Sam Harris interviews Bart Ehriman

Guyver

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What evidence can I give you?

1) I have personal anecdotal story, but that seldom meets qualification or connects with people. They simply find the intervention of God (supernatural) implausible and scientifically impossible to observe. That is as it should be, because God certainly can make each and every person on the planet believe with no doubts. There is something that happens, tragically, when that happens: Grace is over. Why? Because nobody would have a choice at that point. They could no longer choose opposite. It'd be strong-arming and damning. God tarries that all who can and will, will come based on Grace and love.

The interactions of God with people based on faith are probably scientifically impossible to observe in one sense....you are right. But, I don't find personal anecdotal stories implausible because I have experienced them myself. So, in this sense I would actually accept your testimony. But, I would understand it a bit differently than you do, because you (I'm assuming) only accept your type of religion (Christianity) as the right religion to lead a person to God, and I believe that God works in many wonderous and mysterious ways that are outside of the confines of religion.

God tarries that all who can and will, will come based on Grace and love.

I would also accept this point Lon, but as before I would understand it differently than you do (based on my assumptions regarding your beliefs).
 

Guyver

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What evidence can I give you?


2) Nature declares 'creation' therefore 'Creator.' We see incredible things. We have an earth that is perfect for life. I have a fish tank. If the conditions are off only slightly, certain species will die. If we were just a few degrees closer to the sun, we couldn't survive. A few degrees further away and we'd freeze (no idea what the actual distance for either happens to be). I know you don't want 'the bible' but all truth is self-authenticating. I realize the problem of that, I'm just telling you not to let another's hang up about something become your own. Don't allow bias.

Nature offers us the appearance of design. It seems that all things here work together in such a marvelous and meaningful way to be outside the realm of chance occurrence.

Not only do we live in the "Goldilocks Zone" that you described regarding distance from the sun, but also the tilt of the Earth at 23 degrees plays a very important part. It has to do with protecting us from cosmic radiation in such a perfect way that it allows life to flourish here.

Yet, one may argue that the 23 degree tilt of the Earth that suits life so perfectly here was an accident - the result of the cosmic collision that led to the existence of our own moon. So, there is the idea that what seems perfectly designed, actually could be the result of chance occurrence, even as a pothole seems a perfect "design" for the water that has accumulated in it after a rain. The pothole is a perfect medium for containing water but it doesn't offer us the appearance of design because we know it happens by accident or natural forces.

But these ideas are based upon our own cognition. We know that our own cognition is far from perfect, and we may not even be able to view reality physically, based on the number of physical dimensions that exist. That's one point to consider. Here's another part.

Even as life seems to perfectly suited, designed, intended....for this planet, so is death. Everything that lives dies....but before it does it attempts to reproduce as it struggles for survival. All things work together in nature by balance - or so it appears to us - yet, all things are in a constant state of struggle and death.

So, to accept the view that God is our Creator, that Creation itself speaks to his work, is to also accept that notion that we were intended to struggle, suffer, and die here as well.
 

Guyver

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What evidence can I give you?

3) We have an ability to reason well beyond this material plain. It demands that we also 'have' something beyond this material plain to be able to grasp that which exists, but isn't physically perceived.
Example: We know that a line goes on eternally with no end points. Wherever the universe ends, the line continues, forever. How do we know this? Not by measuring, but by reasoning, logically. We know it. Because we are able to capture that outside of this 'material plain' as true, we too know that something of us and our ability also comes from beyond this natural universe' ability to produce. It is a law of diminishing returns. Energy isn't lost, but neither does a physical world produce nonphysical abilities. We rationalize and conceive and are capable on a much higher plain. Reason? Something more made us than is contained in this universe as we interact physically (see, hear, taste, smell, and touch) with it.

-Lon

The line continues on forever theoretically Lon, not actually. When the universe ends, all things we know end as well. The line would have no medium to continue to travel on, because there is nothing in existence, even as sound has no medium of travel outside of the confines of our own planet and/or atmosphere. So, one can scream as loudly as they want in space, but no one would ever hear it.

Regarding out ability to understand existence outside of our material plane, it's like the idea of your straight line. It exists as an "imagination" or creation of our own mental capacity. We can't say that anything outside of our material plane actually exists for the very reason that we can't measure it or detect it. Therefore, it is possible that these things only exist as a part of our own imaginations.
 

Guyver

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What evidence can I give you?


4) Revelation. That is, 'if there is a God' it is reasonable to expect interaction. There are many religions but few that claim God, Himself came to spend time and communicate with us. Of those, none have the weight of teaching and spending time instructing man, but Judeo/Christian claim.
It is therefore, important for us, as created beings, to seek out truth of such a claim. If God has indeed interacted, according to expectation, we have to find where and how. As far as my journey: the Bible fits that expectation. Was it comfortable? No, because I learned that I don't measure up to what I'm supposed to have been. I believe it. What I'm seeing fits with real-world observation, love, and frustration (etc. etc.).
-Lon

Again, it seems reasonable to US that there would be some type of interaction by God with us, if in fact he created us.....but why must we necessarily conclude such a thing? Is it not because of our own ideas of self importance?

Religions claim all kinds of things, and yes, you are right....many claim that God or the Gods did or do have some type of interaction with us. This has been a part of human belief for as long as we can trace human beliefs in the past and understand them.

But, why must an idea be necessarily so? It doesn't need to be. It is also possible that God did what he did to establish the existence of this universe, and any other universe which may or may not exist.....and then left it to reach it's intended end.

Since God does not make himself available for interviews, and rational thought necessitates the notion that he probably never did.....it's just another assumption we make.

We assume that Jesus came from heaven, or God came to Earth and so forth, but we can't know it. In fact, it begs the question of why once? If God is going to come down from Heaven (wherever that is) and visit people on planet Earth.....why would he only do it once in all these hundreds of thousands of years and for one people only who didn't even appreciate it?

I'm just saying....it's something that should be considered.
 

Guyver

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What evidence can I give you?


5) Other evidence. Sorry, I have to use the Bible for a few moments because to addresses your question of how we know (but I'll paraphrase so as not to give chapter and verse): Paul for instance, says creation declares Him. It says too that those who would be found by God, must seek Him with a promise they shall find Him under His met conditions. Yet another says that men already know by their own minds, that they are not creators, but creations. I did. I knew/know implicitly that I did not create/make myself. I'm the product of something other/greater than I. Even collectively, there is something greater than all we've learned and all we've done OR there would be nothing left to learn or do. It may not look like 'God' at the initial thought, but we all recognize to some degree, there are things vastly greater than ourselves and it bespeaks of greater love, greater intelligence, greater ability etc.

There are more, I'm merely posting a few here. Others have made longer lists of reasons why they know God exists. I'm giving a short one here because interaction wouldn't be as meaningful with a much longer list. -Lon

So, you have a verse from the bible that claims we should understand we were created based upon the observation of created things. That's fine Lon....nothing wrong with it. And, I also agree with the notion that many of us can understand that we were made by something greater than ourselves.

However, for some people that "something greater" could be the universe itself, and/or the multiverse. Again, we have no way of knowing these things.

Certain people have certain benefits for certain reasons. One may be able to schedule an appointment with the president of the United States of America. Most people would not be able to, but some people can.

But, no one can do that with God. We can't hope to get on his calendar for a "sit down" or a lunch, or even for five seconds of his time. By all observable evidence, it seems to me that God has left us here to figure things out for ourselves. Religion offers one method for people who are seeking answers to express the questions, or get answers that work for them..... and for many people, religion obviously works....or seems to do some good.
 

Lon

Active member
The line continues on forever theoretically Lon, not actually.
This is incorrect. Look at your computer screen. The line that intersects with a segment of your screen does indeed continue forever. First. It is invisible and two, it is propositional. It is an 'invisible' line but we conceive it to be true AND can capture the intent in the real world and understand that it has no endpoints by definition. Again, if you aren't able to grasp this, then you have a difficult time with formal operational metaphysical thinking. It is a reality, regardless (like 'red' to a blind man). The blind man may very well doubt and completely dismiss color but he does live in a world where it affects him, whether he/she knows it or not (crossing a street for instance).

When the universe ends, all things we know end as well.
All things 'physically constrained' rather. The line continues forever in two directions.

The line would have no medium to continue to travel on, because there is nothing in existence, even as sound has no medium of travel outside of the confines of our own planet and/or atmosphere. So, one can scream as loudly as they want in space, but no one would ever hear it.
You are thinking of a very very very long segment, not a line.

Regarding out ability to understand existence outside of our material plane, it's like the idea of your straight line. It exists as an "imagination" or creation of our own mental capacity. We can't say that anything outside of our material plane actually exists for the very reason that we can't measure it or detect it. Therefore, it is possible that these things only exist as a part of our own imaginations.
That line, we are talking about, actually DOES exist. You cannot see it, taste it, touch it, hear it, or smell it. It exists nonetheless. Is it 'imaginary?' Sort of, it is rather outside of our finite existence and experience to grasp completely, but it is very much real in principle and mental awareness. "Love" is also one of these 'intangibles' that we very much know is real but have a very hard time measuring. We can't see 'love' but the impression and result. We can't hear it. We can't smell it. We cannot 'touch' it with our fingers. There is no 'love' tastebud. Most of us know, however, in fact, that love exists.
 

Lon

Active member
Again, it seems reasonable to US that there would be some type of interaction by God with us, if in fact he created us.....but why must we necessarily conclude such a thing? Is it not because of our own ideas of self importance?
Not quite. It is first off, a need. I've known for a very long time, there is evil in this world. We've seen, heard, felt and otherwise experienced these. C.S. Lewis calls this the 'problem of pain' and/or 'evil.' He says that we have something in us, opposed greatly to these. If it doesn't belong and if we have some ability/responsibility to remove it, at least from our own lives, or if we want it removed by have no way of doing so ourselves, a concerned God would indeed step in.

It is academic to me: Jesus Christ entered the world and claimed to be from God and the Apostle said He was"the very image of" Him.
"Reasoning" at this point is a 'yes' or a 'no' to the truth claim. There is no gray area to skate in as far as I understand the claims of these scriptures.

Religions claim all kinds of things, and yes, you are right....many claim that God or the Gods did or do have some type of interaction with us. This has been a part of human belief for as long as we can trace human beliefs in the past and understand them.
Some had gods that were just like them, all very flawed. Others have no gods coming to them, just them reaching to god and 'doing good.'
Look at what is the same and also at what is very very different. There is no other like Christianity claims.

But, why must an idea be necessarily so? It doesn't need to be. It is also possible that God did what he did to establish the existence of this universe, and any other universe which may or may not exist.....and then left it to reach it's intended end.

Since God does not make himself available for interviews, and rational thought necessitates the notion that he probably never did.....it's just another assumption we make.
In this case, it is calling the 'claims' bunk. IOW, you are saying you chose "no" He wasn't God nor God's representative. That carries its own consequences. We seldom have the luxury of life choices without consequences and must face the ones, one way or another, that we have chosen.

We assume that Jesus came from heaven, or God came to Earth and so forth, but we can't know it. In fact, it begs the question of why once? If God is going to come down from Heaven (wherever that is) and visit people on planet Earth.....why would he only do it once in all these hundreds of thousands of years and for one people only who didn't even appreciate it?
Scripture, Jesus, answers that question a couple of times. Are you aware of those? It is worth reading for answers you are asking.

I'm just saying....it's something that should be considered.
Considering is not a problem, but rather if in considering, we make poor and/or wrong choices, then that doesn't help. Jesus told one of His disciples in John 20 (Thomas) that those who hadn't gotten to see, like you or me in the 21st century, were more blessed if we believed. Why would you suppose that is? You've a good question here, what is Jesus saying to you and I via Thomas? How 'could' we be more blessed? John 20:24-30
 

Guyver

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If your "religion" doesn't result in daily interactions with God, you're doing it wrong

Lol. Yes, you’re probably right.

However, in fairness....when we sit down to pray....we do all the talking. God does not sit down with us and have a conversation. Those people who claim to hear God speaking are generally thought to be crazy. I’ve seen it happen here, on this very forum. I’ve even engaged these people. When I ask them to tell me what God says, they won’t...or what they say isn’t anything different from what a man would say.

PS. I was unable to log in to the forum for three days. FYI.
 
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