I am sorry, it took me a while to get back to you. I have been pretty busy these last couple days, also I had to re-watch and re-read some stuff of the New Atheist movement to extract some of their arguments. Fist of all, let me say, I am still pretty surprised about people meeting and debating the existence of God (or at least their standpoint on the issue) in public. Also those debates sometimes even seem to be arranged in the way boxing matches are presented, which makes it even weirder (for me, at least). To clarify that, I am from Germany - we do not have any strong, right-wing conservative Christians here. Well, to be completely honest - we have some but they are neither strong, nor do they present their beliefs publicly here.
Ok, so now on to the more interesting stuff:
Thanks for the suggestions. I actually read one of Lee Strobel's books a few years ago, despite the bad German translation, I liked it, but still feel he made his arguments "against" Jesus a bit too easy to defuse. I am looking forward to getting into the basics of philosophy, so far I have been listening to some of the podcasts by Marianne Talbot, which I really enjoyed. If anyone is interested in the topic, have a look around here: http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/romp-th ... -beginners They're free to download.jlay wrote: Philosphers studying this (from a non-Christian perspective) go back to early Greek philosphers such as Aristotle and Plato. St. Thomas Aquinas' metaphysics are centuries old.
If you want to look at a text book style collection of all the evidence then I would highly recommend, Josh McDowell's, "Evidence that Demans a Verdict." Josh was a skeptic who was converted after studying the case.
If you want a more reader friendly version, then Lee strobel's "Case for ______" series is great. Another skeptic who was converted.
Thanks, Stu. I already stumbled upon his name, the reviews of his book look promising, so I will go and have a look at it. Thank you for your suggestion.Stu wrote: I would recommend a book by Anthony Flew called There is a God.
Written by Flew himself it describes his journey of "how the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind".
It details how Flew's commitment to always "follow the argument wherever it leads", lead him from atheism to God. If you are looking for a "neutral" assessment of the evidence at hand, well this is it.
I think that he is being able to publicly change his mind about the whole issue makes him kind of trustworthy, I guess. Also when you say "he is certainly about as unbiased as anyone is" is that a figure of speech in the English language? I already encountered something similar some time ago, where someone said "that painting is a good as anything painted these days". I still don't know whether that was a compliment or an insult (?)SnowDrops wrote: Though Flew converted to Deism not Christianity he certainly is about as unbiased as anyone is. Also, since everyone is biased (including me and you), sometimes you just have to forget about who is speaking and simply listen to the arguments from both sides.
You are right, I re-watched some of the debates. There were also quite a few, where he behaves very well. The one I saw about him first, he was in a more aggressive mode, so I made my assumption from that. Maybe I have done him unjustice with first my comment.narnia4 wrote:And while Dawkins debating techniques and language and ad hominem attacks and insulting language aren't really debatable, you can't say the same about WLC. He's always a professional, if he acted in an immature, vindictive manner he could easily draw some well-deserved laughs by mocking inane, out of date arguments put forth by New Atheists.
You are right about that. I went back and looked at the arguments, they are really not that strong. Problem is, I am not a biologist, so I have big trouble understanding what either side says.narnia4 wrote:But maybe you could be more specific and people here could help you out. Your questions don't really seem to be directed AT the issue, namely whether or not God exists. What arguments have these atheists put forth that bothers you? Or is it their mere presence and confidence that they must be right, which frankly often is the case? When you dissect their words and arguments, I personally don't see a lot that's special about them. But if you've just recently been exposed to them, their "Theists are SO stupid and misguided and they've been proven wrong so many times!" routine can be alarming if you go just by that.
When examining arguments on both sides, I have to ask myself - what do I base my decision for following Jesus on? What is my belief about God based on? Do I just have to read the bible and accept what is in there and if I do that, which books do I take in, which do I leave out? I could also accept the jewish faith or become a muslim or a hindu- So there have to be some reasons for believing in Jesus and all the other people who claim to have been sent by God. Also it would be pretty nice to be able to communicate some "proof" or at least a reason for my belief to all my non-christian friends, because some of them are actually looking for answers, but are simply overwhelmed by all the offers on the "religious market". One of them said "So it is like a lottery, where you pick one god and hope that is the right one?" - and after thinking about that, he really has a point about that issue.
I value respect, as I think there can be any real discussion without it. If I try to insult people to change their minds, I will actually never get them to believe me, even if I present the stronger arguments. I have recently been trying to improve my rhetoric skills and one of the first lessons one learns, is that your success is not just based on the arguments of your message, but also to a big part on the way you deliver it. Imagine two people presenting the same arguments, one just giving an exciting lecture, the other one telling you, that you are f*cking idiots, if you dont believe him. That kind of behaviour is actually making it impossible for quite a lot of people to even listen to what you have to say. I think the feeling of being forced to do sth already sparks resistance in human individuals - therefore in can not be the way to go. People have tried to forcefully "convert" poeple into different religions, I think it does not work that way. You can force people to behave a certain way, but you can never force them to believe sth against there will (manipulation is a different issue, I guess).narnia4 wrote:Since you seem to put value in respect, keep in mind that I'm only addressing this specific, insulting group. Not putting every unbeliever into that group, only those who identify with that group.
So to get back on the topic - as a Christian I am somewhat afraid, that especially the New Atheists are burning their bridges to even go back, the public humiliation for anyone to turn their back on atheism would probably be reason to stay on the path they chose for the rest of their lives.
I understand, what you mean. I do not know whether it is plainly a philosophical question. In my initial post, I did not mean somebody would be "completely unbiased" as that would not be possible, I guess, but that at least some people are humble & honest about their findings.Ivellious wrote: a) Well, no scientist can really explore the meaning of life scientifically, because it's not a scientific issue. It's an opinion almost, or an idea, or something even more abstract, and probably well beyond humankind's ability to understand. Philosophers have and still are attempting to answer it but we haven't made much progress over that time, so..
I'd also agree that a completely unbiased individual or set of individuals to mediate the evidence and come up with the answer is sadly not existent, or else we would already have all the answers.
I do not know, whether that is the point of religion. Also I more and more find that in using that term, we are putting things together in one box, that maybe do not belong together at all. At least not, if one of them is true and the others are not. Also about the different gods- I always thought the Christian God would be the nicest to have around, as he seems to be the one most interested in our well-being and on the other hand makes it the easiest for us to connect with him - I know that my opinion is debatable, but that is what I initially thought, when I wrote that post.Ivellious wrote: b) That would obviously vary individual to individual. Everyone has their own beliefs and reasons for believing. I can see how an atheist might be disappointed to realize (in their mind) that a deity or higher power doesn't exist. But typically I would assume that deciding to be an atheist means one has accepted other reasons for living and so on, so I don't think it would bother most atheists.
I would say this though. Yes, in some ways the Christian God might be nice to have watching over us as the Bible describes. But I could also easily argue that having a number of other belief systems in place could be equally pleasing. That's kind of the point of religion, isn't it? To have a happy, promising, and safe belief system in place? Granted, the Christian God could also be described as cruel, a hypocrite, testy, angry, unfair, and numerous other unflattering terms. So could Zeus or Shiva or your ancestral spirits. So there's no reason to believe in God if only because he might be nice to have around.
Ok, so now back to more questions, I know these are very broad, but maybe some of you find them easy to explain or point me into the right direction:
1. What evidence/arguments can I actually provide for my belief? Not necessarily scientific, but what arguments can I present to people interested in the Christan faith beyond "read the bible and make a personal decision" - which seems kind of bizarre to me and I can understand that people do not feel a strong urge to put a serious amount of time into something that is advertised that badly.
2. Maybe I have been too long a Christian, but I really don't get why people dislike the idea of the offer of Jesus so much. I guess most people think, they would have to let go of all the things they like (like sex, tv and shopping) and then live a boring sad life as some self-satisfied conservatives, where every now and then the church or their pastor tells them how they have to behave. Did not the conservative Christians create that ridiculous caricature of the the Christian faith themselves? I understand God as someone who is interested in setting me free from my absurd desires in order to become something beyond that.
3. Theology of hell: Is the popular image of eternal torture really what the bible tells us or rather something that became popular at some point in time?
4. Why is God so secretive about himself? Are there any reasons for him to behave that way? Would we not have free will of choosing our side for or against God, if his existence and position was well known?
thanks for your (past & future) contributions,