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Thread: Why must theists prove god exists?

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    Why must theists prove god exists?

    I had a philosophy professor who was a teen in Lithuania in WWII.

    He told a story about the Soviet occupation. A Soviet political officer was giving the town an indoctrination lecture. One of the people stood up and said 'If god does not exist why must you prove it?' The Soviet shot him.

    Turning the question around for the theists if god exists and you have faith why must you prove it?

    Christianity above all others is obsessed with arguments to prove god. To me it seems it is not us atheists they are trying to convince, they are really tying to convince themselves.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    I guess that believers want to feel that their belief is justified.

    If evidence is absent it becomes a matter of numbers...the more people that can be convinced that the belief is true, the greater the feeling of justification.

    "All these people believe that it is true, so it must be true."

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    A former Christian apologist (who retained his Christian faith--he just stopped being an outspoken apologist) told me: "You defend God the way you defend a lion--you get out of his way."

    The message was clear: God's a big boy and can demonstrate his own existence. Apologists are not needed.

    It's certainly a high-minded position to take, especially if apologia has been a source of income or group esteem for you.

    During my deconversion period, I entered a phase where I said, "I still believe in God, but I can't properly defend him, so I'm going to stop trying." That phase lasted only a couple of months before I admitted my atheism.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I had a philosophy professor who was a teen in Lithuania in WWII.

    He told a story about the Soviet occupation. A Soviet political officer was giving the town an indoctrination lecture. One of the people stood up and said 'If god does not exist why must you prove it?' The Soviet shot him.

    Turning the question around for the theists if god exists and you have faith why must you prove it?

    Christianity above all others is obsessed with arguments to prove god. To me it seems it is not us atheists they are trying to convince, they are really tying to convince themselves.
    I note that most believers don't give two shits about proving that God exists, especially outside of the context of being obliged to take a introductory philosophy class in college where it is always the central topic. And in that class, they mention the, like, five theologians over the past two thousand years who've written meaningfully on the subject, most of them centuries ago. I mean, how often do you actually meet someone who cares about philosophically proving the existence of God? A lot of people believe in God, but that's not what you're asking. I'd say atheists are, on the whole, a lot more obsessed with the issue of "proof", insisting that it should be the only rational basis for belief, quibbling about where the burden of it lies like it's some grand court case, etc. The issue of "atheism vs theism" etc came up a heck of a lot more often in my secular education than in my religious schooling, and more explicitly in terms of "proof" when it did.

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I had a philosophy professor who was a teen in Lithuania in WWII.

    He told a story about the Soviet occupation. A Soviet political officer was giving the town an indoctrination lecture. One of the people stood up and said 'If god does not exist why must you prove it?' The Soviet shot him.

    Turning the question around for the theists if god exists and you have faith why must you prove it?

    Christianity above all others is obsessed with arguments to prove god. To me it seems it is not us atheists they are trying to convince, they are really tying to convince themselves.
    I note that most believers don't give two shits about proving that God exists, especially outside of the context of being obliged to take a introductory philosophy class in college where it is always the central topic. And in that class, they mention the, like, five theologians over the past two thousand years who've written meaningfully on the subject, most of them centuries ago. I mean, how often do you actually meet someone who cares about philosophically proving the existence of God? A lot of people believe in God, but that's not what you're asking. I'd say atheists are, on the whole, a lot more obsessed with the issue of "proof", insisting that it should be the only rational basis for belief, quibbling about where the burden of it lies like it's some grand court case, etc. The issue of "atheism vs theism" etc came up a heck of a lot more often in my secular education than in my religious schooling, and more explicitly in terms of "proof" when it did.
    Clearly we didn't attend the same religious schools. I received regular instruction in defending my faith. The apostles Paul, Peter, and James all wrote about defending one's faith.

    Heck, if miracles is a proof of the existence of God, then the entire Bible is filled with evidence.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    The issue of "atheism vs theism" etc came up a heck of a lot more often in my secular education than in my religious schooling, and more explicitly in terms of "proof" when it did.
    That makes sense because the whole notion of such magical creatures does not lend itself to proving something. If someone claims to have a god that is an axiomatic statement for all intents and purposes. Such alleged entities are just irrational claims and these claims can only be disputed on evidentiary terms, never proven or disproven 100%.

    I could claim to be Bill Gates's brother and that my DNA was mysteriously changed to protect my identity.

    For me the best way to understand these strange, irrational claims is to appreciate the attraction of conspiracy thinking, something that affects us all to some degree. For those of us who once subscribed to some incorrect, conspiratorial explanation of events but then took the time to actually understand the evidence we were prepared when the next outrageous claim came along and we wanted to see the evidence, not dwell so much on the woo. If one has ever sat on a jury and heard diametrically opposing testimony but was forced to think it through and render a verdict, outrageous claims are easier to dismiss.

    These god claims are at their basis just like emotionally charged conspiracy theories. Eventually one gets to those claimed unexplainable elements that are just too mysterious, think woo.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I had a philosophy professor who was a teen in Lithuania in WWII.

    He told a story about the Soviet occupation. A Soviet political officer was giving the town an indoctrination lecture. One of the people stood up and said 'If god does not exist why must you prove it?' The Soviet shot him.

    Turning the question around for the theists if god exists and you have faith why must you prove it?

    Christianity above all others is obsessed with arguments to prove god. To me it seems it is not us atheists they are trying to convince, they are really tying to convince themselves.
    I note that most believers don't give two shits about proving that God exists, especially outside of the context of being obliged to take a introductory philosophy class in college where it is always the central topic. And in that class, they mention the, like, five theologians over the past two thousand years who've written meaningfully on the subject, most of them centuries ago. I mean, how often do you actually meet someone who cares about philosophically proving the existence of God? A lot of people believe in God, but that's not what you're asking. I'd say atheists are, on the whole, a lot more obsessed with the issue of "proof", insisting that it should be the only rational basis for belief, quibbling about where the burden of it lies like it's some grand court case, etc. The issue of "atheism vs theism" etc came up a heck of a lot more often in my secular education than in my religious schooling, and more explicitly in terms of "proof" when it did.
    Clearly we didn't attend the same religious schools. I received regular instruction in defending my faith. The apostles Paul, Peter, and James all wrote about defending one's faith.

    Heck, if miracles is a proof of the existence of God, then the entire Bible is filled with evidence.
    When did Paul, Peter, or James write one word about "proving God's existence"?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    The issue of "atheism vs theism" etc came up a heck of a lot more often in my secular education than in my religious schooling, and more explicitly in terms of "proof" when it did.
    That makes sense because the whole notion of such magical creatures does not lend itself to proving something. If someone claims to have a god that is an axiomatic statement for all intents and purposes. Such alleged entities are just irrational claims and these claims can only be disputed on evidentiary terms, never proven or disproven 100%.

    I could claim to be Bill Gates's brother and that my DNA was mysteriously changed to protect my identity.

    For me the best way to understand these strange, irrational claims is to appreciate the attraction of conspiracy thinking, something that affects us all to some degree. For those of us who once subscribed to some incorrect, conspiratorial explanation of events but then took the time to actually understand the evidence we were prepared when the next outrageous claim came along and we wanted to see the evidence, not dwell so much on the woo. If one has ever sat on a jury and heard diametrically opposing testimony but was forced to think it through and render a verdict, outrageous claims are easier to dismiss.

    These god claims are at their basis just like emotionally charged conspiracy theories. Eventually one gets to those claimed unexplainable elements that are just too mysterious, think woo.
    Well, sure. But the complaint in the OP is that theists themselves, and Christians in particular, are "obsessed" with this subject.

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I note that most believers don't give two shits about proving that God exists.....






    Watch out folks, poli is on the defensive........again.

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    To me it seems it is not us atheists they are trying to convince, they are really tying to convince themselves.
    Imo, this may be true in some cases to some extent. Depends on the Christian, and the context. The early church apologists, for example, may well have had as a priority the establishing of the credentials and respectability of their own particular and quite new woo-god formulation, to others I mean, not themselves.

    As to who is more interested/obsessed these days, I don't know. Both atheists and theists seem to be involved. I guess that when god's existence started to become widely questioned, both 'sides' took a big interest.

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