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Pope off

The OT can be used as a sort of historical reference and time line. The flood that is recorded elsewhere, but perhaps the probability of flooding is the issue as we have seen in this country recently. But we know now that flooding is caused by weather systems. Humans have tried to divine what the weather is going to be by watching the reactions of plants and animals and when Earthquakes or eruptions will take place? That is where the probabilities come in. These used to be remitted as acts of god, however no matter how much we understand the science behind these things it's a matter of If and when these things happen that is important to humans, not the science behind them.
 
Belief can't be forced?

Is there not evidence that suggests that if you subject someone to enough physical and mental stress, they can change their beliefs?

Yes, there are many ways that beliefs can be “forced” through authority*, but that’s not really what Pascal’s wager is about. Rather than the wager being reliant on external pressures it requires an individual to believe something by dint of choice alone.

* I was brought up to believe not just in God, but in the Christian version of God. Had I been born in Iran there’s a very good chance that I would have believed in the Muslim version of the (supposedly) same god. Had I been born in the rain forest I would not have believed in either, but would have had entirely different beliefs. My belief was dependent on the authority of those around me and not inherent.
 
The bible researchers always like touting the global flood shit as validating the OT, because every nation has similar legends of a great flood.

When you think about that though, how many here have never experienced flooding of some kind, a bad flood tends to be quite memorable?

Right now some spotty faced septic missionary called Hank, probably wearing some very strange underwear, is standing in the decaying delta that is Bangla Desh and is amazed that the locals have quite a vivid folk memory of a great flood or three!
 
T

Taffd

Guest
In regard to flooding, I was thinking along the lines of when the Atlantic flooded into the Med, or the Med into the Bosphorus. Not sure which but I recall seeing a programme about it on telly.
 
I am not sure you will find a large percentage of Christians believe in the flood as a historical, global event. Most see it as a mix of folk memory and allegory. The OT is certainly not dismissed, but needs contextualising.

I’m not sure of the numbers, but there’s a fair percentage of Americans who believe that the Flood, as depicted in the OT, was real. A quick Google also shows that a great many people also believe that Adam and Eve, also as depicted in the OT, were real people. Despite your standing as a member of the clergy many would view you as wrong (or “misguided”) and in some cases as dangerously heretical for not believing in and promoting a literal view in the OT.

I agree that context is always essential for a fuller understanding, but right from the off much of the OT is simply and demonstrably wrong. Rather than the augments of Dawkins (someone I don’t much care for), if I was trying to convince people of the how ridiculous the foundations of Christian belief are I would encourage them to read Genesis in full.
 

mercurydancer

LE
Book Reviewer
By your argument you assume that there is a god to be denied. The key word in your post is “provided”. It’s a cop out. You are setting parameters and then extrapolating. Despite that, I assume good faith and so assume you are being true to your beliefs.

When it comes down to it we can forget Pascal’s Wager (I think we agree on that?) and can move on to more precise and documented terms. For example, do you believe that there was a global flood that wiped out all humans except those on the Ark? If not, why do so many Christians believe that’s what happened? Don’t they have just as strong a belief? Can the Old Testament be dismissed?

Sorry for being late in response.

I will clarify matters. The comment regarding god is meant to signify that within Pascal's wager there is some concept of god. However you may take it, that is what it is. It is within the limits of Pascal's wager and nothing more. There are some parameters which I appreciate, but no extrapolation.
 
When it comes down to it we can forget Pascal’s Wager (I think we agree on that?) and can move on to more precise and documented terms. For example, do you believe that there was a global flood that wiped out all humans except those on the Ark? If not, why do so many Christians believe that’s what happened? Don’t they have just as strong a belief? Can the Old Testament be dismissed?

There are two issues here- do you believe there was a flood as determined in the OT- the answer has to be yes because we know that sea levels have risen in the last 20,000 years- ergo you can believe the OT that there was a flood. There have probably been many. Did a bloke called Noah build and Ark in order to save his family from the wrath of God as humans were to be destroyed? Extremely unlikely. What probably happened was that some bloke called Noah happened to have access to something that floated and he got his two goats and his family into it and survived. Since thousands didn't they attributed it to the Will of their God that they had. Can you accept the OT in its entirety- no you can't, but there is undoubtedly a folk memory of a flood as evinced by the epic of Gilgamesh.
 

alib

LE
What's rather more incredible is folk can believe in an omnipotent, just and loving God who choses to wipe out all life on earth bar the aquatic apart from one human family and a selection of breeding pairs that can fit on a bronze age boat.
 
What's rather more incredible is folk can believe in an omnipotent, just and loving God who choses to wipe out all life on earth bar the aquatic apart from one human family and a selection of breeding pairs that can fit on a bronze age boat.

No that came later, don't forget "I am a jealous God". Gods haven't always been loving and the concept of wiping out humanity if it didn't do what they wanted is the norm.
 
Sorry for being late in response.

I will clarify matters. The comment regarding god is meant to signify that within Pascal's wager there is some concept of god. However you may take it, that is what it is. It is within the limits of Pascal's wager and nothing more. There are some parameters which I appreciate, but no extrapolation.

Fair point, within the terms and limits of the wager it’s assumed that God exists. Thanks for clarifying.
 
There are two issues here- do you believe there was a flood as determined in the OT- the answer has to be yes because we know that sea levels have risen in the last 20,000 years- ergo you can believe the OT that there was a flood. There have probably been many. Did a bloke called Noah build and Ark in order to save his family from the wrath of God as humans were to be destroyed? Extremely unlikely. What probably happened was that some bloke called Noah happened to have access to something that floated and he got his two goats and his family into it and survived. Since thousands didn't they attributed it to the Will of their God that they had. Can you accept the OT in its entirety- no you can't, but there is undoubtedly a folk memory of a flood as evinced by the epic of Gilgamesh.

Yes, I agree – there was very likely a major but relatively local flood which became mythologized as affecting the whole planet and, given the level of understanding at the time, was the result of an angry god. What I find bizarre is that there are many around today, including intelligent and otherwise well educated people, who still consider the story of Noah to be 100% true as written in the Bible.

I’m old enough to remember being told the story in school assembly as if it was a factual account, with the clear implication of what happens to naughty people. Nowt like a bit of fear for controlling five year olds, or 50 year olds for that matter. No wonder some of those in positions of authority, or those that want to be, still like the story. Do as I say, or else...
 
Two notable and well-attested candidates for the flood around the Levant - Santorini and the break-through of the Med into what is now the Black Sea (remnants of towns have been found way off shore) which itself followed the flooding of the Med itself
 

mercurydancer

LE
Book Reviewer
Fair point, within the terms and limits of the wager it’s assumed that God exists. Thanks for clarifying.

Sorry to be a pedant, but the whole point of the wager is that god cannot be assumed to exist. It is a bet, with no predictable outcome. There is no certainty that god exists within the terms of the wager. If god was a certainty then the wager would be totally illogical. What Pascal meant was that some people may have a concept of god, sky pixie if you wish, or any other deity for that matter. To have that concept of a deity is a component of the wager. Who would bet on a horse race if there was no concept of a horse, a race or a bookie?
 
Two notable and well-attested candidates for the flood around the Levant - Santorini and the break-through of the Med into what is now the Black Sea (remnants of towns have been found way off shore) which itself followed the flooding of the Med itself

A knowledgeable post, Filthy Fifth, or can I be familiar and just call you Filthy?

Indeed, such well-evidenced events are often used as “proof” that the Bible’s Noah story is true. There really was a flood, there’s evidence. Pointing out that the very same evidence shows that it was a local event and not global and so didn’t wipe out all of humanity save for one family often results in a stream of non-sequiturs and loud abuse. I suppose it begs the question of why God, in all His infinite whatnot, hasn’t brought about The Flood MkII (this time it’s personal) to sort out the unworthy.

It also begs the question of why an all-knowing god would do such a thing, knowing, as he would, that once the waters have subsided that we’d all just carry on as before. Having already trusted Adam and Eve and then been forced to administer punishment you’d have thought he would have learned. One such cock-up can be a mistake, but twice looks like incompetence.
 

mercurydancer

LE
Book Reviewer
A knowledgeable post, Filthy Fifth, or can I be familiar and just call you Filthy?

Indeed, such well-evidenced events are often used as “proof” that the Bible’s Noah story is true. There really was a flood, there’s evidence. Pointing out that the very same evidence shows that it was a local event and not global and so didn’t wipe out all of humanity save for one family often results in a stream of non-sequiturs and loud abuse. I suppose it begs the question of why God, in all His infinite whatnot, hasn’t brought about The Flood MkII (this time it’s personal) to sort out the unworthy.

It also begs the question of why an all-knowing god would do such a thing, knowing, as he would, that once the waters have subsided that we’d all just carry on as before. Having already trusted Adam and Eve and then been forced to administer punishment you’d have thought he would have learned. One such cock-up can be a mistake, but twice looks like incompetence.

I feel that at this point there needs to be a distinction made between the bible literalists and other believers in god.

The literalist stance is just bollocks. I have had some entertaining discussions with our US cousins of the baptist persuasion who believe that the KJV bible is the literal words of god, irrespective of translations, the ambiguity of the English language and many other factors. To my immense delight I have seen some use words that end in -eth to make them sound more holy. How I laughed.

Some bits of the bible make sense as recorded memories. Equally so does Homer's writings. Golden fleece? Yes if you want to catch gold particles in a river, then putting a fleece in it is a good way of getting gold.

The actual size of the world was not known at the time of the bible being written. The world was defined by the knowledge of people who had trekked and writing was invented. No basis for an all knowing god.
 
Sorry to be a pedant, but the whole point of the wager is that god cannot be assumed to exist. It is a bet, with no predictable outcome. There is no certainty that god exists within the terms of the wager. If god was a certainty then the wager would be totally illogical. What Pascal meant was that some people may have a concept of god, sky pixie if you wish, or any other deity for that matter. To have that concept of a deity is a component of the wager. Who would bet on a horse race if there was no concept of a horse, a race or a bookie?

Sorry, yes, that’s logical and consistent. I dashed off a reply and should have taken a little more time to think it through and explain it properly (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

However, at the end of it all I still consider the wager, for me at least, to be less than satisfactory. No matter what I do I can’t convince myself that a god, let alone the Christian God as depicted in the Bible, is anything other than wishful thinking. If I carry out an act of kindness then it’s for its own sake (within the limits of evolutionary behaviour, to keep Higgs happy) and that should be enough.

If God really is all-knowing he damn well knew I’d feel this way and yet, according to quite a lot of people, He’s still condemned me to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. I can pretend to believe, as per the wager, but surely He can see though that, and did so before time even began. Frankly, He needs to make his bloody mind up and stop being such a contrary git.
 
ScouseD, of course you can call me Filthy old boy (it's preferable to the actual nickname of my mob which was S****y Fifth]. Early civilisations, with no written language or literacy restricted to an elite, relied on oral tradition, which was highly consistent from generation to generation. It had to be, to ensure the experiences of how to live in a hard world were passed down accurately . Many communities still do the same. So there is often a core of truth seldom an accurate time scale. As a previous post said, the fact that Noah might actually have been one bloke, his wife and family and the family goat does not mean there wasn't a flood. A bit of wreckage then got larged up into an Ark with cubits everywhere and a pair of everything. Obvious rubbish, yet people are still looking for it. But you don't have to take the Bible literally to believe in a God or be a Christian. For a start, what was included in the New Testament was decided by early elders of the Church and discarded anything that failed to fit in with their aims and objectives. I find the literal attitudes of US fundamentalists as bad as the rantings of radical Muslims. If the fall-out might not be so serious I would call them laughable.
 

mercurydancer

LE
Book Reviewer
Sorry, yes, that’s logical and consistent. I dashed off a reply and should have taken a little more time to think it through and explain it properly (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

However, at the end of it all I still consider the wager, for me at least, to be less than satisfactory. No matter what I do I can’t convince myself that a god, let alone the Christian God as depicted in the Bible, is anything other than wishful thinking. If I carry out an act of kindness then it’s for its own sake (within the limits of evolutionary behaviour, to keep Higgs happy) and that should be enough.

If God really is all-knowing he damn well knew I’d feel this way and yet, according to quite a lot of people, He’s still condemned me to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. I can pretend to believe, as per the wager, but surely He can see though that, and did so before time even began. Frankly, He needs to make his bloody mind up and stop being such a contrary git.


An all knowing god may or may not be real. OK then thats in the wager. Philosophically we can keep it there for the time being.

Consider this premise. God is real, and demonstrates his power and no human is in any doubt about god and his existence. This would make god the biggest tyrant ever. Equally if you take the Higgsy view, in that there is no god but you can do bugger all about it anyway as the physics will play out in its own way. For me both views are equally unacceptable.

I'm somewhere in the middle. I accept that science has a valid structure and explains very many things. For my tiny and insignificant viewpoint, given the magnitude of the discussion, is that science explains how god did what he did.
 
I feel that at this point there needs to be a distinction made between the bible literalists and other believers in god.

The literalist stance is just bollocks. I have had some entertaining discussions with our US cousins of the baptist persuasion who believe that the KJV bible is the literal words of god, irrespective of translations, the ambiguity of the English language and many other factors. To my immense delight I have seen some use words that end in -eth to make them sound more holy. How I laughed.

Some bits of the bible make sense as recorded memories. Equally so does Homer's writings. Golden fleece? Yes if you want to catch gold particles in a river, then putting a fleece in it is a good way of getting gold.

The actual size of the world was not known at the time of the bible being written. The world was defined by the knowledge of people who had trekked and writing was invented. No basis for an all knowing god.

A good post and worth repeating. Unlike Higgs, though I agree with him on many points, and despite the way it might seem within the limitations of a forum geared towards short posts, I don’t regard all theists as even close to the same. There’s an enormous gulf between the ends of the spectrum.

Those who profess a theistic belief should be allowed to do so and such a right should be protected. Discussion and debate apart, my concern is much more to do with, in my opinion, unwarranted and excessive influence and privilege.

As an aside, but still relevant to your post; one of my friends is a (now “retired”) vicar. About 10 years ago he was sent on a sort of secondment to a particularly religious US state for six months. In my naivety I thought he’d be happy, but he disagreed, describing the religious there as “nutters”. His view on his return was far worse and a lot less polite. On one occasion he was apparently gently escorted from a church for his metaphorical and “heretical” views of certain parts of the OT. He’s still a Christian, but has these strange ideas about being nice.
 
The question, imho, also needs to be looked at. So you want to know why are we here? In order to answer this we should probably look at the big picture, why is the universe here?

What is the legacy of the universe? What is the universe?

Well, so far as we can tell most of it appears to be immense astronomical objects whizzing around crashing into each other and exploding, none of these things are alive. The only creatures around here who can ask this question, so far as we can tell, are us. There might well be others, indeed there may have been many others who've come into consciousness and then disappeared without trace long before earth was even a planet. What is the legacy of all the other creatures who came before us but never had the ability to ask such questions?

Just about all of it, with a few exceptions, is an utterly immense but lifeless mass with no particular purpose. Now if you ask the question, what's the point of this colossal universe, which appears to have no meaning, then why should that not be the conclusion? Can you even ask such a question about it? You might as well ask, what's the point of the Grand Canyon? How could such a huge edifice exist if there wasn't some higher purpose to it? The answer itself doesn't make any sense because the Grand Canyon is a non living thing.

Why can this question not also be the same for the universe and life in general? Why something rather than nothing? We're used to having a world where things have meaning, but that's just an invention with the pre-assumption of cause and effect. Asking "Why are we here?" Might be no different style of a question than asking "What does the planet Jupiter like to do on a Saturday night?"

The strangest thing of all is that we are the observers. We're the only ones observing the show, we're the only ones, so far as we can tell, who can be awed by the sublime wonder of it all. But take us away and you remove the audience, what's the point of a show without an audience? Is there even a show at all?
 
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