Michael Battalio

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This I Believe (comments on the comments part 2)

        Let’s start from the beginning. This post will only deal with comments from “This I Believe (part 4)” and will thus be rather short. None of the anons had really joined yet, so this was really just a couple of points between myself and Wesley.
        Firstly, no, I don’t really believe in a personal God (as in a God that “…interferes in the physical world for [my] sake.”) anymore. I really want there to be a personal God. I want to believe that there exists an intelligence that if I only hope (pray) hard enough and in the correct way that he will grant me wishes, but this does not seem to be the case. (As an aside and I suppose to see if the anons are back, I’ll will say this: yes, there are some things that are beyond human control [e.g. natural disasters and a lot of other things], but most prayers are for silly things that would be more easily solved if people weren’t as lazy [e.g. oh God, please let me pass this test] or things that if God does exist He probably doesn’t care about [e.g. oh God, please let my foot/base/basketball team win]. If everyone took a bit more personal responsibility, the need for prayers to be answered would be greatly reduced.) Yes, a lot of “miracles” happen, but in the end, I think a lot of those “miracles” will be attributed to our own stupidity and lack of understanding. It seems far more likely that miracles are a lot of chance, coincidence and people taking the initiative to help themselves. Just because I don’t believe in a personal God does not mean I don’t hope there is something greater than myself.
        Secondly, I believe that the primary reason for the continuance of religion is childhood indoctrination. I think that if we let a child develop without religion and then try to teach that child any religion once that child has developed the logical part of the brain, the child would reject it as silly.
        I don’t believe in what Catholicism believes, but I do believe in the institution that is the Church - the “Body of Christ”, the people that make up the church. The Church has a lot of good, decent people that do good works, so while I don’t really espouse many of those beliefs, I do believe in the people. The Church (and when I say that I mean the people of the church) has helped me a great deal. And because of that, I will continue to support Catholicism.
        Wesley is absolutely correct in his summary of my methodology for “minimizing the possibility of ‘accepting things on faith that are wrong’”. Namely:
1. “Figure out as much as you can with reason.
2. Begin believing things for which you have no evidence (or even evidence of likelihood) and call it ‘faith.’”
        I use the all too familiar risk-reward idea. Here are the possibilities. One, God doesn’t exist, but you believe. You die; nothing happens. Two, God doesn’t exist. You don’t believe; nothing happens. Three, God exists. You believe; you live in “paradise” for eternity. Four, God exists. You don’t believe; you suffer in hell for eternity. (In a future post I’ll comment on how I think that if option four is true, then God is a petty, childish megalomaniac.)
Am I, if I were to become a atheist, willing to bet against option four for eternity? No, so I must still force myself to believe even though reasoning tells me it is silly. (I’m sure Wesley and the anons must be exasperated with me now.)
        I’ll end this part with saying that I agree that God seems infinitely improbable, but because we do not know for certain I cannot dismiss the possibility that a God, even a personal God exists. I simply have a difficult time believing that. Moreover, I want a personal God to exist. I want an omnipotent being watching out over me, but it does seems like it is a fairy tale.


mbat said...

Okay comments are back on. I'll just see how this goes in determining if/when comments will be turned off again. Let's remain civil everyone.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 posting...Thanks, mbat, for allowing posts again. Even though I disagree with most everything you post, it has been good to sit back and think about what I have said and what everyone else has said; and I will make a conscious effort to be more civil in my posts; however, if you disagree with me, please take it with a grain of salt, and let it soak into your cognitive processes; I'm not hear to offend, just to relay to you arrogant nonsense that has been filtered to you through pro-atheism and pro-agnostic individuals or entities. Let me first begin by apologizing for being so crude and harsh in previous posts; I assume this will be a new beginning. I have several points I have to make about your latest post, which I believe is total contradictory if you ask me. I will relay to you numbering my points if this is ok...

1. You say you do not believe in a personal God. Ok, if you do not believe in a personal God, then I applaud you for making a stance. I thought you would never come to any conclusion at all. You have finally made a decision, and I must applaud you. However, don't pat yourself on the back so fast. Hoping there is a God will never advance a Christian. We as Christians (and I don't know if you are a Christian or not-only the Lord Himself knows this), state that we know there is a God, simply because we have faith there is a God. We don't hope there is a God. We live as if there is a God, and we accept it and move on as if skepticism is nonsense. If you don't believe in a personal God, then why would you hold out in hope for His existence? It makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever. But this is my take.

2. The continuance of religion is not a childhood indoctrination. Where did you receive this conditioned nonsense? From Wesley, the atheist, I am assuming...Perhaps from an agnostic? I'm not so sure. Hello, mbat, research has shown that children who are reared in religious homes are more likely to have a better sense of values, direction and morals in their lives than children who are not. Sure, some parents go overboard, but many parents allow their children to choose IN their religion. I don't think it's superficial nor illogical to rear a child in a religion as long as the child is not being abused or forced in any way shape or form. Atheists claim that atheists make up a smaller percent of prison populations that their theists counterparts. However, surveys indicate that those who profess no religion are four times more likely to be incarcerated than their Christian counterparts. These data show that religiously indoctrinated youth are much less involved with illegal substances, alcohol abuse, criminal and violent activities, and have fewer problems in school. Dawkins's hypothesis that religious indoctrination is bad for children has been soundly falsified. In fact, those who never attend church or feel that religion is not important display far more symptoms of real child abuse than those who are subject to frequent religious indoctrination. Richard Dawkins's hypothesis that religious teaching of children is a form of child abuse is shown to be scientifically unsupported. In fact, the scientific data shows that exactly the opposite - that adolescents who receive frequent religious instruction behave more appropriately and are better adjusted to adult life in society compared to their non-religious peers. Richard Dawkins's own writings indicate that he himself was the victim of sexual abuse from a priest. Of course he would be angry at the religious authority who abused his power for evil purposes. Maybe this is why Dawkins is so adamant in his opposition to religious belief. However, making up the obviously failed hypothesis that religious instruction amounts to child abuse is not going to convince any except the extremely naive. Scientific data shows that teaching children the moral principles of religion has a positive impact on their behavior, as would be expected intuitively.

Anonymous said...

Continuing from last post...

3. You say you are Catholic, but you don't believe what Catholics believe...You are such a walking hypocrite; you continue to contradict yourself everytime you post something. WHY ARE YOU CATHOLIC THEN IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE WHAT CATHOLICISM TEACHES? Why would you support what the Pope teaches if you disagree with it? Why don't you stop going to church once and for all and stop playing the facade and all the games if you don't believe what you practice? Complete utter ignorance is what I am hearing here...

4. Wesley is not correct in his summary of anything. How can you believe nonsense from a nonsensical atheist? Faith and reason are two totally different entities. You can't reason before you possess faith. It's reasonably illogical, and most scholars of faith would disagree here. There is no use for faith if you are going to reason everything...haven't we gone through this before? You continue to believe the garbage Wesley spews, and you will find yourself on a road to nowhere. Accept that there is a God who is more intelligent than you are! You may have a big problem with humility my friend.

5. For you to say that God is a megalomaniac is complete utter blasphemy. The simple fact you are breathing now is because God has not seen fit to stop your callous heart now. It is so sad to watch as you turn into an atheist. That's where I believe you're headed, unfortunately, but before you have the chance to cut your ties to your Lord and Savior, I will have my say...

Anonymous said...

Continuing again from last post...

And here are some points in my say...

A. You say you want God to exist. the atheist argues.....If somebody would pray to God and God would listen, the laws would change to achieve the desired result. Thus the world would be different and the prayer would never have been said. Besides God would already (in an "above time" sense of view) know that you would pray, and already have changed the world. Prayers would be totally meaningless. We would already live in the best world possible, and any prayer would be to doubt the wisdom of God.......Again, this is a complete lack of understanding of the Christian reason for prayer. Prayer is communication with God. Communication is a two way conversation, not a monologue of telling God what to do. If Christians were perfect, every prayer would be answered because we would always be within the will of God. However, as most people are well aware, Christians are not perfect and often pray against God's will. God will not do anything against His will and therefore will not grant our selfish requests. I could pray that God would let me win the lottery (if I played it). However, God knows that I would become greedy, buy all kinds of computers and gadgets, and ignore Him. It is in my best interest that I remain middle class (it might even be better for my spiritual life if I become poor - I hope not!). The main problem is that we are stupid and selfish creatures, and we certainly don't really know what is best for us. However, God, being omniscient, does know what is best for us in every facet of our lives. Therefore, the purpose of prayer is not to tell God what to do, but to be conformed to the will of God. Meditate on this, mbat.

B. Atheism is nonsense; Christianity is logical if you would take the time to meditate on its power and usefulness in the world today. The God of the Koran and Hindu Vedas are Gods restricted to the time and space dimensions of this universe and, therefore, are logically impossible. In addition, most of these books contain scientific absurdities. All the so-called holy books base their claim of authority on the basis of fulfilled prophecy. Most of these prophecies are either vague or conditional, making them essentially untestable. The highest percentage of prophecy fulfillment, other than the Bible is 50%, with many other prophecies proven to be false. In contrast, the Bible names people, places and dates in remarkable detail, with 2,000 of the nearly 2,500 prophecies already fulfilled, and none provably false. The remaining prophecies are reserved for the end-times, which have yet to have happened. I absolutely agree with atheists who say that many atrocious things have been done in the name of God, even in the name of Christianity. However, these atrocities were not perpetrated by God, but by evil human beings. Remember the words of Jesus:
"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:22-23)
Not all who claim the name of Jesus are actually His disciples. My guess is that in even the best of Christian churches only about half of the people truly are Christians. Christianity should be judged on the basis of what Jesus said and did, not on the basis of what people do who merely claim to be Christians.

Anonymous said...

And finally, a continuation from the last post again...

C. You should read something, mbat...Vox Day (pen name for Theodore Beale) has written a relatively new book The Irrational Atheist, which takes on authors Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything). Day, a gaming programmer and member of Mensa, is simply brilliant in his analysis of the writings of the new atheists. For the most part, Vox Day sticks to dissecting the logic and sources atheists use to support their new "theology." However, on occasion, he lashes out with some humorous personal attacks. One gets the impression Day gets extremely frustrated with the antics of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens and just wants to slap them upside the head to knock some sense in there. There are a few occasions where Day goes way over the top, so keep that in mind as you are reading. Day's purpose in writing The Irrational Atheist is:
(in his own words) "...I am confident that I will convince you that this trio of New Atheists, this Unholy Trinity, are a collection of faux-intellectual frauds utilizing pseudo-scientific sleight of hand in order to falsely claim that religious faith is inherently dangerous and has no place in the modern world." This is a great book, mbat. You should read it to Wesley!

D. To sum up this post, mbat, you are being brainwashed, and the atheists are winning...however, you won't get me to shut up...One line of attack by skeptics and scoffers concerning attempts to show the compatibility of the Bible, truth and science, is to assert that belief is incompatible with reason. Since we must accept the Bible not based solely on our own personal experience, but also by trusting in the fundamental truths of the Bible, the attack hits close to home. The attack usually includes quotes indicating that our "science" is "ends driven," meaning that if the result fits with our biblical view of things, then we accept it as truth, and if it does not, we call it bogus or soft-science. This line of attack has merit because it is partially true. However, it falls apart, or more accurately, the falsity surrounding the core of truth melts away, when put under the bright light of reason. When we make our judgments, accepting or rejecting things based on our sense, we label them. One thing is true, another is false. One thing is good; another is very bad. Something makes sense; another is bogus. We have a memory, so as we gain experience, we fit things together. One thing is true because another is true; another cannot be true, because it conflicts with what I know to be true. And on and on. The Bible tells us about things outside our experience. Nobody, born in our lifetime, walks on water or rises from the grave on the third day. So in order to accept the Bible, we must bridge the gap between what we know or believe, and what we trust. And that bridge is not reason; it is faith. But the Bible also does not ask us to build the bridge without a foundation, which is knowledge. Therefore, I believe that reason is not the enemy of trust; it is an essential part of the foundation. It follows, of course, that the foundation should be solid, not made of falsehoods or clever stories that melt away. It must include the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. Our foundation of knowledge also includes what we believe to be true from science and from the Word of God. Sometimes, what science in its day thought was true turned out to be bogus. Sometimes what believers in their day thought was biblical truth, has turned out to be bogus.

Ok, I hope I haven't been to harsh, but this is what I felt inclined to write. Please respond

Anonymous said...

Okay, since you are so adamant about the possibility of possibly becoming an atheist, then at least, you should look and answer these questions before you proceed with your decision: If you are stumped by any, then odds are you are not ready to become an atheist/agnostic...


1. How do atheists avoid ethical relativism in their explanations relating to a non-deity existence?

2. If you become atheist, on what specific higher authority or absolute do you base your morals?

3. If you are Catholic and attend mass each week, and you are leaning toward atheism, what is the point in attending mass? It is a show, or do you desire to receive attention because of your so-called talents in church?

4. Carbon-dating denialism? What do you say about carbon dating being accurate? It's not in my opinion. Most atheists believe otherwise. How do you explain this?

5. If there is no Creator, then how was everything created? (Creation implies a creator, but by definition a Creator is someone who creates)

6. How do you know that there is no life on other planets? (Boy, I would love to hear your answer on this one, especially Wesley's---if you can answer this one intelligently, you may be somewhat believable, but I doubt you can)

7. What do you believe that you can't prove?

Look forward to your answers, atheists, or wannabe atheists!

Ted said...

Wow, that's a lot of typing. Here's hoping that civilization wins out in this discussion. I realize that mBatt has already posted a response to these. All the same, here is mine.

1. I agree with you that hoping there is a God is essentially pointless. I think there are two major reasons why I still believe that there is a God. The first is obviously that it is what I was taught as a child. There's simply no way to get around the indoctrination argument, but there's also no way NOT to indoctrinate kids. They are wholly indoctrinable. The second is that I have evidence from my life that suggests to me that there is a positive force in the universe. Having said that, I do not claim to believe in the well-defined god of any particular religion, because no particular definition of God has yet been revealed to me. The fact that I refer to this positive force as "God" does not mean that it is the Christian god, but simply that it is a convention to which I am accustomed.

2. As I said above, there is no way around the childhood indoctrination argument. Every parent indoctrinates their child with his or her beliefs. It makes evolutionary sense. We as humans have, through our own effort, evolved ourselves away from the need for instincts. Few other animals are born as defenseless and ignorant as humans. Parents must train children to be adults, and the only tools they have to train them are their own behaviors and beliefs. No reasonable parent would teach their child to believe something they themselves did not.

I recommend that when you say “scientific data” that you back it up with some citations. We’re intellectual people, and we don’t mind seeing footnotes and/or links to articles that back up any claims made.

3. As far as the “being Catholic without necessarily believing Catholic” thing goes, I’m in the same boat as mBatt. To me, “church” is the people around you, not what you do on Sunday. I love the people in the Catholic Church. They are my family, and you don’t just walk away from your family because they don’t believe exactly what you believe. If I did that I would be completely alone, because frankly I don’t know of anyone else who believes exactly as I do. Church is comfortable. Church is a place to get away from the stress of life. Church is home.

4. It seems like you were trying to compact a whole lot of thought into a few concise sentences here, because it doesn’t make much sense. If you would elaborate on this I may be able to enter into a discussion about it. One thing I will say though is that if you hold true the belief that God created Man in His image, that is to say, a mortal copy of an immortal being, how is God more intelligent? I would agree that God, being timeless, would have more experience, but if God has more intelligence, then his human creations are inferior to him, thus not “in His image.” Thoughts?

5. The “God as megalomaniac” argument is silly. Megalomania is an entirely human concept, as Lord Acton and Niccolo Machiavelli would tell you. Ascribing human traits to a non-human entity is foolish. Also, accusations of blasphemy typically have bearing only when the blasphemer bears allegiance to the blasphemed.

Perhaps I’ll save A-D for another day.

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