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Passions in Poetry

Is Religion a Virus of the Mind?

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jbouder
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125 posted 03-06-2004 03:48 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Since you're bringing up the subject of operant conditioning, I thought I'd let you know that one of the most common means of extinguishing undesirable behavior in others is by removing the stimulus.  If you don't want others discussing religion with you, don't start religion-oriented threads.

Jim
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126 posted 03-06-2004 05:26 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"Since you're bringing up the subject of operant conditioning, I thought I'd let you know that one of the most common means of extinguishing undesirable behavior in others is by removing the stimulus.  If you don't want others discussing religion with you, don't start religion-oriented threads."

~ I'll remember that the next time a preacher knocks on my door, without me asking him too. I'll remember that the next time I stand in formation and listen to the chaplain preach his christian prayer, without me asking him too, I'll remember that when... I could go on for quite some time here... Nah, Jim. What you are reading is the reaction to the virus. Good try, though.

"If this grand panorama before me is what you call God...then God is not dead."

Local Rebel
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127 posted 03-06-2004 10:00 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Denise and Jim.

I don't think it's as important that you arrive at a final answer as it is that you're working on it.  I also don't think there are degrees to loss.  Loss is loss.  I'm sure I've suffered no more pain than anyone else has or will Jim.  But I appreciate both of your responses.

I don't think this is a problem that is unique to Christianity though -- it is yet -- one more human problem, obviously.  It's also a human problem to regale the bereaved with platitudes -- which I might warn against.  A friend (who was not a Christian) remarked to me once
quote:

It's a life lesson.  You just have to figure out what it is you're supposed to learn from it.



After I decked him as he was getting up he naturally asked why I hit him... I said... " It's a life lesson.  You just have to figure out what it is you're supposed to learn from it."

But we do grieve -- and we recover.  As Jim put it -- you stop asking why.  

What I've said in the past:

quote:

This question of fate really ties back into the 'problem of evil' discussion in that the main point of it all is 'why do bad things happen to good people?' and the answer is -- because life is not fair -- and no amount of economic success, happy family life, attending church, paying tithes -- or anything else -- is going to make us immune from a tornado dropping out of the sky and taking everything and everyone away from us.

Stuff happens -- and whether or not we were fortunate enough to be born in the wealthiest country on the planet we all will have to find meaning for our lives. It doesn't really even matter whether or not there are pre-destined courses for our lives -- because here we are -- and life is short.

There may be some Utopia out there --- there may be a Dystopia -- but what does it matter? Here we are....



Perhaps Denise -- it would be better to just stick to what Jesus said -- "The rain falls on the just and the unjust."  He seemed pretty reluctant to say why.

Jim,

It's simple   -- what I've always said -- a text need not be literally true to contain 'truth'.

Notice also that I didn't include the Nicene Creed.  I can find some value in parts of that.

I don't think you can know what I believe because I'd have to post an entire exposition -- who would read it?  (yawn)  But, I'll gladly discuss it -- and have been for four years.  
Stephanos
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128 posted 03-07-2004 04:32 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hey guys, I've really wanted to participate in this thread but my computer took a tumble off the desk while my wife and I were painting one day.  Irritating, but I ended up getting a new computer.       Also things have been very busy.  But I'll try to peep in here and there.


Brad:
quote:
I suppose what I'm thinking about are the endless predictions of the end of the world.  
Would you consider these statements to be extremist? For example,  "The Late Great Planet Earth" -- I actually read that some twenty years ago -- or that Gorbachev has the mark of the beast on his forehead?
It never pays a prophet to be too specific.
At any rate, is this mindset mainstream or would you consider it extremist?

Yeah.  There is much extremism in the world of Christendom that bothers believers as much it bothers you.  It's just my opinion ... but you might fare better reading "The Abolition of Man" by Lewis, or "How Should We Then Live" by Schaeffer, rather than "TLGPE".  These works seem to confirm the same general idea of the death of mankind (caused by the fall), but are not as fanciful in their descriptions.  The problem is, the validity of the Judeo/Christian prophecies concerning the end of this present order and the beginning of the new, gets confused with that of certain particular caricatures of it.  Smoldering aunt sallies do not rule out the possibility of truth in eschatology.

(that's all for now ... it's hard to know what to address when you've been gone a while)

Stephen.  
Brad
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129 posted 03-07-2004 06:22 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Hmmm, maybe we should just wait for Stephan to catch up.

Denise
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130 posted 03-07-2004 08:03 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

quote:
Perhaps Denise -- it would be better to just stick to what Jesus said -- "The rain falls on the just and the unjust."  He seemed pretty reluctant to say why.


Well, L.R., I don't think He was reluctant to say why. I just think that He knew that they knew the Scriptures that declared that truth and that those same Scriptures also declared the 'why', that everything is from the hand of God, which they would also have known.

Perhaps prudence dictates that type of abbreviated response, perhaps maybe even in most cases, especially if standing within striking distance . It depends on the one to whom we are speaking or comforting, I would say.

To some the best thing to say is, "it just is" or "only God knows" or something similar, or maybe even saying nothing at all, but just be there for them. With some I could also comfort them with my conviction (and theirs), as a reminder, that nothing happens to us that is not permitted by God, that all that happens to us is ultimately according to His will for the fulfillment of His purposes in us and through us, to conform us more and more into the image of the Son, even though we can't see any possible good in it at the moment.

My understanding of the sovereignty of God brings much comfort to me. But not everyone believes in God and not everyone who does believe in God has the same understanding as to the extent of His sovereignty. Wisdom is definitely needed when we are attempting to comfort people, because, afterall, it is the person that we are attempting to comfort whose outlook and receptivity that should be considered paramount, or else why attempt to comfort them at all if we only end up wounding them with words that they aren't able to receive?

Stephen, I was wondering where you were. Welcome back! Now, what the heck are "smoldering aunt sallies" ? I can't say that I've ever heard that term. Is it some sort of philosophical lingo or maybe some sort of regional lingo?

Brad, Stephen is a quick study. We won't have to wait too long I'm sure!
Local Rebel
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131 posted 03-07-2004 11:38 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Don't worry Denise -- I haven't punched anybody since... mm.. last week.. (j/k)  

And I certainly wouldn't argue that what you say may have been in Jesus' mind.  He was without question a man of scripture.

One day when you have the time you may want to add Kershner to your reading list.

Stephan;  hurry back into the fray... our conversations aren't balanced without your input.
Denise
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132 posted 03-08-2004 08:14 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Thanks, I may do just that, L.R., but first you'll have to tell me who he is and what he has written so I can check it out. I can't say that I've heard of him. What is his field? Maybe that will narrow it down for me.
Local Rebel
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133 posted 03-08-2004 08:19 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Rabbi Harold Kushner

When Bad Things Happen to Good People
When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough
Who Needs God

I think he'd be right up your alley  

(no wonder you hadn't heard of him -- I spelled his name rong up there... ack!)
Denise
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134 posted 03-08-2004 08:34 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Ah, yes, him I've heard of! Good writer with lots of wisdom to share.
Stephanos
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135 posted 03-09-2004 03:32 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Denise ...


I'm sure you know what smoldering means.

aunt sally n. -

1) in the U.K., a traditional target used in throwing-games in fairgrounds, shaped as the head of a woman of advanced years, typically with a clay pipe in her mouth, that throwers try to break.  

2)  a person who is a ready target for criticism or focus for disputation.


It's sort of similar to "strawman", but it's a British term.  


Stephen.
Denise
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136 posted 03-10-2004 02:49 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Thanks Stephen, I had my suspicions that it meant something like strawman but couldn't find the definition and didn't just want to make assumptions. Thanks again!

serenity blaze
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137 posted 10-08-2007 01:55 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

This one too.
Stephanos
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138 posted 10-08-2007 02:26 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Karen,

I'm wondering ... were there aspects of these threads you wanted to bring up?  Or were you just raising them from the depths in hopes that someone else might take up where they left off?  

Stephen
serenity blaze
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139 posted 10-08-2007 02:57 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Karen's been thinking again...

and there's a lot of sources in here I meant to get back to and didn't.

So, no, I'm not trying to start anything except my brain, here.

I bumped them so I could find them easily.

But, it IS interesting, and we do have some new folks here, so sure, I'd enjoy reading any new comments.
Grinch
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140 posted 10-08-2007 04:07 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Is religion a virus of the mind?

Yes, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt.

"We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Richard Dawkins

Stephanos
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141 posted 10-08-2007 04:46 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

But its too simplistic to say that Christians are "atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in".  The best of paganism was but a partial and imaginative reflection of the one true God.  So in a sense, the Christian doesn't lose the gods, but finds their summation in Christ.  The colors of the old Pantheon are found anew in the precious stones of God's temple.  Its just that the errors of mistaken identity and the diabolical shades are taken away.  

My point is, there's a great difference between atheism and theism.  It's having all the beauties of divinity (including all that was glorious in pagan religions), or none.  Dawkins' idea that atheists are dismissing "merely one more" doesn't tell what's really at stake.


Stephen
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142 posted 10-08-2007 05:40 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
But its too simplistic to say that Christians are "atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in".


It may be simplistic Stephen but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s true, if you want some hard evidence that Christians are atheists about most gods then try answering the following.

Of all the gods that have ever existed in the minds of men how many do you believe actually exist?

You can wriggle around the question by suggesting that all gods are a reflection of the one true god if you like but I wouldn’t recommend opening that particular can of worms.

quote:
My point is, there's a great difference between atheism and theism.  It's having all the beauties of divinity (including all that was glorious in pagan religions), or none.  Dawkins' idea that atheists are dismissing "merely one more" doesn't tell what's really at stake.


Unicorns are beautiful or they would be if they actually existed, divinity falls into the same category. You’re holding out your hand and asking whether I want the beautiful but invisible clothes you’re holding or nothing at all, you’re selling an idea of beauty or, if you prefer Richards’s terminology a meme.

I’ll stick with nothing – it doesn’t cost me anything.

Ron
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143 posted 10-08-2007 08:10 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’ll stick with nothing – it doesn’t cost me anything.

Of course it does . . . as you well know. Nothing is free of cost, including nothing.
Stephanos
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144 posted 10-08-2007 10:48 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch:
quote:
Of all the gods that have ever existed in the minds of men how many do you believe actually exist?  You can wriggle around the question by suggesting that all gods are a reflection of the one true god if you like but I wouldn’t recommend opening that particular can of worms.



It's not a new idea.  It perfectly sound theology to say that Biblical monotheism has always been concerned not so much with condemning the virtues attributed to idols, as insisting on their true source.


The only problem with the meme idea, from Dawkin's view, is that his own rhetorical ideas can be no different than a meme ... or a virus if you prefer.  In fact to say that all life arose without a maker, by process of random mutations invites the exact same kind of criticism as would any change induced by a microorganism.  How is genetic malfunction any different than viral infection?  


Stephen
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145 posted 10-09-2007 01:45 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Henotheism
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146 posted 10-09-2007 12:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos

If life needs to be created by a creator then the life of God needs to be created thus too.  Who created his life?


Grinch
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147 posted 10-09-2007 01:03 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
It's not a new idea.  It perfectly sound theology to say that Biblical monotheism has always been concerned not so much with condemning the virtues attributed to idols, as insisting on their true source.


“Insisting on their true source”

Is that a nice way of saying “death to all infidels”, “lets start a crusade” or “welcome to the inquisition”?

“Insisting on their true source” implies that any religion, presumably other than your own is a false religion and that the god that the followers of that religion are worshiping doesn’t actually exist. Now call me pedantic if you like but that sounds suspiciously like an atheistic statement to me, in which case the quote by Dawkins is valid. Religious people like you have no problem questioning the existence of other people’s gods, Richard just takes it one step further and questions the existence of yours.

Of course you can go down the can of worms trail if you like and insist that Allah, Buddha and Zeus are just reflections of the one true god or differing descriptions of the same invisible elephant. But then you’d need to convince me why your particular elephant was any more valid than theirs and that there wasn’t in fact several or no elephants to begin with.

Your god and their god are separate and distinct entities created and sustained by faith alone when you argue that their god doesn’t exist I’m quite happy to agree with you and when they argue that your god is false I’m the first one nodding his head. Which is exactly what Dawkins was alluding to in the quote I used.

quote:
The only problem with the meme idea, from Dawkin's view, is that his own rhetorical ideas can be no different than a meme ... or a virus if you prefer.   In fact to say that all life arose without a maker, by process of random mutations invites the exact same kind of criticism as would any change induced by a microorganism.  How is genetic malfunction any different than viral infection?


Absolutely no difference whatsoever if you ignore the fact that Dawkin’s idea isn’t contracted by accident or spread surreptitiously from birth whether the recipient wants it or not.

Dawkin’s idea is offered and accepted or denied based on evidence – Dawkins meme is a vaccine not a virus.

Grinch
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148 posted 10-09-2007 01:16 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
Of course it does . . . as you well know. Nothing is free of cost, including nothing.


True but saying:

I’ll stick with nothing – After an in-depth cost\benefit analysis I consider the option of nothing to be substantially more beneficial and more cost effective.

Hasn’t got the impact I was looking for.  

Essorant
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149 posted 10-09-2007 01:29 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Grinch,

Nothing needs to live up to your expections in order to exist.  
 
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