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wellnamed last won the day on June 26 2018

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About wellnamed

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  • Birthday 05/05/1982

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    New Mexico
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    religion, mysticism, sociology, anthropology, science, technology, and etc
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    I am classified as a meat-popsicle

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    le poulet rôti

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  1. Despite the fact that the N.T. proclaims that no one knows when, it's still clearly the case that the biblical texts contain this eschatological view of time, that there's a linear flow of events leading inexorably towards a conclusion. And I also think people intuitively grasp that it's a bit awkward to have that expectation sort of floating out there in space for thousands of years, when Jesus seemed to imply that it would be much shorter (e.g. Matthew 24:34). So I think that's important background that primes people to think in those terms. It's easy for people to think "the end must be soon" and so on. And then you add the fact that people are often attracted to secret knowledge, searching for patterns, and so on and it's not surprising that there's some subset of Christians that get obsessed with end-times prophecy. If Christianity didn't contain that background expectation then they'd probably just get obsessed with some other idea that allowed them to exercise those same tendencies, like people who become interested in bible codes, or things like that.
  2. wellnamed


    nit: It's not logic that dictates that, it's experience I think your general point about the need to consider which explanations are more parsimonious (or abductively more likely) is good, and the recent conversations reminded me of this as well.
  3. wellnamed

    Given your options

    Granted that apparently he was inviting people to debate, but their terms of service say: We do not "argue" with nor do we solicit the membership of people who espouse secular or cultic ideologies. We believe that our conversations are to be faith building and posts that advance heretical or apostate thinking will be immediately deleted and the poster permanently banned from the forum. This is a Christian community for people to explore the traditional theologies of Classical Protestantism. Those who would challenge the peace and harmony that we enjoy here as fellow believers are directed to another website. Seems like something they'd have to clarify before I barged in
  4. wellnamed

    Given your options

    I sort of randomly stumbled upon this blog from Scientific American today (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-wrong-should-you-be/) and part of it reminded me a bit of that explanation of healing, and the problem with ad hoc explanations: Here another answer comes from cognitive science, in a paper by Samuel Gershman of Harvard University titled “How to Never Be Wrong.” In the paper Gershman considers the problem of auxiliary hypotheses. The idea is that any given theory comes with a set of undisclosed assumptions, which can protect the core theory from being disproved. For example, the seven-day creation story of Genesis is at odds with the fossil record. So if you accept the fossil record, do you have to forfeit Genesis? Nope. All you have to do is note that a “day” doesn’t have to be 24 hours—especially not if God hasn’t created the sun and moon yet. The definition of day is merely an auxiliary hypothesis of the core theory that God created the world. Such auxiliary hypotheses form a “protective belt” around the core theory, deflecting contrary evidence from pesky one-offs, such as a handful of really old rocks, while leaving the main argument unscathed. But never being wrong isn’t an especially good thing. To the contrary, being wrong is important because it is the first step on the way to being right. If you’re never wrong, you never learn anything you didn’t already know. So whether you’re taking a test from the Laser Guy or reconsidering your slate of metaphysical tenets, getting a few answers wrong is like salting a meal: a little bit makes the whole thing better, just don’t take it too far.
  5. wellnamed

    Given your options

    I think that's probably about right grammatically (as far as a translation), but I expect someone is trying to make too much of the different verb tenses. English does allow for a continuous present tense using a participle and some form of the verb to be, as you said: "We are being healed". But you wouldn't conclude purely from grammar that such a sentence implied that the healing never ends The grammar allows for it to some extent but I think people present what are fundamentally interpretive decisions as grammatical ones because presenting them as a consequence of grammar makes them seem more authoritative.
  6. wellnamed

    Given your options

    I've seen this stance before, although not all Christians accept it. From an outside perspective the most glaring problem with it is just that it's very ad hoc, a very "just so" explanation. From an internal Christian perspective the problem is that the justification for God ceasing to heal miraculously is pretty weak. It's clearly working backwards from the apparent lack of healings to find some explanation which could harmonize with biblical accounts of healing. Actually I guess that's the same complaint both times. It's noteworthy that this explanation is ad hoc regardless of whether or not you grant any authority to scripture.
  7. wellnamed


    Other than (perhaps) the "for shits and giggles" throwaway line, that seems like an entirely reasonable topic to me.
  8. wellnamed

    Given your options

    I tend to prefer discussions to debates but the same ideas probably apply, except maybe the expectation that it's about changing people's minds? But I also suppose my criteria for participation is whether or not I find something interesting and not whether I think it fulfills some other purpose I would definitely have given up on internet message boards a long time ago if I thought the goal was to change people's minds on anything. I think it's clear though that people do change their minds about all kinds of things, it's just that it usually happens slowly over time rather than some eureka moment as the result of a single interaction. So maybe I should say "if the goal was to change people's minds in an immediately visible way". That's probably especially true dealing with something like religious belief, where it involves really fundamental aspects of a person's worldview, the kind that we tend to take for granted. Christians may have trouble communicating with non-Christians not just because they're socialized into obedience and conformity but also because those conversations involve challenging ideas we tend to take as a given. Christforums described belief in the existence of God as axiomatic, for example. I think the belief functions that way for a lot of people, it's just something that seems self-evident given their socialization. Maybe the difference between "obedience" and "socialization" is like six of one and half dozen of another but I think it's worth remembering that those socialization processes are inescapable for all of us. It's not really some special failing of Christians that they have unchallenged or naive beliefs which they take mostly for granted. That's kind of the default state. One of the fun things about having discussions with people with very different beliefs is that those conversations make those assumptions stand out more, providing opportunities to actually interrogate them and think about them more deeply. If you take broadening of intellectual horizons as a humanist goal then this is pretty useful, so much so that you could call it another potentially useful purpose for debate. Notwithstanding the fact that people are often bad at taking advantage of the opportunity
  9. wellnamed

    Given your options

    I don't think this quite exhausts the list of reasons why one might choose to debate. I might debate a topic even when I expect that neither myself nor my interlocutors are likely to change our minds, if... - I think I might learn something new (even if it doesn't change my overall perspective). - I'm interested in understanding better how other people think about the topic, or in trying to understand more precisely where I think they are wrong - I'm interested in refining my ability to present a particular type of argument, or in figuring out better ways to communicate my view on the topic - I'm interested in presenting information which others might find useful (not necessarily the people debating)
  10. wellnamed

    Given your options

    I don't think this thread is even particularly hostile, but I also think it might be too much to expect no hostility. It's an interesting question though, about what the goal ought to be. It's an interesting idea that there is value to having an active Lion's Den for the benefit of demonstrating arguments against Christianity. I'm not sure everyone would agree with that though. Or, it's not clear whether that's preferable to just letting people ask questions about Christian arguments they are troubled by, no Christians needed? I can understand why some people are more hostile than others just in terms of how traumatic their deconversions were, or how recent. I could understand how some might find value in an active Lion's Den while others might prefer that the whole site is a space where they are free from dealing with Christians. I'm not sure there's any right answer, so my default would just be to let people decide for themselves, including being pretty tolerant of some open hostility towards Christians.
  11. wellnamed

    Given your options

    It's not the only consideration, but it's one that I find reasonably important. For example I would argue that there are theological constructions and views about a properly Christian way of life which would be easier to sustain if there was actually good evidence for something like the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. To be clear, there are also a great many theological and historical claims which I think are unsustainable regardless of the above. How one evaluates the likelihood of a virgin birth, a resurrection from the dead, or a great flood doesn't depend much on how Christians act, either now or historically. But if one is motivated by an ideal of union with a God of love and personal transformation in the Spirit of God then the reality of how Christians live is more directly relevant.
  12. wellnamed

    Given your options

    This is nitpicky but I think it's OK to call it a choice. Although I know what you mean, i.e. I think you mean that it's a choice which is compelled by the strength of the evidence (or lack thereof). It's not an arbitrary choice or a simple matter of subjective preference. It's a decision which we believe to be justified. We choose to disaffiliate from various religious groups, or to cease certain religious practices, or to disavow certain beliefs for good reasons. But I also think some people choose to continue their affiliations, practices and beliefs in many cases long after they have acceded to the intellectual arguments against them. I say that because I think you could count me as such a case. But we find ways to make that work, i.e. by shifting to more symbolic interpretations or more mystical ones. Basically there's enough room to maneuver that it is possible to find ways to continue in religious belief or practice even under those conditions. There really is a choice involved in going beyond the intellectual acknowledgement to a change in one's way of life or worldview. So I think it's OK to call disaffiliation a choice, or atheism a choice, in that sense. It's just not an arbitrary one. I don't see a reason to implicitly accept the premise that the only good choice could be faith. It's also interesting to me that it might make clear that there are multiple facets to it. There's the purely intellectual questions about things like the existence or characteristics of a deity, but there's also the choice to reject communities of believers for various reasons. I always thought for example that one of the best arguments against Christianity was the line in the Gospel of John that people will know Jesus' disciples because of their love for one another. I found that hard to reconcile with my actual experiences of Christians even as a Christian, and it's an example of a reason to be skeptical of the religion that has nothing to do with arguments about the existence of God.
  13. wellnamed

    How did you choose your nickname?

    It was aspirational, really.
  14. wellnamed

    Definitions of Spirituality

    I think one of the goals of the authors is to try to find out exactly what people do mean by "spiritual", in order to see patterns across the variety of usages. You can gain interesting insights into the world that way, although maybe it's mostly of academic interest.
  15. wellnamed

    Definitions of Spirituality

    I'll have to read the actual article, but from the abstract one thing that seems curious to me is: what is "spiritual" adding to "ethical" in the category of "ethical spirituality"? Is it something to do with notions about the source of moral truths, some belief about the way reality is such that certain ethical precepts are justified? Because otherwise it's not entirely clear to me how being ethical in a spiritual way is different from just being ethical. Like I expect that my moral beliefs are very similar to someone in the US who would describe themselves as an ethical spiritualist. I think we'd similarly talk about human dignity, compassion, love, etc (arguably one of the most useful aspects of the whole "made in the image of God" idea, despite the lack of consistent application...). I just don't tend to think of my ethical commitment to those ideals as spiritual. I've always tended more towards the non-theistic/pantheistic natural transcendence style of spirituality, and have tended not to care very much for religious or quasi-religious approaches to ethics, so the above may just reflect my own biases