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Santa and God: The Nature of Belief

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posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 07:52 AM
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Originally posted by Titen-Sxull
reply to post by spinechilling
 


God is contingent as Benevolent Heretic explained and there is no evidence to suggest that any god(s) exist.



Our epistemic situation does not permit us to think that, if God existed then we would expect to have evidence sufficient to know that he does: (1) the fleeting nature of evidence shows that our epistemic situation is volatile according to time and place (contra the Evidence Expectation Criterion(If an object O existed, then we would expect there to be evidence for it.)); and (contra the Knowledge Expectation Criterion(If there were evidence of object O, then we would expect to have knowledge of the evidence.)) (2) the noetic effects of sin distort evidence toward our selfish ends; (3) the unreasonably high epistemic standards atheists apply toward theistic proofs; and (4) God may hide himself in response to attempts to divorce propositional knowledge of God with a life-transforming, personal relationship with him.




posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 08:47 AM
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Originally posted by ka119
Agreed. We, as human beings, need to have an answer to everything. It scares us when we dont, we hate the fact that there still may be some unknown out there, hence the perfect, impervious answer. God.


I don't know how many atheists experienced what I did, but when I first started seriously doubting the existence of God, it was VERY scary to think that there might not be a God. I felt alone and on my own... (couldda used one of those buses then. LOL) But over the years, it has become quite empowering to admit that I don't believe in it and I don't believe that we need the answers to everything. We DON'T need to know where we're from and we DON'T need to know where we're going. Living in the present is the best thing I can do for myself and others. Not knowing what happens when we die and admitting that I don't know, is a very powerful position, I find. I'm very comfortable here now. It also helps me in other areas of life where it's impossible to know an answer.

reply to post by eight bits
 


It makes logical sense to me. And the story of the biblical God makes no sense to me.


Originally posted by spinechilling
If people were to have invented the God of Christianity, it is unlikely that it would be the demanding God of the Bible.


Just the opposite is true, in fact. The bible has been manipulated and translated over the years, by those with an interest, to become a means of control. A demanding, spiteful God is just what is needed to keep the people in line (or so they thought).

Also, giving God the credit for everything (a bountiful harvest) leads to 'blaming' God for the next year's crop failure, for example. When people attribute life's happenings to God, then we end up not taking credit OR responsibility for things that happen. It's a very un-empowering position, IMO. The ultimate victim position. God MUST be a spiteful God if he sends a flood to wipe out all the animals and people... God MUST be demanding if he will send us to burn in a fiery hell forever... It keeps us in line.
(Supposedly)



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 09:04 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Not being a moron, she will see that a "belief" which she dumped as soon as she had the physical ability to do so cannot possibly be "indistinguishable" from a belief that she has retained, or remained open about, as have most of the people whom she knows. She has, in fact, distinguished the two "beliefs" by discarding the one and not the other.


I AM that girl. I was not on my own in deciphering my beliefs. My parents (not to mention society) played a huge part. They told me the story of Santa, but they took me to church at least 3 times per week my entire youth to indoctrinate me with the story of Jesus/God, etc. They didn't do that with Santa. So, when I started doubting Santa, I asked my parents if Santa was real. And they answered, "No... You're old enough to know the truth. Santa is not real."

I had the SAME doubts about Jesus/God, but when I asked the same questions, and MANY questions over the years, they emphatically enforced that he was REAL, and disapproved of my doubting. The reason I retained my belief in Jesus/God was that I was indoctrinated each week with the story, the threats and the promises that they believed. I never was 'indoctrinated' with my belief in Santa, so it was easy to toss by the wayside.

THAT'S the difference.

It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I started asking the questions again, and this time, I didn't ask my parents.

edit on 12/15/2010 by Benevolent Heretic because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 01:25 PM
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reply to post by spinechilling
 


Absence of evidence cannot become evidence of existence. While I certainly acknowledge the possibility of god(s) existing without evidence to distinguish them from the imaginary there is no reason to hold the belief. Santa and God have an equal amount of evidence - NONE. Someone could easily insert any magical being into your post in place of God and get the same results. Finding a loophole by which God MIGHT exist isn't the same as producing sufficient evidence to justify the belief.



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 02:07 PM
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reply to post by Benevolent Heretic
 


What I meant by demanding is that Christianity is one of the few if not the only religion/faith which says salvation come solely as a gift from God - it cannot be earned through human effort i.e. good works.



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 02:11 PM
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reply to post by Titen-Sxull
 


The problem with that comparison is that, while our epistemic situation regarding God doesn’t always satisfy the Evidence Expectation and Knowledge Expectation Criteria, our epistemic situation regarding leprechauns and Santa Claus does — we can, and do, disprove them all the time; it’s just that there are few, if any, people arguing for their existence so we’re never called upon to give those reasons. If Santa existed we should expect to see, but don’t, lots of evidence of that fact, including warehouses at the North Pole, a large sleigh, and so forth. If there were more people today who made a case for Santa Claus then it would be entirely appropriate for us to enter into dialogue with them, giving reasons for their non-existence.



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 02:24 PM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic

Originally posted by ka119
Agreed. We, as human beings, need to have an answer to everything. It scares us when we dont, we hate the fact that there still may be some unknown out there, hence the perfect, impervious answer. God.


I don't know how many atheists experienced what I did, but when I first started seriously doubting the existence of God, it was VERY scary to think that there might not be a God. I felt alone and on my own... (couldda used one of those buses then. LOL) But over the years, it has become quite empowering to admit that I don't believe in it and I don't believe that we need the answers to everything. We DON'T need to know where we're from and we DON'T need to know where we're going. Living in the present is the best thing I can do for myself and others. Not knowing what happens when we die and admitting that I don't know, is a very powerful position, I find. I'm very comfortable here now. It also helps me in other areas of life where it's impossible to know an answer.


I totally agree. We do not need to know everything. We need to accept the fact that we dont, and never will. Itll make life a hell of a lot better for all of us.



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 02:31 PM
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reply to post by spinechilling
 




we can, and do, disprove them all the time;


The same thing can be argued of God(s) in some capacity. For instance, we can disprove Zeus, we can disprove Odin and we can disprove the Biblical God Yahweh. Specific God(s) are disprovable - the problem with disproving all god(s) is that the term is nebulous, there are many definitions of what would constitute a god.

My point was that in order to entirely disprove the existence of anything you need to possess all the knowledge in the entire Universe. So while we may be able to disprove the existence of Leprechauns here on Earth we don't know that they don't exist somewhere else in the Universe. The same goes for God.

Disproving the Biblical God is quite easy and is done ALL THE TIME, as you stated for Leprechauns and Santa. For instance the Biblical God was claimed to live in the heavens, somewhere in the sky, we went up into the air and didn't see any evidence of him. The same goes for Santa when we went to the North Pole and found no evidence of him. There have also been plenty of logical points disproving an All Powerful God, such as Epicurus talking about the problem of Evil.



If Santa existed we should expect to see, but don’t, lots of evidence of that fact, including warehouses at the North Pole, a large sleigh, and so forth.


I would argue that, with the Biblical God at least, we would expect to see evidence as well. If a God is interacting in some real way with the tangible world that would have a measurable effect and wouldn't be quantifiable as an aspect of nature itself. For instance - Prayer would work, we'd see peer reviewed documentation of people regrowing whole limbs miraculously without medical treatment. We don't see any evidence of Yahweh and if the Bible is any indication of who Yahweh is I'm very thankful that we don't see such a being since he is a vile and evil god.

There are God(s) that cannot be disproved however, such as the Deist god, the sort that cannot be known and do not interact with the world. Which is why agnostic-atheists such as myself have very little quarrel with agnostic-theists.



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 03:06 PM
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Originally posted by Titen-Sxull
reply to post by spinechilling
 




we can, and do, disprove them all the time;


The same thing can be argued of God(s) in some capacity. For instance, we can disprove Zeus, we can disprove Odin and we can disprove the Biblical God Yahweh. Specific God(s) are disprovable - the problem with disproving all god(s) is that the term is nebulous, there are many definitions of what would constitute a god.

My point was that in order to entirely disprove the existence of anything you need to possess all the knowledge in the entire Universe. So while we may be able to disprove the existence of Leprechauns here on Earth we don't know that they don't exist somewhere else in the Universe. The same goes for God.

Disproving the Biblical God is quite easy and is done ALL THE TIME, as you stated for Leprechauns and Santa. For instance the Biblical God was claimed to live in the heavens, somewhere in the sky, we went up into the air and didn't see any evidence of him. The same goes for Santa when we went to the North Pole and found no evidence of him. There have also been plenty of logical points disproving an All Powerful God, such as Epicurus talking about the problem of Evil.



Firstly Zeus and Odin as they are described as existing within the universe. The God of the bible however is said to transcend both time and space "Behold, heaven and the highest heavens cannot contain Thee..." (1 Kings 8:27)
"The Almighty is beyond our reach." (Job 37:23)

Secondly the problem of Evil is certainly the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of God. However As a Christian theist, I’m persuaded that the problem of evil, terrible as it is, does not in the end constitute a disproof of the existence of God. On the contrary, in fact, I think that Christian theism is man’s last best hope of solving the problem of evil.



posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 09:09 AM
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B H


It makes logical sense to me. And the story of the biblical God makes no sense to me.

That's a fine reason for you to reach the conclusion that you did.

But people differ in what ideas make at least some sense to them. That's no reason for you to believe as they do, but it cuts both ways. That a story makes no sense to you is no reason for someone else not to believe it, if it makes some sense to them.

I understand what you'e saying about indoctrination in the other post. We can agree that that isn't the right thing for parents to do to their children. I wonder in some cases how the parents could possibly imagine that such an approach would advance their case, much less how they would justify doing such things, even if that did somehow advance their case.


T-S


For instance, we can disprove Zeus, we can disprove Odin ...

Tell me more. I happen not to believe in either of them, but couldn't disprove them. At best, I could show that a certain conception of them is untenable, or maybe that two different specific stories about them cannot both be literally true.

But, I can do that much for light, and I believe that light exists. It's just that in some deep sense, when we talk about light, we still don't know what we're talking about. Ditto gods, I suspect.


My point was that in order to entirely disprove the existence of anything you need to possess all the knowledge in the entire Universe.

There is no drawing of a square whose diagonal's length is a rational multiple of its perimeter, nor any drawing of circle whose diameter's length is a rational multiple of its circumference.

There are two. That was easy.

I think you have confused the unavailability of one strategy for doing a proof with the impossibility of proof by any inferential strategy at all.


Disproving the Biblical God is quite easy and is done ALL THE TIME, as you stated for Leprechauns and Santa.

Really? All I ever see about the Biblical God is brave talk. Maybe you have a link. Also, Leprechauns are folklore figures. I have never actually encountered an ontological claim on their behalf, so I am unsurprised that I have never encountered a "disproof" of a claim that isn't made.


For instance the Biblical God was claimed to live in the heavens, somewhere in the sky, we went up into the air and didn't see any evidence of him.

I thought we were discussing the Christian God. He doesn't live in the sky. He is omnipresent according to the Christian doctrine, and eternal, so, outside of time and space. Spinechilling has already provided some citations on point.

It would be sad to think you're an atheist simply because you're looking for God in all the wrong palces
.
edit on 16-12-2010 by eight bits because: a Leprechaun made me do it



posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 08:44 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 




He doesn't live in the sky.


Perhaps you don't know what the word heaven means. It is widely reported in the Bible that God's physical being is located in heaven or in the heavens. God is often identified as being omnipresent but obviously this isn't meant physically. God descends in numerous scriptures (descending on Mount Sinai, descending in 1st Thessalonians 4:16) and Jesus is said to have ascended into Heaven.

The modern interpretation is that Heaven is another dimension of existence, a spiritual plane of being but I've seen nothing suggesting the authors of the Bible meant it that way.



There is no drawing of a square whose diagonal's length is a rational multiple of its perimeter, nor any drawing of circle whose diameter's length is a rational multiple of its circumference.


That's mathematics and geometry. I was talking about a different kind of claim. It is one thing to make a claim about math and another in entirely to claim that Bigfoot, Leprechauns or god(s) exist.

As for the Biblical God logic itself is often such a beings weakness. I already mentioned Epicurus and his argument about evil. There are also paradoxes that can be brought up, such as the old favorite "Can God build a rock that is so big he cannot lift it?". What about when a Christian's fervent prayer goes unanswered, despite Jesus's indication that its as simple as ask and receive? What about the complete lack of scientific evidence for events in the Bible? And the vast number of Biblical stories that are impossible and go against known fact such as the Great Flood, the creation in Genesis, the existence of a firmament, the tower of Babel (disproved by linguists), talking animals, etc etc - all have been disproved. This God is meant to be raising the dead and healing the sick, with the help of his Christian servants, we don't see much of that do we? How many news stories about parents relying on prayer who end up killing their kids do we have to see? Add onto all of that the self-contradictory nature of the Bible, the piece-mail way in which it was stitched together and the evils done in the name of this God with NO response from Him and any logical person would conclude Yahweh probably doesn't exist.

Having been raised a fundamentalist Christian I spent plenty of time looking for God and looking for answers but in the end admitting uncertainty is far more intellectually honest IMO.

reply to post by spinechilling
 


The issue of evil started for me very early on when I was a Christian, it gnawed at me for years as I tried to live a good Christian life. The Bible offered no answers and when I asked my fellow believers where evil came from them kept referring me to ambiguous scriptures about Lucifer that didn't help at all.

So let me see if I can finally get an answer: What is the origin of Evil?

If God is all-powerful and purely good where did Evil come from?



posted on Dec, 17 2010 @ 03:47 AM
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Perhaps you don't know what the word heaven means.

Actually, I do. But I also know that a poet will use figurative langauge to describe the ineffable. If you find somebody who's a Bible literalist, then I am sure they'll be very impressed with whatever quotes you may find. The rest of us simply don't read poems that way.


That's mathematics and geometry.

So what? You made a univeral statement, and I gave a counterexample. Make a new statement if you like, but discussion of that one is over.

Also, if you don't like mathematics and geometry, then why do you mine your examples from logic, another branch of mathematics and syntactical reasoning? For example:


"Can God build a rock that is so big he cannot lift it?"

That is an instance of paradoxical self-reference. The performance specification contradicts itself, and so therefore cannot be satisfied. The flaw is not peculiar to God, but inheres in the specification.

In other words, can anyone do anything that would make a contradiction real? Can anyone draw a square triangle? No, because there can be no such thing. None of this has anything to do with the question of gods.

If you want to claim there is a Christianity-specific theological problem in this question, then please provide a Biblical or Tradition citation where this question is addressed. Otherwise, acknowledge that the question is a straw man, since no Biblical or Tradition Christian sect claims that God could do anything whose specification is logically contradictory.

As to the rest, it seems your Biblical interpretations differ from some other people's. Since neither of us is a Bible believer, it is probably unprofitable for us, you and me, to discuss these questions beyond observing that your readings differ from others'. And, of course, the majority of (Nicene) Christians belong to churches where the deposit of faith is not restricted to the Bible anyway.


Having been raised a fundamentalist Christian I spent plenty of time looking for God and looking for answers but in the end admitting uncertainty is far more intellectually honest IMO.

While I respect your personal rejection of fundamentalism, it is irrelevant to the vast majority of Christians who aren't fundamentalists. There is nothing about being Christian that requires certainty. I have found a wide variation in the reported qualia of belief among different Christians, and also variations in qualia in the same person over time. In contrast, certainty is a personally constant and impersonally uniform credal state.



posted on Dec, 17 2010 @ 04:25 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 




Actually, I do. But I also know that a poet will use figurative langauge to describe the ineffable. If you find somebody who's a Bible literalist


But we were talking about the Biblical God and where would I turn for information on such a deity other than the Bible itself? Furthermore I have serious doubts that when they wrote that Jesus ascended into heaven they meant it in a figurative sense. I doubt that by ascended into heaven they were referring to him simply dying or perhaps being beamed up like in Star Trek. While certainly the Psalms and certain other books are meant as poetic the same cannot be said for most of the other books without ending up cherry picking what is and isn't a poetic meaning of heaven or heavens.



Also, if you don't like mathematics and geometry, then why do you mine your examples from logic, another branch of mathematics and syntactical reasoning?


I never said I didn't like math, although math certainly isn't my favorite subject by any stretch of the imagination. My point was that bringing up mathematical proofs doesn't fit within the context of the discussion and is entirely pointless. My statement wasn't meant as Universal it was meant within the context of the discussion we're having - namely one about god(s) and Santa. The fact of the matter is that with a concept as nebulous and vague as god it would be impossible, without possessing all knowledge, to entirely disprove gods and many other magical, supernatural and otherwise seemingly absurd claims. I used Leprechauns as an example, while we may be able to prove Leprechauns don't exist on Earth who's to say they don't exist elsewhere in the Universe?

One does not need math to use logic.



None of this has anything to do with the question of gods.


It has to do the with the existence of an All Powerful God who can, quite literally, do anything. If, as most Christians believe, God is All Powerful than can he complete the paradoxical challenge and build a rock so big he cannot lift it. If he cannot complete the challenge than he has limits but if he can than he also has limits (because he cannot lift the rock). Or at least that's the way I understand it, perhaps my thinking is flawed. It isn't a straw-man because the Christian God is believed to be all powerful by most Christians however you're right that it isn't a Christian specific question.

Here's something that seems illogical or perhaps just wrong with Christianity - why is a loving God planning on sending people to a Lake of Fire to burn for all eternity? Or, since there are so many interpretations of Hell, why is God's "word" so unclear about what Hell is and who will be sent there?



There is nothing about being Christian that requires certainty.


This is certainly true and its why I have very little argument against agnostic-theists who are also Christian.

I still feel that the nature of Santa Claus belief is very similar to that of belief in God(s). Faith, here meaning a belief held without supporting evidence, is needed to believe. As opposed to beliefs based on solid evidence these are beliefs held for no good reason, they are irrational beliefs about magical supernatural claims for which there is little or no evidence. These beliefs are often planted there by well-meaning parents. The difference is that at a certain age the truth is revealed about Santa but the lies about God, however well-meant, tend to continue.

With that said I'd say we've just about gone full circle.

Happy Holidays

edit on 17-12-2010 by Titen-Sxull because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 17 2010 @ 06:38 AM
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With that said I'd say we've just about gone full circle.

Happy Holidays

Fair enough. Merry Christmas.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 12:15 AM
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reply to post by Majestic23
 




Santa, like Jesus is in part a complex symbol for the shamanic experience.

His red and white costume alluding to the Fly Agaric mushroom that induces oob states.

You know, fly agaric mushrooms that elves and gnomes are always sitting on?

He comes down the chimney stack, representing the portal or tunnel so often described in near death experiences.

He flies in a sled, quite alike the magic carpet idea or nowadays.....the ufo or merkarba vehicle.

He lives in the North Pole, we hear a lot of myths about this place.



Wow this is rich I have never thought of the whole Santa Archetype has having shamanic parallels.
Its like Joseph Cambell describing the whole santa mythos.



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