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Old 07-26-2009, 01:27 AM   #65
Samuel Dravis
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Originally Posted by Achilles View Post
I'm not sure why you're introducing "magical". Supernatural is both accurate and sufficient.

Perhaps you could help me understand the ways in which belief in a supernatural being is not superstitious?
Certainly. I looked up "superstition" in the dictionary, and found that a Christian's beliefs need not fit the description (though they obviously can). That was where my list of "doesn't-have-to's" came from, actually.

Every claim regarding the judeo-christian god I've ever heard contains some element that is considered "nature-defying". Omnipotence and omnipotence seems like pretty "nature-defying" attributes to me.
Only if you consider those things to be against nature, which to a Christian they would not necessarily be. As in my example, the omnipotence thing can be explained as merely the result of the sort of being that God is, just as my ability to walk is the result of my being a human being that is reasonably fit. Neither of these can be called unnatural by any stretch of the imagination.

"Fear of god" is not a requirement for superstition.
See above.

Because god cannot be ruled out does not mean that we have good reasons for accepting that he/she/it does exist. Therefore accepting such a claim would be to do so from a position of ignorance.
If it were to go as you describe, sure, you're quite correct. But few people believe in God because evidence leads them to it. In fact, I do not think any evidence would be sufficient to prove God's existence. From what I can tell, the story goes: Get born, learn about God from your parents, sunday school, friends, see Jesus on the wall, pray over the table and before you go to bed, etc etc. In none of these activities resides the action of "looking to make sure God's there" or anything like it.

And then look at the sort of thing which usually facilitates conversions later on in life. Spiritual crisis, loss of family members, despair at being a good person / over addictions, etc. These also do not involve examination of physical evidence, but a "change of the heart". I think it's interesting that none of the writers in the Bible ever tried to prove God's existence philosophically; indeed, there's a defense of faith of sorts by Paul in Acts 22 which shows a method of justification extremely far from modern natural theology. Kierkegaard is an interesting read on the subject of despair and faith, and I recommend his "The Sickness Unto Death."

So, my understanding of the question, in its natural environment, is that it is not empirical, and given modern Christianity, necessarily so; if there is no possible difference in evidence between two options, then appeals to a decision based on which side has the most evidence are nonsensical. The statement "God exists" effectively turns into an attitude towards life and declaration of the way the believer will go about living. Interpreting it strictly as an empirical statement is to ignore the whole surroundings within which the belief was formed and given meaning. Paul's conversion and faith did not consist of "I didn't believe [that Japan is on the other side of the world] and now I do"; instead, it was "I will change my entire life."

Given this, your criticism is too limited to address the normal reasons for believing that a normal Christian might have, and for some people it may not address any of their reasons at all. It also would mean that belief in Christianity does not require a position of ignorance, since knowledge of evidence or proofs does not necessarily come into play.

Nietzsche provides criticisms of Christianity that could be effective in ways the empirical criticism is not, but they (from my limited reading, and I assure you it's very limited) seem to work mostly by persuasion, not "brute force" logic. Perhaps Jonathan7 could comment on those; I know he's read more of Nietzsche than I have.

My main point, however, was only that I disagreed with Skinwalker over his use of "superstition" as a necessary component to Christianity. I'm sure the two coexist quite well most places.

Last edited by Samuel Dravis; 07-26-2009 at 04:36 AM.
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