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skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,21:39   

As per Scary's suggestion, I thought I'd give it a go, but I remember a poll long ago that tells me there aren't too many christians on this site so I don't expect this to go far.

As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.

It could all come down to semantics.  YECs, it would seem, should have serious difficulties with most modern science and have to exercise a fair amount of denial.  As per the poll, these represent the vast minority with, I think, only one active poster and that's Dave.

Just the concept of reading the bible literally is debatable when there arises question of translation, context and historical accuracy.  So I would expect a large variety of view points just from the christians not too mention the remaining majority.  The unfortunate consequence will be the abuse from this majority that will probably keep many from posting or at least posting honestly.  That is to be expected.

I would suggest, in keeping with the theme of the site, we limit the analysis to science associated with evolution or biology and possibly including cosmology and the origin of life.  This should be sufficiently broad without straying to far.

Anyway, as a christian and a scientist, I would be happy to comment upon any science that some might consider a problem for my faith.  Please, Scary, join me and we'll see how far this goes.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,21:53   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,22:39)
As per Scary's suggestion, I thought I'd give it a go, but I remember a poll long ago that tells me there aren't too many christians on this site so I don't expect this to go far.

As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.

It could all come down to semantics.  YECs, it would seem, should have serious difficulties with most modern science and have to exercise a fair amount of denial.  As per the poll, these represent the vast minority with, I think, only one active poster and that's Dave.

Just the concept of reading the bible literally is debatable when there arises question of translation, context and historical accuracy.  So I would expect a large variety of view points just from the christians not too mention the remaining majority.  The unfortunate consequence will be the abuse from this majority that will probably keep many from posting or at least posting honestly.  That is to be expected.

I would suggest, in keeping with the theme of the site, we limit the analysis to science associated with evolution or biology and possibly including cosmology and the origin of life.  This should be sufficiently broad without straying to far.

Anyway, as a christian and a scientist, I would be happy to comment upon any science that some might consider a problem for my faith.  Please, Scary, join me and we'll see how far this goes.

Thanks Skeptic,

I'll post some stuff tomorrow--it's beyond my ability to think critically tonight.  I may post some stupid stuff on other threads, but I want to post something substantial here.

   
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,22:01   

I appreciate that Scary.  I wager that we may be the only two here that will take this seriously.

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,22:03   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,23:01)
I appreciate that Scary.  I wager that we may be the only two here that will take this seriously.

There's probably at least 5-6 christians around here who would like the thread. Heddle's a christian. Wesley's a christian. probably some more I don't know about.

   
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,22:23   

Quote
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.


well, then, you started and finished in one sentence.

congratulations, shortest debate in history.

paint yourself as a theistic evolutionist and move on.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,00:09   

There's intellectually honest Christians, but like lots of things, they're rare. I tend to apply Sturgeon's Law ( or "Sturgeon's Revelation" ..see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_law ) to questions that intimately involve humans --  "Ninety percent of it is crud." Yeah, you can find exceptions and argue it back and forth, but the key to me is that the remaining ten percent (or whatever figure) represent something exemplifying the quality/thing in question. Because humans build identity with the ideas they adopt, it's hard to separate oneself FROM the ideas and examine them critically. It causes fear not unlike the fear of death, because it may mean seeing a cherished part of oneself "die."

So...people like AFDave and other intellectually DISHONEST people fling up endless barricades against this threat. I pointed out to Dave, for instance, that it is possible to create infinite justifications and excuses for decidedly "un-Christian" behavior just as it is possible to behave like a complete a$$hole while proclaiming oneself a "humanist" or atheist or agnostic or whatever.

Religion is a Swiss-Army knife of "memes" -- I don't know that there's a limit or exhaustive list of things it touches and affects and can assert power over...THAT'S what makes it scary to wield and scary to lose and scary to see in others and in ourselves.

This depth and breadth and all-encompassing power can only ALSO be approached only by one other cognitive construct: Science. This is why I keep the two separate and don't let them touch...to me, they're matter and anti-matter, but that's just MY view.

There's Christians and Buddhists and Agnostics and Atheists and Muslims and Mormons that would give their lives to save a kid from burning alive in a fire, and I'm not going to deny them the basic decency and humanity this reflects. And on the other hand, most PEOPLE are still largely unreflective and non-self-analytic and selfish and lazy and often capricious, delusional and cruel. I'm no exception, and my ideology doesn't neccessarily change a bit of that, apparently.

Oh, and I'm still not sure what to make of this universe and existence in it. It's all very weird to me.

Edit:
I'll add that I have yet to find any reason to make my "religious" views known to ANYONE, save myself. This has the tendency to disassociate it from the innate human drive towards power -- the desire to get other beings to think and do what you want them to -- and I think this is an acceptable position for me to hold.

--------------
AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
shadowcatdancing



Posts: 7
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,01:58   

I am a Christian; I believe myself to be intellectually honest, and I have not found intellectually honest Christians to be any rarer than intellectually honest atheists (or Muslims, or Jews, or anything else).  I have never had a problem reconciling faith and religion. My father was both an ordained minister and a high school science teacher who did indeed teach evolution in his biology classes, and was politically active opposing the "Creation Science" of the '80s.  Evolution is a problem primarily for those who believe in Biblical inerrancy, but I was not raised in a tradition that preaches Bilblical inerrancy.  Most mainstream denominations do not, but the evangelical fundamentalists who do are noisy enough that they get the attention, and many nonChristians get the impression that they are all there is, especially since they are often happy to make that claim.  
It is a major frustration to those of us who are not evangelical fundamentalists.  We often find it easier to simply not indentify ourselves as Christians in this kind of setting to avoid being asumed to be people like AFDave.  
I'm not sure what this thread will wind up discussing, but it will be interesting to find out.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,03:05   

Skeptic,

Of course there are intellectually honest christians, there are intellectually honest everyones! Being a christian does not preclude one from being a scientist or vice versa, I know many scientists christian or otherwise who simply never consider the issues on which conflict would arise, or even consider them important.

Even Davey is to an extent intellectually honest, given the set of unspoken axioms from which he is working. I perhaps better elaborate on that a little. I don't think that Dave is intellectually honest full stop, very far from it, but he is attempting to reason from a position that is untenable. That reasoning is the same sort of thing that everyone does, Davey's problem is not that he is incapable of reason or intellectual honesty, but that he has tied so many psychological facets of himself to a specific set of axioms that he cannot allow himself to reason honestly outside of the very limited room those axioms give him. This is a common and well understood phenomenon from passionate advocates of specific political models (for example Stalin) to passionate advocates of specific religious ideologies (any fundamentalist of your choice). The "problem" isn't only religion, religion is but one aspect of the "problem".

If you really see no conflict between religion and science then you deliberately ain't looking, to be blunt. Granted the science/religion clash is not the whole deal, rather one sliver of a larger epistemological conflict between different human mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe. The TRAGIC thing is that thus far, the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.

{awaits howls of outrage}

Well guess what, denial ain't just a river in Africa. When you can explain why your faith in an otherwise undemonstrated proposition is valid evidence for said proposition, I'll be extremely interested to see why you think other people's faith in further otherwise undemonstrated propositions is invalid. Satires like the FSM may appear childish, but the reason they are so often dismissed is because they really are like the child who notices the emperor has no clothes on. They blow the whistle on something we mostly don't want the whistle blown on. Sadly they are devastatingly accurate in what they are satirising. And I really do mean sadly.

Speaking of intellectual honesty Skeptic, aren't you the one who, speaking as a scientist of course {cough splutter}, thinks that evolutionary biology is false based on...... Oh wait, I remember now. The "God of the gaps" argument is not an intellectually honest one in whatever form it takes. Colour me sceptical about all this.

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,05:56   

In principle this thread is not a bad idea--but I suspect it will end up just like all other threads here--a series of insults, guffaws, and backslaps. Like Louis's closing paragraph:

Quote
Speaking of intellectual honesty Skeptic, aren't you the one who, speaking as a scientist of course {cough splutter}, thinks that evolutionary biology is false based on...... Oh wait, I remember now. The "God of the gaps" argument is not an intellectually honest one in whatever form it takes. Colour me sceptical about all this


Not a call for discusion--just the same-old same-old M.O.

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,06:09   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,22:39)
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.


Based on what I have seen among Christian boards as well as my own experience, there is a tremendous tension between Christianity and science.

In the US a brand of evangelical Christianity is the norm.  As such there is a ton of popular media directed toward Christians.  On a regular basis this media puts out comforting words to sincere Christians saying things like:  “You know the things you’ve been hearing about evolution?  Well it turns out real scientists aren’t even sure about it.  Plus it can be mathematically proven that we were designed.”

Most Christians—even educated ones—are ignorant of the real biological sciences so this type of thing is easy to accept.  In addition they are often taught a false dichotomy of “if evolution is true there is no God.”

But in some cases (like mine) people decide to look just a little deeper.

When they do they see the lies being propagated in the name of Christ, it does provide a challenge to one’s Christian faith.  Those without a basis for their faith outside of literalism and popularism truly struggle.

I’m hoping a thread like this one will genuinely discuss how to resolve some of those issues (and acknowledge some are never going to be resolved.)

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)

This depth and breadth and all-encompassing power can only ALSO be approached only by one other cognitive construct: Science. This is why I keep the two separate and don't let them touch...to me, they're matter and anti-matter, but that's just MY view.


At some point for me the cognitive dissonance between the two was just too loud to ignore.  I had based my entire life since I was 17 on the truth of Christianity.  Gave up a full ride to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to pay my way through Bible college, took my family to live in the poverty of Appalachia.  (I don’t mean to make it sound like these were awful things—we’ve had a great life—but the stakes were pretty high for me.

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)
I'll add that I have yet to find any reason to make my "religious" views known to ANYONE, save myself. This has the tendency to disassociate it from the innate human drive towards power -- the desire to get other beings to think and do what you want them to -- and I think this is an acceptable position for me to hold.


This is pretty much my stance.  One of the things I hated about ministry was being the morals instructor/enforcer.  The way evangelicals practice their faith today the minister is trying to impose Christian behavior from the outside.

I always had the opinion if you are a Christian you ought to know not to treat your wife like crap—you shouldn’t need someone to tell you.

Now that I am out of ministry I enjoy being responsible for my own faith and not everyone else’s.  I’m OK with God whether someone else agrees, disagrees or doesn’t even think about me.

And power—even in small congregations—is a real issue in Christianity.  I’ve often said if you’re a nobody in life you can always find fame as a pastor.  It’s the easiest gig to get.

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,04:05)
If you really see no conflict between religion and science then you deliberately ain't looking, to be blunt. Granted the science/religion clash is not the whole deal, rather one sliver of a larger epistemological conflict between different human mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe. The TRAGIC thing is that thus far, the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.


If God exists—and I believe He does (note the caps)—then His existence is consistent with accurate science, at least in my view.  I don’t believe He set up a lying universe.

I don’t expect to ever understand all of God nor of science, but denial is not an alternative.  I am willing to say I have my own reasons for maintaining my faith, but I do try to integrate scientific reality with it as well.  Denial is intellectually lazy and cannot, by its very nature, lead to deeper “faith.”

Heddle:

As I was about to post I caught you comment.  Yes, it is possible this will end up being about insults.  But what I have found on this board is that, in the main, if you treat people with respect they give it back.

I think the title of this thread is somewhat unfortunate--I don't think we need to debate whether there are intellectually honest anybodys, of course there are.  If we approach this thread from the idea of "we don't know everything about our faith but are trying to see how we can combine faith and science into a consistent whole"  I believe it will be helpful to everyone.

Sure maybe Louis, Lenny et al will put in some jibes, but then again, maybe sometimes we deserve them.

You have to admit framing the debate as "are there intellectually honest Christians" maybe wasn't the smartest way to label this thread.

   
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,06:41   

It's pretty clear that "Christianity" means very different things to different people who claim to subscribe to it. For that matter, words like "religion", "faith", "God", etc. are so fuzzily defined that discussions like this never really get anywhere.

Science thrives on precision - both in the narrow sense of measurements and in the broader conceptual sense of framing questions. I've never had the impression that was much of a priority in religion. In fact, to be frank, it seems to me usually the opposite: that religion thrives on never being pinned down, on always being able to say to any logical contradiction: "but that's not what I mean".

Well, I gotta go now, so I hope I haven't accidentally disrespected anyone. I'll be back.

--------------
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,07:21   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,06:09)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,22:39)
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.


Based on what I have seen among Christian boards as well as my own experience, there is a tremendous tension between Christianity and science.

In the US a brand of evangelical Christianity is the norm.  As such there is a ton of popular media directed toward Christians.  On a regular basis this media puts out comforting words to sincere Christians saying things like:  “You know the things you’ve been hearing about evolution?  Well it turns out real scientists aren’t even sure about it.  Plus it can be mathematically proven that we were designed.”

Most Christians—even educated ones—are ignorant of the real biological sciences so this type of thing is easy to accept.  In addition they are often taught a false dichotomy of “if evolution is true there is no God.”

But in some cases (like mine) people decide to look just a little deeper.

When they do they see the lies being propagated in the name of Christ, it does provide a challenge to one’s Christian faith.  Those without a basis for their faith outside of literalism and popularism truly struggle.

I’m hoping a thread like this one will genuinely discuss how to resolve some of those issues (and acknowledge some are never going to be resolved.)

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)

This depth and breadth and all-encompassing power can only ALSO be approached only by one other cognitive construct: Science. This is why I keep the two separate and don't let them touch...to me, they're matter and anti-matter, but that's just MY view.


At some point for me the cognitive dissonance between the two was just too loud to ignore.  I had based my entire life since I was 17 on the truth of Christianity.  Gave up a full ride to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to pay my way through Bible college, took my family to live in the poverty of Appalachia.  (I don’t mean to make it sound like these were awful things—we’ve had a great life—but the stakes were pretty high for me.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)
I'll add that I have yet to find any reason to make my "religious" views known to ANYONE, save myself. This has the tendency to disassociate it from the innate human drive towards power -- the desire to get other beings to think and do what you want them to -- and I think this is an acceptable position for me to hold.


This is pretty much my stance.  One of the things I hated about ministry was being the morals instructor/enforcer.  The way evangelicals practice their faith today the minister is trying to impose Christian behavior from the outside.

I always had the opinion if you are a Christian you ought to know not to treat your wife like crap—you shouldn’t need someone to tell you.

Now that I am out of ministry I enjoy being responsible for my own faith and not everyone else’s.  I’m OK with God whether someone else agrees, disagrees or doesn’t even think about me.

And power—even in small congregations—is a real issue in Christianity.  I’ve often said if you’re a nobody in life you can always find fame as a pastor.  It’s the easiest gig to get.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,04:05)
If you really see no conflict between religion and science then you deliberately ain't looking, to be blunt. Granted the science/religion clash is not the whole deal, rather one sliver of a larger epistemological conflict between different human mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe. The TRAGIC thing is that thus far, the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.


If God exists—and I believe He does (note the caps)—then His existence is consistent with accurate science, at least in my view.  I don’t believe He set up a lying universe.

I don’t expect to ever understand all of God nor of science, but denial is not an alternative.  I am willing to say I have my own reasons for maintaining my faith, but I do try to integrate scientific reality with it as well.  Denial is intellectually lazy and cannot, by its very nature, lead to deeper “faith.”

Heddle:

As I was about to post I caught you comment.  Yes, it is possible this will end up being about insults.  But what I have found on this board is that, in the main, if you treat people with respect they give it back.

I think the title of this thread is somewhat unfortunate--I don't think we need to debate whether there are intellectually honest anybodys, of course there are.  If we approach this thread from the idea of "we don't know everything about our faith but are trying to see how we can combine faith and science into a consistent whole"  I believe it will be helpful to everyone.

Sure maybe Louis, Lenny et al will put in some jibes, but then again, maybe sometimes we deserve them.

You have to admit framing the debate as "are there intellectually honest Christians" maybe wasn't the smartest way to label this thread.

I am not a Christian, or religous.  But I am not a Dawkinist either.  I know and have worked with many Christians who are scientists, and they are just like the rest of us - some good and some bad.  I think that someone can be a good scientist and have "Faith" in the religous sense, and still believe in his or her own version of a superior being.

And I have seen some of the good that religion can do when I lived in Africa.  I have seen the doctor's in a mission hospital working for days to save lives after an accident when the local hospital had given up.  I have seen missions trying to help the local populations generate income and food (works before faith).  So there is a lot of good out there, as well as bad.

Please don't judge all religions by what you see in the United States.  The US is different to most other western countries.

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,07:26   

I happen to squeeze a fair amount of joy and happiness out of "spiritual feelings"? My wife and I are in a downside at the moment but usually we are active members of the downtown Unitarian Church here. I learned to meditate maybe 40 years ago or so and have been to dozens of meditation retreats since then. I have tried to practice zen consistently since a few years after my sister and her husband adopted a vietnamese child in 1967. Her strength of will (the child, now a grown woman) ended up pulling a lot of relatives who happened to be buddists here to America in the early 70's. I developed a close friendship with one of them, her older brother by 22 years. He helped open a monestary in seattle which got him seriously rich so he closed the monestary and opened up a meditation retreat just outside of vancouver b.c. He caters to the very rich and puts the money into an endowment, most of which goes back to vietnam as direct financial support of several monestaries there. The monestaries ihe supports are primarily involved in food distribution and, greusomely enough, buying prosthetic limbs. There is apperently still quite a need although I haven't been there to verify that. I do know that he doesn't own anything to speak of other than a Prius and quite a few pairs of shoes. That was a lot of background that might seem unimportant until I lay this next one on you.

I was in college before I found out christians were real. I thought they were sort of contemporaries with the Carolingians in their heyday and, after martin luther they had just become sort of 12 step program for sheer bonkersness only it's designed to keep you there rather than get you out. Maybe they are friends of Llib. . I thought, honestly, that when I walked out in the forest ( I lived on a mountain in the North Cascades) and saw and felt god that that is what everybody meant when they said god. When Nik taught me to meditate, I assumed that was what religion was. It was my way of reconciling the fact that a long time ago there were religious people who weren't crazy like dafyy duck like they are nowadays. (Maybe it's genetic) I used christian the way davey uses it. Having nothing whatsoever to do with jesus. In fact, I remember which church my mom told me to write in the school form so as not to upset the nutty ones who still did the jesus act. I have never even been down the road that church is on. Having lots of books, lots of rain and professors for parents (Botany and History) I read the old testament, the new testament, the bagavad gita and who the heck knows how many more holy books and I put them right next to Swiss Family Robinson and Hans Christiaan Anderson where they so obviously belonged.

So, that all said, my perspective on whether you can have an intellectually honest christian/muslim/pagan/hindu/whatever depends on their take on the belief. If they believe the stories in theor books then I have to say no, you can't. Have you ever heard the old saying, "give us the child till he's 7 and we'll give you the man"? It's a catholic school saying. I say give the books to a reasonably bright kid and let him read them before you talk about it and you get someone who has been innoculated against the evolutionarily advantagous trait of our species to use hate and fear to galvanize small bands of semi helpless animals together to fight the competitors for whatever niche or child labor force they happen to be exploiting. I have never gotten over my shock when I learned that a girl I wanted to , er, take to the movies or a malt shop, was xian. Really xian! She actually believed! In all outward ways she appeared normal. In fact in some areas, she was above average. But scratch the surface and bizzarro world lay out before you. She offered to take me to her church but i never went. The first time I ever attended a church was with my wife. She dragged me. Insisted. I might have been 25 or so? It turned out to be evangelical and the pastors very first words were "No amount of good deeds could have saved Ghandi from ####."

My suspicions were confirmed and so far, it's 100%. Those who appear normal yet profess faith, it's a code word. It means something on the continuum between "I Like to hang out with other people and do things in my community" and I" like this stuff. What did you say it was again?"

Wow, this staying up all night thing makes me goofy. Well, it's bedtime g'Night all.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,08:04   

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 04 2007,08:26)
So, that all said, my perspective on whether you can have an intellectually honest christian/muslim/pagan/hindu/whatever depends on their take on the belief. If they believe the stories in theor books then I have to say no, you can't.


I respectfully disagree.  Or at least I think I do.  I am not a literalist, but I do believe the Bible to be reliable.  I am not immune to considering positions that seem to be the opposite of what I believe the Bible is saying.  If you are saying literalists cannot be intellectually honest, then I agree.  If you’re saying one must accept the Bible as total mythology to be intellectually honest, then I disagree.

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 04 2007,08:26)

My suspicions were confirmed and so far, it's 100%. Those who appear normal yet profess faith, it's a code word. It means something on the continuum between "I Like to hang out with other people and do things in my community" and I" like this stuff. What did you say it was again?"


I don’t believe I fit into either of those camps.  First, I don’t attend a church.  I don’t believe organized religion is the way to go—it involves too many power and money issues.  I hang out with some Christians (many of them pastors) on an informal basis, and  I discuss with them the same types of things I discuss here.

Second, I have a pretty good grasp on my own belief system which I am constantly refining in the light of new experiences/information/study.  I don’t really depend on others to define my belief system.

I guess over time it will become obvious if these two things are actually true for me or if I am just deluded.

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 04 2007,08:26)

Wow, this staying up all night thing makes me goofy. Well, it's bedtime g'Night all.


I’ve been up most of the last two days—I can emphathize.

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,09:36   

Actually Russell makes an excellent point, one I should have made myself. {smacks self in head}

What do you mean by "god" and "religion"? I would argue that science has shown that many definitions of "god" have no basis in fact. Note the word MANY not the word ALL. It is possible to imagine a god concept which is consistent with what we currently know about science for example.

"Religion" based on faith or revelation alone falls into that category of epistemological methods that are anathema to reason and thus science. That conflict exists. Does this mean it's impossible to be "religious" and a "scientist"? No it doesn't because as Russell correctly notes it really depends on what you mean by "religion".

Are we going to see the Dennettian "faith in faith" brought out? I hope so, it solves so many problems.

Louis

P.S. Heddle, if someone behaves in a specific manner damned near all the time do you have any qualms "judging them by their works"? No. So when we have people with known posting habits and known, shall we say, less than 100% unblemished intellectual honesty records, is it wrong for us to "judge them by their works" also? Only when it conflicts with the Almighty Heddle 'twould appear! I note you are not averse to leaping to the conclusion that this discussion will be futile based on your experiences, just like I am. Hypocrisy much?

I am MORE than happy to grant anyone, even Skeptic or you or (and it pains me to say it) GoP the benefit of the doubt, but when we've all been here before many times, shouldn't you faith boys be willing to demonstrate just a touch of what you ask for yourselves? Tell you what, I'll restrain my inital skepticism, hold fire on being annoyed that yet again we go around the same merry-go-round of theist double standards and optimistically look forward to an interesting discussion. Heck, I'll go one better, I'll sincerely apologise for my initial skepticism and any insult or offense I may have caused:

Skeptic, and any other religious person reading, I apologise for my initial cynical skepticism, it was entirely unwarranted. It won't happen again.

Now can I hope and dammit even pray that the usual suspects will demonstrate a modicum of intellectual honesty and demonstrate that my initial statement (that intellectually honest christians exist, I notiuce you missed that) is true? By your works shall ye be judged Heddle. You boys play honestly and I'll keep my temper. Sound fair?

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Bye.

  
afdave



Posts: 1621
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,09:56   

Contrary to the majority viewpoint here, I consider myself to be an intellectually honest Christian and, since I have been lumped in with the AiG people (rightly so) I would be interested in hearing why Scary Facts thinks I am not (and they are not) ... maybe start with ONE of your biggest specific gripes.  (I already have heard your speel, Deadman)

It is particularly interesting to hear that SF says he used to be a Biblical literalist, but is no longer since coming to AtBC.  I would be interested in what key items he found at ATBC changed his mind.

--------------
A DILEMMA FOR THE COMMITTED NATURALIST
A Hi-tech alien spaceship lands on earth ... DESIGNED.
A Hi-tech alien rotary motor found in a cell ... NOT DESIGNED.
http://afdave.wordpress.com/....ess.com

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,09:58   

ScaryFacts,

Quote
If God exists—and I believe He does (note the caps)—then His existence is consistent with accurate science, at least in my view.  I don’t believe He set up a lying universe.

I don’t expect to ever understand all of God nor of science, but denial is not an alternative.  I am willing to say I have my own reasons for maintaining my faith, but I do try to integrate scientific reality with it as well.  Denial is intellectually lazy and cannot, by its very nature, lead to deeper “faith.”


There are several things I could say to this. Firstly I'd say that to an extent I agree that it is possible to form a god hypothesis consistent with current science. Secondly, I'd say that this is really going to come down to what your definition of your god is. If your definition of god is that he is an 8 foot black geezer stood on the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower shouting Dutch obscenities at German tourists (which I don't for a second suspect it is, it's a silly example with a serious point) then we can pretty much rule your god as non-existant. The point being that if your god hypothesis is open to falsification on the basis of available evidence, you might already be in trouble (like the AFDaves of this world). If however your god hypothesis is not open to falsification on current evidence then there's a different discussion we can have. If your god hypothesis is not open to falsification at all, then that's yet another conversation. It all depends on what you mean by "god" (capital letters or otherwise).

Also, just what do you mean by denial? I don't and never have "denied" that a god is a possible thing that might exist. I do deny that anyone has demonstrably proven any god hypothesis reliably (because AFAIK they haven't). Please prove me wrong on that. I also deny that faith and revelation are reliable methods for acquiring knowledge about the universe because there is no way to reliably distinguish between two equally unsuported faith claims. But that's all bog standard basic epistemology. I'd say all of the above for fairies at the bottom of my garden, Santa Claus and the Loch Ness Monster. The burden of proof doesn't rest with me, but with the person proposing the validity of their positive claim (in this case, you). As I've pointed out to GoP any number of times, I don't care one way or the other what reality IS, whether or not it contains a god, many or none. I have nothing personally invested in the question. What I DO care about is that, if we are going to claim that X is part of reality, we have some reasoned, evidenciary basis for doing so. There are many, hopefully obvious reasons, for why that is. And no, it really isn;t because I am prejudiced against god, a philosophical materialist, or any number of asinine straw objects I know a decent bloke like you won't resort to!

If you are claiming that your god is something we don't/can't fully understand then sorry chum but that's really not cutting any mustard. It's the argument from personal incredulity and the argument from mystery added together. It proves, demonstrates and illuminates nothing. Saying something is mysterious or unkowable by fiat is the end of inquiry not the beginning. Perhaps your not saying that, perhaps you mean something different by "denial", enquiring minds want to know!

Wasn't there some bod who mentioned the two books of revelation, one of scripture one of nature? Where is your god to be found in the book of nature? Appeals to mystery, personal (in)credulity and the like don't work for all the standard reasons.

Yours in hopeful anticipation of a genuinely excellent discussion with a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-) *

Louis

*And no I am not being sarcastic.

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Bye.

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,10:16   

I'm back. Fortunately it looks like no one took umbrage at my remarks so far.

As I said, owing to lack of definition of terms, I expect this discussion to go nowhere. That said, I have to admit the subject of religion has always fascinated me; so I'm following the discussion anyway.

Here's an example of why it's interesting. Nutcases like afdave illustrate the (obvious) point that religion can be just plain flat-out wrong. There's a notion that questions of "right" or "wrong", "correct" or "incorrect" are just not applicable to anything under the umbrella of "religion". Platitudes promulgated by mass media and politicians, appealers to common denominators, cultivate mushy notions like "all religions are beautiful, true, valid, (etc.)". So sometimes the just plain flat-out wrongness of an afdave comes as a bit of a shock. What's interesting to me is that someone so (apparently, at least) reasonable and rational as "Scary Facts" could have, until quite recently, been a co-religionist with afdave. The transition between flat-out wrong and fully open to the light of reason and the discipline of science (two different, though related, things, by the way) seems so radical, it's hard to fathom.

(Likewise, incidentally, the reverse transition: from sensible, rational, reality-based community member to flat-out fundamentalist. I wonder, for instance, about afdave's new boyfriend, Sanford. Maybe he wasn't much of a scientist, as opposed to technical tinkerer, before his conversion. Either that, or I have to ascribe it to a radical psychological or neurological breakdown. Generally, I'm pretty skeptical of the story you see over and over in fundamentalist literature: "I was a convinced atheist/secular humanist/evolutionist/whatever until one day...")

Like just about everyone, I consider myself a tolerant person. But, then, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards have protested they're not racist; Jews and blacks might beg to differ. The point is that whether someone is tolerant or intolerant is best judged by disinterested third parties. I'm tolerant of any religion insofar as it makes no difference to me what anyone believes, just what he/she does. I don't care if afdave believes that the earth is 6000 years old, or in special creation, or whatever. But I do care if he tells lies to kids about what science is and what scientists say.

Elsewhere in this forum I have described a position I call "insomesensism". I like to think that for religious people who are open to any and all science, or for that matter for religious people who just don't care about science, but do humanitarian work, their religion is "in some sense" true. Frankly, I can't figure out how some of what I think are the basic tenets of Christianity can be true. But who cares? I'm not trying to convince or unconvince anyone. I like to think it's a good exercise in philosophy and humility for me to remind myself that I may be wrong, and believers may be right, about Christianity "in some sense" that I just completely don't get. That's "insomesensism" from the perspective of the nonbeliever; that's how a nonbeliever can view a believer with not just tolerance, but respect. The other side of "insomesensism" is on the part of the believer: without trying to figure out how a nonphysical god could sire a human son, or other such seemingly scientifically dubious propositions, a believer might just note that he/she is a product of a culture that is organized around this religion, that culture is - thus far anyway - viable and valuable and productive of all sorts of wonderful things, and so that religion must "in some sense" be true. Or, again from the believer's perspective, perhaps he/she might just have a strong religious "feeling", and - knowing that the feeling is real, just as love of another human can undoubtedly be real without having anything to do with correct/incorrect, accurate/inaccurate, right/wrong - he/she might conclude that there must be something to it; it must "in some sense" be true.

So what's the difference, you ask, between the mushy, politically and commercially expedient, "all religions are beautiful" platitudes - which nauseate me - and "insomesensism" - of which I approve? It can be a tricky distinction. But one criterion is that some religions make claims about the physical world, and stake their credibility on those claims. That right there is probably enough to warn potential shoppers in the market for a religion that they should keep looking. (When they not only make those claims, but refuse to accept the judgment to which they have submitted themselves, then they have joined the ranks of what I bluntly call "stupid" religions. Does that make me intolerant?) Such religions can't be true "in some sense"; they're either right or wrong about their truth claims.

Finally, there's a possibility that, frankly, I find disturbing. Various people, of various religions, have made the argument that religion has been an important part of all successful large-scale societies (nations, empires, groups of nations, etc.). Christians, in particular, have argued that Christianity, in particular, is a foundation upon which all of western civilization is built, and that without its core, it's just a matter of time before western civilization collapses. Never mind whether it's "true" or not, or whether that question even makes any sense. I understand - without pretending to be an expert on these things - that that's a central tenet of Straussian NeoConservativism. I hope they're wrong. I don't think we have enough data to say that this view is accurate with respect to past societies, and I'm not convinced that, even if it is, that it still applies in the rather different circumstances of the 21st century. But I certainly don't know that they're wrong.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,11:40   

Let me clarify something several of you asked about.  When I said coming to AtBC was the final nail in the coffin of literalism for me, I wasn’t meaning to indicate I was a complete literalist until I came here in August.  Twenty years ago, after getting out of Fundy U I was certainly a hard-core literalist in the “Day-Age” tradition.  College students typically see things as black/white so I fit into that nicely.

Then I got out into the “real” world working with “real” people and I began to see more possible variety of interpretation for many things.

When you are a pastor and you truly care about the people you are ministering to, debates about literalism, homosexuality, creation v. evolution really don’t come up very often.  You spend much more time helping a guy repair his marriage after an affair or helping the truly poor or getting a prostitute off drugs.

Ten years ago when Darwin’s Black Box came out I didn’t have much interest in reading the book, but I read several detailed reviews in Christian periodicals and they seemed to make sense.  Without doing the research myself, it seemed Behe had reconciled creation with science.

By this time I also began to see how some passages fundies taught were literal were likely allegorical—which wasn’t a big deal for me since the Bible uses allegory on a regular basis.  I began to see the first three chapters of Genesis as obvious allegory, though I don’t recall ever discussing it with anyone.  Again, it just didn’t seem that important compared with the other things I was doing.

I think AFDave refers to this as “comfortable oblivion”—I figured Behe et al had done the hard work of reconciling science with an evangelical view of the Bible so I didn’t worry about it.

This past summer I read a book on the evolution of conscious thought and I first began to understand how RM+NS worked (at a very basic level) and that’s what brought me to AtBC.  The big change for me when I got here was realizing how baseless and overtly dishonest many of the leaders in the creationist movement truly are.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,07:41)
It's pretty clear that "Christianity" means very different things to different people who claim to subscribe to it. For that matter, words like "religion", "faith", "God", etc. are so fuzzily defined that discussions like this never really get anywhere.


You may be right, but I tend to think the discourse can be positive for anyone wishing to explore new areas of the spiritual.  You guys and gals tend to be logical and methodical and will tell me an idea is crap if it is.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,07:41)
Science thrives on precision - both in the narrow sense of measurements and in the broader conceptual sense of framing questions. I've never had the impression that was much of a priority in religion. In fact, to be frank, it seems to me usually the opposite: that religion thrives on never being pinned down, on always being able to say to any logical contradiction: "but that's not what I mean".


One of the things I am trying to do in my life know is to present (mostly for my own benefit) the reasons why I believe the things I do.  While they may not be precise in the quantitative sense, they do fall, I believe, more into the realm of “investigative proof” where one can say their faith is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:36)
What do you mean by "god" and "religion"? I would argue that science has shown that many definitions of "god" have no basis in fact. Note the word MANY not the word ALL. It is possible to imagine a god concept which is consistent with what we currently know about science for example.


My understanding of God is based on the traditional Judeo/Christian deity as pictured in the Old and New Testaments.  While there will always be some debate on every specific characteristic of this god, the broad strokes a pretty well agreed upon:  Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:36)
"Religion" based on faith or revelation alone falls into that category of epistemological methods that are anathema to reason and thus science.


If the Bible is reliable (as I believe it is) Christians should not only have the revelation (Bible) but also consistent objective evidence of God working in real ways in their midst.  I will write more on this, but if you go here you can see the type of things I am talking about:

http://whorechurch.blogspot.com/2006/12/miracle-of-ice-cream-cake.html

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:36)
Skeptic, and any other religious person reading, I apologise for my initial cynical skepticism, it was entirely unwarranted. It won't happen again.


For the record, I was no way offended.  And skepticism is good—faith without question isn’t very strong faith.

 
Quote (afdave @ Jan. 04 2007,10:56)
Contrary to the majority viewpoint here, I consider myself to be an intellectually honest Christian and, since I have been lumped in with the AiG people (rightly so) I would be interested in hearing why Scary Facts thinks I am not (and they are not) ... maybe start with ONE of your biggest specific gripes.  (I already have heard your speel, Deadman)

It is particularly interesting to hear that SF says he used to be a Biblical literalist, but is no longer since coming to AtBC.  I would be interested in what key items he found at ATBC changed his mind.

David I was not trying to single you out as intellectually dishonest.  I think those who take a literalist view of scripture are either:

1. Ignorant – In the real sense of the word:  They just don’t know how many impossible to reconcile ideas are in the Bible
2. Intellectually Dishonest/Deluded – Because of their world view they cannot grasp the inconsistencies produced by literalism
3. Lying – They know the things they are saying aren’t true, but they continue to say them for sake of money, ego, power, etc.

I’m not going to place you, as an individual, into any of these three because I just don’t know which you would fit into.  If there is a fourth option I would be happy to entertain it.

Why do I say they must be intellectually dishonest?  The evidence for common descent, ancient earth, local (versus global) flood, etc. is overwhelming.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
If however your god hypothesis is not open to falsification on current evidence then there's a different discussion we can have. If your god hypothesis is not open to falsification at all, then that's yet another conversation. It all depends on what you mean by "god"


First, I don’t have a “god hypothesis” – I am just like everybody else, trying to figure some things out.  The definition of god is a moving target (as you noted) so coming up with a way to “falsify” god is not going to happen.  Man would just come up with a new god consistent with whatever falsified the old god.  Kinda like when Coke tried that new formula.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
Also, just what do you mean by denial?


Not you, Christians.  (see above)

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
What I DO care about is that, if we are going to claim that X is part of reality, we have some reasoned, evidenciary basis for doing so. There are many, hopefully obvious reasons, for why that is. And no, it really isn;t because I am prejudiced against god, a philosophical materialist, or any number of asinine straw objects I know a decent bloke like you won't resort to!


I agree completely.  I want to come up with a way of looking at spirituality consistent with the evidence I have—mostly personal—from my own life.  You can accept it or reject it, it matters little to me, but I want to see if I am just deluded or if the weight of the evidence produces a “reasonable” belief.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
If you are claiming that your god is something we don't/can't fully understand then sorry chum but that's really not cutting any mustard. It's the argument from personal incredulity and the argument from mystery added together. It proves, demonstrates and illuminates nothing. Saying something is mysterious or unkowable by fiat is the end of inquiry not the beginning. Perhaps your not saying that, perhaps you mean something different by "denial", enquiring minds want to know!


A couple of things:

First, when I recommended we have a thread it was not to prove or disprove any hypothesis—I’m not sure I would be the one to define it and I don’t think we have yet looked enough at extra-Biblical evidence to make any predictions, etc.

Second, if the Judeo/Christian picture of God is substantially correct then we ought to be able to learn much about him.  What I mean when I say “I don’t expect to ever completely understand God” is more like “I know much about quantum mechanics, and I’m confident I can learn more, but I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand it.”

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
Yours in hopeful anticipation of a genuinely excellent discussion with a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-)


If I find one, I’ll let you know.  I don’t have any here with me today.

Edit: Just for clarity - I didn't mean there aren't any rational and intelligent human beings at AtBC, I was talking about "here" as in "my den"  i.e.:  I'm not a rational or intelligent human being.  Sorry I wasn't more clear the first time.
 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,11:16)
What's interesting to me is that someone so (apparently, at least) reasonable and rational as "Scary Facts" could have, until quite recently, been a co-religionist with afdave. The transition between flat-out wrong and fully open to the light of reason and the discipline of science (two different, though related, things, by the way) seems so radical, it's hard to fathom.


Which is why I wrote the above.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,11:16)
(Likewise, incidentally, the reverse transition: from sensible, rational, reality-based community member to flat-out fundamentalist. I wonder, for instance, about afdave's new boyfriend, Sanford. Maybe he wasn't much of a scientist, as opposed to technical tinkerer, before his conversion. Either that, or I have to ascribe it to a radical psychological or neurological breakdown. Generally, I'm pretty skeptical of the story you see over and over in fundamentalist literature: "I was a convinced atheist/secular humanist/evolutionist/whatever until one day...")


People adopt or reject a philosophy not because of reason but because of emotion.  Typically they have a deep seated need to have the psychological pay off that particular philosophy offers.  Maybe his mother died and on a sub conscious level he needed to believe she went to heaven.  Who knows.


 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,11:16)
Elsewhere in this forum I have described a position I call "insomesensism". I like to think that for religious people who are open to any and all science, or for that matter for religious people who just don't care about science, but do humanitarian work, their religion is "in some sense" true. Frankly, I can't figure out how some of what I think are the basic tenets of Christianity can be true. But who cares? I'm not trying to convince or unconvince anyone. I like to think it's a good exercise in philosophy and humility for me to remind myself that I may be wrong, and believers may be right, about Christianity "in some sense" that I just completely don't get. That's "insomesensism" from the perspective of the nonbeliever; that's how a nonbeliever can view a believer with not just tolerance, but respect. The other side of "insomesensism" is on the part of the believer: without trying to figure out how a nonphysical god could sire a human son, or other such seemingly scientifically dubious propositions, a believer might just note that he/she is a product of a culture that is organized around this religion, that culture is - thus far anyway - viable and valuable and productive of all sorts of wonderful things, and so that religion must "in some sense" be true. Or, again from the believer's perspective, perhaps he/she might just have a strong religious "feeling", and - knowing that the feeling is real, just as love of another human can undoubtedly be real without having anything to do with correct/incorrect, accurate/inaccurate, right/wrong - he/she might conclude that there must be something to it; it must "in some sense" be true.


As I have said elsewhere I had certain experiences while taking the Judeo/Christian path that lead me personally to believe the God of the Bible exists.  That doesn’t mean I’m write or that the experiences I’ve had were caused by a Christian deity.  Possibly I was mistaken, mislead or there is some other option—like a previously unknown common consciousness.

Just to be clear…

When I suggested a thread I wasn’t secretly trying to convert the atheists by my rapier wit logical argument.  I just wanted to have a place where we could discuss spiritual issues as related to science.  I am personally disgusted when a Christian says “Oh, I’m here just to learn” when in reality they are planning the whole time to convert those who haven’t asked for their religious input.

Edit:  That was supposed to be "right" not "write"

   
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,11:55   

Since you're so keen on mocking people like k.e who misspell once in a while, AFDave, you should know the word you wanted was "spiel" , not "speel," and you've shown yourself to be as UN-Christian a person as I ever want to see, so your overall claims have no weight with me.

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
afdave



Posts: 1621
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,13:20   

For what it's worth, I consider my signature block to really sum up the "proof" for an Intelligent Designer quite decisively and succinctly.  Identifying the Designer is another matter, however, and in my opinion involves study in various disciplines including ancient historical documents, archaeological finds, and the mythology of various cultures, among other things.  We do not believe in the existence of George Washington because of any "scientific evidence" to my knowledge.  We believe he existed because of written eyewitness testimony which, for many reasons, we judge to be reliable.  It's the same with the God of the Bible for me.

********************************************

DM ... I doubt I ever "mocked" k.e about his spelling ... I recall poking fun at PuckSR's spelling once in response to him (or someone) doing that to me, but I quickly discarded that idea because some found it offensive and it served no purpose.  And I would guess that SF does not want you bringing you little personal gripes with me over to this thread.

--------------
A DILEMMA FOR THE COMMITTED NATURALIST
A Hi-tech alien spaceship lands on earth ... DESIGNED.
A Hi-tech alien rotary motor found in a cell ... NOT DESIGNED.
http://afdave.wordpress.com/....ess.com

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,13:29   

Quote
Quote
...a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-)


If I find one, I’ll let you know.  I don’t have any here with me today.
Hmmm... I guess we nonchristians are not welcome on this thread. Oh well. Have an uplifting conversation among yourselves, Christians!

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,13:51   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,14:29)
 
Quote
 
Quote
...a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-)


If I find one, I’ll let you know.  I don’t have any here with me today.
Hmmm... I guess we nonchristians are not welcome on this thread. Oh well. Have an uplifting conversation among yourselves, Christians!

Golly, I take a break from writing to see what's going on and find I have offended Russell.

I understand there have been a lot of jabs on the AFDave thread, but that was not my intent.

Just for clarification I was making fun of myself--I meant, literally, "I don't have any genuinely rational and intelligent human beings here with me, in my den."

The group here at AtBC are some of the most rational and intelligent people I have ever seen.  I'll try to be more careful

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,16:48   

Scary,

Quote
Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence


Ouch! That's quite a burden. Can god then create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it?*

(Hat tip to Descartes)

I think, on the issue of attempting to prove or disprove god, that it isn't necessary for you to do it, I'm certainly not interested in disproving your god. What I AM interested in is trying to get an accurate model of the universe. Or at least as accurate as possible. If that universe includes something that you might call god, then so be it, but please do us all the favour of providing us with something approaching evidence for your claims. See below....

Quote
First, I don’t have a “god hypothesis” – I am just like everybody else, trying to figure some things out.  The definition of god is a moving target (as you noted) so coming up with a way to “falsify” god is not going to happen.  Man would just come up with a new god consistent with whatever falsified the old god.  Kinda like when Coke tried that new formula.


So why should we treat such a malleable concept which has no explanatory power (by the very virtue of being so malleable) with any respect over and above a similarly malleable concept? Why is your faith in your god any more or less valid than my muslim chum's faith in his god?

If all your claim of god existing is based on is your faith in god and "seeing him work in your life" type anecdote, you have to admit that other people have similar faith and anecdote which is diametrically opposed, and mutually exclusive to your own. How does an independent observer distinguish between the two claims? By their results doesn't work because how "nice" or "nasty" something is, or how nice or nasty believing is it is doesn't have any reflection on whether or not it is representative of reality i.e. true.

Louis

* The point is not to stump you with this question but to demonstrate the logical incompatibility of such infinite concepts. If god is all powerful he can do anything. If god is all knowing he can conceive of anything. etc. The answers "why would he want to?", "god is not subject to mortal logic" etc are a total abrogation of the theist's responsibility to support their claims and an overt admission that they understand how ludicrous such combined concepts are.

P.S. You ARE a rational and intelligent person, not because on some things you agree with me but because it comes across in your posts. It's like how we all know that AFDave's an ego ridden arrogant arse, Skeptic's an occasional obliviot, Heddle is a bright bloke using his rectum as a snorkel and GoP is a revolting scumbag. Agreement is immaterial. My best friend is a christian and pretty much every bit as much an atheist as I am. I'm an atheist and pretty much every bit as christian as he is! Figure that one out ;-)

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Bye.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,16:49   

As so often happens, I miss a day on these boards and so much content is posted that it becomes impossible to keep up, at least in the time available.  I'll just add my two cents where most pressing.

I made the comment that I see no conflict between science and religion not as a historical one (which would obviously be false) but as a personal one.  This goes to the heart of my second point which Louis and I have danced around before so I'll try to make it better this time.

The idea that science can disprove the existence of God is in question.  I use the big "G" in an effort to avoid the purple elephant or Effiel Tower lunatic analogies and just try to focus upon God as a supernatural concept.

Science is forever framed within human perspective and also confined by it.  We attempt to describe the universe in terms we can understand based upon reason and logic universal to all.  Anything beyond these limits is untestable by science, reason or logic.  This is not a statement about actual existence just the ability to evaluate existence in these terms.

Faith is not based upon reason in the same sense.  With a primary basis in introspection, meditation and revelation, a person makes a reasoned choice to believe based upon the impact and strength of these sources of knowledge.  Physical measurements are not taken and evidence of this nature is not gathered.  All knowledge gained is ultimately of a personal nature and not directly transferable to another.  It must be experienced.  As the saying goes, "Some things have to be believed to be seen."

It is for these reasons and distinctions that I have no conflict between science and religion.  They don't speak the same language, they don't live in the same town and they don't hang out together.  In short, they have nothing in common and do not belong in an opposing conversation (my opinion).  That is also why, I feel, that the statement as to the existence of God being assessed by science is foundationally wrong.  Science can not be used to evaluate God, to me, it's just that simple.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,17:58   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,21:39)
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion

Neither do most other Christians.  (shrug)

The ONLY ones who do, are the fundamentalist Biblical-literalists, and they are just a tiny (though very loud) lunatic fringe within Christianity.  Were it not for the enormous political power that the fundies have within the Republicrat Party, no one would pay any more attention to fundie creationist/IDers than they pay to geocentrists or flat earthers.

The vast majority of Christians, worldwide, don't have any gripe with evolution, cosmology, or any other area of modern science.  The vast majority of Christians, worldwide, view the fundies as a bunch of nutters who do nothing but cause harm to Christianity, by making it look silly, stupid, uneducated, medieval, backwards and pig-ignorant.

The fundies, of course, try very very hard to paint this as a "science v religion" fight.  It ain't.  It's a "tiny lunatic fringe of religious kooks v . . . well . . . everyone else" fight.

That, BTW, is why the evangelical-atheist campaign to stamp out religion is, besides being utterly futile and hopeless, simply shooting at the wrong target.  "Religion" is not the problem.  "Fundamentalism" is.  Some people, apparently, can't tell the difference.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:17   

but, Lenny, by you're earlier definition, I'm a fundamentalist.  :D

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Please excuse this jab as it was meant in good humor.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:17   

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,03:05)
the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.

{awaits howls of outrage}

No argument there.

The thing is, though, that it's not just questions about "knowledge of the universe" that we humans want to answer.  We also want answers to metaphysical questions about ethics, morals, social relationships, etc etc etc.  And, alas, science simply cannot deal with those questions.  Science can tell us exactly how many cells a four-week-old embryo has, but science can't tell us whether it's OK to abort that embryo.  Science can tell us which precise amino acid changes produce blonde hair instead of brunette -- but science can't tell us whether blondes are cuter than brunettes.  Science can tell us precisely which chemical changes in the brain accompany which specific thoughts or opinions, but it can't tell us which of those thoughts or opinions is "correct".

Let me cut-and-paste a post I made at T.O. a few years back that talks about this very point:




> God does not contradict science, but a belief is God is not consistent
> with the scientific viewpoint (i.e. it is not a falsifiable
> hypothesis, there is no evidence etc.).

The same is true of the belief that blondes are cuter than brunettes, or that Shakespeare is a better writer than Chaucer, or that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate. These beliefs are also not consistent with the scientific viewpoint, since there is is no falsifiable hypothesis (how would you demonstrate that vanilla ice cream objectively tastes better than chocolate), no evidence, etc. Indeed, most of the things that human beings think are simply not consistent with science or the scientific method -- they are subjective opinions that simply can not be tested or scientifically justified in any way. And I see nothing wrong with that.

Science has a constrained area within which it can operate. It also has a huge area in which it can NOT operate. Science is not a philosophy, not a worldview, not a system of morals, and not a plan for life. Science can tell us about the biological process of conception, but can't tell us anything about the moral or ethical question of abortion. Science can tell us how to terraform Mars, but can't answer the moral or ethical question of whether it should be done. Science can tell us how global warming is occurring, but can't give us any answers to the political/economic questions of what to do about it.

Religion/ethics, on the other hand, also has a constrained area within which it can operate. Religion/ethics can tell us whether I should or shouldn't drive my car on the wrong side of the road, but can't tell us how to fix the transmission on a '95 Chevy. Religion/ethics can tell us whether or not we should push the whooping crane into extinction, but can't tell us how long ago the American lion became extinct. Religion/ethics can tell us whether or not to produce genetically altered food plants, but can't tell us which nucleotide substitution produced this new genetic allele. Much of what humans want to know is not a matter of religion/ethics -- they are straightforward objective observations, which are best found using the scientific method. And again, I see nothing wrong with that.

Science and religion/ethics simply have nothing to do with each other. They are two completely different ways of looking at two completely different types of questions. Science simply can't deal with any questions of subjective judgement or ethical decision -- which means that science simply can't deal with a huge area of human activity. Religion/ethics, on the other hand, simply can't deal with any questions of objective measurement or observation -- which places large areas of human activity out of its sphere of competence.

Problems arise when, for whatever reason, one of these spheres of competence attempts to force itself into the other. Creationists attempt to force their religious/ethical view onto science, where it simply doesn't belong. Others attempt to force a scientific view into religion/ethics, where it simply doesn't work. Both are equally invalid.

At this point, perhaps I should point out that I do not think a belief in a supernatural god is necessary for a religious/ethical viewpoint -- I have long been a practictioner of Taoism, which does not posit the existence of any supernatural god or gods. I am simply attempting to point out that your chief criticism of belief in god -- that it cannot be tested using the scientific method--is equally true for ANY ethical or morality-based statement. "Murder is wrong" also cannot be tested or justified using the scientific method. Neither can "I deserve a raise at work". Neither can "that politician is an idiot". Neither can "blondes are cuter than brunettes". Indeed, NEARLY ALL of human beliefs and activity are inconsistent with the scientific method, not just a belief in God.

So to your question "why do people believe in god rather than atheism", you might as well be asking "why do people like chocolate ice cream better than vanilla". It all comes down to individual subjective judgement, and science simply has nothing to say about it. Some people choose to believe in a god, some don't. Some people choose to eat vanilla ice cream, some don't. Attempting to determine "why" just leads to a morass of subjective opinions, individual judgements, and lots of cultural and social factors whose effects may even be unconscious and unnoticed. The question itself simply cannot be answered using the scientific method.

And again, I see nothing wrong with that.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:41   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,06:09)
In the US a brand of evangelical Christianity is the norm.  As such there is a ton of popular media directed toward Christians.  On a regular basis this media puts out comforting words to sincere Christians saying things like:  “You know the things you’ve been hearing about evolution?  Well it turns out real scientists aren’t even sure about it.  Plus it can be mathematically proven that we were designed.”

Most Christians—even educated ones—are ignorant of the real biological sciences so this type of thing is easy to accept.  In addition they are often taught a false dichotomy of “if evolution is true there is no God.”

But in some cases (like mine) people decide to look just a little deeper.

When they do they see the lies being propagated in the name of Christ, it does provide a challenge to one’s Christian faith.  Those without a basis for their faith outside of literalism and popularism truly struggle.

I think that's a great nutshell, and hits all the salient points.

(1) it's not just the fundies who want this to be all about "evolution proves there is no God".  The evangelical fundies want it every bit as much.  As I've often said, the evangelical fundies and the evangelical atheists simply aren't that different.  They both present the very same basic argument (they both want science to support their religious/philosophical opinions), and just choose different sides of the same coin.  

(2) when people learn about evolution and subsequently give up their fundamentalist religion, that is largely because THE FUNDIES HAVE TOLD THEM TO DO SO.  So the fundies have no right to bitch and complain when people simply accept at face value what the fundies themselves have told them -- "if evolution happens, then there is no God".

(3) those who do indeed have a faith that is based outside of literalism (or, as I like to put it, those who worship a God instead of a Book About God --and are smart enough to know the difference), don't have any gripes with science.  The only ones who DO have a gripe are those who DON'T have any basis for their faith outside of their literalism (or, as I call them, the ones who idol-worship a Book About God instead of a God, and are too stupid to tell the difference -- like, ya know, AFDave).

The literalists are, have always been, and very likely always will be, a tiny minority within Christianity.  The ONLY reason they are such a nuisance in the US is because of the political influence they have in the Republicrat Party.

But, as I've noted before, that is all about to change.  The fundies, like all extremist ideologues eventually do, have reached further than their grasp --- they have finally pushed their extremist agenda far beyond what anyone is willing to support, and have thus lost most of their influence.  Then there is the simple fact that the Republicrat Party is basically the "party of the angry white man", and as the US population grows, those same "angry white men" will themselves be a distinct minority within the US by the middle of this century.  Most voters will, then, be ethnics and women -- neither of which are very fond of the fundie/Republicrats (and vice versa).  So, within a few decades, the angry white man can stamp his foot all he wants --- he won't have the numbers to win at the voting booth, and his angry agenda will fall by the wayside.  (Paley, of course, won't like that --- I, of course, welcome it.)   That will essentially be the end of the fundies as any sort of effective political movement.  They'll go back to their churches and waste their lives waiting for their imminent Rapture.  (shrug)

What needs to be done is for the religious majority to take back their own religion.  For far too long, mainstream churches have allowed the fundies to piously wrap themselves in the mantle of holiness, and have allowed the fundie nutters to paint themselves as not only the MAJORITY of Christians (which they are not) but as the ONLY REAL CHRISTIANS™©.  It's time to show everyone that denying reality, as the fundies do, doesn't make you holy --- it only makes you STUPID.

Alas, though, that is a task for Christians themselves to accomplish.  Scientists can't do it, and CERTAINLY the evangelical atheists can't do it.  It is a matter of organizing, not a matter of science.  The fundies gained prominence within American religion by means of political power.  They can only be removed from prominence in the same manner.

So, my message to all the non-fundie Christians out there is simple;   don't preach -- ORGANIZE.

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stephenWells



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:52   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,18:17)
> God does not contradict science, but a belief is God is not consistent
> with the scientific viewpoint (i.e. it is not a falsifiable
> hypothesis, there is no evidence etc.).

The same is true of the belief that blondes are cuter than brunettes, or that Shakespeare is a better writer than Chaucer, or that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate.

I would strongly disagree. De gustibus et de coloribus non est disputandum, but that doesn't make statements of taste, or moral judgements incompatible with a scientific worldview, it just makes them not amenable to investigation by science. Belief in a god, however, involves proposing the _existence_ of a specific entity with specific properties.

Imagine if I said that my favourite hair colour was neither blonde nor brunette, but Flunge. Flunge is not on any spectrum or chart of hues, nor is it observable even in principle in any way, as you can only see it inside your head when your eyes are closed. No-one on earth currently has Flunge hair, but Helen of Troy did.

Are we going to bother discussing the importance of Flunge to hairstyling?

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,19:41   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,11:40)
I think those who take a literalist view of scripture are either:

1. Ignorant – In the real sense of the word:  They just don’t know how many impossible to reconcile ideas are in the Bible
2. Intellectually Dishonest/Deluded – Because of their world view they cannot grasp the inconsistencies produced by literalism
3. Lying – They know the things they are saying aren’t true, but they continue to say them for sake of money, ego, power, etc.

Here I must disagree, to an extent . . . For most fundies, their Biblical literalism is, quite literally, an inescapable part of the way they view the world.  One does not come from the other --- BOTH reflect each other.

The salient thing about fundamentalists (of ANY ideology), the one thing they ALL have in common, is the utter terror they have of making decisions.  Deep down inside, they are terrified of the world -- they view it as a frightening place with all sorts of dangers just waiting to snap them up if they make the slightest mis-step.  This is not paranoia (although certainly many fundies do descend quite easily into "Satan is everywhere" paranoia) -- it is INSECURITY.  For the fundies, life is insecure and utterly terrifying.  If you talk to a fundie about what his life was like BEFORE he became a fundie, it's the same story --- whether it was drug addiction, sex addiction, crime, whatever, the essential point is that they wanted to live their life in such a way that **they never had to make any decisions for themselves**.  They always allowed others to make decisions for them, whether it's the boss that fires them, the cops that arrest them, or the family that kicks them out.  Their life is utterly at the mercy of others.  They cannot function by themselves.  They are insecure and cannot make their own decisions because they're terrified of making the "wrong decision".

Fortunately for them, they are able to find a way out of this paralyzing insecure terror.  It comes from CERTAINTY.  Utter, complete, total, unquestioned certainty.  For fundies who accept that, there is no longer ANY need to make the big decisions ------ there is only ONE Truth and only ONE "correct" decision, and it simply cannot be wrong.  Furthermore, they don't even need to learn for themselves what that One Truth is ----- their fundamentalist religious leaders (their father figure) can TELL them.  And for fundies, the single most comforting thing in their entire lives is **to be told what to do so they don't have to decide it for themselves**.

There is a result of this view of life, one that directly impacts the whole "evolution debate".  To the fundies, FACTS SIMPLY DO NOT MATTER.  I do not mean by that that fundies are ignorant (although they are).  What I mean is this --- "facts" are what non-fundies use to weigh decisions and choose one alternative over another.  Non-fundies usually pride themselves on their "rationalism" -- their ability to gather facts, examine them, and then use them to reach a decision.  The fundies, though, DO NOT WANT TO MAKE DECISIONS, and do everything in their power to AVOID it.  To the fundies, evolution isn't wrong because they've evaluated the facts and decided that it's wrong --- evolution is wrong BECAUSE FATHER SAYS IT IS.  Period.  End of discussion.  "Facts" are only relevant if one wants to make a decision.  But that is precisely the problem --- the fundies DON'T want to make a decision.  They want someone else in authority to decide FOR them, and then TELL them what that decision is.  That is why, in "debate forums" between fundies and evolutionists, "facts" are simply irrelevant.  All that the fundies know (and all that they WANT to know) is that their authority Father Figure says evolution is wrong, therefore it's wrong -- and any "facts" that indicate otherwise are simply filtered out.  After all, if the Father Figure IS wrong, then that would mean that the fundie could no longer trust it to make decisions for him --- and THAT would force the fundie to start making HIS OWN DECISIONS ---> the one thing that fundies absolutely will not do.  That is why all these "debates" over science simply do no good.  One side makes its decisions based on facts --- the other side wants to AVOID making decisions based on facts.  The two sides therefore continually talk past each other because they simply don't look at their worlds the same way, they don't make decisions in the same way, and neither is able to understand what the other is thinking (quite literally).

Everything else in fundamentalism follows from that "strong father figure who knows best" framework -- with God, of course, being conceived by them as the Ultimate Father Figure ("Our Father Who Art in Heaven").  Just ask any fundie how they raise their kids, and it all becomes clear.  Father knows best.  Father knows The Truth -- the One and Only Truth, which applies at all times in all places under any circumstances.  By following The Truth, it makes you strong, not weak.  It makes you steadfast, not indecisive and insecure.  It makes you moral, not permissive.  And strong, decisive, moral people get all the rewards they deserve -- while the weak, indecisive and permissive get put into their place by the strong.

Father's job is simple --- tell the kids what to do (and remember, THEIR father --and Heavenly Father -- has **already told them** the correct thing to do), and punish the kids if they don't do it (to force them to do it the next time).  Ask a non-fundie what their aim is in raising their kids, and you'll hear something like "I want to teach my kids to think for themselves and make their own decisions, and I want to nurture them and support them in their decision-making."  To a fundie, that is worse than "permissive" -- it is IMMORAL.  The very idea that someone can make their own decisions, without being told what to do, is, literally, inconceivable to fundies.  Instead, the fundies have been told (by the Ultimate Father) exactly what to do, and anyone who does otherwise is wrong, period.  And, just as God tolerates no dissent, questioning or differing opinions, neither do fathers.  Father (God) knows best.  And if you disagree, a trip behind the woodshed (or a global flood that kills all life) will convince you.

The difference could not be plainer.  And it applies to everything else, as well.  What, to a non-fundie, is the role of a church?  It is to be a nurturer, to help people who need help, and to give mutual support and cooperation to its members.  That is why non-fundie churches do things like set up food banks and raise money for social programs.  To the fundies, however, the role of the church is brutally simple ---- like a father, it tells its members what to do, and punishes those who don't do it.  Social programs and mutual support are just coddling, and real fathers/churches don't coddle their kids/members.  Coddling is for the weak.  Weak fathers don't raise good kids.  Spare the rod, spoil the child.  Punishment and discipline build strength.  The strong get their rewards.  The weak don't.  (Sounds like fascism?  That's not a coincidence.)

Why, then, do the fundies support Bush's foreign policy?  Because to them, Bush is, quite literally, the nation's Father Figure.  He knows right from wrong (because HIS Father -- God -- told him), and his job is simply to tell others what is the right thing to do, and then force them to do it.  To the fundie mentality, the US *deserves* to run the world, as it sees fit, simply because the US is God's Favorite Nation and therefore knows, from its Heavenly Father, what is right and what is wrong, and has that Fatherly authority to enforce it -- and the kids (other nations) better not give us any backtalk. Do what Father tells you, or else.

Why do fundies support free-market economics so enthusiastically?  Because it shares the same worship of the strong at the expense of the weak. Why are fundies so opposed to social programs of every sort?  Because it protects the weak, and therefore it takes away the rewards that the strong and righteous have earned for themselves through their good moral character.   Why are fundies so intolerant of any opinion, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that challenges the infallibility of the Bible/their religious opinions?  Because the ONLY reason they have for allowing their Father Figure (whether it's God or their Biblical interpretations or their pastor or their actual father) to make decisions for them is their absolute unwavering unquestioning acceptance of the assumption that ***Father is always right***.  If, for any reason, they begin to question that single core assumption, then, once again, the fundie is forced into the impossible position of DECIDING FOR HIMSELF what to do.

And that is the one thing that terrifies them more than anything else.

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Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,19:52   

A placeholder for a lengthier essay:

BWE earlier mentioned meditation, and in so doing called to mind the diversity of phenomena that may be subsumed, properly, under the rubric of “religion.”  This touches on the notion of religious practice, as distinct from systems of religious propositions that may be tested, adjudicated “true” or “false,” etc.

A question I would pose is, “Can religious practice, including practices such as meditation, disclose to the practitioner experience, and even comprehension, that is not easily accessible by other means?”

A corollary question:  “Are there facets of the experience of human beings in the natural world that are inexpressible by means of human language – yet may be grasped (although not expressed propositionally) in other ways?”

I am an atheist, and certainly a devotee of scientific ways of knowing, yet I hold that the answer to both questions is “yes.” Human beings have the potential for inarticulate ways of knowing that can disclose experiences and, at times, comprehension, that cannot be expressed propositionally.  Certainly these are the concerns of many of the arts; by the same token, elements of these experiences are the concern of some spiritual practices, which in some instances can guide persons to these otherwise inexpressible experiences.  

Moreover, there are forms of such practice that are compatible with, and indeed enhanced by, scientific ways of knowing (and that are themselves likely to be better understood by means of, for example, cognitive science). One can engage in such practices, harvest for oneself the experiences therein, and even legitimately characterize them as, in a sense, “comprehension,” and remain intellectually and scientifically honest.

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,19:55   

Despite Skeptics’ gloomy prophecy, it seems as if this thread is generating some interest.  Good, I’m glad everyone is here to help me sort out my muddled mind! (No sarcasm—I really do appreciate it.)


Maybe this thread should be renamed “The Thread of Impossibly Long Posts”  one more long post to follow…

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,17:48)
Scary,

 
Quote
Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence


Ouch! That's quite a burden. Can god then create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it?*


Bohr:  “Who are you to tell God what to do with his rocks!”

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,17:48)
So why should we treat such a malleable concept which has no explanatory power (by the very virtue of being so malleable) with any respect over and above a similarly malleable concept? Why is your faith in your god any more or less valid than my muslim chum's faith in his god?

If all your claim of god existing is based on is your faith in god and "seeing him work in your life" type anecdote, you have to admit that other people have similar faith and anecdote which is diametrically opposed, and mutually exclusive to your own. How does an independent observer distinguish between the two claims? By their results doesn't work because how "nice" or "nasty" something is, or how nice or nasty believing is it is doesn't have any reflection on whether or not it is representative of reality i.e. true.


I don’t believe my understanding of God is any more reasonable or authoritative than any of the other major religions.  I do believe the major religions have a little more authority than the FSM because the ancient religions have been somewhat vindicated in their principles by hundreds of years of followers who found value and truth through their teachings.  That doesn’t make them right, it just gives them a little more validity than a random religious thought.

Science always begins by an observation coupled with curiosity.  How did that happen?  Why?

While I don’t believe I can prove the reality of God, I am trying to find possible explanations for things I have personally observed.  I am imposing on you all to help me in my quest.  Suckers. (LOL)

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,17:48)
* The point is not to stump you with this question but to demonstrate the logical incompatibility of such infinite concepts. If god is all powerful he can do anything. If god is all knowing he can conceive of anything. etc. The answers "why would he want to?", "god is not subject to mortal logic" etc are a total abrogation of the theist's responsibility to support their claims and an overt admission that they understand how ludicrous such combined concepts are.


Other than Bohr, I don’t have an answer (as you already know.)   This type of thinking is why I truly want your feedback.

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,17:48)
You ARE a rational and intelligent person, not because on some things you agree with me but because it comes across in your posts. It's like how we all know that AFDave's an ego ridden arrogant arse, Skeptic's an occasional obliviot, Heddle is a bright bloke using his rectum as a snorkel and GoP is a revolting scumbag. Agreement is immaterial. My best friend is a christian and pretty much every bit as much an atheist as I am. I'm an atheist and pretty much every bit as christian as he is! Figure that one out ;-)


Thanks.  I appreciate you saying that.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,19:17)
> God does not contradict science, but a belief is God is not consistent
> with the scientific viewpoint (i.e. it is not a falsifiable
> hypothesis, there is no evidence etc.).


I freely admit the things that I believe are tough to find “falsifiable.”  However my goal in this discussion is to have you help me evaluate whether my interpretation of the experiences I have had is even reasonable.

I truly respect the things I have seen you all write in the last several months.  You know how to think—that’s rare.

It’s possible we will come to a point where you can say to me “if your interpretation is true, then ‘this’ should have happened.  It didn’t.  Therefore you need to adjust your interpretation.”
 
I’m sorry if this sounds selfish, juvenile or naïve.  I am more than willing to give as good as I get.  I’m just not sure I have as much to offer.

 
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,19:17)
Religion/ethics, on the other hand, also has a constrained area within which it can operate.


Agreed, but I wonder if there aren’t some predictions we can make if the Bible is reliable.  For example:  the Bible pictures Christians (as a group) as having the regular intervention of God in their lives.  If you find a group of people who are practicing Christians, there ought to be a track record of “beyond a reasonable doubt coincidental” answers to prayer.

I understand I am not giving you a quantifiable scientific prediction, but if one looks at it much like a jury looking at evidence in a case, possibly there is enough evidence to at least propose that faith is reasonable.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,19:41)
(1) it's not just the fundies who want this to be all about "evolution proves there is no God".  The evangelical fundies want it every bit as much.  As I've often said, the evangelical fundies and the evangelical atheists simply aren't that different.  They both present the very same basic argument (they both want science to support their religious/philosophical opinions), and just choose different sides of the same coin.


Good point.  
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,19:41)

(2) when people learn about evolution and subsequently give up their fundamentalist religion, that is largely because THE FUNDIES HAVE TOLD THEM TO DO SO.  So the fundies have no right to bitch and complain when people simply accept at face value what the fundies themselves have told them -- "if evolution happens, then there is no God".


I have tried to explain this to many fundies, but they just can’t see it.  I think I even made a similar post to AFDave.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,19:41)
(3) those who do indeed have a faith that is based outside of literalism (or, as I like to put it, those who worship a God instead of a Book About God --and are smart enough to know the difference), don't have any gripes with science.  The only ones who DO have a gripe are those who DON'T have any basis for their faith outside of their literalism (or, as I call them, the ones who idol-worship a Book About God instead of a God, and are too stupid to tell the difference -- like, ya know, AFDave).


Even if that is true (as it was for me) it is still a shock when you realize the things you have trusted in (via Behe, Dembski, et al) are either incredibly naïve or outright liars.  Last study I saw showed 25% of the US accepting some type of creation.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,19:41)

So, my message to all the non-fundie Christians out there is simple;   don't preach -- ORGANIZE.


I wonder if the majority out there, because it is not a “cause” for them, are too apathetic to take up the reigns.

Quote (stephenWells @ Jan. 04 2007,19:52)

I would strongly disagree. De gustibus et de coloribus non est disputandum, but that doesn't make statements of taste, or moral judgements incompatible with a scientific worldview, it just makes them not amenable to investigation by science. Belief in a god, however, involves proposing the _existence_ of a specific entity with specific properties.


We will see, you may be right.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,20:41)
 
Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,11:40)
I think those who take a literalist view of scripture are either:

1. Ignorant – In the real sense of the word:  They just don’t know how many impossible to reconcile ideas are in the Bible
2. Intellectually Dishonest/Deluded – Because of their world view they cannot grasp the inconsistencies produced by literalism
3. Lying – They know the things they are saying aren’t true, but they continue to say them for sake of money, ego, power, etc.

Here I must disagree, to an extent . . . For most fundies, their Biblical literalism is, quite literally, an inescapable part of the way they view the world.  One does not come from the other --- BOTH reflect each other.

<snip>



I agree—I would put them under the # 2 “Deluded” category.

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,19:55   

Quote (stephenWells @ Jan. 04 2007,18:52)
Belief in a god, however, involves proposing the _existence_ of a specific entity with specific properties.

That depends entirely on which religion -- and indeed on which interpretation of that particular religion.  Indeed, you seem to be referring specifically to a conception of "god" in which "god" exists separately from the universe and interferes with that universe in particular non-natural ways at particular times, with particular observable results.  Oddly enough, that is the fundamentalist conception of "god".  It's not the universal religious conception of "god", though.  Or even the universal *Christian* conception of "god".

Once again, you are conflating "fundamentalist" with "religion".  The two are not the same.  (shrug)


In any case, "beauty" is also a thing which some people propose exists.  I'd sure like to see you propose a scientific test to decide whether or not "beauty" is present in a specific entity under specific circumstances . . . . . . .   Then perhaps we can move on to detecting the presence or absence of "justice".  . . . .



Oh, and I suppose I should state clearly, for the benefit of any hyper-atheists out there, that I do not assert, and I do not accept, the existence of any god, gods, goddesses, or supernatural entities of any sort whatsoever in any way, shape or form.  So spare me all your "theists are stupid" ranting.  It's utterly wasted on me.

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,20:38   

As I occasionally have reason to state, I'm quite aware it's not my job to "harmonize" among the commenters on this (or any other) thread.

And I ain't the thread manager.  That's SteveStory's job, and he does it fine, when it really needs doing.

And, as much as I love Lenny (sob, hug, "I love ya, man"--"Get offa me, I ain't GoP!"), I think part of the problem here is his cut'n'paste approach, so effective with the wingnuts, isn't really, um, cut out for the job of helping us try to take a reasonable attack for purposes of this specific thread.

Lemme give an example, where Lenny winds up talking past the rest of us: Scary (or somebody) defined the god in whose belief they want to talk about--the good God of the non-literal, "reasonably" interpreted Christian Bible: omniscient, etc., etc.

Lenny cut'n'pasted one of his excellent-in-other-contexts rants about how most Christians ain't fundies, most Christians ain't literalists, most Christians ain't this and that and have no probs with Evil'o'Evo, etc.  Not to mention all the other non-Christian reasonable religions of the world.

But that's not responding to the concerns of this specific thread, where the kinda god the thread-starters want to discuss is already (in the process of being) defined.  And, while it's certainly not congruent with a literalist-fundy God, it's not necessarily congruent with Lenny's let's-all-be-reasonable "god" either.

Or (sorry, Lenny) for another example, Lenny went into his vanilla-blondes-beauty certainly-good-in-some-contexts rant.  But there's been a reply/objection to that rant, by stephenWells, and Lenny's posted several times further, but hasn't responded to that objection, though Scary--if I'm remembering correctly--hasn't ignored it, and appears willing to consider that in the ongoing discussion.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Lenny should be guided by any of the above.  He's gonna do what he's gonna do, which ain't gonna tweak me none.  But, on this one thread, I'd simply appreciate it if he would kindly recognize that there's no wingnuts here, just us regular joe AtBCers.  While there may well be points for which some of the Lenny canned rants may be perfectly appopriate, it's already seeming to me like there are others for which the appearance of the real-time Lenny might be welcomed.

I don't really have a dog in this hunt, or whatever the expression is.  I disagree with Lenny that PZ and Dawkins are the equivalent of the religious totalitarians of the world, but (a) he already knows that and (b) knowing that hasn't changed his mind, and (3)--we all know what happens if you try to type "©"--not changing his mind hasn't caused me to kick Lenny out of my herpetarium (or whatever they're called).  Like Lenny, I don't necessarily believe in any particular god, but I don't necessarily disbelieve in any but the obviously-stupid etc. ones.  I don't think "spiritual experiences" get us very far in manipulating the world beyond our skins--though they obviously can be successful in manipulating our fellows, for good or ill--but I don't think "spiritual experiences" (or "internal spiritual states," or whatever) are thus rendered unreal or meaningless or valueless.

Usually I can't be bothered to argue to much about it, except for my occasional irk at (coming to the opinion that) one side is misunderstanding/misrepresenting the other.

Frick--this is the thread of long posts.

Anyway, I may have more to say about the vanilla blond beauty thing, because that's an area where I'm only in partial agree/disagreement with Lenny--suggesting to me that I may well have things I could learn--but mainly I'm just hoping to sit back and watch while we actually respectfully talk to each other on this vexed topic, for once.

But that will require responding to what we're actually saying, and not to what the wingnuts usually have to say.

Bleh.  Enuf of this pinhead for a while!

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,20:54   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 04 2007,21:38)
And I ain't the thread manager.  That's SteveStory's job, and he does it fine, when it really needs doing.

I have been WAAAY too lax around here lately. Lots of foul stuff has gotten by which shouldn't. I abruptly moved to chapel hill recently, and I'm about to move again (within the city), I have a job with unfixed hours, and I'm undertaking a really big project and career change over the last/next few months. Those excuses aside, I've been negligent in the moderation, and foul and nasty insults and name calling and such is going to get harsher treatment starting now.

   
afdave



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:07   

Lenny ...
Quote
The salient thing about fundamentalists (of ANY ideology), the one thing they ALL have in common, is the utter terror they have of making decisions.  Deep down inside, they are terrified of the world -- they view it as a frightening place with all sorts of dangers just waiting to snap them up if they make the slightest mis-step.  This is not paranoia (although certainly many fundies do descend quite easily into "Satan is everywhere" paranoia) -- it is INSECURITY.  For the fundies, life is insecure and utterly terrifying.  If you talk to a fundie about what his life was like BEFORE he became a fundie, it's the same story --- whether it was drug addiction, sex addiction, crime, whatever, the essential point is that they wanted to live their life in such a way that **they never had to make any decisions for themselves**.  They always allowed others to make decisions for them, whether it's the boss that fires them, the cops that arrest them, or the family that kicks them out.  Their life is utterly at the mercy of others.  They cannot function by themselves.  They are insecure and cannot make their own decisions because they're terrified of making the "wrong decision".
Wow.  That sure doesn't  describe THIS fundy.  And it sure doesn't describe many of the American Founder Fundies.  It sure doesn't describe a fundy friend of mine who recently sold his company for several hundred million $.  It sure doesn't describe Mike Farris, founder of HSLDA, or Ken Ham, or Henry Morris, or Doug Phillips or or or or or or ... on and on i could go.

--------------
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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:19   

Quote
That doesn’t make them right, it just gives them a little more validity than a random religious thought.



the moon is made of green cheese, my friend, and the earth is flat.

Quote
That sure doesn't  describe THIS fundy.


I wonder if Ted Haggard ever said that.  Do you know, Davey?

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

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Ved



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:22   

Quote (afdave @ Dec. 04 2006,12:35)
Notice that I didn't say they have to be Christians.  We don't need to ask them if they've been born again or baptized before we allow them to serve. They can be Atheists or Muslims or Catholics or what have you, but if they want to serve in government, I want them to agree with the General Principles of Christianity based on the Bible -- God created all things, God created mankind, God created marriage as 1 man + 1 woman, 10 commandments, teachings of Christ, etc.

Don't you have a thread that's getting a bit cold right now? Oh wait. That's not till just a little bit longer...  :p

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:26   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:19)
 
Quote
That doesn’t make them right, it just gives them a little more validity than a random religious thought.



the moon is made of green cheese, my friend, and the earth is flat.

Maybe you were just joking, but if not...
 
Don't you think a major religious movement involving millions or billions of people that has gained ground over hundreds of years might have some beneficial teachings for humans versus the FSM?  Doesn't the fact that this number of people have found some value in the teachings make its principles and practices worth considering as valuable more than the FSM?

Edit: Verb Tense - Remember, I'm fromTennessee

   
Russell



Posts: 1082
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:30   

Quote
I've been negligent in the moderation, and foul and nasty insults and name calling and such is going to get harsher treatment starting now.
Actually, this thread has been pretty civil. The only storm clouds I see on the horizon are Lenny's canned rants becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. In which regard, I find myself nodding in agreement with our microcephalic friend. (Including, of course, all the "love ya, man; you know I'd give you the hair off my back... etc" caveats.)

--------------
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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:36   

Quote
Don't you think a major religious movement involving millions or billions of people that has gained ground over hundreds of years might have some beneficial teachings for humans versus the FSM?


not joking at all.  in fact the FSM was invented to prove that very point.

a flat, geocentric earth was firmly (terra firmly) believed by millions of humans for hundreds (thousands?) of years, and doubtless many were convinced of various values to believing as such.  Moreover, many treatises were derived from that belief system and handed down to future "scientists".  The fact that all of that represents a long history and a rather large body of work belies the fact that it is essentially all worthless aside from pure historical curiosity.

so, contrast that with the history of christianity or judaism.  If based on faulty premises to begin with, work extending from such gains no actual value by having a long and "fruitful" history.

The FSM is FAR from a random invention; it had very specific construction and purpose, and arguably has much value as well.

the same could be said of dianetics, yes?

my point, which you seemed to have missed, is that the length of duration of a belief system is not necessarily relevant to it's veracity or validity.

It's simply not a safe argument to make.

note that this doesn't bear at all on whether one can logically rationalize the separation of a religious belief system with scientific endeavor or not, i just think you should consider that a long history is not a good indicator of veracity.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

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ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:48   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:36)
a flat, geocentric earth was firmly (terra firmly) believed by millions of humans for hundreds (thousands?) of years, and doubtless many were convinced of various values to believing as such.


With all due respect (and I mean that—you have written some very impressive things…)

You are making the mistake with equating geocentrism with Christianity.  Geocentrism was a small sub-set of Christian belief.

Christianity has become—right or wrong—a central belief for a billion people and has survived for 2,000 years.  That speaks to a value far higher than the FSM.

 
Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:36)

The FSM is FAR from a random invention; it had very specific construction and purpose, and arguably has much value as well.


Come back in 1,000 years and see if it has a following.

 
Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:36)

the same could be said of dianetics, yes?


Dianetics is less than 100 years old and (according to what I have read) is losing members.  If it survives for several hundred more years it will be because it provides some psychological benefit to the adherents.  Which it may.

 
Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:36)

my point, which you seemed to have missed, is that the length of duration of a belief system is not necessary relevant to it's veracity or validity.

It's simply not a safe argument to make.


I disagree.  While I acknowledge this is a controversial argument, natural selection applies to religious belief as well.  Those beliefs that produce benefits for the adherents survive. Those that don’t die out over time.

You pulled an edit on me!

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:36)
note that this doesn't bear at all on whether one can logically rationalize the separation of a religious belief system with scientific endeavor or not, i just think you should consider that a long history is not a good indicator of veracity.

I never claimed--in fact I explicitly renounced--a number of believers makes the religion correct.  My argument is that it makes the religion valuable to its adherents--more valuable than religions that have few or no adherents.

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:55   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 04 2007,20:38)
I think part of the problem here is his cut'n'paste approach, so effective with the wingnuts, isn't really, um, cut out for the job of helping us try to take a reasonable attack for purposes of this specific thread.

Ah, but each of my posts, even the cut-and-pastes, was a response to the specific point that was quoted beforehand.

There's no need to reinvent the wheel.  (shrug)

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:55   

Quote
You are making the mistake with equating geocentrism with Christianity.  Geocentrism was a small sub-set of Christian belief.


geocentrism and flat earthism may indeed have been a small subset of xian belief at various times, but i wasn't limiting it to xians, as the world has been and still is a far larger place than just xians.

 
Quote
Christianity has become—right or wrong—a central belief for a billion people and has survived for 2,000 years.  That speaks to a value far higher than the FSM.


substitute hinduism or buddhism and it gets longer and larger.

get my point yet?

 
Quote
Come back in 1,000 years and see if it has a following.


no need, it's purpose has and continues to be served every time somebody invents a theoretical construct like this... and the FSM certainly isn't the first construct of its like, nor likely the last.

would we be able to look a 1000 years into the future and still see a need for this kind of construct?

boy, i sure hope not.

 
Quote
If it survives for several hundred more years it will be because it provides some psychological benefit to the adherents.  Which it may.


ask Tom Cruise.

Quote
I never claimed--in fact I explicitly renounced--a number of believers makes the religion correct.


hmm, then maybe I'm misinterpreting when you say things like this:

Quote
Don't you think a major religious movement involving millions or billions of people that has gained ground over hundreds of years might have some beneficial teachings for humans versus the FSM?


sorry, but you seem incapable of grasping my point for some reason, and i see no need to belabor it because, as i said, it's a bit tangential to the core of what you really seemed to want to discuss.

I'll let you get back to it.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

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argystokes



Posts: 766
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,21:56   

Quote
You are making the mistake with equating geocentrism with Christianity.  Geocentrism was a small sub-set of Christian belief.

Really? You don't think geocentrism was a widespread belief for thousands of years BCE (I don't have any evidence on hand, but I've always just taken it as true. As Heddle would say, I subscibe to the The Ancients Were Idiots position).

EDIT: Forget it, I don't mean to derail your thread. As Doc Icky says, this is but a tangent.

--------------
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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:04   

to avoid discussing the prevalence of geocentrism (let alone flat earthism), a quick check of wiki answers the basics, but I'm sure there are far more elaborate treatises:

Quote
In astronomy, the geocentric model of the universe is the theory that the Earth is at the center of the universe and the Sun and other objects go around it.

Belief in this system was common in ancient Greece. It was embraced by both Aristotle and Ptolemy, and most Greek philosophers assumed that the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets circle the Earth. Similar ideas were held in ancient China.



had nothing to do with xianity, see?

--------------
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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:06   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 04 2007,19:52)
A corollary question:  “Are there facets of the experience of human beings in the natural world that are inexpressible by means of human language – yet may be grasped (although not expressed propositionally) in other ways?”

Since language consists entirely and solely of symbols, and since symbols are utterly meaningless without reference to the thing they symbolize, I think the argument can be made that NOTHING, nothing at all whatsoever, can be expressed in language unless grasped first through direct experience.

That, of course, is the very core of the Asian "religious" traditions.  As they all point out, all of their practice and teaching are just symbols, just words, just a finger pointing to the moon.  Without direct understanding through experience, it all means nothing -- indeed, it CANNOT mean anything.  No description of reality, is that reality.

That is why, at root, all of the Asian traditions teach ----->  nothing.  Literally.  All they do is show each person how to look for himself.  And once one has done that, the practice is no longer useful or relevant.  Once you've caught the rabbit, you don't need the trap any more.

So, the entire aim of all the Asian traditions is for everyone to outgrow their usefulness, and then discard them.

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:07   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:55)
 
Quote
You are making the mistake with equating geocentrism with Christianity.  Geocentrism was a small sub-set of Christian belief.


geocentrism and flat earthism may indeed have been a small subset of xian belief at various times, but i wasn't limiting it to xians, as the world has been and still is a far larger place than just xians.


Granted, but I was specifically talking about religious belief.

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:55)

substitute hinduism or buddhism and it gets longer and larger.

get my point yet?


I know the posts on this thread are long, so it’s possible you missed my earlier point that I apply the same standard to Hinduism and Buddhism.  I would consider both as more valuable than the FSM because of the number of followers over the years.

Please do not assume I am a “Christ-centerist” who assumes the only valuable religion is Christianity.  I have never said that (at least not in the last several years.)

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:55)
no need, it's purpose has and continues to be served every time somebody invents a theoretical construct like this... and the FSM certainly isn't the first construct of its like, nor likely the last.


What theoretical construct are you imposing on me?  Go back to what I have written and show where I have suggested Christianity is the superior religion or even that Christianity is the best religion.

   
Quote
If it survives for several hundred more years it will be because it provides some psychological benefit to the adherents.  Which it may.

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:55)

ask Tom Cruise.


Um..OK.

 
Quote
Don't you think a major religious movement involving millions or billions of people that has gained ground over hundreds of years might have some beneficial teachings for humans versus the FSM?


Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,22:55)
sorry, but you seem incapable of grasping my point for some reason, and i see no need to belabor it because, as i said, it's a bit tangential to the core of what you really seemed to want to discuss.


Your point is?????  It seems your point is to assume Christianity is superior to other religions is silly.  I agree.  You need to read my posts.

   
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:08   

Yeah, but...

I didn't think we were discussing--though, heck, we can if you want--the benefits to the believers of a given belief-system, or--

--the "fitness"/survival/longevity of the belief system, but

whether or not the belief system is, on some basis--perhaps not clearly defined as yet--"compatible with" or "at odds with" science/logic/evidence, something along those lines.

Clearly, as I think Ichthy is trying to say, a set of beliefs may last a long time, be of benefit (in some personal identity stabilizing or social utility sense) to its believers, and still--with regard to the validity of its postulates--be "wrong."  Maybe not without value or social benefit, as Christianity arguably has been and still is, but proposes reality-incongruent notions, as let's-say-f'rinstance davey's literalist worldwide-flud-6k year old-natural selection don't work-ism does...

I know you ain't davey (thanks again, Lenny!;) and I may well not find your brand of belief objectionable by any measure--though I'll reserve my right to disagree as the discussion plays out--but if this is the measure we're applying, then--among the world's major religions, which distinctly conflict on all sorts of detail, not to mention more major matters--they can't all be "correct," regardless of how many people have believed them, for how long, and how "good" most of those people have behaved toward each other.

How does being a good social support system help us, er, skeptics differentiate one religion or sect from another, no matter how long they may've functioned well as a good social support system?

(To the extent that certain basic code-of-behavior "principles" are shared between the major religions--golden rule, don't lie, steal, murder, etc.--they may not "conflict," though that's far from all they postulate, and you don't walk away from the overlap very far before you leave one or the other irrevocably behind you, and in any case pure secularists of all ages have "believed" and acted in accord with these "core" principles, as well, so query rather they're truly "religious," or just kindergarten-level social good manners, found in most social animules?)

So far, I'm with Ichthy on this one...

  
Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:09   

Re "(2) when people learn about evolution and subsequently give up their fundamentalist religion, that is largely because THE FUNDIES HAVE TOLD THEM TO DO SO."

Yup. Convince people that they have to choose one thing or the other, it's then likely that each of them will then choose... one thing, or the other.

Now, if the convinced person chooses religion, that's a person who would have been religious anyway.

So as far as I can tell, if a theist wants people to be theists, and uses that argument, they're undermining their own goal.

Henry

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:14   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,23:04)
to avoid discussing the prevalence of geocentrism (let alone flat earthism), a quick check of wiki answers the basics, but I'm sure there are far more elaborate treatises:

 
Quote
In astronomy, the geocentric model of the universe is the theory that the Earth is at the center of the universe and the Sun and other objects go around it.

Belief in this system was common in ancient Greece. It was embraced by both Aristotle and Ptolemy, and most Greek philosophers assumed that the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets circle the Earth. Similar ideas were held in ancient China.



had nothing to do with xianity, see?

So?  I agree with this.  I think you have projected onto my belief system something from someone else.  I don't believe the number of people adhering to a belief makes it true, just that the belief system--even flat-earth-ism--must have had a psychological value to the people who believed it or it would not lasted long.

   
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:23   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 04 2007,23:08)
Yeah, but...

I didn't think we were discussing--though, heck, we can if you want--the benefits to the believers of a given belief-system, or--

--the "fitness"/survival/longevity of the belief system, but

whether or not the belief system is, on some basis--perhaps not clearly defined as yet--"compatible with" or "at odds with" science/logic/evidence, something along those lines.

Clearly, as I think Ichthy is trying to say, a set of beliefs may last a long time, be of benefit (in some personal identity stabilizing or social utility sense) to its believers, and still--with regard to the validity of its postulates--be "wrong."  Maybe not without value or social benefit, as Christianity arguably has been and still is, but proposes reality-incongruent notions, as let's-say-f'rinstance davey's literalist worldwide-flud-6k year old-natural selection don't work-ism does...


I have nowhere (that I am aware of) stated that the numbers of people who adhere to a particular belief system equate the veracity of that system.  If that were true I would be a Muslim.

That is obviously false—millions of people can be wrong.

My point was simply to negate the idea that the FSM is just as valid a belief system as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianty.  Not because they are right and the FSM is wrong, but because over hundreds of years millions and millions of people have found these systems of belief to be beneficial.

Look, I know most of you are used to fundys coming here and berating you for not accepting Jesus.  That’s not what I am saying, please do not project that on me.

What I am saying is simple:  Religions survive because people find some value in the practice of that religion.

By nature that means those religions that survive have value to their adherents.  That’s all I am saying.

Please do not project onto me what other people have said. While that’s understandable based on what you guys deal with here, it’s not accurate.

   
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:35   

Yeah, but Scary, with all respect, is "validity" the proper word for distinguishing FSMism from major-world-religion of your choice?  I'll give you that FSMism hasn't got the track record to put its benefits (or detriments, but let's not go there, quite yet) up against Christianity's.  But that's not in issue, is it?

You seem to be still looking for "value" or "benefit," but that's not "validity" in my dictionary...

If the question of the thread so far (and, again, I'm fine with adding questions) is compatability of religion with science, and science would question the validity of (some exemplar) religion's beliefs or postulates, then how does social or personal value help Christianity out?

Isn't a vague enough, absent enough, "all-powerful" but do-nothing-much-that-can-be-demonstrated (or differentiated from people acting from other good or charitable motives) god about the same, from science's standpoint, as an undemonstrable, undifferentiatable FSM?

Or, if one starts claiming that one's God does do things--outside one's own head and heart--in the real world, doesn't one quickly--or at least eventually--risk running up against science?

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:47   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 04 2007,23:35)
Yeah, but Scary, with all respect, is "validity" the proper word for distinguishing FSMism from major-world-religion of your choice?  I'll give you that FSMism hasn't got the track record to put its benefits (or detriments, but let's not go there, quite yet) up against Christianity's.  But that's not in issue, is it?

You seem to be still looking for "value" or "benefit," but that's not "validity" in my dictionary...

I agree.  Upon looking at what I wrote, I did use the word "validity".  What I mean is "value".  And to be honest, until this moment I thought that one was relatively equal to the other.

My bad.


Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 04 2007,23:35)

If the question of the thread so far (and, again, I'm fine with adding questions) is compatability of religion with science, and science would question the validity of (some exemplar) religion's beliefs or postulates, then how does social or personal value help Christianity out?

Isn't a vague enough, absent enough, "all-powerful" but do-nothing-much-that-can-be-demonstrated (or differentiated from people acting from other good or charitable motives) god about the same, from science's standpoint, as an undemonstrable, undifferentiatable FSM?

Or, if one starts claiming that one's God does do things--outside one's own head and heart--in the real world, doesn't one quickly--or at least eventually--risk running up against science?

I'm not sure the theme of the thread has been yet defined.  If I had started it I would have pondered the topic for a long time.  My real concern is to try to reconcile my observations with some scientific context.  I feel somewhat between the proverbial rock and a hard place that I wasn't given time to consider how to frame arguments/points ahead of time.

But that's cool--maybe I would have spent years in my head turing over possible scenarios.

   
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:48   

Quote
My point was simply to negate the idea that the FSM is just as valid a belief system as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianty.  Not because they are right and the FSM is wrong, but because over hundreds of years millions and millions of people have found these systems of belief to be beneficial.


holy crap.

I refuse to repeat myself (further).

I leave you to it.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,22:56   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 04 2007,23:48)
 
Quote
My point was simply to negate the idea that the FSM is just as valid a belief system as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianty.  Not because they are right and the FSM is wrong, but because over hundreds of years millions and millions of people have found these systems of belief to be beneficial.


holy crap.

I refuse to repeat myself (further).

I leave you to it.

Your personal incredulity isn’t a convincing argument.  If you believe the FSM religion has provided or will provide as much value as the major ancient religions of the world the burden of proof is on you to show the long-term value of your belief system.

If you are simply offended by Christians I empathize, but it's not a convincing argument.

Show me why my reasoning is faulty--if you can I will quickly admit I was wrong.

Edit: Ichthyc if I am missing something, feel free to enlighten me.  I really want to hear it.  I know I may be dense, but I have no desire to live in anti-intellectual "bliss."  I'm not here to convert you, I'm here to convert me.  I'm human, but I will try to be as open as possible to what you have to day.

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:03   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,21:48)
Geocentrism was a small sub-set of Christian belief.

Heck, EVERYTHING is just a subset of Christian belief.  I can't think of a single thing that is universally accepted by all "Christian" churches, denominations, sects and groupuscules.  Most churches, despite the fundies' squealing, do not assert or accept that the Bible was written by God.  Heck, the UCC doesn't even accept that Jesus was the son of God -- and they even leave open the question of whether God actually exists or not.  It simply doesn't matter to them.  As far as the UCC is concerned, Christianity is summed up by "love thy neighbor as thyself" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  Everything else is just symbolism and descriptive  -- it simply reinforces and illustrates the message, just like the stories in Aesop's fables reinforce and illustrate the messages of those stories.

And that, oddly, brings up a point that we can see demonstrated here in this thread, when we talk loosely about "the tenets of Christianity" -- what the heck IS "Christianity", anyway?  What ARE its central tenets?  Does the essence of Christianity lie in its trappings, or in its message?  Is Christianity all about "God blah blah blah Bible blah blah blah Jesus blah blah blah Heaven blah blah blah"?  Or is Christianity all about "love thy neighbor" and "do unto others"?

If I think Jesus was a really smart dude who was absolutely right in his "give to the poor, love thy neighbor" outlook, but I think that all this "Bible is the word of God and Jesus is his son" stuff is utter crapola, am I a Christian?

The "liberal" churches would, of course, say "yes", since they locate Christianity in its *message*.  To them, the message is what matters, not the divinity or otherwise of the messenger.

The fundies, of course, would say "no", since THEY locate Christianity in its *claimed source of authority*.  To them, the divine authority of the messenger is all that matters, not the message.  The fundies are simply told by god what to do, and they then shut up and do it.  They , quite literally, would do whatever god tells them.  They would, for instance, not question God for an instant if he appeared before them and said, "I want you to kill your neighbors and take all their land".  The fundies would hear and obey, and dutifully kill people in the name of the Lord.  Indeed, they HAVE.  Just ask the original inhabitants of the, uh, "Promised Land".

Suppose we grant absolutely without a doubt that god exists.  Would that automatically validate every command that God gives?  The fundies keep telling us that all morality comes from God.  If so, wouldn't that mean that "morality" is . . . well . . . whatever God SAYS it is?  If God ordered us to commit genocide, would it be moral to obey -- or to *disobey*?  Is any command that god gives, righteous simply by virtue of the fact that God gives it -- are Christians duty-bound to do whatever god tells them to do, no matter what? Is God just a heavenly version of Joseph Stalin or Emperor Nero, imperiously ordering everyone to do whatever whim strikes his fancy, while himself being answerable or accountable to no one?   Or, is God himself constrained by external rules of morality that he himself must follow (and, therefore, NOT all morality comes from God).  (That's a question specifically for the fundie nutters out there -- yes, AF, I'm looking at you).

Suppose, then, we grant absolutely without a doubt that  *no* god or gods exist.  None.  Zip.  Not a one.  Would that then invalidate the "Christianity" that says we should love our neighbor as ourself, and do unto others as we would have them do unto you?  

Does the fact that tortoises and hares don't talk, invalidate the messages of Aesop's fables?

So, when people here talk of "Christianity", which part specifically do they refer to --- to the message, or to the presumed divine authority behind that message?  

And if there were *NO* divine authority behind the message at all, would it make any difference to that message's acceptibility?  Why or why not?

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:14   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 04 2007,22:08)
(To the extent that certain basic code-of-behavior "principles" are shared between the major religions--golden rule, don't lie, steal, murder, etc.--they may not "conflict," though that's far from all they postulate, and you don't walk away from the overlap very far before you leave one or the other irrevocably behind you, and in any case pure secularists of all ages have "believed" and acted in accord with these "core" principles, as well, so query rather they're truly "religious," or just kindergarten-level social good manners, found in most social animules?)

Aha, that is precisely the question I was getting at in my previous post;

Which is the essence of a religion, the MESSAGE, or the MESSENGER.

You say here that these rules and customs are kindergarten-level, but they really are not.  No one is born with them.  We learn them from our social surroundings, and, in every human society that I can think of offhand, we learned them, specifically, largely in the RELIGIOUS sectors of those social surroundings.  (One place we definitely do NOT learn them, BTW, is from "science".)

If one section of society thinks "treat others nicely" should be followed because their mother says so, and another sector of society thinks "treat others nicely" should be followed because they'll be arrested if they don't, and another sector of society thinks "treat others nicely" should be followed because . . . well . . . they have been treated un-nicely and didn't like it and don't want to inflict it on others, and yet another sector of society thinks "treat others nicely" should be followed because they'll go to Heaven if they do ------- what is the real difference between all of these?  What makes one rationale "better" than the others?  What difference does it make to society WHY its people treat each other nicely, as long as they DO?

Are morals and ethics that come from religion, different than morals and ethics that come from, say, one's grandmother or one's kindergarten teacher, simply because they come from religion? Why or why not?

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:19   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,00:03)
 
Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,21:48)
Geocentrism was a small sub-set of Christian belief.

Heck, EVERYTHING is just a subset of Christian belief.  I can't think of a single thing that is universally accepted by all "Christian" churches, denominations, sects and groupuscules.


This is a tangent—the real issue was whether longevity and popularity of a particular religious belief gives it reason for more consideration than one with no longevity or popularity.

Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam all certainly fit that scenario—FSM does not.
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,00:03)

Suppose we grant absolutely without a doubt that god exists.  Would that automatically validate every command that God gives?
\
Obviously not, unless the god you picture was infallible and we knew what he actually said and had the proper interpretation of those words.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,00:03)
 Or, is God himself constrained by external rules of morality that he himself must follow (and, therefore, NOT all morality comes from God).  (That's a question specifically for the fundie nutters out there -- yes, AF, I'm looking at you.)


I have no clue what God’s morality is.  Just because I have a certain view of morality doesn’t mean I have any understanding of a Divine morality.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,00:03)
Suppose, then, we grant absolutely without a doubt that  *no* god or gods exist.  None.  Zip.  Not a one.  Would that then invalidate the "Christianity" that says we should love our neighbor as ourself, and do unto others as we would have them do unto you?


I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would live exactly the same.  I see the immediate value of the way I live today.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,00:03)
Does the fact that tortoises and hares don't talk, invalidate the messages of Aesop's fables?


Figurative language flows through Aesop’s fables as well as the Bible.  Snakes don’t talk.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,00:03)
So, when people here talk of "Christianity", which part specifically do they refer to --- to the message, or to the presumed divine authority behind that message?  

And if there were *NO* divine authority behind the message at all, would it make any difference to that message's acceptibility?  Why or why not?


Christianity either works or it doesn’t.  For me it works, with seemingly supernatural results.  If Christianity didn’t work (with supernatural results) I would have abandoned it years ago.

   
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:28   

Quote
Christianity either works or it doesn’t.  For me it works, with seemingly supernatural results.  If Christianity didn’t work (with supernatural results) I would have abandoned it years ago.
"Works": what does that mean?
"Supernatural results": what results? in what way "supernatural"?

--------------
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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:38   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,00:28)
 
Quote
Christianity either works or it doesn’t.  For me it works, with seemingly supernatural results.  If Christianity didn’t work (with supernatural results) I would have abandoned it years ago.
"Works": what does that mean?
"Supernatural results": what results? in what way "supernatural"?


It works in terms of the results I have seen in my own life and family.  I have written about this previously on another thread, but keeping a Sabbath, following the instructions about morality and teaching my children to do the same has produced a remarkable family in spite of all sorts of adverse conditions.

When it comes to the supernatural, I am in the process of writing up some of my experiences on my blog.  One or two aren’t going to be convincing, but the overwhelming evidence is, for me, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Right now the I have only written up one of the dozens of seemingly supernatural experiences I have had in pursing the Judeo/Christian deity.  I guess I need to post less here and more there to cover more of them.  To see what I mean by supernatural you can view my current log entry—I have dozens of these types of accounts.

http://www.WhoreChurch.com

At some point the number of “coincidences” becomes faith beyond a reasonable doubt. You can tell me whether or not you agree.  Feel free to comment on my blog.

   
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:51   

Quote
Christianity either works or it doesn’t.  For me it works, with seemingly supernatural results.  If Christianity didn’t work (with supernatural results) I would have abandoned it years ago.


... you could substitute dianetics and be speaking with Tom Cruise.

hence the reason i mentioned it.

nuff said.

bye.

--------------
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-CC

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,23:59   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Jan. 05 2007,00:51)
Quote
Christianity either works or it doesn’t.  For me it works, with seemingly supernatural results.  If Christianity didn’t work (with supernatural results) I would have abandoned it years ago.


... you could substitute dianetics and be speaking with Tom Cruise.

hence the reason i mentioned it.

nuff said.

bye.

Of course.  That's exactly what I have been saying.  No one religious belief is necessarily better than any other.

If you have some sort of grudge toward Christians, why not save it for those who are trying to push Christianity down your throat, I'm not.

   
deadman_932



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,00:01   

I'm not surprised that intelligent, rational people can discuss loaded concepts without resorting to character assassination and underhanded tactics and I'm glad to see civility.

Of course, I'm not ready to sit around and sing "Kumbayaa," but I'm always pleased with how much we CAN agree on. After reading months of posts and other material from participants, I'm pretty sure I could get along with just about everyone, given that we share ideas/traits in common. One of my basic "filters" is "Could I have a beer with that person and be able to get along?" and I think I could with most people, except stevestory, who as an "authority" figure, I wish to demonize as cruel and tyrannical in order to foster a sense of common hatred. (Hi, steve! :)  ) and patently ignorant jerkoffs that so far are limited to one current example (for me, since I'm a pretty tolerant guy, *cough*).

Scan back and it's remarkable how much we DO agree on. I *could* sit down with almost everyone here (without one wingnut who *I* view as disagreeable--and unsurprisingly, we all agree on that), talk about the precepts that color our approaches to econ, "God", the nature of reality, physics, etc., and not kill each other, at least at first.

Barring some improbable leap, we ain't gonna get rid of fundies let alone religion, so we might as well think about how deal with it. Recently, the concept of non-locality and the Bell/Aspect work came up on another thread and I'm curious about where that may lead and what it might mean for how we view this existence -- assuming I'm not a brain in a vat (pleazzzeee let it be Bushmill's! ). Anyways, cheers!

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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,00:13   

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 05 2007,01:01)
and I think I could with most people, except stevestory, who as an "authority" figure, I wish to demonize as cruel and tyrannical in order to foster a sense of common hatred. (Hi, steve! :)  )

Ever consider that maybe I'm just a figurehead? Maybe EricMurphy or Arden Chatfield or Russell is the real moderator, but they installed me as eye-candy so you'd all be distracted.

See. Now you don't know who to suck up to.

(Takes another swig off a 40 oz Icehouse)

Yep. That's what I am. Eye-candy.

   
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,00:18   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 05 2007,01:13)
 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 05 2007,01:01)
and I think I could with most people, except stevestory, who as an "authority" figure, I wish to demonize as cruel and tyrannical in order to foster a sense of common hatred. (Hi, steve! :)  )

Ever consider that maybe I'm just a figurehead? Maybe EricMurphy or Arden Chatfield or Russell is the real moderator, but they installed me as eye-candy so you'd all be distracted.

See. Now you don't know who to suck up to.

(Takes another swig off a 40 oz Icehouse)

Yep. That's what I am. Eye-candy.

[SUCK]
Gee steve, you sure are wise and you are the best moderator ever - I wish I was half the man you are.
[/SUCK]

   
argystokes



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,00:19   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,22:18)
Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 05 2007,01:13)
 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 05 2007,01:01)
and I think I could with most people, except stevestory, who as an "authority" figure, I wish to demonize as cruel and tyrannical in order to foster a sense of common hatred. (Hi, steve! :)  )

Ever consider that maybe I'm just a figurehead? Maybe EricMurphy or Arden Chatfield or Russell is the real moderator, but they installed me as eye-candy so you'd all be distracted.

See. Now you don't know who to suck up to.

(Takes another swig off a 40 oz Icehouse)

Yep. That's what I am. Eye-candy.

[SUCK]
Gee steve, you sure are wise and you are the best moderator ever - I wish I was half the man you are.
[/SUCK]

From the amount of Molson and Icehouse it sounds like Steve drinks, there's a pretty good chance you are!

:D  :D  :D

--------------
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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,00:40   

Don't give me a hard time--this is beer we're talking about. It's not like I'm guzzling Bacardi 151.

Anyway, this whole 'not drinking constantly' thing you guys are doing is a fairly new social trend. For much of american history, guys pretty much drank all the time. I'm trying to bring that back.

"I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it."
--Rodney Dangerfield.

   
argystokes



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,01:01   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 04 2007,22:40)
Don't give me a hard time--this is beer we're talking about. It's not like I'm guzzling Bacardi 151.

Anyway, this whole 'not drinking constantly' thing you guys are doing is a fairly new social trend. For much of american history, guys pretty much drank all the time. I'm trying to bring that back.

"I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it."
--Rodney Dangerfield.

No, no, no, that was a FAT joke, not an alkee joke. I can't imagine you as looking like anyone but Statler, though.

--------------
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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,01:24   

AH, half the man, I get it. No, can't say I look much like Statler. 6' and 230. But watching the Intelligent Design people kind of transforms me into the cranky old man, laughing and mocking them from the balcony.

   
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,01:26   

Quote
I'm trying to bring that back.


I'll drink to that.

--------------
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-CC

  
Malum Regnat



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,01:31   

Quote
For what it's worth, I consider my signature block to really sum up the "proof" for an Intelligent Designer quite decisively and succinctly.  Identifying the Designer is another matter, however, and in my opinion involves study in various disciplines including ancient historical documents, archaeological finds, and the mythology of various cultures, among other things.  We do not believe in the existence of George Washington because of any "scientific evidence" to my knowledge.  We believe he existed because of written eyewitness testimony which, for many reasons, we judge to be reliable.  It's the same with the God of the Bible for me.


Dave, without defining your terms, your signature is meaningless.

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Blah Hi-tech blah blah blah blah ... NOT DESIGNED.

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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,01:44   

too bad it wasn't an Alky joke. There are so many great drinking quotes.

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
--Dave Barry.

   
Malum Regnat



Posts: 98
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,02:13   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 04 2007,23:44)
too bad it wasn't an Alky joke. There are so many great drinking quotes.

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
--Dave Barry.

What’s the difference between a drunk and an alcoholic?

The drunk doesn’t have to go to the meetings.

--------------
This universe as explained by the 'other' Hawkins

Blah Hi-tech blah blah blah blah ... DESIGNED.
Blah Hi-tech blah blah blah blah ... NOT DESIGNED.

;-}>

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,06:25   

Quote
but keeping a Sabbath, following the instructions about morality and teaching my children to do the same has produced a remarkable family in spite of all sorts of adverse conditions.
Not only would I echo Ichthyic about dianetics, etc., I would bring to your attention my family, and lots of others I know, who are raising wonderful kids, fighting the good fight, etc., etc. with no religion. (Unless, of course, we're going to nonsensically define absence of religion as a religion. Don't laugh; it's a common creationist trope.)

As for the supernatural, as you probably guessed, I'm skeptical.

--------------
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Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,06:32   

Quote
That, of course, is the very core of the Asian "religious" traditions.  As they all point out, all of their practice and teaching are just symbols, just words, just a finger pointing to the moon.  Without direct understanding through experience, it all means nothing -- indeed, it CANNOT mean anything.  No description of reality, is that reality.

Well said.  

That prompts me to ask, "What (if any) Christian traditions are analogous to Eastern practice in this way?"  I suspect that there are moons that may be glimpsed by means of forms of Christian practice (perhaps more in the mystical traditions), that are otherwise unlikely to be easily seen.

Perhaps the trouble starts when one returns to discursive language and attempts to express the inexpressible in propositional terms.  At the dinner table.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,07:05   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,23:19)
Christianity either works or it doesn’t.  For me it works, with seemingly supernatural results.  If Christianity didn’t work (with supernatural results) I would have abandoned it years ago.

But I must ask again --- when you say "Christianity" works for you, which part are you referring to?  Do you mean the "do unto others" and "love thy neighbor" part?  Or do you mean the "God  . . . Bible  . . . Jesus  . . . Heaven" part?

I'm not being flippant.  It's a sincere question.  And I'd like both the fundies and the atheists here to answer it, too.  Does the essence of a religion lie in its *message*, or in its *messenger*?

I have the sneaking suspicion that there are two different views of "religion" here, that one side is using one, the other side is using the other, and both sides literally have no idea what the other side is talking about.  (Further, I suspect that the fundies and the hyper-atheists are, once again, both using the very same view.)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,07:09   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,06:25)
Quote
but keeping a Sabbath, following the instructions about morality and teaching my children to do the same has produced a remarkable family in spite of all sorts of adverse conditions.



I would bring to your attention my family, and lots of others I know, who are raising wonderful kids, fighting the good fight, etc., etc. with no religion.

OK, now we're getting somewhere . . . .   Since neither you nor your family (in both cases) was born with ethics and morals in their genes, then where did they come from?

Indeed, does it make any DIFFERENCE where they come from?

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,07:15   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 05 2007,06:32)
That prompts me to ask, "What (if any) Christian traditions are analogous to Eastern practice in this way?"  I suspect that there are moons that may be glimpsed by means of forms of Christian practice (perhaps more in the mystical traditions), that are otherwise unlikely to be easily seen.

Ever read the Desiderata (a Christian poem)?  It could have been written by any Taoist or Buddhist:



Desiderata

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

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www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,07:22   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 05 2007,06:32)
Perhaps the trouble starts when one returns to discursive language and attempts to express the inexpressible in propositional terms.  At the dinner table.

The fundies, in particular, fall into the "word" trap.  For them, The Words are, literally, all that matters.  They in all seriousness worship a Book About God, not a God.  They see a finger pointing at the moon, and they study that finger intently, every wrinkle and fold, without ever once looking at what the finger POINTS TO.  They not only confuse the description with the reality, but assert that the description IS the only reality.

They therefore miss the whole point.

Not surprising, though, since the essence of every "mystical" view boils down to "be yourself".  And that is the one thing that terrifies the fundies more than anything else.  What they want, above all, is to be told what to do.  They have no "themself" to BE.

Sometimes I actually feel sorry for them.  It must be horrible to go through life with such crushing insecurity.

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Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,07:50   

Quote
Ever read the Desiderata (a Christian poem)?  It could have been written by any Taoist or Buddhist
or atheist. Because even though it does mention "God", by immediatelyfollowing that with "whatever you conceive Him to be" (presumably including non-sentient, non-purposeful, non-real...) that makes the term, if not meaningless, at least something an atheist can cheerfully accept.

In fact, I remember reading the Desiderata for the first time on the wall of my childhood physician's examination room; the childhood physician who was the first "atheist" to influence me, personally .

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Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,08:05   

Quote
The fundies, in particular, fall into the "word" trap.  For them, The Words are, literally, all that matters.

Not surprising, I suppose, for a tradition that begins with "In the beginning there was the. Word, and the Word was with. God, and the Word was God."

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Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

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MidnightVoice



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,08:08   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,07:09)
OK, now we're getting somewhere . . . .   Since neither you nor your family (in both cases) was born with ethics and morals in their genes, then where did they come from?

Indeed, does it make any DIFFERENCE where they come from?

There is a vast amount of research on where "moral" and co-operation come from, and it could well have a genetic and social and practical biological component.

To me, it makes no difference where they all come from.

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If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,08:11   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,07:25)
Quote
but keeping a Sabbath, following the instructions about morality and teaching my children to do the same has produced a remarkable family in spite of all sorts of adverse conditions.
Not only would I echo Ichthyic about dianetics, etc., I would bring to your attention my family, and lots of others I know, who are raising wonderful kids, fighting the good fight, etc., etc. with no religion. (Unless, of course, we're going to nonsensically define absence of religion as a religion. Don't laugh; it's a common creationist trope.)

As for the supernatural, as you probably guessed, I'm skeptical.

I feel as if some of you are adding to something I'm not saying.

When I say "Christianity has worked for me and my family" that's all I said.  I DIDN'T say "Christianity has worked for me and my family therefore it is the one true religion™"

I know Christians regularly come here trying to "prove" Christianity to you, so I understand those who automatically assume every Christian is out to do that.

I assure you, I'm not.

Dianetics, atheism, et al work for others.  Good.  It doesn't change what I stated which is "Christianity works for me."

As for the supernatural...

I would hope you're more than skeptical.  It's a foolish thing to claim I've had supernatural experiences in the midst of so many who think rationally and have spent their lives looking for the natural explanation for everything.  Possibly you will see a natural explanation and convince me it best fits my experiences.

We'll see.

   
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,08:21   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,08:05)
But I must ask again --- when you say "Christianity" works for you, which part are you referring to?  Do you mean the "do unto others" and "love thy neighbor" part?  Or do you mean the "God  . . . Bible  . . . Jesus  . . . Heaven" part?


Short answer…”yes.”

I mean trying to read the Bible, trying to apply the principles to my life and seeing the results.  That includes the “do unto others” parts as well as the “eventual eternal life” parts.

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,08:05)
I have the sneaking suspicion that there are two different views of "religion" here, that one side is using one, the other side is using the other, and both sides literally have no idea what the other side is talking about.  (Further, I suspect that the fundies and the hyper-atheists are, once again, both using the very same view.)


“Religion” is a pretty nebulous term and I don’t think I’ve used it.  I guess if I were to define it from my perspective it would be “a value system one attempts to use as a pattern for living and interacting with others.”

   
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,09:03   

Quote
I feel as if some of you are adding to something I'm not saying.

When I say "Christianity has worked for me and my family" that's all I said.  I DIDN'T say "Christianity has worked for me and my family therefore it is the one true religion™"

I know Christians regularly come here trying to "prove" Christianity to you, so I understand those who automatically assume every Christian is out to do that.
I seem to have not only failed to make my point, I seem somehow to have conveyed the exact opposite of what I had intended. Let me try again.

I'm not talking about the relative virtues of Christianity versus dianetics or Islam, or Wicca, or any other particular system that identifies itself as a religion. I'm talking about the relative virtues of religion versus no religion. (And I hope we don't need to argue about whether the absence of a religion itself constitutes a religion.)

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,09:28   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,10:03)
I seem to have not only failed to make my point, I seem somehow to have conveyed the exact opposite of what I had intended. Let me try again.

I'm not talking about the relative virtues of Christianity versus dianetics or Islam, or Wicca, or any other particular system that identifies itself as a religion. I'm talking about the relative virtues of religion versus no religion. (And I hope we don't need to argue about whether the absence of a religion itself constitutes a religion.)

Sorry I misunderstood Russell.

I believe the best system for living (religious or no) is one in which you can be honest about who you are.  For most people religion causes them to try to hide and pretend they are something they are not.  In that sense I see religion as harmful, producing guilt and shame that wouldn’t be present without it.

At the higher end of the IQ scale I suspect most people find their own way—religious or not—of living honestly with themselves.

But religious belief certainly has some good results as well, and probably results in our society as a whole that are positive.  (I think GoP was going to prove that a while back, wasn’t he?)

So, to me, the question becomes not “religion v. no-religion” but “can you honestly live in your own skin?”   Some people do that through religious belief, some do that through entirely non-religious means.

(That's a long non-answer to your question.)

   
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,12:18   

Quote
(That's a long non-answer to your question.)
Yes, it may be.

To try to nudge the discussion in a direction that I can make some sense out of, a little autobiographical digression...

When I was a kid, I took church very seriously. I saw a lot of bad behavior all around me, at every level: nations threatening nuclear annihilation and waging bloody war all over the planet, bigotry and racism practiced with varying levels of government assistance, greed and corruption, infidelity... right down to bullying and disruptive behavior in the classroom. I thought if only these bad actors would take a moment, listen to the wisdom of Jesus and the men of the cloth, they would recognize the folly and shortsightedness of their ways and pull together as a team, realizing that - in the big picture - constructive team effort, not destructive private indulgence, just plain makes more sense. For a brief period, around the age of 13, I thought maybe I would aspire to become a clergyman myself; I thought I could try to bestow on others the inestimable gift of being, thinking, and behaving... like me! (Which I ascribed, of course, to being attentive to the directives of Jesus, a.k.a. the church, a.k.a my church.

Well, that didn't last that long. While I continued to think (still do, to be really honest) that the world would be better off in many ways if more people thought and behaved as I do, I see that as more a question of neurobiology than ethics, morality or religion. And it's much more evident to me now, of course, that in many  ways, the world would be less well off if everyone were like me.

Also, from the start, I continuously struggled with the "magic" aspects of religion. I could see how Jesus's helpful hints for harmonious well-being (individually and socially) were all points well taken. But it was continuously emphasized to me that this was all integrally connected with a whole suite of supernatural wonders (like Jesus had no human father, could go head-to-head with The Amazing Kreskin with magic tricks, not only revivified but became immortal, that I myself and other true believers would also be immortal...)  None of that ever seemed credible, to the extent that I could even figure out what they even meant by it. And then, of course, there was the whole transsubstantiation thing, where the bread and wine actually become the actual flesh and blood of Jesus! (Really? Yes. Really. Literally? Yes!. Well, not literally literally; but really. Not just metaphorically really, but really really. Just not literally really. Really? Yes! well...). My idea of "prayer" was to try to induce a state of altered consciousness (fasting and sleeplessness were helpful in that regard) to the point where logic and cold rationality loosened their grip, and to will all the incredible stuff to become credible, or, failing that, to will myself to believe that even considering the illogic or impossibility of all these claims was beside the point.

I guess in the end, gradually and at varying levels of consciousness,  I just couldn't serve two masters: on the one hand, the world of natural logic where careful attention to how things work and scrupulous attention to matching, as closely as possible, language to reality in communicating observations and deductions about how things work; and, on the other, a comfortable, reassuring, benevolent religion that - as I said earlier - seems to thrive on ambiguity and on never actually being held to account for anything specific.

The one thing about Christianity that I found ultimately separates me from even the "insomesensist" Christians - for whom I have all kinds of respect - is related to my inability to buy the whole supernatural shtick. And I may be in the company of the Bad Guys here - those strange bedfellows Phillip Johnson and Richard Dawkins; Rev. Dr's evangelical fundies and evangelical atheists. I can't conceive of an entity (if an "infinite being" can be called that) that has no working parts, no material existence but has a "will": specific preferences about how things should or should not turn out, and exerts effects on the physical world. (That's my bottom line. People seem to mean different things with terms like "atheist", "nontheist", "agnostic"... Rev. Dr. emphatically denies being an atheist, though he also disclaims belief in gods or supernatural entities by any other name. I say I don't believe in, nor can I conceive of the possibility of, an extracorporeal will. By my definition, that makes me an atheist, but call it what you like). For a while, I tried to go with a Jeffersonian, pantheistic, God is the Universe and the Universe is God sort of creed. But these are really just word games.

So I'm left with this. Every thoughtful person, I think, sees the value of morality, decency, concern for fellow man, and the downside of selfishness, shortsightedness and greed. The religious (as opposed to ethical) aspects of religion seem like a fifth wheel, at best, or at worst a delusion promoted with varying degrees of cynicism and best-intentions: Karl Marx's "opiate of the masses" or Leo Strauss's necessary mythology (not sure if he has a phrase as catchy as Marx's).

So. Aren't you glad you read all that? Hello? Is anyone there?  What I'm curious about is: how do thoughtful Christians deal with these questions? Let's just home in on the central one. What does it even mean for a "will" or a "mind" to exist independently of a brain, however broadly defined or analogized. That covers not only the central question of God, but the next obvious question: what, if anything, is meant by "soul"? (Other than synonym for "mind", which - at least among us carbon-based life forms - cannot exist without the support of an actively metabolizing body.)

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deadman_932



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,15:35   

Okies, let's talk. My Grandfather was full-blood Mescalero Apache. He taught me to think of things as a unified whole. I grew up thinking in terms of primitive animism, or a subset of pantheism. Now...let's look at some things:

IF the universe emerged from a single primordial virtual particle, then it would follow ( correct me if I'm wrong) that all emergent particles that have ever become...belong to a single wave function ( oh, you h-bar) SO..what's to prevent me from viewing this whole thing as a single quantum computer computing itself?

Granted, that VIEW may be wholly wrong...Goedel says I can generate questions that the system can't answer ...but???

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Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,16:07   

Quote
Ever read the Desiderata (a Christian poem)?  It could have been written by any Taoist or Buddhist:

Desiderata

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should...

Then there was the infamous National Lampoon parody:

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right,
But that three lefts do.

Wherever possible put people on "HOLD".
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
And despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.
Remember the Pueblo.

Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you;
That lemon on your left for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls,
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore; it will stick to your face.

Carefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
For a good time, call 606-4311.

Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog
Is finally getting enough cheese;
And reflect that whatever fortunes may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Sioux City.

You are a fluke of the Universe.
You have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not,
The Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive him to be,
Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
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Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,16:30   

Quote
Okies, let's talk. My Grandfather was full-blood Mescalero Apache. He taught me to think of things as a unified whole. I grew up thinking in terms of primitive animism, or a subset of pantheism. Now...let's look at some things:
Hmmm... It may not be altogether coincidental that my Pantheistic phase was also influenced by mescal-something-or-other.

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,17:27   

Here's the way I see it:
[you are born...you live...you die]

Those brackets are the beginning and end of the experience we can share with others.

There is absolutely no evidence, none... no evidence whatsoever that god is anything that wishes to comminicate with us in our language or that life happens after death.

Wrong. That's not evidence. That's heresay. Nope. Neither is that. Wrong again! Sorry, that's been covered too.

So, intellectual honesty regarding religion can make only 1 claim: doing X makes me feel Y. Nothing else.

I can track with those who begin by noticing the "Great Chain of Being" and so on, but experience and words about the experience are not the same thing.

So, my answer becomes refined: You can not claim authoritative knowledge of god(s)(ess) supernatural events etc. and be intellectually honest.

Jesus made some sense. So did Budda. Mohammed had one or two things to say. But so did Samuel Clemens, GHandi, Monica Lewinski and my neighbor. I have what I call religious experiences frequently. Does that make me religious?

I suspect that, since you chose to use the words "intellectually honest christians" that you mean something like "Is it intellectually honest to believe in a god who intervenes in our daily lives and a heaven that awaits us when we die."

No. Of course not. There is not only no evidence for any religion but there is contraverting evidence. But who cares? I use many crutches to help me enjoy my time between the brackets. I suspect that is unavoidable and mostly benign.

Wishing a religion onto someone else  makes a lot of sense if that religion makes them stop peeing in your front yard.

That is, if you want them to stop peeing in your front yard.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,18:03   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,07:50)
Quote
Ever read the Desiderata (a Christian poem)?  It could have been written by any Taoist or Buddhist


or atheist. Because even though it does mention "God", by immediatelyfollowing that with "whatever you conceive Him to be" (presumably including non-sentient, non-purposeful, non-real...) that makes the term, if not meaningless, at least something an atheist can cheerfully accept.

Yep.


So I'm a little puzzled as to just what it is that all the hyper-atheists want to bitch about . . . . ?  So someone believes in God.  So f-ing what?  How does that pick anybody's pocket or break anybody's leg?  What difference does it make to anyone else?  Why should anyone get their undies all in an uproar over it?

Or someone DOESN'T believe in God.  Same questions.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,18:08   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 05 2007,08:05)
Quote
The fundies, in particular, fall into the "word" trap.  For them, The Words are, literally, all that matters.

Not surprising, I suppose, for a tradition that begins with "In the beginning there was the. Word, and the Word was with. God, and the Word was God."

Indeed, they are idol-worshippers, nothing more.  To them, God is, quite literally, a Book.

They demonstrate this clearly whenever you ask them simply "What is a Christian?"  Most churches will answer "someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ."  The fundies, however, invariably answer, "someone who believes in the Bible".

That difference is very telling.

The ironic part is that the fundies are completely oblivious to the whole issue.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,18:26   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 05 2007,08:11)
I feel as if some of you are adding to something I'm not saying.

You're right -- some are.  And it's not hard to see why.  To many of the uber-atheists, a theist is a theist is a theist.  They're all the same, and they're all the enemy.  To some of the hyper-atheists (more so at PT than here, thankfully), *I* too am the enemy, even though I'm, uh, not a theist.  That's because by refusing to help them stamp out religion, I am "enabling the theists", and am therefore myself no better than the theists are.

I'm sure you've seen that same attitude before --- remember all those fundies who declared that an infidel is an infidel is an infidel, and they're all the enemy --- and the "liberal christians" are the enemy too even though they are Christians, because by rejecting the One True Biblical Faith, they "enable" the atheists and are, indeed, no better than atheists themselves?

Apparently, to the extreme fringe of both sides, it's not enough to hold the "correct" ideas -- you also have to be zealous enough in stamping out the opponents, too.  Like the Maoists, no matter HOW ideologically pure you are, it's never pure enough.  (sigh)

Like I said, the evangelical fundies and the evangelical atheists simply aren't that different.

I did find it deliciously ironic, though, when *I* was pointed to as someone who treats *you* as being a fundie. . . . .

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,18:44   

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 05 2007,01:01)
I'm not surprised that intelligent, rational people can discuss loaded concepts without resorting to character assassination and underhanded tactics and I'm glad to see civility.


Just a quick note of thanks…I know many Christians come here and feel persecuted.  Despite the fact I often propose possibly nutty ideas, you guys and gals have consistently been gracious.  I do appreciate that.

 
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,08:22)
The fundies, in particular, fall into the "word" trap.  For them, The Words are, literally, all that matters.  They in all seriousness worship a Book About God, not a God.
<snip>


This is a great post Lenny.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,13:18)
So. Aren't you glad you read all that? Hello? Is anyone there?  What I'm curious about is: how do thoughtful Christians deal with these questions? Let's just home in on the central one. What does it even mean for a "will" or a "mind" to exist independently of a brain, however broadly defined or analogized. That covers not only the central question of God, but the next obvious question: what, if anything, is meant by "soul"? (Other than synonym for "mind", which - at least among us carbon-based life forms - cannot exist without the support of an actively metabolizing body.)


Russell, thanks for making a thoughtful post.  I read this earlier today but didn’t have time to respond.  So I stewed on it all afternoon.

Lately I have given this a great deal of thought.

First, I’m not convinced God does “supernatural” things as we generally define that term—things that suspend the natural laws of the universe.  In my own life almost everything I see and have previously (up until today) described as “supernatural” are actually very natural things but weirdly coincidental. (Hat tip to MarkG)

For instance:  I get up and pray because I need to pay a bill I have no money for, and then get that exact amount unexpectedly in the mail.   The check was written and mailed days before I even prayed, and absolutely no physical laws were violated.

The reason I tend to think of them as “divine intervention” has to do with all too common coincidence.  If it happens occasionally, no big deal.  If it happens constantly, that’s something else entirely.  (More on that in a minute)

WARNING:  THIS NEXT SECTION CONTAINS COMPLETE SPECULATION

Is it possible the “soul” (as people throughout history have described it) is far different than we assume?  What if we all share a common consciousness that has yet to be discovered and explored?   If it is possible the universe will someday produce energy based life forms, isn’t it possible there might be some level of energy that some people are able to tap into (in a very limited fashion)?

[/speculation]

Determinism may also hold the key to “natural” answers to prayer.

I expect this type of thing will be either discovered or refuted as we gain a better understanding of quantum mechanics, string theory, etc.

Third, I don’t know that the Bible teaches the soul can survive without the body.  The picture we are presented with of the resurrected Jesus in the Bible is of a very literal, physical body.  He ate, drank, walked and talked with others.  He made it a point to demonstrate he was physical rather than a ghost.

Later Paul, some 30 years after Jesus’ death, had to reassure Christians that they would have a new body, just as Jesus had a new body, even if they had died.

The oldest book of the Bible is Job, an ancient morality play.  One of the remarkable things about Job was where Job says:  “Even after I die, I know I will see God in the flesh.”  The belief in a “new body after death” is a very ancient idea.

But this begs a VERY HUGE question:  If Christian teaching on this is accurate, then what happens between death and resurrection?  Deadman regularly goes and digs up decayed bodies.  Where are their souls?

This is one area where I don’t have an answer and I have to accept with some faith.   Possibly we will one day advance science to the point where the answer is explained or refuted.  

MarkG came by my blog and made a great which I replied to.  I think it has some bearing here:


http://whorechurch.blogspot.com/2006....1992167

 
Quote
MarkG said...
Is the probability of winning the lottery less than that of your friends bringing over a particular desert?

How many people pray that they win the lottery? If someone did so, and won, would it be due to God's intervention, or just luck?


The probability that SOMEONE will win the lottery is pretty good. The probability that a particular person will win the lottery is pretty small. In the US the probability that someone who wins the lottery has at one time or another prayed they would win is probably also pretty good.

No, I wouldn't claim it was divine intervention.

But...

If the same person wins the lottery 5 times in one year and, in fact, never bought a ticket that didn't win I would assume somehow they had found a way to cheat or there was some type of unknown force behind it.

 
Quote
Also, I don't know how many times you have prayed for things, but how often has God not delivered? Do you keep count of those times?


For a period of time between 1984 and 2000 I kept track of specific, measurable prayer requests as well as keeping a record of how many of those were answered positively, negatively or inconclusively over the next 24 hours.

It totaled tens of thousands of prayer requests. Overall the numbers showed around 93% were answered in the positive and less than 5% were in the negative.

However, even though some might find that impressive (especially those inclined to believe), when you look at the hard data it is less so. Many of the requests were based on activities I would be doing that day and would likely have resolved the same way whether I had prayed or not.

So while I am glad I kept those records, they are hardly as conclusive as many would think.

 
Quote
For me, proof of the power of prayer would have to include something completely unnatural (e.g. regrowth of a limb). Both ice cream cake and fudge exist, and people have been known to take desert round to people's houses, when invited; it's only polite. I don't know how popular ice cream cake is in the U.S., but I suspect it's not rare? Same goes for the hot fudge topping, or is it a bizarre combination that only you and your friends like? Either way, no laws of nature have been broken in this event, so I would put it down to coincidence.


I am going to post something about the supernatural at AtBC because I had a bit of a brainstorm and I want you guys to check me out on it. More at AtBC.

I agree that coincidence is a possibility. And I know I haven't written up any more of my experiences other than this one, but at some point if this type of thing occurs regularly, one begins to say it defies reasonable coincidence.

As I said, winning the lottery 5 times in one year would be so improbable as to cause us to look for another possibility than luck.

 
Quote

If your friends had brought ice cream cake alone, would you have thanked God? What about if they had brought chocolate cake?

However, if God did intervene to make your friends bring that particular desert, one has to wonder why he didn't intervene to prevent the starvation of the many people that died whilst you were eating it.


If there had been no hot fudge, then I would have recorded in my journal that my prayer had not been answered. I still would have been happy, but on those types of things I wasn't giving God any slack--if there is a god and he is behind this stuff, he's able to stand up to scrutiny.

Why do people starve and die? Why doesn't a supreme being put a stop to it?

Beats me. Anyone who tells you they have an answer (besides "there is no god") is lying to you. That's just one example of stuff (even Bible stuff) I find very difficult to explain.

 
Quote

I hope I don't come across as snarky. I really like your posts on AtBC, and see you as a reasonable person. However, in this case, I think you're seeing what you want to see.


No, you didn't come along as snarky. Look, even though I believe there is some explanation for the experiences I've had, when a Christian approaches me and tries telling me of this "miraculous answer to prayer" I get the heebie jeebies. Typically it is less than convincing.

I knew when I decided to talk about this stuff at AtBC people would be critical of my thinking--that's exactly what I was hoping for.
 
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,19:26)
I did find it deliciously ironic, though, when *I* was pointed to as someone who treats *you* as being a fundie. . . . .

Lenny, I don’t recall doing that myself, but if I did it was the Jim Beam talking.  Please accept my apologies.

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:00   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,12:18)
I could see how Jesus's helpful hints for harmonious well-being (individually and socially) were all points well taken. But it was continuously emphasized to me that this was all integrally connected with a whole suite of supernatural wonders (like Jesus had no human father, could go head-to-head with The Amazing Kreskin with magic tricks, not only revivified but became immortal, that I myself and other true believers would also be immortal...)  None of that ever seemed credible, to the extent that I could even figure out what they even meant by it.

As noted, there are indeed Christian churches who neither assert nor accept **any** of these things.

As I pointed out before, both the evangelical atheists and the evangelical fundies view things in pretty much the same way.  They both define "Christianity" in the same way, and they both define "religious authority" in the same way.  Indeed, the militant atheists tend to treat ALL theists as if they were fundies (as seems to have been recently noticed right here in this thread), just as the fundies tend to treat ALL non-fundie religions as if they were, for all intents and purposes, atheists.  

The real dividing line, oddly enough, is not between atheism and theism.  It's between those who share the Biblical-authority definition of religion (the fundies and the uber-atheists) and those who don't (everyone else). The fight between fundies and hyper-atheists is, ironically, a fight between brothers.  Under their different-colored plumage, they are the very same bird, and they chirp the very same shared definitions.  The only difference is that one side wants to ACCEPT these shared definitions, the other side wants to REJECT them.

Alas, that limits BOTH sides, and makes any other view of Christianity or religion, quite literally, inconcievable.  Over at PT, when I pointed out that the UCC does not assert the divinity of the Bible, does not assert that Jesus is the son of God, and doesn't even assert that God definitely exists, the hyper-atheists were utterly befuddled, and wondered aloud how such a church could even consider itself "Christian".  Like the fundies, the uber-atheists literally cannot conceive of any religious framework outside of the Biblical-authority-centered one preached by the fundies and accepted unquestioningly by the evagelical atheists. To both fundies and hyper-atheists, people who do not share that framework simply are not and cannot be "real Christians".

And that is why, whenever someone from a non-fundie Christian framework (and once again it should be pointed out that these constitute by far the vast majority of Christians, worldwide) comes to forums like this, they tend to get shouted down by BOTH sides of extremists.  Neither the evangelical fundies nor the evangelical atheists can understand anything the vast majority in the middle is saying, since it's not presented in the proper "authority-centered" framework, but in a different framework that is entirely alien to both extremes.  Both the fundies and the evangelical atheists view Christianity exclusively and solely in terms of "the Bible says this, and YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW IT".  And both are equally befuddled when the majority of Christians respond with, "Like #### I do (shrug)."

I suspect that has a lot to do with why the moderate Christian majority, for the most part, doesn't get involved in the whole evolution-creation "debate".  They view the argument as not really involving them --- and in a very real sense, they are right.  It doesn't.  The argument between hyper-atheists and hyper-theists is, essentially, an argument over authority -- does the Bible have authority, or does science (and therefore atheism -- hyper-atheists, just like the fundies, tend to conflate the two, just as both also tend to conflate "religion" and "fundamentalism").  To the majority of Christians, who neither claim nor recognize any religious authority (other than their own conscience), the entire argument is a non-issue.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:16   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,12:18)
Rev. Dr. emphatically denies being an atheist

No, not really.  I simply don't apply *any* category to myself because I don't think any of them are appropriate for me.  I'm not a theist, since I don't assert or accept the existence of any god or gods.  I'm not comfortable with "agnostic", since "agnostics" either say they don't know or say that no one CAN know --- but so many, on both sides, DO claim to know, whether rightly or wrongly.  "Atheist" to me means a positive assertion that god or gods definitely do not exist, and I see no basis for making any such positive statement.  The "weak" atheists say that there simply is no (*scientific* -- once again the "authority" question intrudes) evidence for god or gods, and that's fine and dandy so far as it goes, but then, there's no scientific evidence that space aliens exist either --- and that doesn't mean they DON'T. (shrug)

And, to be blunt, another primary reason why I don't refer to myself as an "atheist" is simply because I don't want to be associated or grouped together with people like PZ, Popper's Ghost and Norm Doering, who are, in essence, no different than the fundies -- I would not want to live in a world run by people like them, and I prefer not to be associated with them in anyone's mind.

Were I forced to categorize myself as SOMETHING, it would be as an "apa-theist".  I simply don't CARE if there is a god or not.  The question simply is of no significance to me whatesoever.  If there is, that's nice.  If there ain't, that's nice too.  Makes no difference to me either way.  (shrug)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:23   

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 05 2007,17:27)
No. Of course not. There is not only no evidence for any religion but there is contraverting evidence. But who cares? I use many crutches to help me enjoy my time between the brackets. I suspect that is unavoidable and mostly benign.

Yeah, verily.  I've often wondered why some people are so utterly contemptuous of people who lean on crutches to help get them through life.  Many of the hyper-atheists remind me of people who see someone using a cane to hobble across the road, run up to him, kick his cane out from under him and then scream "WALK ON YOUR OWN, YOU WEAK LITTLE PUSSY !!!!!!!!"

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:29   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 05 2007,18:44)
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,19:26)
I did find it deliciously ironic, though, when *I* was pointed to as someone who treats *you* as being a fundie. . . . .


Lenny, I don’t recall doing that myself, but if I did it was the Jim Beam talking.  Please accept my apologies.

Oh no, it was not you at all.  Quite the opposite, indeed.

Absolutely no apology necessary.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:42   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 05 2007,18:44)
Why do people starve and die? Why doesn't a supreme being put a stop to it?

Beats me. Anyone who tells you they have an answer (besides "there is no god") is lying to you. That's just one example of stuff (even Bible stuff) I find very difficult to explain.

Oddly, I asked that very question of a "liberation theologian(*)" that I met in Nicaragua during the Contra War.  This was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting people I ever talked with --- he was a Catholic lay worker from Chicago whom I met in the village of Bocana de Paiwas, Nicaragua, where he talked with me after saying mass with his AK-47 propped up next to his altar -- and continually quoted the Bible and Marx to me with equal ease.  

His answer was, I thought, absolutely perfect:

"Q.  Why doesn't God help starving people?"

"A.  Because that is OUR job, not his."






(*) -- If anyone wants to see a real alternative to "conservative" fundamentalist theology, then "liberation theology" is something to look at.  Wow.  I'm exceedingly glad that there are people like that in the world.

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Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:52   

Quote
Were I forced to categorize myself as SOMETHING, it would be as an "apa-theist". I simply don't CARE if there is a god or not.

Excellent.

Although I first read it as "ape-theist," acknowledging that, whatever spirituality there may be, it is embodied, and never detachable.

Let me share this essay, which I wrote perhaps 15 years ago:


The Chordate Self

I.

I was brushing my teeth, or doing something else as ordinary, when suddenly struck: I am arches of experience emerging from the workings of my body, a transparent structure of color and action, transacting with an environment that is itself built of both awareness and physicality. A reality that includes body and experience. I am a tower of mental and physical homeostasis and balance, built of many rooms of knowing and behavior, a structure of self.

We are bodies that make consciousness. Bodies like our own, in turn, may be fashioned by evolution only because such a body can make consciousness.  Not spirits dwelling in bodies, able to fly out, but a di-polar reality that rises and falls as one. This single self has, as one pole, the matter/energy/message that comprises body; as another, the consciousness/volition/memory that comprises self. Self is something aware body does.  

I am saying that our bodies are spirits. Our spirits are bodies.

Identity requires memory, and memory is information-in-context that requires, in turn, form and complexity and temporality. The emergence of life, consciousness and identity in history have therefore both required and resulted from the capacity of matter and energy to support and retain complex form. It is the compartmentalized physical transactions of matter and energy, and the capacity of matter and energy to accumulate information over contingent history, that permit natural selection to construct, among myriad other things, bodies and conscious selves. In doing so, matter becomes as much like spirit as it is like clay or ash.

Why do we resist the inclusion of matter/energy in our vision of soul? Because spirits constructed as bodies cannot be built to last. That I am conscious-body now, body-spirit now, and later will not be, packs both fear and poignancy into finite experience. From that fear emerges empathy and caring, because I know that you share the same untenable predicament.

In return, by accepting that awareness emerges from bodies, we fully share the history our of bodies across deep time, and the strange and evocative structures of our human bodies and brains remain our own, rather than something merely inhabited. I fold the natural history of biological structure into my own experience, and rejoice that my soul arose in nature.  

Viewed in this way, the experiencing self is grounded in evolutionary history, a structure of experience that is both individual and "transpersonal" in nature, a transpersonal experience rooted in history.

II.

Each of us partakes of a variety of levels of self-sense. Ordinarily, human experience is existentially social and verbal in nature, experience that is shaped by the "location" of personhood in an historical and cultural context, built from that person's unique history of environments, experiences, behaviors and relationships, through interaction with one's care-givers and the embracing culture they convey. Further, the biology supporting this experience in "cultural space" is unique to the extent that it originates with the genetic and historical particulars of that individual's life. These are the social and biological considerations of psychology, and are the most frequent referents of the Western concept, "self".

There are deeper, much older strata of self that have identity in all human beings, because rooted in structural features of the human brain that are deeply invariant across individuals. Some aspects of this deeply invariant human neurological organization are "recently" evolved and, therefore, organize experiences unique to human beings, while other structures are almost unimaginably ancient, organizing a base stratum of subjectivity that is common to all vertebrate animals, a transpersonal stratum that is vastly more ancient than the neurological powers that originated with the evolution of hominids.

Evolutionary biology tells us that the essential axis of vertebrate organization, the axis of brain, spinal column and associated deployment of senses, reflects a body plan established something over five million centuries ago. This axis defines the absolute core functioning of the vertebrate life-machinery, a core responsible for governance of the internal living milieu, regulation of respiration and heart action, and the expression of drives and appetites.

Similarly, the integration of sense information and the coordination of volitional behavior follow neural pathways that are organized through a biology of awareness and behavior that is equally ancient, having originated with this 570 million year old body plan.

These ancient platforms of experience and behavior lay down in each of us a deep stratum of experiencing self that I call the "chordate self", a structure of awareness that originated with the evolution of the chordate body plan.

In short, underlying the psychological self is a deeper, more ancient chordate self in which we all silently partake, a self that is profoundly other-than-human, utterly non-verbal and shared with countless other vertebrate species. The Chordate Self.

Spiritual endeavors, those that invite widened awareness as a means to understanding, direct attention away from the inherently limiting particulars of individual history and away from the talkative narration of recent brain structures, to an essence of human awareness and human circumstance that is independent of personal history. The resulting profoundly transpersonal experiences, experiences that are fundamentally "neurohistorical" in nature, are in reality an experience of an ancient, transcendent non-verbal chordate self, refracted through the "enchanted loom" of more recent neocortical self-awareness and verbal narration that initiate and guide the spiritual effort.

It is interesting to consider some aspects of eastern discipline in this light, such as Yoga, with its interest in the deployment of energy and experience throughout the spinal column, essentially an exploration of one's phenomenological roots in chordate neural organization. Meditation of all varieties tends to place one's experience more in synchrony with transpersonal elements of self that are irrelevant to personal history, equating these neurohistorical transpersonal experiences with experience of divinity. In a sense this may not be mistaken, finding in these experiences a record of contingent evolution over very deep time, our true "creator".  

Similarly, LSD and similar substances become an occasion for a kind of neurohistorical sacrament. Whatever consciousness is, and whatever new ontological and phenomenological dimensions are drawn into existence through the addition of LSD to the human brain, nothing could more clearly demonstrate the neural basis of consciousness than its profound alteration through the insinuation of tiny amounts of such a simple substance. Thus altered, one possesses a brain of a new kind, capable of experiences associated with this new sort of brain. As a new individual, one is free to directly experience one's neurohistorical, chordate self apart from the vagaries of individual personal history, then re-enter that familiar psychological self able to refract everyday experience through the lenses of memory of this neurohistorical sacrament.

(and so forth)

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"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,19:55   

I've appreciated Lenny's non-"canned" posts (and even a couple of the canned ones).  Thanks!

I think everybody on this thread, though, realizes that Scarey (and whichever of our other mild-mannered Christians show up) is NOT a fundy.  We realize he's not banging on our doors, condemning us to he11, trying to legislate our lifestyles or gender preferences, turn our land of the free into a "Christian Nation," claiming to know more about the mind of God than your pizza guy, etc., etc.

He's trying to use us as a sounding board.  (Maybe not the brightest idea anybody ever had, given our generally rowdy nature and insouciant outlook, but what the hey...!;)

He has some pretty specific things he wants to kick around.

So, while entertainingly and trenchantly phrased as always, I'm still not sure we need to keep hearing the hyper-atheist vs. fundy lectures.

We're not about to go all hyper-atheist upside Scary's head, all right?

Personally, I've got no "large," sociopolitical problem with anyone holding whatever "faith" beliefs they want or need, as long as they don't shove it down my throat (and, likewise, I don't shove on them) or try to subvert the institutions I'm forced to deal with in an effort to accomplish the same thing.

That doesn't mean I haven't thought about some of this stuff: in most cases, I'm not convinced by any evidence--or any internal revelations or "logic"--that there's a soul, an afterlife, a supreme being (other than, ya know, the amazingness of it all...), or any of that stuff.

But weird sh*t happens.  And I've certainly had my share of spooky and or spiritual moments.  And plenty of things in life aren't factual, evidentiary, rational, logical, or well-laid in any respect I've ever been able to figure out.  I'm well along in what may well be the only life I'll ever have, and I'm still working on all this kind of stuff and whatever the significance of it all is.

(In college, while sitting in a bamboo grove in an arboretum, looking up at the stars, heavily under the influence of a certain heavy-duty synthetic substance, we concluded that, "Nothing really matters.  But it doesn't really matter that it doesn't really matter."  This, of course, seemed like a far more momentous conclusion before the affect wore off, but I'm not sure I've gotten much further with it than that.)

So, I'm happy to kick all this around with Scary--so long as you larger-brained types do most of the heavy lifting--and I'm not about to go commando-atheist on him (which I wouldn't anyway, because that's not how I categorize myself [or Dawkins either, but we can disagree over that some other time and place]).

I particularly appreciate that Scary's personal version of Christianity is just that, not a commitment to a mega-church or some grandiose wealth/power entity in which too many become enmeshed.

I really think that's one of the bases of Dawkins' concerns about the "moderately" faithful.  That they, too much of the time, turn too much of their thought and decision-making over to others in a hierarchy, about the true motives of which they give too little thought.

Unlike Scary with his honest questions, too many U.S. "moderates" (for my money) give too little thought to why they believe, what they believe, and who that belief system is actually benefiting--and potentially harming--in the here and now.

But I'm open for debate on how accurately (or not) I'm characterizing the "moderates."  And, again, because that ain't Scary, that's a rant for another day.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,20:07   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 05 2007,19:52)
Let me share this essay, which I wrote perhaps 15 years ago:

Very Taoist of you.  (grin)

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deadman_932



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,20:08   

This universe/existence is weird. Everyone says so, from Einstein to Feynman. If it is one thing from one point...then it's all emergent and "connected"
I don't know what THAT means, but ..there appears to be a limit to what we CAN say WITHIN the system. So I ain't sweatin' it.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,20:33   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 05 2007,19:55)
So, while entertainingly and trenchantly phrased as always, I'm still not sure we need to keep hearing the hyper-atheist vs. fundy lectures.

We're not about to go all hyper-atheist upside Scary's head, all right?

Well, it wasn't  *me* who complained about others treating Scary as if he were just another fundie trying to push his religion onto others.  Apparently *Scary* thought he had cause for that complaint  -- and I agree with him.  He *did* have cause for that complaint.

But you miss my point.  This is NOT about the "hyper-atheists vs fundies".  Scary's view is entirely different from both.  **And that is my point.**

Every time I've seen someone like Scary come into an evolution-creation forum (ANY forum), it always ends the same way.  Every time.  The fundies jump all over him because "people who don't believe the Bible are just atheist devil-worshippers".  And the hyper-atheists jump all over him because "supernaturalism is stupid and religion is for retards".  (I am using hyperbole to make a point here, so please don't get one's undies all in an uproar.)

My goal in laying out the whole hyper-atheist/fundie thingie is precisely to point out that NEITHER SIDE can understand Scary's viewpoint, because *both* sets of evangelicals, pro and con, group everything into the very same framework --- and it's  **not the same framework as people like Scary are using**.   So what invariably happens is that everyone talks right past each other, because no one, literally, understands what the others are saying.

I think, for hard practical political reasons as well as for human reasons, it's enormously important for everyone to actually understand Scary's viewpoint, since **it's the majority viewpoint of Christians worldwide**.  Not the fundies.

So rather than listening to lots and lots of the same old "religion is stupid" and/or "all Bible-rejecters are Devil-spawn", I'd prefer that everyone, from the fundie Christians right around to the uber-atheists, actually try to understand Scary's framework --- REALLY understand it.

We all could learn a lot.

Or, we could just toss as many bombs as we can until Scary either accepts someone else's religious opinions or runs away.  I don't see much point to that, but, as I said, that's what invariably happens.

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deadman_932



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,20:42   

Quote
Every time I've seen someone like Scary come into an evolution-creation forum (ANY forum), it always ends the same way.  Every time.  The fundies jump all over him because "people who don't believe the Bible are just atheist devil-worshippers".  

I won't and ya know what? I'll say suck my dick to anyone that does try that stupid crap. NO ONE knows what this shit means.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,20:47   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 05 2007,19:55)
Unlike Scary with his honest questions, too many U.S. "moderates" (for my money) give too little thought to why they believe, what they believe, and who that belief system is actually benefiting--and potentially harming--in the here and now.

But I'm open for debate on how accurately (or not) I'm characterizing the "moderates."

With all due respect, from my experience, it's not very accurate.

Over the past two and a half decades, I've worked with an awful lot of those religious moderates, from many different religions, in many different areas.  I've worked with a group of Muslims to set up a food bank. I've worked with black Baptists in civil rights campaigns.  In the antiwar movements, I've worked with everyone from Quakers to Catholics to Unitarians to Buddhists to Jews to UCCers.  

I can assure you that, not only has every one of them thought very long and very hard about exactly what they believe, why they believe it, and why they think it benefits people, but that is precisely WHY they are out there setting up food banks, working for civil rights, and working to end wars.  They take things like "love thy neighbor" and "bear the burden of the helpless" and "right action", very seriously.  And for them, THAT is what "religion" is all about.  Not "the Bible says this" or "the Koran says that".

It's something you'll  *never*  see fundies doing.

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k.e



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,20:53   

Quote
Oddly, I asked that very question of a "liberation theologian(*)" that I met in Nicaragua during the Contra War.  This was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting people I ever talked with --- he was a Catholic lay worker from Chicago whom I met in the village of Bocana de Paiwas, Nicaragua, where he talked with me after saying mass with his AK-47 propped up next to his altar -- and continually quoted the Bible and Marx to me with equal ease.  


I've always thought that if Jesus were here today he would be locked up and the key thrown away for being a whacko communist/terrorist trouble maker, railing against obscenely rich church organisations and helping the poor (so workers are not screwed by capital)......oops....didn't that happen the first time?

The politically conservative religionists couldn't be happier that the Christian symbol of god on earth was powerless against money, military power and the oligarchy/plutocracy.
That alone explains why Christianity conquered Europe, the version the rulers promoted 'let g$d die', and the same would happen to anyone who disagreed with the church/state.

Under the guise of social order and 'the rule of g$d' according to g$d's laws, they would like nothing less than a total theocracy with them being the theocrats.

They know there is nothing 'on the other side' after death and they can do just as they as they please while they are here, because they can and everyone else can go to h€ll.

The fundies are performing a perfect social experiment to see how far they can take self interest before environmental limitations both physical and political kick in.

To achieve that they need to remove any test for the truth of their world view, fortunately that requires a level of stupidity that not everyone can match.

It's called social Darwinism and is exactly opposite to the world I think Jesus tried but failed to speak into existence.

On a brighter note, when you look at the best the world has to offer today in terms of medicine, food production, education , longevity and social democratic law and order ( in some countries). Ironically I think Jesus would have declared 'g$d's kingdom has come'. That only happened when religious power was reduced and scientists allowed to question the very nature of the universe without repercussion. There are plenty of places where that is yet to happen.

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The conservative has but little to fear from the man whose reason is the servant of his passions, but let him beware of him in whom reason has become the greatest and most terrible of the passions.These are the wreckers of outworn empires and civilisations, doubters, disintegrators, deicides.Haldane

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,21:27   

Quote (k.e @ Jan. 05 2007,20:53)
It's called social Darwinism and is exactly opposite to the world I think Jesus tried but failed to speak into existence.

Ironic, is it not, that the anti-evolution fundies are, without a doubt, the most ruthless and heartless of Social Darwinists, who would happily dismantle every social program of the "welfare state" and let the poor fend for themselves in their version of a "free market" system, where the strong climb to the top, and the weak  . . . well . . . get stepped on.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,21:32   

Quote (k.e @ Jan. 05 2007,20:53)
I've always thought that if Jesus were here today he would be locked up and the key thrown away for being a whacko communist/terrorist trouble maker, railing against obscenely rich church organisations and helping the poor (so workers are not screwed by capital)......oops....didn't that happen the first time?

Was it just a coincidence that the Holy Catholic Church explicitly and deliberately modelled its organization after that of the Roman Empire --- even before it BECAME the Roman Empire . . . . ?

;)

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Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,21:32   

Quote
[Rev. Dr.:] Or, we could just toss as many bombs as we can until Scary either accepts someone else's religious opinions or runs away.  I don't see much point to that, but, as I said, that's what invariably happens.
Frankly, I just don't see that happening here. But people see what they expect to see, I guess, and that can steer these discussions into, as I said, self-fulfilling prophesies.

Take a look at this exchange, for instance:
Quote
[Russell:] Not only would I echo Ichthyic about dianetics, etc., I would bring to your attention my family, and lots of others I know, who are raising wonderful kids, fighting the good fight, etc., etc. with no religion. (Unless, of course, we're going to nonsensically define absence of religion as a religion. Don't laugh; it's a common creationist trope.)

As for the supernatural, as you probably guessed, I'm skeptical.
Quote
[Scary:] I feel as if some of you are adding to something I'm not saying.

When I say "Christianity has worked for me and my family" that's all I said.  I DIDN'T say "Christianity has worked for me and my family therefore it is the one true religion™"


Now, how could a plain reading of my words lead someone to conclude that I was accusing anyone of promoting Christianity as "the one true religion"?

I don't know, but I suspect it's a case of seeing what you expect to see, regardless of what's there. I'm not picking on Mr. Facts here. Quite the contrary. I use this example partly because it's right at hand, and partly because I think Mr. Facts might well agree with me. I'm sure I do it from time to time, but I'm equally sure that I won't catch myself at it; someone will need to bring it to my attention.

But I think you're doing it here, Lenny. I don't see this discussion being dominated by über--atheists or über-fundies throwing bombs or insisting on conversions or recantations. I just don't see it. Perhaps because I don't particularly expect to see it.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,21:53   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,21:32)
Quote
[Rev. Dr.:] Or, we could just toss as many bombs as we can until Scary either accepts someone else's religious opinions or runs away.  I don't see much point to that, but, as I said, that's what invariably happens.
Frankly, I just don't see that happening here. But people see what they expect to see, I guess, and that can steer these discussions into, as I said, self-fulfilling prophesies.

Take a look at this exchange, for instance:  
Quote
[Russell:] Not only would I echo Ichthyic about dianetics, etc., I would bring to your attention my family, and lots of others I know, who are raising wonderful kids, fighting the good fight, etc., etc. with no religion. (Unless, of course, we're going to nonsensically define absence of religion as a religion. Don't laugh; it's a common creationist trope.)

As for the supernatural, as you probably guessed, I'm skeptical.
 
Quote
[Scary:] I feel as if some of you are adding to something I'm not saying.

When I say "Christianity has worked for me and my family" that's all I said.  I DIDN'T say "Christianity has worked for me and my family therefore it is the one true religion™"


Now, how could a plain reading of my words lead someone to conclude that I was accusing anyone of promoting Christianity as "the one true religion"?

I don't know, but I suspect it's a case of seeing what you expect to see, regardless of what's there. I'm not picking on Mr. Facts here. Quite the contrary. I use this example partly because it's right at hand, and partly because I think Mr. Facts might well agree with me. I'm sure I do it from time to time, but I'm equally sure that I won't catch myself at it; someone will need to bring it to my attention.

But I think you're doing it here, Lenny. I don't see this discussion being dominated by über--atheists or über-fundies throwing bombs or insisting on conversions or recantations. I just don't see it. Perhaps because I don't particularly expect to see it.

You missed my point entirely and utterly.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,21:59   

Apparently.
What do you suspect: faulty transmission or faulty reception?

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The Wayward Hammer



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,22:03   

Much of this reminds me of Paul Tillich or even Bishop Spong.  I think Scary is more in the Marcus Borg camp - which I think is a good place to be!  If you ever get a chance read Borg's "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time."  It's subtitle is "Taking the Bible Seriously but not Literally."

Borg's basic thesis is that man over the years has experienced the reality of God and man's sacred writings are a response to that experience.  They are true without necessarily being factual.

I don't know if I can buy that thesis completely, but it seems to cover some people's experiences of sacred or supernatural without making the religous writings (The Book) out to be more than they are.  Lenny makes a point that I have as well in the past - fundies now worship a Book.  For those of you that suffered through the AFDave thread, he once mentioned that the "Word" was done - there was no need anymore for personal experience of God.  We had it in the book.  Talk about a dead-end religon.

I still struggle myself with what is "real" and how we know what real is.  But I do know that religon as we have it today is about power, not faith.

Maybe I will end up like Martin Gardner - believing because it comforts me to do so.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,22:15   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,21:59)
Apparently.
What do you suspect: faulty transmission or faulty reception?

Faulty reception, since others appear to have gotten it.

Perhaps you should just stick to arguing over religious authority with the fundies.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,22:36   

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ Jan. 05 2007,22:03)
Borg's basic thesis is that man over the years has experienced the reality of God and man's sacred writings are a response to that experience.  They are true without necessarily being factual.

Well, the reality of SOMETHING, anyway . . .   Reality is a pretty awesome thing all by itself.   Alas, most people insist on pushing a philosophical/metaphorical window between it and themselves, and thus miss the whole view.

But as was noted before, once any of us have experienced something (anything) and wish to communicate that experience to others, all we have available to do that with is words --- and no description of an experience can accurately convey the experience.  Particularly to those without, well, that experience.   :)

Call that experience "god" if you like.  Call it "awe".  Call it " a sense of something bigger than oneself".  It doesn't matter what one calls it.  It's the experience that counts.

The Japanese refer to this as "kami", which is usually translated as "spirits", but is left untranslated by those who understand it.  It refers to the immense feeling of awe and wonder and joy that certain things bring.  Scattered across Japan, in any place where there is a view or panorama which brings that feeling of awe and wonder (a waterfall, a mountain view, a seascape), there will be a "tori", the familiar Japanese gateway which symbolizes the door to Heaven.  "Kami" is that experience.  Writings are a (poor) attempt to communicate that experience.

That's how I view the Bible, the Koran, the Tao te Ching, the Baghavad Gita, and any and all other "sacred texts".


(Inevitably, there will now be someone who will testily declare "This is all crap, because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HEAVEN /slash/ THAT ISN'T WHAT HEAVEN IS."

And they will have missed the point.  Utterly and totally.)

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The Wayward Hammer



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,22:52   

Lenny, Borg is a Christian but discussed many other experiences and used God as a bit of a shorthand.  His point was that the Bible, etc. are very much human documents.

I can pretty much agree with your thoughts about the experience of awe or wonder and sometimes we screw up the view by running it through a lens of philosophy or metaphysics.  And I certainly agree that words are inadequate.  For example, have you seen the picture from Cassini with Saturn and its rings backlit by the Sun?  And there is a small bluish dot off to the left - Earth from a billion miles away.  I could write many words about that dicotomy - the massive planet with its stunning rings and little blue dot.  But the picture is a lot better.

Oh, and one other thing you have written elsewhere I  must agree with you on completely - this whole ID thing is about political power.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,22:56   

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ Jan. 05 2007,22:03)
Maybe I will end up like Martin Gardner - believing because it comforts me to do so.

Nothing wrong with that.  (shrug)

In the immortal words of John Lennon, "Whatever gets you through your life, is alright, is alright . . . . "

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2007,23:01   

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ Jan. 05 2007,22:52)
For example, have you seen the picture from Cassini with Saturn and its rings backlit by the Sun?  And there is a small bluish dot off to the left - Earth from a billion miles away.  I could write many words about that dicotomy - the massive planet with its stunning rings and little blue dot.  But the picture is a lot better.

I feel the same way when I see the Hubble Deep Field photo.  All those galaxies, so far away, stretching on and on and on . . . .

What a marvelous universe we live in.  

And how sad that so many people want to try to force it to be what they want it to be.  What it *is*, is good enough for me.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,00:11   

Scary, I'll offer this and maybe it will help and maybe it won't, if so just happily ignore it.

Faith to me has always been an easy question.  I've never been one to wrestle with it only with my inability to adhere to courses of action that I know that I should.  The reason for this is that I've reduced it all back to a single question: existence vs. oblivion.  

Since we have two choices it would seem that there would be a fifty-fifty chance of either result.  So why do we have existence over oblivion?  To do this we (or me as the case would be) would have to be able to examine each and compare and contrast to understand why one result is favored.  This we can not do.  We exist within a material world and have absolutely no understanding or experience of non-existence.  This last is not just me talking; no one can comprehend oblivion and there's been a lot of very smart people throughout history that have come to the same conclusion.

So all we know is existence and that begs the question as to what caused it.  Whatever caused it stands outside of the material universe in terms of essence or composition.  It is prior to the natural laws that describe the material universe and is therefore, by definition, super-natural.  Once you get to this point it all becomes semantics.  Whether it the First Cause or the Cosmic Spirit or God or whatever becomes a personal choice.  I strongly disagree with BWE because at the root nearly any faith can be intellectually honest if it is sincere.

On thing we've done in science is study the things we can study.  Things we can observe, measure, quantify and so forth and we've skipped over the more difficult questions because they are not accessable by science.  The fundamental question is existence vs oblivion but we can not study that so we move on down the line until we find something we can study.  Unfortunately, men of science often will use this later knowledge to extrapolate back to the earlier questions and make a determination.  This determination is invalid.  

As a sidebar, every couple of years, popular media puts forth the idea of a faith gene, the reason why some believe and some don't.  In some ways I find this compelling because just from personal experience I know it would be impossible for me to ever believe in nothing.  It destroys my understanding of causation and an objective reality and it is something I've never been able to comprehend.  Maybe that's my limitation or I'm just wired that way, who can say?

Also, your earlier reference to the three O's as a working definition of God follows very easily from Aquinas' argument.  If God is Existence or the To Be as Aquinas defined Him then the Three O's follow quite naturally and in a similar way to Deadman's grandfather's explanation of the unified concept.

Just thought I'd add an appropriately long post, though not nearly as long as others, and I hope that might help as you frame the debate in your head.  If not, like I said, junk it.  :)

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,00:49   

Quote
On thing we've done in science is study the things we can study.  Things we can observe, measure, quantify and so forth and we've skipped over the more difficult questions because they are not accessable by science.  The fundamental question is existence vs oblivion but we can not study that so we move on down the line until we find something we can study.  Unfortunately, men of science often will use this later knowledge to extrapolate back to the earlier questions and make a determination.  This determination is invalid. {my emphasis}  


But not necessarily if that determination is an ampliative one. Scientific theories can help us remedy rational thinking, i.e., the explanations of science can act as scaffolding for philosophical excursions. And hopefully these excursions, being logical/rational/etc... , will help to at least explicate your worries.

At the very least, the sciences give us excellent predictions. Being a bit more adventurous, science helps us (see/understand/...) something objective about this world. It isn't the definite word, but it's not trivially vacuous and/or invalid.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,01:23   

The invalidity (my word, lol) I'm referring to arises from the application of knowledge gained through rational means to evaluate an irrational experience.  Maybe irrational is the wrong word here but events beyond the natural laws can not be assessed rationally.  We have no frame of reference to apply in this case.  In essence, science would be saying: "If the emergence of Existence were to conform to natural law, then this is how it happened."  In this case there is no natural law that applies, at least not that we know of, so it is of no use to extend these laws anyway.

Science can certainly suggest some ideas as to the origin of a universe but that would be a universe that existed  within our own.  Anything beyond (or before) exists under laws that we have knowledge or experience of and therefore our knowledge just doesn't apply.

Disclaimer: the above comments are purely my opinion since I certainly have no special knowledge of the nature of the universe, existence and everything.  :D

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,06:07   

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 05 2007,18:27)
There is not only no evidence for any religion but there is contraverting evidence.


Good post, BWE.

I (obviously) disagree that we have no evidence.  While I know I am going out on a limb here, there is no doubt in my mind that I personally have experienced “coincidences” so often as to be beyond a reasonable doubt.  (I still have to start writing those things up, and I think you may not agree once I do, but I do believe most rational people will at least see why I  say it is evidence.)

Is it hearsay?   Technically, I suppose, but that does not negate its value.

By the way…you wrote up a really cool view of life and death for you back a month or two ago.  I couldn’t remember what thread it was on, but if you know where it is, it might be good to post it again on this thread.  I felt it was well written and clearly presented your beliefs.

   
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,06:19   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 05 2007,20:52)
Let me share this essay, which I wrote perhaps 15 years ago:
I was brushing my teeth, or doing something else as ordinary, when suddenly struck:  I am arches of experience emerging from the workings of my body, a transparent structure of color and action, transacting with an environment that is itself built of both awareness and physicality.  A reality that includes body and experience.  I am a tower of mental and physical homeostasis and balance, built of many rooms of knowing and behavior, a structure of self.


I never thought before about brushing teeth being a transcendental experience.

Bill, this is great post.  I am beginning to think you (and others) may be correct that our “soul” is not independent of our bodies.  As I mentioned in an impossibly long post earlier:  Christianity teaches the necessity of a physical body post resurrection.   If we didn’t need a body, it seems to me this teaching wouldn’t be so important.

But as I also mentioned, this begs a huge question about where is the soul between death and resurrection.  I don’t have any real insight there yet.

   
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,06:31   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 05 2007,20:55)
So, I'm happy to kick all this around with Scary


Ha, my plan is coming together perfectly:

Pretend not to be a fundy to gain the trust of the atheists [check]
Gain their trust by pretending to be rational [check]
Tell the atheists you want their input [check]
Over time gently destroy their false reasoning
Pretend to become a fundy with them
Have them all move to my compound in Guyana


OK, on a more serious note...

Steve, thanks for at least not pointing and laughing.  I apreciate your willingness to discuss these issues with me.

   
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,06:34   

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 05 2007,21:42)
I won't and ya know what? I'll say suck my dick to anyone that does try that stupid crap. NO ONE knows what this shit means.

Gee, Deadman, don't hold back, tell us what you really think.

   
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,06:43   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 05 2007,21:33)
Every time I've seen someone like Scary come into an evolution-creation forum (ANY forum), it always ends the same way.  Every time.  The fundies jump all over him because "people who don't believe the Bible are just atheist devil-worshippers".  And the hyper-atheists jump all over him because "supernaturalism is stupid and religion is for retards".


Thanks for defending me Lenny.

When I left the church I experienced the loss of my home, my friends as well as my job and income.  Dealing with people here is a walk in the park.  Trust me, nobody’s going to run me off unless I want to leave.

   
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,06:54   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 05 2007,22:32)
I think Mr. Facts might well agree with me.


I do agree which is why I immediately apologized when you made it clear to me that wasn’t what you were saying.

Though I want to make something else clear:  I attempt to be considerate, polite and appropriately humble.  But I have no trouble sticking up for myself.  Heck, just this morning I was bathroom walled—and I didn’t even use profanity.  I hope no one is worried about hurting my feelings.

And please, call me Scary, everyone does.  No need for formality here.

   
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,07:09   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,01:23)
The invalidity (my word, lol) I'm referring to arises from the application of knowledge gained through rational means to evaluate an irrational experience.  Maybe irrational is the wrong word here but events beyond the natural laws can not be assessed rationally.  We have no frame of reference to apply in this case.  In essence, science would be saying: "If the emergence of Existence were to conform to natural law, then this is how it happened."  In this case there is no natural law that applies, at least not that we know of, so it is of no use to extend these laws anyway.

Science can certainly suggest some ideas as to the origin of a universe but that would be a universe that existed  within our own.  Anything beyond (or before) exists under laws that we have knowledge or experience of and therefore our knowledge just doesn't apply.

Skeptic here illustrates my point, just as some of our resident atheists already have illustrated the same point.

BOTH of them want to re-frame the whole discussion in terms of "authority".  To Skeptic, it's simple --- we can understand the unvierse, but we can't understand what's outside the universe, god is outside the universe, we can't understand god, therefore we should just shut up and listen to what god tells us.

To the hyper-atheists, it's equally simple --- we can understand the universe, there IS nothing outside the universe, therefore anything asserted to be outside the universe has no authority and doesn't need to be listened to.

As I noted, both of these sides are using the very same framework, and the very same argument inside that framework.  They are both simply arguing over who has "religious authority" and who doesn't.

As I also noted, neither I nor any of the moderate non-fundie Christians utilize that framework.  Neither I nor any of the non-fundie Christian moderates assert or accept any "religious authority".  And that is why neither Skeptic nor Russell are able to understand my point.  It simply falls outside of their conceptual framework, and until they themselves are able to look outside their framework, they quite simply will not ever be able to understand a word that I (or any of the moderate Christian majority) are saying.  It falls completely outside their experience, and they literally have no idea what the words are referring to.

And there is nothing I or anyone else can do to make it any more clear for them.  No words are understandable to those who don't have the experience of which the words are referring.  If they wish to understand, they MUST look outside of their conceptual framework.

Alas, that is very difficult for most people to do.  It's far easier to just remain within their conceptual framework, and argue with each other over who has "authority" and who doesn't.

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,07:11   

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ Jan. 05 2007,23:03)
Much of this reminds me of Paul Tillich or even Bishop Spong.  I think Scary is more in the Marcus Borg camp - which I think is a good place to be!

…Borg's basic thesis is that man over the years has experienced the reality of God and man's sacred writings are a response to that experience.  They are true without necessarily being factual.


Hammer great, thoughtful post.

I’m not ready to go as far as Tillich or Spong, though you never know where I will eventually arrive.  Borg is possibly closer to where I am today (literally, I am questioning everything day by day) though I am not quite ready to picture God “in everything” quite yet.  I have some growing to do.

But you are correct in my view of scripture, though I haven’t completely settled "scriptural" in my mind just yet.

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ Jan. 05 2007,23:03)
I still struggle myself with what is "real" and how we know what real is.  But I do know that religion as we have it today is about power, not faith.


Exactly.  I couldn’t agree more.

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ Jan. 05 2007,23:03)
Maybe I will end up like Martin Gardner - believing because it comforts me to do so.


Isn’t this the reason anyone has any faith at all?  We seek a god, a faith, a system for living because it gives us some emotional payoff we feel we need.  If, like Lenny, we are an apa-theist there’s no motivation.

   
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,07:21   

Quote (curious @ Jan. 06 2007,00:49)
Scientific theories can help us remedy rational thinking, i.e., the explanations of science can act as scaffolding for philosophical excursions. And hopefully these excursions, being logical/rational/etc... , will help to at least explicate your worries.

It always strikes me how so many science-types lean so heavily on being "rational" and "logical" in their philosophical views of life.  It's like they are all named "Spock", and have all attained Kohlinar.

Alas, humans are irrational, emotional, illogical, impulsive creatures.

When scientists choose someone to marry, I doubt very much that they use the "rational" "logical" "scientific method" to do so . . . . .

The worst ones are the "biological determinists" who assert that thought and emotion itself (including religion, in most cases) is "nothing but the deterministic motion of molecules in the brain".  They remind me of Data's definition of "friendship"  -- "As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs are eventually anticipated, even missed when absent."

I bet they're, uh, great at parties.  (yawn)

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,07:23   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,02:23)
The invalidity (my word, lol) I'm referring to arises from the application of knowledge gained through rational means to evaluate an irrational experience.  Maybe irrational is the wrong word here but events beyond the natural laws can not be assessed rationally.


There is a basic assumption that God (or god) as defined by the Bible acts in supernatural ways, but I don’t believe this is scripturally supported.

Follow my reasoning here (and tell me if I am crazy):

If you accept God is, on some level, the creator, then you also believe he established the natural laws of the universe.

Isn’t it possible such a god would also operate according to the laws he established?  If so, then it is possible using natural observation we can learn about his universes and God himself.

   
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,07:50   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,07:11)
Isn’t this the reason anyone has any faith at all?  We seek a god, a faith, a system for living because it gives us some emotional payoff we feel we need.  If, like Lenny, we are an apa-theist there’s no motivation.

Au contraire, I assure you that I am QUITE highly motivated.  I would think that to be rather obvious.  ;)

The difference between me and the fundies is that my motivation doesn't come from any external source -- it comes from within ME.  I am responsible for my own life -- me and me alone.  Not "god", not "the devil".  Just me.  Every decision I make is MY decision.  I, and I alone, am responsible for the results of those decisions.

As I noted before, the fundies are absolutely terrified of that.  The one thing they fear most in the world is having to make a decision for which they, and they alone, are responsible.  So, they push that responsibility off onto something else.  They give responsibility for their entire lives to their Authority Father Figure, who they assume always knows best, and therefore they grant that Father Figure total and complete responsibility to make all their decisions for them.

Of course, in a real sense, the fundies still do not escape responsibility for their decisions.  After all, the decision to grant all decisions over you to somebody else, is itself a decision *they themselves* have made.  If they grant decision-making authority over them to someone else, that is still THEIR decision, and because they can un-do that decision at any time, they still retain full responsibility for it.  

WE choose all of our own opinions and decisions -- they do not choose US.  The real question is whether or not we choose to also acknowledge the RESPONSIBILITY for those opinions and decisions.  The fundies do not --- they prefer to hold "god" or "the devil" responsible for everything that happens to them -- so nothing is ever the fundies' fault or responsibility.  Here, I give the atheists full points -- they take full responsibility for their lives, and they don't try to foist responsibility for their lives off onto some Big Daddy in the Sky (and make no mistake, "Big Daddy in the Sky" is exactly how the fundies want their god to be).

It's one thing I find so liberating about all the Asian "religious" traditions.  In all of them, YOU are the captain of your own ship.  You choose your own course, you decide when and where to turn, and you are responsible for everything that happens.  There's no Big Daddy in the Sky to watch out for you.  You are entirely on your own.

No one can tell me how to be "me".  Not even god can do that.  Only *I* can do that.  Which is precisely why the question of god's existence is such an irrelevant non-issue to me.  

I find that quite liberating.  Many people, though, simply aren't *ready* to acknowledge responsibility for their own lives.  Therefore I do not begrudge people their Big Daddy in the Sky if they need it, just as I don't begrudge people a hearing aid or a walking cane if they need it.  If it helps them get through life, then that's fine with me -- as long as they remember that their right to swing their cane ends at the tip of my nose.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,07:55   

Quote
As I noted, both of these sides are using the very same framework, and the very same argument inside that framework.  They are both simply arguing over who has "religious authority" and who doesn't.
If that's what you think I think, you (ahem) completely and utterly missed my point.

But never mind.

I don't want to distract from the more interesting interaction here with a dispute over whose view is more transcendent, or who can more preachily denounce preachiness.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:01   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,07:23)
Isn’t it possible such a god would also operate according to the laws he established?  If so, then it is possible using natural observation we can learn about his universes and God himself.

You are, of course, viewing "god" entirely in human terms.

I doubt that "god" is a human.   ;)

I prefer to view "god" and "creation" (temporarily adopting the Christian terminology) as different aspects of the same thing, not as separate and distinct entities.  But , of course, that is just my opinion, and it is, of course, no more authoritative or infallible than anyone ELSE's opinion.  

It's up to you to find your OWN opinion.  No one else can do that for you.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:08   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 06 2007,07:55)
or who can more preachily denounce preachiness.

"Preaching" is all about "authority".  People without "authority", cannot "preach".

So we are back to my point.  You still have not left the whole "who has authority?" framework.  And that's why you still don't grasp what I'm saying.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:25   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,07:11)
I have some growing to do.

We  *all*  do.

It never stops.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:27   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,07:09)
As I also noted, neither I nor any of the moderate non-fundie Christians utilize that framework.  Neither I nor any of the non-fundie Christian moderates assert or accept any "religious authority".  And that is why neither Skeptic nor Russell are able to understand my point.  It simply falls outside of their conceptual framework, and until they themselves are able to look outside their framework, they quite simply will not ever be able to understand a word that I (or any of the moderate Christian majority) are saying.  It falls completely outside their experience, and they literally have no idea what the words are referring to.

You've confused me, Lenny.  For one thing I didn't refer to authority anywhere in my post.  That aside, I'd really like to know what framework you work from because, as you said, it alludes me.  There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe.  There are no other alternatives to that question, unless you see something that I and many others do not.  I just take the question to the next logical conclusion.  The fact that the universe exists is proof to me that something beyond the universe exists.

You speak as if this conclusion is somehow limiting or derived from the simple-minded.  How can it be when it is one of the TWO equally valid available conclusions?  If there are more than two choices here, please, enlighten me because I fail to see them.

This may, in fact, prove what you're asserting but I believe the burden rests on you to provide an alternative.  Otherwise, I would say that both Russell and I occupy opposite sides of a valid coin and it would be you that is stuck in a prison of you're own making.

  
lkeithlu



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:34   

I want to thank all of you for your time spent on this thread. One of the wonders of the internet is experiencing a conversation of this nature among people whose daily existence is different. Yes, sometimes my friends/coworkers (that group represents almost a complete overlap) have discussions that are deeper than the everyday, usually with the help of aqueous ethanol solutions. But our experiences are too similar (we are boarding school teachers), and our opportunities too few (we are boarding school teachers). Your comments are interesting and thoughtful.
KL

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:35   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,07:11)
I’m not ready to go as far as Tillich or Spong, though you never know where I will eventually arrive.  Borg is possibly closer to where I am today

I'm just curious here:  you seem to be searching everywhere and anywhere for answers, except in the one place that is most readily accessible and knowable for you --- inside yourself.

Why is that?

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:38   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,08:27)
I'd really like to know what framework you work from because, as you said, it alludes me.

I know it does.  And there's nothing I can do about that.

Whether you see it or not is entirely up to you.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:41   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,07:23)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,02:23)
The invalidity (my word, lol) I'm referring to arises from the application of knowledge gained through rational means to evaluate an irrational experience.  Maybe irrational is the wrong word here but events beyond the natural laws can not be assessed rationally.


There is a basic assumption that God (or god) as defined by the Bible acts in supernatural ways, but I don’t believe this is scripturally supported.

Follow my reasoning here (and tell me if I am crazy):

If you accept God is, on some level, the creator, then you also believe he established the natural laws of the universe.

Isn’t it possible such a god would also operate according to the laws he established?  If so, then it is possible using natural observation we can learn about his universes and God himself.

If God established the laws of the universe then He, She or It operates a level above those laws.  He is not ONLY subject to them because he defined them.  Think of it in spheres.  The Universe is a sphere that is surrounded by another sphere that encapsulates or IS God.  Everything that occurs within the Universe are subject to the established natural laws but events also occur outside the sphere that are not.  Creation, is this sense the moment or event of existence, is one of these cases.  It occured within the sphere that houses or Is God and became the Universe.  Consider it a sub-set.  It reflect the whole but does not necessarily contain all the members of the larger set.  I hope that helps clarify my meaning when I refered to super-natural.

The next question, the one I think Lenny is getting at, is whether or not there is any interaction between the two spheres.  That, I believe, can only be resolved at the personal level.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,08:48   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,08:38)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,08:27)
I'd really like to know what framework you work from because, as you said, it alludes me.

I know it does.  And there's nothing I can do about that.

Whether you see it or not is entirely up to you.

There's nothing you can do about because you choose not to?

Or am I so inferior that there's no hope?

Or there is no real answer?

Come on, Lenny, this is a cop-out and a contemptous one at that.  As I said, the burden lies with you.  Show me an alternative and I'll consider it, otherwise...

Why not go back to the blondes and brunettes.  I thought that was a fantastic piece which I intend to use in the future (with appropriate acknowlegement, of course).

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,09:14   

Skeptic:
     
Quote
There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe.  There are no other alternatives to that question, unless you see something that I and many others do not.

But there ARE alternatives.  One is that neither pole of this dichotomy -  there IS or ISN'T something "outside" of the universe (or "before time") - has any meaning.  

This is rather like demanding to know whether there IS, or IS NOT something north of the north pole. As it happens, it is not that one answer is correct and the other mistaken; rather, neither has any meaning: "There is nothing north of the north pole" has no more meaning than "there is something north of the north pole."  

So it is not that your answer to your question is correct (or incorrect). Rather, the conceptual tools that you are applying, which are so useful in ordinary contexts and that you conceptualize as sweeping out all of the possible alternatives, may be wholly inappropriate to the issue at hand.

That is the alternative that you and so many others are not seeing.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
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curious



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,09:17   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,07:21)

It always strikes me how so many science-types lean so heavily on being "rational" and "logical" in their philosophical views of life.  It's like they are all named "Spock", and have all attained Kohlinar.

Alas, humans are irrational, emotional, illogical, impulsive creatures.

When scientists choose someone to marry, I doubt very much that they use the "rational" "logical" "scientific method" to do so . . . . .

The worst ones are the "biological determinists" who assert that thought and emotion itself (including religion, in most cases) is "nothing but the deterministic motion of molecules in the brain".  They remind me of Data's definition of "friendship"  -- "As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs are eventually anticipated, even missed when absent."

I bet they're, uh, great at parties.  (yawn)


What, you mean everyone doesn't have Bayesian procedures for picking who to talk to at parties?

But seriously, rationality helps to inform our (maybe just my) ethics and epistemology so I would think it would be of foremost importance to our (my) philosophical views. But, of course I (but maybe not you) will fail miserably to perfectly follow/track/obey these views, but that's life. Consequently, emotions, intuitions, and other mechanisms for a proper social life are still vital (or until this guy gives us some better algorithms :) ).

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,09:25   

Lenny:
Quote
Here, I give the atheists full points -- they take full responsibility for their lives, and they don't try to foist responsibility for their lives off onto some Big Daddy in the Sky (and make no mistake, "Big Daddy in the Sky" is exactly how the fundies want their god to be).

It's one thing I find so liberating about all the Asian "religious" traditions.  In all of them, YOU are the captain of your own ship.  You choose your own course, you decide when and where to turn, and you are responsible for everything that happens.  There's no Big Daddy in the Sky to watch out for you.  You are entirely on your own.

Here I wonder if, having aptly jettisoned parents floating in the sky, you are not over-valorizing freedom, agency, and the personal self.  

After all, another tradition of the East, particularly Buddhist and Zen Buddhist traditions, is to underscore the illusory nature of the personal ego, and to attempt to experience (however briefly) its dissolution.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,16:17   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,08:48)
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,08:38)
 
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,08:27)
I'd really like to know what framework you work from because, as you said, it alludes me.

I know it does.  And there's nothing I can do about that.

Whether you see it or not is entirely up to you.

There's nothing you can do about because you choose not to?

Or am I so inferior that there's no hope?

Or there is no real answer?...

Because there is something else. The dichotomies you propose are not necessarily dichotomies to all others. Many of the reasons you defend your god are the same kind of dichotomies.

You might want to question your either-or's if you are looking for a clearer view of the tao :) . It isn't always where you look for it. And it has no more intrinsic value than not finding it.

How do I have this special knowledge? Ahhh. That too is less interesting than you might suppose.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,16:41   

I will try to illustrate what I mean, Skeptic, as clearly as I am able.

You say:

>There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe.  >There are no other alternatives to that question


But my dear Skeptic, there *is* indeed a third alternative answer to that question.  It goes, " Who the #### cares?"

I am not being flippant.  I assure you I am utterly serious.

To both you and Russell (using you both as convenient stand-ins for the two competing sides of the argument), the question "is there something outside the universe" has enormous import precisely because it answers the question (or at least you both THINK it answers the question) "who has religious authority, and who doesn't?"  Or, if you prefer, "whose religious opinions are correct, and whose aren't?" -- the same question, since both you and Russell (metaphorically) accept the same suite of religious authorities, though one of you asserts them and the other one denies them.  And that indeed is the entire framework within which you and Russell (metaphorically) are arguing.

To people who don't assert or accept any "religious authority" outside of themselves (and in particular those who don't accept the Biblically-centered version of authority that both you and Russell *do* accept), however, the question itself is utterly and completely meaningless, as are all of the arguments over it and its implications.  It has no import at all.  It simply makes no difference.

And to you, for whom that question is absolutely vital, the very idea that it might be entirely beside the point, is, quite literally, inconceivable.  After all, as you yourself so aptly put it, in your view, there *can be* only two options --- either for you, or against you.  Ditto for Russell.  And what both of you do, is argue back and forth over whether the answer is indeed for you, or against you.

Any view in which that answer is simply irrelevant, though, is a crashing source of incredible befuddlement to both of you.  Which is why neither of you are able to understand the third way (the way of all the non-fundie non-authoritative religions).  It quite literally lies outside the conceptual framework that you both accept.

That has nothing to do with being "stupid" or "simple-minded".  It is a matter of perception.  If you allow only two possibilities, then you simply *cannot see* a third.  And no one else can MAKE you see it.  You have to do that yourself.  (shrug)

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,16:45   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 06 2007,09:25)
Here I wonder if, having aptly jettisoned parents floating in the sky, you are not over-valorizing freedom, agency, and the personal self.

Not at all.  To blithely assume that one has complete and total control of one's self is an illusion, just as is assuming that the world around you controls you.

Trying to make your own path while oblivious of what's around you, is liking driving a car without knowing the traffic laws.  Sooner or later, you'll run into something.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,16:58   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Jan. 06 2007,09:25)
After all, another tradition of the East, particularly Buddhist and Zen Buddhist traditions, is to underscore the illusory nature of the personal ego, and to attempt to experience (however briefly) its dissolution.

Indeed.  More than that, one must also then give up the traditions that got you there, since they too are just fingers pointing at the moon, not the moon itself.  The whole point of the Way, is to *have* no Way.   :)

I should point out here that I'm not making any attempt to "preach" Taoism or Buddhism (since neither Taoism nor Buddhism actually  *teaches*  anything, it would be rather a difficult task to preach it to anyone.)  But they are the traditions with which I am most familiar, so it's easiest for me to use them as illustrations.  The same principles, though, apply to ANY non-authoritarian religion, including most Christians, Jews, Muslims, or whatever.

As I said before, the dividing line isn't really between "theists" and "atheists" --- it's between "those who accept external religious authority"  and "those who don't".

"Those who do" will simply never understand "those who don't", unless they look at it from outside their own authoritarian framework.

And, as we can see, that's not very easy for them to do.  Indeed, most never do.

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Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,17:09   

Lenny:
I'll thank you to find a different stand-in for Skeptic's opposite number, because:

where you say:  
Quote
[to Russell] the question "is there something outside the universe" has enormous import
I say: the question is meaningless.

where you say:  
Quote
you both THINK it answers the question) "who has religious authority, and who doesn't?"
I say: (1) the answer to a meaningless question can't answer anything, and (2) the only way anybody gets "religious authority" over anybody else is by the faithfuls' granting of it.

where you say:  
Quote
the Biblically-centered version of authority that both you and Russell *do* accept
I say: What the he11 are you smoking? And where can I get some?

where you say:  
Quote
Any view in which that answer is simply irrelevant, though, is a crashing source of incredible befuddlement to both of you
I say: where the he11 did you get that idea?

I hate to say it, but other than afdave, I can't recall anyone else so unabashed about telling me, or worse, everyone else, what I think, nor so unabashed about declaring their spiritual loftiness: he with his childlike superstition, you with your (shrug) cosmic transcendence of all the silly questions smaller minds waste time on. Even if they actually don't.

Again, I have no desire to derail this thread. Which is why I suggested you cool it in the first place. And I'm perfectly happy to leave it at that. Just have the humility to recognize that there is maybe at least a formal possibility that you don't know what I think.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,17:09   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,08:41)
The next question, the one I think Lenny is getting at, is whether or not there is any interaction between the two spheres.

Nope, that is not anywhere near the question I am getting at.  Not even remotely close.

You are still stuck firmly in your authoritarian framework.  And I simply have no way whatsoever to get you out of it.

All I can do to respond to this is point out that I simply don't see any "two spheres".   I see no division between them.  Everything I see, is all the same "sphere".

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Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,17:13   

Re "There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe. "

I wish people would state which definition of "universe" they're using when making statements like that one.

The literal meaning of "universe" is simply all that is, in which case anything that is, is part of it, by definition, including any Gods.

But most sentences about "universe" seem to use it to mean "the space (or space-time) in which we live", but quite often appear to confuse that meaning with the previously mentioned literal meaning, which makes it hard for me to figure out what the person is saying.

Henry

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,17:20   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 06 2007,17:09)
I'll thank you to find a different stand-in for Skeptic's opposite number

But you make such a GOOD one.   After all, you have no more idea what I'm talking about than HE does.

;)


But OK, from now on, Skeptic's Opposite Number shall be called . . . .  well . . . . Skeptic's Opposite Number.


But then, there really is nothing further to say, anyway.  Until Skeptic and His Opposite Number are able to leave the "external authority" framework that they both accept and argue within, nothing I say will make any sense (literally) to either of them.

As for Scary, my most sincere advice to him would be:  stop looking for external sources and external validation, and just look inside.  Everything you're looking for, is there.

;)

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,17:38   

Quote (Henry J @ Jan. 06 2007,17:13)
The literal meaning of "universe" is simply all that is, in which case anything that is, is part of it, by definition, including any Gods.

That is something the fundies DEFINITELY do not want to hear . . .


;)

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2007,17:42   

Quote (Henry J @ Jan. 06 2007,17:13)
But most sentences about "universe" seem to use it to mean "the space (or space-time) in which we live"

Which, of course, leaves out the "multiverse", or other spacetimes which are not part of ours.

;)

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Malum Regnat



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,03:17   

Quote (Henry J @ Jan. 06 2007,15:13)
Re "There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe. "

I wish people would state which definition of "universe" they're using when making statements like that one.

The literal meaning of "universe" is simply all that is, in which case anything that is, is part of it, by definition, including any Gods.

But most sentences about "universe" seem to use it to mean "the space (or space-time) in which we live", but quite often appear to confuse that meaning with the previously mentioned literal meaning, which makes it hard for me to figure out what the person is saying.

Henry

I try to avoid that confusion by using the term 'this universe' when I'm speaking of "the space (or space-time) in which we live".

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,10:57   

Quote
Third, I don’t know that the Bible teaches the soul can survive without the body.  The picture we are presented with of the resurrected Jesus in the Bible is of a very literal, physical body.  He ate, drank, walked and talked with others.  He made it a point to demonstrate he was physical rather than a ghost.

Later Paul, some 30 years after Jesus’ death, had to reassure Christians that they would have a new body, just as Jesus had a new body, even if they had died.
Now, I have a question. Well, two questions.
First of all, do you allow for the possibility that the bible can be wrong in any particular? Or would you say that wherever it appears to be wrong, that must mean it's being incorrectly read? (e.g. something meant metaphorically being read literally).
Then second, if one rejects the notion that one's "soul"* survives the death of one's body, and if one rejects the idea of transmigrating to a new body, can one - by your understanding of the term - be a "Christian"*?

*I guess a simple yes/no answer to this question is possible. However, it may require an explicit definition of the terms "soul" and "Christian".

Quote
[Russell:] I could see how Jesus's helpful hints for harmonious well-being (individually and socially) were all points well taken. But it was continuously emphasized to me that this was all integrally connected with a whole suite of supernatural wonders (like Jesus had no human father, could go head-to-head with The Amazing Kreskin with magic tricks, not only revivified but became immortal, that I myself and other true believers would also be immortal...)  None of that ever seemed credible, to the extent that I could even figure out what they even meant by it.
Quote
[Rev. Dr.:] As noted, there are indeed Christian churches who neither assert nor accept **any** of these things.
In a quick scan of previous posts, I don't see a list of such churches. I imagine the Unitarian/Universalists would qualify, and maybe they - or a subset of them - consider themselves "Christian". But I was under the impression that nearly all people who call themselves Christian do subscribe to some, if not most, of these beliefs - the whole "afterlife" thing being central.

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Ved



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,11:29   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,18:42)
 
Quote (Henry J @ Jan. 06 2007,17:13)
But most sentences about "universe" seem to use it to mean "the space (or space-time) in which we live"

Which, of course, leaves out the "multiverse", or other spacetimes which are not part of ours.

;)

Not the multiverse???!!!

The Multiverse ... The Multiverse ... The Multiverse!

Anyone who would make it the subject of a song, is cool.

Voivod rules!

  
curious



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,11:38   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 07 2007,10:57)
*I guess a simple yes/no answer to this question is possible. However, it may require an explicit definition of the terms "soul" and "Christian".


Given the word's long history, I doubt you'll be able to nail down an explicit definition.

Case in point: I have heard from one of my philosophy teachers (alas, he knows Greek, both ancient and some Septuagint, and I do not), that the Greek word for "soul" 'psuche' is only used in the gospels and no where else in the bible. However, this is the same word, used quite a bit before, by Plato (esp. in the Phaedo and Republic) in his theory of forms/soul. This helps crystallize the notion that soul and body is more of a fabrication from Plato, rather than matthew, mark, luke or john.

*edit: I suppose even Christianity is just a footnote to Plato :) *

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,11:42   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 07 2007,11:57)
Now, I have a question. Well, two questions.
First of all, do you allow for the possibility that the bible can be wrong in any particular? Or would you say that wherever it appears to be wrong, that must mean it's being incorrectly read? (e.g. something meant metaphorically being read literally).


Not only can the Bible be factually wrong, it’s demonstrably factually wrong—and in ways that are tough to attribute to scribal or translation errors.  This is by far not the bulk of the Bible, but if one believes the autographs were inerrant the least contradiction with fact would negate the whole.

Since I don’t accept the “God dictated” version of belief I am able to admit problematic passages but still accept the whole as reliable.


 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 07 2007,11:57)
Then second, if one rejects the notion that one's "soul"* survives the death of one's body, and if one rejects the idea of transmigrating to a new body, can one - by your understanding of the term - be a "Christian"*?


There are various definitions (in my mind) of “Christian.”  I don’t define it for anyone else, and I’m not in a place to make a judgment on whether someone fits that description unless I know what definition they claim to subscribe to.  Here are the definitions as I see it:

Philosophical Christians:  Those who agree with living the philosophy represented by Jesus and the Christian tradition.  They may or may not accept Jesus’ divinity, resurrection or any afterlife.   They still consider themselves followers of Christ.

Naturalist Christians:  They not only subscribe to the philosophy of Christianity, but they believe in Jesus’ death as atonement for sin.  They don’t, however, necessarily subscribe to any of the seemingly supernatural accounts found in the Bible.  They may or may not believe in some kind of afterlife.

Supernaturalist Christians:  They believe in at least some if not all of the miracles presented in the Bible.  They consider the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Christ as true and the basis of their faith.  They believe in an afterlife.  Most would consider Christianity as the “one true religion.”  Most would accept the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and personal salvation.

Literalist Christians:  Believe the autographs were god dictated.  Literalism is the one true faith and the Bible contains non-negotiable rules for living and salvation.  This includes believing in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, personal salvation, an unseen world of angels and demons and God’s direct, daily interaction with man.

I think what you describe would be a person who fits into the first group.  Under these definitions I would fit into the third group, though I wish I could come up with a better name.


 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 07 2007,11:57)
*I guess a simple yes/no answer to this question is possible. However, it may require an explicit definition of the terms "soul" and "Christian".


The meaning of soul has been debated for centuries.  I don’t think I would do any better at defining it, though in my thinking I typically use the word to mean “consciousness” or “our true self”—the thing that makes us more than bags of meat.

   
Quote
[Russell:] I could see how Jesus's helpful hints for harmonious well-being (individually and socially) were all points well taken. But it was continuously emphasized to me that this was all integrally connected with a whole suite of supernatural wonders (like Jesus had no human father, could go head-to-head with The Amazing Kreskin with magic tricks, not only revivified but became immortal, that I myself and other true believers would also be immortal...)  None of that ever seemed credible, to the extent that I could even figure out what they even meant by it.    
Quote
[Rev. Dr.:] As noted, there are indeed Christian churches who neither assert nor accept **any** of these things.
In a quick scan of previous posts, I don't see a list of such churches. I imagine the Unitarian/Universalists would qualify, and maybe they - or a subset of them - consider themselves "Christian". But I was under the impression that nearly all people who call themselves Christian do subscribe to some, if not most, of these beliefs - the whole "afterlife" thing being central.

 
I would certainly agree that MOST people who consider themselves Christian—and certainly those who attend an organized church—would consider most of these non-negotiable.

   
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,13:57   

Just back from visiting familly and a tad drunk. I have not read many posts on here so please forgive my ignorance. I will try to read them all tomorrow.

But...I have missed posting here and would like to rejoin.

I considered myself to be a Christian but now I am not so sure. It was pointed out to me here, PT and other blogs that I am not. After some consideration, maybe they are right.

I do like some Christian teachings and yet there are things that are taught as "Christian" that I deplore. In the end I guess that I do not know anything.

The rantings of some evangelistic atheists disturbs me. I doubt that anything good will come from a "war on religion".

But in the same vein, certainty about religious points of view from the religious also worries me. I guess I dislike fundamentalism on any side. I doubt it is possible to know for certain if God is true or a complete lie. If God is true, I doubt we can possibly know God's plan in fine detail.

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,14:54   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 07 2007,14:57)
Just back from visiting familly and a tad drunk.

Most of us find our families more tolerable slightly inebriated.
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 07 2007,14:57)
I considered myself to be a Christian but now I am not so sure. It was pointed out to me here, PT and other blogs that I am not. After some consideration, maybe they are right.

Did you fit into any of the categories I noted above?  In the broadest sense “Christian” simply means someone who follows the example and/or teachings of Christ.

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,16:40   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,06:07)
Quote (BWE @ Jan. 05 2007,18:27)
There is not only no evidence for any religion but there is contraverting evidence.


Good post, BWE.

I (obviously) disagree that we have no evidence.  While I know I am going out on a limb here, there is no doubt in my mind that I personally have experienced “coincidences” so often as to be beyond a reasonable doubt.  (I still have to start writing those things up, and I think you may not agree once I do, but I do believe most rational people will at least see why I  say it is evidence.)

Is it hearsay?   Technically, I suppose, but that does not negate its value.

By the way…you wrote up a really cool view of life and death for you back a month or two ago.  I couldn’t remember what thread it was on, but if you know where it is, it might be good to post it again on this thread.  I felt it was well written and clearly presented your beliefs.

Quote (BWE @ Oct. 19 2006,13:12)
 
Quote

   
Quote (afdave @ Oct. 19 2006,12:31)
So tell me, O wise BWE ... what original thought have YOU had regarding Origins?  Have I been mistaken all this time?  I thought Darwin was the start of all these modern Evolution ideas and I thought it Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web at CERN.  Silly me!  All this time I should have known ... It was BWE and Al Gore!

Well,
So glad you asked. Let me start at the beginning. I was born a poor black child... Um. Wrong one. Let's see. Oh yes, here it is. Ok. I grew up without the yoke of religion holding me down... No, that's not it either.

I was fettered with the constraints of having a botany professor for a mother and a history professor for a father so my outlook was necessarily skewed by my upbringing. I did however manage to read a bit and then I went to college and learned to understand a few things there. I'm not sure that I have many original thoughts regarding origins in terms of evidence. I have done some science, read the Bible(s) several times as well as many other creation myths, and I also have some knowledge of some other civilizations and histories, but I am not sure that anyone has ever put forth any conclusive evidence of the origin of the first life.

I can see the similarities between creation myths and can understand that they are attempts to explain what the authors did not understand. I can also catalog the phenomena that the authors did not understand and the supernatural explanations given for these phenomena. A partial list:* gravity –god, * geologic processes –god, * relativity or the absence of a reference point –god, * light speed and the implications of telescopes –god, * climate –god, * dna –god, * the Americas –ummm, * the size and age of the cosmos –god.

These phenomena are now partially understood by applying the scientific method to them. What's more, the science is accessible to anyone willing and able to repeat the experiments. If you were to repeat the experiments, you should get the same results. And, strangely, none of them end up needing anything specific from god. As Carl Sagan said "We grow up in isolation. We need to teach ourselves the cosmos."


I have repeated some experiments and sometimes achieved different results. In college, this was extraordinarily frustrating because my professors made me figure out why. I had to do things over and over and over and over until I could isolate the variables and produce repeatable results. By the time I was trying to figure out how a certain kind of starfish could do one thing sometimes and another thing another time in what looked like identical circumstances, I had enough background in methodology and sometimes just plain information that I wasn't making assumptions like "Maybe it's doing this because it is only 6000 years old." or "Maybe Earth is only 6000 years old." Natural selection was a central tenet to my research. If it weren't, I would not have been able to do any of it. And, what's more, if it wasn't accurate at least to a large degree, then I would have not been able to reproduce results at all.

The funny thing is that I never needed to consider the origin of the first life. As far as I am aware, no biologist does. All I needed to understand was the mechanism for adaptation. But when I consider religious explanations for origins, I get a very different picture. Have you read Gilgamesh? Do you know whether it predates the Torah?

Religious explanations all do something peculiar. They elevate “Man” to an honorary title. They separate us from the rest of the creatures as somehow different. “Tool Using”, “Speech”, ability to “Reason” or “Love”, ability to “Farm””. It turns out that we have no such monopoly. Our presumed distinctions turn out to be just that-presumed. Our distinction turns out to be the ability to plan . We have the ability to employ past observation in the present for a future intent. Not simply storing nuts for the winter but setting aside a weapon near a tree where I will eventually provoke an argument with my rival- that kind of intent. Man employs the dimension of time . We can sense the present as space to be aware of time past and time to come. The employment of time as a dimension is what opened up all that we are today-including religion.

Although memory and planning certainly exist in other species besides man, man’s memory of his past can be evaluated, now for future ends such as whacking his rival with a club unexpectedly. There is the element of surprise, the element of planning the place and the element of being prepared. Different.

But using time as a dimension differs from using space. We do not occupy the dimension of time with our physical bodies.  We need to imagine it. We occupy the space with our minds. We make images of past events, use reason to evaluate them and try to construct images of future space. This talent feeds itself by including the ability to store information for [i]evaluation[\i] purposes. Leads to skins for clothes then houses then better materials then better objects from those materials then better materials and etc. Technology.

The downside is that we become aware that we will die. At first, it is terrifying. But, after consideration, we realize that we can see beyond death in our time dimension we occupy so we conclude that that part of us that can employ that dimension will not die. Then we further conclude that the same is true for our friends and loved ones and because we all share sort of the same world in that time dimension we will probably occupy it together when our bodies die. Voila!
Religion. Nothing wrong with the hypothesis, it is just hard to test. So all we have are guesses. And if the nature of those guesses force us to ignore evidence for how the world really works, we are all the poorer for it. Any religion which seeks the disproval of information had better use honest tactics in its effort or risk looking like you. And fundies of all religions.

But Dave, these aren’t my ideas. I am paraphrasing many. Most notably, Philip Wylie, Carl Sagan, Steven Gould, Fritjof Kapra, and Ovid. And what’s more, they are subject to revision in my mind as better evidence or ideas come along.


--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,18:39   

Quote
[SF:] I would fit into the third group
which you described thus:
Quote
Supernaturalist Christians:  They believe in at least some if not all of the miracles presented in the Bible.  They consider the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Christ as true and the basis of their faith.  They believe in an afterlife.  Most would consider Christianity as the “one true religion.”  Most would accept the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and personal salvation.
Now I promise I'm not making fun, or attempting to persuade or unpersuade anyone of anything, and that the following is asked purely out of curiosity, and in the spirit that it's more respectful to try to understand what others think than to be merely "tolerant" as in "who cares what loony things Joe Blow thinks as long as he leaves me out of it?".

This "afterlife": you say it probably requires a body, if I read correctly. A body has to exist somewhere in time and space, I think. So does that imply that "heaven" has a physical location?

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,19:38   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 07 2007,19:39)
This "afterlife": you say it probably requires a body, if I read correctly. A body has to exist somewhere in time and space, I think. So does that imply that "heaven" has a physical location?


Based on the teachings of the New Testament I believe physical bodily resurrection is taught.   I would think this also necessitates a heaven which is a physical location.

But I’m not sure we understand enough yet about the multiverse to know the various plains of existence.  Maybe in order to understand the Bible we also have to study quantum physics.

Maybe someone well versed in QM can comment on what possibilities are out there consistent with nature.  It's possible I am spouting foolish talk.  I don't know.  When it comes to QM i am at the stage of unconcious incompetence--I don't know what I don't know.

   
Malum Regnat



Posts: 98
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,20:33   

Quote
So tell me, O wise BWE ... what original thought have YOU had regarding Origins?  Have I been mistaken all this time?  I thought Darwin was the start of all these modern Evolution ideas and I thought it Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web at CERN.  Silly me!  All this time I should have known ... It was BWE and Al Gore!


Do not confuse the World Wide Web and the Internet.  The Internet started as a US Military research project and it was indeed Al Gore who, as a Senator, made sure the financing was available to grow the Arpanet into the Internet that now supplies the infrastructure for the World Wide Web.

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This universe as explained by the 'other' Hawkins

Blah Hi-tech blah blah blah blah ... DESIGNED.
Blah Hi-tech blah blah blah blah ... NOT DESIGNED.

;-}>

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,21:38   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 07 2007,11:42)
I would certainly agree that MOST people who consider themselves Christian—and certainly those who attend an organized church—would consider most of these non-negotiable

.

Then you need to meet more Christians.

;)

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Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
bystander



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,22:00   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 08 2007,12:38)
Based on the teachings of the New Testament I believe physical bodily resurrection is taught.   I would think this also necessitates a heaven which is a physical location.

I went to a catholic school and we were taught that it was a physical body, that the soul doesn't contain your personality and my reading of the bible seems to agree with this  

Is this true for all demoninations? If so I would have thought that the John Edwards of the world would be blasted from the pulpits, or is it just a case of Christians (You even hear of pastors saying that someone is with God when they die) not knowing their religions.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2007,22:01   

Quote
Then you need to meet more Christians.
I would think that Scary has met quite a few Christians. You think Scary is wrong here about what most Christians believe?  Do you have some data to support the alternative view or are you sharing your personal experience?

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,03:55   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 07 2007,14:54)
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 07 2007,14:57)
Just back from visiting familly and a tad drunk.

Most of us find our families more tolerable slightly inebriated.
 
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 07 2007,14:57)
I considered myself to be a Christian but now I am not so sure. It was pointed out to me here, PT and other blogs that I am not. After some consideration, maybe they are right.

Did you fit into any of the categories I noted above?  In the broadest sense “Christian” simply means someone who follows the example and/or teachings of Christ.

I can't claim to follow the teachings of Christ as I have not elected to live in poverty. Nor do I tithe or atend church regularly (virtually never). Having said that, I do think what I consider to be the central message of the new testament (treat eachother well) is a good idea.

EDIT: I do not require to be inebriated to enjoy the company of family. I just like being inebriated. Almost everyone that I enjoy socialising with is what I would describe as a "happy" drunk.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,10:36   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,18:20)
As for Scary, my most sincere advice to him would be:  stop looking for external sources and external validation, and just look inside.  Everything you're looking for, is there.

While I can be self-deceived, I don’t believe I am seeking external validation any longer.  As a younger man I certainly was—and as a pastor it’s somewhat an occupational hazard to seek not only God’s approval but the approval of the congregation you attempt to entertain each week.

Now I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin.  I would struggle if my family or friends rejected me as somehow not a decent human being, but so far that hasn’t been an issue.  I rarely have any guilt or shame because I typically see myself as living consistent with my own values.

   
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,10:45   

Quote (curious @ Jan. 07 2007,12:38)
I have heard from one of my philosophy teachers (alas, he knows Greek, both ancient and some Septuagint, and I do not), that the Greek word for "soul" 'psuche' is only used in the gospels and no where else in the bible. However, this is the same word, used quite a bit before, by Plato (esp. in the Phaedo and Republic) in his theory of forms/soul. This helps crystallize the notion that soul and body is more of a fabrication from Plato, rather than matthew, mark, luke or john.


Or it could be Plato got it right and the writers of the Gospels had become familiar with the concept.  For your philosophy teacher to say it was “fabricated from Plato” is intentionally putting a “spin” on the use of the word which doesn’t necessarily follow.

   
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,11:01   

Quote (bystander @ Jan. 07 2007,23:00)
If so I would have thought that the John Edwards of the world would be blasted from the pulpits, or is it just a case of Christians (You even hear of pastors saying that someone is with God when they die) not knowing their religions.


A couple of reasons why this stuff happens…

While pastors are typically well versed in theology, when they teach their congregations they are much more likely to preach either practical Christian morality talesn(how to deal with stress, how to love unlovable people, etc.) or popular social issues akin to their particular prejudices (politics, homosexuality, etc.)

I’m confident John Edwards has been railed against by a number of pulpits.

As to putting people with God—I think most pastors are not careful with their words and often revert to “popular” concepts without thinking through the real implications.  People want to believe they go immediately to heaven when they die.

   
curious



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,11:35   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 08 2007,10:45)
     
Quote (curious @ Jan. 07 2007,12:38)
I have heard from one of my philosophy teachers (alas, he knows Greek, both ancient and some Septuagint, and I do not), that the Greek word for "soul" 'psuche' is only used in the gospels and no where else in the bible. However, this is the same word, used quite a bit before, by Plato (esp. in the Phaedo and Republic) in his theory of forms/soul. This helps crystallize the notion that soul and body is more of a fabrication from Plato, rather than matthew, mark, luke or john.


Or it could be Plato got it right and the writers of the Gospels had become familiar with the concept.  For your philosophy teacher to say it was “fabricated from Plato” is intentionally putting a “spin” on the use of the word which doesn’t necessarily follow.

Hum, I guess my post was a bit unclear, but I was meaning to only attribute the strong possibility that Plato's terminology was used in the gospels to my teacher. The latter "fabrication" suggestion is my own, which is something like: 'The concept of a "soul" is historically convoluted and likely did not originate with christ's teachings per-se, but rather a synthesis from Plato's ideas and the very early church'.

Plato was one of the first to view the soul as something completely separate (i.e., an entirely different, non-physical, substance), to which the (physical) body is dependent. You just don't see this notion until the Greek in the new testament. However, Plato's soul concept was a bit more complicated, Plato thought the soul was immortal and when "put" into your material body, the transition makes us "forget" the perfect knowledge of the forms. So the only way to learn anything would be to "recall" our knowledge by dialogue and my recognizing the forms. This is where the substance dualism comes from, the i) realm of the forms/soul and ii) the physical.

So I'm claiming when the gospel uses Plato's conception of the soul, they rip it from Plato's original context and transplant it into the gospel wherein the substance dualism had previously been alien.  

(Anyway... eh, I don't even like Plato (I'm an Aristotle guy). I also might be wrong about the early Christians, not about the greek, but the dualism might have been pushed much more in medieval conceptions of the soul... )

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,12:18   

Quote (curious @ Jan. 08 2007,12:35)

Hum, I guess my post was a bit unclear, but I was meaning to only attribute the strong possibility that Plato's terminology was used in the gospels to my teacher. The latter "fabrication" suggestion is my own, which is something like: 'The concept of a "soul" is historically convoluted and likely did not originate with christ's teachings per-se, but rather a synthesis from Plato's ideas and the very early church'.


I understood your point, and I do believe religious thought is a combination of observation, revelation and imitation.  I don’t doubt some of the early Christians were familiar with Plato and could easily have borrowed from him.

I didn’t think you were wrong, I’m just trying to not use language that is loaded so that we don’t confuse emotional responses with rational thought.  (At least, not too often!)

   
creeky belly



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,12:30   

Scary,

This is probably the best flash example I have for imagining the multiverse/multi dimensions. It took me two or three times to get it.

The tenth dimension

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,12:37   

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 07 2007,17:40)
I can see the similarities between creation myths and can understand that they are attempts to explain what the authors did not understand. I can also catalog the phenomena that the authors did not understand and the supernatural explanations given for these phenomena. A partial list:* gravity –god, * geologic processes –god, * relativity or the absence of a reference point –god, * light speed and the implications of telescopes –god, * climate –god, * dna –god, * the Americas –ummm, * the size and age of the cosmos –god.

These phenomena are now partially understood by applying the scientific method to them. What's more, the science is accessible to anyone willing and able to repeat the experiments. If you were to repeat the experiments, you should get the same results. And, strangely, none of them end up needing anything specific from god. As Carl Sagan said "We grow up in isolation. We need to teach ourselves the cosmos."


BWE this is a great post.

As I mused last week I began considering the idea that God (in the Judeo/Christian sense) may not act supernaturally i.e.: Outside of natural laws.  If you look at some of the “miraculous” passages of scripture, at least some of them are consistent with nature.

In addition in my own experience I have seen what I would consider God’s operation, but it was often accomplished through process with “coincidental” results rather than “miraculous” results.

When the Jews read Genesis 4,000 years ago, did they know a rainbow was caused by light refraction or did they see it as a supernatural event?  All the Bible tells us is God telling man to be reminded of him each time they see a rainbow—not that the rainbow never existed before the flood.

God holds “all things together” (Col 1:17) seems a lot like a reference to gravity.  Would Paul have known that in the first century?  Am I reading more into this than was intended?  Possibly, but Paul is talking about the creation of the natural world.  Gravity is certainly a force involved in the creation and preservation of the universe;

   
argystokes



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 08 2007,12:53   

Quote
God holds “all things together” (Col 1:17) seems a lot like a reference to gravity.  Would Paul have known that in the first century?  Am I reading more into this than was intended?  Possibly, but Paul is talking about the creation of the natural world.

Actually, Paul is talking about the forces that hold atoms together, known as Jebons:

Full story here

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"Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?" -Calvin