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"the dignity of atheism"

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Dissident Heart

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Re: Re:athiests are the best!!!

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This tells us something about what folks understand the character of God to be. It seems God, as someunderstand the notion, would not tolerate error, flaw, inconsistency, contradiction, or other human, all-too-human imperfections and defects in Holy Scripture. God, as they see it, couldn't/wouldn't use such flawed transmission to get the sacred point across.Of course, this is very much the same point of view that most Bible Fundamentalists adhere to. Their God could/would only work through an absolutely perfect and totally error-free vehicle. No need to question it, challenge it, confront it, or demand answers: simply submit and do as you are told. I think this reflects a type of totalitarian approach to Scripture that is in essence an Imperial project.I think there is a better way to approach the inconsistencies and errors in the text (beyond simply rejecting the text as nonsense or denying the brutalities and flaws). Instead, recognize these errors/brutalities as a reflection of the conflict between the Imperial and Prophetic forces within the Biblical authors. This conflict permeated the worlds they lived in and the audiences they wrote for. It also exists within our own selves and the world where we struggle to survive with dignity and love. Perhaps the appropriate relation to this conflicted Scripture is to:- confront the Imperial narratives within it, - lift up the voices of Prophetic hope, - utilize this conflict within the text to illuminate similar conflicts within our own lives,- and mobilize to act ways to minimize and heal the damage created by Imperial domination. This, to me, reflects the character of a God worthy of worship: a challenge to confront Imperial domination no matter how holy or sacred its source; even if it is believed to come straight from God. Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 9/17/06 6:07 pm
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Re: Awesome Athiests!!!

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Any thoughts?
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Re: Awesome Athiests!!!

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I'm too busy creating an ad to sell your home! Seriously. That is what I'm working on right now.
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Re: Re:athiests are the best!!!

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Frederika: your desire for a god of love to heal a broken humanity seems very noble; perhaps few could find fault with this in itself.I suppose there are many who would see this kind of desire as weak, unable to cope with a world where violence and will to power direct the course of human affairs. There are undoubtedly many who would argue that the broken deserve their misery and due to their weakness they are simply unable to adapt and survive...all the better, more resources for the strong. A God of love, compassion, sensitive to the desparations of the outcast and oppressed is a silly fantasy rooted in resentment towards those who are powerful enough to survive in a world of force and domination. Love is not God in this world, so the dominators and imperialists and power hungry say....only a fool would think such a thing. Thus, why would you think my notion of a God of love to be noble and worthy of respect?Frederika: However, I do see a problem in that your desire is simply that: YOUR desire.I know I desire water, which is a good thing considering without it I would die. The same can be said for a multitude of desires that correspond to healthy outcomes. Simply because I desire God doesn't make God any less real. And, it is hardly my desire alone. I share it with many others, and across lots of generations, continents and millenia. As I research, study, and contemplate the depth of this desire in these many others with whom I share this journey...I discover that it is actually a wondrously fascinating subject: admittedly fraught with error and given to its own excesses and lunacies...but it ocassionally reaches moments of real beauty, offering clarity and explanatory force regarding myself and the world around me.Frederika: people find the bible to tell them all sorts of different things...and i think this is dangerous territory.No argument here. Again, when people are hurt, frightened and feel under assault...their capacities to consider alternatives, explore nuances, listen to their opponents and be willing to learn from them...are rejected for more defensive and aggressive measures. I think there are more than a few Atheists who approach the Bible in precisely the way I've just described.People use technology and its attendign scientific methods and principles in all sorts of different and dangerous ways: why do some choose to apply their knowledge to build eco-friendly sustainable energy sources; and others to build weapons of mass destruction?Frederika: But I am wondering why do you think this pulp fiction is indeed sacred? Why can it not simply be a book that inspires you and teaches you about yourself?Your first question is not an easy one to answer, because it is one that I am still in the process of trying to understand for myself. There are more than a few Christians who would say my approach to the Bible is anythig but sacred, and I should admit my disobedience and join the ranks of the unsaved unbelievers. Perhaps another thread is required to really make sense of the term "sacred" and then explore ways that people embrace it for themselves. For now, the Bible is important to me because I find truth in it again and again: accurate descriptions of the world around and within me. I think it is an extraordinary book, moreso than any other (this is not excluding others, but more a reflection of my limited literary experience) in that it is impossible. It simply should not exist. Please allow me to quote myself from another thread on the subject of Jesus to capture the essence of my point:Quote:I find it extraordinary that these Jesus narratives even exist, or were allowed to exist. They are profoundly radical and subversive, challenging all of the dominant power structures of that day: offering a message and program that was in conflict with and inimical to Rome and every empire since. This child of political refugees, raised in occupied territory, in conflict with the dominant religious systems, encouraging sedition against occupying forces, disrupting ancient patriarchial kinship codes, challenging all the mediterranean customs of healing purities and eating hierarchies, without an army or political status, who in the end is arrested, tortured, executed, risen to new life....why this story becomes the guiding and normative narrative for millenia of civilizations, is baffling.I understand how the Roman Empire eventually endorsed Christianity as the State Religion, thus creating an Imperial Church. But this was not an endorsement of Jesus the crucified Jew, but a fantasy called Christus Victor: Christ as Cosmic Ceasar! This is how the normalcy of imperial conquest steals the revolutionary impulse of the prophetic spirit. But why the great European and American empires for the past two millenia would allow such a subversive story like Jesus' to exist is, I think, one of the most interesting twists in human history. Not only to allow it to exist, but to make it their own, steal its fire, use it against the very spirit of revolutionary change that made it in the first place. I should think the entire element of the Jesus corpus that reflected revolutionary subversiveness wouldv'e been removed by now: edited out of existence and replaced with a more compliant Easter Bunny and Santa Claus character. I find it impossible that the radicality of Jesus has not been erased from literary history. But, there it is. A flagrant affront to all things hierarchical, imperial, militarist, built on gold or dominator status: that is a miracle, to me.I am also honored to follow in the footsteps of men and women from across the Globe and history for whom this book was not a tool for stupifying the masses, but for liberation and transformation.Frederika: Your desire to find a god of justice, hope, and love is no different from another's desire to find a god of war and vengeance. Both projections come from the personal natures of desire, need, bias, etc; therefore they are equal in that sense.I think their approach misses the great pulse of the text, which is not about vengeance and punishment...but about grace and forgiveness. I think their approach, as I've argued, is more easily explained as a projection created out of fear and pain. I think mine is something more rooted in hope and healing...something that takes seriously the power of emancipation and resurrection that I think are far more important in the text. I don't think these two approaches are equal.
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Re: Re:athiests are the best!!!

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Quote:A God of love, compassion, sensitive to the desperations of the outcast and oppressed is a silly fantasy rooted in resentment towards those who are powerful enough to survive in a world of force and domination. Love is not God in this world, so the dominators and imperialists and power hungry say....only a fool would think such a thing. Thus, why would you think my notion of a God of love to be noble and worthy of respect?If that god existed he/she would be worthy of respect, but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest such a thing. It's not the type of god that we argue but the belief in any gods at all. Quote:I know I desire water, which is a good thing considering without it I would die. The same can be said for a multitude of desires that correspond to healthy outcomes. Simply because I desire God doesn't make God any less real.The physical need for water cannot be equaled to you wanting a god to exist; in fact your admittance to such a desire puts your objectivity in question. People who do this often work backwards from a problem making an assumption first and seeking out the evidence that supports it. The problem with this type of logic is obvious, they never see the opposing arguments which are often far more valid. The theists who do see the opposing material and remain faithful either dismiss the material as lies, or transform their religion to allow for the conflicting evidence. Your quote from above is a good example, you take the Jesus myth at face value, yet there is no hard evidence that the guy ever existed at all. In fact the absence of any evidence during the alleged time of Jesus' life suggests that he never existed and was either made up, or his deeds and death vastly exaggerated.In short considering the complete lack of evidence why believe that anything attributed the Jesus myth was real?Quote:I think their approach misses the great pulse of the text, which is not about vengeance and punishment...but about grace and forgiveness.And I think that your view of the text is vastly different than most other Christians also you tend to ignore the majority of the violent and intolerant text, this is nearly as dangerous as using it because it leaves it open for use in the future. In fact much of it is being used today; denying gays marital rights is just one example the restriction of stem cell research is another. Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 9/21/06 11:56 pm
Federika22

Re: Re:athiests are the best!!!

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Quote:DH: There are undoubtedly many who would argue that the broken deserve their misery and due to their weakness they are simply unable to adapt and survive...all the better, more resources for the strong.Perhaps you are right; however, I am very unfamiliar with people who express this hard-line point of view. Quote:DH: Thus, why would you think my notion of a God of love to be noble and worthy of respect?I think the qualities you regularly express in your posts (of love for humanity, hope, forgiveness, aid, etc, etc) are of high value to our world and worthy of respect. I also have a natural humanitarian heart so I relate to many of your ideas and find them noble, from my point of view. When it comes to the god part, you lose me, because I don't feel a need to create a god in order to explain these values, feelings, qualities, etc. I don't see evidence of a deity, nor find that the benefits of creating one through imagination and/or by wrestling my way through a so-called sacred text until it "fits" outweigh the detriments that are caused because of this created god. That said, I can easily empathize with the desire people have to explain these confusing lives we lead. There are unspeakable pains, trials, inequities, losses, and of course the fear of death that haunts many. So I feel I understand your desire for a loving God who adds a sense of order to the chaotic, who offers hope and peace to the downtrodden. To me, this desire reveals a noble character but does not justify a belief in a god. Quote:DH: I know I desire water, which is a good thing considering without it I would die. The same can be said for a multitude of desires that correspond to healthy outcomes. Simply because I desire God doesn't make God any less real. And, it is hardly my desire alone. I share it with many others, and across lots of generations, continents and millennia. I don't think that comparing a need for water to a need for a god works. It's apples and oranges. I agree with what Frank said on this reasoning: Quote:Frank: People who do this often work backwards from a problem making an assumption first and seeking out the evidence that supports it.Simply your desire for God does not make God any more real. This is working forwards rather than backwards. And the fact that you share the desire to find a god with many people throughout time has no bearing on the existence of a god, only that many people have or have had this same desire. Quote:DH: People use technology and its attendign scientific methods and principles in all sorts of different and dangerous ways: why do some choose to apply their knowledge to build eco-friendly sustainable energy sources; and others to build weapons of mass destruction? This is very true, and is a testament to the vast differences in people and their interests, desires, biases, motives, etc, etc. But I don't think this really has much to do with the fact that many Christians believe the bible, or god through the bible, is actually talking to them through the text. I have no doubt that people can read the same thing and take away vastly different meanings and interpretations...but it is something different all together when the text is no longer "a text" but a "sacred text." Then who is to say who is the correct interpreter of the real sacred message? Your fascination and awe of the Jesus story is understandable when seen in the context in which you present it. Thank you for sharing your earlier quote with me; it was very interesting to read and think about. I still don't understand how you find the bible sacred, even though you mentioned that you think it a miracle that the story of Jesus has survived for so long. I realize you are still coming to understanding on this subject, but it seems to me you are indeed working backwards from your desire to believe in a god. I continue to wonder why your lessons from the text are not enough on their own...? There were many tales I have been exposed to that have taught me a lot about life and myself, and it did not bother me that I knew they were stories and myths. The lessons and love I had for the stories were enough. Quote:DH: I think their approach misses the great pulse of the text, which is not about vengeance and punishment...but about grace and forgiveness. I think their approach, as I've argued, is more easily explained as a projection created out of fear and pain. I think mine is something more rooted in hope and healing...something that takes seriously the power of emancipation and resurrection that I think are far more important in the text. I don't think these two approaches are equal.Many, using the bible as a source, could argue that their view is about grace and forgiveness, yet find examples of tyranny that could somehow coexist in this view. Again, my point here is this is very arguable, especially when talking about a source that is errant and contradictory. Edited by: Federika22 at: 9/22/06 9:19 pm
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Sacred Contexts: Contextual Sacredness

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Frank: If that god existed he/she would be worthy of respect, but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest such a thing.I suggest a different approach. Instead of demanding proof for the existence of God, experiment living a Christian life as I have tried to describe it. I think immersing yourself in a Christian framework involving scripture, worship, ceremony, prayer, meditation, justice seeking and sojourn with the outcast...all of this will provide a depth of understanding regarding God (and humanity) that, I think, takes this discussion to an entirely different level. But if you are satisfied simply observing from the outside, looking in, I don't think you'll ever be competent to really discuss the issues. Frank: It's not the type of god that we argue but the belief in any gods at all.That's if arguing about the existence of God is the most important thing in this discussion. I don't think it is. Again, I suggest a more wholistic approach: something that requires more than marshalling arguments pro and con.Frank: The physical need for water cannot be equaled to you wanting a god to exist; in fact your admittance to such a desire puts your objectivity in question.I wasn't equating the desire for water with a desire for God, but showing how human desires do not always lead to mere fantasy or delusion. You were dismissing my claims regarding God because they are rooted in my desire to find God. There is a long and varied tradition in history of religions (which includes and goes far beyond Christianity) that speaks to the desire for God: a burning, longing, passion and hunger that precedes all else and defines the parameters for what is ultimately important and meaningful in life. It is this desire that defines what is good, true, beautiful and just: it provides the telos and purpose to life. I don't claim to fully understand it. I know that when I examine this desire in myself, within the Christian context as I have described it thusfar, it is the source of real inspiration and courage...and it fires my intellect to explore, investigate and learn all that I can about myself and the world around me. So, I don't see it as a hinderance to understanding or a will to ignorance: on the contrary, I see it as a spur to vibrant living.Frank: you take the Jesus myth at face value, yet there is no hard evidence that the guy ever existed at all.Actually, I think my take on Jesus is substantially different from those Christians who emphasize a supernatural demigod transcending the political historical realities of 1st century Palestine. The overwhelming consensus of scholars in Ancient Near Eastern, Mediterranean, Roman, Jewish and Religous histories reject your extreme thesis...and offer something far closer to mine.Frank: you tend to ignore the majority of the violent and intolerant text, this is nearly as dangerous as using it because it leaves it open for use in the future.I think I've been upfront and critical about the violent side of the Bible...what some have called "texts of terror"...and have offered one approach that avoids the either/or trap that I think you have fallen into: ie, the other side of the fundamentalist coin (either all fact or all fiction/either complete obedience or total rejection). I tried to show (perhaps unsuccessfully) that biblical interpretation is only one part of the Christian life, and when placed into the practice that I've described, can and will avoid the dangers you've rightly identified.The fact that others have and will abuse this text is undeniable. The fact that some can find liberatory hope and joy is also undeniable. I am willing to accept the first fact; are you willing to accept the latter?Frederika: however, I am very unfamiliar with people who express this hard-line point of view.History is full of them, and a cursory examination of contemporary geo-politics and international economics will offer more than a few examples. I like to call it the Sopranos (after the HBO series) model: it is violent, territorial, ruthless, and imperial in structure and implementation...I think it is the norm, not the exception. I think the humanitarian vision that you and I share are difficult to justify in a Sopranos universe. Knowing how violent history has been, and how deadly the contemporary scene is...how do you maintain hope in your humanitarian vision?Frank: the fact that you share the desire to find a god with many people throughout time has no bearing on the existence of a god, only that many people have or have had this same desire.Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm not certain about this yet. I'm still working to understand what it means to desire God. As I see it, this requires actually engaging a method of religious practice that nurtures, develops and trains this desire. It may prove futile. It hasn't yet.Frederika: Then who is to say who is the correct interpreter of the real sacred message? I think there some explanatory models are more effective than others. I don't think there is a ground zero point that trumps all others. I think the admittedly cursory approach I've offered can provide a better utilization of the text (with all of its contradiction and brilliance) than the alternatives you've provided. I am not worried, necessarily, that we are unable to find an archimedian point of certainty or authority regarding the Bible.
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Re: Atheists, still the coolest!!!

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Quote:I suggest a different approach. Instead of demanding proof for the existence of God, experiment living a Christian life as I have tried to describe it. I think immersing yourself in a Christian framework involving scripture, worship, ceremony, prayer, meditation, justice seeking and sojourn with the outcast...all of this will provide a depth of understanding regarding God (and humanity) that, I think, takes this discussion to an entirely different level.I fail to see a single reason to waste my time with such an endeavor. I can do good deeds, seek justice, love and be social with friends/loved ones without any of that other time consuming rubbish. I have understanding of myself and the world I see around me, I am at peace with myself and my conscious. Worship, ceremony, prayer, meditation I see no need for these things in my life, with the exception of meditation. I do meditate but not in a spiritual way, it is more of a mental exercise of personal relaxation and I can use it for short periods as a pain management technique. But this has nothing to do with gods.So I ask you, why should I seek something I already have? I just have it without a god. Quote:But if you are satisfied simply observing from the outside, looking in, I don't think you'll ever be competent to really discuss the issues.Let me get this straight, because I won't immerse myself in Christian ceremony I cannot possibly understand what you are feeling and that feeling is what leads you to your belief in god?Many atheists have come out of the religious world, how is it that they missed that special warm fuzzy? I think you want a god to exist so much that this need enhances your experience in a religious setting, but this is not true of all people. I have been to church, it was nice, like a fancy library, I sat through the ceremonies and it took all my will to stay awake. The feeling I got was boredom, the songs were nice because the quire was very talented. But I did not feel anything special about the experience. I would have to file those experiences as "I could have done something better with that time." Quote:That's if arguing about the existence of God is the most important thing in this discussion. I don't think it is. Our questions to you center on this exact topic, what makes you believe there is a god? Why would you trust a book we know to be false in many areas and unconfirmed in the rest? Why is it that you cannot argue the point logically if the feeling is indeed universal and real?Quote:There is a long and varied tradition in history of religions (which includes and goes far beyond Christianity) The multitude of people who believe and the length of time something is believed has no barring on weather or not that belief it true, I will direct you to the flat earth belief carried through most of human history. Quote:That speaks to the desire for God: a burning, longing, passion and hunger that precedes all else and defines the parameters for what is ultimately important and meaningful in life. It is this desire that defines what is good, true, beautiful and just: it provides the tools and purpose to life. I have met no one, atheist or theists who would describe any kind of feeling like "A burning, longing, passion and hunger that precedes all else and defines the parameters for what is ultimately important and meaningful in life." except you, of course. As far as tools and purpose to life I have these already, and from my experience my tools and purpose seem to be of a far greater quality than those of most theists.Quote:Actually, I think my take on Jesus is substantially different from those Christians who emphasize a supernatural demigod transcending the political historical realities of 1st century Palestine. The overwhelming consensus of scholars in Ancient Near Eastern, Mediterranean, Roman, Jewish and Religious histories reject your extreme thesis...and offer something far closer to mine.My take on the Jesus myth is different than that of yours and most other theists... Wow I'm shocked! My statements are taken from history and the overall lack of evidence.In the absence of evidence why believe? As we have discussed before there are a plethora of other reasons why the Jesus myth is in doubt but most refuse to see the truth as you do why?And for the record the truth is that there is no evidence that the Jesus of scripture ever existed. This does not mean that he didn't, just that there is no evidence that he did. Considering what Jesus was supposed to have done this seems impossible.Quote:The fact that others have and will abuse this text is undeniable. The fact that some can find liberty hope and joy is also undeniable. I am willing to accept the first fact; are you willing to accept the latter?So you admit that the Bible will remain a dangerous and misused tool for evil, why is this so do you think?And of course I will admit that the Christian lifestyle makes some people happy, but it is not the only way to reach personal awareness or happiness. In fact I would suggest that it impedes that process by focusing outward instead of inward. By saying what does he want and how do I learn to serve him, I can say what do I want and how do I temper these wants/needs within my life? how can I get what I want and still be fair to others?Why are these questions important to atheists? Because we realize that by treating others unfairly or in a way that they see as disrespectful ultimately causes us loneliness, which is what I would call our need for company as a social creature. Quote:I like to call it the Sopranos (after the HBO series) model: it is violent, territorial, ruthless, and imperial in structure and implementation...I think it is the norm, not the exception. Remember, "The norm" consists of mostly theists; there aren't enough atheists to make any of our beliefs "The norm".Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 9/23/06 2:28 pm
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Re: Atheists, still the coolest!!!

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Quote:So you admit that the Bible will remain a dangerous and misused tool for evil, why is this so do you think?It doesn't have to be missused in order to be a tool for evil. If properly read and followed the bible is a complete encyclopedia of torture and injustice. Don't you want to rejoice as you bash the infants of your enemies on rocks? I can't stand it when I hear xians discuss Islam as a religion of hate and war, they obviously haven't read their own textbook (and I don't just mean the "judge not least ye be judged" bits).funda "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, prehaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." -Henry David Thoreau
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Re: Re:athiests are the best!!!

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Dissident Heart wrote Quote:On the contrary, I understand the Bible to speak precisely to my life, drawing me into a much larger network of actual relationships working together to sincerely change the world.I don't understand how you can claim that the Bible speaks to your life and your desire to change the world and then later go on to mention Quote:For many Christians and Jews and Muslims, we were created to unite with God and the deepest passions and desires of our being are to find communion with GodChristians, Jews and Muslims who truly believe in their religious texts cannot unite together to find god. These three groups instead are instructed to slaughter one another. Either you believe the bible to be absolute truth and therefore reject the teachings of Judaism and Islam or you believe the bible is open to interpretation and therefore not the absolute word of god which would make it open to errors and fiction. It is impossible to believe that black is white and that black is not white at the same time. funda "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, prehaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." -Henry David Thoreau
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