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 Post subject: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Greetings everyone.

I figured I'd go ahead and ask what you think the key theological/philosophical arguments for your God are. That is, the ones that convince you the most.

Do you see them as completely robust, or do you think there are plausible rebuttals?

I'm happy to answer any questions as well.
Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:45 pm 
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The tomb was empty on Easter morning.

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:50 pm 
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The resurrection then proves to you that Jesus is the son of God/God and therefore that what he said is true?

My issues would be:
1) The scripture could me mistaken or fabricated, plagiarized from other resurrection stories.
2) The eyewitnesses could be mistaken, as so many people are, particularly with our more superstitious and ignorant ancestors of ancient Palestine.
3) Coming back to life does not prove divinity. It might prove abnormal healing powers, but to immediately infer that powers demonstrate that he is not lying or mistaken about his divinity is an unfair extrapolation.
4) Even if resurrection did happen and I accepted that he was honest and properly knowledgeable about his nature, scripture could have wholly misrepresented the actual character.

In addition, it's such an extraordinary claim that I feel I am not willing to take anyone's word for it. Not even a close friend. I'd have to see it for myself. When the message requires hearsay to reach me, and comes from 2000 years ago, I have serious doubts that the account is truthful.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:58 pm 
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that is where faith comes in :fyi:

but be honest...Jesus said He would die and rise on the 3rd day...do you really think that eyewitness account, of an event of such magnitude, could be mistaken...REALLY?

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:07 pm 
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Especially St. Thomas the Apostle didn't first believe in the Resurrection. 8-)

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:14 pm 
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What's the scripture again: For those without Faith , no explanation is possible/acceptable and for those with Faith, no explanation is necessary...


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:20 pm 
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F/S, don't appeal to faith too quickly!

1) They could be, but what really cannot be doubted is that people across the Roman Empire died believing that the stories of the resurrection were true, including people who would have had first-hand knowledge of its falsity. For example, it's really not possible to doubt that St. Peter died rather than deny Christ--the evidence otherwise is too early and too widespread--and he certainly would have known if it were a fabrication. Moreover, he personally gained nothing in worldly terms from his forty or so years of preaching after the resurrection. So it's highly unlikely that the story is a complete fabrication.
2) Even ignorant and superstitious people (and even granting your assumption here) know the difference between a tomb with someone in it and a tomb without someone in it.
3) On its own, no, it doesn't. But it is certainly evidence in that direction, evidence that can be combined with other evidence.
4) I'm not sure what you're saying here.
5) [Your last, unnumbered statement] How else are you supposed to get information about what happened 2000 years ago? I don't see the force of the objection. We have a claim for which people were unquestionably willing to die (c.f. point 1) a matter of a few decades later. No one, secular Roman historians included, doubts that they did it. That's about as good evidence for what happened then as one can wish.

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:21 pm 
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anna1978 wrote:
What's the scripture again: For those without Faith , no explanation is possible/acceptable and for those with Faith, no explanation is necessary...

Not Scripture (in fact, no one knows who said it first) and not true.

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:26 pm 
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Lbt: Right. I'm a lot like doubting Thomas ;)

Anna: That may be right. I thought there would be more theological justifications than faith offered. Skepticism may prevent me from being a person of faith. If you guys don't find this too insulting, I often see faith as wishful thinking. Wanting to live forever, to be special, to have a plan chosen for you, etc. Almost because something like heaven is too good to be true, my skeptical alarm goes off. When you accept what you want to be true on faith, is it not just wishful thinking?

Faithful: Do I really think an eyewitness account could be mistaken? Absolutely.
In fact, I believe there are multiple competing and exclusive accounts of who actually witnessed the resurrection. Different times, different witnesses, different accounts. It seems to me that similar miracles have been reported all throughout history, from Dionysus to Zarathustra to Krishna. Why don't you accept the miracles of Islam or ancient Egypt as true accounts? To the extent that every other set of miracles seem false to you, your faith that the reports of a resurrection are truthful seems unjustified to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:30 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
In addition, it's such an extraordinary claim that I feel I am not willing to take anyone's word for it.


And yet you have no problem in believing that everything just appeared out of nowhere; one moment non-existence, the next moment existence. That, my friend is a far more extraordinary claim than Jesus rising from the dead.

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:34 pm 
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Obi-wan: A hundred thousand people believe in José Luis de Jesús Miranda and his miracles. They even preach them all around. I think they can be sincerely mistaken. Perhaps the body was removed. Perhaps it was never placed there. Perhaps people were bribed.

This wouldn't be admissible in a court, for example. People embellish. People are even schizophrenic.

Let me add an idea that will demonstrate why I think one of the skeptical explanations is true, rather than the resurrection itself.
This is the context of the Jesus mythology or story, as I see it.
This was your God's way of intervening in the world, to save us, spread a message, teach us to be moral etc. He chose to do it after several hundred thousand years of existence. To do it in primitive Palestine, before the printing press or internet. To have it rest on single individuals, rather than en masse or obvious to people. He did this knowing that 2000 years later, the majority of people would still doubt or reject this message, and would have started 33,000 denominations of religious belief, many with completely incorrect metaphysical and moral beliefs.

So if this was your God's way to spread a message, he did it with evidence that he must have known would not convince most skeptics, mainstream historians, etc. It doesn't seem to me that a God could be this incompetent (again, not meant to be pejorative). The hypothesis that the stories were man-made, like the other religions you dismiss, and that the story took root only because it occurred in ancient times before video cameras and peer review, it again seems a more plausible explanation to me than the claim that God would try to send a message in this method.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:41 pm 
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There are an awful lot of assumptions buried in there about what God could or should have done. Let me ask this in reply: If there were a time machine and you could be transported back to Jerusalem about 30 A.D., and you saw Jesus die on the Cross, and you saw Him buried in the tomb, and three days later you saw the tomb empty, and then you were among the group of five hundred who saw Him after His resurrection, would you believe? Or would you still think that some other explanation was more likely?

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:43 pm 
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Pax: An interesting thought.

To my mind, I am skeptical of an ancient story that is similar to other ancient claims but untestable in today's world. I cannot rely on 2000 year old hearsay, rather than evidence that all can see.
Yet the astrophysics and cosmological knowledge we have won for ourselves has demonstrably clear models, supported by substantial evidence, that the universe originated in this fashion.
In order for you to claim that my believing this can happen from nothing is an act of faith, you are implicitly claiming:

1) Nothing can come from nothing... or the universe cannot come from nothing... or everything needs a cause

I claim this premise is begging the question. Yes, computers all need a cause. Our planet had a cause - the exploding star dust that gave rise to it. But we cannot extrapolate to the event that is the origin of time and space. We don't have knowledge there, and the causation of regular objects is not analogous to the origin of space and time. Religious people often say 'who created the universe?' but the question is not formulated properly. "What is the origin of the universe?"

Along with Stephen Hawking, I am impressed by the idea of emergent order, and unimpressed by the idea that a super-complex entity like God could have always existed. To me, this literally seems like the most unbelievable premise possible, the largest leap imaginable. You are accepting *the most complicated thing - the supernatural all-powerful God* as the most basic fact. I hope that makes sense to you...

Moreover, inferring a creator from this lack of human understanding is a giant leap. It seems to me a post-hoc rationalization that can convince people of each religion of their own respective religion, but not he kind of argument that would convince a non-believer of the truth of a particular religion.

You insist that nothing comes from nothing, then you directly violate your own logic -- something *does* come from nothing. Moreover, this something is the super-powerful supernatural creator of the universe, infinitely more complex than its creation. If you are going to accept the bald assertion that a God can exist from nothing, you might as well accept the much more simple assertion that a universe can emerge from nothing.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:50 pm 
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Obi-Wan:

It seems that if I can easily devise a plan that would have been more effective, it should be trivial for God to do so. I don't think that's such a terrible assumption.
He wanted something done and could have done it. This is exactly how you'd expect a message to spread if it was one of many religious messages and stories about faith healers etc. not the way you'd expect a message to spread if it was the one, true word in a interventionist scheme designed by God.

If I saw him die and then later saw him among 500 in a crowd, some thoughs:
1) How close am I? The crowd is full, so how good is my view? How good is my vision?
2) Is the man in front of me really Jesus, or another man? A twin?
3) Did he not die at all? Is this one of the miraculous stories where someone doesn't eat for days and is shot or bleeds out but resumes consciousness?

Now if I had been in primitive Palestine, I may have been a good deal more superstitious and magically-oriented. I might think magic really exists, and even creatures like sea giants, fairies in devil (common enough beliefs at those times). Without any knowledge about physics, biology, chemistry or such things as optical illusions, I could be easily tricked by magic shows. That fact that superstitious thinking and a lack of scientific knowledge were the norm should cast extra doubt on their claims.

Tens of thousands of people have claimed to be abducted by UFOs. So you dismiss them quite easily - that many people can be mistaken about even vivid experiences. I'm just suggesting you apply the same skepticism to ancient pre-scientific people. It doesn't seem a stretch to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:52 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
You insist that nothing comes from nothing, then you directly violate your own logic -- something *does* come from nothing. Moreover, this something is the super-powerful supernatural creator of the universe, infinitely more complex than its creation. If you are going to accept the bald assertion that a God can exist from nothing, you might as well accept the much more simple assertion that a universe can emerge from nothing.


No one here would ever assert that God came from nothing. God always was, is, and always will be.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:01 pm 
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It's still a pretty grandiose assertion. I think asserting that it exists from nothing or instead of nothing are semantically similar. Whatever God is, it has the property of being necessary. Bootstraps itself into existence or just exists, de facto.

Such a complex and unbelievable thing as a God always existing is the basic fact you accept.
Random exploding matter is the basic fact I accept. But my version is at least supported by a robust theory of physics.

In my worldview, complex things only come from simpler parts, from gradual growth and evolution.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:26 pm 
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How do you figure? It is just as easy for me to to say that yours is a very grandiose assertion. Similarly, 'random matter exploding' is complex and unbelievable thing. Nor is your version supported 'robustly' by physics.

And random matter just existing is by itself s pretty 'complex and unbelievable' thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:28 pm 
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dschiff,

You aren't taking the historical evidence very seriously, but I'll let Obi have that conversation with you. I strongly suggest you consider seriously his points, because what he is saying is rooted in very, very strong scholarship.

For my part, not to distract you from that conversation (by all means, if you get overwhelmed, please consider Obi's responses more important than my own), let me ask you a rather simple question.

For th sake of argument, what would it take to absolutely convince you--today, right now, in the scientific, 21st century--that your best friend had died and three days later not only rose from the dead, but did so in a glorified body and then ascended into heaven?

I'm asking a serious question. What would convince of that? Just seeing them die obviously wouldn't do it. Just seeing an apparition of them (even going up into heaven!) wouldn't do it (people hallucinate all the time). Just seeing an empty grave wouldn't do it. So just play along--imagine a scenario in which you become absolutely, 100% convinced by the evidence that your best friend died, was buried, three days later rose again in a brand new body, and then ascended to heaven--what would it take to convince you that really happened?

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:35 pm 
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There has to be a first cause. Scientific order....cause and effect.

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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:38 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
It's still a pretty grandiose assertion. I think asserting that it exists from nothing or instead of nothing are semantically similar. Whatever God is, it has the property of being necessary. Bootstraps itself into existence or just exists, de facto.

Such a complex and unbelievable thing as a God always existing is the basic fact you accept.
Random exploding matter is the basic fact I accept. But my version is at least supported by a robust theory of physics.

In my worldview, complex things only come from simpler parts, from gradual growth and evolution.


Where did the simpler parts come from?

GKC

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