In response to:
Thanks for the post. Your conversation is thought provoking.
That is so wrong I don't know where to begin.
I'm sure you'll think of something... :-)
There is MUCH MUCH MUCH more evidence for the existence of aliens, such as a single eyewitness account (actually, more than one, but one for aliens is more than the zero for God).
Actually, I've found plenty of people who claim to have seen or talked to God. It usually goes like this. "God spoke to me and he want you to do <SOMETHING>." Naturally this sort of nonsense gives Christianity a bad name. But guilt by association is still unjust. There are wackjobs in every group. I recognize that this wasn't your main point, but to extend your analogy. To judge all Christians by the weirdos would be like judging all astronomers by the weirdo "scientists" that appear on Art Bell. To address your main point. There are people who claim eyewitness accounts of God or the supernatural. Who can judge the validity of their claims without investigation... but likely they're about as reliable as the claims of people who see aliens.
The only reason you think it is reasonable is because you already believe, so it's not a stretch for you. You probably deny the existence of aliens, although I consider it a foregone conclusion. My beliefs have infinitely more evidence, but you'd call me a crackpot, and yourself a good person because you believe in faeries, while I believe in green/grey monsters.
Even though I have trouble convincing people of this... reason really did precede my faith. But I suppose I bear some responsibility for that, since I come on so strong. But, hey, this is /. A little offense is the best defense. :-) As for aliens, I tend to think they don't exist. Although that's not a matter of faith. There's nothing mutually exclusive about ETs and Christianity. Although their discovery would generate some interesting discussion. Anyway, I tend to doubt their existence due to Fermi's Paradox. But that's a whole nuther can 'o worms.
If anything, both of us are nuts.
A distinct possibility! Reminds me of the guy in the Hitchhiker's Guide who wanted to find the person who ran the universe... because he wasn't doing a very good job. :-) Even though, to date, we've reached different conclusions, I get the feeling that we're on the same sort of quest. A coupe of very limited creatures trying to grok the infinite. It'd make anyone a little nuts. Anyone who's paying attention anyway...
You can't wrap your mind around infinite complexity or infinite anything for that matter, so you call the infiniteness "God." You may be right, you may be crazy. I don't know.
I agree that we're working with very limited tools. Even if we understood this little planet perfectly, which we don't by a long shot, it's still less than a microscopic speck in the grand scheme. One reaction to that would be to become a skeptic and believe that we can know nothing worth knowing. I tried that, but it's got a logical flaw. How can we say that we know that we can't know anything? If that's true, than we know at least one thing. And if we know that, maybe there are other things that we can know. The other possibility is that knowing that you can't know anything is subject to it's own rule of being worthless knowledge. In that case it's self defeating by it's own definition. My conclusion (well, actually Thomas Aquinas' conclusion) is that we can know things. We've at least got to know that we exist and we perceive things. And from that foundation, limited tho it may be, we can begin to build.
If God is infallible, how could he create humans that are imperfect?
I would argue that he could only create humans that are imperfect. Suppose that you're God, sitting there all absolutely perfect, and you decide you want to create some free creatures. Part of your perfection is that you exist necessarily, you are eternal. And you are the only thing that exists necessarily... in fact you ARE existence. What really exists is you in timeless perfection. It is logically impossible for you to create a perfect being (yes, God cannot do the logically impossible). For to create a perfect being, it would have to exist necessarily (be eternal too), since to exist necessarily is more perfect than to exist contingently. So the best possible thing you could do is to create an imperfect being. At least imperfect in the sense of being contingent. But there's other limitations as well. If the being is created free, then it has the ability to make choices. Suppose it chooses to do things that conflict with reality (you). Suppose it decides to go off an kill some of it's fellow imperfect beings. Could you stop them? Sure! You could remove their freedom or remove them entirely. Either option effectively destroys them. But some of the beings are really trying. Some of them really are searching and trying to conform to reality. Is it better to wipe them all out, or to allow both to continue? However, the situation is more complex, of course, since the groups don't fall so neatly into place. We all, at various times, display traits of both groups. So the real option is whether to destroy everyone. But if that were the best course, you never would have created them to begin with. The sum total of good done is greater than the evil. I know this is really long, but I hope it gives you some flavor of how a perfect God can (must) create imperfect creatures.
You see a device created by man because you know what it is. If anything, a dog sees a shiny rock that has little insects or something in it.
I agree with what you say, but I don't think it's on point. In this case the limitation is with the dog. He's incapable of understanding the order that does exist in the watch. I'm certain that there are things in the universe which we are as incapable of understanding as the dog is the watch. Not to mention our ability to understand God. The only one who would understand all order perfectly would be God himself. But that's not what I'm talking about. We still recognize order at whatever level we are at. We can understand the order of the watch, and we can recognize the greater order of our bodily systems. The dog can understand order at whatever level he is capable. Perhaps that is only, "when the bell rings, I get food." But the existence of order itself is evidence of intelligence, regardless of the level at which we understand it.
ONLY if you are a Christian. If you do not already subscribe to your strict beliefs, God can be a friggin can of soup.
People can, and have, made gods out of all sorts of things. The Christian definition of God implies something truly supernatural. Not just "magical" but something totally above nature. The Christian concept isn't that God is the "coolest thing in creation" but that he is ultimately what exists. Everything else is mostly smoke and mirrors (or mostly space with a scattering of atoms). Any other definition of God really doesn't get to the heart of the matter of existence... because you'll always have an endless "cause and effect" chain hanging in mid air. Ultimately, something causeless needs to exist. And it is the definition of that thing that is of interest... to me anyway...
Please don't take this as an insult, but you seem to have thought too much about a topic that is unthinkable...
No insult at all. I wouldn't be on this site if I was too thin skinned. Part of why I do this is to test my conclusions. It's the closest I can find to talking to a modern age Socrates. I need people to show me what I haven't yet considered. You've contributed to that and I'm grateful.
I hadn't considered that I had thought "too much" about it. Although I would agree that "thinking too much" is possible. C.S. Lewis has a story about a man who declined to go to heaven because he would've missed a seminar about heaven. :) I think that the dividing line on "thinking too much" has more to do with not reaching conclusions than reaching conclusions. Someone who simply derives pleasure from "thinking" tends to never get anywhere. For to reach a conclusion would be to end that which provides him pleasure. I believe that I am honestly after conclusions, while recognizing my limitations. Once I reach a conclusion, I adjust my life appropriately (but imperfectly).
...and taken your FAITH and passed it on as fact.
Despite my "gung ho" Christian appearance, my faith is actually quite weak. If it were stronger, I would be less interested in shoring it up with philosophy, theology and logic. But I do strongly believe that we can know things that are worth knowing. If for no other reason (although there are better reasons) than to be consistent with how I actually conduct myself. I don't step out in front of a car, because I believe it better to not be hit by the car than to be hit by it. That implies that all sorts of things! That I exist. That the car exists. That we exist in some sort of relation to each other, that some things are "better" than others, etc. From that humble foundation, we really can know things worth knowing.
Keep in mind that much of the world disagrees with your assertions of fact.
Bring 'em on! :-) I'm kidding of course. I have no problems with people disagreeing with me. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be posting on /. I am, however, somewhat intrigued by the passion the subject invokes. And somewhat frightened. But I intend to keep on testing myself, and others, and see where it all ends up.
This has been a lot of fun! I'm sure you have plenty to say about this post. Conversations like this tend to grown exponentially. :-) However, since I'm the troublemaker in these parts, I'll let you have the last say (if you care to respond). I promise to read and consider your response, and then we can move on. Unless... there's something you specifically want me to respond to. If so, just let me know in the post and I'll happily type another novel. Thanks again!