Do you think there is a Hell?

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AuthorTopic: Do you think there is a Hell?
...b10010b...
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quote:
Eh?
If that's in relation to the intercessory-prayer thing, what I'm asking is, if both the prayed-for group and the non-prayed-for group are already getting the benefit of millions of general prayers for the sick that people all around the world are making every day, how are a few dozen extra prayers going to make a noticeable difference?

quote:
And what's pantheism again?
Equating God with the universe, or with an impersonal universal organising principle.

quote:
I define 'supernatural' as being outside the physical world. But as I said, it's just a case of labels. If you have a different word to mean that, use it.
Well, then you have to define "physical", and we could be at that all day. The text of a book or a program stored on a computer has a particular physical form, but its meaning is independent of that specific physical structure. Does that make information supernatural?

[ Saturday, April 09, 2005 19:32: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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I still think that the belief God intervenes in day-to-day affairs is callous and self-centered, especially considering the exceptional number of good people God apparently afflicts suffering upon for no particular reason.

Then again, I have pretty powerful Deist leanings, in addition to my subscribing idea that God represents an inherently and universally good force in the universe; against the affirmative crowd, I might as well be preaching to Aztec pagans. There's a powerful disconnect in basic mores and worldview.

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Posts: 2367 | Registered: Friday, June 27 2003 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Eh?
If that's in relation to the intercessory-prayer thing, what I'm asking is, if both the prayed-for group and the non-prayed-for group are already getting the benefit of millions of general prayers for the sick that people all around the world are making every day, how are a few dozen extra prayers going to make a noticeable difference?

quote:
And what's pantheism again?
Equating God with the universe, or with an impersonal universal organising principle.

quote:
I define 'supernatural' as being outside the physical world. But as I said, it's just a case of labels. If you have a different word to mean that, use it.
Well, then you have to define "physical", and we could be at that all day. The text of a book or a program stored on a computer has a particular physical form, but its meaning is independent of that specific physical structure. Does that make information supernatural?

I'll leave the first point aside. I think it's more or less irrelevant. For example, it would be hopeless attempting to prove that every prayer has the same value. :P

You make a good point about information. My definiton was obviously incomplete. But ultimately, it's still just about labels, and I think you know what I meant. (and no, I'm not a pantheist by any stretch :P )

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Posts: 1861 | Registered: Friday, February 11 2005 08:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
I'll leave the first point aside. I think it's more or less irrelevant. For example, it would be hopeless attempting to prove that every prayer has the same value. :P
I wasn't really expecting you to try to address the issue; that there are far too many confounding variables to create a reliable test was exactly my point.

quote:
You make a good point about information. My definiton was obviously incomplete. But ultimately, it's still just about labels, and I think you know what I meant. (and no, I'm not a pantheist by any stretch :P )
I don't know what you mean, and I'm not convinced that you're 100% sure of what you mean either. To you, what fundamental distinction exists between the natural and the supernatural? What kinds of things can appropriately be categorised into natural and supernatural: objects and events? Anything else? Is the distinction between a natural and supernatural object different from the distinction between a natural and supernatural event?

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Well, if you want to nail it down:

God is a supernatural being. Has no physical body, but still *exists*.

A miracle is a natural event with a supernatural cause. There is a change in the natural world - a guy starts breathing again, for example - but nothing happened in the physical world to cause that.

Prayer is something that happens in correlation with miracles, but is not necessarily a cause of miracles. Asking for a lolly may or may not result in you getting a lolly. You may be given a lolly even if you don't ask for one. Either way, though, the cause was the person who decided whether or not to give you the lolly.

I don't think it's impossible for the physical world to influence the supernatural world - or to be more specific, for the supernatural world to react to the physical world.

Information is an interesting one, but I'd say that it only exists in our minds. Which is fine, because that's where it counts. Do words mean anything when there's no one to read them? I'm sure this could lead to quite an interesting discussion, but I don't think it's related to the supernatural world. I suppose that since memory = information and memory can be destroyed by physical actions, it would be fair to say that information is a part of the physical world, and that part is a certain section of our brains.

Hope that cleared it up somewhat?

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Posts: 1861 | Registered: Friday, February 11 2005 08:00
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Unfortunately we still haven't done a great job of defining the boundaries of what's "natural" or "physical". Defining some kinds of experience as being experiences of "physical" things and others as "non-physical" seems somewhat arbitrary to me. Is a gust of wind a physical object? What about the red dot that appears on a wall when you point a laser pointer at it? (The latter is a particular problem because it's actually composed of a completely different set of photons from one moment to the next.)

[ Saturday, April 09, 2005 21:05: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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While I wouldn't call them objects, I'd say those things are definitely physical.

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Posts: 1861 | Registered: Friday, February 11 2005 08:00
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So what's it mean for something to be non-physical? If it follows predictable laws, it's not qualitatively different from any aggregation of particles. If it's not, then we have a disaster as previously described.

EDIT: I've been asked politely to stay out of this topic, so this'll be my last reply for a while.

[ Saturday, April 09, 2005 21:13: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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Maybe it's because I don't understand high-level physics at all, but it seems pretty obvious to me what's physical and what's not. Physical is... stuff. You can manipulate it. You can directly observe it.

No, that's not a definition, it's a description.

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EDIT: No. There is no post here.

[ Saturday, April 09, 2005 22:18: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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quote:
I suppose that since memory = information and memory can be destroyed by physical actions, it would be fair to say that information is a part of the physical world, and that part is a certain section of our brains.
That brings up interesting questions. Conscious information and conscious memory are linked to thought activity. So what does the brain do? Does it create thought or does it catch and store thought to make it available on a physical level (think of a transmitter station)?

And why is Thuryl so often asked to stay away from contributing to a topic? His mental clarity's astounding, and we can only learn from it.

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Posts: 1828 | Registered: Saturday, January 11 2003 08:00
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There actually was a double-blind trial of prayer healing conducted at the National Institutes of Health a few years ago. Physicians observed two groups of patients, one consisting of individuals over whom a religious community was specifically praying, and the other consisting of individuals receiving no such specific prayer. Neither the physicians nor the patients knew who was and who was not the beneficiary of prayers.

The results showed no statistically significant difference between the control group and the prayer-recipient group. This could be due to Thuryl's idea of too many prayers for a few more or less to be noticeable, but it also means that the idea of praying at someone's bedside to cure them is probably only placebo effect.

I think the problem of defining miracle comes back to the original problem of whether or not God intervenes. A miracle is an intervention by God, obviously, but since the result occurs in the physical world, there is no quantitative way to determine whether or not the occurrence was miraculous. To me, that means that the only evidence for a miracle is circumstancial. If it's beneficial and unlikely, God did it. If it's likely, it's the ordinary workings of the universe. If it's harmful, God didn't do it. I have trouble accepting the idea that spontaneous remission is God's hand but sudden, inexplicable death is not, though.

—Alorael, who will sum up his incoherent lack of definition by saying that nothing outside of the physical world affects anyone in the physical world. A miracle is simply a physical effect with no physical cause, but since causes are often unknown even when they are not considered miraculous and since there is no quantitative difference between miracles and happenstance, the whole mess comes back down to ascribing things to miraculous intervention or to unknown but physical causes.
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Here is what I would consider the difference between natural and supernatural and whether or not a miracle has occurred.

All physical or natural event must have been due to one of the four fundamental forces and can be explained as such. Any supernatural event would not depend on these four forces.

You might ask, well, what if the diety used one or more of the forces to cause said miracle? I would reply that the fundamental forces are self-consistent. In other words, everything traced back to infinity or the big bang can be explained by them. If we trace back any miracle or supernatural event, there would have to be some inexplicable "source term" or point where things were influenced by an external force of some sort.

However, what if the omniscient diety put the miracle in place back at the beginning of the universe? Well, then there is no way to substantiate the claim that a miracle occurred. In such case, prayer can have no effect on said miracles because they were already in effect prior to any intervention.

Unfortunately, I will freely admit a few caveats to this positon:

1) Many events are based upon probability and, although they obey the four fundamental forces, a trigger within the limits of the uncertainty principle would be impossible to measure.

2) If the diety was truly not constrained by time, then at any point it could make an event starting back at infinity and propegate it to the present.

In both cases, the miracle would be entirely physical as it had a physical, albeit extraordinary, explanation. However, if we define miracle as extraordinary, then we can make some philosophical assertions as to the nature of these events.

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Pantheism is the only belief that makes sense to me. A deity that is all knowing would not create a universe where something happened in it that said deity did not desire. Why break ones own rules? It's schizophrenic behaviour.

Prayer also goes against the notion of an all powerful, all knowing deity, and assumes some sort of deficiancy.

Things only seem supernatural until we learn more about them, just as we know longer believe lightning is God chucking bolts at us or earthquakes are god getting pissy.

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Skinner/Pigeon/

Read that. A pigeon in a cage with a feeder appearing at fixed intervals will believe that their actions during those intervals cause the feeder to appear.
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But God made humans as "free moral agents," which means that they can perform actions and live their lives without God constantly controlling them, but God knows what you're going to do before you do it. It's hard to understand, but that's the way it works.

Miracles are all according to God's will. However, he may leave the desicion on whether to perform a miracle in the hands of the people of the Earth. That's where prayer comes in. If people are honestly praying for a miracle and it's in God's will, it will happen. But people not praying may cause God to not perform the miracle because people didn't care and/or people didn't have enough faith to pray.

It wouldn't be plausible to assume that all "miracles" are due to the four fundamental forces. You can say that they can be traced back to some point earlier in time, but if you can't prove it, you're getting nowhere in disproving God. Because God does exist, everything just falls into place; there's no need to frantically rumage around for some physical cause of a miracle.

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quote:
Originally written by 1001011001000:

Miracles are all according to God's will. However, he may leave the desicion on whether to perform a miracle in the hands of the people of the Earth. That's where prayer comes in. If people are honestly praying for a miracle and it's in God's will, it will happen. But people not praying may cause God to not perform the miracle because people didn't care and/or people didn't have enough faith to pray.
Hello, welcome to my entire argument for the last five pages! It's no stultifying physical-science quibblery or fun, meaningless shoutfest with earnest agnostics or pagans, but I'm sure you will have fun with it anyway!

Here is my question for you, and if you would not mind I would like for the remainder of the audience to hold off on the ontology for a bit while we clear this up: if God isn't going to save a Nigerian boy who believes in God as fervently as you from dysentery, why is he going to help you with anything? How is there justice in that?

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quote:
Miracles are all according to God's will. However, he may leave the desicion on whether to perform a miracle in the hands of the people of the Earth. That's where prayer comes in. If people are honestly praying for a miracle and it's in God's will, it will happen. But people not praying may cause God to not perform the miracle because people didn't care and/or people didn't have enough faith to pray.
I think it's rather arrogant to presume you could even comprehend the workings of the diety. If a diety was all powerful and all knowing, why did it not already set into place the miraculous workings from the beginning of time?

The truth is, you make an assertion based merely on what you've been told. In fact, the logic of a diety that interferes contradicts with the logic of an omniscient one. Of course, this is my own analysis of logic and in no way can I be certain of said actions of a diety.

So I ask you, what evidence/argument do you have for your assertion that prayer matters? Or does it stem from a dogmatic worldview?

quote:
It wouldn't be plausible to assume that all "miracles" are due to the four fundamental forces. You can say that they can be traced back to some point earlier in time, but if you can't prove it, you're getting nowhere in disproving God.
You have totally missed the point. Did you even read my post? If you did, read it again, and again. I'm NOT trying to disprove the existence of a diety.

My point was that miracles do NOT follow the four fundamental forces and we could detect the interference of a diety if we traced back to a "source term" or a place where there was some unexplainable creation/destruction of some force.

quote:
Because God does exist, everything just falls into place; there's no need to frantically rumage around for some physical cause of a miracle.
Well, I'm glad you don't feel the need to analyze your beliefs in any way...

Care to explain on the molecular level how "everything just falls into place"? From the first part of your post, you appear to have some inside insight into the working of a diety. Please, I want to know.

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Or, here's another way to put it- if you are forced or bribed to follow God, then are you really choosing voluntarily to love him with all of your heart and so-forth?
(Now of course, that states that believing in god is more important than staying alive and happy, but it makes sense with a theist standpoint that I'm divorced from.)

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quote:
Originally written by Bad-Ass Mother Custer:

quote:
Originally written by 1001011001000:

Miracles are all according to God's will. However, he may leave the desicion on whether to perform a miracle in the hands of the people of the Earth. That's where prayer comes in. If people are honestly praying for a miracle and it's in God's will, it will happen. But people not praying may cause God to not perform the miracle because people didn't care and/or people didn't have enough faith to pray.
Hello, welcome to my entire argument for the last five pages! It's no stultifying physical-science quibblery or fun, meaningless shoutfest with earnest agnostics or pagans, but I'm sure you will have fun with it anyway!

Here is my question for you, and if you would not mind I would like for the remainder of the audience to hold off on the ontology for a bit while we clear this up: if God isn't going to save a Nigerian boy who believes in God as fervently as you from dysentery, why is he going to help you with anything? How is there justice in that?

Bump. Address this. I'm not going to let you cop out by getting into a pointless debate with Stareye or TM on the nature of free will.

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quote:
And why is Thuryl so often asked to stay away from contributing to a topic? His mental clarity's astounding…
You just answered your own question.
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while discussing miracles, shouldn't we start by assuming there is no God?

from what i read in these last pages, it seems there is something no one said.

miracles, if you call them that, are very rare, hard to understand, and usually benefit people.

this kind of phenomena may also happen in situations not noticed by people. why? because people are, sort of, selfcentered.

now then, should a miracle happen that contradicts our expectations, it is not that surprising, because it just turned a situation into something we didn't expected, not something impossible.

if there were actually impossible miracles, the whole order of the universe would change, for the laws of science are universal.

so, miracles aren't impossible things that happen, they are just a statistic minority.

so, if miracles are only rare, but not impossible, why should we associate them with supernatural causes?

btw, how can something be supernatural? isn't nature everything that exists?
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IMHO- Well, uh, no. Miracles in the sense that's being considered right now means "something otherwise impossible that happened because God made it happen", so if your first assumption is that there is no God, you've already contradicted the definition of a miracle.

Instead, an argument against miracles needs to show that the miraculous events were not otherwise impossible but for God's intervention.

EDIT 1: Anyway, for further debate, once something has happened once, it's technically no longer impossible - it's happened, and thus it's possible. However, if there's a demonstrated correlation between a behavior (prayer to God) and a result (the occurance of a seemingly miraculous event - something that has apparently happened in only one in every million cases, for example), yet no scientifically understood link between the cause and effect, I could see considering the occurance miraculous.

EDIT 2: Something which is supernatural is something for which cause and effect can (supposedly) be established, but for which the physical sciences have not found an explanation.

[ Monday, April 11, 2005 13:07: Message edited by: Imban ]
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Nothing is impossible for an omnipotent God, who could locally change the laws of the universe for a while and then change them back. A miracle is something that can't happen without the intervention of God, and it's still equally impossible by the natural laws after it has happened once.

—Alorael, who agrees with Stareye. It's a miracle that the Earth is still here, still rotating, and still full of living things. Huge meteors could have crashed into us and sterilized everything down to 30 feet below ground level, but they haven't. Horrible plagues could have wiped out human life, but they haven't. Heck, it's a miracle that the laws of physics work out to be comprehensible and universal!
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quote:
Originally written by Bad-Ass Mother Custer:

quote:
Originally written by 1001011001000:

Miracles are all according to God's will. However, he may leave the desicion on whether to perform a miracle in the hands of the people of the Earth. That's where prayer comes in. If people are honestly praying for a miracle and it's in God's will, it will happen. But people not praying may cause God to not perform the miracle because people didn't care and/or people didn't have enough faith to pray.
Hello, welcome to my entire argument for the last five pages! It's no stultifying physical-science quibblery or fun, meaningless shoutfest with earnest agnostics or pagans, but I'm sure you will have fun with it anyway!

Here is my question for you, and if you would not mind I would like for the remainder of the audience to hold off on the ontology for a bit while we clear this up: if God isn't going to save a Nigerian boy who believes in God as fervently as you from dysentery, why is he going to help you with anything? How is there justice in that?

God will save that boy from dysentery. Maybe not while he's on the Earth, if that's what God's will is, but certainly if he truly believes in God, he will get to heaven, where there is no disease. God is a gracious God, however, and most probably, this Nigerian boy with dysentery will not feel the effects of dysentery as much as other people. Now don't get me wrong; God loves everyone and doesn't want to just kill someone because he feels like it. Everyone falls into God's perfect plan, and he has a purpose for everyone in life, but for some people, it isn't obvious; they just assume it wasn't God who put it into their heart to do some such thing, so they just dismiss is and some wierd creation of the mind.

God wants to help me just like he wants to help you; all you need to you is accept that help.

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Posts: 3360 | Registered: Friday, June 25 2004 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by *i:

quote:
Miracles are all according to God's will. However, he may leave the desicion on whether to perform a miracle in the hands of the people of the Earth. That's where prayer comes in. If people are honestly praying for a miracle and it's in God's will, it will happen. But people not praying may cause God to not perform the miracle because people didn't care and/or people didn't have enough faith to pray.
I think it's rather arrogant to presume you could even comprehend the workings of the diety. If a diety was all powerful and all knowing, why did it not already set into place the miraculous workings from the beginning of time?

The truth is, you make an assertion based merely on what you've been told. In fact, the logic of a diety that interferes contradicts with the logic of an omniscient one. Of course, this is my own analysis of logic and in no way can I be certain of said actions of a diety.

So I ask you, what evidence/argument do you have for your assertion that prayer matters? Or does it stem from a dogmatic worldview?

Well, I have read about times when someone was healed because of a prayer, heard honest stories about such things, and even seen results when our church prayed for someone.

For example, there was a lady at our church that was supposed have knee surgery, so when he went in for tests, they found she had a heart blockage that needed to be fixed pre-surgery. The next Sunday, we prayed for her, and when she went back for the surgery, they found that the heart blockage was gone, like it had never been there.

quote:
quote:
It wouldn't be plausible to assume that all "miracles" are due to the four fundamental forces. You can say that they can be traced back to some point earlier in time, but if you can't prove it, you're getting nowhere in disproving God.
You have totally missed the point. Did you even read my post? If you did, read it again, and again. I'm NOT trying to disprove the existence of a diety.

My point was that miracles do NOT follow the four fundamental forces and we could detect the interference of a diety if we traced back to a "source term" or a place where there was some unexplainable creation/destruction of some force.

quote:
Because God does exist, everything just falls into place; there's no need to frantically rumage around for some physical cause of a miracle.
Well, I'm glad you don't feel the need to analyze your beliefs in any way...

Care to explain on the molecular level how "everything just falls into place"? From the first part of your post, you appear to have some inside insight into the working of a diety. Please, I want to know.

My point was that if you just believe in the all-powerful God, you don't need to find explanations for miracles and the creation of the universe, etc.; the explanations are already there.

TM - If you're forced to believe, but you don't really want to believe, you don't really believe, right?

[ Monday, April 11, 2005 16:13: Message edited by: 1001011001000 ]

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