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"the dignity of atheism"

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MadArchitect

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Re: Re:athiests are the best!!!

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I often don't agree with the way that Dissident suggests reading and interpreting the Bible as a text, but I do agree with him to the extent that he recognizes that most Christians read the Bible in ways that are inconsistent with the way it was written. And I don't think atheists help the matter in debate by characterizing the Bible as a textbook or guide or instruction manual. Each book of the Bible was written in a specific context and for a specific purpose -- some books are a patchwork of texts that were written in different contexts and for different purposes -- and I think that it's probably to everyone's advantage that those who hold the Bible as a holy text learn to recognize those contexts and purposes when they read it. Taking the Bible as a straightforward historical, moral or liturgical guide is completely counter-intuitive so long as you recognize that a book like, say, Joshua, was written in part to help settle the conflict between monarchy and meritocracy in ancient Israel. What we desperately need, as members of a society who are interested in assuaging a great deal of the violence tied with modern religious fundamentalism, is to restore to Christian believers the ambiguity and complexity of their text. And seeing it in those terms ourselves can't hurt our appreciation of the tradition that has been so influential in bringing our culture to its current state of development.
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Re: Constructing Faith

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Dissident: I suggest you turned away from one particular notion regarding GodFunda: No, I said that was one of the reasons and that there are many. For example if we are created in God's image then why aren't we all perfect? If God is all loving, all knowing and all powerful why do infants do of horrible painfull diseases? etc etc I have a list that goes on for miles.Those are all characteristics of God as described by a particular religious tradition. In other words, to deny the existence of God based on those specific characteristics is to do more or less what Dissident suggested: reject a particular notion of God, and take that as the only possible notion of God.
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Re: Constructing Faith

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Quote:Frank: I do not put my trust in imaginary beingsI do think you put your trust in an imaginary trustworthiness...something you conjure into existence, selectively highlighting the positive above the negative, hope above despair, love above apathy. I think these are noble qualities, but they are rooted in faith...not fact.It is trustworthiness established from a historical and statistical representation of the world - the real world, not the imaginary world of the Bible. If someone usually tells me the truth, I will tend to trust their word. I may not be able to guarantee their trustworthiness, but that doesn't make my trust a mere act of faith.
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Constructing Faith

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Nikelplate: It is trustworthiness established from a historical and statistical representation of the world - the real world,I think it is a highly selective process involving a heightening of the positive above the negative: a selection process that wants to find healthy, vibrant, life affirming examples of trustworthy people...and, fortunately, finds them. But I think it suspect in that it leaves out what is obviously dangerous, deadly, detrimental and devious in so much of the world....the real world. Nickelplate: not the imaginary world of the BibleImagination is certainly part of the process. Have I denied this in anything I've written yet? Are you willing to deny that imagination is absent in relationships built upon trust and hope, seeking intimacy and solidarity? Imagination is crucial in envisioning new circumstances and new alternatives in life...get out of the box and imagine something different, as they say. Nickelplate: If someone usually tells me the truth, I will tend to trust their word. I may not be able to guarantee their trustworthiness, but that doesn't make my trust a mere act of faith. There is nothing mere about faith, or trust or hope...all of which have much in common and are never far from relationships that matter. Faith is acting on incomplete information...stepping into the relationship knowing that it may go wrong, go sour, end up in disappointment. Maybe if we surrounded ourselves with people who only told the truth, never let us down, betrayed or abandoned us...or took us for granted or manipulated and abused us...then we could merely trust because they are trustworthy. I think the world is more complicated than that and the people in our family and surrounding us in the world are more human, all too human: subject to all sort of damage and delusion; and if we are to build relationships in the real world where damaged and confused people abound, then we must conjure a trust into existence for those who are not entirely trustworthy; and love those who are not entirely lovable...and this is the world of faith.
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Frank 013
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Re: Athies

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DHQuote:This liberative love is not simply a nice idea or clever notion, but emerges out of the blood and soil of human tragedy and wickedness...not merely wishful thinking but active participation in the lives of those oppressed and hungry. When I approach the Bible in this context (and it is not mine alone) a message takes shape where the wheat is separated from the chaff and the abusers are confronted for their abuse.Again I ask why use the Bible? There are other books that have the same messages in them that do not have all of the divine violence of the Bible.Quote:I don't understand why systems of imperial domination and royal control would allow such a narrative to even exist. It is completely contrary to their political power, social status, and economic control...it is subversive dynamite. It is a message that should not, cannot exist alongside the imperial ideologies of history: but there it is.Well considering that the Roman government (Constantine) gave the Christian church its power, Constantine probably knew he could control a different segment of the population through the church. In addition by corrupting the church leaders Constantine created a tool of manipulation and ignorance that was carried on up through the renaissance. But the message you speak of was still there, giving the people hope... this allowed them to suffer under the boot of the church and the state and still remain pacifistic enough to control. It is an ingenious method of controlling human ambition, with the promised reward obtainable in the afterlife.Quote:Then I suggest you should cease attempting to understand it and rest assured that there is nothing more for you to learn from it....frankly, if you choose to remove from these elements, there is very little you have understood or learned.You misunderstand me, I want to know simply why use the Bible? Putting the other stuff aside for a moment why use a book that can be so destructive? Why not use Dr Seus or fairy tales recognizing that they are in fact fiction. Why teach things like religious history when we know it is faulty when compared to documented history?These things actually hurt the intellectual development of many people because unlearning is much harder than pure learning. Quote:I do think you put your trust in an imaginary trustworthiness...something you conjure into existence, selectively highlighting the positive above the negative, hope above despair, love above apathy. I think these are noble qualities, but they are rooted in faith...not fact.Well then you do not understand my definition of the word trust. I trust those people who have proven that they have my best interests at heart. The people I trust with my life have proven themselves time and time again of having courage, intelligence and ability. I trust my own skills because of my history and the repeated testing of said skills. These are hardly faith based; I would argue that they are in fact repeatedly tested observations. I have no illusions about the world that we live in, but if things did go to hell in a hand basket my friends and I would be some of the best suited for survival in a hostile world. I do believe that in such an event we could survive well, assuming we could find each other in the aftermath. Later
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Humanist Manifesto III

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Frank brings up an excellent point. Why not discard the Bible entirely as nonsense and fiction and simply be a good person? There is overwhelming evidence that the Bible is littered with factual errors, logical contradictions and historical inaccuracies, so why cling to it as if it is your only hope of leading a good life?Dissident, have you ever read and contemplated the Humanist Manifesto III? Everything I am hearing from you is represented by this manifesto. All of the good deeds you do every day are promoted by the philosophy and worldview of secular humanism. You don't need the Bible or a deity to help the needy, fight oppression and give more than you take from this world.Dissident, after watching you for several years now I am thoroughly convinced that you're a good person. I'd hate to think that your goodness is derived from fairy tales and myths. In fact I refuse to believe it since there are literally billions of humans that adhere to the same mythology, yet do not do the good deeds you do. So your goodness appears to exist independently of your theology, or at least I hope it does. So why link the two? Is it because you feel the average person needs a structured religion or faith in order to behave as you do? You would make an excellent humanist as you actually practice what you preach. This world would be a better place if there were more people like you. I believe this. But the god stuff makes no sense and I just wish we could have more good people without tricking them into being good by promising rewards or punishment in the afterlife. It is a damn shame that people need such motivation.So have you read the Humanist Manifesto III? I'll post it here and I'd appreciate if you read it. I've literally read hundreds of your posts, which frequently include quotations of opinions you value and want to share. So please read this as I think you're actually living the life of a humanist without even knowing it.HUMANISM AND ITS ASPIRATIONSHumanist Manifesto III, a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933*Quote: Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.The lifestance of Humanism
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Athies

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Frank: I want to know simply why use the Bible?I don't know how to answer that simply. I think I've labored to place my approach to the Bible within a context of relationships, rituals, traditions, and attitudes toward life's sorrows, traumas and joys. I suppose we should start another thread titled "The Dignity of Christianty"...considering the title of this one is "The Dignity of Atheism". Chris: (via the Humanist Manifesto III) The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.I identify "our lives" as interdependently intertwined with all of existence, thus making the "ours and ours alone" sound severely limited and limiting. I recognize a unity amongst all life forms and inanimate objects that reflects something much larger than the esteemable ideals of progressive thinking persons. This something much larger is not, as I see it, an impersonal it...nor is it merely a projection of my personal needs, even if personal projection is inescapable. I see this something larger as a force that seeks relationship, exhudes empathy, builds intimacy, and heals the wounds of life's sorrows and traumas. In other words, I look at the vast interconnected web of existence and am drawn towards it intimately, personally and purposefully: as though I were invited and welcomed into a collossal banquet of mutual hospitality and shared sustenance.....but, again, this is becoming my defense of the dignity of Christianity.Considering the tremendous amount of regressive, reactionary, facistic, nihilistic terror that has ravaged, is ravaging, and will probably continue to assault humanity and out world....what is it that spurs a Humanist (as defined in this Manifesto) to have hope in a progressive, democratic, compassionate and loving vision for life?
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Re: Athies

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Dissident: Quote:what is it that spurs a Humanist Many people default to inserting 'god' here...why just insert: Human beings. The wonderful and tragic things we have achieved is unique among the other animals that have evolved on this world. Humans are worthy of awe, to place this awe instead on a imaginary being is insulting to human beings...at least to this one.Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!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
Federika22

Re: Athies

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DH: I agree with Mr. P on this one... Why put god where god is not needed? Especially when choosing to believe in one, because you'd like to and you feel it works for you, is dangerous to the rest of the world??? -(regardless of your personal views on a god of love).For an obviously intelligent and highly compassionate human being, this view seems very selfish to me and I think it actually works against what you've stated you'd like to promote in the world. As I've stated before, it allows others to hold onto their interpretations of the bible and their ideas regarding god leading them, speaking to them, directing their bigotries and wars. Your views are not representative of the Christian majority...I would argue that most christians would tend to a more literal reading of the bible than you. Perhaps you share your views with a small contingent of Christians- making for one more tiny offshoot from the main bible-brandishing branch. Edited by: Federika22 at: 9/27/06 5:24 pm
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Athies

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Frederika: I agree with Mr. P on this one... Why put god where god is not needed?I suppose I can retrace the many steps that make a Christian way of life worthy of its attending sacrifices and demands. As I see it, God is an integral and essential dimension of this way of life. I don't think it merely a result of my desire or projections, even though desire and projection are part of the equation. I think the power that animates the interconnected, interdependent web of existence (what Christians call "Creation") is a force that seeks a relationship with me, wants intimacy, feels empathy, shows compassion and engages me through acts of healing and transformation. I call this force "God", knowing full well how damaged and abused and prostituted that name has been...but I can't think of any better name. This relationship with God, as I see it, brings me closer to the rest of Creation in ways that radically transcend progressive notions of democracy, human rights, ecological sustainability, or ethical responsibility. As I understand the Christian way of life, I am created to celebrate in the glory of God and this requires I love God with all that I have...this means I enage the animating force of existence as an initmate partner, a loving relationship defined best, as I see it, as communion. Obviously, this colors all other relationships with a kind of intimacy and trust where generosity, gratitude and awe play a profoundly larger role than selfishness, resentment, and apathy.This relationship with God is nurtured in prayer, meditation, contemplation, reflection on scripture, theological writing, song...the entire stuff of worship, justice seeking, and living a Christian way of life. So, in this context, God is needed, and celebrated and loved too. Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 9/27/06 7:19 pm
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