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Passions in Poetry

Does God Exist, Pt. 2

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jbouder
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since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


28 posted 07-06-2000 08:58 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

quote:
I'm confused with the faith argument. It was my understanding that a distinction could be made between faith and belief.

Faith -- voluntary, conscious decision,
Belief -- involuntary, not conscious, overdetermined

Is this way off the mark?


I am not so sure it is way off the mark (we ARE expressing opinions, after all).  Louis Berkhof (a Reformed theologian) breaks the concept of Judeo-Christian faith down into three elements: (1) An intellectual element, (2) an emotional element and (3) A volitional element.

Berkhof would describe your definitions as characteristics of faith that fall within the elements of faith.  Your definition of "faith" would certainly fall under the intellectual and volitional elements of faith as Berkhof defines it.  Your definition of "belief" goes a little beyond the elements of faith and, if I understand your definition correctly, touches on the origin of faith.

The Judeo-Christian tradition would label the "involuntary, not conscious, overdetermined" as being descriptive of the "seed of faith".  Faith that points us in the direction of God is not of our own but, rather, is inbued on us by God.  It is described as being a potential faith or a semen fidei.  The gulf between potential faith and saving faith is bridged by the miraculous work of God.  I think Hegel might be in agreement with me here but I am not certain.

quote:
I'm a little confused why nobody has brought up a rather simple definition for the origin of religion: anthropomorphism combined with a confusion between temporality and causality.


I think we may have touched on this a little bit with the monotheism/polytheism arguments.  An evolutionary theory for the development of religious beliefs was introduced by proponants of the Documentary Hypothesis and Higher Critics of the 18th and 19th centuries.  I think the landmark achievements in archaeology after the beginning of the 20th century has adequately discredited the theory you mentioned.

quote:
Or is that still religious philosophy 101?


You mean we are discussing this on the college level already?  I thought we were all still in religious philosophy elementary school (if not kindergarten).  

The length of this thread shouldn't surprise you, Brad.  What philosopher do you know of who hasn't considered the subject of God ad nausium?  I am thoroughly pleased that the discussion has remained civil.  

JP:

I am having a difficult time following you.  You last post was a bit general.  I am not certain I understand what is illogical about my assertion.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Mistakes can be rooted out by an examination of the historical record (this is still going on with the current biblical texts).  A purely oral tradition is, by nature, more difficult to correct once an error is made.  This, in my opinion, impacts its validity.

Tim:

I'm all for the new thread (I think the nihilism issue warrants further discussion).

Haven't had this much fun in a long time, guys (with philosophy, I mean ... my wife IS a hotty).  

[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 07-06-2000).]
Tim Gouldthorp
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since 01-03-2000
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29 posted 07-07-2000 10:16 AM       View Profile for Tim Gouldthorp   Email Tim Gouldthorp   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim Gouldthorp

Hope I'm not too late to play!

This is interesting.  I'm no expert in theology, like Blake my theology is a bit like homemade furnature.  I think i'll have to read Feverbach - i can't have you guys thinking i'm an ignoramus and if nothing else it'll help me with the lightening passage in Finningens Wake.
Jim, I think I'm going to have to side with JP on this one.  I agree with you that in Judeo-Christian theology 'reason' is very much a part of the belief complex.  Its just that I think that this tradition is wrong (nothing like a sweeping statement, is there?)  The appropriation of the truth claim of science/reason to support faith to my mind makes Judeo-Christian theology fundamentally unsound-its foundations are insecure.  Furthermore such 'propping' is unnecessary.  How can the question 'does God exist' or 'what is God like' be answered through science (archeology etc)?  It is not a hypothesis that can be tested.  It can not even be given any theoretical evidential weight.  The sort of belief that relies on 'fact' is doomed to uncertainty as facts theselves are inheriently uncertain and the possibility of invalidity must be acknowledged, whereas shear faith is absolute.  This may be one reason for the continued growth of Islam compared with the decline in Judeo-Christianity in the West.  I suggest that Judeo-Christian theology has begun to devour itself.  I think that the need for archeological is like Creationism- doomed to be undone by the 'reason' that sustained it.  For the same reason, the monotheism/polytheism debate is also superfluous, to my mind.  However, if you do think it is relevant, arn't you forgetting the oldest theology in all the world-that of the Australian aborgines-their theology(ies) go back 40,000 years and probably much much more - i really don't know anything at all about this sort of history, but I gathered Homo sapiens didn't enter Europe until 12,000B.C or so (i migh be completely wrong here)Anyway, all this is digression...

per Wittgenstein, I smell a rat.  (nb i'm not blasphemously suggesting God is a rat, nor that he/she smells!)But-it is so much easier to smell a rat than to trap it, particularly when brain's not fully awake!  I think descriptions such as 'exist' need further attention - I think in this debate we are not going deep enough - we are still at the surface level of mind games.  I think trying to convert the unknowable truth into the logic of words is causing us to stumble a bit.  My minds just a bit too sleepy at the moment to go looking for that rat though...maybe tomorrow.
Nb i will post a new topic tommorow on the topic of nihilism as suggested.
-tim


JP
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Loomis, CA


30 posted 07-07-2000 12:19 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Tim, you seem to be right on target.  Science and religion have been opponents for a sound reason - one cannot support the other.  Religious belief cannot be support nor proved through science.  Can we determine if certain events actually occurred through archeological means?  Yes.  But does that provide proof for the cause of the events?  No.  

To find evidence of a world-wide flood would prove that the earth had been flooded, will it prove that the Judeo-Christian God caused the flood to rid the world of iniquity?  No, it would not and cannot.  Humanity has long created mythology to explain what it could not undertsand (Thor the Norse God of Thunder, hurling lightening bolts - now science has shown us that lightening is the discharge of static electricity which has built up in the atmosphere - did science prove that Thor does not exist?  No.)

Somewhere on this site (I think it is in the prose forum) I posted a philosophy paper on the Evolution of Humankind.  It poses a different cause for the religious belief in society today and I think it is relevant to this discussion.



Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
deb
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since 07-11-2000
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Reading, Pa., USA


31 posted 07-11-2000 10:46 PM       View Profile for deb   Email deb   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for deb

God's existence, as well as his nonexistence is insoluble....therefore, is this question worth debating? Remeber, it is a matter of faith!

Deb
jbouder
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32 posted 07-12-2000 05:42 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Deb:

Insoluble?  Maybe and faith certainly is a factor (although you are stepping a little close to that universal negative no-no).

At the moment I can only think of one subject that is not worthy of discussion ... Boy Bands ... *shiver*    Seriously, the difficulty of the question is what intices people to discuss the questions.  Answers may not be reached but I think it is safe to say that everyone involved in this discussion has learned something since the thread began.  Doesn't that alone make the subject "discussion-worthy"?

Tim:

I find it interesting that you would consider "propping" to be a sign that Christianity lacks credibility.  Question: If the questions posed to the truth-claims of Christianity went unanswered, would Christianity lack credibility because it couldn't be "propped up" by objective, verifiable facts?  Yours sounds like a "have your pie and eat it too" argument.

The archaeological discoveries answered objections by Higher and Redaction Critics who argued that the Bible has little or no historical value.  In most cases (I hesitate to say "every" but I don't know of an instance where the Higher and Redaction Critics were vindicated) the objection was thoroughly refuted by archaeological data.  Furthermore, if God does exist and He did make Himself known in space and time and people did witness Him, it would be helpful if the written record of His revelation of Himself to man was historically sound.

Does this prove all of the extraordinary events in the Bible happened?  No. But it does demonstrate that where the Bible speaks of historical events, it is not only accurate but it is also a valuable resource to ALL archaelogists and historians studying the Middle East during the OT time period.  This is an important consideration for me before I am willing to put faith in its contents.      

Aside:

Still lots of fun ... I may have to start "Does God Exist, Part 3" if this continues much longer.  Brad, has this thread set any records in Philosophy yet?
deb
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since 07-11-2000
Posts 44
Reading, Pa., USA


33 posted 07-12-2000 09:35 PM       View Profile for deb   Email deb   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for deb

Jim,
You said, "...insoluble...maybe." It is no more possible to prove God's nonexistence than it is to prove His existence. Yet, it is fun to debate. So perhaps we should keep these things in mind as we continue to seek  truth:As a statement about the universe, we cannot prove nor disprove God's existence through emperical evidence or detuctive proof. Therefore, Theism and atheism are both indefensible positions as statements about the universe.Also, it is important to keep in mind that it is wrong for someone to say s/he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless s/he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.

Yes, The Bible may prove historical value, but so does Homer's "The Illiad and the Odyssey." Get my drift?

I believe the Bible to be a literary work containing poetry, lamentations, and historical implications. To say that the Bible is a sacred book written by the inspiration of a God is to say that it is knowable through certainty that God's words inspired writers to write what He wanted to be contained in the book.This kind of certainty is not obtainable.

I believe it was Hume who contended that we cannot know anything for certain which goes beyond our experience. I believe this discussion fits the contention.

--Knowledge involves certainty--

Deb
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


34 posted 07-12-2000 10:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim, in terms of a single thread (that actually stayed on topic), I think this one's got the record.  The socialism/capitalism debate went pretty well but it went in and out of different threads and was subject to a  lot of tangents.

I didn't count the topics on love but that's probably the most recurrent issue (no suprise there).

Of course, we're out of our league when it comes to some of the stuff going on in the alley.  

Brad
Tim Gouldthorp
Member
since 01-03-2000
Posts 175


35 posted 07-12-2000 11:38 PM       View Profile for Tim Gouldthorp   Email Tim Gouldthorp   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim Gouldthorp

Jim,
I would be 'having my cake and eating it too' if I were saying
1. There is no 'evidence' to support Gods existence in a rational-scientific way.
2.  Because there is no such evidence, evidential doubt is placed on the existence of God.

But I am not arguing the second proposition at all.

Scientific evidence may show Sodom etc existed.  Suppose it could be shown they were violently destroyed at a time consistent with the Bible?  We still can't go beyond to the illusive cause.  Even if were by some scientific feat it were possible to show Mary actually was a virgin, does this tell us whether this was the work of God or some other inexplicable occurance?

Perhaps we should distinguish between faith and belief in God, which I believe is inheriently unassailable as long as it does not attach itself to objective 'proofs' and belief in the literal words of religious documents that describe occurances, not in a beyond realm but in worldly space and time.  I think you have changed my mind,yes, evidence may legitametly 'prop' eg the bible, just as it may evidentially make it more likely to be incorrect.

But I reaffirm, all this is at the surface level, and has to do with posited manifestations of God and not God as noumenon/Godhead/das ding an sich whatever...

This is still an interesting discussion.

-Tim
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