Sunday, September 13, 2009

Essay - Belief and the Existence of God


Belief and the Existence of God


Atheism and theism is the central idea regarding our reality, our lives, our being. This essay will aim to draw out the two different ideas regarding the existence of God and how it affects our lives. It will also seek to demonstrate Christian theism as the most rational explanation for our universe. The fundamental question for every person is the question “Is there a God?” We cannot sit on the fence in regard to this universal issue; the relations between belief or disbelief and the existence of God affect the very way we live and the way we perceive life.

A central focus will be made on The Dawkins Lennox debate held in 2007; it will be a heavy reference throughout this essay. Dawkins holds an atheist view point and John Lennox brings a Christian theist’s view point; both are very well qualified men and worth the time to acknowledge on this topic. Their qualifications and short bios are as follows:

“Richard Dawkins FRS is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. He is the author of nine books: The selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind watchmaker, river out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil’s Chaplain, The Ancestor’s Tale and The God Delusion. He is Fellow of both Royal society and the Royal Society of Literature.
John Lennox is Reader in Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green College, University of Oxford. He holds doctorates from Oxford (D.Phil.), Cambridge (Ph.D.), and the University of Wales (D.Sc.) and an MA in Bioethics from the University of Surrey. Professor Lennox has weighed in on the science-religion debate with a new book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?” (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007).

Atheism is the belief in the non-existence of God. (Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2006). There are a number of atheists that vary in their beliefs but there are examples from well known atheists that suggest the primary reasons for their disbelief in God. In the debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, it is revealed some of the reasons why a leading atheist Richard Dawkins rejects the idea of God (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). He states that the revelation of the theory of evolution showed him that the idea of a Supernatural Designer is not needed to produce complex creatures. He also states that if God existed then He would need to come from somewhere. These questions raise a number of issues such as “Does evolution take away the necessity of a Grand Designer?” or “Because we cannot scientifically test God does this mean that God is not real?” For the atheist, reasons such as these cause them to disbelieve in God.

Theism is the belief in God. (Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2006) There are also a number of reasons for theists to believe in God. One reason is that there is design in the universe that is un-explained. John Lennox states that the universe is mathematically fine-tuned for the way we have it (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007), such as the ability to support life. Hugh Ross gives evidence that if it were slightly changed neither we nor life would be here (cited in Deem, 2006). Theists see that where there is apparent design it should be assumed there is a designer. Theists deduct that it takes more faith to believe our fine-tuned universe happened by accident, than to believe it was designed (David Pawson Ministries, 2005).

Morality has been a controversial issue and is thought and considered by every person to some degree. Different fundamental beliefs regarding morality have its consequences, for Christian theism morality is defined by God in the Bible. According to Dawkins, atheism has no absolutes regarding morality except for what our supposed evolutionary development has produced. Richard Dawkins who is a biologist describes morality as “dancing to our DNA” (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). However if this is the case then there is no real or absolute way to define what is morally right or wrong in a universal sense. This kind of thinking is known as relativism; R.C. Sproul Jr. states that with morals being relative it destroys the ability for someone to define a situation as “wrong” or “right”(2007, p.101). Therefore atheistic relativism has the consequence of ultimately no universal “rights”; this line of thinking by obvious reasoning can be destructive. Dawkins argues that our ideas of morals have come from evolutionary causes and development (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). But this line of thinking still leaves a lingering thought: could someone really say that Hitler was “wrong” and be “right”? C.S. Lewis argues that the reason why people thought Hitler was “wrong” is that there was a line that every person looked to in order to judge him by; Lewis illustrates “Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something-some Real Morality- for them to be true about.”(1952, p.13). Therefore universal morality is evidence of a standard not made by human means, but by God.

A significant issue is raised in regards to belief and consequence with the ability to justify his/her reasoning. An argument known as the “argument from reason” can be found in a book “Miracles” which brings to light this problem (Lewis, 1947). What it is saying is that if we were not designed to think then we cannot trust our thinking to be able to reach ultimate truth about our universe. In the chapter “The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism” C.S. Lewis draws out the point that mankind are different from animals in that we see truths through inferences. For example, when someone comes across a garden they inference “There must be a gardener” (The Dawkins Lennox debate 2007); whereas animals are less concerned with abstract meaning and if they come across a garden they may not be as aware that it has a gardener. Throughout history, man has been looking for answers using abstract thought as to why he is here. Evidence of this can be found in the Bible which is one of the oldest books to be written (Nelson, 1994). To conclude the consequences of reason Lewis illustrates:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God” (cited in Argument from Reason, 2009).

Unfortunately for the atheist the problem of purporting rationality from irrationality enters into the realm of science. If science requires the variables being tested to be consistent – if there is no Designer who designed them to be consistent – then how can we be sure that they will continue to be consistent? John Lennox makes a point that the early scientists understood that the laws are orderly because they understood that they had a law-Giver (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). A theist scientist knows that because they are orderly they can actually practice science; this is what science is and demands: “systematic study and knowledge of natural or physical phenomena” (Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2006). If someone disbelieves in God it throws a challenging light onto their justification to practice reliable science, because if the laws were not designed, then they are potentially less able to be trusted.

It is by faith that theists believe in God and it is beyond a reasonable doubt that they do believe (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). Through discussing with atheists (Pilgrimage, 2009), the greatest struggle between atheism and Christian theism is the idea of belief and disbelief in God; the very meanings of those labels and “isms” bear witness to this fact. There are two types of atheists; one is a strong atheist who claims to know there is no God and the other is a weak atheist who does not know if there is a God. A weak atheist claims that by default they are without belief in God but they still admit there could be one, though some claim to be “agnostic” atheists and believe that it is impossible to know if there is a God. Atheism claims that theism is unscientific because God cannot be falsified and theism is accused of using the God of the gaps fallacy (God of the gaps, 2009, The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). Therefore atheists basically believe in what they can be sure of, mainly through scientific demonstration. An emphasis is made on a simple disbelief in God (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). There is no scientific proof of God, nor is there scientific proof of no-God. So we cannot pull down God and test Him in a test tube; proof is only spoken of in the field of mathematics (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). For theists finding truth and having faith is about taking the best conclusion with the evidence they have laid out before them, they take a belief in something beyond a reasonable doubt (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007).

Belief is “a principle or idea considered to be true; religious faith” (Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2006). So a belief is what someone considers to be true; but belief is not merely speaking out what someone believes, but is more like speaking and then acting on what they believe. If someone was a Christian theist by statement and did not consistently do what Christian theists did, then they would not be a real actively living Christian theist. Consider now the weak or agnostic atheist and their stance on their disbelief in God. Notice the claim of “disbelief” (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007) rather than the claim of “I believe atheism”. It is an attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the theist. The theist in reply to the atheist’s disbelief in God might as well reply “I just disbelieve in the non-existence of God” (Brian, 2009). Every person does not have a neutral belief; there is a need to act upon the best conclusion about the existence of God and live it out. Belief or disbelief in the existence of God is not a matter of “I don’t know”, but a matter of “taking the best conclusion”. Atheists not only disbelieve in God but by their actions they actively believe in no God by not acknowledging or following His ways. Without God there can be no absolute right and wrong outside of what individuals think; individuals live the way they like (The Dawkins Lennox debate, 2007). For example, a murderer who has a lifestyle of a murderer cannot say and be neutral (even if he is honest) “I don’t know if there is a state law by which we will be judged”. Belief in regard to the existence of God affects the way we live and we cannot escape it, just as the law of the land affects the way we live.

Every person has a “religion” or something they devote their lives to by choice. Sir Keith Sinclair (1961, cited in Ahdar, 2006, p.620), speaking of New Zealand in post-World War II, states “The prevailing religion is a simple materialism. The pursuit of wealth and possession fills more minds than thoughts of salvation”. Religion is not only a belief in God but a devotion to something people believe in. We need to understand what our chosen religious world view or devotion has led us to and where it is taking us. World views such as Atheism and Christianity need to be weighed and taken seriously.

Some evidence points to the conclusion of God and some evidence points to the conclusion of no God. However, one conclusion is better than the other when the evidence is weighed. The Bible makes the Christian theist’s position clear in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Nelson, 1994). Beliefs have consequences, and people need to have understanding of what they believe and the consequences of what they believe. The Bible says that people are either for Him or against Him; there is no in-between (Nelson, 1994). People need to make the best decision with the evidence placed before them. It is imperative that people make a conscious decision about where they stand regarding belief and the existence God.


References:
Ahdar, R. (2006). Reflections on the Path of Religion-State Relations in New Zealand. Brigham Young University Law Review, 3, 619-659.

Argument from Reason. Retrieved August 21, 2009, from Http://en,wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_Reason

Brian. (2009, July 9). How to be morally responsible sceptic mp3 audio by Dallas Willard. Message posted to the comments, archived at http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html

Collins, C., Cross, R., Gilmour, L., Holmes, A., Mackie, W., & Weber, P. (Eds.). (2006). Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus (3rd ed.). Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers.

David Pawson Ministries. (2005, January 12th) Natural disasters a biblical perspective (Television broadcast). Britain: Revelation TV.

Deem, R. (2006, June) Evidence for the fine tuning of the universe. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designun.html

God of the gaps. Retrieved September 8, 2009, from Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps#Criticisms_of_the_view

Lewis, C. (1947). Miracles. London: HarperCollins Publishers.

Lewis, C. (1952). Mere Christianity (Rev.). London: HarperCollins Publishers.

Nelson, T. (1994) The holy bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Pilgrimage. (2009) Retrieved from http://www.vessel-of-clay.blogspot.com/

Sproul Jr., R. (2002) Tearing down strongholds. New Jersey, P&R Publishing Company.

Taunton, L. (Executive director). (2007, October).The Dawkins Lennox debate. Birmingham: Fixed Point Foundation.

by Daniel (Da Bomb)

42 comments:

  1. Fantastic, Daniel, I look forward to reading this when I get a few spare moments. Congratulations on completing it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How long ago did you write this? Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford.

    Will you be answering any of the outstanding questions in the previous thread.

    I am still very interested to know if you knew many dinosaurs were feathered.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey guys,

    "How long ago did you write this? Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford."

    Over the past 6 weeks or so. I got the info on Dawkins and Lennox straight from the Fixed Point Foundation site about the debates.

    "Will you be answering any of the outstanding questions in the previous thread.

    I am still very interested to know if you knew many dinosaurs were feathered."

    If you are right about those, then no I did not know. When I check my blog quite often I'm at work and there I can't watch videos. So I will try get the time to check out those videos you suggested.

    As I said before, I am not against the idea of evolution Biblically (in regards to animals) but I am just unconvinced. If I believed in evolution then I would marvel at God's handiwork in guiding it to the amazing circle of life to what we have today. Life is amazing and I cannot deny that it had an intelligent Engineer to some degree.

    cheers,

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  4. Richard Dawkins retired a year ago from the position per Oxfords rules. It would perhaps be more appropriate to say 'at the time of the debate he was...' or something like that.

    "If you are right about those," When we refer to facts like that you are encouraged to look them up and confirm them for yourself. You never have to take my word for it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I suspect this essay was turned in for college credit, so I'll refrain from picking it apart, or otherwise disparaging it (aside from the implicit disparagement of this comment), to instead ask that you identify specific thesis statements in your essay and flesh out the support for them. If you prefer not to do this, I'll understand, and leave your essay alone.

    If you think you have the stomach for it, release the hounds, and I'll critique the essay line-for-line.

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Mr. Dan,

    Nicely done sir.

    "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

    That includes the souls of believers and unbelievers alike. My hope and prayer is for G-d to get what he wants, for none to perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    Amen.

    Shalom
    Keith

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is very good, Daniel! Very good indeed!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Stan,

    What is this area of the blog called?...commenting :)

    If I did not want comments then I would not put it up to receive comments LOL.

    My thesis statement is: "The fundamental question for every person is the question “Is there a God?” We cannot sit on the fence in regard to this universal issue; the relations between belief or disbelief and the existence of God affect the very way we live and the way we perceive life."

    One rule...don't use strawmen (disfiguring of my stance) to argue against it since you quite often do so, such as your attack on God and determinism.
    Though, you may have some arguments in support :) But somehow I doubt it.

    Hint: Listen to what I am saying in context instead of pulling a word or sentence out and running with it.

    DB

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thx Matty and No Doubt!

    Baruch HaShem!
    and bless you my brothers!

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  10. Da Bomb,

    I would quibble with this definition;

    "There are two types of atheists; one is a strong atheist who claims to know there is no God and the other is a weak atheist who does not know if there is a God".

    Strong atheists don't normally claim to know there is no God, but they are willing to say that they believe there is no God. A weak atheist lacks a belief in any gods (and you're right to continue to say that they hold this as the 'default' position).

    Neither position deals with 'knowing', that's gnosticism/agnosticism.

    I'll leave it at that for now...


    Cheers,

    ReplyDelete
  11. Rather than fill up your comment section with my 18,000 character response, I've instead posted it on my own pathetic blog. Enjoy.

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  12. Note: If you found the essay rather "choppy", that is the way I like to write. I like being "pithy"!

    I also found it annoying having to fit what I wanted to say in 2200 words :(
    So I aimed to get what I was actually saying across.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My remarks about Dawkin's claims are in the Dawkins Lennox Debate which I reference.

    But that's not the way references work. That would be like saying, "My remarks about Ahab's obsession over the whale are in Moby Dick which I reference." The point of a reference is to show that you have viewed the material, and to show your audience exactly where they can find it. When you cited a verse in Romans, for instance, you didn't say "The bible says [so and so]," but you showed where [so and so] could be found.

    Wrong, there is either God as first cause or no God.

    No, that's not correct. Restating that which is false does not make it any less false. The false dichotomy you employ is that atheism and theism are the central ideas that all people consider, and this is clearly untrue. There are many other ideas -- not just religion -- which people hold as central, and even if we are considering only religion, there are more options than merely atheism and theism.

    Your statement was a false dichotomy with regard to the central ideas, and your response exhibits another false dichotomy with regard to the possibilities regarding deity.

    WATCH THE VIDEO WHICH I REFERENCE. I am summarizing what I have heard him say.

    READ Moby Dick WHICH I REFERENCE. (That's not how references work.)

    No, absolute morality is not absolute or universal to an atheist and cannot be.

    You cannot make statements such as these without supporting them with argument. This is a bald assertion on your part -- do you have a source which corroborates your claim?

    You believe a positive not a negative. So do I.
    BE HONEST.


    Be honest? That's rich. You're intentionally twisting the meanings of things and yet you have the audacity to imply that I am being dishonest.

    According to your "logic" here, there is no such thing as a universal negative.

    Where did I say "all"?...I said "theists"

    Absent a quantitative qualifier, plural nouns imply all such objects whenever the implication makes sense. For example, when I say, "Dogs are named Fido," it doesn't make sense to say that all dogs are named Fido, so the "some" qualifier is implied. When I say, "Dogs swim," it is implied that all dogs swim -- but this isn't really true. I appreciate that you may have meant "some theists," but that simply shows your inexperience with writing college-level papers -- say what you mean, and avoid ambiguity. If you had said "some theists," this particular criticism would not have obtained.

    Atheists not only disbelieve in God but by their actions they actively believe in no God by not acknowledging or following His ways.

    This is absolutely preposterous. How exactly can a person who does not believe in X acknowledge or follow the ways of X? Grow up.

    They have choice to follow X should they choose...

    Missing the point much? If a person neither believes in nor acknowledges the existence of X, how can that person follow the ways of X? Use trial terms again, since it seemed to help last time. Try "fairies," "aether," "unicorns," "perpetual motion machines," "cold fusion," "intelligent theists," etc.

    (Note also the false dichotomy again raised, by the use of the third person singular possessive "his." You beg the question by assuming there is a god, you beg the question by assuming there is one god, and you beg the question by assuming there is one set of "ways" which are "his." None of your fiction holds, and the fallacies couldn't be plainer.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. A lot of my points were dodged and fobbed as useless.

    No, if I ignored a section it's because I didn't find anything worth critiquing -- that's not dodging. If I mentioned a section, it cannot be a dodge by definition. If you think otherwise, feel free to say or show why.

    You fail to see what I am saying.

    Then you need to learn to get your points across more clearly, and learn to actually form an argument. Your essay consisted of little more than bald assertions and terrible references, and it had no recognizable flow. Your blog posts are generally better, so I suspect the word limit was largely responsible...

    If you found the essay rather "choppy", that is the way I like to write. I like being "pithy"!

    "Choppy" does not equal "pithy."

    I also found it annoying having to fit what I wanted to say in 2200 words :(
    So I aimed to get what I was actually saying across.


    From the looks of things, you missed the target, and instead crammed as much disjointed material into the essay as you could. When faced with an upper word limit (that you are in danger of exceeding), it is imperative that you build an outline, and pare it down to the most important points. It is far more important that a paper flow well and maintain cogency than it is to pepper an audience with every bullet point you'd hoped to cover. It would be better to flesh out the most important points -- to argue for them, and provide support for them -- than to make an assertion, claim it is completely true, and move on to another assertion.

    In cases where an upper word limit poses a problem, I will often note in the paper that limitations on the paper's maximum length did not allow for more detail in the argument(s) -- this tells the grader that you recognize that certain sections are scant, but that it couldn't be helped due to the length maximum. Also, if a paper is well-written, graders generally don't mind if you exceed the maximum slightly (say, 10-15% over). If is poorly written, not so much...

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  15. Stan,

    Why did you only quote the first little part of my replies?...I assume to make me look stupid and based on assertions. Rubbish, Stan. If anyone is interested I replied to Stan on his blog with a fuller response than Stan gave here.

    I'll take the first reply as an example of your shocking logic and rebuttal.

    I said: "Wrong, there is either God as first cause or no God."...and I carried on to challenge you to suggest any others..which you failed miserably at.

    No, that's not correct. Restating that which is false does not make it any less false. The false dichotomy you employ is that atheism and theism are the central ideas that all people consider, and this is clearly untrue. There are many other ideas -- not just religion -- which people hold as central, and even if we are considering only religion, there are more options than merely atheism and theism.

    God as first cause or no God is the fundamental belief that affects all of us...eg. heaven or hell or neither.
    If there is something else, I dare you to give any other suggestions. Which you dodged. You make the assertion that it is not always the central idea that relates to humanity.
    I say it is.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Da Bomb

    You wrote "God as first cause or no God is the fundamental belief that affects all of us...eg. heaven or hell or neither. If there is something else, I dare you to give any other suggestions.".

    Ok. How about these?

    1) The world & God may both exist but God may not be the first cause. [e.g. Greek philosophical conception of an uncreated, eternal universe existing with a pantheon of dieties]. In this conception there is no first cause but Gods [plural] exist.

    2) God may exist but reality may be an illusion [e.g. the Hindu conception of 'maya']. In this one there is no first cause because nothing exists to be caused.

    3) Not to mention total disinterest in belief in a diety [e.g. apatheism].

    And why is heaven or hell necessarily linked with creation & belief in God?

    4) For example the world may have been formed by an accident and God [if God exists] does not care about us at all. [e.g. cosmicism]. Note that in this view if God exists He, She, or It doesn't care about us at all.

    5) Or that God is unmoved by faith & therefore whether God is first cause or not is irrelevant. [e.g. Reformed Zoroastrianism].

    Those are only a few possibilities. There are many others.

    You continue "Which you dodged. You make the assertion that it is not always the central idea that relates to humanity.
    I say it is".

    To merely assert something is not equivalent to an argument. Stan has offered arguments. Whether you agree with his arguments or not is irrelevant on this point. You on the other hand quite often [not always] make bald assertions & move on.

    I write this NOT to disparage your essay but to improve it. If I may make a suggestion do something like this. Read out the essay aloud as though you were reading it to the greatest skeptic around. Imagine him trying to pick it to pieces. Now everytime you find yourself pausing over a point because it requires further elaboration then add more. As your argument with the 'sceptic' continues you'll soon realise which points are vital & which, though interesting, can be disgarded.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello Chris,

    Thankyou for your comment. I can appreciate comments that are constructive. I was limited to a word limit and yet I may have made the mistake of fitting too much into it. I could flesh out what I wrote a heck of a lot more.

    Now your response...

    1) The idea of God or gods still affects them ultimately so y point is still valid. Theist in the dictinoary I used could mean gods plural.

    2)Of course we exist. So if there is a God His existence affects us. If you suggest we don't exist then we can discontinue talks because we are not on the same ground and whoever believes that is a loonie.

    3)Disinterest does not influence the existence or non-existance of God. He is still fundamental.

    4) yep, in other words a deist. Though that God affects us in the past but is simliar to an atheist in that they believe God will not influence them. Still it influences the way they view hte world...still a fundamental question about the existance of God.

    5) ?? I don't really get what that is?

    Ulitimately our belief abot God is the essential belief we should all consider...which is my thesis statement and purpose of my essay.

    cheers,

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  19. I will flesh out these arguments on my blog in time. But I aimed to state my arguments, illustrate them and then explain them...which I was able to do briefly.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Da Bomb

    You wrote "Thank you for your comment". You are quite welcome.

    Your response to my first point was "1) The idea of God or gods still affects them ultimately so my point is still valid. Theist in the dictinoary I used could mean gods plural".

    Irrelevant! These Gods I mentioned did NOT create the universe so they are NOT a first cause. Since you were arguing that the first cause argument was of importance to everyone then your assertion is disproven.

    Your second response was "2)Of course we exist. So if there is a God His existence affects us. If you suggest we don't exist then we can discontinue talks because we are not on the same ground and whoever believes that is a loonie."

    That is NOT the concept of Maya. Hinuism holds that everything is a part of God. Including us. That being so, since God is immortal, nothing came into being, therefore there is no first cause.

    Your response to three "3)Disinterest does not influence the existence or non-existance of God. He is still fundamental."

    Bald assertion again. If people are disinterested then obviously they would hold that God's existence is NOT fundamental. Give an argument or let the point drop.

    Your response to point four "4) yep, in other words a deist.

    Incorrect!
    A diest holds that God is absent from the world. In this view God may very well be omnibenevolent but we would never know.

    A cosmicist holds that God is indifferent to the world. In this view the creation of the world is an accident & God couldn't care less if we live or die. The two are NOT the same.

    Your response to my fifth point. "5) ?? I don't really get what that is?"

    In reformed Zoroastrianism God is concerned solely with how we live our lives. Faith is irrelevant. That being so how the world came to be is a matter of indifference to reformed Zoroastrians.

    You added "Ulitimately our belief about God is the essential belief we should all consider...which is my thesis statement and purpose of my essay".

    This is another bald assertion & NOT an argument. DO NOT do this in an essay!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Why did you only quote the first little part of my replies?

    Huh? What did I miss that was so important?

    I assume to make me look stupid and based on assertions.

    Yep, I quoted "the first little part of your replies," "based on assertions."

    If anyone is interested I replied to Stan on his blog with a fuller response than Stan gave here.

    I closed comments for that thread, to keep them all in one place -- here, where they belong -- but if you feel so wronged, repost your comment here. Here, have a tissue. Stop crying.

    I said: "Wrong, there is either God as first cause or no God."...and I carried on to challenge you to suggest any others..which you failed miserably at.

    Your inability to understand your own failure is not my problem. Your statements to this end are so rife with fallacy that I'm not even going to start explaining them to you. Theism and atheism are not the only apples in the barrel, and if you don't realize this... Let's just say that would be an obstacle to casting you in a positive light, intellectually.

    God as first cause or no God is the fundamental belief that affects all of us...

    So you've said, and the blatantly obvious fact is that there are many persons for whom this question is not fundamental, is not central, and is perhaps an issue which is never once considered. Just because it is a big deal to you does not make your Telly Savalas look-alike assertion true for everyone.

    eg. [sic] heaven or hell or neither.

    Exactly. There are at least a thousand different philosophies/religions which include options other than 'heaven/hell or neither.' The dichotomy you present is false.

    You make the assertion that it is not always the central idea that relates to humanity.
    I say it is.


    You're like a kid on his first encounter with a thesaurus. You've learned new logical terms like 'straw man,' 'assertion,' and 'fallacy,' but awareness of the terms is not the same as understanding of their meaning. The statement quoted above contains an assertion, it is true, but that assertion is your catchy outtro, not my statement exposing your assertion.

    Suffice it to say, an assertion is a statement claimed to be true, but which is neither argued nor supported by reference. Check here for a comprehensive treatise on 'assertions.'

    Your essay contains many such statements, most of which are dubious at best, and you seem to think that because you believe your assertions are true, we should think they are true, too. Sorry, buddy, but that's not how it works.

    --
    Stan


    EDIT: I see that Chris has responded while I was composing this; his comment is spot-on.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sniff Sniff :( a tear drop hits the computer keyboard as grown men attack a poor little kid.

    Stay tuned...

    ReplyDelete
  24. If I may make further suggestions.
    1) Use sub-headings. It allows you to keep a tighter rein on your writing and helps you to realise when you've gone offtrack.

    2) Use an introduction where, after introducing the topic of the essay you define your terms. My old lecturer used to drum that into us - define your terms; define your terms.

    3) Given the short length of the essay try doing something like raising one or two arguments, then any counter arguments and possible rejoinders.

    4) Finally you have a conclusion & summing up of the main thrust of your argument(s).

    That's how I'd have set out the topic anyway. Feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks Chris,

    I have already submitted it to be marked, but I will learn for next time. My main downfall is not necessarily what I said but that I did not say enough to support what I said...therefore I needed to cut down the topics.
    I have had friends read over it and thought it was great but I suppose that was because they knew exactly what I was saying and it may be different for an atheist :)
    I tried to stick to consequences of beliefs and that is why I went into morality, reason and science.

    I even appreciate some of Stan's comments but of course it doesn't help reading them amongst mockery and poisoning of the well.

    It is only my second argumentative essay at uni level, so I have time to learn how to do them right :)

    My first one got a B- (I was stoked with that for my first essay) LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is a great Essay, Daniel, and there are some good suggestions in the discussion here (although some of the comments seem to be offered with the possible constructive criticism replaced for a severe helping of sarcasm) on ways to improve it and make this, or your future writing, better. I personally like your style of writing, but like anything, it can always be improved.

    I think a lot of the debate regarding your mixed feedback from various people comes down to who your target audience is. Reading through your essay I get the strong impression that a majority of your arguments were aimed at, and would be best presented to, people already equipped with a certain world view (Christianity) so that all you are doing is offering them ideas to add on to their opinions and experiences -- not a whole new set of beliefs to pick up on and base their critiquing around.

    This way of laying out information with a relatively strong underlying bias can be a big turnoff to a reader who does not agree with many of the statements that are quite concise to your personal world view. The reader would then end up getting snagged on (among other things) the logic specific to the Christian world view. That, however, doesn’t mean you can’t still have a strong underlying bias in your mind. Just don’t make it too obvious on paper (again, depends on the target audience.)

    You have to look at your finished product objectively with that target audience in mind. Will they be able to see a clear picture of both sides of the story? Will they be able to lean toward their own decision/conclusion based on the information they have been given, or will the decision/conclusion feel forced based on a belief system they disagree with?

    The content itself of your essay is great, although kept rather vague. A lot of that I realise was your battle with the word limit, but fitting a clear and concise argument in a short space is a great skill which I think you are moving at a good pace toward achieving.

    A good point for improvement that has already been mentioned here is: less content, more development. And, as we all know, the only way to get better at something is to keep doing it. You can't be expected to write a perfect essay on your second try; and I, like Chris, write this not to discourage you or discount your writing, but to help you improve it.

    Keep it up, Dan, you're doing well!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Many thanks Jon! or is it Steven? :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. No problem, I enjoy reading your blog.

    Heh, Stephen offline, Jon online I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  29. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    Thanks,
    Karim - Positive thinking

    ReplyDelete
  30. DaBomb,

    Al of it is just recycling of the old tirades of creationists. I would not say good job to something like this. Sorry.

    G.E.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Very thoughtfull post on belief .It should be very much helpfull.

    Thanks,
    Karim - Creating Power

    ReplyDelete
  32. G.E.

    You missed an L in "all" :)

    It's alright to have your own opinion. Obviously I find the opposition (atheism) unconvincing.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What I meant Da Bomb, is that there is nothing new. That if I were a creationist teacher marking your essay I would not give you a "good job" for some recycled material. It is much more a summary than an essay with very little effort at adding new stuff (from that debate?).

    Whether you are convinced by atheists or not is not the issue.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh ok,

    The new thought that I had thought about before I came across it in arguments is the thought "there is no neutral belief", we do not disbelieve but all actively believe in something. I have heard similar thoughts but I had not heard this view taken right in detail and I am still arguing it with you guys LOL

    I gathered various thoughts together and formed my own compilation.
    There aren't many essays you can write without somehow recycling material. In fact you are suppose to support your arguments with other sources and people.
    How can you do that without having any relation to what they have already said?

    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. Then my friend Da Bomb, you needed to be more explicit. You should start with some sentence stating what you intent to do with your essay. You should start with maybe: "There are no neutral beliefs." Then explain what you mean by neutral. This way the reader would know what to expect from your essay.

    It is impossible to write something without taking from previous material. That is correct, but if you think the theme has not been analysed or thought from this perspective, then talk about this perspective first.

    I would have also looked for data that might contradict this view. Otherwise you are not giving an unbiased study. But that is an aside.

    Organization and honesty are a main necessity. I think you are studying to become a Pastor of sorts? if so, your profs might not see your biases (it is so rooted into the system that who knows if anybody sees the dishonesty of looking mostly if not only for support to your arguments rather than trying to truly find out if the arguments hold to scrutiny).

    Anyway, just a few pointers.

    G.E.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "I think you are studying to become a Pastor of sorts?"

    No it was a written communication paper...compulsery for all BA students. I took the opportunity to write on anything I liked :)

    I realise I tried to fit too many topics in the essay.

    ReplyDelete
  37. this kind of blog always useful for blog readers, it helps people during research. your post is one of the same for blog readers.

    Thesis Papers Writing

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yeah, blogging is a personal way of finding information, on anyone's thoughts or ideas or beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Just to let people know that I got my marks back and I am rather pleased with the result... could have been better though.

    ReplyDelete
  41. This is an excellent piece of work. I have been searching for it for many days. I will bookmark your website. Keep on posting. Thanks for sharing.
    term paper on law

    ReplyDelete