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God and I, Me and the gods, what Religion means to Me

Engage in conversations about worldwide religions, cults, philosophy, atheism, freethought, critical thinking, and skepticism in this forum.
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Tiarella

Re: Theology of Testosterone

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Whoa, there, Shannon, you're putting words in Chris' mouth that are the opposite of what he says; that ain't kosher. (I'm still reading your post. )He doesn't hold that you're either with Bush or against him - quite the contrary.And he won't be here for a week or so to refute your misrepresentation - so we'll have to wait.
Tiarella

Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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Niall, I like your explanation of Dissident's explanations. However - Dissident claims to be an expert in the field of religion and the study of god. That being so, I don't think it's too much to ask him for clear answers to the questions Chris raised.I'd be more inclined to let you off the hook, Dissident, if you hadn't set yourself up as the superior scholar.
Tiarella

Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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Quote:Seeking peace, acting justly, loving mercy, offering hope, encouraging the oppressed, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, joyful celebration of the sorrows and tragedies in life, with full passion to learn and understand and care for God's wondrous creation...Quote:this means really rolling up your sleeves and joining in the struggle for peace and justice in the world, starting with the oppressed and beaten, sharing in their journey, living with them, as one of them, breaking bread, mourning loss, celebrating life...the list of options are wide openI have done these things. My parents have done this. My grandparents did this.We don't believe in god, though.Do you think only people who believe in god care for the world and those who inhabit it?eta: I used the past tense because I am no longer physically able to do the volunteer work I previously did. My 80-year old parents are still at it, though. Edited by: Tiarella at: 10/20/04 8:29 pm
Tiarella

Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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*grins at Shannon* Yes, this is when you impress me most.I'm hearing you say that you can't know what god is unless you take that leap of faith, and believe in god, first.We humans have a knack for deluding ourselves. Following this method, I could persuade myself to believe in absolutely anything. That belief would not make the believed-in-thing real.(Weren't we discussing some of these ideas in the Michael Shermer forum? They're in his book, anyway.)eta: we're posting almost simultaneously! So I missed the post immediately preceding this one. Quote:folks who embrace a Spiritual practice of prayer, meditation, worship, fellowship...are better able to stick it out for the long haul, not get burned out as easy, and don't get crushed with minor and major defeats along the wayYup, that's my folks - still at it in their 80s - but minus the belief in god. I'd hold that it's the human community (their own support group) that makes the difference, not a belief in god. Edited by: Tiarella at: 10/20/04 8:46 pm
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Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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Quote:I don't give a damn about all the smoke and mirror subjects you keep throwing up in the face of the real issue. I want to know if a God ACTUALLY EXISTS, not all about the effects of the belief in a God.Seeking peace, acting justly, loving mercy, offering hope, encouraging the oppressed, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, joyful celebration of the sorrows and tragedies in life, with full passion to learn and understand and care for God's wondrous creation...this is smoke and mirrors to you. Since I am making the case that this is what it means to have faith in God: that this network of relationships and activities and attitudes is what it means to "believe in God", there is no way to collapse it all into a concept "God" and then explain how it exists.If you want to see how God exists, in the way that I am defining the term, then you have to engage this network of relationships, actions and attitudes. Thus, there is no way to type a defintion of who, what, where, why, when is God. You can't there from here like that. Rage at the screen, pound the keyboard, attack my gentalia, throw scat in the forum, strut bravely pounding your chest...you wont produce any meaningful results.What I've tried to show, and obviously not as well as I would like, and often slipping into my own character defects of arrogant self-righteousness and belligerence...is that the answer to your questions requires engaging these networks of relationships, attitudes and actions.IF you were willing to examine these various religious histories, and all of their complex commonalities and differences, you would find that God is not simply a concept derived at by weighing and analyzing concepts and theories.On the contrary, you would find that God is one piece of a complex network (there's that word again) that makes sense only within this arrangement of habits, narratives, rituals, dances, etc. You know, those richly diverse and wondrously delightful treats of life you flippantly dismiss as "smoke and mirrors".So, I say again: if you are really interested in finding answers to your questions, then explore these networks of relationships, attitudes and actions...this means really rolling up your sleeves and joining in the struggle for peace and justice in the world, starting with the oppressed and beaten, sharing in their journey, living with them, as one of them, breaking bread, mourning loss, celebrating life...the list of options are wide open- but terribly costly, and could very well kill you.Quote:I'm saying that it has NOTHING to do with our CURRENT discussion. If you'd like to discuss the history of religion and religious peoples then start a thread with that subject heading.And, by saying that, you expose how little you understand the subject...which, by the way is "God an I, Me and the Gods, and What Religion means to me". Perhaps you can start a thread that is titled "How everyone is wrong about Religion, but me...even though I haven't bothered to really look into it"?Quote:And what do you know about what I have studied about world religions, cults, and the psychology associated with faith and religious belief? You're hoping that by insulting me enough you'll sway the audience into accepting that you've made some sort of actual point. Well, you haven't. Hey, I'd love to know what you've studied about the many schools of Liberation and Eco-Theology, or Tibetan Buddhism, or Ecumenical Inter-Religious Dialogue, or the Jesus Seminar, or the Bible and Form, Historical, Ideological, Textual, Feminist, and Social Scientific Criticism, or Jewish Renewal or Progressive Islam or Religion and Architecture, Dance, Art, or Spirituality and Healing, Chaplaincy for the dying and the homeless...I mean, if you are the one so quick and able to dismiss this all as ball-less nonsense, I should hope you can verify it with some knowledge of the prominent issues, texts, biographies, histories, etc.But you haven't, and continue to choose not to. Which leads me to believe you haven't done the work that would provide the legitimacy of a respectable point of view on the matter. You're like someone who barges into a ten thousand year old conversation, not bothering to get caught up with the general flow, main points, key elements, events and characters...and demands to know, in a few sentences, what the hell is going on. Actually, I've captured this element of your approach to the subject in an earlier thread, and I'll resurrect it now, because I think it fits in well:Quote:The painter assembles a mix of colors and brushes, arranges them across a canvas using light and shadow to construct a piece with an integrity and logic inherent to its own horizon and theme. There is a community of fellows within the field that have added their presence to the piece as instructors, fellow students, admirers and critics- all imparting an influence of various degrees, some obvious and others only implicit. There is also an audience of viewers who receive the piece as one in a series by the same artist, or among others in a gallery or shared wall, or by itself surrounded by text in a magazine or in a frame on a shelf. There is also the community of family and peers and neighborhood and household that have worked to raise the artist from the womb as a personality in constant relationship with others.The musician, dancer, chef, writer, architect and any who employ the complexities of intelligence and mind to build and create, solve and communicate, celebrate and mourn- all are engaged within a similar nexus of relationships, memories, and personalities...developing works with an inherent logic and integrity that makes sense only within this complex array of forces.Then, Chris marches in, grubby handed and storm trooper bootstrapped, demanding "Define this art!" "Either you tell me exactly what it means, how it got here, why it is here, and what it is for...or you are a coward and liar and ignorant fool!"And, upon not receiving the only information he can stomach, he vomits upon the piece with rules, expectations and logic completely foreign to the horizon, integrity and logic inherent to the work. Then, he takes out his scissors and begins slicing, dissecting, scraping, peeling...thinking this is the only way to understand the piece.When finished, he smugly barks, "Ah Hah! Just as I thought, Rubbish!" and walks away wiping his hands of the creativity he neither understands nor cares to learn from.And, continuing the theme of your inability to see how pointless and meaningless your questions have actually becomeQuote:Just because I won't allow you to dodge the question and change subjects to unrelated topics doesn't mean that I don't actually care about those topics. I simply DO NOT WANT TO DISCUSS THEM WITH YOU IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS SUBJECT!But, they are related, integral, and without them the conversation is meaningless...because the meaning of the term "God" is ascertainable, accessable, tangible only within this context...outside of the context, it is just a terribly loaded term that simply wont allow itself to be encapsulated or defined....except by Fundamentalists and rabid Atheists- who are really flip sides of the same coin: folks compelled to define God for all persons in all ways and at all times, and absolutely certain their defintion is the only valid one.Quote:What do you find when you visit a homeless shelter and see volunteers dishing out warm soup, blankets and compassion? God? Bullshit. Is God under the table? Where the hell is God? It is HUMAN BEINGS that are displaying compassion and empathy. If you'd like to call this display "God," then more power to you. But be sure to say what you're doing.Well, in good Fundamnentalist fashion, you are quick to define for others what they really think and feel...and, just like the scissors and tweezers approach to Rembrandt that you have mastered- you find it important to stampede into these terribly sacred places and offer explanations and defintions for everyone involved- to hell with what they think and feel and believe, you know better than them. Good for you Chris. Never mind actually asking them, or perhaps even learning from them, or maybe even being taught a thing or two about human beings and the God some of them choose to worship- no, why bother, you already know it all.
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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Quote:Dissident claims to be an expert in the field of religion and the study of god. That being so, I don't think it's too much to ask him for clear answers to the questions Chris raised.I'd be more inclined to let you off the hook, Dissident, if you hadn't set yourself up as the superior scholar.Tiarella,I've never claimed expertise in the field of Religious Studies...that requires many years and lots of gray hairs. And, just being a scholar that knows alot about Religion is not the same thing as an active member of a community of Faith who practices with whole heart, body and mind.The scholar may be able to describe what is happening from the outisde looking in- but will never know what the believer knows until actually believing. And, by the way, not everybody in a Religion believes the same way, not even in the same Church, not even sitting on the same Pew, and sometimes they carry conflicting beliefs within themselves too that shift, evolve and change over time.I am a passionate student of the subject, have immersed myself in the many traditions learning from the Orthodox and the Heretical, the Faithful and the Atheist...and I see no good reason to stop. It fills me with joy, excitement, is never boring, is always introducing new ideas and habits about humanity and the world, and I think has made me a better person...with lots of room to grow (as my occasional slips into arrogant disregard for the feelings of others, and latching onto to disagreements like a damned bulldog).I am trying.
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The Cost of Joy

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Quote:Do you think only people who believe in god care for the world and those who inhabit it?Not at all. It's hard work to care for the world and love what is often damned unlovable.I encourage anybody who wants to take the very difficult path of healing and justice in life...the pay sucks, hours are terrible, personalities are raw and rough, and you will probably piss a few people off along the way...and if you get really serious about it, I mean, really devote your life to it- not simply a hobby or weekend sport - you will inevitably upset the powerful and mighty and face their wrath.In the face of that kind of pressure, pain, and dauntless effort, I find that folks who embrace a Spiritual practice of prayer, meditation, worship, fellowship...are better able to stick it out for the long haul, not get burned out as easy, and don't get crushed with minor and major defeats along the way.This is only my experience, and it corresponds to the study I have made of those who work in the helping professions and engage in radical social justice activism.Again, I certainly have no market on how to get this kinf of work done...and encourage all who find it important to dive in...but expect a lot of grief along the way...and extraordinary joy.
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Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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Niall:"Interbane, what is religion if not a way of looking at the world?"It is a way of looking at the world. There are many religions in our world, and not all of them can be true. Actually, most of them must be false if any one of the monotheistic religions must be true. Overall, I am confident in generalizing religion to be false. Except for one common denominator which is God. In the debate wars, I see the belief in God as a completely separate issue from religion. Do not get me wrong, God and Religion are intimitely intertwined throughout our history, but with God being the common denominator, religion seems easily dismissed.Reread my question with that in mind.
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Re: Strength is nothing to be ashamed of...

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Niall:"So what Dissident is saying isn't completely illogical at all. He is saying that the experience of billions of individuals has led them to believe in a God so why not attempt to emulate their experiences."I read an article recently, pardon me for not remembering where, that said a test was conducted on monks during meditation. The monks were given a brain scan during the deepest portion of their trance and the scans showed a startling result. All of the monks had less blood flow to one part of their brain. The monks described this period as "Self Transcendence," which is essentially an out of body experience. The mind has evolved over thousands of years into a complexity that no one can comprehend. Many times when people have incredibly overwhelming or inexplicable experiences, both emotional and spiritual, there is a cause - an anomaly in the human brain.If you were to gather a collection of all the wierd things that people have 'claimed' to have experienced, that collection would cover every experience that you could imagine. Some of these people have experiences that contradict other people's experiences. When you step back and glance at what comes out of our society, you see that all of this cannot be true. There must be a cause. The human brain causes emotional discharge which is inexplicable outside of 'the unknown.' Humans point the finger to one 'greater cause' or another, but it is all tied into the complexities of the human brain. I do not say this with certainty, but it is a far simpler explanation than the existance of ghosts, karma, aliens, god, the devil, etc. Again, I plead parsimony.
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Emulation and Immersion

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Quote:"So what Dissident is saying isn't completely illogical at all. He is saying that the experience of billions of individuals has led them to believe in a God so why not attempt to emulate their experiences."Niall,I am not trying to make the case that people have experiences x, y, z and then find God. People come to accepting a definition, meaning, and application of the term in their lives for a wide array of reasons.Some delusional, some out of political oppression, some out of resentment at life, some out of fear of death, some out of wishful thinking, some out of economic despair, some out of habit, some out of practical application of the very best that intelligence can offer, and some out a love and hunger for what is just and joyous.My concern involves the kind of thinking, as many on this board do, that the term "God" can simply removed from a particular religious context and defined, explained, argued, analyzed by itself.I reject this approach, and find it reflects a serious ignorance regarding the ways in which Religious and Faith communities organize their worldviews and ways of life.Thus, I continually make the point: If you want to determine the reasonableness, the logic, the existence of God, then roll up your sleeves and get in the mix of the life of the tradition, history and community from which the term gains meaning.For me, as a Christian, the meaning of "God" is not separate from active participation in the lives of those who suffer oppression, hunger and despair...nor is God simply an idea or concept useful to motivate myself and others to a more moral lifestyle...God, in the context I employ the term, is the power of love that seeks peace, acts justly, imparts mercy and works to heal the broken hearted and damaged bodies of the world.Now, if you feel compelled to lift God out of that equation and place the term on a laboratory table for dissection apart from the context I provide...you will find nothing more than a meaningless, loaded, provocative utterance.Which leads me to agree, somehwat, with your idea that to understand what the term means, you need to immerse yourself within the context from which it arises...a process of emulation.
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