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Author Topic: Criticism of Atheism  (Read 14338 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 30, 2010, 10:05:17 PM »

This is an article I just translated by a Brazilian philosopher criticizing the mainstream militants of atheism, for you appreciation.

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Olavo de Carvalho - 23/12/2010 - 19h40

The crooks' "debate" techniques have been very simplified in the last years. They no longer appeal to the refinements of the old sophists, nor to the trickeries of the false rhetoric which Aristotle called eristics. To save time, or maybe for laziness and incompetence to study these things, they transfer the challenge from the field of logic to that of psychological manipulation, seeking not to persuade or confound, but simply to intimidate and subjugate.

The method to obtain such a result is simple. With an innocent countenance they throw shocking or insulting statements in a deceivingly sophisticated language. Next, they impose to the adversary rules of politeness that exclude every possibility of complaining or any proper reaction. To the poor victim there is no other way but to submit to the chicanery, timidly trying to move in a field defined to humiliate him.

The polemicists who have stood up the most in employing these techniques are the Four Asses of the Apocalypse - Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett - whose goal is to wipe out religion from the face of Earth, imposing the cult of "reason" and of "science".

They do not hate all religions equally. Their bête noire is Christianity and, in particular, Catholics, in whom they behold the greatest enemies of humanity. For reasons we shall soon see, they would rather destroy them by means of a generic attack against "religion", hoping, rather reasonably, that the suppression of the gender brings the annihilation of the species.

The issue is that "religion", in the way they use it, is not a historically identifiable entity; it's not even a concept. It's a fetish word, a verbal straw-man with meanings that include, with no distinction, Christianity, Gnosis, state worship of the Caesars, witchcraft, shamanism, astrology, alchemy and esoterism in general, all indian religions, Mormonism, ufology, spiritualism and who knows how many more, giving them a fictional unity by using a common word.

Next, they give to the amorphous entity the unity of a conscious subject, able to take decisions and act - of having moral responsibility - and then proceed with the judgment of this weird creature. In such conditions, condemnation  is inevitable. With so diverse historical incarnations, heterogeneous and mutually incompatible, "religion" can escape almost none of the accusations made on it. Omnipresent and undefined, the imaginary monstrosity takes the blame for all the evils that affect the human race. And because what is general applies to all particular cases, each existing "religion" bears not only its own faults, but those of the group, and by attribution, the faults of the other ones.

The normality, the flamboyance and the frequency with which the four idols of the atheistic militancy appeal to this transfer of guilt would suffice to list them among the greatest intellectual cheaters of all times. Just to give one example: in one of his last polemical charges, Christopher Hitchens concluded that Nazism was a Christian Catholic regime because German soldiers of World War II bore on their belts the phrase "Gott mit uns" (God is with us), and, therefore, the Roman Church was to be blamed for the war, the Holocaust etc.

The missing detail is that although Hitler was not an Atheist, he was not Catholic. He was a gnostic, engaged in reshaping the Gospel and in actualizing an earthly Judgment Day without waiting for the heavenly one. For that, he used to say, it was necessary "to crush the Catholic Church like you step on a toad".

Gnosticism is the oldest and wildest enemy of the Church, which condemns it as the root of all heresies. But, for Christopher Hitchens this makes no difference. Catholicism is "religion", gnosticism is "religion": their faults are, thus, interchangeable. But isn't gnosticism a pseudo-religion? It matters not: pseudo-religion is religion.

The most constant and efficient use of this trick has been to claim that the deeds of the Islamic terrorists are proof of how dangerous... Christianity is! And atheism, isn't it guilt of anything? The most striking fact of modern history is that the atheistic ideology of communism killed more people, in a few decades, than all the religious wars since the beginning of the world.

From a rational point of view, thus, there shouldn't be reason for discussing which is worse, atheism or religions - all of them put together. How do the Four Asses get out of that? They say communism is also "religion", and the problem is solved. "Religions", in particular Catholicism, are now guilty of all the crimes of the governments that killed the largest number of believers and religious people in name of scientific atheism.

Being an atheist, say the Four, consists merely in the refusal of believing in God - any God - and not in advancing any goals or concrete values. Thus conceived, atheism is just an inner attitude, with no identifiable historical incarnation and can't, by definition, be accused of anything.

The fact that in practice this atheism never limits itself to the refusal to believe, but brings with it the apology of "reason" and "science", can't make it responsible for the crimes of the scientific ideologies of Marxism and Nazism, because, according to the Four, they were not based on science, but on pseudoscience.

I will not even ask with which legitimacy the concept of "pseudo", forbidden to the defenders of religion, could suddenly reappear as a valid distinctive criteria. I do not ask either with which right they appeal to the distinction of science and pseudoscience as it were something obvious, primary and automatic, when it seems to have escaped completely from a whole constellation of eminent Marxist scientists.

What seems most beautiful in this jink is appealing to the notion of "purity", denied to the defenders of religion. According to the Four, that Marx or even Darwin himself openly defended the systematic killing of "inferior peoples" does not make their atheism guilty of anything, because, when proposing this murderous idea, they didn't do it for a coherent devotion to scientific and rational atheism, but for a brief religious temptation...

Reduced to a pure idea, or, more exactly, to the personal version this idea assumes in the heads of the Four Asses, atheism is as innocent, as untouchable as a geometric figure in the heavens of platonic forms.

This is the debate that the Four put forward. Just like communists propose the confrontation of the innocence of their ideal society and the evils and sins of the existing society. Just like Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in “Ideals and Realities of Islam”, compares the beauties of his ideal Islam to the ugliness of the Western societies historically known. The demand for a honest confrontation - comparing ideals with ideals, realities with realities - is dodged a priori. For the adversaries of the Four rests only the inglorious task of defending, in vain, reality from ideal.

With the help of their editors and billionaire marketing people, such has been the "invitation to debate" the Four offer to whom may be naïve enough to fall for the cheat. The strictness in the demand for academic politeness is what makes impossible the denunciation of the essential cheat which created and shaped the invitation. Once the cheat is debunked, though, all the fake intellectual respectability of Hitchens and his partners falls into pieces. It is not healthy to discuss politely with cheaters, because denouncing the trick is forbidden, in limine, as an awful insult.

Olavo de Carvalho is an essayist, journalist and teacher of philosophy
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2010, 11:03:07 PM »

They do not hate all religions equally. Their bête noire is Christianity and, in particular, Catholics, in whom they behold the greatest enemies of humanity.

This isn't true. Hitchens has also attacked Buddhism, emphasizing that not only must people move away from Christianity, but "there is no Eastern solution." And of course Hitchens has stood against Islam many a time.

I find the New Atheists to be a tiring group of anti-intellectual demogogues (at least earlier atheist apologists like Mackie tried to clearly and carefully argue their points), but if you want to beat them, you have to understand them first.
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2010, 11:43:54 PM »

They do not hate all religions equally. Their bête noire is Christianity and, in particular, Catholics, in whom they behold the greatest enemies of humanity.

This isn't true. Hitchens has also attacked Buddhism, emphasizing that not only must people move away from Christianity, but "there is no Eastern solution." And of course Hitchens has stood against Islam many a time.

I find the New Atheists to be a tiring group of anti-intellectual demogogues (at least earlier atheist apologists like Mackie tried to clearly and carefully argue their points), but if you want to beat them, you have to understand them first.

But it is true, there is quite a stance on anti-Christianity and I would argue that Hitchens sways much of his argumentation against Christianity. This is because every religion besides Christianity can be disproven, can see its fallacies and falsehood. But also at the same time there seems to be an "outrage" going on against the ignorant Christians who may disregard certain inconsistiences or seeming contradictions in the Bible. This is what the "New Atheists" don't understand because they don't understand the context of which these books of the Bible were written. One final point I would add is Christianity is the world's largest religion, which has 2.2 billion followers and it's popularity will sure have more attention towards it.

Anytime you make an argument against Christ and his teachings, you have to understand the society that was there at the time which was much different than the post-enlightenment worldview we have today. We can't look in the ancient world with that view, it is impossible.

More back to the point, I believe Richard Dawkins recently conceded to saying that the Christian God is the only God that would be plausible for the existence of a god. This is another reason for such scrutiny against Christianity.
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2010, 11:53:49 PM »

More back to the point, I believe Richard Dawkins recently conceded to saying that the Christian God is the only God that would be plausible for the existence of a god. This is another reason for such scrutiny against Christianity.

I would love to read that quote by Dawkins you mention!
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2010, 12:02:58 AM »

More back to the point, I believe Richard Dawkins recently conceded to saying that the Christian God is the only God that would be plausible for the existence of a god. This is another reason for such scrutiny against Christianity.
I'd be interested is seeing proof of that.

I've heard him say that a reasonable case could be put forward for the existence of the deist god, but it wouldn't be a case he would accept.
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2010, 02:51:35 AM »

More back to the point, I believe Richard Dawkins recently conceded to saying that the Christian God is the only God that would be plausible for the existence of a god. This is another reason for such scrutiny against Christianity.

I would love to read that quote by Dawkins you mention!

Hmm I may have been mistaken for the actual quote since it doesn't suggest what I asserted, my apologies. Here's what I originally referring to:
Quote
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7085129.ece

That Dawkins can make a bigoted remark only demonstrates that Dawkins can make a bigoted remark.

And frankly it's not all that shocking.

On Intelligent Design:
Quote
"Well, it could come about in the following way, it could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization... [came] to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility, an intriguing possibility, and I suppose it's possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry and molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer. And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe." -- Richard Dawkins, biologist, 2008
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2010, 03:33:04 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2010, 03:34:44 AM »

More back to the point, I believe Richard Dawkins recently conceded to saying that the Christian God is the only God that would be plausible for the existence of a god. This is another reason for such scrutiny against Christianity.
I'd be interested is seeing proof of that.

I've heard him say that a reasonable case could be put forward for the existence of the deist god, but it wouldn't be a case he would accept.

I've never heard him say that before either, and based on what I've heard from him, it would seem a very unlikely statement.
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2010, 03:36:42 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

You mean the sacredness of life?
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2010, 03:49:22 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

You mean the sacredness of life?

I think this is the definition that I am mostly referring to:

"Sacred - 4. Hence, not to be profaned or violated; inviolable." (inviolable: esp. in the sense that something is not to be dishonored)

http://define.com/sacred

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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2010, 02:36:25 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).
Reason (as they understand it) is their sacred principle.
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2010, 02:36:44 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2010, 03:08:12 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

Well, let me offer a practical example:



Upon seeing a t-shirt like this, someone might very well say, "wow, is anything sacred anymore?"

It is this type of thinking that I believe the new atheism movement is furthering to advance which I find disturbing.
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2010, 03:44:06 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2010, 05:56:00 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I agree. There are atheists in the world who understand art, beauty, philosophy, etc., but the current crop of 2-dimensional demagogues won't produce anything of the calibre of H.P. Lovecraft.
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« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2011, 01:47:44 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

Well, let me offer a practical example:



Upon seeing a t-shirt like this, someone might very well say, "wow, is anything sacred anymore?"

It is this type of thinking that I believe the new atheism movement is furthering to advance which I find disturbing.

What a shame that people aren't ashamed of exercising what has been determiend to be a constitutional right. Roll Eyes I guess I fail to get your point.
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« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2011, 01:53:51 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.
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« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2011, 02:00:26 AM »

I found this to be particularly salient. I've seen this very thing demonstrated on this forum all too often:

"The crooks' "debate" techniques have been very simplified in the last years. They no longer appeal to the refinements of the old sophists, nor to the trickeries of the false rhetoric which Aristotle called eristics. To save time, or maybe for laziness and incompetence to study these things, they transfer the challenge from the field of logic to that of psychological manipulation, seeking not to persuade or confound, but simply to intimidate and subjugate.

The method to obtain such a result is simple. With an innocent countenance they throw shocking or insulting statements in a deceivingly sophisticated language. Next, they impose to the adversary rules of politeness that exclude every possibility of complaining or any proper reaction. To the poor victim there is no other way but to submit to the chicanery, timidly trying to move in a field defined to humiliate him."



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« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2011, 02:07:25 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

But what is real?
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« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2011, 02:19:40 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

But what is real?

That which has the highest correlation to verifiable observation.
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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2011, 02:25:21 AM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

But what is real?

That which has the highest correlation to verifiable observation.

And does this observation have to be verifiable by the majority, the subject matter experts, a select few, or just by a few people?
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« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2011, 12:48:05 PM »

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

Says the brain in the vat. 
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« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2011, 03:59:20 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

But what is real?

That which has the highest correlation to verifiable observation.

And does this observation have to be verifiable by the majority, the subject matter experts, a select few, or just by a few people?

It should, ideally, be verifiable by anyone who follows the same set of steps that were used to make the original observation. In a few very select fields, such as astronomy, this isn't always possible because the observations are time dependent. In these cases, prediction is essential: prior to the event, the steps required to verify the observation should be published and anyone who follows these steps at the predicted time and from the predicted locations should be able to verify the predicted observation.

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« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2011, 04:01:49 PM »

Interesting... Thank you very much...
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« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2011, 04:45:19 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

Well, let me offer a practical example:



Upon seeing a t-shirt like this, someone might very well say, "wow, is anything sacred anymore?"

It is this type of thinking that I believe the new atheism movement is furthering to advance which I find disturbing.

What a shame that people aren't ashamed of exercising what has been determiend to be a constitutional right. Roll Eyes I guess I fail to get your point.

Let me expound on this point if I may. This t-shirt and others like it are part of an active campaign to de-sensitive the public to the idea of abortion and to reduce the associated stigma with the procedure. In fact, it is almost as if one wears it like a badge of honor, much like how someone would wear a t-shirt that had a logo of the New York Yankees on it. I find this to be particularly disturbing, but I also find this way of thinking to be augmented and supported by a worldview which asserts that a fetus in the womb is nothing more than a cluster of cells that can be removed or destroyed at a whim.

In my opinion, abortion is a very serious issue, which is to be properly understood as having very serious consequences. We are dealing with a real life here, a human life that has it's genetic mapping all sorted out, and is flourishing in the womb. To snuff out such should be considered a very solemn act indeed. I mean, what's next..t-shirts that say, "I pulled the plug on my grandma"? I hope you can see how this ties into my argument of the importance of the concept of the sacred, and the sacred nature of life in particular.
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« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2011, 05:05:13 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

By the same reasoning couldn't I argue against anything you claim to be reality?  Beauty might be a psychological response, but that doesn't mean that it is any less real than a star or blade of grass or atom.  For what is observation but a neurological response that has been programmed into us by the same evolution? 

Just because I know the wall I see is an optical response created by the reaction of light on the retinal nerve doesn't mean I can rise above my evolutionary programming and keep driving straight ahead.  By ignoring my evolutionary programming in this circumstance I take myself outside of evolution altogether!

The idea of the "beautiful" and the "sacred" is still evolutionarily advantageous to our species.  I find a forest beautiful, and good thing, because it keeps the carbon dioxide levels down and emits the oxygen my species needs to survive.  I find a woman beautiful, she happens to hold the preferred genes for the continuation and betterment of my species.  I hold life sacred, especially human life, and this prevents my species from going into extinction due to genocide or atomic war.

Even if you take the observation of the senses out of the equation and hold to strictly what is mathematically provable, you still can't rid us of beauty.  Beauty can be mathematically defined, we prefer certain patterns because of the mathematical soundness inherent in them.  The human face possessed by the person with the best genetic contributions will have a more perfect proportion.  The forest grows according to mathematical principles we still don't entirely comprehend.  And life holds within it a near infinite mathematical complexity and harmony.
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« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2011, 05:24:52 PM »

GiC just a question to ask, but do you have a girlfriend or wife?
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« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2011, 05:32:44 PM »

Also I quite like this from Elder Paisios:

Quote
Although the modern rationalist worldview was born in Western Europe during the Enlightenment era, it has progressively been inundating the entire world, including Orthodox lands such as Greece. Therefore, when Elder Paisios speaks to the spiritual malady of rationalism in contemporary Greece, he is also speaking to our spiritual malady in America and the West.

Ultimately, the malady of modern rationalism comes down to one essential ingredient: trusting the conclusions of one’s logical mind. We of the modern West have been raised with an underlying assumption, summed up in the well-known phrase of Rene Descartes at the beginning of the Enlightenment era: "I think, therefore I am." The worldview of modern rationalism, having lost an awareness of the immortal soul in man, leads us to believe that our thoughts are v/ho we are, and, conversely, that we are the sum total of our thoughts. Therefore, we automatically feel that we have to trust our thoughts, to take a stand for them, to defend them as we would our own flesh and blood.

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

Elsewhere Elder Paisius counseled: "We ought always to be careful and be in constant hesitation about whether things are really as we think. For when someone is constantly occupied with his thoughts and trusts in them, the devil will manage things in such a way that he will make the man evil, even if by nature he was good.

"The ancient fathers did not trust their thoughts at all, but even in the smallest things, when they had to give an answer, they addressed the matter in their prayer, joining to it fasting, in order in some way to ‘force’ Divine Grace to inform them what was the right answer according to God. And when they received the ‘information,’ they gave the answer.

"Today I observe that even with great matters, when someone asks, before he has even had the time to complete his question, we interrupt him and answer him. This shows that not only do we not seek enlightenment from the Grace of God, but we do not even judge with the reason God gave us. On the contrary, whatever our thoughts suggest to us, immediately, without hesitation, we trust it and consent to it, often with disastrous results.

"Almost all of us view thoughts as being something simple and natural, and that is why we naively trust them. However, we should neither trust them nor accept them.

"Thoughts are like airplanes flying in the air. If you ignore them, there is no problem. If you pay attention to them, you create an airport inside your head and permit them to land!" (Ibid., pp. 29-30, 48).
http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/elder_paisios_mount_athos.htm
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« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2011, 05:42:19 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.
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« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2011, 05:53:53 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.
I read Elder Paisios as saying that too much thinking, not thinking merely, is the problem.
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« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2011, 05:57:47 PM »

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism.

Ah yes, because atheism is the natural outcome of logical thinking and rationalism  Roll Eyes

Quote
Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

You're mistaking "religion" for unthinking irrationality.  Try applying some of this supposed logical thinking and rationalism that you think you're utilizing and start to think above your false representations and silly mischaracterizations.
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« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2011, 06:10:11 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.

No, we shouldn't be spreading atheism. I sick of other non-theist spewing that garage.

Being an atheist is not a ticket to being a rational human being.  I think it is better picked apart by it's socio-political aspects.



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« Reply #32 on: January 01, 2011, 06:17:27 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.

Actually, recent studies show that if people were trying to make decisions based solely on logic we would get stuck in a loop.  All logic can tell us is what the outcome(s) of a particular decision might be, not which outcome is preferable.  Preference is a value judgment, and thus ruled by the intuitive and emotional parts of the brain.
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« Reply #33 on: January 01, 2011, 07:18:48 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.

Actually, recent studies show that if people were trying to make decisions based solely on logic we would get stuck in a loop.  All logic can tell us is what the outcome(s) of a particular decision might be, not which outcome is preferable.  Preference is a value judgment, and thus ruled by the intuitive and emotional parts of the brain.
Depends on what you are trying to decide.

Logic works very well on math problems...not so well on what color to paint a room.
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« Reply #34 on: January 01, 2011, 07:25:49 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

There is tremendous beauty and consistency in the universe.  To me, that holds quite a sacred value to creation.

The fact that we are advanced enough to manipulate things in this world, and eventually in the universe holds an even higher level of sacredness.

But we have come to understand that 'beauty' is nothing but a psychological response that has been programmed into us by evolution. It is an accomplishment to understand this fact, to rise above our evolutionary programming, and to dismiss what we want to believe in favour of what is real.

By the same reasoning couldn't I argue against anything you claim to be reality?  Beauty might be a psychological response, but that doesn't mean that it is any less real than a star or blade of grass or atom.  For what is observation but a neurological response that has been programmed into us by the same evolution? 

Just because I know the wall I see is an optical response created by the reaction of light on the retinal nerve doesn't mean I can rise above my evolutionary programming and keep driving straight ahead.  By ignoring my evolutionary programming in this circumstance I take myself outside of evolution altogether!

The idea of the "beautiful" and the "sacred" is still evolutionarily advantageous to our species.  I find a forest beautiful, and good thing, because it keeps the carbon dioxide levels down and emits the oxygen my species needs to survive.  I find a woman beautiful, she happens to hold the preferred genes for the continuation and betterment of my species.  I hold life sacred, especially human life, and this prevents my species from going into extinction due to genocide or atomic war.

Even if you take the observation of the senses out of the equation and hold to strictly what is mathematically provable, you still can't rid us of beauty.  Beauty can be mathematically defined, we prefer certain patterns because of the mathematical soundness inherent in them.  The human face possessed by the person with the best genetic contributions will have a more perfect proportion.  The forest grows according to mathematical principles we still don't entirely comprehend.  And life holds within it a near infinite mathematical complexity and harmony.

My thoughts exactly.  Couldn't have said it better myself.  What is shaped by evolution is necessarily that which is shaped by nature.  If beauty is in nature, surely, our brain develops both an emotional and a logical sense of what beauty is.  Just as evolution shapes my discernment of colors, so in beauty, sacredness, and value of things around us.
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« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2011, 07:43:03 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.

Actually, recent studies show that if people were trying to make decisions based solely on logic we would get stuck in a loop.  All logic can tell us is what the outcome(s) of a particular decision might be, not which outcome is preferable.  Preference is a value judgment, and thus ruled by the intuitive and emotional parts of the brain.
Depends on what you are trying to decide.

Logic works very well on math problems...not so well on what color to paint a room.

Math isn't making a decision.  When I look at 2+2 (assuming base 10) there is no decision as to what the sum is, I can prefer 5 or 12 all day long, but the answer is 4.  Pi is always going to be equal to the circumference divided by the diameter, no matter how lazy I'm feeling 3.14 is always going to be short an infinite amount of decimal places.

Questions like should I have the grapefruit or the orange, or should I date this girl or that one, or how should I treat this particular person I am interacting with have no logical solution.  All logic can tell me is that the grapefruit tastes different than the orange, it's up to me if I prefer bitter or sweet.  Logic might tell me that one girl will make me happier while the other turns me on more, it's my preference as to whether or not I'd prefer happiness or miserable indulgence. 
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« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2011, 08:13:15 PM »

Here's a few problems I have with accepting the belief in the Christian God

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Christians cannot reconcile this, try as they might.

Evil comes from God.

Isaiah 45:7: "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."
Lamentations 3:38: "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"
Jeremiah 18:11: "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."
Ezekiel 20:25,26: "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord."

Contrary to popular belief, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
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« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2011, 08:41:38 PM »


Contrary to popular belief, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.


Awesome logical fallacy bro.
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« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2011, 08:53:40 PM »

Here's a few problems I have with accepting the belief in the Christian God

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Christians cannot reconcile this, try as they might.


God is willing that man should have free will.  This creates the possibility for evil.  Man can choose either God, and by choosing God do good, or man can choose to do evil.  As God is Good, and the created order is good, by definition preventing evil is limiting the choice for man to just good, and thus just God.  God is All-powerful, but God is also humble.  Indeed, we have the example of God the Word, begotten of the Father before all creation, who counted equality with the Father as His right; He emptied Himself, taking on the form and likeness of a man, condescending to be born of a Virgin, and chose service to His father over His birthright.  He humbled Himself even further, so that He who could not know death knew Death, His humiliation going so far as being cursed by hanging on a cross.

Was He willing to prevent evil, and thus negate any choice man would make?  No, for that would not have been Love.  Instead He chose to overcome evil with Good.  He does not fit in any little a=b boxes we try to place Him in, rather He tells us He is neither a, nor b, nor even c, that a only equals b from our limited perception, and that c is greater than we could imagine.

Quote
Evil comes from God.

Isaiah 45:7: "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."
Lamentations 3:38: "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"
Jeremiah 18:11: "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."
Ezekiel 20:25,26: "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord."

The first three verses you provide are old translations, from the Masoretic text no less. The Isaiah passage means something like "calamity", "storm", or "war"; the Lamentations quote should read: "For evil and good shall not proceed from the mouth of the Most High." (declarative, not interrogative); and Jeremiah should read as well "Calamities", "plagues", etc.  You might as well cite the 9 plagues on the house of Pharoah as some faith shattering proof.

Ezekiel 20:25,26 is no less than what the Lord told Israel would happen if they did not obey His commands all the way back in Exodus.  It's like having a dog that refuses to be trained against rolling in his crap but wants to be an inside dog.  After a while you just leave him outside to roll in his crap, if he likes it bad enough.

Quote
Contrary to popular belief, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Evidence is there.  He who has eyes to see, let him see.
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« Reply #39 on: January 01, 2011, 09:43:14 PM »

And how do you reconcile Abraham, who would have butchered his own son because the voices in his head told him to. Alive today he would have been prosecuted and put away in an asylum for the criminally insane. His followers number in the billions. Consider that.
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laconicstudent
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« Reply #40 on: January 01, 2011, 09:45:24 PM »

And how do you reconcile Abraham, who would have butchered his own son because the voices in his head told him to.

What is there to reconcile, exactly?

Alive today he would have been prosecuted and put away in an asylum for the criminally insane.

So? 

His followers number in the billions. Consider that.

I wasn't aware that there were "billions" who considered themselves Abraham's "followers".
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« Reply #41 on: January 01, 2011, 09:57:35 PM »

One trend that I find particularly disturbing in the 'new atheist' movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the sacred (and I mean this in a general sense, not strictly religious).

I would argue the great achievement in atheist thought over the last century, which was brought about by greater scientific understanding of the universe, is the widespread realization that there is nothing sacred to either appreciate or not appreciate. To view something as set apart or untouchable is usually the result of ignorance on the matter.

Well, let me offer a practical example:



Upon seeing a t-shirt like this, someone might very well say, "wow, is anything sacred anymore?"

It is this type of thinking that I believe the new atheism movement is furthering to advance which I find disturbing.

What a shame that people aren't ashamed of exercising what has been determiend to be a constitutional right. Roll Eyes I guess I fail to get your point.

Let me expound on this point if I may. This t-shirt and others like it are part of an active campaign to de-sensitive the public to the idea of abortion and to reduce the associated stigma with the procedure. In fact, it is almost as if one wears it like a badge of honor, much like how someone would wear a t-shirt that had a logo of the New York Yankees on it. I find this to be particularly disturbing, but I also find this way of thinking to be augmented and supported by a worldview which asserts that a fetus in the womb is nothing more than a cluster of cells that can be removed or destroyed at a whim.

This sounds like a good thing to me, we should encourage rational rather than emotional responses.
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« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2011, 10:04:34 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.

Good evening, Stalin
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« Reply #43 on: January 01, 2011, 10:05:56 PM »

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« Reply #44 on: January 01, 2011, 11:30:43 PM »

This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

Elder Paisios teaches: "The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

"Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind."

This is some exactly the reason why we must try to spread logical thinking and rationalism, and as a result, atheism. Mindsets like the above are downright dangerous. This is what religion does to people. This is why it must be fought.

Yes, I'm sure the problem with the West is that people are too rational. Nice try, but once again, no.

Actually, recent studies show that if people were trying to make decisions based solely on logic we would get stuck in a loop.  All logic can tell us is what the outcome(s) of a particular decision might be, not which outcome is preferable.  Preference is a value judgment, and thus ruled by the intuitive and emotional parts of the brain.
Depends on what you are trying to decide.

Logic works very well on math problems...not so well on what color to paint a room.

Math isn't making a decision.  When I look at 2+2 (assuming base 10) there is no decision as to what the sum is, I can prefer 5 or 12 all day long, but the answer is 4.  Pi is always going to be equal to the circumference divided by the diameter, no matter how lazy I'm feeling 3.14 is always going to be short an infinite amount of decimal places.

Questions like should I have the grapefruit or the orange, or should I date this girl or that one, or how should I treat this particular person I am interacting with have no logical solution.  All logic can tell me is that the grapefruit tastes different than the orange, it's up to me if I prefer bitter or sweet.  Logic might tell me that one girl will make me happier while the other turns me on more, it's my preference as to whether or not I'd prefer happiness or miserable indulgence. 
Wrong again...kind of. Logic and rational thinking will tell you that the choice you prefer is best in these situations.
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