Friday, October 31, 2008

The Substance of Faith

The etymology of the word “faith” commences circa 1250 and it meant "duty of fulfilling one's trust," and it derived from the Latin root word fied which essentially means "trust". Trust comes from the Old Norse word traust meaning confidence circa 1200. We use these words everyday, but sometimes we use them with a misconceived idea about them.


True faith should be built on trust and confidence in that which you have faith. We use faith/trust everyday. We have faith that brushing our teeth will reduce risk of cavities. We trust that our employer will supply our paycheck at the end of the pay period or else we would not be working for him. After repeatedly being rendered our paychecks we have confidence that we will continue to get reimbursed for the hours worked. We utilize faith, trust, and confidence in a myriad of ways everyday. However, our use of faith is not without reason. We have plenty of reasons to believe that brushing our teeth is advantageous. We have plenty of experiential reason to have confidence we will receive our due paycheck unless something gives us reason to cease having faith that we will receive our paycheck.



Why, then, when we step into the area of spirituality, do we not understand the use of faith and reason? Faith is not blind adherence to someone or something in the absence of evidence and reason. Faith is trust in someone or something based on the substance of the evidence that supports that faith. I have often observed a child leaping off the side of a pool into his father’s arms. The child has faith that daddy will catch him. He doesn’t absolutely know that nothing will prevent this from happening, but he knows daddy loves him and will protect him because daddy is that kind of person. A child like faith is not one of ignorance, but one of trust greater than many adults because adults have learned fear and that often rules their intellect more than their trust. To live a life not bound by fear and distrust is a wonderful freedom that can only come from being in the truth and love of God. Love, trust, faith all go hand in hand. Sure someone can put their trust in the wrong place; we see this happen all the time. But we also see those people who are so afraid that they trust no one and live a life bound to fear.


It is often said in Christian circles that it takes more faith to be an atheist because there is a greater leap to accept proof of a negative than proof of a positive. The only way you can know a negative is by knowing all things and being omniscient yourself. But the way you know a positive is by knowing that particular thing and not all things. I really don’t want to hear about unicorns and fairies in response to this statement. That doesn’t really address the matter. Nor am I using this an argument for God’s existence but more so an illustration of the leap of faith employed.


However, even in saying this it reaffirms the misuse of the word, faith. It isn’t really faith in the real sense of the word that is employed in believing in nothing, except maybe faith in one’s own intellect. It is a skepticism that leads to atheism, not really a faith. Faith and trust is absent, not because of lack of evidence, but because of skepticism. Atheists deny what they have not experienced even to the extent of discounting the experiences of others because they haven’t shared them.



The Christian puts his faith in God because he has come to know God is real, not as some would suggest, to come to know that God is real. Many think that faith is employed to posit God’s existence, but in reality it is employed after knowing God is real. An encounter with God doesn’t take faith, it’s the most real thing in the world when it happens and no one can shake that knowledge. It is then that faith rises for when you have come in contact with the living God you know that you know that He is real. Faith in Him can lead to deeper relationship with Him, but it is not a major factor in knowing He exists.


Proof that He is real is more an experiential matter than simply an intellectual matter. There is a plethora of intellectual arguments for and against His existence, but once you’ve encountered Him all arguments are secondary to the reality of that encounter.


I know a God who is in pursuit of humans with His love. He points to Himself in creation, in reason, in logic, in history, in revelation, in our emotions, in our desires, in our morality, in our creativity. He affirms who are we are and does not detract from who we are. The supernatural affirms and enhances the natural.


I am not merely asking that people accept only intellectual arguments for Christianity and join the club. I am suggesting that people can authentically truly experience the living God for themselves and come to know that Christianity is true. I don’t know God as a mere set of intellectual ideas and assumptions, I know him personally and relationally.


Faith isn’t something you muster up to believe in something unbelievable. It is the substance of trust in that which has become believable. I pray that you can find the way through the seas of uncertainty and set down your anchor into the firm foundation of truth that is knowable both cerebrally and experientially.


48 comments:

CyberKitten said...

karla said: It is often said in Christian circles that it takes more faith to be an atheist because there is a greater leap to accept proof of a negative than proof of a positive. The only way you can know a negative is by knowing all things and being omniscient yourself.

Speaking of the misuse of words..... Atheism - certainly as I understand it - is simply the *disbelief* or lack of belief in God. This does not mean that I believe that God does not exist. Indeed He may do so - I just don't believe it.

But here's a question for you... Do you believe that other supernatural creatures also exist - from unicorns to fairies to other gods. Do you believe that the god Odin exists for example? Could he exist or are you convinced that he does not exist? Is there any doubt in your mind on this issue?

Kevin DeGraaf said...

There is a plethora of intellectual arguments for and against His existence, but once you’ve encountered Him all arguments are secondary to the reality of that encounter.

You have repeatedly claimed that you know that the Christian god (i.e., the one described in the Bible) exists because you have observed his presence manifested in concrete ways.

How do you know that these observations (which, by your own admission, are subjective and personal rather than objective and empirical) are indeed evidence of a god? By what reasoning have you ruled out natural explanations?

Furthermore, how did you come to the conclusion that, out of the thousands of gods that have been proposed, that the Christian god is the one who actually exists and is responsible for your observations? That seems like a major coincidence.

I'm not familiar with your background, but I'd wager a fair sum that you were either raised in the Christian religion or came to join it later in life due to the influence of Christian peers.

Can you honestly say that, had you been raised in a different religion or surrounded by peers of another faith, you would still have come to the conclusion that these experiences were evidence of the Christian god, as opposed to whichever deity was popular among your peers?

Isn't your line of argument explained much more parsimoniously by gullibility and confirmation bias?

Kevin DeGraaf said...

Speaking of the misuse of words..... Atheism - certainly as I understand it - is simply the *disbelief* or lack of belief in God.

Agreed. Theists seem to prefer to misrepresent our position in order to lend credence to the "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist" strawman.

This does not mean that I believe that God does not exist. Indeed He may do so - I just don't believe it.

Speaking about gods in general, yes -- the rational position is provisional rejection subject to further evidence.

However, certain specific conceptions of "God", such as the Christian one, can be actively rejected. An omni-max god who causes and allows suffering is logically incoherent, like a square circle or a married bachelor.

Anonymous said...

"Atheists deny what they have not experienced even to the extent of discounting the experiences of others because they haven’t shared them."

Don't you do the exact same thing for all other gods besides the one you just happen to believe in?

"It is then that faith rises for when you have come in contact with the living God you know that you know that He is real."

Let me echo Kevin's sentiments on this as well as further a question that I've asked before and you've never answered. How do you know that it isn't Satan telling you lies? How do you know it's not another god and you aren't misinterpreting it through your fallibly human senses? How do you know that it isn't your mind playing tricks on you?

"There is a plethora of intellectual arguments for and against His existence..."

I keep hearing this, but I never see any. How odd...

"I know a God who is in pursuit of humans with His love."

If you mean to say that he is in pursuit of all humans, then this is demonstrably false, as evidenced by those who used to be Xians and are not now. But, of course, I've already told you this before, so perhaps you only meant that god pursues some people? In that case, can you call god all-loving if he obviously doesn't care about all people? You'll not answer these objections, of course, but others reading will see how intellectually bankrupt you are when you don't.

Karla said...

"Speaking of the misuse of words..... Atheism - certainly as I understand it - is simply the *disbelief* or lack of belief in God. This does not mean that I believe that God does not exist. Indeed He may do so - I just don't believe it."

Either you are an atheist and disbelieve that God exist, or an agnostic and you aren't sure. Of course he could exist and you not believe it. Many things are true that are not believed. The truth doesn't change your position on the truth.

Are you certain God does not exist? Or are you uncertain about that?

Karla said...

To all of you. I want to be sure you understand I do not desire to misrepresent you for any reason. Please know that any misrepresentation is my ignorance and not my deception or any other reason. Through our conversations I can learn more about what you do believe and don't believe and so I will be less likely to misrepresent your position. I hope also that you can take the time to learn more about Christianity and not misrepresent that worldview either.

I will try to respond in a more detailed fashion later when I have more time.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Either you are an atheist and disbelieve that God exist, or an agnostic and you aren't sure.

Wrong again I'm afraid. An Agnostic is a person who does not believe that the God question can be answered so withholds judgement on the matter. An Atheist (a-theist, the clue is in the name) is simply not a theist. Theists believe in God. Atheists don't. It doesn't get simpler than that.

karla said: Are you certain God does not exist? Or are you uncertain about that?

I have no idea if God exists or not. I simply don't believe in His existence because I know of no evidence nor of any credible argument that points in that direction.

Kevin DeGraaf said...

To all of you. I want to be sure you understand I do not desire to misrepresent you for any reason.

Remember, we're skeptics. Don't tell us that you want to avoid misrepresentation, show us.

Here are some suggestions:

* Stop claiming that we have no objective standards and are borrowing morality from theism, since we've explained the basis for objective secular morality.

* Stop claiming that we have blind faith in naturalism, since we've clearly explained the basis of rational skepticism.

* Stop redefining atheism and agnosticism, since we've explained these concepts correctly ad nauseum. (One more time: atheism is a lack of theistic belief and agnosticism is a lack of theistic knowledge. These are not mutually exclusive.)

Based on your record, I'd wager that you have no intention of following any of these suggestions, but as always, I am willing to change my mind in the face of new evidence.

Anonymous said...

"Either you are an atheist and disbelieve that God exist, or an agnostic and you aren't sure.

...

I want to be sure you understand I do not desire to misrepresent you for any reason."

Considering (as Kevin has already pointed out) that this has already been explained to you, I count this as a bald-faced lie. Is it OK for you to lie so long as you feel it is in the service of Jesus?

Quixote said...

I have great respect for the atheist who has determined that the evidence to support God's existence is insufficient for belief. The burden of proof always lies with the positive claim, in this particular argument, theism. Accordingly, the atheist should not be required to demonstrate a positive claim that God does not exist.

The paragraph above refers to weak atheism, or as also commonly termed, negative atheism. In Karla's behalf, there exists strains of atheistic thought that are strong or positive. These atheists affirm the proposition that no gods exist, or that some conceptions of god are demonstrably false. In such cases, the strong atheist is required to support this conclusion, which is customarily performed by asserting that certain conceptions of god are logically impossible. Perhaps Karla has in mind positive atheism (she I'm sure will coorect me if I misrepresented her), and the brand of positive atheism that denies all gods, when she addresses the difficulty of disproving a negative.

Incidentally, this difficulty is the reason most atheists, in my experience anyway, profess negative atheism, or restrict their claim to denying certain conceptions of god, most often the omni-max god of western monotheism. I hope I have represented the atheist position accurately. I would appreciate correction where applicable. i have not been able to pinpoint where our anonymous friend stands; but if I had to guess, I would say he is strong with regard to omni-max, and weak with repsect to more nebulous conceptions, such as deism. How close am I? I think I echoed some of what Mr. DeGraaf said, so I should be OK. Speaking of mr. DeGraaf, a couple of comments:

"* Stop claiming that we have no objective standards"

Yep. Bad thing to do. Many atheists have fully developed, mature ethical systems. I think the problem comes through equivocation with the word "objective". Theists use it o mean supernatural; atheists use it to mean verifiable by reason, or some reasonable facsimile of the two.

* Stop claiming that we have blind faith in naturalism,

I don't see this claim too often, especially with atheisms reliance on empiricism.

"agnosticism is a lack of theistic knowledge."

Interesting comment. What do you mean by this?

cyberkitten said: "Do you believe that other supernatural creatures also exist"

Cyber--I bet it's true that you believe in one less god than I, right? :)

Karla:

Wonderful post. I tend to forget this, or at least overlook it. Thanks for reminding me. I love this line: "it’s the most real thing in the world when it happens and no one can shake that knowledge." How true. There's nothing quite like it, and there is no substitute for it once you've tasted it. Great post.

Anonymous said...

"These atheists affirm the proposition that no gods exist, or that some conceptions of god are demonstrably false."

Some are demonstrably false, like a god that is omni-max. There are books that cover these logical disproofs.

"I hope I have represented the atheist position accurately. I would appreciate correction where applicable. i have not been able to pinpoint where our anonymous friend stands; but if I had to guess, I would say he is strong with regard to omni-max, and weak with repsect to more nebulous conceptions, such as deism. How close am I?"

Very.

"I think the problem comes through equivocation with the word "objective". Theists use it o mean supernatural; atheists use it to mean verifiable by reason, or some reasonable facsimile of the two."

The theist's use of the word is a re-definition of the word in this case. The atheist uses it correctly.

"I love this line: "it’s the most real thing in the world when it happens and no one can shake that knowledge." How true. There's nothing quite like it, and there is no substitute for it once you've tasted it."

How do you know it's true? Karla posits other supernatural entities, like Satan. How do you know (given that you have experienced something supernatural just for the sake of argument) that you have only experienced the Xian god? It could be a mixture, it could be all Satan, it could be a different god that you are misinterpreting to be the Xian god. How do you know?

Quixote said...

"There are books that cover these logical disproofs."

Yep. Have them, read them, numerous times, could argue their points vigorously. I'd be interested to know if you've read any books arguing the opposite.

"The theist's use of the word is a re-definition of the word in this case. The atheist uses it correctly."

The point is that this is what makes discussion difficult at times. If everyone would keep this distinction, and like others, in mind, we might actually be able to converse.

"It could be a mixture, it could be all Satan, it could be a different god that you are misinterpreting to be the Xian god. How do you know?"

This knowledge is part and parcel of the experience itself. One part of knowing, is knowing. But I get what you are saying, and I agree, this type of thing happens all the time, and Christians accuse other Christians of it on a routine basis. The only way we have to justify our experience is through its agreement with the Bible.

You have to remember, of course, that all of your reasoning could be suspect in the same manner.

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"Yep. Have them, read them, numerous times, could argue their points vigorously. I'd be interested to know if you've read any books arguing the opposite."

I've read a few in my time.

"This knowledge is part and parcel of the experience itself. One part of knowing, is knowing. But I get what you are saying, and I agree, this type of thing happens all the time, and Christians accuse other Christians of it on a routine basis. The only way we have to justify our experience is through its agreement with the Bible."

Wait. You're saying that the Bible is the only way to justify your experience? How do you know that? How do you know that the Bible is true, except through the same revelation that you are trying to justify, which would be circular reasoning? Either that, or you are relying on the revelations in the Bible to be true, and how do you know that, which would simply be pushing the problem back one level. Neither way actually answers the question.

Anonymous said...

Oops, almost missed this.

"You have to remember, of course, that all of your reasoning could be suspect in the same manner."

I don't see how. I'm not claiming any sort of supernatural revelation.

Quixote said...

"Neither way actually answers the question."

Thankfully, my options are not limited to the two you have suggested. We've discussed this previously, BTW.

"I don't see how. I'm not claiming any sort of supernatural revelation."

Doesn't matter, you could still be deluded by an evil god, or have thoughts implanted in your head ala Matrix, etc. I'm not the type who peddles these ideas as genuine, but it's worth keeping in mind when you broach the subject with others that you are not immune to the same epistemic difficulty.

CyberKitten said...

Quixote said: Doesn't matter, you could still be deluded by an evil god, or have thoughts implanted in your head ala Matrix, etc. I'm not the type who peddles these ideas as genuine, but it's worth keeping in mind when you broach the subject with others that you are not immune to the same epistemic difficulty.

So... How can any of us actually be certain of anything? IMO certainty on *any* issue is impossible.

Karla said...

Hey everyone. I've not had time this weekend to respond to any of these comments. I'll try to catch up today.

Karla said...

Kevin wrote: “Remember, we're skeptics. Don't tell us that you want to avoid misrepresentation, show us.”

That’s fair. I’m trying. Can I ask the same of atheist, to seek to know enough about Christianity not to misrepresent us?

Kevin wrote: “Here are some suggestions:”

* Stop claiming that we have no objective standards and are borrowing morality from theism, since we've explained the basis for objective secular morality.

Some of you tell me that you have objective standards and others tell me it’s all subjective. So is it the ones who claim objectivity a better representation of atheism than those who claim all is subjective? I’ve heard both arguments. Even Nietzsche himself wrote, “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has been exhibited again and again despite the English Flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.” Is the “atheism” you adhere to distinct from the atheism of Nietzsche? Or am I misunderstanding Nietzsche?

* Stop claiming that we have blind faith in naturalism, since we've clearly explained the basis of rational skepticism.

Is it because of your skepticism of even naturalism that it’s not a faith in naturalism? If you are skeptical of everything there is nothing by which to stand to critique all else. I don’t think at this point that you are claiming that you know that naturalism is true for certain.

* Stop redefining atheism and agnosticism, since we've explained these concepts correctly ad nauseum. (One more time: atheism is a lack of theistic belief and agnosticism is a lack of theistic knowledge. These are not mutually exclusive.)

I will accept your definitions and end that line of questions.

Kevin wrote: “Based on your record, I'd wager that you have no intention of following any of these suggestions, but as always, I am willing to change my mind in the face of new evidence.”

I am trying hard to communicate without misrepresenting atheism or any other worldview as best as I know how all the while trying to communicate my worldview in a way to correct some of the common misrepresentations I keep hearing.

One more thing, I see a difference between your giving an argument or explanation for something and that argument or explanation working. I have given arguments for Christ Resurrection that doesn’t mean we are agreed on that point. I have given arguments to explain the need for a God to have objective morality and you and your wife and others have given arguments to the contrary. We are at an impasse with that and for me that means more discussion and thinking about other ways to explain it. Anonymous says I am intellectually dishonest because I have been presented with arguments and haven’t accepted them as the way of things. And yet I have also given arguments that have not been accepted. Maybe we all still have some work to do to be clearer and to learn more about each way of thinking and look for things we can learn from each other.

Karla said...

Anonymous wrote: Is it OK for you to lie so long as you feel it is in the service of Jesus?


No it's not alright for me to lie for any reason and I have not lied to you or any of you.

Karla said...

cyberkitten wrote: "So... How can any of us actually be certain of anything? IMO certainty on *any* issue is impossible."

The only way to be certain is to find a stable eternal foundation for all knowledge/truth. If such a foundation doesn't exist there can be no certainty. Knowledge is relational meaning that knowing one thing is based on knowing another thing. You know what A is because you know what B is and you know what B is because you know C and so on until something just is (self-evident) or all knowledge collapses into uncertainty.

Karla said...

Quixote wrote: "Yep. Bad thing to do. Many atheists have fully developed, mature ethical systems. I think the problem comes through equivocation with the word "objective". Theists use it o mean supernatural; atheists use it to mean verifiable by reason, or some reasonable facsimile of the two."

Can you explain what you understand on this topic to me. (see my response to Kevin).

I do think it maybe a difference in terminology on the word objective. I see objective morality as something that is known to be wrong for all people in all times versus subjective morality which would state that slavery became wrong or is wrong for some cultures and not for others. When I say atheists don't have grounds for objective morality, I mean that they have no philosophical grounds for saying that slavery is wrong for all people in all times and in all cultures.

Maybe my way of explaining it has been in error and has communicated something I did not intend. Quixote, you are more learned than me, what do you say?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Some of you tell me that you have objective standards and others tell me it’s all subjective. So is it the ones who claim objectivity a better representation of atheism than those who claim all is subjective?

I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a representitive atheist just as there is no such thing as a representitive theist. Personally I'm on the subjective end of the spectrum.

karla said: Is the “atheism” you adhere to distinct from the atheism of Nietzsche?

Good quote BTW. Is it from Zarathustra?

I think he's right when he says that if you're not a Christian you can't really have Christian values - but of course many of the values claimed as Christian are pretty universal (the Golden rule for example). I think that largely Secular societies are 'going through the motions' where morality is concerned. Few people have any ethical training and I don't think that most people really give it much thought. Of course this doesn't mean that its either Christianity (or theism) or nothing (or nihilism). There's lots of ethical thinking out there that can be accessed by anyone with an interest in the subject.

karla said: Or am I misunderstanding Nietzsche?

[laughs] Well, he *is* open to very wide interpretation! He's a philosopher that really needs study rather just reading. He's pretty easy to read - though rather disturbing - but somewhat harder to understand.

karla said: The only way to be certain is to find a stable eternal foundation for all knowledge/truth. If such a foundation doesn't exist there can be no certainty.

That pretty much is my position.

karla said: until something just is (self-evident) or all knowledge collapses into uncertainty.

I don't think that anything is 'self-evident'

karla said: I see objective morality as something that is known to be wrong for all people in all times versus subjective morality which would state that slavery became wrong or is wrong for some cultures and not for others.

But nothing is "wrong for all people in all times" is it?

karla said: When I say atheists don't have grounds for objective morality, I mean that they have no philosophical grounds for saying that slavery is wrong for all people in all times and in all cultures.

I find it difficult to understand how anyone can say that morality is objective. There is nowhere outside of culture that we can stand to say such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"Thankfully, my options are not limited to the two you have suggested. We've discussed this previously, BTW."

And you're still not answering the questions.

"Doesn't matter, you could still be deluded by an evil god, or have thoughts implanted in your head ala Matrix, etc. I'm not the type who peddles these ideas as genuine, but it's worth keeping in mind when you broach the subject with others that you are not immune to the same epistemic difficulty."

That's correct, but I still fail to see why it's a problem for me. I'm not the one claiming there's an absolute truth in god.

Anonymous said...

karla,
"Anonymous says I am intellectually dishonest because I have been presented with arguments and haven’t accepted them as the way of things."

No, for the umpteenth time, that is NOT WHAT I AM SAYING! That you continually misrepresent me and make me continually correct you is just another reason to say that you are a liar.

It's not that you aren't accepting them, it's that you have no answer for them and they do challenge your position, so you continually ignore them and simply repeat your assertions. It looks like this:

Karla: X is true.
Anon and others: X is not true because of Y.
Karla: X is true.
Anon and others: Y shows that X is not true.
Karla: X is true.

It's not a matter of accepting Y when Y is a matter of factual record. Take the claim that you continually make that atheists can not have objective morality. Given that there are moral systems out there that have been presented to you that are objective and do not rely on god, you are clearly in error. Yet, even after being shown your error and pointed to the facts which contradict you, you continue to claim that your original assertion is correct. This is why you are a liar.

"And yet I have also given arguments that have not been accepted."

When those arguments are not accepted it is because I have an objection that you can't answer. IOW, you can't support your arguments.

"No it's not alright for me to lie for any reason and I have not lied to you or any of you."

I'm sorry, but your plea of innocent is simply not going to be accepted considering the weight of evidence that is against you. But, I'm glad to know that you don't think you have a license to lie for Jesus. I suggest that you take that to heart and stop lying.

Quixote said...

Karla said:"Quixote, you are more learned than me, what do you say?"

I say, don't sell yourself short. You can't possibly know this, and even if it were true, it means little :)

I naturally agree with your terminology, and the difference between objectivity and subjectivity. My only point was that theists need to be careful to make a distinction regarding this topic to be fair to atheists. So often, all atheists hear from Christians is that they are godless, evil, pawns of Satan, with no basis for morality. I for one, believe everyone is created in the image of God and deserves respect, at least until they demonstrate otherwise (and even then Christians are called to love their enemy). I sense this from you as well.

One way to do this on a blog is simply to make sure everyone knows this. For example, though many atheists are nihilists along the lines of Nietzsche, not all are. In fact, the "New Atheism" is primarily non-nietzschean in its philosophic approach to morality and the philosophic basis of ethics.

They do indeed profess ethical systems that are objective, not in the sense that they are delivered from on high, but in the sense that all reasonable people will recognize the rightness of certain propositions. They are commonly utilitarian in nature, and rely heavily, if not exclusively on reason, customarily basing ethics on the good of the most concerned, or all concerned. I think Christians should agree to this up-front, even though we disagree that atheist philosophy is not objective in the theistic sense.

So, have confidence in yourself. I was certainly not criticizing anything you wrote, only wanting to get it out there that non-nietzchean atheists do profess moral systems (and I for one have atheist neighbors who live out their ethics in a more tangible way than many Christians I know), and they claim that these systems are objective in a non-supernatural sense. We, of course, disagree, but many atheists are rational folk and are deserving of our respect, which is not to say you're not. Your writing, to me, screams that you are a kind and respectful person. There's a non-learned answer for you :)

Now, it may have escaped me previously, but perhaps you are proceeding from a presuppositional apologetic position? If so, since you would be claiming that morality, logic, reason, etc. can only have rationality given theism, or more specifically, Christian theism, this task may be harder to do, but I sincerely do not believe they are nutally exclusive.

I guess when I boil it down, I do not want to let such a simple thing as a word, in this case "objective", get in the way of discussion, when it may just be that we are pouring different meanings into the term. If we can agree to terms we can talk, if not, there's no point. Hope this helps, and as always, feel free to correct me.

Quixote said...

Cyber said:"So... How can any of us actually be certain of anything? IMO certainty on *any* issue is impossible."

Yep. I tend to agree, Cyber. I'd be wary of total skepticism, though. Seems to be self-refuting.

Quixote said...

anon said: "That's correct, but I still fail to see why it's a problem for me. I'm not the one claiming there's an absolute truth in god."

No, but you were attempting to question the validity of my experience, and I applied the same skepticism to yours.

"And you're still not answering the questions."

I would appreciate it if you would add "to my satisfaction" at the end of this repeated phrase, as in "you're still not answering the questions to my satisfaction." I can live with that, and take no offense to it. But the repeated insinuation that no one is attempting to answer, or are dodging, is absurd.

CyberKitten said...

Quixote said: Yep. I tend to agree, Cyber. I'd be wary of total skepticism, though. Seems to be self-refuting.

That would depend on what you mean by 'total'. A reasonable level of skepticism is the life blood of any informed debate.

Oh, and as far as I know Nietzsche wasn't a Nihilist - actually he worried about the problem of nihilism a great deal if I understand him correctly.

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"No, but you were attempting to question the validity of my experience, and I applied the same skepticism to yours."

I'm not the one claiming that my experience in some way is validated by my beliefs.

"I would appreciate it if you would add "to my satisfaction" at the end of this repeated phrase, as in "you're still not answering the questions to my satisfaction." I can live with that, and take no offense to it. But the repeated insinuation that no one is attempting to answer, or are dodging, is absurd."

Then answer the questions. How do you know that your revelations are true? How do you know they come from god? How do you tell which revelation is true and which is false when coming from different sources? Your "answer" that the Bible is the arbiter is not an actual answer considering that you are relying on revelation to come to that conclusion. It's not an answer because you've simply asserted that your revelation in regards to the Bible is true without explaining how you can know that that revelation or any revelation is true. That is why you aren't answering the question, and why "not to my satisfaction" doesn't cut it. "It just is" is not an answer.

Quixote said...

Cyber said:"A reasonable level of skepticism is the life blood of any informed debate."

amen, cyber :)

Quixote said...

Anon said:"Then answer the questions. How do you know that your revelations are true?"

Yet again, revelation is verifiable through history. This is an answer, even if it is unsatisfactory for you.

CyberKitten said...

Quixote said: amen, cyber :)

Unfortunately atheists tend to think that theists are not skeptical enough, whilst theists tend to think that atheists are just too skeptical - literally for their own good. I don't know such as issue can easily be resolved.

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"Yet again, revelation is verifiable through history. This is an answer, even if it is unsatisfactory for you."

And I will point out to you that the knowledge you gain is through the empirical study of history, not through the revelation. This contradicts your earlier rebuke to me that you were speaking of supernatural knowledge anyway. Are you now claiming that revelation gives you knowledge of the natural?

And, this is NOT what you were claiming before. Before, you claimed that you would verify by using the Bible. I trust that you can see the difference.

Quixote said...

Anon said:"And, this is NOT what you were claiming before."

Not to be pedantic, my anonymous friend, but here's my exact response:

"Once again, how would you ever know that revelation is correct?"

Verifiable historically.

Anon said:"And I will point out to you that the knowledge you gain is through the empirical study of history, not through the revelation."

Nope. The revelation is verified historically. The knowledge that the revelation provides (i.e. Trinity) need not be historical, though it may be in some cases (fall of Jerusalem in AD70).

Karla said...

cyberkitten, I responded to you and it turned into a really long response so I am posting it as a new post to my blog. It addresses a lot of the comments by all but specifically responds to your comments.

Karla said...

Anonymous, I have provided answers, just not to your liking or satisfaction. Please clarify as Quixote suggest on further post if you feel the need to continue to assert thus.

Karla said...

Quixote, I was only asking to see if you could explain further what Kevin was saying in being misrepresented regarding objective morality. I agree that new atheism does maintain objective morality whereas classic atheism did not. Just the same, as Cyberkitten pointed out there are a variety of perspectives on the subject amongst atheists.

I ask so many detailed questions precisely so I don't misrepresent them or anyone else from another worldview out of respect. So I am dismayed when I am told by them I'm misrepresenting them and I try harder with more questions.

I was trying to find out if you saw something I didn't in what Kevin was saying and why. I think I did get that in your answer and I just posted a long comment as a new post.

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
You also said this:
"We are discussing the supernatural, not the natural world. Revelation tells us all sorts of things about the nature of God, the soul, etc. Exactly how would you empirically test the existence of God? Has science a theomometer?"

This is contradictory to what you are saying now. Please make up your mind.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Anonymous, I have provided answers, just not to your liking or satisfaction. Please clarify as Quixote suggest on further post if you feel the need to continue to assert thus."

Sorry, but I will not lie simply because you ask me to.

Karla said...

Revelation can be historically verified when it is about historical events such as the life of Jesus. Or when it foretells events that then come to pass like much of the Old Testament which was written before the events occurred.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Revelation can be historically verified when it is about historical events such as the life of Jesus."

The revelation, however, doesn't actually give you any knowledge. It is the study of history (scientific study) that gives you knowledge. Still, if someone reports history, how is that revelation?

"Or when it foretells events that then come to pass like much of the Old Testament which was written before the events occurred."

I don't think I would be touting this given the known problems with such.

Karla said...

Define revelation in your usage of the word.

Anonymous said...

You are the one claiming that it exists, so you should define it.

And, if it is revelation that Jesus existed, why is that even necessary, considering that you claim you have eye-witness accounts?

Quixote said...

Anon said:"Exactly how would you empirically test the existence of God? Has science a theomometer?"

This is contradictory to what you are saying now. Please make up your mind."

It's not contradictory. Empirically testing the existence of God is not the same as verifying revelation through history.

Anonymous said...

"It's not contradictory. Empirically testing the existence of God is not the same as verifying revelation through history."

Um, yeah, it actually is.

You're claiming in the first comment that revelation tells us things about god's nature and other supernatural things, not natural things. You're also claiming that supernatural things can not be empirically verified, which is what an appeal to history would be.

Karla said...

God has revealed who He is to the world through creation, through the Bible, through demonstrations of healing, power, miracles, prophesy, His manifested presence, etc.

The Bible is one part of special revelation and much of it can be verified historically for it records events as they happened as well as what God says about the people and events recorded. Jesus was the truth/Word of God personified. He was divine revelation Himself and His life can be verified historically as well as experientially today.

We can see the acts of God in history, in individual lives, in miraculous events. We can see evidence of the supernatural at work in the world both good and evil forces. The western world isn't typically open to such things and yet it is so prevalent in other cultures. But America is becoming more open and having a deeper interest in spirituality.

Karla said...

Quixote, any thoughts on the comments transpiring on my last post? Please feel free to join in there.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"The Bible is one part of special revelation and much of it can be verified historically for it records events as they happened as well as what God says about the people and events recorded."

You seem to be confused. Verifiable, historical events aren't revelation. There is no revelation needed for someone to write down something that happened (disclaimer: this does not mean that I subscribe to the notion that the Bible is historically accurate).

As for what god said through revelation, we can't historically verify that.

"He was divine revelation Himself and His life can be verified historically as well as experientially today."

You might be able to verify that Jesus existed, but how will you verify that he was divine? How is the mere existence of Jesus a revelation?