Can a christian be rational?
Debate Rounds (4)
Con - They can't
Christian - A person who shares the standard beliefs of christianity. A person who embraces christian values only (family values and turn the other cheek etc) don't count.
This debate's purpose is to further understand the adversary's (so to speak) point of view rather than persuading them to change their mind.
This debate has four rounds, all being free form meaning that my opponent is allowed for rebuttals from the first round. I will start with my opening statements.
The holy bible - I think we all know that christianity's and religion's opposite in general is atheism. What atheists consider their guideline of life philosophy is science, whereas for christians it is the holy bible. The holy bible itself is flawed, whether you look it from a scientific viewpoint or not. This includes numerous inconsistencies that I'm not going to point out individually. You can find some here: http://biblebabble.curbjaw.com...
Long story short, the one book that is supposed to teach you how to live, the most important cornerstone of christianity as a whole is flawed. A rational person would not follow the guidelines given by book that's outdated and proven to be full of inconsistencies.
Selective christianity - Some time ago it was big news that pope Francis embraces science on different subjects including climate change for instance. True christianity and science simply cannot coexist, unlike some modern christians like to believe. Part of the reason why science contradicts the bible is because the god supposedly created earth. Science suggests, however, that earth was made by a clash of young earth and a large body resulting in mountains and volcanoes. This was merely one example, there are a lot of others up to evolution theory. Thus science and christian beliefs contradict themselves. Now comes the part of selective christianity. Some people like to call themselves as christians (I'm not suggesting that they're not) whilst they're also accepting modern science, homosexuality etc. This is not how things work. If you accept science then you accept all of it. If you acknowldege chrisitanity then you don't do it selectively. Until the holy bible including all of it's fundamental ideas that contradict science are dismissed and rewritten, science and christianity cannot coexist. Ergo a reasonable person would not believe in only some parts of christianity since they're all very tied together. Either god exists or he doesn't. Either the bible is true or it's not.
God - God is the very foundation of religion (apart from buddhism and some others perhaps). According to http://www.gotquestions.org... christian god is eternal, just, one, sovereign, omnipotent. holy and so on.
He is just, yet he inflicted a whole land with plague for the sin of one man.
He is omnipotent, yet omnipotency is a paradox.
He is omniscient, yet he still has feelings for what happens (even though in his mind it has already happened).
All in all god is very self-contradicting. How can a rational person believe in something he has never seen and what is frankly impossible to exist.
Why even believe? - Why would a rational person even believe in god? Unless one thinks they've witnessed a revelation of god there's not really a reason for one to believe in god other than the fear of falling into the abyss of nothingness upon death - the alternative being obedient to god and going to heaven. The other thing is faith, some people just feel like their lives are empty, without a purpose as an atheist. I as an atheist believe faith is an emotion just like fear. Emotions, however, are not rational so one who is otherwise perhaps a rational person but a christian nonetheless often times happens to be so for emotional reasons. Examples being of countless people converting to christianity after an emotionally devastating situation in their lives.
An interesting thought for the end of round 1 - God knows everything, including the future, yet he gave humans the power to do their own moral decisions. If god knows the future then theoretically fate exists and we don't have the power to make our own decisions after all.
Science is rational right? So I will use science as the baseline for what is considered rational.
"It is true that the theory of evolution has not been proven " if, by that term, one means established beyond any further possibility of doubt or refutation. On the other hand, neither has atomic theory, the theory of relativity, quantum theory, or indeed any other theory in science. The reason for this is that science does not deal in absolute proof, only in the balance of the evidence."
So if science has not been proven: The bible, God, Jesus, the flood, 6-day creation, young earth etc. do not need to be proven to be deemed rational. What Christianity does need to be deemed rational is a reasonable balance of evidence as well. So my challenge is to present the evidence.
The bible - My view will be that the bible is inerrant, has no flaws, and no inconsistencies. So I will explain the reasoning. The bible is considerably accurate when align with know history and where it does deviate from other historical records does not disprove its accounts as history is written by the victor. So the bible's historical accuracy is at least as accurate as any other historical records in history. Of course I cannot prove this, however, similar to science I only need to have a balance of proof. Can this be disproved? I will leave that challenge to Con, for now.
The bible's inconsistencies are another thing entirely. The bible itself it"s complex, it contains many texts, languages, and writers recording thousands of years. Many people don"t realize that the bible we have today wasn"t finished until being written until around 95 A.D. after that there were still writings many people don"t consider part of the bible. The Translations are another whole story. Since the original texts were written in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek. We don"t even have all of the original writings as there were many copies made over the 1500+ years that the bible was written. The reason why I mention all this is because many people have scoured the bible finding what they believe to be inconsistencies. So I argue that unless you have access to the original manuscripts and understand Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. It"s difficult to understand the exact meaning down to the word. The bible you have likely seen is a copy that many well educated people spent years trying to translate while trying to stay true to the original. So for a christian to know all this and keep a logical opinion of Christianity and even more to take the bible literally they must believe in miracles. Which Christians do.
Science vs. the Bible: The basic question here is about whether or not science and the bible can even coexist. The interesting thing is that it doesn"t need to. Miracles conveniently explain away anything that is beyond a scientific explanation. Miracles are supernatural and that basically means that God doesn"t abide by the principles of science. God being a supernatural being is beyond science. That"s why Christians don"t have to accept all science, because they believe in God who is above science.
So basically, the main logic behind the bible is miracles, I have to move on to show the logic behind the christian god who is capable of them:
The very foundation of monotheism. God is eternal, just, sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, holy etc. I think the biggest argument and the main one brought up in the opening argument is how can God be just and allow injustice. It also can appear that God also goes further and commits injustice himself. For round 1 I will just deal with explaining how God can be just. For many christian the explanation is God is God, he makes the rules. However, an atheist puts God on trial and says he is guilty for murder, slavery, hate, genocide, and basically the exact opposite as everything he is claimed to be. I will say this is all a matter of perspective. To Christians, God is the judge in the courtroom and instead of murder, hate, and genocide he is just serving justice. Basically, all the terrible stuff in this world is our fault and everything that happens to us is not only consequence but justice. What about the innocent who suffer while the evil prosper? That is why there is heaven and Hell, God rewards those who are faithful and righteous while the rest receive the full penalty. Then how can God be loving? Well, God doesn"t enjoy making us suffer and that"s the whole purpose of Jesus: so justice could be served because he paid it himself to avoid you being the one who pays. So at the same time God is just and at the same time loving. The atheist still would say, but you have to worship him to receive the love, kinda sick? A christian would say, God loves everyone and you just have to accept that Jesus paid the price so you don"t have to.
This still doesn"t seem logical to the atheist and they don"t believe God is even real. However, there is reason and there is logic and I have explained both whether you like it or not. The thing is, it all comes down to perspective. For example:
-Atheism is accepted as rational by atheists
-Christianity is accepted as rational by Christians
-Atheism is not accepted as rational by many Christians
-Christianity is not accepted as rational by many atheists.
Science is full of theories, so is Christianity. Do you actually believe that scientists who believe in evolution aren"t biased. They consider evolution to be true so if a theory does not align it is either discarded or the theory of evolution is changed. Christians do the same thing.
So my argument is that Christians can be as logical atheism. Just because someone else doesn"t see from the same standpoint doesn"t make the other irrational.
I"m ignoring the selective Christianity, homosexuality, and why even believe bits because I had enough on my plate with this round, for the sake of simplicity, and they had less to do with my opening argument. My opening argument makes it easier for me to get to these as the debate continues.
Rational - having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense.
Science is indeed rational. It is more natural for a person to relate to something that he has himself measured or observed than to believe in something that they have no evidence of. In other words you have no reason to believe in the bible because it's just an old book. A book filled with mythical creatures and what not that you have or will never witness yourself.
The fact that some scientific theories have not been proven yet does not mean that science itself is not proven. Theories are made from assumptions. Assumptions on the basis of already proven facts. Like theory of relativity. The theory of relativity exists because the proof of speed of light exists. The formula of v=d/t also exists and has proof.
The bible is a historic book, science is timeless and everlasting. It is not a story, it is something that an individual can go out and practice for themselves right now. That is something that someone who wants proof of the bible cannot do, however. All of the bible's "proof" comes from historical records. Are historical records accurate? They might be, might not be, we'll never know for sure. So in essence science is the only one here that has a "balance of proof". There's facts and theories. In the bible there are no facts, only documents we're supposed to believe but never be able to completely prove.
About the bible's original manuscripts. Honestly I couldn't care less about them. The only bible I'm here to disprove is the one that christians use today. It is possible that without the faulty translations the bible has no inconsistensies but it doesn't matter. Until christians get a hold of the original manuscripts and rewrite the current bible so it no longer has any faults, christianity's holy book is inconsistent and one that is hard to take seriously for a rational person.
Miracles. I don't know what to say about this. Theoretically you can just say that god is above science and this whole debate would be dismissed. I guess it is up to the person to decide whether it's rational to believe in miracles or just chance.
The god is said to be just. Yet you mentioned the innocent who suffer whilst the evil prospers. You also defended that by saying that for those who commit evil on the innocent there is heaven and hell. Well, why do I care about that? If my children were to be killed by a maniac do you think that it's enough consolation for me to know that the maniac is going to hell? Is it just? Some things such as human life are invaluable. You can never compare the penalty of going to hell to taking somebody's life.
It might be true that christianity is considered rational by a christian and that atheism is not. However, from the definition I brought on "rational" atheists have more reason to believe in what they believe in. This brings me back to the point I made about people actually being able to test the trueness of science. Thus I believe christians are not truly rational although they like to think they are.
Theory of evolution may not be proven, but there is some data that suggests it's true. The amount of data is not sufficient, but it's more than the evidence of garden of eden, of which none exists.
It's a shame that you dodged selective christianity as I felt like it was the most important to this debate. Oh well.
The difference between science and christianity is that science craves to prove whilst christianity challenges others to disprove. The existence of no hard evidence on christianity's impossibility is not enough for a rational person to consider it true.
I will continue to show how the rationale between atheism and Christianity are ironically similar. You were right that science is rational. My apologies, I misspoke earlier as intended to refer more to the scientific basis for atheism. So, I will go through some science, the scientific method in particular as it is the basis for theories. Since Atheism and Christianity theories it is appropriate approach.
The main processes of the scientific method are the following:
- Ask a Question
- Do Background Research
- Construct a Hypothesis
- Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
- Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Science is rational because it's about a person relating to, experiencing, measuring, and observing. You cannot relate, experience, measure, or observe evolution as I cannot do the same for creation. What we can relate to, experience, measure, and observe is the evidence. Because there is evidence, there is evidence for both evolution and creation. You've just never related to, experienced, measured, and observed the evidence for creation, or the bible, or God, or spirituality. Science is basically the process of relating to, experiencing, measuring, and observing.
Okay, the speed of light exists. That only proves that light takes time to travel, the theory of relativity is Einstein's attempt to try and see the possibility of time travel. So the bible is fantasy and science is... science fiction. Einstein was a theoretical physicists and that's what they do, they try and imagine how star trek could exist (for example). At least the bible is written by people who are actually from history and have seen it with their own eyes, science writes history that no one has seen.
Natural selection is the basis for Evolution. Natural selection is observable. Natural selection also shows evidence of the complexity of a living organism and how it can grow and change over time. Evolution theorizes that given enough time and mutation a fish can grow wings and legs and feathers and become a bird. Evolution through Natural selection also implies there is a need for a fish to turn into a bird. Of course, it's more complex than that. So is creationism. People have related to, experienced, measured, and observed a miracle and yet you dismiss it with the same "science" that you use to support your ideas"
Natural Selection is evidence that can support both the theory of evolution as well as divine design. Depends if you look at it as an ingenious design for adaptability or an amazing accident.
The discovery of light speed gave us the ability to look into space and see the growth and movement of the known universe. A universe in motion suggests that something, either the big bang, God set it in motion, or whatever else. Unless the universe is infinite but then that would be just about as crazy as an infinite God eh?
Atheists look to science like Christians look to the bible. They both believe that what they have is superior to the other.
Atheists look to scientists and philosophers like Christians look to priests and theologians. They both believe that what they have is superior to the other. Each fallible and biased in their own way.
Atheists think of evolution and the big bang as their creator. Christians think of God as their creator. Each view supported by evidence chosen by each individual.
Atheists believe that they make their own path. Christian"s see how much of their life is beyond their control.
Just a tidbit of some biblical evidence that we can see today: The Hebrew people, the Jews. To this day and through history, people have tried to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Why do they remain? Do you know any other people group that has been around since the beginning of human history and retained much of their culture? They also worship the same God the Christians worship and He"s been worshiped since the beginning of human history. Did you know the bible has foretold the future of the Jewish people and so far it's accurate. Is this some coincidence? Is it rational to be ignorant of the possibility?
Will you continue to say that there is no reason, judgement, or sense in Christianity? I say it's at least equal to your science. Science changes, science has been wrong, scientist make mistakes, scientists have bias, textbooks are updated all the time, everything is bad for you one day and good the next. Speaking of everything that's bad for you, the old testament laws keep you healthy and the people strong. Another reason why the Jewish people have endured, and will.
I didn't dodge selective Christianity, I put it off for later. Why is it important? because of all the different theories Christians have on their religion? Science has the same. Many scientists don't agree with each other, they never did. Want me to go on about selective Science? It's pretty prevalent. Scientists are biased and people hear what they want to hear.
God will likely never be refuted or proven. Neither will evolution. You can write a science fiction novel for the future but that"s still hypocritical. Science is inadequate and unable. Humans cling on to certainty and rationale when we have so little. You're insulted by the insinuation that everyone else is no more a fool then you are. You"re threatened by the existence of miracles and the supernatural because if it does exist then science crumbles.
"One true mark of a fool is to dismiss everything that outside of his experience as being impossible." Farengar secret-fire
Even though this quote comes from a video game, I think it rings true with much wisdom. An atheist who dismisses spirituality is an equal fool to that of a Christian who dismisses the idea of the possibility of a Godless world.
Why even believe in God? Why even bother no to?
Science and Spirituality have brought some great things into our lives. Science has brought modern medicine. Spirituality brings our minds beyond ourselves and calms down our primal desires. Meditating sustains a clear mind and self-control. God doesn"t have to be part of the spiritual process but it can help. Science, knowledge, and intelligence are worthless without wisdom.
Science and Christianity each cannot prove. Both science and Christianity challenge others to disprove. The minimal existence of hard evidence on whether there is a God or not is not enough for a rational person to dismiss. You'd have to lower your standard for rationalism to accept each as rational.
A lovely metaphor I thought of the other day is putting your hand in the fire (or other reflexes). Say you have a child sitting by a fire, his mother says not to put his hand in the fire because it will hurt. The child, having seen fire for the first time in his life, will surely put his hand in the fire out of curiosity. After getting his hand burnt he learns, experiences that it's not wise to do so. I think you understand what I'm trying to say here. Human nature itself is inquisitive by default and I refuse to believe that christians are different, there's more to it. Something that I will never understand.
I believe that atheism and christianity are not equal and that atheism is not a religion. On the contrary, they're very different. For me, islam and christianity are perhaps equal because they are both based on beliefs. Different beliefs but beliefs nonetheless. Atheism, on the other hand, doesn't have any beliefs. Not believing is not a belief (this is fundamentally very important, I hope you understand what I mean by that, regardless of my poor explanation). I'm explaining this because the mistake I made in my opening statements. I said that science is what atheists consider their guideline of life philosophy. I actually don't think that and I apologise for changing my argument mid-debate. It was sincerely not my intention to do so, I just feel like you touched an important matter I hadn't thought of before.
Let me explain.
The following pargraph will likely be very difficult to understand but I'll do my best to elaborate. Christians try to explain everything with the bible. Atheists try to explain everything with science. One would think that's ironically similiar. The difference is that atheists don't believe in science like christians believe in the bible. We just think that science is, it exists. With the mindset that christians hold you would say that it's exactly what believing is, but that's not true. Atheists don't think of science like it was something to worship or follow, it's just a notebook of people's experiences and experiments. A notebook that's mimicable by every individual. So atheism and christianity are seemingly similiar but it's only because christians think that everyone must believe in something. Truth is that atheists live in an anarchic world so to speak.
This is all important because your statement that there's so much to life that science cannot prove but what the bible can. Atheists have proven only a fraction of the world we're living in. I admit that that fraction is indeed astronomically tiny BUT it's existant right now 13.09.2015. This is so incredibly important regarding rationality as NOTHING of the bible can be mimiced by a christian other than spirituality and other things you mentioned. IF and I mean IF spirituality was a valid proof of christianity's rationale, it would only apply to selected few. Frankly I don't believe in spirituality nor that billions of christians have witnessed something spiritual.
Coming back to relativity and evolution. They're both theories, they're literally the first steps of completely proving something. Electricity and space travel were considered science fiction some time ago. Don't be so narrow-minded, it is true that science writes history that no one has seen but that doesn't mean that it writes history that no one will ever see. Both of these theories might get proven in a thousand years, or they might not. Honestly it doesn't even matter. As for evolution and creation I can understand that it's a very important subject to you as you consider yourself the creation of god. For me, however, it's not really that interesting. It's a theory like any other, perhaps a little more important because it explains our history but that's it.
The universe is truly something remarkable and thus far completely unexplainable. This gives some reason to believe in god but if god does exist, who created god? A very complex paradox indeed.
I would not say that atheists consider themselves superior to christians. Obviously there are exceptions and ignorant people but whatever. I can only speak for myself so the way I feel towards religious people is pity. Sounds awful and arrogant, I know. The reason being that you seem somewhat brainwashed people. Human's mind being as receptive as it is I could've ended up in the same situation. So technically not superior but people who were luckily raised in different conditions. I didn't mean to offend anyone with this, it's simply how I personally feel as a lot of atheists might have different feelings.
The phenomenon of jews can be easily explained. I think it's a mix of way of life and IQ. Very possible that those 2 are connected but anyway. Ashkenazi jews have long known to be smarter than some other people. http://immortallife.info...
And the way of life. As seen from history, Europe and Asia have long been the leaders of development in the world (I'll consider North America the successor of Europe in this context). In almost every aspect Europeans and Asians have ruled over Africa for example. The reason for that is conditions these people had to live in. Historically if you wanted to live in the European zones you had to survive the cold harsh winter. This meant a lot of work and etc. I'm getting too off topic. Long story short jews have prospered due to their genetically imbued way of life and extraordinary intelligence. It is not a coincidence people noticed the success of jews in the biblical ages.
I've never said that there's no reason, judgment or sense in christianity. In fact I feel like true christians are empathetically and morally superior to atheists. Probably it's because of the humility in relationship with god. Atheists can sometimes feel that because they're the masters of themselves they have the freedom to do anything. What I'm saying is that there's no reason to believe in the bible and other ancient stories. It would be great to see sound atheists practice the moral guidelines of christians.
I would indeed like you to go over selective science. I believe the only contradictions you can find on modern science are on theories. Mostly about evolution on christian made articles. I already explained the theory thing so I won't go over that again.
God will indeed never be refuted or proven. However, this is my own hyopthesis but I believe that evolution will be proven in some time. Probably not in my lifetime but still. Miracles are something I call chance.
How can you say that science cannot prove and that it challenges others to disprove. I'm assuming there's a thought behind that sentence but I can't understsand that right now. Please explain.
You mentioned lowering standard of rationalism. I can agree that atheists would have to lower their standard of rationalism to understand the beliefs of christians because they contradict current life, their own experiences. Christians, on the other hand, like to think that science is flawed, yet they don't jump off a cliff in hope of a divine intervention. Christians onconsciously follow everything explained by science and it's only rational to do so.
The bible says, in one form or another: "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Christianity is based on believing what you can't see, at least you cannot see it with your own eyes. You think this makes atheism different but it doesn't. Science can only prove the obvious, simple things. The thing is, these things don't need science you just need to see and observe. Atheism wholly means you deny that any supernatural god exists. You believe this without absolute proof. The science used to explain Atheism is purely theory and that makes it no different than christianity. I think it"s reaching to say the things science proves gives any more evidence towards atheism than christianity.
I googled how much of science is fact and got some interesting results.
Here's a joke to lighten the mood:
Scientist: 90%, we are still trying to discover the missing 10%
I really didn"t find anything all that substantial because I don"t think it"s easily calculable. However, someone said, From facts we only get theories to how things work." It seems that you believe that atheism is backed up by facts more than christianity and not necessarily science. I don"t think if it"s any that it is enough to be incomparable to christianity. Lets agree to disagree, if you disagree.
The question leads down quite the rabbit-hole. I suggest you take a look for yourself.
The main problem and reason why you stand your ground is because you believe science is not flawed and that somehow that makes atheism logical. You are also mistaking fact with science and they are different things. Science is the process of building upon facts and then making a hypothesis. A hypothesis can become a theory after rigorous testing. So by saying science is not flawed I"d imagine you"re saying it"s perfect. Perfection requires perfection.
Being such little creatures in this vast world it's somewhat logical to assume that there is a god and it's not that rational to believe that there's not. I already mentioned the god paradox as a counterargument and I'll stick to that for now.
Anyway, let's hypothetically assume that there is a god. What are the chances that he is the god christians believe he is to be (including everything from his attributes up to his actions). The creator of the universe might as well be an ultra intelligent hamster that had no intention of creating us but evolution went his own way. The chance of christians or any other religions being the chosen people of the god is very miniscule ergo it would not be rational to think that it's so.
You got it right that I think atheist is more backed up by facts than necessarily science itself.
I don't know if I'm mistaking fact with science. Facts are facts and science is facts and theories. Facts might obviously change over time but only if we gather more evidence of the matter. I'm not saying that science is perfect, what I'm saying is that the concept of science is perfect. Science can always improve and develeop but christianity will always be the same. Or at least it has been thus far.
Everyone who's not naive has reason and logic behind what they believe. Reason and logic are the very definitions of rational. Science only gets us some of the way to form a belief, so the reason to make a belief rational has to go beyond that. Science explains how but not always why. There is reason why you are an atheist and there is reason why someone would choose to be a christian. Christianity is definitely more personal then intellectual but why does that have to make it irrational. When I married my wife I didn't calculate her statistics and 'test her out'. I married her because I love her and she is my best friend, there is nothing else needed to make it rational.
As much as I have given atheism a hard time it wasn't really because I thought it was irrational, I just think it shouldn't be considered superior. Nobody wants Christians to think they are better or more correct, it's hypocritical to go and do the same with any other belief. What makes belief rational is where it takes you, both atheism and Christianity can lead you down a good or a bad path. Each has purpose and is not without meaning.
The bible doesn't have to be true to have meaning, neither does God. An atheist doesn't have to view life as meaningless and that people are just meat sacks. Christianity doesn't have to be dominating, manipulative, and ignorant. We can choose how we use our belief and where it takes us.
What will make the world better is not segregation and we don't need to be enemies because of our differences. There's a picture where truth is in the middle and people are viewing it from different directions. Each person is able to see truth but it looks different from each persons perspective, however they are all still seeing truth. What's irrational is to ignore another persons perspective because we can learn so much from each other.
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