Author Topic: My five topics for Christian believers  (Read 1682 times)

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #58 on: May 30, 2014, 07:46:54 AM »
The only way I can see of deciding my family no longer exists is due to a severe brain trauma wiping out all memory of them or some affliction like Alzheimer's.

So it's not a matter of choice, to ignore what you know?

For me, no

Apparently, you are reading something much deeper into this than I am.  Care to enlighten me as to why the above questions are important and what kind of reaction you are anticipating or expecting?

As always,

OldChurchGuy

For me at least, atheism is an informed position.  Right or wrong, from my perspective it is experienced as something based on knowledge.  I cannot change that knowledge.  I may deny it, and believe otherwise for a time - but without changing that knowledge, the change in belief is superficial and unstable.

My point is that choosing to believe differently is trivial and meaningless without knowing differently.  It's just an act of denial.  Were I to choose to believe in some sort of god, I would just be in denial of what I know.

Let's take belief in the god of the creationists, for example.  I am a geologist.  I know that the Earth is more than 6k years old - it's the only position that makes sense to me.  I am not free to choose to know otherwise - I would have to be convinced otherwise in order for my state of knowledge to change.  Being able to be convinced of a new belief (changing one's state of knowledge, and being able to choose a new belief (with one's state of knowledge being the same) are categorically different.

When people (atheists, in this case) say that belief is not a choice, they are referring to the former case.  One cannot simply choose to be honestly convinced of a new belief.

I have read this repeatedly and admit confusion.  For me, there seems to be a equivalence between belief and knowledge as though the two words are interchangeable.  Presuming my interpretation is correct, I disagree. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #59 on: May 30, 2014, 07:50:53 AM »
Rather than quoting the posts junebug and OCG, I'm just going to go a little further with my original post thoughts.

First, I'm very pleased that this conversation is remaining civil. This is a challenging topic, and it can also be a very sensitive one, as junebug pointed out. I'm happy everyone is trying but I'm saddened by the depth of the division that exists, even when everyone is actually making an effort to understand the "other side".

Next, I want to pre-emptively defend myself a bit. This can be really hard to explain without saying things that can be interpreted as insulting by the theists in the conversation. The easiest comparisons (choose to believe in leprechauns, or fairies, or Santa Claus) sort of imply that theists are simple-minded or childish, and that's unproductive at best. I'm trying to avoid treating either of you like that, so please remember that as you read. I'm not trying to be rude, but we lack a "common ground" for this conversation.

There was no point in my life that I "made a choice" to "become" an atheist. Not believing in a god put me at odds with literally everything and everyone I knew. Recall the days before the internet - I had no one to talk to about any of this, for years. In fact, I knew that I didn't believe in the Christian god in high school, and by my early 30's, on some level I knew I didn't believe in any gods whatsoever. I've always allowed for the possibility of a deist-type creator, but to be perfectly frank, that's leftover from smoking a lot of pot and talking about god/life/purpose/angst-laden-whatever with my friends in my teens and 20's.

It didn't occur to me that the word atheist even applied to me. Although I didn't know the term, I was an apathist - didn't know, didn't care, didn't see it as mattering enough to me to bother with it. I had reached the conclusion that I didn't think there was a god and that was the end of it.

At least, that's how I presented the idea, even to myself. Reality was a bit different. It scared the sh!t out of me to realize that I didn't actually BELIEVE any of it. It scared the sh!t out of me to think about that, it scared me so much I just refused to do it at all. For several years, by the way.

Here's a detail I rarely share: I had to give up marijuana because if I got high, I would start to think about the consequences of there being no god. I started having panic attacks when I smoked pot and they were absolutely triggered by my lack of belief.

Brace yourselves for the next part, because this is seriously warped thinking in action: I was absolutely certain that I was going to go to hell and burn for all eternity because I couldn't make myself believe in god. That conviction lingered for years.

Go ahead and take a moment to let the echoes of crazy fade a bit.....

I blame THAT directly on Catholicism (yes junebug, organized religion is f*cking evil, I agree with you).

Now, in light of that, do you see why I insist that my lack of belief is not a choice? If ever I could have chosen to believe, that was the time. Coming to terms with my lack of belief has been the greatest gift I could have given myself, my mental health is quite a bit improved since I've made my peace with being an atheist

I say this often here - the bible had nothing to do with my loss of faith, but it had little to do with my faith when I had it either. I was raised Catholic, and while Catholics generally have a bible or 12 in their homes, we aren't known for our detailed bible knowledge - that's what priests are for. I believed in God because everyone in my life believed in God. I asked a LOT of questions, but concluded pretty young that people had messed up an otherwise fine thing. It wasn't until adulthood that it even occurred to me to question the premise - that a god existed in the first place. I didn't do detailed research, I didn't read the bible to try and make sense of it all, I just took a good hard look at my own beliefs and saw a big gaping hole where everyone else seemed to have a god shaped plug.

I truly admire your frank and open statements.  Well done.  Nothing that I can see to disagree with.

Admiringly,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #60 on: May 30, 2014, 08:25:47 AM »
I have read this repeatedly and admit confusion.  For me, there seems to be a equivalence between belief and knowledge as though the two words are interchangeable.  Presuming my interpretation is correct, I disagree. 

They are closely related, so your confusion is understandable.  The difference is that one can be in denial of what one knows.  The state of denial is a split between one's belief and one's knowledge.

With what, specifically, do you disagree?
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Offline Jag

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #61 on: May 30, 2014, 11:03:16 AM »
Okay now I understand. 

I implore your courage to dance to the beat of your own drum.

Thank you junebug, I appreciate that.

You too, OCG.
"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

Offline junebug72

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #62 on: May 30, 2014, 01:19:53 PM »
You're very welcome.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/thomas_paine.html#XXwlhVIMq06zWg2d.99

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #63 on: May 30, 2014, 03:32:36 PM »
I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.

I don't understand what you mean. You said you didn't feel those things I mentioned. How would those feelings "well up inside [you]"?

A surprise situation such as when my father died of a heart attack.  Prior to know of his death I was very happy to see my brother and his wife.  When informed of the situation, a deep sadness overcame me and I cried openly.

But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?

Yes, you can choose how you react to most feelings. Some feelings, though, are too great to be able to do that.


I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

The answer is "no". Because psychopaths, by definition, cannot feel (they are physically incapable of feeling) empathy.

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sexuality is not fully genetic, but it is never a choice. When did you choose to be attracted to women? I know I didn't choose it. It just happened. I didn't choose to be attracted to men either. It too, just happened.
Anyway, as far as scientists can figure out, sexuality is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some of which go all the way back to the womb.

I have known a couple of people who were abused as children.  In talking with them both felt they were now attracted to homosexuality due to the abuse.  Agreed there is no way to prove their conclusion is accurate.  But I am not going to downplay their conclusions either.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna be late,

One
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #64 on: May 30, 2014, 03:38:56 PM »
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Belief is a feeling, granted.  But it can come about through different causes.  One of these is through what we experience as knowledge.

Back to my example:  You know your family exists.[1]  So long as you know that your family exists, belief in their existence will naturally come from that knowledge.  We may be in denial of what we know, but denial is unstable.

Choosing to disbelieve in their existence may be possible - for a little while.  But that belief will be unstable, because you still know they exist.  To genuinely change the set of beliefs you hold on more than just the surface[2], you would have to un-know that your family exists.

How would you go about choosing to do that, OCG?  Care to give it a try - not just to feel that they don't exist, but to know it, and thus believe it afterward as a matter of course?
 1. Whether your knowledge is accurate or not, from your perspective, it's still knowledge.
 2. ie., as more than just a temporary feeling

As regards my family, I cannot conceive of any way of consciously choosing to "unknow" their existence. 

Confused but willing to pursue this conversation I remain,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Online One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #65 on: May 30, 2014, 04:06:17 PM »
Let's try this: We seem to have different depths of understanding and I am trying to get as deep as your understanding.  Is that better?

Not really. Tweaking that phrasing, you could just say "We have different understandings, and I am trying to comprehend[1] yours.".

I have experienced love and lust and grief.  The greatest grief which come to mind was when I learned of my father dying from a heart attack.  I cried a great deal that night. 

I haven't grieved in years. Not since I figured out death, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared or feel sad about.

I am saddened about your break up with your ex BF.  Terminating any relationship is hard.  Am I out of line to ask what is your second highest law?  What is your first highest law?  Are there other laws? 

My highest law is to always tell the truth. The second is the preservation of all life (including, but not limited to, small animals, insects, and bacteria), except in the case of self-preservation (which is why I haven't starved myself to death). The third is to preserve free will (if you don't like the connotations that "free will" has, feel free to replace it with "freedom of choice"). I want to note that I do not wish to impose these laws onto anyone, as that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, I reordered them in a way I believe is fair for everyone. The first law in this case becomes to preserve free will. The second is to preserve life. The third is to not harm others. Two and three are difficult to choose from, so I guess you could say they're both laws #2.
If you're curious, I broke my second highest law by buying my ex-BF flowers. In my view, I am responsible for their deaths, especially given what happened[2]. I then placed them on his doormat and left. I haven't seen him since a short while before then, although I did hear from him, in a way. He returned something I gave him - something that was of great significance to me - about a day later. He put it in my mailbox, attached to a note saying "I'm sorry". I threw the object and the note away. One had become worthless, and the other would've made me sad(der) to have around.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna sleep for a short amount of time,

One

EDIT: OldChurchGuy, please fix the quotes in your last post to me. I can understand what you're saying, but it's difficult for me to cut out the relevant parts. If you're having trouble with responding the way most of us do, quote this very post and remove the first (the one that starts with "quote author=One Above All") and last (the one that ends with "/quote") quote tags of the entire post and figure out how it works. screwtape has links on his sig to the quoting FAQ that can help, should this self-teaching method fail. I can also assist.
 1. So as not to repeat "understand", although "comprehend" does have the connotation that it's somehow wrong when used in this context, so which word you use is up to you, as long as you indicate what you mean by it.
 2. Long story short, he didn't open the door.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 04:08:32 PM by One Above All »
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #66 on: May 30, 2014, 05:15:58 PM »
Not really. Tweaking that phrasing, you could just say "We have different understandings, and I am trying to comprehend[1] yours.".
 1. So as not to repeat "understand", although "comprehend" does have the connotation that it's somehow wrong when used in this context, so which word you use is up to you, as long as you indicate what you mean by it.

I am fine with the phrase "we have different understandings and I am trying to comprehend yours".

Quote

I haven't grieved in years. Not since I figured out death, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared or feel sad about.

You are a better person than I.

Quote
My highest law is to always tell the truth. The second is the preservation of all life (including, but not limited to, small animals, insects, and bacteria), except in the case of self-preservation (which is why I haven't starved myself to death). The third is to preserve free will (if you don't like the connotations that "free will" has, feel free to replace it with "freedom of choice"). I want to note that I do not wish to impose these laws onto anyone, as that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, I reordered them in a way I believe is fair for everyone. The first law in this case becomes to preserve free will. The second is to preserve life. The third is to not harm others. Two and three are difficult to choose from, so I guess you could say they're both laws #2.
If you're curious, I broke my second highest law by buying my ex-BF flowers. In my view, I am responsible for their deaths, especially given what happened[2]. I then placed them on his doormat and left. I haven't seen him since a short while before then, although I did hear from him, in a way. He returned something I gave him - something that was of great significance to me - about a day later. He put it in my mailbox, attached to a note saying "I'm sorry". I threw the object and the note away. One had become worthless, and the other would've made me sad(der) to have around.
 2. Long story short, he didn't open the door.

No chance of reconciliation? 

I think you have created a great set of laws to live by.  Well done, sir; well done.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Note: This may not have been what you were asking for regarding the request to fix the quotes.  But it seems like the most expedient method. 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #67 on: May 30, 2014, 05:22:48 PM »
Let's try this: We seem to have different depths of understanding and I am trying to get as deep as your understanding.  Is that better?

Not really. Tweaking that phrasing, you could just say "We have different understandings, and I am trying to comprehend[1] yours.".

I have experienced love and lust and grief.  The greatest grief which come to mind was when I learned of my father dying from a heart attack.  I cried a great deal that night. 

I haven't grieved in years. Not since I figured out death, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared or feel sad about.

I am saddened about your break up with your ex BF.  Terminating any relationship is hard.  Am I out of line to ask what is your second highest law?  What is your first highest law?  Are there other laws? 

My highest law is to always tell the truth. The second is the preservation of all life (including, but not limited to, small animals, insects, and bacteria), except in the case of self-preservation (which is why I haven't starved myself to death). The third is to preserve free will (if you don't like the connotations that "free will" has, feel free to replace it with "freedom of choice"). I want to note that I do not wish to impose these laws onto anyone, as that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, I reordered them in a way I believe is fair for everyone. The first law in this case becomes to preserve free will. The second is to preserve life. The third is to not harm others. Two and three are difficult to choose from, so I guess you could say they're both laws #2.
If you're curious, I broke my second highest law by buying my ex-BF flowers. In my view, I am responsible for their deaths, especially given what happened[2]. I then placed them on his doormat and left. I haven't seen him since a short while before then, although I did hear from him, in a way. He returned something I gave him - something that was of great significance to me - about a day later. He put it in my mailbox, attached to a note saying "I'm sorry". I threw the object and the note away. One had become worthless, and the other would've made me sad(der) to have around.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna sleep for a short amount of time,

One

EDIT: OldChurchGuy, please fix the quotes in your last post to me. I can understand what you're saying, but it's difficult for me to cut out the relevant parts. If you're having trouble with responding the way most of us do, quote this very post and remove the first (the one that starts with "quote author=One Above All") and last (the one that ends with "/quote") quote tags of the entire post and figure out how it works. screwtape has links on his sig to the quoting FAQ that can help, should this self-teaching method fail. I can also assist.
 1. So as not to repeat "understand", although "comprehend" does have the connotation that it's somehow wrong when used in this context, so which word you use is up to you, as long as you indicate what you mean by it.
 2. Long story short, he didn't open the door.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Online One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #68 on: May 30, 2014, 05:38:08 PM »
You are a better person than I.

If you say so. There are those who insist I am actually scared of death and lying for some reason, or that I just haven't been close enough to death to fear it. Neither of those are true.

No chance of reconciliation? 

That's why I went to his house. Now, even if he were to offer it, I'd decline.
EDIT: Besides, I have someone else in mind at the moment.

I think you have created a great set of laws to live by.  Well done, sir; well done.

Thanks.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

Eating,

One

Note: This may not have been what you were asking for regarding the request to fix the quotes.  But it seems like the most expedient method. 

Expedient to you, maybe. Not to me or anyone else who wants to read and might consider replying to you.
Also, that's not what I meant. In the post I mentioned, you replied within quotes by italicizing your text. This makes it nearly impossible to tell, specially given how italics are often used for emphasis.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 05:42:07 PM by One Above All »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #69 on: May 30, 2014, 10:52:08 PM »
As regards my family, I cannot conceive of any way of consciously choosing to "unknow" their existence. 

Confused but willing to pursue this conversation I remain,

OldChurchGuy

So if you held a belief that naturally/logically arose from knowing that your family existed, would you be free to choose non-belief in that thing as well, by the same token?
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Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #70 on: June 16, 2014, 05:09:40 PM »
Wow, these are easy!

1.  Because the bible was written “about” God “by” men, from the perspective and experience of the people being inspired.

2.  Not all Christians say that, particularly the latter. See my answer to #1

3.  ??? Christians are people, people are complex and often have a hard time making relationships work. I don’t get the question.

4.  See my answer to #1

5.  See my answer to #1
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #71 on: June 16, 2014, 06:20:03 PM »
1.  Because the bible was written “about” God “by” men, from the perspective and experience of the people being inspired.

The question that comes next then, I suppose, is why a god would choose not to inspire accuracy.
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Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #72 on: June 16, 2014, 06:43:43 PM »
1.  Because the bible was written “about” God “by” men, from the perspective and experience of the people being inspired.

The question that comes next then, I suppose, is why a god would choose not to inspire accuracy.

When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms. I cant just "explain" to my cat that the needle is for its own good and will prevent it from getting leukemia. But why? If I'm so much more intelligent than the cat, and if I can make all of these perfect assertions through language, then why do I have to pet it and make soothing noises and even hold it down when it's terrified for god's sake? (What kind of an inhuman monster would do such a thing?) Why don't I just use my higher ability to simply explain the situation to it? If I'm so much more intelligent, why is the cat so confused, and why does it freak out and do, pretty much the opposite of what I'm trying to get it to do?

The answer is that the 'cat' does not have the capacity to understand language. I can be mentally superior until I'm blue in the face but that doesn't change the fact that the cat simply doesn't have the ability to understand what I'm trying to communicate to it on 'my' terms, I have to muddle through on its terms.

This isn't to say that there is in fact a god, or that the bible is inspired. I only mean to point out that communication between higher and lower beings 'always' results in the higher being's superior intelligence and knowledge meaning absolutely dick when trying to communicate with a being that doesn't have the capacity to understand. What we end up with, even between two beings on this planet (a person and a cat) is the cat just barely getting the point and ultimately just having to trust and wait out the experience.
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #73 on: June 16, 2014, 06:56:40 PM »
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms. ...

This would mean that no understanding that humans have of any real god is any more accurate than that written in the Bible.  Because if it were, then that understanding is what would have been conveyed to humans at the time, rather than what actually was.  Assuming, of course, that it was inspired at all.

Unless you're also saying that humans today as somehow "higher beings" than those of the (very recent in evolutionary terms) past...?
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Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #74 on: June 16, 2014, 07:03:52 PM »
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms. ...

This would mean that no understanding that humans have of any real god is any more accurate than that written in the Bible.  Because if it were, then that understanding is what would have been conveyed to humans at the time, rather than what actually was.  Assuming, of course, that it was inspired at all.

I think that, based on what we know about higher beings communicating (or trying to), with lower ones; that the kind of bias and allegory and injection of the culture and way of thinking of the people 'being' inspired is exactly what we would expect to see if divine inspiration occurred at all.

To put it another way, I think,  based on what we observe when higher beings communicate with lower ones, inspiration cannot mean perfect dictation from the divine through the finite.

Unless you're also saying that humans today as somehow "higher beings" than those of the (very recent in evolutionary terms) past...?

I wouldn't say that. We have better technology and a better understanding of how the world operates, but I think our problems and virtues are more or less the same.


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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #75 on: June 16, 2014, 08:06:16 PM »
I think that, based on what we know about higher beings communicating (or trying to), with lower ones; that the kind of bias and allegory and injection of the culture and way of thinking of the people 'being' inspired is exactly what we would expect to see if divine inspiration occurred at all.

In other words, the people back then were utterly incapable of being inspired to understand anything more accurate.  My point stands.

To put it another way, I think,  based on what we observe when higher beings communicate with lower ones, inspiration cannot mean perfect dictation from the divine through the finite.

We've never observed divine inspiration for reference, though.  And I never mentioned perfection, did I?

I wouldn't say that. We have better technology and a better understanding of how the world operates, but I think our problems and virtues are more or less the same.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #76 on: June 16, 2014, 08:21:06 PM »
In other words, the people back then were utterly incapable of being inspired to understand anything more accurate.  My point stands.

So far as I can tell, we're making the same point.

To put it another way, I think,  based on what we observe when higher beings communicate with lower ones, inspiration cannot mean perfect dictation from the divine through the finite.

We've never observed divine inspiration for reference, though.  And I never mentioned perfection, did I?


No, to be fair you didn't, I think you said something like "Why couldn't God inspire accuracy?" Which I addressed with my cat example.

I wouldn't say that. We have better technology and a better understanding of how the world operates, but I think our problems and virtues are more or less the same.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.

Yes, I think if there were such a thing as the divine and communication from it, then by definition our understanding of it is limited to our own capacity to understand it.
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #77 on: June 16, 2014, 09:08:35 PM »
So far as I can tell, we're making the same point.

Then you must think that modern humans are genetically superior, or something.  I don't think we're especially smarter or better at understanding things now than we were; there's just a larger knowledge base to work from.

No, to be fair you didn't, I think you said something like "Why couldn't God inspire accuracy?" Which I addressed with my cat example.

Your counter is that humans (at the time) were incapable of having a more correct understanding than what they had.  My counter to that, is to ask:  "What's changed about us then?"  If nothing, then any human understanding today cannot be any better than understanding in the past.  We are incapable of progress, unless we're somehow better at inspiring human understanding than God is.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.

Yes, I think if there were such a thing as the divine and communication from it, then by definition our understanding of it is limited to our own capacity to understand it.

And by extension, that the Bible is the limit of what humans can understand about the divine.  QED.
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Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #78 on: June 16, 2014, 10:23:14 PM »
I did give you a +1 on your earlier post because I did think it made a fairly good point about the difference between the mind of an omnimax deity and that of its creation, but at the same time I can't help but find it perplexing that since we, as a species, have a fairly sophisticated method of communication which covers far, far more than anything merely needed for survival, and that the Bible also would have us believe that we were created in the "image" of this deity (which, it seems, can only be a reference to our spirits, as God does not appear to have a physical form to pass on to us, and therefore at least partially having an inherent ability to understand its motivations), that at least some of what he created us with must have been a capability to receive and understand his message. Else it all makes even less sense than just reading it as pure mythology.

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #79 on: June 17, 2014, 12:06:33 AM »
So far as I can tell, we're making the same point.

Quote from: Azdgari
Then you must think that modern humans are genetically superior, or something.  I don't think we're especially smarter or better at understanding things now than we were; there's just a larger knowledge base to work from.

I don't think that, and that wasn't a point that I was making. the only point I made was that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher being's terms.

No, to be fair you didn't, I think you said something like "Why couldn't God inspire accuracy?" Which I addressed with my cat example.

Quote from: Azdgari
Your counter is that humans (at the time) were incapable of having a more correct understanding than what they had.

I didn't put in the (at the time) part at all. If we're talking about divine revelation from a higher being to a lower one, then that revelation is necessarily going to be transmitted according to the lower being's method of communication and limited by their capacity to understand. that doesn't just apply to the ancient people that applies to anyone and everything.

Quote from: Azdgari
My counter to that, is to ask:  "What's changed about us then?"  If nothing, then any human understanding today cannot be any better than understanding in the past.  We are incapable of progress, unless we're somehow better at inspiring human understanding than God is.

Realize I'm only talking about revelation, we're quite capable of making progress when it comes to science, philosophy, law, economics, human rights, morality, society, etc. And as we gain more knowledge, we get better and better at them. Those are all rational principles. The limitation I'm talking about applies only to the supposition that there is a divine being that revealed anything to us. If that is the case, then you're absolutely right, and it's exactly what we see. What is new about religion? Nothing. What new discoveries have been made in the field of religion? None.

So then, our understanding of the divine must have precisely the same limitations as before, and cannot have advanced.

Yes, I think if there were such a thing as the divine and communication from it, then by definition our understanding of it is limited to our own capacity to understand it.

Quote from: Azdgari
And by extension, that the Bible is the limit of what humans can understand about the divine.  QED.

Well, the bible isn't the only book that claims divine inspiration, but you're more or less correct. If there were such a thing as divine inspiration, I think that the kind of hap-hazardness we see in holy writ, and the distillation down to creeds and dogmas is about the best we could ever do.



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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #80 on: June 17, 2014, 12:33:52 AM »
I don't think that, and that wasn't a point that I was making. the only point I made was that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher being's terms.

And there are serious and problematic implications of that, in the context of real-world religions and their histories.

I didn't put in the (at the time) part at all. If we're talking about divine revelation from a higher being to a lower one, then that revelation is necessarily going to be transmitted according to the lower being's method of communication and limited by their capacity to understand. that doesn't just apply to the ancient people that applies to anyone and everything.

So, you concede the point that all religious thought since the supposed point of revelation can only either pass on or detract from that revelation?

Realize I'm only talking about revelation

Yeah, I get that.  I'm not talking about other fields of human endeavor either, and I should have made that clearer.

The limitation I'm talking about applies only to the supposition that there is a divine being that revealed anything to us. If that is the case, then you're absolutely right, and it's exactly what we see. What is new about religion? Nothing. What new discoveries have been made in the field of religion? None.

So theology has been utterly useless.  The words of some ancient folks are the best we've ever had.  The first part I'd agree with, the latter perhaps less so.

Well, the bible isn't the only book that claims divine inspiration, but you're more or less correct. If there were such a thing as divine inspiration, I think that the kind of hap-hazardness we see in holy writ, and the distillation down to creeds and dogmas is about the best we could ever do.

Distillation down to creeds and dogmas departs from "the best we have".  It is not the best we could ever do.  It is necessarily worse than a direct reading of the supposed inspirations of ancient folks, unless it too is revealed.
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #81 on: June 17, 2014, 08:53:53 AM »
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms.

That only washes if the higher being is not omnipotent and omniscient and not responsible for designing and creating the lower being.  Case in point:

I cant just "explain" to my cat that the needle is for its own good...

1. Is the difference between you and god the same as the difference between your cat and you?  Based on the glowing terms people use for god, I would say no, not even close.  People's opinions of their cats not withstanding.
2. If you were omnipotent and omniscient, you could communicate that to the cat, no?
3. If you were O&O and designed cats, you could have designed them to understand you, no?

But why?

Because of the limitations inherent in you and the cat.  Your example is between differently developed, finite, imperfect creatures.  That is not the situation between man and an alleged god.  If you were O&O, those limitations would not exist.

I am surprised by how poorly thought out your reply was.  Seriously.  Very bad.

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #82 on: June 17, 2014, 11:01:02 AM »
I don't think that, and that wasn't a point that I was making. the only point I made was that higher beings can't communicate with lower beings on the higher being's terms.

And there are serious and problematic implications of that, in the context of real-world religions and their histories.

How so?

Quote from: Philosopher_at_large
I didn't put in the (at the time) part at all. If we're talking about divine revelation from a higher being to a lower one, then that revelation is necessarily going to be transmitted according to the lower being's method of communication and limited by their capacity to understand. that doesn't just apply to the ancient people that applies to anyone and everything.

Quote from: Azdgari
So, you concede the point that all religious thought since the supposed point of revelation can only either pass on or detract from that revelation?

Yes. We can, to a certain degree, sift through and weed out the cultural stuff, we can understand the point of an allegory, and distill it all down into creeds, but, I think that's the best we can ever do. 

Quote from: Azdgari
So theology has been utterly useless.  The words of some ancient folks are the best we've ever had.  The first part I'd agree with, the latter perhaps less so.

Going back to my example of the cat, I don't think it can be said that the cat eventually just trusting me was useless, or that my clumsy efforts to get it to do so were utterly futile. In both cases the efforts and outcomes were very slight, but I wouldn't call them useless.


Quote from: Azdgari
Distillation down to creeds and dogmas departs from "the best we have".  It is not the best we could ever do.  It is necessarily worse than a direct reading of the supposed inspirations of ancient folks, unless it too is revealed.

I don't understand what you're saying here. If we have thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of stuff, some of which is just cultural, some of which is just mundane, some of which is the product of inspiration, some of which is allegory, some of which is prose, etc. I don't understand why distilling it down and saying "Here are the main points", or "Here's what this is all driving at", would be worse than the helter skelter that those creeds and dogmas eliminate.

Just a quick word about that, we do that all the time for things that 'can' be normally understood, but are difficult or complicated. The US Constitution has a preamble which lays out the ends to be served by the constitution (and which was put in at the last minute to boot.) Companies have mission statements, scientific papers have an abstract, etc. Even if there were no god and man were a purely natural thing, we cannot do without these, and for most people, these are a lot more helpful. that is, to laymen, they are a great deal more understandable. And if we're talking about revelation  between the divine and man, man is the ultimate layman.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 11:03:41 AM by Philosopher_at_large »
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #83 on: June 17, 2014, 11:19:37 AM »
When a higher being communicates with a lower being, it must always communicate on the lower being's terms.

That only washes if the higher being is not omnipotent and omniscient and not responsible for designing and creating the lower being.  Case in point:

What does that even mean? It would be too tangential to explain here, but I've never accepted the labels "omnipotent" and "omniscient" when it comes to god. Neither of those labels make any sense and neither of them are a necessary or indispensable quality of a divine being. If we were talking about a genie or a wizard, sure, but when applied to God, I think these labels and concepts arose, not out of necessity, but through Christians desire to say "My god is better than yours, my god can do ANYTHING!".

Omniscience implies that the being should know the outcome of that which is contingent, which is a logical impossibility. god does not know "everything" and can't do "everything". 

I cant just "explain" to my cat that the needle is for its own good...

Quote from: screwtape
1. Is the difference between you and god the same as the difference between your cat and you?  Based on the glowing terms people use for god, I would say no, not even close.  People's opinions of their cats not withstanding.

Forget what people say about God, the only quality of god that need be considered here is that God has a higher intelligence than Man. If that is the case then the chasm between it and man when it comes to communication gets bigger, not smaller. 

Quote from: screwtape
2. If you were omnipotent and omniscient, you could communicate that to the cat, no?

See my above opinion on those terms.

Quote from: screwtape
3. If you were O&O and designed cats, you could have designed them to understand you, no?

Then they wouldn't be cats. If I wanted to "design" a creature that could understand e, I could only design other O&O creatures, I could not "design" Dogs, Cats, People, etc.

Quote from: screwtape
Because of the limitations inherent in you and the cat.  Your example is between differently developed, finite, imperfect creatures.  That is not the situation between man and an alleged god.  If you were O&O, those limitations would not exist.

Again, O&O isn't a concept that I accept as valid, it's an impossibility and contradictory, and you make that point very well when you propose a logical impossibility as a consequence of them. IE:  A being that lacks the capacity to understand, understanding regardless.

It's like saying that of a God were O&O it would be able to add 2 + 2, have it equal 4, have 4 be an odd number and also be a 6.

Because it can do "anything" right?

Ridiculous.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 11:21:22 AM by Philosopher_at_large »
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #84 on: June 17, 2014, 11:41:53 AM »
How so?

It means that all religious thought since the supposed revelation has been harmful.  All religious thought is negative.

Quote from: Azdgari
So theology has been utterly useless.  The words of some ancient folks are the best we've ever had.  The first part I'd agree with, the latter perhaps less so.

Going back to my example of the cat, I don't think it can be said that the cat eventually just trusting me was useless, or that my clumsy efforts to get it to do so were utterly futile. In both cases the efforts and outcomes were very slight, but I wouldn't call them useless.

That has nothing to do with what I said.  I was talking about theology.  Your cat is not a useful analog here.

I don't understand what you're saying here. If we have thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of stuff, some of which is just cultural, some of which is just mundane, some of which is the product of inspiration, some of which is allegory, some of which is prose, etc. I don't understand why distilling it down and saying "Here are the main points", or "Here's what this is all driving at", would be worse than the helter skelter that those creeds and dogmas eliminate.

I suppose there's the problem of how to determine divine inspiration from its absence in any particular text.  That's your problem, though, not mine.  I was working from the position that we actually had divinely inspired works - devil's advocate, in a way.  But of course that's not the world we live in.  In the world we live in, the only metric for whether a work is divinely inspired is "does it appeal to me?"

Just a quick word about that, we do that all the time for things that 'can' be normally understood, but are difficult or complicated. The US Constitution has a preamble which lays out the ends to be served by the constitution (and which was put in at the last minute to boot.) Companies have mission statements, scientific papers have an abstract, etc. Even if there were no god and man were a purely natural thing, we cannot do without these, and for most people, these are a lot more helpful. that is, to laymen, they are a great deal more understandable. And if we're talking about revelation  between the divine and man, man is the ultimate layman.

See Screwtape's post.  Man is only as much of a layman as a real deity would want us to be.
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #85 on: June 17, 2014, 11:58:51 AM »
Quote from: Azdgari
It means that all religious thought since the supposed revelation has been harmful.  All religious thought is negative.

How does an inability to comprehend short of our own terms and understanding make religious thought harmful? In what sense are you using the word negative?

Quote from: Philosopher_at_large
Going back to my example of the cat, I don't think it can be said that the cat eventually just trusting me was useless, or that my clumsy efforts to get it to do so were utterly futile. In both cases the efforts and outcomes were very slight, but I wouldn't call them useless.

Quote from: Azdgari
That has nothing to do with what I said.  I was talking about theology.  Your cat is not a useful analog here.

 If Theology is the best we can do, and my clumsy efforts with my cat are the best I can do, then I think the two efforts and outcomes are a fairly good analogy, unless you were making a separate point that I missed.

I don't understand what you're saying here. If we have thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of stuff, some of which is just cultural, some of which is just mundane, some of which is the product of inspiration, some of which is allegory, some of which is prose, etc. I don't understand why distilling it down and saying "Here are the main points", or "Here's what this is all driving at", would be worse than the helter skelter that those creeds and dogmas eliminate.

Quote from: Azdgari
I suppose there's the problem of how to determine divine inspiration from its absence in any particular text.  That's your problem, though, not mine.

Correct. You're right on both counts. 

Quote from: Azdgari
I was working from the position that we actually had divinely inspired works - devil's advocate, in a way.  But of course that's not the world we live in.  In the world we live in, the only metric for whether a work is divinely inspired is "does it appeal to me?"

I don't think that's the only metric but that's a topic for another time. If divine inspiration were a matter of appeal, I would worship the Viking Gods. (Truly, I would.)

Just a quick word about that, we do that all the time for things that 'can' be normally understood, but are difficult or complicated. The US Constitution has a preamble which lays out the ends to be served by the constitution (and which was put in at the last minute to boot.) Companies have mission statements, scientific papers have an abstract, etc. Even if there were no god and man were a purely natural thing, we cannot do without these, and for most people, these are a lot more helpful. that is, to laymen, they are a great deal more understandable. And if we're talking about revelation  between the divine and man, man is the ultimate layman.

Quote from: Azdgari
See Screwtape's post.  Man is only as much of a layman as a real deity would want us to be.

"Want" doesn't really apply, Man is what it is.
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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #86 on: June 17, 2014, 12:05:41 PM »
How does an inability to comprehend short of our own terms and understanding make religious thought harmful? In what sense are you using the word negative?

Harmful to our understanding of the divine, I mean.

If Theology is the best we can do, and my clumsy efforts with my cat are the best I can do, then I think the two efforts and outcomes are a fairly good analogy, unless you were making a separate point that I missed.

I had taken your cat analogy to mean that you were the deity, and the cat was receiving your message.  Now you've switched the roles, in which your efforts are analogous to theology, rather than your cat's efforts.  Perhaps we can dispense with the silly analogy and speak plainly?

I don't think that's the only metric but that's a topic for another time. If divine inspiration were a matter of appeal, I would worship the Viking Gods. (Truly, I would.)

To have any other metric, we would have to have a conclusive example of divine inspiration to compare with.  Otherwise humans would have no idea outside of their own opinions of what to look for.  In other words, I don't believe you.

"Want" doesn't really apply, Man is what it is.

If the deity is just some advanced alien that had nothing to do with us and isn't all-powerful, etc., then I agree.  But then I'd call it an alien, and not "God".  Unless it's threatening me, perhaps.
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