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Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Ghost Agent

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    I know that this seems strange, but is there any proof that God can forgive me and my past transgressions?
     
  2. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    It can be proven that people who you've transgressed against can forgive you. I think that many of our ills can be forgiven by others.

    More than a few Christians seem to feel this. Though many people disregard the 'worship' and think God wants love.
     
  3. Red Door

    Red Door Man of Mayhem

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    Following up Heretic_Cata's question with your answer, why would the author of Mark (presumably John Mark) throw in the story of the Cleansing of the Temple in between the two fig tree stories? He had to have some reasoning behind this, so that is why I (and other Catholics) believe the fig tree is meant to be a metaphor on the Temple?
     
  4. Sidhe

    Sidhe Chieftain

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    Why do you think that the story of the resurrection, starts off as a simple spiritual resurrection in the oldest books of the NT, then ends up as a physical resurrection later? Why is the story so all over the place too, time scale and event wise? With Mary receiving Christ after his crucifixion in one, then 3 disciples then 11 and so on? Also there are other parts that are contradictory, fro example it says Joseph and Mary had no trouble getting out of Bethlehem with Jesus in one, and then in another they are held up? Why do you think the Gospels are so riddled with inconsistencies?

    Also, who do you think the real authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were? They clearly were written long after Jesus's death in some cases more than a century later, if this is so, what happened to there source texts, or was it only passed on in verbal tradition, if so do you think source or otherwise there could have been some error of interpretation?
     
  5. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Like in The meaning of life, I think it was, where a church congregation prays to God along the lines of "Gosh, you're so very very big, please don't squash us"...

    I sometimes think that Chinese religion is rather like Roman religion in that respect. You burn money for your ancestors and light incense at the temple because you'll probably get something for it in the next life - Daoism is basically like banking, but spiritual!

    But you're right that this isn't how Christians have generally seen it. The scholastics, at least, believed that a life devoted to worship of God was intrinsically the happiest life - not because of anything you get from God in return, but because being that sort of person is just the best way to be. Just as Aristotle argued that the life of reason is the best life for human beings, so Aquinas argued that the life of contemplating God is even better. It exercises our highest faculty and realises our potential more than anything else could. This stems in part from the fundamentally Neoplatonic conviction that God is the most beautiful/pleasant/good/etc thing that there is. There is also the fundamentally Neoplatonic conviction that pleasure and beauty are closely linked: the beautiful is what gives us pleasure, and pleasure derives from a beautiful object. Now if God is the most beautiful object there is, then contemplating him is the most pleasant activity there could be.

    As for the reasons behind omni-ness: I think one of the key differences between Christianity and pretty much all pagan religions (and this is also something that comes from Greek philosophy) is that in Christianity God is not simply an object of worship but also a quasi-scientific explanation. The Greek philosopher Xenophanes had criticised Greek paganism because the Greek gods did not explain anything about the world: they didn't explain why there is a world or why it is the way that it is. Aristotle's "unmoved Mover", by contrast, is conceived as an explanation for why there is a world, on the basis of an early version of the cosmological argument. Of course, Aristotle's God doesn't seem very exciting or worthy of worship - although it seems that in the four fifths of his works that do not survive Aristotle did write more religiously inspiring stuff than appears in the extant material. Now Christianity took on this ideal that the object of worship should also be explanatorally useful - again something that appears in Neoplatonism (although in this case it appeared in Neoplatonism later than it did in Christianity - they both took it, in part, from Middle Platonism, and you can see roots of it in the Old Testament too). And the conviction, of course, is that a being that is just very powerful/good/intelligent etc isn't really enough. This is in part because God is supposed to be the source of these attributes in others, the exemplar of these attributes in the most perfect and unsurpassble way. So he has them infinitely.

    By the way, Christians didn't think God was infinite at all until the fourth century. Origen was quite explicit that God is finite. This is because in a Platonic context, unknowability is an imperfection. But we can't know or understand an infinite object. Moreover, an infinite object is somehow vague and indefinable, also an imperfection. Gregory of Nyssa, however, argued that in fact God is infinite, because otherwise he would be limited, and whatever limits him would be greater than him. The notion of God as infinite has since become so entrenched in Christianity that it's hard sometimes to believe that there was a time when Christians did not normally believe it.

    That does seem a little strange. I suppose the most important attempt made at proving this was Anselm of Canterbury's Cur Deus homo (Why God became man), which he wrote at the start of the twelfth century. Anselm aims to argue not simply that God can forgive sin but that he must, and that he actually does. Here's something I wrote a while ago on this book:


    I think the idea is that both the fig tree and the action in the Temple represent God's attitude to the Jews in the light of their rejection of Jesus. According to Mark, Jesus curses the tree; then he goes to the Temple and accuses the people there of betraying God's commands; then the chief priests decide to have him killed; then we see that God has withered the fig tree. It is indeed very unusual for Mark to "split" a story like that of the fig tree so clearly he is trying to make a point here with both stories about Judaism.

    The action in the Temple is notoriously hard to interpret, by the way. It's pretty certain that it did happen, or something like it, and that this was the catalyst for Jesus' death. During Passover, many thousands of people crammed into Jerusalem and there was an ongoing security alert because riots could and did happen. Anyone who looked like a trouble maker would therefore be removed promptly. Causing uproar in the Temple was clearly making trouble, and as Mark himself suggests, it is likely that this is what sealed Jesus' fate.

    But what did Jesus do? Mark tells us that Jesus accused the people there of turning it into "a den of thieves", although there's no reason to suppose that the moneychangers, dove sellers, etc were anything other than perfectly honest. Ed Sanders suggests that Jesus intended the action in the Temple to be a prediction of the coming of the kingdom of God. It was commonly believed that the coming of the kingdom would involve the destruction of the old Temple; Jesus therefore overturns the tables in the Temple to express this idea. Note that, according to Mark 13, he goes out of the Temple (although he wasn't in it immediately before this bit) and repeats his claim that the Temple will be destroyed, before giving a long speech about the end of the world. In other words, Jesus intended the action in the Temple to make an eschatological point rather than an economic one.

    The problem is that with events like these you have, first, Jesus' intended meaning, second, the later meaning which those who repeated the story gave it, third, the meaning of the Gospel writer, and fourth, the meaning given to it by later readers and church tradition. These may not coincide and some, especially what Jesus thought, might be completely impossible to establish.

    I didn't say that the story of the resurrection begins as a "simple" spiritual resurrection - on the contrary, Paul's account is anything but simple. He says that the body is raised but it is not physical. That seems to be a pure contradiction, since how can a body be anything other than physical? I'd say that the story became simpler as time went on: the Gospels all include the story of the empty tomb, which is absent in Paul, which means that the Gospel writers are thinking more clearly of Jesus' dead body actually coming back to life and walking about (though still with strange powers and qualities) while Paul is more ambiguous.

    Of course it makes sense that, as the story was repeated, it became more "physical" since that is simpler and easier to understand. As for why it is so hard to put together a consistent account from the sources, one could say simply that this indicates that none of it really happened so of course they couldn't agree with each other; that wouldn't be enough to explain why they were all convinced that it had happened, though.

    There are inconsistencies between the Gospels because they were written by different people, at different times and places, with different motives. Often it's surprising how much they agree rather than how much they don't.

    No-one knows who wrote the Gospels. I don't know why you say that some were written over a century after Jesus' death - that is very unlikely. Here is what is generally agreed about them:

    Mark - probably the earliest Gospel to be written, perhaps in the late 60s. Apparently written on the basis of oral traditions, although some parts, such as the "controversy" section of 2:1-3:8 and the Passion narrative, may well be based on earlier written collections. Traditionally attributed to John Mark, a follower of Peter, who supposedly based it on Peter's reminiscences in Rome; no reason at all to suppose that this is true. Like all the attributions, it was made only a century later.

    Matthew - probably written in the mid-80s or thereabouts. Clearly based to a large extent on Mark, with extra material as well - much of it apparently from a now-lost source that Luke also knew, known as Q. Traditionally attributed to Matthew, one of Jesus' disciples. Very unlikely to be by him, if only because someone who was actually present at the events described would hardly base his account on that of another writer who wasn't even there. The Gospel was apparently written at roughly the time when Christian congregations were being thrown out of synagogues and cursed, as the Pharisaic tradition came to dominate post-Temple Judaism; this is why Matthew's Gospel is exceptionally anti-Pharisee. All references to friendly Pharisees and scribes in Mark have been removed in Matthew, and it contains the notorious chapter 23 in which Jesus harangues the Pharisees at some length.

    Luke - also probably written in the mid-80s or thereabouts. Also based to a large extent on Mark, with extra material, including that taken from Q, but apparently written quite independently of Matthew. Traditionally ascribed to Luke, a companion of Paul. This is because Acts, which is by the same author, sometimes lapses into the first person when describing Paul's journeys, suggesting that it's written by someone who was with him. However, this was a common literary technique at the time. The author shows little understanding of Paul's theology as expressed in his genuine letters.

    John - perhaps written in the mid-90s or thereabouts. Dates from after the split with Judaism: the passionate hatred of Matthew has gone, and the author apparently knows little of the various groups within Judaism since Jesus' opponents are now just "the Jews" as if they were a monolithic group. Apparently written completely independently of the other Gospels from quite different sources and traditions - although it is possible that the author had read Mark but deliberately chose not to base his account on Mark's. The Gospel is extremely complex and has apparently gone through several editions, perhaps all by the same author, who may have revised his work frequently. For example, much of the first half may be based on an earlier "Signs Gospel". The famous prologue is apparently a hymn which has other material worked into it to turn it into an introduction. The book originally ended with chapter 20; chapter 21 is a later addition, though again, perhaps by the same author. Traditionally attributed to John, the brother of James and disciple of Jesus. Again, unlikely to be by him. The reason for the attribution is the presence of an unnamed "beloved disciple" at key points of the story. Since John (prominent in the other Gospels) doesn't appear, it was supposed that the beloved disciple is actually John, and he isn't named because he is the author and he wished to remain anonymous. Very unlikely, though, partly because in the other Gospels John invariably appears with James, but the beloved disciple does not. The beloved disciple is probably simply a literary device.

    All the Gospels are based, to a large extent, on oral tradition. "Form criticism", which developed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is the art of examining the material in the Gospels and working out how it was changed in the oral tradition and what use it was put to. Form critics can sometimes aim to reconstruct what the original material might have been, thereby (perhaps) getting closer to the real Jesus. Clearly, though, there was written material too, which has been lost - presumably because once the Gospels were available people didn't bother preserving the older and less complete texts. All four Gospels seem to have been popular quite quickly. The popularity of Mark, for example, is attested by the fact that both Matthew and Luke decided to use it as the basis for their own books. Matthew was extremely popular, and once his Gospel came out Mark was hardly ever used; it survived into the canon mainly because of the belief that the authority of Peter lay behind it.

    The degree to which the Gospel authors altered the material themselves is also unclear. In the case of Matthew and Luke, we can examine how they have changed the material they take from Mark, and then guess about what they might have done to the other material they have taken from different sources. Matthew changes his material much more than Luke does, so Luke is probably a better source for Q, the now lost text that he and Matthew both seem to have used together with Mark. Q seems to have consisted almost entirely of Jesus' teaching rather than what he did. Matthew scatters Q material throughout his Gospel: his Jesus delivers five fairly long speeches at various points (a subtle reminder of Moses, who supposedly wrote five books of the Old Testament) with action in between. Luke, by contrast, lumps all the teaching in a huge long section in the middle of the Gospel, with all the action before and after. Mark is harder to evaluate since we don't have his sources. And John is the trickiest of all, because his Jesus speaks in a completely different way from in the other Gospels, and does quite different things. It seems that John was much freer with his sources and basically wrote it all himself, while the others seem to have been more conservative and limited themselves to small alterations rather than wholesale original composition. This is one reason why scholars whose aim is to reconstruct the historical Jesus generally ignore John and focus on the Synoptics instead.

    There are very good summaries of modern scholarship on these and other texts at this excellent site.
     
  6. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    It's bot about the teleological argument! It's about the scientific utility of a supreme creator. Evolution removed the last bit of it from serious scientific discussion and since then God and science have been pretty much completely removed. It's this dismantling of the last scientific reason for God that makes it such a potent thing.
     
  7. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Well, again, that's only the removal of an argument for God. It's not an argument against God. Even if there no evidence whatsoever from science for God's existence, it wouldn't follow either (a) that there is no reason to believe in God, because there can be reasons that aren't scientific; or (b) that God doesn't exist.

    As I'm sure you're aware, there are still other arguments for God's existence based to some extent on science. For example, Richard Swinburne argues that the fact that the universe has certain physical laws as opposed to a different set of physical laws that it could have had demands an explanation. Again, the universe contains a certain and fixed quantity of energy. It could easily have had more energy or less energy even if the physical laws governing it had been the same. So why this particular amount? Again, talking about physical laws in the first place is simply another way of talking about the orderliness of the universe. Given certain conditions, certain events occur. But why would the universe be orderly like this? It could have been completely disordered or unpredictable.

    So Swinburne argues that these things - the existence of particular physical laws as opposed to alternative physical laws; the existence of a determinate quantity of energy as opposed to a different quantity; and the orderliness of the universe in the first place all require an explanation, which would need to be sought outside the universe. I don't think that any of these arguments really work, but neither they nor the flaws in them have got anything to do with the theory of evolution by natural selection.
     
  8. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    I (and probably Dawkins) run under the idea that only through the scientific method can we gain knowledge. It is under this frame that we reject God. Without this frame evolution isn't that bg of a deal, with it it removes the only valid argument in our minds.
     
  9. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    But in that case the issue isn't evolution anyways, but your "faith" (I will start a firestorm using that word . . . ) in the scientific method.
     
  10. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Yes. It seems a very peculiar position to take. It seems extremely clear that there are things we know without using "the scientific method", whatever precisely that may be. Mathematical truths are the most obvious example. I can know that 2+2=4 without having to form a hypothesis and carry out experiments to see if it is true.

    Besides, if you really think that only the scientific method can yield knowledge, then even on the assumption that there are no scientifically-based arguments for God's existence, you are not entitled to "reject God", only to insist that we cannot know whether he exists or not. You can't be an atheist any more than you can be a theist; you would have to be a rather radical agnostic, of the kind who thinks that no-one could ever, in principle, know whether God exists or not.

    This position reminds me of logical positivism, a movement which was very much in vogue in the middle of the twentieth century. The logical positivists believed that if a statement is to have any meaning it must have empirically verifiable content. Thus, "There are craters on the other side of the moon" has meaning (whether it is true or false) since you could, in theory, go there and see. But "There is a God" and "There is no God" are equally meaningless because you can't go and see. Logical positivism is now pretty thoroughly discredited, because it seems there is no reason whatsoever to accept this definition of meaningfulness. In a particularly nice irony, the statement "A statement has meaning only if it can be empirically verified" itself cannot be empirically verified, so the theory fails by its own standards.

    Similarly, you insist that only the scientific method yields knowledge. If you claim to know that, I wonder if you think it can itself be established through the scientific method? If so, how? And if not, doesn't that make your position inconsistent?
     
  11. PrincepsAmerica

    PrincepsAmerica Nothingness made flesh

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    Very right Plotinus. And yeah the views of Dawkins, and in fact a scary amount of scientists nowadays is more like "scientism", or basically naturalism. They do not simply advocate science as a method of studying the world but push the idea that there are no other layers of the world to be viewed. Which is a huge source of problems and I think hugely limiting Western philosophy.
     
  12. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Mathematical truths are only true by definition and convention, they in themselves have no physical meaning.

    I am an atheist when it comes to all forms of interacting Gods, and an agnostic and eyeroller of pointless giant invisable Gods that don't do anything.

    Well every statement with some bearing on physical reality should. I don't care to deal with the deep philosophical crap because it just leads to agnositicism on everything and I lose utility. It comes down to, "In my experience science works, and other stuff don't."

    Well, science brings techbology and stuff and religion and crazy philosophy doesn't, so that works well enough for me.
     
  13. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    This is a very peculiar statement. You think that it is true only by convention that 2+2=4? Of course it is purely a matter of convention that we call these numbers "two" and "four" and the function "addition". But the proposition which is expressed by "Two plus two equals four" and "Deux et deux font quatre" and the same thing in any other arbitrary language is clearly not arbitrarily true. If you take two things and another two things you will always have four things, no matter what you call these numbers. And that can be known intuitively, or a priori, not simply empirically. Note that mathematical truths can be learned empirically (for example, actually taking two objects and another two objects and then counting them; or by using a calculator and reading the result from the screen) but paradigmatically they are known a priori, simply by working them out in your head.

    Well, as I say, to be consistent with what you just said you should also roll your eyes at those who deny the existence of pointless giant invisible Gods. I'm also not clear on how you can be certain, by your own lights, of the non-existence of interacting Gods. How can you be certain that there have been no divine interactions that you just don't know about? If you believe only what can be empirically verified, can you ever be justified in denying the existence of something? Because it is notoriously difficult to verify the non-existence of something by purely empirical means.

    So you're saying you agree with logical positivism and the verificationist principle? You can't dodge the very powerful arguments against it simply by dubbing them "deep philosophical crap". On the contrary, to say you accept the verificationist principle is itself to make a powerful and contentious philosophical statement, and one that most people would think is pretty crap, so I don't think you can be absolved of blame on that score...

    Here it seems you've moved to pragmatism, which is a theory of truth (rather than meaning) associated with Pierce, James, and Dewey, especially James. The idea is that a true statement is one that has practical application or which produces results. A true statement is one that is useful.

    Again, I think the vast majority of philosophers today reject this view, which is really very counterintuitive. For one thing, it seems clear that there are things that could be true but useless. I'm sure that many mathematical truths fall into this category. More problematically, there are beliefs that are useful but false. An example might be the belief that wolves are evil. Someone who believed this would avoid wolves, a useful behaviour since wolves are dangerous. But that wouldn't make the belief true. Again, Newton's physics proved very useful and allowed scientists to make all sorts of discoveries. But modern physics rejects many of Newton's basic principles.

    In other words, if you're going to make usefulness, or the production of practical results, the criterion of truth, you're entering very dangerous territory. Certainly it's the case that true beliefs tend to be more useful than false ones, but I think it's a mistake to conclude that truth and utility are actually the same thing.

    I should also add that if you think that utility is the criterion of truth then I don't see how you can deny that mathematical truths are true, since many of them produce practical results. I hope you're not going to claim that you could, for example, design and build an aeroplane without using any maths. Given that aeroplanes seem to fly quite well, that looks to me like proof (by your standards) and good evidence (by any normal standards) that mathematical truths are true.

    That doesn't answer the question at all. I don't see why only methods that produce "technology and stuff" should be considered knowledge-producing. That would follow only if you said that you accepted only technological knowledge as "knowledge". But that would be a ludicrously narrow definition and a completely counterintuitive one.
     
  14. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Well, I work with algebraic systems where 2+2 is not 4 (well, generally not 2+2 but larger numbers), namely ones where a number can only have a certain number of digits (lots of programming languages). What makes these algebras any less true? As I see it, the only reason 2+2=4 is considered truer then any other internally consistant algebra that it is seen more often in reality. Are all internally consistant algebras true? What makes one internally consistant? It's tese kinds of things that make me suspect of math's truthfullness.
     
  15. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I'm no programmer so I don't know what algebraic systems you're referring to. I don't really see how 2+2 can fail to be 4, no matter what system you're using. Of course you might call these numbers something different. So in binary, for example, you would express it as 10+10=100. But here, "10" simply means what in decimal we mean by "2", and "100" simply means what in decimal we mean by "4". It's saying the same thing but with different words.

    I don't really see how an algebraic system that denied 2+2=4 would be consistent at all. The denial of a necessary truth is inconsistent even with itself, and 2+2=4 is not simply true but necessarily true. Nevertheless, perhaps we could imagine a mathematics where it was axiomatic tht 2+2 didn't equal 4, and that it contained no other statement that conflicted with that, and so we might say that that had a sort of internal consistency. But even then, it wouldn't be a true mathematics because it wouldn't correspond to the real world, where adding two things to two things always does give you four things.

    I bet you don't really think that mathematics is completely arbitrary whenever you get short-changed in shops. And if you think it even then, I would be more than happy to give you my bank account details so you can transfer some of those arbitrary numbers over to me. You wouldn't mind, of course, because you would think it an arbitrary statement even to assert that your funds were lower than they had been before and than mine were higher, so you couldn't be put out by something so arbitrary...
     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I don't mean to be picky, but 2+2=4 is a bad example for the reason that it is true is because it has been defined to be true. ie. there are vector spaces in which addition works differently.

    It seems as though there is some truth to what you say.. however, I can't really think of a good example. "The sky is blue" seems to be an obvious truth, but you do sort of use a version of the scientific method when determining that. You observe (look at the sky), you describe and make a prediction (the sky is blue), falsifiability (you ask other people if they also see a blue sky), and casual explanation (the sky is blue due to the way light refracts).

    edit: I see that this has already been addressed. "when you take two things and put them beside other two things, you will always get four things" seems obvious too. Well, it is.. due to logic. It's as obvious as "When you have one thing, and you throw it away, you will not have it anymore". It isn't really a truth. It's just simple logic and reality.

    Vector spaces where multiplication (and thus addition) works differently are not that uncommon. I can't really think of any useful examples right now, but I took way too much math in University, and this is something I will never forget.
     
  17. Quasar1011

    Quasar1011 King of Sylvania

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    Yes, but other "gods" never existed at all- except as mute idols. Only Jehovah is a true god.

    1st Chronicles 16:26
    For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

    Isaiah 44:8
    Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

    1st Corinthians 8:4-6
    So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

    People mistakenly worshipped them even when such 'gods' were in vogue! Jehovah says in His word, that some future day, knowledge of Him will fill the Earth. That would tend to dispell any competing religions, no?

    Habakkuk 2:14
    For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

    Isaiah 11:9
    They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

    I said tend to, because some, knowing the truth, will still refuse to worship the one true God. When He returns, they will mourn their decision.

    Revelation 1:7
    Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

    At that time, He will set up His Kingdom on Earth, and will allow no competing religions. Not because He cannot handle competition, but because He will rule the world in truth.

    Revelation 12:5
    She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

    I stick by my statement: other religions will pass away someday! :jesus:
     
  18. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Do theologians ever make double posts?
     
  19. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Most computer number systems only have a limited amount of memory in an address to store a number as such when addition occurs involving numbers near that limit the results are different from normal addition.

    Are you saying that mathematics is empirical? :mischief:

    Avtually, I'll tell you first hand that these do have real physical meaning when programming.
     
  20. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Somerset
    Certainly if we know the colour of the sky it's through empirical means. But this doesn't apply to logical truths, as you seem to accept:

    Certainly it's due to logic. But why do you think that a logical truth is not a truth? On the contrary, surely statements such as "When you have one thing and you throw it away you will not have it any more" are the most clearly true statements there are! The same goes for "Every thing is the same as itself", "If A is identical to B and B is identical to C then A is identical to C", "A state of affairs cannot both obtain and not obtain at the same time", and so on and so on. There are many logical truths that are clearly true and which we do not know through empirical means. We know them intuitively: if you understand these statements you cannot doubt their truth. You surely don't think that these statements are false, or that they are meaningless. Of course they seem trite, but that does not mean they are not true; on the contrary, their triteness is simply a function of their obvious truth.

    Well rather you than me!

    However, I think all this is drifting off-topic to a certain degree...

    Very clever, but of course I'm not convinced by strings of verses from different books of the Bible because you can't assume that different authors agree with each other. It seems fairly clear that the first verse you quoted from Jeremiah assumes that the other "gods" are real, although they are inferior to Yahweh. Your 1 Chronicles verse doesn't really disagree with that (to say something is an "idol" is not to deny its existence). Similarly, the 1 Corinthians quote states only that there is one God "for us", implying that there are other gods but Christians do not worship them. The Isaiah quote seems indeed to state that other gods do not exist. Seems to me, then, that Isaiah and Jeremiah disagree here, and Paul and the Chronicler are neutral on the subject.

    As for the claim that everyone will know the true God, it wouldn't follow from that that there would be only one religion. Most Christians believe that the God they worship is the same God that the Jews worship (although they also think the Jews do not worship him in the right way). So it would be consistent for everyone to recognise the one true God but not share the same religion.

    Besides, I see no reason to suppose that any of this is actually true. You say that "Jehovah says in his word" these things, but I don't know what you mean by "his word" - in the New Testament and the church fathers, that refers to Jesus, but you don't seem to have quoted Jesus at all...
     
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