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Agnostism, Atheism, Beyond Atheism, and Deconstructionism

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Ron
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25 posted 11-19-2002 11:35 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

And, again, I agree. But they should be the same checks in both instances.

If what happened to me yesterday prompted me to kill someone today, the checks would be law and morality. If foreknowledge of what happens to me tomorrow prompted me to kill someone today, the checks should STILL be law and morality, not your lack of belief.
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26 posted 11-19-2002 01:04 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Stephen asked "Doesn't speaking of "rules" without an absolute lawgiver create many problems?"


Ron replied "Go grab an oral thermometer, Stephen, and take your temperature. I'll bet it's within a few degrees of 98.6? Strangely enough, those who believe in creationism have pretty much the same temperature as those who believe in evolution."


At least you didn't tell me to go grab a rectal thermometer! (sigh of relief!)


Seriously though, I think you have taken what I said out of context.  Or at least you are trying to say that I'm saying something I'm not.  I never said that unbelievers don't have rules, or that rules never work for them.  But Brad made some comments about the State being ultimately the highest form of "rules" ... that there is no other authority to appeal to.    

The problems one runs into when placing the ultimate authority on us, autonomously, is that we lose any real basis upon which to have any valid  complaints against someone who "breaks the rules".  The only basis of our allegations and corrective measures, is the fact that we happen to be stronger.  What if Hitler Germany had prospered and become the dominate world philosophy?  I'm just having a problem with Brad's problem with absolutism, when he just embraces, unwittingly,  another form of what he criticizes.  This way of looking at things does not solve the problems of absolute power, or absolute say so, or absolute revelation, or whatever.  There will be a King on top of the mound.  And obscuring, or denying the supremacy of God over governmental matters will only make us more susceptable to having to deal with, or be dealt with by, morally decadent powers in the world.  "Rules" are whatever the big boy on the block says they are.  


Stephen.
jbouder
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27 posted 11-19-2002 02:11 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Stephan:

quote:
And obscuring, or denying the supremacy of God over governmental matters will only make us more susceptable to having to deal with, or be dealt with by, morally decadent powers in the world.  "Rules" are whatever the big boy on the block says they are.


God is supreme over governmental matters regardless of "official" opinions.  Furthermore, the biblical jurisdiction apportioned to governments is to punish wrongdoers and uphold those who do good (I'm writing of the second table of the Law here).  To the extent governments do this, they are fulfilling His will.

Second, I disagree with you that rules are necessarily whatever the big boy on the block says they are.  I am somewhat involved in the disability movement in my region of the U.S. and even a cursory look at recent history will show you that organized and tenacious little people have caused "rules" to be set in place that are intended to ensure the most vulnerable of us to enjoy the rights many of us take for granted (e.g., handicapped accessibility, rights to appropriate education, healthcare benefits, etc.).

Perhaps you can argue that individual freedoms that form the foundation of our Constitutional government are rooted in biblical revelation, but it is important to note that, even though this may be true, it has been the efforts of little people that have made it possible for the most vulnerable among us to share in those freedoms.

What you are saying is certainly true about despotic governments, but not every government is tyrannical ... at least not completely.

Ron:

I think your analogy of the thermometer is unfair.  In the absense of an objective theological basis for determining justice and equity, jurisprudence has attempted to concoct substitutes that miss the mark.  One of the most popular alternatives is Economic Theory that seems to be driven by Millian thinking ... that the common good is the objective standard we should strive toward. This cannot be done without diminishing individual freedoms and, as Stephen correctly pointed out, this creates many problems within democratic systems.

Brad:

I can identify with the lure of the position in which you are encamped.  The Bible, regardless of the position you hold on its nature, is a fascinating and enduring literary achievement.  The challenge of interpreting such a document alone can be very gratifying.

But far more gratifying is the realization that what God has inspired, He is true to.  Drawing on what I have mentioned above and applying it personally, there is no way I could have set all of the events in motion that eventually led to my son enjoying the marvelous educational experience he is experiencing now.  I was one small player who was more a passenger along for a ride than a driver.  When mammoth-sized obstacles seemed to remove themselves (and continue to do so), how could I not believe it to be providential?  How could I rightfully take any credit for it?

The object of my faith is verifiable through careful interpretation, and what I believe works, and has been of priceless benefit to me, my son, and his classmates.

Jim
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28 posted 11-19-2002 02:58 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jim,

you wrote, "To the extent governments do this, they are fulfilling His will."

Yes I agree, to the extent governments do this.  To what extent they will continue to do this, as anti-theistic philosophy is propagated more and more, I do not know.  But I am one to believe that we "reap what we sow".  While some may, while holding on to subjective ethics, sow a godless philosophy believing it will foment societal integrity, they will ultimately reap godless actions.  And when I say "godless", I am referring to the traditional and biblical understanding of the term, as morally deplorable actions resulting from a refusal to submit to the will of God.  I understand that not all governments are totalitarian or positively evil.  However I see this as a result more of the grace of God, than the goodness and integrity of  human government itself.  Whenever a totalitarian antiChrist pops up, it's as if God takes his restraint off for a moment to show us what can be, and what will be apart from submission to Christ.  That it has turned out not wholly disasterous, and the proponents of atheism and subjectivism can still say, "Look, it's not so bad, and we haven't believed in God for a while... Guess we didn't need him",  more commends the patience and grace of God than the merits and reasonableness of atheism.  The man who argues air doesn't exist breathes all the while he expounds.  A child or a simple man might reason fallaciously that the man's arguments are valid because he still breathes without air.  Let him in reality be made to live what he is saying and you will see a different man... cyanotic and silent!  This is precisely what God has said will happen.  Every hidden or decietful thing will be shown for what it is.  Every person will ultimately be forced to accept the full implications of their chosen worldview.

Thanks for your post, I will give these more thought.


Stephen.  


      

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-19-2002 03:02 PM).]

Ron
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29 posted 11-19-2002 04:48 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I think your analogy of the thermometer is unfair.  In the absence of an objective theological basis for determining justice and equity, jurisprudence has attempted to concoct substitutes that miss the mark.
And my point, Jim, is that they might as well pass a law to change the temperature of the human body. A spiritual recognition of right and wrong exists, regardless of its origin, much in the same way the physical nature of our body exists. Giving everyone a legislative fever might cause some initial confusion, but it can't last long. We won't let it.

If one could logically prove that the Bible is the cornerstone of all morality, that argument would effectively prove the existence of God. That isn't going to happen, I think, because every time you cite the Bible the unbelievers smirk and point out that it, too, was formulated by men. Your arguments either preach to the choir or wholly fail to address their disbelief. Worse, I think the attempt and failure serves to encourage their disbelief. The existence of God cannot be proven. It can only be experienced.
Not A Poet
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30 posted 11-20-2002 12:11 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

But neither can the nonexistence of God be proven.
jbouder
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31 posted 11-20-2002 01:04 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Ron:

Logic is not the only tool at our disposal for discerning truth and falsehood.

I agree with you that, if God is to be know, He must make himself known to us in time and space.  The moment He reveals Himself in this way, His revelation of Himself become subject to historical inquiry.

And I must flatly disagree with you here:

quote:
Your arguments either preach to the choir or wholly fail to address their disbelief.


Those are most certainly [u]not[/u] the only possibilities.  History and my personal experience have demonstrated to me repeatedly that the evidence that supports the Christian claims have convinced tough minded, but serious, inquirers, myself included.  Far more convincing, anyway, than, A. H. Ackley's "You ask me how I know he lives?  He lives with in my heart."

If experience alone is what you are relying on, how can you be certain that the "burning in your bosom" is not merely heartburn?

quote:
Worse, I think the attempt and failure serves to encourage their disbelief.


I'm not trying to convince them.  In attempting to soundly refute their arguments, I am attempting to convince those who remain undecided.

quote:
The existence of God cannot be proven. It can only be experienced.


We "prove" things by relying on common experience every day.  Every day we pull facts together by observation.  Gathered facts often reveal patterns and we then make decisions based on those patterns.  This can be refined to yield very precise results.

Jim
Ron
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32 posted 11-20-2002 07:45 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I think you misunderstood me, Jim. I am not arguing that Christianity should not be put under a magnifying glass, nor am I suggesting there aren't intellectual appeals to be made. For you, perhaps, it was historical accuracy. For me, it was the logical intricacies of provably fulfilled scripture and, surprisingly for some, the support lent to Christianity through modern science. There is, indeed, much that can be logically proven and much more, I think, that can be lent valuable credence.

I don't think, however, that citing God and the Bible as the origins of man's innate morality is one of those things that can be proven or even logically inferred. It's a chicken and egg thing. We believe killing is wrong because the Bible told us so? Or the Bible told us so because men already knew it was wrong when they wrote the Bible? Stephen's contention that only a lawgiver can arbitrate and that we are potentially lost without such arbitration is less than convincing considering we've gone without any apparent divine intervention for at least a few thousand years. He says that might makes right seems unavoidable in naturalism, apparently not realizing that might makes right is equally unavoidable in Christianity. If one accepts the treatise of free will, God is the ultimate judge but is NOT the current arbitrator. We are.

Put another way, and to return to my earlier analogy, you can't prove that God created man to shine in at 98.6 degrees F. simply by showing that our temperature is 98.6 degrees F. That argument is only going to convince those already convinced.

Brad
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33 posted 11-20-2002 08:08 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, I admit I've had to step back a bit. If Ron can read 'only' and Stephen can say that I said anything about 'the State' and Jim's worry is who takes credit for good things happening, I'm at a loss.

Ron's last post is pretty much what I want to say except, from that point, we can then simply drop the whole ultimate judge thing. Let me add one more thing, you are responsible for you.

Unfortunately, most people don't realize how truly scary (and yet necessary) that is.  
Ron
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34 posted 11-20-2002 09:28 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Brad, responsibility for one's self is just another way of saying free will. And I think it's supposed to be scary.
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35 posted 11-20-2002 11:54 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,


I agree that the Bible cannot be logically or historically taken as the source for man's morality.  And the texts of the Bible never claimed that either.  But what they do claim is that God himself is the ultimate source of morality in mankind, not the bible itself.  Remember the "created in my image" thing?  This goes for unbelievers as well as believers.  He created men before the Bible.  The Bible did not create God, nor did it's writers.  


This moral awareness common to humanity is the law of God written on their  hearts.  Read Romans chapter one and if you think I'm interpreting this wrong, I would like to hear your exegesis on that passage.  I am of course is presupposing the Bible as the Christian's ultimate authoritative text.  But even taking a view not centering on authoritative statements of the Bible ... (Though some Biblical teaching has to be presupposed here if we are to talk about God)  Let's say that you believe in a Creator who is all Good and has revealed to mankind that he cares very much about right and wrong behavior, and that he created you and everything else.  And he explains that he especially created you "in his image".  How would it logically follow that your moral beliefs did not originate with this creative act?  Especially seeing that every person on Earth without exception has been unable to follow the moral injunctions of the concience?  What is an alternative explanation?


It is undeniably biblical that the moral awareness that humans possess is from God (even pre-bible) and makes all men accountable to him.  I think you agree with me here that it is taught in the  scriptures.  If not, I would like to see from the bible, any support for your argument.  


And if you don't want to come at it from the Bible... given the Christian concept of God, how would it logically follow that we have an autonomous morality?  I understand that I am presupposing the God of the Bible, but I assume you are too, by your own confession.  Taking this God for granted, how would it not be logical to infer that our moral awareness must come from him?


"Stephen's contention that only a lawgiver can arbitrate and that we are potentially lost without such arbitration is less than convincing considering we've gone without any apparent divine intervention for at least a few thousand years."


The biblical answer is that man has done nothing at all without "divine intervention".  If you are speaking of direct miracles, I still disagree.  But even if I gave you that one, God's governance and providence over all things (especially the hearts of men) is not presented biblically as miraculous, but as the natural order of things.  


Biblically I am wondering how you can support the "doctrine", if I may call it that, of man's total autonomy?  If not biblically, given the Christian God, how can you logically prove it?


"Right and wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe"...  Book I of "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis presents in clarity this whole idea.  But I think this universal morality from God has been presupposed by Christians since it was taught by Paul ... taught (not invented) by Paul.  From the Judeo-Christian worldview, I don't see how it can be avoided.  Presupposing God, I am only stating what I see as necessarily imposed on us by our belief.  

  


Stephen.    
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36 posted 11-21-2002 12:17 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"you are responsible for you."


To some degree.  I gladly cannot accept the existentialist idea of our total responsibility.  One comforting doctrine Christians hold is Grace (undeserved favor) from God, both here and at the day of judgement.   Denying the total autonomy of man, we accept the fearful state of being made accountable to a morally just God who will judge every thought, every deed.  Seems worse at first consideration.  But one thing is gained by denying man's total autonomy, the avoidance of man's total resposiblity... total responsibility for every action good or bad is a burden we are not able to bear.  This is exactly what is taught in believing God for salvation.  Jesus Christ, through the cross, became responsible for our ill actions and paid a price we couldn't.  The bill is astronomical.  I am glad to not be the bearer of this.  This can never be used as an excuse to do wrong, or to live without responsibility ... Because God left us with responsibility.  But I'm afraid that claiming to be totally responsible and autonomous apart from God is an assertion made, only when the depth and severity of our spiritual condition is not recognized.  


It takes humility to admit we need help.  Maybe that's why Jesus said things like "It's not those who are well who need a physician but the sick".  But people who deny their sickness tend not to go to doctors.  "Patient heal thyself" is not palatable advice for the terminally ill.  You may say it is an unavoidable maxim.  But it isn't.  There is outside help, for which I am eternally grateful.

Stephen.

Ron
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37 posted 11-21-2002 01:25 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Stephen, your arguments carry immense weight to a Christian. I believe that ALL things come from God, first and foremost among them our concepts of right and wrong. I'm only saying that the logic of your arguments necessarily presupposes a Christian God and can't be expected to carry the same weight when directed at those who are not Christian. I admire your faith, and your willingness to share it with others. To do so convincingly, however, I think you need to be able to see and appreciate the viewpoints of the non-believer. We are all inevitably blinded, to some extent, by our own belief system, but when our logic is founded on unrecognized preconceptions not shared by others, it fails to be logic. And I think it most certainly fails to convince.

Case in point. Your interpretation of "created in my image" is given as proof that our morality is derived from our creator. The assumptions inherent in that statement are almost too numerous to count. Were I not aware of some of those assumptions, my response might be to ask if that means God has a temperature of 98.6 degrees F., too. You are taking a belief that is itself based on many other beliefs and presenting it as fact.

Biblically I am wondering how you can support the "doctrine", if I may call it that, of man's total autonomy?

I believe that free will is one of the three key concepts of the Bible. However, free will is certainly not synonymous with total autonomy. I specifically said "without any apparent divine intervention" in my earlier post for a reason. Yes, God is present in our lives. We can no more be autonomous from God than our children can free themselves of the influence of our genes. We are bound. But I believe God's ACTIVE participation in our lives comes only through invitation. We have a choice. Without that choice, without free will, I believe we would be nothing but marionettes. And I don't think that was ever God's intention.

Like you, I believe our moral certitudes come from God. I do not, however, believe they are enforced by God. If they were, we would all be perfect little angels. Literally, not just figuratively. On a superficial level, that really doesn't differ greatly from naturalism. Not since the time of Noah has God stepped in and said enough is enough. We make our choices, through the gift of free will, and I think those choices are largely reflected in the quality of our life on Earth. A few of those choice will determine the quality of our life beyond Earth, too. There are some interpretations of naturalism that are at obvious odds with Christianity, but I don't believe that means that naturalism is an enemy. On the contrary, I think naturalism is little more than the eons-long process of humanity making its choices. A blink of the eye in terms of eternity. The only real danger in naturalism is accepting it as a complete answer.
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38 posted 11-21-2002 10:10 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"The only real danger in naturalism is accepting it as a complete answer."


And so many are doing just that, I'm afraid.


Thanks for replying, Ron.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-21-2002 10:11 AM).]

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39 posted 11-21-2002 10:14 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephan,

At some point, my daughter is going to ask why am I here. I want to tell her love. But you want to tell her God. My wife is a Confucianist. She wants to say family. I want to bring your point of view together with my wife's, how should I do that?
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40 posted 11-21-2002 11:02 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

When I referred to naturalism this is the definition that I meant ...

"the view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual"


While Christianity has it's presuppositions, so does naturalism.  ie, There can be no supernatural explanation for anything.  It is unavoidable in these kinds of discussions not to state them.  In that sense both sides are "preaching to the choir" as Ron said.  But the theistic side of things has two things going for it which are very promising.  1) it is the only view of the two, which can philosophically and epistemologically account for intelligible life at all.  and 2) it asserts that there is no real "neutral" ground.


The fact that God created all men, necessitates that his truth has the power to relate with what he put inside them.  Their moral nature, intellectual nature, and emotional nature are all the handiwork of God.  And so he promises that in proclaiming the truth, there will be a recogition of that truth, since it matches what is already there (albeit supressed by unbelief and sin).  The specific revelation will match & confirm the general one.


Now this is not to say that some will not believe, or that all responses will be favorable.  But it is certain that the truth will be recognized at some point or another.  And the truth of God is like seed.  With a little water and light who knows when it will spring up?  Preaching takes a different light when even those not in the Choir have musical roots.  And this is what we're promised.  God is a weak God indeed if he could not make his truth known to the men he created.  


The truth can be denied, suppressed, and dismantled, but it is always present in the human heart.  I myself painted the truth of God in a corner for so long that I'd forgotten.  But it came back, as it will with us all.  God loves us too much us to leave us forever with the false notions of naturalism.  To those who will never submit to God, this means loving them enough to reveal his full truth, while respecting their final choice.  To those who are seeking the truth, this means giving every aid possible to help us come to a saving knowledge of himself.  But how will they believe if there is no preacher?  If no one is saying it, how will they know?  What good is the "Great Comission", if preaching is only suited for the choir?


Just some thoughts.


Stephen.
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41 posted 11-21-2002 11:28 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"But neither can the nonexistence of God be proven."

Remove the term "God" and insert any of the following...

aliens
witches
The Lockness Monster
leprachauns
Big Foot

etc...etc...

The onus of proof is on those who believe in an existence, otherwise people could create whatever deity, creature, etc that they want to...all they would need then is a majority to accept it in order to obtain credibility, which would then lead to this statement...

"But neither can the nonexistence of God (or your choice) be proven."

[This message has been edited by Opeth (11-21-2002 11:33 AM).]

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42 posted 11-21-2002 01:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Imagination will always have a bigger operation than knowledge.  Knowledge is not there as often as the mind needs to feel certain about things that the visionary human mind will take into its own hands, adding additions and complements in symbol and suggestion of its own, that will never be a complete miss of what the truth is for there is no pallette to work from but reality is ultimatly every colour in one way or another--it is only the mathematical shapes that don't always correspond.  
I believe imagination is a divine collaborator in everything that the human mind labors with or attends.  Nature needs to feel more than know and imagination gives hope and transcending vision.  If we cannot believe in what we imagine, there is little direction in life and worse doing in little feeling.    
I would not put it past divine to be human, nor human to be divine--but we seem least either! if we can't imagine!
Our ancestors imagined enlightenment and higher being and because they most believed in what they imagined and retained the terms in which they did, they succeeded and created civilizations.
If they had put their heart in smother for what thier minds didn't have of strict knowledge they would not have had the informing pulse that created what we live upon today...and I believe there is more in that than just nature.


[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-22-2002 01:15 PM).]

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43 posted 11-21-2002 02:23 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

     I'm not well studied on Confucianism, but from what I have read about it, I see many harmonies between it and Christianity.  It's moral teachings and emphasis on obtaining wisdom is to be admired.  If you or your wife were to come to believe in Christ, you would not have to lose these aspects of Confucianism.  In fact I believe what you have learned may actually confirm and compliment Christianity and vice versa.


For example... You said that you want to reply to your daughter that we are here because of love.  If any concept can be called central to the Christian faith, it is love.  


"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." (John 3:16)

"Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for he who loves one another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8)

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)


What a belief in God provides, is a foundation for love.  


Now I know that Confucianism is not materialistic, right?  It does give a transcedental status to love through "Jen"?  But where Christianity parts with Confucianism is in its assertion that we cannot be the self-attesting source of any meaningful love.  (not that non-Christians do not have meaningful love)  For we are a part of nature, not above it.  If we are the source of love, and it resides intrinsically within us and is not from our Creator, or a reflection of him, then it is only a part of nature.  Therefore the meaning we ascribe to it is arbitrary and transient.  Love becomes atomistic.  It is only a link in the chain, and has no advantage really over any other thing.  But with God, love has an eternal purpose.  And we are told that the principle of love will ultimately triumph, not dissipate when the universe implodes, or cease to exist when we die.  This is what makes the promise of eternal life so wonderful.  We are able to live in love and relationship with God and with others for eternity... not just for a few painful years.  But Christianity also shares with confucianism the idea that these things have value here and now.


This is where the answer to your wife will come in.  She values family as the supreme value.  But as with love, Christianity provides an eternal value to family.  The Bible teaches that we get our biology for it, and our concepts of it, from God.  The triune nature of God suggests that God is a God of community.  He is called "Our Father".  Christ is called "our brother".  Jerusalem (spiritually speaking) is called "the Mother of us all".  The Judeo-Christian tradition has a long history of seeing the family as a sacred community.  This is in line with confucianism...


"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)

"Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33)

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1)

"But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them frist learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this good and acceptable before God." (1 Timothy 5:4)

"But if any anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:8)


Christianity seems to me a fulfilling rather than a refuting of what I see in Confucianism.  It provides a source and a reason for the sacredness of family.


"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Ephesians 3:14,15)

(the greek for 'the whole family' can also be translated 'all fatherhood')


I don't really think there would be a loss of what traditional values you hold.  Christ would provide enhancement and fulfillment to these.  I respect the values you hold, and agree with you that they are good.  They can be even better and more secure.  


Personally for a moment... Do you ever look at your daughter and wish or hope that it could be more than a few years on earth... that death might not finally separate you?  Do you ever pine after the assurance that this might be an eternal personality that you are so in love with?  There is a worldview which holds that this longing in you is a desire for the deepest reality... not wishful thinking, and not just some aspect of your biology.  It is a God-given longing, to draw you to his truth.


While my answer would indeed be to your daughter "God",  certainly love and family are thrown into the package.


Not sure I answered exactly what you were asking.  But this is what came to mind.


Stephen

      

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-21-2002 02:34 PM).]

Brad
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44 posted 11-22-2002 05:15 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephan,

You said that many people have decided Naturalism is the complete answer, but a complete answer in any form is an anathema of Pragmatism, not because there are no answers, but because no one answer can solve all problems. I think you're right that Confucianism and Christianity are not theoretically at odds with each other but practically and traditionally, it is also a practice of ancestor worship in Korea (though Confucius himself is far more ambiguous on this issue). Just before I left graduate school for Korea, a few of my professors put forth the thesis that Confucianism is indeed a type of religion. At the time, I found it unconvincing, living here (Japan was too modernized, I think, for me to see this clearly), it makes a lot more sense.

But my point wasn't to discuss Confucianism, it was to find some way to resolve contradictions in the beliefs of different people with regard to the transendent, ultimate 'reality' you speak of. My solution is to avoid the question, and, if you put a negative spin on what I've said, I think your earlier statement on 'beyond atheism' is a pretty accurate one. But, as Ron pointed out, you have a difficult time persuading anyone who is not already a believer. Your appeal to the Bible or to the intuitive (I sometimes call this the cellular phone inside your head) simply doesn't persuade because there really is no shock of recognition for me, no way to put this in my own experience in a meaningful way (I suspect you would call this denial.).  But if you call it denial, you are not being liberal enough. You are not allowing for the possibility that you may be wrong. I freely admit that I may be wrong in acting as if the question were unimportant, but the only reason you and Jim find it escapist or, what, deplorable is because both of you think the question is so damned important.

Furthermore, I have no real interest in persuading you to my position, it wouldn't/shouldn't change your life in anyway for all it does do is avoid giving final answers to questions and all you would have to do is say, "Well, that's just how we do things around here." Believe it or not that's a pretty good justification for many innocuous and interesting things that people do around the planet. On the other hand, the 'God' justification is often used to explain many things that I don't agree with, that I think are appalling, and that I think need to be changed (dancing with snakes, self-mutilation, rape, murder etc.). Denise points out that I shouldn't be scared of well-adjusted believers and I think she's right, but I would also argue that well-adjusted is a conventional term. It means your normal, and the people I like talking to are usually people who aren't trying to be normal. But, I'm not sure how normal you want to call people who can't wait for the New Jerusalem, who seem positively giddy at the prospect of a driverless car during the rapture (Maybe Christians should be barred from driving ). Where is the value of the here and now in any of this?

When given these questions, many here will respond, it's unfair to characterize all Christians by a handful of zealots, but I suspect that those zealots would respond that well-adjusted Christians aren't all that Christian. Denise said we should be leery of any supposed visions people have and I agree, but Pat Robertson has had made vision claims, am I wrong?

Because, regardless of what you say, spiritualism, just as much as science, is still dependent on a kind of proof, people still desperately want to prove that they truly believe the truth and that the truth is what they truly believe. Opeth is correct when he says the responsibility is to prove God's existence, not to disprove it (Though a few hundred years ago it was the other way around).  Some people will go to extra-ordinary lengths to do just that. I'm sure you're aware of the Osama bin-Laden video where he giggles as he speaks of his knowledge of engineering, his belief that the two towers would not go down, and his complete surprise that they did, Praise Allah.

A lot of fun was made of that video, a lot of fun was made of his knowledge of engineering (that was my first thought), but he doesn't mean it that way. He means that with his knowledge of engineering, the towers shouldn't have collapsed. His engineering knowledge is sound from his point of view, so what could have caused the collapse?

Why an act of God, of course, Praise Allah.

Again, you might say this has nothing to do with what you are talking about and that's fine because I'm not trying to attack you nor am I trying to persuade you to change your belief. Denise can deny victim status all she wants, but it's a splendid rhetorical status to maintain when, in fact, Christians are a majority in the United States and at this site.  Phaedrus, in the Critical States thread, mentions a kind of patronizing manner among Christians with regard to other faiths/non-faiths and he's right. It's always there, but not because you are victimized, but because you are the majority. A while back I remember a thread where one praised Pip and it's unusual comraderie as a result of the fact that we were all Christians. Really? When did that happen? Take it or leave it, Christians still, in practice, maintain an 'us and them' relationship with the rest of the world and this goes specifically counter to the openness rhetoric voiced but, to repeat, hardly ever practiced (Not that Christians are the only ones). This relationship, however, can only be maintained by continuing a line of thought that forces you to take the victim status. Why do they attack us? What did we do to them? Ah, the Bible teaches us that this will happen. We must endure. It's all wonderfully self-righteous.

1)That is, victim status encourages solidarity.
2)This solidarity excludes other who can then claim victim status.
3)This new victim status encourages a new solidarity and a diligence to fight the good fight.
4)And so it goes.

Nothing works better to promote unjustified acts than to believe that unjustified acts have been perpetrated against you.

Now, we seem to accept the basic condition of humanity as a kind of Sartrean terrible freedom, but you see the solution in Christianity (not simply the belief in God, but a specific form of that belief in God), and I think that any transcendent solution is irrelevant to the condition itself. I do not believe, however, that you are wrong in finding guidance, I also believe in guidance, and I'll take it anywhere I can get it. Our disagreement is not, however, over the difficulties of living a life, but over the possibility of revealed/complete truth. I find the idea of exhausted truth to be of little use in my life, you have it at the center of yours.

How do we reconcile this?

One, shrug our shoulders, and let people believe what they want to believe.

Two, you become persuaded to my point of view.

Three, I become persuaded to your point of view.

I think all three positions are false starts. The first is a recipe for silence, it's the agree to disagree argument, it's selfish and static. The second forces you to be persuaded by my arguments without any objective grounding to do so (I have no ground to stand on. ). The third is simply the reversal of the second and is subject to the same objections. From my point of view, you have no more a ground to stand on than I do.

But wait a second, you might say (of course you might not), if you only come to see my point of view, you will have a ground, you will see the value of ultimate, grounding truth, just try it and you'll see. Admittedly, I cannot offer the same assurances back to you, but there's an element of submission, of hierarchy, here. If I give in, if I submit to your ideas without any personal revelation on my part, without any reason other than this promise, I indeed might see the light. But then again I might not. What happens when the promise is broken?

What usually happens when a promise is broken, especially one as important as this?

Betrayal creates hatred (and I'm thinking of Columbine right now).  Now I'm not saying Christianity caused Columbine anymore than I would say that America deserved 911, the issues are far more complex than that (Denise use of 'well-adjusted' becomes extremely useful here). But what I am saying is that by focusing on the two-fold God, the transcendent being beyond logic, beyond human understanding (I call this the super-semantic), and, at the same time, a strictly personal God, a God that 'you know to be true through personal revelation' (I call this the subsemantic), you form a  dilemma.

There is simply no way to argue about God on these terms.

Now, you might say (or again you might not) say that I'm missing the point, I shouldn't be listening to you, Stephan, I should be listening to God. But unfortunately you've given me nothing outside of yourself that can be pointed to. Your God, because you deny any atrocity, any vision, any other interpretation, any difference at all (the ultimate tends to be like that, you know), you leave me with no other choice but to search, if I were so inclined to submit, for your God, the God you see and feel, and not another. The only way I can do that is by listening and submitting to you (Remember I have not experienced personal revelation either from the Bible or in terms of a vision).

You might say, I suppose, that I'm missing the whole point, I'm not submitting or deferring to you, you are just as fallible as I am, it is God, God, God, it is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. You defer to them, you submit to them.  Okay, but in order to do that you have to point to something that is outside you, something that we can both agree on is a proof of God.

You have to make a prediction.

I don't suggest that you do that on my account. I don't wish that kind of responsibility on anyone (believe me, I'm sure we both agree that we already have a lot to handle.)

Ironically, it is the statements that seem the most modest (It's not me, it's God.) and the most common sensical (God would never do that.) that make God inarguable (the strong agnostic condition). Why? Simply put, you sit in judgement of acts in the name of God without, at the same time, accepting a privileged postion in relation to others who also claim to believe in God.  You can't have it both ways.

Okay, that's enough for now.            
Stephanos
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45 posted 11-22-2002 11:25 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

I’ll try to get around to answering all 50 loosely connected points sometime or another   .  Forgive me... they really weren't that loose. I'm just picking a bit.


You really put a lot out here.  But I will attempt to address a few things the best I can.

You said that many people have decided Naturalism is the complete answer, but a complete answer in any form is an anathema of Pragmatism, not because there are no answers, but because no one answer can solve all problems


Faith in Christ is not an really an ‘answer’ in the context you are using here,  as if he were a tool we should utilize to perform a task, or a program we could implement to accomplish our goals.  Biblically he is presented as the person whom this whole universe is about.  The purpose and direction of the universe belongs to him.  The revelation is that everything is his.  So no, Christ is not the solution to all of problems met in meeting our goals.  The Lord’s prayer taught us to pray “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”.  So the center is wrong here.  While man is thinking in the manner of his alleged autonomy, Christ and God seem foolish to him.  But an interesting thing happens when submission to Christ is reached in one’s personal life...  All things become pragmatic toward his goals.  It just so happens that his heart toward us is love.  His will becomes better for us than our own.  His love for us assures us of that.  He incorporates many “answers” to our problems in life... They’re lying all around us, at our feet.    When the whole world is his, there is great liberty to use what he created.  This is pragmatic enough for me.  The only difference is that I don’t base my ultimate world view on what I call “pragmatic”.  Brad, I beg to differ.  Pragmatism seems to me, to have become your complete answer.  Atrocities can be done in the name of pragmatism (the good of the whole) as much as in the name of anything else.  I cannot believe you have eliminated absolutism in your life.  You have made yourself that absolute, and your own ideas about what is proper.  


I freely admit that I may be wrong in acting as if the question were unimportant, but the only reason you and Jim find it escapist or, what, deplorable is because both of you think the question is so damned important.”


Brad, think about it ... Eternal life with purpose, and joy and industry and glory forever and ever in contrast to hopelessness, despair, eternal pain, misery, and confusion.  Yeah.  I do think it’s important.  I think it’s important for you.  Men, including you and I, cannot be autonomous.  God has not left you without a witness of his truth.  If you want to say that I’m foolish and insensitive for saying this, then I’ll bear that.  I believe this because God said it through his word and that he is truthful.  He doesn’t lie.  He has given you sufficient knowledge that he is God.    


On the other hand, the 'God' justification is often used to explain many things that I don't agree with, that I think are appalling, and that I think need to be changed (dancing with snakes, self-mutilation, rape, murder etc.)

I will agree with you here Brad.  A lot of things need to be changed.  The Biblical answer is that people don’t need a creed in order to do evil things.  It is a principle at work within them, called sin.  It works in the religious and the irreligious.  It is a trans-cultural, trans-religious problem.  People ditching “ultimate answers” don’t escape the problem of sin any more than people who espouse them.  Christ is the only living person who claims to be able to solve our personal problem with sin.  In doing so he give us a standard, himself.  We know when things are of the flesh and not of God.  The very fact that you find these things “appalling” is evidence that God has communicated to you truth.  This is a reaction to evil in the universe.  Trust me, if you find anything appalling, you believe in evil ... that is more than contrary to your preference.  Nobody ever said finding the right credal truth among the maze of human tradition is easy.  This apparant difficulty is not a sufficient cause for throwing in the towel.  You can’t point to the errors of religion to repudiate ultimate answers, if there is one.  I think if you really believed there to be no ultimate answers, you wouldn’t have landed on the one you have.  “There are no ultimate answers” IS an ultimate answer.  Jesus said “Seek and you shall find”.  In some sense, you do have to believe that there is something to find.  There is a pre-faith faith, if you will.  It is a brightness in the eyes, and a desire to find “truth”.  Pontius Pilate, prophesied about this age when he asked “What is truth”?  You are right in saying that my request for you to seek with nothing to go on is unreasonable.  I just don’t think that’s totally true for you.  I don’t think you are truely satisfied with the skepticism and pessimism of humanistic philosophy, and what it has to offer.  I constantly pray for you and I don’t say that in pretense.  


Opeth is correct when he says the responsibility is to prove God's existence, not to disprove it (Though a few hundred years ago it was the other way around)

This is a perfect example of your belief that majority dictates truth.  You say it was different a hundred years ago.  And I agree that a great shift toward secularization and atheism has occurred.  But where the burden of proof lies depends only upon God.  His claims are the same as always.  He has proven himself sufficiently and does so incessantly day after day after day.  The burden of proof is on the atheist, if God has indeed revealed himself sufficiently enough for all to at least know he exists, and to set out on expedition.  Brad, I don’t keep the stars burning in deep space.  I never formed the mountains, or the wonders of the human eye.  I know I cannot “prove” God, in the sense of making someone believe and trust in him.  I only witness to his truth.  His Spirit must reveal saving faith to a man.  But it’s not an arbitary picking.  He provided enough to get started, and a promise that those who seek the truth will find.  In doing so he also gives a standard to judge truth... (and by inference individual claims to revelation)  His word, his Spirit, and the Character of Christ.  He doesn’t ask us to believe and to trust, and then say that we must believe anything that claims to be revelation.  “Men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another”.  There is a standard.  However, by naturalism, no standard really exists for anything that I can see.


About the “Victim status”...


Brad, truly suffering for doing what is right, and getting a martyr’s complex are two different things.  One manifests in self righteousness and usually bitterness on part of the victim through vengeance.  The other manifests in humility and a genuine pity and desire for the best of those who are attacking.  Jesus prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”... and he “spoke not a word” of protest to his adversaries when that time of persecution came.  Do all Christians act in like manner?  No.  Sadly, the children can’t always well imitate their Father in Heaven.  And often many suffer because of their own faults, not because of true “righteousness” from God.  But some have done it with honor and true love.  We have our bad examples and our good ones.  It’s wrong to be contentious for it’s own sake, and then when anger is aroused cry “persecution!”  I’ve made this mistake before.  My flesh shows often.  I speak in coldness and not in love many times.  Often, even to you Brad.  I am sorry for that.  I often think I hide Christ from you as much as you hide him from you.  But God has grace on us all.  And I hope we can all be more like him in the future.  Bottom line, Christ did say that if we followed him, persecution would come... is all that is claimed to be that kind, really that kind??? No.  Is all that is claimed to be self righteous really so?  I doubt it.


Now, we seem to accept the basic condition of humanity as a kind of Sartrean terrible freedom, but you see the solution in Christianity . . . and I think that any transcendent solution is irrelevant to the condition itself.


Brad, you claim that this “Sartrean terrible freedom” is a basic condition that you merely accept.  Doesn’t even this kind of language reveal that you are taking this kind of “freedom” as a transcendent solution?  Again, you have not done away with absolutism itself, merely every form other than the one you prefer.  It reminds me of a man in a villiage, who set out to cut off all hands, in an obsessive anti-hand campaign.  He cut and hacked and sliced, until only one of his hands remained with a knife in it.  And he realized that he was both unable and unwilling to cut that one off.  I know you can say the same of me.  But I am not the one criticizing ultimate answers.  I think they are unavoidable... they are however, in the final analysis right or wrong.  (I’m not saying that every choice in life is black and white... remember I’m speaking of worldviews).  Even your claim that transcendent solutions are irrelevant is a transcendental answer of sorts... coming from a transcendental (postmodern) worldview... a transcendental worldview that ironically cannot account for anything transcendental.


But what I am saying is that by focusing on the two-fold God, the transcendent being beyond logic, beyond human understanding (I call this the super-semantic), and, at the same time, a strictly personal God, a God that 'you know to be true through personal revelation' (I call this the subsemantic), you form a  dilemma.


I think you are misunderstanding the claims of God from a Biblical perspective.  God is not presented in any way as a two-fold God.  It is true that the dialectical tension between monism and atomism is resolved in the Christian revelation of God.  He is the God who is universal in truth and transcendent (monism) and yet he clearly reaveals himself to individual men (atomism).  But to say that these two form a dichotomy that is irresolvable is not true.  An apple can still be called and handled as an “apple” (one entity) and yet be made of million and millions of molecules.  Remember that the Biblical concept of God is that he has revealed himself to humanity through the fact that he created us with a likeness to himself, and that he even became a man through Christ.  We are not subject to the problems of the existentialist concept of God as being completely “other”.  This is not the Christian concept of God.  God is a personal God.  He relates to men as individuals.  Nothing is logically incoherent about the claim that he does this while relating to humankind as a whole.  One thing I do see clearly is that a naturalistic concept of the universe fails to provide us with any preconditions for abstract uniform concepts, such as logic, at all.  The existence of God is the only foundation for knowledge of anything, really for intelligible life.  In that sense, God is not “beyond logic” at all.  Believing in him, causes logic to finally make sense conceptually.  Why does logic seem so well ... logical?  In naturalism, thought is merely thought... a chain in the sequence, no freedom.  In fact God is the precondition for logic (or any inferrential thinking) to even exist.  Naturalism is bankrupt at providing a base for knowledge at all.  Therefore you have quite an epistemological dilemma yourself.  You debate here as if your debating has real validity, and yet how can one piece of a mindless nature claim to be more valid than another?  I think many of your points are valid, BTW.  It's just that you happen to own a view of things which undermines what validity you use.


Brad, you are right.  I cannot myself convince you.  You (and Ron, a believer!) are wrong however to say that preaching the truth is only good for the “choir”.  The Gospel is called “good news” and is something to be told, preached, shared, in manifold ways.  Many believe, who have not believed.  Yes God must confirm what is said, but how will they even consider without a preacher?  Many hard and fast naturalists, atheists, agnostics, etc... have heard and ended up at some point believing.  But everyone that has, relates that God confirmed the truth that they were hearing.  You should read C.S. Lewis’ account of his conversion.  A quite intelligent and ruthless debater, being taken from atheism to Christianity is interesting to read about.  He called himself “the most reluctant convert in all of England” at the time.  The truth didn’t seem at first, as something he particularly liked, but it became close, personal, and undeniable, as this “something” behind everything became personal to him.  The same may yet happen to you.  I always pray that it does.  In the meantime, I am your friend, not an enemy (ever).  I enjoy debating, talking, and reasoning with you.


Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-22-2002 11:39 PM).]

Ron
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46 posted 11-23-2002 01:38 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

You're putting words into my mouth, Stephen, and that ain't sanitary.

I never said that preaching the truth is only good for the choir. What I said was that cloaking personal beliefs in the guise of logic will never convince anyone except those already in the choir.
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47 posted 11-23-2002 12:32 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


As one who doesn’t believe in God I have to agree wholeheartedly with what Brad and Ron have been saying, in this and other threads, concerning preaching to the converted. Their comments pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to how I perceive the argument in favour of a God based on biblical recitations and the acceptance of fundamental and crucial points based, as I see it, on nothing more than belief.

Let’s take the argument from biblical reference, I don’t believe in God so it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to lend any credence to the assertion that the bible is the word of God, agreed? Unless you can convince me that the bible is a historically correct representation and description of the life of Jesus Christ backed by independent and unbiased evidence I’m left with no option but to accept or reject it and passages from it based solely on my belief (or disbelief). Quoting from the bible will work perfectly well on a believer but carries about as much weight as a quote from Lord of the Rings to one who doesn’t believe.
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48 posted 11-23-2002 12:46 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Excellent point.
Brad
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49 posted 11-23-2002 06:32 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

There has been a shift to secularism but not to atheism. I think this is a good idea politically, I advocate it for all theocratic states now existing. Why? Because I don't see a gradual fall in the quality of life, I see a gradual rise in the quality of life beginning with the Enlightenment and carrying all the way through to today. I find it difficult to view the two or three hundred years otherwise. At the same time, we have also had a Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment, this is not so much a return to pre-enlightenment thinking, as a psuedo-religious emphasis on the individual, on the special individual, who can take us further, who can carry us along to, you guessed it, the promised land. I'm generalizing of course, but roughly speaking we can divide this into three parts (only for the West):

Pre-enlightenment: God/Christ is the answer

Enlightenment: Reason is the answer

Enlightenment reaction: Genius is the answer

It's a mistake to see this as a linear progression though many want to see it that way, but, even if crude, we can certainly see it as a kind of  dialectical progression.  First, there was God, but the believers in God started the thirty years war, okay, let's try Reason. Ah, but reason, displaces creativity, that creativity must be around here somewhere. Ah, it is embodied, not in God, but in Man, Man now is Divine.  We make our own history.

Always forgetting the rest of that quote, the part that says but we do not make it exactly as we choose.

This 'progression', as reductionist as my little outline is, led to the two great tragedies of the twentieth century: Communism and Fascism. However, while neither of these movements had much use for God, it's important to understand that neither extricated themselves from the belief in ONE WAY to go about things. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. still had the power to assert a kind of monolithism.

Looked at from a Christ/God point of view, these atrocities were created from moving away from God. From the point of view or Reason, these atrocities were created by pointing to the Divine in either Man or God. From the point of view of the Romantics, it is the technocracy of Reason and those who Need a Divine Other (because they can't help it themselves) that created these tragedies.

I think all three arguments have some empirical validity. That is, you can find some evidence for all three (Hitler was no Christian for example, the USSR's official atheism etc. in the God/Christ point of view) but all three views still share a taste, a need for monolithism.  What if we simply dropped that?

I've made much of Denise's term well-adjusted because, for me, it also means adjusted well (adaptability, flexibility) but I also made a mistake, I conflated it with being normal. There's really nobody out there who is normal, we're all weird and it's just a matter of time before finding something that is idiosyncratic or contingent in the way someone lives there lives. Or if you want the norm of life is the Abbie, Abbie something, Abbie Normal in all of us.

But, in this sense, Stephan, well adjusted is an apt term for what I want to advocate. You say that we aren't enemies, I agree, you say that you'll pray for me, I'm flattered (Really, it's a nice thing to hear.), but at the same time, you have to realize that you've privileged yourself above me in your world view, you have a personal relationship with God, I don't (for whatever reason), therefore you wish to use that personal relationship for my benefit. That's okay, I think, to some extent, we have to do this; at any rate, we probably should do it.  When you say that my two-fold interpretaton of God is a Biblical misunderstanding, I think you are correct because I wasn't referring to the Bible, I was referring to what I see as the current compromise that many make in adjusting to the current situation. I do not see God, the concept, as always the same, but as different for different people at different times. The two fold interpretation replaces the Heavens (above) with something outside the universe, distant, the uncaused cause, the Prime Mover, the Alpha and the Omega, and so on so forth. This is a very cold picture of God for many and for many they add that a relationship with God is a strictly personal one, a private relationship. I agree that there is no theological contradiction in accepting both. There is a problem with rhetorical strategy however.

But before I explain that, it's important to understand that I am neither attempting to prove or disprove God. I am looking at the arguments that the carbon based unit Stephan (and others) has given me and attempting to explain my view, my reaction to them.  This may help you form better arguments in the future, it may not, but, if I'm right, your rhetorical strategy isn't something you can really change, it's essential that you maintain certain absolute truth claims or otherwise you'll fill something is missing. Personally, I think this has very little to do with a relationship to God, and much more with the inability to come to terms with uncertainty and contingency.  

Stephan said:

quote:
Do you ever pine after the assurance that this might be an eternal personality that you are so in love with?  There is a worldview which holds that this longing in you is a desire for the deepest reality... not wishful thinking, and not just some aspect of your biology.  It is a God-given longing, to draw you to his truth.


I think many people want this, not because of some deep seated wish, but because the intensity of the moment to be permanent. This is contradictory for intensity can only be a relational feeling (insomuch as we are human at any rate). I do not think eternity is something to wish for so long as I am human, and I think those who do so do not understand eternity. For me, it is nothing more than the restatement, "And they lived happily ever after." But there have been many feminist tracts that seek to describe what it would be like after that last sentence.

To put it another way, the film "AI" presents a view of humanity that I find truly disgusting. The boy is not human because he does not grow up, he does not change his goals (to be with his mother). Is there any worse hell a parent can imagine for his or her child? That they not be allowed to grow up and feel what it is to be a parent or to do what they want?

Daughter's up, gotta go.
              
 
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