Why I changed my mind

(John Dalton) #522

What if people have faith in the conspiracy theories? Faith would seem to be a double-edged sword.

I hear that that the number of suicides is rising, because it would seem that people lack faith. Depression seems to be caused by a lack of faith.

That seems hard to believe. I guess it could be corroborated if it were true, by checking depression and suicide rates in various areas and groups.

We need faith in ourselves and faith in others as well as faith in science. I am concerned that the spectacle in the Washington will reduce the people’s faith in their government and thus each other.

I’m not so convinced. We might substitute words like belief and trust there, and I’d be unsure what the difference is or how it would relate to faith in Christianity or the faith that people seem to think all people must have. I’m not sure we should ever take the step to go past a straightforward belief proportionate to evidence and conditioned on potential changes in circumstances, etc., and assert some kind of certainty that goes beyond that. There are all kinds of different situations here, and I don’t think you can draw the kind of broad connections that you seem to be. For example, once people gain our trust (surely trusting everyone unconditionally would be a very bad idea) I think we tend to trust them absolutely unless something occurs to change that appraisal. The government? Eh–not so much. Having much faith in them is probably just a bad idea to begin with. If our faith in other people is dependent on that, we’re definitely in trouble now, that’s for sure.

(GJDS) #523

So … your “interpretation” is what? I can see that you are perplexed and confused. I cannot understand why you are so strident and involved as you are.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #524

While it is very true that people need to have faith in themselves and others, I would say that this is possible if we have faith in God. You are right faith in others can be conditional, but faith in God is unconditional. It is unconditional if only because God created the universe and us. It would we impossible to resist God’s power if God wished to control us. However God has chosen not to control humans, but to give them freedom of choice through Jesus Christ.

I believe in myself even when I mess up, because God believes in me and loves me. I believe that most other people are trustworthy because God loves and trusts them also. I have faith in myself and others, but I have faith in God most. I know that by myself I have no power, but God does. God can and will made things right, even if we mess up so we really do not have anything to fear. God has our back when we do our best and trust in God and even when we don’t.

You have faith that the airplane will fly and it does until it doesn’t. I believe that faith in Jesus Christ will save me from din and death and it does Period.

(John Dalton) #525

Thanks, I can understand all of that.

This is my only quibble. The airplane doesn’t always, and if we’re being realistic we know it doesn’t when we get on. We accept that level of risk in order to achieve a specific benefit. I still haven’t seen what it is I (for example) have faith in, in the way that you describe just above. I’m not sure that really matters, but people do say things like “you actually have faith in something” a lot.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #526

We are born into a world that we did not make nor did we choose. The only thing we can do is make the most of this opportunity. Now the question probably is How do we define the most. If most is making the most money, then having faith in Wall Street, etc. is your answer.

On the other hand if you want your life to make a difference for good, then God is your answer and it does not necessarily conflict with secondary goals. Of course if you believe that the world is purely material, so the rational and spiritual do not exist, then goodness could not exist, so that does not matter.

Therefore I would say that if you want to make a difference for good, and God is the Source of Good, then you need to make a faith commitment to God.

Some people have a question as to What is the definition of good? My response is Jesus Christ. Therefore our commitment to God is through Jesus Christ. If you find a better definition of good, you can change to it.


There are no other choices other than God for making a difference for good?

Why couldn’t goodness exist if there are no deities or anything outside of the physical world we see around us?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #528

If God did not create the universe, then the universe and humans have no purpose. Goodness requires purpose.

See above. It is the reason why science which is the study of the physical world come up with a formula for goodness. Goodness is not physical, but spiritual.


Why can’t humans decide what their purpose is all on their own? Why can’t a human decide that their purpose is to help others, or to educate the less fortunate without believing in God?

Why can’t goodness be emotional?

(Richard Wright) #530

Hi Vlad,

This is from Acts 15, which is mostly on the Council of Jerusalem:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up 
and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the 
law of Moses.”

The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion,
Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God 
made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message 
of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted 
them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not 
discriminate between us and them, for he  purified their hearts by faith. 
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a 
yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe
it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.

This law was declared obsolete by the council, not by Paul, and this was in the days of the Apostles, not in, “modern Christianity”.

The first part of that passage seems to be hyperbole, which Jesus often used. But He said the Law will disappear, “when everything is accomplished”, referring to His crucifixion and resurrection.

You seem to be caught on the word, “abolished”. The law wasn’t abolished, it became obsolete and unnecessary, as declared by the council in Acts 15. Jesus fulfilled the law because Moses taught that, “everything” would be explained by the Hebrew prophet (called, “the Prophet” by the Jews). The law had a purpose, as Paul explains, to help the Isrealites understand sin and that performing rote rituals would not set them free from that. They would be set free by being born again, which Jesus made possible by his sacrifice.

(GJDS) #531

I agree with the thrust of your comment, but there is a lot of confusion on this subject. The law, as stated in the ten commandments has not been abolished, but salvation through the law is obsolete. Various rituals that were placed to distinguish Israel from gentile have been removed, but these gave way to faith and the spiritual intent (eg circumcision of the heart). And as you say,

(Luca) #532

What do new atheists do that atheists dont? What makes them new?


Its not they they can’t, it is just that without any transcendent source for these morals and purposes, they would be arbitrary decisions. You could always just ask “why is that so?” to any proposition over and over, and there would never be an real satisfactory answer (why should I help others? Emphaty. Why is emphaty a reason? Because it is good. Why is it good? And so on…). It is kinda like the “first cause” problem, with God being a kind of “uncaused cause” for purpose and morality I would say, haha.

(John Dalton) #534

Why should I believe in God? It seems to me that you’re ignoring this one question.

(Luca) #535

I personally don’t think anyone should believe in anything.
I’m not going to say you have to believe in God otherwise you are a fool and have no morals etc…(I’m just guessing this is what some people say). And i’m also not going to agree with saying that belief in God is moronic or ignorant. Everyone has their reasons to either believe, disbelieve or just say “I dont know”. And there are many people who believe, disbelieve or just say they dont know. So to me everyone has their reasons. And it’s unlogical to me to say that the one group is better than the other.


It is no more arbitrary that picking which religion you will follow, which scriptures you will follow, or which deity you will believe in.

I would say that the first cause is the evolution of the human brain which gave us the capability to put ourselves in the shoes of others (i.e. empathy), use reason to determine how our actions affect others, and use logic to critically examine our arguments and ferret out any unwarranted biases we may have.

If we don’t have the ability to determine morality for ourselves, then how can someone say that the commands of whichever deity they believe in are moral? Do we just pick a deity and hope that what they command is moral? If we are incapable of determining morality for ourselves, then how can we convict people of committing crimes?


If you assume God doesn’t actually exist, yeah, but theists do believe in his existence, and that is why it is not arbitrary from a theistic viewpoint. But yeah, assuming that God doesn’t exist and theists are wrong (which I think could very well be the case, I’m an agnostic theist), then yeah, religion based moral It is just as arbitrary as any other type of moral. As for the basis of moral, the fact is, if our morals are derived from evolution, then altruism and empathy are just things that our brain deceive us on giving value to (pretty much like it convinces us that sex is good, or that sweet food tastes good), and not something with actual value in itself. That was actually something that worried me a lot back when I was an atheist (can I really say that something I do is really superior to other actions, and not just “different”?)


You seem to be assuming that Vishnu, Zeus, and all of the thousands of other gods other than the Judeo-Christian one don’t exist.

That’s where logic and reason come in, to ferret out the biases that evolution may have burdened us with.


I don’t think anyone “should” believe in God (in the sense of having some moral obligation to do so), no one really knows if God exists or not, and some people come to the conclusion that the answer is more likely to be “yes”, while others conclude that it is more likely to be “no”. I don’t know if it has anything to do with your question, but I’m not saying that atheists are bound to be bad people because they don’t believe in God, I think that if God gifted human beings with the capacity to be moral, we have no reason to think atheists wouldn’t have it. My personal belief is not that people become moral once they start to believe in God, but rather that people are naturally born with the capacity to be moral because God wanted for it to be that way, and that is the origin or “source” of morality. That is what I’m defending here, that in a world where God did not exist, morality would not come to be (at least not without being completely arbitrary and no better than selfishness and other “evil” stuff by any absolute standard), which is in itself an argument for the existence of God (many people actually use that, calling it “argument from morality”). Was that what you were trying to ask or did you want to know my reasons for believing in the existence God (aside from the moral argument)?


More or less so…I surely don’t believe in gods like Zeus and the like, because the main reasons I believe in God are questions like “why is there something rather than nothing?” and I don’t think Zeus or Odin are very helpful to explain those. However, I’m open to the possibility that the universe could have a creator God which is dramatically different from the christian one, and maybe even more similar to the one from other religions.

Logic and reason are also products of evolution, and I’m not as optimistic about them as you are. It is perfectly possible to be logical without being moral. Can’t a psychopath be perfectly logical in reaching his goals, for instance? Logic is more about reasoning about reaching goals, it does not give us any obligation to be moral in order to reach those goals, we can’t start drawing mathematical equations in a board and suddenly concluding: “aha! I found morality!”. From my point of view, there is not much alternative, either morality is somehow “transcendent” or it is just an arbitrary artifact from evolution (and it is really hard to say, even by using “reason and logic” that it is superior to any other kind of behavior).

EDIT: I do know that there are lots of philosophers which try to argue for morality starting from logic and reason alone, but It honestly seem to me that they are just trying to rationalize and give justification for something they already believed from the very start (whatever the reasons for them to have those moral convictions are in the first place, either God, evolution, or something else). It is kinda like Bertrand Russel’s critique of systematic theology, which, according to him, was merely something like “trying to use philosophical reasoning in order to reach an pre-established conclusion they wanted to reach in the first place”.


I am more optimistic because we have been able to objectively determine how the universe works using reason and logic. If we weren’t able to accurately use reason and logic then the scientific method wouldn’t work, but from all appearances it does seem to work.

What psychopaths lack is empathy which is part of the moral foundation I spoke of earlier.

From my point of view, “because God says so” is not a valid moral justification for morals that people already hold. Where we seem to agree is that humans have an innate sense of morality. We just happen to disagree as to its source. If a belief in God helps you see value in these morals then I am glad you found religion. I find values in morality without such a belief.