Hello all, I just signed up for this forum yesterday. I'm about to introduce myself in the general introductions thread, but before I do that I thought I'd post my general musings to the masses. I am an ex-Christian, and my parents are still stout believers.
One thing that I've seen people insist on here is that an omniscient being precludes free will. This is how the idea was explained to me: God is all-knowing. However, this does not mean that he acts. For example, we know that the sun will rise tomorrow but we don't necessarily cause it to do so. God has a plan, but it doesn't always line up with what we decide to do. Our free will allows us to deviate from the plan, but if we come back to God we are in line with the plan. (although, the problem is knowing what "God's plan" is, and how do we go about deciding if we are in line with it or not?) Therefore, the idea of God knowing everything that's going to happen in our lives is not the same concept as God having a set aside course of action he'd like us to follow. Incidentally, God must know when you're going to follow it and when you will not. My parents also argued that when you are "in line with the plan", God will take action in your life, but he will not do so unless you ask/pray. Laying aside the fact that I think this is all bullshit, what do you guys think of this explanation of free will?
The next thing is that many Christians like to argue that we atheists believe in things we cannot see. I saw one poster on here say we can't see electricity or wind, but we believe in it (this was quickly attacked by many on the forum, with the explanation that electricity and wind are quantifiable and we can study them and apply them). However, I'd like to extend this a little more. What about love? What about abstract emotions? We do believe in love, and love is a random and unpredictable thing. We can't see it, we can't really predict patterns in it, and we certainly can't apply it in a technical sense. How would you rebut this? Are we really prepared to say that love is scientific?
Finally, I am very interested in religious phenomenons and studies behind them. I remember when I was at a worship meeting, and it got very intense, everyone began weeping and praying. I cried a little too, and I cannot account for this. They of course explained that it was the power of God washing over us, but now I know there must be some kind of explanation for it all. If anyone can point me in the direction of psychological studies on things like speaking in tongues, being "slain" by the power of God, or other occurrences from a religious fever, I would appreciate it.