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Author Topic: The Mystery of Evangelical Atheists  (Read 11427 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: October 29, 2009, 11:47:33 PM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?


Selam 
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2009, 11:55:27 PM »

Everyone is looking for love, to feel needed and wanted.
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2009, 12:09:38 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then their is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?


Selam 


Ooo! I like the wording.

yes, they are trying to convince themselves.  Or, as D'souza points out, atheism is the opiate of the immoral.
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2009, 12:12:16 AM »

yes, they are trying to convince themselves. 

When I flirted with Atheism some 7, 8 years ago, I remember that it took way more faith to be an Atheist than it does to believe in God.
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2009, 12:18:11 AM »

yes, they are trying to convince themselves. 

When I flirted with Atheism some 7, 8 years ago, I remember that it took way more faith to be an Atheist than it does to believe in God.

As a former Atheist, I agree 110%.
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2009, 12:28:04 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist.

I only know Carl Sagan by his name and a few quotes, but as for folks like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett, I think it's pretty obvious they're opposed to theism because they see it as detrimental to human happiness and progress.

Quote
If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

I think for atheists, the "meaning" in this, or any other endeavor, would be helping others, themselves and the progress of society and the world.  I suppose they would find inherent meaning in this (which I do as well, even though I'm a theist).  I mean, whether I'm designed to or simply evolved to feel this way or not, helping others and the world at large seems to have inherent value- even if the whole universe is going nowhere in particular.  I feel that way even though I think the universe is created by a loving and personal God.  Even if I were to abandon that belief, I don't think I would be a nihilist.  Also, helping others makes us feel good... usually.  We don't realize that a lot, but it's axiomatic that it's hard to hate and be happy at the same time.

Quote
Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

I think this is a somewhat unfair treatment.  While it appears to be true that people who are religious and/or spiritual tend to be happier (though it's difficult to show which way the chain of causation goes), I don't think atheists are destined to be nihilists or that they're destined to depression and dispair.

Quote
But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

I think that Diogenes' point was that there's not an honest man to be found- if by honest, you mean someone who's operating one hundred percent in line with and awareness of their true motives.  And that seems to be what you're implying by saying that atheists are somehow not true to their belief system (since you say it's meaningless and hopeless).  Show me a Christian who fits that bill!  I don't mean that to sound like a challenge, but let's not cast stones.  I'm sure there are very self-aware, honest Christians, but I'm also sure that I'm a ball of confusion and I'm sure that my motives are often unknown to me and I don't think I'm a rarity in this.

Quote
So what say ye?

So says I.  I understand your frustration with this type of folk.  But, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I guess they're just trying to do the right thing as they understand it, however misguided they may be.  Maybe they're trying to convince themselves, justify their position or sell books, but then I bet a lot of Christians are too.

May God have mercy on us all and me especially who have often had my doubts which I've come to realize are more and more wishing God weren't there so I could have a license to sin and be my own boss.  
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2009, 01:02:08 AM »

Everyone is looking for love, to feel needed and wanted.

No doubt about it.

Whenever I see Richard Dawkins interviewed or lecturing, I sense that this man has never truly experienced love. I have no way of knowing of course.

In full disclosure, let me explain why I started this thread. Earlier tonight my father called me (he is 78 years old and in very poor health) and started raving about a "great book" he just finished reading. He said that any rational thinking person would love this book. The book was "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.

My Father is basically an agnostic who leans towards theism. I say this because he must have told me a thousand times, "I pray for you. My prayers probably don't get higher than the ceiling, and I don't know who or what I'm praying to, but I pray for you."

OK, this is getting hard to write. I love my father so much, and he is such a decent man and I know he loves me. I don't want to speak ill of him. None of us are perfect. He has always prided himself on his intellect, and yet all the books he reads are from the same point of view. He is essentially a brainwashed genius.

Years ago we used to argue terribly about religion and politics. I could never match his erudition or compete with his experiences (since he had travelled extensively to every continent). His "checkmate" in our debates was always something like, "You haven't read as much as I have, you've never been anywhere, so how can you be so certain," etc.. So over time I threw myself into the study of philosophy and Christian apologetics. I determined to increase my knowledge to the point where I could out-argue my father. And guess what? I did it! My father hasn't been able to win a debate with me in over a decade. And guess what? He's still not a Christian!

But I can also say that I quit arguing with him years ago. He still tries to bait me from time to time, but I won't allow myself to fall into that trap. I love him too much to waste my time in negative arguments that really come down to a battle of egos. He's my father and he loves me. And I love him too deeply for words.

When he called tonight to tell me about the book, I knew he wasn't trying to start a debate. He's old and frail, although his mind is still 100%. I think he truly respects my knowledge now, and really wants to run ideas by me. And it's tricky, because I have to walk on egg shells so as not to descend into an argument or debate. I have to try to find areas of agreement with him while also finding ways to defend the Truth.

I'm so sorry for rambling on about all of this. I revealed this personal info to basically say that you are absolutely right Gabriel. We are ALL looking for love and acceptance. Like with so many other things, I have sympathy and compassion for professed atheists, but I have little symapathy for atheists like Dawkins who spread their poisonous propaganda to people like my father. My dad is a sincere man who has always claimed to be "searching." So I see people like Dawkins as soulless predators under the manipulation of satanic forces.

Please pray for my father. Please pray for me. Pray for me to be humble, wise, and most of all loving in my words and actions towards my father.

And let us pray for all the atheists as well. They are not the enemy, they are victims of the enemy. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood..."

I doubt if anyone was ever argued into the Kingdom; but I imagine that many have been loved into the Kingdom.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers.


Selam
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2009, 01:29:00 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist.

I only know Carl Sagan by his name and a few quotes, but as for folks like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett, I think it's pretty obvious they're opposed to theism because they see it as detrimental to human happiness and progress.

Quote
If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

I think for atheists, the "meaning" in this, or any other endeavor, would be helping others, themselves and the progress of society and the world.  I suppose they would find inherent meaning in this (which I do as well, even though I'm a theist).  I mean, whether I'm designed to or simply evolved to feel this way or not, helping others and the world at large seems to have inherent value- even if the whole universe is going nowhere in particular.  I feel that way even though I think the universe is created by a loving and personal God.  Even if I were to abandon that belief, I don't think I would be a nihilist.  Also, helping others makes us feel good... usually.  We don't realize that a lot, but it's axiomatic that it's hard to hate and be happy at the same time.

Quote
Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

I think this is a somewhat unfair treatment.  While it appears to be true that people who are religious and/or spiritual tend to be happier (though it's difficult to show which way the chain of causation goes), I don't think atheists are destined to be nihilists or that they're destined to depression and dispair.

Quote
But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

I think that Diogenes' point was that there's not an honest man to be found- if by honest, you mean someone who's operating one hundred percent in line with and awareness of their true motives.  And that seems to be what you're implying by saying that atheists are somehow not true to their belief system (since you say it's meaningless and hopeless).  Show me a Christian who fits that bill!  I don't mean that to sound like a challenge, but let's not cast stones.  I'm sure there are very self-aware, honest Christians, but I'm also sure that I'm a ball of confusion and I'm sure that my motives are often unknown to me and I don't think I'm a rarity in this.

Quote
So what say ye?

So says I.  I understand your frustration with this type of folk.  But, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I guess they're just trying to do the right thing as they understand it, however misguided they may be.  Maybe they're trying to convince themselves, justify their position or sell books, but then I bet a lot of Christians are too.

May God have mercy on us all and me especially who have often had my doubts which I've come to realize are more and more wishing God weren't there so I could have a license to sin and be my own boss.  

Thanks for the excellent and well-reasoned points, although I don't quite agree with all of them. You make an interesting point when you say that it is a bit like casting stones for theists to demand that professed atheists live 100% according to their beliefs. I guess the difference is that the basis of Christianity is faith, whereas the ostensible basis of the atheist is reason and evidence. Therefore, Christians live in a constant state of "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief." [St. Mark 9:24]

But atheists like Dawkins assert that their worldview is based solely upon reason and evidence, and therefore is undeniable. In light of the fact that their belief system is not a "belief" system at all, but rather - according to them - a factual reality, then I feel justified in expecting them to live lives consistent with what they claim is such an undeniable truth. Our Christian faith implies the existence of doubts with which we must constantly wrestle. But what do the atheists doubt, since their worldview is based upon facts? And since they claim to have no doubts about their atheism (if they had doubts then they would be agnostic), then I find it odd that they so willingly endure an earthly existence which is much heavier laden with pain than with pleasure.

But I'm with you 100% when you say:
"May God have mercy on us all and me especially who have often had my doubts which I've come to realize are more and more wishing God weren't there so I could have a license to sin and be my own boss."

Amen!


Selam
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2009, 03:49:47 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?


Selam 


I once wondered the samething, but since got use to it after seeing most of the Atheists I argued with were into some type of Eastern Philosophy, Vampirism, Satanism, Eastern Religion, Judaism.......etc.

So most of the ones I argued with were Religious anyway.......only a few weren't. So I just came to accept the idea that there were very few "real" Atheists in the world, and that most of them were indeed searching for some type of "philosophical", "ritual" or "spiritual" tradition......of some form.

Some of the early greek and Roman "Materialist/naturalist" philosophers who lived before the birth of Christ share some of the same qualities as modern materialists. Even some of the concepts of evolution are seen in some of the early materialists, which tells me that "evolution" is not a modern "scientific" idea, but just another concept that was borrowed from the past and developed......just like the idea of the "atom". Well, it's not exactly the same, but enough common points to tell that modern westerners were reading these people and grabbing ideas from them......which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but we should be honest about it instead of lying and saying that "evolution" is a modern idea that came through science.....it's old.......it's an old idea.

But some of those philosophers were into "religious rituals" as well. Some of them were hedonistic, and some of them were known to mock and scoff at the beliefs of others, and so, at the end of the day, there is nothing new under the sun.

Good Observations  Gebre, although, not all atheists will agree that they are in the nihilistic camp.










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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2009, 03:55:51 AM »

Well, as someone who has been a part time atheist for the last 4 years, I'll throw my two cents in. I apologize if I repeat what has already been said.

Quote
I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

I believe Sagan was an agnostic, not an atheist. But as for Dawkins, Harris, et al., the main reason they seem to be up in arms is that they consider religion to be an obstacle to their goals. They want knowledge to prevail over ignorance, and as they define faith (a definition I disagree with), faith is the epitome of ignorance. They want a bright future for their species, and they would probably say that they were built--by evolution from the bottom up--to want that. Also, one might say that the purpose or meaning they've chosen for their lives is to combat what they consider to be ignorance, hate, etc. That's what fulfills them, however misguided they might be in the pursuit of the elimination of all spirituality.

Quote
Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

Not really. If you really believe that, you're showing a distinct lack of the ability to understand the motives and beliefs of other people. (see Theory of Mind). I noticed, though, when I glanced over the thread, that you might be in a state where you're simply venting a bit on here, which is fine. Or perhaps venting isn't the right word, more like reaching out for support, which is also fine.

Quote
But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions. So what say ye?

Actually, interestingly enough, many of the hedonists that I've looked at believed in God. There were the members of the Cyrenaic school in ancient Greece, for example Aristippus of Cyrene and his son Aristippus the Younger (4th century BCE). And then there were the early gnostic Carpocratians, for example Carpocrates and his son Epiphanes (2nd century CE). (Other personalities who are sometimes identified as hedonists, such as Epicurus and Democritus, weren't really hedonists in my opinion). As for myself, when I was an atheist I was also a hedonist, so you can call off the dogs, you've found your honest man, who followed his atheistic beliefs to what you consider to be their logical conclusion. I personally don't agree with what you're saying, however. If we make our own purpose, we could even consider asceticism to be what gives our life meaning, if that's what floats our boat, and that'd be perfectly fine. Atheism does not automatically lead to hedonism, nor does it automatically lead to nihilism, IMO.

PS. If you've ever wondered what the dryest book in the world is, I found it a couple years ago. It's The Epistemology of the Cyrenaic School by Voula Tsouna.
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2009, 08:46:21 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins)
Dr. Carl Sagan was not an atheist.

are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist.
Could you cite a quote where Dr. Carl Sagan has tried to convince you that God does not exist?



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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2009, 10:14:04 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.
I also frequently wonder about your question.  One can consider militant atheists leaders to be hate group leaders, These two groups share the characteristics of learned hatred/prejudice and the desire for power/peer validation, which is achieved through relational aggression.  Are some of these influential leaders demonically possessed? 
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2009, 11:26:49 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.


You're obviously not even remotely familiar with Carl Sagan's work. Smiley Carl Sagan in fact was NOT an atheist, and professed many, many times, (as has his widow since his death) that he was an agnostic, and not an atheist. If you actually listen to his lectures, and read his books you'll find that in fact Sagan in some sense did believe in "God", even if what he perceived to be "God" was simply not along the lines of dogmas that could be infallibly stated.

 I know certain Evangelical Protestants in America over the years have used Carl Sagan as a target and claimed things about him in an attempt to build a straw man version of Sagan, but the reality is he was not an atheist.  Ann Druyan his widow has often been asked about the "new atheism" that Dawkins and some others push, and she has repeatedly said that Carl would strongly disagree with their approach for many different reasons. Even some of the new atheists you meet in every day life distance themselves from Carl Sagan, and in particular find Sagan's novel Contact a stumbling block because unlike the movie, the book ends with essentially scientific evidence for God's (or a Creator/organizer of some sort) existence.


Quote
Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

Again, you're not describing Carl Sagan in anything you said here. I'm not even sure I'd describe Dawkins in that way exactly. Daniel Dennet, and a few others, like Chris Hitchens, I'd certainly say somewhat accurately fit that description, but the more I read/hear Dawkins, the more I see that some in the religious community have demonized him into someone that really doesn't exist. Sadly this seems to be the "Christian" way going all the back to the early heretics...Arius went from being a misinformed, quite likable guy (I believe some of the fathers talked about how likable of a man he was even though they thought his theology was seriously wrong) to being an evil man bent on destroying the Church of God and an enemy of the Gospel.


With that said, I think the reason people like Dawkins in particular are so outspoken and try to "prove" atheism, is because, at least for Dawkins, he truly believes religion has caused far more evil than good. He truly believes it is religion that is the cause of human tribalism, sectarianism and killing, mass war, slaughter, starvation, power hungry men in the control of the world etc... it's important to also note that many atheists (like Michael Shermer) in fact do NOT agree with his hypothesis that "without religion there would be no 9/11."

The problem we find so upsetting with Dawkins, is that there is some, even a lot of truth in what Dawkins says about religion. that religion and dogmatic statements where we humans KNOW everything about God, and that we just happen to be in that group of people who God revealed himself to, and YOUR NOT...is in fact, in part, true. And this DOES lead to wars, killing in the name of God etc...the problem is that Dawkins is sort of on the borderland between science, history, and philosophy and I believe he confuses all 3 things at times. Again, some atheists have even pointed this out over the last few years, and of course he doesn't see it.

But Dawkins really isn't the nasty, mean individual he's so often made out to be, and seems perfectly willing to sit down and debate, quite respectfully I might add, with religious folks.

Guys like Dennet, and Hitchens I have very little tolerance for, and Dennet in particular really does believe all religious people are just down right stupid...good intentioned, but stupid. Dennet in an interview once said that when he was going in for his bypass surgery, a friend said, "I'll pray for you" and he said to her, "I forgive you"....which I thought was pretty degrading to this woman, but he just did NOT like the idea of someone praying for him because he thought it was silly....but if it was so "silly" then what was to forgive? That raises flags for me because Dennet is just so opposed to even the idea people are praying for him, it does make me wonder if indeed he's simply in denial of his belief. I can't imagine Dawkins though getting worked up over someone praying for him to the point he felt inclined some need to "forgive" them. (Sagan for sure wouldn't because one of his dearest friends, who was at his side when he was dying was a religious friend, though I can't remember the guy's name)

Dennet OTH I don't think would WANT religious friends. For me that's the test...if an atheist has religious friends, then they're probably an "honest atheist" as you said. But if atheists hang only with other atheists, then they've turned it into a "club", group, or shall we say a sect where they are the only group who is "enlightened" while we're all silly superstitious people.

However Carl Sagan doesn't really fit in with any of these guys, and was critical of that style of speaking even when he was still alive.


Quote
But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?

I think that is true of some people....but not all. Having gone back and forth between belief and agnosticism, (flirting with atheism, but in the end I always accepted there was "something", some God at work....or a "force" or whatever....) I don't think it's true of everyone. Honest atheists IMO are indeed hard to find on the street, in every day life, but I do believe they exist. However your qualifications for finding an "honest atheist" will never be met, because in fact most atheists do not believe atheism leads to 24/7 pleasures, or seeking of pleasures. That, IMO is a religious person's understanding of how THEY would act if there was no God. (ie: if I knew there was no God I'd spend my life doing all the stuff I'm not allowed to do now because God says "thou shalt not"...) it's the proverbial concept of tell your kid NOT to get into the cookie jar, and the first thing they'll do is figure out how to sneak a cookie. but don't mention the cookie jar, the the kid basically doesn't care.

For an atheist, the "off limits" of a deity's commands don't exist, so it's basically a non issue, like the kid who knows the cookies are in the jar, but has no "forbidding" from having a cookie. Human nature is just that way. We want most we we think, or we know we simply cannot have. People who actually don't believe in God actually don't act like WE assume WE would act if all of a sudden WE had no limits. It's sort of like the problem St. Paul had with his Churches in Corinth where they thought "freedom in Christ" meant, "hey we have no rules, AWESOME lets do EVERYTHING".....he had to clarify that's not what he meant. Smiley But that's human nature I think.

Atheists don't have these do's and don'ts and so for the most part, they don't care. Now they might be doing things we find sinful, sex outside of marriage etc....but they aren't, for the most part, living heathen lives either. Again, I'm refering to informed atheists, or agnostics who are not simply 'rebelling' like Christian kids in college often do...I'm talking about people who truly either don't believe in God, or who truly, and honestly don't know one way or the other. There are plenty of people who are just in rebellion and so do everything and anything they want, but I would say they are really agnostic or atheist....but that's just me.

Great topic though.....


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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2009, 11:49:37 AM »



In full disclosure, let me explain why I started this thread. Earlier tonight my father called me (he is 78 years old and in very poor health) and started raving about a "great book" he just finished reading. He said that any rational thinking person would love this book. The book was "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.

That seems to be most people's reaction to reading that book for the first time. However it has also been heavily criticized even by fellow atheists for being more of a philosophical work than a scientific one. Fret not, there are good answers to points raised in the book, once people get over the initial shock from reading his arguments. I heard a great lecture about that book titled "the Dawkins delusion" by, I think an anglican priest.....trying googling and see if you can find it.


Quote
My Father is basically an agnostic who leans towards theism. I say this because he must have told me a thousand times, "I pray for you. My prayers probably don't get higher than the ceiling, and I don't know who or what I'm praying to, but I pray for you."

He's hardly an atheist if he's praying for you!


Quote
He has always prided himself on his intellect, and yet all the books he reads are from the same point of view. He is essentially a brainwashed genius.

Years ago we used to argue terribly about religion and politics. I could never match his erudition or compete with his experiences (since he had travelled extensively to every continent). His "checkmate" in our debates was always something like, "You haven't read as much as I have, you've never been anywhere, so how can you be so certain," etc.. So over time I threw myself into the study of philosophy and Christian apologetics. I determined to increase my knowledge to the point where I could out-argue my father. And guess what? I did it! My father hasn't been able to win a debate with me in over a decade. And guess what? He's still not a Christian!


Indeed. It's sad we have to learn the hard way about these issues. debating loved ones over religion always seems to go terribly wrong. I know, I've been there too. In the end, your observation is right, we must LOVE people into Christ's Kingdom, not debate, argue, harrass or anything of that sort. Nothing could be MORE true of our very own family members. I used to have arguments with my father, and still do sometimes over religion. I've found it best to let him ask a question, and then try and answer by saying "well my Church teaches....." and leave it at that. Even admit that your Church "could" be wrong. This might be hard for some Orthodox Christians to do, but I find it has made more headway than any insistence that "we're right darn it!" ever did.





Quote
I'm so sorry for rambling on about all of this. I revealed this personal info to basically say that you are absolutely right Gabriel. We are ALL looking for love and acceptance. Like with so many other things, I have sympathy and compassion for professed atheists, but I have little symapathy for atheists like Dawkins who spread their poisonous propaganda to people like my father. My dad is a sincere man who has always claimed to be "searching." So I see people like Dawkins as soulless predators under the manipulation of satanic forces.

Try giving him some of Sagan's works. Much better, and in fact, Carl Sagan helped lead me back to belief. His widow has a new book about science and the search for God, but I haven't read it yet but it's supposed to be good. Yes, Sagan was a skeptic, but as I said, (and his widow has said) he would never approve of these dogmatic atheists who degrade other people's beliefs. It has been said in fact, that Sagan knew the Bible better than many CHRISTIAN apologists....(he in fact was a student of all religions). I don't think Dawkins is as bad as he's made out to be, but most people dont get over that initial feeling of shock at the things he says because they find him so convincing right off the bat. But in the end, he's just recycling very old arguments, albeit in new ways.

Anyways, I'll try to remember you in my prayers as I'm sure others will to.

In peace, NP



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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2009, 12:10:11 PM »

The overwhelming majority of atheists couldn't care less about religion and only even address the issue when people are trying to shove their gods down their throat. The people you reference are the exception, not the rule, to atheism. Your typical atheist is an average citizen, a scientist, or a university professor who doesn't give two thoughts to metaphysical questions throughout their daily lives; they don't want to hear about religion and they don't want to talk about religion, it's a moot point to them. As for these 'professional atheists', my guess is that their primary motivation is the fact that their books sell so well. Heck, Dawkins has sold over 1.5 million copies of his book; I'd certainly publish an aggressive anti-religion book if I thought it would sell even a quarter as well. Hey, I'd even bite my tongue and write a book on spirituality if I thought I could sell that many copies.

There's no shame in advancing a cause for profit.
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2009, 02:15:37 PM »

The overwhelming majority of atheists couldn't care less about religion

Unfortunately the same can be said of the overwhelming majority of Christians about evangelization.


Quote
and only even address the issue when people are trying to shove their gods down their throat.

Yeah, like those pesky people putting up a Cross in the Mojave desert:
http://www.examiner.com/x-10965-SF-Religion-in-the-News-Examiner~y2009m5d14-Mojave-desert-cross-controversial-case-slated-for-US-Supreme-Court

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_G9opoSsBTm8/SsIkRMTSd0I/AAAAAAAABUg/RD24UiAMZYk/s320/Mojave+Desert+Cross.jpg
There. Now the Republic is safe.

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The people you reference are the exception, not the rule,

Unfortunatley, so is St. Paul.


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to atheism. Your typical atheist is an average citizen, a scientist, or a university professor who doesn't give two thoughts to metaphysical questions throughout their daily lives;

or just a dolt in the herd of independent minds.


Quote
they don't want to hear about religion and they don't want to talk about religion, it's a moot point to them. As for these 'professional atheists', my guess is that their primary motivation is the fact that their books sell so well. Heck, Dawkins has sold over 1.5 million copies of his book; I'd certainly publish an aggressive anti-religion book if I thought it would sell even a quarter as well. Hey, I'd even bite my tongue and write a book on spirituality if I thought I could sell that many copies.

There's no shame in advancing a cause for profit.

Actually there is, but "if there is no God, all things are permitted."
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2009, 02:17:00 PM »

No doubt about it.

Whenever I see Richard Dawkins interviewed or lecturing, I sense that this man has never truly experienced love. I have no way of knowing of course.

In full disclosure, let me explain why I started this thread. Earlier tonight my father called me (he is 78 years old and in very poor health) and started raving about a "great book" he just finished reading. He said that any rational thinking person would love this book. The book was "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.


I am assuming you have never met Prof. Dawkins in person.  I've never been a huge fan of "professional atheists", and sometimes some of his books rub me the wrong way (yet I own at least 5 of them, including his latest 3), but he truly is an incredible man to meet in person.  I've had the opportunity to meet him twice, once this September for his latest book, and in the past when he visited my University's Freethought club years ago.  You can tell he has a zeal for life and what he is doing, and will hardly back down from what he is passionate about.  On top of that, he has a wit like no other, though that is likely more due to him being British than anything else.  Tongue  Atheists will tell you that they have a purpose and meaning to life that no theist could understand.  They live for this world, this tangible world, they look to advance themselves, their knowledge, their friends, their families, etc.  They don't live for another life, another world, but rather to make what is best with what they have in front of them and with what they know.  As GiC said, most atheists and agnostics couldn't care less about religion.  They will fight for the separation of Church and State, and for their protection from religion, but otherwise just look to live their lives.
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« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2009, 02:32:43 PM »

No doubt about it.

Whenever I see Richard Dawkins interviewed or lecturing, I sense that this man has never truly experienced love. I have no way of knowing of course.

In full disclosure, let me explain why I started this thread. Earlier tonight my father called me (he is 78 years old and in very poor health) and started raving about a "great book" he just finished reading. He said that any rational thinking person would love this book. The book was "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.


I am assuming you have never met Prof. Dawkins in person.  I've never been a huge fan of "professional atheists", and sometimes some of his books rub me the wrong way (yet I own at least 5 of them, including his latest 3), but he truly is an incredible man to meet in person.  I've had the opportunity to meet him twice, once this September for his latest book, and in the past when he visited my University's Freethought club years ago.  You can tell he has a zeal for life and what he is doing, and will hardly back down from what he is passionate about.  On top of that, he has a wit like no other, though that is likely more due to him being British than anything else.  Tongue  Atheists will tell you that they have a purpose and meaning to life that no theist could understand.  They live for this world, this tangible world, they look to advance themselves, their knowledge, their friends, their families, etc.  They don't live for another life, another world, but rather to make what is best with what they have in front of them and with what they know.  

And they differ from Stalin how?

Quote
As GiC said, most atheists and agnostics couldn't care less about religion.  They will fight for the separation of Church and State, and for their protection from religion, but otherwise just look to live their lives.
In a democracy in which over half the voters don't vote, I'm not sure this point of yours means much.
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2009, 02:51:04 PM »

And they differ from Stalin how?
And Christians differ from previous theistic mass-murdering Emperors, Kings, and other statesmen how?  When they believe they are in the right, doing God's will, basic human rights no longer matter.

Of course, I don't actually believe all Christians are stark raving mad, but you seem to enjoy absurd and isolated examples.

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In a democracy in which over half the voters don't vote, I'm not sure this point of yours means much.

I'll agree, they are hardly have large, influential lobby groups or special interest groups like various religious organisations.  Though, the very fact that some schools actually flirt with the idea of Intelligent Design being taught in public schools shows the need for it.
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« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2009, 02:59:18 PM »

Like with so many other things, I have sympathy and compassion for professed atheists, but I have little symapathy for atheists like Dawkins who spread their poisonous propaganda to people like my father. My dad is a sincere man who has always claimed to be "searching." So I see people like Dawkins as soulless predators under the manipulation of satanic forces.
I agree.  The men and women, who have made it their "religion" to disprove God, have caused great pain here and in the afterlife.  Remembering your family in my prayers.

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« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2009, 03:58:29 PM »

I'm so sorry for rambling on about all of this. I revealed this personal info to basically say that you are absolutely right Gabriel. We are ALL looking for love and acceptance. Like with so many other things, I have sympathy and compassion for professed atheists, but I have little symapathy for atheists like Dawkins who spread their poisonous propaganda to people like my father. My dad is a sincere man who has always claimed to be "searching." So I see people like Dawkins as soulless predators under the manipulation of satanic forces.

One question for you, Gebre.  You say you have little sympathy for what many call "professional atheists", Prof. Dawkins being one of them.  What about other Christians (Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants, etc.), Muslims, etc., that seek to convert others, even those who share core beliefs, to their personal branch of their faith?  Do you "resent" (sorry, probably not the best word) them too?  Atheists do not believe in hellfire, so they are not intentionally out to "damn" people, they are only out trying to help people and provide them with that they think is the "good news", provide a naturalistic, non-theistic way to life.  Their heart, more often than not, is in the right place.
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« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2009, 05:08:57 PM »

Sagan wasn't an evangelical atheist. Heck, he wasn't even atheist.
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« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2009, 05:25:58 PM »

Sagan wasn't an evangelical atheist. Heck, he wasn't even atheist.

I'd say he was more in line with believing in the "Einsteinian God".
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« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2009, 05:34:57 PM »

I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Selam
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« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2009, 05:42:47 PM »

I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Selam

Well, if you define an Atheist as someone who denies the Abrahamic God, or other "traditional gods", then I might agree that he was an Atheist.  But if you mean in terms of a general higher power, he would likely fall into the category of an agnostic or a sceptic.
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« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2009, 06:05:49 PM »

I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Selam

Well, if you define an Atheist as someone who denies the Abrahamic God, or other "traditional gods", then I might agree that he was an Atheist.  But if you mean in terms of a general higher power, he would likely fall into the category of an agnostic or a sceptic.

You guys know more about Mr. Sagan than I do, but what about his statement above? This hardly sounds like skepticism or agnosticism. His statement is an unambiguous declaration which is presented as an undisputed fact.

Maybe he backed off of this statement later on in life, and moved towards agnosticism?

Selam
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« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2009, 07:05:31 PM »

Is there any chance you know where the quotation came from?  It might be from Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, which I unfortunately do not own, but that is nothing but a guess based on the subject matter.
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« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2009, 08:41:34 PM »

Quote
I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Quote
You guys know more about Mr. Sagan than I do, but what about his statement above? This hardly sounds like skepticism or agnosticism. His statement is an unambiguous declaration which is presented as an undisputed fact.

Maybe he backed off of this statement later on in life, and moved towards agnosticism?

I don't know that much about Mr. Sagan, and I'm still waiting for a couple books of his to arrive here. I also don't know the context of the quote. Because of these two issues, it's hard to know what to make of the statement. However, as long as you aren't thinking of a God associated with the Abrahamic religions, that statement doesn't exclude the possibility of there being a God. I think it leaves open the possibility of certain forms of a pantheistic God, though Christians might object to using the term God in such a case. I also think it leaves open the possibility of certain forms of a deistic God outside the universe that was never involved with the universe after the initial moment of creation. I could be wrong, and I don't accept either of those ideas about God, but I could see how someone else might.
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« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2009, 11:11:04 PM »

Quote
As for these 'professional atheists', my guess is that their primary motivation is the fact that their books sell so well.

I don't know about that. Sure, Richard Dawkins has sold a lot of copies of The God Delusion. And Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens have probably also made a few bucks off their books, though I'm sure less than Dawkins. But after that, it's all downhill. I can't imagine that Dennett, Stenger, Barker, etc. are getting rich off the anti-religion books they're producing. There are dozens of new anti-religion books published every year now, and I'd bet that if you add together the numbers of all those books sold this year, they probably wouldn't equal the total number of The God Delusion that has been sold. In my opinion, if Richard Dawkins had not published The God Delusion in 2006, no one would be talking about "the new atheism" or the other guys covered by that term.

Btw, welcome back  Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2009, 12:36:51 AM »

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As for these 'professional atheists', my guess is that their primary motivation is the fact that their books sell so well.

I don't know about that. Sure, Richard Dawkins has sold a lot of copies of The God Delusion. And Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens have probably also made a few bucks off their books, though I'm sure less than Dawkins. But after that, it's all downhill. I can't imagine that Dennett, Stenger, Barker, etc. are getting rich off the anti-religion books they're producing. There are dozens of new anti-religion books published every year now, and I'd bet that if you add together the numbers of all those books sold this year, they probably wouldn't equal the total number of The God Delusion that has been sold. In my opinion, if Richard Dawkins had not published The God Delusion in 2006, no one would be talking about "the new atheism" or the other guys covered by that term.
Militant atheist’s book sales:
 
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins: 1.5 million copies sold
The End of Faith by Sam Harris: 145,000 copies sold
Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris: 123,000 copies sold
God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens: 58,000 copies sold
Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett: 52,000 copies sold
God: The Failed Hypothesis by Victor Stenger: 60,000 copies sold
I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehta: 99,213,912 copies sold (joke)

These atheists made approx. $2.00/copy sold. IMO, this verifies that Satan is a shrewd bargainer for souls.
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« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2009, 12:50:17 AM »

^^  They should have just wrote a mystery/thriller about Jesus, the mother of his child, and used a painfully elementary writing style; they'd have 80 million+ books sold then eh? Tongue
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« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2009, 12:53:46 AM »

I'll admit, if those numbers are accurate, I'm suprised that Dennett and Stenger have done as well as they have. Having said that, I would still take the bet I mentioned in my last post.
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« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2009, 01:05:44 AM »

I have to admit, I'm surprised Dennett's book did that well too.  Though I agree with what he is going for, I really didn't enjoy the book too much. 

Stenger, on the other hand, I was hoping would have sold more.  I suppose the technical nature cut down on the reading base though.
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« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2009, 02:26:02 AM »

As much as I disagree with the New Atheists (Vox Day calls them "The Four Horsemen of the B*kk*k*lypse), I prefer the "selling books and crafting offensive art" method of evangelism to "put bullet in head or send to Siberia" method...
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« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2009, 02:31:45 AM »

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As much as I disagree with the New Atheists (Vox Day calls them "The Four Horsemen of the B*kk*k*lypse), I prefer the "selling books and crafting offensive art" method of evangelism to "put bullet in head or send to Siberia" method...

Speaking of the latter form of persuasion, it's sort of funny, but in my former atheism, a writer like Solzhenitsyn had a larger impact than people like Harris or Dawkins ever did.
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« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2009, 11:55:06 AM »

Sagan on agnosticism:

Quote
In a 1996 interview with NPR's Talk of the Nation, Sagan said (when asked about religious beliefs): "Where's the evidence? Now, the word God is used to cover a wide variety of very different ideas, ranging maybe from the idea of an outsized light-skinned male with a long white beard who sits in a throne in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow--for which there is no evidence, none at all--to the view of Einstein, of Spinoza, which is essentially that God is the sum total of the laws of nature. And since there are laws of nature ... if that's what you mean by God, then of course there's a God. So everything depends on the definition of God."

The heroine of Sagan's novel Contact (1985) argues for an agnostic perspective concerning God. However, because she also calls herself a Christian (though of the Jesus-not-divine variety, reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson), she is a Christian agnostic.

Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, has gathered some of his lectures on science and religion into a new book, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.
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« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2009, 01:59:35 PM »

And they differ from Stalin how?
And Christians differ from previous theistic mass-murdering Emperors, Kings, and other statesmen how? 

Tell me their explanation for this (Luke 9)
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" F71 55 But He turned and rebuked them, F72 and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." F73 And they went to another village.

Quote
When they believe they are in the right, doing God's will, basic human rights no longer matter.

Without God, all things are possible, and human rights, basic or otherwise, don't exist.  No argument can be made to their existence without recourse to a higher authority.



Quote
Of course, I don't actually believe all Christians are stark raving mad, but you seem to enjoy absurd and isolated examples.

Just the facts that humanists like to sweep under the rug.  I used to tell a good atheist friend of mine, the problem is not that you are moral, the problem is that you don't have a basis to make your fellow atheists moral who don't want to be.


In a democracy in which over half the voters don't vote, I'm not sure this point of yours means much.

I'll agree, they are hardly have large, influential lobby groups or special interest groups like various religious organisations. 

Haven't been to Washington I see.


Quote
Though, the very fact that some schools actually flirt with the idea of Intelligent Design being taught in public schools shows the need for it.

The fact that the Darwinists continue to insist on their dogma being taught as truth surely shows the need for it.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15104.0.html
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« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2009, 02:17:53 PM »

Just the facts that humanists like to sweep under the rug.  I used to tell a good atheist friend of mine, the problem is not that you are moral, the problem is that you don't have a basis to make your fellow atheists moral who don't want to be.
One could always make rational/common-sense arguments for morality.
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« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2009, 02:50:05 PM »

Without God, all things are possible, and human rights, basic or otherwise, don't exist.  No argument can be made to their existence without recourse to a higher authority.
With God, all things are possible.  People will do things that violate all logical sense, in belief of "greater glory".

Humanism does not require a higher authority, yet you see people striving for individual and common good through secular means.

Quote
Just the facts that humanists like to sweep under the rug.  I used to tell a good atheist friend of mine, the problem is not that you are moral, the problem is that you don't have a basis to make your fellow atheists moral who don't want to be.
No one has a basis to make anyone else "moral".  An atheist can choose to be a humanist, or not.  A Christian can choose to follow their Church's/Christs teachings, or they can choose not to.  The only difference is when an Atheist is immoral, they are "godless".  When a Christian is immoral, they are "fallen".

Quote
Haven't been to Washington I see.
Not my favourite place to be.  I've been there before when Clinton and then when Bush were in power.  Though I heard secular rabbling here and there, it was definitely the Jewish and fundamentalist Christian lobbies constantly trying to dictate the government's direction.

Quote
The fact that the Darwinists continue to insist on their dogma being taught as truth surely shows the need for it.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15104.0.html

A sound scientific theory vs a creation myth on part with that of the Hindu, Greco-Romans, etc?  Why not teach The Theogony of Hesiod in science class too?
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« Reply #39 on: October 31, 2009, 04:41:02 PM »

No mistery here.

There once was an angel named Lucifer who attempted to overthrow God using wordplay. He managed to draw to his support one third of the angels of God. This attempt was thwarted by Archangel Michael, who smote Lucifer with the fiery sword and threw him down fron Heaven. Since then Lucifer established himself in Hell and acquired the name Satan. The angels, whome he seduced, became demons.

Even in Hell Lucifer did not stop his attempts to overthrow God. For this purpose he organized the philosophers of Enlightment (who in reality are Illuminati-masons). Those learned folks spoke of bringing Enlightment into masses. In truth this meant that they want to substitute God with the Light one, that is with Luminous, that is with Lucifer.
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« Reply #40 on: October 31, 2009, 05:13:51 PM »

The Illuminati-Masons are at my door.  Wink

(This was posted on Halloween.)
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« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2009, 05:24:48 PM »

Even in Hell Lucifer did not stop his attempts to overthrow God. For this purpose he organized the philosophers of Enlightment (who in reality are Illuminati-masons). Those learned folks spoke of bringing Enlightment into masses. In truth this meant that they want to substitute God with the Light one, that is with Luminous, that is with Lucifer.

laugh  We also provide the world with holy martyrs like Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya; look at our evil plans...   Wooooooo *spooky, cliche ghost noise*

I'm going to have to report back to the Rothschilds, you are onto us and our connection to the Dark Lord of Terror, Diablo.   laugh laugh
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« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2009, 06:34:08 PM »

ialmisry,

Quote
Without God, all things are possible,

I've never really heard for sure, did Dostoevsky actually say that, or is it simply an idea attributed to him? It's an interesting companion to Matt. 19:26. It's sort of like the combination of the verses in Matt. 12:30 and Mark 9:40. I guess you Christians like to have your bases covered! Smiley  Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with all things being possible without God, so long as you don't say "all things are morally permissable without God," which would be incorrect in my opinion.

Quote
and human rights, basic or otherwise, don't exist.  No argument can be made to their existence without recourse to a higher authority.

I don't think there is such a thing as absolute morality. Nonetheless, I believe that morality can be seen as being on a continuum, between very good and very evil. The good things wake us up out of our intellectual, moral and spiritual slumber, while the evil things sink us further into apathy and sleepiness. In that sense, I do believe that some things are good while others are evil, but this is a practical and naturalistic rather than a God-revealed or absolute morality. This morality was not handed down by a God in a revelation to mankind, but has been coded into humanity by nature, and has been figured out by humans as they have developed cultures and societies over thousands and thousands of years. Thus we know that you shouldn't murder, shouldn't steal from others, and so forth.

Now you may not agree with arguments of morality through nature, or morality arrived at through cultural evolution, but I can still make them, and I don't need to rely on a God to do so. What's more, I can still say that some of these moral rules should be enforced on everyone, and I don't need a God to do so. You may argue that I have no absolute or eternal basis for doing this, but that argument only has force if I think I need an absolute or eternal basis, which I don't. Essentially you're just preaching to the Christian choir with your argument that you need a God to have morality.
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« Reply #43 on: October 31, 2009, 06:50:10 PM »

ialmisry,

Quote
Without God, all things are possible,

I've never really heard for sure, did Dostoevsky actually say that, or is it simply an idea attributed to him? It's an interesting companion to Matt. 19:26. It's sort of like the combination of the verses in Matt. 12:30 and Mark 9:40. I guess you Christians like to have your bases covered! Smiley  Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with all things being possible without God, so long as you don't say "all things are morally permissable without God," which would be incorrect in my opinion.

Quote
and human rights, basic or otherwise, don't exist.  No argument can be made to their existence without recourse to a higher authority.

I don't think there is such a thing as absolute morality. Nonetheless, I believe that morality can be seen as being on a continuum, between very good and very evil. The good things wake us up out of our intellectual, moral and spiritual slumber, while the evil things sink us further into apathy and sleepiness. In that sense, I do believe that some things are good while others are evil, but this is a practical and naturalistic rather than a God-revealed or absolute morality. This morality was not handed down by a God in a revelation to mankind, but has been coded into humanity by nature, and has been figured out by humans as they have developed cultures and societies over thousands and thousands of years. Thus we know that you shouldn't murder, shouldn't steal from others, and so forth.

Now you may not agree with arguments of morality through nature, or morality arrived at through cultural evolution, but I can still make them, and I don't need to rely on a God to do so. What's more, I can still say that some of these moral rules should be enforced on everyone, and I don't need a God to do so. You may argue that I have no absolute or eternal basis for doing this, but that argument only has force if I think I need an absolute or eternal basis, which I don't. Essentially you're just preaching to the Christian choir with your argument that you need a God to have morality.

With respect, you can argue anything you want and from whatever basis you want. But so can Charles Manson (who makes some intelligent arguments actually, although in defense of pure evil) or anyone else. The point is that "good" is only intelligible in relation to best. The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Selam   
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« Reply #44 on: October 31, 2009, 06:55:59 PM »

Quote
When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Now that I think about it, I suppose it depends on how you defiine the term objective. If by that word you mean "based on facts" or something along those lines, then I would say that my morality has some degree of objectivity to it. If, on the other hand, you are merely equating the term objective with absolute, then I'd agree that you can't have objective morality without God.

Btw, thank you for saying "with respect". I'm not always the nicest person, and sometimes I go off on people, but generally I value civility and try to remain peaceful.
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« Reply #45 on: October 31, 2009, 07:04:39 PM »

Quote
When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Now that I think about it, I suppose it depends on how you defiine the term objective. If by that word you mean "based on facts" or something along those lines, then I would say that my morality has some degree of objectivity to it. If, on the other hand, you are merely equating the term objective with absolute, then I'd agree that you can't have objective morality without God.

Btw, thank you for saying "with respect". I'm not always the nicest person, and sometimes I go off on people, but generally I value civility and try to remain peaceful.

I always appreciate the class with which you make your arguments. You tend to avoid the Straw Man, which makes your points much more valid than the usual tripe from Dawkins and Hitchens.

I know that I can be offensive sometimes in how I state things. I'm trying to work on that.

Selam
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« Reply #46 on: October 31, 2009, 09:01:11 PM »

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?
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« Reply #47 on: October 31, 2009, 09:20:40 PM »

If, on the other hand, you are merely equating the term objective with absolute, then I'd agree that you can't have objective morality without God.
I know a few Buddhists who might disagree.
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« Reply #48 on: October 31, 2009, 09:47:00 PM »

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

I don't think your sarcasm makes a very good point. You are basically asserting a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Also, most Orthodox Christians do not derive their empathy for their fellow man from the fear of hell or the hope of heaven. They are empathetic toward their fellow human beings because they see in them the image of God, and they intuitively and cognitively recognize the material and spiritual value of the Truth of the Golden Rule.

Selam
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« Reply #49 on: October 31, 2009, 09:51:10 PM »

laugh  We also provide the world with holy martyrs like Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya; look at our evil plans...   Wooooooo *spooky, cliche ghost noise*
No. That is not you, but me who comissioned the icon of Holy Martyr Zoya. You try to stop it. Because you know that to defete Lucifer three things are necessary: The Icon, The Prayer, and The Fiery Sword of Archangel Michael. One thing will be missing - the Antichrist will take over Russia. Thats why you work so hard to prevent The Icon.
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« Reply #50 on: October 31, 2009, 10:54:02 PM »

laugh  We also provide the world with holy martyrs like Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya; look at our evil plans...   Wooooooo *spooky, cliche ghost noise*
No. That is not you, but me who comissioned the icon of Holy Martyr Zoya. You try to stop it. Because you know that to defete Lucifer three things are necessary: The Icon, The Prayer, and The Fiery Sword of Archangel Michael. One thing will be missing - the Antichrist will take over Russia. Thats why you work so hard to prevent The Icon.


Hm.  I thought Lucifer was already defeated with the death and resurrection of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. 

I was totally unaware that He had come again as Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.
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« Reply #51 on: October 31, 2009, 11:22:52 PM »

No. That is not you, but me who comissioned the icon of Holy Martyr Zoya. You try to stop it. Because you know that to defete Lucifer three things are necessary: The Icon, The Prayer, and The Fiery Sword of Archangel Michael. One thing will be missing - the Antichrist will take over Russia. Thats why you work so hard to prevent The Icon.

I don't believe in Lucifer, so I doubt I am working for "him" to try and stop a Hero of the Soviet Union from being canonised (and an icon made of her) in a Church I am not a member of.   Though I do find your cult-like fanaticism, surrounding what seems to just be a built up propaganda piece for the Soviet Union at the time (and nostalgic Russians), quite disturbing.
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« Reply #52 on: October 31, 2009, 11:25:00 PM »

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

I don't think your sarcasm makes a very good point. You are basically asserting a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Also, most Orthodox Christians do not derive their empathy for their fellow man from the fear of hell or the hope of heaven. They are empathetic toward their fellow human beings because they see in them the image of God, and they intuitively and cognitively recognize the material and spiritual value of the Truth of the Golden Rule.

Selam

^^^To get back on point...

Selam
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« Reply #53 on: October 31, 2009, 11:40:31 PM »

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

I don't think your sarcasm makes a very good point. You are basically asserting a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Also, most Orthodox Christians do not derive their empathy for their fellow man from the fear of hell or the hope of heaven. They are empathetic toward their fellow human beings because they see in them the image of God, and they intuitively and cognitively recognize the material and spiritual value of the Truth of the Golden Rule.

Selam

^^^To get back on point...

Selam

But why most you see another human being as an image of God to treat them well?  Within humanism, you just see them as a fellow human being, one worthy of autonomy, someone to to assist in times of need, someone to help progress to greater happiness, someone to nurture emotionally, intellectually, etc.  We are pack/social animals, and in the past we have been extremely tribal, but we are entering into an era where we truly see each other as being human.  It is evolutionary and humbling.  But, where you view someone as unique and worthy of protection as an image of God, a humanist views the same, but based on the person being Homo sapiens sapiens.  I do believe there is a universal morality we both strive for, and though many key things we would agree on, we do separate in some areas about what is "moral" or not, and of course, where this morality is coming from.  You would tend to believe morality is two-fold: 1) Passed down through religion, 2) Naturally instilled into us by God.  I agree that various tenants of many religions provide a great moral guideline, but I would argue that is it not due to God, but rather humanity rationally viewing how we live together and what we need to maintain our survival and our progress.  Therefore, in certain cases, I would view certain outlooks as rather dated and in need of reform.

Edit:  Sorry about editing this Gebre, in case I switched around some things while you were responding.
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« Reply #54 on: November 01, 2009, 12:04:13 AM »

^^Humanists and Orthodox Christians do not share a “universal morality”.  To humanists, morals are situational. Men/women set these standards and personal pleasure is the most valued of these. Orthodox Christians have fixed morals and ethics established by our God. These fixed morals do not change.
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« Reply #55 on: November 01, 2009, 12:06:52 AM »

Some comments to your post below in red.

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

I don't think your sarcasm makes a very good point. You are basically asserting a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Also, most Orthodox Christians do not derive their empathy for their fellow man from the fear of hell or the hope of heaven. They are empathetic toward their fellow human beings because they see in them the image of God, and they intuitively and cognitively recognize the material and spiritual value of the Truth of the Golden Rule.

Selam

^^^To get back on point...

Selam

But why most you see another human being as an image of God to treat them well?  Within humanism, you just see them as a fellow human being, one worthy of autonomy, someone to to assist in times of need OK so far, someone to help progress to greater happiness Now you have a problem, for who defines "happiness?" A crack addict would define happiness as an abundant supply of crack cocaine., someone to nurture emotionally Again, who or what defines and determines "emotional nurture?", intellectually, You may be OK here, but still you must specifically define what you mean by "intellectually."etc.  We are pack/social animals, and in the past we have been extremely tribal, but we are entering into an era where we truly see each other as being human. Really? Abortion is far more accepted today than it was in your so-called "tribal erra."  It is evolutionary and humbling. Evolutionary theory is anything but humbling. It leads to the hubris of humanism, which leads to two extremes: 1) the autonomy of the individual which leads to the oppression of the masses; and 2) the herd instinct which leads to the oppression of the individual   But, where you view someone as unique and worthy of protection as an image of God, a humanist views the same, but based on the person being Homo sapiens sapiens. And yet from a purely biological and rational basis, homosapien life begins at conception; yet the unborn homosapien life has no objective value of worth from a humanist presuppostion.   I do believe there is a universal morality we both strive for, and though many key things we would agree on, we do separate in some areas about what is "moral" or not, and of course, where this morality is coming from. If there is a "universal morality," then only two options exist: 1) the material universe created this morality; or 2) the creator of the universe created this morality. Since the material cannot create the immaterial, then it stands to reason that there is an immaterial Force (God) from which objective morality is derived. You would tend to believe morality is two-fold: 1) Passed down through religion, 2) Naturally instilled into us by God.  I agree that various tenants of many religions provide a great moral guideline, but I would argue that is it not due to God, but rather humanity rationally viewing how we live together and what we need to maintain our survival and our progress.  Therefore, in certain cases, I would view certain outlooks as rather dated and in need of reform. Essentially, you are at this point asserting a pragmatic and utilitarian worldview which is fraught with ethical and moral dilemmas.

Selam
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« Reply #56 on: November 01, 2009, 12:17:58 AM »

To humanists, morals are situational.
I'd disagree with the wording "situational".  I'd rather say organic.  Human society is evolving, and through reason and experience, we develop our view of morality.

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Men/women set these standards and personal pleasure is the most valued of these.
I'd say personal happiness must be valued, but humanism also emphasises "individual participation in the service of humane ideals" which, through through civic duty and benefiting society, will bring about greater happiness for more people.  Humanists are far from being as selfish as you would like to view them.

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Orthodox Christians have fixed morals and ethics established by our God. These fixed morals do not change.
Which I view as a great thing, but I don't believe a religious creed is needed for moral life.  In addition, I believe certain views of morality are antiquated.  Where you would mention we are all "fallen", and that is why certain moral beliefs are not being followed at all or as often; I would think that organic morals are needed and healthier, since we are all human.
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« Reply #57 on: November 01, 2009, 12:33:33 AM »

To humanists, morals are situational.
I'd disagree with the wording "situational".  I'd rather say organic.  Human society is evolving, and through reason and experience, we develop our view of morality.

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Men/women set these standards and personal pleasure is the most valued of these.
I'd say personal happiness must be valued, but humanism also emphasises "individual participation in the service of humane ideals" which, through through civic duty and benefiting society, will bring about greater happiness for more people.  Humanists are far from being as selfish as you would like to view them.

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Orthodox Christians have fixed morals and ethics established by our God. These fixed morals do not change.
Which I view as a great thing, but I don't believe a religious creed is needed for moral life.  In addition, I believe certain views of morality are antiquated.  Where you would mention we are all "fallen", and that is why certain moral beliefs are not being followed at all or as often; I would think that organic morals are needed and healthier, since we are all human.

The humanist idea of "organic morality" is equivalent to a greenhouse effect where everything is in flux, ebb, and flow. "Organic morality" dismisses inhumane atrocities such as the holocaust as merely part of some "organic evolution." But within a materialistic worldview, morality cannot evolve because evolution by definition implies growth and progress towards an objective universal ideal.

Christianity rejects the "cycle of life" theory that attempts to incorporate a spiritual morality within its materialistic framework.

Selam
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« Reply #58 on: November 01, 2009, 01:22:04 AM »

Gebre:

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"Now you have a problem, for who defines "happiness?" A crack addict would define happiness as an abundant supply of crack cocaine"
"Again, who or what defines and determines "emotional nurture?"

Happiness:  People define their own happiness and their goals for progress.  But Humanism also emphasises the awe in the simplicity of our very human existence.  There will be a diverse amount of lifestyles, but we are all still human.  Humans are social animals, and most seek relationships and a yearn to progress and belong.  Enriched, free personal lives encourage us to enrich others lives, with an open mind.

Emotional nurture: People define what they need emotionally.  You look after others' welfare, protect their autonomy and freedoms, do not force indoctrination on them, etc.

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You may be OK here, but still you must specifically define what you mean by "intellectually."
Provide the opportunity to learn and study their interests, free from theistic limitations or intervention.

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Really? Abortion is far more accepted today than it was in your so-called "tribal erra."
I don't completely agree.  You can find anthropological evidence of the knowledge and "acceptance" of abortions in classical times and later, within parts of Europe, in south central and eastern Asia, etc.  Also, this depends on when people view a fetus as becoming human or if it is human from the start.

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Evolutionary theory is anything but humbling.

I'd have to disagree, I find the study of evolution and cosmology to be two of the most humbling fields.  But I suppose for others it might not be.

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It leads to the hubris of humanism, which leads to two extremes: 1) the autonomy of the individual which leads to the oppression of the masses; and 2) the herd instinct which leads to the oppression of the individual
I'd disagree.  I would say humanism would have a much better chance at finding a balance than you give it credit for.  Humanism isn't some 1984 police state, nor is it a state of anarchy.  I would say it could be the same in a religious state, but it would likely only lead to the 2nd extreme.  Either in the form of a theocratic state or a antiquated "Divine Rule" state.

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And yet from a purely biological and rational basis, homosapien life begins at conception; yet the unborn homosapien life has no objective value of worth from a humanist presuppostion.
You are making it sounds like all Humanists are "pro-abortion".  They tend to follow the strain of many liberal Christians.

"For society as a whole, as well as for the children themselves, it is better if every child is a wanted child.  However, abortion is not the best way of avoiding unwanted children, and improved sex education, easily available contraception, and better education and opportunities for young women, can all help to reduce the number of abortions. But as long as abortion is needed as a last resort, most humanists would agree that society should provide safe legal facilities. The alternatives, which would inevitably include illegal abortions, are far worse."  Source

I also don't believe it is such a rational basis.  Science would take into account viability outside of the womb, mental facility, vital organ formation, quality of life if induced, etc. to determine the viability as a person.  I believe instead of spending countless funds on anti-abortion protests and causes, that science (technology and treatments that will allow for a embryo/fetus to survive outside of a womb at a much earlier date and develop properly) and education are keep to reducing abortion numbers.

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If there is a "universal morality," then only two options exist: 1) the material universe created this morality; or 2) the creator of the universe created this morality. Since the material cannot create the immaterial, then it stands to reason that there is an immaterial Force (God) from which objective morality is derived.
I disagree.  I believe without a creator, humanity, as intelligent, social animals, can formulate morality.

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Essentially, you are at this point asserting a pragmatic and utilitarian worldview which is fraught with ethical and moral dilemmas.
Well, I would argue human nature is utilitarian to a degree.  "Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities." would sum it up alright, I suppose.  Source

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The humanist idea of "organic morality" is equivalent to a greenhouse effect where everything is in flux, ebb, and flow. "Organic morality" dismisses inhumane atrocities such as the holocaust as merely part of some "organic evolution." But within a materialistic worldview, morality cannot evolve because evolution by definition implies growth and progress towards an objective universal ideal.
I wouldn't say flux, I would say progressive.  We started off in a primitive state, and we are improving.  Will there be bumps and drops on the way?  Of course, we are human.  Inhumane atrocities such as the holocaust, slavery, etc., are not tossed aside, they are brought to the forefront as examples of what a lack of reason and lack of dignity for our fellow humans leads to.  They are inspirations and lessons to learn from.  It stimulates social evolution.

Also, evolution does that require an objective universal ideal.  Humanity as a species is biologically evolving.  We have no idea what we will be like in several miilions of years, but we are evolving nonetheless to more complex organisms.  Who knows what Homo novus might be like.  Aside from that, I do believe our morality is progressing, even if I am unsure where it might completely lead us.

---

Sorry if this ended up a little messy.  I included both posts and had to pick through my original one.  I doubt we will come to an agreement at the end of this, but it is interesting to see your stance on issues and your views of humanism.  Sometimes people treat humanism as pure moral anarchy, but it is not the case.
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« Reply #59 on: November 01, 2009, 02:35:27 AM »


"For society as a whole, as well as for the children themselves, it is better if every child is a wanted child. 
In America, every baby IS a wanted baby.  The average wait time to adopt a non-family member's child  is over 5 years. There are 6 adoptive families waiting for every available infant. The average wait time to adopt a Down's Syndrome infant is over 18 months.

This was a perfect example of the Humanism personal pleasure standard: "I will chop up my baby into itty bitty bits if I won't personally gain any pleasure from it. Since there is no God but me, I will excuse my selfish and homicidal actions and state that it is better if every child is a wanted child." (me, me, me, its all about me)

Humanists have not progressed out of the preconventional stage of moral development.  This is the stage of moral development of 8-10 year old children. 
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« Reply #60 on: November 01, 2009, 02:48:28 AM »

Come on, ms.hoorah, don't be shy, tell us how you really feel  Smiley

I think many people would identify me as a humanist, though I'm not sure whether that's the case or not. Whatever the case may be, I am primarily pro-life, in spite of the fact that I don't derive my morals from a revelation from God, or even based on attributes I think describe God (e.g. "God is love").
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« Reply #61 on: November 01, 2009, 02:54:23 AM »

Every child a wanted child; every slave a wanted slave; every Jew a wanted Jew...  Roll Eyes


Selam
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« Reply #62 on: November 01, 2009, 03:55:07 AM »


"For society as a whole, as well as for the children themselves, it is better if every child is a wanted child. 
In America, every baby IS a wanted baby.  The average wait time to adopt a non-family member's child  is over 5 years. There are 6 adoptive families waiting for every available infant. The average wait time to adopt a Down's Syndrome infant is over 18 months.
Assist science in finding ways to develop and nurture an embryo/fetus outside of the womb.  Then certain women would have, in their minds, a viable option rather than a) an abortion or b) bringing a child to term [which they would rather avoid, for a host of possible reasons].

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This was a perfect example of the Humanism personal pleasure standard: "I will chop up my baby into itty bitty bits if I won't personally gain any pleasure from it. Since there is no God but me, I will excuse my selfish and homicidal actions and state that it is better if every child is a wanted child." (me, me, me, its all about me)
No, a perfect example of Humanism would be trying to curve unwanted pregnancies and abortions through better sexual education (I went to a publicly funded school, and sex-ed was atrocious), increased information and education about contraception, increasing awareness of those wanting to adopt child and the benefits of it (honestly, you never hear about adoption besides the odd soft news story or a scam), secular counselling, etc.  You are not going to eliminate abortion, whether it is legal or illegal.  Though Humanists place a great deal of importance on quality of life, there are a variety of social and civil factors many will weigh as well.  Humanism, also, isn't monolithic, though many are pro-choice.  Some are against abortion except in extreme (and very rare) cases (rape, incest, mother's life is in danger), others believe that it is a viable option and a right for women. 

It is your faith that causes you to believe a person is formed at the moment of conception, this isn't science, this isn't anything else.  Yet, I do believe it will be science and science alone that will curve abortions (some argue it already has through ultrasounds), since it provides people with options that respect their freedoms, their reasoning, their quality of life, etc.  But of course, who wants that.  We can have individuals who would rather push a religious/philosophical view of what makes a person, trying to bastardise science in the process, and impose it on those who don't support their creed.  That isn't selfish at all... "You must listen to ME, MY God is right, MY Church is right, MY line of thinking is the only correct one, why can't you possibly think like ME?"  Humanism is about informed decisions coupled with options and freedoms, those that will benefit the individual AND humanity (you seem to want to remove the HUMAN [as in HUMANity] factor from Humanism).

I personally hope that abortions are practically eliminated (I know that it will never be completely stopped), but I know that faith, nor laws, nor imposed alien morality, nor badgering the women will do any good.  Science/technology  alone will help, whether it is through greater ultrasound imaging, the ability to eliminate the chances of terrible diseases and disabilities, the ability to extract even an embryo from the womb and have it flourish and grow into healthy child, contraception that allows for 100% protection from pregnancy without permanent procedures, etc.

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Humanists have not progressed out of the preconventional stage of moral development.  This is the stage of moral development of 8-10 year old children. 
I know... who wants a moral system based around reason, protection of individual freedoms and natural rights, the right to a good quality of life, the emphasis on humane and social benefits, values the amazing gifts (science, art, etc) that has propelled our specie forward, and continues to push for the never-ending pursuit of knowledge through observation and experimentation?  Also, how could I forget about all the evil, and hedonistic humanists of the past, who have advanced social justice, human rights, our general quality of life, science (from astrophysics to evolutionary biology and everything in between), and the arts (literature, drama, photography, painting, etc.)?

Humanism is not a synonym for selfishness.  "Social responsibility" is a basic tenet echoed by humanists and humanist organisations worldwide.  There is an understand and a celebration of the the interdependence we share, not only with our fellow humans but with the natural world around us.
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« Reply #63 on: November 01, 2009, 04:12:24 AM »

To humanists, morals are situational.
I'd disagree with the wording "situational".  I'd rather say organic.  Human society is evolving, and through reason and experience, we develop our view of morality.

And one day, as Nietsche noted, we will outgrow morality as we know it altogether.

Men/women set these standards and personal pleasure is the most valued of these.
I'd say personal happiness must be valued, but humanism also emphasises "individual participation in the service of humane ideals" which, through through civic duty and benefiting society, will bring about greater happiness for more people.  Humanists are far from being as selfish as you would like to view them.

Again, the problem is not those humanists who want to conserve and live of the dividends of the moral capital their theist forefathers bequeathed them, but those who want to sqander it (who tend to be on the hedonistic side).  Once spent, the humanists have no means to build those assets up again.




Orthodox Christians have fixed morals and ethics established by our God. These fixed morals do not change.
Which I view as a great thing, but I don't believe a religious creed is needed for moral life.

Stalin agreed with you.  How you going to tell him he's wrong?



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 In addition, I believe certain views of morality are antiquated.  Where you would mention we are all "fallen", and that is why certain moral beliefs are not being followed at all or as often; I would think that organic morals are needed and healthier, since we are all human.

Including Stalin.

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

I don't think your sarcasm makes a very good point. You are basically asserting a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Also, most Orthodox Christians do not derive their empathy for their fellow man from the fear of hell or the hope of heaven. They are empathetic toward their fellow human beings because they see in them the image of God, and they intuitively and cognitively recognize the material and spiritual value of the Truth of the Golden Rule.

Selam

^^^To get back on point...

Selam

But why most you see another human being as an image of God to treat them well?  Within humanism, you just see them as a fellow human being, one worthy of autonomy, someone to to assist in times of need, someone to help progress to greater happiness, someone to nurture emotionally, intellectually, etc. 


Yes, and Mao's great leap forward was a wonderful demonstration of assisting his comrades in times of need and helping his comrades progress to greater happiness, nurturing the masses emotionally (nothing like the high of a Mao rally), and intellectually (the little classes on the Little Red Book was probably the largest education program in history.  The Hundred Flowers Campaign was a wonderful application of autonomy.



We are pack/social animals, and in the past we have been extremely tribal, but we are entering into an era where we truly see each other as being human.  It is evolutionary and humbling.

Yes. The wonders of history ending, as Prof Francis Fukuyama has shown. Roll Eyes



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But, where you view someone as unique and worthy of protection as an image of God, a humanist views the same, but based on the person being Homo sapiens sapiens.


In the survival of the fitest, he's just someone else on the food chain.


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I do believe there is a universal morality we both strive for, and though many key things we would agree on,

And what of those things you and comrades Stalin and Mao disagree on?

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we do separate in some areas about what is "moral" or not, and of course, where this morality is coming from.  You would tend to believe morality is two-fold: 1) Passed down through religion, 2) Naturally instilled into us by God.  I agree that various tenants of many religions provide a great moral guideline, but I would argue that is it not due to God, but rather humanity rationally viewing how we live together and what we need to maintain our survival and our progress. 

...and that's where the Nazis come in....

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Therefore, in certain cases, I would view certain outlooks as rather dated and in need of reform.

So did they.
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« Reply #64 on: November 01, 2009, 04:25:26 AM »

And one day, as Nietsche noted, we will outgrow morality as we know it altogether.
Whole overman argument right?

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Again, the problem is not those humanists who want to conserve and live of the dividends of the moral capital their theist forefathers bequeathed them, but those who want to sqander it (who tend to be on the hedonistic side).  Once spent, the humanists have no means to build those assets up again.
What moral capital of theists?  These ideals stem more from deists than theists, which I would argue, were mostly humanists anyways.

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Stalin agreed with you.  How you going to tell him he's wrong?
He didn't adhere to the need for social responsibility and humane ideals.  And before you say "Stalin believed that, Stalin agreed with you, etc"... he didn't.  He didn't protect the dignity of human life (which he didn't respect, just ask Ukrainians), the right to freedom/autonomy (again, Stalin and communism weren't fans), etc.

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Including Stalin.
He was human?  Yes, I would agree.
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« Reply #65 on: November 01, 2009, 04:29:29 AM »

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and
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empathy for the suffering of others
instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

Not objective.  And Orthodox morality isnt' based on a fear of hell or hope of heaven.
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« Reply #66 on: November 01, 2009, 04:30:15 AM »

If, on the other hand, you are merely equating the term objective with absolute, then I'd agree that you can't have objective morality without God.
I know a few Buddhists who might disagree.

Really? Would at least some buddhists believe that their morality was absolutely correct, then? On what do they base that certainty? Reason? Experience? I'm unfamiliar with Buddhism except for a few introductory books on it.
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« Reply #67 on: November 01, 2009, 04:32:14 AM »

Just the facts that humanists like to sweep under the rug.  I used to tell a good atheist friend of mine, the problem is not that you are moral, the problem is that you don't have a basis to make your fellow atheists moral who don't want to be.
One could always make rational/common-sense arguments for morality.
1) Common sense isn't common. 2) one can't make non-theist arguments for morality which stand up to rational scrutiny.
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« Reply #68 on: November 01, 2009, 04:34:06 AM »

Perhaps if the people here would define how they are using the word objective, that would be of some help. As I said in a previous post, when it comes to my own morality, whether it is objective or not depends on how you define the term. For example, one definition of objective is "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion." Using this definition, my morality would be partly objective, but not fully, as I rely on facts but also am influenced by subjective experience. On the other hand, if people are using the term objective as merely a synonym for divinely-inspired, then certainly I wouldn't claim that my morality is objective.
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« Reply #69 on: November 01, 2009, 04:46:14 AM »

Without God, all things are possible, and human rights, basic or otherwise, don't exist.  No argument can be made to their existence without recourse to a higher authority.
With God, all things are possible.  People will do things that violate all logical sense, in belief of "greater glory".

And, as I've shown with St. Luke's quote, such people violate all Christian values.  To do something for "greater glory" you have to get rid of absolutes first, which humanism has done.  As someone pointed out, it merely takes a week or two of post-Christian society to match the work of the centuries old Inquisition (leaving aside its connection to the "enlightenment").


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Humanism does not require a higher authority,

yes, so it claims.  Of course, humanists like Mao and Stalin have no use for a higher authority.

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yet you see people striving for individual and common good through secular means.


http://geopolicraticus.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/destroy_old_world.jpg

Just the facts that humanists like to sweep under the rug.  I used to tell a good atheist friend of mine, the problem is not that you are moral, the problem is that you don't have a basis to make your fellow atheists moral who don't want to be.
No one has a basis to make anyone else "moral".  An atheist can choose to be a humanist, or not.  A Christian can choose to follow their Church's/Christs teachings, or they can choose not to.  The only difference is when an Atheist is immoral, they are "godless".  When a Christian is immoral, they are "fallen".

The only difference is that when a Christian is immoral, they can be shown the standard (e.g. St. Luke 9 above).
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24104.msg370232.html#msg370232

Haven't been to Washington I see.
Not my favourite place to be.  I've been there before when Clinton and then when Bush were in power.  Though I heard secular rabbling here and there, it was definitely the Jewish and fundamentalist Christian lobbies constantly trying to dictate the government's direction.

It has been years since I worked there in the former height  of the Democrats, back in the days of the ACLU, NAMBLA (where I first was made aware of this organization, through its lobbyist), the Nuclear Freeze, NARAL etc.  Did Newt do away with these so much.....?


The fact that the Darwinists continue to insist on their dogma being taught as truth surely shows the need for it.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15104.0.html

A sound scientific theory vs a creation myth on part with that of the Hindu, Greco-Romans, etc?  Why not teach The Theogony of Hesiod in science class too?

The Theogony has more in common with Darwin than Genesis, so I'm not sure of your point.
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« Reply #70 on: November 01, 2009, 05:00:31 AM »

ialmisry,

Quote
Without God, all things are possible,

I've never really heard for sure, did Dostoevsky actually say that, or is it simply an idea attributed to him? It's an interesting companion to Matt. 19:26. It's sort of like the combination of the verses in Matt. 12:30 and Mark 9:40. I guess you Christians like to have your bases covered! Smiley  Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with all things being possible without God, so long as you don't say "all things are morally permissable without God," which would be incorrect in my opinion.

The Russian is Если Бога нет, то всё дозволено.

And it is incorrect only because there is a God. The God.

Quote
and human rights, basic or otherwise, don't exist.  No argument can be made to their existence without recourse to a higher authority.

Quote
I don't think there is such a thing as absolute morality. Nonetheless, I believe that morality can be seen as being on a continuum, between very good and very evil. The good things wake us up out of our intellectual, moral and spiritual slumber, while the evil things sink us further into apathy and sleepiness. In that sense, I do believe that some things are good while others are evil, but this is a practical and naturalistic rather than a God-revealed or absolute morality.


And therefore all well fine and good for you, but Comrade Stalin and Comrade Mao have other ideas.


Quote
This morality was not handed down by a God in a revelation to mankind, but has been coded into humanity by nature, and has been figured out by humans as they have developed cultures and societies over thousands and thousands of years. Thus we know that you shouldn't murder, shouldn't steal from others, and so forth.


Survival of the fitest.  Murdering and steling play their part.

Quote
Now you may not agree with arguments of morality through nature, or morality arrived at through cultural evolution,


My agreement or disagreement are of no relevance.  That's the prolem with humanism.

Quote
but I can still make them, and I don't need to rely on a God to do so.


You don't have to take gravity into account when you design a house, but there are consequences....

Quote
What's more, I can still say that some of these moral rules should be enforced on everyone, and I don't need a God to do so.


You can say anything you like.  Who is obligated to listen?

Quote
You may argue that I have no absolute or eternal basis for doing this, but that argument only has force if I think I need an absolute or eternal basis, which I don't.

LOL.  Relativism blows open wide that hole through which Comrade Stain and Comrade Mao (not to mention der Fuehrer) pass their divisions.



Quote
Essentially you're just preaching to the Christian choir with your argument that you need a God to have morality.

Besides the intrinsic value of warning the choir of wolves, anyoe can make a statement that they do not need anything.   You can state you do not need food.  the proof is 6 months done the road....
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« Reply #71 on: November 01, 2009, 05:14:11 AM »

Quote
Survival of the fitest.  Murdering and steling play their part.

Actually it's survival of those best able to pass on their genes. I've already done my part, but peaceful coexistence with other humans increases the chances that my daughters will live long enough to reproduce. So far from encouraging murdering and stealing, darwinian evolution--whether God-driven or not--encourages things like not murdering, not stealing, etc. Not that it willfully encourages it, of course.

Quote
LOL.  Relativism blows open wide that hole through which Comrade Stain and Comrade Mao (not to mention der Fuehrer) pass their divisions.

Actually if I had to put a term on it, I'd say that my morality is contextual, not relativisitic. Not that I expect that such a distinction will make much of a difference to you, just thought I'd mention it.

Quote
Besides the intrinsic value of warning the choir of wolves, anyoe can make a statement that they do not need anything.   You can state you do not need food.  the proof is 6 months done the road....

Very true. But the point still remains, if you're trying to convince me that I'm wrong, you're not coming close. If all you're doing is warning the choice of to pay no mind to the apostate, then that's fine.
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« Reply #72 on: November 01, 2009, 07:10:14 AM »

The concepts of morality and good point to an ulitmate, eternal, and objective standard of morality and good. When you deny this eternal and ultimate Good (i.e. God), then you forfeit any claim to objectivity in your appeal for your morality.

Yeah. How can anyone possibly know whats good and kind if their ethics are based on reason, observation and empathy for the suffering of others instead of fear of hell or hope of heaven?

I don't think your sarcasm makes a very good point. You are basically asserting a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Also, most Orthodox Christians do not derive their empathy for their fellow man from the fear of hell or the hope of heaven. They are empathetic toward their fellow human beings because they see in them the image of God, and they intuitively and cognitively recognize the material and spiritual value of the Truth of the Golden Rule.

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Is empathy impossible for those who do not "see" the Image of God in their neighbour?
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« Reply #73 on: November 01, 2009, 07:15:49 AM »

If, on the other hand, you are merely equating the term objective with absolute, then I'd agree that you can't have objective morality without God.
I know a few Buddhists who might disagree.

Really? Would at least some buddhists believe that their morality was absolutely correct, then? On what do they base that certainty? Reason? Experience? I'm unfamiliar with Buddhism except for a few introductory books on it.
Rather than think of it in terms of their morality being viewed as "absolutely correct", it is better understood as a belief that some moral principles are absolute. For instance, in Zen Buddhism which lacks a deity, Harmlessness is an absolute moral principle.
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« Reply #74 on: November 01, 2009, 09:09:12 AM »

If, on the other hand, you are merely equating the term objective with absolute, then I'd agree that you can't have objective morality without God.
I know a few Buddhists who might disagree.

Really? Would at least some buddhists believe that their morality was absolutely correct, then? On what do they base that certainty? Reason? Experience? I'm unfamiliar with Buddhism except for a few introductory books on it.
Buddhist morality is based on the idea that the moral valence of one's intentions and acts (karma) leads to a corresponding material and mental result (vipaka). That is, if one's intentions and acts are based on compassion and wisdom, the material and mental results will be positive both for you and for others.

Buddhists see this as a process that is "absolutely" correct; that is, this process happens universally. I put "absolute" in quotes, because this process is absolutely true in the universe of matter, energy, and consciousness in which we live. And, yet, this morality was not "created". It simply is how things operate in the phenomenal world. It will be true whether a Buddha says so or not.

(This is not to say that everything that happens to you is a result of your own actions, however; things happen that are a result of non-personal causes. This is also not to say that people should be left alone to 'suffer' through the results of their past actions, as in "Let him suffer; he must have done something bad in a past life": such disregard of peoples' suffering is the antithesis of what it means to be compassionate and wise.)

This Buddhist morality is based on the word of the Buddha, as well as on the applied rationality toward the observation of cause-and-effect in the world, and on the personal experiences of Buddhists throughout the centuries.

As the author of Galatians 6:7 said, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps [experiences vipaka] what he sows [creates karma]."
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« Reply #75 on: November 01, 2009, 11:03:47 AM »

ozgeorge, Jetavan,

Thank you for the thoughts/answer on Buddhism, much appreciated. Smiley
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« Reply #76 on: November 01, 2009, 07:44:39 PM »

And therefore all well fine and good for you, but Comrade Stalin and Comrade Mao have other ideas.
Ialmisry, do you have any intelligent reason for bringing Stalin and Chairman Mao into this discussion, or should I just chalk this up as another example of a variant of Godwin's Law?
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« Reply #77 on: November 02, 2009, 01:27:00 PM »

I think people prefer a dogmatic morality to a real system of morality because it's easier. However, it is a most immoral of systems, it is derived from the morality necessary for the most basic and primitive tribal system to function, it is designed to favour those in power and oppress those without political influence and, by doing so, maintain order in the tribe. It blames rape on victims, it condones the beating of slaves and condemns slaves who seek their liberty, it allows for executions based on hearsay, it essentially codifies tyranny.

As the world has developed, this moral code has been seen by all to be inadequate, even the faithful have attempted to explain away their own moral codes, attempting to draw abstract truths then drawing conclusions from those abstract truths that are directly opposed to the original moral code they claim to live by. But, in truth, while it would be preferable to dispense with these archaic codes entirely, I am glad for the dishonesty and self-deception of those who follow them, it would be far worse for us if these codes were taken literally as they are in the Islamic world.

Unfortunately, while the bloody details of these moral codes are no longer in effect, there is a lingering danger from them, namely their simplicity. 'Morality' is nothing more than a neurological inhibition that aids in the continuance and protection of our species, in fact it can be seen to varying degrees in every social animal. Without at least a very rudimentary 'morality' no group of animals, be they humans, apes, or horses could live in a social context, which, for many of these species, would mean their extinction. So with these humble beginnings, it's no surprise that people prefer an easy and simple system of morality; however, our society is no longer so simple and basic, we have created great civilizations and nation-states, we have instituted international bodies and laws amongst nations, the morality of the tribe does not always apply to our current situation. In the ancient codes we see severe punishments for intra-societal violence, but inter-societal violence is accepted even to the extreme in the Old Testament where not only tribal acts of violence against other tribes was tolerated, but even individual acts of violence against outsiders in certain situations. If one starts with the assumption that you are always in direct conflict over scarce resources with other tribes, essentially in a constant state of war, then this is a reasonable moral code when members of another tribe are, at all times, essentially enemy soldiers. But as more defined civilizations emerged, the simplicity was lost. Occasional states of peace, rather than constant war, between equals became more viable. And things further changed with the development of economies so that even between unequal powers, peace may be more advantageous between both powers because of economic concerns. With the economic and industrial changes of the 18th and 19th centuries these changing conditions started to affect even things such as property. Slavery, while still advantageous in an agricultural economy was less useful in an industrial economy, making it's continuation a hindrance rather than aid in truly advancing a civilization due to excessive competition against a fledgling, but increasing vital, sector of the economy. In certain circumstances even personal use of material property had to be questioned (aggressive monopolies, paying employees in vouchers for a company store, etc.) as it was no longer the case that while using my property as I see fit may not help you, but it doesn't harm you. Rather it did harm people and not just no an individual level, but monopolizing the workforce and forcing competitors out of business caused harm to entire segments of the economy, it caused harm to society itself and thus the moral codes and regulations had to again be updated. In a constantly changing world, we must have, by necessity, a constantly changing morality.

But throughout history there has been one absolute standard of morality: the advancement of one's tribe, city, civilization, empire, nation-state, etc....the advancement of society. Even relativistic morality shares in this absolute, but it's not so much an absolute principle of morality as it is the evolutionary definition of morality. If something is not aimed at advancing and continuing society, it's simply not morality. It may or may not be 'good' (whatever that means), but it's not 'moral'.

Now we may argue what constitutes 'society' is it merely our own family? Our tribe? Our Nation? All humanity? All intelligent entities? My guess is that with our current social development we're somewhere between Our Nation and All Humanity; though I believe our society being defined in terms of intelligence is approaching faster than most dare dream...as it should.

But this debate is not the essence of moral relativism, one can take any one of these definitions of society and form an absolute moral code, I wish they wouldn't, but they can and do. Moral relativism is simply the acknowledgment that the morality of a situation depends on, is relative to, a multitude of factors. One must determine how they interplay and what the ultimate impact on society is. Furthermore, the direction one believes society should advance must also be taken into account. An environmentally-driven morality and a technology-driven morality are both valid, though sometimes opposed to each other; but as both seek to advance society in their own way they can both be considered 'moral'. As to which one we should embrace, that's not so much a question of morality, but a question of how a society believes they should develop; it's more a political question than a moral one.

Of course, we can't have a conversation like this without abortion coming up, it's a favourite topic of those who take a simplistic approach to morality. But it's never been a simple question; granted, in the ancient world abortion was less common because of the lack of medical advancement, but an equivalent practice, exposure, was VERY widespread. Those who take a simplistic approach to morality would say, 'you're killing a baby, that's wrong.' But when resources are scarce, the answer isn't so simple. In a small tribal system, you had to have a balance of those who can work and those who can't. Too many children, too many non-productive mouths to feed, could lead to widespread shortages and starvation, threatening the entire society. Insufficient children, this imbalance in the workforce is simply delayed and you'd have the same problem a decade later. The stakes (survival of an entire civilization) may not be quite as high today, but the complexities still exist and will exist as long as we have a scarcity of resources. Do we spend money allowing fetus with inadequate brain development to be born, then spend resources to raise it, possibly even having to expend resources throughout its entire life without any productivity in return? Or do we use those resources to send a promising but disadvantaged youth through college? Or should I say several disadvantaged youths through college? Allowing them to climb out of poverty, make a better life for themselves and their family, and even contribute back to society allowing the cycle to continue? Is it beneficial to harm the career of a promising doctor or scientist who became pregnant on the roll of the dice that her offspring will be more beneficial to society? You're rolling against the house on that one. This is not a false dichotomy, every time resources are put to one use, they are deprived from another and it's not enough to look at the specific situation, you must take into account all related impacts of your decision...that's why morality is relative and why a dogmatic approach will do far more harm than good, a decision made in ignorance is rarely the best decision.

With that said, contraception is an obviously better 'more moral' choice since it takes far fewer resources for the same impact.
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« Reply #78 on: November 02, 2009, 01:56:12 PM »

The problem I see with atheism as a public policy is that it ends ups killing a great deal more than do any other system.  With all the various religious persecutions attributed to 'Christians' all lumped together, you can't even get near the numbers perpetrated by atheistic regimes.  I think atheists can be good folks as individuals, but they can get dangerous when put in a room by themselves.  That's the same argument many of them have against us, but I think the numerical differences in regards to outcomes are indeed telling.

Of course, I have found that pushy atheists and pushy 'Christians' share the common trait of insecurity and ego issues.

Moral of the story: human fallenness cannot be avoided in an 'system.'  That's true of any utopian plan, atheistic or otherwise, though some manage the human impulse to selfishness better than others.
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« Reply #79 on: November 02, 2009, 03:08:39 PM »

Quote
Survival of the fitest.  Murdering and stealing play their part.

Actually it's survival of those best able to pass on their genes. I've already done my part, but peaceful coexistence with other humans increases the chances that my daughters will live long enough to reproduce. So far from encouraging murdering and stealing, darwinian evolution--whether God-driven or not--encourages things like not murdering, not stealing, etc. Not that it willfully encourages it, of course.

Yes, it does.  Whether from the traumatic insemination of the bean weevil
http://rahne-everson.livejournal.com/2009/03/23/
to the ethnic cleansing that ensures that the right people live long enough to reproduce.

Quote
Quote
LOL.  Relativism blows open wide that hole through which Comrade Stain and Comrade Mao (not to mention der Fuehrer) pass their divisions.

Actually if I had to put a term on it, I'd say that my morality is contextual, not relativisitic. Not that I expect that such a distinction will make much of a difference to you, just thought I'd mention it.

A rose by any other name has thorns just as sharp, and needs the same manure to grow.

Quote
Quote
Besides the intrinsic value of warning the choir of wolves, anyoe can make a statement that they do not need anything.   You can state you do not need food.  the proof is 6 months done the road....

Very true. But the point still remains, if you're trying to convince me that I'm wrong, you're not coming close. If all you're doing is warning the choice of to pay no mind to the apostate, then that's fine.
[/quote]

That suffices.  But the fact remains you assertion is still unsupported.
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« Reply #80 on: November 02, 2009, 06:29:23 PM »

As the world has developed, this moral code has been seen by all to be inadequate, even the faithful have attempted to explain away their own moral codes, attempting to draw abstract truths then drawing conclusions from those abstract truths that are directly opposed to the original moral code they claim to live by. But, in truth, while it would be preferable to dispense with these archaic codes entirely, I am glad for the dishonesty and self-deception of those who follow them, it would be far worse for us if these codes were taken literally as they are in the Islamic world.
I wonder, though, whether any "moral code" can ever be absolute and immutable. While I think there are particular moral values which are absolute and immutable, a moral code (the guide as to "how to live" those values) can and does change. Do you think this is dishonest?
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« Reply #81 on: November 02, 2009, 06:39:25 PM »

As the world has developed, this moral code has been seen by all to be inadequate, even the faithful have attempted to explain away their own moral codes, attempting to draw abstract truths then drawing conclusions from those abstract truths that are directly opposed to the original moral code they claim to live by. But, in truth, while it would be preferable to dispense with these archaic codes entirely, I am glad for the dishonesty and self-deception of those who follow them, it would be far worse for us if these codes were taken literally as they are in the Islamic world.
I wonder, though, whether any "moral code" can ever be absolute and immutable. While I think there are particular moral values which are absolute and immutable, a moral code (the guide as to "how to live" those values) can and does change. Do you think this is dishonest?

No, that's not dishonest...as long as you leave the Judeo-Christian holy books out of the formation of these values.
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« Reply #82 on: November 02, 2009, 06:53:57 PM »

As the world has developed, this moral code has been seen by all to be inadequate, even the faithful have attempted to explain away their own moral codes, attempting to draw abstract truths then drawing conclusions from those abstract truths that are directly opposed to the original moral code they claim to live by. But, in truth, while it would be preferable to dispense with these archaic codes entirely, I am glad for the dishonesty and self-deception of those who follow them, it would be far worse for us if these codes were taken literally as they are in the Islamic world.
I wonder, though, whether any "moral code" can ever be absolute and immutable. While I think there are particular moral values which are absolute and immutable, a moral code (the guide as to "how to live" those values) can and does change. Do you think this is dishonest?

No, that's not dishonest...as long as you leave the Judeo-Christian holy books out of the formation of these values.
Of all the classical texts I may use to reach moral conclusions, why must the Judeo-Christian ones be the only ones I exclude? Is the Bhagavad Gita OK to use? Is the Dao De Jing OK? Are Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Aristophanes OK?
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« Reply #83 on: November 02, 2009, 07:05:24 PM »

By the way GiC, its good to see you again!
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« Reply #84 on: November 02, 2009, 07:28:32 PM »

As the world has developed, this moral code has been seen by all to be inadequate, even the faithful have attempted to explain away their own moral codes, attempting to draw abstract truths then drawing conclusions from those abstract truths that are directly opposed to the original moral code they claim to live by. But, in truth, while it would be preferable to dispense with these archaic codes entirely, I am glad for the dishonesty and self-deception of those who follow them, it would be far worse for us if these codes were taken literally as they are in the Islamic world.
I wonder, though, whether any "moral code" can ever be absolute and immutable. While I think there are particular moral values which are absolute and immutable, a moral code (the guide as to "how to live" those values) can and does change. Do you think this is dishonest?

No, that's not dishonest...as long as you leave the Judeo-Christian holy books out of the formation of these values.
Of all the classical texts I may use to reach moral conclusions, why must the Judeo-Christian ones be the only ones I exclude? Is the Bhagavad Gita OK to use? Is the Dao De Jing OK? Are Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Aristophanes OK?

I just figured I'd pick on those because they're the ones most likely to be taken seriously on this board. Wink I'd have the same objections to using the Code of Hammurabi or the Quran. But perhaps I'm being a bit unfair in my generalizations. I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma. As long as one does not view them as the inerrant word of some deity and recognizes them as the best attempts of humans to make a system of rules that will allow their society to both thrive and prosper. So long as we can view them in their proper context and give an honest criticism, we may be able to learn from their methods if not from their conclusions; and maybe some conclusions are still applicable, but if so we should be able to arrive at these conclusions independently, even if the sources are used for guidance. It's not so much the scriptures that are the problem, I believe those who write them did so in good faith for what they saw as the common good; the problem is when they become unquestionable dogma, forcing us to take bad conclusions that are clearly immoral in a modern context (and, arguably, even immoral if their context is taken into consideration...I don't believe their treatment of women, homosexuals, or slaves can ever truly be justified as moral and acceptable, though I may be able to allow a moral justification for the institution of slavery RELATIVE TO THEIR SOCIAL CONTEXT) as divinely inspired.

It's dogma that's contrary to morality more so than a particular text. And while you may be able to think rationally and not blindly follow every dictate of the Law of Moses or even every statement of St. Paul for that matter, there are unfortunately too many won can't; or perhaps even more sinister and dangerous, many who dismiss the ones that are merely inconvenient but not harmful (dietary laws, sanitation laws, etc.), but wish to violently enforce ones that are truly immoral (oppression of women, murder of intellectual dissidents (blasphemers, heretics, etc.), murder of homosexuals, etc.). That's the true danger of so-called 'divine texts'.

Btw, It's good to see you again too George. Wink
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« Reply #85 on: November 02, 2009, 07:28:52 PM »

ialmisry,

Quote
Yes, it does.  Whether from the traumatic insemination of the bean weevil to the ethnic cleansing that ensures that the right people live long enough to reproduce.

So you gave two examples, one not involving humans, and the other not involving evolution.

Quote
A rose by any other name has thorns just as sharp, and needs the same manure to grow.

Like I said, "Not that I expect that such a distinction will make much of a difference to you". That's an ad hominem, I admit that.

Quote
That suffices.  But the fact remains you assertion is still unsupported.

I've not tried to defend my position, just give an overview of it.
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« Reply #86 on: November 02, 2009, 07:39:52 PM »

I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Selam
In a sense he's right as God transcends the universe if the universe is defined as all that is matter.
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« Reply #87 on: November 02, 2009, 07:51:56 PM »

I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Selam
In a sense he's right as God transcends the universe if the universe is defined as all that is matter.

I doubt if that's what he means, because I doubt if he believed in God Transcendent. Also, I reject the idea of a Trascendental God who is not at the same time an Immanent God. Christ lived in the material universe, even though He was Lord over it. Thus, we must never accept the definition of the universe as purely material.

Selam
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« Reply #88 on: November 02, 2009, 07:54:03 PM »

I apologize if I have erroneously labeled Carl Sagan as an atheist. I did so based on his statement:

"There is and has never been anything in the universe other than matter.”

Selam
In a sense he's right as God transcends the universe if the universe is defined as all that is matter.

I doubt if that's what he means, because I doubt if he believed in God Transcendent. Also, I reject the idea of a Trascendental God who is not at the same time an Immanent God. Christ lived in the material universe, even though He was Lord over it. Thus, we must never accept the definition of the universe as purely material.

Selam
I agree that God is immanent as well.
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« Reply #89 on: November 03, 2009, 05:27:36 AM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).
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« Reply #90 on: November 03, 2009, 12:09:58 PM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
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« Reply #91 on: November 03, 2009, 02:49:07 PM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
Do you think perhaps you are attributing a greater level of importance to the writings of St. Paul than some fundamentalists do when you say that some of his writings are him "talking out his rear", rather than being culturally relative? It's as if the expectation you have is that they should all be "eternal truths".
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« Reply #92 on: November 03, 2009, 05:38:31 PM »

Quote
So far from encouraging murdering and stealing, darwinian evolution--whether God-driven or not--encourages things like not murdering, not stealing, etc.

I've been thinking about it more, and I've come to the conclusion that this may only be partially correct. There would indeed seem to be other factors involved, which I didn't seem to allow for in my previous statement(s).
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« Reply #93 on: November 03, 2009, 05:42:13 PM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
Do you think perhaps you are attributing a greater level of importance to the writings of St. Paul than some fundamentalists do when you say that some of his writings are him "talking out his rear", rather than being culturally relative? It's as if the expectation you have is that they should all be "eternal truths".

Rather, I'm simply saying that his writings only become truly problematic when they are taken as 'eternal truths.' In fact, considering any document to be an 'eternal truth' is antithetical to the pursuit of morality.
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« Reply #94 on: November 03, 2009, 05:52:52 PM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
Do you think perhaps you are attributing a greater level of importance to the writings of St. Paul than some fundamentalists do when you say that some of his writings are him "talking out his rear", rather than being culturally relative? It's as if the expectation you have is that they should all be "eternal truths".

Rather, I'm simply saying that his writings only become truly problematic when they are taken as 'eternal truths.' In fact, considering any document to be an 'eternal truth' is antithetical to the pursuit of morality.
I agree. But when we look at the writings of St. Paul, I don't think it is dishonest to see some of what he says as being culturally relative rather than him just "talking out his rear". I can think of a lot of examples where St. Paul is talking about cultural relative issues which are irrelevant or even abhorrent today (e.g, the proper Christian way to have slaves), but I don't think I can find anywhere where he is "talking out out of his rear"; And I think I'm being pretty open to the possibility.
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« Reply #95 on: November 03, 2009, 06:13:55 PM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
Do you think perhaps you are attributing a greater level of importance to the writings of St. Paul than some fundamentalists do when you say that some of his writings are him "talking out his rear", rather than being culturally relative? It's as if the expectation you have is that they should all be "eternal truths".

Rather, I'm simply saying that his writings only become truly problematic when they are taken as 'eternal truths.' In fact, considering any document to be an 'eternal truth' is antithetical to the pursuit of morality.
I agree. But when we look at the writings of St. Paul, I don't think it is dishonest to see some of what he says as being culturally relative rather than him just "talking out his rear". I can think of a lot of examples where St. Paul is talking about cultural relative issues which are irrelevant or even abhorrent today (e.g, the proper Christian way to have slaves), but I don't think I can find anywhere where he is "talking out out of his rear"; And I think I'm being pretty open to the possibility.

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
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« Reply #96 on: November 03, 2009, 06:25:40 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?
2.  Does objective--I take you to mean "not clouded by belief in the truth of the texts"--necessarily mean believable?
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« Reply #97 on: November 03, 2009, 06:26:10 PM »

GiC,

I suppose you could get that impression from 1 Cor. 15:1-9, but I would assume that Christians would argue that Paul was simply talking about either his conversion experience (Acts 9; Acts 22; Acts 26) or a "vision" (2 Cor. 12)
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« Reply #98 on: November 03, 2009, 07:30:40 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?

Quote
2.  Does objective--I take you to mean "not clouded by belief in the truth of the texts"--necessarily mean believable?

By objective I simply mean open to interpreting the texts in their historical context without any preconceived ideas. But if you're going into the study assuming the texts are the 'inerrant word of god', you are much less likely to point out textual problems and inconsistencies.
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« Reply #99 on: November 03, 2009, 08:01:14 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?

Quote
2.  Does objective--I take you to mean "not clouded by belief in the truth of the texts"--necessarily mean believable?

By objective I simply mean open to interpreting the texts in their historical context without any preconceived ideas. But if you're going into the study assuming the texts are the 'inerrant word of god', you are much less likely to point out textual problems and inconsistencies.
And if you start out with the belief that there is no God you are more predisposed to interperate apparent contradictions as genuine contradictions.
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« Reply #100 on: November 03, 2009, 08:13:03 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?
That would be nice, since right now you're merely appealing to the anonymous "they".
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« Reply #101 on: November 03, 2009, 09:24:45 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?
That would be nice, since right now you're merely appealing to the anonymous "they".

I'll try to pull together a list for you...but asking someone to produce citations for matters of general knowledge is a little excessive.
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« Reply #102 on: November 03, 2009, 09:31:13 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?

Quote
2.  Does objective--I take you to mean "not clouded by belief in the truth of the texts"--necessarily mean believable?

By objective I simply mean open to interpreting the texts in their historical context without any preconceived ideas. But if you're going into the study assuming the texts are the 'inerrant word of god', you are much less likely to point out textual problems and inconsistencies.
And if you start out with the belief that there is no God you are more predisposed to interperate apparent contradictions as genuine contradictions.

I don't know about that, textual criticism is a fairly established field based on the science of linguistics. And furthermore, most textual critics are actually theists though they may not accept such religious details as the authenticity of scripture and may question the historicity of various religious figures.
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« Reply #103 on: November 03, 2009, 10:38:43 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?

How about naming one not in the Jesus Seminar?


2.  Does objective--I take you to mean "not clouded by belief in the truth of the texts"--necessarily mean believable?

By objective I simply mean open to interpreting the texts in their historical context without any preconceived ideas. But if you're going into the study assuming the texts are the 'inerrant word of god', you are much less likely to point out textual problems and inconsistencies.
The literature belies that: the Muslims are if anything FAR more literal about their Quran than the most fundamentalist literalist Christian, and yet there is a HUGE literature on textual problems and reconciling inconsistencies.
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« Reply #104 on: November 03, 2009, 10:40:36 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?

Quote
2.  Does objective--I take you to mean "not clouded by belief in the truth of the texts"--necessarily mean believable?

By objective I simply mean open to interpreting the texts in their historical context without any preconceived ideas. But if you're going into the study assuming the texts are the 'inerrant word of god', you are much less likely to point out textual problems and inconsistencies.
And if you start out with the belief that there is no God you are more predisposed to interperate apparent contradictions as genuine contradictions.

I don't know about that, textual criticism is a fairly established field based on the science of linguistics. And furthermore, most textual critics are actually theists though they may not accept such religious details as the authenticity of scripture and may question the historicity of various religious figures.

I do believe you once shared your opinion of Thomas Kuhn's textual criticism of scientific literature.
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« Reply #105 on: November 03, 2009, 10:51:29 PM »

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
1.  Can you name these anonymous-to-this-discussion scholars so we can cross-reference their works?

Nearly any biblical scholar in the field of higher criticism...do you really need the who's who list?

How about naming one not in the Jesus Seminar?

While that wouldn't be a major problem since most such biblical scholars and theologians date from the 19th century, why would I exclude those in the Jesus Seminar; they are, quite frankly, far more learned in these matters than probably anyone on this board and their conclusions should carry significantly more weight than those of the posters in this thread.
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« Reply #106 on: November 03, 2009, 10:55:37 PM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?


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I'm coming to this thread late, I know, but I say that the fundamentalist atheist is fundamentally (pardon the pun) no different to the fundamentalist Christian. They are both "control freaks", who desire everyone to believe exactly as they do. When faced with those who disagree with their paradigm their only recourse is to elliminate their opponants case by any means at their disposal. And though it's disappointing, I find fundamentalist atheists no more dishonest than fundamentalist Christians.

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« Reply #107 on: November 04, 2009, 03:42:03 AM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
Do you think perhaps you are attributing a greater level of importance to the writings of St. Paul than some fundamentalists do when you say that some of his writings are him "talking out his rear", rather than being culturally relative? It's as if the expectation you have is that they should all be "eternal truths".

Rather, I'm simply saying that his writings only become truly problematic when they are taken as 'eternal truths.' In fact, considering any document to be an 'eternal truth' is antithetical to the pursuit of morality.
I agree. But when we look at the writings of St. Paul, I don't think it is dishonest to see some of what he says as being culturally relative rather than him just "talking out his rear". I can think of a lot of examples where St. Paul is talking about cultural relative issues which are irrelevant or even abhorrent today (e.g, the proper Christian way to have slaves), but I don't think I can find anywhere where he is "talking out out of his rear"; And I think I'm being pretty open to the possibility.

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
St. Paul does claim to have encountered Christ and more than likely, St. Paul is the man whom he refers to as having been caught up to the third heaven:
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven." 2 Corinthians 12:2
I would say that this is in fact culturally relative. St. Paul is describing his experience based on his cultural concepts. The reason I say this is because I have had several "Peak Experiences" as described by Maslow, and I too find myself having to describe them in terms with which I am familiar (i.e. culturally relative terms). What I am saying is that what St. Paul may have experienced may have been a real experience (just as a Peak Experience is a real experience) and is using culturally bound terms to describe it (the cultural terms of first century Christianity coming out of a Jewish history and which has challenged many Jewish taboos like inclusion of uncircumscribed Gentiles).
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« Reply #108 on: November 04, 2009, 12:14:39 PM »

I misspoke a bit, I have no objection to using various ancient texts be it the judeo-christian scriptures, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Quran for that matter...provided they're used as philosophical texts and not as dogma.
I would actually agree with you here. But I think that this is unremarkable in that the vast majority of Christian Scripture is not actually "dogma" in the "Apostolic" Churches anyway (Orthodox, RC, Anglican...etc...).

Granted, only the formal statements of faith from the Oecumenical Synods are technically dogma. However, with that said, the importance ascribed to scripture and the canons by the 'Apostolic' Churches means that when used they function far closer to dogma than to philosophical texts open to objective criticism. For instance, you may see people try to manipulate St. Paul's writings by talking about cultural context and spiritual meanings, but you'll rarely see the 'faithful' say, 'you know, Paul's just talking out his rear in this instance, this is nonsense and simply shouldn't be taken seriously.' When, at times, that's simply the case.
Do you think perhaps you are attributing a greater level of importance to the writings of St. Paul than some fundamentalists do when you say that some of his writings are him "talking out his rear", rather than being culturally relative? It's as if the expectation you have is that they should all be "eternal truths".

Rather, I'm simply saying that his writings only become truly problematic when they are taken as 'eternal truths.' In fact, considering any document to be an 'eternal truth' is antithetical to the pursuit of morality.
I agree. But when we look at the writings of St. Paul, I don't think it is dishonest to see some of what he says as being culturally relative rather than him just "talking out his rear". I can think of a lot of examples where St. Paul is talking about cultural relative issues which are irrelevant or even abhorrent today (e.g, the proper Christian way to have slaves), but I don't think I can find anywhere where he is "talking out out of his rear"; And I think I'm being pretty open to the possibility.

Well, I'll confess it's been quite some time since I've read Paul but, correct me if I'm wrong, I do recall some statement about him having met Christ in the flesh or something to that extent and actually using that claim to assert his influence and authority. As far as I can that's a statement that can't be considered culturally relevant and is, according to most objective biblical scholars, simply incorrect.
St. Paul does claim to have encountered Christ and more than likely, St. Paul is the man whom he refers to as having been caught up to the third heaven:
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven." 2 Corinthians 12:2
I would say that this is in fact culturally relative. St. Paul is describing his experience based on his cultural concepts. The reason I say this is because I have had several "Peak Experiences" as described by Maslow, and I too find myself having to describe them in terms with which I am familiar (i.e. culturally relative terms). What I am saying is that what St. Paul may have experienced may have been a real experience (just as a Peak Experience is a real experience) and is using culturally bound terms to describe it (the cultural terms of first century Christianity coming out of a Jewish history and which has challenged many Jewish taboos like inclusion of uncircumscribed Gentiles).

The description may be culturally relevant, but the assumption that this 'peak experience' granted moral insight is simply nonsensical. I've had a couple 'peak experiences', granted all chemically induced, but I would never claim that scrambling my neurons, regardless of how fun, exciting, and interesting the experience was, offered me any objective insight. Sure, it gives some subjective insight into the workings of one's mind...but to argue objective authority based on those experiences would just be absurd.
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« Reply #109 on: November 04, 2009, 01:31:27 PM »

why would I exclude those in the Jesus Seminar; they are, quite frankly, far more learned in these matters than probably anyone on this board and their conclusions should carry significantly more weight than those of the posters in this thread.

I don't know why I would ask you to refrain from an argument from authority when others here are incapable of doing so, but at least it's worth a try.
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« Reply #110 on: November 04, 2009, 01:32:43 PM »

The description may be culturally relevant, but the assumption that this 'peak experience' granted moral insight is simply nonsensical. I've had a couple 'peak experiences', granted all chemically induced, but I would never claim that scrambling my neurons, regardless of how fun, exciting, and interesting the experience was, offered me any objective insight. Sure, it gives some subjective insight into the workings of one's mind...but to argue objective authority based on those experiences would just be absurd.

So argue coherently against Maslow's theory, rather than expecting us to accept your off-the-cuff criticism as some sort of rebuttal.
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« Reply #111 on: November 04, 2009, 02:41:22 PM »

why would I exclude those in the Jesus Seminar; they are, quite frankly, far more learned in these matters than probably anyone on this board and their conclusions should carry significantly more weight than those of the posters in this thread.

I don't know why I would ask you to refrain from an argument from authority when others here are incapable of doing so, but at least it's worth a try.

It is a fallacy, but resulted from being asked to provide an argument from authority in response to a matter of general knowledge in the context of modern theology. But while it is never prudent to discuss one's rhetorical strategies, I believe there is value to providing authorities, when pushed at least, that by every standard of academia are indeed authorities and who's research is as objective as the field allows, yet are believed to be simply unacceptable by your opponent. If they dismiss your authorities out of hand, they have no right to uphold their own authorities...which, just maybe, might cause people to actually consider the issues at hand independent of what they have been told by others.

Probably a pipe-dream, but one can always hope. Wink
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« Reply #112 on: November 04, 2009, 02:57:01 PM »

The description may be culturally relevant, but the assumption that this 'peak experience' granted moral insight is simply nonsensical. I've had a couple 'peak experiences', granted all chemically induced, but I would never claim that scrambling my neurons, regardless of how fun, exciting, and interesting the experience was, offered me any objective insight. Sure, it gives some subjective insight into the workings of one's mind...but to argue objective authority based on those experiences would just be absurd.

So argue coherently against Maslow's theory, rather than expecting us to accept your off-the-cuff criticism as some sort of rebuttal.

But I'm not arguing against Maslow's theory, I think his theory, while still being fully developed in experimental psychology, show's merit. However, his theory focuses on subjective and personal responses to these types of experiences, which seems to be validated by actual research (Griffiths RR, Richards WA, McCann U, Jesse R (2006) Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 187(3):268-83; Griffiths R, Richards W, Johnson M, McCann U, Jesse R (2008) Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. J Psychopharmacol. 22(6):621-32.). What I am arguing, primarily from experience, not merely an 'off-the-cuff criticism', is that these experiences don't correlate to objective authority or insights into objective 'universal' principles...and I believe that, on that point, Maslow would actually agree. His concerns were with psychological well-being moreso than 'absolute philosophical truths'.

Furthermore, the proper context for the significance of these experiences in this theory of psychology really falls within his Hierarchy of Needs, well as an addendum to them, he added the category of self-transcendence as the final stage of his theory. Staying within his theory I could argue that the ability to fully utilize and appreciate these experiences and, self-transcendence in general would be limited, at best, without more basic needs being met. These more basic needs may be unacceptable to many on this forum, but Paul certainly had not fulfilled them as Maslow places significant emphasis on the physical act of sex as a most basic need and slightly further down the list emphasis is placed on sexual intimacy. So while some models may be available to argue Paul reached a high level of psychological development, thus presenting the possibility of presenting him as a moral authority, he falls short within the context of this model. So, again, I'm not arguing against Maslow here, only against the the conclusions that, I believe, were inaccurately drawn from his psychology.
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« Reply #113 on: November 04, 2009, 03:19:23 PM »

why would I exclude those in the Jesus Seminar; they are, quite frankly, far more learned in these matters than probably anyone on this board and their conclusions should carry significantly more weight than those of the posters in this thread.

I don't know why I would ask you to refrain from an argument from authority when others here are incapable of doing so, but at least it's worth a try.

It is a fallacy, but resulted from being asked to provide an argument from authority in response to a matter of general knowledge in the context of modern theology.
You assume that everyone here is as knowledgeable of theology as you like to think yourself to be?

But while it is never prudent to discuss one's rhetorical strategies, I believe there is value to providing authorities, when pushed at least, that by every standard of academia are indeed authorities and who's research is as objective as the field allows, yet are believed to be simply unacceptable by your opponent. If they dismiss your authorities out of hand, they have no right to uphold their own authorities...which, just maybe, might cause people to actually consider the issues at hand independent of what they have been told by others.
Of course, I never dismissed your authorities out of hand or in my hand.  You made an appeal to nameless authorities as if the simple fact that you deem them authoritative should be enough to convince us; I merely asked you to name them.

Probably a pipe-dream, but one can always hope. Wink
Yup.  One can always hope.
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« Reply #114 on: November 04, 2009, 03:23:03 PM »

GiC is my favorite!
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« Reply #115 on: November 04, 2009, 04:25:44 PM »

^^  laugh  I'm glad he is back too!
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« Reply #116 on: November 04, 2009, 05:14:43 PM »

Maybe it all comes down to a worship of matter & the militant atheist tendency is to eliminate the plausibility that Christian believers of a creator God cannot be authentic scientists of which is discussed here http://www.ocrpl.org/?p=26 The understanding of science within creation has plenty of foundation from St. Paul's passage: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." (1 Corinthians 15:46) Just because science says that matter is neither created nor destroyed & Christianity says that it was created would seem moot within the everday understanding of the scientific method. There even seems to be selectivity based on purpose (or cowardice?) from a major militant atheist http://www.osamasaeed.org/osama/2006/01/dawkins_decides.html
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« Reply #117 on: November 04, 2009, 05:52:25 PM »

So while some models may be available to argue Paul reached a high level of psychological development, thus presenting the possibility of presenting him as a moral authority, he falls short within the context of this model.

But does St. Paul ever claim some sort of moral authority because of his transcendant experience? He claims the authority of an Apostle, but so what? Even St. Paul doesn't think the authority of an Apostle is inerrant or infallible when it comes to morals and ethics. His beef with St. Peter is a philosophical argument about ethics, not a claim of some higher moral authority based on a mystical experience:  "Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision; and the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy." (Galatians 2:11-13)
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« Reply #118 on: May 24, 2010, 11:18:29 PM »

Quote
Maybe it all comes down to a worship of matter

Most atheists I know don't worship matter. I suppose you could say that pantheists worship matter in a sense... but I don't think that'd be a fair statement about most atheists.
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« Reply #119 on: May 25, 2010, 06:29:51 AM »

Quote
Maybe it all comes down to a worship of matter

Most atheists I know don't worship matter. I suppose you could say that pantheists worship matter in a sense... but I don't think that'd be a fair statement about most atheists.
I was referring to the evangelical atheists who have made a religion of their atheism & seek to convert others to it. To do this something has to be considered a source of worship & there is no spiritual realm in this scheme.
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« Reply #120 on: May 25, 2010, 07:52:08 AM »

Just because science says that matter is neither created nor destroyed & Christianity says that it was created would seem moot within the everday understanding of the scientific method.
Is creation ex nihilo a scientific idea? That is, can it demonstrated empirically?
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« Reply #121 on: May 25, 2010, 08:01:06 AM »

Just because science says that matter is neither created nor destroyed & Christianity says that it was created would seem moot within the everday understanding of the scientific method.
Is creation ex nihilo a scientific idea? That is, can it demonstrated empirically?
I do not believe ex nihilo is a scientific idea in the secular sense. I believe that what science would consider what is reality & what Christianity would consider creation exists within common laws of physics, biology, etc.
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« Reply #122 on: May 25, 2010, 11:43:58 AM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?


Selam 

The "Evangelical" atheists I've heard (e.g. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins) do not strike me as the existential type.  Especially in the case of Richard Dawkins, it is a positivist mindset that stands behind their atheism.  While these "Evangelical" atheists reject God, they still share humanitarianism with Christians.  The debates between key figures from both sides often involves the unsaid question, which belief system leads to the greater good of humanity?  I believe there is a certain degree to which these atheists actually believe that atheism would be better for humanity.  For them, atheism and reason go hand and hand; and they believe that if everyone were rational, superstitions and taboos connected with violence and war would come to an end.   

The difficulty I see with this kind of atheism is that it professes to believe only that which can be empirically proven, yet it rests on values that cannot be proven by science.  God is rejected, since there is no empirical proof for his existence, and yet a whole range of values emphasized especially in the West are treated as intrinsic values: duty to humanity, to society, to family, etc.; peacefulness, non-violence; equality, freedoms, rights.  There is no real consideration of a "transvaluation of values" entailed in the rejection of God.  I see an especial problem in how this kind of atheism deals with values formerly linked with reward in the hereafter.  If this is the only life I have (there being no immortality of the soul), then why ought I sacrifice my life, wholly or partially, in alleged service of family, country, society, and a future humanity (that I'll never see and which faces destruction just like myself)?           
Why bother serving others to the detriment of self when I can serve myself and not feel guilty about, there being no punishment save a possibly earthly one? 

Dostoevsky and Nietzsche have both traversed these topics far better than the "Evangelical" atheists I've heard in debates.   
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« Reply #123 on: May 25, 2010, 12:22:07 PM »

Just because science says that matter is neither created nor destroyed & Christianity says that it was created would seem moot within the everday understanding of the scientific method.
Is creation ex nihilo a scientific idea? That is, can it demonstrated empirically?
I do not believe ex nihilo is a scientific idea in the secular sense. I believe that what science would consider what is reality & what Christianity would consider creation exists within common laws of physics, biology, etc.

Why does this question keep being brought up? Was I the only person who went to class any day in the whole TWO weeks spent on Vacuum Fluctuations and Virtual Particles in Introductory Quantum Mechanics?
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« Reply #124 on: May 25, 2010, 12:24:08 PM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.

But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.

So what say ye?


Selam 

The "Evangelical" atheists I've heard (e.g. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins) do not strike me as the existential type.  Especially in the case of Richard Dawkins, it is a positivist mindset that stands behind their atheism.  While these "Evangelical" atheists reject God, they still share humanitarianism with Christians.  The debates between key figures from both sides often involves the unsaid question, which belief system leads to the greater good of humanity?  I believe there is a certain degree to which these atheists actually believe that atheism would be better for humanity.  For them, atheism and reason go hand and hand; and they believe that if everyone were rational, superstitions and taboos connected with violence and war would come to an end.   

The difficulty I see with this kind of atheism is that it professes to believe only that which can be empirically proven, yet it rests on values that cannot be proven by science.  God is rejected, since there is no empirical proof for his existence, and yet a whole range of values emphasized especially in the West are treated as intrinsic values: duty to humanity, to society, to family

So do Chimpanzees...are they motivated by their belief in an afterlife? or, perhaps, simply genetically predisposed to this type of behaviour, as are humans.
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« Reply #125 on: May 25, 2010, 12:47:11 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.
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« Reply #126 on: May 25, 2010, 04:24:36 PM »

Quote
I see an especial problem in how this kind of atheism deals with values formerly linked with reward in the hereafter.  If this is the only life I have (there being no immortality of the soul), then why ought I sacrifice my life, wholly or partially, in alleged service of family, country, society, and a future humanity (that I'll never see and which faces destruction just like myself)?           
Why bother serving others to the detriment of self when I can serve myself and not feel guilty about, there being no punishment save a possibly earthly one? 

There is value for the atheist in such things in two ways. First, if an activity betters the chances of them and their offspring to survive and thrive, then that activity is of some value. Second, if a person has decided that some cause or view gives their life meaning, they can pursue the furthering of that cause or view, even to the point of dying for it.
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« Reply #127 on: May 25, 2010, 04:25:03 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?
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« Reply #128 on: May 25, 2010, 04:32:35 PM »

Just because science says that matter is neither created nor destroyed & Christianity says that it was created would seem moot within the everday understanding of the scientific method.
Is creation ex nihilo a scientific idea? That is, can it demonstrated empirically?
I do not believe ex nihilo is a scientific idea in the secular sense. I believe that what science would consider what is reality & what Christianity would consider creation exists within common laws of physics, biology, etc.

Why does this question keep being brought up? Was I the only person who went to class any day in the whole TWO weeks spent on Vacuum Fluctuations and Virtual Particles in Introductory Quantum Mechanics?
I am sorry I am not as intelligent as you but I simply see a created universe with scientific laws that operate within it. Obviously an atheist will see differently but it would seem that Newton believing in a creator had a similar perspective?
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« Reply #129 on: May 25, 2010, 05:11:22 PM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist.


Correction, Carl Sagan was NOT an atheist. He was a classic agnostic. And contrary to this Fundamentalist opinion of Sagan you've described, he spent his life devoted to teaching the wonders of science, the cosmos, history, and spent very little time trying to convince anyone there was no God. He would NEVER have said such a thing, and in fact felt that atheists were "some of the silliest people" he knew. His poor widow has been debunking this urban legend (that Sagan was a hardcore atheist) for many years now. Maybe if people would just take the time to actually READ some of his books, listen to his lectures, and watch his TV programs, people would stop saying this about Sagan. He was NOT an atheist.

In fact, a lot of people say things about Dawkins that are in fact not really true either, and I used to be one of those, until I began reading his stuff. He is not nearly as vitriolic as most Christian anti-Dawkins folks are.


Quote
If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Ann Druyan (Sagan's widow) told a story about how after Carl gave a lecture at a planetarium about the big bang, cosmic evolution and the like, afterwards a young man came up to him and almost in tears asked, "what am I supposed to do now that you've sucked all the meaning out of my life?" (apparently one lecture converted him from believer to atheist) Sagan paused, and then replied "go do something meaningful with your life!"

How the heck is that nihilistic? I find that many Christians, (myself included at one time) disparage atheists because of our own deep seeded doubts. Deep down WE would be nihilistic, or immoral, or see life as meaningless without God...but instead of admitting "well if there was no God I'd kill anyone I got ticked off at" we accuse atheists of having the same low moral quotient that we have. (only God keeps me moral, without God I'd be immoral, so too, all atheists must feel like ME). The problem is most atheists do NOT do immoral things, and do not live meaningless or nihilistic lives. There are plenty of stories in fact of people leaving behind faith, becoming atheists or agnostics and ending up with MORE meaning in their lives than they ever did as a believer. Why? Because they say, they realize THIS life is all we have, and we need to do our best, each day to love, laugh, help those in need, without the consolation that even if we screw up ours and everyone elses life around us, it will all be better in Heaven. (that's their reasoning anyways, whether we disagree with or not is not the point, the point is it makes sense to them)

Anyways, I only posted because lumping Sagan in with Dawkins as though they were "two of a kind" is just not accurate.  Even Dawkins has said he does NOT take the Sagan approach, and he (Dawkins) has debated Lawrence Krauss (who does take the Sagan approach) as to which is the better method for science education. In fact Dawkin's is not really a science educator, but writing about religion specifically outside of the context of science, which is something I don't believe Sagan ever did.



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« Reply #130 on: May 25, 2010, 05:30:05 PM »

Just because science says that matter is neither created nor destroyed & Christianity says that it was created would seem moot within the everday understanding of the scientific method.
Is creation ex nihilo a scientific idea? That is, can it demonstrated empirically?
I do not believe ex nihilo is a scientific idea in the secular sense. I believe that what science would consider what is reality & what Christianity would consider creation exists within common laws of physics, biology, etc.

Why does this question keep being brought up? Was I the only person who went to class any day in the whole TWO weeks spent on Vacuum Fluctuations and Virtual Particles in Introductory Quantum Mechanics?
I am sorry I am not as intelligent as you but I simply see a created universe with scientific laws that operate within it. Obviously an atheist will see differently but it would seem that Newton believing in a creator had a similar perspective?

With all do respect to Newton's great accomplishments, he got a lot of stuff wrong, and I'm not even talking about his theological views here. He didn't realize that matter could be created and destroyed, that mass was affected by velocity, he had no understanding of the relationship between mass and energy, and knew nothing of the uncertainty principle, or Quantum Mechanics in general. Newtons science, while useful as an engineering tool, was deeply flawed, that he concluded one thing based on its principles should have no bearing on our conclusions in the light of modern physics.

So, all that I'm asking, is that you approach this issue with the common understanding of 20th Century developments in physics, that you include discoveries that are now nearly 100 years old in your analysis, surely that isn't asking too much?
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« Reply #131 on: May 25, 2010, 06:58:45 PM »

He was a classic agnostic. And contrary to this Fundamentalist opinion of Sagan you've described, he spent his life devoted to teaching the wonders of science, the cosmos, history, and spent very little time trying to convince anyone there was no God.
Sagan would only speak out against religion (though he would typically refer to it as 'superstition') when it came into direct conflict with scientific evidence or with what he viewed as basic human rights.  He spoke out against creationism, medical restrictions based on religious texts (whether it was JWs and blood transfusions or stem cell research), alternative medicine, astrology, etc.  It was never out of malice though, but out of genuine concern for those who partake in them.

Quote
He would NEVER have said such a thing, and in fact felt that atheists were "some of the silliest people" he knew.
More or less.  He said that anyone who was a 100% Atheist was much smarter than he, and violating basic scientific thinking.

Quote
In fact, a lot of people say things about Dawkins that are in fact not really true either, and I used to be one of those, until I began reading his stuff. He is not nearly as vitriolic as most Christian anti-Dawkins folks are.
He is outspoken, but I hardly believe he garners some of the attacks he gets.  If you ever get the pleasure of meeting him in person, he is incredibly pleasant and even soft-spoken.

Quote
How the heck is that nihilistic? I find that many Christians, (myself included at one time) disparage atheists because of our own deep seeded doubts. Deep down WE would be nihilistic, or immoral, or see life as meaningless without God...but instead of admitting "well if there was no God I'd kill anyone I got ticked off at" we accuse atheists of having the same low moral quotient that we have. (only God keeps me moral, without God I'd be immoral, so too, all atheists must feel like ME). The problem is most atheists do NOT do immoral things, and do not live meaningless or nihilistic lives. There are plenty of stories in fact of people leaving behind faith, becoming atheists or agnostics and ending up with MORE meaning in their lives than they ever did as a believer. Why? Because they say, they realize THIS life is all we have, and we need to do our best, each day to love, laugh, help those in need, without the consolation that even if we screw up ours and everyone elses life around us, it will all be better in Heaven.
Well said.
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« Reply #132 on: May 25, 2010, 07:25:09 PM »

I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist.


Correction, Carl Sagan was NOT an atheist. He was a classic agnostic. And contrary to this Fundamentalist opinion of Sagan you've described, he spent his life devoted to teaching the wonders of science, the cosmos, history, and spent very little time trying to convince anyone there was no God. He would NEVER have said such a thing, and in fact felt that atheists were "some of the silliest people" he knew. His poor widow has been debunking this urban legend (that Sagan was a hardcore atheist) for many years now. Maybe if people would just take the time to actually READ some of his books, listen to his lectures, and watch his TV programs, people would stop saying this about Sagan. He was NOT an atheist.

In fact, a lot of people say things about Dawkins that are in fact not really true either, and I used to be one of those, until I began reading his stuff. He is not nearly as vitriolic as most Christian anti-Dawkins folks are.


Quote
If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.

Ann Druyan (Sagan's widow) told a story about how after Carl gave a lecture at a planetarium about the big bang, cosmic evolution and the like, afterwards a young man came up to him and almost in tears asked, "what am I supposed to do now that you've sucked all the meaning out of my life?" (apparently one lecture converted him from believer to atheist) Sagan paused, and then replied "go do something meaningful with your life!"

How the heck is that nihilistic?


That's not nihilistic; it's existential, which is the inevitable result of nihilism.

But thanks for clarifying the distinction between Dawkins and Sagan.


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« Reply #133 on: May 25, 2010, 09:16:17 PM »

More or less.  He said that anyone who was a 100% Atheist was much smarter than he, and violating basic scientific thinking.
Just for the record, Dawkins also states, in The God Delusion, that he is not a 100% atheist, either -- more like a 90% atheist. angel
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« Reply #134 on: May 25, 2010, 09:32:09 PM »

More or less.  He said that anyone who was a 100% Atheist was much smarter than he, and violating basic scientific thinking.
Just for the record, Dawkins also states, in The God Delusion, that he is not a 100% atheist, either -- more like a 90% atheist. angel
Yup, he lists himself as a 6.x on his 7 point scale.

"6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there."

Sagan would probably be between 5 and 6 on the same scale.

"5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be sceptical."
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« Reply #135 on: May 25, 2010, 09:34:04 PM »

More or less.  He said that anyone who was a 100% Atheist was much smarter than he, and violating basic scientific thinking.
Just for the record, Dawkins also states, in The God Delusion, that he is not a 100% atheist, either -- more like a 90% atheist. angel

Very true. He also says the same in this interview...

Interviewer: I was struck by one sentence in your book, in the middle of it: "God almost certainly does not exist."

Dawkins: Yes...

Interviewer: You're leaving open the possibility that He does...

Dawkins: Of course. Any scientist would leave open that possibility. You can't absolutely disprove the existence of anything. So, just as we can't disprove the existence of Thor and Zeus and the flying spaghetti monster, we can't be dogmatic and say "it is certain that God doesn't exist." We can say it is as unlikely as Thor with his hammer. I could call myself an aThorist to give the idea of that.
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« Reply #136 on: May 25, 2010, 11:13:49 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"
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« Reply #137 on: May 25, 2010, 11:15:25 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue
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« Reply #138 on: May 25, 2010, 11:29:11 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.
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« Reply #139 on: May 25, 2010, 11:57:42 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

Fair enough. Also, I must admit that I didn't find much that was especially thought provoking or original in The God Delusion, God is Not Great, etc., though perhaps that was not their aim.
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« Reply #140 on: May 26, 2010, 12:00:47 AM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.
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« Reply #141 on: May 26, 2010, 08:28:31 AM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?
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« Reply #142 on: May 26, 2010, 10:33:24 AM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?

Actually they do. By putting faith in the sciences of the study of origins they themselves have put faith into a logical system. Since that system hasn't proven the end of it's goal. It simply becomes a faith based system itself. It's ability to display fact based truths is greatly diminished at the moment that choosing is incorporated. When logic's require no faith but is fact orientated on proven constants. Then there is no longer a choice. Just the mere fact remains. Until that point that it may or may not happen. You are left with two choices. Both as equally faith based.
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« Reply #143 on: May 26, 2010, 10:35:03 AM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.
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« Reply #144 on: May 26, 2010, 12:27:53 PM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?

Actually they do. By putting faith in the sciences of the study of origins they themselves have put faith into a logical system. Since that system hasn't proven the end of it's goal. It simply becomes a faith based system itself. It's ability to display fact based truths is greatly diminished at the moment that choosing is incorporated. When logic's require no faith but is fact orientated on proven constants. Then there is no longer a choice. Just the mere fact remains. Until that point that it may or may not happen. You are left with two choices. Both as equally faith based.

Probability is not faith. I can assert with full logical confidence that if you role a fair die a thousand times, you will not role all sixes. Yes, from a purely theoretical perspective it's possible, but the odds of it happening are so low that it would be irrational to give it consideration.

Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.

The way you put it, you'd think the odds were 50/50...I don't really want to go through the process of giving my handicap to the question right now, but I will say that a 1/1000 chance of there being a god would probably still be too generous.
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« Reply #145 on: May 26, 2010, 12:30:29 PM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?

Within their proper domains, but with all due respect to Keats, beauty is not truth. But also in fairness to him, he'd probably agree within the context of this particular discussion.
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« Reply #146 on: May 26, 2010, 12:31:25 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Poetry and other forms of literature often are well-suited as mediums for the conveyance of the "dictates of logic" as understood by the writer.   

Famous atheists, from Lucretius to Jean-Paul Sartre, have utilized poetry with the "dictates of logic" in mind. 
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« Reply #147 on: May 26, 2010, 01:44:15 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.
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« Reply #148 on: May 26, 2010, 02:45:12 PM »

Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago.

Well, first of all I don't see any reason for "likewise" here, as this passage does not follow from the other, the word "probability" notwithstanding.

Second, the issue as to whether there is no sign of God in the universe is badly phrased. What one must really mean is that one does not accept what evidence or arguments are presented, because without such rejection one must accept that there is some divine.

This is the point at which we abandon science, in two senses. First, unless one counts history as science, or for that matter perhaps counts all of the liberal arts as science, there is no science which is adequate to speak to the matter. Physics most certainly is not: physics cannot tell us whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, nor can chemistry, biology, mathematics, or any other such theoretical analysis.

Second, in practice the "science" we get about religion is nothing better than a series of just-so stories. Religion is a real phenomenon, and thus demands an explanation; the rationalist explanations, however, are in my experience lacking in proof, even in proof which could be provided on rationalist terms. There's no reason to believe that "evolutionary psychological programming" has anything to do with religion, other than a faith in evolution which might as well be called religion itself. When someone can show a etiology that doesn't involve any supposition, then I'll give it a consideration; at this point we don't really know much at all about the connection between genetics and ideation.

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.
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« Reply #149 on: May 26, 2010, 02:51:47 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.
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« Reply #150 on: May 26, 2010, 03:07:44 PM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability. That's how neural networks and, by extension, how our brain (being a neural network) works. Neurons fire electrical impulses through our synapses that, in accordance with their strength and weight, with either trigger or not trigger the next neuron to fire based on a probabilistic chemical threshold. Millions or billions of neurons are firing in parallel, each with a probability attached to them. Probabilistic analysis is the very basis of human thought and intelligence. If there's no basis for assigning a probability to something, there's no basis for thinking about it (in fact, it would be theoretically impossible to 'think' about something without assigning a probability). We assign weights to our confidence in historical analysis, we assign weights to what we can extrapolate based on current scientific observations, etc.

Now we might not always agree with the weight each piece of information should have, with the calculations of probabilities, and so forth. But we can at least be honest and admit that a probabilistic analysis is the basis for our thoughts and beliefs as it gives us an honest and objective starting point.
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« Reply #151 on: May 26, 2010, 03:49:16 PM »

Millions of years of evolution shaped the mind as is claimed and yet hardly anything happened until the modern man conceived of divinity and then the intellect exploded. Somehow there is no divine spark involved in this just a biochemical process. Bare natural evolution seems a case of arrested development; something greater was infused into the human mind.
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« Reply #152 on: May 26, 2010, 04:06:01 PM »

Millions of years of evolution shaped the mind as is claimed and yet hardly anything happened until the modern man conceived of divinity and then the intellect exploded. Somehow there is no divine spark involved in this just a biochemical process. Bare natural evolution seems a case of arrested development; something greater was infused into the human mind.

You're joking, right? There's nothing in our genome compared to those of the other apes that shows any great change, simply a series of genetic mutations. Religion (or at least spiritualism) does not coincide with human intelligence because god created man, but because men created gods in rather poor attempts to explain the world around them.

Why is it that people tend to dismiss obvious scientific explanations in an attempt to cast themselves in a better light? Do you want to feel special? Well, let me be the one to break the cruel reality of the world to you. You're not special, you're not special as a species, you're not special as an individual, and in the grand scheme of things, you don't matter...and neither do I. Your parents love you because they're predisposed to want to see the advancement of their genes, as is the case with all your family, your spouse, if you have one, loves you because they see your well being in the interest of advancing their genes. So just accept reality and stop trying to make up stories to convince yourself that you're special and loved...because you're not special, and when you get down to it, being 'loved' really doesn't mean all that much and it would mean nothing if not for the reactions of your own neurology and endocrine system that are only there to cause you to advance your genome.
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« Reply #153 on: May 26, 2010, 04:44:41 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.


I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

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« Reply #154 on: May 26, 2010, 05:56:55 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.

I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.
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« Reply #155 on: May 26, 2010, 06:48:47 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.

The human race does not have a single herd morality.  Humans not only have the option to adopt and promote the status quo morality, but to promote a morality different from the prevailing one in society.  It often is the case that this once minority morality trumps the majority morality.  And frequently it is an individual who accomplishes it.  Approached from the naturalist perspective, I do not see how this could be anything other than genetic determinism. 

Animals cooperate in smaller groups, yes, but they have no concept of themselves as species.  Groups of the same species fight amongst one another over land and food, and males fight other males for domination over females.

One may say that humans evolved and realized that by killing their competitors, even whole groups, they could better secure their dominance.  They also, granted, learned that by banding together into larger and larger groups, they could accomplish more than as smaller units alone.   
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« Reply #156 on: May 26, 2010, 07:31:06 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.



I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

Though not twins, it is interesting how brothers Christopher Hitchens and Peter Hitchens have found themselves at opposite ends on numerous fundamentals. 
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« Reply #157 on: May 26, 2010, 07:44:25 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.

The human race does not have a single herd morality.  Humans not only have the option to adopt and promote the status quo morality, but to promote a morality different from the prevailing one in society.  It often is the case that this once minority morality trumps the majority morality.  And frequently it is an individual who accomplishes it.  Approached from the naturalist perspective, I do not see how this could be anything other than genetic determinism. 

The examples where we're governed by our herd mentality far outweigh the examples of an individual changing the world. Plus, even when an individual changes the world, he usually heavily relies on the herd mentality to accomplish it. Everything from what we wear to what we eat to how we talk to where we live to how we vote for government is motivated by a herd mentality. A mentality that is being exploited every time you see an advertisement, hear a politician, attend a sporting event, etc. Even in non-conformist groups there tends to be conformity within the community. Sure, people someone challenges for dominance of the herd,  but where in nature is this not the case? From ancient Greece to the plebes of Rome to the serfs of the Feudal age to Marx to the latest Commercial telling me how cool the newest cellphone model with a facebook app is, the people are always a mob, a mindless mass, something to be controlled by those most skilled, those most worthy of dominance over the herd.

In general, people want to be safe, have resources, and have sex and as a secondary concern, social status, because it give us these other things...basically, on the most fundamental level, people want to pass on their genes. Formal rules of morality have been implemented to secure these things for the most powerful individual or group. Enlightenment is nothing more than expanding the scope of this 'most powerful group', ideally to encompass all of society.

Quote
Animals cooperate in smaller groups, yes, but they have no concept of themselves as species.  Groups of the same species fight amongst one another over land and food,

And humans have never done that? Do we spend nearly a trillion dollars a year on military expenditures because we have no intention of having to fight over land or resources?

Quote
and males fight other males for domination over females.

We have pretty close parallels, a jealous boyfriend getting in a fight because he things someone else is hitting on his girlfriend is far from uncommon. But we've escalated these hormonal struggles to a whole level, lest we forget Helen of Troy, 'the face that launched a thousand ships.' Then in much of the world we have honour killings and a death penalty for adultery: 'if she won't pass on my genes, she won't pass on any genes.'  Oh, how we have evolved. As Christopher Hitchens likes to put it: 'Our prefrontal lobes are too small while our adrenal glands are too big.' We are not some advanced and noble species, we are only half a step away from being chimpanzees, we're a species that has developed the means of sophisticated communication, which has allowed abstract thought and planning, with this we've changed the world around us. But as for who WE are, we're animals, no more noble in our pursuits and desires than any other ape, we simply use our advanced knowledge to achieve the same thing any animal wants security, food, and sex, not necessarily in that order.

Quote
One may say that humans evolved and realized that by killing their competitors, even whole groups, they could better secure their dominance.  They also, granted, learned that by banding together into larger and larger groups, they could accomplish more than as smaller units alone.   

Yes, ability to communicate has allowed an infinitely more sophisticated social structure, but that doesn't change who we are...what we are.
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« Reply #158 on: May 26, 2010, 07:46:44 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.



I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

Though not twins, it is interesting how brothers Christopher Hitchens and Peter Hitchens have found themselves at opposite ends on numerous fundamentals. 

They're a lot more alike than they are different, sure they have different ideologies, but they both also have different ideologies today than they held in their youth. And it's the fact that they both have that arrogant and abrasive personality that they rarely talk to each other today. Their problem is not that they're too different, but that they're too similar.
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« Reply #159 on: May 26, 2010, 10:10:49 PM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?
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« Reply #160 on: May 26, 2010, 11:51:04 PM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability.

It doesn't have a probability unless it has a number (not to mention, if one wants to be picky, a random process), and we don't have a number; you're just making up a number.

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That's how neural networks and, by extension, how our brain (being a neural network) works.

The truth is that we don't know whether the brain is a neural network, if we take the latter in the strict sense of being the mathematical model to which we have given the name. And never mind the much more troublesome problem that we don't know how the brain represents a thought. This is exactly the kind of just-so thinking to which I'm objecting. When we get to the point that we can look into a brain having religious experience and see a detailed etiology of the phenomenon, then there will a basis for making claims. Right now, it's just speculation and assumption that we will be able to get to that stage.

Quote
Now we might not always agree with the weight each piece of information should have, with the calculations of probabilities, and so forth. But we can at least be honest and admit that a probabilistic analysis is the basis for our thoughts and beliefs as it gives us an honest and objective starting point.

I don't have to admit any such thing. It's up to neuroscience to demonstrate it.
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« Reply #161 on: May 27, 2010, 12:29:50 AM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?

Twins will have very, very different experiences during gestation. But considering a percent more or less of a given hormone during gestation and you'd probably be a completely different person today, that's far from surprising. And since when is environmental impact minimal for those living in the same household? On their first day of life, one might have had to wait slightly longer to eat, thus changing his mood, changing his perception. Perhaps only slightly altered, but one perception affects another and one that early, no matter how mundane, serves as the very basis of our experience in the world. It's chaos theory, a few, basic, simple inputs differing by a mere fraction of a percent have the potential to create two entirely distinct systems.
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« Reply #162 on: May 27, 2010, 01:10:18 AM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability.

It doesn't have a probability unless it has a number (not to mention, if one wants to be picky, a random process), and we don't have a number; you're just making up a number.

The fact that you have an opinion implies you have a number, though you may not know if off hand. But your neurons only fire when the electrical charge on them reaches a chemically determined threshold, that very fact tells us that it's subject to a mathematical model and, therefore, quantifiable.

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That's how neural networks and, by extension, how our brain (being a neural network) works.

The truth is that we don't know whether the brain is a neural network, if we take the latter in the strict sense of being the mathematical model to which we have given the name. And never mind the much more troublesome problem that we don't know how the brain represents a thought. This is exactly the kind of just-so thinking to which I'm objecting. When we get to the point that we can look into a brain having religious experience and see a detailed etiology of the phenomenon, then there will a basis for making claims. Right now, it's just speculation and assumption that we will be able to get to that stage.

Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network. We do know that the brain is a Turing machine. If you disagree, prove it by telling me the 10-state 2-symbol busy beaver? At least tell me someone who can?  Should be a very simple task for someone capable of solving non-computable functions, that is to say, someone who's brain is more advanced than a Turing Machine. The fact is that no one can solve non-computable functions, because our minds are Turing Machines.

Therefore, it is obvious that the brain is a Turing Machine and all Turing Machines are computationally equivalent to a neural network. Therefore we can discuss all Turing Machines, and thus the human brain, in terms of neural networks.

So back to the discussion at hand, if it makes you feel better you can substitute references to the 'neural network that is the brain' with 'the neural network that models and emulates the brain'. Now, can I stop explaining the obvious?

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Now we might not always agree with the weight each piece of information should have, with the calculations of probabilities, and so forth. But we can at least be honest and admit that a probabilistic analysis is the basis for our thoughts and beliefs as it gives us an honest and objective starting point.

I don't have to admit any such thing. It's up to neuroscience to demonstrate it.


Ok, now answer the question in reference to the computationally-equivalent neural network that models the brain.
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« Reply #163 on: May 27, 2010, 01:55:21 AM »

Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network. We do know that the brain is a Turing machine. If you disagree, prove it by telling me the 10-state 2-symbol busy beaver? At least tell me someone who can?  Should be a very simple task for someone capable of solving non-computable functions, that is to say, someone who's brain is more advanced than a Turing Machine. The fact is that no one can solve non-computable functions, because our minds are Turing Machines.
You certainly go all out don't you? Tongue  We haven't even come to a consensus over the popular solutions for the 5-state and 6-state busy beavers, and you are already shooting at 10.  laugh
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« Reply #164 on: May 27, 2010, 04:12:00 AM »

Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network. We do know that the brain is a Turing machine. If you disagree, prove it by telling me the 10-state 2-symbol busy beaver? At least tell me someone who can?  Should be a very simple task for someone capable of solving non-computable functions, that is to say, someone who's brain is more advanced than a Turing Machine. The fact is that no one can solve non-computable functions, because our minds are Turing Machines.
You certainly go all out don't you? Tongue  We haven't even come to a consensus over the popular solutions for the 5-state and 6-state busy beavers, and you are already shooting at 10.  laugh

Well, heck, if I've finally found someone who can compute non-computable functions, I want to jump in and take advantage. Wink

Plus, I didn't want to bring up a state that had established champion machines and have to go through another debate about whether or not current champion 5-state machine is a busy beaver or not. Tongue
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« Reply #165 on: May 27, 2010, 06:42:45 AM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability.

It doesn't have a probability unless it has a number (not to mention, if one wants to be picky, a random process), and we don't have a number; you're just making up a number.

The fact that you have an opinion implies you have a number, though you may not know if off hand. But your neurons only fire when the electrical charge on them reaches a chemically determined threshold, that very fact tells us that it's subject to a mathematical model and, therefore, quantifiable.

I am pretty sure that we cannot with assurance demonstrate that this is exactly how neurons work, much less that the composition of all neural activity can be represented by a number in this manner. We continue to find lots of interesting things about the way neurons interact, such as the fact that in some neurons at least the dendrites form their own little circuit as well as accepting inputs for the main output.

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Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network.

I'm willing to further than that. I'll assume it, not for sake of argument, but for the sake of science. Given the consistent failure of models of mental activity, I don't think that there is any reason to accept any such model until demonstration is forthcoming.

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We do know that the brain is a Turing machine.

Wait a minute: we know perfectly well that the brain is NOT a Turing machine! Even the very computer I'm using now is not a Turing machine; some fundamental aspects of its behavior can be modelled by a Turing machine, but not its overall behavior. The whole analogy of the brain to computing is one of the most pervasive just-so stories out there, but until someone produces the details of how the brain "computes", and especially how its low level "computation" translates into the higher level "computations" performed in thinking, it's really nothing more than bad poetry.  I don't have to accept that the brain can be modelled by a computer program until someone actually does it, and as Joseph Weizenbaum wrote back in the mid-1980s, people are in general so forgiving of the Turing test that it's essentially worthless.
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« Reply #166 on: May 27, 2010, 06:48:06 AM »

Millions of years of evolution shaped the mind as is claimed and yet hardly anything happened until the modern man conceived of divinity and then the intellect exploded. Somehow there is no divine spark involved in this just a biochemical process. Bare natural evolution seems a case of arrested development; something greater was infused into the human mind.

You're joking, right? There's nothing in our genome compared to those of the other apes that shows any great change, simply a series of genetic mutations. Religion (or at least spiritualism) does not coincide with human intelligence because god created man, but because men created gods in rather poor attempts to explain the world around them.

Why is it that people tend to dismiss obvious scientific explanations in an attempt to cast themselves in a better light? Do you want to feel special? Well, let me be the one to break the cruel reality of the world to you. You're not special, you're not special as a species, you're not special as an individual, and in the grand scheme of things, you don't matter...and neither do I. Your parents love you because they're predisposed to want to see the advancement of their genes, as is the case with all your family, your spouse, if you have one, loves you because they see your well being in the interest of advancing their genes. So just accept reality and stop trying to make up stories to convince yourself that you're special and loved...because you're not special, and when you get down to it, being 'loved' really doesn't mean all that much and it would mean nothing if not for the reactions of your own neurology and endocrine system that are only there to cause you to advance your genome.
Its kind of interesting when seeing a past post of yours from 2005 that you had  once described yourself as a theocratic monarchist. It seems logical that one should be wary of succumbing to tyrannical tendencies whether one be a theologian or a scientist.
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« Reply #167 on: May 27, 2010, 07:06:23 AM »

Let me put my objection more baldly: one can postulate that one could model the behavior of the brain through a sort of reductionism, by creating elements that mimic constituent parts and elements that combine those interactions. But somewhere along the line one has to have a reasonable expectation of being able to construct the model, and I don't think it's unreasonable to insist that this expectation needs to be grounded in some successes in modelling! As it stands there's nothing standing in the way of that model having to reproduce the quantum behavior of individual molecules. And when the actual reproduction of that model could require a machine the size of the galaxy, it becomes increasingly implausible that a real model could actually be presented.

It does not follow, by the way, that non-Turing behavior implies the ability to solve non-computable problems. The real problem is that it's impossible to identify whether human behavior is or is not computable without actually computing it.
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« Reply #168 on: May 27, 2010, 09:35:03 AM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?

Twins will have very, very different experiences during gestation. But considering a percent more or less of a given hormone during gestation and you'd probably be a completely different person today, that's far from surprising. And since when is environmental impact minimal for those living in the same household? On their first day of life, one might have had to wait slightly longer to eat, thus changing his mood, changing his perception. Perhaps only slightly altered, but one perception affects another and one that early, no matter how mundane, serves as the very basis of our experience in the world. It's chaos theory, a few, basic, simple inputs differing by a mere fraction of a percent have the potential to create two entirely distinct systems.

Is it safe to brand you as a scientific fundamentalist.  laugh In that everything must be in alignment through the lens of science even if it's unprovable using that method. While I must agree the potential could be there, the advancements just aren't in place and while I would never phantom abandoning them in favor of strict adherence to religion. I certainly don't make it into a fundamentalist belief system without the possibility of being proven wrong like you do. Wink
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« Reply #169 on: May 27, 2010, 11:29:17 AM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where peop