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FAQ and Terms to Know
Replies: 27Last Post Dec. 4, 2009 4:57am by Prince o palities
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( Shuichi  )


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Welcome to Religion and Philosophy! (This thread is getting an extreme makeover.  Bear with us.)

In this thread you will find information about the topics that you might encounter here in the R&P as well as common arguments you'll see and a term list of words that are used here that you may not know.  To begin with...

Please visit the forum guidelines thread to learn about the rules of the forum.

Topics you are likely to find:

Religion

  • Beliefs about God
  • News concerning religion
  • Support for and from those who share your religious beliefs
  • Discussion about, criticism of, and support for different kinds of religion
  • The content and interpretation of scripture

Philosophy

  • The nature of reality  
  • Means of knowing and experiencing the world
  • The reasons for religious belief
  • Criticism and discussion about how people think
  • Criticism and discussion concerning the attributes of God(s)

Ethics

  • How people should live their lives
  • Ways of determining what is right and wrong
  • Criticism of and support for ethical systems
  • Discussion of ethicists

General

  • Knowledgeable members who will try and help with philosophical and religious questions you might have
  • Support from members for your faith
  • A broad range of responses from many perspectives regarding questions about life the universe and everything


Please make sure to see the term list for some specialized terminology you might come across in this forum.

Some common arguments:
Look at these quick overviews of common arguments that are used in this forum or debates that are frequently had.  In doing so, you can avoid common pitfalls that novices make and better articulate your position on issues.

Atheism vs. Theism

Christianity and Islam

Scientific and Ethical Debates

Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics Resources:
Find Internet resources on various religions, philosophers, or ethical issues.

Post edited at 1:15 pm on Aug. 11, 2010 by Prince o palities

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Pascal's Wager

The Argument:

If the Christian God doesn't exist, whether or not you believe you'll rot in the ground when you die. If the Christian God does exist, the believers will get eternal bliss and the nonbelievers get damnation. Wouldn't it be better to believe than to take that chance?

The Counterargument:

There are two problems.

1) The argument assumes that there are only two possibilities: either (A) the Christian God exists or (B) the universe is a cold and godless place and our lives are meaningless. This is a false dichotomy. There are other possibilities. What if Islam is correct?  What if the Buddha was correct?  What if Hinduism is correct?  The diversity of beleifs in the world makes such a "either/or" scenario impossible.  What's more, it precludes yet another option that all men who have ever lived have been wrong and the true is yet unknown.

2) The argument assumes that belief as a form of gambling with God is sufficient for salvation.  Serious consideration of Christian doctrine will suggest to you that it is not.  Only genuine faith results in salvation.

Post edited at 7:24 am on Feb. 22, 2011 by Prince o palities

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Ontological Argument for God

An ontological argument for the existence of God is any argument that tries to prove that God can be known to exist intuitively, that is without any evidence beyond humanity's power of reason. The two most common forms of the argument are given below.

Anselm's Argument:

In his Proslogion, Anselm laid out the first ontological argument for the existence of God.

1. God is something than which nothing greater can be conceived.
2. God can exist, at least in the human mind.
3. It is greater to exist in reality than only in the mind.
4. Therefore, God must exist in reality in order for Him to be "something than which nothing greater can be conceived."

The Counterargument:

Anselm was challenged in his own day by Gaunilo of Marmoutiers who applied Anselm's argument to the existence of a mythical island. He proposed that if one were to conceive of the greatest possible island, that by Anselm's logic, this island must exist in reality. Since such a paradise island clearly did not exist in reality, Anselm's logic must somehow be flawed.

Descartes Argument

Rene Descartes presented multiples forms of the ontological argument in his Meditations.

1. God is by definition a perfect being
2. Perfection has existence as a predicate
3. Therefore God must exist

The Counter Argument

That existence is a predicate has been challenged by such notable philosophers as Immanuel Kant and Bertrand Russell.  Kant pointed out that existence is a grammatical rather than an existential predicate, something which is true or false in reality rather than by definition.  Russell made a similar observation when he equates existence with an instance of a set of defining characteristics rather than part of the definition itself.

Post edited at 7:48 am on Dec. 4, 2009 by Prince o palities

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Empirical Arguments for God

Empirical arguments all derive from observations about the physical world which are then projected into the metaphysical world.

The Argument From Motion:

Thomas Aquinas offered five empical arguments, all of roughly the same type.  His first is the argument from motion. For example:

1. All that moves has a mover
2. All of creation moves
3. Therefore, all of creation must have an ultimate mover (which is assumed to be God)

The Counterargument

Thomas Aquinas built much of his proof on now outdated Aristotelian physics. In contrast, Newton's First Law states that an object will remain in a state of uniform motion with constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force. In theory, a particle could continue to move forever in the vacuum of interstellar space without having to have been nudged by a prime mover. Thus, the first premise is false.

Furthermore, if a deity is assumed to be the prime mover, what moved the deity? Assuming that the answer to this is that the deity does not need a mover, then why does the world?

The Teleological Argument

Also known as the argument from design, the teleological argument is one of the most common modern forms of empircal proofs for the existence of God.  It argues that the apparent design observable in nature requires that a designer be assumed. The argument runs thus:

1. Nature exhibits order
2. That which exhibits order is known to have an orderer
3. The orderer of nature is by definition God
4. Therefore, God exists.

The Counterargument:

David Hume pointed out that this only pushes the question back a step, because one could always point out that, surely, a deity must be much more ordered, complex and fine-tuned than its creation, thus also requiring a cause which in turn would also require a cause and so on ad infinitum. If the designer did not need a designer, then there is no reason to suppose that the world does.

Furthermore, if nature had not been ordered, it would have been disordered and we would not have existed, so it is no surprise that we happen to find ourselves in a world that is ordered. After all, the earth is merely one planet in a galaxy of hundred billion starts and our galaxy is just one of several hundred billion in the visible Universe. The universe consists of over 99.9999999% lethal, radiation-filled vacuum that would kill life instantly.

Post edited at 1:25 pm on Aug. 11, 2010 by Prince o palities

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Argument from Miracles

The Argument:

This argument seeks to prove that God exists on the basis that miracles exist.  Miracles, defined as highly improbable or impossible events without natural explanations, are said to be impossible without the existence of some kind of deity.  The existence of miracles is largely argued on the basis of eye-witness testimony to such supernatural occurrences.

One prominent example of this type of argument is known as the argument from the resurrection.  The argument runs thus:

1. There is historical evidence (in the form of witnesses) that Jesus rose from the dead
2. Resurrection is a miracle only possible if God exists
3. God exists

The Counterargument:

There are two grounds on which arguments from miracles are typically doubted.  The first is the inconsistent nature of the evidence.  Since miracles without scientific explanation are not reproducible in "scientific conditions," that is because miracles cannot be demonstrated in a way that can be documented and studied, the reliability of eyewitness accounts is often doubted.

Additionally, detractors appeal to the inconsistent nature of miracles.  It is noted that miracles are reported by different groups with mutually exclusive views of God.  If miracles are in fact an evidence of God and eye witness accounts are in fact evidence of miracles, than a multiplicity of mutually exclusive deities have been proved.  Since mutually exclusive deities cannot exist, then the argument from miracles must be inherently flawed.

Post edited at 7:23 am on Aug. 10, 2010 by Prince o palities

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Atheism Has No Meaning for Life

The Argument:

The Counterargument:

Post edited at 11:32 am on Jan. 12, 2010 by Prince o palities

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Atheists Have No Morals/Belief System

This is also a fairly ridiculous thing to say. This is often said because the person writing the post seems to think that the only system of belief and morality is their own, and nobody else is capable of having one. This is nonsense, of course. Everyone has some sense of right and wrong except complete sociopaths. Since most non-Christians don't skewer puppies for the sheer unadulterated hell of it, I'm going to assume they aren't all sociopaths. That's right, even the atheists.

As for a belief system... in addition to God, I believe in gravity, chicken and dumplings being delicious, photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide, and a whole host of other things. People can have a sense of right and wrong without a God. "Do unto others" is not exclusive to Christians. Anyone with some degree of empathy can say, "I don't like this done to me, so I won't do it to you."

Conclusion: Total bullshit.

(Edited by Shuichi at 2:16 am on June 4, 2006)

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The Problem of Evil

The Argument

The Counter Argument

Post edited at 7:53 am on Aug. 10, 2010 by Prince o palities

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The Bible says so, therefore it is true

The Argument


The Counter Argument

Post edited at 7:55 am on Aug. 10, 2010 by Prince o palities

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God Loves You

Aww. The touchy feely side of conversion attempts. Far more useful than the full "God loves you. So love back or He'll make you pay!" That's not really giving the image of an unconditionally loving father. For an idea of what you are making God look like, watch the stalker movie Swimfan. Which I have never seen, but I am assuming to be relevant.

Conclusion: I'm not saying don't use this, because as Christian arguments go this (by itself) is a fairly nonoffensive one. I just suggest that you be ready to explain why an all-loving God would have need for a place of eternal torture, because that is going to come up pretty damn quick. Also, the "Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you're an asshole" thing is really funny.

(Edited by Shuichi at 2:43 am on June 4, 2006)

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Everything in My Life Became Better When I Converted. Convert!

Your life doing a 180 when you converted is not proof of a miracle. It is proof of you being capable of turning your own life around when you have a system of morals to fanatically adhere to. The world seems brighter because there is now apparently a meaning to it all, and the shadows seem less shadowy. Bad things that happen, why still bad of course, are not as horrible as they once were because there is a God, there is a plan, and the spaceship is coming! (Strike that very last part. I stole those final thirteen words from the comedy act of Maria Bamford when she talked about cults. I didn't have the heart to change it.)

Conclusion: Unless everyone you know wins the lottery the day after you convert, I'm having a hard time seeing something miraculous going on. "I stopped drinking" is not the kind of thing people usually envision when somebody says miracle. Mostly because atheists are capable of that as well.

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God. Hates. Fags.

Oh, goody. Does He now? This ties into numbers nine and twelve, by the way. First of all, how can an all-loving God hate? Doesn't the capacity for hate kind of defeat the purpose of saying "all loving"? Shouldn't you say somewhat loving, or kinda liking? Secondly, does God hate brunettes? Spaniards? Does he hate other people who are born in a certain way and cannot change what they fundamentally are?

I hate to be the neuroscience guy that comes to tell you this but homosexuality... well, just read number twelve would you?

Conclusion: Nonsensical gibberish. Read twelve. Do it now, or I'll be quite cross.

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Homosexuality is a Choice/Sin

No, it isn't. Homosexuality is a matter of brain chemistry that is predetermined by genetics. Homosexuality is not a sin, because homosexuality is a state of being, not an action. Sin requires that you do something. For example, being a gay person is not any more inherently sinful than being a person. However, by your own religion, rubbing penises together like firestarters is the no-no. Actually, if someone wants to post that interpretation of the original law that only labels it as sinful if you are taking and not giving (because you are taking a woman's role) then that would be ubersweet. Uber. Homosexuality occurs in... what was it, now... 11 animal species at least? Since last I checked humans have free will and swans don't, that means homosexuality is not a choice, and since it happens in nature it is natural. Oh, it can be natural and bad, but don't call it unnatural either.

Conclusion: Sorry, no dice.

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How Can the Universe Always Have Existed?

How can God? Honestly, at least we can prove the universe exists. If you honestly want an answer from this question more thorough than what you'll get on this board, buy a damn book. Have tea with Hawkings or something. Lay on Einstein's grave and hope something seeps in via osmosis. However, this might be seen as avoiding the question. Your argument is that God, by His nature, does not need and does not have a beginning. Great. That's what people are saying about the Universe.

Conclusion: Hated to burst your bubble, but eh...

(Edited by Shuichi at 2:43 am on June 4, 2006)

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I Did NOT Evolve From a MONKEY!

I agree totally. Too bad nobody believes that human beings evolved from monkeys. It is believed that humans and APES (not monkeys, those are two distinct classifications) share a common ancestor. It looks something like this:
                           ____ Humans
Common Ancestor--|
                           ____ Apes
(If that isn't aligned properly... like, fix it or something.)

See how humans didn't come from apes? Neat, huh? Granted, that is extremely oversimplified, but I'm writing this to a target audience that is extremely oversimple.

Conclusion: That is like saying we evolved from a sloth. Shut up.

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