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An interview with MadArchitect

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Re: Nihilism

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Quote:I don't mind answering Dissident's questions (when I can), but it is a little disappointing to me that the atheists and agnostics of BookTalk have completely dropped out of this discussion. After all, this thread was started in order to give them an opportunity to address the beliefs that were specifically mine, rather than merely assume that my theism conformed in whatever way to the theisms of their general experience. Has everyone else lost interest?I would be curious about some general beliefs of theists in an atheist oriented forum. But I think the basics have pretty much been covered. It now seems to have become a psycho analysis that's gotten out of control.
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Re: Validation

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Quote:then I could understand his inability to recognize the connections I keep pushing in relation to his TheismI have to agree with Dissident....especially since Mad has inferred such ties in the past. He asserts that religion (god) has been THE inspiration for art and other forms of expression...so why would DIssident's questions be such a burden to link to his personal faith...whatever that may be?But I do not agree that Mad is trying to placate Atheists. In fact, I think he should do much more in that area since he is in a predominantly atheist community. In fact, everything Mad says is contrary to how I know things to be, and thus our conflict.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Validation

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I was only basing my comments in this thread. When this thread is taken in a vacuum one is left to deduce that Mad is deistic in his beliefs. A deist doesn't link his morality and motives to his beliefs about a god, as they don't see their god as having any relationship to them. But as I've said, my interpretation of Mad as a deist could be entirely wrong. He might be avoiding discussing the specifics of his beliefs in order to sidestep scrutiny.Chris
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Re: Validation

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Quote:He might be avoiding discussing the specifics of his beliefs in order to sidestep scrutiny.Which would entirely defeat the purpose of this thread...Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Validation

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I completely agree.MadAny comments?Chris
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Re: Validation

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Dissident Heart (attempting to paraphrase me): In any case, I can't imagine why you would think those terms significant to a person's particular form of Theism.I didn't say that I couldn't imagine why you would link those values to God, but the fact that I can understand another person's desire to do so does not constrain me to do so myself. Do you want my honest answers, DH, or do you want me to validate some theory for you? My honest answer is that I don't know whether or not God wants anything in particular from us, or whether or not God approves of any particular values that we affirm.More paraphrase: There is an experiential component of my Theism that is somewhat akin to an implicit trust or distrust of a person, that I can't really put my finger on.Actually, we haven't really talked about the experiential element of my theism at all, so it strikes me as a bit disingenuous that you'd attempt to sum it up. That particular paraphrase doesn't strike me at all as the sort of description I would endorse.On the whole, I find your paraphrase interesting, but not so much in terms of my theism. It's interesting as an attempt, on your part, to fit my answers to the mold of your questions. The result, it seems to me, must be that you no longer see them as MY answers, but as THE answers to YOUR questions.I am trying to present a Theism that steers clear of all the personal, emotional, existentially oriented 'grit and grissle' of my life's tragedies and triumphs.Now that's just false. I'm not trying to find a theism that avoids any of that. I just don't, as yet, see any particular reason to think that God feels a vested interest in those human qualities. Until I can find some reason to believe as much, the personal and emotional grit and gristle of human existence have about as much to do with God as they have to do with, say, the ocean. Which is to say that the object itself may have an impact on our human situation, but it isn't necessarily a reciprocal relationship.Could it be that in order to find credibilty among the Atheists, you've abandoned everything meaningful in your Theism?Yeah, that's it, DH: I've invented all of this on the fly. Futzing around in this forum, with a bunch of people I've never met and probably will never meet, has made me so embarrassed about my theism that I've reduced it to philosophical abstraction. You've found me out, and I'm oh so mortified.No, wait, actually these are issues that I've been dealing with since I was about 15 years old, if not before, and this is actually the state of my belief after years and years of reading, thinking, and interacting. If I were really that embarrassed by my theism, I easily could have hidden it -- in fact, it didn't come out that I was a theists until recent months, and I've been contributing to this forum since last November. So you are, of course, welcome to psychoanalyze away any ideas of beliefs that I have which you deem an affront to legitimate theism, and everyone else on the forum is welcome to chalk it all up to a persistent lapse of reason. I'm not terribly concerned with whether or not any of you approve, and I've opened the floor only to give the lot of you the opportunity to understand.I mean, you are willing to refer to a vague experiential element of your Theism, (which you admit is more important than the ontological argument you make) but you won't connect it to any sort of character or quality of your God.It's not the character of God that serves as the basis for the experiential element -- it's the character of existence. And it's entirely possible that the character of existence does not accurately reflect the character of God.Suppose you discovered through an epiphany, theophanic display, or philosophic inquiry that your God demanded genocidal brutality and homocidal disregard (or turned out to be a ruthless monstrosity of the most heinous sort) would you revoke the title "God"?If I discovered it through pholosophic inquiry, then I'd have to admit that the discovery wasn't about the necessary nature of God, but about the consequences of whatever premises I began with. That wouldn't necessarily compel me to action. An epiphany I could question, or I could at least question my own sanity. If it was through a genuine theophanic display, I'd be right well screwed, now wouldn't I? But I wouldn't really be able to deny that the source of the theophanic display was God -- else it wouldn't be a theophanic display.Almost out of time; I'll try to get to the rest later.
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Re: Validation

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Chris OConnor: Mad, you aren't a theist in my relatively educated opinion. Nothing I've read in this thread, which is explicitly about your belief system, points towards theism. You're a deist Mad, and this I can respect a tremendous TREMENDOUS amount more than ANY form of theism.From what I know of deism, I don't know if that's entirely correct. I certainly wouldn't associate myself with Thomas Paine, for example. I think the big difference for me is a greater reliance on that Socratic principle of ignorance. God may be merely a Prime Mover in the Aristotelian sense, but then again, God might be just as involved in the workings of the universe as modern Protestant Christians claim. I don't know, and I'm not even sure what would qualify as evidence for determining which is the case.You assign absolutely no qualities, whether human or supernatural, to the creator or first cause. You simply believe there is something separate and apart from the universe that caused it all to happen.So far so good. But this all, for me, a starting point, whereas, for the Deists, that was the summa theologica -- all that could be said about God. My view of God is almost certainly in an embryonic stage, and I'll be terribly disappointed if I never find good reason to develop my thoughts beyond that basis.The only difference I'm seeing between your beliefs and my own is that I don't take the leap of faith and actually "believe" in something just because it "might" be true. But it might be true. I give you this.I'd say it's a little more than "might", although, only because I accept the logical premise that all material existence behaves according to causal relationships. If it can be demonstrated that effect need not necessarily follow cause, then the probability drops back down to 50/50. But so far as I know, Aristotle's Prime Mover argument still holds up in the main -- so long as we assume that everything that exists behaves according to causal relationships, the only way out of the reductio ab absurdum is to posit something "external" to material reality.If you don't adhere to any organized religion and don't believe you know anything about the nature of god, why do you have such an interest in the Christian Bible?My interest in the Christian Bible is part of a larger interest in religion in general. In fact, I'd say I'm generally more interested in the Judaic text than in the Christian. But I'm also interested in Buddhism, Shinto, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, ancient Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic and Middle Eastern religions, Australian aboriginal religion, Haitian Voodoo, Arunta and other African religions, and so on, and so forth. And one of the major attitudes that distinguishes me from a Deist like Paine is that I accord a certain amount of respect to all of those traditions, even if I can't bring myself to adhere to any of their basic assumptions.There is, I must admit, a special emphasis on the Judeo-Christian traditions in my study, and that, for two reasons. The first is that I grew up in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and I think it's important, when breaking from a tradition, to understand it as much as possible. Important, because not understanding a formative influence makes it difficult to understand how much of your own view of the world is inherited from that influence and how much comes from your own exploration. The second reason is that we live in a culture dominated by the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it is literally impossible to understand that culture without understanding its historical and philosophical background.You created that Bible thread. Why?You had expressed some interest in it before, I had long wanted to go through and read the Bible critically, and I didn't want to leave it up to someone else. Not that another discussion leader wouldn't have brought something important to the reading, but I have a certain academic background and a rather large set of resources at my disposal, and moreover I felt capable of bringing a certain level of balance to the discussion. I still think it's something of a shame that it never took off, but maybe BookTalk will rekindle their interest later on. I'll likely still be around.The Christian Bible makes continuous reference to the nature of god. It seems you don't agree with the Bible.Part of my interest in reading the Bible with this group was in trying to put our finger on what sort of God is presented by the Bible. And of course, starting from the viewpoint of source criticism, one conclusion we'd be almost forced to accept is that it's not a unitary, monolithic view of God -- the Bible presents a portrait of the development of the Judeo-Christian view of God, and I think that's important, from a cultural viewpoint, to examine. I'm sympathetic to that, at least: that many of the Biblical authors were willing to question the prevailing notion of God and push in other directions. That's part of why I charted the reading to start with Job. Anyway, I won't bore you, but I think it's all terribly interesting.Dissident Heart: Let's see, making the outrageous assumption that perhaps life's vexing challenges arising from betrayal, courage, hope, sacrifice, loss, nihilism and love...that addressing these issues might be a more meaningful way to approach his Theism...this is "pigeonholing and derailing"?You're free to make all of those suggestions, and I'd value them as suggestions. But you didn't make them as suggestions. You asked questions, and those questions seemed to be part of a more general attempt to solicit from me answers that fit the mold of those "suggestions". The direction you took would have been far more in place in a discussion about your beliefs.My exploration of Theism (from the complicated worlds of Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Quran, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Schleirmacher, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Buber, Tillich, Heschel, Kung, Ruether, Bill W....and many other lesser notables) recognizes a common thread of deeply personal, intimate communion with God; something that arises out of and within the vexing issues I have chosen to guide my interview.Are you at least prepared to admit the possibility that my brand of theism doesn't share that common thread? If you won't admit that as a possibility, then it's inevitable that you'd railroad the conversation and attempt to pigeonhole me.Dissident Heart: I think Mad is unwilling to explore these issues because to do so will make it more difficult for him to present a Theism that Atheists, perhaps like yourself, would find more appealing.Fine, you've made your point, and I've rejected it. There's the empasse, and I don't see any way of getting over it. You're not going to convince me, and I don't see much point in convincing anyone else. Now, unless you can see some way to push your conclusion in some unforeseen and interesting direction, it looks to me like that part of the discussion is over.His argument that to do so will result in a reductio ad absurdum quandry is worth exploring: not because his solution provides any richer insights into Theism; but because it says something about his need to keep Atheists satisfied.The only mention of reductio ab absurdum that I can recall having made had nothing to do with the connection of God to values, but with the question of why anything exists at all. I don't assert any connection between God as the basis of being and the human values that we've developed throughout history only because I don't see any particular reason to think that God has any particular interest in those values. If you can give me a reasonable explanation for why that should be so, I'll be more than happy to reconsider. But the fact that you've found that to be the case in every religion you've study does not strike me as a terribly compelling reason.misterpessimistic: I have to agree with Dissident....especially since Mad has inferred such ties in the past. He asserts that religion (god) has been THE inspiration for art and other forms of expression...Well, there's a conflation there that I wouldn't make. If you assume that by religion I likewise mean God then you've misunderstood my position. My study of the history of art and philosophy has indicated that most, if not all, or the arts and philosophies had a basis in religious concepts. To say so isn't to imply that religion is therefore valid -- it's merely a historical observation, and the only correlation that I've attempted to draw from that is, that the current state of the arts and philosophy may well be reliant on conceptions that are tied to religion. My point in saying so was that, in order to embrace absolute atheism and the total abolition of religion, it may also be necessary to ultimately abandon whatever parts of culture are dependent on religion. And I would say that we are too close to the widespread adoption of atheism to judge presently whether or not theater, say, or morality, will be able to maintain the form and growth that we associate with them in the absence of a religious impetus. But that isn't to say that either of these things are literally the result of divine inspiration. I do, sometimes, make points that are more about anthropology than theism.In fact, everything Mad says is contrary to how I know things to be, and thus our conflict.The biggest difference, I would say, is that I don't claim to know things to be a certain way. We have different conceptions of truth, it seems to me, but mine isn't based on theism -- it's based on epistemology. That conception will have a great deal to do with the development of my theism, of course, but it's based almost entirely on a Socratic profession of ignorance rather than on "I am the truth and the light; no man entereth into heaven save through me." Until Chris changes the mission statement to say that BookTalk contributers are to consider the world apart from philosophy, I don't see any reason to placate on that count.Chris OConnor: He might be avoiding discussing the specifics of his beliefs in order to sidestep scrutiny.I'm making a genuine effort to not avoid discussing anything about my beliefs. Mr. P's right: it would totally defeat the purpose of this thread if I held back. I've even tried to answer DH's questions as candidly as I can, but I come up stuck when a question is asked that has little to do with what I believe. And I do think that DH's questions have more to do with what he believes that with what I believe.
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Re: Validation

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Do you pray?
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Re: Validation

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Not regularly, no. I have on occasion, in rather extreme circumstances, but I wouldn't make any claims as to the efficacy of prayer. For instance, I've prayed for the safety of loved ones who I knew to be in danger but who were too distance for me to help. I've uttered brief prayers for myself in accidents and major storms when I had already done all that I could to protect myself, but knew that those precautions might not be enough. I wouldn't say I have any real grounds, either rational or otherwise, for asserting the usefulness of prayer, but in cases of real helplessness, it doesn't hurt to hope that it has some effect. Getting through a bad situation relatively unscathed isn't likely to give me any grounds for deriving a science of prayer -- as some religious groups have more or less attempted, and as all religious believers indulge in to some degree when they use prayer like a sort of formula -- but I feel like it would be disingenuous to make recourse to prayer and then write it off later on.I realize that I'm answering two questions here: 1) Do I believe in the legitimacy of prayer? and 2) Do I myself pray? So the full answer is that I do believe that prayer is a legitimate expression of belief, and I hold its alledged efficacy as a possibility, but not really a probability, and as a general rule, I only pray when I feel completely incapable of dealing with whatever circumstances are before me.There are other complications, of course, and I feel as though, in some sense, I'm continually carrying on a kind of hypothetical dialogue with God, the same way that you might carry on an imaginary dialogue with your girlfriend when she's away for a night, or in the same way that you might carry on a dialogue with an author you've never met inbetween chapters of his book. That isn't prayer in a ritual sense, by any means, but I feel as though it were somehow equivalent. After all, what's in question with the issue of prayer, at least from my perspective, is the attempt to communicate with a deity. The lines are simply a great deal more sharply drawn here, and the situation differs from those comparisons I've made in that you know that your girlfriend or Harold Bloom remain ignorant of the imaginary conversation, whereas God is either omnipotent and aware of the conversation -- both the part I play and the part I assign to God -- or God isn't omnipotent; either God is interested in what I have to say, or God isn't.
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Re: Validation

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I suppose I'm done with my questioning. Now that we've discussed your beliefs I can comfortably say I have no clue what you believe in. And it appears you don't really know either. Good luck on your journey.Chris
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