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Labelling Atheism

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Local Rebel
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50 posted 02-04-2006 12:45 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I think that distinction makes a significant difference in my life and yours Brad because we don't live in a vacuum. We interact with followers of various religions at every turn.  We're left with two choices.  Play along.  Communicate clearly.

In polite conversation, or professional discourse the question rarely comes up. Understanding who we are when it does come up is important.  It matters to me because it matters to Stephan(s), Jim(s) et al.  Not as a matter of superiority of one position over another but as a matter of definition.

They want to know what we're going to do in the heat of passion or anger or jealousy.  

quote:

Why this world and not some other or no world?



Because there can only be this world.  For us.  There is a supposition in this question that we could, somehow, transport our conciousness across different platforms.  The eternal soul proposition.  But, if we were different creatures with different appendages and ate different foods in different gravity we wouldn't think the same.  If we had six fingers on each hand we wouldn't even be using a base 10 numbering system.  Tiny changes in climate, food supply, etc. contribute to huge differences in culture right here on Terra Firma -- imagine how alien we would be if we were aliens.

It's not an unanswerable question in my mind.  I'm me because I can't be anybody else -- but I can imagine a different me that I can aspire to and I can take action to move myself toward goals.

Creationists want to ask the question why the solar system lines up so perfectly to support life and our ecosystem -- it's really the same question -- and the same answer -- it's this way because it happened this way.

More later (maybe)

Stephanos
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51 posted 02-04-2006 12:55 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR, you tagged my post at the end.  I just didn't want y'all to miss my long post.  I worked too hard on it.  

and what do you mean "maybe" ... yeah right.

enjoying the thread, and the spaghetti.  Wait a minute .... which is which?    

Stephen.
Stephanos
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52 posted 02-04-2006 01:53 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

In the spirit of the philosopher-bard's love of music, I give you this link ...

http://www.donalder.com/vidclips.html


Of interest is "DR DR studio version", and "Marshal's Lanai".  


I'm a guitar player.  And this guy makes me want to burn, crush, destroy, explode my instrument, and never pick it up again.  (just kidding- but a bit of jealousy does come to mind)


Enjoy,

Stephen.
Grinch
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53 posted 02-04-2006 08:33 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


There are a lot of possible roads to take with this thread, most of which donít travel too close to the original post Ė but thatís a good thing, conversations and discussions normally meander and almost always end up in more interesting places.

We started with the question of whether atheism was generally good, then meandered into the definition of religion and on to whether disbelief was evidence of non-existence. We visited briefly the outposts of the evolution of ethics and the realm of the spaghetti monster and I have to say Iím looking forward to the next destination.

To help me get to where I want to go I need a little help, especially from the religious among you.

How would you define Agnosticism?

I know the standard, canít know\donít know definition but Iíve never truly understood it when looked at from a religious adherents perspective. If being religious equates to believing and following a god and atheism is the disbelief in god whereís the room for agnosticism? Surely there can be only one alternative to being religious, or is agnosticism simply a socially acceptable label for what is, essentially, atheism?

Iím not really interested at this point the advantages of belief over disbelief or opinions as to why one is better than the other, Iím trying to understand how one group perceives the other Ė whether Christians view atheists as intrinsically bad, mad and immoral and, if agnosticism is a separate set of non-believers, whether they are viewed differently.

btw - Thanks for the journey so far.

Essorant
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54 posted 02-04-2006 12:07 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Hush

"It's not paranoia. It's common sense"

You mean that same common sense that says its "morning" at 1:00 o clock at night, when pitch darkness is over the land and the sun is no where to be seen?  And says earth can't be flat anymore because it is round too?  Sorry, but I don't ride on that road.  

I'm not so fond of certain differences that I am willing to make them out to be the only tokens of reality and existance.  To me every thing is a token of reality and existance.  And no token exists more than any other token.  My thoughts exist just as much as your thoughts, and both of our thoughts exist just as much as the ground under our feet.  

They are very different indeed, but those differences are not an inequality of existance.  Differences don't detach us from existance, but rather, they make us more aware of it.  

If someone won't accept the existance of something just because it is severely different from something else, to me that is folly.


"Spaghetti monsters don't exist on a plane of reality."

I continue my disagreement.  
Every plane is a plane of reality.

Think about it this way: you go into a house with many different mirrors.  Each mirror is shaped/bent differently.  You are reflected differently in each mirror according to how the mirror is shaped or bent.  Do the mirrors no longer reflect an existant thing--you--because you show up very altered in the reflections?  If a particular reflection that you may only refer to when you are there and acknowledge it, does not exist, and, then how can you exist (since it is dependant your presence)?  

The differences in those mirrors to me are not "seperations" from existance or reality, but rather variations of reflecting the same thing--YOU.  

Perhaps didn't mean for yourself to show up in that "warped" way, but your still reflected in every one of them.  Even the one that makes your arms and legs look like spaghetti            

Mirrors are manhandled, made to reflect ourselves.  But just like drawings, they may be warped and thereby warp expression of the reflection of everything and anything real.  However the reflection is still always a real thing, and is still of a real thing.

Think about something more spiritual, such as the wind.  We often use something more physical and therefore, willfully use inaccuracy.  Inevitablly we feel we must use canvas or some other solid surface to paint something that shall convey presence of wind in our painting.  But wind is not a solid surface nor is it man's paint     .  Nor is wind made of lines or arrows that weather men may use.  Nor does wind show up with a human body as it is represented often in art.
We often use things created that are very unlike things we represent, to represent things, while at the same time we may use things that are much more like them, and both whether artfully unlike or artfully like,  still are, and represent, real and existant things.  Art would not be art anymore if we could by our own hands completly duplicate with perfection something that we are trying to represent or refer too.  

Every difference is a variation of the same thing: the universe.  God gives Godmade, Nature gives natural, and man gives manmade differences to the universe, but the universe and each thing in the universe still remains wholly existant, just not always in the same shape.    

[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-05-2006 10:45 AM).]

Stephanos
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55 posted 02-04-2006 04:28 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:
I know the standard, canít know\donít know definition but Iíve never truly understood it when looked at from a religious adherents perspective. If being religious equates to believing and following a god and atheism is the disbelief in god whereís the room for agnosticism? Surely there can be only one alternative to being religious, or is agnosticism simply a socially acceptable label for what is, essentially, atheism?

You're right that from a Christian perspective, agnosticism differs very little from atheism.  And even among atheists, and agnostics, the differences are subtle.  


I would say that atheism is the more settled form of agnosticism, where the mould has set.  If "agnosticism" is simply a place of indecision, then the pottery has not necessarily been fired in the kiln.  This means in essense, "I don't know".  That is soft agnosticism.  Hard agnosticism, takes on a more absolute tone.  It is much more ambitious in the sense that it says "I can't know, and no one else can either".  At that point, agnosticism becomes essentially the same as absolute atheism ... positions which do not comport with relativistic thinking, since they make metaphysical claims far beyond the self.  


Then there is the "between" category.  Some try and reside here, philosophically.  They don't want to just say, "I don't know".  But nor do they want to come across as dogmatically sure.  It's funny that they can be just as "sure" as anyone else, but can retain a metaphyscial dogma of uncertainty.  Their dogmatically negative epistemology, protects them from seeming overly pedagogical.  So at some times they adopt the approach of the former, and at other times the latter.  


Then there's the "Question doesn't matter" type of agnostic.  But again, why should that extend beyond, "doesn't matter to me", unless we want to take an absolutist position?  Autobiographically, the question has mattered to most of humanity, throughout history.

    
As far as whether Christians view agnostics and atheists as "bad" or "rebellious", it's not that simple.  Christians view the entire human race, as infected with a principle called "sin".  And sin, by it's origin, has a rebellious factor.  So the Christian, while being careful not to constantly accuse people of intended evil or rebellion (this is not the case), should still raise the possiblity of sin being a persuading element.  The question of whether God exists, is not an altogether neutral question.  It seems that even atheists from time to time (like Huxley) admit so.


From a Theistic perspective, anything that would maintain the separation of God from his people, is necessarily evil, even if "reason" or "rationality" is the given as the cause.  C.S. Lewis once wrote:


"If we wish to be rational, not now and then, but constantly, we must pray for the gift of Faith, for the power to go on believing not in the teeth of reason but in the teeth of lust and terror and jealousy and boredom and indifference that which reason, authority, or experience, or all three, have once delivered to us for truth." (from "Christian Reflections")


And I have found, in my own life, temptations to disbelieve rarely stem from rationality, but from the kinds of things that Lewis has described.  I suspect that may be true for many.  


Stephen.
    
Local Rebel
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56 posted 02-04-2006 05:18 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I mean maybe Stephan because I'm a musician too and I'm supposed to be working on a new CD... whenever I take a break I come in and look for a thread or two I might follow and do some good with.

After 30 years of playing though I'm long past the point of jealousy over what someone else can do.  I just recognize that I do what I do and they do what they do and enjoy it all.  

I've been setting the intonation on my acoustics (whittling new saddles out of bone and compensating them) for the last couple of days -- and setting up my new 51 which is half fat Strat and half Tele, and all tone -- I've actually never had a guitar that I liked this much (and it's just a Squier)..  Think I'll buy one in vintage blonde too before they stop making them.

anyway -- I digress...

Your paradigm, again, presents you with false choices.  An agnostic is not a fence sitter -- this is often a mistaken idea about political moderates too because idealogues think there can only be two ways.

What's more important than saying 'I don't know' or 'I can't know' is expressing what I do and don't know.  I do know that the Christian/Hebrew Bible is not a literal document.  Certainly there are parts which can point to actual historical places, people, events -- but, if I wrote a fictional story about Superbowl XL it would certainly contain real people, places, and events -- but that wouldn't make it 'true'.  That, would not, however prevent it from containing 'truth'.

I don't believe in supernatural forces, entities because , being me, I have no known way of detecting them except by natural means.  In other words, if I was to happen to see a supernatural event -- it would have to manifest itself in a way that could be percieved by this corporeal being.  

If Jesus is actually who Christians say he is -- then I'm certain he doesn't want me to lie and hedge my life with Pascal's wager.

I, too, as an agnostic believe that humans are in a state of 'sin' in the Hebrew sense -- that is, not being seperated from God but in the knowledge of the difference between what we are and a percieved, more desireable state.  We can imagine that we can be better.

Spong talks of Christpower as a catalyst to propel us beyond that state and move us toward our better perception of ourselves -- actually he speaks of it more elaborately than that -- and I liken that a bit to the Pascal Journey -- but I don't think we have to talk metaphysics to be able to do that.

anyway -- back to work....
Ron
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57 posted 02-04-2006 05:31 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Doubt, I believe, is Universal, a necessary reflection of free will. Even Jesus, in order to be human, had to suffer the pangs of doubt.

The difference between a believer, an agnostic and an atheist is one of degree, not of kind.


Stephanos
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58 posted 02-04-2006 05:53 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

But if faith isn't also universal, then there has to a distinction somewhere. What's the difference between settled unbelief (apostasy) and transitory doubt?  From a Christian standpoint, that distiction, if not to be used as a whip, is at least present in the text and worthy of our attention.  Peter and Judas both "denied" the Lord, but there was a marked difference between them ... though superficially they mirrored each other in many ways.


more later,

Stephen.


LR, what did you think of Alder's playing?

Ron
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59 posted 02-04-2006 05:58 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
But I think there eventually has to be a distinction between settled unbelief (apostasy) and doubt.

If I deny the existence of settled faith in this life, Stephen, why should I admit to the existence of settled unbelief?    

***


LOL. You edited your post, Stephen, after I had already quoted your original words. That's okay, though. I'll just use the new quote to make the same point.

quote:
What's the difference between settled unbelief (apostasy) and transitory doubt?

Perspective.

Until one gains the perspective of sitting on the far side of final death, everything is transitory and nothing is settled.
Grinch
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60 posted 02-04-2006 06:40 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


ďDoubt, I believe, is Universal, a necessary reflection of free will. Even Jesus, in order to be human, had to suffer the pangs of doubt.

The difference between a believer, an agnostic and an atheist is one of degree, not of kind.Ē

Doesnít that just make us all atheists (at some point) but some being more atheist than others? So what is the ideal point on the scale from ultimate believer (Jesus?) to staunch atheist or are all positions equally ideal?
Brad
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61 posted 02-04-2006 07:03 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
So at least some atheists ... probably more than some, have seen this essentially negative metaphyscial assertion, as something which can positively be acted upon.  In that sense, if it is not a 'religion' per se, it is at least a religious type of belief, a kind of metanarrative which may give a more comfortable latitude, to determine one's own ethical choices, without the bothersome questions of sin or righteousness.


Both Al and Fred views, at least here, strike me as adolescent. A kind of young Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear kind of freedom.

But as in Nemo when the fish finally escape the dentist's office but are still stuck in plastic bags, you still have to answer the question, "Now what?"

And that question is not easy whether you're an aetheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or whatever.

quote:
Admittedly, Nietzsche and Huxley aren't much like your description of atheism.


No kidding.

quote:
But even you Brad, do not stop at a personal agnosticism, in most of your posts, though I see you try to hold that tone.  Your assertion that metaphysical claims are ultimately irrelevant to life, is itself a metaphysical assertion that you obviously feel frees people from some kind of misconception, or illusion, about reality.


I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean here, but I would argue that it's more empirical or statistical than metaphysical. On the other hand, if you buy into a metaphysical schema, my point makes no sense.

quote:
It doesn't matter that you are not overtly passionate about spreading that kind of knowledge, you nonetheless hold a stoic consistency about it, and offer plenty of reasoning toward that end.


Stoic? That's gotta be a first.

quote:
You repudiate anyone saying any world-view is "superior" to another, but basically imply that those like Ron, myself, Jim, are believing in something that is meaningless and irrelevant to daily life.  I'm not insulted at that, as much as I am interested in the fact that you tend to camoflage the fact, that what you are doing is claiming to know a metaphysical, universal, truth, albeit a naturalistic one.  I would tend to say you are mistaken in your assertion, rather that chiding you from doing what is more compatible with my world-view ... namely saying, "I'm right about this, and this is why I think so."


It's not my intent to comouflage, I am hesitant -- though I do say it -- to say, "It doesn't matter," if only because I think it inhibits conversation.

I think conversation, the process itself, even if it doesn't lead to agreement or concensus, even if no answers are found, is a good thing. It tends to humanize the other and at the very least puts off the killing for a day or two.

I'm intrigued by the question itself I guess. I find it mildly amusing that a few here have stated they'll find out which position is right after they die.

An aetheist will never know if he or she is right because death means you aren't there. A theist will never know if he or she is wrong for the exact same reason. The former can only be shown that he or she is wrong, the latter that he or she is right.

Can't help but think that makes religion the slightly more attractive of the two.

But here you go:

I'm right.

It doesn't matter.

Why?

Because insanity runs in both houses.

                  
Essorant
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62 posted 02-05-2006 11:21 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

God's, Nature's, or Man's creations
Aren't uniquer variations
To this Universe, I say, than:
God Almighty, Nature, and Man.

God is the Universe's head
Nature the body of the whole,
And Man a toe, swollen and red;
Thus goes the Universe's Soul.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-05-2006 12:55 PM).]

Local Rebel
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63 posted 02-05-2006 03:17 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:
The difference between a believer, an agnostic and an atheist is one of degree, not of kind.



I think I've always said that...  

(although -- search seems to be truncating its results as I've apparently only even used the word agnostic seven times in 7 years?  something is wrong Ron... )

I enjoyed the Dr. Dr. vid Stephen... I have a mini-jumbo cutaway similar to his, but I don't do exactly that kind of work.  While it looks and sounds really complex I think it's probably really as easy as he makes it look -- at least for experienced player who wanted to do it... so.. do it!

http://www.squierguitars.com/products/search.php?partno=0325100503

That's my latest acquisition... I wouldn't reccomend it though unless someone knows how to dress frets and set up a guitar -- Squier doesn't exactly 'finish' thier products.. but still, even at the price if you took it to a luthier and had it properly adjusted it would be well worth the bucks.  I'd also reccomend changing the saddles, the 'vintage' style Strat saddles are string breakers.  I'll probably just pull the hard tail and pop a Bigsby on it.

I use it for all my SRV type blues work... picking up my Strat and Muddy Waters style Tele less and less.  
Stephanos
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64 posted 02-07-2006 02:03 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

Tom cruise in his underwear?  Nemo?  

Pop-culture provides a ceaseless supply of analogies for us philosopher-types, does it not?

quote:
you still have to answer the question, "Now what?"

And that question is not easy whether you're an aetheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or whatever.


No argument here.  I just don't think it's the only question that matters.  


quote:
I think conversation, the process itself, even if it doesn't lead to agreement or concensus, even if no answers are found, is a good thing. It tends to humanize the other and at the very least puts off the killing for a day or two.



Well, my metaphysical belief (what's behind it, actually) puts off my killing you, indefinitely.  So you can relax.  In fact, I'm even supposed to do my best to love you.  


But you're right.  Conversation is good.


quote:
I'm intrigued by the question itself I guess. I find it mildly amusing that a few here have stated they'll find out which position is right after they die.

An aetheist will never know if he or she is right because death means you aren't there. A theist will never know if he or she is wrong for the exact same reason. The former can only be shown that he or she is wrong, the latter that he or she is right.

Can't help but think that makes religion the slightly more attractive of the two.



But Brad, we didn't do that.  It's not sophistry.  It's really the way the question pans out.  You can say that people shouldn't wish for resolution, or wish to live on, but from my world-view those desires are basic and proper.  You're right in saying that it makes religion more attractive.  But Christians have always believed that the truth, (though not a walk in the park), is intrinsically more attractive than it's alternatives.


quote:
insanity runs in both houses.


But there is a promise that it will reside, as a permanent resident, in only one.  


Ron:
quote:
Until one gains the perspective of sitting on the far side of final death, everything is transitory and nothing is settled.


Are you saying no one can know whether or not they are a saint?  There is a healthy agnosticism, that helps us to doubt false foundations ... but there is also an unhealthy agnosticism that helps us to take nothing for sure.  Maybe philosophy has led you to believe (or disbelieve) as you do.  Maybe you're just trying to be humble.  But since when does humility have the right to deny distinctions, just because it doesn't want to flaunt them?  

There are some pretty amazing lines drawn in scripture between things like regeneration and depravity, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, election and damnation.  You can say they are only for God, and from God.  But then why did he speak them to us at all, on this side of the grave?  If not to make us proud, smug, or insensitive to subtleties ... much less to make us agnostics, I would say.  

To say our that our judgements are questionable about what the differences are, is one thing.  That would alert one to caution and care.  To say that there are no fundamental differences, only a gradient, is quite another.


But then again, I may be misunderstanding you.  But I think you need to clarify.  Even Grinch is wondering, if the difference is only in degree, what determines what is ideal?  Surely, as a Christian, you wouldn't recommend atheism would you?  


LR,

thanks for the link.  I have an Ernie Ball Music Man Silhouette.  But I'm thinking about getting another guitar, more vintage sounding.  I may look into this.  I have a friend who is very talented at setting up guitars.  And like you said, he told me that factory guitars never come ready to play off the shelf.


Stephen.    

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (02-07-2006 02:57 AM).]

Grinch
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65 posted 02-07-2006 07:08 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Stephanos,

ďBut then again, I may be misunderstanding you.  But I think you need to clarify.  Even Grinch is wondering, if the difference is only in degree, what determines what is ideal?  Surely, as a Christian, you wouldn't recommend atheism would you?Ē

Actually my question was sort of rhetorical, I know the answer I was just hoping someone else would post it.

The ideal is wherever you happen to be on the scale or where youíre hoping to get. In this respect Christians and Atheists are clearly animals of a different ilk.

If the far left of the scale is Jesus and the far right is a hard atheist and the increments between are clearly defined then everyone will be able to point to where they are. Atheists would see a move to the left as a bad move and a move to the right slightly less bad but still not ideal. Christians however will always aspire to be further left on a graduated scale, and each increment in that direction would be seen as better or more good than any move to the right. In fact any move to the right would be seen as a downhill slide away from good.

Of course this scale of relative goodness has itís problems, the first one being that both Atheists and Christians can be equally as good, that was what I found interesting in the statement by my Christian friend that sparked this thread.

A much bigger problem however arises when good people on the religious scale do increasingly bad things the further left they go (though presumably this stops when they reach the far left). When this happens you end up with seemingly devoutly religious people, those that never miss Church or the Mosque on Sunday or Friday, strapping fifteen pounds of Semtex to their chest and taking out two city blocks in the name of their God.

At that point the Atheist glances down the scale to the left and what he sees confirms his disbelief and the people at the bombers Church or Mosque release a press statement saying, ďHe wasnít really a true Christian\MulimĒ

If the bomber had continued on his merry religious way without strapping on the explosives would he have been considered a good Christian\Moslem? Is he defined as non-religious (bad) because of the act or is he just a bad Christian\Muslim waiting to be defined by his action.

If we switch the scenario and a radical or hard atheist prints some blasphemous pictures in a Danish magazine the Atheists to his left look right and their suspicions of badness are confirmed. The Christians too look right and have their suspicions confirmed and the atheist publisher's friends admit he was a really hard Atheist (and take two paces to the left if they have any sense   ).


Stephanos
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66 posted 02-07-2006 09:39 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch,

You've pointed out a fundamental difference between Believers and Atheists, and that's a start.  I agree with you, that the difference is fundamental.  You also state that goals indicate the difference between the two.  Yes, I suppose.  But the "goal" of an atheist, is usually something which comports more with the Christian worldview.  (Reb is an example ... whose goal is to be "Christian" without what he deems unnecessary beliefs).  I can't imagine an atheist wanting to be a bad person.  It's just that an atheist's moral goal must be an arbitrary construct, since nature itself is silent when it comes to morals.  It is more like a preference, than anything.  But to me, that defies the "oughtness" of morality, which is so very central to it's definition.  To the Christian, moral character is teleological.  It is what we were meant to be, according to God's own character.  Of course another difference too, would be that the Christian's ultimate goal is not to be goodly, but godly.  It is goodness, but more than that, god-likeness.  And that can't be done apart from the miraculous, and the free gift of grace.  


In addition to that, you pointed out the problem of hypocrisy.  The difference between profession, and action.  I guess that will always present somewhat of a problem.  But the individual need not be concerned with specks in his brother's eyes, when he has a plank in his own.  If we are all individually accountable to God, hypocrites only serve as warnings to ourselves.  They also illustrate and underscore God's standard all over again.  Raph once brought up Roman Catholic child molesters as a reason to doubt the faith.  I told him that it was obvious to me, that he was assuming the absolute moral framework of that very faith in order to condemn those priests.  Deviation from a standard, and the moral indignation that follows, only ends up praising the standard.  It should not help us doubt it, only those who transgressed it.  But it's fallen human nature to take comfort, by comparison, in the wrongs of others.  It's easier to speed when someone else gets pulled over, we suppose.  And I guess that unbelief and blasphemy are sins which get excused in our minds, whenever the religious fail.  


Lastly, you've raised the question of what the fundamental teaching of Christianity versus Islam is.  Is Islam, by its very own teachings, a fundamentally peaceful religion, or a bellicose ideology?  I have a copy of the Koran, where there are admonitions to convert the heathen, but upon failure to do so, it is godly to put them to the sword.  If the Old Testament of the Bible seems similar to this (It's really not that similar, though divine justice is expressed through warfare), the New Testament teaches a totally different ethic than this.  My point?  When Christians kill, it's much easier to point out that they are veering from the standard left by their own founder.  When Muslims kill, it's harder to say they aren't good muslims.  Yes you can say that they aren't being good.  But, contextually, taking the teaching of the Koran seriously, can we say they are not being good Muslims?  Is Jihad portrayed as godly in the Koran or isn't it?    


I have not explored this question to the full, but it's at least worthy of asking.  


Stephen.
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67 posted 02-08-2006 04:47 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


ďBut the individual need not be concerned with specks in his brother's eyes, when he has a plank in his own.  If we are all individually accountable to God, hypocrites only serve as warnings to ourselves.Ē

Even if religion was the cause we should ignore it, let god judge transgressors itís not our problem, we should just concentrate on being more religious.

I know you didnít mean it that way Stephanos but from my side of the agnostic fence thatís exactly what it sounds like.

Are Muslims as peaceful (good) as Christians?

I think it depends on your perspective, are you looking left from Jesus or right from Allah? From my perspective Iíd have to say they look pretty similar. Their texts may be different, but I think thatís just an imbalance in theological consequences due to cultural differences, the real acid test is in their actions.

Only religion makes good men do bad things.


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68 posted 02-08-2006 05:20 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Even if religion was the cause we should ignore it, let god judge transgressors itís not our problem, we should just concentrate on being more religious.



What do you mean by religion being the cause?  I assume you mean the teachings of any particular religion, persuading overzealous devotees to do violence.  That's why I address the fundamental difference between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Mohammed.

As far as what I meant by focusing on the plank in our own eye ... I mean that the truth of any proposition (religious or otherwise) should not be judged according to someone's behavior.  If behavior is such a factor, your atheism is just as tenous as anything.  Many avowed atheists (particularly communist leaders, who accepted a Marxist view of reality) have blood on their hands.  


quote:
From my perspective Iíd have to say they look pretty similar.


In light of recent world events in the U.S., France, and Denmark ... are you serious?  I personally think you've been listening to a kind of rhetoric out there that lumps all religious fundamentalism into one pot.  I'm not saying that professing "christians" have never done violence, but the difference in frequencey and severity should be noted.  

Beyond that, I'm just saying that the difference in dogma should be noted too.  A violent Christian, does his violence, only as he departs from the teachings of his Lord.  He is among the 5 virgins who get shut out of the Kingdom of God.  A violent Muslim, in the right context, affirms the teaching of Mohammed concerning Jihad.  He gets 72 virgins and many servants in paradise, for killing the infidels.  


quote:
Their texts may be different, but I think thatís just an imbalance in theological consequences due to cultural differences, the real acid test is in their actions.


Well, the "cultural differences" explanation that you hold, should not be a barrier for you, since everything comes from culture, in your secular view of reality.  So, even granting the source, you do note a fundamental difference.  And that was my point.  As far as actions being the "real acid test", I never said otherwise.  In this we agree.


Stephen.
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69 posted 02-08-2006 05:30 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Only religion makes good men do bad things.


I would rather say ...

Only bad religion makes good men do bad things.
And even good religion, cannot make bad men good, if they are persistent in doing evil, and use religion as a cloak.


Stephen.
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70 posted 02-08-2006 06:11 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


ďAs far as actions being the "real acid test", I never said otherwise.  In this we agree.Ē

So as long as weíre good our religious beliefs donít matter, a good Muslim is equal to a good Christian whoís exactly on par with a good Atheist.

Superb, we really do agree.
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71 posted 02-08-2006 06:28 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Maybe I spoke too soon.

Many avowed atheists (particularly communist leaders, who accepted a Marxist view of reality) have blood on their hands.

Yep, guilty as charged but weíve already been through this, atheists admit that atheists do bad things, now how many true Christians\Muslims have blood on their hands?

In light of recent world events in the U.S., France, and Denmark ... are you serious?

Yes, the clue is in the term Ďin light of recent eventsí if you use Ďin light of previous eventsí the potential for barbarity on both sides looks roughly equal. You say Crusade they say Jihad (which is better on a good\bad scale btw)

Beyond that, I'm just saying that the difference in dogma should be noted too.  A violent Christian, does his violence, only as he departs from the teachings of his Lord.  He is among the 5 virgins who get shut out of the Kingdom of God.  A violent Muslim, in the right context, affirms the teaching of Mohammed concerning Jihad.  He gets 72 virgins and many servants in paradise, for killing the infidels.

So Christians are better than Muslims? Or is it that bad Christians are better than bad Muslims? What happened to all good people being equally good?
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72 posted 02-08-2006 08:30 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

(Reb is an example ... whose goal is to be "Christian" without what he deems unnecessary beliefs).  I can't imagine an atheist wanting to be a bad person.  It's just that an atheist's moral goal must be an arbitrary construct, since nature itself is silent when it comes to morals.  It is more like a preference, than anything.  But to me, that defies the "oughtness" of morality, which is so very central to it's definition.



I don't think we're quite on the same page yet.  I wouldn't necessarily term being 'Christian' without unnecessary beliefs a goal.  Here, in the 'Virus of the Mind' thread; http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000482.html  I discussed religion as an operating system and that's more or less the same point I'm trying to make here about Agnostic Christian (or Agnostic Jew).  

And I don't think nature is silent about morals.  When I was talking about being a cooperative species and the means to determine who is or isn't cooperating and the the need for 'justice' -- that's the natural trait that leads to what our ideas of morality are.  Certainly there may be arbitrary cultural traditions that become adopted as morals -- such as rioting in the streets to protest your prophet being depicted as violent (boy that really showed them didn't it?) or views regarding food, medicine, homosexuality -- but they all come back to some basic notions of good an evil.

Good -- preservation of life (human).  Evil -- destruction of life (human).  

While it doesn't really matter to the trees whether we kill each other or are eaten in the ocean by a killer whale -- it matters to us.  It is OUR nature.
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73 posted 02-09-2006 12:20 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch:
quote:
So as long as weíre good our religious beliefs donít matter, a good Muslim is equal to a good Christian whoís exactly on par with a good Atheist.

Superb, we really do agree.



That's not what I said. I was merely agreeing that actions are the real acid test, as to whether faith is real.  (The Bible also tells us that 'faith without works is dead').  Remember, you were, at the point that I said what I did, discussing Muslims and Christians, whom both profess faith in God.


quote:
Yep, guilty as charged but weíve already been through this, atheists admit that atheists do bad things, now how many true Christians\Muslims have blood on their hands?


I'm not sure.  But the Christians who do have blood on their hands, have acted hypocritically.  The Muslims, I feel, may have been acting more in accordance with their professed beliefs, as expressed in the Koran.  (I'm still not wholly sure on that question though ... I've got some more reading to do).


Still, my point is, while I think moral consistency matters (especially to those who are not), it is not a valid way to judge whether or not religious propositions are true, especially when those who are culpable are denying those very propositions by their actions.  (Christians).


I for one, have not lacked the privilege of having good Christian examples in my life, to counter the bad examples.  So I don't know how I would have reacted if I only had poor examples to observe.  Often personal offense will lead to irrational conclusions.  I do sympathize with those who reject Christ, out of offenses caused by religious people.      

quote:
Yes, the clue is in the term Ďin light of recent eventsí if you use Ďin light of previous eventsí the potential for barbarity on both sides looks roughly equal. You say Crusade they say Jihad (which is better on a good\bad scale btw)



I certainly can't defend the crusades, nor will I try.  Though it is debatable as to which religious history, in totality, is more bellicose, Christians do (by the very teachings of Christ) have a higher standard, and therefore a higher accountability to God and men.


quote:
So Christians are better than Muslims? Or is it that bad Christians are better than bad Muslims? What happened to all good people being equally good?


My statement was that Christianity (individuals must be considered individually), when believed and practiced, is better than Isalm, when believed and practiced.


LR:
quote:
I wouldn't necessarily term being 'Christian' without unnecessary beliefs a goal.  ...  in the 'Virus of the Mind' thread, I discussed religion as an operating system and that's more or less the same point I'm trying to make here about Agnostic Christian (or Agnostic Jew).



But you are reconfiguring Christian belief into your own schematic.  Operating systems are not true or false, in any real way.  They are tools to achieve a desired end.  The Christian core-beliefs have this funny insistence that they are true, not merely means to an end.  So those beliefs, to you, must be "unnecessary", if their veracity is not essential to your view on the proper function of religion.  Yes, I know you'll reply by saying that you still find some "truth" in the Christian tradition.  But not in the same sense as orthodox Christians do.  Scripture minus miracles equals an ethical philosophy, not a religion.  


Again, that's not how Einstein appeared to use the term "Agnostic Jew".  He is Jewish ethnically speaking, not religiously speaking.  Unless you can show otherwise.  His Moses was Spinoza.         His ethnicity and geneology qualify him as Jewish.  Your ethics do not qualify you as a Christian, on Christianity's terms.  Though I do concede that your ethic about loving your enemies is "Christian" in a descriptive, adjective sense of the word.


quote:
And I don't think nature is silent about morals.  When I was talking about being a cooperative species and the means to determine who is or isn't cooperating and the the need for 'justice' -- that's the natural trait that leads to what our ideas of morality are.  Certainly there may be arbitrary cultural traditions that become adopted as morals ... but they all come back to some basic notions of good an evil.

Good -- preservation of life (human).  Evil -- destruction of life (human).  

While it doesn't really matter to the trees whether we kill each other or are eaten in the ocean by a killer whale -- it matters to us.  It is OUR nature.


But aren't you begging the question?  From a Christian standpoint, moral sense is given by God.  At least you recognize the homogeneous nature of morals in societies ... I don't have to argue that point with you like others who insist that we're all so different in that regard.  Man is created in the imago dei, the image of God, therefore a moral awareness is part of who we are, as his unique creation.  


When you say that "nature" is not silent about morality, you are referring to humans alone.  But that's what is in question. In an atheistic paradigm are human morals simply arbitrary, or do they represent a real distinction between right and wrong, good and evil?  Yes we make the distinction, but you can't get "ought" from "is".


Your consensus view of morality is also flawed, in that the mob may be immoral too, if society grows increasingly immoral, what happens?  Do morals merely shift?  You say, that it has never happened in a totalistic way.  And you may be right about that (by God's grace).  But there's no logical reason why it couldn't.  If it did, would you have any recourse?  Would you simply acquiesce to the will of society?  If morals are merely a head count, then that is counter-intuitive to our common understanding of what morality is.    


If you say no.  I want to know why.  Would it be in the hope of regaining the majority?  If that's the case, you're holding a moral standard despite consensus, or projecting your moral choice into a more prospective future of communal support.  If you do the former, you are recognizing a law higher than society, or admitting complete arbitrariness.  If you do that latter, then we're back to "might makes right".  


Stephen.
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74 posted 02-09-2006 09:49 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Stephanos,

quote:
That's not what I said. I was merely agreeing that actions are the real acid test, as to whether faith is real.  (The Bible also tells us that 'faith without works is dead').  Remember, you were, at the point that I said what I did, discussing Muslims and Christians, whom both profess faith in God.


Are all people equally as good if they do equally good things? Or are you saying that a particular religious belief raises one above the others.

quote:
I'm not sure.  But the Christians who do have blood on their hands, have acted hypocritically.  The Muslims, I feel, may have been acting more in accordance with their professed beliefs, as expressed in the Koran.  (I'm still not wholly sure on that question though ... I've got some more reading to do).


This seems to suggest that itís better to be Christian than it is to be Muslim (and presumably Atheist) regardless of whether your actions are good or bad. I can understand that, youíre sat on the scale looking downhill at everybody to your right. Are Muslims who do good things doing them in spite of their religion whereas Christians who do good are acting in line with their religion? Are Christians generally more likely to be good than Muslims or Atheists or are all equally likely?


quote:
Still, my point is, while I think moral consistency matters (especially to those who are not), it is not a valid way to judge whether or not religious propositions are true, especially when those who are culpable are denying those very propositions by their actions.  (Christians).


Now you are sure Ė true believers arenít true believers if they do bad things, true believers canít have blood on their hands.

quote:
I certainly can't defend the crusades, nor will I try.  Though it is debatable as to which religious history, in totality, is more bellicose, Christians do (by the very teachings of Christ) have a higher standard, and therefore a higher accountability to God and men.


Your standards donít matter actions are the real acid test and a blow by blow account of each sides barbarity isnít necessary to prove that they are equally capable of barbarous acts in the name of religion. Itís easy to extrapolate from that and say that religion is the cause of such acts; fortunately we have a control group who arenít religious Ė Atheists. We could add weight to our argument that religion increases the chance of such acts if we can prove that Atheists are less likely to commit them. Hereís the rub though, religious people tend to deny that the perpetrators were truly religious.

 
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