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Passions in Poetry

Believe in nothing, and everything?

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Kaoru
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0 posted 01-04-2004 09:56 AM       View Profile for Kaoru   Email Kaoru   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kaoru


The possibilities, as I've found, are endless. My boyfriend and his christian friend both go at it like dogs about their beliefs. Who's right, who's wrong.

To be a nihilist, as I've learned through reading and posts on this very site, is to believe in nothing.. not even morality.

My boyfriend claims his nihilism, yet still has a stance on every issue, and a certain way of trying to prove what (to him) is morally wrong.

Nihilists believe in nothing, therefore they have no belief in morality.

I question my existence, just as much as the next guy. I think it's good to question any and everything.

How must I explain that, to believe in everything doesn't neccesarily make me a christian/pagan/etc? How must I explain that, to believe in nothing doesn't neccesarily make me a nihilist?

I have a certain moral veiwpoint. I try to treat people with as much respect as I can. I never judge, judgement is not needed, since it only takes the actions and words of a person to show what kind of a person they are..Judgement is not neccesary.

I believe in everything, and nothing. I believe in the wrong and the right.

I have always thought that the perfect answer to the question, "Does god exist?" is,

"Maybe."
Midnitesun
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1 posted 01-04-2004 10:03 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

I can remember saying yes, then no, to that last Q so many times I finally stopped counting. I also hope I've  finally gone beyond labels, which are changeable and some don't stick well from scene-to-scene.
K, now that you've made me THINK again this morning, it's time for a strong cup of java.
keep those brain cells active
Brad
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2 posted 01-04-2004 04:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If nihilism is the belief in nothing, then it is quite impossible to be a nihilist and still speak a language.

If, however, by nihilism you mean that you're an anti-essentialist. . .

Join the club.

TwistedKnickers
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3 posted 01-04-2004 10:27 PM       View Profile for TwistedKnickers   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TwistedKnickers

When I was 18, there were many thing that I knew for a fact to be true. When I was 30, I thought...well, it's probably true 'cause I saw it on T.V. When I was 40, I had my doubts about everything. Now, at 45, I am embarrassed at the things I thought were true at 18. There was a time, not so long ago, when it was a known fact that the world was flat. Truth changes every day; be careful what you believe in.

Cat

Poetry is the sculpting of words. We ALL start with a lump of clay.

Ron
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4 posted 01-05-2004 08:55 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Truth changes every day; be careful what you believe in.

One probably shouldn't confuse Truth, which only rarely changes, with our perception of Truth.
jbouder
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5 posted 01-05-2004 09:32 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

What's an anti-essentialist?  All that comes to my mind is Freddy Mercury singing "Nothing really matters to me ..."

Jim
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6 posted 01-05-2004 10:39 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

There is a huge difference between;

1. Maybe, I never really thought about it.

2. Maybe, who cares?

and

3. Maybe, but how can we know and what can we know?

You, of course, fall into category three.  Because, if you were one or two you wouldn't have expended the time and energy to compose this thread.

That kind of maybe has some responsibility to it.  Literalism is an easy path for many to take.  Literalism meaning-- beilieving literally what the world of faith says without bothering to look for truth.  If you begin to look beyond the beast of literalism though toward the truths to which the faith-world sometimes points then you might find something more than nothing to believe.

The human family has some wonderful dimensions.  Religion is an important one -- one that doesn't need to be thrown away.  

I believe this; It becomes more vibrant and more important when you do look at it carefully beyond literal belief.
Stephanos
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7 posted 01-07-2004 12:47 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Kaoru:
quote:
My boyfriend claims his nihilism, yet still has a stance on every issue, and a certain way of trying to prove what (to him) is morally wrong.



Isn't there inconsistency in his position?  Wouldn't Nietzsche say that this "moral sensibility" is nothing more than a social construct that the Judeo-Christian heritage has imposed upon us?  He would most likely say that your boyfriend hasn't fully realized his nihilism.  Like a kid who refuses to grow up, and doesn't want to part with his toys, so your boyfriend doesn't want to part with the feeling that there is some universality to morals.


Of course, I disagree greatly with Nietzsche ... I would say that your boyfriend is acting truest to his nature when he sees the dichotomy of good and evil, right and wrong etc... even if he doesn't always get it right.  Morals must have a more universal anchor point, or else all of our feeling and actions surrounding them are totally irrational ... because we all at least act as if they applied to more than just ourselves... even relativists do, when it comes down to offenses.  


I think the biggest attraction of "nihilism" is it's rebellious stance.  There is a feeling of power which accompanies debunking centuries of tradition and moralist views.  There is a sense of adventure that arises when we think of cutting all ties and venturing into life unfettered from conventional thinking.  I can actually relate to that.  I just think it's a good desire, going in the wrong direction.  There is much in religous history that should be rebelled against.  There is much ground to be explored that religionists never could get to, because of narrow thinking.  But these goals are not obtained by burning bridges and destroying the foundations.  Even if there is much wood hay and stubble, some of the foundations might be gold, and actually indespensible.  Nihilism throws the baby out with the bath, even if the baby is a Messiah.  


  
quote:
I question my existence, just as much as the next guy. I think it's good to question any and everything.



Me too, as long as real answers are not disallowed, and the question mark is not made eternal.  


And as always, to those who question their existence, I ask, who is doing the questioning?  Such a question presupposes existence.
  

quote:
I believe in everything, and nothing.



I was just wondering... is this indecision?  Or is it an attempted synthesis?



quote:
I have always thought that the perfect answer to the question, "Does god exist?" is,
"Maybe."



I would suggest that "maybe" can never be the perfect answer.  The word "maybe" is typically used when all of the data is not availible to us, when there is uncertainty, when further investigation is warranted.  I would say that "maybe" is the best answer for you, for now ... but it is a path to a more perfect answer, either yes or no.  It is a transitional answer, not a final destination.  


Local Rebel:
quote:
Literalism is an easy path for many to take.  Literalism meaning-- beilieving literally what the world of faith says without bothering to look for truth.


Here you seem to be equating Literalism with credulity or careless belief.  


quote:
If you begin to look beyond the beast of literalism though toward the truths to which the faith-world sometimes points then you might find something more than nothing to believe.



Then you shift and suggest that "literalism" amounts to believing the fundamentals of "faith" ... perhaps the historicity/ actuality of it, or the dogmas of it?  


What you've done is made anyone who is a literalist in your 2nd sense, appear to be necessarily a literalist in your 1st sense.  But there are many who believe fundamental things about the faith, who are anything but gullible, or lazy in their considerations.


So one can be a literalist in the sense of belief, and not be a literalist in the sense of poor methodology.  


quote:
The human family has some wonderful dimensions.  Religion is an important one -- one that doesn't need to be thrown away.



The point of tension lies in the fact that the Christian claim is that the human family is part of a larger framework .. the reality to which dogma merely points.  But humanism truncates the assertions of dogma, by claiming that everything is within the framework of humanity.  Humanity is the measure and source for all things.  Theocentric versus Anthropocentric.


It seems like you are trying to hold to one and the other.  To have your cake and eat it ... holding on to the the comfortable possession of "truth" in the religious sense, while denying the absolute and ontological nature of it all.  But these are inevitably divergent paths.    


quote:
I believe this; It becomes more vibrant and more important when you do look at it carefully beyond literal belief.



I agree, if you mean that there is a spiritual reality that transcends history, science, psychology, and other earthly disciplines (yes even theology!).  But to transcend does not mean to destroy or deny.  You didn't negate the alphabet song in order to write poetry did you?


And when it comes to Christianity in particular, I don't see how believing that the events described didn't happen, can make it more important.  History shows that whenever men believed this way, it became less and less important ... Then existential despair was there to fill the gap, or at least describe it at great lengths.  



Stephen.   


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8 posted 01-07-2004 10:38 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Let's talk about literalism a bit.  

We can, for example, believe literally that a marauding band of raiders who thought they represented a manifest destiny from their nationalist god invaded the Canaanite lands and established Israel. We can't, however, believe that the Earth was ever flat and four-cornered and the center of the universe.  Can we?  

Can we believe that God ever really wanted unruly children to be executed?  (Exodous 21; 15, 17)  

Can we believe that God ever really thought it was OK for a jealous husband to order his wife to drink poison?   And, that if she lived it meant she wasn't guilty of infidelity?  (Numbers 5:11)

Balladeer often mentions how he isn't sure he wants to meet up with the God of the bible -- probably because of events like ordering the Midianites to be destroyed (Numbers 31:1,2)-- the Israelites killing all the men, taking all the cattle, flocks, and goods for their own... um... didn't I read somewhere 'thou shalt not steal?'

We can believe literally that such an event may have happened -- but, if we are to believe the story literally then we must believe that God wanted it that way?

Yet, it is this kind of call to literal faith that continues to drive people in droves away from 'church' -- yet -- fundamentalist groups (translate -- literalists) continue to be the only real growth segment in religion in the world (not just Christianity).

Of course the literalists will either say -- 'Well you can't take THAT literally -- but -- instead take THIS (totally unbelievable story to a 21st century mindset) literally instead... OR .. there is the old standby -- 'You're just taking it out of context!'

On the contrary -- it is the placing it in context -- the context of stories written by people thousands of years ago who had no understanding of cosmology, biology, or.. even math -- that ultimately will restore the importance of these myths and histories to the millions of people who find them irrelevant and may lead them to better understand that there were some inspiring events in human history that caused these stories to be written.

The Bible is full of pre-scientific assumptions... that we just plain know are false...

But it's important to understand that every myth was at one time a perfectly reasonable assumption to believe -- in the context of the time and culture in which it -- um.. evolved.  

To believe these myths as literal truth is the demand of fundamentalism and is its' appeal (of course the parts that are taken literally vary from literalist group to literalist group -- since I'm such a nut for Christmas I don't even want to get into the New Testament inconsistencies on the birth stories -- but -- I will just ask as a side-bar -- which account are we supposed to believe? Literally?).  It is sought out as certainty since there is little in the universe that is certain.  It places us, humans, at the center of 'creation'-- the reason for everything to have been made -- instead of mere blips in the last few years out of the billions (and billions) of years of history of the universe.  It gives certainty that we are not 'alone' on some small, limited planet in some backwoods solar system -- in a not too -- um -- stellar -- galaxy.

It is no wonder that the literalists are anti-intellectual, and anti-science -- their house is built on sand -- and will not survive.  It is no wonder that even though the majority of Americans say they are Christian -- the literalists feel that 'Christianity' is under 'Attack' from the 'secularists' and that they are in danger of extinction.  

But just because fundamentalism and literalism will pass away doesn't mean these narratives should go with them.
Aenimal
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9 posted 01-08-2004 12:08 AM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Just wanted to say

A: Local Rebel's last response was one of the most intelligent and well written pieces to ever grace the blue pages.

B: Nietzche was often mislabled a nihilist but reading him one finds he really yields to no set mode of thought. That's one of the joys of reading his work; watching the evolution of a man's thought process.
Stephanos
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10 posted 01-09-2004 01:18 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR:
quote:
Can we believe that God ever really wanted unruly children to be executed?  (Exodous 21; 15, 17) 
 
Can we believe that God ever really thought it was OK for a jealous husband to order his wife to drink poison?   And, that if she lived it meant she wasn't guilty of infidelity?  (Numbers 5:11)


Can we believe that God wanted to reveal unmitigated Justice to a nation, and through them to the world?  Can we believe that God did this in order that they (and we) would see that much more than stern justice is needed ... that it is mercy which triumphs over judgement?  Many think so.  You complain that such Old Testament laws seem unjust.  On the contrary, they seem rather too just to me.  

You can say that God's laws are unjust, to which I will simply disagree.  Or you can say that God shouldn't punish, but be unconditionally merciful.  But a heart awakened to a sense of God's holiness and justice cannot easily say that God shouldn't punish.  In his own heart he knows better, because of his conscience.  In fact, there is a sense that God would have to do what he really shouldn't do, in order to spare us.  We ask him to break his own law to save us ... he refuses, and breaks his own Son in our stead, and we are saved by justice with mercy ... a "both and" situation.


That's my theological view ... that there is a bigger picture, often not seen when it comes to complaints about God's Old Testament dealings with Israel.  




Now for a textual view.  Your euphemism "unruly" is revealing.  It's always possible to call into question any law's justice, by minimizing the crime ... by calling it something else.

But here is what the scripture states:

"Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death." (Ex 21:15 NRSV)

The hebrew word for "strikes" is Nakhah which means to strike, hit, hurt, wound, pierce, kill, slay, rout, defeat, conquer.  Unless contextually indicated, it was typically a murderous act.  It was at least (in this context) extremely violent.  Now isn't the term "unruly" a tad misleading?  At least I think so.




The other front of your attack is Biblical Historicity I suppose.  The mistake you make is in saying that this is indefensible the minute we begin to use our brains.  First of all, intelligent men are both defenders and attackers of what you consider to be "literalism".  So, the statement that one side is more "intellectual" than the other is just false, and relies on an appeal to authority without looking at the arguments themselves.  As I've already said, if by "literalism" you mean, believing without much consideration or care, then I think both sides of the issue have their literalists.  Only I think using that name is a bit dishonest, because it negates one thing, by pointing out the faults of something entirely different and really quite neutral.  Gullibility has no favorites.  She plays on all sides.


quote:
On the contrary -- it is the placing it in context -- the context of stories written by people thousands of years ago who had no understanding of cosmology, biology, or.. even math -- that ultimately will restore the importance of these myths and histories to the millions of people who find them irrelevant and may lead them to better understand that there were some inspiring events in human history that caused these stories to be written.



This is actually one of the biggest myths of our own time  (and one that is little scrutinized and often parroted), that scientists, modern historians, and higher critics have pretty much proven that the supernatural aspect of the Bible is false.  It's funny that while the dashing knights of higher criticism claim to reveal what such inspiring events really are, after they force the text upon their bed of procrustean philosophy (ie We all know miracles CAN"T happen, therefore let's proceed to judge what actually happened in scripture), they can't seem to tell exactly what, if anything, did happen other than political maneuvering and grotesque fabrication to procure church power ...  and what's so "inspiring" about that?  It's not that certain things couldn't have, or didn't happen in the narratives, it's that ruling out certain conclusions, a priori, have forced other "reconstructions" to be accepted.  


quote:
The Bible is full of pre-scientific assumptions... that we just plain know are false...


Come on LR, ... such sentences aim at everything and hit nothing, and only beg the question.


quote:
since I'm such a nut for Christmas I don't even want to get into the New Testament inconsistencies on the birth stories -- but -- I will just ask as a side-bar -- which account are we supposed to believe? Literally?).



I feel that this is a rhetorical question isn't it?           .  Am I supposed to imagine that since there is some degree of inconsistency, (due to the fact that much of the gospel accounts was passed on orally), the accounts must be mythology?  

I would suggest that the inconsistencies are evidence of human personality in transmission, and are relatively minor ... not at all reasons why we should doubt the gospels as historically reliable.  There are inconsistencies in most ancient historical records, but none of these are automatically mythologized on account of it.  It's the preconceptions of naturalist humanism that can't even begin to allow that a miracle might have been real ... even  one that "turned the world upside down".  


quote:
It is no wonder that the literalists are anti-intellectual, and anti-science



You've descibed "literalists" inconsistently.  But if you mean those who believe in the supernatural elements of scripture, and the general historical accuracy of scripture. then you are simply wrong.

I've read many many "literalists" who are more intelligent than you and I put together.  You really need to quit bostering your arguments by insulting the intelligence of others.  You're own mind is very sharp from what I've seen.  I know you can do better than that.


quote:
But just because fundamentalism and literalism will pass away doesn't mean these narratives should go with them.


You've read quite a bit of Spong I see.  I would suggest some N.T. Wright and Gary Habermas, for starters, to give you another perspective.  And don't just read reviews on Infidels.org, check it out for yourself.


more later ...

back to the subject of nihilism?


Stephen.


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11 posted 01-09-2004 06:06 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I can't blame you for wanting to shift the conversation away from Spong.  His credentials are overwhelming, his works popular, his arguments formidable.  There is a reason why Falwell won't debate him.  I encourage everyone to read him always.  In fact -- I believe it was me that introduced you to him in a thread a couple of years back.  Been trying to get Raph to read him too... even posted links to some of his entire texts at religion-online.org.  'This Hebrew Lord' is there in its entirety here  wish 'Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism' was too.

If you're going to saddle me with evangelicals though (which I'm assuming since I don't know the two names you mentioned) can we at least do Campolo instead?  He gets it.

If infidel.com is one of those '5 million errors in the bible' sites I'm frankly not interested.

I'm also not interested much in generating a fractious argument, nor do I think anyone is interested in reading one, but since you're not really characterizing my 'euphemism' correctly I'll go ahead and address that point since the gentle readers out there are probably not going to bother to look things up themselves.

The TWO verses I referenced were Exodus 21:15 AND 17.

The NIV translation for verse 15 is;

'Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.'

Your reference of NRSV uses the word 'strikes'

KJV uses the word 'smiteth'

I'm glad to see you retreating to the Hebrew though because that's exactly what the modern translators did -- and you can see what kind of trouble they had trying to resolve the context.  'Smiteth' most certainly would indicate an attack up to murder -- but that's not what the translators (who were doing their best to interpret within the context of what was originally written) ultimately chose as the model for this verse... 'Strike' is a far cry from attempted homicide.

Verse 17 says;

"Anyone who CURSES his father or mother must be put to death."

But you didn't mention that.

If I use my thesaurus on the word Unruly I get; disorderly, wild, undisciplined, disobedient, fractious, insubordinate, riotous, lawless, and indomitable. I thought it an appropriate way to describe the behavior outlined in both verses -- but if you don't think it's severe enough then I will gladly cede it's use in lieu of presenting the actual verbiage of the verses.

Even modern proponents of the death penalty would have to think capital punishment for these two 'crimes' is severe -- and certainly wouldn't be a position taken by God.

I'm not sure how you can characterize the completely different birth narratives as only having minor variances but -- it's an amazing concession on your part that there are inaccuracies due to the passing down of oral traditions.  The same thing applies to what you call 'God's Law' from the OT which is a much longer time period since the actual written accounts weren't made until probably around the time Solomon was building his Temple.

Finally -- I'm not attacking the intelligence of the literalists themselves.  I'm attacking the intelligence of their position -- their arguments -- which is what I'm doing to you Stephen.  I would certainly hope that you know you always have my utmost respect and admiration.  But I know it's hard sometimes not to take it personally since a position like this is so close to your heart.

I really don't understand that you don't see the Jesus story as compelling without magic.  I really don't.

Namaste
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12 posted 01-09-2004 09:42 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Raph,

Thanks for the compliment.  If you like what I wrote you'll love Spong.  I think you'd benefit greatly from his work.
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13 posted 01-10-2004 03:34 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Where is Kaoru?
Aenimal
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14 posted 01-10-2004 10:08 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Indeed I will Reb. As for the rest of this conversation I'm ducking out, this baby has become way too loaded and I have too much to say on the topic..grins
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15 posted 01-12-2004 04:19 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Some people say that nothing existed before God; isn't that a nihilism?
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16 posted 01-12-2004 05:09 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

*Clink!*

Sorry, dropped a pin

Kaoru
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17 posted 01-13-2004 05:02 AM       View Profile for Kaoru   Email Kaoru   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kaoru

Well, I'm here. I've just been reading this little debate between these two. I know that my realizations will be inevitable.. and probably differ from the answers given to me..

I do like to read these magnificant opinions and answers, though, even if I may slightly agree or disagree...

Besides that, I've been studying religions that were "existent" prior to Christianity, which does help me to form some sort of unique opinion and/or stance on the issue of nihilism and other generalizations that can't neccesarily be defined by a dictionary.

I don't think, now, that it's possible to explain my beliefs by naming myself a nihilist or what have you..
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18 posted 01-13-2004 02:44 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR:

quote:
I can't blame you for wanting to shift the conversation away from Spong.



Didn't I bring up his name first?  I very much would like to talk about Spong's position (which I saw couched in your statements), and intend to.


quote:
His credentials are overwhelming, his works popular, his arguments formidable.  There is a reason why Falwell won't debate him.



There are so many out there with "credentials", that I prefer rather to look at the argumentation, and determine whether or not it is valid.  College degrees and rank do not ensure correct thinking.  Neither does popularity.  In fact, it's often indirectly proportionate with soundness of ideas.  For example, you picked a "popular" preacher for an adversary, rather than someone versed in Christian apologetics or history.  Though I won't venture to criticize Jerry Falwell here, he’s only a strawman for Spong to choose.    

  

Spong’s ideas, from what I've read, are not at all original ... they reflect much 19th century and early to mid 20th century liberal theology and philosophy.   They echo the works of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Paul Tillich, and John Robinson.  And as far as historical criticism, it also definitely rings in the tradition of Albert Schweitzer, D.F. Strauss, J.E. Renan, and Rudolph Bultmann.  But there is also conservative scholarship to counter these views and methods of criticism ... and all of them are not “evangelicals” as commonly used.  As Colin Brown wrote:


quote:
The word ‘conservative’ is perhaps an unfortunate one.  It is a term which is loaded against itself.  It conjures up the atmosphere of reaction for its own sake, of diehards making last-ditch efforts to thwart the honest intentions of the progressives.  But in the sense that I am using it here, it denotes a wide variety of Christian scholars who believed that the historic Christian faith was still tenable despite modern philosophical and critical attacks.  These scholars were not all Evangelicals, although they were agreed with the Evangelicals on essentials.   (Philosophy & The Christian Faith, 164)



Brown goes on to give an extensive list of the scholars who upheld the historicity of the Bible ... B.F. Wescott, J.B. Lightfoot, F.J.A. Hort, Alfred Plummer, Sir William Ramsay, James Denney, H.B. Swete, James Orr, Alfred Edersheim, E.W. Hengstenberg, Theodor Zahn, Charles Hodge, and B.B. Warfield.  My lay-reading on both sides is relatively sparse, but I bring all of this up to say that it is wrong to claim that the liberal side represents the intelligentsia, while the conservative side represents the deluded ... and I too, am speaking of their “position”.  I have read enough to know that the “anti-intellectual” slur against those who believe in the historicity and dogma of the Bible, is unfounded.        


I also use "liberal" in the sense of Brown, not at all as political liberalism, but as describing a certain kind of scholarship.  I think the term is just as misleading as "conservative".  I use it only because there is a lack of more widely recognized term.  The conjectures of these liberal Bible historians have turned out to be no more than speculative reconstructions ... similar to what they accuse the actual New Testament texts of being.  Only their “proof” has not been so compelling, unless of course there is an underlying philosophy which disallows the miraculous beforehand ... in which case any reconstruction of history appears more plausible than what is assumed impossible.  Inheriting the pedantic empiricism of Hume, and the spirit of Renaissance Humanism, Spong takes all of these assumptions forth in his mission of demythologizing Christianity.      


Another great difficulty I have with Spong's position, is that it is an attempt to live on two planes which will not be unified ... Atheism and Christianity.  It's the ultimate edible, yet keepsake cake.  He tries to convince us over and over of some way to preserve piety and religious “meaning” that is more than utterly subjective, while debunking the historicity and divinity of the bible.  Why does he try so hard to urge men to be believing unbelievers?  If a soldier in the Civil war ventured to wear gray pants and a blue coat, and tote a firearm, he would doubtless be shot by both sides.  It is interesting that we are discussing nihilism, because, as much as I disagree with them, I find thinkers like Nietzsche to be more consistent than Spong.  Nietzsche would have criticized his position relentlessly.  Just read “The Madman”.  For while Spong’s premises are the same as Nietzsche’s (naturalistic methodology), he refuses to say “God is dead”, but rather that “God is different” ... that we must reinterpret God in terms of humanistic philosophy.  He says that Christianity must change or die, lose it’s fundamental “real” claims, or perish.  His call is for embalming and keeping God around for something akin to tourism.  Nietzsche would have called this only a refusal to bury a stinking corpse.  From the other firing line, I see Spong described in the writing of a favorite “fundamentalist” of mine, A.B. Bruce ...


quote:
... many in our day call themselves Christians whose theory of the universe (or Weltanschauung, as the Germans call it) does not allow them to believe in the miraculous in any shape or in any sphere; with whom it is an axiom that the continuity of nature's course cannot be broken, and who therefore cannot even go the length of Socinians in their view of Christ and declare Him to be, without qualification, the Holy One of God, the morally sinless One. Even men like Renan claim to be Christians, and, like Balaam, bless Him whom their philosophy compels them to blame. Our modern Balaams all confess that Jesus is at least the holiest of men, if not the absolutely Holy One. They are constrained to bless the Man of Nazareth. They are spellbound by the Star of Bethlehem, as was the Eastern soothsayer by the Star of Jacob, and are forced to say in effect: "How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it."(Numbers 23:8,20).  Others not going so far as Renan, shrinking from thoroughgoing naturalism, believing in a perfect Christ, a moral miracle, yet affect a Christianity independent of dogma, and as little as possible encumbered by miracle, a Christianity purely ethical, consisting mainly in admiration of Christ's character and moral teaching; and, as the professors of such a Christianity, regard themselves as exemplary disciples of Christ. Such are the men of whom the author of Supernatural Religion speaks as characterized by a "tendency to eliminate from Christianity, with thoughtless dexterity, every supernatural element which does not quite accord with current opinions," and as endeavoring "to arrest for a moment the pursuing wolves of doubt and unbelief by practically throwing to them scrap by scrap the very doctrines which constitute the claims of Christianity to be regarded as a divine revelation at all."(i, 92).  Such men can hardly be said to have a consistent theory of the universe, for they hold opinions based on incompatible theories, are naturalistic in tendency, yet will not carry out naturalism to all its consequences. They are either not able, or are disinclined, to realize the alternatives and to obey the voice of logic, which like a stern policeman bids them "Move on;" but would rather hold views which unite the alternatives in one compound eclectic creed, like Schleiermacher,--himself an excellent example of the class,--of whom Strauss remarks that he ground down Christianity and Pantheism to powder, and so mixed them that it is hard to say where Pantheism ends and Christianity begins. In presence of such a spirit of compromise, so widespread, and recommended by the example of many men of ability and influence, it requires some courage to have and hold a definite position, or to resist the temptation to yield to the current and adopt the watchword: Christianity without dogma and miracle. But perhaps it will be easier by and by to realize the alternatives, when time has more clearly shown whither present tendencies lead. Meantime it is the evening twilight, and for the moment it seems as if we could do without the sun, for though he is below the horizon, the air is still full of light. But wait awhile; and the deepening of the twilight into the darkness of night will show how far Christ the Holy One of the Church's confession can be dispensed with as the Sun of the spiritual world. (The Training of The Twelve)
.


And like Bruce, I agree with Paul when he wrote that “ ...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).  


Here are a couple of links, a bit more critical of Spong’s position.  If anyone is checking him out, it would be healthy to hear some potential problems as well as his praise ... and then make a judgment from there.

http://www.probe.org/docs/spong.html

http://www.tektonics.org/spong02.htm


Also here are a few links about Biblical criticism in general, and in particular about N.T. Wright, one of the best examples of a scholar who refutes the form criticism and liberal scholarship (embodied in the ‘Jesus Seminar’) which many of Spong’s ideas are founded upon.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obido    s/tg/detail/-/0800626796/qid=1074022143//ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i0_xgl14/104-7542591-9086330?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

http://catalystresources.org/issues/271newman.html

http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/christ/jesus.htm



LR,

More later on your moral criticism of Old Testament Law ... I’ve run out of time for today.


Stephen

Stephanos
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19 posted 01-13-2004 03:11 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Aenimal:
quote:
Nietzche was often mislabled a nihilist but reading him one finds he really yields to no set mode of thought. That's one of the joys of reading his work; watching the evolution of a man's thought process.



Though it's true that Nietzsche can hardly be described as systematic philosophy, that doesn't mean there is no consistent "mode of thought".  Nihilisim may not be systematic (by it's very nature it is anti-systematic and anti-order), but it does present us with certain axioms and "truths" that were unchangeable in Nietzsche's mind.  


If nihilism must be a systematic philosophy, then yes his body of work has been misnamed, but I don't think that's what most mean when they say "nihilism" ... it is more of an extreme existentialism, more of an extreme mood in reaction to naturalism.  But most still feel that the word is pretty well descriptive of his thoughts.


Stephen.


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20 posted 01-14-2004 12:39 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
Some people say that nothing existed before God; isn't that a nihilism?



What do you mean by "nothing existed before God"?  This could mean 1) God is the maker of all things other than himself  or 2) God had a beginning point, and prior to that "nothing" existed.  

If you mean 1, then where does "nihilisim" fit?

If you mean 2, then I guess I see what you mean.

Only, I've never heard of anyone believing 2.  Most who believe in an infinite personal God, believe that God is "eternal", therefore we only know that our universe had a starting point.  But this does not mean that he hasn't created other worlds unbeknownst to us ... this is pure speculation, of course.



Stephen.
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21 posted 01-14-2004 06:21 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Both seem to have nihilisms too large for me to overlook because If God created everything but had a starting point, than nothing existed before him.  
How did he -a something more than everything-come into being from "nothing"?
But If God is eternal and the maker of all things than that shall suggest created things must have always been because if He had not been creating at any given point that would make break the "eternal" aspect and make Him not a "creator" but if created things have always been how may they be "created" things?
But if He did now, where did He get the timber to make the first thing anyways?  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (01-14-2004 07:04 PM).]

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22 posted 01-28-2004 08:48 PM       View Profile for ESP   Email ESP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ESP

"Tao is the potency of the universe. It includes all Gods, all deities, all divine beings, all spirits, and all souls. This means that all things have Tao as their deep root. [...]One can ask, "is God the source?" If so, then God must have some shape. If he is formed, then he is no different than we are; he is only one of the offspring. Tao is  the final source, the unformed origin of all things."

Just a thought, albeit a quoted thought
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23 posted 01-28-2004 11:44 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

ESP:
quote:
If so, then God must have some shape. If he is formed, then he is no different than we are; he is only one of the offspring. Tao is  the final source, the unformed origin of all things.



Why would God have to be "no different" than we are, just because he has defining attributes?  Small engines work on the same priciples that Space shuttle engines do, but there is a big difference.  The Judeo-Christian concept of God has always been a personal God.  Personality demands a shape of sorts.  You may say that thinking of God in terms of a personality, has its problems.  But actually its much less problematic than making him an impersonal force, as in certain Eastern concepts of God.  

I think early Taoism, had some things right.  It was first presented as a universal "way" of living in harmony with nature.  I agree that there is a "way".  Only later, through pantheism, was the Tao associated with the shapeless ALL.  The moment it becomes everything, and doesn't exclude anything, the Tao becomes not a way, but merely a description of everything that is... literally a description of all ways.   And all that is, must include the good, bad, sound, unsound, right, wrong, harmonious, contradictory, etc ...

The Christian concept of God is a God with whom we have some reference point.  He is not totally foreign to our sensibilities, though we are subject to his correction.  When we encounter something that we know to be winsome or beautiful, or vile and unlovely, we can be assured that God understands.  Though we may be often wrong in our estimations, we are not wrong in our tendency to measure.  He is not an impersonal God, indifferent to good and evil.  In short, he is capable of knowing and loving us.
Just some thoughts,


Plugging this back in to the Tao ...
How could there be a better "way" that is objectively dictated to us, unless a personal mind had deemed it better, and provided the standard?


Stephen.

 
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