. To do good otherwise really serves no purpose in the final accounting. For the unbeliever, there is no amount of good that is "good enough." That goes for ALL religions. This is not meant as an attack, but something I find fascinating about Islam is that only the top Moslems who have been good are even going to make it into the eternity club. If God is truly so impersonal, how are you ever going to know? I mean, if you have all these other people in line who, no matter how hard you try, you can't "out-good" them, then why bother even trying? The beauty of Christian morality (when it's actually practiced) is that it doesn't assume that any amount of good CAN get you into Heaven ("For all have sinned..."). Faith is the key that unlocks the door. Doing good deeds and being a caring individual is simply acknowledgment of what God's been telling you all along, something we all know on some level whether we are believers or not.

It makes me sad, Sand, that the only part of what I wrote before is that somehow being a good person is a BAD thing. And it is not true that one is not permitted to examine God's motives or wonder about them. Christians wonder about God's motives all the time and individually have varying degrees of understanding or ability to understand. I take comfort in trusting that God Himself knows what He's doing, and I've been relatively safe in my life so far. I have no idea what you mean that a good Christian must be tortured forever for a malfunction. You'll have to be more clear on what you mean by that. All believers are given the promise of comfort in the afterlife. One who merely "loses his mind" from dementia of old age or illness can't rightfully be held accountable. For a Biblical example, look at Job. He never sinned by taking the advice of those who said "curse God and die." Pleading with God to ease his suffering is completely acceptable. Complaining to God and expressing his feelings of abandonment are likewise perfectly acceptable considering the circumstances.



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24 Jun 2010, 10:54 am

AngelRho wrote:
There are those churches that put forth predestination, such the Presbyterians and Methodists. What's interesting to me is that in contemporary times the idea of predestination is downplayed, i.e. it doesn't really form a significant portion of doctrine in practice. There are a few within those circles that cling to the idea of predestination, but for the most part it seems to be a tradition for tradition's sake.

Hold ON!! ! You think the Methodists are predestination????????????

Look, that might be one sect based upon a friend of John Wesley, but Methodists tend to have a VERY STRONG Arminian tradition, even having some early open-theists among their number.

Actually, a solid number of Calvinists exist, and a lot are open about this. Calvinism has been well-noted for having a recent resurgence with tons of Calvinists pouring forward, so your comment on "tradition for tradition's sake" seems ignorant to me. I can even grant links on the resurgence, as this is recognized both in religious circles and even non-religious circles.

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But that God has picked and chosen from the foundation of the world who gets in and who doesn't just makes no sense. It's really only the epistle writers (Paul) that make a big deal about "the elect." "The elect" ARE those who were chosen from the beginning of the world, but you have to think about who they are. To say that God just threw several billion names in a hat, drew from it, and henceforth closed the door is just wrong.

Calvinism does make some sense, and the early Reformers were big into God's choice, as noted from John Calvin himself, and Martin Luther's "Bondage of the Will".

Now, you are right, the hat view makes no sense. However, I don't think that addresses Techstepgenr8tion's problem. Even further, Calvinism is a theology about the meanings of scripture, and as such it also has a good number of Old Testament foundations, and other things. Also, given that Paul wrote about half of NT scripture "just Paul" isn't a good rebuttal anyway.

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"The elect" can't be just these over here or just these over there, because, again, that violates the principle that salvation is available for EVERYONE.

And here you are blundering into a major exegetical issue between Arminians and Calvinists. The issue is that Calvinists believe that while God offers to all, only the elect CAN accept. You have to recognize that Calvinism is a theology about how people can be saved in the first place, and the Calvinist says that only those God chooses will ever be able to fully desire God to the necessary extent to begin salvific effort(as in only they can select God above their own sin), and this ability is granted by God himself. Calvinists reject Arminian synergism in which God comes to man to offer him salvation, and then man can accept God's offer or reject it.

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It also introduces another problem: The idea that unrepentant sinners belong in the kingdom of Heaven. How fair is it for someone to keep the faith and, believing it is in God's will to do so, does good for himself, his family, his friends, and others only to find out at the end believing and accepting Jesus' sacrifice and thus being Christ-like in action was not enough simply because his name didn't come up? Is it really fair to be a believer and do good things and be rejected from God's presence only because you were screwed from the beginning?

Now, you are just ignorant of Calvinist theology. Calvinists believe that in order to really keep the faith, you have to be chosen. They hold that the good works and solid faith needed to be saved are God-granted gifts resulting from influence by the Holy Spirit. So, the "unrepentant sinner being unjustly saved" and the "faithful man not on the list" aren't actual issues within Calvinist theology. They're strawmen created by a person who doesn't know anything about the theology.

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Remember, a perfect and all-powerful God is also perfect in justice and mercy. Predestination in the sense that God has a set number for specific individual who, on no account of their faith, are specially reserved for Heaven is NOT just, NOT merciful, and NOT reflective of a perfect, all-powerful God. Therefore, it MUST be false.

God, seeing that nobody could have sufficient faith on their own, came down to save the few that he chooses. And so, the Calvinist rebuttal is simple:
Why are you saying that it is wrong that some people get to go to heaven? Would you prefer that God had all of the sinners, every single person on this earth, burn forever?

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Along those lines, consider this: If it really doesn't matter--either God has selected you for redemption or condemnation without regard to faith--then why bother coming to faith at all? Why not just live life based on your everyday whims, get drunk, stay high, don't get a job, don't care for your family, eat whatever you want and how much of it you want, and hang out with prostitutes? What does it matter if you make good decisions or not? Just live the life you want because it's the only one you're going to get. You MIGHT have an afterlife, or you MIGHT rot in Hell. It's a tossup anyway.

Ahem, strawman, Calvinism says that being saved will include being brought to faith by the Holy Spirit. They hold that salvation includes faith, and that faith causes good works.

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Except the Bible doesn't say that.

Neither does Calvinism for that matter.

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The Bible calls all Christians to live a life according to the example set by Christ. We believe it, therefore we live it. And because of that kind of life, we want to do good things and see others come into the faith. James wrote "Faith without works is dead," which means that the best indicator for knowing someone is truly a believer in Christ is how they act. Now, true, not EVERYONE who does good things is a believer. If a good deed is not done in the name of Jesus (meaning an outward expression of faith and attempting to live a life according to the will of God), then it is done for some selfish motive--even if that motive is personal gratification or you think it's "just the right thing to do." Believers who do good things (not all do, but see the above quote from James) do so because they recognize the value of others in God's eyes and seek the best benefit of all as a result of their faith. That's why you have so many Heaven-bound Christians who, for various reasons such as personal crises, immature faith, and so on, don't have much more in Christ than fire insurance. Likewise, you have a lot of "good people" that lack the only thing that really matters: acceptance of God's mercy through the atonement of Jesus.

Ok, I don't think that Calvinists reject anything you've just said.

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Those people, "the elect," are those people in a broad sense that God has chosen from the foundation of the world. It is a general statement, not a specific statement--all those in the past who walked in faith will have a share in God's kingdom along with those after Christ who place their faith in the Son of God. And because Jesus' gift of salvation is free to anyone willing to believe, than anyone willing to believe may count themselves as members of "the elect." The only predestination there can be is that those who come to faith, which could be anyone, are the ones that will be set apart for Heaven.

And Calvinists say "nobody will come to believe due to their spiritual depravity, unless God selects them to believe".

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Free will is more of an extra-Biblical philosophical debate, and arguments one way or the other don't really go anywhere. It really doesn't matter which side you take, you still have the choice of whether to believe or not. Those who argue in favor of predestination are really arguing a philosophical point--if God knows everything, then He knows already who will make the choice. Okay, but by saying that God knows EVERYTHING, it means He also knows all the possibilities. He knows every path you CAN take and will try everything that does not violate free will nor His own nature to convince you to take the path of salvation. He knows all the times and places when and at which He will, in a sense, cross paths with you, and He knows whether there is a "point of no return" as well as when and if you will ever pass that point. All have an opportunity to make that choice. It is NOT something for you personally that God set out to do from the beginning.

Well, even under Arminianism, people are generally considered to only have a choice if God offers it, not independently.

AngelRho, most theologians are not open theists, and open theism is the only theology that upholds "all the possibilities". Standard Arminianism says that God knows everything that will happen. Molinism says that God knows everything that will happen. Open theism says "possibilities" and frankly, there is an ongoing scriptural debate surrounding Open theism's claims like that, mostly about what OT scriptures mean on the matter, as well as a few NT scriptures.

In any case though, AngelRho, learn theology rather than spouting out nonsense about positions you've never actually studied.



AngelRho
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24 Jun 2010, 11:40 am

You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.



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24 Jun 2010, 11:41 am

AngelRho wrote:
You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.

I am glad that you are so intellectually deep.



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24 Jun 2010, 1:29 pm

AngelRho wrote:
You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.


This is what I really hate about free will pop Christianity. The raw and wilful ignorance of it all.



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24 Jun 2010, 1:36 pm

Master_Pedant wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.


This is what I really hate about free will pop Christianity. The raw and wilful ignorance of it all.


To an extent, having knowledge of what ancient, medieval, and reformation theologian thought is beneficial, however it boils down to being just another form of Rabbinicism. What techstepgener8tion is doing is what I consider ideal: studying for oneself. The thoughts of past scholars can be useful if used correctly, but not to be used as a source of blind memorization though.



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24 Jun 2010, 1:36 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:

AngelRho, most theologians are not open theists, and open theism is the only theology that upholds "all the possibilities". Standard Arminianism says that God knows everything that will happen. Molinism says that God knows everything that will happen. Open theism says "possibilities" and frankly, there is an ongoing scriptural debate surrounding Open theism's claims like that, mostly about what OT scriptures mean on the matter, as well as a few NT scriptures.


Yet must of the faithful in even the most fundamentalist sects of Christianity (as AngelRho elegantly demonstrates by his prescence) are some sort of metaphysical libertarian. A lot of polemics against atheistic naturalism depedent on its deterministic quality obscuring free will.

So this just goes to show how peripheral the influence of most theologians really is on the flock.



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24 Jun 2010, 1:43 pm

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Can the belief of the existence of a supreme being ever be proved?


Not really and that's why the inquisition was so ineffective. I could go around all day saying I believe in a supreme being but it'd just be me lying.


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Awesomelyglorious
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24 Jun 2010, 1:59 pm

Master_Pedant wrote:
Yet must of the faithful in even the most fundamentalist sects of Christianity (as AngelRho elegantly demonstrates by his prescence) are some sort of metaphysical libertarian. A lot of polemics against atheistic naturalism depedent on its deterministic quality obscuring free will.

So this just goes to show how peripheral the influence of most theologians really is on the flock.

Well, you see, the weird thing is that most theologians actually hold that God knows the future completely AND that metaphysical libertarianism is true.

I mean, you are right though that theologians don't influence the flock that much given the emergence of these ideas, and blatant theological errors. (I mean, seriously, like thinking Methodism is Calvinist???? Dude..... like, the Baptists are a lot more Calvinist than the Methodists. The Methodists are one of the most noted Arminian denominations, and I think the Calvinist branch of Methodist is only really in Europe anyway, so the mistake makes like no sense.... as Methodists being that they have both Arminians and open theists [and even the Calvinist branch] are probably one of the most open on the overall question anyway)



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24 Jun 2010, 2:05 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Master_Pedant wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.


This is what I really hate about free will pop Christianity. The raw and wilful ignorance of it all.


To an extent, having knowledge of what ancient, medieval, and reformation theologian thought is beneficial, however it boils down to being just another form of Rabbinicism. What techstepgener8tion is doing is what I consider ideal: studying for oneself. The thoughts of past scholars can be useful if used correctly, but not to be used as a source of blind memorization though.

Hmm.... actually I tend to disagree. Using the existing frameworks and past debates is actually the quickest way to becoming proficient with a material, particularly in seeing how these frameworks can diverge tremendously. Obviously some familiarity with the source material is good, but it isn't all equal.



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24 Jun 2010, 2:07 pm

Master_Pedant wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.


This is what I really hate about free will pop Christianity. The raw and wilful ignorance of it all.

I can understand that. I mean.... heck, I once actually tried to start a conversation about what I thought was a potential SOLUTION to the Euthyphro problem, and in trying to get the issue up, people said stuff like "I'm glad I am not an atheist, that position requires too much intellectualism" or some such. ... I mean... what???? Then I was attacked for trying to reduce everything to reason or some such.... so yeah.....



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24 Jun 2010, 2:21 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Master_Pedant wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
You go on thinking that AG. I don't care one iota what Calvin says. I care about what the Bible says. I don't need some dead European to tell me how to think. God is alive and well.


This is what I really hate about free will pop Christianity. The raw and wilful ignorance of it all.


To an extent, having knowledge of what ancient, medieval, and reformation theologian thought is beneficial, however it boils down to being just another form of Rabbinicism. What techstepgener8tion is doing is what I consider ideal: studying for oneself. The thoughts of past scholars can be useful if used correctly, but not to be used as a source of blind memorization though.

Hmm.... actually I tend to disagree. Using the existing frameworks and past debates is actually the quickest way to becoming proficient with a material, particularly in seeing how these frameworks can diverge tremendously. Obviously some familiarity with the source material is good, but it isn't all equal.


Knowing the source material prior to engrossing oneself in the conclusions of others on the matter allows for better understanding of the conclusions of others if not also seeing where they are right and where they are wrong.



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24 Jun 2010, 2:25 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Knowing the source material prior to engrossing oneself in the conclusions of others on the matter allows for better understanding of the conclusions of others if not also seeing where they are right and where they went wrong.

I strongly disagree. Engaging a source material without some idea on how to engage it or organize one's insights about it ends up being more confusing than enlightening. Knowing the various historical positions and debates instead will provide a better understanding of the conclusions as you both see the conclusion, the opposition, and the historical emergence of a particular conclusion. Most long-standing debates reach a level where the source-material is analyzed in a manner that is impossible to understand without knowledge of the history involved, or even without knowledge of intellectual methods and disciplines.



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24 Jun 2010, 3:11 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Knowing the source material prior to engrossing oneself in the conclusions of others on the matter allows for better understanding of the conclusions of others if not also seeing where they are right and where they went wrong.

I strongly disagree. Engaging a source material without some idea on how to engage it or organize one's insights about it ends up being more confusing than enlightening. Knowing the various historical positions and debates instead will provide a better understanding of the conclusions as you both see the conclusion, the opposition, and the historical emergence of a particular conclusion. Most long-standing debates reach a level where the source-material is analyzed in a manner that is impossible to understand without knowledge of the history involved, or even without knowledge of intellectual methods and disciplines.


And I disagree strongly with you also, but nonetheless I see the matter as this: starting with the debates and conclusions of later times without knowledge of the source material colors ones interpretation of the source material so as to better form-fit one's opinions to that of the later debates and conclusions.



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24 Jun 2010, 3:38 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
And I disagree strongly with you also, but nonetheless I see the matter as this: starting with the debates and conclusions of later times without knowledge of the source material colors ones interpretation of the source material so as to better form-fit one's opinions to that of the later debates and conclusions.

Perspectives are ALWAYS colored though, as the very notion of the "objective" perspective is somewhat questionable given that even having a perspective requires an organization of information in which none can really be called the "objective" organization of information (unless one is going to refer to Platonic essences or some such). Would you advocate doing geology by counting rocks? Any information that is useful is information that is either in support, or in opposition to a theory. Perhaps searching the source for a starting point for a theory is helpful, but the most important thing at all points in time is to develop a theory and then continually test other opposing theories or analyze their objections to one's own theory. That's it. And a rejection of the naive perception is pretty old at this point.



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24 Jun 2010, 4:33 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
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It also introduces another problem: The idea that unrepentant sinners belong in the kingdom of Heaven. How fair is it for someone to keep the faith and, believing it is in God's will to do so, does good for himself, his family, his friends, and others only to find out at the end believing and accepting Jesus' sacrifice and thus being Christ-like in action was not enough simply because his name didn't come up? Is it really fair to be a believer and do good things and be rejected from God's presence only because you were screwed from the beginning?

Now, you are just ignorant of Calvinist theology. Calvinists believe that in order to really keep the faith, you have to be chosen. They hold that the good works and solid faith needed to be saved are God-granted gifts resulting from influence by the Holy Spirit. So, the "unrepentant sinner being unjustly saved" and the "faithful man not on the list" aren't actual issues within Calvinist theology. They're strawmen created by a person who doesn't know anything about the theology.

well, anyhow Christians who reject ideas from Calvinism are generally because their ideas don't conform to their own ideas, even if some have a poor understanding of it, because it still causes conflict in the end, their basic idea is that God wants everyone to be saved and not just having selected a few before creation, and that seems to be enough for them, wether how that actually works.

And the notion that that conflicts with the idea of Christ's sacrifice, as it would be pointless for him to die on the cross being that the case, as I believe they can generally say that Christ's sacrifice was for the sake of humankind salvation, an equal oportunity.

The issue about the ones who are faithful and serve God are the ones who were previously selected is still unfair though, it is still undonditional election, and frankly, I personally don't see much of a purpose for a person to be born in the first place, if that person is doomed for eternal damnation, that seems to make God a seriously evil god, from my perspective.


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