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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

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28 Jul 2010, 5:42 am

The Lord is a shoving leopard.


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28 Jul 2010, 9:35 am

"We Reached the Mountains and Saw no Gods. We Reached the Sky and Saw no Angels. We Reached Space and Saw no Higher Power. We Will reach the End of the Universe and find only Blackness."



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28 Jul 2010, 10:57 am

Bethie wrote:
"We Reached the Mountains and Saw no Gods. We Reached the Sky and Saw no Angels. We Reached Space and Saw no Higher Power. We Will reach the End of the Universe and find only Blackness."


If the universe is folded back on itself we may indeed reach what we think is the end of the universe and find ourselves staring into our own black assholes.



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28 Jul 2010, 10:57 am

Bethie wrote:
"We Reached the Mountains and Saw no Gods. We Reached the Sky and Saw no Angels. We Reached Space and Saw no Higher Power. We Will reach the End of the Universe and find only Blackness."

Interesting quote.

I think the bigger issue though, people are very closed-minded on just what it is they're looking for. We have a certain sense of the natural world and universe but a very odd and fanciful sense of the notion of spirits, angels, and deities - ie. what they'd look like, what the signs of their activities would look like. While I'm not in the business of telling people what to think my own opinion on this is just that, if the natural framework we see has any extra-dimensional underpinnings we would need to think of those underpinnings within the framework of the universe that we realistically experience and then perhaps tailor back images of winged beings playing harps on clouds or old white men on thrones staring down from the sky. Science takes having an adaptive imagination, spirituality IMO is little different in that regard.



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28 Jul 2010, 6:32 pm

In the strictest scientific sense, we can never prove anything, let alone the existence of God. We can only establish hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical evidence to the contrary. The elimination of all other options or explanations establishes the 'best possible explanation' as scientifically accepted as 'truth'--until a better Theory comes along to explain the phenomena.

Once, the Earth was thought to be the center of the Universe, then anomalies observed in the paths of the planets ruled this explanation out. People like Copernicus and Galileo were excommunicated and shunned for coming up with a better explanation. Their observations falsified the hypothesis that everything revolved around us, and better fit a sun-centered Universe. Better observation methods have expanded this world view to our sun being one among a multitude, and our view of what the Universe actually is can only be blunted by our inability to observe it. Still, it is always the falsification of past assumptions that has us looking for the better truth--knowing full well it may not be the full story either.

In order to come to any scientific conclusion about God, we have to build the test in such a way that the hypothesis can be falsified. In other words, to prove that God exists, we would need to falsify the assertion that God does NOT exist. Not all hypotheses are testable, establishing the existence of God is a prime example of one of those.

Even if we could manage a falsifiable position, we would also need to have a means of measuring results. Anyone know of a scale that measures souls? An image rendering device that captures angels or demons or the hand of God? An empirical means of establishing the CAUSE of the big bang? WHY evolution started in the first place?

The existence of God cannot be disproved, nor can it be proved. However, I think that is a pity. I think there are plenty of entrenched religious types who prefer to narrowly define that-which-cannot-be-comprehended, and refuse to alter or expand their world views even when evidence is presented to the contrary. It's a shame Galileo had to burn in hell for 500 years before the Catholic Church forgave him for following the scientific method.


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Last edited by pandorazmtbox on 28 Jul 2010, 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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28 Jul 2010, 7:57 pm

pandorazmtbox wrote:
In the strictest scientific sense, we can never prove anything, let alone the existence of God. We can only establish hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical evidence to the contrary. The elimination of all other options or explanations establishes the 'best possible explanation' as scientifically accepted as 'truth'--until a better Theory comes along to explain the phenomena.



Neither the existence nor the non-existence of God be settled empirically. Hence the issue is bogus.

ruveyn



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28 Jul 2010, 8:23 pm

ruveyn wrote:
pandorazmtbox wrote:
In the strictest scientific sense, we can never prove anything, let alone the existence of God. We can only establish hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical evidence to the contrary. The elimination of all other options or explanations establishes the 'best possible explanation' as scientifically accepted as 'truth'--until a better Theory comes along to explain the phenomena.



Neither the existence nor the non-existence of God be settled empirically. Hence the issue is bogus.

ruveyn


Not quite clear on your point. Is that a reply to me or to the thread question? It seems like the latter, but then you started by quoting me and I noticed that you participated in the thread previously...so...please clarify.


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28 Jul 2010, 8:51 pm

pandorazmtbox wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
pandorazmtbox wrote:
In the strictest scientific sense, we can never prove anything, let alone the existence of God. We can only establish hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical evidence to the contrary. The elimination of all other options or explanations establishes the 'best possible explanation' as scientifically accepted as 'truth'--until a better Theory comes along to explain the phenomena.



Neither the existence nor the non-existence of God be settled empirically. Hence the issue is bogus.

ruveyn


Not quite clear on your point. Is that a reply to me or to the thread question? It seems like the latter, but then you started by quoting me and I noticed that you participated in the thread previously...so...please clarify.

Don't expect him to make as much sense as you would hope.



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29 Jul 2010, 6:35 am

pandorazmtbox wrote:
In the strictest scientific sense, we can never prove anything, let alone the existence of God. We can only establish hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical evidence to the contrary. The elimination of all other options or explanations establishes the 'best possible explanation' as scientifically accepted as 'truth'--until a better Theory comes along to explain the phenomena.

Once, the Earth was thought to be the center of the Universe, then anomalies observed in the paths of the planets ruled this explanation out. People like Copernicus and Galileo were excommunicated and shunned for coming up with a better explanation. Their observations falsified the hypothesis that everything revolved around us, and better fit a sun-centered Universe. Better observation methods have expanded this world view to our sun being one among a multitude, and our view of what the Universe actually is can only be blunted by our inability to observe it. Still, it is always the falsification of past assumptions that has us looking for the better truth--knowing full well it may not be the full story either.

In order to come to any scientific conclusion about God, we have to build the test in such a way that the hypothesis can be falsified. In other words, to prove that God exists, we would need to falsify the assertion that God does NOT exist. Not all hypotheses are testable, establishing the existence of God is a prime example of one of those.

Even if we could manage a falsifiable position, we would also need to have a means of measuring results. Anyone know of a scale that measures souls? An image rendering device that captures angels or demons or the hand of God? An empirical means of establishing the CAUSE of the big bang? WHY evolution started in the first place?

The existence of God cannot be disproved, nor can it be proved. However, I think that is a pity. I think there are plenty of entrenched religious types who prefer to narrowly define that-which-cannot-be-comprehended, and refuse to alter or expand their world views even when evidence is presented to the contrary. It's a shame Galileo had to burn in hell for 500 years before the Catholic Church forgave him for following the scientific method.


OK, I'm not Catholic, so I don't know about all that Galileo burning in Hell for 500 years before they forgave him or anything, but here's what I DO know.

First off, Galileo WAS correct in believing Copernicus. This much we know is true. HOWEVER, Galileo's PROOFS were wrong, wrong, WRONG. Even the Jesuits, the leading Catholic "scientists" (before there was really a word for it) at the time had enough information to show that Galileo was wrong. Galileo attempted to show that it was the Earth's movement around the sun that caused tides, NOT gravitational forces of the moon. People of Galileo's time were sure of this, and we even accept this as fact today. Forgive me if I'm oversimplifying it, but there's no such thing as being "a little bit wrong" in science. Something that outright contradicts observed phenomena, something that is "known," cannot be true.

Galileo was a devout Catholic his whole life. But he was NOT a theologian. Galileo attempted to force the Church to reconcile what was taught regarding the Biblical description of celestial bodies with HIS description of them, e.g. one of the psalms which describes the Earth as not moving. We accept this today as being the poetic device it is. To the Earth-bound observer, the sun DOES rise and set, the Earth APPEARS to be motionless. And for the time in which those passages of the Bible were written, those passages would have been easily understandable by the people of that time. They also have a timeless quality to them such that they can even be understood today. Galileo's disregard and insensitivity towards interpretation of the scripture put him in the place of a theologian, something for which he had know real knowledge or qualification (or authority). And this was, in part, responsible for Church authorities setting him up for the Inquisition. If he wanted to leave it an astronomical (scientific) matter, fine. But he crossed a line by forcing the issue rather than leaving religion out of the discussion.

Galileo was typical for scientists of the time in that he came across as being aggressive and maybe even obnoxious in presenting his views. The manner in which he put forth his hypotheses did not win him any friends. Even those within the church who WERE his friends, the ones he needed the most, were put off by his brash, argumentative nature.

Given his rough manner, his poor handling of combined science and theology, and presenting "proofs" that were KNOWN to be wrong, Galileo probably should have stopped while he was behind. But he also couldn't accept that the evidence that he DID have (which WAS correct), telescopic observations, were not sufficient at the time for a complete and total acceptance of the Copernican hypothesis. Church leaders DID tell Galileo, appropriately, that his ideas should not be presented as anything more than an alternative hypothesis in need of more study. In present day scientific study, this is common practice--you can't just dream up a theory one day and then expect the whole world to blindly accept it. Galileo subsequently published a book that not only presented the Copernican hypothesis as fact, there were hints of personal attacks on key figures within the church leadership! What would you EXPECT them to do?

And it was THIS that put Galileo in front of the Inquisitors. We tend to think of the Inquisition as a bunch of Jew-hating, witch-burning zealots, and rightfully so. But in other cases they were THOROUGH in their investigations, and such was the case with Galileo. But they did NOT excommunicate him. That much is false. What they DID do was the equivalent of house arrest. He was treated remarkably well, quite the opposite of what you'd expect from the Inquisition. As a matter of fact, you could say it was the Inquisition that actually saved Galileo.

Does the church owe Galileo an apology? Sure! Prior to the Inquisition, he was treated horribly. But the thing that they did was uphold rigorous scientific standards. Galileo did not have anything more than a hypothesis, albeit a very strong one. The mistakes he made called his evidence into question, not to mention his character. We may not agree with many of the horrors of the Inquisition, but their handling of Galileo was one of those things they got RIGHT.



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29 Jul 2010, 8:14 am

I stand corrected, the Church didn't excommunicate him--although many believe he was. He was place under house arrest in his old age and forced to publicly recant his 1632 book: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems – Ptolemaic and Copernican. He did so, and the official stance of the work was that it had been heretical (which simply means a false teaching which could mislead followers in their faith). His work was not incorrect, in fact what I was referencing was the fact that the Church publicly reversed its position and apologized to Galileo in 1992--my understanding that they actually reversed an excommunication was incorrect.

"In 1971, the Apollo 15 astronauts dropped a hammer and a feather in the near-vacuum of the Moon. The two objects plummeted to the lunar surface, untroubled by air resistance, and landed at precisely the same moment, proving Galileo correct 328 years after his death.

The Catholic Church took a little longer. In 1979, Pope John Paul II set up a committee to study the Galileo case, and five years later, its findings were made public. But it wasn't until 1992 that the Vatican finally admitted that Galileo had been right."
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsi ... lileo.html


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29 Jul 2010, 10:44 am

pandorazmtbox wrote:
I stand corrected, the Church didn't excommunicate him--although many believe he was. He was place under house arrest in his old age and forced to publicly recant his 1632 book: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems – Ptolemaic and Copernican. He did so, and the official stance of the work was that it had been heretical (which simply means a false teaching which could mislead followers in their faith). His work was not incorrect, in fact what I was referencing was the fact that the Church publicly reversed its position and apologized to Galileo in 1992--my understanding that they actually reversed an excommunication was incorrect.

"In 1971, the Apollo 15 astronauts dropped a hammer and a feather in the near-vacuum of the Moon. The two objects plummeted to the lunar surface, untroubled by air resistance, and landed at precisely the same moment, proving Galileo correct 328 years after his death.

The Catholic Church took a little longer. In 1979, Pope John Paul II set up a committee to study the Galileo case, and five years later, its findings were made public. But it wasn't until 1992 that the Vatican finally admitted that Galileo had been right."
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsi ... lileo.html


Right. But what about the tides? What about the lack of data gathering or the ability to reproduce his findings? Those are things that take time, even in our current, much better-equipped scientific climate. The only thing Galileo had was the telescope. Galileo had a certain way with people, particularly with Church authorities, that it didn't matter if they looked through the telescope or not. That's just psychology, unfortunately. If someone rubs you the wrong way, you don't want to listen to them. A kinder, gentler, more compassionate approach together with actually following their advice and presenting his ideas as being in support of the Copernican hypothesis would have won him more support.

The Church in this case was operating based on the resources that were available at the time. There was a Dutch (I forget the name) theory of geocentrism that basically said that the solar system revolves around the earth but everything else revolves around the sun. Obviously it's very difficult to explain this multifaceted idea when helio-centrism is much simpler and easier. Today we're better equipped and more capable of gathering more reliable information. Galileo was right about several things, but wrong about several more.

I've already mentioned the tides. Galileo, as I recall, was also adamant about circular orbits, something we also know is false.

Further, the Church never officially decried his helio-centric ideas as wrong, only his insistence that the Church blindly change doctrine without any immediate investigation. They did recognize that more study was needed, and by doing so maintained the integrity of scientific inquiry. Any modern scientific institution would respect that. Demonizing the church for something as silly as the Ptolemaic/Copernican debate is unnecessary, and the idea that it is indicative of the evils of the Catholic church is unjustified.



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29 Jul 2010, 10:47 am

pandorazmtbox wrote:
I stand corrected, the Church didn't excommunicate him--although many believe he was. He was place under house arrest in his old age and forced to publicly recant his 1632 book: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems – Ptolemaic and Copernican. He did so, and the official stance of the work was that it had been heretical (which simply means a false teaching which could mislead followers in their faith). His work was not incorrect, in fact what I was referencing was the fact that the Church publicly reversed its position and apologized to Galileo in 1992--my understanding that they actually reversed an excommunication was incorrect.

"In 1971, the Apollo 15 astronauts dropped a hammer and a feather in the near-vacuum of the Moon. The two objects plummeted to the lunar surface, untroubled by air resistance, and landed at precisely the same moment, proving Galileo correct 328 years after his death.

The Catholic Church took a little longer. In 1979, Pope John Paul II set up a committee to study the Galileo case, and five years later, its findings were made public. But it wasn't until 1992 that the Vatican finally admitted that Galileo had been right."
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsi ... lileo.html


That whole situation seems like an unfortunate application of Paulian thought - ie. that more advanced or even more correct understandings of reality needed to be put under the carpet, by those who perhaps had the ability to accept these facts and still not have their faith effected, due to the notion that those weaker in the faith might have their faith attacked by it. That teaching by Paul has been a double-edged sword, the negative being that the church was stuck in a position of being anti-progress. I get the impression that the declaration of Gnostic writing as heresy might have been a very similar sort of maneuver.



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29 Jul 2010, 11:08 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
pandorazmtbox wrote:
I stand corrected, the Church didn't excommunicate him--although many believe he was. He was place under house arrest in his old age and forced to publicly recant his 1632 book: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems – Ptolemaic and Copernican. He did so, and the official stance of the work was that it had been heretical (which simply means a false teaching which could mislead followers in their faith). His work was not incorrect, in fact what I was referencing was the fact that the Church publicly reversed its position and apologized to Galileo in 1992--my understanding that they actually reversed an excommunication was incorrect.

"In 1971, the Apollo 15 astronauts dropped a hammer and a feather in the near-vacuum of the Moon. The two objects plummeted to the lunar surface, untroubled by air resistance, and landed at precisely the same moment, proving Galileo correct 328 years after his death.

The Catholic Church took a little longer. In 1979, Pope John Paul II set up a committee to study the Galileo case, and five years later, its findings were made public. But it wasn't until 1992 that the Vatican finally admitted that Galileo had been right."
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsi ... lileo.html


That whole situation seems like an unfortunate application of Paulian thought - ie. that more advanced or even more correct understandings of reality needed to be put under the carpet, by those who perhaps had the ability to accept these facts and still not have their faith effected, due to the notion that those weaker in the faith might have their faith attacked by it. That teaching by Paul has been a double-edged sword, the negative being that the church was stuck in a position of being anti-progress. I get the impression that the declaration of Gnostic writing as heresy might have been a very similar sort of maneuver.


I think measures should be taken that those who are new in their faith don't feel they should be swayed OUT of the faith. In my personal view of life in the faith, if you struggle with something and you feel the need to remain ignorant about something, by all means get away from whatever is causing the problem. I think that faith is something that has to be built up over time, and the more experienced faithful have to be careful around new converts.

I'm not afraid of my beliefs being ripped apart in the forums, for example. If I have trouble with something that comes up in debate, I can always just leave, forget about it for a while, study the issue that I'm struggling with, and come back later. Further, newer converts always seem to be the most zealous. So if a new convert understands that drinking too much is considered sinful behavior, why on earth would I invite the guy out for a beer? OK, the Bible does not prohibit drinking entirely, but my actions might be seen as misleading. Mixed signals do not bode well for a new believer.

Now, the Church, if it is teaching the truth, really has no reason to fear anything. The movement of the earth is truly irrelevant to scripture. By switching from Ptolemaic theory to Copernican theory, the Church does no harm. The truth of the Bible isn't contradicted at all. If a FEW people get in a tizzy and leave the church over denial of a scientific fact, let them go. Truth is truth, and if the Church can't acknowledge that, why should people assume it has any authority in spiritual matters as well?

Yeah, I know that runs counter to what I wrote earlier, but it's a different perspective. Any church should favor progress with the understanding that progress does not diminish spiritual truth. What I mean is that scientific or historical progress has never really compromised scripture, and the believer has no reason to expect it to.

The difference with the Gnostics doesn't have anything to do with progress or lack thereof. The problem with Gnosticism is the reliance on secret knowledge as the basis for salvation. This is in contradiction with the idea that Christ died for the salvation of all in that no amount of "knowledge" may keep one from receiving salvation. "Secret" knowledge means only those elite few who are initiated into an order are eligible. Christ's teachings, by contrast, were always public. Sometimes Christ DID speak in seemingly mysterious parables or riddles and did not explain the meaning to the crowds, but rather chose to explain their meanings to His disciples. But we also know through the "Great Commission" that Christ's intentions were that His teaching become widespread, no secrets kept from anyone. This would be because salvation was not intended to be kept from anyone.

Now, if the Gnostics were right and Jesus DID reveal knowledge that was to be kept secret, then this contradicts His statements that he hadn't kept anything from His followers. The only "secret" I recall other than certain parables explained to the disciples is a miraculous healing in which He told the man not to tell anyone about what happened but go straight to the priests to be declared "clean," and one can safely assume the purpose for this was so that the man would be in keeping with Hebrew law. So if, according to the Gnostics, Jesus DID keep secrets when Jesus clearly said he DIDN'T keep secrets in the canonical gospels, then that makes Jesus a liar. If Jesus was lying about one, how may we believe He was being honest about the other? A shady character like that isn't worthy of any kind of commitment. Therefore, Jesus' teachings as recorded in the canon must be reliable as taught by tradition. I'm not a believer in tradition for tradition's sake, but this happens to be one instance of the tradition being correct.



Last edited by AngelRho on 29 Jul 2010, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

pandorazmtbox
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29 Jul 2010, 11:12 am

AngelRho wrote:
Right. But what about the tides?

Look, the statement I made about Galileo burning in hell for centuries (yes, it was 400 years, not 500 like I originally said :roll: ) was an example, but it was also a joke. If you believe in heaven, hell, God and all...doesn't it seem hilarious that some human, here on earth, could put you in or out of hell based on whether they thought your life's work was heresy? To me, the idea is really funny. Okay, so as you pointed out, he wasn't excommunicated, just publicly humiliated and his life's work blacklisted--point taken.

Newton was also wrong about some things, as was Einstein--as is every scientist that has ever been or ever will be. That was kind of my point way back there. Even the best science is fallible, and it is part of the "method" to regularly assess those issues and improve on 'what we accept as truth'. I make no point about where Galileo was right or wrong, only that religious institutions, religions and the religious (in general) might be better served to allow such assessments in their assertions as well.

AngelRho wrote:
Demonizing the church for something as silly as the Ptolemaic/Copernican debate is unnecessary, and the idea that it is indicative of the evils of the Catholic church is unjustified.

Whoa, whoa, whoa...hold on there, Cowboy. I'm not demonizing anyone or anything here, and lifting my statement into an argument about the evils of the Church is really taking it far out of context.


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29 Jul 2010, 11:56 am

pandorazmtbox wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
Right. But what about the tides?

Look, the statement I made about Galileo burning in hell for centuries (yes, it was 400 years, not 500 like I originally said :roll: ) was an example, but it was also a joke. If you believe in heaven, hell, God and all...doesn't it seem hilarious that some human, here on earth, could put you in or out of hell based on whether they thought your life's work was heresy? To me, the idea is really funny. Okay, so as you pointed out, he wasn't excommunicated, just publicly humiliated and his life's work blacklisted--point taken.

Newton was also wrong about some things, as was Einstein--as is every scientist that has ever been or ever will be. That was kind of my point way back there. Even the best science is fallible, and it is part of the "method" to regularly assess those issues and improve on 'what we accept as truth'. I make no point about where Galileo was right or wrong, only that religious institutions, religions and the religious (in general) might be better served to allow such assessments in their assertions as well.

AngelRho wrote:
Demonizing the church for something as silly as the Ptolemaic/Copernican debate is unnecessary, and the idea that it is indicative of the evils of the Catholic church is unjustified.

Whoa, whoa, whoa...hold on there, Cowboy. I'm not demonizing anyone or anything here, and lifting my statement into an argument about the evils of the Church is really taking it far out of context.


OK, Cowgirl, point taken, and I never said YOU demonized anyone. It's possible you might be jumping to conclusions. All I was saying is that the case of Galileo is often used by Church opponents to make a point about how the Church opposes science and progress when it's actually the opposite that's true.

Truce?