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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:38 am 
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dschiff wrote:
I don't think those questions are applicable.

There are two possible states: nothingness, and a balance of positive and negative.
So empty space can be reconfigured as matter and negative energy, or vice versa.
It is not as if it comes from another universe. The reconfiguration of matter is itself a property of the universe. E = MC^2

Crazy stuff, but that's quantum physics for you.

Why? Why do objects have a volume or mass? The question is loaded - and assumes they have a purpose or reason in doing so. Why does a pebble create ripples in a pond? These are the result of natural properties, descriptive facts.
So why is not quite the right question. The question is "how" they pop into existence.


What causes reconfiguration?


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Perhaps a definition of complex would help, if our friend has one to offer.

For what it's worth, I would like to pause to say that I have always admired your rhetorical (or better, methodological?) discipline. I'm striving very much toward it, and I fall short far more often than I come near it. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:41 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
Canadian

2) Right, my position would be that consciousness and all of its attributes are the result of materialism and purely material phenomena. The mind would then be an emergent property of the brain. The mind is what the brain does, essentially.

3) The I is what our consciousness understands itself as. It's part of our psychology. But we are no soul in a body - is my position - we are the body. No more, no less. My claim is compatible with consciousness, though I wouldn't ask it to be compatible with a 'spiritual nature' as I don't think this is involved.

4) Can you share links to modern miracles you find compelling? Honestly, I am highly skeptical.... Why do you think these miracles demonstrate the truth of your version of religion, rather than Islam or Judaism?


4) There is a link to Marian apparitions on this website.

2) & 4) Is " emergent property " just another way of saying cause and effect? If so, my original question remains unanswered. What properties of matter could you point to that gives it the potential of producing what we observe in ourselves as consciousness? If matter does not have the potential to produce consciousness then we have to look for another cause.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:11 pm 
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pax:

When Descartes set about to be skeptical of all things, he resorted to "era cogito sum" - I think, therefore I am. I think we can not even say this. We can say something like 'perception' exists.

If we don't assume that level of skepticism though, it's a reasonable assumption that we exist. Our awareness is how we know this.

Now proving the stars exist is a matter of understanding visual data and the nature of cosmology. Stars produce light, and that light travels hundred or thousands of light years and reaches our eyes.

Proving the telescope exists is the ultimate skeptical challenge. I cannot prove that I am not in the matrix, that I am not dreaming, or that I am not being deceived by a Cartesian demon. You cannot prove the truth of the system from within the system. All data I receive, visual, perceptual etc. is evidence for both the material world and the matrix.

It is inference that allows us to assume that the world exists, as you and I do every day. Thus, while inferring a creator and inferring a material world are both fundamentally acts of faith, the latter is done by every animal on this planet by necessity.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:33 pm 
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dsciff, have you heard of the Eucharistic Miracle at Lanciano... though the miracle itself happened over 1300 years ago, it was just recently that scientific studies provided these conclusions

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst ... ciano.html

when you take into consideration that both the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo also contain AB type blood...well it certainly makes you think 8-) .


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:47 pm 
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I suggested it was a rhetorical or semantic trick, rather than assumed it, because it seems to me a stark contradiction. Indeed, there are many religious doctrines that are quite ancient; for me, this may or may not count in their favor. Tradition itself is not enough to convince me of the plausibility of a doctrine. You should understand this with respect to the doctrines of other religions. You might see the trinity as an obvious truth, a doctrine well supported for centuries, but don't expect me to assume that it is at all plausible. Nor should you get offended when I suggest it is not. This is a matter of taking someone's views at face value, and being willing to have your views challenged.

I hardly persisted in arguing against a God no one believes in here, as a) I had only just asked what people thought the nature of God was and had certainly not begun assuming one version was true or mainstream, and b) I can hardly assume what sets of religious beliefs each individual holds, as they differ so heavily, and so the burden is on you to explain your God rather than blame me for misunderstanding your version of it.

Do you find it arrogant that you can label other religions incoherent? I suspect not. I suspect there are many serious doctrines and dogmas which you reject offhand, and I would not accuse you of arrogance for this. Moreover, I think my claim is at least prima facie plausible. If you can't even see how someone could think God is complex, then you may need to do extra work to put yourself in the other's shoes and see things objectively.

Will I be willing to accept that my arguments fail if they do? Of course. Again, I just barely started entertaining this idea, so accusing me of 'persisting in arguing' is just absurd. And your bluntness does come across as offensive - I cannot honestly say otherwise. If you can't address a serious inquirer who studies philosophy of religion, then I'm not sure what you're doing on this forum, and I will interpret your departure as a concession. Do what you will. I am confident we can be constructive if you avoid the unnecessarily critical language.

I am willing to admit when an argument is wrong, though I would say this argument only proves or disproves one conception of deism, not theism. If you're able to logically show that God is simple, that is all we will have gotten, not a further proof that if 'God is simple, then God exists'. You would still have to explain why this simple God exists. Intellectual integrity is required on both our parts.

NOW, to the argument itself

1) You've suggested that your God is the first cause. I understand this argument, contingency and necessity, and so on, a version of the ontological argument. To me, this defines your God as a 'first mover' or 'first cause.' This God is then the 'prime' thing, the 'first' thing, the 'base' thing. But I would not say that being the 'base' fact makes it the 'basic' fact or being 'first' makes it 'simple'.

2) I would contend that change is an illusion. There is one state, one slice of timespace, and then another. Change is an illusion. A heap of sand has 99 particles, then 100, then 101. There is no actual change.
Assuming that potentiality is some sort of actually real set of possibilities, one could call a choice to bring about a change the reduction of potentiality to actuality. I, myself, am a determinist, and don't think there is a field of potentiality. Hence bringing about a change would not be reductive at all, it would map from 1 possibility to 1 actuality.

By your rules of logic, the first thing cannot be potentiality, because all potentiality must have been reduced by something prior to becoming actuality. To do so, you say that actuality is necessary for causality (why not potentiality), and then that nothing can be uncaused. If the way you logically assumed that the first cause is actuality is by positing a rule whereby nothing is uncaused, you've violated your own logic by claiming that the first cause is just uncaused actuality. I see no way around this, but I will press on.

So, if I assume that there is a first cause, and that it is actual, how does it become simple? You've argued that it can't be composed of anything, because composition implies potentiality to change. But does it? Do the rules of quantum physics change? Does entropy change? Matter and energy are converted and rearranged, of course, but does this even constitute real change? I would maintain that change is an illusion. I can also think of features and properties of our universe that seem unchanging. So I dispute the premise that composition implies potentiality to change.
You've taken the idea that composition implies potentiality with the other premise (which I also have not accepted) that the first cause is actuality, to say that the first cause is not composed of anything, and is thus simple.


What makes you think that the most simple thing is the pure act of existence? Isn't non-existence more simple than existence? Isn't it more basic than existence?

Now this could almost suggest a reductio ad absurdum to me. Your proof, if valid (I cannot say this) would suggest that the most powerful, wise thing is the most simple. Then this simple thing is somehow able to be attributed many descriptors, abilities, intentions, etc. So it has many properties. It is more complex than something that lacks those properties. You are claiming that these properties are just different versions of the same facet, yet they are clearly distinct properties. I would argue that this conclusion is a contradiction. List any attribute of your God. If it is more than nothing, than it is not the simplest it can be. Thus by rejecting the conclusion, I would have to deny a premise. I would get off at the first stop, rejecting your idea that there is such a thing as causation or change.

I can see the same sort of issues, to my understanding, in your thesis. God is everything, and hence 'knows' everything. Yet these things change, hence God changes. Hence God is not immutable.

Cheers.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:49 pm 
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Just to take a stab at it.

Complex: having many properties, attributes, complicated, intricate.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Gracies: What causes reconfiguration? Good question. I'm glad you said "what" rather than "who."

But I would suggest the right question is not even 'what causes reconfiguration,' but 'how does reconfiguration occur?'

When a pond falls in a lake, waves ripple outwards. Does the stone cause that? Or the movement of each particle energetically contacting another particle and thereby displacing it? At the most basic level, it is the laws of nature, the rules of physics, that explain this reconfiguration.

Observation and evidence teach us the effects of physical interactions in the material world. This is the explanation of reconfiguration.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:56 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.


The term grandiose is a pejoritative.
(IF) God exists and is the source of all good: this is not grandiose. its just grand.
The consequences of God existing have to be amazing, splendid, unfathomable and all-inclusive, because otherwise we would not be talking about God, we'd be talking about some small phenomenon.

Random exploding matter = monkeys banging on a keyboard will eventually produce Mozart (I like mozart better)


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:56 pm 
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when does a pond fall into a lake :scratch: :P :wave


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:58 pm 
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Faithful: This site doesn't appear to have any scientific documentation. It is claimed that water turned to wine. It's not documented on video though, and could easily be a fabrication. I'm suppose to trust that an 8th century priest didn't just use a human heart?

That certain ancient objects have traces of blood on them doesn't prove anything other than that some people touched those objects at some point. Even if Jesus had type AB blood (which we cannot know), it would not imply that it was Jesus, and not one of many other people, who contacted these objects.

It's hard for me to see this as real evidence and not as a fake. But it's curious that you and I can see this kind of evidence and find it both utterly convincing and utterly false. What do you think that means?


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:09 pm 
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4) I see quite a lot of people have claimed to see apparitions. Quite a lot of people have claimed to see miracles in many religions. They've also claimed to see ghosts, angels and even aliens. There are many tens of thousands who have reported seeing aliens. Assuming you disbelieve them, why?

Why are you willing to take the word of people that they saw a supernatural/magical apparition, but not willing to accept when such claims are made by other religions? Do you have a positive reason to believe their claims of miracles are fake, while yours are not? I would suggest that the explanation involves confirmation bias. These people, largely Christian, see something and interpret it under the lens they have been taught or indoctrinated under. Muslims see a Muslim miracle, Egyptians see an Egyptian miracle etc. Everyone dismisses the other without realizing the parallels.

2&4) Emergent property isn't what is meant by cause and effect. But the material brain would be the cause, and the subjective experience we call the mind would be the effect (the emergent property). I understand your dilemma. How can particles be conscious?

But it seems they are. The arrangement of billions of neurons and synapses, firing in massive parallel in different parts of the brain causes electrical excitation. When it's not stimulated, the subject is asleep, unconscious, with no active mind. When it's stimulated, there is a consciousness, an awareness, a set of subjective perceptual experiences like sight and sound. When you damage part of the brain, the respective part of your consciousness is injured. We can make someone blind or not able to understand language by affecting the brain.

What this means is that the brain is itself responsible for creating those phenomena. It's not mere correlation, it's a two-way causal proof.

We know this is how animal brains work, so why think it different for humans? Brains product subjective experience. It's as if I see a computer, and use it for the first time and say that this amazing phenomenon can't be the result of metal and plastic pieces. But it's right in front of me.

I am hopeful that neuroscience will understand the explicit functionalism of consciousness, called the 'hard problem of consciousness,' in the next few decades.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:13 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
I'm suppose to trust that an 8th century priest didn't just use a human heart?


Ok. A priest from the 8th century took a human heart and placed it in the monstronce. Why is it still there in the monstronce? C'mon! You're the positivist here. Flesh rots. 1200 years and no embalming or preservatives = no more flesh. Please provide a scientific explanation as to how this one particular piece of flesh is still perfectly preserved after 1200 years. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:17 pm 
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sunmummy: We are humans, living in a superficially material world. You look me in the eyes and say there is something unimaginably more amazing, complicated, powerful etc. That might just be grand, though far-reaching. If you go on to say that thing created the world for you, made you in his image, and has a special plan which involves your immortality, I can then safely say the claim is grandiose.

I'm not intending to be pejorative though. I'm not trying to highlight the wishfulness of the thinking, I'm trying to highlight the sheer magnitude of the claim. A normal planet, and yet you think there are very, very abnormal, immaterial, timeless things. I hope you can see how this claim is at least grand, and just about as grand as it gets.

It's not just monkeys banging on a keyboard. By the rules of probability, eventually all of Hamlet will spontaneously appear. This might take longer than the age of the universe to be even remotely feasible.

Now when you're waiting for a universe to begin, you have a lot of time to wait for this (improbable?) event. You might even have an eternity. Can you intuit that the universe starting is too improbable to happen... given that you're living in a universe? I suggest that we do not have enough samples of universes starting to talk about the probability. We do, however, have explicit evidence that it does. It's much like suggesting that life is too improbable to begin...when one is a living being.


faithful: Good one :) I don't know if the distinction between a pond and lake is meaningful, other than semantically. Like the question, when is a pile a pile. 0 grains of sand is not a pile, but 1000 is. When does the identity change? I think this is just a projection of our concepts. There are a certain number of molecules. 0, 1, 2, 3, 1000. We can choose to call it a pile or not whenever we want. It's identity is just a construction, not a real feature of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:22 pm 
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Pax: it's perfectly preserved? Do you have the evidence? Pictures that aren't photoshopped, and pictures of the actual heart?

Can I tell from the picture that no preservative are used, or that the heart isn't exchanged every once in a while?



I'll tell you what I don't find a good explanation: That God decided he wanted to subtly convince some people of the truth of one religion (catholicism?) by making a human heart last for 1200 years without needing to be preserved. God really wants to influence or inspire people with a useless trick, an arbitrary display of power? Not healing the limbs of amputees? Your claim that God intervenes, and would do so to magically preserve a heart, but not to magically preserve the lives of the 7 million children under 5 who die every year, seems an impossibility.

There are many ways God could convince us of its existence. There are many ways a God could convince us of the truth of its religion, if there were one. This might have been the best way to convince people of things in the 9th century, but now that we have experiments and video cameras, still using these methods seems an appeal to shamanism - the same kinds of faith healings and miracles claimed by every religion, *not* the kind of evidence that can convince scientists or people not already raised within that religious tradition.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:35 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
Pax: it's perfectly preserved? Do you have the evidence? Pictures that aren't photoshopped, and pictures of the actual heart?

Can I tell from the picture that no preservative are used, or that the heart isn't exchanged every once in a while?



I'll tell you what I don't find a good explanation: That God decided he wanted to subtly convince some people of the truth of one religion (catholicism?) by making a human heart last for 1200 years without needing to be preserved. God really wants to influence or inspire people with a useless trick, an arbitrary display of power? Not healing the limbs of amputees? Your claim that God intervenes, and would do so to magically preserve a heart, but not to magically preserve the lives of the 7 million children under 5 who die every year, seems an impossibility.

There are many ways God could convince us of its existence. There are many ways a God could convince us of the truth of its religion, if there were one. This might have been the best way to convince people of things in the 9th century, but now that we have experiments and video cameras, still using these methods seems an appeal to shamanism - the same kinds of faith healings and miracles claimed by every religion, *not* the kind of evidence that can convince scientists or people not already raised within that religious tradition.


What would you accept as evidence that God exists? If you could ask God for proof what would that proof be?


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:40 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
Just to take a stab at it.

Complex: having many properties, attributes, complicated, intricate.

Understanding God is complicated and intricate, and we understand Him analogously in terms of properties and attributes, but that is a result of the limitations of our understanding, not anything inherent to God Himself. We have to understand Him one piece at a time, and so we speak of His properties and attributes, but they do not refer to real distinctions within the Godhead, with the sole exception of the Trinity. So I will readily grant that speaking about God is complicated, but I will not grant that this complexity arises from a real complexity within Him.


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:45 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
Faithful: This site doesn't appear to have any scientific documentation. It is claimed that water turned to wine. It's not documented on video though, and could easily be a fabrication. I'm suppose to trust that an 8th century priest didn't just use a human heart?

That certain ancient objects have traces of blood on them doesn't prove anything other than that some people touched those objects at some point. Even if Jesus had type AB blood (which we cannot know), it would not imply that it was Jesus, and not one of many other people, who contacted these objects.

It's hard for me to see this as real evidence and not as a fake. But it's curious that you and I can see this kind of evidence and find it both utterly convincing and utterly false. What do you think that means?


that i believe and you don't? :scratch: 8-)

you don't think it is at least a grand coincidence that 3 things, traditionally associated with the Body and Blood of our Lord all have type AB blood on them? similar "alleged" bleeding articles also always turn up to be type ab... i for one don't think it's coincidental 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:25 pm 
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dschiff wrote:
pax:

When Descartes set about to be skeptical of all things, he resorted to "era cogito sum" - I think, therefore I am. I think we can not even say this. We can say something like 'perception' exists.

If we don't assume that level of skepticism though, it's a reasonable assumption that we exist. Our awareness is how we know this.

Now proving the stars exist is a matter of understanding visual data and the nature of cosmology. Stars produce light, and that light travels hundred or thousands of light years and reaches our eyes.

Proving the telescope exists is the ultimate skeptical challenge. I cannot prove that I am not in the matrix, that I am not dreaming, or that I am not being deceived by a Cartesian demon. You cannot prove the truth of the system from within the system. All data I receive, visual, perceptual etc. is evidence for both the material world and the matrix.

It is inference that allows us to assume that the world exists, as you and I do every day. Thus, while inferring a creator and inferring a material world are both fundamentally acts of faith, the latter is done by every animal on this planet by necessity.




Check your Latin.

GKC


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 Post subject: Re: Explain the key arguments for Catholicism to an atheist?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:29 pm 
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Person: Great question. Here are a few things that might lend strong evidence to the proposition that a god-like thing exists:

1) The stars in the sky re-align to write out some message in a human language. This would be evidence for some unknown power or intelligence, of unknown nature and number. It could be evidence of intervention in the stars, or intervention in my visual apparatus. Given the nature of the mind and of planets, it would be far easier to put an illusion in my mind than to actually move stars.

2) All humans have deep intrinsic knowledge of God, Jesus, etc. such that it is patently obvious and necessary knowledge that a God and whatever other things he wishes us to know are known by us. A trivial task for a God - instead God chooses, you allege, to intervene in the minds of single individuals or by feats of magic that haven't been recorded by video cameras.

3) Someone's limbs spontaneously regrowing. An otherwise impossible occurrence would provide some evidence for advance technology and power.


Notice that, in each of these cases, it is also possible that I am hallucinating, schizophrenic, etc. In fact, we have substantial evidence that say, 1 in 20,000 humans is schizophrenic. So it would likely be better for me to conclude that I am under a very serious misapprehension or mental trick than that the stars have actually been rearranged.

Also notice, that unless the message in the stars were "christianity and catholicism is true, the trinity is real, etc." the sheer presence of such a power would not prove the truth of any religion or any of its claims. Merely some kind of unknown power, even an alien one which would be based on evolution.

Again, it seems trivial for someone that can intervene, create universes, create DNA etc. to be able to make us all aware of a certain fact (in the same sense you think we have a moral sense as well). But instead, this God intervenes to spread messages, knowing that other religious messages will be superficially similar and just as successful (Islam). Would a God really let his plan fail in this way if he thought one religion was true over another?


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