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Can You Distinguish Between Different Supernatural Origins?


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#1 Guest_shpongle_*

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 09:11 PM

From this thread:

Let's try this as a thought experiment:

I believe the universe, Earth, and plants, animals and people were all created about 9 billion years ago by Brahma, the Hindu deity of creation.

Does anyone agree with this and if not how would you demonstrate this is incorrect?

#2 Adam Nagy

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 10:06 PM

Let's try this as a thought experiment:

I believe the universe, Earth, and plants, animals and people were all created about 9 billion years ago by Brahma, the Hindu deity of creation.

Does anyone agree with this and if not how would you demonstrate this is incorrect?

View Post


If I understand you correctly the premise of this question is to show that beyond the natural world of testing, demonstrating and repeating, truth is subjective and my effort to approach this objectively would be thwarted be a plethora of varying beliefs.

Would you have any interest in letting a rational empiricist, who was raised a Hindu but converted to Christianity answer your questions? This is one of my all time favorite seminars given by one of the most articulate apologists of our day:

http://video.google....zacharias&dur=3

So what does this have to do with anything? Your perspective is going to severely color how you approach this question. As an agnostic, I assume your underlying philosophy is post-modern in nature. If this is true, you see religious people with a plethora of views with no legitimate way of affirming one view over the other.

You have to try finding what mechanism inside you is determining that which is true. If only things which can be tested and verified scientifically are true, then I have a question. How do I test and verify the truthfulness of that prior affirmation?

The Law of non-contradiction is the most vital starting point for looking at things critically with our abstract reasoning.

It is not a light question to ask the critical thinker point blank, do you start with:

“Cogito ergo sum”

Or…

“In the beginning God created…”

“Cogito ergo sum” ultimately leads logically to relativism. However, “In the beginning God created…” tells us that we can arrive at objective truth with the knowledge that there is one who is the author and bearer of absolute truth.

#3 Guest_shpongle_*

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 10:58 PM

If I understand you correctly the premise of this question is to show that beyond the natural world of testing, demonstrating and repeating, truth is subjective and my effort to approach this objectively would be thwarted be a plethora of varying beliefs.


Bingo.

Would you have any interest in letting a rational empiricist, who was raised a Hindu but converted to Christianity answer your questions? This is one of my all time favorite seminars given by one of the most articulate apologists of our day:

http://video.google....zacharias&dur=3


Can you just summarize the point you want to make from this? I don't have time to watch an hour long video.

As an agnostic, I assume your underlying philosophy is post-modern in nature. If this is true, you see religious people with a plethora of views with no legitimate way of affirming one view over the other.


This is true.

If only things which can be tested and verified scientifically are true, then I have a question. How do I test and verify the truthfulness of that prior affirmation?


It's not that things can only be tested and verified scientifically are true. It's that if we are comparing competing ideas we need an objectivist backdrop against with which to compare them. This is why within the scientific context of approaching and studying nature, naturalistic explanations (i.e. constrained via natural laws of the universe) are used. Because then you have an objective basis for comparison.

To be sure, assuming an objective universe is a philosophy unto itself. Perhaps the universe is not objective. Perhaps everything we see is an illusion and not real. Well, if so we have no real way of determining that within the context of assuming an objective universe. But we still need to assume that as a philosophical baseline for comparing ideas with respect to the universe itself.

This is why supernaturalism is rejected in science. Supernaturalist explanations are not bound by anything. In essence, they are the ultimate "escape hatch" for ideas. If an idea runs afoul of the natural laws of the universe, I can just invoke a supernatural explanation to save it. Unfortunately, since there is no way to objectively test that supernatural explanation, there is no way to determine if it is in fact correct.

I see this all the time in debates about creationism. For example, in past debates I've had, I raised the issue of what everything ate following the Flood (esp. carnivores). At the time I did some back-of-the-napkin style calculations on available food supplies, reproduction rates, population sizes, etc, and came to the rather stark conclusion that everything would have starved to death. When I presented this problem to creationists you know what the only response they could give me was? That God magically made food for everything.

The problem though is this is a pure supernaturalistic explanation with no way to empirically verify it. By the same token, you might as well suggest that God magically transformed all the animal's physiologies so that they could photosynthensize and then once food supplies had been built back up, transformed their physiology back.

Or maybe God just made it so animals didn't need food at all for awhile. Or maybe everything did starve to death and God just recreated everything.

The list of "God did this, God did that" could go on forever. But there is no way to objectively test any of those ideas. In short, invoking supernaturalism to rescue an idea is the ultimate cop-out. Which is why this isn't done in science. It would make science effectively useless as a discipline for learning anything about our universe.

However, “In the beginning God created…” tells us that we can arrive at objective truth with the knowledge that there is one who is the author and bearer of absolute truth.

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Which God(s) though? Going back to my example, how do you distinguish a universe created by Jehovah versus one created by Brahma?

#4 Dave

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 07:41 AM

Shpongle,

The answer to your question about Brahma creating the universe is an easy one. As I said in my post in the other thread, God gives us instruction to keep us from getting led astray in our scientific examinations. He tells us He is God, the only God. All others are false gods, so any theories arising from presumptions of what any of these false gods can or would do are automatically invalid. What you've done is just introduce another version of the FSM.

As to your comments about the supernatural not being valid in science, that's only because you reject the supernatural. In other words, your worldview only allows naturalistic information to be used. However, that doesn't reflect the real world, which has a supernatural element.

Your example of food after the flood is a good illustration of this. The ark was large enough for Noah to take on board all the food that his family and the animals would need to eat for the duration, and maybe afterwards for awhile. However, the atheistic community rejects anything about the flood, and that colors their thinking about the nuts and bolts of daily living aboard the ark and afterward. Several creation-oriented scientific organizations have done some excellent science based around the flood, Noah and the ark.

It would make science effectively useless as a discipline for learning anything about our universe.


But, see, I could use your quote and point out that science, as it is effectively handicapped by refusing to acknowledge the supernatural, has made itself incapable of learning about the universe. Again, doing science with half their brains tied behind their backs, or trying to build a Lego piece with some of the pieces missing.

Science can only go so far in naturalistic mode, and then must resort to fanciful fairytales.

Whereas, acknowledging the supernatural expands the knowledge base, with the checks and balances provided by God's word in the Bible.

Dave

#5 ikester7579

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 07:57 AM

From this thread:

Let's try this as a thought experiment:

I believe the universe, Earth, and plants, animals and people were all created about 9 billion years ago by Brahma, the Hindu deity of creation.

Does anyone agree with this and if not how would you demonstrate this is incorrect?

View Post


Before this thread goes any further, is there an actual belief like this as you imply?

Or is it something you made up in the spur of the moment?

#6 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 08:28 AM

Before this thread goes any further, is there an actual belief like this as you imply?

Or is it something you made up in the spur of the moment?

View Post


I think he made it up; he doesn't seem to hide this. He is a professing agnostic. However, I think this is a valuable exercise that must first address an individual’s approach to claims.

Would that qualify as a derail or would it be okay in this case to get to his question in a round about way?

I think it would help all of us if Shpongle would be willing to disclose what direction he leans spiritually, though this isn’t necessary. Many agnostics refuse to claim atheism because this leads to an automatic faith claim while denying faith claims, even if they lean in this direction. Shpongle is this fair to say of you?

Shpongle,

Do you find the works of people like David Hume, Emanuel Kant and Thomas Paine compelling? What is your basic philosophical approach to life? I'm only assuming because it sounds like you have taken philosophy at a secular College. You readily admit a post-modern worldview but this is a huge ambiguous umbrella.

#7 falcone

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 09:48 AM

Come on, guys - try googling!

Brahma is indeed the hindu god of creation. I don't know about the 9 billion years bit though.

#8 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 09:56 AM

Come on, guys - try googling!

Brahma is indeed the hindu god of creation. I don't know about the 9 billion years bit though.

View Post


I think, ikester7579, was trying to determine what Shpongle believes.

#9 Guest_shpongle_*

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:12 AM

Before this thread goes any further, is there an actual belief like this as you imply?

Or is it something you made up in the spur of the moment?

View Post


Yes, Brahma really is the Hindu God of Creation. I'm not sure about the exact age (the 9 billion years), although I know Hindu's do accept that creation is billions of years old. They believe in a continual cycle of birth and destruction of the universe.

I don't personally subscribe to this belief system, but like I said this thread is a thought experiement. Nothing more.

#10 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:18 AM

Do you know what's most interesting in the story of Brahma and is the same as all polytheistic stories. They always start with something that pre-exists the god. Polytheism, like all paganism, really is atheistic at its core.

Shpongle, there aren’t as many choices as you think. Here are your options in a nut shell:

1. Atheism
2. Pantheism
3. Polytheism
4. Monotheism

With careful examination, like looking at the claims of Brahma and other polytheistic religions you will quickly conclude that Atheism, Pantheism, and even Polytheism lump together at their core because all of them have supernatural results from assumed natural beginnings (yes even atheism). Does that make sense?

The bottom line is this; is there a creator or isn’t there? The polytheistic religions disqualify themselves from serious consideration for two reasons. They are always naturalistic in their explanation (Basically, something, whether matter, time, or universal laws pre-exist them), and the amounts of contradictions swallowed by polytheists are painful signs of irrationality. Ask Ravi Zacharias about it.

Ultimately, you’re left rationally only, with today’s best observations, with four monotheistic options:

1. An impersonal creator (Which really should be connected to pantheism, so rationally this gets pulled out of serious consideration, leaving three)
2. Allah (Allah is arguably an impersonal creator as well, from the mouths of Muslims)
3. Jehovah without the promised Messiah in time yet (Judaism)
4. Jehovah with the Messiah revealed in Jesus Christ (Christianity)

Before you respond to this, go through the mental exercise yourself. See if you can find any religions that go against what I laid out before you.

#11 Guest_shpongle_*

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:35 AM

The answer to your question about Brahma creating the universe is an easy one. As I said in my post in the other thread, God gives us instruction to keep us from getting led astray in our scientific examinations. He tells us He is God, the only God. All others are false gods, so any theories arising from presumptions of what any of these false gods can or would do are automatically invalid.


Or maybe Brahma is the true diety of creation and all other creator gods are false gods. I've got a book here that says Brahma created everything. So go on, prove me wrong.

Your example of food after the flood is a good illustration of this. The ark was large enough for Noah to take on board all the food that his family and the animals would need to eat for the duration, and maybe afterwards for awhile.


Not to re-establish populations of species, especially with respect to predator-prey relationships. Lions for example need about 5-7 kg of meat per day in the wild. Thats around 4 metric tons of meat per year. Elephants eat ~5% of their body weight in grasses each day. An average adult elephant weights ~5000 kg. That means in one year along (for two elephants) you'll need around 1800 metric tons of grass.

I don't recall all the exact numbers I crunched (this was a couple years back), but I took into account potential food supplies, average breeding cycles, average food intake, and population sizes. The numbers I got showed that the carnivores would end up devastating the herbivore populations, which in turn would cause their own population to rapidly decline because they'd use up their food source. End result: no more animals.

But all this is off topic for now. Maybe I'll re-calculate everything and start a new thread on that glaring problem with the flood.

#12 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:44 AM

Or maybe Brahma is the true diety of creation and all other creator gods are false gods.  I've got a book here that says Brahma created everything.  So go on, prove me wrong.


I think I just did. Take a look above.

Not to re-establish populations of species, especially with respect to predator-prey relationships.   Lions for example need about 5-7 kg of meat per day in the wild.  Thats around 4 metric tons of meat per year.  Elephants eat ~5% of their body weight in grasses each day.  An average adult elephant weights ~5000 kg.  That means in one year along (for two elephants) you'll need around 1800 metric tons of grass.


Why would Noah be stupid enough to take adult animals on the ark? Take youngsters or adolescents. They're sturdier and not as big and more in their S@xual prime when they get off the ark. They really could be weaned babies. So what if they can't reproduce for a year or so, keep them like farm animals, where do they have to go in such a hurry, anyway? The earth was just wrecked.

Here watch these before feeling so sure that the Flood History is just myth:

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NPcbeWJtf84
NkxXm1jHO3A

#13 Guest_shpongle_*

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:00 PM

Do you know what's most interesting in the story of Brahma and is the same as all polytheistic stories. They always start with something that pre-exists the god. Polytheism, like all paganism, really is atheistic at its core.


Brahma was borne of Vishnu. Vishnu is eternal in the sense the universe undergoes cyclical creation and distruction forever. In terms of this current cycle, Vishnu pre-existed our universe. At the end of each cycle, Visnhu reabsorbs the universe and the cycle begins anew.

So I have no idea how you are making the leap from Polytheism to atheism in this. And so far you haven't ruled out Brahma as the creator of our universe at all.

You'll have to try harder. :rolleyes:

#14 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:10 PM

Brahma was borne of Vishnu.  Vishnu is eternal in the sense the universe undergoes cyclical creation and distruction forever.  In terms of this current cycle, Vishnu pre-existed our universe.  At the end of each cycle, Visnhu reabsorbs the universe and the cycle begins anew.

So I have no idea how you are making the leap from Polytheism to atheism in this.  And so far you haven't ruled out Brahma as the creator of our universe at all.

You'll have to try harder.  :rolleyes:

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Don't you see how that atheism/pantheism is just repackaged polytheism or the other way around? First off you have an infinite regress which goes against everything we observe, like entropy and second it smacks of the same gobbledygook like the multi-verse.

So even you admit that Brahma isn’t the ultimate creator because he’s created, himself, by Vishnu which describes an infinite universe cycling, an impersonal infinite universe. If you don’t see how this parallels the stories dreamed up by atheists/pantheists, like Carl Sagan, then there is no help for you.

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:11 PM

Why would Noah be stupid enough to take adult animals on the ark? Take youngsters or adolescents. They're sturdier and not as big and more in their S@xual prime when they get off the ark. They really could be weaned babies. So what if they can't reproduce for a year or so, keep them like farm animals, where do they have to go in such a hurry, anyway? The earth was just wrecked.


They have to eat and grow to S@xual maturity don't they? And their offsrping have to eat and grow, etc, etc. It really doesn't matter if you start with babies or adults, beause the babies have to grow into adults first.

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:12 PM

So even you admit that Brahma isn’t the ultimate creator because he’s created, himself, by Vishnu which describes an infinite universe cycling, an impersonal infinite universe. If you don’t see how this parallels the stories dreamed up by atheists/pantheists, like Carl Sagan, then there is no help for you.

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But Brahma is the creator of our universe. It actually doesn't even matter where Brahma came from because that's not the point of the question. The point of the original question was to answer where our universe came from.

Brahma did it. Now can you prove that wrong?

#17 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:30 PM

But Brahma is the creator of our universe.  It actually doesn't even matter where Brahma came from because that's not the point of the question.  The point of the original question was to answer where our universe came from.

Brahma did it.  Now can you prove that wrong?

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This isn't about proof in the “scientific method” sense. If you are rational, Shpongle, you can quickly remove polytheism from being a rational contender. This all depends on what your abstract reasoning skills are tied to.

I asked a question early on, that you may have missed.

What is Shpongle's basic philosophy for approaching truth? What is truth?

#18 Guest_shpongle_*

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:41 PM

This isn't about proof in the “scientific method” sense.


Bingo. I think you got it. :lol:

Now, can we put to bed the idea that science can invoke supernaturalistic explanations? :rolleyes:

If you are rational, Shpongle, you can quickly remove polytheism from being a rational contender. This all depends on what your abstract reasoning skills are tied to.


I don't think we can remove anything. And I especially don't buy your argument that you can equate atheism and polytheism. That doesn't even make sense.

I asked a question early on, that you may have missed.

What is Shpongle's basic philosophy for approaching truth? What is truth?

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My personal philosophy? Or my philosophy for the purpose of the thought experiment based in this thread?

Because I want to make clear I'm engaging in a thought experiment here, so my personal philosophies are being checked at the door.

#19 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:43 PM

They have to eat and grow to S@xual maturity don't they?  And their offsrping have to eat and grow, etc, etc.  It really doesn't matter if you start with babies or adults, beause the babies have to grow into adults first.

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Sure but they don't take up as much room or consume as much food. Also, an infant T-Rex would be a little more approachable then one of the full grown suckers.

The only animals that would have a time sensitive age, were the mammals that would have had to be old enough to be weaned. Dinosaurs could have gone on the boat in egg form since many none-mammals are self-sufficient right at birth, even though this isn’t alluded to in scripture.

I don't know about you, without even knowing what kind of diet they had before the flood, I think Mrs. Noah would find baby tigers a little easier to feed and care for. Also, I would speculate from what the Bible says that there were no purely carnivorous animals before the flood and the plant life was much more robust before the fountains of the great deep broke open. The fossil record reveals this.

Don't forget this wasn't a ten year voyage. It was a very hard several months.

#20 Adam Nagy

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:49 PM

Now, can we put to bed the idea that science can invoke supernaturalistic explanations?  :lol:


It shouldn't invoke supernatural explanations or origins of any kind. The scientific method cannot claim to demonstrate God or Evolution. I believe it validates God and invalidates Evolution but the scientific method falls short either way because God is not subject to the scientific method he is the author of it.

Can you agree to that?

This doesn't relinquish God's importance and existence any more then the scientific method’s incapability of measuring and defining Love, decreases its importance. Can science quantify Love? oh...I see... well... it must be an illusion.

I think some secular philosophers have determined this through rotten philosophy, huh, Richard Dawkins? Mr. Dance to my DNA... :rolleyes:




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