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Post Re: What did you think of the quote by Mark Twain in CH 3?
ginof wrote:
Quote:
faith is believing what you know ain't so

the way i took this statement was as a contradiction. what you know isn't actually true. do you not know anything? perhaps he's saying that's what faith is: a contradiction. What does everyone else think?


The contradiction is between popular and sophisticated faith. Harrison and Dawkins use Twain's bon mot to turn a valid critique of popular faith into an ad hominem basis to reject the possibility of sophisticated faith.

Popular faith is grounded in belief in miraculous signs and wonders as the mark of the supernatural. The virgin birth, heaven and creationism are directly contradicted by scientific evidence, so believing them requires a deliberate mental dislocation between faith and reason, with the faith claims kept in a separate a-logical mental compartment.

Sophisticated faith starts from scientific knowledge, and studies the claims of religion within the framework of compatibility with science. The Gospels present Jesus as an emblem of integrity in a fallen world, and of unarmed confidence. From within the Christian meta-narrative, Jesus is seen as bringing the beyond into the midst of the world in a way that respects the mystery of the beyond while engaging resolutely with the world. These attributes, in my opinion, make it reasonable to see Jesus as having a unique role and message without needing any magical input.

Saint Anselm had a famous saying, faith seeks understanding, to express the theological effort to reconcile philosophy and religion. I believe that such a rational faith is expressed by theologians such as Tillich (ground of being) and Bonhoeffer (beyond in the midst of the world). There is no need to believe things that are false for such a faith, and indeed such popular error is specifically ruled out by the biblical equation between God and truth.

This lens of rational faith enables reinterpretation of many biblical conventions. For example "I am the way the truth and the life" (John 14:6) suggests not the exclusive imperial claim of the prosletysers, but a statement that where ever we find the way the truth and the life we find Christ - in the very realities that are rejected and despised by the church - such as atheism.



Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:29 am
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Post Re: What did you think of the quote by Mark Twain in CH 3?
Hi Robert,

Thanks! I liked the way you put that.


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Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:03 am
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One more post ought to do it.

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Post 
Evolution ....is a slow process....

We cannot even begin to suggest...different ways of thinking about 'meaning'....until the 'delusional' people....begin to trust us.

They will only trust us....if we cease from ridiculing them.... :oops:


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Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:17 pm
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Penelope wrote:
Evolution ....is a slow process....We cannot even begin to suggest...different ways of thinking about 'meaning'....until the 'delusional' people....begin to trust us. They will only trust us....if we cease from ridiculing them.... :oops:


Penelope, with respect I completely disagree with you on this issue of the need for trust. I view cultural change as occurring through tipping points. Articulating the nature of a new culture is the only way to bring such a change. Your suggestion of showing respect for old ideas which are both wrong and dangerous is an unhelpful strategy. Compromise with error produces confusion and delay. It allows people to think that creationism and old fashioned supernaturalism are somehow legitimate. As you know, I am a theist, but the debate I am interested in is a debate with atheism, not a debate with supernaturalism. The ground for discussion should be a consensus on scientific truth, but supernaturalists place themselves outside this consensus so have nothing helpful to add.



Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:54 pm
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One more post ought to do it.

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Robert said:

Quote:
Your suggestion of showing respect for old ideas which are both wrong and dangerous is an unhelpful strategy.


I am not suggesting that we show respect for the 'ideas' I am suggesting that we show respect for the 'people'.

If we cannot persuade/arrange a dialogue, they will never hear us. And if we don't manage dialogue - the result is truly dangerous.

Quote:
Compromise with error produces confusion and delay.


How very true......but when I think of the alternative......I favour confusion and delay. I am taking a lesson in caution from recent and ancient history.


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Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:11 am
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Harrison's breezy style, in which he casually discusses beliefs which are at the basis of human identity, leads to a superficial account of the meaning of theology. I think a main part of the confusion is that the concept of God has evolved and mutated, cutting loose from its empirical moorings, especially in the Judeo-Christian concept. By going back to first principles, we can produce a robust critique of both Judeo-Christian theology and of the shallow atheism with which Harrison critiques it.

To illustrate what I am saying here, consider the Hindu concept of divinity, with thousands of divine beings but three main ones - Brahma the creator, Vishnu its preserver, and Shiva the God of Destruction. For Hindus, while these Gods have been the subject of elaborate fable, at base they refer to actual cosmic principles - whenever we see creation happening, that is an instance of the work of Brahma, wherever we see things sustained we see Vishnu, and wherever we see destruction Shiva and his consort Kali are active. The trouble Harrison has is that he cannot comprehend the metaphorical thinking whereby these cosmic principles are anthropomorphised to explain them to an ignorant population. He takes the popular form as though that was the source of the idea, when in fact, in the Hindu example, there is a profound intuition that human life engages with creation, sustaining and destruction, and that these principles must be acknowledged as forming the weave of life. When Hindus say Brahma is the creator, they are not necessarily implying an entity that magically pulls the creation puppet strings along the lines of so-called intelligent design, but that wherever we see creation occuring, that is Brahma.

Taking this metaphorical approach into Christianity, we need to assess the Gospels against modern scientific rationality, not in order to come up with a superficial skeptical statement that things are impossible, but to search for deeper meanings. For example, when Jesus said 'I am the true vine' he was not claiming to be a 'weregrape' but to incarnate a connection between humanity and the cosmos. When he said 'I am the way', he did not imply the Church teaching to smite the heathen, but rather that wherever we find the way to divinity there too is Christ.



Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:31 am
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Hi all... Yes it's me... (Try not to get too excited 8) ) I have read this rather long post and have something to add regarding the lack of accuracy in the crucifixion story of Jesus.

There are so many little (and major) discrepancies in that part of the bible that the whole story must be met with the highest scrutiny.

Aside from the detail of the spikes in the hands the overall scenario is lacking in legitimacy. The Romans did not generally torture a person before crucifixion unless they were being interrogated, which was not the case with Jesus. The Romans did not carry spears, they used a javelin type weapon called a pilum, and the difference is very notable. Finally a Roman soldier would never kill a crucified prisoner and shorten the suffering that they had been condemned to.

Further analysis shows that the entire trial was illegal under Jewish law at that time and the Jewish court system could execute prisoners without going to the Roman occupiers for consent. The story of the crucifixion violates all of these known facts.

From a historic stand point the whole story seems devoid of any credibility and since we do not even know who the author was we cannot give the story any intellectual validity. In fact the whole tale seems to have been written by someone who did not know about such details, clearly eliminating them from the possibility of having been an eyewitness to the event, or even a local to that region in that time frame.

Penelope,

I am sorry I cannot help much with the whole reincarnation thing in the biblical scripture, I do recall the passage you mentioned earlier but frankly it was not something that I was paying attention to. I no doubt passed over many such inconsistencies during my readings.

Later


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Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:21 am
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Post 50 reasons people give for believing in a god - by Guy P. Ha
As the Leader {The Rev. Pommegranat} of the 'Exploding Pommegranat' religion,I believe my religion should be given equal time in schools as 'Evolution' and other religions. By the way 'Rev' stands for reverse ! Thank-you. PPS. Atheists can't Prove I'm wrong-so there.



Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:17 am
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Well Jaywalker your religion of the exploding pomegranate will have to compete with tried and true religions like the Flying Spaghetti Monster... and in that religion you dress up as pirates. I do not know how you can compete with that...

:laugh: Later


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Post 
Frank 013 wrote:
Well Jaywalker your religion of the exploding pomegranate will have to compete with tried and true religions like the Flying Spaghetti Monster... and in that religion you dress up as pirates. I do not know how you can compete with that...

:laugh: Later

Hi Frank, welcome back.

Competition among religions is a matter of adaptive mythic resonance. Those that have it succeed and those that don't fail. Many people view the Flying Spaghetti Monster as just as feasible as Jehovah, but really, you would have to admit Jehovah has a stronger mythic resonance in human culture.

I think you are right that stories about Jesus got jumbled up in the New Testament. It is a supreme irony that 'doubting Thomas' uses a most unlikely event (stigmata) as a proof that Jesus is Lord. It shows how the Jesus meme adapted and mutated in between his alleged lifetime and when it was recorded in the Gospels. This mutation occurred under extreme selective pressure, what with Titus wielding the crucifix with such gay abandon as to cause the diaspora.



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Hey RT,

One of my biggest complaints of most American Christians is that very, very few of them know anything about their religion; not the history, not the biblical atrocities none of it.

Yet they claim to believe it as true nonetheless.

I suspect that the churches keep the masses in the dark purposely because they know that very little (if any) of their sacred book can be confirmed historically and that it contradicts itself so often that any message, even one of hate can be justified by looking to the biblical scripture.

Finally yes it is true that Christianity has ingrained itself into our culture more than FSM, of course it had a 2,000 year head start... and I don't think that this fact is necessarily a good thing.

Later


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Sat Aug 23, 2008 6:49 am
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Post inside the eggshell
"Dogma is to my spirit as an eggshell to the chick. I could not help being born within the eggshell of dogma. I could not develop free from its pervasive presence. But, if I do not break free from it dogma will entomb my soul."

Dogma is written by men. A church exists because of and is defined by its statement of dogma. There are 2,800 allegedly Christian churches in America today.

When the conversation is nothing more than "my dogma is better than your dogma" both are suffocating under the delusion there is a correct answer about god. That presumption is human pride. In the matter of god, there is no answer only belief. The individual, personal, and unique belief of each person who answers the question "is there a god?"

It is a puzzle to me neither Frank, Robert and others did not respond to that piece of logic nor did anyone refute the accuracy of it. Come on folks, I've got two months before I won't be able to change the text of my essay. Let me have your best shots.



Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:16 pm
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Lawrence, as I've said many times before, all beliefs are not created equally. A completely arbitrary belief does not have as high of a probability of being true as a belief founded upon solid inductive reasoning. Can you at least agree with me that some beliefs are pretty wacky?

"my dogma is better than your dogma"

You're using "dogma" in place of "belief about God." So swap them out and I hear you saying, "My belief about God is better than your belief about God." Are we together at this point?

Now, swap out the vague "belief about God" with an actual concrete statement of belief about God, such as "I believe God is made of lime green Jell-O and has peanuts for eyes. And I believe this lime green Jell-O God wants me to eat 5 oz. of Nutella every Thursday at 3:15 Eastern." Lawrence, there are wacky religions with this crazy of beliefs.

Pretend this is your belief about God. In other words this is your dogma. This is the dogma you have accepted. You with me?

Now, I on the other hand have the following belief about God. My dogma is simply that I believe some sort of deity or god exists somewhere in the cosmos. This God doesn't interact with humanity, according to my beliefs, because I see no evidence of said interaction. Prayers don't appear to work. God doesn't appear to care whether we live or die or prosper or suffer. God is clearly an impersonal sort of fellow. But I do believe in him because I cannot fathom a complex universe such as the one in which we live originating all on it's own without some sort of intelligent creator.

So there you have it. Two very different beliefs or dogmas about God.

Your belief is that God is made out of lime green Jell-O and he has some strict orders you're expected to follow. My perception or belief about God is that he created the universe, but doesn't interact with it on any level I can detect.

Two very different beliefs. Two dogmas. We both believe what we believe with equal conviction.

When the conversation is nothing more than "my dogma is better than your dogma" both are suffocating under the delusion there is a correct answer about god.

Would you not agree that my belief about God is more logical, rational and probable than your belief about God? Don't you see that all beliefs aren't equally probable?

Can anyone else help me with this?

Another example....

You believe John McCain is a superhero that can fly and juggle school buses. I believe John McCain is sexually attracted to office furniture.

Both are beliefs. But are both equally probable?

I've explained myself once before and I'm not sure why I'm not making sense to you. Some beliefs are moronic. Some make quite a bit of sense.

So sometimes "my dogma is better than your dogma" is a factual statement.



Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:41 am
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Post Thank you
Thank you for taking the time to dialogue with me. I believe I have understood what you are saying, however, this exchange was extremely clear. Clear enough that I think I can show why you are not grasping the accuracy of my statement.

In your comparison of my lime green god with your finite godist god you are presuming that your conclusions are more rational and logical ergo better than mine. But they are not better to me. My belief controls my body mind and spirit. And besides, my mommy and daddy believe in the lime green god. All of my aunts and uncles believe in the lime green god. Everyone in my nation believe in the lime green god. Who are you to say my lime green god is not rational.

And that is my argument. When we discuss matters that can only be based upon belief there is no person to establish a right and wrong or a more right or more wrong. It simply can not be done.

Now as to your personal belief, absolutely but that only affects you. If you think your belief is better for you, you go for it. Just don't try to drag anyone else with you. That is what makes you a tyrant.

Are we clear on this yet. I'm glad I'm back.



Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:48 am
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Post 
Quote:
When we discuss matters that can only be based upon belief there is no person to establish a right and wrong or a more right or more wrong. It simply can not be done.


I'm struggling to find the right words. This is why I'm hoping someone more articulate jumps in here and joins the discussion. But you're making a huge mistake in reasoning.

First of all what sort of matters can only be based upon belief? Let's assume two theists are debating the nature of God. Both believe a deity exists, but Theist #1 attributes nothing other than existence to the deity, while Theist #2 attributes exitsence and compassion, love, and supernatural powers to the deity.

Both of their beliefs have no evidence or support, so the belief is based strictly on dogma and faith, but Theist #2 has assigned some qualities that can be critically examined using logic. Theist #1 remains wisely vague so nobody can attack his or her God belief, but Theist #2, by virtue of assigning attributes to his or her God is now open to critical examination.

Actually, on further thought, I don't think I can explain myself any better.



Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:31 am
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